Ask Gary: How long will collapse eat at Spieth?

by Gary Shelton on April 16, 2016 · 3 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

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Saturday, 6 a.m.

In light of Jordan Spieth's epic collapse at the Masters', do you recall any players, in any sport,  whose career never recovered after a similar event​? How did Bill Buckner's career go after his World Series gaffe? By the way, I think Spieth will rebound even stronger in the future. Agree?
 
Barry McDowell
There have been a few similar collapses. Greg Norman comes to mind back in 1996. He won a couple of tournaments in '97, but he faded fairly quickly after that. I remember some comedian commenting after Bill Clinton tripped in Norman's home. He said "We know it wasn't on a green jacket."
The next example would be Mark Wohlers, who looked like greatness in '96 until he gave up a home run to Jim Leyritz. He never got over it. There are some who write him off as another victim of the "Steve Blass disease," a condition where players lose the ability to throw a ball straight.
Tennis player Andy Roddick looked like he was going to be something in the '99 Wimbledon finals, but he lost to Roger Federer 16-14 in the final set. He wasn't quite the same after that.
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Of course, there were golfers like Jean Van de Velde, but really, he was out of his league when he almost won the British. I'm not sure he would have ever been heard of even if he wins that one.
I'm in the press room of the Lightning typing this. A friend of mine suggests that Jana Novotna's collapse against Steffi Graf in 1993 was, essentially, the end of her. She won a couple of majors after that, but no one remembers them.
But I agree with you. I think Spieth gets it back. I know a lot of his critics are saying this will scar him, but I think he'll be fine. It isn't like he got kicked in the face or had a car wreck. He's young, and his game is solid. I think he shakes this off pretty easily. I think he'll win a major this year, in fact. And he'll win a ton of money.
As far as teams, I'd suggest the Buffalo Bills weren't the same after the Giants stopped them in their first Super Bowl. They got worse and worse in the big games after Bill Parcells schooled Marv Levy.

The Rays should have traded Chris Archer last year when they still could have gotten some value in return. True or false?

Howard Powders

I'm going to say false, and I know that Archer is struggling as I say it. But a team can't trade away its best players when they're under friendly contracts. It can't see the future. I know it's easy to say in hindsight, but at the time, I don't think it's the way for a team to construct itself.

I'm not sure that the return for Archer, a sub-.500 pitcher for his career, would be quite what you think. Yes, he has terrific stuff, but eventually, he has to put that together. You wouldn't get a team of young stars for him.

That said, I still think Archer is worth a flier. One of my problems with the Rays is that they are eternally growing prospects for other teams. I always answer questions like this in this way: What would I have written on the day they traded Archer away? They had better get a team of sluggers in return, or I hate the deal.

But that's just me.

Have you ever had writer's block or any other event that caused you to miss your story deadline?

Scott Myers

Probably. If you write as often as I have, you're going to be up against deadline for every reason imaginable. I've sat over the keyboard and begged for the words to come, but they just wouldn't.

I don't think I ever completely missed one, though. Late, sure. But generally, I was pretty good on deadline, even though some of them were ridiculous. I remember being at a Stanley Cup final and being told by a copy editor that he was giving me 15 minutes to write so he would have 15 minutes to edit. My response was that Pat Conroy took eight years to write a book;  his editors didn't get eight years to read it.

The hardest game to cover of my career was the Monday night game between the Bucs and Colts in 2006, the one where the Bucs collapsed and eventually, ended their golden era. Usually, I wrote on a split screen. If the team won, I was going to say this. If they lost, I was going to say that. But it was impossible to write that game. I was writing something like the Gruden-Kiffin combo was better than the Dungy-Kiffin one. Not only was I late, I was stupid.

The other hard game I remember was the Magic losing at the free throw line in the playoffs. Think about how hard that is, to write something that makes sense on the fly. You walk around thinking you were horrible, but it was still better than the people who make deadlines deserve. I always wonder how much time the theater critic had to write the night Lincoln was shot. Fifteen minutes? Twenty?

When I was with the Herald, I had to write Doug Williams' Super Bowl at the start of the third quarter. No lie. And the boss fussed at me because my lead was the same as one of our columnists who didn't have to write for two hours. The editor apologized later, but that struck me as stupid.

I was at a World Series game once, and a writer had a meltdown talking to his editor. He was swearing and shouting and fuming, and finally he slammed down the phone. I said loudly "Can you call my boss for me?''

But, yeah, Ive had writer's cramp. Usually, it manifested itself into copy I could have written better. I usually turned in something, but sometimes, I'd lay awake for hours rewriting it.

The 2016-17 NFL season schedule is out. I've got them going 2-14 and my fellow Idaho State Bengal alumn Dirk Koetter's could be gone after one season.  But I've been a Bucs' follower since the John "Execution? I'm all for it" McKay days and have a constant gloomy outlook. Knowing that the draft hasn't even occurred, key injuries haven't occurred, and we don't know how the opponents will line up,  are you willing to take a stab at a prediction? Which games stand out to you as being extra-interesting match-ups for the Bucs?

Rick Martin

2-14? Wow. Did the Glazers run over your cat?

I'll say this: If Dirk Koetter goes 2-14, the Glazers might pull the plug on him. Anything more, even three wins, and he gets a second year. But this franchise has proven it will fire a coach on a minute's notice. Heck, maybe they'll promote Mike Smith before letting him take a head job elsewhere.

Here's why my own prediction is kinder: Jameis Winston. I really think the kid has something, and because of it, they'll steal a couple of games you wouldn't think. Good quarterbacks make things possible.

Still, this is a tough schedule. The Bucs play nine games against the top 11 offenses in the league. They play in San Francisco, where they have been dreadful. They play against the Raiders and Cowboys, who should be better.

I'd call it 6-10, a game down from what I've been saying. Put it this way: Say the Bucs go 0-6 in the six games against double-digit winners. That leaves 10 games against teams your size. I'm calling that at 6-4. I think they'll lose to Dallas (which has Romo back), Oakland (very improved), San Francisco (they always play horrible in San Francisco) and one of the New Orleans games. That means they sweep Atlanta again, which I'm not sure of. If they lose one to Atlanta, they have to upset someone.

When Drouin pulled his crybaby stuff, I wanted him gone.   But, I have to give credit to the kid.  He is playing hard. I have seen more banging from him than I ever expected to see.   Now, I am hoping that he and the team can reconcile permanently.   What do you think?
 
Jim Willson
I think you're representative of the Lightning crowd. Drouin couldn't have been elected skate-cleaner in his holdout days. But after his grand pout didn't work, he came back and worked. And you know  what? He is playing as if he had a point all along. Maybe he did deserve more time. He just picked a bad way to make those arguments.
Success is a funny thing. Everyone loves everyone. So I think it works out with Drouin. Here's the strange thing: I especially believe it will work out with him if it doesn't work out with Steven Stamkos. In that situation, the Bolts would need him more.
It just shows you that there is a cost to a holdout. You only do it if you are sure you have leverage. Drouin had none. As a result, he had no affection. Now that he's earned some, I'd advise him not to throw it away.
 I have already been to two Rays games where the attendance was 10,000.   This isn't the dog days of summer; it's the beginning of the season.  Living in downtown St. Pete, I was hoping that they would stay, but I am losing hope.   Put aside the bridge and traffic. I look around St. Pete and see all the boats and nice houses. Downtown is booming.  There is money here.   I don't expect NYC crowds, but 10,000,   What say you?
Jim Willson
If you've been to two games already, they should buy you Cracker Jack. You're loyal!
I've always been disappointed with the crowds here. I remember in the early 90s, a bunch of us went to an Arena League game at the Trop (Dome in those days), and the fans just flooded in. I thought there would be no way baseball would fail here.
You'll hear that kids are still in school. But aren't they in school elsewhere? You hear there is so much to do. Aren't there things to do in New  York or Boston? Baseball just hasn't worked with the stadium where it is. I'm ready to try another site as long as it isn't Montreal.
I used to play a lot of golf, and there are huge houses on the courses. Someone has money. A disappointing crowd should be 20,000, not 10,000. Of course, it doesn't help when the team plays poorly, which it has. For the average fan, there just aren't many players worth paying to see.

In MLB, the home team makes the call to warm up starters, start a game or not (based on the weather) as I understand it. Why is that? Seems to me that could be manipulated by the home team, say, to get an ace on the other team fully warmed up for a game that isn't going to be played due to weather. Why doesn't the umpire make the start call? After all, they make the delay and stop calls.

Cecil DeBald

I actually looked up the rule. The umpires take over the game when the lineup cards are handed to them just before the first pitch. Until the umps take over, the home team is in charge (like last week's game against Baltimore).

I've never heard of a team manipulating the starting pitcher like that. I think they're too busy corking bats.

I suppose you could put the umps in charge sooner. What would be your solution?

For the last 5-6 years anyway, the Rays have had a philosophy - Pitching, defense and flexibility of position players. Seems to me there has been a tweaking of that philosophy this season, can you describe the Rays' philosophy today, if you agree that it has been tweaked? Will it work?

Cecil DeBald

You're right. The Rays altered their blueprint last year. They decided that they needed more pop. It's why Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce are here instead of James Loney.

So the Rays tweaked. Right now, it hasn't paid off. Perhaps it will. But the team misses Loney desperately. It could use a better shortstop.

Look at your recipe. The pitching (starting) hasn't been as good. The defense hasn't been as good. The flexibility isn't as great. And the Rays are struggling.

That shouldn't surprise us. The most expensive thing in the game are big bats. I don't know how many hits Loney would have by now, but I bet it would be more than the two Morrison has.

Well, the Lightning are off and running, so it's as good of time as any to ask what you think the future holds for Stamkos and Drouin - in terms of the Lightning team in 2016-17.

Cecil DeBald

I would hope they're both back. But right now, I would bet against Steven Stamkos. Someone will overpay for him.

I think Drouin gets invigorated by his return. I think he'll want to stay, and Steve Yzerman would want even more for him in a trade.

I hope I'm wrong about Stamkos. But I'm afraid he's done.

Do you think well see a new defense from Mike Smith, or same one he ran at Atlanta?

Nick Houllis

You know this as well as I do. But it is a coach's job to adapt to his players, so I'm sure Smith will have some nuances to fit with this team: Excellent linebacking, decent defensive interior play, suspect corners (even now).

By and large, Darryl Smith told us in a press conference the other day that was essentially the same defense he ran in Jacksonville. A little more aggressive, a little more blitzing, etc.

My hope is that the defensive backs are better. The team was obviously struggling to find pieces. Was that coaching (including Lovie's kid)? Was it players?

I know this: There are some pretty good offenses on that schedule. I don't care if Mike Smith has a new defense. Just that the Bucs don't have the same old one.

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cecil DeBald April 16, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Appreciated your answer to Scott regarding writer’s block, I’ve written some to deadlines, nothing like what you do, but could identify a bit with it. Regarding the start of the baseball game, I think the Umpire should take charge of the game 1 hour before first pitch, and make all decisions regarding warming up pitchers, taking off the tarp, etc. In the old days without much weather data, the team probably had a better feel for the chances of getting the game in or not, but today the umpire crew has as much information as it needs at hand. Let them make the call.

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Rick Martin April 16, 2016 at 9:42 am

Interesting reading. I enjoy you Ask Gary column mostly. This week’s writer’s block response was particularly enjoyable.

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Howard Powders April 16, 2016 at 9:10 am

It’s not just the small crowds that make attending a Rays game, depressing.
It’s the majority of “fans” rooting for the opposing team, time after time.
It’s the enclosed stadium, looking more like it should be a circus tent.
There is nothing like baseball being played out in the open, on real grass!!

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