Friday Fives

A fistful of comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports.

Buckle up; we could go airborne at any time.


By Steve Hummer / The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Rory loses his (U.S.) street cred


Because of a sports-related injury, defending British Open champion Rory McIlroy will miss next week’s tournament at St. Andrews.

He didn’t hurt himself busting a drive 340 yards downrange.

He didn’t get twisted up playing touch football at his Florida manse. Nor did he pull something in a quixotic, yet noble, attempt at dunking. Nor did he drive one of his Lamborghinis into a fireplug.

Any of those might have been understandable to his sizeable American following.

So, why did he have to put his immediate future at risk (torn ankle tendon) by playing soccer with a few of his mates? What a waste. But I guess some people enjoy that sort of thing.

Just a suggestion, Rory: How about kicking back rather than kicking it around for the five months that golf is really serious? That still gives you plenty of time to channel your inner Messi.

If only this was like most soccer injuries, McIlroy would have writhed on the ground for five minutes like he was mortally wounded – and then popped up as spry as a yearling colt.


How fast is too fast?

Assocaited Press

It is going to be spooky anytime a No. 3 car crashes at Daytona, now 14 years after Dale Earnhardt died at the close of the Daytona 500. But when Austin Dillon’s No. 3 went airborne at the finish of Sunday/Monday morning’s Coke Zero 400, the sport had an especially somber response.

By all accounts, the safety precautions already in place worked. Dillon was able to walk away from his devastated car. And the reinforced catch fence – beefed up after an Xfinity Series car flew into it two years ago – limited the damage in the seats to minor injuries.

>> More photos of Daytona crash

Still, as NASCAR was picking up the debris, drivers, who make their living trying to coax the last bit of speed from their rides, were talking about going too fast.

“I think the speeds are too high,” Dillon said, referring to the restrictor plate superspeedways – Daytona and Talladega. “Keep the cars on the ground – slowing us down would be the only way to do it. And even then, there are no guarantees,” six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said afterward.

Striking the balance between safety and fan-pleasing speed is always going to be an issue with this kind of racing. Added is the conundrum that the more speeds are restricted, the more the cars bunch together in highly combustible packs.

One solution seems simple enough: Shift the fan seating farther back from the edge of the track.

You don’t sit cross-legged right on the sideline at an NFL game. They don’t have standing room viewing areas inside the Plaza Mexico bullring. Certainly at tracks that are not selling out these days there is no reason to be sitting anywhere within easy range of flying debris.


What is the etiquette on when to hit a woman?


De’Andre Johnson initiated a wide-ranging discussion – on sports talk radio, and sporting web sites – on a disturbing topic: When is it OK to hit a woman?

Last year’s Mr. Football in Florida, Johnson got into a fracas with a young woman at a Tallahassee bar last week, one that he ended with a straight right to her face. As every human interaction is these days, it was all caught on video.

How grievous was Johnson’s punch? Florida State dismissed the young quarterback, and the Seminoles are more lenient than a ‘60s commune. I’ve read and heard some arguments that she “had it coming,” being belligerent and having thrown a punch herself.

Johnson’s attorney said she sprinkled in a racial epithet here and there. To that, I’d say just watch the video. The woman wasn’t armed, she was no real physical threat, and certainly no match for a football player. A real man just walks away. Let’s cool it on trying find justifications for the unjustifiable.

Johnson got exactly what was coming to him.


No A-ccolades for A-Rod

Associated Press

If you were really running low on causes, you could, I guess, get behind the Alex Rodriguez-should-be-in-the-All-Star-Game crusade. It would be a lonely endeavor.

His numbers say he should be in – that glitzy OPS around .900 and those 16 home runs.

But the fans certainly disagreed. Rodriguez even finished millions of votes behind another designated hitter who went through his own performance enhancing drug suspension, Nelson Cruz.

His peers were of no help, as he was shut out on the other venues to Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic.

Don’t despair for Rodriguez. This season certainly has proven his resilience. He’ll get over it. And this All-Star Game is so much about the future – with players like Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, Mike Trout and Joc Pederson front and center – who really wants to travel the detour through A-Rod’s past?


Nobody wants to play the Trump card anymore

Associated Press

Such widely different organizations as NASCAR and the PGA of America have recently turned their backs on Donald Trump for his ill-considered generalizations about Mexican immigrants.

Racing pulled its Truck Series banquet from Trump’s South Florida resort. And the PGA of America just announced it was moving its Grand Slam of Golf tournament from Trump’s Los Angeles course.

Other big golfing events are scheduled for Trump properties, like the annual WGC-Cadillac PGA Tour event at Doral, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and Senior PGA Championship and 2022 PGA Championship. No word yet as to whether the storm will pass in time to leave those tournaments untouched.

The good news: Plenty of good tee times look like they’ll be opening up at some plush courses. Just bring your clubs, credit card and proof of citizenship.


>> Read more of Steve Hummer's Friday musings