What a wild week in sports this week. For that matter what a wild summer of sports. There were, however, a few stories that caught my attention. In no particular order, here we go.
We are two whole games into the 2021/22 season and already the Blackhawks defense looks like a younger, and faster, version of last years road pylons. New, and reigning Vezina Trophy, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had the look of a man who just realized he is heading for his execution, after the first nine minutes of the game Wednesday night in Denver.
Coming from a defense first team in Las Vegas, to a defense occasionally team in Chicago, has been a shock to his system. He faced more shots on goal in the first ten minutes of his first game than he did in the last month of games in Vegas.
The Blackhawks to their credit, realized they had a defense problem in the offseason and made some major changes. They traded away long time standout Duncan Keith, and released or traded eight others, in a cleaning house move.
They brought in the biggest name in free agency this year by signing Seth Jones and some lessor known players joined the teams rebuilt back line. Unfortunately, new faces, same bad defense so far. It is early, and I will give them some time to figure out their roles, but yikes what a mess.
Speaking of messes, I can't let another minute pass without talking about the "check swing" from game five of the NLDS between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pictured above is the best shot I could find of Giants first baseman Wilmer Flores swing to end the series. First base umpire Gabe Morales, who is from Santa Clara by the way, called it strike three to end the Giants season.
I thought it was close and could have gone either way. I have seen less of a swing called this year, and in the playoffs for that matter, so I think he went around. The actual definition in the rule books if very vague as to what a check swing should be. Did he attempt to swing at the pitch? If you watch the video it sure looks like it.
Here is the point though. A playoff series should never end on something like this, it is just not right. Let the players on the field decide something this important. And by the way, it is not fair to the umpires either to be put in that position.
If you think Gabe Morales dreamed of going down in history as this generations Don Denkinger, well you would be wrong. If they had replay in 1985, Denkinger would have been overturned, and nobody would know his name today.
Baseball needs to make a few adjustments in today's game, and one of them needs to be ending a series, or playoff game, on a check swing call should not be allowed. Games should be decided on the field, by players, like I said earlier.
While I'm writing about baseball, the St. louis Cardinals fired manager Mike Shildt this week after he brought them back from death, to the playoffs with an incredible run to end the season. Apparently he and the general manager aren't on the same page anymore. Shildt felt the teams depth sucks, and the GM thinks the manager should just manage. (I'm guessing here because nobody is saying why right now)
But that is not the story. One of the leading candidates to replace the best name in baseball, Shildt, is none other than the great Stubby Clapp. I swear to god. Apparently Harry Itchyballs was under contract so they are looking elsewhere.
I hope to god they hire Clapp, because I can't wait for the Cardinals first visit to Wrigley Field next year. The writers are going to have a field day if he gets the job. You just can't make this stuff up.
Another team named Cardinals is having a much better year so far. The Arizona Cardinals are the best team in the NFL right now as the only remaining undefeated team at 5-0. They are this years version of the Kansas City Chiefs, fun to watch, and good.
They are led by their exciting quarterback Kyler Murray, who is really good and really entertaining. The whole offense is improved and their defense is better than last year, all of which has led them to first place and, an undefeated season so far. Will they sustain this all year? Not likely, but what a joy to watch so far.
Not as joyful, sadly, has been the run on shootings related to high school football games recently. Philadelphia, Santee, CA, and two in Alabama, Mobile and Birmingham, have rocked the local communities. Last night there was an increased police presence at the LaQuinta/Palm Desert football game because of suspected potential problems. These are two of the wealthiest towns in the Coachella Valley, so this is not an inner city problem.
I know that, for some, high school football is life, but it doesn't need to be life and death. Unfortunately I think we will see many more of these incidents before things get back under control.