Welcome to the latest installment of the Made-Up Mailbag, and happy Halloween. I wanted to give the mailbag a proper spooky theme this week, but I thought it might be too (candy) corny. While that hasn’t stopped me so far with this column, believe me when I say this one would’ve ended up cornier than Kansas in August. I settled on the admittedly weak compromise of using the word scary a bunch and sprinkling in a few more themed (but still bad) puns.
With that heckuva sell-job over with, on to the mailbag!
Q. This weekend trick-or-treated us to some incredible games. Which one was your favorite?
A. We are in the special time of the year where all four of the ‘big four’ American sports leagues are playing, and it means, for better or worse, you can spend the entire weekend glued to the couch. This is the first weekend I haven’t fully regretted doing so. Between Game Five of the World Series, Penn State vs Ohio State in college football and Texans vs Seahawks in the NFL, Penn State vs Ohio State was my favorite.
Game Five of the World Series was just a fun game to watch. The Astros and Dodgers combined for 28 hits, 25 runs and seven home runs across 10 innings. The talk of juiced or slicked baseballs seemed undoubtedly true after the ball flew off bat after bat all night. From what I could tell, George Springer’s 448-foot solo shot in the seventh actually exploded something on impact. The teams matched each other shot-for-shot in a game that seemed like it would never end. After the Dodgers tied the game with a three-run ninth inning, the MLB just tweeted “LOL.” Easily the most entertaining baseball game I’ve watched.
However, it takes more than that for a curmudgeonly baseball hater like myself to rank a baseball game ahead of a football game. I saw the game between the Seahawks and Texans described as the perfect modern NFL game, and I mostly agree. It was a high flying quarterback duel between young and exciting quarterbacks featuring big plays on both offense and defense. Normally, shootouts are not decided by the defense, but the Seahawks’ unit was the difference. They amassed five sacks, three interceptions, and a touchdown in the Seahawks’ 41-38 victory. Not to say Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t hold his own — the impressive rookie threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns and gained another 67 yards rushing. His two leading receivers, Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller, had touchdowns of 72 and 59 yards, respectively.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson connected on passes of 48, 53, 54 and 66 yards. He even had more yards (482) than his team did as a whole (479) thanks to negative yards rushing from the rest of his team. The two quarterbacks nearly doubled the number of games where a signal caller accounted for 400+ yards passing, 30+ yards rushing and four touchdowns in the game of the year so far in the NFL.
With the two other contenders for game of the weekend being so formidable, what puts the Saturday evening matchup in the Horseshoe on top? Ironically, my lifelong distaste for the Buckeyes. Growing up in Columbus rooting against Ohio State — the single most beloved anything in the city — was hard work, but someone had to do it. The stubborn, contrarian desire to break the consensus is the only way I can justify putting myself through rooting against that team for so long, because let me tell you, rooting against Ohio State is NOT fun. They win pretty much every game, and the ball always seems to bounce their way. Most weeks, it feels like the Big Man upstairs is wearing scarlet and gray.
Luckily, Saturday, I found myself rooting them on for once. After an awesome interception by safety Damon Webb was taken away by what I thought was a phantom pass interference call, I was cheering for the Buckeyes. It was much more fun relishing in quarterback J.T. Barrett’s potential Heisman moment than stewing over it. Barrett was surgical in the fourth quarter. He completed all 13 of his pass attempts for 170 yards and three touchdowns. It was the most special game I’ve seen a quarterback play this year, and I can happily say it was awesome to watch.
Thanks for making it through another Made-Up Mailbag, and see you next time. Also, if you’d like to make the mailbag slightly less made-up, send me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or @Nschlete on Twitter.