|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
Gettleman's Massive Gamble
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
NFL Draft Quiz: One more....Name the round the following were selected: Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent, Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, and George Blanda. Answer below.
NFL Draft 2019
For starters, what a home run for Nashville. More than 200,000 folks showed up, or roughly 10% of the metro area’s population, for the festivities. Now who wants to spend a weekend there? Everyone, I imagine. It is indeed a great place. Being a Country Western fan myself, the best.
Here in the New York area, there is only one topic of conversation and that is, ‘What the [blank] was GM Dave Gettleman doing taking Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at No. 6?!’
Now I have to be honest. I’ve written in these pages that I liked Jones a lot when I saw him play. I called him “underrated.” What was funny is I seemed to like him more than some Duke fans did.
But at 6?
Now there is one line of thought that when it comes to quarterbacks, if you like the guy and you think he can be a franchise quarterback, then you go out and get him. I get that.
I’m also the guy who said the Giants would be crazy not to take Dwayne Haskins with the No. 6 pick. More on Haskins later.
Anyway, Gettleman is taking major heat, but if I was a Giants fan, what would tick me off the most is he’s acting like Jones will be sitting for two or three years, as in Eli Manning is your starting quarterback not just 2019, but 2020 as well.
Manning, 38, is 8-23 his last two seasons! Like, hey, Giants, you say you want to win this year, but you also look like you’re setting up to tank it....oh, I’ll let some of the others weigh in.
Steve Politi / Star-Ledger
“Where do you even begin?
“Dave Gettleman used the sixth overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft on a player that some experts had rated as the sixth-best quarterback, period, in what was widely regarded as a weak class for the position.
“The same Giants general manager who has said, time and time again, that he would never draft a player based on a need because ‘that’s when you make mistakes’ made one of the biggest reaches in Giants franchise history.
“And look who he left on the board in the process.
“He passed up Montclair (N.J.) native Josh Allen, the SEC pass-rushing wrecking ball who was somehow still available.
“He passed up Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, the record-shattering passer from the Big Ten who fell to the rival Redskins at No. 15 overall.
“We’ll have the next decade to evaluate which team made out better on Thursday night, but for now, consider their respective numbers from their college careers:
“Jones: 52 touchdown passes and 29 interceptions in three seasons.
“Haskins: 54 touchdown passes, 9 interceptions in one season.
“Yes, Haskins had a stable of talent at Ohio State that Jones did not have at Duke. Picking Jones isn’t the only issue here. Picking him at No. 6 overall is the question, too. They could have taken Allen and still likely had either Haskins or Jones with No. 17 overall, or used their bounty of assets to trade up from 17th and make sure they got their man.
“There are scouts who had Jones with a third-round grade, which means Gettleman has used a critical asset on a player held in the same esteem as former draft flop David Webb.
“And he did so one year after ‘no thanks’ to Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen last spring when he was sitting pretty with the No. 2 pick.
“Look: Jones might turn out to be the franchise savior. He might take over for Eli Manning in 2020 and lead the Giants to a pair of Super Bowls himself, which Gettleman has said he’ll enjoy watching from his retirement at Cape Cod.
“Giants fans hated it when their team picked Phil Simms at No. 7 in 1979, too, and that worked out alright.
“But a forced retirement for the 68-year-old GM is another very real possibility here.
“If Jones is a bust, Gettleman is done....
“Who could have imagined that Gettleman, the man who shipped Odell Beckham Jr. out of town, would make a move even less popular just weeks later?
“At least some fans were happy to see Beckham take his touchdown celebrations and Twitter account to Cleveland. Jones will arrive next week for rookie minicamp with a mostly skeptical, unhappy fan base....
“A year with Manning as his ‘mentor’ is unlikely to improve Jones’ much-questioned arm strength or his lack of downfield accuracy, but, if Manning struggles, it will allow the drumbeat about getting him onto the field to build until its deafening.
“Jones won’t be the focus of the fans’ ire if he’s not ready. That’s all Gettleman....
“The Redskins took Ohio State star Dwayne Haskins with the 15th pick. After that decision was official, Washington head coach Jay Gruden said that Haskins would compete for the starting job because, well, that’s what you do when you think a quarterback is worth a pick that high.
“The Giants don’t agree. That’s troubling....
“Four quarterbacks were picked in the top 10 of the 2018 draft, and all four started at least 13 games for their new team as a rookie.
“The Giants passed on three of them last year and, on draft night 2019, told their fan base that the ‘future’ from this draft might not see the field for years.
“Maybe Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur will change that narrative in a hurry based on how Jones performs when he gets to East Rutherford. Or maybe they sent a clear message about who really is this franchise’s quarterback of the future.
“Chances are, Giants fans have already seen him play.”
Steve Serby / New York Post
“So Dave Gettleman finally fell in love with a quarterback.
“But what angry Giants fans have every right to ask is this:
“Daniel Jones with the sixth bleeping pick?
“Cut to the John McEnroe tape:
“YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!!
“How do you neglect your depleted defense by passing on a gifted pass rusher like Kentucky’s Josh Allen with the sixth pick of Thursday night’s NFL draft?
“Does Jones have enough arm to succeed Eli Manning and carry the team one day and be the Giants’ next franchise quarterback?
“Gettleman not falling in love with Sam Darnold, The Other Josh Allen or Josh Rosen a year ago forced him to reach for a projection that satisfies his need to implement the Kansas City model that worked like a charm for the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes studying under Alex Smith for a year.
“And so the firing squad was waiting for Gettleman when he faced the music after Round 1 had mercifully ended for Giants fans.
“At the very end of the interrogation, I asked Gettleman what he would tell apoplectic Giants fans to comfort them.
“ ‘In time you’ll be very pleased,’ he said.
“Drafting a quarterback at No. 6 who will not play football this season over an impact defensive player like Allen increases the Giants’ chances of capturing another top-10 pick in the 2020 draft – and not spend it on studs such as Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert or Jake Fromm.
“ ‘He’s just perfect for us,’ Gettleman said.
“Gettleman saw all he needed to see of Daniel Jones at the Senior Bowl.
“ ‘I saw a professional quarterback...I was in full-bloom love,’ he said.
“The 2019 Giants are certainly not equipped to win, and now you have to question whether the 2020 Giants will have a legitimate chance to win with Jones – or 39-year-old Eli Manning if the kid needs more schooling – and with this suspect defense.
“ ‘Maybe we’re gonna be the Green Bay model,’ Gettleman said, ‘where [Aaron] Rodgers sat for three years. Who knows?’*
“He was kidding, right?
“Good luck Saquon Barkley.
“Look, no one is saying Jones will be Dave Brown, another Dookie who was not the post-Phil Simms answer. He has smarts and toughness and work ethic and the right makeup and more athleticism than Manning. Gettleman and Pat Shurmur applaud his poise and pocket pressure. And there will be some who will take solace in the fact a quarterback guru like Duke coach David Cutcliffe looks at Jones and sees the Manning Bros., all of whom he has coached. And legendary HOF executive Gil Brandt has compared Jones to Peyton Manning at a similar stage. Love Brandt, but he and Cutcliffe are in the minority in that one. Others see Ryan Tannehill.
“ ‘We drafted a quarterback that we believe is a franchise quarterback,’ Gettleman said.
“Sorry, Daniel Jones was not the sixth best player in the draft.
“He wasn’t even the best quarterback in this draft....
“The Giants are a long, long way from any Super Bowl. But Josh Allen from Kentucky would have gotten them a step closer than Daniel Jones....
“Big Bew it.”
*Gettleman’s comment that Jones might sit two or three years is what I write of in my opening, the scariest part of this situation. And understand this about Eli Manning. Forget what you’ll hear from Daniel Jones and how Eli is generous with his time and sharing his approach to being a successful quarterback. Eli isn’t. He’s selfish.
By all accounts, Alex Smith, on the other hand, was truly generous with Patrick Mahomes, to Mahomes’ benefit. That’s not Eli. He sees an opportunity for two more seasons, much to the detriment of the fans, and he’ll do all he can to make that happen. Hope you enjoy 5-11.
--Miami made a big splash in obtaining Arizona quarterback Josh Rosen for a second-round selection (No. 62 overall) this year and a fifth-rounder in 2020. I’m not a fan of Rosen, but...this is the perfect situation for him. He’ll have the opportunity to prove his detractors wrong, and maybe live to tell his kids about it because everyone knows that he couldn’t take the punishment in AZ much longer, with that atrocious offensive line. And as for No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray, good luck, son. You get the impression he’ll be running like 35 yards+ every play, with maybe only three of it being beyond the line of scrimmage....as in he’ll be scrambling for his life in the backfield.
In defense of the Cardinals, they used the second-round selection to take UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who rocketed up the draft board after opening eyes at the combine, let alone his sterling play on the field the past few campaigns.
But essentially just Isabella for the No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 draft, a member of the quarterback dream team? No wonder Cardinals GM Steve Keim is catching major heat.
As for the Dolphins, they clearly liked Rosen’s prospects over any quarterback in the first or second round outside of Murray and Daniel Jones, because Jones had gone sixth.
Rosen will start out behind journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick on the depth chart, but that’s not all bad. He’ll play.
And remember, as I wrote the other day, Rosen is costing the Dolphins only $6.24 million the next three seasons, an incredible bargain for a probable starting quarterback.
--Bits and Pieces:
Everyone has their own opinion of who made out best.
Steve Serby / New York Post
Patriots (particularly for WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State, and QB Jarrett Stidham, who could be heir apparent to Brady).
Eagles (for OT Andre Dillard and RB Miles Sanders)
Redskins (QB Dwayne Haskins, OLB Montez Sweat, WR Terry McLaurin, RB Bryce Love)
Jaguars (OLB Josh Allen, OT Jawaan Taylor)
Texans, 49ers, Colts, Chargers, Dolphins, Bills, Panthers, Browns
Serby was an easy grader...wish I had him in college. The Jets received an A-.
Serby handed his worst grade, ‘C’, to the Chiefs, Saints, and Bears; each of which didn’t have a first-round pick, the Bears also not having a second-rounder.
USA Today’s Nate Davis handed his top grade, ‘A’ to....
Cleveland (including the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. for a first rounder, plus snatching CB Greedy Williams and ILB Mack Wilson, potentially both immediate starters, and good ones); Miami, New England, and San Francisco.
Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Jacksonville, Washington.
Davis gave his worst grades to....
D+ ...Cincinnati, New Orleans
D- ...New York Giants... “They wound up with three first-round picks for the first time in franchise history...and it sure felt like ever-salty GM Dave Gettleman reached on every one of them – most notably Duke QB Daniel Jones at No. 6. CB Deandre Baker cost a second, fourth and fifth rounder. And, perhaps worst of all, DT Dexter Lawrence basically takes the roster spot of Odell Beckham Jr. Only the benefit of the doubt precludes an F for Gettleman and Co.”
I’m surprised neither Serby or Davis gave Pittsburgh a top grade. [Davis gave their draft a ‘B,’ Serby an ‘A-,’ which wasn’t top 12 on his scale.] Pittsburgh selected Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan; Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo; Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State; Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky; Zach Gentry, TE, Michigan; Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama. I love the Snell selection, but Mark R. says Gentry could be moved to OT, which is what they did decades ago with Gerry Mullins. You have to be old to remember this, and Mark and I are!
Ben Roethlisberger reached a new contract agreement with the Steelers, keeping him in Pittsburgh through the 2021 season. Big Ben, who turned 37 in March, led the NFL in passing yards for the first time last season, but he also finished with an NFL-high 16 interceptions.
With his past health issues, namely with concussions, I would have hoped for his sake he was out of the game, but the chances are now good that in his final appearance in 2021, he might appear a bit punch drunk.
--I love two of my Jets picks, the others the usual question marks we all have post-draft day. Alabama DT Quinnen Williams (No. 3) and West Virginia TE Trevon Wesco (No. 121).
--The Patriots got a winner in Alabama running back Damien Harris (No. 87).
--The Broncos have to be ecstatic with the selection of Missouri quarterback Drew Lock at No. 42 overall! when most had him mid- to late-first-round.
--How Oakland took Clelin Ferrell, DE/OLB, Clemson, at No. 4 overall and not Josh Allen is dumbfounding.
--Minnesota got a steal in Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. at No. 50.
--The Ravens have some new terrific talent for Lamar Jackson in receivers Marquise Brown of Oklahoma and Notre Dame’s Miles Boykin.
--Last Dec. 24, I wrote the following after watching Troy defeat Buffalo in a bowl game, 42-32.
“Note to Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson (two turnovers). You have NFL size and tools, but I hope whoever will be advising insists you stay in school for your senior year. You are in no way ready to play on Sundays.”
As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy while reading Bar Chat, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
You see, Tyree declared for the draft, and eleven quarterbacks were selected. He wasn’t one of them.
But...the Buffalo Bills snapped him up on a free-agent deal and this could work out.
Of course you might be wondering, why would Buffalo do this when they already have a similarly physical Josh Allen as their franchise QB, but because Jackson went to the University of Buffalo, the two had developed a relationship during Allen’s rookie season and, the way Allen plays, kind of recklessly, there’s nothing wrong with Jackson as a backup down the road, though he would be no better than third string this coming season. Good gamble by Buffalo nonetheless.
But Tyree, with a successful senior campaign back in school, could have been a first-rounder in the 2020 draft, with guaranteed $millions.
--Finally, in a draft-related item, the New York Giants selected Division II Washburn University cornerback Corey Ballentine in the sixth round; the last of three cornerbacks drafted by them.
So it seems Ballentine and a friend, Washburn teammate Dwane Simmons, a rising senior, were out celebrating in Topeka, Kansas, and Simmons was shot to death, Ballentine injured but expected to make a full recovery. He was the 2018 Cliff Harris Award winner as the small college defensive player of the year.
The last I saw, police said an investigation is ongoing.
--Clemson was the first school to place three defensive linemen (Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Lawrence) in the first round of the same draft.
--Nancy Armour / USA TODAY
“If the audiotape is legitimate, if Tyreek Hill really did physically abuse his son and threaten his fiancée, the Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver doesn’t belong in the NFL.
“A jail cell, a psychologist’s office or, better yet, both. But definitely not the NFL.
“A Kansas City TV station aired portions of a recording Thursday night that it said was of Hill and Crystal Espinal arguing about who caused their 3-year-old son’s injuries. The little boy suffered a broken arm and, Espinal can be heard on the recording telling Hill that their son said, ‘Daddy did it.’
“ ‘A 3-year-old’s not going to lie about what happened to his arm,’ Espinal says.
“USA TODAY Sports has not independently confirmed the tape, or that it is Hill and Espinal speaking on it. But on Wednesday, a Johnson County (Kan.) district attorney said he believed ‘a crime has occurred,’ and that his office was worried about the health and safety of Hill and Espinal’s son.
“And late Thursday, Chiefs GM Brett Veach said, according to the Kansas City Star: ‘Tyreek Hill will not take part in any team activities. ...We will make the right decision regarding (him).’
“No charges were filed, but only because the district attorney said he couldn’t determine whether it was Hill or Espinal who’d abused the boy.
“Let that sink in for a minute.
“And then recall that when Espinal was pregnant with this same child, she accused Hill of grabbing her around the neck, pinning her against a wall and then throwing her to the ground. Grabbing her by the hair and putting her in a headlock so tight she couldn’t breathe.
“When police saw her in the emergency room, Espinal had cuts and bruises on her neck and lips.
“ ‘I did something I shouldn’t have done,’ Hill acknowledged in court.
“And now it appears he’s done so again.
“On the tape, Hill denies abusing his son. But when Espinal tells him his son is ‘terrified’ of him, Hill responds, ‘You need to be terrified of me, too, dumb (expletive).’
“The NFL was already looking into Hill’s conduct, and Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN before the draft began Thursday night that he didn’t want to ‘rush to judgement.’ I realize it’s not security footage from an elevator, but if this audio recording is authenticated, Goodell can’t act fast enough.
“Hill needs to be banished from the league. Immediately. And the ban needs to be permanent so Jerry Jones or some other owner with a flexible conscience won’t find himself tempted when he’s in need of a wide receiver....
“A 3-year-old doesn’t belong in a hospital or the court system because of his father. And if that turns out to be the case, Hill no longer belongs in the NFL.”
As I go to post, Hill has been banned “indefinitely” until more is known.
--In college football, Clemson rewarded coach Dabo Swinney with a 10-year, $93 million extension on Friday, making it the largest deal in college football history. Swinney and Alabama’s Nick Saban now have the same average salary at $9.3 million per year over the course of their respective contracts.
Yes, this is absolutely obscene.
Swinney said in part in a statement: “With this contract, we make a collective statement that we intend to continue pursuing championships and developing total student-athletes for years to come. Our sustained continuity in vision, people and culture has been a key ingredient to our success, on- and off-the field.”
Swinney has a buyout the first two years at $4 million if he leaves for another head-coaching position, though its $6 million if he were to leave for Alabama over the next two. There is no buyout if he leaves for an NFL job.
--After missing a start due to a right elbow issue, reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom took the mound for the Mets Friday night at Citi Field, facing off against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The game started nearly 3 hours late due to rain, and deGrom got shelled, again, the Mets losing 10-2, deGrom yielding 5 runs in 4 innings.
So picture this. Picking up where he left off from his beyond spectacular 2018, deGrom threw 13 shutout innings in his first two starts of the season, both wins, striking out 24 and walking just two. In the second start, he tied Bob Gibson for the all-time record with his 26th consecutive quality star (six innings, three earned runs or less). Prior to the start of the season, deGrom had been rewarded with a huge contract extension.
But out of nowhere, his last three starts, all losses, deGrom has given up 14 earned in 13 innings, with 8 walks. He’s now 2-3, 4.85 ERA.
He swears his arm, and elbow, feel fine, and that his new catcher, Wilson Ramon, should bear no blame. DeGrom says it’s simply that his mechanics are all screwed up.
Well for crying out loud, Jake, fix ‘em!
Then Saturday, the Brewers won again, with Christian Yelich hitting his first home on the road, 8-6, as Noah Sydergaard sucked on his bobble head night.
Geezuz, ‘Thor’ blows thus far. One quality start in six! 1-3, 6.35.
So the Mets’ staff, which was supposed to be top five in baseball, especially with the starting corps, finished play Saturday with an ERA of 5.45, 27 out of 30 in baseball, worst in the National League. The bullpen, which was supposed to be greatly improved, is 28th with an ERA of 5.64. [Washington is last with a ghastly 7.34! Yikes!]
The Mets have committed 22 errors in their first 26 games, compared with 87 all of last season, which was middle of the pack in baseball.
So as the Mets prepared for the finale of their three-game set with Milwaukee Sunday, and I got ready for “Game of Thrones,” it is time to panic, though I initially thought I’d wait 40 games to do so.
But the Mets avoided the sweep, 5-2, as Steven Matz pitched a badly needed seven strong for the win. But Robinson Cano was hit on the hand and while X-rays were negative, there is some question as to the severity.
And Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich exited with a lower back issue. He’s batting .353 with 14 home runs and 34 RBIs. Yes, his home/away splits are kind of funny (13-29, HR/RBI, at home, 1-5 away), though it’s not as if he’s not hitting on the road at .296, he just likes home-cooking a little more. But it is something to follow closely this season, especially if the Brewers are playoff bound, as they should be, though they are currently 15-14.
--Meanwhile, that other team in New York, the Yankees, the one with all the starters on the Injured list, got one of them back this week, catcher Gary Sanchez, and after a shaky first game in a loss to the Angels, Thursday, he launched his first career grand slam in San Francisco Saturday, a mammoth 467-foot shot (the longest grand slam ever tracked by Statcast, since they started doing so in 2015), as the Yanks won 6-4, improving their mark on their nine-game Western swing to 5-1, despite all their issues. [Starter J.A. Happ with a very encouraging seven shutout innings for New York.]
--Prior to this season, the major league record for homers allowed before the end of April was 50 by the 1996 Detroit Tigers. Entering Friday, with five days left before the calendar turns to May, the Orioles’ staff had given up 59.
In all of baseball, entering Friday’s play, teams had already combined to hit a record 979 homers – an average of 1.32 per team-game. That’s 116 more than teams hit in April 2017, a season that would yield a record 6,105 homers. [Dave Sheinin / Washington Post]
So all baseball fans are thinking the same thing...what happens when the weather warms?
As for the reason why so many home runs are being hit, all together now, The Ball is Juiced!
--Max Scherzer struck out 10 Friday night over seven innings in a no-decision against the Padres. But in fanning 10 he recorded his 2,500th career strikeout, becoming the third-fastest to reach the plateau, based on innings, surpassed only by Randy Johnson, who did it in 2,107, while Pedro Martinez took 2,152 to hit the mark.
Scherzer is still just 1-3, 4.12, in six starts.
--Saturday, the Dodgers beat the Pirates 3-1 as Clayton Kershaw won his first of the season, going seven strong, no walks, eight strikeouts. All three of his starts have been of the ‘quality’ variety and he’s 1-0, 2.25 ERA.
But no doubt his velocity is down. He’s turned into a crafty veteran, that’s all. Of his eight strikeouts last night, only one was on a fastball (two on curveballs and five on sliders). It’s a great story if he’s truly reinvented himself.
Separately, Pittsburgh held Cody Bellinger to 0-for-3 at the plate, Bellinger still off to a .420 start, with 13 homers and 33 RBIs. Is Bellinger a legitimate triple-crown threat? Why not? True, he’s hit just .260 and .267 in his two full seasons, but at 23 he’s still maturing. Ditto Christian Yelich.
--Chris Sale, he of the massive contract extension that many blasted, is now 0-5, 6.30 ERA, after Boston’s 5-2 loss to the Rays (18-9) and Tyler Glasnow (5-0, 1.75). This is shocking, though to be fair, it was Sale’s best game yet, 7 innings, 2 earned...so there is some reason for optimism if you are a Boston fan, your team an equally shocking 11-17 after winning 108 games last season, plus the right to have another parade...a parade that makes us Mets and Jets fans very jealous.
If the Celtics and Bruins follow the BoSox and Patriots with parades, I will definitely commit hari-kari. Johnny Mac, make sure the sword is sent to the cleaners.
Glasnow, by the way, was 2-7, 4.27, last year for Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. Yes, I guess you could say we’re looking at a breakout season.
--Speaking of 5-0, Seattle’s Marco Gonzales is the same, 2.80 ERA, 9 walks in 45 innings. If you selected him for your fantasy team, have a premium. He was 13-9. 4.00 last season for the Mariners. Hey, he’s a Gonzaga dude!
--Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the second coming of Vlad Sr., started his major league career this weekend, going 1-for-4 in each of the three contests, with a double, including today when the Blue Jays (14-14, surprisingly) had an insane 5-4 win in eleven over Oakland (14-16). After the A’s scored 3 in the top of the eleventh, Toronto’s Brandon Drury hit a walk-off 3-run homer off Blake Treinen to tie it, the Blue Jays going on to win it in the same frame.
--Mark R., who lives outside Philadelphia, said the Boo Birds are already out when it comes to Bryce Harper.
After today’s 5-1 win over the Marlins (a predictable 8-20), Harper is at .250, though with power numbers, 6 homers, 20 RBIs, that translate to 30-35, 100+ ribbies, and you’d take that the next 8 years of his 13-year deal. His .910 OPS is better than his career average of .900. Ergo, what the hell. We all know he doesn’t deserve the contract he received, but he’s still one of the top 20 position players in the game, all things considered, and a gate attraction.
--Speaking of $300 million contracts, Manny Machado, after today’s 7-6 loss to the Nationals, is hitting .242 with 4 home runs and 12 RBIs, with an OPS of .714. Granted, his Padres are 16-12, but, err, this kind of blows.
--Back to the Brewers, startlingly, Jesus Aguilar, who hit .274 with 35 home runs and 108 RBIs last season, is off to a 9-for-73 start, .123, with zero home runs. That doesn’t seem possible. #ChrisDavis
--The Golden State Warriors were kind of shocked that their opening series against the Clippers had to go six, but then they took care of business Friday night in Los Angeles, 129-110, with Kevin Durant going off for a playoff career-high 50 points, 38 in the first half.
Durant had 45, then his career high, in Golden State’s 129-121 loss in Game 5.
For the Clippers, the exciting Lou Williams shot only 3 of 21 from the field for 8 points.
So the Warriors prepared to take on the Rockets in Oakland on Sunday, and Golden State prevailed, 104-100, as Durant had 35, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson playing despite being questionable the day before, while the Warriors held James Harden to 9 of 28 from the field (28 points).
Overall, like the Eastern Conference, the Western Conference ended up playing the first round to form, seeds 1-4 moving on.
(1) Golden State vs. (4) Houston
(2) Denver vs. (3) Portland...the Nuggets taking Game 7 against the Spurs last night, 90-86.
In the East, the Raptors whipped the 76ers in Game 1 of their second-round series in Toronto, 108-95, with Kawhi Leonard scoring 45 on 16 of 23 from the field, chipping in with 11 rebounds. Power forward Pascal Siakam added 29 (12 of 15 FG), while the two helped limit Joel Embiid to just 5 of 18 shooting and 16 points.
In Game 1 of the other Eastern Conference matchup, Boston at Milwaukee, this afternoon, the Celtics had an easy time of it on the road, 112-90, having an 88-71 lead after three. Boston held Giannia Antetokounmpo to a pedestrian 22 points on 7 of 21 from the field.
--Phil W. passed along this story about Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and his days at Winston-Salem State.
Connor O’Neill / Winston-Salem Journal
“When asked if it’s true that he had a tryout at N.C. Central and wasn’t taken onto the team, (Monroe) smiles and shakes his head.
“ ‘They’ve got so many stories of me, I’ve been to every school in the CIAA,’ the Winston-Salem State – and really, basketball in general – legend said Friday night.
“The truth was that Monroe and his childhood friend, Steve ‘Smitty’ Smith, boarded a train from Philadelphia to Winston-Salem in August 1963. They had never met Coach Clarence ‘Big House’ Gaines and, though they were under the impression of the opposite, they didn’t have scholarships waiting for them. When they arrived, picked up from the train station around 3 a.m., they went through a tryout of sorts and slept in a basement with the football team.
“But back to that train ride from Philadelphia. Along the way, in Washington D.C., Monroe and Smith were told to move from the front of the train to the back.
“Fast-forward a bit and by the early months of 1967, Monroe and his Winston-Salem State teammates had cultivated Winston-Salem into a city that could appreciate the heights they reached – regardless of race or social standing.
“ ‘What Earl did in this town was something beautiful to watch. He not only was a great player, but by the time of what these guys had done...The white community of Winston-Salem appreciated what they did as men, as people and what they represented,’ said Billy Packer, a former Wake Forest standout and assistant for the Deacons when Monroe was playing across town.
“ ‘And it was great to see the 1960s and watch what happened in that 10-year period of time that changed the entire way athletics were thought about, particularly in the way of basketball.’”
Packer was a speaker at an event in Winston-Salem Friday honoring Monroe, with Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan another.
Ryan said: “There are certain people that transcend statistics. They leave an aura. There was only one Earl Monroe, and I’m proud to be in the same room as him tonight.”
Monroe averaged 41.5 points per game for the 1966-67 championship team.
--Finally, we note the passing of Boston Celtics great and Hall of Famer John Havlicek, 79. I’ve told you how Phil W. and I sat behind him (and Bruce Jenner) at the Atlanta Olympics and Phil could only say the same thing that Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Friday, as a moment of silence prior to the Warriors-Clippers contest was held to honor Hondo. “He was such a good human being,” Rivers said. Phil and I would say, “What a nice man.” [We marveled at how we were able to chat with him like he was our next-door neighbor.]
Rivers: “Really, if you could model our players and how we wanted them to be – he was a fierce competitor, amazing humility, and he was a gentleman – if we could model all of us like that, we would be in a great place as a league.”
When Rivers took over as Celtics coach in 2004, he noted that the franchise’s legendary players didn’t come around or spend time with the team. He wanted to change that so he had the team extend invitations to every former player.
“The next day, John Havlicek walks into the gym and, in a typical John Havlicek way, walks up to me and introduced himself,” Rivers said. “He said, ‘Hi, I’m John Havlicek.’ Like I didn’t know. But that’s just who he was, and after that he was always around.”
[Rivers signed a contract extension to remain with the Clippers this weekend, though the length and terms weren’t disclosed. He led a Clippers team, picked by many to win 35 games, to 48 wins, and gave the Warriors a major test.]
John Havlicek, the all-time leading scorer in Boston Celtics history, played all 16 of his professional seasons in Beantown (1962-78), winning eight titles, appearing in 13 straight All-Star games, averaging 20.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and never appearing in less than 71 games in a season, playing all 82 in his final campaign, 1977-78, at age 37 (and averaging 16.1 ppg).
Havlicek led the league in minutes played, 45+ in both 1970-71 and 1971-72.
In 172 playoff games, Hondo averaged 22.0 points per game. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984 and was named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players as part of the league’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1996. He would still easily be top 50 today, probably top 25-30, which would be a good topic of discussion among friends at the beach this summer, over some drafts out of a keg plopped into the sand, but that’s me.
Born April 8, 1940, in Martins Ferry, Ohio, Havlicek would win an NCAA championship at Ohio State in 1960, playing with future Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas and Bobby Knight. He was nicknamed “Hondo” after the John Wayne western.
Boston selected Havlicek with the No. 7 pick in the 1962 NBA draft, joining Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and six other future Hall of Fame players for Red Auerbach’s Celtics and won a championship in his first season – the first of four in a row. In winning all eight NBA finals he appeared in, Havlicek’s Celtics won five of them over the Lakers.
Havlicek started out his career coming off the bench, once saying, “I figured there were nine teams in the league at the time – 45 starters. You couldn’t name all 45 starters. I said, ‘If I can become the best sixth man, everyone will know who I am.’”
Dan Shaughnessy / Boston Globe
“John Havlicek has died.
“And there goes part of your youth if you grew up in New England watching the Celtics in the 1960s and ‘70s.
“Havlicek scored more points than any other Celtic in history. That’s right. More than Larry Bird or Paul Pierce. He was the connecting tissue between Celtic dynasties. His rookie year was Bob Cousy’s final season (1962-63), and he retired just months before Red Auerbach drafted Bird out of Indiana State (1978)....
“Havlicek’s most famous moment came in the closing seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference championship when he preserved a victory with a dramatic steal of an inbounds pass thrown by the Philadelphia 76ers’ Hal Greer. Johnny Most’s iconic radio call – ‘Havlicek stole the ball!’ – became instant folklore throughout New England.”
The Celtics said in a statement:
“John Havlicek is one of the most accomplished players in Boston Celtics history, and the face of many of the franchise’s signature moments. He was a great champion both on the court and in the community, winning 8 NBA championships and an NBA Finals MVP, while holding Celtics career records for points scored and games played....His defining traits as a player were his relentless hustle and wholehearted commitment to team over self. He was extraordinarily thoughtful and generous, both on a personal level and for those in need, as illustrated by his commitment to raising money for The Genesis Foundation for Children for over three decades through his fishing tournament. John was kind and considerate, humble and gracious. He was a champion in every sense, and as we join his family, friends, and fans in mourning his loss, we are thankful for all the joy and inspiration he brought to us.”
Stanley Cup Playoffs
--The second-round series between the Stars and Blues, and Blue Jackets and Bruins, are tied up 1-1.
--The Islanders had a 10-day layoff after sweeping the Penguins in the first round, and it showed in New York’s round two opener against the Hurricanes on Friday in Brooklyn.
Carolina had dispatched of the defending champion Capitals in a Game 7, 4-3 in double-overtime thriller in Washington, Wednesday,* and they carried the momentum into Brooklyn, beating the Islanders 1-0 in OT, the Islanders rather listless.
*Carolina’s Justin Williams set up Brock McGinn’s game-winning goal, Williams being known as “Mr. Game 7” for his play in prior deciding contests...now 15 points in nine Game 7s, with a record of 8-1.
So the two squared off in Game 2 this afternoon and Carolina prevailed again for a 2-0 series lead, 2-1, New York now heading to Raleigh and fears of a sweep. The Islanders hit the post more than a few times.
Premier / Champions League
--The PL season is dwindling down to a precious few and it’s as close as ever for the title, and the final Champions League slots, though no one seems to want the latter with the recent play of Nos. 3-6.
Wednesday, at Old Trafford, Manchester City beat rival Manchester United, 2-0, while Wolverhampton dominated Arsenal 3-1, a huge help to my Tottenham Spurs in their bid to secure a top four.
But then Tottenham lost its first game at its new stadium, 1-0 to West Ham Saturday, in a case of pure fatigue, from all its intense Champions League and PL games of late (including two, back-to-back, against Man City).
And today, Arsenal lost again, this time 3-0 at the hands of Leicester (Jaime Vardy scoring twice), another huge break for Tottenham, and then Chelsea and Man U played to a 1-1 draw.
Man City regained the top spot with a 1-0 hard-fought win over Burnley on Sergio Aguero’s score at 62’.
So we have the 30th change at the top this season! Two games left....
1. Manchester City 36 (games) – 92 (points)...Leicester, Brighton last 2
2. Liverpool 36 – 91...Newcastle, Wolverhampton
3. Tottenham 36 – 70...lost 2 of last 3
4. Chelsea 36 – 68...loss, 2 draws
5. Arsenal 36 – 66...lost 3 in a row
6. Man U 36 – 65...lost 2, 1 draw
In the battle to avoid relegation, yesterday, Fulham, already relegated, won its third straight, handing Cardiff City a deadly blow, 1-0, while Brighton got a crucial point in drawing with Newcastle, 1-1.
17. Brighton 36 – 35
18. Cardiff 36 – 31
--Joshua Robinson has a piece in the Wall Street Journal on Ajax Amsterdam, the Cinderella story of the Champions League semifinals. Last July, it was just trying to win a qualifier, for a qualifier for a playoff that grants access to the 32-team Champions League and group stage. The Champions League final, at this point for Ajax, was 17 games away and now it’s just two, the two-leg semis against Tottenham that start Tuesday.
The thing about Ajax’ run is that the team’s average age is only 24, and along the way they have upset Real Madrid and Juventus.
But the reality is Ajax often loses its top players to the big boys, with 21-year-old wunderkind Frenkie de Jong already committed to Barcelona this summer for more than $80 million, while 19-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt could follow de Jong there.
So as Joshua Robinson notes:
“Ajax can’t do much about this, except charge as much money as possible for (their stars) on their way to a richer league. The club then takes that money and reinvests into its storied youth academy dubbed ‘De Toekomst’ – literally ‘The Future.’ It prefers to spend $20 million a year on that than gambling on outside talent.”
Ajax’s budget is smaller than that of the Premier League’s last-place finisher! The television dollars goes to a handful of domestic leagues and the Dutch Eredivisie is not one of them. Plus the Champions League money tends to end up enriching already wealthy teams.
Which is why Ajax is an easy team to root for. The starting lineup that Ajax put together to take down three-time defending champion Real, and then Juventus, cost just $55 million to assemble, or barely half of the $100 million Juve paid to sign Ronaldo alone last summer.
“The Dutch club is now the first team from outside the Big Five leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France) to reach the semifinals in 14 years.” Ajax last made the semis in 1997.
I know all of about two of you, if that, are NASCAR fans, but after the Mets game, I caught the last third of this week’s race at Talladega, and I’m tellin’ ya, it was terrific! Chase Elliott, the most popular driver on the circuit these days, after the retirement of Dale Jr., captured his fourth win (all in the last 25 races), with a crash with seven laps to go adding to the suspense, forcing a restart, and then another crash on the last lap, a rather spectacular one involving Kyle Larson.
Dr. W., in two years, we’re going there. Gotta have that motor home in the infield...but for five (my brother, his wife, and yours, the inestimable C.W.).
One must protect identities these days on the Web....thus the reason why I never sign this particular column.
For all you know I’m George Will.
And not for nuthin’, but I don’t give a damn about the PC crap. I love the Monster Energy Girls! [So I’m probably not George W.]
--The improbable team of Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm (it’s complicated) won the event at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans today, Palmer’s fourth official Tour victory, first since 2010, and Rahm’s third.
I have to admit I caught zero of this, but I’m looking forward to getting back into the action next week at the Wells Fargo, followed by the AT&T Byron Nelson, and then the PGA Championship at overrated Bethpage.
--James Holzhauer won his 17th straight “Jeopardy!” match on Friday night, his winnings of $49,600 bringing him to a grand total of $1,275,587.
--A Bengal tiger mauled an Arizona wildlife sanctuary director, seriously injuring him as he tried to move a group of big cats during a heavy thunderstorm this week, the sanctuary announced.
Jonathan Kraft, 73, a former Las Vegas illusionist who serves as the executive director of the Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in Valentine, suffered multiple wounds and two broken bones when the 11-year-old tiger, Bowie, suddenly snatched him and gripped him with his strong teeth Monday, the sanctuary said in a statement.
A thunderstorm was intensifying and out of concern for several large cats, including Bowie, Kraft took ‘unilateral action’ to move them out of the elements and to another location within the sanctuary.
The sanctuary said: “Jonathan made the decision to shift Bowie’s gates to allow him access to his den box area. During the process, the usually docile behaving Bowie exhibited unusual conduct by suddenly pushing the gates prior to Jonathan being able to secure the safety clips.”
Bowie lacks front claws, but he took advantage of his strong teeth to hold onto Kraft. Animal Care staff rushed to assist and somehow remove Kraft from the tiger’s grip without themselves being mauled.
Top 3 songs for the week 4/27/63: #1 “I Will Follow Him” (Little Peggy March) #2 “Can’t Get Used To Losing You” (Andy Williams) #3 “He’s So Fine” (The Chiffons)...and...#4 “Puff the Magic Dragon” (Peter, Paul & Mary...misfit from ‘Game of Thrones’ dragon school...) #5 “Baby Workout” (Jackie Wilson) #6 “Pipeline” (Chantay’s) #7 “Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad (About My Baby)” (The Cookies) #8 “Young Lovers” (Paul & Paula) #9 “On Broadway” (The Drifters) #10 “Watermelon Man” (Mongo Santamaria Band)
NFL Draft Quiz: Draft round....
Shannon Sharpe (Savannah State), seventh, Denver
Richard Dent (Tennessee State), eighth, Chicago
Johnny Unitas (Louisville), ninth, Pittsburgh
Roger Staubach (Navy), tenth, Dallas (of course he had his Naval commitment waiting first for him)
George Blanda (Kentucky), 12th, Chicago
So aside from the overused example of Tom Brady in the sixth round, there is indeed hope for a lot of the guys who went Saturday in, say, rounds six and seven.
Plus I know there will also be a lot of college free agents who make rosters, such as I imagine Wake Forest’s Greg Dortch and Alex Bachman. Dortch was taken as a free agent by the Jets! Bachman by the Rams, along with Wake running back Matt Colburn. And a couple of our other offensive lineman* will be getting shots, plus safety Cam Glenn.
I expect both Dortch and Bachman to make their teams (at least the practice squad). Bachman is a late-bloomer.
*Wake’s offensive lineman Phil Haynes was picked in the fourth round by Seattle.
1969 Mets, cont’d....
As the Cubbies came to Shea on April 25 to open a four-game series with the Mets, the standings in the NL East had....
St. Louis 6-9
Philadelphia 5-8...sorry, Mark R.
So April 25...the Cubs won the opener 3-1, Fergie Jenkins (3-1, 3.41) outdueling Tom Seaver (1-2, 2.79), Tom ‘Not So’ Terrific yielding solo home runs to Don Kessinger, Ron Santo, and Fergie.
April 26...the Mets were shelled 9-3, Don Cardwell and Al Jackson getting hit hard.
April 27...the Mets and Cubs split a doubleheader...Mets losing the first 8-6, with Seaver actually pitching in relief in the ninth. The Mets then avoided a 4-game sweep in taking the nightcap, 3-0, a combined shutout from Jim McAndrew (5 innings) and Tug McGraw (the last 4). Cleon Jones had a homer and the three RBI, Jones now hitting a league-leading .443!
But the Mets were 7-11, six games back of the 14-6 Cubbies; though us fans could take hope from something Casey Stengel once said when he was managing the Metropolitans.
“If I can get enough of my guys on those other teams and ruin them, too, then maybe we’ll have a chance to win a pennant.”
The Cubs have ex-Mets Dick Selma, Jim Hickman and Charlie Smith.
Tug McGraw, by the way, was living in a two-room trailer and he tried to park it at Shea Stadium, but city statutes prohibited this.
*Special thanks to Brad K. and Dan C. this week for their ongoing support. Dan, good luck to the Brewers.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday.