We admit this column is a little baseball-centric. With the MLB season over now (and not much really to talk about on TV last weekend, honestly), the time of the year turns to football. Seattle has just handed the Niners their first loss of the year, a top-three showdown between LSU and Alabama was a scorefest, and there was even a Big 10 game with neither team being Ohio State or Michigan that was worth watching.
Before we go any further, though, I'm reminded of a relatively new rule in the NFL that is absolutely stupid. It actually went into effect last season, but the league decided to shorten overtime periods from fifteen minutes, down to ten. If you love ties (and there have been two this season), the rule is for you, otherwise it stinks. After a missed field goal attempt by San Francisco, Seattle got within field goal range, and Jason Myers just tucked a 42-yarder inside the right upright as time expired for the 27-24 win, and an end to the Forty-Niners perfect season. The game was a thriller, and if Myers misses that kick, the game ends in a tie. Under the old rule, there would have been five more minutes of football left. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
There's also been a rule change in college football that I wasn't aware of until Saturday, that isn't necessarily stupid, but just a sign of the times. You can now fair catch a kickoff in bounds and in play, which results in bringing it out to the 25 yard line. In other words, the kicker doesn't even have to put the ball in the end zone anymore to result in a touchback. It's obviously a rule put in for safety reasons, but we're now just one more step from eliminating the kickoff altogether.
The 'must watch' game on Saturday was LSU-Alabama,. It was billed a week ago as number one versus number two (with LSU actually ranked first), but after the first official rankings of the season were unveiled on Tuesday, it became two vs. three. Still, it lived up to the billing, but instead of 'Bama winning a 9-6 defensive battle when the game was played in Tuscaloosa earlier this decade (2011), it was LSU in a 46-41 shootout. We know Alabama has been the best in the business pretty much ever since that 9-6 game, but it is nice to see that smug grin wiped off of coach Nick Saban's face one in awhile.
The LSU-Alabama game didn't start until 12:30, so as a nice warmup, there was Penn State vs. Minnesota, which began at 9. No need to get up that early, but both teams were unbeaten, and there was a lot of buzz about the Golden Gophers, which haven't really spent much time on the national scene in the last several decades (ever?). If you turned on the game in the second quarter, you saw that Minnesota had a decent lead. Sticking around to the end, the Gophers won it 31-26. Ohio State is the number one team in the country, but it would be cool if Minnesota ended up in the Rose Bowl.
After those two exciting games, I thought I'd eat dinner and then watch Nevada and San Diego State, but I fell asleep. At least Saturday Night Live was a rerun.
The Beach: UCLA's sleepy opening night men's basketball victory over Long Beach State Wednesday night was against a team that no longer calls themselves the Forty Niners. Last year, the school officially retired its Prospector Pete mascot when students protested the association with the Gold Rush and atrocities toward native Americans. In May, students voted to officially change their nickname to the Sharks, but for some reason, during a transition period, the school's teams will refer to themselves as The Beach, or Beach Athletics.
Awards week: Baseball, like all major sports in the United States, never really goes away. The free agency period starts hours after the conclusion of the World Series, which leads to stupid columns on my phone about blockbuster trades or signings the Dodgers could (but won't) make. Today, Yordan Alvarez of Houston (unanimously) won the American League Rookie of the Year award, and Pete Alonso of the NY Mets (who got all but one first place vote) took NL honors. The Managers of the Year will be announced on Tuesday, the Cy Young winners Wednesday, and the Most Valuable Player awards will be given out on Thursday. All announcements will be live on MLB Network during rhe 3pm hour Pacific Time.
A Sound(ers) victory: I'm a long way from being addicted to soccer, but I did watch Sunday's MLS Cup Final between Seattle and Toronto, and was very captivated by it. The game was 0-0 at halftime, although the 45 minutes (plus a minute of stoppage time) flew by very quickly. Seattle ended up winning 3-1 even though the announcers with the British accents say Toronto was the better team in the first half.
No snow bowl: My television viewing guide that comes with my DVR said the Sacramento market was going to get the Carolina-Green Bay game Sunday afternoon instead of the LA Rams at Pittsburgh. Upset by this, I decided to watch soccer instead. When the soccer match was over, I flipped back to (American) football, and found out that my guide was wrong. The Rams-Steelers game was on, and I was delighted until the Rams lost, and then found out the game in Green Bay was being played in a snowstorm. There's nothing better than football in the snow. Now I wish my guide was right.