The World Series Begins Tomorrow

The World Series begins tomorrow night in Houston between the Astros and the Phillies.  Each team averages 4.6 runs per game over the course of the regular season; the biggest statistical difference is this one:

  • Runs Allowed (Astros) = 518              Run Differential = 219
  • Runs Allowed (Phillies) = 685             Run Differential = 62

Not surprisingly, the Astros are the betting favorite to win the World Series.  The betting line for the Astros as of this morning ranges from minus-185 to minus-190 while odds on the Phillies range from +170 to +175.  However, the oddsmakers do have a somewhat surprising line on the Total Runs Scored in Game 1.  As noted above, these teams combined to average 9.2 runs per game in the regular season.  The Total Run Line for Game 1 is 6.5 runs.

Yes, both teams are starting quality pitchers in Game 1 but that is a pretty sharp drop in the expected number of runs to be scored in that game.

Around this time every year, I suggest here that MLB ought to play a Saturday World Series game in the daytime.  For some folks, that would be a nostalgic moment; it used to be that the World Series played ONLY day games.  My suggestion has nothing to do with nostalgia; it has to do with growing baseball.  Let me explain:

  • The 7 games this year are all scheduled to begin at 8:00 PM ET.  Most – if not all – will end between 11:30 and midnight ET.
  • Games 3, 4 and 5 will happen on school nights.  Kids in school are not likely to be around to see the ends of those games.
  • Adding kids to the MLB fanbase makes a lot of sense for the folks who run MLB.  So, why not play Game 2 on Saturday afternoon instead of at night?

I have been asking that question for about 20 years now …

The next thing to consider this morning is the recent rash in “field storming” by college football fans this year.  When LSU beat Ole Miss, the fans stormed the field; since when did a win over Ole Miss deserve that sort of exuberance?  Last year, fans at UMass stormed the field after UMass beat – – hold your breath here – – UConn.  In that Titanic struggle:

  • UMass was 0-5 and had lost 16 games in a row.
  • UConn was 0-6.

And somehow that victory in that meaningless game merited a field storming…???  [Aside:  Once college basketball season starts, substitute “court storming” for “field storming” here.]

The SEC fined LSU $250K for the incident after the Ole Miss game as if it were the school that somehow egged on the goofs who felt compelled to come out of the stands.  The problem here is that far too much attention is paid to these events and having others pay attention to you is the motivation that drives things like TikTok and Instagram and other social media things.  Coverage by media outlets tends to focus in the size of the crowd on the field and the excitement of the fans along with some clucking about dangerousness of the field storming itself.  That is nonsensical; college kids do lots of things that are far more dangerous than running onto a football field after a game and jumping up and down like a goof.

What might make more sense is for media outlets to ignore the field storming part of the sporting event and focus on the game and not the goofs.  If there has to be a discussion of the event(s) at all, focus on how the currency has been cheapened by so many field stormings that follow games that are simply not that big a deal.  Field storming can be justified if it happens:

  • When an unranked team beats the #1 or #2 team in the country – – OR – –
  • When a team beats a division rival it has not beaten in the last decade or more.

Other than that, pay no attention to the attention-whores storming the field…

One more thing today …  I noted above that college basketball season is about to begin and that reminds me that there is a local story here in the DC area that will likely get national attention if things go awry.  Patrick Ewing has been the head basketball coach at Georgetown for five years.  Ewing helped put Georgetown on the college basketball map back in the 1980s and he brought years of experience as an NBA assistant coach to the job at Georgetown when he replaced John Thompson III.  The thinking then was that Ewing would be a top-shelf recruiter and developer of talent and Georgetown would return to its “glory days”.

Well, that simply has not happened.  Ewing’s record at Georgetown is a less-than-laudatory 68-84.  But it gets worse because if you look only at Big East conference games, Georgetown is only 26-63 against conference opponents.  Last year, Georgetown was 0-19 against other Big East teams.

Patrick Ewing has a pedigree and his ties to Georgetown and to Georgetown basketball are solid.  But I doubt that he can survive another season that even resembles last year’s debacle.  And that will become a national story if it happens.

Finally, let me close with this observation by musician/comedian Oscar Levant:

“I envy people who drink – at least they know what to blame everything on.”

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

 

 

Two Trouble Spots Today …

There are two topics on the agenda for today; both have the potential to get me in trouble.  If I were smart, I would delete the references from my clipboard and produce a space-filling “listicle” such as:

  • Six Reasons the Phillies will Win the World Series – – or – –
  • The Top Ten Punters of the Super Bowl Era

“Listicles” are useful; they created debate but not rancor and they are usually easy to compose.  Not so with today’s agenda.  So, let me begin in Madison, Wisconsin with the University of Wisconsin’s women’s volleyball team.

Let me set the stage here by quoting three paragraphs from a report about this matter from Outkick.com:

“The Wisconsin volleyball team has been engulfed by scandal ever since nude videos and images started circulating the web earlier in the week.

“In the videos and photos which Outkick will not share or link to, members of the team expose themselves in a sexually graphic manner.  While portions of the footage are incredibly sexually graphic, there is no sex shown.  Most of it involves women together posing and dancing around.  Some of the footage was filmed in 2021 but it’s unclear if it was all filmed last year.

“It is also important to note the footage was not secretly captured.  The women in the videos and photos are aware they are being filmed.”

The snarky thing to do here is to dismiss this matter with a flip reference to “Girls will be girls” and move on.  But in this case the university police are investigating “multiple crimes” related to the release of this stuff on the Internet.  Moreover, the Wisconsin Athletic Department has gone on record publicly in support of the women and condemning the release of these videos/images.  In an obviously crafted comment decrying the release the Athletics Department concludes with this sentence:

“Our top priority is supporting our student-athletes and we are providing them with the appropriate services and resources.”

At this point, I have to call time out because if I don’t, I will have to call Bullsh*t!  The women in this case are not victims; they never agreed to allow these materials to hit the Internet and it would be nonsense to suggest that they derive any sort of benefit from such a release.  Nonetheless, if the reporting above is correct in saying that the women were aware that they were being filmed, then they are not victims here.  They chose to “go on camera” doing whatever it was that they did; they obviously expected privacy but took the risk anyway that their privacy might be breached.  This is simply a logical consequence of the choice that they made; it is an unfortunate consequence but there is no suggestion that someone forced, coerced or tricked these women into doing what they did.

I believe the proper current street argot here would be, “Suck it up, buttercup.”

One more thing here …

  • Memo to Wisconsin Athletic Department:  As you try to provide your student-athletes with appropriate services and resources, you might want to find someone who can counsel these women not to do something embarrassing when they know they are on camera.
  • And since some of this footage has been around for at least a year, you might want to ask some of the coaches there if they knew about any of this before the stuff hit the Internet.

Moving on to Topic #2 today, I would like to suggest that Tom Brady give serious consideration to retiring today.  Not at the end of the 2022 season; not during the Bucs’ BYE Week which starts on November 14; not after tomorrow night’s game against the Ravens on Thursday Night Football; I mean today.  And I am not going anywhere near the nonsensical argument that Brady’s substandard play so far in 2022 is somehow “tarnishing his legacy”.  That “reasoning” is patently nonsensical; even if the Bucs finish 2022 with a 5-12 record and will have been eliminated from the playoffs prior to Christmas Day, Tom Brady still has 9 Super Bowl appearances and 6 Super Bowl rings.  That legacy does not change.

My suggestion is that retiring today gives him a chance – – not a certainty but a chance – – of saving his marriage and his family.  I am assuming here that all the reporting about Brady and his wife both hiring divorce lawyers and a growing environment of estrangement building on the home front is accurate and that the thorn in the paw that gives rise to said discomfort is the fact that Brady retired and then unretired last winter.

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen have been married for more than a decade and have two children together.  [Aside:  Brady has a third child from a previous relationship.]  I know that I am projecting here, but I have to think that family relationships built over a period of more than a decade are more important than football games – – even Super Bowl football games.  I know; that is easy for me to say since the chances that I might ever play in a Super Bowl game are the same as the chances that I might learn to levitate.  Nevertheless, I have to believe I would choose a chance at “family preservation” if ever faced with a comparable situation.

Finally, the description of the antics engaged in by those Wisconsin volleyball players reminded me of a snarky remark made by author/poet, Dorothy Parker:

“If all these sweet young things were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised.”

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

 

 

World Series And World Cup Today …

The World Series is set.  Starting on Friday, the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies will decide this year’s World Champions of MLB.  The Astros had the best regular season record in the AL; of all the teams that qualified for the NL playoffs, the Phillies had the worst regular season record.  I said earlier this month that if the Phillies made it to the World Series, there would be calls for changes in the playoff system citing some sort of unfairness regarding the teams with better regular season records.  Well, it is happening, and it is mostly nonsense

It is beyond imagination to have a situation where all the teams entering the NL playoffs would have an identical regular season record.  So, by definition, there will be matchups between teams where one of them had a “better” regular season than the other.  If you let that regular season difference be your guide, then there is no reason to waste time playing any playoff games.  Take a look at the team with the better record and give then a walk-over.  That is – in essence – what the World Series used to be; the team in the NL with the best record played the team in the AL with the best record and that was it.

Teams that had better regular season results are rewarded in the MLB system.  They get an “extra” home game – – assuming they can stretch the series to its limit – – and the two teams with the best regular season records get a BYE through the first round of the playoffs.  In the AL, “the chalk” prevailed; in the NL, “the chalk” lost every playoff series.  And somehow, some folks portray that as a “bad thing”.  Sorry, I don’t get it…

Last weekend, my TV remote got a real workout flipping back and forth among NFL games and MLB playoff games; next weekend will provide another stress test for that “Recall” button on the remote and the AA batteries inside.

Moving on …  While browsing around for sports tidbits, I came across the following statement:

“Indonesian police are bringing criminal charges against three officers and three civilians for their roles in the deaths of 131 people at a soccer match when police fired tear gas inside a stadium, setting off pandemonium.”

I recalled an incident at a Turkish soccer match where fans were so upset with a loss by the home team that they set fire to part of their own stadium to show their displeasure.  So, I wondered what had happened here.

The game took place in Malang city in East Java.  The home team – – Arema – – lost to Persebaya by a score of 3-2.  Fans of Persebaya were not in attendance; they had been banned for fear of hooliganism and/or a riot.  It turns out that precaution was not sufficient.

After the game, fans stormed the field to “demand answers” and part of the fans’ ”demanding” included throwing bottles and other objects at players and officials.  Things got really out of hand when the “demand for answers” continued in the area outside the stadium where fans overturned police vehicles and that led to the police employing tear gas.  That caused a stampede and the stampede caused deaths and injuries that would turn out to be fatal injuries later.  All that because the home team lost a soccer match 3-2…

The President of Indonesia ordered a complete suspension of Indonesian soccer league games until a “thorough safety evaluation” is carried out.  [Aside:  Good luck with that.] and tighter security measures are provided for games once they resume.  The Indonesian soccer mavens have banned all home field matchups for Arema for the rest of the season.  [Aside: If anyone ever asks you to give an example of “locking the barn door after the horse has bolted”, tell them about this move to avoid home games for the rest of the season.]

I just did a quick check to see if the Indonesian National Team is part of this year’s World cup Tournament in Qatar.  It is not.  So, officials there are probably happy not to have to deal with fans and supporters who can be provoked to rioting so easily.

And speaking of the World Cup Tournament and the hosts in Qatar, I ran across this report at frontofficesports.com saying that the government in Qatar is going to require all foreign visitors to download two apps to their phones – – and that those apps are a form of spyware.

One app – – Ehteraz – – is an app for tracking COVID and by extension for tracking people movement.  The app evidently can “manipulate content” on the phone (whatever that might mean) and it can “override other installed software” on the phone. Sounds like fun …

In case that just makes you shrug your shoulders, the other app – – Hayya – – intends to track tournament matches but it also has permission to “share other content on the phone” with persons or organizations not specified in the downloading process.  What could possibly go wrong …?

The Qatari government is serious about security for the World Cup.  They have requested – – and the request has been granted – – Pakistani military troops being sent to Qatar to provide security for the game venues AND those Pakistani troops will be augmented by “an unlimited number” of military police from Turkey.

Now that you mention it, I think I made the right choice to stay home and watch the World Cup games on TV here in Curmudgeon Central.

Finally, apropos of nothing, let me close with this observation by humorist, Dave Barry:

“The best babysitters, of course, are the baby’s grandparents.  You feel completely comfortable entrusting your baby to them for long periods, which is why most grandparents flee to Florida.”

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

 

 

Football Friday 10/21/22

In an old movie, Best Foot Forward the fictional Winsocki Military Institute has a fight song for its football team.  The concluding lyrics of that song tells the team:

“You can win, Winsocki

If you buckle down

If you mow them down

If you go to town

You can wear the crown

If you will only buckle down.”

I shall not worry about “mowing them down” or even “going to town” today in Curmudgeon Central, but I will try to follow the song’s instruction to “buckle down” in an attempt to produce a winning Football Friday.

And I begin as usual with a review of last week’s selections and the Six-Pack:

  • College = 2-0-0                                  Season Totals = 11-6-0
  • NFL = 2-2-0                                        Season Totals = 9-10-3
  • Money Line Parlays = 0-3                Season Totals = 2-8
  • “Profit/Loss” = minus-$300             Season Totals = minus-$561

 

College Football Commentary:

 

The Linfield College Wildcats extended their 2022 record to 5-0 last week with a 42-21 victory over Pacific University.  That win extends the streak at Linfield of winning seasons in football to 66 in a row.  The streak began in 1956 and was only “interrupted” by the coronavirus in 2020 when Linfield did not play football in the midst of the COVID pandemic.  This week the Wildcats are at home for Family Weekend and welcome Pacific Lutheran as their opponent.

The Lutes bring a record of 4-2 to the game and a winning streak of 3 consecutive games all of which are over Northwest Conference opponents.  Go Wildcats!

Tings are looking good in McMinnville, OR given the football fortunes of the Linfield College Wildcats; such is not exactly the case in South Bend, IN.  It’s not just that Notre Dame is losing football games; it’s to whom they are losing.  Last week it was Stanford – – a team that has been struggling for the last several years.  The game was a home game for the Irish and they were 16-point favorites.  In 2022, Stanford has 2 wins; one was last week at Notre Dame and the other was on opening weekend over Colgate.  This is definitely not a good look for Marcus Freeman in his first year at the helm for Notre Dame.

But wait, there’s more …  another Irish loss at home this year was to Marshall.  If you google “Marshall football schedule 2022” you can find some scary stuff there:

  • Marshall is 3-3 so far this year.
  • Marshall has beaten Norfolk St., Notre Dame, and Gardner-Webb.
  • Marshall has lost to Bowling Green, Troy, and La-Lafayette.

That information is not stuff you go out of your way to include in your curriculum vitae.  Moreover, Notre Dame still has upcoming games against Clemson, Syracuse (still unbeaten in 2022) and USC on its dance card.

There is a question mark hanging over half of the Big-10 as of this week.  We know Michigan and Ohio State are good in the East and Penn St. is not bad either.  But who is the class of the Big-10 West?  Is it Illinois this year?  The Illini are 6-1 having won 5 in a row and beaten Minnesota last week.  They are tied with Purdue at 3-1 in the Big-10 West.    Normally, Wisconsin is the Big-10 West bully, but the Badgers have already lost 3 conference games this season; so, they are irrelevant for 2022.

There is a potentially interesting season-ending rivalry game brewing in Division 1-AA football.  For whatever national rankings at that level might be worth, Montana St. is currently ranked #6 in the country and Montana is currently ranked #10.  As of this morning, the combined record for the two teams is 11-2.  As you might guess, these schools are longstanding rivals and play each year for the possession of the “Great Divide Trophy”.  This year, the teams will play at Montana St. in Bozeman, MT on 19 November.

The undefeated teams for the 2022 season in Division 1-A college football took a hit last week.  As of this morning, only 9 teams have unblemished records:

  1. Clemson
  2. Georgia
  3. Michigan
  4. Ohio St.
  5. Ole Miss
  6. Syracuse
  7. TCU
  8. Tennessee
  9. UCLA

And here is your weekly reminder regarding the contenders for the 2022 Brothel Defense Award – – given to the football team that allows the most scoring upon it for the season:

  • Akron gives up 39.0 points per game
  • Vandy gives up 39.4 points per game
  • UNC-Charlotte gives up 44.6 points per game

            Looking at some games from last week in the SEC:

Ole Miss 48  Auburn 34:  Total offense for the two teams here was 1019 yards and most of it came on the ground.  Auburn ran for 301 yards while Ole Miss ran the ball for 448 yards in the game.  Three turnovers by Auburn gave Ole Miss an important edge here.

Tennessee 52  Alabama 49:  The Vols broke a 15-game losing streak against Alabama and set up a showdown with Georgia in the SEC East on November 5th.  Total offense in this game was an evenly divided 1136 yards.  ‘Bama missed a field goal with about 3 minutes left in the game and then Tennessee made a field goal with 15 seconds left to play.  That was the difference on the scoreboard.  The difference on the stat sheet was this:

  • Alabama:  17 penalties for 130 yards
  • Tennessee:  6 penalties for 39 yards

Georgia 55  Vandy 0:  This outcome is not surprising.  The stat sheet is worth looking at for its total imbalance:

  • Total Offense:  Georgia = 579 yards  Vandy 150 yards
  • First Downs:  Georgia = 31  Vandy = 11

This is the 24th consecutive loss for Vandy in SEC conference games.

LSU 45  Florida 35:  The Tigers outgained the Gators by 133 yards in this game and they converted on 8 of 12 third-down situations – – and then 2 of 2 fourth-down situations.   The teams combined to punt the ball only 3 times in the game.

Kentucky 27  Mississippi St. 17):  Both teams are now 5-2 for the season and both teams have 2 conference losses for the season.  That probably means they are playing for bowl invitations and not any part of the SEC Championship Game.

In ACC action last week …

Syracuse 24  NC St. 9:   The Orange remain unbeaten for the year and hand NC St its second loss both in ACC games.  The Syracuse defense has certainly done its jo0b so far this year only giving up an average of 13.2 points per game ranking them6th in the country.

Clemson 34  Florida St. 28:  The Seminoles won the stat sheet and they rallied with 2 TDs in the 4th quarter to make this a close game.  This is the 7th win in a row for Clemson over Florida St. as the Tigers remain unbeaten in 2022.

UNC 38  Duke 35:  The game went back and forth all day long until the Tar Heels scored a TD with 16 seconds left in the game to win it.

Onward to Big-12 games last week …

Texas 24  Iowa St. 21:  Texas QB, Quinn Ewers, only threw for 172 yards in the game but three of his completed passes went for TDs.  The Cyclones had the ball deep in Texas territory in the final minutes and threatened to win or send the game to OT, but they turned the ball over on a fumble.  The Longhorns’ record is now 4-2 while Iowa St. drops to 3-4.

Oklahoma 52  Kansas 42:  That makes two losses in a row for Kansas and that makes it twice in a row that the Sooners have yielded more than 40 points in a game.  Neither of those statements makes for lots of smiles in either locker room…

TCU 43  Oklahoma St. 40 (OT):  State led 30-16 at the start of the 4th quarter but TCU rallied to force OT and then to seal the deal in OT.  That is the first loss for State while TCU remains unbeaten in 2022.  Big game this week for TCU at home against K-State who had last week off to prep for the game.

And in Big-10 action last week …

Illinois 26  Minnesota 14:  The Illini are tied for the lead in the Big-10 West and are 6-1 overall for the 2022 season.  Check these stats:

  • Total Offense:  Illinois = 472 yards  Minnesota = 180 yards
  • Passing Offense:  Illinois = 252 yards  Minnesota = 38 yards (and 3 INTs)

Michigan 41  Penn St. 17:  Penn St. led 14-6 at halftime but the second half was all Michigan.  Both teams were undefeated at the start of this game, but Michigan was clearly the better team on the field.  The Wolverines ran the ball for 418 yards in the game.

Michigan St.  34  Wisconsin 28 (OT):  Both teams are mired in mediocrity this year with 3-4 records.

Purdue 43  Nebraska 37:  The Huskers managed to lose yet another 1-score game…

Out west in the PAC-12 …

Colorado 20  Cal 13 (OT):  And then there were none…  Every team in Division 1-A college football now has a win in 2022.

Utah 43  USC 42:  The two teams combined to produce 1138 yards on offense for the game.  That may not be so surprising for USC since Lincoln Riley’s teams at OU were never known for their defense.  Not the case with Utah; even adding in last week’s scoring outburst by USC, Utah only gives up 22.3 points per game for the season.

And in “miscellaneous games of interest” from last weekend …

Arkansas 52  BYU 35:  As you might expect from the score, this was an offensive explosion.  The two teams combined to produce 1101 yards of offense in the game.

Georgia Southern 45  James Madison 38:  This is the first loss of the year for James Madison in their first season competing at the Division 1-A level.

Stanford 16  Notre Dame 14:  That is the third loss for the Irish this year and two of those losses – – the two BAD ones – – have been at home.

UCF 70  Temple 13:  UCF ran up 738 yards of total offense including 305 yards on the ground.  The Owls managed only 304 yards of total offense.  UCF converted 8 of 9 third down tries and only punted once.  This was an organized ass-kicking, and Temple was like a one-legged man in that contest.

 

College Football Games of Interest:

 

One general comment if I may:

  • There are a lot of very interesting and potentially very good games on tap for this weekend.  If you cannot find something on this card to interest you, college football is just not your game.

K-State at TCU – 3 (54):  These teams are a combined 11-1 for the season and both have 3-0 records in Big-12 Conference games.  Both teams are in the Top 25 his week so the confluence of two ranked opponents and the conference importance makes this the College Football Game of the Week.

La-Monroe at Army – 6.5 (55.5):  Army is 2-4 for the season and both wins came at the expense of a Division 1-AA team.  La-Monroe is one of the teams in the lower tiers of Division 1-A football so this game could be an indicator of where Army fits into the college football hierarchy in 2022.  Starting this week, Army’s remaining schedule is not exactly Murderer’s Row:

  • Vs. Air Force
  • At Troy
  • Vs UConn
  • At UMass
  • Vs. Navy

Army could still become bowl-eligible – – but cannot afford a loss here.

Duke at Miami – 9 (58):  Believe it or not, Duke has the better overall record at this point in the season.  However, Miami needs this game more because Miami only has 1 conference loss, and a second loss could render some future games as meaningless.

Texas A&M – 3 at South Carolina (44):  That is neither the spread nor the Total Line that Aggies’ boosters envisioned for this game back in June…

Indiana at Rutgers – 3 (48):  The Scarlet Knights have lost 21 consecutive home games against Big-10 opponents.  Here they are at home and a short-priced favorite.  Can they break that streak?

Iowa at Ohio St. – 29.5 (49.5):  Iowa does not score; so far in 2022, the Hawkeyes only average 14.7 points per game ranking them 127th in the country just below other offensively challenged teams such as New Mexico St. and Temple.  The Ohio St. defense is much better than average, so Iowa is highly unlikely to score save for a short field opportunity here or there and maybe a long TD on a busted coverage.  The far more interesting part of this game will be the very good Iowa defense against the very good Ohio St. offense.  The Buckeyes lead the nation scoring an average of 48.8 points per game.  Iowa’s defense only gives up 9.8 points per game (3rd in the nation).  Something’s gotta give …

Marshall at James Madison – 12.5 (50):  Please remember that Marshall went on the road and beat Notre Dame last month.  Now, they are once again on the road and are double-digit underdogs to James Madison.  Of course, I saw all this coming back in August – – NOT!

Syracuse at Clemson – 13.5 (49.5):  Both teams are undefeated in 2022 and both teams are in the Atlantic Division of the ACC.  Paint this game as most important …  It was my runner-up to K-State/TCU as the College Football Game of the Week.

Hawaii at Colorado St. – 6 (46.5):  The last game of interest involved two undefeated teams; this one involves two “rather bad” teams.  You can be interested in college football games at or near the top of the heap as well as games in the dregs of the barrel.

UNLV at Notre Dame – 27 (47):  The Bible says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth on Judgement Day.  I suspect there will be a localized outbreak of weeping and gnashing of teeth among the Notre Dame fanbase if they find a way to lose this one at home…

UCLA at Oregon – 6.5 (71.5):  The Bruins are one of the undefeated teams left standing and the Ducks have rebounded from their opening week shellacking at the hands of Georgia.  This is a big game in the PAC-12, and I think it should be a scoring extravaganza.  Sadly, the weather forecast for Eugene, OR is rain much of Friday and overnight into Saturday and ongoing through much of the day on Saturday.  I really wanted toe OVER in that game…

Colorado at Oregon St. – 23 (48):  Obviously, the oddsmakers do not think that Colorado’s first win of the season last week was the harbinger of a great awakening for the Buffaloes …

Texas – 6 at Oklahoma St. (61):  The two teams are a combined 10-3 for the season and both have only one loss in conference games.  The winner will remain within striking distance of the winner of the K-State/TCU game this weekend; the loser will need help to make it to the Big-12 Championship Game.

Mississippi St. at Alabama – 20 (61.5):  I do not think I would want to have been an Alabama player in close contact with Coach Saban this last week after the ‘Bama defense gave up 50+ points and the team got flagged for 17 penalties in last week’s loss to Tennessee.  I see an Alabama team motivated to deal with a happier version of Coach Saban next week; I’ll take the Tide to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.

Ole Miss at LSU – 3 (66):  I know that Baton Rouge is a tough place for visiting teams and I know that LSU is hardly a stumblebum of a team, but Ole Miss is 7-0 this year and scores 40.9 points per game.  And the Rebels are the underdog here …???  Give me Ole Miss plus those points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Kansas at Baylor – 9.5 (59):  The question mark here is about the Kansas starting QB.  Simply put, can he play at nearly his capability this week or not?  The oddsmaker thinks not.

Florida International at UNC-Charlotte – 15 (64):  These are two bad teams; do not try to gloss over that reality.  Note above that UNC-Charlotte gives up more points per game than any other team to date in 2022 (44.6 points per game).  Notwithstanding that fact, the oddsmaker likes UNC-Charlotte by more than 2 TDs.  What might one infer from that data about the Florida International offense…???

Purdue at Wisconsin – 2.5 (51.5):  Purdue has only one conference loss in 2022 meaning it is in contention for the Big-10 West title; Wisconsin has already lost 3 conference games.  And Purdue is on a 4-game winning streak.  So, I do not understand this line, nor do I understand why it has expanded slightly as the week wore on.

Minnesota at Penn St. – 4 (44):  The Gophers have two conference losses; another one here will make their shot at the Big-10 West title a dicey proposition.  Penn St. was outclassed by Michigan last week – – but Minnesota is not Michigan.

Boise St. at Air Force – 3 (47.5):  Boise St. has been improving over the past couple of weeks after changing their starting QB; the Broncos have won their last two games by a combined 2 points.  I think the wrong team is favored here, so I’ll take Boise St plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

 

NFL Commentary:

 

The focus of most of the pregame coverage for the Bills/Chiefs game last week dealt with the statistical comparisons between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen and particularly the way the two of them battled in last year’s playoff win by the Chiefs.  I think there was not nearly enough coverage of another important linkage between these two young star QBs:

When the Chiefs traded up in the 2017 NFL Draft to grab Patrick Mahomes, the team they traded with was the Buffalo Bills.

Now, before you jump to the conclusion that the Chiefs had to have “won that trade”, consider what the Bills got in return.  This “haul” takes into account the various picks the Bills got from the Chiefs after the Bills did a bunch of wheeling and dealing with them.  So, in exchange for Patrick Mahomes, the Bills got:

  • Tre’Davious White (CB) Has been voted All-Pro twice and second team All-Pro once.
  • Tremaine Edmunds (LB) Has been to the Pro Bowl twice
  • Dion Dawkins (OL) Has not missed a game since 2017 and been to one Pro Bowl
  • Siran Neal (CB) Provides secondary depth and special teams play for the Bills

            The Bills would take Josh Allen in the next NFL Draft and now have Allen plus those other player assets…

We are often reminded of two things that are fundamental to NFL football.  First, the league is a “quarterback driven league”; you can get anywhere without a stud playing QB.  Second, is the famous caution, “On any given Sunday …”  Well, those two adages came into an interesting juxtaposition last week when – – all on the same weekend no less:

  • Mitchell Trubisky beat Tom Brady
  • Zach Wilson beat Aaron Rodgers
  • Daniel Jones beat Lamar Jackson
  • Geno Smith beat Kyler Murray
  • Marcus Mariota beat Jimmy Garoppolo.

Make sense of that …

The NY Giants are 5-1 and have won a string of games by forcing late turnovers or coming up with late game offensive heroics.  Some say that is not sustainable but looking at the Giants’ schedule for the next 6 games, I can envision this situation continuing apace.  In fact, I think it might take a negative intervention from the football gods to make a change against this upcoming schedule for the Giants through December 4th:

  • At Jags
  • At Seahawks
  • BYE Week
  • Vs. Texans
  • Vs. Lions
  • At Cowboys
  • Vs. Commanders

Giants’ fans should look at that schedule and figure that a 9-3 record in early December is hardly out of the question.

So, “Team Blue” in NYC is pretty happy going into this weekend’s games.  On the other hand, “Team Green” in NYC is ecstatic.  The Jets are 4-2; they have won 3 games in a row, and they are winning by beating up the “other guys”.  Coach Saleh’s defenses in SF used to “beat people up” and he seems to have brought that sort of play east with him.  The Jets’ special teams were also excellent last week blocking a field goal try and blocking a punt that was returned for a TD.

Hey, it could be irrational exuberance – – hat tip to Alan Greenspan here – – but the NY Jets could be in the playoff picture this year.  Consider the next four games; three of them are clearly winnable.

  • At Broncos
  • Vs Pats
  • Vs Bills
  • At Pats

The other possibility is that the Jets could revert to being – – the Jets – – and have all this euphoria amount to nothing.  Let the games begin…

And speaking tangentially about the Jets upset victory last weekend, the victims then were the Packers and Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau Field.  Everyone and every team has an “off-day”; that is part of the fundamental NFL Mantra of “On any given Sunday…” but Rodgers and the Packers did not look as if they were “having a bad day”.  They looked downright discombobulated and outmanned.

In the Panthers/Rams game last week, WR, Robbie Anderson was sent to the locker room by Panthers’ interim head coach, Steve Wilks, in the middle of the game.  Shades of last year’s Antonio Brown sideline contretemps; but in this case, Anderson was sent off; he did not walk off.  Then the Panthers traded Anderson to the Cards on Monday.  In return, the Panthers got a 6th round pick in 2024 and a 7th round pick in 2025.  That is the NFL equivalent of trading Anderson for a bag of beans, and it surely seems like a low rate of return for a team like the Panthers that needs a talent infusion – – or might this be a signal to the locker room that the guys who played for Coach Rhule in college do not hold a special place on the roster anymore?  Just asking …

Moving on to a look as last week’s results …

Giants 24  Ravens 20:  The Ravens led by 10 points with 13 minutes left to play in the game.  Here are the results of the following possessions by both teams in those final 13 minutes:

  • Giants:  12 plays – – 75 yards – – TOUCHDOWN
  • Ravens:  5 plays – – 15 yards – – INT
  • Giants:  3 plays – – 13 yards – – TOUCHDOWN
  • Ravens:  2 plays – – minus-8 yards – – LOST FUMBLE
  • Giants:  5 plays – – 7 yards – – END OF GAME

The Ravens dominated the stat sheet racking up 406 yards on offense to only 238 for the Giants.  Nevertheless, the Giants had more time of possession with 31:52.  Very strange outcome…

Bengals 30  Saints 26:  The Bengals took their first lead of the game with 2:10 left in the game and held on to win.  The Saints final possession encompassed 9 plays and consumed 22 yards but lost the ball on downs.  The Bengals and Ravens are both 3-3 and are tied atop the AFC North.

Colts 34  Jags 27:  The Colts gave up 6 points in the 4th quarter of this game; that is interesting because in the 5 games leading up to this one, the Colts had not allowed a single point in any of the fourth quarters.  The Colts were entirely a passing offense in this game throwing the ball 58 times and gaining 389 yards through the air.

Vikes 24  Dolphins 16:  Looking at the stat sheet, this should have been a win for the Dolphins:

  • Total Offense:  Dolphins = 458 yards  Vikes = 254 yards
  • Time of possession:  Dolphins = 35:29  Vikes = 24:51
  • Total Offensive Plays:  Dolphins 73  Vikes = 50

How did this become a Vikes’ victory?  Three turnovers by the Dolphins did the trick.

Pats 38  Browns 15:  The Pats only outgained the Browns by 71 yards in this game, but they dominated time of possession by 10 minutes and held the Browns to only 70 yards rushing.  This was Bill Belichick’s 324th win has a head coach in the NFL tying him with George Halas for 2nd place in NFL history.  Don Shula is the NFL’s all-time winningest coach with 347 victories.

Jets 27  Packers 10:  The Jets dominated this game despite the fact that each team generated exactly 278 yards on offense for the day.  The Jets only managed 99 yards passing in the game but ran the ball for 179 yards against a Packers’ defense that is supposed to be better than that.  I did not see the whole game, but watching the condensed version leads me to observe that Aaron Rodgers missed a lot of open targets and that he was harassed by the Jets pass rush most of the day and that his receivers dropped more than a couple of balls that hit the receivers in the hands.  The Packers trail the Vikes by 2 full games in the NFC North; they need to get things organized in Green Bay ASAP.

Falcons 28  Niners 14:  The Falcons are now 6-0 against the spread for 2022.  The stat sheet shows a small edge for the Niners in this game – – except for 3 turnovers which set up 3 short fields for the Falcons.

Steelers 20  Bucs 18:  The Steelers’ defense came to life in this game and the Bucs’ offense continued to sputter notwithstanding a Tom Brady sideline tirade directed toward his OL.  I wonder if some folks on that Bucs offense are wondering if their productivity might be better had Brady not missed about 2 weeks of training camp or took time off to go to Robert Kraft’s wedding last weekend?

Seahawks 19  Cards 9:  The good news is that the Cards are only 1 game out of first place in the AFC West.  The bad news is that the Cards are 2-4 for the season.  The Cards got a field goal early in the game and then recovered a fumble in the end zone for a TD late in the third quarter.  That was the extent of their scoring for the day.

Rams 24  Panthers 10:  The Rams needed a solid win and got one here.  The Rams had 360 yards on offense and held the Panthers to only 203 yards.  The Panthers led 10-7 at the half but never found the scoreboard for the balance of the game.

Eagles 26  Cowboys 17:  The Eagles have a script for games in 2022:

  • Get a lead; build that lead; take that lead into halftime.
  • Hold the lead and close out the game with running and defense.

That pretty much sums up this game against the division-rival Cowboys last week …  After playing almost perfectly for the last month or so, Cooper Rush demonstrated that he is human by throwing 3 INTs in the game.

Bills 24  Chiefs 20:  This game was a Sesame Street game brought to you by the letter “E”.  It was entertaining, exciting, engaging, … you get the idea.  Most of all, it whetted my appetite for another game between these two teams in the AFC Championship Game in late January 2023…

Chargers 19  Broncos 16 (OT):  To say both offenses “sputtered” would be very generous here. The Chargers tied the game at 16-16 with 4 minutes left to play.  Here are the results of the possessions from that point on until the Chargers won with a field goal in OT:

  • Broncos:  4 plays – – 9 yards – – PUNT
  • Chargers:  7 plays – – 19 yards – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • End of regulation and start of OT
  • Broncos:  3 plays – – 9 yards – – PUNT
  • Chargers:  3 plays – – minus-4 yards – – PUNT
  • Broncos:  3 plays – – 3 yards – – PUNT
  • Chargers:  3 plays – – 1 yards – – PUNT – – muffed by Denver recovered by LA
  • Chargers:  4 plays – – 7 yards – – FIELD GOAL.

If you add all that up, there were 27 offensive plays in about 10 minutes of game time that amassed a total of 43 yards for the two teams combined.  And that was a “prime-time game” …

 

NFL Games This Week:

 

As attractive as the college football schedule looks this weekend, that is how bleak this NFL lineup appears to be.  There are four teams off enjoying their BYE Week – – and three of the four are good teams that would have spiced up the schedule a bit:

  1. Bills: Their record is 5-1 with a league-high point differential of 95 points.
  2. Eagles:  They are the NFL’s only unbeaten team at this point of the season.
  3. Rams:  They are the reigning Super Bowl champs with a 3-3 record.
  4. Vikes:  Their record is 5-1 – – good enough for a 2-game lead in the NFC North.

The Cards beat the Saints last night 42-34 leading me to pose this question:

  • Given all the scoring and the fact that it was a 1-score game, why was I so glad to see the clock run down to zero?

The margin of victory here – plus some – came through two Pick-Six INTs by the Cards’ defense on successive possessions in the second quarter.  Even with that unusual circumstance, the game lacked excitement/energy.

Lions at Cowboys – 7 (49):  No matter what Jerry Jones says, I think the plan for Dak Prescott’s return all along was this game against the Lions who have a very porous secondary.  The Lions had last week off to try to shore things up back there but just as Rome was not built in a day, neither will the Lions’ pass defense deficiencies be resolved in a single BYE Week.  The fact that this line is only 7 points tells me that the oddsmakers are counting on both DeAndre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown to be back in action for the Lions.

Giants at Jags – 3 (42):  Sportsbooks do not stay in business for long by posting dumb lines.  Given all the hype surrounding the Giants (see above) you should wonder if there is a typo in the line shown here.  The 2-4 Jags are favored over the 5-1 Giants?  Bet the butter and egg money Maw…  The Jags’ run defense is a team strength and that is how the Giants have been winning games – – on the ground.  This game is tempting – – but I will find other games to make a selection.

Colts at Titans – 2.5 (41.5):  The Titans had last week off to prep for this division game And the Titans beat the Colts just two games ago.  A win for the titans here could give then a stranglehold on the division race with the tiebreaker in hand against the Colts.  So, call this a “must win” for the folks in Indy and they are on the road…

Falcons at Bengals – 6.5 (47):  The Falcons are perfect this year – – against the spread; the Bengals seem to be putting the pieces together in a come from behind win last week.  Could be an interesting game …

Browns at Ravens – 6.5 (45):  Is this the game where Lamar Jackson emerges from the funk he has been in for the last couple of weeks?  It is a division game and the Browns’ defense has been anything but fearsome so far in 2022.  If that does not arouse Jackson from his slumber, there may be something fundamentally wrong in Baltimore.  Meanwhile, the Browns do well when Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are running the ball well.  I think the Ravens will try to make the Browns win the game through the air this week.  I do not see this as a game that lights up the scoreboard, but I do think that Total Line is short; I’ll take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six Pack.

Bucs – 11 at Panthers (39.5):  Unless Tom Brady has another wedding to go to this evening, I have to like the Bucs here; the Panthers are a hot mess.  But I have no interest in this double-digit spread.

Packers – 4 at Commanders (41):  The Packers have lost two in a row and have looked bad doing so.  Taylor Heinicke showed last year that he can find ways to win games and he can find ways to lose games.  This game pairs two teams that have no idea how they will play “on any given Sunday”.  If you are tempted to wager on this game, play the lottery instead…

Jets at Broncos – 1 (38):  The game opened the week as a “pick ‘em game” and now the Broncos are favored even though Russell Wilson has a hamstring injury and had to deal with it in practice all week.  So, all of a sudden, his “questionable status” becomes a plus for the Broncos?  I like the Jets, but I do not like the venue for the game.  I like this game to be a defensive struggle, but that Total Line is ridiculous.

Texans at Raiders – 7 (45.5):  Neither team played last week; so, there is no “BYE Week advantage” or “BYE Week hangover” at work here.  The Raiders can run the ball with Josh Jacobs and like to run the ball; the Texans allow an average of 5.1 yards per rush attempt so far in 2022.  The game is in Las Vegas; give me the Raiders to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.

Chiefs – 2.5 at Niners (48):  This is the Game of the Week.  Both teams are tied for the lead in their division; both have serious playoff aspirations; both of them lost last week.  I’ll just watch and enjoy this one.

Seahawks at Chargers – 5 (50):  The Total Line opened the week at 52 points and has been dropping slowly all week long.  I have no explanation for that; this game should see plenty of scoring.  The Chargers have won 3 games in a row and are tied with the Chiefs for the AFC West lead – – but they have hardly looked dominant in any of those three wins.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks’ 3-3 record has them tied with the Niners and the Rams for the lead in the NFC West.  The temptation here is the OVER – – but I will resist,

(Sun Nite) Steelers at Dolphins – 7 (44.5):  Tua should be back at QB for the Dolphins meaning the Steelers’ depleted secondary should be on notice.  Having said that, the Steelers’ defense played excellently last week against the Bucs.  I will use this s a “decompression game” on Sunday night so I can get a nice night’s sleep.

(Mon Nite) Bears at Pats – 8.5 (39.5):  This spread opened the week at 7 points and eased up during the week.  As noted above, Bill Belichick and George Halas are tied for second place in coaching victories in the NFL.  So, of course, this week the Pats get to play the Bears on MNF this week.  Every screenwriter in Hollywood would have that angle in his/her plot – – although lots of movie scripts would have this game played in Chicago.  The Bears have been off for 10 days, but I doubt that has been enough time to coach Justin Fields up for the defensive confusion he will face here.  For the Pats the only question is will Mac Jones start or not?  Notice, the question is not if his ankle is healed or not; the question is who will start at QB for the Pats.  Give me the Pats at home to win and cover here; put it in the Six-Pack.

So, let me review the Six-Pack:

  1. Alabama – 20 over Mississippi St.
  2. Ole Miss +3 against LSU
  3. Boise St. +3 against Air Force
  4. Browns/Ravens OVER 45
  5. Raiders – 7 over Texans
  6. Pats – 8.5 over Bears.

And here are three Money Line Parlays for imaginary $100 plays:

  • Ole Miss @ +125
  • Penn St. @ – 215
  • Miami (FL) @ – 335                            To win $338

And …

  • Jets @ – 110
  • Raiders @ – 290
  • Pats @ – 400                                      To win $221

And …

  • Commanders @ + 185
  • Raiders @ – 290
  • Pats @ – 400                                      To win $379

Finally, let me close today with an item that will explain why I like certain spectator sports more than some participatory sports:

Skiing n.  The art of catching cold and going broke while rapidly heading nowhere at great risk.”

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

 

 

Futbol, Football And $$$…

Time is counting down to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  Here in the US, the promos for the upcoming telecasts of the games have been on the air sporadically for a couple of weeks, and it seemed to me that there were more of them last weekend during the national college football game telecasts and the NFL telecasts than there had been the week before.  This should not surprise anyone because sports on TV is only about money and the FIFA World Cup is as big a global sports brand as there is.  And to give you some perspective on how big that brand is, consider this latest information:

  • The 2022 games will be held in Qatar starting on Sunday, 20 November.
  • The population of Qatar in 2020 was 2.8 million people; that is the population of the entire country, not just its capital city – – Doha.
  • As of last week, FIFA officials said that 2.9 million tickets to the 53 games that will make up this version of the World Cup Tournament had already been sold.  Think about that; the games have sold more tickets in total than there are citizens of the host country.
  • Oh, and all the tickets are not yet sold.  You can still buy into some of the games because between 200,000 and 225,000 tickets are still up for grabs.

When I read that headline, my first thought was that – at least for once – it appears as if the World Cup will be “profitable” for the host nation and that the people who live there could possibly see some material benefits from having hosted the games.  That thought was tempered just a bit as I read on and ran across these sentences:

“The demand for accommodations has caused a huge spike in prices, and landlords are pushing renters out to cash in on the surge.

“One foreign resident said that she was given a week to leave her apartment, moved to a hotel, and then to a temporary apartment.  Similar apartments might typically rent for $2,500 per month but are going for $1,700 per night with a minimum 14-night stay.”

In case the batteries in your calculator are low, that’s a lodging bill of about $24K for two weeks in Qatar to watch soccer games.  Soccer – – or futbol – – likes to present itself as a sport of the people because it does not take great wealth to be able to play the game.  That is most certainly true, but the economics that surround attendance of soccer – – or futbol – – games at the highest level of the sport do not portray it as a sport of the people.

Moving on from futbol to NFL Football here in the US.  There was an announcement earlier this week that the NFL and Amazon Prime Video were going to stage a Friday game in 2023 on Black Friday.  Of course, you see the linkage – – Black Friday and Amazon Prime.  I can imagine all the suits in both executive suites covering themselves in drool over the consummation of that deal.  So, why was I surprised to read about that proposition? Well, the answer is that I am an old fart and I remember something from the dim recesses of my memory that explains why there are no normal Friday Night Football Games involving NFL teams.

Listen up children while the resident fogey around here tries to reassemble some details from long ago when the NFL only had 12 teams and was third in popularity among US sports fans behind major league baseball and horseracing.  At some point in the 1950s, the NFL negotiated a deal with CBS to televise NFL games as a “package”.  Some folks did not like that and filed suit and won that suit.  The basis of the suit was that the deal between the league as a whole and a broadcast network was a violation of the extant anti-trust laws.  Trust me, I cannot pretend to explain the merits or faults with the arguments made in that lawsuit and I will not even try to do so here.  But that was the situation at hand in the late 1950s/early 60s.

Not to worry, sports fans; the US Congress came riding to the rescue with a bill that in legislative niceties said:

  • Notwithstanding what a previous Congress said the Nation’s anti-trust laws and how the court has interpreted that previous Congressional intent, the current Congress calls BULLSH*T on all that and specifically wants to allow the NFL and CBS to enter into this broadcast rights deal.

Now, in order to get enough Congressthings on board, there had to be some “assurances” and ”carve-outs” here and there.  It is not written directly into the new law that Congress was about to pass – – because that would make the backroom dealing far too evident and no one wanted that to happen – – but the NFL “agreed” that this package and future broadcast packages would not put the NFL in direct competition with college football games on Saturdays nor high school football games on Friday nights.  The NFL could try to be a big bully against major league baseball in September and October on weekends, but it was not going to pick on those feisty high school footballers on Friday nights or the plucky “student-athletes” who played on Saturdays.

  • Please note that the NFL only plays regularly scheduled Saturday games after the college football season is over in December and January.
  • Please note that when the NFL sought to expand its regular season footprint beyond Sunday, it chose to create Monday Night Football because that did not interfere with high school or college football scheduling at the time.
  • Please note that when the NFL sought to expand its regular season footprint beyond Sunday and Monday, it established Thursday Night Football.

So, yes, the Amazon/Black Friday football deal is a marketing bonanza for all concerned – – but it is still a bit out of the ordinary.  Black Friday probably misses most high school football regular season schedules, but it still could be seen as the camel’s nose under the tent flap.  And I suspect that the execs who concocted and finalized this deal realized that this could ruffle some feathers so this new game will be presented:

  • … as a one-off.  Black Friday happens only once a year; this is not an attempt by the NFL and Amazon to beat up on local high school football teams.
  • … as no threat to any schools who may have a final regular season game scheduled for Black Friday because kickoff for the NFL’s  “Black Friday Game” will be at 3:00 PM ET.  The game will not be a “Friday Night Football Game” anywhere in the US.

Finally, both topics today have dealt with lots of money flowing to sports enterprises that already have plenty of money.  So, let me close with this line form Irish comedian, Brendan O’Carroll, about the harder side of family economics:

“One Christmas, things were so bad in our house that I asked Santa for a yo-yo and all I got was a piece of string.  My father told me it was a yo.”

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

 

 

Predicting The Future …

There is a guy in Houston commonly known as “Mattress Mack”; he owns a chain of furniture stores, and over the past several years he has achieved sports notoriety for making very large wagers on various sporting events and using the wagers as a means to promote sales at his chain of furniture stores.  His most recent “big bet” was earlier this year when he placed a series of bets totaling $10M taking the Astros to win the World Series.  According to one report I read, he stands to win $73M if the Astros accomplish that feat.

Here is how he uses his bets to promote sales:

  • Customers who buy a minimum amount of furniture/furnishings at his stores in a specified time frame will get their money back if his bet is cashed.
  • So, if he loses his wager, there is some compensation due to increased sales at the stores.  If he wins the wager, he benefits from the increased sales but must pay off customers from his winnings on the wager.

Even though I understand the “philosophy” behind this wager/promotion concept, I must admit that when I first read about his futures wager on the Astros to be World Champions in 2022, I was a bit shocked.  I am not averse to gambling on sporting events; anyone who has read these rants for any time will surely recognize that.  However, I am not interested in betting on baseball because baseball is further out on the spectrum than “unpredictable”; baseball is often “inscrutable”.  Consider this year’s two National League Divisional Series matchups:

  1. The Phillies finished 14 games behind the Braves in the NL East and the Braves held an 11-8 advantage in head-to-head play.  Naturally, the Phillies won the best-of-five game series by a 3-1 margin simply because the Phillies scored 7, 8, and 9 runs in their three victories.  Scoring like that covers up incidental flaws such as “poor team defense” and a “shaky bullpen”.
  2. The Padres finished 22 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and the Dodgers held a 14-5 advantage in head-to-head play this year.  Naturally, the Padres won the best-of-five game series by a 3-1 margin simply because the Dodgers only found away to score a total of 7 runs in their three losses.

And serious MLB fans just shrug their shoulders at these results tossing them aside as being “just the way baseball is”.  And they are right; that is “how baseball is” and that is why I do not consider baseball as an attractive wagering situation.

Then again, I am not the owner of a chain of furniture stores with a net worth of several hundred million dollars – – like “Mattress Mack”.  Good luck to him on his wager.  So far, the Astros have done their job for him ousting the Mariners 3 games to none in one of the American League Divisional Playoff rounds.  The Astros will play the winner of the Yankees/Guardians series that will finish up today – – weather permitting.

Changing subjects … During the NFL off-season, there were 5 “major” QB moves in the league that have not even begun to bear fruit so far in 2022:

  1. Baker Mayfield:  He became expendable when the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson and his contract was too much for the club to carry as a back-up/ fill-in for Watson.  The Browns got a “conditional fifth-round pick” for Mayfield from the Panthers – – so he did not cost much.  And that is about the best you can say about that QB acquisition because the Panthers’ offense has been miserable, and that unit basically got Coach Matt Rhule fired last week.
  2. Matt Ryan:  He was a slightly more costly acquisition than Mayfield; Ryan cost the Colts a third-round pick in 2023.  However, Ryan got off to a rocky start in Indy at best.  His most notable stat through the first 5 games was that he had fumbled 11 times in those 5 games.  At that pace, Ryan would fumble 37 times in a 17-game season and the season record for “fumbles by a QB” is only 23.  The Colts have played 4 division games out of their first 6 games and have a 1-2-1 record in those games; acquiring Matt Ryan was supposed to allow the Colts to dominate their division…
  3. Mitchell Trubisky:  He did not cost the Steelers any draft capital; he just cost them a 2-year deal worth less than $20M.  Nevertheless, Trubisky was benched after only 4 games as the starter when the Steelers’ offense was effectively AWOL for those first 4 games.  There are some reports that Trubisky and one of the Steelers’ WRs got into a shouting match at halftime of the game where Trubisky was benched.  I have no idea if that happened but if Trubisky had a QB Rating of 120 and the Steelers’ offense was blowing folks out of the water, then that putative shouting match would not have happened.
  4. Carson Wentz:  The Commanders paid a third-round pick in the 2022 draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2023 draft to acquire Wentz.  This is good news and bad news.  The good news is that Wentz is the best QB the Commanders have had on the roster since Kirk Cousins left town and maybe for even longer than that.  The bad news is that statement is damning by faint praise because the Commanders’ QB situation has been a hot mess for as long as 45 years now.  Commanders’ fans will now get their wish and see Wentz on the sidelines as he just had surgery for a broken finger and will be out a while.  Welcome back, Taylor Heinicke…
  5. Russell Wilson:  He cost the Broncos a ton – – 3 NFL quality players, two first round picks and two second round picks.  Through 6 games, the Broncos are 2-4 and they have only scored 91 points in those 6 games.  [Aside:  Only the Texans have scored fewer than 91 points.]  Wilson looks confused and hesitant in his new environs and with his new offense.  If that is simply an issue of his “learning curve” then things will be fine in Denver; if there is something else at work here, this could be very bad news for Broncos’ fans.

            Finally, since today’s rant has been about the successes and the failures in trying to predict the future, let me close with this observation from the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu:

“Those who have knowledge don’t predict; those who predict don’t have knowledge.”

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

 

 

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:

“Steak.”

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