|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
Mets Are Coming Up Small
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
NFL Quiz: Name the nine quarterbacks to throw for 40 touchdown passes in a season. Answer below.
--The Mets squared off against the Cubs Tuesday night at Citi Field in the first of three critical contests; Chicago two up on the Mets, one up on the Phillies, for the second wild card.
The Mets have gone 27-13 since the All-Star break to become relevant, but another way of looking it is they have gone 6-7 their last 13.
The pitching has been fine this recent stretch, but the likes of Todd Frazier, who has been playing every day, aren’t getting it done, Frazier entering Tuesday’s contest hitting .165 for August (14-for-85).
So last night the Mets laid another egg, falling 5-2 to Chicago, three games back in the wild card. Pete Alonso cracked his franchise record 42nd home run in the fourth for a 1-0 lead. A huge accomplishment for the Polar Bear, but the excitement was short-lived.
Starter Marcus Stroman is now 5-for-5 in failing to register a quality start as a Met, yielding two, two-run homers in his six innings (though the Mets had actually won Stroman’s first four).
And the Mets have scored just 11 runs in the past five games. 10-for-64 with men on base.
It’s pretty simple. The Mets need to win the next two, with Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom on the mound.
I do have to note that the Cubs’ Yu Darvish (5-6) was outstanding last night, going eight innings for the first time in years, a very encouraging sign for the Cubs and the postseason should they advance.
--The Phils’ Rhys Hoskins botched an easy catch that cost the Phillies a big game in their wild-card chase last night; Hoskins inexplicably flubbing a routine throw in the ninth inning, turning what appeared to be an inning-ending double play into the go-ahead run for the Pirates in their 5-4 win in Philadelphia.
To compound matters, especially in terms of the boos being rained down on him, is the fact Hoskins entered the game hitting .164 since the All-Star break.
Phillies fans have been particularly surly of late. I’m not wearing Mets garb when I show up there Saturday. Neutral gray will be the call. “Hey, are you a Mets fan?!” “Ah, ah, I’m Canadian!”
--N.L. Wild Card Standings....
Washington 73-58... +3
Chicago 70-61... ---
Philadelphia 68-63... 2
Mets 67-64... 3
Milwaukee 67-65... 3.5
Arizona 67-66... 4
A.L. Wild Card Standings....
Cleveland 77-55... +0.5
Oakland 76-55... ---
Tampa Bay 76-57... 1
--Phil W. (and Johnny Mac) and others have told me how painful it is for a Mets fan who is down south to have to listen to the Braves’ Chip Caray. For example, this past weekend for the Mets-Braves, Phil said that Caray pointed out how he had never remembered a first-place team with so many injuries and roster changes as the Braves, Phil guessing Caray had never heard of the Yankees. “That’s what I get for every once in a while unmuting the game.”
Every day in the Star-Ledger here in New Jersey they have a piece on the latest on the injury front for the Yanks. There has truly never been a team with more key starters out than New York this season. All you need to know is one stat.
Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez have been in the same lineup together just five games this season.
Through Monday, the Yankees were 86-47...133 games.
But Sanchez had played in 92, Judge 76, Didi Gregorius 59, Aaron Hicks 59, Miguel Andujar 12, Stanton 9. They were all supposed to be everyday players for the Yanks this season.
First baseman Luke Voit has missed scores of games and played in just 94.
Only Gleyber Torres, at 122, is a guy penciled in as an everyday starter who has held up.
DJ LeMahieu was supposed to be a classic utility player, getting 2 or 3 starts a week, somewhere, and instead he has been a critical mainstay (119 games).
And of course on the pitching side, the Yanks have been without the man who was supposed to be their No. 1 starter, Luis Severino, as well as key reliever Dellin Betances, all year. Both are likely to make it back by season’s end, but may not be factors in the postseason.
So what the Yanks have done is one of the more amazing baseball stories of recent vintage. Someone remind Chip Caray of that. [The Braves’ injuries to Swanson, Markakis, McCann and Inciarte, which while obviously significant, are relatively recent and in no way compare to the Yanks’ absences.]
Separately, in the Yanks’ 7-0 win over the Mariners in Seattle last night, Aaron Judge became the third-fastest player in baseball history to reach 100 home runs, trailing only Ryan Howard and teammate Gary Sanchez. Masahiro Tanaka threw seven scoreless, and is now 8-0, 1.89 ERA, in 10 career starts against Seattle.
So the Yanks’ front three for the playoffs is well established at this point with Tanaka, James Paxton, and Domingo German.
--Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal points out a remarkable fact. The Houston Astros have a chance to do something that has not been accomplished since batters’ strikeouts were first tracked MLB-wide in 1913. They entered Tuesday with the most strikeouts in the major leagues from the mound and the fewest strikeouts in the majors at the plate.
A rather powerful combination. But not a total surprise from this data-driven front office.
Seeing the Astros’ roster, it isn’t difficult to figure out what they’re looking for. In the past two years alone, they’ve traded for Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander to anchor their starting rotation, the two ranking first and second in the majors in strikeouts.
“Across MLB, players strike out in around 23% of their plate appearances. Almost all of the Astros’ regulars whiff less than that, with five of them – Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve – possessing a strikeout rate of less than 15%. Brantley has struck out barely 10% of the time in his career, a significant factor in why the Astros gave him a two-year, $32 million contract this off-season.”
The Astros want their pitchers going for strikeouts, with GM Jeff Luhnow calling it “The best possible outcome” for a pitcher. Balls in play can lead to defensive errors, bloop hits and other fluky occurrences. Not so with strikeouts.
NFL...Andrew Luck Fallout, cont’d....
--Bill Barnwell / ESPN.com
“It’s not hyperbole: Andrew Luck’s stunning decision to move on from the NFL is the most Shocking retirement American pro sports has seen since Michael Jordan left the NBA in 1993. The circumstances are obviously different, and we’ve seen players such as Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson leave the game earlier than anybody else would have expected, but 29-year-old quarterbacks in the prime of their careers just don’t give up and leave. This isn’t just a franchise-altering decision. It alters the entire complexion of the NFL.
“To put this in context by Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, there have been two players in NFL history who have posted a better season in their final NFL campaign than the Indianapolis Colts quarterback and then retired by their choice before turning 30. One is former Vikings running back Robert Smith, who ran for 1,521 yards at age 28 before moving on. The other is Jim Brown. No quarterback has made the Pro Bowl in a season during his 20s and then immediately retired since Johnny Lujack, and if that name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because Lujack retired in 1952.
“There are players who retired before turning 30 after serious injuries, and perhaps it’s unfair to leave Luck out of that group. He played through a shoulder injury in 2015 and 2016 before missing all of the 2017 season after undergoing surgery, and while Luck was excellent upon his return in 2018, he has struggled with a calf injury all offseason. In both cases, the organization expected him to return in a matter of weeks. In both cases, again, Luck’s body didn’t respond the way either he or the team expected. He was facing down another uncertain rehabilitation of an injury that seemed to linger months after it should have gone away. Some players have bodies that tell them it’s time to give up the game in their mid-30s. Luck’s body gave way years earlier.
“Even given the prospect of Luck missing regular-season action with an injury that had seemed to transform into a high ankle sprain, the Colts couldn’t have expected that he would decide to leave the sport. Luck had talked about being scared of his future in football while recovering from that shoulder surgery in 2017, and every player deals with both mental and physical exhaustion from playing in the NFL, but few have the privilege and power to leave on their terms. Luck had both and is moving on. The Colts now have to deal with the repercussions.”
After Luck’s announcement, the odds of Indianapolis winning the Super Bowl went from 12-1 to 30-1 at Caesars Sportsbook. As I noted last time, Sports Illustrated had the Colts in the AFC title game. The Colts now have to move forward with quarterback Jacoby Brissett. [Hey, Phil W. Wolford could end up in Indy, eventually.]
Tom Brady said of Luck’s decision: “It is his life. Everyone has the right to choose what they want to do. He had a great career and he was a great player. Everybody wishes they could be healthy all the time. It is a contact sport and he’s certainly had his fair share of injuries, so guys retire at different times. Some at the end of the season, and I have seen a lot of guys retire before the season gets going and this is just one of those examples.”
Troy Aikman, who had his share of concussion issues, tweeted: “What qualifies you to decide how someone should live their life?”
Bo Jackson backed Aikman, while also offering his support for Luck Monday evening. Like Luck, injuries forced Jackson out of football before his 30th birthday.
“I stand behind @TroyAikman and every word he said,” Jackson tweeted. “Don’t criticize a man until you’ve worn his cleats. If you’ve never strapped on the pads you have no business commenting on something you know nothing about.”
Classy Larry Fitzgerald tweeted: “Wishing Andrew nothing but the best in this transition... whatever you decide to do, let your boy Fitz know, because I know it will be big.
“If you’re looking to use your architecture degree, let’s collaborate on something.”
But Fox Sports 1’s Doug Gottlieb called Luck’s retirement decision “the most millennial thing ever.” Troy Aikman (a fellow Fox Sports employee) called Gottlieb’s tweet “total bulls---.”
“What qualifies you to decide how someone should live their life? So you’re now the authority on what motivates Andrew Luck? And if his decisions don’t fit into what you think is best for him then you rip him? Guess that keeps you employed on FS1. Nice,” Aikman wrote.
But Steve Beuerlein, a journeyman quarterback for six NFL teams over his 14-year NFL career who now works for CBS Sports Network, wrote on Twitter that Luck let everyone down and that it was “just a lower leg injury.”
“I am a HUGE #AndrewLuck fan...always have been. But this I cannot defend or justify. NO scenario where retirement is defensible. To do this to his teammates, organization, fans, and the NFL 2 weeks before the season is just not right. I love the guy but this will haunt him,” he wrote.
“Point is this is a massive decision he SAID he has pondered for 10 DAYS! #Colts invested in him for 5-10 more YRS! Go on IR, get away for a few weeks and think about it. Get healthy for 2nd half of season and make a run! #Colts are good! If #Jacoby goes 4-4 they have a chance!
“His team needs him to make this run. I know rehab is tough. I had 19 surgeries as a player... 8 over 2 years. It sucks! But he owes it to his team. It is just a lower leg injury and it will heal! Just give it a chance. If it doesn’t walk away after this year.”
ESPN’s Chris Mortenson reported that other former NFL quarterbacks had thoughts lining up with Beuerlein’s.
Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal
“To watch Andrew Luck speak Saturday night, at a hastily-assembled retirement press conference in Indianapolis, was to witness a man unburdened. The news of his decision to abruptly leave the NFL at age 29 may have shocked some, but Luck did not seem tormented by his choice. He was subdued, tearful at times, but he also appeared relieved.
“ ‘It’s sad,’ Luck said, before adding: ‘But I also have a lot of clarity.’
“He is leaving football because football ground him down. Like so many who play it, Luck – one of the game’s best quarterbacks – had given football a good deal of his physical well-being. According to The Athletic’s Colts reporter Zak Keefer, Luck, over the six seasons of his pro career, had suffered ‘torn cartilage in two ribs, a partially torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney, at least one concussion, a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder,’ and most recently, a calf and ankle injury, which had kept him out of the team’s preseason action.
“It was a hellish inventory. But the medical particulars were just part of it. Luck had also grown overwhelmed by the soul-crushing cycle of injury and rehabilitation. – the arduous process of recovering from pain, or at least recovering enough of the pain to get out there and risk damage again. He’d been to that awful, mentally-draining spot before – it had made him miserable, he said – and back then it had almost made him quit. He did not want to go there again.
“ ‘It’s been unrelenting,’ he said. ‘I felt stuck in it. The only way I see out is to no longer play football. It’s taken my joy of this game away.’
“With what we know about football, and what we continue to learn, it is hard to argue with the long-term wisdom of Luck’s choice. Football conditions its audience to expect cartoonish warriors, lifting broken bodies and brains off the turf, but what Luck is doing here is the rational move. He knows all the stories of retired players living in physical and mental anguish; as the son of an NFL quarterback, he probably knows more of them than we do. He could not predict what football would do to him next, so he is walking away before it could do any more....
“ ‘I feel tired,’ Luck said. ‘Not just tired in the physical sense.’
“But now he had clarity. It was the correct move. It was time for Andrew Luck to see what’s next.”
But the timing was poor, to say the least. I’m sorry, I understand the reaction of those in the stands at the Colts-Bears preseason game Saturday night in Indy as news broke Luck was retiring. Imagine you have shelled out good money for this worthless contest (because to get a season ticket you are forced to cough up for the exhibition contests), and your star, the guy you are pinning your 2019 hopes on, suddenly retires. You’d be pissed.
Aaron Rodgers said of the fan reaction that he understood that was a “little disgust, maybe, at the way that it was handled. Him getting booed, the word leaking out the way that it did, I thought that was a little disgusting, because here’s a guy who’s making a quality-of-life decision.”
The Colts allowed Luck to keep the $24.8 million in signing bonuses they could have recouped amid his retirement, many of whom speculate as a plan to entice him to unretire at some point.
Luck earned just over $97 million from the Colts during his seven-year career.
--Rob Gronkowski spoke of his decision to retire on Tuesday, the remarks coming at an announcement that he will be a spokesman/advocate for players to be allowed to use CBD products for pain relief. Gronk said that “physically, I could play right now” but added he is not there mentally.
Gronkowski detailed how he sustained a quad injury in Super Bowl LIII, and he knew that he was retiring after that.
“I got done with the game and I could barely walk,” he said. “I slept five minutes that night. I couldn’t even think. I was in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory. It didn’t make that much sense to me. And then, for four weeks, I couldn’t even sleep for more than 20 minutes a night. I was like, ‘Damn, this sucks.’ It didn’t feel good.
Gronkowski, the same age as Luck, 29, told those in attendance in New York that he’s in a better place now and “very satisfied with where I am in life now.”
This season is going to be slow in developing as the first full weekend promises little in the terms of big match-ups, as in the only one of interest, really, is #11 Oregon at #16 Auburn (7:30 PM ET, ABC)
Then again, this is the time of year when you get an occasional historic upset.
Eastern Washington at #13 Washington is a little intriguing, the former a perennial I-AA power.
And Duke fans will be very curious to see how their boys do against #2 Alabama, though ‘Bama is favored by 34 ½.
Wake Forest opens against Utah State Friday night in Winston-Salem. Better win it.
Lastly, #1 Clemson opens at home against Georgia Tech Thursday night. Clemson is favored by 36 ½.
We get a little break before the new 2019-20 PGA Tour season gets underway, with an event at the Greenbrier, Sept. 12-15. I love the wraparound concept. Not every football Sunday is a good one, and in the fall you get an occasional great story or two out of golf.
As for a post-mortem on the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the finale....
Joel Beall / Golfworld
“Unequivocally, the latest iteration of the FedEx Cup, with its new-fangled stroke-adjusted start, was no lemon. The two best players in golf – Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy – were in the final pairing at the Tour Championship, with Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas keeping things honest. The fusion of performance and popularity was a dream scenario for any Sunday, let alone the PGA Tour’s season finale.
“Just as important, players ranked 10th to 20th heading into Thursday at East Lake, often left as spectators in previous FedEx Cup formats, were given a viable chance to compete under the new system.
“ ‘There’s no insurance policy this week for anybody. The guys at the top, even guys in the middle of the pack, you’d have an insurance policy [before]. If you didn’t play well, it kind of didn’t matter [you still finished high in the final points standings],’ said Paul Casey, one of those middle-of-the-pack guys who finished fifth. ‘[Now], the guys in the middle, guys down at the bottom have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.’
“Added Rickie Fowler, who began the week 19th off the FedEx Cup points list: ‘It’s a lot more straightforward. It’s right there in front of you. You can see what’s going on, what you need to do. So I think for the first year, success.’”
But you still have the issue of the entire season, 46 weeks. As Joel Beall, and most others agree, the work of 43 weeks should outweigh two (to get to the final). But, as I noted a while back, it is the playoffs. Just as a wild-card winner in baseball can win it all, if a golfer gets hots and goes 3-3-1 in the three playoff events, after being, say, 50 on the points list heading into the Northern Trust, sure, why not have a system that makes them the winner?
And as I showed you, in the end it was indeed difficult for, say, a player No. 90-125 to make the cut to 70 for the BMW, and then for a guy, say, 50, to get into the top 30.
So look for the Tour to tweak the weightings of some events in the regular season, as well as the Northern Trust and BMW, but otherwise, no one should can really complain. The players liked it, and that’s important.
As for the money angle, assuming the purse for the Tour Championship remains the same, or close to it, you will see far more interest in the final round of the BMW. I, for one, wasn’t focusing on a single aspect.
No. 31 on the final FedEx Cup points list, Kevin Tway, and No. 32, J.T. Poston, who lost out to No. 30, Jason Kokrak, should be in a lot of pain today.
Because No. 30 at the end of the Tour Championship on Sunday afternoon picked up $395,000.
So Tway and Poston, who can literally point to a single missed putt in the BMW, or probably two key misses over the course of the entire Tour season, for losing out on a minimum $395,000.
Tway finished T-11 in the BMW in moving from 40 to 31. Poston was T-16 in going from 36 to 32. Kokrak was T-19 and moved to 30 from 32.
Shane Lowry was just T-48 at the BMW and fell from 25 to 33, though in total FedEx Cup points wasn’t that close to Tway and Poston.
--Tiger Woods announced Tuesday he had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee last week but expects to return to play in a PGA Tour event in Japan in late October.
Woods had reconstructive ACL surgery on his left knee after his 2008 U.S. Open victory. This is believed to be the fifth procedure on his left knee dating to 1994 when he was an amateur.
Tiger’s spinal fusion surgery was in April 2017, but he’s had a series of ailments all year.
--Brooks Koepka captured the PGA of America’s Player of the Year Monday, edging Rory McIlroy. The PGA uses a year-long points formula to determine its winner.
The PGA Tour is expected to announce its Player of the Year, which is voted on by the players, within the next month.
Since the award’s introduction in 1990, only twice have the PGA of America and PGA Tour winners been different: Nick Faldo (PGA) and Wayne Levi (Tour) in 1990, and Corey Pavin (PGA) and Fred Couples (Tour) in 1991.
Koepka becomes the first player to defend the PGA Player of the Year since Tiger Woods in 2007.
--Serena Williams playing Maria Sharapova in the U.S. Open is a match you’d normally expect in the fourth round, or later, of a major event, but these are different times, and the two matched up in the first round, the No. 8 seed Williams cruising 6-1, 6-1, her 19th consecutive victory over the unseeded Sharapova, but their first-ever encounter at the Open.
--15-year-old Coco Gauff bested 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova of Russia in a thrilling three-set match for her opener.
--On the men’s side, No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas succumbed to cramping and Andrey Rublev in four sets after 3 hours 55 minutes. Rublev, a 21-year-old Russian ranked No. 43, beat Roger Federer in Cincinnati this month.
No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut, a Wimbledon semifinalist last month, lost to some 47th-ranked guy in five sets.
And No. 4 Dominic Thiem lost to Thomas Fabbiano, who had upset Tsitsipas at Wimbledon.
And No. 9 Karen Khachanov was the fourth top-10 man to lose on the day to Vasek Pospisil.
No. 6 Alexander Zverev had to hold on in his five-setter to avoid a fifth upset.
But it’s all about the Big Three (Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic), even more so now.
--The aforementioned Jason Gay of the Journal has a piece on tennis journeyman Noah Rubin, 23 (Gay incorrectly says he’s 22). Rubin, growing up on Long Island, was consistently ranked as one of the top junior players in the country, ending up at Wake Forest, where he achieved various ACC honors in his lone campaign, whereupon he turned professional. He is currently ranked just 195th by the ATP, struggling to earn a living at that level.
But Rubin is becoming known for a project of his on Instagram, “Behind the Racquet,” BTR, where he interviews other players; highly ranked, others not so much.
If you’re interested you can look it up, or Gay’s story. I’m personally disinterested. If Rubin ends up doing something in the film or documentary industry, good for him.
--Leslie Jones has quit “Saturday Night Live” after five seasons. She has a number of upcoming projects, including a role in Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America” sequel and a Netflix special.
But Kate McKinnon, rumored to be leaving, is staying.
Top 3 songs for the week 8/30/80: #1 “Sailing” (Christopher Cross...shortly after his career went sailing off the far side of the earth...) #2 “Upside Down” (Diana Ross...godawful...) #3 “Magic” (Olivia Newton-John)...and...#4 “Emotional Rescue” (The Rolling Stones...another reason why I still like their ‘Hot Rocks’ era best...) #5 “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” (The S.O.S. Band...was OK for that era...) #6 “Fame” (Irene Cara) #7 “All Out Of Love” (Air Supply) #8 “Give Me The Night” (George Benson) #9 “Let My Love Open The Door” (Pete Townshend) #10 “More Love” (Kim Carnes...you know what? I’m goin’ back to the Sixties...)
NFL Quiz Answer: Nine quarterbacks to throw for 40 touchdown passes in a season.
Peyton Manning 55, 49
Tom Brady 50
Patrick Mahomes 50
Dan Marino 48, 44
Drew Brees 46, 43
Aaron Rodgers 45, 40
Matthew Stafford 41
Kurt Warner 41
Andrew Luck 40
1969 Mets, cont’d....
The Mets headed out west for 10 games, the first three in San Diego.
Aug. 26: In the first game of a doubleheader, the Mets continued their domination of the expansion Padres, 8-4, Tom Seaver’s first complete game in a month, giving up three earned in moving to 18-7; Donn Clendenon and Ron Swoboda with home runs.
Aug. 26: In the nightcap, Jim McAndrew (6-5) threw a 5-hit shutout, 0 walks, as the Mets won 3-0.
Aug. 27: Mets complete a sweep of the Padres, who are now 37-92, 4-1, as Jerry Koosman tosses the Mets’ third straight complete game, the lone run in his 2-hitter a solo shot by “Downtown” Ollie Brown, his 17th.
So the Mets take their 6-game winning streak to San Francisco for four games, the Metropolitans now 74-52 and just 2 ½ back of the Cubbies.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.