Devon O’Neil: At the Ryder Cup, others’ doubt came through for the United States |

Devon O’Neil: At the Ryder Cup, others’ doubt came through for the United States

It’s funny what happens when Tiger Woods isn’t playing golf, but contrary to what the average sports fan might think, the rest of the players actually keep playing.

This was particularly true in the case of the American delegation at the Ryder Cup last weekend. Talk about a ball of fire. They took it to the three-time defending champion Europeans from the start, so much that they didn’t even need Phil Mickelson, after all.

The convincing win in Kentucky would probably be better remembered if Tigger had been on the links, instead of at home text messaging U.S. captain Paul Azinger all day, but for my money Tiger’s absence made the upset all the more memorable.

The victory also reinforced one of my favorite truths in sports: that when you put a team of decently talented nobodies together and tell them they are supposed to get whooped, nothing could be more dangerous to the competition. …

When the Mets blew a seven-game lead in the final 17 games of the season last September, all but gift-wrapping the division title for Philadelphia, no one could believe a team so mighty could choke so convulsively.

Damn if it isn’t happening again.

New York’s bullpen has blown 16 saves since the all-star break, the most in baseball. If the Mets fail to hold off the Brewers – a disaster down the stretch in their own right – in the wild card race, I seriously think you could see some fans stop rooting for the team permanently. …

On a similar note, it’s pretty fitting that while the Mets’ bullpen coughs up lead after lead, Brad Lidge – Head Case No. 1 in sports history – is 40-for-40 in save opportunities for the Phillies, with a 1.90 ERA.

Two years ago, you might recall, still reeling from that psyche-shattering playoff clout he allowed to Albert Pujols, Lidge threw 11 wild pitches and finished with a 5.28 ERA. …

Man, Terrelle Pryor might already be the most exciting player in college football. Six-foot-6, runs like a gazelle, throws with touch. We can say goodbye to the boring Buckeyes of old. …

Stat of the Week: Chase Daniel, Missouri’s Heisman hopeful QB, is 75-of-88 for 1,089 yards and nine touchdowns (with no picks) in his last three games. Granted, they have been against Southeast Missouri State, Nevada and Buffalo, but still. …

Isn’t it fun watching the NFL sort itself out week after week? Buffalo, 3-0. Peyton Manning, the 23rd-rated QB in the league. The NFC East, a combined 10-2. …

Speaking of Manning, we almost take it for granted that the Colts and Patriots are going to be in the hunt for a Super Bowl berth come January, but this year we might not see either of them in that picture. …

On that note, Sunday was a great day to be: Brian Griese, Jerry Jones, a Bronco, Ronnie Brown, Josh Scobee, Bill Parcells, Chad Pennington.

But a very bad day to be: Martin Gramatica, a Ram, Bill Belichick, Lane Kiffin, the Patriots’ pride meter. …

Big, bad Florida State has now lost two straight home games to little, preppy Wake Forest, with the Seminoles scoring only three points in those two games, a 30-0 embarrassment in 2006 and a 12-3 defeat Saturday.

To put this in perspective, you know how the Red Sox play Boston College every year during spring training? This would be like if BC starting kicking the crap out of the Red Sox. …

Ichiro Suzuki, baseball’s 160-pound superstar, recorded his 200th hit of the season last week, marking the eighth straight year he’s collected more than 200 hits. It bears mentioning that in those same eight years, Alex Rodriguez has one 200-hit season and Manny Ramirez has none. …

In parting, I visited Wrigley Field for the first time on Sunday. Holy cathedral, and I’m not even a Cubs fan.

Chicago won in its regular-season home finale over archrival St. Louis, but the most interesting part of the experience came on our train ride to the game.

We ended up talking to a guy who said he makes $200,000 a year scalping tickets to sporting events, including $80,000 per summer in Cubs profit. “I have a master’s in finance,” he told us, “but I’d much rather sell Cubs tickets than work at a bank.”

The only bad part? Going to jail five times in the last five years. “It’s cold in jail,” he said. “If you go in there with only shorts, you can forget about sleeping.”

Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at

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