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Validation...Bryson DeChambeau Wins the U.S. Open
[Posted Sun. p.m.]
*As in the past, I do not attempt to cover every NFL game…sorry, boys and girls.
Baseball Quiz: I was watching the Mets-Braves game last night and Robinson Cano hit the 1,300 mark in RBIs. So in looking at his career I noticed he has 569 doubles, No. 28 on the all-time list in that category. Name the only four with 700. [Hint: there is some symmetry here. Two saw their careers both end in 1928. The other two shared the year 1963 in a certain fashion.] Answer below.
Once we heard this one was being rescheduled, us golf fans have been eagerly awaiting the return to classic Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York. I thought over-par would be the winning score and after an easy first round, Justin Thomas taking the lead with a 5-under 65, Winged Foot showed its teeth as the wind picked up Friday.
Heading into the weekend, after 36 holes….
Patrick Reed -4
Bryson “Bison” DeChambeau -3
Rafa Cabrera Belo -2
Harris English -2
Justin Thomas -2 (73 second round)
Jason Kokrak -1
Reed and “Bison” as a final pairing was delicious…the two most polarizing figures in the sport. DeChambeau has had battles with fire ants, Reed has bunker-gate most recently (and a slew of other past transgressions going back to college).
21-year-old Matthew Wolff, who started the third round at Even, then proceeded to go -4 his first seven, while Bison bogeyed his first two (which some of us thoroughly enjoyed), and Wolff and Reed were tied at -4 early on Saturday.
Then it was…
Wolff -5 thru 12
Reed -5 thru 9
Then things really changed, with Reed having a +8, 43, back nine to balloon to +3 for the tournament.
And at the end of round three we had….
Wolff -5…with a sterling 65 despite hitting just two fairways
Luis Oosthuizen -1
Hideki Matsuyama E
Harris English E
Xander Schauffele E
Rory McIlroy +1…after a 68
Justin Thomas had his second straight poor round, 76, and found himself +3 after 54.
So the wind was up in the morning and on the brutal first hole, Rory four-putted for a double-bogey, Harris English lost his tee shot in the rough, had to go back to the tee for his third, ended up double-bogey. Hideki Matsuyama had a double-bogey. What a shitshow.
But Wolff and Bison parred it, parred No. 2, Wolff bogeyed No. 3, DeChambeau birdied No. 4, Wolff bogeyed No. 5 and after the opening five brutal holes we had….
Oosthuizen -1 thru 6
Well both Wolff and Bison bogeyed 8, but then had the 556-yard par-5 ninth and both were on in two, Wolff with a legitimate eagle attempt.
Only DeChambeau makes a bomb for eagle that I didn’t think was possible, and Wolff makes his!
Schauffele E thru 11
English E thru 11
Oosthuizen +1 thru 10
But Wolff bogeys 10 and Bison birdies 11…
Schauffele E thru 12
English E thru 12
The margin remained three thru 13, but then Wolff bogeyed 14 to fall four back.
And then he double-bogeyed 16 to fall six back and that’s where it ended.
Yes, validation for Bryson DeChambeau, his first major but his seventh Tour win at age 27. He hit just 23 fairways for the tournament. In the modern era the fewest since Angel Cabrera’s 27 at Oakmont in 2007.
Has he truly changed the sport? As in, will all the upcoming college players, and the Big Three of Wolff, Morikawa and Hovland follow suit? We’ll see. For now, we have The Masters coming up…a tradition unlike any other…in November…on CBS.
--NBC did a poor job in describing Wolff’s career thus far. This is a guy whose results are as “loose” as his swing, versus Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland. More on this next time, but while Morikawa at one point had two wins and one missed cut, the first to do so since Tiger, Wolff had a MC, MC, T58 and T52 before the shutdown, and in his 11 tournaments since the reopening prior to the Open, had two top 10s, but three more missed cuts. The guy needs to develop more consistency, and I’m guessing you’ll see major swing changes in two years.
--I have no problem with Dan Hicks as an announcer most of the time, but his local knowledge, as a member at Winged Foot, was non-existent. He made some terrible calls on approach shots, for example. As in he’s no Jim Nantz.
--The cut was at +6 and among the names not making the weekend were Collin Morikawa (+7), defending champion Gary Woodland (+8), Tommy Fleetwood (+8), Justin Rose (+10) and Jordan Spieth (+14), whose misery continues (ditto Rose, for that matter…five MCs in nine events since the restart).
And then you had Tiger Woods (+10) and Phil Mickelson (+13).
One sign of the times. Justin Thomas and Tiger played together the first two rounds and in head-to-head rounds, JT is now 14-3-3 against the legend.
Tiger has now missed eight cuts in his last 14 majors (six years); eight of his eleven career major cuts, having suffered just three in his first 17 years.
Mickelson, 50, who recently won his debut on the Champions tour, said he didn’t know if this was his last U.S. Open.
--Danny Lee made the cut, but on Saturday had a nine….9…on the par-4 18th, with six putts! He then withdrew with a “wrist injury.”
According to Golf Digest, “After the four-footer for par, Lee faced putts from six feet, six feet, seven feet, four feet, and seven feet. Marshals would later describe the situation as ‘whack-a-mole.’” [Apparently the cameras weren’t on to catch the disaster.]
--John Pak was the only amateur to make the cut out of 13 playing, finishing T51. The kid is out of Scotch Plains, NJ, just 15 minutes from here, though Florida is his new home. Good on him.
--Rickie Fowler finished T49, making it 13 events without a top ten. His Q Score is falling. [The buzz surrounding his name….also known as Q-Rating.]
--They showed a plaque at Winged Foot for the late Tom Nieporte, a longtime pro there. I had a fondness for the guy when I’d see him mentioned over the years.
It goes back to 1967, and my first tournament at age nine, the U.S. Open at neighboring Baltusrol. I was a fan, but mostly knew just Arnie and Jack and a few others. So my mother (who was in love with 22-year-old Johnny Miller…all the women were in lust with Johnny then….) and I followed a group that included Nieporte and Frank Boynton. Nieporte was on tour then (and won three times, including the Bob Hope Desert Classic earlier in the year, his last win), but I think Boynton was a club pro. The point is, you never forget these first memories, or the names. At my age I can’t remember what I did yesterday, but I’ll remember them forever. [Jack won in ’67 by four over Arnie.]
--Phil Mickelson’s Amstel Light commercials are terrific. He may be washed up as a PGA Tour player, but he’s learned to pull off the Arnie act in terms of sponsorships; though it’s another reason why he does need to play the Champions Tour for further exposure.
--Giannis Antetokounmpo was named league MVP for a second consecutive year, after winning the Defensive Player of the Year award earlier, thus becoming just the third player in league history to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Antetokounmpo got 85 votes from the 100-person panel of global sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league, while LeBron got the other 15 first-place votes.
--LeBron said the MVP vote wasn’t a motivating factor the rest of the way, but the Lakers defeated the Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Friday, 126-114, L.A. holding Denver star Nikola Jokic to a pedestrian 21 points and six rebounds, the Lakers with a 103-79 lead after three quarters.
Game 2 is being played tonight as I go to post.
Denver had made history Tuesday, coming back twice in one postseason from a 3-1 series deficit, defeating the Clippers 104-89 in Game 7 of their Western Conference semi, Jokic with 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists, and teammate Jamal Murray scoring 40 points on 15 of 26 shooting, while for L.A., Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were a combined 10 of 38 from the field, 4 of 18 from three. Just a pure choke job. And an extraordinary postseason for the Nuggets.
Los Angeles sports fans are miffed….they deserved a City Championship between the Clippers and Lakers.
Back to LeBron James, not that he didn’t think Giannis should have won, he just questions the voting process and the thought behind it. That said, he made history when he was named to a 16th All-NBA team in his 17-year career, which snapped a tie with Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in league history.
[Others on the first team were teammate Anthony Davis, Giannis, James Harden, and Luka Doncic.]
--In the Eastern Conference finals, Miami had taken a 2-0 lead over Boston on Thursday with a 106-101 victory, overcoming a 17-point deficit, but then the Celtics recovered last night in Game 3, 117-106…Game 4 Monday.
The Stanley Cup Final commenced last night in the bubble in Edmonton and Dallas dominated Tampa Bay 4-1. The Lightning had advanced to the final on Thursday with a 2-1 win over the Islanders, taking that series 4-2. New York nonetheless had a great season and better things lie ahead.
Game 2 is Monday night.
--What a strange season for the Yankees. A 16-6 start, then a 5-15 swoon to plummet to 21-21. Yankees fans were apoplectic. The playoffs were very much in doubt.
But then the Yankees received some outstanding pitching, Gerrit Cole with two great starts to move to 6-3, 3.00, Luke Voit hit a bunch of homers, and then Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton returned. Even Gary Sanchez had a big moment Friday and suddenly, entering Saturday’s game against the Red Sox, the Yanks had won nine in a row, were 30-21, and being talked about as the World Series winner. Until Friday, when they hit just one, they had a major league record 19 home runs over a three-game stretch, including a franchise best five homers in one inning on Thursday, which also tied the MLB mark.
Saturday night, the Yanks then beat Boston again, 8-0, as J.A. Happ threw eight scoreless, no walks, nine strikeouts. Ten straight for the Bronx Bombers.
But they lost today to the Red Sox 10-2.
--As for the crosstown Metsies, entering play against the Braves Friday, while New York was just 23-27, they were only 1 ½ games back of a playoff spot after an exciting 10-6 win on Thursday against the Phillies.
But it’s been this kind of season for us fans. Every time you think we’re getting it together, you realize we are woefully short when it comes to starting pitching.
So Friday, the Mets sent Steven Matz to the mound. Matz hadn’t pitched in weeks, because his first few starts were historically bad. And he royally sucked again…2 2/3, 6 runs, 8 hits…the Mets going on to lose 15-2.
Matz, who showed signs the last two seasons of being a solid No. 4 starter, is now 0-5 with a 9.79 ERA! In his last four outings, he has given up 25 earned runs over 14 1/3 for a 15.70 ERA.
“It’s been a frustrating year for me,” Matz said after.
Frustrating?! Try “Horrible.” I can’t imagine what new owner-to-be Steve Cohen is thinking.
The Mets won Saturday but then lost today 7-0 and it’s essentially over…now 24-29.
--The White Sox clinched their first playoff berth since 2008, and Tampa Bay cruised into the postseason. Ditto the Dodgers and A’s, and then Minnesota yesterday. For the Dodgers it is their eighth consecutive trip to the playoffs, marking the third-longest playoff streak in MLB history, trailing only that of the 1991-2005 Atlanta Braves (14) and the 1995-2007 New York Yankees (13).
Saturday, in a 6-1 win over Colorado, Clayton Kershaw went 7 innings, one run, to improve to 6-2, 2.15.
--Hey, guess what happened Saturday overall in MLB? Pitching broke out…really…old-fashioned pitching. In 12 of the 15 games, the winner held the opposition to two runs or less. Kind of quaint.
--Albert Pujols hit home runs No. 661 and 662 on Friday night, passing Willie May for fifth on the all-time list.
--Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire announced he was retiring. The 62-year-old longtime former Twins skipper cited various health issues, including the stress of managing a team amid the coronavirus.
“It’s been wonderful here, but I also know I have to take care of myself,” said Gardenhire, who was nearing the end of his third season with the Tigers. “When you come to the ballpark, and you’re stressed out all day, and your hands are shaking, that’s not fun. I’ve got grandbabies; I’ve got kids that I need to care of, and my wife.”
Gardenhire has had cancer and diabetes and recently missed a couple of games because of stomach issues.
“Gardy” had a good 13-year run with the Twins, guiding them to six AL Central titles, though with little postseason success. He then had to deal with a Detroit franchise in total rebuilding mode, including a 47-114 mark last year.
Bench coach Lloyd McClendon is taking over the rest of the way, Detroit’s season scheduled to end Sept. 27.
--The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay interviewed baseball writing legend Roger Angell, who turned 100 on Saturday.
Gay first asked him about his thoughts on the passing of Tom Seaver. “What made him different?”
Angell: His pitching and his personality. Certainly in the first years he was around, he was boyish, collegiate, extremely intelligent, excited and happy to be there. He was the personification of the sense of pleasure that real fans get out of baseball. He seemed to enjoy every minute of it. His intelligence shone around him all the time.
Gay asked Angell about this strange year. “They’re starting extra innings with a runner on second base. What do you think of this short, radical season?”
Angell: I can understand this business of putting a batter on second base, but it goes against every baseball instinct that I have, because the heart of the game is that you have to earn every base, and suddenly that’s been abrogated. Seven inning games, I guess I understand, but seven is a very different game than nine.
I think baseball should be much brisker, but not shorter. I hate the idea that you want to get the game over with. I always felt, as a fan, if the game went into extra innings, great: More baseball. And if it stretched on into extra innings, and ended up with more and more extra innings, all the better.
That extraordinary 16-inning [1986 NLCS] game with Houston and the Mets that tied up New York for hours and hours was absolutely amazing – like nothing else anybody’s ever experienced. I wrote at length about it. All over town, they’re making announcements about the score – from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. When it was over, I heard from somebody who was running around the reservoir in Central Park and they [described] it as a sigh that went over the city. [Wrote Angell in 1986: It came from everywhere around the Park, he said, and wasn’t a shout or a roar but a sudden great murmuring of the city. The Mets had won.]
Gay: If you were given a time machine, and you could go back and watch any baseball player of any era, who would you choose?
Angell: Well, the people I’ve seen. I guess I would start with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Willie Mays, most of all. To me, Mays is the greatest player ever, but who knows. All the athletes today are so great. It’s really hard to compare with players of a different era, but Mays is still No. 1 to me. I would want to see Carl Hubbell, Jim Palmer, Seaver. A whole number of people, I have a lot [of names]. Pedro Martinez. I would bring back Ted Williams in a minute, Willie McCovey, Dan Quisenberry…
I loved seeing Angel’s comment on how he follows baseball today.
I can follow the great Mets [broadcast] trio of Keith [Hernandez] and Ron [Darling] and Gary Cohen – they’re the best announcers in baseball, and great company over a span of two to three hours.
That’s what I have said for years. So often they are the only reason to tune in.
Angell recalled attending the great Yale versus St. John’s college playoff game, 1981, when Darling pitched an 11-inning no-hitter for Yale, but lost to St. John’s Frank Viola. Turns out he went with Smoky Joe Wood, then 91 and living in New Haven.
So we wish Roger Angell a very happy 100th birthday. Yes, I bought all his books and devoured them in my youth. I wish I had the time to go back and read them all over again.
--Bob S. passed on an interesting note from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler, related to the pending sale of the Mets to Steve Cohen for $2.4 billion, assuming the ethically challenged Cohen gains the approval of 23 of 30 owners. [Mets fans don’t care about ethics…we just want a winner, he wrote, just half in jest.]
It has to do with the stadium workers.
“Hey, team owners, pay your workers.
“It’s almost as if all the pro team owners made a secret pact to limit the ‘help’ they gave to their part-time, game-day employees: ushers, janitors, hot-dog vendors. Across the board, teams gave these folks a one-time check ranging from $500 to $1,250.
“These are the people who make the show go. They are hurting. Why not do more for them, owners?
“According to a story in the Nation, it would cost MLB $285 million to pay the 39,000 various stadium employees what they would have earned this season. That’s $9.5 million per team.
“That’s a lot of dough, but consider: The Nation says the 30 MLB teams are worth over $55 billion combined, and the 30 principal owners are worth $78 billion. Charles Johnson was part of the group that bought the Giants for $100 million in 1993 and the team is worth $3.1 billion now.
“Many of the folks who sold the beer and scrubbed the toilets are losing their homes or apartments. Many are missing meals. Approximately zero pro sports-team owners will become homeless or hungry. You are in a position to do more to help.
“The Nation’s argument: ‘The 39,000 (MLB) stadium workers are in no better or worse shape than the tens of millions of other low-wage workers (who lost jobs in the pandemic). The only difference is that they work for an industry that is one of the most visible in the U.S. economy, that the teams they work for are among the most profitable corporations in the country, and that the owners who control those companies are among the wealthiest individuals in the nation.’
“Brothers (and sisters), can you spare a dime?”
--With the final pairing at the U.S. Open teeing off at 1:30, I thought I’d catch the start of the Jets and San Francisco in the Meadowlands and how bad does my team suck? Try Raheem Mostert rumbling down the right sideline for 80 yards on the first freakin’ play of the game!!!
I then looked over at the Giants-Bears contest in Chicago and Mitchell Trubisky engineered an opening 12-play, 82-yard drive for a score!
You can’t make this stuff up. San Fran was up 21-3 at the half, Chicago 17-0, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones with an interception and fumble.
Yup, right quick I was back to the Open and didn’t dare turn the dial again.
Well…the Jets ended up losing 31-13, but the 49ers lost Jimmy Garoppolo and Mostert to injuries, while DE Nick Bosa and DT Solomon Thomas were carted off.
And then the Giants played much better in the second half, only to lose 17-13, but, most importantly, it’s feared Saquon Barkley tore his ACL.
--In the game of the day, thus far, the Cowboys trailed the Falcons 20-0 and 29-10 at the half at Jerry World.
But then Dallas mounted a comeback for the ages, down 39-24 with 7:57 left, scoring two touchdowns to cut it to 39-37, and then on an incredibly awful job by Atlanta, the Falcons failed to cover the onside kick, unheard of today given all the rules changes, and Greg Zuerlein kicked a 46-yard field goal as time expired for the 40-39 win.
Atlanta should have to forfeit its next game for incompetence.
--The Packers defeated the Lions 42-21. Aaron Rodgers, two TD passes, has been crying for help on ‘O’ and he got it in the form of running back Aaron Jones today, 18 carries for 168 yards and two touchdowns, plus four receptions for 68 and another score.
--Big Ben and the Steelers are 2-0 after defeating the Broncos 26-21, Notre Dame rookie Chase Claypool the recipient of an 84-yard bomb from Roethlisberger, Pitt alum James Conner with 106 yards on the ground.
--The Ravens, your “Pick to Click” for the Super Bowl (as much as I really don’t want to see this), defeated the Texans 33-16.
--Great game in Los Angeles, the Chargers falling in OT 23-20 to the Chiefs, as the amazing K.C. kicker Harrison Butker nailed a 58-yarder. Summit High School’s Michael Badgley was 2 for 2, but rookie L.A. QB Justin Herbert out of Oregon couldn’t get anything done in overtime, despite having a solid 22/33, 311, 1-1, 94.4 performance against the defending Super Bowl champs.
--Thursday, Baker Mayfield looked good as he led Cleveland to a 35-30 win over Cincinnati and their rookie QB, Joe Burrow, who was 37/61, 3 touchdown passes, but the 61 attempts yielded just 316 yards.
Mayfield was a cool 16/23, 219, 2-1, 110.6, as the Browns also got 124 rushing and two TDs from Nick Chubb.
But back to Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner is the real deal. The Bengals did right in taking him.
--We note the passing of Hall of Famer Larry Wilson, 82. One of the greatest players in Cardinals history, Wilson spent his entire career, both as a player and administrator, with the team, including 1960-72 as an eight-time Pro Bowl safety in St. Louis. Wilson finished his career with 52 interceptions, including five returned for a touchdown.
Cardinals executive Bill Bidwill back in 1959 flew out to Salt Lake City to see if he could sign the seventh-round pick, a skinny running back and defensive back out of Utah.
Bidwill offered Wilson a contract that included a $7,500 salary, including a $500 advance. The Bills, the AFL team that had drafted Wilson, matched the offer, but declined to pay anything up front.
So for $500, Wilson became a Cardinal.
“Besides my father, Larry Wilson was the most influential male figure in my life,” Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “He was someone who truly lived his faith and demonstrated it daily in the kindness he showed every single person he met. Any of us lucky enough to be in his orbit – whether that was for a few minutes or four decades – was always better off from the experience. I will remember Larry Wilson first as a fantastic person but then obviously as one of the greatest players the National Football League has ever seen.”
Only 6-feet and 190 pounds, Wilson was fearless and tough. He once played a game with casts on both hands and intercepted a pass.
“That was, and is, Larry Wilson,” Bill Bidwill once said. “We decided to retire Larry’s number two years before he retired.”
After his playing career ended following the 1972 season, Wilson took a job in the team’s front office and worked in a variety of roles until retiring in 2003.
How do you get enthused about the season? Baylor and Houston were to play on Saturday until the Bears announced they did not reach the Big 12’s Covid-10 game cancellation thresholds. It’s the third time Houston has seen its opener disappear, and the second instance for Baylor, though the Bears’ first was a result of Hurricane Laura.
The thresholds specify that the minimum number of players required for a game is 53, with additional minimums of available offensive linemen (seven), interior defensive linemen (four) and quarterbacks (one).
Charlotte and No. 12 North Carolina could not play after the 49ers lost their offensive line due to contact tracing, and Florida Atlantic’s game against Georgia Southern was postponed as well.
Earlier BYU canceled its game against Army for Covid reasons. And now Memphis has canceled its game against UTSA next Friday, marking the second straight contest it will not play due to an outbreak inside its program.
But interest will increase next weekend when the SEC begins play.
For now, No. 1 Clemson blitzed Citadel 49-0 by halftime, and that’s where the score ended up, as Trevor Lawrence was 8 of 9, 168 yards, 3 touchdowns, and then was given the rest of the game off.
Pitt beat Syracuse 21-10 to go to 2-0.
And I watched the Wake Forest-North Carolina State game last night, which turned out to be highly entertaining, the Deacs coming back from 21-7 and 35-21 deficits to take a 42-38 lead, but Wake’s defense was horrid, allowing six touchdown drives of 50 yards or more and the Wolfpack earned the victory with a late last drive. Defense was supposed to be our strongpoint this season.
Central Florida had an important 49-21 win at Georgia Tech, cementing the Knights’ status as the team to beat in the Group of Five.
Miami had a solid ACC win over Louisville, 47-34, as Houston transfer D’Eriq King has been a difference maker at quarterback for the Hurricanes.
And Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec provided a spark at QB for Boston College as the Eagles beat Duke 26-6 in first-year coach Jeff Hafley’s debut.
Appalachian State’s dream of a New Year’s Six Bowl ended with a 17-7 loss at Marshall.
Notre Dame annihilated South Florida 52-0.
Navy had a spectacular win at Tulane. Down 24-0 at the half, the Midshipmen rallied to score 27 unanswered, including a final-second field goal…a comeback for the ages, 27-24.
--Clemson coach Dabo Swinney agreed to forgo $1.25 million in scheduled compensation due to Covid’s financial impact on the university and its athletics department, according to an agreement obtained by USA TODAY Sports on Friday.
But don’t cry for Dabo, as the reductions, including a $250,000 raise that had been set to kick in on Jan. 1, represent just over 13% of the $9.375 million that Swinney was due to make during the university’s 2021 fiscal year, which ends June 30.
--Meanwhile, the Big Ten reversed course and announced it would be returning Oct. 24 with an eight-game conference schedule.
The opening weekend of play will be highlighted by Nebraska’s game at Ohio State and Michigan visiting Minnesota. The following week the Buckeyes play at Penn State, and Michigan State travels to Michigan. The Ohio State-Michigan game is Dec. 12 in Columbus, so hopefully there will be a blizzard as the rest of us snuggle up at home with our beer, the occasional Election vote-counting update interrupting our attention, National Guard troops on the streets nationwide.
Just a little Election Day Chaos humor, sports fans!
The Big Ten title game will be Dec. 19.
Big Ten teams will play all six opponents in their division as usual, plus two cross-division games. While the division leaders meet in the Big Ten title game, the others will play a final game, No. 2 in the East facing No. 2 in the West and so forth.
We pray this works out. It would be good for all of us…a great sign re the pandemic.
Now ask me if I’m optimistic it will all go according to plan.
--Barry Svrluga / Washington Post
“Here is how important college football is in this country. By Tuesday afternoon, the University of Wisconsin had 2,160 students who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and all classes were being held virtually. On Wednesday, Barry Alvarez, the school’s athletic director, said: ‘Our athletes will be able to start practice immediately.’
“Here’s how important college football is in the Big Ten: At Michigan State, local authorities ordered that students in 30 large residences must quarantine for two weeks because coronavirus cases were dramatically spiking at the school. The county health officer said in a statement: ‘There is an outbreak centered on Michigan State University, and it is quickly becoming a crisis. The surge in cases we have seen over the past few weeks is alarming.’
“The coronavirus pandemic has completely laid bare the contemptible nature of college athletics. The Big Ten’s decision to reverse course and try to stage a football season made it as crisp and clear as Saturday afternoon in the fall: Athletic departments do not exist to afford opportunities to compete for thousands of ‘student-athletes.’ Rather, they exist to stage college football seasons. The other stuff is just pretty banners and shiny trophies.
“Oh, and this: There is a line now on Big Ten campuses dividing students who play varsity sports and those who don’t.
“Think about the disparity here. The conference, at its expense, will provide coronavirus tests every single day to a junior economics major if he happens to play football and a sophomore sociology major who excels at soccer and not to the kids who sit alongside them in class – virtually or in person – but don’t play sports.
“That’s a caste system. The scholarship football player finds out whether he is healthy every day. The out-of-state future chemist paying $45,000 a year to attend virtual classes from her dorm room has no such confidence. And the idea that college football players are merely a subset of the greater student population – like members of the debate team or the band – is torn to shreds….
“Put simply, physics majors don’t generate money for their schools. Quarterbacks do. But more than that: The schools that make up the Big Ten are institutions of higher learning. The Big Ten itself is a massive business that stages athletic competitions and creates content for its media partners. The objectives of those two entities don’t always align.
“According to Sports Business Journal, the Big Ten’s six-year broadcast deal with ESPN and Fox is worth $2.64 billion. (Yes, that’s with a ‘B.’) With no football games, this year’s cut of that money doesn’t exist. Without this year’s’ cut of that money, athletic departments could collapse. Throw in a potential windfall from the College Football Playoff – which intends to stage its three games this year, even with the Pac-12 still sitting out* - and the financial part of this about-face is as obvious as an elephant in the corner of an elevator. There’s no place to hide the reasoning….
*Ed. The Pac-12 said it will make a decision on having a season this coming Thursday.
“Maybe the Big Ten will pull off its season. Maybe Ohio State or Penn State or Michigan will qualify for the College Football Playoff. Maybe these games will buoy the college towns they’re in. And the games – man, there could be some good ones.
“But college football is advertised as being part of the greater university community, integrated seamlessly. The pandemic reinforces it’s not. Ask the linebacker who is back on campus being tested every single day and the linguist who is quarantined in her sorority house – and is not.”
The NCAA’s Division I Council settled on a date to start a 2020-21 college basketball season, Nov. 25, noting that the lack of students on campuses after Thanksgiving will help with Covid-19 safety measures.
Except I thought the experts agreed the kids were supposed to stay on campus over Thanksgiving, so there was no back and forth to home before the end of the semester…at which point the students would get a long Christmas break.
As in the reasoning by the Council is stupid, but we hope for the best. Practice begins Oct. 14.
We will have fewer non-league games, exact numbers not known but looking like 24 or 25 overall, so that makes it hard for the NCAA tournament selection committee in looking at schools like Gonzaga without marquee non-conference wins. Conferences will no doubt hold multiple games in controlled environments, like eight teams playing in Greensboro, N.C., for example.
And how will the committee assess teams that may lose key games because a player or two is out with coronavirus?
Kevin Harvick won Saturday night’s Cup playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway in front of a sold-out crowd of 30,000, the most allowed and the largest since March. It was Harvick’s ninth win of a phenomenal season, 58th of his career.
Four drivers were knocked out of the Chase for the Cup…William Byron, Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto, and Ryan Blaney.
We now begin the three-race Round of 12 to cut the playoff field to eight drivers.
--Tottenham re-signed Wales forward Gareth Bale from Spanish champions Real Madrid on a season-long loan.
Bale, 31, left the Spurs for a then-world record roughly $100 million fee in 2013 and went on to score more than 100 goals and win four Champions Leagues with Real.
“It’s nice to be back. It’s such a special club to me. It’s where I made my name,” said Bale.
Bale has a knee injury and anticipates returning Oct. 17.
“I’m hungry and motivated,” he said.
Bale originally joined Tottenham as a 17-year-old from Southampton in 2007.
So Tottenham then played at Southampton today and blitzed the Saints 5-2, Son Heung-min with a spectacular four goals, Harry Kane the fifth. Kane, who had two assists all of last season, assisted on all four scores for the South Korean star.
If Gareth Bale can return to near star form, suddenly the Spurs have as good a front line as there is in the sport.
In other games of note, Saturday, Crystal Palace had its way with Manchester United, 3-1, in a mini-shocker; Arsenal defeated West Ham 2-1; Everton won its second, 5-2 over West Brom, and Leeds again showed it belongs, 4-3 over Fulham.
And then this afternoon, Liverpool showed it wants to retain its title with a 2-0 win over Chelsea behind Sadio Mane’s two goals.
Top 3 songs for the week 9/20/75: #1 “Fame” (David Bowie) #2 “Rhinestone Cowboy” (Glen Campbell) #3 “At Seventeen” (Janis Ian)…and…#4 “I’m Sorry” (John Denver) #5 “Fight The Power, Part I” (The Isley Brothers) #6 “Could It Be Magic” (Barry Manilow) #7 “Run, Joey Run” (David Geddes) #8 “Fallin’ In Love” (Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds…great tune…) #9 “Wasted Days And Wasted Nights” (Freddy Fender) #10 “Feel Like Makin’ Love” (Bad Company…B- week…)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Four with 700 doubles….
Tris Speaker (1907-28)…792
Pete Rose (1963-86)…746
Stan Musial (1941-63)…725
Ty Cobb (1905-28)…724
Next Bar Chat, Wednesday.