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Baseball's Postseason is Set
[Posted Sun. pm. …just a ton going on…I cover as much as I could…]
Baseball Quiz: Who are the only four players to hit three home runs in a game at the age of 40 (since 1904). [Borrowed from a Baseball-Reference bit early this season.] Answer below.
--The playoffs are set after the final day of the season today.
A.L. …best of three…higher seed home team
1 Rays vs. 8 Blue Jays
2 A’s vs. 7 White Sox
3 Twins vs. 6 Astros
4 Indians vs. 5 Yankees
1 Dodgers vs. 8 Brewers
2 Braves vs. 7 Reds
3 Cubs vs. 6 Marlins
4 Padres vs. 5 Cardinals
Yes, it will be nuts…more next time; the playoffs beginning Tuesday.
Personally, I want the Dodgers vs. the White Sox in the Series, but living in the shadows of Gotham, of course the Yankees provide more local intrigue.
--The Marlins are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2003, when they won the World Series as the Florida Marlins, with a 4-3 win over the Yankees in 10 innings on Friday in the Bronx.
The Marlins had the worst record in the NL last year at 57-105, then started out this crazy partial season beset by a Covid outbreak that prevented them from playing for more than a week.
Miami thus became the first team to make the playoffs in the year following a 100-loss season.
Needless to say to make up all the missed games early, the Marlins have played a lot of doubleheaders and finish the season having played 30 games in 26 days.
--The pathetic Mets season is over (26-34) and the other day, incoming owner (should he approved by the other owners) Steve Cohen announced he was bringing Sandy Alderson back to run the baseball and business operations.
It’s an interesting move, because Alderson, a cancer survivor who turns 73 in November, had long said he was retiring. He was also worn down by eight years dealing with the Wilpons, whom Cohen is replacing.
Cohen’s move is transparent, as the New York Post’s Joel Sherman writes:
“He (Cohen) is a flawed candidate. There are owners against him at a time when he will need 23 votes to be approved. There is worry about his history with insider trading, gender discrimination and what his $15 billion could mean to blowing out a payroll. For Cohen, Alderson is part cleansing agent, part political whip bringing votes into line…
“A Marine who served in Vietnam, Alderson has spent four decades working for MLB teams and inside the commissioner’s office and left each with, in general, an image of rectitude and loyalty.
“One Alderson ally said, ‘Sandy will be (Cohen’s) regulator. He is the kind of person who will make owners more comfortable that Cohen will follow the rules.’
“This is not to say Cohen does not know and respect Alderson. He has been a limited Mets owner since 2012, so during much of Alderson’s GM reign (2011-2018). They speak a common language when it comes to business, technology and long-term strategy.”
Needless to say the future of GM Brodie Van Wagenen is in jeopardy.
“(Time) has been good to Alderson’s rep… His regime drafted two future Rookies of the Year (Michael Fulmer and Pete Alonso). His initial first-round pick was Brandon Nimmo and his final six were Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, Anthony Kay, Justin Dunn, David Peterson and Jarred Kelenic – either Met success stories or part of so far ill-fated trades made under Van Wagenen. Andres Gimenez, Luis Guillorme, Jeff McNeil and Seth Lugo also were originally signed during Alderson’s tenure.
“So it would be an upset if Van Wagenen were retained because: 1) Van Wagenen is seen as aligned with Jeff Wilpon and Cohen dislikes Jeff Wilpon, and 2) Alderson did not appreciate how his end game went down with the Mets and has remained publicly silent because that is his nature – plus his son, Bryn, still works for Van Wagenen as the pro scouting director.”
We’ll see, but as Sherman concludes, what most appeals to Cohen is that Alderson will help Cohen gain approval of his fellow owners, and then reshape the organization, “while Cohen provides the former Marine in Alderson a chance to finish a mission he felt was left incomplete.”
Back to the just-completed 60-game season, incredibly, the Mets, who have talent, never won more than three games in a row. As the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro put it, the 2020 edition was a “calamitous monument to underachievement and underperformance.” It’s just pitiful that they couldn’t be one of eight out of 15 N.L. making the playoffs.
--The Angels once again missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season with Mike Trout, which is also pathetic. Trout signed a $426.5 million contract in March 2019 to remain in an Angels uniform at least through 2030 (he’s still just 29), believing the team was headed in the right direction.
At least there are signs the Angels’ farm system is vastly improved, though who really knows after a lost season in that regard…in fact who the hell knows what shape the minor leagues takes next season! I haven’t seen this written anywhere, but if fans can’t return in full by next spring, no way the clubs can afford a full minor-league system (even at the reduced level MLB was planning on before the pandemic) so you might have just AAA and AA, or something like that.
[GM Billy Eppler was fired this afternoon.]
--Need to clear the table on two individual pitching efforts from days of yore. Johnny Mac mentioned the other day that he had to look up Slim Sallee, after seeing a Baseball-Reference blurb on the guy. On Sept. 21, 1919, Sallee, pitching for Cincinnati, hooked up against the Brooklyn Robins’ Sherry Smith and lost 3-1, both pitching complete games, but the game itself taking just 0:55 !!!
Sallee, 174-143 lifetime, was 21-7 for the “World Series Champion” Reds that season, allowing just 20 walks in 227 2/3 innings. [Ahem…he struck out only 24 as well…the lowest for a 20-game winner in history.]
As Johnny adds, he also did well in the World Series that season against the Chicago White Sox, but, well, you know…these were the Black Sox.
Meanwhile, I’ve been meaning to note a game that Robin Roberts pitched, Sept. 6, 1952. It was the first game of a doubleheader, Roberts’ Phillies hosting the Boston Braves, and the Phils won 7-6 in 17 innings.
Now I bring this up because I was listening to the Mets on the radio Sept. 6 and their announcers brought up that the Philadelphia PR guy had mentioned this was a historic date in Phillies history.
You see, Hall of Famer Roberts, who was 28-7 that season on a team that went 87-67, finishing second in the MVP vote, went all 17 innings, allowing six runs (5 earned) on 18 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts.
As in ‘How many freakin’ pitches did Robin Roberts throw that day?’ We’ll never know. But the Phillies people estimate it had to be about 250.
It obviously didn’t hurt his arm. [He pitched a complete game his next outing, Sept. 11.] Roberts would win 23 games each of 1953-55, throwing 346, 336, and 305 innings in those campaigns.
So we quaff an ale to Slim Sallee and Robin Roberts this Sunday…or any day, for that matter.
--The Lakers closed out the Nuggets 117-107 on Saturday, taking the series 4-1, as LeBron James was superb, 38 points on 15 of 25 shooting from the field, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and just two turnovers. James is now 16-1 in closeout games and has never lost a series while up 3-1. He thus takes the Lakers to their first Finals in 10 years (the third team he has made the Finals with overall).
“This is what I came here for,” James said. “I heard all the conversations and everything that was said about why did I decide to come to L.A. – the reason I came to L.A., it was not about basketball. All those conversations, just naysayers and things of that nature. I understand that, with the season I had last year and my injury, it just gave them more sticks and more wood to throw in the fire to continue to say the things that they would say about me.
“But it enver stopped my journey and never stopped my mindset and never stopped my goal.”
L.A. is in its record 32nd appearance in the Finals and now they have a chance to equal Boston with a 17th championship, and, holy Bird, they might even play the Celtics!
Yes, tonight it’s Boston-Miami, Game 6, the Heat up 3-2.
--Again, it is really hard to get fired up about college football with such a screwed up, dysfunctional season. This week Notre Dame-Wake Forest was postponed for Covid reasons (one of at least 20 games already postponed or canceled thus far), though the SEC began play; the Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and MAC to follow down the road.
So I watched the endings to two exciting games.
19 Louisiana defeated Georgia Southern 20-18 on a dramatic Nate Snyder 53-yard field goal as time expired. Snyder’s kick is being called the “coolest story” of the day. The grad transfer from Indiana was a kickoff specialist and came into the game just 1-for-4 on the season. Earlier in the game he missed a 34-yarder.
And then Kansas State picked up its first road win ever against an AP top 3, defeating No. 3 Oklahoma for a second year in a row, 38-35, on a Blake Lynch 50-yard field goal with 4:32 left after trailing 35-14.
For the Sooners, redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler was already a Heisman Trophy favorite before taking a snap at Oklahoma and he threw for four touchdowns and 387 yards, but he also threw three interceptions and had some key misses late that could have stopped the Wildcats’ shocking comeback.
Stanford transfer K.J. Costello threw for an SEC record 623 yards and five touchdowns, overcoming his two interceptions and two lost fumbles, as Mississippi State upset 6 LSU 44-34. New coach Mike Leach unleashed his “Air Raid” offense on Ed Orgeron’s defending national champions, who couldn’t overcome the loss of the Heisman Trophy winner, the top-ranked wide receiver in the land, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, four offensive lineman, key contributors on defense, plus the offensive and defensive coordinators.
The Tigers do still have games ahead against Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M so LSU fans can hold out hope a little longer that they can get back into the national semifinals.
2 Alabama beat Missouri 38-19 as Najee Harris rushed for three touchdowns. Mac Jones looked for very solid at QB for the Tide as well.
5 Florida defeated Ole Miss 51-35 in Lane Kiffin’s debut for Mississippi. Fans in Oxford can take heart that Kiffin’s offense produced 613 yards and they have some weapons for sure. Quarterback Matt Corral threw for 395 yards and three touchdowns on just 31 attempts.
For the Gators, Kyle Trask had six touchdown passes, four to star tight end Kyle Pitts.
12 Miami whipped rival Florida State 52-10 as Houston transfer D’Eriq King passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 65 yards, while the Hurricanes ‘D’ picked off the Seminoles three times.
I watched a lot of 22 Army at 14 Cincinnati, the Bearcats winning 24-10 in a mildly entertaining affair. Great performance by the Cincy defense.
13 UCF defeated East Carolina 51-28 as the Knights appear headed towards a Nov. 21 collision with Cincinnati in a game that could decide the New Year’s Six bowl berth…not to jump the gun.
21 Pitt is 3-0 after defeating 24 Louisville 23-20.
Duke is 0-3 under Clemson transfer QB Chase Brice, who threw four interceptions in the Blue Devils’ 38-20 loss to Virginia. For the Cavaliers it was their first game of the season after multiple Covid-related postponements and they may have a surprising emerging star, 6-foot-7 freshman wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr., who almost single-handedly stole the show with dazzling catches, just four receptions but two touchdowns and 101 yards.
Virginia Coach Bronco Mendanhall said of Davis, “He was one of our best-kept secrets. It’s hard to hide 6-7 in practice. Wasn’t highly recruited. Thought to be a project. He kept making plays against us everyday during practice.”
Steve D.’s Boston College Eagles were 21-point favorites over visiting Texas State, but needed quarterback Phil Jurkovec to lead the team to a touchdown and game-winning field goal in the final 1:11 as B.C. prevailed 24-21.
--It’s clear the Big 12 is in deep trouble with Oklahoma’s loss. No CFP bid for the conference. Yes, 8 Texas defeated Texas Tech 63-56 in overtime, but what does that say about the Longhorns’ defense?
--So the Pac-12 Conference announced Thursday that it will begin its football season Nov. 6, after initially postponing it in August. The conference will play a seven-game schedule, including a conference title game scheduled for Dec. 18. The conference also announced its basketball season will start Nov. 25.
The seven-game schedule will set up some heated debates about the potential worthiness of an undefeated Pac-12 team making it into the College Football Playoff, given that other major conferences are planning longer seasons.
Fans will not be allowed to attend games taking place on campuses.
Previously, the Big Ten announced it would begin to pursue a season the weekend of Oct. 24, nine games.
The CFP has not adjusted its schedule; the selection committee releasing its final rankings Dec. 20, followed by semifinal games Jan. 1 and the championship game Jan. 11.
--The Mid-American Conference announced it too would return to play with a six-game conference-only schedule starting Nov. 4, with the MAC championship game following on Dec. 18 or 19. The Mountain West also decided to resume play, these two the last of the 10 FBS conferences to opt back in to playing this season. The MWC will play an eight-game slate, with its championship slated for Dec. 19.
For the MAC, tickets will not be sold and tailgating will not be permitted. The conference cited much improved testing, four tests per week, beginning Oct. 5, for its ability to play.
The other MAC fall sports – soccer, cross country and volleyball – are tentatively scheduled to return in the spring.
Men’s and women’s basketball will begin with the rest of the country on Nov. 25.
--Bob S. passed on a piece from Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle re the return of football in the Pac-12.
“There isn’t much good you can say about the coronavirus, but I’ll give the disease this much: It’s a great tool for ripping the Band-Aid off society’s oozing wounds of hypocrisy.
“During the pandemic, the curtains have been pulled back on the duplicity at work in every facet of daily life, from government to health care to religion to the economy to how we value life to – well, you name it.
“But nothing has been more exposed than the world of college football.
“On Thursday afternoon, the Pac-12 reversed its earlier, prudent decision to postpone the fall football season into next spring, in light of the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, and all of the associated unknowns.
“ ‘The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports remains our guiding light and number one priority,’ said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Oregon President Michael Schill in a statement. ‘Our CEO Group has taken a measured and thoughtful approach to today’s decision, including extensive consultation with stakeholders on the evolving information and data related to health and safety.’
“The conference, like a lemming off the cliff, is following the path of the other Power 5 conferences. It will play a seven-game season beginning in early November….
“Never, ever let it be said again that college football players are students first and athletes second. That the game is about teaching integrity. That the health and safety of the student body comes before all else. Those platitudes belong to the olden days, when the Baid-Aid stayed firmly adhered atop the sore, so the hypocrisy could fester.
“The Pac-12 will tell you that it knows ever so much more now than it did 45 days ago when the conference announced it would postpone the season. And maybe that’s true, because scientists are learning more and more about the disease with every passing week. But, equally true, and something the Pac-12 leaders should also know, is how much remains unknown.
“The cardiac complications of the disease are very real and still being learned, appearing in young, fit people. As UC Berkeley epidemiologist John Swartzberg, a member of the Pac-12 medical advisory board, told me (not speaking on behalf of the board): ‘What worries me enormously, in general, is we discover something new about this every two to four weeks. What worries me long term, specifically, is the cardiac stuff. There is strong science to show that cardiac involvement is more common than we thought and can occur in young, healthy people.’
“The Power 5 conferences like to use the phrase ‘student-athlete.’ Maybe ‘lab rat’ is more appropriate….
“College football doesn’t operate in a bubble. Players are as likely to be at fraternity parties and out socializing as the average student. They don’t get paid for their obviously ‘essential’ work at the university. They don’t have a union protecting their health. They are neither incentivized to follow strict protocol nor offered recourse if they fall ill.
“These conference flip-flops should give players further incentive to band together and leverage their power, because it is pretty clear what the adults in charge are worried about.
“For the decision makers, this is all about keeping up with the competition. About raking in the money. About keeping their fiefdoms afloat.
“What it is not about: science, student-athletes, safety, integrity.
“Ironic that the disease that requires us all to wear a mask is so very efficient at unmasking hypocrisy.”
By playing in the fall, the Pac-12 will receive a $66 million payout from the College Football Playoff. Having a team play in a New Year’s Six bowl game will add another $4 million. In 2018-19, the Pac-12 distributed $32 million to its schools as part of its media rights deal with ESPN and FOX. With less game inventory in a shortened season, it’s likely the league and its partners would settle on a prorated amount for 2020-21.
--Lastly, how would you like to be on the Houston football team. Their contest with North Texas was postponed, the fourth season opener the Cougars have been unable to play due to the coronavirus, with North Texas saying it had four positive tests this week and subsequent contact tracing meant they would be unable to field a team for the game.
Houston’s other games against Rice, Memphis and Baylor were also either postponed or canceled. In all four cases it was Houston’s opponent that had the Covid issues.
--New AP Poll…still rather meaningless, including that the AP is now including the Big Ten and Pac-12 since they announced they are returning…even though they don’t play until Oct. 24 and Nov. 6, respectively.
1. Clemson (55)
2. Alabama (3)
5. Notre Dame
6. Ohio State (4)
8. Miami…good for them…it’s more interesting if they are good rather than bad
10. Penn State
12. North Carolina
14. Oregon…quack quack…quack…
24. Pitt…Yay, Pitt…Sock it to ‘em…[This cheer is circa 1940s, so I’m told by Dr. Bortrum.]
Poor Louisiana…with the other conferences now back in the poll mix, they fall out of the top 25 despite being 3-0.
--The Bills are now 3-0 after a stirring 35-32, after they had blown a 28-3 lead, Jared Goff rallying the Rams to four touchdowns to take a 32-28 lead with 4:30 left.
But Josh Allen, rapidly emerging as a force in the league (as opposed to Sam Darnold, I hasten to add…but more on him later), drove the Bills down the field for a winning 3-yard TD pass to Tyler Kroft with 0:15 remaining, aided in part by a pass interference call.
Allen was 24/33, 311, 4-1, 128.9, plus another touchdown on the ground.
For the Rams, second-year running back Darrell Henderson Jr. emerged (as I thought he would when he was wreaking havoc at Memphis), 20 carries for 114 yards and a score.
--New England is 2-1, handing the Vegas Raiders their first loss, 36-20 in Foxborough, as the Pats and Cam Newton rushed for 250 yards, Rex Burkhead with three scores, including one via the air from Newton. The Raiders lost three fumbles.
--The Steelers are 3-0 after a 28-21 triumph in Pittsburgh over the winless Titans. James Conner rushed for 109 yards and a score and the Steelers’ ‘D’ held Houston and Deshaun Watson to just 260 yards of offense.
--The long, regional nightmare for Giants and Jets fans continues…both now 0-3.
The Giants fell to injury-riddled San Francisco (2-1) 36-9 as Nick Mullens (25/36, 343, 1-0, 108.9) more than ably filled in for Jimmy Garoppolo at QB.
For the Giants, Daniel Jones was awful…17/32, 179, 0-1, 56.6, including two more turnovers.
And then my Jets played at Indy and Philip Rivers and Co.
Rivers hit two huge career marks, 60,000 yards and 400 touchdown passes in the same game, the sixth to do so in NFL history, as the Colts (2-1) won 36-7. See the near symmetry in the Giants and Jets scores? Eegads.
Sam Darnold threw three interceptions, two taken back for ‘six.’ He now has 39 touchdown passes and 32 INTs for his 2+ year career.
This was OK during the era of Joe Namath, John Hadl and Daryle Lamonica, but not today.
More next time…as painful as it will be.
The Jets have a Thursday night game against Denver and thus coach Adam Gase won’t be fired in a short week…but the timing will be right on Friday. Take care, Adam…best to the family.
--In a game only the players’ mothers could love….and they were probably looking away…the Bengals and Eagles played to a 23-23 tie…both now 0-2-1 and beyond irrelevant.
Actually, to be fair, No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow continues to impress, 31/44, 312, 2-0, 105.5. So there is long-term hope in Cincy.
But for Eagles fans, they have to be apoplectic over the early play of Carson “Senor Wences,” who now has six interceptions his first three games after just seven each of the prior three seasons.
--The embarrassing Atlanta Falcons blew another double-digit fourth quarter lead to fall to 0-3, 30-26 losers to the 3-0 Bears, as Nick Foles came in for Mitch Trubisky to bring the Bears back from a 26-10 deficit with 3 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.
Bye-bye Atlanta coach Dan Quinn.
--Cleveland is 2-1 after a 34-20 over Washington (1-2); Baker Mayfield efficient at QB, two touchdown passes and no turnovers, and Nick Chubb rushing for 108 on 19 carries and two scores. Washington had a sickly 5 turnovers, four by quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
--Tennessee is 3-0 and Minnesota a surprising 0-3 after a 31-30 loss in Minny, despite Dalvin Cook’s 181 yards on the ground for the Vikings. Kirk Cousins, two interceptions, is simply a very mediocre quarterback…but he’s got his money!
For the Titans, Stephen Gostkowski hit six field goals, including the deciding 55-yarder with 1:48 left.
--Seattle is 3-0 after Russell Wilson had another phenomenal game, 27/40, 315, 5-0, 130.7; Wilson now with 14 touchdown passes, already, and just one pick, as he drove the Seahawks 75 yards for the deciding score, Seattle defeating Dallas (1-2) 38-31…Dak Prescott throwing for 472 yards in defeat, but with two picks.
--What a bizarre, awful thing for Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor. A Chargers’ doctor punctured Taylor’s lungs while administering a pregame pain injection for a broken rib, an injury the QB suffered in the season opener against Cincinnati two weeks ago. It took a few days for the details to emerge after rookie Justin Herbert, not Taylor, was thrown in as starter last Sunday at the last-second. Apparently the mistake by the Doc happens rarely, like in around 1 percent of cases, which means it would be unfair to automatically find the doctor guilty of malpractice.
Coach Anthony Lynn said, “The doctor is a good man. It’s just unfortunate.”
But Taylor is out indefinitely.
Today, the Chargers fell to 1-2, 21-16 losers to the Panthers, also 1-2.
--Finally, we note the passing of Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, simply the most-exciting back I probably ever saw (next to Willie Wilson in high school…and Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers).
For those of us of a certain age, just beginning to watch football in the mid-1960s, a few players stood out…Sayers, Joe Namath and, because I was in the New York area, Fran Tarkenton and Homer Jones.
Sayers only had five ‘almost full’ campaigns, 1965-69 (and then two minimal efforts in 1970 and ’71), but “The Kansas Comet” was considered among the best open-field runners the game has ever seen. He was a blur to NFL defenses, “ghosting would-be tacklers or zooming by them like few running backs or kick returners before or since,” as his AP obituary put it.
Sayers died at the age of 77, his family saying he had been diagnosed with dementia, which back in 2017, his wife partly blamed on his football career.
A two-time All-American out of Kansas, Sayers was the fourth pick overall of the Chicago Bears in 1965, and his versatility produced immediate dividends while making a zillion highlight reels at NFL Films right from the start.
He tied one NFL record with six touchdowns in a game his rookie season and set another with 22 touchdowns that first year: 14 rushing, six receiving, one punt and one kickoff return. He was the unanimous choice for offensive rookie of the year.
Sayers averaged 5.2, 5.4 and 4.7 yards per carry his first three seasons (including three kickoff and one punt return for touchdowns in 1967), then in an injury-shortened 1968, he averaged 6.2 per carry (138-856 in nine games).
But it was in 1968 that he also suffered a serious knee injury and his good friend Brian Piccolo picked up the bulk of the carries the rest of the way, while the two formed a legendary friendship; Piccolo encouraging Sayers during his rehab (after which Gale rushed for 1,032 yards in his comeback, 1969), and then Sayers being by Piccolo’s side as Brian suddenly received a diagnosis of cancer when he was experiencing breathing difficulties, Piccolo dying in June the following year.
Sayers was black and already a star when he formed his bond with Piccolo, a white kid from Wake Forest who worked his way up from the practice squad.
When the club dropped its policy of segregating players by race in hotel room assignments, the two became roommates, apparently the first black-white roommates in the league.
And then they were there for each other, the friendship first chronicled in Sayers’ autobiography, “I am Third,” which I devoured as a kid, and then in the 1971 movie “Brian’s Song” based off the book.
Sayers stayed by Piccolo’s side as the illness took its toll, donating blood and providing support. Just days before his death at the age of 26, Sayers received the George S. Halas Award for courage (for his comeback from his knee injury) and said: “You flatter me by giving me this award, but I can tell you here and now that I accept it for Brian Piccolo. …I love Brian Piccolo and I’d like all of you to love him, too. Tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him.”
After his playing days, Sayers served as athletic director at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and founded several technology and consulting businesses.
On learning of Sayers’ death, one of Brian Piccolo’s daughters, Lori, who was the oldest of three girls, 4 ½, when her father died, told the Washington Post’s Mike Wise:
“If the NFL lost a legend, one of the greatest running backs of all time, my family and I lost one of the last people to know my father. Sayers was one of many to keep his memory alive in the 50 years since they were roommates on the Chicago Bears.”
Lori Piccolo didn’t watch “Brian’s Song” until her junior year in high school, after which she would never watch it again. Even when it was shown to her freshman class at Wake Forest.
Lori would learn of the bond Sayers and her father shared after Brian’s death, and she learned how during her father’s year at Wake Forest in 1963, “Maryland’s Darryl Hill was the only African American football player in the ACC. A former Maryland assistant coach called Wake Forest ‘the worst atmosphere’ of any campus Maryland visited that season.
“I later learned my father, after a game against Maryland, went over to the opponents’ sideline, walked Hill over to the area in front of the Wake Forest student section and put his arm around him. The crowd quieted.”
Lori said she enjoyed her time at Wake as a student. “It became a special place for me, another genuine connection to my father. They still honor him in many ways.” [Indeed we do…and should, forever…it’s a great lesson for generations to come…]
“I don’t remember the last time I saw Gale Sayers. But he will always be a part of me, always someone important to my life. His spirit. His kindness. And his emotional speech at that awards ceremony my father was too sick to attend five decades ago – the one Billy Dee Williams replicated for the movie, the one that brings the tears….
“Please ask God to love Gale Sayers. Fifty years later, he and my father are together again.”
Tampa Bay took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final against Dallas on Friday night, Kevin Shattenkirk scoring a power-play goal in overtime as the Lightning won 5-4. [The Stars were miffed at the call against captain Jamie Benn that sent him to the penalty box, leading to the decider.]
But for the first time in a Stanley Cup Final they were playing back-to-back and Saturday night, in the bubble in Edmonton, the two sides met again.
And Dallas emerged victorious, 3-2, as Corey Perry scored his second of the game, 9:23 into the second overtime. The Stars survive, cutting the series to 3-2 with Game 6 on Monday.
Dallas’ only Stanley Cup win is 1998-99; Tampa Bay’s only title is 2003-04.
It takes awhile to get into a PL season, especially after the last one just ended seemingly weeks before, but if you want to be in Champions League contention you just can’t get off to poor starts.
Saturday, Chelsea, in its third game and coming off a 2-0 loss to Liverpool, went on the road to West Brom and suddenly the Blues were down 3-0 at the half. But the Blues rallied back and Tammy Abraham scored a stoppage-time equalizer to salvage a 3-3 draw.
How rare is a comeback from 3-0 at the intermission to avoid a loss? This was only the fifth time in Premier League history a team had done it.
It’s games like this you look back on in May if you’re struggling for the top four and a CL berth and this point could be critical.
So, today, conversely, Tottenham was robbed by the new handball rule, VAR giving Newcastle an injury-time penalty kick that they converted for the equalizer, my Spurs gaining just a point in a game they may long regret, 1-1. Tottenham should have been up 5-0, but Son Heung-min hit the post twice (or “woodwork” as they say across the pond), and Harry Kane was stopped on two spectacular saves by Magpies keeper Karl Darlow, who made 11 saves in all.
In other biggies…
Yesterday, Everton is now 3-0-0 after a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace. I have a soft spot for them after seeing an Everton scarf at the site where Buddy Holly’s plane went down in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Today, Leeds continued to impress, the newbie winning its second in three contests, 1-0 over Sheffield.
But the huge shocker was Leicester City 5, Manchester City 2! Ageless Jamie Vardy had a hat-trick. Very cool.
In this strange, awful, ugly, catastrophic year of 2020, it would be only fitting for 3 or 4 teams to crash the Big Six Empire…causing further chaos and destruction.
--Tottenham and Dele Alli appear to be on the verge of parting ways. Alli, still just 24, has been off form for the past 18 months after a superb start to his Spurs career. His playing time has been drastically reduced and he has not played for England’s national team in over a year.
--The Premier League is ending 8:15 p.m. kick-offs in order to allow fans to comply with new pub-curfew laws introduced in the UK.
A later start time for evening matches was introduced last season as part of a new round of broadcasting rights, but 8:15 p.m. makes it almost impossible for a match to finish by 10:00 p.m. when pubs are now expected to shut.
So it’s now 8:00.
It’s not expected that fans will be allowed to return to the stands until the spring.
--What a mess in Barcelona. First, you had the issue with Lionel Messi, who wanted to leave Barca but opted to stay for contractual reasons, and then Uruguay international star Luis Suarez signed with Atletico Madrid for two years. The 33-year-old striker joined Barca from Liverpool in 2014, winning the Champions League title in his first season in Spain. He would go on to score 198 goals in 283 appearances for the club, helping Barca to four league titles.
Messi was pissed to see his teammate go and felt Suarez deserved better from the club. Suarez had even agreed to take a backup role, but new coach Ronald Koeman told him he was not part of his plans.
Messi wrote on Instagram, ‘It will be strange to see you in another shirt and even stranger to play against you. You deserved to depart for who you are: one of the most important players in the club’s history, winning things as part of a group and individually. Not for them to kick you out as they have done. But the truth is nothing surprises me anymore.”
--Hudson Swafford won his second PGA Tour event today, the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.
The field for this one was as weak as you’ll find the entire 2020-21 wraparound season, given the Open having just been conducted.
But it was super important for those seeking to secure more Tour privileges in the coming year. Remember, because of the coronavirus, those with Tour cards for 2019-20 were automatically granted playing privileges for this season, thus limiting the opportunities for those who don’t have a card…like the up-and-comers on the Korn Ferry circuit.
Former Wake Forest Demon Deacon Will Zalatoris finished T-8, big for him as it gets him into next week’s Sanderson Farms event.
--When the U.S. Tennis Open was held in New York a few weeks ago, the field was a bit empty, with the likes of Rafael Nadal and numerous top women players having opted out over coronavirus fears, even though New York had things well in control regarding the virus.
So now the French Open has begun and France is recording record cases almost daily. Paris, for example, had largely opened up and officials were convincing Open participants there would be a semblance of normality vs. the bubble the USTA imposed at Flushing Meadows, but because of the spike, French officials have reintroduced strict limits on the size of gatherings, cutting by 90 percent the number of spectators that will be allowed at the tournament.
--Wake Forest college hoops fans have reason for a level of excitement…for next season, not necessarily this one, as in the past few days we have picked up some major commitments. Cameron Hildreth, one of the top international basketball recruits committed to join the Class of 2021. The 6-foot-5 guard was slated to be a leading player for Great Britain’s national team at the U18 European Championship in August, but the event was canceled due to the pandemic.
And days earlier, four-star point guard Carter Whitt announced his commitment to come to Wake.
--Dr. W. alerted me to the tragic story of the moose hunter killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska. No details were provided but the hunter was mauled and killed in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in southeast Alaska about a week ago.
It is the first known bear mauling death at the park.
National Park Service officials remind people going out in the park they need to carry bear spray and use bear-resistant food containers.
Just as we do here at StocksandNews when we go anywhere in the Tri-State area.
--There were a number of network news reports over the weekend on the use of dogs trained to detect coronavirus from test wipes, which just started at Helsinki Airport in Finland. Passengers swab their skin with a wipe and the wipes are handed over to the dogs to sniff. The University of Helsinki has demonstrated that trained dogs can smell the virus with almost 100 percent accuracy.
We’ll see how this goes over time, but I loved the look of the dogs, a motley group, that are being used. Very eager to do their part in controlling the pandemic, and thus it’s easy to see why they maintain their No. 1 status on the All-Species List.
--Finally, Tommy DeVito, a founding member of the Four Seasons, died right as I was going to post last time so just want to add a few words.
DeVito, 92, passed away after contracting Covid-19 in Las Vegas, where he has been living for years. His death was announced by two other founding members of the group, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio, who said he “would be missed by all who loved him.”
DeVito teamed up with Valli in 1956 and four years later they formed the Four Seasons with Gaudio and Nick Massi.
DeVito, who supplied baritone vocals and lead guitar for the band, quit in 1970 saying he was tired of touring.
He was born in Belleville, New Jersey, and with Valli began performing together in a group called the Four Lovers, which they changed to Four Season after Gaudio and Massi came onboard.
The close-harmony quartet rocketed to fame in the early 1960s with “Sherry” and other hits and earned new generations of fans when the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys” told a semi-factual version of the group’s story.
DeVito, in his own words, was “a hell-raiser” in his youth but found a purpose with music. In a 2008 interview with the music publication Goldmine, he recalled that his trio performed regularly at a bar in Belleville (which borders Newark), when Valli, a teenager six years younger than him, would sneak in to watch them play. He and the other band members knew Valli from the neighborhood and knew that he had pipes.
“I’d call him up to the stage and let him sing,” DeVito said. “He’d get off right away, because he wasn’t really supposed to be in there; he was underage.”
Before long Valli was part of the group, his falsetto vocals the signature sound. “Sherry,” the #1 1962 hit, was followed by #1 “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and another #1, “Walk Like A Man,” in 1963. Even after the British Invasion, they continued to crank out the hits, including #1 “Rag Doll” (1964) and #3 “Let’s Hang On!” (1965).
Some of my other personal favorites were 1965’s #12 “Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye)” and the #9 “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
As Brad K., a massive Four Seasons fan, would say, their songs are truly timeless…as fresh sounding today as they were 55 years ago.
Yikes, I feel so f’n old.
The Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Nick Massi died in 2000 at the age of 73.
DeVito didn’t have it easy after he left the group, having burned through his money, and he took jobs working in casinos and cleaning houses to get by.
The actor Joe Pesci, a friend since childhood (whose character in Martin Scorses’s “Goodfellas” is named for Mr. DeVito), had lived with DeVito for a time before he was famous, and once Pesci broke through, he repaid the favor, helping DeVito out and getting him bit parts in movies, including “Casino”, also directed by Scorsese.
Seeing a version of himself portrayed in “Jersey Boys” was startling, DeVito said. But he was comfortable with the show, which he described as “about 85 percent true to life.” He says he was not connected to organized crime, as the play implies.
“I was never part of the mob,” he said. “They might have asked me to play a private party or something, but they paid me for it. Mostly they asked me to do benefits.”
[Kind of like Jay Black of Jay & The Americans, mused the editor…cough cough…]
Top 3 songs for the week 9/24/77: #1 “Best Of My Love” (Emotions) #2 “Float On” (The Floaters…love this one…) #3 “Don’t Stop” (Fleetwood Mac)…and…#4 “Keep It Comin’ Love” (KC & The Sunshine Band) #5 “Strawberry Letter 23” (The Brothers Johnson) #6 “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” (Andy Gibb) #7 “Telephone Line” (Electric Light Orchestra) #8 “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” (Meco…hideous…) #9 “That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Shaun Cassidy) #10 “Cold As Ice” (Foreigner… ‘C’ week…)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Oldest players to hit 3 home runs in a game…
Stan Musial 41.229…1962-07-08…STL…3
Jason Giambi 40.131…2011-05-19…COL…3
Reggie Jackson 40.123…1986-09-18…CAL…3
Babe Ruth 40.108…1935-05-25…BSN…3*
Ruth was a remarkable 4-for-4 with six RBIs in an 11-7 loss to the Pirates at Forbes Field. His final game was five days later…May 30, 1935.
Next Bar Chat, Wednesday.
**I’ve now got Four Seasons tunes on my brain…and that’s a good thing…