By Leo Haggerty




Being that I have spent the better part of the last 28-plus years in Florida, I can tell you that you don’t play with Mother Nature.  So, when a hurricane of any category strength shows up in the Sunshine State, we take it seriously.

The fact that some people are even suggesting that the University of Florida “jumped the gun” by cancelling its home football contest against LSU are way off base.  Central Florida postponed its home contest with Tulsa.  The Florida State matchup in Miami with the U was “touch -and-go” until late Friday.  It was the right call and here’s why.

If Hurricane Matthew, when it was just off the southern tip of eastern Florida, had made a one-or-two degree movement to the west it would have had Gainesville in its cross-hairs.  The retiring Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley would have looked like a genius but, because Matthew continued on a path that we have almost never seen of hugging the eastern Florida coastline and made landfall south of Charleston in South Carolina, he’s getting hammered.

When it comes to the weather, you have to err on the side of caution.  When you have thousands of people descending upon your town and there’s even the slightest possibility that their lives could be in danger by being out on the highways on in a stadium, you cancel the event and try your to reschedule it.

Trust me, UF was going to make somewhere between $3 and $5 million on that home game.  They sure as heck didn’t want to lose it just for that reason.  Look for TV to pay off a couple of non-conference teams if the game matters or move it to the morning of the SEC Championship game the first Saturday in December.

This game will get played.  You can take that to the bank.




The Giants lefty has proven that he has to be in the conversation when it comes to the best postseason starting pitchers of all time.  His outing against the Mets in the National League Wild Card game has solidified that argument.

Bumgarner 4-hit 3-0 shutout of New York at Citi Field has propelled San Francisco to a best-of-five showdown with the Chicago Cubs.  But, let’s look at the stats #  has compiled in the playoffs.  23 consecutive scoreless innings.  0.79 ERA in his last nine games that include three complete games.  In the last 8 road games, he’s a perfect 8-0 with a 0.50 ERA and has not given up a hit with a runner in scoring position in the last 24 at-bats.  1.94 ERA is the lowest of any starter with at least a dozen postseason starts.  Helped San Fran win three World Series over the past six seasons.

Luckily, the Cubs only have to face #40 a maximum of two times and that’s a stretch.  The G-Men are going to need someone else to step up and win at least one game, and possibly two, if they want to advance.




OK, we need to examine this completely.  I’ll put it out there right now that I believe the Orioles skipper is getting a bum rap.

Here’s the situation.  Baltimore is on the road taking on Toronto in the absurd “one-and-done” Wild Card playoff.  The game goes to extra innings and the Blue Jays, going against the Orioles seventh pitcher of the contest in the person of Ubaldo Jimenez, win in the 11th on a 3-run walk-off homer by Edwin Encarnacion.

Now, let’s get to the controversy.  Showalter elected to save his closer, lefty Zach Britton who had an 0.54 ERA in 67 innings in 2016, and he never gets in the game.  I know popular opinion is that #53 should have come in to put out the fire in the 11th but I agree with Buck in this instance for two big reasons.

First, you’re the visiting team.  If you bring in Britton to get out of the inning, he’s done for the night.  If the O’s take the lead in the 12th inning or later, someone has to get three outs and your closer is no longer available.

Second, the definition of a closer is someone who, with the lead, comes into a game and saves the victory.  The situation was not one that demanded the closer.

I get it that it was “do-or-die” time on the diamond for Baltimore and Showalter chose to save his closer until the situation was right.  A majority of the media feel the time was the 11th inning and, because he kept Britton in the bullpen, he’s getting criticized profusely.  I’m just one  of the guys in the minority that sees Buck’s rationale and accepts it.




The Crystal Ball sees some major manipulation when the FCS Final Four is chosen.  And the skullduggery comes from the SEC.

The Crystal Ball is in very sharp clarity on how this comes to fruition.  If Alabama doesn’t win the SEC Championship, there will be a movement afoot to find a way to get the Crimson Tide into the playoffs.

The Crystal Ball also sees that the most difficult conference division, by far, is the SEC West.  The Crystal Ball also sees that the weakest conference division in the Power 5 is also, by far, the SEC East.

If Bama stubs its toe with Tennessee or Texas A&M or LSU and doesn’t get to play in the Championship game, the Crystal Ball believes that the SEC will lobby hard for two teams in the Final Four grouping.  If this happens, the Crystal Ball also sees that a major outcry will occur.  This complaint will not only be from the other four Power Five Conferences but the general college football watching fans as well.

The battle cry will be go to an eight-team format.  The Crystal Bal has a very clear picture with that and it’s not happening.  At least for another ten years.

The Crystal Ball, wearily, rests.