Monday, June 17, 2013

Opining on Mickleson, EJ Manuel, volunteerism, etc.

With four major victories and 41 wins on the PGA Tour, there’s no disputing that Phil Mickelson has had a great, great golf career. Yet, when all is said and done, Lefty’s legacy will be one of what might have been.

He’s come oh, so close to establishing himself as one of the best to ever swing a club.

                Sunday, Mickelson came up just short again, finishing second in the U.S. Open for the sixth time. Hard-luck Phil also has two other runner-up finishes at majors. A couple shots here and there and he would be mentioned in the same breath as the elite of the elite.

                Interestingly, Mickelson’s is nowhere near the top of the leaderboard when it comes to second-place finishes in majors. The man with the most silver medals in the big tournaments is none other than the Golden Bear himself, Jack Nicklaus, with 19.

                Big Jack finished second at the U.S. Open a record seven times, but he also won America’s national championship tournament four times, which is four more times than Phil has.

                Nicklaus, of course, also holds the record for most major victories, with 18. Just think about that for a minute. Had he dropped a few more putts, he’d be holding an even bigger major cushion over Tiger Woods, who’s been stuck at 14 since 2008.
                If EJ Manuel were to win the starting quarterback job in training camp, he would become the first Bills rookie to start at the position since Jim Kelly in 1986. And Kelly, we should point out, was 26 at the time, having spent two seasons in the old United States Football League. I think Kevin Kolb has a slight edge as of now, but with Tavares Jackson out of the picture, EJ will get ample opportunity to make his case at St. John Fisher College and during exhibition games.


                Two of my favorite volunteer events are the Challenger Baseball World Series and the Rochester Press-Radio Club Day of Champions Children’s Charities Dinner.

                 I participated in my 19th Challenger event Saturday morning at Frontier Field and walked away inspired once more. The highlight of the morning was watching a kid being led around the bases by a “buddy” and a seeing-eye dog. Close to 300 kids participated and there were almost as many volunteers assisting them. As I wrote on Facebook, “Every kid got a hit. Every kid scored a run. And every kid demonstrated the triumph of the human spirit.”

                The sixty-fourth Day of Champions dinner will be held tomorrow night at the Riverside Convention Center, and we’ve sold more than 1,000 tickets to black-tie gala. I helped edit the 72-page dinner program, will coordinate the pre-dinner press conference, then stage a question-and-answer session on stage with this year’s headliner, Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl quarterback. We’ve gone to the Q-and-A format the past two dinners with Eli Manning and Clay Matthews, and it’s been well-received. Looking forward to meeting Colin, who seems like a sincere young man who’s on the verge of super-stardom in the NFL.

                I’m proud to work with such a dedicated group of volunteers, headed by Pat Grover, Mike Kauffman and Keith Ryan. Our core group has been in place for about a decade, in which time we’ve raised more than a half-a-million dollars for local charities.


                The best story in minor league baseball – perhaps in all of baseball – this season has been unfolding in Rochester. Chris Colabello, the 29-year-old first baseman who toiled in the independent leagues for seven years before catching a break, continues to own International League pitchers. Through 56 games, Chris is hitting .369 with 21 doubles, 14 home runs and 50 RBI. I was so pleased to see him receive a call-up to the Minnesota Twins last month. He’s actually yo-yoed three times between Triple-A and the bigs so far, and probably will be up-and-down again several more times. I just wish the Twins would call him up and let him play 10 straight games to see if he can hit consistently on the big-league level.


                Here’s another sign the apocalypse is upon us: USC football coach Lane Kiffin recently offered a scholarship to an eighth-grader.