Even while winning 22 straight preseason games is impressive, is it noteworthy?
I’m Dan Gartland, and good morning. Although preseason victories are meaningless, you have to agree the Ravens’ streak is impressive.
SI:AM for this day:
GOAT from Seattle
College coaches are under fire
Big-money golfers Rory and Tiger PGA Tour’s suggestion
You can’t count preseason games, but try saying that to the Ravens.
Baltimore has now won an amazing 22 straight preseason games after fighting off a late challenge from the Cardinals last night.
The Ravens’ most recent exhibition defeat occurred in the Falcons’ preseason season finale in 2015. Baltimore scored with 40 seconds left to play to trim Atlanta’s advantage to 20-19, but instead of kicking the extra point, the Ravens attempted a two-point conversion, which they failed to complete. They should have known that history would be at stake.
The Packers’ 19-game winning streak from 1959–1962 was surpassed by the preseason stretch, making it the longest in NFL history. In the annual College All-Star Game, which pitted the reigning NFL champions against a squad of rookies representing respective universities, Green Bay’s winning streak was broken. If you just include contests with NFL clubs, the Packers’ winning streak went up to 23 games.
Kliff Kingsbury, the coach of the Cardinals, stated before the game that he respected the Ravens’ approach to exhibition games.
That’s a part of their culture, according to Kingsbury. “They predict that we will win these games and contribute to the improvement of the regular season. I admire that strategy. Evidently, their group is convinced. They have one of the league’s most prosperous franchises. We will take their finest effort.
Although the streak is amusing, is it important to pay attention to it? I contend that it is. Every regular season since it started in 2016, the Ravens have won at least eight games. In reality, as Kingsbury noted, they have been among the league’s most successful teams for a significant period of time. Only once, in 2015 when they went 1-3 in the preseason, have they not won eight games since John Harbaugh became their head coach in 2008. The Ravens’ performance during those games, rather than the games’ results, is what distinguishes the streak.
Games like last night’s show the Ravens have great depth, which is essential for successful teams in a sport when injuries are so common. Most of the team’s key players were not present in Arizona, including top receivers Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay, Lamar Jackson, and Mark Andrews (who have not played a single preseason snap). All of the defensive starters had taken a break.
These absences gave some lesser-known athletes a chance to shine. In addition to looking terrific while doing it, backup quarterback Tyler Huntley completed 13 of 14 throws for 129 yards and a touchdown. Watch him avoid the rush and deliver a cross-body throw to a wide-open Makai Polk or scramble and complete a pass to tight end Isaiah Likely. Anthony Brown, a quarterback who went undrafted but played well, completed 10 of 13 throws for 91 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
The true star, however, was rookie tight end Likely, who was selected in the fourth round and was fifth on the depth chart going into the game. In the midst of thick traffic, he collected eight catches for a total of 100 yards, including this Huntley score.
Harbaugh remarked, “We expected him to be a pretty excellent player. “To be perfectly honest with you, I’d say he’s what we anticipated. He has had several chances, and he has taken advantage of them. He doesn’t get flustered, he goes to work every day, and he asks smart questions. He makes a mistake and fixes it.
When the Giants are 2-0, it can be difficult to place too much importance in preseason victories, but having strong backups for your starters in case of injury has some merit.
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Greg Bishop examines Sue Bird’s influence on Seattle athletics in today’s Daily Cover as her retirement nears:
Consider her to be the city’s Kevin Bacon, the center around which everything—and everyone else—rotates in pursuit of its sporting goals. For Seattle residents of [Jamal] Crawford’s generation, her professional achievements act as a tether, as our own life milestones. Just to watch her, Crawford purchased season tickets for the same venue where he had previously worked. He remembers screaming at a locker room television during a Miami pregame for a 2005 playoff game. He recalls being proud of the city’s sporting momentum and receiving the NBA’s Sixth Man Award around the time the Storm won its second championship (in 2010).
College football coaches that are most likely to be fired this year are listed by Richard Johnson. … The USMNT’s strikers were expected to be a weak spot at the World Cup this fall, but that is no longer the case, according to Avi Creditor. PGA Tour players met under the direction of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, according to Bob Harig.
In the midst of their awful slump, Yankees management received loud jeers from fans across the sports globe during Paul O’Neill’s jersey retirement ceremony. (Even though they competed and prevailed yesterday.) … An update on Bryce Harper’s damaged thumb was provided. After his brother was charged with murder, Aqib Talib decided to leave his commentary position with Amazon. Kayvon Thibodeaux, a first-round pick of the Giants, was forced to leave Friday night’s exhibition due to a knee injury. Even though Albert Pujols is getting closer to hitting 700 home runs, he still intends to retire after this season. With the Heat, Udonis Haslem will play in his 20th NBA season. In just one inning, the Triple A affiliate of the Astros scored 17 runs.
The leading five… what I observed yesterday:
5. Andrew McCutchen’s mimic act following a high, tight delivery.
4. Adley Rutschman and Little Leaguers exchange autographs.
3. Brenden Aaronson, a native of New Jersey, scored Leeds United’s opening goal.
2. Devon Allen’s lightning-quick speed on a touchdown reception as a hurdler.
1. The way this Portuguese player in the second level handles penalties.
Which ESPN reporter made a classic performance on SportsCenter where his voice kept rising and falling on this day in 2007 when the Rangers defeated the Orioles 30-3?
Last night’s SIQ: Which renowned power hitter, in his 20th MLB season, made his debut as a starter on this day in 1945?
Jimmie Foxx is the answer. He pitched 62 and a third innings against the Reds for the Phillies, giving up two runs on four hits, four walks, and five strikeouts.
Foxx missed the 1943 season after a forgettable 1942 campaign that was divided between the Red Sox and Cubs. In 1944, he made 15 appearances for Chicago and recorded just one success. However, the Phillies signed him to complete their wartime roster and gave him one last opportunity to end his career in the same city where it began with the Athletics two decades ago.
Foxx had a good start at the plate, but by mid-June he had been demoted to pinch-hitting and had lost his place in the starting lineup. By July, it was obvious that he had little time left.
Foxx declared, “When the battle is finished, I’m through.” I think I’ve played enough if I were to stop playing today.
To try to stay on the squad, he had one more option, though: he could try out as a pitcher. (He had been a standout pitcher in high school and had tossed a complete game while in charge of the Cubs’ Class B affiliate a year before.)
His manager, Ben Chapman, said, “I’m going to see that he gets a fair one. It’s his only shot to stay active in the big leagues.” Pitchers, and then more pitchers, are the one thing the Phillies need more than anything else.
On July 10, Foxx started a charity exhibition game versus the Athletics to generate money for war assistance. Foxx threw relief in two games later that month, totaling 42 and a third innings of shutout ball, though he did issue five walks. The experiment had gone well enough.
His third pitching outing of the season, on August 19th, was when he saw the most action. In 222 3 innings, he finished the season with a 1.59 ERA. Not bad for a man who was ranked No. 2 in career home run leaderboard at the time.
Coming Soon: Aug. 22, 1988
E.M. Swift declared it to be “the largest deal in the NHL history and, at least monetarily, the biggest in the history of sports” when the Oilers moved Wayne Gretzky to the Kings in August 1988. Gretzky and Magic Johnson, another famous athlete from Los Angeles, were photographed on the cover of the magazine where Swift’s article was published.
Johnson is quoted in Swift’s narrative as saying, “Hey, he belongs in L.A. He is the best. Without a doubt, I’ll purchase season tickets. It will still be thrilling to go now, even if they never win a game.”
On the cover, Gretzky was grinning, but he wasn’t when he first found out he was up for sale. Earlier this month, I briefly discussed the Gretzky trade in a SIQ. Earlier this year, Gretzky revealed on a podcast that he first became aware that he would be moving on May 27 when he was called by a Canadian businessman who suggested Gretzky accept a trade to the Canucks. Gretzky stopped him. Though trade rumors persisted, it wasn’t until July—six days after Gretzky’s wedding to American actress Janet Jones—that he realized they were accurate. Swift described what transpired as follows:
Six days into Jones and Gretzky’s honeymoon, [Kings owner Bruce] McNall dialed Gretzky’s number from Jones’ condo in Sherman Oaks, California. When McNall told Gretzky that [Oilers owner Peter] Pocklington had given him the go-ahead to call, Gretzky responded, “You’re kidding. Gretzky has a large deal of pride, which when injured takes a long time to repair, like most great sportsmen. Pocklington’s failure to personally inform him that he was for sale shocked and wounded him. Anger quickly replaced the hurt. After speaking with McNall for the first time, Gretzky called his father, Walter, who lives in Brantford, Ontario. According to Gretzky, “my dad tried to calm me down, but I told him I had already decided I was never going to wear an Oilers’ uniform again.”
Gretzky was willing to accept a new beginning because of the disrespect of being sold behind his back. He called Paul Coffey, a former teammate who had been traded a year before, and inquired about his feelings regarding leaving Edmonton.
Gretzky claimed Coffey told him, “Gretz, you’ll miss the players, the friendships, and the fans, but you won’t even look back.” It’s simply pleasant to go somewhere and be respected.
After leaving Edmonton, Gretzky didn’t go on to win another Stanley Cup, but coming over here helped him become even more famous.
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