Six months from today, Nebraska will be playing in the _______.
It’s July 1, the beginning of the slowest sports month, the calm before the football storm, exactly half a year from the last time the Huskers had a game. They crumbled in the second half against Georgia, of course, prompting a rather buzz-less offseason (unless you count Jack Hoffman’s touchdown and Ernest Suttles’ WWF imitation).
Noted football philosopher Phil Steele says NU will be playing Oregon in Pasadena in six months, though in that scenario (with Ohio State going to the BCS championship game) the Huskers aren’t likely to win their own division.
I don’t claim to know the future, but my sense is we’re looking at a season very much like the past five — maybe a touch better because of the schedule, but certainly not ending with a championship.
The best blogs are a bit interactive, so here’s my two questions for you as we turn to the second half of the calendar.
1) What do you expect this fall? I don’t mean “hope for”, I mean “expect.” What will be the vibe of this program on New Year’s Night 2014?
2) How much do you care? What’s your anticipation level, compared to a normal Husker football season, that is? How much of your time, energy (and stress level) are you prepared to devote to the 2013 season?
Drop me an email or Twitter message. I’ll post a few responses in Wednesday’s Chatter.
>> Can Jim Delany get New York City to care about college football? Adam Kramer examines the Big Ten’s bold initiative.
“With college football playing a distant second fiddle to professional sports in New York, this could prove to be a slow grind. Or, perhaps the influence will be inconsequential, and the interest in college sports will remain dormant. It’s a gamble Delany is willing to take and one the conference can bear because of its incredible financial security.”
I’m skeptical. Very skeptical. There just isn’t a strong history of college football interest in New York. And I can’t imagine Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska — schools far, far off the NYC radar — inspiring a young generation of New Yorkers to start watching the Big Ten Network.
>> Wisconsin coach Gary Anderson is making friends in Mad town. After the way Bret Bielema has treated UW the past six months, I imagine Anderson will be very popular — until he coaches a game, at which point he better win like Bielema did.
>> Pat Forde wraps up the latest round of conference realignment and prepares you for what’s next. If you think it’s all over, consider what Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said last week. Asked how many teams the Big Ten would have in five years, Hollis said “16.” (He quickly retreated to 14.)
>> Three staggering baseball stats today:
From the New York Times, on Mariano Rivera:
“Since his debut in 1995, Rivera has thrown 1,248 2/3 innings and allowed a combined 1,253 walks and hits. His career WHIP — walks plus hits divided by innings pitched — is almost exactly 1.00.
“How remarkable is that? Of the roughly 1,000 pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings in a span going back nearly a hundred years, Rivera is the only one to keep batters off base at such a high rate. The average WHIP today, according to Elias, is 1.29, a full 29 percent higher.
“Rivera’s only peers played a century ago. They are Addie Joss of Cleveland (0.97) and Ed Walsh of Chicago (1.00), the only pitchers, according to Elias, to throw at least 1,000 innings and post career WHIPs of 1.00 or less. Joss and Walsh, who retired in 1910 and 1917, played in the dead-ball era, when pitching dominated; Rivera has thrown his cutter through two decades of steroid use and often booming offenses.”
From Elias, on Yasiel Puig:
“Yasiel Puig, who debuted in the majors on June 3, went 4-for-5 with a double and a triple in the Dodgers’ 6-1 victory against the Phillies to improve his batting average to .436 (44-for-101). That’s the highest average for any player in baseball’s modern era (1900 to date) in the calendar month of his major-league debut (minimum: 60 at-bats). Only one other player who debuted in the majors since 1900 collected as many hits during his first calendar month in the big leagues as Puig. That was Joe DiMaggio, who went 48-for-126 (.381) in May 1936.”
Finally, 20-year-old Manny Machado has 38 doubles through 83 games and is on pace to break the major-league record (Earl Webb had 67 in 1931). Unless Machado hits a doubles slump in the second half, he’ll become the first player since 1936 to hit 60 in a season.
>> By the way, who would’ve imagined that Baltimore-Pittsburgh would be the two most exciting teams in baseball on July 1? I tweeted this morning that Orioles-Pirates would be a cool World Series. (Bust out the 1979 uniforms!) I know the TV ratings would be atrocious, but what a statement for baseball if two recently hopeless small-market teams with rich histories get back to the mountaintop. I’ll be rooting for it.
>> Kyle Korver is likely joining the circus in Brooklyn. I’m happy for Korver, who deserves to play in big games. I just wish it were for Indiana, Miami, Oklahoma City, Memphis or some other contender that didn’t have so many big personalities. He won’t get many shots in the fourth quarter, that’s for sure.
>> Steve Nash tweeted this today: “Flying from NYC to LA. @DwightHoward we’re coming for you. You’re going to love the statue we build for you outside Staples in 20yrs!”
Dwight Howard is gonna make a ton of money wherever he goes. But all these attempts to woo him — Houston basically offered him the keys to NASA — rub me the wrong way. The last thing Howard needs is franchise after franchise telling him how great he is.
>> Uh oh, USA swimming is already struggling without Michael Phelps. Evening crowds over the weekend for the national championships in Indianapolis were borderline pathetic — 1,191, 2,500, 1,265, 1,522 and 1,230.
>> Brazil is back on top in soccer. After Sunday’s thrashing of Spain, the host country has some serious momentum heading into the 2014 World Cup.
>> A wild and wacky Wimbledon produced another shocker today with Serena losing. Is anybody gonna be left to play next weekend? Grantland surveys the damage from the strangest Grand Slam in a long time.
>> In case you missed it, my post-College World Series story Sunday on how an Omaha native is moving the sabermetric revolution toward college baseball.
>> Interesting panel discussion about broadcasting in Richard Deitsch’s weekly media column.
>> Finally, I love this. Tulsa is pursuing the 2024 Olympics. If this ain’t the American (pipe) dream, I don’t know what is: “We don’t have an answer yet for water polo. But one thing we do have is plenty of land out here in Oklahoma.” If it works, Omaha, I’m totally leading the charge for 2028.