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[Posted Sun. p.m.]
NCAA Men’s Division I Track and Field Championship Quiz: This event was first run in 1921 and has been held every year except 1924, until the pandemic. 1) Name the five teams/schools who have appeared 75 times or more. 2) Name the four with 7 or more titles. Answers below.
Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity
So I have to admit, I didn’t realize they started closer to 4:00 than 3:00 because of the weather, as right away we’re all thinking they are going to be scrambling to finish this in daylight. And sure enough it was a scramble.
But while the competition started out slow, thanks to Peyton Manning’s, Phil’s and Charles Barkley’s commentary, along with some of the tweets from outside, it was good fun.
And all of America had a chance to see that Tom Brady sucked at golf…just a horrible first six holes, playing like a 24-handicapper, not the ‘8’ we were told he was.
At the par-3 fourth, Barkley offered $50,000 for charity if Brady could put it on the green and after missing miserably, Barkley said, “I should have just said if you can keep it on the planet.”
But then out of nowhere, Brady holed his fourth on the par-5 seventh from the fairway.
I then switched back and forth between the golf, news and the start of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race from Charlotte, knowing this last one would be delayed by rain (though I had my DraftKings lineup to follow), and play advanced, darkness setting in, but Peyton hit a superb tee shot on the par-3 16th to just 17 inches, only to have Phil convert his 6-foot birdie putt to halve the hole.
It came down to No. 18, Phil and Brady 1-down. Tiger and Peyton closed them out.
Very entertaining, a good diversion. And they raised $20 million for Covid-19 Relief.
But like every golf fan, I’m ready for real action and in just two weeks, the PGA Tour starts up again from Fort Worth! Hallelujah.
[I do wish the four golfers had stayed a little further apart from each other. We don’t need a story two weeks from now that one of them tested positive.]
Sports Opening Up
The NHL Players’ Assn approved the general concept of the league’s proposal to resume play and complete the 2019-20 season, saying Friday it will continue talks regarding key points of the return-to-play plan.
Specifically, the Players’ Association has authorized further negotiations with the league on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup, the union said.
The NHL’s proposal called for scrapping the rest of the regular season and starting postseason play with 24 teams grouped in two “hub” cities. The top four teams in each conference, as determined by points percentage, would play a round-robin series against one another that could affect their seeding; the other eight teams would play a best-of-five series to determine who would advance and face the top four teams. Every series after the first round would be best-of-seven. No spectators would be allowed, at least initially.
But there were no dates established for when training camp and games would begin, and any protocols for Covid-19 testing.
The hope, however, is to start the playoffs in mid-July and the Cup would be awarded in September.
Also yet to be determined is which cities will be selected as hubs. Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Las Vegas, St. Paul, Minn., and Columbus, Ohio, are considered top contenders.
About 15% of the regular-season schedule remained when the NHL paused action March 12. With a considerable amount of TV revenue at stake, Bettman has said he’s determined to finish the season and award the Cup even if that means delaying the launch of the 2020-21 season.
Meanwhile, the NBA is closing in on a deal with Walt Disney Co. to have Disney World as the sole site for the NBA’s fan-less resumption to the season, likely in late July.
The venue would be ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex that houses several courts inside the Milkhouse Gym, which was a prior site of the NBA Draft Combine.
There had been talk of having Las Vegas as a site for the Western Conference and Orlando for the Eastern Conference, but now it seems the two sides are coalescing around Orlando, which has been one of the least affected Covid-19 areas in Florida.
But there are still a lot of details to be worked out, like whether there are just 16 playoff teams or 22 teams for a play-in tournament.
As for Major League Baseball, I grow weary.
Former Mets pitcher and current broadcaster, Ron Darling, in an interview with the New York Post’s Steve Serby, had some of the following thoughts on whether baseball can pull off a season.
“Put all the sports in there. I think it’s very difficult. Baseball is unique, that it’s every single day. It’s different from some of the other sports, of course. Can they pull it off? Yes. Do I think they’re gonna pull it off? Absolutely. Do I think it’s the right idea? Not sure about that. But if you had to ask me: Are they gonna find a way to get the games and play these games? I would say I think they’re gonna do it.”
Darling is convinced the economics will be worked out between the owners and the players.
Q: Totally hypothetical: Game 6 of the ’86 World Series, do you think your Mets would have been able to stage the 10th-inning miracle comeback without fans in the stands?
“Well, I’ll put it this way: The late, great Gary Carter, when asked what he was thinking when he went up with two outs, and he said: ‘I did not want to make the last out in front of the New York fans.’ And I’ll never forget that. So, I would say no, we probably wouldn’t have pulled it out, because it was Gary that needed to start it, and he did it because he did not want to make an out in front of the 55,000 fans in Shea Stadium that night. Fans are so important.”
As for the universal DH:
“I think 2019 will go down in history as the last year that the National League pitchers will hit. I think after the experiment with the DH this summer, if the games are played, that the universal DH will be here forever.”
In the future one fan-friendly idea he would like to see is true doubleheaders, with a day off the next day. And, “I think seven innings for doubleheader games is perfect.”
Meanwhile, in terms of the negotiations of how much the players will be paid in a truncated season without fans, the New York Post’s Steve Serby obtained a smoking gun March 26 email from an MLB lawyer to top league officials that documents the substance of talks between two MLB officials and two MLBPA officials from earlier that morning. The email covers seven points, including that MLB explained to the union officials that MLB would need a second negotiation if games were not played in front of fans to determine pay and claims that union officials understood that concept.
Thus, the email offers evidence the union was aware further talks were potentially necessary.
The players and representatives such as agent Scott Boras have been publicly stating the matter of salary already has been determined for a 2020 restart and no further negotiations need be held.
But the email from MLB senior vice president of labor relations and deputy general counsel Patrick Houlihan suggests otherwise…that representatives for the players were reminded that “playing in empty stadiums did not work for us economically. But I said, for example, that we might be willing to have a conversation about playing some limited number of games in empty stadiums if players agreed to reduce their daily salaries for those games, and if it was part of a larger plan that made economic sense. Matt (Nussbaum, deputy general counsel for the Players Association) confirmed that that is what he thought we meant, but appreciated the confirmation.”
The two sides are at loggerheads, with the clock ticking away.
Lastly, we have the issue of College Football. The Southeastern Conference said its schools will be able to bring football and basketball players back to campus for voluntary activities starting June 8 at the discretion of each university.
The SEC’s announcement Friday is the latest sign that a college football season will be launched in some form this fall. The move comes after the NCAA Division I Council voted to lift a moratorium on voluntary workouts on campus by football and basketball players, effective June 1.
The other conferences are expected to follow suit.
But as Laine Higgins and Louise Radnofsky of the Wall Street Journal point out:
“The most intense event in college athletics right now is a game of chicken among conferences, universities and state officials over whether they will reopen campus in the fall – and therefore unlock the ability to begin a football season.
“It’s a game that is playing out in wildly different ways across the country, suggesting that a chaotic runup to the 2020 season is ahead. Football programs, which generate big money and please boosters, are trying to charge ahead. But the decisions rest not with athletic directors, but university presidents and their bosses – the governor of each state. None of the game’s organizing bodies – the NCAA and big conferences – has the power to dictate a consistent outcome. No one wants to be responsible for stopping the season.”
Take the Pac-12. Commissioner Larry Scott maintains the conference’s football season “will start on time and play in full.”
Yet public officials in California and Oregon, where half of the league’s teams are located, have signaled they may not allow students to return to campus this fall. And if they don’t, there’s no football…at least until later.
The ACC, whose teams stretch from Massachusetts to Florida, might go ahead even if only some schools participate. “I don’t think some schools not being able to compete necessarily keeps a majority of the schools that could compete from competing,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford.
Duke, for one, has said it will decide in June whether it will open up campus.
Most of the schools in the SEC and Big 12 are barreling ahead and preparing to play. But the Big Ten and ACC have big question marks, and you have the above issues with the Pac-12.
Lastly, I’ve mentioned the topic countless times, but Patrick Rishe of the University of Washington in St. Louis, in a report commissioned by ESPN, provides further evidence that the cancellation of the 2020 college football season could cost the Power 5 schools more than $4 billion in football revenues, with at least $1.2 billion of that due to lost ticket revenue. Each Power 5 school would see at least an average loss of $62 million in football revenue, including at least $18.6 million in ticket sales.
And that loss trickles down throughout a school’s entire athletic department. Colleges are already eliminating some of their minor sports and Dr. W., who hails from South Carolina, told me the other day that D-II schools in his state are closing programs left and right for economic reasons other than football. It’s sad. The university landscape is changing forever and many college towns are going to suffer. Lots of jobs impacted.
--We note the passing of two Hall of Fame coaches, Eddie Sutton and Jerry Sloan.
Sutton, 84, took three teams – Arkansas (1978) and Oklahoma State (1995, 2004) – to the Final Four, as well as guiding two others, Creighton and Kentucky, to the Big Dance.
Over 37 seasons, Sutton was 806-326. He was a two-time Associated Press National Coach of the Year (1978, 1986).
Sutton was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2020, joining legends such as Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett.
As for Jerry Sloan, he died at the age of 78 due to complications related to Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Sloan took the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls both seasons.
In all, the Hall of Famer spent 23 seasons coaching Utah, with John Stockton and Karl Malone leading the way in many of them, and finished below .500 in only one of those years.
Overall, Sloan was 1,221-803, .603, including his first coaching stint in Chicago, taking Utah to the playoffs in 19 of the 23 seasons, including the first 15 in a row. The 1,221 wins ranks fourth all time, trailing only Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson and Gregg Popovich. Incredibly, he was never named NBA Coach of the Year.
Popovich lauded Sloan as “genuine and true.”
“And that is rare,” Popovich said. “He was a mentor for me from afar until I got to know him. A man who suffered no fools, he possessed a humor, often disguised, and had a heart as big as the prairie.”
Don Nelson said, “I think Jerry may have been the most competitive guy I ever coached against. But when the game was over, it was over. I remember talking to him when he was getting ready to retire. He was looking forward to going back to his farm. He loved driving the fields on his tractor.”
Karl Malone said in a 2000 New York Times interview: “He wants you to come, work hard, do what he tells you to do. I won’t play for another coach. Me and him clash every now and then, but it’s one of those things in the end where I want what he wants – to win. And he realizes that.”
Sloan entered the Hall of Fame in 2009.
“I’m not into numbers and stuff like that,” Sloan said when he passed Pat Riley for No. 3 on the NBA’s all-time win list; Popovich has since surpassed him for that spot. “I never have been. I’ve got a great organization to work for that’s given me an opportunity to stay there for a long time. I’m very thankful for that and the coaches that I have with me. It’s not about me.”
Sloan spent 34 years in all in the Jazz organization, as head coach, assistant, scout or senior adviser.
Sloan’s longevity was remarkable. During his time in Utah, there were 245 coaching changes around the league and five teams – Charlotte, Memphis, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota – did not even exist when he took the helm in Utah.
Sloan also had a very solid playing career in the NBA over 11 seasons, 1965-76, the last ten with Chicago after a rookie year in Baltimore. The 6’ 5” small forward/shooting guard averaged 14.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists for his career. He was a two-time All-Star and six-time All-Defensive team.
Jerry Sloan was selected by the Baltimore Bullets in the first round of the 1965 NBA draft out of Evansville College of Indiana (now the University of Evansville), leading his team to the NCAA small-college division championships in 1964 and ’65, now known as Division II.
--NBA Hall of Famer and current Georgetown basketball coach Patrick Ewing, tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized in Washington, D.C. Per a statement from the school’s athletic department:
“I want to share that I have tested positive for Covid-19,” Ewing said. “This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly. I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.”
Ewing, 57, emphasized that he’ll be OK, and he is the only member of the program to contract the novel coronavirus.
His condition was not said to be serious.
But the diagnosis does come days after the NCAA lifted its moratorium on workouts, allowing voluntary on-campus activities to resume on June 1.
--The Jets made a solid move in signing former Ravens and Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco to a one year contract to backup Sam Darnold.
Flacco is recovering from neck surgery in early April and has gotten good progress reports in his rehab, according to his agent. He is expected to get clearance for non-contact drills in early August and then full clearance sometime in September. Flacco is already throwing.
So should Darnold go down as he did last season, unlike the disaster that followed with those replacing him, New York has a guy who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl win in 2012. Flacco has started 171 regular-season games and has a record of 98-73. He also has a 10-5 record in the playoffs with 25 TD passes and just 10 interceptions.
--What a great race we had Wednesday night back at Darlington. Granted, the race was moved up due to pending weather, then delayed, and eventually shortened due to the rain, but you couldn’t have asked for a more entertaining finish.
Denny Hamlin, the Daytona 500 winner, picked up his 39th career win, the race shortened by 20 laps due to the weather, but he got unintended help from teammate Kyle Busch. The reigning Cup champion caused Chase Elliott to crash eight laps earlier to bring out a caution, allowing Hamlin to get fresh tires which he needed.
However, Busch, trying to squeeze into a space that didn’t exist on the track, knocked out Elliott, who had a great shot at the win; Elliott then waiting for Busch on the apron of the track, giving Busch the middle finger as he passed. As NASCAR then cleaned the track, it started to rain again, and the cars were called to pit road under the red flag.
As the drivers sat in their cars waiting for NASCAR to declare the race over, a handful of Elliott’s crew members sat on the pit wall staring down Busch.
When the race was called, Busch was then greeted by Alan Gustafson, Elliott’s crew chief and Busch’s former crew chief when he drove for Hendrick Motorsports, for a conversation between two masked competitors.
Busch immediately admitted he blew it.
“There’s no question I made a mistake and just misjudged the gap,” Busch said. “They’re upset. They’re mad. I’m not just going to fix it and we’re going to go have ice cream tomorrow. They’re going to dwell on it, and I’m sure there are repercussions of it I’m going to have down the road.”
Busch threw in some expletives in his discussion with Gustafson, all captured ‘live.’ Even a fox scampered across the track with the cars all on pit road.
Wednesday’s race, the first midweek Cup Series race since Independence Day 1984, averaged 2.09 million viewers on FS1, marking the network’s least-watched Cup race since Kansas in 2018. Sunday’s Darlington race, on the FOX broadcast network, drew 6.32 million according to Nielsen.
--Mike Trout’s 2009 rookie baseball card – an autographed Bowman Draft Chrome Red Refractor – sold Wednesday at Goldin Auctions for $900,000 tying the modern record for a sports card.
A LeBron James/Michael Jordan card with pieces of game-worn jerseys from both players, also sold for $900,000 in February.
The 2009 Trout card features the Los Angeles Angels outfielder’s first autograph in an MLB uniform and is one of only five in existence. A one-of-a-kind Trout Superfractor card fetched $400,000 in May 2018.
Brad K. told me to peruse the GoldinAuctions.com site to check out some of their spring auction prices and it’s staggering. Tons of Kobe Bryant memorabilia going for far more than you would have probably thought. Frankly, I don’t know how you can authenticate it all.
--The other day, May 20, specifically, I was looking at baseball-reference’s “top performers” for that day in history and there was Pinky Higgins (DET, 1940): 3-5, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 3 R.
So, needing to refresh my memory as to Higgins’ career, I forgot that Higgins had 1,075 RBIs overall, playing from 1930-46 (out ’45 due to military service) for the Philadelphia A’s, Boston Red Sox and Detroit, including back-to-back 106 RBI campaigns his two seasons in Boston, 1937-38.
The 3-time All-Star third baseman hit .292 for his career with 1,941 hits. He died too soon in 1969 at the age of 59.
So we toast Pinky Higgins, a damn good ballplayer, this Memorial Day weekend.
--On a sad note, there was the death of WWE star Shad Gaspard, who was swept out to sea by a riptide last weekend in Marina Del Rey Beach when he was swimming with his 10-year-old son.
The two were 50 yards offshore, according to reports, and Gaspard told lifeguards to save his son first. They were unable to get to the 6-foot-6, 270-pound athlete, who was overcome by a wave.
Gaspard’s body then washed up on Venice Beach early Wednesday. Just an awful tragedy.
--So I’m reading this book review in the Wall Street Journal by Gerard Helferich on a number of books on ‘bees’ and did you know “there are as many as 25,000 recognized bee species in the world – more than birds and mammals combined”?
“Most of these lesser-known bees don’t live in hives, many don’t sting and relatively few make honey. But since nearly all depend on flowering plants for their food, they have evolved into the most proficient pollinators on the planet.”
Bees actually evolved from wasps, “about 100 million years ago.”
So a few factoids:
“In a single day, a foraging honey bee may visit up to 2,000 flowers and collect half a gram of nectar. After partially digesting it in a specialized honey stomach, she passes the liquid to a house bee, who deposits it in one of the honeycomb’s empty cells. The house bees tend the honey, stirring it with their mouthparts and beating their wings to evaporate excess moisture. Finally, they cover the honey with an airtight wax cap until it is needed to feed the hive in winter. All told, a cache of 3.3 pounds of honey represents the work of about 12,000 bee-hours.”
Bees are responsible for pollinating about a third of the world’s food crops, but a recent study of about 1,500 species in North America and Hawaii found that almost a quarter of bee species are at risk from habitat destruction, pesticides, parasites, climate change and other threats.
Top 3 songs for the week 5/30/81: #1 “Bette Davis Eyes” (Kim Carnes…unbelievably, this beyond awful tune was #1 for nine weeks! Nine weeks! No wonder why at this time I was buying up every 60s group’s Greatest Hits album and cassette…) #2 “Being With You” (Smokey Robinson…eh…) #3 “Medley” (Stars on 45…makes you want to jump off a bridge…)…and…#4 “Sukiyaki” (A Taste Of Honey…whatever…) #5 “Take It On The Run” (REO Speedwagon…at least with this one you don’t want to blow your brains out..) #6 “Living Inside Myself” (Gino Vanelli…not bad…) #7 “Just The Two Of Us” (Grover Washington Jr. w/Bill Withers…decent…) #8 “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)” (Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio…this era really, really sucked…) #9 “Too Much Time On My Hands” (Styx…Walmart is hiring…) #10 “Watching The Wheels” (John Lennon…I’ll tell you what is so nuts…this very solid tune peaked at just #10 and freakin’ ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ was No. 1 for nine weeks!...I’ve had it…back to the 60s… ‘F’ week….)
NCAA Men’s Division I Track and Field Championship Quiz Answers: 1) Schools with 75 or more appearances…USC (85), Oregon (81), Cal (76), Texas (75), UCLA (75). 2) Seven or more titles…USC (26), Arkansas (10), UCLA (8), Oregon (7).
USC had two terrific runs, 1935-43 and 1949-55. Arkansas had an 8-year run, 1992-99.
By the way, the only ACC team to win a team title is Florida State, 2006 and 2008. They won in 2007 but then had the title stripped because one of the athletes was academically ineligible.
In fact, the ACC doesn’t have a school in the top 25 in appearances, which I find kind of shocking.
But then the conference gets all kinds of teams into the College World Series every year, yet has closed the deal only twice, Virginia and Wake Forest.
Which makes us ACC fans quickly change the subject to hoops and Clemson football!
***Next BC, Division I women’s golf and track quiz…Thursday, or sooner.
We remember those who gave their lives so we could live free.