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It's Georgia vs. TCU
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
A Shocking Moment on MNF…and Prayers for Damar
It hasn’t been a good season for the NFL’s image, led off by the serious Tua Tagovailoa concussion issues. And then Monday night, in a critical game for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, Bills safety Damar Hamlin took a hit to the chest that stopped his heart…and America watched in horror. I went to bed after midnight, wondering like all of you what we would learn when we woke up.
Thankfully, the overnight news was in some ways encouraging, but not definitive.
As I go to post, early Wednesday, there has been nothing further.
Jerry Brewer / Washington Post
“For once, the NFL stopped. It stopped cold. The relentless sport had to, even if it didn’t really want to, because the horror was inescapable. On Monday night, before a national television audience, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed. He did not rise. The violence could not be minimized.
“Hamlin, a 24-year-old from McKees Rocks, Pa., who became a starter in September after a teammate suffered a neck injury, made a typical football play in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals. He absorbed a blow to the chest as he tackled wide receiver Tee Higgins. He got up, then fell backward. Next came a frantic rush to resuscitate the young man, who had just hugged his parents during pregame warmups. He needed CPR, a stretcher, an ambulance. Amid the chaos, the reaction of the players made it clear the situation had turned dire….
“For the next 66 minutes, as medics rushed him from Paycor Stadium to a hospital and NFL officials scrambled to make the decision to suspend the game, the sport did not matter. This game – one of the most anticipated of the season, a Week 17 showdown with major implications for the No. 1 playoff seed in the AFC – could not be played. With Hamlin fighting for his life, there was no ‘next man up’ mentality on this night. There would be no next play.
“On ‘Monday Night Football,’ a great American tradition, we witnessed one of the most chilling moments in televised sports history. A play that terrifying can happen in any game, at any moment. But it occurred on the grandest of stages – during the only pro football game of the night, in the final Monday night game of the season. It was a reminder of the sport’s unremitting brutality. It forced all to deal with the harsh reality of this beloved game.
“Football isn’t a sport that happens to be violent. It is an intrinsically vicious sport that many spectators deem justifiably brutal. Most don’t enjoy it despite the constant collisions. They love it because of them. It’s surprising that, throughout its history, the game has avoided an abundance of frightening scenes. But no matter how well the coaches teach proper fundamentals, no matter how disciplined the players are at controlling their aggression, this is the sport’s nature….
“During a raw ESPN telecast, former NFL defensive lineman Anthony ‘Booger’ McFarland tried to collect himself, as did studio host Suzy Kolber and reporter Adam Schefter. As they directed coverage for most of the 66 minutes it took before the game was officially suspended at 10:01 p.m., the emotion was palpable. They were processing the unprecedented as they spoke. It felt like a vigil. It was painful yet meaningful television.
“ ‘Football is entertainment,’ McFarland said at one point. ‘Nobody is in the mood of being entertained tonight. …We’re done playing football tonight. Let’s move on.’
“Said Kolber: ‘The emotion that we’re experiencing tonight is really hard to describe.’
“In this moment, that was okay. That was the real NFL, not the slickly produced gladiator glorification that normalizes pain and human disposability.
“ ‘All you ever think about is the good stuff,’ said ESPN analyst Ryan Clark, a former NFL safety. ‘No one ever visualizes the bad.’….
“As the medical staff encircled Hamlin on the field, Buffalo cornerback Siran Neal walked several yards away, crying, heaving, pulling at his jersey and shoulder pads. He lowered his head and dropped to his knees until a teammate, running back Nyheim Hines, bent over to console him.
“The two stayed on the turf, locked in an embrace, worried about Hamlin, unconcerned about football. Until further notice, the game must defer to this anguish.”
Tuesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Bills-Bengals will not resume this week, and it has yet to be determined whether it could be finished at a later date (though no one expects this). The NFL made no changes to its schedule of games this weekend, the final weekend of the regular season.
--In the AFC South, Jacksonville (8-8) and Tennessee (7-9) square off for the division title, despite the Titans horrendous six-game losing streak. With Ryan Tannehill out for the regular season, at least, Tennessee is going with Joshua Dobbs at QB Saturday night.
--The Chargers (10-6) are locked into a wild card slot.
--For the No. 7 and final slot in the AFC…
7. New England (8-8) plays at Buffalo…win and in…
8. Miami (8-8) hosts the Jets
9. Pittsburgh (8-8) hosts the Browns
All three of the above games for the 7-slot are at 1:00 p.m., Sunday.
[Pats can also get in, even if they lose, if the Dolphins and Steelers lose, and Jacksonville beats the Titans. If the Jags lose, and the Pats, Dolphins and Steelers all lose, Jacksonville gets the final spot.]
--Philadelphia (13-3) is hosting the Giants (9-6-1), who are locked into their sixth wild card slot, so nothing to play for. The Eagles, though, need to win to wrap up the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
San Francisco (12-4) could get it if they beat the Cardinals (done…move on…) and Philadelphia loses.
But Dallas (12-4), which is at Washington, can win the NFC East with a win and an Eagles loss. And Dallas has a road to the No. 1 seed overall, but other stuff has to happen, beginning with an improbable 49ers loss to the Cardinals.
For the final wild card slot, Seattle (8-8) has it now…but, not only do they have to beat the Rams at home, they have to hope Green Bay (8-8) loses.
Green Bay is hosting Detroit (8-8), Sunday night. Should the Lions win and Seattle lose, it’s Detroit grabbing the seventh slot.
Very exciting stuff coming up.
--Not so exciting stuff when it comes to the Jets. Us fans are pissed…at 6-3 after beating the Bills, these weren’t the same old Jets. No sirree.
And then we reverted right back to form, losing six of seven, 7-9, a pathetic effort Sunday at Seattle, from both the vaunted defense and quarterback Mike White.
Everyone in New York gets it. White sure doesn’t look like the answer, and we know Zach Wilson isn’t. So for 2023? Who the hell knows.
Tight end Tyler Conklin, who has had a solid season, said after Sunday’s 23-6 debacle:
“It sucks. It’s hard to talk about. You [can] sit here and talk about ‘Yeah, we haven’t played well. You can’t lose in December like this and expect to make it to the playoffs.’ All the things that we all know. We feel shitty as players. No one is happy about it. We feel for the fans. I feel for everybody…. You know you’re not going to get another opportunity to change that until next season, which makes it even shittier….”
--Minnesota receiver Justin Jefferson is having a special season, but, boy, he must be ticked off, catching just one pass for 15 yards Sunday in the Vikings’ awful performance in Green Bay, Kirk Cousins with four turnovers, including a pick-six, and Minnesota giving up a 105-yard kickoff return.
Jefferson was chasing Calvin Johnson’s record 1,964 receiving yards from 2012 (16 games), but now he sits at 1,771.
--What a game Monday at the Cotton Bowl, as 16 Tulane came back from down 45-30 with 4:07 to play to beat 10 USC (11-3) 46-45. The best of college football on display, albeit folks in L.A. are riddling the Trojans’ defense yet again.
Tulane and quarterback Michael Pratt (8/17, 234, 2-0) and running back Tyjae Spears (17-205-4) led the way; Pratt with 83- and 87-yard bombs, Spears putting himself on the NFL radar, if he wasn’t already there.
Thanks to a Spears’ 62-yard run, the Green Wave cut the lead to 45-37 and then shortly thereafter picked up a safety to cut it to 45-39, USC forced to punt it back to Tulane and Pratt drove the team 66 yards for the winning score, twice converting on fourth down.
It was flat-out amazing and just as a general college football fan, you have to be so happy for Tulane, a good school, that under coach Willie Fritz completed the biggest turnaround in FBS history…from 2-10 last season to 12-2. That’s unreal. Five-win turnarounds are big, like 3-9 to 8-4…but this? Holy cow.
But on the other side of the field, USC blew a spectacular performance from Heisman winner Caleb Williams, 37/52, 462, 5-1, as coach Lincoln Riley, who engineered his own terrific turnaround, 4-8 to 11-3, saw the defense fail him and the Trojan faithful.
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“An ESPN television reporter asked Tulane coach Willie Fritz what just happened.
“ ‘I’m not sure,’ he said.
“Oh, on the contrary, in the wake of Tulane’s shocking 46-45 upset of USC…it’s clear what just happened.
“The USC defense happened.
“Just wondering, but how much of offensive genius Riley’s estimated $10 million annual salary is being paid for him to coach the other side of the ball?
“Apparently, nothing, because that’s what his defense did for the umpteenth game in completing this team’s startling tumble from the doorstep of the College Football Playoff semifinals to a pitiable pile of smoking wreckage.
“Remember their most recent debacle, the 533 total yards given up by the Trojans during a second-half collapse against Utah in the Pac-12 championship?
“That was Wild Bunch stuff compared to Monday afternoon, when the tire tracks were deep and indelible across a defense that gave up 539 yards while helping blow a 15-point lead in the final four-and-a-half minutes.
“Seriously, this might be the worst defense in USC football history. The Trojans can’t tackle. They can’t cover.
“They. Can’t. Stop. Anybody….
“This was about a defense that brutally chipped all the shine off another offensive gem. This was about a defense that threatened Riley’s coaching credibility in Oklahoma and is doing so again.”
--11 Penn State had a nice 35-21 win over 8 Utah (10-4) in the Rose Bowl. A 14-14 game at the half turned the Nittany Lions’ way off of an 87-yard touchdown run from freshman Nicholas Singleton, and then an 88-yard pass play from Sean Clifford to KeAndre Lambert-Smith.
At the same time Utah quarterback Cameron Rising suffered a knee injury and the game was over.
So James Franklin’s crew finishes 11-2, Clifford passing for 279 and two touchdowns in his farewell to Penn State.
--In the Citrus Bowl, 17 LSU destroyed Purdue (8-6) 63-7, the Tigers outgaining the Boilermakers 594-263, LSU coach Brian Kelly completing a highly successful first year at 10-4.
--22 Mississippi State finished up 9-4 with a 19-10 win over Illinois (8-5) in the ReliaQuest Bowl, as the Bulldogs honored and celebrated their late coach Mike Leach’s memory.
But on the final play, as Illinois was lateralling the ball all over the place, it ended up in the hands of MSU’s Marcus Banks who took 60 yards for the score to make it 19-10.
The line, however, depending on the book, was 3.5-4 points, Bulldogs. So picture how many bettors were incredulous watching the last stupid, crazy, Jakobi Meyers-like play.
--I didn’t have time Sunday to mention a significant exit from the transfer portal, that of Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall, who has decided to stay, a huge boost for new coach Tim Beck. Beck no doubt could receive a choice player or two in the portal with McCall’s return. The kid is very solid and a winner. Local resident Johnny Mac is very pleased.
Remember guys, when in Myrtle Beach, don’t forget to tip the barmaids…they work hard, too.
--Why is the FCS / Div. I-AA championship, North Dakota State vs. South Dakota State, on Sunday? It’s always been Saturday. Why compete with the NFL? Incredibly stupid.
College Basketball AP Poll (records thru Sun.)
1. Purdue 13-0 (60)
2. Houston 14-1
3. Kansas 12-1
4. UConn (1) 14-1
5. Arizona 13-1
6. Texas 12-1
7. Alabama 11-2
8. Tennessee 11-2
9. Gonzaga 12-3
10. UCLA 13-2
11. Virginia 10-2
12. Miami 13-1
13. Arkansas 11-2
14. Wisconsin 10-2
15. Indiana 10-3
16. Duke 11-3
17. TCU 12-1
18. Xavier 12-3
19. Baylor 10-3
20. Missouri 12-1
21. New Mexico 14-0…drew largest crowd in seven years at The Pit the other day
22. Auburn 11-2
23. Charleston 14-1…first time in Top 25 since 2002-03.
24. Ohio State 10-3
25. Iowa State 10-2
--So then Monday night, for a second consecutive season, Rutgers upset No. 1 Purdue, beating the Boilermakers 65-64 on the road, their sixth win in their last seven meetings against them.
The Scarlet Knights (10-4, 2-1) blew a 13-point second-half lead, with Purdue taking a one-point lead with 4:45 to play. It was then back and forth, Purdue taking the lead on a 3-pointer from Fletcher Loyer with 30 seconds to play, but RU’s Cam Spencer answered with the biggest shot of his career, the go-ahead three with 13.3 to play.
Obviously a huge win for the Scarlet Knights in terms of their NCAA prospects. As I saw firsthand in their demolition of Wake Forest the other week, Rutgers’ defense is for real.
--Tuesday saw a slew of upsets…
Texas lost to Kansas State (13-1) 116-103.
Pitts (11-4, 4-0) continued to shock the ACC, beating 11 Virginia (10-3, 2-2) 68-65.
And so much for the New Mexico story…as the Lobos lost on the road to Fresno State (6-8), 71-67.
--We had a busy Monday, with the Knicks (20-18) starting things off in the afternoon in fine fettle, 102-83 over Phoenix, Julius Randle continuing his terrific play, 28 points, 16 rebounds.
--And then the Nets won their 12th straight, 139-103, over San Antonio, Brooklyn (25-12) up to second in the East, ½-game behind the Celtics, after Boston lost last night 150-117 to the Thunder
--Donovan Mitchell scored an NBA season-high and franchise-record 71 points – equaling the eighth-most in a game in history – as the Cavs rallied from 21 down to beat the Bulls 145-134 in overtime Monday.
It was the most points by any player since Kobe Bryant’s 81 against Toronto on Jan. 22, 2006.
Mitchell scored 13 in the overtime after spectacularly tying things up with 3 seconds in regulation, scoring off his own intentionally missed free throw.
He also had 11 assists, the Cavs at 24-14.
However, the NBA said after in its post-game report on the officiating that Mitchell was over the line before the ball touched the ring of the basket, thus the play shouldn’t have counted (and the Bulls should have won).
Alas, 20 years from now, it will still be Donovan Mitchell – 71.
--Klay Thompson had his best game since two devastating injuries, scoring 54 (10 of 21 from three), in the Warriors’ (20-18) 143-141 double-overtime win against the Hawks, as Golden State attempted a franchise-record 59 3s, making 19.
--LeBron James lit it up a second straight night, this time against Charlotte in L.A.’s 121-115 win, LeBron with 43 points, 11 rebounds, after scoring 47 in a win over the Hawks a few days earlier, the Lakers now 16-21 as they hope Anthony Davis comes back soon.
--Tuesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 55 in the Bucks’ (24-13) win over the Wizards, 123-113.
--Zion Williamson has largely been on the floor for New Orleans this season, 29 of 37 games, and he’s been outstanding…26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists.
But now he’s out 3+ weeks with a hamstring issue.
--Boston was off to a staggering start, 28-4-4 (18-0-3 at home), and they then played the Winter Classic at Fenway Park against the Penguins, Monday.
I caught the introductions and very cool not only to see Bobby Orr, but also John Bucyk, a Bruins Hall of Famer whose best years were ages 35-40! 556 goals in his career (545 with Boston), 1,339 points. The guy is 87 and he was able to walk, aided by just a cane. Good for him.
And it was cool twist to have the Boston Pops perform.
The Bruins won the game, 2-1…now 29-4-4.
--The Rangers (21-12-6) had a big win Tuesday at the Garden, scoring three in the third for a 5-3 win over Carolina (25-7-6)
--Alex Ovechkin keeps scoring…up to 808, after a hat trick New Year’s Eve against Montreal, and then two more last night in a 5-4 loss to the Sabres.
Buffalo was playing with Damar Hamlin on their mind and the Sabres’ Tage Thompson scored an emotional hat trick, as prior to the game the team wore “LOVE FOR 3” shirts after Hamlin’s uniform number.
--The Dodgers have until Friday to decide what to do with pitcher Trevor Bauer. Bauer is guaranteed $22.5 million this year. The team could be trying to trade him, but the other teams could just be waiting for L.A. to release him, in which case they could sign Bauer for the league minimum of $720,000, with the Dodgers responsible for the remainder of his salary.
--Still nothing on the Carlos Correa contract situation with the Mets on the clock, but reports say our Uncle Stevie and agent Scott Boras will get a deal done, but a “drastically different” one.
--Golf is back…very psyched. And befitting the PGA Tour’s new “elevated” status for some tournaments, the purse for this week’s Tournament of Champions at Kapalua is nearly double last year’s at $15 million.
Seventeen of the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking are in the field. Scheffler, Cantlay, Rahm, Thomas, Spieth, Schauffele, Morikawa, Finau.
No Rory McIlroy, who seldom plays in this one as he normally tees it up at the DP World Tour’s event in Dubai later in the month and likes to limit travel at the start of the year.
But, because McIlroy is skipping this one, he’s required to play in all of the rest of the tour’s 12 “elevated” events because he finished in the top 20 (at No. 2) in the tour’s 2022 Player Impact Program. That means one of his starts has to come at the WM Phoenix Open, which will mark his first-ever appearance.
Will Zalatoris is returning at the TOC, not having been in an event since a back injury last summer.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
Happy New Year!
AP Athlete of the Year Quiz: Aaron Judge received this great award for 2022, while Katie Ledecky was named Female Athlete of the Year. 1) Name the last jockey to win it in horse racing. 2) Name the last auto racer to win it. 3) Name the last two females to win it for Winter Olympic sports. Answers below.
College Football Review
Well, can’t ask for two better CFP semifinals than we had last night, can you? I mean goodness gracious…eight straight pulsating hours of the best of college football. The only thing that irritated me was I wanted the second game, Georgia-Ohio State, to end before midnight here in the east so I could watch the ball drop, and wouldn’t you know, the Buckeyes’ Noah Ruggles badly missed the 50-yarder to win the game with literally five seconds left in 2022, as I frantically flipped the channel.
Ruggles, by the way, deserves no blame…that was a virtually impossible situation he was placed in, as discussed below.
But now we have a Georgia-TCU finale at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA, next Monday night. A delicious matchup…
J. Brady McCollough / Los Angeles Times:
“This city lives for an irresistible underdog’s tale. Leave it to the College Football Playoff, of all the establishment-promoting institutions in this grand land, to provide Hollywood dreamers with a plot line dripping with all the good stuff.
“The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, reared near the stockyards of Fort Worth and representing 12,000 undergraduate purple-wearing peers, are coming to town in early 2023. They’ll be joined by the Georgia Bulldogs, the defending national champions and a team everyone’s heard of, setting up the first Cinderella story in nine years of the CFP’s four-team bracket format.
“Call it Dykes and Duggan vs. Goliath.
“Sonny Dykes, as in the Mike Leach disciple who unceremoniously coached California for a while and groomed former Rams quarterback Jared Goff into a No. 1 draft pick. Dykes quietly moved across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex from Southern Methodist last December and turned TCU into blue-blood beaters in one season of masterful work.
“Max Duggan? He’s the auburn-haired, Irish-heritage powder keg who began the year as Dykes’ chosen backup quarterback and finished it as a Heisman Trophy runner-up leading his team to a shocking 51-45 upset of formerly unbeaten Michigan in a memorable Fiesta Bowl on Saturday that will torture the Wolverine faithful for many years to come.
“Michigan, with two pick-sixes thrown by quarterback J.J. McCarthy and a fumble giveaway at the TCU one-yard line, handed Dykes and Duggan the stones and stood dumbfounded at point-blank range for their crushing knockout blows, again and again.
“It’s unlikely Georgia, 14-0, will be as helpful to TCU on the night of Jan. 9 in the CFP championship game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, but the Horned Frogs, 13-1, have also proved they don’t necessarily need any charity to compete with the top programs in the sport.
“TCU, not Big 12-to-SEC defectors Texas and Oklahoma, is the first school from that league to win a playoff game and advance to the national championship game.
“The Horned Frogs are also the first team from the football-obsessed state of Texas to make it this far. As of 2011, TCU was a member of the Mountain West Conference, just trying to play its way into the Power Five under program architect Gary Patterson.
“The CFP has not been kind to upstarts, which is a big part of why the playoff is expanding to 12 teams in 2024. TCU, which went 5-7 last year and began the season unranked*, didn’t need expansion to gain access, though.”
*TCU was not only AP unranked preseason, but it didn’t receive a single vote…as in it wasn’t even top 47! They didn’t crack the top 25 until Week Six!
“Georgia, as a team stacked with five-star recruits that is attempting to become the first squad since Alabama in 2011-12 to repeat as champion, will arrive in L.A. as a clear favorite over TCU.
“Never mind that the Bulldogs are led by their own underdog, former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, who engineered the game-wining drive in the final minute Saturday to add to his already improbable legend.
“After two CFP semifinals decided by a combined seven points, Los Angeles college football fans are hopefully in for something equally special in nine days.”
So in the first game, TCU set the tone early in stopping Michigan on fourth-and-goal, Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh with a highly-questionable call.
And then on Michigan’s second possession, J.J. McCarthy threw his first pick-six, Bud Clark taking it 41 yards, TCU up 7-0.
Max Duggan then engineered a 76-yard drive to make it 14-0.
Michigan’s All-World kicker Jake Moody, the second coming of Justin Tucker, booted a 42-yarder to cut it to 14-3.
And then came a play college football fans will be talking about forever, let alone Michigan fans.
Michigan’s Roman Wilson was robbed on a 51-yard pass from McCarthy where Wilson clearly crossed the goal line with possession of the football. The two broadcasters doing the game, the in-house expert official…everyone watching on TV…knew it was a touchdown.
But the officials decided Wilson was down at the half-yard line. The Wolverines’ Kalel Mullings then fumbled the ball on the next play, momentum back to TCU, who would go on to have a 21-6 halftime lead (Moody with a 59-yarder as time expired).
“I caught the ball and I was in the end zone,” said Wilson after. “It’s kind of some bullshit that they called that back.”
It was…it should have been 14-10, momentum bigtime for Michigan. But you also can’t fumble on first-and-goal from the half-yard line, a terrible exchange from McCarthy to Mullings.
To their credit, though, in a third quarter for the ages, when a record 44 points were scored, Michigan hung in there, TCU 41, Michigan 30 heading into the fourth, even after McCarthy threw his second pick-six, Dee Winters taking it in from 29 out.
Michigan then cut it to 41-38 on a Roman Wilson 18-yard run and a successful two-point conversion, early in the fourth, but Max Duggan immediately countered, hitting Quentin Johnston on a 76-yard strike, 48-38.
TCU got a field goal, Michigan a TD, cutting it to 51-45 with 3:18 to play, but that was essentially it.
It was a truly fascinating game, Michigan outgaining TCU 528-488, but both teams with three turnovers, Duggan also with two INTs. There were stars, and goats, and Sonny Dykes and his Band of Overachievers move on.
In the thrilling nightcap, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud was playing heroically, without some of his best weapons, including receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. for most of the second half, his tight end in the hospital. Stroud, not a big runner, was scrambling effectively all over the place, picking up key first downs and shredding the vaunted Georgia defense (though suspect secondary) through the air, 23/34, 348, 4-0, overall.
It was 28-24 Buckeyes at the half, and 38-24 after the third, when ESPN broadcaster Chris Fowler, partnering with Kirk Herbstreit, looked into the camera and said, ‘It’s time for the defending champions to show us what they’re made of,’ words to that effect, and Georgia did.
Stetson Bennett drove Georgia to a field goal to cut the lead to 11 points, and then Georgia coach Kirby Smart may have made the biggest play of the game, sniffing out a fake punt and calling timeout just before Ohio State snapped the ball on what would have been a huge first down for the Buckeyes.
Instead, Georgia got the ball back and Bennett hit a wide open Arian Smith on a 76-yard touchdown that cut it to 38-35 with 8:41 to play.
Noah Ruggles booted a 48-yard field goal, Ohio State 41-35 with 2:43 left.
But Bennett drove Georgia 72 yards, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Bennett to Adonai Mitchell, 42-41 Bulldogs and that’s where it ended up.
Stroud had 54 seconds to get Ohio State into reasonable field goal range for Ruggles, who has been effective over the years but never kicked a 50-yarder, and he missed badly from that distance as time expired. Another five to seven yards would have made a huge difference for the lad, as he clearly overkicked it.
But as noted above, the legend of Stetson Bennett grows, another huge performance in the clutch, 23/34, 398, 3-1.
Georgia is an early 13.5-point favorite over TCU. Let’s see where the line is a week from now.
--Earlier Saturday, 5 Alabama finished 11-2 with a dominating 45-20 win over 9 Kansas State (10-4). Bryce Young had a rather spectacular, tidy performance…15/21, 321, 5-0…five different receivers catching a touchdown.
--No. 6 Tennessee had their way with 7 Clemson (11-3), 31-14 in the Orange Bowl, the Vols finishing 11-2, their first 11-win season since 2001, and what will be their highest AP finish since that season as well.
The star, who America saw largely for the first time, was Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III, who regained the starting job he had lost to friend Hendon Hooker, who then got hurt late in the year.
Milton, whose cannon of an arm reminded me of the late Joe Gilliam, was 19 of 28 for 251 yards and three touchdowns and has to have NFL general managers huddling with their scouting staffs (though they may not get a shot at him until 2024 as it seems he’s coming back for a sixth season, with Hooker NFL bound).
Clemson did outgain Tennessee 484-375, as true freshman Cade Klubnick threw for 320 yards, but he was picked off twice, made some classic freshman mistakes, and the Tigers were also done in by three missed field goals from kicker B.T. Potter.
Clemson got into Tennessee territory on nine of its first ten possessions and came away with only two field goals.
--The Sun Bowl is one of the great ‘minor’ bowl invites, it being so from back in the day when there were only 11 bowl games, one of the five best minor bowls, aside from the Big Four (Rose, Orange, Sugar and Cotton…prior to the emergence of the Fiesta Bowl) – Sun, Peach, Gator, Tangerine and Liberty.
The Sun Bowl has always been held in El Paso, Texas, and it’s long been said those who run it do a terrific job and as I told my Duke friend Ken P. this year, boy, hope you get the Sun Bowl bid. [Duke instead received a bid to play in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, against UCF, which was disappointing in that it wasn’t a Power Five opponent.]
Anyway, as Maryland (8-5) was beating 23 North Carolina State (8-5) 16-12 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., a nice win for the Terrapins, N.C. State broadcaster Gary Hahn relayed the score of the Sun Bowl, Pitt vs. 18 UCLA, and said, “Down among all the illegal aliens in El Paso, it’s UCLA 14 and Pittsburgh 6.”
You freakin’ asshole! Hahn was suspended indefinitely.
It’s not El Paso’s fault they had to declare a state of emergency as migrants have engulfed the city from Mexico seeking asylum. The good people of El Paso are doing the best job they can under trying circumstances.
--So speaking of the Sun Bowl, UCLA (9-4) had a 28-14 lead over Pitt, mid-third quarter, when the Panthers (9-4) scored 20 unanswered to take a 34-28 lead, with 4:24 to play.
UCLA then drove 70 yards to take a 35-34 lead with just 0:34 remaining, game over.
Until it wasn’t. Nick Patti, Pitt’s backup quarterback who was playing in place of Kedon Slovis (transfer portal), drove the Panthers from the 25-yard line and no timeouts, completing big passes of 18 and 17 yards, before running for 11, to get to the UCLA 29 with 10 seconds left.
Onto the field ran kicker Ben Sauls, and Sauls nailed the 47-yarder with four seconds left, his fifth field goal of the game, and Pitt had an astounding win, a huge one for coach Pat Narduzzi.
Bruins coach Chip Kelly could only say afterwards, “Tough finish.”
UCLA’s standout quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, but threw three interceptions before exiting early in the fourth quarter with an injury.
--No. 21 Notre Dame finished their year 9-4, with a thrilling 45-38 win over 19 South Carolina (8-5) in the TaxSlayer (Gator) Bowl on Friday. ND’s Tyler Buchner, subbing for the departed Drew Pyne (transfer portal), threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more, though he also threw three interceptions, including a 100-yard pick-six by O’Donnell Fortune in the fourth quarter that dramatically tied the game at 38-38, after DQ Smith had returned another Buchner pass for 47 yards for a score in the first quarter.
But Buchner bounced back after each disaster and led the Fighting Irish on a game-winning 80-yard drive, capped off by a 16-yard scoring strike to tight end Mitchell Evans with 1:38 remaining and the ND defense sealed it from there.
--Wednesday, we had one exciting Liberty Bowl, as Arkansas outlasted Kansas 55-53 in triple overtime, the Razorbacks finishing 7-6, Kansas 6-7.
Arkansas was up 38-13 midway through the third, when Kansas caught fire, tying it at 38-38 with 0:40 to play, sending it into overtime.
Both teams then scored in the first overtime, converting their PATs. Then both scored in the second OT, and both converted the required 2-point play, so 53-53. Which brought the third OT, and in the 2-point conversion shootout, Arkansas converted, Kansas didn’t, game over.
I literally picked this one up at 38-20 and it was mesmerizing.
Jalon Daniels threw for 544 yards for the Jayhawks, while Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson threw for two TDs and ran 130 yards for another two scores.
It was a very disappointing finish to the season for Kansas, though, after a 5-0 start put them in the national spotlight.
--In Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, Minnesota finished up a fine campaign at 9-4 with a 28-20 win over Syracuse (7-6). Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown to become the school’s all-time leading rusher.
After getting injured in the 2021 season opener with a ruptured Achilles, Ibrahim returned for a sixth season and finished his career with 4,668 yards* and 53 rushing touchdowns in 40 games after being a two-star recruit out of Baltimore.
*Darrell Thompson had been the record holder with 4,654 yards from 1986-89.
--Oklahoma finished with its first losing season since 1998, the Sooners 6-7 in Brent Venables’ debut season following a 35-32 loss to 13 Florida State (10-3).
What a turnaround for the Seminoles, their best season since 2016, winning their last six after a three-game losing streak midseason.
Jordan Travis threw for 418 yards and ran for another 50 for FSU.
--12 Washington (11-2) completed a fine season with a 27-20 victory over 20 Texas (8-5) in the Valero Alamo Bowl, as Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. threw for 287 and two touchdowns.
--In the Holiday Bowl Wednesday night in San Diego, it was another terrific finish, 15 Oregon (10-3) rallying behind quarterback Bo Nix to defeat North Carolina (9-5) 28-27.
The Tar Heels took a 27-21 lead with 2:34 to go on Noah Burnette’s 44-yard field goal, but then Nix moved the Ducks 79 yards in eight plays for the win, capped off by a 6-yard TD pass to Chase Cota on fourth down with 0:19 to play.
--Aforementioned Duke finished 9-4, 30-13 winners over UCF (9-5) in the Military Bowl.
[I’ll clean up any misstatements in my Add-on…but there are times I have to move on…]
--Thursday night, Dallas moved to 12-4 with an ugly 27-13 win over Tennessee (7-9), Dak Prescott with another two interceptions for a league-leading 14, despite missing five games with a thumb injury.
Tennessee started the season 7-3 and was on its way to a third-straight NFC South title, until they lost six in a row in an epic collapse.
So should the Cowboys beat the Commanders in Week 18, and if Philadelphia, without Jalen Hurts again Sunday, lost its final two to the Saints and Giants, the two teams would be 13-4, and Dallas would own the tiebreaker.
At least that was the storyline heading into today….
--…And the Eagles lost! 20-10 to the Saints (7-9) at home, as Gardner Minshew couldn’t get it done for Philadelphia. The plot thickens.
--So with Philly hosting the Giants next week, New York (New Jersey) clinched its first playoff berth since 2016 with a dominating 38-10 win over the Colts (4-11-1), the Giants 9-6-1 and locked into the No. 6 slot.
Daniel Jones was outstanding, 19/24, 177, 2-0, 125.2, along with 91 yards on the ground and another two scores, the Giants with 217 rushing yards overall.
Granted, it was the Colts, but impressive nonetheless.
So suddenly, Philly has an incentive to bring its ‘A’ game next week, with Jalen Hurts probably playing, while the Giants don’t have any incentive, and you’d think they will rest Jones and Saquon Barkley, at least for half the contest.
--In a huge game in Foxborough, New England beat Miami, 23-21, both now 8-8.
For the Dolphins, with Tua Tagovailoa still in concussion protocol, the ever-capable Teddy Bridgewater stepped in, but he left the contest roughly halfway through due to a finger injury and Miami didn’t have a shot, really.
New England thus moved into the 7th and last playoff spot, with its final contest at Buffalo, while the Dolphins square-off against the Jets at home.
--And the Jets absolutely sucked…losing to Seattle, now eliminated, and much more on this in my midweek Add-on, but I’m on the Derek Carr train.
Seattle is 8-8. To be continued.
--Tom Brady did it…guided his Bucs (8-8) to the NFC South title with a 30-24 win over Carolina (6-10), Brady with his best game of the season when it mattered most, 34/45, 432, 3-0, 127.3.
All three TDs went to Mike Evans, who had a monster game…10-207-3.
--With the Bills (12-3) and Bengals (11-4) hooking up Monday night in a critical contest for the No. 1 seed, the Chiefs moved to 13-3, defeating Denver, 27-24, one of the Broncos’ better efforts of the season.
--Detroit (8-8) stayed alive, blasting the pathetic Bears (3-13) 41-10. Summit’s Michael Badgley was perfect, 2 for 2 field goals, 5 for 5 PATs.
But with its final game at Green Bay, suddenly, this is for the last wild-card slot….
--….as the Packers (8-8), annihilated the Vikings (12-4) 41-17 to stay in the hunt.
More on this in the midweek Add-on. Like beat Detroit, and it’s Green Bay over Seattle.
--The Commanders fell to the Browns (7-9), 24-10, Washington falling to 7-8-1, and they were eliminated by Green Bay’s win.
--But Jacksonville (8-8), in beating the soon-to-be-relegated Texans (2-13-1), can win the AFC South next week when it faces Tennessee after defeating Houston 31-3.
Jags fan Steve G., who started the season one of just six fans in the country, is now one of 3,253, as the Jags’ bus has become a train. Bring your own beer and food if you plan on climbing aboard. And wait for the train to stop first to avoid injury.
--The Raiders benched longtime quarterback Derek Carr, the starter since 2014, the team announced Wednesday. Jarrett Stidham replaced him against the 49ers, with undrafted free agent Chase Garbers the backup.
Carr and the team agreed that he will step away for the remainder of the regular season not to be a distraction.
It’s largely about the contract and the direction of the team. Carr signed a three-year, $121.5 million extension in the spring, but he could be cut for a $5.625 million salary-cap hit if the move is made within three days of the Super Bowl. His $32.9 million salary for next year and $7.5 million of his 2024 salary would be fully guaranteed should he be injured.
But the move was made in part to maintain Carr’s health and keep their options open this offseason, including for a potential trade. Las Vegas could still opt to bring him back for 2023.
The Raiders have had a disappointing season at 6-9, after being a playoff team a year ago at 10-7.
Should Vegas trade Carr, some potential landing spots include the Commanders, Jets, Saints, Falcons and Buccaneers.
But Carr has a no-trade clause. The 3X Pro Bowler has had a mediocre season, but he’ll still just be 32 next year.
College Basketball…since last post…
--Missouri (12-1) beat 19 Kentucky (8-4) 89-75, Wednesday.
--Thursday, LSU (12-1) defeated 9 Arkansas (11-2) 60-57. LSU has to be ranked.
--Friday, Pitt (10-4) beat 25 North Carolina 99-5) 76-74.
--Saturday, 22 Xavier (12-3) will move up 5 or 6 slots after handing 2 UConn its first loss, 83-73, the Huskies 14-1.
Iowa State (10-2) upset 12 Baylor (10-3) 77-62.
And Wake Forest had a nice home win over Virginia Tech (11-3), 77-75, as the Deacs move to 10-4, 2-1 in the ACC, having defeated VT and Duke at home.
--LeBron James has been bitching that he doesn’t want to finish his career playing with a loser, but Friday night, he celebrated his 38th birthday by scoring 47 points, with 10 rebounds and nine assists in leading the Lakers to a 130-121 come-from-behind win in Atlanta.
After a 1-for-5 start, James finished 18-for-27 from the field.
The Lakers remain just 15-21, playing without Anthony Davis, and Atlanta is a highly disappointing 17-19, after a 7-3 start.
--On Thursday, the Knicks lost their fifth-in-a-row, once again playing without the injured RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson, 122-115 at San Antonio (12-23), despite Julius Randle’s 41.
So Saturday, the Knicks, suddenly back to .500, 18-18, needed a win badly and took out the Rockets (10-26) in Houston, 108-88, as Julius Randle had 35 points and 12 rebounds.
--The Nets ran their winning streak to 10, best in the league this season, with a 108-107 win over the Hawks in Atlanta on Wednesday.
And they made it 11 straight, 123-106 last night in Charlotte (10-27).
--Saturday, Luka Doncic had 51 in Dallas’ 126-125 win over the Spurs (12-24), the Mavs 21-16.
--Saturday, New Year’s Eve, marked the 50th anniversary of a tragic moment in sports history.
Roberto Clemente, one of baseball’s biggest stars, died while on a relief mission for victims of a catastrophic earthquake in Nicaragua, the plane he was on crashing just off the coast of San Juan. His body was never found. The grief over his death at age 38 was undoubtedly most acute in his native Puerto Rico, but the shock and sadness extended well beyond the island.
During his 18-year major league career, all with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Clemente had become a legend, a National League MVP, a World Series MVP, a four-time batting champion, a 12-time Gold Glover and 3,000 hits.
But off the field is what set Clemente apart. He was a humanitarian who devoted countless hours to helping people in need, particularly in Latin America, and to teaching children at baseball clinics. He was also instrumental in teaching Latino players how to navigate life in the big leagues and he was one of the early leaders of the Major League Baseball players’ union.
Roberto Clemente Jr. was just seven years old that fateful New Year’s Eve and didn’t even know his father was flying that day, but told him, “Dad, don’t get on the plane, because it’s going to crash.”
Clemente Jr. recalled later: “There was no way for me to know he was flying. He hadn’t told me that he was flying and there was no sign in our house that he was flying.
“I said it again, and he told me not to worry, but I walked out and was crying, and he followed me and said, ‘I will see you when I get back.’ And that was the last time I talked to him.”
The great soccer player, humanitarian, and giant of the 20th-century sports scene died Thursday at the age of 82 from multiple organ failure, the result of the progression of colon cancer. He had been receiving treatment for cancer in recent years.
As the New York Times’ Lawrie Mifflin put it: “A national hero in his native Brazil, Pele was beloved around the world – by the very poor, among whom he was raised; the very rich, in whose circles he traveled; and just about everyone who ever saw him play.”
“Pele is one of the few who contradicted my theory,” Andy Warhol once said. “Instead of 15 minutes of fame, he will have 15 centuries.”
“Celebrated for his peerless talent and originality on the field, Pele also endeared himself to fans with his sunny personality and his belief in the power of soccer – football to most of the world – to connect people across dividing lines of race, class and nationality.”
Pele is the only player to win three World Cups, 1958-70, with Brazil, and he stayed loyal to his club team, Santos, which won 10 league titles, as well as the 1977 North American Soccer League Championship with the New York Cosmos.
Before his final game, in October 1977 at Giants Stadium, Pele took the microphone on a podium at the center of the field, his father and Muhammad Ali beside him, and exhorted a crowd of more than 75,000.
“Say with me three times now,” he declared, “for the kids: Love! Love! Love!”
Born Edson (after Thomas Edison) Arantes do Nascimento, Pele, according to FIFA records, scored 1,283 goals in 1,367 professional matches, including 77 goals for the Brazilian national team.
But about 500 of these goals were from unofficial matches and the real, official total is closer to 750, but that’s not really important.
Pele was just 17 when he played in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, coming from an impoverished village using rolled-up rags for a ball. He would six goals in that tournament, including three in a semifinal against France and two in the final, a 5-2 victory over Sweden. It was Brazil’s first of a record five World Cup titles. He also played on the winning 1962 and 1970 squads.
His Brazilian club Santos began to capitalize on his fame with lucrative postseason tours, and he had become such a hero that in 1961, to ward off European teams eager to buy his contract, the Brazilian government passed a resolution declaring him a nonexportable national treasure.
It was actually Henry Kissinger, who convinced the government to release Pele to play in the United States as a way to help promote soccer, and Brazil, in America. “Listen, America has done so much for Brazil that we’d now like you to loan us Pele,” said Kissinger, an avowed soccer nut.
And thus he signed a three-year deal to play for the New York Cosmos, whereupon he hobnobbed with celebrities and once shared a table at the famed Studio 54 nightclub with Warhol, Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger.
Even in such company, Pele stayed away from alcohol and drugs, saying he needed to protect his body and serve as a role model for kids. But he admitted to other “weaknesses.” His two divorces, numerous affairs, and the two children he acknowledged fathering outside of marriage fueled perceptions of a gap between the squeaky-clean corporate pitchman and the elusive real-life person who preferred to be called Edson.
Every year Santos crossed the globe, playing in Sheffield and Shanghai, Barcelona and Benin, Pele was the star attraction. If he was injured or missing from the lineup their appearance fee was slashed. He was often forced to play when he wasn’t fully fit because the money they received was the only way for the club to survive, and to ensure Pele was paid what he was worth.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) declared Pele “The King of Soccer.”
“A Black, poor boy born in Tres Coracoes, Pele showed us that there is always a new path,” the CBF wrote. “The King gave us a new Brazil and we can only thank him for his legacy.”
Brazil forward Neymar: “Before Pele, ‘10’ was just a number. I read that phrase somewhere, at some point in my life. But that phrase, beautiful, is incomplete. I’d say before Pele, football was just a sport. Pele changed everything. He turned football into art, into entertainment. He gave voice to the poor, to the blacks and especially: It gave us visibility to Brazil. Football and Brazil have elevated their status thanks to the King! He’s gone, but his magic will remain. Pele is ETERNAL!!”
Pele’s funeral is Tuesday. Just as Argentina’s World Cup triumph was cause for celebrations involving millions of its citizens, his funeral with see an equal mass of humanity with a procession carrying his coffin through the streets of coastal Santos.
Lots of action as we near the midway point (and a massive crush in European soccer overall to make up for the lag during the World Cup).
Friday, Liverpool beat Leicester 2-1, but it was LC’s Wout Faes scoring two own goals!
Saturday, Manchester United beat the Wolves 1-0 on a Marcus Rashford scored.
Man City was shockingly tied by Everton at home, 1-1-.
Newcastle and Leeds played to a 0-0 draw.
Arsenal stayed firmly on top with a 4-2 road win at Brighton.
And today, my Tottenham Spurs choked royally at home, losing 2-0 to Aston Villa. Ugh. Not the way to start 2023.
Chelsea managed only a draw, 1-1, at Nottingham Forest, a big point for Forest.
Standings after 16/17 of 38…Played / Points…
1. Arsenal…16 – 43
2. Man City…16 – 36
3. Newcastle…17 – 34
4. Man U…16 – 32 …Champions League line
5. Tottenham…17 – 30
6. Liverpool…16 – 28 …playing much better, Big Bro in a better mood
7. Fulham…17 – 25
8. Chelsea…16 – 25
9. Chelsea…15 – 24
17. West Ham…17 – 14 …relegation line
18. Nottingham…17 – 14
19. Wolves…17 – 13
20. Southampton…17 – 12
--Mikaela Shiffrin did it again…and again…and is now up to 80 World Cup wins, including her record 50th slalom title, as on Thursday in Semmering, Austria, she finished first in the slalom, with teammate Paula Moltzan second (her first slalom podium finish of her career). It was the first 1-2 finish in a women’s World Cup slalom for the Americans since 1971.
But for Shiffrin, she has now won four straight WC races, two giant slaloms, a super-G, and the slalom, including taking all three races at Semmering this week.
No other skier, male or female, has won an event more than 46 times in the 56-year World Cup history.
So Shiffrin heads to Zagreb, for slalom races this coming Wednesday and Thursday, just two shy of Lindsey Vonn’s 82 titles.
Behind Vonn is Ingemar Stenmark’s 86.
What a comeback for Shiffrin from her disappointing performance at the Beijing Olympics.
--Tiger Woods turned 47 on Friday. He needs to play before The Masters…a tradition unlike any other…on CBS…
But golf is back next weekend!!!! And gorgeous Kapalua.
--Among the actors, celebrities and men and women of the arts that we lost in 2022…
Barbara Walters, Kirstie Alley, James Caan, Robert Clary, Leslie Jordan, Ray Liotta, Roger Angell, David McCullough, P.J. O’Rourke, Angela Lansbury, Tony Dow, Paul Sorvino, Tony Sirico, Gilbert Gottfried, Bob Sagat, Grant Wahl and Sidney Poitier.
In the world of music….
Dino Danelli, Irene Cara, Christine McVie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Loretta Lynn, Mickey Gilly, Olivia Newton-John, Naomi Judd, Coolio, Bobby Rydell, Taylor Hawkins, Ramsey Lewis, Anita Pointer and Ronnie Spector.
And in the world of sports…
Vince Dooley, Bruce Sutter, Maury Wills, Earnie Shavers, Len Dawson, Tom Weiskopf, Pete Carril, Gino Cappelletti, Bob Lanier, Mike Bossy, Tommy Davis, Rayfield Wright, Daryle Lamonica, Guy LaFleur, Kathy Whitworth, Ray Guy, Gaylord Perry, Mike Leach, Franco Harris, Vin Scully, Dan Reeves, Don Maynard, Emile Francis, Charley Taylor, Ralph Terry, Gene Shue and Bill Russell.
And Your 2022 Bar Chat Awards! …with your host, Paige Spiranac!
--A Good Gal award to Brittany Bowe, who gave up her spot on the women’s 500m speed skating team to ensure world No. 1, Erin Jackson, who slipped during the qualifying trials, could go to Beijing, whereupon Jackson won the gold medal.
--Good Dog award to a German shepherd Tinsley, first thought to be a lost dog, who successfully led New Hampshire state police to the site of its owner’s rollover crash.
Both the vehicle’s occupants were seriously hurt, but thanks to Tinsley’s dogged efforts they quickly received medical assistance once officers discovered the truck, which went off the road near a Vermont interstate junction.
“The dog was trying to show them something,” said Lt. Daniel Baldassarre of the New Hampshire State Police. “He kept trying to get away from them but didn’t run away totally.
“It was kind of, ‘Follow me. Follow me.’ And they did that and you know, to their surprise to see the guardrail damaged and to look down to where the dog is looking at, it’s just, they were almost in disbelief,” he said.
--Dirtball hardware for Grayson Allen, the former Duke star now on the Bucks, who in a game against the Bulls, swiped Alex Caruso out of the air, causing the guard to crash onto the floor and break his wrist. Allen was suspended one game.
--A-hole designation for Michigan hoops coach Juwan Howard who appeared to throw a punch after arguing with Wisconsin coach Greg Gard during a postgame handshake line following the Badgers’ 77-63 victory back in February.
--Good Guy award to former Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes of the Brewers. Last April, during a start at Camden Yards in Baltimore, fans that attended the Brewers Eve Bash at Leff’s Lucky Town* in Wauwatosa, were informed that Burnes would be picking up the check.
Yes, as Burnes was throwing seven scoreless in Baltimore, he surprised patrons back in Wisconsin with an open bar.
*This place has the perfect bar & grill menu. Gotta go there sometime.
--Jerk crystal for Tom Brady…who retired, then unretired, then saw his life become a total mess for multiple reasons.
--Good Dog gold plated biscuits (not edible, but worth $1830 an ounce) for Eva, the Belgian Malinois, who jumped to the defense of his owner, Erin Wilson, when the two were on a walk in northern California and a mountain lion attacked. Eva was badly wounded protecting her.
“I don’t think I will ever be able to live up to how amazing and loyal she is to me,” Erin told the Sacramento Bee.
The dog was just 55 pounds and outclassed by the cougar but battled fiercely. The cougar bit the dog’s head and wouldn’t let go, even when Wilson attacked the animal with rocks, sticks and her fists.
Wilson ran back to her car for a tire iron and flagged down a passing car. That driver grabbed a pipe and pepper spray and together the women began beating the lion, which had dragged the dog off the trail.
Finally, the pepper spray forced the cougar to fee.
Sadly, after seemingly being on the road to recovery, Eva died.
--Dirtball award to Draymond Green for punching Golden State Warriors teammate Jordan Poole in the face at a practice.
--Idiot cutlery for Aroldis Chapman, the former Yankees reliever who was on the injured list for three weeks due to an infection in a leg caused by getting a tattoo.
Then Chapman sealed his fate with the Yanks after he skipped a mandatory workout ahead of the playoffs.
--Our first ever “Has the World by the Balls” award goes to actor Jon Hamm. Hamm takes every endorsement opportunity and kills it. Total respect for the man.
--Can there be a bigger Dirtball in 2022 than Will Smith for slapping/hitting Chris Rock at the Academy Awards? [Maybe Draymond Green]
I liked Howard Stern’s take:
“Here’s Hollywood that’s so outraged by every little thing – not one person got up and said, ‘Hold on, we’ve got an out-of-control situation here,’” Stern said. “How this guy was allowed to sit there for the rest of the awards, and he’s laughing it up and having a good time with his wife…he just assaulted Chris Rock!”
--A Jerk certificate to Yankee hurler Gerrit Cole, who was rattled by an “unforeseen” schedule snafu with the Opening Day festivities. Cole was caught on camara looking annoyed yelling “Let’s Go, Let’s Go,” as long-time Yankee fan Billy Crystal took to the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“That was an unforeseen challenge. The festivities got a little away from the schedule,” Cole said. He went on to explain that it was like “you expect something and you don’t get it.”
The delay was all of four minutes and Cole sucked, though the Yanks beat the Red Sox 6-5.
--D--k hardware to the New York Rangers “fan,” James Anastasio, who sucker-punched a Tampa Bay Lightning fan at Madison Square Garden and told police hours later, he was worried the attack would go viral, it was revealed at his arraignment.
The Lightning fan was left unconscious on the concourse floor.
Anastasio was banned from The Garden for life.
--The ‘Wonder’ Bread Award to the great white shark, estimated by Monterey Bay shark experts to be 20-feet-long, who with a single bite inflicted leg, stomach, and arm injuries on a swimmer off the California coast, who made it out alive thanks to a surf instructor.
Said instructor, Heath Braddock, receives a Good Guy award for his heroism. I’m leaving the victim’s name out of this, though he did survive and was released from the hospital.
--Jerk certificates to all the major league ballplayers who refused to get vaccinated, even though this was required at the time to play in Toronto.
--Speaking of unvaccinated Jerks associated with baseball, for most of the season, former Yankees star and broadcaster Paul O’Neill was doing games from his home because he refused to get a shot. That crosses into D---dom territory.
--A Brat Award, not to be confused with an Usinger’s Brat from Milwaukee, to Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, who after a particularly dreadful performance was indifferent as to his responsibility.
--Two awards…one to Golfweek writer Eamon Lynch for his superior material, a simple acknowledgement of same, but also to Sergio Garcia for his body of work, or as Lynch describes it, his “dickish behavior.”
--Reader Whit W. was watching the video of the discovery of cheating in the most recent Lake Erie Walleye Trail fishing tournament where the two winning contestants were found to have stuffed some of their catch with extra lead weights and cut up fish fillets. One of the chief judges cuts open one of their fish and screams out in anger to the audience, “There’s weights in the fish!”
And so that’s the quote of the year. Special edition of “Bar Chat: The Game” to you, Dr. W., whenever we get around to making it.
--D--- Hardware to Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving for innumerable stupid acts, including his defense of posts promoting an anti-Semitic film and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Jones, by the way, goes into Bar Chat Hell. And you don’t want to go there, boys and girls.
--Idiot Play of the Year goes to the Patriots’ Jakobi Meyers as time ran out in the Pats-Raiders game when he lateralled it into the arms of Vegas’ Chandler Jones who took it in for the winning touchdown.
Said Meyers after: “I tried to do too much.”
--Idiot hardware to the Padres’ Fernando Tatis, not only for his offseason motorbike injury that cost him time, but then he was suspended for using PEDs.
--A posthumous Bar Chat Good Gal Award to Jule Campbell, architect of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Thank you, Ms. Campbell, for all you have done. [It’s not the same without her.]
--And now…the Animal of the Year Award.
For starters, if I remember next time, if there is a next time, the award is being renamed the Frida AOY award after the late search-and-rescue Labrador who became a national hero in Mexico for helping to locate earthquake victims amid debris across the Americas. Frida died this year of natural causes, age 13.
Following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, Frida located 12 survivors amid the rubble and helped locate 43 deceased victims following other disasters, according to Mexico’s Navy. She became a national hero after a 7.1-magnitude quake in 2017 that killed an estimated 370 in Mexico City.
And so the winner, and new inductee into the Bar Chat Hall of Fame, is Casper, the Great Pyrenees sheepdog from Decatur, Georgia, who saved John Wierwille’s flock of sheep by taking out eight coyotes and getting the other three to flee, despite putting his own life in great danger.
As documented just a few weeks ago, Caper suffered severe injuries, but last I saw he is still recovering in Mr. Wierwille’s home before, it is hoped, Casper can resume his duties.
The Bar Chat Awards are dedicated to P-22, the wondrous cougar of Hollywood. [Somehow that doesn’t sound right…the wondrous mountain lion of Hollywood. That’s better.]
And thank you to Paige Spiranac for her assistance.
Top 3 songs for the week 1/1/72: #1 “Brand New Key” (Melanie) #2 “American Pie – Parts I & II” (Don McLean) #3 “Family Affair” (Sly & The Family Stone)…and…#4 “An Old Fashioned Love Song” (Three Dog Night) #5 “Got To Be There” (Michael Jackson…in his top three…) #6 “Have You Seen Her” (Chi-Lites) #7 “Scorpio” (Dennis Coffey & The Detroit Guitar Band) #8 “Sunshine” (Jonathan Edwards) #9 “Cherish” (David Cassidy) #10 “Hey Girl” (Donny Osmond…B- week…)
[I had to skip 1971 because I would have been repeating the same songs from last time…I’ll go back to the year later.]
AP Athlete of the Year Quiz Answers: 1) Steve Cauthen, 1977, is the last jockey to win the honor. 2) Jimmie Johnson, 2009, was the last auto racer. 3) Lindsey Vonn, 2010, and Bonnie Blair, 1994, were the last two to pick up the honor for a Winter Olympic sport, though not solely because of their performance at the Games in the case of Vonn.
A very brief Add-on up top by noon, Wed.