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Team USA Gets Waxed!
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
Baseball Quiz: I have a blurb on complete games, and the lack thereof, down below. But who was the last to throw 20 complete games in a season, both leagues? [Hint: It was last done in the N.L. in 1986; last in the A.L. in 1985.] Answers below.
Those of us who were following felt this whole deal was over after Friday afternoon. The U.S. had taken a 3-1 lead in four ball play in the morning, but then for the first time since the format was introduced, Europe swept the four afternoon matches, foursomes (alternate shot), and even though it was just 5-3, you sensed it would be a mighty struggle for the Americans.
The host team gets to set up the course to their liking (technically, through Monday of the week of competition, after which the Match Committee takes over), and with narrow fairways and super high rough, why the heck would Captain Jim Furyk put Phil Mickelson out in alternate shot, Friday, where there is a premium on driving, and not the morning four ball, if his intent was to get all 12 players into the mix the first day? It was flat-out stupid.
So knowing your captain (talking about my opinion, not the players’, necessarily) already doesn’t seem up to the task, it’s why you could say it was over.
I’ll have all the ‘official’ commentary next time, as it rolls in beyond my publishing date for this column, but aside from the competence of the captain, we know that next time, there will be a change in how the captain’s picks are made. As it turned out, Thomas Bjorn’s were masterful, Furyk’s not so much.
Before I continue, I just have to say that I watched Saturday morning’s action, then the rest of the day was chaotic, dealing with a family medical issue...as in four trips back and forth, either to the hospital or elsewhere...but as a result I caught the PGA channel on Sirius XM radio and thank god it’s available.
So in yesterday’s foursomes, the analysts on air (on Sirius) were just going nuts over how Team USA refused to understand the alternate shot format...as in each golfer seemed to keep wanting to hit hero shots, rather than just keeping it in play for their teammate. The U.S. did end up splitting the session, 2-2, but that means it was 2-6 the two days.
And thus we entered today’s 12 singles matches down 10-6, and while the U.S. came back from this margin at Brookline in 1999, that was at home. Big difference on the road, and on this particular course.
The U.S. ended up getting waxed, 17 ½-10 ½, Europe having now taken nine of the last 12 Cups, and a long two-year wait until Whistling Straits.
As for Furyk, a lot of commentary next time, but Phil Mickelson, who harshly criticized captain Tom Watson for the Gleneagles disaster four years earlier, said Sunday night, “We had phenomenal leadership – they put us players in a position to succeed but unfortunately it didn’t happen. The European side played some exquisite golf and flat-out beat us – but they beat us on the course.”
Well, that’s ‘calculating Phil,’ who learned it probably wasn’t the greatest thing for his Q-score to be such a jerk in going after Watson. But I can guarantee he’s saying something different in private.
--This was a unique year in that there wasn’t a one-week break between the end of the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup, and it showed, clearly, in the play of Tiger Woods and Mickelson (42 and 48), among others. They’ll never admit it, but it’s obvious. I’ve made about 50 overseas trips in my life...it’s not easy.
Tiger’s overall record is now 13-21-3, giving him the second-most losses in American team history – behind Mickelson’s 22!
The energy from most of the Americans just wasn’t there. I believe Tiger cares deeply about the competition, despite what his critics say, but he was worn out from his terrific win at the Tour Championship.
Actually, eleven Americans competed in the Tour Championship, and just five from the Euro squad.
Tiger said after: “It’s disappointing because I went 0-4, and that’s four points to the European team. And I’m one of the contributing factors to why we lost the Cup, and it’s not a lot of fun. It’s frustrating because I thought we were all playing pretty well, and I just didn’t perform at the level that I had been playing, and just got behind early in the matches and never got back.”
Woods has played on only one winning team, 1999.
It seemed like every U.S. player/team was behind early.
And as for Phil, he played like crap last week, and then he gets thrown into the format on Friday that made no sense given the state of his game. [And the course set-up.]
So Woods and Mickelson went 0-6. And world No. 1 Dustin Johnson was 1-3. That’s one point out of 10, the three never playing together. There’s your Ryder Cup, if you had to sum it up succinctly.
But it is true that for the American elite, such as these three, Ryder Cup failure doesn’t sting that long...though there is little doubt that Tiger and Mickelson’s play hurt their looming pay-per-view shootout over Thanksgiving. I know I’m far less interested. [And don’t you know they are talking about it together at the team ‘party’...or ‘wake.’]
--I do like that the captains let the matches play out long after Europe secured the deal. That was cool that Alex Noren, in the last duel with Bryson DeChambeau, sank a 40-footer on 18 to cap it all off.
--I thought that captain Thomas Bjorn’s selection of Sergio Garcia was a bad one, thinking Rafa Cabrera-Bello was a more logical pick, and all Sergio did was pick up three points to take his career tally to 25.5, overhauling Nick Faldo for the competition’s all-time leading scorer.
--Bubba Watson is now 0-4-0 in singles matches.
--As Rory McIlroy pointed out in the immediate aftermath of the triumph, all 12 Euro players contributed a point.
--As for the Q-ratings (Q-score) impact I’ve written about...a few Americans got a boost...namely Webb Simpson and Tony Finau. They’ll be viewed as winners. Justin Thomas doesn’t need a boost, but he got one. But buddy Jordan Spieth, while partnering with JT for three points, is now 0-6-0 in both Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup singles play. Kind of extraordinary.
Patrick Reed picked up a needed point in singles to stave off Q-score disaster.
For the Europeans there were a number who gained immensely, first and foremost Tommy Fleetwood, who despite getting whipped in today’s singles, gained hugely from his 4-0, record-setting performance with partner Francesco Molinari...i.e., “Moliwood.”
Fleetwood is a legitimate tournament draw and PGA Tour sponsors and event chairmen will be seeking his participation in their events in the worst way. [Molinari is too low-key...not a Q-score type of guy.]
Jon Rahm also helped his Q-rating with today’s singles win.
--I loved Le Golf National. I wish Europe would stage it there every four years. Yes, it was a little tricked up, but you can’t say the last four holes weren’t set up for mega-drama.
--What an ending to the National League season. Entering play today, we had....
Los Angeles 90-71
All four had clinched a playoff spot, but the issue was which teams would have to square off in the one-game, wild card playoff.
[St. Louis, which only went 5-5 its last ten heading into the regular-season finale, was eliminated Saturday at 88-73.]
So in games involving the above four today....we have two Monday tie-breakers!
The Cubs host the Brewers, and the Dodgers host the Rockies.
And it wasn’t even close. L.A. beat San Francisco 15-0, the Rockies whipped the Nationals 12-0, the Brewers trounced the Tigers 11-0, and the Cubs beat the Cardinals 10-5. This is simply amazing!
--Saturday, the Dodgers had pulled even with the Rockies, beating the Giants 10-6 (while Colorado was getting blitzed at home by Washington), but it may have been Clayton Kershaw’s last regular-season appearance for L.A., Kershaw giving up five earned in five innings. This will be one of the big stories of postseason, hot stove action.
[By the way, Kershaw entered Saturday’s game at AT&T Park with a 1.30 career ERA in 22 appearances there.]
--The Yankees, with two home runs on Saturday from Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton, broke the 1997 record held by the steroid-era Mariners, the Yanks with 266 to the 265 Seattle racked up.
The Yanks became the first team to hit at least 20 home runs at all nine positions in the batting order. [12 were in double figures.]
--The other night, Yankees fans saw an example of why CC Sabathia is so well loved among his teammates. Just two innings shy of earning a $500,000 incentive-based bonus, he was ejected from Thursday’s game against the Rays in Tampa.
Sabathia entered the game having pitched 148 innings this season, and in what was his final start of the regular-season, he needed to get thru seven to make it to 155 innings and receive the bonus.
But he was tossed by home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza in the bottom of the sixth after throwing a pitch into Rays catcher Jesus Sucre’s left leg.
Carapazza had issued warnings minutes prior, following a pitch in the top of the inning from Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge that sailed behind Yankees catcher Austin Romine’s head.
“Any time you feel like your player’s safety is in jeopardy, all guys take exception to that,” Sabathia said.
The Yankees were on their way to a 12-1 win and no doubt CC would have been allowed to go the full seven to collect the bonus. He had thrown only 55 pitches in five innings, allowing just one hit.
--The Angels’ Mike Scioscia, as expected, announced he was not returning as manager, ending his 19-year run. Good for him.
--Aaron Judge’s No. 99 was the top selling jersey for the second straight season, according to MLB. Judge beat out Jose Altuve. The Cubs’ Javier Baez was third, Clayton Kershaw fourth, and Mookie Betts fifth.
--The Mets bid adieu to their captain, David Wright, Saturday night as a packed house roared its appreciation for one of the great athletes, and sportsmen, in recent New York history.
Wright made his first start since 2016, walking and fouling out in his two plate appearances before being removed, after grounding out in a pinch-hitting appearance on Friday night.
Quite simply, David Wright is the best position player in Mets history, a guy who came up in 2004 with high expectations and by 2005 was an All-Star, making seven such teams in his career, with two Gold Gloves.
After his fifth season, 2008, the 25-year-old seemed ticketed for Cooperstown, having driven in 100 runs four consecutive seasons. He’d have one more, 2010, but after that he played only one full season, as nagging injuries cut into his play, and effectiveness, and then in 2015, he suffered a fracture in his back, making a defensive stop, and a year later, 2016, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. He hadn’t played since then.
But he fought back so that he could get on the field one more time, the Mets organization doing the right thing, letting him finish out on his terms, and the fans showed their love.
Wright, still just 35, finishes out with a .296 career average, 242 home runs, 970 RBIs, a .376 OBP, .867 OPS.
But David Wright was far more than his play on the field, and that’s why the fans reacted to his formal retirement as they have.
There has never, ever been a bad word said about the man. He’s an extraordinary person, whose own motto was “be accountable.” He performed tremendous philanthropic work in the New York community, including for its firefighters, through his foundation.
As Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen summed it up Saturday, “He’s just a special dude.”
Thank you, David.
--For the first time in major league history, strikeouts exceeded hits over a full season in 2018, and that isn’t good.
Starters are throwing fewer pitches and fireballing relievers are coming into the game at an increasing pace.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week, “We need to thoughtfully review the trends.”
Strikeouts set a record for an 11th consecutive season.
And no pitcher threw more than two complete games, with the previous low at four.
James Shields, with 11 in 2011, remains the last in double figures.
--The New York Times’ Tyler Kepner had his picks for the major awards and I can’t disagree with them.
Jacob deGrom N.L. Cy Young; Blake Snell A.L. Cy Young; Christian Yelich, N.L. MVP; Mookie Betts, A.L. MVP; and Ronald Acuna Jr. over Juan Soto for N.L. Rookie of the Year; Shohei Ohtani over Miguel Andujar for A.L. ROY.
Yes, the two Rookie of the Year votes should be very close. But Ohtani had a huge impact on the game, overall, and hopefully he’s recovered to pitch again come 2020 after his TJ surgery.
One word on deGrom. As Kepner pointed out, his 1.70 ERA is the third lowest in baseball since the mound was lowered in 1969. DeGrom wrapped up a winning season, 10-9, with eight scoreless against the Braves on Wednesday in a 3-0 Mets win, extending his major league single-season records of 24 consecutive quality starts (six innings, three runs) and 29 outings in a row allowing three or fewer earned runs.
And a note on Blake Snell. The guy was 9-0 with a sub-1.20 ERA in August and September. Holy cow! The Rays, who finished a startling 90-72, ended up being the second-best story in baseball, next to the Oakland A’s.
--The A’s Khris Davis not only won the A.L. home run title with 48, leading the majors, but ended the year with a .247 batting average for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season.
His home run totals have gone up each of the four years...27, 42, 43 and 48.
--Much more next time on stats.
--Lastly, for those of us whose teams didn’t make the playoffs, the last day of the season is always a very melancholy event. Baseball is a special sport. While the NHL and NBA actually have longer seasons, if you include their interminable playoffs, baseball is every day...not every few as in those sports. You literally “invest” in your team...at least most fans do. You go through the twists and turns, of which there are many, and all the frustrations. As a Mets fan I’m bummed.
But only about 140 days to “pitchers and catchers”!
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP Poll]
The College Football Playoff is beginning to take shape and let’s just say that November is going to be exciting. But it’s already shaping up where we could easily have two of the four playoff entrants come from the SEC, with the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Notre Dame battling it out for the other two spots. More on this next time, but just know Georgia doesn’t play Alabama in the regular season, but it does play LSU in two weeks, and then Auburn Nov. 10.
West Virginia-Oklahoma is Nov. 23. I’m already thinking of that one.
As for the Pac-12...ah, you guys don’t have a shot. Start looking ahead to next year.
Anyway, to whip through the games, including the two big ones....
No. 1 Alabama beat Louisiana (Louisiana-Lafayette, renamed) 56-14 as Tua Tagovailoa was 8/8, 128, 2-0.
2 Georgia beat Tennessee 38-12, holding the Vols to just 209 yards of offense.
3 Clemson had its second escape of the season, 27-23 over Syracuse in Death Valley. New starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence was knocked out in this one, one-time third-string QB Chase Brice engineered a 94-yard fourth-quarter scoring drive, including a clutch pass completion on fourth-and-six, for the win, and Travis Etienne rushed for a career-high 203 yards and three touchdowns, handing the Orange their first loss. No word yet on how long Lawrence may be out, which is important because Wednesday, after I had gone to post, one-time starter, Kelly Bryant, did announce he was transferring, yet as of week’s end had not selected a school, and he could still come back to Clemson. Needless to say, however, coach Dabo Swinney is tired of talking about the subject.
5 LSU blew out Ole Miss 45-16.
The amazing Kyler Murray led 6 Oklahoma to a 66-33 beating of Baylor, Murray going 17/21, 432, 6-0, through the air, with another TD rushing. The Sooners have incredible speed, especially with their wideouts.
10 Auburn beat Southern Mississippi 24-13.
11 Washington beat 20 BYU 35-7, Jake Browning with a rather fine 23/25, 277, 1-0, effort for the Huskies.
In a biggie, 12 West Virginia went on the road to 25 Texas Tech and won it, 42-34, behind Will Grier’s 370 yards and three touchdowns.
13 UCF is drawing more and more attention. I wrote last week that I thought it was significant the Knights were already ranked this high and they’ll move up another notch or two after whipping Pitt 45-14, outgaining the Panthers 568-272 in the process.
UCF, you’ll recall, went 13-0 last season, including a win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl, finishing sixth in the final AP poll. More and more writers who vote on these things, let alone the CFP selection committee, are coming around to the recognition that this program is for real and that the American Athletic Conference isn’t necessarily chopped liver...members Cincinnati and South Florida still undefeated this year.
14 Michigan is now 4-1 after a 20-17 road win at Northwestern, the Wolverines down 17-0 in the second before slamming the door on ‘D’ and getting the offense in gear.
17 Kentucky continued its potentially magical season, a 24-10 winner over South Carolina, picking off Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley three times.
Virginia Tech rebounded from its embarrassing loss to Old Dominion, defeating 22 Duke in Durham, 31-14, as Ryan Willis, a transfer from Kansas who was in his first start at QB for the Hokies, subbing for injured starter Josh Jackson, threw for 332 yards and three TDs.
19 Oregon beat 24 California 42-24, the Ducks (quack quack) exposing the Golden Bears as mere pretenders.
Thursday night, 16 Miami defeated North Carolina 47-10 on the strength of 3 defensive touchdowns, as the Hurricanes also made a change at QB, going to N’Kosi Perry over incumbent Malik Rosier. Rosier is such a tremendous athlete, but incredibly inconsistent; in my mind one of the more fascinating players in big-time CFB. [They said he took the demotion with class.]
So that leaves us with Saturday’s two biggies.
4 Ohio State had a stirring comeback to defeat 9 Penn State at Happy Valley, 27-26. The Buckeyes survived numerous key injuries on defense and were down 26-14 with 8:00 to play before quarterback Dwayne Haskins engineered two scoring drives to take the lead, 75- and 96-yards...the latter one going down as one of the biggest in Ohio State history...especially if they advance to the CFP.
But there was still 2:03 left and Trace McSorley*, the Nittany Lions quarterback, had already ‘rushed’ for a school-record 160 yards.
So with Penn State down on the Ohio State 43, facing a fourth-and-five, coach James Franklin had to take the blame for an inexplicable read-option call to running back Miles Sanders, who was smothered on the play by Chase Young.
“We obviously didn’t make the right call in that situation, and that’s on me, nobody else.” Penn State’s last four losses have been by a combined eight points. They can’t close.
So that’s the end of 2018 CFP hopes for the Nittany Lions. Now OSU coach Urban Meyer awaits to see what the long-term damage from the injuries is to his defense.
*McSorley ended up with a school-record 461 yards of total offense, including 175 rushing.
In the other biggie, 8 Notre Dame manhandled 7 Stanford in South Bend, 38-17, the Fighting Irish pulling away in the fourth behind quarterback Ian Book’s four touchdowns. Coach Brian Kelly’s move to Book from Brandon Wimbush two weeks ago seems to be a brilliant one. Yes, Notre Dame alum Mark R., it’s a whole new team.
--In other games...
Boston College rebounded from its horrible loss to Purdue on the road last week to defeat a respectable Temple squad, 45-35, in Chestnut Hill, with AJ Dillon also rebounding to run for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Rutgers fell to 1-4, losing to Indiana 24-17 at home, the Hoosiers now 4-1. But this was a decidedly better effort for the Scarlet Knights after two of the worst losses, back-to-back, in school history to Kansas and Buffalo.
So Governor Murphy of New Jersey put in a call to me, explaining that my petition to relegate Rutgers to North Carolina in exchange for Appalachian State was invalid, and that furthermore I would have to pick up all the expenses already incurred, such as for the moving vans already en route. Let’s just say this whole idea of mine was an expensive learning experience.
Army had a very nice win at Buffalo, 42-13, which is a blow to the MAC’s reputation, the conference now out of any Group of Five, major bowl talk...not that the Bison were ever surpassing UCF or Boise State (if UCF stumbles).
Nebraska lost again, now 0-4, 42-28 losers to Purdue in Lincoln. New coach and reputed savior, Scott Frost, went ballistic afterwards over the lackluster effort his Cornhuskers are displaying thus far. Going back to last season, Nebraska has now lost eight in a row.
Frost, the former Nebraska QB who coached UCF to their 13-0 mark last season, said, “We look like one of the most undisciplined teams in the country, and it kills me.”
UCLA fell to 0-4 in Chip Kelly’s first season, 38-16 losers at Colorado on Friday night in Boulder. Yuck.
Lastly, Wake Forest bounced back from losses to Boston College and Notre Dame with a 56-24 beat-down of Rice, out of Conference USA. This one was 42-3 at the half, as freshman QB Sam Hartman, who was knocked out of the Notre Dame game last week, returned to go 15/17, 241, 4-0, all four touchdown strikes to super-soph receiver/returner Greg Dortch, who caught 11 passes for 163 yards overall. Dortch is a sure-fire first-round draft pick down the road...as exciting as any player in college football.
And now, the new AP Poll....
1. Alabama 5-0 (58)
2. Georgia 5-0
3. Ohio State 5-0 (1)
4. Clemson 5-0 (1)
5. LSU 5-0
6. Notre Dame 5-0
7. Oklahoma 5-0
8. Auburn 4-1...loss to LSU 22-21
9. West Virginia 4-0...almost heaven...
10. Washington 4-1
11. Penn State 4-1
12. UCF 4-0
13. Kentucky 5-0...very cool
21. Colorado 4-0...too far back, even if it runs the table in the Pac-12
23. North Carolina State 4-0...senior QB leadership in Ryan Finley, plays Clemson in three weeks off a bye...hmmmm...but B.C. next week...
--There was a scary situation in the Tennessee State-Vanderbilt game. Tigers middle linebacker Christian Abercrombie suffered a head injury in the second quarter and was rushed to Vanderbilt Medical Center, where he had emergency surgery. Abercrombie was listed in critical condition following the procedure.
It wasn’t clear what the surgery was for, exactly.
--For the first time, last spring’s NFL draft had four quarterbacks going in the top-10, and this week all four started, though looking back, it’s easy to question Arizona, and their giving a $20 million deal to Sam Bradford to act as mentor to Josh Rosen, when the Cardinals then scored a total of 20 points on offense in their first three games, all losses, before turning the reins over to Rosen for Week Four.
And Browns fans can question why it took until the middle of the third game to insert Baker Mayfield, when they had tied the Steelers and lost to the Saints by three, before he led them to their first ‘W’ since 2016 against the Jets in replacing starter Tyrod Taylor. Would they be 3-0 rather than 1-1-1 if Mayfield had been inserted earlier?
So with this as background, what happened in Week Four....
Sam Darnold and the Jets lost their third straight, 31-16 to the 3-1 Jaguars, Darnold just 17/34, 167, 1-0, 74.0; the Jets with 34 yards rushing. Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles threw for 388 yards and two scores.
Josh Allen sucked for Buffalo, 22-0 losers to the Packers, Allen 16/33, 151, 0-2, 36.3, Buffalo 1-3.
Seattle beat Arizona and Josh Rosen, 20-17, Rosen going 15/27, 180, 1-0, 88.5, the Cardinals 0-4.
And Baker Mayfield couldn’t keep the magic going, the Browns amazingly losing another close one, 45-42 to the Raiders in OT, as Baker was 21/41, 295, 2-2, 70.7, while fumbling twice...four turnovers in all. Yes, all together, boys and girls...it’s a process!
The Big Four were thus 0-4 this weekend.
In other games....
The Cowboys beat the Lions behind Ezekiel Elliott’s 152 yards on the ground.
Tennessee beat the now 2-2 Eagles, 26-23 in overtime, the Titans 3-1.
Matt Ryan threw for 419 yards and three scores, but the Falcons (1-3) lost to the Bengals (3-1), as ‘Good Andy’ Dalton made an appearance...29/41, 337, 3-1. Cincinnati pulled it out on a 13-yard TD pass from Dalton to AJ Green with 0:07 left...Dalton engineering a final 16 play, 75-yard drive.
The Giants are now 1-3 after losing to the Saints (3-1) 33-18 at MetLife Stadium. Drew Brees was held to 217 yards through the air, but Alvin Kamara rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns. The Giants played dink football...dinkin’ here, dinkin’ there...best epitomized by Odell Beckham Jr.’s seven receptions for a whopping 60 yards.
New England got its act together, a 38-7 whooping of the Dolphins, handing Miami their first loss, as rookie back Sony Michel rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown. Josh Gordon did play for the first time as a Pat, 2 receptions for 32 yards. Tom Brady and Co. are 2-2.
Mitchell Trubisky tossed six touchdowns in a 48-10 win over the Bucs, the Bears now 3-1. For Tampa Bay, now 2-2, Jameis Winston replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick and was 16/20, but he threw two picks. [The NFL record, by the way, is seven TD passes in a game, achieved by eight players.]
--Thursday night the Rams improved to 4-0 with a 38-31 win over the Vikings (1-2-1) at the Coliseum. Jared Goff threw for a career-high 465 yards and five touchdowns; Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods all with 100+ yards receiving. As Ronald Reagan would have said, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--Lastly, Mark R. alerted me to the latest class for the Steelers’ “Hall of Honor.” The five are Rocky Bleier, receiver Buddy Dial, Alan Faneca, Bill Nunn and Art Rooney Jr. Mark wanted me to make special note of Nunn, so it’s an excuse to repeat a piece I wrote on him back on May 12, 2014:
We note the passing of Bill Nunn, a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their dynasty of the 1970s. He was 89.
Nunn had been the sports editor at the Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American newspaper that named a black college All-American football team.
By the late 1960s, though, he was frustrated the NFL wasn’t drafting more of the players his paper honored. So he shared his feelings with Dan Rooney, son of the Steelers’ owner, Art Rooney, and rather than get into an argument, Nunn was hired, becoming a full time scout in 1969, the year Chuck Noll became coach.
Over the ensuing years, Nunn steered the club to select the likes of John Stallworth (Alabama A&M), L.C. Greenwood (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Mel Blount (Southern), Dwight White (East Texas State), Donnie Shell (South Carolina State) and Ernie Holmes (Texas Southern).
Nunn did have one who didn’t work out that well. Quarterback Joe Gilliam out of Tennessee State, who was a shooting star, beating out Terry Bradshaw and Terry Hanratty in 1974, only to flame out after six games.
[Ed: I should have added Frank Lewis from Grambling State to the original piece.]
Chelsea and Liverpool played a big one at Stamford Bridge (Chelsea), and Liverpool scored a late goal to salvage a 1-1 draw, the two remaining undefeated.
Manchester City stayed on top with Liverpool with a 2-0 win over Brighton.
Arsenal, which had lost its first two, has now won five in a row, defeating Watford 2-0.
And Tottenham won another it had to, 2-0 on the road at Huddersfield, Harry Kane with both tallies for the Spurs.
Newbie Wolverhampton continues to play well, 2-0 over Southampton.
But then there was Manchester United and embattled manager Jose Mourinho, 3-1 losers at West Ham. With 10 points from seven games, it’s the worst start in 29 years for United.
West Ham had won just one of 19 preceding top-flight (Big Six) meetings.
Will Mourinho be sent packing? Management cannot let this continue much longer.
So the standings after 7 of 38...W-D-L...ties broken by goal differential...
1. Man City 6-1-0...19
2. Liverpool 6-1-0...19
3. Chelsea 4-2-0...17
4. Tottenham 5-0-2...15 ...Champions League line
5. Arsenal 5-0-2...15
6. Watford 4-1-2...13
7. Leicester 4-0-3...13
8. Wolverhampton 3-3-1...12
10. Man U 3-1-3...10
--Ryan Blaney won today’s NASCAR ‘race for the Cup’ event at Charlotte, a new course there, the ‘roval.’ As expected, it was a chaotic finish...Blaney slipping past Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, who wrecked on the last lap as they were going for the win.
The thing is, Johnson, now eliminated from the playoffs, just needed to finish second behind Truex.
But the seven-time Cup champion hadn’t won in 58 races and Johnson said after, “I was more worried about the win than anything else.”
More on the playoffs next chat, as your editor heads to Dover Speedway next Sunday.
--We send our best wishes to Shareef O’Neal, the son of Shaquille O’Neal and a four-star recruit at UCLA who has to miss the entire 2018-19 season after doctors discovered a heart ailment that will require surgery.
O’Neal told TMZ Sports that he “felt funny” during team workouts this summer, so UCLA’s doctors made him wear a heart monitor so he could push a button whenever he wanted to alert them. He then pushed the button during one summer practice and doctors later discovered the heart ailment that will force him to miss the upcoming season.
O’Neal said he expects to return next year. He’s lucky he received such great care from the folks at UCLA, which has one of the better medical centers in the world.
I just have to add that Shareef sounds like a great kid. Someone to root for.
--HBO announced it is leaving the boxing business after 45 years, more than 1,000 fights and some of the most lucrative and disputed matches of all time.
Peter Nelson, the 37-year-old executive vice president of HBO Sports, announced the move Thursday. Of the broadcast team, only Jim Lampley is expected to remain with the network.
“This is not a subjective decision,” Nelson said recently. “Our audience research informs us that boxing is no longer a determinant factor for subscribing to HBO.”
But others, including investors and broadcasters, have been increasing their commitment to the sport. A new digital platform, for example, DAZN (pronounced “Da-Zone”), signed a $1 billion deal with Matchroom Boxing to televise fights over the next eight years. The streaming service will cost $9.99 a month and will be available through the internet and smartphone apps. Last Saturday’s heavyweight fight between Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin was DAZN’s debut presentation.
In August, ESPN completed a seven-year deal with Top Rank to present 54 boxing shows on its various outlets. And Showtime said it is committing to “a more robust schedule.”
--Another shark attack. From the Los Angeles Times:
“A 13-year-old boy diving for lobster was attacked by a shark Saturday morning near Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas, leaving him with traumatic upper body wounds, authorities said.
“The attack occurred just before 7 a.m. off Neptune Avenue at the foot of Leucadia Boulevard, an hour into opening day of the lobster diving season.
“The San Diego County teen was in critical condition in the intensive care unit....
“ ‘This is a rare injury,’ (said the surgeon). ‘This is not something we see much of, to be honest with you.’”
Because it’s a child, I’ll limit the report on this one, but a witness said “the whole clavicle was ripped open.” Once again, the rescuers on the scene did an amazing job.
The attack occurred in about 9 feet of water with the shark described as 11 feet long. Initially it is thought to be a great white.
--A federal judge this week canceled what was to be the first grizzly bear hunt in 44 years in the lower 48 states, dealing a last-minute blow to those who have argued the grizzly’s recovery from near extinction now poses a growing threat to humans and livestock.
By 1975, the grizzly bear population in the western U.S. had dwindled to a population in and around Yellowstone National Park of 136, but today, there are more than 700 in this general region.
Yellowstone is one of two strongholds for grizzlies in the continental U.S., along with Montana’s Glacier National Park, where they remain on the endangered species list.
This year, Wyoming and Idaho had planned hunts, with Yellowstone spanning both. The judge is thus delaying such an event.
--Robert Redford’s last film, “The Old Man and the Gun,” hit theaters in a limited release on Friday, the 82-year-old having announced two years ago this was it. [Where does the time fly? 82?]
So the Star-Ledger had a piece by Tribune News Service’s Rafer Guzman this weekend that spelled out Redford’s 20 essential films.
The ones that are on my list are:
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Candidate (1972)
The Sting (1973)
Three Days of the Condor (1975)...incredibly underrated flick
All the President’s Men (1976)
The Natural (1984)
But as much as I love “Butch Cassidy...,” my all-time favorite is “Jeremiah Johnson” (1972), best watched in the dead of winter.
--Finally, we note the passing of Marty Balin, one of the founding members of the rock band Jefferson Airplane, and then Jefferson Starship/Starship. He was 76.
Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times
“It was emblematic of the turbulent path San Francisco’s Jefferson Airplane navigated in the 1960s and ‘70s that when the group showed up to play a 1969 festival that was supposed to be the West Coast version of Woodstock, founding member Marty Balin got knocked out cold.
“The event was the Altamont Festival, cooked up and headlined by the Rolling Stones. Held four months after Woodstock outside of San Francisco, Altamont failed to replicate that event’s touted ‘three days of peace and music’ and turned tragic when a concert-goer was stabbed to death by a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, which the Stones had hired to provide security.
“ ‘I didn’t think anything of the Hells Angels doing security, because I didn’t know that’s what they were there for,’ singer, songwriter and guitarist Balin told The Times in 1994 around the 25th anniversary of that show.
“ ‘I’d always seen them at Avalon and Fillmore shows, and there was never any trouble,’ Balin said. ‘But when we were playing, I saw these guys hitting people with pool cues right in front of the stage. I thought somebody should be doing something, so I jumped down and tried to break things up. The Angels were a little surprised. One of them said, ‘Marty, what are you doing down here? You’re gonna get hurt.'
“In fact, while Balin was trying to break up one fight, someone hit him from behind and knocked him unconscious. Word of the incident prompted the Grateful Dead, which also had been scheduled to play, to pack up and leave, and the concert further devolved and eventually left four concert-goers dead....
“The Altamont incident was reflective of the wild state of rock music in late-1960s, and for a time, Balin and his cohorts in the Airplane – singer Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady – were considered key players.”
Balin was the leader of the group, known as a sharp businessman, but he left in 1970 and decided, following Janis Joplin’s death that year, to adopt a healthier lifestyle and began practicing yoga and gave up drinking and drugs.
But by the mid-1970s, he had patched things up and rejoined the group that became known as Jefferson Starship. He would write the new band’s 1975 hit “Miracles,” which reached No. 3 on Billboard’s pop chart. [This tune was on the No. 1 “Red Octopus” album, in my all-time top 20.]
The 1966-70 lineup of Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, which lauds the group “as experimental revolutionaries.”
Top 3 songs for the week 10/4/75: #1 “Fame” (David Bowie) #2 “I’m Sorry” (John Denver) #3 “Rhinestone Cowboy” (Glen Campbell)...and ...#4 “Run Joey Run” (David Geddes) #5 “Mr. Jaws” (Dickie Goodman) #6 “Bad Blood” (Neil Sedaka) #7 “Ballroom Blitz” (Sweet) #8 “Dance With Me” (Orleans) #9 “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” (Helen Reddy) #10 “Rocky” (Austin Roberts...what a crappy week...)
Baseball Quiz Answers: Last to throw 20 complete games in the N.L. was Fernando Valenzuela with the Dodgers in 1986. Last to do so in the A.L. was Bert Blyleven (24) in 1985, who did it while pitching for both Cleveland and Minnesota.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday.