Happy Hump Day, readers. We’re three days into the second coming of the Daily Six Pack, which makes it Wednesday. There’s all kinds of news going on, as usual, including some very sad news about a former NBA player. There’s some very happy news, however, for a beleaguered fan base in Major League Baseball. Today’s Six Pack certainly runs the gamut of emotions, so let’s see what’s making headlines today.
Cubs Win! Cubs Win!
Most of us have to remember coming home from school and watching the Cubs on WGN. I never became a Cubs fan, but there was something special about listening to Harry Caray and watching those Wrigley matinee weekday games. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. Up until Tuesday night, they had never clinched a playoff series at Wrigley Field. They made history by beating the Cubs 6-4 in Game 4 to advance to the NLCS. Is more history awaiting the Cubs?
The Cubs are certainly ahead of schedule, as an incredible collection of young talent has come together to orchestrate one of the most exciting seasons in Cubs history. Javier Baez, who spent the majority of the season in Triple-A, hit a moonshot to put the Cubs in front in the second inning and they never trailed again. Kyle Schwarber hit a ball that probably landed sometime while I was writing this article in the seventh. Anthony Rizzo homered in the sixth. Kevin Siegrist gave up those two bombs. The Cardinals southpaw allowed four home runs in 74.2 regular season inning. He gave up three solo shots in this series.
The Cubs ran into a perfect storm in this series. The Cardinals rotation is wrecked with underlying injuries and the lineup featured several guys playing at less than 100 percent. That’s not to take anything away from the Cubs, who are young, hungry, and exceptionally talented. In order to win a World Series, sometimes things have to shake out the right way. The Cubs won the Wild Card Game at Pittsburgh and then beat the only team in baseball to win 100 games. There’s a lot to be said about that.
The journey gets tougher next season against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Mets, both of whom are mostly operating at 100 percent. Ruben Tejada is out for the Mets, but Wilmer Flores is the better offensive player. The Cubs also get a couple days to come down from the emotional high of winning, while the Mets have to trek cross-country yet again. If the Mets win, the travel could be a big help for the Cubs. If the Dodgers win, they will stay at home to host Game 1. The Mets also have home field, but it would come after a back-and-forth flight.
The Cubs are currently the favorites to win the World Series because nobody else has clinched a spot. But, this magical run on the North Side won’t soon be forgotten.
Crushing A Narrative
How many times have we heard it? Clayton Kershaw “isn’t a big game pitcher”. The best pitcher in the world has been chastised for his postseason performances far too often in his career. We’re talking about small sample sizes relative to his regular season dominance. The Dodgers have scored 3.45 runs per game in Kershaw’s playoff starts. He’s struck out 77 batters in 64.2 innings and has allowed just 52 hits. These are largely sequencing issues, which, oftentimes, are more about bad luck than bad pitching. When the Dodgers needed him, Kershaw went out and threw a gem on Tuesday night. He scattered three hits over seven innings and struck out eight.
The series now shifts back to Los Angeles on Thursday with Zack Greinke against Jacob deGrom. With the exception of Game 3’s offensive showcase, this has been a very low-scoring series. The Dodgers benefitted from a questionable call in Game 2 to score five runs, but two of the games have ended in 3-1 scores and the other was a 5-2 final. Bettors should expect a very low-scoring game on Thursday between two of the league’s best.
Lamar Odom has had a rough life. It would have killed most guys a long time ago. As Odom fights for his life in a Las Vegas hospital, an outpouring of support and well wishes, the questions surrounding what happened seem to have taken a back seat. Odom was found unresponsive by two women at a legal brothel in southern Nevada.
Odom is widely considered once of the nicest guys around the NBA. He has every reason to be angry at the world, after his mother died of cancer when he was 12, his infant son died of SIDS at six months old, he was thrust into the public eye when he married Khloe Kardashian, he is going through a divorce from Kardashian, and his father was a drug addict. Odom was a passenger in a fatal car accident that killed a cyclist, who was 15 years old, and he had two drug setbacks in the NBA, one after a cousin passed away. He also has a drunk driving charge and no longer plays in the NBA, so he’s regularly looking for things to do with his time.
People handle personal tragedies differently. Not everybody goes to the bottle, for pills or alcohol. Whatever Lamar Odom was involved in, the overarching point is that it’s sad. The basketball world is certainly hoping for the best. Odom was too tall to be transported by a medical helicopter, just another one of life’s unfair curveballs delivered his way. Varying reports state that Odom is dealing with multiple organ problems, is in critical condition, and that he is comatose. None of these have been confirmed by the hospital, but it’s safe to say that the situation is grave.
Not to get on a soapbox here, and not to judge Odom in any way, but if you’re having problems, there are people that care. Reach out for help.
The US Men’s National Team lost 1-0 to Costa Rica on Tuesday night. It was a quick turnaround from this past weekend’s loss to Mexico, but it was an inexcusably lackluster performance. This is the third straight loss for the team on US soil and a lot of fingers are being pointed. It may be time for a change, as head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has come under a lot of fire lately.
Klinsmann dismissed Fabian Johnson from the team for taking himself out of Saturday’s game, but it came to light that Johnson was being treated for a hamstring injury. Klinsmann’s misguided message didn’t sit well with the team and the fact that Johnson is actually hurt will likely send ripples through the roster.
To be fair, the Americans had a watered down roster on Tuesday because nine players were sent back to the teams that they are under contract with after Saturday’s loss. But, none of the regular bench players and replacements was able to make any sort of tangible impact.
World Cup qualifying begins next month and there are a lot of rumbles in the soccer community that the US team is going to have a hard time during those games.
There were a couple of interesting stories to come out of the preseason. The Cleveland Cavaliers, playing without LeBron James, and obviously Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, remain winless in the preseason. They are the only Eastern Conference team without a win. In a general sense, it doesn’t matter, but the Cavs have faltered in the fourth quarter in each of their last three games. Depth is going to be a big issue for the Cavs this season because head coach David Blatt needs to monitor LeBron’s workload and also has the injury situations to Irving and Love. Those guys will make a significant difference when they play, but the loss of Tristan Thompson and some of the aging bench players are becoming concerns.
Kobe Bryant left the Los Angeles Lakers game with a bruised leg and then reportedly took off to be by the side of teammate Lamar Odom. The Lakers would be better off without Kobe, who is dropping off rapidly. He’s played a lot of basketball in his career and these bumps and bruises seem to be taking a bigger toll than they had in the past.
Derrick Rose will miss the rest of the preseason and could miss a portion of the regular season while he recovers from a fractured orbital bone. Rose’s body, which has not been an ally throughout his career, has been a source of frustration once again. He suffered the injury on September 29 in practice and was supposed to be back in two weeks, but he has additional swelling around the eye. Remember that rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg opens the season with three games in four nights, including a matchup with the aforementioned Cavs.
The 2015-16 PGA Tour season kicks off this week with the Frys.com Open at Silverado Country Club in Napa, California. Rory McIlroy headlines a field that includes a handful of players that participated in last weekend’s Presidents Cup. This is the first chance to accumulate FedEx Cup points and McIlroy is honoring his commitment from last season, which he skipped because he was eligible for the Grand Slam of Golf. McIlroy is the favorite this week, as you can read about in our tournament preview.
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