10 Thoughts for the Week of October 11, 2020

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1. WOLVERINE WATCHMEN

On Thursday, the FBI charged six men with conspiracy to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer’s strong response to COVID caught the ire of the conservative militias. I read an article about this militia movement and it made me consider the possibility of a civil war for the first time. These militias believe that such a war is inevitable and I am feeling like I am behind.

2. COVID HITS THE NFL

This past week, the NFL announced sixteen players who had tested positive for COVID. The biggest names were Cam Newton and Stephen Gilmore of the New England Patriots. Games have been postponed and rescheduled. I am a fan of Tuesday night football and I think it is good there have been no fatalities from the illness.

The positive tests seemed almost inevitable when you considered the NFL was not going to play in a bubble like the NBA and the MLB playoffs.

The NFL is a $3 billion industry so it will take multiple deaths to put an end to the season. Especially when they can postpone.

3. VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

When I think of the VP debate on Wednesday, I think I want to answer questions by answering something totally different. I wonder if you can do that in real life. All you have to do is say “that’s a great question” and then you can talk about whatever you want to talk about.

That would have been ok if Vice President Pence didn’t make a scene by constantly speaking over his time limit.

I didn’t think either person won the debate. It was not an event that was going to change peoples’ minds.

4. BIZARRE TRIBE

As a fan of A Tribe Called Quest and the Pharcyde, I had to put this song as one of the best things I heard this week. It is a mash-up of two of my favorite songs of all time.

5. LAKERS WIN THEIR 18TH CHAMPIONSHIP

Afters years of frustration and futility, the Lakers are back on top. Lebron James and Anthony Davis brought the star power. Rajon Rondo, KCP and Adam Caruso came up with the timely plays to seal the deal. This series was a war until Game 6. Hats off to the Heat for a valiant effort. They are going to be battling for titles for the next couple of years.

The Lakers got back on top the Laker way, they brought in the best free agent who can lift the team to the top. They tried it with the draft and player development but that is not the Laker way. It was good to have all that young talent to trade away for Anthony Davis.

6. DODGERS IN THE NLCS…AGAIN

I am excited for the Dodgers as they are back in the National League Championship Series. The Padres tried to give them a battle, but it was a dominant win. The hitting and the starting pitching are top line. The fact they don’t have a lights out closer is a little scary. They are the best team on paper and I worry the pressure is on them to win it all.

7. THE BEST THING I READ THIS WEEK

Violets, by Bud Smith, is a great story about the ups and downs of marriage and the spark that changes everything.

8. COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS

It is hard for me to take the college football ranking seriously when half the teams haven’t played yet or are not playing at all. It is hard for me to believe Cincinnati is ranked eleventh in the country. 

9. COVID SURGE

The rate of COVID cases has surged back up to almost 50,000 new cases a day. Explain it any way you want.

10. RAFAEL NADAL

Congrats to Rafael Nadal who won his 10th Grand Slam Title by winning the French Open. Nadal is truly a legend. He is also not the cookie-cutter tennis player. He was a rival of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. While there are no great American players, this is a great era of tennis.

10 Thoughts for the Week of August 22, 2020

1. UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Last Sunday I watched Barcelona and Leonel Messi, arguably the best soccer player in the world, get completely destroyed by Bayern Munich 8-2. It was a straight-up beat down in any language. Soccer is the sort of game where a scoring a goal is equivalent of ten points in American football.

Soccer, much like football, is a game for one single player to dominate. Malcolm Gladwell has a great podcast about it. So much pressure falls on players like Messi and Ronaldo. The board of FC Barcelona was so disappointed, they considered making Messi available for transfer.

Bayern Munich was on collision course with high scoring PSG for the final which resulted in a 1-0 championship win.

2. DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION

My attention for the DNC was on and off. I didn’t need to be convinced Biden is a better pick than Trump. I uneasily appreciated how the other candidates rallied around Biden. There was a strange was the number Anti-Trump Republicans endorsements also.

3. THE OBAMAS

Seeing the Obamas on Tuesday and Wednesday nights reminded me of what a real President and First Lady look like.

4. AOC

What is up with giving AOC less than five minutes to speak? She is controversial but she needs some shine.

5. KANYE FOR PRESIDENT

Kanye West is getting help from the Trump Campaign to get on the ballot. They believe a vote for Kanye is a vote taken away from Biden.

I love Kanye’s music but I would never consider voting for him to be president. I would think twice about Lebron James long before I would think about Kanye

6. NBA PLAYOFFS – 1st ROUND

When it comes to the NBA playoffs, the matchups make the games interesting.

The Lakers and the Clippers find themselves in tough series because they don’t matchup all that well with Damien Lillard and Luka Donicic.

Denver is an offensive juggernaut but it got matched up with the defensive minded Jazz and Donovan Mitchell.

7. #1 SEEDS

For the first time in 30 years, both #1 seeds lost Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs. Both have bounced back to take control of their respective series.

8. THE DODGERS

With 20 wins in this strange 60-game season, the Dodgers have assumed the top spot in the NL West. Mookie Betts is well worth whatever money he is making this year. Cody Bellinger had a slow start, but he has found his stroke. Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler are shaping into form.

9. NFL TRAINING CAMPS HAVE STARTED

The NFL season is still three weeks away. It is hard to pay too much attention because there is 8 hours of basketball on everyday. I can barely keep track of MLB.

10. KEEP IT 100

A interesting tidbit from the NFL…Leonard Fournette is pinning $100 bills to his practice jerseys. He says it is a reminder that he needs 100 yards a game to be successful. That is an expensive reminder.

10 THOUGHTS ON TIGER WOODS WINNING THE 2019 MASTERS

  1. Caddyshack – When I was in high school, I worked as a caddy at a private golf club. A majority of the caddies were African-American kids trying to make some pocket change. The club had zero African-American members. The members were nice, but we were always treated like the “help”. Working there I never imagined a golf player like Eldredge Tiger Woods.
  2. Poetic Justice – Tiger won his first Masters at age 22. He then dominated golf for the next nine years. This old caddie felt like justice was served.
  3. The Heavyweight Champion of the World – I see a lot of similarities between Tiger and Jack Johnson. They were two black men who dominated what was a white man’s sport with a swagger that enthralled and angered the masses. Both men were taken down by their sexual indiscretions. You can also include Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson in that narrative.
  4. Last year at this time – I was hoping for redemption for Tiger. He was in the hunt and then things fell apart again. Things had been falling apart for the last nine years. He suffered many injuries and appeared to have lost his edge. I still remember his comments about getting his buttocks to engage in his swing. I wondered if a day like today was going to come.
  5. The Day Came – It was Tiger’s first win at a major tournament in more than ten years. I remember the last time he won was the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines beating Rocco Mediate on one leg.
  6. 15 & 3It was Tiger’s 15th major win. He needs three more to tie Jack Nicklaus.
  7. Five Green Jackets – It was Tiger’s 5th victory at the Masters. Fourteen years after his fourth.
  8. There is a First Time for Everything – It was the first time in his career to win a major championship when he was not winning after 54 holes. He had been close in the past, but never closed the deal until last week.
  9. A Family Affair – I remember Tiger winning the Masters and hugging his father. I also remember when Tiger won the Masters shortly after his father passed. Those were touching moments. Seeing Tiger hug his kids after winning on Sunday brought tears to my eyes.
  10. Implicit Bias Sucks – Earlier last weekend while I was leaving my son’s baseball game, I saw a black man taking his son to a lacrosse match. Ironically, I had all sorts of thoughts about this guy and his son playing a white man’s game. I had to put my implicit bias in check and say maybe this kid will be the Tiger Woods of lacrosse.

10 Thoughts on the Remainder of the 2018 World Series

It has taken me a good week to figure out what I want to say about the 2018 World Series. I felt like the Dodgers went from being up 4-0 in Game 4 to having the whole Series fall apart. Congrats to the Red Sox. The balled out and their bullpen was just straight nasty.

Here are my 10 Thoughts:
  1. The Red Sox were terrors throughout the playoffs when hitting with two outs. This season, the Red Sox had five of the top fifty hitters with two outs. There is nothing more heartbreaking than giving up runs after you have battled to get two outs in an inning.
  2. The Red Sox bullpen was lights out. Going into the Series, I thought the Dodgers had the better bullpen. However, the Sox bullpen, with the addition of Nathan Eovaldi, was flat dominant.
  3. David Price got the playoffs monkey off of his back. He went 2-0 in the Series with a 2.12 ERA. Price was 1-8 in the ALDS in his career.
  4. I predicted that Mookie Betts or Yasiel Puig would be the MVP of the Series. Steve Pearce was the Series MVP and his timely and game-winning home runs are just another product of Boston\’s clutch hitting with two outs.
  5. One of the most surprising things to me was the Red Sox won the Series without a dominant outing from Chris Sale. He pitched five innings and had a 5.40 ERA. He was their ace all season and he really didn\’t have the impact I was expecting him to have.
  6. While the Red Sox bullpen shortened the game, the Dodgers bullpen was good and not great. The question coming into the beginning of the season was whether the Dodgers had made any moves to strengthen their bullpen. They let Tony Watson and Brando Morrow go in free agency. Then they signed Tom Koehler and he immediately got injured. They tried to bring in Ryan Madsen but he was no replacement for Brandon Morrow. The Dodgers\’ lack of addressing this problem didn\’t really expose itself until the Series. The bullpen was good enough during the playoffs that I forgot it was the weak link. A weak bullpen and a team that is super clutch with two outs is a bad combination.
  7. Walker Buehler was outstanding in his one and only appearance in the World Series. He should have had the win. Buehler and Julio Arias make me excited for the Dodgers starting rotation next year.
  8. Rich Hill was amazing in Game 4 as well. Too bad there was some kind misunderstanding between Hill and Dave Roberts. Essentially, Hill took himself out of the game.
  9. I am not sure what this Series means for the legacy of Clayton Kershaw. He was 0-2 with 7.36 ERA in the Series. He was 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA in the playoffs. Now that David Price has the monkey off of his back, Kershaw\’s lack of playoff success has only been magnified.
  10.  Before the Series, I predicted the Dodgers depth would be the deciding factor. That depth could not overcome the bullpen errors and the Red Sox bullpen dominance.

10 Thoughts on Games 1 & 2 of the 2018 World Series

Boston dominated the first two games of the Series. Some of the things I discussed in preparation for the Series played themselves out. The games were personified by clutch hitting and a dominant bullpen. Here are 10 thoughts as we get ready for Game 3.

  1. My Correct Predictions – As I look back, I was right about quite a few things.
    1. Mookie Betts is playing like the AL MVP and maybe the World Series MVP. He was 3 for 4 in Game 2. Yasiel Puig had a clutch hit and one walk. He could explode in Games 3 thru 5.
    2. J.D. Martinez is a Dodger-killer. He is ridiculously successful against the boys in blue.
  2. My Wrong Predictions – There were also some predictions that did not play out so far in the Series.
    1. Kershaw v. Sale was not the pitcher\’s duel I suspected it would be. Kershaw was tormented by his nemesis, J.D. Martinez and gave up two runs in the first inning. Sale got a lot of swings and misses; but a high pitch count was his undoing. I think there is still a chance for Game 5 for all the marbles being the pitcher\’s duel we all dream of. 
    2. The MVPs from League Championship Series have not made an impact on the Series yet. Maybe we can call this one a push.
    3. The Dodgers depth has not had the impact I thought it would. The Red Sox bullpen has been better than I expected.
  3. Andrew Benintendi May Be the MVP – All he has done is get hits and make amazing plays in the field. His four hits in Game 1 and his leaping catch in Game 2 were daggers to the hearts of Dodger fans.
  4. The All Right-Handed Batter Lineup – The Dodgers unveiled their all right-handed batting lineup for Games 1 & 2. A new lineup is not surprising, the Dodgers had 112 different lineups during the season. What is weird is all their power hitters are left-handed. I was not that concerned because of the Sale pitch count and the Dodgers\’ ability to get into the Red Sox bullpen and bring the lefties off the bench. In Game 2, David Price kept his pitch count under control and went six innings, it took much time to get these guys off the bench.
  5. Game 2 Pitcher\’s Duel – David Price and Hyun-Jin Ryu started the game off by keeping things under control for the first four innings. That is the closest we have gotten to a pitcher\’s duel so far this series.
  6. RISP – The Red Sox have been amazing hitting with two outs and runners in scoring position. Half of their runs in the playoffs have been driven in with two outs. The achilles heel for the Dodgers during the regular season was hitting with runners in scoring position. However, the Dodgers have been good, not great, with runners in scoring position. Their problem has been getting runners in scoring position late in the game.
  7. I Am Concerned About Chris Taylor – Taylor is 0 for 5 in the two games he has started in left field. He looks lost at the plate. He doesn\’t look like he has a plan. He also misplayed a ball that resulted in a run. I would like to see Bellinger in center and Kike in left field.
  8. Both Bullpens Have Been Good – The Red Sox bullpen has been outstanding. Going into the Series, I thought the Dodger bullpen had the advantage. The Red Sox bullpen has been lights out so far. The Dodger bullpen has been good also; with the exception of an Alex Wood  and Ryan Madson meltdowns.
  9. Urias Makes Me Smile – Julio Urias has looked great and makes me think he should get the Game 5 or 6 start. I am also excited for the starting rotation next year with Kershaw, Buehler, Urias and Hill.
  10. Dodgers in 6 is Still Possible – It would take the Dodgers being dominant for the next four games. They would need to gain some super momentum with their 3 home games.

10 Thoughts on the 2018 World Series

As we approach the start of Game 1, I wanted to share 10 thoughts that are intriguing to me as the Series starts.

  1. 1916 – The last time these two historic franchises met in the World Series was in 1916. The Red Sox won the Series behind 16 scoreless innings posted by a player by the name of Babe Ruth. He was later traded and the Red Sox were cursed for more than 80 years.
  2. Unfinished Business – The Dodgers are back in the World Series for the second year in a row. They are the 28th team to return to lose the World Series and return the next year. 15 of the previous 27 teams won the Series. 
  3. The Managers – Dave Roberts of the Dodgers and Alex Cora of the Red Sox were teammates with the Dodgers from 2001-2004. In 2004, Roberts was traded to the Red Sox and stole a crucial base that is part of the team history. These teams are so intertwined it is not funny. 
  4. The Rightfielders – Mookie Betts is probably the American League MVP. Yasiel Puig has the ability to put together an MVP like performance in any series. It would not surprise me if either of these guys were the difference makers for their teams. 
  5. Kershaw v. Sale – The two left-handers square off in what should be an amazing pitching duel. Kershaw dominated the Brewers to put the Dodgers in the driver\’s seat for NLCS. Sale was dominant and even came out of the bullpen to help the Red Sox dominate the Astros.
  6. Ryu v. Price –  Game 2 features Ryu vs. David Price. We are not sure which one these pitchers will show up. They both have enigmatic personas on the mound. This could be a pitcher\’s duel or it could be a 12-10 game.
  7. J.D. Martinez – J.D. Martinez killed the Dodgers last season. If he has any help in Arizona last year, he may be making his second appearance in a row in the series. He will have to play the outfield in LA; which will cause someone to be out of position. I have heard they have considered putting Mookie Betts at second base.
  8. The Center-Fielders and LCS MVP\’s – The centerfielders for both teams happened to be the League Championship Series MVP as well. Both Cody Bellinger and Jackie Bradley, Jr struggled during the season and found their swings when it counted. Both made some amazing defensive plays as well.
  9. The Two Mannys – While Manny Ramirez is not playing, his connection to both teams cannot be forgotten. Neither can the persona of Manny Machado and his talent and questionable baseball etiquette.
  10. The Dodger Depth – Here is the list of the dudes for the Dodgers I have not talked about yet.
    1. Kike Hernandez
    2. Max Muncy
    3. Joc Pederson
    4. Matt Kemp
    5. Justin Turner

The Prediction – I think the Dodgers pitching, bullpen and depth will be too much for the Red Sox. Dodgers in 6.