Sports Movies: “61*” (2001)

Screenshot Barry Pepper as Roger Maris in 61 movie

There was a time when baseball’s home run record really meant something. It was mythical. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927, hitting more home runs than 12 teams that year!

Ruth’s home run record stood for 34 years, until Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961, though Major League Baseball shamefully put an asterisk next to Maris’s record. The Babe had set the record during a 154-game season, while Maris broke the record during a 162-game season. Maris also broke the record in a season following expansion, further angering baseball purists who felt he didn’t deserve to be labeled the Home Run King.

The steroid era made discussions of the record even more controversial. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa shattered the record in the memorable 1998 season when McGwire hit 70 home runs and Sosa hit 66. Barry Bonds followed that with an amazing 73 in the 2001 season. But the steroid scandal exposed McGuire, Sosa and Bonds, making a mockery of the home run record. This context helps explain why so many wanted to crown Aaron Judge as the “true” holder of the record with his 62 home runs in the 2022 season.

“61*” is a historical drama that tells the story of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle as they chased the Babe’s record in the 1961 season. Mantle was already a legend in the minds of most baseball fans, while Maris was the new kid on the block on New York even though he won the MVP in 1960 in his first season as a Yankee.

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College Football Chaos: Alabama, Tennessee and Clemson go down

LSU beats Alabama Mason Taylor touchdown 2022

Many of us are tired the the never-ending debates about college football rankings, but we’ll never get tired of days like yesterday.

Three teams in the top ten went down yesterday, including #1 Tennessee, perennial power Alabama and a clearly overrated Clemson.

Brian Kelly and LUSU stun Nick Saban and Alabama

Brian Kelly isn’t very likeable, but the guy can coach. He got tired of facing Alabama with Notre Dame-level talent, so he abandoned the Irish and took his talents to LSU. And now he’s beaten Nick Saban and Alabama in his first try.

Alabama came into Death Valley as 13.5-point favorites, but they found an LSU team that was ready for a fight. The fourth quarter of this game was insane, with Bryce Young working his magic multiple times to escape what seemed like certain sacks to pull out amazing throws. Meanwhile, Nick Saban made a serious of bone-headed decisions going for 2 after touchdowns. The Tide failed both attempts and that would kill them, as the game-tying field goal may have been a game-winning field goal instead.

Meanwhile, first-year LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels came up big, and LSU found a new hero with tight end Mason Taylor (son of NFL great Jason Taylor), who caught a huge fourth-quarter touchdown and then became a hero catching the two-point conversion in overtime. Kelly decided to go for two in overtime after LSU answered an Alabama touchdown. It was a ballsy move and he was rewarded with a play LSU fans will never forget.

Georgia stomps #1 Tennessee

Tennessee has been one of the feel-good stories of 2022, but reality set in yesterday in Georgia. The reigning National Champs made a statement, and Kirby Smart has his boys poised to battle for a repeat titles. The Bulldogs will be #1 this week.

Notre Dame smacks overrated Clemson

Anyone who has watched Clemson this season knew that the Tigers just weren’t very good. DJ Uiagalelei just isn’t a very good quarterback, and Dabo Swinney’s winning formula at Clemson has always centered around dynamic talents at quarterback. Meanwhile, the Irish have had a mediocre season under new head coach Marcus Freeman, but they were able to out-muscle this Clemson team and knock them out of playoff contention.

How long will the 49ers stick with the Trey Lance experiment?

Trey Lance vs Bears 2022

Kyle Shanahan is a brilliant play caller and play designer, but he like everyone else isn’t perfect as a head coach. His game management skills are weak, and his personnel decisions are open to debate as well.

That’s where Trey Lance comes in. Shanahan and the 49ers gave up the farm to trade up to draft him with three first round picks. Lance is a physical specimen, but he’s from a small college program and didn’t have a ton of reps in college.

Now we’ll see how this experiment works out. In the season opener against the Bears, Lance made some nice throws, but he was very inconsistent. Also, if you watch all of Lance’s snaps from the game, several troubling trends emerge.

First, the 49ers are basically running a college-style offense for Lance with a heavy dose of designed runs. Also, when Lance drops back and has to move off his first read, he quickly panics and tries to run the ball. This isn’t too bad for fantasy football, but in real football this leads to big problems.

Which leads to the other concern. Lance is a big guy, but he’s taking a beating. His risk of injury is very high with this playing style, and the 49ers don’t seem to care. That tells you they’ve already downgraded Lance’s value within the organization.

With Jimmy Garappolo on the roster as the backup QB, Shanahan has had to lobby team veterans to give Lance a chance to succeed. Let’s see how much patience those veterans have before we hear calls for Jimmy G.

Nathaniel Hackett gets paid millions for idiotic decisions

Nathaniel Hacket opening game NFL 2022

It’s amazing how many NFL coaches are simply clueless when it comes to game management.

Nathaniel Hackett may end up being a good NFL coach, but he completely blew it at the end of the Broncos game last night in Seattle. The Broncos paid Russell Wilson a king’s ransom to play quarterback, but Hackett decided to settle for a 64-yard field goal attempt at the end of the game instead of letting Russell try for more yards on fourth and five. There was plenty of time left and he had timeouts, but Hackett let the clock run down and then trotted out his kicker to attempt the long kick.

This is a recurring theme in the NFL. Some of these coaches just aren’t very bright. Others get lost in the weeds and then fail to see the big picture.

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Is Josh Allen running too much for the Bills?

Josh Allen week one 2022 season vs Rams

In some ways this is a strange question to ask after the Buffalo Bills thumped the defending champion Los Angeles Rams last night to kick off the 2022 NFL season. But the question has to be asked.

Josh Allen has blossomed into a fantastic quarterback, and his ability to run the ball gives the Bills offense a tremendously effective weapon. But there’s a clear risk involved, and it’s clear that Allen is fearless at the moment, and that leads to some very bad habits and bad decisions.

Late in the game, Allen ran the ball and was hit very hard. There was no reason for him to run. The game was over. But he did it anyways.

Allen is a big guy, so perhaps he can take more of a beating than smaller players. That makes sense. But he’s not immune to injury because of his size, and one of the great advantages for quarterbacks in the modern NFL is that the rules will protect you, unless you decide to act like a running back.

We can go back 20 years for a comparison to Allen – Daunte Culpepper. Culpepper was a beast, and he led a similar, high-powered offense in Minnesota. And he loved to run the ball and run through defenders. And he suffered a serious ankle injury. He seemed indestructible like Allen, but he wasn’t.

It’s only one game, but the Bills look like they can live up to the offseason hype. And the addition of Von Miller to the defense seems like a stroke of genius. The Bills were slight favorites on the road last night against the Rams, and then ran away with the game in the second half.

Allen’s ability to run the ball can help lead the Bills to the Super Bowl, but he can also derail this season if he continues to be reckless.