Matthews: Death, Taxes, and Joey Chestnut

posted by Bob Matthews - 

DEATH, TAXES AND...JOEY CHESTNUT; HOW ABOUT A BOBBLETUMMY NIGHT?

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut won the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest for the 11th time in his last 12 tries Wednesday on the boardwalk at Coney Island.

It was no contest. The 34-year-old professional eater beat runner-up Carmen Cincotti by 10 hot dogs and buns: a record-74 to 64 in the 10-minute chowdown.

Someone on the Internet asked how Chestnut’s margin of victory (10 hot dogs and buns) would compare to Secretariat’s romp (31 lengths) in the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

Come on now. Why would anyone care?

The question did inspire a few thoughts:

Is Chestnut’s stomach as huge as Secretariat’s abnormally large heart was?

Could Chestnut sire great binge eaters the way Secretariat sired champion race horses?

Since ESPN includes pro wrestling on its long list of legitimate sports, could binge eating be next?

For the record, Chestnut and women’s champion Miki Sudo on Wednesday each won $10,000 of the $40,000 total prize money.

Chestnut was coming off a $4,000 pay day for winning a donut eating contest in Philadelphia last week. Nice work if you can stomach it.

Chestnut, a graduate of San Jose State University, has worked as a construction engineer. He has won contests for – among many things -- shrimp, asparagus, hard-boiled eggs, matzah balls, bratwurst and mutton sandwiches. He has won the Chicken Wings Eating Championship in Buffalo several times.

Suggestion to the Red Wings: a Joey Chestnut Bobbletummy Night and a winner-take-all showdown versus the top Garbage Plate eaters in this area.

WHY AREN’T CHINA OR INDIA ANY GOOD IN SOCCER?

Sure, it is embarrassing that the United States didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

We’re a wealthy country. We have plenty of terrific athletes. We have professional soccer leagues.

Sadly, we failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. I’m sure that delighted Vladimir Putin.

Things could be worse. We’re third in the world in population at about 330 million. China (1.4 billion) and India (1.33 billion) have many more people but they didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup, either.

Soccer is popular in China. One source says soccer trails only basketball and leads No. 3 table tennis as a spectator sport (live and on TV). There are professional leagues in China but the sport’s popularity has waned in recent years due to corruption involving players and officials and a lack of success on the international level.

China has played in only one men’s World Cup. In 2002, it lost all three games in the Group stage, by a combined 9-0 to Brazil, Turkey and Croatia. One disappointed Chinese reporter wrote that the country’s team had two major deficiencies: “Right feet and left feet.”

India has had a pro soccer league since 2014 and it supposedly has helped the sport become more popular. It still has a long ways to go. India qualified for the World Cup only once – in 1950 – and decided not to participate in the tournament. An old myth was that India withdrew because FIFA wasn’t going to let the players compete bare feet. A lack of money for travel expenses to Brazil is a more likely explanation.

The USA figures to play in the World Cup in 2026 – at the latest. We’ll probably receive an automatic bid as a host country in the expanded 48-team field. It seems highly unlikely that China or India will qualify.

For the record, in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola men’s world rankings, USA is 25th, China PR is 75th and India is 97th. Chinese Taipei is 123rd, Hong Kong 142nd and Macau 185th (Hong Kong and Macau are part of China but have retained independent associations with FIFA).

CHECKING OUT THE EIGHT QUARTERFINALISTS

The 2018 World Cup quarterfinals begin Friday. Here’s a historical look at how the eight participants measure up:

Appearances – Brazil 21...France and England 15 each...Belgium and Uruguay 13 each...Sweden 12...Russia (Soviet Union) 10...Croatia 5.

Records (wins-draws-losses) – Brazil 73-18-17...France 31-13-19...England 29-20-17...Uruguay 24-12-19...Russia (Soviet Union) 20-8-16...Sweden 19-13-18...Belgium 18-9-18...Croatia 11-2-7.

Goals for and against – Brazil 228-103 (+125)...France 113-75 (+38)...England 88-60 (+28)...Russia (Soviet Union) 75-51 (+24)...Uruguay 87-72 (+15)...Croatia 29-19 (+10)...Belgium 64-70 (-6)...Sweden 80-91 (-1).

World Cup Championships – Brazil 5 (1958-1962-1970-1994-2002)...Uruguay 2 (1930-1950)...England 1966...France 1998.

World Cup runners-up – Brazil 1998...Sweden 1958...France 2006.

World Cup third place – Brazil 2 (1938-1950)...France 2 (1958-1986)...Sweden 2 (1938-1994)...Soviet Union 1966...Croatia 1998.

World Cup fourth place – Uruguay 3 (1964-1970-2010)...Brazil 2 (1974-2014)...France 1982...England 1990.

K-HAWKS ARE STAYING – FOR NOW AT LEAST – AND THEY’RE LOOKING GOOD

The Rochester Knighthawks finally reacted this week to reports that the team might be moving to Halifax and/or be a dormant National Lacrosse League franchise for the 2019 season.

K-hawks vice-president of sales John Catalano said he didn’t know where the rumors were coming from. I’m pretty sure he knew what was going on behind the scenes and wanted to clear the air as soon as the NLL front office decided exactly what was happening.

It was a very good sign when the NLL released the protected lists for the nine existing teams to stock the expansion Philadelphia Wings and San Diego Seals for the 2019 season. That was the first strong clue that there wouldn’t be a third expansion team for this season – in Halifax or Rochester.

So now K-hawks fans will spend this season wondering if their favorite players will be wearing uniforms for Rochester or Halifax the following season.

Here is Rochester’s protected list: Forwards Cody Jamieson, Joe Resetarits, Kyle Jackson, Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell; defenders/transition Graeme Hossack, Scott Campbell, Brad Gilles, Luc Magnum and Jake Withers; goalie Matt Vinc.

Rochester’s unprotected list (likely to lose two to the expansion teams): Frank Brown, Josh Currier, Paul Dawson, Angus Goodleaf, Ian Lloyd, Mike Manley, Quinn Powless, Eric Shewell, Billy Dee Smith, Sid Smith, Cory Vitarelli and Sean Young.

The most surprising names on the unprotected list include Currier and captain Sid Smith.

GM-owner Curt Styres could protect only five forwards. Currier, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2017 NLL draft, is very talented and had 10 goals in last season’s playoff run.  I’m sure Styres wanted to keep Currier but someone up front had to be on the expansion list. Sid Smith turns 32 this month and the expansion teams might be looking to go younger on defense.

Scott Campbell will turn 37 in October but he’s still a solid player and there was speculation that he might be the captain for one of the expansion teams if he were available. Paul Dawson, Ian Llord and Billy Dee Smith also are more than capable defenders but the K-hawks need to get younger on the back end.

Vinc is 36 but still one of the NLL’s top goalies. He would’ve given an expansion team instant credibility. The K-hawks figure to be a title contender in 2019 and exposing Vinc in the draft would’ve been a big gamble and an unpopular move in terms of public relations.

Some familiar names around the NLL made available in the expansion draft:  Aaron Bold...Dan Dawson...Jordan Hall...Steven Keogh...Brodie Merrill...Johnny Powless...Paul Rabil...NLL 2018 playoffs MVP Jeff Shattler...Mark Steenhuis......Jeremy Thompson...Joel White.

A BATCH OF BASEBALL STATS AND THOUGHTS

The New York Yankees hit three more home runs in Wednesday’s 6-2 home win over the promising but overmatched Atlanta Braves. The Yankees have 144 HRs in 84 games and are on pace to hit 278 HRs this season. The MLB record is 264 by the 1997 Seattle Mariners...Emergency rookie catcher Kyle Higashioka is 3-for-16 (.188) since being promoted from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but all three hits were HRs...The Yankees are idle Thursday and then will begin an 11-game trip Friday night to Toronto (3 games), Baltimore (4) and Cleveland (4).

The Washington Nationals are in full panic mode. They held a players only meeting after Wednesday’s 3-0 home loss to Boston. It was Washington’s fifth straight loss. The Nationals were 37-26 on June 9 and are 5-17 since. They trail first-place Atlanta by 7 games in the NL East. “It’s do or die now,” said shortstop Trea Turner. I wonder what Dusty Baker thinks about this mess. He managed the Nationals in 2016 and 2017 and they won the NL East both seasons with a combined 192-132 record. But the team fizzled in the playoffs and he was replaced by Dave Martinez. Will Martinez make it through his rookie season?

Just what MLB needed – the much-anticipated Chicago White Sox at Cincinnati Reds matchup on ESPN in prime-time 7 p.m., July 4th.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a knack of unveiling surprise major contributors. The latest is 27-year-old infielder-outfielder Max Muncy, a former bust with the Oakland A’s (.195 batting average, 5 HRs in 96 games in 2015-16). The A’s released him March 31, 2017, and the Dodgers signed him April 28, 2017. He spent most of last season and the start of this season with Oklahoma City (Pacific Coast League). He was promoted to the Dodgers April 17 this season and is batting .281 with 20 HRs, including two Wednesday. In 183 at-bats, he became the quickest Dodger ever to reach 20 HRs. He told a reporter that he was eating breakfast Wednesday when a fan called him “Mad Max” and asked for a photo. Said Muncy, “First time ever.”

For the second straight season, the Seattle Mariners are dominant in one-run games: 2017 – 26-15...2018 – 26-11.

SHORT SHOTS

For the record, here are the estimated populations of the eight teams that reached the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals: Brazil 209 million...Russia 146 million...France 67 million...United Kingdom (England) 66 million...Belgium 11.4 million...Sweden 10.2 million...Croatia 4.1 million...Uruguay 3 million.

BOVADA odds to win the 2018 World Cup (entering the quarterfinals) – Brazil 3-to-1...France 4-to-1...England 4-to-1...Belgium 5-to-1...Croatia 6-to-1...Uruguay 16-to-1...Russia 20-to-1...Sweden 25-to-1.

BOVADA odds to win the 2018 World Cup when the 32-team competition began – Brazil 4.5-to-1...France 6.5-to-1...Belgium 12-to-1...England 18-to-1...Uruguay 25-to-1...Croatia 33-to-1...Russia 50-to-1...Sweden 150-to-1.

Bob’s mini-movie review: The Catcher Was A Spy. Moe Berg was a good field-no hit catcher in the 1930s. Casey Stengel, of all people, once described Berg as “the strangest man in baseball.” Berg also might have been the smartest man in baseball. He spoke many languages and became a spy for the U.S. during World War II. His best-known assignment was to kill a Nazi physicist who was working on the A-bomb and then kill himself with cyanide. I love baseball and spy stories, so I really liked the movie. But you probably would not. The only combat was a 10-minute segment that seemed to be included to wake up the audience. I gave it a Four Stars out of Five – for me. But for most viewers, I give it Two of Five.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Friday, July 6

Andrew Benintendi (24)...Corey Coleman (24)...Manny Machado (26)...Matt Kalil (27)...Jae Crowder (28)...Christian Erhoff (36)...Pau Gasol (38)...LPGA’s Lairi Merten (58)...Joe Jacoby (59)...Ron Duguay (61)...Willie Randolph (64)...Brad Park (70). Kevin Hart (39), Sylvester Stallone (72) and George W. Bush (72) are invited to the birthday party.

Saturday, July 7

Yangervis Solarte (31)...Michele Kwan (38)...Rumun Ndur (43)...Patrick Lalime (44)...Lisa Leslie (46)...Michael Westbrook (46)...Joe Sakic (49)...Chuck Knoblauch (50)...Ralph Sampson (58)...Tim Nordbrook (69)...Robert James (71)...Carl Mauck (71). Ringo Starr (78) is invited to the birthday party.

Sunday, July 8

Josh Harrison (31)...Renata Costa (32)...Hakim Warrick (36)...Jay Bellamy (46)...Ken Lanier (59). Toby Keith (57), Kevin Bacon (60), Anjelica Huston (67) and Wolfgang Puck (69) are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

July 6

89 years ago (1929), in the first all-American Wimbledon women’s final, Helen Wills Moody beat Helen Jacobs 6-1, 6-2...85 years ago (1933), Babe Ruth hit a home run as the AL beat the NL 4-2 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game...15 years ago (2003), Serena Williams beat sister Venus Williams 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the 110th Wimbledon tournament.

July 7

104 years ago (1914), Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics turned down Baltimore Orioles owner Jack Dunn’s offer of pitchers Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore for $10,000...95 years ago (1923), the Cleveland Indians scored 13 runs in the sixth inning of a 27-3 win over the Boston Red Sox...70 years ago (1948), the Cleveland Indians signed pitcher Satchel Paige.

July 8

72 years ago (1946), Major League Baseball owners granted players a $5,000 minimum salary...45 years ago (1973), the New York Mets fell 12 ½ games behind in the National League; they wound up winning the pennant...28 years ago (1990), Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in Rome for the 14th World Cup...24 years ago (1994), a preliminary trial rules there is enough evidence to try O.J. Simpson.

Bob Matthews' Column

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