Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Few Scattered Thoughts As Summer Gives Way to Fall

Summer is over. Not just culturally, as it does at the end of Labor Day weekend, but scientifically. Autumn, or "Fall," has begun.

And, right now, both the Yankees and a man who (to my great dismay) has often claimed to be a fan of theirs, Donald Trump, look finished. In each case, it is largely due to their own incompetence.

For a year now, Trump has been playing to his strength. Not making money -- although spending other people's money is a strength of his. Starring in a reality show.

Last night, in the 1st Presidential debate of the general election, Trump was again the star. The problem for him was, Lester Holt was the director, and Hillary Clinton was the scriptwriter.

She called him on his lies, and he doubled down on them. She "had the stamina," he didn't. And what was with that sniffling? We all thought Russia would be the country that brought down his chance to be President. We never considered that it might be Colombia!

To paraphrase the last line of Ball Four, the groundbreaking book by former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton, Trump has spent the better part of a year gripping the election, and in the end, it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.

*

Yesterday, after showing few signs of life in the 1st 3 games of their series away to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees got into a bench-clearing brawl in the 2nd inning, and ended up winning the game 7-5.

If only somebody had thought of that before their 4-game series away to the Boston Red Sox. When that series began, the Yankees were 4 games out of 1st place in the American League Eastern Division and 2 games out of the 2nd AL Wild Card, with 17 games to go. Now, they are 12 out of the Division, and 5 out of the Wild Card, with 6 to go. In other words, 1 more failure to win the rest of the way, and 1 more win by the Baltimore Orioles, and no Playoffs for the 3rd time in the last 4 years.

They would have made the Playoffs had general manager Brian Cashman not traded Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran for "prospects."

The 2016 Yankees will go down in history as Gary Sanchez, Masahiro Tanaka, and 23 guys named Adam Warren.

At least, after this Thursday night, they'll never have to face the big fat lying cheating bastard David Ortiz again. And, with the Jays switching to real grass next season, the only games the Yankees will ever again play on artificial turf will be in Tampa Bay.

Unless, of course, the Rays move. But even if they move to Montreal, they'll have to play on plastic at the Olympic Stadium until a real ballpark can be built.

*

I have no connection to San Francisco. I have no connection to the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who has started both a trend and a controversy by kneeling during the pregame playing of the National Anthem. And I don't expect the 49ers to be serious Super Bowl contenders this season.

But I want the 49ers to win it. Because I want all those people who are hating on Kap because of his peaceful, silent protest of a terrible thing that has been happening in America to hear his postgame speech.

The Rutgers football team is now 2-2 after their 14-7 loss to Iowa at Rutgers Stadium on Saturday. No more early-season games against weaker opposition: It's Big Ten time. They go to Ohio State this weekend. That's perennial power, now Number 3 in the nation, Ohio State. As the greatest of all college football announcers, Keith Jackson, would say, "The social portion of the schedule is over. From here on in, it's strictly meat and potatoes."

In light of what I wrote about Kaepernick, it would be in poor taste to write what I usually write when I consider Rutgers' playing in the Big Ten: "We're all gonna die... " Instead, I'll say...

I'm not lookin' forward to this.

On the other hand, the football team at East Brunswick High School, after dropping 2 awful road losses to perennial powers Sayreville and Piscataway, opened the home portion of their schedule against neighboring Monroe, which has been very good the last few years, and crushed them, 48-7.

The Bears may have scored more points in this one game than they'll score in all 9 of their other games this year.

*

Arnold Palmer has died at age 87. He was one of the good guys in American public life. That's not surprising, since he grew up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and knew Fred Rogers, a.k.a. "Mr. Rogers" of PBS fame. He was 2 years behind him at Latrobe High.

Arnie won the Masters in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964; the U.S. Open in 1960; and the British Open in 1961 and 1962. Oddly, he never got the "career Grand Slam," finishing 2nd at the PGA Championship 3 times.

He was the 1st TV star of golf, and did more to popularize the game, in America and around the world, than anyone. He may have been surpassed in greatness by Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and perhaps others, but for as long as he lived, he was "The King" in golf.

He wasn't the 1st "athlete" to do TV commercials, but he was the 1st to do it to the kind of extent that would later be done by guys like Joe Namath, Reggie Jackson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, et al. He started with his home-State product, Pennzoil motor oil. Then he did ads for Hertz Rent-a-Car, often alongside football star O.J. Simpson.

It's a good thing Arnie later endorsed "Arnold Palmer's Half & Half," a combination iced tea and lemonade produced by Arizona Iced Tea, or else 2 whole generations would know him only from his Hertz commercials with O.J. He also had a clothing line with Sears, that predated Nicklaus' competitive "Golden Bear" line with JCPenney. Arizona also made drink deals with Nicklaus, Shaq, Oscar de la Hoya, and the estate of Joe DiMaggio.

Millions of people who could never hope to play golf as well as Arnold Palmer were happy to be fans of his, known as Arnie's Army. And he never acted smug or stuck-up about it. He always had a smile for people. He was worthy of his fame and his fortune.

So why am I not doing a separate tribute to him? Because this blog is centered on sports, and, as I've said many times, golf is not a sport. A game, yes; a competition, yes; a sport, no.

*

Days until The Arsenal play again: 1, tomorrow, at 2:45 AM U.S. Eastern Time, home to FC Basel, defending champions of Switzerland, in UEFA Champions League action. Te Arsenal embarrassed intracity rivals Chelsea on Saturday, 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium, the 1st time they'd beaten the oil-rich West Londoners in 5 years.

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 4, Saturday at 12:00 noon, away to Ohio State. Have mercy, Buckeyes...

Days until the New York Red Bulls play again: 4, Saturday night at 7:00, home to the Philadelphia Union. In their last game, they beat the Montreal Impact 1-0 at home, and clinched a Playoff berth -- but, in defeating Montreal, also clinched the 1st Playoff berth in New York City FC history.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": The same 4. There are no further games this regular season against NYCFC, Philly, or D.C. United, although it is likely that all will make the MLS Cup Playoffs, so it is likely that Mero will face one of them.

Days until the Yankees' insane season ends: 5, on Sunday, October 2, home to the Baltimore Orioles.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 10, a week from this Friday, away to Cuba, at 4:00 PM, at Estadio Pedro Marrero in Havana. It will be the 1st game between the 2 national teams since 1947. I don't think we have to worry about any American players staying in Cuba to defect. The next game is on Friday, November 11, home to arch-rival Mexico at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, in a CONCACAF Qualifying Match for the 2018 World Cup. This match will be followed 4 days later by another Qualifier, away to Costa Rica.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 11, in a Greater Middlesex Conference/Shore Conference crossover, away to Marlboro. They have this week off, then play on a Saturday afternoon, as, despite being in one of the wealthiest towns in Central Jersey, Marlboro High School does not have lights at its football stadium.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play another regular season game: 16, on Thursday night, October 13, away to the Florida Panthers in the Miami suburb of Sunrise. Under 5 weeks. The home opener is 5 days later, on Tuesday night, October 18, against the Anaheim Ducks.

Days until the 2016 Presidential election: 42, 
on Tuesday, November 8. That's exactly 6 weeks. Make sure you are registered to vote, and then make sure you vote!

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 58, on Thursday morning, November 24, at the purple shit pit on Route 9. A little over 8 weeks.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play another local rival: 75. Their 1st game this season with the New York Rangers will be on Sunday night, December 11, at Madison Square Garden. Their 1st game this season with the Philadelphia Flyers will be on Thursday night, December 22, at the Prudential Center. By a quirk in the schedule, the New York Islanders, a team they usually play several times a season, don't show up on the slate until Saturday night, February 18, 2017, at the Prudential Center.

Days until the Yankees' 2017 season opener: 187, on Sunday, April 2, at 8:00 PM, away to the Tampa Bay Rays. A little over 6 months.

Days until the Yankees' 2017 home opener: 195, on Monday, April 10, at 1:00 PM, home to the Rays.



Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park. Under 7 months.

Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 625, on June 14, 2018. Under 21 months. The U.S. team will probably qualify for it, but with Jurgen Klinsmann as manager, particularly in competitive matches such as World Cup Qualifiers, rather than in friendlies, you never know.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Mariano Rivera: 833, on January 9, 2019. A little over 2 years, or 27 months.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: 1,198, on January 8, 2020. A little over 3 years, or 39 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 1,396, on July 24, 2020. Under 4 years. Under 46 months.

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