Welcome to another week of Sports Take goodness. There's a ton to get to today including some thoughts about what transpired over the weekend, the Week 5 Post-Mortem on my college football picks, and this week's version of the Sports Take Mailbag. So let's rock...
"Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine."
- Sir Arthur Eddington (1882 - 1944), English astrophysicist
I think you could replace "the universe" with "baseball" and you'd be just as correct.
Which leads me to some thoughts from this weekend:
Twins/White Sox: Well, it could've been worse I guess. It's tough to think that had the Twins stepped up and won even one of the first two games against Kansas City, they'd be in the playoffs now instead of waiting for this game in Chicago to start (it's currently in a rain delay as I write this - joy).
But the bottom line is that the Twins had to at least match the White Sox to make sure they'd be no worse off than having to go to Chicago on Tuesday for a play-in game, and they did exactly that.
Kudos to Cleveland for helping the Twins out by the way. I still wish they'd helped by not sweeping the Twins a week or so ago, but that's water under the bridge at this point.
So it's come down to this. Chicago hosts the Detroit Tigers this afternoon (weather permitting) to make up a previously rained-out game. If Chicago wins, then the White Sox and the Twins will play a play-in game on Tuesday with the winner travelling to Tampa to start an ALDS series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. If Detroit wins, the Twins are automatically in and will wing their way to Tampa tout de'suite!
So if you're reading this Monday afternoon, turn on ESPN2 and root, root, root for the Detroit Tigers!
Brewers/Mets: Crew fans, you did it. I'll admit to doubting. I'll admit to not rooting for you after dumping your skipper with 12 games left. But ultimately, your club proved me wrong and on the strength of CC Sabathia's mighty pitching arm, the Brewers are in the playoffs. They start a NLDS series against the Phillies Wednesday.
As for the Mets? Oof. Not so much. Another year. Another lead with 17 games to go. Another collapse. It wasn't quite as catastrophic this year, but it still had to be terribly disappointing given the additions they made in the off-season. Perhaps a full year of Jerry Manuel's managing efforts will make a difference. Perhaps.
Wisconsin Badgers: I can't talk about this. The wounds are still too raw. More to come on Friday.
It's time now for the Week 5 Post-Mortem on my college football picks!
Minnesota +18 @ Ohio State: Final Score - OSU 34, Minnesota 21
Well, I covered, so I should be happy. But the game didn't go at all like I thought it would. Don't get me wrong, Ohio State was far from dominant. But they made plays when the Gophers gave them opportunities. And frankly, the Gophers scored a couple of touchdowns in garbage time when the result had already been decided.
What Dan Learned: The Ohio State defense is better than I thought. Actually, they're as good as I thought they should be at the beginning of the year. They've rebounded nicely from some sub-par efforts early in the year. On offense, Terelle Pryor still has learning to do, but man is he going to be special in a year or two. And I'm still not sure Chris "Beanie" Wells is back all the way, but he certainly changes the way you defend the Buckeye offense with his presence alone.
So I was a tepid 1-0... but hey, that's still 1-0!
Ball State -18 vs. Kent State: Final Score - BSU 41, KSU 20
The Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week came through. Thanks go to ST reader Scott in Eau Claire who suggested this pick in the first place. If you missed his reasoning on Thursday, you can read it here.
Stanford +3.5 @ Washington: Final Score - Stanford 35, Washington 24
I thought the Cardinal would win this one outright, and they did. Getting the points was nice, but I'd probably have picked Stanford if they were giving 3.5 in this game. Washington's just that bad.
And now this thing's likely to snowball. I feel bad for Washington head coach Ty Willingham. I think he's a good man. But Washington's a proud program with a strong history. And I doubt their boosters are going to put up with this for much longer. It's sad.
What Dan Learned: Not much. This one went exactly how I thought. That's not cocky is it? Nah.
So another 3-1 week in the picks department. This is getting downright encouraging! 3-1 this week moves me to 12-8 (.600) on the year. All we do here at The Sports Take is make the people money! (On college football picks, this year, and this year alone.)
Finally today it's this week's edition of The Sports Take Mailbag. This week's question comes to us from ST reader Craig in Burnsville:
With the rumors of Lane Kiffin getting fired by Al Davis very soon, at what point does he start acting like George Costanza when he wanted to get fired by the Yankees so he could go to the Mets. I mean if you were Kiffin and knew that Al Davis wants you to resign so he didn't have to pay you, wouldn't you push the envelope as far as possible forcing him to pull the trigger. These are the kinds of thoughts that keep me up at night.
Good question Craig.
First of all, for those of you unfamiliar with the Seinfeld reference, I'll give you a quick recap. During an episode where George was working for the Yankees, he was approached by the Mets to be their Director of Scouting. But in order for the Mets to actually offer him the position, he needed to get fired by the Yankees, otherwise it constituted tampering. The gag was that no matter how hard George tried to get fired he couldn't. Viva la Steinbrenner!
Back to the matter at hand.
Lane Kiffin is the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. This past off-season it was leaked to the media that owner Al Davis wanted to make a coaching change, so he asked for Kiffin's resignation. Kiffin refused. Usually, this would lead to a firing. But because Davis would be on the hook for the rest of Kiffin's contract if he fired his coach, Davis refused to fire him. In the meantime, Kiffin wanted to make a change at defensive coordinator, but Davis refused to make that change as well.
So now you have an owner that doesn't want his head coach, a head coach who doesn't his defensive coordinator, and a defensive coordinator with a severe confidence problem. Sounds fun doesn't it?
I'm all for Craig's suggestion. If I were Kiffin I'd start doing crazy stuff, just to get Davis to fire me so I could get paid and get the hell out of that insane asylum.
It could be as simple as play-calling: "And the Raiders line up in the Wishbone?!"
Or it could be a wardrobe issue: "Is Lane Kiffin wearing a headband with 'Davis' written on it?!"
Or he could be the first coach in NFL history to be completely honest in a post-game press conference: "We suck. We're a terrible football team and we're not going to get any better while I'm around. I should be fired. Really. I should."
Kiffin won't be the first coach to be fired this season, St. Louis' Scott Linehan earned that honor today. But I think Lane isn't going to be far behind him. Just win baby!
That's all for today folks. It's now 2:30pm central as I write this, and the Chicago/Detroit game is still in a rain delay. Oof. The game has to be played though, so stay tuned. They'll get to it eventually! I'll be back Wednesday with the final Peek at the Picks segment for this baseball season and the official Sports Take Baseball Playoff Preview! Until then, thanks for reading!
Manny – NL MVP…no player has had a bigger impact on his team than he has in the second half except for maybe…
Sabathia – NL Cy Young…he has been dominant!!!
And this one might be a stretch…but it could be argued…
Teixeira – AL MVP…they were pretty good before he got there…but he has been a force in that line up since he got there.