Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sports

Tom Jones' Two Cents: Fact vs. fiction

The Rays will make the playoffs.

What a roller-coaster the Rays put us on. When their pitchers throw peas and someone jumps out of a phone booth with a cape and a big hit to become a late-inning hero, it feels like they're going to win the World Series. When the offense can't scratch out a run (or a hit), it feels like they'll never win again.

Am I confident this team will miss the postseason? No. Doubting this team after all it has done the past four seasons makes no sense, but I do know this: Despite all the good things they've done this season, the Rays would not make the playoffs if they started today. The lack of a consistent offense, a bunch of red-hot teams surrounding them in the playoff pack and a menacing schedule (four games left against the Orioles, three against the Yankees and four at Chicago against the always-pesky White Sox) will be too much for the Rays.

Someone needs to step up and that someone is Matt Joyce, whose lack of productivity in the middle of the lineup (one homer, eight RBIs and a .157 batting average since Aug. 13 heading into Wednesday night) is hurting the Rays right now.

The Bucs need to change their game plan to beat the Giants.

If the Bucs and coach Greg Schiano believe they can beat the Giants by pounding the rock, shutting down their passing game in the second half and throwing for only 138 yards as they did against the Panthers, they will come home with a 1-1 record. The Bucs aren't going to suddenly become Air Schiano, throwing the ball 60 times as Schiano playfully suggested Monday, but they do need to go a little further in the playbook. Maybe they can find the page that has the quarterback going into the huddle and saying: "Run as far down the field as you can and I'll throw it to you. On two. Ready? Break!"

If the Giants have a strength on defense, it's their line. If they have a weakness, it's their secondary, especially with corner Prince Amukamara nursing a high ankle sprain.

A nice run-pass balance with a few deep throws and some first-down pass attempts seem like a decent idea. You can throw against the Giants. Dallas' Tony Romo was 22-for-29 for 307 yards and three TDs, including two to some guy no one ever heard of, in a season-opening victory against the G-men.

Listening to the New York media for 10 days will throw off the Giants against the Bucs.

After losing their season opener at home to the rival Cowboys, the Giants will have had 10 days to get ready for the Bucs and, you would think, 10 days to listen to the New York tabloids blasting the defending champs and trying to fire coach Tom Coughlin … again.

But the Giants aren't in the tabloids' crosshairs at the moment. Instead, the papers are making fun of the Yankees' collapse and following every footstep, blink of the eye and breath of Jets QB Tim Tebow. The Giants are getting a free pass.

Notre Dame joining the ACC is a bad idea.

The Irish are joining the ACC in all sports except football and hockey, which immediately makes me think, "So what?'' But there are some football ramifications. Look for Notre Dame to play five football games a season against ACC schools, as well as keeping traditional rivals USC, Stanford and Navy on the schedule.

It's cool that Notre Dame could be playing Florida State and Miami now and again, but this ACC deal means the Irish might end rivalry games against Big Ten teams such as Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. At the very least, they won't play them every year, and that just seems wrong. Notre Dame feels like a Big Ten school, not an ACC one. South Bend, Ind., isn't exactly on the Atlantic coast.

By the way, not the best of times for Big East basketball, losing Pitt, Syracuse and now Notre Dame to the already hoop-heavy ACC.

The NFL's real officials should be concerned that the replacement officials didn't have any major gaffes last week.

The NFL might believe it has negotiating power in its contract dispute with officials because the replacements didn't mess up too badly. The NFL would be wrong. NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly predicts it will be some time before we see the real officials, but eventually the NFL must realize how risky it is having the best sports league in the world officiated by a bunch of Joe Schmos.

The best officials occasionally make mistakes, so it's a matter of time before the replacements goof. Let's hope it happens before it costs some team a game or, worse yet, a player becomes injured.

Know what could end this dispute? When a team either covers or fails to cover the point spread because of a bum call and gamblers lose millions.

tom jones' two cents

Today, we play a little "Fact or Fiction'' revolving around the latest news from the world of sports.

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