Big Ten: The Conference’s Hopes Rest On Ohio State

Want to see a Big Ten team in the College Football Playoff? You’ll have to hope that Ohio State can beat the odds and make it in over Oklahoma or Georgia, because once again, there’s a number of teams that possibly deserve to get in, and only four spots. The worst case scenario for Ohio State would be a Georgia victory against Alabama, which would have caused Alabama to fall in the standings and likely would have seen them take the final playoff spot based on being the most dominant team of the year.

That didn’t happen. But the other scenario isn’t exactly good for Ohio State, either. Even with Georgia losing, the fact that they played such a close game with Alabama and finished the season with only two losses will cause some to argue that they should be in. Even if this gets dismissed as SEC bias, there’s also Oklahoma to think about. The Sooners and Ohio State are nearly neck and neck this season in terms of accomplishments, and OU didn’t benefit the Buckeyes by losing the Big 12 title game to their rivals from Texas.

Oklahoma came into conference championship week one spot above Ohio State in the standings. Both teams handled what they needed to handle and won their respective conferences, but it’s hard to pick Ohio State over Oklahoma if you consider the rest of their seasons. Both teams are 12-1, but they’ve had very different stories.

Style matters when it comes to making the playoffs and in Oklahoma’s 12 wins, they’ve struggled less than Ohio State has in the games that they shouldn’t have struggled in. While they did win their conference, their games like the narrow victories against poor Nebraska and Maryland teams that will count against them when comparing them to an Oklahoma team that has one of the top offenses in the country.

Ohio State is an underdog to make the playoffs. You could argue that both Georgia and Oklahoma have better cases to get in, but there’s no telling what will happen once the committee sits down to make their decision.

This wasn’t a great season for the Big Ten as a conference, really. Michigan faltered in the end, keeping them from claiming a higher ranked Ohio State as a quality win and potentially beating Northwestern to get into the playoffs. Penn State’s down year ensured that they were out of the race with months left in the season, and a weak Big Ten West left the eastern part of the conference as the sole hope to send a team to the postseason.

But what does Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer have to say about it? “Well, I think all you have to look at is the body of work. We went on the road and had some tough wins, TCU, Penn State, Michigan State. And then to come back and play against our rivals the way we did. And then we went and represented the eastern conference and had a great game here. I think we deserve a shot.”

Does OSU deserve that shot? They might. But we’ll just have to wait until later today to see if they get it. After all, when it comes to this part of the season, you can throw your predictions out the window.

New York Yankees Flashback: Stick, Rags, and Moose

New York Yankees

Yankees “Stick” the Landing

Twelve home runs and 204 rbi’s over seven seasons for a position player are undoubtedly mediocre numbers. And if said player also had three managerial stretches with the New York Yankees that all netted positive results (34-22 prestrike in 1981; 14-12 post-strike; and 44-42 in 1982), they hardly merited many boldface declarations either. But few would dispute, despite those ordinary numbers, that the acquisition of Gene “Stick” Michael from the Dodgers on November 30, 1967, was a huge move for the Yankees in the latter years of the last century. It was bad news to all of Yankee land, and baseball, when Stick passed away in 2017.

Yankee lefthander Dave Righetti rode his 8-4, 2.06-era 1981 season to that year’s American League Rookie of the Year Award, granted to Rags on November 30. He posted a 74-61 record with 224 saves in the Bronx from 1979 through 1990. The southpaw led the league in saves in 1986, and won two AL Rolaids Relief Awards. He also came in fourth in the 1986 Cy Young voting and 10th in the MVP tally. Righetti led the American League in strike outs per nine innings in 1982.

The Yankees signed free agent righty Mike “Moose” Mussina to a six-year contract on November 30, 2000. The first of three highlights of his career in Pinstripes was a 1-0 win-or-go-home victory over Barry Zito and the A’s in Game Three of the 2001 ALDS, Second, his work in relief of Roger Clemens in Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox ensured the game would continue to be played until Aaron Boone put his stamp on Yankee history. And his 20-win season in 2008 was the only one in his long career.

A Tale of Two Pitchers

Yankee November 30 birthdays are highlighted by two pitchers, good ones too, though the career of only one worked out well in the Bronx. Tall, lanky lefty reliever Steve Hamilton (1935) was famous for tossing a slow looping pitch which he called “the Folly Floater.” Steve had a taste of some good teams in his early years in the Bronx, and posted a fine 34-17 mark with 33 saves from 1963-1970. Righthander Bob Tewksbury (1960) debuted to a 10-9 record with the 1986-1987 Yankees. During his career Bob posted a 110-102 mark with the Cubs, the Rangers, the Padres, the Twins, but mostly five years with the Cardinals. A 19th-round Yankee amateur draft pick in June 1981, Tewksbury was traded away to the Cubs in July 1987 for a totally ineffective Steve Trout. This was one of many bad eighties trades in which the Bombers sent away young talent for veteran players.

Odell Beckham Jr: New York Giants Are “A Winning Organization”

Odell Beckham Jr. has been one of the biggest supporters of the New York Giants this season. When the team started 1-7, Beckham was one of the players that remained positive and talked about how close the team had come to victory in certain games, and about how they could bounce back if they just made some adjustments and worked hard at it. When they defeated the 49ers to start the second half of the regular season, Beckham was in the camp that believed the Giants could go 8-0 to make the playoffs.

With their loss to the Eagles, the hopes for that are out the window. Beckham, however, hasn’t thrown in the towel yet and for better or worse, still has optimism at this point. “I wanted to win all eight, that’s not what happened, but there’s no giving up, there’s no quit, not from me or anybody in here. Just gotta win these last whatever games, see what happens.”

Perhaps more interestingly, Beckham had something to say about the Giants organization, which hasn’t been popular with the fans and hasn’t had a good reputation with neutral commentators and analysts this season. After all, from the outside looking in, things seem like a trainwreck. Even for Giants fans, it’s hard not to describe the season that way. But Beckham’s take was different.

“This is a winning organization. They’ve won in the past, so just gotta trust the process and at some point in time the goal is to obviously hang a banner and raise that trophy, so all you could do is just be optimistic and keep pushing forward and get better.”

The only thing is, this isn’t a winning organization. It was one in the past, but the Super Bowl years are long gone and even making the playoffs feels like a distant memory at this point. The Giants have underachieved consistently in recent years and that led to the organization cleaning house and replacing both the General Manager and the coach during the same offseason. Not something that happens in a winning organization.

But even if this take is off in terms of accuracy, one can’t complain about Beckham remaining motivated despite the bad circumstances this year. This kind of energy and optimism will be useful when the team is winning again in the future, and it’s not something you come across in every player.