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Mets Are Coming Up Small...Judge still shy of No. 62
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
--The Braves completed their 3-game sweep of the Mets, Sunday night, 5-3, as the third of the Metsies’ Big Three starters, Chris Bassitt, was hit hard…meaning Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Bassitt all laid an egg at the worst time of the season, New York leaving Atlanta late Sunday down 2 games with three to play.
The Mets then flew home for a final three with Washington, and the remnants of Hurricane Ian did a number on the New York area (and its beaches), Monday’s game rained out. It rained hard all Monday night and Tuesday morning, but then a little weather window developed for a hoped for twinbill starting at 4:00 p.m.
The Mets then swept the Nats, 4-2, 8-0, to get to 100-61, just the fourth team in Mets history to win 100, but the Braves, who had lost to the Marlins 4-0 on Monday down in Miami to keep the Mets’ faint hopes alive, defeated Miami 2-1 last night to clinch the NL East, 101-60, Atlanta owning the tiebreaker.
I do have to add that Mets fans got to see what prized prospect Francisco Alvarez can do in the nightcap, as his first major league hit was a massive home run and then he lined a double off the left field wall.
And New York’s Jeff McNeil is on the verge of the N.L. batting title, leading L.A.’s Freddie Freeman, .326 to .322.
So in the wild card playoffs, best of three, starting Friday, we have….
San Diego at New York
Philadelphia at St. Louis
Seattle at Toronto
Tampa Bay at Cleveland
--But the big story in sports concerned Aaron Judge, who went 1-for-4 Monday night in Texas, failing again to hit No. 62, while Luis Severino threw seven no-hit innings, though he was removed after throwing 94 pitches.
It was the right thing to do in the case of Severino (7-3, 3.18), making just his third start after being out over two months with a strained lat. It’s about the postseason.
As for Judge, the Yanks then had a day/night doubleheader Tuesday and the issue was would he play both games?
But after Judge went 1 for 5 in the Yanks’ 5-4 win in the opener, Judge finally did it in the nightcap, No. 62, against right-hander Jesus Tinoco.
Judge said afterwards: “It’s a big relief. It’s been a fun ride, getting a chance to do this. Getting a chance to have your name next to someone as great as Roger Maris and Babe Ruth and those guys is incredible.”
Roger Maris Jr. wasn’t on hand to see Judge break his father’s record, but that didn’t stop him from doubling down on the Yankees star holding the “clean” home run mark.
“Congratulations to Aaron Judge and his family on Aaron’s historic home run number 62!,” Maris Jr. tweeted shortly after the right fielder led off Game 2 of the doubleheader. “It has definitely been a baseball season to remember. You are all class and someone who should be revered. For the MAJORITY of the fans, we can now celebrate a new CLEAN HOME RUN KING!!”
Corey Youmans of Dallas caught the home run ball as he was immediately led away by security so the ball could be authenticated. Youmans said he didn’t know what he would do with it.
Roger Maris’ No. 61 home run ball was caught by Sal Durante, who met Maris after the game and offered to give the ball back to Roger.
Roger told Durante to keep the ball and put it up for auction. A few days later, Durante was paid $5,000 for the ball by a California restaurant owner named Sam Gordon.
Something tells me Corey Youmans will get a bit more than that.
--The Phillies are in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 after a 3-0 win over the Astros Monday clinched a wild-card berth, at the expense of the Brewers who were eliminated.
As of end of play Monday, the Phillies remained a game behind the Padres for the right to play the Mets (it is assumed), in the wild card playoffs.
San Diego 88-72
The Phillies then lost last night 10-0 to the Astros, as Justin Verlander, with five scoreless, finishes the regular season a spectacular 18-4, 1.75.
Imagine, the Phils started out 22-29, firing manager Joe Girardi, but they rallied around interim manager Rob Thomson and overcame a very lengthy absence from two-time MVP Bryce Harper.
--Albert Pujols slugged home run No. 703, a 2-run shot in the Cardinals’ 3-2 loss to the Pirates Monday in Pittsburgh, his shocking 24th home run of the season, 66 RBIs. He had hit just 23 in the prior two seasons combined.
With the two RBI Monday, Pujols passed Babe Ruth for second on the all-time list.
And I can’t help but add, the 42-year-old’s OPS of now .895 is his best since 2011. Phenomenal stuff.
Last night, Pujols then added two more ribbies in the Cardinals’ 8-7 win over the Pirates.
--In a 5-4 loss to Oakland Monday, Shohei Ohtani got his 30th double and 95th RBI. It was game No. 155 for him, same as 2021, so he has more than proved his durability in terms of that monster contract he deserves at some point next season.
--Tony La Russa announced he was stepping down as the White Sox’ manager because of health concerns that have kept him out five weeks.
La Russa turned 78 Tuesday and hasn’t been in the dugout since doctors told him Aug. 30 he needed further testing on his heart.
According to La Russa, there was an issue with the pacemaker he had implanted in February that forced him to step away from the team. During his absence, a second issue was diagnosed. He had been under contract through 2023.
La Russa, a Hall of Famer, said “his overall prognosis is good.”
The skipper made some unorthodox moves this season and he recognized “there’s enough negativity in my managing, and I worried about being a distraction to the ballclub and the organization,” he said.
--Tokyo Yakult Swallows 22-year-old star Munetaka Murakami slugged his 56th home run in the final game of the Nippon Professional Baseball regular season, breaking Sadahur Oh’s record for most home runs hit in a single season in the league by a Japanese-born player, set in 1964. The overall single-season record of 60 was set in 2013 by Wladimir Balentien.
Murakami was the league’s MVP in 2021 and followed it with a better season this year, a 1.163 OPS and 132 RBIs.
The Nippon season is just 143 games.
Oh holds the world lifetime home run record with 868. He played from 1959-80 and had 13 seasons with at least 40 homers. As Ronald Reagan would have said, reading the sports section in the Japan Times, Nancy just fixing him some cream of wheat as she races for a breakfast with Barbara Sinatra, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
--No titanic games this weekend…but 17 TCU (4-0) vs. 19 Kansas (5-0) and 11 Utah (4-1) vs. 18 UCLA (5-0) are rather intriguing. Wake Forest fans will be interested in Florida State (4-1) at 14 N.C. State (4-1), as the 15 Deacs (4-1) take on a poor Army team (1-3).
Which means there will be a big upset that is nowhere on anyone’s radar.
--Miami has ruled out Tua Tagovailoa for this week’s game aginast the Jets. Coach Mike McDaniel said Tua’s MRI came back clean but that it’s “too early to give a definite timeline” for the quarterback’s return from the concussion he suffered last Thursday night against the Bengals.
Tagovailoa is expected to be interviewed as part of the joint NFL and NFL Players Association’s joint investigation of his quick return to the Week 3 game against the Bills. The two agree that “modifications to the concussion protocol are needed to enhance player safety.”
Teddy Bridgewater, who replaced Tua in the Week 4 loss against the Bengals, will get the start on Sunday against the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
--The Giants are playing in London this Sunday against the Packers and as of today, there is uncertainty concerning the quarterback position. Starter Daniel Jones suffered a sprained ankle and might be able to play, but backup Tyrod Taylor is in concussion protocol. Head Coach Brian Daboll said the team is working out some quarterbacks.
Davis Webb is on the practice squad, but reportedly Jake Fromm and A.J. McCarron have been spotted at MetLife.
--Summit, N.J.’s Michael Badgley accounted for all of the Bears’ points in a 20-12 loss to the Giants on Sunday, going 4-for-4 on field goals. And then on Monday he was cut.
Last Friday, Badgley went through a tryout for Chicago, signed to the practice squad Saturday, did his thing Sunday, and then it was sayonara.
You see, the Bears regular kicker, Cario Santos, had a personal issue, which was why he had to miss Sunday’s game, and he’s back.
But for Badgley, who had a very solid season for Indianapolis last year (18 of 21 FGs, 39 of 39 on extra points), he was a free agent and I’m not sure why he wasn’t able to latch on with someone in training camp, but, as Tony Soprano would have said, whaddya gonna do.
He’ll find a new team soon, I’m sure. But such is the life of a kicker.
One thing that was cool was that at least a lot of his friends and family in nearby Summit got to see him play in MetLife Stadium.
Update: Badgley was just signed to the Lions’ practice squad.
--The Jets announced the passing of two former offensive linemen last weekend…5- time Pro Bowler and 3-time All-Pro, Marvin Powell, 67, and the durable Jim Sweeney, who started 158 consecutive games during an 11-year stretch with the team, mostly at center. Sweeney was 60.
Powell, out of USC, and Sweeney, a college standout at Pitt, were teammates during the Jets’ 1984 and ’85 seasons.
Powell, a College Football Hall of Famer, could easily be in the NFL Hall of Fame as well. Sweeney was a second-round pick out of Pitt, where he centered for Dan Marino.
Sweeney wound up his career with the Seahawks and then his hometown Steelers, 228 games in all.
No cause of death was given for either.
--And…Gisele Bundchen has hired a divorce attorney to begin proceedings against Tom Brady, who has done the same, according to People.
The two married in February of 2009.
The reports have been that Gisele was furious with Tom after he un-retired.
A source told People that “Gisele is frustrated and sick of his career coming before their family, who has always supported him.”
--After I posted last time, Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes defeated Sepp Straka on the second playoff hole at the Sanderson Farms Championship for Hughes’ second career win.
Hughes was disappointed he didn’t make the International team for the Presidents Cup and used that as motivation.
--Wake Forest was No. 1 in men’s soccer heading into last weekend, and then the Deacs lost to then-4 Duke at home, 3-2.
So Wake fell to 4 in this week’s poll, 9-0-1, as Washington is the new No. 1.
5. Stanford…Wake’s nemesis in the postseason
--We note the passing of country music legend, Loretta Lynn, 90.
Lynn’s family said in a statement from her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee:
“Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills.”
Lynn had four children before launching her career in the early 1960s. As a songwriter, she crafted a persona of a defiantly tough woman, a contrast to the stereotypical image of most female country singers. Lynn wrote about sex and love, cheating husbands, divorce and birth control and sometimes got in trouble with Country Radio for her material.
Her biggest hits came in the 1960s and ‘70s, including “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “The Pill,” “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin (With Lovin’ On Your Mind),” “Rated X” and “You’re Looking at Country.” She was known for her floor-length, wide gowns with elaborate embroidery or rhinestones.
Lynn’s honesty and unique place in country music was rewarded, as she was the first woman named entertainer of the year at the genre’s two major awards shows, first by the Country Music Association in 1972 and then by the Academy of County Music three years later.
“It was what I wanted to hear and what I knew other women wanted to hear, too,” Lynn told the AP in 2016. “I didn’t write for the men; I wrote for us women. And the men loved it, too.”
In 1969, Lynn released her autobiographical “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which helped her reach her widest audience yet.
“We were poor but we had love / That’s the one thing Daddy made sure of / He shoveled coal to make a poor man’s dollar,” she sang.
“Coal Miner’s Daughter” was made into a movie of the same name. Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of Lynn won her an Academy Award and the film was also nominated for best picture.
Lynn wrote in her autobiography that she was 13 when she got married to Oliver “Mooney” Lynn, but the AP later discovered state records that showed she was 15.
With her husband’s help, she earned a recording contract and performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage.
She also teamed up with singer Conway Twitty to form one of the most popular duos in country music, including “After the Fire is Gone,” which earned them a Grammy Award.
The Academy of Country Music chose her as the artist of the decade for the 1970s, and she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988.
Next Bar Chat late Sunday p.m. I have a family obligation that day that will impact how much I am able to write.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
[Posted early Sunday p.m., before Mets-Braves and late football]
NFL Quiz: The New York Times’ Doug Kelly recently had a piece on how Norm Van Brocklin still holds the single-game record for passing yards, 554, which he set on Sept. 28, 1951, while with the Los Angeles Rams. In all, including Van Brocklin, 24 times a passer has thrown for 500 in NFL history. Name those who did so since 2000 (17 of the 24, some doing it multiple times). Answer below.
--After Saturday’s game, an 8-0 Yankees win over Baltimore at the Stadium, Aaron Judge was still at 61 home runs, just one in 10 games, though a rather important one. He does have 17 walks. Time is running out. After this afternoon’s game, New York goes to Texas for a final four.
The Baseball World is pulling for the guy. A good, humble man. A good role model. The family of Roger Maris has been at every game and is fully supportive of Judge.
Roger Maris Jr. said after watching Judge tie the record his father set in 1961 last Wednesday:
“He should be revered and celebrated just like the single season home run champ, not just like he’s the American League home run champ,” Maris Jr. said. “He should be celebrated. I can’t think of anyone better that baseball can look up to as Aaron Judge, who is the face of baseball, to actually do that.”
Asked if he considered Barry Bonds’, Mark McGwire’s and Sammy Sosa’s milestones to be illegitimate, Maris Jr. said: “I do. I think most people do.”
Meanwhile, Judge is still gunning for a Triple Crown, the only other Yankees to do so being Lou Gehrig (1934) and Mickey Mantle (1956).
Entering Sunday’s play, Judge was trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez for the batting title portion, .315 to .313.
And Judge went 0-for-3 with a walk today, three strikeouts, as the Yanks lost 3-1, Judge’s average down to .311, Arraez not in the lineup for the Twinkies.
--Aside from Aaron Judge’s pursuit, the biggest story in baseball on the final weekend of the regular season was the Mets-Braves NL East race.
The Mets picked up a huge game last Wednesday when they beat the Marlins 5-4 in 10 innings, while the Braves were losing to the Nationals 3-2 in 10 in Washington.
Both had Thursday off and the two teams headed to Atlanta for a massive three-game series, that could decide things…the winner critically receiving a bye in the playoffs.
But then the Mets’ co-aces, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, didn’t get the job done, though to be fair, it’s not as if the Mets’ bats helped any, New York and deGrom losing Friday night, 5-2, Jake giving up three solo home runs, and then Scherzer coming up small last night, 4-2.
The Braves had their two best, Max Fried and Kyle Wright, Friday and Saturday, though each went just five innings. It was the Atlanta pen that came through, yielding just one run in eight innings combined.
So entering tonight’s mammoth contest we have….
Should the Mets win tonight, the Metropolitans running out 15-game winner Chris Bassitt vs. Atlanta’s grizzled veteran, Charlie Morton, they would clinch the season-series with the Braves and thus earn the tiebreaker.
But New York has a pesky Washington club at Citi Field for the final three, while Atlanta travels to Miami for three. Anything can happen. My Mets, though, must win tonight. The bye is huge.
One final note. Mets fans are particularly concerned with deGrom. In his first seven starts back from his year-long absence, he was 5-1, 1.66, looking like his overpowering self. But in his next four, he has yielded at least three runs in each, a 6.00 ERA, and is 0-3. He says he’s healthy, and he looks healthy. He’s just throwing a lot of balls right down the middle.
DeGrom also developed a blister in his start 10 days ago against the Pirates and he said the issue popped up again Friday, so this isn’t good.
--Albert Pujols hit No. 701 Friday in a 2-1 win over the Pirates.
That makes 7 home runs in September, 18 RBIs, .884 OPS, following 7-18, 1.224! in August. This is from a 42-year-old who played like one April thru June (and then better in July). He has 22 home runs this season, 61 ribbies, .867 OPS thru Saturday. I mean this is amazing.
And he’s obviously going to be a key factor in the playoffs.
--Friday night, Seattle ended the longest playoff drought in sports (the four major ones), 21 years, with a 2-1 victory over Oakland on a Cal Raleigh walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth.
With the Mariners playoff bound, the longest active postseason drought is now held by the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, who haven’t tasted playoff basketball since the 2005-06 season. Following them are my New York Jets, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010.
--Last Thursday, in the Angels 4-2 win over the A’s, Shohei Ohtani flirted with a no-hitter, allowing no runs on just two hits in eight innings, 10 Ks, as he improved to 15-8, 2.35, while driving in his 94th run. Were it not for Aaron Judge, Ohtani is a runaway winner for a second MVP award.
So Saturday, the Angels awarded the arbitration eligible Ohtani with a record $30 million deal for 2023 to avoid what might have been a messy hearing. Fully guaranteed, no provisions, a contract surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Dodgers.
Good for the Angels. Yes, obviously Ohtani could be traded next year, but assuming that doesn’t happen until the trade deadline, at least there are good vibes, you would think, heading into next spring, and if come June they are competitive, maybe L.A. gives Shohei a massive 10-year deal. Let’s face it, he’s a huge reason why Angels fans show up, but at the same time, this is their seventh consecutive losing season.
Owner Arte Moreno is exploring a sale and you’d have to think the new owners would do all they could to keep the lad.
--The Dodgers won a franchise-record 107th game on Wednesday, and have now stretched that to 110 with Saturday night’s 6-4 win over the Rockies at home. Remarkable.
--We note the passing for former Kansas City Athletics and Yankees outfielder Hector Lopez, who would become the first Black manager in the highest level of minor league baseball, the AAA-affiliate of the Washington Senators in 1969.
Lopez hit .269 in 12 seasons with 136 home runs and 591 RBIs, and he won two World Series rings with the Yanks, 1961-62, but he was a godawful fielder.
College Football Review
[Comments written prior to release of latest AP Poll.]
We almost had a titanic upset, but No. 1 Georgia (5-0), a 31-point favorite (I use ESPN.com spreads), was down to Missouri (2-3) 22-12 with 14:09 to play in the game and then Stetson Bennett and Co. went to work, scoring twice for the 26-22 win on the road. But Mizzou beat the spread, handily, and at the end of the day, boys and girls….
2 Alabama is 5-0 following a 49-26 win at 20 Arkansas (3-2). There was a scary moment for Bama fans as Heisman winner Bryce Young went out with a shoulder injury (though coach Nick Saban said it isn’t serious), but backup Jalen Moore rushed for 91 yards and a score, while Jahmyr Gibbs rumbled for 206 yards on 18 carries and two TDs.
The Razorbacks did cut a 28-0 lead to 28-23 before the Crimson Tide responded with two quick touchdowns.
3 Ohio State (5-0) gave up an early TD to visiting Rutgers (3-2) and then rolled, 49-10, RU held to just 187 yards of offense, Miyan Williams with 189 yards on 21 carries and five touchdowns for the Buckeyes, tying a team record for TDs held by two greats, Pete Johnson and Keith Byars.
4 Michigan is 5-0 after beating Iowa (3-2) in Iowa City.
And 5 Clemson, hot off its 51-45 double overtime win at Wake Forest, passed another big test, beating 10 North Carolina State (4-1) 30-20, holding the Wolfpack to 34 yards on the ground, while quarterback DJ Uiagalelei had another solid game for the Tigers, now 5-0.
So there are your playoff favorites. One of the five is not going to make it. Of course that assumes Michigan and Clemson run the table, which would knock off Ohio State in the process, but unless either Georgia or Alabama stumble before they face each other in the SEC championship, they are both in.
Of course I’m jumping way ahead of myself, Bama needing to beat Ole Miss on the road, for example, and Georgia squaring off against Tennessee down the road.
But this would be conventional thinking today.
So that would leave out 6 USC, which is 5-0 after a 42-25 win Saturday night over a lousy Arizona State squad (1-4), Caleb Williams once again leading the way for the Trojans.
But speaking of Ole Miss, the No. 14 Rebels are 5-0 after beating 7 Kentucky 22-19, a big win for coach Lane Kiffin. The Mississippi defense forced Wildcats star QB Will Levis into two big fumbles that iced the game. Kentucky was also done in by a poor kicking game.
8 Tennessee was idle, while 9 Oklahoma State moved to 4-0 with a 36-25 win at 16 Baylor (3-2).
11 Penn State is 5-0 after a less than scintillating 17-7 win over Northwestern (1-4).
In other games of note, Mississippi State (4-1) upset 17 Texas A&M (3-2) 42-24, American treasure Will Rogers with three touchdown passes for the Bulldogs.
And TCU (4-0) blasted 18 Oklahoma (3-2) 55-24, as first-year OU head coach Brent Venables will be hearing it back in Norman. The so-called defensive whiz from his days running Clemson’s great Ds, saw his Sooners give up 361 on the ground, and four touchdowns of 60 or more yards.
Going back to last week’s loss to Kansas State, OU has yielded 1,177 yards and 96 points in two games.
We had a big game for 22 Wake Forest (4-1), which bounced back from its heartbreaking loss at home to Clemson last week to beat 23 Florida State (4-1), 31-21, in impressive fashion on the road. After falling behind 7-0, the Deacs ran off 28 unanswered and actually picked up 171 yards on the ground.
But Wake still needed a masterful 18-play drive that culminated in the game-clinching field goal after the Seminoles had cut it to 28-21 in the fourth. So the Deacs should move up about four spots in this afternoon’s poll.
Elsewhere, 13 Oregon (4-1) beat Stanford (1-3) 45-27.
Boston College is 2-3 after a nice 34-33 win over Louisville (2-3), Eagles QB Phil Jurkovec with his best game yet, 18/21, 304, 3-1, while future NFL star Zay Flowers caught five for 151 yards and two TDs. More importantly, B.C.’s ‘D’ held Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham to just 52 yards rushing, though he scored three TDs.
Boston College also beat the spread, but around these parts, you can’t talk about this because there’s kind of a history there, you understand.
Duke is 4-1, as first-year coach Mike Elko’s Blue Devils are vastly improved, beating Virginia (2-3) 38-17. [Duke alum Ken P., Brad K., Leah M. et al are trying to hide their excitement.]
Syracuse is 5-0 after a 59-0 pasting of lowly Wagner, losers of 24 straight. Quarterback Garrett Shrader was rather good, like 17 of 17. Running back Sean Tucker rushed for 232 yards and three TDs.
Johnny Mac’s Coastal Carolina remained undefeated at 5-0 after an exciting 34-30 win over Georgia Southern (3-2). Trailing 17-14 after three, the Chants scored three touchdowns, including a spectacular CJ Beasley 24-yard run for the clincher at 0:38.
Yes, sports fans…the Sun Belt Conference is where the action is this season.
Friday night, Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins moved to 5-0 with a 40-32 upset of 15 Washington (4-1), as Dorian Thompson-Robinson passed for three touchdowns and rushed for a fourth.
The Bruins have Utah and Oregon their next two, and things could fall apart, but some of us can’t help but look at Nov. 19 and the USC game. Could it be like the old days? More than just a Battle of the Cheerleaders?!
Lastly, Fresno State, a 23-point favorite, traveled to East Hartford, Ct., to face the lowly UConn Huskies and UConn (2-4) beat the Bulldogs (1-3) 19-14! Jeff B. and UConn Nation partied alllllll night.
I do have to add, since I wasn’t able to do a Bar Chat last week, that the atmosphere at Wake Forest for the Clemson game was electric…best I’ve ever seen it. For the smallest Power Five school by enrollment, our student section was terrific. Good job. Alas, we fell short. But very glad I went.
And now the new AP Poll!
Bama jumped Georgia…and seven teams fell out of the top 25.
1. Alabama (25 first-place votes) 5-0…2 points ahead of the Bulldogs
2. Georgia (28) 5-0
3. Ohio State (10) 5-0
4. Michigan 5-0
5. Clemson 5-0
6. USC 5-0
7. Oklahoma State 4-0
8. Tennessee 4-0
9. Ole Miss 5-0
10. Penn State 5-0….eh…
11. Utah 4-1
12. Oregon 4-1…quack quack
13. Kentucky 4-1
14. N.C. State 4-1
15. Wake Forest 4-1…holy cow, up 7!
16. BYU 4-1
17. TCU 4-0
18. UCLA 5-0…ooh baby
19. Kansas 5-0…first ranking since 2009*
20. Kansas State 5-0
21. Washington 4-1
22. Syracuse 5-0
23. Mississippi 4-1
24. Cincinnati 4-1
25. LSU 4-1…huh
*That season the Jayhawks proceeded to lose six straight and the program never recovered. Both Kansas schools are ranked for the first time since Oct. 14, 2007. The two play each other in the final regular season game, Nov. 26.
--So I’ve complained how the last few years the NFL has had no problem putting both the Jets and Giants on at 1:00 when they are in the Eastern or Central time zones, which sucks for us New York area fans.
But I was focusing on the Jets early on today at Pittsburgh when Steve D., local Giants fan, informed me that Summit, N.J.’s own, Michael Badgley, had been signed by the Bears yesterday as their placekicker, so then I was really intent on watching both the Jets and the Giants’ game against the Bears at the Meadowlands.
And whaddya know? They both freakin’ won! The Giants are 3-1 after beating Chicago 20-12 (Badgley 4 of 4 for all 12 Bears points…so he has a job for at least another two weeks, as these things work). The Giants only had 71 yards passing, but a whopping 262 on the ground, Saquon Barkley with a career-high 31 carries for 146 yards. Quarterback Daniel Jones, who injured his ankle, rushing for two scores and 68 yards.
And the Jets, after their opening day miracle in Cleveland, won their second on the road (now 2-2), as Zach Wilson returned at QB. Forget Wilson’s stats (18/36, 252, 1-2, 59.0). He showed why the organization, and yours truly, is still high on him, engineering two terrific fourth-quarter drives of 81 and 65 yards, after the Steelers had taken a 20-10 lead with 13:36 remaining in the game. The guy has the arm, and athleticism, even after his latest knee injury, but the decision-making is often questionable. That said, a win is a win.
As for Pittsburgh, after starting QB Mitch Trubisky underwhelmed early, Mike Tomlin went with the fan favorite, Kenny Pickett, the hometown Univ. of Pittsburgh boy, and he showed he has some talent, 10/13, 120, and two rushing touchdowns. But those three incompletions were all picked off…four Jets INTs in all for the game. I told Jeff B., Pittsburgh fan, I was drinking Coors Light to celebrate, he said he was drinking something harder.
So I saw zero of any of the other early games…but the Bills are 3-1 after a 23-20 win down in Baltimore (2-2).
Both Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson were hardly impressive, but Ravens fans are questioning coach John Harbaugh’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-two from the 2-yard line, game tied at 20-20, 4:09 to play, when a field goal would have put them ahead. Instead, Jackson threw one of his two picks, and the Bills, behind Allen, went 77 yards to set up the game-winning Tyler Bass field goal on the game’s final play.
Dallas is 3-1, 3-0 under Cooper Rush, after a 25-10 win over the Redskins (1-3), Carson ‘Senor Wences’ with two INTs for the team from Washington. [Go ahead, fine me.] This game must have been deadly to watch, the Commanders outgaining the Cowboys 297-279.
And the Eagles are 4-0 after a 29-21 win at home over the upstart Jags (2-2), the Philly ‘D’ holding Trevor Lawrence and Co. to just 219 yards of offense, while the Eagles rumbled for 210 on the ground, Miles Sanders (not to be confused with Myles Standish) going for 134 yards on 27 carries and two scores.
Lastly, as I am posting before the conclusion of the late games, the Seahawks are 2-2 after a road win shootout at Detroit (1-3), 48-45, as the much-maligned Geno Smith had himself a game, 23/30, 320, 2-0, 132.6, plus 49 yards on the ground and another score. The Lions’ Jared Goff wasn’t exactly chopped liver, throwing for 379 yards and four touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough.
Rashaad Penny rushed for 151 yards on just 17 carries and two TDs for Seattle as well.
--The unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) involved in clearing Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa during Sunday’s game against the Bills was fired after it was found he made “several mistakes” in his evaluation, a league source told ESPN Saturday.
The source said the NFL Players Association exercised its right to dismiss the consultant. The NFLPA and the league each have the right to fire a UNC without agreement from the other party.
Yes, last Sunday, and then Thursday, was a disaster for the NFL. Tagovailoa briefly left the game after hitting the back of his head on the ground and stumbling while trying to return to the huddle. He was taken to the locker room and tested for a concussion but returned to the game after passing his evaluation. The Dolphins initially listed him as questionable to return with a head injury but later stated that a back injury Tagovailoa suffered earlier in the game caused him to stumble.
So that was last Sunday. Then Thursday, in the first half of Miami’s game against Cincinnati, Tua’s head hit the turf again late in the first half, the quarterback remaining on the field for 12 minutes before he was taken away on a stretcher and eventually to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Tagovailoa was diagnosed with a concussion and discharged hours later. Surprisingly, he flew back with the team early Friday morning. A league source told ESPN that Tagovailoa’s initial scans were negative, and Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel confirmed there was no further damage beyond his concussion.
So Tua remains in the concussion protocol, and McDaniel said there is no timetable for his return. Tua said he feels much better.
McDaniel said: “I have 100 percent conviction in our process regarding our players. This is a player-friendly organization, and I make it very clear from the onset that my job here is for the players… If there would have been anything lingering with his head, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I prematurely put someone out there and put them in harm’s way.
NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said Tagovailoa was evaluated for a concussion every day between the games on Sunday and Thursday. The league’s concussion protocol states that the same UNC who performs a player’s initial test “ideally” should perform the follow-up evaluations, but a member of the team’s medical staff may do so if necessary.
It was not immediately known whether the now-terminated doctor performed Tua’s follow-up evaluations.
--Near where I live, in Linden, New Jersey, we had a tragedy the other week when a 16-year-old sophomore at Linden High, Xavier McClain, died about two weeks after he suffered a serious injury during a Sept. 9 game against Woodbridge High. Two days later, a senior at St. John Vianney, sustained an apparent spinal cord injury during a game against Manasquan and underwent emergency surgery.
A third New Jersey high school football player, a kid from Rahway High, died in his sleep Sept. 8, though no cause of death has been provided by the family.
--At the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, a big DP World Tour event, New Zealand’s Ryan Fox captured his second DP World win with a one-stroke victory over Alex Noren and Callum Shinkwin (England), Rory McIlory in a tie for fourth.
--But at the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship, Jackson, Miss., I’m posting before the finish, Mackenzie Hughes in the lead late as he seeks his second Tour title. Make that Sepp Straka in the lead. More in my Add-on.
--I just have to go back to the Presidents Cup, and for the archives, since I didn’t do a column last week, the U.S. had an 8-2 lead after day two, but the Internationals, led by a new star, Tom Kim, came back and made it competitive, the Americans eventually winning 17 ½-12 ½.
As I figured, Max Homa took advantage of the stage and was 4-0, as his star continues to rise. Yes, he will be picking up a lot of the new PIP money the Tour is offering. He’s a social media animal (in a good way, I hasten to add), and ‘gets it.’
As in Monday morning, after what clearly was a huge celebration for the U.S. team, Homa tweeted:
“Update: I am unwell.”
Teammate Justin Thomas co-signed it. J.T. went 4-1 and is now 16-5-3 between the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. Jordan Spieth was 5-0-0.
But good job by International Team captain Trevor Immelman and the show the South Korean contingent put on, in particular.
--In an interview with the BBC this week, Rory McIlroy said golf is “ripping itself apart” as tensions between the PGA tour and LIV Golf continue to divide the sport. Rory said it was up to players who had joined the breakaway LIV series to help resolve the tensions between the two sides.
Those on the LIV circuit have been adamant they should receive points from the Official World Golf Ranking, something McIlroy doesn’t necessarily see any problems with considering a number of talented golfers are associated with the LIV tour.
But with LIV competitors playing three rounds – only 54 holes – at each tournament while the PGA Tour plays four rounds, McIlroy said there needs to be some sort of compromise if that’s going to happen.
“You can’t make up your own rules,” Rory said. “There’s criteria there, everyone knows what they are and if they want to pivot to meet the criteria, they can.
“I certainly have no problem with them getting ranking points at all. But you just have to meet the criteria, and if you don’t meet the criteria, it’s going to be hard to justify why you should have them.”
But PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan reiterated his opinion about LIV in an interview with ESPN this week.
“They’ve gone down their path, and I think we have been pretty consistent that we’re going down ours,” Monahan said when asked if the tours could coexist, “and I don’t see that happening. Haven’t, and I don’t.”
Monahan expressed confidence that the PGA Tour will outlast LIV Golf.
“Any young kid today, any kid that’s going to be playing the game going forward ultimately is going to want to win the biggest championships, the biggest tournaments, and put themselves in a position and on a path over the course of their golf journey to get to the PGA Tour and to…achieve at the highest level,” he said.
“We are going to continue to evolve and get stronger in every single area of that spectrum or of that journey.”
Meanwhile, LIV Golf refuted a report Tuesday that it was close to a U.S. television deal in which it would buy time to be shown on FS1.
LIV Golf said the Golfweek story was “incomplete and inaccurate.”
Fox Sports declined to comment.
LIV has been shown only on its YouTube channel, Facebook and its website, and viewership numbers have been modest. I find it a joke that the official scoreboard needs to be ‘refreshed’ to update it.
After stops in Thailand and Saudi Arabia, LIV wraps up its inaugural season with a $50 million team championship at Trump Doral in Miami. This one will be more than about the golf, as I warned months ago.
In the big games this weekend, Arsenal stayed on top with a 3-1 home win against Tottenham. Not a great performance by my Spurs, but 30 games to go.
Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 2-1, and mysteriously mediocre Liverpool managed just another draw, this one with Brighton, 3-3, though Brighton is no slouch.
Then today, Manchester City whipped Man United 6-3, as the amazing Erling Haaland became the first player in Premier League history to have three consecutive hat-tricks at home. Haaland has 17 goals in all 10 of his matches, and 14 in 8 PL games. [Tottenham’s Harry Kane is second with 7, to give you an idea of just how dominant Haaland has been.]
The standings, 7/8 of 38…played – points
1. Arsenal…8 – 21
2. Man City…8 – 20
3. Tottenham…8 – 17
4. Brighton…7 – 14 …Champions League line
5. Chelsea…7 – 13
6. Man U…7 – 12
9. Liverpool…7 – 10 …my brother isn’t happy
Wolverhampton fired their manager, Bruno Lage, after a dreadful start, six points in eight games.
--In a very exciting finish at Talladega Superspeedway, Chase Elliott held off Ryan Blaney to punch his ticket into the Round of 8 in the Cup Playoffs, as your editor had the first three (including Michael McDowell) in his DraftKings lineup, but because of my other drivers, it ended up being just enough in winnings to buy some rolls of toilet paper at $1.25 Tree.
Not that I’m really complaining, TP being a rather important necessity.
--Seven-time NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson announced his retirement from full-time racing, but he’ll continue to race in selected events, like LeMans and perhaps an occasional NASCAR or IndyCar race.
What I love is he’s entertaining the idea of doing “The Double” – the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
Kurt Busch was the last to attempt the 1,100-mile, two-state odyssey in 2014. Tony Stewart, who twice attempted both races, is the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles. [Busch fell 200 miles shy when his engine failed in Charlotte.]
--I loved Anthony Bourdain. So count me among those who are furious with the unauthorized biography titled “Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain,” by journalist Charles Leerhsen, which includes text messages by the late celebrity chef in his final days.
I choose to keep the good memories, and never gave a damn about his personal life. Sure, Bourdain had problems. We all do. Stuff like this isn’t fair.
--Harry Styles’ hit “As It Was” has become the longest-running number one on the Billboard Hot 100 by a British artist.
The song scored a 15th week on top, breaking a record previously held jointly by Mark Ronson and Sir Elton John.
Their hits, “Uptown Funk” and “Candle In the Wind,” respectively, each spent 14 weeks in the No. 1 position.
“Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus holds the overall record of 19 weeks.
Top 3 songs for the week 10/7/78: #1 “Kiss You All Over” (Exile) #2 “Boogie Oogie Oogie” (A Taste Of Honey) #3 “Hot Child In The City” (Nick Gilder)…and…#4 “Don’t Look Back” (Boston) #5 “Summer Nights” (John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John) #6 “Reminiscing” (Little River Band…great tune…) #7 “Hopelessly Devoted To You” (Olivia Newton-John) #8 “Love Is In The Air” (John Paul Young) #9 “You Needed Me” (Anne Murray) #10 “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’” (Kenny Loggins…shockingly, it’s junior year at Wake and I’m still there! Of course I had to escape to Oklahoma and Kansas that summer to sell books door-to-door, but you do what you gotta do, sports fans…‘D’ week…)
NFL Quiz Answer: 500 passing yards since 2000…
Matt Schaub (Houston Texans)…527 (2012)
Joe Burrow (Cincinnati)…525 (2021)
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh)…522 (2014)
Matthew Stafford (Detroit)…520 (2012)
Jared Goff (L.A. Rams)…517 (2019)
Tom Brady (New England)…517 (2011)
Derek Carr (Oakland)…513 (2016)
Eli Manning (N.Y. Giants)…510 (2012)
Drew Brees (New Orleans)…510 (2006)
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh)…506 (2017)
Tony Romo (Dallas)…506 (2013)
Drew Brees (New Orleans)…505 (2015)
Elvis Grbac (Kansas City)…504 (2000)
Matt Ryan (Atlanta)…503 (2016)
Philip Rivers (San Diego)…503 (2015)
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh)…503 (2009)
Dak Prescott (Dallas)…502 (2020)
Jake Plummer (Denver)…499 (2004)
Matt Schaub (Houston)…497 (2010)
And I just have to add, Joe Namath (Jets)…496 (Sept. 24, 1972)…a 44-34 win over the Colts.
This was a classic Namath game, 15/28, 496, 6-1.
Fifteen completions, 496 yards.
Rich Caster 6-204-3
Eddie Bell 7-197-1
John Riggins 1-67-1
Don Maynard 1-28-1
Good Lord, Joe Willie!
Johnny Unitas was 26/45, 376, 2-0, for Baltimore but sacked six times. [This was against the Jets line led by Gerry Philbin and John Elliott, with linebackers Larry Grantham and Al Atkinson.]
Ah, the good old days.
I’ll have an Add-on up top by noon, Wed.