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RIP, The Chairman of the Board
[Posted Sun. p.m. 7:00 ET …prior to NBA Game 6; Game 1 of Astros-Rays; and late NFL action, as well as the golf finale. I need to move on….gotta watch “The Good Lord Bird” on Showtime, frankly, and “60 Minutes”. I’ll fill in the blanks next BC. But I do have to add, watching Giants-Cowboys and Dak Prescott’s potentially devastating injury…again…it’s why NFL players deserve all the money they can get, upfront. Obviously more next time on his situation. We wish him the best.]
NFL Quiz: 1) Since the sack stat was first accurately tracked in 1982, a player has had 20 or more in a season 12 times. Name the only player to have two seasons with 20. 2) Name the team that holds the record for sacks in a season at 72. Answers below.
--I noted that the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees really didn’t like each other, so it was rather delicious that they went to a Game 5 in their A.L. Division Series Friday night. As an example, it was back on Sept. 1 that Yanks closer Aroldis Chapman threw a 101-mph fastball behind Mike Brosseau’s head. The Rays were even more ticked off when they learned Chapman’s suspension for the infraction was deferred on appeal until next season.
So in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday night, series knotted at 2-2, score 1-1, Brosseau worked a 10-pitch at-bat against the same Chapman, battling back from 0-2, and on pitch 10 slammed a go-ahead home run that stood up, Rays winning 2-1 and moving on to face the equally hated Houston Astros in the ALCS Sunday night.
It really was a terrific, dramatic at-bat. Due to that other column I do Friday nights, I didn’t pick this one up until the middle innings, but it was more than enough to get a sense of things.
The Yankees got what they needed out of their $trillionaire starter, Gerrit Cole, 5 1/3 of one-run ball, nine strikeouts, and pitching on short rest for the first time in his career, but in the end the Yanks go home following yet another season of disappointment.
Afterward, Brosseau said, “No revenge, no revenge. We put that in the past (Sept. 1) and we came here to do what we do best.”
Brosseau has been a solid utility player in his two years with the Rays, an undrafted free agent out of Muncie, Indiana, but now he’s etched himself into Rays lore.
I do have to add that a key error from normally sure-handed third baseman Gio Urshela in the seventh changed Aaron Boone’s pitching plans and he went to Chapman early again.
The Yankees are now 5-5 in the ultimate game of the ALDS and have not been to a World Series since 2009, the last time they won it. Not good enough for Yankees ownership and its fans.
--As for Astros-Rays, Johnny Mac observed early last week, “how 2020 would it be if Dusty Baker, universally liked but, let’s be honest, has never met a big game he couldn’t find a way to lose, were to finally get his World Series win with the universally loathed Astros…after a sub .500 season to boot.”
Jared Diamond / Wall Street Journal
“The Houston Astros’ sudden postseason resurgence seems like an upset. Their two opponents thus far – the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics – tied for the second-best record in the American League. The Astros lost more games than they won, finished in the middle of the pack in both runs and ERA and barely sneaked into the expanded postseason field.
“Yet the Astros do one thing better than everybody else that might explain their unexpected turnaround: They strike out less frequently than anybody in the sport, an unheralded skill that has propelled them into the championship series for the fourth consecutive year. And in an era of baseball defined by advanced analytics and measuring every conceivable thing that happens on the field, no data point means more to predict success in October.
“The team with the lower regular-season strikeout rate went 7-1 in the best-of-three wild card round last week, an emphatic result reinforced by history. In all postseason series consisting of at least three games since 2000, the squad that whiffed less often from April through September won 63% of the time.
“No other metric offers nearly as much forecasting power….
“It turns out the saying should probably be, ‘Putting the ball in play wins championships.’ The Washington Nationals and Astros, last year’s World Series participants, ranked 26th and 30th in strikeout percentage, respectively. The champions in 2018, the Boston Red Sox, were 28th. The year before that, the Astros claimed their franchise’s first title in a season they again struck out less than any of their competitors.
“ ‘You put a ball in play, something can happen,’ said Dusty Baker, the 71-year-old Astros manager. ‘A strikeout, nothing can happen.’”
MLB has set a record for strikeout rate in each of the last 13 seasons, with batters striking out in 23.4% of their plate appearances in 2020. Jared Diamond points out in his 19-year playing career, Dusty Baker never struck out more than 89 times in a season. Miguel Sano fanned 90 times in this year’s two-month schedule.
--Meanwhile, in the N.L., it’s another terrific matchup…Atlanta vs. Los Angeles…both teams 5-0 in the postseason. Both had top four bullpens in MLB during the regular season and are dominating postseason thus far, though there are issues at closer for L.A.
Game 1 is Monday, Max Fried of Atlanta against L.A.’s Walker Buehler. Clayton Kershaw gets the tab in Game 2.
--We note the passing of Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. Ford, 91, died while watching the Yankees on television as they beat the Rays in Game 4 of the ALDS on Thursday night, with his family by his side.
Manager Aaron Boone told reporters Friday, “I feel like there was some comfort in that.”
Whitey Ford was a New Yorker through and through, growing up in Queens. He made his major league debut for the Yanks in 1950 and spent his entire career in the Bronx.
Ford went 9-1 his rookie year with a 2.81 ERA in 20 games, before serving in the military through 1952. He would go on to have a spectacularly consistent career, finishing 236-106, a .690 winning percentage (best in history for anyone with at least 300 career decisions), 2.75 ERA (two ERA titles, 1956 and ’58), won a Cy Young in 1961, was a 10-time All-Star, and, most importantly, helped lead six World Series champion squads, winning a still-record 10 games in the Series (10-8, 2.71 ERA). He was Series MVP in 1961 as the Yanks rolled over the Reds, 4-1. At one point, Ford pitched 33 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play.
In the 1950s, when Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist Jim Murray wrote that rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for General Motors or U.S. Steel, there was one man who was “Chairman of the Board.”
“Whitey’s name and accomplishments are forever stitched into the fabric of baseball’s rich history,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “He was a treasure, and one of the greatest of Yankees to ever wear the pinstripes. Beyond the accolades that earned him his rightful spot within the walls of the Hall of Fame, in so many ways he encapsulated the spirit of the Yankees teams he played for and represented for nearly two decades.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement: “Today all of Major League Baseball mourns the loss of Whitey Ford, a New York City native who became a legend for his hometown team. Whitey earned his status as the ace of some of the most memorable teams in our sport’s rich history. Beyond the Chairman of the Board’s excellence on the mound, he was a distinguished ambassador for our National Pastime throughout his life.”
Ford and Mickey Mantle were the icons for their edition of the Yankees dynasty and, fittingly, they went into the Hall of Fame together in 1974. Ford’s No. 16 was retired by the Yankees that year.
Ford often said his Hall of Fame election was the highlight of his career, made more meaningful because he was inducted with his good friend and off-the-field “running mate,” Mantle dying in 1995.
Bill Madden / New York Daily News
“In mourning his passing, his fans might want to take a moment to hoist a drink in his honor – to celebrate a life of achievement and fun. It’s what he would have wanted….
“For all of Ford’s pitching acumen (his bread-and-butter pitches were a low 90s fastball and a hard breaking curve) and superb control, he developed a reputation for cheating – a reputation he didn’t exactly deny. In various magazine and book accounts, he talked about how his Yankee batterymate, Elston Howard, would help him out by scuffing balls with his belt buckle and how he himself doctored the ball, either with his ring or with good old fashioned saliva. And one of his favorite stories was how he won a $1,200 bet with Giants owner Horace Stoneham by striking out Willie May in the 1961 All-Star Game – on a spitter that took such a dip as it crossed the plate the ‘Say Hey Kid’ landed on the seat of his pants swinging at it.
“ ‘I didn’t begin cheating until late in my career when I needed it to survive,’ Ford confessed, ‘but I didn’t cheat in 1961. I don’t want anyone getting any ideas and taking my Cy Young Award away from me.’….
“If Ford’s career was marked by winning, especially in the pressure games when the spotlight shone brightest, it was also about fun. He and Mantle and Billy Martin were notorious roustabouts – Stengel referred to them as ‘my whiskey slicks’ – and one of Ford’s longstanding close friends was the renowned New York saloonkeeper, Toots Shor.
“ ‘Billy always got upset because he always got in trouble in bars and nothing ever happened to me,’ Ford said, on the occasion of the ‘day’ the Yankees gave him in August of 2000. ‘What he and Mickey never seemed to realize is that I was a professional drinker. My dad owned a bar in Astoria and I grew up in bars. I just always knew when I’d had enough and when to get out of them.’
“Now they are all gone.”
--I missed the passing the other day of former top reliever, Ron Perranoski, who died Oct. 2. He was 84, and the third former Dodger to die within a week, after outfielders Jay Johnstone and Lou Johnson.
Perranoski had a terrific MLB career, 1961-73, going 79-74 in relief with 178 saves and a sterling 2.79 ERA. After being traded by the Dodgers to the Twins following the 1967 season, he led the A.L. in saves in 1969 and ’70.
Perranoski was an unsung, overlooked star of the 1963 and ’65 World Champion Dodgers, going 16-3, 1.67 ERA, with 21 saves in ’63, 129 innings out of the bullpen, finishing fourth in the N.L. MVP vote. In ’65 he was 6-6, 2.24, with 18 saves.
Perranoski was later a pitching coach for the Dodgers from 1981 to 1994, picking up two more World Series rings. He later held the same position with the Giants.
Ron Perranoski was a Jersey boy, born in Paterson, and grew up in Fair Lawn. He went on to Michigan State University, where he was a teammate of Dick Radatz, who became a rather prominent reliever himself.
Perranoski once talked of a streak he had that Hank Aaron had run up against him, as recalled in “Pen Men.”
“At one time, he was eight for eight off of me. I threw him a sinker and he finally dribbled one, a little roller to first base. On the way to first base to cover, I’m thinking it’s over. I finally got the son of a gun, and I pulled a hamstring. He beat it out. Nine for nine!” [Richard Goldstein / New York Times]
[Following written prior to release of latest AP Poll]
--No. 1 Clemson (4-0) easily handled visiting No. 7 Miami (3-1) 42-17 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score, Dabo Swinney with an amazingly bone-headed call, by his own admission, with a few seconds left in the first half, Miami blocking a 61-yard field goal attempt and returning it for a touchdown to make it 21-10 at the intermission.
Otherwise, Trevor Lawrence was his usual cool self, 29/41, 292, 3-0, with a TD on the ground, while the spectacular Travis Etienne had 149 yards rushing on 17 carries and two touchdowns, including a 72-yard scamper.
I was watching Lawrence and thinking how totally under control he looks at all times, versus, say, Sam Darnold in his last season at USC. It’s not even close.
But I was pissed when Chris Fowler on ABC totally missed the targeting/spearing call on Miami when the defender clearly speared Lawrence in the stomach. That was outrageous on the part of Miami.
Meanwhile, poor Miami QB D’Eriq King. He was so overwhelmed by the Clemson ‘D,’ looking like a shell of his excellent self the first three games of the Hurricanes’ season, King just 12/28, 121, and two interceptions.
--No. 2 Alabama (3-0) and Ole Miss (1-2) staged a shootout for the ages, the Crimson Tide holding on for a 63-48 win, the two teams combining for an SEC record 1,370 yards (‘Bama 723, the Rebels 647).
Lane Kiffin’s boys hung tough, cutting the lead to 49-45 with 7:01 to play but the combination of Mac Jones and Najee Harris was too much to handle in the end.
Jones was a superb 28/32, 417, through the air, and Harris rumbled for 206 yards and five touchdowns.
I have no problem with another Clemson-Alabama national title game. Bring it on. [Clemson would roll.]
--I mused last time that we didn’t know if 14 Tennessee at 3 Georgia was a meaningful game and for 30 minutes it was…the Volunteers up 21-17 at half. But it ended up 44-21 Georgia after 3 Tennessee turnovers, the Bulldogs holding the Vols to just 214 yards of offense.
--4 Florida was upset by 21 Texas A&M in College Station, 41-38. The Gators’ Kyle Trask threw another four touchdown passes, while the Aggies’ Kellen Mond threw three, but the difference was A&M’s Isaiah Spiller, who rushed for 174 yards and two TDs. Bye-bye, Florida, re CFP. [Recall, I’m going chalk…Clemson, ‘Bama, Georgia and Ohio State.]
For the Aggies, it was a much-needed big win for third-year coach Jimbo Fisher, he of the mammoth contract that makes him a poster boy for income inequality, the editor typed impishly.
--5 Notre Dame beat Florida State 42-26 in South Bend, the Fighting Irish 3-0. Kyren Williams rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns, the lowly Seminoles now 1-3.
--8 North Carolina looked pretty darn good in beating 19 Virginia Tech 56-45 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score.
Yeah, the Tar Heels were up 42-17 and Tech cut it to 42-37 midway through the third, but then Carolina put it away as future NFL QB Sam Howell threw for three touchdown passes and UNC got 399 on the ground, including 214 and two scores from Michael Carter.
So is North Carolina a sleeper CFP contender? They do not play Clemson in the regular season, but have Notre Dame and Miami end of the season, and then could play Clemson in the ACC title game.
--Defending champion LSU is officially out of the CFP picture, falling to 1-2 after losing to Missouri (1-2) 45-41, Tigers quarterback Connor Bazelak, in his first career start, was a rather outstanding 29/34, 406, 4-0.
As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy while reading the Sunday sports pages, Nancy fixing him Cream of Wheat, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
[LSU has Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M remaining on its schedule so a losing record is in the cards…a rather startling fall from the top…kind of Humpty-Dumptyish, if you ask me.]
--Pitt suffered another heartbreaker at Boston College as kicker Alex Kessman hit a 58-yarder with 0:46 left in regulation to tie it at 24, sending it into overtime, and then after the teams exchanged touchdowns in OT, Kessman badly missed the extra point; Pitt falling to 3-2, B.C. 3-1.
Last week it was a dropped 2-point conversion that cost the Panthers against N.C. State. I wish I could talk to my old Uncle Bill about it….every time I went ‘home’ to the Pittsburgh area, he would regale my brother and I with tales of all the local high school talent that was heading to Pitt or Penn State.
“Now (Editor), I’ll tell you, this kid from Latrobe is going to be a star!”
[Uncle Bill was a glass blower for Westmoreland Glass and made some amazing stuff. I couldn’t even make an ashtray in metal shop in high school.]
Meanwhile, Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec is proving to be quite the find for the Eagles, today throwing three touchdown passes to speedster Zay Flowers.
--Oklahoma (2-2) defeated 22 Texas (2-2) 53-45 in 4 OTs in a game that again did the Big 12 (which is really the Kind of Big 10*) no good.
*As opposed to the Big Ten, which is really the Unwieldy Fourteen.
--Yes, it would appear Arkansas got robbed at 13 Auburn, 30-28, as Tigers quarterback Bo Nix clearly threw a backwards pass that should have been ruled a recovered fumble for Arkansas, up 28-27, before the controversial call that allowed Auburn to retain possession of the ball and then kick the winning field goal.
--And your new AP Top 25 Poll!
1. Clemson (59) 4-0
2. Alabama (2) 3-0
3. Georgia (1) 3-0
4. Notre Dame 3-0
5. North Carolina 3-0…huh…
6. Ohio State 0-0
7. Oklahoma State 3-0…sorry, not buying it, despite Chuba…
8. Cincinnati 3-0
9. Penn State 0-0
10. Florida 2-1
12. Oregon 0-0…quack quack
15. BYU 4-0…Cougars kinda sneakin’ up on us…
17. SMU 4-0…Paul P. excited…
21. Louisiana 3-0…getting’ hungry for some gumbo…
25. USC 0-0…cheerleaders determined to take over No. 1 ranking from Oregon’s gals in the Bar Chat Top 25 this season…which, you see, I can’t publish because I’d lose my International Web Site Association license.
--The NFL season was thrown into further chaos Sunday morning as the league shut down the Patriots’ facility after one more positive Covid test came back in the morning. This marks a fourth positive test over the past eight days for the Patriots (including Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore) and as a result their scheduled home game against the Broncos was postponed. It had previously been moved from Sunday to Monday.
Supposedly the game is being moved to next Sunday, which would have a ripple effect as the Broncos were slated to meet the Dolphins.
The Tennessee Titans were also forced to shut down their facility on Sunday after a coach (reportedly) tested positive, making it 13 players and 11 staff members overall for the Titans. The Titans game against Buffalo had been moved from Sunday to Tuesday. Now that is in jeopardy.
Dan Shaughnessy / Boston Globe…Wed., Oct. 7
“The Patriots know they can beat the Broncos without Newton, Gilmore, and practice. That’s not the problem. The problem is the future. There will be more positive tests, here and around the rest of the league. And now the fans are coming. In droves. It was reported Wednesday that the state of Florida is allowing the Dolphins’ stadium to be at full capacity, although the team remains comfortable going with its plan of 13,000 fans for home games.
“It’s going to be a monumental task for the NFL to complete its 16-game schedule and a playoff tournament in this environment. The league has known this all along, but only now is the reality hitting home.
“The NHL was able to finish its season, and playoffs, in a ‘bubble.’ With the NBA possibly ready to finish Friday in its Orlando bubble [Ed. not quite], it looks as if basketball and hockey pulled it off. Baseball was less fortunate. With no bubble, there were positive tests, games missed, and expedited scheduling to complete a 60-game regular season. Now MLB’s playoffs are underway at neutral sites. There may even be small crowds for a World Series in Texas.
“Meanwhile, it’s full steam ahead in the NFL. Believing it is impervious from any interruption, the league wants to play its full, ‘normal’ schedule and postseason. Only now is the master plan starting to unravel.
“The NFL won’t give up easily, but there are going to be a lot more days like Wednesday. What’s happening in Tennessee and New England is very likely only the beginning.”
***So I wrote all of the above Sunday morning, and then the NFL issued a slew of new changes to the schedule this afternoon. Nine teams are being affected, some over a period of weeks through Nov. 22.
You know what…[Blank] it! At this point just check the NFL schedule daily on your own, as we will do here at Bar Chat. It’s just mid-October, people. Most of us thought the big problems, Covid-wise, would occur in November. We’re in deep [merde].
--In games that were actually played, my Jets (0-5) did what they needed to do…suck…in losing to the Arizona Cardinals (3-2) 30-10. Kyler Murray, who had a terrible game last week, throwing for just 133 yards, threw for 380 and rushed for a touchdown.
But I can’t help but note that Joe Flacco, starting for the first time in two years due to Sam Darnold’s injured shoulder, looked pretty good. Like a professional quarterback. His stat line, 18/33, 195, 1-0, 82.3, was far better than it seems as his receivers dropped countless balls. I hope the Jets keep him around after they draft Trevor Lawrence.
[Jets are now 0-7 in games Darnold has been out with injury.]
I took a nice nap right before the start of the second quarter and resumed watching at the half. I’m tellin’ ya, folks not from the area and lucky to have networks cover other games, the Jets are unwatchable.
--The Steelers are 4-0 for the first time in 40 years, which I find rather shocking, after a 38-29 win over the Eagles (1-3-1). The story here was Notre Dame rookie Chase Claypool, who ND alum Mark R. was long high on. Claypool had four touchdowns, three receiving (7-110-3) and one rushing, as Ben Roethlisberger was 27/34, 239, 3-0, 125.4. The AFC playoffs could be exciting.
For the Eagles, Carson “Senor Wences” reemerged…two INTs.
--The Raiders (3-2) surprised the Chiefs 40-32, handing K.C. its first loss, now 4-1, as Derek Carr (22/31, 347, 3-1, 126.7) outplayed Patrick Mahomes (22/43, 340, 2-1, 83.5). That’s kind of the whole story.
I am outraged Word still hasn’t approved the spelling on Mahomes. Sell MSFT stock. [Just kidding.]
--Owner David Tepper has to be pleased as his Carolina Panthers won their third in a row, 23-16, over the winless Falcons. Coach Dan Quinn is obviously packing up his office as I write. If we find out he isn’t and will coach the remainder of the season instead, Jets fans, we have major competition for Trevor…and that blows. Blows mightily.
--The Rams improved to 4-1 as they beat the Redskins (1-4) 30-10 in Landover. The Rams outgained the Redskins 429-108…just 108 yards of offense.
But no one seemed to care because Alex Smith returned.
Washington had benched starter Dwayne Haskins after the first four contests and coach Ron Rivera went with Kyle Allen, Smith the backup. Allen had spent two years with Rivera at Carolina so it was a natural move, though probably unfair to Haskins.
But then Allen got hurt in the second quarter and in came Smith, he of the incredibly gruesome leg injury on Nov. 18, 2018, that literally almost cost him his life.
It’s an amazing comeback story, one of the best ever, headed to a theater near you, but he was just 9/17, 37 yards, and sacked six times. He has a lot of money, a beautiful family, and I get the whole ‘athlete’ thing and wanting to compete. But I just hope he walks away. He’s done it. Proved his point. Please hit the broadcast booth, Alex. A lot of us would be sickened to see you carted off the field again.
--Thursday night, Nick Foles beat Tom Brady again as the Bears beat the Bucs 20-19 in Chicago on a Cairo Santos 38-yard field goal with 1:17 left, as Brady seemingly lost count of downs on his final play.
Brady never lost to Chicago in five meetings as a member of the Patriots. But facing Foles for the first time since New England fell to Philadelphia in Super Bowl 52, Brady came up short once again.
After Santos kicked the go-ahead field goal, DeAndre Houston-Carson broke up Brady’s fourth-down pass with 33 seconds left. Brady put up four fingers, appearing to think he had one more down. Ah, not quite, Tommy Boy.
Foles was in his second start after replacing Mitchell Trubisky.
Nancy Armour / USA TODAY
“Tom Brady sure isn’t in New England anymore.
“The six-time Super Bowl champion lost a game Thursday night that he never would have if he were still with the New England Patriots. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave up a whopping 109 yards in penalties, had just one touchdown to show for three trips to the red zone and were so discombobulated on their final drive it looked as if Brady didn’t know it was fourth down when he threw an incompletion.
“ ‘Yeah,’ Brady said when asked if he knew it was fourth down. ‘You’re up against the clock and you’re up against – I knew we had to gain a chunk, so I should have been thinking more first down than chunk.’
“OK, but you did hold up four fingers afterward with a look of confusion on your face. Or maybe that was just Brady’s way of telling Nick Foles how many more times he’d have to beat Brady just to equal the GOAT’s number of Super Bowl rings….
“Welcome to life outside of Bill Belichick’s world.
“Much is made of Belichick’s…let’s be charitable and call it single-mindedness. He cares about winning and not much else. OK, maybe his dog.
“But Brady was the benefit of those exacting standards for two decades. The Patriots aren’t sloppy. They don’t commit dumb penalties. Or many penalties at all. In fact, New England is the least-penalized team in the NFL so far this season, according to The Football Database, the 11 penalties they’ve had this season matching what the Buccaneers had just in Thursday night’s game….
“It was always going to be a steep learning curve for the 43-year-old with a new coach, a new system and a roster full of new teammates. The Covid-19 pandemic made it exponentially harder, with no off-season workouts and an abbreviated training camp.
“Add in Tampa Bay’s injuries – the Buccaneers were without receiver Chris Godwin and running back LeSean McCoy against the Bears, and tight end O.J. Howard is on IR with a ruptured Achilles – and of course it’s going to be a hot mess at times….
“Brady left Belichick and New England, the only coach and team he’d ever played for, because he wanted to see what life was like elsewhere in the NFL. Well, now he knows.”
Saturday, history was made when 19-year-old Iga Swiatek became the first grand slam singles winner from Poland, defeating reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, 6-4, 6-1.
Swiatek was ranked No. 54 in the world, the lowest-ranked woman to ever reach a final at Roland Garros, and had never won even a lower-level title on the WTA tour, but she dominated the whole tournament. Throughout her seven matches, she didn’t lose more than five games in a single set, making her the first woman since Justin Henin in 2007 to capture the title without dropping a set.
Granted, she is just 19, but Swiatek had career earnings of only $1.1 million (which minus all the expenses isn’t as much as it sounds), but with her French title she bagged $1.9 million.
Good for her. Go Poland!
So on the men’s side we had a finals matchup for the ages, 12-time French Open title holder Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay and vying for his 20th Grand Slam victory that would tie him with Roger Federer, versus Novak Djokovic, who is going for Grand Slam title No. 18.
And Nadal easily prevailed…6-0, 6-2, 7-5…improving to 100-2 at the French Open, 13 titles, 20 Grand Slams overall (including four U.S. Opens, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open).
Roger Federer certainly has an incentive to continue with his rehab from his latest knee issue and hope to somehow get at least one more big one, because even at age 34, Nadal could still bag another French Open or two.
--The PGA Tour was in Las Vegas for the first of two consecutive events in Sin City, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin, and it ended up producing the lowest 36-hole cut in a 72-hole event in PGA Tour history at 7-under 135.
Rickie Fowler’s problems continued. He was well above the cut line it seemed as he approached the sixth hole of the second round, and instead he went triple-bogey, double-bogy the next two and finished six shots from the cut line, -1, 67-74.
In ten events since Tour play resumed in June, Fowler has zero top tens and has missed five cuts.
He says he’s been retooling his swing. It ain’t workin’, Rickie.
So heading into the final round today, we had the following leaderboard….
Martin Laird -20
Patrick Cantlay -20
Matthew Wolff among four at -18
Wolff had a spectacular 61, which included three eagles in five holes on his back nine.
So it could have been better, right? Yeah, believe it or not, a lot better. He missed eight birdie putts of 16 feet or less, including on his final two holes, lipping out both times and watching 59 slip away. But it could have been 56 or 57!
Bryson DeChambeau, after an opening 62, went 67-71 and sits T31 at -13 heading into the final round.
And we had the reemergence of alter-ego “Dick Chambeau.” In his frustrating third round, Bison drove it in a greenside bunker on the short par-4 seventh. His second, a long bunker shot, came to rest 14 feet from the cup, with Bison missing.
As he went to clean up his par putt, he appeared to be staring down a cameraman, which he is wont to do on occasion.
“You get enough pictures back there?” Dick asked.
Well, sorry, it’s 7:05 ET tonight and this one is going to last awhile. Gotta move on, folks.
But Go Deacs! Will Zalatoris with another great effort. I have a personal story on him time, if I remember.
--Tony Finau had tested positive in pre-tournament screening prior to this week’s event and was forced to self-quarantine for a spell. He said he was feeling well and looking forward to returning to the tour soon.
Eleven players have tested positive for Covid thus far since the tour’s restart in June.
I was doing ‘look-ins’ at today’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, using the road-course, which is why they raced in the rain, but with about 30 of the 109 laps left I forgot as I followed football and in the end Chase Elliott won his fourth straight road-course race, ninth of his Cup Series career.
This was the last race of the Round of 12, the field for the Cup title reduced to eight.
Defending Cup Series champ Kyle Busch was eliminated, his winless streak reaching 32 races, along with Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola.
More next time.
*I won massive coin with my DraftKings lineup, relatively, snapping an equally massive losing streak that had me close to calling Johnny Mac for the sword, though I’m kind of curious to see if the Jets can finish 0-16.
--The Premier League was off this week due to international play.
--The new World Cup ski season is to being Oct. 17 in Soelden, Austria, at least on the women’s side, and Mikaela Shiffrin was due to return after the tragic death of her father in an accident at home last February. But she tweaked her back in training and now she’s back in Colorado, resting and rehabbing and hoping to return in November.
Who knows what the future holds for the 2020-21 Cup season, given how the pandemic has been surging anew in Europe.
--Trader George apprised me of something I was totally unaware of. That we had a potentially budding star in the NHL who grew up literally next door, in Chatham, which is right across the mighty Passaic River from your editor, a block away.
It’s hard to follow high-school hockey in these parts. We produce some Ivy Leaguers, and players for the likes of Boston College, because, frankly, there aren’t a lot of dumb hockey players, when you think about it…at least in these parts. It takes a lot of time and dedication to participate, like with our great swimmers (Brad K.).
So I had no idea that Alex Laferriere, who played at Chatham High School, and is now at Harvard, was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round of the recent draft, No. 83 player taken overall.
Trader George was a solid high school hockey player himself, by the way (it was a club sport back then), as well as soccer, but now he’s reduced to playing golf at the local par-3 with moi.
Anyway, someone to root for.
--Staying on hockey, the local press is making a big deal of Henrik Lundqvist signing with the Washington Capitals after 15 seasons with the Rangers and I just don’t think it’s that big a deal. He wasn’t treated shabbily by Garden management. He’s 38 years old and has kind of sucked the last two seasons. It was time to move on. He should have retired.
Yes, he was one of the best Rangers goaltenders of all time, and had his moments in the playoffs, but it’s not like we won a Cup with him, his playoff mark 61-67, though with a fine 2.30 GAA.
The Rangers bought out his contract, as they should have. This is not the Mets disgracefully trading Tom Seaver (or letting him slip away the second time).
--Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei smashed the men’s 10,000m world record, clocking 26 minutes 11.00 seconds to beat Keneisa Bekele’s 15-year-old time by more than six seconds in Valencia. Goodness gracious.
Bekele’s previous world record time of 26 mins 17.53 secs had been the longest standing men’s 10,000m world record in history.
It was Cheptegei’s fourth world record in 10 months, having broken the 10km road best in December and the 5km road record in February.
At the Monaco Diamond League in August, he broke another of Bekele’s world records, beating his 16-year-old mark in the 5,000m by two seconds.
Ethiopia’s Latesenbet Gidey broke the women’s 5,000m mark in Valencia as well.
--Director of Florida and the Caribbean Shark Attack Operations for Bar Chat, Bob S., first alerted me to the 31-year-old man who was severely bitten by a Black Tip Shark off Miami Beach on Wednesday afternoon, giving the victim an 8-inch laceration below the knee, which was gruesome looking, but the dude was able to walk out of the hospital later.
Black Tips are prevalent in Florida waters and are vicious little suckers. Miami Beach police said it appeared there were a number of “bait fish schools” in the area.
Even bait fish are seemingly succumbing to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pressure for as much in-person, err, shark learning as possible, which I agree with. It’s just that I’m hearing there aren’t enough nurse sharks to meet state standards.
By the way, Bob S.’s book, “SHARK! How I spent 8 years in Vanuatu researching fatal shark attacks,” is now available in paperback.
--Yikes…one of the latest pythons to be caught in the Everglades is a record-breaker. A pair of trappers caught the 18-foot, 9-inch invasive Burmese python during a hunt for the South Florida Water Management District.
Congratulations to Ryan Ausburn and Kevin Pavlidis for catching the 104-pound female on Oct. 2 as part of the district’s Python Elimination Program, which has seen the capture of nearly 4,000 of the snakes since 2017. The previous record for a python was 18 feet, 8 inches, from 2013.
Capturing females is paramount to avoid them adding another 30 to 60 hatchlings every breeding period.
--More than 350 scientists and conservationists from 40 countries have signed a letter calling for global action to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises from extinction.
They say more than half of all species are of conservation concern, with two on the “knife-edge” of extinction.
Lack of action over polluted and over-exploited seas means that many will be declared extinct within our lifetimes, the letter says.
Even large iconic whales are not safe.
By far the biggest threat is becoming accidentally captured in fishing equipment and nets, which kills an estimated 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises a year. 300,000! ‘Man’ sucks.
Top 3 songs for the week 10/13/62: #1 “Sherry” (The 4 Seasons) #2 “Monster Mash” (Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers) #3 “Ramblin’ Rose” (Nat King Cole)…and…#4 “Let’s Dance” (Chris Montez) #5 “I Remember You” (Frank Ifield…cool tune…YouTube it…) #6 “Green Onions” (Booker t. & The MG’s) #7 “Do You Love Me” (The Contours) #8 “Patches” (Dickey Lee) #9 “Alley Cat” (Bent Fabric and His Piano) #10 “If I Had A Hammer” (Peter, Paul & Mary…interesting week…all kinds of stuff goin’ on…B- …)
NFL Quiz Answers: 1) J.J. Watt is the only player to record 20 sacks in a season twice, 20.5 in both 2012 and 2014. Michael Strahan holds the record at 22.5 in 2001 (can’t believe it was that long ago!) 2) The 1984 Chicago Bears (not the 1985 Super Bowl edition) had 72 sacks, the record for a team.
The most sacks by a team in a single game is 12, accomplished five times.
The fewest sacks allowed for a season is seven…the 1988 Miami Dolphins. Had to protect Dan Marino, you see, though the ‘Fins went 6-10 that year.
Next Bar Chat, Wednesday.