Monday Morning Update: October 31

Further follies from the NFL, Chicago lives to die another day, and the ghost of Matt Martin fails to haunt the Islanders

  1. Further football follies

Britain Redskins Bengals Football

I wrote at length about the disastrous road the NFL is hurtling down this weekend, and suffice to say this latest slate of games did not change my mind.

The NFL once again brought us an extra game this week, this time a matchup in London, again. Now, to be fair, the London games are the most tolerable of the flood of football, but this one wasn’t great. It once again ended in a tie, although it did feature some bak and forth play in the later goings of the game between Washington and Cincinnati.

If hockey has engineered a way to avoid having ties in the interest of fan enjoyment, surely the NFL can figure it out as well.

But ultimately, this game fails where so many other of the glut has, it just doesn’t feature teams that are all that compelling. Why not send the league’s elite, like the Super Bowl champs, the Denver Broncos, or a pair of the favorite to end up in this year’s big game, the Patriots or Seahawks? If the point is the grow the game, the way to do it is by sending the best available.

Instead, we get a middling game with a maddening result. Just another week in the NFL.

2. Anthony Davis the alpha-male

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The New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis will be in the league’s spotlight throughout the 2016-2017 season, and was a fairly popular pick as a player to watch in the coming weeks and months during preseason coverag.e

He showed why to start off this NBA season.

The Brow opened the first two games of the year by becoming the first player in 30 years to score at least 40 points in back to back games to open the year. The Pelicans may have slipped to 0-3 to start the year despite Davis’ heroics, but the big man has been nothing short of astounding.

Davis is essentially charged with reinventing the center position in the modern stretch/space/shoot NBA. He’s the most talented person playing the position right now, and his dimensions and skill size should serve him well as big men are asked more and more to do more than stand near the hoop and stretch their massive arms up towards the rim.

There’s also the question of what will happen with the team surrounding him. They couldn’t find a way to come out on top in their first three contest, even though some had them circled as a team that could jump up in the standings this year. He’s mostly toiled in quiet, with the Pelicans in that no man’s land at the top of the lottery or bottom of the playoff bracket, and it will be interesting to see if the team can improve or if he eventually becomes unhappy.

Combine those two factors with his talent, and it combines for a fascinating present and future for the New Orleans alpha-male.

3. Cubs in 5, 6, 7?

World Series Indians Cubs Baseball

If the actual New York Yankees couldn’t be in this year’s Fall Classic, then at least baseball’s finest is represented by a couple of stars, one on each side. Former Yankee ninth inning man Aroldis Chapman did his best impression of former Yankee setup man and Cleveland’s current every inning man Andrew Miller in extending the World Series last night.

Chapman likely earned himself an extra million or two with that big postseason performance, which showed the kind of multi-inning range that has been all the rage this year, but something we hadn’t seen from the beleaguered flamethrower. Chapman’s free agency stint, which begins in just a few days one way or another, will be one of the more interesting of the next offseason, for a myriad of reasons.

For now, however, baseball’s best postseason in a decade-plus continues on for at least one more game, and we are all more fortunate for it. We can only hope it goes the distance.

4. The Islanders hold on for dear life again Matt Martin and the Maple Leafs

NHL: JAN 25 Red Wings at Islanders

The Islanders did something the hadn’t done much this season and jumped out to an early lead against the young stars of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s always good to see Travis Hamonic find the twine, and it serves as a reminder of how close the Islanders came to losing the talented and cheap rearguard. Casey Cizikas also pitched in his first goal since signing a long-term contract during the offseason.

Last night was also the return of Matt Martin, a fan favorite and the perfect picture of a hockey player. Great to see him back in Brooklyn, even better to get a win against his new squad.

But specificities aside, a game like this is exactly why the hysteria that follows so many individual NHL games, especially among Islander fans, is frustrating. The Islanders looked slow coming off back to back last week against Pittsburgh, and looked much better when the Leafs. It’s a long season, and while the Isles season hasn’t gotten off to a perfect start, it’s far too often to be convinced of any future for this team, good or bad. You’re going to look slow some nights, and you’re going to have some pop for others.

It’s a long season, and while the Isles season hasn’t gotten off to a perfect start, it’s far too often to be convinced of any future for this team, good or bad.

5. Kevin Devine does it again

Brooklyn singer-songwriter Kevin Devine did it again this month, releasing Instigator, his ninth studio record and the latest I’ll had to my collection of frequent listens.

The album, as most from Devine are, straddles the line between frenetic and thoughtful, and has range that most artists could not manage. There are moments that sound like Nirvana put through a heavy dose of bubblegum, and there are others that sound like Neil Young if he still made new music worth listening to.

There are several highlights, but the pair I’ve linked to above are probably my favorites. “No History” is an introspective take on a day we all remember, while “Instigator” reads like a mission statement. Enjoy.

6. Another week, another win in New England

England Patriots v Cleveland Browns

Living outside Boston can sometimes make me feel like my name is Bill Murray, instead of Brendan Murray, and I’m residing in some pseudo-groundhog day world.

Every week, I tune in to at least a few minutes of the Patriots, as they’re the talk of the town nearly every day here in Bean Town, and I have a pathological fear of missing out. And every week, I wonder why I bother because I could write down what will happen for most of their games well in advance.

Enter, Tom Brady, stage left. Enter Bill Belichick, same. Action: Brady uncorks a few TD passes. Both exit with a win. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

At this point, it’s hard for me to consider anyone else than Brady and Belichick’s bunch as the favorite to hoist the Lombardi trophy once again, despite all the claims of parity in the NFL.

I guess it’s comforting to know that some things will never change.

7.Why not get wild for Game Six?

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Listen, I get that, perhaps especially considering the PR beehive Cleveland is trying to avoid already with their nickname, you may not want Carlos Irwin Estevez, ne Charlie Sheen, as your human mascot.

But let the guy have some fun this week, dammit. J.R. Smith got his shirtless summer after the Cavs won. I know Sheen wasn’t, like, actually on the team or anything like that. But for better or worse, when I picture a World Series-contending Indians team, it all swirls around Wild Thing. He’s the straw that stirs the drink.

I already expressed my dissatisfaction with the Kenny Lofton decision and my disbelief in the accompanying story. But if it took a miracle to get Lofton there, surely we can spare a plane seat for Ricky Vaughn and let him take the mound before Game Six.

8. That’s a Jimbo

Florida State Head Coach and living meme Jimbo Fisher is a little less wealthy as of yesterday, as the ACC fined him 20K for his tirade against the officials on Saturday.

Now, Jimbo is probably doing just fine without that cash, and he even invited the fine during his rant, so I’m sure he’s not too broken up about it. But why does criticizing officiating inevitably end in a fine?

Fisher had reason to criticize the refs in his team’s loss to Clemson and probably fulfilled his responsibility as a coach by defending his players after the game. Obviously, there’s some dangers with allowing coaches, players or administrators to run at the mouth vis a vis the officials, but in a case where there’s truly reason for criticism or at least scrutiny, is it necessary to fine someone a few grand?

9. Happy Halloween

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Happy Halloween everyone! To cap off this week’s update, grab a Snickers, turn on my playlist of Halloween tunes, and enjoy the day.

Have a good week, everybody. For more, follow @MurraySportTalk on Twitter.

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