Monday, September 12, 2016

Sports this 'n' that

Back in the day, Alcoa Aluminum would sponsor a short highlight reel from the previous week during NFL games under the heading, Fantastic Finishes. Well, there were plenty of those on Sunday. Consider:

*--Cincinnati escaped the Meadowlands with a 23-22 win over the Jets after Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted with less than a minute left in the 4th quarter. This came after ex-Jet Mike Nugent booted the game winning field goal.

*--After choking away a half dozen games last year late, the Giants finally got one back, beating Dallas, 28-27. Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams, who should've known better, failed to go out of bounds on what was the last play of the game, spoiling the debuts of rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott.

*--Kansas City rallied from a 3 touchdown deficit to first force overtime, then defeat San Diego, 33-27. The Chiefs are in a 3-way knot atop the AFC West with Denver and Oakland, the latter of whom escaped New Orleans with a late comeback win.

*--New England, a road underdog, fended off Arizona, making Jimmy Garappolo a winner in his first start. As it was, the Patriots were the only AFC East team to win a game, as Miami, Buffalo, and the Jets all fell. The Dolphins also let a 4th quarter lead slip away, losing to Seattle. If you took the points with the Dolphins, though, you cashed in, as Miami was a double-digit underdog on the road.

It should also be pointed out that in the AFC South, Houston was the only winner, as Indianapolis fell to Detroit, 39-35, thanks to 1) a Matt Prater field goal with under a minute to play, and, 2) a safety in the end zone on the game's final play, as the Colts botched an attempt to lateral the ball down the field on the final kickoff. It looked more like they were trying the Harlem Globetrotters' weave play (if you've ever seen the 'Trotters, you know what I mean), and it was an epic fail!
High schools: Four years removed from a Big 10 and Section II championship, Troy High's boys varsity soccer team can't buy a win, much less a goal. The Flying Horses are 0-4 after dropping a 4-0 verdict to Ballston Spa on Saturday afternoon in front of a sparse crowd at Picken Memorial Field.

I could see why they're losing. They're not aggressive enough on defense, leaving too much room for their opponents. Troy has scored just 1 goal in 4 games, mired in the basement of the Suburban Council's Grey division.

The women's varsity team isn't much better. They're also 0-4, and have been outscored 11-3 in their last two losses (Ballston Spa & Mohonasen). Ouch!

I mentioned before the lack of crowd support at Troy on Saturday. A security guard told me that for weeknight home games, students usually stick around after school, but with other options on Saturdays, well....!

Personal note: When I was a student at Troy High (1979-81), the fortunes of the men's soccer team and the football team were the opposite of today's teams. I've often told the story about how the football team couldn't execute a simulated goal line offensive play at a pep rally, of all things, while the soccer team was among the contenders for the Big 10 title. It's funny how times change.

The soccer teams aren't alone in their futility at present. The boys' golf team has won just 1 match that I know of, as results aren't always reported to the papers. The women's volleyball is 3-1 after beating Mohonasen on Thursday night in straight sets. Again, not all the results are reported to the papers. Troy's cross country & swimming teams are also starving for print space.

Meanwhile, Troy's football team, currently 2-0, has something in terms of incentive as it relates to the Class AA Super Bowl. The game will be played on November 3, a Thursday night, at RPI's East Campus Village Stadium, situated behind the Houston Field House, both just a short distance from the Dudley Van Arnam campus that is home to THS and the neighboring Troy Middle School. If Troy makes it to the Super Bowl this year, it's virtually a de facto home game.
Colleges: After reading of the controversy surrounding the end of Saturday's Central Michigan-Oklahoma State game, I cannot help but think that, in the interest of fairness to both schools and their respective leagues (Mid America and Big 12), maybe the referee's decision to end the game after a clear botch shouldn't be the last one. In case you hadn't heard, after a penalty on Oklahoma State, Central Michigan was granted an untimed down, and scored the game winning touchdown. Too often in recent years, game officials have made inexcusable gaffes that have irretrievably altered the course of games. Now, I know the game's not supposed to end on a defensive penalty, so where the problem was is simply poor clock management on the part of game officials. All they needed to do was look at video, figure out how much time was left, and put the time back on the clock. Then, there's no untimed down.
UFC: So CM Punk (Phil Brooks) lost his first MMA fight Saturday night, a submission loss to Mickey Gall in 2:00 of the first round. He says he'll keep on fighting, but UFC chief Dana White thinks Punk should take a step down before he tries to get back into the biggest MMA stage.

Bobby Lashley could probably relate to that. The current TNA champion fought in a smaller MMA promotion before signing with Bellator, and of course there are rumors flying that if Punk wants to return to wrestling, a 2nd tour of duty with TNA would be in the cards (Punk was in TNA in 2003), especially for a big money match with Lashley. Otherwise, Punk would have his developing career as a comic book writer to fall back on, though Marvel just cancelled Drax.
WWE: Speaking of guys who used to be in TNA, former NWA, TNA, & IWGP champ AJ Styles added the WWE World title to his resume on Sunday night, but needed a low blow, after the ref was knocked down, to unseat Dean Ambrose at Backlash. At least Styles succeeded on his own. The same cannot be said for grappler-actor Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, who needed illegal help from his wife, Maryse, to keep the Intercontinental title away from Dolph Ziggler. All that does is continue the narrative established a couple of weeks earlier that Miz has become a coward in the eyes of retired former champion Daniel Bryan, now the GM of Smackdown. 3rd party interference certainly would reinforce that notion, and it reduces Miz's credibility as champion to an all-time low. By the way, I wouldn't call myself an A-lister when all of Miz's movies either go direct-to-video or are made for cable. His 12 year association with WWE has netted endorsement deals with KFC (shared with Ziggler, as we've previously seen) and Domino's, the latter in his current role as the smug, self-overrated actor. Unfortunately, the act is bordering on stale.
Baseball: We're used to the idea that every even numbered year results in the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series. It happened in 2010, 2012, & 2014. However, the Giants are clinging to a wild card at present, with the Mets, Cardinals, and Pirates leading a pack of challengers as we're in the season's final three weeks. It's looking more and more like the Cubs will be the #1 seed in the NL, and Washington would have to avoid another collapse, with the Mets hot on their heels, to perhaps be the #2 seed. Don't look now, but despite losing to Tampa Bay on Sunday, the Yankees are still in position to slip in the back door for a wild card berth of their own. And we all wrote them off just a few weeks ago.........!

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