Monday, October 17, 2011

IndyCar Tragedy, Northwestern Dumb Dumb Dumbbells, Cards in the Series


Dan Wheldon, after winning 2011 Indy 500, kissing the bricks with 2-year old son Sebastian
IndyCar certainly isn't the most popular sport in America, but the death of Dan Wheldon seems to have hit people hard from coast to coast (and abroad since Wheldon was from England).  It's not the equivalent that Dale Earnhardt's death was to Nascar, but Wheldon was one of the best and brightest stars on the circuit.  He leaves behind a wife and two young kids.  The final five lap tribute was some of the most powerful sports television, both moving and heartbreaking, I've ever seen.

Wheldon won in Iowa back in 2008 and, though he didn't race in this past year's Iowa Indy Corn 250, was at the event doing reporting for TV.  A lot of people at WHO and other media outlets across town are pretty shaken up over this.  The IndyCar drivers are some of the friendliest and most fun professionals we get to talk to.  Frankly I'm shocked there weren't more serious injuries after that wreck.

I'm sure the debate over safety will be brought up.  IndyCar is one of the safer racing circuits out there by and large.  If Wheldon's car doesn't get flipped he probably walks away.  Wouldn't be shocked if changes are made to slow down the cars a bit (Wheldon had actually been working and test driving on the new IndyCar that will be raced in 2012), and the big complaint from this event was that the field might have been too large, giving less room on the track to avoid crashes.

Can't say enough about the performance of Marvin McNutt last night at Kinnick.  You all saw the touchdown grab and his other big grabs.  What you didn't see and hear was how vocal he was throughout the game in pregame huddles and on the bench pumping up the crowd.  Perhaps just as big as his touchdown grab were the two onside kick recoveries.  We all know big time wide receivers can be drama queens, but McNutt busts his butt in every phase of the game.

Should Have Sent Out Shake Weights
I didn't watch Dan Persa's previous games against Iowa (though my first boss in the TV business was a Northwestern alum so I always heard plenty about it), but I can't believe Iowa has had so much trouble with him (and they had more talent in previous losses on defense too).  To his credit, he is a tough nut, and the shots he was taking would have knocked most guys out of the game early.  But the guy plays like his hair is on fire, and that 95-yard Pick 6 he threw was one of the worst decisions I've ever seen made on a football field.  That's a play you would expect in Pop Warner Football, not from a senior captain.  Those purple dumbbells Northwestern sent out look more like shake weights now.

Mixed bag performance on defense.  Terrible on third down but, with a ton of injuries, they got a ton more pressure out of their front four.

I and a lot of people have been quick to praise Paul Rhoads this season, and rightfully so.  He took over a mess of a program from the Chiz who shall remain nameless and scored some big wins.  And most everyone thought squeezing six wins out of this schedule would be a minor miracle coming into the season.  But what the heck was that at Mizzou?  The Tigers aren't terrible but should not be 52-17 good against anybody in FBS.  It'll be an interesting press day in Ames tomorrow, and I'm curious to see what Rhoads has to say.

How Did This Happen?
The Cardinals are in the World Series.  Step back and consider that.  They lost Adam Wainright preseason.  Albert Pujols has had constant baggage all year with the contract situation.  Matt Holliday and numerous other guys have been dinged up all year.  The rotation outside of Carpenter (who struggled for about half the year too) was awful even in winning the NLCS.  They were dead as a doornail in August after losing 7 of 9 to the Pirates, Cubs and Dodgers.

And yet they're four wins from a championship and will have HOMEFIELD.  Pujols certainly deserves a lot of praise for his postseason performance.  David Freese has been ridiculous.  But this is all on Tony LaRussa.  Keeping this bunch together might be his best coaching job ever, and that's saying a lot.

Andy will be insufferable for the next week.


Oprah Winfrey said...

I may be a Chicago chick, but even I know a good team when I see one. Go Cardinals!

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