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Dog Still No. 1
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
NCAA Football Quiz: Washington State’s Anthony Gordon is on track for 5,500 passing yards, assuming the Cougars (4-4) qualify for a bowl game. Name the four quarterbacks in NCAA history (Div. I) to throw for 5,500 in a season. [One of them also holds the single season record for touchdown passes.] Answer below.
For good reason when the new All-Species List is posted (soon), ‘Dog’ will remain No. 1, buttressed by our wounded hero dog, name not declassified as yet (the Washington Examiner said it’s ‘Conan’), who leaped into the fray on Saturday as U.S. special forces raided a compound in Syria that led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State.
President Trump said on Sunday in his statement and then press conference that the dog “went into the tunnel” where Baghdadi killed himself with a suicide vest. “Our canine, as they call – I call it a dog, a beautiful dog, talented dog – was injured and brought back,” he said.
President Trump later tweeted a picture of the dog, though U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was tight-lipped about the identity.
“We’re not releasing the name of the dog right now. The dog is still in theater,” Milley said. “The dog, the canine, the military working dog, performed a tremendous service, as they all do, in a variety of situations.”
We do know the dog is a Belgian Malinois, the dog of choice in most special operations these days. Back in 2011, the Navy SEALs who took down Osama bin laden also utilized a Belgian Malinois named Cairo to sniff out potential bombs and, if necessary, attack enemy combatants.
Much more to come in the ASL post.
The Nationals dropped their third straight on Sunday night, 7-1, to the Astros and Gerrit Cole; the third straight in which the Nationals scored just a single run, the Nats 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position over the three losses. Max Scherzer was due to start for Washington but he had to be scratched due to neck and back spasms, and emergency replacement Joe Ross yielded two, 2-run homers in five innings.
It also didn’t help Sunday that home plate umpire Lance Barkskale had one awful ball-strike call after another, with replays and technology proving time and again the Nationals seemed to be screwed.
No, Washington deserved to lose regardless, but there were key calls in critical situations that could have changed the narrative.
As for Cole, who went seven innings, yielding the run on three hits, 9 Ks, it was a nice finish to his Astros career, as it would appear to be by all accounts, the free-agent to be on the verge of a minimum payday of $200 million.
Well, one team’s fan base in particular is already screaming for Cole, the Yankees’.
So on to Game 6, back in Houston.
Bob Nightengale / USA TODAY
“It was a day that cemented a pitcher’s legacy forever in Washington, D.C., as one of the toughest, baddest dudes in Washington Nationals history.
“A game that guaranteed we’ll see the ultimate drama, a pitcher who couldn’t even get out of bed two days ago, now being asked Wednesday to win the first World Series in the nation’s capital since 1924.
“A game that made a critical interference call nothing more than a footnote.
“A series that will be remembered for more than an executive’s expletive tirade that got him fired.
“Finally, the World Series theater everyone craved.
“The Nationals made it possible by winning 7-2 over the Houston Astros in a game that was upstaged by controversy, Nats manager Dave Martinez being ejected, and resurrected memories of first-base umpire Don Denkinger’s blown call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series.
“It was all forgotten by the time the Nats walked off the field, with all of the attention immediately turning to Max Scherzer, their three-time Cy Young winner, who’s scheduled to start Game 7.
“Scherzer, scratched from his Game 5 start on Sunday when he couldn’t even raise his right arm, traveled to Houston in a neck brace, threw on the side Tuesday afternoon, warned up during the game, and was ready to go....
“ ‘He’s good, he felt good...as of right now,’ Martinez said, ‘He’ll definitely start Game 7. Max will pitch until his neck decides he can’t pitch anymore.’
“And there will be no pitch count or limitations.”
Of course by game time, Scherzer’s condition could have changed, but for now we have our fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, we have the brilliance of Stephen Strasburg, who after giving up two runs in the first, shut the Astros down the next 7 1/3 in becoming the first pitcher in baseball history to go 5-0 in the postseason, 1.98 ERA (6-2, 1.46 lifetime).
Six games thus far. The Astros have outscored the Nats 19-3 in Washington. The Nats have outscored the ‘Stros 24-9 at Minute Maid Park. It’s the first time ever a visiting team has won every game in the Series.
As for Houston’s Justin Verlander, he went five innings, allowing three runs, including solo shots to Adam Eaton and Juan Soto in the fifth, making it 3-2 Nats. But while the future Hall of Famer is 14-5 in ALDS and ALCS play, he is now 0-6, 5.68 in his seven career World Series starts. Inexplicable.
So now it’s Scherzer vs. Zack Greinke, Gerrit Cole no doubt pitching an inning or two along the way for Houston, Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez potentially becoming big pieces for Washington.
While there will be plenty of time to talk about the offseason and the status of Cole, Strasburg and Rendon, boy, all three have done nothing but help their cause (Strasburg being able to opt out of his current contract, the other two free agents).
As for the controversy in the seventh last night, when home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook called Trea Turner out for interfering with pitcher Brad Peacock’s throw to first that got by Yuli Gurriel, a call that wasn’t overruled, thank god it proved to be moot when Anthony Rendon, one out later, hit a two-run homer off Will Harris that upped the Nats’ lead to 5-2. Yes, it was an atrocious call, and as we were told later, not even reviewable.
--The aforementioned Yankees fired longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild on Monday. He had been a mainstay of the Yankees’ staff since 2011 and had a year remaining on his contract.
Over his nine years the Yankees had the fourth-lowest ERA in the A.L.
But with his extensive experience working with Joe Girardi when he was managing the Yanks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rothschild next to Girardi now in Philly, Girardi speaking highly of him at the press conference introducing Girardi to the Phillies.
--The Pirates fired general manager Neal Huntington as their shakeup continues. Last week they fired president Frank Coonelly.
Huntington was GM 12 seasons and brought the Pirates back from futility, but after three playoffs (2013-15) where they lost in either the wild-card or NLDS, the team reverted to mediocrity.
The Pirates, who also fired manager Clint Hurdle at the end of the season, said they wouldn’t hire a replacement until they find a successor to Huntington.
The first College Football Playoff rankings won’t be released until Tuesday, Nov. 5, but it’s pretty much baked in the cake. We know Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and Clemson will comprise the top four. It’s the poll Nov. 12 that we’re all waiting for, after LSU-Alabama on Nov. 9.
As for the Heisman Trophy chase, because Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts lost to Kansas State (though it wasn’t necessarily his fault), I have to give the edge today to LSU’s Joe Burrow, who has completed a staggering 78.8% of his passes (205-260) for 2,805 yards, with 30 TD passes and just four interceptions. How he performs against ‘Bama obviously will be telling, ditto the Crimson Tide’s Tua Tagovailoa if he’s ready for Nov. 9.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said Tua was returning to practice today, Wednesday, but he isn’t ready to say Tua will be healthy enough for LSU.
Wednesday is ten days since Tagovailoa underwent a TightRope surgical procedure on his right ankle to repair a severe high ankle sprain. It’s the second time in 10 months that Tua has gone through the same process; the first of which saw him play against Oklahoma in last season’s CFP national semifinal 27 days after undergoing a similar procedure last December.
I have to move Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins to No. 4 in the Heisman race, ahead of teammate Justin Fields. Dobbins has 1,110 yards and a 7.2 average, with 163, 121, 172 and 177 in his last four games, all Big Ten opponents.
There’s also a lot of buzz now for Buckeye defensive end Chase Young, after his spectacular four sacks, five tackles for a loss, and two forced fumbles against Wisconsin on Saturday. He leads the country with 13.5 sacks and has forced five fumbles.
The all-time sacs record is 24 set by Terrell Suggs at Arizona State in 2002.
So I’d rank ‘em...
3. Tua...not enthusiastically
--Staying in college sports, the NCAA Board of Governors took the first step Tuesday toward allowing athletes to cash in on their fame, voting unanimously to clear the way for the amateur athletes to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.”
The largest governing body for college athletics in the U.S. realized that it “must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” the board said in a news release issued after the vote at Emory University in Atlanta.
The NCAA and its member schools now must figure out how to allow athletes to profit while still maintaining rules regarding amateurism. The board asked each of the NCAA’s three divisions to create the necessary new rules beginning immediately and have them in place no later than January 2021.
“The board is emphasizing that change must be consistent with the values of college sports and higher education and not turn student-athletes into employees of institutions,” said board chair Michael V. Drake.
A group of NCAA administrators have been exploring since May the ways in which athletes could be allowed to receive compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses.
The NCAA’s shift came a month after California passed a law that would make it illegal for NCAA schools in the state to prohibit college athletes from making money on such activities as endorsements, autograph signings and social media advertising.
California’s law goes into effect in 2023. More than a dozen states have followed with similar legislation; some are hoping to have laws in effect as soon as 2020. There is also a federal bill in the works that could prevent the NCAA and its member schools from restricting its athletes from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses to third-party buyers on the open market.
The NCAA has said state laws that differ from the national governing body’s rules could lead to athletes being declared ineligible or schools not being allowed to compete.
--The trade deadline was 4:00 p.m. Tuesday and suddenly, about four hours before, there was a story crossing that the Jets were trying to trade Le’Veon Bell.
The day before, the Jets and Giants pulled the trigger on the first-ever trade between the two franchises, the Jets sending defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the Giants for a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-rounder (which could become a fourth-round selection if Williams signs a long-term contract with the Giants as now expected).
Williams hasn’t been a star in his 4 ½ seasons with the Jets, but he’s been OK, including a 2016 Pro Bowl selection. He just hasn’t been a star befitting his sixth overall pick status in 2015. But he’s been durable, and that counts for a lot. I imagine a change of scenery will do him good (even if it’s the same stadium).
But, gosh, my Jets suck. Or as Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post wrote after I had posted Sunday:
“The Jets are a bad football team.
“This, of course, should not be considered breaking news following their sloppy 29-15 loss to the Jaguars Sunday at TIAA Bank Field that dropped them to 1-6 this season.
“But the Jets do nothing well. Name something – anything – they do well. Take all the time you need.
“The Jets don’t play offense well. They turn the ball over too often (three interceptions Sunday). They can’t protect the quarterback (Sam Darnold was sacked eight times). They can’t run the ball (Le’Veon Bell had 23 yards on nine carries).
“They don’t play defense well enough, with a maddening inability to get off the field on third downs (the Jaguars were 8 of 17 on third-down conversions, several of which were game-changing).
“They are penalized too often at the most critical moments – 10 penalties for 83 yards on this day.
“Their special teams don’t make enough plays to make a difference.
“Oh yes, and they don’t coach well.”
As I mentioned last time, you also have the case of Bell, a superb back who is being totally marginalized. Nine carries? Targeted on just five pass plays? This is nuts.
But now the Jets travel to Miami Sunday to play the “tanking-for-Tua” Dolphins, coach Adam Gase’s former team.
Meanwhile, I noted last chat that Jets fans are now wondering what they have in our supposed ‘franchise quarterback,’ Sam Darnold, who has seven interceptions that last two games! Just about every one of them inexcusable...high schoolish mistakes.
And the fact that Darnold, the third pick overall in 2018, was totally outplayed Sunday by sixth-round rookie pick Gardner Minshew adds to the angst.
Well, in the end Le’Veon wasn’t traded yesterday, nor was star safety Jamal Adams. For his part Adams was bitching up a storm (rare for him) that GM Joe Douglas went behind his back in shopping his services, after Adams told him, and coach Adam Gase, he wanted to stay with the team. For the first time, the highly-likable Adams is being a real jerk.
--The NFL has had problems with its marquee players, namely quarterbacks, getting injured the last few years in particular...like a Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Mahomes.
But it’s also a blow for the league when a defensive talent like J.J. Watt goes out for the season. Watt suffered a torn pectoral injury Sunday in Houston’s 27-24 win over Oakland.
Watt has been one of the key faces of the NFL for years, though after a sterling start to his career, 2011-2015, with double figures in sacks (20+ two times) from 2012-15, 5 first-team All-Pro nods (including 2018), starting all 16 five consecutive seasons, he has struggled to stay on the field.
“This game can be beautiful and it can also be brutal,” Watt wrote on Twitter. “Absolutely gutted that I won’t be able to finish the season with my guys and give the fans what they deserve. I truly love this game and can’t stand letting you guys down. Thank you for all of the thoughts & well-wishes.”
The Texans are 5-3, a half-game behind the Colts (5-2) in the AFC South.
--Monday night the Steelers (3-4) stayed relevant, if only for another week, beating the aforementioned “Tanking for Tua” Dolphins (0-7) 27-14, after falling behind 14-0, Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph overcoming the early boo-birds to rally the team.
Pittsburgh running back James Conner had 145 yards rushing on 23 carries, but left in the fourth quarter with his right arm in a sling, having suffered an AC joint (shoulder) injury.
Tiger Wins No. 82
Few could have expected Tiger Woods to tie Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour record after he notched win No. 79 at the Bridgestone Invitational in Aug. 2013. It was nothing but disaster for him after. Countless surgeries, self-inflicted wounds, short-game woes, missed cuts.
But he won The Tour Championship in 2018, then The Masters last spring to get to 81.
After winning another green jacket, though, Woods played sparingly, and save for a T-9 at The Memorial, played miserably, missing two cuts and withdrawing from a third. He hadn’t played since a T-37 at the BMW Championship in August, having another procedure on his left knee in the interim, until this week in Japan at the Zozo Championship.
But he jumped out to a lead with back-to-back 64s and never relinquished it, winning by three over Hideki Matsuyama and a strong field packed with the likes of Rory, JT, Schauffele, Woodland and Fleetwood.
Leading by three strokes entering the final round, as he was this week, Woods was 24 for 24 for his career. He was not going to be denied No. 82. [He is 46-2 when holding at least a share of the lead after 54 holes. 44-2 when holding it outright.]
So Tiger will get No. 83 at some point, but will it be a major? Why not. He’s three short of Jack’s 18.
As for his 82 wins...it’s really incredible to think his first was way back in 1996 at the Las Vegas Invitational.
Tiger had 46 wins in his 20s, 33 in his 30s, and now three in his 40s.
Tiger also has 18 World Golf Championships, with Dustin Johnson second with six.
Tiger has won at least five times 10 different seasons.
But he’s been selective in the tournaments he enters, having won at least five times at seven venues.
Tiger now has won his first event of the season eight times. 16 of Tiger’s 82 wins are in Florida. [Rickie Fowler has five wins for his entire career...just to throw that in.]
Tiger is 11-1 in playoffs, the only loss coming to Billy Mayfair at the 1998 Nissan Open.
So Tiger is going to turn 44 end of the year, but despite his recent issues, he’s still won three of his last 14 PGA Tour starts.
Tiger said after tying Snead, “The body can’t do what it used to but I can still think my way around the golf course.
“I know how to play and I was able to do that this week. There was a time if I didn’t know if I would play again so I am very appreciative.”
One thing Tiger is focused on is making the Olympic team. “I know some of my friends have made Olympic teams before in the past and they said it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ll be 44 and I don’t know if I have many more chances after that.”
--Separately, in the world of golf, CBS Sports did not renew the contract of Gary McCord. McCord didn’t hide his feelings, saying two years ago, Sean McManus, president of the network’s sports division, told him he could stay as long as he wanted.
“He said to me, ‘You’ve been here so long, when you want to go, you tell me.’ I don’t recall telling him that,” McCord noted with typical wryness after the story broke that his two-year option was not picked up, ending his 30-plus years at CBS.
“This is not how I would have preferred to see it end,” McCord said. “I’m going on 72. I’ve been doing this for 30-odd years. I knew I was coming to the end of the deal, but I was going to go out on my terms. That’s not happening now. Bottom line, they fired me.”
McCord began his career at CBS at the 1986 Memorial Tournament. He had an inkling what was coming down after he learned close friend and colleague Peter Kostis was also informed his option wasn’t being picked up, either.
McCord said McManus told him what he told Kostis, “‘We think CBS golf is getting a little stale, and we need to go in another direction.’ I’ve been called a lot of things, but one thing I’ve never been called is stale.”
Golf Digest said the network is going younger by making Trevor Immelman one of the new mainstays. Davis Love III, a close friend of golf producer Lance Barrow, could also be in the mix at select events, like the Masters.
McCord is most pissed he wasn’t given a chance to say goodbye to all his CBS teammates.
--Very strange that Brooklyn Nets management shared their thoughts on Kyrie Irving and his well-known mood swings in an extensive piece with ESPN. The Nets knew what they were getting when they signed Kyrie, but it’s almost as if the team is trying to alienate him three games into his four-year contract worth $136.4 million.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson tried to extinguish the fire at practice Tuesday, saying, “That (story) is completely false in my experience with him so far. It’s absolutely not true.
“I say I’m the moody one. I really am. I’m cranky, and I have my ups and downs. If there’s just natural human behavior where guys are up and down, that’s different. From my perspective, I just give Kyrie an A-plus on his consistency and his spirit. It’s been great.”
Well, this whole situation now bears watching.
--The Knicks won’t go winless in 2019-20. In what was an exciting game, due to the crowd’s energy and the energy on the court of Bobby Portis (28 points, 11 rebounds), the Knicks beat the Bulls 105-98 to move to 1-3. As I noted last time, one thing is clear...the Knicks made the right decision in selecting RJ Barrett. The kid is good. [20.5 ppg, 7.5 rebounds, and a maturity belying his rookie status.]
--After three games, the Rockets’ James Harden is 46 of 48 from the free throw line, but 18 of 63 from the field, 6 of 40 from three. Just funny. Harden had 40 points the other night, hitting 21 of 22 from the foul line, but 3 of 14 from downtown.
--The Breeders’ Cup is this weekend at Santa Anita and there is zero buzz surrounding it after what has been the most disastrous year in the sport in memory, starting with the disqualification at the Kentucky Derby of the apparent winner, and then endless deaths at the same Santa Anita Park where the sport’s season-ending celebration takes place.
I’m a decent race fan and I don’t even know who is in the Breeders’ Cup Classic [just looked...Code of Honor, Vino Rosso, and McKinzie are the favorites...like whoopty-damn-do.]
More importantly, because of the deaths at Santa Anita the sport is in serious danger of just disappearing, which would be a tragedy for sports fans, but also a huge blow economically in so many regions of the country.
Sunday, Santa Anita suffered its 36th death at the track since December 2018 (six in the last six weeks) when a 2-year-old filly was euthanized after injuring her foreleg during a race.
John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times had a report yesterday on the studies the Stronach Group, Santa Anita’s owner, have been undertaking responding to the crisis, enacting several reforms in medication usage and veterinarian care that will be used for the Breeders’ Cup races.
“But experts are concerned about a drug treatment for which there are no rules, one used on some horses before they start racing, that might lead to more breakdowns and serious injuries.
“In humans, bisphosophonates are used to treat osteoporosis. In young horses, they can alter the normal regeneration of bone and act as an analgesic – a pain reliever. And currently, their use cannot be traced.
“A horse that has been treated with these drugs and is going to sale as a yearling or 2-year-old will have radiographs that can hide any sign of sesamoiditis, an inflammation of one of the lower bones of the leg. Plus, the analgesic effect will additionally hide any signs of lameness. The horse will look completely healthy.
“ ‘It’s a ticking time bomb,’ said Dr. Dionne Benson, chief veterinary officer of the Stronach Group. ‘These medications keep me awake at night.’
“One of the many problems with these drugs – commonly sold under the names Osphos and Tildren – is that they are only detectable in the blood for about 30 days, sometimes slightly longer. Their usage can’t even be detected in necropsies. Yet their effect can be long-lasting.
“ ‘If the sale is in September, you’re administering it from February to April,’ said Dr. Mary Scollay, executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC). ‘Radiographs are taken 30 days out, so the treatment window is outside the window to detect.’
“How widespread the usage of these drugs is remains unclear.
“ ‘I don’t think we will ever know,’ Benson said, echoing a belief shared by Scollay....
“The drugs were approved for use in horses in 2014, but only for those 4 and older. They are used to treat navicular syndrome, an inflammation or degradation of the navicular bone in the front feet that can cause a horse to go lame.
“It’s the drug’s off-label use on young horses that has the equine medical community very concerned.
“ ‘These are medications for women with osteoporosis,’ Benson said. ‘We’re not talking about people who are running full speed or have an Olympic-level regimen. For the horse, these can be used to make them sound and comfortable in the pasture or trail riding. Those are the kind of things these drugs are appropriate for. I don’t think you use it to get a horse ready for competition.’”
One other thing. Normally the Classic is must-see TV for race fans each year, as is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which showcases 2-year-olds you are likely to see at the Kentucky Derby come next May. But they stupidly stretch out the Breeders’ Cup races over two days and the Juvenile is Friday, instead of Saturday. Dennis’ Moment and Bob Baffert’s Eight Rings appear to be the favorites.
--NCAA Men’s Division I Soccer Rankings (Coaches poll...thru games 10/28)
1. Washington (21)
2. Clemson (4)
3. Georgetown (1)
5. Stanford (1)
7. Wake Forest (down from No. 2)
8. St. John’s
9. Missouri State
By next week we’re into conference tournament play.
--A British tourist lost his foot and another suffered a serious leg injury in a shark attack Tuesday while snorkeling off Australia’s Whitsunday Islands, authorities said.
The shark first attacked one of the men’s feet, then it circled back and bit the other man in his calf, Queensland state officials said.
It was not immediately clear what species of shark perpetrated said attacks.
--HBO gave the go-ahead for a prequel series to the hit “Game of Thrones.” “House of the Dragon” will be set about 300 years before events in the original series.
What was confusing is the announcement came hours after another planned prequel, due to star Naomi Watts, was reportedly canceled.
House of the Dragon will tell the story of House Targaryen and the early days of Westeros. It will be co-produced by Game of Thrones author George RR Martin, Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik.
--For you New Jersey / Springsteen fans, I see that the Monmouth County Historical Association in Freehold has an exhibit, “Bruce Springsteen: His Hometown.” The show explores how a town best known for its colonial history gave rise to one of the greats in American rock and roll.
Freehold historian Kevin Coyne told the Wall Street Journal’s Michael T. Luongo, “A little piece of everything that has happened in America has happened here – colonial settlers, the Revolution, the Civil War, agricultural prosperity, the rise and fall of manufacturing, racial tensions, creeping suburbanization – all of it played out here. And Springsteen and his ancestors have been part of it at every stage.”
The exhibit runs through Sept. 2020 and features more than 150 objects, including a few from the Boss himself.
Top 3 songs for the week 10/28/78: #1 “Hot Child In The City” (Nick Gilder) #2 “You Needed Me” (Anne Murray) #3 “Reminiscing” (Little River Band)...and...#4 “MacArthur Park” (Donna Summer...just as bad as the Richard Harris version, which will have you wanting to blow your head off...) #5 “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’” (Kenny Loggins) #6 “Kiss You All Over” (Exile) #7 “Double Vision” (Foreigner) #8 “Love Is In The Air” (John Paul Young) #9 “How Much I Feel” (Ambrosia) #10 “Boogie Oogie Oogie” (A Taste Of Honey...fall semester my junior year at Wake...amazingly, still in school...)
NCAA Football Quiz Answer: Four quarterbacks to throw for 5,500 yards in a single season.
B.J. Symons 5,833 (13 games), Texas Tech, 2003
Graham Harrell 5,705 (13 games), Texas Tech, 2007...Mike Leach was coach for both
Case Keenum 5,671 (14 games), Houston, 2009
Case Keenum 5,631 (14 games), Houston, 2011
Colt Brennan 5,549 (14 games), Hawaii, 2006*
*Brennan also holds the record for touchdown passes in a season, 58, the same year.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.
And the new All-Species List is finally posted.