The Couch Slouch

There is only one way to stop the cheating Patriots

Patriots/Facebook

A popular sentiment these days – and one that most of Sports Nation wants to embrace – is that the New England Patriots finally will be kaput in the postseason and cannot possibly win Super Bowl 54.

What America are these people living in?

Tom Brady could start the game strapped to a gurney, and they could win.

Julian Edelman could play the first half barefoot and the second half in flip-flops, and they could win.

Bill Belichick, at this very moment, is sitting at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Mansfield, Mass., reviewing the latest Patriots surveillance tape of the Kansas City Chiefs' training table.

Still, most of us are hoping that, much like President Trump's three-year win streak ending with impeachment, the Patriots' 18-year NFL dynasty will cease with an implosion.

The Patriots' demise has been prematurely predicted countless times before. Heck, I bought a Patriots piñata at TJ Maxx in 2015 that I have yet to take a baseball bat to.

Is it finally time?

They are old – their quarterback is 42, their coach is 67 and their owner is 78. Then again, the quarterback might be the greatest of all-time, the coach might be the greatest of all-time and the owner is still savvy enough to seemingly dodge prostitution solicitation charges in Florida in which he was allegedly caught on videotape.

Speaking of videotape – before we deep-dive into the team's supposed free fall – let's briefly address the Patriots' latest cinematic venture, "Bengals in Autumn," which should screen at next year's Cannes Film Festival.

(NFL Films should hire Belichick. He gets footage no one else has access to.)

So a video crew working for the Patriots filmed the Cincinnati Bengals' sideline during a recent game. At this point, I don't care if it was an "accident;" if a Wells Fargo branch is robbed and John Dillinger is standing in front of the bank, would you give him the benefit of the doubt?

This occurrence echoes the team's 2007 Spygate scandal, in which the Patriots videotaped New York Jets defensive coaching signals, prompting NFL fines for Belichick and the team, plus the loss of a first-round draft pick.

But my barber George – yes, I got another haircut last week and he told me I do not have to come in again until April 2021 – has a better idea this time, disciplinary-wise. A fine? Pfft. Draft picks? Pfft. Oh, no. George says…

BAN THEM FROM THE POSTSEASON FOR ONE YEAR.

Like this year. And why not?

Because if we don't, as Roger Goodell is my witless witness, these swindling, cheating, scamming, preening Patriots are going to win another Super Bowl.

Sure, they've had lousy offensive-line play, they've had no running attack and no deep threat and they've been unable to replace Gronk. They had no offensive player selected to the initial Pro Bowl roster for the first time since 2003. And the mighty Brady has been reduced to shuffling around the pocket, throwing six-yard checkdown passes.

Uh, you realize the Patriots are 12-3 and we're talking about them struggling.

How good have the Patriots been?

The Patriots will finish at least 12-4 this year for the 13th time in 17 seasons. In that span, the NFL's other 31 teams have finished at least 12-4 a total of 66 times; seven teams have zero 12-4 seasons since 2003. The Patriots make 12-4 look as easy as the Cleveland Browns make 4-12 look simple.

Woe are the Patriots? I think not.

The Patriots are like POTUS – write 'em off at your own risk. They have endless tricks in their shoplifted bag; for crying out loud, Edelman apparently faked a head injury against the Buffalo Bills Saturday.

Between Brady, Belichick and borderline officiating – I believe the last time the Patriots lost a replay challenge was at the Boston Tea Party, late 1773 – I cannot bury these knaves.

What I can do is beg beg beg Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes or Jimmy Garoppolo or Aaron Rodgers to put the kibosh on this unspeakable national nightmare.

Ask the Slouch

Q. Since President Trump has been going to more sporting events lately, do you think he will take in the Georgetown-vs.-Deep State basketball game next month in D.C.? (Gary Duncan; Washington, D.C.)

A. If I were the Hoyas, I wouldn't play Deep State – those games have got to be fixed.

Q. Do we have you to thank for increasing the exposure of our fair city of Spokane when listing it as the residence of another successful contributor to "Ask the Slouch," or is it just because of Gonzaga basketball? (Steve Owings; Spokane, Wash.)

A. I don't even know where Spokane is.

Q. If R*dsk*ns owner Daniel Snyder were impeached for malpractice, who do you think he would call as character witnesses? (John Myers; Harrisonburg, Va.)

A. Even if he were impeached, I suspect he would be acquitted in a Senate trial.

Q. Have Duke basketball fans seen more flops than Amarillo Slim? (Mike Soper; Washington, D.C.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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