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Barry Bonds is the G.O.A.T. and That’s the End of That

A lot goes into the “greatest at an individual sport” discussions. And in a lot of arguments people will only look to use certain “numbers” or “accolades” to help justify their case. Well, here at Clocker Sports and especially this devoted baseball fanatic. I like to take everything into consideration and when we are talking about the legends of the game, regardless of sport people do not talk enough about the stories.

The moments where these unique athletes shift the whole making of the game to where it is truly different for them. Michael Jordan and his unique competitiveness is an example. The stories of him shooting 18 holes and betting his buddy that day that he will drop 40 on the Cavaliers are the things of actual Legends. Barry Bonds is no different. But if you need to be reminded of his greatness let’s take a look at his accolades first.

The G.O.A.T.’s Name is Barry Bonds

The Accolades

Bonds is a 14 time all star, 12 time silver slugger, Two time batting champion, Seven time MVP (most of all time) and especially in today’s game where scouts and evaluators only seem to care about being able to produce offensively. Bonds is an 8 time Gold Glover. He is the all time home run leader and the only member of the 500/500 club which is home runs and stolen bases respectively. Yes do not worry old school baseball fan, we know what you are going to say next.

“But he did steroids.”

Yes you are right, but guess what? remember when baseball was dying as a sport? and no one seemed to care. Then there was this magical summer in 1998 where it was reborn? yeah they all did steroids and guess what? I do not care. When I pay for a ticket to a game, I want to go see the ball fly out of the park. That is the beauty of baseball. David Wells has come out and suggested that “25-40 Percent” of Major Leaguers are using them and Jose Canseco claims at least “80 percent” of players were using them.

Also Steroids help with your recovery, they do not help you hit a baseball. Sure, they help you work out longer and stronger due to being able to recover quicker but none the less. The ability to turn on an 99 mile per hour fastball is still all Bonds and his natural skill which before he had taken steroids was already on par with the hall of fame.

Another benefit of steroids is that as a spectator you will get the most optimal Barry Bonds or whatever player you were watching possible. Yes the hard earned money you work for and complain about how little it is. You will now get to see the best performance possible. Which is what we all want. Now let us dive into the numbers.

The Statistics

Barry Bonds numbers are just plain and simply gaudy. He has the most home runs at 763. He is 6th all time in runs batted in. He is Third in all time OPS (On Base plus Slugging) and for you sabermetrics people he is number one in WAR rating for position players. Bonds’ OBP is sixth all time and the five players above him all played before 1960. Which we all know the competition was weaker back then. In an era which was clouded by steroid use. Bonds shined statistically. He set the all time single season record in 2001 with 73 bombs and leaving everyone in shock.

If you have been paying attention to baseball recently you will know that on base percentage is all of the rage. Well in the last decade there are only three players to reach base more than 45 percent of the time. Barry Bonds accomplished that feat nine times. He also had a year where he reached base over 60 percent of the time (.609 in 2004) he also eclipsed the 50 percent mark 4 times.

he man just got on base and that was mostly due to being walked because pitchers did not want to even deal with him at the plate. I am going to explain more about that in the next part of this article. None the less Barry Bonds put up the numbers to defend his rightful place as the greatest of all time.

The Stories that are told

Last, but not least the stories. Now this is the portion I believe puts you over the top. Like Jordan in basketball, Bonds has some stories that would make you scratch your head. There was a game in 1998 where the Arizona Diamondbacks were playing the San Fransisco Giants, and Bonds came up to the plate with the bases loaded and the Diamondbacks thought it was a better idea to give up one run instead of 2 or more, and intentionally walked Bonds with the bases loaded. Now the Diamondbacks were correct. They won the game 8-7 after forcing the man behind Bonds to hit.

Another instance happened in 2004 against Eric Gagne (Another well known steroid user) faced off against Bonds with 3-0 leading. Rewind a little bit back in time where Gagne and Bonds had a gentleman’s agreement about facing each other. Bonds complained that no one wanted to face him and he was not wrong. Gagne gave his stipulations and said he would face Bonds if the correct situation ever arose. Well in 2004 it did. Gagne Blew Two heaters over 100 miles per hour and Bonds took them like. Down 0-2, Bonds holds off on an off speed pitch that could not have missed the zone by more than a centimeter.

Bonds now knew what was coming. Bonds was then early on 101 mile per hour fastball on the inside zone and yanked it foul into McCovey Cove. Gagne then comes back with the fastball and Bonds squares it up for another signature majestic Barry Bonds bomb. Bonds was one of the most cerebral minds in the game. He knew how to put the pitchers in compromising positions in which they would have to pitch him and he made them pay.

A G.O.A.T. Named Bonds

During his career Bonds was one of the most feared hitters in the game. Like I mentioned above, Bonds was walked with the base loaded by choice. Even though he never won a title, I really do not hold that against him because baseball is all about timing and if you are up to the moments when duty calls upon you. Do not make no mistake about it. Bonds put on a show in the 2002 post season where he hit Eight Home Runs and and half of them came in the World Series.

He may appear tainted but Bonds was the best among those in his era (who were also on steroids) which gives him his rightful spot in the greatest of all time debate.

 

With Friends Like James Harden, Who Needs Enemies?

Polarizing is a word that fittingly describes the kind of player James Harden is. Some view his style of play as innovative and unique; a skill set he has honed through practicing tough shots and understanding the rule book. Others would call it a detriment to the game. An abuse of poorly written and unevenly called rules. The amount of discussion coming from either side, though, shows just how high of a profile Harden has.

So with news breaking on Wednesday that the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards had agreed to swap star point guards Russell Westbrook and John Wall. It’s been reported that Harden and Wall have worked out and played in open runs together for some time now. The move has received all sorts of reactions, just like anything else Harden does.

Harden Running Out of Friends to Help Him

Okay, But Why?

Some say this is a move designed to keep Harden interested in staying in Houston after their recent attempts to get over the hump in the postseason have all fallen short. We can go back to the Dwight Howard experiment but let’s instead focus on Chris Paul’s time in H-Town. After much consternation about how they would coexist being as ball-dominant as they are they worked well enough for folks to hypothesize that if Paul doesn’t get hurt the Rockets might make some noise.

Well, Paul got shipped out after two seasons, one of which they lost to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in seven games. Injuries had always been a part of Paul’s history so an injury possibly derailing a playoff run is plausible. When Harden told reporters after they got bounced in 2018 that he knew what had to be done, the writing was on the wall.

Houston shocked the world again making another trade for what most considered an unmovable contract when they swapped CP3 for Russell Westbrook. After failing to click with the Point God, Harden now had his childhood friend for a running-mate. Unfortunately, Westbrook’s style caused the Rockets to change up their roster, going with a small-ball approach that had the tallest person on the floor for them often standing no taller than 6-foot-7. That ended with a five-game series loss in the second round, again to the eventual champion, this time in the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, even with Daryl Morey no longer in the fold, the Rockets have swapped unmovable contracts in a move that is receiving mixed reviews. Some argue the Rockets won because on top of keeping Harden happy, they get rid of Westbrook whose style isn’t conducive to winning. Others will argue the Wizards won because of the off-the-court issues Wall has had as well as the complicated relationship with (and reaction to the team building around) Bradley Beal. Oh, and Wall, who hasn’t played since the 2018-19 season, is returning from serious injuries including a torn Achilles.

Same Difference

The tale of the tape is quite interesting. Wall is the bigger of the two and has the higher assist average. This is more than a little surprising given Westbrook’s three-year run of averaging a triple-double. But Wall had a three-year stretch where he averaged better than 10 dimes per game. The difference is Wall has never been the kind of shot-seeking scorer that Westbrook is.

Brodie has eight seasons (out of 12) averaging greater than 18 shots per contest. Wall, aptly nicknamed ‘Optimus Dime’, has but one. Westbrook is the more voluminous scorer too, but Wall takes the efficiency advantage everywhere but at the free throw line.

Perhaps ideally, in the mind of Harden and Rockets brass, is that Wall can be a happy medium between Westbrook’s explosiveness (a nice compliment to Harden’s lull-you-to-sleep style) and Paul’s pass-first mentality. That is if he is happy and focused. Going to a competitive situation in Houston after being in the tumultuous one in Washington will help. As will the singing of Demarcus Cousins; a friend of Wall’s going back to their day at the University of Kentucky.

We’re all missing the forest for the trees, though. It doesn’t matter if this will work for the Rockets (it won’t). Nor does it matter who won the trade (the blogosphere). No, what matters here is that Harden has cycled through a fair amount of friends for teammates and hasn’t figured out the right fit yet. At some point the question needs to be asked if building around him is worth it.

The Real Culprit

This isn’t an attack on his playing style, either, outside of his willingness to be complimentary. There aren’t many, if any, situations where Harden would be a second option but he could still benefit from being a better compliment on the floor to his team. Instead of standing in the corner watching the action when off the ball, become a better, more active cutter. Instead of dribbling out the shot clock on every possession, allow yourself to be more of a part of a system that get more guys involved.

Yes, star players are supposed to touch and shoot the ball more. Harden’s 36.3 usage rate in 2019-20 is second only to Michael Jordan’s ‘86-’87 season (38.3) in NBA history. With nowhere close to the hardware as ‘His Airness’, and a history of fading in the postseason, that number could stand to drop even if only a little bit. The last player to win a championship with a usage rate in the 30s was LeBron James in 2012-13 with the Miami Heat. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, two of the most efficient scorers in NBA history, haven’t even done it.

It’s a big deal that the Rockets and Wizards pulled this trade off. We just need to recognize what the real story is here: Harden is the problem, not his teammates. At some point, it is no longer everybody else, it’s you. We are seeing this response to Paul George who is implicated in reports of dysfunction in the Los Angeles Clippers organization and now taking thinly-veiled shots at former coach Doc Rivers.

Harden’s passing of the buck isn’t as blatant as George’s was. But, even with the statements before the CP3 trade, the constant cycling of supporting cast speaks volumes. Talking heads have just overlooked it because the Rockets keep putting together intriguing groups. This time though, with a move that might be best described as lateral, we might be reaching the end of this case study. It’s been theorized that the Wall and Cousins moves are independent of a decision to move Harden, though that seems unlikely.

Rough Being Friends with Harden

We saw Harden slapping Paul’s hand away on the sidelines and read the reports that Harden and Westbrook had bumped heads on occasion. These incidents get viewed through the lens of isolated incidents or as the fault of the other guy. Maybe rightfully so, none of the aforementioned teammates were choirboys. But the common denominator, and dominator of the situation, is James Harden. As a player who has been vocal about his scoring accolades, he needs to be a leader and own up to and adjust his ways.

Unless, of course, he truly doesn’t care about winning

Week 13 Primetime Moneymakers: Four the Win

A week after having the primetime schedule extended into Wednesday we will do so again in an attempt to get back on track. Week 12’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens took so long to be played that their matchups this week have been pushed back in response. Pittsburgh will play the Washington Football Team on Monday at 5:00 PM ET; technically not in primetime but the unique time lands it on the list. Baltimore will face the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday 8:05 PM ET.

Sitting at 9-14 after a pair of brutal weeks, we finally hit it big going 3-0. We nailed Bears-Packers outright but only got Seahawks-Eagles and Steelers-Ravens covers because the spread changed. So what, we’ll take it at this point. The record now sits at 12-14 with a chance to go above .500 on the year for the first time. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster of bad beats but there’s still money to be made. If anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us!

Picking Four to Win in Week 13 Primetime Moneymakers

Denver Broncos (4-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)

Spread: Chiefs -14

O/U: 51

Drew Lock should be back under center for the Denver Broncos (6-5 ATS) after they had to face the New Orleans Saints with practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton, a converted college quarterback. It did not go well as they lost 31-3. The Broncos average 22.7 PPG in Lock’s seven starts this season and will need every bit of it with their opponent this week. Defensively they rank 10th in DVOA, per Football Outsiders, and seventh in sacks. That’s a testament to the job head coach Vic Fangio has done without Von Miller this season.

If ‘unbothered’ was a person, that person would be Patrick Mahomes. Undaunted by the reputation of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense (which was largely overblown anyway), he and the Kansas City Chiefs (6-5 ATS) put up 27 fairly easy points on them and held off a late rally to reach double-digit wins for the sixth season in a row and seventh in eight years under Andy Reid (they won nine games the other year).

Perhaps in some alternate universe Lock is developed enough and Miller and Courtland Sutton are healthy so the Broncos can keep up with the Chiefs. In this reality, though, he and the rest of the offense aren’t equipped to take advantage of a Chiefs defense that ranks 17th in DVOA and has just 20 sacks on the season. Good luck to that secondary containing Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce,Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, and Mecole Hardman. No secondary is that deep. Take the Chiefs but just moneyline. For some reason 14 points feels like too many to lay against a divisional opponent even with such a lopsided matchup.

Washington Football Team (4-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0)

Spread: Steelers -10

O/U: 42.5

The Washington Football Team (6-5 ATS) have had a surprisingly competitive season. And that’s not just because they play in the worst division in professional football which means they still have a chance to host a playoff game. It’s also because their defense is ranked fifth in DVOA despite the offense being 27th and 24th in scoring. Alex Smith has led the Football Team to back-to-back wins but has just three touchdowns to five interceptions.

By now the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3 ATS) have to be tired of COVID as much as anyone. On top of having their own problems with the virus, they have had their games moved twice already due to their opponents handling of it. Still, they are undefeated and coming off a disappointing win (per Mike Tomlin) against a depleted division rival. Can their offense (sixth in scoring, 15th in DVOA) take a break and ride the defense (first in scoring and DVOA) to another win?

Some might be questioning the validity of Pittsburgh’s record after watching Ben Roethlisberger and co. struggle against Baltimore but that’s just how those games go. Washington will need them to play as sloppily as they did in Week 12 to have a shot because a shootout guarantees a Steelers victory. Barring that this will make it 12 wins for Tomlin’s team but maybe not by the double-digit margin predicted. The quick turnaround might lead the Steelers to run more with guys still missing in action and that would be just fine with the Football Team. Steelers moneyline seems best as does the under.

Buffalo Bills (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (5-6)

Spread: 49ers +1

O/U: 48

If it seems like the Buffalo Bills (6-5 ATS) aren’t losing much lately it’s because they aren’t. Since back-to-back losses to the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs they have gone 4-1 with a huge win over the Seattle Seahawks included. Buffalo, led by Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, is 10th in scoring offense and eighth in offense DVOA despite not having a ground game worth mentioning. Being so one-dimensional can be detrimental to any team, especially when your defense is 16th in DVOA and 18th in scoring.

Don’t look now, but the San Francisco 49ers (5-6 ATS) find themselve very much in the playoff hunt despite all of the games they’ve lost to injury this year. They’ve gotten some key players back in recent weeks including Richard Sherman and Raheem Mostert so maybe they can start stringing wins together. They still rank ninth in defense DVOA but are just 19th offensively. Jimmy Garoppolo (and likely George Kittle) won’t be walking through that door and Nick Mullens caps this team’s ceiling.

Location, location, location. The 49ers might appreciate the change of venue for this one since they’ve allowed 15 touchdowns at home compared to just 10 on the road. Their offense has also scored more on the road. Buffalo sees a drop in their offensive scoring, mostly in rushing scores. But their defense actually improves away from Bills Stadium. Additionally, even though it’s a small spread it’s worth mentioning the 49ers haven’t covered the spread in any game they haven’t won outright this season and that isn’t to be expected here. Take Buffalo and don’t be shocked to see over hit even with San Francisco so undermanned.

Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Check back soon once the line is set for this game to get the pick!

Week 13 Waiver Wire: ’13’ Reasons Why

What a wild NFL season this has been, in both real life and fantasy. We saw huge games from Will Fuller and Antonio Gibson on Thanksgiving only to have Tyreek Hill and Derrick Henry assert their dominance over the landscape. And while we were without Todd Gurley, Julio Jones, and (many) more, no fantasy-relevant players sustained injuries that should keep them out for an extended period.

We aren’t even done with Week 12 since the Baltimore Ravens game against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been moved several times and is now set for Wednesday afternoon. This week’s waiver wire has at least one QB you probably never thought would be a top add, a running back that’s been there the entire time, and a wide receiver that recently returned from injury to make an impact in primetime.

*Remember, waivers will clear on Friday this week and we have the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on bye (the last of the season).*

A Pair of ’13’s Headline the Week 13 Waiver Wire

Quarterback

Kirk Cousins

Minnesota Vikings

This wouldn’t have been a thing just a few weeks ago. Kirk Cousins was the QB25 on the season with 12 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Flash forward to now and Cousins was the QB3 in Week 12, is the QB12 on the season, and is coming off of back-to-back three-touchdown performances and third in four games. It was his fourth-straight game (a stretch in which he was the QB5) and eighth of the season with multiple touchdowns. All of this is even more impressive when you consider Dalvin Cook is second in the league in rushing attempts.

Cousins draws a cushy assignment in Week 13 as the Minnesota Vikings host the floundering Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags just fired their general manager and head coach Doug Marrone will likely follow after the season. But what matters for our purposes is Jacksonville is allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and has given up 23 passing touchdowns, good for second-most. The only thing that could hold Cousins back in this one is if the Vikings get out to a lead large enough that they just ride the running game, leaving fantasy managers to hope his current touchdown explosion lasts at least another week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Miami Dolphins

FitzMagic is back, baby! After taking a brief hiatus while Tua Tagovailoa kept his spot warm, Ryan Fitzpatrick was back under center for the Miami Dolphins in Week 12 and led them to a 23-3 victory over the winless New York Jets. He had a modest day, just 257 yards and two touchdowns, but that was good enough to check in as the QB8 through Monday Night Football. In six starts earlier in the year, Fitzpatrick threw for over 1500 yards with 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions (four if you throw out Week 1) and was the QB8.

Truth is Fitzpatrick will start for as long as it takes for Tua’s injured thumb to heal. That should be at least another game and that sets Fitz up to face the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy is 17th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks but have tied for the third-most passing touchdowns allowed with 22. Miami has thrown more than twice as many touchdowns (18) as they have run in (8). The only concern here, as with Cousins, is the Dolphins (who rank second in scoring defense) get out to such a lead you’re left counting solely on touchdowns.

Running Back

Ito Smith

Atlanta Falcons

We probably should have seen this coming. It’s just how 2020 has gone. When it was announced Gurley would miss Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, everyone assumed it would be Brian Hill, who had been spelling Gurley all season, to step into the lead role. Instead, Ito Smith came off the bench to take his 12 carries for 65 yards and a score and ranking as the RB10. Hill, who has out-carried Smith 3-to-1 on the season, took his 13 carries for 55 yards and former out-snapped the latter 39-28.

Smith out-targeted Hill 4-to-1 if you need another way to separate the two given how volatile touchdowns are. Atlanta faces the New Orleans Saints for the second time in three weeks and if Gurley misses another game, Smith needs to be the backfield option you deploy. The Saints are fourth against the run and have given up just three touchdowns on the ground. They’re fifth defending passes to backs too so it will be tough sledding either way. Smith has the easier path to fantasy relevance, albeit ever so slight.

Cam Akers

Los Angeles Rams

We are entering troubling waters, my friends. Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers has received no more than 10 carries since getting 14 in the opener. He has just two games with 40-plus yards and has just one rushing touchdown. He is far and away third in snaps out of the backfield behind both Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown with a less defined role than either. But he keeps popping off for long runs, including the 61-yard scamper that set up his first rushing touchdown of the season on Sunday. He sits ranked as the RB16 (pending Wednesday’s results) in Week 12.

The Rams face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13 but trusting Akers in lineups is quite the risky proposition. Sunday was literally his first time finishing with double-digit fantasy points. No, this is a move for the future. L.A. has talked of wanting to increase Akers’ workload as the season goes on. Don’t be fooled by Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers deter you, this offense is still seventh in rushing attempts. Imagine what Akers could do with a larger share of the workload.

Handcuffs

Another week, another reminder that if your stud running back’s backup is sitting out there on the waiver wire you should change that. Unless you are ridiculously deep at running back you need this insurance. Just ask fantasy managers of Christian McCaffrey or Joe Mixon who missed out on Mike Davis and Giovani Bernard if they wish they had been proactive in this regard. This obviously doesn’t apply universally.

Hill is the best example of misreading the room. But in situations like Minnesota where Alexander Mattison is the clear backup to Dalvin Cook or in New Orleans where Latavius Murray has just seven fewer carries and 34 fewer yards than Alvin Kamara even though both have been active all season. Some other names to check the wire for are Devontae Booker, Jamaal Williams, and Boston Scott. These players have more value if you have the starter in front of them but if you have the bench space it’s not a bad idea to use it on a lottery ticket.

Wide Receivers

Gabriel Davis

Buffalo Bills

This was a situation similar to Hill’s as everyone assumed Cole Beasley would see an uptick in work for the Buffalo Bills with John Brown missing time. But Gabriel Davis caught three balls for 79 yards and a score, reverting back to his form of a couple of weeks ago when he caught four passes for 70 yards and a score. It was Davis’ fourth game this season with double-digit (PPR) fantasy points and has him as WR19 as of now but, again, it was second in three weeks.

The Bills take on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 13 but it’s more of a neutral site game as the 49ers cannot play their home games at home and will thus host in Arizona. Who knows what impact that has but Richard Sherman’s return to the 49ers defense helped them keep the Rams in check. Something similar could happen to the Bills but Davis has the benefit of not being Stefon Diggs in that he won’t be the focal point of the defense.

Allen Lazard

Green Bay Packers

Just two weeks back from his core muscle injury that knocked him out for seven games Allen Lazard found the endzone against the division-rival Chicago Bears catching four of his six targets for 23 yards. Don’t get hung up on the yardage output. Despite being woeful for the last month-plus, the Bears defense is still fifth in yards allowed to receivers. Lazard had 18-plus PPR fantasy points in two of his three contests before getting hurt including a six-catch, 146-yard performance that saw him finish as the WR6.

The Green Bay Packers take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13 and we all just saw that secondary get torched by D.K. Metcalf to the tune of 10 catches for 177 yards. This despite shadowing him with top-corner Darius Slay. Davante Adams resides comfortably atop the pecking order for the Packers but Lazard was making headway as the trusted second banana before going down. He could get back to it right in time for the playoffs.

Mohamed Sanu

Detroit Lions

We are playing with fire with this suggestion. There was already a good chance the Detroit Lions would get Kenny Golladay back from a lingering hip injury next week against the Bears. It’s probably all but a given after the Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia. If he does miss, though, Mohamed Sanu filled his role quite capably. Sanu corralled all four of his targets for just 32 yards but he managed to find the endzone. He’s the WR25 ahead of Wednesday.

The dangers are two-fold because Chicago is a tough assignment for receivers and Golladay, itching to prove it was Patricia holding this group back, could find his way back into the lineup. So put in a claim for Sanu at your own risk. It could wind up that those things work together and the Lions hold Golladay out another week so as not to face such a tough opponent fresh off of injury.

Tight End

Kyle Rudolph

Minnesota Vikings

This week’s contestant on “just fall into the end zone”, formally known as the tight end position. We have actually had a good run of suggestions so let’s hope we can keep it going with Kyle Rudolph. He’s the TE8 in Week 12 with seven catches and 68 yards. All of those numbers represent season-highs as Rudolph has lost much of his receiving work in recent years and has ceded even more to Irv Smith this season.

Minnesota faces those Jaguars in Week 13 though. We can attack this matchup with as much fervor as Cousins as Jacksonville ranks 31st in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. They also lead the league in touchdowns allowed to tight ends with nine. Now, Rudolph doesn’t catch many touchdowns, he has just one on the year. But the name of the game is finding a warm body with a chance at falling into six points.