by John Walters
1.Fail To The Victors
Two tales of failed fourth downs in the Midwest this weekend and lets begin in Ann Arbor, where a storybook autumn for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines ended in the worst way possible. You already know the details and have seen the play, so allow me simply to add this: Not only did Michigan State put 11 men on the line, but they absolutely failed to put a man head-to-head against the Wolverine end who was split out to the left (nearer to the MSU sideline).
Not that Blake O’Neill would have eschewed punting the ball to simply throw a ball up toward the left side for a first down, but kudos to Sparty for recognizing that UM was less likely to notice it or alter the plan since he was on the far hashmark — away from UM’s sideline.
Also, remember that MSU only trailed by 2. Once Jalen Watts-Jackson fielded that ball — it flew directly into his arms — he was golden as long as got inside the 20 and was tackled before time ran out. As you may known, JWJ suffered a dislocated hip when his teammates piled atop him in the end zone, which crosses from football into the realm of epic poetry. He’s out at least for the season and, who knows, maybe forever. Still, he has won immortality, which may eventually seem like a fair exchange.
Finally, kudos to ESPN’s Sean McDonough (and in all likelihood, to his spotter) for recognizing the MSU player (Watts-Jackson) who had the ball as the play was taking place. That’s some quick spotting and processing there. It’s also fun to hear McDonough’s voice crack, no?
2. Defeat Formation
“What in the world?” — Al Michaels, NBC
I’m trying to give Indianapolis Colt coach Chuck Pagano the benefit of the doubt here. As you know — or can tell from the photo — Indy is facing fourth and 3 from its own 37. The score, as you see, is 27-21 late in the 3rd quarter.
Now, here’s what I DO understand: Griff Whalen, the center on this play, is ordinarily a wide receiver. And, because no one is lined up to his left, Whalen is actually the split end on this same play, so he is an eligible receiver (one of the wonderful quirks of football that I hope they never “fix”).
And here’s what I DON’T understand: Given that the only two conceivable chances of this play working is if 1) the Pats jump offsides or 2) Whalen runs a route and the Pats do not think about covering him, there’s little chance that his play will work if the quarterback is not in a shotgun formation. So why is that?
Meanwhile, how about this PAT block by a Pat, Jamie Collins, after Indy scored a late TD to make it 34-27? I can’t recall ever seeing someone do this before.
Two more things: 1) Be careful when you try to outsmart the smartest guy in the room. New England’s players, to their credit, did not panic. They lined up properly and had three players near Whalen and the QB. 2) What the hell is the punter doing here? He’s line up 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage and at least that far laterally to the football. What is his purpose?
3. Deja Vu at SNL
— Former Saturday Night Live writer (Check)
–Goes on to greater fame and greater fortune writing and starring in his/her own sitcom (Check)
–Returns to SNL as a presidential candidate (Check).
Yes, Larry David as Bernie Sanders is the new Tina Fey (as Sarah Palin). Unlike Fey, David never achieved any success while at SNL — he quit after one of his sketches was scrapped at the last minute, then told his neighbor, Kenny Kramer, who told him to return to the office on Monday and act as if it had never happened; as you know, that entire anecdote played out later on Seinfeld.
Imagine the vindication David must have felt being able to not only star in the show’s cold open, but also to be given the chance to proclaim, “LIVE FROM NEW YORK….IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!”
The best part about this is how inseparable David and Sanders are from one another, both physically and metaphysically. I can totally see Bernie Sanders welcoming the Blacks into his home.
What next? As long as Sanders remains in the race, why wouldn’t Lorne Michaels beg David to reprise this role on occasion? And what else is Larry doing right now other than attempting to shoot par?
4. “Character Takes Many Shapes”
The man in the No. 2 jersey is TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, who may or may not win the Heisman Trophy this season, and who may or may not lead the Horned Frogs to the national championship. Both goals are definitely within his grasp.
The girl, I don’t know her name or her circumstances, but she is definitely rooting for Iowa State, which is where Saturday’s game was played. I believe it was Matt Shoultz, the Cyclones’ assistant athletic director of communications, who took this shot and posted it on Twitter.
Judging from the light in the background, this encounter took place during pre-game warmups. That any player from the visiting team took time to notice a wheelchair-bound girl during warm-ups is cool. That it was the best player on either side is tremendous. And I don’t know if someone asked Boykin to speak to her or not, but he did. Great moment, and the kind of photo you used to see in Life magazine.
TCU won, 45-21.
5. The Nature of Wealth
Yesterday’s thought: Wealth is a function of how well you spend your time, not your money.
I like that one so much I’m going to ask if there are any objections to making this Rule No. 5. No? Okay, the motion is passed.
The postulate: Yes, it certainly is easier to spend your time better if you have more money with which to spend it, but far too many of us wind up chasing the means as opposed to the end.
Which brings us to this Q&A moment with billionaire Warren Buffett, which is worth reading:
Now, you may say, “But J.W., why is Warren Buffett, who is worth about $67 BILLION, still paying so much attention to acquiring wealth at the age of 85 while still living in a modest house in Omaha?” And my answer to that is, “Go ask your mother,” i.e., I haven’t the foggiest.
When You Close Your Eyes
Thanks to radio — and the drug-buy scene from Boogie Nights — “Sister Christian” became Night Ranger’s biggest hit. And rightfully so. But I always loved the third single off their 1983 album “Midnight Madness” (Did the NCAA hoops term pre-date the album? I don’t think so), after SC and “You Can Still Rock in America.” This tune hit No. 14 in 1984.
ALCS Game 3: Royals at Blue Jays
FS1 8 p.m.
Good news for Blue Jays fans: Today is Joey Bats’s 35th birthday. Bad news: Harold Reynolds is still calling their games.