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Football for $200
[Posted Sunday pm.]
***No formal Bar Chat midweek, though I am going to add a little something late Tuesday following the release of the first College Football Playoff Rankings.
Update: Tuesday night….
College Football Playoff Rankings
So the next four Tuesdays we have the key CFP rankings that determine a final four, and then Sunday, Dec. 20, is Selection Sunday. It’s assumed that all the conference championships are decided Dec. 19, or maybe early Dec. 20, if necessary, but in case you forgot and you’re walking into a grocery store without a mask on….we’re in the midst of an historically deadly pandemic.
I just got word today that a good friend and his family of four all have it…from the town next door, where I do most of my shopping and stuff.
Anyway, here are the first rankings….and the first seven, with a minor difference, is the same as the AP poll.
2. Notre Dame
4. Ohio State
5. Texas A&M (lost to ‘Bama by 28)
6. Florida (lost to A&M 41-38)
9. Georgia…this sucks, Bulldogs blow!
13. Iowa State
14. BYU…this is an abomination! They should be No. 8!!! Selection Committee is a bunch of assholes….
20. Coastal Carolina
25. Tulsa…potentially play Cincinnati twice…
Now as we all know…there are lots of changes to come…but at least for today it’s clear.
Winners of the ACC, SEC, and Big Ten championship games are in. Then, if Cincinnati wins out, they will be the fourth into the semis (they better be). If Cincy doesn’t, then there is a slight chance of the Oregon-USC winner getting in, assuming both are undefeated heading into their conference championship.
There will NOT be a second SEC or ACC team unless Cincinnati loses, and the Pac-12 titleholder has a loss.
As for BYU, this is just wrong. Yeah, their schedule is weak, but they’ve been terrific. Time for the Mormons to rise up and secede….Mitt Romney president of the new Mormon Republic. They start out with the best chorus in the world.
--Back to a-holes, you know who is really grating on some of our nerves the whole past year? Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. I’ve told you many a time, as an ACC alum (Wake Forest), there was never a reason to dislike Clemson like us Demon Deacons did Duke or UNC, for example. Clemson had a reputation as a good party school when I was struggling to graduate and you had to respect this. And our teams in football and basketball matched up pretty well.
But now with all their success on the gridiron, thanks in no small part to Dabo and his convincing the school to spend a $Bazillion on world-class facilities that rival the Taj Mahal, he is becoming a bit insufferable.
The latest example was the decision by Florida State to cancel the game last Saturday with Clemson after a Tiger lineman tested positive, the result revealed after he had been on the team flight to Tallahassee.
Dabo was pissed, saying Sunday night, “This game was not canceled because of Covid. Covid was just an excuse to cancel the game.”
Chill out, Dabo.
“To me the Florida State administration forfeited the game and if they want to play Clemson, in my opinion, they need to come to Clemson or they need to pay for all expenses,” Swinney said. “Other than that, there’s no reason for us to play them.”
Now according to Clemson, the trip cost the athletic department $300,000, which I find rather outrageous (and no way accurate), but, yes, FSU should pay some of the cost.
The two teams could still make the game up. We’ll see.
Dabo just needs to be a little more realistic. I mean as I write, Tuesday night, Covid has claimed over 2,100 lives in the U.S. today. It’s not an easy year for anyone, period. Clemson can still make it to the playoffs and that’s all that matters at this point.
--What a tragedy in Cincinnati. Rookie and first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Joe Burrow, not only tore his ACL, but also his MCL and suffered other structural issues to his left knee, as reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Burrow will not be ready for next season, barring a miracle recovery. Maybe mid-season.
This was a guy who was as advertised, befitting the top pick, with the fourth most passing yards in NFL history in a player’s first 10 games. He was on pace to break Andrew Luck’s rookie passing yardage record.
It’s a brutal sport.
But the other top rookie QB, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert, could exceed Luck’s mark. Herbert is breaking records left and right. He has five three-touchdown games and seven in a row with at least two, both NFL rookie records.
And he’s up to 2,699 yards with six games left so Luck’s record of 4,373 is in reach.
Herbert also has a 104.7 passer rating, despite his 2-7 record as a starter, which is rather amazing.
The season is starting tomorrow, albeit a bit haltingly already. Before I get to some of the early issues, the pre-season AP Top Ten:
1. Gonzaga (28)
2. Baylor (24)
3. Villanova (11)
4. Virginia (1)
Just as in the case of college football, this is going to be an interesting year. Let’s pray we have a real NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis as currently planned.
But Baylor is already out of the Empire Classic at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
The Bears’ coach, Scott Drew, tested positive for Covid and while no Baylor players had, the team didn’t embark for Connecticut. Its first-game opponent, Arizona State, had and now Rhode Island is the replacement. The winner of the game will advance to play the winner of Villanova-Boston College.
We have lots of games in tournaments like this, though Florida pulled out of its first two, against Virginia and UMass-Lowell.
Then there is Wichita State. One week after coach Gregg Marshall resigned amid an internal investigation into player abuse allegations, the team was hit with a Covid outbreak. The Shockers were slated to play three games in an 8-team field in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Tennessee canceled its first two games Monday after multiple positive tests within the program, including coach Rick Barnes.
Duke’s season-opener against Gardner-Webb was canceled due to a Covid issue in the Gardner-Webb program. Georgia then had to cancel a game against the team.
Ole Miss was scheduled to host a three-game competition between the Rebels, Jackson State, Arkansas State and Central Arkansas from Wednesday to Friday, but this is off due to a number of positive Covid tests within the program.
Ole Miss’ home game against Memphis on Dec. 5 has also been canceled.
And there are others…and by the time you read this, no doubt more will come up.
As Tony Soprano would have said, “Whaddya gonna do?”
--Meanwhile, sticking with Covid, it should be distressing to all athletes that Buffalo Bills tight end Tommy Sweeney will miss the rest of the season after developing myocarditis following his bout with Covid-19 on Oct. 24. The team hoped to have him back at practice this week, but team doctors discovered the heart issue known to potentially impact those who have contracted the coronavirus.
“It’s unfortunate,” Bills coach Sean McDermott announced on Monday. “He’s had a rough year with the injury the early part of the year, and then now with the Covid and then the residual piece of the Covid, it appears from my position. It’s unfortunate but we know that he’s a good football player and we know he’s a guy that we believe in and can’t wait to get back on the field when he can here.”
Sweeney played in six games for the Bills last season, after being drafted out of Boston College. He had eight receptions for 114 yards and had been sidelined with a foot injury all season.
Myocarditis, according to the Mayo Clinic, is the inflammation of the heart muscle which can impact the organ’s electrical system and reduce its ability to pump or cause abnormal rhythms. It can lead to heart failure, heart attacks or strokes, and even sudden cardiac death.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was diagnosed with the disease after several months of battling coronavirus. He described the illness as “the sickest” he has ever felt, and as if he was “100 years old.” But thankfully he is expected in spring training and recently said he feels 100 percent.
Happy Thanksgiving, gang. I appreciate your support.
NFL Quiz: The Bears’ Cordarrelle Patterson had his eighth career kickoff return for a touchdown last week in a loss to the Vikings. 1) Name the only other two with eight in NFL history. 2) Name the first three to reach six, achieved in the 1950s and ‘60s. Answers below.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of latest AP poll.]
For a second straight weekend the college football schedule was in a state of flux with another slew of games postponed or cancelled for Covid issues.
4 Clemson at Florida State, Ole Miss at 5 Texas A&M, Georgia Tech at 12 Miami, Charlotte at 15 Marshall, and 22 Texas at Kansas were the ones impacting Top 25 teams.
And we had the likes of Wake Forest at Duke, and Michigan State at Maryland, also postponed.
It just sucks…and it could easily get worse.
But we did have some important contests in terms of the CFP and Group of Five/New Year’s Six competition.
No. 1 Alabama whipped Kentucky (3-5) 63-3 to move to 7-0.
6 Florida, after a slow start, rolled over Vanderbilt (0-7) 38-17, as Kyle Trask threw for three more touchdowns, giving him 31 on the season in seven games, the Gators now 6-1 and headed towards an SEC Championship showdown, and CFP berth, against ‘Bama.
In a huge Big Ten tussle, 9 Indiana was down 35-7 to 3 Ohio State, but Michael Penix Jr. heroically led the Hoosiers back, throwing for 491 yards and five touchdowns, Indiana down 42-35 with 10:26 left, but that’s where it ended, the Buckeyes 4-0, IU 4-1.
Indiana proved they are for real, a bonafide top ten, as wide receiver Ty Fryfogle had his second-consecutive 200-yard effort, 7 catches for 218 and three TDs, after an 11-200-2 game against Michigan State the week before. And Penix continues to evolve into a true star of the college game.
But Ohio State did not look like a No. 3, and any outside shot Justin Fields had at a Heisman went out the window as he basically sucked, three interceptions, bailed out by receiver Garrett Wilson (7-169-2) and the running of Master Teague III (26-169-2).
And then we had 19 Northwestern (5-0) upset 10 Wisconsin (2-1) 17-7, the Badgers committing five turnovers!
So suddenly we are seemingly headed to an Ohio State-Northwestern Big Ten championship game. Is that winner guaranteed a CFP bid? I’m not convinced after Ohio State’s performance this weekend.
7 Cincinnati (8-0) held on to defeat a tough UCF (5-3) team on the road, 36-33, as Desmond Ridder, one of the more unusual quarterbacks in the land, passed for two scores and rushed for another two. The guy is rail thin, looks more like a gangly high school QB than a top college one, but he’s getting it done, and in this case the Cincy ‘O’ overcame a sub-par performance by the vaunted Bearcats ‘D’.
8 BYU is now 9-0 after a 66-14 win over North Alabama (0-4), Zach Wilson throwing for four touchdowns on just 16 attempts, Tyler Allgeier with another outstanding game on the ground, 13 carries for 141 yards and two scores.
But it was Northern Alabama, hardly a game that moves the needle for the Cougars and the CFP.
That said, I’ll have more to say on BYU’s legitimate CFP hopes, ditto Cincinnati’s, down below.
In a biggie, 15 Coastal Carolina is 8-0 after defeating a very solid Appalachian State (6-2) team 34-23. The story of the game was the Chanticleer’s defense, led by defensive tackle C.J. Brewer’s 14 tackles, 3 for a loss, and D’Jordan Strong’s two interceptions, one returned for the clinching touchdown late.
For the Apps, senior quarterback Zac Thomas, who entered the year as one of the better QBs in the land, was horrid, throwing three interceptions, giving him eight on the season. The announcers had it right…it was something as simple as his footwork as he airmailed one pass after another. It’s an intriguing game for Thomas if you’re an NFL scout. He came up very small in a big game, but his entire body of work is still substantial.
Coastal Carolina’s outside Group of Five, New Year’s Six hopes, however, were dealt a blow when North Carolina State (6-3) eked out a 15-14 win over 21 Liberty (8-1). Liberty plays the Chanticleers Dec. 5 and had they both entered that one undefeated, it would have had to give some on the CFP Selection Committee pause.
In the Pac-12, 11 Oregon (3-0) defeated UCLA (1-2) and old coach Chip Kelly, 38-35, in less-than-impressive fashion, the Ducks’ defense turning over the Bruins four times, which led to 28 points. There’s your ballgame.
20 USC is 3-0 after a 33-17 win over Utah (0-1)…yes, the Utes’ first contest due to Covid issues.
So you hope Oregon and USC are headed to a faceoff in the Pac-12 title game, but neither has looked super in their first three, nor will they have played enough games by the time the season has run its course, ergo, if I’m the CFP, the Pac-12 is not in consideration for a final four berth.
Which would be unfortunate, because it’s all about the cheerleaders.
One other game involving the top 25. What a freakin’ contest, 25 Tulsa (5-1) over Tulane (5-5) 30-24 on one crazy play after another, Tulsa tying it at the end of regulation, 21-21, on a Hail Mary pass as time expired, and then Zaven Collins with a 96-yard interception return for a TD in overtime to win it for the Golden Hurricane.
Two other games…Penn State is 0-5 for the first time ever after a 41-21 loss to Iowa (3-2), while Rutgers fans have cause to be frustrated. They had a chance to defeat Michigan, but lost 48-42 in three overtimes in Piscataway, the Wolverines 2-3, the Scarlet Knights 1-4.
Rutgers is much better under coach Greg Schiano, but you’re still judged by wins and losses and Rutgers should be 3-2 on the season.
And now the new AP Poll! For the second straight week, no change in the top eight.
1. Alabama (62) 7-0
2. Notre Dame 8-0
3. Ohio State 4-0
4. Clemson 7-1
5. Texas A&M 5-1
6. Florida 6-1
7. Cincinnati 8-0
8. BYU 9-0
9. Oregon 3-0…quack quack…
10. Miami 7-1
11. Northwestern 5-0…up 8
12. Indiana 4-1
16. Coastal Carolina 8-0
17. Marshall 7-0
19. USC 3-0
23. Louisiana 7-1
24. Tulsa 5-1
25. North Carolina 6-2…host Notre Dame Friday
Well after seeing the above, I’ll reserve further CFP comments until after the first rankings on Tuesday.
--As for the postponement of Clemson at Florida State, part of you wants to say this game should have taken place, but you really have to ‘wait 24 hours,’ as I like to say, or a few days longer to see how things unfold.
ACC protocols state teams must be tested the day before competition, so both FSU and Clemson were tested Friday as Clemson headed for Tallahassee.
But then Clemson didn’t get word until late Friday night that an offensive lineman had tested positive and the players were told at breakfast Saturday morning.
This meant, though, that a positive player had flown with the team to Tallahassee. The player was immediately isolated and Clemson arranged for him to travel back to Clemson separately. Clemson then informed Florida State of the positive test.
Saturday morning, the two schools and their teams of doctors talked it over. Clemson was comfortable playing, feeling like it had followed all the proper protocols, such as wearing N95 face masks and face shields on the plane, while adding there hasn’t been any evidence of Covid spread or transmission during games thus far.
But FSU’s medical advisers felt there was risk involved in playing the game because the positive player traveled with the team. Florida State wanted to side with caution and couldn’t sign off on the game.
Whether the game is rescheduled for December depends on whether Clemson needs to play it in order to get into the ACC championship game.
--Wake Forest’s athletics department does not disclose statistics about positive Covid cases among its athletes or staff, while the ACC says football teams must have at least 53 players available to play, including minimum numbers for certain position groups.
Yet Wake has 85 players on scholarships but, because of Covid and injuries, had fewer players than the required numbers to play this week, thus the cancellation.
Wake’s future schedule is now up in the air.
The university itself was doing a good job managing the coronavirus on campus through October, but there is little doubt cases then spiked after Halloween events and general community spread.
What I didn’t know when I told you of Wake’s loss in the ACC men’s soccer championship the other day is that the team was missing 11 players, including five starters! No wonder we lost 2-0 to Virginia in a quarterfinal when we were the No. 2 ranked team in the country.
--Sam Darnold missed his fourth game of the season with a shoulder sprain, and with just six games left after today, there’s no telling when he’ll be back, or if he should come back.
So veteran Joe Flacco was at the helm again, and he can still throw the deep ball, but the Jets lost to the Chargers 34-28. We’re now 0-10, praise the Lord. #TrevorLawrence.
And Summit’s Michael Badgley was perfect for L.A. …4-4 XPs, 2-2 FGs. At the end of the day….
--New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has eight fractured ribs on his left side and three on the right, more than double first thought, but he is hopeful he will be ready to play as soon as he’s eligible in Week 14 and can do so without further risk of reinjury.
It’s the first time the 41-year-old Brees has been placed on the IR, and this week’s missed game against the Falcons was just the seventh of his career because of injury.
So Taysom Hill made the first start of his NFL career and he was superb…18/23, 233…plus two touchdowns rushing as New Orleans improved to 8-2, 24-9 over Atlanta, Matt Ryan sacked eight times.
--Andy Dalton thought he was about to be cleared following a concussion, and then he contracted the coronavirus. Dalton said he was preparing to play again, but only after what he described Thursday as “a crazy three weeks for me.”
“I’m glad to be on the other side of it,” Dalton told reporters during a virtual media session.
Dalton said Covid hit him hard the first day that he had it, and then he gradually started feeling better, though he took a while before he lost his senses of taste and smell, which haven’t returned yet. His wife and one of this three children also contracted Covid but Dalton said, “Everybody is good now.”
And Andy did return and was good today, throwing three touchdown passes, the Cowboys improving to 3-7 and still very much in the NFC East hunt, 31-28 victors over Minnesota (4-6).
--The Browns are 7-3 after a 22-17 win over the Eagles (3-6-1), benefiting the rest of the NFC Least, Philly’s Carson “Senor Wences” throwing two picks in totally miserable conditions.
--Pittsburgh remains perfect, 10-0, after a 27-3 win over Jacksonville (1-9). The Jags’ “You’re Never Gonna Do It Without The” Luton threw four interceptions, two each by Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmonds.
--Tennessee is now 7-3 after beating Baltimore (6-4) 30-24, as Derrick Henry rumbled for 133 yards. The thing is, as I’ve been noting for weeks, the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson was mediocre once again…hardly an MVP.
--Houston is 3-7 after officially putting New England (4-6) to sleep in terms of its playoff hopes, 27-20. Pretty simple story line…Deshaun Watson outplayed Cam Newton.
--In an important contest with definite playoff implications, Philip Rivers and the Colts (7-3) beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (7-3) 34-31 in overtime.
--Denver (4-6) popped Miami’s bubble 20-13, the Dolphins falling to 6-4, Tua benched for Fitzmagic, who didn’t have it, despite channeling the late-Amazing Randi, who kept telling him, ‘You can’t fake it, dude.’
--The Bengals, in a 20-9 loss to Washington, may have lost super rookie Joe Burrow to a serius leg injury.
--The Giants had a bye week and it made for a convenient time to fire offensive line coach Marc Colombo following a nasty exchange he had with head coach Joe Judge.
When Colombo was told of a plan by Judge to hire a consultant, Dave DeGuglielmo, it did not go down well with Colombo, who obviously felt he was being undermined.
--We note the passing of Jake Scott, an All-Pro safety on the Miami Dolphins’ championship teams and MVP of the Super Bowl that capped the 17-0 season in 1972. Scott, 75, died after injuries to his head in a fall about a week ago.
Scott, #13 long before Dan Marino wore it, earned Pro Bowl honors five consecutive seasons and made two interceptions in the 14-7 victory against the Redskins in Super Bowl VII to complete The Perfect Season.
Scott then had two fumble recoveries in the next Super Bowl, a 24-7 win over the Vikings.
Scott arrived in Miami as a seventh-round draft pick out of Georgia. He had a fallout with coach Don Shula and was traded to Washington in 1976, and it wasn’t until 2010 that the two patched things up, Scott refusing to participate in Dolphins alumni activities all those decades.
Scott and Dick Anderson formed the greatest safety tandem in Dolphins history. Anderson was the league’s defensive player of the year in 1973. Scott had 35 interceptions in 84 games for the Dolphins, still the all-time team leader in that category, one more than Anderson.
But Scott was at his best in the biggest games, recording seven takeaways in 11 playoff games.
--This was a less-than-exciting draft class, to say the least, but for the record:
1. Anthony Edwards, Georgia, MIN
2. James Wiseman, Memphis, GSW
3. LaMelo Ball, Australia, CHO
4. Patrick Williams, Florida State, CHI
5. Isaac Okoro, Auburn, CLE
6. Onyeka Okongwu, USC, ATL
7. Killian Hayes, France, DET
8. Obi Toppin, Dayton, NYK
9. Deni Avdija, Israel, WAS
10. Jalen Smith, Maryland, PHO
15. Cole Anthony, UNC, ORL
Us Knicks fans are thrilled with Obi Toppin, who fell into our laps, the Naismith College Player of the Year after averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds for Dayton.
And then we got a potential steal in Immanuel Quickley, a shooting guard from Kentucky, at No. 25, after a series of maneuvers, picks flying all over the place.
But the draft was overshadowed by news on Wednesday that the Warriors’ Klay Thompson sustained a torn right Achilles tendon in a workout in Southern California, after Thompson missed all of last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in the 2019 NBA finals.
Thompson, a 5-time All-Star, was a key cog in the Warriors’ three titles and now, turning 31 in February, you can’t help but wonder if he’ll ever be a force again.
Ben Cohen / Wall Street Journal
“The injury is a disruptive event for the entire league, a crushing blow to the Warriors and a brutal setback for Thompson, who is 30 years old, coming off a long rehab process and will likely go more than two calendar years without playing in an NBA game. It threatens to spoil another year of (Stephen) Curry’s prime, slam the championship window of Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green and shutter a team that transformed the sport.
“But it’s also a bummer for anyone who delights in the admirable game, torrid shooting and goofy charm of Klay Thompson – which is just about everyone in basketball….
“The NBA is coming off a season when its television ratings tanked for a variety of reasons, including the pandemic, politics and people’s behavioral habits, but there was one more factor in its plummeting appeal: The Warriors disappeared.
“The Warriors became the league’s marquee draw as they went to five consecutive Finals between 2015 and 2019 and played a magical style of basketball with superstars who were instantly recognizable to casual fans. They were irresistible at the height of their run. As they then went from the NBA’s best team to its worst, they also went from must-see to mostly unwatchable.
“The Warriors will still be good this season because they still have Curry, but Curry without Thompson is like peanut butter without jelly. Curry is the greatest shooter in NBA history. Thompson might be next on the list. He doesn’t need the ball to be effective – Thompson once scored 60 points on 11 dribbles – and he’s a lockdown defender on the other side of the court. Curry won’t be the same without his backcourt partner.
“Neither will their team – or the rest of the NBA.”
--I’m not going to begin to chronicle every free agent signing, primarily because I don’t care, but the contract free agent Gordon Hayward signed with the Charlotte Hornets, four years, $120 million, is beyond absurd. The Knicks were interested in him, ditto others, but not at that money.
After Hayward’s gruesome foot and ankle injury in 2017 just six minutes into the regular season with the Celtics, having signed a four-year, $127.8 million contract with them, he struggled in 2018-19, his first full season back, but then averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season for Boston in 52 games.
But he’s a shell of his former self, turns 31 in March, and this is just stupid.
--Those of us who saw Fred VanVleet play at Wichita State thought he would be a solid NBA player and worthy of being drafted, but he wasn’t.
Well VanVleet gets the last laugh as he just agreed to a four-year, $85 million deal to re-sign with Toronto, the largest contract in NBA history for an undrafted player.
My Tottenham Spurs had a signature win, 2-0 over Manchester City on Saturday. Chelsea beat Newcastle 2-0. Dr. Whit and I thus placed a massive bet on our respective teams for the season.
Today, Liverpool whipped Leicester City 3-0, my brother puffing out his chest, after also catching two large bass in the pond in his backyard.
I opted for takeout veal parm from The Italian Village in Summit, but I digress.
So the standings…9 of 38 played…ties settled by goal differential…
1. Tottenham 9 – 20
2. Liverpool 9 – 20
3. Chelsea 9 – 18
4. Leicester 9 – 18
At the RSM Classic at St. Simon’s Island, GA, Robert Streb picked up his second tour win in a playoff with Kevin Kisner; Streb the first two-time winner of the event…ergo, do the math, his only two wins are here.
Give this quiz to the kids you are home-schooling.
“Bobby, if Robert Streb has two wins in his career, and he also has two wins at the RSM Classic, what does this mean?”
“He has four wins?”
Mom then reaches for the wine bottle and sends Bobby outside to freeze to death.
--We talk about how tough it is to maintain a professional or college schedule amidst a pandemic, but try the FIS World Cup ski season. In Levi, Finland, this weekend, Mikaela Shiffrin made her return to competition after being out 10 months following the sudden death of her father, Jeff, and in her first race, the slalom, Shiffrin finished second to her rival, Petra Vlhova.
Then they had a second slalom today, Sunday, and Vlhova won another, Shiffrin fifth…which isn’t bad, it’s just not Shiffrin-like.
Shiffrin and Vhlova have now won the last 28 slaloms on the women’s circuit, going back to January 2017.
Today, Shiffrin missed her first podium in a slalom since failing to finish an event in Switzerland in Jan. 2018.
No surprise Shiffrin had trouble “figuring out how to manage her energy levels” a day after her comeback to racing after 300 days away, the U.S. ski team said after.
But we’re talking trying to conduct a World Cup season largely in Europe, with the coronavirus just washing through the continent at a sickening pace, and I don’t know how they’ll get it done, hopscotching from one hot spot to another (Finland is seeing record cases daily itself).
So Team Sweden had to go into quarantine and missed both races this weekend after one of its coaches tested positive upon arrival in Levi, though other coaches and all eight skiers on the team were negative.
Back to Shiffrin, she is second all-time in World Cup wins with 66, Lindsey Vonn being first at 82.
--Robinson Cano has had a very good major-league career, an eight-time All-Star, 2-time Gold Glove winner at second, 2,624 hits, 1,302 RBIs, a .303 career batting average, but an 81-game suspension for using steroids.
Still, you could see over time his Hall of Fame candidacy gaining traction, perhaps.
Well not now, as he was suspended a full season, 162 games, for his second offense. As the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner put it, this “turns his career into a farce.”
“He will be one of those guys you will think of, years from now, and shrug: He could really hit. I guess.”
But while my Mets are still on the hook for $24 million each of 2022 and 2023, they aren’t for 2021, and that opens a spot for free agent D.J. LeMahieu, who just led the majors in hitting, at .364, and has been a star with the Yankees.
We now wait to see what our dear Uncle Stevie will do, presented even more leverage to go after the likes of Trevor Bauer and George Springer. [I still like James McCann more than J.T. Realmuto at catcher.]
--I didn’t have a chance last time to note the NCAA’s new Graduation Success Rate report and 90% of Division I athletes who enrolled in 2013 earned a degree within six years, a record.
The federal report shows 69% of all students earn degrees within six years, though that does not count students who enroll at one school and graduate from another.
Men’s basketball players had a 4-point jump since the last report to 87%. The percentage of women’s hoops players earning degrees is 93%.
The number of Black basketball players also improved, from 79% to 85% on the men’s side and from 87% to 90% among women. 92% of white men players earn their degree.
Football Championship Subdivision teams hit 80% for the first time.
--The South China Morning Post’s Shanna McGoldrick had a piece I did a doubletake on…Nick Butter, from Britain, had run a marathon in every country – 8,256km (5,130 miles) in 674 days.
Butter, 31, a former banker, was inspired while running the grueling Marathon des Sables, a 251km (155 miles) race through the Sahara Desert, by a fellow Brit he was sharing a tent with, Kevin Webber, who was 18 months into a terminal prostate cancer diagnosis; doctors giving him two years to live.
A conversation they had changed Butter’s life and he decided to quit his job, sell his possessions and run a marathon in every single country, raising money for Prostate Cancer UK in honor of Webber.
“In January 2018, Butter set off on an epic journey that would see him run through war zones, deserts and multiple bouts of food poisoning. He was mugged in Lagos in Nigeria, attacked by dogs in Tunisia, and suffered a mini heart attack in Samoa. His hardest race was in Bangladesh where, fresh from several consecutive bouts of food poisoning, he developed a kidney infection and vomited every mile of the route. [Ed. Kind of like my Black Bean Soup Marathon in Kiawah, 1999.]
“The schedule was punishingly tight, but it made for some memorable moments, such as running up Hong Kong’s hills during a dramatic lightning storm. ‘There was nobody out – the streets were completely empty because it was so stormy,’ he says. ‘It was just constant lighting. It’s a video I actually show quite a lot when I do my talks with school kids because it’s amazing.’
“There were awe-inspiring highlights, including running past whales breaching off the South African coast and sprinting around an erupting volcano in Guatemala. He often found himself jogging alongside curious children and local supporters. ‘There were so many incredible moments,’ he says. ‘The best moments always came with the best people.’”
Butter just wrote a book on his experiences, “Running the World.”
His friend, Kevin Webber, has defied the odds and six years since his diagnosis, he’s completing ultra-marathons. Webber was present for Butter’s finale, the Athens Marathon in Greece. In November last year they crossed the finish line together. It was, Butter says, a ‘euphoric feeling,’ followed by something of a comedown.
“There was an element of sadness because I was travelling around the world for two years doing three marathons in three different countries every week – and then all of a sudden it stopped,” he says. “Hence, I suppose, why I’m still running now, to try and fill that void.”
Butter lives in a van with his girlfriend and his dog and they travel around exploring different places. He doesn’t drink alcohol or coffee, opting for green tea, and rises at 6 a.m. to run.
Since I drink beer and coffee, I’ll never be Nick Butter, though I am drinking green tea as I write this.
--A man was killed by a shark Saturday off a popular beach in Western Australia. The attack happened near Cable Beach in the north of the state. The man was pulled from the water but was later pronounced dead.
It is the eighth fatal shark attack in Australian waters this year, which is indeed a lot.
A search for the shark was under way, but its species is not yet known.
Overall, there have been 22 shark maulings in 2020, according to the Taronga Conservation Society Australia, a government agency.
The Cable Beach area is known for reef sharks and shovel-nosed rays, and hammerheads, a local business owner there told Australian broadcaster ABC.
--Vermont’s ski season is teetering on the brink due to new coronavirus quarantine restrictions. The New York Times’ Biddle Duke had an extensive piece on the economic damage and it really sucks. Skiers from out of state, especially from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, where Vermont derives much of its revenue, either have to commit to a 14-day quarantine (at home or in state), or a quarantine of seven days followed by a negative Covid test.
Vermont isn’t stricter than any other state in the Northeast dealing with the surge, it’s just the relative impact is far greater, with winter ski-season visitors spending more than $1.6 billion a year, according to the Vermont Ski Areas Association.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/25/72: #1 “I Can See Clearly Now” (Johnny Nash) #2 “I’d Love You To Want Me” (Lobo) #3 “I’ll Be Around” (The Spinners)…and…#4 “I Am Woman” (Helen Reddy) #5 “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” (The Temptations) #6 “Summer Breeze” (Seals & Crofts) #7 “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” (Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes)” #8 “You Ought To Be With Me” (Al Green) #9 “Nights In White Satin” (The Moody Blues) #10 “If I Could Reach You” (The 5th Dimension…B week…)
NFL Quiz Answers: 1) Josh Cribbs (2005-2014) and Leon Washington (2006-2014) are the only two aside from Cordarrelle Patterson to have eight kickoff returns for a touchdown. 2) The first three to six were Ollie Matson (1952-66), Gale Sayers (1965-71) and Travis Williams (1967-71).
Hall of Famer Matson actually had his six while with the Chicago Cardinals (1952-58). Sayers had his six in his first three years with the Bears. Travis Williams had four his first year with Green Bay, when he averaged 41.1 per on 18 returns for the season.
Williams went on to star in my electric football games……RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
*Dante Hall (2000-2008) and Mel Gray (1986-1997) each had six KRs for TDs in their careers.
Next Bar Chat, Monday, Nov. 30…except for the add-on late Tuesday night following the CFP Selection Show.