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A Big Change at QB
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
College Football Quiz: 1) Pitt’s Tony Dorsett was the first to have four, 1,000-yard rushing seasons (1973-76). Who was second? [Power Five player, but just a cup of coffee in NFL.] 2) Dorsett was also the first to have three, 1,500-yard rushing seasons (1973, 75, 76). Who was second? [Power Five, long-time NFLer, with one, 1,500-yard NFL season.] Answers below.
NOTE: A few of the following stories developed over the course of Tuesday and are written up as they were happening.
--The Mets traveled to Colorado after their depressing 3-2 loss to the Dodgers Sunday night*, and for a few innings Monday their bats came alive, the Mets taking a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth, upon which the Rockies unloaded on starter Steven Matz for six runs, a 7-4 lead, on the way to a 9-4 win that, coupled with another Cubs win ended the Mets season.
How bad was Matz? He gave up a tying two-run single to Rockies pitcher Antonio Senzatela, who prior to the plate appearance was 0-for-44 going back to last September.
As Johnny Mac wrote, after our Jets also took it on the chin Monday night, “with apologies to Don McLean, yesterday was the day both seasons died.”
Matz epitomizes this Mets team. He’s 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA at home; 3-8, 6.62 on the road.
The Mets were five back, 12 to play, for the second wild card.
*Back to Sunday night, after I had posted, I have to note that if you are trying to snag a wild card slot, you can’t have Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, and Michael Conforto, three of your big guns, go a combined 0-for-25 as they did in the three games against the Dodgers.
But...once again the Mets rebounded Tuesday, 6-1 over Colorado behind Marcus Stroman’s seven scoreless and Pete Alonso’s 48th home run. Coupled with the Cubs’ loss to the Reds, and the Brewers’ win over the Padres, what a (joyous) mess we have.
St. Louis 84-67
Milwaukee 82-69... 2
Chicago 82-69... 2
N.L. Wild Card
Washington 83-67... +1.5
Milwaukee 82-69... ---
Chicago 82-69... ---
Philadelphia 77-72... 4
New York 78-73... 4
The thing is, as all baseball fans know, the Cubs and Cardinals play each other seven times down the stretch, starting Thursday in Chicago, and then the final weekend in St. Louis.
--Luis Severino stepped back onto a major-league mound last night for the first time this season. It’s been a frustrating season for him, and the Yanks, but he’s their best pitcher and the issue for Manager Aaron Boone is how much can he put him out there before the playoffs? And what will his role be? Will he be an opener?
Well Severino was terrific. Four scoreless, just two hits, two walks, four strikeouts, 67 pitches, the Yanks beating the Angels 8-0.
The whole postseason roster in these last ten days of the regular season is in a state of flux after the Yankees set a major league record with 30 players spending time on the injured list.
Reliever Dellin Betances made his season debut on Sunday in impressive fashion. Giancarlo Stanton is returning sometime this week. He better.
Catcher Gary Sanchez and DH/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion hopefully are back before October. At least the Yanks’ first playoff game wouldn’t be until Oct. 4.
But then last night there was another big development. We learned that Betances, in his appearance Sunday, suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon when he landed awkwardly on the mound.
After striking out the two batters he faced, he took a skip step off the mound and that’s when the injury appeared to happen.
As Aaron Boone said, this is “about as freak as can be.” It’s not known if Betances will require surgery.
Meanwhile, the Astros and Yankees are tied at 99-53 for home-field advantage, and right there are the Dodgers, 98-54, for any home-field advantage in the World Series. The Dodgers and the Astros, by the way, are both 57-20 at home.
--And the A.L. Wild Card Standings....
Oakland 91-61... +2
Tampa Bay... ---
--Going back to last weekend’s Cubs-Pirates series, for the record, the 47 runs Chicago scored in winning 17-8, 14-1, 16-6 were the most they’ve scored in a three-game series since they had 48 in July 1894, also against the Pirates.
--Pittsburgh closer Felipe Vazquez, having a terrific season and an All-Star in 2018 and ’19, was arrested Tuesday and is being charged with multiple felonies in both Pennsylvania and Florida, including statutory sexual assaults. The charges are beyond despicable.
Vazquez was put on administrative leave by Major League Baseball, which according to ESPN is going to use the police’s findings in pursuing potential discipline for the pitcher.
--In his first game at the ballpark his grandfather called home for 23 years, Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski homered in the top of the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox in a 7-6, 15-inning win. The 29-year-old rookie’s homer was his 20th...a nice first season after a long climb through the minors. Grandfather Carl, who seldom appears in Fenway, was there to share the moment.
--Toronto second baseman Cavan Biggio, son of Craig Biggio, hit for the cycle last night in a game against the Orioles, just the second father-son duo to achieve this feat; the other being Gary and Daryle Ward. Cavan also had his first four-hit game.
--What a big blow for both the Steelers and Saints, as well as the NFL, in losing quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees, though with his injured thumb, perhaps Brees is back for the second half of the season.
For both, however, it also essentially could be career over. Roethlisberger has often talked of retirement, especially given all the concussions he’s suffered, but when the Steelers selected quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Roethlisberger insisted his career wasn’t over and that he intended to play for “three to five more years.”
Over the course of his career, Roethlisberger missed 20 games, with 16 coming because of injuries and four from his suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Since he became the starter in 2004, the Steelers have gone 11-9 in games he’s missed, 144-71-1 with him at the helm, including the opening two losses this season.
But Rudolph is ready to contribute.
Separately, the Steelers acquired defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick, Miami also receiving the Steelers’ 2020 fifth-round pick and a sixth-rounder in 2021. In turn, the Steelers received Miami’s 2020 fourth-round pick and a seventh-round pick in 2021.
Fitzpatrick was the No. 11 overall pick in 2018 out of Alabama and had a terrific rookie season.
But “Tanking for Tua” Miami is stockpiling draft picks, with three first-round and two second-rounders in 2020. They also have two first-rounders and two second-rounders in 2021.
--Meanwhile, the aforementioned Drew Brees is having surgery on his right thumb to repair ligament damage today.
Brees’ streak of starting at least 15 games in 15 straight seasons – the second-longest of its kind behind only Brett Favre – is history.
New Orleans has a solid backup in Teddy Bridgewater, with dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill another option while Brees is sidelined.
--Between 1990 and 2018, of the 230 teams that opened the season 0-2, only 30 made the playoffs.
So when looking at my Jets, it has gotten late early, as Yogi would have said. The thing is the Jets, who looked worse than miserable Monday night in losing to Cleveland 23-3, now hit the road for games against New England and Philadelphia, before returning to play Dallas and New England, again. The early line on next weekend’s game in Foxborough was 18 ½.
But with starting quarterback Sam Darnold out for the foreseeable future, and new starter Trevor Siemian exiting early with an ankle injury, the Jets turned to Luke Falk, who on Monday morning prior to the game was officially on the practice squad.
But then there was OBJ.
Steve Serby / New York Post
“He caught a slant from Baker Mayfield at around the 20 and then he was gone, running like the wind, turning on the jets and away from Jets chasing him, an 89-yard touchdown reminder to the New York Football Giants of what once was, and could have been.
“And an 89-yard touchdown statement to Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who shouldn’t dare be asking Odell Who? anymore.
“Beckham exacted his revenge on Williams with six catches for 161 yards and that very long TD, and Jarvis Landry exacted his on Adam Gase in the Browns’ victory – over the toothless Trevor Siemian-Luke Falk Jets.
“Beckham first answered Odell Who? on the opening Browns series when he reached out his right hand with Nate Hairston glued to him and a roar he used to hear at MetLife Stadium in his New York Giants No. 13 jersey erupted.
“Beckham made his one-handed grab so near to where he made The Catch that changed his life, this one for 33 yards from Mayfield, this one to the Jets’ 5-yard line, this one without the eye-popping $2 million watch he wore in pregame.
“Before the night was done, you wondered what the army of exasperated, demoralized Giants fans were thinking, what a weapon Odell Who? could have been for Daniel Jones once Pat Shurmur takes the keys to the kingdom away from Eli Manning.”
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post
“The laundry list is exhausting to peruse. The Jets are terrible at so many things right now it’s hard to keep up with them all. The offensive line is a sieve, turning every snap into the Gold rush of 1849. When the eight or so defenders do reach their destination, they are crashing into the third-string quarterback.
“Put it this way: When you lose a karmic battle with Odell Beckham Jr., you have really done something to tick off the celestial football judges. The moment Gregg Williams issued the dumbest two-word comment of the young season Friday – asking no one and everyone, ‘Odell who?’ – was the moment Beckham was predestined to take a slant pass 89 yards to the house, allowing for a rare moment of combined green and blue angst all across town.
“See, it isn’t just that the Jets lost 23-3. It isn’t just that the season seems perilously close to the abyss after only 120 minutes and two weeks. It isn’t even how banged up the Jets are, with the sidelines looking more and more like a triage unit.
“Losing is one thing.
“Ineptitude...that’s something else entirely....
“It’s almost funny: A day earlier, the Giants had left their fans despondent after a second straight paean to gross football ugliness, and they’d gone ahead and opened the door to everyone’s favorite parlor game, the quarterback controversy, less than eight hours before the Jets kicked off.
“Until the Jets said: ‘Hold our beer.’
“ ‘We’ll have to look at these guys, see who’s doing their job and who’s not,’ (coach Adam) Gase said. ‘Maybe change some pieces around.’
“And there are a lot of faulty pieces. Gase has a coordinator who really does need to be gagged with a spoon for his own good. He planned on benching one of his highest-paid players, Trumaine Johnson, before summoning him for garbage time when Nate Hairston was hurt; that’ll take up some of his time this week. He has a third-string QB facing a Patriots team that hasn’t allowed a touchdown since last January.
“Other than that? All’s swell in the land of the Jets.”
It was announced Monday that quarterback Siemian is out for the season after suffering a brutal ankle injury.
--The Giants have now started six of their last seven seasons 0-2. It’s also increasingly clear that Daniel Jones will be the quarterback soon. At this point, there is zero reason not to go with him. It should be about the future.
Steve Serby / New York Post
“The Giants are a franchise in No Mann’s Land.
“Bills 28, Giants 14 means John Mara’s pipe dream of Eli Manning playing the entire season while Daniel Jones watches and learns is quickly going up in smoke.
“The Giants are in No Mann’s Land because there are more troubling, ominous indications they cannot win with Manning, and they would not win with Jones either, such is their current state.
“At 0-2, the Eli Watch has begun much too early. Because it is getting late early around here once again.
“This has become Deja Boo all over again for disenchanted, disillusioned Giants fans who deserve better than losing three consecutive home openers, and losing period.
“It is not yet time for Jones – not at 0-2, not with Golden Tate on suspended for two more games – but the clock is now ticking on Manning, and the queries about Jones for Pat Shurmur won’t be stopping....
“Drafting Jones with the sixth pick of the draft was a move with the future in mind. A future that is closing in on Eli Manning.”
And then Tuesday afternoon, the Giants announced Daniel Jones was taking over.
Pat Leonard / New York Daily News
“The Giants aren’t benching Eli Manning for Daniel Jones to concede the present for the future, though this move prioritizes Jones’ long-term development over all.
“They also are starting Jones on Sunday in Tampa Bay because they believe he may give them a better chance to win.
“The Giants (0-2) aren’t intentionally tanking like the Miami Dolphins (0-2). The Giants, instead, are a mismanaged organization doing a poor job of trying to win.
“Pat Shurmur said Tuesday that ‘this move is more about Daniel than about Eli,’ and it’s true the Giants are ecstatic about their No. 6 overall pick’s talent and readiness to play now.
“It was obvious when Shurmur shoved Jones’ strong preseason in his doubters’ faces in August by saying: ‘You can ask me all you want about why I like him. I think it’s time to start asking the people that didn’t like him what they think.’
“It was obvious when the head coach said Jones was ‘ready to go’ before the regular season; when Shurmur played Jones in the fourth quarter of a Week 1 blowout loss in Dallas; and when Shurmur told the world Monday that Manning might not be his starter anymore.
“The Giants’ coach, however, would not be making this move if Manning were playing well. And co-owner John Mara would not have signed off a second time in two years on benching Manning’s offense if it had been scoring 25 points per game, no matter how lost the defense is.
“Shurmur said Monday that when considering a quarterback change, ‘we’re always trying to do what we can to win this next game, and then behind the scenes, we’re always having those long-term discussions, but I think that’s the challenge each week, just doing what you can to win the next game. That’s really my focus as the coach.’
“Mara said in August that ‘I want to feel when I’m walking off the field after the last game of the season, whenever that is, that this franchise is headed in the right direction. That’s, to me, the important thing.’
“And Shurmur’s 2019 Giants were headed in the completely wrong direction, full steam ahead....
“(Meanwhile) Shurmur also has a 15-36 career record as an NFL head coach, and a 5-13 record early in his second season with the Giants.
“He knows Ben McAdoo was fired with a 13-15 record midway through his second season despite an 11-5 first season and what will be the franchise’s only playoff berth in the last eight years.
“That’s how bleak it’s been since Manning led the Giants to his second Super Bowl MVP award, and that’s how bleak it remains.”
If this is Eli’s last start his career mark is 116-116-0.
So I have all kinds of thoughts on him, Eli literally living about a ½-mile from me. As Pat Leonard writes, he can’t be too upset, if Sunday was his last game, seeing as he’s making $16 million this season!
And as Leonard adds: “Why did the Giants even bring him back at all?”
Well, I’ve talked about that. He’s got his head up John Mara’s you know what.
The Mannings, Eli and Peyton, have led a charmed life. Peyton has been masterful in parlaying his post-NFL career into major bucks without actually being in the public eye...LIVE! Eli has his sports memorabilia fiasco.
But Eli has two Super Bowl rings. He deserves the accolades. No. 1, he was durable, and that’s huge in the NFL.
Steve Serby / New York Post
“And I know I am speaking for all Giants fans, including the ones who agree that the time has finally come for you to hand the ball over to young Daniel Jones....
“You helped deliver two Super Bowl championships. You were the first quarterback to slay the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick dragon on Super Sunday, one time ruining the Perfect Patriots season.
“You were Easy Eli, forever clutch on the field in the biggest moments, keeping that even-keeled demeanor that New York could never shake, rattle or roll. You treated every media member the same, never played favorites, never stopped facing the music when there was music to face.
“You beat Brett Favre in an arctic playoff game at Lambeau Field and you beat Aaron Rodgers there too.
“How you escaped out of harm’s way and launched that prayer to David Tyree that was answered in Super Bowl XLII, we’ll never know.
“When Tom Coughlin needed you to throw that perfect 38-yard sideline pass toward the end of Super Bowl XLVI to Mario Manningham, you sure did....
“For 15-plus seasons, you were the first one in the building and the last one to leave. Not once did you cheat your franchise or your teammates or your fans....
“We watched you grow from a 23-year-old boy into a Hall of Fame quarterback and Hall of Fame Mann.
“Greatest Giants quarterback of them all.
“Perhaps the biggest compliment the Giants ownership and management could have given you was drafting Daniel Jones to be your successor. Not an Eli Manning clone, but the closest thing they could find to you.
“Hold your head high, Eli.
“You were, and always will be, The Pride of the New York Football Giants.”
--Aside from the biggie on Saturday night, #7 Notre Dame at #3 Georgia, we have #8 Auburn at #17 Texas A&M, and #11 Michigan at #13 Wisconsin.
Friday night, USC gets to show its supporters that they can rebound from the loss at BYU when they host #10 Utah.
--Congratulations to Paul P.’s SMU Mustangs, off to their first 3-0 start since 1984 and the Pony Express days of Eric Dickerson, Craig James and Reggie Dupard.
But next up is No. 25 TCU.
--Division I Men’s Soccer Rankings / Coaches Poll, Sept. 17
1. Wake Forest (26)
3. Georgetown (1)
4. Indiana (1)
6. Saint Mary’s (Calif.)
9. St. John’s
18. New Hampshire...pretty cool, not easy to recruit up there
--Champions League play kicked off yesterday and it was a bad start for the Premier League, with Liverpool losing at Napoli 2-0, and Chelsea losing to Valencia 1-0.
Tottenham and Man City are in action today.
--Going back to last weekend inaugural 2019-2020 PGA Tour event at The Greenbrier, won by Joaquin Niemann, rookie Viktor Hovland, who finished T-10, ran his streak of rounds in the 60s to 17, tying Bob Estes’ PGA Tour mark set in 2001.
Further, in his last five events, Hovland has shot 64, 65, 64, 65 and 64 in his final rounds. As Golfworld’s Dave Shedloski put it: “Nice pattern developing there.”
--Kudos to Virginia basketball coach Tony Bennett for declining to take a raise while extending his contract by another year. The Cavaliers announced the extension Monday, saying Bennett asked for the money to be used to pay his staff more and for improvements to both his program as well as other Virginia teams.
“[My wife] Laurel and I are in a great spot, and in the past I’ve had increases in my contract,” Bennett said in the news release. “We just feel a great peace about where we’re at, all that’s taken place, and how we feel about this athletic department and this community and this school. I love being at UVA.
“...I have more than enough, and if there are ways that his can help out the athletic department, the other programs and coaches, by not tying up so much [in men’s basketball], that’s my desire.”
Bennett’s new deal runs through the 2025-26 season. According to the USA TODAY database, Bennett made $4.15 million last season, which included a $1 million longevity payment due to him in March.
All is good in the world for the defending champions. Into the December file Bennett goes, for all the right reasons.
--From the BBC:
“An Australian man has died in a bicycle crash while trying to escape from a swooping magpie.”
What did I write just like two weeks ago? The freakin’ magpie has become a major issue in these parts and now this.
“The 76-year-old cyclist suffered head injuries on Sunday when he veered off a path and crashed into a park fence south of Sydney, police said....
“Local media reported that several other magpie attacks had previously taken place in the park.”
Needless to say, when by the end of October I reveal the all-new All-Species List, ‘Magpie’ will be nowhere to be found and should enter at around 289.
--Ric Ocasek, lead singer of the rock band The Cars, died Sunday. He was 75. Ocasek was found in bed at his Manhattan townhouse by his supermodel wife, Paulina Porizkova.
At their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018, The Cars were described as “hook-savvy with the perfect combo of new wave and classic rock.”
The Cars sold more than 23 million albums in the U.S. alone in their heyday, which lasted from 1976 to 1988.
Among the group’s top hits were the #4 “Shake It Up” (1981), #7 “You Might Think” (1984), #12 “Magic” (1984), # 3 “Drive” (1984), and #7 “Tonight She Comes” (1985).
Ocasek met Porikova in 1984 while recording the video for “Drive.” [They had announced an amicable separation last year.]
Benjamin Orr, the band’s co-founder, died in 2000.
At the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Ocasek said, “When the band first started, Ben was supposed to be the lead singer and I was supposed to be the good looking guy in the band. But after a couple of gigs I kind of got demoted to the songwriter, so I went with that one.”
I have to admit, while I wasn’t a big fan of the group, since Ocasek’s death I can’t get “Drive” out of my head. It replaced an Andrew Gold song (no, not “Lonely Boy”), but these things are complicated.
If you want a good song, knowing you’re stuck with it for a while, try the theme to “The Big Country,” the movie.
Top 3 songs for the week 9/16/67: #1 “Ode To Billie Joe” (Bobbie Gentry...has gotten better with time...) #2 “Reflections” (Diana Ross and The Supremes) #3 “Come Back When You Grow Up” (Bobby Vee)...and...#4 “The Letter” (The Box Tops) #5 “Baby I Love You” (Aretha Franklin) #6 “You’re My Everything” (The Temptations) #7 “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” (Jay and The Techniques) #8 “All You Need Is Love” (The Beatles) #9 “San Francisco Nights” (Eric Burdon and The Animals) #10 “Funky Broadway” (Wilson Pickett...just a ‘B’ week...)
College Football Quiz Answers: 1) North Carolina’s Amos Lawrence was the second to have four, 1,000-yard seasons rushing (1977-80). But he played only briefly in the NFL. 2) Herschel Walker (Georgia) was the second with three, 1,500-yard seasons rushing (1980-82), before a long career in the USFL and NFL.
But Walker is in many ways best known for being part of the worst single trade in NFL, and perhaps all of sports, history.
Following his 1,500-yard season in 1988 with Dallas, when he also had 53 receptions for another 500 yards, after the start of the 1989 season, the Cowboys traded him to the Vikings for five players (linebacker Jesse Solomon, defensive back Isaac Holt, running back Darrin Nelson, linebacker David Howard and defensive end Alex Stewart), as well as six future draft picks, which through a formula resulted in the drafting of Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith and Darren Woodson.
Walker was supposed to be the missing link for the Vikings’ Super Bowl hopes, and wasn’t. But the Cowboys parlayed the draft picks into three SB titles, 1992, 93, and 95.
1969 Mets, cont’d....
So the Mets headed back to Shea Stadium with a five-game lead over Leo Durocher’s hated Cubs, the Pirates now coming in for five games in three days. [If you’ve noticed a ton of doubleheaders down the stretch, that’s the price of all those early season rainouts.]
Sept. 19: But in front of a crowd of nearly 52,000 for a Friday twi-niter, the Pirates waylaid the Mets, taking both games.
In the opener, Bob Veale (13-12) pitched a complete game as Pittsburgh won 8-2, Nolan Ryan (6-3) the starter and loser, lasting just 1 2/3.
In the nightcap, the Bucs’ Luke Walker (3-6) threw a complete game shutout, 8-0, Willie Stargell homering. What I found astounding is the Stargell homer was the first the Mets’ staff allowed in 221 innings [Phil Pepe / New York Daily News, Sept. 20, 1969] Jim McAndrew (6-7) was shelled.
But all those Mets fans in attendance for this crappy night at least were able to cheer the Cardinals knocking off the Cubs in the second game of their own doubleheader, so the Metropolitans lost just one game on the night.
Sept. 20: The Mets lack of hitting continued, many of us remembering this one in particular, as the Pirates’ Bob Moose (12-3) tossed a no-hitter, the Pirates winning 4-0.
Uh oh. But the Cubs keep losing. No harm, no foul.
Sept. 21: In the first of a Sunday doubleheader, the Mets regain their mojo, Jerry Koosman (16-9) tossing another complete game, New York winning 5-3, Art Shamsky with his 14th home run, Ron Swoboda and Duffy Dyer with two ribbies apiece.
In the nightcap, Don Cardwell (8-9) threw a complete game, Mets beating Steve Blass (15-10) 6-1.
So now the Mets are 93-61, 4 ½ up on the Cubs, just eight games to play, the magic number shrinking quickly...just 4.
I do have to note another tidbit from the Daily News’ Phil Pepe back then. Last year, in Jerry Koosman’s superb rookie season, 19-12, 2.08, 15 of those victories came after Met defeats.
Next Bar Chat, Monday....from a destination to be revealed at that time.
As in I also have no idea when I’ll be posting.