Article Lineup
Did You Notice? NCAA Football Sept. 24-26
Saints-Packers Payton Just Had to Get Cute
LSU-Mississippi State Surveying the Carnage
LSU Prediction for 2020 Good but not great
Baseball Short Story The Greatest Cardinal of Them All
Football Short Story AFL Tales: 1 - The First Game
Basketball Short Story Survive and Advance - 5
Did You Notice? NFL Week 2
Disappointing Night in Vegas Saints Game 2 Comments
Memorable Baseball Game 9/16/30 - Cardinals @ Dodgers
LSU Short Story A Running Back Like No Other
Cardinals Clubhouse: Post-Season Play - 1930
LSU Baseball: First NCAA Tournament Appearance
Baseball Odd Facts: Batters with Three Hits in Inning
Bits of Baseball Lore: Rules Can Be Cruel
How Would You Rule? - Runner and pitch arrive home
at same time
Baseball Quiz
- Order in which teams entered MLB
Short Story - Welcome to the Bigs!
Did You Notice? NCAA Week 4
  • Upsets and Near Upsets
    Preseason rankings and point spreads mean little this year.
    #3 Oklahoma lost at home to Kansas State after giving up 24 straight points to the Wildcats in the final 20 minutes. K-State was missing eight players because of COVID-19 and had lost to Arkansas State in its season opener.
    #6 LSU, of course, also lost at home, 44-34 to Mississippi State.
    #8 Texas had to score 15 points in the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime and eventually defeat Texas Tech.
    #4 Georgia was trailing 7-5 at halftime to an Arkansas team that was a four-touchdown underdog before winning 37-10. Coach Kirby Smart made a QB change at halftime, benching D'Wan Mathis in favor of Stetson Bennett. Bennett started the summer as UGa's #4 QB behind Jamie Newman, a Wake Forest transfer, J.T. Daniels, and Mathis. But Newman opted out, and USC transfer Daniels was not medically cleared to play.
    Strangely enough, the Vanderbilt-Texas A&M game had the same 7-5 score at halftime with the home team (A&M) leading. The #10 Aggies held on for a 17-12 victory. Is Jimbo Fisher's squad not as good as advertised or were they keeping things simple to not tip their hand before invading Alabama this week?
    A week after needing overtime to defeat Georgia State, #19 Louisiana-Lafayette kicked a 53y field goal on the last play to edge visiting Georgia Southern 20-18.
  • Hokies Overcome Adversity
    Virginia Tech was down 23 playes because of injuries, positive virus tests, and contact tracing. But the Hokies still dispatched North Carolina State 45-24. Without starting QB Hendon Hooker, Tech ran the ball 41 times for 314y while passing onlly 17 times for 181y.
  • Most Surprising Team
    UTEP had gone 2-34 over the last three seasons, but the Miners improved to 3-1 with a 31-6 win at Louisiana-Monroe.
  • Kansas Has Miles To Go To Be Competitive
    Les Miles's Jayhawks were belted by Baylor 47-14 to go to 0-2, the other loss being to Coastal Carolina of the Sun Belt Conference. Kansas has now gone nine straight years without starting 2-0. Going back to last season, the Jayhawks have lost six straight games - all by double-digits, and are 1-10 since beating Boston College in mid-September of 2019.
Interesting Numbers from Week 4
5 Games scheduled by Houston for the month of September that were canceled either because of conferences shutting down or postponing their seasons or because of a COVID outbreak at the opponent's facility.
18 Positive COVID-19 tests reported by Notre Dame September 25 with 7 additional playes in isolation and 14 others in quarantine
3 Times the ULL Ragin' Cajuns have rallied from behind to win in their three games this season.
569 Passing yardage by ULL's QB Levi Lewis in the last two games.
1937 Last time Auburn and Georgia met in October before this season
7 Turnovers by Duke in the 38-20 loss to Virginia
430 Rushing yards by Tulane in the 66-24 rout of Southern Mississippi
2010 Last season UTEP started 3-1 before this year
544 Yards passing by Georgia's Eric Zeier against USM in 1993 to set the SEC record that Mississippi State's K.J. Costello broke against LSU
Saints-Packers: Payton Just Had to Get Cute
The Saints tied the game at 27 near the end of Q3 on Lutz's FG. Then Green Bay got a first down at their 39. Four plays later, they went for it with 1y to go and were stuffed.
So the Saints took over at the GB 48 with a good chance to take the lead. Drew Brees hit Latavious Murray on a pass up the middle for 7y to the 41. That's when Sean Payton decided to get cute and have Taysom Hill play QB. I yelled at the TV: Why are you taking Brees out? Strike now while we've got the momentum.
We know what happened next. No gain or a short gain would have been bad enough, but Hill fumbled and the Packers recovered. They drove 26y to setup a go-ahead field goal. Then they forced a 3-and-out and drove 64y for a TD to clinch the game.
The Saints took a FG with 1:28 to play in hopes of recovering the onside kick and throwing a Hail Mary, but onside kicks are very hard to recover with the new rules unless you're doing it against the Falcons.
Bottom line: Payton's decision to let Hill take a snap turned the game around. Taysom looked disconsolate on the bench after the fumble, and I feel sorry for him. But he should not have been put in that position. With the game on the line, you go with your Hall of Fame QB, just as Green Bay did.

When I learned Saturday morning that All-American CB Darryl Stingley would not play, I got very worried. The player we could least afford to lose as we took on Mike Leach's Air Raid offense from Mississippi State was Stingley.
His absence is immeasurable, but it's safe to say MSU's Joe Burrow, senior transfer K. J. Costello from Stanford, would not have set an SEC record with 623y passing. Maybe 400, but not 600.
I have numerous additional comments on the game.

  • With only about 22,000 fans in the stands, LSU's home field advantage, like the Saints', was erased.
  • Before we demand that new D-coordinator Bo Pelini be fired, let's recall that COVID-19 wiped out spring practice and spring games. So LSU not only lost valuable time to learn Pelini's defense, they had no video on the Leach/Costello offense. Presumably, Bo and his staff watched video of Leach's games at Washington State last year and Costello's at Stanford. But that can take you only so far.
  • Staying with the defense, a big chunk of Costello's record yardage came after the catch. The 2020 LSU defense is not as fast as last year's and the tackling was poor.
  • Turning to the offense, Myles Brennan threw for 345y and three TDs. But he had 19 incompletions and 2 INTs for a QBR of 32.2 (vs Costello's 83.1). We were spoiled by Joe who hit receivers in stride, thus producing more YAC (Yards after Catch). On a number of completions, the receiver had to turn or wait for the ball, enabling the defense to close faster. Hopefully, Myles will improve on that with experience.
  • Myles often double-clutched, which may be a sign that he was afraid of making mistakes. He should improve on that game by game. It takes time to develop the recognition and decisiveness that Burrow displayed last year.
  • It also must be said that LSU's O-line, like every other unit on the team, is not as good as last year. So Myles was sacked seven times, some of which he might have avoided if he had delivered the ball sooner or thrown it away if no one was covered.
  • A big play in the game came in Q3 with MSU leading 27-24. Terrace Marshall, who continues to have dropsy problems, executed a beautiful stop and go. But as Brennan threw to him for an easy TD, a defender grazed Brennan's elbow, causing the ball to fall far short into the hands of a Bulldog. State then drove for a TD and a 10-point lead. So that defensive play made a 14-point difference.
  • In addition to losing Stingley, LSU got another bad break on the fumble/incomplete pass by Costello in Q4. LSU had just scored 10 in a row to tie the game at 34. Shuffling to his right to avoid the rush, Costello started to throw the ball but seemed to hesitate halfway through his motion as if he changed his mind. He dropped the ball, and Jeremy Stevens recovered. But the rules say that as soon as his arm comes forward, he is in a passing motion and it's an incompletion, not a fumble. So the chance to continue the momentum and take the lead was aborted.
  • The good news is that several newcomers had outstanding games for the Tigers. Transfer DE Ali Gaye had a sack to two tackles for loss despite being blatantly held (horse-collared) by the MSU tackle multiple times. OLB Jabril Cox, a transfer from North Dakota State. He had four solo tackles, two assists, and a pick six.
  • We can't put the game in perspective because it takes many weeks to create a perspective. We'll see how Costello fares in the weeks ahead, but he may turn out to be the best QB the Tigers will face all season.
LSU Prediction for 2020
With the SEC finally starting Saturday, I'm taking college football much more seriously. So here's my annual LSU prediction.


I figure LSU will lose @Florida (Oct. 17), @Auburn (Oct. 31), and to Alabama at home (Nov. 14).
I'm putting my money (figuratively) on Alabama to regain the SEC Championship. Not only did the Tide not win the SEC and not make the College Football Playoff last year - which is motivation enough for Saban to crack the whip on his team - but he will be a rock of consistency in an uncertain season with numerous moving parts.
I think Myles Brennan will do well at QB. No one can fill Joe Burrow's shoes, but in his fourth year at LSU, Myles is ready to excel. But the loss of receivers Justin Jefferson and JaMarr Chase, RB Clyde Edwards-Hellaire, as well as key men on the O-line is just too much to overcome.
The same is true on defense - too many holes to fill.
A final, sad prediction: The chance of all 14 SEC teams playing all ten of their scheduled games is zero. Some postponed games will be rescheduled for the open date of December 12 before the championship game on the 19th. But at least one team will have two games postponed, making it impossible to make up both of them. Yes, each team has an open date within the first eleven weeks (LSU's is November 7 before hosting Alabama), but what are the odds that both teams involved in a cancellation have the same bye week.

 Baseball Short Story

The Greatest Cardinal of Them All

Stan Musial started his pro career as a pitcher.

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 Football Short Story

AFL Tales: 1 - The First Game

The 1960 Denver Broncos wore their hideous socks as they battled the Boston Patriots at Fenway Park.

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 Basketball Short Story

Survive and Advance - 5

The Wolfpack won two games in the regional finals to earn a trip to the Final Four.
  1. Because this will be such a crazy, uncertain season, I'm not doing my Golden College Rankings this year.
  2. I have started my NFL Rankings and will publish the first one after Week 4 or 5.
  3. I am resuming my annual football season habit of doing a Did You Notice? NFL Week X article each week. (See below).
  4. I will resume my annual college weekly Did You Notice? next week after the SEC plays its first games.
  5. I'm not doing any college picks this year. (See #1 above.)
  6. Later this week I'll make my annual prediction for LSU's season.
Did You Notice? NFL Week 2
  • This Week's Crazy Stats Game
    First downs: Jaguars 30 Titans 23
    Total plays: Jaguars 74 Titans 59
    Total yards: Jaguars 480 Titans 354
    Yards per play: Jaguars 6.5 Titans 6.0
    Possession: Jaguars 33:22 Titans 26:38
    Turnovers: Jaguars 2 Titans 0
    Score: Titans 33 Jaguars 30
  • Another Atlanta Meltdown
    Do the numbers 28-3 mean anything to you? They do to Falcons fans. That's the score by which they led New England in Super Bowl LI before losing the game. Add 29-10 to the list of dreaded numbers. That's how much Atlanta led Dallas Sunday before losing 40-39. I like the metaphor one reporter used for the Falcon front line's response to the onside kick that the Cowboys recovered to set up their winning FG on the last play. He said the Falcons treated the rolling ball like a "live grenade."
  • The New Wally Pipp
    For those who don't know, Pipp was the Yankee whose injury opened the door for Lou Gehrig to take over at 1B. Lou proceeded to play in 2,130 consecutive games. Tyrod Taylor may have lost his starting job with the Chargers when he was scratched from Sunday's game against the Chiefs because he had difficulty breathing. So rookie Justin Herbert took his place and put up these numbers against the defending Super Bowl champs:
    22 of 33 for 311y, 1 TD, 1 INT, 94.9 QB rating, which was better than Patrick Mahomes' 90.9.
    Of course, Herbert benefitted from the fact that KC had prepared for Taylor. We'll see how Justin does this week against the Panthers.
  • Glad You Waited a Week, Leonard
    Leonard Fournette averaged 8.6ypc in Tampa Bay's 31-17 win over Carolina. The former LSU star gained 103y on 12 carries with 2 TDs. Contrast that with his 5y in 5 carries in his hometown in Week 1. Leonard said afterward, "For the first time in my life, I really have a QB, so that's an eye-opener for me. Not a lot of pressure is going to come on me." Not a stretch to say that Tom Brady, even at age 443, is better than Blake Bortles, Nick Foles, and Gardner Minshew - Leonard's teammates the past three seasons.
  • Three Times the Charm
    K Harrison Butker trotted onto the field in the final two minutes of overtime to attempt a 53y FG to beat the Chargers. He banged it through to set off a celebration only to notice that a flag had been thrown for a false start. So he lined up 5y further back and booted it through the uprights again. But this time the Chargers called a timeout right before the snap. No problem. His tireless leg repeated the feat a third time to pull out the 23-20 win for KC.
  • Weird Sequence after Saints TD
    The Saints scored the first-ever TD in the Raiders' new stadium to make it 9-0 with 3:51 left in Q1. Will Lutz booted the extra point from the 15. But Sean Payton decided to take the penalty called on the Raiders and go for two from the one (half the distance to the goal because of the penalty). The try was successful except that a Saint lineman on the left end of the formation had not reported to the officials as an eligible receiver. So Peyton had Lutz come back out and kick the point again, this time from the 7.
  • #1 vs #2
    The QB matchup in the Rams-Eagles game pitted Jared Goff, the #1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, against Carson Wentz, the #2 selection in that same draft. The outcome proved that the Rams made the right choice as Goff outplayed Wentz, throwing for 267y and three TDs in LA's 37-19 romp.
Question of the week: Which coach said after receiving the game ball from his team that, "Those are the moments in this great game that you always remember"? Answer below.

Intriguing Numbers - NFL Week 2
14 Number of favorites who won in the 16 games of Week 2 (Eagles and Saints were the two exceptions)
5 of 6 Times the Cowboys scored on their possessions in the second half against Atlanta
5 Kicks long-time Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski has missed for the Titans the first two weeks - three FGs and two EPs. But
2 FGs Gostkowski booted Sunday in the Titans' 33-30 win over the Jaguars - a 51-yarder on the last play of the first half and a 49-yarder on the last play of the game
6 Players who suffered ACL injuries in Week 2 games, including Giants RB Saquon Barkley and 49ers DEs Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas.
85 Points the Packers have scored in their first two games - only the fourth time in the franchise's long history that Green Bay has scored 40+ in consecutive games
14 Consecutive regular season victories by the Ravens after they thumped Houston 33-16
2002 Last year that a Bills QB threw for more than 400y in a game before Josh Allen did it Sunday in the 31-28 victory over the Dolphins
1 Players in NFL history who have thrown for more than 400y in a game while running for three TDs - Dallas QB Dak Prescott against Atlanta
5/4 Sacks/turnovers by the Bucs' defense in the 31-17 victory over Carolina
6 TD passes by Gardner Minshew in Jacksonville's first two games after the team put their faith in him and let Nick Foles go to free agency
9-0 Patrick Mahomes's record as a starting QB in the month of September
11 Lions' losing streak, dating back to Week 9 of last season
9-25 Matt Patricia's record since taking over as Detroit's head coach in 2018
9 Games that Jim Caldwell, Patricia's predecessor, won in his final season with Detroit (9-7 in 2017)
4 Consecutive game in which the Lions have blown a double-digit lead
3 Second half points by the Eagles in their two 2020 games
61 Pass attempts by Joe Burrow in the Bengals' Thursday night loss to the Browns
63 Pass attempts by Chris Weinke (another Heisman Trophy winner) for the Panthers against Arizona in his rookie season of 2001
Answer to this week's question: Mike McCarthy after the thrilling victory in his first game as Cowboys head coach
Disappointing Night in Vegas
Before Monday night's game, I listened to local pundits all confidently predict a Saints victory. I thought, "You're not taking into account the fact that this is the Raiders' first game in their new city and new stadium. Also, Jon Gruden was a mentor to Sean Payton when the Saints coach was the QB coach for the Eagles under O-coordinator Gruden in 1997. Both men are very competitive, and Gruden will pull out all stops to beat his former assistant."
Yet, the Saints started strong on both sides of the ball, forging leads of 10-0 and 17-7. But a careless pass by Brees at the end of the first half sent the Saints into a funk that continued into Q4. LV scored 24 points in a row.
Even before halftime, I thought the Raiders were just plain playing harder than the Saints. They wanted it more.
In this crazy football year in which Sun Belt teams upset Big 12 hosts the first week of the college season, lack of practice time (last spring and summer in college and absence of training camps and preseason games in the NFL) at least partially negates coaching advantages.
Gruden outcoached Payton.
Derek Carr outplayed Brees - 120.7 QB rating to 91.1.
The Raiders (3 penalties for 13y) outplayed the Saints (10 penalties for 129y).
The game reminds me of last year's second game, a 27-9 loss to the Rams during which Brees suffered an injury that caused him to miss the next five games. Thanks to Teddy Bridgewater, the Saints won all five.
Now Payton & Company have a tough challenge - lick your wounds and get ready to face the Packers next Sunday night, a team that has scored 85 points in its two games. The good news is that the Pack gave up 55 points to two teams that are not usually ranked among the top offenses in the league - the Vikings and the Lions.
So I'm suspending judgment on the Saints' prospects for 2020. They may bounce back and play well against Green Bay and still lose.
I'm also postponing judgment on whether Brees has "lost it." He generally plays well the week after a poor game.
This may be just the start of a roller-coaster ride season. Fasten your seat belts!
 Memorable Baseball Game
9/16/1930 - Cardinals start a crucial three-game series in Brooklyn.

The Robins rode an 11-game winning streak to take over first place.

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  LSU Short Story
 A Running Back Like No Other

Jim Taylor became the centerpiece of Vince Lombardi's offense.

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