Nov. 4—Fab 4 picks
No jazzy intro. No fancy words. No snazzy dialogue.
We need winners.
Nominations for the Rushmore of movie quotes about winners/winning:
"Bull Durham," right before Nuke asks Crash to teach him something and they work on their clichés and he says, "I love winning. I mean I (bleeping) love winning. It's better than losing."
Adrian in "Rocky II," "Win."
Jake Taylor in "Major League," "There's only one thing left to do. Win the whole (bleeping) thing."
And of course, Judge Elihu Smails as he's christening the Flying Wasp: "It's easy to grin win your ship comes in and you got the stock market beat; but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile when his shorts are too tight in the seat. Go ahead Pookie."
Whatcha got? Here's what I got as a look for a part-time job to cover my out-of-pocket bet with a reader about my picks getting back to Mendoza. (Side question: Can we expense that $100? Asking for a friend.)
Georgia minus-24 in the first half over Missouri. I originally thought Georgia minus-whatever but the number is at 38.5. (If pressed I'd lay that too because I'm not sure they can set this one high enough.) Georgia has been impressive in every way, including in the eyes of entertainment hunters, as the Bulldogs are 6-2 against the number in their eight games, and those two ATS losses were a back-door fourth-quarter TD from South Carolina to cover 31 in a 40-13 win and a last-second UK TD to cover 22.5 in a 30-13 win. Yes, 38 is a truckload of points. But when this one is 42-0 at halftime, you can dabble after the beak.
Tennessee pick 'em over UK. Sorry Chas, but this really feels like two teams headed in opposite directions. Yes, I think Mark Stoops will have his team energized after that dreadful performance last week in Starkville. And being back in Lexington helps. But with a lack of reliable options on the perimeter, UK feels limited against SEC-caliber front sevens. his game will, simply put, be the litmus test in a month for the tastes in the mouths of each fan base.
Arkansas-Mississippi State over 56. Cue Clubber Lang with a paraphrasing, "Prediction? Points."
Ole Miss minus-9 over Liberty over 67. OK, go ahead and raise your hand if you had two of the top-five QB prospects in next spring's draft — I love the draft, you know this — in the Liberty at Ole Miss game. I'll wait. Hugh Freeze comes back to town, too. This is a stage that a) Lane KIffin is well aware of the import, and b) Freeze will assuredly relish.
Alabama minus-17 in the first half over LSU. Another example that I'd lay the whole enchilada if pressed, but 28.5 is a lot to ever give LSU. Ever. Even if they are in the NFC Wildcard game. But this is not your traditional LSU. And this is an Alabama bunch that a) slept-walked through the first half of Tennessee, a fact that Saban has assuredly reminded them of for the last two weeks, and b) crushes teams that Saban will battle with on the recruiting trail.
Last week 2-4 against the spread (33.3%)
This season: 30-34 against the spread (46.9%)
World Series wrap
Hat tip to friend of the show and former TFP sports department ace Jim Tanner, who rightly put on social media last night, echoing a sentiment of a very grateful Braves nation: "Something that I wouldn't normally say, but I'm very glad to say it today: "I'm sure glad there isn't a @Braves game tonight."
Of course that would have meant a Game 7. Not sure I could have taken the stress. I am certain I could not have taken another super-late, sleep-deprived night.
And those late nights — and the extended game times along with them — made it tough for me, and goodness knows how many others.
With that, a review of the TV numbers seems pertinent.
But before we get there, the love the Braves' win has generated has been cool. Which begs this question: Which is stronger, your team winning it all or your team gagging in the big moment? Vader has comparisons. For me 2010 was a stronger sense of joy than 2013 was a sense of heartbreak.
As for the TV numbers, it was the second-lowest watched World Series ever, besting only last year's bubble-affair because of COVID.
This Series was down 20% in ratings and 16% in viewers from the 2019 Series when the Astros lost to the Nationals.
The Braves' victory in six games averaged a 6.5 rating and 11.75 million viewers.
Good political stuff going back and forth, and I'll be back in the saddle today. Giddy-up.
Two of the interesting NFL storylines circling right now are not highlights by any measure. (And they have nothing to do with the dreck-tasic Colts-Jets Thursday night tickle fight. Side note: The Thursday night game has gone under every time since Week 3. The total is 45.5. Yes, please on an under in which the Jets QB play is somewhere on the scale of unknown this side of a tree falling in the forest and right next to what's on the other side of a black hole.)
First, I'm disappointed in Aaron Rodgers. He's easily my favorite player over the last 15 years, and I will contend that he is right there with Dan Marino in the best to ever throw a football. But side-stepping the vaccine procedure — and some could say he's been lying about it — is disappointing.
Me, I'm cautious of the government mandates. Yes, I know we have through our history been regular recipients of government-mandated vaccines, and that's fine. But there was far more trust in the government in those days, and if folks are uneasy about a duplicitous collection of leaders — on each side — and viewpoints and data that have been spun more than the cotton Betsy Ross used to make ol' Glory, I get that.
Caveat: The three eligible immediate 5-at-10ers are vaccinated. Our 11-year-old will be in line next week when it is available. I believe in it. But my beliefs do not have to be yours or hers or his.
And while we're here, I do believe that business and organizations can set their terms, and if the employees do not want to follow along, then fine. Find somewhere else to work. Especially in an industry like the NFL, which a) is super high profile, b) operates on a very strict schedule, and would lose tens and maybe even hundreds of millions if one COVID outbreak caused a team to forfeit multiple games, and c) has a players union that negotiates the terms of employment.
And Rodgers purposefully played a verbal shell game when asked about being vaccinated before the season, saying he had been immunized, whatever that is. His personal doctor apparently tried to raise his antibodies, and Rodgers knew that this was controversial enough to petition the league and the players union for an exemption to use this kind of treatment.
It was denied. The league is looking into whether (and ultimately how many) protocols the Packers and Rodgers violated since he is unvaccinated.
Personal thought: What a ridiculous lack of leadership from a guy who I thought was among the best leaders and teammates in the league. Yeah, there are a lot of folks who think he's a jerk, but a lot of the all-time elites — Brady, MJ, Bonds, et al. — have been prickly even on a good day. Again, this thing has become politicized in more ways than tax increases and welfare, but here's a simple question: If Rodgers believed in something that strongly — to risk the health of those around him and his availability to his teammates for 10 critical days — then why not be honest about it on the front end?
He tried to have it both ways and it will forever change the way a lot of people look at his career and team-first rhetoric.
The second NFL sad line involves Henry Ruggs. As you guys noted, egad, 156 mph in anything this side of the Richard Petty experience is playing Russian roulette with four bullets instead of one.
I thought Ruggs' former coach, Alabama's Nick Saban, said it best when he rightly noted that he was praying for all the families involved, especially the woman killed by Ruggs in the DUI-related accident.
I also said a prayer of thanks for my previous transgressions. Because as much as a lot of say a 'Hallelujah' about not being a teenager with the watchful — and forever record — that is social media, I know there were far too many times in my younger days that I should have called a cab or my parents or a friend or walked or just about anything other than get behind the wheel of a car.
We all know the victim here, and it is not Ruggs. But he's far from the only person to make the original mistake of getting behind the wheel impaired.
His ending — she's dead and he'll reportedly serve somewhere between 2 and 20 years in prison — is yet another forever reminder of how dangerous that choice can be. And how lucky so many of us are that we did not find a similar conclusion.
This and that
— One more fringe World Series item. Jim McIngvale — aka Mattress Mack — owns a chain of regional mattress stores across the midwest. He has reached some level of renown by wagering huge sums of money, normally on big events and very regularly on his hometown Houston teams. He stood to win more than $35 million in bets if the Astros had won the Series, including a $2 million bet that would have paid him a record windfall of more than $22 million. But, according to this story, Mattress Mack is not a gambler. He's a hedge-funder, but not in the Wall Street way. Mattress Mack offers a promotion through his chain stores — he pledged to give every customer who bought a mattress up to $3,000 back if the Astros won the series. His stores sold more than $20 million in mattresses during that promotion. If his bet had hit, he would have pocketed around $15 million after all the refunds. With the loss, he made roughly $8 million in profit — counting margin costs and lost wagers — from the promotion, and that's not counting all the free promotion he generates. That's not betting on the games, friends. That's playing the game at a maestro level.
— Getting down to the nitty gritty in the voting. The semifinals had Neyland vs. Samford (I voted for Samford, sorry Johnny Vols Fans) and The Big House in Ann Arbor vs. Tiger Stadium in Red Stick, and that's a no-brianer for me. The finals should be up later this morning on this week's 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge. Go here to pick your favorite college football stadium environment.
— You know the rules. Here's Paschall's picks for the week, and his column is topped with a fitting reaction to Georgia honoring former coach Mark Richt at halftime Saturday in what will be a tail-beating over Missouri.
— Allergy alert: Caution this clip may make it dusty where you are. This TikTok video went viral as a dad walking his daughter down the aisle stopped midway and pulled the girl's stepfather out of his pew to join them. "Life is easier without all the drama," the father said.
— Giants catcher Buster Posey is reportedly going to retire today. Buster Posey, Hall of Famer? Discuss.
— A must read for any fan of "The Sopranos" from The Hollywood Reporter.
Gang, you guys were aces yesterday. Sorry I was MIA. Had a lot of youth basketball stuff to work through. So it goes. And yes, the 4/5 grade Nolan girls' hoopsters have been assembled. We'll have fun. They will learn a bunch about the game. Their coach is pledging not to get a technical. (I'd say those odds are 1-in-4 in favor of not getting T-ed up, unless Joe Don is on the whistle, but wager at your own risk Mattress Mack.)
We have one Rushmore at the top. It could be the best part of our picks, the way our picks have been picking.
Remember the mailbag and to vote on the Bracket Challenge.
As for today, Nov. 4, let's review.
The first Harry Potter movie was released on this day 20 years ago. Yeah, that'll make feel old.
Matthew McConaughey is 52 today.
Will Rogers would have been 142 today. Rushmore of most quotable famous Americans.