Jack Whitaker died over the weekend at the age of 95. He was one of the old guard in sports television. I believe his first national exposure was on the CBS pre-game show for the NFL back in the 60s. He was part of the program that featured a young Brent Musberger, Jimmie the Greek Snyder and Phyllis George. He was also the TV voice for the Belmont Stakes the day Secretariat ran his historic race there.
Rest in peace, Jack Whitaker.
On “Players Weekend”, MLB allows players to put whatever name they want on the back of their jerseys – – within reason of course. It might have been fun to have had such a weekend when some great players in the past had great nicknames such as:
- Mr. October
- Splendid Splinter
- Stan the Man
- Sultan of Swat
Oh well …
In NFL news, the league has reinstated Josh Gordon – seemingly for the umpteenth time – – and that is probably very good news for the New England Patriots. A potential shortcoming for the team in 2019 is the roster of pass catchers; with Rob Gronkowski in retirement and Julian Edelman much closer to his mid-30s than his mid20s, the ranks of pass catchers is thin. The Pats did draft a WR early in the draft and it would be a big plus for them if N’Keal Harry was an early bloomer, but Gordon – when he manages to stay clear of the league’s drug policy – has already shown his worth at the NFL level. Last year, Gordon caught 40 passes in 11 games for the Pats and gained 720 yards; that is an impressive 18 yards per catch.
As if the Patriots needed a lucky break …
All too often, fans get themselves into a euphoric state when their favorite team starts the season on a hot streak. Going even beyond the state where sugar plums dance in their heads, fans begin to envision a triumphant march for their heroes to something like the Super Bowl Championship or the World Series Championship. More rational thinkers recognize the danger of extrapolating from a small sample size and manage to curb their enthusiasm. This year’s baseball season provides one such example:
- At one point in April, the Seattle Mariners were 13-2. No one would expect any team to continue to win 87% of their games, but at 13-2, some folks might have entered a rapturous state.
- This morning the Mariners’ record stands at 53-73; they are 27 games behind the Astros in the AL West.
The Mariners are a team in rebuilding mode; a record akin to 53-73 is not outrageously bad. Any thoughts of “playoffs” or “World Series” back in April would have been a conscious denial of the roster that had been assembled for the 2019 season.
Last week, the Washington Post had a long article that tried to explain why there are no left-handed QBs in the NFL and there have not been any since 2017 when Kellen Moore retired. Here is a link to that article; I am not going to come close to making all the points therein, but here are some of the highlights:
- Athletes who are left-handed seem to be aimed at baseball where left-handed pitchers can have long and lucrative careers. This seems to diminish the number of left-handed QBs in the development pipeline.
- Coaches and GMs are creatures of habit. GMs build teams with a strong left side of the OL to protect the blind side of a right-handed QB. That would have to change with a lefty. Coaches have playbooks that are designed for right-handed QBs in terms of how they pivot to hand off the ball and how they move to roll the pocket. All of that had to be changed in a mirror image with a lefty.
Notwithstanding the challenges for coaches and GMs, it would appear that Tua Tagovailoa will be a prime candidate for a high draft choice in next year’s NFL Draft. He will be entering his junior year at Alabama this year and in 23 games to date, he has completed 68% of his passes and thrown 54 TDs against only 8 INTs. Those numbers would seem to trump any “mirror-image problems” for an NFL team needing a QB…
College football begins this weekend with a very abbreviated slate of games. Florida will visit Miami on Saturday night. Both teams feature strong defenses and the Total Line reflects that at 47 points. The other Division 1-A game finds Arizona on a long road trip to play Hawaii. The oddsmakers are not looking for a defensive struggle there; that Total Line is a hefty 74 points. [There are also 2 Division 1-AA games on Saturday.]
College football gets underway in a big way on the weekend of August 31. There are a half-dozen Division 1-A games on Thursday night, nine more on Friday night, a couple dozen games on Saturday and one game each on Sunday night and Monday night. T’is the season…
Finally, since I mentioned the Mariners’ fall-off in terms of win/loss record above, here is a comment from Dwight Perry that seems relevant:
“Mariners infielder Tim Beckham drew an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
“Considering he’s been hitting .211 since April 7, here’s hoping he kept the sales slip.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………