Time Out for Sports Talk: Some Pre-Thanksgiving Leftovers…
Todd: …in a column we usually refer to as ‘file maintenance’. It’s been a crazy month since we last appeared in this space, but let’s stick to sports as it’s time again to clear off the old hard drive.
Amazing that Sunday was the first (and likely last) time in Tom Brady’s 17-year NFL career that he’ll play a game in the vicinity of his childhood home, and in a nice bit of serendipity, the 199th pick of the 2000 draft earned his 199th career win, including playoffs. He needs just two more wins to pass both Peyton Manning and Brett Favre on the NFL’s all-time list.
Easy for us to keep taking Brady’s play for granted, but those touchdown passes to Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell were a thing of beauty for a guy who’s going to turn 40 next summer. Has his pocket presence and mobility actually gotten better as he gets older?
Feeling Old Alert! Remember the Joe Montana-to-Dwight Clark TD pass in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, otherwise known as ‘The Catch’? One of the fans at the old Candlestick Park on that historic day was four-year old Tom Brady. That was my freshman year of high school – yikes!
Other notes from Sunday’s win: great to see Dion Lewis back on the field and eluding tacklers again. But not great seeing the defense get even more depleted with Alan Branch’s suspension and Jabaal Sheard’s mysterious reduction in playing time.
Wonder if Sheard suddenly gets a second chance with Branch heading out on a 4-game sabbatical? And what has become of the Pats’ defense since the beginning of the season? Jones, Collins, Sheard, et al were all playmakers last year and now this unit is near the bottom of the league in forcing turnovers. Shouldn’t matter these next couple of games, but when Baltimore and Denver show up on the schedule next month, it could be an issue.
Also a potential issue – Stephen Gostkowski’s recent PAT and FG misses. Straighten out those yips, Steve – we might need you to make a big kick sometime these next couple of months.
In other sports leftovers, how about Theo Epstein? He’s not only an eventual lock to receive a plaque in Cooperstown, but he never has to buy another drink for himself, at least not when he’s in Boston or Chicago. What’s left for the 42-year old Cubs’ Head of Baseball Ops after exorcising a combined 194 years of cursed franchises? Perhaps a North Side dynasty.
Prior to the MLB postseason, the only team I wanted to root for to beat the Cubs in the World Series was the Red Sox. But then as October marched on, I found myself pulling for those pesky Cleveland Indians. Was it the Terry Francona factor? My love for the first two Major League movies? Did I want to start referring to Cleveland as the City of Champions?
Lest we forget the Tribe have their own long ‘curse’, last winning it all in 1948 with victories over the Red Sox and Boston Braves. Old-time Sox fans still lament Denny Galehouse making the start in a one-game Fenway playoff instead of Mel Parnell, who had defeated Cleveland three times that season. As a result, Boston was denied their only chance of a Subway Series.
Sixty-eight years later, Francona did an incredible job getting the Indians to the seventh game of the World Series, largely on the arms of Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller. Unfortunately both of them ran out of gas a game too early in a Game 7 that wound up as one of baseball’s most dramatic games. Sensational job by Rajai Davis playing the combined role of Dave Henderson and Bernie Carbo.
Another reason I found myself rooting for Cleveland is that the Cubs should wind up winning another title or two with their great young nucleus of players. But the Indians have a few more budgetary constraints and even with their young stars are not a lock to keep up their winning ways in the long term.
On the Red Sox front, I thought Mookie Betts was more deserving of AL MVP than Rick Porcello was of winning the Cy Young. But Mookie should get a few more opportunities down the road, while I doubt Porcello is going to have another 22-win season.
Thought for Dave Dombrowski: would he consider trading for soon-to-be 34-year old Justin Verlander to head up the Sox’ 2017 starting rotation? It would be a hefty contract to take on ($84M owed the next three seasons), but it may do wonders for both Porcello and David Price not having to face the pressure of the being the ace of the staff. I also realize after typing the previous sentence that it doesn’t say much that RP & DP are already being paid a combined $51M annually and have issues performing under the brightest lights.
Let’s wrap up with a brief Pats-Jets score: Patriots 27, Jets 13 in a game that will mean little, regardless of how well or how poorly the Pats perform. Ryan Fitzpatrick starts over Bryce Petty this week, but should that even matter?
For those reading this, have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday filled with plenty of food, family, friends and football!
Mike: Wow, all that talk, and no mention of the biggest sports story of the past week??
Yes, after over decade away from the ring, the legendary Goldberg returned to the ring at WWE Survivor Series 2016 to take on "The Beast Incarnate" Brock Lesnar, and destroyed him in less than an minute-and-a-half in the shocker of the year!
Here it is...
Hey, what the heck, here's Goldberg's epic entrance into the ring...
But that isn't all the big sports news. Last night (11/22) on Smackdown Live there was another huge upset, James Ellsworth shocked WWE champion AJ Styles in a ladder match, hitting him with "No Chin Music" to win a WWE contract, proving "any man with two hands has a fighting chance."
Oh, I guess I need to pick a Pats score as well...I can't see the Jets standing much of a chance as the Pats continue to roll through the AFC East...Pats win 41-17.
Have an awesome Thanksgiving everyone!
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