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Season Over....for a lot of folks
[Posted prior to Dodgers-Mets, Eagles-Falcons...and all the late NFL action...]
Golf Quiz: Kevin Chappell became the tenth PGA Tour player to shoot a sub-60 round with his 59 in the second round at The Greenbrier Friday. Name the other nine. Answer below.
--The Yankees continue to battle injuries like no other team in the history of the sport in terms of the number placed on IL this season. But the final 10-12 games are big for the Yanks. Not only do they really need to establish home-field advantage, but pitchers Luis Severino and Dellin Betances are finally returning from injury, as well as Giancarlo Stanton and catcher Gary Sanchez (from his latest injury, the same groin tightness which had him on the IL for two weeks earlier this summer).
Stanton has played all of nine games this season, hasn’t played in a big-league game since June 25, and yet somehow the team has to get him enough at bats prior to the playoffs, because with the loss for the season of outfielders Mike Tauchman and Aaron Hicks, they need Stanton.
DH Edwin Encarnacion also is on the shelf with an oblique injury and it’s unclear what his status will be come October.
But one constant, kind of out of nowhere, has been 36-year-old veteran Brett Gardner, who is having a career season, 25 home runs, 66 RBI, and an .823 OPS over 129 games in a season in which he was expected to be, at best, the fourth outfielder, after what was to be the starting outfield alignment of Stanton, Hicks and Aaron Judge.
Well, today, the Yanks lost to the Blue Jays 6-4, but very importantly, Dellin Betances was back...facing two batters and fanning them both.
The Astros, meanwhile, beat the Royals 12-3 today, Wade Miley recovering from his life-altering, 7 earned in 1/3rd of an inning last outing, to move to 14-5.
And so for the home-field advantage we have....
Separately, Dean Balsamini of the New York Post had a story on Yankees fans and ticket prices.
One ticket holder, Justin Some, told the Post he was “done” as a season-ticket holder.
“In a fiscal Catch-22, first the team priced him out of the two nosebleed seat he’s had for two years, and then gouged him for an additional $92 fee for this fall’s playoff ducats – because he’s not renewing his season tickets next year.
“ ‘It’s shocking...it’s insulting,’ the Upper East Sider seethed.
“Some’s 41-game plan in the upper deck cost him a ‘fan-friendly’ $1,664 in 2018, but jumped to $2,067 this season, and will cost $2,327 in 2020 – a 40 percent hike over three years. He couldn’t afford to renew.
“But Some did pay his $1,100 playoff-ticket tab last month.
“Then he noticed the $92 brushback while at work last week.
“ ‘I thought it was initially an error,’ he said.
“Some called his Yankee ticket rep and was told, ‘Yeah, that’s what happens when you don’t pay for next year.’”
--The Mets are barely hanging on in the wild card race, three games back heading into tonight’s game against the Dodgers.
Friday, in a matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard, Kershaw and Los Angeles prevailed 9-2, as he had his best start in his last four, improving to 14-5, 3.05.
But Mets management forced catcher Wilson Ramos on Noah, and once again Syndergaard yielded four runs in five innings with Ramos behind the plate. I wrote last time of Noah’s displeasure with pitching to Ramos, but the Mets need his bat in the lineup.
That said, at this stage in the season, with the Mets needing to run the table, essentially, most Mets fans would be in agreement. It was important to keep Noah happy and in a positive frame of mind for this critical outing.
Syndegaard’s ERA with Ramos is now 5.20. It is 2.17 in 22 career games with backup Tomas Nido, and 2.52 in 29 games with Rene Rivera behind the plate.
So then Saturday night, Jacob deGrom faced Hyun-Jin Ryu and it was 0-0 after seven, both starters exiting then after being impeccable. But the Mets pulled it out 3-0 on a pinch-hit bases-loaded double by Rajai Davis in the bottom of the eighth.
Oh, and Ramos was behind the plate. Jake and the relievers obviously had no issue with that.
But deGrom, who has a 1.69 ERA in his 12 starts since the All-Star break (2.61 overall), is getting the third-lowest run support of any starter in the N.L., and over the past two years, he has at least seven shutout innings an MLB-leading 10 times, yet has just four wins to show for it.
In his 14 scoreless starts, overall, the last two years, the team is just 8-6.
Today, prior to Mets-Dodgers, the Brewers barely held on to beat the Cardinals 7-6, the Red Sox defeated the Phillies 6-3, and the Nationals, loser of eight of their previous 12, shutout the Braves 7-0 behind Anibal Sanchez’ 7 scoreless. Understand the Nats’ bullpen had a major-league worst 5.92 ERA heading into this one.
I do have to note the outstanding season of 36-year-old utility man Howie Kendrick for Washington. He now has 15 home runs, 60 RBIs, and a .336 average in just 304 ABs (3-for 4 today with a homer and three ribbies).
So, prior to Mets-Dodgers tonight....
N.L. Wild Card Standings....
Washington 82-66... +1.5
Chicago 81-68... ---
Milwaukee 80-69... 1
Mets 77-71... 3.5
As in must game for the Metropolitans.
--But can we talk about the Pirates? Can we talk about relegating them after this weekend’s beyond disgraceful performance? They lost at Chicago today 16-6. As in they lost the three games, 17-8, 14-1, 16-6.
Thanks a lot, Pittsburgh, a city I normally love, for f’n us Mets fans over royally.
--The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani underwent season-ending knee surgery, and Ohtani, who did not pitch this season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, will be sidelined for several weeks from baseball activities.
But the team said he will be able to complete his rehab from his TJ procedure and return to the Angels as a full-fledged two-way player by spring training.
Ohtani did play in 106 games and hit .286 (after batting .285 in 104 games in 2018), with 18 home runs and 62 RBI (vs. 22-61 last year).
I’d say the dude is consistent, and remains a highly valuable piece for the future. Ohtani is still just 25.
And we learned this afternoon that Mike Trout is likely out for the season, needing surgery on his foot for a nerve issue. Drat!
--I do have to note that after I posted last time, Baltimore’s Jonathan Villar hit a home run that was the 6,106th homer of 2019, setting an MLB single-season record; the previous mark set in 2017. Before that season, the record stood at 5,693 homers in 2000.
--Lastly, I have to note today’s Orioles win over the Tigers at Detroit, 8-2. Baltimore is now 49-100, Detroit 44-104. Tigers starter Edwin Jackson, he of the resume including 98 teams that he has pitched for (they say it couldn’t be done), real shittily, is now 3-10 with a 9.70 ERA, having yielded 5 runs in 5 innings. His career ERA is 4.76, W/L record 107-133.
But I was curious what the crowd would have been for this affair, yours truly having gone to a late-season Tigers series when they were equally pathetic, and the announced crowd was 15,688. Now I didn’t see any photos, but obviously there were nowhere near 15,000 in attendance.... unless....soon-to-be striking GM auto workers (at midnight tonight) were somehow granted free tickets out of sympathy. I really haven’t worked out the logic of this, but just musing.
[Comments written prior to release of latest AP Poll.]
It was a dull weekend with little meaningful drama. No. 1 Clemson whipped Syracuse 41-6 at the Carrier Dome (avenging last year’s upset) as Trevor Lawrence threw for 395 yards and three touchdowns, but he was picked off another two times, making it five in three weeks (he had four all of last year). As I said, no Heisman for him this year.
But No. 2 Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is one of two Heisman frontrunners, Tua throwing for five touchdowns and 444 yards in ‘Bama’s 47-23 road win at South Carolina. The 444 yards was not just a career high, but it was the most in ‘Bama history since Scott Hunter threw for 484 yards in 1969.
The other Heisman frontrunner, No. 5 Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, had a spectacular game against lowly UCLA, 15/20, 289, 3-0 through the air, 14 carries for 150 yards and a TD on the ground.
UCLA, 0-3, is now 3-12 under Chip Kelly, who was signed for $23.3 million. Heck, as the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke points out, if you count his last season as a coach in the NFL (San Francisco, 2016), he is 5-26 over his last 31.
It’s not like UCLA doesn’t have the size and resources. But consider they were outgained by Oklahoma in the first half, 434-116. C’mon, man.
No. 6 Ohio State beat Indiana 51-10 as quarterback Justin Fields threw for three touchdowns, while running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for 193 yards and a score.
So we didn’t have any big upsets, though next weekend we begin to clear the air in terms of the elite with No. 7 Notre Dame (66-14 winners over New Mexico Saturday) traveling south to face No. 3 Georgia (55-0 over Arkansas State).
In other games of note, we had the last contest for the foreseeable future between Pitt and 13 Penn State, with the Panthers coming up short 17-10 in Happy Valley. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi was abysmal in his play calling and decision making late, and Panther quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for a worthless 372 yards as the offense generated nothing and the running game was non-existent (25 carries for 24 yards). This one is on the coach, especially as Penn State is hardly top shelf this year. [But they still could have a gaudy record in the end because it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Big Ten blows, witness Michigan State losing to Arizona State and Temple beating Maryland.]
Speaking of Maryland, it’s in Weeks 3 and 4 that we separate the true contenders from the pretenders, and the Terrapins fall into the latter category, taking their No. 21 ranking (highest since Nov. 2006) to Philadelphia and losing to Temple 20-17, Owls QB Anthony Russo with three touchdown passes.
No. 17 UCF had a nice win at home against Stanford 45-27. They deserve to be top 15.
No. 19 Iowa beat rival Iowa State 18-17, as the Cyclones made some critical (and embarrassing) mistakes down the stretch, including a pathetic muffed punt return. Iowa State should have won this one.
And No. 24 USC revealed itself as a pretender, losing 30-27 at BYU as Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis showed that he is indeed a true freshman, 24/34, 281, 2-3. USC coach Clay Helton also lost his chief supporter, AD Lynn Swann, who resigned (was fired) this week. Bye-bye Coach Helton, certainly at season’s end, if not before.
Kudos to former North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman who is now 3-0 at Kansas State after an impressive (if sloppy) 31-24 win at Mississippi State. Klieman won four Football Championship Subdivision national titles and lost just six games across five seasons with the Bison.
Meanwhile, what an embarrassing weekend for the ACC, which clearly sucks again save for Clemson (as we wait for hoops).
The Citadel upset Georgia Tech in overtime, 27-24, after being 0-22 against the ACC. West Virginia rolled over North Carolina State 44-27. Virginia Tech survived at home against Furman 24-17.
And on Friday, Boston College suffered a dreadful loss at home against Kansas, 48-24. This is a Jayhawks team that had lost the week before to Coastal Carolina 12-7! It was Kansas’ first road win over a Power Five school since a victory at Iowa State on Oct. 4, 2008, a span of 48 straight losses.
B.C. coach Steve Addazio is in his seventh season and is 53-50. Five of the first six were either 7-5 or 7-6 (the other 3-9). Wake Forest can accept these records for generations to come. Boston College can’t.
Speaking of the Demon Deacons, we are now 3-0...after an unusual ‘nonconference’ win against North Carolina, Friday, renewing this historic rivalry, 24-18 in Winston-Salem.
As I worked on that other column I do Friday nights, I had this one on and at 21-0, I was pissed the Deacs didn’t go for a field goal at 4th-and-1 on the 6, instead getting stuffed. That proved to be a mistake as the Tar Heels eventually stormed back and made it a nail-biter.
Wake QB Jamie Newman had his first tough game, just 14/26, 214, 1-1, though he rushed for two TDs. Virtually all of Newman’s yardage through the air was to Sage Surratt, who caught nine balls for 169. But the Deacs are already headed to another bowl game.
One more in the ACC...25 Virginia had to rally for two late scores to defeat Florida State in Charlottesville, 31-24.
Thankfully, for Tennessee fans, they did not go 0-3 this weekend, which would have created a Jonestown situation, as they picked up their first ‘W’ against Chattanooga, 45-0. The Mocs’ fellow Southern Conference foes, however, Furman and The Citadel, did mighty fine.
Poor Tennessee has Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama its next four. Stay away from sharp knives and Kool-Aid, Vols fans.
Florida, which had a tough road win at Kentucky Saturday night, 29-21, lost quarterback Feleipe Franks for the season to a dislocated right ankle. Franks was replaced in the third quarter by junior Kyle Trask, the Gators down eleven, and he rallied them back for the win.
And now the new AP Poll....
1. Clemson (57) 3-0
2. Alabama (5) 3-0
3. Georgia 3-0
4. LSU 3-0
5. Oklahoma 3-0
6. Ohio State 3-0
7. Notre Dame 2-0
8. Auburn 3-0
9. Florida 3-0
10. Utah 3-0
15. UCF 3-0
21. Virginia 3-0...huh
23. Cal 3-0
24. Arizona State 3-0
*If you carried out the votes, 31. Wake Forest!
--Giants fans will be screaming for Daniel Jones shortly (many already are...I can hear it from my perch here), as the team is 0-2, 28-14 losers to Buffalo (2-0), the Bills now having beaten both inhabitants of MetLife Stadium on consecutive weekends. As in they’ve started out winning two road games that probably didn’t feel much like being on the road.
Josh Allen was effective at QB for the Bills, 19/30, 253, 1-0, 101.1.
Saquon Barkley touched the ball a little more than Week One, 18 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown, plus 3 receptions for 28, but 55 of those rushing yards were on the very first, impressive, drive, after which the Giants really blew.
--Antonio Brown suited up and caught four of Tom Brady’s passes for 56 yards and a touchdown as New England whipped the “Tanking for Tua” Dolphins 43-0, Miami now having lost its first two by a combined 102-10.
That’s kind of what you’d have if Alabama played Stony Brook on consecutive weekends. The thing is, Miami is supposed to be suiting up actual professional football players and, truth be told, both quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen are indeed ‘professionals’ by definition.
Fitzmagic threw three interceptions for a quarterback rating of 23.8. Rosen was 7 of 17 in mop-up duty.
Tom Brady, who everyone hates beyond belief outside New England, was 20/28, 264, 2-0, 124.7.
Meanwhile, the NFL is meeting with Antonio’s accuser Monday to officially launch the league’s investigation into said dirtball.
--The Packers (2-0) beat the Vikings (1-1) 21-16 in an important early-season win, Aaron Rodgers 22/34, 209, 2-0, 101.2.
For the Vikes, Dalvin Cook rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (told you), but Kirk Cousins could not have sucked more, 13/31, 213, 1-2, 49.5.
--Summit, New Jersey’s Michael Badgley was out a second straight week with a groin injury, and while last week that didn’t hurt his Los Angeles Chargers as punter Ty Long ably filled in, this week Long missed field goals from 39 and 41 and the Chargers lost to the Lions (1-0-1) in Detroit, 13-10.
--The Ravens are 2-0, 23-17 winners over the Cardinals (0-1-1), as Lamar Jackson was 24/37, 272, 2-0 through the air, but also had 120 yards rushing on 16 carries. Kyler Murray was 25/40, 349, 0-0 for Arizona.
--Colts fans should take heart from today’s 19-17 win at Tennessee, both now 1-1, with Andrew Luck’s replacement, Jacoby Brissett, throwing for three touchdown passes.
But 85-year-old Adam Vinatieri missed two extra points...and that ain’t good, sports fans.
--San Francisco is 2-0 after a 41-17 win at Cincinnati (0-2), as Jimmy Garroppolo threw three TD passes; Matt Breida 121 yards rushing on just 12 carries; the 49ers with 259 yards rushing overall. As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy while reading the Monday morning sports pages, not knowing Nancy had temporarily left the room, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--And Seattle is 2-0 after a 28-26 win in Pittsburgh, the Steelers 0-2. Russell Wilson was terrific, 29/35, 300, 3-0, 131.0. Pittsburgh has to be very concerned, not just with the loss, but the status of Ben Roethlisberger, who left in the first half with a right elbow injury. Mason Rudolph was decent in relief.
--The Jets suffered a devastating blow this week ahead of Monday night’s game against Cleveland, when it was revealed quarterback Sam Darnold had mononucleosis, discovered after he had suddenly been losing weight. In the opinion of many physicians, Darnold will miss considerable time. Dr. David Chao, the former Chargers team physician who operates the website profootballdoc.com, estimated Darnold would be out four to six weeks.
Brian Costello / New York Post
“Chao specified the Jets will have three major issues to worry about with Darnold’s diagnosis. First, mono typically causes the spleen and/or liver to enlarge. Someone cannot have any physical contact because of the risk of rupturing the organs. Second, Darnold will feel tired, have a general malaise and will lose weight. That could last for multiple weeks. Finally, the Jets can’t risk Darnold even being around the team because he could infect others.
“Chao, who worked for the Chargers for 17 years, (said): ‘This is a big deal. With this diagnosis of mono, an injury-reserve stint is not off the table. I’m not saying he’s going on injured reserve but this starts at four to six weeks. Any four-to-six week injury puts IR in the conversation.”
That’s season-ending. Trevor Siemian starts in Darnold’s place. Siemian was 13-11-0 in 24 starts at Denver (2016 and 2017).
But there will be another issue on Monday night...the war of words that erupted between Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, OBJ accusing Williams of teaching “cheap shots” and “dirty hits,” that Beckham said led to an ankle injury that almost derailed his career two years ago.
“If I was a coach, I would never teach what he teaches,” said OBJ.
Beckham’s injury took place in a preseason game, when Williams was Cleveland’s defensive coordinator and Beckham with the Giants. Beckham was undercut by Browns cornerback Friean Boddy-Calhoun, who drove his shoulder and helmet into the star receiver’s left leg.
Beckham said he tried to come back from that injury too soon and ultimately broke his ankle, knocking him out for the season.
Beckham said that according to his Cleveland defensive teammates, Williams told Browns players to try to hurt him during that preseason game.
The NFL suspended Williams for one season for his role in the infamous “Bountygate” scandal in which the Saints were found to have operated a bounty system whereby players were paid bonuses for hard hits and deliberately injuring players.
Williams, responding to OBJ, denied everything and told the press to stop paying attention to Beckham.
--In a 20-14 loss to Tampa Bay last Thursday, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was just 25 of 51 through the air, 334 yards, and no touchdowns, with 15 off-target throws.
“All fingers are just pointing back to me specifically on offense.”
Yup, they sure were. Under duress, he was 0-for-10 with three sacks.
Newton had shoulder surgery for the second time in three offseasons this past January and his arm strength is in doubt. In the opening 30-27 loss to the Rams, Newton had only one pass attempt longer than 20 yards.
--In one of the better golf stories we’ve had in years, journeyman Kevin Chappell, who hadn’t appeared in a PGA Tour event since last November due to back surgery, fired an 11-under 59 in just his second round at The Greenbrier Friday. He missed a 10-foot birdie putt on his final hole for his 58.
Starting on No. 10, he parred it, then birdied his next eight to make the turn in 28. He birdied No. 1 to tie the Tour record for consecutive birdies set by Mark Calcavecchia in the 2009 Canadian Open, and got to 11 under with birdies on Nos. 5 and 7.
By contrast he had a one-over 71 in the opening round.
“Ten months ago I was on the couch and couldn’t walk,” he said. “So many people had a lot to do with getting me back out here and getting me competitive.”
The 33-year-old’s lone victory on Tour came at the 2017 Valero Texas Open.
Well, Chappell wilted Saturday and Sunday, 73-72, to finish T47 as 20-year-old Joaquin Niemann from Chile won his first by six shots. This is an important win for the PGA Tour, the guy being touted for years. It’s why occasionally the Fall Series yields a big story or two.
Otherwise, the field was godawful, and Adam Long today hit the worst single wedge shot I have ever seen, apologies to the Long family who should not be dragged into this.
--Justin Thomas revealed Thursday he had a recent scare with melanoma that was discovered when he had a mole on his left leg checked out. I’m sure many of you saw the picture. Scary stuff, there being a deep incision and stitches on his leg. The thing is, the mole was very small, but as Thomas wrote, it was caught in the early stages of melanoma.
Thomas wrote on Instagram: “Luckily, we found it at a time where there should be no problems going forward. That being said, EVERYBODY GO GET CHECKED!! No harm can come from it and it’s the best way to catch anything before it becomes a serious issue. Especially for all the junior golfers (and other athletes) spending so much time in the sun.”
--Rory McIlroy beat out Brooks Koepka to capture his third PGA Tour Player of the Year honor.
Voting for the award was open to players who competed in at least 15 official FedEx Cup events during the 2018-19 season.
“Yeah, I’m at a loss for words,” said Rory.
Koepka had been named the PGA of America’s Player of the Year, that one using a point system.
--The PL returned to action after a week of international play and in one of the biggest upsets in league history, newbie Norwich City defeated Manchester City 3-2, in what was a scintillating match, City cutting a 3-1 lead to 3-2 at 84’ and then Norwich (the Canaries) hanging on for dear life.
It was City’s first Premier League defeat since January and understand this, Norwich was missing eight players due to injury and during the week was practicing with just eleven. [City deeply missed Aymeric Laporte, out for six months with a knee injury].
So with Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Newcastle, after falling behind 1-0, after just five weeks we have this startling development.
Liverpool 5-0-0 (W-D-L)...15 points
Man City 3-1-1...10
Yes, there are 33 matches to play, but that is a huge five-point difference as these things go. Liverpool now just wants to ‘draw’ in its two bouts with City.
Recall...last season we had....
Man City 32-2-4...98
Liverpool 30-7-1...97...just one loss
--In other contests of import, Tottenham got back into form with a 4-0 whitewash of Crystal Palace; Manchester United defeated Leicester City in an important one, 1-0; and Chelsea defeated a highly-disappointing Wolverhampton 5-2, as the Blues’ Tammy Abraham had a hat-trick and now has 7 goals in his first 5 games. The dude is just 21. Chelsea is young and exciting. [Go Dr. W.!]
Then today we had another ‘upset,’ as lowly Watford, down 2-0 at the half, rallied to draw 2-2 with Arsenal.
--Champions League play starts this week. It’s brutal for the PL’s elite to have these midweek matches.
In a classic case of my dictum ‘wait 24 hours,’ the New York Times’ Joe Drape broke the story this week that 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify had tested positive for a high amount of a banned substance, scopolamine, which the Times story indicated can act as a bronchodilator on horses and enhance performance.
Justify’s trainer of course was Bob Baffert, which made this an even bigger story.
But an attorney for Baffert, Craig Robertson III, called Drape’s reporting “defamatory,” saying “no trainer would ever intentionally administer scopolamine to a horse. It has a depressant effect and would do anything but enhance the performance of a horse.”
Additionally, Robertson said a decision to not further adjudicate the test, which came following a key Santa Anita Derby (Grade One) win for Justify, was made by the California Horse Racing Board, not Baffert.
Justify, whose career started in February of 2018, went 6-for-6, with his first two victories in maiden special weight and allowance conditions. He needed to finish first or second in the Santa Anita Derby to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, which he did by winning the race.
Horse Racing Nation reports: “According to the Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty, scopolamine positives in California racing are not new. In 1994, per DRF, five trainers in California had horses ring up positive tests. Those horses were all disqualified, though the trainers’ fines were forgiven.
“Robertson called the scopolamine ‘a known environmental contaminant,’ saying it is contained within jimson weed that grows in California and can mix into horses’ feed. This echoed statements made to the Times by CHRB Executive Director Rick Baedeker.
“ ‘There is no doubt that, with regard to Justify, the alleged positive was the result of environmental contamination from hay or straw,’ Robertson’s letter says.”
Justify did not record positive drug tests after any of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont Stakes races. The colt was held out of the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic due to swelling in an ankle and retired.
So two days after Drape’s story, John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times weighed in.
“Justify was not alone at Santa Anita, as a total of seven horses in five different barns all tested positive at the same time, indicating it was not some random case of a trainer seeking an edge.
“In this case, the trainer would be Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
“The cases against Justify and the other six horses were dropped after the California Horse Racing Board determined that the positive tests were caused by simple feed contamination. The failed drug test was first reported by the New York Times. Technically, the case should be classified as a poisoning rather than a drugging because of how the drug was ingested....
“Chuck Winner, who was the chairman of the CHRB at the time, on Thursday cited ‘overwhelming evidence that Justify, along with six other horses in four different barns at Santa Anita, ingested scopolamine from jimson weed which was present in the hay that had been delivered to the barns.’
“ ‘It would have been a complete miscarriage of justice for the CHRB to have taken action against Justify or Baffert, knowing full well that the horse was poisoned by an environmental contaminate and not injected with a substance,’ Winner said.
“Even if the process had moved at rocket speed and the seven horses had been found in violation, Justify would still not have been disqualified as the winner of the Santa Anita or denied a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
“The drug was originally classified in California as a ‘3b,’ which if detected could lead to disqualification. But the Assn. of Racing Commissioners International (RCI), which sets industry standards including drug limits for horses and greyhounds, had reclassified the drug as a less serious ‘4c,’ for which violations don’t result in disqualifications.
“California automatically adopts all RCI rules unless the board votes otherwise....
“ ‘Scopolamine had some historic use in treating abdominal discomfort or colic,’ said Dr. Mary Scollay, executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. ‘Today it has minimal application in the horse.’
“Scollay also said the drug is not a performance enhancer and the amount, 300 nanograms, while above the accepted limit, provides no more clues.”
I consider this case closed. But it’s unfortunate both Baffert’s and Justify’s reputations have been bruised.
The drug was in the feed, and all you need to know is Justify passed his tests after the Triple Crown races. No one has ever alleged a cover-up there.
--I couldn’t care less about the World Cup of Basketball (FIBA World Cup), in which Team USA was defeated by France and Serbia, after coming in the top-ranked team in the world. They ended up finishing seventh.
The thing is, the World Cup and Olympics are now played in back-to-back summers so a team lacking in true “stars” got its comeuppance, as the stars focus on rest and recovery in the offseason.
But with the Olympics in late July next year, will the likes of James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard want to play?
So USA Basketball has the job of trying to put the pieces back together after this dismal performance where a Harrison Barnes was one of the leading scorers.
But other countries were complaining about the schedule change from an even year to the year before the Olympics. There were stars missing from virtually every team.
--California’s legislature passed a bill, the Fair Pay Act, that would allow college athletes to earn money from the use of their names, images and likenesses. It heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk and it is assumed Newsom will sign it, the bill having passed the State Senate 39-0, and Assembly 73-0.
But the NCAA is forcefully fighting back, saying the bill (which would go into effect in 2023), has the potential to kill amateur athletics.
The bill would not allow schools to directly pay athletes, but would permit students to receive compensation from outside sources – for example, from a video game company or for signing autographs or memorabilia.
--Johnny Mac first alerted me to the story of our beloved Yak, which then rocketed around the globe.
“Authorities in Virginia say a yak on its way to the butcher’s shop escaped to the nearby mountains avoiding animal control officers and treats trying to lure it back into a trailer.
“The News & Advance reports the yak named Meteor was on its last ride Tuesday from Buckingham, Virginia, to the butcher when it got out of its trailer."
As I go to post, last I saw Meteor was still on the loose. But as its owner said, it’s worth $1,000 and “this is how we make our living.”
‘Yak,’ mangy yet noble, while tasty, is knocking on the door of the Top Ten of the All-Species List.... ‘Dog’, ‘Elephant,’ and ‘Tiger’ still Nos. 1-3, though ‘Wolverine’ is also threatening to break through.
By the way, I promise a new Top Ten, finally, really, by end of October. The ‘Wolverine Lobby,’ a vicious group, is lobbying me hard. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t leave my home without protection.
--We note the passing of Eddie Money, 70, the rocker having battled stage 4 esophageal cancer per his own announcement in August.
Money had top hits such as “Baby Hold On” [#11, 1978], “Two Tickets To Paradise” [#22, ‘78], “Take Me Home Tonight” [#4, ‘86] and “Walk On Water” [#9, ‘88].
Born Edward Mahoney in New York City, Money grew up in a family of police officers and served two years as an officer trainee with the NYPD before he decided he’d rather be a singer.
Money told Rolling Stone in 1978: “I grew up with respect for the idea of preserving law and order, and then all of a sudden cops became pigs and it broke my heart.”
Money had a number of brushes with the law and once spent three weeks in jail for having a crop of 300 marijuana plants in his apartment, and then after he was released, he was arrested for shop-lifting. [A decade later, Money held a fundraiser for the judge who sentenced him.]
Eddie Money was discovered by San Francisco-based promoter and talent manager Bill Graham, who heard him sing at an amateur night performance and took him under his wing.
In 1987, he received a Grammy Award nomination for “Take Me Home Tonight.” Money continued to tour up until last year.
Top 3 songs for the week 9/17/66: #1 “You Can’t Hurry Love” (The Supremes) #2 “Yellow Submarine” (The Beatles) #3 “Sunshine Superman” (Donovan)...and...#4 “Cherish” (The Association) #5 “Bus Stop” (The Hollies) #6 “See You In September” (The Happenings) #7 “Land Of 1000 Dances” (Wilson Pickett) #8 “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (The Beach Boys) #9 “Guantanamera” (The Sandpipers) #10 “Sunny” (Bobby Hebb... ‘A-’ week...)
Golf Quiz Answer: Ten to shoot sub-60 on the PGA Tour....
Al Geiberger, 59, 1977
Chip Beck, 59, 1991
David Duval, 59, 1999
Paul Goydos, 59, 2010
Stuart Appleby, 59, 2010
Jim Furyk, 59, 2013
Justin Thomas, 59, 2017
Adam Hadwin, 59, 2017
Brandt Snedeker, 59, 2018
Kevin Chappell, 59, 2019
Jim Furyk, 58, 2016 (at The Travelers)
1969 Mets, cont’d....
The Mets took their seven-game winning streak and first-place standing in the N.L. East to Pittsburgh for four.
Sept. 12: In the first of a twi-niter, the Mets beat the Pirates 1-0 with pitcher Jerry Koosman (14-9, 2.37) not only going all the way on a 3-hitter, but also driving in the lone run with a 6th-inning single.
Sept. 12: And in the nightcap, New York pitcher Don Cardwell (7-9, 2.93) also drove in the lone run in a 1-0 game, Cardwell’s RBI single coming in the second inning. Tug McGraw came on in the ninth for the save.
So you know you’re living right when you win two games on the same day your pitchers drive in the only runs.
Sept. 13: The Mets win their tenth in a row, 5-2, as Ron Swoboda clouts an 8th-inning grand slam (first of his career) off Pirates reliever Chuck “Twiggy” Hartenstein, Tom Seaver going all the way to improve to 22-7.
Sept. 14: The Pirates’ Steve Blass (15-9) finally shuts down the Metropolitans, 5-3, as Nolan Ryan (6-2) gets hit hard, 5 earned in 7 innings.
But the Cubs lost to the Cardinals and the Mets were 3 ½ ahead of Chicago at 88-58.
So the Mets then travel to St. Louis for one game and more history.
Sept. 15: The Cards’ Steve Carlton strikes out a record 19 batters, but the Mets win as Ron Swoboda hits two, 2-run homers off Lefty in the 4th and 8th innings, the Mets winning 4-3. Tug McGraw (8-3) gets the win with three scoreless in relief. I’ll never forget listening to this one on the radio.
On to Montreal for two....
Sept. 17: Mets win 5-0 behind Koosman’s complete game shutout, Kooz 15-9.
Sept. 18: Mets win again, this time it’s Seaver, again, doing the honors, 2-0 shutout, Tom Terrific 23-7, Ed Kranepool accounting for both runs with a home run and RBI-single.
The staff now has 24 shutouts, and Seaver’s 23 wins tie him with Denny McLain and Mike Cueller for the major-league lead.
The Mets head home 91-58, suddenly a full five games up on the Cubs, who are 87-64, just 13 to play.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday.