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David Pearson, RIP
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
NASCAR Quiz: With the season wrapping up this weekend, and with the death of David Pearson, name the eight drivers with 75 career NASCAR Cup Series wins. [You’ll get the first two in my obit of Pearson below...the other six below as well.]
Yawn...no change in the Top Ten of the latest CFP Rankings:
1. Alabama 10-0
2. Clemson 10-0
3. Notre Dame 10-0
4. Michigan 9-1
5. Georgia 9-1
6. Oklahoma 9-1
7. LSU 8-2...bleh...
8. Washington State 9-1
9. West Virginia 8-1
10. Ohio State 9-1
11. UCF 9-0...up one
It’s still all about next week, not this coming one, and 4 Michigan vs. 10 Ohio State, and now, 9 West Virginia and 6 Oklahoma. And then the following week, 5 Georgia and 1Alabama in the SEC title game.
As for this weekend’s action, there are only two contests that are major games, and 12 Syracuse vs. 3 Notre Dame, at Yankee Stadium, is indeed a biggie.
24 Cincinnati at 11 UCF is big for the Knights, who obviously must win this to secure the Group of Five, Big Six New Year’s bowl bid.
West Virginia at Oklahoma State is a classic trap game, the Mountaineers needing to focus on the job at hand, and not Oklahoma the following week.
But in all seriousness, one game I’ll catch some of is Colgate, 9-0, at Army, 8-2. Just how good is Colgate’s defense? We’ll find out. [It’s on CBSSN, noon...at least here locally.]
FCS / Div. I-AA Coaches Poll
1. North Dakota State (26) 10-0
2. Kennesaw State 9-1
3. Eastern Washington 8-2
4. Weber State 8-2
5. South Dakota State 7-2
6. Colgate 9-0
7. Jacksonville State 8-2
8. James Madison 7-3
9. Princeton 9-0...wraps up season hosting Penn
10. Stony Brook 7-3
12. Elon 6-3
--Finally, my alma mater, Wake Forest, doesn’t win a lot of big games, or have a lot of monster seasons, when it comes to basketball and football (the two revenue sports that carry the others come budget time), but we do recruit some quality individuals, every now and then, to lead the two....like the late-Skip Prosser in basketball (Dave Odom is another), or Jim Caldwell and Jim Grobe in football.
But Dr. W. passed along a great piece concerning current Wake football coach Dave Clawson, who from day one has seemed to be, at least to this outsider, a quality guy who has turned around one program after another and has taken the Deacs to bowl games the last two seasons (which is about all we can expect...our 2006 dream season that ended in the Orange Bowl a major exception to the rule).
Adam Rittenberg / ESPN.com
“As Syracuse defensive back Tyrone Perkins recovers from a serious leg injury suffered in last week’s game at Wake Forest, he received a special visitor Tuesday (Nov. 6): Demon Deacons coach Dave Clawson.
“Perkins suffered the injury on punt coverage in the first quarter, and he was carted off with a large cast immobilizing his entire left leg.
“Clawson had been hoping to visit Perkins for several days but couldn’t because the Syracuse senior had been in intensive care at Wake Forest’s Baptist Medical Center.
“Syracuse on Wednesday said Perkins is out of ICU, and is still hospitalized. The university is ‘hopeful’ Perkins can be transported back to Syracuse this week once he is cleared to travel.” [Ed: I assume later last week Perkins was.]
Clawson said last Wednesday on the ACC coaches teleconference: “You go down your senior year to play a football game and you’re playing. Next thing you know, you’re in a hospital in a strange town, and your teammates and your coaches aren’t there. We had a player last year that had a similar injury, and I know how tough it is.
“I just wanted to go over and let him know that there’s people here that care about him. Even the player of ours that had that injury last year, I think, reached out to him. It’s part of football, but it’s hard to ever see a young man suffer that type of injury and then not be able to be with his teammates for a couple of days.”
Perkins sent a picture of he and Clawson to Syracuse coach Dino Babers after the visit.
“That was something that was very gracious on his end,” Babers said of Clawson. “For him to go out and visit one of my guys in the local hospital is something I’ll never forget; something that I’ll always appreciate.”
Clawson said: “(Perkins) was a very mature young man, appreciative of how he was treated and the treatment he got, and just had a great attitude. I was really impressed with him.”
Coach Clawson, you are one good guy...and this is one Deac who is proud of you.
And into the December file you go for all the right reasons.
--Le’Veon Bell will not be wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform in 2018 – and probably won’t do so again – after failing to report to the club and sign his franchise tag by Tuesday’s 4:00 p.m. deadline.
So where will Bell play in 2019? Right now, who cares?
It’s amazing that Bell could be so stupid, passing up $14.544 million by not playing this season, the earnings window for running backs a narrow one. The Steelers had also reportedly offered him about $70 million over five seasons back in July, paying him $47 million the first three years, and he turned it down.
But there will be suitors for him in free agency no doubt, and he’ll still just be 27.
Meanwhile, the Steelers are doing just fine, 6-2-1, with second-year back James Conner, but now they have to pray he stays healthy and can handle the heavy workload. [As I go to post, he’s in concussion protocol and his status for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville is uncertain.]
But the Steelers’ locker room will be better with Bell’s absence, a number of teammates having been outspoken earlier after his decision not to show up.
--The Giants’ Eli Manning turned back the clock for one week, and saved his job for at least another, as New York picked up a nice come-from-behind victory in San Francisco Monday night, 27-23, to improve to 2-7, San Fran now 2-8.
Manning led the Giants offense onto the field with 2:46 to play, Giants down 23-20, and Eli led them 75 yards for the touchdown, the last play a three-yard touchdown pass to receiver Sterling Shepard with 0:57 remaining and the win.
Manning has a history of fourth-quarter winning drives, 35 of them to be exact, but just one since the start of the 2017 season.
Eli was 19/31, 188, 3-0, 110.7. Odell Beckham Jr. caught four for 73 yards and two of the TDs, but also dropped a third.
--The Jets would appear to be retaining coach Todd Bowles for the rest of the season, for what reason I have no idea. The locker room has become poison-filled. This blows.
--The Bills put quarterback Nathan Peterman out of his misery, releasing him Monday. The second-year player out of Pitt appeared in eight games for Buffalo, starting four, and the Bills were 1-7 in the contests in which he appeared, throwing 3 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a beyond putrid 32.5 rating.
Of course Peterman will forever be known for the game he started, after Buffalo benched veteran Tyrod Taylor despite the Bills’ 5-4 record at the time; Peterman getting picked off five times in the first half of a 54-24 loss to the Chargers.
--Jarrett Bell / USA TODAY Sports
“What a mess, NFL.
“And just think: it could have been way worse.
“The quick decision by the league on Tuesday to bolt from Mexico City – scrapping the threat of a potential disaster – wasn’t really much of a choice.
“Imagine if Todd Gurley or Patrick Mahomes tore up a knee while sliding around on a sloppy field at Estadio Azteca on Monday night.
“Or if Jared Goff, Tyreek Hill and Aaron Donald simply refused to play.
“No, the no-brainer decision to move the ‘midseason Super Bowl’ between the Rams and the Chiefs to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was essentially made for the NFL, in consultation with the NFL Players Association, when transposed against the integrity of the game and safety of the players.
“There’s no wiggle room there. The NFL, with a litany of bruises to its image in recent years, couldn’t dare risk the possibility of blowing this one after it became apparent that the field conditions were atrocious.”
Supposedly the field was ripped up due to a Shakira concert on Oct. 11 – followed by a number of soccer games, and rain, and that’s all she wrote.
It was two years ago that the Hall of Fame Game had to be canceled because of a field left a mess after a concert, and a sticky surface caused by the painting for logos and markers.
“The ramifications (of this cancellation) could be significant for the NFL’s efforts on the international stage. It’s one more reason for coaches or other detractors from teams to loathe games in non-NFL stadiums. And given the plans that just went awry for fans who pegged Mexico City as a ‘destination game,’ just think of the costs that are sure to come in settling legal issues that will flow from this.”
Well, the Rams are going to do the right thing from their standpoint, providing thousands of complimentary tickets to next Monday night’s game to first responders and those affected by the recent tragedies in Thousand Oaks and surrounding communities.
Now let’s hope the latest wildfires in the L.A. area don’t present a new problem for the NFL come Monday.
--Every sports fan’s heart goes to the Brooklyn Nets’ Caris LeVert, who suffered a gruesome leg injury in the Nets’ loss to the Timberwolves in Minneapolis Monday night. The third year player out of Michigan was coming into his own, becoming the star of the surprising 6-8 Nets, having knocked down a few game-winners this year, averaging 18.4 points per game. By all indications, a super kid, tireless worker, and then this.
Brian Lewis / New York Post
“As Caris LeVert was lying in a Minneapolis hospital, his right leg having bent a way no leg should, NBA stars from Dwyane Wade to Kristaps Porzingis to Paul George were sending condolences. But the Nets, the ones that knew him best as his basketball family, were still inside Target Center in a state of shock.
“ ‘That was really difficult to see. Obviously, we’re close-knit, we’re a family,’ an emotional Joe Harris said, pausing as he tried to compose himself, searching for words that wouldn’t come. ‘Just seeing that in person like that, it breaks your heart. It really does.
“ ‘We were all really torn up about it. Caris has been the heart of our team with the amount of work he’s put in. ...His attitude never wavered from the moment he’s gotten here. He’s been just as good of a person as he is as a ballplayer, an even better person, as a matter of fact. That’s why it really hurts to see that.’
“Harris’ eyes were red from crying, and he wasn’t the only one. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had been openly crying while awaiting a free throw....
“Someday the Nets will have to start thinking basketball. About whether (DeMarre) Carroll or Allen Crabbe will replace LeVert in the starting lineup. About whether to file for a Disabled Player Exception, the way they did last season when Jeremy Lin ruptured his patella tendon on opening night. And about how they have to tweak their systems, and help D’Angelo Russell fill LeVert’s sizeable shoes.
“But that day wasn’t Monday.
“ ‘Our only thoughts are with him. Nothing else matters. The game doesn’t matter tonight. That’s it,’ (coach Kenny) Atkinson said. ‘Our thoughts should be with him and his recovery. And I really don’t want to talk about the game, or anything else.’”
Well, that was Monday night...Tuesday afternoon, LeVert and the Nets received some terrific news. He suffered a dislocation of his right foot and will not need surgery, with the Nets’ team orthopedist saying “there were no fractures and only moderate ligament damage” and that the emerging star should be playing again at full strength sometime this season. Wow.
The only worry is that LeVert has a history of foot surgeries, including from back in his college days.
--The Golden State Warriors suspended Draymond Green for one game without pay for his dustup with teammate Kevin Durant following a loss Monday night to the Clippers.
Warriors GM Bob Myers said Tuesday, “We just felt like this rose to the level of acting the way that we did....This was something that required the action that we decided upon.”
Green has been critical to the team’s three championships in four seasons, but he can be one major a-hole, and with Durant’s looming free agency, many are now wondering how the two can get along the rest of the way.
An angry late-game exchange on the bench between the stars carried into Staples Center’s visiting locker room, with several of Green’s teammates challenging him on his decision-making on the final play of regulation, sources said.
Green had gathered a defensive rebound in the final moments of the tie game and then lost control of the ball has he dribbled up the court, the Warriors not getting off a shot, Durant calling for the ball. The Clippers then beat the Warriors in overtime, 121-116.
Zero big games of late, but the season begins to pick up later this week with some major tournaments, and on into next week.
Duke took over the top slot in the AP Poll:
--Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. took 27 of the 30 first-place votes in being named National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America, beating out Washington outfielder Juan Soto and Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler.
In the American League, the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani topped the Yankees’ Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.
Just about any other year, the losers are ROY in their own right. Six outstanding performances.
But look at Acuna and Soto.
Acuna...111 games, 26 HR, 64 RBI, .293 BA, 16 SBs, .366 OBP, .917 OPS
Soto...116 games, 22 HR, 70 RBI, .292 BA, 79 BBs, .406 OBP, .923 OPS
So who would you take for the future? Acuna or Soto? Soto just turned 20 in October, but as a teenager bested Hall of Famer Mel Ott for most walks by a teenager since 1900. And he finished with the second-most home runs by a teenager in history, tied with Bryce Harper and better than Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle and many others.
Acuna, though, turns 21 in December. His production came out of the leadoff position, and the reason why he won the vote handily is because of his outstanding defense and base running and the fact the Braves made it into the postseason.
As for Ohtani, he received 25 of the 30 first-place votes in the AL, while Andujar received the other five.
Ohtani became the first MLB player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to amass 20 home runs and 50 innings pitched in the same season, finishing with a .285 batting average, .361 on-base percentage and .925 OPS, with 22 home runs in just 326 at-bats, while going 4-2, 3.31 ERA, 63 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings on the mound.
But now with Ohtani undergoing Tommy John surgery in October, he’ll be limited to full-time designed hitter status in 2019, with a hoped for return to the mound in 2020.
As for Andujar, what a year he had, .297 BA, 27 homers, 47 doubles, 92 RBI. But Ohtani deserved it for being so unique (and good).
Meanwhile, the Cy Young and MVP awards are handed out today and Thursday, with Mets fans praying Jacob deGrom wins the former. He better! Or a lot of us are going to riot.
--Oakland’s Bob Melvin and Atlanta’s Brian Snitker were named managers of the year in the American and National League on Tuesday.
Melvin received 18 of a possible 30 first-place votes, while Snitker took 17 of 30.
Boston’s Alex Cora was runner-up in the AL balloting.
--Sunday, 2:30 p.m., ET, from Homestead, Florida...Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and defending champ Martin Truex Jr. battle it out for the Cup. Tune in around 4:30, if not before.
--I have called David Pearson many a time in these pages the “Most Underrated Great American Athlete” of all time. [Tris Speaker, Nate Thurmond and Stan Mikita were others I have noted, along the same lines, but in all sports, Pearson is number one.]
So we note his passing the other day at the age of 83.
Ed Hardin/ Greensboro News & Record...courtesy of Phil W.
“David Pearson, the Silver Fox, was as smooth as polished steel.
“He drove a race car like a bandit, always in the shadows until you least expected it, and then he’d put that No. 21 Wood Brothers bullet in Richard Petty’s mirror and the sport itself would hold its breath.
“We never wanted to exhale.
“Some say he was the greatest driver to ever sit behind the wheel of a stock car, and some say he was the second-greatest. Petty himself went back and forth on it. But one thing is certain.
“Pearson and Petty were the reason we loved NASCAR racing, the reason we left church on Sundays and ran to the car to listen to the start of the race and held our breath all afternoon waiting for the finish, waiting for the only two giants of the sport to come off the fourth turn of the final lap, risking everything just to cross under the checkered flag before the other.
“He beat Petty to the flag one last time today. David Pearson has died.
“The history of sports in the South includes great contests on grass and planks and asphalt, final-round charges and last-second shots from Arnold and Jack and Pistol Pete, people we knew by their first names, great moments frozen in time with legends like Dean Smith and Bear Bryant, black and white newspaper clippings over Augusta National and Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“But for much of the South, the very essence of sports itself was Petty and Pearson coming off the fourth turn at Daytona in 1976, colliding and spinning in the front stretch, the 43 grinding to a stop in the grass and the 21 hobbling to the line, smoke pouring from under the crumpled hood of a Mercury while we watched without breathing the greatest moment in stock-car racing history.
“And to many of us, the greatest moment in all of sports.
“Pearson would win 105 races in his long career, second only to Petty’s 200, a career mark that left him far short of the King but in a realm of his own. And that was just fine with Pearson.
“He had no interest in chasing win totals or championships. He would win three titles of his own [Ed. 1966, ’68 and ‘69], smack dab in the middle of Petty’s dominance in the late ‘60s, only to scale back his schedule, racing when he wanted to instead of grinding it out week after week.
“Pearson entered only 19 races in 1974, but he won seven times, finished in the top five 15 times and won 11 poles. He finished third in the Cup standings behind Petty and Cale Yarborough that year, but there are those who consider it his greatest season. Some consider it the greatest season any stock-car driver ever had.
“He didn’t care one way or the other....
“Petty said he never minded losing to Pearson.
“ ‘I knew how good he was,’ he said.
“Pearson said the same thing about Petty.
“They would finish first-and-second 63 times, Pearson holding a slight edge in those races. [Ed. 33 to 30.]
“They were the greatest races of our time, the greatest era in stock-car racing history, when time stood still and David Pearson was as big of a deal as we’ve ever known.”
And maybe now you know why I’ve called David Pearson the “Most Underrated Great American Athlete.”
Pearson was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s second class. He should have been in the first.
Polling of prominent stock-car figures conducted by Sports Illustrated in 1999 and The Sporting News in 2011 proclaimed Pearson as NASCAR’s greatest driver.
He retired in 1986, having won more than 18 percent of the 574 races he had entered while capturing the pole 113 times.
--With the latest round of catastrophic fires in California, you do wonder sometimes about the wildlife and how it survives...or doesn’t.
Officials with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, for example, said Monday that eight mountain lions it has been tracking are alive and moving based on GPS collars, but the fate of five others remains unclear, though they say just because there are no readings with them, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve perished.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/14/70: #1 “I’ll Be There” (The Jackson 5) #2 “We’ve Only Just Begun” (Carpenters) #3 “Fire And Rain” (James Taylor)...and...#4 “I Think I Love You” (The Partridge Family) #5 “Indiana Wants Me” (R. Dean Taylor) #6 “Green-Eyed Lady” (Sugarloaf) #7 “The Tears Of A Clown” (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles) #8 “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” (100 Proof Aged In Soul) #9 “Gypsy Woman” (Brian Hyland) #10 “It Don’t Matter To Me” (Bread...strong top 3...so-so rest of the list...)
NASCAR Quiz Answer: Eight with 75 career Cup Series wins....
Richard Petty 200
David Pearson 105
Jeff Gordon 93
Darrell Waltrip 84
Bobby Allison 84
Jimmie Johnson 83
Cale Yarborough 83
Dale Earnhardt 76
Then you drop down to Rusty Wallace with 55, so the above club is truly elite.
All of the 75-club also had at least three Cup titles (Petty, Johnson and Earnhardt with 7), except for Bobby Allison, who had his lone title in 1983.
Among active drivers, aside from Johnson, Kyle Busch has 51 wins and Kevin Harvick has 45.
Next Bar Chat, Monday... “the Heidi Game!”