The biggest sports news of my weekend wasn’t that TCU qualified for the four-team college football playoff or that the Cowboys scored a franchise record 33-points in the fourth quarter to complete a blowout of the Colts. The truly earth-shattering, universe-altering, mind-blowing, euphoria-inducing news came down late Friday evening: Jacob deGrom has signed with the Texas Rangers!
deGrom is the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. And he is a Ranger. The 34-year-old, two-time Cy Young Award winner signed a five-year, $185-million free agent contract to pitch in Arlington after a couple of Zoom meetings with GM Chris Young and new Texas skipper Bruce Bochy. What a coup! deGrom brings that 98-mph heater and a winning clubhouse presence to a team that, finally, is making a serious push to win a World Series.
Last offseason it was Corey Seager and Marcus Semien in a remake of the middle infield. Last month it was pulling Bochy out of retirement to manage. They’ve also retained All-Star Martin Perez and traded for Jake Odorizzi. They’ve got top fifty prospects Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker, and Owen White probably one year away from starting at the MLB level. This team is ready right now to compete in the AL West and should be in the mix for a run or two at the World Series starting in 2024.
Yes, this is exciting. This is bigger than the record-smashing signing of Alex Rodriguez back in the day. The Rangers have a legitimate World Series winning manager, a General Manager who’s been given an open checkbook by ownership, and now they have the best pitcher in the game at the front of the rotation.
Concerning the Cowboys: don’t get too happy about a 54-19 win over the hapless Colts. Remember that the Indy coach, Jeff Saturday, had never coached football at any level before they pulled him out of the ESPN studios last month. Quarterback Matt Ryan looks like he should have retired a couple of years ago. This is a mess of a team – they’re terrible.
And it was a two-point game heading into the fourth quarter. Had Saturday kicked an extra point instead of going for two, it would have been a one-point game heading into that final period. Had they made the two-point conversion, it would have been tied.
Ryan and the Colts turned the ball over four times in that last quarter which led to the most lopsided fourth quarter in the NFL since 1925. But after three quarters at home against one of the worst, mismanaged, dysfunctional teams in the league, Dallas was only up 21-19.
Alabama football fans, you need to sit down and be quiet. You know who you are. Stop it. The Crimson Tide didn’t have anything taken away from them when they failed to make the college football playoffs. They haven’t been ripped off in any way. They simply do not deserve to be playing for a national championship.
If you’re going to be one of the top four teams in the country, you have to be one of the top two teams in your own conference, and Alabama is not. They didn’t even qualify for their own conference championship game. They lost two games. Their best win is a one-point victory over Texas on the last play of the game. TCU beat five ranked opponents this season while going 12-0, including a seven-point win against those same Longhorns on that same field. TCU played in their conference championship game and lost by a field goal in overtime, after being stopped at the goal line on a fourth down run from the one. TCU beat everybody they played this year, having defeated K-State in the regular season by ten in the regular season.
And don’t give me the line that Alabama deserves it over TCU because if those two teams lined up against each other today, ‘Bama would be favored by a lot. Championships aren’t won in Las Vegas; they are won on the football field. And TCU did much more between the lines than Alabama this year.
Kristin Rampton held off her challengers with last night’s Georgia win over Alabama to take first place in the inaugural GCR Bowl Challenge. Kristin is one of only three of us on the GCR church staff who, back nearly a month ago, picked the Dawgs to win the college football national championship (Crystal and J.E. are the other two) and it was crucial to her victory. Kristin correctly chose the winner in 20 of the 34 games we picked overall, and finished strong with seven wins in the final nine games.
I was glad to see Brandon here at the church building this morning. He and I were texting throughout last night’s game – he’s a hard core ‘Bama fan and I’m for whoever is on the opposite sideline of Nick Saban. Late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, when Georgia really started rolling, I stopped texting Brandon because I didn’t want to jinx it. When I went back to my phone at the end of the game, Brandon had turned off his notifications. I’m happy to report that he’s okay. And all the doors at his house remain firmly on their hinges.
Kristin gets her lunch and her dessert free at next week’s monthly staff lunch. We’re also buying lunch for the last place finisher, but I’ll let him or her divulge his or her identity.
I heard the broadcasters say the word “dynasty” before the players even got off the field. Not Troy, not Joe Buck; the studio guys on Fox and on ESPN. I heard it twice. Two different versions of “The Cowboys are building a dynasty” in reference to the “Triplets,” which I also heard twice.
Whoa, slow down.
Yes, Ezekiel Elliott is a monster of a running back. He runs hard, he picks up blocks, he catches passes — he’s for real. And the whole Cowboys offense runs through him. Amari Cooper is a really good receiver. He runs better routes than anybody who’s played for Dallas in the past twenty years, he’s got a knack for finding the open spot in a zone, and he makes tough catches look easy. And both of those players make Dak Prescott better. Dak is a decent passer, his legs keep the defense spying and guessing, and he seems to give everything he’s got every week.
But “dynasty?” Shouldn’t the Cowboys win one divisional playoff game since 1995 before using that word? Since when does a Wild Card win for any other team elicit this kind of hyperbole? It’s like these analysts haven’t watched any Cowboys games in the past 23-years.
And “Triplets?” Troy, Emmitt, and Irvin won three Super Bowls and are in the Hall of Fame. Dak still turns the ball over at the worst possible times, Cooper has played in Dallas for less than half a season, and Elliott needs another twelve years and 14,000 yards and 130 touchdowns before we start comparing him to Emmitt.
Now, let’s acknowledge that the Cowboys are stocked with some legitimate talent and are really fun to watch right now. That defense is stout. That front seven is solid. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch absolutely fly to the ball. Nothing happens on offense without Elliott but, with him, they’re going to be in every game until the fourth quarter. Cole Beasley is clutch. Gallup is fast. Cooper is open. But Dak is a problem. He still misses wide open receivers, he still holds the ball too long in the pocket, and he still turns it over. I don’t think the Cowboys can win a divisional playoff game with this current version of Prescott under center. I also have questions about the reliability of their kicker. But the main concern ought to be at quarterback.
There’s a reason the Cowboys are seven-point dogs to the Rams on Saturday.
I’ve heard people say they just can’t get excited about tonight’s national championship tilt between Alabama and Clemson. Another rematch. The same two teams. Like watching the Bills in four straight Super Bowls. Some people are not looking forward to the game.
What?!? Are you kidding me? There’s plenty to be excited about; let me count the ways.
~ These are clearly the best two teams in the country. Can you name any team that’s better? This is #1 versus #2! This is precisely what you and I argued and begged for the past 40-years! This game decides the true undisputed national champion!
~ It’s not like the Bills. Clemson’s beaten Alabama in this setting. And nobody will be shocked if they do it again. The Tide winning is not a foregone conclusion.
~ Tua’s story is fascinating. He’s going to have 400 friends and family in attendance at Levi’s Stadium tonight.
~ Rooting against Nick Saban.
~ If Alabama wins, Elaine takes first place in our Central office football poll; if Clemson wins, Mark takes the top prize.
~ It’s the last time I can justify eating nachos before baseball’s Opening Day.
~ Waiting for the moment Hunter Renfrow inevitably makes the huge play.
~ Watching history as one of these teams becomes the first team in college football history to finish a season 15-0.
~ Rooting against Nick Saban.