We’re experiencing this odd phenomenon. Professional and college teams are competing, these competitions are on television, fans are making totally rational claims about the quality of their team and media are debating silly things like “Is Mitch Trubisky actually the greatest quarterback in NFL History?” So, let’s dive in and see what’s been happening.
Baseball’s shortened season came to a close today, and like any self-respecting league (looking at you college football), they’ve expanded to playoffs to account for the unpredictability of the season. So, we have 8 teams from each league set to square off in what will prove to be the most exciting 16-team baseball playoffs you’ve ever seen. Coincidentally, it will be the first 16-team baseball playoffs you’ve ever seen. You can view the bracket here, but we’ll go ahead and just tell you who will win each of the Wild Card Best of 3 matchups.
1) Tampa Bay vs 8) Blue Jays – The surprise of the season in the AL was the Blue Jays managing to make the playoffs despite not actually having a home stadium. And you know what, we’re picking them to keep the magical season alive. Jays win in 3!
2) A’s vs. 7) White Sox – Could this finally be the year for Moneyball to win it all?!? Probably not, but they’ll get past the White Sox. A’s in 2.
3) Twins vs. 6) Astros – We’ve all thoroughly enjoyed the struggles the Astros have endured this year, but now that they are here, the league might be in trouble. In the meantime, the Twins are definitely in trouble. Astros in 3.
4) Cleveland vs. 4) Yankees – Tito Francona has had some playoff battles with the Evil Empire, and that experience has absolutely no bearing on this series. But, for the love of Lou Brown, Pedro Cerrano and Ricky Vaughn, we’re going with the Tribe. Cleveland in 2.
1) Dodgers vs. 8) Brewers – One problem with an expanded field. A team with a losing record in the playoffs. Thanks for coming out Milwaukee – at least you have a beautiful Wisconsin winter to look forward to! Dodgers in 2.
2) Braves vs. 7) Reds – The Braves have one of the most impressive histories of
3) Cubs vs. 6) Marlins – The biggest surprise in all of baseball was Miami making the playoffs. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, something called Bartman became a story. (Ed. Note – they may have played since 2003 in the playoffs. We have no idea and didn’t bother to look it up.) Thankfully for the Cubs, there won’t be any fans at the game to screw them over. Just, you know, themselves. Marlins in 3.
4) Padres vs. 5) Cardinals – Credit to the Cardinals for making the playoffs while also being a COVID petri dish. Your fun ends here as the Padres are under seeded after finishing with the second-best record in the league, behind the Dodgers who also happen to be in their division. Padres in 2.
Saturday night, Lebron and the Lakers clinched a trip to the NBA Finals by defeating the Denver Nuggets, whose best player looks more like a henchman for a Ukranian mob boss than a basketball player. Credit to the Nuggets for surviving the bubble as long as they did, complete with two comebacks from 3-1 deficits in the playoffs. Know what that tells us? The guys on that team really don’t want to go see their families.
Meanwhile, Lebron reached his 10th NBA Finals, which is incredible and proves the old adage that the team with the best players wins. Now, in one game, anything can happen, which is why we love March Madness. For example, would 2014 Mercer have beaten Duke in a 7-game series? How about 2012 Lehigh vs. Duke? Although, to be fair, 2012 Lehigh had the best player in that game, CJ McCollum.
Regardless, in a 7-game series, the team with 2 of the 5 best players in the league is going to be the team with 0 of the 5 best players in the game every time. Even in a bubble. So, if you’re one of those sick people who roots against Lebron because, I don’t know, he’s exceeded the obnoxiously lofty expectations that we put on him as a 16-year old, well, prepare to be disappointed. Because as amazing as Duncan Robinson is, he’s not quite on Lebron or Anthony Davis’ level. Give him another year or two, and we’re confident he’ll get there. In the meantime, prepare to place another ring on the King’s finger.
Quick aside on the NBA: earlier this week, we saw a headline that read “Adam Silver thinks the NBA season might start in January” or something like that. One question – isn’t Adam Silver the Commissioner? Maybe just tell us when the season starts?
Did we mention when Duke lost to South Carolina in 2017? Who won the NCAA Tournament that year, by the way?
Houston’s Lost Season
Poor Houston Cougars. They scheduled 5 different games in September and they won exactly zero of them. Of course, they also played zero of them. At what point do you just take the hint? That’s a rhetorical question because if we know anything about the state of Texas, the answer is never.
College Football Home Field Advantage
On Saturday, Mississippi State rolled into Baton Rouge and put up over 600 yards passing on the defending champions and walked out a winner. It’s rare for anyone to go into Death Valley and win, much less Mississippi State, who had only beaten LSU twice this century. There are a few explanations of this upset. Maybe LSU couldn’t practice as much since, as Coach Orgeron stated, “most of our guys have had COVID.” (Ed. Note – no medical evidence has been supplied to support these claims.) Maybe they were just unprepared to face Mike Leach and his Air Raid offense, despite, you know, having 6 months to prepare for it. Or maybe all those guys that were on the team last year at LSU that aren’t there this year were rather good and tough to replace.
All valid excuses, but one is left out – the lack of fans. Ordinarily, LSU’s stadium is filled with 100,000 Cajuns and you can smell the booze through your TV. The homefield advantage they can create is tough for cardboard cutouts to replicate. While we don’t want to take anything away from MSU’s effort, but something to keep our eyes on this year will be whether playing at home makes as much of a difference as it usually does, especially in big games. We’re sure some geek will actually do the math and compare home records this year vs. Past years, but rest assured, we are not that geek.
Digging the long ball
The golf world is still debating DeChambeau’s win, and more specifically, is his distance “good for the game.” Proponents would say he put in the work, did the math to determine the advantage of such distance, and the result at Winged Foot is proof he’s correct. Opponents will say it diminishes the purity of golf and golf course design, and that he’s on steroids. The real question is where do you go from here. In our view, there are two realistic options:
- Put restrictions for professional golfers on the golf ball/golf club technology to limit distance but allow the souped-up balls and clubs for the average golfers.
- Tell the millionaires to quit whining and get better.
In all sports, athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster than they’ve ever been. Records continue to be broken. In golf, guys can hit it farther due to technology, but also because some of them actually lift weights on occasion. Physically, golfers just look totally different today than they did even 20 years ago. Without unlimited real estate, golf courses cannot keep up to maintain the integrity of the shots that were part of the original design.
If we are worried about the integrity of the sport, start making the drug test results public. That might discourage those who are juicing from continuing to do so. If we are worried about the sanctity of “par,” then just change what par is on certain holes. Eliminate par 5s and create par 2s for the professionals. They wouldn’t have changed the total number of strokes that DeChambeau hit, but it would have put him over par. Again, that’s just if we care about par (which we believe most people involved in golf do).
Or, we can just appreciate the power and skill involved and hope that it inspires more people to play golf. Now, if Dechambeau shoots 24-under par at Augusta in November, the Green Jackets will either find a way to disqualify him as he walks up 18 on Sunday, or they’ll expand Augusta National to 9,000 yards by the April version. Or both.
Lord Stanley Finds a Home
This week, someone will win the Stanley Cup. We know you don’t really care, but we mention this to give hockey credit for two things – the most exciting overtime and the coolest trophy in sports. So, hockey fans, you got that going for you. We will return to our hockey coverage during the next Stanley Cup Finals.
Grandparents of the Year
With apologies to our parents, who staked their candidacy to grandparents of the year by printing off screenshots of Instagram photos of our child and putting them on their fridge, complete with the comment sections, Joe Montana and his wife win this award after fending off a would-be kidnapper who tried to steal their granddaughter from a play pen, in their house in Malibu over the weekend. The story leaves quite a few unanswered questions for us, but Joe, maybe get a security system at your house? That Skechers money should cover it.