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Monday, July 21, 2008
This and That: Week of July 21

By Dick Vitale

• The All-Star game really could have been a disaster. Imagine if the American League didn't win in the 15th inning. Imagine what would have happened if NL manager Clint Hurdle had to go to David Wright as a pitcher? What if Terry Francona had to use J.D. Drew on the mound? Something has to be done to avoid an embarrassment in the future, especially with home field advantage on the line in the World Series.

• The soap opera involving Brett Favre continues. In my opinion, certain icons like Joe Montana, Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Favre have earned the right to call the shots and decide what they want to do. Green Bay is heading for a public relations nightmare. The Packers will certainly not release him, and why should they knowing that he could end up in Minnesota or Chicago and face his former team twice a season. There is so much pressure on Aaron Rodgers now and I feel for him. With every incompletion or mistake, there will be questions over this decision. Fans will be screaming at Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson.

• It was a sad situation when Michelle Wie was disqualified after the third round of the LPGA event in Illinois this weekend. She was just one shot back after three days, but she made a major, major error by not signing her scorecard in a timely fashion after round two. It was nice to see her in contention at the event and hopefully she will continue to play good golf.

• The addition of CC Sabathia has been a great coup for the Milwaukee Brewers. He has won his first three decisions with the Brewers, posting an ERA under two while averaging a strikeout per inning. Sometimes a change of scenery can make all the difference in the world and his presence has booster the morale of Milwaukee. His acquisition sent a message, loud and clear, that this franchise wants to make a playoff run. The Brewers also added veteran second baseman Ray Durham from the Giants over the weekend, giving them another veteran with playoff experience.

• Even though he did not win the home run derby, Josh Hamilton certainly put on a show in the first round by hitting a record 28 round trippers. He had the Yankee Stadium crowd in awe. It was fun to watch the reaction of the other players as he blasted homer after homer, and several of them went over 500 feet. This kid is a special talent and I can only wonder what he would have been like if he didn't have the demons of drugs and alcohol earlier on in his career.

• I truly appreciated the gesture made by Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria recently. He gave me one of the jerseys from the AL All-Star team, thanking me for my support in his bid to make the squad. Longoria was added as a write-in, and my friends he was truly deserving of the honor. The rookie has been amazing in the field and with the bat.

• I love the fact that there is so much drama in baseball right now with plenty of playoff races heating up. I remember some detractors complaining about the addition of the wild card over a decade ago, but my friends that has worked out beautifully. The NL West has mediocrity, but there is still excitement. It should be a lot of fun in August and September.

• Greg Norman made a great run at the British Open. He led after three rounds and people were talking about him as a candidate to be the oldest winner of a major. Well, Padraig Harrington had other ideas and he won his second straight British Open title, pulling away on the back nine to win. Give Norman a lot of credit though; he recently got married to Chris Evert and between them there is a lot of athletic talent. She was there cheering him on! It was certainly a wild four days due to the weather.

• Notre Dame has made a very good hire in new athletic director Jack Swarbrick. A former Indianapolis lawyer who graduated from the South Bend-based school in 1976, has been considered for other AD posts in the past. His name was mentioned when the Big 12 conference commissioner position opened. I have heard a lot of good things about Swarbrick, and fans of the Irish should be smiling with this decision. He is a sharp businessman who should be a quality addition.