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Raducanu's Win for the Ages
Add-On…posted late Wed. a.m.
Folks, a ton going on these days…the last five months, to be exact. But I see a light at the end of the tunnel by October (hopefully).
Just clearing off the table of a few items….
--After a stirring Sunday night win over the Yankees, with Francisco Lindor slamming three home runs, the Mets then laid an egg against a team they are chasing for a wild card spot, the Cardinals, losing the last two nights 7-0 and 7-6.
At 72-74, the Metropolitans don’t deserve to make the playoffs in the first place, but they could have easily been right there had manager Luis Rojas not made three awful game decisions that clearly cost his club these last two weeks. Just frustrating as hell for us fans.
NL Wild Card standings thru Tuesday….
Dodgers 93-53… +17
Cardinals 75-69… --
Reds 75-70… 0.5
Padres 74-70… 1
Phillies 72-72… 3
Mets 72-74… 4
--The surprising San Francisco Giants became the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season, hitting four home runs to beat the Padres 9-1 on Monday night for their season-high eighth consecutive victory.
After finishing 29-31 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Giants have turned things around in manager Gabe Kapler’s second year.
The Giants won again on Tuesday and now sit at 95-50.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers became the second team to clinch a postseason berth, officially extending their streak of playoff appearances to nine seasons, but they remain 2 ½ back of the Giants in the NL West.
--The Yankees welcomed the return of Gerrit Cole after his little issue, Tuesday, against the Orioles, and Cole threw five innings of one-run ball, improving to 15-7, 2.75, as the Yanks won 7-2.
But the streaking Blue Jays have won 12 of their last 14, riding the hot bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is having a near Triple Crown season.
Talk about tight, check this out….
AL Wild Card standings
Blue Jays 81-64… --
Yankees 81-64… --
Red Sox 82-65… --
Mariners 78-67… 3
A’s 77-67… 3.5
--The big game this Saturday is 1 Alabama at 11 Florida. 22 Auburn at 10 Penn State is another one.
--But last Sunday I wrote that after losing, embarrassingly, to Stanford 42-28, USC fans were again calling for the head of coach Clay Helton, and indeed he was fired the next day. As described by one Los Angeles scribe, “There were sloppy mistakes and ill-timed penalties, a stagnant offense and a defense that lacked discipline. The stands were draining before the fourth quarter, with USC trailing by four scores. The sideline was lifeless, sending an ominous message to the university decision makers watching from on high.”
That night, Helton spoke like a coach who assumed he still had time. “We didn’t play our best, but I know this, at the end of the season, see where we’re at,” he said. “See where we’re at.”
Sorry. Don’t have time for that.
USC athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement Monday: “As I committed to upon my arrival at USC, during the past two offseasons we provided every resource necessary for our football program to compete for championships. The added resources carried significantly increased expectations for our team’s performance, and it is already evident that, despite the enhancements, those expectations would not be met without a change in leadership.”
Associate head coach Donte Williams is set to serve as USC’s interim coach. He is the first Black coach in Trojans’ football history. Bohn said he made the decision to fire Helton and elevate Williams with the hope of salvaging the Trojans’ 2021 campaign.
--The New Orleans Saints have had eight members of the organization test positive for Covid-19, calling into question their status for Sunday’s game against Carolina.
The total includes six offensive coaches, one player and a nutritionist, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Saints placed wide receiver Michael Thomas on the reserve/Covid-19 list Tuesday. Thomas was already on the physically unable to perform list and is not eligible to return to practice until Week 7 at the earliest. Thomas has been doing his rehab in Fort Worth, Texas, with the team, which has been practicing at TCU’s facility after being displaced by Hurricane Ida.
For now, the entire team is operating under the NFL’s enhanced mitigation protocols, meaning mandatory masking inside facilities, daily testing, no in-person meetings and grab-and-go meals.
If they are asymptomatic, vaccinated players and personnel can return when they provide two negative test results 24 hours apart, per NFL protocols. Unvaccinated players and personnel who test positive must isolate for at least 10 days.
--The Raiders beat the Ravens in stirring fashion at the team’s first game with fans in Las Vegas Monday night, 33-27, on a Derek Carr to Zay Jones 31-yard touchdown pass in overtime.
Carr’s second TD pass of the game came after Carl Nassib’s strip-sack of Lamar Jackson at the Ravens 27. Nassib made big news this offseason when he became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.
After tying the game at 27-27 on a Daniel Carlson 55-yard field goal with 0:02 left in the fourth quarter, Carr threw an interception in the opening possession of OT after driving to the 1.
Las Vegas trailed 14-0 early, ending a 98-game, regular-season win streak for the Ravens when leading by at least 14 points dating to 2004.
The loss also capped a rough stretch for Baltimore, who lost running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, as well as star cornerback Marcus Peters, for the season with injuries in training camp.
--The 49ers suffered a big blow as starting running back Raheem Mostert is out for the season due to a knee injury, though sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries as Mostert’s replacement in Sunday’s 41-33 win over the Lions.
--Giants fans are already talking of a dismal season after a rather pathetic opening loss, 27-13 to the Broncos.
It’s viewed as make-or-break for Giants third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, who lost his 18th fumble in the contest.
--It looks like the Rams finally have a quarterback who can take them to the promised land in Matthew Stafford. He was spectacular in his first game in L.A., 20 of 26, 321 yards with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 156.1 – just shy of a “perfect” 158.3.
Stafford threw two touchdowns of 50-plus yards, one to Van Jefferson, the other to Cooper Kupp; those two strikes matching the Rams’ season total for 2020.
The Rams traded for Stafford in January, sending quarterback Jared Goff and a package of draft picks to the Lions.
“It’s a new experience for me, new place, new stadium, new fans, the whole deal, but this team has embraced me and I really appreciate that,” Stafford said. “They wrapped their arms around me, and it felt good to go out there and play with them tonight.”
--How Urban Meyer reacts to losing down in Jacksonville this season will be an interesting story line. The Jags did not look good in their opener, a 37-21 loss to the Houston Texans. We aren’t talking Tampa Bay or Kansas City. We’re talking the Deshaun Watson-less Texans.
Consider this. Meyer is likely to finish this season with more losses than he had in seven years at Ohio State (nine).
--Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones looked solid, despite New England’s 17-16 loss to Miami at Gillette Stadium.
Jones finished 29/39, 281, 1-0, 102.6 (better than Trevor Lawrence’s 3 picks and 70.1).
--The new 2021-22 wraparound season starts this week at Silverado Resort and Spa North, Napa, California, before the following week’s excitement at the Ryder Cup.
--Wake Forest’s Will Zalatoris was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
Zalatoris joined the tour as a special temporary member last November and proceeded to card eight top-10 finishes, making 21 cuts in 25 starts, highlighted by a runner-up at the 2021 Masters.
No doubt he should break through in the win column soon, maybe this week in Napa!
--The U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Tuesday that it has offered the respective players’ unions for the U.S. women’s national team and the U.S. men’s side identical proposals for a new collective bargaining agreement.
In a statement, the USSF said that this was done with the goal of aligning the men’s and women’s senior national teams under “a single collective bargaining agreement (CBA) structure.”
The USSF added in its statement that it will not agree to a CBA with either union that doesn’t “take the important step of equalizing FIFA World Cup prize money.” That issue has been a sticking point with players on the USWNT, 28 of which are currently engaged in a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination over violations of the Equal Pay Act.
FIFA has proposed awarding $440 million in prize money to teams that take part in the men’s 2022 World Cup, up from $400 million in 2018. The proposed prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup is $60 million, up from $38 million in 2019, but still far behind the men’s tournament. That difference in compensation forms one plank of the USWNT’s equal pay claims.
But in pushing for a single CBA, a source told ESPN that the FIFA bonus money issue was being “used as a weapon” against the men’s union to make the USSF look like “the good guy.”
“The way they want to solve the women’s problem is not by increasing the women’s income fairly,” the source said. “It’s by cutting (the men’s CBA) down to the (women’s) 2017 to 2021 deal numbers.”
--We note the passing of comedian Norm Macdonald, 61, after a lengthy private battle with cancer.
Macdonald started his comedy career as a writer on “Roseanne” before being hired at “SNL” in 1993, where he stayed for five years. [The guy actually was a garbageman in Canada, having failed to graduate from high school, before he realized he had a talent.]
When Macdonald was taken off the “Weekend Update” desk in 1998, the network blamed low ratings, but the comedian took it personally, publicly accusing Don Ohlmeyer, the president of NBC West Coast, of firing him over jokes about O.J. Simpson; Ohlmeyer a friend and supporter of his.
“He thinks of himself as a straight shooter, even though he’s a liar and a thug,” Macdonald told the Daily News of Ohlmeyer in 1998.
Macdonald had won over critics and pumped some life into what was then a 20-year-old show, with his cruelly funny impressions of a cantankerous then-Sen. Bob Dole and his oft-disturbing takes on current events. [Dole said yesterday that he loved Macdonald’s performances.]
In the latter years of his career, Macdonald starred in his own comedy series, “The Norm Show,” from 1999 to 2001.
He was also a popular late-night guest, particularly “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.”
“No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald,” tweeted Jon Stewart. “Hilarious and unique. F—k cancer.”
“Of the many addictive rabbit holes you can disappear down on the internet, the most pleasurable is ‘Norm Macdonald chat show appearances,’” wrote director Edgar Wright. “Thanks for all the laughs, Norm, very sorry to see you go.”
Next Bar Chat, late Sunday p.m.
[Posted Sunday p.m., prior to Mets-Yankees]
I’ll have an Add-On sometime Wednesday by noon.
Baseball Quiz: 1) Name the only five in baseball history to have 11 or more consecutive seasons with 100 runs scored. 2) Name the only three to lead the league in runs scored 6 or more seasons (all three are different from the first question). Answers below.
I made a commitment to watch the entire Women’s Final, uninterrupted, and it was a terrific display put on by the two teenagers, 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez and 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, Raducanu with the stunning 6-4, 6-3 win; the first Grand Slam final between teenagers since 1999.
Stunning because Raducanu completed an improbable run for her first Grand Slam title. She became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam in the sport’s Open era, and she did it without conceding a set over 10 matches – three in the qualifying phase to simply earn a spot in the 128-player field, and seven during the tournament.
For the achievement, the recent high school graduate collects a check for $2.5 million. Fernandez earned $1.25 million as runner-up.
Raducanu, whose mother is Chinese and father is Romanian, became the first British woman since Virginia Wade, 1977, to win a Grand Slam.
But it was Fernandez who stole the post-match show when, after the formal on-court interview, asked for the microphone back and paid tribute to New York.
“I know this day was especially hard for New Yorkers and everyone around the United States. I just hope I can be as strong and as resilient as New York has been the past 20 years. Thank you for always having my back. Thank you for cheering for me. I love you, New York.”
“The awareness and composure that she showed in that speech was just incredible,” said Patrick McEnroe, the former player and ESPN analyst. “She took a moment to acknowledge a somber event and the world around her. That was something.”
For good reason, tennis fans have focused on the men’s side and the Big Three the last decade, as once you got beyond Serena, and now an unpredictable Naomi Osaka, there was little star power (stars with ‘juice’) on the other side.
But this U.S. Open proved to be a coming out party for a new generation of super-cool young women, including the likes of Coco Gauff. Suddenly, the future of women’s tennis is shining bright.
Well, on the men’s side, could Novak Djokovic complete the Grand Slam against No. 2 Daniil Medvedev?
Nope. Djokovic went down in straight sets…6-4, 6-4, 6-4…Medvedev’s first Slam title.
This kind of sucks. No offense, Rod Laver, who was in attendance and sees his 1969 Slam remain the only one in the modern era, but the sport needs as much buzz as possible.
--The Mets and Yankees had an important 3-game Subway Series at Citi Field this weekend, critical for each club’s playoff chances, and the Mets took the opener, 10-3, as Mets’ announcer Keith Hernandez summed it up best…the Yanks played like Pepe Le Pew…as in they stunk it up royally.
The loss meant that the Yankees, incredibly, had lost 11 of 13 after winning 13 straight. What a season of ups and downs for them, like no other.
Yet they pulled out an 8-7 win Saturday night, with the emotions of 20 years ago flooding back on 9/11 for many of us. Once again, though, it was atrocious managing by the Mets’ Luis Rojas, as he took out reliever Seth Lugo, who threw all of seven pitches in the seventh of a 7-5 ballgame, Mets in front, when Lugo is used to going multiple innings (though not as much this season). Rojas instead brought in Trevor May and the Yanks rallied for the win.
The Mets have lost 14 of their last 15 one-run games!
--And we have a new major-league record nine no-hitters this season, after the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader combined on the no-no against the Indians last night, 3-0.
Burnes, 10-4, 2.25, threw a career-high 115 pitches over his eight innings, fanning 14, and it’s understandable he was relieved before the ninth. No one can question that one.
Burnes, in terms of the Cy Young vote, also has 210 strikeouts in 152 innings.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee, 88-55, is a franchise-record 33 games over .500, with a magic number of eight entering today’s play.
--Actually, it is one helluva Cy Young race in the NL this year. Max Scherzer, Zack Wheeler, Walker Buehler, and…Julio Urias.
In a 3-0 win over the Padres Friday night, Urias threw seven scoreless to move to 17-3, 2.98.
Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw returns after over two months on the IL, with a start Monday against Arizona.
Tony Gonsolin made his return last Thursday in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals.
But the Dodgers entered play Sunday 2 ½ back of the once-again streaking Giants.
And they still are, both teams winning today.
San Francisco 93-50…seven straight
Los Angeles 91-53…2.5
Except in L.A.’s 8-0 win over the Padres, Max Scherzer enhanced his Cy Young chances bigly…seven perfect innings, one hit over 8, 9 strikeouts, 0 walks…now 14-4, 2.17.
How much do Dodgers fans love this late-season acquisition?!
[I’ll get into the NL wild card next time.]
--Shohei Ohtani has struggled down the stretch, including getting shelled for the second time in three outings on Friday night in a 10-5 loss to the Astros; Ohtani yielding six earned in 3 1/3, his first start since throwing 117 pitches in a winning effort. He’s now 9-2, 3.36, on the mound.
At the plate, after batting .202 in August, he entered play today at .192 for September, though he did hit home run No. 44 on Friday, one ahead of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.* for the major-league lead.
As a fan, I desperately want him to hit the 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored marks, and he’s at 94 in the former, 91 in the latter.
*Guerrero hit No. 44 today in a 22-7 rout of the Orioles, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. with two home runs and 7 RBIs.
--With Toronto’s win, heading into tonight’s Mets-Yankees contest, Boston losing, it’s a bit of a logjam for the AL wild card….
Boston 81-64… --
Toronto 80-63… --
Yankees 79-63… 0.5
Seattle 77-66… 3
Oakland 77-66… 3
--The Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer will miss the rest of the season and the playoffs, an MLB official said Friday, bringing to an end a disastrous year for one of last off-season’s biggest free agent acquisitions.
The eighth and final extension of Bauer’s paid leave this season was the result of an agreement between baseball and the players’ union. With just weeks left in the Dodgers’ schedule and MLB’s investigation of Bauer ongoing, there was no real possibility of Bauer returning to play this season.
Bauer’s agents, though, wrote the following in their statement that started out conciliatory, then this: “He continues to cooperate with the MLB investigation and refute the baseless allegations against him.”
Photo evidence is hardly ‘baseless.’
Even if Bauer is not criminally charged, MLB could levy a lengthy suspension against him based on its joint domestic violence and sexual assault policy with the players’ union.
--Derek Jeter, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker were enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, along with Marvin Miller, with Jeter saying, “Thank you to the baseball writers, all but one of you who voted for me!”
Simmons paid tribute to Miller.
“Marvin Miller made so much possible for every major league player from my era to the present and the future,” the former catcher said. “I could not be more proud to enter this great hall with this great man. Even though my path has been on the longer side, I wouldn’t change a thing. However we get here none of us arrives alone. I’m no exception.”
Miller, head of the MLB Players Association from 1966-83, wrote in 2008: “One thing a trade union leader learns to do is how to count votes in advance. Whenever I took one look at what I was faced with, it was obvious to me it was not gonna happen. If considered and elected, I will not appear for the induction if I’m alive. If they proceed to try to do this posthumously, my family is prepared to deal with that.”
The family didn’t attend. Instead, Don Fehr, who was hired by Miller to be the union’s general counsel in 1977 and succeeded him eight years later, had the honor.
“Of all the players I had the privilege to represent, I want to thank you Marvin,” said Fehr. “Baseball was not the same after your tenure as it was before. It was and is much better for everyone. You brought out the best of us and you did us proud.”
College Football Review
--Only a few big games in Week Two, as it was cupcake Saturday for many of the top programs.
No. 1 Alabama whipped Mercer, 48-14; 2 Georgia blasted UAB (not exactly a cupcake, I hasten to add) 56-7; and 4 Oklahoma annihilated Western Carolina 76-0, outgaining the Catamounts 624-178.
6 Clemson beat South Carolina State 49-3, and 7 Cincinnati took down Murray State 42-7.
But then we had 3 Ohio State, falling at home to 12 Oregon, 35-28, in a massive win not just for the Ducks (quack quack) but also the Pac-12 and their hopes of landing a playoff spot.
Ohio State outgained Oregon 612-505, but it was the C.J. Verdell show as he rushed 20 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns, and caught three passes for 34 more and another TD.
Boston College transfer Anthony Brown was only 17 of 35 through the air for the Ducks, but he tossed two touchdowns and didn’t cough it up, plus he rushed for 65 yards.
OSU had its chances to tie it late but the Oregon ‘D’ tightened up at the right time.
The Buckeyes’ last regular-season loss came in October 2018 to Purdue.
5 Texas A&M avoided an upset at Colorado, 10-7, on a late touchdown.
8 Notre Dame hardly looked like a top ten team in edging Toledo 32-29, as the Fighting Irish committed three turnovers. Mark R.’s dreams of a playoff bid are already out the window.
[I’m assuming we still just have four teams in the CFP this year, though I realize that could change.]
9 Iowa State outgained 10 Iowa 339-173, but the Cyclones turned it over four times, three on Brock Purdy interceptions, and the Hawkeyes took advantage of the mistakes, including a fumble return for a touchdown, as Iowa won it 27-17. A killer loss early for ISU, and the sixth straight win for Iowa in the series, this being the first ever to feature two ranked teams.
In other games….
11 Penn State beat Ball State 44-13.
USC fans are again calling for coach Clay Helton’s head as the 14th-ranked Trojans laid an egg against Stanford, and a rookie quarterback, 42-28.
15 Texas was upset by Arkansas 40-21, though the Razorbacks are on the rise.
17 Coastal Carolina did what it had to do in defeating Kansas, 49-22.
22 Miami needed a late field goal to hold off Appalachian State, 25-23.
Pitt is 2-0 with a nice win at Tennessee, 41-34.
Rutgers’ defense stepped up and the Scarlet Knights are 2-0 with an important 17-7 win at Syracuse. Tommy DeVito, formerly with the Four Seasons, threw three interceptions for the Orange. But once again, Rutgers’ offense was far from impressive.
San Diego State raced off to a 35-7 halftime lead over Arizona, outgaining the Wildcats 346-106, and the Aztecs cruised, 38-14. Boy, Arizona’s program is truly in the dumper.
And Wake Forest is 2-0 after defeating Norfolk State 41-16. Yup, Old Dominion and Norfolk State to open the season.
But next week the Deacs host Florida State. All the Seminoles did this week was lose to FCS Jacksonville State on a last-second Hail Mary, that FSU disgracefully failed to set up properly for. Yes, the ACC totally blows this season.
And we have a new AP Top Ten….
1. Alabama (60) 2-0
2. Georgia (3) 2-0
3. Oklahoma 2-0
4. Oregon 2-0….time to get out the Duckwear…quack quack…
5. Iowa 2-0…not that good
6. Clemson 1-1
7. Texas A&M 2-0
8. Cincinnati 2-0
9. Ohio State 1-1
10. Penn State 2-0…see No. 5
11. Florida 2-0
12. Notre Dame 2-0
13. UCLA 2-0
14. Iowa State 1-1
15. Virginia Tech 2-0
16. Coastal Carolina 2-0…Johnny Mac, one step at a time…
17. Mississippi 2-0
20. Arkansas 2-0…well-deserved…and first appearance in five years…
[Another NFL season and another reminder, I can’t possibly follow everything and do the other stuff I do on Sundays.]
--In Thursday’s NFL opener, there was Tom Brady with 1:24 to go and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers down one point to Dallas, the Cowboys attempting to pull off the upset.
But the 44-year-old once again found a way to win, as Brady maneuvered the Bucs into position for a Ryan Succop 36-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining, Tampa Bay taking it 31-29.
Brady was far from perfect, 32/50, 379, 4-2, 97.0, but he had some support in Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski, the three combining for 22 catches, 316 yards and the four touchdowns.
For Brady it was the 100th time he has thrown for 300-plus yards, joining Drew Brees as the only players to do so.
Thursday’s game was also Brady’s 40th fourth-quarter comeback, second to Peyton Manning’s 43.
For the Cowboys, Dak Prescott looked strong in his first start since his severe, season-ending ankle injury early last year, 42/58, 403, 3-1, 101.4.
The Bucs are hoping to become the first team to repeat as champions since Brady led the 2003 and 2004 Patriots to consecutive titles.
NBC’s Thursday night football telecast was viewed by 24.4 million, with another 1.6 million streaming the telecast on various platforms, according to Nielsen.
The total figure of 26 million is 20% higher than last year’s 21.6 million for the opener between the Chief and Texans, and it’s the highest for an NFL opener since 2015.
--Today, my Jets went down to Charlotte to face former QB Sam Darnold and the Panthers, and the No. 3 overall selection in the NFL Draft for New York, Zach Wilson, was just fine, all things considered. After a slow start, Wilson finished 20/37, 258, 2-1, 82.9, but the Jets lost 19-14, as Darnold threw for 234 yards in the first half (but then only 45 the rest of the way).
The difference was the Panthers have Christian McCaffrey and the Jets don’t. McCaffrey rushed for 98 yards on 21 carries and caught nine passes for 89. That’s a nice day’s work.
But Wilson showed he’s got the goods, it just takes time, and he needs an offensive line and in the first half, they were godawful, the Jets with only 45 yards rushing for the game.
And then they lost their best lineman, Mekti Becton, to an apparent severe knee injury.
--The Giants, playing at home, took on the Broncos and kind of sucked, losing 27-13.
Saquon Barkley returned and had all of 26 yards on 10 carries. Denver’s Teddy Bridgewater outplayed New York’s Daniel Jones and there you go.
--The Eagles beat the Falcons 32-6, as Jalen Hurts had a rather outstanding start to the season, 27/35, 264, 3-0, 126.4, and another 62 on the ground…Lamar Jackson like, you might say.
--The Steelers beat the Bills in Buffalo, 23-16, despite Buffalo outgaining Pittsburgh 371-252; the Steelers taking advantage of a blocked punt for a touchdown.
--Arizona whipped Tennessee 38-13, as Chandler Jones had five sacks, three in the first quarter, and quarterback Kyler Murray threw for four touchdowns and ran for another.
For the Titans, the normally reliable Ryan Tannehill had a nightmare day, throwing an INT and fumbling it away two times (courtesy of Chandler Jones).
The game also saw the debut of Summit’s Michael Badgley for the Titans and the placekicker, released a few weeks ago by the Chargers after a disappointing 2020, missed an extra point and his lone field goal attempt. Oh, the travails of an NFL placekicker. I hope Tennessee gives him at least one more shot. Otherwise, Badgley is likely to live a vagabond existence the next few years.
Back to Chandler Jones, his day is like that of an MLB ballplayer their first week, projecting 640 RBIs for the season after a big game or two…only with a 17-game NFL schedule we’re talking 85 sacks…the official record for a season being 22 ½.
--Trevor Lawrence made his debut for Jacksonville and promptly threw three picks, 28/51, 332, 3-3, 70.1 overall, as the Jags, 3-point favorites coming in, lost to the Texans 37-21.
Tyrod Taylor, in place of Deshaun Watson, was a solid 21/33, 291, 2-0, 112.1, plus 40 yards on the ground.
--The Chargers beat the WFT 20-16.
--Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes, the Seahawks beating Senor Wences and the Colts on the road, 28-16.
--Lastly, as I go to post, Kansas City came from down 29-20 to Cleveland in the fourth with two touchdowns from Patrick Mahomes to prevail 33-29 (Mahomes with three overall).
Tyreek Hill caught 11 of Mahomes’ throws for 197 yards and a score.
--After I posted last Wednesday morning, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker named his six captain’s picks…Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Daniel Berger and Harris English. A nice group, but four Ryder Cup rookies.
Passed over was Patrick Reed, who was 11th in the final U.S. team standings, and Stricker said this was his first, and toughest, phone call.
It came down to the uncertainty over Reed’s health after his hospitalization for bilateral pneumonia and his lack of tournament play since.
Stricker said on the phone call that Reed “took it like a true champion, and I apologized many times to him. Just wanted to make sure he knew that it was a very difficult decision.”
Reed is 7-3-2 in three Ryder Cups, including a perfect 3-0-0 in singles play.
The six captain’s picks join automatic qualifiers Collin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay and Brooks Koepka.
So far, it appears Koepka’s wrist issue will not be a problem.
Meanwhile, as Dr. W. reminds me, having viewed the Solheim Cup (which I didn’t), it’s all about putting, which Kevin Na fans are pointing to as the reason why he should have been selected.
As for Team Europe, Billy Horschel won the European Tour’s flagship tournament, the BMW PGA Championship, one shot over Englishman Laurie Canter, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Kind of shockingly, Horschel becomes just the second American to win the title, the other Arnold Palmer.
But this was all about the Euro Ryder Cup team, and afterwards, Captain Padraig Harrington selected Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Shane Lowry, with Justin Rose left off, after Rose failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
So these three join Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Bernd Wiesberger, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood, who barely made it on points.
--Golf Digest’s John Feinstein says Jon Rahm, who was named Player of the Year by the PGA of America, also deserves to win the vote from PGA Tour members who played at least 15 times during the year.
“The reason is simple: performance in major championships.”
Actually, it’s a wipeout…..
Calendar year 2021…the six biggies
The Players…Rahm T9…Cantlay Cut
The Masters…Rahm T5…Cantlay Cut
PGA Championship…Rahm T8…Cantlay T23
US Open…Rahm 1st…Cantlay T15
The Open Championship…Rahm T3…Cantlay Cut
Tour Championship…Rahm 2…Cantlay 1st
But there’s a lot of pressure within the PGA Tour to award their season-long champion, and for the 2020-21 season, Cantlay won four events, Rahm just the US Open.
Play resumed after a break for World Cup qualifying matches, and it was all about Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United. After a 12-year absence from Old Trafford, all Ronaldo did was score twice in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, thrilling the Man U faithful. The excitement is back there for sure…and it’s good for the league.
Even if it hurts my Tottenham boys, who after starting the campaign with three consecutive 1-0 wins, were blown out by Crystal Palace 3-0.
In other contests, Man City beat Leicester 1-0, Chelsea shutout Aston Villa 3-0, and today, Liverpool beat Leeds 3-0.
Martin Truex Jr. won Saturday night’s Cup Series race at Richmond, his third in the last five races here. Denny Hamlin finished second and Christopher Bell third as it was a 1-2-3 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing.
It was Truex’ fourth win of the season and the 31st of his career as he punched his ticket into the next round of the playoffs.
William Byron and Michael McDowell, at 15 and 16 in the playoff standings, are facing elimination next week at Bristol, along with two others as the field is winnowed from 16 to 12.
In Formula One, we almost had a horrific tragedy today at the Italian Grand Prix, when the top two in the sport, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, collided, with Verstappen’s car launching over the inside curb and the right rear tire hitting the top of Hamilton’s helmet, but it was deflected by the halo – a titanium hoop designed to protect the driver’s head, recently introduced – and then onto the front of his car.
Hamilton said hours after that his neck was “in a little bit of pain” and that it was getting worse as the adrenalin wore off.
“Thank God for the halo. That ultimately saved me. And saved my neck.”
Verstappen walked away from the wreck and did not check on his rival…cue Jeff Spicoli…
--Joe Drape / New York Times
“The embattled horse trainer Bob Baffert got bad news on Friday from two prominent corners of the horse racing world.
“Churchill Downs warned horse owners that they were putting their Kentucky Derby dreams in jeopardy if Baffert continued as their trainer while he was still suspended as a result of Medina Spirit’s positive drug test after this year’s Derby.
“And the New York Racing Association, determined to have the final word on who is allowed to compete on its racetracks, charged Baffert with ‘conduct that is detrimental’ to the sport and ‘potentially injurious’ to both horses and riders – its second attempt to suspend him.
“The warning from Churchill Downs appeared to be aimed directly at Baffert and the horse owners who employ him.
“Horses earn their way into the Derby starting gate by competing in a series of prep races in which points are awarded for top finishes. These ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ races will begin in earnest on Sept. 18 at Churchill Downs and determine which horses earn one of 20 posts in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
“ ‘Points will not be awarded to any horse trained by any individual who is suspended from racing in the 2022 Kentucky Derby or any trainer directly or indirectly employed, supervised or advised by a suspended trainer,’ the racetrack said in a statement.
“Churchill Downs suspended Baffert for the next two Kentucky Derby races after Medina Spirit, this year’s winner, failed a post-race drug test. In effect, the track is telling Baffert’s high-powered owners that if they want to be guaranteed a place in the race, they should change trainers.”
The Breeders’ Cup is coming up (Nov. 5-6, Del Mar, California) and a colt called Pinehurst, trained by Baffert, is a favorite in the $2 million Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. If the owners have Derby aspirations for the horse, they will have to decide whether to change trainers, as Breeders’ Cup board members decide whether to even allow Baffert-trained horses to compete in their event at all.
--We note the passing of Emmy-winning character actor Michael Constantine, the genial school principal in one of my favorite TV series growing up, “Room 222,” which was on ABC from 1969 to 1974, and, 30 years later, the patriarch in the hit film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Constantine was 94.
Top 3 songs for the week 9/15/79: #1 “My Sharona” (The Knack) #2 “After The Love Has Gone” (Earth, Wind & Fire…great tune…) #3 “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” (The Charlie Daniels Band)…and…#4 “Don’t Bring Me Down” (Electric Light Orchestra) #5 “Lead Me On” (Maxine Nightingale) #6 “Sad Eyes” (Robert John) #7 “Lonesome Loser” (Little River Band) #8 “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” (Dionne Warwick) #9 “Good Times” (Chic) #10 “Sail On” (Commodores…
Baseball Quiz Answers: 1) Only five with 11 or more consecutive seasons with 100 runs scored: Lou Gehrig, 13 (1926-38); Hank Aaron, 13 (1955-67); Alex Rodriguez, 13 (1996-2008); Willie Mays, 12 (1954-65); Stan Musial, 11 (1943-44, 46-54). 2) League leader in runs scored, 6 or more seasons: Babe Ruth, 8 (including the 1919 Red Sox); Ted Williams, 6; Mickey Mantle, 6.
Add-On sometime Wednesday.