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[Posted Wed. a.m.]
College Football Quiz: Name the five major / Div. I coaches in the modern era (so not including Pop Warner and Amos Alonzo Stagg), to win 250 games in their D-I careers. Answer below.
--The Mets opened a critical nine-game home stand against the Indians last night, the Braves and Cubs to follow, and New York took care of business, 9-2, beating Cleveland All-Star Shane Bieber in the process. My Metsies are now 25-10 since the break, best in baseball.
--The defending World Series champion Red Sox entered Tuesday’s game against the Phillies at Fenway six games back in the wild card race, despite the heroics at the plate of Rafael Devers, and if Boston is to still make a run, it will be doing so without Chris Sale, who is being shut down for the season due to inflammation in his elbow. At least Sale is being treated with platelet-rich plasma and won’t be needing Tommy John surgery, as first feared; Sale having signed a six-year, $160 million contract in March.
2019 goes down as a most disappointing one...25 starts and 218 strikeouts in 147 1/3, but a 6-11 record and a 4.40 ERA...a full run worse than the previous highest of his career, 3.41 in 2015 for the White Sox.
Last night the Phillies rode seven strong from Aaron Nola (12-3, 3.51) to a 3-2 win over Boston.
--The Nationals have been on a tear at the plate. Monday, Washington blasted the Pirates in Pittsburgh, 13-0, hitting four more home runs, a day after hitting eight home runs against the Brewers in a 16-8 win. The day before that they lost 15-14.
The Nats had scored 79 runs in their last eight games, going 7-1, as they reached a season-high 12 games over .500, 68-56.
But the Pirates stopped Washington 4-1 last night, the Nats wasting seven shutout innings from Stephen Strasburg as the bullpen gave up four in the eighth.
At least Max Scherzer is slated to return on Thursday in the finale of the Pirates’ series, having pitched just once in the last six weeks because of a strained muscle in his back.
--The Yankees’ Domingo German gave up five runs in five innings, as New York lost to the A’s in Oakland, 6-2; so once again there are questions about how the Yanks’ starting rotation will line up come the postseason. German is a gaudy 16-3, but with a 4.15 ERA.
--Clayton Kershaw threw six effective Tuesday to improve to 13-2, 2.71, as the Dodgers steam-rolled the Blue Jays, 16-3.
Kershaw is now 166-71, 2.41, for his career. But of course the talk has already started about his 9-10, 4.32, postseason mark and what Dodgers fans will see in October.
[Sandy Koufax was 165-87, 2.76...and 4-3, 0.95 ERA in the postseason.]
--N.L. Wild Card Standings (thru Tues.)....
Washington 68-57... +1
Chicago 67-58... ---
Philadelphia 65-60... 2
New York 65-60... 2
Milwaukee 64-62... 3.5
St. Louis 67-57
Chicago 67-58... 0.5
--We note the passing of “Little Al” Jackson, one of the more popular New York Mets in their history. Jackson was a starter on the dreary 1962-65 teams, pitching for the Mets again in 1968 and briefly in ’69, unfortunately for him being purchased by the Reds in June of that year so he wasn’t part of the World Series celebration.
But while Jackson was a dreadful 43-80, 4.26 ERA, in his Mets career, he threw the team’s only four shutouts in 1962, 10 overall for the Metropolitans, and clearly had his moments.
He also had an endearing personality and later was a longtime pitching coach and instructor, mostly in the Mets organization.
But as Richard Goldstein writes in the New York Times, Jackson took part in Old-Timers’ Day at Shea Stadium in June 1972 and the memory of his many frustrating outings continued to vex him.
“How do I explain to my kids what losing was like?” he told the Times. “Every time you put on a uniform you want to win, but something would always happen to us.”
“Jackson’s most remarkable outing came at the Polo Grounds, the Mets’ home for their first two seasons, when he went all 15 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies, throwing 215 pitches, on the afternoon of Aug. 14, 1962. He gave up just six hits but lost, 3-1, when the Phils rallied for a pair of runs after a two-base error by first baseman Marv Throneberry, known derisively as Marvelous Marv for his fielding and baserunning mishaps. [Ed. Future manager Dallas Green started that day for Philadelphia, going 10 1/3.]
“Jackson got the Mets’ first victory at Shea in April 1964, shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he threw a two-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds that May. He outpitched the future Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, 1-0, on the final weekend of the season, when the Cardinals were fighting for a pennant – which they nonetheless went on to win.”
Phil W. reminded me that he lived for five years in Queens before moving to New Jersey. While there they lived across the way from the Jacksons and Phil got to know one of Al’s sons, Reggie. As Phil put it, too bad it was before the days of social media. They would have found a way to keep in touch.
--Finally, ex-Mets Octavio Dotel and Luis Castillo are both allegedly involved in a drug trafficking ring in their native Dominican Republic, authorities said Tuesday.
DR attorney general Jean Rodriguez said the two were part of a massive network that included money laundering. 20 people in all are linked to it.
Much of the drug trafficking business was being conducted from inside nightclubs, with Dominican authorities seizing 20 luxury apartments, 15 nightclubs and 10 restaurants. One local newspaper said Dotel had four cars seized.
Dotel was arrested in a sting operation, while police are looking for Castillo.
The definitive AP Poll is out...definitive that is until about Week 7 or 8 when the CFP begins releasing its rankings.
1. Clemson (52 first-place votes)
2. Alabama (10)
5. Ohio State
9. Notre Dame
This is the first time Clemson is No. 1 preseason in the AP Top 25, after winning two national titles in three seasons.
It’s all about Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, sports fans. More so than ‘Bama’s Tua Tagovailoa.
But over the last four seasons, both Clemson and Alabama are 55-4, having split the last four championships.
I have to go with Clemson to win another. It’s also a highly-likable school.
Separately, I’m kind of shocked that this is the first time Syracuse is in the preseason Top 25 since 1998.
Florida vs. Miami Saturday night starts us off.
As for my Wake Forest Demon Deacons, we have two solid quarterbacks battling it out, and, most importantly, the coaching staff seems intent more than ever on keeping everyone healthy during training camp. I’m OK with 6-6 and another bowl game.
--ESPN The Magazine’s final four predictions are the same as everyone else’s though they have Alabama over Clemson, Oklahoma No. 3, Georgia No. 4.
Trevor Lawrence is the Heisman Trophy winner, and Tua the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Their “Dark Horse CFP Candidate” is Oregon, which would be pleasing to the eye. Cough cough.
Game of the year, at least early on, is Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 12.
--Jets head coach Adam Gase took responsibility for linebacker Avery Williamson’s season-ending knee injury suffered in the last exhibition game, Gase acknowledging he should have been out a series earlier. Williamson led the team with 120 tackles last season, three sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
I do agree with WFAN’s Mike Francesa that coaches don’t need to fall on their swords with regard to such injuries. They can occur anytime...including during drills. It’s just the nature of the sport. But on the other hand, it’s about minimizing risk, too.
Also in a press conference Sunday night, Gase officially guaranteed running back Le’Veon Bell won’t see any preseason game time, and the other tenant at MetLilfe Stadium, the Giants, have said their star running back Saquon Barkley isn’t going to play either until the regular season.
--ESPN The Magazine has the Chiefs beating the Saints in the Super Bowl.
--CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora instead came up with a list of eight teams that can win it all:
1. New England 2. New Orleans 3. Philadelphia 4. Kansas City 5. L.A. Chargers 6. Carolina 7. Pittsburgh 8. Seattle
Eight that will be jostling for top draft position:
1. Miami 2. Arizona 3. Cincinnati 4. Washington 5. Houston 6. Giants 7. Oakland 8. Tennessee
--We note the passing of former NFL running back Cedric Benson, who died over the weekend in a motorcycle accident. Benson was 36. The accident happened in Austin, Texas, Benson having been in the state and starring with the Texas Longhorns before finding success in the NFL.
Benson had 6,017 yards at Chicago and Cincinnati, 2005-2011, including three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, 2009-11, for the Bengals, averaging 3.8 per carry with 32 touchdowns. He also played a few games for Green Bay in 2012 before hanging it up.
The Bears selected Benson No. 4 overall in the 2005 NFL draft after a stellar four-year run with the Longhorns, where he ran for 5,540 yards and 64 scores; second in school history to Ricky Williams’ 6,279 and 72, respectively.
--I love the new format of the FedEx Cup Playoffs (I realize I have been spelling it this way, when most have it FedExCup...well too bad). If I had to go back and quibble with the points system, I may not have weighted the first event, the Northern Trust, taking the field from 125 to 70, so heavily, but then very few, say, 100 and up, advanced to the following BMW Championship. In fact I just checked...only four that entered the Northern Trust in the 71-125 spot made it to the next stage....so never mind! The system worked.
In fact just one golfer, Lucas Glover, who entered the BMW in the No. 40 spot or higher, made it into the final 30 for the Tour Championship, Glover needing a T-7 to capture the 29th slot.
You don’t want to ruin the import of the full season, especially since it is pounded into our head each and every week (especially by Ian Baker-Finch), and it seems to me like the Tour hit the right formula.
Well, on to the finale of the 2019-20 season. And based on points the new format awards those on top. “Starting strokes.” Very easy to understand for us fans, and the golfers. It’s all right in front of them.
The Top Ten of 30....
1. Justin Thomas -10 (starting strokes)
2. Patrick Cantlay -8
3. Brooks Koepka -7
4. Patrick Reed -6
5. Rory McIlroy -5
6. Jon Rahm -4
7. Matt Kuchar -4
8. Xander Schauffele -4
9. Webb Simpson -4
10. Abraham Ancer -4
Nos. 11-15 start at -3 (including Tony Finau and Dustin Johnson)
Nos. 16-20 are at -2 (including Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler)
Nos. 21-25 are -1
Nos. 26-30 start out Even
It is the tenth start at the Tour Championship for DJ and Rose, ninth for Kuchar.
Johnson has five top 10s, three top 5s, but no wins. Rose won the FedEx Cup last year, but didn’t win the event. He does have six straight top 10s. Kuchar has a single T-10 at East Lake in nine starts.
And then there is the money breakdown...and it’s a doozy.
The wives/girlfriends of the players will no doubt have visions of, err, ah...I better not go there.
--Andy Ogletree is the U.S. Amateur champion, defeating John Augenstein at Pinehurst No. 4 and No. 2 in the scheduled 36-hole final Sunday, Ogletree taking the title 2 and 1.
Ogletree is a senior at Georgia Tech who now gets to play in The Masters next spring with Tiger Woods (the Masters champion and U.S. Am champ are traditionally matched up the first two rounds), a pretty remarkable journey considering Ogletree grew up in Little Rock, Miss., population less than 2,000.
Augenstein is a Vanderbilt senior, match-play specialist (17-3-1 in singles since spring 2017), who built a 4-up lead after five holes and shot a course-record 5-under 65 on No. 4, but Ogletree came back to snatch the crown.
--The eight American qualifiers for December’s Presidents Cup in Australia are: Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Bryson DeChambeau. Captain Tiger Woods has four captain’s picks that he can take his time on.
The International team, captained by Ernie Els, is inferior...again. The U.S. leads the series, 10-1-1. It won’t be destination television, especially that time of year.
--Wesley Lowery / Washington Post
“Following a January screening of ‘Emanuel,’ a documentary about the deadly 2015 shooting of nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, S.C., a throng of Howard University students jockeyed for handshakes and selfies with the film’s executive producer, NBA star Stephen Curry.
“Otis Ferguson, then a junior at Howard, hung back for a moment before catching the ear of the Golden State Warriors guard.
“ ‘Hey Steph!’ Ferguson called out. ‘Let’s get in a round of golf before you leave.’
“It was a well-calculated shot: In addition to being a three-time NBA champion, two-time MVP and perhaps the best shooter ever, Curry is a passionate golfer.”
The two didn’t hit the links, but the brief conversation made an impression on Curry and on Monday he announced that he is sponsoring the creation of men’s and women’s golf teams at Howard – bringing competitive golf to the university for the first time in decades.
While details weren’t revealed, Curry’s team said he will make a seven-figure donation, paid out over the next six years, aimed at giving Howard time to raise an endowed fund that would make the program self-sustainable.
Those who join the Howard golf program also will agree to volunteer in Greater Washington with Curry’s foundation that encourages healthy development in children.
The goal is to have a Division I program, Howard discontinuing a Division II team in the 1970s.
So Steph Curry goes in the December file for “Good Guy of the Year” consideration.
I wrote a few weeks ago, in previewing the new Premier League season, that last year’s newbie, Wolverhampton, had a sterling 4-4-4 mark vs. the Big Six (far better than Tottenham’s mark against the remaining five they faced, for example), and Monday, the Wolves proved their mettle again, holding Manchester United to a 1-1 draw, as United’s Paul Pogba had his second-half penalty saved by the Wolves’ goalkeeper. While some questioned why Pogba took the shot, given Marcus Rashford’s success at a PK in week one, Pogba struck it well...just a solid save.
But after the game, Man U teammate Harry Maguire called out social media companies, urging them to “stop these pathetic trolls” after Pogba was racially abused online for missing the penalty. He is the third player in a week to be so abused on social media following a penalty miss.
The world is full of jerks and dirtballs. Every one of them needs to be called out. Of course virtually all of the abuse would end if you had to verify your identity before opening an account, as Maguire calls for.
Football’s anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out published a report back in July that stated incidents of racial abuse increased by 43% last season.
--Since 2015, there have been three serious crashes at Pocono Raceway in an IndyCar race, including Sunday’s where driver Felix Rosenqvist got caught up in a five-car collision on the first lap, though he was later released from the hospital.
Last year Robert Wickens was paralyzed in a crash at Pocono, and it was in 2015 that British driver Justin Wilson died there from a head injury after being struck by debris from a big wreck in front of him.
Wickens, who hopes to recover from his injuries and walk again, said in a tweet Sunday, “It’s just a toxic relationship and maybe it’s time to consider a divorce,” calling for IndyCar to stop racing at the Pennsylvania-based track where two NASCAR races are also held each year.
“How many times do we have to go through the same situation before we can all accept that an IndyCar should not race at Pocono. I’m very relieved that everyone is okay from that scary crash.”
IndyCar driver Sage Karam said the “answer is clear that we should not be here.”
“I don’t want people to think I dislike Pocono,” Karam said on Twitter. “I think it’s a great track – it’s just not meant for IndyCars.
“We need to be smart and move on and go to tracks that fit these cars. I love oval racing and want it in IndyCar. I just simply don’t love IndyCar at Pocono.”
It was debris from Karam’s crash in 2015 that killed Wilson.
I reviewed all three crashes on YouTube just now. Horrific. Yes, it’s time for a divorce with Pocono.
--Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke for the first time since he and his family survived a fiery plane crash in Tennessee last week, saying they are “truly blessed” to walk away unscathed.
Dale Jr. released a statement on Twitter, thanking his fans and others who have supported them with messages, phone calls and prayers. He also ended by saying what all of us would in such a situation.
“Amy and I continue to be very appreciative of the privacy extended to us to process everything. It has been important to do that together and on our own time.”
It’s believed he’ll return to work doing NASCAR broadcasts for NBC perhaps the week after Labor Day.
--Legendary sports broadcaster Jack Whitaker died. He was 95. Whitaker did it all, but when it comes to golf, he is best known for working his first Masters telecast for CBS in 1966, when on Sunday evening he referred to the crowd coming up the 18th hole as a mob.
A month before the ’67 Masters, CBS informed him he would not be working the telecast, citing the mob comments, while also failing to inform viewers of the green jacket ceremony on the putting green at the conclusion of play.
But Whitaker always believed it was co-founder of Augusta National and its chairman at the time, Clifford Roberts, who made the call. Yet in 1972, when CBS invited Whitaker to attend the Masters as a guest, and Henry Longhurst, a member of the CBS broadcast team took ill, CBS informed Whitaker he would be working the 16th hole, but he needed to meet with Roberts first.
“Young man, we’re delighted you’ll be able to work with us,” Roberts said. After that, Whitaker worked several more Masters for CBS.
A member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Whitaker was renowned for being one of television’s first wordsmiths, “not so much an announcer as an essayist who dared to be poetic when just clever would do,” as his Hall of Fame website says.
When working a British Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews, he said this: “Nobody designed this course. Nobody with a pencil and $2 million and five bulldozers. This was made by nature. It comes out of the ground. It was done with wind and rain and sun and the help of a few sheep. And so, while, for most Americans and other people, it’s not love at first sight at St. Andrews. St. Andrews’ Old Course is like a dry martini, an acquired taste, and, as such, it remains with us forever.”
Jim Nantz issued a statement to the network on Whitaker’s passing.
“When I first met Jack Whitaker in 1986 at Pebble Beach, I felt like I had just been introduced to Ernest Hemingway. I grew up watching him deliver contemplative and contextual prose with his famous short essays, bringing class and dignity to his industry. He was enormously proud to have called Super Bowl I for CBS and was the last surviving network commentator from that landmark game. I spoke to him this week after hospice came to his home and his mind was still brilliantly sharp right to the end.”
Whitaker, a Philadelphia native, served in World War II and began his broadcasting career in 1950, joining CBS in 1961. Aside from golf, he was a major presence on the network’s horse racing coverage. Whitaker once said the greatest sports event he ever covered was the 1973 Belmont Stakes, when Secretariat ran away from the field to win the Triple Crown. “It just blew me away,” he said in 1998. “It blew everybody away. People were crying. It was just perfection.”
Top 3 songs for the week 8/26/78: #1 “Grease” (Frankie Valli) #2 “Three Times A Lady” (Commodores) #3 “Miss You” (The Rolling Stones)...and...#4 “Boogie Oogie Oogie” (A Taste Of Honey) #5 “Hot Blooded” (Foreigner) #6 “Love Will Find A Way” (Pablo Cruise) #7 “Hopelessly Devoted To You” (Olivia Newton-John) #8 “Magnet And Steel” (Walter Egan) #9 “An Everlasting Love” (Andy Gibb) #10 “Last Dance” (Donna Summer... another C- week...this was the summer I was selling books door to door in Oklahoma and Kansas, summer between sophomore and junior years at Wake...it sucked, but I made it to the end...)
College Football Quiz Answer: Five modern day, major college coaches with 250 career wins.
Joe Paterno 409
Bobby Bowden 357 (NCAA adjusted it to 346...which is bulls---. The games were played)
Bear Bryant 323
Lavell Edwards 257
Tom Osborne 255
Lou Holtz 249
Nick Saban is already at 237.
I note Eddie Robinson (408) and John Gagliardi (489), but the totals were not at D-I schools.
1969 Mets, cont’d....
After the Mets took four from the Padres in back-to-back doubleheader sweeps, the Giants came into town for a weekday series and as was normal for those times, the crowds were huge, 140,000 over the three games.
Aug. 19: Talk about a classic example of old-time baseball, the Mets defeated the Giants 1-0 in 14 innings, as Tommie Agee blasted his 21st home run off starter Juan Marichal (14-9) in the bottom of the 14th, Marichal officially going 13 1/3, one walk, 13 Ks. I’m guessing that had to be one of the three or four longest stints of the last 50 years.*
For the Mets, Gary Gentry went the first ten, Tug McGraw the last four; the Giants held to five hits.
*The Marichal-Warren Spahn 16-inning classic was back on July 2, 1963, and I don’t recall too many massive efforts, say 13 innings or more, post-1969. [Supposedly, Marichal threw 227 pitches, Spahn 201.]
Aug. 20: Mets get another shutout, 6-0, as Jim McAndrew (5-5) went all the way on a 2-hitter, while the Mets were knocking out Gaylord Perry (15-10) early, 4 1/3, 5 earned, 9 hits. Art Shamsky homered and had four RBIs.
So I vividly remember this game, because my father took my brother and I to Shea, a rarity to do so during the week. And, boy, we got caught in awful traffic and got to our seats in the fifth inning. I was a bit testy, as you can imagine, but Dad gave it a shot and two more stars for ‘Father of the Year.’ In hindsight, I should have been placed in the December file for “11-year-old Jerk of the Year.”
Aug. 21: The Mets see their six-game winning streak snapped, 7-6 in 11 innings. Bobby Bonds hit two home runs off Tom Seaver, who yielded 4 earned in seven innings, with seven walks!
But reliever Ron Taylor gave up a game-winning triple to Ken Henderson in the 11th, driving in reliever Don McMahon, who was on base with his only hit of the season.
The Mets finished the series 68-52, 7 games back. [The Giants are 65-57.]
Now the Dodgers come in for a weekend set. The positive vibes are back at Shea.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.