Monday, November 05, 2018


OCTOBER 22, 2018

This was a game that was always scary to me. Nightmare visions of LB Khalil Mack, LB Danny Trevathan and rookie LB Roquan Smith plus ex-Patriot DT Akiem Hicks chasing Tom Brady all over Soldier Field gave me the chills. The Bears would have 1 sack – by Roquan Smith. They had 2 other QB hits but none by those I feared. In fact, LT Trent Brown was a monster, devouring Khalil Mack. On one play Mack ran into Brown and just bounced off him, out of the play. A treat.

On this day, the game would seesaw between tricks and treats. The Pats scored on their 1st possession on an Edelman 9 yd reception. At 7-3 NE, Cordarrelle Patterson fumbles the kickoff at his own 24. My view was that Patterson fumbled when he ran into his own blocker (Grigsby). QB Mitchell Trubisky runs it in on a 3rd and 10 for the TD.

The second quarter had just started when Sony Michel was twisted like a pretzel by Bilal Nichols and fumbled on the NE 36. There’s a 3rd and 5 stop but JC Jackson’s penalty gives the Bears another chance and they score on a Howard run. It’s 17-7 Bears.

The Pats needed a treat – they got it as Patterson returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a TD. 17-14 Bears.

There was another treat waiting as after a 3 and out, Brady led the team on a 12 play, 64 yard drive consuming 5:48 and scoring on a pass in the right flat to White. 21-17 NE.

As the second half started, I’m thinking ‘OK, sanity has been restored. There will be no more tricks, no more bad dreams that become reality’. Those thoughts were ended when Chicago took the 2nd half kickoff and drove for a TD that put them back ahead at 24-21.
Trubisky, who haunted the Patriots all day with his scrambling and running (but not his passing), ran 39 yards to the NE 1 to set up that TD.

After Gostkowski tied it with a 29 yd FG, then came the treats that would carry the Patriots to victory in this ghoulish game. Dont’a Hightower blocked a Pat O’Donnell punt, and Kyle Van Noy ran 29 yards for the 2nd special teams TD on the day.

On the Bears 3rd possession, Trubisky treated NE with an ill advised throw that was intercepted by JC Jackson, who wrested the ball from Joshua Bellamy at the NE 21.

While Jackson’s INT did not lead to a score, Trubisky had more treats to offer as he
was intercepted again, this time by Jonathan Jones at the NE 4. A 55 yard pass to Josh Gordon (great YAC) to the NE 1 led to the shovel pass to James White to make it 38-24.

That seemed safe, right? Well, it was until Tom Brady threw a poor pass to James Develin, and it deflected off his hands and was intercepted. Naturally the Bears went down and scored a TD to another beast the Pats had trouble containing – TE Trey Burton. 38-31.

The next series proved crucial for the Patriots. With 4:05 left in the game, NE used the running of James White (and some great offensive line blocking) to garner two 1st downs. When the Pats punted, the Bears got the ball back with 24 seconds left.

It did get a little dicey when Trubisky hit WR Kevin White with a pass down to the NE 1, but Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty stopped White there and the game ended. Josh Gordon was in on D for the play, but jumped and missed the ball in front of White. The replay showed that Kyle Van Noy was in Trubisky’s face as he threw the Hail Mary prayer. It resulted in the pass not making it to the end zone where the nightmare might have continued. The final treat in a scary win.

With the ALCS tied 1-1 in games and the venue moving to Houston’s Minute Maid Park, Fenway Park fans wanted to know how their team would fare against this formidable foe, the Houston Astros, defending World Series Champions.

Prior to Game #3, 3B Alex Bregman made an egregious error by trolling Sox Game #3 starter Nathan Eovaldi. Bregman posted a video on Instagram showing George Springer, Jose Altuve and himself hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs earlier in the year off Eovaldi when he was with Tampa Bay. Word is that Eovaldi is not much into social media so he didn’t see it, but I’m sure that he heard about it. A message to Bregman: You poke the Bear and the Bear will bite back. Eovaldi won his matchup with Dallas Keuchel and put the Sox up 2 games to 1. His 6 innings (6 hits 2 walks and 2 Earned Runs) were far better than Sale and Price’s starts. If Eovaldi was nervous, the Alvin, Texas native, who pitched in front of Nolan Ryan (also from Alvin), didn’t show it.

Alex Cora had decided that Bregman would not be the one to Do Damage to The Red Sox. Batting 3rd, Bregman was walked 7 times in the first 3 games. Then AJ Hinch panicked as he moved Bregman to lead off batter. Baseball players are creatures of habit and have their comfort zones. George Springer has led off all year, except when hurt. Hitting leadoff in Games #4 (0 for 5) and #5 (0 for 4), Bregman contributed little offensively, and he didn’t walk in either of those last two games.

Hinch also made a surprise move in Game #5 as he moved Carlos Correa into the cleanup spot usually manned by Yuri Gurriel. Correa has been battling injuries. He went 0 for 4 in that cleanup spot. Gurriel batting 5th was 2 for 3 with a walk but no RBI.

The Red Sox stunned Houston with just enough starting pitching and a decent bullpen that mixed and matched to keep leads. Cora’s use of Porcello in Game #2 and Eovaldi in Game #5 in the 8th inning was the key to bridging to Craig Kimbrel and getting wins.

A look at final stats show that the Red Sox batted .233 to Houston’s .219. Sox pitching had a 4.00 ERA while the Astros were at 5.52. The Sox scored 27 earned runs against the Astros and beat two of their starters (Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander) and two of their relievers (Joe Smith and Jonas James).

Remarkably it wasn’t Betts (.217) and Benintendi (.208), one RBI each, who led the way with their bats. But their gloves did the damage with Betts robbing Altuve of a home run and Bregman a probable double. All Benintendi did was making a diving catch with the bases loaded to end Game #4, preserving the win, Kimbrel's save and the sanity of Sox fans.

It was a total team effort. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit .200 with just 3 hits. But those three hits, a bases loaded double (Game #2), grand slam (Game #3) and 2-run homer (Game #4), changed the complexion of those games and garnered the ALCS MVP for JBJ.

Catchers Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez blocked almost every pitch in the dirt. And David Price won his start, and doesn't have to answer questions about no playoff wins.

Alex Cora made all the right moves. He got a great 43rd birthday gift as the BoSox closed out the Astros. Now it's 'Beat LA. Beat LA'. 4 more games to be won by Boston.

Reading Bill Reynolds' Saturday Bullets column, I was shocked to see him say "The World Series is just frosting" for the Red Sox. I dashed off an email to him and said winning the 2018 World Series is the raison d'être of this Red Sox team and anything less will be a disappointment. I also alerted a few others about the remark. Driller Killer had a great response: "Red Sox fans don't care about the frosting. We want the whole damn cake!! No cake for you, Bill Reynolds. Better to take a mulligan on this one."

It was my hope that the Red Sox would blast the Astros into Outer Space. They did. Houston will have the whole off-season to ponder how they got swept 3 games at home.
Driller Killer had scored tickets for us for Game #6. We didn't mind missing it. As a fan you want your team to win in as few games as possible in the playoffs.

Mike Vrabel's Titans scored a TD with seconds left. He had his team go for two and the win rather than kick the tying extra point and go to Overtime. The Chargers were thrilled when the 2-point conversion was missed. This doesn't strike me as Belichickian.

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles somehow blew a 17-0 fourth quarter lead to the Panthers. The Eagles are now 3-4.

Cleveland's defense forced Tampa Bay into 2 INTs and 2 fumbles and still lost in Overtime. Getting called for 14 penalties for 114 yards may have something to do with it

The Cincinnati Bengals may be tied for 2nd in the AFC North (4-3), but they are one of only two teams to have given up over 200 points (203). The other is the 1-6 49ers (218).

After having no penalties against KC, the Patriots had 7 penalties (for 64 yards) against the Bears, and gave them 4 first downs by penalty.

Good Zine -hoping Sale will be up to Snuff - need big effort from Eovaldi.
Brother Roberto would be the answer to the trivia question.
Ken Forestal
Right you are on the quiz, Ken - it's Roberto Clemente. - Z

I know that one Jim. The Great One - Roberto Clemente ! He actually ran thru the third base coach’s stop sign to score the run. He overslid home plate and had to come back to tag it. 
Jim Dwyer
You are correct, Jim, and Roberto did it with no one out. - Z

Roberto Clemente. 1956.
Foot Joy
Yes, Foot Joy, you've got it. Z

Wow, Dick Dale was from Boston?? Never would have guessed that!
Patti Quimby
Patti, amazing what you can learn reading Sportzine, eh. Dick Dale, aka Richard Monsour, was born in Boston. The King of the Surf Guitar is from NE and the Atlantic Ocean! - Z

Sportzine is also available at thanks to Buffalo Steve Lenz

Last issue I mentioned the excellent documentary The Wrecking Crew to the usual cast of characters. It was on PBS recently so look for it there. I noted that in it, Herb Alpert relates that he made a million dollars on The Lonely Bull, which set him up for a lifetime source of cash due to royalties. And it is revealed that he then took some of that million and paid all the musicians from the Wrecking Crew who played on the song. Bravo!

So Fleet Feet Pete brought up another excellent musical documentary, the 3 hour 53 minutes History of the Eagles. That reminded me that the Eagles' Greatest Hits surpassed Michael Jackson's Thriller as the best selling album of all time.

Dr. John was talking to Special K and me and asked: 'Why do Scandinavian ships have bar codes on the side? We didn't know. His answer: 'So when the ships come back to harbor, they can scan the navy in.'

So I told Dr. John and Special K that I got stopped by a cop many years ago for speeding. The cop looked at my license and said it indicated that I needed glasses to drive. I told the cop, "I have contacts." The cop got angry and said "I don't care who you know!" It happened in Rhode Island, of course. This is a true story.

Last issue you were asked who was the only player to hit a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam. Only Ken Forestal, Jim Dwyer and Foot Joy got the answer – Roberto Clemente. My thanks again to reader Richard Flinn for submitting the excellent baseball trivia question which included the following: In 1954, the Pittsburgh Pirates made Clemente its first selection of the rookie draft. As a Pirate, Clemente would go on to win 12 Gold Gloves (tied for most among outfielders), four National League batting titles, two World Series rings, and the World Series MVP for 1971. Sadly, Roberto died in a plane crash, trying to bring aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on December 31, 1972. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973, the first Latin player to be enshrined.

This trivia was sent in by Ken Forestal: What artist got his start in a "Boston Sound" band that had a mild hit in 1967 - changed genres and penned an iconic tune? Name the Artist – the Band – the Hit - the Tune. My thanks to Ken.


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