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[Posted Sunday p.m.]
World Series Quiz: 1) What player holds the season record for RBIs in a World Series (12), and is also tied for most hits in a Series (13)? [He did it in two separate Series] 2) What pitcher is the last to win three games in a single WS? Answers below.
Boston vs. Los Angeles...here we go....
Dan Shaughnessy / Boston Globe
“The relentless Red Sox won the pennant on Thursday night, beating the defending world champion Houston Astros, 4-1, in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series....Winners of 115 games, the Sox are trying to become the first team of the 21st century to win four World Series. In October of 2018, they’ve erased the 100-win Yankees and the 103-win Astros, winning seven of nine playoff games, including five straight on the road.
“And here are the words you thought you’d never read...
“The Sox clinched the pennant on the strength of six innings of stellar, pressure-packed pitching from the much-maligned David Price.”
“That’s right. On three days’ rest, filling in for ace Chris Sale, matched up against the best postseason pitcher of this generation (Justin Verlander), Price hurled six shutout innings, giving up three hits, striking out nine, and walking none. In the most important game of his Red Sox career, Price finally won a postseason start. It was his first scoreless outing in 12 playoff starts and he did it after warming up feverishly in the eighth and ninth innings of Wednesday’s epic Game 4 Red Sox victory....
“Wow. In Nixonian fashion, I must ask, ‘What will we do now that we don’t have David Price to kick around anymore?’....
“Price has been our local hard-ball piñata since he signed a $217 million contract with the Sox three years ago. He’s been widely mocked as a softie, addicted to Fortnite, armed with excuses, and unable to perform in the clutch. He hit rock bottom when he verbally ambushed the beloved Dennis Eckersley in the summer of 2017, then refused to apologize.
“Meanwhile, his postseason failures have been memorialized like ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.’ In the first 11 starts of his postseason career, Price went 0-9. In his first 19 overall playoff appearances he was 2-9 with a 5.42 ERA. In a sport that worships Mr. October, Mr. Price was Mr. May, Mr. June, and Mr. July.
“Then came Game 5 against the world champs at Minute Maid Park....
“The Verlander-Price matchup featured a duel of former Tigers teammates and former Cy Young winners.
“It also was a joust of two men with entirely different postseason reputations....
“Mr. Kate Upton came into the night with a streak of 24 scoreless innings in games in which his team had to win or go home. He extended that streak to 26 before J.D. Martinez took him over the wall in the third.
“Price came into the game with the George Costanza Bizarro World opposite reputation.”
And we know the rest of the story.
I do have to say that David Price, despite his bit of redemption at a most opportune time, remains a major-league jerk for all his past transgressions, and Dan Shaughnessy reminds us of the egregious actions Price took against Eckersley. It’s going to take a lot more than one game, let alone his off-the-mound actions, to rehabilitate the guy’s reputation.
As for the night before, the Game 4 epic won by the Red Sox 8-6....
Craig Kimbrell, helped out by a rocket throw from Mookie Betts, somehow got through two innings for his first six-out save of the season, the game ending on Andrew Benintendi’s outstanding sliding catch that, if it had gotten by him, the bases being loaded, Astros down two, was going to allow Houston to plate three for the win.
Unfortunately, I had long gone to bed before the climatic finish.
And an aside related to the length of time for the game, 4 hours, 33 minutes, for nine innings...the action wrapping up at 1:12 Eastern time.
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman notes that a big culprit suddenly in the length of the games (an average 3:36 for nine innings in the postseason) is the “paranoia over sign stealing” that is leading to long delays on each pitch as the catchers give myriad signs even with NO runners on base, “so afraid are they that real-time decoding and alerting of hitters is underway.”
The latest technology has created avenues to cheat “that have fostered a paranoia that has paralyzed game action.”
We aren’t just talking the issue of strikeouts, home runs and nothing else in terms of game action. Now we have this.
So Joel Sherman says in the offseason, Commissioner Rob Manfred, MLBPA head Tony Clark, and the owners must seek help on how to have the tech every front office, for starters, demands these days, “but remove the nefarious elements. Unfortunately, the commissioner is going to have to codify lifetime bans for anyone caught trying to influence action by electronic means once the game begins.”
Regarding Game 4’s home run that wasn’t....
Bob Nightengale / USA TODAY Sports
“He won’t hide in anonymity like Steve Bartman, or be famous like Jeffrey Maier, but Troy Caldwell certainly will be forever known in Houston if the Astros don’t reach the World Series.
“The Boston Red Sox made Caldwell infamous overnight Wednesday by knocking off the Astros, 8-6, and taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series, with a replay review that may be debated forever in Texas.
“Caldwell was just an anonymous Astro fan sitting in the first row of Section 152 in the right-field seats at Minute Maid Park. Jose Altuve hit a drive deep to right field. Caldwell jumped up and stuck out his hand, hoping to catch the ball. Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts jumped high, trying to catch it himself. Caldwell’s hand knocked against Betts’ glove. No one caught the ball.
“The sellout crowd of 43,277 went wild, believing it was a homer, and Caldwell started cheering himself.
“Only for the stadium to watch in disbelief as right-field umpire Joe West shot his arm up in the air.
“Caldwell stood in horror, screaming along with everyone else as they waited 3 minutes, 13 seconds – which seemed like an eternity – for the replay review.
“The decision came. The call was confirmed: Spectator interference. Out.
“Replay after replay was shown on the huge scoreboard, and on TV sets across America, but it was virtually impossible to tell if the ball was over the fence or just short.
“There was no conclusive evidence. The call stood, and the sellout crowd went berserk.
“ ‘After viewing all relevant angles,’ MLB said in a statement, ‘the replay official could not definitely determine that the spectator failed to reach out of the stands and over the playing field, clearly preventing the fielder from catching the ball.
“ ‘The call stands, the batter is out.’”
I thought the ball was clearly over the fence, and that Troy Caldwell had not interfered with Betts, as in my take on the thousand replays was that Betts was closing his mitt before Caldwell nudged him.
But, because Joe West had made the ‘out’ call, it was up to replay to find conclusive proof otherwise and those folks deemed it wasn’t there.
I feel for Houston fans. And Troy Caldwell did nothing wrong...his name doesn’t go down in infamy like Bartman’s.
As for Boston’s opponent....
We went to a Game 7, Saturday night, Dodgers-Brewers, and after Christian Yelich homered for Milwaukee in the bottom of the first to give the Brew Crew a 1-0 lead, Cody Bellinger hit a two-run shot off Jhoulys Chacin in the top of the second and it was 2-1 heading to the bottom of the fifth, when the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor made a super catch in deep left-center field to save L.A.’s lead. Yasiel Puig then hit a three-run homer off Jeremy Jeffress in the top of the sixth to make it 5-1, and that’s how we ended up; Clayton Kershaw finishing it off with a perfect ninth, which is then his tune-up for his Game 1 World Series start in Boston against Chris Sale on Tuesday. [L.A. hasn’t officially tabbed Kershaw, but there is zero reason for him not to be.]
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“It has stared at them for a year now, dancing beyond their reach, swaggering around their pain, teasing, taunting, challenging.
“On a cold Saturday night at Miller Park, a blue-hot baseball team finally confronted their demon, stuck their chin in its face, and challenged it to another fight.
“Welcome back, Dodgers, to the World Series.
“Welcome back to your dream. Welcome back to your nightmare.
“This time, one more win, OK?
“After spending six months investing all their energy in returning to the spot that left them so empty, the Dodgers were rewarded with a second consecutive World Series berth after a 5-1 comeback victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in the deciding Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.
“They will play the favored American League champion Boston Red Sox beginning Tuesday in Boston, a tough task, but the Dodgers will revel in it. After losing last year’s World Series to the Houston Astros in Game 7, they spent all season in search of redemption, and they finally earned that chance on a night of rich history and dazzling beauty.
“And, oh yeah, also a night of poetic symmetry, as the final score exactly matched the score of last year’s lost World Series Game 7....
“It ended with Clayton Kershaw fittingly on the mound, the ace pitching the ninth inning in relief, his giant figure smothered by hugging and leaping Dodgers who clearly can’t wait to begin the final leg of their journey.
“ ‘There was a message in last year’s Game 7, we learned from that as a team, and everybody thought about this moment, getting back to the World Series,’ said Chris Taylor.”
Bill Madden / New York Daily News
“No doubt, from the TV ratings standpoint, MLB moguls were rooting hard for a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series. And they got their wish after L.A.’s thrilling Game 7 victory late Saturday night.
“In their minds, the ka-ching, ka-ching prospect of two of baseball’s oldest and revered franchises from major markets far out-weighed the fact that this would be a matchup of one team with the most bloated payroll in baseball versus another team that could soon be under indictment.
“Bad enough the Dodgers in the World Series will provide a national showcase for Manny Machado, the most hated man in baseball – we’ll get to that later – but the franchise of Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax and Kirk Gibson is also squarely in the crosshairs of an ongoing Department of Justice investigation surrounding the procurement by MLB teams of international players, particularly those who have defected from Cuba.
“The investigation, reported in detail by Sports Illustrated two weeks ago, reveals a potential scandal that looms as among the biggest ever to hit baseball – possibly rivaling the 1919 Black Sox scandal, the ‘70s drug scandal, the ‘90s steroids scandal, or the Biogenesis scandal of a couple of years ago – because this time, instead of just players, high-ranking baseball officials are reportedly implicated. According to the SI report, last spring the FBI launched the probe, which focuses on potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, after an MLB whistle blower provided agents with a trove of information gathered in 2015 and 2016. The information centered on the Dodgers’ role in signing Cuban players and included potentially incriminating email exchanges between team officials, along with videotapes, photographs, confidential legal briefs, copies of player visas and passport documents, and private communications by team executives.
“The Dodgers signing of Cuban players is part of an ongoing FBI probe. SI further reported that evidence obtained by the FBI from the whistleblower, as well as testimony from the victims of smuggling and human trafficking, has been provided to a Washington, D.C., grand jury. According to SI, Andrew Friedman, who took over as Dodgers’ president of baseball operations in 2014, and present Phillies manager, Gabe Kapler, who was the Dodgers’ director of player development between 2014-2017, declined comment, and SI was then told to direct any further requests for comment on the investigation to an outside legal firm.
“There have been numerous media accounts in the past of how smugglers traffic Cuban nationals via harrowing journeys across the Caribbean to stash houses in countries such as Haiti, Mexico or the Dominican Republic where they acquire third-country residency before being allowed to sign as free agents with an MLB team. It is believed part of the evidence provided the FBI may also shed a window on the practices of the ‘buscones’ – street agents and runners – stealing signing bonuses, as well as details of age and identity fraud.
“So this is the cloud that’s been hovering over the Dodgers this postseason even as they made it back to the World Series, looking to win it for the first time since 1988 and Kirk Gibson’s immortal, Series-turning home run off A’s closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1.”
As for Manny Machado, who was labeled by Christian Yelich and others as a dirty player, and is a guy who admits he doesn’t hustle out of the box because, “That’s not my personality. That’s not my cup of tea.”
“This is a guy who’s playing for a $300 million contract in free agency this winter. Knowing this, knowing his blatant disrespect for the game and the disdain with which so many other players in the game hold for him, you have to ask yourself: ‘What owner in their right mind would make that kind of long-term financial commitment to Machado? If this is the way he acts before he gets the money, what’s he going to be like after he gets his lifetime security?’ Good luck.”
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP poll...]
Not for nothing, but I’ve nailed the “trap game” the last two weeks. First I told you West Virginia could fall to Iowa State, and then this week I wrote, “If there is an obvious trap game, it’s 2 Ohio State at Purdue, the Boilermakers a better team than their 3-3 record.”
Bingo. But first a quick rundown of the top ten...No. 4 Notre Dame, 7 Texas and 8 Georgia being idle.
No. 1 Alabama and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa continued to roll, this week 58-21 at Tennessee, Tagovailoa, the now-unanimous pick for the Heisman Trophy (just send it to him and spare us all that interminable ceremony surrounding it...actually I shouldn’t complain because I don’t watch it) had another four touchdown passes, without an interception, to take his beyond stupendous TD-INT ratio to 25-0!
In what was supposed to be an entertaining game, at least for a half, in a battle of ACC undefeateds, No. 3 Clemson raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead over 16 North Carolina State in Death Valley, and cruised from there, 41-7, as the Tigers defense kept Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley under wraps the entire contest, Finley just 21/34, 156, 0-2.
N.C. State focused its entire defense on stopping Clemson’s star running back, Travis Etienne, who entered the contest averaging 9.2 yards per carry, and it worked, Etienne with just 39 yards on 15 carries, but he scored three short touchdowns and Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence picked up the slack, throwing for 308 and a score.
Just an awful loss for the Wolfpack and now Clemson is a lock to be undefeated heading into the college football playoffs. [Ryan Finley also didn’t do his pro prospects any good. As analyst Todd Blackledge kept pointing out, he had zero zip on his passes.]
No. 5 LSU stays in the CFP conversation with a 19-3 home win against 22 Mississippi State.
LSU’s defense held Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald well in check. While he ran for 131 yards, he was a putrid 8 of 24 through the air for 59 yards, and he was picked off four times.
No. 6 Michigan traveled to East Lansing and a faceoff against 24 Michigan State and nothing ruins a game more than a long weather delay, which we had early in this one...so of course you turn away from the telecast, find something else, and really don’t care to go back when it resumes; at least that describes my attitude.
But the Wolverines got the win they needed to stay in the CFP hunt, 21-7 over the Spartans, outgaining MSU 395-94!
Good lord, Michigan State blows! QB Brian Lewerke was a Rutgers-like 5 of 25 for 66 yards.
9 Oklahoma is also still in the conversation, kind of, I guess, with a 52-27 win at TCU, which is having a down year. Sooner quarterback Kyler Murray threw for four touchdowns.
10 UCF beat East Carolina on the road 37-10, the Pirates with five turnovers. The Knights played without quarterback McKenzie Milton, out with an ankle injury.
I’ll get into it more next Bar Chat, but overnight I’ve soured on UCF’s CFP chances and it’s because of the supposed ‘power’ in the American Athletic Conference...it’s being exposed.
As in No. 20 Cincinnati suffered its first loss at Temple, 24-17 in overtime, each team committing three turnovers.
Granted, Temple is tough, 5-3, and they next play UCF, Nov. 1, but the Bearcats were obviously pretenders.
No. 21 South Florida barely got by a godawful UConn squad, 38-30, saved by freshman running back Johnny Ford’s 164 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just seven carries.
So we go back to No. 2 Ohio State, which fell behind Purdue 14-3 at the half in West Lafayette, and then succumbed 49-20, as the Boilermakers’ David Blough threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns, and running back D.J. Knox had 128 yards and three scores of his own on the ground.
Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins did all he could, throwing a staggering 73 times, completing 49, for 470 yards and two TDs, but it was far from enough. The Buckeyes defense just wasn’t up to the task.
So the loss by Ohio State certainly shakes things up in the Big Ten, with every team in the conference now having a loss, and the Buckeyes and Wolverines on a collision course for their end of season matchup that will be huge.
In a few other games of note....
12 Oregon traveled to Pullman, WA, to face Washington State and the surprising No. 25 Cougars raced off to a 27-0 halftime lead over the Ducks, on the way to a 34-20 upset, Oregon having rallied back to 27-20.
Bet you didn’t know that Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew led the nation in passing yards entering the contest, but Minshew threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, on his way to a 39/51, 323, 4-2 game.
But like the Big Ten, the Pac-12 is a mess.
Speaking of the former, No. 19 Iowa continued to improve its case for a potential New Year’s Six game (really, don’t scoff), 23-0 winners at home over Maryland, holding the Terrapins to just 115 yards of offense, as the Hawkeyes are now 6-1, the only loss to Wisconsin.
And 14 Kentucky is 6-1 after a 14-7 win over Vanderbilt, the Wildcats’ soul offense being running back Benny Snell Jr., 32-169-1.
A few final games I can’t help note....
Nebraska’s Scott Frost finally picked up his first win at the helm of the Cornhuskers, 53-28 over Minnesota, as Nebraska racked up 659 yards of offense, 401 from quarterback Adrian Martinez, who also accounted for four touchdowns.
My Wake Forest Demon Deacons continue to be in freefall, falling to Florida State 38-17, the Deacs now 3-4, staring at a 5-7 season, if we’re lucky.
And then there’s Rutgers, now 1-7 after an 18-15 home loss to Northwestern.
Rutgers led 15-7 in the third, but the last 25 minutes of the game, the Scarlet Knights offense generated zero first downs...ZERO! Quarterback Artur Sitkowski, he of the 3-15, TD-INT ratio, didn’t throw any of either this week, but he was 15 of 31 for 81 yards! 31 passes for 81 yards?! Geezuz....that’s hideous.
Steve Politi / Star-Ledger
“(Rutgers Coach) Chris Ash lost his cool.
“Did he win the fan base?
“That’s probably a stretch. The 15,000 or so Rutgers fans who came to HighPoint.com Stadium* for Homecoming were treated to the team’s best effort of the season by a wiiiiiiide margin in this 18-15 loss to Northwestern, a program that had won 10 of 11 Big Ten games coming into this one.
“Still: We’re done giving out effort trophies for this program in Ash’s third season. An L is an L, and Rutgers is likely headed to 11 of them in 2018 with Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State left on the schedule. That’s going to keep the flames burning under Ash’s seat for the foreseeable future.
“But at least, for a change, we saw some fire from Ash.”
*Rutgers’ stadium holds over 40,000.
In Division I-AA play, we have a developing story in the Ivy League. Princeton, 29-21 winners over Harvard, and Dartmouth, 28-12 victors over Columbia, are both 6-0 and on a collision course for their Nov. 3 matchup at Princeton, which should be a neat game.
And Shu’s Elon had a 38-28 win over Richmond, which is in the midst of a down year, Richmond normally perennial FCS powers.
And now...the new AP Poll....
1. Alabama 8-0 (61)
2. Clemson 7-0
3. Notre Dame 7-0
4. LSU 7-1
5. Michigan 7-1
6. Texas 6-1
7. Georgia 6-1
8. Oklahoma 6-1
9. Florida 6-1
10. UCF 7-0
11. Ohio State 7-1
12. Kentucky 6-1
14. Washington State 6-1
18. Iowa 6-1...should be higher
21. South Florida 7-0
25. Appalachian State 5-1!!! ...First time in school history, the Apps only transitioning to the FBS and Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
I am re-petitioning New Jersey Gov. Murphy on my demand that Rutgers be relegated to North Carolina, replaced by the App State sports programs, students, faculty and barbecue pork pits. New Jersey can throw in some classic diners and a pizzeria or two.
I know my friends in North Carolina won’t be happy and I’m sorry for this...but we have the resources to prevail in a war between the two states. Plus our politicians are more corrupt, and that has to stand for something in the upcoming conflict.
But having drunk for both sides, I admit I’m conflicted.....
--My Jets showed they aren’t quite ready for prime time, Sam Darnold looking like the rookie he is, a rather unimpressive 17/42, 206, 1-3, 34.4! Yes, it was in the winds of MetLife Stadium, and he is missing some of his weapons at wide receiver, but it’s all part of the learning curve. The Jets lost to the Vikings (4-2-1), 37-17, to fall to 3-4, Kirk Cousins, the quarterback who spurned a most generous Jets offer in the spring, 25/40, 241, 2-0, 95.9.
Vikings receiver Adam Thiele caught 9 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown and the significance of that for this amazing overachiever out of Minnesota State is that he became the first since Houston’s Charley Hennigan in 1961 to open a season with seven straight 100-yard efforts.
Calvin Johnson (2012) has the overall season record at eight.
I’ll perhaps have more on this next chat, but what a jerk Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is. Towards the end he thought he should have had a pass interference call on his attempt for a TD reception in the end zone, and it was close, but then he threw the ball directly towards the official.
Suspend the idiot...who has a history of such jerkdom.
--New England survived to improve to 5-2, 38-31 at Chicago (3-3), a last-second Bears ‘Hail Mary’ stopped at the goal line.
Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns, but it was special teams that won it; Cordarrelle Patterson with a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD, and the Pats blocked a punt for another score. Chicago falls to 3-3.
--The Super Bowl champion Eagles are now 3-4, despite a very good effort from Carson Wentz, 30/37, 310, 2-0, 119.6, Philadelphia falling to Carolina (4-2) 21-17.
--The Browns fell to 2-4-1 after losing their fourth overtime game of the year, 26-23, to Tampa Bay (3-3). Baker Mayfield was solid, nonetheless, in defeat...23/34, 215, 2-0, 104.4.
--Detroit is 3-3 after beating the Dolphins (4-3) in Miami, 32-21. The Dolphins cheerleaders, however, looked good in defeat and the home fans left happy. [Which is why pro football teams have cheerleaders, boys and girls. Gotta give them a reason to come back.]
--Indianapolis is 2-5 after a 37-5 bashing of the 2-5 Bills. Colts fans are optimistic because Andrew Luck looks good in his return (17/23, 156, 4-0, 131.5), and the team is developing young talent, while Bills fans are hitting the beer and wings joints...Buffalo resorting to using retread Derek Anderson, who hadn’t started since 2016 and was reportedly on vacation recently...Anderson throwing three interceptions. Rookie first-round draft pick Josh Allen could be headed for Tommy John surgery. Eegads.
--Jacksonville, your Bar Chat “Pick to Click” to win the Super Bowl, started the season 3-1...on track.
But suddenly they have lost three in a row, and today, quarterback Blake Bortles was benched, the Jags losing to Houston (4-3) 20-7.
--That was a rather astounding ending to Redskins-Cowboys in Washington, Dallas lining up for a 47-yarder to tie the game at 20 on the final play, only they were called for a penalty and it became a 52-yarder...which kicker Brett Maher then proceeded to miss, hitting the left goal post. It was obviously good from 47.
Dallas falls to 3-4. Washington fans are psyched...their boys 4-2.
--Finally, I caught the last quarter of Sunday morning’s game from Wembley Stadium, Tennessee and San Diego, and the Titans scored with 0:31 to go to make it 20-19, Chargers, with the obvious opportunity to tie it up and send the game into OT.
I was working, looked down, and then up, and I’m like ‘WTF? Did I miss something?’ Tennessee was going for two points and the win. They actually had two shots due to a penalty on the first attempt, and missed both.
I don’t get it. In no way do I agree with Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel’s decision, the Titans falling to 3-4. Tennessee had totally outplayed San Diego in the second half and had all the momentum for OT.
San Diego, though, was handed a gift fourth win in a row to move to 5-2. Summit’s Michael Badgley, who got a second start, was 2-for-2 on field goals.
--The hideous Giants keep drawing attention for all the wrong reasons. Eli Manning is on the cover of the current issue of USA TODAY Sports... “Blue Bleed: Eli Manning and the Giants Have Lost Their Way” ...and then there is Odell Beckham...one of the more selfish stars to come along in these parts. The Giants are at Atlanta tomorrow for a scintillating Monday Night Football contest
Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post
“If Odell Beckham is sincere, if he’s true to his words and his professional mantra that all he wants to do is win, then he absolutely, positively must eliminate the extracurricular nonsense he has a habit of getting himself into and make it all about football.
“That means no more bizarre interviews with Lil Wayne sitting by his side, nodding approval while Beckham shreds members of his own team; no more publicized trips to South Beach to hang with the Biebs on a yacht days before a playoff game; and, while he’s at it, maybe telling his dad to clam up with the anti-Giants Instagram posts like that one that tweaked team owner John Mara the other day.
“Perhaps Odell Beckham Jr. should remind Odell Beckham Sr. that the man he poked fun at on Instagram is the same man who signed off on the $95 million contract that has given the entire Beckham family security for life....
“To his credit, Beckham – speaking publicly for the first time since Mara demanded more play and less talk from the star receiver – comported himself professionally and, for the most part, said the right things.
“ ‘I respect and value his opinion, obviously, so that’s what we’re going to do...focus on Atlanta right now and that’s really it,’ Beckham said Friday. ‘I haven’t talked to him yet, but I’m sure we’ll talk.’
“When asked if he recognizes the importance of eliminating the extracurricular stuff and making it all about football, Beckham said, ‘I think the extracurricular comes with losing.’
‘The problem for Beckham is that, in his five seasons as a supposed game-changing receiver, losing is pretty much all he has known. In the 54 games he has played, including one playoff loss in Green Bay, the Giants are 22-32. Dating back to last season, when Beckham played only four games (all losses), the Giants are 1-9.
“This, of course, cannot all be pinned on Beckham, who doesn’t throw the ball, block for the quarterback or play defense. But the record is the record and Beckham’s incredible skills haven’t been difference-making.”
Oh, and Beckham doesn’t like water...he’s said so...so he has dehydration issues.
“I really don’t like water,” Beckham explained. “I just really don’t like when you get that stomach feeling, it’s all slushy, like I’m trying to stay hydrated. Sometimes I just got to get an IV, it’s just necessary.” Like before the half of the last game.
“In the you-can’t-make-this-up department, as Beckham said this, he was sipping a bottle of water.”
And Beckham didn’t apologize for creating his last non-football storm from the ESPN interview with Lil Wayne, where Odell dissed his team and teammates, infuriating the owner.
When asked if he had regrets, Beckham said: “Never. I never have any regrets.”
The season is underway and we had a brawl during the Rockets-Lakers game Saturday night, as LeBron was making his debut in La La Land.
LeBron and the Lakers had lost their opener on the road at Portland, 128-119, as James had 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists (plus six turnovers), but in Saturday’s home opener, the Rockets winning 124-115, LeBron was hardly scintillating, 24 points on 9 of 22 shooting from the field (1 of 7 from three), with just five rebounds and five assists.
The fight started, though, after Chris Paul claimed Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo had spit on him. I’m biting my tongue.
--Johnny Mac noted that after just two games, Gordon Hayward, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler all took Saturday night’s games off for “rest.” Ergo, “you have to be a complete idiot to spend any money on an NBA regular season game” if you’re going to see one particular player, for starters.
--Meanwhile, in a move that could challenge the NCAA’s monopoly on elite talent, the NBA’s G League is creating a new venture as an alternative to the one-and-done route for the best American prospects, the league announced Thursday.
As part of a newly formed professional path starting in the summer of 2019, the G League will offer “Select Contracts” worth $125,000 to elite prospects who are at least 18 years old but not yet eligible for the NBA draft.
The G League will be targeting recent or would-be high school graduates who otherwise would likely spend just one season playing college basketball, not only enticing them with a decent paycheck, but also the benefit of playing in an NBA infrastructure, as well as a series of off-court development programs “geared toward facilitating and accelerating their transition to the pro game,” league president Malcolm Turner told ESPN.
In a statement, NCAA president Mark Emmert said: “We appreciate the NBA’s decision to provide additional opportunities for those who would like to pursue their dream of playing professionally. The NCAA recently implemented significant reforms to support student-athlete success, including more flexibility when deciding whether to play professionally.
“Obtaining a college education continues to provide unmatched preparation for success in life for the majority of student-athletes and remains an excellent path to professional sports for many. However, this change provides another option for those who would prefer not to attend college but want to directly pursue professional basketball.”
But there are still a lot of questions to be answered. The G League has said it will be emphasizing players of good character and readiness to join a pro league. But there’s been no word on how many players the G League will look to include in its first iteration of the venture. And it’s not known as of this date if international players will be eligible...the same players who now matriculate in U.S. colleges in preparation for the draft.
Regular G League players make $35,000 as a base salary for a five-month season, with bonuses, NBA call-ups, two-way deals and Exhibit 10 contracts providing paths to earning more. [Jonathan Givony]
In league action this weekend, Manchester City blasted Burnley 5-0, Watford had a nice win at Wolverhampton, 2-0, Liverpool beat Huddersfield 1-0, and my Tottenham Spurs continued to win games they needed to, ahead of next week’s biggie against Man City, 1-0 over West Ham.
Cardiff picked up its first win, 4-2 over Fulham, the two destined to battle it out in the race not to be relegated (along with Huddersfield and Newcastle). Cardiff now No. 17.
And then we had Manchester United and embattled manager Jose Mourinho, traveling to his old haunt, Stamford Bridge, to face off against a Chelsea team he once led to three Premier League titles.
Man U was leading 2-1 very late, headed to a terrific win and no doubt saving Mourinho’s job for at least another few weeks, when Chelsea’s Ross Barkley scored a 96th-minute equalizer that rescued Chelsea’s unbeaten PL start.
But as Mourinho bowed his head in disappointment, he then reacted angrily as Chelsea technical assistant Marco Ianni celebrated in front of him before then pumping his fists in Mourinho’s direction.
The Portuguese jumped from his seat and was then held back by a mixture of stewards and Manchester United staff as he attempted to get down the tunnel at Ianni. It was dramatic stuff.
Standings after 9 of 38 matches...W-D-L...points
1. Man City 7-2-0...23
2. Liverpool 7-2-0...23
3. Chelsea 6-3-0...21
4. Tottenham 7-0-2...21
5. Arsenal 6-0-2...18*
9. Man U 4-2-3...14
*Arsenal hosts Leicester on Monday in their ninth match.
--Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score 400 goals in Europe’s top five leagues as Juventus was drawing with Genoa, 1-1.
Ronaldo’s fifth Serie A goal for Juve was added to his 84 Premier League strikes for Manchester United and 311 in La Liga for Real Madrid.
--Barcelona will be without the sport’s other mega superstar, Lionel Messi, for next week’s La Liga Classico against Real Madrid, Messi breaking his elbow after falling awkwardly in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Sevilla, which sent Barcelona back to the top of the league. He’ll be out about three weeks.
Messi will also miss two Champions League games.
--Brooks Koepka won this week’s PGA Tour event in South Korea, the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, by four shots over Gary Woodland.
This is significant. Not only has he become World No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time, but it’s his fifth PGA Tour title, three of them majors.
This coming week we have the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, and a tournament in Jackson, Miss., for the common folk. After that, two more fall events before we shut things down for the holidays.
--64-year-old Jay Haas had a three-shot lead heading into the final round of the first Charles Schwab Cup playoff event today in Richmond, Va., that cut the field from 72 to 54, but he ended up T-3, Woody Austin winning it. Jay, a fellow Demon Deacon, and just a super guy, ditto his whole family, advancing to round two.
Classmate Gary Hallberg fell short.
--John Feinstein / Golfworld...on Johnny Miller’s retirement.
“In the spring of 1995, I was sitting in the player dining area at Atlanta Country Club during the week of the now defunct BellSouth Classic. There were four players sitting at the table and the subject was Johnny Miller, who was about to work his first U.S. Open as a broadcaster in June, NBC having won the rights to the championship from ABC.
“ ‘It’s a disgrace they’re going to let that guy do the Open,’ said one player – a solid veteran who had never won on the PGA Tour, but had steadily kept his card for years. ‘I mean, the U.S. Open and he’ll be sitting there in the booth calling people chokers.’
“Another player, someone who had won on tour several times, chimed in. ‘He sits there and acts like he knows everything. I mean, what did Johnny Miller ever do in golf that allows him to criticize us?’
“At that point, I couldn’t resist. ‘Um, he did win two majors and 25 times on tour – including last year at Pebble Beach when he was spending a lot more time in the booth than on the golf course,’ I said. ‘I mean, whatever you think of his broadcasting, he’s a Hall of Fame player.’
“They all looked at me for a moment as if I had said purses on the tour should be cut by 50 percent. Then the guy who had asked what Miller had ever done in golf said: ‘Twenty-five times? Really?’
“ ‘Yup,’ I said. ‘And two majors, including the 1973 U.S. Open when he shot 63 at Oakmont on Sunday to win.’
“ ‘I remember that,’ said a third player. ‘The golf course was soaking wet.’
“I agreed and then added, ‘But no one else shot 63 that day did they?’”
What an embarrassing conversation! Geezuz. There are some total idiots on tour, aren’t there?
“What really set Miller Part, though, was how different he was from virtually every ex-player who has ever set foot in a booth or put on a headset. The late Dave Marr, who was ABC’s lead analyst for many years, once pointed out that golf analysts were there to ‘gild the rose, make everyone look good.’
“Miller was there to point out the good, the bad and the ugly – from the point of view of someone who had been great, bad and occasionally ugly, as he often noted on the air.”
Yes, historically the players hadn’t faced criticism...there was an unspoken (or spoken) partnership between the television networks and the players.
“Most of the time that notion of partnership comes roaring through the TV screen, regardless of what network you’re watching. Every player on tour is a wonderful person, and when they hit a poor shot, there’s always a reason. How many times have you heard someone say He hit a perfect putt on a putt that doesn’t touch the hole. A perfect putt, for the record, is one that goes in.
“If you walk into a locker room or into player dining, you will often see the TV ‘partners’ hanging out with players. Or on the range or putting green. This isn’t all bad, because often that contact will produce an anecdote or a piece of information that can be used on air.
“That wasn’t Miller’s style. He didn’t want to still be ‘one of the guys’ as so many ex-players are – or want to be. His homework was done on the golf course, getting in a cart on weekend mornings and checking hole locations – not just with a pin sheet but by taking a putter onto the greens and hitting putts to the hole from all angles.”
Feinstein notes that over the years, Miller seems to have softened a bit with his commentary, perhaps under pressure from the network to lighten up, to ‘please the partners.’
“Miller stood out, not just because he was willing to speak his mind but because no one had done it before him and no one (Brandel Chamblee being the lone exception) has really done it since him. He was the absolute best there’s ever been in the TV booth.”
Feinstein concludes by recalling Miller’s win at Pebble Beach in 1994, “When he came out of the booth...(to) beat Tom Watson down the stretch. Watson waited for Miller to come off the 18th green to congratulate him.
“ ‘Great playing,’ Watson said, shaking his hand. ‘Now get your butt back in the booth where you belong.’
“Watson was speaking player-to-player – as in, give the rest of us a chance. He could just as easily have been speaking for all golf fans.”
--22-year-old Chase Elliott won his third NASCAR race of the year today at Kansas Speedway, having already qualified for the final four races in the Chase. More on this next time. Just eight drivers left.
--The college basketball corruption trial in downtown Manhattan has wrapped up; the federal case against aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins, Adidas executive James Gatto and former Adidas consultant Merl Code.
And as the New York Post’s Zach Braziller wrote, the recruitment of Zion Williamson, Duke’s freshman five-star may be taking center stage. “His father asked Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend for money, housing and a job, according to FBI wire taps between Townsend and Code. Coincidentally, this came out a day after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he doesn’t believe there is a problem, saying the scandal is a ‘blip. It’s not what’s happening.’ An NCAA investigation into his recruitment could follow.”
Braziller also notes that Kansas “was frequently mentioned during the trial,” and second-year LSU coach, Will Wade, was caught on FBI wiretaps talking with Dawkins about five-star recruit Balsa Koprivica, who attends Montverde Academy in Florida. The tapes don’t sound good for Wade.
But as for the case of former five-star recruit Brian Bowen, “the only one not willing to pay (for his services) was Michigan State... Oregon was said to have offered ‘an astronomical amount,’ according to Gatto’s attorney, Michael Schachter.”
--I have to admit, I never thought I’d be writing about former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Bar Chat, but as Des Bieler writes in the Washington Post, Ahmadinejad has an active Twitter presence in which he opines on all manner of topics, including U.S. sports, sometimes giving his take on the likes of LeBron and Serena Williams.
But I had to include that the other day, Ahmadinejad was expounding on the Michigan Wolverines, and how “with a hard work ethic” the program “will return to its glory days.”
As Bieler noted: “Helpfully, lest any Twitter user see the tweet and think the sentiment was coming from the likes of Colin Cowherd or Lee Corso, Ahmadinejad added “Inshallah,” Arabic for “God willing.”
Ahmadinejad had also tweeted earlier that the NFL season was about to kick off without “one of the best quarterbacks in the league”: Colin Kaepernick.
It seems the guy is very open to having people fire questions and observations at him on all sports topics.
--The Indianapolis Zoo says a lion has died in a fight with another lion. The zoo said Friday that an adult female, Zuri, attacked 10-year-old male Nyack in their outdoor yard Monday before the zoo opened for the day.
The zoo says the two had been housed together for eight years and produced three cubs in 2015. Nyack was on loan from the San Diego Zoo.
It says staff heard an unusual amount of roaring from the yard and staff tried to separate the two but Zuri held Nyack by the neck until he stopped moving. A necropsy confirmed that Nyack died of suffocation from injuries to his neck.
--Natives of Rome, Italy, who call themselves “Romans,” are fed up with seeing wild boars trotting down streets, giant seagulls dismembering dead rats and perilous potholes in the roads, so they’ve begun staging mass protests against the state of the Eternal City.
As noted in the Irish Independent, “Wild boar are routinely seen on the street and in urban areas in Rome, where they feast on uncollected rubbish.
“Playgrounds are falling to bits, public parks resemble unkempt jungles, trees drop their branches on top of cars and occasionally on the heads of pedestrians, and motorcyclists have to negotiate a slalom of potholes on battered roads.”
Now who’s ready for that dream vacation to Roma?
--Paul Allen, the late co-founder of Microsoft, was a great man in so many regards, as readers of this column should know (think USS Indianapolis). I cover his passing in that other column I do rather extensively, so give it a look (under “Street Bytes”).
But for this column, I note this from his New York Times obituary:
“A rock ‘n’ roll aficionado, Allen had a band on call to jam with when he wanted, and spent more than $250 million building a museum devoted to his hero, Jimi Hendrix, which morphed into a music and science fiction exhibit designed by Frank Gehry.”
RIP, Mr. Allen.
Top 3 songs for the week 10/26/63: #1 “Sugar Shack” (Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs) #2 “Be My Baby” (The Ronettes) #3 “Deep Purple” (Nino Tempo & April Stevens...not to be confused with Deep Purple and ‘Smoke on the Water’...)...and...#4 “Busted” (Ray Charles) #5 “Blue Velvet” (Bobby Vinton) #6 “Donna The Prima Donna” (Dion) #7 “Mean Women Blues” (Roy Orbison) #8 “Washington Square” (The Village Stompers) #9 “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (Peter, Paul & Mary) #10 “Cry Baby” (Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters...next time we’ll be into The British Invasion, boys and girls...)
World Series Quiz Answers: 1) The Yankees’ Bobby Richardson holds the record for most RBIs in a Series, 1960, against Pittsburgh, and Richardson is also tied with two others for most hits in a Series with 13, 1964, against St. Louis. The others with 13 are Lou Brock, St. Louis, 1968, and Marty Barrett, Boston, 1986. Ironically, the heroics of all three were in a losing effort. 2) Randy Johnson was the last to win three games in a Series, Arizona, 2001, two starts and in a relief appearance. Before that you have to go back to Mickey Lolich, Det., 1968, and Bob Gibson, St. Louis, 1967.
Back to Richardson, he was just a .266 career hitter, but the perennial All-Star and 5-time Gold Glove winner batted .305 in seven World Series.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.