OK, Kentucky let me down on the "Plays of the Day," but that’s not the takeaway this morning.
And UK has more and more frequently come up short in these types of hard-fought, back-and-forth, need-one-more-big-play-or-made-free-throw grudge matches. For so long that fell into the one-and-done umbrella. That’s no longer apropos considering the experience on this Big Blue roster.
It’s one of the reasons that UK has not been to a Final Four since Obama was in office.
If that continues to happen, UK will again disappoint come March.
It also was a statement moment for Michigan State, which has a slew of nice pieces — that team was unranked to start the season? — including some tough-minded guards and an array of skill sets among its frontcourt.
And that shouldn’t have happened.
It also was clear that Tom Izzo coached the whistle off John Calipari last night. He drew up a slew of inbound plays on both ends that led to money-time buckets that extended the game in regulation and overtime. And in truth, I think Calipari’s consistent whining on the sideline has a negative impact on his players, who follow that lead.
Are we surprised that happened?
It also was apparent that UK has a loaded roster and Oscar Tshiebwe is going to be a handful for all comers. When the ball is falling and things get rolling quickly and matters are not mentally challenging for these Wildcats, they are going to post a slew of impressive 98-62 wins over quality foes.
So don’t be surprised when that happens.
No, my biggest takeaway from last night’s marquis college basketball early season introduction is a familiar one around these parts.
Unless you play a double-overtime classic like Michigan State and UK did, regular-season college basketball simply does not matter. And maybe that’s why MSU wanted this game more. It was unranked. It could be convinced that a win against UK would be a feather in its cap come selection time, but come on. MSU has made 24 straight tournaments, and unless the wheels fall off — looking at you Louisville, and hey, Syracuse — they are in too.
(Side note: This is where Doug feverishly heads to the keyboard to write something about some mid-level SEC team. It apparently just means more to Doug. But it sure looks to me like the mid-level struggles are commonplace across the Power Five.)
The UK-MSU game was great and aesthetically euphoric, and it kept my attention for all of the second half and overtimes. But that is such an exception to the rank-and-file games that fill our calendar from now until Valentine’s Day.
I’m not sure there is an answer. And maybe this is my windmill, so maybe no one else cares. (It also is my extreme worry about the expansion of college football’s playoff to be honest.)
Moreover, I’m not sure there is a way to make these kinds of games mean something because the system is designed to make March more meaningful.
So thanks for the effort Wildcats and Spartans. It was a treat.
Especially this time of year.
What the bleep was that MLB voters?
First, the mildly egregious decision. Terry Francona as manager of the year in the AL? OK, he’s swell and all. And the Guardians of the Cleveland galaxy had a great run.
But the Guardians are good and were contenders from the start. Plus, they benefited from Tony LaRussa sleeping at the switch (literally) as a heavily favored Chicago team made their fans say all summer, “Darn those Sox.”
Which is not unlike what the “Three Amigos” advised to the people of Santo Poco when they told them “Sew like the wind.” (Side note: “Three Amigos” is amazingly underrated. It’s right there with “Spies Like Us” on the extreme end of underappreciated 1980s comedies.)
Francona’s perseverance through multiple concerns in recent years is noble and inspiring. But his selection is doubly offensive when you look at the resumé of Baltimore’s Brandon Hyde.
Hyde had the Orioles — a team whose 2022 26-man payroll was less than $23 million, or what Dansby Swanson wants per year for the next five-plus — into playoff contention until the final week of the season.
Hyde’s Orioles finished 83-79 after losing 110 games in 2021, a 31-game turnaround. And if you are curious, the last MLB team to finish with a winning record a year after losing 110 or more was the St. Louis Perfectos in 1899.
And that’s not as bad a choice as picking the Mets’ Buck Showalter over Atlanta skipper Brian “The Snit” Snitker, who you know, actually out-coached Buck as the Braves reeled in and passed the Mets.
So there’s that.
So there’s a great quote from “Hoosiers” — actually there are a slew of great quotes from “Hoosiers” — but when Donald Trump took the podium last night to announce he’s running for president in 2024, an exchange from George to Coach Dale entered my head.
“Look mister,” George says plainly, “there’s two kinds of dumb. The guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and the guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don’t matter, the second one you’re kind of forced to deal with.”
I have been content in ignoring Trump’s antics for quite awhile, since in my mind, he’s been barking at the MAGA moon among his fading snow of supporters for most of the last year.
Now, though, his MAGAGA crew — which is either an acronym for “Make America Great And Glorious Again” or a shoutout to Lady Gaga’s momma — is back in my living room. Sadly.
Granted, Trump’s stump speech last night hit a lot of notes that rang positively with those of us frustrated by the current state of the economy and frustrating state of our nation.
Still, in a political landscape view, last night was bad news for conservative Americans — especially financially conservative Americans.
Because there’s a hard belief I have that I think is tough to argue: With the possible exception of Ron DeSantis, I do not think a Republican candidate wants to run against Trump or has the fortitude to outlast him. That’s problem No. 1 for conservatives, and it leads to problem No. 2, which is worse.
The most surefire way to get Joe Biden a second term is for the Republicans to nominate Donald Trump.
Which goes back to the ludicrousness of Trump and his crew saying anyone but them is a RINO — Republican in name only — is such a farce.
Because in the current climate — and with the projections for the economy over the final half of Biden’s term — the only Republican that Biden would beat is Trump, who would lose moderate voters, almost all independents and again galvanize the Democrats.
This is the ultimate example of putting person over party.
This and that
— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall on UT QB Hendon Hooker closing in on a Heisman invitation. I know we make a lot of picks around these parts, but if memory serves I was rather bullish on Hooker’s Heisman chances at 60-to-1 before the season. CHA-ching.
— You know the rules again. Here’s Paschall on the college football playoff committee’s rankings that have UT hovering at 5 and LSU looming at 6. There’s trouble brewing for the committee with those two if LSU wins out, including an SEC title win over Georgia, especially if TCU wins out. Because if the choice is an SEC champion and two-loss LSU or a non-division winning, one-loss Tennessee, which hammered the Tigers in Red Stick, well, that gets dicey because head-to-head has to count and it’s hard to see a college football playoff happening without the SEC champion invited.
— Kentucky stumbling cost the "Plays of the Day" but Ohio delivered and with the odds boost, we made a little coin Tuesday. See you this afternoon.
— TVA is giving out $161 million to its employees for “winning performances.” Hey bonuses are super. I wish newspapers gave bonuses. What exactly is a bonus again? Anywell, here's a confusing part for me. TVA says its rates have been stable over the last three years, but my power bill is higher than ever and when we called to inquire EPB said they are being charged more and more by TVA. So, which is it exactly — a federal agency or a local one, both run by Democratic leaders — that is jacking my rates?
OK, so which way Wednesday starts this way:
Since we have the above reference and we missed Monday as the 36th anniversary of the release of the best basketball movie ever made, which Hickory Huskers player not named Jimmy was most important to the title run?
Which is the greatest called play or move in sports movie history, the picket fence from “Hoosiers,” the annexation of Puerto Rico from “Little Giants,” the triple Lindy from “Back to School” or the crane kick from “Karate Kid” and if you have another nomination, fire away?
Which is more important for being in the college football playoff, head-to-head or winning a conference title?
That’s some heavy Which Ways, but have at it.
As for today, Nov. 16, let’s review.
Disney launched EPCOT on this day in 1965. Did you know that EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow?
Dwight Gooden is 58 today. Wow, maybe the biggest shoulda been of my lifetime. At the apex of his powers before drugs and whatnot, young Dwight was Bob Gibson-esque.
On this day in 1824, Fifth Avenue in NYC opens for business.
Rushmore of Fifth and be creative. Also remember the mailbag.