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Wake Forest is in the Top Ten
Add-On posted early Wed. a.m.
It was pretty clear to me after Adam Duvall hit the first-inning grand slam in Game 5 Sunday night in Atlanta to give the Braves a 4-0 lead, the Series was over.
But then the Astros stormed back to win it, 9-5, and I thought, Series over…no way Braves win next two in Houston.
Good thing I wasn’t betting on this. Last night, Atlanta captured their first World Series championship since 1995 as Max Fried threw six shutout innings, and Jorge Soler, Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman all homered, the Braves taking Game 6, 7-0, and the Series 4-2. Soler was selected Series MVP.
No one deserves more praise than Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos, the architect of the midseason turnaround, who engineered the July trades that brought in a Fab Four – Joc Pederson, Soler, Eddie Rosario and Duvall.
This was a team that lost superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. at the midpoint and was 52-55 on Aug. 1, got great energy and production from the four acquisitions and the Braves went on a roll the rest of the way.
As for Max Fried, this was a career-defining moment and the 27-year-old with a sterling 40-18 regular-season record could go on to true greatness.
So congrats to 66-year-old manager, and baseball lifer, Brian Snitker. As for 72-year-old Astros manager Dusty Baker, he’s still ringless. We’re assuming he comes back.
So we had the first College Football Rankings Tuesday night (every Tues. from here on until the finale, Sun. Dec. 5, after all the conference championship games).
As for the games this weekend, there are three key ones, the following three comments written before the release of the CFP….
My Wake Forest Demon Deacons must win at North Carolina (4-4), though I expect a shootout and a tension convention in the fourth quarter, which I guess is why the Tar Heels are a 2.5-point favorite.
2 (AP) Cincinnati at Tulsa to me is huge. The Bearcats, 22.5-point favorites, better blow out the Golden Hurricane or you can basically kiss their CFP hopes goodbye after their underwhelming performances the last two weeks.
And 12 Auburn and 13 Texas A&M goes a long way towards telling us whether Auburn can give Alabama a real test come Nov. 27.
Now the CFP rankings….as ESPN revealed them. [Don’t worry, just showing it this way one time.]
25. Pitt 6-2
24. San Diego State 7-1
23. Fresno State 7-2
22. Iowa 6-2
21. Wisconsin 5-3
20. Minnesota 6-2
19. N.C. State 6-2
18. Kentucky 6-2
17. Mississippi State 5-3…wow…no way
16. Ole Miss 6-2
15. BYU 7-2
14. Texas A&M 6-2
13. Auburn 6-2
12. Baylor 7-1
11. Oklahoma State 7-1
10. Notre Dame 7-1
9. Wake Forest 8-0…Go Deacs!
8. Oklahoma 9-0…double wow…No. 4 AP
7. Michigan 7-1
6. Cincinnati 8-0…I’ve been saying off the last two weeks, no way they were No. 2, and the committee totally agreed.
5. Ohio State 7-1
4. Oregon 7-1…just not that good, despite the win against Ohio State. Won’t stay here.
3. Michigan State 8-0
2. Alabama 7-1
1. Georgia 8-0
No Houston (AP No. 20) or SMU (AP 23), or UTSA (No. 16) and Coastal Carolina (No. 24).
--TCU coach Gary Patterson is now former coach Patterson. After a 3-5 start, the school asked Patterson to finish out the season but he declined.
Patterson leaves after 20 years and a sterling 181-79 record, .696 winning percentage, with six AP final top tens, including a perfect season, 13-0, in 2010, where the Horned Frogs finished second to Auburn and Cam Newton in the final poll, despite being a member of the Mountain West.
But TCU had lost its last three this season, all in the Big 12, including last week’s 31-12 defeat against Kansas State, and hadn’t finished ranked in the AP poll since 2017, when they went 11-2. The past four seasons, the Horned Frogs were 21-22.
Patterson was 11-6 in 17 bowl games.
--Monday night, I was down in Delaware with my brother, watching the Giants fall to the Chiefs in Kansas City, 20-17…another late collapse due to mistakes, New York a dismal 2-6, the disappointing Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes just 4-4.
For the Giants, coach Joe Judge had the same-old, same-old explanations for his team’s failure down the stretch after, when asked why the Giants can’t finish.
“I don’t have a blanket answer for that right there,” Judge said. “I’m going to look at each one individually and make sure that we have all the techniques correct – and that guys are making the right decisions at that moment in time. Obviously, we can’t have those things come up.”
The game was tied at 17-17 when New York’s Darnay Holmes intercepted Mahomes at the Chiefs’ 34-yard line with 4:29 left. But outside linebacker Oshane Ximines had jumped offsides, negating the pick. And it wasn’t as if Ximines burst out of his stance to rush Mahomes.
If the pick stood, the Giants had the chance for a game-winning field goal.
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post
“The problem is a simple one, and a sobering one.
“Bad teams find a way. Week after week after week.
“Bad teams figure out how to play 50 minutes of inspired ball and allow it all to be sabotaged by 10 minutes of miserable ball. Bad teams commit brutal, ill-timed penalties – and don’t get the benefit of the doubt when one of them turns out to be a phantom call.
“Bad teams, always, are the ones who wind up inventing postgame issues like Joe Judge did with the Giants’ faulty headsets, a bad look all the way around. Judge wouldn’t say if that’s a team issue or a league issue, and it’s best to drop it now; if it’s a team issue someone should be fired at once; if it’s a league issue you have to wonder why the Giants have been the only ones to complain about this.”
The NFL said there were no headset issues on their end.
--New Orleans (5-2) had a stirring 36-27 win over Tampa Bay (6-2) late Sunday, as quarterback Jameis Winston went out with a torn ACL, hurt while scrambling out of the pocket and being dragged down by linebacker Devin White on a play that drew a 15-yard penalty for an illegal horse-collar tackle.
Journeyman Trevor Semian came in to replace Winston (out for the season) and passed for 159 yards and a touchdown, while not turning the ball over.
--Tennessee star running back Derrick Henry had surgery on his injured right foot Tuesday, a crushing blow for the 6-2 Titans. It’s unknown whether Henry will be out the rest of the season, though most reports have him being so, which would be devastating.
Tennessee signed Adrian Peterson, 36, to the practice squad with the expectation he will be added to the active roster.
--Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was arrested and charged with drunk-driving resulting in death. The team then released him.
In the early hours of Tuesday, Vegas police said the 22-year-old slammed into the rear of another vehicle, causing it to catch fire.
Emergency services found the car in flames with the deceased female victim inside. Her dog also died.
Ruggs – who suffered minor injuries and was treated in hospital – showed “signs of impairment” at the scene, police said.
“Ruggs will be charged with DUI resulting in death,” the Las Vegas Police Department statement said.
He faces a minimum of two years behind bars if convicted and a maximum of 20 years, according to Nevada state sentencing guidelines.
Ruggs, a speedster, was selected No. 12 in the 2020 NFL draft and was averaging 19.5 yards per reception with two touchdowns this season.
--The Rams once again proved they are all-in for this year…Super Bowl or bust. Los Angeles dealt two 2022 draft picks (2nd- and third-rounders) to the Denver Broncos for future Hall of Famer Von Miller, the 8X Pro Bowl pass rusher.
Having spewed out draft picks in recent seasons to acquire cornerback Jalen Ramsey and quarterback Matthew Stafford, two foundation pieces of their NFL-best 7-1 team, the Rams have only four draft picks next year.
But the fact is that while there are 32 first-round players, the difference between a player taken late in the first and an early third-rounder is small.
The Broncos are paying $9 million of Miller’s remaining salary, for which they coaxed another pick out of L.A.
--Deshaun Watson was not traded at the deadline by Houston, and so Watson remains tied to the Texans at least through the end of this season unless they release him. Houston will probably continue to keep Watson on their game-day inactive list on a weekly basis. They can revisit trade discussions with the Dolphins and other NFL teams during the upcoming offseason.
By then there might be more clarity on his legal situation as he continues to face accusations of sexual misconduct in 22 civil lawsuits.
Watson signed a four-year, $156 million extension with the Texans last year, thus the reason the team will still have control in the offseason.
--In a move that wasn’t a surprise, Tottenham replaced manager Nuno Espirito Santo on Monday, with Antonio Conte agreeing to a contract to June 2023, with an option to extend. Conte won the Premier League with Chelsea in 2017.
It was too much for management to lose last Saturday to Manchester United 3-0, but Conte had turned down the club’s offer to replace Joes Mourinho earlier this year. Nuno lasted only 17 matches.
“I am extremely happy to return to coaching, and to do so at a Premier League club that has the ambition to be a protagonist again,” Conte said. “Tottenham Hotspur has state-of-the-art facilities and one of the best stadiums in the world.
“I can’t wait to start working to convey to the team and the fans the passion, mentality and determination that have always distinguished me, as a player and as a coach.”
The stadium has a lot to do with the decision, as well as the early-season lackluster play of the Spurs. The team has massive debt after building the spectacular palace (showcased in recent NFL games) and it can ill afford not to make the Champions League each year, which as I told you last time brings in $20 million+ for, first making it into the competition, and then gaining at least two wins in group stage play, and potentially a lot more.
--Try to catch at least the final 20 laps of the NASCAR finale this Sunday in Arizona…Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin battling it out for the Cup. It’s a tension convention.
--And we have the Breeder’s Cup Classic Saturday afternoon. J. Mac, we need to remind each other of this one, amidst all the college football action.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted Sun. p.m., prior to late sports action, including Game 5 of the World Series.]
I’m taking a brief 36-hour vacation…and will have an Add-On up top by noon, Wed.
Heisman Trophy Quiz: I was reading a piece by Chuck Culpepper in the Washington Post on Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III, a top Heisman Trophy candidate, and Culpepper mentions how running backs won the Heisman 11 years in a row, 1973-83, so how many of these can you name. Answer below.
Heading into Sunday night’s Game 5 in Atlanta, the Braves were on the verge of taking their first Series title in 26 years, since beating the Cleveland Indians in 1995, following 2-0 and 3-2 wins over Houston in Games 3 and 4, Friday and Saturday nights.
Friday, Atlanta right-hander Ian Anderson threw five innings of no-hit ball, but after 70 pitches he was pulled, Braves Manager Brian Snitker saying after, “I was like ‘Ian, I’m going with my gut right here. My eyes. My gut. It’s been real easy to let him go out there. I don’t know.”
Anderson said, “I knew he wasn’t going to budge.”
The Braves prevailed as A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith held the Astros to just two hits over the final four, while former Met Travis d’Arnaud blasted a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth for a big insurance run.
Anderson now has a 1.26 ERA in his first 8 career postseason starts, which trails only Orlando Hernandez (1.22) and Christy Mathewson (0.99). Cliff Lee is also at 1.26.
But a lot of folks weren’t happy Anderson was pulled. To be fair, at 70 pitches through five, there was no way he was going nine (he has thrown 100 pitches just twice in his brief career and has never retired a batter in the eighth), but it’s symbolic of an issue plaguing the sport as interest in baseball wanes.
Joel Sherman / New York Post
“(The) biggest issue of the 117th World Series, to date, revolves around an existential matter hovering over the game – that what is good for teams is so often bad for the game. Namely, teams are built to win and have reams of data that show the best way to do so and oftentimes that style leads to a longer, more boring, less entertaining product. It is part of the large brew that the union and MLB are trying to work through as they negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. They notably would love to find a way to revive the preeminence of starting pitching.
“Anderson actually should be central casting for the type to do it. He is no modern, max-effort-on-every-pitch firebreather. He has craft and fortitude. He also has a 1.26 ERA through his first eight postseason starts….But the smaller chunk of innings he did it in leaves Anderson as not quite the October star of others (like Orlando Hernandez, Lee and Orel Hershiser)….
“ ‘The goal of every game is to get a win,’ Atlanta catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. ‘The no-hitter would have been a bonus.’
“I understand the sentiment. But I sure would have liked to see Anderson try to produce baseball magic.”
Last night, Atlanta won it 3-2, as Dansby Swanson and pinch-hitter Jorge Soler went back-to-back for homers in the seventh.
Good luck, Bravos…Chief Noc-A-Homa would be proud.
--The Padres hired Bob Melvin as their manager. The 60-year-old was Oakland’s skipper since 2011 and was under contract for 2022 after the A’s picked up the option on his deal. But he was allowed to interview with the Padres, and the three-time Manager of the Year is moving on.
Melvin guided the resource-poor A’s to six playoffs in ten seasons, though with limited success in October.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of new AP poll.]
Excitement is building today in Wake Forest land. After a truly dominating performance against Duke (3-5), 45-7, the Deacs outgaining the Blue Devils 677-315, for the first time in school history No. 13 Wake is 8-0 and after what happened to some schools in front of them, the Deacs should grab the No. 10 spot in the new poll.
Quarterback Sam Hartman was spectacular again, 24/37, 402, 3-0, plus 61 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. It’s been a total team effort and as Hartman put it after, so far the Demon Deacons are buying in, not worried about individual stats. Will they continue to do so?
So now it’s North Carolina (a non-conference game), N.C. State, Clemson and Boston College to finish out and it would be an extreme disappointment if they didn’t win at least two of them.
Unfortunately for Wake, if they were to harbor CFP hopes, they needed 17 Pitt to defeat Miami, but the Hurricanes (4-4) are suddenly an entirely different team as freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke has emerged as a star, a huge shot in the arm for the program.
Van Dyke threw for 426 yards and three touchdowns as Miami overcame another record-setting performance from Panthers QB Kenny Pickett, 39/55, 519, 3-2, but Pickett threw a critical interception late and Miami beat a ranked team for the second week in a row (N.C. State the other), Pitt falling to 6-2.
Wake needed Pitt to run the table, which would have made the ACC championship game a biggie should Wake qualify for it.
[Kenny Pickett broke Dan Marino’s school record for total career touchdowns, ending the game at 84, Marino’s record having been 82. He also became the first Pitt quarterback to throw for 500 yards.]
Meanwhile, from the top….
1 Georgia (8-0) will be a unanimous No. 1 again after a 34-7 win at struggling Florida (4-4), though it was not exactly an impressive performance for the Bulldogs, who turned it over three times, but capitalized on the Gators’ three TOs of their own.
2 Cincinnati (8-0) for a second straight week did not look like a final four pick and they should fall a notch, defeating Tulane (1-7) 31-12. Last week the Bearcats beat Navy just 27-20.
And as in the case of Wake and Pitt, Cincy’s shot at the playoffs were dealt a blow when 19 SMU suffered its first loss, falling to a good Houston (7-1) team 44-37, as the Cougars got a 100-yard kickoff return from Marcus Jones* with 0:17 in the game, breaking a 37-37 tie.
*Jones has two touchdowns on kick returns this season as well as two punt returns for scores. Pretty, pretty good.
Cincinnati needed SMU to stay undefeated before they hook up Nov. 20. Now the Mustangs should fall out of the top 25, replaced by Houston. Cincinnati and Houston are now headed for a conference title matchup.
Back to the top ten, 3 Alabama was idle and has an easy schedule the rest of the way before their SEC title game against Georgia. [Sorry Auburn fans…you aren’t beating ‘Bama on Nov. 27.]
4 Oklahoma (9-0) got the blowout win it needed against Texas Tech (5-4) 52-21, as Caleb Williams threw for six touchdowns.
5 Ohio State (7-1) withstood a solid effort from 20 Penn State (5-3), beating the Nittany Lions 33-24, the Buckeyes an 18.5-point favorite.
In a huge game, 6 Michigan suffered its first loss (7-1) as coach Jim Harbaugh once again failed to get a big signature win, falling in East Lansing to 8 Michigan State (8-0) 37-33, as Wake transfer, and distinct Heisman candidate, running back Kenneth Walker III, rumbled for 197 yards and five touchdowns.
The Wolverines outgained the Spartans 555-395, but Harbaugh is now 3-9 in rivalry games against the Spartans and Ohio State and 2-13 in games against top-10 competition. In games against everyone else, Harbaugh’s record is 54-10.
7 Oregon (7-1) stayed in the conversation (due to the early season win at Ohio State) with a 52-29 win over Colorado (2-6), as quarterback Anthony Brown had his best game passing the ball, 25/31, 307, 3-0.
OU also may have discovered a new running back, freshman Byron Cardwell, who had 127 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries.
But every other school in the Pac-12 has at least three losses, not good for the Ducks’ CFP hopes.
9 Iowa fell to 6-2 (and helped Wake Forest) in suffering a 27-7 loss at Wisconsin (5-3), the Hawkeyes turning it over three times (all fumbles) and picking up just 156 yards of offense.
The Wisconsin win helps the Deacs in that it makes Wake Forest’s 70-56 win at Army look a little better when you consider the Black Knights lost at Wisconsin just 20-14 weeks earlier.
10 Ole Miss (6-2) will also be passed by the Demon Deacons, after the Rebels fell to 18 Auburn (6-2) 31-20. Ole Miss QB Matt Corral’s Heisman hopes went out the window.
And Wake Forest was aided by Mississippi State’s (5-3) win over 12 Kentucky (6-2).
11 Notre Dame (7-1) will rise to at least No. 9 with a 44-34 win against North Carolina (4-4) as Kyren Williams rushed for 202 yards, including a 91-yard TD scamper. The Fighting Irish are definitely New Year’s Six bound, maybe against Wake Forest, Mark R. [ND alum]
15 Oklahoma State (7-1) romped over Kansas (1-7) 55-3.
16 Baylor (7-1) will move up smartly following a 31-24 win over puzzling Texas (4-4), the Longhorns again giving up a 3rd-quarter double-digit lead, a la their contests against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
21 San Diego State (7-1) will fall out of the rankings after a 30-20 loss at home to a solid Fresno State (7-2) team.
What a rollercoaster season for 22 Iowa State (5-3), who will exit the top 25 with a 38-31 loss at West Virginia (4-4).
24 Coastal Carolina (7-1) will stay in the top 25 with a 35-28 win over Troy (4-4).
25 BYU was awesome on offense, 734 yards, 266 of them on the ground in a career effort for NFL-bound Tyler Allgeier (29-266-5 touchdowns), as the Cougars moved to 7-2 with a 66-49 shootout win over Virginia (6-3).
The visiting Cavaliers were down 21-0 and 28-7, before rallying to take a 35-31 lead in the second quarter. And Virginia was up 49-45 after three, before BYU responded with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Lastly, Rutgers got a badly needed win at Illinois (3-6), 20-14, as the Scarlet Knights improved to 4-4.
And Syracuse is now 5-4 with a 21-6 win over Boston College (4-4), as Sean Tucker rushed for 207 yards and a touchdown. Tucker is having a helluva season…1,267 yards on the ground, a 6.3 average per carry.
So now…the new AP poll…
And Wake Forest is No. 10…highest ranking ever!
1. Georgia (63) 8-0
2. Cincinnati 8-0…can’t believe they are still No. 2.
3. Alabama 7-1
4. Oklahoma 9-0
5. Michigan State 8-0…leapfrogged OSU
6. Ohio State 7-1
7. Oregon 7-1
8. Notre Dame 7-1
9. Michigan 7-1
10. Wake Forest 8-0
11. Oklahoma State 7-1
12. Auburn 6-2
13. Texas A&M 6-2
14. Baylor 7-1
15. Mississippi 6-2
16. UTSA 8-0…wow
17. BYU 7-2
18. Kentucky 6-2
19. Iowa 6-2
20. Houston 7-1
21. Coastal Carolina 7-1
22. Penn State 5-3
23. SMU 7-1
24. Louisiana-Lafayette 7-1…huh
25. Fresno State 7-2
Wake Forest had been the only Power Five team to have never been ranked in the top 10.
So where will the CFP put them when they release their first rankings Tuesday night? Where will Cincinnati be?
--At this point in the season, if a game involves two teams under .500, and it’s not either the Jets or Giants, sorry, don’t care.
--But out of nowhere, with Mike White making his first NFL start at quarterback for the Jets in place of the injured Zach Wilson against the first-place Bengals at MetLife Stadium, the team came out with real energy, as White hit his first seven passes, though he threw two interceptions in the first half and New York fumbled one away.
Despite the three turnovers, however, the Jets only trailed the heavily-favored Bengals 17-14 at the intermission, having outgained them 261-119.
So we move to the fourth quarter, the energy still there, though the Jets down 31-20, and White rallied the team to a touchdown, two-point conversion missed, 31-26, 4:43 to play, and then Shaq Lawson made a terrific play, batting down a Joe Burrow pass on the first play following the kickoff, picking it out of the air, and the Jets took over at the 14-yard line. Two plays later, White hit Tyler Kroft for a touchdown and then on a razzle-dazzle two-point attempt, White caught a pass from Jamison Crowder, the Jets going on to win it 34-31.
White was a sterling 37/45, 405 yards, and three touchdowns…the first Jet QB, incredibly, to throw for 400 since 2000!
I also have to note that rookie running back Michael Carter (out of North Carolina) contributed mightily…77 yards rushing and another 95 on nine receptions out of the backfield.
The Bengals fell to 5-3, a ½-game behind the idle Ravens (5-2) in the AFC North.
I feel good for Jets coach Robert Saleh. I’ve been a supporter since his selection and have urged patience with him. He’s the right man for this job.
--Staying in the division, the most competitive in football, the Steelers are suddenly 4-3, 15-10 winners at Cleveland (4-4) for their third straight ‘W’ as Pittsburgh has settled on a formula that works…run rookie running back Najee Harris 20 times, as he has in the three wins, and rely on your defense, which today held Baker Mayfield (surprisingly starting) to an inconsequential 225 yards on 31 attempts.
--The Bills are 5-2 after a 26-11 win over the Dolphins (1-7), with Josh Allen throwing two touchdown passes and running for another score.
--The Rams are 7-1, 38-22 winners in Houston, the lowly Texans 1-7. Matthew Stafford threw for 3 TDs.
--In a terrific game, filled with everything, the Titans improved to 6-2 with a 34-31 win in overtime at Indianapolis, as the Colts fell to 3-5. Randy Bullock kicked the game-winning 44-yarder in OT, after Indy’s Carson Wentz threw a horrible pick.
A totally dispiriting loss for the Colts, who held Derrick Henry to just 68 yards on 28 carries.
Selfishly, I really only cared that Summit’s Michael Badgley made his only field goal attempt, and all four XPAs for the Colts. So in his three games in Indianapolis, he is 3/3 FGs, 11/11 XPs.
Of course it was Randy Bullock who replaced Badgley after his disastrous one-game stint earlier in the season in Nashville.
--In what must have been an incredibly boring game to watch, Carolina evened their record at 4-4, defeating Atlanta (3-4) 19-13, Sam Darnold ineffective through the air for the Panthers, but running for 66; Matt Ryan throwing two interceptions for the Falcons.
--Green Bay had a big 24-21 win Thursday night at Arizona, handing the Cardinals their first loss, both teams 7-1. Aaron Rodgers (22/37, 184, 2-0) didn’t have top target Davante Adams (Covid/reserve list), but the Packers rushed for 151 yards and got enough offense to prevail.
But it was indeed a thrilling finish as Kyler Murray inexplicably threw an interception in the end zone, picked off by Rasul Douglas, on a second-and-goal play with seconds remaining.
Rodgers lost another top target in the game, however, tight end Robert Tonyan, who had 11 TD receptions last year, lost for the remainder of this season with a torn ACL suffered in the third quarter.
--The New York Times reported Thursday that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made a total of nearly $128 million via a combination of salary, bonuses and other benefits over the past two years.
According to the newspaper, the total was divulged at the just-concluded owners meetings this week in New York, the Times citing four unnamed sources who attended the gathering. Apparently, 90% of the pay was based on bonuses and due to the work he led in helping iron out a new labor deal and a massive media rights package.
It’s true that under his watch, Goodell and the owners secured a new collective bargaining agreement that goes through at least 2030, the deal clearing the way for a 17-game schedule, and this March, the league announced a new set of national television deals for reportedly more than $100 billion.
--Not exactly a sterling leaderboard at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at beautiful Port Royal Golf Course as Canadian Taylor Pendrith led Danny Lee by three heading into the final round.
But then in the end, 25-year-old Australian Lucas Herbert pulled out a one-stroke win over Patrick Reed and Danny Lee, Herbert’s first tour win. Nice to see Reed has recovered well from his health scare. The weather was nasty in Bermuda today, not the greatest commercial, but if I had to list my top five places to visit outside the U.S., I’d go with Paris, Vienna, Hong Kong (though no longer with all the changes), Bermuda, and Ireland.
--The big golf news on the week was Greg Norman being officially named CEO of LIV Golf Investments, the upstart entity behind a new 10-event series on the Asian Tour that will debut in 2022 and feature tournaments in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Golf Saudi is involved in the new “partnership” between LIV Golf and the Asian Tour, but there are a slew of questions and few answers at this point.
Norman pushed a “World Golf Tour” back in the 1990s that would feature smaller fields and lucrative purses, but then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem successfully blocked this attempt by adopting the World Golf Championship series that began in 1999.
As Dan Rapaport of Golf Digest writes:
“Norman’s initial idea and this revamped one seek to address a unique aspect of the PGA Tour’s compensation structure that has long peeved many of the game’s biggest stars: that they are not compensated fairly for the eyeballs they bring to the sport. As currently constructed, if Tiger Woods and an unknown player finish tied for eighth, they receive the same paycheck despite Woods bringing vastly more attention to the event. And if a player has an off-year on course, his bottom line will suffer as there is no guaranteed contract. Contrast that with other sports, where the majority of a star player’s contract is assured the moment he signs it.”
Supposedly the money for the new tour would come from Golf Saudi, a division of the Public Investment Fund that has sought to alter public perception of the nation through sport. This is different than the Premier Golf League that is based in London and has also sought to attract top-level talent away from the PGA Tour.
As for who would play in the new tour’s events, as of now not a single player has stated an intention to leave the PGA Tour behind and commit his future to Norman’s tour, which for now is folded into the Asian Tour, not establishing a new one.
The PGA Tour has allowed its players to participate in selective events on the Asian Tour, such as the Singapore and Hong Kong Opens, but for Norman’s events, that potentially presents an existential challenge.
Players such as Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson have expressed interest in the new tour, but would they be willing to leave behind the familiarity of the PGA Tour establishment for an unproven entity, with a controversial source of funding (the Saudis).
For now, players such as Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm have said they weren’t interested in committing to a tour that would require them to play in all of its events rather than their current flexibility on the PGA Tour.
The PGA of America, which runs both the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup, has said any player hoping to play in either of those events will need to be a member of the PGA of America, and that touring professionals get that membership through the PGA Tour.
--Locally, congratulations to Andy N. for repeating as Muni Cup champion at the world famous Summit Municipal Golf Course par-3. Sherry C., your fan support was most appreciated.
Your editor finished fourth in a field of five and now heads to par-3 Q School in order to retain his playing privileges for 2022. It’s very stressful.
--It’s settled, the final four for the last race next weekend in Avondale, Arizona. Alex Bowman won today’s penultimate event at Martinsville, Va., taking out Denny Hamlin on the tight course, Hamlin none too pleased, but Denny is one of the final four, along with Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Busch finished second in the race, needing to win it to qualify for the Cup finale, which would have eliminated Truex.
It was a big Saturday for Dr. Whit’s Chelsea squad, who not only beat Newcastle 3-0, but saw Liverpool play to a 2-2 draw against Brighton, while Manchester City suffered a shocking defeat at home at the hands of Crystal Palace, 2-0, City a man down the entire second half.
Today, West Ham whipped Aston Villa 4-1.
So after 10 games of 38, we have….
1. Chelsea 25 points
2. Liverpool 22
3. Man City 20
4. West Ham 20
In another game of import, Manchester United saved manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job, for now, with a 3-0 easy win at Tottenham, Spurs manager Nuno Espirito Santo big time under the gun himself, with my boys having scored just nine goals in 10 contests, Harry Kane with a lone tally.
Man U has a big week with a Champions League trip to Atalanta and then a matchup against Man City next Saturday.
--The World Cup ski season is underway and last week in Solden, Austria, Mikaela Shiffrin showed she is fully back after a tough 2020-21 campaign, at least by her standards. Shiffrin won the opening giant slalom, win No. 70, in second place all time behind Lindsey Vonn’s 82 titles.
--Jason M. Bailey of the New York Times had a piece on Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic and a card containing his signature that recently sold for $4.6 million. The story is it may not be his signature, but rather that of his mother. “Like the signature seen on many of his other highly coveted trading cards, the blue script is not the tilting scribble Doncic used during his teenage years.”
“Rumors of ghost signers spring every so often, with the signatures of workaday players and superstar athletes like Shaquille O’Neal and Cam Newton sometimes questioned. This summer, collectors were startled by apparent similarities between the autographs of the Charlotte Hornets teammates LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges. And the companies that make sports cards – and imprint them with a guarantee of authenticity – have acknowledged a few cases when athletes did not sign their own cards.
“ ‘This whole thing is just an honor system,’ Adam Gellman, who runs the blog Sports Cards Uncensored, said of how card companies like Panini obtain most of their autographs through the mail. ‘Historically, players have abused it to the nth degree.’"
As for Doncic and his signature, he has declined to comment. His mother says it’s a crazy rumor that she has signed any of his cards.
--Andy N. noted the passing of Arnold Hano, 99. Hano was sitting in the center-field bleachers at the Polo Grounds for Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. He was working as an editor in book publishing and he jotted down his impressions of the game, including the extraordinary catch by Willie Mays, which he turned into a book, “A Day in the Bleachers.” Published in 1955, it would become a classic, hailed as a forerunner of the kind of sports journalism that came into being a decade later.
It was the top of the eighth inning, the Giants and the Indians were tied at 2-2, when with one out and runners on first and second, Cleveland first baseman Vic Wertz sent a drive to the farthest reaches of the Polo Grounds. Mays turned his back toward home plate and raced to the green barrier in right-center field, making one of the great catches (and throws) in the game’s history.
“Mays simply slowed down to avoid running into the wall, put his hands up in cup-like fashion, over his left shoulder, and caught the ball much like a football player catching leading passes in the end zone,” Hano wrote.
“He had turned so quickly and run so fast and truly that he made this impossible catch look – to us in the bleachers – quite ordinary.
“Mays caught the ball, and then turned and threw like some olden statue of a Greek javelin hurler, his head twisted away to the left as his right arm swept out and around.
“Off came the cap, and then Mays continued to spin around after the gigantic effort of returning the ball whence it came, and he went down flat on his belly, and out of sight. This was the throw of a giant, the throw of a howitzer made human, arriving at second base.”
The Giants won the game, 5-2, on a three-run pinch-hit homer by outfielder Dusty Rhodes in the tenth inning, and they would go on to sweep Cleveland.
Roger Kahn, author of the baseball classic, “The Boys of Summer,” wrote in The Times in 1985 of Hano’s book, “Mr. Hano’s writing style was informed and unpretentious, and you could feel those splintery old Polo Grounds bleachers beneath you and smell the mustard on the hot dogs, which were usually served up cold.” [Richard Goldstein / New York Times]
Top 3 songs for the week 11/4/67: #1 “To Sir With Love” (Lulu) #2 “Soul Man” (Sam & Dave) #3 “It Must Be Him” (Vikki Carr)…and…#4 “Expressway To Your Heart” (Soul Survivors) #5 “Your Precious Love” (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell) #6 “Never My Love” (The Association) #7 “Incense And Peppermints” (Strawberry Alarm Clock) #8 “A Natural Woman” (Aretha Franklin) #9 “The Rain, The Pak & Other Things” (The Cowsills) #10 “Please Love Me Forever” (Bobby Vinton…B+ week…)
Heisman Trophy Quiz Answer: Running backs who picked up the hardware, 1973-83.
1973 – John Cappelletti / Penn State
1974-75 – Archie Griffin / Ohio State
1976 – Tony Dorsett / Pitt
1977 – Earl Campbell / Texas
1978 – Billy Sims / Oklahoma
1979 – Charles White / USC
1980 – George Rogers / South Carolina
1981 – Marcus Allen / USC
1982 – Herschel Walker / Georgia
1983 – Mike Rozier / Nebraska
Only three running backs have picked up the Heisman since 2000.
Add-On up top by noon, Wed.