An entertaining look at sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while impressed by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s sportsmanship after his Tigers were upset by Syracuse:

Crushing loss

Taylor Twellman delivered a shotgun blast tirade against United States soccer this week after the men’s national team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

“This is literally now going to be eight years without a World Cup. We’re losing generations of players,” said Twellman.

While Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss in Trinidad led to Bruce Arena’s resignation as national team coach, Twellman believes there are problems at all levels of the United States Soccer Federation’s player development program, starting with the “pay-for-play” age-group club teams.

“Every decision in our sport is based on money. Around the world it is about the sport,” Twellman said on ESPN’s “The Ryen Russillo Show” on Wednesday.

One fix he’d like to see made would require the NCAA and USSF to combine forces to replace the four-month college season with something more substantial. Increasing the number of games and training sessions would be a better way of developing individual skills, but giving soccer a longer competition schedule is something the NCAA has resisted.

“If Borussia Dortmond, Christian Pulisic’s club, is coming here to find players, the players are here,” said Twellman, a former U.S. player who does color commentary on soccer for ESPN and other networks. “A scout told me that in four years there will be over 60 American kids under the age of 16 signed to European teams because the talent is here before the age of 16. They want them at a certain age so they can develop them … The NCAA is doing the sport an injustice.”

Sweet Tweets

Rehashing and tagging this week’s best hits from @Randy_Beard11:

Dino beats Dabo and Clemson loses to a team nicknamed Orange.

According to NCAA, anyone with diploma from UNC in past decade needs to add asterisk. But don’t worry, it just means you are part of team,

NCAA colluded with University of North Carolina to let Crying Roy keep job and titles. UNC = Unlimited Nonsense Courses.

Guessing Dolphins OL coach Chris Foerster experiencing both “stripper regret” and “coke withdrawal” today. Goodbye to rich/famous lifestyle.

 Tom Petty tribute by Florida fans was great, rocking to ‘I Won’t Back Down.’ Alas, against LSU, Gators kind of did ‘back down’ in SEC East.

Balloon buffoons

Nebraska fans celebrate the Cornhuskers’ first touchdown in each home game by releasing thousands of helium-filled red balloons. But for Saturday’s clash with Ohio State, the folks in Lincoln were guilty of a collective false start.

Midway through the second quarter, the Buckeyes were ahead 28-0 while the Cornhuskers were struggling just to move the chains. So when Nebraska earned its second first down, the fans called an audible and filled the sky with red balloons.

With 11 minutes left in the third quarter, Tanner Lee finally got Nebraska into the end zone when he hooked up with JD Spielman on a 77-yard catch and run.

Ohio State was ahead 42-0 by then and went on to claim a 56-14 win.

In the future, Nebraska might want to replace all those balloons with a few beach balls so the fans can keep themselves entertained.

 Price of success

According to Phil Mushnick of the N.Y. Post, making the postseason was just an excuse for the New York Yankees to further fleece their fans by quadrupling the price of a spot in the cheap seats.

Mushnick reports that the cost of a bleacher seat for the wildcard game against Minnesota was $110.30, which included a $6 per ticket “convenience fee” and a $3.30 ticket tax. That same seat during the season would have cost $17 to $22.

The parking fee was $50 compared to $35 during the season.

They said it

Mike Bianchi of Orlando Sentinel: “The U.S. Men’s National Team getting eliminated from the World Cup qualifying by Trinidad and Tobago is the most embarrassing moment for American soccer since Alex Morgan’s last trip to Disney World.”

NBC comedian Jimmy Fallon: “A coach for the Miami Dolphins had to resign after a video surfaced of him snorting white powder. Afterwards, the team was like, “So THAT’S why the 50-yard line kept disappearing.”

Dwight Perry of Seattle Times: “Odds-on favorite to win this year’s “Pot, Meet Kettle” Award: Kentucky’s John Calipari — the only coach to lead multiple schools to vacated Final Four appearances — saying the FBI’s probe of college basketball is giving his sport a “black eye.”

RJ Currie of “WWE and reality TV star  Nikki Bella and ex-NFL receiving great Terrell Owens are on “Dancing With the Stars.” One is a big name in total divas; the other is Nikki Bella.”

Comedian Steve Hofstetter via Twitter: “Mike Pence walked out of the Colts game, a form of peaceful protest. So Mike Pence was immediately upset by Mike Pence’s actions.”

Janice Hough of “Silver lining for being Cleveland football fan?  – at least the Browns don’t get your hopes up.”

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien: “Byron Scott, a former coach of the Lakers, had his home broken into and money and valuables stolen. Afterwards, Scott said, ‘It could be worse. I could still be the coach of the Lakers.’

Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg after retired heavyweight champion George Foreman challenged ancient actor Steven Seagal to fight him in Las Vegas: “They’re calling it ‘The Geezers at Caesars.’ ”

No ‘Mr. October ‘

Through eight postseason games, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has struck out 19 times in 31 at-bats with just four hits, only one of which was a homer. It computes to a .129 batting average.

During the season, Judge hit .258 with 51 homers and drove in 114 runs.

Stat of week

Cal ended last week’s game against Washington with a botched snap on a field goal attempt, losing 41 yards on the play. It left the Golden Bears with minus-40 yards rushing on 26 attempts.

Headlines “Fox tries to resell World Cup broadcasting rights on Craigslist.” “U.S. soccer vows to adopt English model of waiting to suffer crushing disappointment until after making World Cup.” “Should the Patriots back up Tom Brady on a hard drive?” “Mike Pence leaves NFL game after realizing the Colts and 49ers are playing.” “Fans increasingly unable to recover in time for Thursday night games.”

Vegas games

It wasn’t long ago that professional sports teams didn’t want to associate with Las Vegas. Now they are making themselves quite at home in the gambling capital of the nation.

The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights began their expansion season there earlier this month. The NFL’s Raiders plan to relocate there by 2020. And now the women are getting into the act with the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA announcing plans to move to Vegas in 2018.

Oh yeah, the New York Mets have a Triple-A club based there, while the NBA holds a summer league in Vegas.

What are the odds of Las Vegas being the birthplace of a new U.S. league for professional lacrosse? I even have a name: United LasCrosse Association.

Getting picky

No. 2 Clemson’s 27-24 loss at Syracuse Friday night made it clear that I wasn’t going to have a second consecutive weekend of perfection picking college football games in the ACC.

Another surprise came from Rutgers, which gave Illinois a 35-24 beating to pick up a rare Big Ten win. Meanwhile, I should have known better than to pick Auburn to win in Baton Rouge. The last time Auburn won at LSU was 1999.

But there’s nothing I can do about those picks now. Besides, it still wasn’t a bad weekend to be me.

I was 4-2 in the ACC to improve to 46-9 (83.6%).

In the Big Ten, I went 5-1 to improve to 45-13 (77.5%).

And in the SEC, I’m now 45-12 (78.9%) after a 5-2 week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s