VOL. 130 | NO. 192 | Friday, October 2, 2015
The Press Box
Times Are Good. Try To Enjoy it, Memphis.
By Don Wade
Someday, Vince Carter is going to be in basketball’s Hall of Fame. But recently, he was all about that college football.
Carter was at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to see the University of Memphis win a wild shootout over Cincinnati in an ESPN Thursday night game. Last season, he went to Oxford and saw Ole Miss upset Alabama.
“I’m 2-for-2,” he said.
Chalk this up to happenstance or coincidence, if you wish. I prefer to view it as evidence of the special times we are enjoying locally.
Think about it: The NBA player with perhaps the most famous dunk in history is finishing out his career with the Memphis Grizzlies. That’s pretty cool in and of itself.
As the Grizzlies prepare for another season, they are on a five-year run of playoff appearances. “The so-called golden era” of the franchise, as general manager Chris Wallace has called it.
And then there’s the college football. Ole Miss is undefeated and has beaten Alabama a second straight season.
Memphis was undefeated and carried an 11-game winning streak into their Friday, Oct. 2, game at South Florida.
Each team has a quarterback to envy. In fact, in ranking college quarterbacks through the first month of the season, Athlon placed the Rebels’ Chad Kelly fifth and the Tigers’ Paxton Lynch sixth.
Nowhere on this Top 10 list could you find Auburn or Alabama quarterbacks, and certainly no one named Jeremy Johnson.
Times are good.
Sure, the Memphis men’s basketball program is a little down compared to the not-so-distant past. But the city’s NBA team was able to sign All-Pro center Marc Gasol to a five-year contract, the team should again make the playoffs, the U of M finally has a football program befitting a Power Five Conference, and the Rebels could be SEC title and College Football Playoff contenders.
Pretty great time to be a sports fan around here.
The St. Louis Cardinals, who have their share of fans here, too, have won their 100th game of the season and clinched a third straight National League Division title. They also have ace pitcher Adam Wainwright, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in April, back and pitching out of the bullpen.
None of this, mind you, was supposed to happen. The Cardinals have endured long-term injuries to outfielder Matt Holliday and first baseman Matt Adams as well, and even now catcher Yadier Molina is injured and his status for the playoffs is uncertain.
Wainwright was supposed to be done for the season, but now looms as a middle-inning weapon manager Mike Matheny can deploy ahead of the team’s set-up relievers and closer Trevor Rosenthal.
Lately, both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs have looked like the better teams. But the one-and-done Wildcard Game eliminates one of them. The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers have the better starting rotations, but we know from past playoffs that the Cardinals are Dodger lefty Clayton Kershaw’s kryptonite and who’s to say they won’t be the same for Zach Greinke, the leading candidate for the NL Cy Young Award, or those young arms of the Mets.
Against all logic, the NL pennant again goes through St. Louis.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for women’s boxing are coming to Memphis Oct. 26-31 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. The site will also serve as the final men’s boxing qualifying event for the U.S. Olympic Trials to be held in December in Reno, Nev.
Twenty-four women will compete in the Olympic Trials here until there is one winner in each of the three women’s Olympic weight divisions. Among the competitors: Claressa Shields in the middleweight/165-pound division, and a 2012 Olympic gold medalist; and Marien Esparza in the flyweight/112-pound division, and a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist.
Visit ticketmaster.com for tickets.
Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.