by John Walters
1. Cooler Heads Prevailed
The Cubs defeated the Pirates, 4-0, because no one scores a run off Jake Arrieta any more, but the bigger stories were Pittsburgh’s Sean Rodriguez going full Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots on a Gatorade cooler (free pub!) and Pirate kid who was playing his own game of baseball in the seats behind home plate. Like his team, as you can see here, he found himself in the same position last October.
So, two nights, and two probable Cy Young winners, the hirsute Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta, hurl shutouts on the road to propel their teams to the divisional series. I’m thinking baseball’s new stat needs to be BAR: Beards Above Replacement.
2. Anchors Away!
Can’t say I’m down with the Ronda Rousey In-Your-Face Tour, but it was fun watching how incredibly uncomfortable Tim Kurkjian appeared to be as he played the guinea pig for Lindsay Czarniak in an arm bar demonstration on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter. Kurkjian: “No woman has ever moved her butt closer to me, I can promise you that.”
Was Kiko Alonso not available?
Like you, I was also glued to Mike Bell’s Twitter feed during this segment to see if he’d cross the Jessica Mendoza line and opine on Rousey’s sitting in the co-anchor chair.
3. Fournette Worth
LSU tailback Leonard Fournette had a very good, but not outstanding freshman season last autumn. He jacked that Texas A&M safety, we all remember that, but he rushed for 1,034 yards in 13 games. Very good for a frosh, not OMG.
This season, however, Fournette already has rushed for 864 yards in just four games. He’s a superman among 220 lb. to 320 lb men. He is a beast. And so, as much as we laud him — he’s the clear frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy thus far — we always are in need of a Daily Harrumph!, and his excellence brings up the following: Why should Leonard Fournette have to stick around college another year before making money in the NFL?
Kirk Herbstreit, whom I respect greatly, said it was “a bunch of crap” to discuss changing the rule — and NFL rule, by the way, not an NCAA rule — that says players cannot enter the NFL draft until three years after high school. Christine Brennan wrote a column that to me came across as patronizing: a national columnist who regularly covers tennis has no qualms with teens traveling all over the world in a highly dysfunctional environment if you’re not Serena or Rafael, but she worries that young football players need more guidance. Does anything about that argument seem a little racially tinged to you? It does to me.
Granted: 1) Most college athletes would be better served by earning a degree and staying all four years. Most. 2) College sports are a superior product if players must remain at least three years. 3) Allowing players to leave earlier would only invite more agents, more scandal, etc.
I grant you all of that. But this is a liberty issue. Why is there a rule in place that prevents a young man from holding a job when he is more than capable of doing that job? And why doesn’t the hypocrisy of allowing basketball players to leave after one year but not football players grate on people more? I get that the sports make different demands on your body, but there are plenty of players in the NBA who were selected after one year and then stockpiled on their teams’ benches (Archie Goodwin, for example). If a pro franchise is willing to draft a player even though they know they cannot use him yet, why not let the two parties do business?
The bigger issue, bigger than the state of college football and bigger than “protecting” kids, is a person’s right to work. Now, throw in the fact that running backs have the shortest shelf life of any NFL players (hello, Marcus Lattimore), and that next season Fournette will basically be giving LSU a year where he could be earning at least $5 million in the NFL –probably more money than his parents have earned in their lifetimes — and that if you want to go all actuary on this, his NFL career average is 3.11 years, well, I’m not saying that he SHOULD go to the NFL, but I am saying that he SHOULD have the option.
4. Love Triangle Offense
I know, I know. I’m supposed to be disturbed by Matt Barnes’ behavior here. But then someone tweets that “Derek Fisher appears to be having trouble with more than one triangle” and then I imagine Barnes driving 95 miles in the midst of the night, his sound system turned to 11, as he conjures the various ways that he is going to kick Fisher’s tail for being at the home he paid for with his estranged wife. It’s right out of a Tarantino film.
Here’s the New York Post piece.
And here’s a think piece on the affair from Deadspin…
5. Where In The World?
Yesterday: Rideau Canal, Ontario
I’m always going to vote for Diamond David Lee Roth over Sammy Hagar, though if I had to pick a roommate, it would be the Cabo Wabo dude. Either this or “When It’s Love” is my favorite Van Hagar tune. The synth comes out early, and then Eddie VH does some blazing guitar solos later. Remember, this tune came out in 1986, in peak Top Gun time, hence the video. It reached No. 22 on the Billboard chart.
Washington at Southern California
ESPN 9 p.m.
Huskies coach Chris Petersen makes, I believe, his first visit to the L.A. Coliseum as a head coach, as his USC counterpart, Cutty Sark, faces his former team. 9 p.m. Eastern is happy hour in L.A.