Category Archives: Sports

NFL Trivia

From p. 65 of Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback book:

At one point the same lawyer represented Barry Switzer, Jerry Jones[,] and Larry Lacewell of the Cowboys. The lawyer’s name was Larry Derryberry. They once dined together. At the table: Barry, Jerry, Larry[,] and Larry Derryberry.

Great Moments in Umpiring

umpire strikeout call
From pages 20-21 of Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo’s amusing 1988 book Baseball Confidential:

Steve Lyons, White Sox — Lyons says that when he was a rookie, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry after he questioned Jerry Neudecker over a third strike. “I said, ‘man, that pitch was high.’ And he said, ‘You don’t say that to me. You ask me if that pitch was high.’ So I said, ‘All right, was that pitch high?’ And he replied, ‘Yeah, it was. But I still called it a strike and that means you’re out.’ I ended up laughing all the way back to the dugout.”

A Theory on NFL Draft Picks

As an NFL owner (I own one share of Green Bay Packers stock), I like to keep an eye on my team. So I regularly read Vic Ketchman’s daily Ask Vic column on the team website. One of my questions appeared in today’s column (Mike Spofford is temporarily filling in while Vic takes some time off):

Ryan from Arlington, VA

Mike, here’s a theory on why the league keeps its formula for awarding supplemental picks secret: It prevents GMs from gaming the system by making transactions based in part on how it would affect potential supplemental picks. Plausible?

Entirely.

Read the whole thing here. Among other things, I learned that Aaron Rodgers has thrown only one interception in his entire career that has been returned for a touchdown — the fewest in the league during that span (Tom Brady has thrown two).

Pitchers and Catchers

Today is a glorious day. Pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring training. The dark, depressing days in the calendar between football and baseball seasons are almost over.

This blog’s favorite team, the Milwaukee Brewers, don’t hold their first official workout until tomorrow. But many players have already shown up, whether out of a veteran’s offseason boredom or a prospect’s desire to make a good impression on the higher-ups. Either way, the boys of summer are getting ready, and opening day can’t get here soon enough.

Packers vs. Bears

cutler-woodson-reuters
Tomorrow, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will face off for the 187th time — the most any two teams have played each other in NFL history. It is the NFL’s marquee rivalry. The Packers have won 13 NFL championships, the most of any team. The Bears are second in NFL annals with 9.

The Packers have fared better in the Super Bowl era, winning 4 Lombardi trophies to Chicago’s lone victory in 1985. Then again, the Bears hold the edge in head-to-head play, with a 92-87-6 record, including playoffs.

The players are very much aware of their rivalry’s intensity, and seem to revel in it. Chicago’s best receiver, Brandon Marshall, said this week at a press conference:

“I don’t like the Green Bay Packers. I’m not going to use the word ‘hate,’ but I really dislike the Packers and their players,” Marshall said. “But you know what? The talk has to back it up. We’ll go out there and do everything we have to do to get a win.”

Marshall leads the NFL with 103 catches through 13 games. The Packers somehow kept him in check when they met earlier in the season, allowing only 2 catches for 24 yards. He has clearly taken it personally, calling tomorrow’s game the “biggest game of my career.”

Packer defenders have given Marshall plenty of reason to take umbrage, particularly Charles Woodson. After their last game Woodson, who will not play tomorrow due to injury, said of Jay Cutler, Chicago’s talented but interception-prone quarterback:

“Heard some talk out of the Bears: Packers secondary not working coverage, bigger receivers … we heard about it,” Woodson told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols after the game. “We understand that Jay is excited about his new weapons, but it’s the same-old Jay. We don’t need luck; Jay will throw us the ball.”

Cutler threw four interceptions that day, all but ensuring a Bears loss. No doubt he has been putting in extra time this week studying film and making sure his receivers know their routes, and his linemen know their protection schemes; tomorrow’s game should be a fun one. Cutler hasn’t historically played well against Green Bay, but when he’s having a good day, he drives his team up and down the field almost at will.

But enough about tomorrow. It turns out that 80 years ago, in 1932, this rivalry once had championship-level implications due to a quirk in the rules.

Recall that the Packers and Bears are the NFL’s two most decorated franchises, with 13 and 9 championships, respectively. Every week, Green Bay’s PR staff puts out a Dope Sheet packed with information about the Packers, that week’s opponent, their history together, roster information, and endless statistics. On page 5 of this week’s Dope Sheet I found a tidbit that there is an argument that maybe Green Bay should really have 14 championships to Chicago’s 8:

On the heels of its three straight NFL championships [1929-31]… the Bears stole from Green Bay a fourth straight title (which at the time was determined by league standings). Chicago barely finished atop the league standings, which unlike today did not count ties. Had the league counted ties in standings, the Packers would have won. The next year, 1933, theĀ  NFL began determining its champion with postseason games.

This was also the last time the Packers have led the all-time series. The Bears have held the advantage ever since — 80 years and counting.

They Did it

This was an eventful weekend for Brewers fans. First, the good news. They collected their 81st win, guaranteeing a non-losing season. With 4 games left, they are very likely to finish what earlier looked like a dismal season with a winning record. Could happen tonight, even.

The bad news is that they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs when they lost 7-0 to the Houston Astros, who are indisputably baseball’s worst team.

Good and bad, as with everything else. Besides, as Cubs fans have been saying for well over a century — there’s always next year. I’ll savor the end of this one, but already next season can’t come soon enough.

The Battle for Mediocrity

The Brewers’ playoff chances are down to 0.1 percent, according to CoolStandings.com. But that’s ok, because the team is on the cusp of a milestone victory. One more win guarantees a non-losing season. Two more would make for a winning season. Not bad for a team that was 12 games below .500 at one point earlier in the year.

There are five games left in the season. All are against weak opposition, so this feat of mediocrity appears eminently doable. As a fan, if playoffs aren’t in the picture, a non-losing season is a decent consolation prize.