October is a wonderful time for couch potatoes

storapse@aol.comOctober 18, 2012 

While I don't care much for the overlap of sports seasons (all too long), I have to admit that October is my favorite month for watching television.

It has nothing to do with the political debates. I've seen that movie too many times. The politicians on both sides are still making the same promises they will never keep and telling the same lies that they've been spouting for over a year.

No, I prefer watching Peyton Manning leading the Denver Broncos back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to a 35-24 victory on Monday night football. Nobody does it better than Peyton and this comes from a guy who thought he was overrated in college.

Then there's the drama of watching two of baseball's best managers -- Detroit's Jim Leyland and New York's Joe Girardi -- make tough, controversial decisions that risked alienating a couple of their star players.

How many managers would replace a star "closer" -- Jose Valverde (35 saves in 40 chances) -- as Leyland did last Sunday night? The Tigers manager, who had watched Valverde implode a night earlier in blowing a 4-0 lead, wisely decided Phil Coke was a better choice and he pitched not one, but two innings to preserve a 3-0 victory.

How many managers would pinch-hit for, or bench, the highest paid player in baseball, Alex Rodriguez, in five of the last six playoff games? That's what Girardi did.

The results have been mixed. Raul Ibanez's two home runs helped the Yankees eliminate Baltimore, but A-Rod's subs haven't done much against the Tigers.

However, to me, the important thing is Girardi had the guts to sit Rodriguez. Most managers are too stubborn or want to be loved too much, to make that kind of a move in the middle of the playoffs. If you are a long-time Atlanta Braves fan, you know who I have in mind.

However, I am deviating from my love for October.

This is the month when we discover who the real contenders are, as opposed to preseason pretenders, in both college and pro football.

The first Bowl Championship Series standings were released Sunday and there are still at least a dozen colleges in the running for the title game in January in Miami.

Five undefeated teams lead the pack -- Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Kansas State and Notre Dame. But don't count out once-beaten teams like Oklahoma, LSU and South Carolina. Remember, early season losses are forgiven easier than those after mid-October. Especially if those losses are on the road.

Alabama hasn't really been tested, but the Crimson Tide will be when they play at LSU in a couple of weeks. Oregon still has to play Southern Cal and unbeaten Oregon State. Kansas State has a tough one this week at West Virginia, and Notre Dame has dates at Oklahoma and Southern Cal.

The South Carolina-Florida meeting in Gainesville on Saturday is pretty much an elimination game. In my view, it is the most important game of the season to date. The first of many.

I don't know what to make of the first six weeks of the National Football League.

Atlanta is unbeaten, but I don't think the 1972 Dolphins are much worried about the Falcons threatening their perfect season.

Two of the glamour teams -- Green Bay and New England are 3-3. But with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, they will probably find a way to make the playoffs.

Three teams are 5-1 -- Houston, Baltimore and Chicago -- and all figure to win their divisions because of weak opposition. But the Ravens have major injury problems on the defensive side and that may do them in.

I think the biggest surprise of the season, so far, is the way the New York Giants manhandled San Francisco on Sunday. On paper, this is a game the 49ers, playing at home, should have won.

With Tom Coughlin coaching the Giants, we should have known better. The man has a knack in big games. Eli Manning may not be as good as his bother, but he isn't far behind.

Could we have a Manning vs. Manning Super Bowl? Nah, that's an October fantasy.

Or is it?

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