September is one of the best times for those of us who count baseball and football among our favorite sports. Baseball’s division races (what once meant pennant races and only one team from each league qualifying for postseason play) tend to come into focus when Labor Day rolls around. Labor Day also used to signal time for the start of college and pro football.
Thankfully, the NFL has seen the wisdom of starting Sept. 9, the Sunday after Labor Day. OK, with the exception of Wednesday’s (Sept. 5) Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants contest. Colleges began before the Labor Day weekend even began with most teams playing on Saturday (Sept. 1).
Lopdsided scores (such as USC over Hawaii 49-10, Oklahoma State over Savannah State 84-0, North Carolin over Elon 62-0 or Florida State over Murray State 69-3 or upsets (such as Youngstown State winning 34-17 at Pitt, or visiting Ohio University over Penn State 24-14, or Texas State topping host Houston 30-13) tend to highlight Week 1. Mismatches tends to make season statistics meaningless. Victories against small schools should be pro-rated, so that a victory vs. Elon counts about one-third of one against an actual Division 1 school does. And a loss to such a school should count double.
* If it’s any consolation to Chicago White Sox fans (and the guess here is that it is not), you don’t choke away a division title this early in September. And even after a 5-1 loss in Detroit in which Francisco Liriano allowed seven walks in four-plus innings before departing after 100 pitches, the Sox still lead the American League Central by one game over the Tigers (subject to change Sunday).
* If it’s any consolation to Sox fans (and the guess here is that it possibly could be), the team entered September in first place for the fifth time since 1993. The four other times they were atop the division at that date — 1993, 2000, 2005 and 2008 — they finished in first place. Further sleuthing might reveal leads blown in September, but we’ll save that for some other time, thank you.
* Cubs fans have no such concerns regarding winning anything this season. They can focus on other things, some of which might even be baseball-related. How about statistics? Rookie Brett Jackson struck out twice in Saturday’s loss to the Giants at Wrigley Field. To show you how that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Jackson grounded into a double play in his other at-bat.
* Speaking of the Cubs and strikeouts and double plays and things like that, rookie Josh Vitters swung at the only pitch he saw as a pinch-hitter and grounded into a double play. He is batting .083; Jackson is hitting .200. If you add both averages together, Anthony Rizzo still is hitting better: .291. Rizzo is the only Cub with 200 or more at-bats hitting .280 or better. Next closest is Starlin Castro at .275. Rizzo has struck out 40 times in 227 at-bats. Jackson has fanned 39 times in 80 at-bats and Vitters 20 times in 59 at-bats. Second baseman Darwin Barney has 48 strikeouts in 442 at-bats. Among the promotions the Cubs might want to consider at aleast one of their games would be some form of anti-depressant.
* Speaking of being depressed, if it’s any consolation to Michigan football fans (and the guess here is after a 41-14 season-opening loss to Alabama that it is not), your team plays its conference games in the Big Ten and not in the Southeastern Conference.
* Former White Sox leadoff hitter/left fielder Scott Podsednik batted third for Boston in its loss at Oakland. It was the first time he had batted in that spot in his big-league career. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. In case you were wondering how screwed up the Red Sox are in manager Bobby Valentine’s tumultuous return to the big leagues. Sometimes people are better-suited for broadcasting after their careers rather than using a TV gig as a means to return to the dugout or sidelines.
Speaking of broadcasting, Sept. 1 marked the debut of Erin Andrews on Fox television’s college football coverage.
There was supposed to be a pregame program for the Hawaii-Southern Cal contest (as viewers of the St. Louis Cardinals-Washington Nationals game can attest, thanks to innumerable promos), but the baseball game ran long.
Fox officials can only be thankful the Cards scored a run in the top of the ninth inning to prevail 10-9 to end the game as quickly as the contest did.
Just guessing this is not the way network powers or Andrews envisioned the start of her life after exiting ESPN.
No further critique here of her debut because some of us went out to dinner after the baseball game. As consolation, here is some unreleated video of her:
Still speaking of September, here is another tune with that month in the title:
Moving right along, and having very little to do with September — other than these videos were posted a few days before September — are some of the latest efforts from the fine folks at Playboy.com:
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