Saturday, October 1, 2022

Alabama rolls to top of preseason AP Poll again, plus Dodgers’ pitching staff dealt another major blow

Happy Tuesday, all. Hope you’re well.

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Alabama is atop the preseason AP Poll for the fifth time in the last seven years. The Crimson Tide also topped the preseason coaches poll last week.

Here’s the top five, according to the AP voters, with first-place votes in parentheses.

It’s the exact same top five as the Coaches Poll, but, according to college football expert Shehan Jeyarajah, one of those five clearly doesn’t belong.

  • Jeyarajah:Overrated: Clemson — With perhaps the best defense in the nation coming back, along with a few promising pieces on offense, it’s fair to believe that a disappointing three-loss campaign in 2021 was simply a blip… But No. 4 in the country? That’s a little much. The Tigers are starting from scratch at two key coaching positions following the departures of offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and defensive coordinator Brent Venables… Additionally, Clemson has a big question mark at quarterback after DJ Uiagalelei ranked last among 15 qualified ACC quarterbacks in passing efficiency last year.”

You can see the entire poll here and all of Shehan’s reactions to it here.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

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WALKER BUEHLER AND THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS…

Dodgers ace Walker Buehler will undergo season-ending elbow surgery next week, dealing a serious blow to the World Series favorites.

  • Buehler has not pitched since June 10 and appeared in just 12 games this season, going 6-3 with a 4.02 ERA.
  • The Dodgers are an MLB-best 80-34 and, at +360, have the shortest odds to win the World Series at Caesars Sportsbook.
  • Buehler, a two-time All-Star, finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting last year. He owns a career 2.94 postseason ERA and a 0.69 ERA in two World Series starts.

The Dodgers have kept rolling all year despite some underachieving batters and several injuries — Clayton Kershaw is currently on the 10-day IL, for example — but this is a huge disappointment for both player and team.

… AND ALSO NOT SUCH A GOOD MORNING FOR CHRIS WOODWARD AND THE TEXAS RANGERS

An expensive offseason plus a bad record is usually a great formula to get yourself fired. Rangers manager Chris Woodward just found out the hard way, becoming the fourth MLB manager to be fired this year as Texas heads toward yet another losing season.

  • The Rangers went 211-287 in nearly four full seasons under Woodward, including 51-63 this year.
  • The team gave out over $500 million in guarantees this offseason, with Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray as the headliners.
  • Texas is a putrid 6-24 in one-run games this season. That’s on pace to be the second-worst mark since 1900; only the 1935 Boston Braves were worse (7-31).

Woodward joins Joe Girardi (Phillies), Joe Maddon (Angels) and Charlie Montoyo (Blue Jays) as managers to be fired this season. Our MLB expert R.J. Anderson has five more names who could be on the hot seat, including…

Not so honorable mentions

Yankees fall again in Power Rankings; MLB releases playoff schedule ⚾

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Another week, another fall for the Yankees in our MLB expert Matt Snyder’s Power Rankings. The Bronx Bombers, who have spent most of this season in first in the rankings, are down to fifth.

  • Snyder: “Through July 8, the Yankees only needed to go 39-39 to win 100 games this season. Surely that was a slam dunk, right? Well, now they need to go 28-18 the rest of the way to go to exactly 100-62. Is anyone confident they can do that right now? As for the ranking, which I’m certain will be the lowest out there, they’ve banked a ton of credit but just look awful right now.”

The top five held pretty steady, with the Dodgers at the top, followed by the Mets, Astros and Braves, who leapfrogged the Yankees. As for the biggest risers, the Guardians went from 15th to ninth while the Blue Jays (seventh to 10th) and Twins (12th to 15th) were two of the four teams tied for the biggest drop as they battle for AL playoff positioning.

Speaking of the playoffs, MLB revealed the postseason schedule, and here are some key takeaways.

  • The best-of-three Wild Card series begin Oct. 7 and will be played on three consecutive days (if necessary).
  • There are no off days between Games 4 and 5 of both the divisional and championship series.
  • Game 7 of the World Series would take place Nov. 5. It would be the latest calendar date for a World Series game ever.

Hall-of-Fame basketball coach Pete Carril dies at 92 🏀

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Pete Carril, the legendary Princeton men’s basketball coach who popularized the Princeton Offense, died at 92.

  • Carril was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998.
  • He coached at Princeton from 1967-96, amassing 514 wins, 13 Ivy League titles, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and the 1975 NIT title. He only posted one sub-.500 season.
  • Prior to his career at Princeton, Carril played at Lafayette and was a head coach at Lehigh. After his time with Princeton, he was an assistant coach for the Kings.

Carril and the Princeton Offense go hand-in-hand. While he didn’t invent the system, he brought it into the modern era, making him ahead of his time, writes our college basketball reporter Kyle Boone.

  • Boone: “Designed to space the floor and stress defenses, the Princeton offense thrived off ball movement, shooting and selfless play in a position-less style system that prioritized — same as the NBA now — motion and assignments that can lead to open shots and easy layups. The system Carril espoused made Princeton, oftentimes outmanned, a troubling matchup even for the most talented teams it faced. In 1989, it gave No. 1-seeded Georgetown a big scare before falling 50-49 in a game that would have made Carril’s team the first No. 16 seed in NCAA Tournament history to defeat a No. 1 seed. In 1996, in what was Carril’s last win as a college head coach, No. 13 seed Princeton stunned reigning national champion UCLA.”

Alvin Kamara unlikely to face discipline from NFL in 2022 🏈

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Alvin Kamara appears likely to start the season — and potentially be available for the entirety of it — as a potential suspension could be delayed.

  • Kamara is expected to receive at least a six-game suspension for his alleged role in a fight at a Las Vegas nightclub on the eve of the Pro Bowl.
  • He faces multiple charges, including a felony count of battery resulting in substantial bodily harm, after allegedly punching and injuring a man.
  • The hearing, however, has been delayed three times this offseason and is now scheduled for Sept. 29, well after the Saints‘ season opener Sept. 11. Any discipline from the NFL would likely wait until the case is resolved.

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺

Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. on TBS

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