Hello, my name is Colin. Welcome to the 31st issue of The Wood Report, an eclectic smorgasbord of sports “news” and humor.
We’ve got another Super Grab Bag this week as there’s just so much content to talk about. Seasons are starting and ending with each passing day. Let’s dive in to what you might have missed.
This Week’s Main Story
With the start of the NHL season, a few players and organizations begin the year with more on their mind than most. Earlier this year, we talked about the heartbreaking death of Blue Jacket’s goalie Matiss Kivlenieks. During Columbus’s first home game, they honored Kivlenieks by raising a banner and painting his number on the ice right behind net.
His best friend Elvis Merzlikins has been dealing with the loss and discussing how everything he does this season is for Matiss. John Tortorella, his former coach, seemed at a loss for words trying to express himself when asked about it.
I just wanted to bring it up again in his honor and say that all the tributes have been beautiful. It’s never easy to move on, especially in such a public fashion. I’ll be rooting for them every step of the way .
Gold Medal – Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts has been one of the best ball players in the league for years now. Last month, he proved that he is also a great person who really understands the impact of the game.
On September 19th, TJ Friedl pinch hit for the Cincinnati Reds in the bottom of the 6th inning. Friedl is a 26-year-old outfielder who has bounced around the minors for 5 years before being called up for the first time in 2021. He swung at the first pitch of his second at bat and smashed the ball over the right field fence to collect his first career MLB hit. It’s a special moment in any baseball player’s career.
Mookie Betts, the right fielder on the opposing Dodgers, had to the presence of mind to recognize the milestone that had just happened. He walked over to the right field wall and asked the fan for the ball to give to Friedl as a memento of the occasion. Betts had no horse in this and no reason to put that effort in to get Friedl his home run ball. He understood what it means to a player, even in the middle of a game the Dodgers are trying to win to keep pace in a tight divisional race.
As Mookie made his way out to right field to start the following inning, he brought a signed bat to the fan in as a trade for the ball. Mookie cites his talks with Kobe Bryant in recognizing that the game is often bigger than just himself. His gesture was a memorable moment for both TJ Friedl and the fan. Reds manager David Bell said:
“I don’t know Mookie, but man, it just says so much about him as a person, as a player. It confirms basically everything I’ve ever heard about him. To think that selflessly or to think outside yourself that much in the heat of the game and to be that thoughtful, it’s amazing.”
Betts is one of the easiest superstars to root for. The sport, and the world in general, needs more guys like Mookie.
Villain of the Week – Eli Manning
The “Peyton & Eli” broadcast of Monday Night Football has been one of the most chaotic and entertaining viewing experience of any sporting event. The brothers have zero television polish and no idea how to properly lead commentary. They don’t even care to understand when commercials are approaching, continuing to talk as the feed cuts out. It’s a beautiful mess.
Eli unfortunately committed the cardinal sin of live television. He flipped the double birds. It wasn’t a mistake nor could it be brushed off as misinterpreted. He just sat there and confidently put up 2 middle fingers to a national audience. It was hilarious.
I hope the Manningcast is renewed for 10 more years.
Is This How You Play?
Hockey is back, but I’m not sure the Canucks remember how to play defense.
The Charlotte Hornets are already in midseason form though.
This shot is unfair.
Is this how you play baseball?
This is somehow a legal punt.
Is this how you play football? (For the Lions, yes it is)
Surprisingly, the Browns entire defense pushing the Chargers into the endzone to score was the smart play in that situation.
First World Problems
Penny Oleksiak is the embodiment of being “too successful”. Tragic.
Gold Medal – Brandon Staley
A lot of awful, despicable stuff has gone down in the NFL over the past 2 weeks. It’s been a look at the ugly internal personality of a league. Guys like Brandon Staley are hopefully the future. He is a true leader. His speech when asked about the events is fantastic and I urge you to listen.
News by the Numbers
-1 - Rushing yards gained by the New England Patriots on October 3rd. They are the first team to finish a game with negative rushing yards since the 2007 Lions. With Tom Brady on the opposite sideline, this probably didn’t feel great for Pats fans.
0 - Field goals made by the Jacksonville Jaguars through Week 5 of the NFL season. They are 0-4 on FG attempts. The Jags are the first team in Super Bowl era with zero field goals through first five games. Kickers on the team have also missed 3 of their 12 extra point attempts. Obviously, there are far more problems on the team than kicking (namely, the coach) but this isn’t helping matters.
1 - Players on the Cavaliers’ bench that did not react to their teammate being demolished on this dunk by John Collins. The Hawks are going to be fun this year and Collin Sexton isn’t phased by anything.
8 - Points scored in overtime of Game 2 of the WNBA Finals by Diana Taurasi. The Chicago Sky as a team had just 7. After a tough 1st half, DT was clutch down the stretch to win that game for Phoenix and even the series at 1-1 (now 2-1 Chicago after Friday’s Game 3). Her career playoff record is now 41-28.
16 - Shots on goal allowed by the Blackhawks in the first 10 minutes of the first game of the season. Newly acquired goaltender Marc-André Fleury might just retire rather than play behind this defense all year.
20 - Quarterbacks started by the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers since 1992 when Justin Fields takes a snap on Sunday. The Packers have started 3 different QBs in that time. That pretty much sums up the rivalry in the past 3 decades.
29 - Postseason games played by Randy Arozarena. At the age of 26, he has already made history multiple times with his incredible playoff performances. In Game 1 of the 2021 ALDS, he became the first player in postseason history to hit a home run and steal home in the same game. He is electric in October.
41.732 - Age of Albert Pujols. He became the oldest player to record a hit in a postseason game since 42-year-old Jim Thome in 2012.
1963 - The last time a Black driver won a NASCAR Cup Series race. On October 4th, Bubba Wallace made history as the 2nd Black driver to win, doing so at Talladega. He’s been inching closer to that 1st career win for a a while now, and this was the culmination of years of dedication.
Homer Bias Restricted Area
What the hell does that even mean Matt?
The Yankees lost the AL Wildcard game because of a big stupid wall in left field. Here are Giancarlo Stanton’s 3 hits that night:
345 foot single
400 foot single
344 foot home run
Jack Hughes with a slick goal and the coolest OT winner celebration.
End Of Restricted Area
This was one of my favorite week’s to write. So much has been happening, it’s been tough to decide what to throw on my 3 screens each night. Hope you have been having similar 1st world problems.
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Keep Sports Fun.
Twitter - @ColinRingwood12
The Buzzer Beater
He went full WWE on this play.