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Things in sports I like and sports things

Sunday 11/28/21

Things in sports I like: change-ups, backhand passes in hockey, snow at football games, 360 dunks, wrist shots, glove saves, suicide squeezes, misdirection plays, open field tackles, tipped-in goals, catchers blocking pitches in the dirt, hitting the ball the opposite way, students storming the field, teams playing spoiler, comebacks, surprise onside kicks, strike 'em out, throw 'em out double plays, physical cornerbacks, goalie screens, reverse lay-ups, quick releases, football games on campuses where you can see the Gothic architecture, tight ends, soft hands, going to the net, ballparks and stadiums that are 100-years-old or close enough to it, loud venues, balconies, atmosphere, catchers wearing old school batting helmets backwards under their masks, offensive defensemen, one-touch passes, 3-6-1 double plays, refs who let them play, starting pitchers coming in from the bullpen in the postseason, multi-inning savings. set plays off of face-offs.

Glad I didn't go out to Boston College yesterday to see Wake Forest paste the Eagles in the cold. That BC team was not as good as I expected them to be. Thought this coach had them on the right track, but less sure after what I've seen this season. Their quarterback may play in the NFL--my guess would be as a back-up--but he has a ways to go. Have to say though that i didn't understand the call that ruled a block of his a blind side hit, though, and took a TD off the board. How can it be a blindside hit if the guy is looking at you as you pop him? Was two guys running towards each other.

Did watch a lot of the Michigan/Ohio St. game--what an atmosphere for football--and most of the Alabama/Auburn game, which was a great contest. Obviously Alabama has talent and speed everywhere, and though this is a "down" year for them--relatively speaking--it's clear that what separates them from other teams is their level of execution. As much as the talent, if not more so. They're quite Patriots-like that way. Or how the Patriots were. I don't know what the Patriots are right now.

Is Connor McDavid overrated? I think he is. I look at his game, and yes, he's the best in the NHL, but his game is one-dimensional in that its a game of offense. He's multi-dimensional offensively. Elite goal-scorer, and more elite still as a playmaker. But he's not always the best scorer on his own team, and the other guy is always right there with him. Or pretty close to him. McDavid is flashier, because of his speed. Normally speed isn't flashy, but McDavid's stands out because of his speed with the puck. He can do what he does with the puck at full speed. Doesn't lose touch or anything.

Alexander Ovechkin is playing better than he has in years, and I don't know why. He's thirty-six now. Where is this coming from? You know Ovechkin is playing better when his assists are up. This year, he's notching them at a high clip--the same clip as he's scoring goals, just about. It was exactly the same until he registered a hat trick the other night. And his plus/minus is way up, too. That's when Ovechkin has a more complete game going on--you see it in those two stats. He isn't a minus or a barely above 0 player, and he doesn't have that crazy goals to assist ratio, which at times has been 2-to-1.

I think I better understand now why people in New England were so upset about the 1978 Red Sox. Someone said to me it was because they hadn't won in so long. I don't think that's it. Reading Sparky Lyle's The Bronx Zoo, a diary about the Yankees' 1978 season, I've gone back to the Red Sox' game-by-game results over the 163 games (the extra because of the tiebreaker game with the Yankees, of course). The reason people were hit as hard as they were was because of the rhythms of that season, and specifically the last surge of rhythm near the end. That Red Sox team is probably the streakiest good team I've ever seen in professional sports. They were always on some kind of a streak, be it winning or losing. They won a lot of games in a row, and they lost more in a row--several times over--than you'd think a good team would. The 2013 Red Sox, for instance, never lost more than three in a row. The 1978 Red Sox did that a lot. They were either on runs, or they were flailing. You can see where they were in the standings on baseball-reference at the end of each day. They didn't just need to win out--another big winning streak--at the end of the season to catch the Yankees, but on the very last day, they needed to win and the Yankees needed to lose. So it felt like they had overcome so much to get to the tiebreaker. It would have been somewhat like the 2004 Red Sox coming back from down 3-0 only to drop the seventh game. I really think it was those rhythms that got to people and why that team sticks in the memory like it does, and not 1918 at all. My feeling is people thought that having caught the Yankees, and having the tiebreaker at Fenway--and this was the day after the Red Sox had won their game and the Yankees had lost theirs; there was no gap--that the Sox would win. And whoever won that tiebreaker was going to win the whole thing. That was a very inconsistent Red Sox team, though. They'd just drop eight out of ten like it was nothing. They were also so much better at home than on the road (where they actually finished under .500).

The whole “ears pinned back” phrase that every football announcer uses to describe defenders poised to rush the QB is so weird and nonsensical, considering that it means to be sharply scolded.

I’ve seen a lot of things at rinks and in hockey games, but I’d never seen a player so incensed with another player that he took his glove off on the bench and threw it at him as Panarin did with Marchand the other day. I enjoyed that. The best part was Marchand didn’t seem surprised.

Writing is virtually the exact same thing as hockey. Doing either well has much to do with anticipation and adapting. Seeing into the future, and being able to take the situations that present themselves and adapt them to maximum creative advantage.


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