CAPE SAN BLAS, Fla. — Hope your days have been swell.
Above is a picture from the Mrs. 5-at-10 at sunrise own here. (Side note: Chas, it was an 80-to-400 mm lens and she was shooting at 400 mm. I am quoting her fairly and accurately — hat tip to Almost Famous — but will have to relay any future questions because it is beyond my area of expertise. Uh-oh, theme show alert, because there are few movies I surprisingly enjoy more and that are amazingly 100 percent rewatchable as "Almost Famous" which turned 20 years old last month.)
We will try to move more quickly today. But, again, you know how that goes.
So with the breeze whistling and the waves crashing, from the satellite offices off of 30E in Florida, let's do this.
Is this possible?
"It's all here. It's happening." The Braves have a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. Five games to win two. Against a team spending twice as much as you, with two MVP winners in the lineup, with the greatest pitcher of his generation waiting to get the ball, and with an all-time run-differential in a 43-17 regular season.
How staggering is this conceptually? In the abbreviated 60-game season, the Dodgers lost back-to-back games four times, were the biggest LCS favorites (on the money line) since the peak of Jeter's Yankees
And here are the Braves, up 2-0 after some ninth-inning magic in Game 1 and a ninth-inning high-wire act in Game 2.
But forget what the talking heads at the Fox studios were blabbing — the Braves have every bit of momentum, should feel overwhelmingly confident, and enjoy the relaxed swagger of playing with a supreme cushion.
Some Game 2 takeaways, and thoughts about today's Game 3, which is simply win or wither for the Dodgers:
> The Dodgers did not lose three games in a row at any point in 2020. If tonight checks that box, then good night and enjoy the offseason, L.A. That's right Dodgers, one more L, and "Your seats and tray tables should be locked in their full upright position."
> Clayton Kershaw is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, who may have the worst postseason numbers, luck and legacy of any sure-fire Hall of Famer.
> What's the ceiling for Freddie Freeman's popularity in the A-T-L? We'll explore this in a moment.
> Ian Anderson has pitched 15.1 postseason innings and has allowed the same number of postseason runs as Ron. That's impressive.
> Kyle Wright gets a pressure-free freebie that has to feel like being a stand-in for a Broadway play that has just been renewed for another season.
> How excited as a Braves fav must you be to know what the future — immediate and foreseeable holds.
Let's explore this for a moment:
Freeman is well on the way to an MVP this season (and likely multiple over his career) and speeding down the Cooperstown path. In a decade of being a full-time guy (that's closer to nine season because of an injury in 2017 and COVID), he's at .295/.383/.509 in an era when averages are not as important. Plus, his 162-game average is a staggering 39 2Bs, 28 HRs and 99 RBIs per. He's a Gold Glove-level defender. He is signed through next season and with more than $111 million in career earnings, you would have to expect team and player wanthim to be a Brave for Life, no?
Ronald Acuña Jr. is as exciting as they come. And while we are here, can we let Acuña be Acuña for the next decade please? The game needs him and his enthusiasm and his energy and his smile. As William's mom offered ""If you break his spirit, harm him in any way, keep him from his chosen you will meet the voice on the other end of this telephone and it will not be pretty. Do we understand each other?"
Ozzie Albies is not drastically removed from that team player of the game's most young and exciting either. Cristian Pache looks the part.
Rookie deals for Wright, Bryse Wilson, Mike Soroka and Max Fried as well as Austin Riley and Adam Duvall, which means multiple years under contract (or arbitration) until true free agency.
There are real decisions to be made on Dansby Swanson, Marcel Ozuna and closer Mark Melancon, each of whom has been a central part of this glorious run in his own way. Each is a free agent after 2020.
Alex Anthopoulous has built a foundation as good — especially considering the price — as any in baseball. (Yes, AA can offer the Russell Hammond from the Wichita roof, "I am a golden God" right about now.)
And that foundation is on the cusp of doing the unthinkable. Ousting the Dodgers and getting to the World Series.
Are the Titans for real?
It's hard to continue to deny what the Titans have built. "I didn't ask for this role, but I'll play it. Now go do your best. Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid. Goethe said that."
These Titans know who they are more than any other team in the league. The run the ball with a grown man who does grown-man things like this. (Did you see Derrick Henry's stiff arm? Holy goodness that's a grown (bleeping) man among other grown men.)
These Titans, while not built to come back from a two-TD hole any time soon, are not built to be in many two-TD holes any time soon either.
These Titans, without much practice over the last 10 days, just punched a Buffalo defense in the face.
Sure it's as fancy as a ham sandwich, but you know what, when you're truly hungry, a ham sandwich is pretty dang tasty. "Is it that hard to make us look cool." Side note Titans: The uniforms simply do not help in the cool department.
But here they are, 4-0, with a QB they trust, a RB they can rely on, and a defense that swarms and seldom makes mistakes.
That last one is a clear tip of the visor to Mike Vrabel, the former Pats linebacker and assistant who looks to be the only Bellichick protégé who has a clue about emulating his Jedi master's ways.
Great win, Titans. Impressive in every measure.
We are in the mid-week point and there is an undeniable monster match-up this week in college football.
Bigger than big. More meaningful than all others. More impactful in the big picture than any.
UK-UT. Battle for the beer barrel, oh wait, we can't say college kids drink these days. Scratch that.
Of course, the biggie this week is Alabama-Georgia.
It's a titanic match-up with clear strengths and weaknesses.
But I will ask this: Does this game truly matter in the big picture of a college football playoff? (Provided we get that far because of the Corona.)
Does it? Does it matter more than the almost assured rematch in Atlanta in December between these two? Does it matter when you look across all of college football and no one can make a believable argument that other than THE Ohio State and Clemson, any other team is close to Alabama and Georgia?
Especially in a season when the metrics are not even and the level of team perception and perceived power will be even more important.
Oh, of course I will be watching — our travel plans back from the beach are slated to make sure of that — but when the circle of college football potential championship-worthy teams is shrinking (bye Oklahoma, say hello to the Pac 12 and the rest of the SEC West in the Green Room) daily, that makes me wonder two things:
First, does a huge match-up like Alabama-Georgia really matter big picture? (Of course it matters — to the teams, the fans, the recruits, and a slew of of others — but a loss — as long as it's not a pistol whipping — does not derail either of these teams from a natty.)
Which moves me to No. 2, because if college football's regular season becomes more meaningless, then that's when the conversation will take a truly interesting turn in terms of expanding the playoff.
This and that
— You know the rules, and speaking of Paschall in college football season, the readers of the TFP know the end of Dick's confession when they believe the airplane is going to crash. "Not a day goes by I don't see his face." Here's Paschall on UT's running game. Here's Paschall on the next great Alabama running back facing the current great Georgia defense.
— The COVID has ventured to the Swamp and Florida has paused its football activities awaiting more tests. We already know that Missouri-Vanderbilt has been a Corona casualty. If the virus was a parent, I think we could all match Russell's "Your mom kind of freaked me out." Again.
— Here are the results I have for the Intimidator Pool. We had some COVID overlaps because, well, 2020. If you have a different result or an issue with these, please email me ASAP at email@example.com Advancing are Fat Vader, JTC, Danny P, Chris O, Danny P, Intern Scott, Shawn W, Brent R, Jason G., and Ted P. We lost Mike R and Larry L on the Bills and Terry T on the Chiefs. And if you guys who got bounced lost your cool, remember as Lester said, "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool."
Which way Wednesday starts this way.
Which Atlanta sports icon is the biggest? I purposefully did not put options because I did not want to limit any of our great free thinkers or forget someone. "It's OK! I'm easy to forget! Just leave me behind! I'm only the (bleeping) lead singer!"
Because I think Freeman is climbing quickly the Braves chart and could challenge the all-time A-T-L rankings.
With a World Series, the ceiling is completely off-the-charts. More the Maddux, who was not a forever Brave, more than Glavine (sorry Intern Scott), who left as a free agent, more than Murphy, who was beloved for sure but was a) not as good and b) nowhere close to in terms of team success.
More than Chipper, too, and potentially even more than Bobby Cox.
Also, which team you got Saturday, the Tide or the Dawgs?
Which NFL team has the most recognizable identity, because I think the Titans are close.
As for today, Oct. 14, let's review.
In 1892, Arthur Conan Doyle introduced us to a character called Sherlock Holmes.
Rushmore fictional 'detectives,' private or police. Go and remember the mailbag.