San Francisco Giants fans probably woke up this morning ready to puke.
The way the NLDS came to an end Thursday night might as well have been the equivalent of a gut punch followed by a swift kick to the nether region. In case you missed the mess, the Giants were down one run with a man at first and Wilmer Flores at-bat in the bottom of the ninth. The team was down to their last out and Flores was down to his last strike. The pitch came in, it was a ball, and Flores didn’t swing. Well, according to everyone who wasn’t first base umpire Gabe Morales.
— Umpire Auditor (@UmpireAuditor) October 15, 2021
Look, could Flores have recorded a strikeout or pop fly on the next pitch? Absolutely. But it’s just brutal to see a playoff game of this caliber in front of the home crowd be defined by such a painfully obvious missed call. Speaking of which …
I could not help but be transported back to the couch at my parent’s house where I watched the refs miss a certain timeout call (when there was none to be had) from a certain Cavaliers head coach in a certain semifinals matchup. The stakes are not exactly the same, but we are still talking about a ref mistake that changed the entire course of a playoff series.
If Flores isn’t called out … do the Giants walk it off and head to the NLCS?
If the refs see David Blatt call that timeout … do the Bulls finish the series in Cleveland with a 3-1 advantage?
• The Chicago Bulls will play their final preseason game tonight before they officially tip-off the 2021-22 campaign in Detroit next week. Head coach Billy Donovan has slowly ramped up the new starting lineup’s minutes in each of the three games thus far, with Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic all playing at least 30 minutes against the Cavaliers on Sunday night. I would not be too surprised if he dials things back a bit tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies with the season right around the corner, but we also have to remember this could be the only opportunity the organization has to see their projected starting squad on the floor together before Wednesday.
• All signs point to Patrick Williams making his preseason debut later today. The Bulls’ second-year lottery pick has participated fully in practice the past two days, and all parties seem hopeful he will be given the green light to play in this final matchup. Chicago has so far shut down some chemistry concerns on the offensive end and some effort concerns on the opposite side to the ball. Putting Williams back in the mix should not only bolster the latter, but it gives the offense another freak athlete who can get on in transition, hunt for lobs, and cut to the rack. To be sure, offense will not be a priority for Williams on a healthy Bulls roster, but we all know he has worked on that part of his game this offseason. And with opposing defenses having to put so much of their attention on the other Bulls starters, Williams could find himself with even more scoring opportunities than expected on some night. But, hey, I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. I’m just happy he should be able to return to the floor tonight.
Patrick Williams said he remains on track to play vs. Grizzlies. No setbacks.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 15, 2021
• I rewatched a bunch of preseason tape yesterday, and here is a half-ass thought I came across: I want even more DeRozan-Vucevic two-man game. The team is clearly going to stagger their starters, and it appears Donovan is leaning more toward a LaVine-Vucevic duo and a DeRozan-Ball combo. All things considered, I’m fine with that, but I also think the screening ability of Vucevic coupled with the mid-range artistry of DeRozan should be lethal at times. The big man set a pretty simple elbow screen for DeRozan a couple of times over the first three preseason games, and he created more than enough space for DeRozan to easily sink the mid-range jumper. Again, as one of the best mid-range shooters in the league, I just think that is an easy and obvious play these two can turn to when a bucket is needed.
• I gotta be honest, this Zion Williamson news bums me out. I’ll take an easier home-opener any day, but you always want to see a new team beat full-strength squads early on.
No Zion Williamson For Bulls-Pelicans Home Opener Next Weekhttps://t.co/wbszH8dm17
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) October 14, 2021
• Also, if you’re not caught up, this Williamson stuff is a dumpster fire. Considering the injury, it always felt more likely than not that Williamson would miss some time, but the way the Pelicans tried to beat around the bush on Media Day is embarrassing.
Griff on Zion: “Truth be told, I never said opening night. But that’s OK. I said for the regular season. But I do think it’s going to be something that because of the bone healing aspect of things, it’s hard. Every player is different. Nothing has gone wrong."
— Christian Clark (@cclark_13) October 14, 2021
Griff clarified today that "his timeline should get him back on the court in time for regular season" comment meant any time during the regular season, not the start of the regular season.
— Christian Clark (@cclark_13) October 14, 2021
• Bulls legend.
The Chicago Bulls have waived Bryce Alford.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) October 15, 2021
• You love to see it. Game 3 will be tonight at a sold-out Wintrust Arena! Get ready for good vibes and great basketball.
— Charlotte Carroll (@charlottecrrll) October 15, 2021
• Why do I feel like the Bears do this way too much?
The Bears Are Restructuring Robert Quinn’s Contract to Create $3.5M in Cap Spacehttps://t.co/IiKV6uQTuM
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) October 15, 2021
• My observation: Ew.
Let’s talk about some observations from the Blackhawks opening night loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. https://t.co/62RlQtpR90
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) October 15, 2021