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One more time...
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
NBA Quiz: Name the five to lead the league in rebounding at least five seasons (average per game). Answer below.
Super Bowl LIII...the final word....
--Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal
“Look, you action-addicted, thrill-seeking ingrates, they can’t all be Super Bowls!
“They can’t even all be Super-ish. Sometimes...they’re Barely Adequate.
“The game got (sort of) interesting late, but I suspect many of us may never remember where we were on Feb. 3, 2019, when the New England Patriots got the job done and beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 to win a very snoozy Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.
“After a run of thrilling Super Bowls – a Philly Special; a comeback from 28-3; a shocking Malcolm Butler interception – Super LIII was about as exciting as a long cab ride from the airport.
“Don’t get me wrong: The defense was stellar on both sides, especially New England’s, and I suspect some fans of the smash-mouth days may have appreciated the dueling in the trenches.
“And the punting! This game had so much sweet, delicious punting, including the longest punt ever punted in a Super Bowl: 65 yards by L.A.’s Johnny Hekker.
“But 30 years from now, when Tom Brady is 71 and bouncing his grandchildren on his knee – or, hey, maybe he’s getting ready to start for the Patriots in Super Bowl LXXXIII, coached by 96-year-old Bill Belichick – he probably won’t talk much about this one....
“If you stayed awake until the end, you did get to witness history: this was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever – a fitting honor for three hours of somnambulant sludge that defied every pregame prediction involving these previously high-flying teams.
“I’m half convinced this sleepy Super Bowl was the result of a hex from the good people of New Orleans, still seething that a missed call in the NFC Championship prevented their beloved Saints from being here.
“This is what the NFL gets, for messing with New Orleans....
“This is New England’s sixth Super Bowl title, tying the franchise with Pittsburgh for the most ever. It follows the team’s ninth Super Bowl appearance in 18 seasons – an unprecedented run that gives Brady a ring for his other hand. The Patriots, like all dynastic death stars, are not terribly beloved outside of their orbit (Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut), but they’re the best there is, and probably the best there has ever been. They have the Super Bowl LIII trophy. And the memories. They may be the only ones.”
Steve Politi / Star-Ledger (NJ.com)
“Tom Brady spent the first three quarters of his record ninth Super Bowl in a snit. He tossed his helmet in the air. He spiked a paper cup to the ground. The Patriots had three measly points midway through the fourth quarter, and the New England quarterback looked miserable.
“To be clear: Everyone was miserable. Unless you were related to the punters or had bet heavily on the under, Super Bowl LIII was a complete bust. The score at halftime was Maroon 5, Football Teams 3. Yes, defense wins football games, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun for the box game....
“The two highest scoring offenses in the NFL produced the second fewest points in a Super Bowl first half ever. The Steelers led the Vikings 2-0 in Super Bowl IX – 11 years before (Sean) McVay was born. The year that defenses were declared dead had the first Super Bowl without a touchdown in the first three quarters.
“Then, finally, the breakthrough. Brady’s one perfect pass. Gronkowski’s one perfect catch. On this night, for the greatest dynasty in professional football history, that’s all it takes. The chants from the appreciative crowd started midway through the fourth quarter.
“ ‘BRADY! BRADY! BRADY!’
“So a season that was supposed to be a changing of the guard in the NFL is just more proof that Brady is the best. Brady talked a lot about proving the ‘doubters’ wrong, but you have to wonder if there weren’t some moments this season when the quarterback himself was on the list.
“ ‘I know everyone thinks we suck,’ Brady said on TV after the Patriots steamrolled the Chargers in the playoffs. It was the ultimate exaggeration, but for three quarters on Sunday night, the Patriots offense kind of did. He knew it, too.
“Then, at the end, it was Brady taking the knee in the victory formation. He was mobbed on the field, as red, white and blue confetti fell through the air. A rough night ended with the greatest quarterback of all time holding up the Lombardi Trophy again.
“And, yes, he was smiling.”
Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post
“You saw it before a play was run in the Rams 13-3 Super Bowl LIII loss to the Patriots on Sunday night inside ear-splitting Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“Jared Goff looked petrified during Gladys Knight’s stirring rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’
“The third-year Rams quarterback had that textbook deer-in-the-headlights look of a young quarterback playing in his first Super Bowl – the biggest game of his life with Tom Brady playing in his ninth Super Bowl on the opposite sideline – as he stood frozen in his uniform during the anthem.
“Goff had a faraway look in his eyes and his right hand looked like it was shaking as he tried to clutch his left chest with it as Knight completed the song.
“You could have passed it off as nothing...until they started playing the game.
“As unsettled as Goff looked on the sideline was as discombobulated as he performed on the field in the game....
“The play that defined Goff on this night...came ironically at a time when he finally appeared to have found a rhythm on what was a colossal struggle of a game.
“It was a mistake by Goff borne of pure panic and it effectively ended the Rams chances of tying the game. Goff, on a second-and-10 from the New England 27-yard line with the Rams trailing by a touchdown, threw a sickly pass off his back foot toward the end zone.
“The ball, like a butterfly, landed so softly and surely in the arms of Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore with 4:17 remaining in the game it looked like a father soft-tossing a ball to his young son in a backyard game of catch....
“The turnover – the Rams’ only one of the game – led to a 72-yard New England drive that ended in a 41-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski for a 13-3 Patriots lead with 1:12 remaining.
“Goff finished 19-of-38 for 229 yards and the crushing interception. Those numbers were deceiving, though. Goff, who was also sacked four times, looked even worse. He looked lost at times.”
Dylan Hernandez / Los Angeles Times
“With every pass he misfired and every third down he failed to convert, the truth gradually revealed itself.
“Jared Goff wasn’t ready.
“He wasn’t ready to deal with the complexity and unpredictability of the New England Patriots defense. He wasn’t ready when Brandin Cooks was wide open in the end zone midway through the third quarter, his delivery of the pass late enough to allow cornerback Jason McCourty to recover and break up a potential go-ahead touchdown. He wasn’t ready for the safety blitz that startled him into throwing a fourth-quarter pass off his back foot and into the hands of cornerback Stephon Gilmore, which ended any fantasy of the Rams reversing their deficit.
“History will record Super Bowl LIII in definitive terms and what the account of the Rams’ 13-3 defeat to the Patriots on Sunday will show was that Goff was overwhelmed in his first, and possibly only, game on his sport’s greatest stage.
“At only 24 years old and still in his third NFL season, Goff wasn’t ready. He wasn’t close to ready.”
It also didn’t help that the Rams’ biggest offensive threat, Todd Gurley, was clearly hurt the last few weeks, even as both he and the team denied it.
Meanwhile, receiver Julian Edelman is now second to Jerry Rice (151) with 115 postseason catches. He had 26 receptions for 388 yards this postseason, including the 10 for 141 on Sunday.
But not everyone was happy he was MVP.
Nancy Armour / USA TODAY Sports
“The NFL has some warped priorities.
“Call attention to racism and discrimination, and your career is effectively over. Test positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and you can be the Super Bowl MVP.
“By his play on the field, Julian Edelman was fully deserving of the honor Sunday night, carrying the New England Patriots offense for much of their 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Of his 10 catches, eight were for first downs. Six were for 10 yards or more.
“It was his 25-yard catch on third down that kept New England’s first scoring drive alive. He had another big catch on the game-winning drive.
“Yet you can argue that Edelman shouldn’t even have been on the field. That he should have lost his postseason privileges as part of his punishment for trying to game the system. That his third ring is already tarnished.
“It’s been seemingly forgotten now, but the wide receiver missed the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy. In Major League Baseball, that also would have meant he’d be ineligible for the postseason.
“See, when baseball passed that rule back in 2014, it did so because it didn’t seem right to have players ‘coming back and affecting a change in the postseason as a result of the decision that particular player made earlier in the year.’ In other words, you cheat, you pay the price. An actual one with ramifications for you and your teammates, not some slap on the wrist that everyone forgets as soon as it happens.
“That’s the dirty secret of the NFL, though. It doesn’t care about PEDs – at least, not enough to make the punishments tough enough to discourage their use – because the game benefits from them.
“PEDs make players faster and stronger. PEDs allow players to recover faster and withstand the brutal pounding of a game that is the equivalent of a series of car wrecks. PEDs allow smaller players to hold their own against guys with six inches and 100 pounds on them.
“Like, say, a receiver who is generously listed at 5-10 and 198 pounds. Who missed last season with a torn ACL.
“And no one cares. Not the coaches, not the teams, not the league and certainly not the fans.
“If this was any other sport, we’d be howling about the sanctity of the game and how someone who cheats should be branded with a scarlet PED for the rest of his life. It wasn’t even two weeks ago, in fact, that Barry Bonds found himself shut out of baseball’s Hall of Fame yet again because he didn’t come by his home runs, or his expanded hat size, naturally.
“But we don’t even bat an eye at NFL players who dope. Rarely does a month go by without a player drawing a four-game suspension for PEDs, yet the announcement draws as much attention as the endless shuffles of the practice squad.
“We love the game fiercely, obsessing over stats and schemes and everything in between. But we don’t really want to know how it’s played or the heavy toll it exacts. Maybe it’s the helmets and the padding, maybe it’s the robot caricatures that Fox and advertisers use.
“But rather than seeing NFL players as humans who can break and bleed, we view them as gladiator-like creatures who are immune to pain. Impervious to destruction. And the NFL is happy to perpetuate the charade.
“ ‘I was always taught as a young boy that you always just have to work hard,’ Edelman said after the game. ‘Work as hard as you can, put in the extra time and see where it goes. Worry about what you have on your plate at that time. That’s what I have tried to do.’
“If he took a shortcut or two along the way, so be it. In the NFL’s eyes, all was forgiven long ago.
“But as the NFL begins a celebration of its 100th season and touts all the great things about its game, always remember that integrity isn’t one of them.”
--Dan Shaughnessy / Boston Globe
“I surrender. No more old guy lobbying for Ted Williams, Bill Russell, and/or Bobby Orr.
“Tom Brady is the greatest Boston athlete of all time.
“Many of you are probably thinking, ‘Obviously, hi-ho. Everybody knows Brady is the best of Boston.’
“Not everybody. Not old-timers like me. Some of us remember things that happened before last weekend. We cling to the past and are reluctant to yield.
“I am still bothered when 21st century Hub sports fans talk smack about David Ortiz being better than Teddy Ballgame. [Ed. good gawd...do people in Beantown really say that?] It’s not even close, people. Big Papi won those three championships, delivered in the clutch, and stood up for our city when tragedy struck in 2013, but he can never be a star the magnitude of Williams. [Ed. plus we’re talking ‘Big Needle,’ for crying out loud.]
“Look it up. Williams generated more news in 20th-century Boston than any individual other than John F. Kennedy. He was the greatest hitter who ever lived, served in two wars, pioneered fund-raising for the Jimmy Fund, and kept seven newspapers in business with his colorful persona.....
“But Brady has surpassed The Kid. In 21st-century New England, he is bigger than Ted was in the 1940s and ‘50s.
“He is bigger than Russell.
“He is bigger than Orr.
“I give up. Even though Brady had a rather pedestrian game Sunday night, he has vaulted ahead of his three fellow gods on our sports Rushmore.
“What Brady just did – win a sixth Super Bowl at the age of 41 with a team that was not necessarily the best in the NFL – puts him over the top.”
Mr. Shaughnessy, a legendary writer up north, then talks about Russell and Orr, but when it comes to Brady, “Six Super Bowl wins. Six decisive scoring drives in the fourth quarter or overtime.
“Tom Brady simply wins. He wins championships 17 years apart. He wins in a sport that is designed to bring winners down. He wins in an era of parity and salary caps. He wins with great weapons and with undrafted free agents and with anonymous linemen. He is the leader of a team that is now even more popular than the Orr Bruins or the Larry Bird Celtics.
“It hurts a little to write those words, but it is true. Patriot Nation is a global superpower. The Patriots are bigger than the Red Sox, Bruins, or Celtics ever were. And Brady is the on-field leader. The greatest NFL quarterback of all time.
“Boston’s greatest athlete of all time.”
--As for Tony Romo, Phil Mushnick / New York Post
“He just gets it. He may not know it – he doesn’t seem to care or know – but he gets it. He just speaks to us as if we’re watching from a den, perhaps his, booze in the blender, feet up.
“And now Tony Romo has six months to restore his voice.
“Late first quarter, 0-0, Jim Nantz, before a Patriots field-goal attempt from 46 yards, noted that in this stadium, all season, not a missed FG, 31-for-31.
“Romo: ‘Did you do it to them again?’
“Nantz: ‘I’m just the announcer.’
“Stephen Gostkowski then hooked it, no good. Romo chuckled: ‘It’s almost automatic, when you’re 31-for-31 and tell the world!’
“Later in the first quarter, Romo circled the Pats’ Julian Edelman then excitedly said he’s in a man-to-man. Bingo, bango, Edelman catches a 20-yard, down-and-out. And not a word of I-told-you-so, just praise for Edelman’s cut, Tom Brady’s throw....
“Does he talk too much? Yeah, but like Doc Emrick, far better that way. Did he meet the hype he was drenched in after his nailed-it-all pre-snap calls in Pats-Chiefs, two weeks ago? Yeah. But he’d be the last to know or care.
“He steals the show without even knowing it and by barely trying. He’s just himself. He’s special. CBS wins. We win.”
Christine Brennan / USA TODAY Sports
“It was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history, an offensive nightmare of a game in which punting was the main attraction and a touchdown wasn’t scored until there were only seven minutes left, but look at the bright side.
“At least we could listen to Tony Romo.
“A color analyst exists in the universe to tell us something we don’t know about what we’re watching on TV and to serve as our proxy of sorts at the game. He (or she) is there for us. Tell us something new and different. Tell us something funny. Keep us interested.
“This was a particularly daunting challenge in the New England Patriots’ snoozy 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, but, tested as perhaps no other analyst has ever been at a Super Bowl, Romo rose to the occasion.
“ ‘I can’t believe it. We got points! 3-3 and it feels like we got a scoring spree going on!’....
“Romo, 38, has quickly built a reputation in his two years in the booth as a nimble prognosticator of what will happen next in a game, but it was his humor that made a surprisingly lackluster matchup bearable Sunday night.
“ ‘Welcome to the Super Bowl, Tony Romo,’ said his partner Jim Nantz, opening the broadcast.
“ ‘I’ve been waiting to hear ‘Welcome to the Super Bowl’ my whole life,’ Romo replied.
“Now that was funny. Perhaps it was all set up in a production meeting, but Romo delivered the self-deprecating line with aplomb, and who among us didn’t laugh as he smiled, knowing that he had never made it out of the divisional round of the playoffs in 14 seasons at quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys.”
--That was a terrific pre-game segment Sunday on Joe Namath and SB III, and it’s amazing Namath is as sharp as he still is, given everything we’ve been hearing, from him directly, on his mental health issues over the years.
He finished with a line that maybe to some is corny, but it’s important in life. “Don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something.”
--Boy, the Miami Dolphins look smart for holding off in their coaching search and waiting for Brian Flores to finish his season as linebackers coach with New England, Flores Monday being named their new head coach. This season Flores was also responsible for defensive play-calling.
Yup, the dude went out on a high note for sure. But he now has his work cut out for him in Miami, the Dolphins having made the playoffs just twice in the past 17 years; one winning season in the last ten.
Flores is also the only nonwhite head coach to be hired this offseason, out of eight openings, dropping the number of minority coaches to just four.
--The rating for the Super Bowl, 44.9, according to the Sports Business Journal (an average audience of 100.7 million), was the lowest for a title game in 10 years, down 5.3 percent from last year. The lowest-scoring game ever obviously didn’t help.
[The highest-rated Super Bowl was in 2015, Patriots-Seahawks, which drew 114.4 million viewers.]
But according to research firm Kantar Media, CBS reeled in an estimated $382 million in advertising revenue, the third-largest amount in the game’s 53-year history.
Ratings had been up 9% during the playoffs and 5% during the regular season.
--New Jersey gambling regulators say its sportsbooks lost $4.6 million on $34.9 million in Super Bowl wagers, the first major sporting event for bettors since sports gambling was legalized in the state last year.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said Monday that casinos and horse tracks in the state paid $39.5 million to those who won bets. Many gamblers backed the Patriots, handily covering the 2 ½-point spread.
DraftKings had a record handle, paying out about $11 million, with a spokesman saying they “took a small, barely seven figure loss.”
Supposedly the Vegas sports books eked out a small gain, which would make it 26 of the past 28 Super Bowls where they have come out ahead, the exceptions being the 2008 game between the Giants and Patriots and the 49ers blowout of the Chargers in 1995.
At the 100-plus sportsbooks run by William Hill, 55 percent of the money wagered on the point spread was on the Patriots, but 55 percent of betting on the total was on the over, plus, 58 percent of the moneyline cash was on the Rams to win as underdogs.
William Hill also reported that in terms of the prop bets, there were 27 winning tickets at 100-to-1 predicting the Rams would score exactly three points.
Sony Michel scoring the first (and only) touchdown was a first-touchdown bet at 6-to-1.
Julian Edelman was 22-to-1 to be MVP, the sixth-most popular choice at William Hill.
--What issues does the NFL face in the offseason?
As the Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer notes, in terms of coaches not being able to challenge penalties, called or not called, despite the debacle in the NFC title game, “For the most part, coaches are against opening the Pandora’s Box of allowing penalties to be challenged.
“One concern is, they could hold the flag in their pocket, then throw on their opponent’s game-winning play in hopes of finding something on the video – an otherwise inconsequential hold on the back side of the play, for instance – that might afford the defense a mulligan. Regardless, the competition committee surely will consider ways to improve the replay review and challenge systems.”
On concussions, the NFL reported success this season, a 29% drop in the overall concussion rate. In part, the league credits the rules changes on disallowing running starts and wedges on kickoffs, and as for the ban on players lowering their heads to initiate contact, the league called those penalties fewer than 20 times in 2018, but sent out warning letters to more than 100 players who crossed the line.
On onside kicks, the NFL having turned what had been an exciting play into a totally predictable one with the rule wiping out running starts and overloading sides of the field, Sam Farmer said the NFL will be looking at the start-up Alliance of American Football. “That league has eliminated kickoffs, giving teams the ball on the 25-yard line, and is doing away with onside kicks too. Under the AAF rules, teams can opt to convert a fourth-and-12 from their 28 in lieu of an onside kick.”
I like that!
--One college football note. Last Sunday, Florida State quarterback Deondre Francis was dismissed from the team after allegations of domestic abuse surfaced.
But then the woman who made the claims against him posted a lengthy apology on social media Monday.
The woman said the video was “to scare him not to ruin anything he had going for hisself (sic).”
Francis was dismissed Sunday by coach Willie Taggart after the former girlfriend posted an expletive-filled, 24-second video on Instagram Saturday night alleging abuse by Francois.
Both the original video and then the apology were deleted.
A Tallahassee Police Department spokesperson said it has not been contacted by the woman.
According to a report, Francois, a redshirt senior, entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal Monday. He had announced last month he would return to Florida State for the 2019 season.
For crying out loud...doesn’t anyone freakin’ ‘wait 24 hours’ before making decisions these days?!!!
College Basketball Review
AP Poll (Feb. 4)
1. Tennessee (48) 20-1
2. Duke (12) 19-2
3. Virginia (4) 20-1
4. Gonzaga 21-2
5. Kentucky 18-3
6. Nevada 21-1...ding ding ding
7. Michigan 20-2
8. North Carolina 17-4
9. Michigan State 18-4
10. Marquette 19-3
11. Virginia Tech 18-3
12. Houston 21-1...who are these guys?
19. Wisconsin 16-6...up 5
20. Iowa 17-5...technically up 6, but more than that
23. Buffalo 19-3
--So what happened Monday? No. 16 Louisville (17-6, 8-2) traveled to Blacksburg and took out Virginia Tech, 72-64, though the Hokies (18-4, 7-3) were playing without senior point guard Justin Robinson (14.4 ppg, 5.5 assists) a second straight game.
--Tuesday, Tennessee defeated Missouri (11-10, 2-7) 72-60, Duke whipped Boston College (11-10, 2-7) 80-55 (Zion with 16 points, 17 rebounds), and Kentucky destroyed South Carolina (11-11, 6-3) 76-48.
North Carolina defeated NC State (16-7, 4-6) 113-96, the Tar Heels tied with Duke and Virginia at 8-1 in the ACC. [Virginia hosts Duke on Saturday, and then travels to Chapel Hill Monday.]
But lowly Illinois upset 9 Michigan State 79-74, the Illini just 8-15, 4-8, the Spartans (18-5, 9-3) suddenly having lost three straight.
And St. John’s (17-6, 5-5) had a huge road upset at 10 Marquette (19-4, 8-2) 70-69, Shamorie Ponds rebounding from a disastrous game against Duke over the weekend to score 28, while Warriors star Markus Howard (25.0 ppg) was held to 17.
Lastly, Wake Forest (9-13, 2-8) pulled out a win at home, 78-76 in overtime against Pitt (12-11, 2-8). Freshman Jaylen Howard had 19 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks for the Deacs.
--The Wizards suffered a devastating blow. John Wall, who was already out 6-8 months for an Achilles tendon injury, will now be out at least a full year after worsening the initial injury when he slipped and fell at his house.
Wall had developed an infection in the incision from surgery on Jan. 8, which was to take care of a chronic Achilles condition, and then he goes and ruptures it.
So Wall, out since end of December, will likely miss most, if not all, of 2019-20. He’s not only the face of the franchise, but this is the first year of the four-year max contract extension he had previously signed worth $170 million.
Wall, 28, was averaging 20.7 points and 8.6 assists this season, but there is no guarantee he will come back to be the same player following such a serious injury. [Think Ryan Howard, for starters.]
--Tuesday, with the trade deadline fast approaching (Thursday), the Clippers and 76ers pulled off a blockbuster, L.A. sending forward Tobias Harris, who is having his finest season, 20.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, to join the Sixers’ Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler.
But the Sixers paid a steep price, sending rookie guard Landry Shamet, Philadelphia’s own 2020 protected first-round pick and an unprotected 2021 first-round pick via the Miami Heat, league sources told ESPN. The Sixers also sent forward Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala and 2021 and 2023 second-round picks to the Clippers, while L.A. sent center Boban Marjanovic and forward Mike Smith to Philly.
The Clippers want to move themselves into contention for the free-agent market, as well as a possible deal for Anthony Davis. The Clippers believe they have a good shot at signing the Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard, with L.A. having cap space to sign two max-contract players.
As for Davis, Magic Johnson is balking at the Pelicans’ request for mega-assets in return for trading A.D. to LeBron’s Lakers.
L.A. lost to the Pacers Tuesday night, 136-94, the worst loss of James’ 16-year NBA career. And the Pacers are without star Victor Oladipo, who is out for the season with an injury.
--Pitchers and catchers a mere week or so away, and a ton of free agents still left.
The latest on Manny Machado is that he might be exploring the option of a lucrative one-year contract, which some believe could put the Yankees back in play. The theory, best espoused by the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, is that Machado, who doesn’t turn 27 until July, could sign for one year and $35 million, and then get a seven-year, $175 million deal in the offseason next year, which equates to eight years, $210 million.
Thoughts of a 10-year, $300 million deal are now a pipe dream, but next year, we could see Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon (who I expect re-signs with the Nats), Xander Bogaerts and Didi Gregorius enter free agency. Machado doesn’t have to be a Yank this year, but he could sign elsewhere and then still see what happens in New York with Gregorius (who won’t return from Tommy John surgery until around July), Troy Tulowitzki, and DJ LeMahieu in terms of the Yanks infield.
As for Bryce Harper, Jon Heyman said there are still eight teams checking in on him, though many of these are looking at shorter-term deals.
--ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranked all 30 MLB farm systems:
1. San Diego (despite likely losing three top-100 prospects to graduations this year, including Fernando Tatis Jr.)
2. Tampa Bay
5. L.A. Dodgers
7. L.A. Angels
28. Miami...huh...Jeter has one long rebuild, it would seem
29. Chicago Cubs
Alpine World Cup
They are holding the World Championships in Are, Sweden, the next ten days and Lindsey Vonn crashed out of the super-G on Tuesday, the next to last race of her career after announcing her retirement last week. But Mikaela Shiffrin won it, her record-tying 14th of the season, and No. 56 of her career.
Further, Shiffrin, who turns 24 in March, is already No. 3 all-time on the women’s World Cup win list, trailing just Annemarie Moser-Proell (62) and Vonn’s 82.
So we have a TV alert. If you want to watch Vonn’s last event, the downhill, live, you need to tune in at 6:25 ET Sunday, NBCSN, or for the replay on NBC at 3:00 ET Sunday afternoon.
--We note the passing of Finnish ski jump icon Matti Nykanen, who died at the age of 55, cause not immediately known but he’s had ‘issues.’ Nykanen, a true legend, won four gold medals at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics and at Calgary four years later. He retired in 1991 after winning a then-record 46 individual World Cup events.
--Monday, Liverpool had its second straight 1-1 draw, this time at West Ham in a terrific match, allowing Manchester City and Tottenham to tighten things up.
So now it’s....
1. Liverpool 25 – 62
2. Man City 25 – 59
3. Tottenham 25 – 57
4. Chelsea 25 – 50
5. Manchester United 25 – 48
6. Arsenal 25 – 47
This weekend, Man City has a huge one with Chelsea, Chelsea needing no worse than a draw to stay in the top four hunt.
--Lots of damage at Pebble Beach in recent storms so it will be interesting to see how play is impacted for this week’s AT&T pro-am event. I imagine the greens will be bumpier than normal.
Remember, this is a dry run for the U.S. Open there in June, when the conditions will be totally different.
--So details came in on Sergio Garcia’s “severe misconduct” at the Euro Tour event in Saudi Arabia last weekend. In Friday’s second round, he was involved in an incident where he slammed his club into a bunker out of frustration for the lie he had, one he believed was created by a previous group’s poor raking of the sand.
Then came Saturday, and as Shane Ryan of Golf World puts it:
“We don’t know if Garcia’s frustration in the third round was general or specific, but for whatever reason, he apparently decided to gouge a number of greens with his putter. According to The Scotsman’s Martin Dempster, Garcia actually damaged ‘no fewer than five greens.’ At least four groups behind him complained, and after a conversation with European Tour CEO Keith Pelley, Garcia was DQ’d – a decision he said he ‘respected’ while admitting to damaging ‘a couple of greens.’ Dempster later went out on the course and found what he thought was one of Garcia’s divots on the sixth green.
“All of this, every last bit out of it, is completely and utterly nuts. If he had lost his cool and done this to one green, it would be a crazy story. The fact that Garcia did it reportedly to no fewer than five greens is frankly unbelievable. It shows an utter lack of self-control. It gives us a glimpse into Sergio’s soul that no temporary blow-up ever could, and what it shows is not flattering.”
So what more could the European Tour do? In 2013, Simon Dyson was suspended two months and fined 30,000 euro “for pressing down a spike mark in the path of his putt in what they deemed an intentional act. That was clearly a grave crime in their eyes, and whether you agree with it or not, it would certainly seem to set a precedent that dooms Garcia to a potentially far greater penalty. I mean, let’s say it again: He apparently purposefully tried to ruin several greens. It had a negative impact on the course, on his fellow players and, potentially, on the tournament as a whole. It’s hard to think of a more profoundly selfish act, and the minute he brought his putter down on the second green, his act became ‘premeditated,’ which was a serious consideration for the European Tour when assessing Dyson’s punishment.
“Pelley, for his part, finds himself in the mother of all unenviable positions: Either give Garcia the serious long-term ban he deserves, and the European tour loses one of its stars, or let him off with a slap on the wrist and face a (wholly legitimate) charge of hypocrisy. Compounding the problem, the organization itself was already under significant political fire for staging a tournament in Saudi Arabia in the first place, and didn’t exactly position themselves on the moral high ground....
“In fact, it now appears that there will be no further punishment. Which doesn’t change the messy nature of the aftermath, and will only heighten the scrutiny on the European Tour. Sergio’s act of extreme peevishness is unprecedented, and it fundamentally alters the course of his career – after a youth spent vacillating between unpredictability, dynamic golf, and uneven pressure play, Sergio transitioned in his late 30s into a Masters champion, one of the greatest Ryder Cup golfers to ever live, and an elder statesman of the game. Now? He’s in disgrace, and the ignominy is entirely of his own making. We may never understand the dark mental turns that convinced him to damage those greens, one after another, but the damage to his legacy is crystal clear.”
--Back to Rickie Fowler and his fifth PGA Tour title in Phoenix on Sunday, in eight tries with the 54-hole lead, he still has never broken par (winning twice). It was also the first time in nine tries he won after being the 36-hole leader.
--In a kind of bizarre situation, ESPN anchor, and rising star, Adnan Virk, was fired last Friday and quickly led out of the Bristol, Conn., headquarters. The final decision was made after a report on the website Awful Announcing.
In part, the report said Major League Baseball had opted to let ESPN slide on contractual obligations that called for it to have a certain amount of studio shows during the season in return for moving “Sunday Night Baseball” from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m.
ESPN had a conference call about “Sunday Night Baseball” that the network believes Virk revealed to Awful Announcing. It’s not clear what motivated Virk other than to curry favor with reporters.
ESPN then investigated and felt Virk had been providing confidential inside information to reporters, violating company policy, and then Virk wasn’t forthcoming after he was given multiple chances to come clean.
Virk’s side said the punishment doesn’t fit the crime and that at most he should have been suspended two weeks.
--Ripped from Reuters: “A Colorado jogger fought off a mountain lion in the foothills of Horsetooth Mountain on Monday, suffering severe bites before he killed the wild animal in self-defense, authorities said.
“The man, who was not identified, was jogging on a trail on the West Ridge of the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, a mountain park about 66 miles northwest of Denver, officials said.
“A juvenile mountain lion attacked him from behind, biting and clawing the man’s face, back, legs and arms, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources said in a joint release, late on Monday.
“It was not disclosed how the jogger killed the animal, and no one from the CPW or the Larimer DNR was available for comment early Tuesday.
“The runner was able to get to a local hospital, officials said. His injuries were serious but not life-threatening, they said.
“The animal’s body was recovered near the trail and the jogger’s dropped possessions and taken to a CPW lab for a necropsy, officials said.
“ ‘The runner did everything he could to save his life,’ said Mark Leslie, CPW Northeast Regional Manager. ‘In the event of a lion attack, you need to do anything in your power to fight back, just as this gentleman did.’”
There have been 16 known attacks (three fatal) by mountain lions in Colorado since 1990. Yes, they aren’t common, but they occur. As Ty Petersburg, area wildlife manager for the CPW, said in a statement: “This could have had a very different outcome.”
It turns out the man killed the lion by suffocating (choking) it, according to the CPW in a later release.
--Chris Richards / Washington Post
“Maroon 5 has always been a sanitary wipe of a rock band, with a sound that radiates outward from the singing voice of frontman Adam Levine – an earnest, tangy-smooth falsetto that has a mysterious ability to clean up after itself. And that must be why this band remains so durable, right? Because its music is so repeatable? I think so. To hear a Maroon 5 song – any Maroon 5 songs – is to feel your brain being wiped clean of the experience as it’s happening.
“Levine did the magic trick six different ways during Sunday night’s halftime show at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, singing and strutting in a way that felt completely uneventful and perversely savvy. That’s because Levine knows that there are only two ways to survive a Super Bowl halftime show in this day and age: Be unforgettable, or be entirely forgettable....
“Prince was unforgettable in 2007 because, in all of his purple life, that’s the only way he ever knew how to be. Same for Beyonce in 2016. But it doesn’t always shake out for wannabe unforgettables. Lady Gaga went for it in 2017, but overshot, while Katy Perry tried to cultivate a daffy kind of unforgettable in 2015, but ended up getting upstaged by a shark....
“Of course, there were more pressing reasons for Maroon 5 to try to disappear on Sunday night. Many criticized the band for even accepting this gig in the first place – especially after Rihanna and Cardi B announced that they had each turned it down in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick....
“And while nobody really expected Levine to fight the power, some wondered whether the two guest rappers booked to flank Maroon 5 at halftime – Big Boi of OutKast fame and Travis Scott – might speak up. Nope and nope. They were just along for the ride....
“Having sidestepped controversy and posterity, Maroon 5 vanished into the Georgia night.”
Top 3 songs for the week 2/8/75: #1 “Fire” (Ohio Players) #2 “You’re No Good” (Linda Ronstadt) #3 “Boogie On Reggae Woman” (Stevie Wonder)...and...#4 “Pick Up The Pieces” (AWB) #5 “Best Of My Love” (The Eagles) #6 “Some Kind Of Wonderful” (Grand Funk) #7 “Black Water” (The Doobie Brothers) #8 “Laughter In The Rain” (Neil Sedaka) #9 “Lonely People” (America) #10 “Get Dancin’” (Disco Tex & His Sex-O-Lettes)
NBA Quiz Answer: Top five for leading the league in rebounding average.
Wilt Chamberlain 11 seasons
Dennis Rodman 7
Moses Malone 6
Bill Russell 5
Dwight Howard 5
Kevin Garnett did it 4 times. No one has done it 3 times.
Next Bar Chat, Monday. One-time, music-related quiz in honor of the Grammys.