3 Strikes and We’re Out

Welcome back to The Other Side.  I am bringing a new format moving forward that I feel will be beneficial moving forward.  Every Monday I will be releasing a new blog post that will consist of 3 strikes and every now and then a subject that is “Just a little bit outside”.  The aim to consistently produce 52 posts by this time next year.  Everything will be delivered as authentic T.O.S. material.  I hope you enjoy the changes being made and I look forward to writing about my #1 passion, Sports.

Strike 1: Houston, We have a Champion
It isn’t just coming from me but this was a great World Series. A fitting end to an MLB season that featured three 100+ win teams and pitted 2 teams whose combined record was 205 – 119.  2 teams that went after pitching at the trade deadline but possessing many key players which came up through their respective farm systems.  Game 7 represents the end of the road, a point which can go no further, and most certainly is a treat to any sports fan.
Coming in the Houston ranked 1st in Runs, Hits, Doubles, RBIs, Batting AVG, OBP, Slugging percentage, and 2nd in Home Runs.  I mean goodness gracious, the Dodgers’ offense was a pretty good themselves but were only in the top 10 of 2 major hitting categories in Doubles (4th) and BB’s (1st).  Walks and doubles can go hand in hand when trying to score runs but they had to have something else going for them while winning 104 games.  
The Pitching duels by names were sure to bring a higher level of competition with the likes of Kershaw, Verlander, and Keuchel, all Cy Young Award winners.  Collectively the staffs were 2 of the best in the MLB.  Houston’s staff finished 2nd in SO’s (1593), 6th in Opp AVG (.240), and 11th in ERA (4.12).  The Dodgers’ staff finished 5th in SO’s (1549), 1st in Opp AVG (.228), and 2nd in ERA (3.38).
Both teams were equally as talented as one another and game 7 proved to be just that.  Regardless of the final score the game was closely contested as the main reason for the lopsided score was due to lack of production by the Dodgers when runners were on base early in the game.  The dodgers left 5 men on base through 2 innings and quickly fell behind 5-0, they would eventually leave 10 men on base for the game while scoring 1 run.  The Astros were kept in check after Kershaw came in to relieve Yu Darvish and that was enough for the Astros to become world champions.  Houston was changing pitchers like it was an all-star game until Charlie Morton came in to solidify the win.  It was a fitting end to the season for the people and fans of Houston, after everything they went through, I and a lot of others were #HoustonStrong that night.  
Strike 2: Silver Linings Playbook of the South
This past week was one to forget for me as a football fan.  My top 3 football teams all lost close games in which they all should have won.  Georgia Southern failed to take advantage of missed opportunities by Georgia State in the 4th quarter by committing 2 fumbles off turnovers (missed field goal, INT).  Both fumbles in the 4th came on the following series after stopping Georgia St and forcing an INT.  Georgia Southern gave up the go ahead TD and they failed to beat in state rival Georgia St for a 3rd consecutive season.  
Georgia Tech lost to in-division foe Virginia in Charlottesville in similar fashion by giving up 40 points to a UVA offense that ranks 92nd in total offense.  Georgia Tech went 90 yards in 9 plays to take the lead 36-40 with 4 minutes to go and UVA answered with a 5 play 64 yard drive to take the lead with 1:46 left to go.  GT would fail to score and UVA won it’s 6th game of the season to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.
The Atlanta Falcons capped off the trifecta of losing this weekend by coming up short in Charlotte, NC falling to the Panthers 20-17.  In a game that saw Julio Jones make the worst drop of his career and the Falcons being held to a season low rushing yards (53) and held to under 100 yards rushing for the first time since week 1, I can tell you, it’s hard to wonder what happened to the Falcons.
The silver lining to all of this is hope.  Georgia Southern looked like a gelling unit for the first time all season 2 games after firing Tyson Summers.  Special teams, defense, and offense all looked to have form some semblance of chemistry.  We had an opportunity to win the game and if we clean up our own turnovers, things look promising for the next head coach that wants to try their hand at returning our program to above .500.  Georgia Tech fought hard and played well on offense, the difference in the game was the kickoff return for a TD.  GT has to look long and hard in the mirror and ask themselves, “Is the state of the program something I can live with?”, especially with in-state rival UGA looking to be a national championship contender for years to come.  
The Falcons’ problems are simple, the bad juju from the Super Bowl collapse have infiltrated itself into the fabric of our team’s chemistry.  We are 4-4 and very much still alive for a division title and/or a Wild Card playoff birth.  When it comes to the Falcons I say Good.  Get all of that bad energy off.  Matt Ryan, throw the pick sixes, Julio Jones, drop the sure fire TD passes, take the bad bounces.  Get it all out of our system.  We need to cleanse ourselves of everything.  These things are all percentages.  No body plays perfect all the time.  Let’s correct the mistakes and get it all out by week 9, the 2nd half of the season is upon us and a plus .500 record for the remaining 8 games should provide at least a wild card birth, but somewhere within us is a Super Bowl contender.  We’ll see how it plays out.
Strike 3: College Football Mayhem
OK, so maybe not total annihilation since the top 5 teams in college all won but the season is long their are plenty of big match-ups to salivate about on the horizon.  The no defense bowl turned out to be a shootout and Baker Mayfield put up another performance (598 pass yards and 5 TDs) to put himself at the front of every Heisman conversation.  I don’t know how many times Oklahoma St. has to get beat deep with man coverage before they just make any kind of adjustments, I guess 62 isn’t enough points to warrant any defensive scheme changes.  
Speaking of bad defense, Ohio St. was exploited by Iowa and gave up an embarrassing 55 points to an Iowa team that averaged 25 points a game.   In both of Ohio State’s losses, the offense was held in check while the defense simply gets outplayed.  Non of this looks good for the Big 10 in their quest to have a representative in the CFP.  Wisconsin is the only hope at this point but who knows what craziness will ensure before then and now.  
Miami is probably the team I was most impressed by this past weekend beating Virginia Tech 28 – 10.  Miami has had some close games but winning with defense in big games is something they haven’t done in a while holding the hokies to 3-14 on 3rd downs.  If Miami can keep playing this way, I think they could have a legitimate chance to beat Clemson in the ACC title game and represent the ACC in the CFP.
After watching most of the top teams this weekend, here is what my top 10 would look like:
1. Alabama
2. Georgia
3. Notre Dame
4. Clemson
5. Oklahoma
6. Miami
7. Wisconsin
8. TCU
9. Washington
10. Michigan St.

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