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Dodgers Get Their Act Together
NFL Quiz: 1) Name the only rusher to have a 99-yard run (regular season). 2) Name the only three to have two 90-yard runs. [The answer to No. 1 has nothing to do with No. 2] Answers below.
--Huge game in Los Angeles Tuesday night as the surging Dodgers attempted to put away the Giants...Zack Greinke vs. Madison Bumgarner.
Greinke and the Dodgers prevailed 2-1, Greinke allowing one earned in 7.1 innings to move to 15-3, 1.59, while Bumgarner gave up two earned in 7 to fall to 16-7, 2.96 and officially out of the Cy Young award chase.
The Dodgers have won 7 of their last 8 as their much-maligned bullpen has a 0.66 ERA over this span.
L.A. is now 5 ½ up on San Francisco with Clayton Kershaw on the mound tonight.
--I posted last time before the Cubs-Dodgers Sunday night game, so before Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter, the second time in ten days the Dodgers had been no-hit. L.A. had never been no-hit twice in a season.
But I had mentioned Arrieta and the superb season he is having the other day and on Sunday he became the major league’s first 17-game winner, 17-6, in lowering his ERA to 2.11 in the process. He also finished August with a 6-0 record and a 0.43 ERA for the month. That’s rather strong, boys and girls.
So with Bumgarner’s loss, Arrieta is Zack Greinke’s last remaining major competition for the Cy Young.
--Since the Mets called up outfielder Michael Conforto, they are 25-12. They are also 20-2 against two last-place teams – Philadelphia and Colorado, including Tuesday’s 14-8 loss to the Phillies at Citi Field.
The Mets, however, stayed 6 ½ in front of the Nationals as Washington blew another 5-3, 7th-inning lead against the Cardinals to lose for a second consecutive night 8-5.
“A lot of us have been big dummies in spotting this overarching trend. The grand expensive overkill Nats rotation – the ‘strength that was strengthened,’ according to the team when Max Scherzer was signed last winter – was supposed to be the strongest element of any team in the entire sport. It was so overloaded that the Nats couldn’t find a spot for 15-game winner Tanner Roark. Prepare to behold greatness.
“Yet this rotation of Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez has turned out to be the core reason Washington is 5 ½ games behind the Mets...rather than looking them square in the eye down the stretch. Point plenty of fingers. Start with them.
“Last year’s top five Nats starters allowed 3.22 runs (all runs, not just ‘earned runs’) per nine innings. This year, the top five, the supposedly super quintet, have allowed 4.12 runs per nine frames. The math isn’t tough. At this rate, the five top starters will give up 75 more runs than last year. Subtract about eight wins. That’s crushing.
“This was supposed to be a Nationals rotation to tell your grandkids about. Instead, the family dog now puts its paws over its eyes.”
--The Angels scored a major league-low 86 runs in August, the team’s worst month since August of 1999, while losing an A.L.-worst 19. They did start out September with a 6-2 win over the A’s.
--The Kansas City Royals have a scary situation on their hands...chickenpox. All-Star reliever Kelvin Herrera and outfielder Alex Rios have been diagnosed with the highly contagious disease and both are quarantined and probably out for two weeks.
--I heard a stat on the Mets’ broadcast Tuesday about Atlanta pitcher Shelby Miller, who in his last 19 starts is 0-11, but with a 3.13 ERA! Overall, Miller is 5-12, 2.56! On May 17, he was 5-1, 1.33.
--I was reading a story in USA TODAY Sports Weekly by Ted Berg on the odds of some players breaking Barry Bonds’ HR mark, like 9-1 for Alex Rodriguez, 10-1 for Albert Pujols.
Berg says Giancarlo Stanton is 25-1 and that might seem too high to some of you, but Berg reminds us of something important. In Stanton’s five full seasons, he has appeared in 145 games just twice. By comparison, Hank Aaron played in at least 145 in 16 straight seasons, 1955-70.
As the years go by, a different stat in Aaron’s career stands out. For me, now it’s his seven seasons of 120 or more RBIs. He had 11 with 100+ but only two under 110. No cheapie century marks for the real Home Run King.
Anyway, back to Stanton, you do have to wonder just how durable he’ll be the next 10 seasons.
--Sept. 2, 1962...Stan Musial lines a pinch-hit single off the Mets’ Al Jackson for his 3,515th hit, thus surpassing Tris Speaker for No. 2 on the all-time list to Ty Cobb. Musial, 41, hit .330 that season, his next to last.
The season gets underway with a rather uninteresting opening weekend, save for 20 Wisconsin at 3 Alabama on Saturday night. [I can’t get excited by Louisville at 6 Auburn, or Texas at 11 Notre Dame, but I’ll check ‘em out if they’re close.]
Thursday we have North Carolina at South Carolina, as well as Michigan (Harbaugh’s debut) at Utah.
--Everett Golson, the former Notre Dame quarterback and a graduate transfer to Florida State, has been named the starter for the Seminoles, as he beat out junior Sean Maguire, who backed up Jameis Winston the past two seasons.
Golson started 23 games for the Irish, sandwiched around a 2013 campaign that he sat out for academic reasons, completing 59.5 percent of his passes for 5,850 yards and 41 touchdowns, while adding 14 scores on the ground.
But he also had 22 turnovers last season, with 14 interceptions and 8 fumbles.
--UCLA starting cornerback Ishmael Adams has been arrested on suspicion of felony robbery after allegedly taking a phone from an Uber driver early Sunday morning. The 13th-ranked Bruins open against Virginia at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
Adams allegedly used force to take the phone and he’s being held on $100,000 bail! The idiot started all 26 games for the Bruins over the previous two seasons, returning two interceptions for touchdowns last year. He also had a 100-yard kickoff return for a score last season against Arizona State.
He was officially suspended indefinitely from the team.
--Redskins Coach Jay Gruden named Kirk Cousins the starter at quarterback. “It’s Kirk’s team,” Gruden said on Monday, saying it was more about Cousins winning the job than Robert Griffin III losing it.
RG3 is owner Daniel Snyder’s guy so Gruden is taking a big risk with his own career.
Troy Aikman said the following on Sunday during a preseason game between the Saints and Texans.
“It’s pretty bizarre, huh? Someone compared the Redskins to the Kardashians, saying they’re the Kardashians of the NFL.
“I don’t think that’s fair – I don’t think the Kardashians are nearly as dysfunctional.”
The “someone” was probably CSN Mid-Atlantic analyst Trevor Matich, as reported by the Washington Post’s Des Bieler, who said, “If you dropped in from Mars, you’d think Colt McCoy was the backup, Kirk Cousins was the starter, and RG3 was the third-stringer.”
--So we are waiting for U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman’s ruling on DeflateGate, since the two sides couldn’t reach a compromise. The Patriots open the regular season against the Steelers next Thursday.
--No. 7 Ana Ivanovic and No. 8 Karolina Pliskova were upset in their first round matches, while Serena Williams’ opponent quit due to injury, Serena already up 6-0, 2-0. Coupled with the 7- and 8-seeds going out, incredibly, this means Serena won’t play a top ten seed until the finals, if at all.
--On the men’s side, day one saw No. 4 Kei Nishikori upset in five sets by Benoit Paire. Tuesday, No. 3 Andy Murray survived the antics of volatile Australian Nick Kyrgios.
--As first reported by John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, CBS’ golf analyst David Feherty is leaving the network, which is a huge blow to CBS. The two couldn’t reach an agreement on his “role in the network’s golf coverage,” said SBJ so last week’s tournament – the Barclays – was his last.
Feherty already has a relationship with NBC, with his self-titled show on the NBC Sports-owned Golf Channel, so he could end up there. Fox could obviously use him, but they only air a handful of events, while NBC not only has the Ryder Cup, it is picking up the British Open in 2017.
--When SMU’s Bryson DeChambeau won the U.S. Amateur, he became one of just five players to have won the NCAA championship and then the U.S. Am in the same year, the others being Ryan Moore (2004), Tiger Woods (1996), Phil Mickelson (1990), and Jack Nicklaus (1961).
DeChambeau and Jordan Spieth will be paired at next summer’s U.S. Open at Oakmont (not sure if they also will be at The Masters...a tradition unlike any other...on CBS).
SMU fans like Paul P. have a major rising star to follow in DeChambeau...just another in this incredible young group headed by the Big Three.
--Speaking of two of them, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth, while it’s a certainty Spieth is the Player of the Year because of his incredible performance in the majors...1-1-4-2...Day has had almost an equally great year. If Day ended up winning the FedEx Cup, some will argue he had a better one, but two majors trumps anything else.
That said, Spieth has 4 wins and 14 top 10s in 22 events this year. Day has 4 wins and 9 top 10s in 17 events (3 top 10s in majors).
--I was reading a piece in Golfweek on the European tour event in Denmark that was held opposite the Wyndham Championship, and the latter received publicity for its big crowds owing to Tiger’s appearance (and until Sunday solid play). Like 35,000 a day on the weekend, far more than normal for this event.
But golf-starved Denmark turned out an average of over 20,000 a day for its four rounds, despite there being only one top-50 player in the field, Mark Warren, the defending champ. So the question for organizers is just how many would show if a Justin Rose or Rory McIlroy played.
--Speaking of making appearances at events not considered that popular, as John Feinstein first reported in Golf Digest (and Golf Channel), a proposal is out there that would require any tour veteran among the previous year’s top 125 to play in an official event that golfer had not played in five years. Players who entered more than 25 events the previous year would be exempt, although veterans such as Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Jim Furyk – let alone Tiger – don’t play that often. The proposal would go into effect for the 2016-17 season, and players who don’t comply would lose retirement income. [Or the tour’s policy board could reward those who do comply rather than penalizing offenders.]
The thing is corporations aren’t going to continue to shell out $10 million to be a title sponsor if their event doesn’t have any marquee players. The PGA Tour has been spoiled.
On the other hand, there are so many good, marketable stars (or guys like Brooks Koepka who are about to bust through in a big way), that each event is almost guaranteed to have a few good ones, which in the days before Tiger in particular just wasn’t the case. Older golf fans remember those dark years. [Hint: Bob Tway was a ‘star.’]
--So on Sunday, I was mostly watching the Mets game and only had an occasional look-in at The Barclays until the game was over, but I didn’t realize Donald Trump appeared on the grounds until I read a piece by Steve Politi at NJ.com (aka the Star-Ledger).
“Donald Trump was stopped immediately at the front entrance to Plainfield Country Club for his first of more than a hundred (no exaggeration) selfies and then headed inside. He took another quick selfie with Eric LeGrand – ‘Eric! Great to see you!’ he said to the stunned former Rutgers football player – and then set off to watch the golf tournament.
“I have seen some unusual things on a golf course, including Tiger Woods returning to professional golf at the Masters after his made-for-the-tabloids sex scandal. Nothing tops this for sheer insanity. The best golfers in the world were lining up putts for a $1.4 million prize, but the bigger galleries were formed around the businessman and reality TV star who suddenly is the frontrunner for the Republican party’s presidential nomination.
“And make no mistake: He loved every minute of it. An impromptu security detail of six Edison police officers surrounded him, but Trump made it clear that he wanted no special ‘inside the ropes’ access that would take him away from the people. He wanted to be seen.
“ ‘This is an affirmation,’ he told me. ‘People want out country to be good again. This is a great affirmation. You see it. Not a heckler in the whole group out of the thousands of people.’
“That might sound like hyperbole, but it wasn’t too far off. I followed him closely for more than an hour, and the only thing close to heckling occurred when one fan said to the cops around him, ‘You’re protecting this guy? What happens when he cuts all your pensions?’
“Trump didn’t hear that one. Mostly, he heard screams of ‘Mr. President!’ and ‘Don’t quit on us!’ At one point, Steve Sanguiliano, from Flemington, yelled, ‘I hate Rosie O’Donnell, too!’ so Trump grabbed him and said, ‘Come in for a quickie selfie.’....
“(Trump) found hockey great Wayne Gretzky, whose son-in-law, Dustin Johnson, won this tournament here four years ago, and they chatted for a few minutes. When Johnson walked past the pair after teeing off on the 15th hole, Gretzky called out to get his attention.
Politi continues with his terrific account. At one point when Trump asked him what paper he worked for, Trump said how much he loved the Star-Ledger and then insisted the reporter go with him to meet the military folks at the course. “He’s coming with me,” Trump told the cops, dragging Politi with him.
In the clubhouse Trump was mobbed. “Finally, he quieted the room with his familiar voice and asked the crowd, ‘Who loves the Star-Ledger?’ People cheered.
“ ‘Make sure he writes well about me,’ he said to the crowd. ‘If he doesn’t, kick his ass.’
“The crowd laughed, and with that, he was out the door and back on the course. He had a meeting with PGA commissioner Tim Finchem, and soon after, he was back in the SUV and speeding away.
[Ed. sorry to drop some politics on you for this normally politics free column, but to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I paid for this site!]
Since my last post, things have changed a little. I didn’t see that trainer Bob Baffert said on Sunday, a day after the Travers, “He was valiant in defeat. If he would have stopped running and finished fifth or sixth, you would have scraped me off the track. I would have been so mad at myself. You begin to feel like they’re invincible, and you forget they all get beat.”
Baffert also said, “No regrets. I’m glad we brought him.”
By the way, as the New York Times’ Joe Drape reported, NBC’s broadcast of the Travers “was up 102 percent from last year, and the audience – more than 1.5 million viewers – was nearly triple the network’s average for its Premier League soccer telecasts.” [Another story I saw put the audience at 3.4 million, making it the most-watched Travers in the last 20 years.]
Drape: “American Pharoah may been beaten, but he hardly embarrassed himself, and the applause that greeted him as he was led off the racetrack Saturday evening was a testament to the awe and the respect he has stirred in horse lovers.
“The colt was clearly not at his peak, but he had plenty of chances to wilt from a long, harassing, flank-to-flank challenge thrown down by the jockey Jose Lezcano, aboard Frosted. Instead, when his rival put a head in front of American Pharoah, the colt dug in and blew by him. Still, it took the starch out of American Pharoah, who did not have enough left to hold off the fast-closing Keen Ice.”
But here is the bottom line since I posted last Sunday. Baffert seems reenergized. He wants to rest Pharoah back in California for a few weeks and then begin to train it for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a potentially history-making race in his finale.
Separately, Pia Catton of the Wall Street Journal notes that when it comes to the Breeders’ Cup era, which began in 1984 (the last Triple Crown winner being in 1978), 3-year-olds have won 10 times in the 31 runnings, with only Sunday Silence in 1989 and Unbridled in 1990 winning the Kentucky Derby and the Classic in the same year.
--I didn’t have time last chat to mention that Scott Dixon won the IndyCar series title on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, tying Juan Pablo Montoya in points but winning the championship based on his three wins to Montoya’s two.
So Dixon, a most popular figure in the sport, wins his fourth championship. He also has 38 wins, fifth all-time.
Dixon acknowledged he was thinking of the family of Justin Wilson, Wilson having died after injuries sustained Aug. 23 at Pocono Raceway.
Craven will forever be remembered, first and foremost, for “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and Freddy Krueger.
But he didn’t always like who he had become, one of the great horror directors, when he told ABC News in 2010: “Sometimes you fight what you are, what you’re doing. At a certain point you say, you know I’m really good at this and people really seem to enjoy what I do and I’ve definitely left a mark on American cinema of some sort or another.”
Craven also directed the “Scream” series and actress Rose McGowan, who co-starred in them, called Craven “the kindest man, the gentlest man, and one of the smartest men I’ve known.”
Ironically, Craven was born in Cleveland in 1939 and raised by strict Baptist parents who didn’t allow him to watch movies. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins University, but then when he was working as a professor at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., he became a fixture at the local art house theater and his life changed.
As in Craven ditched the academic life and decided to enter the film business, where he started out writing and directing pornographic films (not under his real name of course...which is why I never sign this column myself...come to think of it...but I digress...).
So he filmed “The Last House on the Left” – a story of two teenage girls who are taken into the woods and tortured by a violent gang – for $90,000; though it was censored in many countries for its extreme violence.
But then came “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and Freddy Krueger and the film earned $25 million at the box office, spawning a franchise.
And then there was 1996’s “Scream,” which grossed $173 million worldwide and resulted in another franchise.
--I was looking through the new television season (outside of news and sports, the only two shows I watched last year were “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones”), and I’ll check out “The Muppets” (Sept. 22, ABC) and “The Last Kingdom” (Oct. 10, BBC America). This second one is about the early English against the invading Vikings; the story of King Alfred the Great.
--If you live in the Boston area, I saw in TIME that there is a big exhibit of 17th century art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts...75 works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, Jan Steen and others. This is a helluva show...and I can’t imagine the expense (and insurance premiums) to collect these works from all over.
--No, didn’t watch the VMAs on Sunday night. For 16+ years here at Bar Chat, I’ve tried to keep up, to stay hip, and more often than not catch the major award shows, but for the record, in accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, the VMAs lifetime achievement honor, Kanye West, after being hugged by presenter Taylor Swift, said (after thanking Taylor “for being so gracious”):
“I fight for artists but by doing that I was disrespectful to artists. I didn’t know how to say the right thing, the perfect thing....
“Sometimes I feel like all this they run about beef and all that sometimes I feel like I died for the artists’ opinion for the artist to be able to have an option after they were successful. I’m not no politician, bro.”
Then he said he’s running for president in 2020 and left the stage.
Top 3 songs for the week 9/3/77: #1 “Best Of My Love” (Emotions...eh...) #2 “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” (Andy Gibb...was #1 3 weeks earlier...could be worse, I guess...) #3 “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher” (Rita Coolidge...background music is dreadful...) ...and...#4 “Easy” (Commodores....cough cough...major slow dance tune at Wake Forest...and everywhere else in the country at this time...we just need to carry on...) #5 “Handy Man” (James Taylor...if you were drinking beer with friends, this was about the last tune you would put on...) #6 “Float On” (The Floaters...simply one of the great songs of all time...Cancer and my name is Larry...you have to YouTube it...) #7 “Just A Song Before I Go” (Crosby, Stills & Nash...bor-ring!...) #8 “Don’t Stop” (Fleetwood Mac... NO! MAKE IT STOP!...) #9 “Strawberry Letter 23” (The Brothers Johnson...this one has aged pretty well...) #10 “Telephone Line” (Electric Light Orchestra)
NFL Quiz Answers: 1) Tony Dorsett has the only 99-yard run in the NFL in the regular season, 1982 (DAL). 2) Three to have two 90-yard runs: Ahman Green: 98, 2003; 90, 2004 (GNB). Bo Jackson, 92, 1989; 91, 1987 (OAK); Chris Johnson, 94, 2012; 91, 2009 (TEN).
*By the way, folks, are you wondering why I haven’t introduced the All-Species List link yet? I need funding. Click on the gofundme link above if you haven’t already done so, or you can send a check to PO Box 990, New Providence, NJ 07974. The support is appreciated.