The return of Weekly Links is about to arrive with the football season due to commence.

But how about if we get started a few weeks early with one link — my work landing in the New York Times.

Decided to check to see how a story I wrote on women’s golfer Lexi Thompson read and I was surprised at where the Google search took me.

The story was on the New York Times website — https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/08/15/sports/15reuters-golf-lpga-thompson-struggles.html

You may remember from last fall that I don’t get excited about my stories landing on ESPN (at least 300 previews in 2016-17) or any of the other leading sports websites. But it is a different feel when you see your work on the New York Times.

Doesn’t matter to me that my name isn’t on the top of the story. In this case, one of the companies that distributes content to hundreds of places is listed in the byline field.

Works for me.

I hadn’t bothered to check for any of my work on the New York Times website since moving to my current company at the start of 2018. Honestly, I was just glad I was ahead of the curve and prevented myself from taking a major pay hit. The fact I have maintained and increased my income level was more important than where the stories land.

But hey, great thing to know as the football season kicks into gear. Would rather link previews from the NY Times than from some newspaper website that about 42 people visit all day.

As for Lexi Thompson, that story — which took all of 25 minutes to research and write as one of 11 stories I wrote that day — was intriguing as most sports fans don’t think of athletes as humans with human problems.

That she was having trouble coping with life at age 23 — her mother battled uterine cancer last year — is no major sin. The fact she sought out therapy to help her figure things out is something most people in her age group wouldn’t do.

As Thompson says, “ I’m not just a robot out there. I need to have a life.”

People don’t realize what a golfer’s life is like. One tournament ends Sunday and they are typically flying to the next one on Monday. Pretty sure Lexi hears about her friends out dancing or going to the movies on Friday and Saturday nights while she is trying to get to bed in a timely manner in some hotel room or guest house for the next morning’s tee time.

Seems like her short hiatus was prompted by the fact that she began to realize that there is more to life than knocking down putts.

So yeah, Weekly Link this time … Weekly Links when football season begins.

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Vacations come by seldom and speed by quickly.

What lasts for years is the famous Vacation by Tweets.

This is the seventh annual version of the tradition, which chronicles all the fun I have when I return home to the paradise of San Diego.

Should I forget what year Tim Lincecum no-hit the Padres, all I have to do is sort through past versions of Vacation by Tweets on this stellar website.

Of course, I never forget that I have witnessed two no-hitters. One by Lincecum in 2013 and one by Bud Smith in 2001.

I did see some history on the latest vacation — nicknamed #heatwave for the hot temps awaiting me — as Albert Pujols of the Angels homered twice to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the all-time list.

That night also meant Mike Trout and I were in the same ballpark at the same time. As far as I know, that is just the second time that happened — the other being the 2016 All-Star Game in San Diego.

As for the Padres, they went 0-3 on my visits to Petco Park. They are not very good. But we all kind of knew that before I arrived in San Diego.

Anyway, it is time to sit back and enjoy the fun as we relive the fun and hot #heatwave vacation.

 

JULY 5

Night before vacation and don’t have a name for it … but people in SoCal keep saying I am bringing a #Heatwave with me so perhaps we are on to something. 

JULY 6

My vacation officially named #Heatwave … going to be like traveling to Phoenix in March as opposed to summer in San Diego.

A rambunctious 2-year-old next to me on the plane. Only a matter of time before I get hit in the face with something. #heatwave

Congrats to @AlaskaAir for my flight landing 11 minutes early. #Heatwave vacation.

105 degrees & out-of-control wildfire in Alpine … #heatwave vacation living up to its name.

Great to watch well-done TV wildfire coverage. The #SanDiego media are well too familiar with covering these events. Heck, I am a two-time evacuee from my #SoCal days. Scary stuff. #heatwave vacation

Wow, reports of LOOTERS invading houses burned down by wildfire in Alpine … Who even thinks of looting homes ravaged by fire. Not good. #heatwave vacation

Wait, I’m on vacation home & @DagmarNBCSD is OFF? During a heatwave? Nooooooooo. Every July, I look forward to her terrific weather segments. No cookie cutter stuff. Great personality. Hope to catch her on TV next week. #heatwave vacation

JULY 7

The #Padres have allowed 20 runs tonight … I am soooooo looking forward to making it to Petco Park during the #heatwave vacation … #SaidNoOne

JULY 8

Had famous #MonaLisa pizza Sunday night for dinner. Another traditional highlight of a trip home. #heatwave vacation

Four Sunday deaths make the TV news … five people rescued at sea … big wildfire almost out … just another day in the Big City … #heatwave vacation

JULY 9

Apparently I didn’t do anything too exciting as there are no tweets to be found.

JULY 10

Almost got smacked in face by disc frisbee here on #heatwave vacation. Felt like the three close calls in #Boise … except this time there was an apology.

JULY 11

Good time at Petco Park but the wrong team won: #Dodgers 4, Padres 2 … More baseball to come … #heatwave vacation

Hey, there we go, the amazing @DagmarNBCSD doing the weather. Annual vacation must-watch segment … #heatwave vacation

JULY 12

Road trip tonight on the #heatwave vacation … let’s see where I end up.

Give me a bat. James Paxton has zero on those pitches. Pretty sure I could take him deep at Angel Stadium… #heatwave vacation

Feel blessed to have made it back to #SanDiego from Orange County … 90-minute period from 11 p.m-12:30 a.m. PT was crazy on the highways, feel like I just raced Daytona, Indy & 24 hours of LeMans back-to-back-to-back.

JULY 13

#Padres were playing the infield in … in the second inning … to protect a 1-0 lead … very odd.

Eric Hosmer is 0-for-4 to drop to .247 … and single digits in homers (nine) … lot of money being paid for that non-production.

Going to be a lot of unhappy fans leaving Petco Park tonight at this rate — because 75 percent of people here are #Cubs fans.

#Padres put their best player in the game. #BradHand

Crowd so loud you’d think #Cubs just won World Series as opposed to tying #Padres

#Padres best player doesn’t deserve a #Hand tonight

This pro-Cubs crowd is kinda of like half the #Chargers games their last few years in San Diego. Noise was deafening when #Cubs just went ahead.

Do I have to give up my #NativeSanDiego card if somebody recognized me while leaving Petco Park & said: “I know you. You’re from my neck of the woods in Boise, Idaho?” 

JULY 14

You kind of forget how early all the MLB games end on the West Coast … until you are back on the West Coast.

JULY 15

Congrats to me for missing the #WorldCup final! Sleeping in on the West Coast comes through with an extra benefit. #heatwave vacation

#Padres are another way of saying Little Leaguers

OMG … someone just said this to him: “That’s an awesome jersey.”

Congrats #Padres … worst record in NL at the All-Star break!

Peak #Cubs immaturity on the trolley … might be time for the famous “How did the 1984 NLCS go for you guys?”

JULY 16

Parking ranges from $22 to $50 at Sea World. Assuming one of the attractions is an #NFL game. … #heatwave vacation

OK, on my timeline of 90-percent sports people and can’t find any sports. All politics. So I know from past experiences that this means Trump was once again a dumb-dumb without even looking for a news story.

JULY 17

Third In-N-Out visit on one vacation … sorry, no burger pics this time.

Interview translation: Bryce Harper isn’t returning to the #Nationals

Players can take their cell phones on the field at All-Star Game?

“Keep the mic on, Matt” … “have some guts” … Geez, Joe Buck sounds like a 9-year-old attending his first game.

Joe Buck with the “I don’t think I’ve seen anybody in the last 15 years …” … #DRINK

Guess I need to search “Josh Hader” to see why people are mad at him. I just thought it was for blowing an exhibition game.

“I’ll murder your family!” Josh Hader once proudly exclaimed. Dude might be the next Charles Manson.

How can there only be one day left in the #heatwave vacation?
It was just July 6 about 36 hours or so ago.
 

JULY 18

90 degrees & high humidity here on final day of #heatwave vacation

#Heatwave vacation … over.

 JULY 19

 JULY 20

The MLB games tonight aren’t cooperating so the annual Vacation by Tweets won’t be circulated until Saturday. The management apologizes. 

The San Diego Padres are not a good baseball team.

If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, laugh at them. Or throw your drink on them. I don’t advocate punching them but do what you need to do to stifle that nonsense.

The Padres (40-59) are the worst team in the National League as we reach the All-Star break. And they deserve the moniker of being the NL’s worst squad.

That is one pretty bad baseball team I saw three times in one week at Petco Park.

The Padres went 0-3 with me in the ballpark and I know without a doubt that it wasn’t my presence messing things up. They made Little League miscues on Friday and Sunday — the one on Friday gifting the Chicago Cubs the winning run in the 10th inning.

Closer Brad Hand, the best player in the organization, blew the save on Friday with one strike to go in a would-be victory. The biggest problem is he hit a stiff named Victor Caratini (who seemed upset but should have been thanking the heavens) before allowing Anthony Rizzo’s game-tying double.

One inning later, Javier Baez attempted to steal second base. Catcher Austin Hedges’ throw was high and bounced into center field. Baez took off toward third and Padres center fielder Manuel Margot muffed the ball like a nine-year-old seeing one come his way for the first time in a Little League game.

Baez scored and the Cubs’ fans occupying 75 percent of the seats at Petco Park went wild.

On Sunday, Chicago’s Kris Bryant didn’t come close to hitting the ball out of the infield but wound up at third base as both Hedges and right fielder Hunter Renfroe made throwing errors.

Did I mention Little League?

“There were some ugly moments,” Padres manager Andy Green told the San Diego media members who were described as “soft” by an MLB Network analyst earlier this month. “Some very ugly moments in the game today, and tough to stomach from a manager’s perspective.”

Got to be tough to stomach writing out a lineup card each day.

Prized offseason acquisition Eric Hosmer is batting just .249 and that lowly mark is the fifth-best average of players with more than 100 at-bats. He needs to do a better job earning the rest of his $144 million.

Wil Myers, who is in the second season of an $83 million deal, has played just 33 games due to time spent on the disabled list. Yet he still ranks third on the team with eight homers.

As for the pitching, all you need to know is San Diego’s top two starters are Clayton Richard and Tyson Ross. Both were rescued from the scrap heap.

Now that I ponder it a bit, I am surprised this team has won 40 games.

Heck, the Padres once went 68-93 with future Hall of Famers Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Rollie Fingers and Gaylord Perry all on the team.

Among the others players on that 1979 team were former Cy Young winner Randy Jones, Mickey Lolich, Gene Richards and Gene Tenace.

So um, who is the fourth best player on this Padres’ team?

I guess you are choosing between Freddy Galvis, Christian Villanueva and Renfroe.

You know, the Padres have been requesting time to build a team for a long time now. And there is no longer $5 admission and you saw the effects over the weekend when mostly Cubs’ fans paid $40 or $70 or $100 per seat.

The Padres are on the fast track to their eighth straight losing season and 12th in a row of missing the playoffs. This is their 50th season and they have made the postseason all of five times.

Let that sink in — five of 50 seasons.

You study the current group and listen to the prospect rhetoric — oh yeah, don’t listen to that nonsense. The Padres are famous for boasting about phenoms and funny how many times that doesn’t work out.

Remember when sports-talk clown Hank Bauer guaranteed Juan Melo would be the best shortstop in Padres history? Yeah, he never played one game for the team … he had 13 career major-league at-bats (all in 2000 for the San Francisco Giants).

That’s the thing about prospects. This is baseball. First-round picks don’t pan out. Heck, Mike Trout was the 25th pick of the 2009 draft.

That there is all you need to know about prospects — that is a lot of organizations deciding somebody was better than Mike Trout.

The Padres took Donavan Tate third overall in that draft. Never came close to reaching the majors. I saw him strike out in short-season rookie ball in 2013 — he was at that low caliber of play while just shy of his 23rd birthday — and got blown away by some kid fresh out of high school.

But the Padres gushed about him and everybody else followed suit. And he was a colossal bust … and some of the current Padres’ prospects being raved about will turn out to be failures too.

One guy who is in the majors now that concerns me is Margot.

He must look good at other times when I’m not watching. But he kind of looks like a time-waster to me. The Padres went through that earlier this decade for way too long with Cameron Maybin.

Hopefully, San Diego moves on after 2019 if the light doesn’t come on for Margot.

The Padres won’t want to give up on him because he’s the best of the four players they got from the Boston Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel.

They don’t want the deal to be like Huston Street to the Angels — getting four players who aren’t on this not-so-hard roster to make.

But let’s get back to the current team — the one holding the “We are Worst in the NL” banner.

This team isn’t good. It is bad. Worse, it is not showing the type of progress that was expected this season.

Heck, let’s let Green have his say, courtesy of the people who sometimes quote managers accurately and sometimes don’t.

“Frustrating. Not where I thought we’d be. Not where I want to be,” Green said. “I take ownership of that. It’s my team. It’s our team. We expect to play better than we’ve played. I think everyone in the clubhouse expects to play better from a win-loss perspective.”

Sorry Padres’ fans … you are going this whole decade without once reaching the playoffs. And the start of next decade isn’t looking too promising.

 

The 2008 U.S. Open was a fantastic event to cover.

Hard to believe it is already the 10th anniversary of the best event I ever covered.

Eat your heart out, Super Bowls. Stand in the corner, World Series. And you, college sporting events, are definitely smalltime.

Sorry Michael Phelps and U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials. Sad to say even the Rose Bowl doesn’t top the list.

Oh Maui Invitational, not even you. Despite spending 4 1/2 days in paradise.

The winner in a clear rout is the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

What a spectacular event. What a terrific week. What a career highlight.

And yeah, about 5,000 times less hassle than Super Bowl Week.

Torrey Pines South was immaculate, much sharper and brighter than the usually stellar condition it was in for regular PGA events. And with the famous cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean next to the course on a sun-splashed day, it was hard to get me to go back to the media workroom even when it was time for free food (oh yeah, more on the workroom later).

Ten years later, it is still summed up the same way it was then: What a memorable five days and 91 holes of golf.

Even more memorable now that it still remains the last major title won by Tiger Woods.

Hard to forget all the limping around the course he did and those occasional gasps and grabbing of his left knee after he hit a shot due to the pain in his leg.

Woods prevented Rocco Mediate from winning in 72 holes by knocking in the clutch birdie putt that lipped the hole before dropping in on 18. He fist-pumped so hard I was surprised his arm didn’t fly off and join me in the bleachers right above the hole.

Then Woods battled Mediate for 19 holes on the Monday playoff round and just when it appeared Mediate was going to earn the biggest achievement of his career, Woods sunk a birdie putt on 18 (hole 90) to force a sudden death playoff.

I had rushed to the seventh hole – site of the playoff – and was in good position for the ending. That being able to go inside the ropes thing when you are a media member is pretty handy.

Sometimes it is hard to spot the golf ball when it is struck from 300 yards in front of you but I could immediately tell Mediate’s second shot was a disaster. It landed in the grandstands on the side of the course and that pretty much sealed the deal. A short time later, Woods knocked in the winning putt and it was time to head to the interview area and then on to the workroom.

You knew it was a major deal in the moment — heck, it is the U.S. Open — but everything became even bigger when it was revealed a few days later that Woods was playing with a broken leg and that his knee injury was actually a torn ACL.

It sunk in immediately like, ‘Tiger won a major at Torrey Pines with a torn ACL and a broken leg.’

It is an ever bigger story here in 10-year anniversary week since it remains Woods’ last major title.

As per covering it, wow, it exceeded all my expectations. Yahoo Sports! made a deal with our newspaper and each day one of our stories were featured on the Yahoo website. Three of the five days, it was my story selected, and I’m not even a golf writer.

Pretty sure it came down to the topic and the quality of writing.

I found two of the articles just searching around but when I paste them here in a link, they are dead. A third one, about Phil Mickelson melting down on the 13th hole, is a dead link from the start.

Oh yeah, so while I was hustling all over Torrey Pines for five days getting great scene-setting material and live tidbits and seeing things from 20 feet away that others either saw on television or never saw, there were at least 50 reporters that never left the media workroom.

Nobody is expecting these guys and gals to walk all 18 holes for five straight days but spending the entire tournament in the workroom — in immaculate weather mind you, not frigid or humid conditions — at the FREAKING U.S. OPEN is a disservice to their viewers or readers.

So great, those guys saw exactly what the TV viewer did and got the same media pack quotes every other reporter did but your golf fanatic wants a deeper storyline and craves more than what he or she watched on TV.

I feel for those guys because they missed one great time out on the Torrey Pines course. A few of them could have shed some pounds with all that walking around. Ohhh, got it, being there to pile in more cholesterol-loaded bites in the stomach trumps being where the action is.

Can you imagine somebody covering the NBA Finals spending the entire game underneath the stands in a media workroom? Apparently, some of the golf reporters do that every single week.

No wonder most golf articles are among the most boring in all of sports.

Regardless, it was the best event I covered for a newspaper that no longer exists. I covered Super Bowls, World Series, Olympic trials, national team soccer, Maui Invitational, more than a dozen college bowl games, over 35 NCAA basketball tournament games, double-digit NFL playoff games, college football games at Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, etc., not to mention games in more than half of the NFL stadiums.  (Probably forgetting some things too).

But guess what? Covering the 2008 U.S. Open will forever be known as the best sporting event I ever covered.

I keep hearing that LeBron James doesn’t have a supporting cast.

Like to the point where you can picture the Cleveland Cavaliers’ starting five consisting of James, a welder, the Tooth Fairy, a bus driver and an elk.

The Sixth Man could probably be Indians manager Terry Francona, though I suspect that kind of exertion might not be good for his heart.

Silly to think those five could help LeBron win a title, right?

Just as silly as saying the guy reached the NBA Finals without a supporting cast.

LeBron is about to become a free agent. If you want to see him without a supporting cast, the solution is easy:

Have him sign with the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns or Brooklyn Nets.

He probably couldn’t make the playoffs with any of those ragged rosters … apologies to Devin Booker, not his fault the Suns are atrocious.

Gosh, having the Tooth Fairy as one of your teammates is better than having anyone on the Brooklyn Nets show up at tip-off.

Hopefully, the no-supporting cast nonsense will end but hard to halt that stuff once the social-media clowns start getting worked up about it.

And it will rev right back up like a volcano in Hawaii should the Warriors start beating up the Cavaliers.

Oh yeah, the stellar national Game 1 preview can be found here — http://content.sportsdirectinc.com/basketball/nba-preview.aspx?page=/data/NBA/matchups/g5_preview_1.html

People also are whining that the Warriors and Cavaliers are meeting in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season.

So what, are one of the teams just supposed to give up their spot to appease people?

The Toronto Raptors were once again the pretenders we all know they are, and the Boston Celtics didn’t have enough to close out the Cavaliers.

Same with the Houston Rockets. They pointed all season toward ending Golden State’s reign and they crumbled when everything was on the line.

I know, Chris Paul got hurt. Good for him because this time he can avoid the folding under the pressure label.

The right two teams are in the final and both teams have a supporting cast.

Not good for Cleveland that five-time All-Star Kevin Love will likely miss the opener with a concussion. Wait, did I say five-time All-Star?

That is a pretty good start for a supporting cast, huh?

Let me know how many five-time All-Stars the Orlando Magic have on their roster.

I write between 10 to 15 stories a day depending on the length of my shift and how much breaking news erupts.

The only problem with such a heavy dose of assignments is I couldn’t tell you what stories I wrote two weeks ago today without looking them up.

NFL signings, college basketball players applying for the NBA draft, baseball players getting injured, tennis recaps … they just seem to blend in.

Then every once in a while, there is something that stands out.

Like Tiger Woods taking a moment to offer support to lung cancer fighter Shane Caldwell.

Woods met up with Caldwell before Thursday’s opening round of the Masters after finishing up some practice shots on the driving range. He approached with his trademark smile, signed a golf glove and wished the 52-year-old Caldwell the best.

But it didn’t feel like just another story to me as I knew some of the background behind it — due to the power of social media.

A couple tweets from a young lady named Jordan Miller came through my timeline earlier this week and they were really quite impressive. Miller was working Twitter hard to get the word out that it was her stepfather’s dream to meet Woods.

And since her stepfather has stage 4 lung cancer, the one thing repeatedly jumping out was this: This Masters might be Caldwell’s last chance to meet Tiger.

When you think of how many people reach out to Woods each year, the odds of such a meeting weren’t high. Then factor in that it is Masters week and it was super-duper clear that Jordan was tackling quite a task.

But she kept relentlessly working the scene and interacting with people who were all strangers to her just two and three days earlier. And finally, someone passed on word to the Tiger Woods Foundation, and a meeting was set up.

Think about how amazing that is.

A single individual like Jordan Miller never could have pulled this off 15 or 20 years ago. But in the social media age, a lot what used to be impossible is now very much possible.

And Shane Caldwell got to share a special moment with his idol due to his stepdaughter’s awesome perseverance.

So ask me in November if I recall any of the stories I wrote on the first Friday in April and I will know the answer, this one: http://fieldlevelmedia.com/latest-stories?storyId=7532

I have to say it has been one fun month of March Madness.

Ramblers. Sister Jean. Retrievers. Buffalo spanking Sean Miller’s team. Eric Musselman’s daughter.

Yeah, a pretty fun NCAA Tournament, even if I’ve been to the store three times to buy red ink.

There are actually people below me in the bracket pool, which defies all logic. Only thing dumber would be deciding not to call a timeout when there are 11 seconds left in a four-point game with a Final Four berth on the line.

Late for dinner reservations, Leonard Hamilton? And wow, surly and rude when asked a legitimate question in the postgame interview. Just imagine how rude the Florida State coach is to reporters when he isn’t on camera.

Pretty funny the next day to see Coach K call timeout with Duke down five with the same amount of time left.

Earlier in March, Virginia trailed Louisville by four points with 0.9 seconds left and won the game in regulation. There is a reason why you don’t quit in a two-possession game.

Heck, I covered a game where San Diego State led UNLV by 10 points (a four-possession game) with under 20 seconds left and collapsed like a deck of cards in a tornado. Yep, the Aztecs didn’t win. They lost in overtime.

But enough about collapses, how about Loyola-Chicago becoming America’s Team?

Best part of this story is that the NCAA Selection Committee was going to shaft these Ramblers if they didn’t win their conference tourney.

We would have never heard of Sister Jean, the youngest 98-year-old in Chicago history. Heck, she’s more alive than some people half her age.

And how about that Kansas State shot that was 99.9 percent in the hole and somehow came out? You just know Sister Jean was in on that one.

The Ramblers won their first three games by a combined FOUR POINTS. That is pretty amazing clutch play from a bunch of guys none of us ever heard of prior to this month.

Then they whipped Kansas State to get to the Final Four.

Think of this, the Ramblers have defeated teams from the ACC (Miami), SEC (Tennessee) and Big 12 (Kansas State) on neutral courts. You know, the type of programs that would never play a road game at Loyola-Chicago.

The Ramblers won a national title back in 1963. Guess we might hear a little about that this week.

Oh yeah, can’t forget the Retrievers of UMBC.

The first time a 16 seed has defeated a 1 seed finally occurred and it was a major league beat down. UMBC (which stands for University of Maryland Baltimore County) rolled to a 74-54 victory over Virginia, the top-seeded team in the entire tournament.

UMBC went viral in a way like never before. Heck, I tried to order that outstanding piece of Retrievers wall art to hang in the fabulous three-story mansion and the poor UMBC bookstore is drowning under thousands of orders.

It might be next basketball season by the team they fill my order.

But what an amazing accomplishment and you have to admit it is kind of fun to say “Retrievers” instead of Eagles or Wildcats.

Oh yeah, Wildcats. So fun to watch Buffalo — BUFFALO! — totally wallop Miller and his Arizona squad.

Meanwhile, Musselmann is surely cussing somewhere about now, still steaming that his Nevada team went down to the Ramblers.

But after Sister Jean, his cool 8-year-old daughter Mariah is the second-best person we learned about during March Madness.

It is serious time next weekend when Villanova plays Kansas and Michigan plays Loyola-Chicago but you never know what Sister Jean has in store.

Just saying don’t be surprised if Loyola-Chicago is playing for the national title on April 2.

I wonder how breaking down half the NCAA Tournament teams on Selection Sunday while providing content to millions of people around the country will equate to filling out my bracket.

Guess we will find out later if I win a March Madness bracket for the eighth time in my life but at least I’m off to a good head start.

Heck, I know two of my Final Four teams … know of a 12 seed that will beat a 5 … and know that Loyola-Chicago won at Florida this season.

And can’t forget the best nickname in college basketball — “Dauminator.”

Man, I would like to patent that one in case the guy becomes an NBA player.

Anyway, I am ahead of the curve at FLM and hopefully won’t go down swinging once the games begin.

So who do I have winning the South and West regions? Well, you will have to give some love to one of the clients that doesn’t scrub off my byline.

Hey, these are my first two bylines since making the super smart move to FLM.

Of course, some of you will now use this stellar info to fill out your own bracket. Hmmmmm … OK, I will post since I’m not a selfish kind of guy.

 

Following is my South Region breakdown:

http://www.gwinnettprepsports.com/sportsxchange/ncaa-tournament-south-region-breakdown/article_480d812c-1a80-5b6f-a60a-6c4784b946fc.html

 

Here is my West Region breakdown:

http://www.gwinnettprepsports.com/sportsxchange/ncaa-tournament-west-region-breakdown/article_2eca781e-421d-5f3c-8321-b53ea1b6d218.html

 

A few other comments:

–Kentucky coach John Calipari complained that his team was sent to Boise. Coach Cal said he had to ask his players what state Boise is in.

I don’t know, it seems 59-year-old Calipari should know his state capitals by now.

–Kansas coach Bill Self is willing to play a game in Wichita.

Funny, he has repeatedly turned down opportunities to play Wichita State during his 15-year tenure. Hoping the Shockers’ fans root hard for the Jayhawks’ opponents.

–Who saw San Diego State making the field after the team looked dead in the water in February? The Brian Dutcher-coached Aztecs reeled off nine straight wins and draw a Houston team that last won an NCAA tournament game in 1984.

Pretty sure Hakeem Olajuwon isn’t suiting up for the Cougars on Thursday.

–Wait, USC isn’t part of the NCAA tournament field but Arizona State and Syracuse are? Wow.

Louisville, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Saint Mary’s and Middle Tennessee also were left on the outside and Davidson’s victory in Sunday’s Atlantic 10 final knocked out Notre Dame. Baylor coach Scott Drew says the tourney should be expanded to 96 teams and my first thought is ‘Would Saint Mary’s and Middle Tennessee be the among the last four in?’

–Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro made the following statement on Twitter: “The deck is stacked. How do we collect Quadrant 1 home wins?”

Easy solution, Chris. Schedule 18 games against the Big 12 next season. Go 8-10 and you’re in.

–Can’t forget this: South Carolina might not be in the field but the Gamecocks are still “America’s Team” until somebody eliminates Duke. Perhaps a second-round game against Rhode Island could be just the tonic.

Jocelyne (left) and Monique. Photo by Getty Images.

The Winter Olympics are over and there is just one thing on my mind.

When is National Lamoureux Day?

The night I discovered the magic of the Lamoureux twins will always be my favorite memory of the 2018 Olympics.

And the way I learned of them will stand out even more.

I turned on the women’s hockey gold-medal game in the third period for my first glimpse of the team.

Not long after I turned it on, there was Lamoureux scoring the stellar tying goal and the United States avoided losing to Canada in regulation.

I kept hearing Lamoureux over and over on the telecast and that name was standing out more than any other. “Dang, this Lamoureux is all over the place,” I thought to myself.

Then it came down to a shootout – a horrible way to decide an Olympic gold medal – and wow, there is Lamoureux with a terrific deke to the left with the puck that is apparently glued on to her stick and back to the right and easily scores what proves to be the “golden goal” in the United States victory.

Then the celebration occurs and all of a sudden I notice something crazy … there are TWO Lamoureuxs!

All that time, I thought there was one Lamoureux doing all that crazy stuff. Instead, there were two.

Monique Lamoureux-Morando scored the tying goal in the third period. https://www.teamusa.org/usa-hockey/athletes/Monique-Lamoureux

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson is the one with the puck glued to her stick who scored the decisive shootout goal to give Team USA the gold for the first time since 1998. https://www.teamusa.org/usa-hockey/athletes/Jocelyne-Lamoureux

So instead of one hero in the family, there are two. Which also means two gold medals.

You know, skier Lindsey Vonn has about 37 different commercials. I say we need one featuring the Lamoureux twins.

Or two. Since there are two of them.

The Winter Olympics are in the books and few of us will see a women’s hockey game before 2022. But maybe the Lamoureux twins will be back for an encore as I see they are just 28 years old.

That answer will come later but my main question is more pertinent.

When is National Lamoureux Day?

Hey, the San Diego Padres are actually alive.

Not thriving by any chance but they displayed a bit of a pulse by agreeing to terms with free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer on an eight-year, $144 million contract.

In reality, it is really a five-year, $105 million deal because the contract is frontloaded and gives Hosmer the ability to opt out. Since the last three years average just $13 million per season and Scott Boras is his agent, what do you think Hosmer will do after the 2022 campaign?

Yeah, pretty easy one. He will opt out.

But whether Hosmer is on the Padres in 2023 is a topic for another time. What the Saturday night signing really means is the Padres actually made a splash.

The Padres have been acting like they weren’t going to be a contender for a long time. Landing an All-Star first baseman like the 28-year-old Hosmer at least makes their everyday lineup better and creates some optimism.

San Diego’s other All-Star caliber offensive player, Wil Myers, will move from first base to the outfield and the Padres can now line up Myers, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe in the outfield.

Former Padre Chase Headley is back in town as the third baseman and slick-fielding Freddy Galvis is the new shortstop. Catcher Austin Hedges is a capable player too.

Of course, the pitching staff is a mess so there isn’t a realistic chance of breaking through this season. I’d be surprised if the club doesn’t experience its eighth straight losing campaign but now you can at least feel a little bit of success looms on the horizon.

There was none of that to be found last season — the Padres were brutally bad and were fortunate to only finish 20 games below .500.

Hosmer has smacked a career-best 25 homers in each of the past two seasons. He has driven in more than 90 runs in each of the past three and he has won four Gold Gloves in the past five seasons.

He was part of two World Series teams with the Kansas City Royals, including the victorious group in 2015. Homser also was MVP of the 2016 All-Star Game, held in … yeah, you remember, Petco Park.

Most importantly, he provides hope to a group of loyal fans and a city dying to fall back in love with the Padres. What was the name of that sad-sack NFL team anyway?

As the Padres build, Hosmer will be that face of the franchise they were lacking.

Will he be worth the investment? We will know in a few years. But what he represents now is this: The Padres are at least trying.

That wasn’t readily apparent prior to Saturday night.