Baseball is still number two, but here comes college football

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One of the reasons today is such a slow news day baseball-wise is because the sporting world is focused on tonight’s Alabama-Notre Dame game. It’s a focus that mirrors the increasing popularity of college football. Which, some say, may soon overtake baseball as the nation’s second most popular sport.

Baseball still has more viewers — 48% of adults watched an MLB game as opposed to 39% watching college football — but college football is gaining ground:

Other research indicates the Grand Old Game is still No. 2. But the power and pageantry of college football is grabbing younger consumers. Numbers are trending in the direction of college football. In the latest Harris Poll, 16% of adults cited baseball as their favorite sport, compared to 11% for college football. Baseball’s actually up three points from last year, when the two sports were tied at 13% while college football dropped two points. But since Harris started tracking America’s favorite sports in 1985, college football has gained 1%, while baseball has gone down 7%.

You know my take on this. Who cares? Bud Light sells more than Stone IPA and Justin Bieber sells more than Neil Young and yet I still like what I like, you like what you like and so to shall it always be with sports.

But it is interesting to see the surge of college football, especially given the public hits it has taken in recent years, what with scandals and greater reporting of its excesses and its corruption. Fans don’t care. They like the product and, our different tastes and the hand-wringing of some aside, there is no reason why they shouldn’t.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.