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Baseball's Wild Card Matchups Are Set
Add-On…posted very early Wed. a.m.
--Tonight, it’s St. Louis and Los Angeles from Dodger Stadium, Adam Wainwright vs. Max Scherzer…two grizzled veterans, though Scherzer is coming off two poor starts.
L.A. will be missing Max Muncy due to a left elbow injury suffered in Sunday’s game against the Brewers, and he’s likely out for the playoffs, a huge blow, a big bat…36 HR, 94 RBIs…and nine postseason home runs.
--Yankee fans saw what can happen when an ace, in this case Gerrit Cole, comes into a one-game, do-or-die playoff situation less than sharp.
Cole was rocked in 2 of his last 3 regular-season starts and then he simply failed to get the job done last night at Fenway Park, the $36 million a year righty giving up two home runs, including a first-inning 2-run shot to Xander Bogaerts, exiting with none out in the third, his team already down 3-0, and it was over, Yanks losing 6-2.
For Boston, starter Nate Eovaldi came up big, 5 1/3, one run, and the Red Sox bullpen got the job done the rest of the way.
There’s not a helluva lot more to say about the game. But the bottom line for Yankees fans is they haven’t won a world championship in 12 years.
As for the future of manager Aaron Boone, he’s gone 328-218 in his four years, taking New York to the playoffs all four seasons, winning 100 each of his first two.
But the Yankees didn’t advance beyond the ALCS and that’s not good enough. Granted, the teams isn’t good enough, either, but with his contract now up, there is little reason to bring Boone back.
Meanwhile, Boston is heading to Tampa Bay to face off against the 100-win Rays.
--As expected, the Mets fired manager Luis Rojas after two losing seasons. Rojas was only on a 2-year contract so it was an easy move, the first of what promises to be an offseason of great change for the Metropolitans.
The Mets finished 77-85, in third place in the NL East, after leading the division for 103 days. No previous team that lead a division for that long had finished with a losing record.
New York has made the playoffs only two of the last 15 seasons.
--Bob S. pointed out an interesting tidbit concerning Oakland’s Matt Olson. This year he hit 39 home runs, while driving in 111, and 22 of those round-trippers were against a left-handed pitcher.
That’s the most homers in a season against lefties by a left-handed hitter since at least 1961, the start of the expansion era. Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. each had seasons with 21. Cecil Fielder and Dick Allen, right-handed batters, have the record for hitting 25 homers in a season against lefties. [Allen’s was 1966, the one year he hit 40.]
--So it’s all about 4 Penn State at 3 Iowa in Iowa City, Saturday at 4:00. The highest-ranked matchup there since 1985, when the No. 1 Hawkeyes beat No. 2 Michigan on a field goal as time ran out for what Hayden Fry called the biggest win in program history.
6 Oklahoma vs. 21 Texas in the Red River Rivalry is interesting as Texas has played well of late.
We’ll see if 18 Auburn can have any success against 2 Georgia at home, while us 19 Wake Forest fans will be on pins and needles as we try and keep it going at Syracuse.
--As expected, the NCAA Division I Council approved a one-year waiver that will allow college football teams to sign up to seven players to replace those that leave.
Current NCAA rules state a team can sign no more than 25 players to a scholarship in any year, which includes incoming high school prospects and college transfers. But the waiver will allow teams to sign 25 players, plus as many as seven transfers – not high school players – to replace those who transfer out in the first term.
The loosening of transfer rules, plus the bonus year of eligibility granted to athletes who competed during the pandemic in 2020, played havoc with rosters, and as I’ve written in the past, really screwed high school players, particularly the Class of 2021 (whose Fall 2020 schedules were a mess in many parts of the country due to Covid).
So after this year, with the rule change, we should be able to get back to normal for the 2022 season.
--I like Mike Tirico’s very simple College Football Playoff idea. The winners of the Power 5 conference championships, plus a Group of Five school, and then two others (so this year, Georgia or Alabama would be one of the two others, which is all fair).
It certainly would make the conference championship games tension conventions, and would keep the interest in the Selection Committee’s rankings for the Group of Five at a high level from beginning to end.
--Quite an event Sunday night in Foxborough.
Dan Shaughnessy / Boston Globe
“Bill Russell never came back to the parquet floor to play against Red Auerbach. Bobby Orr never skated on Boston Garden ice against the Bruins.
“But Tom Brady returned to Gillette Stadium as quarterback of the World Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday and beat his sideline Svengali, Bill Belichick, 19-17, in a rain-soaked, wildly entertaining football game that was not decided until Nick Folk’s 56-yard field goal attempt doinked off the left upright with less than a minute to play.
“It was at once biblical, amazing, weird, and something unnatural. Seeing Brady beat the Patriots was like seeing Paul McCartney and Wings playing the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Brady was a pedestrian 22 of 43 passing for 269 yards and no touchdown passes.
“Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones (31 of 40, 275 yards, two TD passes) did a reasonable impersonation of Brady, circa 2001-02, completing 19 straight passes in one stretch [Ed. the longest streak by a rookie over the past 40 seasons, according to Elias Sports Bureau], but could not beat GOAT Tom at the finish.
“ ‘What a great game,’ Brady told NBC’s Michele Tafoya when it was over. ‘They got a really good football team. It was really great to get a win. Just an amazing night for us to have a win…I’m not tearing up. I already went through that.’
Brady became the NFL career passing yardage leader in the first quarter with a 28-yard pass to Mike Evans, and finished the evening with 80,560 yards, surpassing Drew Brees’ 80,358. He also leads Brees in career touchdown passes, 591 to 571.
Brady and Belichick had a brief on-field exchange after the game, which was followed by a meeting between the two in an area of the Buccaneers’ locker room that lasted about 20 minutes. Brady confirmed the additional postgame conversation between the two but did not offer details.
“All those are personal,” Brady said. “We had a personal relationship for 20-plus years. He drafted me here. We’ve had a lot of personal conversations that should remain that way, and they’re very private. I would say so much is made of our relationship. …Nothing’s really accurate that I ever see. …I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and obviously a lot of respect for this organization.”
Brady and Belichick have both played down the supposed feud between the two since Brady’s departure.
Meanwhile, the game was a ratings bonanza for NBC, the third-most watched game on Sunday Night Football, best since 2015.
--The Chargers (3-1) handed the Raiders (3-1) their first loss, Monday night, with a 28-14 victory at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. Justin Herbert (25/38, 222, 3-0, 107.6) outplayed Derek Carr, and Austin Ekeler contributed 117 yards and a touchdown on the ground for L.A.
Herbert is a pretty darn good 2nd-year QB, I think we can all agree.
--It’s really amazing that there is serious talk Jaguars coach, and college legend, Urban Meyer, could be fired. At least it seems as though if he is to survive the season, a lot of attitudes would have to change in a hurry, let alone the 0-4 Jags suddenly pick up a few ‘Ws.’
The issue was a video that emerged from his Columbus, Ohio, restaurant showing Meyer cozying up to a woman at the bar. And then a second video emerged, seemingly of the same woman, where Meyer is groping her.
Meyer apologized to the team on Monday, though at each positional group meeting, not the team as a whole, after which the second video emerged that showed his original apology may not have been that truthful.
No one is happy with Meyer. The front office is ticked. According to those in the know, Meyer has “zero credibility in the locker room.” One source told NFL reporter Mike Silver, “It’s bad. I don’t know how he’s gonna function.”
But Meyer apparently still has the support of owner Shad Khan
--The excitement continues here in the New York area after Sunday’s play.
Steve Politi / NJ.com
“The first miracle occurred in New Orleans, where the Giants – a team with an 18-49 record since 2017 – rallied from a 10-point deficit in one of the NFL’s most feared road venues to defeat the Saints in overtime.
“The second miracle came roughly 20 minutes later in East Rutherford, where the Jets – another team with an 18-49 record since 2017 – scored actual touchdowns in regulation and then held off the Tennessee Titans in overtime.
“Two games. Two overtimes. Two victories.
“We would look up the last time this happened, but we threw our NFL almanac into the fireplace, like, two and a half seasons ago. The important thing to know is this: New Jersey is the center of the NFL universe again!*
“ *This applies only to Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, from roughly 4-5 p.m.
“Look, if you’re a Giants fan, you’ve been taking a lot of heat from your out-of-town friends for the last few years. If you’re a Jets fan, you’ve been taking it for, oh, the last half century or so. And what else could you do but take it?
“Both teams have been unwatchable, mismanaged, irredeemable losers mired in a hopeless spiral of despair that…
“Ahem. Sorry. This is supposed to be a HAPPY column. Let me try that again.
“Both teams are suddenly gritty, competent, resilient winners riding matching one-game winning streaks that open up a veritable plethora of possibilities for the 2021 season. The bandwagon is revving its engines! The rainbow is brilliant and colorful!
“We’re back, baby!**
“ **Our legal team advises us that we cannot attest to the validity of this statement.”
--Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio was torqued off by the Ravens’ pursuit of a rushing record on the last play of Baltimore’s 23-7 win at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday.
The Ravens, in an attempt to tie a decades-old record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games, had Lamar Jackson carry the ball on the last play of the day rather than simply take a knee with three seconds remaining.
Jackson gained five yards and the Ravens tied the Pittsburgh Steelers for the NFL record of 43 consecutive 100-yard rushing games. The Steelers set the record in the 1974 to ’77 seasons.
“I thought it was kind of bullshit. I expected it from them,” Fangio said. “Thirty-seven years of pro ball I’ve never seen anything like that…but it was to be expected, and we expected it.”
Asked why the Broncos “expected it,” Fangio added: “Because I just know how they operate, that’s just their mode of operations there; player safety is secondary.”
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh, when asked about running Jackson on the last play, said, “It’s one of those things that’s meaningful. It’s a very, very tough record to accomplish. It’s a long-term record.”
Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson said he didn’t know what Harbaugh was thinking because the victory was sealed at that point.
“I’m not going to lie. I ain’t really care about the record,” he said.
I looked back at the Steelers’ record run from 1974 to 1977 and it is amazing to see how consistent Franco Harris was. He was far from spectacular, but he stayed on the field, got his 80 yards a game, often 100, and racked up one, 1,000-yard season after another (and in a 14-game schedule).
And then in 1976, running mate Rocky Bleier had his big 1,000-yard season…Harris with 1,128, Bleier 1,036, or 154.6 yards per game between the two of them.
--It finally happened, Monday at the rain-delayed Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Bubba Wallace became just the second Black driver to win at NASCAR’s top level, the first since Wendell Scott in 1963 – a race where Scott wasn’t declared the victor for several months.
Wallace was atop his pit stand when he was declared the winner, being in front when the race was stopped due to a heavy shower, the second rain stoppage of the race, when NASCAR called it off as the rain then persisted.
Ironically, it was in June 2020 at Talladega when NASCAR discovered a noose in the garage stall assigned to Wallace. The finding came just weeks after NASCAR had banned the Confederate flag at its events at Wallace’s urging.
The FBI investigated and found that the noose was simply a garage door pull and had been there for months, meaning Wallace wasn’t the victim of a hate crime. But the entire industry had rallied around him.
Wallace’s win was his first in 142 career Cup starts. It was also the first win for 23XI Racing, owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan. The organization was formed a year ago and Wallace was the centerpiece based on all the corporations that entered NASCAR in support of Wallace and his social justice efforts.
Next year, 23XI is adding a second car, driven by Kurt Busch.
[Pssst…in my DraftKings lineup for this race, four of my six drivers crashed out…not exactly a formula for success.]
--Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka are playing a 12-hole match (not 18) on Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving, at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas. Turner Sports will televise it on TNT at 4 p.m. ET.
This will be the fifth edition of The Match and the first that will one-on-one since the initial Tiger vs. Phil in 2018.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
I’ll have an Add-On up top by noon, Wed.
[Posted Sunday p.m., prior to Bucs-Patriots.]
Baseball Quiz: 1) Name the last AL player to lead the league in home runs in consecutive seasons. 2) Between 1966-1980, six different pitchers in the AL won 25 games. Name ‘em. Answers below.
--Some great final weekend finishes. Consider in the NL West, these were the standings after play on July 30.
San Francisco 64-39
Los Angeles 62-43…3
And after Friday, Oct. 1…
San Francisco 106-54
Los Angeles 104-56…2
Meaning since July 30, the Giants had gone 42-15, the Dodgers 42-13. Pretty remarkable.
For L.A., Clayton Kershaw exited Friday’s start (an 8-6 win over the Brewers) in the second inning because of left-forearm discomfort, the same type of injury that sidelined him for almost 2 ½ months this summer, and Kershaw admitted “it’s not looking great for October right now.”
Kershaw’s Dodgers career could be over.
Well, a funny thing happened Saturday on the way to a Dodgers-Cardinals, single-elimination wild card contest Wednesday night. The Dodgers beat the Brewers again, 8-3, as Julio Urias won his 20th (20-3) with 6 1/3 of one-run ball, while the Giants fell to the Padres 3-2 in 10 innings.
San Francisco 106-55
Los Angeles 105-56…1
--So on to the AL Wild Card…and entering Saturday’s play…
New York 91-69…+1
Then yesterday, the Yankees were embarrassed by the Rays at home, 12-2 (Brandon Lowe with 3 HR, 7 RBI), Toronto whipped Baltimore 10-1, Boston beat Washington 5-3, and the Mariners prevailed over the Angels 6-4.
And with one to play we have….
New York 91-70…--
With all of today’s final games starting at 3:05-3:20 p.m. ET, talk about scoreboard watching!
--But everything then went to form, and it’s Yankees at Boston on Tuesday, and the Dodgers hosting St. Louis on Wednesday…the first three winning today when they had to, ditto San Fran.
The Yankees had just one hit through eight innings, but managed to prevail 1-0 on an Aaron Judge infield out.
Boston needed a late Rafael Devers 2-run homer to beat the Nationals 7-5.
The Giants kicked the Padres’ ass, 11-4, and the Dodgers beat the Brewers 10-3.
In the end, we have two absolutely terrific wild card games. I see zero reason to expand the playoffs to 14 teams, but I understand it’s going to be all about economics and the collective bargaining agreement negotiations in the offseason (that hopefully prevent a strike early next year, taking out the first 80 games…a possibility).
--The other day I had a quiz touting Fernando Tatis Jr.’s achievement of 40 home runs and 25 stolen bases, Tatis the youngest to do so.
Well the other day, Shohei Ohtani became the first AL player to reach 45 homers, 100 runs scored and 25 stolen bases in the same season. [Barry Bonds had a 46-129-29 season in his first year with the Giants, 1993.]
And then today, Shohei led off with his 46th home run, RBI No. 100, Ken P. alerting me within seconds as I was watching the Jets, which gives Ohtani one of the great back of the baseball card seasons of all time.
Ohtani finished up as a pitcher with a 9-2 record, 3.18 ERA in 23 starts. In 130 1/3 innings, he fanned 156.
He had only made three starts in his previous 2 ½ seasons because of arm injuries.
--For the record, the Cardinals’ winning streak was snapped at 17, Wednesday night, as the Brewers shutout the Cards 4-0.
--Milwaukee suffered a huge, self-inflicted blow when setup man Devin Williams (54 innings, 87 Ks, 2.50 ERA) fractured his right throwing hand, after he punched a wall out of anger after having “a few drinks” following last Sunday’s celebration of the team clinching the NL Central.
Williams actually suited up in advance of Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Cardinals, unaware of the severity of the injury.
Into the December file he goes, but, again, huge loss for Milwaukee.
--In hitting his 44th home run of the season last Wednesday, Toronto’s Marcus Semien set a single-season MLB record for second basemen, breaking the record set by Davey Johnson of the Braves in 1973. [He ended up with 45.]
Rogers Hornsby (42 in 1922) and Brian Dozier (42 in 2016) are the only other second basemen in big league history to reach the 40-homer mark. [The aforementioned Brandon Lowe of the Rays finished the season with 39.]
Semien’s previous high was 33 for the A’s in 2019. He’ll finish in the top five in the AL MVP balloting.
--My Mets finished 77-85. I’m expecting manager Luis Rojas to be fired shortly. More on this team in my Add-On.
College Football Review
[As always, comments written prior to release of the next AP Poll.]
Here’s what we learned this weekend. Every single college football fan knows that Alabama and Georgia have already earned their spots into the College Football Playoffs. Doesn’t matter if they suffer a loss along the way prior to their SEC Championship matchup, they are far and away 1 and 1A this season.
So it’s about the other two spots and who earns their opportunity to get annihilated in the semis.
Meanwhile, call this “Expose the Pretenders Week”.
1 Alabama (5-0) whipped 12 Ole Miss (3-1) in their showdown, 42-21. It was 28-0 at half as Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin got way too cute with the play calling in the first half (going for it on fourth-down five times). Nick Saban, by the way, is now 24-0 against his former assistant coaches.
I do have to add that ‘Bama QB Bryce Young, 241 yards and two scores, gets the edge over Heisman rival Matt Corral of the Rebels, Corral a respectable 21/29, 213 and two touchdowns of his own. Young will win it.
2 Georgia (5-0) shutout 8 Arkansas (4-1) 37-0, the Razorbacks held to 143 yards of offense.
So pretenders Ole Miss and Arkansas fell heavily.
Ditto, 3 Oregon (4-1), the Ducks losing to Stanford (3-2) in overtime, 31-24. So much for that win at Ohio State last month. This is a CFP killer.
4 Penn State (5-0) will move up to the 3-slot but are hardly in the class of ‘Bama and Georgia, the Nittany Lions with a 24-0 shutout of Indiana (2-3). The Hoosiers need to play better the rest of the way to help out Cincinnati.
Friday night, 5 Iowa (5-0) played its best game of the season down in College Park, blasting pretender Maryland (4-1) 51-14 as the Terrapins committed seven turnovers. Not a way to win over the fan base.
6 Oklahoma is 5-0 after edging Kansas State (3-2) on the road, 37-31, but the Sooners continue to underwhelm vs. preseason expectations (No. 2 AP) in the minds of many.
Speaking of 7 Cincinnati, now 4-0 following a gigantic 24-13 win over 9 Notre Dame (4-1) on the road, with Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder leading the way with two touchdown passes and another on the ground, can Group of Five Cincy crack the Final Four?
That’s going to be the big debate the rest of the season as they could run the table, with perhaps only 5-0 SMU in the way, though importantly that one is at home Nov. 20.
You can already see the scenario. The Bearcats finish undefeated, but one-loss Penn State (or Iowa, or Michigan or Ohio State) and Oklahoma (or Oklahoma State) is ahead of them and they’ll all point to strength of schedule. That’s why Indiana looms large. Cincy beat them early on, 24-14, which was a major feather in the Bearcats’ cap at the time. Will it still be two months from now?
To be continued…for weeks…
10 Florida (3-2) saw its CFP hopes go out the window, falling to Kentucky, suddenly 5-0, 20-13 in Lexington before an overflow crowd. A ginormous win for coach Mark Stoops’ Wildcats. Very cool for the sport.
Rutgers fans are wondering just how much coach Greg Schiano has really improved the program, the Scarlet Knights now 3-2 after getting totally embarrassed at home by 11 Ohio State (4-1), 52-13, in a game that was worse than the final score, Rutgers down 45-6 at the half!
Buckeyes freshman QB C.J. Stroud was a cool 17/23, 330, 5-0.
Friday, 13 BYU improved to 5-0 with a 34-20 win over Utah State (3-2).
14 Michigan is 5-0 with a 38-17 win over Wisconsin (1-3). The Badgers haven’t had a losing season since 2001.
Mississippi State (3-2) upset 15 Texas A&M (3-2) on the road 26-22. Nice win for the Bulldogs, who have Alabama next in two weeks.
Johnny Mac’s 16 Coastal Carolina (5-0) annihilated UL Monroe (2-2) 59-6.
17 Michigan State remains undefeated at 5-0 with a 48-31 win over Western Kentucky (1-3) that wasn’t as close as the final score.
18 Fresno State (4-2) saw its Group of Five New Year’s Six hopes end, though at least they got a nice road trip to Hawaii, losing to the Rainbow Warriors (3-3) 27-24, Hawaii with 17 unanswered in the fourth quarter.
In a battle of 4-0 teams, 19 Oklahoma State emerged victorious, 24-14 over 21 Baylor in Stillwater.
And 20 UCLA fell to 3-2 and no doubt back out of the polls, losing at home to Arizona State (4-1) 42-23.
In other games, 23 N.C. State (4-1) beat Louisiana Tech (2-3) 34-27, and 25 Clemson (3-2)* will remain in the top 25 following a 19-13 win over a tough Boston College (4-1) team.
*Dr. W. pointed out, via ESPN’s David Pollack, that Dabo Swinney has never accepted a transfer via the portal (preferring to develop his own talent), but 24 of his players have left the program. As in, Dabo needs to rethink his biases. Transfers have been key to the success of many programs this year, including Wake Forest.
North Carolina improved to 3-2 after a 38-7 win over Duke (3-2).
Pitt is 4-1 after a convincing 52-21 win over Georgia Tech (2-3), Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett with another four touchdown passes, giving him 15 in three games, 19 overall, though six were against New Hampshire.
That said, here I dissed the guy early on, so I have to apologize, sort of. I just can’t believe some of the national columns I’m reading this morning calling Pickett a Heisman contender.
Pickett’s been around a long time, he’s 42-years-old, after all, and I just remember his last three seasons were highly mediocre (6-5, 8-5, 7-7), with crappy TD/INT splits. Anyway, you know Pitt is my closet second team with all the familial connections and I love when they do well, just not against Wake!
Army suffered its first loss, now 4-1, after a poor 28-16 effort at Ball State (2-3), the place where all sports balls are made, which also shaped one David Letterman.
Thursday night, Miami lost at home to Virginia (3-2), 30-28, in front of the smallest home crowd to watch a Hurricanes game at Hard Rock Stadium since 2012, some 37,000. Thus is the state of Miami Hurricanes football these days.
Miami entered the season at AP No. 14, but has gone 2-3, with big losses to Alabama and Michigan State. But this one was huge, and in the end, Miami kicker Any Borregales missed a 33-yard field goal for the win on the game’s final play, bouncing it off the left upright.
Which leaves me with 24 Wake Forest, now 5-0 after a nice, too close for comfort, 37-34 win over a solid Louisville (3-2) team, Wake’s star kicker Nick Sciba with the game-winning field goal.
Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham is a scary player to defend and a definite NFL prospect (with proper grooming), Cunningham with two touchdowns passing, two on the ground.
But Wake is a mature ballclub, and our own QB, Sam Hartman, while no superstar, is reliable, and with few exceptions, makes good decisions. He did not have his best day throwing the football Saturday, but still picked up 324 yards passing and two TDs.
Is Wake really a top 25 team? Hard to tell. How would we do against, say, an Oklahoma State?
What we are is undefeated after five, in a weak ACC. Who the hell knows? A ‘special season’ would be defined as 9-3 and that is very much in play.
And now…your new AP Top 25!
And to prove I write all the above hours before release of the poll, I am shocked by some of the moves. Starting off with Clemson is out, for the first time since 2014, despite a win over a good B.C. team. Wow. A little comeuppance for the Dabster.
1. Alabama (53) 5-0
2. Georgia (9…picked up a few) 5-0
3. Iowa 5-0…huh
4. Penn State 5-0
5. Cincinnati 4-0…this is huge…well-positioned. One week at a time, Bearcats
6. Oklahoma 5-0
7. Ohio State 4-1
8. Oregon 4-1
9. Michigan 5-0…rapid ascent for the Wolverines…sets them up well
10. BYU 5-0…not sure they are this good
11. Michigan State 5-0…see No. 10
12. Oklahoma State 5-0…deserved big move
13. Arkansas 4-1…might have put them at about 16
14. Notre Dame 4-1
15. Coastal Carolina 5-0…gonna be tough moving up much more rest of the way
16. Kentucky 5-0…definitely deserved!
17. Ole Miss 3-1
18. Auburn 4-1
19. Wake Forest 5-0…wow, I did not see this coming. Puts more pressure on my boys than I actually want to see at this point. Don’t read your press clippings, lads! Focus on the playbook and your studies.
20. Florida 3-2
21. Texas 4-1
22. Arizona State 4-1…great cheerleaders
23. N.C. State 4-1
24. SMU 5-0…go Paul P.!
25. San Diego State 4-0
This coming week, Penn State at Iowa, 4:00 PM. More in midweek chat.
Having only Wake Forest and N.C. State in the top 25 isn’t what the ACC hoped for preseason. We were supposed to have Clemson, North Carolina and Miami in the top 15, or thereabouts.
--Last month, the Big 12 announced it had invited BYU, as well as Houston, Central Florida and Cincinnati into the conference, though it’s not clear to me by what date. Texas and Oklahoma are bolting for the SEC by 2025, though everyone assumes it will be much sooner.
Anyway, Iowa State’s Student Government is condemning a lack of student input before the Big 12 vote to invite BYU. Five years ago, the ISU students protested when the Big 12 contemplated the addition of BYU, which until recently banned “homosexual behavior,” and now they are saying the conference and ISU failed to gather student input before voting on the expansion.
Ergo, you can imagine some interesting away games for BYU in the conference.
--So being a diehard Jets fan, I watched every play of their game against the Titans today at MetLife Stadium, because that’s what fans do.
And let me say that the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro, one of the top 3 or 4 sportswriters in America, summed it up perfectly in his Sunday morning column. Jets fans came into the season realistic. We have a rookie quarterback, Zach Wilson, and we know there will be major growing pains, and we also have the youngest team in the NFL, plus a rookie coach, Robert Salah.
I’ve said before the season began, all we want are signs that Wilson ‘could be’ the real deal. Or as Vaccaro put it, no one expected a playoff season this year, but just give us fans “some hope.”
I’ve always talked that way when it came to Wake Forest football; all we ask for is that every season we’re competitive. That could be 5-7, 7-5, just give us a reason to watch. That’s why for Demon Deacon fans, this year is setting up to be something good…maybe “special.” You’d like that kind of season like maybe one in five.
But after Zach Wilson showed signs of what he is capable of in the opener against Carolina, he, and the team, sucked the next two.
And then today, against a team that should be playoff bound, the Titans, the Jets’ defense showed up early, limiting Derrick Henry and Co. to three field goals, while Wilson engineered a 75-yard play drive for a TD to make it 9-7 at the half, despite the Jets only getting 11 other yards in their remaining series.
But in the second half, despite missing some key opportunities, Wilson put on a show, finishing 21/34, 297, 2-1, 97.3, the defense was huge (7 sacks of Ryan Tannehill), and the Jets pulled it out, 27-24 in overtime. [The kicker who replaced Summit’s Michael Badgley, Randy Bullock, missing a 49-yarder in OT for the tie, though to be fair, Bullock has been solid since his signing.]
I’m just a very happy fan. If I can live just 3 or 4 more years (probably a stretch), maybe Wilson and Salah can guide us into the playoffs. [I’ve kind of given up on a Super Bowl, frankly.]
--As for the New York Giants, also entering today 0-3, Newt S. and the other fans of this team are fired up as Daniel Jones had his best game as a pro, throwing for 402 yards, a 108.5 performance, with Saquon Barkley having a 54-yard reception for a touchdown and then a 6-yard TD run in overtime, the Giants upsetting New Orleans (2-2), on the road, 27-21.
As Newt wrote me, you never would have expected these two results from our teams today.
--Meanwhile, I really didn’t give a damn about most of the other games, as I tried to keep up with baseball the first hour of play in their 3:00 affairs, and then switched to the Yankees-Rays…but we did have some significant contests I need to note….
Dallas (3-1) pricked Charlotte’s and Sam Darnold’s bubble, the Panthers (3-1) losing their first in big D, 36-28, as Dak Prescott was super, 14/22, 188, 4-0, 130.3, while Ezekiel Elliott has turned back the clock, Elliott with a second straight solid game…20-143-1. [I know Elliott is only 26, but last year he was a 4.0 avg. rusher and they’re a dime a dozen. You can find that with a Division III running back in the draft, I write, only half in jest.]
--George R.’s Brownies are now 3-1, Baker Mayfield, less than good, but Cleveland rushing for 184 yards in a 14-7 win over the Vikings (1-3), in what must have been a most deadly contest to watch.
--Kansas City (2-2) got its act back together, 42-30 winners in Philadelphia (1-3). Patrick Mahomes was, err, Patrick Mahomes, 5 touchdown passes, and we had the return of the real Tyreek Hill, who caught 11 passes for 186 yards and three scores.
For the Eagles, their fans can take hope in Jalen Hurts’ terrific performance, 434 total yards.
--And the Bills are 3-1 after a 40-0 whitewash of the Texans (1-3), the Bills’ defense holding Houston to a pathetic 109 yards in offense. Eegads.
--In the late games…at a certain point I have to move on…
The Cardinals are 4-0 after a big 37-20 win over the Rams (3-1) in L.A., Kyler Murray 24/32, 268, 2-0, 120.3, Chase Edmonds with 120 yards rushing. Matthew Stafford was solid, but the defense was less than stellar.
--Seattle had a big win to get back to 2-2, 28-21 over San Francisco (also 2-2), as the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo was replaced at the half by Trey “Major” Lance; Garoppolo with a calf injury.
--Baltimore (3-1) handed Denver (3-1) their first loss, beating the Broncos 23-7 at Mile High Stadium (oops, Empower Field at Mile High, whatever that is supposed to mean).
--And the Packers (3-1) beat the Steelers (1-3) 27-17.
--Thursday night, the Bengals improved to 3-1 and kept Urban Meyer, Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars winless by beating them 24-21 on a field goal as time expired.
It was a matchup of the quarterbacks chosen first overall in the past two NFL drafts and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow prevailed over Lawrence. Burrow was a terrific 25/32, 348, 2-0, 132.8, while Trevor was solid, 17/24, 204, 0-0, 96.5, with a touchdown on the ground.
It’s shocking that Urban Meyer is 0-4, but considering the Jaguars have now lost 19 straight after an opening-week triumph last season, and it’s really not that surprising, I guess.
Only the Chicago Cardinals (29 straight losses between 1942 and ’45) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (the first 26 games of their franchise’s existence in 1976 and ’77) have lost more consecutive games than Jacksonville.
In weekend action, Manchester United had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Everton, as United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad has struggled in recent weeks, while Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t really shown the goods, at least consistently.
Chelsea beat Southampton 3-1, Brighton and Arsenal played to 0-0 draw, newbie Brentwood continued to impress with a 2-1 win over a solid West Ham, and Tottenham snapped its 3-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
All leading up to today’s biggie, Liverpool hosting Man City. I only caught the last ten minutes or so of this one, but after a scoreless first half, it was back-and-forth the rest of the way, a 2-2 conclusion, as in afterwards it was called a ‘classic.’
So the standings after 7 of 38, games-points, ties broken by goal differential
1. Chelsea 7-16
2. Liverpool 7-15
3. Man City 7-14
4. Man U 7-14
5. Everton 7-14
6. Brighton 7-14…huh
7. Brentford 7-12
8. Tottenham 7-12
--Rookie Sahith Theegala, the 2019 college player of the year who had his senior season at Pepperdine cut short by Covid-19, and then opted to work his way through the lower minors of the professional circuit, before earning his tour card through a late rush on the Korn Ferry Tour, was attempting today to become a wire-to-wire winner of the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi.
Entering the final round, Theegala stood alone, one shot in front.
Cameron Tringale -17
Denny McCarthy -17
Sam Burns -17
Cameron Young -17
After two rounds, Wake Forest roommates Young and Will Zalatoris were up top, Zalatoris tied for the lead at -13, with Nick Watney and Theegala, with Young a shot behind at -12, but Zalatoris had a disappointing even-par 72 to drop back to T16, -13, after Saturday’s third round.
It’s almost unfair that everyone now expects Zalatoris to just go out and finally win his first event, and he undoubtedly feels the pressure. What would be kind of shocking (though not to Will), is if his old roomie, Young, suddenly won his first instead.
Well, in the end….it was Sam Burns, win No. 2 for the 25-year-old budding star who will be a member of the 2023 U.S. Ryder Cup team, says moi; a one-stroke win over Watney and Wake’s Young (huge for him).
Burns’ wife was wearing a unique camo one-piece, highlighting her very nice legs and….[oops, I was just informed if I go there, the International Web Site Association will suspend my web privileges for six years, a killer for StocksandNews.]
Will Zalatoris finished T14 after a 4-under 68.
--In a surprise move, Jim “Bones” Mackay is becoming Justin Thomas’ caddie, though he will try to maintain his NBC/Golf Channel gig when possible.
Thomas and his longtime caddie, Jimmy Johnson, are parting ways, with the official word being Johnson wanted to pursue other opportunities, so who knows.
But what Mackay knows is that “it’s Justin Thomas.” Tough bag to pass up.
Mackay said: “It came out of left field very recently… It was an incredible phone call to get and I said yes.”
While Johnson was Thomas’ caddie for his lone major, the 2017 PGA Championship, the 2017 FedEx Cup title and most recently, his 2021 Players Championship victory, Mackay caddied for Thomas when he won the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
I do have to say that Mackay’s work on the course for NBC and the Golf Channel was greatly improved from an admittedly rocky start when he was afraid to criticize players.
--An 11-year-old kid from Tucson, Arizona, Jake Martinez, had two holes-in-one…in one round!
Playing in the U.S. Kids Palm Springs Open on Sept. 18, Martinez aced the 100-yard fifth hole and then the 110-yard 12th hole at Mission Hills North in Rancho Mirage, California. He used a pitching wedge both times. Martinez turned 12 yesterday.
Your editor still doesn’t have one, including on a par-3 course where I play most of my golf these days. Before I die…..
--NBA players who are forced to miss games due to the executive orders governing vaccination requirements in both New York and San Francisco will not be paid for any games they miss, Mike Bass, the NBA’s executive vice president of communications said in a statement Wednesday.
The orders in New York and San Francisco particularly impact Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving and Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins, who it seems have not had at least one shot (the New York rule, San Fran requires full vaccination).
--The Breeders’ Cup races are coming up, Nov. 5-6 at Del Mar, and in a tune-up to the Classic, Nov. 6, Medina Spirit showed his Kentucky Derby win was no fluke with a powerful performance at Saturday’s Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.
You remember Medina Spirit…the 3-year-old trained by Bob Baffert that tested positive for an overage of betamethasone, a legal anti-inflammatory, after winning the Derby. Baffert said the horse was being treated with an ointment for a rash. The horse has not been disqualified and Baffert has not been charged with anything or had a hearing before the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
But, Churchill Downs banned the seven-time Derby winner for two years, a situation now tied up in the courts.
Saturday, however, Medina Spirit won by five lengths, gaining an automatic spot in the $6 million Classic, the richest race in the United States. He’ll be up against older horses, which was the case for the first time on Saturday.
But as John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times notes, “There is still the possibility that the Breeders’ Cup could not let Baffert run in the two-day event. A decision is pending, but it would be surprising if the organization run by owners and breeders would make their own have to change trainers less than a month before those races.”
Separately, Cherwa described a dangerous scene after another of Saturday’s stakes races. Going to Vegas won a Breeders’ Cup qualifier and the horse is partially owned by MyRacehorse.com, which sells micro-shares of horses. So about 60 people overwhelmed security at the winner’s circle, which is a small space, barely leaving enough room for the horse and as Cherwa pointed out, it’s amazing no one was hurt as the horse could have easily been spooked. What an absurd situation.
--If you are working at home, or retired, Monday you have some potentially great sports action as the NASCAR race at exciting Talladega was postponed to 1:00 p.m. due to rain today.
--Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will join forces for the Super Bowl halftime show.
I was kind of hoping for Chubby Checker and Up with People.
Top 3 songs for the week 10/5/63 (British Invasion just four months away): #1 “Blue Velvet” (Bobby Vinton) #2 “Sally, Go ‘Round The Roses” (The Jaynetts) #3 “Be My Baby” (The Ronettes)…and…#4 “Sugar Shack” (Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs) #5 “Cry Baby” (Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters) #6 “My Boyfriend’s Back” (The Angels) #7 “Wonderful! Wonderful!” (The Tymes) #8 “Heat Wave” (Martha & The Vandellas) #9 “Busted” (Ray Charles) #10 “Then He Kissed Me” (The Crystals…some great tunes here…B week…)
Baseball Quiz Answers: 1) Jose Bautista is the last to lead the AL in home runs, consecutive seasons, with 54 in 2010 and 43 in 2011. 2) The six AL pitchers to win 25 games between 1966-80: Jim Kaat (1966-Min.), Mickey Lolich (1971-DET), Catfish Hunter (1974-Oak.), Fergie Jenkins (1974-Tex.), Ron Guidry (1978-NY), Steve Stone (1980-Bal.)
*I screwed up inititally and just wrote five pitchers. Bob S. picked up quickly I missed Mickey Lolich....my bad.
Add-On up top by noon, Wed.