Here’s a glance at this week’s grade book. All’s quiet after a pretty good 10-day stretch with the Final Four, the start of baseball and The Masters. We’re in a little bit of a lull until the start of postseason play for the preps in a month or so. Listen in to WGEM SportsCenter on ESPN 1440 around 8:20 or so on Wednesday. Josh Houchins and I will break these down. Heck, maybe we’ll yell at each other at the top of our lungs again. As always, feel free to send in your grades via the text line at 217-617-9437 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A — Phil Mickelson. An obvious choice here. Lost in all of the commotion about his touching post-round embrace with his wife, Amy, was the fact that Lefty darn near tied Tiger Woods’ all-time record for winning score with his third Masters win. He’s loved by the people at Augusta. Heck, one day he might just become a member like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are now. He still has to add a U.S. Open and British Open to his resume for the career grand slam. He’s going to win a U.S. Open, but winning in Britain may be the toughest for him considering his track record in the Open championship.
B — Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks lived up to their preseason billing as one of the top teams in the Western Conference and enter the NHL playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the West. That’s more than the sitting-at-home-now St. Louis Blues can say about themselves. The Blackhawks have a good core of young players in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews — both of whom are just 21. The Blackhawks haven’t been to the Stanley Cup finals since 1992 and haven’t hoisted the Cup since 1961. Could this be their year?
C — Indian nicknames. Looks like these are going the way of the dodo bird. The NCAA put its foot down a few years back about its members using Indian nicknames, symbols and imagery. That’s why you don’t see Chief Illiniwek dancing at Illini games any more. In the last week, the University of North Dakota lost its fight to keep its Fighting Sioux nickname. A little closer to home, the students at Bradley want the school to dump the Braves nickname and come up with another. How soon until this trickles down to the high school level?
D — Jerry Rice. The NFL Hall of Famer claims playing in the Nationwide Tour event this week in Hayward, Calif., is no joke. He hopes to make the cut playing against golfers who are just one step from the PGA Tour. Rice was a fantastic football player, but I don’t know that he has much of a chance in this forum. When it comes to golf, Rice is no Tony Romo. Romo hasn’t come close to qualifying for U.S. Opens in the past, and he’s a better golfer than Rice. So, Rice ought to be happy with the hugs and handpounds while he makes his way around the course for two days and be happy drumming up money for his charity.
F —Ben Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh Steelers QB, at right, wasn’t exactly cleared of the charges facing him in Georgia for his alleged romp with a co-ed, but he won’t have to go to the clink either since there wasn’t enough evidence. He read a prepared statement in the Steelers locker room, looking a lot like pro wrestler Scott Hall (at left). Just look at the photos. I’m disappointed that Roethlisberger didn’t start his presser by saying, “Hey. Yo!”