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Remembering Bob Gibson...and a few others
[Posted Sun. p.m., prior to Game 3, Lakers-Heat]
***All kinds of stuff happening late and I make no apologies for barely covering the NFL action. Within minutes we had great finishes in NASCAR and Golf and, you know, I watch it all. The NFL has the stage all fall and early winter….fingers crossed. Freakin’ mask up, people!***
Sun Belt Conference Quiz: Where are the following schools located? Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, Texas State, Arkansas State. Answer below.
--Yes, the NBA Finals have been a yawner and the Lakers should roll to the title, up 2-0 after 116-98 and 124-114 wins the first two contests down in the bubble.
It’s been all about the Big Two, LeBron James and Anthony Davis…LeBron with games of 25-13-9 and 33-9-9, while Davis was 34-9-5 in Game 1 and 32 and 14 in Game 2.
Pretty simple story line. It’s why the Lakers were aggressive in obtaining A.D. last year. That’s what every fan of their favorite team wants to see.
It does need to be noted that as for the Heat, they played Game 2 without point guard Goran Dragic and center Bam Adebayo, who were sidelined with injuries sustained in Game 1.
--Meanwhile, so much for my idea of Doc Rivers taking a year off and then running for the Senate, after Dianne Feinstein steps down early (2022, rather than when her term expires in 2024)…not to inject politics into Bar Chat, but the old bag has to go.
Rivers instead decided just three days after he and the Clippers parted ways to agree to terms with the Philadelphia 76ers. My idea was better.
College Football could be heading for a crash if it doesn’t rein in some of the recklessness in terms of crowd control, like at the Georgia-Auburn game in Athens, where the crowd was clearly over the 20-25% allowed. Or the incident at the SMU-Memphis game, where the SMU student section had to be broken up. But we’ll never learn.
Anyway, just a few contests of note.
No. 1 Clemson beat a stubborn Virginia, 41-23, as Jets future quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw three touchdown passes, but the Cavaliers proving they’ll be a tough opponent the rest of the way.
2 Alabama easily handled 13 Texas A&M 52-24 as Mac Jones threw for 435 yards and four touchdowns, sophomore wideout John Metchie III with five catches for 181 yards and two TDs; a big breakout game for the sophomore.
3 Florida rode Kyle Trask’s four touchdown passes (10 in two games for the lad) to a 38-24 win over South Carolina.
4 Georgia easily took care of 7 Auburn 27-6.
9 Texas, for yet another season, proved it is nothing more than a pretender, falling to TCU 33-31, as the Horned Frogs’ Max Duggan totally outplayed Longhorns veteran QB Sam Ehlinger.
So much for the Big 12’s College Football Playoff dreams, especially as Iowa State beat the now 1-2 Sooners at home for the first time since 1960, 37-30 in Ames.
12 North Carolina will move up a few slots after a tough 26-22 win at Boston College.
Aforementioned SMU did have a nice 30-27 win over 25 Memphis as Shane Buechele threw for 474 yards and three scores, two of which went to Reggie Roberson Jr., who had 243 yards on five receptions. Paul P.’s Mustangs are now in the Group of Five, New Year’s Six conversation, if the players can stay away from the students, who will be all infected after Saturday’s actions.
And then there was a game I watched a lot of….an entertaining affair, North Carolina State at 24 Pitt. In a back-and-forth contest, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett snuck it in from the one-yard line late to take a 29-24 lead, but then Taysir Mack dropped a two-point conversion attempt and this closet Panthers fan let out a loud “Ugh!” [Or something that rhymes with Pitt.]
There was 1:44 left, the Wolfpack drove down the field, quarterback Devin Leary in his first start converting a critical fourth-and-9, and then a holding penalty against Pitt, after which Leary converted a beautiful back-shoulder throw to Emeka Emezie for his fourth touchdown pass of the day and a 30-29 win for N.C. State. Awful loss for Pitt. “Drat!”
--Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott asked the College Football Playoff management committee on Wednesday to consider expanding this year’s playoff to eight teams but the proposal was declined, playoff executive director Bill Hancock told USA TODAY Sports.
“After thorough, respectful and civil discussion, they decided that the best outcome would be to make no changes in the format, because it would have been such a significant change and would come with so many challenges, especially given that the season is already underway,” Hancock said.
Sorry Pac-12, and your seven-game schedule. The final four is set already. Clemson, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State, assuming the Big Ten can get its nine-game schedule in (which from a Covid standpoint and flu season in the damp Midwest seems like a huge stretch).
--Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John Jenkins, goes into the December file for the wrong reason, Jenkins having tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House two Saturdays ago, not wearing a mask, while being the same guy who ordered his school to go to virtual learning for two weeks after a spike in cases in South Bend. Many of the students are rightfully furious at Jenkins’ incredibly hypocritical behavior.
In a statement this week, Jenkins said, “I regret my error in judgment” for not wearing a mask and shaking hands during the nomination ceremony. Cue Jeff Spicoli.
--And the new AP Top 25….
1. Clemson (52) 3-0
2. Alabama (8) 2-0
3. Georgia 2-0
4. Florida 2-0
5. Notre Dame 2-0
6. Ohio State (2) 0-0
7. Miami 3-0
8. North Carolina 2-0
9. Penn State 0-0
10. Oklahoma State 3-0
11. Cincinnati 3-0
12. Oregon 0-0…quack quack…cheerleaders practicing hard…
18. SMU 4-0…behave, kids!!!
23. Louisiana 3-0…go Rajin’ Cajuns…
--New England quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and the NFL postponed the Patriots’ game at Kansas City that had been scheduled for this afternoon, with the game now to be played Monday night, pending further Covid testing, though this would mean New England and Bill Belichick have to go with Brian Hoyer at QB against Patrick Mahomes.
So it was the second game postponed, after the Tennessee Titans came up with a slew of positive test results, including for eight players and eight personnel at last count. The Titans game against the Steelers has now been rescheduled for Week 7.
The NFL has done an admirable job thus far, but a lot of us thought the inevitable problems would surface in November, not the first weekend in October, just given the whole issue with Covid colliding with flu season.
College football was always different…the whole issue of kids being kids, athletes mixing with the students, and so I never thought, going back a month, we’d get in any semblance of a real season…but everyone’s trying to do so.
For now…we look to the NFL.
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“If you’re sick as I am of manipulative shysters who cover their moral grime with makeup, the vapid put-ons who can’t even open a screw-top bottle but somehow think they can run a country, then you’re probably anxious to see some real leadership in how the NFL handles its novel coronavirus crisis. The league was never going to get through this season without a health issue, and now that it’s here, in the form of a slew of positive tests that includes Cam Newton, the only thing to do is to be an example for the land, put transparency ahead of the smell of fresh money and declare where mistakes might have been made, to get on with the fix and protect the innocent bystanders.
“One of the benefits of watching ‘the perspiring arts,’ as the late great sportswriter Blackie Sherrod called them, is that the best teams traffic in self-honesty. They admit mistakes so they can transform their setbacks into setups for success. It’s more apparent than ever that Americans could use some of that. You would like to think championship coaches such as Andy Reid and Bill Belichick will show us how good leaders turn things around: They don’t worry about how they look in masks, and they don’t pretend their bad calls were strokes of genius. Rather, they bring deeply learned, experiential skill to guiding a complex organization to the right heading.
“The NFL is facing a massive challenge, but its challenge is no different from the nation’s. How do you reopen business, deal with inevitable risk and yet keep your people and your people’s people and your town as safe as possible? You do that with good information, sound processes and leaders who make reason- and experience-based judgments. You do it while understanding that some failures are unavoidable, that not everyone will be perfect and that positive tests might return. And you do it with the knowledge that panicked flailing, crossed messages of defeatism will only make matters worse….
“You wish every NFL team and player would handle their decisions with adherence to process. Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the main league office deserved credit for the example they set in the last months: the virtual offseason, the draft, training camps and the opening of the season went off with what seemed an admirable discipline. Where there was a maskless laxity, heavy fines have been leveled. What matters now is mitigation – to ‘try as best as possible to prevent spread within any of our team communities,’ as NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said.
“This week was a setback for the NFL, but it’s also an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how good organizations deal with a bad break. But more than that, it’s an opportunity to show some clarity, candor and accountability to a country starved for those things.”
The league is having a conference call with all its teams’ owners, GMs and coaches to lay down the law tomorrow. Draft picks will be in play for violators. Good!
--So on to the games that were played….
I watched the entire Chargers-Bucs game and am just happy Summit’s Michael Badgley, who nailed a 53-yard field goal but missed from 47, didn’t end up the goat in a 38-31 Tampa Bay win.
Tom Brady threw for five touchdowns and Chargers rookie Justin Herbert looked good once again, 20/25, 290, 3-1, 137.9…but the lone interception was costly, as the Bucs came back from down 24-7, a late first half turnover near the goal line critical, Tampa Bay converting it into a touchdown to make it just 24-14 at the intermission.
The Browns are now 3-1 with a 49-38 win in Dallas (1-3), as Baker Mayfield threw two touchdown passes, receiver Jarvis Landry throwing one as well to Odell Beckham Jr., OBJ with three touchdowns on the day, including a 50-yard scamper on a reverse.
So all should be good in the volatile Cleveland lockerroom. Gotta keep OBJ and Jarvis happy.
Cleveland had 307 yards rushing in the game to overcome 502 yards and four touchdowns from Dak Prescott.
Jerry Jones must be going nuts.
The Giants, should they decide to move on from 2nd-year quarterback Daniel Jones, could also be in the ‘Trevor Hunt’, like the Jets also now 0-4 following a 17-9 loss to the Rams (3-1) in L.A. I saw virtually zero of this one and thank god. The Giants outgained the Rams 295-240.
If you don’t live in the New York area, don’t send me any complaints on your own team’s misfortunes. We’re freakin’ 0-8 and staring down the barrel of a combined 2-30 at best!
Blank you, 2020!
The Seahawks moved to 4-0 with a 31-23 win in Miami (1-3).
Lamar Jackson had two touchdowns passing and added a 50-yard run for a third score, the 3-1 Ravens defeating Washington (1-3) 31-17.
So Thursday night, in the “Battle For Trevor,” where winning wasn’t the goal, the Jets performed admirably, blowing a 28-27 lead with 6:23 left, the Broncos scoring the last ten points to take it 37-28, New York falling to 0-4! Yessss! Great job….keep it up, boys!
Denver is now 1-3 and Broncos fans should be thinking, ‘Why? Why did we try to win that one?!’
For the record, Jets QB Sam Darnold sucked again, 23/42, 230, 0-0, 70.5, though he did rush for a franchise record of 84 yards for a quarterback, which I found kind of shocking.
The Jets did not fire coach Adam Gase and at this point, just keep him. We want Trevor Lawrence…we want him bad.
Gase said after Thursday’s game, “We’re working to get this thing right.”
Nooooo! Don’t work. Go shopping instead, please. You live near where I do…there are also some beautiful drives in the country you can take and admire the fall foliage, which admittedly this year is lackluster because of the drought we’ve been in, but I digress.
Maybe take the team out to a pumpkin patch and have a contest at each position to see who can carry the biggest one ten yards.
Visit Jockey Hollow, where George Washington holed up one awful winter.
Just call me if you need more suggestions, but the last thing us fans want you to do is figure out how to improve the team’s play. This would be the most joyous 0-16 season ever.
--On to the Division Series in the four bubbles….
Monday….Yankees and Rays in San Diego; Astros and A’s in Los Angeles (Go Oakland. Kick cheatin’ Houston’s ass!).
Yanks-Rays could be special. Both truly hate each other.
The four teams then play again Tuesday…joined by the Marlins-Braves in Houston; Padres-Dodgers in Arlington.
I do have to note that in the Dodgers’ 3-0 win over the Brewers in the wild-card clincher on Thursday, Clayton Kershaw was masterful…8 innings, one walk, 13 Ks (a playoff career high for him), on just 93 pitches.
And on Friday, the Padres used nine pitchers to beat the Cardinals 4-0 in advancing to their NLDS matchup with the Dodgers.
In Thursday’s Game 2, the Padres hit five home runs in a span of 15 batters, turning a 6-2 deficit into an 11-9 victory.
But at this point I want Dodgers-Yankees in the World Series, with Kershaw defeating Gerrit Cole in a Game 7.
Clayton deserves redemption when it comes to his history of postseason futility.
Paid for by #MetsFansForKershawJustThisOnceToDefeatTheEvilEmpire.
--As for the Minnesota Twins, after being swept by the Astros in the wild-card, what can you say? Twinkies fans have to be shell-shocked having lost 18 consecutive postseason contests, which, as the Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond observed, is “an almost unfathomable stretch of futility that’s unmatched in the history of North American professional sports. The previous mark belonged to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, who dropped 16 straight playoff games from 1975 through 1979.”
The Yankees bounced the Twins in 2004 (after losing Game 1 of a best-of-five division series) and then in 2009, 2010, 2017 (wild-card game) and 2019. The Yankees also beat Minnesota in four games in the 2003 ALDS, meaning New York’s all-time postseason record against Minny Mouse is 16-2. [Oakland swept the Twins in the 2006 ALDS.]
--Poor Cardinals fans…within a few weeks they lost two of their all-time greats – Lou Brock and now Bob Gibson.
When I was growing up and first really getting into the game, 1966, though for me ’67 was the first I really remember a ton, and not coincidentally the first year of Tom Seaver, I was lucky I still got to see some of the all-time greats in their prime, or near prime…like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Juan Marichal, a shade of Mickey Mantle (being there in person for his 500th), Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson and Brooks, Willie Stargell, Willie McCovey…very fun time to be a kid.
But the opposing pitcher us Mets fans most feared was Bob Gibson. Yes, his whole schtick…the whole ‘I want to beat the crap out of you’ Gibson each time he took the mound. There was none other like him.
Pitching his entire 17-year career in St. Louis, from 1963-72 he was in the top three or four in the game, averaging 19 wins (winning 20 games five times). He finished 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA, and, yes, had that once in an era season, 1968, 1.12 ERA.
More importantly, he was a massive stud in the postseason…9 starts over three World Series (8 complete games, 81 innings), winning two of them, MVP in both, 7-2 record, 1.89 ERA. The older you get the more you appreciate what guys did in the postseason (like Lou Brock’s .391 average in the same three Series, alongside Gibson, 1964, ’67 and ‘68). Which is why you want Mike Trout to have his shot on the big stage more than a few times the rest of his career….but I digress.
So Gibson died on Friday, the 52nd anniversary of perhaps his most overpowering performance, when he struck out a World Series record 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 WS against Detroit.
Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina said on hearing of Gibson’s passing: “I just heard the news…and it’s kind of hard losing a legend. You can lose a game, but when you lose a guy like Bob Gibson, just hard. Bob was funny, smart, he brought a lot of energy. When he talked, you listened. It was good to have him around every year. We lose a game, we lose a series, but the tough thing is we lost one great man.”
Gibson was one of the greatest athletes in baseball history, winning nine Gold Gloves and hitting 24 home runs. He starred in basketball as well as baseball at Creighton (the school’s first black athlete) and played a year with the Harlem Globetrotters before totally turning his attention to the ballfield.
He was also the fiercest competitor (even more so than Tom Seaver in the purest sense of the word) of his era. As his longtime catcher Tim McCarver used to say, you didn’t dare speak to him on a day he was pitching. And unlike the fraternization of today, he never, ever talked to an opposing player.
I mean the guy was so competitive, he once told the New Yorker’s Roger Angell: “I’ve played a couple of hundred games of tic-tac-toe with my little daughter and she hasn’t beaten me yet. I’ve always had to win. I’ve got to win.”
Gibson was also known as a super-fast worker on the mound, Vin Scully once joking that he pitched as if his car was double-parked.
Tim McCarver also said Gibby didn’t want any advice from his catcher.
“The only thing you know about pitching is you can’t hit it,” Gibson used to say, when McCarver would make a trip to the mound.
He was a late-developer, not becoming a regular starter until age 25 due to control problems, otherwise he may have won 300.
But Gibson used his intimidating demeanor to full extent, known to throw some chin music when a batter seemed to be getting too comfortable.
Hank Aaron once told the Boston Globe: “Don’t dig in against Bob Gibson; he’ll knock you down. He’d knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don’t stare at him, don’t smile at him, don’t talk to him. He doesn’t like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you happen to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t charge the mound, because he’s a Gold Glove boxer.”
Bill Madden of the New York Daily News recalled that when Tommie Agee came over to the Mets from the White Sox in 1968, the first pitcher he faced in spring training was Gibson, who promptly beaned him and allegedly yelled: “Welcome to the National League!” Agee had to be hospitalized and after an early-season 0-for-34 slump, went on to have the worst year of his career.
Bill White, who was Gibson’s best friend and longtime Cardinal teammate, loved relating the story of the first time he faced Gibson after being traded to the Phillies in 1966: “Before the game, Bob warned me that he wasn’t gonna let me dive in on him and pull the ball. I did it anyway and the next time up, he drilled me right on the elbow and screamed: ‘I warned you, you sonofabitch.”
Dick Allen once said of Gibson: “He was the kind of guy who would knock you down and then come to meet you at home plate to see if you wanted to make something of it.”
Gibson was so tough that on July 15, 1967, he was hit in the leg by a line drive off the bat of Roberto Clemente, breaking it, but he stayed in to pitch to two more batters before finally agreeing to come out of the game. He missed the next seven weeks, but then came back to pitch the Cards to the World Series championship over the Red Sox, giving up a total of three earned runs in three complete game victories.
I forgot Bob Gibson was the second Black to win a Cy Young Award (after Don Newcombe). But he didn’t see himself as an inspiration, rather he described himself as a “blunt, stubborn Black man” who scorned the idea he was anyone’s role model and once posted a sign over his locker reading “I’m not prejudiced. I hate everybody.”
But he was close to McCarver, and proud of the Cardinals’ racial diversity and teamwork, a powerful symbol in the Civil Rights era.
“Our team, as a whole, had no tolerance for ethnic or racial disrespect,” Gibson wrote in ‘Pitch by Pitch,’ published in 2015. “We’d talk about it openly and in no uncertain terms. In our clubhouse, nobody got a free pass.”
Bob Gibson was born in Omaha, his father dying soon before his birth, Gibson and his six siblings growing up in poverty. But he did well enough to get to attend Creighton.
After dedicating himself to baseball over basketball, though, he was fortunate to be managed in the minor leagues by Johnny Keane, who became a mentor and cherished friend, “the closest thing to a saint” he would ever know in baseball.
Gibson was often forced to live in separate hotels from his white teammates in the minors and was subject to vicious taunts from fans, but he remembered Keane as “without prejudice” and as an unshakeable believer in his talent.
Recall, it was the same Johnny Keane who when the Cards ‘stole’ Lou Brock from the Cubs, months into the 1964 season, exhibited full confidence in Brock and turned him from a part-timer into an everyday player and let him loose on the base paths.
As for Bob Gibson and the magical 1968, he actually lost five of his first eight decisions despite an ERA of 1.52, Roger Angell calling his lack of hitting support “starvation fare.”
But from early June to late August, Gibson won 15 straight decisions, throwing 10 shutouts and at one point allowing just three earned runs during 101 innings. Think about that. One of the runs scored on a wild pitch, another on a bloop hit.
In the 1968 World Series against Detroit, Gibson had the dominating first game, fanning 17, and then homered as he led the Cards to a 10-1 romp in Game 4 over 31-game winner Denny McLain.
But having blown a 3-1 Series lead, Gibby took the mound in Game 7 and to make a long story short, Gold Glove center fielder Curt Flood misplayed Jim Northrup’s drive to left center in a 0-0 game in the seventh and the Cards would lose 4-1.
By the way, Bob Gibson was 28-14 lifetime against my Mets, 2.57 ERA. It was always can’t miss TV, especially when he matched up against Seaver. [Juan Marichal was 26-8, 2.13, against the Metropolitans, in case some of you were wondering…every time he came to New York was a happening as well. Sandy Koufax was 17-2, but he was facing some of the worst ballclubs in baseball history.]
--Lou Johnson, a hero of the 1965 World Series for the Dodgers, died the other day. He was 86.
Nicknamed “Sweet” Lou because of his infectious smile and outgoing personality, Johnson played from 1960-69, ex-1963-64, including his three most productive years with the Dodgers from 1965-67, ending up with a .258 batting average and 48 home runs.
But in 1965, he was promoted from triple-A Spokane when Tommy Davis broke his ankle early in the season, and Johnson responded to hit .259 with 12 home runs, 58 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. He had the only hit and scored the only run in Sandy Koufax’s perfect game Sept. 9, 1965, against the Cubs.
Later than season, Johnson hit a solo homer off Jim Kaat in the fourth inning of a 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the decisive seventh game of the World Series, making a winner of Koufax, who threw a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts.
In 1966, Johnson had his best season, 17 homers and 73 RBIs for L.A.
After leaving baseball, Johnson developed a drug addiction, giving his World Series ring to a Seattle drug dealer in 1971 as collateral for a cocaine transaction. When he returned two hours later with the money, the dealer and the ring were gone.
“I was at my lowest ebb,” Johnson said in 2001. “It was the only thing I had of value, and now I had given that away.”
Nine years later, Johnson returned to the Dodgers and sought help. Don Newcombe, the former Dodgers great and the team’s director of community affairs, sent him to a substance-abuse center. Then-Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley paid for the treatment.
Johnson then cleaned up his act and began working for the Dodgers community relations department as a drug-and-alcohol counselor.
And then incredibly, a Dodger historian was alerted by a former employee that Johnson’s World Series ring was being auctioned on the internet. When the auctioneer was tracked down two days before the sale, another Dodgers official shelled out $3,457 for the ring and returned it to Johnson, bringing him to tears.
Lou Johnson was involved with the team for four decades. He stayed clean and served as an inspiration. Very cool story and good on the Dodgers. [Mike DiGiovanna / Los Angeles Times]
RIP, Lou Johnson.
In the strangest year in the history of the Triple Crown races, the Belmont first, followed by the Kentucky Derby, and then yesterday, the Preakness, a filly, Swiss Skydiver, won a super-exciting stretch run over Derby winner Authentic in the 145th running of the race at Pimlico.
Swiss Skydiver, benefitting from a near-perfect trip by jockey Robby Albarado, was just the sixth filly to win the Preakness, the last being Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
Many had questioned trainer Kenny McPeek for entering her in the race with 10 colts. It was her ninth race of the season, a lot. But McPeek picked up his first Preakness and now we wonder if he’ll put her in the Breeder’s Cup Classic in about a month, Swiss Skydiver having now qualified for it. The girl deserves a break.
--As the fall season develops, at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss., we had a familiar figure at the top of the leaderboard entering today’s final round…40-year-old Sergio Garcia, whose last of 10 PGA Tour titles was the 2017 Masters. Since then he has been a shell of his consistent former self, not making the FedEx Cup playoffs this year.
But there he was, tied with Cameron Davis and J.T. Poston; another struggling veteran, Brandt Snedeker, a stroke behind along with Kristoffer Ventura, a 25-year-old from Norway, via Oklahoma State and Mexico City (where he was born). Geezuz, the kid’s story seems complicated.
Anyway…Sergio did it! He needed a spectacular approach shot on No. 18 and the easy birdie putt to beat out Peter Malnati by one. Win No. 11.
At times Garcia’s been a very hard guy to like over his long career, but the sport is better because of moments like these.
--Meanwhile, golf participation has been surging in this Covid year of 2020, with total rounds played in the United States slated to be 10 percent higher than 2019, according to a report from the National Golf Foundation and Golf Datatech released about a week ago. Rounds played in August in the U.S. were up 20 percent over 2019.
We also had a 19.7 increase in July, 13.9 percent in June and 6.2 percent in May after courses began to reopen following shutdowns.
In fact each state saw at least a 2 percent increase in August year over year.
This is big news…very positive. Instead of everyone hating each other, as we do these days, go golfing! And guys, remember to tip the Beer Cart Girls…they work hard.
The NGF and Golf Datatech also reported golf retail spiked 32 percent in August over last year, reaching $331 million. July saw $389 million in sales, the highest for any month Golf Datatech has ever tracked!
I’ve been fascinated by how many golf equipment advertisements I hear on Sirius radio.
Overall, though, because of the retail shutdowns in March, April and May, golf retail sales are still down 4.1 percent this year versus 2019.
In an incredible finish at Talladega Superspeedway, on a third overtime restart, Denny Hamlin edged out hard-luck runner-up Matt DiBenedetto (DiBenedetto then later penalized for a final lap infraction), Hamlin himself involved in a controversial move. It was his seventh win of the year, 44th of his career.
It was looking like DiBenedetto’s fourth career runner-up finish, without a win, but NASCAR placed him 21st, making it all even worse as he still doesn’t have a ride for next year. [Because he was dropped from second to 21, I suddenly lost with my DraftKings lineup when I was counting my winnings and ready to party allllll night.]
There were 13 caution flags in this one. On to Charlotte for the final race of the Round of 12.
Some interesting results this weekend, to say the least, Liverpool having defeated Arsenal 3-1 after I posted midweek.
Leeds again showed its stuff, drawing with Manchester City 1-1.
Everton moved to 4-0-0 with a 4-2 win over Brighton, Uruguay national star James Rodriguez with two scores. Give the Toffees and their management huge credit for retaining Rodriguez when they could have sold him off for major bucks (pounds). Everton fans have to be totally stoked.
West Ham upset Leicester 3-0.
My Tottenham lads massacred Jose Mourinho’s former team, Manchester United, 6-1 at Old Trafford, as Son Heung-min and Harry Kane had two apiece. Boy, if Gareth Bale returns anywhere near old form end of the month, and Kane can stay healthy (he has one big injury a year it seems), the Spurs will be one exciting watch this season.
The Spurs have played five games in 11 days, three leagues, a beyond brutal stretch, yet managed four wins and a draw.
And in the late game today, in one of the more stunning results in Premier League history, Aston Villa, who you’ll recall avoided relegation on the final day of the season this summer, crushed Liverpool 7-2! Liverpool hadn’t given up seven goals since 1963, while AV is off to its best start since 1962.
Ollie Watkins had a hat-trick, and Jack Grealish, as entertaining, and talented, a player as there is in the game, had two goals and three assists.
So while it’s only 3-4 games into a season of 38 matches…it’s a fascinating table.
1. Everton…4 – 12
2. Aston Villa…3 – 9
3. Leicester…4 – 9
4. Arsenal…4 – 9*
5. Liverpool…4 – 9*
6. Tottenham…4 – 7*
7. Chelsea…4 – 7*
8. Leeds…4 – 7
9. Newcastle…4 – 7
14. Man City…3 – 4*
16. Man U…3 – 3*
* For newbies…the Big Six, who have dominated the sport forever, being the richest clubs, which means they can purchase the best players (which is why it’s significant Everton kept James Rodriguez; ditto, really, AV and Jack Grealish).
--So we have a tennis major taking place now and there is little excitement…the French Open. Serena Williams pulled out ahead of her second-round match Wednesday, citing an Achilles’ tendon injury she first suffered in her U.S. Open semifinal loss to Victoria Azarenka.
Top-seeded Simona Halep is now a strong favorite to win her second French Open title and third major overall. Naomi Osaka opted not to play, while two other U.S. Open semifinalists, Azarenka, and Jennifer Brady, have already lost early at Roland Garros.
But what’s this? 19-year-old unseeded Iga Swiatek of Poland, whom I never heard of, beat Halep today 6-1, 6-2.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal, attempting to win his 13th French Open and 20th major overall, which would tie him with Roger Federer (out until 2021 while he rehabs from knee surgery), is still in it along with Novak Djokovic, who is looking for major No. 18.
Separately, France is experiencing record levels of Covid-19 cases, it needs to be pointed out.
--Helen Reddy died, age 78. The Australian singer was behind the feminist anthem, “I Am Woman,” the #1 1972 hit. She also had 1973’s #1 “Delta Dawn” and the 1974 chart-topper “Angie Baby.
Other huge hits included the #3 “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)”, #9 “You And Me Against The World”…a beautiful tune that is also incredibly depressing…and 1975’s #8 “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady.”
Born in Melbourne in 1941, Reddy grew up in a showbiz family with actor parents and performed regularly as a child.
After winning a talent contest in Australia, her prize ticket took her to New York City in the 1960s, which eventually led to a recording contract with Capitol Records.
“I Am Woman” catapulted her to international fame and became a defining song for a generation of women.
--I’ve noted on many an occasion when it comes to my Top Three lists below that Mac Davis was one of the more underrated entertainers of his era, in the purest sense of the word. A talented singer/songwriter, who had his own variety show, great sense of humor, just a very likable guy.
So Mac Davis died last week, also at the age of 78, succumbing to a post-heart surgery issue in Nashville.
Davis, from Lubbock, Texas, penned a number of songs in the late 1960s and ‘70s for Elvis Presley, including the hits “In The Ghetto,” “A Little Less Conversation,” “Memories” and “Don’t Cry, Daddy.” He then went on to top the charts under his own name with 1972’s “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me,” #11 “One Hell Of A Woman” and #9 “Stop And Smell The Roses” two years later.
Davis said of “Ghetto” that he wanted to write about a “vicious circle,” and “parts of urban areas where poor people were living and couldn’t get out. They were stuck there, as everybody else took off to the suburbs.”
“I grew up with a little kid whose daddy worked with my daddy, and he was a Black kid,” Davis said in a 2014 interview for The Tennessean’s “Story Behind The Song.”
“…I remember him being one of my best buddies. But he lived in a (bad) part of town, and I couldn’t figure out why they had to live where they lived, and we got to live where we lived.”
Davis also wrote the Bobby Goldsboro hit “Watching Scotty Grow.”
In 1974, he was honored as the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year and landed a hosting gig on NBC’s “The Mac Davis Show.” After two seasons, he went on to become a staple of the network, starring in Christmas specials almost every year through 1983.
Remember all the Christmas specials? Every entertainer worth a damn seemed to have one.
Davis also hit Hollywood, debuting on the silver screen next to Nick Nolte in the hit comedy “North Dallas Forty.”
He would stay in the songwriting game late into his career, including co-writing “Young Girls” with Bruno Mars and a shocking chart-topper, the 2013 dance-pop hit “Addicted To You” with Swedish DJ and producer Avicii, who told Rolling Stone in 2013, “He comes from an era that really doesn’t exist anymore, especially in lyrics.”
“It’s so amazing the place he took (‘Addicted’). I just met him and he played it on guitar, a song he had from before, and then we switched it around a hundred percent. But we kept like the vibe of his lyrics. It sounds like a classic.”
Just last year, Davis appeared on NBC’s “Elvis All-Star Tribute” performing “memories” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ 1968 “comeback” special.
Good friend Kenny Chesney called Davis “a small town boy who’d achieved the greatest kinds of fame, (and) remained a good guy, a family man.”
In a statement, he continued, “And Mac, who was joyous, funny and created a family around him, never stopped writing great songs, creating music and inspiring everyone around him.”
A statement from Davis’ manager, Jim Morey, said the family planned to bury Davis in his native Lubbock, and will honor the request he made in his 1974 song, “Texas In My Rearview Mirror.”
“When I die,” Davis sang, “You can bury me in Lubbock, Texas in my jeans.”
Top 3 songs for the week 10/6/79: #1 “Sad Eyes” (Robert John) #2 “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (Michael Jackson) #3 “Rise” (Herb Alpert)…and…#4 “My Sharona” (The Knack) #5 “Sail On” (Commodores) #6 “Lonesome Loser” (Little River Band) #7 “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” (Dionne Warwick) #8 “Pop Muzik” (M) #9 “After The Love Has Gone” (Earth, Wind & Fire…helps salvage the week…) #10 “Dim All The Lights” (Donna Summer… ‘bridge’ in this song totally blows…C+ week…more importantly, it’s fall of my senior year and still in school…totally focused on becoming the most successful person I can become post-graduation….cough cough….actually, I, err, needed to figure out how to get the GPA up…and right quick…Kids, learn from the adults…you don’t want a GPA on the Mendoza Line…)
Sun Belt Conference Quiz Answer: Locations for the following conference members….
Georgia Southern – Statesboro
Georgia State – Atlanta
Louisiana – Lafayette…yeah, threw in an easy one
Texas State – San Marcos
Arkansas State – Jonesboro
If you didn’t get all five, no pulled pork sandwiches for you.
Which means I have to give another plug for Carolina pulled pork, specifically, King’s Barbecue out of Kinston, N.C. Yes, to order it from out of state is a bit pricey (reasonable on the East Coast), but they pack in each 1 lb. container seemingly 2 lbs. worth…got eight sandwiches and a platter out of each container….and I’ll be ordering for a third time soon. Tell ‘em “The Editor sent me.”
Next Bar Chat, Wednesday.