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).

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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.

Playoff Controversies: MLB postseason 2018 edition

Two weeks ago on TSN1040, I mentioned that it’s possible – perhaps not likely – but certainly possible that a manager on a playoff team could get fired if his team performs poorly in the postseason.

We’ve seen it before with Grady Little, most notably, being let go after his 2003 Red Sox blew a Game Seven lead at Yankee Stadium in the ALCS. In 2017, it was Joe Girardi who was heavily criticized in Game Two of the ALDS after he failed to challenge a hit-by-pitch call that changed the momentum of the game against Cleveland. (The Yankees fell 2-0 but stormed back to win the next three and moved into the ALCS, where they lost to Houston in seven.)

Let’s look at this year. Again, I’m not saying anyone deserves to be fired or should be fired. I’m not predicting that they will. But look at how the Indians again went out in the first round. And the way they did it this time around – getting swept 3-0 by Houston and getting blown out in the finale – does at least deserve the question to be asked.

Tonight is the fourth game of the Yankees-Red Sox ALDS. And what happened on Monday night at Yankee Stadium? New York lost 16-1 and there was controversy about Luis Severino’s warmups. Two former players (now broadcasters) raised questions about Severino not having enough time to warm up prior to the game. Now, this is New York, where fans expect the Yankees to win the World Series every year. To lose a big game like that – the worst loss in Yankees postseason history – and to have such a controversy… don’t you at least raise the question about who might lose his or their jobs?

So, going to the playoffs doesn’t mean people’s jobs are safe. You have to go out and be ready, be competitive, and basically win.

Just my two cents.


Ahhh… playoff baseball. Boston, as of now, is ahead 2-1 in the Division Series and now people are saying the Yankees are done.

Interestingly, when David Price struggled for the Red Sox in Game Two, people were saying the Red Sox were dead.

It just goes to show how momentum changes in a short series like that, often from game to game. …


And, speaking of managers losing their jobs… Jason Garrett has been heavily criticized for the decision to punt on 4th-and-1 in overtime on the Houston 42-yard line. I mean, this is what I’ve been talking about… People could lose jobs over decisions that are regarded as the “wrong” ones in big games.

Speaking of big games, what a big night for Drew Brees. He has been such a class act. Breaking the all-time passing yards record on Monday Night Football… Unfortunately, there are analysts who refuse to put Brees on their list of Top 5 QBs of all-time, citing the fact that he has never been regarded as the top signal caller of his era the way other top guys have been or were.

But Brees has definitely been one of the best and what a great NFL moment on Monday night…

NFL: The 4th-and-1 controversy on SNF

Regarding the Dallas Cowboys’ decision to punt on 4th-and-1 in overtime against the Houston Texans… a decision that Cowboys owner has questioned publicly…..

…you gotta love the passion shown during the ESPN panel discussion, but I personally thought the use of the words “cowards” and “gutless” was a bit over the top.

Lots of drama in the NFL in recent days, whether it’s the New York Giants (Odell Beckham Jr.’s candid ESPN interview about his team and QB Eli Manning) or the Green Bay Packers (with QB Aaron Rodgers seemingly questioning his coaching staff’s conservative play calls)…

Why insult people…?

I’ve been listening to ESPN Radio the last couple days and during commercial breaks they have this Stephen A. Smith promo where Smith is blasting Dallas Cowboys COO/Executive VP/Director of player personnel Stephen Jones (and also owner Jerry Jones).

Smith calls Stephen Jones “irrelevant” in his rant during his show promo because Jones had apparently referred to Hall of Fame and former Dallas pivot Troy Aikman as an “armchair quarterback.” In that promo, there was also a reference to Jones having a silver spoon… just basically personal attacks.

I get it if a radio or TV personality is hyping his show or whatever, but to take personal shots, make personal attacks on another human being? Calling him “irrelevant”? That’s gutless.

Stats and numbers that don’t make sense…

Recently overheard in a break room: “Pretty soon, all Canadians will be homeless because nobody will be able to afford to pay rent.”

Uhm, no, I don’t think so. I didn’t argue with the guy, though. No point. If someone is that negative, there’s nothing you can say that will change his or her mind.

THIS guy, meanwhile, is seen almost daily outside Renfrew SkyTrain Station asking people for money to feed his brother and him. It’s always, “Hey. Hey. Can you spare some change for me and my brother so we can get food?” Always. The same thing. Almost every day, if not every single day (literally).

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I am sure I am not the only one, but I don’t feel sorry for him. I’ve heard others tell him (nicely) to go find a job instead of asking people for money.

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Moving on to sports… I just learned this week that in some places, it’s legal to start gambling when you’re as young as 12 years old!

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this – but there was the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach talking about how he hasn’t watched a Super Bowl – live or on tape – since he was allowed to bet on the sport (ie. when he wasn’t a coach at any level yet)… and proceeded to throw out the number 12 in terms of age. I would think he was exaggerating about that part, though I guess I believe he hasn’t watched a Super Bowl for many years.

And who are those people talking about the Ravens defense? They allowed the Bengals’ Andy Dalton to throw for four TD passes in the first half on Thursday Night Football in Week 2!

Then there’s also the NFL Power Rankings by ESPN.com… some head-scratchers on this one… The Jets blew out the Lions in Week 1 while the Giants lost their game… and yet the Giants (#25) are ahead of the Jets (#26) on the rankings? The Titans (#22) are ahead of the team they lost to – the Dolphins (#24) – for crying out loud! There were others, but those ones were the ones that jumped out…

Finally, the Red Sox in MLB reached 100 wins this week – the first time the franchise has reached that mark since 1946… Wow… That’s a long time. Prior to being a writer, I rooted for the Red Sox. But THAT is woeful. Of course, if they don’t win the Series this year, the season will be regarded as a failure.. .We shall see.

 

People who can’t change…

Redskins’ sources say the coach personally broke down the game tape with the quarterback. When they were finished assessing the Chargers game, George told the coach that he played as well as he can possibly play.

Chris Mortensen on ESPN.com in 2001

This is a blast from the past. When it happened, I was upset that then-Washington coach Marty Schottenheimer didn’t give Jeff George another chance. George had a great arm, I thought. He was way better than plenty of starters in the NFL, I thought. Why not give him another shot? Why didn’t anybody else give him another chance?

Now, as a teacher, I know. Sometimes, some people are uncoachable. Now, I’m not saying that George was like that. The stories penned by many football journalists implied that, including the one above. I don’t know George or anyone involved personally, nor have I talked to any of them. That’s what’s been suggested or implied based on what writers have written.

I had this student. Let’s call him Shawn.*

*The name has been changed to protect the student’s identity. 

I would tell Shawn, “All right, Shawn. Make sure you come on time moving forward. Class starts at 9:00, not 9:09.” His response? “I’m trying my best already,” he would retort. No, it’s not a traffic thing or commute issue. He lived about eight minutes away on foot. However, he chose to wake up every morning at 8:55, change, and rush to school.

He never brushed his teeth – it was obvious. You could smell it standing close to him.

I explained to him that you have to develop a good habit, wake up early, as it affects your future career, etc. It was in one ear, out the other. Now, I’m not talking about a child or teenager here. The guy was 26 years old.

“I’m teaching you to develop strong habits,” I would say.

“I have 10 minutes to be here. I don’t need to be here at 9:00,” he would say, referring to the school’s rule of allowing students a 10-minute window to arrive because of traffic. The 10-minute window is not for people who are lazy. And Shawn was exploiting the rule due to his laziness.

I would tell him to create a title and double-space anything that was to be handed in. I would remind the class every time. I even had a package that I handed out detailing examples of this. Every time he handed in his assignment, those two things were “forgotten.”

Now, we’re not talking about a learning disability. Shawn simply didn’t care. And it doesn’t matter how patient you are, his stubbornness was something he refused to change.

When he received a low grade for the term, he was “angry,” (his words). He thought that if he paid, he was a customer and should receive royal treatment.

The more I taught Shawn, the more I thought about the football example.

Then I realized… it’s true. Some people, unfortunately, can’t be coached. In life, that’s just the way it is.

The Talk-Show Host who Flatters Himself Strikes Again…

Okay, previously, I’d mentioned a talk-show host who flattered himself by comparing his “streak” to MLB legend Cal Ripken’s iron-man streak.

Last night, I woke up to check on something, and I turned on the radio at that time. I heard that same host say something like this:

Every man who watches the cheerleaders on the Jumbotron thinks about which one he wants to sleep with…

And he said he “know(s)” this because his own wife was a former cheerleader and that was the one he knew he wanted to sleep with.

Seriously, people can just say whatever they want on the radio? He’s the same guy who also said that “nobody watches hockey anyway” when that’s not true either.

Okay, based on his latest comment (the one that I heard anyway – who knows how many more of these unacceptable comments he makes on a nightly basis???), I would say he’s a chauvinistic pig, one who gives other men a bad name.

So, he thinks he’s qualified to speak for “Every man”? That is rich….