As football players get more acrobatic, I’m struggling with what’s a touchdown and what isn’t. Why is it a touchdown if the football, held by a guy diving out of bounds, barely brushes the inside of the pylon? The pylon is out of bounds. Somebody get Mike Pereira on the phone.
The NBA tips off this week, earlier than usual. That’s because the players get tired when they play too many games on consecutive nights, or four games in five nights. I think I’ll tell my boss I can’t work five days a week anymore. Too tired. Here are five predictions for the season:
1. LeBron James, annoyed that the Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving for a short guy who will be lucky to play 25 games this season, will take more plays off than normal yelling at officials as the other team hustles downcourt for easy baskets.
2. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George will hate playing with Russell Westbrook, who will continue hogging the ball in Oklahoma City. I sense a new reality TV series.
3. The Timberwolves will make the playoffs, much to the delight of the NBA’s marketing army, which desperately wants to feature Karl-Anthony Towns and other likeable young pups in commercials.
4. The new-look NBA All-Star Game will feature a winning team that scores 200 points. The West has hit 192 and 196 the last two years. The last time the game featured a team scoring fewer than 100 points was in 1973 when the East won, 104-84. Dave Cowens was the MVP.
5. The Celtics will defeat the Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals, then get swept by the Warriors in the Finals. Another dynasty. Yuck.
The NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball has been tasked with, well, beyond eating catered lunches, I’m not sure. I know the esteemed panel is chaired by Condoleeza Rice and includes heavy hitters from college athletics. Former athletes in this thinktank include David Robinson and Grant Hill, who I’m guessing did not take bribes when they played. Retired U.S. General Martin Dempsey also will provide input. Hopefully that includes boot camp for anyone found bribing coaches and players, and more boot camp for coaches and players who get caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
Three reasons the Monday Night Football game between the Vikings and Bears was entertaining: 1) The halftime score was 3-2, which probably confused viewers flipping back and forth between football and baseball; 2) The Bears pulled off an inside reverse and pitch to rookie QB Mitch Trubisky on the best 2-point conversion you’ll ever see; 3) Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph played duck-duck-goose with his teammates after a touchdown. Very original and not offensive in any way.
Trending up: Kevin Hogan, Jerry Jones, Joel Embiid. Hogan will get the start at quarterback for the Browns today in Houston. The Texans will counter with Deshaun Watson, a guy the Browns passed on in this year’s draft. Hogan has displayed a pulse, which makes him a prime candidate to bark out signals for the Browns. Cleveland coach Hue Jackson said the move “does not change the way” he feels about struggling rookie DeShone Kizer. Whatever you say, Hue.
Trending down: Corey Kluber, USMNT, Jemele Hill. Kluber probably will win the AL Cy Young, but he’d throw that trophy into Lake Erie in exchange for one good outing against the Yankees. The normally reliable Kluber was roughed up by the Yanks in the ALDS. Sadly, the guys from the Bronx eliminated Cleveland in five. Kluber threw a total of 6 1/3 innings in two starts in the series, giving up nine runs. Last year, he worked 34 1/3 postseason innings, allowing only seven runs.