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Changes A Comin' In College Football...
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
***Due to work revolving around that other column I do, no midweek Bar Chat again. Lots of stuff I need to clean up and put to bed in my coverage of the election. Beyond that, no comment.
MLB Quiz: The Gold Glove winners were announced this week. The award was first handed out in 1957, for all of MLB, and then each league since 1958. At each position at least one player has 10 or more. Name them. Pitcher (2), Catcher (2), 1B (1), 2B (1), 3B (2), SS (2), OF (6). Answers below.
Yes, 2020 Continues To Totally Suck….
We note the passing of the host of “Jeopardy!”, the great Alex Trebek, who succumbed to his pancreatic cancer early today, passing away peacefully at home, “surrounded by family and friends.”
What a heroic battle he fought against this dreaded disease. Incredibly, his last day taping in the studio was October 29, and Trebek hosted episodes will air through December 25th.
The show’s executive producer, Mike Richards, said, “Working beside him for the past year and a half as he heroically continued to host ‘Jeopardy!’ was an incredible honor. His belief in the importance of the show and his willingness to push himself to perform at the highest level was the most inspiring demonstration of courage I have ever seen.”
The TV icon has been battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer since announcing the news back in March 2019. He immediately started chemo after the diagnosis but made no plans to retire and continued hosting his show. What a man. He just kept powering through, despite what he called “massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it was really worth fighting on” – because he said he realized giving up on life would be a betrayal to his wife, God and other cancer patients.
Trebek was hoping to survive a second year, noting that the odds of surviving that long were just 7 percent, but, alas, he took a turn for the worse.
Alex Trebek hosted “Jeopardy!” since 1984, and in June 2014, set a Guinness World record for most episodes of a game show hosted (6,829).
In the past few years he named two potential replacements: L.A. Kings announcer Alex Faust and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates. Producers are not announcing a new host for a bit, as appropriate, but I think Laura Coates would be terrific.
RIP, Canada’s Finest.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP poll…]
We had a titanic result Saturday night, 4 Notre Dame over 1 Clemson that shakes things up bigly in the CFP chase, but let’s take care of some other games of import first.
Friday night, 11 Miami had to rally in the fourth quarter to defeat North Carolina State (4-3) 44-41, as it was the D’Eriq King show, the quarterback throwing for 430 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for 105, the Hurricanes improving to 6-1.
9 BYU is 8-0 after a big 51-17 win over 21 Boise State, with QB Zach Wilson going 21/27, 359, 2-0, as, like D’Eriq King, he keeps his slim Heisman hopes alive.
But the win was huge for BYU because as an independent, amidst a pandemic, they have put together a patchwork schedule that is far from impressive, with just two games left…Northern Alabama and San Diego State. Should they finish 10-0, though, they would deserve a New Year’s Six bid (as well as Cincinnati, the Group of Five, New Year’s Six current frontrunner), but with the conference tie-ins, that’s not possible.
So Saturday, 2 Alabama was idle.
3 Ohio State improved to 3-0 with a 49-27 win over Rutgers (1-2). Justin Fields was a cool 24/28, 314, 5-0 as the Buckeyes raced out to a 35-3 halftime lead.
But Rutgers fans are taking heart that the Scarlet Knights under Greg Schiano showed real spunk and heart in the second half, as Schiano pulled out all the trick plays that you and I would draw up on the field as a kid. It was almost a moral victory and further shows Schiano is capable of totally turning this program around….a second time.
Aside from ND-Clemson, the other huge game was 8 Florida prevailing over 5 Georgia 44-28, the Gators 4-1, the Bulldogs dropping to 4-2 and out of the CFP picture.
Florida QB Kyle Trask, a top three Heisman candidate, had his fifth straight game with four touchdown passes (30/43, 474, 4-1) against the vaunted Georgia defense, while on the other side, Georgia quarterbacks were a combined 9 of 29 for 112 yards and three interceptions. That, boys and girls, sucks.
But Florida is most entertaining and they positioned themselves for the CFP; a battle with ‘Bama looming for the SEC Championship.
And 6 Cincinnati, at 6-0, is not just the Group of Five, New Year’s Six, favorite, but it has just as much a right to claim a spot in the CFP if they finish undefeated as anyone. In beating Houston (2-3) 38-10, quarterback Desmond Ridder rushed for 102 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Gerrid Doaks gained 184 yards on 16 carries and a score.
The Bearcats have as good a defense as there is in the land, holding the Cougars to 282 yards of total offense.
7 Texas A&M is 5-1 after a 48-3 win over South Carolina (2-4), but I still am like, ‘eh,’ when it comes to the Aggies. Their loss was 52-24 to ‘Bama, after all.
However, they also handed Florida their only loss, 41-38.
In other games of note….
13 Indiana is 3-0 after taking down 23 Michigan (1-2) 38-21. Understand, the Hoosiers entered the season a combined 2-61 since 1968 against Penn State and Michigan and they’ve beaten both. They hadn’t beaten Michigan since 1987!
We are also watching Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. emerge as a real star right before our eyes. He is improving with each week, going 30/50, 342, 3-0, against the Wolverines.
As for coach Jim Harbaugh, there is some talk he could end up with the New York Jets. Boy, I don’t want that.
15 Coastal Carolina is 7-0 after a 23-6 win over South Alabama (3-4).
16 Marshall remains undefeated, 7-0, after a 51-10 shellacking of UMass (0-2).
18 SMU is 7-1 after taking out Temple (1-4) 47-23.
And in a huge development, 25 Liberty is now 7-0, beating Virginia Tech (4-3) 38-35, as kicker Alex Barbir booted a 51-yard field goal as time expired.
But this was after they blocked Barbir’s first attempt and returned it for what appeared to be the winning score, only the Hokies had called time out…unreal.
Va Tech coach Justin Fuente is being rightfully criticized. Understand, Barbir actually had a 59-yard attempt. Just let the guy try it. Instead, Liberty had time to run one more play, got eight yards closer, and Barbir nailed it.
Liberty also beat another ACC opponent this season, Syracuse.
Penn State is a shocking 0-3 after a 35-19 loss to Maryland (2-1).
Northwestern, like Indiana, is 3-0, making it the first time in the Big Ten’s 124-year history that both squads are 3-0 in league play together.
No. 10 Wisconsin has still played only one game after its contest with Purdue was canceled due to Covid. Virginia-Louisville was another victim of the coronavirus, ditto Navy-Tulsa and Air Force-Army, as well as UTEP-Florida International. It was the third time an opponent has postponed a game against UTEP in the last four weeks, which really sucks. You feel for the players.
And then the Pac-12 opened its season, but California-Washington was canceled. With a shortened schedule, the conference can ill afford any cancellations if they want their league champ to be considered for the CFP.
The Badgers will end up only having played six games, if they’re lucky, while others, such as Ohio State, are on track for a full eight.
So we go back to 4 Notre Dame’s stirring 47-40, double OT win over No. 1 Clemson in South Bend, dropping the Tigers to 7-1, the Fighting Irish 7-0. It is going to be fascinating to see how the pollsters handle this one, Clemson without superstar quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a slew of other starters (three on defense) due to Covid.
D.J. Uiagalelei, in place of Lawrence, had his second straight excellent effort, 29/44, 439, 2-0; in fact the 439 yards were the most given up thru the air by Notre Dame in the program’s history.
But the ND defense held Travis Etienne to just 28 yards on 18 carries, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage, and the Tigers fumbled it away three times, one by Etienne returned 23 yards for a score.
For the Irish, QB Ian Book was superb, 310 yards passing, 68 on the ground, while running back Kyren Williams was brilliant in picking up 140 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Great win for ND and coach Brian Kelly.
But, again, these two are likely to be matched up in the ACC Conference Championship, and Lawrence and the other starters will be back. Then again, how could Lawrence do any better than D.J.?
Meanwhile, Notre Dame still has tough road games at Boston College and North Carolina, and a regular season finale against a solid Wake Forest team.
Finally, we cannot ignore the fact the Irish fans rushed the field in celebration and Covid-19 is a big problem on campus. Brian Kelly told his players to get off the field quickly. We’ll see if there was any resultant spread, such as the players no doubt celebrating off campus after as well.
--And now…the new AP Poll…
1. Alabama (59) 6-0
2. Notre Dame (2) 7-0
3. Ohio State (1) 3-0
4. Clemson 7-1
5. Texas A&M 5-1…guess I gotta start respecting them
6. Florida 4-1…but I like them better
7. Cincinnati 6-0
8. BYU 8-0
9. Miami 6-1
10. Indiana 3-0…love it!
11. Oregon 1-0*
15. Coastal Carolina 7-0
16. Marshall 6-0
20. USC 1-0*
22. Liberty 7-0
*Oregon won its opener 35-14 over Stanford, while USC had a stirring comeback against Arizona State, 28-27, scoring two touchdowns in the final three minutes. Ergo, we are hoping for a battle of the cheerleaders in the Pac-12 title game…cuz at the end of the day….
Meanwhile, Liberty has games with North Carolina State and Coastal Carolina left, the latter the regular-season finale for both.
Coastal Carolina also has a biggie with Appalachian State coming up. Johnny Mac is praying for a big bowl game for his Chanticleers.
--The Giants took on the Washington Football Team today, after a disastrous Monday night loss to the Bucs and Tom Brady, 25-23, as quarterback Daniel Jones literally threw it away, turnovers 35 and 36 in just 21 career games.
Steve Politi / NJ.com (Star-Ledger)
“Again and again, Jones has failed at this crucial part of his job.
“But that wasn’t his only problem (in the loss). Jones had multiple opportunities with open receivers to break this game open for the Giants. He misfired several times long, and maybe more troubling, didn’t even see wide open receivers streaking toward the end zone on a couple of crucial plays. It was hard to watch.
“Look, if you’re a glass-half-full fan, you’ll take the positives from the way Jones led the Giants down the field for a touchdown with 30 seconds left, throwing a perfect pass to Golden Tate in the back of the end zone. You’ll scream at the referees for not calling pass interference on the two-point conversion pass that was knocked away a bit early.
“Jones is tough and resilient, that much is true.
“But if you’re a realistic fan, you can’t overlook the entire performance in this one. Two more interceptions. A half dozen missed throws. Jones is a second-year quarterback that can’t protect the football, struggles with accuracy and misses his reads.”
As in, Daniel Jones just isn’t progressing.
So how did he do today?
Well, he was better, 23/34, 212, 1-0, 94.2, no turnovers, and the Giants held on 23-20, after building a 20-3 halftime lead.
Washington quarterback Kyle Allen exited early with what appeared to be a severe ankle injury, and Alex Smith came in and was rolling, the Red Clouds (I’m sorry…just pick a freakin’ name!) rallying back, Smith throwing for 325 yards, but then it was one INT after another, 3 in all, and the Giants prevailed.
Washington had five turnovers overall, including two fumbles, the Giants zero, and that’s your ballgame; New York now 2-7, Washington 2-6.
--Buffalo (7-2), like the stampede in “How the West Was Won,” sent a thundering message with a 44-34 win over Seattle (6-2) and Russell Wilson, Wilson picked off twice, while Josh Allen was spectacular, 31/38, 415, 3-0, 138.5. Hell, he had 282 yards and the three TDs at halftime.
--The Ravens entered their game against the Colts having tied an NFL record by scoring at least 20 points in 30 straight regular-season games, despite losing 28-24 to Pittsburgh last week.
And they broke the record with a 24-10 win over the Colts (5-3), the Ravens now 6-2. Lamar Jackson was efficient, 19/23, 170, 0-0, 97.5, with 58 rushing and a touchdown, but Baltimore had only 266 yards total offense, so put your kids homeschooling to work on how that really breaks down.
--The Titans improved to 6-2 with a 24-17 win over the Bears (5-4), handing Chicago its third straight loss, even though Nick Foles was solid at QB. Tennessee had just 228 yards of offense, and just 11 first downs, but somehow pulled it out, thanks in no small part to a fumble returned for a touchdown.
--The Chiefs are 8-1 but it was far from easy, defeating the stubborn Panthers (3-6) 33-31 at home. Patrick Mahomes with another four touchdown passes and 372 yards.
Carolina was buoyed by the return of the voluptuous Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Olivia Culpo’s boyfriend, Christian McCaffrey, who had 151 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.***
***I was just flagged by the International Website Association’s Board of Ethics…the feared IWABE. Man, they are everywhere, people. Be very afraid.
--I wasn’t going to note the Lions-Vikings contest, as in I, and those outside Detroit and Minnesota, couldn’t care less, but in the Vikes’ win, 34-20, both teams now 3-5, my man Dalvin Cook had a cool 206 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, plus another 46 yards receiving. As Ronald Reagan would have said while reading the Monday morning sports pages, Nancy rushing to meet a friend and simply handing him a bowl of Post Raisin Bran, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--With Andy Dalton out a second consecutive game due to a concussion, Dalton also then testing positive so he was placed on the reserve Covid-19 list, the Cowboys started Garrett Gilbert, 29, who had thrown all of six passes in his career, and Dallas looked good early but the Steelers prevailed 24-19, Ben Roethlisberger throwing three touchdown passes…Pittsburgh staying undefeated at 8-0, Dallas 2-7.
--The Raiders traveled to Los Angeles to face the hard-luck Chargers, who since last season were 3-14 in games decided by one score heading into this one. They are also the first team since the 2003 Falcons to lose three times in a season after leading by 17 points or more. The rest of the NFL entered this weekend a combined 52-4 when up by at least 17, compared to the 0-3 for L.A.
And while the Chargers didn’t blow a 17-point lead, they still lost 31-26, the Raiders 5-3, L.A. 2-6.
--The Dolphins are 5-3 after a 34-31 win over the Cardinals (5-3), Tua Tagovailoa now 2-0 as a starter. Arizona’s Kyler Murray was heroic in defeat, 3 touchdown passes and 106 yards rushing, but the Dolphins returned his fumble in the first quarter for a touchdown.
--Monday night, a thriller…New England (2-5) vs. the Jets (0-8). There could be record ratings.
--The Mets’ new owner Steve Cohen, our “Uncle Stevie” hereafter, officially assumed the title on Friday and immediately announced he was cleaning out the front office, including GM Brodie Van Wagenen.
Cohen had named old pro Sandy Alderson as President of Baseball operations and then let Sandy loose.
We’re thrilled. But now we’re competing with the Yankees for the likes of free agents J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer. I’d be very satisfied with James McCann at catcher, by the way. He’d come cheaper and is solid.
--The Red Sox, as expected, are bringing back Alex Cora as their manager, Cora, like A.J. Hinch, having served his one-season suspension for his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, so he was free to return in whatever role he wanted. The Tigers had hired Hinch a week ago.
Dave Sheinin / Washington Post
“The problem for the Red Sox, if not for Cora himself, was always going to be the optics: How was it going to look for the team to bring back – after what was effectively a 10-month sabbatical – a manager who had been linked to two different sign-stealing schemes with two different World Series champions, one of them being the Red Sox themselves?
“The answer: It doesn’t look great.
“Is Cora so talented and indispensable that it was worth putting up with all the vitriol and recriminations heading Boston’s way from across the game in the wake of Friday’s news, first reported by MLB Network, that he had been rehired? Apparently, the Red Sox believe so….
“ ‘He does need to go through a rehabilitation process. What he did was wrong,’ Red Sox team president Sam Kennedy said in January. ‘…But I’m a big believer in second chances. We wish him well.’
“Central to the enduring nature of the Cora-Red Sox relationship, of course, was the fact that he had led them to the World Series title as a rookie manager in 2018. Yes, that’s the same season in which the team was found to have used its video replay room to decode the signs of opposing catchers. Winning a championship, even under disputed circumstances, has a way of making everything else immaterial.
“Cora was let go in January – the team referred to it as a mutual parting of ways – as MLB was still conducting its investigation of Boston’s scheme. When MLB’s report was released in April, finding Cora not only had no role in the scheme but wasn’t even aware of it, the countdown began in Boston until the day his Astros-related suspension would be over and the Red Sox could hire him back….
“Now comes the damage control. The Red Sox won’t have to worry much about soothing souls in New England, whether inside or outside the organization. Cora’s 2018 title gives him a lifetime pass with Boston fans, and he was a highly popular figure with his players and his superiors alike.
“But the move probably won’t sit well with many others across baseball, who, even in conceding that the rehiring of Cora was perfectly legal, might argue that doesn’t make it right. There probably isn’t anything the Red Sox or Cora can say to change those minds, but they’re going to have to try anyway.”
--Joe Plumeri is a famous former Wall Streeter who also owns the AA Trenton Thunder, for 18 years a Yankees farm team. I can say in all honesty I know Joe. We both belong to Lahinch Golf Club in County Clare, Ireland, and we would see each other at overseas member/guest tournaments there. In fact, prior to him becoming CEO of the Willis Group, he saw me in town one morning and said, “Let’s take a walk,” and he explained to me what he was thinking of doing. I was kind of flattered. We shared some connections, which is why he confided in me.
Anyway, Plumeri was born in Trenton and when he bought the Thunder, he named the stadium after his father.
So he was furious when the Yankees informed him this weekend that they were ending the partnership, Plumeri, in a statement, calling it a “betrayal.”
“The Yankees’ actions are nothing short of despicable,” he said.
The Yankees’ took a shot at the stadium in Trenton (now officially Arm & Hammer Park), saying it wasn’t “the best facility to develop our young players.”
Because of the closeness to New York, Trenton was often the stop before the Yanks would bring up their studs, or it was used for rehab games.
Plumeri said he learned about the decision from the media, not from the Yankees.
“(Friday night), we learned through the media, that New York Yankees management has made the calculated and ungracious maneuver to leave the urban setting of Trenton for the affluent confines of Bridgewater Township, leaving one of the finest facilities according to Major League Baseball without an affiliate,” Plumer said. “For the last 18 years, Trenton has served as the Yankees’ AA affiliate with many of the contributors to the Major League team’s recent success, having first worn the Thunder’s navy and gold, and had their Louisville Sluggers picked up by Rookie, Derby, and Chase – our team’s bat dogs, on their way to the Bronx.”
I have generally been to one Trenton Thunder game a year for a long time. It’s a great facility, fun, and, yes, the team’s bat dogs are a hit.
I feel sorry for Plumeri, a blue-collar type, who has done something great for a struggling city. His roots are there. I hope they get a franchise soon. It’s a big blow to the area. I know the locals I would see at the games must be crushed.
--In the biggest non-surprise of the offseason, the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton is keeping the remaining $218 million and seven guaranteed years in his New York Yankees contract rather than opt out after a pair of injury decimated seasons.
Stanton is due $29 million in each of the next two seasons, $32 million annually from 2023 through ’25, $29 million in 2026 and $25 million in 2027. The deal includes a $25 million club option for 2028 with a $10 million buyout.
My, isn’t job security great…especially at those levels.
--Among the Gold Glove Award winners, left fielder Alex Gordon of the Royals won his 8th, first baseman Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs his 4th, third baseman Nolan Arenado of the Rockies his 8th, and the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts his 5th.
--A Honus Wagner rookie baseball card has sold for more than $1.4 million. The price was a record for the rare T-206 card and was the highlight of the Goldin October Legends Auction. Also fetching a record price was the basketball rookie card of Michael Jordan, which sold for $124,230.
A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for $584,250 and a 1958 Pele card went for $295,200, a record for a soccer card.
The jersey that Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. wore for the final game of his record 2,632 consecutive-game streak sold for $184,500. This was from Ripken’s personal collection.
--Free agent pitcher Jon Lester goes into the December file for Good Guy of the Year consideration. After the Cubs declined his $25 million option for 2021, Lester thus becoming a free agent, he made sure fans know how grateful he has been for their support since signing with the team prior to the 2015 season.
Lester tweeted Friday that he would be paying for everyone’s first Miller Lite at four different Chicago bars over the weekend and shared an update last Sunday morning that 3,466 beers had been put on his tab, totaling $25,637.90 (including gratuity).
Lester was 77-44, 3.64 ERA, in his six years in Chicago, helping the team reach the postseason five times, including the 2016 World Series title that broke the franchise’s 108-year drought.
Lester is receiving a $10 million buyout from the Cubs, but he could still stay with the team…in the end.
--Today was the finale, the race for the Cup title…four drivers – Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Denny Hamlin. Whoever finished first among them, not necessarily the winner of the race, gets the trophy. It’s a great format…NASCAR nailing the formula years ago.
And for virtually all of the race, these four were at the top. Understand, the last thing the others in the field want to do is take one of the final four out with a careless move.
So in the end the sport’s most popular driver, Chase Elliott, won it…the 24-year-old’s first title, Keselowski second, Logano third, Hamlin fourth.
Elliott thus joins his father Bill as a NASCAR Cup title winner, the only other father/son duos to do so being Lee and Richard Petty, and Ned and Dale Jarrett.
I told my brother tonight that when the pandemic is over, we gotta get down to Dawsonville, Georgia, the home of the Elliott’s, to quaff a few beers.
--The final race of the season also meant the end to Jimmie Johnson’s sterling career – 83 Cup victories, sixth on the career list, and a record-tying seven driver titles. He finished fifth today.
But Johnson, just 45, had some interesting things to say in a Sports Illustrated interview, as well as with the New York Times’ Jerry Garrett. He’s just tired of it all.
“It’s a grind,” Johnson told both.
“By traditional NASCAR standards, Johnson is hanging up his helmet much earlier than did the other seven-time champions: Richard Petty raced until he was 55; Dale Earnhardt Sr. was going strong at 49 when he died at Daytona; Darrell Waltrip retired at 53, after 28 seasons in Cup racing; Cale Yarborough also raced 28 seasons.”
Johnson said he thought two decades was plenty. “It seems like a more common number for a career these days. I don’t think you will see guys racing at this level for 25, 30 years anymore.”
He added: “We go 38 weeks now, with really intense competition. It’s almost nonstop.”
I think a lot about what these guys go through. It is indeed a major grind.
“Off the track, the most popular drivers like Johnson, are also swamped with commitments to sponsors, the press and social media. The scramble for sponsor money has become almost as intense as the racing on the track; losing deep-pocketed longtime backers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, DuPont, GoDaddy and Budweiser dented the income potential for stars like (Tony) Stewart, (Jeff) Gordon, (Danica) Patrick and (Dale) Earnhardt Jr.
“For midlevel racers, in Earnhardt’s estimation, the income hit has been worse – up to 90 percent.
“Gordon acknowledged that some drivers would rather retire than ‘take a step back’ in what they are paid.”
With Johnson’s exit, Kevin Harvick becomes the sport’s elder statesman at 44, while Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman are both 42. Busch and Newman are the only two drivers remaining in the sport who started before Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in 2001.
Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson will do some selected Indy Car racing next year, the road course events, and while 2021 is probably out, hopefully he’s in the Indy 500 in 2022, even at age 47. He wants to do it once; you just get the impression he’s a little worried about the reflexes. You can’t make a mistake there.
--In the tune-up for Augusta, kind of out of nowhere, Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz picked up his first PGA Tour win at the Houston Open by two over Hideki Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson, a good return for DJ after his Covid issue. And Brooks Koepka finished T5, with weekend 65s, so a great sign for him after what has been a crappy year.
--Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his tune-up for Augusta and on Friday, he did something he had never done before in a PGA event…a quintuple-bogey eight on a par-3, which I was shocked by the stat. He hit a wet tee shot, a wet flop shot, and a second flop shot that just barely stayed out of the water…six on the green, two putts.
--In the Charles Schwab Cup Championship for the senior guys, Kevin Sutherland and Paul Broadhurst have to come back Monday after the first six holes of a playoff due to darkness. Good lord.
In action this weekend, today, Tottenham needed a Harry Kane goal at 88’ to escape with a 1-0 win over West Brom, sending them briefly atop the Premier League table for the first time since August 2014, though Leicester City then moved ahead with a 1-0 win over the Wolves. And after that, Liverpool had a chance to vault to the top but it tied its biggie with Man City 1-1, as City superstar Kevin de Bruyne shockingly missed a PK. De Bruyne was the subject of a terrific profile in the Wall Street Journal this weekend. So call it the WSJ Jinx.
Saturday, Crystal Palace continued its solid pay with a 4-1 thrashing of Leeds, which after a hot start is struggling.
And Manchester United had a critical 3-1 win over Everton.
Back to Harry Kane, it was his 150th PL goal and he’s the third fastest to that mark, 218 games. Only Alan Shearer (212) and Sergio Aguero (217) did it faster.
--In the college game, it’s been a patchwork Division I season, some schools opting not to play this fall, but a champion will be crowned and as of the last Coaches Poll, No. 1 was Pitt and No. 2 Wake Forest…huh. The ACC Championship is next weekend.
--We had the Breeders’ Cup races this weekend and I admit I only watched the finale, the Classic, and Bob Baffert did it again.
At Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., Kentucky Derby winner Authentic went to the lead early and held on for an impressive win in the $6-million race considered the most important in the sport.
It was a terrific field, and Baffert’s fourth Classic victory, all with 3-year-olds, including with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015.
As for all the medication violations that have been piling up for Baffert, NBC’s commentator, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, put it best. These are all minor violations, but there are too many of them. They all involve approved drugs, it’s just the amounts used are over the limit.
So this week, Baffert announced a series of changes to barn protocols, including adding another veterinarian to oversee medication and safety issues.
“I want my legacy to be one of making every effort to do right by the horse and the sport,” Baffert said in a statement.
--The NBA and the Players Association’s board of representatives reached agreement on a 2020-21 season, 72 games vs. the normal 82, starting Dec. 22, which is soon.
It’s obviously unclear today how many fans will be allowed to attend, given the current surge in the coronavirus, but there won’t be enough to salvage the 40% of revenue that comes from game-night receipts.
The point of starting so soon after the last season ended is because the focus is on returning to normalcy for the 2021-2022 season. The players had initially pushed for a mid-January restart before they eventually agreed to December.
So the deal paves the way for a whirlwind offseason that includes a draft on Nov. 18, training camps opening on Dec. 1 and opening night on Dec. 22. Next year’s Finals would end in time for the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23. And then the NBA can reset the league’s calendar for a traditional late October through June schedule with free agency in July.
But it was important to keep the Christmas Day slate, which garners the regular season’s highest television ratings.
Now, however, it’s about the virus and new disruptions.
--We note the passing of former NBA All-Star guard “Fast Eddie” Johnson, who fell from NBA stardom into a life of crime and drug abuse that resulted in a life sentence for sexually assaulting a young girl. He died the other week, as we just learned, in a state prison in Milton, Fla. He was 65.
Johnson, nicknamed Fast Eddie for his explosive first step, was drafted out of Auburn in 1977 by the Atlanta Hawks and he soon became one of the team’s top players, while starting in the 1980 and 1981 All-Star Games.
But Johnson began to use cocaine in college and continued using it during his NBA career.
In 1981, Johnson discussed his cocaine use in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “I partied a little extensively, but I wasn’t abusing it,” he said. “The whole idea of me abusing drugs is outlandish.”
After his All-Star years, Johnson bounced around and after several violations of the NBA’s antidrug agreement, he was banned from the league in 1987.
In 10 seasons, Johnson averaged 15.1 points a game.
Eddie’s younger brother was Frank Johnson, who starred at Wake Forest when I was there and then had a respectable NBA career.
--I haven’t had a chance to note the passing of former Oklahoma Sooners basketball coach Billy Tubbs, who died last Sunday at the age of 85.
Tubbs coached the Sooners from 1980-94, during the heyday of Big Eight hoops, taking OU to nine NCAA tournaments, including the Finals in 1988, where they lost to Kansas. His teams were high-scoring and high-achieving, producing stars like Wayman Tisdale, Stacey King and Mookie Blaylock.
Tubbs went 333-132 at Oklahoma. He also coached at Lamar and TCU.
--Sports gambling won big at the polls Tuesday, with Maryland, South Dakota and Louisiana approving sports betting. So by end of next year, more than half the states will have it.
My favorite place, Deadwood, South Dakota, can now have sports betting, which would be cool…placing a bet and then watching the game at Saloon No. 10 (my hangout when I’m in town).
Top 3 songs for the week 11/8/69: #1 “Wedding Bell Blues” (The 5th Dimension) #2 “Suspicious Minds” (Elvis Presley) #3 “Come Together” (The Beatles)…and…#4 “I Can’t Get Next To You” (The Temptations) #5 “Baby It’s You” (Smith) #6 “Sugar, Sugar” (The Archies) #7 “Hot Fun In The Summertime” (Sly & The Family Stone) #8 “And When I Die” (Blood, Sweat & Tears) #9 “Something” (The Beatles) #10 “Smile A Little Smile For Me” (The Flying Machine…B+ week…New York Mets were still celebrating their World Series Championship…)
MLB Quiz Answers: 10 or more Gold Gloves…Pitcher: Greg Maddux 18, Jim Kaat 16; Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez 13, Johnny Bench 10; 1B: Keith Hernandez 11; 2B: Roberto Alomar 10; 3B: Brooks Robinson 16, Michael Schmidt 10; SS: Ozzie Smith 13, Omar Vizquel 11; OF: Roberto Clemente 12, Willie Mays 12, Ken Griffey Jr. 10, Andruw Jones, 10, Al Kaline 10, Ichiro 10.
***Next Bar Chat, Monday, Nov. 16. Enjoy The Masters, a tradition unlike any other, on CBS.