Welcome once again to the Weekend Six Pack, six thoughts about the week that was and the weekend to come in the sports world.
Dos a cero — Once again, as is tradition, the US Men’s National team defeated Mexico 2-0. They followed that triumph up with a draw at Jamaica — which, while a bit disappointing, was a hard earned point on the road, and that’s never a bad thing in CONCACAF. After eight matches (out of 14 total), the US sits in second place, a point behind Canada and a point ahead of third place Mexico and fourth place Panama. Top three spots earn World Cup berths, and the fourth goes into a playoff to earn a bid. So, as of now, things look good to make the 2022 World Cup. The next match, on on January 27th, sees our boys host El Salvador.
College football stretch run — As the season enters the final stretch (it always goes too fast), things have gotten really crowded in the race for the CFP. Barring a monumental collapse, Georgia is in. Alabama needs to win their last three (Arkansas, at Auburn, SEC CG vs. Georgia) to make it. Oregon will be in if they win out. Ohio State still has Michigan State, Michigan and the Big Ten title game. Cincinnati hasn’t been done any favors by the committee, but winning out should get them in. Notre Dame is lurking in 8th place. Then there’s the interesting case of Oklahoma State, currently in 9th. The Cowboys have to travel to Lubbock this weekend, then host Oklahoma for Bedlam. Should they win those two, they’ll play in the Big 12 title game, either against Baylor or Oklahoma. Pay attention to Mike Gundy’s squad these last few weeks.
The NL MVP is a joke — Bryce Harper was named NL MVP, after a good statistical campaign. Unfortunately, the award is for most valuable player, not most outstanding. The Phillies finished in second place in the NL East, 6.5 games behind Atlanta. They finished 8.5 games out of the second wild card spot. Tell me again how Harper is more valuable than someone like Austin Riley, who had very similar stats and led his team to the playoffs? The award is a regular season award, so we can’t factor in the Braves’ World Series run. But, maybe in the future we should? Or at the least create a playoffs MVP. Or change the term to MOP, because there is no way a guy who couldn’t lead his team to the playoffs should win MVP, unless he has a monster, record-breaking season — or if he’s AL MVP Shohei Ohtani, who played for a crappy Angels team, and not only had a monster year at the plate, but had a solid year pitching.
While we’re bitching about NL awards — Brian Snitker not winning Manager of the Year is also a damn joke.
NFL Season rounds the halfway point — No one in the AFC wants to emerge as the team to beat. The Bills lose to the Jaguars, the Ravens lose to the Dolphins, the Chiefs are still struggling, and the Titans look good but won’t have Derrick Henry for the rest of the regular season, so we’ll see how that goes. There’s a total of 12 teams in the AFC in contention for the playoffs. The NFC is more top heavy — the Packers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Rams and Buccaneers are all playoff locks, and all legit Super Bowl contenders. After that the conference is a bunch of mediocrity.
Alabama is going to the Final Four — I don’t know if it’ll be this season (though the team has looked good so far during its 3-0 start), but Nate Oats is building a top notch program in Tuscaloosa. The Tide currently have the 3rd ranked recruiting class for 2022, including two 5-star commits — a first in program history. I fully believe — nay, expect — the Tide to make a Final Four during Oats’ tenure.