eld. So of course, the only overhanging bin
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Theres still plenty at stake at the Wyndham Championship this year -- even if some of the big names from last year arent playing.Tiger Woods didnt return, sidelined by a back injury. And Davis Love III -- a local favorite and three-time winner who had hip surgery last month -- is only watching.When play begins Thursday at Sedgefield Country Club, the field once again will be littered with players trying to force their way off the PGA Tours bubble in the final week of golfs regular season and earn spots in the first round of the playoffs.Others are trying to make one last impression on Love, whos scouting as the captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.Woods made his only appearance in Greensboro a year ago in a last-ditch effort to make the postseason. He finished four strokes behind Love and fell short of the top 125 on the points list.But his presence had Sedgefield abuzz all week and helped the tournament set its modern-day attendance record of about 143,000 for the four rounds, including about 35,000 on the final day. It was the last tournament Woods played on the tour because of back surgery.This is the next-to-last chance to earn Ryder Cup points, with the top eight players determined after the first playoff event at The Barclays next week at Bethpage Black.Love will make his first three captains picks Sept. 11 after the BMW Championship in Carmel, Indiana. The final pick comes two weeks later after the Tour Championship in Atlanta.Among Loves possibilities here this week: Jim Furyk plays his first round since shooting the first 58 in PGA Tour history during the final round of the Travelers Championship. Rickie Fowler is one of seven Olympians here, and 2007 Wyndham winner Brandt Snedeker also is back.The Wyndham has long relished its spot as the last chance for the tours bubble players to force their way into the FedEx Cup playoffs, which are open to the top 125 players on the points list, and secure their spots on the tour for next season.The playoffs, obviously thats where you can do the most damage, said Harold Varner III, who grew up in Gastonia and played college golf at East Carolina. Right now, I feel good. I just want to seal my card. Thats the biggest thing because sometimes you dont get into all the events your rookie year.I did a pretty good job of that, got into two majors. A lot of positives, but theres still some big tournaments coming up, like this one this week.Varner sure seems safe at No. 79 on the points list in his first year on the tour. Others arent nearly so secure.Every player ranked from No. 121 to No. 135 has entered. Some, like No. 121 David Toms and No. 124 Matt Jones, want to play well enough to hold on to their spots. Others, like No. 126 Scott Stallings and No. 129 Steve Marino, need to earn enough points to move up a few spots.Perhaps theyll draw inspiration from Love, who last year made the biggest jump in the tournaments history. His victory propelled him from No. 186 to No. 76.But in 2014, only one player outside the top 125 -- Sang-Moon Bae -- earned enough points here to move into the playoffs. The year before, nobody did it. http://www.authenticshoptitans.com/kevin-dodd-jersey/ . LOUIS -- St. http://www.authenticshoptitans.com/ben-jones-jersey/ . In taking its goal tally to 99 in all competitions already this season, City delivered another demonstration of its lethal firepower at Etihad Stadium to set up a fourth-round match at home to another second-tier team -- Watford. http://www.authenticshoptitans.com/karl-klug-jersey/ . The showiest items on Calgarys lot were forwards Mike Cammalleri and Lee Stempniak. Both will be unrestricted free agents this summer. http://www.authenticshoptitans.com/brian-orakpo-jersey/ . McPhee said that Ovechkins father Mikhail is in stable condition after having the surgery this week and is no longer in intensive care. "Weve told him to stay as long as necessary with your dad," he said. Ovechkin and his Russian national team were eliminated from the mens hockey tournament in Sochi on Wednesday with a 3-1 quarter-final loss to Finland. http://www.authenticshoptitans.com/nate-palmer-jersey/ . A statement from the worlds top-ranked player says all checks "were satisfactory and showed positive evolution" regarding the injury, which contributed to his loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the final in Melbourne. CHICAGO -- It was soooo easy for those San Francisco Giants to look at the classic October baseball game that unfolded Friday evening at turbocharged Wrigley Field and chalk it up to the minuscule difference between winning and losing this time of year.When you lose a 1-0 game to the mighty Chicago Cubs on a brisk October night, its soooo easy to think it all came down to one pitch. To one swing. To one eighth-inning home run that floated through the Chicago sky and came down in a contraption that doesnt exist in any other ballpark in America.And if thats how the Giants want to look at it -- by which we mean heck yeah, they did -- it would be hard to blame them. But heres another question they might want to ask themselves: What makes them think theyre going to be able to score enough to beat the team with the best pitching staff in baseball?OK, weve noticed its an even year. And yessir, weve noticed that magical stuff happens to the Giants in even-year Octobers. But you want to know what else weve noticed?That when they face the Cubs, every night looks a lot like this night.Since the beginning of September, the Giants now have played the Cubs five times. Want to take a look at how those Giants hitters have fared in those five games? Sure you do. But you might need to sit down first and maybe pour yourself a beverage, because this wont be easy on the eyes.In those five games, the Giants have gotten a total of 20 hits. In 163 at-bats. And if you dont have a calculator handy, that computes to a terrifying batting average of -- ready? -- .123. It also includes nearly twice as many strikeouts (39) as hits (20).You can now repeat after us: Yikes!Of the 10 runs the Giants have scored in those five games, four of them came off Mike Montgomery during a Sept. 1 spot start. In the other four games, they went 16-for-98 (.163) against Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Friday nights Cubs ace du jour, Jon Lester -- scoring a total of four earned runs in 28 innings.So is that an indicator of whats to come in this attractive little Division Series between the three-time champs and the 103-win juggernaut on a mission to end its towns fun-filled 108 years of suffering? If it is, then Jeff Samardzija, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Moore had better be ready to drop a whole lot of zeros on the scoreboard over the next three games.Asked Friday night if he enjoys hitting at Wrigley, Buster Posey couldnt help but chuckle.Sure, he said. When I get hits.Well, he did get two of them on this night. Thats the good news. The bad news is, his two forays into scoring position (which would be more than all of his teammates combined) converted into zero runs -- because the lineup around him combined to go 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position against Lester and his favorite 102 mph closer, Aroldis Chapman.When youre facing Jon Lester and Aroldis Chapman, youve got your hands full, Posey said, in the midst of an almost dead-silent clubhouse. Hey, wed love to score six off Lester. But the odds of that arent very good.Yeah, you dont need to check the tote board in Vegas to know hes got an excellent feel for those odds. But how much better do the odds get Saturday in Game 2, when the Giants have to face Kyle Hendricks, a fellow who just led the league in ERA and went 9-2 with a 1.32 ERA at Wrigley this season?Do those odds improve a whole lot in Game 3, when the Giants have to line up against the incumbent Cy Young, Arrieta, a gentleman who has allowed a grand total of seven earned runs against them in five starts as a Cub?Then next up, after him, is Lackey. His career ERA against the Giants in the regular season: 2.37. Are we allowed to mention a slightly painful Game 7 win over them in a 2002 World Series that didnt turn out so hot? Oops. We just did. Sorry!So those numbers alone tell you this is one dazzling rotation the Cubs are about to run out there. Just to make sure, wee asked Posey if these guys were as good as the numbers make them look.dddddddddddd Lets just say he didnt deny it.Yeah, theyve got good stuff, Posey said. And theyre all a little bit different. Lester has really good stuff, and he commands the ball well. And obviously, the guy weve got tomorrow [Hendricks] commands the ball as well as anybody in the game. Arrieta is a stuff guy, for sure. His ball is moving all over the place. And Lackey is going to compete his tail off. But I mean, thats what you expect this time of year.Since hes speaking as a man who is about as familiar with this time of year as any human on the planet -- from Derek Jeter to David Ortiz to Vin Scully -- you can feel free to assume hes as confident as ever that he plays on a team that will figure out how to make this work somehow or other.Am I confident of that? Sure, he said. Youve got to scratch. But its what weve done in the past.The question, however, is this: Is this lineup as good as it was in the past? The 2012 and 2014 Giants both ranked in the top six in the league in runs scored. This team finished ninth. Over the second half, just two NL lineups (the Marlins and Phillies) scored fewer runs than they scored. So its fair to wonder if what theyve done in the past even applies anymore.A lot of the second half, it felt like most of us were in a slump, first baseman Brandon Belt?said. So thats not as well as we can play. But I think you saw a team more like what youre used to seeing from us in that last week of the season. I think we played more like we should play. And I think that gives us confidence going into these next games, because yeah, were going to face a lot of good pitching, but we know that were capable of winning these ballgames.Oh, theyve slayed plenty of great pitching staffs and plenty of great teams on the road to those three parades, of course. The 2010 Phillies, 2012 Cardinals and 2014 Nationals could tell you all about it. But in Game 1 at Wrigley Field, the Giants got a textbook lesson on what can happen to even a special team when it doesnt score.What happens is this: A game gets decided on a towering fly ball that the left fielder settles under, knowing hes going to catch it -- and instead it plops into a basket that hangs over the outfield wall, because, well, its Wrigley Field. So of course, the only overhanging basket in baseball helps determine who wins and loses a pivotal postseason game.When Angel Pagan was asked afterward if hed have caught Javier Baezs game-winning home run if that basket had never existed, even he couldnt help but smile.Yes. Of course, he said. I was right under it. It looked like it was coming back. It was coming [down], but it was coming back. So I could see the ball coming back, but it was right in the back of the basket. It was right on the edge. But it was good enough.In other words, it caught the very edge and dropped in?I havent seen the replay, but thats what it looked like, Pagan said. I saw [the] baseball. Right before I got to the wall, I saw [the] baseball right there. So you could see that if it kept [going], I could catch it.Pagan uttered these words with more resignation than bitterness. This was life in October. He knew it well. He has roamed outfields in the major leagues for 11 seasons now. He knows there is nothing quite like those baskets in any of the other 29 parks.But its been there for so many years, youve got to respect those baskets, he said. Theyve been there much longer than weve been playing baseball -- or living.Now, he knows, its time for his team to find a way to overcome whatever obstacles present themselves this month -- whether its baseball-eating baskets or bat-eating aces. Or else.Theres no other way, Pagan said. Otherwise, were going to go home. 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