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March Madness to the Extreme
Add-On posted very early Wed. a.m.
March Madness / Sweet Sixteen
4 Arkansas vs. 1 Gonzaga, 7 p.m.
3 Texas Tech vs. 2 Duke
11 Michigan vs. 2 Villanova, 7:15 p.m.
5 Houston vs. 1 Arizona
15 Saint Peter’s vs. 3 Purdue, 7 p.m.
8 North Carolina vs. 4 UCLA
4 Providence vs. 1 Kansas, 7:15 p.m.
11 Iowa State vs. 10 Miami
For a second straight year, the Big Ten flamed out royally. Two straight years with nine bids and only two made the Sweet Sixteen this year, after only one did in 2021.
Pathetic. When will the Selection Committee wake up! They must be receiving FIFA/IOC-like payoffs.
And the SEC has only one of its six bids in the Sweet Sixteen.
On the other hand, the Big 12, which I thought was the best conference this season, had 3 of 6 move on, while the ACC is the big surprise, to some, with 3 of 5 in the last 16. Miami is one that’s easy to root for. And after a 79-61 beatdown of 2-seed Auburn, which was No. 1 at one point this season, does anyone feel sorry for AU coach Bruce Pearl? I didn’t think so.
Iowa State is another great story, going from 2-22 last season to 22-12 and a Sweet Sixteen appearance. Wake-like (6-16 to 25-9).
--As expected, Monday, Maryland hired Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard to be its new head coach. When Saint Peter’s run is over, Shaheen Holloway will no doubt be hired to replace Willard, the two being very close, with Willard over the weekend saying he wanted Holloway to replace him.
Willard was 225-161 at Seton Hall in 12 seasons, with five NCAA tournament appearances, though 2019-20 would have been a sixth had Covid not stepped in. The criticism is he never advanced beyond the second round and this year’s loss to TCU, 69-42, was abysmal.
But he does have a solid reputation for developing talent. Seton Hall doesn’t get the 5-star players that Duke and Kentucky reel in. And now Willard has the resources of a Big Ten program and a great area to recruit in.
--As for Saint Peter’s, yes, the local New York area television stations are camped out at the Jersey City campus and as Coach K said on his SiriusXM show Monday, the Peacocks’ Sweet Sixteen, Cinderella run will translate into “tens of millions” of dollars for the little Jesuit university, potentially “a hundred million.”
“It will transform an already outstanding university. It will give it more resources, more attention, more visibility. People do not understand completely what sport does for a school. It not only provides the spirit within the school, togetherness, but if you do really well it translate into visibility for everything in that university, and money. I remember when we played Butler in 2010, Brad Stevens is a good friend, I said, ‘Your life has changed, but your university’s life has changed also with what you’ve done.’ The power, the influence that that has.”
Yup, sure helped Butler’s overall visibility. Remember what it did for George Mason years ago? I know that Wake Forest’s solid run in football has helped us…and now we’re hoping basketball can redevelop the consistency it used to have.
But can the Peacocks hang with Purdue on Friday? They have the grit to do so, I’m just not sure they have the horses.
--Separately, a decision has to be made on Arizona star Bennedict Mathurin, who while walking off the court following the Wildcats’ overtime win over TCU Sunday, clearly touched the breast of a TCU cheerleader…intentionally. As I go to post, Mathurin hasn’t commented. He’s a top prospect in this year’s NBA Draft.
But what a dirtball. So what will the NCAA do? What will the school do? You just can’t do this.
The quarterfinal matchups are set and your editor is pleased.
St. Bonaventure (22-9) at Virginia (21-13)
Vanderbilt (19-16) at Xavier (20-13)
Wake Forest (25-9) at Texas A&M (25-12)
Washington State (21-14) at BYU (24-10)
After I last posted, Sunday night, St. Bonaventure had a nice 70-68 win over Oklahoma (19-16) in Norman, OK, even though center Osi Osunniyi once again tried to give a game away by bricking free throws down the stretch. Jaren Holmes, who shot a putrid 27.6% from three this season, was 4-for-4, 23 points in all, and he was the difference for the Bonnies.
And in true St. Bonaventure fashion, four of the five starters (all seniors) played the entire 40 minutes.
So now with a win at Virginia, the Bonnies would be playing at Madison Square Garden and they’re terrific fan base would pack the place, much to MSG’s delight.
And in a terrific, and fascinating game, albeit ugly at times if you are into 92-88 games, St. Bonaventure, up 21-17 at the half in Charlottesville, the two teams combing for 2 of 18 from three, prevailed in spectacular fashion, 52-51, as they hit a clutch three to cut it to 51-50, and then the goat of the A-10 tournament, Kyle Lofton, hit two free throws for the lead with 5.3 left.
Virginia then raced it down the court, only to have the other goat of the A-10 tourney, Osun Osunniyi, go up for a clean block on UVA’s last-second shot to secure the win, the Bonnies MSG bound.
Yes, I’ve invested in St. Bonaventure this year so I watched every second, but given it was March basketball, it ended up being, to me, one of the best games of the year for all the different dynamics involved…like Kyle Lofton.
Xavier is also MSG bound, defeating Vanderbilt 75-73 last night.
But on Wednesday, it’s Go Deacs! They win this one or get blown out…no in between is my guess. This is inside baseball (err, basketball) for my fellow Demon Deacon fans, but Khadim Sy is a key. For whatever reason, he has been Mr. Butterfingers the last three games and it’s inexplicable. He literally cannot hold onto the ball, and this is after he played his best stretch of the season. ‘Tis a mystery.
--We note the passing of former Rutgers coach, Tom Young, who from 1973-1985 coached the Scarlet Knights to a 239-117 mark – never having a losing season.
But Young is best remembered for Rutgers’ magical 1975-76 season when he guided them to the Final Four, 31-0 heading into it after dispatching of Princeton, UConn and VMI to advance that far, only to lose to Michigan, 86-70, in the semis, and then UCLA in the third-place game, 106-92.
Those of us in the New York area at that time vividly remember this team that scored 93.3 points per game.
Phil Sellers, Mike Dabney, Eddie Jordan, Hollis Copeland, Abdel Anderson and James Bailey.
But while Sellers and Dabney both averaged 19 a game for the squad, only Eddie Jordan and James Bailey had lengthy NBA careers.
That year, however, is even better known for Bobby Knight’s 32-0 season as head coach at Indiana (back in the days when he was “Bobby”) as the Hoosiers won the national title.
All six of the rotation played in the NBA…Scott May, Kent Benson, Tom Abernethy, Quinn Buckner, Bob Wilkerson and Wayne Radford.
NCAA Women’s Championship
No. 1 seeds South Carolina, Stanford, Louisville, and North Carolina State are into the Sweet 16.
But there were some fireworks when it came to the 2-seeds, as 10 Creighton took out 2-Iowa, 64-62, and 10 South Dakota upset 2-Baylor 61-47, for South Dakota’s first Sweet 16 in school history.
But 2 UConn and 2 Texas survived.
--We have the final details on the Deshaun Watson from Houston to Cleveland trade, so for the record, the Texans receive: 2022 first-round pick (13th overall), 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick, 2023 third-rounder, 2024 fourth-round pick.
The Browns receive: Watson, 2024 fifth-round pick.
It is staggering to think the entire five-year, $230 million contract Watson received is guaranteed. And the contract was set up in such a way that he will make the veteran minimum of $1.035 million on base salary. So if Watson is suspended, he will only lose out on $57,500 for each week he’s suspended. [This is according to CBSSports.com.]
Texas did great in this whole deal…assuming they have good talent evaluators.
--The quarterback carousel continued on Monday, as Atlanta traded veteran Matt Ryan to the Colts in exchange for a 2022 third-round draft pick. The Falcons then quickly signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal, a reported $18.75 million, and Mariota is now the front runner to replace Ryan.
The Colts needed a QB after trading Carson Wentz to the Washington Red Clouds (Commanders) for third-round picks in 2022 and 2023. Ryan will now become the fifth different starting quarterback in coach Frank Reich’s tenure, which isn’t a normal formula for success. But it’s a good move. Ryan, who turns 37 in May, still has game and the one-time MVP (2016) is consistent, with a lifetime 94.2 passer rating. He is signed through 2023.
Those criticizing a swap of Wentz for Ryan point out the Colts traded Wentz and his $28.3 million salary cap hit in 2022 for two third-rounders. The Colts acquired Ryan and his $23.5 million hit for only one third-rounder.
But it was the off-the-field stuff that clearly bothered Indy when it came to Wentz, and Ryan’s reputation is impeccable. Every situation is different, but I’m guessing the Colts made a winning move.
Ryan to the Colts, though, precludes Indy trading for Baker Mayfield, Baker being very public in wanting to play for the Colts. Actually, kind of shockingly, Baker is in the wilderness. No one wants him.
As for Mariota, 28, he has never played a full season due to various injuries, appearing in 15 games for the Titans in 2017.
Meanwhile, the Saints have opted to bring back Jameis Winston, agreeing to a two-year deal at $28 million, $21 million guaranteed.
Winston was off to a career year in 2021, 5-2, 14 touchdown passes, just 3 INTs, but he tore the ACL in his left knee and suffered MCL damage on Oct. 31. Now the Saints hope he’s near 100 percent by the time the new season starts.
--As long rumored, Al Michaels is serving as the new voice of Thursday Night Football, streamed on Amazon, with Kirk Herbstreit seemingly the color commentator while remaining in his role at ESPN. Michaels will receive Joe Buck-type money, five years, $60-$75 million.
College Baseball Poll (records thru March 20)
Since I mentioned Wake going 3-3 against two top tens, Florida State and Georgia Tech, this is the new Coaches Poll, GT no doubt hurt by Wake taking 2 of 3 from them. Heh heh.
1. Ole Miss 15-4
2. Texas 17-5
3. Arkansas 16-3
4. Vanderbilt 17-2
5. Tennessee 19-1
6. Oregon State 14-4
7. Florida State 13-6
8. Florida 15-5
9. Oklahoma State 14-6
10. Virginia 19-1…Wake plays them this weekend.
12. Notre Dame 12-4
13. North Carolina 17-3
14. Georgia Tech 15-5
24. Clemson 15-4
So six ACC teams in top 25, but no Wake Forest. As Tony Soprano would have said, ‘Whaddya gonna do?’
--The No. 1 ranked tennis player in the world, Ash Barty, surprisingly retired from the sport at age 25.
“I just know at the moment, in my heart, for me as a person, this is right,” Barty said, her voice shaky at times, during a six-minute video posted on her Instagram account Wednesday in Australia.
Barty said it was time to “chase other dreams.” She added she no longer feels compelled to do what she knows is required to be the best she can be at tennis.
Back when she was the Wimbledon junior champion at age 15 in 2011, Barty left the tour entirely for nearly two years in 2014 because of burnout.
--Phil Mickelson is sitting out the Masters, a tradition unlike any other, on CBS. If Lefty had not been suspended, it would have only been natural for him to reappear at Augusta, where he would have found a very warm welcome among the patrons (aka fans).
Of course the PGA Tour remains mum on Mickelson’s status, but draw your own conclusions. I long reached mine.
--24-year-old William Byron picked up his 3rd NASCAR Cup Series win Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I have to admit, while I submitted my DraftKings lineup for this one, and in checking about 2/3s of the way through I was up big, due to the NCAA tournament and then golf, I didn’t actually watch any of this, but they say it was thrilling.
Ross Chastain continued his super stretch, finishing second, so he’s 3, 2, 2 the last three Cup races. Pretty, pretty good.
--Trainer Bob Baffert lost again, this time a circuit court judge denied his wish for a stay on his 90-day suspension while the case moves through the regulatory process. He has one more appeal left and that’s with the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Baffert’s attorney filing immediately.
The next few weeks are it in terms of qualifying races for the Kentucky Derby, and so the owners of some of Baffert’s horses have to decide quickly if they are to move on to a different trainer. It seems to me it’s already too late.
--SHARK! We regret to report that an Italian tourist, 56, was fatally attacked by a shark off a Caribbean island. The man was swimming near a cliff off Colombia’s San Andres island when he was bitten in the right leg by an 8-foot tiger shark, reports said. He died of severe loss, authorities said.
The incident occurred in a popular snorkeling area on the southwest side of San Andres, which is 235 miles off the coast of Nicaragua and around 470 miles north of the Colombian mainland.
A local diving instructor said the incident was the first shark attack on a tourist in San Andres. No idea how many attacks there have been on ‘locals,’ your editor can’t help but muse.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted early Sun. p.m. ….right after the Duke game…and before all the night’s action.]
Add-On up top by noon, Wed.
Baseball Quiz: Time to get back into the mood. 1) Who are the only two active players with a career on-base percentage over .400? 2) Who are the only two active pitchers with 200 wins? Answers below.
College Basketball Review
--It’s all about Saint Peter’s thus far in the NCAA Tournament. The school is about 30 minutes from where I live but I have literally been there once…like 35 years ago when Ken P. dragged me to a game at the place. This week neither one of us could remember what his connection was to a certain player on the team then, having killed that brain cell long ago.
But Saint Peter’s is a very non-descript school. No great campus, a downtown university of less than 3,000 students, many of whom commute to school. Jersey City is an interesting place that has changed a ton over the years. On the waterfront are gleaming office and apartment/condo towers with spectacular views of New York City and the harbor, the Statue of Liberty. In the interior it’s gritty. [I lived there for two years in the mid-1980s.]
But now the Peacocks are just the third 15-seed to make it to the Sweet Sixteen (the others being Oral Roberts last year and Florida Gulf Coast in 2013) after a second upset win, 70-60 over 7-seed Murray State last night.
Thursday, it was the upset for the ages, 85-79 over vaunted Kentucky, a 2-seed. The Peacocks were 18.5-point underdogs, making this the fourth-largest betting upset since the Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
The thing is, for Saint Peter’s coach Shaheen Holloway, soon to be the coach at Seton Hall (assuming Kevin Willard is the new coach at Maryland), it isn’t just one guy who got hot. In the Kentucky victory, guard Daryl Banks III scorched the Wildcats for 27, and sixth-man Doug Edert had 20, the Peacocks 18 of 21 from the free throw line…just clutch.
But then last night it was forward KC Ndefo who shined with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. The guy is only 6’7”, 195, but plays much bigger and he helped make up the difference when Banks only had six points…Edert with 13 in another strong performance off the bench.
--Speaking of Seton Hall, did I pick them for the Final Four? As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say…never mind….
--Us ACC fans were a bit on edge as North Carolina was blowing a 25-point second-half lead against defending champion, and 1-seed, Baylor Saturday. Brady Manek, who had 26 points, was ejected midway through the second half because of a flagrant foul, things immediately went south for the Tar Heels, but then after Baylor got the game into overtime, the Bears only hit 1 of 11 shots in the OT and UNC prevailed, 93-86.
R.J. Davis picked a good time to score a career-high 30 points for Carolina, all of them needed as forward Armando Bacot was bricking foul shots left and right that should have prevented overtime.
--Sunday, 2 Villanova dispatched with 7 Ohio State 71-61. ‘Nova led the nation in foul shooting at 82.5%, and today they made 17 of 20.
There are a select few in the entire world who have it by the balls and one is Villanova coach Jay Wright. He deserves everything coming to him. Two national titles, runs an ethical program, gets to work at a great school, respected by his peers, paid rather well…doesn’t get any better than that.
--And Coach K. is now 13-3 against Tom Izzo, Duke prevailing in a terrific game that was tighter than the final score…85-76…to advance to the Sweet 16 and keep Coach K’s hopes alive for a dream finish.
Heh heh…another loss for the overrated Big Ten.
--12-seed New Mexico State pulled of a biggie in defeating 5 UConn Thursday, 70-63, as it was the Teddy Allen show, Allen going off for 37 points. But Allen and Co. struggled from the field against 4 Arkansas yesterday, just 34% from the field, Allen held to 12 points, as the Razorbacks prevailed 53-48.
And then the Aggies lost their coach, Chris Jans, who is headed to Mississippi State, according to reports today.
Jans will replace Ben Howland, who failed to win an NCAA tournament game in his seven seasons in Starkville.
--Tennessee coach Rick Barnes is one of the better coaches in the game, when you look at his won-loss record, 754-395 over 35 seasons, five teams in the AP Final Top 10, including this year’s No. 5 Volunteers squad (though seeded third).
But when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, he’s been a disaster. Or as one scribe put it, he’s been “ghastly.” His final seven teams at Texas, loaded with big-time talent, never made it to the Sweet 16. And at Tennessee, he lost to 11-seed Michigan Saturday, 76-68, after losing to 12-seed Oregon State last season as a 5.
The fan base must be apoplectic.
--Speaking of poor coaching jobs, Illinois and Coach Brad Underwood have flamed out in the second round two tournaments in a row (last year as a No. 1 seed), while Houston’s Kelvin Sampson has taken his Cougars to the Sweet Sixteen three straight seasons after 5 Houston’s 68-53 dismantling of the 4-seeded Illini this afternoon.
--The Mountain West conference was out of the tournament by the end of Thursday. Wyoming was knocked out in the First Four by Indiana, Colorado State blew a 15-point first half lead against Michigan. Boise State lost to Memphis. And San Diego State was taken out by Creighton.
So the Mountain West’s first-round record going back to 2016 is 1-11.
One more….the four teams scored 63, 62, 58 and 53 points in their losses.
--Gonzaga has not looked like a national champion in its first two games.
--Florida announced it has hired San Francisco head coach Todd Golden as its next men’s basketball head coach. For the 36-year-old Golden this comes on the heels of the Dons’ 92-87 first-round loss to Murray State on Thursday. Under Golden, San Francisco had earned the school’s first NCAA Tournament bid since 1998 and first at-large bid since 1982.
Golden led the Dons to a 57-36 record over three seasons as coach. Seems like a strong hire for the Gators.
--In the NIT, Wake Forest showed up Saturday in a second-round game vs. tough VCU (22-10), the regular-season champs of the A-10, the Deacs prevailing 80-74 to improve to 25-9. The Deacs face Texas A&M in College Station on Wednesday in what will be a hostile environment for us…the winner headed to Madison Square Garden for the final four of this solid tournament. This game is huge for both, Texas A&M playing with a real chip on their shoulders after they weren’t selected for the Big Dance. [The Deacs have no right to bitch about their exclusion from the tourney.]
Two weeks ago I never thought I’d be saying this, but it seems to me that Baseball has pulled it off. I mean I was one of the hardcore fans who was down in the mouth, looking at May baseball, a 130-game schedule, total apathy, and now here we are, racing to a full season, with a very exciting sudden rush of activity (at least for some fan bases), and I really don’t think the sport will suffer.
Meaning, I’d be surprised if attendance is down, though comparisons will be difficult with some cities having been in Covid restriction mode for part of last year. Probably better this year to look at television ratings and I would expect them to be stable, if not up, slightly.
Now the sport still must address the play on the field, and it has to make some changes to speed things up, for one. That’s not going to come this season, but there’s some hope down the road in this regard.
--Fans were shocked to see free agent superstar shortstop Carlos Correa sign a 3-year, $105.3 million contract with Minnesota. Shocked!
Granted, Correa can opt out after the first year, or the second, but the Twinkies sure send a message to their fans, and they’ll pack the stands.
Around the same time of the Correa signing, the Phillies were reaching a 5-year, $100 million deal with slugger Nick Castellanos; this after signing another slugger, Kyle Schwarber, to a 4-year, $79 million contract.
So the Phillies have a helluva lineup….they’ll just have trouble fielding the ball, though most of the at-bats for Schwarber will no doubt be as a DH, he being a defensive liability.
The Braves signed three-time All-Star closer Kenley Jansen to a $16 million, one-year contract. Some wonder how much Jansen has in the tank, though the 34-year-old had 38 saves and a 2.22 ERA in 69 appearances last season for the Dodgers. In 57 games in the postseason over his long career with L.A., Jansen has a 2.13 ERA.
--As for the New York Yankees, their fans are not happy. First baseman Matt Olson signed with the Braves (after a trade with Oakland), Freddie Freeman then signed with the Dodgers (six years, $162 million), and that left the Yanks with holdover Anthony Rizzo and a bunch of guys who can DH, which made the team’s other first baseman, Luke Voit, who led the majors in home runs in the shortened 2020 season, expendable and he was traded to San Diego for pitching prospect Justin Lange.
Rizzo signed for two years, $32 million.
Yankees fans then watched Carlos Correa sign with the Twins and for good reason they’re thinking, we could have offered Correa the same deal.
Principal owner Hal Steinbrenner compounded matters by saying he wasn’t going to try to compete monetarily with the $billionaire across town, the Mets’ Steve Cohen. Not what the long-spoiled Yankee fan base wants to hear.
The last big free agent left was shortstop Trevor Story, and we learned today that he agreed to a six-year, $140 million contract with the Red Sox, which will piss off Yankees fans further.
Story, 29, is probably being moved to second base alongside shortstop Xander Bogaerts and the problem with this is that Story has literally played nothing but shortstop. So this could a little iffy at the start, though Story is an outstanding fielder and no doubt will adapt.
Aside from good home run pop, Story also stole 20 bases last season for the Rockies.
--The Cubs signed the best player in Japan these days, Seiya Suzuki, to a five-year, $85 million deal. The 27-year-old hit 38 home runs for the Hiroshima Carp last season and has hit 189 homers in nine seasons.
This is a big gamble. Good luck to Cubs fans.
--Miami agreed to a three-year, $36 million contract with outfielder Jorge Soler, MVP of last season’s World Series, bashing three home runs for Atlanta in its six-game win over Houston.
Soler, who led the A.L. with 48 homers in 2019 while he was with Kansas City, can opt out after the first two season. But nice move for the Marlins.
--The one signing no one can explain is the Colorado Rockies spending $182 million, seven years, on Kris Bryant.
Bryant, 30, is a former MVP and World Series winner, and he can hit, but the Rockies suck. And will suck with him.
As The Athletic’s Keith Law best put it: “I have no objection to owners spending money on players, but the Rockies are going to pay Bryant a lot of money to make them a more watchable last-place team.”
--On the other hand, a nice signing was the Royals inking former Cy Young pitcher Zack Greinke for one year, $13 million. Greinke was a sixth overall pick by the Royals in 2002, made his debut for the team in 2004, and won a Cy Young Award in K.C. back in 2009.
So he’s coming home to finish his career, no doubt.
--MLB has scheduled 30 additional doubleheaders to make up some of the 91 games postponed by the lockout, with the last day of the regular season extended by three days to Oct. 5.
--Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave from Major League Baseball was extended through April 16 by both MLB and the players’ association. Bauer is apparently cooperating with MLB’s investigation into the sexual assault charges filed by a Southern California woman that were then dismissed by the courts.
--The Boston Globe broke the story Saturday that an investigation into the shooting of Hall of Famer David Ortiz in June 2019 in his native Dominican Republic was carried out by drug kingpin Cesar “The Abuser” Peralta, who was extradited to Puerto Rico last December.
Former Boston Police commissioner Ed Davis conducted a six-month private investigation into the alleged murder conspiracy and Davis disclosed that the powerful and politically connected drug lord Peralta came to feel disrespected by Ortiz, prompting him to place a bounty on Ortiz’s head and sanction the “ragtag hit squad that tried to kill him.”
Ortiz, in a phone call with the Boston Globe, said he was “sad, confused, angry, all kinds of emotions” when he received the news from Davis, whom he hired to conduct the investigation, and Ric Prado, a former high-ranking CIA official who participated in the inquiry.
Davis’ findings contradict narratives presented by Dominican law enforcement officials. They first alleged that an unspecified person with an unknown motive placed a bounty on Ortiz. They quickly abandoned the theory, however, and chalked up the shooting to a case of mistaken identity, without ever implicating Peralta.
Peralta’s Miami-based lawyer, Joaquin Perez, said Peralta “had nothing to do with” the attempt on Ortiz’s life.
Perez described Ortiz and Peralta as “close friends.” Ortiz denied having any more than a casual relationship with him.
Prosecutors today are standing by the mistaken identity theory.
--We note the passing of former pitcher Ralph Terry, 86, who hurled for the Yankees and other teams, going 107-99, 3.62 for his career. His best season, and only All-Star appearance, was for his 23-12, 3.19, mark in 1962 with New York.
But Ralph Terry is best remembered for two big moments in baseball history. He yielded the 1960 Game Seven home run to Bill Mazeroski in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave the Pirates a dramatic 10-9 win and the World Series title over the Yankees.
And then in 1962, against the Giants in Candlestick Park, Willie McCovey hit a wicked line drive off Terry that landed in the mitt of the Yankees’ second baseman, Bobby Richardson, preserving a 1-0 New York victory in another Game Seven, Terry the MVP in the series, going 2-1 in three starts.
Back to 1960, George Will, in a column on the need for a pitch clock (his suggestion being 14 seconds with no runners on base, 19 with runners on), noted that the Game Seven contest lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes…for a 10-9 game…though there were astoundingly no strikeouts.
Will adds that last year’s shortest game in the World Series – Astros 7, Braves 2 – was 3 hours and 11 minutes, and there were 23 strikeouts, 45 percent of all outs.
--I can’t help but note that Wake Forest is off to a good start in its baseball season, 16-4, 3-3. That 3-3 early conference mark is pretty freakin’ good because it came against Florida State and Georgia Tech, two top tens nationally, at least in the last rankings.
The Deacs took two of three in Atlanta this weekend, including Saturday’s 27-7 win! 28 hits, 9 walks. Guess what the pitch count was for Tech? Try 263, though this was spread over eight pitchers. Wake’s Nick Kurtz went 6-for-8 with 6 RBIs.
--In a highly controversial move, the Houston Texans are finalizing a trade with Cleveland wherein the Texans are expected to receive three first-round picks, a third-round pick, and a fourth-round selection, while sending a fifth-round pick to Cleveland along with quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is then set to receive a five-year, $230 million contract. The full $230 million is guaranteed.
Yes, this is yet another example of the hypocrisy of the NFL. While a Texas grand jury declined to indict Watson on criminal charges recently for alleged sexual assault and inappropriate conduct during massage sessions, he still faces civil lawsuits filed by 22 women.
But, because there were no criminal charges, teams were interested and the Browns emerged as the surprise winner of the sweepstakes, with Carolina and Atlanta having seemingly been in the driver’s seat.
Watson said after the grand jury decision, “I’m just going to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community.”
It’s expected that he’ll still face some kind of suspension from the NFL, which has been conducting its own investigation.
So now Baker Mayfield is going to be moved, the Browns signing free agent Jacoby Brissett to a one-year deal to backup Watson.
Following the news that Watson, a Pro Bowler three straight seasons before 2021, had chosen the Browns as his preferred destination (waiving a no-trade clause), Cleveland’s odds to win the Super Bowl went from 40-1 to 20-1.
--Green Bay had put the franchise tag on star wide receiver Davante Adams, but Adams turned it down and the Packers sent him to the Raiders for a pair of 2022 draft picks, including the Raiders’ first-round pick (No. 22 overall). Adams then signed a $141.25 million contract with Las Vegas over five years, making him the highest-paid receiver in the league and reuniting him with his former college teammate, quarterback Derek Carr.
The Packers supposedly matched the Raiders’ offer but Adams wanted to play for the Raiders and with Carr. He’s been an All-Pro the last two seasons, catching 238 passes for 2,927 yards and 29 touchdowns.
You’d think Aaron Rodgers, who just signed a $50 million per year contract with the Packers would have been upset to lose his favorite target, but he was aware Adams was moving on before signing his own massive contract. The Packers have options in how they rebuild at wide receiver, including the draft, which is loaded with solid prospects at the position.
--Boy, I like what my Jets have been doing in the free agent market. Picking up one quality piece after another, the latest defensive end Jacob Martin, who was an effective pass rusher for the Texans.
The Jets aren’t signing the stars in the free-agent class, but they are adding depth in deals that bring in a solid offensive lineman, a tight end, and major help in the defensive backfield.
They also re-signed receiver Braxton Berrios, running back Tevin Coleman, and backup quarterback Joe Flacco.
--Since last Chat, Buffalo signed eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller to a six-year deal worth $120 million, with $51.5 million guaranteed. And the Bills inked former Tampa Bay tight end O.J. Howard to a one-year contract that could be worth up to $5 million. He’ll be a complement to tight end Dawson Knox, who just had a career season, catching 49 passes and becoming a go-to target for quarterback Josh Allen.
--At The Valspar Championship this weekend in Palm Harbor, Fla., the top two on the leaderboard after three rounds won’t exactly add to the ‘gate’ for the final round, both Davis Riley and Matthew NeSmith looking for their first PGA Tour wins, but at least we had Justin Thomas and Sam Burns in touch with the leaders.
And these were the four in the end…rather unusual. I was following online throughout, but not watching ‘Live.’ You know, I was watching hoops. But when I saw how tight it was I tuned in for the final two holes and Davis Riley, in his 25th PGA Tour start, showed amazing guts, recovering from an early-round triple bogey to force a playoff with Sam Burns.
And Burns took it on the second hole of sudden death with a spectacular birdie putt from the fringe for win No. 3 on Tour, his first being at the same event a year ago. A lot of coin is going to be dropped on him for the majors this year.
--We’re all just waiting around for The Masters, a tradition unlike any other, on CBS, in three weeks. I have trouble getting into next week’s WGC Match Play event in Austin, Texas, though I like the course.
--This week’s tournament was the 300th of Dustin Johnson’s career on the PGA Tour. While he didn’t have a good event this week, finishing T39, in 300 starts he has 24 wins, 113 top-10s and made 246 cuts. He has also won on Tour in each of the last 14 seasons.
As Ronald Reagan would have said, reading the Monday morning sports pages, Nancy preparing scrambled eggs and toast as she rushed to get together with Barbara Sinatra, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--LIV Golf, the Saudi Arabia-backed group fronted by Greg Norman, announced the formal creation of its league and an inaugural schedule Wednesday.
The eight-tournament, $255 million series – called the LIV Golf Invitational – will kick off at the Centurion Club outside of London the week before the U.S. Open starting June 9. Each event will be a three-round, 54-hole competition with no cuts. There will also be shotgun starts in order to fit the events in a shorter time window, along with a team component, with 48 players divided between 12 squads.
Four of the events will be held in the United States. Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland (July 1-3), Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (July 29-31), the International in Boston (Sept. 2-4) and Rich Harvest Farms in Chicago (Sept. 16-180. Other hosts include Bangkok, and Jeddah, S.A. A site for a final event has yet to be announced.
Each of the first seven events will boast $25 million purses, $20 million for individual prizes and another $5 million for the team competition. The eighth event will offer $30 million for the top three players of the season.
Norman said: “Our events are truly additive to the world of golf.”
BUT…Wednesday’s announcement of the series did not include the names of any players who had committed to playing the events. And no mention of a broadcast partner.
As in I couldn’t give a flying [blank] about this whole thing, as I channel Gonzaga’s Drew Timme and his expletive-laced post-game comments from last night.
We had the draw for the quarterfinals, with the first of the two legs April 5-6, and the Premier League is well represented.
Chelsea v. Real Madrid
Manchester City v. Atletico Madrid
Benfica v. Liverpool
Villarreal v. Bayern Munich
The Champions League final is Saturday, May 28, in Paris after it was moved from St. Petersburg.
--There was limited Premier League play this weekend owing to F.A. Cup action. But today, Tottenham had a big 3-1 win over West Ham, powered by Son Heung-min’s two scores.
And with Man City’s recent 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace, that opened the door for Liverpool. Now look.
Standings…Played (of 38) – Points
1. City 29 – 70
2. Liverpool 29 – 69
3. Chelsea 28 – 59
4. Arsenal 28 – 54
5. Tottenham 29 – 51 …still in it, barely, for the fourth CL slot
6. Man U 29 – 50
Meanwhile, Chelsea is fielding multiple offers for the club, including from the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs.
Roman Abramovich’s attempt to sell Chelsea has been halted after he was sanctioned by the UK government.
The Ricketts group bid also includes hedge fund titan Ken Griffin.
--Well, she did it. Mikaela Shiffrin won the overall 2021-22 World Cup title, after a rather surprising win in the season-ending downhill at Courchevel (her first win in the event in two years), while picking up a second-place finish in a super-G race. It is her fourth overall title, tying her for the American record held by Lindsey Vonn. Annemarie Moser-Proll of Austria is the only woman with more, six.
Shiffrin, in a phone interview with the New York Times’ Bill Pennington, said after that she had a confusing season.
“Some days it doesn’t work out; it just happened to be at the races that most people watch every four years. You can try too hard and it ends up backfiring, and after 11 years of my career, I know that and I didn’t find the right balance in China,” Shiffrin said.
I’m glad she got it back together after Beijing. Clear the head and go after Vonn’s all-time titles record next season. She’s up to 74 vs. Vonn’s 82.
Marco Odermatt of Switzerland handily won the men’s overall title. Shiffrin’s boyfriend, Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, was second.
--Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas won the women’s 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships on Thursday and tennis legend Martina Navratilova said in an interview that Thomas should have an “asterisk” next to her name
Navratilova said the national organization needs to level the playing field for its athletes.
“It’s not about excluding transgender women from winning ever,” said Martina. “But it is about not allowing them to win when they were not anywhere near winning as men.”
“But right now, the rules are what they are. Maybe put an asterisk there, if she starts breaking records left and right,” Navratilova said.
Thomas won the 500 handily.
But then she followed up the win with a fifth in the 200-yard free, Friday, and an eighth in the 100 yesterday.
Thomas declined to participate in the NCAA’s supposedly mandatory press conference for race winners, but she told ESPN in brief comments that she tries to ignore the attention. There was a noted lack of enthusiasm from fans in attendance when she was introduced on the podium as the national champion.
Virginia, by the way, won its second straight national championship.
-Brad K. passed along the story of the Salt Lake City zoo that is being sued after a peacock attacked four children over two days this month. One of the children, according to the family suing the Hogle Zoo, said their two-year-old girl is suffering from emotional distress and scarring.
Just another reason not to go outside, boys and girls, except for pizza and beer.
--Speaking of pizza, we note the passing of legendary Brooklyn pizzamaker Dom De Marco, patriarch of the borough’s legendary Di Fara Pizza, who died after 57 years at the helm of the renowned eatery routinely acclaimed as the city’s No. 1 pizzeria. He was 85. He counted among his fans Leonardo DiCaprio and Tony Bennett.
I can’t say I ever went there, but I was drooling over the pictures I saw of his pizza and they say it was truly different. He prepared the pizzas himself, with imported cheese, fresh basil and top-quality olive oil. So those are your tips.
Top 3 songs for the week of 3/21/70: #1 “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Simon & Garfunkel) #2 “The Rapper” (The Jaggerz) #3 “Give Me Just A Little More Time” (Chairmen of The Board)…and…#4 “Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” (John Ono Lennon) #5 “Rainy Night In Georgia” (Brook Benton…outstanding…) #6 “Let It Be” (The Beatles…heard of them…) #7 “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (Hollies) #8 “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” (Edison Lighthouse) #9 “Evil Ways” (Santana) #10 “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” (The Delfonics…outstanding week…A+…)
Baseball Quiz Answers: 1) Only two active players with a .400 on-base percentage: Mike Trout (.4188) and Joey Votto (.4165). Bryce Harper is at .3916, and the underrated Paul Goldschmidt has a .3893 career OBP. 2) 200 wins: Justin Verlander (226), Zack Greinke (219). Max Scherzer has 190, Clayton Kershaw 185, and Adam Wainwright 184.
Add-On up top by noon, Wed.