by Tom Weppel
TALE OF FOUR CITIES
In Major League Baseball, there are a number of franchises who carry a strong heritage of tradition, history, and prowess. Of the four teams still playing the Championship Series, the Dodgers and Red Sox easily carry this mantra. With it comes a feeling of expectation and respect for their teams playing. Boston of course leads the way, having won two World Series in this decade. The Dodgers have also won the title a number of times, and the men who have worn Dodger Blue are legendary.
Then you have the Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. While Philadelphia has had a squad for about a century, the team doesn’t have a complete sense of tradition behind it, compared to a number of other clubs. And of course the Rays are babies in this whole thing, struggling mightily to even keep a FEW select fans interested in their playing the game in the Tampa area.
So when the Phillies and Rays each took 3-1 leads in their Championship Series against the Dodgers and Red Sox, respectively, you can imagine the total sense of disbelief, awe, and wonderment as to what exactly is happening in Los Angeles and Boston.
When their series started, fans of the Dodgers and Red Sox were already gearing themselves up in anticipation for a chance to play in the World Series classic. They figured it was already a done deal! Meanwhile, Philly fans were simply hoping their team wouldn’t suck TOO badly, and the Tampa fans need a booklet just to understand why the Rays were still playing! Hell…in the divisional Series against the White Sox, the Rays didn’t even sell out their games!
So, having said all this, please understand why I tell you I can’t believe what I’m seeing in Tampa, along with every other solid baseball fan in the United States of America. This team, led by Manager Joe Maddon, is simply kicking ass! They are getting great hitting out of a number of players, including 3B Evan Longoria, CF BJ Upton, LF Carl Crawford, and 1B Carlos Pena. Their pitching staff is doing a very strong, solid job, limiting opposing teams to only a few runs every so often. And the Phillies are playing their part as well, making a lot of people actually believe they are good enough and deserve a chance to play to their potential.
To say the Dodgers and Red Sox are playing in the World Series brings a total sense of warmth, excitement, and appreciation of tradition. To say Philadelphia and Tampa Bay are playing in the World Series is unbelievable! Maybe I’m wrong on this. Please comfort me if I am!
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Let’s see….last week, the Rams, having not won a game yet this season, go into Washington to play a 4-1 Redskin squad that just went to Dallas and Philadelphia, and beat their Division rivals on the road. No ONE thought the Rams could win! Yet they did, on a last minute FG. Then, on Monday night, the hapless, homestanding 1-3 Cleveland Browns take on the undefeated, powerful New York Giants. Everyone is anticipating a Browns slaughter! But no…Giants QB Eli Manning throws three INT’s, and New York loses their first game of the season. This is getting to be crazy! I guess I should simply lower my belief and trust in the previous play of any NFL team when they are going into weekend play. Screw the trends! So, with that said, should I forecast the 1-4 Chiefs beating up the 5-0 Titans? Should I expect the 1-4 Seahawks go to Tampa Sunday night without starting QB Matt Hasselbeck and beat the Bucs?! C’mon! This is ridiculous!
Two teams STILL have yet to win this season. The 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals will host the rough, tough 4-1 Pittsburgh Steelers. Cincy will once again play without injured starting QB Carson Palmer. My feeling is that Pittsburgh should win this one convincingly. Meanwhile, the 0-5 Detroit Lions go on the road to play the Houston Texans, who won their first game of the year last week against the Dolphins. I don’t know what to say about that one, except to wish both teams the best of luck!
The Jaguars are off this week after a nice win on the road against the Broncos. At 3-3, we have seen nothing but inconsistent play out of this Jacksonville team, and so it’ll be interesting to see what they do for the rest of their year.
To show you how far two college football programs have fallen from their respective high pedestals, the Miami Hurricanes, who are nothing more than a bunch of kids with ‘U’s’ on their helmets, yelling but not playing very well, go to face Duke University; a team that is 3-2 right now! In the past, though, there have been season when the Blue Devils have won even ONE game! Miami is favored by only five points in this contest. If Duke beats them, then Randy Shannon should be fired on the spot!
Meanwhile, Rich Rodriguez is living a total, complete nightmare in is first year as Head Coach at Michigan. (Meanwhile, the fans at his former stead in West Virginia are loving it!) His Wolverines lost AT HOME last week, 13-10 to a Toledo squad that was 1-4 and had lost to Florida International! Can I say that Michigan sucks and still be respected?
The Maize-and-Blue go to play undefeated Penn State this weekend. At the beginning of the season, you never would’ve expected the Nittany Lions to be THREE TD favorites for this game, but that’s the line right now. If Michigan loses this one, they will fall to 2-5 and be in danger of not being Bowl-eligible for the first time in 33 years!
One other note…Southern Cal plays at 1-6 Washington State this weekend. The Trojans go in as a 42-point favorite! So, if you are betting on the Trojans to win, they must score more than seven touchdowns! Its not impossible by any means, but that’s a lot of points, folks.
by Tom Weppel