What we're watching (all times EDT, unless noted): Qualifying for NASCAR'S Bank of America 500 is on ESPN2 at 7. Texas Southern-Alabama A&M college football is on ESPNU at 7:30. Game 4 of the NLCS between the Brewers and Cardinals is on TBS at 8. USC-Cal college football is on ESPN at 9. And the first round of the LPGA Malaysia is on tape-delay on the Golf Channel at 9:30.
Posnanski on the constant that is Cubdom: "This is an unromantic attempt to unwrap the most mysterious streak in sports. Yes, we're taking on the Chicago Cubs. Reports swirl around that Theo Epstein will become their next GM, the great Theo, the man who ended the Boston Red Sox curse. Epstein is a brilliant guy. But he should know: This one's different. See, this is not about how the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. Everybody talks about that, but it's deceiving. Between 1909 and 1945 the Cubs won seven pennants. They were a dominant team in the National League. It just so happened that they kept losing World Series. That was a different kind of pain. No, the streak we're talking about here is 66 years of not even reaching a World Series. It is the longest such streak in the history of baseball. Every single team except the Cubs that was in existence in 1946 has been to at least two World Series since - and the only team with only two pennants since World War II is the Chicago White Sox, who have probably had something rub off. The Pittsburgh Pirates have been to three. The Cleveland Indians have been to four. The Baltimore Orioles - formerly the St. Louis Browns - have been to six. Even before Theo's so-called-jinxed Boston Red Sox had won in 2004 and 2007, they had been to four World Series since World War II. They just hadn't won any of them. If this were just any team, then you might chalk up the streak to chance. Bad luck. Curses. Money problems. But the Cubs are not just any team. They are one of the most popular teams in all of baseball. They play at baseball's most famous corner: Clark and Addison. They are in one of America's biggest cities, in one of baseball's most famous ballparks, and they have one of baseball's most passionate fan bases. The Cubs have had a long series of great players - Hank Sauer, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Lou Brock, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Bill Madlock, Bruce Sutter, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux, Sammy Sosa and so on. And still: Zero pennants in 66 years. Why? Oh, there is no shortage of explanations in Chicago. Curses. Goats. Day games. Bad trades. Bad luck. Compliant fans. Unmotivated ownership. Bartman." [Sports Illustrated]
Oct. 13, 2005: Does JoePa Hate Lesbians Too?
Crosby is ready to get hit again: Penguins center Sidney Crosby has received clearance from his concussion team for "full contact" participation in practices. His black helmet at practice today was the tip off of this encouraging but not unexpected news. ‘It's a big step,' Crosby said. "I've got to get hit at some point during practice, but we're playing so much that it's tough to get hit too.' Crosby, who hasn't played in an NHL games since Jan. 5 because of a concussion, had been wearing an off-color helmet during practices dating to the start of training-camp sessions Sept. 17. That designated him as a ‘non contact' player. He said the way he has responded to practices ‘over the last few weeks... was a good sign.'" [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
Your Thai Optometrist Commercial Interlude:
Ken Tremendous on the Red Sox saga (from the footnotes):
"I'd like to briefly address the complete moron in the Red Sox organization who insinuated to a reporter that Terry Francona had a problem with prescription pills.
Congratulations! You have just (a) attacked the best and most popular manager your team has ever had while (b) displaying a complete lack of institutional loyalty, which (c) pretty much guarantees that no one in his right mind will want to manage your team now, and (d) turned everyone against each other causing (e) massive paranoia which will undoubtedly lead to (f) a thousand more stories about how dysfunctional your organization is, which will only intensify the ill effects of (b,c,d,e). You are the worst person in the world. Quit." [Grantland]
Spencer Hall confronts all the stupid talk by stupid people about Tim Tebow: "Tebow's run as the primary focus of stupid energy cannot possibly last as long as Brett Favre's, or at least sane citizens of these 50 assembled and very stupid states would hope not. For the health of the Republic, we would hope. I'm not saying there is a direct correlation between the two, but remember that Brett Favre's arrival in 1991 coincided with a recession, and that his waffling on retirement and descent into dramatic stupidity coincided with our nation's descent into the worst recession of our lifetimes. Brett Favre is not our famine vulture, but he may be one of its close friends. (You know, just pitchin' it around with Famine Vulture in the backyard.) Nevertheless, let's examine why stupid people of all kinds feel the need to discuss Tim Tebow, if only so that you can arm yourself against them." [SBNation]
Your respective comeback players of the year are...: "Outfielders Lance Berkman and Jacoby Ellsbury received the Comeback Player of the Year Awards for their bounce-back 2011 seasons, Major League Baseball announced Thursday." [ESPN]
Three games for Rooney: "Wayne Rooney will miss the entire group stage of the 2012 European Championship after receiving a three-game ban Thursday for kicking a player during England's final qualifier. European soccer's governing body cited him for his actions against Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic during a qualifying game last Friday. UEFA's rule book calls for three-game bans in cases judged to be assault, rather than the mandatory one-match ban for a red card." [AP]
Merch: Managing editor Tom Scocca and contributing editor Drew Magary have both written books. You can buy Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future here, and Magary's The Postmortal here. Now do it.
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