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Final Thoughts on Boston-Los Angeles
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Baseball Quiz: Soon it will be baseball award season, and I was reading a piece put out by the Hall of Fame on Oct. 31 being the 45th anniversary of Tom Seaver winning his second Cy Young award. The Cy Young was first awarded in 1956 (Don Newcombe), but wasn’t given out to each league until 1967. Seaver was the fourth in 1973 to win the award multiple times at that time. Name the other three. Answer below.
World Series Recap
It was an uneventful Game 5 Sunday, the Red Sox taking their fourth World Series in 15 years, 5-1, behind David Price’s seven strong innings, one run, his third straight terrific start in the postseason, after a history of total failure in October. Clayton Kershaw allowed four earned in seven innings, his second loss of the Series, as he drops to 9-10 career in the postseason, 4.32 ERA.
Steve Pearce was the Series MVP after he hit two home runs on Sunday, three for the five games, driving in eight. But many argue Price should have been a co-MVP.
As for the Dodgers, third baseman Justin Turner summed up the mood in the clubhouse after. “Back-to-back years, falling short in the World Series, it’s brutal. We’ve just got to try to hang our hats on all the good things that happened this year.”
The Dodgers hit .200 with runners in scoring position against Boston, while the Red Sox hit .353.
L.A. has now won six consecutive division titles, six consecutive 90-win seasons, two consecutive pennants, but they still haven’t won the World Series since 1988.
And now they face an offseason of uncertainty, starting out with Kershaw and whether he opts out of the last two years of his contract to pursue free agency. No. 2 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu will also enter free agency, and manager Dave Roberts doesn’t have a guaranteed contract for 2019, though the team has an option on him for next season.
Bill Plaschke / L.A. Times
“Winter came to Chavez Ravine Sunday night, swiftly, cruelly, blowing in from Boston and burying the Dodgers precisely where they stood.
“Clayton Kershaw, frozen on the mound, staring at his shoes. Dodgers batters, motionless at home plate, glaring into failure. Dave Roberts, stuck on the dugout rail, peering into his future.
“Surrounding it all was a Dodger Stadium filled with October-bitten fans, frosty in their seats, glaring down at somebody else celebrating a championship for the second consecutive year.
“It was all so cold. It was all so familiar....
“ ‘It stinks, it hurts, it sucks, it rips your heart out, it really does,’ said Austin Barnes in a morbidly quiet Dodgers clubhouse....
“It was same game as last year, really, sadly, the Dodgers falling behind immediately, the place deflated, the comeback rendered hopeless by flailing Dodgers bats and a deadened Dodger spirit....
“The game ended appropriately with a kneeling strikeout of Manny Machado, who didn’t seem particularly interested all night, who failed to hustle throughout the postseason, and whose celebrated midseason acquisition proved to be a bust.
“Machado will be a free agent this winter. Please, Dodgers, do not even think about bringing him back....
“The Red Sox won because they were clearly the better team. The Dodgers lost because, though they were good enough to beat essentially mediocre Atlanta and Milwaukee in the National League playoffs, they did not have the roster or utilize the strategy to compete with an elite, 108-win squad that finished the season with baseball’s best record for a reason.”
Machado hit .315 with 24 home runs and a .963 OPS in his first 96 games this season in Baltimore. Then after the Dodgers acquired him during the All-Star break, he batted .273 with 13 home runs and an .825 OPS in 66 games in Los Angeles to close out the regular season.
In the postseason he was worse...3 home runs in 71 plate appearances, batting .227 with 18 strikeouts.
As for Clayton Kershaw, he has to decide in the next 24 hours (I believe) whether to opt out of the final two seasons and $70 million to pursue free agency. Or he can play a cat-and-mouse game with management.
--Meanwhile, Boston has now won 16 of their last 19 World Series games, which is staggering.
So where does the 2018 edition rank when looking at best single seasons ever? The 1998 Yankees won 125 (114-48 regular season), and the 2018 Red Sox finished with 119 (108-54 regular season).
As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal points out, the 1970 Orioles, 1975 Reds and the 1986 Mets all matched Boston’s regular-season record of 108-54 before winning the World Series (though the Mets’ title was courtesy of Bill Buckner).
The Big Red Machine Reds had Hall-of-Famers in Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, plus Hall-of-Fame caliber Pete Rose. The Orioles had three Hall-of-Famers in Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson.
But as Red Sox principal owner John Henry noted, Henry having held a minority share in the ’98 Yankees, the Yanks didn’t have to beat two 100-win teams (New York with 100, Houston with 103) before they got to the World Series. In ’98, the two teams the Yankees defeated on their road to the World Series – Texas and Cleveland – didn’t even win 90.
Well, it doesn’t really matter who wins the debate for best single season, As Jared Diamond writes, what really matters is the true test of all-time greatness. “The 1970 Orioles followed up their dream season with another pennant. The 1975 Reds and the 1961 Yankees both won the next year’s World Series. The 1998 Yankees won the next two.”
--The New York Mets inexplicably hired agent Brodie Van Wagenen to be their new general manager.
Joel Sherman / New York Post
“There are many concerns being expressed by not just the union but major league officials about how Van Wagenen can avoid conflicts as he unwinds his ties to his clients from Creative Artist Agency (CAA), now that he is the Mets GM.
“One area both the union and MLB agree Van Wagenen must be barred is from participating in arbitrations involving former clients Jacob deGrom, who is entering his third year of arbitration eligibility, and Noah Syndergaard, who is in his second. Van Wagenen would be familiar with the cases that would be made in an arbitration hearing and what might be a settlement point.
“The problem is Van Wagenen can’t unknow what he knows and how would behind-the-scenes counsel be monitored. There would have to be belief that integrity would win out and he would abstain from these cases in all ways.”
No doubt this selection is out of the box, and Van Wagenen was impressive in his introduction Tuesday to the New York media. But as Buster Olney of ESPN said, “folks on all sides of the industry...find the choice to be bizarre and inevitably problematic.”
“Among many baseball officials and agents familiar with the Mets’ organization and the challenges and complications that Van Wagenen will face,” adds Olney, “there are ominous forecasts of disaster. Rather than seeing stability in the successor to Sandy Alderson, they see an organization inexplicably accelerating toward a cliff.”
The first poll that in the end is the ultimate decider, the College Football Playoff Rankings, was released Tuesday night.
4. Notre Dame
8. Washington State
10. Ohio State
Only UCF was a 3-slot ranking higher or lower than the AP poll among the above.
1. Alabama 8-0 (60)
2. Clemson 8-0
3. Notre Dame 8-0
4. LSU 7-1
5. Michigan 7-1
6. Georgia 7-1
7. Oklahoma 7-1
8. Ohio State 7-1
9. UCF 7-0
10. Washington State 7-1
11. Kentucky 7-1
The big shock to me was that Houston, No. 17 in the AP, wasn’t ranked in the CFP, which is absurd.
But this first ranking means little because there will be a big shakeup after two huge games on Saturday.
Earlier, however, Thursday is an important one in terms of the Group of Five, New Year’s Six berth.
Temple (5-3) at 12 UCF (7-0).
Friday, we have a big one for the ACC...4-4 Pitt at 6-2 Virginia. Why?
Well in the ACC Coastal division:
Virginia Tech 3-1
It’s a nightmare for the folks hosting the ACC title game, but one of these teams is going up against Atlantic Division leader Clemson.
Then on Saturday, CBS has the two biggies, 6 Georgia (7-1) at 9 Kentucky (7-1), 3:30 ET; and 1 Alabama (8-0) at 3 LSU (7-1), 8:00 p.m.
4 Notre Dame (8-0) travels to Northwestern (5-3), which I don’t care if the Wildcats have won four in a row in the Big Ten, including wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin; the Fighting Irish should have no problem.
The thing is, just like in the ACC Coastal, it is a nightmare to have Northwestern leading the Big Ten West:
A Northwestern vs. Ohio State or Michigan Big Ten title game will in no way help the Big Ten’s cause when it comes to the CFP.
The only other games that are mildly interesting are 14 Penn State (6-2) at 5 Michigan (7-1). Ordinarily, this would be a biggie, but this is clearly not a great Nittany Lion team.
And 7 Oklahoma (7-1) needs to beat a respectable Texas Tech (5-3) squad on the road to keep its CFP hopes alive.
--Meanwhile, if you thought things couldn’t possibly get worse at Rutgers, Tuesday, a linebacker, Izaia Bullock, was accused of involvement in a plot to murder two members of a friend’s family. He faces two counts of first-degree attempted murder and two counts of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder.
--Division I-AA / FCS Coaches Poll (Oct. 29)
1. North Dakota State8-0
2. Kennesaw State 7-1
3. James Madison 6-2
4. Eastern Washington 6-2
5. Weber State 6-2
6. Elon 5-2
7. South Dakota State 5-2
8. Wofford 6-2
9. UC Davis 7-1
10. Jacksonville State 6-2
11. Colgate 7-0...should be higher
14. Princeton 7-0...up three
T-20. Dartmouth 7-0
T-20. Nicholls 5-3
--The trade deadline was 4:00 pm. ET Tuesday and it was expected the 1-7 Giants would be wheelin’ and dealin’, with players such as Landon Collins thought to be on the block as the team is now in full re-building mode.
But the headlines around here ended up being about back-up quarterback Kyle Lauletta. The first-year QB who no doubt was going to get his first shot in the NFL shortly, as soon as the team benches Eli Manning, was arrested by New Jersey police for dangerous driving.
Talk about an idiot. In a statement coach Pat Shurmur said, “This is obviously very disappointing.”
Yes, this isn’t a gun-related charge, or a drug offense or domestic violence, but according to various sources, he received a speeding ticket in February; a citation for defective equipment in May 2017 and a failure to obey a highway sign in January 2017. New Jersey police also said Lauletta made the same illegal turn Monday that he did Tuesday.
Clearly the guy has a disregard for rules and authority along with an indifference to the safety of others. I saw where he made the illegal turn and it was indeed dangerous. He also nearly struck a traffic officer on Tuesday in making his move.
Back to the trade deadline, while there weren’t any blockbuster moves involving the likes of Le’Veon Bell or Patrick Peterson or DeSean Jackson, the Eagles did pick up solid receiver Golden Tate from Detroit for a third-round pick, Tate a free agent at the end of the season.
And Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas was shipped from the Broncos to the Texans, who just lost Will Fuller V to a season-ending knee injury.
Green Bay safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix went from the Packers to the Redskins for a fourth-round pick, another player who was likely to leave at the end of the year.
--I didn’t have a chance last time to detail the events at the end of the Rams’ 29-27 win over Green Bay, which had many fantasy football folks up in arms.
Des Bieler / Washington Post
“So maybe, when Todd Gurley allowed himself to be tackled rather than score a near-certain touchdown at the end of Sunday’s Rams-Packers game, you lost your fantasy football matchup. Or perhaps you lost a bet based on the game’s spread or its over/under.
“Well, save your lamentation for someone other than Gurley. He definitely does not want to hear it.
“ ‘Man, forget fantasy and forget Vegas,’ the Los Angeles running back said after his squad’s 29-27 victory over Green Bay. ‘We got the win, so that’s all that matters.’
“Easy for him to say. For more than a few fantasy players, what mattered was the fact that he could have scored them six more points with a touchdown, which he passed up by slowing down as he neared the end zone with just under a minute left.
“That was a smart decision for his team – it allowed the Rams to keep possession and safely kneel out the clock. If Gurley had scored, Los Angeles would have been up eight with a chance to essentially ice the game by making an extra point, but there was the possibility that the kick could miss – Justin Tucker could tell you all about that – and who would have wanted to bet against Aaron Rodgers leading a last-second touchdown drive and tying the game with a two-point conversion.
“As it was, plenty of people bet on the Rams covering what by game time was a 7.5-point spread at many Las Vegas sports books. A Gurley touchdown would have done the trick, and it would have pushed the game over its 57.5-point over/under figure.
“But neither happened, causing what Todd Dewey, a sports betting reporter for Las Vegas Review-Journal, claimed to be a $1 million-plus swing at various casinos. Social media quickly filled with horror stories.”
--Games broadcast on CBS, NBC and ESPN have seen ratings improve between 1 and 6 percent through the first eight weeks of the season, according to numbers provided to USA TODAY Sports by the networks. Fox has seen flat ratings.
The NFL’s broadcast audience declined 10 percent in 2017 and 8 percent in 2016.
NBC – which has Sunday Night Football – has seen the biggest ratings improvement through the first eight, 6 percent.
Game 5 of the World Series scored a 12.3 overnight rating, but Fox’s lead-in NFL game, Rams-Packers, netted a 15.0.
The first eight weeks of the season have also set new highs for points, touchdowns and touchdown passes.
--Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times had a piece on the state of high school football in New Jersey; many schools struggling to field a team. Consider that in 2017, there were nearly 1,700 fewer players in high school football in my state than the year before, a downturn of 6.8 percent. Only three other states, Colorado, Montana and Oklahoma, had steeper drops.
No surprise as to the reason for the decline. Administrators and coaches say it is concern over head injuries.
According to national data compiled by Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Sports Governance Center at the University of Colorado, who has been studying the decline in football participation, football remains the nation’s most popular sport for boys ages 14 to 17. But since 2009, when a record 1.14 million athletes participated in 11-player high school football, interest has fallen. The sport drew 1.03 million participants in 2017.
Back to New Jersey, girls’ soccer had the second-biggest decline, losing 577 players from 2016 to 2017, or 3.8 percent. Boys’ soccer participation dropped by 0.6 percent.
But the outlook for football is even bleaker in Jersey this fall, with multiple schools either suspending their programs, or dropping down to a junior varsity schedule because of low turnout.
--It’s a small sample size, but through Sunday’s games, the average NBA team is scoring 112.1 points per game – nearly six more than a year ago and 12 more than the 2014-15 season. More shots are being taken, more threes. In the 95 games played through the weekend, only 15 were won by teams that scored fewer than 107 points. Only four teams managed to win this season scoring fewer than 100.
--So on Monday night, Klay Thompson of the Warriors set an NBA record with 14 made 3-pointers against the Bulls, breaking fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry’s previous mark of 13.
Thompson tied the NBA record for threes in a half (held by Chandler Parson) with 10 made on 14 attempts in the first. Cumulatively, the Warriors set an NBA team record for threes in a half with 17, leading them to a stunning 92-50 halftime lead; the most points the Warriors have ever scored in a single half, and the second-most points any NBA team had scored in a first half ever.
Thompson finished 14-for-24 from downtown, and ended up with 52 points in just 27 minutes, the Warriors cruising, 149-124, finishing with 24 made 3-pointers, another franchise record.
[The previous club record for points in a half, 90, was set by the Philadelphia Warriors vs. New York in the second half on March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.]
--Tottenham lost its biggie against Manchester City, Monday, at Wembley, the day after an NFL game had been played on the pitch, 1-0, as Erik Lamela missed a golden opportunity to tie at the 79-minute mark. The Spurs desperately need their new stadium to open.
City remains in a class by itself, “the gold standard,” as the announcer said (though the standings and Liverpool supporters would say otherwise), six straight clean sheets. Think about that...540 minutes without giving up a goal.
[Meanwhile, at least Tottenham signed midfielder Dele Alli to a contract through 2024, Alli joining teammates Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Son Heung-min, and Lamela in inking long-term deals.]
Standings after 10 of 38....W-D-L...points
1. Manchester City 8-2-0...26 (3 goals against)
2. Liverpool 8-2-0...26 (4 goals against)
3. Chelsea 7-3-0...24
4. Arsenal 7-1-2...22
5. Tottenham 7-0-3...21
6. Bournemouth 6-2-2...20
7. Watford 6-1-3...19
8. Manchester United 5-2-3...17
--Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha will be mourned for a long time following this weekend’s immense helicopter tragedy. I was watching some of the analysts on NBCSN’s Premier League coverage and what made Vichai so unique is that he was not just the father figure of the club, he was the club. He cared all the time about his team and his community.
Leicester City, in the Midlands, is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural place that as one of the analysts said has had its share of problems and strife, but Vichai was one man who could bring the community together, and he was immensely generous with local charities and causes, such as the hospital there.
He used to build rapport with the fans by ordering freebies such as beer and donuts on his birthday.
Vichai was a self-made billionaire, founding duty-free giant King Power in 1989 when he won a license to set up the country’s first downtown duty-free shop at a mall in Bangkok. The company’s big break came when it was awarded exclusive rights to run duty-free and tax-free concessions at Thailand’s key airports. And then King Power secured the right to manage all other commercial space at massive Suvarnabhumi airport, which opened in 2006.
--Men’s Division I Soccer Rankings (Coaches Poll)
The regular season is over and it’s time for conference tournament play, then the NCAA tournament.
1. Wake Forest 16-1-0 (21)
2. Indiana 15-2-0 (1)
3. Kentucky 14-1-1 (4)
4. North Carolina 12-2-1 (1)
5. Saint Mary’s (CA) 15-0-1
6. Stanford 9-2-4 (1)
7. Virginia 9-2-3
8. Duke 10-5-1
9. UCF 11-2-2
10. Denver 12-3-2
--This weekend is horse racing’s big day, the Breeders’ Cup, this year at Churchill Downs, Friday and Saturday.
But it is such a shame Triple Crown winner Justify isn’t in the Classic, having been retired early due to injury. It certainly would have made for drama.
So that leaves Accelerate as the favorite, ahead of Bob Baffert’s West Coast.
But the Breeders’ Cup is the launch pad for future Triple Crown prospects and all eyes will be on Baffert’s Game Winner in the Juvenile. All five of the two-year-old races are Friday for a first time. I wish the Juvenile was the race right before The Classic on Saturday instead.
--According to ESPN’s David Purdum, Nevada sportsbooks had a record month in September since the state began tracking sports betting revenue reports in 1984.
Nevada books won $56.3 million off $571 million in bets in September, both all-time highs.
Bettors lost a net $44.3 million off approximately $389 million in bets on NFL and college football in the month.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/5/66: #1 “Last Train To Clarksville” (The Monkees) #2 “96 Tears” (“?(Question Mark) & The Mysterians) #3 “Poor Side Of Town” (Johnny Rivers... awesome tune...)...and...#4 “Reach Out I’ll Be There” (Four Tops) #5 “Dandy” (Herman’s Hermits) #6 “Hooray For Hazel” (Tommy Roe) #7 “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” (Jimmy Ruffin...another great one...) #8 “If I Were A Carpenter” (Bobby Darin) #9 “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In the Shadow?” (The Rolling Stones) #10 “Walk Away Renee” (The Left Banke...kind of like The Four Tops’ version more...I have a great Levi Stubbs story but I’ve told it before...let’s just say I was admonished by him over 20 years ago when I was still with PIMCO...Glen Z. would remember...)
Cy Young Quiz Answer: Tom Seaver was the fourth multiple winner of the Cy Young Award in 1973, Seaver having also won it in 1969. The others were Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965-66); Bob Gibson (1968, 1970); and Denny McLain (1968-69). In ’69, McLain tied with Mike Cuellar...which I’m embarrassed I forgot.
Now you could win some coin, I imagine, asking who was the first to win the Cy Young while not winning 20 games? It was Seaver in ’73...19-10.
The Cy Young Awards are handed out Nov. 14, MVPs on Nov. 15.
*I’m already waiting for pitchers and catchers! Shu, I’m jealous you can catch Fall League ball in Arizona. Mets fans, Shu reported in on Monday that he saw Peter Alonso and was unimpressed.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.