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Final Four in View
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Baseball Quiz: One more involving the late-Willie McCovey. His birthplace, Mobile, Ala., startlingly is the birthplace of more players in the Baseball Hall of Fame than any city in the world other than Los Angeles and New York. As the Hall of Fame points out, more than Philadelphia, San Francisco...thirteen states have no native sons in the Hall of Fame. Yet Mobile is the boyhood home of five HOFers. So name the other four aside from “Stretch.” Answer below.
College Football...new CFP Rankings
--Zero surprises in the rankings released Tuesday night. I told you last time what the first six would be and these are the only teams left with a shot at the final four.
1. Alabama 9-0
2. Clemson 9-0
3. Notre Dame 9-0
4. Michigan 8-1
5. Georgia 8-1
6. Oklahoma 8-1
7. LSU 7-2...this is the one ranking that is absurd
8. Washington State 8-1
9. West Virginia 7-1
10. Ohio State 8-1
12. UCF 8-0
13. Syracuse 7-2...up 6
14. North Carolina State 6-2...up 7
17. Boston College 7-2...up 5
Yes, as everyone knows, it’s all about Alabama-Georgia in the SEC title game down the road, and Michigan-Ohio State. If Georgia and Michigan win those, then we have some controversy ...like a lot of it.
But this is assuming none of the six stumble beforehand and one of them inevitably will. Notre Dame suddenly has a toughie in two weeks against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium.
And this Saturday night, in the only game that I personally won’t miss, 2 Clemson travels to 17 Boston College. The Eagles have their usual solid ‘D’. But can they muster any offense? Clemson is favored by a whopping 20. [The weather Sat. night is slated to be chilly, but no precip.]
Alabama hosts 16 Mississippi State and this will be another rout. Oklahoma potentially has a tough one against rival Oklahoma State, but it’s at Norman and this is not a good Cowboys team.
Iowa hosting Northwestern is interesting only in terms of the Big Ten West race. More on this next chat.
Notre Dame will destroy Florida State and Michigan will annihilate Rutgers. These two could be ugly...parents, don’t let your children watch. Give them an arts and crafts project instead.
--I mentioned last time how poorly LSU’s Ed Orgeron coached at the end of the first half at a critical moment that cost his team seven points, and what should have been a 9-0 deficit to Alabama ended up being 16-0, a big turning point.
So on Monday, Orgeron threw his team under the bus.
As noted by Dan Wolken of USA TODAY Sports:
“Every coach in every sport who has ever lost a game could, if they wanted to, explain their failure by saying they need to get better players. Most of the time, it happens to be true.
“But there’s a reason you almost never hear coaches go there, at least publicly, and particularly after a disheartening loss.
“Coaching is largely about psychology and demanding things of your players that you believe will help them get better. That requires them to buy in to not only the philosophy of the program but also have faith that if they do what the coach says, they will improve their skills and ultimately experience better results. Sending the message they’re not good enough, or that they’re not as good as the theoretical people you want to replace them with, doesn’t do much to activate that belief. In fact, it might discourage it.”
So here’s some of what Orgeron said after the 29-0 pasting.
“I told the guys the table was set, the fans were great, the energy all day,” Orgeron said. “There was want-to...but hey we got beat at the line of scrimmage. I gotta recruit better defensive linemen. Gotta recruit better offensive linemen. Same old thing. Gotta beat Alabama at the line of scrimmage.”
“When you max protect you’re doing everything you can in protection and they’re beating you you have to look at personnel,” Orgeron said.
“It’s fair to wonder how that’s going to play in an LSU locker room full of former four- and five-star recruits, many of whom will wind up in the NFL. Even though they know they got beat, you can bet they believe they’re good enough.”
--Sunday night, after I had gone to post, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers hooked up for just the second time in their careers, Rodgers winning the only other one at Lambeau Field in 2014, and Brady evened the record at 1-1 with a 31-17 win at Foxborough...the Pats winning their sixth in a row to move to 7-2, the Packers struggling at 3-4-1, but still very much in it.
Statistically, Brady outplayed Rodgers, going 22/35, 294, 1-0, 99.0 to Rodgers’ 24/43, 259, 2-0, 89.2. And Brady was playing without Rob Gronkowski.
But afterwards, everyone was revisiting a different comparison...that of Brady vs. Peyton Manning.
Brady made his 260th regular season start and is now a stupendous 203-57-0, in the category that matters most in the end, Won-Loss record. Manning was 186-79-0 in 265 starts.
Brady has a regular season TD / INT split of 505 / 167. In the playoffs, he is an otherworldly 27-10, with a TD / INT split of 71 / 31.
Manning has a regular season split of 539 / 251, and 40 / 25 in his 27 playoff games in which he has fashioned just a 14-13 record.
So if you want to trash Peyton, while sitting in a bar in New England, that’s really all you need.
If you’re in a bar in Indy or Denver and you’re looking to call Peyton the all-time best, point to his commercials.
--Following is the Dallas Cowboys’ record under coach Jason Garrett, who after a 28-14 loss Monday night to Tennessee, was assured by owner Jerry Jones he had job security for at least one more week. But after that?
2010...5-3 (after taking over for Wade Phillips)
2014...12-4 ...won WC playoff game, lost Div. contest
2016...13-3 ...lost Div. playoff
Overall, 70-58; 1-2 in the playoffs.
This isn’t what you expect for all those seasons in Dallas. And it doesn’t help that quarterback Dak Prescott, after a superb rookie season in 2016, 23 TDs, just 4 INTs, and a super 104.9 passer rating (3rd in the NFL), has a rating of about 88.0, 32 touchdowns and 18 INTs, plus, when you factor in lost fumbles, 10 games the last two seasons with multiple TOs, tied for the worst mark in the league during that time.
--Former Jets linebacker Bart Scott went off on the team’s performance after Sunday’s disheartening 13-6 loss to the Dolphins in Miami that put a fork in their season at 3-6.
On a day when the offense scored six points, and the defense gave up six (the other seven on a pick-six thrown by QB Sam Darnold), coach Todd Bowles said of the defense that they “still have to get turnovers.”
Scott replied in a post-game show rant: “This is bull crap, right? We gotta get turnovers? Really?” noting the Dolphins went 3-for-16 on third down. “When you get the three-and-out, that’s a turnover! That’s getting the ball back to the offense!
“What are you talking about? Four sacks, holding [Brock] Osweiler to 15-of-24 for 139 yards. What the hell are you talking about? That’s the type of statement that pisses me off in the locker room as a defensive player and we gotta have a conversation. Because you start pointing fingers at us that we ain’t doing good enough – you didn’t do good enough! You didn’t prepare us good enough. You didn’t represent us good enough. You didn’t make adjustments. We have questions and you didn’t give us any answers. How about that one?....
“Defense? Man, get the hell out of here. Let’s take his drawing board,” Scott yelled on SNY.
99% of Jets fans agree with Scott. Just get rid of Todd Bowles.
--Us locals are fired up (and now nervous) over a move the Los Angeles Chargers made the other day, releasing kicker Caleb Sturgis on Monday, and handing the job to Summit High School’s Michael Badgley.
Sturgis missed two extra points and a 42-yard field goal in a 25-17 win over the Seahawks on Sunday, pushing all three kicks wide left. He had already missed six extra points this season, and he had missed two games due to injury. For a probable playoff team, that doesn’t cut it.
Enter Badgley, who was given an opportunity in the two games during Sturgis’ absence and made the most of it...3-for-3 on field goals, 7-for-7 on extra points. [This after Badgley had a perfect preseason with Indianapolis, which unfortunately for him already had Adam Vinatieri.]
Badgley had been waived this week when Sturgis returned to the lineup, but was placed on the practice squad once he cleared waivers, which is surprising, in hindsight. Why wouldn’t another team sign the kid and put them on their practice squad? Just sayin’.
So now I’m going to be nervous as hell just watching the scores online, praying he doesn’t miss a critical kick. As fellow Summit High alum Ken P. remarked the other day after the Badgley news, kicking in the NFL is the loneliest gig in professional sports.
And Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said the team might try out or add another kicker this week, but barring another move, Badgley will be the kicker Sunday at Oakland.
“I’d like to give him the keys to the car and let him go drive,” Lynn said. “But we’ve talked about bringing in another kicker to maybe kick off, maybe help in that area.”
It’s true, Badgley doesn’t have the leg for booming kickoffs, but then you lose depth at another position with a kickoff specialist.
I loved a blurb in the Los Angeles Times, though. Defensive end Isaac Rochell praised Badgley, claiming the rookie even possesses a “savage mentality” that is rare at the position.
“It’s kind of self-explanatory when you have a kicker like Badge who hasn’t missed since he’s been in the NFL,” Rochell said. “We definitely have confidence in him. At the end of the day, we just want to see it go through the uprights.”
“Badge’s” attitude stems from the fact he is a complete football player, as I’ve told you for years. I mean he was a true All-State player at safety, halfback, and returning kicks. I’m still shocked Miami didn’t employ him on trick plays in his four years at the school. He’s a hidden weapon I can virtually guarantee not one coach in the NFL knows about.
--The Playoffs are taking shape.
New England 7-2
Kansas City 8-1
Los Angeles Chargers 6-2
Philadelphia 4-4...they are back in the driver’s seat...
New Orleans 7-1
Los Angeles Rams 8-1
But Atlanta (4-4), Seattle (4-4) and Green Bay (3-4-1) are all still very much in it.
Huge game Thursday night...Carolina at Pittsburgh.
Bigger game next Monday night...the Giants (1-7) at San Francisco (2-7)! I have never seen the New York area so energized as they are for this one.
--Buffalo has scored 96 points in nine games. Kansas City has 327 in nine.
--Yankees made a good move in bringing back CC Sabathia for one year, $8 million, a $2 million pay cut. No doubt he could have received more money from another team.
So the Yanks have Sabathia, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka in the rotation, and all manner of possibilities for the other slots, including free agent Patrick Corbin. [And/or sign J.A. Happ.]
--The Astros lost a key starter / reliever for 2019, Lance McCullers (10-6, 3.18 in 2018) to Tommy John surgery, which he underwent Tuesday. He had been suffering from elbow discomfort and was disabled Aug. 5 to Sept. 24, but came back to post a 1.80 postseason ERA in five appearances.
--There was a story in the Washington Post that the Nationals made Bryce Harper “an aggressive offer” in September, and it’s still possible that Washington could yet re-sign him, but most believe Philadelphia and San Francisco are at the top of the list. Harper has said he is seeking a long-term deal at least the size of Giancarlo Stanton’s 10-year, $325 million contract. We know that’s nuts. But who will bite?
--The Gold Glove winners were announced Sunday night, after I posted, and among the winners in the AL were shortstop Andrelton Simmons of the Angels, and Red Sox outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts.
In the N.L., the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina is back with the hardware at catcher after a year absence in the category, the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado picked up his sixth straight at third, the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Braves’ Freddie Freeman are sharing a glove at first, and a very deserving Ender Inciarte picked it up for his center-field play with the Braves.
--The Hall of Fame released the ballot for the Today’s Game Era selection, which will occur on Dec.9 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The Today’s Game Era is one of our four Eras Committees, which provide an avenue for Hall of Fame consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons.
But I don’t believe any of the following deserve to get the nod (you need 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member committee):
Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella, Lee Smith and George Steinbrenner.
I’m ticked Dave Kingman wasn’t on the list.
Paid for by “Kong for the Hall Fan Club.” [He was a great baserunner too, you know.]
--The season is underway. I forgot last time...I’ll go with the Nevada Wolf Pack to take it all, just to have fun.
Last night we had the Champions Classic, No. 1 Kansas defeating No. 10 Michigan State 92-87, MSU now 4-21 all-time against No. 1 teams.
But all eyes were on No. 4 Duke as it took on No. 2 Kentucky and, wow, what a start for Duke freshmen RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, 33 and 28 points, respectively, Williamson with his 28 on 11-of-13 from the field in just 23 minutes. Duke’s other freshmen, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones, added 22 and six points, giving the four frosh 89 points.
It was the most lopsided defeat in coach John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky and marked the eighth time in 10 meetings the Blue Devils defeated the Wildcats.
Otherwise last night, with many in the Top 25 on display, there were no upsets. No. 7 Nevada, aside from Duke and Kansas, had perhaps the most impressive victory in defeating BYU, a solid opening opponent, 86-70.
We had a game Monday between cellar-dwellers Huddersfield and Fulham, and Huddersfield pulled it out 1-0. Befitting a contest between two hopelessly awful clubs, the lone score was an own goal. It had been 659 minutes since Huddersfield had scored at home...going back to April.
So after 11 of 38...this is the relegation battle... W-D-L ...pts
16. Southampton 1-4-6...7
17. Newcastle 1-3-7...6
18. Huddersfield 1-3-7...6
19. Cardiff 1-2-8...5
20. Fulham 1-2-8...5 ...ownership spent big bucks on players after they got promoted this year; isn’t exactly paying off yet.
--In a surprising move, I guess, the Chicago Blackhawks fired coach Joel Quenneville Tuesday and named Jeremy Colliton to replace him. The Blackhawks also fired assistant coaches Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson.
Owner Rocky Wirtzsaid said in a statement: “As Chicago Blackhawks fans have seen over the last decade, this organization no longer shies away from making tough decisions or ones based on emotion... During his tenure as head coach to the Chicago Blackhawks, Joel brought the city of Chicago and our fans three Stanley Cups and an incredible era of hockey....
“But as we look to a future history not yet defined, we believe the change we made today, will provide the Chicago Blackhawks a critical element in achieving our goals of Championships in the future, including this season.”
Quenneville was the second-winningest head coach in Blackhawks history, with a record of 452-249-96 in 797 games since 2008. He had a 76-52 record in the playoffs, including three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013 and 2015). He was the longest tenured coach in the NHL.
Colliton, 33, is now the youngest head coach in the NHL. He has been coaching in the American Hockey League. He’s a former player in the NHL and AHL.
--SHARK! From the BBC:
“An Australian man has died after being attacked by a shark at a popular tourist spot in Queensland.
“The location – Cid Harbour in the Whitsunday Islands – was also the scene of two non-fatal shark attacks in September.
“Police said the latest victim, 33, had been swimming with friends when the attack happened on Monday.
“He was pulled from the water with leg and arm injuries and later died in hospital, authorities said.
“ ‘He had suffered very serious bites, significant blood loss as well as cardiac arrest,’ said Ben McCauley from Central Queensland Rescue.
“In September, a 12-year-old girl and a 46-year-old woman were mauled in separate attacks at Cid Harbour within a 24-hour period. The girl later had a leg amputated.
“Excluding Monday’s incident, unprovoked shark attacks have killed one person and injured 16 others in Australia this year, according to the Australian Shark Attack File.”
I’m guessing the actual total is higher...like 56,700. Remember, the International Tourism Cartel, ITC, doesn’t want word getting out on the truth, otherwise no one would ever venture near the water again and local economies would collapse.
--We note the passing of Mari (sic) Hulman George, 83. Ms. Hulman George was instrumental in the expansion of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and for millions of race fans was known as the one who commanded, “Gentlemen, start your engines” for the Indy 500 and other races.
Ms. Hulman George was the speedway’s chairwoman from 1988 through 2016. Her father, Anton Hulman Jr., who was known as Tony, purchased the speedway in 1945 and saved it from demolition after World War II.
I forgot that Ms. Hulman George joined with a longtime friend, Roger Wolcott, to form a racing team that included Eddie Sachs, Tony Bettenhausen, Roger McCluskey and Elmer George, whom she married in 1957.
Sachs was killed in a crash at the Indy 500 in 1964.* Bettenhausen was killed at Indy in 1961 during a car test.
*For a fascinating little video, YouTube ‘Eddie Sachs crash at Indy’ and watch the one with about 130K views, 1:56 in length. First, you are struck by the total lack of safety equipment back then (I long knew this, but it’s a good reminder), these guys in open rocket ships, and a terrific instant eulogy that aired. Dave MacDonald also died in the crash.
--I was pleased to see the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the box-office duel last weekend, with an estimated $50 million opening in the U.S. and Canada, plus another $72.5 million overseas, the picture costing about $52 million to produce.
This has been one troubled production, with a director change and a lot of other stuff...a stop, start, stop, start process for years. It’s one I hope to see, though I haven’t seen a flick in a theater since “Mutiny on the Bounty,” the 1962 version.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/9/68: #1 “Hey Jude” (The Beatles) #2 “Those Were The Days” (Mary Hopkins) #3 “Love Child” (Diana Ross and The Supremes)...and...#4 “Little Green Apples” (O.C. Smith...great tune...) #5 “Hold Me Tight” (Johnny Nash) #6 “White Room” (Cream) #7 “Magic Carpet Ride” (Steppenwolf) #8 “Elenore” (The Turtles) #9 “Fire” (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) #10 “Midnight Confessions” (The Grass Roots....outstanding week...New York Jets were 7-2, on the way to the Super Bowl, but the following week was the “Heidi Game”...which you have to be of a certain age, read old, to remember...)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Aside from Willie McCovey, the others from Mobile, Alabama to make it into the Hall of Fame are Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Ozzie Smith and Billy Williams.
Now this information is from the Hall of Fame itself, but it’s slightly deceptive, in that some of the players weren’t exactly born in Mobile; Billy Williams in Whistler, Ala., for example. But all grew up playing ball in Mobile.
Ditto Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee, who longtime Mets fans know were from Mobile, but Agee was born in Magnolia and Jones in Plateau. They went to high school together at Mobile’s County High.
Agee is buried in Mobile.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.