MY PITCH by ALEX SPONSELLER, SPORTS EDITOR

Champions for Charity golf match a hit

Posted 5/27/20

Like millions of other Americans, I spent much of Sunday afternoon tuning into the charity golf match between Team Tiger Woods-Peyton Manning and Team Phil Mickelson-Tom Brady. Woods-Manning came out on top by one hole, but the important part is that the

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MY PITCH by ALEX SPONSELLER, SPORTS EDITOR

Champions for Charity golf match a hit

Posted

Like millions of other Americans, I spent much of Sunday afternoon tuning into the charity golf match between Team Tiger Woods-Peyton Manning and Team Phil Mickelson-Tom Brady.

Woods-Manning came out on top by one hole, but the important part is that the project raised millions of dollars for COVID-19 relief. What a fun idea and great cause.

During a time where sports are dry and options are beyond limited, I love the fact that a few of these stars teamed up to not only scratch that sports itch for Americans but to also do it in a way to help those in need. Hopefully, this will be the start of a trend that moving forward or at least as long as we are prisoners to this pandemic.

As for the sport, it may have been the only time that we have ever, or will ever, see Brady be a liability to his team. Sure, he hit a few big shots and improved on the back nine, but the first nine? Yuck.

Between missed fairways, time in the woods, the water, the sand, missing putts, Brady had a rough go in the first few holes. Luckily, Mickelson was pretty on-point and was able to keep the duo within striking distance.

Down the stretch, I really thought we would see the typical Brady fire be lit and watch him close the gap take control with help from his partner. Like I said, he turned his game around and came up with a few nice shots on the back of the course, but it was too little, too late.

Honestly, the biggest takeaway from the actual sporting aspect of the event for me was Manning’s performance. Prior to tee-off, Woods mentioned that they played together quite a bit and that Manning has improved a lot over the past few years, especially since his retirement from football in 2015.

You could tell immediately that he belonged, and at times, even looked like he could compete with Woods and Mickelson.

Let’s not get crazy, if this was an actual match with all the chips on the table, Woods and Mickelson would comfortably be in the first and second spot. But the fact that Manning was so consistent and went toe to toe with the three other players was quite impressive. I have a feeling that this won’t be the last time we see Manning on the course, I could totally see him continue to compete in these celebrity or charity tournaments and even win a few.

As for Brady, maybe hold off on golf until retirement. Not to bash his performance too much, he still is a better golfer than I am by far, but maybe now set your sights on ring No. 7 with your new team in Tampa. Of course, this was for a great cause and my cap is tipped to him, I am just poking fun … but honestly, it was still a little strange seeing him struggle like that.

Once again, the sport is just a secondary piece to this event. Thank you to the four athletes as well as everyone else involved for giving struggling Americans relief as well as something fun to watch.

Another fun event that I was fortunate to take part of last week was a ZOOM conference call with members of the 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox that was organized by the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.

On the call were executives Larry Lucchino, Charles Steinberg, as well as players Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Longtime team broadcaster Joe Castiglione served as the moderator of the call. During the event, the members all recapped the historic 2013 season and gave some behind the scenes stories of their championship run.

Of all of the 21st century Boston sports teams, this one is definitely toward the top of my list of favorites.

If you recall, heading into the season, the Sox were coming off a last-place 2012 finish, in a season that was highly unsuccessful on the field and was plagued by a lack of team chemistry in the club house.

In 2013, that changed, as the team brought in a handful of veterans like Gomes and Victorino, not because of their talent, but because of their competitive nature and team-first attitude. Most experts believed that this was an average team considering it was made up of a lot of post-prime veterans as well as guys, like Gomes, who were not All-Stars. On paper, this team was just OK.

Lo and behold, this team’s chemistry became a strength, and this unlikely, bearded bunch of average Joe’s took first place in the American League East and gutted out a hard-fought postseason run which ended with a title. What a story.

On top of it, that April was the marathon bombing, which also became a huge source of inspiration and motivation for this team. The players wanted to give the city something to celebrate, and boy did it.

To see these players still keep in touch and do events like this is awesome to see, and not all that surprising considering how tight-knit they all were during this season. Of course, much due to age and short-term contracts, the band was broken up soon after. However, the impact that this team made in one season was incredible and will always be one of my favorite groups in Boston sports history.

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