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[Posted Sun. p.m. …gotta post prior to result of Game 7, Braves-Dodgers, because I have no idea when it will end…like could be well after my bedtime…]
College Football Quiz: Sorry, running out of time. Who holds the record for most career touchdown passes…Hint: still playing in the NFL. Answer below.
Just some super action, and it’s great not having off days, though they will be welcomed for the World Series, where you want fresher bullpens.
In the Braves-Dodgers series, it was looking bleak for L.A. after Thursday, the Braves winning 10-2, (after L.A. whipped Atlanta 15-3 the night before in Game 3, setting the tone with a record-setting 11 runs in the first inning). Clayton Kershaw again came up small in the postseason in Game 4, the Dodgers falling behind 3-1 in the series.
Bryse Wilson, a 22-year-old with 15 big league games under his belt, threw six innings of one-hit ball (an Edwin Rios homer), for Atlanta, while Kershaw’s postseason mark fell to 11-12, 4.31 ERA, after allowing 4 earned in five innings. [His postseason performance compares with 175-76, 2.43, in the regular season, 3 Cy Young Awards, an astounding seven top-5 Cy Young votes and probably another for this season’s 6-2, 2.16 in the truncated campaign.]
But then the Dodgers won Game 5, 7-3, behind Corey Seager’s two home runs, and last night in Game 6, the Dodgers rode the pitching of Walker Buehler and the bullpen, plus Seager’s fifth home run of the series, to a 3-1 win at Globe Life Field, Kenley Jansen reemerging as the closer and rewarding manager Dave Roberts’ confidence in him.
Seager, 26, seemed destined for stardom, and Cooperstown, after two terrific seasons, 2016-17, but then in 2018, he suffered a bad hip injury and struggled through much of 2019 regaining his past form.
But in 52 games this year, he clubbed 15 home runs and flashed a lot of his old self in the field at short.
Now he has five homers and 11 RBIs in the NLCS heading into Game 7.
I do have to add that as John Smoltz noted in the Fox telecast Saturday night, Walker Buehler pitched like a true ace, six innings, scattering seven hits, no runs, no walks, six strikeouts, while getting out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam in the second. Mookie Betts also made another spectacular catch at a key moment. The guy is one of the few in baseball today who is a true difference-maker as a fielder alone.
As for Astros-Rays, Tampa Bay had taken a 3-0 series lead in no small part because of Houston All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve’s three throwing errors, a classic case of the yips, fourth of the playoffs overall.
Altuve bounced two throws to first in Game 2 when making long throws from shallow right field, and then in Game 3 on a routine play, he bounced another throw, only this time in front of shortstop Carlos Correa covering second, the throw careening into left field, the play opening the floodgates in a 5-2 loss.
Incredibly, Altuve, a former Gold Glove winner, didn’t commit a throwing error during the regular season. In 47 playoff games before this year, he committed just one throwing error. The guy is a future Hall of Famer, but this is an issue going forward that has to be addressed. Fielders who develop the yips seldom get over them. [See fellow former second basemen Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch.]
As for what happened after Game 3, well, the Astros then reeled off three straight wins – 4-3, 4-3, 7-4 – Carlos Correa with some big hits, including a walk-off home run in Game 5.
Could they complete the first comeback in the playoffs from down 3-0 since the 2004 Boston Red Sox?
Nope. Veteran Charlie Morton (one of the best Game 7 pitchers of all time) gave the Rays 5 2/3 of scoreless ball, leaving the game in the sixth up 3-0, and the Rays would hold on 4-2 to take Game 7.
The amazing Randy Arozarena set the tone with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first off Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr., Arozarena’s seventh postseason home run in 14 games, one shy of the record. He became just the fourth rookie to be named MVP of a league championship series and first position player.
Meanwhile, the entire Baseball World is eternally grateful to Tampa Bay for ending the run of the Cheatin’ ‘Stros.
--So I’m reading the Wake Forest alumni magazine and there was a piece on an alum who works for the Library of Congress and he shared some of the amazing things contained therein.
One was a scouting report of Hank Aaron from Branch Rickey prior to a Cincinnati vs. Milwaukee series in May 1963. Aaron visited the Library of Congress last year and was shown the following:
“Surely one of the greatest hitters in baseball today. Can hit late with power – good wrists. But in spite of his hitting record and admitted power ability, one cannot help think that Aaron is frequently a guess hitter. Will take three strikes down the middle and in fact frequently acts frozen on pitches. For years I have believed and I still believe that Aaron has more trouble with the breaking stuff. He stands close enough to the plate to pull the outside ball and does pull it. However, he is a foot length further from the plate than Frank Robinson of Cincinnati.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP Poll…]
It’s more apparent than ever. Just play the College Football Playoff title game, now, Clemson-Alabama, and maybe have BYU and Ohio State at halftime, like a little peewee game at the half of an NFL affair. I’ll stay with Clemson winning 40-10.
No. 1 Clemson (5-0) annihilated Georgia Tech (2-3) 73-7. It was 52-7 at the half, tying a conference record for largest halftime lead, as your 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, and future Jets quarterback, Trevor Lawrence was 24/32, 404, 5-1…just understand that was all essentially in the first half! [Lawrence played the opening series of the second half and then gave way to others.]
And then No. 2 Alabama, with coach Nick Saban on the sidelines after his positive Covid test, but then three consecutive negative ones that per SEC protocols cleared him, cruised by No. 3 Georgia in the ‘game of the year,’ thus far, 41-24, as quarterback Mac Jones had his third consecutive 400-yard passing effort (24/32, 417, 4-1), and running back Najee Harris, who is putting together a monster campaign, rumbled for 152 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
For the Bulldogs and their vaunted defense, it didn’t help that QB Stetson Bennett threw three interceptions.
Elsewhere, No. 4 Notre moved to 4-0, unimpressively, defeating Louisville (1-4) 12-7.
But in a shocker, lowly Florida State (2-3) upset No. 5 North Carolina (3-1) 31-28, thus ending the Tar Heels’ small hopes at a CFP berth. UNC’s Sam Howell had an interception returned for a touchdown, while the Seminoles rushed for 241 yards, including 107 and two touchdowns from quarterback Jordan Travis.
Carolina coach Mack Brown is now 0-10 all-time against Florida State. On the other hand, nice win for first-year coach Mike Norvell.
The rest of the schedule was like….whatever….
South Carolina (2-2) beat 15 Auburn (2-2) 30-22.
In the battle of the Cougars, females 40 and over admitted free, 14 BYU moved to 5-0 and becomes a story to watch the rest of the way with a 43-26 win over Houston (1-1…yes, just their second game due to Covid issues with their opponents). For BYU, playing as an independent, Zach Wilson had 400 yards passing and four touchdowns, with receiver Dax Milne having a rather solid game, nine receptions, 184 yards and three TDs.
13 Miami (4-1) recovered from its shellacking at the hands of Clemson the week before to beat Pitt (3-3) 31-19, the third consecutive loss for the Panthers. So much for their season.
Last Wednesday, 21 Louisiana (3-1) fell to Coastal Carolina (4-0) 30-27. The Chanticleers are a cool story, just their fourth year at the FBS level.
Finally, my Wake Forest Demon Deacons looked very solid in defeating Virginia (1-3) 40-23, the Deacs moving to 2-2. I watched this entire affair (with look-ins on baseball), and it was just a nice diversion with all the other crap going on in college football.
Such as Saturday. Among the games we didn’t have due to Covid issues with one team or the other were LSU and 10 Florida, 8 Cincinnati and Tulsa, and 7 Oklahoma State at Baylor. Vanderbilt-Missouri was also postponed due to Vandy’s issues.
And next week’s SEC tilt between Missouri and Florida, will be rescheduled. With the Gators having at least 21 players and coaches test positive this week and dozens more quarantined, that left them with fewer than the conference-mandated 53 scholarship players available Saturday against LSU.
Because of the SEC’s safety protocols, Florida likely would not have gotten everyone back in time to practice and prepare for Mizzou. So the Gators will get consecutive weeks off before hosting Missouri on Oct. 31, initially an off week for Florida.
Florida and LSU are tentatively scheduled to play Dec. 12.
Southern Miss.-UTEP, Florida International-Charlotte were also canceled this week.
--And now the new AP Poll….
1. Clemson (54) 5-0
2. Alabama (8) 4-0
3. Notre Dame 4-0
4. Georgia 3-1
5. Ohio State 0-0
6. Oklahoma State 3-0
7. Texas A&M 3-1
8. Penn State 0-0
9. Cincinnati 3-0
10. Florida 2-1
11. Miami 4-1
12. BYU 5-0
13. Oregon 0-0…quack quack…quack…
16. SMU 5-0…Go Paul P. ….
22. Marshall 4-0 !!!
23. North Carolina State 4-1
24. USC 0-0…girls lookin’ great in practice…beware, Oregon…cuz in this battle, it’s all about the cheerleaders…right, Steve G.? [He can’t reply…Karen would kill him.]
25. Coastal Carolina 4-0…love it!
***The Big Ten and Mountain West begin play next week, followed by the MAC and Pac-12 in early November.
--Trevor Lawrence has completed 73.0% of his passes in the first five games, 15 TD passes, one interception.
Running back Travis Etienne has carried it 67 times for 436 yards, five TDs, 6.5 avg.
‘Bama’s Mac Jones has completed 78.3% of his passes! (90/115), 12-2.
Najee Harris has 499 yards and 11 touchdowns already on 83 carries, 6.0 avg., in just four games.
--The only thing that matters locally is that my Jets continue to lose, and they once again complied today, losing to the Dolphins (3-3), 24-0.
It’s about Trevor Lawrence and the first draft pick.
So Jets fans are eternally grateful to the Giants (1-5) getting their first win against Washington (also now 1-5), 20-19, as Washington coach Ron Rivera went for two with seconds remaining after the Redskins (sorry, easier) scored. The Giants denied….phew…and it was another potential challenger for Trevor out of the way. We thank Tae Crowder for a terrific 43-yard rumble after a fumble recovery for a TD…thanks also going out to Redskins (again, sorry) QB Kyle Allen for coughing up same.
And the Falcons complied, now 1-5, after defeating the Vikings (1-5) 40-23 behind Matt Ryan’s 4 touchdown passes, the Vikes’ Kirk Cousins tossing three INTs…gee, thanks immensely overpaid Kirk! Jets fans love you!
I should note I told you the Falcons would play better under interim coach Raheem Morris.
So in the Chase for Trevor, I know the Falcons will win a few more…ditto the Giants (who have a legitimate coach in Joe Judge, as opposed to the Jets’ Adam Horror Show…aka AHS)…but now I’m kinda worried about the Vikings.
--Anyway, in other games, in a biggie in Pittsburgh the Steelers beat the Browns, 38-7, as Baker Mayfield failed to show up for Cleveland, Pittsburgh now 5-0, Cleveland 4-2.
Granted, the Steelers’ outstanding ‘D’ had something to do with it, holding the Brownies to 220 yards of offense, Mayfield with two interceptions, including one returned for a TD by Minkah Fitzpatrick.
--Baltimore is 5-1 after defeating Senor Wences’ Eagles (1-4-1) 30-28, despite Lamar Jackson having another subpar game throwing it, though with 108 yards rushing.
--The surprising Bears are 5-1 after a 23-16 win on the road at Carolina (3-3).
--Tennessee is 5-0 after a 42-36 win over Houston (1-5). The Texans’ Deshaun Watson has played well this year (28/37, 335, 4-0, 138.9! tonight), but Ryan Tannehill had four touchdown passes, and there was Derrick Henry…212 yards today on just 22 carries, two TDs.
--Wow…talk about going from the outhouse to the penthouse…former Jet Le’Veon Bell was released by the team last Tuesday night, and then he ended up in Kansas City.
Bell averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in 17 games with the Jets, with 69 catches for 500 yards, which was hardly of the level that fans thought they would get when the team signed him to a four-year, $52.5 million contract in March 2019.
But the Jets never used Le’Veon properly…the guy needs a ton of touches. It was particularly frustrating how little he was used in the receiving game.
So I think the Chiefs are getting a steal…at least for the balance of the year and the playoffs.
Bell tweeted: “Kansas City, #ChiefsKingdom, thank you for the opportunity let’s go!” He will make his K.C. debut next week.
--Back to the Dolphins, you can’t help but like coach Brian Flores. Can’t stand the team, but if someone aside from the Jets is to succeed (an easy task), hope it’s him.
--And then in a shocking result, though I admit to seeing zero of it, Tom Brady and the Bucs (4-2) beat the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay’s first loss (4-1), as Rodgers was awful…16/35, 160, 0-2, 35.4.
Brady wasn’t great, but Tampa Bay held the Pack to just 201 yards of offense!
--Hall of Fame defensive end Fred Dean died while battling Covid-19. He was just 68. He had been hospitalized last week with the coronavirus and was on a ventilator and in intensive care, according to former teammate Dwight Hicks.
Dean was an undersized pass rusher who began his career as a second-round pick with the San Diego Chargers in 1975 and ended up in Canton after being named an All-Pro twice and making four Pro Bowls.
Dean was an All-Pro for the Chargers in 1980 but had his biggest impact after being traded to San Francisco during the 1981 season.
“While it cannot be said that Fred Dean’s greatness as an NFL player began when he came to the 49ers in 1981, I can say as the owner of the team that the greatness of the 49ers began with Fred Dean’s arrival in San Francisco,” former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo once said.
Dean’s career in San Diego ended in a contract dispute in 1981, and he was traded to San Francisco in October. He credited the trade for reviving his career, as Dean would go on and win two Super Bowls, following the 1981 and ’84 seasons.
Dean had a career total of near 100 sacks, but the number is unofficial because sacks were not an official NFL stat until 1982.
Unofficially, he had 15 ½ sacks in 1978. He contributed 12 sacks in 11 games with the 49ers in 1981. His career best was 17 ½ in 1983, including a then-NFL record six in one game against New Orleans.
--Everton had a huge test Saturday against Liverpool and managed a 2-2 draw, coming from behind twice to remain unbeaten; Liverpool denied a stoppage-time winner by the video assist referee.
But after Sadio Mane put visiting Liverpool ahead, the team was furious soon afterwards when a wild challenge by Everton keeper Jordan Pickford on Virgil van Dijk, committed after an offside decision, saw the defender having to off with a serious knee injury while VAR failed to review the tackle.
In other games, Man City defeated Arsenal 1-0 on a goal by Raheem Sterling, while Manchester United beat Newcastle 4-1.
And then today, in a game for the ages, unfortunately, my Tottenham Spurs raced off to a 3-0 lead over West Ham in the first 16 minutes of their contest, Harry Kane with two goals, Son Heung-min the other, and I was like, ‘Game over.’
So later, working on this column and watching football, I checked online and at 77 minutes, still 3-0. Then I checked a little later, looking for the final score to write it up, and I was like ‘WTF?!’ 3-2 at 88’. Frantically I switched back over to the game. And it was then, at the end of four minutes of stoppage time, that West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini hit a brilliant long-range strike that you simply have to see to believe to send The Hammers into delirium, salvaging a point, 3-3…and sending a very depressed Spurs team to the locker room to sulk.
It was the first time in 19 years of Premier League play Tottenham had failed to win a game they were leading by three.
What made it even worse is that Gareth Bale made his first appearance since his return to the Spurs from Real Madrid, and in stoppage time he missed a great chance before Lanzini’s strike.
And in today’s final game, Aston Villa, which as you remember (you should) avoided relegation on the final day of the 2019-20 season, defeated Leicester City 1-0 and now, astonishingly, sits second! And with a game in hand…4-0-0! Holy Toledo! Or as my grandfather would have said, “Gee willikers!”
Out of nowhere, 35-year-old journeyman Jason Kokrak won his first tour event at the CJ Cup, an exclusive field, held at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada, by two strokes over Xander Schauffele.
And Phil Mickelson won his second event in two starts as a senior on the Champions tour at The Country Club of Virginia in Richmond.
In the Round of Eight, Joey Logano punched his ticket into the finale, defeating Kevin Harvick (who has basically clinched a final spot himself) at Kansas Speedway.
--It appears the Clippers are nearing a five-year deal with Tyronn Lue to be their next coach, succeeding Doc Rivers.
Lue had been in line to become the Lakers’ head coach in 2019, but talks collapsed after he was offended the term was for only three years, having won a championship in Cleveland in 2016. The Lakers then turned to Frank Vogel, which worked out.
Lue may not have as good a situation with the Clippers as it would seem on paper because now it has emerged that there was a lot of tension during the season between stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both of whom are under contract for only one more guaranteed season before each can return to free agency. So it’s up to Lue to establish the chemistry lacking under Rivers, especially with George receiving a lot of criticism for his many subpar performances in the playoffs.
--The story with Wichita State men’s basketball coach Gregg Marshall is really disturbing. Like most other fans, I’ve observed the guy from afar and admired what he has done with the program.
But after seven straight NCAA tournament appearances, including a Final Four appearance, his last two Shockers squads have fallen short, though were still 22-15 and 23-8…and we don’t know if they would have made the NCAA tournament last spring.
The issue is there are serious allegations he has physically abused players and a staff member and the school has launched an investigation.
Former Shockers forward Shaq Morris revealed in a report by Stadium that Marshall punched him twice at practice during the 2015-16 season. Morris also said he saw the coach choke former assistant Kyle Lindsted at practice the following season.
In a statement released to the Wichita Eagle, Marshall called the report an “unrelenting character assassination” and said he was cooperating with a law firm the school has hired to conduct the probe.
“In response to the allegations put forward in the media, I simply state unequivocally that I have never physically struck a player or colleague,” Marshall wrote. “Allegations claiming otherwise are false.”
But here’s the thing. A week after the Shockers’ season ended last March, a walk-on and six scholarship players announced their decisions to transfer, marking the largest turnover in Marshall’s 13-year tenure at the school, so something’s up.
It also needs to be noted that while several former WSU players have defended Marshall’s coaching style, none of them were active during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, when the alleged abuses took place.
--I noted in that other column I do that New Jersey’s fast-growing sports betting market blew past its own national record in September, taking in more than $748 million in bets from sports gamblers finally able to wager on football amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The figures, courtesy of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, show Atlantic City’s nine casinos and the three horse racing tracks that offer sports betting handled over $748 million in bets, easily surpassing the national monthly record they set in August at $668 million.
Previously, the U.S. record of $614 million was set in Nevada in Nov. 2019.
Of the $748 million, after paying off winning bets and expenses, the casinos and tracks kept $45 million of the total.
--I got a kick out of this story…a pair of puppets used in the classic 1964 stop-motion Christmas movie “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” is going up for auction next month and could sell for upwards of $250,000. [Estimates range from $150k-$250k.]
Bidding begins on Nov. 13 for the lot featuring the actual 6-inch-tall Rudolph and 11-inch tall Santa Claus figures that are featured in the film.
For the past 15 years, the figures have been in the possession of a Staten Island collector. After turning 65, he decided to sell them as a way of leaving something for his family.
Top 3 songs for the week 10/17/64: #1 “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” (Manfred Mann) #2 “Dancing In The Streets” (Martha & The Vandellas…all time great song…) #3 “Oh, Pretty Woman” (Roy Orbison)…and…#4 “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine” (Gale Garnett…incredibly haunting tune…) #5 “Last Kill” (J. Frank Wilson and The Cavaliers) #6 “Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand)” (The Shangri-Las) #7 “A Summer Song” (Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde) #8 “It Hurts To Be In Love” (Gene Pitney…another good one…) #9 “When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)” (The Beach Boys…in my all-time top three of theirs…) #10 “Let It Be Me” (Betty Everett & Jerry Butler…sneakily great week…an ‘A’ from moi…)
College Football Quiz Answer: Case Keenum has the record for most career touchdown passes, 155, while at Houston (2007-2011). Boise State’s Kellen Moore is second at 142.
Next Bar Chat, Wednesday.