It’s finally writing weather again. That means blue skies, full sun and this time of year, a refreshing breeze to go with it.
It’s a glorious spot on the calendar for sports enthusiasts – baseball playoffs, President’s Cup golf, the rumblings of basketball season and of course, more football to go around than turkey at Thanksgiving.
So from the comforts of my back porch, soaking up the last bit of warmth 2015 has to offer (depressing, I know), I get to jotting down my thoughts on the state of the sports world.
-Phil’s still got that ‘Thrill’ Last weekend in Korea, Mickelson proved his critics wrong, validating USA captain Jay Haas’ decision to tab the five-time major champion as a captain’s pick to the President’s Cup team. Guys, it’s 2015. And Phil still hasn’t missed a single one of these competitions dating back to the event’s inception. Reliving his glory days, Phil holed out from bunkers in trademark style and even drained the clutch putts when he needed to. The 45-year-old relishes the format, loves the USA, continues to inspire the sport’s young guns and most importantly, by going 3-0-1 in his Cup matches, golf’s most famous Lefty proved with proper motivation, he can still conjure the magic necessary to topple the game’s finest. Ryder Cup 2016, anyone?
–Superpowers no more? Be honest. Who had both the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS and ALCS this year? Who raised their hand? Ok, you’re lying. But seriously, that $5 bet on a whim in Vegas to start 2015 is looking mighty profitable right now. How about a Royals-Cubs World Series, folks? Not out of the question. No Cardinals, no Giants, no Yankees, no Red Sox, no Braves. Some would say this year’s MLB Playoffs have gone to the dogs. But I’d say it might just be a new age of baseball and quite frankly, it’s refreshing. The games have been intriguing, hard-fought, and yes, full disclosure, often riddled with errors. But the drama is there. I could read it right off the ecstatic Cubs fans across from me at the bar the other night…it means a lot. So here’s to more series deciders and playoff thrillers going forward…and I can’t help it…go Cubbies! (100+ year curses have to break at some point, right?)
–The year of the running backs? College football, per usual, has provided a plethora of entertainment so far this season. But sifting through all the noise, for my money, the two most emphatic performers are Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook. Some athletes are good, some are great. And then there’s another level that a select few ever attain. LSU and FSU’s standout tailbacks are becoming intimately familiar with this top-gear level. When they have the ball, they could take it to the house. At any moment. They strike fear in opposing defenses and make would-be tacklers look silly. Each Saturday, I thank my lucky stars I’m not tasked with standing in their way. In a word, Leonard and Dalvin are…”electrifying”. And that’s good news for FSU and LSU. Without their thoroughbred athletes running other teams over, it might be a rough go of it. But with them, the Seminoles and Tigers boast two Heisman candidates and in return, a legitimate chance at the top 4 and the College Football Playoff. I, for one, can’t wait to see more from these two special players – they don’t make ’em like this very often, folks!
-Chapel Hill Championship? (Read with your inner Jim Nantz at the Masters here) ‘Is it his time?!?’ In the case of Phil Mickelson, the answer to that question was, ‘Yes, at long last!’ Well, for the ravenous Tar Heel fanbase, if Roy Williams is able to deliver a third national title to Carolina this season, it would indeed, be ‘at long last.’ The biggest question, however, if a championship year does come to pass for UNC, would Ol’ Roy be able to match Phil’s incredible 2-inch vertical? The Tar Heels begin the year as co-No.1 picks with Kentucky and are closely pursued in the polls by Maryland, Duke and Kansas. It should truly be a fascinating year in college hoops. The clock is ticking on a special campaign for this group of veteran Tar Heels with nearly everybody returning from last year’s Sweet Sixteen squad that proved when fully engaged, it could compete with anybody. The time appears to be now. We’ll know more in a few months’ time, but a couple top-5 battles with the hated Blue Devils are likely looming on the 2016 horizon…and for sports fans everywhere, that’s something to get jacked up about.
QUICK PIGSKIN PICKS: CFB – LSU over Florida / UNC over Wake Forest / FSU over Louisville NFL – Panthers over Seahawks (5-0, baby!)
So in summary, there’s plenty of sports goodness to go around. So don’t be shy! Go ahead and saddle up to the table. Feel free to over-indulge in the fall feast that’s been served. The plates will be clean before we know it.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattdoakes