October 6, Week in Sports
:: CHICAGO CUBS UPSET BY L.A. DODGERS (Pro. Baseball)
:: ANGELS, WHITE SOX AVOID SWEEP (Pro. Baseball)
:: OHIO STATE EDGES WISCONSIN (College Football)
A HUNDRED YEARS OF LOSSES
The Chicago Cubs, who were universally recognized as the best team in the National League, were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Chicago Cubs, in addition to being an excellent team this year, are also one of the most popular teams in the country, and their losing habits are well-documented by the national sports media.
Last year, the Chicago Cubs were favored in the first round of the playoffs when they played the Arizona Diamondbacks, who also swept the Cubbies. That means that in the past two years, the Cubs are 0-6 in post-season baseball. What stings even more is that this year was the 100-year anniversary of the Cubs’ last World Series victory. Every year, analysts talk about the “symmetry of baseball,” which had many Cubs fans believing that this would be the year that they would finally win the World Series. With the best record in the National League this year, they had reason to think that they had a decent chance. However, the Cubs were completely outplayed by the upstart Dodgers. It is safe to say that the Dodgers, led by mid-season acquisition Manny Ramirez, are red-hot and a legitimate post-season threat.
Elsewhere in the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies knocked off the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday afternoon. The Phillies and Dodgers will play in the NLCS, which begins on Thursday.
Quote of the Week: ”It wasn’t a collapse. ‘Collapse’ is too nice a word. A collapse would mean the Chicago Cubs actually showed up for the National League Division Series.” — Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN
Further Reading: ”Cubs swept away in L.A.” — Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune
Guardian Angels Keep Playoff Hopes Alive
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim came up with a bloop single in the top of the 12th inning to win Game 3 of their series against the Boston Red Sox. The Angels trail the series 2-1, which means that they are one game away from elimination.
The Boston Red Sox are one of the powerhouses of Major League Baseball, so they can never be considered true underdogs. That being said, the Angels had the best record in all of baseball this year, so it was surprising to see them lose their first to games to the Red Sox. However, their late inning heroics on Sunday kept their playoff hopes alive. The Red Sox and Angels will play Game 4 of their series on Monday night. That game is a must-win for the Angels, who are trying to force a fifth game in the series, and who are also fighting to change their reputation for choking in the post-season.
Elsewhere in the American League, the Chicago White Sox managed to win on Sunday to extend their series with the Tampa Bay Rays, who now lead the series 2-1. The two teams will play the fourth game of their series on Monday night.
Quote of the Week: “This was not a victory. This was an exorcism. The streaks are dead. The Angels are alive.” — Bill Shaikin, L.A. Times
Further Reading: “Halo Heroics” — Jerry Crasnick, ESPN
WISCONSIN GETS BADGERED BY BUCKEYES
No. 18-ranked Wisconsin lost a heartbreaker at home to No. 14 Ohio State on Saturday night. The game was a marquee matchup in the Big Ten Conference, and a huge win for an Ohio State team trying to climb their way back up the ladder.
Entering Saturday night’s game, Wisconsin had won 16 straight games at home, so snapping that streak was a major disappointment. The loss was even more devastating because the Badgers had the lead late in the fourth quarter, until Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor led his team to a dramatic comeback win. Pryor and Buckeyes running back Chris “Beanie” Wells are two of the premiere players in the league. Their clutch success on Saturday night on the national stage will only boost their reputations around the country.
Saturday’s loss marked the second consecutive loss for Wisconsin this year, which essentially means that they will have no chance to make the national championship game at the conclusion of the season. Ohio State, which was considered all but dead after a huge loss to USC, still only has one loss this year, so their BCS hopes are still alive.
Quote of the Week: “We had ‘em, and we let ‘em go.” — Jaevery McFadden, Wisconsin linebacker
Further Reading: “Buckeye Pr(y)orities” — Adam Rittenberg, ESPN
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: BASEBALL: The playoffs continue this week, as the first round is completed and the remaining teams advance to the second round of post-season play. On Monday night, the White Sox/Rays and Angels/Red Sox will play Game 4, and both of those games will be excellent. The Dodgers and Phillies begin their second-round series on Thursday in what promises to be a fun, high-scoring NLCS.
:: HOCKEY: The regular season truly kicks off this week, so if you’ve been waiting for a chance to get into hockey, this is it. Most newspapers will be providing season previews for the local team, which is a great place to start. An even better place to start–actually watching the games.
MLB (Pro. Baseball): This week marks the second week of the post-season. The remaining teams include. [Official MLB Website]
NFL (Pro. Football): The regular season is now underway. The standings will begin to take shape in just a few weeks, once teams begin to play their division rivals. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The college football is now in full swing. The Oklahoma Sooners are currently ranked the No. 1 team in the country. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. Now that the PGA Championship is over, mainstream golf news will most likely revolve around Tiger Woods’ return from injury and preparation for next year’s Majors. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The hockey season begins this week. The season runs through April of 2009. By the new year, the league power rankings should be pretty well set. [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The Celtics defeated the Lakers to win the NBA Finals, ending the 2008 season. The 2008 season begins later in October. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): Now that the tournament is over, college basketball news will focus on which players leave their schools for the NBA, and which college teams land the premier high-school players for next season. [CBS Sports]