Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Classic Sports Chowdah Update- Jets Grounded by Pats in OT; Kung Fu Panda Flying High in Game 1 of World Series;

AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS- Between snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, there was a whole lot of snatching going on late in Sunday's game at Foxbourough.

After the Jets got a TD on their opening posession, New England's Devin McCourty took the ball back 104 yards to tie the game at 7-7 on a kickoff return for a TD.

For the second straight week, it was looking as though the Patriots were going to pull away thanks to a 17 yard TD reception from Brady to Gronkowski late in the 1st and then got two more after Jets QB kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone after fumbling the handoff to RB Shonn Greene on the Jets own 12 yard line. The safety made it a 16-7 game, but the Jets were able to cut the Patriots lead to 7 thanks to a late 54-yard Nick Folk FG. The teams headed into the locker room for halftime with the Patriots up 16-10.

For their first possession of the 3rd quarter, the Jets were able to march the ball down into the new England Red Zone, but were unable to punch it in on 3rd and 2 from the Patriots 3 yard line, settling for a 21 yard FG to make it 13-16.

But on the next posession, the Patriots marched to ball 78 yards down the field to give them a 23-16 lead. The drive took 6:43 and was capped by a short TD pass from Brady to Gronkowski.

However, momentum began swinging the Jets' way when the 4th quarter got underway. With just under 6 minutes to go, New York closed the gap to 23-20 on a 7 yard TD pass from Sanchez to TE Dustin Keller. The Jets defense then held New England to a 3-and-out before getting the ball back and moving as close as the Patriots' 25 yard line. After being stopped on 3rd and 4, Nick Folk made a 43 yard FG to tie the contest up at 23-23.

Near-disaster struck on the following posession when Devin McCourty fumbled the kickoff return inside the Patriots' own red zone and the Jets covered on the New England 18. However, on 3rd and 7, Pats LB Dont'a Hightower came up with the second most important sack of the game [the most important? That was yet to come- NANESB!] dragging down Sanchez for a 10 yard loss and forcing the Jets to attempt a FG instead of going for it on 4th and 17. Still, Folk's 43 yard FG was good and the Jets took the lead for the first time since the 1st quarter, going agead by a 26-23 margin with 1:37 to go in regulation.

On the following kickoff, McCourty managed to hang on to the ball and got it as far out as the New England 21. This gave Brady and the Pats offense a little over 90 seconds to drive the ball down into FG range [or try and get the kill shot with a TD- NANESB!]. And that's exactly what happened as the Patriots marched down the field, getting as far as the Jets 25 with 16 seconds remaining. As time expires, Gostkowski kicked a 43 yard FG to tie the contest up at 26-26 and force overtime.

This was the first time the Patriots had to play under the NFL's revised OT rules and New England won the coin toss and got the ball to start off with. Starting from their own 16, the Patriots moved the ball thanks to a series of short passes to Welker, Woodhead, Hernandez and Deion Branch, advancing as far as the Jets 30 before bringing in Gostkowski for a 48 yard FG attempt which was good.

Under the old rules, that would've ended the ballgame right there, but the new format allowed the Jets a posession with which the could tie the game or go ahead with a TD for the win. However, after a couple of quick gains that brought New York from their own 15 to near mid field, Mark Sanchez was sacked by DE Rod Ninkovitch and then fumbled the ball. New England recovered the football, thus ending the game right there. After dropping the late lead, Patriots come from behind to force OT and shut the Jets out in OT, winning by a final of 29-26.

Brady went 26-42 with 2 TDs and 259 yards while Rob Gronkowski had 6 receptions on the day, two of them for TDs.

This weekend, the Patriots will travel to jolly old England for a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI against the St Louis Rams. This is actually considered a home game for the Rams and will kick off at 1PM Eastern time.

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

WORLD SERIES- Perhaps the best baseball news as far as I was concerned came last Tuesday when the Detroit Tigers competed a sweep of the New York Yankees thanks to an 8-1 shellacking in Game 4 at Comerica Park in which Yankees starter CC Sabathia gave up 6 earned runs before getting pulled in the top of the 4th. Matt Scherzer pitched a gem through 5⅔ and the Tigers advanced to their first World Series berth since 2006.

And for awhile, it was looking as though it would be a rematch of the '06 World Series with the Cardinals taking a commanding 3-1 lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. However, the Giants would come roaring back and win the next three games by a combined total of 20-1, including shutouts thrown by Barry Zito in Game 5 and Matt Cain in Game 7.

For Game 1 of the World Series, the Giants appeared to have picked up right where they left off, taking an early 1-0 lead thanks to a Pablo Sandoval homer off of Tigers ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first. In the bottom of the 3rd, Giants Outfielder Angel Pagan reached when what looked like a routine ground ball took an odd bounce off of 3rd base and squirted into shallow left field with two away. Pagan then came home on an RBI double from former Red Sox infielder Marco Scutaro, who the Giants picked up from Colorado in an unheralded midseason transaction. Scutaro's base hit gave the Giants another run and brough up Pablo Sandoval to the plate where he once more went yard on Justin Verlander to give San Francisco a 4-0 lead.

As it turns out, that would be all they would need for Game 1, but starter Barry Zito helped his own cause by adding to the lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the 4th and Sandoval would get his 3rd homer of the night- another solo shot in the bottom of the 5th to make it 6-0 Giants. The Tigers would get a run on a Miguel Cabrera RBI in the top of the 6th, but Detroit would answer with RBI base hits from Buster Posey and Marco Scutaro.

San Francisco would cruise to the easy 8-3 win in Game one with Barry Zito getting his first-ever win in the World Series and Pablo Sandoval becoming the 4th big leaguer to hit 3 home runs in a single World Series game, joining Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols.

On Thursday night, Game 2 of the 2012 World Series turned out to be more of a pitcher's duel with Giants starter Madison Bumgarner outlasting Detroit's Doug Fister- who took a line drive off of his noggin in the 2nd inning- in a 2-0 Tigers loss. Thursday night's win gives Detroit a 2-0 series lead. Fister was examined by doctors postgame and showed no additional symptoms of a concussion.

The series heads back to Detroit on Saturday, with Friday being a travel day for both teams and the media. Ryan Vogelsong [14-9; 3.37 ERA] gets the start for San Francisco against Detroit's Anibal Sanchez [9-13; 3.86 ERA] at Comerica Park. San Francisco backup catcher Hector Sanchez will reportedly be the NL Champion's designated hitter while playing in the American League ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 8:07 PM ET and the game will be nationally televised on FOX.

I think the image is pretty self-explanatory. AP Photo/Charles Krupa
BOSTON RED SOX- So barely a year after Terry Francona's departure from Boston, the Red Sox have decided to revisit the Francona epoch with the signing of Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell. Farrell was the Red Sox pitching coach between 2007 and 2010 before being hired on north of the border and was announced as the 46th manager in the club's history.

The Red Sox had also interviewed Brad Ausmus, DeMarlo Hale and Tim Wallach for the managerial spot. While this is sometimes done for show and the eventual favorite eventually gets hired anyway, there were some doubts as to whether or not Toronto would release Farrell from his contract. In his first season as the Blue Jays manager, the team had improved to 81-81, but in 2012 Toronto finished just a game ahead of the last place Red Sox and the Jays were more willing to part with him.

From the perspective of owner John Henry and GM Ben Cherrington, Farrell has the advantage of being familiar with some of the players and front office staff. The Red Sox had to part with infielder Mike Aviles in order to coax Toronto into releasing Farrell. The 50 year old former pitching coach still had a year remaining on his contract with the Blue Jays.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS- Former San Diego closer Heath Bell has made his way back to the NL West in a surprise move announced over the weekend.

Just one year into his 3 year, $27 million contract with the Florida Miami Marlins, Bell was traded to Arizona in exchange for infielder prospect Yordy Cabrera who came to Arizona in a deal with Oakland that sent outfielder Chris Young to that AL Team by the Bay.

The Marlins will also reportedly pay $8 million of the $21 million still owed on Bell's contract. JJ Putz would remain the D-Backs closer while Bell would move into a setup role.

Earlier in the month, there had been widespread speculation that the New York Yankees were looking to deal Alex Rodriguez after a disappointing performance in the postseason. The Marlins were considered a likely candidate since Rodriguez was from the area and the Yankees were willing to eat a large portion of his contract in order to deal the high-salaried infielder. Dealing Bell could fuel speculation that the Marlins are getting ready to clear salary cap space for a possible A-Rod deal, although the fact that Bell went 4-5 with a 5.09 ERA for the Marlins could mean that Miami was just willing to get rid of a relief pitcher who wasn't working out for them.

NCAA FOOTBALL- Four former Louisiana State University football players, including 2011 Heisman candidate Tyrann 'Honey Badger' Mathieu were arrested by police in Baton Rouge, LA on drug charges.

Mathieu was dismissed from LSU's football in August after violating the University's substance abuse policy. Mathieu was arrested along with former starting QB Jordan Jefferson and former DB's Karnell Hatcher and Derrick Bryant on multiple counts of drug pesession as well as posession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Police were responding to a call about an individual- later identified as Jefferson- forcing his way through a gate at an apartment complex in Baton Rouge. After exchanging words with a maintainence man, the police were called and knocked on the door of an apartment where Mathieu answered the door. Officers noticed the strong smell of marijuana. A search of the apartment yielded 10 bags of high-grade marijuana and a digital scale.

BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES- Georgia Tech picked up their 3rd win of the season after a 37-13 thumping of Boston College in Atlanta last weekend. This was the first contest since the Yellowjackets fired defensive coordinator Al Groh.

The Yellowjackets had built up a 31-3 lead on Boston College before QB Chase Rettig connected on two TD passes, one to Alex Amidon late in the 3rd and another to TE Chris Pantale, to make it 31-17, but Georgia Tech got the last word in with a late rushing TD from RB David Sims with just over 5 minutes to go in the 4th.

This upcoming weekend, BC will host Maryland at Chestnut Hill and try and snap its ACC losing streak, this time against the 4-3 Maryland Terrapins.

UMASS- With the exception of one close game at Foxborough, the UMASS Minutemen haven't had much more luck with the Mid-America conference than they've had with the other FBS programs they've faced in their first season as a FBS program.

The futility continued last Saturday when they committed 4 turnovers against the Bowling Green Falcons, including a pick and 48 yard return from Bowling Green LB Dwayne Woods. Bowling Green shuts out the Minutemen by a 24-0 final.

UMASS will travel to Music City for their final non-conference game of the 2012 season on Saturday- taking on Vanderbilt in Prime Time. The 0-7 Minutemen come in to Saturday night's contest as 32 point uderdogs. Kickoff is at 7:00 ET and will be streaming on ESPN3.

BIG EAST- After last Friday's 40-10 loss to Syracuse at the Carrier dome, the Huskies are in their bye week. The Huskies are 3-5 overall and 0-3 against Big East teams heading into their off week and will face the South Florida Bulls. Presently USF is the only Big East football team with a worse record than UConn- also sporting an 0-3 record in conference. USF will play the Pitt Panthers this weekend before their home game against the Huskies.

ELSEWHERE IN THE BIG EAST The Cincinnati Bearcats have been knocked from the ranks of the undefeated. Coming into last weekend's game, Cincinnati was ranked #21 in the nation.

And it was a MAC team that spoiled the party for Cincinnati, with the Toledo Zips getting out to an early lead against the Bearcats. The Bearcats briefly took a 19-20 lead before Toledo's Bernard Reedy retuned a kickoff 91 yards for a Rockets TD to put Toledo on top for good as they went on to win by a final of 29-23

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