Las Vegas dream of pro sports finally becomes reality
VSiN managing editor
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LAS VEGAS — The congratulations have been in order for some time. But we must also take time to commend Bill Foley and the Vegas Golden Knights.
With Friday night’s dropping of the puck in Dallas, a dream finally comes true for Las Vegas. Who ever would have believed even a decade ago that any of the professional leagues would land in Nevada for more than just an experiment in occasional scheduling? We know now that Foley and his friends in Montana had that dream years ago, and that they dared to make it a reality.
The commendation for the Golden Knights comes from their reaction to Sunday night’s tragedy on the Las Vegas Strip. Even as they have been busy getting ready for their new season, players this week visited the heroes at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the families who were victimized in the shooting and the blood drives that drew thousands and thousands of donors.
So welcome, Golden Knights. You bring a much-needed bit of happiness to a place that can really use it right now.
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Inch for inch, 5-foot-5-inch José Altuve of the Houston Astros is one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Don’t believe me? Listen up.
On Thursday, Altuve became only the ninth player in Major League Baseball history to slam three home runs in a playoff game, joining the likes of Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols and Babe Ruth (twice). And all eight of his predecessors are just a little bit bigger than him.
Hitting a career-high .346 this season, Altuve won his third American League batting title in the last four years, and his consecutive string of four straight 200-hit seasons puts him in rarified company. He is one of only four right-handed hitters to do that; the others were Michael Young (2003-07), Kirby Puckett (1986-89) and Al Simons (1929-33).
The road from Altuve’s native Venezuela to the major leagues is the stuff of legend. During a tryout camp in his home country he was rejected by the Astros. The next day he came back, hoping that the scouts wouldn’t notice. But they did. Instead of cutting him again, the Astros admired both his moxie and his talent. All they could offer him was a $15,000 contract to play 10 years ago in the Venezuelan Summer League.
He steadily worked his way up to the bigs. Still a bargain at $4.5 million this season, he is poised to be the shortest MVP since Phil Rizzuto in 1950. Put your money on José Altuve someday making it to baseball’s Hall of Fame.
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The Cleveland Indians certainly have the look of a champion, and it is no wonder they are now favored to win this year’s World Series. This comes after a lot of folks were second-guessing Terry Francona for skipping over the likely Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and going with Trevor Bauer in Game 1.
But as VSiN’s Amal Shah pointed out before the American League Division Series, Bauer dominated the Yankees this year with a 1.38 ERA against them in two regular-season starts. Bauer obviously paid off that confidence by taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning and maintaining a shutout before he left in the seventh.
Francona had said that Bauer was better suited than Kluber to coming back on short rest if necessary in a Game 4. Let’s just hope for the Indians’ sake that Bauer does not try to put his finger into the blades of a flying object the way he did last fall. In other words, Tito, just keep Trevor away from his drone for a few weeks.
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I get why Saquon Barkley of Penn State and Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma are the betting favorites for the Heisman Trophy. But my long shot is Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts.
In five games this season Hurts has completed 64 percent of his passes for 747 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. The sophomore from Houston has also run for 461 yards – or an average of 92 a game – and four touchdowns.
The most important number, though, is 5-0. If ’Bama continues to win in impressive fashion, look for some momentum to surround the often-overlooked Crimson Tide quarterback.
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It was one of the worst beats I have ever watched in the National Football League. Of course I am still thinking about what happened in the final seconds Monday night when the Redskins’ bounce-passed two laterals, only to have the Chiefs’ Justin Houston scoop up the football and score a touchdown that meant nothing to the game and everything to gamblers. In the context of winning or losing, if the Redskins had thrown the ball down the field hoping for at least interference and one more play, they might have stayed alive for overtime.
As this game swung instantly from a Redskins cover and under to the Chiefs and over, it brought to my mind one of the last bad beats that I called. That was the famous Ohio State cover by Joey Bosa against Northwestern on the final play of their game four years ago this week.
Houston’s grab-and-go touchdown caused a $7,500 turn in the Westgate SuperContest, which offered a $15,000 prize to the first-place team at the quarter pole of the NFL season. PHD Sports was in the clubhouse at 17-3 with Schematic Advantage poised to come up just short at 16-4. But just as the lights were about to be turned off, a loss turned into a win for Schematic Advantage. Instead of $15,000 all to itself, PHD Sports had to split the dough.
At least they were in the money. My two entries were nowhere close to 17-3. Thank goodness that the season has a long way to go.