Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley (27) gestures towards the Braves' dugout after hitting a two-run double in the seventh inning of a baseball game Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Flop 4 picks

Feeling a little quotable today.

"I told him a player on a streak has to respect the streak. You know why? Because they don't happen very often."

Arguably the most underrated quote in arguably the most underrated scene in "Bull Durham" is when Annie comes barging into Crash's room after she believes Crash has told Nuke to stay out of her bed. (Side note: Crash is ironing in that scene and drinking dark liquor before heading to the ballpark. Giddy-up.)

Anyhoo, we'll stay with the Flop 4 because after the Week 3 debacle that made Napoleon think Waterloo was not so bad, a 3-2 mark last week feels better than 60%.

"That's nothing to be proud of Russ. Fifty yards."

Side note: Michael Anthony Hall had a Hall of Fame career before he turned 25, gang. The original Russ from "Vacation." The excellent turns in John Hughes classics. The criminally underrated "Johnny Be Good" and even as a leading piece to the worst use of talent in the history of SNL. (Yes, they had Hall, Robert Downey Jr., and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in that mid-1980s stretch and it was completely unwatchable.)

Wow, we can spin off the rails like no one's business, you know.

"Fifty yards." (And see how many of the movies you can name with the knowledge that each pick has at least one quote.)

Missouri minus-3 over Tennessee. Welcome to Columbia, Missouri. "This place is a geographical oddity — two weeks from everywhere." Missouri is at home. Missouri has a much better quarterback scenario. Missouri has more experience. A field goal feels like a small price to pay.

LSU minus-3 over Auburn. "Well, this whole thing is just who knows who. Then over here you have favoritism." Yeah, I'm an Auburn homer. What of it? And you know what? My picks are 15-16 on the year, but 15-14 when not picking Auburn. "In 11 years, it's going to be 1984, man. Think about that." The only way Auburn wins is if they steamroll LSU, and at Red Stick at night, that's simply not happening.

Wisconsin minus-1 over Michigan. Wisconsin was dreadful against Penn State, but they are getting better every week."You know my mom wanted me to be a farmer. My dad wanted me to be a baseball player." Michigan's run has been impressive. It ends Saturday. "You're my boy Blue."

Notre Dame plus-2 over Cincinnati. The wrong team is favored, to be honest, and write it down because it very rarely happens that Vegas undervalues the Irish. "This is a team they say is, is good, well I think we're better than them. They can't lick us, so what do you say men?" Yes, Luke Fickell can coach his whistle off for the Bearcats, but man on man, the Irish are more talented, and they are "gonna get 'em on the run boys, and once we get 'em on the run we're gonna keep 'em on the run. And then we're gonna go go go go go go and were not gonna stop 'til we get across that goal line."

West Virginia minus-7 over Texas Tech. A week worth of bitter beer face for the Mountaineers, who let the Sooners escape last week, means bad news for the Techsters. Are they called the Techsters? West Virginia's strength — its defense — is better than Tech's strength, its offense, and WVU's weakness — its offense — is way better than a Tech defense that allowed 70 to Texas last week. Pretty sure she will not be at the game, but "Senator, love the suit."

La Tech plus-21 over NC State. Perfect timing for the Techsters. Are they still called the Techsters? NC State is coming off its biggest win in years, and here comes an offense that is playing better than the Clemson group the Wolfpack just toppled. And know this: One of these teams should have beaten Mississippi State; the other one got punished by Mississippi State. "That's all we got was one 'bleep-bleep' hit? You can't say that on the air. Don't worry, no one's listening anyway."

Last week: 3-2 against the spread (60 percent — "of the time, it works every time.")

This season: 15-16 against the spread (48.4 percent — "Are you not entertained?")

Picking Auburn: 0-2 against the spread (0.0 percent — "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.")


NFL time

OK, well, hope you enjoyed that. And now we're behind a touch, but we're going to roll into a fun NFL weekend with four quick downs. Deal? Deal.

First down: Hey, there's an NFL game tonight. Well, close, to an NFL game tonight, and no Alabama and Georgia are not squaring off. Close to an NFL game in that Jacksonville is at Cincinnati tonight. Side question: Is Jacksonville vs. anyone the NFL Thursday night answer to ESPN's Yankees-Red Sox on Sunday night baseball? I say yes.

Second down: Not sure if you've heard, but some former Pats player is returning to Foxboro this week. How many hours do you think Belichick has spent at the Patriots football complex this week in preparation? Because if you start Monday morning at 6 a.m. and go until this morning at 10 a.m. when this thing hits the interweb, that's 76 hours. Over/under 60 hours through 10 a.m. today that Belichick has been prepping for Brady's return? Side question: Do Pats fans dare boo Brady? Discuss. I say heck yeah.

Third down: Shhhhh, be wary quiet when hunting wabbits, but even Elmer Fudd knows that your Tennessee Titans could sneak to a very comfortable lead in a division that includes the rebuilding Jags and the dreadful Texans as well as the winless and injury-riddled Colts. The Titans play at the dreck-tastic Jets this weekend, and that figures to be a very popular pick for you Survivor Pool players. (Yes, I know. Updates.) Side note: The quarterfinals of the most popular Titans player in the 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge is open and ready for your vote. Play along here, friends.

Fourth down: Vegas-Charges is a sneaky great Monday night game this weekend. Sadly the Manning boys are taking this weekend off. In case you're curious, the Mannings' Megacast continued to grow in viewership again. The debut, which not many folks were aware of apparently, drew around 900,000 viewers for ESPN2. Week 2 had 1.86 million and this week's Cowboys' blasting of the Eagles averaged 1.89 million viewers.  


Braves game

Hey, let's play a little Braves B-I-N-G-O, who's with me?

B, as in bats. The Braves battered Philly's bullpen and pulled away late for a 7-2 win Wednesday night. Atlanta got 11 hits, and this is a nice omen for the postseason, scored its runs without the benefit of a home run. The Braves' magic number to clinch the East is one. One win in its final four (or five games if the make-up with Colorado is needed come Monday, but it'll be all right) or one Phillies loss in these final four.

I, as in I'll be danged. Yes, we second-guess Brian "The Snit" Snitker a bunch. And he deserves it most of the time. But it's hard to say a dude on the verge of his fourth straight division title is sitting on even a lukewarm seat, friends.

N, as in NL MVP. A blah-tastic first half as a team of the season and losing its best player may have put a damper on things, but if I had a vote, Austin Riley would be my pick for MVP. He is tied for first in games played at 156 (with Freddie and Dansby, if you can believe that), he's eighth in WAR, sixth in average (.302), second in total bases (304), tied for ninth in homers (32), tied for third in RBIs (103), and would be in line for a Gold Glove but Nolan Arenado still plays third base in the NL.

G, as in Good Goodness, did Joc Pederson really come to the plate last night wearing a pearl necklace? Yes, yes he did.

O, as in October, and the greatness of baseball in the ''er'' months.  


This and that

— Had a reminder from a longtime reader/friend about the continued impressiveness of the star power of former Baylor School golfers. Yes, Harris English was part of the US Ryder Cup win last weekend. Yes, Luke List, Keith Mitchell and Stephan Jaeger are all in the PGA Tour event this weekend. That's not new or news anymore. But this is. Blakesly Brock is in the finals today of the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur. She played at Baylor as Blakesly Warren before getting hitched and advanced to the final match of one of the three or four biggest amateur tournaments in the world. War Blakesly. (You can follow along on the USGA site here.)

— You know the rules. Wait, if you are relatively new around these parts, and the folks who check these type of things say we are adding readers to our daily exchange, so that's cool, you may not know the rules. The TFP is blessed to have a lot of experts on staff. And I'm not talking about, "Yeah, my brother-in-law once walked by Dale Earnhardt's pit stall, he's a racing expert." The TFP's cast of sports experts have crafted their niche and knowledge with a lifetime (and then some) of experience. So, when TFP college football expert David Paschall writes about college football, we read and link Paschall's prose on college football. The same applies to Weeds' words on college hoops and Hargis' harrumphs on prep athletes and issues. Dem's da rules, folks. (And, combined, they are close to 100 years combined covering those avenues in our area.) So here are Paschall's picks column and a look at Josh Heupel's return to Columbia for Saturday's game.      

— This is another in the tragic and eye-opening stories about the players chasing the dream and the costs of that chase across minor league baseball. One of the reasons I'm running late this morning is because I couldn't stop reading this. Very strong stuff.


Today's questions

Did you get all the movies in the Flop 4 picks? They were pretty straightforward.

On a loaded weekend for college football, which game intrigues you most? Also, interested in your answer to the "Belichick over/under 60 hours of prep for Brady" as of this morning and whether, if you were a Pats fan, would you boo Brady in his return?

As for today, Sept. 30, let's review.

The Grand Ole Opry was broadcast on TV for the first time on this day in 1950.

Babe Ruth played his final game as a Yankee on this day in 1934.

The first televised college football game happened on this day in 1939 as Fordham beat Waynesburg, 34-7. Spy, that Fordham bunch was salty, right?

Rushmore of college football TV announcers of all time. Go, and remember the bracket, your Survivor pick and the mailbag.