News came yesterday that Gayle Sayers had died. Lots of people know of Gayle Sayers because of the made-for-TV movie, Brian’s Song; as a football player, there is a lot more to know about Gayle Sayers. He is of course in the Hall of Fame; for those who are too young to have seen him play, it is a shame. His career was a short one because knee surgery in the 1960s is not what it is today. Nevertheless, on December 12, 1965 the Chicago Bears beat the San Francisco 49ers 61-20 and Gayle Sayers had a game for the ages:
- He caught an 80-yard TD pass.
- He ran for 4 TDs ranging from a 1-yard run to a 50-yard run.
- He returned a punt 85-yards for a TD.
- His stat line for the day was 9 rushes for 113 yards and 4 TDs plus 2 pass receptions for 89 yards and 1 TD plus 5 punt returns for 134 yards and 1 TD.
- He totaled 336 “all-purpose yards” and 6 TDs for the day. [Aside: They had not invented the category of “all-purpose yards” back then.]
Gayle Sayers was Barry Sanders before Barry Sanders was born – – only he was bigger than Barry Sanders. He was that exciting to watch…
Rest in peace, Gayle Sayers.
The truncated MLB regular season is coming to an end this weekend. Given the expanded MLB playoffs this year and the desire to have the World Series end by Halloween, there will be no tie-breaker games played this year. MLB has announced the tie-breaking rules for this year and if two teams are tied for a playoff slot – or seeding with the playoffs – here are the tiebreakers:
- Head-to-head record – – only applicable to two teams in the same division since there has been no inter-divisional play this year among the “hybrid MLB divisions”.
- Higher winning percentage against teams in their traditional divisions. If there is still a tie, then the team with the higher winning percentage in its last 20 games gets the nod; if that is a tie, then go to the last 21 games and so on…
If more than two teams tie for a playoff slot or seeding within the playoff structure, here are the tiebreakers:
- Combined head-to-hear record among the tied teams – – only applicable to multiple teams in the same hybrid division for 2020.
- Higher winning percentage against teams in their traditional divisions. If there is still a tie, the same procedure as above will apply starting with winning percentage over the final 20 games of the regular season.
In the AL, 6 of the 8 playoff teams have been decided already; their seeding in the playoff structure is not cast in stone yet, but we know that the A’s, Indians, Rays, Twins, White Sox and Yankees will be in the playoffs.
The NL is quite different. As of this morning, we know that Braves, Cubs Dodgers and Padres will participate in the playoffs. The other 4 playoff slots are mathematically up in the air because only two NL teams have been eliminated.
The St. Louis Cardinals will be a controversial playoff team should they get in. They will have played only 57 games while other teams will have played 60 games. This is due to the extensive coronavirus postponements involving the Cardinals early in the season, but with all the teams so closely bunched in the NL, the absence of those 3 games will likely cause consternation in the fanbase of teams that lost out to the Cardinals in the tie-breaking system. Whatever. This has been a goofy sports year since mid-March; just add that to the 2020 “goofy list”.
According to a report in the NY Post, MLB has also decreed that there will be no alcohol allowed in clubhouses as part of any post-season or playoff celebrations. MLB wants players to celebrate on the field (outdoors) and to put on masks as soon as they enter the clubhouse. The idea is to maintain COVID-19 protocols and attempt to avoid community spreading of the virus within any of the teams.
Since most of today has been about MLB, let me take the rest of the space here to list a couple of things that surprised me regarding the truncated regular season that will end this weekend:
- The performances exhibited by the Astros and the Nationals have been a huge negative surprise. The Astros have played .500 baseball for 2020 and I thought they were a lot better than that. Meanwhile the Nationals – the defending World Series champions – have posted a record of 23-33 as of this morning.
- The performances exhibited by the Padres and the White Sox have been a huge positive surprise. Only the Braves and Dodgers in the NL have scored more runs than the Padres this year. The White Sox would project to a normal season record of 98-64; the last time the White Sox won 90 games in a season – let alone 98 – was in 2005 – the year they won the World Series.
Finally, Dwight Perry had this comment in the Seattle Times recently:
“Mike Trout, with his 300th round-tripper, just passed Tim Salmon as the Angels’ all-time home-run leader.
“So how’d this team ever miss out on drafting Mike Carp and Kevin Bass?”
[Aside: The Angels also missed out on drafting Neal Finn because he was dead by the time the Angels came into existence as a franchise.]
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………