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Washington Headed to its First World Series
[Posted early Wed. a.m.]
World Series Quiz: Name the seven players since 1970 to have four or more home runs in a single World Series. Answer below.
Sunday night, I watched the Yanks-Astros’ Game 2 through seven innings before calling it a night, the score 2-2, Houston’s George Springer having tied it with a homer off reliever Adam Ottavino, Aaron Judge having earlier hit a two-run homer off Justin Verlander.
I then couldn’t sleep, woke up a little before 1:00 a.m. and went to the computer to check on the final score, only to see the game was heading to the bottom of the eleventh, still 2-2. You’d think I would have turned on the television at the moment, but, to be honest, I didn’t. Went back to bed...so missed Carlos Correa’s game-winner minutes later. But what I watched beforehand was electrifying playoff action.
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post
“It is harder to imagine a more perfect postseason baseball game than this one: tense and taut; two teams desperate for victory for different reasons; a howling, baying, pleading crowd that spent much of the night alternating between passing out and raining thunder.
“It was more perfect for the Astros, of course. Carlos Correa made it that way in the bottom of the 11th inning, launching the first pitch he saw from J.A. Happ over the right-field wall, an opposite-field blast that gave Houston a 3-2 win and delivers both teams back to New York with this best-of-seven AL Championship Series tied at a game apiece....
“For the Yankees, it wasn’t as devastating a loss as it could have been because they did what they came here to do on Saturday, clinching a split of these opening two games, taking away the home-field advantage. Still, it felt like the Astros were vulnerable so much of the night, even with Justin Verlander on the mound....
“Verlander started the game brilliantly, retiring the first nine Yankees in order, then surrendered a towering two-run blast to Aaron Judge in the fourth. By the sixth, tied at 2-2, he was tiring, and there were runners on first and second and two outs when Brett Gardner hit a sharp grounder to second that Jose Altuve booted.
“ ‘My first instinct,’ Verlander said, ‘was to say, ‘Crap!’’
“DJ LeMahieu came roaring around third base, urged home by third base coach Phil Nevin. Boone thought the ball bounded farther away than it did – ‘I thought it was an absolute send,’ Boone said – then saw Correa at short corral the ball, fire it home, and get LeMahieu by five steps. The Yankees never came quite so close again.”
It was a terrific play by Correa, and then he won it later with the blast.
It’s easy to forget what a superstar Correa can be, if he’d only stay on the field. The 25-year-old has played more than 110 games in only one of five seasons, 2016, having been named Rookie of the Year in 2015.
This year he hit 21 homers in just 280 at-bats, appearing in 75 games. But you saw on Sunday just what a game-changer, both at the plate and in the field, he can be.
So Tuesday afternoon it was on to Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, with all the forecasts calling for a rainout Wednesday, which while neither manager would admit it, no doubt influenced some of the pitching moves, especially for the Yanks.
The Yanks are built on relief pitching, while the Astros look for their top three starters, Verlander, Cole and Greinke, to go deep every time out. Two different philosophies. Which one will win out?
Tuesday it was Houston, 4-1, as the great Gerrit Cole threw seven shutout innings, gutting it out without his best stuff, yielding five walks which tied a career high, the Yankees letting him off the hook on a number of occasions, such as in their failure to cash in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first.
The Yankees left nine on base and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position; Didi Gregorious leaving five on, including with the bases filled in that fateful first.
Meanwhile, Yankee starter Luis Severino wasn’t awful, but he gave up solo shots in the first two innings to Jose Altuve and Josh Reddick, lasting 4 1/3 and the two runs.
But once again, Adam Ottavino failed, allowing a walk and hit to his lone two batters in the seventh, two eventually scoring to make it 4-0, New York managing just one run off the Astros’ bullpen.
It was a huge game in this series, as Cole, a beyond stunning 19-0 in his last 25 starts, 1.59 ERA, is set up for a Game 7 on regular rest at this point.
As for Giancarlo Stanton, he sat out a second straight game with a strained right quadriceps. The questions about his toughness are flooding the airwaves, especially after sitting out Game 3, though we were told he was available to pinch-hit.
But with a rainout a seeming certainty for today, it should be Masahiro Tanaka and Zack Greinke for Game 4 on regular rest.
And what will manager Aaron Boone do with catcher Gary Sanchez, 1-for-13 in the ALCS and 16-for-92, .174, for his brief postseason career? Boone insisted after Game 3 that he would not bench Sanchez for backup Austin Romine.
Stephen Strasburg and the Nats dominated Game 3 in Washington to take a 3-0 series lead, Monday, Strasburg with seven innings of one-run ball (0 earned), walking none, striking out 12, lowering his postseason ERA to 1.10 in seven games (six starts). [The only ones better, minimum six starts, are Sandy Koufax, 0.95, and Christy Mathewson, 1.06.]
Once again, Howie Kendrick provided the big bat, the 36-year-old with three doubles and four RBIs, while 35-year-old Ryan Zimmerman added two hits and two ribbies.
But the Nationals, in taking the first three, saw Anibal Sanchez go 7 2/3, one hit, no runs; Max Scherzer 7, 1 hit, no runs; and Strasburg, 7 innings, 0 earned. So 21 2/3 from the three, 0 earned runs. I’d call that a formula for success, St. Louis with just two runs in the three overall.
So we went to Game 4 Tuesday night, a chance for Washington to close it out and rest their starters an extra few days in preparation for facing the Yankees-Astros winner.
And the Nationals jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first inning off Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson, with the St. Louis defense contributing mightily to Hudson’s problems.
The Cardinals then showed some life after 30 innings of listless ball at the plate, scoring one run in the fourth and three in the fifth to cut the lead to 7-4, Washington starter Patrick Corbin leaving after five having struck out 12 in an otherwise dominating performance.
But you were thinking, hey, St. Louis has them where they want them, the Nationals’ bullpen needing to get 12 outs...and that’s what they did – Tanner Rainer, Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson slamming the door.
Washington is going to its first World Series, after starting the season 19-31. They became the ninth team in MLB history to make it to the postseason after being 12 under .500, and they now join the 2005 Astros, 1973 Mets, and 1914 Boston Braves as the only NL teams to make the World Series after being 12 games under.
You’ve now gotta like their chances against either Houston or New York. Scherzer and Strasburg are getting extra rest. It should be fun.
Monday night, the Packers rallied late to defeat the Lions in Green Bay, 23-22, as Mason Crosby nailed a 23-yard field goal as time expired for the win, Green Bay aided mightily by two illegal hands to the face penalties against Detroit’s Trey Flowers on the final drive, both of them on third down, and both bad calls.
Jamaal Williams had a big game for Green Bay, 14 carries for 104 yards, as well as four receptions for 32 and a touchdown, one of two TD passes from Aaron Rodgers.
The win kept the Packers atop the competitive NFC North.
Green Bay 5-1
The NFC West is kind of an early shocker because of the Rams’ three-game losing streak.
San Francisco 5-0
Los Angeles 3-3
Meanwhile, the NFC East blows.
Dallas and Philadelphia play this coming Sunday night.
New Orleans (5-1) and Carolina (4-2) are atop the NFC South, with Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Allen starring in fill-in roles for Drew Brees and Cam Newton.
Bridgewater has won four straight starts and Allen three. It seems that Teddy B. has been around forever, yet he’s still just 26 (turns 27 in November) and now reestablishing himself as a frontline starting QB.
But when it comes to Cam Newton, Phil W., who hails from Charlotte, was telling me the other day that how the Panthers handle the eventual return of Newton will be rather interesting, the team 4-0 under Allen after Newton lost the first two at home to start the season. Newton has actually lost eight in a row, going back to last year, while Allen is now 5-0 for his brief career.
Allen also has a 107.9 passer rating in his five starts, nine touchdown passes, zero interceptions. He’s actually the first NFL quarterback in history to win his first five starts without throwing an interception (although he has lost four fumbles).
As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy, while reading the Monday morning sports section, Nancy making him some scrambled eggs and bacon, ‘Not bad...not bad at all...’
So here’s the deal. The Panthers have a bye week coming up then head out to San Francisco for a game Oct. 27.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera has said the job is Newton’s when he’s ready, but that was before Allen continued with his sterling play.
Today Rivera is saying, “I’m not going to worry, speculate on anything until I have to address that. Until then, we’re going to stay in the now, focus on what we’re doing right now. Again, as far as I’m concerned, we’re just not going to deal with the question until it’s time.”
As Phil points out, Cam Newton won’t willingly give up his job and be a good soldier on the sideline, a la Eli Manning. He’ll be a royal pain in the ass.
So will the Panthers trade him ahead of the Oct. 29 deadline, as some are now saying, Newton an unrestricted free agent in 2021?
Or, will the Panthers cut him after this season and save a reported $19 million in cap space.
--The Rams are panicking with their three-game losing streak, trading cornerback Marcus Peters, a two-time Pro Bowler, to the Baltimore Ravens for linebacker Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 pick (said to be a fifth-rounder), after trading an undisclosed 2021 pick for Cleveland offensive lineman Austin Corbett.
But then the biggie came as the Rams acquired the Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey for first-round picks in 2020 and 2021 and a fourth-round pick in 2021, Ramsey one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks.
Ramsey has been a malcontent this season, earning $7.4 million, with the Jags exercising their fifth-year option which would pay him $13.7 million in 2020. The Rams through their moves have cleared cap space to pay him what he wants long term.
--The Tennessee Titans, 2-4, are opting to start Ryan Tannehill in place of Marcus Mariota this Sunday when they face the Los Angeles Chargers. Mariota was yanked after the first half in favor of Tannehill in their Week 6 shutout loss at Denver.
--But on the issue driving NFL fans crazy, here’s Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal.
“The NFL needs to get a grip on pass interference. If you watched the end of the Dallas-Jets joust, you saw the Cowboys march down the field in the closing minutes with what looked like one or two completions, plus 975 pass interference calls amid a hailstorm of yellow flags.
“It seems that league officials – shell-shocked by last season’s Saints-Rams playoff disaster, in which they missed a clear penalty – have no clear notion what to do around the topic of interference, and so every game becomes a bizarre interpretive dance around the topic. Allowing coaches to challenge pass interference calls (or non-calls) has only made the situation murkier. In Thursday’s Patriots-Giants game, the Giants challenged on what appeared to be clear contact, but lost the dispute – because, apparently, interference can only be called via replay if it turns out a player repeatedly hits his opponent with a steel chair, or eviscerates his debut novel in the New York Review of Books.
“I’m mildly confident this will be worked out – until the closing minutes of February’s Super Bowl, when this bewildering situation will rear its head again, and create a national outrage and two weeks of angry marching in the streets. Honestly, I can’t wait. I watched Washington play Miami. I have nothing better to do with my life.”
--Minnesota, at No. 20 in the AP, has its highest ranking since 2008 and travels to New Jersey to face Rutgers. Heh heh. Good seats available, Minny fans, though I apologize ahead of time for Newark Airport.
I meant to add last time that Appalachian State’s No. 24 AP ranking is their highest ever. Awesome for the future of the program, and should Boise State stumble, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that the Mountaineers grab the Group of Five, New Year’s Six bowl bid, though the likes of Cincinnati and SMU in the American Conference will also have something to say about that as well.
But while the schedule is putrid this coming weekend, it’s really all about LSU and Alabama on Nov. 9. The week before we also have Georgia and Florida for control of the SEC East and the eventual conference title matchup with ‘Bama or LSU. [We have no idea if Missouri is a serious contender in the East, both Georgia and Florida yet to face Mizzou.]
By the way, we still have three more weeks of play before the first College Football Playoff rankings come out, Tues. Nov. 5.
--The latest FCS (Div. IAA) Coaches Poll
1. North Dakota State (26) 6-0...as in unanimous
2. James Madison 6-1
3. South Dakota State 5-1
4. Kennesaw State 5-1
5. Weber State 4-2
6. Montana 5-1
7. Villanova 6-1
8. Furman 4-2
9. Nicholls 4-2
10. Illinois State 4-2
11. North Carolina A&T 4-1
16. Princeton 4-0
21. Dartmouth 4-0...Princeton v. Dartmouth, Nov. 9, at a neutral location, Yankee Stadium.
LeBron Steps In It
LeBron James fanned the NBA’s China controversy on Monday, saying Rockets GM Daryl Morey “wasn’t educated” when he tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
“I don’t want to get into a...feud with Daryl Morey,” James told reporters, “but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.
“So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually, so, just be careful what we tweet, what we say, what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, there can be a lot of negative that comes from that.”
It was James’ first public response to Morey since the GM set off an international crisis earlier in the month when he tweeted, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
James’ Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets were in China this past week, with multiple news conferences and other events scrapped by the Chinese government in the lead-up to the preseason games that were being played.
James added: “I’m not here to judge how the league handled the situation. I think that, when you’re misinformed or not educated about something, and I’m just talking about the tweet itself, you never know the ramifications that can happen and we all see what that did. Not only did for our league, for all of us in America, for people in China as well. Sometimes you have to think through things that you say that may cause harm to not only for yourself, but for the majority of people. I think that’s just a prime example of that.”
Count me among those outraged by James’ take. The backlash overall was swift.
Dan Wolken / USA TODAY
“On behalf of the 327 million American citizens who generally believe that freedom is good and authoritarian regimes are less good, let me apologize to LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“It must have been a real inconvenience to take that 13-hour chartered flight to China last week and hang around a luxury hotel in Shanghai for five days while promotional appearances got canceled. Surely it was awful to be in the middle of an international firestorm where the stakes were so high: Would preseason NBA games be played or not?
“And to think, LeBron and his teammates were so disrupted all because Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had the temerity to send a relatively anodyne tweet supporting a protest that pretty much every one of his countrymen – whether on the left or right side of the political spectrum – would agree with over the rights Hong Kongers were promised when the United Kingdom handed control of the territory over to China in 1997.
“Because, as James tweeted on Monday night, trying to clarify comments he made to the media earlier in the evening: ‘My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it.’
“Right on, LeBron. Millions in Hong Kong are fearful that their entire way of life is about to change, and thousands upon thousands of protesters are risking their lives to make a stand for their freedom and their future. Why would Morey think about them when your preseason vacation and your account is at stake? How selfish of him.
“If only Morey had done what you did Monday, LeBron, and tacitly admit that the only thing that really matters is your ability to sell shoes and market ‘Space Jam 2’ in a country of 1.4 billion, we could have had an intellectually honest discussion about doing business in China and the cost of free speech in a country where only propaganda is tolerated.
“The problem, LeBron, is that you’ve helped construct a world in which NBA players have been incentivized to criticize our leaders and our government here at home. And there’s nothing wrong with that, by the way. It’s part of who we are, and there’s a large segment of people who agree with you when you call President Donald Trump ‘u bum’ on Twitter and say that going to the White House as an NBA champion used to be a great honor ‘until you showed up’ as you did on Sept. 23, 2017.
“But when you go that hard at our own elected officials, LeBron, it is difficult to reconcile that with the idea that China of all countries should be above reproach for anyone who works in the NBA.
“And make no mistake, LeBron, that’s exactly what you were suggesting on Monday when you criticized Morey for not giving any consideration to ‘the consequences and ramifications of the tweet’ while making it clear you didn’t want to discuss the substance of what he was saying.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, LeBron, but we really didn’t need you to point that out to us. I think we all understand that when Morey hit the send button, he wasn’t thinking that this would cause an international incident and potentially jeopardize billion-dollar deals.
“The thing is, LeBron, we’ve come to expect more of you. You’re obviously an intelligent person, a compassionate person and a socially conscious person. At this point in your life and career, it’s part of your brand. But to present that face to an American audience while essentially admitting that all you care about when it comes to the rest of the world is cashing those big checks – well, let’s just say it doesn’t look very good on you....
“Surely you are aware of this, LeBron, but in the United States it’s considered a good thing to exercise your freedom of expression in support of a just cause because you’ve done that yourself on numerous occasions.
“Not supporting other Americans who exercise that same freedom because it might personally inconvenience you for a few days overseas, LeBron, is without question the most disgraceful moment of your career.”
Helen Elliott / Los Angeles Times
“A few minutes after LeBron James said social media isn’t always the best place to express political opinions, he resorted to social media to clarify what he professed he had really meant in his first comments since the Lakers’ return from a tension-filled trip to China.
“But James’ tweets Monday evening did little to illuminate anything except that he still blames Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for costing him and other players money as a result of the activities and business opportunities that were canceled as part of the backlash against Morey’s tweeted support of anti-Chinese government protests in Hong Kong....
“Don’t underestimate the extent of players’ concern about Morey’s tweet costing them money. Business was at the top of the agenda for the China trip for the league and for players whose shoes, jerseys and images are coveted there. James made that clear....
“(James) repeatedly mentioned the potential negative impacts of freedom of speech. He didn’t mention the positive impacts, some of which have changed the course of nations and the world. The NBA is calculating the cost of freedom and the cost of doing business and it hasn’t decided which side of the ledger will win out.”
The Houston Open was just wrapping up as I posted last time so wasn’t able to talk about the winner, Lanto Griffin, another who picked up his first PGA Tour victory this fall wraparound season. Two years ago, the 31-year-old Californian whiffed on his first shot at the big time, with just one top 25 in 26 events during the 2017-2018 season.
But this fall, having graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour, Lanto came into Houston with four top 20s in four events, and then he prevailed last weekend in Houston to secure a one-shot victory over fellow Korn Ferry grads Scott Harrington and Mark Hubbard, needing a clutch six-foot par putt on the final hole to do so.
So now the strict vegetarian (save for pepperoni on his pizza), has earned a spot in next spring’s Masters.
As for the name, Dave Shedloski had the following in Golfworld.
“When your hippy parents name you after a spiritual master – and not just any master but Lord Lanto, an ‘ascended master,’ a Chohan of the Second Ray of Illumination, or less formally, the Lord of Light – you sure as hell better figure out how to be all masterly in your given pursuit before your own ascension into the fifth or sixth dimension or some other spiritual destination.”
And for one week Lanto has.
--The Tour now heads overseas for the CJ Cup in South Korea, then a new event in Japan, followed by the WGC tournament in Shanghai (with a parallel Tour stop in Bermuda that week, which I am very much looking forward to, beautiful Port Royal GC).
The fields are going to be much better than what we’ve seen thus far this fall, but the time difference doesn’t help in terms of following the action.
In this week’s event in Japan, there is a chance Phil Mickelson will drop out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since Nov. 1993!
Mickelson, since his win last February at Pebble Beach in the AT&T Pro-Am, has just three top 40 finishes in 18 starts.
--It hasn’t been a scintillating start to the 2019-20 season, what with first-time winners Joaquin Niemann, Sebastian Munoz, and Lanto Griffin, the exceptions being Cameron Champ (second win) and Kevin Na (fourth).
But then that is what the Fall season can be, a launching point for so many careers, and certainly in the case of Niemann in particular, you expect a lot more from the kid in the coming years.
--One of my favorite NASCAR races is when the circuit goes to Talladega Superspeedway and this time proved to be probably the best race of the year in terms of pure entertainment value. The problem was only 57 of the 180 laps were completed when the rains came Sunday, which meant the rest of it was run on Monday afternoon, which was great for some of us, but not for the masses.
To see these guys going all out at 200 mph is amazing, the margin for error zero, and in the end, Ryan Blaney won it over Ryan Newman by literally a nose. Blaney was the leader on a restart with two laps remaining and received a huge push from Ford teammate Aric Almirola to take the lead, only to have Newman charging from the outside, moving ahead of Blaney.
But then Blaney pulled alongside Newman and the two raced side by side (door-to-door) to the finish line.
This coming week at Kansas Speedway will see the playoff field reduced from 12 to 8 for the final four races in the Race for the Cup, Blaney and Kyle Larson the only two assured of moving on.
--J.R. Radcliffe / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“ ‘The whole country has waited for it.’
“It’s a line taken from the broadcast of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s first game in the NBA on Oct. 18, 1969 – an event approaching its 50th anniversary. Then known as Lew Alcindor, the 7-2 superstar out of UCLA scored 29 points with 12 rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks for the Milwaukee Bucks in a 119-110 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
“You would have been hard-pressed to pick up a newspaper in the first months of 1969 without seeing the name Lew Alcindor written somewhere therein. He was the talk of the country, and certainly Milwuakee, as the Bucks anxiously waited to see if they would win the coin flip that would net the team the No. 1 pick to draft the generational talent, followed by the wide-eyed thrill of landing him.
“The first basket: An early turnaround jumper on his first shot that marked the first two of his 38,387 career points, still the most in NBA history. He helped bring Milwaukee its only NBA championship two years later.”
Top 3 songs for the week 10/19/74: #1 “Nothing From Nothing” (Billy Preston) #2 “Then Came You” (Dionne Warwick & Spinners) #3 “You Haven’t Done Nothin” (Stevie Wonder)...and...#4 “I Honestly Love You” (Olivia Newton-John) #5 “Jazzman” (Carole King) #6 “The Bitch Is Back” (Elton John) #7 “Never My Love” (Blue Swede) #8 “Can’t Get Enough” (Bad Company) #9 “Steppin’ Out (Gonna Boogie Tonight)” (Tony Orlando & Dawn) #10 “Love Me For A Reason” (The Osmonds...the week gets a ‘B’...)
World Series Quiz Answer: Seven to hit four or more HRs in a single World Series since 1970.
George Springer, 5, 2017
Chase Utley, 5, 2009
Reggie Jackson, 5, 1977
Barry Bonds, 4, 2002
Lenny Dykstra, 4, 1993
Willie Aikens, 4, 1980
Gene Tenace, 4, 1972
Next Bar Chat, Monday.