Today's Names to Know: Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Paul Byrd, Tom Brady, Rob Bironas, Brian Griese, David Garrard, Boston College, Strat-O-Matic, More!
ALCS Game 7: Red Sox clobber the Indians, come back from 3-1 deficit with 3-game winning streak to take AL pennant and return to the World Series for the first time since way back in 2004. (Two World Series appearances in four years? These ain't your pappy's Red Sox.)
Congratulations to the team and to Red Sox Nation: It was gutsy as hell to be down 3-1, then win three straight games. After already claiming status as the first MLB team to come back from being down 3-0 in a series, they became only the 11th team ever to come back from being down 3-1. Big performances all around (Game 7 stud: Dustin Pedroia, who had 5 RBI), and I think
World Series Glimpse Ahead: Sox vs. Rox, which is catchy, if nothing else. I'll do more on the series tomorrow and Wednesday, but the ultimate question, of course, is whether the
Based on the way they've won 21 out of their last 22, including 7 in a row in the playoffs (8 in a row if you count the Game 163 play-in), I have a hard time imagining the Rockies losing 4 of 7 games at this point. Then again, the way the Red Sox have won 3 of their last, um, 3, I can't imagine them losing either.
Kiss-of-Death Prediction: Rockies in 6, with
(On a side note: Man, it must be tough to be an Indians fan. Now there's a fan base that deserves our sympathy and our support.)
MLB PED Scandal: Add Paul Byrd to the list. His masterful performance in Game 4 of the ALCS is now the SECOND-biggest thing he is famous for, after 'fessing up to ordering HGH back during the apex of the scandal, from 2002-2005 (when, seemingly, EVERYONE was doing it).
The news cast a pall over the Indians' ALCS run, but it goes to show that HGH penetrated the core of the sport, from the selfish superstar sluggers to the devoutly religious super-likeable journeymen pitchers to the blindly ambitious minor-league rehab success stories. And, I'm sure, much more.
His money quote: "I have nothing to hide," which may be true, admirable or both. But, usually, quotes like that just end up as irony. He says he used it to treat a tumor and that a doc prescribed them. But he says he was in contact with the Indians and MLB about it, but the team and league wouldn't (or couldn't) confirm that.
NFL Wrap: The Pats just keep rolling. Just when you think they can't do anything more (like, say, going on the road and crushing the NFC's top Super Bowl contender), they take on their nemesis and absolutely obliterate them. I know the Dolphins aren't the Dolphins this season, but they weren't particularly good in previous seasons when they beat the Pats, either.
Tom Brady: 6 TDs. One week after throwing a career-high 5, he goes one better, giving him 27 for the season (in only 7 games... the single-season record is 49 by Peyton Manning). The greatest season for a QB in NFL history continues, and it will be all the more spectacular when the team goes 19-0.
My favorite part of yesterday's game was the way that Belichick brought Brady back into the game, off the bench, to throw No. 6. Between that and the last-minute TD the Pats scored against the Cowboys, which was meaningless beyond rubbing in the ass-kicking, it's clear that Belichick wants to punish the rest of the league this season.
More NFL Milestones/Fantasy Player of the Week: Rob Bironas has the greatest day ever for a kicker. He hit an NFL-record 8 field goals, including the game-winner as time expired. So: Who had Bironas on their fantasy team (and if they didn't, will he be the "most added" player of the week?)
More NFL: If there was ever reason to confirm Brian Griese as the Bears' QB, his game-winning two-minute drill without a radio signal in his helmet was the one... How many more last-second wins does Jason Elam have in his foot this season?... Cowboys back on track with a home win over Minnesota, whose sensational rookie RB Adrian Peterson was held to 63 yards, 160 fewer than a week ago (I think the Vikings should give up on this season and target a top QB in the draft to complement Peterson, say Kentucky's Andre Woodson?)... Byron Leftwich looked good in his Falcons debut (that is, until he got hurt... surprise)... Are the Dolphins going to fire first-year head coach Cam Cameron after their first 0-7 start in team history? Should they?
MNF: Colts at Jags. As a Jaguars fan (nominally), last season's blowout win over the Colts represented the best moment of the season for the Jaguars (and made the end-of-season collapse that much more painful). Not sure if the teams match up the same way this year, but this is a real test if the Jags truly are a Top 5 NFL team this year. (Not that it matters, in terms of winning a Super Bowl; the Pats have that locked up.)
CFB: Ohio State, B.C. top the BCS, with LSU at No. 3. Interestingly, the BCS computers have BC and LSU at 1-2 with Ohio State on the outside looking in. Do the PCs know something the humans don't? (Yeah: You can't let the brand name "Ohio State" blind you to things like "Who have they beaten?") By the way, BC is losing at Virginia Tech on Thursday night, just as surely as you could see South Florida's loss at Rutgers last Thursday night coming, too.
This Week's BlogPoll Ballot (Temporary): As I mention in today's Deadspin post, putting it together was an exercise in self-loathing as I filled it out. (I'm already making changes based on reader feedback. Reader Nick questioned how I could have South Florida where I did, particularly behind USC. This is right on, especially because USF was my No. 1 team a week ago. That's a hell of a drop. I have moved them up to No. 11. That's probably still low, especially since they are a spot behind 2-loss Florida, with the Bulls beating Auburn at Auburn and the Gators losing to Auburn in Gainesville.)
NBA Scandal: Have six refs been disciplined for breaking the league's anti-gambling rules? I wouldn't doubt it, but the league and the refs' union aren't confirming anything.
Fantasy: I have a longer, stand-alone post about this for either later today or tomorrow, but I'm participating in a re-creation of the 1986 baseball season through Strat-O-Matic online, managing the Chicago Cubs. Here's a link to the league.