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Jets Win! Drat!!!!
[Posted Sunday p.m., prior to Giants-Browns]
***I will be posting next Bar Chat on top of this one….late Tues./early Wed.***
NFL Quiz: Davante Adams (Green Bay) and Tyreek Hill (K.C.) are having outstanding seasons with 14 receiving touchdowns apiece and three games to go. 1) Who are the only two in NFL history with 20 or more? 2) No one has 19…who was the first (of two) to 18? [Hint: prior to 1990] 3) What two Hall of Famers had 17 in an 11/12-game schedule? Answers below.
College Football Review…and CFP Final Four
[Comments written prior to release of CFP Selection Committee’s rankings]
With Covid-19 cancelling a number of games, including, depressingly, the Sun Belt Conference Championship, 19 Louisiana (9-1) vs. 12 Coastal Carolina (11-0), and my Wake Forest Demon Deacons’ final contest against Florida State, the Seminoles claiming issues, thankfully the ACC, Big Ten and SEC conference title games went off so we could settle on a true final four.
In the Big 12 championship, No. 6 Iowa State (8-3) was exposed by 10 Oklahoma (8-2) 27-21. It was 24-7 at the half, Sooners, and the Cyclones cut it to 24-21 with 5:15 left but OU closed the deal. ISU’s Brock Purdy threw three interceptions, coming up small in the big one.
The officials didn’t help Iowa State out with some questionable calls that infuriated coach Matt Campbell.
In the Big Ten championship, 4 Ohio State (6-0) started off slowly, down 10-6 to 14 Northwestern (6-2), but then the Buckeyes just ran Trey Sermon into history behind an outstanding performance from the offensive line…Sermon, the Oklahoma graduate transfer who had played second fiddle much of this truncated season, having the greatest day for an Ohio State running back ever…29 carries for 331 yards and two touchdowns, OSU prevailing 22-10.
Northwestern quarterback Peyton Ramsey threw two interceptions, while Ohio State’s Justin Fields didn’t help his draft prospects with a poor 12/27, 114, 0-2 effort (though he’ll still be a high first-rounder).
--3 Clemson got its revenge on 2 Notre Dame in the ACC championship, handing the Fighting Irish (10-1) their first loss in decisive fashion, 34-10, as the Tigers (10-1) outgained ND 541-263, quite a comedown for the Irish from the first game, when they racked up 518 yards against a Clemson defense missing three starters, including middle linebacker James Skalsi, who was all over the place last night.
Trevor Lawrence played like the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft, throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 90 yards and another TD. Travis Etienne finally broke out with 124 yards on just 10 carries and a score.
Notre Dame looked like it was going to make a game of it early, but a missed short field goal and a dropped fourth-and-3 pass in Clemson territory gave the Tigers the momentum and they never let up.
1 Alabama (11-0) secured its top position in the CFP with a 52-46 win over 7 Florida (8-3) in the SEC championship, as ‘Bama’s three-headed monster had another huge game. Quarterback Mac Jones may have picked up the Heisman with a 33/43, 418, 5-1 performance, while running back Najee Harris was spectacular, 178 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, plus another 67 and three scores receiving. And DeVonta Smith caught 15 of Jones’ passes for 184 yards and two TDs.
For the Gators, Kyle Trask was solid, 26/40, 408, 3-0, finishing up a phenomenal season with 43 touchdown passes against just five interceptions. But the performance in the loss to LSU the week before cost him in the Heisman balloting, no doubt.
And in the AAC finale, 9 Cincinnati wrapped up an undefeated season, 9-0, with a 27-24 last-second win over 23 Tulsa (6-2), Cole Smith with the 34-yard field goal as time expired in miserable, rainy Cincinnati.
So the Bearcats secured the Group of Five, New Year’s Six bid.
In another contest with CFP implications, 5 Texas A&M ended the regular season 8-1 with a 34-13 win over Tennessee (3-7).
Friday night, 15 USC played itself out of a New Year’s Six bowl game, losing 31-24 to Oregon (4-2) in the Pac-12 title game, the Trojans’ Kedon Slovis with three interceptions, coming up small in the end, USC finishing 5-1 and then declining to play in a bowl game.
Oregon, which just isn’t good this year could end up in the Fiesta Bowl, where USC should be, but that would be a travesty.
In other games that ended the regular season, 24 San Jose State finished 7-0 after winning the Mountain West championship 34-20 over Boise State (5-2).
Army finished 9-2 and gained the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the third time in four years with a 10-7 win over Air Force, the Black Knights having beaten Navy 15-0 the week before.
Friday, Ball State (6-1) won its first MAC championship since 1996 with a 38-28 win against Buffalo, the Cardinals holding the Bulls’ Jaret Patterson to just 47 yards on 18 carries.
And Rutgers (3-6) had a poor ending to an otherwise promising first season in the Greg Schiano II Era, an awful 28-21 loss at home to Nebraska (3-5) and its beleaguered coach Scott Frost.
Nebraska outgained RU 620-252, as quarterback Adrian Martinez was 24/28, 255, 1-2 passing, but another 157 yards on the ground plus two scores…the Cornhuskers easily overcoming four turnovers.
Nonetheless, a season Rutgers will build on.
OK…so where does all of this leave us in terms of the CFP as we await the rankings and the Final Four.
1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Ohio State 4. ?
My heart tells me Cincinnati deserves the 4-slot and the right to get slaughtered by Alabama in one semi, which would allow Coastal Carolina to take the Group of Five, New Year’s slot.
But my gut says Notre Dame will retain a Final Four ranking. As for Texas A&M, you can’t beat an awful Vanderbilt team just 17-12, and then get blasted by Alabama 52-24, and be given a berth in the CFP, plus you’d have an A&M-‘Bama semifinal and that isn’t flying with anyone.
The Final AP poll was released prior to the CFP selection committee rankings
1. Alabama (62) 11-0
2. Clemson 10-1
3. Ohio State 6-0
4. Note Dame 10-1
5. Texas A&M 8-1
6. Cincinnati 9-0
7. Indiana 6-1
8. Oklahoma 8-2
9. Coastal Carolina 11-0
10. Florida 8-3
11. Georgia 7-2
12. Iowa State 8-3
13. BYU 10-1
14. North Carolina 8-3
15. Northwestern 6-2
16. Louisiana 9-1
19. San Jose State 7-0…up 6 in the AP
23. Liberty 9-1
So now let’s see what the CFP committee decided to do….
3. Ohio State
4. Notre Dame
5. Texas A&M
6. Oklahoma…booo…nothing against the Sooners, but, c’mon…it’s Cincinnati
Oh well, for the Bearcats it really doesn’t matter much if you aren’t top four.
8. Cincinnati…behind 3-loss Florida?
10. Iowa State
12. Coastal Carolina
13. North Carolina
22. San Jose State
As for some of the other bowl matchups, we do have some good ones.
Dec. 25…Marshall vs. Buffalo
Dec. 31…Ball State vs. San Jose State
Jan. 1…Cincinnati vs. Georgia
Jan. 2…Texas A&M vs. North Carolina
But Johnny Mac’s Coastal Carolina is getting Liberty, Dec. 26, when they should be playing an Indiana. Liberty, while 9-1, is unranked by the CFP…another travesty. Time to riot…bigly.
[Indiana is getting 4-4 Ole Miss?!]
Wake Forest, on the other hand, has a quality matchup Dec. 30 with Wisconsin.
Oh, what the hell…we’ll see some good football, but I’ll miss the USC cheerleaders (Steve G. will, too).
--In a major move, the CFP semifinal slated for the Rose Bowl, where, due to state coronavirus restrictions would have led to an empty stadium, not even players’ parents allowed in, necessitated the NCAA moving the game to Arlington, Texas, and AT&T Stadium. It was the right thing to do. And that’s where Alabama and Notre Dame will square off; Clemson and Ohio State playing in the Sugar Bowl.
--Among the at least 15 schools opting out of bowl games aside from USC are Penn State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Stanford.
--I’m now going with Mac Jones for the Heisman. Yes, Trevor Lawrence is the No. 1 pick in the draft, but he didn’t play enough this season to overcome Jones’ season-long excellence and he had some sub-par performances.
--Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is going to be picking up some year-end hardware from Bar Chat for blatantly not even attempting to wear his mask on the sidelines yesterday. Cue Jeff Spicoli.
--Illinois is hiring former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema to lead its football program.
Bielema, 50, has spent the past three seasons as an NFL assistant, currently with the Giants, but he had expressed interest in returning to the college game. Illinois fired Lovie Smith last Sunday.
Bielema coached Wisconsin to three consecutive Big Ten championships from 2010 to 2012 and went 68-24 in seven seasons with the Badgers with five Top 25 finishes. He then moved on to Arkansas, where he went 29-34 before being fired in 2017.
--According to 247Sports, the top recruiting classes for 2021 were, no surprise…
1. Alabama 2. Ohio State 3. LSU 4. Georgia 5. Clemson
--Jets coach Adam Gase was asked this week if he feels like he’s let down team CEO Christopher Johnson.
“I’ve told him multiple times [that] he deserves better – especially with how he is with our players, our staff, our coaches, anybody involved in this organization,” Gase said. “I couldn’t ask to work for a better guy.”
As some New York scribes observed, Gase was endorsing his eventual firing.
But then today happened…and the Jets won…they f’n won…traveling 3,000 miles to Los Angeles to defeat the Rams (9-5), 23-20. It was a hideous game to watch, as I had to, the entire contest, us Jets fans ready to end it all, the following club with the tiebreaker.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have Trevor Lawrence, for whom I had already lined up countless sponsorships…a sure-fire Broadway Joe II…out the window.
Why? Why? Why….did I decide as a kid to be a Jets and Mets fan (the other kids Giants/Yankees). My father didn’t force me one way or another. I made the decision on my own…what an idiot.
All of the memories come flooding back tonight as I search for the sword to end it all…in honorable fashion.
Then I realize Johnny Mac has the sword, he’ll use it first, though I’m not sure his wife will clean it before sending it Parcel Post…and there are issues with the mail…plus I have year-end columns to write, and I’m curious to see if the Wake hoops program can turn it around, and we now have Uncle Stevie running the Mets, so gotta wait until at least July.
But, geezuz, the Rams had a critical penalty on a Cam Akers touchdown run at 23-17, called back, and you know…
--Jacksonville (1-13) had lost prior to the Jets’ contest, 40-14, to the surging Ravens (9-5) as Lamar Jackson threw for 3 touchdowns and rushed for another.
The Jags have the Bears and Colts remaining on the schedule; the Jets the Browns and Pats. But the Jags own the tiebreaker tonight.
World blows…film at eleven.
--Kansas City is 13-1 after a 32-29 win in New Orleans (10-4), Drew Brees returning to throw three touchdown passes, but Patrick Mahomes threw three of his own.
The win appears to be very costly for K.C., however, as star rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire seemingly suffered a serious knee injury at the end.
--Tampa Bay (9-5) is on the verge of clinching a playoff spot after a 31-27 win over Atlanta (4-10), Tom Brady 31/45, 390, 2-0, 110.4.
--Ditto Tennessee (10-4), 46-25 winners over Detroit (5-9); Derrick Henry with 147 yards on 24 carries and a score, while Ryan Tannehill had another outstanding game in this totally under-the-radar superb season of his.
Tannehill was 21/27, 273, 3-0, 145.8, and now has 31 touchdown passes on the year with just five INTs.
As Ronald Reagan would have observed while reading the Monday morning sports pages, Nancy preparing his favorite blueberry pancakes, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--And Indianapolis (10-4) remains tied with Tennessee in the AFC South with a 27-20 victory over Houston (4-10).
--The Dolphins remain primed for a playoff slot at 9-5, 22-12 winners over the Patriots (6-8) who were eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
--The Bears barely stayed alive, now 7-7, as they eliminated the Vikings (6-8) 33-27. David Montgomery, the 2nd-year back out of Iowa State, is having an outstanding sophomore campaign, 146 yards today on 32 carries and two TDs for Chicago.
--Seattle (10-4) clinched a playoff spot with an unimpressive 20-15 win over Washington (6-8). For the former Redskins, Alex Smith was out with an injury and Dwayne Haskins needed 55 passes to accumulate 295 yards, while throwing two interceptions.
Russell Wilson sucked as well, 18/27, 121, 1-1, but the Seahawks got a 50-yard touchdown run from Carlos Hyde.
--So speaking of the NFC East, Dallas (5-9) is now a game back of Washington with two to play, 41-33 victors over San Francisco (5-9). The 49ers outgained Andy Dalton and Co. 458-291, but turned it over four times…deadly.
--Saturday, the Bills moved to 11-3 with a 48-19 win at Denver (5-9) as Josh Allen was 28/40, 359, 2-0, 114.5, plus two touchdowns on the ground. Yes, I’d say Buffalo did the right thing in drafting the lad back in 2018. Stefon Diggs caught 11 passes for 147 yards.
--And also Saturday, Green Bay is 11-3 after a 24-16 win over Carolina (4-10), Aaron Jones rushing for 145 yards for the Packers.
--Thursday night, the Chargers (5-9) handed the Raiders (7-7) a deadly blow in terms of Vegas’ slim playoff hopes, 30-27 in overtime. The Raiders scored first in OT, a field goal, but then Justin Herbert drove the Chargers 75 yards in five plays for the game-winning touchdown.
Los Angeles had to overcome two missed field goals from kicker Michael Badgley from 47 and 51 that could have sealed the ‘W’ in regulation; the Summit kid having a poor third season after such a strong start to his career. I feel for him.
--It’s amazing the new season is starting this week. Good luck keeping things safe, Boys. Knicks fans have zero expectations but at least in the beginning I’ll tune in to see some of the new players. First-round draft picks Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley are looking like immediate contributors, with Quickley particularly impressive in the brief exhibition campaign.
--Also in New York we have the intriguing story over in Brooklyn as Kevin Durant appears to be fully healthy, albeit understandably rusty. Coupled with Kyrie Irving’s return, if Durant stays on the floor there is no reason why the Nets couldn’t be contenders.
But dealing with Irving off the court is a load, as the star point guard threatens to boycott talking to the media, instead releasing statements, acting like a flat-out jerk. At best, he’s a very complex person who has done some good things for his adopted Native American tribe.
Charles Barkley went off on Irving during an appearance on ESPN’s “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin” show Thursday for thinking he could skirt his media responsibilities and his overall approach.
“They don’t pay you $40 million just to play basketball. Part of it is sitting down with you guys, sitting down with me and Kenny [Smith] and Ernie [Johnson] and Shaq, talking to New York reporters,” Barkley said. “Being with the media is part of your professional obligation, and you can say what you want to say. But these guys today, they’re different. I don’t hate on them, but I’m not sure what point Kyrie is trying to make.”
Irving seemingly called the media “pawns” in an Instagram post and said when speaking to the media that it was about “the mistreatment of certain artists when we get to a platform of when we make decisions within our lives to have full control and ownership.”
Barkley wasn’t having any of that.
“He starts talking about what an artist is,” he said. “He’s a basketball player. That’s what he is. Listen, we’re not front-line responders. We’re not teachers. Yo man, you dribble a basketball, stop acting like you’re the smartest person in the world….
“Well, first of all, you’re not. You only went to college for six months. A lot of guys are smarter than you are. Just answer stupid basketball questions. And if you want to say something about social justice, say it and mean it, because it’s important and significant. But all that other stuff? Like, yo, man, shut the hell up and talk basketball.”
--The Lakers are even deeper than this past season with some of their offseason moves, ergo, they will repeat.
--We had a biggie yesterday in this otherwise incredibly disjointed season. No. 1 Gonzaga (4-0) beat 3 Iowa (6-1) as freshman sensation Jalen Suggs had 27 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, the Zags overcoming a 30 point, 10 rebound effort from Luka Garza, who was 13 of 18 from the floor.
Also Saturday, 12 Wisconsin (6-1) destroyed 23 Louisville (4-1) 85-48, the Badgers 16 of 25 from three, while the Cardinals committed 18 turnovers.
15 Florida State (4-1) was upset by UCF (2-1) 86-74.
And Kentucky is now a stunning 1-5 after falling to 22 North Carolina (5-2) 75-63, John Calipari’s team off to the school’s worst start since 1926-27!
Today, 19 Rutgers (6-0) had a huge win at home over 13 Illinois (5-3) 91-88.
--The NHL and Players Assn. tentatively agreed to begin the pandemic-delayed 2020-21 season on Jan. 13 with each team playing a 56-game schedule solely within one of four temporarily realigned divisions.
And then tonight the two sides approved.
One division will envelop all seven Canada-based teams, freeing them to compete against each other while avoiding severe travel restrictions that currently limit border crossings between the U.S. and Canada. Those restrictions led the NBA’s Toronto Raptors to relocate to Tampa, Fla., this season and sent MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays to Buffalo to play home games last season.
There will be no exhibition games.
The top four teams in each of the new divisions will qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The regular season will end May 8, the playoffs extending into mid-July.
Let’s Go Ran-gers!
--Sadly, future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist will not be joining the Washington Capitals this season, having signed a one-year deal with the team in October; the Rangers having bought out the final season of the beloved goaltender’s seven-year contract.
“After many weeks of tests and conversations with specialists around the country it’s been decided that a heart condition will prevent me from taking the ice,” Lundqvist said in a statement. “Together, we have decided that the risk of playing before remedying my condition is too high, so I will spend the coming months figuring out the best course of action.”
Lundqvist was set to compete for the starting goaltender position against second-year netminder Ilya Samsonov.
--The Chicago Blackhawks announced they won’t be following the Cleveland Indians’ lead and change their nickname, new CEO Danny Wirtz said. A Native American representative responded: “That Indian head has got to go.”
Some leaders of the Native American community don’t find the name “Blackhawks” to be derogatory, but object to the face-painted, feather-wearing mascot that adorns the front of the Hawks sweater.
--On Wednesday, Major League Baseball took one of its biggest steps to redress past racial wrongs by announcing it was formally recognizing several of the Negro Leagues as on par with the American and National Leagues, acknowledging a quality of competition that the long-excluded players never doubted.
With the change, more than 3,400 players from seven distinct Negro leagues that operated between 1920 and 1948 will be recognized as major leaguers. And the statistical records will be updated.
It’s important to note, however, that the impact will be relatively small because the Negro Leagues generally played seasons lasting no more than 100 games during the period in question (many of the seasons were just in the 50-60 game range). Willie Mays will be among those who actually pick up a few hits, given his time with the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948, but just seven, not the 17 you are seeing in some articles. Supposedly 10 of the 17 were in the playoffs. So Mays could improve to 3,290 career hits vs. the 3,283 he’s credited with today.
The move was the result of years of study by researchers from the Seamheads Negro League Database – who pored over newspaper clippings, scorebooks and other historical records to compile statistics – as well as research by the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., and other entities.
Tyler Kepner / New York Times
“The greatest challenge in incorporating Negro league statistics into the official record is the scattered nature of the various leagues, which led to somewhat inconsistent record-keeping. The statistics are complicated by barnstorming exhibitions – some against players from National and American league teams – and other competitions that do not show up in the numbers soon to be added to the official record.
“The Hall of Fame plaque for (Josh) Gibson, for example, says he ‘hit almost 800 home runs in league and independent baseball,’ a vague description that will not be sufficient to eclipse Barry Bonds’ career record of 762.
“Gibson, though, will be at the center of the biggest change expected to happen as a result of Wednesday’s announcement: Once Elias has completed its research, it is expected that Gibson will be awarded the single-season record for batting average. The record currently belongs to Hugh Duffy, who hit .440 for the Boston Beaneaters in 1894. Gibson, a power-hitting catcher who was sometimes called the Black Babe Ruth, batted .441 for multiple Negro league teams in 1943.”
Thomas Boswell / Washington Post
“When I type the name Tim Keefe into baseball-reference.com, the modern de facto bible of baseball statistics, I discover that Keefe ranks 10th in the history of Major League Baseball in wins, ahead of Steve Carlton and Nolan Ryan.
“Though he was born in 1857, Keefe is, in a baseball sense, immortal, recorded, honored. Though he pitched for the Troy Trojans in 1881 and won 41 for the New York Metropolitans of the American Association in 1883, I have seen his name and mustachioed photo many times. The record book keeps him alive.
“When I type the name ‘Josh Gibson’ into baseball-reference, I get the name ‘Josh Booty, given name Joshua Gibson,’ who played for the Florida Marlins from 1996 to 1998. Only if I know where to click, can I dig up ‘Josh Gibson, Hall of Fame.’ But no stats of his career.
“In interviews, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and others told me they had played against Gibson in exhibition games and that he was as great as any hitter they had seen. Or better.
“But, if you want to know whom Gibson played for and when, how many homers he hit or that he batted .441 in 1943, you couldn’t find it in any MLB official record book….
“Now that is going to change, finally…
“It’s useful to remember MLB’s statistical history offers little consistency or completeness. We take it as we find it and judge it as we will.
“MLB played just 60 games this past season, far fewer than many Negro League seasons. Yet the Nats’ Juan Soto can claim his batting, slugging and on-base titles forever….
“The new Negro League numbers will have many gaps, a byproduct of the discrimination that limited every aspect of those players’ lives, right down to the tiny detail that many of their games got no box scores in papers.
“As more information is gathered, all those Negro League stats will change, just as, over my life, I have watched the win, strikeout and hit totals change for Walter Johnson and many other White Hall of Famers….
“MLB can never undo the wrong of its discrimination. But it can put the names and numbers of Negro League players where they belong: in the record book.
“Why does that matter so much? I have heard variations of the same conversation many times. A rookie plays his first MLB and afterward, a veteran says, ‘You’re in the book now, kid. They can never get you out of it.’”
Top Negro Leaguers are credited with having played between 1,000 and 1,600 career games, as opposed to, say, Pete Rose’s 3,562, so, again, the “counting” stats and MLB records are safe.
But career batting average marks will be adjusted, ditto winning percentage for pitchers.
--MLB and the players are wrangling over the 2021 season and how many games to play, with the players accepting nothing less than a full season.
A delay would allow the players and personnel to get vaccinated, and would also allow fans to get the vaccine. And it would allow the owners, who claimed to have lost $2 billion last season, to help defer the cost of spring training if they are able to open the gates to fans for exhibition games and then open the regular season with fans in the ballparks.
I’m guessing there will be a slight delay and maybe we have a 150-game season commencing around April 20. The season needs to end in October.
What an awful week for my Tottenham Hotspurs. On Wednesday, Liverpool scored in the 90th minute for a crushing 2-1 loss when a draw was critical for my boys looking at the rest of the season. And then today, they lost to Leicester City, 2-0. Ugh.
Meanwhile, Liverpool followed up their stirring win against us with a 7-0 annihilation Saturday of Crystal Palace, Salah and Firmino scoring twice apiece. The seven goals is huge as the season plays out in terms of goal differential and breaking any ties in the standings.
Today, Manchester United continued its resurgence, 6-2 over Leeds.
So the standings after 13/14 of 38…Games…Points
1. Liverpool 14 – 31
2. Leicester City 14 – 27
3. Man U 13 – 26
4. Everton 14 – 26…Champions League line
5. Tottenham 14 – 25…first to fifth in one week…this blows
6. Southampton 14 – 24
7. Man City 13 – 23
8. Chelsea 13 - 22
FIS World Cup Skiing
--Mikaela Shiffrin did not race this weekend at Val-d’Isere, but they ran the first two downhills of the season and they were won by Switzerland’s Corinne Suter and Italy’s Sofia Goggia, the two finishing second in each other’s race.
But America’s Breezy Johnson took third in both downhills! You go, girl!
--The men raced at Val Gardena and American Ryan Cochran-Siegle finished second in a downhill. Earlier in the season, USA’s Tommy Ford had a second in a giant slalom, so Team USA is coming around.
--I caught a little of the PNC Father/Son Championship just to see Tiger’s 11-year-old boy, Charlie.
As noted by Daniel Rapaport of Golfworld:
“Let’s get this out of the way first: Charlie Woods is 11 years old. He could wake up next Thursday and decide golf is for nerds. (And his father, for the record, would be perfectly cool with that.) It’s vital to keep that in min in the days and months and years ahead. He’s a kid. A kid with a mega-famous dad, but a kid all the same. Team Woods is playing in this thing for fun. Nothing more, nothing less.”
The kid can play. But let’s see where he is in five years.
Tiger, appropriately, is shielding him from the microphones, doing the talking for him.
“A lot of people are trying to use him to build up, or write, or talk about things. Just making sure he’s able to have fun playing the game of golf,” said Dad.
--Sam Weinman / Golfworld
“There were golfers in 2020 who never thought they’d be golfers. Or they had been before life intervened – kids, jobs, herniated discs. They coached soccer, or took spin classes. They packed trains every morning and shuffled home every night.
“A game played in four-and-a-half hour increments wasn’t much of an option – until, abruptly, it was.
“ ‘I can’t tell you how many times someone would come in and say, ‘I used to play in high school but it’s been a while so I need a set of clubs and I need lessons,’ said Mike Laudien, the Director of Golf at Philip J. Rotella Golf Course in New York’s Rockland County.
“Golf executives have long been preoccupied with finding ways to shake golf out of a period of stagnant growth. There have been strategy meetings and PowerPoint presentations now taking up space on hard drives. The concepts floated were met with varying degrees of success: Forward tees! Shorter rounds! Topgolf!
“A pandemic strategy, one that disrupted virtually every element of life but somehow preserved and even fortified golf’s most important elements, was surely never part of the plan.
“And yet at the end of 2020, golf can boast the type of surge in participation no bar graph projection would have dared make. According to the National Golf Foundation and Golf Datatech, there will end up being some 50 million more rounds played in 2020 than in 2019, a figure even more staggering considering how the season began. In April, May and June, golf rounds were actually down sharply because of shutdowns and general apprehension in the early days of the pandemic. But once golfers started showing up at courses, a confluence of time, favorable weather and a dearth of other options led to full tee sheets around the country straight through the fall.
“ ‘We’ve never seen anything like it,’ said John Krzynowek, a partner at Golf Datatech….
“According to NGF projections, there were 20 percent increases in both junior and beginning golfers this year, around 500,000 more in each category that many retailers experienced firsthand.”
But more likely this was a year in which core golfers simply played more. I know I played the local par-3 course with my high school gang about three times as much as I ever played it before because it was so convenient and just fun (and quick).
So what will happen when eventually enough vaccine usage allows a semblance of normalcy and return to offices, airplanes and to the sidelines of youth sports? That’s next summer’s story.
--The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced Russia’s four-year ban from international sports competition by half, but the country still will miss the next two Olympics and World Cup.
The court ruling means that Russia won’t formally have any presence – no name, no flag, no anthem – at the Tokyo Olympics next summer or the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. It also will be barred from most major international competitions through 2022, including FIFA’s World Cup and other events subject to World Anti-doping Code.
Russian athletes who have not been implicated in the country’s state-sponsored doping scheme will be allowed to compete in Tokyo and Beijing. At the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, 168 Russians competed as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”
--ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi, a top reporter best known for his work on “College GameDay” and on the sidelines for the national championship, as well as a deep association with golf, has been hired away by Fox Sports, where he’ll work the Super Bowl, World Series and World Cup, along with college football.
Top 3 songs week of 12/25/76: #1 “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)” (Rod Stewart…and Britt Ekland…) #2 “You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)” (Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.) #3 “The Rubberband Man” (Spinners)…and…#4 “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” (Leo Sayer…ugh…) #5 “More Than A Feeling” (Boston) #6 “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” (Elton John) #7 “I Wish” (Stevie Wonder) #8 “Dazz” (Brick) #9 “Car Wash” (Rose Royce…one of the world’s worst tunes of the 20th century…) #10 “After The Lovin’” (Engelbert Humperdinck…so, yes, I was home for Christmas after my first semester at Wake Forest…hadn’t flunked out, having a great time, all good…now ask me what happened the following Christmas…)
NFL Quiz Answers: 1) Randy Moss, 23 (2007) and Jerry Rice, 22 (1987) are the only two with 20 or more TD receptions. 2) Mark Clayton, 1984 (Dan Marino’s 48 TD pass season) was the first at 18. Sterling Sharple then had 18 in 1994. 3) Elroy Hirsch, 1951 (Rams) and Don Hutson*, 1942 (Green Bay) were the first at 17…Hirsch in a 12-game season, Hutson in 11.
*I’ve noted Hutson’s career stats numerous times in the past, but he’s one of the top 10 players in league history. Look him up on pro-football-reference.com. I mean the dude even had 30 interceptions…a true two-way superstar.
Bazooka Joe Asks: Where did Don play his college ball? Answer: Alabama.
Next Bar Chat…Wednesday a.m. My annual Christmas special…plus some tidbits…added on to the top.