Coaching In Carolina

I mentioned last Friday that I wanted to spend a bit of time discussing the Carolina Panthers’ decision to fire Matt Rhule earlier last week.  Usually, I am not a fan of firing coaches in mid-season for two reasons:

  1. Most teams are bad because the roster is bad.  It is only in rare circumstances where the coach is also the roster constructor so firing the coach seems wrong-headed to me.
  2. Since the reason most coaches get fired is a bad team, the chances for short term improvement are slim at best.

Having said that, firing Matt Rhule was probably the right thing for the Panthers to do because from all outward appearances it seemed to me that he was a square peg in a round hole in Carolina.  Matt Rhule got the job in Carolina based on his college record of “turning around programs that were in bad shape.

  • He took Temple from a 2-10 record in 2013 to consecutive 10-4 records (with bowl appearances) in 2015 and 2016.
  • He took over the Baylor program in the wake of the Art Briles “situation” leading the team from a 1-11 record in 2017 to 11-3 in 2019 – – and an invitation to the Sugar Bowl.

When David Tepper bought the Carolina Panthers from Jerry Richardson in 2018, the team needed a “reboot”; Ron Rivera was fired in 2019 and Rhule took over the job.  He also got a 7-year contract reportedly worth more than $60M and when Tepper introduced him to the media, Tepper said that he and the team were embarking on a 5-year plan to mold themselves into perennial contenders. Sounds like a great gig; what could possibly go wrong?

First, success in college football coaching does not necessarily translate to success in NFL coaching.  I know that some great NFL coaches got their starts in the college ranks but there have been some rather dramatic flameouts too”

  • Chip Kelly:  Success at Oregon led to jobs with the Eagles and Niners that did not work out and now he is back at UCLA and doing quite well.
  • Urban Meyer: Won multiple national championships at the college level and did not last a full season in the NFL.
  • Nick Saban:   Great college coach had an NFL career best described as Meh!
  • Steve Spurrier:  Excellent college coach but his tenure with the Redskins was almost comical.
  • Bud Wilkinson:  His OU team still holds the NCAA record for longest winning streak (47 games) but his time as coach of the NFL Cardinals was anything but successful.

Moreover, there was no patience to carry out anything resembling a 5-year plan.

So, Matt Rhule – with an NFL coaching record of 11-27 – became expendable.  Now comes the start of what could well be another 5-year plan to turn the Panthers’ franchise around.  The reason Rhule is not likely to be the guy for continued time in Carolina is that he may not be the guy doing the scouting and the drafting, but he has his fingerprints all over the roster.  And the Panthers’ roster is deficient – – particularly at QB.  When Rhule came to Carolina it was obvious the team needed major help there; Cam Newton was a shell of his former self and had to be replaced.  Rhule brought in Teddy Bridgewater and one of his guys from Temple, PJ Walker.

  • [Aside:  Regardingthe need for  5-years to turn around a program, look at Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.  It took a while until he had a program in place that could stand toe-to-toe with Ohio St.]

That QB tandem was marginal at best, so the next move was to get Sam Darnold from the Jets.  I thought that was a great move at the time, but Darnold was a swing-and-a-miss with the Panthers and is currently on IR.  Now they brought in Baker Mayfield who is another retread.  Frankly, the tandem of Bridgewater and Walker look pretty good stacked up against Mayfield and Darnold.

After coaching his final game in Carolina – – a bad 37-15 loss to the Niners – – Rhule said this at his press conference:

“We’re not going to win unless we score more points. I’m not going to lie to you.”

He sees the problem; everyone sees the problem.  But his history says he does not know what to do to remedy that problem.  So, this is a parting of the ways that makes sense for everyone at the moment.  Rhule will certainly be a candidate for a bunch of college jobs that are open now or will be open come December.  And he has no real reason to jump back into the water immediately; that 7-year contract he got still has 4 years to run after this NFL season is over.

I said above that “everyone sees the problem” with the Panthers.  Perhaps, I was hasty in that assessment because there were more personnel moves by the Panthers in addition to the one that got all the headlines:

  • The Panthers also fired their defensive coordinator and their special teams’ coach.
  • The Panthers retained their offensive coordinator; that is the side of the ball where the major deficiencies exist.
  • So maybe the guy in the owner’s suite does not quite “see the problem”?

I know there are only 32 NFL head coaching jobs on the planet meaning that every one of them is valuable and sought after.   However, I think I would be careful about interviewing for the Panthers’ job unless it came with outrageously good financial compensation.  Matt Rhule was the “wrong-guy” for the job; I have to wonder who the “right guy” might be.

Finally, since today has been about a coaching job in the state of North Carolina, let me close with these words from Mack Brown – former and current head football coach at UNC:

“I want to go back to North Carolina to what I started to do in coaching; not what it got to be at Texas.”

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



Football Friday 10/14/22

The number seven has plenty of historical significance and symbolic meanings.  There are the 7 Liberal Arts; there were 7 visible planets that mystified astronomers prior to Galileo; there are 7 notes between octaves on the harmonic scale; and of course, there are 7 deadly sins.  Here in Curmudgeon Central, the importance of the number 7 is that there are 7 days in a week – – meaning that every seventh day in the Fall and Winter, it is time for a Football Friday.

And so, I shall begin with a review of last week’s Six-Pack and Money Line selections:

  • College = 2-0-0                      Season Total = 9-6-0
  • NFL = 2-1-1                            Season Total = 7-8-3
  • Money Line Parlays = 1-1            Season Total = 2-5
  • Profit/Loss = +$36                 Season Total = minus-$261


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats remained undefeated and won their 4th game of the season on the road against the Pirates of Whitworth University by a score of 35-17.  As a Division III team, the Wildcats only play a 9-game regular season; so, with only one more victory, Linfield will extend their streak of winning football seasons to 66 years.  This week the Wildcats are on the road again in Forest Grove, OR to take on the Boxers of Pacific University.  The Boxers are 3-1 so far in 2022 and like the Wildcats the Boxers are undefeated in Northwest conference games.  Go Wildcats!

By my count, there are 15 Division 1-A football teams that are still undefeated in 2022.  This weekend presents a strong slate of games including three games where both teams arrive at the kickoff undefeated for the season:

  1. Alabama/Tennessee
  2. Michigan/Penn St.
  3. Oklahoma St./TCU

That means at the very most, there will be 12 undefeated teams going into action next week.  And in addition to those interesting contests, there are three other games where both teams are ranked in the Top 25 in the country:

  1. Mississippi St./Kentucky
  2. NC St./Syracuse
  3. USC/Utah

The schedule maker has been kind to us this weekend.  We should thank the schedule maker.  Glory be to the schedule maker.

For the sake of completeness, I need to point out that of the 131 schools playing Divisin1-A football, there is only 1 team in the nation that is winless to date.  That ignominy belongs to:

  • The University of Colorado Buffaloes

Going into last week, Colorado St. was also winless; they got off the schneid last week against Nevada (see below) and looking at that result got me thinking about football programs in various states.  So here is a thought to ponder – – which state has the worst “tandem of flagship football teams”.  Here are six contenders from my perspective:

  1. Arizona/Arizona St.
  2. BC/UMass
  3. Colorado/Colorado St.
  4. Nevada/UNLV
  5. New Mexico/New Mexico St.
  6. Virginia/Virginia Tech

From my standpoint, it would be a tossup between Massachusetts and New Mexico…

Let me go over some game results from last week involving SEC teams:

Mississippi St. 40  Arkansas 17:  This was a big day for the Bulldog’s offense gaining 568 yards in the game.  As you would expect from a Mike Leach team, Mississippi St. gained 398 yards passing.  That is the third conference loss for Arkansas effectively eliminating them from the conference race.

Florida 24  Missouri 17:  Mizzou won the stat sheet:

  • Total Offense:  Missouri 370 yards  Florida 297 yards
  • Yards Passing:  Missouri 220 yards  Florida 66 yards
  • First Downs:  Missouri 21  Florida 12

A Pick-Six by the Gators was an important turning point in the game.  Florida had lost 6 consecutive conference games going back to last season; notwithstanding this win, Florida has two SEC losses so far this year and is probably out of contention for the conference title.

Alabama 24  Texas A&M 20:  Bryce Young did not play; Jalen Milroe took his place and Alabama relied on its running game and defense to come out ahead here.  Here is Milroe’s stat line:

  • 12 of 19 for 111 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT.

Meanwhile the Tide ran the ball 51 times amassing 288 yards on the ground.  The Aggies had the ball at Alabama’s 2- yardline with 3 seconds to play but could not produce a winning TD.  That makes 2 conference losses for Texas A&M.

Tennessee 40  LSU 13:  The Vols were favored in the game but not by 27 points.  Defense is a strength for LSU, but it was not on display last weekend; Tennessee ran up 499 yards of offense for the game.  Tennessee and Georgia are the two undefeated teams left in the SEC East.

Georgia 42  Auburn 10:  Georgia just about doubled up Auburn in terms of offense generated; the Bulldogs had 500 yards in the game and held Auburn to 258 yards.  The score was 35-3 in the 4th quarter when Auburn scored a meaningless TD which will allow them to say they reached Georgia’s end zone in the game.

Ole Miss 52  Vandy 28:  Vandy led at the half by a score of 20-17.  Here are the results of the 7 Vandy possessions in the second half:

  • 5 plays and a PUNT
  • 3 plays and a LOST FUMBLE
  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 6 plays and a PUNT
  • 16 plays and a TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 6 plays and a TOUCHDOWN
  • 1 play and END OF GAME

Meanwhile, Ole Miss was scoring 35 points…

South Carolina 24  Kentucky 14:  That is the second conference loss for Kentucky who had been ranked #13 in the country coming to this game.  Kentucky played without its injured starting QB, Will Levis and started freshman Kayia Sheron in his place.  Sheron had a decent day producing this stat line:

  • 15 of 27 for 178 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT

Both teams now have 2 conference losses in the SEC East race.

Here are some games in the ACC from last weekend.

Pitt 45   Va Tech 29:  Pitt led 17-16 at the half and then pulled away in the second half.

Georgia Tech 23  Duke 20 (OT):  That makes it two wins in a row for Tech after firing the head coach there.  Both teams now have 1 conference loss in the ACC Coastal Division race.

UNC 27  Miami 24:  The Tar Heels are the only undefeated team in conference play left in the ACC Coastal Division.  Miami is one of 4 teams in that division with only 1 conference loss, but this was the third consecutive loss for the ‘Canes.

Clemson 31  BC 3:  The game was much closer on the stat sheet than on the scoreboard.  Both teams had a passing offense of 220 yards.  The biggest difference was in the running game where Clemson won that battle 244 yards to 34 yards.  But that sort of differential does not normally yield a 4 TD margin of victory.

NC St. 19  Florida St. 17:  The Seminoles led 17-3 at halftime but never scored again and only gained 93 yards on offense in the entire second half.

Moving on to Big-10 action from last week.

Michigan 31  Indiana 10:  The Wolverines’ defense dominated the game allowing only 222 yards to the Hoosiers and holding Indiana’s ground game to 19 yards on 18 rushes and 7 QB sacks.  The game was tied 10-10 at the half but Michigan pulled away in the second half.

Wisconsin 42  Northwestern 7:  The interim coach at Wisconsin comes out of the gate flying; If the team continues to play like this, could he be the “next guy” in Madison, WI?

Ohio St. 49  Michigan St. 20:  The stat sheet for this game is even more lopsided than the score.

  • Total Offense:  Ohio St. = 614 yards  Michigan St. = 202 yards
  • Rushing Offense:  Ohio St. = 237 yards  Michigan St. = 7 yards

CJ Stroud threw 6 TD passes in this rout.

Illinois 9  Iowa 6:  There were 538 yards total offense in this game.  That is the total for both teams.  If you are a connoisseur of the punting game, this was a delight for you.  The two teams combined to punt the ball 14 times in the game.

Purdue 31  Maryland 29:    The game was also dead even on the stat sheet including the fact that neither team ran the ball well.  Maryland gained 72 yards on the ground on 25 carries while Purdue only managed 13 yards on 23 carries.

Nebraska 14  Rutgers 13:  Rutgers home losing streak in 21 straight conference games continues with a narrow loss here.  It was a tale of two halves.  Rutgers led 13-0 at the half; then Nebraska shut out Rutgers for the second half.  Three turnovers and nine penalties by the Scarlet Knights did them in.

Next up will be the Big-12.

TCU 38  Kansas 31:  That is the first loss of the year for Kansas, and it leaves TCU as one of three teams in the Big-12 without a conference loss.  Both teams put on an offensive show:

  • Total Offense:  Kansas = 540 yards  TCU = 452 yards
  • Average yards per rush:  Kansas = 5.0  TCU = 4.6
  • Average yards per pass attempt:  Kansas = 9.9  TCU = 8.8

Texas 49  Oklahoma 0:  When Lincoln Riley pulled up stakes in Norman, OK and headed to So. Cal., there was a lot of bravado in Sooner-land that the program would go on without him.  Less than a month ago, the Sooners were ranked #6 in the country.  Well, things had already been looking “shaky” over the previous 2 weeks, but this result is simply shocking.  Oklahoma is now 3-3 for the season but all 3 losses are conference losses.  Normally, Oklahoma is at or near the top of the Big-12 standings but not this year…

  • Total Offense:  Texas = 585 yards  OU = 195 yards
  • Passing Offense:  Texas = 289 yards  OU = 39 yards

Oklahoma St. 41  Texas Tech 31:  The Cowboys remain undefeated in Big-12 games while Tech sees its conference record fall to 1-2.

K-State 10  Iowa St. 9:  K-State sits atop the Big 12 as of today with a 3-0 conference record; Iowa St. in in the cellar at 0-3 in Big-12 games.  I ran across this disturbing stat for Iowa St:

  • The Cyclones have scored 1 TD in their last 20 possessions

K-State has this week off to prep for a big game against TCU next week.

And in the PAC-12 …

UCLA 42  Utah 32:  The Bruins are 6-0 for the season and have scored 40 points or more in 5 of those 6 games.  The score last weekend is a bit of a surprising result because Utah’s defense is normally very stingy.

USC 30  Washington St. 14:  Like cross-town rival, UCLA, the Trojans are off to a 6-0 start in 2022.  USC led only 17-14 at the half but shut out the Cougars in the second half to win handily.

Arizona St. 45  Washington 38:  It looks as if the pre-season hype about “Washington being back” was not much more than hype because this result would indicate that Washington is still mired in mediocrity.  The Sun Devils entered the game with a 1-4 record and the only time they ever scored more than 25 points in a game was against a Division 1-AA opponent.  Last week, they dropped 45 on the Huskies…

Oregon 49  Arizona 22:  The Ducks scored early and often running up 580 yards on offense for the game including 306 yards on the ground.  Arizona converted on 10 of 17 third-down situations; normally, that sort of performance leads to a win but not nearly the case here.

And in some other random games of interest from last week …

Navy 53  Tulsa 21:  Navy has had trouble scoring so far this year.  They entered the game averaging only 13.2 points per game – – and then 53 points happened last weekend.  As is often the case, Navy dominated the ground game stats gaining 455 yards rushing to only 25 yards for Tulsa.

James Madison 42  Arkansas St. 20:  James Madison advances to 5-0 in its first season playing Division 1-A competition.  I will say it again here; this is a good football team.

UConn 33 Florida International 12:    FIU now has a 2-3 record for the season.  The two wins have come against a Division 1-AA opponent and against New Mexico St.  In the three losses, the combined score is 135-24.  This week, Florida International is a 34-point home underdog against Texas-San Antonio.

Notre Dame 28  BYU 20:  That makes three wins in a row for the Irish with some very winnable games coming up on the schedule against Stanford and UNLV before taking on Syracuse and Clemson.  BYU’s record is now 4-2 with Arkansas on tap this weekend.

Wake Forest 45  Army 10:  This game was never close; the score was 38-0 at the start of the 4th quarter.  The stat sheet was much closer than the score.

  • Total Offense:  Wake Forest = 488 yards  Army = 407 yards.

Colorado St. 17  Nevada 14:  That is the first win of the year for Colorado St. and Nevada’s record falls to 2-4.

Let me take a moment now to update you on the three teams in contention this week for the Brothel Defense Award:

  • Bowling Green gives up 41.0 points per game
  • Colorado gives up 43.2 points per game
  • UNC-Charlotte gives up 46.3 points per game


College Football Games of Interest:


Alabama – 7 at Tennessee (65):  Is Bryce Young going to play?  If he can play, will he be at or near 100%?  If he cannot play, this is a tempting UNDER wager, but we are not likely to know about Young until just before kickoff.  So, I’ll pass on a selection here but will note that Alabama has beaten Tennessee in each of their last 15 meetings.  If Tennessee has the opportunity, they will not take their foot off the gas.  If Bryce Young is ready to go in this game at or near full strength, this is the College Game of the Week.

Miami – 7 at Va Tech (46):  Miami has lost three in a row and are still a full touchdown road favorite here.  That tells you a lot about how the oddsmakers regard the Hokies.

Penn St. at Michigan – 7 (51):  Both teams are 5-0; neither team has faced a top-shelf opponent to date.  Both defenses have been strong to date; Michigan gives up 11.3 points per game and Penn St. gives up 14.8 points per game.  Both offenses use the running game very effectively and both teams present strong rush defenses:

  • Penn St. gives up 79.8 yards per game on the ground (5th in the country)
  • Michigan gives up 81.7 yards per game on the ground (7th in the country)

If Alabama/Tennessee is not the College Game of the Week, then this one is.

Mississippi St. – 4 at Kentucky (49):  This game seems to be a showdown between a good Kentucky defense and a good Mississippi St. offense.  It should be fun to watch if it is on in your part of the country.

UNC – 7 at Duke (67):  The Tar Heels need this game to maintain their supremacy in the ACC Coastal Division; Duke is coning off an OT loss to Georgia Tech.  Add those elements of relevance to the rivalry nature of this game and it is one to keep an eye on.

LSU at Florida – 3 (50):  LSU gave up 2 scores last week on bad special teams plays.  Presumably, lightening will not strike again on that front.  LSU’s defense is a good one (gives up an average of 328 yards per game) and Florida’s offense is just OK.  I like the Tigers plus the points on the road here; put it in the Six-Pack.

NC St. – 4 at Syracuse (41):  This is a very important game for the ACC.  State has one conference loss – – to Clemson so they trail the Tigers by a game-and-a-half – – and Syracuse is undefeated.

Clemson – 3 at Florida St. (51):  This spread opened at 5.5 points and has been sliding slowly as the week went on.  If you like the Seminoles, you can still find the line at 3.5 points and that half-point might be important.  I don’t think so; I think Clemson is for real again this season and I think Florida St. may be a year or so away from being for real.  I’ll take the Tigers and lay the points on the road here; put it in the Six-Pack.

Minnesota – 6.5 at Illinois (39):  Both teams have one conference loss in the Big-10 West race; this game means a lot to both teams.  The spread opened with Minnesota as a 3.5-point favorite, but that number has been swelling all week long.

Arkansas – 1 at BYU (66):  The spread on Monday had BYU as a 2-point favorite but that has changed significantly as the public weighed in on the line.  If you like Arkansas, shop the line because there are sportsbooks where the game is listed as “pick’em”.

New Mexico – 6.5 at New Mexico St. (38):  See my question above about which state has the worst tandem of “flagship football teams” …

Cal – 15 at Colorado (48):  Cal is 3-2 this season but those three victories have not been against fearsome opponents.  And yet, they are 15-point road favorites here…

USC at Utah – 3.5 (64.5):  The Total Line here opened at 59 points.  What you see here is a major line movement indeed.  This game has all sorts of implications for the PAC-12 standings.

Arizona at Washington – 14.5 (73):  I expect both teams to march the ball up and down the field and for there to be a basketful of points.  And I do not think either team is very good.

Auburn at Ole Miss – 15 (55):  This is another road game for Auburn and that is a good thing because they do not want to be blown away at home in front of boosters who seem to think that Auburn should be contending for the CFP every season – – and they could well be blown away here.

Kansas at Oklahoma – 9 (62):  I am so tempted to take Kansas here, but I am spooked by reports that the Jayhawks’ starting QB will not play.  Whether or not he plays, do not expect much out of the Sooners’ defense; it has been miserable this year:

  • OU ranks 117th in the country in Total Defense giving up 450.0 yards per game
  • OU ranks 88th in the country in Scoring Defense giving up 29.2 pint per game
  • OU ranks 122nd in the country in Rushing Defense giving up 214.5 yards per game

Looking at those defensive stats, this is not OU, this is Oy !!

Oklahoma St. at TCU – 4 (68.5):  Both teams are undefeated in Big-12 Conference games; the winner will share the conference lead with K-State at 3-0 in the conference standings come Sunday morning.

Wisconsin – 7 at Michigan St. (49):  Can the Badgers continue to play well for their new interim coach as they did last week?  Is Michigan St. really as bad as it has looked to date in 2022?

Stanford at Notre Dame – 17 (54):  Stanford has had a couple of “down years” in a row and this one looks like a continuation of that string.

James Madison – 11 at Georgia Southern (67):  The Total Line opened at 62.5 points and then jumped to this level pretty quickly.  I have said here for several weeks that James Madison is a good football team; as of today, they rank #1 in the nation in rushing defense yielding a mere 42.0 yards per game and they rank #3 in the nation in Total Defense giving up only 228.4 yards per game.


NFL Commentary:


After last week’s games, Lions’ coach Dan Campbell said that the Lions’ defense “lacked confidence”.  After 5 games – – and a 1-4 record – – the Lions’ defense can look at the standings and see that they are giving up 34 points per game.  The defense may or may not “lack confidence” but the place-kick defense unit should be confident that they will be on the field more than a couple times every Sunday.  From what I have seen, the Lions’ defense plays hard but it only has 2 or 3 “high-talent-level” players.  I will give it to Dan Campbell on this point:

  • The Lions may be outmanned in terms of talent, and they have not come out on top very often during Campbell’s tenure on the Lions’ sideline, but that team does not quit; it plays hard for 60 minutes.

The Carolina Panthers and Matt Ruhle parted company last Monday.  I will probably have more to say about that move next week when I have more time/space but suffice it to say here that Ruhle’s 11-27 record in a little over 3 seasons in Carolina made such a move easy for owner David Tepper.  The question in my mind now is simple:

  • Do the Panthers trade away whatever valuable assets they have to amass draft capital and “start over” – – or do they try to build on what they have there?

I do not make a habit of it, but occasionally, I do like to ponder the NFL standings particularly the point differential stats.  This week, there was one stat that jumped out and bit me on the nose:

  • The Raiders are 1-4 for the season; their point differential is only minus-5

Compare that point differential to the other 1-4 teams in the NFL as of the end of last week’s games:

  • Commanders = minus-28
  • Lions = minus-30
  • Steelers = minus-51
  • Panthers = minus-29

Some other point differential observations this week:

  • The Bills have – by far – the biggest positive point differential at 91 points.  Trailing that number significantly are the Niners and Eagles with a +47-point differential.
  • The reigning Super Bowl champs – the Rams – have a point differential of minus-36 to go with their 2-3 record so far in 2022.
  • Only one team in the AFC South – the Jags – have a positive point differential for the season.  The Jags are +31 points, but their 2-3 record has them in third place in the division race.

I want to say something about the last two Thursday Night Football Games – – Colts/Broncos a week ago and Commanders/Bears last night.   Those games were football-porn; there was nothing artistic or socially redeeming about either one.  The good folks at Amazon are paying about $1B to stream these games over Amazon Prime Video; they should put in a call to Roger Goodell and ask for at least a one-game refund.

Al Michaels channeled his inner Howard Cosell and “told it like it is” a week ago in the Colts/Broncos game.  In the second half of a game that would go to OT and not see a TD scored, he said candidly at one point:

  • This is the kind of game you might see as a fifth regional game on CBS on Sunday.  (paraphrase)

Last night Michaels and his sidekick, Kirk Herbstreit, started joking about needing to see a TD this week.  When the teams went to the locker rooms at halftime with the score 3-0, the joking stopped because the play on the field threatened to go on forever without any damage done to either end zone’s grass.  When the Bears finally found the end zone to take a 7-3 lead in the second half, Michaels said he almost forgot how to call one.

I said to my long-suffering wife before the game that it would be a “sh*t-storm game” where the team that made the last mistake would lose.  Actually, both teams tried to lose it with blown plays in the final five minutes, but the Bears played the way you would expect the Lions to play in a game like this.

  • Twice in the first three quarters, the Bears had the ball 1st and goal at about the Commanders’ 5 yardline.  The Bears got zero points from those two possessions.
  • In the final minute of the game, the Bears had the ball first down at the Commanders’ 5-yardline yet again.  Washington had them just where they wanted them.  You guessed it; the Bears came up dry on four shots from the 5-yardline trailing by 5 points.
  • This was – by far – the worst NFL game I have seen this season …

Here is a rundown of NFL games from last week…

Giants 27  Packers 22:  The Packers led 20-13 at the start of the 4th quarter but the Giants took the lead when Saquon Barkley scored a go-ahead TD.  The Packers had a shot to win with the ball at the Giants’ 6-yardline but Aaron Rodgers 4th down pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage to preserve the Giants’ victory.  The Giants’ defense held Rodgers to only 75 yards passing in the second half of the game.  The win advances the Giants record to 4-1 for the season.

Bucs 21  Falcons 15:  #1 son was watching this game in Dublin and texted me the following note early in the 4th quarter:

“The Falcons are talent deficient but want it more than most teams.”

I agree – – and that is a very positive commentary on the Falcons’ coaching staff.  Meanwhile, Tom Brady said in an interview about 10 days ago that he saw a lot of bad football being played in the NFL.  I agree with that too – – and I would point out that some of that “bad play” comes from Brady’s Buccaneers.

Vikes 29  Bears 22:  This game was not nearly this close on the stat sheet; the Vikes gained 429 yards on offense while the Bears only managed 271 yards.  The Vikes also won time of possession handily with 36:44 in the game, and the Vikes recorded 29 first downs to only 14 for the Bears.  But the Bears would not give up; after trailing 21-3 in the game, the Bears rallied to take the lead at 22-21 before a final winning drive by the Vikes followed by a Vikes’ defender stripping the ball from a Bears receiver in the final minute ended the festivities.

Pats 29  Lions 0:  This game looks relatively even on the stat sheet and nothing at all like a game decided by 4 TDs.  A scoop-and-score by the Pats defense and a strong running game allowed rookie QB, Bailey Zappe, to win his first NFL starting assignment.  Here are the results of the first four possessions by the Lions in the game:

  • Turnover on Downs
  • Punt
  • INT
  • Scoop-and score fumble recovery for a Pats’ TD.

The Lions tried to convert 6 fourth-down situations and failed on all 6.  Ouch!

Texans 13  Jags 6:  The Jags won the stat sheet handily gaining 422 yards on offense to only 248 for the Texans.  Two turnovers by the Jags stopped potential scoring drives and the Texans’ defense foiled 3 fourth-down tries by the Jags in the game.  This is the Texans first win of the season meaning there are no more winless teams in the NFL.  The Texans have beaten the Jags in their last 5 meetings.

Chargers 30  Browns 28:  The Browns led this one early 14-0 but could not keep the Chargers’ offense in check.  The Browns had a chance to win the game on a field goal with about 10 seconds to go in the game – – but it was not meant to be.  Nick Chubb had a huge game in defeat for the Browns; he ran the ball 17 times for 134 yards and 2 TDs in the game.

Jets 40  Dolphins 17:  Teddy Bridgewater started the game but like the guy he was subbing for, Tua Tagovailoa, Bridgewater also suffered a head blow that sent him to the concussion protocol.  That put Skylar Thompson at QB for the Dolphins and that did not work.  He threw 1 INT and also lost a strip-sack fumble.

Bills 38  Steelers 3:  This game was about as lopsided as the score would indicate.  Josh Allen had more than 300 yards passing in the first half of the game and the Bills made it look easy.  Kenny Pickett got his first start in the NFL and played decently – – but he was playing from behind for the entirety of the game on the road against a really good team.  Pickett was not responsible for this blow out; this one belongs on the Steelers’ defense.

Saints 39  Seahawks 32:  Two weeks ago, the Seahawks gave up 45 points; last week they gave up 39.  That is not a formula for success in the NFL.  Taysom Hill was amazing in this game rushing for 112 yards and 3 TDs and also throwing a TD pass in the game.  Alvin Kamara also returned to action for the Saints in the game and contributed almost 200 yards from scrimmage to the Saints’ cause.

Titans 21  Commanders 17:  The Commanders produced 385 yards on offense and held the Titans to only 241 yards of offense.  Normally, that sort of differential would point to a win for the Commanders.  With less than 10 seconds left in the game, the Titans intercepted a Carson Wentz pass in the end zone to preserve their lead and assure the win.  The Commanders also came up very small on third-down conversions going 1 for 11 in that category.  The Commanders have had trouble protecting Wentz this year but this week it was the Commanders who showed up with a pass rush sacking Ryan Tannehill 5 times in the game.

Niners 37  Panthers 15:  The Niners offense was efficient if not spectacular and the defense contributed a Pick-Six to the scoreboard to give the team a solid victory that puts the Niners alone in first place in the NFC West.  Jeff Wilson gained 120 yards rushing in the game.  The game was played in Carolina but crowd shots during the game showed an awful lot of “red Niners’ paraphernalia” in the stands.

Eagles 20 Cards 17:  Speaking of visiting teams having lots of fan support, there was a lot of Eagle-Green in the stands in Arizona for this game.  I said last week that the Eagles do not play well in Arizona, and they did not play well in this game.  The Cards had a good chance to send the game to OT but a missed 42-yard field goal with less than 30 seconds left in the game allowing the Eagles to hold on and advance their record to 5-0 for the season.  Teams often talk about “getting a fast start”; the Cards have done just the opposite this year:

  • In 5 games in 2022, the Cards have not scored a single point in the first quarter of any game.

Recall the brouhaha about the clause originally inserted into Kyler Murray’s new contract requiring him to do a few hours a week of study at home?  Well consider Murray’s “awareness” or “recognition” in a crucial time of this game:

  • The Cards were down a field goal and Murray orchestrated a 50-yard, 10-play drive that got the offense across the 50-yardline. The Cards had no timeouts, and the clock was running at just under a minute in the fourth quarter; on second-and-10, Murray evaded the pass rush and ran up the middle, but he slid about 2 yards short of the first down marker.  That meant the Cards had to spike the ball to stop the clock on third down and short.  ON 4th down and 2 with only about 25 seconds left in the game, the Cards trotted out their kicker – – someone they picked up off the waiver wire earlier in the week.  The field goal try was VERY wide right and the Eagles won the game.

Murray flunked clock management and situational awareness here – – and it came back to bite him and the Cards in a sensitive body area…

Cowboys 22 Rams 10:  The Rams had 85 more yards of offense in this game but did not turn many of those yards into points.  A strip-sack returned for a TD by the Cowboys in the first quarter made the Rams play catch-up.  Then the Cowboys’ defense pitched a shutout in the second half.  Three turnovers by the Rams made their task far more difficult than it needed to be.  The Rams have not looked good at all this year.  Maybe you can make excuses for them by observing that they have gone up against three of the best defenses in the league (Bills, Cowboys and Niners).  But the Rams’ offense just does not look as if it is firing on all cylinders; Cooper Kupp is great but other than him, the offense this year has been mediocre.  And the Rams’ OL has not been anything like the unit it was just last season.

Ravens 19  Bengals 17:  Justin Tucker kicked 4 field goals in this game – – one from 58 yards and another from 43 yards as time expired to provide the impetus for the Ravens’ victory.

Chiefs 30  Raiders 29:  The Raiders ran out to a 17-0 lead and looked as if they were going to win in a walk, but the Chiefs mounted a comeback – particularly in the second half – and hung on to win.  The game was exciting from start to finish but one’s viewing pleasure was diminished significantly by some seriously questionable officiating.  After the roughing the passer call on Chris Jones in the third quarter, Raider fans are forever forbidden to moan about “The Tuck Rule’ ever again.


NFL Games This Week:


There are no “overseas games” this week, but this week begins the NFL Bye Weeks.  Four teams have the week off to prepare for a return to action nest week:

  1. Lions:  Maybe the coaching staff and help the Lions’ defense find its confidence this week?  Maybe the coaches can point out that the defense will not give up 34 points this week unless it does so playing Madden 2022…
  2. Raiders:  The four Raiders’ losses have been by margins of 5 points, 6 points, 2 points and 1 point.  Maybe they need to focus on how to close-out games?
  3. Texans:  They have been competitive even though their record stands at 1-3-1.  Their defense has been solid giving up only 19.8 points per game; now if they can find a way to goose the offense a bit…
  4. Titans:  They lead the AFC South Division with a 3-2 record – – but with a minus-22 point differential.


Bucs – 8.5 at Steelers (45):  Based on last week’s debacle against the Bills, it is hard to pick the Steelers here.  Their defense looked average at best; and even if I believe that Kenny Pickett is the next coming of Tom Brady, he ain’t Tom Brady yet.  Compound all that with the fact that the Steelers offense is about as imaginative as the old See Dick and Jane reading books we used in grade school.  But the Bucs are no joy either; they score 20 points per game and could not put the Falcons away last week.  We are at our weekend house in central PA, so I will certainly get this game as the regional choice in the early slot on Sunday.  Hi ho!

Bengals – 1 at Saints (45):  Saints defense gives up over 25 points per game; Bengals defense gives up about 18 points per game.  I suspect that is the difference here.  I’ll take the Bengals on the road to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Jags at Colts – 2 (41):  This is an early season rematch; the Jags dominated the first time these teams played and won 24-0.  Then last week, the Jags produced 422 yards on offense and scored a grand total of 6 points.  The Colts have severely underperformed so far this year.  No way I want to make a selection here…

Pats at Browns – 2.5 (43.5):  The Browns have played well on offense so far this year with Jacoby Brisset at QB; The Browns defense, however, has been another story.  Both teams like to run the ball; the Browns average 190 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry; the Pats ran for 176 yards last week on the Lions and average 4.6 yards per attempt for the season.  I am tempted to take the UNDER here but will resist that temptation.

Jets at Packers – 7 (45):  The Packers’ record is 3-2; they have scored 97 points and given up 96 points; the Packers’ record is plain vanilla and that is how they have looked on the field so far this year.  If the Packers are going to put on a surge, this would be the time to do it.  The Jets are also 3-2 on the season; they have scored 116 points and given up 118 points; the Jets’ record is plain vanilla and that is a lot better than folks has predicted about this team back in August.  The Packers are at home coming off a loss – – but remember that loss was in London so there is jet lag to consider.  I’ll pass on this game, thank you.

Ravens – 5.5 at Giants (45.5):  There all sorts of angles to this game.  The Giants are playing well above expectations; the Ravens have disappointed losing two games in the final seconds.  The Giants come home from London; the Ravens’ road trip last week was not much more than a hop-step-and-a-jump.  The Giants’’ defensive coordinator, Wink Martindale, was the Ravens’ DC for the last 5 years; if anyone “knows” Lamar Jackson’s strengths and weaknesses, it would be Wink.

Vikes – 3 at Dolphins (45.5):  Someone needs to explain this line to me.  The Dolphins will start their third-string QB, Skyler Thompson, and might have Teddy Bridgewater available as a backup if Bridgewater clears the concussion protocol by game time.  The Jets dominated that version of the Dolphins just last week so that spread looks awfully small.  Is this a sucker bet?  I guess I’ll find out because I’ll take the Vikes on the road to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Niners – 5.5 at Falcons (44):  The Total Line here opened at 41 points, and I have no idea why it has moved so much – – but it has.  I was surprised to read earlier this week that the Falcons are the only team to be 5-0 against the spread in 2022.  I do like the way they play hard to the end of games, but this is not a team I can generate any enthusiasm toward.  The Niners were in Charlotte last weekend and stayed on the East Coast for the week, so they do not have two transcontinental games in a row.

Panthers at Rams – 10 (41):  I said above that the Rams do not look like the team that won the Super Bowl last year.  Consider:

  • Rams are last in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 61
  • Rams average 3.2 yards per carry which is 31st in the league.
  • Rams have given up 21 sacks so far.  Only the Bears and Commanders – who have an extra game on the stat sheet thanks to last night’s hot mess of a game – have given up more.

And then you have the Panthers who have been playing as if they should be called the Pantloads.  I hate double-digit spreads in NFL games, and I hate to make selections when neither team is reliable.

Cards – 3 at Seahawks (50.5):  Last night’s Commanders Bears Game was unquestionably the worst game on the card for the weekend but of the games still left to play, let me anoint this one as the Dog-Breath Game To Be Played On The Weekend.  I mentioned above how the Cards mismanaged the final two minutes of last week’s game; is that a Kyler Murray problem or is the team simply a disjointed mess?  I do know that the Seahawks’ defense is very “pliable” so if there is a time and place for the Cards to “put it all together”, this would be that game.  The Seahawks’ pass defense ranks 25th in the league giving up 260 yards per game on average.  If pressed, I would take the Cards here – – but I do not make selections in Dog-Breath Games.

Bills – 2.5 at Chiefs (54):  Clearly, this is the Game of the Week.  In fact, it may be the Regular Season Game of the Year.  These are two of the three most exciting QBs in the league right now – – Justin Herbert would be the third member of that troika – – and this is a replay of a playoff game last year that went down to the final seconds.  Here is an arcane stat I ran across:

  • Patrick Mahomes has been “the underdog” 8 times in his career.
  • The Chiefs are 7-0-1 against the spread in those 8 games.

I think the Bills come to the game with plenty of momentum and a clear “revenge factor”.  It will be a great game to watch.  And then…

(Sun Nite) Cowboys at Eagles – 6.5 (43):  After you finish watching the Bills/Chiefs game, you should have about an hour to decompress, get a bite to eat – and perhaps and adult beverage – to get ready for another game that ought to be fun to watch.  The Eagles are unbeaten so far in 2022; the Cowboys’ defense has yet to allow an opponent to score 20 points in any game.  I think this line is fat.  I think the game will be low scoring and I like the Cowboys plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

(Mon Nite) Broncos at Chargers – 4.5 (45.5):  The Broncos are on national TV again?  I think the networks and the NFL schedulers got caught up in “Russell Wilson Mania” last Spring.  Wilson was traded to the Broncos in March and the schedule came out in May; that left plenty of time for all the suits to figure out ways to put the Broncos front and center on the TV menu for the year; after all, this was supposed to be the Broncos’ ticket to the Super Bowl.  Channeling Lee Corso for a moment:

Not so fast, my friend!

The Broncos rank 31st in the NFL in points scored; they average all of 15 points per game.  Russell Wilson was supposed to “cure that problem”.  I like the Chargers at home to win and cover; put that in the Six-Pack.

Let me review the Six-Pack and then present 3 Money Line Parlays for your entertainment:

  1. LSU + 3 against Florida
  2. Clemson – 3 over Florida St.
  3. Bengals – 1 over Saints
  4. Vikes – 3 over Dolphins
  5. Cowboys + 6.5 against Eagles
  6. Chargers – 4.5 over Broncos.

            For Money Line Parlays this week:

  • Clemson @ – 180
  • James Madison @ – 460
  • Notre Dame @ – 650              $100 wager wins $119

And …

  • Niners @ – 220
  • Chargers @ – 220
  • Vikes @ – 165                         $100 wager wins $240

And …

  • Jets @ +270
  • Bucs @ – 420                         $100 wager wins $358

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times related to Notre Dame football – – sort of:

“Archaeologists working under the floor on Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral discovered several tombs that likely date to the 14th century.

“No word on whether they woke up any echoes.”

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



Baseball And Football Today …

The MLB playoffs are underway; in the NLDS, both series are tied 1-1 and the teams have an off day for travel.  I think the result of Game 1 of the Astros/Mariners series in the ALDS must have been one of the bigger gut-punches a team could take.  Consider:

  • The Astros were at home, and they started Justin Verlander in the game.  Verlander will surely get a lot of votes for AL Cy Young Award winner this year and is the betting favorite to win that award.
  • The Mariners knocked Verlander out of the game after 4 innings and score 6 runs on him (all earned runs) amassing 10 hits.
  • The Mariners led the game 7-3 going into the bottom of the eighth inning.

And then the Astros rallied to win the game 8-7 on a walk-off three-run HR in the bottom of the ninth inning.  From the emotional high of taking a big lead off a potential Cy Young Award winner and carrying it deep into the game to walking off the field as a losing team must have been a low point in the season for the Mariners.  Game 2 of this series will happen this afternoon.

This series will return to Seattle with Game 3 scheduled for Saturday.  There is an interesting potential “issue” in Seattle should there be a need for a Game 4 come Sunday:

  • The Seahawks also have a home game scheduled on Sunday at Lumen Field.
  • The Mariners game would be at T-Mobile Park.
  • Those two facilities are next door to each other, and they share parking facilities.
  • The starting time for the games would coincide.

So, here is the attempted resolution of this situation:

  • Mariners/Astros game will start at noon Pacific Time not 1:00 PM
  • Seahawks/Cards game will start at 5:30 PM Pacific Time not 4:00 PM

Sounds like there is a plan in place for this “situation” but my guess is that there will be a traffic embolism in Seattle on Sunday in the late afternoon/early evening.

One other baseball note here …  Bob Costas did the Yankees/Guardians game earlier this week.  I like Bob Costas a lot; it was a pleasure to hear him again.

Moving on …  I continue to be amused by the reaction of sports media folks when they get what they often ask for.  Everyone knows what “coach-speak” is; often, folks who cover a specific team or league decry “coach-speak” and wish for candor.  However, when they get candor, there is often a rush to criticize the coach for being – – so candid.

Earlier this week, Washington Commanders’ coach, Ron Rivera, was asked a pointed question by a reporter from the Washington Times.  Let me paraphrase the question here:

  • Why are the other three teams in the NFC East seemingly much further along in their rebuilding process than the Commanders?

That is not a softball question by any means, but it is also a perfectly proper question given the status of the 2022 season so far.  And, among the set of questions that had the ability to trigger three paragraphs of “coach-speak”, that would be one of them.  Ron Rivera chose to avoid “coach-speak” and lean into candor with a one-word answer:

  • “Quarterback.”

The reaction was not instantaneous in scientific terms, but it did not take long for people to begin to analyze negatively that response because it “threw Carson Wentz under the bus”.  The problem here is that the media folks seem to want it every which way.  They want direct and truthful answers and at the same time they also want a measure of diplomacy and tact in the same answers.

Living in the DC area, I must follow the comings and goings of the Commanders more closely than other NFL teams simply because I am inundated with coverage for that one team.  So, here would have been my candid answer to that paraphrased question:

  • We are not nearly as efficient on offense as those other teams; our offensive line has not played well at all and we have not gotten nearly the same level of play from our quarterback as those other teams have gotten from that position.
  • At the same time, our defense has been disappointing.  We have invested a lot of capital (five first-round picks) in that defense, and we signed a serious free agent for the defensive backfield this year.  But on the field, we give up lots of plays of 25 yards or more and we should not be doing that.
  • The Commanders are underperforming the talent level in the locker room.  Maybe that points to bad coaching; maybe that points to a lack of “fire in the belly” among the players.  But the reason we are in last place in the NFC East is underperformance and probably the biggest area of underperformance is at the quarterback position.

My answer is as candid as Coach Rivera’s; if anyone thinks my answer is less “offensive” in some way it is probably because I identified several problem areas for the team instead of only one.  On the other hand, I could be accused of throwing too many parts of the team under the bus.  I do not like “coach-speak” any more than the next guy, but when I see how folks react to candor, I understand how and why such a linguistic art form came into being.

Finally, John Simon was a noted critic of the arts serving as the drama critic for New York magazine and film critic for The National Review.  He was known for his candid assessments of performers and performances.  I will close today with his candid assessment of actress Carol Kane:

“You have to have a stomach for ugliness to endure Carol Kane – to say nothing of the zombielike expressions she mistakes for acting.”

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



Side By Side …

I have an interesting juxtaposition to present today.  I do not have enough information about either of the two situations I will present to draw definitive conclusions here, so let me simply say that the two situations are “interesting” and leave it at that.  The two sports involved are women’s professional soccer and NBA basketball.  To say that the nature and ambience of those two sports are “different” would be a monumental understatement.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) terminated the contracts of two coaches in the league after conducting an investigation into “misconduct” during the coaches’ time at the Orlando Pride.  Please note that the league “fired” the two coaches and not the team owner.  I had not been following this matter, but that oddity made me try to find out what was going on in the NWSL.

Amanda Cromwell was the head coach for the Pride and Sam Greene was an assistant coach; both had been together as coaches at UCLA prior to coming to the Pride.  Evidently there were allegations that opened a joint investigation by the league and its players’ union that led to the terminations reported earlier this week.  The allegations included:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Improper favoritism towards players
  • Retaliatory behavior towards players

Cromwell and Greene had only been on the job in Orlando since last December; this investigation did not need to go back in history to gather information leading to the conclusion.  Evidently, Cromwell had been suspended since June 2022 because the team has been playing under an interim coach since then.  The interesting thing for me are the questions left unanswered by the announcement that the league “terminated the contracts” of the two coaches.

Coaches say things to players – in games and in practices – that those same coaches would never say to any person in normal social conversations.  Part of coaching requires the coach to be confrontational with the player.  That does not justify verbal abuse, but it does demand that someone draw a line as to what constitutes “coaching” and what constitutes “abusing”.  I am not sure I would want to be the arbiter there.

A similar situation exists with “improper favoritism towards players”.  When a football coach or a basketball coach leaves one school to go to another school and two or three of his starting players follow him/her to the new school, there will clearly be “favoritism” involved.  Without any sort of description here, I have no idea how whatever happened in Orlando might or might not be “improper”.

Cromwell coached the Pride for 13 games; the team record in those games was 2 wins, 4 draws and 7 losses; that record may reflect some sort of dystopian atmosphere associated with the team or it may just be that the team is not all that good.  In any case, that record does not provide Coach Cromwell with a lot of slack in terms of behaviors.  This story may or may not be over.  According to one report I read, the final paragraph said that Coach Cromwell was “reviewing her legal options”.

There was another finding in this investigation.  The Pride’s goalkeeper coach, Aline Reis, was found to have been uncooperative with the investigation.  The report says Coach Reis “pressured players” to share information with the investigators that was favorable towards the coaches.  Interestingly – – to me at least – – is that behavior was not considered to be sufficient to terminate Coach Reis’ contract.  Instead, Coach Reis will be required to take training in “retaliation, discrimination, harassment and bullying”.  While those are issues that probably need to be addressed, they do not seem to be closely related to the finding that Coach Reis was uncooperative with the investigation and perhaps sought to undermine it.  Lots of “loose ends” here…

Next up …  By now, you must have read about/heard about/seen the “dust-up” between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole.  The Warriors have decided to fine Green for the incident but not to suspend him.  Two things come to mind upon learning of that decision:

  1. There is no possible fine that the Warriors might levy against Draymond Green that would cause him the slightest bit if financial hardship.  He is halfway through a 4-year contract extension that has already paid him $46.2M and will pay him another $53.3M over the next two seasons.  Prior to signing that extension, Green had earned another $84.6M in his NBA career with the Warriors.
  2. Is it possible that Draymond Green’s accomplishments and demonstrated importance to the Warriors’ team over the course of the last decade or so got him some “improper favoritism” in the outcome here?  Even if one were to acknowledge that, I doubt that any investigation might lead to the NBA – – not the Warriors but the league itself – – to “terminate the contract” of Steve Kerr.

[Aside:  Having nothing at all to do with the juxtaposition of issues here but equally interesting to me is how the video of the “Green/Poole dust-up” would up in the hands of TMZ and then all over the Internet.]

Finally, since much of today’s rant focused on “favoritism” let me close with this.  Author, Fran Lebowitz, was once asked what her favorite animal is.  Her replay was:


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



“RTP Weekend”

After two weekends with NFL “London Games” on the schedule, the league has every team playing in the US this weekend.  There are three remaining “overseas games” left on the schedule for 2022:

  1. Broncos/Jags – – London – – October 30
  2. Seahawks/Bucs – – Munich – – November 13
  3. Niners/Cards – – Mexico City – – November 21 (Monday Night)

Growing the game internationally is an important thing for the NFL owners.  Adding Germany to the list of international venues this year recognizes that Germany was key to the existence of NFL Europe “back in the day”.  Munich is a city with about 1.5M people so it is a reasonable venue for the league to “test the waters” for American football interest in another large European country.  London and Mexico City have already hosted regular season NFL games and the return of the league to those sites recognizes successful fan support in both cities.

Assuming that all goes swimmingly in Munich next month, it would not be surprising to see more regular season games played outside the US in the near future.  Assuming that to be the case, it will be interesting to see if the NFL chooses to try yet another new venue or to add a second game to either Munich or Mexico City – – or both.

Or here is another proposition:

  • The existence of fan support in the UK has been established; fans turn out in significant numbers for games in London and there are US-based fans who travel from the US to see their teams play there.
  • Suppose the NFL schedules 8 games in London in a season testing the interest in the UK to a larger number of events each year.  The NFL can do this without hurting home attendance for the teams going “across the pond” by scheduling all 16 teams from the conference that has nine home games on its schedule due to the odd number of games in a season.
  • For example, the NFC hosts 9 games this year; the AFC hosted 9 games last year and will host 9 games next year.  So, if the teams involved in those putative 8 London Games next year were all AFC teams, then each AFC team would get to play 8 games at home and would not lose the revenue from a schedule with 8  “home games”.
  • In addition to “growing the game” under such a scheduling regimen, I think the NFL would likely increase the number of purchases of things like NFL Sunday Ticket or NFL All-Access as fans in the UK become more invested in specific NFL teams.

The NFL has a stated goal to become an enterprise that generates $25B annually in revenue.  Increasing international contributions to the revenue stream will certainly not hinder the achievement of that objective…

The issue discussed above is one where I have an idea to contribute to the discussion.  The next issue is also related to the NFL, and it is one I really do not have a good idea for resolving it.  I refer to officiating and how the rules have seemingly put officials in a position where they make ”proper” calls that make no sense when viewed by an objective observer.  I want to leave out of the discussion here any and all comments by fanboys of individual teams.  I am talking about someone like me – – a fan of the game who watches games involving teams where I have no immutable rooting interest.  Two such games happened last weekend and both involved roughing the passer calls that simply do not pass the eyeball test.

  1. Grady Jackson (Falcons) sacked Tom Brady (Bucs) on a third down play that would have led to a punt giving the Falcons who trailed in the game an opportunity to close the gap.  Jackson was called for roughing the passer for “throwing Brady to the ground”.  Excuse me, but that is what “sacking the QB” is all about.  Jackson did not body slam Brady; he did not pancake Brady; he did not spear him or hit Brady on the head.  He tackled Tom Brady and was called for roughing the passer.  Horrible call…  Maybe it was the right call but it was a horrible call.
  2. About 24 hours later, Chris Jones (Chiefs) strip-sacked Derek Carr (Raiders) and Jones – not Carr – had possession of the ball when the two players hit the ground.  Jones was called for roughing the passer because he landed on Carr with his full body weight.  Even that assertion is called into some question by the replay but at the time the players hit the ground, it was Jones who had the ball; Carr was no longer a “passer” any more than was Coach Josh McDaniels who was on the sidelines.  Again, a horrible call…  Maybe it was the right call but it was a horrible call.

The initial reaction from Troy Aikman in the broadcast booth and from Chris Jones after the game is that – maybe – the NFL needs to add “roughing the passer” to the list of things that can be challenged/reviewed on replay.  Maybe that is the answer but if it is the answer, it will come at a cost.  NFL games fit comfortably into a time span of between three and three-and-a-half hours.  That makes those games attractive to TV networks on Sundays.  If the games stretch out to 4-hour events, the networks will have a choice to make, and none would be particularly attractive:

  • Back up starting times to 12:00 noon Eastern time – – or even 11:30 AM – – so that the doubleheader games will be over by 7:30 at night.  Such a change could interfere with church going on Sundays and the NFL probably does not want to get into a tit-for-tat with pastors across the country.
  • Start the doubleheader games at 3:30 Eastern Time and live with the fact that the end of the early games will necessarily overlap with the start of the doubleheader games.
  • Let the games go as is and run the risk of the double header game running over the start of the Sunday Night game.

Adding more replays can ONLY add to the time it takes to finish a game; there is no logical scenario where adding replay makes the game get from kickoff to final gun more rapidly.  The NFL should not want to make games longer than they are; replay time already acts to drain emotion and adrenaline from the games.  Having said that, the NFL must do something to avoid another weekend like last weekend.  It should go down in NFL lore as “Roughing The Passer Weekend” or “RTP Weekend” for short.

Finally, having alluded to a potential conflict between the NFL Sunday games and churchgoing above, let me close with this observation by H. L. Mencken:

“A Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents.”

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



“Wireless Vibrating Anal Beads”

Last week, I got an email from a reader with an interesting stat:

“According to Statfax, the New York Mets since 2021 have spent a total of 789 days in first place (Most in baseball) and have not won their division either year.”

And over the weekend, the Mets continued their recent predilection for fading in the Fall by being eliminated in the wild card round of the NL playoffs by the Padres.  In the deciding game played in NYC, the Mets managed all of 1 base hit and scored zero runs.  The Padres advance in the playoffs and will face the Dodgers in a SoCal round of the NL playoffs while the Phillies and Braves will square off in the “Eastern bracket”.

In case you have ignored this story to date, let me remind folks here that there is a potential cheating scandal brewing in the world of – – chess.  The world champion, Magnus Carlson (Norway) resigned from a match against a 19-year-old chess wunderkind, Hans Nieman, after only one move.  In a previous match between the two grand masters, Carlson thought Nieman was cheating because of some very different moves/strategies Nieman had employed.

Nieman has admitted cheating in some online chess games in the past but asserts he has never cheated in a live game against an opponent.  Obviously, I do not have nearly enough information to “take sides” here but the saga did take an interesting turn late last week.  According to a report I read, Carlson also has a hypothesis as to how Nieman accomplished his cheating in that prior match.

  • Carlson asserts that Nieman was receiving illicit signals from his coach with the use of “wireless vibrating anal beads”.

And now I want to form a nexus between the first two issues discussed here today.

  • In the 6th inning of the deciding game against the Padres, the Mets’ manager,, Buck Showalter, asked the umpires to examine Padres’ pitcher Joe Musgrove’s ears for a “banned substance”.  The Mets were trailing 4-0 at the time and had only one hit in the game.  The umpires found nothing, and some have said that Showalter was trying to use gamesmanship to upset Musgrove’s rhythm.  It didn’t work…
  • Perhaps Carlson is trying to play mind games with his young chess opponent.  But forget that for the moment and try to picture how the chess officials in charge of a live match between Carlson and Nieman might check to be sure there are no “wireless vibrating anal beads” …

The NFL employs “unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants”; the chess-people would need to provide “unaffiliated proctological consultants”.  I began writing these rants in the mid-1990s and they went on the Internet in 2001.  I must admit that I never thought I would ever type these four words – wireless, vibrating, anal and beads – in sequence in any rant related to the world of sports.  And yet, here we are…

Enough silliness …  There is a report in today’s New York Times written by Jenny Vrentas and Emanuel Morgan announcing that the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to change the concussion rules citing the Tua Tagovailoa situation as the impetus for doing so.  That is all well and good; having the flexibility to assess situations and finding ways to make them better is an admirable trait.  Congratulations to the league and the union for that.

However, there is an element of “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” here.  If you recall, when Tua was allowed to play in the second half of the game against the Bills there were questions about how that could be allowed given that he stumbled when he stood up after taking a hit to the head.  That was sort of explained by alluding to a “back injury” but then a second blow to the head resulted in a severe concussion that carted Tua off the field on a board.

Now please recall all the outrage expressed by writers and on-air commentators after the Tua’s second injury.  Please also recall that the NFLPA said it would pursue legal options to protect their member and that they then rescinded their approval of the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant” who was at that game.  One report said the union would consider seeking sanction by the medical licensing officials for the medical people involved here.

At the time, I said the key issue was what happened during the examination of Tua after his injury in the Bills game.  That was the issue that had to be examined in detail BEFORE all the bloviating made any sense.  Now let me quote from today’s New York Times report: [emphasis added]

“The NFL and its players’ union said Saturday that doctors followed the concussion protocol in treating Miami Dolphins’ quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa after he hit his head in a Sept.25 game, but that the protocol will be changed because Tagovailoa’s return to the field was not what was intended by the rules covering the evaluation of brain injuries.

The medical folks did what the protocol told them to do.  So – – now the question is very different:

  • Who set up those protocols that were followed but allowed Tua to return to the game even though that was not the intent of the protocols?

I am sure there were dozens of people involved but one of the involved parties was the NFLPA itself.  The union had to approve and sign off on what is now labeled to be a “faulty protocol”, one which allows a union member (player) to return to the field even though the intent was not to allow that to happen.

  • So, how long do you think we will have to wait before the union apologizes to the medical folks involved in those examinations as publicly as they excoriated them about a week ago?
  • In addition, how long until all the screamers on ESPN and FS1 issue similar apologies for pontificating on a subject they did not know enough about?

Don’t hold your breath…

Finally, let me close today with an observation about the medical profession by Groucho Marx who played Dr. Hackenbush in A Day at the Races:

“She got her good looks from her father.  He’s a plastic surgeon.”

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



Football Friday 10/7/22

Benjamin Franklin said:

“Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.”

Well, I did not prevent the habit of turning out Football Fridays and I do not have the resolve to break that habit.  So, the sensible thing to do is to get on with it for this week.

As usual, I will begin by reviewing last week’s selections – – unimpressive as they were:

  • College = 1-1-0                                  Season record = 7-6-0
  • NFL = 1-3-0                                        Season record = 5-7-2
  • Money Line Parlays = 0-2                Season record = 1-4
  • Money Line P&L = minus-$200            Season record = minus-$297

            Undaunted, I press onward…


College Football Commentary:


            The Linfield College Wildcats extended their record in 2022 to 3-0 last week with a thorough beat down of the Loggers of Puget Sound.  The final score was 72-2.  If you find that to be an “unusual” score, here is something else from the game that is even more “unusual”.

  • Linfield returned three punts for touchdowns in the second quarter of the game.

This week Linfield is on the road visiting the Pirates of Whitworth University in Spokane, WA.  The Pirates are 3-1 on the season and – like Linfield – they opened their Northwest Conference schedule last weekend with a blowout win.  The Pirates beat Lewis and Clark by a score of 66-28.  This looks to be a high scoring game.  Go Wildcats!

I think I have counted correctly; there are 16 teams in Division 1-A college football that are undefeated to this point in the 2022 season.  That number must be reduced by at least one this week because undefeated TCU will play undefeated Kansas.  As for the other undefeated teams, good luck to all of them.

Some of the lyrics in Frank Sinatra’s September Song remind us that:

“The days dwindle down to a precious few…”

Well, by analogy, the number of winless college football teams has already dwindled down to a precious few – – namely 2:

  1. Colorado
  2. Colorado St.

Colorado fired its coach this week.  Jay Norvell is the coach at Colorado St., and this is his first year on the job having taken over for Steve Addazio last winter.  His “newness” insulates him from overly harsh scrutiny but the Rams’ record to date is rather embarrassing:

  • The Rams are 0-4
  • The Rams have been outscored 164 – 43.
  • One of the losses was to a Division 1-AA team by the score of 41-10.

There are no more Power 5 schools on the schedule and there are two visits by two bad teams later in the season.  All is not lost for Colorado State yet.

The oddity associated with the Colorado housecleaning this week is that the head coach and the defensive coordinator were fired; the offensive coordinator was named as the interim coach.  Why is that odd?

  • Colorado has averaged 13.8 points per game in its 5 games this year.  That makes it the 128th ranked team out of 131 teams nationally.
  • And the offensive coordinator was put in charge of the whole shooting match?

Speaking of coaches getting fired, Dwight Perry had this item in his column in the Seattle Times last week about the previously separated Herm Edwards:

“Nick Canepa of The San Diego Union-Tribune, on Arizona State firing football coach Herman Edwards: ‘Guess the problem with Herm was that he played to win the games, but didn’t.’”

Things may be looking bleak for the flagship football teams in Colorado, but that is not the case is Mississippi.  Ole Miss is 5-0 this season coming off a victory over previously 7th ranked Kentucky and Mississippi St. is 4-1 having upset Texas A&M last week by 18 points.  Mississippi St. and Ole Miss will meet on November 24th – – Thanksgiving Day.  That could be a fun game to check out if one of the NFL games turns into a blowout…

Take a look at the Big-12 standings this morning.  Two of the undefeated teams are Kansas and K-State with a combined record of 9-1.  Meanwhile, Oklahoma and Iowa State are winless in conference games at 0-2.  Not quite the way I figured things would be going …

Similarly surprising are the standings in the Big-10 West this morning.  Before you go and peek, let me tell you that six of the seven teams there have a conference record of 1-1 and one team is 0-2.  Would you guess that the 0-2 team is Wisconsin because it is.  And Wisconsin also fired its coach this week after losing badly last week to Illinois by 24 points.

Paul Chryst was a former player at Wisconsin and had been the head coach there for several years amassing an overall record of 67-26 but the last couple of years have “disappointed” folks in Madison, WI.  Chryst has 4 years left on his contract so he will leave with a tidy “parting gift”.  Wisconsin was ranked in the Top 20 in preseason polls and now has an overall record of 2-3.  That is a big fall from grace – – or it shows you the usefulness and credibility of preseason polls.

Last weekend, CBS was hyping the games they were going to televise this week.  The noon game on CBS will be Michigan versus Indiana; and according to CBS, the game features an “electrifying Michigan team”.  Say what…?

  • Michigan is a very good team; there is no doubt about that.
  • Michigan is also anything but electrifying; they are more “businesslike” or “plodding” than they are “electrifying”.
  • I understand the need to “hype the game”, but maybe the folks at CBS could pretend that the people most likely to tune in are ones who have seen a college football game sometime earlier this season?

Looking at some games of interest last week involving Big-10 teams …

Illinois 34  Wisconsin 10:  This a home loss for Wisconsin and it dropped their record to 2-3 while Illinois sports a 4-1 record for the 2022 season.  Three turnovers and 10 penalties by Wisconsin did not help their cause even a bit.  The Badgers were shut out in the second half; here are the results of their 5 possessions in that second half:

  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 4 plays and TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 5 plays and TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 13 plays and TURNOVER ON DOWNS

The Illinois defense held the Badgers to a total of 2 yards rushing for the game – – TWO YARDS RUSHING!

Michigan 27  Iowa 14:  Michigan’s running game dominated here.  The Wolverines gained 172 yards rushing in the game and held Iowa to only 35 yards on the ground.  This is a good road win for Michigan.

Purdue 20  Minnesota 10:  The Gophers had been ranked 21st in the country going into this game but the Boilermakers used a solid defense and a strong ground game to win this one on the road.  Minnesota only had 46 yards rushing in the game.

Maryland 27  Michigan St. 13:  The Terps are 4-1 in 2022 and they won this game in a dominant performance.  Total offense for Maryland was 489 yards to only 321 for Sparty.  Maryland overcame 9 penalties in the game and committed the only turnover of the day.  This was Maryland’s game all the way.

Penn St. 17  Northwestern 7:    This was a defensive game from the start.  Northwestern’s ground game only produced 31 yards in the game on 28 attempts.  Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions ran the ball 56 times gaining 220 yards.

Nebraska 35  Indiana 21:  The game was tied at 21 apiece at halftime; then the Nebraska defense held Indiana scoreless in the second half.  This is the first win for Huskers’ interim head coach, Mickey Joseph, since he took over for Scott Frost a few weeks ago.

Here are some Big-12 results from last week …

TCU 55  Oklahoma 24:  The Sooners have lost two conference games in a row and this one was a beat down.  TCU outgained Oklahoma 668 yards to 355 yards in the game.  The Sooners lost their starting QB, Dillon Gabriel, after a hit to the head by a TCU player who was ejected for targeting.  That affected the Oklahoma offense, but the Sooners’ defense was overwhelmed.  The Horned Frogs had 4 TD plays of 62 yards or longer in the game.  TCU is undefeated at 4-0 for the season.

  • [Aside:  First year Oklahoma coach Brent Venables is a “defense guy”.  Well, the Sooners have given up 96 points in the last two games.  What’s up out there in Norman…?]

K-State 37  Texas Tech 28:  Both teams came to the game off upset wins two weeks ago.  The stat sheet says the game was dead even; Tech actually had a 14-yard advantage in total offense for the day and the Red Raiders had 26 first downs to only 16 for the Wildcats.  Four turnovers by Tech were the difference in the game.

Kansas 14  Iowa St. 11: Kansas remains unbeaten at 5-0 for the season.  Iowa St. won the stat sheet outgaining Kansas by 100 yards for the day.  It was a day of missed opportunities for the Cyclones; they missed 3 field goal attempts including a 37-yard try in the final two minutes of the game that would have forced OT.

Oklahoma St. 36  Baylor 25:  The Cowboys are still unbeaten in 2022 and used a 99-yard kickoff return at the start of the second half to control the game.

Moving along to SEC action …

Ole Miss 22  Kentucky 19:  This was the first loss of the year for Kentucky; Ole Miss stays undefeated at 5-0.  Kentucky had the ball in the Rebel’s red zone twice in the final 5 minutes of the game and fumbled the ball away both times.

 Alabama 49  Arkansas 26:  Bama ran off to a 28-0 lead in the game, but Arkansas closed that margin to 28-23 at the end of three quarters.  The 4th quarter was all Alabama.  The Crimson Tide had one drive in the 4th quarter of 1 play for a 72-yard TD and another drive of 2 plays for 75 yards and a TD.  Bryce Young left the game early in the 2nd quarter with a shoulder injury; Jalen Milroe took over and led the Alabama offense for the rest of the game.

Mississippi St. 42  Texas A&M 24:  This is the Aggies second loss this year and both losses are in conference.  It is not as if the Aggies did not have opportunities to win this game; they turned the ball over 4 times – – three of them in the red zone no less – – and the Bulldogs offense took advantage.

LSU 21  Auburn 17:  Auburn led the game 17-0 in the first half and led 17-14 at halftime;  however, they never scored in the second half.  Auburn outgained LSU 438 yards to 270 yards in the game.   Four turnovers by Auburn including an INT in the final two minutes of the game made the difference here.

Georgia 26  Missouri 22:  Georgia dominated the stat sheet 466 yards to 294 yards, but Missouri had the lead at 19-12 at the start of the 4th quarter.  By the way, those 12 points by Georgia were all field goals; Georgia had not seen the end zone in the first three quarters.  However, here are the Georgia possessions in the 4th quarter:

  • 10 plays – – 75 yards – – TD
  • 7 plays – – 68 yards – – TD
  • 8 plays – – 42 yards – – END OF GAME

Take this close game and put it alongside the lackluster performance by the Bulldogs against Kent State and you have to wonder if the Georgia players are starting to believe the hype about their invincibility?

Here are some ACC game comments …

UNC 41  Va Tech 10:  The Tar Heels pitched a shutout for the second half of this game and almost doubled the offensive output of the Hokies in the game – – 527 yards to 273 yards.

Duke 38  Virginia 17:  Duke raises its record to 4-1 with this win.  In my college football preview, I said I loved the OVER for 3 projected wins for Duke this season; well, that ticket is a winner already.

Ga Tech 26  Pitt 21:  This was a shocker.  Five days before this game, Tech fired its coach and named an interim coach.  Pitt was a 20-point favorite in the game and was playing at home.  Tech was outgained but forced 3 turnovers to hold on and win in Brent Key’s first game as the interim coach at Tech.

Wake Forest 31  Florida St. 21:  This is the first loss for the Seminoles, and it leaves both teams with one conference loss for the 2022 season.  Looking at the stat sheet, this game was dead even.

Clemson 30  NC State 20:  Clemson remains unbeaten in 2022; this was State’s first loss of the year.  The Wolfpack turned the ball over twice in the game and never got the ground game going (32 yards on 19 carries).

Out west in the PAC-12 …

Utah 42  Oregon St. 16:  The Utes intercepted 4 passes in this game.  That was the difference on the field and on the stat sheet.

Washington St. 28  Cal 9:  This was a comfortable win for the Cougars who advanced their record to 4-1 this year.  They held Cal’s running game to a net of 31 yards for the day.

Arizona 43  Colorado 20:  The Buffaloes are still winless in 2022 once again showing an anemic offense and a porous defense.  Arizona gained 673 yards in the game to only 340 yards for Colorado.

USC 42  Arizona St. 25:  The Trojans continue to look strong in 2022.  Arizona St. falls to 1-4 for the season with this loss and that win was over Division 1-AA Northern Arizona.

Oregon 45  Stanford 27:  The Ducks dominated the scoreboard leading 31-3 at halftime and equally dominated the stat sheet 515 yards on offense as compared to 332 for Stanford.

UCLA 40  Washington 32:  UCLA led 26-10 at the half; Washington had 3 possessions in the second half and scored a TD on all of them making a game of it.  UCLA had one drive in the second half where they held the ball for over 18 minutes resulting in a TD.

And some random games of interest from last week …

Georgia St. 31  Army 14:  This is the first win of the year for Georgia St.  [Aside: I said last week they could win outright even though Army was an 8-point favorite.]  As usual, Army had no passing game; they threw the ball 8 times and completed one pass for a net of 11 yards.

Air Force 13  Navy 10:  Air Force won the game on the stat sheet more convincingly than they did on the scoreboard.  It took a field goal with about 4 minutes to play in the game to provide the margin of victory here.

James Madison 40  Texas St. 14:  Madison is still undefeated in 2022 with a 4-0 record.

Eastern Michigan 20  UMass 13:  UMass led 10-0 at the half and got a Field Goal on its first possession of the second half to lead 13-0.  From that point on, here are the results of the next 5 UMass possessions:

  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 3 plays and an INT
  • 10 plays and a TURNOVER ON DOWNS

UConn 19  Fresno St. 14:  The game was in Connecticut meaning Fresno St. traveled a long way just to lose to a mediocre-at-best UConn squad.

FIU 21  New Mexico St.  7:  Remember, FIU lost two weeks ago to Western Kentucky by a score of 73-0…

Before I get to games for the upcoming weekend, the season is ripe enough for me to keep you informed on the race to the bottom among college teams’ defenses.  The Brothel Defense Award is given each year to the defense that gives up the most points per game for the season.  The name of the award derives from the idea that “Everyone Scores on the Brothel Defense”.

So, here are the three top contenders for the Brothel Defense Award as of today:

  • Colorado gives up 43.2 points per game
  • Hawaii gives up 45.4 points per game
  • UNC-Charlotte gives up 46.3 points per game


College Football Games of interest:


For the record, I am writing this on Thursday evening and hope to finish it after the Thursday Night Football game.  I say that because the spreads and totals here may change over the next 36-48 hours when the games take place.

(Fri Nite) Nebraska – 3.5 at Rutgers (49):  Rutgers owns the conference record for most consecutive home losses versus conference opponents.  A less-than-fearsome Nebraska squad comes to New Jersey this weekend as a short road favorite.  Is this the week to break the streak?

Duke – 3.5 at Georgia Tech (54):  The oddsmakers must not be overly impressed by Tech’s win last week over Pitt since they have installed Duke as a road favorite here.

UNC at Miami – 3 (66):  The oddsmakers have seemingly forgiven the Hurricanes for losing at home to Middle Tennessee St. by three TDs.  There should be plenty of fireworks in this one.

Va Tech at Pitt – 14.5 (41.5):  Both teams have lost games this year to opponents who would not normally give them trouble.

Auburn at Georgia – 29.5 (49.5):  Auburn fans and boosters have their normal overly high expectations for their team – – and Auburn is not living up to the fans’ image of the team as a juggernaut.  There is a lot of criticism of the coach and the AD there.  I suspect it would be OK for Auburn to lose a close game on the road to a team ranked in the Top 5, but a blowout loss is NEVER acceptable to Auburn fans.  Meanwhile, Georgia has underperformed and not covered the spread in each of its last two games against teams they were expected to blow away (Kent St. and Missouri).  This will be interesting…

Ohio St. – 27 at Michigan St. (65):  Michigan St. had trouble scoring against Maryland and Minnesota; Ohio State has only given up an average of 14.8 points per game.  This might get ugly…

Florida St. at NC State – 3 (50.5):  This is an important game because both teams have 4-1 overall records and both teams already have one conference loss.

TCU – 7 at Kansas (66.5):  This is the “Battle of the Undefeateds” on the card for the weekend.  I think the losing team will score more than 30 points in this game – – absent a monsoon – – so I like the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.

K-State – 2.5 at Iowa St. (44.5):  This is a big game for both teams.  K-State seeks to stay unbeaten in conference play; Iowa St. already has 2 conference losses so another one here would probably take them out of contention for the Big 12 Championship Game at an awfully early point in the season.

Oregon – 13 at Arizona (69.5):  Ever since Georgia held Oregon to a single field goal in the opening game of the season, the Ducks have scored 41 or more points in their next 4 games.  Arizona ranks 102nd in the country in scoring defense this morning giving up 31.2 points per game.  Oregon’s defense is not much better yielding 30.2 points per game.  This looks to me like another game of offensive explosions.  That is a big Total Line, but I will still take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.

Utah – 3.5 at UCLA (64.5):  On offense this year, the Bruins are averaging 41.4 points per game.  They have never been held under 32 points in a single game.  I doubt they can keep that string going against a solid Utah defense.  This is a big conference game for both teams.

Tennessee – 2.5 at LSU (65):  Both teams are undefeated in SEC games joining Alabama, Ole Miss and Georgia in that status.  This is an important game for all five of those teams without a conference loss to date.

Texas – 7 versus Oklahoma (65):  If the Sooners lose this one, that will make them 0-3 to start the Big-12 conference games in 2022.  I doubt anyone had that even as a possibility back in July…  Which Texas team will show up here:

  • The one that came within a point of upsetting Alabamam4 weeks ago – OR – –
  • The one that lost to Texas Tech two weeks ago?

Texas A&M at Alabama – 24.5 (50.5):  This is the College Football Game of the Week.  Having said that, I do not see how anyone can project an outcome for this game without knowing who will play QB for Alabama.  Whatever … the game starts at 8:00 PM EDT and this ought to be a game you make time to watch.

Wisconsin – 10 at Northwestern (44.5):  The oddsmakers opened this spread at 8 points but bettors seem to believe the Badgers will rally behind their new interim coach because the spread expanded to 10 points soon after the announcement of Paul Chryst’s firing and has stayed there steadily all week long.

Iowa at Illinois – 3.5 (36.5):  These are good defensive teams and marginal offensive teams.  I am willing to believe the Iowa defense is very good; is the Illinois defense also very good?

UConn – 6 at Florida International (46):  UConn is a touchdown favorite over a team not known as the American Asthma Institute?

BYU at Notre Dame – 3.5 (51):  Tag this game as a “Religious War” if you must.  Nonetheless, it should be a good game featuring two very good defensive football teams.


NFL Commentary:


Over the opening weeks of the season, I have been flipping back and forth on MNF between the Joe Buck/Troy Aikman presentation and the “Manning-cast”.  I like both presentations for different reasons.  The Manning-cast is different; it is like what happens in my living room when I am watching a game with a friend or one of my sons and we are going back and forth on every play.  Of course, we do not know one-one hundredth of what the Manning bros do about NFL football, but it is the banter/repartee that makes the situation fun.  Same goes for the “Manning-cast”.

At the other end of the spectrum are Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.  Meaning not even a smidgen of disrespect to the other leading network announcing teams, Buck/Aikman is the gold standard in 2022. The two broadcasts are almost good enough to get me to record one of them, watch the other one completely in real time and then go back and watch the game all over again just to hear what the “other guys” have to say.  Monday Night Football has returned to the status of must-see TV…

Having said all of that, let me throw some orchids at Amazon Prime TV and the announcing team of Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit on Thursday Night Football.  If anyone in the broadcasting business today is demonstrably better on play-by-play than Al Michaels, I have not heard him/her.  I was “worried” when I heard that Herbstreit would be his on-air partner because on college football games, Herbstreit talks at least twice too much.  And so, I have been pleasantly – and significantly – surprised to see/hear Herbstreit do NFL games with Al Michaels.  His comments are measured; they are not panderingly glowing or harshly negative.  I don’t know if he is deferring to the legend of Al Michaels who is sitting next to him in the booth, but he is a lot more informative without being a didactic motor-mouth – – which is what he can be on a college broadcast.

There is another “London Game” this week as the NFL continues to try to expand its market/charisma in various overseas marketplaces…


NFL Games This Week:


Once again, a reminder…  This is being composed on Thursday night; NFL games will not kick off for another 72 hours or so.  These lines can swing A LOT in either direction; do not take the lines cited here as anything necessarily related to the final lines on the games.

The Thursday Night game this week (Colts/Broncos) was about as ugly a game as you might ever see from the NFL.  The score was 12-9 in OT; zero TDs and 7 field goals.  A game like that could result from great defensive play on both sides; that would be a great game to watch.  This game featured abject ineptitude from the first quarter through to the final possession of the OT.

Amazon Prime did not hope for games like this when it signed on to pay the NFL about $1B for the Thursday games.  And next week, the folks at Amazon will have to try to put lipstick on another pig when the Commanders and Bears square off.


(Sun Morning 8:00 Am EDT) Giants versus Packers – 7.5 (40.5) [Game is in London]:  Both Giants’ QBs are nicked; Daniel Jones has an ankle injury and Tyrod Taylor is in the concussion protocols.  If neither can go, the next man up is Davis Webb.  The only thing I can say about Davis Webb is this:

  • There are no scandalous rumors about him circulating that he is the unacknowledged love child of Jack Webb and Mo’ne Davis.

If you are up early on Sunday morning, check this game out because there is nothing else on TV at that hour that is even marginally as interesting.  However, if you choose to “sleep in”, congratulations on making a great choice.

Seahawks at Saints – 5.5 (46): This is a “fly home from Europe game” for the Saints.  No way I would take them as a favorite in that jet lag situation.

Texans at Jags – 7 (44):  I have this game tagged as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The Jags lost to the Eagles in Philly last week in a sloppy game where the Jags lost 4 fumbles.  That will not happen again here.  The Texans are a feisty bunch who play hard and “never give up” but the Jags seem to have the better roster and equal if not better coaching.  The Jags are atop the AFC South as of this morning; I expect them to stay there once Monday night passes by.  But I am not willing to lay a full TD in this game…

Steelers at Bills – 14 (46):  The Steelers’ defense is for real.  If the team is going to have anything related to success in 2022, it will be on the efforts and the talents of the defensive unit.  When/if TJ Watt returns, that defense will become measurably better.  However, Watt will not be there on Sunday and the Bills’ defense should be good enough to contain whatever the Steelers try to offer up as an offense.  I will not make a selection on an NFL game with a full 2 TDs as a spread, but I expect the Bills to win comfortably here.

  • The Steelers have used 2 QBs so far this year – – Mitchell Trubisky for the first 3.5 games and Kenny Pickett for 0.5 games.
  • The Steelers’ QBs have thrown for a grand total of 2 TDs in the four games the Steelers played in 2022.

Just so you know, that is beneath “shocking” and goes all the way down to “miserable”.

Falcons at Bucs – 9.5 (48):  Take a deep breath; if the Falcons win here, they will be in sole possession of first place in the NFC South five weeks into the NFL season.  I never saw that coming; did you?  I did see the Bucs dominating that division, but I am not remotely willing to lay that many points to a division rival.  No selection here; I’ll pass…

Bears at Vikes – 7 (44):  How to say this nicely?  The Bears stink.  The Vikings are not a great team; they are more NFC pretenders than they are NFC contenders – – but they are better than the Bears and they are at home.  I like the Vikes to cruise to a comfortable win here; I’ll take them and lay the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Titans – 2.5 at Commanders (42.5):  As of this morning, these two teams are headed in opposite directions.  The Commanders have lost 3 games in a row and two of them were against NFC East foes.  This team needs a win more than the Donner Party needed to download the Uber Eats App.  The “problem” for the Commanders is that they have trouble protecting their QB and this week they will try to do so without their starting RT, Sam Cosmi.  I am not trying to pretend that Cosmi is some sort of pivotal player on the OL; he is a decent young tackle and nothing more.  However, given the rest of the OL, Cosmi is a veritable lynchpin.  The other humongous problem for the Commanders here is that their run-stopping begins and ends with their defensive line – – which is super talented.  But if Derrick Henry gets off to the next level beyond that DL, it will be a nightmare in DC only eclipsed by John Kerry returning to DC and threatening to give a 3-hour speech.  Give me the Titans on the road; I’ll lay the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Dolphins – 3 at Jets (45):  Teddy Bridgewater will be the Dolphins’ QB here; should he need to be replaced, the QBs on the roster who might play – – not thinking Tua Tagovailoa is even a remote possibility – – would be Reid Sinnet and/or Skyler Thompson.  You will be excused if you could not pick Sinnet or Thompson out of a lineup with the hosts of the TV show, The View.

Chargers – 2.5 at Browns (48):  The key question here is simple:

  • Can the Chargers contain the Browns’ running attack sufficiently to force the Browns to throw the ball more than they would prefer to do?

The Chargers will move the ball and will score; but if the Browns can control the clock and the tempo, the Chargers may never be able to exert control over the game.  Interesting game to watch; bad game to bet…

Lions at Pats – 3 (46.5):  The Lions’ offense is doing just fine; the Lions lead the NFL in points scored.  The Lions’ defense is a mirage; there is no there there.  The Lions give up more than 35 points per game.; that is what bad college teams give up per game not what guys who are getting paid to play defense give up per game.  But it is tough to take the Pats this week not knowing if Mac Jones or Bailey (Zappity-Doo-Dah) Zappe or Hugo Knucklebuck will play QB for the Pats.

Niners – 6.5 at Panthers (38.5):  This is a long trip for the Niners, and this is a let-down game for the team after beating the Super Bowl champion Rams on MNF last week.  So much for the negatives; the Niners are a far better team with a far better QB.  Just for giggles, give me the Niners to win and cover here; put it in the Six-Pack.

Eagles – 5 at Cards (49):  For a reason I have never understood, the Eagles never play well in Arizona.  Add to that history the fact that the Eagles have a date with the Cowboys next week and the Cowboys are 100 times the rival that the Cards are.  The Eagles could maintain their mojo and roll past the Cards – – or they could lose outright by 10 points.  Watch this game if you can and enjoy it – – but don’t bet on it.

Cowboys at Rams – 5.5 (43.5):  I think this is the Game of the Week.  The Rams played poorly on Monday night losing to the Niners; there is no way to sugar-coat that.  The Cowboys are on a roll with Cooper Rush orchestrating their offense.  The Rams need to be able to give Matthew Stafford time to throws the ball; I think they find a way to do that and win this game.

(Sun Nite) Bengals at Ravens – 3 (48):  The Bengals’ offense came alive last week, and the Ravens’ defense is “suspect” at best.  Lamar Jackson had a down game for him last week; he will be striving to assure that does not happen two weeks in arow.  I see points galore here; give me the OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.

(Mon Nite) Raiders at Chiefs – 7 (51):  This game was the runnier-up as the Game of the Week.  This is also clearly the best rivalry game on the card for this week.  I like the Chiefs to win this game at home because it looked to me that they found an offensive rhythm against the Bucs last week.  The Raiders will pin their hopes on Josh Jacobs’ ability to control the clock with a running game that keeps that rhythmic Chiefs’ offense on the sidelines.  No selection here because I do not like that spread or that Total Line.

Let me review this week’s Six-Pack:

  1. Kansas/TCU OVER 66.5
  2. Oregon/Arizona OVER 69.5
  3. Vikes – 7 over Bears
  4. Titans – 2.5 over Commanders
  5. Niners – 6.5 over Panthers
  6. Ravens/Bengals OVER 48

And just for fun here are two Money Line Parlays at an imaginary $100 each…

  • Vikes@minus-310/Niners@minus-275/Chiefs@ minus-360  To win $136
  • Nevada @minus-160/ James Madison@minus-400/Notre Dame@-160  To win $230.

            Finally, let me close here with another point made by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“We like Central Florida’s chances of hitting a long-distance field goal, what with a kicker named Colton Boomer.”

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



Congratulations, Aaron judge

Aaron Judge did it. Against the Texas Rangers, he hit his 62nd home run for the 2022 season passing Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs which has been the AL record for 61 seasons.  Judge is 30 years old and will be a free agent this winter; who will open the bidding for his services in 2023 and beyond at 5 years and $250M?  Could happen…

Two days ago, I wondered if fans in Texas would show up in greater numbers than expected hoping to see Judge break the record.  Before the Yankees arrived for this final series of the year, the Rangers average attendance was 24,538; yesterday, a total of 38,882 fans turned out for the game.  Given that the Yankees had clinched their division a while back and that the Rangers were 38 games behind their division leader, the game itself had no implications at all.  Normally, one would have expected a crowd below the average for the rest of the season.

The fact that attendance was about 60% above average must be attributed to Judge and his pursuit of the AL home run record.  Congratulations to Aaron Judge …

The joint NFL/NFLPA investigation into what happened to Tua Tagovailoa and into their concussion protocols has gotten to the point that investigators are about to interview Tua himself.  According to a report this morning:

  • “Others involved in the case already have been interviewed.”

This all sounds good; investigators are proceeding at a reasonable pace; they have deferred talking with Tua early on allowing his head to clear a bit as he remains in the regimen of the existing concussion protocol; the league and the union are keeping reporters up to date on progress and status of the investigation.  There is, however, a discordant note here.

Recall that the independent neurological consultant who supposedly saw Tua at halftime of the game against the Bills was “fired” over last weekend before this joint investigation got underway.  His “firing” came because the union withdrew their acceptance of that person and these independent neurological consultants need to be accepted by both the league and the union.  That seemed at the time to be a tad hasty and smelled of scapegoating.  The league and the union did not make that situation any better by a joint statement released over the weekend.  According to that statement the NFL and the NFLPA:

“ … share a strong appreciation for the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants who contribute their time and expertise to our game solely to advance player safety.”

If I were a “neurotrauma expert” – – which I am not – – I think I would be looking to lend my time and expertise in some other venue where my overseers with no neurotrauma expertise might not fire me before conducting their investigation to see what happened.

Moving on …  The college football game of coaching musical chairs has gotten an unusually early start this season with five Power 5 jobs already up for grabs.

  1. Arizona St.
  2. Colorado
  3. Georgia Tech
  4. Nebraska
  5. Wisconsin

The presence of Colorado on that list is interesting because the coach just fired there, Karl Dorrell, was hired late in one of those hiring cycles because the incumbent Colorado coach, Mel Tucker, bolted to take an attractive contract at Michigan St.  Last year, Michigan St. upped the ante and gave Tucker an extension for 10 years and $95M.  That seemed to make sense last year; Sparty had an 11-2 record in 2021.  That contract extension seems to have lost some of its luster in 2022; Michigan St. is 2-3 to date in 2022 and those two wins came over Western Michigan and Akron indicating that Michigan St. could be a big deal in the MAC – – but Michigan St. plays in the Big-10.  The Spartans three losses against teams from conferences that matter have all been by double-digits and this week Ohio St. comes to East Lansing for a game as a 27-point road favorite.

From a purely economic standpoint, Tucker is in no danger of being fired even if Ohio St. wins 103-0 this week.  Eating nine of those years on the contract extension works out to more than $80M and that is comfortable cushion for Mel Tucker’s coaching position.

Interestingly, there is another college football coach who was rewarded in 2021 with a contract extension reported to be 10 years and $95M.  That would be Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M.  There is a boatload of “booster money” available for the Aggies football program so the announcement of that extension raised an eyebrow or two but did not engender shock and awe by any means.  Coming into 2022, there were great expectations for the Aggies; they had several “Top-Ten recruiting classes” at the school and many thought they had the best recruiting class of all for this year.

  • [Aside:  Ratings of high school players is mysterious at best and phony at worst.  Remember that Tom Brady was a “zero-stars” prospect coming out of high school.]

The Aggies have done better so far in 2022 than Sparty; the Aggies are 3-2 and only one victory was against a cupcake opponent.  Nevertheless, the two losses came at the hands of schools that are “not supposed to beat elite teams”; Appalachian St. and Mississippi St. seem not to have known their role as overmatched opponents in the presence of Texas A&M.  Like Michigan St., the Aggies have a stern test this weekend when they visit Alabama and find the Tide as a 24-point favorite.  Alabama may be without the services of its Heisman Trophy QB, Bryce Young who left last week’s game with a “sprained shoulder” and is considered day-to-day for this weekend’s game.  The worst outcome for the Aggies would be to lose badly even if Alabama plays with its backup QB, Jalen Milroe.

Texas A&M was a Top 5 team in the preseason polls; as of this week, they have not only dropped out of both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll, but they are also way down in the list of “Others receiving votes”:

  • In the AP Poll, the Aggies got significantly fewer votes than Illinois, Tulane and James Madison.
  • In the Coaches Poll, the Aggies trail Minnesota, James Madison and Maryland.

There is a boatload of “booster money” available to the Texas A&M football program, but probably not enough to put the axe to a coach who still has more than $80M left in his deal…

Finally, having spent some time today suggesting that some football coaches have been “overpaid”, let me close with this observation by Woody Allen:

“What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists?  In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.”

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



A Different “Hot Seat” List

A common feature on sports pages and sports Internet sites are lists of “Coaches on a Hot Seat”.  I take part in that sort of soothsaying in my preseason football rants at the college and NFL levels.  In addition to providing a way to “fill space”/”produce content”, preparing such lists makes one check records and stats and do some analytical thinking about the sport.

Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers changed QBs at halftime.  Mitchell Trubisky had been named the Steelers’ starting QB at the end of training camp but three-and-a-half games later he was on the bench checking out the plays on his own personal Microsoft tablet.  And that got me to thinking about “Quarterbacks on a Hot Seat” because I do not think that Trubisky was in a unique position in the whole of the NFL.  So, let me present here my thinking about quarterbacks in the NFL who are on varying degrees of “Hot Seats” as we enter the second quarter of the 2022 NFL regular season.

First there are the QBs on a Blazing Hot Seat:

  • Jacoby Brisset (Browns):  He is simply a placeholder as the starting QB for the Browns until Deshaun  Watson is back from his suspension and is deemed to be “in football shape” and ready to play.  About 50 nanoseconds after those three conditions obtain, Jacoby Brisset is out of a job.
  • Baker Mayfield (Panthers):  After the Panthers were unsuccessful in trading for Deshaun Watson, they acquired Mayfield as an “upgrade” from Sam Darnold.  I have been a Darnold fan since his sophomore year at USC – – but even I have to admit that he has been a flop with the Jets and a flop with the Panthers.  But in four games this year, it is not clear too me that Baker Mayfield is much – if any – of a big step up from Sam Darnold.  There is nothing “on the bench” that poses a significant threat to Mayfield’s job right now, but the coach there is on a hot seat himself and may choose to change QBs just as a way to provide some cooling moments to his tortured derriere.
  • Mitchell Trubisky (Steelers):  He has already been pulled for half a game and his 2022 stats are mediocre at best.  In 3.5 games, his completion percentage is below 60%; he has thrown 2 TDs and 2 INTs; his average yards per pass attempt is 5.6.  It is Trubisky’s 6th season in the NFL and time is running out for teams to consider him a “late bloomer” who deserves patience and grooming to be a team’s answer at the QB position.

Let me add a category here of QBs where “Other Factors” cool their seat a bit.  In this category, there are circumstances that make the player a bit more secure in their position than might be the case absent those circumstances.

  • Marcus Mariota (Falcons):  This is his eighth year in the NFL, and he has never quite lived up to being the second overall pick in 2015.  At first, there were “durability issues”; but in reality, his issues are performance based.  Viewed dispassionately, Marcus Mariota is a solid back-up QB and not a franchise QB.  His seat is cooled a bit by the fact that the guy behind him on the depth chart – – Desmond Ridder – – is a rookie from Cincy who may some day be ready for NFL action, but that time is not in October 2022 unless he is thrown into action out of necessity.  If the Falcons are not in the playoff hunt late in 2022 – – as is most likely – – there should be a severe temptation for Coach Smith to find out how well Ridder has assimilated whatever they have given him in practice time.  But until then…
  • Kenny Pickett (Steelers):  He is the guy who replaced Mitchell Trubisky last week and he was a first-round pick for the Steelers this year setting the bar for expectations high.  In his first 30 minutes of play, Pickett ran for 2 TDs (Yay!) and he also threw 3 INTs (WTF?);  but he is the “new kid on the block” and gets some deference for that plus the Steelers’ fans and brass both know that the alternative is Trubisky – – and how would that work out?  My guess is that Pickett gets most if not all of 2022 and much of 2023 with the NFL version of a “Hall Pass” to show what he’s got.
  • Geno Smith (Seahawks):  Simply stated, the alternative to Smith on the bench is Drew Lock.  Choosing between Smith and Lock is like trying to figure out the difference between oatmeal and porridge.
  • Carson Wentz (Commanders):  He needs to play well – – significantly better than he has shown so far this year – – if he is going to be a starting QB next year anywhere in the league.  He is safe for now in Washington because the team used his backup, Taylor Heinicke, as the starting QB last year and they know how that story ends.
  • Zach Wilson (Jets):  As a high draft pick last year, much is expected of Wilson in NYC which means his seat will never be truly “cold” until he leads the Jets on a deep playoff run – and that is not happening this season.  Moreover, he has suffered injuries both last year and this year that have limited his availability on Sundays.  The Jets’ fans – – and the Jets’ organization too – – are not known for “patience” and/or “playing the long game”.  However, Wilson’s seat is still only marginally warm here because the backup on the roster is Joe Flacco and the fans know – as do the folks in the Jets’ hierarchy – that the 2022 version of Joe Flacco is as a short-term backup and nothing else.  Wilson is the guy for the “Green people” in NYC for the rest of 2022.

For the sake of symmetry, there are QBs where “Other Factors” add to the heat on the seat:

  • Derek Carr (Raiders):  He is on my list completely due to “Other Factors”; simply stated, Raiders’ fans are terribly myopic when it comes to the team’s QB.  Far too many Raiders’ fans think anyone who dons a silver and black jersey and lines up under center must be a Super Bowl winner or he is a guy to be run out of town on a rail.  This is Carr’s  9th year as the Raiders’ QB and – you will not be surprised to read here – the Raiders have not won a Super Bowl in that time span.  Most Raiders’ fans might not want to hear that Carr is the best starting QB for the franchise since Jim Plunkett in the early 1980s – – but there is a case to be made for that assertion.
  • Daniel Jones (Giants):  This is Jones’ 4th year in the NFL; he has a new coach who is supposedly a “QB Development Guru” which sounds like a good thing – – except – – Jones’ back-up, Tyrod Taylor, played for the “QB Guru” at Buffalo and is well known to the “Guru”.  The Giants are 3-1 this morning with Jones as the starter; that kind of performance will keep him solidly in the starting position.  But what happens if the Giants lose 3 or 4 in a row …?
  • Matt Ryan (Colts):  He also does not belong on a list like this – – but here he is.  This is Ryan’s 14th year in the NFL; he has been to the Super Bowl; he has been to the Pro Bowl 3 times and was an All-Pro once.  At age 37, he is not likely to raise his game much beyond where it is now.  And that makes him subject to seat warmth in Indy because that franchise has been franticly casting about looking for its “franchise QB” ever since Andrew Luck abruptly retired in 2018.  Since then, the Colts have traded for and used for one year, Jacoby Brisset, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and now Matt Ryan.  If history is any indicator, the Colts will seriously consider Joe Flabeetz for the job either this year or next.
  • Ryan Tannehill (Titans):  Like Marcus Mariota above, Tannehill has a high draft pick from this year’s Draft sitting on the bench behind him.  The difference here is that Malik Willis was a standout in the exhibition season and already saw some action in a blowout loss to the Bills earlier this season.  The Titans lead the AFC South today; so long as that is the case – or if they are only a game behind the division leader – Tannehill is the starting QB.  But if not, there could be a drumbeat that starts to “see what the kid’s got” …

I have twelve QBs on my list here; that is more than one-third of the starters in the NFL.  I think it was Jerry Glanville who said that NFL stood for “Not For Long” and many of these QBs could be subject to that descriptor in the next year or so.

Finally, here is an observation by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times about another NFL QB – – one whose seat is comfy cozy:

“The Bengals’ Joe Burrow, sidelined at training camp after an appendectomy, was seen accompanying his teammates doing 40-yard windsprints — on a golf cart.

“It gives a whole new meaning to ‘rollout quarterback.’”

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



Baseball And Football Today …

As is customary in these parts, we take a moment on this day every year to remember Broderick Crawford…

The Phillies ended an 11-year streak of missing the playoffs this year clinching a wild card slot in the NL Playoffs over the weekend.  Meanwhile, late last week, the Mariners ended a 20-year streak of missing the playoffs by securing their presence in the AL Playoffs.  Both teams struggled early in the season.  The Phillies changed managers after about 50 games and had two hot streaks in July and August that got them where they are now.  Likewise, the Mariners looked out of it until about July 4th and then things fell into place for them.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have 3 more games on their schedule in the regular season and Aaron Judge only needs 1 more home run to break Roger Maris’ AL home run record of 61 blasts in a season.  The Yankees end with a split double header today and a final game tomorrow against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, TX.  So far this year, the Rangers have averaged 24,538 fans per game; it will be interesting to see if they draw significantly larger crowds for this last series as people there might want to “see history being made”.

Speaking of baseball, I ran into a former colleague while on a quest to restock my wine cellar; we chatted for a while, and he told me that he had run across a baseball stat he found astonishing:

  • For his career – one which ran from 1939 through 1960 minus three years in the midst of WW II – Ted Williams had an OBP of .496 in games played in Fenway Park.

My first reaction was that it would take me far more time and energy than I was wiling to expend to verify that number and my second reaction was that even for Williams who was the best pure hitter I ever saw play, that was amazing.  Think about it, over a span of 19 seasons in about 1400 home games, Williams would have come to bat approximately 5000 times.  That stat says he would have been on base for half of those plate appearances.  WOW !

My top-of-the-head calculation made me a bit incredulous, so I went to to check some numbers and – as the song says – “ … Now I’m a believer”.  Here are some career stats for Ted Williams that I found there:

  • Plate Appearances = 9792  My  guess of 5000 home plate appearances is reasonable.
  • Career OBP = .482  Not unreasonable to believe he was slightly better at home.

Just for a little sauce on those stats above, Williams’ career OBP of .482 is an all-time record for MLB.  A major contributor to that OBP record is the fact that in his career Williams drew a walk on 2021 of those plate appearances and only 258 of those walks were intentional.

Switching gears …  In last night’s NFL game between the Niners and the Rams, the game was interrupted briefly by a fan who ran onto the field carrying a pink smoke bomb.  Naturally, the security guards were in hot pursuit, but the “fan” was running free near the Rams’ bench on the sideline.  At that point, Rams’ linebacker Bobby Wagner took a few steps onto the field and knocked the fan to the ground allowing the gendarmes to apprehend the fan and remove him from the stadium.  I was watching the Manning-cast at that point, and they showed a replay of the fan and the tackle there; I don’t know if that was shown on the main broadcast feed with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.

For those of us of a certain age – – that age being really old – – this brought back memories of a Baltimore Colts’ linebacker, Mike Curtis, who played for the Colts in the late 60s through the mid-70s.  Curtis was not nearly as ferocious as Dick Butkus of that same era, but just so you can get a feeling for Curtis, his nickname among his teammates was “Mad Dog”.

In a Colts game, Curtis and the Colts’ defense was on the field; the ball had been spotted and the offensive team was in the huddle calling their play.  A fan ran onto the field and grabbed the ball that had been placed by the officials and started to run off with it;  Unfortunately for him, he ran in the direction of Mike Curtis who absolutely unloaded on the guy ending his attempted run to glory. Take a moment and Google “Mike Curtis tackles fan” for several links to video coverage of that incident along with written descriptions of the “event”.

I recall reading an account at the time where someone asked Curtis why he did what he did.  Curtis’ response was along the lines of:

  • That guy was breaking a municipal ordinance and I decided to enforce the law.

Last night, Bobby Wagner channeled his inner Mike Curtis.  Good on you, Bobby Wagner…

Finally, earlier this year, Mike Trout had hit a home run in 7 consecutive games for the Angels and was seeking to tie the MLB record of 8 consecutive games.  He failed to hit a home run in that eighth game and here is how Dwight Perry described that situation in the Seattle Times:

“Angels star Mike Trout, trying to homer in a record-tying eighth straight game, instead flew out three times and walked.

“Apparently the creel limit for Trout is seven.”

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