|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
We Made It....to the Super Bowl!
[Posted early Tues. p.m.]
NHL Quiz: I saw the other night that Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl had six assists in the Oilers’ 8-5 win over Ottawa, which is one off the all-time record of seven held by Wayne Gretzky (3 times) and Billy Taylor (Detroit, 1947). So that had me going to the NHL record book. 1) Name the only three with 100 assists in a season. 2) Name the last two to score six goals in a game (both post-1960). 3) Name the only player to score ten points in a single game. [It’s not Gretzky and no one else has even 9 points.] Answers below.
Nothing much to say, sports fans. Just play the game. The NFL made the smart decision to keep the players away from Tampa Bay until two days before Sunday’s contest, as obviously there wasn’t going to be a traditional “media day” and such. It’s all about keeping the players healthy at home (hopefully), and thus far, no major issues. As I go to post the Chiefs have a potential issue or two, but wide receiver Sammy Watkins says he’ll be ready after missing the first two playoff games because of a calf injury, and fellow receiver Demarcus Robinson is on the Covid ‘contact’ list, so all he has to do is string together some negative test results and he’ll be OK.
Of course the NFL is terrified at the thought that either Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady tested positive, the nightmare scenario when they tried to game out the 2020 season amidst a pandemic, but everything is on track. Fingers crossed.
I have to admit…very curious to see how much humor is in the ads this year. I hope there is some!
--AP Top 25 (records a/o Sun.)
1. Gonzaga (61) 17-0
2. Baylor (3) 16-0
3. Villanova 11-1
4. Michigan 13-1
5. Houston 15-1
6. Texas 11-3
7. Ohio State 14-4
8. Iowa 12-4
9. Oklahoma 11-4…up 15 spots after three straight wins over top-10 opponents; then-No. 9 Kansas, No. 5 Texas, and No. 9 Alabama.
10. Alabama 14-4
14. Virginia 11-3
16. Virginia Tech 13-3
25. Drake 16-0!...first time they’ve been ranked since 2007-08. And then they won Monday, 95-60 over Illinois State.
--This is not good, boys and girls. The owners and the players union are at loggerheads again over the start, and shape, of the season. Major League Baseball wants to delay the season by up to a month and shorten the season to 154 games, while still offering full pay, with an expanded playoffs. But the union said Monday they will open spring training on time Feb. 17 with full intentions of playing an uninterrupted 162-game schedule.
Feb. 17 is all of two weeks away.
What this means is the game will revert to the pre-pandemic rules. No expanded postseason, no universal DH, no seven-inning doubleheaders. And no starting extra innings with a runner on second base. The rules revert to the old ways because the two sides are still operating under an existing collective bargaining agreement. But you can see what is going to happen next Dec. 1 when the current deal expires. Prepare for a season in 2022 that will start around June, owing to a long strike.
But for now, MLB issued a statement:
“On the advice of medical experts, we proposed a one-month delay to the start of spring training and the regular season to better protect the health and safety of players and support staff. A delay of the season would allow for the level of Covid-19 infection rates to decrease and additional time for the distribution of vaccinations, as well as minimizing potential disruptions to the 2021 season that currently face all sports.”
But the union insisted that there was no reason to reduce the schedule or cut back the off-days.
“We do not make this decision lightly,” the union statement read. “Players know first-hand the efforts that were required to complete the abbreviated 2020 season, and we appreciate that significant challenges lie ahead. We look forward to promptly finalizing enhanced health and safety protocols that will help players and clubs meet these challenges.”
So here’s where we are. The players can demand the season start on time, instead of MLB’s proposal of a spring training beginning March 22, opening day April 29, and expanded playoffs, with the World Series ending Nov. 10. Playoffs, the universal DH and other innovations (it seems) from last season now become part of the next collective bargaining negotiations.
But what if there is truly a health crisis, as in these Covid variants lead to a new spike, despite the increasing level of vaccinations? While today it seems clear that Commissioner Rob Manfred cannot unilaterally halt the season for health and safety concerns, what if the situation becomes obviously untenable?
There is a possibility that in reaching a final agreement on health and safety protocols in the coming two weeks, seven-inning doubleheaders and the runner on second base in extra innings may still be adopted.
--Dustin Pedroia officially retired, after more than two years of trying to come back from persistent pain in his left knee. The 37-year-old decided to walk away from baseball while he could still walk and announced Monday his playing career was over.
Red Sox principal owner John Henry said of the former Rookie of the Year, A.L. MVP, four-time All-Star, and four-time Gold Glover:
“Dustin came to represent the kind of grit, passion, and competitive drive that resonates with baseball fans everywhere and especially with Red Sox fans. He played the game he loves in service to our club, its principles and in pursuit of championships. Most of all we are forever grateful to him for what he brought to our club and to our region as an important role model showing all of us how much one can accomplish with determination and hard work.”
The Red Sox are still responsible for the $12 million remaining on Pedroia’s contract, which will count toward the luxury tax payroll, but he is off the 40-man roster.
The second baseman ended up playing only nine games the last three seasons, going 3 for 31 at the plate, not exactly the way you want to go out.
But he finished with a .299 career batting average, 1,805 hits, 140 home runs, 725 RBIs, 138 stolen bases and two World Series rings.
--And I forgot to note the retirement of Daniel Murphy the other day. Murphy had a very solid seven seasons with the Mets, including a spectacular performance in the 2015 postseason for which he will be always be remembered fondly in Gotham…7 home runs in 9 games in the NLDS and NLCS, MVP in the latter when he went 9 for 17, with 4 homers, as the Mets beat the Cubs to advance to the World Series, where, alas, the magic ended.
It was very controversial when the Mets let Murphy go in free agency after 2015, and he then proceeded to torment them with Washington, where he was runner-up N.L. MVP with a career year…25 home runs, 104 RBI, a league-leading 47 doubles, .347 batting average, and league-leading OPS at .985. Murphy followed that up with a terrific 2017 (22-93, .322 BA, leading the league in doubles again).
But the last three seasons he was slowed by injuries and he bounced around. Murphy’s career numbers are almost identical to Pedroia’s, 1,572 hits, 138 home runs, 735 RBIs, and a .296 BA.
--The Phillies signed shortstop Didi Gregorius to a two-year, $28 million contract, after a highly-successful 60-game 2020 with Philadelphia, having signed a one-year, $14 million free agent deal with them when the Yankees let him walk.
--Former New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway, currently pitching coach for the Angels, was accused by at least five women who work in sports media of sexually harassing them over five years with three different organizations, per a report in The Athletic on Monday.
Callaway issued a lame statement in response, saying “I look forward to an opportunity to provide more specific responses. Any relationship in which I was engaged has been consensual and my conduct was in no way intended to be disrespectful to any women involved.”
The women said Callaway sent them inappropriate photographs and asked one of them to send nude photos in return, according to the report. Callaway contacted the women through email, text messages, social media or a combination of all three.
The problem for the Mets is that this comes just weeks after they were forced to fire newly-hired GM Jared Porter over similar issues. As in, what’s up with president Sandy Alderson’s vetting process (Alderson at the time the GM who hired Callaway in October 2017).
But it’s obviously an issue throughout baseball.
The Angels will fire him, probably by the time you read this. Actually, I just saw the team “suspended” him pending an investigation.
As Johnny Mac used to tell me when Callaway was with the Mets, “This guy seems to be a little ‘off’”.
--It turns out the Jets were interested in Matthew Stafford, though talks with the Lions went nowhere, according to various reports. SI’s Albert Breer also noted Washington and Carolina submitted offers for the quarterback, but Stafford preferred to go to the Rams, San Francisco or Indianapolis.
Additionally, Denver, Chicago and New England expressed interest.
NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran reported, though, that “Stafford told the Lions they could send him anywhere but New England.” It didn’t help that Bill Belichick had re-hired former Lions head coach Matt Patricia, who Detroit fired in November.
--Just when you thought you heard all the Patrick Reed stories, wait ‘til you see one down below.
Gary Van Sickle / Morning Read
“It’s official. Patrick Reed is the most hated man in golf.
“Hmm. Hated is a strong word. Let’s just say that Reed cemented his place as golf’s No. 1 villain Saturday during the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open when he took a drop after claiming his ball was embedded in the rough.
“We’ll never know for sure whether his ball really was embedded. We have our suspicions. We do know that Reed is now embedded in deep you-know-what, image-wise.
“You have crossed the point of no-return for what’s ‘good for the game’ when CBS anchor Jim Nantz turns on you. Nantz is your ‘Hello, friends’ guy whose own always-positive view of golf is ‘a tradition unlike any other.’
“After analyst Nick Faldo seriously questioned Reed’s ruling, Our Friend Nantz implied agreement by saying, ‘The optics are not great.’ That’s a guilty verdict in Nantz-speak, and for him, it’s the equivalent of a cursing tirade.
“Patrick Reed, you have a problem. Fans don’t like you. Golfers don’t trust you. Even ‘Hello, friends’ doesn’t trust you. Now that’s a problem.
“It doesn’t matter that Reed won the Farmers Insurance Open by five strokes. Those one or two strokes potentially saved with that drop didn’t factor in the outcome. But that’s not the point. Neither the victory nor the PGA Tour’s approval of his questionable drop – the linchpin of Reed’s defense – seems likely to change the minds of many observers who through he violated the ethics, if not the actual rules – Rule 16.3, ‘Embedded Ball’, to be precise – of the game.
“Long-term, Reed has bigger problems. Sponsors might be less inclined to align themselves with a player who creates rules controversies. Reed is in danger of becoming so disliked that he’s going to endure constant heckling from golf galleries (when they return); he’s going to require security inside the ropes; and maybe worse, he could become such a distraction and pariah that he is a liability for any U.S. Ryder Cup team.
“How would the co-called Captain America feel about being left off the Ryder Cup team because of character issues? That’s a polite way to say he’s radioactively toxic, and, oh yeah, nobody on the team wants to be his partner….
“After the win, Reed’s embedded-ball drop still was the talk of the tournament. All of this could have been avoided if Reed had watched the replay of his ball bouncing in the rough and said, Oh, well, that ball might not have been embedded after all. I think it was embedded, but to be fair to the field and to erase any doubt, I’ll assess myself a penalty for illegally picking up my ball.
“Maybe Reed wouldn’t have won with the penalty, but he would have won what he wound up losing instead: his integrity. Reed would have earned kudos from the golf world instead of scorn if he’d owned the ruling. CBS’ Nantz probably would have launched into a soliloquy about The Honor of The Game, with Reed as the latest exhibit.
“Reed is a complicated man. He once played in the Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, Pa., and was paired with my son, Mike Van Sickle. Their moms were on hand as spectators and, as many moms tend to do, they walked ahead to serve as forecaddies to help find any errant shots.
“It was on a par-3 hole that Reed blocked one way right into the weeds. By the time he arrived in the area, his mother still was looking for the ball. Reed promptly reamed out his mother with an unending tirade of expletives. ‘You f---ing c---! You had one f---ing job!’ And on and on and on. My son was beyond shocked.
“Years later, I heard about the incident in which Reed had his parents kicked out of a tournament at which they were spectators. And when he won the 2018 Masters, Reed made it clear that his parents, who live in suburban Augusta, weren’t welcome on the grounds. Some writers discussed his awkward estrangement from his parents. Apparently, I was among the minority who weren’t surprised by those developments.
“Plenty of champion golfers haven’t been warm or fuzzy or Mr. Wonderful. Sam Snead often wasn’t exactly a charmer. Dave Hill comes to mind, too. And other gruff winners. That’s fine.
“But Reed has set himself up as an international rules-fudger. He has no one else to blame. Once you get that tag, you can never lose it. Worse, a charge like that can taint a player’s legitimate successes.
“Remember in 2012, when Reed set a record (at the time) by Monday qualifying six times to get into PGA Tour fields? That is a remarkable feat, because you’ve got to shoot low, low, low. To do it six times in one summer almost defies belief.
“Monday qualifiers usually have few spectators, few rules officials and few other players or caddies paying attention because they’re too busy fighting for their professional lives. They probably wouldn’t notice if a player in the right rough way over on the other side of the fairway happened to nudge his ball into a better lie a couple of times, turning a potential bogey into a birdie and qualified.
“I don’t know anyone who has done that. I don’t know anyone who would.”
[Long-time readers know I saw actual cheating when I was at the PGA Tour’s Q-School years ago while following Bill Haas…his playing partner’s blatant move, with yours truly literally being the only witness…so I can appreciate Van Sickle’s thoughts on Reed and Monday qualifying.]
Sports During the Pandemic
Barry Svrluga / Washington Post
“Let’s check in on how sports are doing in the midst of a pandemic that has frozen the country for more than 10 months.
“On Sunday in Tampa, the NFL will finish its 2020 season on time and in full. Six months ago – heck, two months ago – that’s not a sentence I thought would be typed. The NBA and the NHL are barreling through shortened seasons without the benefit of the bubbles they used last summer. Their schedule-makers require every ounce of Gumby’s flexibility, and outbreaks have ripped through locker rooms. But there’s a high degree of confidence that legitimate champions will be crowned this summer.
“Spring training is scheduled to open next month [Ed. Svrluga was writing this Sunday night, posted early Monday a.m., thus his calendar], and while no one yet knows whether baseball’s schedule will be limited by the coronavirus, the fact that a World Series was staged last fall – before there was a vaccine – would suggest that another could be staged in October, at which point a significant portion of the population hopes to be vaccinated.
“So we mostly can’t go to games, but the games clearly go on. Which brings me to something I find difficult to marry: More than 440,0000 Americans have died of Covid-19. And yet, unless I’m missing someone – and I don’t think I am – none have been active participants in the major American sports. Not quarterbacks or golfers. Not from the WNBA or Major League Soccer. Not pitchers or power forwards.
“ ‘And that includes not just the players,’ said William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, ‘but everyone associated with the teams where there are clearly people who are older and people who may have heart disease or diabetes or other conditions. That’s either pretty lucky or pretty impressive.’
“Maybe both? Look, it’s not time for a victory lap or to declare sports completely safe. There are still more than 150,000 new coronavirus cases in the United States and more than 3,000 deaths per day… Plenty of danger remains. Keep your mask on and step back six feet, thanks. Optimism and caution must be taken in equal doses….
“Part of the reason for all the hand-wringing – the ‘Should we really be doing this?’ questions – over the past six or eight months came from the mysteries about the virus. Those best practices – mask-wearing, physical distancing, outdoors is better than indoors, etc. – didn’t arrive in a handbook. They were developed and accepted over time.
“But even with the successful completion of seasons, one element nagged and does still: The members of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Clemson football team, Masters champion Dustin Johnson and soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo, all the athletes and coaches who tested positive, recovered and returned to competition – are they in the clear for the rest of their lives?
“ ‘The short answer is: We don’t know,’ said Matthew Martinez, the director of Atlantic Health System Sports Cardiology at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey who has consulted with the NFL, NBA and Major League Soccer. ‘But we are investigating it.’
“There are, though, encouraging signs. Martinez said that between the pros and the NCAA, there are now thousands of examples of how the virus impacts a young, fit population.
“ ‘We’ve learned that, by and large, we’re not seeing cardiac involvement,’ Martinez said, which is great because lingering heart problems have been a concern. ‘We’ve learned that if you’re asymptomatic or mild, which is the vast majority of people who have tested positive, they do really, really well. Even those with moderate symptoms, they do well. The severe group – it just depends.’
“That’s the part that hangs over everything, with vaccines just getting rolled out and the virus still doling out severe cases for some people. What if an athlete or a coach or a support staffer tests positive – and dies? Would all the games won and lost and the seasons completed and the champions crowned have been worth it?
“There’s probably not a right or wrong answer.
“This is uneasy territory. In the interest of public health, it’s our job to continue to be vigilant about the virus. We have to acknowledge, as Schaffner said, ‘The virus has juked right and left,’ and we don’t yet know whether the current vaccines will be effective against the variant strains that are appearing.
“But for someone whose teeth were completely gnashed as sports returned and whose heart sank and anxiety rose when positives spread through a locker room, it’s worth acknowledging: When we needed a distraction, sports provided one. It has done so safely and without tragedy. I will go back to crossing my fingers and holding my breath that remains the case until we can all safely stand shoulder-to-shoulder at a packed stadium, cheering and jeering like we used to.”
--Dr. W. alerted me to a particular Premier League game today, Manchester United vs. Southampton. Get this…Man U won 9-0, tying a record for margin. Southampton was a man down two minutes in after a Red card, and then they received another Red card late, after which Man U scored its final two goals.
So United is tied with Manchester City at the top of the standings, but City has two games in hand.
--Our best to Tony Bennett and his family as he made the announcement the other day in AARP magazine that he has been living with Alzheimer’s Disease for the last four years. The accompanying article conveys how the condition has affected Bennett’s memory and ability to recognize everyday objects.
His wife Susan told the magazine he is “not always sure where he is or what is happening around him.”
But thus far he has been spared the worst characteristics of the disease, such as disorientation that can cause patients to wander from home and episodes of terror, rage or depression.
In an Instagram post directing fans to the article, Bennett wrote: “Life is a gift – even with Alzheimer’s. Thank you to Susan and my family for their support, and @AARP The Magazine for telling my story.”
Top 3 songs for the week 2/3/73: #1 “Crocodile Rock” (Elton John) #2 “You’re So Vain” (Carly Simon) #3 “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder)…and…#4 “Why Can’t We Live Together” (Timmy Thomas) #5 “Your Mama Don’t Dance” (Kenny Loggins & Jim Messina) #6 “Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?” (Hurricane Smith…great tune…) #7 “Trouble Man” (Marvin Gaye) #8 “The World Is A Ghetto” (War…ditto…) #9 “Do It Again” (Steely Dan) #10 “Hi, Hi, Hi” (Wings…B+ week…)
NHL Quiz Answers: 1) The only three to have 100 assists in a season are Gretzky (a stupendous 11 times, including the record of 163, set in the 1985-86 season); Mario Lemieux (114, 1988-89), and Bobby Orr (102, 1970-71). 2) St. Louis’ Red Berenson (11/7/68) and Toronto’s Darryl Sittler (2/7/76) are the last two to score six goals in a game. I’ll never forget Berenson’s night, as it was a glaring headline in the Newark Evening News’ sports pages and I was just becoming a hockey fan and reading box scores. 3) So the only player with ten points in a game is the same Darryl Sittler. That 2/7/76 game he added four assists, as Toronto beat Boston 11-4! In net for the Bruins was Dave Reece, whose total NHL career lasted 14 games, though to be fair he was 7-5-2.
The NHL has an outstanding record book, by the way….records.nhl.com…links to the individual games, etc.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday…right after the Super Bowl. Enjoy the game!