Monday, October 31, 2016

Some other stuff

And now we take a break from that baseball deal, in which the Cubs kept the dream alive because Kris Bryant finally showed up and Aroldis Chapman kept the flamethrower going for twice the customary number of outs (plus two!). A 3-2 win in Game 5 sends the World Series back to Cleveland now, where there are two possible scenarios:

1. 2015 Jake Arrieta shows up again in Game 6 and 2016 Corey Kluber, in his third start in a week, finally runs out of magic, and the Cubs come back from 3-1 down to make the fairy tale October of all fairy tale Octobers even more fairy tale-ish.

2. The Indians wrap it up in front of their long-suffering home fans, which is the way it should have been all along.

And now, in other news ...

Remember NASCAR?

Yes, they're still racing. I know, it's ridiculous.

But good news for Jimmie Johnson haters: By winning at Martinsville yesterday, he vaulted into the Chase final four, thereby guaranteeing he'll be racing for a seventh Cup title in the season finale at Homestead.

(And if you're wondering right now, "How is this good news for Jimmie Johnson haters?", the answer is, it's not. I was just stringing you along because it's Halloween, and playing mean tricks on people is part of the tradition. Consider yourselves tricked.)

Over in the NBA, meanwhile, the Superfriends have not been Super so far at Golden State, prompting consternation and concern from those who periodically forget that the NBA season stretches across entire epochs. Relax, people. Steph 'n' KD 'n' Draymond 'n' them will be fine, even if they won't be what the Warriors were last year. This is because adding one Kevin Durant does not equal subtracting all your rim protectors, which is what the Warriors did. The result is a net loss -- which is why the Warriors will likely make the NBA Finals again, but just as likely won't win 70 games again or maybe even be the favorites to win it all come June.

You heard it here first. OK, so 1,247th.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wait 'til ...

Because, sadly, it's time to start thinking about that, if you're Cubs Nation. Again. As always. World without end, amen.

It's time to start thinking of this World Series not as the pinnacle, but as the next step to the pinnacle. Corey Kluber silenced the Lovables again last night, 7-2, and now it is the Indians, on the eve of Halloween, who are poised to exorcise all those stubborn old haunts.

A chance? Oh, sure, there's still a chance. It's possible Jon Lester returns to form tonight, and the Cubs torment Trevor Bauer again, and it goes back to Cleveland with the Indians leading 3-games-to-2. But waiting there will be Josh Tomlin in Game 6 and Kluber in Game 7, and a delirious fan base that has rarely seen anything but beige failure itself since Harry Truman was in the White House. Hard to see the Cubs winning twice there, given the circumstances.

And, of course, given that the meme of this Series is now set in stone.

It's the Indians' inexhaustible cache of  arms vs. the Cubs potent-but-overeager sticks, and the arms have firmly established their dominance -- to such an extent that, when the Indians jumped out 3-1 last night, the reasonable and observant understood the issue had been decided. All that was left to do was pencil in the final score.

And so, Cleveland leads the Series 3-1. And if Indians fans have seen this sort of tease before, it doesn't feel the same this time. It would, after all, be weirdly appropriate for the Indians to win the Series by taking all three games in Wrigley; like the Cavs coming from 3-1 down against a team that won 73 games in the regular season, maybe it just takes something totally crazy to finally reverse the mojo.

And if that sounds as if the Blob is writing off the Northsiders ...

Well. You can thank me later if the miracle happens.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Panic time in Wrigleyville

OK, so not really. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

However ...

However, the Cubs have now been shut out twice in three World Series games and four times all told in the playoffs, going down 1-0 to Josh Tomlin and the Cleveland Indians' usual array of bullpen help. And tonight they get to face Corey Kluber again, who silenced them in Game 1. And Game 3 did re-establish the prevailing opinion, which is that the Indians' top-to-bottom depth in pitching and manager Terry Francona's impeccable ability to shift that depth around to his advantage are going to make the Indians very, very hard to beat.

And maybe impossible to beat.

No, it's not time to panic yet. If the Indians could find a way to beat Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs could find a way to beat Kluber, whom they've at least seen now. And their record against pitchers whom they've seen at least once is yea better than their record against pitchers they haven't.

 But the road to winning their first Series since 1908 just got exponentially more difficult, and the numbers are heavily against them now. And the Indians still have Francona pulling the levers.

Hmm. Maybe a little panic wouldn't be out of place right now.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Your debate topic for today

And now, just because the Blob is that kind of Blob, it's time to kick-start an argument that's been going on forever and will never really be resolved.

You know Kyle Schwarber, who hasn't played for six months and yet has three hits in seven World Series at-bats and has absolutely been the story of the Series so far?

Best argument yet for the DH.


Game 2, explained (sort of)

So it's Wednesday night and Jake Arrieta, the 2016 model, is having a conversation in the bullpen pre-game. Casual observers believe the bigness of the moment -- Game 2 of the first Cubs World Series in 71 years! -- has sent him around the bend, because it looks like he's talking to himself.

Not really. It's just Jake 2016 talking to Jake 2015.

JAKE 2016: Hey. Dude. You want to pitch this one?

JAKE 2015: Ah, I don't know. I mean, it's been so long ...

JAKE 2016: Come on, man. It's the World Series. It'll be fun, I promise.

JAKE 2015: Ah ....

JAKE 2016: Come on. Just this once.

JAKE 2015: Well ... OK.

And then Jake 2015 picks up his glove, trots out to the mound and pitches a no-hitter for 5 1/3, helping the Cubs win 5-1 to even the Series at a game apiece.

The end.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Game 1 was Game 1. And that's all.

Well. At least Corey Kluber wasn't this Corey. Or this Corey, either.

At least he was just Corey Kluber, who Klubbed the Kubs with a flurry of Ks, then departed with his work well done: a four-hit, nine-strikeout performance that staked the Indians to a 6-0 victory in Game 1 of the World Series. And, really, Cubs Nation, weren't you just a tiny bit unsurprised?

For three days, after all, it's been delirium and joy and omigod-we're-in-the-World-Series, which hinted broadly that, come Game 1, the Cubs would play like a team that was just happy to be there. And the Indians ... well, the Indians would be the Indians, throwing Kluber out there with his filthy stuff, getting the timely hit, playing the role of the wise old heads who knew there were still four more games to win.

It was, on its face, a ridiculous notion, given that the Indians haven't been to a World Series themselves in two decades, and haven't won one in 68. Their own record of futility and epic losing is almost as monumental as that of the Cubs. Only against the Cubs could they come off looking like the team that's been there before.

They are also going to be a tough, and perhaps impossible, out. Lost in all the hoo-ha over the Cubs getting to the World Series for the first time in 71 years is A) they still have to play more games, and B) the Indians are not merely the willing foils in this fairy-tale drama. Yes, the Cubs are the better team on paper, and pretty clearly so. But the Indians have already made confetti out of two teams that were better on paper. And they have the better pitching, having given up only 15 runs in nine postseason games -- eight of which have been Ws.

So the work is cut out, and if there are any saving graces to be taken away from last night, it's that, presumably, it's returned the Cubs' feet to the ground. And it's baseball, which more than any other sport is devoid of momentum.

Which means what happened last night will have no more bearing on tonight than what happened a few yards away in QuickenLoans Arena last night,, where the Cavaliers raised their NBA championship banner and then pounded lumps on the heads of the hapless Knicks. Two new pitchers will take the bump in Game 2, and the blackboard is wiped clean. Everybody's starting over from scratch, with nine fresh unmarked innings lying ahead.

On we go. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Survey sez ...

Remember the other day, when the Blob pointed out just how thoroughly Major League Baseball stepped in it by not inviting Charlie Sheen -- aka, Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn -- to throw out the first pitch of the World Series in Cleveland tonight?

Well. I have conducted an extraordinarily scientific survey (i.e., I asked a few of my Cub friends) who should get the honor of throwing out the first pitch Friday for the first World Series game in Wrigley Field in 71 years.

The consensus: Billy Williams.

Who would be my choice, too, even though I'm sort of partial to former Cubs manager Lee "My (Bleeping) Ass" Elia, simply because he delivered the greatest postgame rant of all time one spring day in 1983. 

(OK, so that's a lie. I was just going for laughs there, and perhaps irony).

Anyway ... Billy Williams was the pick, although Ryne Sandberg got a few well-deserved votes, too. They're both icons, but Williams is the last of a generation that would have reveled in this like few others had they lived. But Ernie Banks and Ron Santo and Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray are all gone. Williams is the most prominent figure from that generation left.

He's a Hall of Famer who played 2,213 games in 16 seasons for the Cubs, and hit 392 home runs for them, and drove in 1,353 runs for them. None of those 2,213 games were World Series games. More than 1,350 of them were losses. Who better to fully appreciate the moment? Who better to stride out to the mound, wrap his hand around the baseball and fling it plateward, thereby exorcising all the ghosts, all the sour history -- all the failing -- with one elegant motion?

Yessir. If Ernie or Ronnie or Jack can't do it, their old running buddy should. Or so it says here.   

A few brief thoughts on NFL Week 7

And now this week's edition of The NFL In So Many Words, the numbingly repetitive Blob feature of which the electorate has said, "If I vote now, will it go away?" and "Hillary vs. Training Wheels Mussolini wasn't bad enough? Who put this crap on the ballot?":

1. Hey, look, the Colts won!

2. Kind of.

3. OK, so they didn't lose, then. Geez, people.

4. Meanwhile, the Patriots won and Tom Brady threw for a bunch of yards and stuff and blah-blah-blah, yada-yada-yada.

5. Pssst. Hey, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Your mom just called.

6. She doesn't believe in you, either.

7. It's Tuesday morning, and now A.J. Green is surrounded by seven Cleveland Browns in the end zone.

8. And he stills makes the catch.

9. Meanwhile, the Patriots ...

10. Blah-blah-blah. Yada-yada-yada.  

Monday, October 24, 2016

Heretical thought for today

America will watch, Ray. This time, America will watch.

("Oh, God. Another hackneyed 'Field of Dreams' reference." -- The Blobosphere)

("Quit dragging me into hackneyed 'Field of Dreams' references!" -- Ray)

OK, OK. But it's true. America's gonna watch. This World Series, it will watch.

That's because it's the Cubs and the Indians, who haven't won the Series in a combined 176 years. That predates the World Series. Heck, it practically predates baseball. (Or actually does, depending on which creation myth you believe).

That's why this is going to be, in the Blob's humble opinion, the most-watched World Series in years and years. Everyone wants to see what happens when Epic Failure meets Even More Epic Failure. Someone has to not Fail this time, and we all want to be there to watch it when it happens.

As some poster of some guy in Cleveland likes to put it, We Are All Witnesses.

And so this time, this one time, the World Series might actually wrestle the national attention span away from the mega-corporation that is the National Football League. This is, of course, utter heresy, especially if you're the mega-corporation. But it's true nonetheless.

That's because the NFL's ratings are down, at least by NFL standards. Numerous pundits are opining why that is, the less-hinged among them suggesting it's all Colin Kaepernick's fault for his eloquent act of conscience.

(This is ridiculous, naturally. Moving the NFL's ponderous viewing needle to an extent it would be noticeable would require some intensely organized national movement among the super-patriots. And there's zero evidence such a movement exists.)

More credible is the NFL's continued ham-fisted bungling of the whole domestic violence issue, in which the Shield talks a good game before letting Josh Brown off the hook for terrorizing his wife. Even more credible, frankly, is what happened Sunday night.

What happened, with the entire country still buzzing about the Cubs, was Seattle 6, Arizona 6. On national TV.

"The Cubs are going to the World Series!" America cried.

"Three hours, four field goals!" the NFL replied.

Yessir. America will watch.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Karmic kollision

Somewhere this morning in the great celestial man cave, Mike Royko is writing a column, and it's better than this column, better in fact than any column ever written anywhere by anyone about anything.

Somewhere, Harry is pounding a Bud, falling out of the broadcast booth, giving the shout-out of all shout-outs to Myrtle and Merle from Winnetka.

Ernie Banks just yelped "Let's win four (more)!" Ron Santo clicked his heels once, twice, a million times. And the College of Coaches re-convened, looked at each across the table and said, "Nah. Joe's got this."

That would be Joe Maddon, manager of your National League champion Chicago Cubs, and go ahead, say that again just to make it real. The Cubs are going to the World Series for the first time since the boys were coming home from Europe and the Pacific at the end of Big Two, and what a magical thing it is. Bill Murray cried. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra played "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." And somewhere up there, my dear grandmother, the formidable and esteemed Maggie Smith, is cackling as only Maggie Smith could cackle, and asking her sportswriter grandson, "What do you think of my Cubs NOW?"

Well, Grandma ... I think they're about to enter the Twilight Zone of World Series.

This is because it's the Cubs vs. the Cleveland Indians, one a bunch of lovable losers and one just a bunch of losers, and there will be a great disruption in the cosmos. One team hasn't won the World Series since Teddy Roosevelt was president. The other hasn't won one since Harry Truman was. It's the Somebody's Got To Not Lose Series, two ballclubs with the worst karma in baseball doing battle to see whose history of misfortune and calamity will cry uncle the loudest.

You want to know how Rod Serling-esque this deal is?

The Indians, if they win, are going to be viewed as the bad guys by most of America. The Indians. From Cleveland. A franchise so short on lore, their most iconic figure of the last 50 years is a fictional film character named Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn. A city that, until LeBron brought the Cavaliers back from the dead in June, was the undisputed hard-luck capital of America, unadorned by a champion in anything since 1964. A city where everything that could go wrong went wrong in such spectacular fashion, even its very rivers once caught fire.

Not even nature could get it right in Cleveland, it seemed.

Now, though, it's the overdog in this scenario, because not even Cleveland can stand, misfortune-wise, against the Cubs' epic futility. They not only haven't won a World Series in 108 years, they haven't even been to a World Series in 71. Most years, they haven't come close. The other years, something awful and usually stupid happened,.

There was Moises Alou, blaming some poor guy named Steve Bartman for costing him a catch he wouldn't have made anyway. There was Leon Durham letting a baseball roll unmolested through his legs. There was the Great Unraveling of 1969, when a Cubs team that seemed as formidable as this one for much of the summer inexplicably expired in the stretch, allowing  the Amazin' Mets to find their place in World Series lore.

Indians fans, of course, will come back with Jose Mesa, who couldn't hold the 2-1 lead in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series against the Marlins. After which Cubs fans will come back with the NLCS collapses of '84 and '89 and '03.

"Oh, yeah? Well, how about no postseason appearances, four 100-loss seasons and only four winning seasons between 1969 and 1993?" Indians Fan will retort.

"Yeah? Well, how about 18 losing seasons in 20 years between 1947 and 1967?" Cubs Fan will rebut.

And so on, and so on.

Let the Series, and one-downsmanship, begin.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A most excellent suggestion

Kudos to my former Journal Gazette colleague Justin Cohn for this one.

Now that the Cleveland Indians are in the World Series, awaiting their partners in stinky karma the Cubs (The Dodgers? Who wants to see that?), it's time to think about who throws out the first pitch for Game 1 of the Series in Cleveland next week. And, as Justin rightly points out, there can be only one appropriate person to do this.

No, not LeBron.

No, not Drew Carey.

No, not some past Indians legend, assuming of course that the Indians even have any past legends who aren't dead at the present time.

(Although I suppose Go Joe Charboneau might qualify)

No, sir. None of the above. There's only one person right for this job, and it's this guy.

Wild Thing! Come on, are you kidding me? Who the hell else?

Well, apparently anyone else, because Major League Baseball, dryer-lint-for-brains nitwits that they are, has already nixed the idea. Idiots. I mean, come on: You fly in Charlie Sheen, you dress him in Rick Vaughn's uni, you stick the goofy black glasses on his face ... the place will go nuts! America will go nuts, because if "Major League" isn't the quintessential Cleveland baseball meme, there is no quintessential Cleveland baseball meme.

Wild Thing. Yes. Accept no substitutes.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Remember yesterday, when the Blob said this?

If Lackey can keep the Dodgers in check -- and if someone in the Cubs lineup gets solid wood on the ball just one time -- the floodgates could open. Momentum, after all, is a myth. That's especially true in baseball, where momentum is the next at-bat.

Maybe now you'll listen to me.

(OK, maybe not. But this time. At least this time, 'cause I was right for once, and that doesn't happen very often, so I would like the satisfaction of saying "Maybe now you'll listen me.")

Where was I again?

Oh, yeah, I said this thing wasn't over, that if the Cubs could get solid wood on the ball, the floodgates could open. And they did. Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell, who looked lost until last night, had six hits between them. The Cubs had 13. And the Cubs won Game 4 10-2 to even the series.

Of course ... the rest of what I said still applies: Momentum is a myth.

Which means today is a clean sheet, and here we go again. The Cubs will run out Jon Lester again, and Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts says he won't come with Clayton Kershaw on short rest, which means the odds tilt back in the Cubs' favor to take this back to Chicago with a 3-2 lead.

Unless ...

Unless Roberts is lying. Which he could be.

In which case, as always, who knows. All I know is this: The Cubs are still the favorites to win the and advance to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.

This is not because they are, as we keep hearing, still the best team in baseball.

It's because this also happened yesterday.

Cubs vs. Indians: The Someone's Got To Not Lose Series.

It's fate. It's karma. It's simply meant to be.     

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wait 'til ...

No. No, no, no, no.

No, we are not going there yet, not for a minute or so, even if this is starting to look like last year's NLCS all over again. Remember that? Remember all those Mets arms silencing all those potent Cubs bats?

Well, it's happening again, and if you were paying attention, you saw it even before Rich Hill put a Masterlock on the Cubs bat rack last night. The Cubs' big boppers haven't been bopping the entire playoffs, even as the Lovables disposed of the Giants in four games. Now they've been shut out twice in a row, the first time that's happened in the playoffs to a team that was trying (it happened to the Black Sox in 1919) since the Cubs did it to the Tigers in 1908. And we all know what happened that year.

I don't know what you call that. Karma in reverse, maybe.

All I know, right now, anyway, is this looks perilously like choking, as impolitic as that might sound. The Cubs have managed six hits in the last 19 innings. Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell look lost at the dish. They're all squeezing the sticks so hard they're leaving little piles of sawdust in the batter's box; everyone, it seems, is trying to hit a grand slam instead of just piecing together rallies a knock at a time.

That, after all, would take patience. And patience is the first soldier to fall when the pressure starts to mount.

And yet ...

And yet, it's hardly over. The Cubs send John Lackey to the hill tonight, a veteran of many playoff wars. If Lackey can keep the Dodgers in check -- and if someone in the Cubs lineup gets solid wood on the ball just one time -- the floodgates could open. Momentum, after all, is a myth. That's especially true in baseball, where momentum is the next at-bat.

True, it's must-win time. True, even if the Cub level things at 2-2, the specter of Clayton Kershaw's next start tilts the series in the Dodgers' favor. But a win tonight gets the series back to Wrigley, and if this Cubs team gets the series back to Wrigley, it's hard to conceive of them not winning it.

Wait 'til next year?

Wait 'til we see what happens tonight. Then we'll know.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A few brief thoughts on NFL Week 6

And now this week's edition of The NFL In So Many Words, the Blob feature described as "rigged" by a certain "presidential" "candidate" because ... because ... well, because he's losing:

1. Hey, look, the Colts are going to beat the Texans agai--

2. Oh, wait.

3. Paging Tony Romo ... paging Tony Romo ...

4. Your baseball cap and clipboard are ready.

5. Hey, look, the Bears are going to beat the lowly Jagua--

6. Oh, wait.

7. Dang it. Tom Brady was Tom Brady again.

8. Clearly the NFL is rigged.

9. Aaand there goes Cam Newton, escaping the postgame news conference again.

10. That guy's just special.

Monday, October 17, 2016

That guy in Kalamazoo

I know what time it is now in West Lafayette, with Darrell Hazell sent packing and Ross-Ade Stadium a massive echo chamber on Saturday afternoons.

It's time to slip the oars in the oarlocks and row, baby.

This would be a reference the young coach everyone is calling the Row the Boat guy, 36-year-old P.J. Fleck. Up in Kalamazoo, he's been busy bringing a football program back from the dead, and right now he's got the Western Michigan Broncos sitting fat and happy at 7-0. They've beaten not one but two Big Ten schools this year (Northwestern and Illinois). They've risen the way a dead football program is supposed to rise, by slow increments, fueled by a revitalized recruiting apparatus that is beating out all those schools that used to beat out it for talent.

Check out the timeline: Under Fleck, the Broncos went 1-11 their first season. Then they went 8-5. Then they went 8-5 again and won the first bowl game in the program's history. Now they're 7-0 and ranked 24th in the country.

And, yes, Purdue fans (at least the less observant ones) will observe that another MAC hotshot is the last thing the program needs, because Hazell failed so miserably. When new athletic director Mike Bobinski let him go after a 49-35 home loss to Iowa Saturday, Hazell was 9-33 in 3 1/2 seasons. That's the worst winning percentage for a Purdue football coach in 95 years.

More to the point, people have stopped caring about Purdue football. Average attendance in Ross-Ade this fall is 32,078, roughly half what the stadium holds. And of those 32,078, most are there out of inertia, not because anything is happening on the field to excite them.

Now comes people like me talking up another MAC guy. And so the reaction ("No more nobodies from the MAC") is perhaps understandable.

Of course, this ignores the nobody from the MAC who's coaching at Ohio State these days (Urban Meyer, Bowling Green). It ignores that other nobody from the MAC who's coaching at Alabama (Nick Saban, Toledo). And it ignores a couple of other nobodies from the MAC who, shall we say, went on to somewhat notable Big Ten careers (Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, Miami).

Couple of points here:

1. Fleck is not Hazell.

 Hazell parlayed one stellar season at Kent State with his predecessor's players into the Purdue job. Fleck has built Western into a power on his own hook. Big difference.

2. Fleck is not Hazell, Part Deux.

Unlike the understated Hazell, he's a boundless ball of energy, the guy who came up with a silly slogan ("Row the Boat") and turned it into mantra gold. Everybody in Kalamazoo is Rowing the Boat now. It, and the enthusiasm of the man who came up with it, has become infectious. And isn't that exactly what Purdue needs at the moment?

3. Les Miles is not coming to West Lafayette.

 A lot of people are talking this up, but I can't see it. Coaches who've been where Les Miles has been do not usually take steps backward, which is what going from LSU to Purdue would be. They especially don't do it when so many better jobs (Texas, Oregon, Auburn) seem destined to come open. Purdue, right now, is a cash-strapped program with limited resources that, absent Joe Tiller's 11 years, hasn't been much good since the 1970s. They weren't even all that good with, ahem, non-MAC nobodies such as one-time Texas coach Fred Akers at the wheel.

And speaking of the '70s, Miles offense comes directly from there. It's a plodding, run-heavy offense. While perhaps suitable to the Big Ten, it's not suitable to Purdue, the cradle of quarterbacks. Or so it would seem.

So there you have it. The Blob could be dead wrong about all of the above, of course. And it could especially be wrong about the guy in Kalamazoo.

All those better programs destined to come open, for instance?

Something tells me that, while some Purdue fans talk about nobodies from the MAC, those programs might not have a problem hiring this particular nobody.

Which would be the best endorsement of him yet.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Karma, proceeding

Some people don't believe in karma, just like some people don't believe in unicorns and leprechauns and whatever fairy tale Donny Trump, the black sheep Brother Grimm, is peddling this time around.

I have to say, I'm one of those. I don't believe in karma in sports. Especially in baseball. I believe, in baseball,  karma is whoever your starter is for a particular day.

Which doesn't mean I won't acknowledge the possibility that something weird -- like, you know, karma -- might occasionally be happening.

And so to yesterday, when the Cleveland Indians, who have not won a World Series since Harry Truman was president, beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 to go up 2-0 in the ALCS. Meanwhile, of course, the Chicago Cubs, who haven't been to a World Series since Truman was president,
built a 3-0 lead over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS.

Then they lost it.

Then they were forced to pinch-hit for their ace closer.

Then they won 8-4 because the pinch-hitter, who just a moment ago had been drinking an Old Style in the left-field bleachers, hit a grand slam.

OK, OK. So the Cubs didn't really pull Miguel Montero out of the stands. It only seemed like it.

He is not, after all, a guy you'd ordinarily figure would hit a game-winning grand slam in the NLCS. He's a backup catcher who's played in only 86 of 162 games this season. He batted .216. He did, however, hit eight home runs and drive in 33 runs.

So it wasn't entirely impossible to think he'd be the hero for the Cubs last night. Just almost impossible.

And because it was only almost impossible, the Cubs and Indians meeting in the Lousy Karma World Series got incrementally more possible.

Not that, you know, there's such a thing as karma.

Your heretical thought for today

So in South Bend last night, the Only Somewhat Fighting Irish of Notre Dame lost again, this time coming from 10 points ahead to lose to a Stanford team that was coming off two straight blowout losses and was playing without its star running back, Christian McCaffrey.

This dropped the Irish to 2-5 on the season, with Miami, Navy, Virginia Tech and USC still to come.

Three-plus hours south, meanwhile, in Bloomington, Indiana fell behind No. 10 Nebraska, then made a fight of it, eventually falling 27-22 because the Cornhuskers kicked a field goal with 45 seconds to play, forcing Indiana to have to score a touchdown to catch them. An interception ended the Hoosiers' last threat.

With the loss, Indiana fell to 3-3, but looked more and more like a football team no one in the Big Ten can sleep on anymore.

Which makes you think Notre Dame is thanking Saint Knute and the rest of the football gods that Indiana -- Indiana, for cryin' out loud --  isn't on its schedule this year.

I told you it was a heretical thought.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Watching paint dry

Playoff baseball is not for the impatient. So maybe this is my fault.

It's my fault my attention wanders so easily -- I really must buy a leash for it someday -- or that I'm so easily bored by long waits for things to happen, or that I find myself shouting "Throw the damn ball already!" when some ace lollygags for hours between pitches.

I like a sport that proceeds apace. And that's not baseball these days.

That was especially true last night, when the Nationals and Dodgers played an elimination game some called epic, and those of us suffering from chronic OCD called a visit to the BMV, only with more pitching changes. The Dodgers eventually beat the Nationals 4-3 to advance to the NLCS. And it only took them four hours and 32 minutes to do it.

Four hours and 32 minutes. To play nine innings of baseball.

You could watch Helio Castroneves drive roughly 750 miles in that length of time, or watch LeBron go for 41 and 16 in one game, then turn around and go for 22 and 8 in an another entire half-plus. Germany could beat the U.S. 2 1/2 times in soccer in that length of time. You could drive from Fort Wayne almost to Buffalo.

And, yes, I get it, seamheads, baseball is not racing or basketball or soccer. But it shouldn't be four hours of watching outfielders scratch their jewels, either. The game was never supposed to be played at such a crawl. And it didn't used to be.

The Blob has bloviated this before, but back in the day, when the Cubs were still winning World Series, baseball was a fast-moving, fast-paced game. It was a rare nine innings that took more than two hours to play. And that included playoff games.

And, sure, there was no TV then. But even after TV came along, the average Major League game rarely ran more than two-and-a-half hours. Now it's almost twice that -- or at least it was last night.

Granted, it was an elimination game, which of course meant both managers emptied their bullpens. The Nationals used seven pitchers. The Dodgers used six. That's 11 pitching changes, 11 times a pitcher trotted slowly in from the bullpen, then threw eight or 10 leisurely (and entirely unnecessary) warmup pitches.

The seamheads, of course, will say I simply don't appreciate the slow buildup of drama in all of this. They'll say baseball is a game of moments, and the slower the buildup to those moments, the more enhanced their drama.

They'll say that's what made last night so epic.

I won't dispute that. I just wish the epic had epic-ed a little faster. And I think the fact it didn't, and the fact playoff baseball in particular so obstinately rides the brakes, is why young people are abandoning the sport in droves. This is 2016, the era of instant messaging, instant oatmeal, instant everything. It's also the post-agricultural era -- which means four hours of a guy standing in a field doesn't have the romance it used to.

One wonders, actually, if it would have even in the more rural America of baseball's dawning. I mean, four-and-a-half hours to play a baseball game?

Sorry, gentlemen. The cows need milking.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Bear truth

I get the Jay Cutler hate. I do.

I get, first of all, that it's more visceral than substantive, more "His attitude sucks" than "He can't play." That perpetual scowl. That don't-give-a-hoot vibe. That famous time he sat out the second half of a playoff game with a bum knee -- even though I'll go to my grave believing he was more sinned against than sinning that day, because in today's NFL the docs' word is law, and if the docs tell you to sit, you sit.

And so that whole "Well, so-and-so would have told the docs to get bent and gone back out there" business was moot. So-and-so didn't play in today's NFL. If so-and-so did, he'd have been sitting, too, if the docs told him to sit. That's just how it works.

Anyway ... I get the Cutler hate. He's not a leader in the way you expect a quarterback in the NFL to be a leader. And so there is the perception, perhaps real and perhaps not, that his teammates don't play as hard for him as they would for someone else.

Someone like, oh, I don't know, Brian Hoyer, for instance.

And so now that Hoyer is putting up by far the best numbers of his beige career, there is a prevailing opinion out there that, once Cutler comes back from his injury, the Bears should ride it out with Hoyer and hand the clipboard to their high-dollar starter. This, of course, assumes Hoyer can keep doing what he did in the first four games, in which he averaged 273.5 yards, threw six touchdowns and zero interceptions and put up a quarterback rating of 108.5.

Those are some impressive numbers. They're even more impressive when you consider the guy putting them up has a QBR of 85.1 for his career, during which he's completed less than 60 percent of his passes and thrown 44 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.

In other words, he is what he is, a serviceable career backup. And Cutler is what he is -- which is the best quarterback the Bears have had in my lifetime, even if he's hardly their best leader.

I know this is hard to hear, but it's demonstrably true. I've been watching Bears' quarterbacks since Jack Concannon was throwing balls into Lake Michigan. Cutler -- physically and numerically, at least  -- puts all of them in the shade.

Last year, when all you heard was how awful he was, he completed almost 65 percent of his passes and threw 21 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions. That was one interception every 44 throws for the guy some Bears fans, because of his number, call Pick 6. His QB rating was 92.3.

This does not sound like Cutler was awful to me. This sounds like he was pretty damn good, actually.

But, sure. He sucks.

Why, he's much, much worse than the quarterback the Bears had when they won their only Super Bowl. That guy was great. Wasn't he?

Well ... um, no. That guy was Jim McMahon, who threw almost as many picks (90) as touchdowns (100) in a 15-year career. The year the Bears won the Super Bowl, he had 15 touchdowns and 11 picks in 313 attempts, or one pick every 28 attempts. His completion percentage was just under 57 percent. And his QBR was 82.6, almost four points behind Cutler's career QBR.

The unavoidable conclusion: Cutler's way better. At least performance-wise.

I know. I get that you hate that, too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Heart attack at the plate

That was some mean business the Chicago Cubs pulled on their faithful last night. What's next, Joe Maddon pulling the wings off flies? Trotting out a goat and saying "Hey, look, it's our new good luck charm!'?

There is angst enough these days for Cub Nation, which has alternated between giddy swagger and  creeping dread all summer long. They know they're looking at probably the best Cubs team in not only their lifetimes, but their parents' and grandparents' lifetimes. That's why when the shoe drops this time, it's going to be a size-16 EEE Doc Martin. Steel-toed.

And, listen, if you don't think they're all waiting for that shoe to come whistling down from the cosmos, you don't know Cubs fans. They're so conditioned to disappointment -- crushing disappointment, not just oh-rats-someone-ate-the-last-donut disappointment -- that even now, even with a team this good, they're halfway cringing. And that stunt last night didn't help.

What sort of cruel streak do you have to have to get down three runs entering the ninth inning, and then score four in the ninth to win it? Especially when a Giants' win would force an -- oh my God -- winner-take-all Game 5? And especially because it's the Giants, who have a habit of getting things to come out right in October?

No one had to tell a Cubs fan what they were up against going into the ninth last night. There's a stat out there, recited this morning on Dweeb Mike & Rockhead Mike, that said teams leading by three or more runs going into the ninth were 800-something to 3 all-time.

Now it's 800-something to 4. Although it's unlikely Cubs fans are fully appreciative this morning.

Instead, they're probably saying something like "Don't do that again." No doubt followed by "Cubs win! Cubs w--GAACK!" as they clutch their chests and keel over.

Not nice, Cubs. Not nice at all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A few brief thoughts on NFL Week 5

And now this week's edition of The NFL In So Many Words, the Blob feature that "elevates locker room talk to a new plane" according to a certain presidential candidate who's not remotely familiar with locker room talk, and to whom another certain presidential candidate has replied, "Yeah, a biplane, maybe":

1. See, I told you Tom Brady would show his age when he came back.

2. That would be, like, 26, right?

3. Don't worry, Tony Romo. The Jer-meister still has your back.

4. Look, his hands are right in the middle of it!

5. Don't worry, Jay Cutler. Brian Hoyer's not playing that well.

6. Look, he only threw for 397 yards this week!

7. No, Carson Wentz is not the new Tom Brady.

8. That would be Dak Prescott.

9. Or maybe Tom Brady.

And last but not least ...

10. Hey, it's not like the Vikings are still undefeated or anyth--

Speaking fluent $$$

When last we left the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, they were doing a splendid impersonation of a MAC school, and not one of the good MAC schools. In fact, there was some question whether they were, in fact, actually impersonating a MAC school, given that their impersonation looked a lot more like an FCS school.

And not one of the good ones there, either.

This will happen when you lose to Ohio State 58-0 one week, and then turn around and lose to Michigan 78-0 the next week. It was almost as if, having been roadworked by the Buckeyes, the Scarlet Knights said, "What you mean we're not that bad? Watch this!"

And off they went to get Big Housed at home.

And if you're asking now, as many people are, what the hell Rutgers is doing playing Michigan and Ohio State instead of, say, Elon University, you must have fallen asleep back in 1952. Rutgers is playing Michigan and Ohio State because, even though it doesn't remotely resemble a Big Ten football program, it happens to be located in the right place. Which is to say, where the money is.

It's an East Coast school, which means, by signing it, the Big Ten Network gained access to the cash-heavy New York and New Jersey markets. Adding Maryland, another Big Ten outlier, enabled the conference to tap into the D.C. market as well.

Does it matter that Rutgers has no business playing football in the Big Ten? Or that Maryland, geographically, traditionally and in every other way, fits the Big Ten the way a giraffe fits the North Pole?

No, it does not. What matters is the money. There's only one stream that flows through high-end college athletics, and that's the revenue stream.

I know. Surprise, surprise.

I also know, because of that obvious fact, that Rutgers could go on to lose 78-0 every week, and  the Big Ten wouldn't give a hoot. This is not about the quality of the product or the legitimacy of the competition, after all.  That might have been true once upon a time, but it isn't now.

Almost makes you wish you had fallen asleep back in 1952. And didn't wake up.

Monday, October 10, 2016

About that "locker-room talk" ...

The funniest thing I ever heard in a locker room was directed at me.

It was a few years back after another hurricane slapped Louisiana around, and the New Orleans Saints were in Indianapolis as a result, because they had no place to practice. So I'm down in the locker room, a guy with a white beard and, shall we say, a generous midsection. And suddenly one of the Saints defensive backs (I don't recall his name) pointed at me.

"Yo, man!" he piped. "Where's your sleigh?"

And ha-ha-ha, ho-ho-ho, good one, dude. I immediately hung a left to go talk to the guy, figuring someone who could crank off a line that good probably had a few others stored up.

You might not believe this, but none of them involved bragging about sexual assault.

According to the Game Show Host, that's just standard locker room talk, bragging about being able to take any woman you want just because you can. Since that infamous tape came out over the weekend, that's been his defense for Trump-eting his theoretical prowess as a sexual predator.

(Or, perhaps, not so theoretical. You don't say stuff like that unless you're willing to actually do it. Or actually have. We shall see.)

I've been in a lot of locker rooms in 38 years as a sportswriter. A lot of them. And so allow me to clarify a few things for Donny, and for all of Donny's unquestioning followers:

Sorry, boys and girls. But bragging about sexual assault is not standard "locker room talk." Not in any locker room I've ever been in. Even for The Game Show Host, that is some weak-ass stuff.

Sure, I've heard (or at least overheard) some crude stuff over the years, especially when the locker room in question is a losing one. But I've never heard anyone bragging or otherwise making light of sexual assault, even in locker rooms where some players have been accused/charged with it. So I really don't know which locker room Donny is referring to. The one in Shawshank, perhaps?

It is, frankly, a gross insult to the many fine men I've met in all those locker rooms.  It's an insult to men in general. We are not all Visigoths, as Donny seems to imply. We are not all crude knuckle-dragging thugs like the Game Show Host, whose example of "manhood" is not one with which any real man is remotely familiar.

Sorry, Donny. But you're an embarrassment to the male species. Please get off our island.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

All weathered out

This would surely have found a place in the lore, if Notre Dame could have made it come out right. Notre Dame Whips A Hurricane. Notre Dame 1, Mother Nature 0. Or for the true weather nerds: The Irish Bend Isobars In Their Bare Hands.

Alas, it did not come out right.

There were a couple of wind-blown field goals, and then, with just under 13 minutes to play, North Carolina State blocked a punt and Dexter Wright returned it for a touchdown, the only way either team was going to find the end zone on this day. And North Carolina State won, 10-3.

No. Scratch that.

Matthew won.

That would be Hurricane Matthew, which barged ashore down in South Carolina and then barreled up into North Carolina, turning what was supposed to be a football game into utter travesty. Torrential rain driven by 45-mph winds reduced both teams to almost total helplessness; all told, the two teams fumbled 10 times and were a combined 14-of-38 passing. Notre Dame had 41 total yards through three quarter and finished with 113. North Carolina State passed for all of 41 yards.

It wasn't fair to anyone, trying to play football in such conditions. It wasn't fair to the fans. It wasn't fair to either coaching staff, which worked all week to prepare. And it for sure wasn't fair to the players, whose physical safety was put at risk playing on a field that was under water in some places.

 Look. The Blob has long been on record that one of its favorite things is football played in extremis. Blizzards. Rain and mud. Windchills that could freeze a random thought. Bring it on.

But there are limits, and yesterday exceeded them. Sometimes games like this happen because the weather catches everyone out. This wasn't one of those times. The ACC knew what was coming. It could have, and should have, postponed the game, the way the SEC postponed Georgia-South Carolina and LSU-Florida. Whatever that was in Raleigh yesterday -- and it sure as hell wasn't a football game -- should never have been played. It was reckless and irresponsible to have done so.

But ABC had the telecast, and no doubt the ACC had collected a chunk of change for it. So they played on. And if the ACC is comprised of praying types, they should all be hitting their knees today thanking God none of the players was seriously injured.

Because if I'm the parent of one of those players, and he tears up a knee playing in that mess, I'm on the phone to my attorney this morning. You can make bank on it.

Of course, I'd probably have no case. College football is, after all, a professional enterprise in all but name, which means the players are obliged to do what they're told by the terms of their contracts -- or, if you prefer the more fanciful narrative, their scholarships.

They're the workforce, and their universities are their bosses. So get out there and play if you still want to go to school on our dime, son.

And so they did. And, yes, it will be something they can tell their grandchildren someday, the way the survivors of the fabled Ice Bowl -- Green Bay vs. Dallas, minus-13, 1967 -- no doubt have.

Of course, what a lot of them say about it now is this: They were absolutely stone crazy to have played football in those conditions.

With time comes wisdom. Truth.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Your sign of the apocalypse for today

So the baseball playoffs have begun, which of course will provoke the usual hand-wringing among seamheads about how the National Pastime has been swallowed whole by the 800-pound gorilla that is the NFL, which puts everything around it into the deepest shade once it gets revved up in September.

Well, OK. So maybe not everything.

Comes now the astounding news that TV ratings for the NFL among the coveted 18-49 demographic are actually down 14 percent from this time a year ago. Even more astounding, this is not because NFL fans are mad at Colin Kaepernick, or are tired of Odell Beckham Jr. complaining that football isn't fun anymore, or have discovered that, hey, look, NASCAR's still running races, and Jimmie Johnson and that goober Kyle Busch Jr. aren't winning the Chase.

No. Apparently it's because interest in the presidential election is pulling viewers away.

Which means more people in America are interested in watching an ignorant buffoon trash  women who dare to talk back to him while his only slightly less shady (but clearly smarter) opponent stands back and lets him punch himself in the face.

Personally, I'd rather listen to Odell complain about his sucky life. But that's just me, America.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Why Canada is great

And, no, not because, at the moment, it appears to be far more sane than that crazy Uncle Sam who lives to the south. As if that's a particularly unusual state of affairs.

No, Canada is great because, after an idiot Blue Jays fan threw a half-full can of beer onto the field during Tuesday night's American League wild-card game, narrowly missing Baltimore outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, the Blue Jays took it upon themselves to apologize to both the Orioles and Major League Baseball. Even though the Blue Jays had nothing to do with the actions of said idiot fan.

"On the heels of one of the most competitive and exhilarating baseball games in our club's history, it is extremely unfortunate that the irresponsible actions of one individual would detract from the game on the field and tarnish an otherwise memorable night," the team said in a statement.

So that's what civilized behavior sounds like.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

And the winner is ...

... not the Cubs.

Nope, sorry. Ain't gonna happen. At the end of this month, the odometer goes from 108 empty seasons to 109, and there's nothing you can do about it, Cub Nation, no incantation you can repeat or goat you can slay or good luck charm you can clutch (Not even that game-worn Jody Davis jersey!)

You're goin' down. History says so, and so do I.

For which, you can thank me later.

You can thank me, because the last thing in this world you want me doing at this point is hopping on your bandwagon. I will crash it. I will drive it into a tree. I will forget who goes first in a roundabout and collide with the Indianapolis Colts bandwagon, which really doesn't need that at the moment.

And so, instead, I will haul out my cache of probabilities, and whisper sweet doom in your ear.

You say the Cubs have the best record in baseball?

Not a good thing, Cub Nation. Only twice in the last 25 postseasons has a team with the best record in baseball won the World Series, and both times it was the Yankees. The last time a National League team had the best record in baseball and won the World Series, it was the Mets.

Thirty years ago.

And they needed one of the epic chokes of all time by the Red Sox to do it.

Now add those 108 years of futility, and you can see what's going to happen. Every one of those years is about to become a weight on the Cubs' backs. They're a team loaded with young talent and depth at every position, and that is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because young talent secures your future; it's a curse because the weight of those 108 years will be all the more crushing.

Imagine, for instance, what happens if they lose a game or two in Wrigley. Imagine if they fall down in a series, 1-0 or 2-1 or 3-2. Even worse, imagine them going up 3-2, then losing Game 6, then having to gather their wits about them and win a Game 7 with those 108 years weighing them down.

Pressure like that you don't see every day. Or any day, really.

Which is why, at the end of this month, you're going to be singing the same old song, Cub Nation: Wait 'til next year. The Blob guarantees it.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A few brief thoughts on NFL Week 4

And now this week's edition of The NFL In So Many Words, the long-running Blob feature of which many people have said, "Geez, this is long-running!", and  also "It just keeps running and running! Who does it think it is, Abebe  Bikila?":

(Obscure Reference, Explained: Abebe Bikila was the Ethiopian who won the Olympic marathon back-to-back in 1960 and '64. In Rome in 1960, he became famous for running it barefoot)


1. Thank you, Bills. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

2. Asia. I vote Asia.

3. (Aka, "Continents Where The Indianapolis Colts Might Yet Resemble A Football Team")

4. (Since North America and Europe didn't pan out)

5. Pssst. Hey, Vikings. The Purple People Eaters called. They'd like their patent back.

6. The Bears!

7. Won!

8. No, really!

9. Antarctica! Hey, how about Antarctica?

10. (Stop. You're just being silly now)

Monday, October 3, 2016

This Just In, the weekend edition

Before we move off the weekend, here's a new Blob feature I just made up, and which may be recurring or may not be, but probably won't because the Blob isn't particularly adept at follow-through.

It's This Just In, Blobophiles! The weekend edition!

(As if, again, there's ever been any other editions, or ever will be).

Anyway ... This Just In:

1. Wait, you mean the Cardinals aren't gonna win the World Series?

2. And what do you mean they didn't even make the playoffs?

3. Wait, you mean the Patriots aren't gonna get away with it scot free?

4. And what do you mean Buffalo shut them out in Foxborough? I thought that was like, you know, illegal.

And last but not least ...

5. Wait, you mean the Bears actually won a game?

6. And what do you mean, "Brian Hoyer for President"?

Someone to root for

Time now to check in on the leadfoots from NASCAR, a pronouncement that provokes two obvious and implicit reactions:

1. What? You mean they're still racing?

2. Why?

The answer to the first is, yes, they're still racing. The answer to the second is, because NASCAR isn't as smart as IndyCar, which gets out of the way of the NFL juggernaut before it can really get up a head of steam and run it over.

NASCAR, however, insists on conducting its playoffs in the mighty shade of the 800-pound gorilla, for reasons that defy explanation. That it doesn't even begin the marquee part of its season until the NFL has stolen the nation's attention span begs the question of just who is running the sport these days, and what the discussions around the Big Corporate Table must be like.

"Aw, hell, we don't gotta worry about the NFL. Our fan base -- white male testosterone junkies who like tough guys like Tony Stewart -- probably doesn't even like pro football!" said Bobby Jimmy, vice-president in charge of strategic marketing. "Bring it on, Goodell!" ...

Or, you know, something like that.

In any case, yes, they're still racing, and, after yesterday's elimination race at Dover, the hottest driver in NASCAR is leading the Chase at the quarterfinal cutoff. He's won two of the three Chase races so far, which gives him four wins in the last 17 races. And I can see  by that look on your face that you've already guessed who it is.

No! Not Kyle Busch!

It's Martin Truex Jr., of course!

Who, seriously, is a guy you can root for, unlike Busch or that surly Kevin Harvick or boring old Jimmie Johnson. Truex isn't one of those guys, who dine with silver spoons and need a road map to Victory Lane the way an offensive lineman needs a road map to Dunkin' Donuts.  Truex is one of those other guys, the ones who spend most of their NASCAR weekend driving in anonymous circles out there and clinging to dreams that fade by slow increments with every 25th-place finish.

Truex knows all about that. He won his first Cup race back in 2007, then didn't win again for six years.  Then, in 2014, he hooked up with Furniture Row Racing, not exactly Hendrick or Gibbs or Roush. And somehow magic happened.

Last year, racing for a non-superteam, he reached the final four in the Chase. Now he's become the man to beat, an Average Joe racing for an Everyman team who've become, together, something much greater than the sum of their parts.

Which is why anyone with a soul ought to be rooting for them. Just the Blob's opinion.

Today's only possible Ryder Cup reax


Not to get all, you know, provincial about it or anything.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Ryder Cup this, Part Deux

So remember the other day, when the Blob opined that what golf needed was more trash-talking, and that the problem with the rivalry between Team USA and Team Europe in the Ryder Cup was that it wasn't enough like, say, Auburn-Alabama?

Well. Perhaps I spoke too soon.

Apparently, there's lots of trash-talking of Team Europe going on up there at Hazeltine in Minnesota -- to a degree, in fact, that some U.S. team members occasionally try to tamp it down. Which of course is an exceptionally golf-y thing to do. 

Not that it works all that well. Yesterday, it seems, Rory McIlroy got into a staredown with a particularly obnoxious fan, pointing at him and having him removed by security after said fan apparently spouted a particularly vile obscenity at him.

Not that McIlroy was the least bit ruffled. I mean, come on, he grew up Northern Ireland watching soccer. Soccer hooligans make golf hooligans look like Thurston Howell III.

And so, McIlroy stared the guy down, shrugged and striped his next iron right over the flag on No. 8, where it fetched up 15 feet from the cup. He and Thomas Pieters won the hole and went on to win the match 3-and-1.

After which McIlroy said, essentially, bring it on, homies.

"It fueled me a lot," he said of the heckling. "The more they shouted, the better we played. I hope they shout at us all day tomorrow."

Sounds like a gauntlet flung down to me.

Just another Saturday

And now, welcome to October, the month of flame and closure. When the world, or at least this part of it, shifts into Technicolor. When the best of all days are Saturdays, because Saturdays are given over to college football, and no place is as one with autumn as a college campus on the day of the big game.

Think Sunday has it all over Saturday in the fall?

Silly child. Sunday, NFL day, is a corporate board meeting. Saturday, college football day, is a carnival, blood and bone and passion with a focus to it, passion bound to heart and soul in a way the soulless professional game will never be.

You want to see soul?

For that you had to be in Death Valley at Clemson last night, where Louisville's dazzling Lamar Jackson, ran for 162 yards, passed for 295 and brought the Cardinals back from a 28-10 halftime deficit, only to lose 42-36 as Deshaun Watson led his team back in the late going.

You had to be in Bloomington, Indiana, where the Hoosiers, who usually just mark time until basketball in the fall, shocked Big Ten power Michigan State by outscoring the Spartans 24-7 in the last minute of the third quarter, the fourth quarter and overtime.

Finally, you had to be in that scarlet canyon in Athens, Georgia, between the hedges, where the most astounding finish of this or any autumn Saturday played out.

It began with Tennessee climbing out of 17-7 hole to claim an apparent come-from-behind victory, only to see Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason steal it back for the home team on a Hail Mary with 10 seconds to play. Pandemonium ensued. The stadium rocked and thundered. And then ...

Ah, yes. And then.

And then, Eason's counterpart in Volunteer orange, Josh Dobbs, reared back and flung his own desperate prayer from the Georgia 43 as time expired. He was aiming for Jauan Jennings, surrounded by six Georgia defenders in the corner of the end zone.

Somehow, by some whim of geometry or physics or plain orange magic, Jennings came down with the football.

And somehow, some way, a 31-28 Georgia win suddenly became a 34-31 Tennessee win.

 "It was a crazy play, stuff you dream about," Dobbs said later. "It was absolutely amazing."

Or, maybe, just another Saturday in the fall.