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10/23/2014

Madison Bumgarner's Excellence

[Posted Wed. AM...as the editor waits for the cable guy.]

NFL Quiz: With Peyton Manning setting the career touchdown mark, name the top five on the list who played at least some of their career in the 1960s. You get one hint. Len Dawson is No. 6 with 239 (1957-75). One of the five is I think kind of tricky. Answer below.

Ball Bits...

--Well that wasn’t much of a Game 1...Giants 7 Royals 1. My TV went out early and thankfully it didn’t matter. [Could have watched it on one of my other ones...but the computer is here and, you know...]

The story is Giants hurler Madison Bumgarner, who in allowing the lone run in seven innings has now pitched 22 innings in three World Series starts with just that one run. 3-0. And before Salvador Perez homered with two outs in the seventh for K.C., Bumgarner had stretched his road postseason scoreless streak to a record 32 2/3!

In postseason play overall, he is 6-3, 2.54. As Ronald Reagan would have said...not bad, not bad at all.

Meanwhile, for the Royals, “Big Game James” Shields allowed 5 runs in just three innings.

And, by the way, the Game 1 winner has won 15 of the last 17 World Series.

--I’ll have a comment after the following.

Michael Powell / New York Times

“Welcome back, Barry, you old rogue.

“The former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, recovering from hip surgery and looking sleeker than he had in years, hobbled to the pitching mound before Game 4 of the National League Championship Series last week in San Francisco and tossed out the first pitch to raucous applause. By doing so, he took another step back from the baseball wastelands, where he has roamed for more than a decade as the peerless outlaw of the Age of Steroids.

“Last March, at the team’s invitation, the Giants said Bonds would appear at spring training as a hitting instructor. Bud Selig was not amused. He was about to commence his celebratory final round as commissioner, and Bonds was an unwelcome reminder of Selig’s many embarrassments.

“Selig talked angrily by phone with Giants officials, according to people in Major League Baseball.

“I hope Giants executives giggled into the receiver.

Baseball’s bonfire of the hypocrisies has burned bright. This past summer, the former manager Tony La Russa, the Great Enabler, was installed in the Hall of Fame.  Over two decades, La Russa pulled off a feat of non-observation of the human condition. He oversaw the careers of the grandest hulks of the age of injectables, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, without noticing anything amiss.

“I assume that during his time managing the Oakland Athletics, La Russa avoided the players’ bathroom, which by Canseco’s telling was his favorite spot for trading steroid shots in the buttocks with McGwire. (O.K., in fairness, I don’t recall the sainted Joe Torre blowing the whistle on his players, either.)”

Well, Mr. Powell goes on to talk about the likes of Matt Williams, who was part of the Mitchell report, and Nelson Cruz, who served a 50-game suspension in 2013 for PED use. The Cardinals’ Jhonny Peralta....

Selig...presided over all of this. He led baseball into its age of darkness and – pushed by congressional hearings and federal investigations – back toward the light. Now he cultivates a reputation as the Man Who Restored Baseball’s Good Name....

“All of which, by way of a choleric digression, brings me back to Bonds...

“Give a chemical advantage to good players, and they become very good. Give an advantage to the likes of Bonds, and he becomes a figure out of Greek myth. His production soared so high as to force a recognition that something was askew.

“In time, the sport’s grandest player became a symbol of its fall. He was convicted of obstruction of justice on a reed-thin argument that he had tried to deprive a jury of the truth. That, surely, could be said of most defendants. People tend not to want to admit wrongdoing....

“Larry Baer, the Giants’ chief executive, offers a straightforward bottom line: ‘It’s silly to make Bonds a pariah.’

“Baseball at its apex is a reverie, a slow unfolding of athletic art. Two deeply entertaining and punchless post-steroid-era teams, the Kansas City Royals and the Giants, will face off in the World Series. Even if the playoffs now are numbing and endless (another Selig legacy) and television viewership is plummeting like a rock, I’ll tune in for fine baseball.

“But before we sing another round of that saccharine ‘God Bless America,’ let’s pause and bow to baseball’s reality these past few decades.

“Welcome back, Barry.”

Sorry, I can’t welcome him back. This was no Matt Williams, or even Mark McGwire. Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s record, the ultimate in sports. He did it illegally. He then denied being a dirtball with all the evidence staring him in the face.

No one likes Barry Bonds outside San Francisco. That’s really all you need to know.

College Football

--Among the more interesting games this coming weekend, No. 1 Mississippi State at Kentucky (5-2, 2-2), No. 3 Ole Miss at 24 LSU, and No. 22 West Virginia at Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1).

And of course Boston College at Wake Forest...prediction: BC 27 Wake 6.

--CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd has the following final four as of today:

Rose: Ole Miss vs. Florida State
Sugar: Mississippi State vs. Auburn

I like Mr. Dodd’s work, but this is absurd. Three SEC West?!

For the other New Year’s bowls (Dec. 31 / Jan. 1), however, he does have some intriguing matchups.

Orange: Duke vs. Alabama
Peach: East Carolina vs. Notre Dame
Cotton: Michigan State vs. Georgia
Fiesta: Oregon vs. Kansas State

I’m fired up for the New Year’s Eve games...perfect stuff for a Wednesday. [It’s all about me and my writing schedule.]

Peach 12:30 ET; Fiesta 4:00 ET; Orange 8:00 ET.

The two playoff games are 5:00 and 8:30 ET New Year’s Day.

Chris Dufresne / Los Angeles Times

“Early this month, after Oregon lost at home to Arizona, we awoke to headlines proclaiming the Pac-12 was dead.

“NFL.com’s Inside Slant column reported the ‘Pac-12 on road to being shut out’ and ESPN Insider proclaimed ‘Pac-12 unlikely to have a playoff team.’

“The ESPN headline was over a pay site that required a subscription for more information (um, no thanks).

“Suddenly, the new conference on the outs is the Big 12, not the Pac-12. Experts staked that claim after kingpins Baylor and Oklahoma fell Saturday.

“Oregon, the team with no chance Oct. 8, appeared at No. 6 in Sunday’s Associated Press poll. That practically puts the Ducks in the playoffs if they win out and win the Pac-12. Four of the five teams ahead of Oregon in the top five – Mississippi State, Mississippi, Alabama and Auburn – play each other.

“The Pac-12, as a balanced bundle, has half its teams in the top 25.

“The selection committee decided to wait until Oct. 28 to release its first top 25 for a pretty good reason: it wanted to mix in some facts.

One school allowed to steal early poll positions was Mississippi State, which rose from unranked to No. 3 based on victories over ‘top 10’ Texas A&M and Louisiana State. Texas A&M is 5-3 and no longer ranked and Louisiana State is 6-2 and ranked No. 24.

“That said, do not expect the selection committee to ask Mississippi State to surrender 11 bogus poll spots it earned from Texas A&M.

“The best any of us can do now is just hold on until December. The number of games already decided by a sneeze is astonishing.”

--Meanwhile, in the ongoing Jameis Winston saga, Florida State coach Dumbo Fisher was doing an interview on Monday when he was asked if his reputation had taken a hit dealing with Winston’s off-field issues and constantly standing up for him, including a weak response to Winston’s sexually charged outburst on campus the other week.

“Why is my reputation taking a hit? For backing a kid who has done nothing wrong?” Fisher asked. “I don’t want to get into this. The questions weren’t supposed to be asked today. I’m done. I’m done.”

And so Dumbo walked out.

Later, he called the interviewer back to answer a few Winston questions such as the date of the judicial hearing for his behavior during the alleged 2012 sexual assault and Fisher said he’d be open to disciplining Winston “if the facts change.” No date has been set.

The Seminoles have a bye this week

--Archie Manning removed himself from the College Football Playoff committee because he needs surgery next month that will prohibit him from traveling to meetings. The committee will move forward with 12 members for this season. It wasn’t revealed what kind of surgery Archie requires.

NFL

--So on Monday night the Pittsburgh Steelers spotted Houston a 13-0 lead with 3:08 to go in the first half and before you could say Terry Hanratty, Pittsburgh scored 24 points, 21 of them coming in a 73-second span.

Ben Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for a 35-yard score to make it 13-10 with 1:27 left.

Then the Texans’ Arian Foster fumbled deep in Houston territory two plays later, the Steelers recovered, and on first-and-goal, Roethlisberger flipped the ball to Antonio Brown, who was in motion. Brown then spun back around and fired a strike to Lance Moore in the end zone.

Then, on Houston’s next snap, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s throw over the middle was deflected into the arms of Pittsburgh’s Brett Keisel, a 36-year-old defensive end, who returned the ball to the Houston 8 and, two plays later, Roethlisberger hit Le’Veon Bell for a two-yard TD pass. 24-13.

Pittsburgh went on to win 30-23. Bell finished with 145 total yards, thus becoming the first Steeler to top 100 yards of total offense in each of the team’s first seven games.

Meanwhile, the top pick in the 2014 draft, Jadeveon Clowney, missed his sixth straight game for Houston after being injured in the season opener.

--I posted last Sunday before the Broncos-49ers contest so I need to note Peyton Manning threw for four touchdowns to hit 510 for his career, thus passing Brett Favre’s 508. The record-setting pass was to Demaryius Thomas.

Manning is 136 TD passes ahead of the next man on the active list, Drew Brees, who has 374. Tom Brady has 372.

Geno Smith has 19.

--When I wrote of Russell Wilson’s performance in defeat against the Rams, I didn’t realize in passing for 313 yards and rushing for 106, he was the first in NFL history to get 300 AND 100. Eight quarterbacks have passed for over 200 and rushed for 100, including Wilson.

The others with 200/100?

Cam Newton (2), Michael Vick (2), Aaron Brooks, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Terrelle Pryor, Steve Young.

I would have thought Cunningham and McNabb did it more than once.

I also would have thought former Bear Bobby Douglass (sic) would have done it once.

Well, I just looked up Bobby Douglass’ career stats and boy my memory was a little faulty. Sure, I knew as a passer Douglass sucked, but I forgot just how much.

Douglass played mostly for the Bears from 1969-78 and was a super runner, amassing 2,654 career yards and a 6.5 per carry average.

But his big rushing season, 1972, when he had 968 yards on the ground (6.9 avg.), he started all 14 games and had just 1,246 yards through the air (hitting 37.9% of his passes), including just one game where he threw for more than 200 (223).

Those were the Abe Gibron, 4-9-1 Bears that had a total of 1,283 yards passing as a team, less than 100 a game, while rushing for 168 yards per game.

--Another for the archives...DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys breaking Jim Brown’s record as the first back to start the season by running for at least 100 yards in seven straight games.

--Not that anyone outside Washington cares, but Colt McCoy gets the start this Sunday for the Redskins against the Cowboys; that is unless Robert Griffin III is available.

[I should have mentioned McCoy did play very well on Sunday, 11/12, 128, 1-0, in relief of Kirk Cousins, who sucked...and his body language showed it.]

--Big blow for the Bills as C.J. Spiller is out perhaps for the season with a broken collarbone.

--Back to the Steelers, not for nuthin’ but receiver Antonio Brown has developed into one of the two or three best in the game. And he’s a Central Michigan Chippewa.

--I didn’t touch on last Sunday’s Miami win over Chicago that dropped the Bears to 3-4, 0-3 at home. Now while there were high expectations for the Bears this season, 3-4 isn’t the end of the world, yet, but it’s how they got there and the inability to win on their home turf that has the locker room roiled.

After the 27-14 loss, receiver Brandon Marshall called out teammates before reporters entered the locker room. From outside a voice could be heard shouting:

“Will you fight with your heart?”

“You just kick the ball!”

“Do your job!”

Reports say Marshall directed much of his ire at quarterback Jay Cutler, with kicker Robbie Gould a target, too.

Marshall, according to the Sun Times, said: “We’ve got Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte. We’ve got a stud offensive line. We’ve got a great, great group of guys. And this is unacceptable. What did we put up, 14 points? Was it 14 points? That’s unacceptable.”

Cutler was very ordinary, 21/34, 190, 1-1, and in the four losses he has thrown at least one pick. In the three wins, whaddya know, he hasn’t thrown one. Funny how that works.

I’m not sure why Marshall took off on Robbie Gould, who is 8 of 9 on field goals this year.

--The Cowboys waived Michael Sam off their practice squad. Sam was gracious in his tweets, thanking the team for giving him an opportunity.

[Wake’s Nikita Whitlock is still on Dallas’ p-squad roster. And linebacker Kyle Wilber has been a nice contributor on the big team. Practice squad players, by the way, earn $6,300 a week. So for 17 weeks that pays the rent. Minor league baseball players, on the other hand, are often lucky to make about $12,000 for five-six months.]

Thoughts from the Couch Slouch...Norman Chad / Washington Post

“These are 23 (more) facts, tried and true, about the widening world of sports television:

“1. When Vin Scully began broadcasting Dodgers games in 1950, the average lifespan of an American male was 65.6 years; in 2015, he will begin his 66th year broadcasting Dodgers games.

“2. The P.C. set will moan about ‘player safety,’ but I believe America is ready for NFL teams to play doubleheaders, like in baseball....

“5. Even if baseball had replay review in 1919, I think the Black Sox still throw the World Series.

“6. Can you imagine the buildup and the hype – think of the length of the pregame show alone – if ESPN were around for the creation of the world? ....

“11. Would it kill Jack Whitaker to come out of retirement and speak a sensible word or two on network TV? ...

“14. NBC’s Peter King, an alleged ‘NFL insider,’ is a career .262 hitter in a profession in which you should bat close to 1.000. ....

“17. Mike Francesa sometimes dozes off during his radio show simulcast on Fox Sports 1. Shouldn’t staying awake on your own show be, like, a minimum requirement for having your own show? ....

“23. CBS’ Phil Simms won’t say ‘Redskins’ on air this season. I won’t say ‘NFL Command Center.’”

Ask The Slouch:

Q. Do you think it is every state trooper’s dream to go to an SEC football game and fight crime standing next to a three-million-dollar-a-year- coach? (Randy Long; Liberty Lake, Wash.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Yes, you too can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. asktheslouch@aol.com.

Stuff

--As expected, the four major professional sports leagues and the a-holes at the NCAA filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking a temporary injunction to halt legalized sports betting in my home state of New Jersey.

The state is still planning on having a “soft opening” on Sunday at Monmouth Park racetrack, taking bets only on the NFL, with just 10 tellers on hand.

But should this still pan out, no telling how many will show.

To block the beginning of wagering, the leagues have to demonstrate irreparable harm from having bets placed at Monmouth.

New Jersey State Sen. Ray Lesniak (Dem.) and the sponsor of the bill signed by Gov. Christie, said, “I have a hard time believing that a judge will determine that the leagues can prove they can be irreparably damaged by Monmouth racetrack’s taking bets, when people are betting every single day legally in Nevada.”

Hear hear!

“They want a monopoly – they want to have their gambling through fantasy sports,” the senator added. “They are not against us having sports betting, they just want to control it and run it. They are going to fight through the end – and I believe this is the end.”

Hear hear!!

Eventually, the English bookmaker William Hill will take control of the wagering at Monmouth. [Liz Robbins / New York Times]

I’d love to be able to bet on golf. Or, say, that 20-1 bet I wrote of last time that Chelsea will finish the Premier League season undefeated.

--Speaking of Chelsea, they won a Champions League affair on Tuesday against Maribor, 6-0.

--The other day I noted Demon Deacon alum Jay Haas won the Champions Tour event in Conover, N.C., which wouldn’t be unusual, this being his 17th triumph on the senior circuit, except for the fact he is 60 (and will turn 61 in December).

But I didn’t have a chance to note how many others have won at 60 and I was surprised to see it’s 18. Hale Irwin has done it three times, with Tom Watson and Jimmy Powell doing it twice each. The oldest winner is Mike Fetchick at 63 when he won an event on Hilton Head in 1985.

No better family in the sport of golf, or for that matter, in any sport (yeah, including the Mannings) than Family Haas. Go Deacs! [Now if we can just get Bill a green jacket.]

--For the archives, I have to note that Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to 5 years in prison for shooting Reeva Steenkamp. We now resume our regularly scheduled programming. 

--Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal did a piece on the popularity of half-marathons, which in terms of participation hit an all-time high last year, about two million people, or up by fourfold from 2000, according to Running USA. There are three times as many half-marathon finishers as there are marathon finishers.

And get this...61% of half-marathon finishers last year were female, which is why I do one every year...to, err, err...I better move on....

--Speaking of running, Caroline Wozniacki credited her training for next month’s New York City Marathon as a major factor in her victory over Maria Sharapova at the WTA Finals in Singapore. [This is a round-robin event and Sharapova now needs to at least reach the final, and have Serena stumble a few times (Serena already lost once) for the Russian to claim the No. 1 yearend world ranking.]

--NBC is changing their figure skating main team to Johnny and Tara...Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski...after the duo proved to be a huge hit on NBCSN as the No. 2 team at Sochi. They are replacing Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic.

“They’re fun! They’re fresh!” NBC said of Johnny and Tara.

Hey, I agree.

--Speaking of the Olympics, the golf course that is to be used in 2016 down in Rio is in all kinds of legal trouble, with the public prosecutor saying environmental laws were broken during the course’s construction. This has been a fiasco since day one as golf returns to the Olympics after 112 years.

I’m guessing they could assemble a putt-putt course quickly if need be.

Top 3 songs for the week 10/24/60: #1 “I Want To Be Wanted” (Brenda Lee) #2 “Save The Last Dance For Me” (The Drifters...great tune...so is #1..) #3 “The Twist” (Chubby Checker...amazing he still performs this...and to save my life I cannot twist...it will be on my tombstone... “Here lies The Editor...creator of Bar Chat...chronicler of shark attacks and the All-Species List...beer drinker... never could do the twist.”)...and...#4 “My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own” (Connie Francis) #5 “Chain Gang” (Sam Cooke) #6 “Devil Or Angel” (Bobby Vee) #7 “Let’s Think About Living” (Bob Luman) #8 “So Sad” (The Everly Brothers) #9 “Mr. Custer” (Larry Verne) #10 “Theme From The Apartment” (Ferrante & Teicher...wow, what a great film, and terrific theme song...)

NFL Quiz Answer: Top five career touchdown passes who played at least part of their careers in the 1960s.

Fran Tarkenton, 342 (1961-78)
Johnny Unitas, 290 (1956-73)
Sonny Jurgensen, 255 (1957-74)
John Hadl, 244 (1962-77)
Y.A. Tittle, 242 (1948-64)

Next Bar Chat, Monday.


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Bar Chat

10/23/2014

Madison Bumgarner's Excellence

[Posted Wed. AM...as the editor waits for the cable guy.]

NFL Quiz: With Peyton Manning setting the career touchdown mark, name the top five on the list who played at least some of their career in the 1960s. You get one hint. Len Dawson is No. 6 with 239 (1957-75). One of the five is I think kind of tricky. Answer below.

Ball Bits...

--Well that wasn’t much of a Game 1...Giants 7 Royals 1. My TV went out early and thankfully it didn’t matter. [Could have watched it on one of my other ones...but the computer is here and, you know...]

The story is Giants hurler Madison Bumgarner, who in allowing the lone run in seven innings has now pitched 22 innings in three World Series starts with just that one run. 3-0. And before Salvador Perez homered with two outs in the seventh for K.C., Bumgarner had stretched his road postseason scoreless streak to a record 32 2/3!

In postseason play overall, he is 6-3, 2.54. As Ronald Reagan would have said...not bad, not bad at all.

Meanwhile, for the Royals, “Big Game James” Shields allowed 5 runs in just three innings.

And, by the way, the Game 1 winner has won 15 of the last 17 World Series.

--I’ll have a comment after the following.

Michael Powell / New York Times

“Welcome back, Barry, you old rogue.

“The former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, recovering from hip surgery and looking sleeker than he had in years, hobbled to the pitching mound before Game 4 of the National League Championship Series last week in San Francisco and tossed out the first pitch to raucous applause. By doing so, he took another step back from the baseball wastelands, where he has roamed for more than a decade as the peerless outlaw of the Age of Steroids.

“Last March, at the team’s invitation, the Giants said Bonds would appear at spring training as a hitting instructor. Bud Selig was not amused. He was about to commence his celebratory final round as commissioner, and Bonds was an unwelcome reminder of Selig’s many embarrassments.

“Selig talked angrily by phone with Giants officials, according to people in Major League Baseball.

“I hope Giants executives giggled into the receiver.

Baseball’s bonfire of the hypocrisies has burned bright. This past summer, the former manager Tony La Russa, the Great Enabler, was installed in the Hall of Fame.  Over two decades, La Russa pulled off a feat of non-observation of the human condition. He oversaw the careers of the grandest hulks of the age of injectables, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, without noticing anything amiss.

“I assume that during his time managing the Oakland Athletics, La Russa avoided the players’ bathroom, which by Canseco’s telling was his favorite spot for trading steroid shots in the buttocks with McGwire. (O.K., in fairness, I don’t recall the sainted Joe Torre blowing the whistle on his players, either.)”

Well, Mr. Powell goes on to talk about the likes of Matt Williams, who was part of the Mitchell report, and Nelson Cruz, who served a 50-game suspension in 2013 for PED use. The Cardinals’ Jhonny Peralta....

Selig...presided over all of this. He led baseball into its age of darkness and – pushed by congressional hearings and federal investigations – back toward the light. Now he cultivates a reputation as the Man Who Restored Baseball’s Good Name....

“All of which, by way of a choleric digression, brings me back to Bonds...

“Give a chemical advantage to good players, and they become very good. Give an advantage to the likes of Bonds, and he becomes a figure out of Greek myth. His production soared so high as to force a recognition that something was askew.

“In time, the sport’s grandest player became a symbol of its fall. He was convicted of obstruction of justice on a reed-thin argument that he had tried to deprive a jury of the truth. That, surely, could be said of most defendants. People tend not to want to admit wrongdoing....

“Larry Baer, the Giants’ chief executive, offers a straightforward bottom line: ‘It’s silly to make Bonds a pariah.’

“Baseball at its apex is a reverie, a slow unfolding of athletic art. Two deeply entertaining and punchless post-steroid-era teams, the Kansas City Royals and the Giants, will face off in the World Series. Even if the playoffs now are numbing and endless (another Selig legacy) and television viewership is plummeting like a rock, I’ll tune in for fine baseball.

“But before we sing another round of that saccharine ‘God Bless America,’ let’s pause and bow to baseball’s reality these past few decades.

“Welcome back, Barry.”

Sorry, I can’t welcome him back. This was no Matt Williams, or even Mark McGwire. Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s record, the ultimate in sports. He did it illegally. He then denied being a dirtball with all the evidence staring him in the face.

No one likes Barry Bonds outside San Francisco. That’s really all you need to know.

College Football

--Among the more interesting games this coming weekend, No. 1 Mississippi State at Kentucky (5-2, 2-2), No. 3 Ole Miss at 24 LSU, and No. 22 West Virginia at Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1).

And of course Boston College at Wake Forest...prediction: BC 27 Wake 6.

--CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd has the following final four as of today:

Rose: Ole Miss vs. Florida State
Sugar: Mississippi State vs. Auburn

I like Mr. Dodd’s work, but this is absurd. Three SEC West?!

For the other New Year’s bowls (Dec. 31 / Jan. 1), however, he does have some intriguing matchups.

Orange: Duke vs. Alabama
Peach: East Carolina vs. Notre Dame
Cotton: Michigan State vs. Georgia
Fiesta: Oregon vs. Kansas State

I’m fired up for the New Year’s Eve games...perfect stuff for a Wednesday. [It’s all about me and my writing schedule.]

Peach 12:30 ET; Fiesta 4:00 ET; Orange 8:00 ET.

The two playoff games are 5:00 and 8:30 ET New Year’s Day.

Chris Dufresne / Los Angeles Times

“Early this month, after Oregon lost at home to Arizona, we awoke to headlines proclaiming the Pac-12 was dead.

“NFL.com’s Inside Slant column reported the ‘Pac-12 on road to being shut out’ and ESPN Insider proclaimed ‘Pac-12 unlikely to have a playoff team.’

“The ESPN headline was over a pay site that required a subscription for more information (um, no thanks).

“Suddenly, the new conference on the outs is the Big 12, not the Pac-12. Experts staked that claim after kingpins Baylor and Oklahoma fell Saturday.

“Oregon, the team with no chance Oct. 8, appeared at No. 6 in Sunday’s Associated Press poll. That practically puts the Ducks in the playoffs if they win out and win the Pac-12. Four of the five teams ahead of Oregon in the top five – Mississippi State, Mississippi, Alabama and Auburn – play each other.

“The Pac-12, as a balanced bundle, has half its teams in the top 25.

“The selection committee decided to wait until Oct. 28 to release its first top 25 for a pretty good reason: it wanted to mix in some facts.

One school allowed to steal early poll positions was Mississippi State, which rose from unranked to No. 3 based on victories over ‘top 10’ Texas A&M and Louisiana State. Texas A&M is 5-3 and no longer ranked and Louisiana State is 6-2 and ranked No. 24.

“That said, do not expect the selection committee to ask Mississippi State to surrender 11 bogus poll spots it earned from Texas A&M.

“The best any of us can do now is just hold on until December. The number of games already decided by a sneeze is astonishing.”

--Meanwhile, in the ongoing Jameis Winston saga, Florida State coach Dumbo Fisher was doing an interview on Monday when he was asked if his reputation had taken a hit dealing with Winston’s off-field issues and constantly standing up for him, including a weak response to Winston’s sexually charged outburst on campus the other week.

“Why is my reputation taking a hit? For backing a kid who has done nothing wrong?” Fisher asked. “I don’t want to get into this. The questions weren’t supposed to be asked today. I’m done. I’m done.”

And so Dumbo walked out.

Later, he called the interviewer back to answer a few Winston questions such as the date of the judicial hearing for his behavior during the alleged 2012 sexual assault and Fisher said he’d be open to disciplining Winston “if the facts change.” No date has been set.

The Seminoles have a bye this week

--Archie Manning removed himself from the College Football Playoff committee because he needs surgery next month that will prohibit him from traveling to meetings. The committee will move forward with 12 members for this season. It wasn’t revealed what kind of surgery Archie requires.

NFL

--So on Monday night the Pittsburgh Steelers spotted Houston a 13-0 lead with 3:08 to go in the first half and before you could say Terry Hanratty, Pittsburgh scored 24 points, 21 of them coming in a 73-second span.

Ben Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for a 35-yard score to make it 13-10 with 1:27 left.

Then the Texans’ Arian Foster fumbled deep in Houston territory two plays later, the Steelers recovered, and on first-and-goal, Roethlisberger flipped the ball to Antonio Brown, who was in motion. Brown then spun back around and fired a strike to Lance Moore in the end zone.

Then, on Houston’s next snap, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s throw over the middle was deflected into the arms of Pittsburgh’s Brett Keisel, a 36-year-old defensive end, who returned the ball to the Houston 8 and, two plays later, Roethlisberger hit Le’Veon Bell for a two-yard TD pass. 24-13.

Pittsburgh went on to win 30-23. Bell finished with 145 total yards, thus becoming the first Steeler to top 100 yards of total offense in each of the team’s first seven games.

Meanwhile, the top pick in the 2014 draft, Jadeveon Clowney, missed his sixth straight game for Houston after being injured in the season opener.

--I posted last Sunday before the Broncos-49ers contest so I need to note Peyton Manning threw for four touchdowns to hit 510 for his career, thus passing Brett Favre’s 508. The record-setting pass was to Demaryius Thomas.

Manning is 136 TD passes ahead of the next man on the active list, Drew Brees, who has 374. Tom Brady has 372.

Geno Smith has 19.

--When I wrote of Russell Wilson’s performance in defeat against the Rams, I didn’t realize in passing for 313 yards and rushing for 106, he was the first in NFL history to get 300 AND 100. Eight quarterbacks have passed for over 200 and rushed for 100, including Wilson.

The others with 200/100?

Cam Newton (2), Michael Vick (2), Aaron Brooks, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Terrelle Pryor, Steve Young.

I would have thought Cunningham and McNabb did it more than once.

I also would have thought former Bear Bobby Douglass (sic) would have done it once.

Well, I just looked up Bobby Douglass’ career stats and boy my memory was a little faulty. Sure, I knew as a passer Douglass sucked, but I forgot just how much.

Douglass played mostly for the Bears from 1969-78 and was a super runner, amassing 2,654 career yards and a 6.5 per carry average.

But his big rushing season, 1972, when he had 968 yards on the ground (6.9 avg.), he started all 14 games and had just 1,246 yards through the air (hitting 37.9% of his passes), including just one game where he threw for more than 200 (223).

Those were the Abe Gibron, 4-9-1 Bears that had a total of 1,283 yards passing as a team, less than 100 a game, while rushing for 168 yards per game.

--Another for the archives...DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys breaking Jim Brown’s record as the first back to start the season by running for at least 100 yards in seven straight games.

--Not that anyone outside Washington cares, but Colt McCoy gets the start this Sunday for the Redskins against the Cowboys; that is unless Robert Griffin III is available.

[I should have mentioned McCoy did play very well on Sunday, 11/12, 128, 1-0, in relief of Kirk Cousins, who sucked...and his body language showed it.]

--Big blow for the Bills as C.J. Spiller is out perhaps for the season with a broken collarbone.

--Back to the Steelers, not for nuthin’ but receiver Antonio Brown has developed into one of the two or three best in the game. And he’s a Central Michigan Chippewa.

--I didn’t touch on last Sunday’s Miami win over Chicago that dropped the Bears to 3-4, 0-3 at home. Now while there were high expectations for the Bears this season, 3-4 isn’t the end of the world, yet, but it’s how they got there and the inability to win on their home turf that has the locker room roiled.

After the 27-14 loss, receiver Brandon Marshall called out teammates before reporters entered the locker room. From outside a voice could be heard shouting:

“Will you fight with your heart?”

“You just kick the ball!”

“Do your job!”

Reports say Marshall directed much of his ire at quarterback Jay Cutler, with kicker Robbie Gould a target, too.

Marshall, according to the Sun Times, said: “We’ve got Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte. We’ve got a stud offensive line. We’ve got a great, great group of guys. And this is unacceptable. What did we put up, 14 points? Was it 14 points? That’s unacceptable.”

Cutler was very ordinary, 21/34, 190, 1-1, and in the four losses he has thrown at least one pick. In the three wins, whaddya know, he hasn’t thrown one. Funny how that works.

I’m not sure why Marshall took off on Robbie Gould, who is 8 of 9 on field goals this year.

--The Cowboys waived Michael Sam off their practice squad. Sam was gracious in his tweets, thanking the team for giving him an opportunity.

[Wake’s Nikita Whitlock is still on Dallas’ p-squad roster. And linebacker Kyle Wilber has been a nice contributor on the big team. Practice squad players, by the way, earn $6,300 a week. So for 17 weeks that pays the rent. Minor league baseball players, on the other hand, are often lucky to make about $12,000 for five-six months.]

Thoughts from the Couch Slouch...Norman Chad / Washington Post

“These are 23 (more) facts, tried and true, about the widening world of sports television:

“1. When Vin Scully began broadcasting Dodgers games in 1950, the average lifespan of an American male was 65.6 years; in 2015, he will begin his 66th year broadcasting Dodgers games.

“2. The P.C. set will moan about ‘player safety,’ but I believe America is ready for NFL teams to play doubleheaders, like in baseball....

“5. Even if baseball had replay review in 1919, I think the Black Sox still throw the World Series.

“6. Can you imagine the buildup and the hype – think of the length of the pregame show alone – if ESPN were around for the creation of the world? ....

“11. Would it kill Jack Whitaker to come out of retirement and speak a sensible word or two on network TV? ...

“14. NBC’s Peter King, an alleged ‘NFL insider,’ is a career .262 hitter in a profession in which you should bat close to 1.000. ....

“17. Mike Francesa sometimes dozes off during his radio show simulcast on Fox Sports 1. Shouldn’t staying awake on your own show be, like, a minimum requirement for having your own show? ....

“23. CBS’ Phil Simms won’t say ‘Redskins’ on air this season. I won’t say ‘NFL Command Center.’”

Ask The Slouch:

Q. Do you think it is every state trooper’s dream to go to an SEC football game and fight crime standing next to a three-million-dollar-a-year- coach? (Randy Long; Liberty Lake, Wash.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Yes, you too can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. asktheslouch@aol.com.

Stuff

--As expected, the four major professional sports leagues and the a-holes at the NCAA filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking a temporary injunction to halt legalized sports betting in my home state of New Jersey.

The state is still planning on having a “soft opening” on Sunday at Monmouth Park racetrack, taking bets only on the NFL, with just 10 tellers on hand.

But should this still pan out, no telling how many will show.

To block the beginning of wagering, the leagues have to demonstrate irreparable harm from having bets placed at Monmouth.

New Jersey State Sen. Ray Lesniak (Dem.) and the sponsor of the bill signed by Gov. Christie, said, “I have a hard time believing that a judge will determine that the leagues can prove they can be irreparably damaged by Monmouth racetrack’s taking bets, when people are betting every single day legally in Nevada.”

Hear hear!

“They want a monopoly – they want to have their gambling through fantasy sports,” the senator added. “They are not against us having sports betting, they just want to control it and run it. They are going to fight through the end – and I believe this is the end.”

Hear hear!!

Eventually, the English bookmaker William Hill will take control of the wagering at Monmouth. [Liz Robbins / New York Times]

I’d love to be able to bet on golf. Or, say, that 20-1 bet I wrote of last time that Chelsea will finish the Premier League season undefeated.

--Speaking of Chelsea, they won a Champions League affair on Tuesday against Maribor, 6-0.

--The other day I noted Demon Deacon alum Jay Haas won the Champions Tour event in Conover, N.C., which wouldn’t be unusual, this being his 17th triumph on the senior circuit, except for the fact he is 60 (and will turn 61 in December).

But I didn’t have a chance to note how many others have won at 60 and I was surprised to see it’s 18. Hale Irwin has done it three times, with Tom Watson and Jimmy Powell doing it twice each. The oldest winner is Mike Fetchick at 63 when he won an event on Hilton Head in 1985.

No better family in the sport of golf, or for that matter, in any sport (yeah, including the Mannings) than Family Haas. Go Deacs! [Now if we can just get Bill a green jacket.]

--For the archives, I have to note that Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to 5 years in prison for shooting Reeva Steenkamp. We now resume our regularly scheduled programming. 

--Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal did a piece on the popularity of half-marathons, which in terms of participation hit an all-time high last year, about two million people, or up by fourfold from 2000, according to Running USA. There are three times as many half-marathon finishers as there are marathon finishers.

And get this...61% of half-marathon finishers last year were female, which is why I do one every year...to, err, err...I better move on....

--Speaking of running, Caroline Wozniacki credited her training for next month’s New York City Marathon as a major factor in her victory over Maria Sharapova at the WTA Finals in Singapore. [This is a round-robin event and Sharapova now needs to at least reach the final, and have Serena stumble a few times (Serena already lost once) for the Russian to claim the No. 1 yearend world ranking.]

--NBC is changing their figure skating main team to Johnny and Tara...Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski...after the duo proved to be a huge hit on NBCSN as the No. 2 team at Sochi. They are replacing Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic.

“They’re fun! They’re fresh!” NBC said of Johnny and Tara.

Hey, I agree.

--Speaking of the Olympics, the golf course that is to be used in 2016 down in Rio is in all kinds of legal trouble, with the public prosecutor saying environmental laws were broken during the course’s construction. This has been a fiasco since day one as golf returns to the Olympics after 112 years.

I’m guessing they could assemble a putt-putt course quickly if need be.

Top 3 songs for the week 10/24/60: #1 “I Want To Be Wanted” (Brenda Lee) #2 “Save The Last Dance For Me” (The Drifters...great tune...so is #1..) #3 “The Twist” (Chubby Checker...amazing he still performs this...and to save my life I cannot twist...it will be on my tombstone... “Here lies The Editor...creator of Bar Chat...chronicler of shark attacks and the All-Species List...beer drinker... never could do the twist.”)...and...#4 “My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own” (Connie Francis) #5 “Chain Gang” (Sam Cooke) #6 “Devil Or Angel” (Bobby Vee) #7 “Let’s Think About Living” (Bob Luman) #8 “So Sad” (The Everly Brothers) #9 “Mr. Custer” (Larry Verne) #10 “Theme From The Apartment” (Ferrante & Teicher...wow, what a great film, and terrific theme song...)

NFL Quiz Answer: Top five career touchdown passes who played at least part of their careers in the 1960s.

Fran Tarkenton, 342 (1961-78)
Johnny Unitas, 290 (1956-73)
Sonny Jurgensen, 255 (1957-74)
John Hadl, 244 (1962-77)
Y.A. Tittle, 242 (1948-64)

Next Bar Chat, Monday.