Category Archives: Major League Baseball
In approximately 10 hours, give or take, the Milwaukee Bucks will either be (a) National Basketball Association champions for the first time in 50 years, or (b) getting ready to fly to Phoenix for a seventh game vs. the Suns on their home court.
The Bucks haven’t been in this position since Mother’s Day 1974.
That was the date of the seventh game of the 1974 championship series, with the Bucks hosting the Celtics at the MECCA, the franchise’s first home.
The series didn’t lack for star power. Milwaukee had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and Bob Dandridge, plus original Buck John McGlocklin. Boston featured Dave Cowens, JoJo White, future Bucks coach Don Nelson and the ageless John Havlicek.
At this time, the Bucks were in the Western Conference, where they remained until the Mavericks came into the NBA in the 1980-81 season.
Boston won 68 games during the 1972-73 season, one shy of the record set by the Lakers two years prior, but choked in the Eastern Conference finals, losing in five to the Knicks, who went on to defeat the Lakers for their second title in four seasons.
Milwaukee won 66 games in 1970-71, its third season. The Bucks had little trouble in the playoffs, ousting the Warriors and Lakers in five apiece, then sweeping the Baltimore Bullets to set the record for shortest time from first game to championship.
Through the first six games in 1974, Milwaukee and Boston alternated wins, with the Celtics claiming the odd-numbered games and the Bucks the evens.
In the sixth game, Milwaukee kept its season alive when Kareem arched a 12-foot sky hook from the right baseline over reserve Boston center Hank Finkel, forced into action in the second overtime when Hall of Famer Dave Cowens fouled out. The Bucks prevailed 102-101.
Little did anyone know the Bucks would not win another game in the NBA championship series for 47 years and two months.
In what myself and Bill Franques call the Mother’s Day Meltdown, the Celtics won the deciding game 102-87.
Boston won titles in 1976, ‘81, ‘84, ‘86 and 2008 to go along with the 11 it won in 13 seasons from 1957-69.
Milwaukee took a nosedive the two seasons following, thanks to Oscar’s retirement and the trade of Kareem to the Lakers. The Bucks moved to the Eastern Conference with Dallas’ entrance and were a consistent playoff team, but were thwarted by the 76ers and Celtics, eliminated by one or the other every year from 1981 through ‘87.
By the mid-1990s, the Bucks were as wretched as the Clippers, Nuggets and other perennial losers. There was one brief moment of glory, a run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001, but for 25 years, basketball in Milwaukee was a distant third to the Packers and Brewers, and sometimes behind the Wisconsin Badgers as well.
Things got so bad for Milwaukee that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver gave the Bucks an ultimatum: build a new arena or lose your team. The good people of Wisconsin got the message, the Fiserv Forum was built, and now the Bucks are one win away from the title.
Speaking of the Brewers, I’m reminded of them as the Bucks prepare for what could be their championship moment.
In the 1982 World Series, Milwaukee held a 3-2 advantage over St. Louis after taking two of three at County Stadium. The Brewers, powered by Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, had proven they could win at Busch Stadium, as evidenced by their 10-0 rout in the first game.
October 19, 1982 was supposed to be the night Harvey’s Wallbangers were coronated as Milwaukee’s first baseball champion since the 1957 Braves.
Instead, the Cardinals crushed the Brewers 13-1, then won the next night 6-3.
Milwaukee did not return to the postseason until 2008, ten years after it moved from the American League to the National. The Brewers reached the NLCS in 2011 and ‘18, but have yet to get back to the final round. If the Brewers can find some offense to go along with their pitching, 2021 might be the year.
The Bucks need to take care of business tonight. No goofing off. No taking the chance on a game seven on an enemy court. Get it done.
The good news is the Suns’ history in this situation is not promising.
In its two previous appearances in the final round, Phoenix lost game six and the series, to the Celtics in 1976 and the Bulls in ‘93. The 1976 series featured the famous triple-overtime game five, voted by many experts as the greatest in NBA history.
Both of those games were in Arizona, so you have to hope the chances are even better of it happening in Wisconsin.
I guess I’ll be tuning in to the NBA tonight. If the Bucks lose, I definitely will NOT watch game seven. It would be too gut-wrenching.
LSU and Missouri have been together in the Southeastern Conference since 2012.
Yesterday was the first time the Bayou Bengals visited Columbia, and only the second time the purple Tigers and black Tigers faced off as conference opponents.
Blame one man. He resides in Tuscaloosa.
Nicholas Lou Saban, the head football coach at the University of Alabama, believes the world would stop spinning on its axis if the Crimson Tide did not play Tennessee every year.
Alabama and Tennessee have a rivalry which dates to 1901, less than two months after President William McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo. The Tide and Volunteers have played every year since 1930 except 1943, when neither school fielded a team during the height of World War II.
General Robert Neyland wanted Tennessee to play Alabama every year, knowing if the Volunteers defeated the Tide, Tennessee would be the undisputed king of southern football.
Bear Bryant, who played on a broken leg when Alabama won 25-0 in 1935 at Birmingham, considered Tennessee a bigger rival than Auburn. It was his trainer, Jim Goostree, who began the tradition of handing out victory cigars to players and coaches following victory in the series. Tennessee soon copied the tradition.
It is a vile and disgusting tradition. The Birmingham News’ website, AL.com, posts hundreds of photos of players and fans smoking cigars after a Crimson Tide victory over the Volunteers. They are glorifying a product which has killed tens of millions of Americans (although cigars have killed fewer than cigarettes). Memo to the women who smoke cigars: it doesn’t make you prettier. It makes you repulsive.
Nick Saban loves the cigars, given he once chain-smoked cigarettes. Unlike Bryant, he had the guts to give them up, but he still chews Red Man.
Alabama fans shouldn’t be lighting up cigars anyway. Tennessee is as impotent against Alabama these days as I am with the disgusting little thing between my legs. No reason to bother.
No wonder Saban wants to keep Tennessee on Alabama’s schedule permanently. He beats them all the time.
On the other hand, the world will not end if the Crimson Tide and Volunteers don’t play every year.
Conference realignment has cost us Maryland-Virginia, Maryland-North Carolina, Penn State-Pittsburgh, Nebraska-Oklahoma, Nebraska-Colorado, Nebraska-Missouri, Missouri-Kansas, Missouri-Oklahoma, Colorado-Oklahoma, Texas A&M-Baylor, Texas A&M-TCU, Texas A&M-Texas Tech, Arkansas-Texas, and the biggest of all, Texas-Texas A&M.
LSU and Tulane haven’t played since 2009. That sucks. Tulane bears some of the blame for demanding every other game be played in New Orleans, but LSU has a point by not wanting to give up a home game and play in a stadium which seats 30,000. Tulane blundered massively by leaving the SEC in 1966, but it could make up somewhat for it by playing every year in Baton Rouge and accepting a generous check from LSU. It really angers me LSU will play McNeese, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, and now Southern and Grambling, but not Tulane.
Even within conferences, some rivalries aren’t played every year.
When the SEC split into divisions in 1992, it ended the yearly battle between Auburn and Tennessee. In 2002, Auburn’s yearly rivalry with Florida ended. LSU and Kentucky played every year from 1949 through 2001, but now don’t see each other but once every five or six years. Alabama and Georgia once played every year, but haven’t since Vince Dooley’s early days in Athens. LSU and Alabama was NOT a yearly rivalry until 1964. LSU and Auburn rarely played until they were thrown into the SEC West together. Same with Tennessee vs. Florida and Georgia in the East; Tennessee played Ole Miss every year before divisions.
The ACC stupidly divided the four North Carolina schools. This means North Carolina and Wake Forest don’t play every year, nor do Duke and North Carolina State. Last year, the Tar Heels and Demon Deacons played a game which didn’t count in the ACC standings just to play. Clemson also doesn’t play Duke, North Carolina and Virginia every year, while NC State and Wake Forest don’t see Virginia every year.
Before Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12, it stranded Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with the Texas schools, and refused to have even one cross-division rivalry which was played every year.
In the Big Ten, the Little Brown Jug isn’t contested between Minnesota and Michigan every year. Same with Illibuck, the turtle contested by Ohio State and Illinois. Fortunately, Iowa and Minnesota still battle every year for Floyd of Rosedale, the bronze pig which is bar none the best trophy in college sports.
Anyone who can read a map knows Missouri is farther west than 11 of the other 13 SEC schools. Only Arkansas and Texas A&M are west of Columbia.
Yet the SEC refused to consider moving one team out of the West to let the Big 12 expatriates join the same division.
Then-Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs repeatedly said he would gladly move to the East to allow Mizzou into the West, yet then-SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and league presidents refused.
The biggest reason was Saban’s bellyaching about the cherished Alabama-Tennessee rivalry. Such bellyaching was not as loud from Knoxville, although I’m certain some Volunteer fans want their team to play the Crimson Tide, even with the yearly slaughter.
If Auburn was moved to the East, the Tigers of the Plains would become the Crimson Tide’s permanent cross-division football opponent, meaning they couldn’t play the Volunteers every year. Tennessee probably would have picked up Mizzou or A&M as its permanent West rival.
There is no rule stating Alabama and Tennessee cannot play a game which wouldn’t count in the SEC standings. Bear Bryant did this vs. Ole Miss near the end of his tenure. Has nobody thought of this? I’m not just talking about the Crimson Tide and Volunteers. Everyone in the SEC could do this. It would be an easy way to schedule the required non-conference game vs. a Power Five team.
The above ideas are good, but definitely not the best.
I realize Tuscaloosa is farther west than Nashville, home to Vanderbilt. However, the SEC could fudge its geography just a little bit and make it all right.
Swap Mizzou and Vandy for Alabama and Auburn. There, problem solved. Alabama would have Auburn and Tennessee as division opponents, and playing Georgia and Florida would more than make up for not playing LSU every year.
Tennessee-Vanderbilt would become the lone cross-division game to be played every year, the same way Indiana-Purdue is the only one in the Big Ten. This would get teams into each stadium more frequently.
Your blogger would be pumped to see LSU and Mizzou play every year in football, baseball and softball, meaning the Bayou Bengals would be in Columbia every other year for those sports instead of once in a blue moon.
It just makes too much damned sense, so it will never happen.
Then again, Missouri sports teams have a history of being geographically misaligned.
The Cardinals played in the National League EAST from 1969-93, even though it was farther west than Atlanta and Cincinnati, which were in the West.
The Cardinals and Cubs raised holy hell when the National League wanted to align geographically when the two-divisiion format was approved for 1969. Both were afraid of (a) 27 games per year in California, which meant late start times for television, and (b) not playing in New York. NL president Bill Giles gave the Cardinals and Cubs what they wanted, giving the big “F YOU” to the Braves and Reds, which faced longer trips to California and later start times for their fans, since Atlanta and Cincinnati are on Eastern time.
Giles didn’t have the balls AL president Joe Cronin did. He told the White Sox flat out they were going into the West, and if they didn’t like it, tough shit. The Sox’ owners at the time wanted to be in the East, citing tradition, as five of the other six old-line AL teams were in that division (the exception was the second Senators franchise, the one which became the Rangers in 1972). The White Sox tried again to move to the East when the Senators’ relocation was approved, but the Brewers, who were originally the Seattle Pilots, were moved from West to East, trading places with the Senators/Rangers.
The AL should not have moved the Brewers. It short-circuited rivalries with the White Sox and Twins, and since the Cowboys were in the NFC East, and the Cardinals and Cubs were in the NL East, it wouldn’t have been too bad to keep the Rangers in the AL East.
Speaking of teams from Dallas and St. Louis, it was totally asinine the Cowboys and football Cardinals were in the NFC East. Those cities aren’t east of anything, except San Francisco and Los Angeles in the NFC.
Pete Rozelle wimped out when the AFL and NFL merged. Rather than unilaterally imposing an alignment on NFC owners, he allowed secretary Thelma Ekjer to blindly pick an alignment out of a vase. And wouldn’t you know, the only one with the Cowboys and Cardinals in the NFC East was picked.
Let’s see..the Cowboys in the East and the Falcons in the West. Brilliant.
Rozelle should have put the Cowboys in the West, then added either the Cardinals or Saints (probably the latter, since it would have preserved a Dallas-New Orleans rivalry, one Cowboys’ president Tex Schramm loved). The other should have gone into the Central with the Vikings, Bears and Packers, and the Lions would go into the East with the Falcons, Redskins, Eagles and Giants.
When the Rams moved to St. Louis, there was no problem for me with them staying in the West, although it would have been an ideal time to realign the NFC, with the 49ers, Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys and Saints in the West; the Falcons, Panthers, Redskins, Giants and Eagles in the East; and the Central staying the way it was. At the time, the AFC was too convoluted to try to redo the East and Central (the West was great the way it was).
I’m not giving up my hope LSU and Mizzou are more than occasional rivals. Sometimes the world actually works the way it should.
Until then, I’ll start saving up for tickets when the Bayou Bengals return to Columbia in 2023. And for LSU’s trip to Lexington next year.
Ah, Father’s Day. An observance I will never be a part of. I’m not going to be a father, which is not a bad thing. I would not want to pass my defective DNA to anyone. That would be grossly unfair.
This is my dad’s first Father’s Day without his father, who passed away 11 March at 97. He hasn’t said a word about it. I probably thought of it before he did.
For the first time since 1981, there will be no Major League Baseball on Father’s Day. The reason there wasn’t Father’s Day baseball 39 years ago was because the MLB Players Association went on strike 12 June and stayed out through the end of July, although games did not resume until 9 August with the All-Star Game in Cleveland.
Seven hundred twelve games were wiped out by the strike, which foisted upon us the comically bad split season, which cost the Cardinals and Reds, the teams with the best overall records
Ironically, Father’s Day in 1981 was also 21 June. Two other Father’s Days falling on 21 June produced MLB history.
In 1964, the Phillies’ Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game against the Mets at Shea Stadium. Bunning, a father of six, struck out 10 in the first National League perfect game since 1880 and the first regular season perfect game since 1922, when Charles Robertson authored one for the Tigers.
Of course, in between Robertson and Bunning, Don Larsen of the Yankees notched the most famous perfect game of all in the 1956 World Series vs. the Dodgers. It should also be noted Harvey Haddix pitched 12 1/3 perfect innings for the Pirates at Milwaukee in 1959, only to lose to the Braves.
The day after the game, Bunning was the New York Times‘ “Man in the News”, a rare honor for an athlete. On the same page as that item was a cigar advertisement with Phillies’ manager Gene Mauch, who has been described as the most successful manager to never appear in the World Series.
Philadelphia was a lead-pipe cinch for the World Series until the infamous “Phold”.
The Phillies led the National League (there were no divisions until 1969) by 6 1/2 games with 12 to play, only to lose 10 in a row (four to the Reds, three apiece to the Braves and Cardinals) and see their pennant dreams vanish. Mauch was widely blamed for pitching Bunning and left-hander Chris Short constantly on two days’ rest, simply because he didn’t trust anyone else on his staff. The only pitchers who could have possibly survived that workload are knuckleball specialists (Wilbur Wood, Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield), and even then it would be dicey.
Hours after Bunning’s perfect game, something much more sinister took place in the piney woods of east Mississippi.
Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, led by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price and trigger man Alton Wayne Roberts, who was dishonorably discharged from the Marines. It wasn’t until 4 August that the bodies were found in an earthen dam.
Six year’s after Bunning’s pitching gem, Cesar Gutierrez had his day in the sun.
The Venezuelan went 7-for-7 in the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland. Gutierrez was 5-for-5 through nine innings, added an infield single in the 10th, then singled again in the 12th after Mickey Stanley put Detroit ahead 9-8 on a one-out solo home run.
Two players have gone 7-for-7 in nine innings: Brooklyn’s Wilbert Robinson in 1892 and Pittsburgh’s Rennie Stennett in 1975.
Sadly, Gutierrez was out of MLB after the 1971 season, and passed away in 2005 at 62. He only played in 190 games, but on one shining Sunday, he proved why sports are the greatest reality show of all.
I found out today that Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter (Birney), who portrayed parents Steve and Elyse Keaton on “Family Ties”, were born on 21 June 1947. No wonder they had such chemistry on the TV show. They share a birthday with Bernie Kopell (Dr. Adam Bricker on “The Love Boat”, 87), Ron Ely (“Tarzan”, 82) and Chris Pratt (41).
Unfortunately for Gross, Baxter, Kopell, Ely and Pratt, Jussie Smollett was born 21 June 1982. UGH.
Fifty years ago last night, the humdrum of what appeared to be another routine Apollo mission to the moon was forever changed by five words spoken by Commander Jim Lovell.
“Houston, we have a problem”.
And so began the saga of Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert. There was no way they would follow in the footsteps of Apollo 11’s Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, nor Apollo 12’s Bean, Conrad and Gordon. Apollo 11 went to the moon in July 1969, with Armstrong and Aldrin setting foot on its surface on 20 July. Four months later, Apollo 12 took the same path.
As an aside, it would be Dick Gordon’s last space flight; twenty-six months later, he became the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the New Orleans Saints. Gordon was obviously smarter than the man who hired him, Saints owner John Mecom, and the head coach Gordon was inheriting, J.D. Roberts, but Gordon was in over his head against the likes of Jim Finks in Minnesota, Carroll Rosenbloom with the Rams, Al Davis in Oakland, the Rooney sin Pittsburgh, and Donald Francis Shula in south Florida.
Enough football. Back to Lovell, Haise and Swigert. Landing on the moon was out of the question; the new question was simply if they would live or die.
The first three and half months of the 1970s were carrying on the same deadly legacy as the last few months of the 1960s.
Following Apollo 11, ]Hurricane Camille bulldozed much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast the same weekend as Woodstock, killing 256 over five states. Three and half months later came the infamous Altamont Free Concert in northern California, where 18-year old druggie Meredith Hunter was stabbed by Hell’s Angel Alan Passarro, the latter claiming self-defense because he and his fellow Angels were scared the former would attack Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones during their performance.
Less than six days before Apollo 13 lifted off, four members of the California Highway Patrol were shot to death by snipers near Los Angeles. And three weeks after Lovell radioed the Johnson Space Center, four students died at Kent State (fortunately for football fans from coast to coast, one of them was not Nick Saban, then a freshman on the Golden Flashes football team).
The launch of Apollo 13 on 11 April was covered by the three networks, but other than updates from Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, and Howard K. Smith and Frank Reynolds, there was no special coverage. The night of Lovell’s transmission, the networks were in regular programming (“Here’s Lucy” on CBS; “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” on NBC and a horrendous TV movie on ABC), but Cronkite, Brinkley and Reynolds scurried back to their anchor chairs and updated the viewing public.
The mayday came after an explosion occurred in a liquid oxygen tank on board the command module. It turns out the tank was seriously damaged when it was dropped in preparation for Apollo 10. The tank for Apollo 10 was replaced, and the damaged tank was repaired and placed aboard Apollo 13.
It should not have been. It should have simply been disposed of. However, in 1969 and ’70, the cost of simply replacing the tank may have been too prohibitive to not to try and salvage it.
The damaged tank could only handle 28 volts, compared to 65 volts if the tank were in optimal condition. When temperatures spiked to approximately 185 degrees Celsius (365 degrees Fahrenheit), the internal wiring in the tank melted. When Swigert flipped a switch to stir the cryogenic tanks, the defective one exploded.
Lovell, Haise and Swigert were now on their own, more than 320,000 kilometers (200,000 miles) from earth. Mission Control was rendered useless.
The only hope was to use the lunar module, which Lovell and Haise would have used to land on the moon while Swigert circled above in the service module (the same way Collins did for Armstrong and Aldrin during Apollo 11, and Gordon for Bean and Conrad during Apollo 12), to fly back to earth.
Lovell had to figure out how to guide the lunar module with the service module attached, a totally different animal compared to what he and Haise would have experieneced landing on the moon.
As the trio neared earth on 17 April, they moved back into the damaged service module to prepare for splashdown. Originally, it was believed it would splash down in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Australia, but the trajectory was improved and it splashed at the original destination in the south Pacific.
I learned about Apollo 13 in sixth grade science. Two years later, an episode of ABC’s “The Wonder Years” featured the Apollo 13 crisis as a central plot point. Norma Arnold (Alley Mills) is up late after husband Jack (Dan Lauria) and children Karen (Olivia d’Abo), Wayne (Jason Hervey) and Kevin (Fred Savage) had gone to bed. Just as Kevin walks into the kitchen where Norma is watching television, and Frank Reynolds pops onto the screen with a “special report”. Later in the week, Kevin enters a church and finds Norma praying for the astronauts. The astronauts’ safe return also seemingly eases any tension between Norma and Jack. Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) sat out this episode.
The three men aboard Apollo 13 never returned to space. The Apollo program ended in December 1972, and it would be over eight years before the first space shuttle launch in 1981.
Lovell, still alive and well at 92, retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy shortly after Apollo 13. His book “Lost Moon” served as the script for the 1995 blockbuster film “Apollo 13”, with Tom Hanks portraying Lovell.
I know of a few people who are not enamored with Lovell.
In August 1999, Lovell was as guest of the Chicago Cubs during a nationally televised game vs. the Houston Astros. Lovell harshly criticized a group of umpires who lost their jobs when they followed Richie Phillips’ dreadful strategy to resign the previous month. The interview, conducted by ESPN announcers John Miller and Joe Morgan, was seen by millions from coast to coast.
Two of the umpires working that night’s game, the infamous Eric Gregg and Paul Nauert, lost their jobs three and a half weeks later. Jerry Crawford, the crew chief for that night’s game, didn’t lose his job, but he was Richie Phillips’ best friend, and I’m certain he won’t shed a tear when Lovell finally slips the surly bonds of this earth and touches the face of God, as Ronald Reagan once put it.
Haise, still alive at 86, was scheduled to fly on Apollo 19, but his number didn’t come up, since Apollo 17 was the last. He was recruited for the space shuttle program, but he got tired of the delays.
Swigert turned to politics in the late 1970s after leaving NASA. His first run for office failed, as he lost the 1978 Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat from Colorado to U.S. Rep. Bill Armstrong, who went on to win the general election and serve two terms.
In early 1982, Swigert announced he would run for U.S. Representative from Colorado’s 6th district, a seat which the Centennial State gained from reapportionment following the 1980 census.
Before Swigert could worry about winning in November, he had to beat cancer, which manifested itself in a tumor in his right nasal passage. He finished radiation treatment in June 1982, but two months later, cancer came back in his bone marrow.
Swigert stayed in the election and won with 64 percent of the vote, becoming the third ex-astronaut to win election to Congress, with the others serving in the Senate.
The first was John Glenn, the living legend who represented Ohio from 1975-1998; the second was Harrison Schmitt, who represented New Mexico from 1977-82. Ironically, the same day Swigert was elected, Schmitt lost his seat to Jeff Bingaman.
Sadly for Swigert, he never took the oath on Capitol Hill. He died 27 December in the same wing of Georgetown University Hospital where Vince Lombardi succumbed to colon cancer 12 years earlier. Swigert was only 51.
Apollo 13 may never have reached its intended destination. However, the courage demonstrated by James Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert will continue to serve as a beacon of hope, especially poignant given what’s happening right now, 50 years after Lovell radioed Houston.
Kansas City is celebrating the “World Champion” Chiefs today with a parade and rally.
For the record, the Chiefs are not “World Champions” of anything, even if every vehicle in the parade is displaying the words “World Champions”.
The Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, which gives them the right to forever be called “Super Bowl LIV champions” and “2019 National Football League champions”, the same way the franchise can refer to itself as “Super Bowl IV champions” and “1969 Professional Football champions” (1969 was the last year before the AFL-NFL merger).
The Chiefs may refer to themselves as “NFL champions” without a qualifying year until they are eliminated from the 2020 playoffs (or fail to qualify). If Kansas City wins Super Bowl LV next February in Tampa, the Chiefs may continue to use NFL champions without the year.
The Patriots lost the right to call themselves NFL champions without a qualifying year when they lost to the Titans in the wild card round. New England can refer to itself as NFL champions of 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018, but must use the qualifying years. And it cannot call itself a “world champion”, period.
No NFL (or AFL) champion has the right to call itself a “world champion”.
The NFL has never had a franchise in a country other than the United States of America. Save for a few exhibitions in the early 1960s, no NFL team has played a team from the only other major league on earth which sponsors gridiron football, the Canadian Football League.
Two of the other major North American sports leagues use “World Champions” when they should not.
The NBA has referred to the winner of its playoff tournament as “World Champions”. At least the league no longer refers to the final round of the playoffs as the “World Championship Series” as it did through 1985.
Major League Baseball has sponsored the World Series since 1903, with two exceptions (1904 and 1994). Every World Series winner I know has referred to itself as a “World Champion”, even though MLB has never had teams in countries other than the USA and Canada. North American champions is also inappropriate since no World Series winner has played a champion from Mexico, Cuba or another country.
The Associated Press expressly forbids its publications from using “World Champions” to refer to teams. It is SUPER BOWL champions, WORLD SERIES champions and NBA champions.
Baseball and basketball can easily determine a world champion the way FIFA does with the Champions League.
The National Hockey League has it right. Gary Bettman and his predecessor, John Ziegler, never refers to the winner of the Stanley Cup Finals as the “World Champions” of hockey. That team is the STANLEY CUP champion or the NHL champion.
Here’s something to keep in mind about the NHL. A team can win the Stanley Cup X number of times. However, a team cannot win Y Stanley Cups. There is only one Stanley Cup, and unlike the Vince Lombardi, Larry O’Brien and Commissioner’s trophies, a new one is not made each year.
Therefore, the Blues are attempting to win the Stanley Cup for the second time, not their second Stanley Cup. Got it?
Back to football.
There are two world champions of football. They are the French Men’s National Team and the United States Women’s National Team. France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the USA won the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Every Super Bowl ring is a FRAUD, since every one says “World Champions”.
CORRECTION from the last post: the next FOUR College Football Playoff national championship game sites have been named. It will be Miami, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Houston, in that order, from January 2021-24.
The 2025 and 2026 games will probably go to two of these three sites: Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Detroit. I blacked out earlier and forgot all about the Raiders’ stadium in Nevada (named Allegiant Stadium), which opens either later this year or in 2021. I’ll take a guess and say 2025 goes to Minneapolis since the NFL will want to host Super Bowl LIX in Las Vegas, and 2026 heads to Nevada.
The construction schedule in Vegas is tighter than a pair of skinny jeans. If the stadium cannot be completed on time for the Raiders, they’re screwed. They have the option to play in Oakland for 2020, but would (a) fans attend and (b) the Athletics acquiesce? It may force the Raiders to become tenants in Santa Clara with the 49ers, or else play as many games as possible on the road early in the season.
The NFL could conceivably schedule the Raiders’ first eight games on the road, a game in London or Mexico City, and their bye week within the first 10 weeks, leaving them to play weeks 11-17 in Vegas. It would be highly unusual, but what else can you do? If the NFL were to schedule it that way and the stadium were ready in September, the game sites with the AFC West teams could be flip-flopped.
The College Football Playoff committee says it will let northern cities without climate-controlled stadiums bid, but how many fans would attend if the game were in New Jersey, which would entail the exorbitant costs of traveling to and from New York? Foxborough, where it’s a nightmare to get to and from the stadium, no matter if you’re flying into Boston or Providence? Seattle? Better hope Oregon or Washington has a magical season like LSU just completed, and I can imagine how many residents of the Pacific Northwest would react to legions of invaders from Alabama, South Carolina or elsewhere in the south.
One city which cannot host: Chicago. Soldier Field’s capacity falls a little more than 3,000 seats short of the minimum of 65,000. However, the CFP committee would be wise to grant a waiver if the nation’s third-largest city wants the game.
As the Chiefs prepare for what they hope will be their biggest victory since 11 January 1970, there was some sad news out of the Truman Sports Complex.
Former Royals owner David Glass passed away last week at 84 due to complications from pneumonia. This came only two months after the sale of the Royals from Glass to John Sherman was approved by the other 29 MLB owners.
Glass was named the Royals’ CEO at the end of the 1993 season, a little less than three months following the death of founder Ewing Kauffman. Glass was the representative of the Kauffman trust which owned the team until he bought the majority stake before the 2000 season.
During the 1994 Major League Baseball players’ strike, Glass was one of the hardest of the hard-liners, demanding a salary cap and pleading poverty, claiming small-market Kansas City could not compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and the other big-market teams. Glass’ biggest allies were the White Sox’ Jerry Reinsdorf and the Brewers’ Bud Selig, who had been acting Commissioner since the ouster of Fay Vincent in September 1992. Selig got the full-time gig in 1998.
While Orioles owner Peter Angelos refused to use replacement players during 1995 spring training, Glass endorsed the idea wholeheartedly. Thankfully for Glass, future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor forced the owners to allow the union players back to work before any regular season games were played with scrubs.
Glass, who was once the CEO of Walmart (then known as Wal-Mart), ran the Royals like the discount giant, slashing salaries to the bone in order to pocket large profits from revenue sharing and MLB television rights.
To be blunt, Glass was probably the most hated man in Kansas City for the first decade of the millennium.
The Royals lost 100 or more games four times in five seasons between 2002-06, bottoming out with a 56-106 disaster in 2005. Somehow, Glass and a dying Lamar Hunt convinced Jackson County, Missouri voters to approve almost $500 million in improvements to Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums in April 2006, although a proposed rolling roof was rejected. Hunt did not live to see the improvements to his baby; he died in December 2006.
In June 2006, Glass revoked the press credentials of two reporters who asked questions he deemed too critical. The Baseball Writers Association of America got involved, and Glass was forced to back down.
The questions were asked at Dayton Moore’s opening press conference as the Royals’ general manager.
Glass owed Moore a debt of gratitude, for if not for him, Glass would be as reviled now as he was then.
Moore took advantage of most of the high draft picks the team received for losing and turned them into future standouts Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Heavy investment in Latin American scouting yielded Salvador Perez, Kelvim Herrera and Yordano Ventura, and a trade with the Brewers sent Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar to Kansas City for Zack Greinke, the 2009 Cy Young Award winner who wore out his welcome one year later.
Glass went from goat to hero in 2014 and 2015.
The 2014 Royals made the franchise’s first postseason appearance since winning the 1985 World Series, sweeping past the Angels and Orioles before losing Game 7 of the World Series to the Giants and Madison Bumgarner’s bionic arm.
One year later, the boastful Royals took advantage of the error-prone Mets and won the World Series in five games. Reportedly more than 800,000 people turned out for the victory celebration two days after the series ended, but I think it was closer to 400,000.
Even though the Royals lost over 100 games in 2018 and ’19, Glass’ legacy was secure. He brought Kansas City from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the mountain in 10 years, allowing Royals fans to look down their noses at title-starved fan bases in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee (UGH), Oakland, Pittsburgh and Queens. Houston and Washington were on that list until the past three seasons.
Glass was Richard Nixon in reverse. Had Nixon announced he would not run for re-election in 1972, he could have gone out a hero for negotiating peace with the Soviet Union, opening trade between the United States and China, and ending the quagmire in Vietnam. Instead, many remember Nixon for one thing only: Watergate.
I’d like to know why Old Chicago serves ranch with its calzones. I noticed this tonight at the Hays restaurant when two ladies ordered them. I was there to play some more trivia. It was packed, as were all other fine dining establishments in Hays.
I don’t like ranch, but people I care about very much (you know who you are) love it. However, it just doesn’t seem right with a dish loaded with pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella cheese and maybe vegetables.
I posted twice today to make up for the previous three days of non-posting. I won’t bore you any further.
You would think I would be watching LSU and Clemson play for college football’s national championship (at least for the highest level).
I am so convinced Clemson will win I am not watching.
The game kicked off at 19:15. I am self-censoring. The TV is off. I have set my devices to do not disturb. I am not checking any sports sites. I think I’ll go to bed really early, considering I rose at 05:00 and have a lot of work to get done tomorrow morning.
The last time I self-censored was the night of the 2016 presidential election. I watched some crap on LMN, then went to bed early. I had no earthly clue who had won what state.
I went to bed convinced Hillary would win, just as almost every major media outlet predicted.
It wasn’t until I came upstairs, where my mother had the TV tuned to Today, when I learned Trump won.
When LSU played Alabama for the BCS national championship in January 2012, I didn’t watch the game, but I made the mistake of looking at Twitter. It was there I learned just how badly LSU was getting its ass kicked by Alabama. Of course, a few jerks had to rub it in.
This season, I purposely did not watch most of the first half in LSU’s game at Alabama and the Peach Bowl vs. Oklahoma. I didn’t see a score until I came upstairs, because my mother was watching. In each of those games, the Bayou Bengals built up a big enough lead, making it okay to watch. Not tonight. It won’t be that easy vs. Clemson.
Tonight, no social media, Nothing. If I want to watch the game, I can watch a replay on ESPN+. Something tells me those wearing orange are going to be much happier tonight than those wearing purple and gold.
More sports woe in Houston.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch for the 2020 season for their roles in Houston’s sign stealing throughout the 2017 postseason, which ended with the Astros defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.
Houston was also fined $5 million, believed to be a record for a major sports league due to an on-field incident. Too bad Roger Goodell doesn’t have the guts to fine the Patriots that much.
Astros owner Jim Crane went one step farther than Manfred, immediately firing Luhnow and Hinch. Houston has a huge hole in the rotation now that Gerrit Cole is in the Bronx, but it still has many strong pieces in Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Corriea and George Springer. The question is who will manage them, and who will step into this mess?
I didn’t mention the Oilers blowing the 35-3 lead in Buffalo in the 1992 playoffs, but I figured you knew about that already. It has been repeated ad nausem following the Texans’ collapse yesterday in Kansas City.
On the other hand, Chiefs fans are convinced more than ever the Super Bowl is their destiny. Mahomes is God. The Titans might as well stay in Nashville. Bring on the 49ers or Packers.
Before the season, a Kansas City Star online poll asked “What would it take for you to consider the Chiefs season a success?”. I don’t remember the exact split, but at least 80 percent said either “get to the Super Bowl” or “win the Super Bowl”. If the Titans win Sunday, mental health professionals will be in high demand in the so-called “Chiefs Kingdom”.
Good night, blogosphere. Hopefully I’m waking up to good news in a few hours…but I have my doubts.
Houston called itself “Clutch City” after the Rockets won back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 (vs. the Knicks, led by Patrick Ewing) and 1995 (vs. the Magic, sweeping an Orlando team led by Shaq).
After the last three months, a more appropriate moniker for Houston is “Choke City”.
It began with the Astros. After winning a franchise record 107 games in the regular season, Houston nearly choked in the American League Division Series vs. the Rays, needing a victory in the winner-take-all Game 5 to advance to the American League Championship Series.
The Astros ousted the Yankees in six to move into the World Series for the second time in three years, where Houston would face the Washington Nationals, who were making their first World Series appearance.
Many experts expected the Astros to win the first two games at Minute Maid Park, then go to the nation’s capital and win two of three there.
Instead, Houston lost the first two games at home. The Astros rallied to win the next three in the District of Columbia to gain the series lead, only to choke it away by losing the sixth and seventh games in Texas. It became the first best-of-seven series in any of the three major sports (MLB, NBA, NHL) which use that format where the road team won every game.
Today, the Texans joined the Astros in Houston sports infamy.
Bill O’Brien’s team built a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter of an AFC divisional playoff in Kansas City.
By halftime, the Chiefs led 28-24, as Patrick Mahomes joined Doug Williams as the only quarterbacks to throw four touchdown passes in one quarter of a playoff game. Williams did it in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII, when the Redskins turned a 10-0 deficit vs. the Broncos into a 35-10 halftime bulge. Washington won 42-10, and Williams was the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Kansas City won 51-31 and earned the right to host Tennessee in next Sunday’s AFC championship game.
Green Bay held on to defeat Seattle 28-23 in the NFC, sending the Packers to Santa Clara to face the 49ers for the other spot in Super Bowl LIV in Miami (Gardens) Feb. 2.
A team from Houston has not played in the AFC championship game since 1979, when the Oilers lost to the Steelers for the second consecutive year. Bum Phillips’ team was hurt by the officials making a bad call on a pass to Mike Renfro which was ruled incomplete but was in fact a touchdown, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
Even worse, Houston fans have to watch their former team play in its third AFC championship since relocating to the Volunteer State. The Titans defeated the Jaguars in 1999 before losing to the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, but lost to the Raiders in 2002.
Barely an hour after the game ended at ARrowhead, a Houston Chronicle columnist wrote it was time for Texans coach Bill O’Brien to leave, reminding readers of past Houston sports failures. One of them was the famous 1983 NCAA men’s basketball title game, when Jim Valvano’s underdog North Carolina State Wolfpack shocked the mighty Houston Cougars, nicknamed “Phi Slamma Jamma” , when Lorenzo Charles caught Dereck Whittenburg’s airball and slammed it through the net with no time remaining. That Houston team featured two of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, Clyde Drexler and (H)Akeem Olajuwon.
It wasn’t the first time a team from Kansas City stuck it to a team from Houston.
In 1993, the Oilers hosted the Chiefs in an AFC divisional game. Houston entered on an 11-game winning streak, but Kansas City, led by Joe Montana, prevailed 28-20. Following that loss, the Oilers’ fan support plummeted to subterranean depths, and after the 1996 season, they were on their way to Tennessee.
In 2015, the Astros were up 2-1 on the Royals in an American League Division Series and led Game 4 through seven innings. Kansas City rallied to win that game, won Game 5 in Kansas City, and eventually won the World Series. Houston’s 2017 World Series championship took the sting out of the 2015 setback, but the one in 2019 will be hard to forget, no matter if the Astros win another championship or not.
Despite superstars like Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Chris Paul and James Harden playing for the Rockets in recent years, Houston has not played for an NBA championship since 1995. The window is wide open with the Warriors in free fall, but the Rockets will be severely tested by the two Los Angeles teams in the West, and hopefully Milwaukee if they make it to the Finals.
Approximately 26 hours from now, LSU will either have completed its greatest football season ever, or one of its most disappointing. Hopefully it’s the former. However, I would feel much better about this if the opponent were wearing scarlet and gray instead of orange. Something tells me Dabo is the younger, hipper version of LSU’s former coach–the one in Tuscaloosa, not the one in Lawrence–and has a dynasty going in the the South Carolina uplands.
Stupid mouse. Now I have to start over. Actually, I’m the stupid one for not saving my draft.
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl IV, when the Chiefs, led by quarterback Len Dawson, running back Mike Garrett and receiver Otis Taylor, “matriculated the ball down the field” well enough to defeat the Vikings 23-7 in the last Super Bowl to match the NFL and AFL. The merger of the leagues was to take effect after this game, per the terms of the 1966 agreement brokered by Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, and NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.
It was fitting the final game involving an AFL team was played in New Orleans. The Big Easy was represented in the U.S. House by Thomas Hale Boggs, who helped the NFL and AFL secure an antitrust exemption to allow for the merger. Louisiana’s junior U.S. Senator, Russell B. Long, son of Huey and nephew of Earl, was the manager of the antitrust exemption in the Senate. The bill was signed by LBJ in October 1966. As a reward, New Orleans was awarded an expansion team, which began play as the Saints in 1967.
Ironically, Hunt nearly moved the Dallas Texans to New Orleans instead of Kansas City in early 1963. There was a slight problem with that idea: segregation.
Tulane Stadium did not allow black patrons to sit in prime seating areas for Green Wave games (nor did any other stadium in the Southeastern Conference at that time). No way that would be kosher for a professional league, especially one which had a large number of black players.
No state of the former confederacy other than Texas had a professional sports franchise until the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, but Atlanta was fortunate to have a progressive mayor, Ivan Allen, who initiated desegregation in the ATL before the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. New Orleans wasn’t as bad as Birmingham and Montgomery as far as treating blacks as a lower life form, but mayors Chep Morrison and Victor Schiro weren’t rolling out the red carpet, either.
The field at Tulane Stadium in Super Bowl IV was a mud pit. Anyone who has watched highlights of the game (there is an excellent video chronicling the game on YouTube) knows why the NFL required the Saints and Tulane to install artificial turf (Poly-Turf) in March 1971 when the Big Easy was awarded Super Bowl VI, which was played in January 1972.
Super Bowl IV was the first to be played without a week off between the league (later conference) championship games and the finale. This wouldn’t be the case again until January 1983, when the playoffs had to be expanded in the wake of the 1982 players’ strike which reduced the regular season from 16 games to 9. The next time there was only one week scheduled between the conference championships and Super Bowl was the 1990 season.
The off week is a necessity. Players need time to work out ticket arrangements, coaches need extra time to game plan, business managers need time to figure out flights and hotels, and fans need a week off from football, period (the Pro Bowl doesn’t count).
Strangely, there was a week off for the Chiefs and Raiders before the AFL championship game.
In 1969, the AFL held a semifinal playoff round, with the division champions (Jets in the East, Raiders in the West) hosting the runner-up from the opposite division (Chiefs in the West, Oilers in the East).
The AFL’s 1969 regular season ended one week earlier than the NFL’s. The weekend of Dec. 20-21 would have been used for tiebreaker games, but with no tiebreakers needed, the semifinals were held those days, with the Chiefs defeating the Jets 13-6 on Saturday and the Raiders mauling the Oilers 56-7 on Sunday.
While the AFL rested the final weekend of 1969, the NFL held its semifinals. The Vikings edged the Rams 23-20 to win the Western Conference, and the Browns crushed the Cowboys 38-14 to win the East.
The NFL championship game in Minnesota was a 27-7 rout for the Vikings, and it wasn’t that close. Cleveland was probably glad to be going to the AFC after losing 52-14 to the Cowboys in the 1967 semifinals and 34-0 to the Colts in the 1968 NFL championship.
The AFL championship provided much more drama.
Kansas City was seething its last four games to Oakland.
After the Chiefs won 24-10 in Kansas City in 1968 in a game where Hank Stram used the Straight-T formation and passed only three times, the Raiders rolled over the Chiefs twice in Oakland, 38-21 and 41-6, the latter being a playoff for the AFL Western Division title. The Raiders lost the AFL championship to the Jets, who went on to prove Joe Namath prophetic.
In 1969, the Raiders swept the Chiefs, 27-24 in Kansas City and 10-6 in Oakland.
The Raiders, coached by a 33-year old newbie named John Madden, had their suitcases loaded onto buses in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot. If Oakland won, it would immediately head to San Francisco International Airport and fly to New Orleans that night.
Oakland scored in the first quarter to go ahead 7-0, but that was all.
Kansas City’s “Redwood Forest” defense, led by five future Hall of Famers, hled the Raiders the rest of the way, and the Chiefs rallied to win 17-7 for their third AFL championship and second trip to the Super Bowl.
The Vikings were immediately installed as 14-point favorites. Many experts, especially those loyal to the NFL like Sports Illustrated’s Tex Maule and notorious gambler Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, thought the Jets’ victory in Super Bowl III was a fluke. On the other hand, many of the Chiefs on the team in 1969 were on the field in Los Angeles three years prior, and Kansas City’s defense was superior to New York’s.
On the Tuesday prior to the Super Bowl, NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report broke news of several NFL players who had ties to a Detroit bookmaker, Donald “Dice Dawson”. The two most prominent names on the list were Namath (no surprise) and Len Dawson (shocking).
Six hours after the report aired, Stram addressed the media and had Len Dawson, no relation to Dice, read a statement. Stram and his quarterback vehemently denied the report. It turned out the reports were false. So much for there not being fake news in 1970.
Namath ran afoul of Rozelle in the summer of 1969 after it was discovered gamblers and mafia members were hanging out at Bachelor’s III, the Manhattan bar Namath owned. Rozelle ordered Namath to divest himself of holdings in Bachelor’s III. Namath initially refused and retired, but one month later, he reversed course and returned to the Jets. I’m guessing Bear Bryant had a lot to do with Namath coming back, much more so than Weeb Ewbank.
The Vikings featured the NFL’s best defense in 1969, led by the “Purple Gang”. Minnesota’s defense had three future Hall of Famers in end Carl Eller, tackle Alan Page and safety Paul Krause, as well as end Jim Marshall, an ironman who played in 282 consecutive games over 19 seasons. How Marshall isn’t in the Hall of Fame is a travesty.
Stram thought he could beat the Vikings with short, quick passes to the sideline with his speedy receivers, Taylor and Frank Pitts. The key was to make sure Eller and Marshall were blocked. To do this, Stram had a running back and/or tight end Fred Arbanas assist his tackles, Jim Tyrer (on Marshall) and Dave Hill (on Eller) chip the ends.
“King Henry” also ran reverses, traps and counters to take advantage of Page’s quickness and keep him off-balance.
On defense, Stram often shifted one of his tackles, Buck Buchanan or Curley Culp (both are in the Hall of Fame), directly over Minnesota’s All-Pro center, Mick Tinglehoff. All NFL teams were running the standard 4-3 defense in 1969, which meant centers could fire out and block a middle linebacker instead of having to deal with a man right on him.
By putting Culp or Buchanan on Tinglehoff, it freed middle linebacker Willie Lanier, another future Hall of Famer, to roam free where needed.
Minnesota’s offense, while effective, was primitive in 1969. With Fran Tarkenton in New York and Chuck Foreman and John Gilliam still years away, the Vikings relied mostly on two straight-ahead runners, Bill Brown and Dave Osborn, and reckless quarterback Joe Kapp, whose wobbly passes were similar to those thrown by Billy Kilmer, the Saints’ starting quarterback at that time.
Stram, at the request of NFL Films President/Executive Producer Ed Sabol and son Steve, agreed to wear a wireless microphone during the game. When the highlights of Super Bowl IV were released in the summer of 1970, it became the gold standard for all future NFL Films productions.
The Chiefs took a 9-0 lead on three Jan Stenerud field goals, then caught a huge break in the second quarter when Charlie West fumbled a kickoff. Kansas City lineman Remi Prudhomme, who played on the same field for LSU in its victory over Syracuse in the 1965 Sugar Bowl, recovered, setting up the Chiefs in the red zone.
With second and goal on the Vikings 6-yard line, Stram famously called for “65 Toss Power Trap”.
In what became one of the most iconic play calls in Super Bowl history, the Chiefs offensive line influenced Page and Eller to their left, and with Marshall sealed off by Tyrer, Garrett ran through a gaping hole to the game’s first touchdown. Kansas City led 16-0, and that was the score at halftime.
The halftime show at Super Bowl IV featured a recreation of the Battle of New Orleans. Bad idea. A couple of the actors portraying soldiers lost fingers, and what was left of the grass on the field was gone.
Minnesota drove to a touchdown by Osborn in the third quarter to make it 16-7, but Kansas City put the game away for good later in the period when Taylor took a short pass at the right sideline, broke an attempted tackle by Viking cornerback Earsell Mackbee, then outran Karl Kassulke the rest of the way to a 46-yard touchdown.
Chiefs 23, Vikings 7 would be the final. Dawson was named Most Valuable Player, and President Nixon called the winning coach and quarterback in the locker room.
Kansas City hasn’t been back to the Super Bowl. The closest the Chiefs have come were AFC championship game losses to the Bills in 1993 and Patriots in 2018. The most crushing playoff loss was on Christmas Day 1971, when a strong Chiefs team lost to the upstart Dolphins in the NFL’s longest game (82 minutes, 40 seconds of playing time) in what turned out to be the final football match at Municipal Stadium.
Minnesota got back to the Super Bowl three times over the next seven seasons, but each game wasn’t close. The Vikings lost 24-7 to the Dolphins in VIII, 16-6 to the Steelers in IX (the last NFL game at Tulane Stadium; my parents were there, if only for a half), and 32-14 to the Raiders in XI. Minnesota lost NFC championship games in 1977, 1987, 1998, 2000 and 2009.
The Vikings’ drought is guaranteed to last another year, thanks to their 27-10 loss to the 49ers yesterday in Santa Clara. Seattle or Green Bay will visit Levi’s Stadium next Sunday to determine the NFC championship.
I’m wondering if older Minnesota fans or players might have had a feeling their team was cursed since the Vikings played on the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl IV.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, have a golden opportunity to end their Super Bowl drought.
If Kansas City defeats Houston this afternoon, it will host Tennessee in the AFC championship.
That’s because the Titans went to Baltimore last night and shocked the Ravens 28-12, ending Baltimore’s 12-game winning streak.
The Ravens had the NFL’s best record, 14-2, thanks in large part to Lamar Jackson’s record-setting season. The former Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville set a league record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season, while also throwing 32 touchdown passes.
Hardly anyone gave the Titans a chance, yet the last team to qualify for the playoffs is now one win away from its first Super Bowl since 1999, when Jeff Fisher’s club lost to the St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf.
The Titans knocked out the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs. After downing the Ravens, I’m not so certain the Chiefs or Texans might be looking forward to facing Tennessee. Then again, playing at home beats playing in Baltimore.
For Baltimore sports fans, I rate it as the biggest shocker since the Orioles lost to the Miracle Mets in the 1969 World Series.
In case you don’t know that story, the Orioles won 109 games in the regular season before sweeping the Twins in the first American League Championship Series. Baltimore had three of the American League’s most dominant pitchers in Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Cy Young Award winner Mike Cuellar, along with a powerful lineup featuring Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson.
The Mets didn’t finish above eighth in the National League in any of their first seven seasons. Yet in 1969, Tom Seaver won the Cy Young, Jerry Koosman came of age, and a 22-year old flamethrower from Alvin, Texas named Lynn Nolan Ryan gave the club from Queens a staff just as good as Baltimore’s.
At the plate, the Mets couldn’t match the Orioles, but their outfield may have been the best defensive trio the game has seen: Cleon Jones in left, Tommie Agee in center and Ron Swoboda in right.
The Mets came from as far back as 11 games down in July to overtake the Cubs to win the National League East, then swept Hank Aaron’s Braves in the first National League Championship Game.
Baltimore won the first game of the World Series at home, but lost game two. Nobody in Charm City panicked…yet.
After the Mets blanked the Orioles 5-0 in game three, featuring two spectacular catches by Agee, Baltimore fans began to wonder if this was truly their year.
Swoboda made one of the most spectacular catches in World Series history in game four, robbing Brooks Robinson of an extra base hit which would have given the Orioles the lead. Instead, it was just a sacrifice fly which tied the game. The Mets won in the bottom of the 10th when Baltimore reliever Pete Richert’s throw hit Mets pinch hitter J.C. Martin in the arm, allowing Rod Gasper to score from second.
Baltimore led 3-0 through five innings of game five, but when Mets manager Gil Hodges proved to home plate umpire Lou DiMuro that Jones was hit by McNally by showing DiMuro a speck of shoe polish on the ball, the Orioles knew they were doomed.
Indeed they were.
Series MVP Donn Clendenon followed Jones with a two-run home run. Baltimore’s lead disappeared when Al Weis led off the seventh with a homer, and in the eighth, Swoboda doubled home Jones with what proved to be the Series-winning run. Swoboda later scored an insurance run when Powell booted a two-out grounder by Jerry Grote.
When future Mets manager Dave Johnson flied out to Jones, pandemonium erupted at Shea.
The Orioles got their World Series title in 1970 by defeating the Reds in five, and added another in ’83 with a five-game win over the Phillies. Baltimore lost to the Pirates in seven in both 1971 and ’79.
This habit of post-midnight posts is not a good one. I’ve got to cut this out.
The last 12 hours of my 43rd year got off to a sour start.
Following my fourth marathon day at Buffalo Wild Wings, I stopped at the QuikTrip in Riverside to fuel the Buick so I wouldn’t have to do it tomorrow.
When I arrived, I noticed a white GMC Yukon sitting in front of pump #4 with the pump in the tank. He was blocking one of the four non-ethanol pumps, and of course, I wanted non-ethanol.
After three or four minutes in the store, I pulled out of the lot in front of the store. Yet all the non-ethanol pumps were not available: the Yukon was still there, one was blocked by a guy fixing his car, another was blocked by a car not getting non-ethanol, and another was in use by someone actually buying non-ethanol.
I waited for three minutes for the Yukon. Nothing.
I finally had to go in and ask the clerks at the cash register to see if the Yukon owner was in the store. Sure enough he was. He told me he would move it. He looked pissed off.
First, it is absolutely RUDE to block a gas pump when you’re done. Move on.
Second, it is even more RUDE to block a pump which has non-ethanol or diesel. EVERY pump–20 of them in this case–has the three standard grades of 10% ethanol gas. And while it was busy, there were eight pumps open for the regular gas.
Third, why the hell do people leave their vehicle in front of the pump when they want to go shop in the store? That’s stupid. Why not pull the car to the front of the store so you don’t have as long to walk?
I am to the point where I might just have to take a trip to Tulsa and chew out the bigwigs at QuikTrip. No, I won’t make a special trip–although I could go for Whataburger–but I will send an angry letter. No cursing, no threats, but just my absolute disappointment at the lack of courtesy.
It was a great day at Buffalo Wild Wings. Robb and Theresa stopped by for an hour. Theresa brought me some of her homemade sausage to take back to Russell.
Yet I’m ready to get back to Russell. Got a lot of work to do between now and Wednesday at noon.
I left B-Dubs upset last night. I was hoping Peggy would stop in Kansas City on her way from Des Moines to Paola. She was in Iowa yesterday to watch Caitlyn play, and she was heading to Courtney and Andy’s home to stay before going to Wichita today for the Ottawa-Friends match. I asked her to consider stopping on her way down I-35, but I never heard from her.
When I left B-Dubs, I made a beeline straight for Overland Park and Cheesecake Factory. I got two slices of cheesecake (tiramisu and Godiva–delicious) and a strip steak. The steak was overcooked and thin, so that taught me a lesson–stick to Cheesecake. I would have been better off making a second stop at Outback on the other side of I-435. Oh well.
I felt very guilty that I didn’t go to Wichita and to Ottawa, where Caitlyn was a member of the homecoming court. I was much harder on myself than they were on me. St. Louis bought a lot of goodwill.
Georgia choked today. The third-ranked Bulldogs gagged to a mediocre South Carolina team 20-17 in double overtime in Athens.
I won’t go into how much I hate overtime in college and high school football. If you’ve read the blog you know my stance.
If anyone in the SEC was going to beat Georgia, South Carolina is the LAST team I wanted doing it.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp revealed himself as a gigantic douchebag last year when he vigorously defended then-Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, who helped kill Terrapins offensive tackle Jordan McNair with his gross negligence. Muschamp fired back at anyone who dared speak ill of Durkin and called those who did “soft”.
I never liked Muschamp when he coached Florida, although he dragged the Gators into the abyss, so that was good for LSU. The defense of Durkin sealed it.
Muschamp, Jimbo Fisher, Urban Meyer and Kirk Ferentz are four coaches I would never, EVER want any male relative of mine to play for. Nick Saban is a more complicated matter, one I don’t have time to delve into right now, considering its after 2300 and I want to be back in Russell in 12 hours.
LSU didn’t choke, although the Bayou Bengals had me way too nervous. They traded blows with Florida for three quarters before pulling away in the fourth to a 42-28 victory in Baton Rouge. The Bayou Bengals will be fourth or fifth in the polls tomorrow, depending on where Oklahoma is slotted following its 34-27 victory over Texas in the Red River Rivalry. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State will be the top three.
Honestly, why do we need polls before the end of October? Most of the early polls are based upon reputation and nothing more. Same with college basketball, where Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina are automatically ranked in the preseason no matter what.
Missouri beat Ole M(P)iss 38-27. Good. As much as I can’t stand Florida, I totally depise the plantation in Oxford. I wish there would have been more allegations against Hugh Freeze which would have given the SEC reason to expel the Rebels.
Washington won AGAIN in the National League Championship Series. The Nationals take a 2-0 lead back to the banks of the Potomac. The Cardinals had better find an offense NOW or else there will not be another game at Busch Stadium III until April.
The Yankees beat the Astros 7-0 in the first game of the ALCS at Houston. I can see it now….all the east coast media slobbering over the prospect of commuting up and down I-95. People in Philadelphia might not be so excited about the idea.
It wasn’t a good day for Larry. The Cardinals lost again, and the Blues got hammered 6-3 in Montreal. At least Mizzou prevented it from being a total disaster.
Louisiana’s governor’s election is going to a second round. Incumbent John Bel Edwards failed to reach the necessary 50 percent plus one vote to win in the primary. He will now face Eddie Rispone in a runoff.
Rispone is a carbon copy of former governor Mike Foster–an rich old white man financing his own campaign. Foster didn’t do squat in two terms. He was more concerned about hunting and riding his motorcycles.
Louisiana was a total mess under Edwards’ predecessor, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal. Jindal cut state services and higher education to bare bones and the state swam in red ink deeper than the Mississippi River running through Baton Rouge. Jindal neglected the Bayou State to prepare his presidential campaign, which bombed spectacularly thank God.
Edwards–no relation to former four-term governor Edwin Washington Edwards–has put Louisiana back on solid financial footing. Of course, too many sycophant voters see a “D” next to Edwards name an automatically think he’s evil.
Rispone ran disgusting attack ads against both Edwards and Republican U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham, who finished third. I am so glad I’m not in Louisiana to see this crap.
Politics disgusts me. Period. I hate it. I’m sick and freaking tired of the hatred on both sides. Just because someone has an opposite view to yours doesn’t mean he or she is your mortal enemy. The real enemies are in North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and other countries which would destroy the American way of life.
My 43rd year is down to its last 10 hours. By time I reconnect with this blog, I will be into my 44th. Good night.