Welcome to November,
Seasons are changing. Nothing made that more clear than waking up to snow in the Midwest yesterday. The MLB Playoffs are down to the final game(s), and we’re turning the corner to college hoops next week. It appears a lot of sports fans are ready for the change. This World Series is setting records… and not the good kind.
The Least-Watched World Series Ever?
Rangers Wreck Diamondbacks in Game 4 (11-7), Texas on the Brink of 1st World Series Title… But Is Anyone Watching?
All but certain! The least-watched World Series of all time just got a little less interesting after Game 4 on Tuesday. The Rangers hung 10 runs on the Diamondbacks in the first three innings, effectively demoralizing Arizona, but the D-Backs fought back with runs in the 8th and 9th to make the scoreboard respectable. The 2023 Fall Classic is on pace to be the least-viewed World Series in the history of television. Saturday’s Game 2 was the least-watched World Series game ever with an average of 8.15 million viewers. Game 3 was worse, reaching just 8.13 million on Monday as it competed with Monday Night Football and everything else in the ‘Sports Equinox’.
It’s neither team’s fault, but this is far from a Dodgers-Astros clash. We stated in past newsletters that the Rangers (AL 5-seed) and Diamondbacks (NL 6-seed) are the lowest combined seeds to meet in the Fall Classic. An overlap with Halloween weekend and so many other sports to watch could be a better, full-picture explanation for the dip in viewership, rather than simply saying “baseball is in decline.” Or, both statements can be true, simultaneously.
Game 4 Rewind: Texas took over in a flash in Game 4, and that could lead to an even lower viewer rating when Tuesday’s numbers come out. Arizona made things a little intriguing down the stretch. The Rangers jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Corey Seager went yard again. Marcus Semien and Jonah Heim did, too. Josh Jung (3-for-4) was the most efficient Texas batter, and lefty Andrew Heaney (5 IP, 3 Ks, 4 Hits, 1 Run) got the win. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a three-run homer for the D-Backs in the 8th to add some runs. Arizona plated two more in the 9th, but it was too little too late. It’s 3-1 Rangers, and the first World Series title in franchise history is just one win away.
Road Rangers, Continued: Make it 10 straight road wins (perfect 10-0) in these playoffs for Texas. The Rangers have outscored host teams by a score of 66-28 on the road in October.
Arizona’s Last Chance: After the Rangers removed Max Scherzer and Adolis Garcia from their World Series roster following injuries in Game 3, the D-Backs might’ve had a sliver of hope for the rest of the series. Game 4 was ugly, but we saw Arizona make some noise late. They also went into Philly and won two road games to upset the Phillies in the NLCS. There’s still a chance.
TEX Leads World Series (3-1)
World Series Schedule
Gm 5: Rangers at D-Backs (Wed, 8:03 pm ET, FOX)
Gm 6: D-Backs at Rangers (Fri. 8:03 pm ET, FOX)
Gm 7: D-Backs at Rangers (Sat. 8:03 pm ET, FOX)
CFP Rankings: Buckeyes at #1
CFB Playoff Committee Unveils Ohio State as No. 1 Team in Shocking 1st Reveal
In a stunning twist that few saw coming, the College Football Playoff committee unveiled their initial (1st of 6) CFP Rankings for 2023 with Ohio State as the No. 1 team. The Buckeyes were ranked ahead of #2 Georgia — the two-time defending national champions, #3 Michigan and #4 Florida State. Two Pac-12 teams are on the outside looking in, per usual, with #5 Washington and #6 Oregon ready to pounce if one of the top 4 stumbles.
Why The Buckeyes at #1?
The top teams are all 8-0 through eight games, but it appears the committee favored Ohio State due to strength of schedule or “quality wins.” It makes sense considering the Buckeyes beat #9 Penn State and #12 Notre Dame when they were both ranked in the top 10.
Georgia and Michigan have been dominant, but they’ve yet to play a currently-ranked opponent. That’ll change in November. Florida State hasn’t faced a test tougher than Clemson (31-24 win) and they have the most favorable schedule down the stretch. Washington and Oregon have been great in the Pac-12, but they could cannibalize each other in the CFB Playoff once again. Oregon looks like the better team as of late, but Washington has the head-to-head win and the Heisman frontrunner in QB Michael Penix Jr.
The CFB Playoff Rankings will be revealed every Tuesday for the next five weeks leading up to the announcement of the top four teams in the College Football Playoff.
NFL Trade Tracker: Let’s Make A Deal
Commanders Unload Pass-Rushers & Vikings Add Quarterback at the NFL Trade Deadline
Tuesday was one of the quieter trade deadline days in recent memory for NFL fans. Only five last-day deals were made, but a few of them involved marquee players who could be difference-makers in the second half of the season. The Washington Commanders surrendered their 2023 season by trading DE Montez Sweat to the Bears and DE Chase Young to the 49ers in exchange for draft picks. The Vikings also traded for Cardinals QB Josh Dobbs — a deal that makes perfect sense for both teams with Kirk Cousins out for the season (Achilles) and Kyler Murray set to return. Here are all five trades from deadline day:
DE Chase Young (Commanders) → 49ers
Details: WAS Receives 3rd-Round Pick (2024)
DE Montez Sweat (Commanders) → Bears
Details: WAS Receives 2nd-Round Pick (2024)
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (Browns) → Lions
Details: CLE Receives 6th-Round Pick (2025)
QB Josh Dobbs (Cardinals) → Vikings
Details: MIN & ARI Swap 6th & 7th Rounders
CB Rasul Douglas (Packers) → Bills
Details: GB Gets 3rd-Round Pick (2024)
NFL Power Rankings (Week 9)
Eagles Rise to the Top, But Cowboys Have a Chance to Keep Our Curse Rolling
For four straight weeks, we’ve placed a new No. 1 team atop our power rankings only to see that team lose immediately after. And Week 9 might be more of the same. The Eagles are the only one-loss team left in the league, and their de-facto dominance means we have no choice but to slot them at the top. They deserve it, after all. The only loss was a turnover-filled night against the Jets in Week 6. Otherwise, we’d be talking about their second straight 8-0 start. This Sunday? It’s the Eagles and Cowboys in Philly, and Dallas will come ready.
The Chiefs almost tumbled out of our top-5, but Patrick Mahomes had the flu in last weekend’s upset to the Broncos. We still believe in Kansas City. The Ravens and Jaguars are quickly making bids for the top spots. Here’s how we see ‘em heading into Week 9.
NFL Power Rankings (Week 9)
1. Eagles (7-1) | ↑1
2. Ravens (6-2) | ↑1
3. Jaguars (6-2) | ↑2
4. Dolphins (6-2) | ↑2
5. Chiefs (6-2) | ↓4
6. Cowboys (5-2) | ↑2
7. Lions (6-2) | —
8. Bills (5-3) | ↑1
9. Bengals (4-3) | ↑2
10. 49ers (5-3) | ↓6
11. Seahawks (5-2) | ↑1
12. Browns (4-3) | ↓2
13. Jets (4-3) | ↑2
14. Steelers (4-3) | ↓1
15. Chargers (3-4) | ↑4
16. Saints (4-4) | ↑6
17. Broncos (3-5) | ↑11
18. Vikings (4-4) | —
19. Rams (3-5) | ↓5
20. Falcons (4-4) | ↓4
21. Titans (3-4) | ↑5
22. Texans (3-4) | ↓5
23. Buccaneers (3-4) | ↓3
24. Colts (3-5) | ↓3
25. Commanders (3-5) | —
26. Patriots (2-6) | ↓3
27. Packers (2-5) | ↓3
28. Bears (2-6) | ↓1
29. Raiders (3-5) | —
30. Giants (2-6) | —
31. Panthers (1-6) | ↑1
32. Cardinals (1-7) | ↓1
James Harden is the NBA’s Hot Potato
Clippers Acquire James Harden, And That Makes 4 Teams in 4 Years for ‘The Beard’
One of the most iconic beards in all of sports has become a staple image for one of the NBA’s all-time craftiest scorers. But behind that security blanket of facial hair lies a devious persona. James Harden has put together some of the most unbelievable scoring seasons in NBA history, becoming a case study in utilizing the free-throw line and manipulating defenders into the wrong positions. He’s also put together some of the worst franchise exits and manipulated front office execs for years.
Harden averaged 29+ points per game for five consecutive seasons with the Rockets (2015-2020), but there has been a never-ending barrage of episodes since. Early Tuesday morning, the Clippers finalized a blockbuster deal to snag ‘The Beard’ just three games into the season. That’s not normal, but it’s becoming routine for Harden.
The move instantly signals that the Clippers have no future draft capital in the next five years. All four of their stars (Harden, Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard) are 32 years or older. But here’s the real question:
Why on earth is someone as talented as James Harden getting passed around the league so frequently? Age is one factor, but Harden’s off-the-court drama has been a roller-coaster, and he’s leaving destruction in his wake. Harden demanded a trade from the Rockets in 2020, and he said he’d only play for the Nets alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Brooklyn eventually sent him to Philly when they blew up that super-team. And after a volatile summer with GM Daryl Morey, he weaseled his way out of the situation in Philadelphia in another unprofessional showcase.
Harden joined the Clippers last night when they hosted the Magic, but didn’t play. Los Angeles beat Orlando (118-102) to improve to 3-1. If we get vintage James Harden, the Clippers have a chance to do something special. If not, the Clipper curse will continue.
Other NBA Highlights
*Kevin Durant Goes Over 27,000-Point Milestone
*Cavs Shoot 26% From 3-Point Range
Today’s Must-Watch List
Gm 5: Rangers at Diamondbacks (8:03 pm ET, FOX)
Bucks at Raptors (7:00 pm ET)
Pacers at Celtics (7:30 pm ET)
Cavaliers at Knicks (7:30 pm ET)
Pelicans at Thunder (7:30 pm ET, ESPN)
Kings at Warriors (10:00 pm ET)
Clippers at Lakers (10:00 pm ET, ESPN)
Sabres at Flyers (7:00 pm ET, TNT)
Stars at Flames (8:30 pm ET, ESPN+)
Blues at Avalanche (9:30 pm ET, TNT)
Coyotes at Ducks (10:00 pm ET, ESPN+)
Carabao Cup: Man. United vs. Newcastle (4:15 pm ET, ESPN+)
MLS Playoffs: Columbus vs. Atlanta Utd. (7:30 pm ET, AppleTV)