It’s a fantastic finish only when your team wins, otherwise it’s a nightmare! I saw two such glorious endings yesterday, in pandemic times when excitement is often hard to find. Thankfully there are at least live sports to watch on TV, plus I.U. athletics are up and running again. Yesterday, I was consumed in college football and World Series action. Even when my team isn’t playing I can always find another to hate and therefore someone else to root for. This is the case in the Fall Classic as the L.A. Dodgers battle the Tampa Bay Rays. The adrenaline was still flowing from the Indiana vs. Penn State game that kept me on the edge of my seat for four hours.
I watched my Hoosiers fall behind early, as the Nittany Lions dominated the line of scrimmage but not the scoreboard. Two missed field goals, two interceptions, and critical penalties penalties allowed I.U. to lead 17-7 at half time. The end of the first half was a comedy of errors by both teams, so it was an emotional relief to take a break and catch-up on other scores. I.U. had not beaten a top-ten ranked team since 1987 at Ohio State. Penn State was ranked #8 in the country, so a 10-point halftime lead and getting the second half kickoff put the Lions on the ropes. I could smell blood in a moment of temporary insanity, but the punch-less Hoosiers could only muster a 48-yard field goal in the second half and fell hopelessly behind 21-20 with 2:30 remaining in the game. After a futile attempt at the two minute drill, the Nittany Lions were in a position to run out the clock. Miraculously, Penn State running back, Devyn Ford, took an unadvised step into the end zone. He realized his mistake too late, giving the Hoosiers one last chance. It led to their only TD of the second half, followed by a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 28. With 22-seconds left on the clock, I thought we were headed to overtime but a squib kick attempt went array, allowing Penn State a last second field goal attempt – it was their third miss of the day, just short of the school record distance.
Both team scored in overtime, as the I.U. faithful like myself continued to sense another close loss. The game came down to a gutsy 2-point conversion by Hoosier QB Michael Penix, Jr. I held my breath as he attempted a dive for the goal line. It was unbelievable how he launched himself towards the pylon in desperation. It was questionable if he scored, but after a thousand replays it was confirmed. The decision was the break we needed to destroy the curse of loss expectation that has plagued the program since I can remember. A fantastic finish!
But there was more on this day of breathtaking endings. As a Cubs and White Sox fan, I have many reasons to hate the Dodgers more than the Rays, so picking a favorite in this year’s World Series is easy. I watched a back-and-forth game-four with the evil Dodgers hoping to gain a 3-1 advantage over the less-evil Rays. They led 2-0 in the 3rd, 4-2 in the sixth, 6-5 in the seventh, and 7-6 in the eighth. The Rays had one last chance to win or send the game into extras, with rookie hero Randy Arozerena due to hit if they could just get a man on base. Kiermaier singled with one-out, while Wendle lined out to left. It was the World Series scenario that every kid dreams about, even in Cuba. Two-outs, full-count, and a home run wins it all. It was all set up for a Bill Mazeroski walk-off moment, but instead “Randy-Roza” walked in less dramatic fashion. However, he was soon to make an impact, as Phillips then singled to right center, scoring the tying run. Arozerena tried to stretch his luck, as Taylor bobbled the Phillips blooper and stumbled rounding third base on a dramatic attempt to score. The throw to the plate was mishandled, allowing Arozerena to score the winning run and tying the series. Another unbelievable, fantastic finish – two on the same day for my favorites.
I suppose that yesterday could have been a much worse day for my baseball teams, but rain prolonged the agony. The White Sox frustrating 6-4 loss to the A’s was enough for one day. The Sox were forced to use nine different pitchers and the A’s eight, so the game lasted an eternity. (Not as if I had anything else to do!) Injuries also had an impact on the final score. However, one man’s misery is another man’s triumph, as the A’s ended 14-years of playoff futility to move on and face the Astros in the next round.
Home field advantage for the A’s this year boiled down to last at-bats, since only a few family members were allowed inside the stadium. A 487-foot monster home run by Luis Robert was not enough to win, as the Sox stranded 12 baserunners, matching the A’s inability to drive in runs. Sox pitchers gave up nine walks, including two with the bases loaded. It was a pitcher’s dual of the worst kind, and a bitter end to a promising season. I guess I should just be satisfied that the Sox won one playoff game, after twelve years of failure to even make the postseason.
At least the Sox scored some runs, unlike the Reds that were totally shut-out in their two games with the Braves. Their AL Central division foes, the Twins and Indians, failed to win a game. The Cubs got another day to think about their opening game loss to the Marlins, as rain postponed the action at Wrigley Field. The Cubbies remain my last hope for postseason success. Their division rival, the Cardinals, won their first game but in the process woke-up the sleepy Padre bats. That series will also be decided today. There have been few surprises with the undefeated Yankees, Rays, Braves, Astros, and Dodgers advancing with ease. Will the Cubs or Marlins join them?
The Cubs still can’t hit, but have the advantage of Yu Darvish on the mound today. He’s had a remarkable season, considering the disappointment of his first couple years in Chicago. With a “W” today, fans could begin to feel some redemption regarding his addition to the team after a 2-4 record in six postseason starts. He has not pitched well against the Marlins. Even though they won the first game, “The Fish” may have lost center fielder Starling Marte with a hand injury suffered against Cubs pitcher, Dan Winkler. If you can’t beat them…hurt them! It’s a Cubs win today or elimination!
My wife was out walking our schnauzer, Tally, the other day, when I guy on a skateboard went out of his way to say hi. “Your dog reminds me of my favorite Monopoly piece,” he remarked. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that the Monopoly dog is actually a Scottish Terrier, but there is a resemblance. It gave her a bit of a chuckle, even though her first thought was that he was going to rob her. Thankfully, first impressions are often wrong. My fancy Monopoly set that I bought years ago on a whim, was then coincidentally one of the conversations that I had with our moving estimator yesterday. The mahogany board with a swivel base, gold hotels, silver houses, and built-in cash drawers reminded me of our Monopoly Mutt.
With a lack of space in our two-bedroom apartment, we have stuff crammed in every nook and cranny. The Monopoly set is currently stored under our bed, along with dozens of framed pictures. It all needed to be accounted for in our estimate, and served as a reminder of how daunting and expensive this cross-country move will be. There will apparently be two days of packing, another to load, and a week or more to get it to Florida. At this point, we don’t know exactly when it will all take place, pending construction on the new house. Plus, we’re trying to work in a cruise from Barcelona, Spain, once we get everything somewhat organized. This trip is at the mercy of Covid restrictions that have cancelled most of our other travel plans. It’s much more pleasant to look forward to the cruise than the stressful move.
The Moving Company rep interrupted my day of baseball, that turned out to be a major league disappointment. Both the Cubs and Sox are now facing elimination today. In addition, the Twins lost their record 18th consecutive playoff game, after surpassing the Sox for the American League Central division championship in the final days of the regular season. The Indians also sneaked by the Sox in the standings, once the Cubs took two of three from their faltering Chicago rival to claim the top spot in National League Central. It will take much more than lucky socks to assure that today is not the end of the (Red) line for both of my Chicago teams.
One of the punishments in the game of Monopoly is drawing a card that states, “do not pass GO and do not collect $200.” It was the only card that I was dealt yesterday, hoping that someone unexpected wins this season of Covid challenges. I naturally found myself rooting against the perennial favorites like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cardinals, but they were all winners, while my teams are beginning to go “bankrupt.” By this evening, I will know the fate of the Cubs and Sox in their quests to somehow pass GO. Maybe my newly-dubbed Monopoly Mutt has the answer?
Baseball and cold pizza, two of my current favorites, came together for lunch yesterday, before the yard work started. The White Sox were up against the higher-seeded A’s and playing on their home turf. I’ve never been a fan of the once Kansas City now Oakland A’s, but since childhood the White Sox have always been my favorite. Catcher Sherm Lollar has perpetuated this relationship since 1959. Granted, I’ve strayed to the Cubs at times when they were winning, following suit with my son and dad. I’ve been fortunate to see both Chicago favorites first-hand in World Series victories.
Lucas Giolito pitched seven innings of perfect baseball and the Sox bats were hot in a 4-1 victory. The lucky socks proved their worth. Today, I’ll wear a Cubs sock on one foot and the Sox sock on the other, hoping for the Chicago sweep. There will be no fans to interfere with any Marlin foul balls, reminiscent of Steve Bartman in 2003, so there should be no excuses for anything less than a Cubbies “W” at Wrigley.
I do have a busy today with a second moving estimate, Cubs & Sox baseball, dinner to cook. and the first game of the NBA Finals, in addition to the eight televised MLB playoff games. LeBron has oddly become a basketball favorite of mine, even though he’s never played for the teams I support, with the exception of the Olympics. Part of this is the lack of respect he gets, especially from Michael Jordan fans. In my opinion, they are equal greats from separate eras. Comparisons are unfair, especially considering that there wasn’t nearly as much free agency in the Jordan era and contact rules were vastly different.
While championship match-ups were being determined in baseball and basketball, the Tampa Bay Lightning claimed their second Stanley Cup title. I’ve officially adopted them since we now own property in Florida, along with the Rays, Buccaneers, and Rowdies. Having now owned homes in six states, I’ve amassed quite a collection of teams, improving my chances to win something…anything. Chicago is still my favorites sports town, with the exception of the Bulls. Michigan teams don’t count. The Portland Trailblazes have now replaced the Pacers as my favorite NBA team. When it comes to college football, I lean to the Texas Longhorns and Oregon Ducks, even though my pigskin favorite will always be the hapless Indiana Hoosiers. Soccer favs are the MLS Portland Timbers and Indiana University, while my vote for college baseball goes to the Oregon State Beavers. College basketball is hands down Indiana, as well. I do enjoy sports of all kinds and genders, but do not have as strong of allegiances. I also know the teams and players I hate in any given league – but this is all about favorites.
I still have fond memories of watching a White Sox playoff game back in 1983 from a motel room in Indianapolis. I was down there from Ft. Wayne on an overnight business trip and played hooky for the afternoon game. It was players like LaMarr Hoyt, Floyd Bannister, Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Ron Kittle, as I check the memory banks of Wikipedia. Tony LaRussa was the coach of this team that won their division and made it to the American League Championship, losing to the Orioles after winning the first game of a series of five. The Orioles went on to win the World Series. It was the first time the Sox were in the postseason since the 1959 World Series, featuring for me a home run by Sherm Lollar. They wore the patriotic uniforms with SOX in block letters on a blue stripe, trimmed in red, across the chest. They’ve brought them out on several occasions this year – one of my least favorite looks!
2008 was the last White Sox postseason win, falling 3 games to 1 against the Rays in the opening series. They did win the division that year. The team featured Ozzie Guillen, Jermaine Dye, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, John Danks, and Mark Buehrle, along with Manager Ozzie Guillen. The Sox were eliminated on the day I started work in Austin, Texas, one of my least favorite jobs.
It’s the last day of the baseball regular season and I know who to cheer for today because there’s no Chicago Conflict. The Cubs have clinched their division with the Cardinals loss yesterday, while the White Sox still have a chance for the same top prize. It will involve winning against the Cubs coupled with a Twins loss to the Reds. My new Sox socks arrived just in time for the game today at Comiskey, so I can show my “support.” It’s exciting to have both of my teams in the playoffs, but to have both win their divisions in the same year would be the first time since 1906 when they ultimately met head-to-head in the World Series. A repeat of this is unlikely but still possible, even if the Sox fail to win tomorrow. I’m excited for the postseason possibilities.
The Cubs have nothing to play for today but pride, with not even a chance to even the Crosstown series of 2020 that the Sox now lead 5-2, including Summer Camp. They can’t move up or down in the seedings in the National League brackets. The Dodgers, Padres, and Braves will finish with better records regardless of the final scores today, so it’s assumed that the #3 seed Cubbies will rest their starters against the Sox today. The White Sox, on the other hand, have everything to gain, while keeping a hopeful eye on the scoreboard. They own the tiebreaker against the Twins, having achieved a 5-5 series draw but enjoy a better overall record in the American League Central. The victory over the Cubs last night ended a horrible 6-game losing streak, their longest of the short season. They could salvage this Titanic-like disaster with a win and a little luck. The Reds could suddenly become my favorite team if they could somehow beat the Twins and stay pace with Miami in the National League race. I’ll be waiting for the Final Score.
The Red Zone will keep me occupied today, as I keep an eye on the Bears and Colts while stuck with local broadcasts of the Raiders, Seahawks, and 49ers. On the basketball front, the Celtics have another do-or-die game against the Heat, both teams vying for the opportunity to meet the Lakers in the Finals. LeBron had another triple-double to upend the Nuggets last night. With regard to hockey, the Lightning failed to claim the Stanley Cup as the Stars prevailed in double overtime. Plus, when the final scores were posted yesterday, college football saw upsets of two top-ten teams and an incredible comeback by the Texas Longhorns.
It’s another exciting day of sports that we’re fortunate to at least be able to watch on TV. It’s surprising how smoothly the seasons have progressed, despite the initial pandemic panic that threated to cancel everything. We’re on the verge of crowning an NBA champion, Stanley Cup winner, and having a MLB postseason. Although the achievements in each sport will be tainted with asterisks, there will be a satisfying sense of accomplishment given the intense challenges. Yes, there will be a Final Score.
P.S. (Could stand for Post Season)
The Cubbies came out full strength, scoring 6 runs in the second inning behind Bryant and Bote home runs. The Final Score was 10-8, as the Sox fell short after stumbling behind early. They did rally with the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th. Too little…too late! The Twins lost to the Reds and the Indians beat the Pirates. It was a frustrating fall from grace for the hite Sox in the final week to drop from first to third in the division standings and plummeting to the seventh seed, losing seven of eight down the critical stretch. It sets the stage for next week’s A’s vs. Sox series in Oakland and Cubs vs. Marlins match-up at Wrigley. The Cardinals travel to San Diego, while the Giants and Phillies were eliminated in when each Final Score was posted.
The baseball season is now down to a long weekend, with the Sox and Cubs both in miserable slumps. As a pessimist, I should have anticipated this, but this season is unprecedented. It all started back in March when we were supposed to attend a Spring Training game between the two Chicago foes. It was cancelled, along with many of our plans this year. When the season finally officially began on the 24th of July, I did not have great expectations for the league to make it to the postseason. The Cubs jumped to the top of their division but stumbled against the slower-starting Sox in their first series. The Pale Hose finally claimed the top spot in the AL Central over the Twins and Indians, only to falter down the stretch. I’ve watched them go 3-7 against the Twins, Indians, and Reds in the past week or so.
The last two nights have been particularly painful for the White Sox, losing in walk-off fashion to Cleveland on both occasions. On the other side of town, the Cubs lost another one this morning, their third straight, to the last-place Pirates. They could have helped the Sox in the series before that against the Twins, but Minnesota took two of the three. They did top the Indians in two of three, after a 12-0 drubbing of the Brewers and a no-hitter by Alec Mills. However, the poor-hitting Cubbies are now in danger of being caught by the Cardinals, Reds, and Brewers. The Covid-plagued regular season ironically all comes down to a three-game series against the Sox at Comiskey (excuse me – Guaranteed Rate). For a historical first, they each play in role in the other’s playoff fate this late in the season. Sadly, I just watched the Sox blow another early lead by the Indians – at least it’s not the last inning last the previous two, although there’s still three innings to go. It’s looking like a repeat of last night’s disappointment, with the White Sox up by one again after a Yoan Moncada triple in the 7th. If the Indians make it a four-game sweep, the Sox could fall to a full-game behind the division leading Twins, who are idle today, and could potentially face the perennial powerhouse Yankees in their first post-season appearance in twelve-years.
On the other hand, if the Cubs lose all three to the Sox, they could be passed by the Reds and/or Cards. It will be a tough weekend about who to cheer for in each critical game? Allegiance could easily change depending on the circumstances. In a normal season, both Chicago teams would be facing division rivals rather than cross-town foes. It’s just another Covid quirk, that also includes a expanded 16-team Playoff field, empty ballparks, limited homefield advantages, and designated hitters for both leagues. The World Series will take place in Arlington, Texas, another deviation from normalcy. It’s been a tough year for baseball purists.
The Covid-Cardinals are of particular concern to me, with respect to the Cubs. The Red Birds have seven games remaining, while standing only one game behind the Cubs in the loss column. They would have to win all seven to pass the Cubbies, but also postseason seeds are at stake. Three losses to the Sox would give them 27 for the year, while San Francisco, Cincy, Milwaukee and Miami could also disrupt their current #4 NL placement, down from #2 just a few days ago. This weekend, and possibly Monday, determines who plays where, who, and when. I’ll have to wear a Sox sock on one foot and a Cubs on the other.
In other sports important to me, the Celtics are in trouble, while the Lakers dropped their first to the dangerous Nuggets, who have miraculously come from behind in their last two series. The Timbers won their second straight match, outdueling the regional rival Seattle Sounders 1-0 last night. Against all odds, each sport has somehow persevered over threats of the virus. Thankfully, there are live sports to watch every day, including both NFL and NCAA football. The Pac-12 announced today that they will join the other power conferences in pursuit of a 2020-21 National Championship. However, teams won’t start play until November 6th, with a 7-game schedule. They reversed their initial decision and joined the BIG-10 in delayed reconsideration. It sets the stage for college basketball to start, missing only a few non-conference games this year. But first, I’ll focus on a expanded baseball Playoff that involves a very rare joint appearance by both of my teams – Cubs and Sox.
P.S. The White Sox brought in a reliever named Bummer following a 4-run collapse in the bottom of the 7th to the never-give-up Indians. It seemed like an appropriate name to describe the bullpen in this series. The red-hot Tribe took a 5-4 lead in response to falling behind once again in the series. Hand then shut-down the Sox, with two strike-outs and a easy grounder to finish up the 4-game sweep. Cleveland is now just one-game behind the Sox and two short of the Twins, after 5 straight Pale Hose losses. I couldn’t be more frustrated after cross-town losses today at a time when teams need to be playing their best ball. Who wants it more this weekend – the Sox or the Cubs?
Sports have probably never been a more important part of my life. It’s my sole entertainment in these pandemic times of isolation. I’ve gone through most of the movies and documentaries I’ve wanted to watch, waiting for live sports to finally return. Now, there’s almost too much to keep track of every day. My love of sports dates back to childhood and following my local high school team – The Elkhart Blue Blazers. A once dominant team in most every sport was eventually split into two high schools. Throughout the years, there was never a greater nemesis than the Penn Kingsmen in nearby Mishawaka, Indiana. Once I moved away from town, it seemed like every time I checked the scores it was another loss to Penn, particularly in football.
“Once A Blazer – Always a Blazer” is the motto of my generation, disturbed by the recent consolidation of the two Elkhart high schools into one again. They should have never been separated in the first place, but it did start another rivalry between the Memorial Chargers and the Elkhart Blue Blazers. Unfortunately, neither team was very competitive on the state level like Penn. The main problem with unifying the two programs became selecting a name. As a result, the Blazers or Chargers no longer exist, but the new Lions have become a football force. For the first time in 35 years, the final score of Friday night’s football match-up was Elkhart 20 Penn 19, and the team that I will always know as the Blazers are undefeated.
As I write this morning, I’m watching the final day of the Tour de France, reminiscent of our trips to Paris. It too was delayed several months as organizers made adjustments to deal with Coronavirus concerns. Slovenian Tadej Pogacar won it in his rookie debut. Cycling, golf, auto racing, football, and baseball are all now competing with each other for television viewership, with little in the way of live fan support. Plus, last night the Portland Timbers pounded the San Jose Earthquake 6-1 for a MLS victory, after a draw the other night in the same stadium.
So far, 2020 has been a good year for my teams. The Chicago White Sox just claimed their first playoff berth in twelve years. The Cubs will also soon clinch, putting both Chicago teams in the same post-season battle for only the third time since 1906. The White Sox, known that year as the “hitless wonders” upset the powerhouse Cubs in the World Series. Could it happen again in this year of strange surprises? Last Sunday, for example, the Bears, Cubs, and White Sox were all victorious. I bought a new pair of Sox Socks to celebrate their success. My Bears and Cubs socks don’t have holes in them yet.
The Cubs had a five-game winning streak going into last night’s game against the Twins. Sadly, the streak ended badly and the Cubbies allowed the Twins to clinch the fifth spot in this year’s post-season. The Cubs magic number is now four with three games remaining against the White Sox. They could each knock the other out of the top spot in their respective Division races. A week from now the seeds will all be finalized. Could the Sox and Cubs collide for all the marbles again after 114 years?
Chicago baseball has witnessed two no-hitters this year, the only ones in the majors. I bought Topps cards to commemorate these two remarkable achievements from Luis Giolito of the White Sox and Alec Mills of the Cubs. At no other time in history have both Windy City teams had this happen in the same season. It’s just the beginning of what could happen in Sweet Home Chicago this year. Unfortunately, a Cubs-Sox World Series would be held in Arlington, Texas,
The other important development this past week in sports was the BIG 10 conference rethinking the earlier decision to delay Fall football. After much controversy, schedules starting October 24th were finally announced. I.U. will open at Penn State and conclude with Purdue eight weeks later. The ninth game for the Cream & Crimson will either be the BIG Championship or a bonus conference match-up with potential Bowl implications. Let’s hope it’s not the Toilet Bowl – they could easily go 0-9. Basketball will begin November 25th when the Hoosiers were originally planning to play in Maui. It will be a week later in Asheville, as a further indication of the strange twists in sports this year. Will 2020 also be good to both Hoosier teams, despite the delays?
The Lakers are in the driver’s seat for this year’s NBA Championship, with an opening round final four victory over Denver. The Tampa Bay Lightening lost their Stanley Cup Finals opener against the Dallas Stars. I’ll need to follow them as a future Florida resident. The Rays are comfortably in the MLB play-off field, while the Bucs and Tom Brady did not get off to a great start last Sunday. I’ve now lived in enough states to always have a team in contention, but Chicago will forever remain my favorite.
Baseball, NBA Basketball, Football, Cycling, Tennis, Auto Racing, and Golf are all now competing for television audiences, especially considering there are few fans in the stands. After months of nothing to watch, suddenly we’re overwhelmed. I had three screens going yesterday between college football, the Cubs, and the White Sox. Today, NFL Sunday kicks-off, plus more baseball, Safeway Open, the Tour de France, U.S. Open tennis, Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, and Portland Timber’s soccer fighting for our attention. I’ve got a date with the Bears vs. Lions, and Colts vs. Jags, Oh My! (Oh wait – I’m in the wrong part of the country for those games). I’ll turn to the RedZone.
Baseball season is already in the final stretch, and for once both the White Sox and Cubs are in first place. The Cubbies came from behind last night against the Brewers after 17-straight scoreless innings of frustration. They finally got to nemesis Josh Hader with two home runs in the top of the ninth. The Milwaukee reliever had not allowed a hit to a lefty or a home run all season long. I was getting to be a Hader-Hater until Jason Heyward took him deep for the winning runs. The cross-town Chicago White Sox had little trouble with the Tigers, posting a 14-0 rout. Former Oregon State star, Nick Madrigal, went 2-5, maintaining his team-leading .362 batting average. Today, the White Sox will debut former I.U. pitcher, Jonathan Stiever #90, on the mound. It’s fun to watch these rookie players like Madrigal and Stiever come up through the ranks. Sadly, there will be no college baseball this year.
The BIG 10 Conference could potentially reverse its initial decision not to play football this year. New medical advances have accelerated the COVID19 testing procedures. It was frustrating to see the southern and eastern conferences effectively start their seasons this week, while the teams I follow watched along with me in angry envy. Early entry into the NFL draft, transfers, and recruiting losses have already taken their toll on the late-comers.
I don’t care that much about Sports Galore, but I am a big fan of college round-ball. Conference basketball decisions will be finalized next, including a new temporary home for the IU-bound Maui Invitational. Indianapolis is now a possibility. Somehow, a casino in Asheville, N.C. does not seem like a suitable option, although Tar Heel fans would disagree. Sponsor Maui Jim will have a tough time selling sunglasses in either place. Regardless, I hope the future of the NCAA Tourney is looking bright!
P.S. Cubs win 12-0 as Alec Mills completes a no-hitter. Sox and Bears victorious, as well, for a rare city of Chicago sports sweep.
After all the Coronavirus quarantines the St. Louis Cardinals went through this season, I suppose they earned a break or two. They had only played 5 games when most teams were approaching twenty in this shortened baseball season. The White Sox had no worries about anything contagious, they couldn’t catch anything. The Cardinal hitting was pathetic after all this time off with little dribblers in the infield that the Sox couldn’t handle. If the Sox actually got an out, it was quickly reversed by replay. Apparently, the Pale Hose gift wrapped the double header as a welcome back gift to the Red Birds.
The Cubs, on the other hand, made several spectacular catches against the Brewers. They were however jinxed by the announcers who pointed out that the team hadn’t gotten off to such a winning start since 1907. Two losses to the Brewers later, they were back to their normal selves. I haven’t seen a team strike out more with runners on base than these last two days at Wrigley. Naturally, Christian Yelich single-handedly beat them in Friday’s game with a 3-run homer. Poor relief pitching proved disastrous in yesterday’s match-up. The Cubs can at least even the series today, while the White Sox can only salvage some dignity. The Cubs go on to play both the Cards and Sox next week, perhaps adding to my frustration.
The Portland Trailblazers and Damian Lillard continued their winning ways yesterday by clinching the final playoff seed in the Western Conference. They are one of the hottest bubble teams, and the LeBron Lakers will be in for an unexpected challenge in the first round. There is no home court advantage and no fans as unprecedented times persist in the NBA. The same circumstances allowed the Portland Timbers to prevail in their Orlando bubble. Can a Portland team do it again?
Indy 500 qualifying went off without a hitch yesterday, but Conor Daly couldn’t find the speed he showed in Friday’s practice session. Marco Andretti won the day, while Conor failed to make the “Fast Nine.” It’s fun to watch the second and third generation drivers like these two speedsters. Rossi, Herta, and Rahal also came from famous fathers of the Speedway that were part of my generation. Owners like Andretti, Penske, Rahal/Letterman, Ganassi, Coyne, and Foyt have been familiar names in Indianapolis since I can remember. However, seeing the empty stands for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was all new to me.
Today’s “Fast Nine” action will determine the coveted Pole for next Sunday’s race. I’m glad there are plenty of live sports on TV to keep me entertained on weekend afternoons. Baseball, hockey, soccer, and racing have all managed to continue their virus-disrupted seasons. College football appears to be the biggest casualty as more and more schools push towards spring. Once winter comes, it may be back to the doldrums of nothing fresh to watch. I’m concerned about the fate of my favorite sport, college basketball. It was hard enough to deal with the loss of the tournament early this year.
The Cubs couldn’t catch a break and the Sox couldn’t catch anything. No one could catch Marco Andretti yesterday. Who will catch the biggest NBA prize? Hopefully, nobody will catch or spread the bug, causing further delays to these competitions that relieve the boredom of self-isolation.
The really strange thing about this whole pandemic is that my teams are winning. The last few days, I’ve seen the Cubs, Sox, Pacers, Trailblazers, and Timbers all claim multiple victories. This tells me that life is no longer normal. In the real world, I consistently pick the wrong teams to root for on game day. Could this mean that I.U. will start claiming BIG 10 wins and that the Bears and Colts will play once again in the Super Bowl? It all now seems possible.
The Sox have won 6 straight road games, a feat last equaled in April 2017. Unfortunately in the process, Oregon State alum Nick Madrigal injured his shoulder during a slide. Tim Anderson is also on the disabled list. The Cubs have won five straight and the Trailblazers are making a playoff move with a promising start in the Disney bubble. IU alum Victor Oladipo is beginning to show his old form for the Pacers in their third straight win. These are all signs of the Apocalypse!
Can you imagine an NBA championship between the Pacers and Trailblazers, or a Cubs vs. White Sox World Series? I’m beginning to like these shortened seasons with each game having more significance and no fan interference. T.J. Warren of the Pacers just tied Jermaine O’Neil’s franchise record for the most in a three-game span. These things just don’t happen under normal circumstances. It takes a pandemic to bring out the best in my teams.
Will the magic last? I have my doubts. The Cubs don’t have a closer. Craig Kimbrel failed to preserve a three-run cushion last night and had to be benched by new manager David Ross once again. The Cubbies could easily return to last year’s mediocrity after a 9-2 start. At least they’re staying healthy, unlike the rival St. Louis Cardinals who can’t seem to stay out of the way of the virus. The White Sox are helping the Cubs with a chance to take a 3-game sweep from the Brewers. The Cubs are returning the favor by pounding the Royals. I like this Chicago tag-team approach.
The Portland Timbers are in the soccer final four with a match against Philadelphia tonight that could send them into the finals of the MLS is Back tournament. The bubble approach in sports seems to be working much better than the home fields used in baseball. We’re all hoping that sports can survive outside the bubble, especially football fans that are holding their breath for a chance to start the season.
The Indy 500 will now be held later this month without fans. New track owner Roger Penske reversed his plan to drop the flag in front of a full house. Instead, it will be strictly a television event that will undoubtedly continue in all sports into 2021. Buying a ticket to any event will be a rarity, having a devastating affect on the business. I’m just glad to be a fan and not an owner. Many tough financial decisions have been made this year, with no end in sight. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the rare winning moments of my favorite teams. Fly the W.