Monday Superlatives

With the Houston Astros' loss, Sports Karma is making a huge comeback

November 4, 2019
World Series 2019 Game 7 - Houston Astros at Washington Nationals
The Washington Post

I spent the last week in Ireland, which means I absolutely did not watch the World Series that I probably wouldn't have watched in America, either, since the games all started after midnight. That said, I was still quite happy to wake up Thursday morning to find that not only had the Nationals won Game 7, but that Roberto Osuna had been the goat for the Astros ... by which I mean a shameful, near-literal goat, not the acronym that means the exact opposite.

By now, you probably know that Osuna was accused of domestic violence when he was with the Blue Jays, got off because his wife went to Mexico and wouldn't testify, but was suspended without pay for 70-plus games by MLB because league officials found something they really didn't like, and though the exact details are sealed, nobody from the team or the players' association protested it. Draw your own conclusions there. Then the Astros signed him, deciding to accept whatever negative press came with that decision. When they beat the Yankees in the ALCS, a team executive named Brandon Taubman weirdly and aggressively taunted a group of female reporters about that signing (even though Osuna had almost blown the game), and when they called him out, the Astros went into a spiral of self-owning by means of the recently popularized "we did nothing wrong" double-down until they made such fools of themselves that they had to fire Taubman, but pulled the trigger so late and under such duress that they had no claim to any moral high ground.

RELATED: Houston TV station puts up the most obvious World Series graphic of all time

Anyway ... what usually happens after something like this, especially in the last decade or so, is that the offending team goes on to win everything in sight. We've seen it over and over with the Patriots, who are truly world-class in their history of being miserable, cynical, defensive cheats, and it was almost a slam dunk that we'd see it with the Astros. And, as always, we'd have to listen to their grievance-based fans claim victim status, and to watch the team spin their victory as some kind of triumph over adversity. Personally, I had my vomit bag close at hand.

Then, miracle of miracles, the Nationals won. And they didn't just win—they came back from a 3-2 deficit to win in Houston, and Osuna helped the Astros blow it. Maybe this was just the dying gasp of Sports Karma, puffing out its chest to release a last blast of righteous oxygen before dark forces take over for good. But I choose to believe otherwise. I choose to believe this is the return of the forces of justice, that yin has given over to yang (or is it the reverse?), that dark has ceded to light, that lunacy has met the brightness of solaris and shrunk into retrograde.

And I will continue to believe this, right up until the moment the Patriots win their next Super Bowl in February.

The Bad College Basketball Ranking of the Week: Duke

For some reason that I truly cannot fathom, the Duke Blue Devils are ranked No. 4 in the nation in both the preseason AP and Coaches poll. I have watched Duke play two exhibition games, including one they took by a mere six points against a Division II team—a good one, but still—and I can tell you definitively that this ranking is incorrect. Matt Norlander at CBS has it right that at least for now, they should be ranked no higher than 10th, and might be a more realistic 15th. It's not that they don't have talent (Matt Hurt is very very good), and it's not that Coach K can't coach them up into a fighting force that might make the Final Four—it's that as of now, they don't have the stars they've managed to collect over the past few years, they're going to have trouble scoring against good defenses, and for anyone to believe that a Tony Bennett-coached Virginia team or a Carolina squad with more experience will finish below them in the ACC ... well, they must have missed the part last season where Zion Williamson turned pro.

And with that, I have written my last non-homer Duke take for the season. From here on out, it's all Coach K Cult, all the time.

Your Slo-Mo Giannis Porn of the Week: Giannis

Your Anti-Giannis Porn of the Week: Kemba

Your Inexplicable Giannis Non-Porn of the Week: Giannis, Somehow

The Unexpectedly Great Highlight Video of the Week: Rugby

South Africa beat England for the Rugby World Cup, which is a Very Big Deal in places that care about rugby and where the national team—not naming names—loses by 90 to island nations with populations smaller than Rhode Island. Anyway, I got sorta-kinda into rugby during the World Cup, and though parts of it remain inexplicable to me, I have to admit that when it's done right, there's some serious poetry at play. The final was no exception, and I implore you to take 10 minutes to watch the second half of this highlight reel from the championship, where South Africa just dominates poor England (despite, or because of, a lame pep talk from Boris Johnson). Enjoy:

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