I didn’t get a chance to watch the Redskins-Eagles game Sunday. Instead, I had the pleasure of listening to it on WIP 610 AM from Philadelphia while driving home from the Poconos, and there was a moment that said it all about the Redskins so far this season. At one point in the fourth quarter, Eagles broadcaster Merrill Reese declared the meaning of Washington’s 23-17 win over Philadelphia when he said, “The Redskins are better than we thought they were.”
Yes, they are. Better than everyone thought they were, and I would bet that group included the powers that be at Redskin Park. Or did they really think in Jim Zorn’s first five games as an NFL head coach he would beat the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles on the road? That is the statement the Redskins made Sunday. The win over Dallas could have been dismissed as a fluke or a product of that rivalry that can often result in contrary results. But to turn around and go to Philadelphia and beat the Eagles the following week validates the notion that the Redskins are indeed better than everyone thought they were.
Clinton Portis had a great day, gaining 145 yards against a tough Philadelphia defense, but if you were giving a game ball on Sunday, based on the broadcast by Reese and former Eagles receiver Mike Quick, you would give it to Chris Samuels. They raved about his play, and London Fletcher as well. Speaking of Fletcher, and the Redskins defense, is there a chance that the real defensive genius named Greg was Greg Blache and not Gregg Williams?
Proving the notion once again that even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, both of my picks in the two National League Division series came out on top. The Phillies over the Brewers was an easy choice. The Brewers had spent everything they had just getting to postseason as the wild card. They won their version of a championship just by getting there. The Dodgers over the Cubs was based on the hotter team and the better one-two pitching combo, which got lost in all the hoopla about the Cubs being the best team in the NL. Again, any team that can lose three straight to the Nationals in August and not collapse has something going for it — in this case, Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez.
This puts me one step closer to my preseason World Series predictions — Dodgers vs. Red Sox in the World Series, which I picked purely for the drama purposes of having Torre come back to Fenway Park, this time as a Dodger. Manny’s return would make it a nuclear drama, far more interesting than hearing about the Curse of the Billy Goat or some other nonsense. The Phillies against the Red Sox would not be as dramatic, but given both fan bases, it would likely be the series with the most blood spilled in the parking lots. The Red Sox didn’t jump on board, losing to the Angels in 12 innings Sunday night.
You can hit the delete key on Kimbo Slice, the world’s first internet sports superstar. All the ridiculous hype came crashing down Saturday night when Slice, on the pathetic CBS national mixed martial arts broadcast in a partnership with Elite XC, was knocked out in just 14 seconds by a last-minute undercard substitute.
Slice, who managed to parlay his YouTube backyard brawl videos into a sham of a very brief mixed martial arts career, was supposed to fight washed up 44-year-old MMA legend Ken Shamrock. But Shamrock was hurt and could not fight, so they grabbed some guy no one had heard of from the undercard named Seth Petruzelli, and he proceeded to batter Slice and CBS’s farce into obliviion. When Slice first made his appearance on CBS several months ago and got impressive ratings, I compared it to the XFL, the Vince McMahon failed football league.
People watched the first time for curiousity, but unless you gave them some substance, they would disappear — which is what has happened. The growth of mixed martial arts in America, despite what critics think, has not been because of sideshows and street brawlers. It has been built on competitive fights between quality athletes, many of whom are former college wrestlers who now have an avenue to compete professionally. I will be curious to see if the November showdown between MMA legend Randy Couture and the inexperienced Brock Lesnar will just be a more sophisticated and just slightly more competitive version than the Slice debacle. I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 today (Monday) from 5 to 7 p.m.
To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com