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Alabama Goes Down
Add-On…posted early Wed. a.m.
--You’d expect nasty weather from time to time in San Francisco, but not Los Angeles, but Monday night at Dodger Stadium, a heavy wind set in that impacted play greatly, the Giants taking Game 3, 1-0, for a 2-1 Division Series lead.
For the Dodgers, Max Scherzer was terrific, seven innings, one run, 3 hits, 10 strikeouts, 110 pitches. He gave it all and it was classic Scherzer.
But the one run of the game was a solo homer off the bat of veteran Evan Longoria, who powered through the wind. For L.A., Chris Taylor and pinch-hitter Gavin Lux hit blasts that on any other night would have been home runs, but theirs were held up in the wind. It’s as simple as that.
Of course at the same time, it’s not as if the Dodgers manufactured a run or two given the conditions.
For San Fran, starter Alex Wood (4 2/3) and three relievers engineered the shutout, with impressive rookie Camilo Doval pitching the last two.
So facing elimination for the second time in less than a week, the Dodgers and their fans celebrated a 7-2 victory on Tuesday to force a decisive Game 5, Thursday, back in San Francisco. Julio Urias vs. Logan Webb.
Last night, Mookie Betts homered and drove in 3 runs, Will Smith went deep, and Gavin Lux, inserted in center field in a surprise move by manager Dave Roberts, went two-for-two with two walks and a run scored in just his seventh start in center. Even Cody Bellinger had his first multiple-hit game since Aug. 25.
Just as key, Walker Buehler made the start on just three days’ rest for the first time in his major-league career and went 4 1/3, allowing just one run…job done, the bullpen handling things the rest of the way.
--Monday, in Game 3 in Atlanta, the Braves’ Ian Anderson (5 innings, 0 runs) and four relievers combined to shut out the Brewers on five hits, Atlanta winning it 3-0 on a Joc Pederson 3-run pinch-hit home run, his second pinch-hit homer of the series, Atlanta with a 2-1 lead over Milwaukee.
Anderson, in his second season, now has four postseason starts with a 0.76 ERA in 23 2/3. Pretty, pretty good.
The Brewers have a whopping two runs in the first three games.
Then yesterday, the Braves wrapped things up, 5-4, on a bottom of the eighth home run from Freddie Freeman off Milwaukee reliever Josh Hader that broke a 4-4 tie.
Atlanta now faces Thursday’s Dodgers-Giants winner in the NLCS.
--In the AL, Boston took its series with the 100-win Rays, 3-1, winning in dramatic fashion both Sunday night and Monday, 6-4 and 6-5, respectively.
Sunday night, after I posted, I had this one on and we all saw the dramatic play in the top of the 13th, when the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier smoked a two-out double to the right field warning track. Yandy Diaz was running from first on the play and was just a step from third base as the ball struck the warning track, the wall, and spun back to ricochet off Boston right fielder Hunter Renfroe…and over the wall.
Diaz crossed home. Kiermaier was on third.
And then the umpires huddled, asked for help from New York, and the rulebook was clear – even after ricocheting off Renfroe, even after the ball did not hop the wall on its own, all baserunners would get two bases, and no more.
No go-ahead run scored by Diaz, and then Mike Zunino struck out to strand both Diaz and Kiermaier.
In the bottom of the inning, Christian Vazquez then crushed a two-run homer, giving the Red Sox the 6-4 win and a 2-1 lead in the series. Just an amazingly depressing, heartbreaking loss for Tampa Bay.
Rules are rule, and the rule was clear. It’s just no one had ever seen anything like this, and obviously Diaz scores easily if the ball had not ricocheted back over the fence.
The rule won’t be changed to give the umpires latitude…and it shouldn’t be.
--Lastly, the Astros will face the Red Sox in the ALCS (a total nightmare for Yankees fans) after taking out the White Sox in four with a 10-1 win in Chicago yesterday.
The only bright moment for White Sox fans was in the second, when Wake Forest’s Gavin Sheets homered to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. It went rapidly downhill from there.
--I posted early Sunday evening, after the initial reports on now former Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s emails, with some details, such as what Gruden wrote about commissioner Roger Goodell, not available.
But then about 24 hours later, the New York Times released far more information and about an hour after that, Jon Gruden resigned.
It turns out the emails weren’t just from 2011, but all the way through 2018, Gruden’s missives uncovered in the NFL’s ongoing investigation into various matters involving the Washington Football Team.
It turns out the new emails that we learned of were far more than the initial one sent 10 years ago concerning NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith, which to me was worthy of a suspension.
Instead, the Times report noted that Gruden’s emails contained homophobic, sexist and racist insults, including homophobic remarks targeted at Goodell.
According to the Times: Gruden “casually and frequently unleashed misogynistic and homophobic language over several years to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s momentous changes.
“He denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem…”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Raiders owner Mark Davis met with Gruden Monday and the two sides decided to part ways.
From the Times: “In the emails, Gruden called (Goodell) a ‘faggot’ and a ‘clueless anti football pussy’ and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft ‘queers,’ a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.”
The Times adds: “Taken together, the emails provide an unvarnished look into the clubby culture of one NFL circle of peers, where white male decision makers felt comfortable sharing pornographic images, deriding the league policies, and jocularly sharing homophobic language.”
So now what happens to the remainder of Gruden’s 10-year, $100 million contract that he signed in 2018? He won a Super Bowl during his seven seasons with the Bucs (2002-08), after spending his first four head-coaching campaigns with the Raiders (1998-2001). Gruden has a 117-111 record as a head coach, including 22-31 in his second tour with the Raiders.
In between he was an analyst for Monday Night Football.
Gruden said in a statement Monday night: “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia was named interim head coach.
Initially, when just the DeMaurice Smith email was known about, former colleagues Mike Tirico and Tony Dungy defended Gruden on NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecast. They regret that now.
--Steve Serby / New York Post
“In a league that better-late-than-never now heralds the promotion of females in the workplace and on the field, that strains to validate its Rooney Rule that seeks the hiring of more black head coaches, that opened its arms and hearts and minds in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and too many other black men and women, Gruden revealed himself as a misogynistic and homophobic soul trapped in a Neanderthal time warp, a walking, talking, venom-spewing anachronism.
“He lashed out in the emails at NFL owners, coaches and media, he called Goodell a ‘fa---t,’…railed against former Rams coach Jeff Fisher for drafting ‘queers’… He was forced to apologize to NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith… On and on and on.
“And here’s the other irony: the late, great Al Davis was Mark Davis’ father. It was Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders who hired the first modern-era black coach, Art Shell, in 1989 and Amy Trask who became the league’s first female chief executive eight years later. It was Al Davis who was years ahead of virtually everyone when it came to racial diversity: Just Equality, Baby.
“Al Davis presumably was rolling over in his Silver & Black grave on Monday night: he hired the young Jon Gruden once, actually traded him to the Bucs, where Gruden won Super Bowl XXXVII, for a bounty of draft picks.
“ ‘It brings tears to my eyes at how many things he was able to do,’ Mark Davis once told the Mercury News. ‘He did it because it was the right thing to do, not because people wanted him ot do it. People deserved the opportunity and he believed in that.’….
“Jon Gruden had to go. Good riddance.”
The news on Gruden no longer being Raiders coach broke, coincidentally, during “Monday Night Football.” Color commentator Brian Griese said the right thing.
“It’s awful. It’s awful to hear that. Clearly there was more than the one email exchange about DeMaurice Smith. With all those things coming out, I don’t see any way Mark Davis couldn’t have that conversation with Jon Gruden. You can’t come back from that, not in this day and age, nor should he.”
--In game action, Sunday night, in a weather-delayed affair in Kansas City, the Bills (4-1) sent a message to the rest of the AFC that they are once again going to be playing in late January with a 38-20 win over the Chiefs, now a worrisome 2-3.
Josh Allen (15/26, 315, 3-0, 139.1, plus 59 yards rushing and a score) totally outplayed Patrick Mahomes, who coughed it up three times (2 interceptions and a fumble).
But the problem for Kansas City in terms of getting back on track is that it has the worst defense in the NFL in terms of points allowed, and second worst (to Seattle) in yards given up per game.
No, this ain’t your Buck Buchanan, Willie Lanier, Emmitt Thomas ‘D’ of yore…not to age myself too much.
--Monday night, Lamar Jackson had his finest game as a pro, going 37/43, 442, 4-0, 140.5, plus another 62 yards on the ground, leading the Ravens (4-1) to a come from behind 31-25 win in overtime over the Colts.
Baltimore was down 22-3 with 3:00 left in the third before their furious comeback.
For Indy, Carson Wentz also threw for 400 yards (25/35, 402, 2-0, 128.5), but the Colts fall to 1-4.
--If you watch every Jets game as I do, you are well aware of our first-quarter woes. We just can’t get off to a good start, kind of like Mets pitcher Carlos Carasco this season, who had a 14.00 ERA in the first inning of his starts.
As in, it has sucked being a Mets and Jets fan….and has sucked mightily most of my entire life, but that’s a different matter.
The Jets in their first five games (1-4) have a total of 79…79…first-quarter yards this season, with five total first downs.
--Jacksonville, at 0-5, has now dropped 20 in a row going back to last season, just six shy of the NFL record held by Tampa Bay when they lost the first 26 games of their existence.
1 Georgia vs. 11 Kentucky is the biggest contest this weekend in terms of ranked teams going up against one another, though the Wildcats are going to be without a few key players on defense due to injury. I don’t give Kentucky a chance in this one.
Georgia’s defense is awesome, having given up a total of 13 points, combined, in its three wins over ranked opponents…Clemson (10-3), Arkansas (37-0) and Auburn (34-10).
I’m looking for Purdue (3-2) to give 2 Iowa a big scare in Iowa City.
12 Oklahoma State at 25 Texas is a critical test for the Cowboys if they are to get into the CFP conversation over the coming weeks.
I’ll be watching 5 Alabama at Mississippi State Saturday night as the talent in the stands should rival that on the field.
But a huge one for us ACC fans is 22 North Carolina State at Boston College. Go Eagles.
--It really is remarkable that a Wake Forest transfer, Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III, is suddenly a top five Heisman contender.
But the consensus seems to be after Week 6 that Ole Miss QB Matt Corral is right up there with Alabama’s Bryce Young for the hardware, Corral completing 69.2% of his passes, 12 touchdown passes, zero interceptions, and another eight TDs on the ground.
Assuming ‘Bama now runs the table, prior to the SEC championship, it will be Young.
Then again, if Walker has big games against Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, he’ll probably deserve it.
--The Seattle Kraken opened up their season, and franchise, Tuesday in Las Vegas against the Golden Knights, and they were without five players due to Covid-19 protocols, not the best timing for this to happen. General Manager Ron Francis said at the start of training camp that the entire roster had been vaccinated. Vegas then edged Seattle 4-3.
Meanwhile, let’s face it, the name the “Kraken” is marketing genius. I was going through the available merchandise and some of the caps are too “busy” for me, but a few of the t-shirts are very cool.
--The Brooklyn Nets made their move on Tuesday, doing something that just had to be done. The team announced that Kyrie Irving would be unavailable for all games and practices.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” General Manager Sean Marks said in a statement.
“Kyrie has made a personal choice and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice.
“Our championship goals for the season have not changed and to achieve these goals, each member of our organization must pull in the same direction.”
Due to New York City’s vaccine mandates, Irving was not going to be able to play home games until he got the shot.
The NBA has no vaccine mandate for players, but New York and San Francisco are two cities that do for various indoor venues, including entertainment sites.
The NBA previously said unvaccinated players would lose 1.09% of their salaries for every game they miss because of local rules; for Irving, missing 43 games in New York (including Nets-Knicks contests at the Garden) would amount to about $16 million. It’s unclear how the Nets’ decision impacts the rest of his $34 million pay for this season.
Steve Politi / NJ.com
“The Nets deserve credit for taking a stand on Kyrie Irving, but let’s be honest, their decision to ban him from practices and games until he gets the Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t seem like quite enough. The team should have dispatched Irving to the furthest corner of the planet – which, given that he believes the Earth is flat, is actually possible with his warped view of the world.
“Trade him. Cut him. Do whatever it takes to get him as far away from this roster and this market. Irving made this decision to take a stand against science, not the Nets. He is the one who decided that he knew better than every credible doctor or public health official, and in the process, made himself a martyr for everyone else on the wrong side of this issue.
“This isn’t just about winning NBA games. This is about doing what’s right for society. Having Irving, a West Orange native and one of New Jersey’s greatest all-time athletes, in a high-profile position where he can be held up as a hero for misinformation mongers and conspiracy theorists at a time when low vaccination rates are extending this pandemic is flat-out dangerous.
“The Nets couldn’t make him get the shot, but they could make him go away before he could show up in Dallas, or Oklahoma City, or any other NBA city that will allow unvaccinated players to take the court. Will that kind of stand make a difference in the struggle to convince people like him to change their minds? Probably not. But it’s the right message anyway.”
--Last Sunday, Phil Mickelson won his third Champions Tour event in four starts, at an event hosted by Jim Furyk in Jacksonville. The great Miguel Angel Jimenez finished second; Jimenez now having finished among the top 10 in 53 percent of his 110 career starts on the senior circuit (with ten wins).
--Former NBA ballplayer J.R. Smith made his golf debut, age 36, for the North Carolina A&T squad on Monday at the Elon Phoenix Invitational in Burlington, N.C.
Smith, going to college for the first time as he went straight from high school to the NBA in 2004 and then played 16 seasons for multiple teams, winning two titles alongside LeBron with the Cavs and Lakers, shot a 12-over 83 in his first round, but playing 36 holes in one day, he improved in the second round with a 78, and sat 81st of 84 golfers in the field.
Smith then finished up Tuesday with a 79, so he ended up 81 of 84, surviving an attack from a swarm of bees on the 12th hole after stepping on a hive.
But good effort, J.R. Don’t give up!
--Benson Kipruto and Diana Kipyogei completed a Kenyan sweep at the first-ever fall Boston Marathon, the eighth such sweep since 2000.
--My cousin Marilyn from the Greensburg, PA, area (outside of Pittsburgh, where all my relatives are), wrote to tell me that cousin Steve had gone to Sunday’s Steelers game and a story emerged there of two women spilling their grandfather’s ashes in different places around the stadium, some landing on other fans.
Now I did confirm the story through multiple sources, though it’s not officially known if it was more than one perpetrator. Fans, however, did say some of the ashes were blown onto them.
One imagines alcohol may have been involved.
--Here’s a story that sucks. A group of high school students in Boise, Idaho, have been studying a group of wolves – known as the Timberline wolf pack – in a nearby forest since 2003. But sometime this spring, biologists who track the pack noticed its den was empty, which was unusual, said a wolf conservationist.
So the conservationists obtained a wolf “mortality list” from the state’s Department of Fish and Game, and that’s when they found out pups in the pack were killed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services branch, the Washington Post reported.
Michael Liao, a student at Timberline High, was shocked.
“I understand a lot of people think wolves are dangerous animals,” Liao, a member of the school’s environmental club, told the Post. “But it was so shocking to see that federal agents were the ones to come into a pups’ den to kill them, even though the pups didn’t do anything.”
In May, Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed a law allowing private contractors to kill 90 percent of the state’s wolf population, which officials estimate is about 1,500.
In August, wolf conservationist groups called on the Agriculture Department to “immediately suspend the killing of wolf pups on all public lands.”
But officials this month denied the request. In a letter to the groups, an undersecretary of the department confirmed that the department killed eight “juvenile wolves” because they were attacking livestock. The pup killings, the official said, encouraged “adult wolves to relocate, thereby reducing the total number of wolves requiring removal.”
What assholes. Into the December file goes Gov. Little and his cohorts.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday.
[Posted Sunday p.m., prior to late contests, including extra innings of Red Sox-Rays]
I’ll have an Add-On up top by noon, Wed.
Baseball Quiz: Name the six pitchers to be selected World Series MVP since 2000 (two sharing the honor). Yes, for some this may be pretty easy, but you gotta get ‘em all to qualify for the drawing to win a six-pack of Coors Light (small budget these days). Answer below.
After two games in the best-of-five division series, prior to today’s action, three of the four were tied up at 1-1.
Milwaukee beat Atlanta in their opener 2-1 on Friday, and then the Braves bounced back behind Max Fried 3-0…Game 3 Monday in Atlanta.
The Dodgers recovered from an opening 4-0 to the Giants in San Francisco on Friday – the Giants’ Logan Webb with a masterful 7 2/3, no walks, 10 strikeouts – to then whip San Fran in Oracle Park 9-2, 20-game winner Julio Urias with five innings of one-run ball, while Cody Bellinger, out of nowhere, contributed.
You remember Bellinger, the former NL MVP who hit .165 this season. One-Six-Five!
It was the worst average in baseball history by a former MVP with at least 250 at-bats. Against the Giants this season, get this…Bellinger was two for 54 with 21 strikeouts! He started out this series with four strikeouts in his first five ABs.
But then last night, in the sixth inning with one out and his team leading by a run, Bellinger drove the first pitch from the Giants’ Dominic Leone to the left-center field wall for a two-run double to break open the game and give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead as they went on to cruise to victory and even the series.
It’s going to be fascinating to see if this is the start of real magic from Bellinger the rest of the way. [Of course Giants fans don’t want any magic from Cody.]
Game 3 in Los Angeles on Monday.
[I posted prior to the NL wild card playoff, so for the record, in this scintillating affair, the Dodgers advanced over the Cardinals on Chris Taylor’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, 3-1, Taylor having batted a putrid .115 in September….6-for-52.]
The Rays-Red Sox series has been one of contrasts…Tampa Bay taking the opener Thursday 5-0, as Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena made history by hitting a home run and stealing home, the first in playoff history to achieve such a feat.
It was a year ago when Arozarena slugged 10 home runs and banged out 29 hits in 20 games, both postseason records.
But on Friday, Boston responded by hammering a franchise-record five home runs in a 14-6 win to even it up.
So we were on to Game 3 in Boston this afternoon….and I’m posting as the game has advanced to the top of the 11th, 4-4. At a certain point, I have to move on, friends.
In the other ALDS, Houston took a 2-0 lead against Chicago in resounding fashion, 6-1, 9-4, as 72-year-old Dusty Baker has had the best of 77-year-old Tony La Russa, baseball’s oldest managers. Game 3 in this one is tonight, after I go to post.
--Separately, a 1911 “Shoeless” Joe Jackson autographed photograph by Frank W. Smith sold for $1.47 million, the most ever paid for a signed sports photograph.
The photo was offered by Christie’s and Hunt Auctions in New York.
According to Christie’s and the card and memorabilia grading giant PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), it is the only known Jackson-signed photo of himself in existence.
Jackson was notably illiterate and avoided signing documents if he could. His wife signed for him mostly after his playing days ended.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of the latest AP Poll]
A funny thing happened on the way to a Georgia-Alabama national title game. Texas A&M got in the way, rather rudely, Saturday, upsetting No. 1 ‘Bama 41-38; just one of a number of terrific games this weekend.
Alabama was trailing 31-17 with 8:00 to go in the third quarter in College Station when the Crimson Tide ran off 21 unanswered for a 38-31 lead with 5:00 to play.
But then A&M (4-2) tied it at 38 when quarterback Zach Calzada connected with Ainias Smith for a 25-yard touchdown with three minutes left. Calzada was hit as he threw the strike and had to be helped off the field but returned for the next game-winning drive that set up Seth Small’s 28-yard field goal as time expired, giving coach Jimbo Fisher, who had talked this spring of beating Alabama, a nice 56th birthday present, certainly the biggest win for the program since Fisher took over in 2018.
The thing is the much-maligned Fisher, he of the incredibly idiotic $95 million, 10-year extension in the offseason, when he already had seven years left on a $75 million deal, had seen his team lose the previous two weeks to Arkansas and Mississippi State. There was zero reason to expect this effort from the Aggies.
But ‘Bama (now 5-1) in recent years has been a bit loose on defense at times and while they outgained A&M 522-379 for the contest, in the clutch they came up small.
So gone is the Tide’s 19-game winning streak, not having lost since falling to Auburn 48-45 on Nov. 30, 2019.
And Fisher became the first former Nick Saban assistant to beat him, after they had gone 0-24. Saban had beaten Fisher their previous four head-to-heads.
A&M also ended Alabama’s streak of 100 wins over unranked teams.
Saban said after: “Everyone needs to remember how they feel and not forget it.”
Patrick Stevens / Washington Post
“It was hard, really hard, to proclaim open season on predictability in college football this season.
“Sure, Ohio State lost in the season’s second week and Clemson dropped two games in September. Cincinnati had its breakthrough high-end victory at Notre Dame, and Oregon found a way to fritter away a lot of goodwill by losing to Stanford.
“(OK, that last one is far from unprecedented).
“All of it seemed to be percolating just under the surface. Interesting? Yes. Capable of torpedoing what appeared to be an inevitable two-round fight between Alabama and Georgia come December and January, with everyone else filling supporting roles at best? Nah.
“Saturday night, then, delivered what feels like a season-altering result. Alabama’s 41-38 loss at Texas A&M is precisely the sort college football historically specializes in but has largely been without in the playoff era.
“The merciless Alabama/Clemson hegemony (with a dash of LSU or Ohio State thrown in from time to time) has made results like the Crimson Tide’s first loss since the 2019 Iron Bowl far less common. And so they must be appreciated all the more, considering just how many assumptions were shredded as a result.”
So what now? Let’s run through the other scores of import.
No. 2 Georgia (6-0) will become No. 1 after a solid 34-10 win at 18 Auburn (4-2).
In a huge contest in Iowa City, 3 Iowa (6-0), down 20-10 midway through the third, scored two field goals and a touchdown to beat 4 Penn State (5-1), the Nittany Lions with four turnovers. I can’t believe Iowa will be No. 2 now. They aren’t real exciting to watch, but the key Spencer Petras to Nico Ragaini 44-yard TD pass play for the winning score was a thing of beauty.
The Iowa defense, with four interceptions of the Penn State quarterbacks, now has 16 on the season.
For the Nittany Lions, they were hurt by the loss of quarterback Sean Clifford, knocked out early in the second, though he had thrown two picks.
Friday night, 5 Cincinnati just kept winning, now 5-0 after a 52-3 win over Temple (3-3), holding the Owls to just 235 yards of offense.
In another huge, and thrilling, affair, 6 Oklahoma (6-0) looked on offense like the team they were expected to be in the preseason, holding off 21 Texas (4-2) 55-48. Only the offense wasn’t led by preseason Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler, but rather freshman Caleb Williams, after Rattler was benched early.
Williams passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another two, while running back Kennedy Brooks picked up 217 yards on the ground with two TDs of his own.
The Sooners piled up 662 yards as they overcame deficits of 28-7 after just one quarter, and 38-20 at the half, for the terrific comeback, which with ‘Bama’s loss puts the Sooners right back into serious CFP contention (if they ever really were out of it).
It was a gutty move by Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley to remove Rattler early, and then at the same time, put him back in for a critical 2-point conversion that tied it at 41-41 with 7:25 to play.
For Texas, quarterback Casey Thompson was terrific, throwing for 388 yards and five touchdowns. The Longhorns will not move down in the polls after this one, rather they deserve to move up a notch or two.
7 Ohio State (5-1) is back in the conversation following a 66-17 win over Maryland (4-2), freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud with five TD passes.
8 Oregon was idle.
9 Michigan is 6-0 after a 32-29 come-from-behind win at improving Nebraska (3-4), the Wolverines with two late field goals after trailing 29-26 with 7:00 to play.
10 BYU will tumble down to about No. 24 in the polls after a terrible 26-17 loss in Provo to a bad Boise State (3-3) team, the Cougars (5-1) with four turnovers.
11 Michigan State is 6-0 after a 31-13 win at Rutgers (3-3), as Spartans QB Payton Thorne hooked up with receiver Jalen Nailor on three big scoring strikes, Nailor with a 5-222-3 slash line.
Rutgers actually played pretty well, but gave up four massive plays of 63, 63, 65, and 94 yards, all for touchdowns, that last one a run by Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker, who had 232 yards rushing on the day.
Ah, the frustration continues for Scarlet Knights fans. You can’t talk about improvement in the program without ‘Ws.’
13 Arkansas (4-2) and 17 Ole Miss (4-1) hooked up in an amazing contest that was literally back-and-forth the entire way, Lane Kiffin’s Rebels stopping a final Razorbacks 2-point conversion attempt for the win as time expired.
For Arkansas, quarterback KJ Jefferson accounted for six touchdowns (3 rushing, 3 passing), while Ole Miss QB Matt Corral had four TDs (2 and 2).
It’s too bad one of these had to lose a game like this.
14 Notre Dame is 5-1 after a 32-29 comeback win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, the Hokies falling to 3-2. Mark R.’s Fighting Irish still in the conversation, sort of.
Thursday night, 15 Coastal Carolina improved to 6-0 with a 52-20 win over Arkansas State (1-5). For Johnny Mac’s Chanticleers, quarterback Grayson McCall hooked up with tight end Isaiah Likely on four touchdowns, Likely 8-232-4 overall, including a 99-yard strike. McCall is completing 79.8% of his passes this season.
16 Kentucky stayed undefeated at 6-0 with a 42-21 win at home over LSU (3-3), Tigers coach Ed Orgeron on the hot seat as his team blows.
In other games of note, Paul P.’s No. 24 SMU is 6-0 after a 31-24 win over Navy (1-4), the Mustangs about the only threat to Cincinnati’s CFP hopes down the road.
25 San Diego State is 5-0 after a 31-7 win over New Mexico (2-4).
USC dropped to 3-3 in losing to Utah (3-2) 42-26 at the Coliseum, the first time the Trojans lost to Utah at home since 1916! Goodness gracious. Steve G. said to make matters worse, they didn’t even show the USC cheerleaders on the broadcast, which is a travesty.
Florida State (2-4) got a superb effort from quarterback Jordan Travis, 11/13, 145, 3-0 passing, 121 yards and two scores on the ground, as the Seminoles upset North Carolina (3-3).
The disappointing Tar Heels will be looking for a new head coach after the season as there is zero doubt in my mind Mack Brown will call it a day.
Virginia (4-2) beat Louisville (3-3) 34-33…these two victims of Wake Forest in recent weeks.
So, speaking of my Demon Deacons, I can now officially say, “2021 is lining up to be a special season.”
The No. 19 Wake (6-0 for the first time since 1944) will move up a slot or two after another thriller, a 40-37 overtime win at Syracuse (3-3).
For the third straight game the Deacs’ defense gave up over 500 yards, but it’s a classic case of bend, but not break….Wake always seeming to come up with the crucial stop or turnover, as was the case with a late interception of Cuse QB Garrett Shrader, who was otherwise terrific, rushing for 178 yards, running back Sean Tucker with another 153.
But Wake quarterback Sam Hartman once again got it done, 19/32, 330, 3-1, all three of his scoring strikes to A.T. Perry (3-137-3), including the winner in overtime.
The Deacs now face Army and Duke after an off week, so us fans are counting on 8-0, before the final four against North Carolina, N.C. State, Clemson and Boston College.
That final stretch looked brutal before the season started, now not so much. As in 9-3 at this point would be a disappointment.
By the way, imagine if the Deacs had Kenneth Walker, now starring with Michigan State, still on the roster. That’s why this transfer portal issue is such a huge deal.
I do have to say a word about Syracuse coach Dino Babers. Having watched this entire game, and many of Syracuse other efforts with Babers at the helm, he is just not a good coach, and I’m being kind.
Lastly, I do have to note the battle of the winless….representing the Island of Misfit Toys. UMass picked up its first win, handing UConn (0-7) a 27-13 loss. 12,765 fans actually showed up in Amherst for this one. Jeff B., my deepest sympathies.
So now…the highly-anticipated new AP Poll!
1. Georgia (62) 6-0…unanimous
2. Iowa 6-0
3. Cincinnati 5-0…this is big…best ranking ever…
4. Oklahoma 6-0
5. Alabama 5-1
6. Ohio State 5-1
7. Penn State 5-1
8. Michigan 6-0
9. Oregon 4-1
10. Michigan State 6-0
11. Kentucky 6-0…meteoric rise…best ranking since 2011
12. Oklahoma State 5-0
13. Mississippi 4-1
14. Notre Dame 5-1
15. Coastal Carolina 6-0
16. Wake Forest 6-0…wow…
17. Arkansas 4-2
18. Arizona State 5-1
19. BYU 5-1…should be 24…
20. Florida 4-2
21. Texas A&M 4-2
22. North Carolina State 4-1
23. SMU 6-0
24. San Diego State 5-0
25. Texas 4-2…not fair…s/b 22…
So the Big Ten has five in the top 10 for the first time in the history of the AP poll, which dates to 1936.
Georgia hosts Kentucky next weekend.
--Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden is in deep trouble after a 2011 email was uncovered that showed Gruden using a racist trope to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal Friday.
In the email, which was sent during the 2011 lockout, Gruden wrote that: “Dumboriss [sic] Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires.”
Gruden told the Journal he did not recall sending the email in question and apologized for it. He added that he sometimes describes people as having “rubber lips” when he thinks they are lying.
“I used a horrible way of explaining it,” Gruden told the paper. “I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar. …I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”
Smith, meanwhile, told the newspaper that the email is not the first racist comment he’s heard “and it probably will not be the last.”
“Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs,” he said. “I’m sorry my family has to see something like this but I would rather they know. I will not let it define me.”
As of Saturday, Gruden said he had reached out to Smith but had yet to hear back from him.
An NFL spokesperson, Brian McCarthy, said league executives were reviewing the emails and that any pertaining to Gruden are being shared with Raiders executives. Owner Mark Davis said, “We are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time.”
Gruden then told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that among the emails forwarded to the Raiders was one disparaging commissioner Roger Goodell.
“I was in a bad frame of mind at the time [in 2011], and I called Roger Goodell a [expletive] in one of these emails too. They were keeping players and coaches from doing what they love with a lockout. There also were a lot of things being reported publicly about the safety of the sport that I love. I was on a mission with high school football [in the Tampa, Florida area] during that time, and there were a lot of parents who were scared about letting their kids play football. It just didn’t sit well with me.”
Gruden said he had harsh words for a handful of team owners, though didn’t identify them.
Gruden has to be disciplined for his comments against Smith, maybe suspended without pay for two games…just my thought. He then should receive a bonus for blasting Goodell (just kidding, sports fans!).
DeMaurice Smith is under no obligation to talk to Gruden on this matter.
As for the Raiders’ locker room, they’ll issue their own judgment.
Meanwhile, in game action….
--Thursday night, Matthew Stafford and the Rams improved to 4-1 vs. a 26-17 win over the Seahawks (2-3), Stafford 25/37, 365, 1-1, 97.3; Robert Woods with a monster game, catching 12 of Stafford’s throws for 150 yards.
But Seattle’s season is toast as quarterback Russell Wilson ruptured a tendon in the middle finger of his right hand and will miss an estimated four weeks, maybe more. Geno Smith will attempt to rally the team in his place.
--Sunday morning in London at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Jets got off to another dreadful start and trailed the lowly Falcons 20-3 at the half. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson then attempted to rally New York in the second, and they moved the ball some, but he threw a key pick and the Jets fell to 1-4, 27-20, as Atlanta’s Matt Ryan showed that this old veteran still has the goods, 33/45, 342, 2-0, 109.7, the Falcons 2-3. As in if it wasn’t my Jets, I never would have tuned in for a second of this one.
--And then in the 1:00 games, us New York area fans, with the Giants at 4:25 p.m., had the opportunity to watch the 3-1 Bengals host the 3-1 Packers. I’m the kind who sticks with one game as long as it’s close, and it was a terrific contest, until it got beyond weird and with the score 22-22, time winding down, we had something we haven’t had in the league in 30 years…five straight missed field goals, three by the Packers’ Mason Crosby after he had made 27 straight! The Bengals’ Evan McPherson doinked a 57-yarder off the right upright that would have won it in regulation, though with time on the clock, Aaron Rodgers and Co. suddenly gave Crosby one more attempt from 51 and he missed that one.
The five misses, including two in overtime, was just an unreal, yet totally enthralling (not being a fan of either) spectacle…and then right as Crosby was preparing to set up for a 49-yarder with 2:00 to go in OT, F’N FOX SPORTS SWITCHED TO THE ‘GAME OF THE WEEK’, GIANTS-COWBOYS!
To paraphrase Jeff Spicoli, “What d---s!” [Sorry if this offends some of you…actually, not really, as it was reminiscent of 1968 and the “Heidi Game” for us old-timers.]
Well, Crosby finally nailed the game-winner, 25-22, Green Bay 4-1, Cincy 3-2, but many of us didn’t see it live, which is the point of watching a whole freakin’ game….live! To see the ending, live!
Lost in the late chaos involving the kickers was the fact the Packers’ Davante Adams had 11 catches for 206 yards and a score, while Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase had his breakout game, catching six of Joe Burrow’s passes for 159 yards and a TD.
--Pittsburgh found its groove, now 2-3 after a nice 27-19 win at home against Denver (3-2), as Big Ben threw for 253 yards and two scores, while Alabama rookie Najee Harris had his best game, rumbling for 122 yards and a score on the ground.
--Carolina fans saw the real Sam Darnold, who often tortured Jets fans, as he threw three picks, the Panthers (3-2) falling to the Eagles (2-3) 21-18 in what must have been a dreadful game to watch, Philly outgaining Carolina 273-267.
--78-year-old Tom Brady, eschewing his walker, had one of the finest games of his 57-year career, 30/41, 411, 5-0, 144.4, as the Bucs improved to 4-1 with a 45-17 pasting of the 1-4 Dolphins. Antonio Brown and Mike Evans had two touchdown receptions apiece for Tampa Bay.
--New Orleans is 3-2 after a 33-22 road win at Washington (2-3), as Jameis Winston threw four touchdown passes, while WFT’s Taylor Heinicke was dreadful at QB.
--The Giants (1-4) lost to the Cowboys (4-1) 44-20, and also lost quarterback Daniel Jones to a scary concussion, Saquon Barkley to a gruesome looking ankle injury, and receiver Kenny Golloday to a knee injury. Other than that, the team said everything is hunky-dory.
For Dallas, Dak Prescott threw for three touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 110 yards and a score.
--Arizona is 5-0 after a 17-10 win over San Francisco (2-3).
--The Chargers are 4-1 following a wild 47-42 win over the Browns (3-2), as Justin Herbert threw for four touchdowns and rushed for another, while Austin Ekeler had three scores.
For Cleveland, Baker Mayfield passed for two touchdowns and had a 122.7 PR, while Nick Chubb rushed for 161 and a score.
--As for the other games, I couldn’t care less.
At the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas, we had a pretty good field, with the likes of Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama…Louis Oosthuizen, Jacquin Niemann. We also had some high-profile players fail to make the cut, including Rickie Fowler (still struggling), Will Zalatoris, Harris English and Patrick Reed.
And so heading to the final round, we had this as a leaderboard.
Adam Schenk -18
Matthew Wolff -17
Andrew Putnam -16
Sam Burns -16
Chad Ramey -16
The five have a combined four PGA Tour wins.
So it was hoped Burns or Wolff would emerge victorious, for the sake of interest.
But in the end, Sungjae Im, the Iron Man of the sport, picked up his second career win with an impressive 9-under 62.
--We have had two ginormous heavyweight title bouts the past few weeks. First it was Anthony Joshua being upset by Oleksandr Usyk for the unified heavyweight championship.
And then last night in Las Vegas, Tyson Fury retained his WBC title but only after rising from the canvas twice before knocking out Deontay Wilder in the 11th round of what was called a spellbinding bout.
The third fight between these two was the most riveting with five knockdowns in total, Wilder the first to go over after being put on his back in the face of some punishing blows from his great rival.
Wilder not only survived the third round but turned the fight on its head in round four with his famed right hand decking Fury twice as Fury fought to hold on.
Then Fury regained the upper hand, evening up the knockdown in the 10th before a flurry in the penultimate round brought an end to the bout.
Fury said in the ring afterwards: “It was a great fight, worthy of the best trilogies… Wilder is a top fighter, he gave me a run for my money.”
Few gave Wilder any chance of reversing the result that saw him lose his title 20 months ago, when he was left bloodied and broken following a savage beating from Fury, who was making his first defense of that crown. The first bout, in December 2018, ended in a controversial draw.
Wilder (now 42-2-1, 41 KOs) had exercised his right to a third meeting with Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) via a U.S. arbitrator, which ended Fury’s hopes of a UK showdown against Anthony Joshua this summer.
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) has exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch with Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) in early spring.
Meantime, the longstanding WBC No. 1 contender, Dillian Whyte, should he beat Otto Wallin on Oct. 30 in London, could be in line to fight Tyson Fury in the first half of 2022.
Marc Kriegel / ESPN.com
“This is not a good time for boxing. There are fighters who talk and post more than they fight. There are influencers posing as fighters. There is a plague of fugazy titles and promotions that can’t work together. But for a night at least, this was an antidote for all of it. This was better than comic books. What happened on Saturday at T-Mobile exceeded even the Hollywood conception of a fight. Turns out the sport is still capable of producing profane majesty.”
--No Premier League action this weekend, as we had World Cup qualifying matches, but a bid led by a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund won the right to purchase Newcastle United, concluding 18 months of wrangling related to concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and accusations of pirating sports broadcast rights.
--Federal authorities Thursday charged 18 former NBA players, including Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Sebastian Telfair, with defrauding the league’s health-care plan out of nearly $4 million, according to an indictment unsealed in federal court in New York.
From 2017 to 2020, the indictment states, the players submitted phony invoices to the NBA’s health benefit plan for reimbursements for services they never actually received from a chiropractor’s office, two dental offices and a “wellness office” that specialized in “sexual health, anti-aging, and general well-being.”
Terrence Williams, the scheme’s alleged ringleader, was a 2009 draft lottery pick who spent four years in the NBA before an extended career overseas. Prosecutors say Williams, 34, circulated the false invoices to the others in exchange for kickbacks.
--Hey New York Rangers fans…the team signed Mika Zibanejad to an 8-year extension! This is good…very, very good. The guy had a lousy start to last season due to a major battle with Covid, which we didn’t learn about until later, but you saw how he finished strong.
--Way back in 1999, when I started StocksandNews, I took a trip to Poland and among the sites I wanted to see was the birthplace of Frederic Chopin, Zelazowa Wola, a beautiful spot 30 miles outside Warsaw. There was a pianist playing Chopin from the house on this particular beautiful spring day as my (equally beautiful) tour guide and I walked the gardens, Chopin etudes wafting through the air. Very cool. [The same guide/driver the day before drove me to Treblinka, which wasn’t so beautiful.]
Then, some of you may recall on a trip to Paris, I went to find Chopin’s grave* (in case you can’t tell, I’m a big fan) at Pere Lachaise, which I knew was near Jim Morrison’s grave, which I found, but I couldn’t find Chopin! Big disappointment. [I had no guide in this instance.]
*Chopin’s heart was removed and is kept today at a basilica in Warsaw.
Anyway, I bring this up because a badly deteriorated portrait of Chopin purchased nearly 30 years ago at a Polish flea market dates back to the time of the 19th-century composer himself, and an expert announced at the Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw this week (one of the world’s most prestigious events in classical music), that it is Chopin.
An art restoration expert at Nicolaus Copernicus University said, “We know nothing of its history or who it was painted for.”
The work has been fully restored and sits in a bank vault in Poland.
--Yikes…a performer was killed during an opera at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow on Saturday when there was an accident during a scene change. Russian news reports said that the man had been crushed by a piece of scenery, and videos of the event that circulated online showed it happening as a backdrop descended to the stage. The chorus kept singing and the orchestra continued to play, when there was a sudden commotion. Performers waved their arms and shouted “Stop!” The music ground to a halt, the curtains closed, and the audience was asked to leave.
The Bolshoi has a history of strange incidents. Once, a violinist died after falling into the orchestra pit.
I’ve been to the Bolshei three times in three trips to Moscow, once after a major Chechen terrorist attack on a Moscow theater and it was winter (November – which is winter in Moscow). I was wearing a heavy overcoat as I entered the theater, as everyone else was, and there was no security to check us out! I found this incredible, as I wrote then in that other column I sign my name to.
Top 3 songs for the week 10/10/64: #1 “Oh, Pretty Woman” (Roy Orbison) #2 “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” (Manfred Mann) #3 “Dancing In The Street” (Martha & The Vandellas…timeless tune…)…and…#4 “Bread And Butter” (The Newbeats) #5 “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)” (The Shangri-Las) #6 “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine” (Gale Garnett…immensely depressing song…) #7 “It Hurts To Be In Love” (Gene Pitney…good one…) #8 “G.T.O.” (Ronny & The Daytonas) #9 “Last Kiss” (J. Frank Wilson and The Cavaliers…teenage angst…pre-Instagram…) #10 “A Summer Song” (Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde…B week…)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Six pitchers to be named World Series MVP since 2000.
2019 – Stephen Strasburg (Washington)
2014 – Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco)
2008 – Cole Hamels (Philadelphia)
2003 – Josh Beckett (Florida)
2001 – Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson (Arizona)
I’ll have an Add-On up top by Wed. noon.