And once again, how about those so-called experts…

Well, I remember after Week 2 of the NFL season, all those so-called experts thought that the Pittsburgh Steelers, 0-1-1 at the time, were done. Now, after Sunday’s comeback win over Jacksonville, Pittsburgh is the No. 2 seed in the AFC….

I still like New England in the AFC, and hope that it will be a Patriots-Saints Super Bowl and we’ll get to see Brady vs. Brees… but we shall see.

And speaking of those Saints, they lost the season opener to Tampa Bay, and now haven’t lost since, winning nine straight. And kudos to those who said that “Fitz Magic” – the superb play of Ryan Fitzpatrick – wouldn’t last. That one, I think, was an obvious one, and he’s struggled over the past few weeks. I mean, remember when Buffalo gave him that big contract all those years ago after he’d led the Bills to a winning record in the first half of the season? As I keep telling everyone, for those on the band wagon of a surprise team that starts out on fire, there’s always a second half of the season to play…

And the Dallas Cowboys… it seems a LOT of people in the media want them to fail. A few weeks ago, they were “dead” after losing to the Houston Texans in overtime. Now, they’re a game back of first-place Washington, with the two teams playing on Thanksgiving Thursday with the division on the line. Alex Smith, hurt on Sunday, is done for the season. Colt McCoy is in for the Redskins… that means Dallas has a shot.

I still think the Redskins can pull it off, and then if they go on to beat Philadelphia 11 days after that, they would have eight wins, which would essentially wrap up the NFC East … seeing that Dallas would be too far back and have no tie-breaker…

But man, the Cowboys are still in it. You know that the “haters” in the media will say this week that Dallas will find a way to choke… Fun times!

Advertisements

WHO are you… and what kind of role model are you again?

So, there’s a James Sutton out there who’s a European actor… and an “ambassador” to a child abuse organization.

Look, I don’t care if this Sutton fellow is famous and an “ambassador” to anything… How can one take him seriously when he’s using highly-inappropriate words on social media?

Who the heck is James Sutton – and what kind of role model is he to young boys or kids in general? These are the types of “celebrities” who get away with saying whatever they want and not suffer consequences. That’s pretty gutless, first off, for using words like that.

Maybe people like him should be getting off social media and spending more time doing focusing on their “ambassador” roles instead?

IMG_0032IMG_0033

Things we saw in October…

The NFL is a week-to-week thing… every week has a new narrative. Remember how after the first two weeks of the 2018 season, when Pittsburgh began 0-1-1? Many of those analysts were predicting gloom and doom for the Steelers. Well, going into their huge AFC North matchup today in Baltimore, the Steelers are sitting atop the division at 4-2-1, just ahead of Cincinnati (5-3).

The Browns, who at 2-5-1 are at the bottom of the division, are who we thought they were…

Speaking of slow starts, wow – the Lakers’ Magic Johnson makes George Steinbrenner look like a saint… With the Lakers beginning slowly at 2-5, Johnson has apparently lost patience with coach Luke Walton. I mean, c’mon, the Lakers aren’t expected to be legitimate contenders and it’s early in the season….  Yes, I saw Magic play during his NBA career, but as an executive or fan, he’s not that great. He was the one cheering for Mike D’Antoni to be fired from the Lakers years earlier, wasn’t he? That’s exactly my point. Magic was a great player, but as an observer/fan/executive, he strikes me as a guy who just isn’t patient.

Ahhh.. Steve Pearce. World Series MVP. I’m sure throughout the summer, the buzz in Toronto (and the rest of Canada where Blue Jays fans reside) was something like, “What can the Blue Jays get for Josh Donaldson?” and “Donaldson will make a contending team a winner,” etc.

I was on TSN1040 during the summer, suggesting that teams that win the World Series, traditionally, have had under-the-radar pickups more often than those big mid-season acquisitions. For 2018, I was looking at Tyler Clippard, John Axford, Seunghwan Oh, etc. as possible difference makers. Maybe even a guy like Curtis Granderson. Okay, I was wrong. It turned out the biggest difference maker was Steve Pearce!! He had a hot few games and wound up helping the Red Sox win the World Series.

Man, it must be painful for those Blue Jays fans… they must have been rooting for Cleveland, with Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion being the two former Jays in the Indians lineup. Instead, it was David Price (who failed to deliver in the playoffs for Toronto) and Steve Pearce with their AL East rivals!!

Again, don’t trade within the division (ie. Toronto trading Pearce to Boston). It might make your fans cry in October…

Anytime someone brings up the need for a team to pick up a big name at the trade deadline to put itself over the top, I will just bring up two words. Steve Pearce.

Back to the NFL – an intriguing matchup on Sunday night with Green Bay vs. New England. Hours before that, Rams vs. Saints in what could be a potential NFC Championship Game matchup. The dream matchup would be a Patriots-Saints Super Bowl. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Vindication…

On TSN1040 weeks earlier, I mentioned that a playoff team might fire its manager if that ballclub underachieves in the postseason… I mean, it would be possible that a manager was fired despite leading his team to the playoffs – it’s happened before (Grady Little, Joe Girardi, John Farrell, and if we want to go back further, Casey Stengel, etc.)…

When I made that comment, people were rolling their eyes. But hey, look at Game Four of the 2018 World Series, where it’s now 9-6 for the Red Sox in the bottom of the ninth.

Tough questions have to be asked about Dave Roberts, manager of the Dodgers. They were up 4-0 after six innings with a dominant Rich Hill, who up to that point was throwing a one-hitter. He was pulled after 91 pitches.

With the score 4-3, Kenley Jansen, who had given up the game-tying homer in the eighth inning one night earlier, was brought back out for the eighth inning in Game Four to try and get a six-out save.

Home run. Tie game. Red Sox then scored five big runs to break the game open.

The Dodgers looked like they were going to tie the Series at 2-2 with Hill leading the way less than 24 hours after that epic 7 hour, 20 minute game…

And Roberts made at least two very questionable calls with the pitching.

So… just because you manage a team to the playoffs doesn’t mean you always make the right calls. If you make one too many, get ready to be scrutinized. Don’t forget, in the playoffs you’re facing tougher teams, not the Padres or Marlins or Mets anymore.

And I believe this is the end for the Dodgers as their window is definitely closing. It’s awfully hard to make it to the World Series three straight years….

World Series thoughts…

Game One of the 2018 World Series reminds me of the 2014 Series opener in Boston, when the Red Sox had a huge lead early but the Cardinals came back and knocked out Tim Wakefield – but the Bosox proved to be too much offensively, winning that game 11-9 in the late innings.

Those Red Sox went on to sweep the Cardinals in four straight, not trailing in any of the games.

Might we see the same script this year?

And…. the Dodgers making it back for the second year in a row…. Well, traditionally, teams that make it back to the final round after losing in recent years have done well. The notable exceptions, of course, were the Buffalo Bills of the early 1990s (four straight Super Bowl defeats) and the Atlanta Braves (in 1992 after losing in 1991).

Then, the Bruins, whom I rooted for in my youth. They were swept in 1988 by the Oilers, and then fared no better in losing to Edmonton again in five games in 1990.

Other teams seemed to have learned their lessons, and some in fact had a shot at the same teams. For instance, the 1989 Flames beat Montreal in the Finals three years after losing to the same Habs in the final round. The 1987 Flyers at least took Edmonton to a seventh game (before losing 3-1), two years after being humiliated by those same Oilers in five.

Of course, you don’t need to have made it to the final round in past years to break through. The 1996 Yankees won the World Series against Atlanta, one year after a heartbreaking loss in the division series versus Seattle. That kickstarted a dynasty for the Yankees.

The 2018 Dodgers? Having lost Game Seven in 2017 to Houston, you figure the Dodgers would win it all this year. But Boston’s offense is too strong, and I have to still say Red Sox in four.


Yes, the Dodgers-Red Sox matchup in the World Series is the first since the 1916 Classic where the Brooklyn Robins faced Babe Ruth’s Red Sox. It’d been more than 100 years since the two franchises met in the Series!

One matchup that I’ve been looking forward to – and predicting every year since 2010 – but never coming true… Drew Brees vs. Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. It was close in 2011, when Brees’s 13-3 Saints somehow lost a tie-breaker to 13-3 San Francisco, and New Orleans had the No. 3 seed. The Saints lost to Alex Smith in the divisional round… and the 49ers lost to the New York Giants, and we know what happened next…

And last year it was close… Hopefully, it will happen this season.

Also, talk about gutsy in the NFL over the weekend. The Tennessee Titans decided to go for two in London against the Los Angeles Chargers with under 30 seconds left instead of the game-tying PAT. Going for two to win the game – as opposed to settling for the tie to force OT – has been discussed in the media as being a good strategy. But I was surprised to see them pass it for the two-point conversion instead of trying to run it in.

QB Marcus Mariota could have run it in. Or have RB Dion Lewis, who’d had a terrific 36-yard run during that scoring drive that took the Titans from their own territory into Chargers territory.

It’s good to see QB Philip Rivers and his Chargers improve to 5-2. He’s played for some bad Charger teams in recent years. Hopefully, he can get the Chargers into the playoffs and knock off somebody like Kansas City (before losing to New England, of course).

IMG_8549.JPG

And the New York Giants – on Monday Night Football – going for two with under five minutes remaining and down by eight. Yikes. That one didn’t work out – and anyway, the Falcons added a late field goal. But coaches are getting gutsy going for two in clutch situations.

2018 ALCS: “Just well enough” and “effective enough”?

Okay, so a guy gives up four runs in the first three innings of a playoff start. After a 1-2-3 fourth inning, he walks two batters in the fifth and gets pulled.

THAT is being referred to as the guy pitching “just well enough” and “effective enough” for his team?

Whoa… I wonder what guys from a different era – such as Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax – would think.

And yet there it is in an article titled “David Price turns around postseason narrative in Red Sox’s Game 2 win” on ESPN.com, this pitcher was essentially praised for his performance because it evened the 2018 ALCS and was his first “team win” in 11 career postseason starts.

Yes, that guy is David Price. Here’s a little quote from that ESPN.com piece:

It was while departing in the fifth inning of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series that the Boston Red Sox starter received an ovation from appreciative fans. After 4⅔ innings of five-hit ball, the Fenway faithful recognized that although he wasn’t going to factor in the decision, Price pitched just well enough to keep his team in the ballgame. About four innings later, the Red Sox earned a 7-5 win over the Houston Astros, evening the ALCS at 1-1.

And, there’s more.

“That’s my first team win as a starter,” Price said, smiling.

That’s a big deal. Entering Sunday’s game, Price’s teams — he has pitched in the playoffs with Tampa Bay, Detroit and Toronto in his 11-year career — had gone 0-10 in the 10 career postseason starts he had made.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was by far the most consecutive losses for a pitcher’s team to start a postseason career in major league history. Vida Blue’s and Doyle Alexander’s teams went winless across each pitcher’s first six career postseason starts.

For the Red Sox on Sunday, Price was effective enough. After allowing four runs in his first three innings, he settled down for a 1-2-3 fourth.

With the Red Sox up 5-4, Price got two quick outs in the fifth, then surrendered a pair of walks. After the second walk, manager Alex Cora pulled Price from the game to the adoring affection of the fans.

But I digress.

Yes, I know the fact that Boston won changes the narrative of his performance. I would still call it “gutless,” though. I wouldn’t call it an “effective” outing by any means.