That’s two World Series wins for the best pitcher of his generation, who is trying to add post-season success to his resume. That has previously eluded him, and seems to be the only jewel missing from his crown. Before this World Series he had a losing record in World Series (1-2) games as well as in all post-season games (11-12).

It was not a happy day here in Wisconsin. The Packers looked invulnerable for the first 4 1/4 games this year – then reality set in and they allowed the Bucs to score the next 38 points.

Packer fans have still had plenty to cheer about this year. Jets fans, if they still exist, have not. The Jets not only lost, they got shut out. What’s more, they have lost the last few against an easier part of their schedule. In the next two weeks they’ll be facing the Chiefs and Bills. The Jets are now the only winless team, as the Giants and Falcons moved up to 1-5 by eking out victories over two other 1-5 teams.

(Speaking of the Chiefs and Bills, they face off Monday with dueling 4-1 records.)

The Steelers impressed, and remained undefeated.

The Titans also remained undefeated, but had to struggle against the 1-5 Texans. The rest of the team may have faltered from time to time, but Derrick Henry didn’t have much trouble. He rushed for 212 yards and two TDS, including a 100-yard dash. It goes in the books as a 94-yard gain, but he lined up for the play well into in his own end zone and ran the full length of the field (shown below). Derrick Henry is almost exactly the same height and weight as President Trump, but he can really get those 238 pounds motoring. (Although, to be fair: (1) his weight may possibly be distributed quite differently from the Donald’s; (2) we haven’t seen Derrick attempt the biggest challenge for guys that size – going down a gently sloped ramp.)

Scoreboard

It ended up they way it should be, I guess, or at least the way it used to be, as the two teams with the best records will face off at the end.

The Dodgers pulled off an improbable comeback. They were down 3-1 in games, then won three in a row. They were down in this game, then pulled off a string of miracles (see the double play below) and some astounding relief pitching, as their last three relievers combined on six innings of no-hit ball.

Speaking as a long-time Texan who used to root for the Astros, I’m glad they lost. My emotional attachment to the ‘Stros was overridden by my desire to avoid having a pennant winner with a losing record during the regular season.

Good for the Rays. They have made the WS only once before, in 2008, but lost to the Phillies.

There was no doubt that lanky old geezer Charlie Morton was the star of the series against the ‘Stros (his previous team). Two starts, no runs allowed, two wins. He is now 3-0 in the post-season this year. That dude is the ultimate late developer. His record was 46-71 (.393) with a 4.54 ERA through age 32. Since then he has been 47-18 (.723) with a 3.34 ERA. He somehow turned from Sy Sperling into Cy Young. (Although that may have hurt his hairline.)

Baseball sabermetricians don’t completely agree on the rankings of the second basemen. If you tinker with their formulas just a bit (and the formulas don’t claim to be precise), there are four different guys who could be considered the best of all time: Lajoie, Hornsby, Eddie Collins and Morgan. All four are rated among the top 24 players in history according to baseball-reference.com. Little Joe may not be the best of all time, but he’s in the running, and he’s no lower than #4.

In the course of his career Morgan was a ten-time all star, and led the league at various times in runs scored, walks, on-base-percentage (four times), slugging average and triples. In his spare time he also won five Gold Gloves and stole 689 bases with better than an 80% success rate.

Here’s a weird scoopism: I haven’t ever looked this up, but I think he must be the smallest man to lead a league in slugging percentage in the integration era (1947-now). He was 5’7″, 160 pounds, and he led the NL in slugging percentage in 1976. He also led the league in on-base percentage that year. He was the obvious NL MVP that year, giving him two MVPs in a row. He then proceeded to slug .733 in the 1976 World Series, as the Big Red Machine swept the outmatched Yankees, who managed to score only eight runs in the entire series.

The eight everyday players on the 1976 Reds, with superior talent at every position and four Hall of Famers among them, are considered one of the best squads in the history of the NL. Five of their eight starters batted above .300, and two of the others were Hall of Famers (Johnny Bench and Tony Perez). The remaining guy, Davey Conception, was a better-than-average hitter in his prime, and one of the best shortstops in the league, having been selected for the all-star team nine times.

Joe’s obit from the Associated Press

Scoreboard

Dak Prescott’s amazing, potentially record-shattering season was ended in heartbreak by a serious injury.

What can ya say about the Jets and Giants? Um … the Giants made it close against a leaderless Cowboy team, so that was kinda good. The Jets looked hapless.

The Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears are 4-1. That’s the same record as the mighty Chiefs, who finally dropped one, an unexpected home loss to the Raiders.

Among the lossless: the Steelers and Seahawks remained undefeated; the Bills and Titans play each other on Tuesday. The Packers have the week off.

Russell Wilson has the third-most fantasy points of all time through five games (best is Manning 2013), but the Seahawks really sputtered this time. They were fortunate to scrape up a win after going to the locker room down 13-0.

The dazzling Whitey Ford, he of the lifetime .690 winning percentage, has passed away. He was 91.

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That .690 is the highest of all time among the 200-game winners.

Whitey’s 2.75 lifetime ERA is the best among the modern 200-game winners.

Among all post-WW2 pitchers with at least 250 decisions, only 11 have posted ERAs below 3.00. One of them (Clayton Kershaw) is still active and another (Hoyt Wilhelm) was primarily a reliever. Among retired starters, Whitey is #1, just edging out Koufax, who finished at 2.76. The list is below.


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Ford was just as effective in the post-season. His 2.71 World Series ERA nearly matched his regular season numbers, and he won 10 World Series games, which is the all-time record by a wide margin (nobody else has won more than seven).

Will Smith set a Dodgers record and became the first catcher in major league history with five hits in a postseason game in eliminating the Padres. The Boys in Blue will play the Braves for the NL pennant.

The Astros continued their quest to be the worst pennant winner in history with a series victory over the As. In order to get there, they will have to defeat the Rays.

And that isn’t out of the question. There are many games yet to play, but they are looking good.

They would become the first pennant winner and first “World Champion” with a losing record. I like some of the changes in baseball, but I don’t like that. It was embarrassing enough when the Cardinals won the World Series with a 83-78 record in 2006. That’s the current record for the worst World Series winner, but not for the worst pennant winner. That record is held by the 1973 Mets, who were just a hair worse at 82-79. Those Mets came close to a World Series win of their own. They had the As down 3-2 before their bats went stone cold in the last two games.

Recap

The Jets and Giants lost again

The Bills won again and the Seahawks joined them at 4-0. On Monday the Packers and Chiefs joined the 4-0 club.

Old man Brady tossed 5 TDs against the Chargers.

And yes, the Cleveland Browns will return home next week with a 3-1 record after their big road victory over Dak Prescott, although Prescott AGAIN passed for more than 450 yards, this time with 502. Prescott is averaging more than 420 yards per game. Nobody has ever averaged more than 350 for a full season. Of course it might be more impressive if he hadn’t lost the game again. I shouldn’t say HE lost it. In those three games when he passed for 450 or more, the Dallas defense has allowed 39-38-49, so he had to put up 40 points to win. When you get right down to it, he was fortunate to win one of the three. WEIRD fact: despite all those yards, Prescott ranks 11th in passer rating, and is nowhere near Wilson, Mahomes, Rodgers or Allen.

(The passing yardage and completion percentages these days are incredible. Wilson is completing about 75% of his passes and others are close to that. Namath completed 49% during the regular season when he secured his legend in Super Bowl III, and passed for a mere 206 yards in that very famous game.)

He is a baseball legend. I have written a lot about him over the years because he was not just a great talent, but also a larger-than-life figure because of his skill at intimidation.

Did you know – that he is the most effective pitcher in history against right handed batters? I covered the exact stats on that in the article linked below, but as a top-line summary, here are the batting averages against Gibson of the greatest right-handed hitters of the National League in Gibson’s era.

Hank Aaron .215
Roberto Clemente .208
Ernie Banks .229
Willie Mays .196
Frank Robinson .229
Orlando Cepeda .222
Dick Allen .211
Tony Perez .121
Johnny Bench .204
Mike Schmidt .214
Tommy Davis .167

Those are not typos. All-time greats like Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron struggled to cross the Mendoza line when they had to face Gibby, so you can imagine how poorly mere mortal right-handers fared. You may have suspected that he had that kind of performance, but you may not know that, compared to all pitchers of his era, he was a completely mediocre pitcher against lefties, and compared to the left-handed pitchers of his era, his performance against lefties was actually below their average.

As opposed to the right-handed stars detailed above, many left-handed and switch hitters hit Gibson hard. The Willies, Stargell and McCovey, each batted .290 with power. Eddie Mathews batted .326 with power. Richie Hebner batted .387 with an 1.127 OPS. Ralph Garr also batted .387. Al Oliver batted .342. Joe Morgan hit .313 with power. Billy Williams batted only .259, but with ten homers. Unheralded Dave Rader batted .484 against Bob Gibson. Many other lefties and switch hitters topped the .300 mark.

I covered all of that (and more) in my article, “Wither the Complete Game, and Why?” That article is not specifically about Gibson, but he is prominently featured for many reasons, particularly his fierce insistence on pitching complete games.

I also wrote a long article about the very day a chance opportunity delivered by a childish teammate lifted Gibson from “struggling minor league long reliever” to “future baseball God.” It just so happened that this transpired under the watchful eye of a 9-year-old me, because Gibson played for my home town heroes in the first full year that I ever followed the game. That article is called “The Day Bob Gibson’s Stardom Began (in My Home Town)

Scoreboard

Two weeks ago, Drew Brees won the Battle of the Old Coots, Part 1, when he outplayed Tom Brady. This week he lost Part 2 to Aaron Rogers. Their QB performances were about dead even, but Aaron got the W thanks in part to the mighty foot of Mason Crosby who came out for seven kicks and nailed every one. The Packers’ offense was so efficient that they scored almost every time they had the ball. They had no turnovers and needed only one punt all day. The Packers’ 122 points for the season is the 5th highest total for the first three games of the season in the modern era.

Dak Prescott passed for 450+ yards for the second week in a row, but this time it took him 57 attempts, and he couldn’t even pull off a W.

Dalvin Cook rushed for 181 yards for the Vikings, but they lost as well.

Russell Wilson passed for 14 TDs in the first three games of the year, an all-time record, breaking the mark set by Mahomes just last year. (Thanks to the commenters for catching my omission of this one.)

The New York teams are headed in opposite directions. The Bills are lookin’ good at 3-0, but neither the Jets nor the Giants have managed a win yet, and they both got slaughtered Sunday. (36-7 and 36-9)

Mahomes was pretty close to perfection in the Chief’s 34-20 victory.

Here are the leaders.

Notables:

DJ LeMahieu won the AL batting average championship. (That was the highest in MLB as well.) He had already been the NL batting champ back in 2016, so he joins the very tiny club of those who have led both leagues, and is the only one to do it since 1900! (Pete Browning and Big Ed Delahanty did it in the old days, but Browning won his at the old pitching distance and both of the leagues he led were of questionable quality, which is to say neither the AL, which did not exist in his time, nor the NL.) I had previously assumed that the great Nap Lajoie had also accomplished this feat, but I found out today that he never led the NL despite a lifetime .345 average in that league.

    • Speaking of Pete Browning, he is not in the HoF despite a lifetime batting average of .341 – about the same as Ted Williams.
    • That’s not a record. Ross Barnes is not eligible for the HoF because he played only nine years because of a debilitating illness that he never recovered from, but he was the best position player of his era and had a lifetime average of .360, including an incredible lifetime .398 in the years before his illness. (He tried two unsuccessful comebacks after his convalescence.) With the possible exception of Willie Mays, Barnes is the only player I can name who was considered the best hitter, best fielder and best base-runner in the game at the same time. He had two years when he led the league in every category except homers – even walks and stolen bases. And just to show that he could summon up power when needed, he hit the very first homer in the history of the National League – and he knocked it over the fence, which was  exceedingly rare in those days when most homers stayed inside the park. I saw one all-time list written by an old-timer around WW1 era that picked Barnes as the greatest second baseman in history – and that guy had seen Lajoie and Eddie Collins play! I saw another list written in the 19th century that picked Barnes as the greatest second baseman of all time – and the greatest shortstop as well! Was Barnes a good team player? Well, I don’t know, but he was the best player on the best team in baseball for five consecutive years – two different teams, so I’m guessing he was quite OK. I don’t usually get into HoF arguments, but there’s no doubt that guy belongs, especially since many of his inferior teammates have made it, partially because they played on teams that were great because of Barnes. The fact that he didn’t play ten seasons should not keep him out.

Luke Voit led the majors in homers. That makes LaMahieu and Voit the first teammates to combine to lead the majors in both homers and batting average since 1959, when Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews pulled it off for the Milwaukee Braves.

The 2020 LA Dodgers set the all-time record for most homers per game, 1.97. (Mookie Betts was a helluva pickup.) The Dodgers’ W-L percentage of .717 was the best since the 1954 Cleveland Indians.

Max Fried of the Braves became the first undefeated pitcher in history to qualify for the lead in winning pct. His perfect 1.000 broke the record for wl% set by Elroy Face when he went 18-1 in 1959.

Shane Bieber led the AL in just about every category worth leading (wins, winning percentage, ERA, strikeouts). I assume he is a shoo-in for the Cy Young.

Juan Soto of the Nationals became the youngest man ever to win the NL batting average championship. Per MLB: “His .490 on-base percentage, .695 slugging percentage, 1.185 OPS and 201 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) are the highest rates by any qualified hitter since Barry Bonds in 2004.”

Soto’s lifetime totals are comparable to some of the all-time leaders in youthful performance:

Mel Ott: 20 years old, first 1416 plate appearances – 61 homers, 251 RBI
Ed Mathews: 21 years old, first 1274 plate appearances – 72 homers, 193 RBI
Soto: 21 years old, first 1349 plate appearances – 69 homers, 217 RBI

Per 650 plate appearances:

Ott 26-115
Mathews 37-98
Soto 33-105

This week’s action. Some highlights:

The Cowboys fell behind 20-0, but came back to win in a wild finish. Dak Prescott passed for 450 yards.

Aaron Jones let the Pack in both rushing and receiving, producing three TDs. He rushed for an impressive 168 yards. The Packers have scored 85 points in their first two games.

The Ravens have not scored as much as the Pack – “only” 71 points, but their bruising defense has allowed only 22. They have a big game coming up next weekend, at home against Mahomes and the Chiefs in the Monday night game.

It looks like another long year for the fans in NYC. Neither the Jets nor the Giants have managed a win yet.

Tom Brady is 43 but that’s based on an average: his face is 33, his arm is 53.

I won’t write a guy off after one bad game, but he now looks much better in interviews than on the field. Maybe it’s time for that modeling career he seems to crave. Oddly enough, he had a rare rushing TD (he’s had only eight in his previous seven seasons).

Complete NFL scoreboard, week 1.

  • Speaking of old codgers, Aaron Rodgers looked good. Of course since he’ll only be turning 37 in December, he’s a mere stripling compared to Brady (43) and Brees (41).
  • The Patriots unveiled their new ground-based offensive strategy. Cam threw only 19 passes while the team ran 42 rushing plays, including 15 rushes from Cam himself. (Brady averaged about one and a half rushes per game in the last four seasons, and many of those were not planned.) The Pats had no passing TDs yesterday while Cam ran for two of their three rushing TDs.
  • After a tremendous fourth quarter, Mitch Trubisky is starting to make the Bears feel better about passing up Mahomes to get him. (A LITTLE better. He threw some real clunkers in the first three quarters.) As you probably know, Da Bears traded up from No. 3 to No. 2 overall to draft Trubisky while Mahomes was still available. The Chiefs managed to snag Mahomes with the 10th overall pick. Myles Garrett was the #1 pick that year.

It appears that as the lawyers were battling, the judge stepped down from his perch and hit the wrestlers’ lawyer over the head with a chair.

Ironically, he caused brain damage.

Among the plaintiffs were Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff, Chris “King Kong Bundy” Pallies and Harry Masayoshi Fujiwara, known as Mr. Fuji.”

Snuka and Fuji are dead. Both had advanced cases of CTE. Bundy is also dead.

Mets legend Tom Seaver dies at 75 after battle with dementia

“Seaver had dropped out of public life in March last year after being diagnosed with dementia. He spent the remainder of his life at his home in California, reportedly dying peacefully in his sleep of complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19. The New York Daily News reported that Lyme disease also played a part in his death.”

311 lifetime wins with a 2.86 ERA.

Led the league in wins three times; ERA three times – that was six different seasons. Led the league in strikeouts five times.

Won the Cy Young Award three times. Also finished second twice and third twice. Totals: nine times in the top five, eleven times in the top ten.

Struck out 200 or more in nine consecutive seasons. Nobody else has ever done that.

Led the 1969 Mets to the World Series win with 25 wins in the regular season and two more in post-season competition.

Batters love Coors Field in general. The Giants loved it more than usual tonight, amassing 27 hits. Alex Dickerson blasted three homers and two doubles in their 23-5 rout of the Rockies.

  • That ties the all-time record for most extra base hits in a game.
  • That ties Willie Mays’ team record for most total bases in a game.
  • Dickerson’s first homer traveled 480 feet.
  • His double in the ninth inning traveled 414 feet, and could easily have been his fourth homer if it had landed in just about any other spot in the ballpark.
  • Dickerson, Donovan Solano and Brandon Crawford are the first trio of teammates EVER to have 6+ RBI in the same game. (Since 1920, when RBI became an official stat).

It was kind of a crazy offensive night for road teams in general. In addition to the Giants’ record output in Colorado:

  • The Cardinals collected 23 hits of their own in a 16-2 shellacking of the Reds in Cincinnati.
  • The Braves had 10 runs on 14 hits against the Bosox at Fenway.
  • The Tigers had 12 runs on 14 hits in Milwaukee.
  • The Indians had 10 runs on 17 hits in KC.

It was a bad night to root, root, root for the home team.