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Who is No. 1?
[Posted Sun. p.m.]
Golf Quiz: The Official World Golf Rankings debuted in 1986, the first No. 1 being Bernhard Langer, who held it for three weeks and no more. Name the nine to be No. 1 for 50 weeks or more. [Major hints: Only two are American. One of the nine has never won a major.] Answer below.
College Basketball Review
What an extraordinary season...big powers like Duke, Kansas and Kentucky struggling mightily at times...teams like West Virginia, which at mid-season was ranked No. 2, then proceeds to lose 6 of 9...Oklahoma up to No. 4, then loses 6 of 8....Duke in the top 4 all year, then loses inexplicably to St. John’s, which made it 3 of 4 in the loss column for the Blue Devils.
Speaking of St. John’s, how do you explain a Red Storm squad that had lost 11 in a row, was 10-13, and then proceeded to knock off No. 4 Duke, No. 1 Villanova, and, Saturday, a solid Marquette team to even its record at 13-13?
So, yes, March Madness is bound to be truly mad.
As for the action since last chat....
Wednesday, the aforementioned No. 1 Villanova Wildcats lost at home to St. John’s as the Red Storm’s Shamorie Ponds had 26.
And 3 Purdue lost at home to 14 Ohio State 64-63, as the Boilermakers’ nation’s best and program-record 19-game winning streak comes to an end, Purdue’s first Big Ten loss.
But 2 Virginia appeared ready to take over the No. 1 slot with a solid 59-55 at Florida State (17-7, 6-6).
Your “Pick to Click for the Final Four” Seton Hall Pirates, however, continued to struggle, falling to 17-7, 6-5, with an 88-85 home loss to Marquette (14-10, 5-7). This one really hurts.
Thursday. 21 North Carolina improved to 18-7, 7-5, with an 82-78 win over 9 Duke at the Dean Dome, the Blue Devils falling to 19-5, 7-4. Pitt transfer Cam Johnson had 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Tar Heels.
UCLA (17-7, 8-4) had an important win on the road, at 13 Arizona (19-6, 9-3) 82-74.
So it was on to Saturday, and No. 2 Virginia simply had to beat Virginia Tech, at home, to gain the No. 1 spot in the next AP poll, but noooo! The Cavaliers lost to the Hokies 61-60 in overtime, with Virginia Tech (18-7, 7-5) applying the defense Virginia is known for, holding the Cavaliers to 34.4% shooting from the field.
It didn’t help UVA (23-2, 12-1) that in OT, Devon Hall, a .934 free-throw shooter this season, missed two.
Meanwhile, 1 Villanova (23-2, 10-2) rebounded from the St. John’s shocker to beat Butler (17-9, 7-6) 86-75, as Donte DiVincenzo went off for 30.
So will 4 Michigan State become No. 1 after a 68-65 win over 3 Purdue (23-4, 12-2), the Stonewallers now 24-3, 12-2, and on an eight-game winning streak? I sure hope not.
Look, I used to respect Tom Izzo and his process in East Lansing. Not anymore.
Who is now No. 1 in the Big Ten? Try 14 Ohio State (22-5, 13-1), 82-64 winners over Iowa (12-15, 3-11). The Buckeyes should soar into the top 10.
5 Xavier (23-3, 11-2) just keeps doing its thing, 72-71 winners at Creighton (18-7, 8-5).
10 Kansas will be falling out of the top ten after an 80-64 loss at Baylor (15-10, 5-7), the Jayhawks 19-6, 8-4.
In a biggie for both the West Coast Conference, and NCAA seedings down the road, 12 Gonzaga won its rematch with 11 Saint Mary’s in Moraga, Ca., 78-65, the Zags now 23-4, 13-1, while the Gaels fall to 24-3, 13-1.
Jock Landale, the big senior center for Saint Mary’s destined for the NBA, had 26 points the first time the two teams met this season, the Gaels 74-71 winners. But last night, he was held to just 4 points, 18 below his average.
13 Arizona improved to 20-6, 10-3, with an 81-67 win over USC (17-9, 8-5. I got my fix of Bill Walton, who was doing the game, and I’ve decided after much thought that I want Walton doing my eulogy, not Jim Nantz. But I reserve the right to change my mind right up until my last breath.
21 North Carolina (19-7, 8-5), continuing its up-and-down season, beat North Carolina State (16-9, 6-6) in Raleigh behind Luke Maye’s best game of the campaign, 33 points, 17 rebounds.
22 Wichita State might be righting the ship, winning its second of the week, 95-74 over UConn (12-13, 5-7), the Shockers improving to 19-5, 9-3.
For the first time under coach John Calipari, 24 Kentucky (17-8, 6-6) has lost three in a row, the latest an 85-78 defeat at Texas A&M (17-8, 6-6). Kind of shocking.
Separately, I was very impressed with the Aggies’ cheerleaders, and at the end of the day....
Boston College (15-10, 5-7) had a nice win at home over 25 Miami (18-6, 7-5). I still say the Eagles, with a terrific threesome in the backcourt, can make some noise in the ACC Tournament. [Robinson, Chatman and Bowman had 60 of B.C.’s 72 points.]
Another bad loss for Seton Hall Saturday, 83-80 at Georgetown (14-10, 4-9), as the Pirates fall to 17-8, 6-6. Suddenly, The Hall needs to get its act together, and quick, as it has slid into the bubble for the Big Dance.
As I’ve said all season, if senior guard Khadeen Carrington doesn’t play well, essentially The Hall doesn’t stand a chance. After a terrific junior season, Carrington has sucked. You can look it up. In all eight of the Pirates’ losses, he has shot under 50% for the game, including 2 for 27 from three in those eight! Wow. [You won’t find this factoid anywhere else.]
And back to St. John’s, now 13-3, 2-11, after beating Marquette (14-11, 5-8) 86-78. Shamorie Ponds had 44 points on 16 of 23 from the field. Staggering stretch for both him and the Johnnies.
Today, Wake Forest lost again, at Syracuse, 78-70, the Deacs now 9-16, 2-11...just a freakin’ disaster. The Orange are 17-8, 6-6, and on the NCAA bubble, though they’ll need a big performance in the ACC Tournament.
Duke bounced back and defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta 80-69, the Blue Devils 20-5, 8-4; GT 11-15, 4-8.
I won’t begin to try to go over all the deals that transpired at the trade deadline (actually, there weren’t nearly as many as expected), except I do have to note the fascinating makeover for the Cleveland Cavaliers; the Cavs acquiring veteran point guard George Hill from Sacramento, shooting guard Rodney Hood from Utah, and dual guard Jordan Clarkson and power forward Larry Nance Jr. from the Lakers. In return, Cleveland shipped out or shed Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert, Dwyane Wade and their 2018 first-round pick.
I’d be pumped if I were a Cavs fan, at least for the remainder of the season. Hood, Clarkson and Nance Jr. are all 25 and solid players, ditto the 31-year-old Hill, and this should be a real shot in the arm for a Cleveland team that has been struggling mightily.
Granted, LeBron can easily bolt in the offseason, but it’s about now....go for it. And in Clarkson, Nance and Hood, you have the kind of athletic, young cast that just might convince LeBron to return.
Or he could be headed to L.A., the Lakers having cleared a ton of cap space. They could also target Oklahoma City star Paul George.
The four new additions to the Cavs announced that it was LeBron’s team and the offense will run through him.
As for Isaiah Thomas, as his health returns he gets to start over in Los Angeles. Even LeBron said, “He just needs to get his bounce back.” L.A. could be the perfect place for him to do so.
Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade headed back to Miami where he was given a heroes’ welcome. Smart move by the Heat, Miami being his long-time home.
As for the Knicks and their deals, I’m underwhelmed. They might win about six games the rest of the way.
Back to Cleveland, we’ll mark a particular day, Wednesday, when the 30-22 Cavs faced off at home against the Timberwolves and I happened to catch the end, including overtime, Cleveland emerging the 140-138 victor, as LeBron was beyond spectacular down the stretch, on both ends of the court.
James had blocked Jimmy Butler’s potential game-winner with 1.3 left in regulation, and then he won the game in OT on a buzzer-beating jumper over Butler’s outstretched hand; King James finishing with 37 points (16 of 22 shooting), along with 10 rebounds and 15 assists.
The 15 assists was a sign of things yet to come, as on Friday, in a 123-107 win at Atlanta, LeBron had 22 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high 19 assists! Kyle Korver had 30 for the Cavs, 7 of 13 from downtown. Yes, the offense is totally going to go thru King James the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, in Miami, Dwyane Wade made his return and while he was ineffective in 22 minutes, his presence clearly helped the Heat snap a five-game losing streak against the Bucks, 91-85.
Today, the Cavs had all their new additions and three of the four scored in double figures as Cleveland blew away the Celtics in Boston, 121-99. LeBron had 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists, Cleveland hitting 16 of 30 from three.
The Knicks fell to 23-34, 121-113 losers at Indiana (32-25).
George Will / Washington Post
“Even if, inexplicably, you occasionally think about things other than Major League Baseball, consider this: Why are many premier free agents, particularly sluggers and starting pitchers, unsigned even while we are hearing the loveliest four words, ‘pitchers and catchers report’? The Major League Baseball Players Association angrily says some teams are more interested in economizing than in winning. The real explanation is that teams are intelligently aligning their behavior with changing information.
“Teams increasingly behave alike because increasingly they think alike. They all have young graduates of elite colleges and universities whose data support the following judgments:
“Players become eligible for free agency after six years of major league service, which comes close to coinciding with the beginning of the downside of most careers. Besides, baseball has become younger since banning performance-enhancing drugs (amphetamines as well as steroids) that extended some careers. Thirty-two is the new 36. Baseball today is played as an all-or-nothing, strike-out-or-home-run game. This will not last – baseball strategy, like everything else in life, constantly evolves – but for now more batters are elevating their swings’ trajectories. So, the market is saturated with home-run hitters, some of whom have spurned nine-digit offers. Their agents should have anticipated softening demand for a surplus commodity.
“Baseball ‘analytics,’ a.k.a. information, demonstrate that most starting pitchers are most effective when constantly throwing hard, and are significantly less effective the third time through the opponents’ lineup. Hence relief pitchers are increasingly important – and increasingly well paid in even today’s severely rational market. Several high-revenue, high-spending teams (e.g., the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox) might be saving their money for a splurge eight months from now on the best free-agent class ever – the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, the Orioles’ Manny Machado, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and others. Furthermore, in the collective bargaining agreement negotiated just 14 months ago and running through 2021, the MLBPA agreed to a competitive balance tax of 20 percent on any portion of a payroll over $197 million, with the rate rising to 30 and 50 percent on second and third consecutive seasons over the threshold. This is what the MLBPA knew it was designed to be: a disincentive for spending, especially by the wealthiest teams, for the purpose of enhancing competitive balance....
“In the past 25 seasons, 22 of the 30 teams have played in the World Series and 14 have won it. No team has won consecutive World Series since the 1998-2000 Yankees.
“The Cubs’ and Astros’ successes have encouraged other teams to engage in what the MLBPA says is a ‘race to the bottom.’ Actually, teams that are tearing down old and mediocre rosters are accepting a plunge to produce momentum for a surge to the top. What fans most dislike, and what constitutes baseball malpractice, is consistent mediocrity – teams not talented enough to play in October but not bad enough to receive the right to draft the best young talent....
“Baseball, like the American economy generally in this era of high-quantity, high-velocity information, is more efficient at pricing assets and allocating resources than it was until recently. This intensified dynamic has winners and losers, but many more of the former than the latter. And to oppose this churning, in the national pastime or the nation itself, is to oppose the application of informed intelligence.”
Well, with the MLBPA all up in arms over the free agents that haven’t been signed, amid whispers of collusion, the Cubs on Saturday reached a six-year, $126 million deal with pitcher Yu Darvish, which, with escalators, could be even higher.
Darvish was 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA for the Rangers and Dodgers last season and is 56-42, 3.42, with 11 strikeouts per nine innings for his injury-riddled career. And you saw what the 31-year-old did in the postseason for L.A. last fall...two starts, two losses, 8 earned in 3 1/3.
Boy, I don’t understand what the Cubbies are doing here. Yes, I can see Darvish having a very solid first year, like 15-10, but this is a guy deserving of no more than three years.
I would have offered free agent Jake Arrieta, the same age, 3 years for $60 million with an option for a fourth year, and I’m guessing at this late date he takes it.
But with the Darvish signing, are the floodgates now open? Outside of three or four of the more high-profile guys like Eric Hosmer, I doubt it.
--We note the passing of former Cardinals and Dodgers outfielder Wally Moon. He was 87.
Moon played from 1954-65, winning Rookie of the Year honors that first season in St. Louis, 12 homers, 76 RBIs, .304, and clubbed 142 home runs and drove in 661 for his career, to go along with a .289 batting average and very solid .371 on-base percentage.
Moon was traded to the Dodgers in 1959 for Gino Cimoli after a down year and proceeded to help lead L.A. to the World Series, finishing fourth in the N.L. MVP voting while going 19-74, .302, with a league-leading 11 triples playing in the cavernous Coliseum.
You have to picture that the Coliseum’s dimensions, to say the least, were odd...a staggering 440 feet to right field, but only 251 down the left-field line (there was a 42-foot screen, however) so the Dodgers stacked their lineup with righties.
So Moon, a lefty, didn’t think he’d play much but after consulting with former teammate Stan Musial, Moon adjusted his swing and his stance so that he could drive the ball to left. His blasts became known as “Moon shots,” the most dramatic being a towering ninth-inning blast to left field in a 2-2 game against the Giants in 1959, a walk-off homer that helped carry the team to the World Series, where they knocked off the White Sox.
Moon grew up poor in Bay, Arkansas, and his father dropped out of school in the eighth grade, which he always regretted, so he made sure Moon went to college and Wally ended up at Texas A&M. When Moon signed a contract with the Cardinals, the stipulation was that he would only play during the summer months until he finished his master’s degree, the money he made playing part time set aside to help his younger sister go to school.
But he was rushed to the major leagues, a nervous lad as the Cards had traded fan favorite Enos Slaughter to clear a spot in the lineup for him. Moon then homered in his first at-bat and went on the become Rookie of the Year.
Moon didn’t play much after 1961, but he picked up three World Series rings with the Dodgers, 1959, ’63 and ’65, before retiring and moving his family back to Arkansas, where he took a job at small John Brown University, a private Christian college, serving as athletic director and baseball coach.
--Shu passed on a bit concerning a former Pittsburgh Pirate who I had not heard of, Diomedes Olivo, who in 1960 made his big league debt at 41 years old. 41! Olivo was from the Dominican Republic.
He only pitched 4 games in ’60, and then wasn’t in the majors in ’61, but at age 43 in ‘62 (which means he could have been 53, it being the DR and all), he was 5-1 in relief for the Buccos, 2.77 ERA, with 7 saves. As Ronald Reagan, then doing speeches as part of his gig with GE no doubt said at the time of Olivo, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
Olivo was then part of the trade that sent Dick Groat to St. Louis, the Pirates getting Don Cardwell and Julio Gotay in return.
Diomedes, now 44, went 0-5, 5.40 for the Cards. Career over. He died in 1977 at the too young age of 59.
--Finally, Bob Klapisch had a piece in the New York Post on former Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson and his battle with Alzheimer’s. There’s nothing to note in this space, except us long-time fans are pulling for our legendary shortstop, who will forever be remembered for standing up to Pete Rose in the 1973 NLCS; to this day among the top ten moments in Mets history.
Harrelson’s best friend from that period is Tom Seaver, who is also suffering from his own cognitive issues, though Seaver attributes it to Lyme disease.
The good thing is Buddy has an outstanding support system.
--Congratulations to Ted Potter Jr., a winner for a second time on tour by 3 shots over a rather august group that included Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson (and Chez Reavie, who is as hot as anyone in the sport) at the AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am, Potter’s first victory back in 2012, after which he spent four years in the wilderness while recovering from a fractured ankle. A true feel-good story.
--Saturday the commentators were talking about how they’ve never seen more top players miss more short putts and it was true. On Friday, Rory McIlroy, who was opening up his season on U.S. soil after two, third-place finishes in the Middle East, justifiably with high hopes, five-putted his 14th hole, and also three-putted four times (three of them in the last four holes) on his way to a 74. He then shot 72 Saturday and missed the cut by two.
--Thank you, CBS, for opting not to interview celebrities on the course Saturday, as has been the norm since I began watching this tournament. The only thing that came close was interviewing Larry Fitzgerald and Aaron Rodgers, but that was after the round and totally appropriate, Fitzgerald being part of the No. 1 pro-am team.
--Mark Calcavecchia won this week’s Champions Tour event, the 57-year-old’s fourth senior title and first since 2015; Calc a two-shot winner over ageless Bernhard Langer.
--Joel Beall of Golf World had a piece on Bill Murray and his affiliation with the Pebble Beach event, and how years ago then-Commissioner Deane Beman couldn’t stand Murray and his shenanigans, saying he didn’t want him, but when that failed, relegating Murray to a tee time that wasn’t conducive to the prime television coverage of celebrity Saturday.
Well, Beman’s successor, Tim Finchem, recognized Murray’s value and there haven’t been too many issues since.
As Beall writes:
“As he nears 70, Murray might not be the showman of yesteryear, but he continues to resonate in a way unmatched by anyone in the game. A tournament official relayed a tale that one year the gate was down from the previous season, a shock given Tiger Woods was in the field for the first time in awhile. The next winter, ticket sales were back up as Tiger once again skipped the event, and the team came to the realization that it was Murray, not Tiger, that connected with the people.
“ ‘Bill Murray transcends all generations of golf and non-golf fans alike,’ says Steve John, CEO and tournament director of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. ‘If you take a look at his gallery, you’ll see that it is made up from men and women ages 15-70.’
“And while he is the consummate entertainer inside the ropes, he also takes his golf seriously. He won with (D.A.) Points in the pro-am portion of the event in 2011, considered arguably Murray’s most impressive feat still to this day.
“In short, Murray embodied the ‘grow the game’ ideology years before golf made it a rallying cry.
“Officials find humor that some of Murray’s biggest critics are the same people who champion supplemental activities like Topgolf or the increasingly rowdy scenes at the Ryder Cup and Waste Management Phoenix Open. Without Murray, those seeds of acceptance would likely have never been planted. ‘This sounds sacrilegious,’ said a Pebble Beach spokesperson, ‘but other than Arnold Palmer, I’d put Murray up there with anyone in terms of influence over American public golf.’
--Tiger’s back next week at the Genesis Open / Riviera. As for where else he’ll tee it up before The Masters...a tradition unlike any other...on CBS...it seems he’ll play the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he’s won eight times, and the Honda Classic is located at his home.
The only thing is the Honda is the week after Riviera, and you’ve got the West Coast flight and all. I don’t know if I’d risk playing back-to-back weeks yet if I were him, no matter how good he feels.
Managing Tiger’s schedule...another free feature of Bar Chat.
--Being a regular watcher of the Premier League, and getting weekly updates from Lahinch Golf Club in County Clare, Ireland, it seems the weather the past year, or two, has been worse than ever in the British Isles. So I wasn’t surprised when the BBC published a study by the Climate Coalition that, on a related topic, perhaps, rising sea levels, the group notes the danger to many of Britain’s classic seaside links, such as St. Andrews and Royal Troon.
But it’s also about the excessive precipitation, with the report predicting “cancelled football matches, flooded cricket grounds and golf courses crumbling into the sea.”
Rising winter temperatures mean the Scottish skiing industry could collapse within 50 years (if not sooner).
The report says six of the UK’s seven wettest years on record have occurred since 2000. Not that I give a hoot, but cricket, as you can imagine, is one sport suffering big time with cancelled matches.
Extreme weather is huge in terms of participation. Imagine if you love soccer/football, but your field is always flooded. I mean as a kid, that wouldn’t be my idea of a good time. Let alone golf!
In the greater Glasgow area in 2016-17, “there was as much as 20% less playing time for courses compared to 10 years earlier, the report suggests.” That’s certainly my impression following the weather at Lahinch, as well.
Sorry, but I’m only getting into Alpine skiing, figure skating (individuals only), men’s ice hockey (maybe), and little else.
But we had to go through more bitching from speedskater Shani Davis, who skipped the Opening Ceremonies after he was not named the U.S. delegation’s flag bearer.
Luger Erin Hamlin was selected instead after a coin toss because she and Davis tied in votes.
Hamlin was the first U.S. athlete to medal in singles luge four years ago in Sochi and plans to retire after PyeongChang.
So that didn’t sit well with Davis, who is a two-time gold medalist and the first black athlete to win gold in an individual Winter Olympic event. Early Thursday morning U.S. time, he tweeted out his displease with Hamlin’s selection.
I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth
The flag bearer was chosen from a pool of eight nominees, as reported by the Associated Press. One representative from each of the U.S. winter sports federations voted. Hamlin and Davis each received four votes, so it was left to a coin toss, which was the process predetermined by the USOC.
Davis, 35, won one gold and one silver at both the 2006 and 2010 Games, and then flamed out in Sochi in his two events. His teammates say he’s a good mentor. But, hey, Shani, it was a split decision and you lost the coin toss. Don’t be a jerk.
--So just a reminder of the process. I wrote this last year, 1/26/17, citing Matthew Futterman’s column in the Wall Street Journal.
“Alan Ashley, chief of sports performance at the U.S. Olympic Committee, said so much effort goes into the creation of an Olympic champion that ‘when they succeed at the top the best thing to do is try to keep them there.’
“The problem is that money and staff are limited at both the privately-funded USOC and the national sports federations. The care and feeding of a top national team inevitably draws resources from development.”
So growing the talent pool has taken a back seat to keeping someone like now 35-year-old speedskater Shani Davis at the top of his game.
Here’s a fun fact. There are fewer than 1,000 U.S. speed skaters between the ages of 12 and 24, writes Futterman (I’m surprised it’s that many), while the Netherlands has tens of thousands of competitive speed skaters. Good lord!
--As for the early action, kudos to Red Gerard, the 17-year-old who picked up America’s first gold in snowboarding.
Adam Kilgore / Washington Post
“Cans of Cass Light, Budweiser and Fitz had been flowing all morning at the base of the hill, but they could not staunch the anxiety the Gerard clan felt Sunday as Red Gerard stood on the top of the slopestyle course, ready for his last run. They had come together, 18 deep, to cheer on the second youngest of seven siblings, the 17-year-old, 115-pound pipsqueak becoming America’s latest snowboard sensation. They waved cutouts of his head on sticks, U.S. flags and signs, including one that read, ‘We’re here to get Gerarded!’”
So Gerard “executed a flawless, electrifying and audacious run that vaulted a rider admired by his peers into a wholly different level of fame. Gerard’s 87.16-point run, punctuated by a spinning, flipping jump through the mountain chill, launched him into first place and ultimately earned him the United States’ first medal of the Games, a gold that would cause those rowdy Gerards to let the party rage all night.
“ ‘If we’re not in jail,’ brother Brendon Gerard said, ‘then something didn’t go right.’
“ ‘Right on,’ father Conrad Gerard said, shortly after dispensing a Cass Light empty.
“Let the celebration begin, all Saturday night in America and for who-knows-how-long over here, with this loud, lovable and loaded gang of Gerards....
“ ‘I saw a video of them shotgunning beers at 8:30 a.m.,’ Gerard said. ‘I’m pretty sure they’re doing just fine.’”
Gerard was 11th out of the 11 riders still alive after his first two runs, having failed to land any jumps.
“ ‘It wasn’t stressful,’ sister Tieghan Gerard said afterward. ‘The kid had it the whole time!’
“ ‘It was f----- stressful,’ Brendon Gerard said.”
--What is North Korea’s cheer squad chanting? An analysis reveals stuff like “Go team!” And, “Go for it, go for it, our players, go for it!” or, alternately, “Victory! Our players, win! Win!”
Win or you face a labor camp, I mused.
But there’s another chant that, translated, means “Nice to meet you.”
So I got to thinking, if us Mets fans had a formal cheer squad, we’d chant things like, “Our team doctors blow!” And, “How do you spell relief? Beats us!”
--The 49ers signed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a record five-year extension, $137.5 million, with $86.4 million guaranteed over the first three seasons, another record ($48.7M the first year). The $27.5 million per season figure is $500,000 per more than Detroit’s Matthew Stafford.
Garoppolo, traded by New England, much to Pats coach Bill Belichick’s extreme dismay, took over a 1-10 team that was looking for the first pick in the upcoming draft and guided them to a 5-0 record the rest of the way, making his career mark as a starter 7-0. It’s a marriage made in heaven out in San Francisco. A great story.
--Tony Dungy is furious with how Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels screwed the Colts. Then again, everyone in the league is pissed off at McDaniels, who was convinced to stay in New England by owner Robert Kraft and Belichick, though, reportedly, no assurances were given him that he would succeed Belichick when he retired.
Dungy, responding to ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s tweet about a message he had received from an NFL executive: “I’m sure this is unpopular in our instant take world but good for Josh. It’s not his fault playoff system and interview window is as it is,” Dungy fired back:
“That’s very sad Adam. When is it ‘good’ for someone to go back on their word? We’re not talking about simply changing your mind. Everyone knows how the hiring system works. Kyle Shanahan, Dan Quinn, many others had the same system. Whoever said that has the wrong values in life!
“You make those decisions before you say I Do,” Dungy continued. “Don’t get married start a family then say I changed my mind. He didn’t sign the contract but he said I Do. That is common decency and integrity. You don’t do that to the families of your peers.”
McDaniels former agent cut ties with McDaniels this week, calling his decision to stay in New England “career suicide.”
--In college ball, Georgia locked up the No. 1 recruiting class for 2018 with national signing day, ESPN 300 ranking Georgia’s class ahead of Ohio State, Texas, Alabama, Penn State and Clemson...Miami, Auburn, Oklahoma and Notre Dame rounding out the top 10.
The vast majority of signings happen in December, when most FBS schools put together the bulk of their classes, but for those who remained undecided, you had the second signing day last week.
For example, the top two defensive backs, according to ESPN, Patrick Surtain Jr. and Tyson Campbell, waited until last week to commit to Alabama and Georgia, respectively.
--Gee, only two people were stabbed at the Philadelphia Eagles’ parade on Thursday! And only four police cars were dented by drunks stomping on them! Only one officer was assaulted...by a woman trying to get onto the parade route, and there were just two arrests for simple assault.
Phil W. passed along a piece from Tim Harlow of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“A Philadelphia Eagles fan scored an ill-gotten souvenir Sunday when he ripped off a purple plastic seat from U.S. Bank Stadium following Super Bowl LII. His act soon went viral.
“He slipped it out of the stadium, sneaked it past security on the busiest day ever at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday and on to an American Airlines flight. While he got away, cameras caught him in the act and shared the evidence online.
“The man had his new souvenir strapped to his carry-on suitcase when he pulled up a seat next to Marcus Certa in the gate area, and boldly let everybody within earshot know who the new world champions were.
“ ‘I kept waiting for somebody to say that he was too intoxicated to get on the plane or that he had a stolen item,’ said Certa, who was returning to Vermont after attending Sunday’s game. ‘The TSA and the feds are more concerned how much pot you have, not that you have a seat stolen from a stadium.’”
The seat heist wasn’t the only mischief / damage inflicted on the stadium. “Zak Fick had his camera rolling to capture Eagles fans’ joy in section 307 when their team won their first Super Bowl title.
“And then he caught something else: fans busting up purple plastic seats in a section of U.S. Bank Stadium where tickets went for more than $1,200.”
What a bunch of amazing a-holes. Cue Jeff Spicoli.
As Phil and I mused, both fellow Jets fans, I have long argued we are about the worst in professional sports, when you see our behavior on game days. [I used to have Jets season tickets long ago, which I purchased from Phil’s family.]
But it’s not even close. Eagles fans are easily the worst. Jets fans have a penchant for not being able to find a proper bathroom. Eagles fans just want to destroy stuff.
--The knock against my Tottenham Spurs, rightfully so, is that in matches against its fellow Big Six rivals, it more often than not came up short and would never be truly elite until it could win more than it lost in those 10 games each season.
So Tottenham just finished up its toughest stretch of the year, with games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, and beat Man U 2-0, drew with Liverpool 2-2, and defeated Arsenal 1-0 yesterday on Harry Kane’s brilliant header. That, sports fans, is getting it done, and now the Spurs are in the drivers’ seat for another Champions League berth, even though they could be fifth after Monday, the schedule the rest of the way highly favorable (if Tottenham isn’t too tired from its upcoming Champions League matchups).
Elsewhere on Saturday, Swansea continued its resurgence, a fine 1-0 win over solid Burnley. Man City blasted Leicester 5-1, and Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-1.
Today, Newcastle shocked Man U, 1-0, a massive win in the battle to avoid relegation, while Huddersfield also had a huge victory in this regard, 4-1 over Bournemouth. Lastly, Southampton lost to Liverpool.
So after 27 of 38 matches....ties broken by goal differential....
1. Man City 72 points
2. Man U 56
3. Liverpool 54
4. Tottenham 52 ...Champions League line
5. Chelsea 50*
6. Arsenal 45
7. Burnley 36
13. Newcastle 28
14. Brighton 28
15. Crystal Palace 27
16. Swansea 27
17. Huddersfield 27 ...relegation line
18. Southampton 26
19. Stoke 25
20. West Brom 20
*Chelsea, losers of two-in-a-row, plays match No. 27 Monday, hosting West Brom.
--I’ve been writing a lot about the inequality not just in the Premier League, but throughout European football...the whole rich getting richer deal.
So Rory Smith had a piece in the New York Times this weekend, talking of how the Champions League enriches the same teams in the lesser Euro leagues, such as in Greece, or Switzerland, Bulgaria and Scotland, where the same teams each year qualify for the Champions League by virtue of winning their regular-season league titles; clubs such as Celtic and Olympiacos.
It’s simple. Qualify for the Champions League and even clubs not qualifying for the knockout round (Round of 16), can take home $20 million or more, which is a huge competitive advantage for them in competing with others in their respective league for talent. So it’s a vicious cycle (or what the beneficiaries would say is a virtuous cycle, I imagine).
It’s all I write about when it comes to the PL, the Big Six.
Speaking of the Champions League, the Knockout Stage begins this week, home-and-home matches with the final 16, five Premier League teams still in it...Man City, Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham. [Man U having qualified for the Champions League by virtue of winning the second-tier Europa League final last spring.]
--The Daytona 500 is next Sunday, NASCAR’s Super Bowl, and they held the qualifying today for the pole and Alex Bowman, in his official debut as the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet, driven for years by Dale Earnhardt Jr. before retiring last season, won it. Pretty awesome.
Denny Hamlin qualified second. Only he and Bowman are locked into the field, the rest to be determined Thursday in the Can-Am Duel races.
Bowman, 24, filled in for Earnhardt in 10 races after Dale Jr. suffered a concussion in 2016, and that was enough to convince car owner Rick Hendrick to tab him when Earnhardt said he was retiring.
--We note the passing of actor John Gavin, 86. Gavin appeared in “Spartacus,” “Psycho” and other hit films of the 1960s before becoming President Reagan’s ambassador to Mexico.
In “Psycho,” Gavin played Janet Leigh’s divorced lover, Sam Loomis, but his performance was overshadowed by those of Leigh as the frightened thief who steals $40,000 to keep their romance together and by Anthony Perkins as the psychotic owner of the Bates Motel where she seeks shelter on her way to meet her lover.
Gavin’s career sputtered by the end of the 1960s, and in 1981 Reagan named him ambassador to Mexico, a move that wasn’t just political patronage. Gavin’s father had been a big investor in Mexico and his Mexican-born mother’s ancestors were among California’s first Spanish settlers. Gavin had traveled extensively to Mexico in his youth and was fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. But it ended up being a kind of tumultuous five-year tenure in the post.
--WFAN sports radio here in New York hired a trio to replace Mike Francesa – Bart Scott, Chris Carlin and Maggie Gray – and I have literally listened to about ten minutes of them. As I’ve told you, unless there is a sports bulletin of some kind, the only time I listen to sports radio is in the car, but I’d often plan my schedule, doing errands and heading to the park for a run, around Francesa’s opening at 1:00 and I sure as hell am not doing that these days. Nothing against the three, but FAN just screwed up by not promoting from within.
Anyway, I’m reading Phil Mushnick’s column in the New York Post and he had some advice for the trio, who are off to a shaky start.
“ 1) Relax. Good talk radio is more rocking chair than electric chair.
“ 2) Stop with all the pre-program planning as it pertains to what they state at the top they plan to discuss. Just let it happen.
“ 3) Change drivers every few exits. No two or three drivers drive alike, so mix it up.
“ 4) Listen to tapes of the best unscripted radio teams in history. Bob and Ray, the Phillies’ tandem of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn. Hear how it flowed – no frills, just relaxed, clever, entertaining radio regardless of the subject.”
Ah yes, Bob and Ray. I still listen to their tapes from time to time. Sheer brilliance.
So I loved this bit by Mushnick on the duo.
“Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding had little in common off the air. They rarely socialized together. But when their shows hit the air, they succeeded with extemporaneous nonsense, swapping the roles of straight man while playing off each other with remarkable ease.
“When Elliott noted it was Washington’s birthday, Goulding explained that “George Washington was one of our first presidents.”
Look ‘em up if you forgot how good Bob and Ray were.
But back to Mushnick, among his other suggestions for the new trio at the FAN is, “Interview Mr. Met... Have the U.S. Ambassador from Trinidad and Tobago explain the unfair advantage of having one Olympic team rather than two.”
In other words, relax and have some fun.
--Clint Eastwood, 87, directed the just-released film “The 15:17 to Paris,” which was shot at various locales in Europe and of course wherever he went, Eastwood was bugged for selfies. Needless to say he hates them.
“I don’t like selfie sticks and I don’t like selfies. Period. But you get asked to do so many of them. It’s a pain in the rear.”
Selfies are a big part of the movie because the three stars / heroes, loved taking them on their travels, so Eastwood worked it into the film.
--So I’m reading the Sydney Morning Herald and there is this horror story.
“A cattle farmer in central Queensland has been bitten by a seven-foot brown snake while riding a motorbike, causing the man to fall from the bike and fight to pull the reptile off after it latched onto his leg.”
“He managed to escape from the ‘enormous [and] highly-venomous’ snake and raise the alarm, before being flown to Mackay Base Hospital on Saturday.”
So you might be thinking, how the heck did this happen?
“He rode his motorbike over the top of the reptile, causing it to rear up and bite him on his lower right leg through his jeans.
“Rescue air crewman Shane Bargh (that’s an Aussie name for you...like a rugby player) said the man fell off his bike and grabbed the snake behind the back of the head to pull it off his leg.
“The patient told medical staff the snake was ‘so big’ it took his entire hand span to grab its head.”
The patient was “very unwell” and suffering from “envenomation.” He had severe chest pain.
“Untreated, envenomation by a brown snake can result in paralysis, uncontrollable bleeding and possible death.”
Since day one of Bar Chat I’ve written of the brown tree snakes on Guam, and now, if I ever go back there, I’ll never sleep.
--Did you see the picture of Michael Strahan with his gal pal Kayla Quick the other day? Strahan, 46, and his 20-somethig girlfriend were dining together on the Upper East Side.
I only bring it up because it seems Ms. Quick has a criminal past, with arrests for disorderly conduct and grand theft. In 2005 she was arrested for alleged burglary of her own grandmother’s home. [Didn’t see why the article I read said “alleged” and not “convicted” or what happened...and I have more important things to do than explore further.]
The point is...what the heck is Strahan thinking?
Top 3 songs for the week 2/13/65: #1 “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” (The Righteous Brothers) #2 “Downtown” (Petula Clark) #3 “This Diamond Ring” (Gary Lewis and the Playboys)...and...#4 “The Name Game” (Shirley Ellis) #5 “My Girl” (The Temptations) #6 “Hold What You’ve Got” (Joe Tex) #7 “All Day And All Of The Night” (The Kinks) #8 “Shake” (Sam Cooke) #9 “The Jolly Green Giant” (The Kingsmen) #10 “I Go To Pieces” (Peter and Gordon)
Golf Quiz Answer: The nine to be No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings:
Tiger Woods 683 weeks
Greg Norman 331
Nick Faldo 97
Rory McIlroy 95
Seve Ballesteros 61
Luke Donald 56
Jason Day 51
Dustin Johnson 51 (entering this week)
Ian Woosnam 50
Next Bar Chat, Thursday. [Actually, late Wed. I am heading out of town for a brief trip that involves a lot driving, ergo, a highly-abbreviated chat next time.]