Finally – - The World Series

The World Series starts tonight. The Colorado Rockies have been on their longest break since they reported to Spring Training. If the Series goes to seven games – without having one snowed out -, the last one will be on November 1st. That means that on the day after the World Series when one city is exulting in victory, fans in the other MLB towns can take solace in the fact that there are only 115 days until pitchers and catchers report…

I read that FOX will use 24 cameras and more than 75 microphones to cover the World Series. Let me break that down for you based on the way FOX covered the ALCS.

    One camera will give you the “centerfield shot” of the pitcher/catcher/hitter.

    One camera will give you facial close-ups of right handed hitters as they are out of the batter’s box.

    One camera will give you facial close-ups of left handed hitters as they are out of the batter’s box.

    One camera behind home plate at ground level will give you a great look at the umpire’s derriere.

    The other twenty cameras will focus on crowd shots and dugout shots.

Since I alluded above to the impending baseball off-season and the hot-stove league, I want to beg the baseball poets to ignore the “Will Roger Clemens Retire?” story this winter. Even if there are some folks outside the Clemens nuclear family who still find that story interesting, it’s not nearly the big deal it was four or five years ago. Look at what happened this year:

    Clemens was 6-6. Most people call that “ho-hum”…

    Clemens ERA was 4.18. Most people call that “ho-hum”…

    Clemens pitched all of 10 innings down the stretch in September. “Ho-hum”…

    For this the Yankees paid the season-long equivalent of about $28M. The story here wasn’t whether or not he’d come back; the story really was, “How else could the Yankees have spent $28M so uselessly?”

Now that Tom Osbourne is temporarily on board at Nebraska to set the football program on a winning course again, I think it’s fair to say that every real estate agent in Lincoln is rehearsing his/her pitch to Bill Callahan’s family as to why that agent should be the one to list their house. And the new Athletic Director that gets hired there will surely be given Osbourne’s short tutorial on how to schedule Utah State, a Division 1-AA cupcake and Florida International each and every season. It’s worked for Osbourne and Nebraska in the past…

For the last three weekends, the team ranked #2 in the polls has lost (USC, then Cal, then South Florida). This week, second-ranked Boston College is a three-point underdog to Virginia Tech. Maybe the oddsmakers have spotted a trend here?

Probably, the best college game this weekend is #9 USC at #5 Oregon. The winner stays in the BCS mix; the loser has a deep hole to crawl out from.

The worst game of the weekend could be Rice (1-6) at Marshall (0-7). Unless you had a blood relative playing in this game, would you travel from Texas to West Virginia to see this stinker?

Other bad games this weekend are:

    La Tech at Utah State – bad enough to make your hair hurt.

    Akron at Buffalo – at least it isn’t a long trip for the Zips.

    UCF at So. Mississippi – nationally televised on Sunday night against the World Series. Maybe someone will actually tune in?

Minnesota lost to North Dakota State last week to achieve a 1-7 record this season under new coach Tim Brewster. When Brewster arrived he complained about this game saying he wanted to play non-conference opponents that gave him some kind of advantage when it came to recruiting. He referred to North Dakota State as “the little guys in green”. Maybe North Dakota State is the team that is ready to “upgrade” its schedule? This week, Minnesota gets Michigan – the team that is 6-2 after losing its first two games and causing the city of Ann Arbor to raise angst to an art form.

In the NFL, the AFC has been dominant for the last five years or so. The recent match-up between the Pats and the Cowboys didn’t do much to show that the NFC is ready to assert its claim to top dog status. Dallas is one of the NFC’s top teams and they just got smoked by the Pats. Maybe the AFC Championship Game will be the “de facto Super Bowl” again this year?

By the way, this is only the third time since the merger of the AFL and the NFL when two teams with records of 5-0 or better have met during a season. The Cowboys and Pats put 75 points on the board; in the previous two meetings, defense ruled the day:

    Rams at Vikings (1973): Final score Minnesota 10 LA 9

    Jets at Pats (2004): Final score New England 13 New York 7.

What has happened to home-field advantage in the NFL? Twenty-six teams have lost home games this season. Obviously, New England and Indy are undefeated at home because they haven’t lost anywhere this year. If you can name the other four teams that have won all their home games so far this year without peeking, you are better than I… [Answer below]

The best NFL game this weekend is probably the Colts at the Panthers. It’s the only game where both teams lead their divisions at the moment. The problem is that Carolina will probably work to keep the clock running to keep the Colts’ offense off the field. Vinny Testaverde had an impressive debut with the Panthers two weeks ago and the team has had a bye week to rest and recuperate; but if the total for this game goes “into the fifties”, the Colts have a significant advantage.

By the way, the success of 43-year old Vinny Testaverde two weeks ago may have implications for the NFL. Everyone recognizes that the NFL is a “copycat league”; when something works, other teams glom onto it and try to emulate it. So, could this mean that Jeff George, Richard Todd and Jim McMahon might get invitations to training camps next season as emergency QBs?

The other four NFL teams who are undefeated at home so far are:

    Tampa Bay

Finally, here’s Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle on a recent QB dilemma for the Niners:

“Much hand-wringing all week over the possibility that the 49ers would send Alex Smith and his separated shoulder out there against the pass-rush-crazy New York Giants. That bullet is dodged, but can we spare a prayer for Trent Dilfer? Starting Dilfer against the Giants is like shoving an elk onto the freeway. Not many pretty things can happen.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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