Thursday, May 13, 2010

Whiz kids

Not to be outdone by the teenage phenoms who keep publishing crossword puzzles in the New York Times are these young sporting stars.

Starlin Castro is an exciting Chicago Cubs prospect who lit up spring training 2010 with his quick bat, turning 20 years old in late March after outhitting the grownups.  He started the season with AA-level Tennessee, where he continued to hit the cover off the ball, but after the Cubs got swept by lowly Pittsburgh last week, impatient general manager Jim Hendry woke the kid up with a call at 7am last Friday and asked him to meet the big club in Cincinnati.

Castro got to play that very evening and became the youngest Cubs shortstop in history when he took the field.  In his first plate appearance he smacked a three-run HR off unfortunately named pitcher Homer Bailey, becoming the sixth Cub ever to go deep in his first at-bat.  A diving outfield catch robbed him of a hit his next time up.  Castro returned to the plate in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and delivered the knockout punch with a bases-clearing triple into the gap in left center, sliding headfirst into third and leading the Cubs to a 14-7 victory.

His 6-RBI debut set a major league record, breaking the previous mark of 5 shared by four players.

On Sunday, the soft-throwing Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden threw the 19th perfect game in major league history.  At 26, Braden is the youngest pitcher to throw a perfect game since a 24-year-old Mike Witt did it in 1984.

A 20-year-old Rory McIlroy became the youngest PGA Tour winner since Tiger Woods when he won the trophy at Quail Hollow a few weeks ago, after Woods missed the cut.  McIlroy nearly did too.  The golf prodigy from Northern Ireland was two shots over the cut line with three holes to play on Friday when he hit a 4-iron from 203 yards into the wind and over water to 6 feet, then sank his eagle putt.

He made the cut on the number and never looked back, shooting the low round on both Saturday and Sunday in a weekend for the ages.  On Sunday he set a course record with a 10-under 62 and cruised to a four-shot victory over Masters champion Phil Mickelson and a winner's check for $1.17 million.  He turned 21 two days later.  Woods was 20 years and 10 months old when he won his first PGA Tour event in Las Vegas in 1996.

Earlier on the same day McIlroy shot 62, 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa shot an eye-popping 58 to win on the Japan Golf Tour.  It was the lowest round ever shot on any major golf tour.

Led by the relatively superannuated Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the latter of whom became a team captain last year at the ripe old age of 21, the Chicago Blackhawks finished off the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night to set up a playoff series with the San Jose Sharks.  Kane and Toews were opponents on Vancouver's rink in the Olympics, when Toews played for Canada against Kane's Team USA, but the Hawks made it look like their home ice on Tuesday with three goals in the second period.

Speaking of whiz kids, Robin Roberts passed away this week.  The Hall of Fame pitcher was a star of the Philadelphia Phillies "Whiz Kids" and the National League's most durable and consistent pitcher in the early 1950s.


Elaine said...

Seems like the days of The Big Red Machine (when it was really fun to live in Cincinnati) are thoroughly past.
Other than that, enjoyed the Sports News. I usually go out into the garden and cut some herbs during that segment of the local news show. tsk. (But Braden made the national news.) a great article about law professor Stephen Carter (you know what magazine) and just checked out his first novel at the library. Pay-off!

dj said...

castro looks good but they don't need another middle infielder. they have plenty of little guys who can hit, thats why they let derosa leave. they should trade castro now while everyone still thinks he is the chosen one and get some pitching. zambrano looks like a $90 million train wreck, lilly has a bad shoulder and silva (a career bust they got off the scrap heap for milton bradley) won't be undefeated forever.

BG said...

I agree with dj.
Zambrano IS a $90 million dollar train wreck.
Castro may be a good hitter but I saw him commit 3 errors in one game, he could not throw the ball to first base or field. Rookie nerves?