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Off-putting champ

Sports | One day of solid strokes cannot erase Sergio Garcia's personality given to sulking and excuse-making in the face of adversity

Issue: "Ethiopia's new flower," May 31, 2008

Sergio Garcia ended a three-year, 53-tournament winless streak with a come-from-behind victory at The Players Championship this month. The 28-year-old Spaniard showed uncharacteristic skill on the putting surface, sinking a 45-foot birdie at 14 and a 7-foot clutch par at 18 to force a playoff, which he won easily on the first hole.

That display has prompted many PGA pundits to predict a forthcoming Major Championship for Garcia, whose career so far has fallen short of the lofty expectations that surrounded his arrival on the international golfing scene almost a decade ago. Observers have long believed that even average putting from Garcia could vault him among the sport's all-time greats.

But one day of solid strokes with the flat stick cannot erase a personality given to sulking and excuse-making in the face of adversity. Garcia's default reaction to difficulty over the years has been a posture of victimhood. And his responses to criticism have often favored petulance over penitence. Even in the wake of a third-round 73 at The Players, in which he piled up 34 putts, Garcia bristled at questions about his putting from NBC reporter Jimmy Roberts and refused to acknowledge any problem at all.

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The talented ball striker's push to victory the next day seemed more about avenging imagined wrongs from the press than about personal achievement-as though media critics hold any stake in Garcia's success or failure. When asked by a mob of reporters to comment on the best part of capturing a $1.7 million purse in one of the PGA's most elite events, Garcia betrayed an attitude something less than championlike: "Not having to listen to you guys," he said.

Three men out

Indians second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera became just the 14th player ever to complete an unassisted triple play

By Mark Bergin

Earlier this month, Cleveland Indians second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera dove right to snare a line drive, stepped on second base, and tagged the Toronto Blue Jays' Marco Scutaro to join one of the most exclusive clubs in Major League Baseball history. Cabrera became just the 14th player ever to complete an unassisted triple play.

In a delightful bit of baseball magic, one of the other 13 players to accomplish the feat was on hand to witness the play. Ron Hansen turned the solo trick against Cleveland in 1968 as a member of the Washington Senators. Incidentally, six of the 14 occurrences have involved the Indians.

Though the play is simple enough to perform, the precise conditions required render it one of baseball's most unlikely events. Here's a look at how unassisted triple plays compare to other individual diamond anomalies:
Unassisted triple plays: 14, Last achieved by Asdrubal Cabrera, 2008
The cycle in natural order: 14, Gary Matthews Jr., 2006
Four home runs in a game: 15, Carlos Delgado, 2003
Perfect game: 17, Randy Johnson, 2004
Stealing second, third and home: 48, Eric Young, 1996
Inside-the-park grand slam: 223, Randy Winn, 1999
No-hitter: 255, Clay Buchholz, 2007

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