Monday Morning Update: October 3

A US victory, a Mets (and Red Sox) playoff berth, and a Giant(s) prediction 

1.USA Golf does what USA Hockey couldn’t

The Ryder Cup is everything. It makes golf crowds actually seem like they’re having fun. It makes players actually seem like they have a pulse, or, just maybe, some competitive fire. It makes rooting for golf something actually worth clapping or yelling at your television over. It even makes me tweet things like this:

 

Watching the United States take hold of the tournament on Saturday and put their foot down on the gas as Sunday afternoon rolled along was nothing short of exhilarating. Seeing the way the American golfers celebrated after finally getting that European monkey off their back gave you a real swell of pride. For most of Sunday, I happily chose to watch the Cup coverage, driven purely by the drama that surrounded a potential American victory or collapse. The victory, when it finally came, truly was something to cherish as an American fan of the sport.

I’m a mild golf fan and a golfer myself, but it’s rare I, or anyone else I know, uses those words describing a golf tournament. It truly is the best event in the sport, bar none, and the reason why golf in the Olympics will always seem lackluster.

All hail the Ryder Cup.

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2. Mark Teixeira makes me look foolish

So I had old friends Matt Tardiff and Tim Culverhouse on the latest episode of the Chin Music Podcast last week to debate, among other things, some topics bubbling during the end of the baseball season. During that conversation, the end of Mark Teixeira’s career, and where it will stand among baseball’s history, came to the fore. I, as I am wont to do, took the opportunity to rail against my least favorite Yankee.

And then, just about 90 minutes after we finished taping the episode, Mark had to go and send a Tex Message to ruin the Red Sox clinching celebration, making me look a bit dumb in the process. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I maintain that the Yankees grievously overpaid for Teixeira and that he didn’t provide nearly the value the team and its fans hoped for when they first acquired the slugging first baseman. He was often injured during his time with the Yanks, much to my frustration, and when he was healthy his average had dropped drastically from his previous careers highs.

But, he did win a World Series with the Yanks. He was certainly a better than average first baseman when it came to both hitting for power and defending his position. And I’ll be darned if I didn’t smile just a little bit when I saw Tex have one last moment in pinstripes.

tex

3. The Mets are dancing

With a win over the pathetic Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets assured that at least one New York baseball team would make the playoffs for the 19th out of 22 seasons dating back to 1995. While getting to just a single game of the postseason may not seem like a huge accomplishment, the Mets had to deal with their fair share of bad fortune this year, and had plenty of reason to celebrate on Saturday.

They’ll host the San Francisco on Wednesday at Citi Field, with Noah Syndergaard on the hill against the infamous Madison Bumgarner.In this do-or-die scenario, I like the Mets chances, much more than I do during a few five or seven-game series.

The injuries that have harangued the Metropolitan pitching staff will cause them trouble against the Cubs (or the Giants, for that matter), should they get that far, but that’s to worry about on a different day. Even against MadBum and the #EvenYearMagic, Thor at home is a terrifying prospect for any team to face.

Even if the two duel to a stalemate, I trust the Mets’ bullpen a bit more than the Giants’. The Mets finished the season with a 3.50 ERA in the bullpen, the seventh best in the league, compared to the Giants 3.66, good enough for 15th. The Mets also have the advantage when it comes to the most important arms—Familia has been consistent, if not brilliant, over 77 innings, allowing 22 earned runs and a WHIP of 1.2. That’s not great, but the Giants bullpen has had more than a fair share of trials and tribulations lately—something that could really hurt them when tensions tighten on Wednesday.

I’ll take the Mets over the Giants, 5 to 3.

thor.jpg

4. So are the Red Sox

Friend of ChinMusicPod Tim Culverhouse gets the tag in as the Red Sox prepare for the playoffs

Nothing like limping into the playoffs. Maybe it was the forced celebration after giving up a walk-off grand slam to Brendan’s idol Mark Teixeira. Maybe it was the 3-day celebration for David Ortiz (seriously, 3 fucking days? That’s just dumb). Whatever it is, the Red Sox, and specifically their pitching, have been pretty damn terrible the last week of the year.

In Boston all I’ve heard the past couple weeks is how good this team has pitched in the second half, and how they’re a legitimate postseason contender. Well guess what, the last week was a really big wakeup call that should scare the hell out of every Red Sox fan. Craig Kimbrel has imploded, Brad Ziegler doesn’t do enough to make me confident, and Koji Uehara is throwing about as fast as I do.

It’s been a real up-and-down season for me as a Red Sox fan, and I often like to look at the negative side of everything. And guess what? This week has been that in a nutshell. The bullpen sucked, John Farrell made some more bonehead moves, and David Price started pitching like he was already in the playoffs.

A first round matchup with Cleveland should allow the Red Sox to get to the ALCS, simply because of the roster decimation the Indians have suffered due to injuries this year. But even still, I’m not feeling easy about it. They have the edge in manager and bullpen, while the Red Sox have the advantage in the lineup (huge) and in the starting rotation (barely).

Lastly, the Red Sox had a chance to knock the Blue Jays out of the playoff race with a series win. Instead, they crapped their pants and gave Toronto a fighting chance. Not a good look for Boston baseball this week.

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5. Canada is king (and so is Sidney)

In a turn of events that surprised exactly no one, Canada was perfect during the World Cup of Hockey, going 6-0 during the games that counted, including a perfect sweep during the final.

Exactly how it happened, however, was at least a little surprising. Very few people, if anyone that wasn’t a member of the team, thought that Team Europe (except for players from Sweeden, Russia, the Czech Republic or Finland) would be in the final. Even fewer thought the ragtag team could give them a challenge once they got there.

And while Canada did sweep them, Europe was no doormat. They led for the better part of the hour on Thursday and even outshot the Canadians in the opening game on Tuesday. Say what you will about their style of paly, but Ralph Krueger earned his squad a silver medal, which is more than six other coaches can say.

But make no mistake, no other country could skate with Canada. It may have been a pair of Bruins and a Penguin that earned all the shine in Game Two, but there were plenty of other players that earned their spot on this team and proved just how ahead the North is when it comes to their native game.

(And, it may be an unpopular opinion, but I think Sid earned that MVP award. He may not have tallied the goals himself, but he was involved time and time again. Brad Marchand probably owes him more than a thank you card after signing that contract, so maybe the MVP title can suffice. He drives me nuts, just as he does most fans around the league, especially those in his division, but Crosby has shown us more than once in the past few months that he’s probably the best around.)

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6. Finally saying nice things about the WCOH

I’ve railed against the World Cup for most of the time it’s been going on, as Team USA’s performance gave me a tainted view of the whole damn thing. But, there were quite a few things I enjoyed about this inaugural-ish edition of the NHL-run international event.

In the interest of fairness, I’ll devote some time here to the things I’d like to see stick around from the WCOH. First, I’d love to see the Islanders that were involved this week continue their play. Jaroslav Halak was second to only Carey Price between the pipes during the event (and forced the Islanders to make a difficult decision in the process), and John Tavares showed multiple instances of brilliance in tallying four points while winning the title. Assuming Jaro joins JT on the Isles roster for the long haul this year, I’m sure every Isles fan would join me in signing up for that level of play from both guys.

Elsewhere, I loved ref cam. It gave us a great view of one of those moments of showmanship from Tavares, and in general was just an absorbing point of view for the quick moving game. The images were crisp and stable, and would be a welcome addition to primetime games.

Also, hockey highlights on ESPN. The NHL has no one to blame but itself for the lack of puck talk on the Worldwide Leader most days, but it was undeniably enjoyable to have the sport back in some kind spotlight, if just for a fleeting moment. That song isn’t too hard on the ears either.

7. Belichick is human after all

A week after I marveled at the consistency and ability to win that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have shown week in and week out and year in and year out, Belichick showed a rare vulnerability in a loss to the Rex Ryan-led Buffalo Bills, of all foes.

Whenever New England loses a game, it makes me smile a little bit taking the T to Boston come Monday morning (especially since the Giants haven’t had a chance to ruin my weekend yet). I really thought the Pats might go 4-0 during Brady’s absence, which would have just doomed us all, more than likely.

Still, I have a feeling Belichick is pretty satisfied with the first quarter of the season, even if he would never admit it publically. The Patriots look like a team that will be among the best for rest of the season, and they’re getting an angry, and well rested, Brady back before their next contest.

Houston Texans v New England Patriots

8. General NFL thoughts/gripes

Why, if these NFL games in London are designed to help grow the game in Europe, are we sending them some of our worst franchises? How is punting a football more respectful than dancing? How are either of those things of equal value to unnecessary roughness?

Every week, even on ones I watch more golf than football, the NFL forces me to ask questions that I can barely wrap my head around, and this one was certainly no exception.

Decades, maybe even centuries from now, future historians are going to look at our fascination with the NFL, and wonder how any organization could achieve such a combination of success, stupidity, and moral ambiguity.

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9. A GIANT(S) prediction

With the Giants getting the Monday Night Football treatment for their matchup against the Vikings, it only seemed right to break out another edition of The Psychic Is In.

This matchup doesn’t shape up well for the Giants. The Vikings have an illustrious history of domination against ChinMusicPod’s Lord and Savior, Eli Manning, and their defense looks especially stout, even among the best in the league, this year. Big Blue is also suffering from some injury problems, with Vereen out for the year and defensive backs Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie missing practice to end the week. The team has also shown a general inability to run the ball through three weeks this year.

Add in the fact that they’re playing on the road for a primetime game, and suffice to say, it looks like there’s plenty stacked against the Giants tonight.

But that’s exactly why I think they will win this game. There’s no Eli Manning quite like an Eli Manning that everyone is sure will have a bad game, and the Giants  seem to play their best when expectations are at the lowest over the past few years. So, give me the Giants, 24-20.

(Plus, Papa Murray himself will be in the house, and there’s no good luck charm quite like him, just ask the Ryder Cup team.)

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That’s all for this week, everybody, thanks for checking in. For more, follow @MurraySportTalk on Twitter.

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