Weekend Odds ‘N Ends

Sports Equinox: For one of the few times in history, at 8:45 this past Sunday night, all four professional sports leagues were in action. Passes were being thrown, free throws were being taken, hockey pucks were flying and outfielders were catching fly balls. It was sports nirvana.

Former baseball greats Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas could present the national news at 6:30 every night so polished are they as evidenced by their talking head roles on the World Series telecasts. Not so Pete Rose, an angry, aging visage above a goofy bow tie.

The NFL was selling football to Europe and England bought in big time. Cheering every five-yard gain as if it were a soccer goal, they showed the world that American football should cross the pond sooner rather than later. Packed stadiums the past two weeks over there should hasten expansion.

On the biggest stage it has had in years, baseball still couldn’t top NFL Sunday. Baseball is best appreciated in person where the pastoral setting and slow, sometimes painfully slow, action unravels. Save bars in Chicago and Cleveland, few groups of fans gathered to cheer. It is simply the nature of the game that it is best enjoyed while conversing with another. So shall it remain, challenging futilely the speed, excitement and fervor that football, hockey and basketball provide.

Bill Murray singing a seventh-inning stretch “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” channeling Donald Duck, just isn’t going to fly.

The Oakland Raiders’ Derek Carr was 10 of 13 in overtime, dragging in the ancient leg of Sebastian Janikowski to go wide twice on field goal attempts, before finally finishing off the Bucs with a touchdown pass. Five of the record setting twenty-three Oakland penalties occurred during that extra period. Meanwhile, the Bucs went three-and-out on their three possessions in overtime.

Quick takes on talking heads: Terry Bradshaw is funny. Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless are poorly paired. John Lynch is informed and polished. John Smoltz has a low-keyed approach perfect for baseball. Joe Buck and Steve Albert, through parentage, bespeak entitlement. Baseball managers Joe Maddon and Terry Francona are the real deal, cerebral and in control, unlike football coaches who have seven assistant coaches babbling on every play. Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and  Michael Strahan are polite and never talk over each other.

Matt Ryan was nine-of-ten passing in Atlanta’s final drive to beat Green Bay with a touchdown pass with :31 seconds left. That is superb leadership. Just prior to that, Aaron Rodgers had driven the Packers the length of the field to take the lead. The cameras caught Rodgers’ look of despair when Atlanta scored, sending him back on the field to an impossible mission.

Aroldis Chapman, consistently throwing 100 mph, was unbelievable in getting the last eight outs in relief for the Cubs. Maddon played poker with his closer coming in so early but Joe came up aces.

Maddon has proven he is among the best managers of recent years but in taking that chance on Chapman, he also showed great confidence. The move he and general manager Theo Epstein made in getting Chapman from the Yankees mid-season really paid off.

11 responses to “Weekend Odds ‘N Ends

  1. My thoughts on your thoughts: Agree on 1. Arod, Thomas, and Rose. I wish Pete would just go away. 2. Speaking of go away, Bill Murray is another that should disappear, his act on sports, baseball and golf, has become tiring. 3. And go away and never come back, that is you, Joe Buck, he is literally the single worst national announcer of all time, its all about Joe. His constant yapping and setting up his lines for the result is beyond annoying. (And, while you’re headed out the door, Joe, take Doc Emeric with you). Disagree on 1. football in Europe. While the one or two games are exciting over there, there are too many obstacles and not enough consistent interest for this to happen in the near term, maybe 15-20 yrs from now, but not sooner. 2. Madden. While he is a terrific manager, I think Terry is his equal. Game is tonite, my heart is with Cleveland, but I think the Cubs will win.

  2. Paul, it looks like we mostly agree. Best
    Holiday wishes. Coach

  3. Robert Chambers

    Hey Coach, sports nirvana for sure on Sunday night. Madden and Francona show how it is done with support above and below. What a series for a baseball fan. I for one believed in the curse of the Bambino but I did not buy into any of Chicago’s pleas for attention. I did feel for them as that was one heck of a drought that is now behind them and all baseball fans. I am on the fence about football in Europe. Football there have been some good games and some you scratch your head or at least I do. And how about the fact that there have been 2 ties. I’d like to see the Vegas odds on that line.

    • I think football would do well in Europe
      because the fans over there would
      embrace more scoring. I don’t buy
      the tie game rules. Play the games out
      like all the other sports.

  4. Red Sox fans, like me, the Bambino curse had traction because the rivalry, for many yrs, (its sort of dimmed since 2013 but will come back) is the best in baseball, if not all pro sports. While the Cubs were always the cute favorites, the lovable losers, the goat thing was a joke-the team just plain sucked for a long time-the Sox, while they did not win a world series, were in it, several times, and close others. Great players as individuals, Banks, Williams,Sandberg, Santo, et al, bad teams. The drought is over, but like what happened here in Boston, new challenges, now that there is victory, losing will no longer be acceptable. Trust me. PS RIP, Mike Royko, one of Chi’s best.

    • Better 1950-2000 Yankee teams
      did in Bosox hopes for too long. I always
      thought day baseball only in bandbox
      Wrigley hurt Cubs. Money, attendance,
      stars, etc. Epstein is the template for
      superior baseball from here on out.
      Greatest game seven ever! Sorry, Maz!

      • Best game seven ever? And you live in MN!!!!!! Was it not a 10th inning walk off hit by a guy named, believe it or not, Larkin, that won the game 1-0, in the best world series ever????!!!!!???? Just my opinion.

  5. Frank Brennan

    Chapman should never have been used in Game 6, Coach!

    • I agrer, Frank, re: using Chambers in game
      six. It’s tough to second guess Maddon
      because he is almost always right.
      Fantastic series, though, with the best
      game seven ever.

  6. Paul, if we are talking family here, I’ll take Pee-Wee Reese throwing out the last batter when the Dodgers finally beat the hated Yankees in the 1955 World Series.

  7. Speaking of odd weekends, Saturday was the first time since 1985 that the second, third and fourth ranked countries in the nation all lost in the same day.