|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
No Change in CFB
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
College Basketball Quiz: I saw a listing on CBSSports.com the other day of Division I hoops programs in each state, so this will keep you occupied for a while. Name the 22 programs in the state of New York. Answer below.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to new AP Poll...next CFP rankings Tuesday...]
Well, seeing as there weren’t any upsets in the top ten, nothing is going to change in the next CFP ranking. But I would respectfully suggest we are now down to just six teams with a real possibility of getting into the final four. And it’s not the six you might think. Read on....
No. 1 Alabama whipped 16 Mississippi State 24-0, ‘Bama’s defense holding the Bulldogs to just 169 yards of offense, while Tua Tagovailoa was a very pedestrian 14/21, 164, 1-1 (his second interception of the season) before once again exiting with an injury, though, once again, we were told he could have played if necessary. If you’re an Alabama fan, your only worry is that prior to the national championship game, Tua aggravates something in practice. [Yes, I’ve already advanced them all the way. You should too.]
No. 2 Clemson had a potentially stern test up in Chestnut Hill, Mass., facing 17 Boston College, but the Tigers cruised, 27-7, the Eagles’ lone TD coming on a punt return in the first quarter, B.C. accumulating just 113 yards of total offense. Eegads! AJ Dillon was held to only 39 yards on 16 carries, while Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence had no problem with the cold, 29/40, 295, 1-1.
Chuck Culpepper / Washington Post
“No. 2 Clemson, having sprouted into a durable college football giant, behaved as such in the 38-degree test here Saturday night. It refused to let inconveniences mount into crises, manned its way through a 27-7 win in a ballyhooed bout with No. 17 Boston College, reached 10-0 this season, reached 50-4 over the past four and reached 82-11 over the past seven (emphasis mine).
“Further, it looked as if, barring something freaky or even creepy, it will appear in a fourth consecutive College Football Playoff, where it pretty much keeps a home with a mailbox, a picket fence and maybe even some house pets.”
Clemson has Duke at home, South Carolina at home, and then the ACC title game, which will be against an inferior opponent, currently Pitt.
That seven-year record is staggering, though Alabama is 99-9 the past eight!
No. 3 Notre Dame had to go back to quarterback Brandon Wimbush in its game against Florida State, Ian Book out with a rib injury (though he’ll be ready for the biggie against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium next week). Wimbush did OK, throwing for three touchdowns, though he was picked off twice. Dexter Williams was the real star, rushing for 202 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns, the Fighting Irish running away from the Seminoles, 42-13.
No. 4 Michigan had its way with pathetic Rutgers, now 1-9, 42-7, Shea Patterson throwing for three touchdowns.
After the game, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was asked a question about his team’s fan base taking over Rutgers’ HighPoint.com Stadium, but used the opportunity to heap praise on the program he just defeated for a fourth straight time.
“That’s a team that’s very close to breaking through and winning multiple games, consecutive games,” Harbaugh said. “Rob does a really good job with them. They’ve got a good plan offensively and a good plan defensively.”
As Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger pointed out, though, “Nice sentiment. Just one minor problem. Who the heck is Rob?”
“It would appear that Harbaugh was referring to Rutgers head coach Chris Ash but just messed up the name. Hey, the guy is trying to win a national championship. He can’t have all the details straight.”
No. 5 Georgia had no problem with 24 Auburn, 27-10, as its becoming the D’Andre Swift show, the running back with his third straight 100-yard effort in three big games, this time 186 on just 17 carries with a TD.
Then there was No. 6 Oklahoma hosting intrastate rival Oklahoma State, the Sooners pulling it out, 48-47, as the Cowboys missed on a two-point conversion attempt with a minute to play (a totally warranted decision). OSU was in this position because it had missed an extra point on its prior score.
I watched a huge chunk of this one, including the second half, which actually was at a more normal pace than the helter-skelter 34-28 first half, led by OU.
Here’s my issue. No way should the Sooners be considered for the CFP. Their defense is beyond atrocious. I never saw more missed tackles in a college football game than this one. What an embarrassment.
OU ended up outgaining OSU 702-640, as Sooner QB Kyler Murray threw for 349 yards and rushed for another 66. But the Cowboys’ Taylor Cornelius threw for 501 and three touchdowns in a career performance for him.
Now I guess some will have Oklahoma still in the conversation, and I doubt their ranking changes, but you also have the issue of OU squaring off against 9 West Virginia down the road, and then the two probably facing each other in the conference title game a week later! It’s absurd.
Speaking of 9 West Virginia, they whipped TCU 47-10 behind Will Grier’s 343 yards and three touchdowns.
But back to the CFP, yeah, I guess if West Virginia were to beat Oklahoma twice, maybe they should be in the conversation, but if I were to stretch it to six for consideration, aside from the current top five it’s 8 Washington State, 31-7 winners at Colorado, the Buffaloes now 5-5 after a 5-0 start.
The Cougars have games against Arizona and 25 Washington remaining, then the Pac-12 conference title game probably against Utah. If they run the table, and two of the others stumble, then, maybe....
If you’re asking at this point what happened to No. 7? That would be LSU, yawn, 24-17 winners at 2-8 Arkansas. Spare me any talk of them being a topic for the CFP.
Meanwhile, No. 10 Ohio State beat 18 Michigan State 26-6 in East Lansing, the Spartans literally giving away 12 points in the span of about three minutes, without the Buckeyes picking up a first down, due to various miscues and turnovers; what was a tight 7-6 contest suddenly 19-6 and that was all she wrote.
In other contests....
No. 12 UCF may still be undefeated, and headed to a Group of Five, Big Six New Year’s bowl bid, but they have been unimpressive on the whole, this week beating a lousy Navy team just 35-24.
20 Penn State beat Wisconsin, 22-10, despite Jonathan Taylor’s 185 yards rushing for the Badgers; Taylor the nation’s leading back in yards gained this season.
And then you have 21 Iowa falling at home to Northwestern 14-10, which means the 6-4 Wildcats, 6-1, however, in the Big Ten West, are embarrassingly headed towards the Big Ten title game against the winner of Ohio State-Michigan in a few weeks. This does Michigan’s CFP hopes no good, assuming the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes.
Friday night, 13 Syracuse blasted hapless Louisville, 54-23, in the Carrier Dome, Moe Neal with 159 yards rushing on just eight carries and two touchdowns. Louisville has now given up 56, 77, and 54 points its last three contests as coach Bobby Petrino has no doubt begun packing his bags.* Befitting the state of this godawful program, the Cardinals committed 17 penalties for 125 yards, plus they had four turnovers.
*And after I wrote the above, Petrino was fired. He won’t be coaching the final two games. It was the right move for the school to make...now.
Thursday, my Wake Forest Demon Deacons evened their record at 5-5 with one of the better wins in recent school history, a 27-23 victory in Raleigh against 14 North Carolina State.
Wake was starting a new QB, Jamie Newman, and this strapping sophomore clearly got better as the game went along, gaining confidence and throwing for 297 yards and three touchdowns, zero turnovers, a Newman 32-yard TD pass with 30 seconds to go the decider. Go Deacs!
Duke is 7-3 after a 42-35 win over 1-8 North Carolina.
And Pitt is 6-4 after blasting Virginia Tech (4-5) 52-22. Remember when the Hokies were known for their stout defense? Check this out. Pitt running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall combined for 421 yards rushing on just 23 carries, with four touchdowns. Ollison had 235 (16 carries), Hall 186 (7 carries). Good lord! Wake Forest hosts Pitt next week in Winston-Salem in what could be an entertaining contest. It’s already an important one for Pitt for its conference title game hopes down the road.
In Division I-AA/FCS play, Colgate remained undefeated at 9-0 with a 48-6 thrashing of Lehigh (2-8). Pete M.’s Raiders defense has now given up just 12 points, total, the last eight games, and just 29 on the season.
Shu’s Elon suffered a big loss to solid Towson, 41-10.
Princeton remained undefeated at 9-0 with a 59-43 win over Yale.
Army is 8-2, stepping down to play Lafayette (3-7) 31-13.
And one more...Johnny Mac alerting me...Davidson rushed for 789 yards Saturday at San Diego – the most ever by an FCS or FBS team in a single game – but the Wildcats lost 56-52, San Diego (8-2) clinching the Pioneer Football League championship.
Davidson (5-5) had four players rush for at least 150 yards; only the second time in FCS history a team had four 100-yard rushers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. For his part, San Diego QB Anthony Lawrence threw for 556 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns.
Recall, I wrote of a game earlier this season where Davidson defeated Guilford 91-61 (Guilford being Division III). The Wildcats rushed for 685 yards in that one, 964 total yards. They say the students at Guilford have yet to recover.
And now the new AP Poll....
[First six exact same as last CFP]
1. Alabama 10-0 (61)
2. Clemson 10-0
3. Notre Dame 10-0
4. Michigan 9-1
5. Georgia 9-1
6. Oklahoma 9-1
7. West Virginia 8-1
8. Washington State 9-1
9. Ohio State 9-1
10. LSU 8-2
11. UCF 9-0
12. Syracuse 8-2...very early forecast for next Sat. and Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium, 40ish, no precip, could be windy...looking forward to it...
22. Boston College 7-3...not the dream season I thought it might be...
24. Northwestern 6-4...whatever....
CFP Rankings Tuesday night at 7:00 on ESPN.
--It is hoped that Jets coach Todd Bowles is fired Monday morning, the Jets with a bye week coming up, following their 41-10 loss, at home, to the Buffalo Bills, both teams now 3-7.
I mean for crying out loud, the Jets made Bills starting QB Matt Barkley, who hasn’t looked good since his sophomore year at USC (or something like that) look like an All-Pro in his first start as Buffalo’s quarterback, 15/25, 232, 2-0, 117.4.
The Bills outgained the Jets 451-199, Josh McCown at the helm for New York in place of the injured Sam Darnold, and the team showed zero effort throughout. Like try Buffalo’s first possession...two plays, 75 yards for a TD.
Why did I pick the Mets and Jets when I was young? I could have picked the Red Sox and Patriots, like high school friend Pete M. did. But noooo....
--The Titans shocked the Patriots 34-10 in Nashville, Tennessee 5-4, New England falling to 7-3, as Tom Brady kind of showed his age, 21/41, 254, 0-0, 70.6, though once again Rob Gronkowski wasn’t available. Marcus Mariota led the Titans, 16/24, 228, 2-0, 125.0.
--New Orleans is 8-1 after a 51-14 spanking of Cincinnati, 5-4. Drew Brees was a rather tidy 22/25, 265, 3-0, 150.4, while the Saints picked up 244 yards on the ground, Mark Ingram with 104 on 13 carries. “Bad Andy” Dalton showed up...12/20, 153, 1-2, 61.0.
--You’ve gotta love Andrew Luck. He’s a good guy, by all accounts, he’s had serious injury issues, but he’s come back strong and suddenly the Colts have improved to 4-5, with a future, after a 29-26 win over the hard-to-figure-out Jaguars, now 3-6, five losses in a row. [Yes, your “Pick to Click” Jags are finis... cooked...sorry, Steve G. Hey, you still in Colombia?]
Luck was 21/29, 285, 3-1, 123.5 Good for Indy.
--Baker Mayfield had his best game as a pro, 17/20, 216, 3-0, 151.3, leading the Brownies to a 28-16 win at home against Atlanta (4-5), Cleveland now 3-6-1, a good first win for interim coach Gregg Williams. Nick Chubb had a 92-yard TD run on the way to a 20-176-1 day for him.
--The Chicago Bears are now 6-3, 34-22 winners at home over Detroit (3-6) as Mitch Trubisky was 23/30, 355, 3-0, 148.6. Pretty, pretty good.
But I do have to add that aside from receiver Allen Robinson catching six of Trubisky’s passes for 133 yards and two TDs, my man from last year, rookie Anthony Miller out of Memphis, was 5-122-1. I still can’t believe the guy was just a second round pick, 51st, and not in the first 20 or so.
--One of the worst 6-3 teams in memory, the Washington Redskins, beat the 3-6 Bucs, 16-3.
Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for, get this, 406 yards, and generated 3 points. You can’t make this stuff up.
--San Diego won its sixth in a row at Oakland, 20-6, as the playoff bound Chargers are now 7-2, Jon Gruden’s fake Raiders 1-8. [But they have five first-round draft picks the next two years...and at the end of the day, that’s all they seem to care about.]
Your editor, however, only cared about this game for one reason. How would Summit High School’s Michael Badgley do, now that he has seemingly been given the kicking duties for San Diego, and he was perfect, 2-of-2 field goals, 2-of-2 extra points, and is now 5/5, 9/9, respectively. If you include his preseason with Indianapolis, dude still hasn’t missed.
I am so nervous watching the kid. But it’s also true that as San Diego has said, he doesn’t get his kickoffs into the end zone, but that wouldn’t matter if he can get it to the 5, or so, with hang time. [And it didn’t matter today.]
--The Rams are now 9-1 after a hard-fought 36-31 win over Seattle, 4-5.
--And Kansas City is also 9-1 after a 26-14 win over Arizona (2-7), Patrick Mahomes with two more TD passes. [More on him next time.]
--Thursday, the red-hot Steelers moved to 6-2-1 with a 52-21 blitzing of Carolina (6-3), Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 328 yards and five touchdowns.
But running back James Conner was hurt and is in concussion protocol, though with the game on Thursday and the next contest not until Sunday the 18th, who knows.
One thing does seem clear, Le’Veon Bell is not returning. At least that is the word today.
--I couldn’t care less about Dez Bryant, but part of you has to feel a little bit sorry for him after he had just signed a contract with New Orleans, a huge comeback opportunity, and then he tears his Achilles in just his second practice.
The Cowboys had released the former All-Pro in April, but then the Saints, facing an injury issue at wide receiver, gave him a shot.
--And tomorrow night....in a ‘must-see’ game, the 1-7 Giants take on the 2-7 49ers in San Francisco. Will this be Eli Manning’s last game at the helm?
--The Minnesota Timberwolves’ long national nightmare is over...or at least local nightmare, as they traded disgruntled All-Star guard, Jimmy Butler, in a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, Philly sending Dario Saric and Robert Covington, two starters from last season’s 52-win team, along with a future second-round draft pick and veteran guard Jerryd Bayless. Minnesota included 2017 first-round draft choice, Justin Patton.
Covington and Saric are both highly-serviceable players averaging 11 points per game, plus 5 and 6 rebounds, respectively, while Butler was at 21 points per game this season for the tension-wracked, 4-9, T’Wolves, who needed to rid themselves of this cancer, or risk losing Butler to free agency without compensation.
Philly, though, is expected to sign the free-agent Butler at the end of the season, and the trade gives them the star trio we’ve been conditioned to believe is necessary to win an NBA title...Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
The trade is officially announced on Monday.
But as was pointed out in the New York papers, the trade of Butler means the Knicks’ own free-agent possibilities for next summer are dwindling, with Butler assumed to be signing up with the Sixers for the long term, and Kyrie Irving having announced his plans to re-up with the Celtics. At one time, the Knicks harbored hopes of signing both. But now if they want to go this route, they’ll have to focus on Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.
--Speaking of Leonard, he seems very happy in Toronto thus far, the Raptors 12-1. I watched a lot of Saturday’s Knicks-Raptors game, which the Raptors won 128-112, the Knicks dropping to 4-9.
Boy, Toronto is impressive, and they made a great move in shaking things up, acquiring Leonard and Danny Green from the Spurs, the two bringing their championship pedigree to a franchise that has won 48+ the last five seasons, but then fallen woefully short in the playoffs. Despite his regular season success, Dwane Casey was released as coach, replaced by Nick Nurse, and clearly there is a new vibe. The Raptors are deep, talented, and fun to watch.
Seeing as my Knicks aren’t going anywhere (Good! We want Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett!), I hope the Raptors take the East and reward their terrific fans....sorry, my Celtics and Sixers fan friends.
--I couldn’t help but comment, though, that during the Knicks game, broadcaster Clyde Frazier noted that center Mitchell Robinson is ambidextrous, which had me recalling (with Johnny Mac’s help) a comment the late Charles Shackleford once made after a N.C. State game. “I can shoot with my left hand, I can shoot with my right hand, I’m amphibious.”
No titanic upsets as yet, though I do have to note Buffalo’s 99-94 overtime win over 13 West Virginia on Friday, Bulls guard C.J. Massinburg having quite a night. The 6-3 senior had 43 points (including 9 of 15 from three), but also 14 rebounds! As Ronald Reagan would have said, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
Wake Forest won its first!...might be one of only about ten on the season...90-78 over North Carolina A&T, which I only mention because our supposedly legitimate freshman star, Jaylen Hoard, had 19 points and 13 rebounds. A double-double in your first college game, regardless of the competition, is A-OK in my book...yet to be written.
--Talk about hitting the lottery, that was long-time Twins catcher Joe Mauer when back in 2010, he signed an eight-year, $184 million contract, a year after his career season, 2009, when he slammed 28 home runs, drove in 96, won his third batting title with a .365 average, and was AL MVP.
The next season, 2010, the Twins moved into their new park, Target Stadium, after 28 years at the Metrodome, and Mauer’s power dropped off precipitously....just nine home runs, though he had 43 doubles and hit .327. That’s when the Twins rewarded him with the giant deal.
Mauer had some solid seasons the next eight years, but nothing remotely approaching 2009.
That said, he’s a local boy who made good, having grown up less than 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis, but with the contract expiring with this year’s World Series, he is bidding the game adieu.
Mauer ends his career as an all-time Twins great, with a .306 career batting average, plus the three batting titles and the MVP, but zero postseason success.
He’ll pick up some votes for the Hall of Fame and I could see a day, 25 or so years from now, that perhaps a veterans committee puts him in. I’ll be dead then. Someone tell me what happened later.
--Bill James, the groundbreaking researcher of more than 40 years, is known for challenging conventional wisdom. But the other day he got in major hot water for a Twitter post.
“If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them, the game would go on; in three years it would make no difference whatsoever. The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are.”
James has been an adviser to the Red Sox through their run of four championships in this century and his influence on the modern game has been profound, but the Red Sox immediately said:
“Bill James is a consultant to the Red Sox. He is not an employee, nor does he speak for the club. His comments on Twitter were inappropriate and do not reflect the opinions of the Red Sox front office or its ownership group. Our Championships would not have been possible without our incredibly talented players – they are the backbone of our franchise and our industry. To insinuate otherwise is absurd.”
Tony Clark, executive director of the players’ association, issued a blistering statement on James’ stance.
“The comments Bill James made yesterday are both reckless and insulting considering our game’s history regarding the use of replacement players. The Players ARE the game. And our fans have an opportunity to enjoy the most talented baseball Players in the world every season. If these sentiments resonate beyond this one individual, then any challenges that lie ahead will be more difficult to overcome than initially anticipated.”
But it’s true the game is changing rapidly, especially in the awarding of contracts. Few teams these days want to pay for past performance when you can get the same production from younger and far cheaper talent. As the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner points out, “Could a replacement-level starter have matched the production of, say, Baltimore’s Alex Cobb, who was 5-15 with a 4.90 earned run average after signing a four-year, $57 million contract in March? What about Lance Lynn, who signed with Minnesota in March for one year and $12 million, then was 10-10, 4.77, for the Twins and the Yankees?”
The Mets are certainly learning this hard lesson with contracts like that of Jay Bruce (three years, $39 million) and Todd Frazier (two years, $17 million).
--Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post had an interesting piece on the free agency of Bryce Harper, and how agent Scott Boras is still expecting someone to shell out $400 million for his player.
Boras “has a binder for Bryce Harper, as he does for most of his top-dollar clients. It’s divided into a handful of sections and populated with carefully curated PowerPoint slides, positioned just so....Every second of the sales pitch has to be perfect. Every moment of every meeting must exorcise any lingering doubt over Harper’s baseball immortality....
“Most of the pages of that binder don’t deal with the money. One section is dedicated to Harper’s uniqueness, to demonstrating that he is one of the most prolific young talents this game has ever seen. The only active players who had more homers by age 25 are Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. In other words, if you buy Harper, you’re buying 10 years or so of a Hall of Fame-caliber player in his prime.
“Another section of the binder is dedicated to his potential, as defined by the remarkable numbers he compiled in 2015. If you buy Harper, not only are you getting one of the most talented young players of all time, but also a guy with the ability to put up once-in-a-lifetime numbers. How many other players have compiled an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.109 for an entire season? Only in the past decade: Albert Pujols.
“But those sections exist to support a basic financial argument: Harper, according to Boras, is worth more than anyone ever has been – far more, in fact. He is unique, and precedent hardly applies to his free agent case....
“So how will Boras get teams to bite?
“First, he won’t go to those savvy GMs. He will sell to ownership. An investment this big, Boras will argue, is a franchise-wide investment – an investment in a brand, in increased merchandise sales and in notoriety. An investment this big could change the future of a franchise. He will try to convince owners, the only people who don’t have to convince the GM before making an investment like that.
“Second, he will argue that most people are looking at Harper’s free agency all wrong. Most baseball pundits have tossed out Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325 million deal as the baseline for a Harper contract. Boras would argue that those pundits are missing the point.
“Stanton signed an extension. Harper is a free agent. The Miami Marlins had years left of control of Stanton and could therefore manipulate his contract down from where it could have been. Harper has the right to maximize his value, and everyone in the market can compete to help him do so.
“So what, then, is the biggest free agent deal in recent history? Boras doesn’t measure by total value, but by average annual value. By that measure, right-hander Zack Greinke’s six-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks made him the highest-paid player in baseball history, with an average annual value of roughly $34 million over six years. So if Greinke is the precedent, Harper should get at least $340 million over 10 years.
“But Greinke isn’t the right precedent, Boras will argue. He’s a baseline. Harper plays every day. He provides more value, more star power (and regular power), draws more crowds and changes more games than Greinke. Starting pitchers generally garner big deals because of their scarcity, but would anyone argue that Harper isn’t worth a few million dollars more annually than Greinke? Say, $4 million or $5 million more?
“That argument brings Boras to an average annual value of $39 million or so – or $390 million over 10 years.”
Presto, a $400 million deal seems like a piece of cake, now, doesn’t it?
--40-year-old Matt Kuchar won his first PGA Tour event since 2014, the eighth of his career, at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
--And 61-year-old Bernhard Langer won the Schwab Cup today, his fifth Cup title, fourth in the last five years. Think about that.
Vijay Singh won the actual tournament...more on this next time.
Didn’t catch much this weekend, like virtually none of the action, but I did see Manchester City’s third goal in a 3-1 win today over Manchester United, and it’s worth looking up if you love the sport...a true thing of beauty...and teamwork.
Liverpool beat last-place Fulham 2-0; Chelsea drew with Everton 0-0, but remained undefeated; Arsenal pulled out a late 1-1 tie with Wolverhampton; my Tottenham Spurs eked out a 1-0 road win at Crystal Palace; and Leicester drew with Burnley, 0-0, as I just want to see Leicester hang on this year and not slide into the relegation conversation, after the death of the owner. No doubt the team will be in a funk the rest of the way. [Hopefully I’m wrong on this and they go on an inspired run.]
Standings after 12 of 38...W-D-L...points
1. Man City 10-2-0...32
2. Liverpool 9-3-0...30
3. Chelsea 8-4-0...28
4. Tottenham 9-0-3...27
5. Arsenal 7-3-2...24
Kyle Busch won the final qualifying race for the Cup today at Phoenix, his eighth win of the year, tying Kevin Harvick, who just sneaked into the finale next week at Homestead after an early flat tire...Busch and Harvick joined by defending champ Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano. More on this next time. Seriously, make sure you catch the end next week. It’s bound to be good.
--Separately, NASCAR is offering to acquire International Speedway Corp. in a deal that values the owner of the Daytona International Speedway at $1.85 billion and would combine the companies into a privately held group owned by NASCAR’s controlling France family.
--Horse racing is a dangerous business and we had a real tragedy at Churchill Downs Saturday morning. Just after 5:45 a.m., 42-year-old exercise rider Odanis Acuna died as a result of injuries when his mount broke down on the track.
Acuna, who worked for trainer Kenny McPeek, “was breezing unraced 2-year-old New York Harbor. Nearing completion of the workout, the colt and Acuna suddenly fell about a sixteenth of a mile before the finish line when New York Harbor endured catastrophic injuries.
“According to Churchill Downs, onsite emergency medical technicians who arrived on the scene to treat Acuna believe he died instantly.”
McPeek, who employed Acuna for nearly a decade, said, “Odanis was one of the hardest working guys you’d ever meet; he was working the American dream. He galloped for me in the morning and worked for the feed company in the afternoon.” [Horse Racing Nation]
Acuna was nicknamed “Cuba” – a nod to his native homeland.
--Sports talk radio fans in the New York area have been getting a kick out of the internal fight at WFAN, as Mike Francesa wars against other hosts on the station, including Gregg Giannotti, Boomer Esiason’s sidekick on the morning show.
Now I’ve told you in the past Giannotti is incredibly funny, and he is the only guy who can have me laughing out loud in the car, especially with his dead-on impersonation of Francesa, which “The Pope” can’t stand.
Francesa complained, “It is just a one-way street. If I ever open my mouth, then it is a big story. So, I understand that. Listen, make it about sports. Don’t make it about me.”
But it is about you, Mike. You want it that way. And it’s about you because you so often get things wrong.
Separately, former co-host Craig Carton, who teamed with Boomer for years, was convicted of fraud in federal court, jurors deliberating for just five hours.
Carton was accused of swindling investors in a ticket reselling business. Prosecutors said he took their money and spent it on personal expenses, including gambling.
Sentencing is set for February 27. This is a great day for some of us. Since day one, I have never understood the fascination with this dirtball, who wasn’t the least bit likeable but had a certain fan base.
--President Trump is awarding the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to a number of folks next Friday, among whom are Babe Ruth, Roger Staubach and defensive tackle Alan Page, all Hall of Famers in their respective sports.
And Elvis Presley is receiving one! Given this is the era of conspiracy theories, will Elvis actually make an appearance? That would be rather dramatic.
--Every now and then I have to mention something that I also posted in that other column I do, and I just found it kind of fascinating that, as Brad K. first passed along, Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair sold at auction for $393,000, with his doctoral thesis fetching $767,000, as reported by Christie’s last week.
The thesis, by the way, from his time at Cambridge, 1965, is titled “Properties of Expanding Universes.” I imagine I’d be lost after the first sentence. “It was a dark and stormy night in the universe...”
Actually, the proceeds from the auction, which are going to the Stephen Hawking Foundation and the Motor Neurone (sic) Disease Association, include about $10,000 for a script from “The Simpsons,” when Hawking was a guest star.
--Geezuz...did you see the record python a man caught in Miami-Dade County the other day? 17 feet, 5 inches...almost the height of a two-story building.
Kyle Penniston of Homestead, Florida, nabbed it, his hands swollen from the female snake’s bites as he wrestled her.
“She started wrapping me while I tried getting her up to the levee,” according to Penniston’s Facebook post. He lost his grip then reached out for his pistol that jammed.
“I kept fighting till we were both dead of energy,” he said.
Penniston is a professional python hunter who is part of the water management district’s program to curtail the invasive species in four counties. Hunters receive bonuses depending on the size of the snakes.
Topo 3 songs for the week 11/15/69: #1 “Wedding Bell Blues” (The 5th Dimension) #2 “Come Together” (The Beatles) #3 “Something” (The Beatles)...and...#4 “And When I Die” (Blood, Sweat & Tears) #5 “Baby It’s You” (Smith) #6 “I Can’t Get Next To You” (The Temptations) #7 Suspicious Minds” (Elvis Presley...had been #1 two weeks earlier) #8 “Smile A Little Smile For Me” (The Flying Machine) #9 “Sugar, Sugar” (The Archies) #10 “Take A Letter Maria” (R.B. Greaves...not a super week...)
College Basketball Quiz Answer: The 22 Division I hoops programs in the state of New York.
Syracuse, St. John’s, Buffalo, Hofstra, Canisius, Iona, St. Bonaventure, Colgate, LIU-Brooklyn, Stony Brook, Binghamton, Manhattan, Albany, Cornell, Wagner, Columbia, Army, Niagara, Marist, Fordham, Siena, St. Francis (N.Y.)
Next Bar Chat, Thursday.