Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fall Back Sports Chowdah Upate- Red Sox Love A Parade, Lose the Beards; Steelers Buckle In Foxborough; Hokies Experience Technical Difficulties At Chestnut Hill

WORLD SERIES- Several days after announcing that the Red Sox had won the 2013, I should probably get into some of the details on exactly HOW it all went down in Game 6.

If the Red Sox were to clinch their first World Series title at home since 1918, the had the somewhat daunting task of getting past Cardinals rookie sensation Michael Wacha- the phenom who was previously undefeated in the 2013 postseason. Wacha would go up against John Lackey, who had earned similar accolades with the Angels in the World Series 11 years ago.

Intent on taking a quick lead, the Cardinals came out swinging against Lackey in the top of the first. Although Carpenter, Beltran and Holliday hit the ball hard, they went in order with a flyball to left and two groundouts up the first base side of the infield.

Meanwhile, Wacha made quick work of the first two batters he faced before walking David Ortiz. Mike Napoli would then strike out to end the inning. In the top of the second, Lackey gave up back to back singles to Allen Craig and Yadier Molina, putting runners on first and second before getting matt Adams to fly out to left and Freese to fly out to right field. Craig and Molina would advance to second and third on a wild pitch with two away before Lackey got Jon Jay to strike out and end the Cardinals threat.

In the bottom of the second, the Red Sox would also get the first two batters on base thanks to a single from Johnny Gomes and a walk to Shane Victorino before getting Bogaerts and Drew to pop out and David Ross to strike out swinging to end the Red Sox threat.

While Wacha appeared to be laboring, the veteran Lackey was settling in, getting Descalso to strike out followed by a single to Matt Carpenter before Carlos Beltran grounded into a double play.

Unlike Game 2, the Red Sox would finally break through in the bottom of the 3rd. Jacoby Ellsbury led of the inning with a single before advancing to second on a Pedroia groundout. Erring on the side of caution, the Cardinals decided to intentionally walk David Ortiz and it appeared to pay immediate dividends as Wacha struck Napoli out. With two away, Gomes kept the inning alive for Boston after getting hit by a pitch- the first batter Wacha hit by a pitch in the entire playoffs.

With no score and two away, this loaded the bases for Victorino. The inning could end with one swing of the bat.....

....or clear the bases and put the Red Sox up 3-0. The inning ended when Bogaerts lined out to 3rd base, but that damage had been done and the Sox batters had rattled Wacha. The Cardinals would threaten with one away in the top of the 4th with an Allen Craig single and Molina reaching base safely on a rare Pedroia error before getting Adams to line out and David Freese to strike out to end the inning. Earlier in the day, President Obama was in town giving a pep rally to try and sell wavering supporters on the merits of the Affordable Care Act after a disastrous rollout. However, a slumping Stephen Drew would provide insurance in a much more tangible and useful form by leading off the bottom of the 4th with a solo homer that soared into the Red Sox bullpen to give Boston a 4-0 lead. David Ross would then strike out before Ellsbury doubled to deep right field, advancing to 3rd on a flyout by Pedroia.

Once again, the Cardinals intentionally walked David Ortiz before Wacha was pulled for Lance Lynn. Napoli brought Ellsbury home with an RBI single before walking Gomes. Victornio then singled to shallow left, bringing Big Papi home to make it a 6-0 game. After failing to get a single out, Cards maanger Mike Matheney brought Seth Manness out of the bullpen where he got Xander Bogaerts to strike out swinging to end the Red Sox rally. Lackey, meanwhile, looked as though he was cruising until the bottom of the 7th inning with two away before giving up a single to Descalso, followed by a Carpenter double to left before Carlos Beltran go the Cards on the board with an RBI single before Beltran advanced to second. After some back and forth between Lackey and Farrell in which the Red Sox manager wanted to pull the starter, Lackey stayed in against Matt Holliday before walking him. That was enough for Farrell and he brought Junichi Tazawa out of the bullpen to face Allen Craig- with one swing of the bat, Craig could've made it a 1-run game, but instead Craig grounded out to first to end the Cardinals threat.

Red Sox fans old enough to remember the 1986 World Series know the folly out counting down the remaining outs in the World Series, but Workman came out in the top of the 8th and got all three batters he faced out before Koji Uehara came out in the 9th. Jay and Descalso flied out to left, bringing up Matt Carpenter as the Cardinals last hope to prolong the series.

With Uehara's strikeout of Carpenter, the Red Sox won their first World Series at Fenway Park since 1918 [the two most recent titles were clinched at Colorado's Coors Field and the old Busch Stadium in St Louis- NANESB!]. The Red Sox win the World Series, besting the St Louis Cardinals 4 games to two- their third World Series title since 2004.

Meanwhile, Big Papi was named the World Series MVP with 2 homers, 6 RBI and 8 walks in the world series, reaching safely in nine consecutive plate appearances at one point while boasting a .688 BA and .760 OBP. Big Papi is also the only player on the current Red Sox roster who was on the team for the three most recent Red Sox WS titles.

Charles Krupa- AP

The Red Sox were honored with a parade featuring the Duck Boats over the weekend- the parade route [or 'rolling rally' if you prefer the scientific term- NANESB!] took the Red Sox past the Boston Marathon finish line- site of the terrorist bombings back in April that killed three and injured hundreds.

As the weekend continued, David Ortiz and Shane Victorino had their beards shaved off during a promotion at Gillette headquarters [shades of the 2004 'idiots'- NANESB] along with Boston police officer Steve Horgan who gained a degree of stardom when he was stationed in the Red Sox bullpen during Game 2 of the ALCS and was shown triumphantly pumping both fists in the air as Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter tumbled over the wall attempting to run down a Big Papi grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS.

On Sunday, Victorino, Matt Thornton, Jon Lester, Will Middlebrooks, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Stephen Drew, John McDonald and Johnny Gomes paid a visit to Gillette stadium in Foxboro for a pregame ceremony before the Patriots took on the Steelers- continuing a rich tradition of championship Boston teams visiting other sporting venues as part of the celebration.

Before the Ducks were even fired up, the hot stove talk began when Jacoby Ellsbury's agent Scott Boras said that at least 11 teams had expressed an interest in signing the free agent outfielder. Fox Sports baseball writer Ken Rosenthal reported last month that the Seattle Mariners and Texas Ranger were among Ellsbury's potential free-agent suitors- Seattle making sense if the 2011 gold glove winning outfielder and Oregon native wanted to be close to home in any way. Shortstop Stephen Drew is also a Boras client- Boras has a fairly long and acrimonious history with the Red Sox front office, particularly during the 2005 offseason when then-free agent client Johnny Damon went from the Red Sox to the Yankees, despite multiple offers by Boston.

On Monday, the Red Sox made qualifying offers of $14.1 million for one year to Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli.

Charles Krupa- AP
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS- Any other year and this would've been the marquee matchup of the week, but the Pittsburgh Steelers came into Sunday afternoon's game at Foxborough sporting an underwhelming 2-5 record.

After taking a 24-10 lead into halftime, it appeared as though the Patriots would romp to a fairly east win, but the Steelers were able to tie the game pretty quickly in the 4th quarter thanks to two TD passes from QB Ben Roethlisberger to make it a 24-24 game. With just over 2 and a half minutes to go, New England retook the lead thanks to a 32 yard Gostkowski FG.

The Patriots wrapped up the 3rd quarter with excellent field position thanks to a 43 yard punt return by Julian Edelman, giving New England the ball on the Steelers 34 and five plays later, Brady connected with WR Aaron Dobson for a 17 yard TD pass to put New England up 34-24.

After forcing the Steelers to go 3 and out, the Patriots got the ball back on their own 39 yard line and the Patriots were once again able to move the ball deep into Pittsburgh territory [thanks to a penalty that cost Pittsburgh 20+ yards as well- NANESB!] before Stevan Ridley was able to punch it in on a 5 yard TD run to make it 41-24.

Although the Steelers pulled back to within 10 on their next possession- a 3 minute TD Drive that started from their own 20, the Patriots struck back quickly from inside their own 20 with just over 5 minutes left in the ballgame when Brady connected with Dobson on an 81 yard TD pass to make it 48-31. Patriots safety Duron Harmon would then pick off Roethlisberger at midfield with 3:19 left in the game, setting up a TD run for RB LeGarrette Blount to open up a 55-31 lead on Pittsburgh.

After the Steelers managed to tied the contest coming out of halftime, the Patriots open up a 23 point lead on them and never looked back- going on to win by a 55-31 final. Tom Brady goes 23-33 with 4 TDs and 432 yards on the day while Roethlisberger went 28-48 with 400 yards, 4 TDs and 2 interceptions in the losing effort.

The Patriots wrap up week 9 with a 7-2 record and head into the bye week in first place in the AFC East before facing the 5-3 Carolina Panthers on Monday night football on November 18th.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AFC EAST- The Miami Dolphins are in the news once again, but for all the wrong reasons. Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin abruptly left the team for unspecified reasons before their October 31st game against Cincinnati. The Miami Herald then reported that Martin left due to ongoing harassment and threats from teammates- led primarily by veteran guard Richie Incognito.

The word 'bullying' gets used way too much in this hypersensitive epoch, but if the allegations against Incognito are true [and some of these texts and phone messages have been documented- NANESB!] then Incognito's conduct clearly crosses the line from hazing the rookie to borderline extortion.

Not only did Incognito send the bi-racial Martin text and voicemail messages threatening his mother and making copious use of racial slurs [reportedly in jest- NANESB!], but Martin was reportedly pressured into shelling out $15,000 to his teammates for an unofficial junket to Las Vegas- a trip that Martin didn't even take.

While veteran players sticking rookies with the bill is a time-honored tradition [usually a one-time deal- NANESB!] the Miami Herald is reporting that veteran Dolphins players have been sticking rookies with bills for team dinners that run in excess of $30,000. The NFL minimum salary for a rookie is right around $400,000.

On Sunday, the Dolphins announced that Incognito was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. The suspension comes after a Ft Lauderdale paper reported that Miami coaches asked Incognito to 'toughen up' Martin after the younger player missed a voluntary practice on the offseason.

EVEN MORE AFC EAST NEWS- The Kansas City Chiefs remain the NFL's only undefeated team after Week 9. The Chiefs faced the Bills in Orchard Park, NY on Sunday and after the Bills kicked a game-tying field goal late in the 3rd, the Chiefs pulled ahead for good on a Tamba Hali fumble recovery that was run back for 6 points early in the 4th to make it a 20-13 win. Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop made it a 10-point game late in the 4th with a FG, ultimately giving the Chiefs the 23-13 win.

HOUSTON TEXANS- Houston head coach Gary Kubiak was released from the hospital on Tuesday after a series of tests determined he suffered a transient ischemic attack- or 'mini-stroke'- on Sunday.

Kubiak collapsed on the Texans sideline at halftime during Sunday night's nationally televised game against the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Although responsive, Kubiak was wheeled into an ambulance and hospitalized. In the second half, the Colts would rally from a 21-3 deficit to win by a 27-24 final.

With Kubiak out indefinitely, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was named interim coach this week. The Texans will travel to Arizona to take on the 4-4 Cardinals this weekend.

Ed Wolfstein- USA Today
NCAA FOOTBALL- With much of Boston basking in yet another Boston championship parade on Saturday, it seemed as though many had forgotten that there was some football to be played in Chestnut Hill. The Eagles had come into Saturday's home game against Virginia Tech having dropped two out of their last three games, including two against ACC opponents. Meanwhile, the Hokies were showing up after a 13-10 loss to Duke at home but had won the last five of their contests against Boston College.

RB Andre Williams got the Eagles on the board with two and a half minutes remaining in the first thanks to a 19 yard TD run before Virginia Tech tied it up on a Trey Edmunds TD run with 6:21 to go in the first half. The Hokies would then head into the locker room with a 10-7 lead.

For the Hokies first possession of the second half, QB Logan Thomas was picked off at midfield by Eagles CB Manny Asparilla and returned inside the Virginia Tech red zone. Despite starting out at the Hokies 15 yard line, the Eagles were only able to come away with 3 points- Nate Freese's FG tied the game at 10-10. The game headed into the 4th with the Hokies and Eagles knotted up at 20-20 when turnovers would once again cost Virginia Tech.

Logan Thomas ends up throwing a pick 6 to Kevin Pierre Louis, putting Boston College up 27-20. On their next drive, Virginia Tech got as far as the Boston College 38 before turning it over on an incomplete pass on 4th and 6. From their own 38, Andre Williams ran 62 yards to put the Eagles up 34-20 with 4:51 left.

It seemed like a fairly secure lead, but after a 49 yard kickoff return the Hokies took all of 90 seconds to come back within a touchdown when the drive was capped with a 22 yard TD catch from Logan Thomas to Trey Edmunds with 3 minutes to go in regulation to cut the Eagles lead to 34-27. Boston College didn't help out their own cause when they went three and out from their own 25, kicking off on 4th and 3. After burning their timeouts, Freese kicked off and the Hokies got the ball back on their own 28. However, on 4th and 4, Logan Thomas would fumble the ball and Boston College would recover and run out the clock.

Boston College goes on to win by the final of 34-27, their second ACC win of the season. Next week, the Eagles will travel to southern New Mexico to take on the New Mexico State Aggies. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 PM at Las Cruces, NM.

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