Column: Random thoughts on a fall day, from Kyle Schwarber’s postseason record to the perplexing popularity of Pat McAfee

Fall might be the best time of the year to live in Chicago.

The changing colors and cooler temperatures are always agreeable. The start of the Blackhawks and Bulls seasons provide hope for better days ahead. And the countdown to the first mock draft gives Bears fans something to look forward to as well.

It’s a good time to let your mind wander aimlessly, which leads to random non sequiturs like the following.

There was only one Mr. October.

Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber tied Reggie Jackson’s postseason home run mark for left-handed hitters Tuesday in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

Both have 18, so Schwarber figures to set the record soon.

The difference is that 10 of Jackson’s 18 home runs came in his five World Series appearances. He had a 1.212 OPS in 98 World Series at-bats, earning the nickname “Mr. October” with his three homers against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1977 Series.

Only three of Schwarber’s 18 home runs occurred in a World Series, all of them coming in last year’s loss to the Houston Astros. He was homerless for the Cubs in the 2016 Series, when he made a remarkable comeback after missing almost the entire season and the first two rounds of the postseason after knee surgery.

That’s not to diminish Schwarber’s accomplishments. He’s one of his era’s greatest sluggers. But it needs to be pointed out when mentioning such “records” that the expansion of the postseason has skewed the record book. It’s much easier to get in than it was in Jackson’s era.

In other words, the Schwarber-versus-Jackson debate is deserving of an asterisk.

Chicago’s growing migrant population needs our help.

Seeing so many migrants camped out in tents around local police stations is heartbreaking. Watching residents react angrily at the possibility of relocating the migrants to their neighborhoods stirs up other emotions.

It seems like a problem with no good solution. But seeing the tents at the Town Hall station on Addison Street, only a few blocks from Wrigley Field, made me wonder about our two empty baseball stadiums.

How difficult would it be for the city to pay the Chicago Cubs for temporary use of their ballpark for the next four or five months until they need to get ready for opening day? The suites might be small, but they’re bigger than the tents currently used as living quarters. The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns Guaranteed Rate Field, also could be paid for use as shelter during the cold winter months.

Yes, there would be costs for security and heat and electricity, and it wouldn’t solve all the problems of the growing migrant population.

But it would help some families get through a cold Chicago winter.

I’m sure neither Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts nor Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf would mind as long as they had enough time to get their ballparks ready for the 2024 season, right? By then, perhaps Mayor Brandon Johnson would have a plan in place.

If anyone has a better idea, let’s hear it.

Get ready for a long delay before the World Series.

The pitch clock sped up the game, but it can’t speed up October’s postseason schedule.

The Phillies look poised to sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS. The Texas Rangers appear ready to end the American League Championship Series at home against the Houston Astros in the next few days. That would mean we could be looking at a long gap between the LCSes and the start of the World Series.

MLB long ago scheduled Game 1 of the World Series for Oct. 27. But if the Phillies and Rangers win in four or five games, that would mean no baseball on tap for five or six days.

We all know TV rules the postseason schedule. But if both series end early, wouldn’t it make sense to move the World Series up a few days, perhaps even ending it by Halloween?

The list of famous people whose popularity escapes me gets longer every year.

That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve their fame. It just means I’m too old to understand what everyone else sees in them.

Among the celebrities I find devoid of real talent are Pete Davidson, Kevin Hart, Awkwafina, Sharon Osbourne, Jared Leto, Andy Cohen, Whoopi Goldberg, Ryan Seacrest, Russell Brand, Chris Pratt and any and all Kardashians.

It’s much longer, but you get the point.

My latest addition to the list is ESPN’s Pat McAfee, a former NFL punter and wrestler who shot to fame interviewing Aaron Rodgers on his podcast. He adopted a signature look by wearing a black tank top to show he’s different from other sports analysts, and apparently it works.

There’s no doubt McAfee is different, but he’s not funny or particularly insightful. Fawning over Rodgers is what he does best. What’s worse, he’s now ubiquitous on ESPN with his own show and a stint on College GameDay, where his clowning brings down an otherwise fine show. When he’s on, I always grab the remote.

I suppose McAfee’s audience is composed of millennial and Generation X “bros” who think he’s one of them, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who really enjoys his shtick. Nevertheless, McAfee clones will soon be all over TV.

It’s a copycat world, and we’re just living in it.


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