Songs for the Sox

Hey St. Louis, do you like apples?


So let’s say you’re a sports fan who was born in Boston in 1995. You’ve won 13 titles since you were five years old. (I’m from Minnesota, in these parts NCAA Hockey titles count too.) That’s absurd, but good for you.

As the Hub floats along on another sports high, here are the top 10 songs since the turn of the century about Boston for you to have one while toasting baseball’s champions. We’re obviously not counting “Sweet Caroline” because it’s from the ’60’s, even though it’s become a high point of games at Fenway Park. (About Boston? No, but Neil Diamond admitted he wrote it with JFK’s kid in mind.) Has it become too kitschy? No, and if you think so, you take things too seriously. If drunk hoods from Southie can sing it, who are you to frown?

10. “Outside of a Dream”— The Push Stars, March, 2004

The Patriots started this ridiculous run in 2002, but it was the Sox win in 2004 that seemed to burst the dam. I’m cheating right off the bat, because this song isn’t about Boston, but it’s by a Boston band and came out just before the baseball season started in 2004. It’s a song that Sox fans no longer have to feel such kinship with.


9. “Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)“– Vampire Weekend, October, 2007

The b-side of Mansard Roof, it drops enough Boston references to make the list. Not exactly a party song, but bouncy enough to maybe listen to in the shower before you hit the Hub to get feckin’ hammuhed.


8. “Boston”– Patty Griffin, October, 2013

This one just came out earlier this month, it’s not even on YouTube yet. Check it out on I-Tunes. Review says, “a scorching full-band blast that can’t be tamed”.


7. “I’m Shipping Up To Boston”— Dropkick Murphys, July, 2005

Well, yes, this entire list could be made up of Dropkick Murphys songs. Loud and tough, just like this little fucker below.  Fuck you too.


6. “Boston”— Kenny Chesney, January, 2005

A tip of the cap to all the ladies from Boston. Some of whom are cool enough to hold up this sign.


5. “Boston”— Augustana, August, 2006

“I think I’ll go to Boston, I think I’ll start a new life, I think I’ll start it over.” That could have been Big Papi after the Twins let him go.

Ok, so maybe none of the hoodrats from Southie are listening to this when they’re out with the boys. Maybe in their “late at night with Skylar moments?”


4. “Boston, USA”— The Ducky Boys, November, 2004

I bet this kid loves this song, I bet he does. Too good not to use twice.


3. “For Boston”– Dropkick Murphys, February, 2001

The band of Boston takes the Boston College fight song and puts their spin on it. Cool.


2. “Young New England”— Transit, April, 2013

The song came out days before the bombing at the Boston Marathon. It does a great job of capturing the spirit of the city. At least the spirit of the young drinkers, of whom there are many. They had a blast last night. And they will tonight and tomorrow night and the night after that.

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1. “Tessie”— Dropkick Murphys, August, 2004

The Red Sox anthem. I’m not impressed by much when it comes to sports bars, but I was really impressed on the night of Sunday, October 17, 2004, at a place called Sliders in Plainville, CT. I had ordered take out wings and showed up to pick them up during David Ortiz’s at bat. Ortiz hit a walk-off homer that got the Sox on the board in the series against the Yankees. It’s the loudest I’ve ever heard a bar in my life. The walls were shaking. People were hugging and crying. This song came on, I’d never heard it before, but I think I was the only one who hadn’t and people sang along loud and proud. I was dumbfounded. Ten days later the Sox had won their eighth straight game and the World Series. I had downloaded the song by then and was a Sox fan for at least a month.


Cheers, Boston.

— Bill Hubbell










IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Halloween! (10/31)

Spooky Five

The Fountain of Youk. Can we just pretend that he played for the 2013 World Series champs?

1. The Lost Year of Kevin Youkilis

Look at this guy. This is what Kevin Youkilis, long one of the most popular players on Boston’s roster, looked like when he wasn’t even trying to out-beard his Red Sox teammates. If there is one player who perfectly embodied the 2013 Red Sox, a scruffy team of overachieving, grinding, burly white dudes who look more suited for a beer-league softball game than the World Series, it’s Youk. Beloved in Boston, too.

Youk broke in as a rookie with the Sox in 2004, which just happened to coincide with their first World Series championship in 86 years. He helped them to two World Series titles.

But last season Bobby Valentine, who in his one season as manager of the Sox achieved the type of popularity in the Hub that only Alex Rodriguez can appreciated, thought Will Middlebrooks the superior third baseman and got Youk shipped out of town to the other Sox (in Youk’s final at-bat in Fenway Park with the Red Sox, he hit a triple and was given a standing O as he was lifted for a pinch runner). Valentine and Youk also clashed very early on in Bobby V’s brief tenure.

Comes the 2012 off-season and Youk, now a free agent, signs a one-year, $12 million deal with the loathesome Yankees. Must shave his beard. Plays all of 28 games and bats .219 before shutting it down for the season in June with back problems.

Razors and Youkilis just don’t agree.

Youk, 34, is now a free agent again. His agent says that he is unlikely to return to the Yankees. Middlebrooks, after batting 4 for 24 in the ALDS and ALCS, had just two at-bats in the World Series and no hits. He himself was replaced by rookie Xander Bogaerts, who hit .238 in the Fall Classic.

Maybe Youkilis would have still suffered the herniated disc and missed most of the season as a Red Sox. Still, it was so odd to see all those Red Sox players sporting unruly red beards celebrating a World Series title at Fenway –for the first time in 95 seasons — and to not see the dude who inspired that look. To not even hear FOX mention him once (if they did, I missed it).

We were thinking of you here, Youk.

2. The Phoenix Sons?

Miles Plumlee had a double-double in his Suns debut.

Second-year power forward Miles Plumlee –that’s right, the bad Plumlee — busted the box score last night with an 18-point, 15-rebound performance in his debut for the Phoenix Sunx, a 104-91 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers. What is it about the Suns, who seem to gravitate –that’s right, a Sun gravitating; think about it — toward putting at least one if not both NBA-level brothers on their roster.

From twins Dick and Tom Van Arsdale (1976-77 season; Dick Van Arsdale had been with the franchise since its inaugural season in 1968-69 and is known as “The Original Sun”, as opposed to ball hog Paul Westphal, the “Black Hole Sun”) to twins Markieff and Marcus Morris, who are currently on the roster.

Miles Plumlee is the older brother of Mason Plumlee, a rookie with the Brooklynettes. Last night’s opponent, Portland, started Robin Lopez at center. Lopez is a former Sun whose own twin, Brook, starts at center for the Nets (yes, Brook is in Brooklyn).

If only they’d been triplets, I think Harry Van Arsdale could have made it in the NBA.

Other NBA brother tandems in which at least one brother –almost always the less talented one– has donned a Suns uniform: the Zellers (Luke), the Collins (Jarron; another set of twin big men out of Stanford, like the Lopezes), and the Griffins (Taylor, not Blake).

Worth noting: Both Van Arsdales played college ball at Indiana, both Morrises at Kanasas, both Plumlees at Duke.

Even the Suns’ new general manager, Ryan McDonough, has a brother you know: CBS sports caster Sean McDonough.

I’m waiting for the Suns to acquire Pau or Marc Gasol (both too talented) but think that, as they aspire to win the Alan Wiggins lottery, that they’ll sign recently released guard Seth Curry, younger brother of Stephen.

(Update: Loyal MH reader @okerland informs me that Kelly Miller, whose twin sister Co Co is also a WNBA player, used to suit up for the Phoenix Mercury. Reggie Miller never played for the Suns but his sister, Cheryl, did coach the Mercury for four seasons).

3. Who is SI’s Sportsman of the Year?

Sportsmen of the Beard? The cover would look something like this, except with Big Papi in the middle.

The end of baseball season means two things at Sports Illustrated: the swimsuit models are already out on location, shooting their pics for the annual February cash-grab (and occasionally sending a writer along to ogle report on the action), and that the choice for Sportsman of the Year is ready for vetting. Your most likely candidates:

1) Boston Red Sox: A push for pathos, bookending the Boston Marathon tragedy with the first World Series title clinched at Fenway Park since Babe Ruth was in uniform (and before the Green Monster existed at Fenway Park). Or you could give it to Big Papi alone, but then you lose out on all the beards on the cover (reminder to SI photo editor Brad Smith: you’ll want to shoot this cover before they all shave). The managing editor and a top editor whose specialty is baseball were both raised in New England and both attended college in Boston, so don’t be surprised.

SI could present its first Sportsman and Anti-Sportsman of the Year awards to the Manning brothers.

2) Peyton Manning: For the “Football On Your Phone” video alone, he deserves it. The elder Manning bro inspires obsequious overtures from broadcasters whenever he plays, but granted he is on pace to set an NFL record for touchdown passes in a season. And it wasn’t HIS fault the Broncos lost in the playoffs last January…to the eventual Super Bowl champions. Besides, an NFL quarterback has not earned this honor since 2010 (Drew Brees), and I’m sure the gang at MMQB is reminding the top editors of that fact.

Dark horse candidate Kate Upton: It would be her fourth SI cover in under 2 years and lets’ face it, this photo would outsell Big Papi.

3) Rafael Nadal AND Serena Williams: The two birds-one stone route, and you shut up assistant ME and tennis aficionado L. Jon Wertheim for the next decade. Both players won two Grand Slams in 2013 and both finished No. 1. Nadal, at 27, should surpass one-time rival Roger Federer’s mark of 17 Grand Slam singles titles. The speedy Spaniard currently has 13. Williams, at 32, has 17 Grand Slam titles, which trails Margaret Court’s pre-Open era record of 24. She probably won’t catch the aptly named Court, but she could tie modern-era record holder Steffi Graf, who has 22, if she remains as disciplined as she has been the past 16 months.

4. How Many Beards In This Photo?

Sailors (right) and her husband can’t understand why folks mistake them for a gay couple…not that there’s anything….

That’s model Elliott Sailors above. When she’s not shearing off her blonde locks and dressing like an eighth grade boy, she looks like this:

But there are a lot of pretty blondes out there –just ask any SEC quarterback — which makes it difficult to stand out. So why not cut your locks, do the whole androgynous thing, land yourself a Today Show appearance (easier than running through a horde or USC defenders without your helmet on), and let people know that you also do male modeling? In Sailors’ defense, she is six-foot-two.

It worked, though. Here I am doing an item on her.

And as long as I’m on the whole modeling thing, my local newsstand has the current issues of Esquire and French Vogue displayed side by side, which is sort of funny. The former cover features actress Scarlett Johansson with the hed “Sexiest Woman Alive”…

…while the latter publication features Lithuanian model Edita Vilkeviciute giving that honorific a serious challenge.

Then again Edita never sang a karaoke version of “Brass in Pocket”, so until she does…

5. “Aaron McKie…Aaron McKie…Aaron McKie…”

Not surprisingly, Allen Iverson’s retirement press conference yesterday (you’re reading that correctly; The Answer, 38, last played in the NBA in 2010 but chose yesterday to make it official) was a compelling watch. The refrain “practice” was replaced by “Aaron McKie”, a nod to his former 76er teammate who apparently helped AI through a lot of stuff that we’ll never know about. Until the biography comes out.

Listening to the PTI guys discuss Iverson’s retirement, I couldn’t help but agree that there’s a certain melancholy and worry around Iverson’s retirement. Basketball is all he know, it’s all he do. How will he handle the next phase of his life and is he even fiscally solvent (that’s where the biography or ghost-written autobiography enters play)?

One thing to take away: a lot of boys grow up wanting to emulate Allen Iverson. They should grow up also wanting to emulate Aaron McKie.


As a chick, Lauer could sort of use some rhinoplasty, no?

That’s Carmen Electra, Willie Geist and Matt Lauer sporting Halloween costumes on The Today Show. Over at “Ghoul Morning, America”, Sam Champion dressed in drag (I’ll hold my tongue here). I can’t imagine former Today hosts Tom Brokaw or Bryant Gumbel ever playing along with such shenanigans.

If you had “Bo” in the “Which Pelini brother is having the worse week?” sweepstakes, you were WRONG! Who knew?


Golson: “Poor judgement.”

Our man Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated scores one of the season’s bigger, if not biggest, gets, an exclusive interview with former (and soon-to-be future) Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Andy tries his best, but he never succeeds in getting the elusive Golson to use the term “cheat.”

A 2014 primer for college football scribes: The quarterback’s name is spelled “G-0-l-s-o-n” and the running back’s name is spelled “F-o-l-s-t-o-n.”



Love, here conquering not all but at least the Magic.

Kevin Durant has the high scoring game of the NBA season’s first two nights, a 42-point effort in a victory versus the Utah Jazz. Kevin Love posts a 31-point, 17-rebound double-double. He also hit a game-tying three to send the game into OT versus Orlando in a game that the T-Wolves eventually won. Good to see some things don’t change.

Remote Patrol

Arizona State at Washington State

ESPN 10:30 p.m.

Swords with Friends: Here’s hoping the Pirate Captain dons a costume for tonight’s Pac-12 contest.

Sparky. Spooky. Will Mike Leach roam the sidelines brandishing a cutlass and an eye-patch? Will Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson, who yesterday spurned any overtures from Texas to become their next AD, sport this suit in public on the Palouse? Has Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday’s arm recovered from the 89 pass attempts he tried at Oregon 11 days earlier? Tune in and see.


IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Wednesday, October 30

Starting Five

At a moment like this, sharks are the least of your worries.

1. Doing ‘The Wave’

That’s Carlos Burle of Brazil at the Praia do Norte, just off the coast of Portugal, most likely setting a world-record for the tallest wave ever surfed. Wave-measurement is an inexact science, but it is believed that Burle, riding out a remnant of the St. Jude’s storm that has rocked the European coast, topped the record of 78 feet set by Garrett McNamara in 2011 (McNamara was on the scene to witness Burle’s ride and, in the spirit of big-wave surfing bonhomie, seemed genuinely pleased for Burle).

Only one day earlier Burle had been towing another Brazilian surfer, Maya Gabeira, when the wave crashed down upon her and knocked her unconscious. As these pictures attest, Burle performed CPR on her and most likely saved her life. The following day, he set his record.

Author Susan Casey, with Laird Hamilton (as Gabriella warns, “Hands off my husband’s board!”)

If you want to learn more about big-wave surfing and the mental state of people who attempt it, I highly recommend Susan Casey’s “The Wave.” While the entire tome may have been one attractive middle-aged female’s literary quest to at least flirt with Laird Hamilton, it’s still an incredible read.

2. Beyond Ruthian

Big Papi has yet to strike out in the World Series.

David Ortiz is hitting .733 in a World Series and it’s not taking place in Williamsport, Pa. Just to be clear.

The greatest batting average in a World Series belongs to Mickey Hatcher of the Cincinnati Reds in 1990, who in a four-game sweep of the Oakland A’s went 9 for 12 (.750). However, if you up the plate appearances to beyond Hatcher’s 15 (Hatcher drew two walks and there was probably a fielder’s choice involved), no one tops Ortiz’s .733. The next highest batting average in a World Series beyond 15 PA’s belongs to Babe Ruth, who hit .625 in a four-game sweep of these very St. Louis Cardinals in 1928 (revenge for being thrown out by the Cards as he was attempting to steal second to make the last out in Game 7 of the ’26 World Series).

A couple more things: Ortiz, who still needs to bat tonight and thus see his average fall (though the Cards could very well walk him every time at-bat), has yet to strike out this World Series. His teammates, who are batting a collective .151, have struck out 50 times.

It was only three seasons ago that inveterate Boston columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote in a piece that appeared on that “Ortiz will never again be the slugger he once was.”

Which begs the following questions: Has Ortiz, at 37, simply come all the way back from his injuries and enjoying the fruits of both recovered good health and experience? Or is Ortiz, who was one of 100 players named in a 2009 New York Times piece as one of roughly 100 players whom baseball put on its doping list in 2003, gone Armstrong on us and we’re just too infatuated to care?

Recall, Ortiz was literally released by the Minnesota Twins after the 2002 season. No other team would accept him in a trade, and then Boston signed him for $1.25 million. Ortiz, who broke in back in 1997, has had a Hall of Fame career since then with the exception of 2008 and 2009 when he hit .264 and.238, respectively, and had his lowest home run totals in a full season of play since joining the Red Sox.

Don’t accuse me of accusing him. Accuse me of, in a year that has given us the Lance Armstrong and Ryan Braun mea culpas, of at least broaching the subject.

3. It’s NOT The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Dracula puts the moves on Francesca

Last week I was scrolling through lists after typing in the Google search, “Best Halloween Specials”, hunting for a Halloween special I’d watched as a lad but whose title I had forgotten. Not one search list included the stop-action animation film I’d recalled seeing but eventually, by typing in words that sounded correct (“Monster”, for one), I found it.

“Mad Monster Party.”

The film is available on Netflix and it’s a hoot. Released in 1967, it possesses the same appetite for camp that another show of that era, “Batman”, did. The premise is that Dr. Frankenstein –voiced here by the legendary Boris Karloff, who is the DeNiro of horror movies — is retiring from the monster-making business and has convened all the world’s top monsters to an island to announce an heir to his throne.

It’s basically “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” with fangs.

Phyllis and her mate, in the film. In her act Diller used to refer to a husband named “Fang”, which was entirely ficitional.

One of the funnier conceits: Phyllis Diller plays the Frankenstein monster’s mate, and her puppet caricature looks, well, EXACTLY like her.

4. The Season of Swaggy P

Swaggy P: “Basketball jones, I gotta basketball jones, I got a basketball jones, oh baby, ooh ooh ooh”

The intramural rivalry and season debut of the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers was not two minutes old when Stephen Douglas of The Big Lead tweeted, “Nick Young is already my all-time favorite Laker.”

Mine, too! Young, who grew up in the Southland and played college hoops just an exit or two down the Harbor Freeway at USC, made his Lakers debut last night and appeared more than prepared to pick up the swagger slack caused by the absence of one Kobe Bean Bryant. The acrobatic Young, who goes by the nom de hoop of Swaggy P, is a seven-year NBA veteran, but he was totally out of his element playing on the East Coast in D.C. and Philly (he did play one season for the Clips, but we’ve all forgotten that, too).

The six-foot-seven Young scored 13 points as the Lakers surprised their rude co-tenants, 116-103. Sure, three other Lakers scored more points and their entire 41-point 4th-quarter barrage was scored by the second unit, but Young’s flash stood out. He’s brazen, and a world in which Kobe must sit by in street clothes and quietly rank the Laker Girls in his head to pass the time, We need Nick Young.

If only this SI cover (that’s former Clippers Young and Chris Kaman) had actually appeared.

The Lakers are plucky underdogs, damnit, and that doesn’t happen often. And Nick Young is their flag-bearer. You strut your bad stuff, Swaggy P.

5. Go Duck Yourselves

Torrents of rain notwithstanding, the denizens of Autzen are fair-weather fans.

A former University of Oregon football player attended Saturday night’s game versus UCLA at Autzen Stadium and came away thinking Duck fans are quack. Then he wrote a letter to John Canzano of The Oregonian about it. Is anyone really that surprised by their behavior?

You may recall that a disgruntled Duck alum wrote a first-year Oregon coach after Oregon lost its 2009 opener and whined that he deserved his money back for having traveled to watch such a putrid effort. The alum, Tony Seminary, even sent the coach an invoice for $439. And that Duck coach sent Seminary a check for that amount.

The coach, of course, was Chip Kelly, who would go on to win 46 of his next 52 games as Oregon’s coach. But you can see why he left for Philadelphia now, no?

Remote Patrol

Game 6, World Series

FOX 8 p.m.

Never mind Helen of Troy. You can sell a bleacher seat for north of $1,000 and watch the game on TV.

Remember that scene in “Good Will Hunting” in which Sean Maguire tells Will Hunting that he scalped his ticket for Game 6 of the 1975 World Series after telling his buddies he had to “go see about a girl.”? Well, if you find yourself in a bar on Yawkey Way tonight with a ducat to Game 6, just know that you can probably hawk it for at least $1,100 and as much as $12,000, according to StubHub. And yes, the last time Fenway Park hosted a World Series Game 5 was the night Sean met his future wife.


IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Tuesday, October 29

Starting Five

That threshold carry should be something to see.

1. The Bride Wore…Heels?

Some might say they found love in a hopeless place…the 31 inches that roughly separate their lips. On the other hand Sultan Kosen, who at eight-foot-three is, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s tallest living human, does happen to be tall, dark and handsome. Kosen, of Turkey, wed Marve Dibo, who is five-foot-eight, because he has never heard of the WNBA.

2. The Return of Golden Tate Warrior

Tate to Rams: Buh-bye.

Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate, who last year made the most infamous catch, a.k.a. the “Fail Mary”, on Monday Night Football in ages, scored the only two touchdowns in last night’s 14-9 MNF win for Seattle. At the end of his second TD grab, an 80-yard bomb from Russell Wilson, GTW taunted the Rams secondary some. Nothing new for anyone who watched him play at Notre Dame.

Tate swan dives into Sparty’s band…

Two best Golden Tate TDs. The first, after the go-ahead score versus Michigan State in 2009, when he launches himself directly into the Michigan State band. The second, later that year, when Tate takes a crushing shot (1:40 mark of video) from USC safety Taylor Mays, who at the time had a rep as the college game’s most notorious head hunter, as he hauls in a short TD pass from Jimmy Clausen. Not only did the Weebles-built Tate not fall, but he stared at Mays, who did fall, as he casually flipped the football as if to ask, “That all you got?”

FYI: Listeners to my podcast, The Grotto, heard former ND QB Evan Sharpley inform us that as a freshman Tate always line up on the side of the Notre Dame bench so that the coaching staff could tell him what route he needed to run.

3. From Velvet Underground to Under Ground

Reed with his wife, fellow rocker Laurie Anderson.

New York native Lou Reed, whose music was inextricably woven into the rock-and-roll fabric of this city, died over the weekend at the age of 71. The culprit: liver disease. Besides his work with The Velvet Underground, Reed gave us “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Dirty Boulevard”, two songs you will hear on any jukebox at any dive bar in the Big Apple if you stick around for three beers. Lou Reed gave the world those two songs spent his last hours in his home in Amagansett, Long Island, with family before succumbing to that ol’ mortal coil. Not bad. Not bad at all.

My favorite, most haunting song that Reed was involved with is “Femme Fatale”, here sung by the gorgeous Nico. REM covered this tune as well as “There She Goes Again” on their album “Dead Letter Office.”

Classics include “Femme Fatale”, “There She Goes Again”, “I’m Waiting For The Man” and “Heroin.”

4. Denver Bronco Cheerleader Squad: Fastest Route to On-Air Reporting

Beisner then…

For the past two decades, and this is no secret to any male who follows the NFL or has access to the web, the Denver Broncos have stock-piled cheerleading talent as if Nick Saban were recruiting for them. Either that or they simply air-brush the portraits better than any one else. Perhaps both.

…and now.

Anyway, there are currently three former Broncos cheerleaders working as on-air reporters. The most visible one is Michelle Beisner of the NFL Network, who is engaged to FOX broadcaster Joe Buck (the two met at last year’s Super Bowl…could this explain the power outage in the third quarter?).

Garnder currently works for CBS Sports Network

Beisner, who spent six years with the Broncos squad, the last four as a captain, is not the only one. Lauren Gardner, a reporter for CBS Sports Network, grew up in Denver and was a member of the squad while a student at the University of Colorado.

Finally, there’s Renee Herlocker, who hosted ESPN’s coverage of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest last Fourth of July.

Herlocker did not marry Brian Urlacher, though the hyphenated surname would be awesome.

Anything wrong with this? Hardly. It’s no more sexist than putting Kirk Herbstreit and Jesse Palmer on camera.

5. Brazil, Antarctica, Scotland (Need it, Got it, Got it)

Scotland’s Isle of Skye. I’d have kilt to be there this summer.

Here’s The Lonely Planet’s guide to the top 10 destinations for 2014. I can attest to Antarctica and Scotland, the latter being my favorite place I’ve ever visited –and I’ve been to Youngstown, so there.




IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Tuesday, October 29

The Lottery Game

The Ducks’ Nicholls package: a 66-3 ambush of an FCS foe.

Exactly 125 member schools currently exist in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), and yet the three programs that most everyone agrees are at the top of the class this season after two months –Alabama, Florida State and Oregon–chose to look beyond this membership to fill out their 2013 schedules.

On August 31 the Ducks hosted Nicholls State of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), which resulted in a 66-3 wildfire.

On September 21 the Seminoles welcomed FCS member Bethune-Cookman and then promptly shooed them out after a 54-6 pink belly.

And on November 23 the Crimson Tide, the vanguard of the Deep South and winners of three of the past four national championships, will play T-Rex to the chained goat that is Chattanooga, also an FCS program, in Tuscaloosa.

Have you seen that JetBlue ad where the cabbie tries to charge the female passenger $25 to put her luggage in the trunk? The tagline is, “You wouldn’t take it on the ground; why do you put up with it when you fly?”

Well, can you imagine if every NFL team were allowed to schedule its own non-divisional games? Worse, can you imagine if the league’s premier teams, such as the San Francisco 49ers or the Denver Broncos, added the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to their schedules? You would think that’s crazy for the NFL to allow. So why do we blithely ignore the even grosser mismatch of Alabama versus Chattanooga?

There’s a reason the 49ers are not allowed to schedule the Blue Bombers of Winnipeg: mutual schedule integrity.

Every sport, but particularly a sport that you and I revere as much as college football, needs schedule integrity. This year, and even when it goes to a playoff system next year, it is unfair for schools to literally schedule below their level just so that they may have the double benefit of the revenue that another home game brings plus an easy, injury-free win. Will it cost the leviathans a little money to forfeit a home game in front of 95,000 in favor of a potential road trip to Akron? Doesn’t everything that ultimately benefits society as a whole cost the robber barons a dollar or two?

There is a better way. First of all, no FBS team that aspires to a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) berth should be permitted to schedule an FCS school. ‘nuf said.

However, what if there were a way to add suspense and, dare I say, a sense of fairness that would extend no more favor to Georgia than it does to Georgia State? What if, for at least one Saturday each season, we pretended that no FBS team could use the leverage of its stadium size and hence, potential visitors’ check, to schedule the so-called “body bag game?”

The Lottery Game selection show would be every bit as huge as the NCAA Tournament Selection show, and Rece Davis can host it.


I give you…. (da da-da da) The Lottery Game, an idea that would draw enthusiasm from at least 90% of the fan bases, would provide a shot of adrenaline to what has become mostly moribund non-conference scheduling by the sport’s aristocratic powers, and would be a TV bonanza.

Here’s how it works. The first Saturday of every November would remain open on every team’s schedule. At some point in early August, say, a day or two before fall camps may begin, a network hosts The Lottery Game Selection Show. Every FBS school puts it name into a hat. And we would proceed thusly:


Jimmy Johnson (and Dennis Erickson) took the Canes to Norman, Tallahassee, Ann Arbor, South Bend, Little Rock, Baton Rouge, Madison, East Lansing, Provo, Berkeley, Morgantown, Iowa City, State College…those Canes scheduled like a BOSS and still won three national titles.

1) Begin either at the top or the bottom of the list of FBS schools, in alphabetical order. I ran this experiment myself last night and, being a “W”, I chose to start at the bottom: Wyoming.

2) Pull a name out of the hat. I yanked out University of Texas-San Antonio (yes, they are an actual FBS school).

3) Lather, rinse, repeat.

Of course, there are potential problems. So allow me to address them here:

A) You pull out the name of your own school.

B) You pull out the name of a school that is already on your schedule.

C) You pull out the name of a school that is in your conference.

In the case of all of the above, you simply return that name to the hat. But here is what makes for more compelling television. Say this happens for Western Michigan, which was the third school on the list in my draft. Instead of just selecting another school for the Broncos, you  move on to the next school (West Virginia). Western Michigan must now wait until every other school has chosen, during which time the Broncos may be selected by another school, until its spot in the draft comes up again. If the Broncos have already been selected by another school as their Lottery Game foe by then, so be it.

What makes this more compelling is that  the first 62 schools, or half, to draw a foe will be the home team. So whereas Western Michigan picked third –after Wyoming and Wisconsin –and seemed a sure bet to host a Lottery Game, now the Broncos are vulnerable to being chosen by someone else and being the visitor.

The odds of an SEC, Big 12 or Big Ten school, or Notre Dame visiting the Smurf Turf increase from current 0% with the Lottery Game.

It all adds to the suspense of The Lottery Game Selection Show, most likely hosted by Rece Davis.

The beauty of the idea, of course, is that no school controls its destiny — unlike what transpires now, as schools such as Alabama, Florida State and Oregon (and they’re not the only ones) use one of their 12 games as a glorified scrimmage. No doubt that the Tide have a difficult SEC schedule, but so what? Plenty of other schools choose to play quality intersectional games each season and the sport is better for it. For a decade, from 1983 to 1993, the Miami Hurricanes were the most fearless team in college football –out of necessity, mind you, The U was an independent — but during this era they also won four national championships. Fortune often favors the bold.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t fly with Betty from Bessemer (“Pawwwwwwwl!”), but my interest is the welfare of the sport, not the continued hegemony of a Crimson Tide (or Gator…or Tiger…or Gamecock…or Ole Miss) program that confines itself to one quadrant of the country

The results of my selection process yielded 17 matchups between Automatic Qualifier schools:

North Carolina State at Wisconsin

Nebraska at Washington

Ohio State at Southern California

The Trojans and Buckeyes have actually had a Pryor engagement or two.

Rutgers at Texas Tech

Indiana at Texas A&M

Michigan at Syracuse

Iowa at North Carolina

Colorado at Kansas State

Mississippi State at Iowa State

Minnesota at Georgia

Arkansas at Clemson

Arizona at Baylor

Miami at Arizona State

Oklahoma at Temple

South Florida at Stanford

Memphis at Oregon State

Florida State at Brigham Young


Some of the more prominent schools not featured above:

Buffalo at Oregon; Notre Dame at San Jose State; Auburn at Nevada; Alabama at Fresno State; Florida at Central Michigan. ( I have all 62 games recorded. If you really want to know what my draft yielded, or whom your favorite team drew, ask in the Comments).

Of course, because there are 125 FBS schools, one school would be left out. In my draft that was Navy. The Midshipmen could take a bye week, or they could choose to schedule an FCS opponent.

Coaches, you say, would never go for this idea. You’re right. But maybe TV executives could see the $$$ potential, and that message is passed on to school presidents and athletic directors, who would influence their coaches. Would the oligarchs of the game, would Alabama and Oregon and Texas be in favor of this? Maybe not, but a majority of the schools would be.

One school, one vote? Or Jim Delany, one vote? How should college football be run?

And you do not get to schedule your Lottery Game at Jerry World or the Georgia Dome. Home venues only.

Another item: if forced into this, most coaches would prefer this game be played in September. Sorry. You play it in November, once records are established and once the stakes for the unbeatens are higher. An undefeated Alabama knows what to expect from fellow SEC teams it plays annually. But a visit to Fresno State in November might throw the Tide out of their comfort zone.


Wouldn’t this be terrific for fans? If Alabama purports to be national champions, would it be so terrible for the Tide to actually venture out to the Rocky Mountains or beyond once every quarter-century? Wouldn’t San Jose State’s football program get a shot in the arm by adding the Fighting Irish to its season ticket package?

Of course, in a given year some teams will draw the short straw (Ohio State at Southern Cal is a bowl game, not a breather) while others get an easy “W.” That’s why it’s called The Lottery Game.

Finally, one thing for everyone to remember: Have you seriously studied the gallery of member schools in the FBS? There are a lot of, well, subpar ones. Look at the bottom of the Top 25, for example. The last three or four schools on that list every week are good but not necessarily dominant teams. Then remember that the Top 25 is composed of the top 20% of the FBS. Every school has 4:1 odds of NOT FACING a Top 25 opponent and a lot of those Not Top 25s, especially the bottom half of the FBS, well, if your school aspires to a BCS bowl, they should present no problem.

In other words, while The Lottery Game poses the potential for great risk –Florida State at Oregon, WHAT!?! — for every program, the majority of the Haves are going to be paired with an opponent they can live with. Just not one that they are necessarily familiar with. Which is what would make it fun for us fans.

If this could happen –and if the Irish could play for the national championship five years later–anything is possible.

Could this ever happen? You’re going to tell someone who covered Charlie Weis’ final season at Notre Dame in 2009 only to see the Fighting Irish play for the national championship three years later that something in college football is impossible? Not a chance. I’d rather dream big.


IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Monday, October 28

Starting Five

The 9th inning image Cardinal fans hoped to see.


“Truth is stranger than Fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

Oh, that’s Missouri native Samuel Clemens, a man who knew his way around a pithy sports lede, even if he wasn’t a sportswriter.

How do you explain the past three days in Missour-uh, as my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Claypool, a Show-Me State native, used to say it? Old-timer baseball fans (are there any other kind) like to tell you that in any given game you can see something that you’ve never before witnessed, that’s part of the game’s charm.

So last night, for the first time in World Series history, a game ends with a pickoff play at first base. Just one night after Game 3 ended in unique fashion, a World Series-first obstruction call at third base. If you’re scoring at home, the Sox have lost two games of this World Series because of a poor –and more importantly, an ill-advised –throw from home (where the tying run had just scored) to third base.

Missouri’s perfect season ends by mere inches, as the game-tying field goal in OT hits the upright.

And, if you’re still scoring at home (resisting urge to usurp Olbermann joke here), that’s two consecutive games that ended with a Cardinal runner being tagged out at a base, although the Cardinals won one of those games.

Both endings were put into motion by a ninth-inning pinch hit by Allen Craig, who was just activated for the Fall Classic after missing a month with an injury that was caused  by an umpire.

In both games the Red Sox scored four runs.

It’s shaping up as a bizarre World Series. Would you want any other kind?

Adding to the misery of the Cards’ 4-2 Game 4 defeat at Busch Stadium? The batter, Carlos Beltran, who represented the tying run, is hitting .300 in the World Series and has been the very definition of clutch this month.

This catch by Ellington means that we still have a chance of Jadeveon Clowney versus the Alabama offense in December.

Meanwhile, in the center of the state, a far more soul-crushing loss for the Missouri Tigers. Mizzou, which had quietly risen to No. 5 in the BCS rankings with a 7-0 record, led South Carolina 17-0 in the fourth quarter. But the Ol’ Ball Coach had put hobbled quarterback Connor Shaw into the game late in the third quarter. Shaw led USC to 17 unanswered fourth-quarter points to force overtime.

In OT, South Carolina trailed 24-17 and faced a fourth-and-goal from its 15-yard line. Shaw connected with Bruce Ellington, who was surprisingly wide open.

In the second OT, after the Gamecocks had settled for a field goal, Mizzou had first-and-goal from the 8 after a 17-yard run by Marcus Murphy right through Jadeveon Clowney’s kitchen. Eight yards from 8-0 and no worse than fifth in the polls. But the Tigers were unable to find paydirt and Andrew Bagget’s 24-yard field goal try struck the upright, though kudos to ESPN’s Joe Tessitore for noticing that the holder failed to spin the laces away from Bagget’s foot.


Whether or not Middlebrooks was trying to obstruct Craig is irrelevant.

Also, that’s consecutive weekends that the Red Sox have won a postseason game with a Hawaiian intimately involved with the outcome. Last Saturday it was Shane Victorino’s grand slam (I know; that feels like two years ago). Last night it was Kolten Wong’s boner, though credit Koji Uehara for a cobra-quick pickoff. Also, as Ed Sherman notes, how can you be that hard on Wong when even Fox missed Uehara’s throw?

Also, for context, it’s not as if the rookie Wong was fooled by the old hidden-ball trick, as the team’s leadoff man, Matt Carpenter, was just one month ago in Denver (timing is everything, Kolten; you’ll learn that).

Memorable weekend for the denizens of the Show Me State. Missouri, misery, mystery.

2. Who Belongs In This Space?

It’s no reach to put Benjamin and the Seminoles at No. 2.

My favorite moment of an overindulged college football Saturday? It was still scoreless during the North Carolina State-Florida State contest (I use that term loosely here), when Seminole quarterback Jameis Winston pitched to (not William) Karlos Williams for a sweep around the right edge. Into my screen comes sophomore wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who is six-foot-five inches and 235 pounds of badass, for a crackback block on the hap-deprived Wolfpack linebacker on the edge.

Benjamin buries him as Williams scoots around the edge for an 18-yard TD scamper. But here’s the best part (thanks to Eric Nelson for supplying the video). After the block Benjamin never rotates his head to see if Williams scores. He simply stands over the fallen soldier and is either looking at Winston or the Seminole bench as he nods his head as if to say, “Yup, I’m bad.”

(The Seminole coaching staff rewarded Benjamin on the very next Seminole offensive play by dialing his number for a post route. The result was a 39-yard touchdown catch.)

“Yup, I’m bad” was the day’s theme for the nation’s top four teams. The Seminoles led N.C. State, a team that beat them only a year ago, 35-0 after 13 minutes. No. 1 Alabama, whose game had the same 3:30 p.m. kickoff, was slightly more reserved, waiting until halftime to post a 35-0 score against Tennessee. No. 2 (now No. 3) Oregon found itself deadlocked with an outstanding UCLA squad (at least defensively) at halftime, 14-14 all, but then scored 28 unanswered second-half points.

And No. 4 Ohio State simply buried Penn State, 63-14.

At halftime the respective scores were 42-0, 35-0, 14-14, and 42-7.

And we shouldn’t forget Baylor, which led Kansas 38-0 at the half.

The Bruins lost in Eugene, but linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (here burying Taylor Martinez back in September) was the breakout star.

What does it all mean, besides the fact that you are better off picking these teams to cover their halftime spreads than their game spreads? Nothing yet.

Everyone arguing over whether Oregon or Florida State is No. 2 –as if we can objectively state that Alabama is No. 1 and Ohio State is No. 4 — is just wasting his or her alveoli contractions.

The 10 most important games remaining this season, pre-conference championship games edition:

1) No. 7 Miami at No. 3 Florida State, Nov. 2

Why are the Seminoles favored by 21? Because they should win by 28. And yet this win would give FSU style points due to Hurricanes’ BCS ranking, which is a mirage.

2) No. 2 Oregon at No. 5 Stanford, Nov. 7

Will ESPN’s Thursday night curse befall the Ducks in Palo Alto?

3) No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 8 Baylor, Nov. 7

It’s an uphill climb for the undefeated Bears, but it begins tonight in Waco versus a worthy foe.

In the lowest combined sum race (Scoring Offense + Scoring Defense), Baylor and FSU are tied at 7

4) No. 13 LSU at No. 1 Alabama, Nov. 9

Tigers ruined Tide’s undefeated season in Tuscaloosa –or so we thought–last time they visited.

5) No. 2 Oregon at Arizona, Nov. 23

Wildcats have one of the nation’s top running backs in Kadeem Carey and ruined Ducks’ quest for a national title in Tucson in 2007.

Arizona’s Ka’deem Carey is once again leading the nation in rushing…if not carries.

6) Oregon State at No. 2 Oregon, Nov. 29

Civil War and a quarterback who can match Marcus Mariota score for score. Beavers shouldn’t win, but that’s why we play.

7) No. 4 Ohio State at No. 21 Michigan, Nov. 30

The Game. If Wolverines lose in East Lansing this Saturday, the value of this win diminishes.

8.) Alabama at No. 11 Auburn, Nov. 30

Here’s your last four national champions meeting once again in the Iron Bowl.

9) Florida State at Florida, Nov. 30

Because The Swamp is never an easy place to win (I don’t think the Canes will provide much of a test this weekend).

10) No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 5 Stanford, Nov. 30

Lots of Don Meredith-ian ifs and buts involved here, but Cardinal are currently No. 5. If Irish win out to be 9-2 when they arrive in Palo Alto, if Cardinal are 10-1 (having knocked off Ducks), and if Alabama and either FSU or Ohio St. have lost, then this game has meaning. Besides, it’s a sexy matchup even though Notre Dame last won here in 2007.

Oh, and not that the BCS cares, but 8-1 Ball State visits 8-0 Northern Illinois (No. 17 in the BCS) on November 13. I care, Huskies, I care. And I wouldn’t be surprised if College Gameday heads to Rockford.

3. Boardwalking Dead Empire

Daryl and Carol: Tougher than the rest.

Last night I whined that “The Walking Dead” has morphed into “Lockdown” with a bad cough. Are you a fan of the mystery virus story arc? Are you wondering about the irony of the fact that the Center for Disease Control is located in Atlanta? Do you think that Daryl, whom we’ve dubbed “Ugly Cute Guy” in our abode, might want to pay less attention to what CD is in the glove compartment? How many zombies does it take to cause your tires to spin? Did you see Marilyn Manson on “Talking Dead” and wonder, How come they didn’t book Rob Zombie instead (especially after listening to the nonsense effluent that was falling from Manson’s lips)? Is this entire season a metaphor for us, that we’d rather imprison ourselves and have a false sense of security than risk the great outdoors and unknown (that’s the ghost of Chris McCandless shouting, “YES! YES! YES!”). Why does Herschel button his long-sleeved shirt to the top button when it’s gotta be 100 degrees with 80% humidity in that Georgia heat? Did Carol really send the ridiculously cute little girl into the quarantine area and does that make her the Nick Saban of the survivors?

I’ve got questions! You supply the answers.

4. Robert Durand is a Little Sensitive About His Physique

This happened last week, but I didn’t want it to disappear forever. The Washington Post published a story in which it described a U.S. Navy captain as “thickset”, and apparently someone at the Department of Defense took objection to that adjective.

5. Eye of the Lion?

Stafford and Megatron sent the Cowboys home to Dallas with a .500 record.

So strange to see a native son of Dallas pull a Roger Staubach on the Cowboys yesterday. I’ll let others opine on the Dez Bryant tirade. I just enjoyed watching Stafford drone-strike the Cowboy secondary on that final drive, finding seams in the defense that seemingly did not exist. Stafford was four-for-four for 79 yards, and then he punctuated it with that dive over the top when the ‘boys probably expected him to spike it from the one. Brilliant.

FYI, the Lions scored 24 fourth-quarter points and the Broncos 31.

Oh, and the NFL exiled San Francisco and Jacksonville to London, because if a 28-0 game at halftime won’t induce Brits –who already have a sport of football that they’re passionate about — to switch teams, so to speak, what will?

Remote Patrol

World Series, Game 5

FOX 8 p.m.

Speaking of “rake”….

I’ll watch Greg Kinnear in anything (but especially in “Stuck On You”) so I don’t mind the FOX promos for “Rake.” What will the Fall Classic give us for a bizarre ending tonight? Will Koji Uehara balk in the winning run? Walk-off foul ball fly out caught by Jarrod Saltalamacchia? David Ortiz barreling over Yadier Molina at home plate? Tim McCarver — a former Cardinal catcher of some renown, mind you– slap fighting Joe Buck?


Six weeks ago, if I had told you that a native Texan whose highly decorated high school career that ended in 2010 was now the toast of college football, you’d reply, “Of course. Johnny Football!”

Not anymore. Enter the Cam Era.

McDaniel in the lions’ den. Okay, they’re Trojans, but what’s an Old Testament reference amongst friends?

With the assistance of one serendipitously snapped picture by Chicago-based photographer Jonathan Daniel, Notre Dame junior running back Cam McDaniel has become the world’s most famous college football player –at least for this week.

Manziel played quarterback at Class 4A Kerrville Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas. McDaniel played running back at Class 5A Coppell High School in Coppell, Texas.

Manziel won the Heisman Trophy last year. McDaniel began this year third on the depth chart at running back.

Manziel’s Texas A&M Aggies are 5-2. McDaniel’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 5-2.

Of course, comparing Manziel to McDaniel not only does a disservice to both, but it ignores yet another iconic Texas prep football player who should be mentioned….

Tim Riggins.

Dillon High Panthers.

“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

Also a running back. Also wore No. 33. Also set the internet a flame with his insouciant dreaminess.

Tim Riggins: Female viewers preferred him to play sans helmet as well.

Tim Riggins, the bad boy everyone can’t help but love, the womanizing, beer-swilling mess of hair and chiseled mandible from Friday Night Lights who once, when quizzing the Panther JV about game-situation duties and finding their answers wanting, said: “Too late, play’s over. You waited too long to make a decision. Now we lost the  game because of you, now we’re not going to state, and now the whole town of  Dillon hates you and you’re never going to get laid. FACT.”

Tim Riggins. You want him on your team. When you’re running an illegal chop shop, Tim will take the fall for you. Sure, he may occasionally fall into bed with your girlfriend after you’ve been paralyzed from the neck down attempting to tackle a linebacker who intercepted your pass  (maybe if you hadn’t thrown the interception in the first place? Right?), but who holds grudges over such trifling transgressions.

From Crucifictorious to tormenting Jesse. What happened to you, Landry?

Oh, and did you know that one of Tim’s teammates, Landry Clarke, moved one state west, changed his name to Todd, and took on an entirely new persona as a meth-cooking psychopath? I kid you not.

Anyway, back to Cam McDaniel, who unlike Riggins is no womanizer. In fact, he has a fiancée. Or so we were told in a Friday morning appearance on the Today Show, although the alleged to-be-betrothed never appeared on camera. I imagine two interns at Deadspin are running down the verity of this claim as you read this.

Before Notre Dame’s season opener versus Temple on August 31, McDaniel’s claim to viral fame involved a run-in with a gauntlet machine. It happened during fall camp in August. The Irish running backs coach, Tony Alford, was away attending his brother’s funeral and so head coach Brian Kelly oversaw the RB drills that session. Serendipitously, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, Notre Dame also allowed ESPN’s cameras to film practice on that one day as well. Notre Dame practices are almost ALWAYS closed to media (the Scissor Lift Effect).

Back to Cam. Someone had set up the Gauntlet Machine, an apparatus with springs on hinges that only bend in direction, the wrong way. Kelly ordered McDaniel, who was first in line, to run through it with about a 10 yard head start. McDaniel pointed out that the apparatus needed to be turned 180 degrees, but Kelly pooh-poohed the suggestion and told him to go.

Cam vs Machine: He’s not ‘ridiculously photogenic’ here, is he, ladies?

And this, for me, is where Cam McDaniel became a legend. Because, knowing that the Gauntlet would throw him backward with the force of three Stephon Tuitts, he ran full-bore into it, anyway. And that’s exactly what happened. But Cam McDaniel proved something to me in that moment: he’ll run through a wall for you. Or die trying.

At the time McDaniel remained an innocuous, faceless (!) Irish running back, a punchline for Deadspin/Bleacher Report/SB Nation/Lost Lettermen/Yardbarker/Dr. Saturday/The Big Lead and, yes, even this site.

A few weeks later, in the Irish opener versus Temple, McDaniel did not start –George Atkinson III did — but he finished with more carries (12) than any of the five Irish RBs who did get carries. McDaniel gained 65 yards, his long run an 18-yarder, while USC transfer gained a team-high 68 thanks in large part to a 45-yard scamper in the first quarter.

The Cam Era had yet to be born.

The following Saturday in Ann Arbor, before more people (115, 109) than had ever seen a football game in person, including Marshall Mathers, Cam had just one rush for four yards. The Irish trailed 14-0 early, and for the entire game, televised in prime time on ESPN, Kelly leaned far more on Tommy Rees’ arm than on any RB’s legs (Carlisle had a team-high 12 carries for 64 yards).

The first time.

It was not until a week later, in a prime-time game on ABC at Purdue, that the country got its first taste of the helmet-(less) Cam. Late in the second quarter with the Irish trailing 10-0, the five-foot-ten, 205-pounbd back got four straight carries to take the ball from the Purdue 18 down to the Boilermaker 3 (the Irish would settle for a field goal). On the last of his four carries the bullish McDaniel, who seems to enjoy running between the tackles, had his helmet knocked off. This photo emerged, but America failed to notice (where were you then, Tamryn Hall?)

This helmet-knocker drew blood, but McDaniel simply drank it as a halftime energy drink and returned more robust.

Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Irish clinging to a 31-24 lead after a Purdue touchdown, Carlisle fumbled on first down.

After the Irish held Purdue on downs, Kelly replaced Carlisle with our square-jawed argonaut. There was 7:22 remaining and the Irish held a 7-point lead on the road. Notre Dame would run eleven more plays. Ten of them would be rushing plays, and all of those would be handoffs to the sure-handed Cam. Purdue never saw the ball again. And it was then, when Kelly basically announced to whoever cared to listen that McDaniel was the player he trusted most, that the Cam Era arrived.

It wasn’t that Cam was spectacular. It was simply that he ran with purpose, with his shoulders squared, and that he was not about to fumble. Ten carries for 42 yards –three carries were for zero yardage–when every last person at Ross-Ade Stadium knew he was getting the handoff.

McDaniel finished with 16 carries for 56 yards and one TD. Pedestrian, sure. But Kelly, a coach who’d seen a running back and a quarterback fumble away sure TDs that went for TDs in the other direction two years ago (Jonas Gray versus USF and Dayne Crist versus USC), is more concerned with his running backs holding onto the football.

Anyway, two weeks later, versus Arizona State in Arlington, Tex, not too far from the Dallas suburb where he grew up, McDaniel was involved in another head-banger. At the end of a 29-yard run he knocked helmet with a Sun Devil defensive back and had to leave the game (see what happens when the helmet stays on?). He did return.

And then, after a bye week, last Saturday night’s game versus Southern California.

Remember me, America?

The play that launched McDaniel’s Hollister-worthy modeling career the one that he and his teammates have dubbed “Blue Steel” (Zoolander reference), occurred in the second quarter. The Irish took over on their own 22 after a missed USC field goal attempt with 12:12 remaining and McDaniel carried on consecutive plays, for 2 and 6 yards. One of those carries ended with McDaniel losing his helmet, but continuing on. My guess is that it was the latter, in which a false start penalty on Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley nullified the play.

The drive stalled there.

Cam sat out the next series.

Then, on the following series, he returned.

With the Irish trailing 10-7 late in the first half, Cam had runs of 24 and 36 yards –his longest career rushes –that helped the Irish to its go-ahead touchdown, a reception by T.J. Jones. Who knew at the time that it would be the game’s final score?

McDaniel finished with a team-high 92 yards (we’re knee-deep in the hoopla for a young man who has yet to record a 100-yard rushing effort, by the way) on 18 carries, but it wasn’t until Jonathan Daniel’s photo emerged two days later that his life changed.


Michigan’s Vincent Smith lost his helmet, too, but ended up on the wrong side of this meme.


On Monday afternoon a follower on Twitter, Nick Chapa, sent me a link to the photo and used the term “ridiculously photogenic” to describe the shot. Of course, it’s not simply that McDaniel has Abercrombie & Fitch catalog looks. It’s that, in the midst of this maelstrom of malfeasance, in a tempest of men much larger than he who bid him ill will, that his visage is so placid. That preternatural calm. That is what makes the photo so iconic, so unforgettable.

I posted an item on Tuesday morning noting that Notre Dame is “Unranked, But Extremely Handsome”. I still think that if such a photo of six-foot-seven tight end Troy Niklas ever finds its way to Deadspin that the internet will burst.

Anyway, you’ve seen all the madness that has happened since, culminating in Friday’s Today Show interview. I can picture Tamryn, Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales all sharing a smoke after it concluded. Seriously, cougars, that was funny.

Tight end Niklas: Could a walk-off against Cam be next?

Worth noting: Notre Dame was on fall break last week, so while the nation swooned over McDaniel, he was pretty much alone on campus with the other fall and winter sports jocks who could not escape home for a week’s respite of home cooking and laundry. It’ll be interesting to see how his classmates treat his newly found celebrity when they return this weekend.

The Irish visit Air Force Academy later this afternoon and will play their least visible, from a television standpoint, game of the year, on CBS Sports Network. So maybe life will return to normal. For Cam. For college football. For America.



IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Friday, October 25

Starting Five

Bulls. Bears. Birds? Yes, birds.

1. Aviary Special IPO

Ordinarily, birds are known for heading south this time of year. Especially Canadian snow geese. Have you seen those creatures? They’re huge.

However, today comes news that Twitter has finally set a date and a price for its Initial Public Offering, or IPO. The San Francisco-based company that was founded in 2006 will go public on Wednesday, November 6 and have an initial price of between $17 to $20. Industry experts say that the company is being appraised at a “modest” $11 billion because executives are wary of the “Facebook Effect”, a reference to that company’s calamitous, at least at the time, IPO.

And good luck buying Twitter stock (ticker symbol TWTR) at that price, unless your bank account already has six zeros and two commas.

A thought or two: We can compare Twitter to both Google and Facebook, two other Bay Area-based companies whose website everyone uses but about whom experts said upon their respective IPOs., “But how do they make money?”

The answer: Hand over fist.

Google (GOOG) went public on August 19, 2004. Its IPO price was $85 per share. Nine years later it closed yesterday at $1,025 per share, or 12 times its initial price, or about a 133% jump PER YEAR since its IPO.

Facebook (FB) went public on May 16, 2012, with a glitch-filled IPO (it was delayed for more than a half hour, causing panic) and at a price of $38. The stock price fell all the way down to $18.87 last November 12, but you know what? Yesterday FB closed at $52.44, meaning that if you had bought it on its IPO day and never sold, you’d still be up about 37%. That could change your status from “Middle-class” to “Holiday in Santorini.”

The outlook: I’ll be surprised if Twitter isn’t selling as high as $25-30 by the end of its first day. There may be some turbulence that first week, but five years from now? I doubt anyone who buys the stock this next month will be bummed that they did. Twitter is a far more accessible tool than Facebook, and I find that while I go to Google often, I spend far more time on Facebook. It’s half the fun of watching any sporting event on TV these days.

Finally, The man behind the Twitter IPO, at least on the investment banker side, is Goldman Sachs’ Anthony Noto, a former football player at Army and former CFO at the NFL. One industry insider calls him the “Don Draper of IPOs” (so he didn’t get Hershey?). Noto’s secret for success on this deal? He studied the Facebook IPO playbook and did almost everything opposite.

2. Are Cardinal Pitchers Old Enough to Rent a Car?

The Card rookie can legally drink a highball, but he’d rather not throw one. Wacha, wacha, wacha.

Game 2 Starter Michael Wacha: 22 years old. Six innings pitched, 3 hits, 2 earned runs off a blast to Big Papi. No shame in that. Still gets the Win.

Game 2 Middle Reliever Carlos Martinez: 22 years old. Two innings pitched, one hit, no earned runs, three strikeouts.

Game 2 Closer Trevor Rosenthal: 23 years old. One inning pitched, struck out the side. No hits. no walks. Gets the save.

Wacha is now 4-0 in this postseason and actually raised his ERA to 1.00 with last night’s “disappointing” outing. Not bad, rook.

If you were wondering, pitchers younger than Wacha to have won a World Series game include Madison Bumgarner (21) of the San Francisco Giants in 2010, Fernando Valenzuela (20) of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1980, Jim Palmer (20) of the Baltimore Orioles in 1966 and Joe Bush (20) of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1913, who was 20 years old at the time.

As for David Ortiz, who has hit five home runs this October, he is now tied with Jim Thome at No. 7 for most postseason blasts with 17. Check out this list, however, and notice plate appearances. Further evidence that Babe Ruth was the greatest ballplayer of all time.

3. Is This Any Way To Promote Captain Phillips?

Couldn’t this have waited until AFTER we released the director’s cut DVD?

The captain and the chief engineer of a U.S. oil supply vessel, C-Retriever, were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria earlier this week. For the geographically-challenged, Somali pirates operate in the Indian Ocean while Nigerian pirates operate in the Gulf of Guinea, technically the Atlantic Ocean. They have a fierce rivalry, especially in interleague games.

(Also, Nigeria is NOT Niger, although the two nations are adjacent to one another and both give copy editors nightmares. People from Nigeria are known as Nigerians, while people from Niger are known as Nigeriens. Unless you’re Paula Deen [low-hanging fruit, couldn’t resist]. And you thought you’d learn nothing by visiting MH today.)

Anyway, not sure what the pirates are demanding as ransom, but I’d ask for points on the theatrical release as well as a share of the front end. And, if action figures are in the future, I want 5% of the licensing.

4. Steve Rushin in 7 Heaven

No, I said, “Seven Heaven.” Oh well, if we have to run a photo that includes Jessica Biel…

This is the Steve Rushin-est column you may ever read. Read it and then search for other “seven” references that he might have missed. I unearthed James Bond, that Morgan Freeman-Brad Pitt-Kevin Spacey-Gwyneth Paltrow flick, an Uncola  and, of course, the right Reverend Camden and his sultry brood.

“Shaken or stirred?” “Do I look like I give a damn?” (Now THAT’S a great moment)

My man Steve is, thankfully, back on the back page of Sports Illustrated print edition, where he recently penned an eloquent and insightful essay on the NFL’s concussion dilemma. It was a typical Rushin column in that it took seemingly unrelated moments and arcana, tied them all together with an idiot-proof bow, and included a reference to Alan Page, Steve’s boyhood sports hero. I swear, Steve mentions Alan Page nearly as much as I mention Troy Niklas, but they’re both Notre Dame linemen, so it’s all cool.

Alan Page with the Irish. And what does 8 minus 1 equal?

By the way, there are currently only six members in the Rushin-Lobo family. Was this essay a subtle way of suggesting an addition?

5. “Oh Beautiful, O Say Can You See Her, So Fine and Pretty…”

I need verification: Is this James Taylor or is it Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln after a shave?

Acoustic guitar legend and Bay State native James Taylor gets the “Star-Spangled Banner” duty and instead opens with “America the Beautiful” before catching himself after two words, as Deadspin aptly notes. Personally, and as an inveterate fan of word trains, I wish he would’ve segued from the national anthem directly to Van Halen’s, “Dance The Night Away.”

As if you ever need an excuse to break out that Diamond Dave classic. Oh, and if you’re between the ages of 44 and, say, 52, and you NEVER once scrawled the Van Halen logo on the back of a spiral notebook back in junior high, I don’t even know what to say to you.


Pat Haden would already have fired Greg Schiano. I’m just saying. Tampa Bay is 0-7 after last night’s loss at home to Carolina and recruits are decommitting like you wouldn’t believe.


Fox’s Pam Oliver, making friends in the Big Apple. Maybe that football that struck her in the head inflicted more damage than first thought.

Notre Dame meme Cam McDreamy appears on the Today Show (it is NBC, after all) to discuss THAT photo. The ladies of Today, well, this was a tad (Hamilton) embarrassing, was it not? Even Mario Bartiromo thinks they made fools of themselves.

Here’s a photo of Cam after losing his helmet in the Purdue game, shot by Matt Cashore. And another one, as you can see, below (The meme photo was shot by Jonathan Daniel).

(t Earlier this season McDaniel had his helmet knocked off during a rushing attempt near the goal line at Purdue, but failed to become a meme.

Again, wait until they see Troy Niklas.

Oh, and well done, NBC. You were only three days behind this site, which is man-powered by one unpaid employee, on this story. And you actually have rights to Notre Dame football telecasts.

Also, it’s a good question asked by tweet Tom Daignault: Why does McDaniel’s helmet keep coming off? Sure, he loves contact, but is he not strapping it on (Hey, now!) correctly?


I happen to think Russell Brand is truly brilliant (and, yes, I’m saying this on Katy Perry’s 29th birthday). I find that people who dismiss him out of hand because of his accent, or the way he looks, dresses, or the fact that he’s a comedian, do so at their own risk (right, Mika?). Anyway, thanks to The Big Lead for turning me on to this interview between Brand and a fellow Brit on BBC. What I love about it, and about the Brits in general, is that they can fervently disagree or debate a topic on TV without it seeming personal or vindictive. Just two intelligent people batting around ideas. How refreshing.


So, Notre Dame football has a verbal commit from linebacker Greer Martini (the first pledge of the Class of 2014) out of Virginia and is extending an offer to Long Beach, Calif., wide receiver Juju Smith. I’m all for this. See the headline: “Martini’s hits leave opposing RBs shaken AND stirred.”


Just wondering, and I’m honestly asking: Has anyone asked Eddie Vanderdoes how many times he has been home since August 1?

Remote Patrol

Boise State at BYU

ESPN 8 p.m.

Petersen, winner of the Israel Gutierrez lookalike contest.

What a compelling matchup this is…in 2009! The Broncos finished 14-0 that season, the Cougars 11-2 (their lone defeats coming to Florida State and to a TCU team that also went undefeated until meeting Boise State in the BCS Outcast Bowl, a.k.a. Fiesta Bowl). These two Mountain Time Zone neighbors assiduously avoided one another for years, but last season they  finally met. Curiously, it was a low-scoring, offensively challenged 7-6 Boise State win on the Smurf Turf.


Why tune in tonight? Because it’s Chris Petersen’s 100th game as Boise State’s head coach, and if he wins his record will be 90-10. Knute Rockne has the greatest winning percentage of any FBS coach with 100 games under his belt, at .881, but Petersen of course will be better than that after tonight, win or lose.

Opposing running backs find BYU’s All-American LB “Van Noying.”

Also, tune in to see BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who may just be the premier defensive player in the country. He is also the only player we know whose name ends in “-annoy”, which we like.



IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Thursday, October 24

Starting Five

Beltran: “You want me on that wall! You NEED me on that–OUCH!”

1. World Series Game 1: Muck These Cards

I’ll just say it: World Series of Poker, thus far, featuring better Cards than the World Series of Baseball.

–The Boston Red Sox now have a nine-game World Series win streak. The Yankees won 14 consecutive Fall Classic contests beginning in 1996, then 1998, 1999 and 2000. Eat it, Beantown.

–Bottom of the first inning of the World Series, and the second base umpire misses a call that every T-ball umpire could have made from behind home plate? Really? And then the crew, which includes Jim Joyce, reverses that call? Right outcome, wrong process. And somewhere Armando Galarraga, the pitcher from whom Joyce robbed a perfect game a few years back, says, “Oh. So you CAN overturn horrible calls. Thanks. Thanks a lot.”

–And I was thinking, Peter Kozma’s error just loaded the bases with nobody out. Lucky for St. Louis that the Sawx have done nothing at Fenway with the bases juiced this October.

Nobody saw that, right?

–After Adam Wainwright’s brain fart, Cecil Hurt tweeted that “Buttermaker is going to have them do extra work on infield pop-ups.” Don’t feel bad, Adam, your error (oh, it’s a single because no fielder touched it? Okay.) only allowed the Sawx an extra batter who lined a shot to right field that may or may not have taken your best player out of the Series.

–Quickly, the St. Louis Cardinals won their first World Series in 1926, a seven-game affair against the Damned Yankees. Who made the final out and how (pipe down, Olbermann!) (answer at bottom of this item)?

–Fox’s Tim McCarver devoted a decent portion of one half inning, at a stage of the game in which the Sawx led 5-0, informing us that there is both a Texarkana, Arkansas, and a Texarkana, Texas. This is what I like to call “Texarkana arcana.”

(these lines sound fresher if you don’t follow me on Twitter, by the way)

–So Fenway Park, erected in 1912, has a Jumbotron. Notre Dame Stadium, erected in 1930, does not. By the way, the Irish have actually played a football game at Fenway (a 64-0 rout of Dartmouth on October 14, 1944; afterward Mike Lupica blamed Lou Holtz, who was then eight years old, for running up the score) . The Sox have not and will not play a game at Notre Dame Stadium.

Hornsby: “I got you, Babe.”

–Answer: Babe Ruth. The Bambino was caught stealing second base with two outs and the Yankees trailing 3-2 in Game 7. That’s fellow Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby applying the tag.

2. Grab Your Things/I’ve Come To Take You Home

Gabriel on stage in London, with the same musicians he’s played with for a quarter century.

Wistfully, I’m searching Orbitz for flights to Manchester, UK, because tomorrow marks the final night of Peter Gabriel’s current tour. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of “So”, Gabriel plays the entire album plus a few other gems (Update: Gabriel will actually play four dates in Germany next April and May; who’s with me?). Check out this set list as well as this review, from a show at the O2 Arena in London on Tuesday night.

Granted, Gabriel is 63 years old. The time to have seen the former Genesis member, the one with mischief in his eyes (and lyrics) live was 20 years ago, during the Secret World Live tour, back when he was literally bouncing with energy while performing Solsbury Hill or In Your Eyes, back when Paula Cole was singing back-up. (those two videos are worth your time).

Gabriel belongs in the same class with Tom Petty and John Mellencamp for me. Solo artists who are not QUITE Bruce Springsteen or Prince or Bob Dylan, but at the very closest rung below. Self-indulgent moment here: I’ve been lucky enough to see just about every artist I could’ve wanted to live: Springsteen, U2, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Queen, The Who, The Rolling Stones, REM, Petty, Van Halen with Diamond Dave, the Osmond Brothers (damn straight), Joe Jackson (spectacular)… but Gabriel is my white whale. I’m sure you have one, too.

It should be noted that Gabriel was one of 16 artists nominated last week for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame –to be eligible this year, one had to have recorded an album before 1988, or 25 years ago. He should be a shoo-in, as should Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt, KISS and Cat Stevens (how is the guy who gave us Teaser and the Firecat not already enshrined? Really, Jann Wenner? Really?). I know that Chuck Klostermann will lobby for KISS, his favorite band. Hall and Oates were also nominated. I can’t go for that. No can do. But Jeff Pearlman can, as he argues in an essay in the Wall Street Journal.

As for the R&R HoF, last year voting was opened to the general public. And, not surprisingly, last year Rush, a fan-fave band that had been eligible for induction since 1999, was voted in immediately. Rush’s Alex Lifeson let music snob Wenner and his RS cronies know just what he thought of them in this hilarious acceptance speech.

Let’s assume five acts are inducted this year. Who’s in?

Kurt needs another posthumous accolade like he needs a hole in–Nevermind.


1) Nirvana…No brainer

2) NWA….See “Nirvana”

3) Peter Gabriel….commercially successful, critically acclaimed. Already in as a member of Genesis.

4) Cat Stevens…for me, one of the premier singer-songwriters, if not the very best one,  from an age that was defined by singer-songwriters.

5) ???? …. The Replacements have that indie, underground, never-sold-out cred that RS editors swoon over. They’re no Stillwater. And yet, how do you ignore the impact that KISS, or Yes, had on the future of rock-and-roll? Or do you play it safe and go with Deep Purple? “Smoke on the Water” is maybe the first song that every could who got an electric guitar and an amp for Christmas in the Seventies learned. I’m going to go with The Replacements. Gabriel cancels out Yes and Wenner wants to see Gene Simmons beg, or at least suffer, a little. Hall and Oates recorded some timeless pop songs (“Sara Smile”, “She’s Gone”, “She’s A Rich Girl” and “Kiss On My List”) but oh, that hair! And “Maneater” and “Private Eyes.”


3. Democratic Party? Republican Party? No, UNDERAGE PARTY!

I bet he’s a former lacrosse player (looks it up). He is! He is a former lacrosse player (Yale). Don’t tell me I don’t know my white stereotypes.


I never saw this on The Wire. Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler stops by a house party last June at a beach in Delaware to speak with his teenage son. The scene is straight out of “Jersey Shore” but Gansler, who is running for governor, is no buzzkill. He talks to his son briefly and then leaves, doing nothing to break up the party.

“Dude, your dad’s so chill. I wish my dad was like that.”

Gansler is taking heat in the media for his (most likely well-honed) ability to look the other way, but on the bright side, he has secured the 18-and-under vote. Wait, what’s that you say?

This was a beach party in Delaware in June. Frankly, I’m surprised I don’t see Scott Van Pelt in this photo.

–Thanks to @okerland for the heads up on this.

4. Trojan War of Attrition

Three days after knocking Tommy Rees out of a game, Dawson is lost for the season.

Southern California middle linebacker Lamar Dawson, a junior, was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in practice on Tuesday. Dawson, who wears the coveted No. 55 that is only assigned to a Trojan linebacker deemed worthy of it (former wearers include Junior Seau, Willie McGinest, Chris Claiborne and Keith Rivers, knocked Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees in Saturday night’s game, which was akin to capturing your opponent’s queen in chess. The Irish did not even come close to scoring, and in fact recorded just one first down, after Rees left with 9:31 to play.

Dawson is one of a slew of players that USC, whose roster is already depleted of scholarship players due to the NCAA not treating them as if they were Miami, lost for the season this week. Freshman tailback Justin Davis underwent surgery after injuring his ankle versus the Irish, while offensive guard Jordan Simmons injured his knee. Safety Gerald Bowman and tailback D.J. Morgan are also out for the season.

Oh, and wideouts Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee, two of USC’s top three players (we see you, Hayes Pullard) sat out practice yesterday. USC still has a visit to Oregon State, plus home games versus Stanford and UCLA, on the schedule. And Saturday’s contest versus Utah, which beat the Cardinal, is no walkover. USC, now 4-3, must play over its heads just to get to 7-6 (Hawaii visit allows them a 13th game) this season.

5. The Daily Show is The Newsroom with a Shorter Time Lag


Does The Daily Show deserve a Pulitzer for journalism? Why not?

I can’t post Jon Stewart’s monologue every night, but sometimes I think I should. Here’s Stewart lambasting CNBCMaria Bartiromo, who was feted on-air, shamelessly, last week for 25 years on the network, although it has been years since either 1) she’s mattered or 2) she’s appeared objective, should be particularly embarrassed– for its kid gloves strategy with J.P. Morgan Chase poobah Jamie Dimon.

Stewart: “Only at CNBC is ‘Breaking Bad’ the story of how one man, through hard work and smart business practices, slowly insulates himself from criticism.”

I’m sure she doesn’t care, but I am embarrassed for Bartiromo after seeing this. It may be time for CNBC to gently tell her to just linger a little longer at lunch with the social X-rays at Fred’s on Madison Ave.

Two things: One, The Daily Show is afforded time to look back on current events and then twist a knife into the backs of the crooks and hypocrites who hijack justice. Isn’t Aaron Sorkin doing the same thing, albeit not as comically and with more lag time?

Second, you have to credit Stewart and his staff for never losing their fury. Stewart is a very wealthy man now, and he is part of the establishment. He gets invited to, hell, he headlines some of the very fundraisers that the potentates whom he excoriates attend and are behind. Kudos to him for never forgetting how he got where he is. Something Bartiromo certainly has.


Notre Dame will petition the NCAA to allow McDaniel to play helmet-free the remainder of the season.

With the help of astute Twitter follower Nick Chapa (@chappysnacks), I was able to link a photo of helmet-less Cam McDaniel on Tuesday but unable to post one as a pic itself. In the interim, everyone from Deadspin to CNN to USA Today to Lost Letterman to Dr. Saturday has joined the fray.

Which is fine, of course.

How did USC let this Servite alum get away again? Especially with that name?

Two things I’m curious about: How long until America discovers the Sorbo-esque hunkiness of a helmet-free Troy Niklas or the smoove John Legend-suaveness of T.J. Jones. I mean, sure, none of these guys are Zach Martin, but who is?

Jones: Shouldn’t he be playing piano somewhere?

Also, as I sat in the stands at the game with no Mike Mayock to assist me, I wondered why McDaniel did not have to sit out a play after losing his helmet. If memory serves correct, there was a timeout and then McDaniel returned for Notre Dame’s next offensive play. Are referees/umpires just taking October off?






IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Wednesday, October 23

Starting Five

“Lincecum got $35 million for two years?!? Man, I hate that jerk!”


1. Mitch Kramer Cashes In

Somewhat inexplicably, and without ever being regarded as the best team in baseball, the San Francisco Giants have won two of the past three World Series (in 2010 four teams finished with better records; in 2012 five were equal or better) . In fact, their record in World Series games this millennium is 8-1. Prit-tee, prit-tee good.

In the 2010 World Series, Tim Lincecum, alias “The Freak”, alias “This Guy’s 5-11, 170 Pounds, So How Come We Can’t Pitch Like That?”, went 2-0 as a starter. In the 2012 Fall Classic Lincecum, pitching exclusively in middle relief, threw 4.2 innings of no-hit ball, striking out eight of the 15 batters he faced and walking one. Again, prit-tee, prit-tee good.

Lincecum in no way resembles the same pitcher who won back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009, last July’s no-hitter notwithstanding. He is, however, a beloved figure in the Bay Area and the face of the Giants’ pair of championships.

Kanye’s proposal to Kim came not out of left field, but in fact, center.

So while it is true that his ERA was an abominable 5.18 in 2012 and a pedestrian, at best, 4.37 last season, it is not inexplicable that the Giants would sign him to a two-year, $35 million contract yesterday. Hey, it’s smarter than what the Tigers did with Justin Verlander a year ago (eight years?!?) and Lincecum is still only a seven-year veteran.

Oddly enough, The Freak is taking a pay cut. He earned $22.25 million last season.

“I may or may not play ball next season. Right now we’re off to buy Aerosmith tickets. Top priority of the winter.”

So, if you think this deal is bizarre or exorbitant or inexplicable, well, okay. But in terms of unnecessarily extravagant displays of affection this week at AT&T Park, it still finishes second to that whole Kanye-Kim proposal stunt.

2. San Jose Sharknados

Nieto is one skater who traces his history to south, as opposed to north, of the border.

It isn’t even Halloween yet, which means Barry Melrose probably has yet to be released from his crypt, so why am I mentioning hockey? After all, didn’t the NHL wait until after Christmas to start its season last year and did anyone really have that much of a problem with that? Consider this a slight nudge that the San Jose Sharks, the Real Deal of Teal Seal Killers, are the league’s last unbeaten squad at 8-0-1.

The Sharks had been averaging 4.9 goals per game, a full goal better than the next best NHL squad, until Monday night’s 1-0 shootout win in Detroit. One Shark to keep an eye on: rookie left wing Matthew Nieto, a Boston University product who, while a typical Californian, does not fit the standard NHL profile: Nieto was born and raised in Long Beach, Calif., and he is Mexican-American.

3. Is Netflix a House of Cards?

“Honey, please tell me you sold our stock before Mr. Icahn sent that tweet.”

That ol’ wily billionaire Carl Icahn is at it again.

Yesterday Netflix (NFLX) , a company whose stock price in just the past year had soared from about $58 a share to nearly$350 per share, opened up at nearly $390 per share. That’s when Icahn, who had bought a 10% stake in the company last November when it was trading at $60 per, tweeted, “Sold block of NFLX today: Wish to thank Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos, NFLX team and last but not least, Kevin Spacey.”

After Icahn’s tweet, shares of NFLX plummeted more than $60 per share, or more than 15%. It is currently trading at $324. The best metric of a stock’s value –says this sportswriter who never took a finance class so why listen to him?– is P/E ratio, and NFLX has 276 times earnings. Apple (AAPL), by comparison, trades at a sane, some would say ridiculously cheap, 13 times earnings.

Which is just another way of saying that, as a stock, NFLX itself is a House of Cards. Something that Mr. Icahn exposed yesterday, while walking away himself with a reported $800 million profit.

4. “I Can Call You Betty/And Betty When You Call Me/You Can Call Me Al”

Arizona State, where “dark and stormy” always refers to a cocktail, not a forecast.

A man walks down the street,

He says, “Why am I wearing a Sparky mask?”

Why am I wearing  a mask at all?

When my actual face is well-known?

I’m a middle-aged black dude,

Entering a girls dorm unannounced,

In the state of Arizona, where you can

Get shot for less.”

So America’s weatherman, Al Roker, invades Taylor Place dorm at Arizona State’s downtown Phoenix campus yesterday morning as a promotional stunt for the Today Show. Yes, the young ladies are ardent fans of Today, but maybe Al and the Today producers read that recent issue of Playboy that ranks ASU as the No. 9 party school in the nation (and Doug Tammaro thinks the Sun Devil football team is underrated!).

5. The Big Eight


Grambling facilities: Where’s Phil Knight when you need him?

A few words about college football this week….Miami: I don’t care. I don’t care about show-cause, or NCAA sanctions. Good for Miami. Bad, again, for USC. I think we’ve read this story before. Grambling: Remember that scene in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, when Caesar bellows, “NO!” It’s significant not only because Caesar stands up for himself, but also because we learn that he has a voice. Tidal shift. That’s the Grambling situation. We learned that college football players have a voice. As I’ve said numerous times, if college football players really want to effect change, go on strike. Which is what Grambling’s player did, at least for one Saturday. The only thing separating Grambling from their FBS brethren is what they were unwilling to put up with. Your move, well-taken-care-of SEC players.

1. Florida State (6-0)

Why? Because this late into the season, I’m going to subscribe to the “Scoring Defense rank + Scoring Offense rank Sum That Is The Lowest Number” theory, and the Seminoles’ 3+3=6 sum is exactly that. Also, Jameis Winston may be the most dynamic quarterback on an undefeated team. May be.

Next up: North Carolina State.

2. Alabama (7-0)

The Crimson Tide surrendered 21 points in the fourth quarter in College Station. They’ve allowed a grand total of 16 in the five games since (yes, Johnny Manziel is that dynamic). And, according to Wes Rucker, only once in the past three games has an opponent even advanced to the red zone. Bama is going to miss safety Vinnie Sunseri, who will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury.

Next up: Tennessee

3. Oregon (7-0)

The Ducks are averaging 60.5 points per game in four contests at Autzen Stadium, where they host the No. 12 Bruins on Saturday. Most schools never score 60 points in a game all season long.

Next up: No. 12 UCLA

4. Ohio State (6-0)

Do I think the Buckeyes will wind up in Pasadena? Yes. But they’ll be playing on January 1, not January 6.

Next up: Penn State

5. Missouri (6-0)

A month ago, they probably were considered the 4th-best “Tigers” in the country. Now they’re the fifth-best team? Until someone proves otherwise, yes.

Next up: No. 21 South Carolina.

Dorial Green-Beckham: The nation’s most coveted recruit two years ago has 30 receptions for Mizzou this season.

6. Baylor (6-0)

Are the Bears, who lead the nation in scoring (64.7 ppg) and are 7th in points against, really that good? We wont’ find out until November when they face three teams that are currently in the Top 25.

Next up: at Kansas

7. Auburn (6-1)

The state of Alabama is 2-0 versus Johnny Football this season.

Up next: Florida Atlantic

8. Stanford (6-1)

Trailing by six with one minute to play at Utah, the Cardinal had 3rd-and-2 from the Ute 6. They threw twice, both incomplete. David Shaw would love to have those plays back.

Up next: at No. 25 Oregon State

Remote Patrol

World Series, Game 1

St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox

FOX 8 p.m.

Coming up next on Saturday Night Live: Boston Red Sox or Ice Road Trucker?


Red Beards versus Red Birds. St. Louis’ clean-up hitter Allen Craig, who batted an MLB-best .454 with RISP but who has been out since September 4 (sprained foot), returns. I’m always wary of a man who has a game-show host name.