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Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez has to be restrained after being ejected for arguing an interference call during the seventh inning of Game 6 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

SEC rankings

Auburn's loss Saturday hit me hard as a fan.

It reminded me of the pain — and irrationality of it — that all fans endure. Maybe we need that pain to remember how good the green times are.

Then again, Maybe not. Look at Alabama.

In fact, if we ever forget the greatness of Alabama's foundation under Lord Nick Saban, all we need to examine is the SEC transitive property from earlier this month.

UT smoked South Carolina, beating them in every phase and posting a 41-21 win even after the Gamecocks took a 7-0 lead 11 seconds into the game.

It was the same UT team that got pushed around by Georgia earlier in October.

It was the same South Carolina team that survived a slew of injuries and won at Georgia by being physical and taking advantage of Bulldogs miscues.

Alabama simply never has games like that. Never.

Be they at home or on the road, the Tide handle their BID-ness at a historic level, and last Saturday's smoke-show over Arkansas was not only impressive, it was completely and totally expected.

Alabama has won 89 consecutive games against unranked opponents.

So it goes, I guess, and so it will continue to go, as long as Lord Saban reigns.

1. LSU. The Tigers' résumé is better than the Tide's. That said, I believe Alabama will win next week and the order will be reshuffled again.  

2. Alabama. What adjective should we use that we haven't about this run for Alabama? How about this dual tandem description: Unbelievably consistent and consistently unbelievable. Did you know that Alabama has been ranked No. 1 at some point in every season under Nick Saban except his first year? Read that again.

3. Georgia. Press Row cohost David Paschall may want to squabble about the No. 3 team in the SEC between Georgia and Florida, but I still believe the Bulldogs are better. That said, this is a sneaky huge game for Mr. Kirby Smart, who is an undoubtedly excellent recruiter, but the whispers and wonderings are growing and spreading, asking the same thing: "Do we know how good a game-coach/in-season coach Kirby is?"  

4. Florida. Saturday should be a lot of fun. (Side note: Gatorman, one of the regulars around these parts, and I have a side wager on the Cocktail Party. Naturally the wager is some cocktails, a sixer of Co-Colas to be precise. I got the Dogs minus-3.5.) Speaking of the test for Kirby, who has a lot of pressure on him in this game on a lot of levels, I firmly believe Dan Mullen is an elite in-game-coach. Moreover, Dan Mullen believes Dan Mullen is an elite in-game-coach, and if he finds a way to topple Kirby in Jacksonville, I/m willing to bet another sixer of Co-Colas that he will be more than happy to talk about his in-game eliteness in the postgame celebration. Likely with a cigar in his mouth. "UT-CHATT-anooga."    

5. Auburn. Let's just move along. Auburn may have as many — or even more — defensive players drafted than any team in the country and they are going to finish their college careers in Nashville. Sigh.

Bottom

12. Mississippi State. If Joe Moorhead has not had contact about the Rutgers gig, maybe he should make contact about his next gig. Does it feel like they are starting to turn in Starkville, no?

13. Vandy. Did you know that Vandy's average outcome is 18.4 to 33.6? That's not good.

241. Arkansas. Wow, this is a bad football team. Like bottom-of-the-ACC bad.



World Series

Are "Game 7" truly the two best words in sports?

I say no. "World champs" and "national championship" are better, but "Game 7" in terms of general interest is pretty awesome in its awesomeness.

We get a Game 7 in the World Series tonight, and how we got there was filled with a slew of eye-popping intrigue moments in Tuesday's Game 6, which the Nats won 7-2.

> There was a controversial call on Trae Turner running out of the baseline toward first and being called out for interference. Thankfully it did not have an impact on the outcome. It did give us the first managerial ejection since Bobby Cox got booted in the 1996 series. There are a lot of things to discuss about that call — baseball's archaic replay rules and usage; the discussion about should it be called at all in that moment; our complete and total fascination with debating calls and officiating, because this play matters not much more than a misplayed grounder ruled a hit or an error or a wild pitch/pass ball debate in the grand scheme of things — and none of them were close to the top three or four most interesting things from last night.

> We had a guy — Alex Bregman — violate the "unwritten" rules of baseball by carrying his bat to first after hitting a homer. (Anyone else surprised that there have not been more Pedro Serrano references?) I had no problem with Bregman carrying his bat to first. But I think the unwritten rules are foolish in terms of home runs and length of trots and bat flips and such. Don't want someone to enjoy a big home run? Don't allow a big home run. And to be honest, Juan Soto's answer was way better than a heater to the back, as Soto smoked a tape-measure shot to right and carried his bat to first, as well. Not to make this a race or ethnicity thing, but I could not help but think how many people would have had kittens if it had been, say, Ronald Acuña Jr. who did what Bregman did.

> Speaking of him, Juan Soto is right there in the conversation with Acuña as the most fascinating player in the game for the next decade or so. Wow, what a talent, and this dude. Dude just turned 21 and he's 7-for-23 (.304) with three homers, six RBIs and five runs scored.

> And if the Nationals win it all tonight, it will be hard to think anyone other than Stephen Strasburg will be the MVP. He was simply lights out last night after Bregman's controversial first-inning dinger. Strasburg is in the midst of the greatest single postseason of any pitcher ever. Yes, ever. He got the win in relief in the must-have wildcard game. he got a win against the Dodgers, one more in the sweep against the Cards and now has two in the World Series. He's 5-0 in six playoff starts this October — a record for wins for a pitcher in a single postseason — and has pitched 36.1 innings with 47 strikeouts and a 1.98 ERA.

> On the other side, Justin Verlander is going to have to wear this. He's had seven World Series starts and he's now 0-6 with a 5.68 ERA. He was gassed last night, and according to Buster Olney he passed the 4,000-pitch mark this season.

> The unusual-ness of this series can't be overstated. First, the Nationals refuse to go away. Down to four outs and trailing the Brewers by two runs and facing the best reliever in the game, they rally. They rally to win the last two to bounce the Dodgers. They rallied to win Game 6 to force Game 7. The road team has won every game in this series, something that has never happened.  

> It now gives us a Game 7, which is cool. Did you know that this is the 40th Game 7 in World Series history and that the home team is 19-20 heading into tonight? All hands on deck. All clichés apply. There is no tomorrow. There is no overstating it.



NCAA moves, mind of

The NCAA gonna NCAA y'all.

Let's look at the NCAA playbook. No, not the rulebook, which is amazingly confusing and so obtuse it makes the Magna Carta read like a pamphlet.

The playbook is much shorter, much clearer and much easier to understand — at least the motives.

Drag your feet. Scream "Doomsday" about any possible change. Drag your feet some more. Cry about, in order, fairness across schools, equity between sexes and the nobility of student-athletes. Drag your feet some more. Sigh and do it anyway.

The NCAA has followed that playbook to the letter in terms of allowing athletes to cash in on their names, images and likenesses (NIL).

The NCAA voted — unanimously — to allow athletes to cash in on their NIL as soon as it can come up with a universal rule structure across all levels of sports. While that sounds like a noble plan and an understandable stance, when it comes from the NCAA those sentiments are simply not applicable.

The NCAA is in the position it's in because states across the country have threatened to make it legal for in-state students to do this. That would mean some schools could do it and others couldn't, which would actually be unfair.

But the NCAA is stalling right now, and according to Jay Bilas, called North Carolina and Florida elected officials to see if this would end the bills in those statehouses.

The NCAA was told no, so this is happening against the wishes of the NCAA.

But the "This will end college sports as we know it" argument is becoming ridiculous.

Expanding the field to four in college football did not kill it. Paying players a stipend did not kill the model. Making sure the players had full-time food did not bankrupt anyone.  

In fact, Bilas, a renowned supporter of paying the athletes, said on "Golic or Wingo" this morning: "The NCAA is saying, 'We're going to provide WiFi, but only in Amish country.'"

As for the added food services after Kemba Walker complained a few years ago about going to bed without food, Bilas dead-panned, "Everyone needs to be malnutritioned or it's not fair to the other programs."

And then wonder if any fans ever stated, "I'm not watching these overfed athletes play; they should be hungry."

It's coming NCAA — the deadline was set by 2021 — no matter how much you drag your feet. The NCAA should embrace it and find a way to do it as fairly as possible.

I'm not holding my breath, by the way.



This and that

— They changed the classic "A-B-C" song and it is dreadfully bad. Oh, my, is it terrible.

— This is from David Purdum of ESPN.com and his numbers are from SuperBookUSA: LSU at Alabama (-7, 64); Georgia (-1.5) at Auburn; Penn St at Ohio St (-14.5); Ohio State (-13) at Michigan; Alabama (-10.5) at Auburn. I'll go ahead and go against Auburn on both of those numbers now. Like right NOW.

— Anthony Davis went 40-20 in the Lakers' win last night. You know sometimes we talk about stats being misleading and lists being meaningless. The reverse is true about lists, too. If you are a golfer and make a list in which it's you, Tiger and Jack, that's a cool list. IF you and The Babe are on a list that is not about hot dogs and cold brews, that's a good list. Anthony Davis is the sixth Lakers player to go 40-20, the rest of the list is Elgin Baylor (34 times), Wilt Chamberlain (5), George Mikan (4), Shaq O'Neal (2) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2). That's a strong list of names, folks. (And who knew that Elgin Baylor went 40-20 34 stinkin' times?)

— Rest easy John Witherspoon, the scene-stealing father from the classic "Friday" with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. "Don't nobody go in the bathroom for about 35 to 45 minutes. Somebody open a window."



Today's questions

Which Way Wednesday will switch paths this morning.

You offer some "Which way Wednesdays" in the comments or email, and I'll answer them around lunch.

As for today, Oct. 30, the "Rumble in the Jungle" happened 45 years ago today.

The War of the Worlds (written by H.G. Wells) radio gag by Orson Welles happened on this day in 1938.

Rushmore of Wells/Welles, and yes, Wells Guthrie is a contender.

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