How wonderful is the world of sports?
Just think, each and every week there are topics galore to discuss.
For those who remember Howard Cosell, the polarizing broadcaster on ABC, he had a description for sports I loved.
He called it the “toy department of life”.
Obviously, times change. As we’ve seen, it’s not only about fun and games anymore. I am aware of the issues that surround and permeate sports. I am not a Pollyanna, but I enjoy delving into the actual games more than turning my space into an ultra-serious pulpit.
There will be times, to be sure, to discuss them, but for the most part, this week isn’t one of them.
So let’s begin. And we begin with the World Series.
Let me say that the first thing I liked about the World Series were the uniforms.
I’m not kidding.
Having expressed my disdain for the softball-style uniforms many teams now wear, I love the traditional garb worn by the Astros and Dodgers in what has been a classic Series.
Remember last year?
Both the Cubs and the Indians wore blue jerseys throughout most of the Series, a common sight in today’s baseball.
But this October, we’re seeing the Dodgers, in their long-time white home, and blue-gray road threads with the familiar royal blue script-lettering
and red numbers.
They’ve worn those forever.
But how about the Astros?
Uniforms out of the 1950’s. White at home, gray on the road. Simple block letters. Astros at home, Houston on the road.
Navy trimmed with orange. With orange piping. A throwback to another time.
What’s wrong with that?
When I saw Ohio State wearing all gray uniforms in their game against Penn State instead of their time-honored scarlet jerseys, I couldn’t believe it.
I know gray is one of the Buckeyes colors, but not their principal color. I mean, we’re talking about the colors of a university!
The ones we’ve seen for ages. But I digress.
This World Series was exciting, it was thrilling, it was unpredictable. You fill in the adjective.
If you’ve been reading my views on baseball, you have seen my mantra on how pitching is, as always, the name of the game.
Pitching did indeed prove to be the ultimate factor.
But how about the two games that were about bashing the ball.
Game 2 in L.A. when a record number eight home runs were hit in the Astros 7-6 11-inning thriller to tie the Series 1-all.
You would have thought nothing would top that game. You would have been wrong.
In Game 5, the Astros, trailing Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw 4-0 in the fourth inning cashed in with four runs to tie the contest.
Both teams tallied 3 times in the fifth, and when Houston scored four more in the seventh to lead by three it looked like the comeback was complete.
Not by a longshot.
The Dodgers scored three runs in the ninth to send the pivotal game into extra innings once again.
The Astros won it with a run in the bottom of the 10th. Seven home runs cleared the fences. Houston took a 3-2 Series lead in breath-taking fashion.
The rest is history.
One sour note. In in the second inning of the second game, Yuli Gurriel of the Astros homered off Yu Darvish, the half-Japanese Dodger right-hander. Gurriel then flashed a racial slur aimed at the Asian pitcher.
A bad moment.
Like you, I wondered, why can’t a professional athlete, playing in the greatest arena his sport can offer, appreciate, savor, enjoy, and simply be proud
of an achievement that he’d be remembered for?
Instead, he’ll be remembered for something else. He’ll regret it, long after his five-game suspension at the start of next season. A suspension, which should have been imposed immediately.
Still running around the bases on another subject. The recent firings of baseball managers.
Most of them, surprisingly, managers of teams which had successful seasons. Teams reaching the playoffs.
Three to be exact. John Farrell of the AL East champion Red Sox, Dusty Baker of the NL East champion Nationals, and maybe the most shocking,
Joe Girardi of the Yankees, who not only had a fine campaign and earned a wild-card berth in the AL playoffs, but rallied from an 0-2 deficit to beat the 102-win Cleveland Indians, last year’s league champion in a deciding fifth game.
But Girardi was axed and that opened the floodgates of speculation.
I have no answer, other than what I know following all sports closely for five decades.
No one really knows what goes on in an organization better than those who are there every day and run it.
To many fans, decisions are hard to fathom in many cases. It’s a terrific pastime. Sports wouldn’t be the same without fans second-guessing. It’s part of the charm.
But those who run clubs, from the owner on down, see things we don’t necessarily see. They are aware of the big picture. They see the big plan. They make evaluations and make what are, at times, hard decisions. Are they always right?
We know full well they are not. But they make them based on their judgment as to what is best for their organization. We can only hope their judgment is the right one.
The star quarterback of the NFL season is Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles. Wentz was the second player chosen in the 2016 draft after the Eagles traded-up so they could acquire what they hoped would be a franchise QB. The Rams had the first choice and picked Jared Goff. After a dismal rookie year, Goff has made considerable strides and the Rams are flourishing.
But Wentz has been truly remarkable.
He has thrown a franchise-best 19 touchdowns through the first eight games which is only part of the story.
At 6-5 240 pounds, Wentz has proven to be a runner with decent speed when he needs to use his legs. His leadership qualities and ability to think on his feet and use imagination in executing plays is almost unthinkable for a second-year player.
He has guided the Eagles to the best record in the league at 7-1, and while he will have his rocky moments before the year is out, he is, what the Eagles hoped he would be.
A franchise quarterback is a must for any team with Super Bowl aspirations.
A franchise quarterback is defined, by this reporter, as a leader who can bring a team down the field in the final moments to either tie or win a game.
A QB who a team can count on for several years or more. A player who opponents fear.
It also may be Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans. The Texans traded up, ahead of the New Orleans Saints to get Watson. The former Clemson quarterback who has been a gem.
The Bears did the same, trading up ahead of the 49ers for Mitch Trubisky. A move which should prove valuable for Chicago in the years to come.
Having gone unnoticed was the Chiefs, also making a trade to move up to draft Pat Mahomes who hasn’t played but whose performance in practice has drawn rave reviews from the organization which is leading the pack in the AFC West under veteran Alex Smith.
The point here, is that the teams who have been alert to make a move to obtain a signal-caller they can rely on for years, have jumped ahead of the pack.
It’s about organizations who are able to identify talent at the most important position on a team and doing what they need to get them.
This past week was an off-week for the Syracuse University football team.
They face Florida State on the road Saturday.
Who would have ever predicted the Orange would have double the wins of the Seminoles going in?
But that’s the story. SU is 4-4, FSU is 2-5.
Syracuse needs two more victories, it is assumed, to earn a Bowl bid. The record doesn’t really indicate how exciting and competitive the Orange have been this season.
The stunning victory over then second-ranked and defending national champ Clemson, the valiant battle on the road against unbeaten Miami, and
even the effort against disappointing LSU in Baton Rouge, show huge progress for Dino Babers’ crew. It’s an exciting team, sparked by tough QB Eric Dungey, who symbolizes Syracuse’s resilience, deserving of a Bowl appearance.
Perhaps the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. We’ll see.
I guess I bleed Orange!
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