Matthew Richardson torches bye week after Brisbane Lions loss


Footy legend Matthew Richardson says the AFL will be under pressure to scrap the contentious bye week leading into finals after a historic preliminary final wipeout.

Richardson’s call came as Channel 7’s Luke Darcy said it was the first time in “history” that two teams — Richmond and Geelong — had both won through to the grand final after losing earlier in the finals series.

AFL live scores: Preliminary final match centres

The top two finishing clubs after the regular season, Port Adelaide and Brisbane, were both eliminated in their grand-final qualifiers after winning their qualifying finals and taking another week off.

On the back of recent years were teams enjoying a week off in the finals have repeatedly struggled to win preliminary finals, Richardson said the debate will begin all over again after the Power and Lions both lost.

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The AFL introduced the contentious bye week before the start of the finals series in 2016 in a bid to stop clubs resting star players for Round 23 before the finals.

Since it was introduced, the teams that have won qualifying finals and taken a second week off as a result of progressing straight to the preliminary finals have won just four of the 10 preliminary finals played, including both games this season.

Richardson said the AFL will be forced to address it again for the 2021 season.

“I would be surprised if it happens again next year because I don’t think it benefits the teams that win in that first week,” he said.

“You have worked so hard in that year to get the double chance. You win, go through to a prelim and you only play one game in a month. It is clear tonight the two teams that are supposed to get the benefit in Brisbane and Port Adelaide didn’t really get that.”

Darcy said it will become a focus for the AFL after pointing out the Cats and Tigers will create history in Saturday’s grand final as the first time the AFL will have two grand finalists that lost during the finals.

He said it was clear the two weeks off in the space of four weeks impacted the momentum of Port Adelaide and Brisbane.

“This is the first time in the history of the game, that both sides going through to a grand final made a grand final lost. That has never happened before.”



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Butler torches Lakers as Heat cut NBA Finals deficit to 2-1



Oct 4, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers guard JR Smith (21) during the second quarter of game three of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

October 5, 2020

(Reuters) – Jimmy Butler and the undermanned Miami Heat breathed new life into the NBA Finals with a gritty 115-104 upset victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday that cut the best-of-seven series deficit to 2-1.

The Heat, well aware that no NBA team has ever come back from a 0-3 series deficit to win in seven games, squandered a 14-point third-quarter lead but dug deep in the fourth to avoid being pushed to the brink of elimination.

“I think we realized that we belong,” said All Star forward Butler after recording his first career playoff triple-double with 40 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds.

“They can be beaten as long as we do what we are supposed to do.”

LeBron James had a team-high 25 points for the Lakers while Anthony Davis, who was a dominant force in the first two games of the series, got in early foul trouble and lacked rhythm as he managed just 15 points.

Miami, without injured starters Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic for a second consecutive game, built a 13-point lead out of the gate but the Lakers clawed back to within four points after two quarters despite 14 turnovers.

The Heat opened the third with a 10-0 run to build another double-digit lead and while the Lakers missed their first seven shots of the half they fought back to lead 91-89 with under nine minutes to play.

Miami needed someone to step up and Butler answered the call with eight consecutive points as the Heat pulled away.

“I thought Jimmy was phenomenal,” said James.

“He did everything that they needed for him to do tonight and he came through big time in a big-time game.”

This year’s NBA Finals will cap a season unlike any other as play restarted in July after a four-month hiatus with all games held at Disney World in Florida to limit the risk from the novel coronavirus.

Game Four is on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford)





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Obama torches Trump like American democracy depends on it – POLITICO


Former President Barack Obama addresses the virtual DNC convention | DNCC via Getty Images

The former US president went farther than he ever has before in taking on his successor.

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Updated

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama went high.

On the third night of the Democratic convention — a word that seems increasingly absurd to describe what is really just two hours of nightly programming from the DNC — the former president delivered a memorable speech that balanced torching the sitting president with assuring voters of the possibility of something better. All the while, he pulled back the historical view to 30,000 feet where it was possible to show voters the sweep of American history and remind them that the country, despite what he called “these dark times,” has faced bigger challenges than Trump.

But despite the optimistic strands, Obama did not minimize the threat he believes the country faces under President Donald Trump. “It is not a normal time,” he said at the top. “So tonight I want to talk as plainly as I can about the stakes in this election. Because what we do these next 76 days will echo through generations to come.”

As Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and John Kasich — three people with major ideological and personal differences between them — all made clear in their earlier speeches, the case against Trump is not about policy. The urgency that has united socialists, liberals, and conservatives featured this week is about something much more fundamental, something that is frankly difficult for political reporters who are used to litigating policy and political disputes between the two parties to convey in a way that seems unbiased.

Obama accused Trump of failing to “discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.” He essentially accused him of corruption and abuse of power, saying Trump had “no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends.” And he accused his successor of a dangerous form of narcissism when he said that Trump had “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

Obama then detoured to a positive case for Biden. But after some personal reflections on his capacity for empathy and how Biden made him a better president, Obama’s case for Biden (and Kamala Harris) became a case against Trump. Biden and Harris “actually care about every American” and they “care deeply about this democracy,” and that “the right to vote is sacred,” and “that no one including the president is above the law and that no public official, including the president, should use their office to enrich themselves or their supporters.”

There was more. Biden would never “use the men and women of our military who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation as political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil.” He and Harris believe “political opponents aren’t un-American just because they disagree with you” and that “a free press isn’t the enemy.” They wouldn’t attack the pandemic by “just making stuff up.”

But, again, the main point — the reason that a former president who wanted to enjoy a cushier post-presidency of intellectual pursuits (starting with his memoir), international do-goodism, and hobnobbing on yachts with the likes of David Geffen broke the tradition of not pillorying his successor — is the certainty that Trump is doing nothing less than undermining the American system. “That’s what‘s at stake right now,” he said. “Our democracy.” If the point wasn’t clear, Obama gave his speech in Philadelphia before a blown-up picture of the Constitution.

“None of this should be controversial,” Obama said, with the characteristic exasperation he exhibits when he can’t believe that others don’t see something that is so blindingly obvious to him. “These shouldn’t be Republican principles or Democratic principles. They are American principles. But at this moment, this president and those who enable him have shown they don’t believe in these things.”

Of course, that’s the big obstacle the Biden convention faces this week: the blinding obviousness of the Trump threat as Democrats see it is not shared by roughly half the country and 90 percent of Republican officeholders. Not only is it not shared by them, but it is passionately denied. The president himself has invented an entire counter-narrative that Obama is a criminal — guilty of ”treason” — who masterminded a fraudulent Russia investigation to kneecap his administration from its earliest days.

In a previous era, Obama would have spent some time trying to talk to those on the other side who believed such things. But it’s no longer 2004, when Obama became famous for arguing that the blue/red divide was a fiction invented by pundits. “I know that in times as polarized as these, most of you have already made up your mind,” he conceded.

His pitch was to those on the fence, Americans “still not sure which candidate you will vote for or whether you will vote at all.” He tried to empathize with these Americans and cast them as essentially people who have given up on democracy: a white factory worker with stagnant wages, a Black mom who believes the government “never looked out for her at all,” a new immigrant who wonders “whether there is still a place for him here,” and a cynical young person turned off from politics because of “the circus of it all, the meanness and the lies and conspiracy theories.” His point was that democracy can’t be taken away, but it can be given away when enough voters are encouraged to opt out of the system.

Before he was a U.S. senator from Illinois, Obama was a lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago. His view of American history is that the Constitution was an imperfect document that excluded most Americans from citizenship and yet still gave future generations the best system to fix the original document’s deficiencies, and that progress is the story of our country.

He closed by retelling that history — the fights for abolition, and labor rights, and religious equality — and reminding voters that however bad things seem now, there is always the chance for renewal.

“If anyone had a right to believe that this democracy did not work and could not work, it was those Americans, our ancestors,” Obama said. “They were on the receiving end of a democracy that had fallen short all their lives. They knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from them then. And, yet, instead of giving up, they joined together and they said somehow, some way we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words in our founding documents to life.”

In most Obama speeches that tell the story of American progress and how we have always worked to live up to the promise of our founding documents, he seems optimistic and confident that that history will continue. In Wednesday’s speech the question of whether America will get this right this time — at least in his view — seemed uncertain.

This is the same uncertainty Obama has been wrestling with since Trump was elected. According to one of his adviser’s memoirs, in late 2016 Obama’s confidence in his understanding of the American mood was shaken by Trump’s victory.

Since then, Democrats have regained a lot of political turf, mostly in 2018. But after Trump’s victory, Obama turned to his aides and asked a question that still hangs over the 2020 campaign.

“What,” he wondered, “if we were wrong?”





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