Just a little help staying ahead of the sports world learning curve heading back into the work week:
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy avoids Missouri defensive back E.J. Gaines while running for a short gain during the second half of Saturday’s game in Columbia, Mo. The Crimson Tide won 42-10 to improve to 6-0 and take the top spot in the first BCS poll of the season.
1. The first BCS poll tells us things we already sorta knew — Alabama is on a roll, the Big Ten has no worthy candidates (mostly because 6-0 Ohio State is ineligible), and USC is afloat at 10th, third-best in the Pac-12 (and, interestingly, better than the No. 11 spot they have in the AP tabulation). Then there are things we really can’t compute — the Big 12 has seven teams in the Top 25, matching the SEC? Florida State sits at No. 14, despite the fact the Harris Poll has the Seminoles eighth and the USA Today coaches’ poll has them 10th, but the six computers give them an average of 28th, with only one having them in the Top 25? Oregon might be No. 2 in the two human polls, but the computers push Florida past the Ducks because of an average of No. 6 on the computers (the range there is anywhere from No. 3 and 10). Things have plenty of time to shake loose. The Ducks are saving their quacks with a back-loaded schedule, which could be more beneficial if it is to reach the title game against Alabama (which, despite unanimously seeming to be No. 1, is bizarrely only No. 5 on the Anderson & Hester data card, behind Florida, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon State). Sounds like those two nerds have some explaining to do. The Trojans are scattered anywhere between No. 6 and No. 15 on the computers. Not to be a half-empty guy, but the season’s only half-done. Too much system overloads will likely take place.
2. From top to bottom — and you don’t have to very far to hit bottom — the NFC West remains the strongest division in the NFL, and that’s after San Francisco got thumped by the visiting N.Y. Giants and Arizona had a chance to win in regulation but failed to hold off Buffalo in OT. The same division that had a 7-9 team claim the division championship two years ago has four teams at .500 or better and a combined 11-2 record at home – yes, both those losses came Sunday. Seattle’s squeezing New England is the one that should get everyone’s attention. Especially fans of the 3-3 Patriots who might remember when Pete Carroll was coaching their team.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Detroit Tigers’ Omar Infante dives back into second as New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano reaches to tag him in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the American League championship series on Sunday. Infante was called safe on the play by umpire Jeff Nelson. Below, Yankees manager Joe Girardi argues with Nelson before getting ejected.
3. The umpires aren’t the reason why the Jeter-needy New York Yankees are in an 0-2 hole against the Tigers in the American League Championship Series heading back to Detroit. (Start with the combined .112 batting average that A-Rod, Cano, Swisher and the Grandy Man have so far in the post season — with 38 whiffs). But that’s how it’s going to sound from irritated Bronx fans who become sudden proponents of televised replays helping to get the calls right.
“In this day and age there is too much at stake, and the technology is available,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “That’s what our country has done. We have evolved technology to make things better.” Rewind his comments again. He makes perfect sense. And nothing’s going to change. At least not tomorrow. Former Yankees (and Dodgers) manager Joe Torre, now the MLB executive VP of baseball operations, would be just as irked if this happened to him. But on the other side of the argument, Torre says that the league is “looking into it. . . We have to make sure we don’t make a knee-jerk reaction to something that’s, you know, already we settle this tag play at second base, and all of a sudden we find, you know, something else comes up and something else comes up, and the game goes on and on forever and forever.” Sort of like his response.
4. Joe Buck has some motor skills. The Fox play-by-play man was already scheduled to be in San Francisco to call the 49ers-New York Giants’ NFL game Sunday, with a 1 p.m. kickoff at Candlestick Park. But after the St. Louis Cardinals rallied to knock out the Washington Nationals on Friday in the NLDS, that meant the San Francisco Giants was the highest seeded NL team, so Game 1 of the National League Championship Series would be played Sunday at AT&T Park — a 5 p.m. start, also on Fox. Buck signed off at the end of the 49ers loss at 4:27 p.m., found his way to a cable car, and made the trek to the China Basin in time for the 5:15 p.m. first pitch of the baseball game. Studio pregame host Matt Vasgersian called the Fox aerial coverage of Buck’s journey “part Steve McQueen, part Rose Bowl parade.” Then the Giants went ahead and lost to the Cardinals, 6-4, meaning Buck shouldn’t expect any more favors from anyone related to Bay Area Rapid Transit during the rest of the NLCS.
5. NHL lockout beards aren’t nearly as enjoyable as NHL playoff beards. They tend to itch much more. They’re grayer. And they don’t give you any discounts if you’re so lonely for a hockey game that you zip East on the 10 Freeway and end up attending an Ontario Reign game. The Kings’ double-A East Coast Hockey League affiliate got thumped, 4-0, against the Stockton Thunder in their home opener on Saturday. Next up: The San Francisco Bulls on Wednesday. Good tickets starting at 10 bucks (or $50 on the glass, plus a $3 facilities fee and $9.25 “convenience fee”) are still available.
== And our top photo(s) of the weekend:
(AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Ben Spies of the U.S. falls off his Yamaha during the MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan at Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Motegi, north of Tokyo, on Sunday.