Friday's List of 13:
Random thoughts with the weekend here.....
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-- Terry Francona won his return to Fenway; Indians trounced Boston 12-3 with Carlos Santana walking four times- his OB% is .420.
-- Detroit came from behind to beat the Twins 7-6, handing Minnesota its ninth loss in a row; Ron Gardenhire is the next manager to get fired.
-- Joe Blanton won his first game in nine starts as Angels handed Kansas City its 13th loss in last 17 games, 5-4.
-- Orioles have used 11 starting pitchers in their first 47 games.
-- Blackhawks lost 2-0 in Detroit, now trail that series 3-1. Red Wings are getting hot at the right time, the way the Kings did last year.
-- Home side won again in San Jose-LA series; Kings win 3-0, now lead 3-2 as series heads back to the Shark Tank.
Quote of the Day
"I tried to keep my emotions inside. I didn't want to
be the main focus. You want to let the players play."
Who did Shaquille O'Neal finish his NBA career with?
No one on the Washington Nationals can wear number 10, that number has been retired by the franchise, because Andre Dawson wore it when he was a great player for the Montreal Expos, who later became the Nationals.
Hockey great Bobby Orr led the Boston Bruins to two Stanley Cup titles, he finished his injury-shortened NHL career with the Blackhawks.
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Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here........
13) ESPN hired southern radio icon Paul Finebaum to be its daytime voice on the new SEC Network, whenever that debuts; Finebaum talks about college football about 364 days a year, and I’m not kidding.
He is a polarizing figure but if you’re going to have an SEC Network with a show simulcast on radio, he’s the guy they needed to sign.
12) Miguel Cabrera is really, really good; so far this year, he has 27 extra base hits, 23 walks, 25 strikeouts.
11) Major League baseball would be wise to copy the NHL’s replay system, where honchos in the league offices make the calls and take heat off the umpires; system would be quicker and more efficient.
Firing Angel Hernandez would also help, but that ain’t happening.
10) I’m thnking our country would be better off with President serving one 6-year term, rather than a maximum of two 4-year terms. Agree?
9) Another Presidential thought; the Electoral College has to go. How can someone get the most votes and lose? That could happen.
8) Perry’s chocolate chip ice cream is tremendously tremendous, thats my food endorsement for today.
7) Now that the Vikings are going back with an outdoor stadium, the Lions will be the only NFC North team with an indoor stadium. I’ll be curious to see how the league hands out those late season Detroit home games.
6) Miami Heat have lost three games since the Super Bowl, which was in early February. Makes the concept of them losing a best-of-7 series a little remote.
5) Speaking of which, NBA playoff series should be best-of-3, with all three games in the arena of the higher-seeded teams, the exception being series between 4-5 seeds, where the 5-seed would get one home game. Finals could be best-of-5, but best-of-7 series are tedious. The better team always wins, except in case of injury. Upsets are more interesting.
4) Diamondhead Classic basketball tournament in Hawai’I around Christmas: Akron, Boise State, George Mason, Hawai’I, Iowa State, Oregon State, St Mary’s, South Carolina. Not sure about this coming season, but would have been a hell of a tournament last year.
3) Red Sox won two World Series under Terry Francona; they're 97-113 since he left. Who fires a guy that won two World Series?
2) The drinking age in this country should be 18; you’re old enough to go to war, you’re old enough to have a beer.
1) Every high school basketball player should take a trip to see the Las Vegas Summer League in July, so you can see how many really, really good basketball players there are, who are fighting like hell just for the chance to get invited to an NBA training camp. Its extremely competitive!!!!
So instead of jerking around only playing AAU tournaments, work on your skills too, do the grunt work to make yourself better, then you’ll be more likely to excel when you play against other really good players.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.........
13) Big East basketball named Albany’s John Cahill as its supervisor of officials; he’s a good man, once ran for DA of Albany County. Big job in the first year of the new league- he’s one of the best officials in the country.
12) Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets had a 19.9% chance of getting the #1 pick in the draft, instead got the #4 pick, which may not be as bad a break as it usually would be. No real clear cut #1 pick this year, with Nerlens Noel out until Christmas with his knee injury.
11) Cleveland Cavaliers have the #1 pick, then three more in the top 33; will be interesting to see if all four picks make their roster, or if they make trades or select a foreign player for the future.
10) I think Georgetown’s Otto Porter will be a very good NBA player; think he’s been prepared properly, and has excellent fundamental skills.
9) Washington’s Adam LaRoche is a pretty good hitter, but he’s faced San Francisco’s lefty reliever Javier Lopez eight times, and struck out seven of them. Wednesday's flyout was his first fair ball against Lopez.
8) Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve dumped agent Scott Boras, who lost Robinson Cano as a client earlier this season. Boras’ family will still be able to eat and all, but losing clients isn’t a trend he’d like to see last very long.
7) ESPN just spent $77M on rights to the US Tennis Open for 11 years, but then they cut 250 staffers, mostly in their digital operations. It had been a while since ESPN laid people off.
6) They had 12 inches (a foot!!!) of rain in Bahamas Tuesday. Wow.
5) Baseball is cool because games take all different forms; there was a 17-inning game in the California League this week, where a SS pitched the last two innings, then hit a walk-off home run to win the game.
4) There was a 17-inning game in the SEC tournament, with Miss State beating Missouri; I’m a little surprised college baseball doesn’t get more play on TV, but it doesn’t until the NCAA tournament starts, which is next week, by the way. Extra inning baseball games are excellent.
3) Atlanta’s Evan Gattis has four home runs this year that tied the game or put the Braves ahead in the 8th inning or later; no one else in major leagues has more than two of those so far this season.
2) There is a bar in Adelaide, Australia with an American theme called Jack Ruby’s; Ruby is the guy who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, after Oswald shot JFK in Dallas in 1963. Weird name for a bar.
1) If you have a real need to know whether the roof at Miller Park is going to be open for a Brewers’ home game, call the Miller Park Roof Hotline, at 1-800-774-8587. Just thought you’d like to know.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a stormy night.........
13) When I was in Las Vegas, wasn’t happy about A’s getting hosed out of a game-tying HR because crew chief Angel Hernandez wouldn’t overturn an obvious error made by his umpiring crew. I wondered how Hernandez was a crew chief, since he doesn’t appear to be a very good umpire. Turns out he isn’t a crew chief; he was a temporary crew chief while Dana Demuth was on vacation that week. So that clears that up.
12) Pac-12 commish Larry Scott makes over $3M a year; that’s a lot of money to run an amateur sports organization. Its also very big business, I get that, and if I didn’t get it, Mr Scott’s salary sure hammered the point home.
11) Clayton Kershaw allowed three or less earned runs in his last 22 starts, longest such streak since Pedro Martinez had a 23-game streak in 1999-2000. No once bitches about Don Mattingly’s game management skills when Kershaw is on the hill.
10) Tony Romo had minor back surgery (is there such a thing?) and is out of action until training camp starts. I’m assuming that means golf, too.
9) I was driving on Everett Road in Albany a while back and stopped in the Red Cross facility there to donate some money, since they do so much good work, but the people there said they couldn’t take cash, you had to donate on your phone or online. You’d think they would have some mechanism to accept contributions in person.
8) Read Tuesday where some agents aren’t happy about the NFL Draft getting pushed back into May; will increase their expenses, since they front money for workout facilities and stuff like that. Somehow, I’m guessing they’ll figure a way around all that.
7) Supposedly the draft is being pushed back because Easter is late next year and it creates a conflict with Radio City Music Hall; wouldn’t that be a great chance for the league to move the draft around, the way the NHL does? The draft doesn’t have to be in Manhattan every year, does it?
6) Cleveland won the NBA Draft Lottery, which used to be the night we checked in with former Laker great Elgin Baylor every year, when he was running the Clippers; Clips have been in the lottery 22 times, more than any other team, so it figures they did something stupid on Lottery Night, the year they won 56 games, most in franchise history........
5) Clippers had their best regular season ever, 56-26, so of course they fired their coach, Vinny Del Negro.
Someone needs to tell these nitwits that at one time, Phil Jackson hadn't won a title and Pat Riley was a radio announcer until Jack McKinney fell off a bicycle and Riley got hired as an assistant coach, then got promoted to head coach because Magic Johnson got Paul Westhead fired.
Point is, everyone starts somewhere, and Del Negro didn't deserve this.
4) Barclay’s Arena in Brooklyn has this college basketball tournament for next fall: Pitt-Stanford-Houston-Texas Tech. Not exactly Final Four caliber, though Stanford is supposed to be much better next season, with a veteran cast returning.
3) There is a QB guru named George Whitfield who works with players in the offseason; he is said to be very, very good at improving skills. One of the things he does is have QBs pass while blindfolded. That would be an interesting feature for ESPN to pursue.
2) Michael Vick fumbled 32 times in his last 35 games, losing 10 of them; Chip Kelly showed him a different way for him to tuck the ball, so he wouldn’t fumble as much. No one did this with Vick before? He’s 32, for the love of God. We’ll see if it’ll help; for sure, the Eagles will be an interesting team to watch this fall.
1) Who gives a rat’s ass what Jim Boeheim thinks about the Knicks? Carmelo Anthony paid for his practice facility at Syracuse, so the coach has to defend his former star, what else is he going to say? Please be quiet.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but..........
13) Miguel Cabrera is a tremendous hitter; he’s on pace to knock in 181 runs (the all-time record is Hack Wilson’s 190, baseball’s most underrated milestone). He’s not exactly Brooks Robinson at 3B, but boy can he swing the bat.
12) Before Clayton Kershaw's complete game win Monday night, Dodger starting pitchers had been 0-3, 3.68 in their previous 13 road games; you’d think with that good an RA, they’d win a game or two, but the LA bullpen is 5-13 so far this year. $230 million doesn’t buy as much as it used to.
11) While we’re on this subject, if I own the Dodgers and I’m shelling out $230M for a ballclub, I want a top-flight manager, not Don Mattingly, who may or may not turn out to be good, but he is in no way experienced enough to be a top-flight skipper. His body of work so far says very average, not more, not less.
10) If I’m the Orioles and I have a big home series with the Bronx Bombers starting last night, an eyebrow gets raised when Toronto-Bronx game got rained out fairly early Sunday afternoon, which freed up CC Sabathia to pitch the opener of the Baltimore series.
Ballclubs have say-so on whether a game is started or not; once it starts, then its in the umpires’ hands. Big benefit to a banged-up Bronx team to delay games until later in the season, when more of their highly paid (currently injured) stars will be back in the lineup.
9) If you bet college football with 5Dimes, Alabama is -23.5 over Virginia Tech in the season opener; if you play with BetOnline, the Crimson Tide is -16. Pretty sizeable 7.5-point middle right there.
8) Indiana Pacers are first NBA team since ’94 Utah Jazz to make it to the conference finals with no players who were top 5 picks in NBA Draft.
7) All four teams still alive in the NBA playoffs finished in the top five in team defense. The Knicks were #17. Draw your own conclusions.
6) None of NBA’s Final Four was in the NBA before 1976; Spurs/Pacers are old ABA teams, Heat and Grizzlies were expansion teams. Spurs were originally known as the Dallas Chapparals.
5) Why do the Spurs-Grizzlies play two games before Heat-Pacers play one? TV dictates all this, so TV people must think Miami will make short work of the Pacers.
4) Giants' P Ryan Vogelsong broke finger on pitching hand Monday night and is out 6+ weeks; this was his first good start this season, too.
3) Guard Malik Smith, who scored 14.1 ppg under Richard Pitino at FIU LY, is following his coach to Minnesota and can play this coming season, since FIU is banned from the postseason because of poor academic performance under former coach Isiah Thomas. Bet the folks at ol’ FIU just love that one.
2) Sounds like the NFL Draft might get pushed back into mid-May starting next year. I have absolutely no opinion on this; whenever it is, I’ll watch it.
1) Under Florida law, if the person who won the $590M Powerball jackpot wanted to remain anonymous, he/she could not, since if someone asks, the law says the winner’s name must be disclosed, undoubtedly to lessen the chances of chicanery.
I’m developing a list of things I would do if I hit the lottery; when its finished, you’ll be the first to know.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend...........
13) We did some research this week, and posted a table on our baseball page about how many times each team scores in the first inning, home and away. Its under the daily baseball info-- hope it helps you.
12) Orioles lead major leagues, scoring in the 1st inning in 18 of 43 games; Mets/A's are worst, scoring in 1st inning in only nine games.
11) '02 Pirates were last team to start season 13-13 in save opportunities; Rangers got there last night.
10) In their first 41 games, seven different Mets have batted leadoff.
9) Indians got their seventh shutout of the season Sunday; they had six all of last season. Tribe has now won 17 of its last 21 games.
8) For those of us who care about such things, over is 30-25 in interleague play so far this season.
7) You could hear a conversation between shortstop and runner on second base in ninth inning of Tiger-Ranger game last night; where was the mike? In the base? On the ump? On one of the players?
6) In 1976, Frank Sinatra got an honorary degree from UNLV; Sunday, Las Vegas native/comedian Jimmy Kimmel got one.
5) Over the last 25 years, 16 QBs have won the Heisman Trophy. Only one has won a NFL playoff game: Tim Tebow.
4) Good grief; Pat Boone was once a big star, a singer who was famous for wearing white shoes; he had 38 top 40 hits, appeared in 12 movies. Now he's doing commercials on latenight TV for walk-in bathtubs. Yikes.
3) Seven weeks into baseball season, and my fantasy team adds a catcher who has one walk, 35 strikeouts this year. The Wellington Castillo era will be interesting; he swung at a 3-2 pitch Sunday that was two feet outside.
You don't want your fantasy guys playing on teams that platoon; John Jaso getting traded to the A's from Seattle hurt his production bigtime.
2) Miguel Cabrera swatted three home runs Sunday, but the Tigers lost 11-8 to the Rangers, and dropped three of four games in Arlington.
1) If the baseball playoffs started Monday, they'd look like this:
AL: Bronx-Cleveland-Texas. Wild Card: Red Sox-Tigers
NL: Atlanta-St Louis-Arizona. Wild Card: Pirates-Reds
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday...........
13) Some lucky human in Florida bought the winning Powerball ticket; hope it was one of your relatives. Hope the person changes his/her cellphone number as soon as they can, otherwise they'll wind up with new friends and new relatives they've never heard of. Guaranteed.
12) Pacers took 46 foul shots, Knicks 18 in Indiana's 106-99 win that KO's New York from the playoffs. JR Smith killed the Knicks with a dreadful shooting night (4-15)- its a victory for fans who like real basketball, as opposed to "clear out and watch two guys shoot" basketball-- Heroball.
11) Home teams are now 7-1 in second round of NHL playoffs after Red Wings upset Chicago 4-1; Sharks scored a power play goal in OT to beat the Kings 2-1. San Jose had a two-man advantage in OT, just before the winning goal was scored. The loss snaps LA's six-game winning streak.
10) Who is the major leagues' most durable player? Try Prince Fielder, with 385 consecutive games played; in his whole career, Fielder has been the DH only 22 times. He's highly productive and dependable.
9) Indians won 13 of their last 17 games after an 11-13 start.
8) In the playoffs so far, Indiana Pacers are +73 when George Hill is on the floor, -37 when he is on the bench.
7) Rays' pitcher Alex Cobb grew up in Vero Beach, FL and was often a batboy at Dodgers' spring training.
6) UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford (still feels weird typing that) has to pay New Mexico, his last employer, $625,000 as the settlement for him to break his contract with the Lobos.
5) OK, so Pauley Pavilion seats less than 14,000 people? For whatever reason, I always thought it was way bigger than that.
4) Why do the Mets insist on batting Ike Davis 4th? Its bad enough he still starts, but cleanup? He's pathetic; there are rumors the Mets will look at Daric Barton as a replacement if Davis gets sent down. Oakland DFA'd Barton Saturday, when Chris Young came off the DL.
3) Guess the weather in Toronto has been cruddy; Saturday was first time in 2013 they ran horse races on the turf course at Woodbine Park.
2) Let me get this straight; Charlotte Bobcats were once an expansion team in the NBA- they moved to New Orleans, and changed their name to Pelicans. The new team in Charlotte is called the Bobcats because their original owner's name is Bob, but he's gone now, so they want to become the Hornets.
Strange this is, at this late hour, it all makes sense.
1) Why isn't Greg Popovich our Olympic basketball coach? He's won four NBA titles, he went to US Air Force Academy, he is highly respected as a leader. Seems like he deserves a chance to do it.
DDLohaus handicaps the Preakness.........
Two weeks sure go by fast….and I bet the horses coming back after mixing it up over the Churchill Downs muck are wishing it went by slower….thus the rationale for my column.
We certainly got our money’s worth from Normandy Invasion in the Derby and his absence only strengthens my position; that race took a lot out of the horses that ran in it! Of the 20 horses entered only six are coming back this weekend in the 138th Preakness.
Orb ran a great race and is strictly the one to beat here. The Derby field was solid and the weather proved to me he is a gomer and I believe this is not a very strong field. The problem is there is no value in betting an even money horse. Those horses that are coming to Maryland from the Derby are sure to be weary AND really never had a shot in the race. The second, third and fourth place finishers are all passing and the newcomers weren’t in the Derby for a reason.
One caveat; Goldencents didn’t really do much running so maybe he bounces back here and gets brave on the front end and holds on for second. He showed more coming into the Derby and I am willing to give him a pass.
As I look at the field and try to come up with a wager I must admit that I am less than enthused and at a loss for how to make a worthwhile wager. I will be rooting for Orb so that we have a shot for a Triple Crown Winner in three weeks in New York.
After much consideration here is my one wager:
$20 Exacta Orb/Goldencents
Saturday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Other NBA owners have to be excited that the Kings sold for $535M; Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson can now go back to being doing mayorly things. The former NBA star worked his butt off to keep the Kings in town, and he has succeeded. Hope the voters appreciate his efforts and re-elect him.
12) Damn, Bernie Madoff’s victims lost a total of $65B, that’s billion, with a B. Where did all that money go?
Prison is too good for this evil bastard; they should let him loose on the street and let his victims have at him.
11) When Stephen Strasburg went eight innings at Petco Thursday, it was the first time in his big league career he threw eight innings in a game- that took me by surprise.
10) Syracuse is already making noise about wanting the ACC tournament in Madison Square Garden; wonder what Coach K and Roy Williams think about that?
Didn’t the Big East keep MSG as the site of its conference tournament? The ACC is Tobacco Road country; Orange alums better get used to it.
9) New Zealander Steven Adams, who will be a first round draft pick next month, has 17 siblings—17!!!!! No wonder he left Pitt after one year, although one more year would’ve helped his game thrive in the professional ranks.
8) Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel not only is out until at least December with a knee injury, he weighed in at 6-10, 206. Historically, skinny forwards haven’t fared that well in the NBA. Another kid who could’ve used some extra time to let his body mature and his knee heal, but if he’s a top-5 pick, $10M guaranteed is awful hard to turn down. Not sure Adams will get picked that high, but Noel will.
7) One of the underrated difficulties for Japanese baseball players coming over here are the long plane flights. Japan is a smaller country; the teams travel by train. A coast-to-coast plane trip takes some getting used to. Apparently Daisuke Matsuzaka had a real problem pitching on the first day after a long plane trip.
6) Atlanta Braves played 26 of their first 40 games on road, so they’ll have lot of home games coming up-- they got Jason Heyward (appendix) back this weekend, so they’re hopeful of putting a win streak together.
5) Twins pitcher Vance Worley once had a sneaker collection of around 400 pair that was worth $28-30,000; now he’s down to about half that, but he says the collection is still worth $20,000 or so. I have six pairs and haven’t bought a new pair since 2010.
4) 14-year old Guan Tianlang made cut at his first two PGA Tournaments, but he shot 70-77 this weekend and missed his first pro cut.
3) Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel threw out the first ball at Petco Thursday night, after shooting 79 at Pebble Beach earlier in the week; he seems to be getting around an awful lot. The sophomore-to-be at Texas A&M is playing in Marshall Faulk’s charity golf event this weekend; hope he’s not neglecting his football preparation—he’s going to be a marked man this fall.
2) “Always assume you’re being videotaped.” In this day and age, you just might be. If the mayor of Toronto had followed this advice, his life might be a whole lot simpler these days.
1) Dick Vitale hosted his gala for the V Foundation in Florida last night; the V Foundation has raised over $100 million over the last twenty years to combat cancer. Vitale is a tireless, enthusiastic worker for this cause and deserves a lot of credit for doing so much, even if at times, it seems like its all he ever talks about. It’s an important cause, so good for him.
Friday's List of 13: Random thoughts with weekend here......
13) Powerball tonight is worth over $550M, almost enough to buy the Sacramento Kings; I’ve never bought one of those tickets, don’t think I’m starting now. Wonder if its that much fun to be rich? Probably is.
12) 6-5 freshman Royce O’Neale scored 11 ppg for Denver last season; now he’s transferring to Baylor, as the trend of BCS schools poaching from mid-majors continues.
11) Whats up at Tulane? Yesterday we talked about their best player transferring to San Diego State; today, a seldom-used freshman transferred to Florida Gulf Coast. Green Wave is in the new AAC, which is really similar to Conference USA; too bad they won’t have as good a roster as they had LY.
10) Knicks took advantage of George Hill's absence (concussion) to beat Pacers by 10 and stay alive- they still trail Indiana 3-2. Game 6 is Saturday night at Conseco. Carmelo Anthony had 28 points but still shot under 50% (12-26) from floor- he took 28 shots, had zero assists. Great teammate.
9) Mets have played 13 series this year; for what its worth, over is 21-5 in the first two games of those series, 3-8-1 in all other games.
8) Media outlets were reporting the Atlanta Hawks (44-38 this season) were going to fire Larry Drew, but they've committed to Drew for one more season. Why would you fire a guy who had a winning record? Then again, the Clippers might fire Vinny Del Negro, and they were better than Atlanta. Coaching in the NBA has to be a crazy existence.
7) Other than Marlins/Astros, two glorified minor league teams, the Angels have the worst record in baseball, which is amazingly bad.
Plus, they’re paying most of Vernon Wells’ contract, and he’s doing way better in the Bronx than he ever did for the Halos.
6) Keegan Bradley shot a 60 Thursday, 26th PGA Tour pro since 1960 to shoot 59 or 60 in a tournament. Bradley is the only one of those 26 who shot a 60 with more than one bogey.
5) ESPNU is carrying the NBA Draft Combine this week; interesting to see what they put prospective draftees through. I’m looking forward to going to NBA Summer League at UNLV in mid-July; that’s always a fun couple of days to sit there and watch guys try to earn professional jobs, either in the NBA or overseas.
4) Why do the Mets keep batting Ike Davis cleanup? Why does Davis start? Why is he still in the major leagues? All fair Met-related questions. Even my 87-year old dad has turned on Davis, and he is very loyal Met fan.
3) Rockies led San Francisco 6-0 in 3rd inning, but lost 8-6, their 10th loss in a row to the defending world champs.
2) 41-year old Reid Ryan, Nolan Ryan's son, is new President of Houston Astros; you wonder if his father will eventually leave the Rangers and join his son in Houston.
1) Jeff Van Gundy took an indirect slap at Derrick Rose in first quarter of Spurs-Warriors last night, commending David Lee for playing while less than 100%, since he saw that his team was missing firepower. Van Gundy said it was selfless of Lee, which pretty much infers that he considers Rose to be selfish for sitting out until he feels he is 100% ready to go.
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a spring day.....
13) Tulane was improved on the basketball court this past winter, but when their move to the Big East fell apart, they had mass defections this spring. Green Wave’s best player, 6-8 Josh Davis (16 ppg, 11 rpg), has transferred to San Diego State and will be eligible to play this fall.
Good for Steve Fisher; not sure its good for college basketball.
12) In Stephen Strasburg’s eight starts, Nationals scored more than three runs once. Strasburg played college ball at San Diego State, is pitching at Petco tonight.
11) Tennessee poached the punter from Wyoming; Australian kid has to sit out a year, but he was #4 in MWC, #27 in country in punting LY and will help the Vols, who are rebuilding under yet another new coach, Butch Jones.
10) Harrison Barnes is first player in NBA history to score 25+ points in consecutive playoff games, when he had never scored 25+ in a regular season game. He's been better in the NBA than he ever was in college.
9) In six games since he got suspended during the Celtic series, JR Smith is shooting 27.2% (25-92) from the floor.
8) Eldrick Woods earned $7.8M on the golf course LY, $33M off it. Phil Mickelson actually earned more ($36M) than Woods off the course LY.
7) Long day in Baltimore Saturday; the first race at Pimlico is 10:45am; Preakness Stakes goes off around 6:20pm.
6) Bad news for the Rays: David Price left his start last night with a triceps issue; team started Wednesday wth a six-game win streak, ended it with a crisis on its hands. .
5) 38-year old Jamey Wright replaced Price; he has gone to spring training as a non-roster invitee the last six years, and made the major league roster all six times, which is really hard to do.
4) Jets brought David Garrard in to be one of their QBs this season, so of course he retired, because the Jets are dysfunctional. This pretty much guarantees that Mark Sanchez stays with the Jets and creates a controversy as to when rookie Geno Smith gets his shot at running their offense.
3) Home teams are 3-0 in second round of NHL playoffs after Chicago beat the Red Wings 4-1. Last second round series gets underway tonight with the Rangers visiting Boston.
2) Grizzlies dumped Oklahoma City out of the NBA playoffs with an 88-84 win, ending the series in five games, and turning the James Harden trade into a disaster for the Thunder. Once Russell Westbrook went down, OC was lost for a consistent second scoring option.
1) What does the NBA have against Seattle? League moved the Sonics out of there, because they wouldn't build a new arena (they had a perfectly fine 15-year old arena, didn't need a new one) and now the NBA won't let the Sacramento Kings move to Seattle. Doesn't make a lot of sense.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) If you want to bet next February's Super Bowl, the AFC is favored by a point, with a total of 51. Yes, you can bet on it today, if you like.
12) Carmelo Anthony was 9-23, JR Smith 9-22 in Knicks' dreadful 93-82 loss to Indiana; Smith's recent play doesn't justify his taking 22 shots, many of which were wide-open, quality shots that he just didn't make.
11) San Antonio held Curry/Thompson to 6-22 from the floor in Spurs' easy 109-91 win in Game 5 of that series; Mark Jackson is a young coach, at some point, he may regret calling his guards "....the best shooting backcourt ever." It seemed to motivate the Spurs.
10) Home teams won both Game 1's in NHL's second round, as Penguins, Kings posted wins Tuesday night. LA handed the Sharks their first loss this postseason with a 2-0 decision at Staples Center.
9) Pretty cool video of Michigan football coach Brady Hoke poking fun at Notre Dame for ending their rivalry with the Wolverines. We don't get to see that side of coaches very often.
8) Speaking of which, college football magazines will be out in 2-3 weeks and then we'll start getting down to serious work. I'm back from my vacation tonight and its time to pick up the pace of our research.
7) Miguel Cabrera is hitting .375, with 41 RBI in 37 games. Ike Davis is he Mets' cleanup hitter most days; he's hitting .169 with nine RBI. Mets have also used six different leadoff hitters in their first 36 games.
6) A's had runners on 1st and 2nd and one out in close game Tuesday; while the Texas pitching coach visited the mound, Oakland pinch-ran for both baserunners at same time, in effect making a double switch in the lineup. Pretty sure I've never seen that before. Interesting strategy.
5) Barry Zito has allowed 23 runs in 12 IP in three road starts; he's allowed two runs in 33 IP in five home starts. Go figure.
4) Buffalo Bills' GM Buddy Nix quits now? Why? There's more to this than meets the eye. Not good for the Bills at all- Buffalo was 16-32 in his tenure, but you'd think they'd switch GMs before the draft.
3) Hard to believe the Jets would just cut Mark Sanchez, but this is a strange world, and weirder things than that have happened.
2) #1 high school basketball recruit Andrew Wiggins declared for the Kansas Jayhawks, which caused the Jayhawks to drop from 25-1 to 10-1 to win the national title in Dallas next April.
1) You sit in an airport terminal waiting to fly home, some nitwit makes 10-12 calls on his cellphone and by the time I get on the plane, I know more about his life than I do about most of my relatives. Its all a little strange.....lol
Tuesday's List of 13: My 13-man all-time NBA team..........
C-- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-- The most dominating player of all time, if you count his high school and college career, when he almost never lost.
C-- Wilt Chamberlain-- Went to college on a track scholarship, thats how great an athlete he was.
C-- Hakeem Olajuwon-- Won two NBA titles while Jordan was "retired".
F-- Bill Russell-- Great defender, has more rings than fingers.
Lebron James-- His legend is still growing, everywhere but Cleveland.
F-- Rick Barry-- Most underappreciated great player of all time.
F-- Larry Bird-- Also led Indiana State to a national title game.
F-- Tim Duncan-- Four NBA titles in San Antonio, not bad.
G-- Michael Jordan-- Hard to believe he was the third pick in the draft.
Earvin Johnson-- Great PG, but could play any of the five positions.
G-- Oscar Robertson-- Won title in Milwaukee, played best ball in Cincinnati with the Royals.
G-- Jerry West-- Hall of Fame player, maybe best executive ever, too.
G-- Kobe Bryant-- Still going strong in his late 30's.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.........
13) Stuff like this makes NHL seem bush league; two teams down 3-2 win Game 6's on Sunday, and they have to play Game 7 on Monday? What imbecile thought this was a good idea?
12) To make matters worse, the Bruins' plane had a mechanical failure, so the team had to stay in Toronto overnight and will travel home the day of a Game 7. Conspiracy theorists can now begin; did an overly-avid Leafs' fan mess with the Boston plane? Stranger things have happened.
11) Sergio Garcia was tied for the lead at the PLAYERS Championship, then went all Tin Cup and played the last two holes in +6, hitting two balls in the water on the famous 17th hole. Not his finest moment.
10) Cubs gave 1B Anthony Rizzo a 7-year contract worth $41M; pretty big leap of faith on what Rizzo has done in his first 604 ABs (142 K's, 25 HRs, 85 RBI, .770 OPS). At least Mr Ricketts is spending money.
9) It is an honor to listen to Hubie Brown broadcast NBA games, its a lot like attending a basketball seminar. I was lucky enough to meet Coach Brown once when he coached the Knicks. Very intense about basketball, good guy.
Seriously, friend of mine and I watched a Knick walk-through at Glens Falls Civic Center before a preseason game; we were sitting on the end of the bench, like we belonged there. Knicks played the Bulls that night; Chicago had a pretty good rookie that year, kid named Michael Jordan. Fun stuff.
8) Home side won all six games in the Ranger-Washington series; Rangers scored 0 or 1 goal in four of the six games and are still alive. Interesting.
7) Think about John Farrell leaving Toronto to manage the Boston Red Sox, a divisional rival, and you just know this rivalry will become personal. Throw in the Clay Buchholz/foreign substance kerfuffle, and it just adds to the fun. Very impressed by how Baltimore is above .500 again this year, as no one in the AL East seems strong enough to pull away from the pack.
6) NL teams are 5-13 when playing at AL parks, where the DH is used; think it is a tougher adjustment than AL teams not using a DH at NL parks.
5) Bad week to be the agent for former Lions WR Titus Young, who was arrested three times in eight days; however, its an excellent week to be his bail bondsman. Young had the world by the tail and couldn't handle it. Sad.
4) Atlanta Braves are 5-11, 5.52 as a team in their last 16 road games.
3) You cannot smoke indoors in public places in New York; you can smoke in casinos here in Las Vegas. Its just unusual for me to see people lighting up cigarettes, never understood why people smoke anyway.
2) Arizona took Brandon McCarthy out after eight innings Sunday with a 2-0 lead, when he had thrown 85 pitches.
White Sox left Chris Sale in after eight innings with a 3-0 lead Sunday night,, and he wound up with a 98-pitch complete game.
Arizona's bullpen blew the game, which didn't make the move a bad move, just highlights an interesting contrast in philosophy.
1) Penn State's former school president Graham Spanier earned $2.9M last year, including $1.2M in severance pay; must be nice. It is a crime if you're in Spanier's position and know an employee is a pedophile and you don't turn him in. Not a lot of criminals get $1.2M in severance pay.
Sunday's List of 13: Things you hear in a casino..........
13) You hear lot of stuff in casinos, such as "Hi, my name is Toi. Want to play with me?" as a not-that-young woman handed me a business card with her cell number on it. Yes, hookers have business cards now.
12) Some nitwit was explaining to his friends why Wilt Chamberlain was the most overrated player in NBA history; had to bite my tongue and change locations-- this guy was loud and ignorant, a dangerous combination.
11) This is the same guy who (Friday night) was loudly boasting how he had the Bulls +8.5 and wasn't going to lose. Except that he did, as Miami led by 10 points for only 13 seconds the whole game- the last 0:13.
10) "%*#(%$)%*)!!!!!" People who bet the Bulls Friday night when they fouled while down eight and getting 8.5 points at the end of the game. Would have like to have heard the above nitwit's explanation for that.
9) Colorado Rockies went 49 consecutive batters without getting a hit, from first inning Friday to the 8th inning Saturday; couple of guys who bet on the Rockies to beat St Louis weren't very happy, to put it mildly.
8) Suncoast Casino has a ton of security guys around; was asking why, and apparently there was a shooting outside there a couple years ago, so they tightened up on security. Shootings tend to be bad for business.
7) One woman was in town for a family wedding, but wasn't too happy about it. "I just want to go upstairs and read my book. Last night I had to sit on the toilet and close the door so I could read without disturbing anyone."
No one was too disappointed when she left the bar and went to read.
6) They have a movie theater here, right next to the sportsbook; the move is a bag of popcorn and large Coke for $7.25, then take it in and watch the games- they encourage you to do that. Good food value, and it is excellent popcorn, Orville Redenbacher. I'm easily amused.
5) Lot of foreign languages spoken here. No idea which ones, since, well, they're foreign to me.
4) "I get paid every day. Its too easy. They pay me every day." One bettor who apparently was riding a hot streak. Believe me, it ain't easy.
3) I listened to a bartender negotiate price with a local on selling a classic car, want to say a '68 Barracuda, but I could have the year wrong.
The local says the car is worth $120,000 if it gets fixed up, but the car isn't in good shape. He doubted if the bartender had enough cash to make the deal.
2) "What, you don't trust me?" The local says that to the bartender when he asks to see a picture of the car. Nothing says mistrust like someone selling a used car. Even the local laughed when he said it.
1) "I bought a $900 ticket and they gave me the wrong team. My team won, the team they gave me lost." I was riding up in the elevator with this bettor, who probably didn't notice the mistake because his date was a 6-foot blonde with knee-high black boots on.
Either that or because he was wearing sunglasses indoors. At midnight.
She didn't say a word, just smiled; ya gotta love Las Vegas.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts with the weekend here:
13) First of all, thanks to Ken Thomson and Chuck Edel for having me on their radio show at the Palms Casino Friday night; if you want to learn about sports and handicapping, sportsxradio.com is a valuable tool. Monday thru Friday, from 10-12 ET. Good program.
12) MLB suspended umpire Fieldin Culbreth two games for screwing up the rules in Houston Thursday night; seriously, the Astros should suspend manager Bo Porter for not knowing the rule, either.
11) Order was restored in the NBA, with road teams that are favored to win their series taking charge Friday night.
10) Our food recommendation today is the Earl of Sandwich, America's best place to have a turkey club sandwich; there is one at Palms and one in Planet Hollywood. Good stuff.
9) Why does ESPN employ Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless? They're professional nitwits. ESPN should be embarrassed to have them on their air.
8) Georgia Tech loses guard Brandon Reed, who started 43 games the last two years for Tech after transferring from Arkansas State. Reed lost lot of his playing time LY to a freshman, so he is reading handwriting on the wall.
7) Eight of thirty starting pitchers Friday didn't finish the 5th inning.
6) Last thirteen Tampa Bay Ray games went over the total.
5) Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija is 0-5, 5.31 in his last seven starts since throwing eight shutout innings on Opening Day.
4) Soph QB Wes Lunt is transferring from Oklahoma State; he started five games LY, but lost the starting job after he got hurt.
3) Odd fact that bothers me: in December 1989, Washington waxed Florida in the now-defunct Freedom Bowl in Anaheim; since then, there has been only one bowl game between Pac-12/SEC teams. One in 23 years. Why?
2) Rough year to be a baseball manager in LA; Angels are 13-22, even after winning their last two games. Dodgers are 13-21, losers of their last eight games. Who gets canned first, Mattingly or Scioscia?
1) Palms Casino has tremendous video boards to watch games on; big screens with very bright colors. Good place to watch a ballgame.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind..........
13) I went to the minor league ballgame here in Las Vegas last night, so I missed the 4:07 Angel-Astro game, where the Halos rallied late for a 6-5 win, after the unpires screwed up another administrative issue.
When you put a relief pitcher in, he has to face a batter before you can take him out, unless he is hurt; somehow, Wesley Wright came into the game and then left without throwing a pitch-- thats against the rules.
12) So had the Angels lost, they probably would've won their protest and would've had to go back to Houston to replay the last couple innings. Very bad week for the umpires' union.
11) Astros have now played 35 games, and lost 19 of them by more than a run, so if you like to lay 1.5 runs, betting against Houston could work.
10) Bucs' DB Ronde Barber retired after 16 years with Tampa Bay; he is only player ever with 40+ INTs and 20+ sacks.
9) Minnesota Vikings are getting a new stadium, will use Minnesota Gophers' stadium in 2014-15, or until the new stadium is finished.
8) Batters who have come to bat with most men on base this season: Prince Fielder 123, Miguel Cabrera 121, Dustin Pedroia 119.
7) Batters who knocked the highest %age of baserunners in, with minimum of 80 AB's: Freddie Freeman 30.4%, Allen Craig 26.7%, Alex Gordon 26.0%.
6) Batters who knocked the lowest %age of baserunners in, with minimum of 80 AB's: Alex Avila 2.7%, Darwin Barney 3.8% BJ Upton 4.3%.
5) 106 minutes have been played in Warrior-Spur series; Golden State led for 95 of those 106 minutes.
4) Gary Barta is AD at Iowa; he thinks its a good idea for the Hawkeyes to play I-AA teams in football, which is another way of saying he endorses xharging his fans I-A prices to see easier wins, glorified scrimmages. For the love of Pete, go play a Sun Belt team- you'll still win.
3) Carl Crawford makes $20M a year; he has hit five solo homers, but has also come to bat with 53 men on base, knocking in three of them. I'll repeat, he makes $20M a year, and ranks 226th out of 234 players who have 80+ plate appearances, in terms of the %age of runners knocked in. Does Theo Epstein get drug tested? He gave Crawford $140M for seven years. .
2) Knicks are getting Amare Stoudemire back for Game 3 Saturday night at Conseco; will his presence screw up New York's chemistry? I'm just asking, not saying it will.
1) How is Angel Hernandez the chief of an umpiring crew? Don't you have to be one of the better unpires to be a crew chief? Hello?!?!?!?
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts from the desert.........
13) Umpire Angel Hernandez has some 'splainin' to do after he refused to overturn an obvious mistake on a ball Adam Rosales hit over the fence in a 4-3 loss at Cleveland Wednesday. The ball was ruled a double.
What good is instant replay if an umpire doesn't have the onions to make the right call that decides winning/losing in the last inning?
If you read this space a lot, you know I'm a big A's fan, so this annoys me beyond belief. This wasn't a difficult call.
12) Today's Las Vegas food recommendation: Steiner's Pub on 1750 North Buffalo in Summerlin; one of the best hamburgers I've ever had, and I've had a lot of them. Tremendous service, friendly people, excellent place.
11) Suncoast Casino has the Astros 50-1 to win AL pennant; how about making them like 5,000-1, because they have absolutely zero chance?
10) Draymond Green is 9-18 behind the arc in eight playoff games for the Warriors, after making 20.9% behind the arc during the season. Golden State ended a 30-game (30 games!!!) losing streak in San Antonio Wednesday. In his last two years at Michigan State, Green made 37.8% behind the arc, not a bad number at all. Player development is underreported by the media- lot of teams have coaches dedicated just to that part of the game.
9) Davidson is heading to the Atlantic 10 in 2014-15; I've got no idea how many teams are in this league right now- they had 16 last year. The road trip from Charlotte to Olean for Davidson-St Bonaventure tilts should be fun.
8) In five home starts, Barry Zito has allowed two runs in 33 IP; in his two road starts, he's allowed 15 runs in 6.1 IP.
7) Shane Battier was +42 in 22 minutes Wednesday night, which means Miami was outscored by 5 points in 26 minutes he didn't play. Only reason I bring this up is that I've been dealing with plus-minus stats for 34 years, and very, very few players have ever been +42 in a game.
6) Denver Nuggets won Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, which really makes no sense when you think about it, especially when you think they got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
If the executive was so great in building his roster, then how did the coach do such a great job? Maybe Tom Thibodeau should've won Coach of the Year for the job he did with the Derrick Rose-less Bulls.
5) I love hearing media nitwits who know nothing criticize Mark Jackson for playing Steph Curry 58:00, or Frank Vogel for calling a timeout, which was followed by a huge New York run; they have this thought process......
a) Steph Curry played 58:00 b) Golden State lost in double OT.
a) Indiana called a timeout when they were ahead b) Knicks went on a run.
a) and b) are both true. Therefore, a) caused b), which of course, is total BS.
4) Roy Halladay is out 3+ months with shoulder issues; he needs surgery; ESPN had a stat that said pitchers his age with shoulder problems averaged less than 60 innings for the rest of their careers, a figure skewed low by a lot of retirements. They won't know how serious the problem is until they get inside his shoulder.
3) It is amazing how much coverage ESPN gives to football; it is freakin' May, and they have daily shows for both the NFL and college football. Not a complaint at all, just an observation.
2) If I'm the Dodgers, I'm trading for Ricky Nolasco; he is the Marlins' highest-paid player, which means he will eventually gets traded.
1) They showed a stat on the Padre game Wednesday that said in the history of Petco Park, longest Padre hitting streak was Adrian Gonzalez hitting in 14 straight home games in 2007; it just seems low.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) February 1, 2008, Marc Gasol was traded by the Lakers with Kwame Brown, Jarvaris Crittendon (indicted on nurder charges last month), a 2008 1st round pick (Donte Greene) and a 2010 1st round pick (Greivis Vasquez) to Memphis for Pau Gasol and a 2010 2nd round pick (Devin Ebanks).
No one thought that the Grizzlies got the better of this trade, but they did; they traded Vasquez for Quincy Pondexter, and the younger Gasol might be the best center in the NBA. Who knew?
12) You don't see many 30-2 runs in NBA games, especially ones that start late in the third quarter with the team that is losing going on the run, but the Knicks did that and evened their series by crushing the Pacers 105-79. It was so one-sided Carmelo Anthony even had three assists.
11) Phil Jackson said he had no interest in the Nets' job. No, really? He's not coaching again unless the Heat come calling, and that ain't happening. He is 67, and isn't going to coach a team that is struggling to win a title.
10) Phoenix Suns hired 33-year old Ryan McDonough as their GM; he is the son of the late sportswriter Will McDonough, and the brother of ESPN voice Sean McDonough. Not entirely sure the Suns' owner knows what he is doing. They've gone in the dumper since they canned Mike D'Antoni.
9) UNLV star Michael Bennett has to have shoulder surgery before the draft; if his stock were to slip out of the first half of the first round, then he made a big mistake not going back to school for his sophomore year.
8) The Angels are 11-21, 2-8 in their last ten games- they've got a huge payroll, and you wonder how long before they change managers. Losing to the Astros in Houston ain't good for your job security.
7) Going to be a long summer in Vancouver, after the Canucks got swept by the San Jose Sharks, going 0-7 this season vs San Jose. Not often a team has home ice advantage and loses a series 4-0.
6) KL Wheat was at the Penguin-Islander game on Long Island Tuesday night and reports it was the most fun he's ever had at a hockey game. Series is tied 2-2 heading back to Pittsburgh.
5) ESPN shouldn't be showing a kid dunking in an AAU tournament, and then mocking the kid he dunked on; whatever nitwit aired this should pretend it was their son getting dunked on, and see if they would think it was funny then. These are high school kids; find your highlights somewhere else.
4) Matt Harvey's first seven starts for the Mets: 4-0, 1.28, with 22 hits allowed in 49.1 IP. He's going to be in the All-Star Game at CitiField.
3) After three nights of the second round of NBA playoffs, underdogs are 5-1 against the spread, with dogs 3-3 SU.
2) Golden State has now lost its last 30 games in San Antonio; 30!!!! In order to win this playoff series, Warriors have to go 3-0 at home, and win one game in the Alamo. When you're up 18 with under 5:00 to go and lose, it gets really, really difficult to win a short series. Damn near impossible.
1) When you come to Las Vegas, I strongly advise you to eat at Battista's, which is across Flamingo from Bally's, behind where Bill's Gambling Hall used to be. Old-fashioned Italian restaurant. Excellent.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Warriors-Spurs Monday night was one of the best basketball games ever played; tremendous drama, Steph Curry playing 58:00, scoring 44 points in a superior performance. Odd thing is Manu Ginobili was the hero, and he shot 5-20 for the game. Last one of those five makes won the game.
12) Klay Thompson was +14 in last night's game for the Warriors; his fouling out wound up being the most important event of the game.
11) Its great fun watching ball in a sportsbook; last night, there were two NBA games, four NHL games, nine baseball games going on. Lot of action.
10) I will never understand how Steph Curry went to Davidson; his dad was a good NBA player; no ACC team or Big East or SEC program took a chance on him? Same thing for his little brother; this is why coaches get fired.
9) Horrific loss for Tampa Bay last night; they scored seven runs in third inning, took 7-0 lead, but lost 8-7 in a game Hellickson started. When you're bad on the road, losing a home game like that stings badly.
8) In last two days, I've seen three instances of batters blatantly showing up umpires after ball/strike/check swing calls; its only May 7, and tensions are running high between players/umps.
My guess is the commissioner will quietly send out a memo telling both sides to cool it; doesn't look good at all.
7) Wal-Mart has revenues of $469B, most in America; #'s 2-4 on this list are all scummy oil companies. Speaking of which, gas is 20-25 cents a gallon cheaper here in Las Vegas than back home in Albany. Terrific.
6) I keep weird hours when I'm here in Las Vegas, so while I'm writing, I'm watching TV shows I never watch otherwise. Morning Joe on msnbc is a pretty fun program to watch. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
5) The Albany Times-Union is now printed on a much smaller piece of paper than it used to be; cost-cutting, no doubt. I don't even read the local paper anymore, but when you see it, the difference is noticeable.
4) It didn't take long to find out who the jackass is who didn't vote for Lebron James for MVP (he voted for Carmelo Anthony), but after reading his response, I've decided he's using this to promote his own career, so there is no freakin' way will I mention his name, no matter what. So there.
Self-promotion and attention junkies annoy me.
3) Odd baseball stat of the day: Josh Hamilton has swung at 41 pitches outside the strike zone this year- no hits. Not one.
2) A movie named Iron Man 3 took in $175M this weekend, just in this country; somehow, I missed Iron Man 1 and 2. Go figure.
1) A mother of four in California accidentally bought a lottery ticket and won a $14M prize. Thats what I call a good day. Wonder if she is single.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) 121 people vote for the NBA's MVP; 120 of them voted for Lebron James; Kevin Durant finished second in the voting, but didn't get the 121st first place vote- that went to Carmelo Anthony. The NBA won't say who cast that 121st ballot, but hopefully, someone will leak the info. The nitwit deserves to be identified.
12) Tough duty for the Bulls Monday night, playing Game 1 in Miami 48 hours after winning Game 7 in Brooklyn; Luol Deng will be there, but how well can be play after spending a few days in a hospital?
Its not my place to comment, but I will anyway; just can't believe Derrick Rose sits there and watches his teammates bust their butts without at least trying to play. It is understood he would be at less than 100%, but whatever he gives them might be the difference between winning and losing.
11) JR Smith was an awful 4-15 from floor in Knicks' 102-95 loss to the Pacers in Game 1 of that series; in five games this season with Indiana, Smith is 11-36 from floor in Pacers' three wins, 12-21 when the Knicks win.
10) Game 2 is in NYC Tuesday night; for some reason, Game 3 isn't until Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse. Considering that Indiana's bench played a total of only 39 minutes Sunday, the strung-out series schedule could help them more than the older Knicks.
9) Oklahoma City's bench was +26 in their 93-91 win over Memphis in the first game of that series; Kevin Martin came thru with 25 points off the bench to give the Thunder a solid second scoring option.
8) A week ago, Derek Ernst was ranked #1,207 in World Golf Rankings; he was 4th alternate to get into the Wells Fargo event in Charlotte this week, but once he got in, he proved he belonged by winning.
7) Roy Halladay got hammered by the Marlins, is now 2-4, 8.65 and is headed to see a shoulder specialist, not a good sign. Sadly, the week he went up against my fantasy team, he allowed three hits in 15 IP. Go figure.
6) Then there is Kevin Slowey, who beat Halladay Sunday, and now has a 1.81 ERA in six starts, albeit only one win. He's headed to the All-Star Game at this rate, and who would've ever thought that back in March?
5) Blue Jays are 11-21, Dodgers 13-17; the winter's big spenders' managers are already on the hot seat, especially Don Mattingly, who is in the last year of his contract. LA's big trade with Boston last summer ain't looking too good right now, but its still fairly early in the season. Fairly early.
4) If the baseball playoffs started today, and they don't for five months, the teams that make it would be......
NL-- Braves-Giants-Cardinals; Wild Card: Reds-Rockies
AL-- Boston-Detroit-Texas; Wild Card: Royals-Bronx or Orioles
3) Brooklyn Nets dumped interim coach PJ Carlesimo, who went 35-19 as coach of the Nets; they'll go after a big name condidate, then they'll settle for someone similar to Avery Johnson, who they canned last winter.
2) Wild hockey game in Ottawa Sunday, with 236 penalty minutes and nine game misconducts. Senators spanked Montreal 6-1, now lead this series 2-1. Ottawa called a timeout with 0:17 left, which stirred the pot just a little bit more, and makes Game 4 a more interesting game to watch.
1) Next time we talk, I'll be in America's favorite city, Las Vegas, for spring vacation. Lot going on; baseball, NHL/NBA playoffs. We'll take a look at NFL betting lines for Weeks 1-16, and anything else that might pop up. I might even have a cheesesteak in the LVH Superbook. Or two.
Sunday's List of 13: Random stuff on a Saturday night........
13) Every high school/college basketball player should watch Joakim Noah play and model their approach towards his; he plays his butt off-- all he cares about is winning. Must be fun to coach him.
12) Nationals-Pirates on FOX Game of the Week? I liked it.....
11) Not sure what TNT sees in Shaquille O'Neal as a studio analyst; maybe its me, but he adds very little, and he takes airtime away from Barkley and Kenny Smith. Its a great example of subtraction by addition.
10) In franchise history, St Louis Blues are 10-0 in playoff series if they won the first two games; we'll see if they can make it 11-0 against LA.
9) Every once in a while, a horse runs in Kentucky Derby that didn't run the previous year, as a 2-year old, but last time one of those horses won the Derby was in '82-- thats 1882, not 1982.
8) Oldest jockey in the Derby was 52-year old Jon Court, who rode Will Take Charge. Not as easy as it looks to be a jockey; very physical job.
7) Baltimore Ravens hired Steve Spagnuolo as a defensive assistant; after he became a hot property with the '08 Giants winning a Super Bowl, things haven't gone too well for Spagnuolo- he was dreadful as HC of the Rams, and then got stuck in a bad situation with the Payton-less Saints LY.
6) It rained so much in Florida the last few days that the walkway to the island green on the famed 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass was under water-- this is where the PLAYERS Championship is being played next week, so they're going to have to do a lot of work on the course before Thursday.
Cantor Gaming released betting lines for Weeks 1-16 of the NFL season this week; here are some tidbits National Football Post came up with..........
5) Patriots are favored in 13 games, pick 'em in two others; they're only team that isn't listed as an underdog in their first 15 games.
4) Arizona is pick 'em in three games, underdog in 12; Jacksonville is dog in 13 games, pick 'em in two, only two teams that aren't favored to win.
3) There are six pick 'em games in Week 16, but no road favorites. Yet.
2) Seahawks are favored in 13 of 15 games, including -1 at Houston in Week 4, which surprised me; people are on the Seattle bandwagon.
1) Only time the Broncos are underdog is their Week 12 (+1.5) visit to New England. It'll be fun to track how different these early spreads are than the actual spreads are when those weeks come around.
Saturday's Den: DDLohaus analyzes the Kentucky Derby...........
2013 Kentucky Derby Analysis
To quote one of my favorite movies “What a day”.. Well maybe Mother Nature isn’t going to cooperate but nevertheless, 20 horses will be going to the post for the 139th Run for the Roses.
The controversial point system appears to have sorted out the top 20 and away we go….
As I write this the weather appears to be less than ideal yet somehow I believe the 100,000+ fans will still make the best of what promises to be a great day of racing (and wagering!).
As I go over the field I see an excellent opportunity to get value and with the uncertain forecast makes the race even more appealing, if not more difficult to handicap.
Orb has done nothing wrong leading up to this race and there is no reason to believe he won’t fire his best shot here. He seemed to have something left in the tank in last which should have him primed for a big race. Top veteran jockey points to a lot to like.
Verrazano heads a group of five (yes five) from Todd Pletcher. He is undefeated and we all know he is being handled right. While a winner in last, I am not convinced it was that good an effort. Don’t know if it was the distance but I think he may not be at his best at ten furlongs. With that said it is awfully hard to pick against him.
Revolutionary is another out of the Pletcher stable and one that I think moves up on a wet track. Nice wide move in last and gets a jockey who knows his way around Churchill Downs (and the winners circle). Castellano picking another is a question mark and I question some of his competition but this guy would not be a surprise.
Normandy Invasion ran second to Verrazano in the Wood but the way he did it has me a little excited. He closed well into a slow pace and galloped out strongly. This guy hasn’t won in a while and has trouble at the start; which in this field may not be a bad thing if he can save some ground and tuck in behind the first flight. Third off the layoff and a very talented trainer says that if he is good enough he can take it all.
Goldencents ran a real nice race in the SA Derby but it seemed to be the perfect set-up. Listen, Pitino is king of the world right now and Doug O’Neil knows how to win the big ones. Ran second to Shanghai Bobby last year and that one was a monster…tough call…
Itsmyluckyday: Solid horse who may have run his best race in last…maybe he can fire again but must beat a better field along with likely more traffic in front of him.
Java’s War: Bluegrass winner has some appeal but little success at CD and a history of gate/start troubles tells me he won’t be ready when the gate opens
Vyjack: Handled grade III company and made a nice showing when stepped up to grade I
caliber horses. Since I like Normandy Invasion I like this one a little too. Use in exotics.
Mylute: Last was really nice effort but earlier races a bit too inconsistent to give me a lot of confidence in this guy. Ambitious jockey means they will be trying.
Frac Daddy: Has danced with the big boys on more than one occasion and has had very good success at CD; may like home course advantage…
I really liked the last race of Normandy Invasion. I tend to favor horses that were moving well late in a race leading up to a stakes race. He closed into a slow pace and I think he was screaming for a little more distance. Orb is strictly the one to beat. No knock here as he seems to keep getting better and better…can’t win them all (can they?). Revolutionary moves up on wet surface and Borel knows how to navigate this oval…
I think there are a legitimate ten (10) horses that can win this race and a lot depends on track condition, position, trip and luck. The value is ALWAYS there and I know I say this every year but if you like a horse and have your reasons, it’s a good bet. Listen, if we knew the winners in advance we’d all be rich…the race must be run and no-one really knows…
$20WP Normandy Invasion
$5Exact Box Normandy Invasion/Revolutionary/Orb
$1Trifecta Box Normandy Invasion/Revolutionary/Orb/Frac Daddy
$.10c Superfecta Normandy Invasion/Revolutionary/Orb/Frac Daddy/Vyjack
See you in a couple of weeks!
Friday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Starting in August 2014, there is going to be an SEC Network, which will basically be run by ESPN. If you like college football, this is very good news, as long as DirecTV picks the damn thing up (it doesn't carry Pac-12 Network, but does carry the Big Dozen Network).
12) Back in the late 60's/early 70's, NBA teams got three shots to make two if their opponents were over the foul limit. An amazingly bad rule, but one Dwight Howard would probably be in favor of.
11) Its never too early to start thinking about college basketball: Here is the field for next November's Alaskan Shootout: Tulsa vs Indiana State, TCU @ Alaska-Anchorange, Pepperdine vs Green Bay and Denver vs Harvard.
10) What was left unspoken when the Alaska field was announced is that the Iowa Hawkeyes pulled out of the Shootout, so they could play in an event in the Bahamas that also includes Kansas, Tennessee, Villanova, USC, Wake Forest, UTEP and Xavier. Makes Iowa's schedule a little bit better.
9) Pitt coach Jamie Dixon brought former Manhattan head coach and former Pitt assistant Barry Rohrssen back as an assistant coach. Rohrssen is very good at recruiting in New York City. Pitt needs better players.
8) Somehow, Robert Morris coach Andy Toole didn't get a better job after his team upset Kentucky in the NIT, getting gifted with a home game due to Kentucky hosting the NCAA tournament, but Toole did get an extension to his contract, he is now signed thru 2018.
7) Rory McIlroy shot a 5-under 67 Thursday, first time this year he broke par in the first round of a tournament.
6) Duke graduate Nate Smith also shot a 67 Thursday; he shot a 63 Monday just to get into the tournament. He is ranked #1,306 in the World Golf rankings; in other words, its really, really hard to get on the PGA Tour.
5) Colorado Rockies signed veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt, who obviously does not like spring training, since he never goes. Oswalt is 4-0, 2.25 in his career at Coors Field.
4) NCAA turned a $71M profit in 2012, not bad at all. With this in mind, I'd be in favor of every kid who makes the mens'/womens' Final Four being allowed to bring two guests along, at the NCAA's expense. Its only fair.
3) Jacoby Ellsbury saw 8-7-8 pitches in his first three ABs for the Red Sox in Toronto Thursday, and against a lefty, JA Happ. Not too impressive for the Jays, as their pitching belies the team's preseason predictions.
2) UNLV is in negotiations to sell its football home opener to Arizona; this is very bad news for UNLV's coach, when you start selling home games, especially to Arizona, its the beginning of the end.
Not like its Michigan/Alabama/Nebraska for a big payday. Game would be played at U of Phoenix Stadium, where the Cardinals play.
1) Golden State led by 18 points with 8:20 left in the 4th quarter, survived a wild comeback by the Nuggets to advance to the second round with a 92-88 win that saw Denver miss a point blank putback that would've tied the game in the last 0:15. Warriors looked like a bad high school team at times during the Denver rally, but they win this series in six games.
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a spring day.......
13) Was reading an article today on how bad the Marlins’ hitting has been this season; it mentioned how over the last 40 years,, the team with the lowest OPS was the ’72 Texas Rangers, in their first year in Arlington after moving from Washington. Manager of the ’72 Rangers? Ted Williams, one of the best hitters ever, if not the best.
12) NBA Draft is two rounds, sixty picks; there are 77 early entries to the draft, 46 from American colleges, 31 from other countries, plus all the college seniors. Going to be a lot of disappointed people on June 27. Lot of kids are getting terrible advice.
11) Looks like former Oklahoma/Indiana basketball coach Kelvin Sampson has a pretty good chance to be an NBA head coach next season, either in Charlotte or Milwaukee.
10) Pirates had a pretty good April, but their starting pitchers threw the least innings of any NL team, which is a red flag going forward. Got to keep the strain off your bullpen over a six-month season.
9) Kentucky Derby has rain in the forecast for Saturday; Rick Pitino owns part of a horse called Goldencents, which won the Santa Anita Derby and will be running Saturday.
8) Former Kansas State PG Angel Rodriguez has surfaced at Miami, a good get for Jim Larranaga, with the Larkin kid leaving early for the NBA. Hurricanes will be down some next year, but are now looking a lot better for 2015. Not sure yet if Rodriguez can play next year or if he has to sit out.
7) Surprised to see the A’s scored 20 more runs in April than any other American League team.
6) According to Sports Illustrated, University of Tennessee spent $360,000 on six different coaching searches, just since 2005- they hire search firms to find them the right coach. Whoever told the Vols to hire Lane Kiffin should give them a refund on that search.
5) Since 2001, 30 of 42 (42%) of teams that led their division on May 1 wound up winning that division.
4) Online poker is legal in Nevada, if you play with Stations Poker. I’m predicting a gambling boom in this country over the next decade, where you’ll be able to play poker online anywhere, and bet on sports in states other than Nevada.
3) The last time Colorado had this much snow this late in the year was 1947. Glad I’m not there. Its supposed to snow in Kansas City today, too.
2) Horse racing note from TVG: This is first time since 1997 that no horse from the previous year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race will run in Kentucky Derby. DD Lohaus will have his Kentucky Derby analysis in this space on Saturday, so make sure you log on and take a look.
1) Turns out the TV viewer who called in to point out Eldrick Woods’ improper drop on the 15th hole on Friday at the Masters was a guy named David Eger, who plays on the Seniors Tour. I’ve never been a big fan of TV viewers calling in violations, since it favors players who are never on TV. Interesting that the caller was an actual touring pro, though.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Late Monday night was filled with interesting baseball action; Mets went ahead of Miami in 15th inning because Marlins walked Ike Davis on purpose to face Ruben Tejada; Davis is hitting .159, Tejada .259.
According to retrosheet.org, which keeps a database of such things, neither hitter had faced Jon Rauch before, so why walk the befuddled Davis to pitch to Tejada, who already had two hits Monday?
Long story short, they walk Davis, then throw a wild pitch, then Tejada gets an infield hit and the Mets go ahead. Horrific managing, but Miami rallies for two in the 15th to win anyway, a weird end to an odd game—there were no more than a couple hundred people left in that beautiful new ballpark in Miami at game’s end.
12) Monday’s game was supposed to be a Harvey-Fernandez showcase of two of baseball’s best young pitchers, but the two combined to throw 202 pitches while lasting a combined 9.1 innings- not very good. Harvey threw 5.04 pitches per batter, and had 35 balls fouled off, a ridiculously high number. Fernandez threw 4.76 pitches/hitter and was lifted after four IP, allowing two runs. These two have plenty of better days ahead of them.
11) Out in Oakland, Angels led 7-2 in 8th inning, before things got bizarre. The A’s tied the game in the 9th (Cespedes is the A’s version of Kelly Leak from The Bad News Bears), fell behind in the 12th, tied it again (Rosales with a huge hit), then finally won the game at 4:41 ET when Brandon Moss homered in the 19th off a guy named Enright who used to pitch for Arizona.
Longest game in history for both Angels and A’s. For a minute, thought I was going to have to call in late to work to watch the end of the game.
10) Weirdest part of the A’s game was that Brett Anderson was scratched from the start (ankle) but wound up throwing 5.1 innings in relief, before he re-injured the ankle and had to leave in the 18th inning.
As much fun as winning these close games is, there is a huge red flag for Oakland: if their starting pitching doesn’t revert back to LY’s strong level, they’re going to fall apart this summer, because too much strain is being placed on their fine bullpen. Its as simple as that.
Sunday/Monday was first time since 1941 the A’s won consecutive games, when they trailed by 5+ runs in both games.
9) Injuries, injuries and more injuries; Stanton-Crisp-Bourjos-CYoung all got hurt running from home to first Monday night. Four starting OFs in one night, some of the better athletes in the game. Anderson re-injured his ankle when he turned to try and field a ball hit up the middle- he is always hurt. Baseball players are paper mache, its unbelievable.
8) Phil Jackson has never run an NBA franchise and is 67, which makes the Raptors’ push to hire the Zen Master as Team President a little odd. Maybe they’re just looking for some free publicity before the NHL playoffs start. Maybe they're serious, which will be very expensive if they're wrong.
7) While Creighton’s Doug McDermott will play another year for his father, Ray McCallum Jr is leaving his dad at U of Detroit and is bolting early for the NBA. Detroit never enjoyed the success that was expected once young McCallum committed to the Titans, but he is expected to be a good NBA player. Its a big hit to his dad's team.
6) Baylor gets center Isaiah Austin back for another season because the big man hurt his shoulder and wouldn’t have been a first round NBA draft pick, so he smartly returned to school. Good break for Scott Drew.
5) Luol Deng is 1-18 on 3-pointers in the Bulls-Nets playoff series; at what point do you stop shooting them? He is a career 33.4% shooter behind the arc who made 32.2% this year; I’m just asking.
4) ESPN’s draft coverage got its best ratings in these three cities:
New Orleans-Birmingham-Kansas City.
3) Geno Smith already fired his agent? He got drafted four days ago!!! Smith has to wait five days before he can hire another agent. Hope he doesn’t hire the guy who advised Tyler Bray to leave school early.
2) There are 347 Division I college hoop teams; this spring’s transfer list is already over 350 kids. Last year’s wound up over 450. The average transfer rate for all college students, athletes or not, is said to be around 33%.
1) Oklahoma City owner Clay Bennett is head of the NBA’s relocation committee; he is the guy who stole the Sonics from Seattle, which makes you wonder how much of a shot Seattle had in the first place, as far as getting the Kings to leave Sacramento for the Pacific Northwest.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) This is a free country; a lot of brave people risk their lives to protect our freedoms. Jason Collins is entitled to do what he wants, when he wants. He shouldn't have to call press conferences to explain himself.
12) Pacers-Hawks have played eight times this year; home team won every game. Hasn't even been a close game in this playoff series.
11) More bad news for Seattle, as the NBA recommended the Kings stay in Sacramento. No clue about whether Sacramento deserves to keep its team, but Seattle got screwed badly when the league took the Sonics away because the city wouldn't build yet another new arena- they had a perfectly suitable 15-year old building, but the NBA tried to extort a new arena out of the city, and when the city declined, the NBA moved the Sonics to Oklahoma.
Seattle supported the Sonics and deserves a term, but it doesn't look good.
10) If you saw ESPN’s 30 for 30 on the ’83 NFL Draft, one of the main story tellers was agent Marvin Demoff, who represented both Dan Marino and John Elway (how about those commissions??) Demoff’s son Kevin is now the COO of the St Louis Rams.
9) Speaking of the Rams, second first round draft pick Alec Ogletree. a LB from Georgia, blocked six punts for the Dawgs, so he should help the St Louis special teams.
8) Mets have played five home series, all three game series; over is 9-1 in Games 1-2, 0-5 in Game 3’s.
7) In their franchise history, Nuggets have been down 3-1 in a series twelve times; they’re 5-7 in those Game 5’s, but have never rallied to win a series. They get another chance this week.
6) Raiders took Houston DB DJ Hayden despite fact the kid hasn’t been on the field since suffering a bizarre injury in practice last fall that almost killed him. Hayden collided with a teammate, broke a blood vessel near his heart; he lost 25 pounds, had all the blood replaced in his body more than once, and damn near died.
You wonder how he’ll react the next time he gets on the field; Raiders must be pretty sure about Hayden, to use the 12th pick in the draft on him. .
5) Odd blowup Sunday between David Price and umpire Tom Hallion; Rays say that Hallion cursed at Price, who vehemently denies it. Things got pretty heated; Tampa pitcher Jeremy Hellickson was thrown out of the game, and he wasn’t even in the game.
There has to be a field mike somewhere that picked up what Hallion said to Price. If MLB fines the umpire, they probably won't tell us.
4) Since 1994, only one time have both #1 seeds in the NHL gotten to the Stanley Cup finals; that was 2001, when Colorado-New Jersey played each other. With a short season this year, would expect more chaos in this year's playoffs.
3) Mets-Marlins played until after midnight in Miami Monday, with the Marlins winning 4-3 in 15 innings, scoring twice in the 15th after Tejada put New York ahead with an RBI infield hit in the top of the inning.
2) Second day in a row, A's rallied back from a 5-run deficit, but as I type this, game is 8-8 in 19th inning at 4:20am Tuesday. Longest game in Oakland A's history, but I'm turning off the computer and watching end of the game in the dark. Hopefully it'll end before I go to work.
1) The whole Tim Tebow episode brings up many questions:
a) How on God’s green earth was he ever a 1st round draft pick?
b) How did Josh McDaniels get two more NFL jobs after his dismal performances in Denver and then St Louis? McDaniels was the only person in America who would’ve picked Tebow in the first round.
c) Why the hell did the Jets trade for Tebow last year?
d) How is Matt Simms still on the Jets’ roster? He couldn’t beat out Tyler Bray at Tennessee, and Bray didn’t get drafted this weekend.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) Very classy of Dwight Howard to get tossed from the Lakers' last game of the playoffs; whomever pays him serious money this summer gets what they deserve. He ain't worth it. Not even close.
12) State of North Carolina wants to put in mandatory background checks for anyone who owns a pitbull. At what point do the people draw the line at having their civil liberties taken away? I'm just askin'.....
11) There are nine members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who were drafted in the 7th round. Drafting is an inexact science, to be sure.
10) I read this week that when a team plays a doubleheader, it is common practice for the veteran pitcher to pick which game he wants to start, unless you're the Marlins and the owner decides himself. Must be lot of fun to be on that team, either as a manager, coach or player.
9) Gary McCord said on CBS that Mark Calcavecchia holds PGA record for most consecutive birdies, with nine in a row at the Canadian Open.
8) Carmelo Anthony has taken 35+ shots three times in his career; his team lost all three of those games. In four series games with Boston, he has taken 113 shots from floor, 37 from foul line, with four assists. Four.
7) With JR Smith suspended, the Knicks bench went 3-12 from the floor in their overtime loss Sunday.
6) In three home starts, Barry Zito: 21 innings, allowed no runs.
In two road starts, Zito: 6.1 innings, allowed 15 runs. Go figure.
5) Four games in Fenway this weekend, Houston starting pitchers gave up 33 hits, 22 runs in 17 innings. Other than Bud Norris, they don't have a starting pitcher of major league quality, except maybe Travis Blackley.
4) Phillies' 1st base coach is Juan Samuel, 3rd base coach is Ryne Sandberg; could be the best set of base coaches ever, in terms of their playing careers.
3) I know this will never happen, but I'm an advocate of below .500 teams being left out of the playoffs; the Bucks were 38-44, shouldn't Utah have been in the playoffs instead of them?
You play for six months; if you don't win half your games, you don't deserve to be in the playoffs, simple as that.
2) Four weeks down, 23 to go in baseball season, the Royals are in first place in the AL Central. They mortgaged their future (Myers/Odorizzi) for this season (Shields), the only way the GM could save his job. Its working.
1) Dell Curry was an excellent player at Virginia Tech who played a long time in the NBA; how did Tech not recruit either one of his sons? Steph went to Davidson, younger one went to Liberty, before Duke poached him away. No wonder Seth Greenberg got fired.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.........
13) Bulls 142, Nets 134, triple OT-- Just 8th triple OT game in playoff history; Nets led by 14 with 3:00 left, got beat by Nate Robinson, who scored 29 points in last 27:00 of play. I'm seriously not sure how Derrick Rose sits there and watches these games and doesn't at least try to play.
12) They had Reggie Jackson Bobblehead Day in Oakland Saturday, the same day that a different Reggie Jackson took Russell Westbrook's place starting at guard for the Thunder, who won 104-101 at Houston behind Kevin Durant 41 points, 14 rebounds. Looking at the boxscore: Oklahoma City ain't winning the NBA title. This is where they'll regret trading James Harden.
11) Tennessee was 5-7 LY, but had two WRs picked in the top 40 of the draft; QB Tyler Bray wasn't picked, though reports late Saturday night have him signing with the Chiefs as a free agent. Bray got horrendous advice to leave school early; now he'll have to make an NFL roster the hard way.
This is how much teams don't trust Bray as a team leader; the Chargers took a QB from Southern freakin' Utah in the 7th round, over a kid who started 2.5 years in the SEC. Who advised Bray to leave school early? Anyone?
10) SEC had 63 players drafted, with Ole Miss only one of the 14 schools without a player picked; ACC and Pac-12 combined had 59 kids taken.
9) Florida State (11) of the ACC had the most players drafted.
8) 58% of Tom Brady's completions LY went to players who are no longer Patriots; they drafted WRs from Marshall/TCU. Think they're going to regret letting Wes Welker get out of town.
7) Interesting article in the New York Post late last week about New Jersey Giants wanting their offensive tackles to have an arm length of at least 33 inches, to ward off opposing pass rushers.
Kid they drafted from Syracuse, OT Justin Pugh, has arms that are only 32 inches long, so they made an exception for him- they also drafted the QB from Syracuse, which coincidentally is coach Tom Coughlin's alma mater.
6) I'm a firm believer that the NFL should team up with Arena Football and use the AFL as a development ground for young QB's; the quick decisions and smaller playing field help develop a QB, I am totally convinced of it.
5) In his last 12 years as a college coach, Nick Saban has had 22 players picked in the first round of the draft; think that comes up during his recruiting home visits?
4) It is still odd hearing, "and the new coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, Andy Reid." Really think the Philly fans are going to miss Reid.
3) Odd Fact of the Draft: the 173rd pick in the draft, which wound up being , Denver taking OT Vinston Painter of Virginia Tech, was at one time owned by five different teams before the pick was actually made.
2) If every American did his job as well as Mel Kiper Jr does his, this would be a better country; the man is an information machine.
1) Lets be honest; many of the attributes that make a great NFL QB are not measureable, which is why Tom Brady got drafted in the 6th round, Ryan Leaf with the 2nd pick, while Kurt Warner never got drafted. Scouts have to use measureables to explain their suggestions/ratings, but there is still no way to measure a man's heart, or to determine whether teammates will follow him when he tries to lead them. It is why the draft is so interesting.
Saturday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) How have the Cowboys not drafted Matt Barkley? Tony Romo is in his 30's, its time for Dallas to draft a developmental QB. Barkley would've been the #1 pick had he come out last year; now he's a 4th round player?
12) Phillies are amazingly 0-6 in Roy Halladay’s starts this year, but that will change soon; Halladay allowed three hits in his last 15 IP.
All he needs is some run support.
11) Mets started their 8th series of the season last night; so far, over is 13-2 in Games 1-2 of each series, but 2-4 in Game 3’s. I don’t have a reason why, just reporting the facts.
10) Charles Barkley has come out and said he would like to be GM of the Phoenix Suns; would he work hard at the job, or treat it like a fantasy team he toys with after he plays golf ever day (see Bobcats, Charlotte)?
Playing/coaching/personnel are three distinctly different jobs, all unique in their own way, all very difficult to do well.
9) Fordham signed the best senior NYC high school basketball player this week, pretty big breakthrough for the Rams, as they try and rise from out of the basement of the A-16. This is a big step for them, no matter how good the kid is or isn’t. He’s from the Christ the King HS; the private school league is generally better than the public school league in NYC.
8) Carl Crawford has always been a pretty good player, but only pretty good; how he ever got $20M a year out of the Red Sox is beyond me. Seems as though Theo Epstein (now running the Cubs instead of Boston) should have to carry Crawford on his roster until the ridiculously high $140M contract (this is the third of seven years) is over.
7) Say a big league ballplayer gets 600 at-bats and hits .280; if that player added one more hit a week, say because he was an expert bunter, that .280 average becomes .325. How a speedy lefthanded hitter like Crawford never became an expert bunter is beyond me; might have made him a Hall of Fame-type player.
6) I wonder how much total money is spent on beer advertising on TV and radio during games? Has to be a staggering amount.
5) Western Michigan had the MAC Freshman of the Year this winter in 6-9 Darius Paul, but now he is transferring out of Kalamazoo, a disturbing trend that has increased lately (Seth Curry from Liberty-to-Duke, for example). Mid-majors have to watch out for bigger schools poaching their own players, almost like baseball players leaving smaller markets for the big money. Curious to see where Mr Paul winds up.
4) If you’re planning a vacation for next spring and don’t know where to go, Wrestlemania is going to be in the Superdome in New Orleans. They had it outdoors at Swamp Stadium in New Jersey this year.
3) Its funny how you can actually wager on where kids get picked in the NFL Draft; makes the whole evening a lot more interesting.
2) Seniors-to-be Russ Smith (Louisville), CJ Fair (Syracuse) are coming back to school next year, as those teams head into the ACC for the first time. Very good news for both teams.
\1) If the Lakers played the Celtics best-of-7 right now, would either team win a game? They both look like they've given up.
Friday's List of 13: Notes while watching the NFL draft.......
13) Four offensive linemen were taken in the first seven picks of the draft for the first time ever; unclear whether these linemen are that good, or everyone else is just so subpar this season.
12) Watching TV people bash the Raiders' drafts for the last 10-15 years without mentioning the late Al Davis by name is always funny, even as they show Davis' brother manning the Raiders' phone at Radio City.
11) Raiders have started 15 different QBs over the last decade. Yikes.
10) Jets' first round pick Dee Milliner has had five surgeries and has a rod in his leg; he had shoulder surgery in March. He also played for Alabama, so he's well-coached and used to winning.
9) USA Today reports that when Dolphins' pick Dion Jordan was a senior in high school, he set himself on fire in a bizarre accident.......
".........Jordan was watching a friend as he tried to siphon gas from a car while using a vacuum cleaner. When the friend finished, Jordan walked over to the vacuum to turn it off. When he flipped the vacuum’s “off” switch, it released a spark, spreading flames onto Jordan."
You can get gas out of a car with a vacuum cleaner?
8) Patriots got four draft picks from Minnesota for the #29 pick; who did the Vikings want so bad? WR Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee. They'll be comparing this to when the Falcons traded up to get Julio Jones, in what was an excellent trade for Atlanta.
7) Nine offensive linemen were taken in the first round; one QB, not one running back, in what was a very unusual first round.
6) Bad night for Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib; not only wasn't he drafted, but his old college coach, Doug Marrone, took EJ Manuel for his new team, the Buffalo Bills. If Marrone didn't draft his old QB, who will?
5) Lions' draft pick Ezekiel Ansah, #5 pick in the draft, had never started a game until last fall. Last time a BYU guy went in Top 10 of draft was 1982, when the Bears took Jim McMahon.
4) NFL Network's Mike Mayock is never surprised by anything. Ever.
3) When the three Alabama kids went with picks 9-11, it was the first time ever three college teammates got picked in succession.
2) Rough night for Geno Smith, Manti Te'o, Matt Barkley, as none of them got picked in the first round Thursday night. There's always Friday.
1) Last time Rams drafted a WR in first round (Torry Holt, '99), they won Super Bowl that year. I'm just sayin'...........
Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) The players I’m most interested in at the NFL Draft this weekend are: Marcus Lattimore, the South Carolina RB who has injured his knee twice; CB Honey Badger Mathieu, who is just under 5-9 and has failed multiple drug tests, but was a proven big game performer at LSU, and of course LB Manti Te’o, the most enigmatic of all of this year’s candidates.
12) Ted Lilly’s start Wednesday made him the 8th different Dodger to start on the mound in LA’s first 20 games.
11) Hey Twitter users: if you see something posted from The Onion, its not real, it’s a joke, a parody. They post outrageous things in the name of humor and people who don't know them overreact, and then they have a good laugh at the expense of others.
They’re the Twitter version of the fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff move that used to be legal and had everyone in the stands yelling “Balk!!!”
10) So far this season, the Braves have out-homered opponents 35-13.
9) Stephen Strasburg's last four starts: 0-4, 5.55. Washington scored total of seven runs in those four games, but still.....
8) Matt Brady is just 88-82 in four years at James Madison, but he made the NCAA tournament, so he got a 4-year contract extension; Buffalo fired Reggie Witherspoon, who had generally done better than that at Buffalo (92-66 in his last five years there), but never made the field of 68. That’s the reality at a lot of these mid and low-majors programs.
Getting into the NCAAs excites the alumni, and they in turn contribute more money to the school. In the end, its always about the money.
7) Glad to see Brandon Inge back in the big leagues, in Pittsburgh; he is a tough, gritty guy and a good teammate who was a big help to the A’s before hurting his shoulder LY. We wish him well.
6) White Sox have already played 11 one-run games (5-6); the Bronx Bombers have only played two (2-0).
5) Six of eight NBA playoff series are 2-0. Not a lot of drama there.
Surprised the Sporting News had Les Miles ranked #9 amongst current college football coaches; he’s done an excellent job in Baton Rouge, is better than #9. So what if he wears his hat funny and chews grass? He has to go up against Nick Saban (at Alabama) and Saban's ghost (at LSU) and he does pretty darn well. No way there are eight programs better than LSU's.
3) Why did Cleveland give Mike Brown $20M to come back to coach the Cavaliers?
Wouldn’t Alvin Gentry be just as good, if not better, for a lot less money?
2) Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com reports that of the all defensive players drafted since 2003, 36 made the Pro Bowl; of those 36, only seven were drafted after the second round.
1) When you’re listening to expert after expert break down the NFL Draft over the next few days, remember that Tom Brady was once taken 30 picks after Marc Bulger, and Kurt Warner was never drafted.
Not a lot of expertise there.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud..........
New Jersey Jets have the 9th/13th picks in Thursday’s draft, first NFL team since 2000 to have two picks in the top 13; lot of negativity surrounding Gang Green right now, curious to see how they draft this week.
12) Speaking of the Jets, former Jet/new Buccaneer CB Darrelle Revis threw out the first ball at the Rays-Bronx game Monday night; his presence didn’t help attendance. Only 15,331 at The Trop for a quality Sabathia-Moore pitching matchup, 17,544 for Tuesday's game.
11) NFL Network had an interesting piece with USC QB Matt Barkley showing off the USC football facility; amazing how nice it is, especially the lobby area. Obviously designed to impress recruits, one word came to mind; excess. But Trojans recruit well, they know how to play that game well, so the lobby must be an effective tool.
10) Speaking of Barkley, betting over/under on where he gets drafted is 33.5. QB-needy Jacksonville has the 33rd pick.
9) Good news for Central Florida’s football team, which had its NCAA violations overturned by whatever committee does such things.
I’ve lost track, but I think UCF is headed to the new AAC, which is really the old Conference USA, plus Cincinnati/UConn/Temple.
8) Interesting article in USA Today about what it takes to fire a coach; Southern Mississippi went 0-12 with a first-year head coach LY after 16 straight winning seasons, and they wound up selling a home game to Nebraska for $2.1M to raise money to buy his contract out.
Wish someone would give me a couple million to go away.
7) Speaking of going away, big blow to Kansas State’s basketball team, with PG Angel Rodriguez leaving the program, supposedly to be closer to his family. He says it has nothing to do with the coaches, the team or the school, but if he winds up at South Carolina with former K-State coach Frank Martin, you’ll know that was a bunch of bunk.
Bruce Weber is now going to have to pull a point guard out of a rabbit’s hat, or else. Bad time to lose a solid PG with two years left to play, but obviously, there is no good time for that.
6) Stanford is beefing up its basketball schedule; they’ve got home/home with UConn coming up, and are coming to Brooklyn to play Michigan next year. Johnny Dawkins has a veteran team next year, and this aggressive scheduling shows that he thinks he has a very good team.
5) Its painful watching Albert Pujols run; he has plantar fasciitis, same thing Joakim Noah has, and its painful as hell. Not sure how his feet get better, other than rest.
4) I’m in a 16-team, 25-man team keeper league in fantasy baseball; Ichiro Suzuki got released this week and hasn’t been picked up, which could indicate his career is just about shot. I mean, there are kids in Class A ball on rosters in our league. Very few starting OFs are free agents. Ichiro has had a great career, for sure, but it might be over soon.
3) If Montreal-Toronto square off in the NHL playoffs, it would be the first time since 1979, and it would be a very big deal in Canada.
2) I just got an e-mail asking if I wanted tickets for a Denver-Clipper NBA preseason game next October at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. I have no clue what I’m doing after work today, much less six months from now.
It is something to think about, though.
1) Three most expensive tickets so far for the ’13 season at NFL Ticket Exchange: Broncos @ Colts, Giants @ Dallas, Giants @ Bears.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but...........
13) Creighton basketball star Doug McDermott has a decision this week; go to the NBA and make a few million bucks, or stay in college and play his senior year for the Bluejays. Not as simple as it sounds.
One thing complicates a seemingly easy decision; Greg McDermott (Doug’s dad) is the Bluejays’ coach and Creighton isn’t a top 25 team next preseason unless Doug comes back to play.
12) If you don’t think there is pressure to win at Creighton, consider this: Bluejays drew more fans per home game this season than 14 teams in the NBA. People don’t come out to watch losing teams.
Like I said, interesting decision for the kid.
11) Florida Gators didn’t hold a spring football game because they only had six healthy offensive linemen for spring practice. Going to be freshmen and JC kids backing up the starters on the line this fall.
10) Employees of NFL Network and ESPN won’t be tweeting draft picks this weekend, to protect the integrity of the broadcasts. I’ll probably choose NFLN over ESPN the first day, then go with ESPN when Mel Kiper is on more, in the later rounds; I’ve soured on Chris Berman’s act the last few years. He won’t be around for Day 3.
9) In 1976, kid named Gregg Popovich tried out for the Denver Nuggets, who were coached by Larry Brown; trying to guard David Thompson helped send Popovich on a path to coaching, where he has become one of the NBA’s all-time greats. Only other team he coached was a D-III college club.
8) People forget just how great a player David Thompson was, before his off-court troubles ruined his career; in lot of ways, he was the NBA’s version of Dwight Gooden, a prodigious talent whose career got derailed by life in the fast line. But boy, what a great, great college player.
7) Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he thinks the Boston bomber will eventually ask for a Presidential pardon; if that happens, the answer damn well better be no, and an emphatic no.
6) Big Dozen approved a nine-game conference football schedule, but that won’t start until 2016; until then, teams will fatten up on MAC and the lame I-AA teams with that extra game.
5) We need the Carl’s Jr hamburger chain to come east; apparently they’re now testing out a Pop Tarts ice cream sandwich; who wouldn’t be in favor of that? Come on Carl’s people, be greedy, open up some new places in the east, specifically upstate New York, say, surburban Albany???
4) Krispy Kreme has come up with Key Lime cheesecake donuts, which sounds like a little too much, even for me. I prefer Dunkin’ Donuts because they serve bigger donuts, and its all about quantity, not quality…..lol
3) Someone got to the official scorer in Seattle Monday and got a Victor Martinez E-6 changed to a single, which raises his batting average from .167 to .182, making his off day the best day he’s had this season.
2) Consensus on Twitter Monday afternoon was that no Big Dozen players will be taken in first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. Zero. Not any Michigan guys or Ohio State or Nebraska. Wow.
1) Alabama/Auburn combined to draw 161,716 fans to their spring football games; its really an amazing thing. Vanderbilt drew an estimated 14,000 to theirs, and they’re in the same league as the two Alabama schools.
Two schools of thought here:
a) Its unfair that Vandy’s resources are so much less than the big boys or
b) With equal revenue sharing of TV money, Vandy’s administration is making a killing and they could care less if they win or lose, as long as those big fat revenue sharing checks keep rolling in.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) Pacers 107, Hawks 90-- Indiana outscored Hawks 30-7 on foul line, as George was 17-18 by himself at charity stripe. Every Pacer starter was +13 or better for the game, and Hawks even shot 50% from floor. George dished out 12 assists and recorded a triple-double.
12) Spurs 91, Lakers 79-- San Antonio shot under 39% for third time in four games vs LA this season, but won easily. Dwight Howard had 15 rebounds, but none on offensive end. Laker bench had two hoops (2-8) in a combined 56 minutes. Spur bench was 13-31 in 79 minutes.
11) Heat 110, Bucks 87-- Milwaukee was -13 in 15:00 Brandon Jennings was off court, -9 in 33:00 he played. It would be really surprising if the Heat loses a game in this series. Bucks are now 38-45 this season. Miami's only worry in this series is avoiding getting someone hurt.
10) Thunder 120, Rockets 91-- No chance #1 seed Oklahoma City takes it easy on Rockets, not with former teammate Harden star of Houston team; in four meetings this season, OC has scored 120-124-119-120 points vs Rocket team that just doesn't match up well here. It would help to defend a little.
9) Not sure what the Mets see in Ike Davis; he was pathetic for the first half of last year, but started hitting once they fell out of the race, so people were still high on him. This season, he has come up with 45 men on base, and knocked in three of them, thats three out of 45.
He's knocked in two of eight runners from 3rd base, and a combined 1 of 37 from 1st and 2nd base; this is a corner infielder we're talking about!!!!
8) By way of contrast, John Buck has knocked in 15 of 46 runners (32.6%), David Wright 12 of 45 (26.7%) and Daniel Murphy 10 of 38 (26.3%).
7) In case you were wondering, Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips has come up with the most men on base (73); he's knocked in 16 of them (21.9%).
6) Mets had Ron Darling Bobblehead Day Sunday, on a day when their former pitcher/current TV analyst was out of town working a game on TBS. Shouldn't you have the day when Darling is actually there, seeing as he is there most of the time? Just seemed odd.
5) I'm a big fan of the Brewers' alternate gold jerseys, which I think they only wear on Sundays at home. Very sharp.
4) Ryan Howard's lack of mobility at first base hurts the Phillies, to the point of being a glaring weakness. He just doesn't move well at all.
3) From 2005-08, Jose Reyes played in 161-153-160-159 games for Mets; since then, starting in '09, he's played in 36-133-126-160 games, and now is out until the All-Star break in Toronto. Part of being great is durability; Reyes' latest injury was his fault because he was indecisive on a slide and his ankle collapsed. His lack of durability is undermining his career.
2) Barry Zito's starts this season:
April 5, vs St Louis-- 7 IP, three hits, no runs, W1-0.
April 10, vs Colorado-- 7 IP, seven hits, no runs, W10-0.
April 16, @ Milwaukee- 2.2 IP, eight hits, nine runs, L10-8.
April 21, vs San Diego-- 7 IP, five hits, no runs, W5-0.
I'm thinking he prefers pitching at home.
1) NFL schedule makers know stuff: Jets-Buccaneers in Week 1 is no coincidence, as Bucs acquired Darelle Revis from Gang Green Sunday, for the 13th pick in this week's draft, and a conditional 2014 pick. Nothing like little added intrigue to the league's opening weekend.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.........
13) First thing I thought of when Daniel Nava hit his game-winning 8th inning HR Saturday was when Mike Piazza hit a similar game-winner for the Mets after baseball resumed in September of 2001. Just an outburst of emotion from an excited crowd; quite a moment.
12) Astros' starter Philip Humber gave up eight runs in the first inning Saturday, third time this week Houston's starter didn't finish second inning. Going to be a very long summer for Astro skipper Bo Porter.
11) Bad night for Indian starter Scott Kazmir, making his first big league start in two years, and in his hometown; when your team gives you a 14-0 lead in second inning and you don't last five innings to get the win, its a bad night. Kazmir allowed six runs in 3.1 IP, throwing 89 pitches.
10) Knicks 85, Celtics 78-- Boston bench was 0-7 from floor, scored total of four points, had plus/minus of -18; New York bench was 13-32, 33 points, -4. Knicks were -9 in 5:00 Felton was off floor, they miss steady Prigioni. C's scored only eight points in the fourth quarter, 25 in second half.
9) Nuggets 97, Warriors 95-- 37-year old Andre Miller is probably the best player coached by the late Rick Majerus, who would have been proud of his former star Saturday. Miller scored 18 4th quarter points as Denver won for 39th time in 42 home games, including last 24 in row.
8) Nets 106, Bulls 89-- Derrick Rose made $6,993,708 LY; I'm assuming he made more than that this season. Rose has been practicing 5-on-5 for over a month, would be nice if he actually played in a game. Willis Reed he ain't. I actually watched the 19-6 Indians-Astros game instead of this mess.
7) Clippers 112, Grizzlies 91-- Wonder what Mark Cuban thinks when he watches Lamar Odom try? Odom had to go to three high schools before he found one that would give him a diploma, he went to URI for ten days or so, but he's made over $110M in his NBA career. He is very talented, but seems more comfortable as a supporting role player. He helps the Clippers.
6) Made me sick listening to ESPN announcers say that Vinny Del Negro might have to get Clippers to Western Confeence finals in order to keep his job; when have the Clippers won more games? If LA loses to the Thunder in the next round, he's not a good coach? Who will they hire who is better?
5) Memphis coach Lionel Hollins is also a free agent after this season is over, but people seem to think the Grizzlies will bring him back, so at least someone has ounce of sense. Firing Hollins after they traded Rudy Gay would be an example of epic stupidity.
4) Dodgers lost their last six games, have been outscored 33-13.
3) Interleague play is an everyday thing because there are now 15 teams in each league, fueling speculation that the NL will adopt the DH; so far this season, NL teams have an 11-9 edge, with over 5-2 in games without the DH, 6-7 in games with a DH. Go figure.
2) Gonzaga big guy Kelly Olynyk, who started four games in his first two years but blossomed into a 17 ppg scorer this year, is bolting Gonzaga for the NBA- we wish him well, but have seen far too many kids like him leave school and disappear off the basketball map. Is he ready? Is one strong year enough to make him an NBA player?
If the kid is promised a top half of first round selection, then he's guaranteed $10M for three years and has to go, for the most part, but what if he stayed in school and sharpened his skills one more year? We'll never know.
1) Rutgers hired alum/former NBA player/coach Eddie Jordan this week, but his top returning scorer Eli Carter is transferring anyway, making it four of Knights' top six scorers who won't be back next season. Rutgers was 4-9 in Big East play with Carter playing, before he broke a bone in his leg, so not like he's Kevin Durant or something. Lot of these kids get bad advice and always think the grass is greener on the other side. It isn't.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a spring Saturday.....
13) Thanks to Ken Thomson and Sportsxradio for having me on as a guest Friday night; you can check the archive here. If you're interested in being a better bettor, this show is a great place to get the education to improve your handicapping. I know it helps me.
12) So while I'm on the air, I'm watching Colorado-Arizona, and Jhoulys Chacin is throwing a shutout for the Rockies and my fantasy team; then he pulls an oblique, and I have to bite my damn tongue so I don't curse into the phone. Baseball players get hurt an awful lot.
11) Stumbled across this fact today and it hit me; this is how great Lebron James is: four years ago, the Cavaliers were 66-16. Now? Not so much. In last three years, thats three years, they're 64-166.
10) When you see a game with no walks, 19 strikeouts, you know the umpire helps the pitchers. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Doug Eddings. Under is 13-8 in his last 21 games behind the plate.
9) Dwight Howard is a free agent this summer; there is no way on God's green earth I would pay him max money to be the best player on my team. My best player has to make his teammates better, has to be coachable, and in a perfect world, would make at least half his free throws.
8) I'm a little behind with my movie watching, because all I watch are games and CSI reruns, but saw The Bucket List while I was writing tonight, and it is a very good movie. Well worth two hours of your time. OK, so its a six-year old movie, I told you I was behind on my movie watching.
7) Cleveland Browns have been around for 14 years since NFL gave them an expansion team; they're been 1-0 once. Once. 2004. I'm thinking they can beat the Dolphins this year and make it twice, but we'll see how they draft next week. New OC Norv Turner will improve their quarterback play.
6) Cam Cameron is the offensive coordinator at LSU? NFL guys are way ahead of college coaches, right? Zach Mettenberger for the Heisman?
5) Duke promoted Nate James to replace Chris Collins as assistant coach of the basketball team; all of Coach K's assistant coaches are former Duke players, except for his Director of Ops, who is his freakin' son-in-law. Is this a good idea? Who would ever say no to him if it was necessary?
Before you tell me it would never be necessary, I'll point you to State College and Penn State-- Joe Paterno needed a strong voice to point him in the right direction and he didn't have one when he needed one most.
4) Good grief, ESPNU has run out of decent programming; they're actually showing Duke's spring football game. Would be better TV if they showed the Manning brothers working out at Duke with Wes Welker this spring.
3) At risk of being Captain Obvious, policemen/firemen are extremely courageous humans. Imagine being the guys who found the bomber hiding in that boat in Boston? Quite a story they have to tell.....
2) Speaking of that boat, if the people who own it wanted to sell it to a collector, how much you think they could get for it? Its a piece of American history, for sure-- I'm thinking they could get a small fortune for it.
1) The poor people who lost relatives/friends this week, both in Boston and west Texas, how do you come to grips with all this? Why does it happen? Who does stuff like this? I mean, an 8-year old died, for the love of Pete.
Its been a wild week, and I hope I never see another one like it.
Friday's List of 13: Initial thoughts on NFL Draft..........
13) Defending champ Ravens are already a 9.5-point underdog at Denver in their season opener; Baltimore is opening on the road because the Orioles wouldn't move their Sept. 5 game to a day game to accomodate parking near the two ballparks in downtown Baltimore.
Ravens have one home game between Sept 22 and Nov 10, with four road games, a bye and a home tilt with Green Bay in there. Three of their last five games are in primetime.
12) Chip Kelly will be the most interesting rookie head coach this year, as he replaces Andy Reid in Philly and inherits a QB controversy. Eagles are opening the season with the Redskins; tough stretch for them is Weeks 4-6, when they're on road three weeks in row, at Broncos-Giants-Bucs. If they go 1-2 in that stretch, its not so bad.
11) Reid's return to Philly won't take long; Chiefs have a Week 3 Thursday night game on NFL Network at Lincoln Financial Field.
10) NFL must think Jets are trading Darrelle Revis to the Bucs, because those two teams play each other in season opener at Swamp Stadium, second year in row former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano brings his team to the Garden State.
9) Six divisional games in Week 1; Eagles-Redskins are the first of two Monday night games, along with Texans-Chargers.
8) Eight of the Thursday night games are divisional matchups, which is a good idea, given the short prep time. Chargers-Broncos Dec 12 is a possible snow game in the Mile High City, bad news for San Diego.
7) Bills-Patriots start and finish the season against each other, as all Week 17 games are divisional rivalry games. New England has the maximum five primetime games, including Sunday night games with Atlanta/Denver.
6) Networks wrestle over these marquee matchups; FOX won the battle for the RGIII-Peyton (Denver-Washington) matchup, probably only one there will ever be, which is also Mike Shanahan's return to Denver in Week 8.
Shanahan, by the way, is 15-4 in season openers. Redskins don't play the Giants until Week 13.
5) Steelers won their last ten home openers (8-2 vs spread); they open with the Titans this season, should be hefty favorites.
4) How anxious you think Sean Payton is to get back on the field? Saints open with division rivals Falcons/Bucs. New Orleans-Carolina don't play until Week 14, then play again two weeks later.
3) Week 4, Dolphins-Saints. Once upon a time, Drew Brees was going to sign with Miami as a free agent, but the Dolphins' coach at the time decided to sign Daunte Culpepper instead. Whoops.
You may have heard of that coach, who has since moved on.
2) Week 12, Colts at Cardinals. Bruce Arians coaches Arizona now, but he was interim coach of the Colts LY, when Chuck Pagano was ill. Indy filled Arians' spot with Pep Hamilton, who was Andrew Luck's OC at Stanford.
1) Thanksgiving Day is always fun; this year, its Packers-Lions, Raiders-Cowboys during the day, then Steelers-Ravens at night.
Next week its the NFL Draft; pro football doesn't have much of an offseason anymore. Who do you think the #1 pick will be?
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) I’m a 53-year old guy who loves the NFL; to me, Pat Summerall is and always will be an icon, a man whose calm demeanor graced the TV airwaves for decades, on football, golf and tennis.
When he called a Ram game, I knew the game was more important than most games. He called action with enthusiasm and humor while allowing the game to be the thing, none of this “Look at me!!!” BS that’s way too prevalent nowadays. RIP Mr Summerall. Thanks for everything.
12) NFL releases its 2013 schedule Thursday at 8; always interesting things to talk about after that comes out, and we’ll be doing that in this space on Friday. Speaking of which.......
11) ....... Friday night at 10:35 ET, yours truly will be a phone-in guest on Sportsxradio.com, America’s finest radio sports talk show, heard in 12 states and British Columbia on 50,000-watt KDWN 720 in Las Vegas. Host Ken Thomson and Chuck Edel are very knowledgeable handicappers—it’ll be a fun, informational segment of sports radio.
10) When one of your fantasy pitchers is on the hill with umpire John Hirschbeck behind the plate, it’s a good day for you. Hirschbeck called 31 strikes for Doug Fister Tuesday night, two more called strikes than any other pitcher has gotten a game this season (see table above).
9) Cancellation of Pacer-Celtic game Tuesday night also canceled season over/under win tickets on wagers purchased at some casinos in Las Vegas, which state that all 82 games have to be played for the wager to be valid. Other casinos stipulate that teams only need to play 80 (out of 82) games for action to be good.
8) Interesting story on cbssports.com about how USC’s new basketball coach Andy Enfield was commenting to a co-worker and a reporter how he wished his office was a little bigger, so he could have recruits’ families visit in there, and before the day was over, workers were knocking a wall out to give his office added space. Must be nice to have resources.
7) Loyola-Chicago is replacing Creighton in the MVC; not much recent tradition at Loyola, but they were a national power in the early 60’s and the school is in Chicago, so they should be able to recruit well. Then again, so is DePaul and look what a mess they are.
6) FIU replaced Richard Pitino with Norfolk State’s Anthony Evans, the guy who beat Missouri as a 15-seed last year. Evans recruits a lot in New York City; he will be FIU's third head coach in three seasons.
5) Loyola, Md replaced Jimmy Patsos with GG Smith, son of Tubby; Greyhounds are moving into the Patriot League, which is probably at least part of why Patsos jumped ship.
4) UNLV lost assistant coach/recruiter Justin Hutson to San Diego State, which is where he used to work. Hutson thought going to UNLV would help him land a head coaching gig, but it hasn’t worked out.
3) Oklahoma State became a top 15 basketball team for next year when Marcus Smart (somewhat surprisingly) announced he’ll be back in Stillwater next winter. Very good news for Travis Ford, not such good news for the rest of the Big X. Good news for college basketball.
2) Lakers beat Houston in OT, so they'll be the #7 seed in the west and play San Antonio in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
1) Good ending to a 14-inning game in Seattle, with Tigers throwing out the tying run at the plate to end the game after a double by Dustin Ackley.
Wednesday's List of 13: Some of our favorite events of the year........
There are certain things we look forward to each year which give our year a rhythm, a pace we’re used to. Here are some of my favorite sports-related events each year………
13) Australian Open on TV, January—When you’re up late at night writing about and handicapping basketball, always good to have some live TV on to keep you company. This is probably the only tennis tournament I’ll watch all year, but it is good stuff.
12) NFL schedule getting released—the old Viking coach Bud Grant always said, “Its not who you play, its when you play them.” Seeing the regular season, who gets what primetime games, the difficult schedule spots the league puts the better teams in, its always an interesting night when the schedule comes out.
Its also fun when the Las Vegas sportsbooks put lines out for every game from Weeks 1-16, so people can speculate in the spring/summer what will be happening in the fall. Not as easy as it sounds.
11) When our keeper league fantasy baseball draft starts, whenever they drop the green flag at the Daytona 500 (unrelated events, just a milestone that winter is almost over).
The original 18-team, 24-player per team draft took 82 days to complete eight years ago; the shorter drafts now last a week or so.
10) You can make a solid argument now that Thanksgiving weekend is the best sports weekend of the year: late season NFL games, rivalry games in college football, some of the better pre-conference college basketball games, plus coconut custard pie and cranberry sauce. Whats not to like?
9) British Open—My favorite golf tournament because I’m out in Las Vegas that weekend and the TV coverage comes on at like 4am out there and it totally ruins whatever sleep patterns have existed until that part of the trip. By time tournament ends, I’m clueless as to what time it is, what day it is, but I know vacation is almost over.
8) NBA Summer League—Same July trip in Vegas is the showcase league for both NBA teams and all the overseas leagues that sign American players. Usually spend 2-3 full days watching games.
Underrated and surprisingly inexpensive fun.
7) Daily routine of baseball—From 7pm-1am Monday-Saturday from April until Labor Day, you’ll probably find me in front of the TV/laptop following baseball; in September football joins in too.
Something about the daily routine of it that makes it special, gives life a timeline to follow every day.
6) College football Saturdays—From noon til 2am every Saturday from Labor Day until early December, listen to bands and watch lot of football. Vegas casinos are great during college football; people coming from all over to back their favorite teams. I’ve been to games at Penn State, Tennessee, South Carolina; the tailgating experience is really something, and by that I mean its way better in warmer weather!!!!
5) Stanley Cup playoffs—Any overtime game in hockey is tremendous drama; this sport is best suited for the best-of-7 format, unlike the NBA, which would be better off with a best-of-3 format. Hockey playoffs are great fun, especially if you’ve ever hung out in a sportsbook with women from Vancouver watching the Canucks play.
4) Minor league baseball is underrated fun, whether over the river here in Troy (Astros’ Class A team) or Las Vegas (Mets’ AAA team). Inexpensive tickets, hot dogs; what could be better?
3) College basketball Championship Week—Wall-to-wall game for 3-4 days, all with tremendous meaning. In some ways, Championship Week is more fun than the NCAA tournament; certainly has lot more action.
2) NFL Sundays—When the Rams are good, NFL Sundays are the pinnacle of any week for me, but even in lean years, they’re great fun. Only reason I have DirecTV is so I can have the NFL Sunday Ticket in my house, that’s how much fun it is.
First weekend of NCAA tournament— the best four days of the sports year, simple as that.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) What would inspire some jackass(es) to set off bombs in a public place? An 8-year old kid was killed in Boston Monday, after two bombs went off near the Boston Marathon. Why?
12) People like that deserve to be executed on national TV; would that be a deterrent? Couldn't hurt.
11) One of the stranger customs in sports is 11am Patriots’ Day game at Fenway Park every April. Patriots Day is a state holiday in Massachusetts and Maine; they run the Boston Marathon that day, the Bruins usually play a home game that night and the Red Sox play at 11 that morning.
I’m wondering if the visiting team has to approve that on the schedule before they’re slotted in to play that day?
10) Interesting debate on Twitter Monday as to who the best #10 in NFL history is; most said Fran Tarkenton; some had Eli Manning and a few down south had Steve Bartkowski. Eli still has some work to do, could wind up as the #1 guy there, but I’d go with Tarkenton right now.
9) Mets got snowed out for second day in a row; their day/night twinbill might get snowed out Tuesday in Denver.
8) You know you're on tilt when Peter Bourjos homers against you in Fantasy baseball; thats just not right. Guy can't hit.
7) Masters TV ratings were up 26% from LY; have to think Eldrick Woods’ drama helped bigtime on Saturday, then the closeness of the finish late Sunday, coupled with gloomy conditions, made for interesting viewing. Wonder what ratings would’ve been if Eldrick withdrew Saturday morning?
6) Nike is actually selling “Leon Sandcastle” Chiefs jerseys before the NFL Draft. Sandcastle is the fictional character played by Deion Sanders in Nike commercials this past winter/spring. Who would buy one?
5) Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter are latest college stars to bolt school early; no one stays in school long anymore. I’m thinking kids should be able to go right from high school to the NBA. Seems like a better system that way.
4) Jeff Van Gundy was saying Sunday how there is a stigma attached to NBA prospects who play four years of college ball; in other words, if you were any good, you’d have come out of college early. If that’s true, and he would know, then that’s pretty freakin’ sad.
3) If the Utah Jazz miss the playoffs by a game, they’ll look back on two home games they lost to the Clippers by total of three points, games they led at one time by 14-19 points. It’s a long NBA season, has to sting to miss the playoffs by such a narrow margin.
2) A 42-year old fan shot and killed himself on the infield at the NASCAR race in Texas Saturday, a race that was sponsored by the National Rifle Association. Damn.
1) As if this world isn’t bizarre enough, my father reports that at church this week, the priest asked women to bring their purses with them when they came up to the altar for communion, since thieves are pilfering purses during Communion at various churches around town. Seriously.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) If I was adivising Eldrick Woods Saturday morning, and was being totally selfish as to what would help Woods the most in the long run, I would've told him to withdraw this weekend. Would've helped his public image a great deal, and how he is viewed by other players.
Obviously, that stuff doesn't matter to him, but it might someday.
12) Those green/white umbrellas you saw all over Augusta Sunday?: $45 a pop in the pro shop. In fairness, food concessions are way cheaper there than at most sporting events, maybe cheaper than at any other event.
11) HBO Real Sports should do a feature next year on what Gary McCord does during Masters week; he's been exiled off air because he made fun of the speed of some of the greens. Free speech doesn't exist at Augusta.
10) Anaheim Angels moved print media from behind the plate to down the rightfield line, which has upset the media. Angels are putting a restaurant behind the plate, where the press area used to be. Don't want to be annoying the media when you're off to a 4-8 start.
9) Miller Park in Milwaukee has a retractable roof; it really helps attendance in a cold weather area; why the hell didn't the Twins put a roof over Target Field? Conditions were dreadful for baseball this weekend, and they would've avoided a Sunday rainout with the Mets.
8) Phillies gave Jimmy Rollins the day off Sunday; it is odd to me that some teams put the sub into the same spot in the batting order as the regular. For instance, Rollins bats second for Philly; Freddie Galvis batted second in Sunday's game. Why would you want him batting second, just so the other players are always batting in the same spot in the order? Wow.
7) Speaking of the Phillies, Roy Halladay won his 200th game Sunday; next up for 200 wins is Tim Hudson, one of my favorites from when he pitched for the A's. Halladay has 102 career losses, Hudson 104.
6) Cincinnati led 5-0 in 7th inning Sunday, lost 10-7 to the Pirates, as Bucs swept the weekend series in Pittsburgh.
5) Cardinal pitcher Shelby Miller induced 70 swings on his 113 pitches vs Milwaukee Friday night; 42 of the 70 swings resulted in foul balls, more foul balls than I've ever seen one pitcher get. 70 swings is also a lot; of the 14 balls Milwaukee put in play, only one was a hit. Wow.
4) Miami's Kevin Slowey has a 2.09 ERA in three starts, but teammates scored a total of one run in the three games. Same thing for Philip Humber in Houston; Astros scored one run in losing his first three starts.
3) Chicago Cubs threw five wild pitches in one inning Sunday, then blew a lead in the 9th inning, losing 10-7 to the Giants. Hunter Pence hit a homer with two outs/two strikes in top of 9th to tie the game.
2) Atlantic-16 lost Temple/Charlotte and will likely lose Dayton/Saint Louis, but they've added George Mason, are likely to add Davidson as a member for the 2014-15 season. This conference juggling may never end.
1) There were odd stories flying around Sunday how former Rutgers coach Mike Rice was coaching his daughter's 7th grade AAU team, and giving refs a ton of grief during the game, like he was coaching a Big East game. One ref told a reporter he would've given Rice two technicals, if it had been a high school game. Someone needs to send Rice on a relaxing vacation somewhere.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Listening to The Masters on TV has become disturbing, since there is obviously a gag order on any criticism of the course. Gary McCord made some wiseass comments (thats what he gets paid to do) a few years back, and hasn't been seen at Augusta since.
When you can almost hear the announcers walking on eggshells so they keep their jobs, it makes for bad TV, to the point where the mute button is the preferable option. Nick Faldo spoke his mind Saturday morning on the Golf Channel, but by 3:10 on CBS, he was towing the company line that letting Eldrick Woods play was the right thing to do.
At least Saturday morning was good TV, when it was out of the hands of some of the strangest people in America, the members at Augusta National.
12) Bottom line is this: TV ratings would've crashed if Eldrick Woods had WD or been DQ'd, and no one benefits from that, not CBS or the PGA Tour or the nitwits at Augusta. But from this point on, spare me the BS that golf is a game of honor moreso than other sports. Saturday proved otherwise.
11) Albert Pujols hit a walk-off double as Angels scored twice in the 8th, twice in the 9th to nip Houston 5-4, avoiding a 2-9 start, and also ending the Astros' three-game winning streak.
10) This is how my sports weekend has been: one of the ballgames showed a graphic with these three faces on it:
-- Jose Reyes, my fantasy SS, out three months (ankle).
-- Giancarlo Stanton, my fantasy RF, out for weekend (shoulder)
-- Yoenis Cespedes, A's LF, on 15-day DL (hand).
9) Indiana has 14 basketball players signed up for scholarships for 2013-14; problem is, they can only give out 13, so before next fall, someone will have to get the boot, or magically become ineligible. Last year at this time, Indiana had 15 kids for 13 spots; one sub transferred out, another flunked out.
Its a shady way of doing business, but also generally accepted.
8) Cullen Neal was all set to play PG for St Mary's next year, until his dad Craig became the head coach at New Mexico, so now the younger Neal will also be a Lobo. Bad news for the Gaels, who lose Matthew Dellavedova to graduation and need a point guard.
7) Philip Humber pitches for Houston Sunday; Kevin Slowey pitches for Miami. Its third start of season for both guys; their team was shut out in each of their first two starts. Hope they get some support Sunday.
6) Only six of 30 starting pitchers finished the 7th inning Saturday, with both Shields/Wainwright tossing complete games.
5) When I was a kid in the 70's, starting pitchers went much deeper into games, and closers generally got more more than three outs a game, so there were roster spots in the bullpen that weren't that important.
Nowadays, middle relievers are critical to a team's success, since starters generally only last six or so innings (100-110 pitches) and closers rarely are asked to get more than three outs. Those six outs in the 7th-8th innings are gotten now by guys who wouldn't have been on the mound 30-40 years ago, especially the 7th inning guys.
4) Glad Diamondbacks hired analyst Bob Brenly away from the Cubs; he's a regular guy who explains the game well-- never got that much of a chance to listen to him when he was in Chicago, since they play so many day games. The best TV broadcasts have a little laughter, a little discussion about current hot topics and a little silence to let the game breathe.
3) I love watching football. Spring football? Not so much.
Still think they should play exhibition games in full uniform and make some more money off the kids in the spring. Then I'd watch.
2) I can say it now: Papa John's pizza is the best pizza I've ever had.
1) Odds to win Masters, as of late Saturday night:
Snedeker 2-1, Scott 7-2, Cabrera 5-1, Woods 11-2, Day 7-1, Kuchar 10-1.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind..........
13) Ugly incident in San Diego late Thursday night, when Carlos Quentin charged the mound after being hit with a 3-2 pitch by Zack Greinke, who wound up with a broken collarbone.
Seeing as Greinke makes $147M over the next six years and Is an outstanding pitcher, this one won’t die down soon.
12) Earth to Mr Quentin: Pitchers don’t drill you with 3-2 pitches.
He may have hit you on purpose before, but not Thursday. No way. For the record, Quentin gets hit by pitches a higher percentage of the time than any other player in baseball.
11) We’ll find out who MLB thinks its best umpiring crew is Monday, when the Padres visit Chavez Ravine. Quentin got 8-game suspension from MLB, but is appealing, so as long as he doesn't drop the appeal before Monday night, he'll be in leftfield Monday. Tensions will be high.
10) Looks like the SEC is about to join the Big Dozen and Pac-12 by having its own TV network. Hope DirecTV picks this one up.
9) Police in Dubai drive Lamborghinis and BMWs as patrol cars. Just thought you should know.
8) In his Masters career, Sergio Garcia is -14 on Thursday/Friday, +21 on the weekend. Not the best trend for his chances this week.
7) Someone on ESPN had this stat: Carmelo Anthony had 53 touches Thursday in Chicago, only passed the ball 12 times, for one assist.
If you want the ball on that team, you better rebound his missed shots, and there aren’t that many of those. Either that, or be on the floor when Anthony is sitting out.
6) There is a terrific shot blocker who is a high school junior named Goodluck Okonoboh. Kid’s parents actually named him Goodluck. Yikes. Better than no luck at all, I guess.
5) Rutgers may have landed on its feet if they hire alum/former NBA head coach Eddie Jordan as its new basketball coach. Makes you wonder why didn’t go after him before.
Hope the new AD approves, since it looks like they may hire the coach first, which would be an unusual step, but a necessary one, with recruiting season well underway.
4) Saint Louis Billikens finally hired Jim Crews as its fulltime basketball coach, after he served as interim coach this season after the death of Rick Majerus. Took them long enough, which gave off the impression that they might not have been that enthusiastic about hiring the guy.
3) In a 52-card deck, there are 2,598,960 possible poker hands.
2) Texas PG Myck Kabongo, who didn’t become eligible this year until February 13, is going into the NBA Draft. How about staying in school and working on your craft and becoming good enough so that you’re a top 15 pick? Longterm, that’s the better plan. Who advises these kids?
1) Greedy bastard update: OK, so the Mobil station on corner of Wolf/Sand Creek in beautiful downtown Colonie is $3.85 a gallon; a half-mile down the road, the Hess station charges $3.72.
Is the Mobil gas that much better? Are the greedy bastards at Hess that much less greedy than the very greedy bastards at Mobil? Why is this? As lazy as I am, even I would drive a half-mile each way to save 13 cents a gallon.
Friday's List of 13: Thinking out loud with weekend here........
13) Not a big fan of The Masters; they jettisoned Gary McCord from CBS’ coverage years ago because he had to nerve to make a wisecrack about the course at Augusta National.
Think anyone else on this week's telecast will be anything but glowing in their reviews of the course? Me either. Get over yourself people, it’s a golf course, a really, really nice one, but still, that’s all it is.
12) Funniest thing any of us will see all week is the guy in charge of Augusta National pretending to be happy about the two female members the club has now, the first two females in club history. People at Augusta aren’t big on progress; they still use the same graphics they used 30 years ago, unlike all the other CBS golf telecasts.
11) In his career at The Masters, Eldrick Woods is +16 on the first hole, so he had to be somewhat happy to par the hole Thursday.
10) Dunkin’ Donuts is trying out a glazed donut egg sandwich; not even sure if I would eat that. Sausage/egg/cheese on an english muffin is excellent. Glazed donut might be a little bit too much, plus your hands get all sticky. Wasn’t crazy about the McGriddle, which sounds similar.
9) Of the 124 Division I-A college football teams, 45 have their spring game this weekend; 24 other teams have already had their spring game.
8) OK, so Lipscomb College beat FGCU twice in Atlantic Sun play, so you’d think they were pretty good right? Well, the Bisons went 12-18 this year and fired their coach the other day. Whoops.
7) Rutgers is highest-profile basketball coaching job still open, since Saint Louis looks like it will retain interim coach Jim Crews (but they haven’t made it official yet). Rest of the open jobs are low-to-mid majors, with FGCU the one that will most interesting to see who gets hired.
6) Dallas Mavericks are going to miss the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2000.
5) A’s backup 1B Nate Freiman is 6-8, played baseball at Duke; his wife (Amanda Blumenherst) plays on LPGA Tour. Nate has caddied for her eight times; imagine seeing a 6-8 caddy walking down the fairway?
4) Umpire Gerry Davis worked first base in Anaheim Wednesday, 4,000th career game in his 32 big league seasons. You know how I know he’s a good ump? He’s worked for 32 years and I have no idea what he looks like. Doesn’t get in a lot of arguments, is well-respected. The cruddy umps are always in arguments, always on TV, you know what they look like.
3) Barry Zito (3) has more hits than Jason Heyward (2). Surprising.
2) Over the last four years, umpire Laz Diaz has worked 38 games where the road team is favored; the favorite won 32 of the 38 games. Wow.
1) As bad as the Astros are, I see their plan; they’ll start to get better next year and in 2-3 years, will have built a quality foundation for the future. Look at the Marlins and Pirates and tell me what those teams’ plans are, especially Miami. Clueless. Feel bad for those fan bases; at least Marlin fans have those two World Series titles they can look back on.
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a spring day......
13) Arizona State basketball coach Herb Sendek got a lot smarter this week, when PG Jahii Carson announced he’s going back to ASU for this sophomore season. Sun Devils will be in the NCAA’s next March.
12) John Calipari is probably the best recruiter ever, right?
Kentucky already has an 8-man recruiting class for this year and if Andrew Wiggins, the country’s #1 recruit signs on with UK, it’ll be nine guys. I’m thinking anyone who was on this year’s team is going to have to fight like hell just to get minutes next year.
11) There is a movie being made where Kevin Costner is the GM of the Browns and Denis Leary the Browns' coach.
Leary as a football coach will be worth the $10 by itself.
10) Memo to DirecTV: I’ll trade you three soccer channels, two tennis channels, and a whole tier of Spanish language porn channels if you give us the Pac-12 Network. Please?
9) San Diego State assistant coach Tony Bland was making $120,000 with the Aztecs; now he’s moved on to work with Andy Enfield at USC and he’ll be making $300,000. Enfield was making $157,000 at FGCU.
8) Speaking of Enfield, he was a guest on The Tonight Show last night; his supermodel wife didn't come with him, maybe because one of the other guests was Charlie Sheen.
7) NBA scouts are unanimous that college basketball is more physical than the NBA; that needs to change. Wouldn’t take much, just call more fouls on the defense.
6) Par-3 tournament at Augusta on Wednesday of Masters week is pretty cool; Rory McIlroy had his girlfriend caddy for him, pretty good athlete in her own right, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
5) Indians manager Terry Francona lives two blocks from Progressive Field, the Indians ballpark, but he got lost walking there for the home opener Monday. Once he found his way to the park, Terry caught the ceremonial first pitch from his dad Tito, a former Indians player. Good moment.
4) The betting over/under for Eldrick Woods’ finish at Augusta this week: 4.5th place.
He finishes 4th and you play over, you win; he finishes 5th, you lose.
3) If you go to a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field and catch a homer hit by an Arizona player, you can have ball signed by him- pretty cool idea.
2) Red Sox' sellout streak of 820 games at Fenway Park came to an end Wednesday when 30,862 saw Boston lose to the Orioles 8-5, with Manny Machado hitting a dramatic three-run homer in the ninth inning, off Boston's new closer, Joel Hanrahan.
1) Kobe Bryant had 47 points as the Lakers won for only the third time in their last 15 visits to Portland, a pivotal win for their playoff hopes. Utah Jazz was rooting hard for the Blazers, but Lakers won 113-106.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random mid-week thoughts.....
13) Huge blow to the Angels, with Jered Weaver breaking his left elbow Sunday night while avoiding a line drive hit back through the box. He’s out 4-6 weeks. Halos have very little pitching depth.
12) If you have Speed Channel on your TV (think it is 607 on DirecTV), in August, you’re going to have FOX Sports 1, which FOX hopes will be a competitor to ESPN. They’re going to have a Monday night boxing program on Monday nights- ESPN used to do a lot of boxing.
11) Say It Ain’t So Dept: On the list of potential new coaches at Florida Gulf Coast is former Manhattan/Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez. Eagles don’t want to be going down that road, especially when former NBA coach Eric Musselman is also on the list. He'd be a pretty good choice. .
10) Most popular selling jersey in NFL last year? Rookie Robert Griffith III, with new Bronco Peyton Manning #2 and the retiring Ray Lewis #3.
9) Only once in the last 24 years (Michigan State ’00) has the Big Dozen won a national title in basketball.
8) Hofstra is hiring 56-year old Joe Mihalich as its new basketball coach, after Mihalich coached Niagara for the last 16 years. Iona had first tried to hire Iona coach Tim Cluess, a Hofstra alum, but he turned them down.
7) Jay-Z is selling his shares in the Nets and will be a working as an agent, basically recruiting players for the CAA agency. Not like he's going to be the guy negotiating contracts, but he will help in recruiting the talent.
6) Colorado pitcher Adam Ottavino wears number 0; can't remember a pitcher wearing that number before. Alex White/Kyle Drabek both had single digit numbers as pitchers, but both are hurt. Last big leaguer I can remember wearing #0 was the great hitter Al Oliver back in the 80's.
5) Sometimes you need to look more closely at stats; we see that Kevin Slowey is the first pitcher since 1988 to lose ten consecutive starts, which isn’t good, but if you look at his two starts this month, he is 0-2, 2.19, pretty good. The hideous Marlins got shut out both games, so Slowey loses both despite pitching well.
4) Cliff Lee has walked zero or no batters in each of his last 19 starts; its not only a record, its five starts longer than the previous record.
3) An average of 131.2 ppg were scored in NCAA tournament games this spring, the lowest average since the 3-pointer was legalized in the 80's.
2) Nation-wide, teams made 43.3% of their field goal attempts for the season, the lowest percentage made since 1965.
1) NCAA said that Louisville couldn’t take the men’s hoop team to New Orleans for the finals of the womens’ tournament Tuesday night, which made me think: How much does Werner Ladder pay to be the official ladder of the NCAA tournament, and who gets that money?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
Louisville 82, Michigan 76-- Really fun game to watch; teams went at it to the point where it became a tough game to officiate. The eight subs who played in this game combined to 9-11 from the arc. Kind of amazing.
12) I'm not big on cameras in locker room at halftime of a game; Michigan doesn't need that kind of exposure for recruiting. Also hoping the good part of John Beilien's halftime talk was off-camera, because what CBS showed wasn't very impressive. CBS has five guys sitting at a table waiting to talk at halftime- let them talk, let the teams make adjustment out of the public eye.
11) CBS has to do something about Clark Kellogg, let him work games during the week on CBS College Sports or something, because working one game or week, he's become a terrible analyst who does nothing but try and yell like Dick Vitale. Seriously, I didn't listen to the second half, just hit the mute button and listened to a radio sports talk show with earplugs.
10) When you’re watching the draft, remember that Tom Brady was taken in the 6th round, Joe Flacco was taken #16 in the ’08 draft, Dan Marino was the 6th QB taken in ’83, Kurt Warner wasn't drafted. Despite all the time and money that goes into it, scouting/drafting remains an inexact science.
9) Major league baseball teams who walk more batters than they strike out are 1-10 so far this season; teams that don’t walk any batters are 7-4.
Just like any other sport, teams that win make opponents earn whatever they get. Teams that lose give away a lot.
8) According to some database I saw on Twitter today and forgot to write down where it was from, Mike Krzyzewski earned $2.3M more ($7.2M+) than any other coach in America this year; Rick Pitino, at around $4.9M, was second. Top six earners are listed in the box on top of this page.
7) Hall of Fame basketball classic next fall: Louisville-North Carolina. Pretty good game. Defending champs against a rebuilding Tar Heel team.
6) Oakland Raiders, thanks to the ill-fated Carson Palmer trade, have one draft pick in the first 65 selections this year. Things start getting better financially for the Silver and Black after this season.
5) If the AD at Rutgers got $1.2M to leave, why did he take his IPad too? Is there something on there he doesn’t want people to see? IPads cost $500 or so; he got $1.2M to go away. He could afford another one.
4) Lebron James earned $17.6M from the Miami Heat LY; he earned another $40M off the court. Wow.
3) They packed 80,676 humans into Swamp Stadium in New Jersey Sunday night for Wrestlemania 29, with fans from all 50 states and 34 countries (how do they know this?). Amazing.
2) Want a sleeper QB for the NFL Draft in two weeks? Mike Glennon of NC State; after all, Tom O’Brien put his coaching career on the line (and eventually lost his job) when he cut Russell Wilson loose before his senior year so that Glennon could start for two seasons. Have to think the kid has pro ability—O’Brien got fired after a 7-5 season that wasn’t the QB’s fault.
1) Went out at noon Monday to the park in front of the building where I work to buy some lunch; 30-ish guy hands me a pamphlet and says “God loves you.” Pamphlet says, “Hope for Hard Times.”
Dude must’ve followed my college basketball picks this winter. Go figure.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) Rick gets Richer Dept: Not only did Louisville win Saturday, and not only did Rick Pitino get elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame this weekend, but a horse Pitino co-owns named Goldencents won the Santa Anita Derby and collected a cool $750,000, becoming eligible for the Kentucky Derby.
12) Excellent idea by the NCAA, having the D-II and D-III title games held on Sunday in the Final Four city. Kids at those levels work just as hard, maybe harder, and deserve to be in the spotlight more.
11) RA Dickey allowed five first-inning runs all last season; Red Sox had five runs Sunday, before Dickey got anyone out.
10) Is Rick Adelman the most underrated coach in the history of team sports? He is 1,000-703 as an NBA coach, coaching in Portland-Minnesota-Houston-Sacramento and Oakland, not exactly the Lakers/Celtics, but doubt most fans could pick him out of a lineup. Adelman played on the same team with the San Diego Rockets as another pretty good coach, Pat Riley.
9) Chances are Astros will deal ace starter Bud Norris later this summer; they're so awful right now, dealing Norris would further replenish their farm system- Norris can get them some significant young talent if they trade him, but if they let him throw 122 pitches many more times, way he did Saturday against Oakland, he'll get hurt before they can trade him.
8) Mets' Jon Niese has lasted 6+ innings in his last 22 starts, the longest such active streak in the major leagues.
7) Had my first-ever Papa John's pizza Saturday; they advertise so much on TV, but I hadn't had one until this weekend. Very good, way better than Domino's, better than the local independent pizza place, too. Thumbs up for the boneless chicken poppers they're selling.
6) Hard to believe, but in the ten years since the Raiders lost to the Bucs in the Jon Gruden Super Bowl, Oakland is 49-111. Now they have another new QB but at least they'll have the same coach this year. Hey, its a start.
5) NHL Winter Classic next January 1 in Ann Arbor- Toronto-Detroit, which figures to have the biggest crowd in NHL history.
A Michigan-Michigan State game in the Big House drew 104,173 back in '10; I'm guessing the NHL can figure out how to break that record.
4) Rough day for some star pitchers Sunday:
-- Matt Cain, 3.2 IP, nine runs allowed in a 14-3 loss.
-- Stephen Strasburg, six runs in 5.1 IP in a 6-3 loss.
-- RA Dickey, eight runs allowed in 4.2 IP in a 13-0 loss.
-- David Price, eight runs in five IP in another 13-0 loss.
-- Justin Verlander, three runs in 7.1 IP in a 7-0 loss.
-- Cole Hamels, eight runs in 5.2 IP in a 9-8 loss.
-- Jered Weaver, five runs in five IP in a 7-3 loss. Weaver also hyperextended his left elbow avoiding a line drive and left the game early.
3) Not sure where Rutgers will turn for a new basketball coach, but it apparently will not be to Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley, who said he is going to stay with the Rams. There are rumors that Ben Howland would listen if Rutgers called- no way they'll get a better coach than him.
2) If the NBA playoffs started today, matchups would look like this:
East: Miami-Milwaukee, New York-Boston, Indiana-Atlanta, and Brooklyn-Chicago.
West: San Antonio-Utah, Oklahoma City-Houston, Denver-Golden State and Clippers-Memphis.
1) Congrats to the Clippers, who won their first division title in franchise history Sunday, beating the Lakers for the 4th time in four tries this season. No one will remember they won the division, however, unless they advance far into the playoffs. People are funny that way.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Louisville is either a 3.5 or 4-point favorite Monday night, depending on where you get your lines; should be noted that favorites are 10-3 against the spread in last 13 national championship games.
12) Since 1998, #1 seeds are 5-1 vs spread in national title games when facing a lower seed, winning all six games; last #1 to lose a final to a lower seed was when 4-seed Arizona upset Kentucky in '97 as a 6.5-point underdog.
11) Louisville 72, Wichita 68-- This game swung when Tim Henderson, a walk-on, hit a pair of 3's with 13:01, 12:22 left, cutting a 47-35 Wichita St. lead in half. Gorgui Dieng played 30 minutes, took one shot, didn't score.
10) Michigan 61, Syracuse 56-- Hardaway/Burke combined to go 5-24 from floor, Wolverines left door open for Syracuse in last minute, but scored the last four points to advance. This game was little disappointing. Syracuse got very little from Southerland (2-9 from floor).
9) My cousin KL Wheat is holding a ticket on Michigan to win the whole thing at 18-1, so good luck to him with that Monday night. Have to find out when he bought that ticket, because Wolverines were 6-6 in their last twelve games going into the NCAAs.
8) Michigan sub Josh Bartlestein never plays for the Wolverines; his dad is player agent Mark Bartlestein, who has lot of prominent clients, one of whom is two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner.
7) Red Sox pitcher John Lackey hurt his arm in his first start since 2011, as Toronto beat the Red Sox 5-0. Lackey threw 76 pitches in 4.1 innings.
6) BJ Upton hit a game-tying homer in ninth inning, then his brother Justin hit a walk-off shot in same inning, as Atlanta beat the Cubs 6-5.
5) Phillies had three hits all night, but scored three runs in ninth inning off KC closer Greg Holland stunned the Royals 4-3.
4) A's have lost their last nine season openers, but at least this year they are having a good first week, raising their record to 4-2 with a 6-3 win over the Astros in Houston. Oakland is first team this year to use six starting pitchers, as Bartolo Colon was activated in time to pitch Saturday's game.
3) Mets' catcher John Buck is second in big leagues with nine RBI.
2) Can a player from the 29-47 Wizards be NBA MVP this year? John Wall had 37 points as Washington beat the Pacers by 19- they're 22-17 at home, and over .500 overall since Wall got healthy.
1) Underrated franchise; the Denver Nuggets are 35-3 at home this year.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
Jerry Tarkanian will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield in September; very much deserved, very good news. His UNLV teams were the face of college basketball in the early 90’s, and he also won big before that at Long Beach State.
You win over 80% of your games, it’s a no-brainer to get in the Hall of Fame. Took some people entirely too long to figure that out.
12) There are rumors afloat that Miami Marlins’ home opener Monday might only draw 15,000 or so people, in a brand-new domed stadium; not sure how, but former used car dealer Alan R. Selig has to rid baseball of Jeffrey Loria. He’s a menace.
11) Rutgers fired its AD Friday (technically, he quit, but seriously…….), which is horrible news for the basketball program, since you have to hire an AD before a coach and April is a prime recruiting month.
If a basketball coach isn’t in place 10 days from now, and chances are he won’t be, it sets recruiting back an entire year, and the last thing Rutgers needs is to fall further behind in recruiting.
10) Word has it Rutgers’ #1 coaching target will be URI’s Danny Hurley, but he’s only been at Rhode Island for a year, and not a very good year at that. Realistically, if you’re Hurley (a Seton Hall alum), if he coaches another year at URI, shows progress and Seton Hall doesn’t progress much next year, he can probably go back and coach at his alma mater.
9) Week 3, NFL preseason, Saturday night primetime: Rams at Broncos. This is good news, someone at CBS thinks the Rams have potential.
Either that, or they wanted an excuse to air more of those Peyton Manning commercials, as if there aren't enough on TV already.
8) This seems hard to believe but apparently it is true: ESPN.com says that Orioles’ 1B Chris Davis is first player ever to knock in 3+ runs in each of his team’s first four games. No one ever did that before? Wow. Davis hit a grand slam Friday, now has 16 RBI after four games.
7) Conference musical chairs isn’t limited to the big boys: Illinois-Chicago goes from Horizon League to take Creighton’s place in the MVC; Oakland takes UIC’s place in the Horizon.
6) TV ratings for the NCAA tournament are up 13% from LY, and are as high as they’ve been overall since 2005.
5) As far as I can remember, Thursday night was first time ESPN paired Bill Raftery/Bob Knight together in a 3-man booth at the NIT, in what was probably Knight’s last broadcast for ESPN (guy who originally hired Knight has left ESPN).
Raftery actually drew a small amount of personality out of the former Indiana coach, but Knight just wasn’t very good on TV. If he is indeed done behind the mike, he won’t be missed much.
4) Why do teams videotape practices anyway? Are there enough hours in the day to review them? Do these coaches ever sleep? Seems like overkill.
3) Transfer news: UNLV loses Mike Moser to Washington, NC State loses Rodney Purvis is off to UConn. Moser can play for U-Dub next season.
2) Somewhere out in the Arizona desert, former Arizona State football coach Frank Kush probably thinks Mike Rice was too easy on his Rutgers hoop team. Kush was infamous for not even letting his players have water breaks in practice, back in the old days when people didn’t realize (or didn’t care) that hydration is a necessity.
Speaking of football practices, why do college football teams practice more in the spring than NFL teams do? I’ve always wondered this. If they’re going to practice so much in the spring, why not play a couple of games, too?
1) Speaking of the Naismith Hall of Fame, how was Rick Pitino not in it already? I’m sure he’d much rather have a large wooden trophy handed to him Monday night, but he’ll take both. Could be a very excellent weekend for the Louisville coach.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) Is winning postseason NIT a predictor of future success? History tells us no. Of the last ten NIT champs, only three made the NCAAs the following year and of those three, only ’08 West Virginia team (lost in Sweet 16) won a game in the tournament the next season.
12) Wichita State won the NIT two years ago, but that was with a different group of kids than they have now. Shockers have six junior college players on this year's roster.
11) On the flip side, loser of the postseason NIT has made the NCAAs four of last five years, with ’10 Baylor and ’11 North Carolina losing in the regional finals.
10) Old Big East will now be called American Athletic Conference (the AAC), which puts it ahead of ACC in alphabetical listings, if that matters.
9) Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Cardinals in 16 innings Wednesday, game that ended around 3:15am in my house; then they flew all night and got to Milwaukee at dawn. Extra inning baseball games are excellent.
8) Houston Astros are only 4th team since 1910 with 15+ strikeouts in consecutive nine-inning games.
7) Courtesy of ESPN.com and Elias, most strikeouts for any big league team thru the first three games of a season: ‘13 Astros: 43, ‘66 California Angels: 36, ‘07 Braves: 34, ‘61 Phillies: 33.
6) We talked about Yu Darvish getting 27 swings/misses in his great game Tuesday; Matt Harvey of the Mets got 24 misses on 46 San Diego swings Wednesday night. That’s a lot of swings and misses.
5) Former Rutgers coach Mike Rice bagged a $100,000 bonus for finishing the season, even though he was suspended for a month during the season.
Seems like it the AD threw Rice a $100K severance package by not firing him in December. It might be hard for the AD to keep his job now, bad news for an athletic department heading for the Big Dozen next year.
4) OK, so if Jimmy Fallon is taking Jay Leno’s place, why does it have to wait until February? Why can’t they just do it next week? It’s a freakin’ talk show, just switch studios and be on with it.
3) Clippers have 50 wins for first time in franchise history; previous record was 49, set by the ’74-’75 Buffalo Braves, a team with Ernie D and Bob McAdoo, two bigtime stars at the time.
2) Tweet of the Day from CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyle: "Got a text from ex-Indiana manager under Knight: 'That same Rutgers video played out, over & over, at Assembly Hall.'" Alrighty then.
1) St Louis Rams need to retire Kurt Warner's #13 this season, maybe if they get a Thursday night home game on NFL Network, but #13 needs to be in the rafters at the Jones Dome.
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on another cold night.........
13) Quick math; if an agent’s take on a baseball player’s salary is 3% and that player makes $20M a year, the agent rakes in $600,000 a year for that player. If its 4%, its $800,000 a year. How much freakin’ money does Scott Boras make a year?
12) Yu Darvish induced a ridiculous 27 misses on 64 Astro swings Tuesday night, coming one out short of a perfect game. Next highest amount of misses induced this week was 18 Felix Hernandez got in Oakland Monday.
11) Over last six baseball seasons, if you bet $100 on the home team every time Lance Barksdale worked the plate, you would be 126-70, for a profit on $4,076. Not bad.
10) Where does Rutgers go from here? Its a state university within driving distance of NYC/Philly, so lot of good players nearby. They have no recent winning tradition (made Final Four in '76) but there is potential there for the right guy. They're a Big Dozen team now, don't forget.
9) Loyola Md is moving to the Patriot League, but coach Jimmy Patsos is staying in MAAC, having taken the Siena job. Good move by the Saints.
8) Pitt freshman center Stephen Adams is off to the pros, well before he is ready. Guess no one told him about Patrick O’Bryant, who led Bradley to the Sweet 16 a few years ago, got drafted in the top 10 by Golden State and has seldom been heard of since.
O'Bryant is now playing pro ball in Lithuania. Nothing against Lithuania, but if O’Bryant had stayed longer at Bradley, he might’ve stayed longer in NBA.
7) Speaking of Pitt, seems like their whole team has transferred; between the Panthers and NC State, going to be some inexperienced teams in the ACC next fall. Jamie Dixon might wish he took that USC job.
6) Four players also transferred from Tulane, including leading scorer Josh Davis; not sure if its because they were promised to play in the Big East and now they’re not going to, but Green Wave had a decent season this year at 20-15. This has to hurt.
5) 44,000 season tickets requests are waiting for whichever NBA team moves to Seattle, if one does. NBA doesn’t do lot of dumb things, but pulling the Sonics out of Seattle was one of the dumbest.
4) I’m a sucker for sausage and egg biscuits at McDonald’s, but they were out of biscuits Monday, so I had one on a McGriddle; not so good. Too sweet. Love my biscuits, though.
3) Old Dominion hired former Virginia/American coach Jeff Jones. ODU is moving to C-USA after a dismal last year in CAA; always wary when a school switches leagues because of football. CAA seemed like the right place for the Monarchs.
2) A’s drew 36,067 for the season opener, only 15,315 for Game 2; Astros drew 41,307 for their AL debut; only 22,673 saw Yu Darvish’s near-perfecto Tuesday.
1) What Mike Rice did at Rutgers is bad, but what Ed Rush did at the Pac-12 tournament was way worse; encouraging refs to screw Arizona because Rush doesn’t like Sean Miller is a fireable offense, at the very least, and no, I don’t think he was joking. Bullies seldom tell jokes.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.........
13) Disturbing story out west about how Pac-12 head of officials Ed Rush (a former NBA ref) made some negative comments about Arizona coach Sean Miller in a referees’ meeting that took place before the Pac-12 tourney; joking or not, fact is, Miller got hit with a T in last 5:00 of the Wildcats’ loss to UCLA in that tournament.
Best case scenario, it still makes the league look very, very bad.
12) Good news for Miller this week: top recruit Aaron Gordon signed on with Miller’s Wildcats, especially since Gordon’s older brother played for (new UCLA coach) Steve Alford at New Mexico.
11) Robinson Caro fired scumweasel agent Scott Boras, signed on with Jay-Z, a signal that he wants to re-sign with the Bronx Bombers, rather than sign on with whomever (Dodgers?) offered him most $$$ next winter.
10) Wait, Jay-Z is an agent? When did that happen?
Not sure how Jay-Z owns part of the Brooklyn Nets and is also an agent; probably as long as he doesn’t rep any NBA players, he can do both, but seeing as Brooklyn Net games are televised on YES Network, owned by the Bronx Bombers, it still reeks of a conflict of interest.
9) Odd stat from the first night of baseball; in the first 26 games this season, starting pitchers induced an average of 11.04 swings/misses per start. Starting pitcher who got the least swings/misses? Steven Strasburg, who got only two misses on 36 swings.
8) Two years ago, Raiders traded 1st/2nd round draft picks to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer, who went 8-16 in 24 games as the Oakland starter. Tuesday, they traded Palmer to the Cardinals….for a 7th round pick. Ouch.
Not too hard to figure out why the Raiders lose all the time.
7) Compare Palmer’s 8-16 record to the oft-scorned JaMarcus Russell, who went 7-18 as the Raiders’ signal caller. Not lot of difference there.
6) That said, Palmer is a huge upgrade over the suspects that played QB for Arizona LY, just as he was an upgrade over the previous Oakland QBs when he went there. Larry Fitzgerald has to be happy today.
5) 28.2% of the players on Opening Day baseball rosters were born outside the United States.
4) I read this and wanted to puke: WFAN has re-signed obnoxious, rude, lazy Mike Francesa as its drive-time talk show host for another four years, at $5M a year. Seriously, it makes me ill.
You could go into any bar in America and find five guys who know more than Francesa, who used to be sharp but is now a lazy 59-year old who knows a decent amount about the NFL but is otherwise clearly mailing it in.
3) Sportsxradio's Ken Thomson had Long Beach State basketball coach Dan Monson on his excellent talk show Monday night; when he asked Monson who was going to get the open Cal-Northridge job, Monson obviously didn’t want to talk about it.
Turns out Reggie Theus is the new head Matador, which is bad news for the rest of the Big West. Theus was a great player at UNLV, a very good player in the NBA, and won quickly in his short stint coaching New Mexico State; he is a terrific recruiter and will win at Northridge.
Only question about Theus is whether he wants to use Cal-Northridge as a springboard back to NBA- he used to coach the Kings, is currently coaching in the NDBL. Lot of people in Las Vegas wanted Theus to get the UNLV job when Dave Rice got hired.
2) Took Andy Enfield less than 72 hours from the end of his season to capitalize on his success with Florida Gulf Coast and become the new coach at USC. FGCU had zero chance to retain Enfield, and they knew it. Money talks, often very loudly.
1) In a perfect world, when a small basketball school like Florida Gulf Coast loses its coach to a big money school like USC, it would be nice if the Trojans invited FGCU out to LA for a guarantee game, give them a fat payday for taking their coach away.
In this me-first world, that ain’t happening, primarily because next year, the Eagles would have a damn good shot at beating USC, since they lose only two players from this year’s rotation. Whoever takes Enfield’s place in Fort Myers inherits a nice team.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) There is a College Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, but not sure what geniuses decide who gets in. No Rick Pitino, no Jerry Tarkanian, but Norm Stewart and Joe B. Hall are in. Rollie Massimino? Please.........
12) 14 of 30 major league baseball teams have payrolls of $100M+.
11) Oakland Raiders traded for QB Matt Flynn, will deal Carson Palmer to the Cardinals. Raiders seriously need some contunity one of these years; seems like they either have a new coach or QB every year.
10) Carl Crawford is wearing #25 for the Dodgers, same number Tommy John wore for LA. Crawford is recovering from Tommy John surgery- he had two hits, scored a run in his Dodger debut Monday.
9) Playing back-to-back in the NHL can be draining; so far this season:
-- Road teams who played at home night before: 14-29
-- Teams on road for second consecutive night: 30-44
-- Teams at home for second consecutive night: 20-9
-- Home teams who played on road night before: 17-23
8) I once dated a woman who tried to kill a spider by spraying hairspray on it; not only did the spider live, its hair looked tremendous.
7) Louisville has two national titles in basketball; both times, Indiana won the national championship the next season.
6) Michigan-Syracuse is the first-ever Final Four game with two 4-seeds meeting. Since 1987, #4 seeds are 2-9 SU in Final Four games, with last win by Arizona in '97. This year's meeting will make 4-seeds 3-10- Michigan is a 2-point favorite over the Orangemen in Saturday's nightcap.
5) Mets' 1B Ike Davis complained to a sportswriter about having to shell out $1,400 for six tickets to the Mets' opener. Davis made $507,000 LY; how does a regular guy who makes $60,000 take his family to a game?
4) The whole Ben Howland/Steve Alford at UCLA thing is fascinating; you look at Alford's 5-7 record in NCAA games and that includes two losses in first round as a 3-seed, to Harvard this year, to Northwestern State in 2006, when Alford was coaching Iowa. Thats not good.
UCLA fired Steve Lavin after he made five Sweet 16's in seven years; what exactly do they want? Its almost like the John Wooden era is an anchor on the current Bruin regime, no matter who is in charge.
3) Americans won the first 14 PGA tournaments this year, which is kind of unusual. We'll see if that holds up at The Masters next week.
2) In 106 years of competition, 32 different schools have been members of the Missouri Valley Conference, at one time or another; with Creighton on its way to the Big East, the MVC will be adding anothrr school, so that will be a 33rd league member. Pretty good basketball league, too, as Wichita State is showing this month.
1) Could someone please explain to me why the two baseball teams in New York played their season openers at the same time, eight miles apart?
Monday's List of 13: What we like about baseball starting......
13 reasons we’re glad baseball season is here………
13) Looking through boxscores is great fun for me, just like it is in basketball; lot of information to be gained by looking at columns of numbers. Its dorky but fun.
12) Love watching Giancarlo Stanton and Yoenis Cespedes hit.
11) At some point in the Dodgers’ opener, a runner will get to third base, and Vin Scully will immediately tell us how many wild pitches the pitcher had LY. Scully was doing this when freakin’ Harry Truman was President, and he’s still very, very good at it.
10) Sausage races in Milwaukee always make me laugh; who was the first person to suggest they would be a good idea, because they are.
9) Arguing with my father about the value of bunting vs playing for the big inning is an annual ritual, My dad is 87 and looks at me like I’m the dumbest person on earth. Imagine that?
8) Watching Joe Maddon manage a game, trying things other managers wouldn’t dare try. Its one of the advantages of managing in a small market; if some stuff doesn’t work, its no big deal, because most of what he tries work. In a big market, people stress out over everything, so its tough to try new things that might not work.
7) Like the black jerseys and black hats Diamondbacks wear for Saturday home games.
6) I love that Prince Fielder is one of baseball’s most durable players; guy looks out of shape, but what he is not is overtrained, so he doesn’t pull an oblique every time he brushes his teeth. Very productive, dependable player.
5) I enjoy charting umpires when they work home plate, and see what patterns develop, because they inevitably do. Its an interesting study.
4) Enjoy listening to Dan Orsillo/Jerry Remy doing Red Sox games on NESN; when Orsillo gets laughing, he has a hard time stopping and it sounds like 10-year olds working a game. Good stuff.
3) Watching Jose Reyes/Carl Crawford run out triples is lot of fun; a healthy Reyes will hit a ton of triples on artificial turf in Sky Dome.
2) 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field is still very cool, when a guest singer does Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Must be quite a waiting list to do that.
1) For me, the best part of baseball season is watching all the A’s games; last September/October’s divisional race was the most fun I’ve had watching sports, other than the year the Rams won the Super Bowl.
12) Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Steve Alford to UCLA? Wow. He gets $2.6M a year for seven years and his son Bryce, who scored 37 ppg in high school this year, gets an upgrade from playing in the Pit to Pauley Pavilion, while still playing for his dad. So UCLA wins the press conference, hiring a famous name to replace the fired Ben Howland, who made it to three Final Fours in ten years.
12) Like we said, Howland made it to three Final Fours in Westwood; he won the Pac-12 regular season this year, was 25-10 and he got canned. There are significant expectations involved with coaching the Bruins. Alford seems to be a good coach but his record in the NCAAs is 5-7. Uh-oh.
11) Alford is hoping his assistant coach Craig Neal replaces him with the Lobos, since New Mexico has everyone back next year and figures to win the Mountain West again. New Mexico gets tremendous crowd support and they recruit well, so its a good job that also has high expectations.
10) Alford recently signed a 10-year extension at New Mexico, but these days, contracts don't mean much-- the extension was going to start Monday, but instead, New Mexico is looking for its new coach, and Alford is house shopping and then recruiting. Coaching is an interesting profession.
9) Wichita State has six players who played JC basketball; all three of their assistant coaches also once worked at junior colleges.
8) Not sure why, but it bothers me when TV announcers call Syracuse "the 'cuse". So many of ESPN's play-by-play guys went to Syracuse, can't help but think they get preferential treatment from the media. Lets see how the media deals with it when they go on probation soon, and they are going to go on probation, if half of what is being written is true.
7) All minor league baseball players have to wear the two-flap batting helmets now, but major leaguers don't have to.
6) One of these years, would be nice if A's didn't open the season with the Mariners, so they didn't have to see Felix Hernandez in the opener. In 2012, they played Seattle over in Japan, so they had to face Hernandez in both the first and third games. Not the best planning there.
5) It never ends: a horse ran at Golden Gate Saturday: Trust in Tebow.
4) Kevin Kolb gets $13M for two years from Buffalo; what has this guy done to keep getting paid so much money?
3) Syracuse 55, Marquette 39-- Eagles shot 22.6% from floor. Gardner was 6-9, rest of team was a miserable 6-44. Marquette played scared.
2) Wichita State 70, Ohio State 66-- Shockers led 53-33 with 11:30 left in game, hung on for dear life to become first #9 seed to make Final Four in 64-team era of tournament. Penn was a #9 seed that made it back in 1979.
1) Its a cold world; weird seeing Johan Santana getting released in our 16-team fantasy baseball league, and knowing no one will pick him up.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts with weekend here.......
13) How much money is enough? That’s a big question being asked now in these coaching searches; when a mid-major pays a guy $1M+ a year and he is happy and winning there, why would he uproot his family, move halfway across the country to rebuild a program in a harder league with worse players than he has at the mid-major?
A school like Minnesota is a small fish in a very large pond; no successful mid-major coach with an ounce of sense would go there unless he’s unhappy where he is now. You lose 2-3 years in a row, you're fired.
12) Then there’s UCLA, whose expectations are so stupidly high that no one they want will listen to them. They should hire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to coach the team, be the face of the program, as long as he hires a veteran tactician to be his “bench coach” and a couple younger recruiters to bring in players. If Wake Forest had fired Jeff Bzdelik, he would’ve been ideal for the tactician role.
11) If UCLA wants former assistant Mark Gottfried as head coach, it won’t be cheap; he has a $3.25M buyout at NC State, which may be one of the few places where the expectations are as dumb as they are in Westwood.
10) Buster Posey/Justin Verlander signed lucrative extensions Friday. Giants have so much money tied up in Posey now you wonder if they’ll move him to first base to extend his career as a hitter. Catchers tend to fade out quicker than other position players.
9) According to Forbes Magazine, which I quote a lot but have never actually read, the average major league franchise is now worth $774M. Teams in my 16-team keeper fantasy league are $60 a year.
8) Maine Black Bears were 12-20 this year, are 23-36 last two years; their claim to fame is beating Florida Gulf Coast in December, but word comes out that Justin Edwards, their best player, wants to play “at a higher level” of Division I and will transfer out of Maine, similar to what Seth Curry did when he bolted Liberty for Duke a couple years ago. Edwards scored 16.7 ppg this year; curious to see where he winds up.
7) Louisville 77, Oregon 69-- Russ Smith has gone from Russ-diculous to Russ-tacular; he had 31 here. Game with Duke Sunday should be fun.
6) Michigan 87, Kansas 85, OT-- Jayhawks led 68-54 with 6:51 left; at no point watching this game did I think they would lose. Going to be a long summer for Bill Self. .
5) Duke 71, Michigan State 61-- Good thing Blue Devils pilfered Seth Curry from Liberty; he had 29 in this one. Duke bench took one shot.
4) Florida 62, Florida Gulf Coast 50-- Eagles led by 11 early on, but they turned ball over 20 times. Gators were too quick on perimeter, too big inside, just too good. Quite a run by FGCU, though, a fun team to watch.
3) "I think the referees got the calls right. I don't think it was a hard foul. I think the one involving LeBron against [Carlos] Boozer, that was flagrant. I think the officials got it right. I think that it's almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating." Celtics GM Danny Ainge, for whatever reason discussing the Miami-Chicago game this week
2) "Danny Ainge needs to shut the f--- up and manage his own team. He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him." Pat Riley, responding in a statement to Ainge's criticism of Lebron James. Riley doesn't like the Celtics much.
1) For what its worth, the Celtics play in Miami April 12.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) Not the best card of games Thursday night; three of the four teams that won led by 12+ points at the half. Over last three tournaments, underdogs are now 14-6 vs spread in regional semifinal games.
12) UCLA won the Pac-12 this year, lost conference tournament finals and fired its coach. Oregon State/Washington tied for last in the league, but both coaches will return next year. Those are schools that don’t want to eat money by firing one coach and hiring another.
11) Syracuse 61, Indiana 50-- Hoosiers needed to hit jumpers against the 2-3 zone; 3-15 from arc was fatal, including Hulls going 0-6.
10) Marquette 71, Miami 61-- This was an awful game, sad end to a great season for the Hurricanes. They just couldn't make a shot and missed inside presence of injured center Reggie Johnson.
9) Ohio State 73, Arizona 70-- Only interesting game of the night; Arizona led by 11 with 6:24 left in first half, but at this level, you cannot win without a PG, and Wildcats didn't have a true PG this year. Ross had 17 points in 18 minutes off the bench for the Buckeyes.
8) Wichita State 72, LaSalle 58-- Shockers are first 9-seed to make regional final since Boston College in '94. Good news for Wichita: over last 17 years, underdogs are 9-8 SU in the West Regional final.
7) Small forward Chase Fischer (no relation) has transferred out of Wake Forest, the ninth player to transfer out of Wake in the three years Jeff Bzdelik has been head coach. Much like Minnesota did with Tubby Smith last week, Wake fired its last coach, Dino Gaudio after he won a first round NCAA game. This coaching change has not worked out very well, but the AD is sticking with Bzdelik for another year.
6) High school kid from Dallas named Keith Frazier, a McDonald’s All-American, announced he wants to go to Texas Tech, so he must be pretty good, since Tech doesn’t have a coach right now, and a new coach could 86 the kid after a year if he isn’t what the coach wants. Interesting decision.
5) Speaking of Texas Tech, rumors late Thursday night had the Red Raiders interested in hiring Tubby Smith. He'd be a good coach for them.
4) Miami Dolphins got a new logo and for first time ever next year, will have white facemasks on their helmets, instead of aqua. Just thought you’d like to know.
3) This time next year, Bruce Pearl’s agent is going to be a popular guy; his services are going to be in demand. He wins and plays a popular, running style. He can't coach this coming season because of a show-cause order from the NCAA, for a violation that looks pretty puny now.
2) Florida Gulf Coast is finding out that it ain’t easy to raise funds when your oldest alumnus is a 37-year old nurse. School is 16 years old, so no blue blood alums driving Beemers around Fort Myers.
1) From what you read, Ben Howland will not coach next year, which means he’s going to surface somewhere on TV. I’m curious to hear if he’s any good on TV, since he seems like kind of a dour guy. Maybe he’s not, but we’ll probably find out next year.
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a spring day......
13) Shaka Smart signed an extension with VCU thru 2023 and UCLA is left scratching its head, wondering why no one they want wants them. You fire a guy after he wins a league title and no one thinks its that great a job.
According to SI.com.....
"A majority of what Smart asked VCU for was improvements for his staff and program. That includes more salary for his staff and a bevy of things like better meals for players, improved travel for the program and other perks for his staff."
12) Rick Pitino knows that deflections are a great indicator of how hard a team is playing. Every time a Cardinal tips a pass, blocks a shot, makes a steal, swats a dribble or grabs a loose ball, he gets credit for one. Doing little things help teams win, and few teams win as much as Louisville.
11) Life in the NBA isn’t always glamorous; Clippers lost in OT at Dallas Tuesday, didn’t get to New Orleans until 3:30 am, then had to play the Hornets 17 hours later. There are lot worse ways to make a living, but it ain’t always fun.
10) Pretty cool of Jeep to use Al Pacino’s “Life is a game of inches…” speech from Any Given Sunday in one of its commercials. Caught me by surprise the first time I heard it.
9) Jason Campbell better write a book someday; he signed on to play QB with Cleveland this year, his 4th NFL team in the last five years. When he was at Auburn, he played for four different OC’s in four years; he’s had one of the most dysfunctional careers ever, much of it not his doing. Would like to see him have some success before he’s through playing.
8) There are around 40,000 Subway sub shops worldwide, double what they had just ten years ago.
7) Northwestern hired Chris Collins as basketball coach; not sure how sitting next to (Chicago native) Mike Krzyzewski makes you qualified to be a Big Dozen head coach with no prior head coaching experience, but there he is with a big job in his pocket.
Of Coach K’s coaching tree, only Mike Brey has been successful- Johnny Dawkins is doing OK at Stanford, but not that great, plus he played over a decade in the NBA. Tommy Amaker couldn’t win at Seton Hall/Michigan; he’s doing well at Harvard because they loosened the admissions strings for him. We’ll see how young Collins does; Wildcats would’ve been better off hiring his father, but they probably couldn’t afford Doug Collins.
6) Up until six years ago, I used to spend two weeks every July in Florida at AAU basketball tournaments in Orlando; if you’ve read this site for a long time, you’ll remember me talking about various kids I saw play, or meeting Doc Rivers and Tubby Smith, among other coaches. One of the kids we wrote about in 2007 is now writing an unlikely story for himself at Southern Mississippi, after almost falling through the cracks of the system.
5) Dwayne Davis played AAU ball for my friend Joe Gill with the PA Red Storm in ‘07; he was an explosive scorer even back then, but washed out at Morehead State (academics), then played JC ball in Texas, before finally getting a chance this season with the Golden Eagles in this, his last year of college eligibility, and boy, has he taken advantage of that chance, scoring 16 ppg for a team that lost in double OT in the conference USA title game.
Dwayne is 6-5, plays some point guard and makes 42% of his shots behind the arc. Would be a special story if he could make it to the NBA, but at least we’re thinking he’ll make good money playing in Europe next year, or in the NDBL. 6-5 guards who can shoot aren't that easy to find.
Would be great to see him the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas this July.
4) Stanford's football team has players from 30 states and Canada.
3) Huge blow for Miami Hurricanes; center Reggie Johnson is out for this weekend. Takes a productive big body out of the middle.
2) Good news for people who watch baseball on TV: Tim McCarver is out at FOX after this season. Like most analysts, McCarver was way better when he was working every day. Doing games once a week, he's not as good.
1) Glad to hear that Marcus Lattimore did well in his workout at South Carolina’s pro day; kid has been through a lot with injuries. Curious to see who drafts him next month.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Kansas City Royals are 23-6 in the Cactus League, as they try to have their first winning season since 2003; does winning in March help you win during the summer? Rays’ manager Joe Maddon has said in the past that thinks it does.
12) Miami Heat has won 28 games in a row; when their playoffs start, who the hell is winning a best-of-7 series against them? No one, if Lebron James is healthy. That’s why the NCAA tournament is way more interesting than the NBA playoffs.
Could Florida Gulf Coast beat Georgetown/San Diego State best-of-7? When upsets are possible, the event is more interesting.
In case you were wondering, Miami Heat won 23 of last 29 games that Dwyane Wade sat out.
11) TV ratings for first weekend of NCAA’s were highest they’ve been in 23 years; being able to switch to any game you want to on free TV was an excellent move.
10) Bobby Hurley leaves his brother in Rhode Island, is new hoop coach at Buffalo. That should be interesting.
9) Why would Shaka Smart take the Minnesota job? He could get a way better job than that. Being a small fish in a deep pond is no fun.
8) Ravens signed Elvis Dumervil with money they saved by letting Anquan Boldin walk, so that all makes sense now, although they lucked into the Dumervil thing, since his former agent screwed up, which made Elvis a free agent.
Some notes on the regionals semifinal round of the NCAAs........
7) Since ’01, #1 seeds are 8-2 vs spread if facing someone other than a 4-5 seed, 15-18 if facing a 4-5 seed.
6) Since ’01, underdogs are 9-7 vs spread when a 2-seed plays a 3-seed.
5) Since ’02, underdogs are 7-4 vs spread when a #3 seed plays anyone but a #2 seed in this round.
4) Since 1987, underdogs are 15-9-1 vs spread when a #2 seed plays a #6 seed in this round.
3) Since ’02, #10 or lower seeds are 6-11 vs spread in this round, despite being 3-0 LY.
2) How important is having an NBA franchise to a city? Former Suns’ guard Kevin Johnson is the mayor of Sacramento, and he has worked his butt off to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle. Looks like he might succeed, too; I’m just wondering, is it worth it? I’m not saying it isn’t, I’m just asking.
1) Read something last night that said the 2013 NFL schedule is likely to be released April 16; that’s always fun, to break schedule down, because as Bud Grant used to say, “Its not who you play, its when you play them.”
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) All this talk about Florida Gulf Coast being founded in the 1990’s made me think; how much cash does it take to start a college? I mean, how do you hire teachers? Where do the students come from? Books? Computers? Cafeteria workers? Has to be a pretty big undertaking.
12) Ben Howland gets $3.5M as a parting gift from UCLA; wish someone would pay me to go away. Imagine how much someone dislikes your work to pay you $3.5M just to go away?
11) By the way, it seems unfair that Howland gets the ziggy while Shabazz Muhammad will be a first round pick in the NBA in June; he grabbed zero rebounds in 39 minutes against Minnesota Friday. Zero, as in none. John Stockton’s kid at Gonzaga, who is 5-11 maybe 170, has a better defensive rebounding metric than Muhammad this season. That’s embarrassing.
10) ESPN.com has 8.15M brackets filled out in its contest; four people had 15 of 16, 760 had 14 of 16, 1,046 had zero of 16. Zero? That’s not good.
9) Former Villanova coach Steve Lappas, a studio guy on CBS Sports Network, ripped the refs of Indiana-Temple game, saying “….they held Kashif (Wyatt) every play in the last 5:00.” Not often you hear a studio guy who wasn’t even calling the game be so outspoken about officials.
8) LA Angels ate $34M of the remaining $42M on his contract to send Vernon Wells to the Bronx; he’s been paid by three different teams on this contract: Toronto still owes him $15M for three years on the deal. Wells is the most overpaid person in America not named Kardashian.
7) Former Dallas Cowboy exec Gil Brandt, who knows stuff, posted these college football teams as his top six going into the 2013 season: Ohio State-Texas A&M-Oregon-South Carolina-Florida-Alabama.
6) If they’re going to have spring college football, why not let each team have one home scrimmage, charge admission and televise them? Wouldn’t that raise a lot of money?
5) CBS televises The Masters? Who knew? Good thing they run those commercials every half hour to remind us.
4) High school basketball players who want to play in college should forego AAU and instead spend their time
a) Improving their bodies as much as possible to become better athletes and b) become as good a shooter as humanly possible. Shooters are always in demand, always.
Look at Sherwood Brown on Florida Gulf Coast; pretty terrific player, right? he's a walk-on, as in, no scholarship offers. He made himself a player.
3) Its fairly obvious that CBS dictated that Creighton-Duke have a 9:40 tipoff time Sunday night, despite the game being in Philadelphia. Made for a dead crowd and a lackluster game. Kansas-North Carolina from Kansas City would’ve been my choice for the last game of the day.
2) You can actually make the argument that Albany gave Duke a stiffer test than the Bluejays did. Creighton was dismal on offense; obviously Duke played much better against them, but Great Danes were down 8 with 4:40 left, lost by 12.
1) You wonder if Florida Gulf Coast’s success has a trickle down effect on other coaches, making their jobs more difficult, as in “How come they can get to the Sweet 16 and we can’t even make the tournament?”
I’m especially thinking of South Florida’s Stan Heath, the other team on Florida’s gulf coast, up in Tampa. Not only are the Bulls bad, they play a slower style. Got to be easier to recruit kids when you play fast. Has to be.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up the best weekend of the year.......
13) Florida Gulf Coast 81, San Diego State 71-- Eagles shot 55% from floor against solid defensive team, become first #15 seed ever to advance to Sweet 16. They're the talk of the tournament-- good for them.
12) This Comer kid is terrific PG who should be playing in a much better league than the Atlantic Sun; if UNLV had him, they'd be a favorite to go to the Final Four. What tremendous court vision he has.
11) Apparently the only reason Florida Gulf Coast went Division I in hoops is because a D-II league in Florida turned them down. Multiple people have confirmed that story, which is a little amazing.
10) Ohio State 78, Iowa State 75-- Terrific game that swung on a marginal charging call against the Cyclones when they were up a point; Craft's heel appeared to be on that arc under the basket. Iowa State made 12-25 from arc, rallied back from down 13-- this was a very tough loss. .
9) Had no idea that Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg needs a heart valve replacement in the near future, no one knows exactly when; he played in NBA for ten years, had to retire because of the heart issue. Our thoughts and prayers are with him-- very popular figure in Iowa.
8) Indiana 58, Temple 52-- Three of Owls' five starters combined to go 0-21 from floor in this interesting game, as Khalif Wyatt carried Owls for 38:00, but got no help when he needed it most. Indiana-Syracuse this week means roughly 1,000 replays of Keith Smart's shot in 1987- terrific.
7) Florida 78, Minnesota 64-- Gators were up 21 at half, staggered thru the second half; Minnesota-UCLA might wind up as the worst first round game of the last 20 years. Should've automatically picked against the winner here.
6) Speaking of UCLA, they officially fired Ben Howland Sunday; question is, who are they going to get who is a better coach? If you fire a guy who got to three Final Fours in ten years, why is this considered a good job?
5) LaSalle 76, Ole Miss 74-- Much like VCU two years ago, Explorers are proving that going to the First Four isn't so much of a hinderence. It helps to have really good senior guards.
Last 13-seed in the Sweet 16? Bradley Braves, in 2006.
4) Kansas 70, North Carolina 58-- Tar Heels were up 30-21 at half, were +11 in turnovers for game, but shot only 30.1% and Jayhawks started running more in second half, going on 42-17 spurt to turn game in their favor.
3) Miami 63, Illinois 59-- Survive. Advance. This was a 50-50 game; Durand Scott scored only six points, but Hurricanes made key plays late for the win. Illinois team always seemed like they should've been better.
2) Duke 66, Creighton 50-- Awful game, with McDermott not scoring hoop in last 24:00; he was 12-12 from foul line, but Duke bludgeoned the Bluejays and move on to Indianapolis for the Sweet 16.
Krzyzewski, Pitino, Izzo in same region....with Dana Altman, who is a very good coach, but not exactly a media darling. Should be interesting.
1) Its great to see an unknown team like Florida Gulf Coast believe in its abilities, play with tremendous enthuiasm and shock the world; they've got guys who can run, pass, shoot, defend- well-rounded, athletic players. Next up are the Florida Gators, who wouldn't even scrimmage the Eagles last fall.
Florida Gulf Coast is a 12-point dog; you going to give them 12 points?
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Wichita State 76, Gonzaga 70-- Naysayers are going to kill Gonzaga for losing, but this was an excellent game; Shockers made 14-28 from arc, seven in row at one point. When a good team hits 14-28 from the arc, they're going to win. Kind of wish Zags' 7-footer Kelly Olynyk would take less 3's.
12) Marquette 74, Butler 72-- Buzz Williams 2013, meet Jim Valvano 1983, as Marquette has survived two near-death experiences to advance to Sweet 16- they were down six with 1:10 left Thursday, were down 8 at half in this game Saturday. Tough minded group of kids.
11) Louisville 82, Colorado State 56-- Cardinals were so aggressive in this game on defense, it seemed like they had 8-10 guys on court at times. This is a very good Colorado State team that started five seniors- they had no shot.
10) Michigan 78, VCU 53-- Someone posted a stat on Twitter that VCU is 1-7 this year against teams that turn the ball over less than 18% of time, and Wolverines are #1 in country protecting the ball, so this makes sense. Guess the ease in which Michigan won is surprising.
9) Michigan State 70, Memphis 48-- Tom Izzo has a great record in these quick turnaround games; Spartans held Memphis to 29.7% from floor. Pod system the NCAA put in is to get bigger crowds, but it has made it so much harder to post a second round upset. These two games were true road games; seems like its too big an advantage for the bigger schools.
8) Izzo, by the way, has an amazing 30-4 tournament record when his team is the better seed.
7) Syracuse 66, California 60-- Orange made 26-41 on foul line playing in enemy territory in San Jose. Not sure what the deal is with Cal's best scorer, Allen Crabbe; seems like he's near a meltdown every time a call goes against him. Teammates are always talking to him, putting an arm around him. For record, Cal was 12-19 from the line in this game, Crabbe 3-9 from floor.
6) Oregon 74, Saint Louis 57-- Billikens picked bad time to play their worst game of the season. How did Arselan Kazemi get eligible right away after he bolted from Rice? He's from Iran, so he doesn't have any sick relatives on the west coast. Kazemi has played very well the last few weeks.
5) Arizona 74, Harvard 51-- Terrible game, but not as bad as four Harvard Quiz Bowl titles being vacated because they cheated. Thats the thing about people who always tell you they're elite; they don't believe it themselves, so they have to cheat to make sure they seem that way. Nitwits.
4) UCLA is going to fire Ben Howland today; Bruins were 25-10 this year, are 233-107 under Howland, with couple Final Fours, but they haven't been seeded higher than 6th in any of the last five tournaments, because he can't keep players in his program, either they're disgruntled and transfer, or they do well and bolt for the NBA. Same problem Texas is having.
3) Meanwhile, Howland disciple Jamie Dixon turned down USC, signed an extension with Pitt until 2023; if the Trojans would hire Dixon, why not try and see if Howland would stay in LA and coach at USC? I'm sure the brass at USC would be pretty happy if the Trojans went 25-10.
2) In five of its last seven games, Louisville has forced turnovers on 30.9% or more of opponents' possessions; this is postseason ball, impressive.
1) It dawned on me that Butler and Denver will both be playing in their third different basketball league in a three-year span next year. Butler and Denver, not Louisville-Missouri-Syracuse. College sports are crazy.
Notes from each of Friday's NCAA tournament games
-- Duke 73, Albany 61-- Great Danes made 9-15 from arc, won majority of loose balls, still lost by 12. Mike Krzyzewski actually did a TV interview at halftime-- can't remember the last time I saw him do that.
-- Creighton 67, Cincinnati 63-- Bluejays outscored Cincy 22-4 from foul line, made 7-15 from arc. Big East teams were 3-5 in first round of tourney. Creighton becomes a Big East team next year. Sometimes I watch Cincinnati play and I wonder if they use a basketball when they practice.
-- Ole Miss 57, Wisconsin 46-- Badgers shot 25.4% from field; Marshall Henderson went nuts in second half, then again on Twitter after. Henderson is wacky, but where would the Rebels be without him?
-- LaSalle 63, Kansas State 61-- Explorers led 44-26 at half, survived great comeback to win what was basically a road game in Kansas City. K-State was 9-17 from foul line, not good in a 2-point game.
-- Miami 78, Pacific 49-- Big divide in the 15-seeds; Iona has athletic guys who are nuisance if they play well; Albany was really a 16-seed but they had too many of those. Pacific overachieved to win conference tourney in a fading Big West. FGCU should've been seeded higher, a lot higher.
-- Illinois 57, Colorado 49-- Game of tremendous runs by both sides; Illini advanced on a day when they led by 16 at half, then trailed by 5 with 8:58 left. Former Illini coach Bruce Weber got upset in first round at K-State, so I'm guessing Illini fans happier with the coach they have now.
-- Temple 76, NC State 72-- Wolfpack lost despite making 64.1% of shots inside arc; they trailed by 16 at half, fought back, but a disappointing year ends in a fitting way. Wyatt was 7-8 inside arc, 12-14 on line, 1-7 outside arc as he scored 31 points to lead the Owls.
-- Indiana 83, James Madison 62-- Hoosiers crushed JMU, who loosened up in last 10:00, played better to cover spread- they scored half their 62 points in last quarter of the game. Glorified workout for the Hoosiers.
-- Florida Gulf Coast 78, Georgetown 68-- When players in this game were born, FGCU didn't exist yet. Hoyas get beat by a double digit seed for fifth year in row. Eagles only have two seniors in their rotation, too.
-- San Diego State 70, Oklahoma 55-- Steve Fisher is now 9-1 in his last ten games with Lon Kruger. Suddenly, Aztecs find a 15-seed in between them and a trip to the Sweet 16. MWC teams are 2-3 in tournament.
-- Ohio State 95, Iona 70-- Iona is fun to watch, but they got dismantled by a methodical Buckeye team that is as athletic as the Gaels. This kid Craft is a great college player, does all little, unglamorous things teams need to win.
-- Iowa State 76, Notre Dame 58-- Irish have slowish big men who look like they've never seen a pick-and-roll before, at least not run by great athletes. Cyclones were up 12 at half, pulled away from there. Second year in row Fred Hoiberg beat a Big East team in first round.
-- Florida 79, Northwestern State 47-- Deep Gators were bad draw for the Demons, who play 10 guys and try to wear you down. Game was 42-34 at the half, degenerated late. I'm still a believer in Florida going to Final Four.
-- Minnesota 83, UCLA 63-- There are rumors that Floyd Mayweather bet $7M on UCLA in this game; not sure if he knew Jordan Adams was out or not, but Mayweather could've played better himself than the Bruins did.
-- North Carolina 78, Villanova 71-- Tar Heels made 11-21 from arc as they handed the Big East yet another loss. Now UNC plays Kansas, where their smaller lineup is going to get a severe test. Over last four years, #1 seeds are 10-5-1 vs spread in this second round.
-- Kansas 64, Western Kentucky 57-- Jayhawks looked lifeless, so whatever ailed them in TCU loss is still inside them, somewhere. Next up is an old pal, Coach Roy Williams. If Kansas plays like they did Friday, Tar Heels will be glad to take their place in the Sweet 16.
Notes from each of Thursday's NCAA tournament games
-- Michigan State 65, Valparaiso 54-- Spartans grabbed 20 of their own 35 missed shots; their subs almost blew the 9.5-point spread in last minute. This game was nowhere near as close as the final score says.
-- Memphis 54, St Mary's 52-- Tigers blocked 12 shots, led by 15 late in the first half, then held on for dear life in last minute, as St Mary's got a shot to tie game. Congrats to Josh Pastner on his first NCAA tournament win; its a long way from sitting on a cafeteria table at Poinciana HS in Florida with me, watching an AAU game when he was an assistant coach at Arizona.
-- Louisville 79, North Carolina A&T 48-- Jesse Jackson was in stands at this game; kind of doubt he was rooting for Pitino. Hope he didn't take A&T and 26.5 points. If you added the first 10:00 of each half in this game, it was 43-13 Louisville.
-- Colorado State 84, Missouri 72-- You start five seniors, you're a live dog in this tournament. Dorian Green is a tough guy; he scored 26 points in 34:00 on a gimpy ankle. Only win in four games for MWC so far.
-- Syracuse 81, Montana 34-- This is all Weber State's fault; Wildcats were better than Montana this year, but couldn't finish the deal in Big Sky title tilt, so banged-up Griz got fed to an angry Syracuse squad here. This was ugly.
-- California 64, UNLV 61-- Dave Rice is going to have a rough summer in America's favorite city; Rebels have now lost last four first round games, and they were favored in all four (Rice only coached last two). He absolutely has to have at least one quality PG on his roster next year.
-- Marquette 59, Davidson 58-- Wildcats led 54-48 with 1:10 left; when the players and coaches on Davidson are in their 80's, they'll think of this game and be sad. Marquette hit last three 3's after being 1-12 from arc. Just one of those losses that will linger for weeks, months....
-- Butler 68, Bucknell 56-- Bison led 37-31 with 10:17 left, but then Butler put it in another gear, blew by them, outscoring Bucknell 25-5 on foul line.
-- VCU 88, Akron 42-- I'm not kidding; Saturday's game with Michigan might be most interesting matchup of the whole tournament. Not sure last night's walkover helped VCU very much, other than the win. This was ugly.
-- Michigan 71, South Dakota State 56-- Four Jackrabbits played the whole 40:00, and the fifth played 32. Predictably, they faded late.
-- Wichita State 73, Pitt 55-- Shockers were 33-41 from foul line and were the more physical team. Jamie Dixon is 11-9 in NCAAs at Pitt, despite being 3-seed or better in five of his nine NCAA appearances. Not really sure why USC would want to shell out big bucks for his services.
-- Gonzaga 64, Southern 58-- Survive. Advance. This game was 56-56 with 3:46 left. Southern was 10-23 outside arc, 8-23 inside it. Zags hit two huge 3's to pull ahead- they'll need to play better against Wichita State.
-- Arizona 81, Belmont 64-- Bruins are good example of how gap between the haves and have-nots has widened. Belmont wins its league most years, but only once have they come close to winning a NCAA tourney game, the gap in talent is just too wide.
-- Harvard 68, New Mexico 62-- Call me paranoid, but not thrilled about a coach signing a lucrative contract before a tournament; your lower-income kids start looking around, asking, "Where's mine?" and they play lousy and lose to an Ivy League team. Go figure.
-- Oregon 68, Oklahoma State 55-- Dana Altman was about the 7th choice to become Oregon's coach, but he's damn good. I'm thinking Ducks might be the best 12-seed in tournament history.
-- Saint Louis 64, New Mexico State 44-- Billikens are very good, plus they have players named Jordair Jett and Grandy Glaze-- tremendous names!!!!! SLU is very good defensively, took Aggies out of their game.
Thursday's List of 13: Welcome to the best four days of the year.......
13) Why do I get the idea that for the next four days, unless something really big happens, Joe Biden is running the country?
12) So when Robert Morris beat Kentucky at home Tuesday, it set off one of the better court rushes of alltime; ESPN interviewed coach Andy Toole on the court about what the win means. Would’ve been awesome if he had just looked into the camera and said truthfully,
“It means I’m getting a better job!!!”
This is the unusual case of a team being better off in the NIT than the NCAA’s, they got lot of extra publicity out of beating Kentucky.
11) Robert Morris’ win will set non-conference scheduling back, as the big boys will turn their nose up at true road games, even moreso than they do now. When was the last time Kentucky played a true road game in a gym that seats less than 5,000 people?
10) Since 1993, Louisville is 3-11-1 vs spread in its first tournament game; this is just their second #1 seed- they beat Morehead State by 20 (-20.5) in first round, the other time they were a 1-seed.
9) So couple years after the Carmelo Anthony trade, did one side get the better of it? Knicks are 39-26, but have oldest roster in league, they’ve lost four of last five games and are looking into signing Hawkeye Pierce to take care of their MASH unit full of injured players.
Denver is 47-22, has won 13 games in a row and appears to be a legit threat in the West. I’m thinking Denver got the better of the deal.
Feel bad for Mike Woodson though; he’s a very good coach saddled with an old team that ain’t getting healthier as the playoffs approach.
8) There are 21 Division I basketball schools in Texas, none made the tournament, first time Lone Star State got blanked since 1977, when it was a 32-team tourney. Damn, I was in high school back then.
7) Youngstown State made an astounding 18-35 behind arc in its 99-87 win over defenseless Oakland Tuesday. LMU made 21 treys vs Michigan in second round of the 1990 tournament, and from what I can tell, that is the most treys any team has made in a D-I college game.
6) Hockey legend Bobby Orr, who was Wayne Gretzky before Gretzky, but as a defenseman, turned 65 this week. Orr was one of my first childhood heroes; boy could he skate!!!
Knee injuries shortened his career. I met him in 1986; very nice man, but he could hardly walk, his knees were so bad. Orr turned the Bruins around almost single-handedly; he is still revered in Boston.
5) An umpire broke his hand in a spring training game, so one of the other umps went in to put his chest protector on to take his place behind the plate. Veteran ump Tim McClelland, in order to keep the exhibition game moving, called balls/strikes from behind the pitcher for four batters, until the other ump was ready to go. That’s what they do in Little League!!!
4) NFL might play the Pro Bowl by having captains choose up sides, like we did on the playgrounds as kids. Whatever, I’m still not watching. Choosing up sides would be intriguing for the NBA All-Star Game, though.
3) Listening to Bill Walton working SF Austin-Stanford NIT game Tuesday, it occurred to me that I’d love to be as positive about everything as he is. Not everyone can be that way, but I enjoy his TV work very much.
2) Stephen F Austin University is in Nacogdoches, TX; they lost Southland finals to Northwestern State, which is in Natchitoches, LA.
Say that three times fast.
1) The next four days are among my most favorite of the year; I plan on doing nothing but watching basketball, eating and talking to friends about basketball and eating. Enjoy the tournament!!!!
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.........
13) One of the NFL’s newer traditions is that the Super Bowl champ opens up at home on the first Thursday night of the season, which this year is September 5; problem is, the Baltimore Orioles have a home game that night, so the Ravens asked them to move the game to an afternoon tilt, but the O’s are so far resisting doing that, since it’s the first game of a 4-game weekend series. Not good.
12) Kicker is the Ravens would rather open on the road September 5 than play at home that first Sunday night, because of the 3+-day advantage in preparation/rest for their Week 2 game, that comes with opening the season on a Thursday.
11) Orioles traded Joe Flacco’s younger brother to the Red Sox last week; he is a minor league third baseman who is a .252 hitter in four minor league seasons, mostly all in A ball. Wonder if that annoyed the Ravens, too.
10) Speaking of annoying, Bobby Valentine is close to signing a deal to be in SNY’s (Mets’ TV station) studios 10-15 nights this summer. Valentine just signed on as the new AD at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.
9) NFL’s Hall of Fame game in Canton August 4: Cowboys-Dolphins.
8) Someone on Twitter actually researched this: of the 68 NCAA tournament teams, 52 wear Nike, 13 adidas, three Under Armour. Alrighty then.
7) ESPN figured out that Andrew Bynum is making $46,700 a day from the 76ers this season, and he won’t play a game for them. We need to invent the Blunder Hall of Fame, and give awards each year for stuff like this. Bynum would definitely be one of this year’s winners; either him or the guy who traded for him in Philly.
6) I’ve never had SPAM. It looks gross. Apparently people eat this stuff. I’m not sure why. Anyone out there who likes it or knows someone who likes it, please clue me in. I'm told its very salty.
5) Heat-Celtic game Monday night was ESPN’s highest-rated regular season NBA game, ever.
4) Maryland beat Duke two out of three this year; one of Terps’ players is Logan Aronholt, who spent the last three years playing for the Albany Great Danes, who play Duke Friday afternoon in Philly.
Wonder if Aronholt shared the Terps’ scouting knowledge on Duke with his former teammates. They’ll need all the help they can get.
3) It snowed all day Tuesday in beautiful downtown Albany, which is actually slushy downtown Albany; it is March 20, Opening Day is 11 days away and it snowed all day. That said, today is the first day of spring and spring will be welcome here this year, for sure.
2) It still boggles my mind that Super Bowl next February is in Swamp Stadium in New Jersey; what, the Arctic Circle was booked that day? San Diego isn’t good enough? Miami? Phoenix? It just seems wrong.
1) Robert Morris 59, Kentucky 57-- Wonder if this result pumps LIU up for its play-in game with James Madison tonight? Seeing a league rival have success on TV has to boost your confidence, no?
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Watching replay of the Giants-Rockies game over the weekend; Giant announcers were saying that Opening Day is a sellout, unless of course you buy a Giants 6-pack. In other words, the game is sold out unless you want to buy tickets for five other crummy games, then they’ll miraculously find you tickets for the home opener. Slimy.
12) Walt Weiss is the new manager of the Rockies; he wants Colorado to carry 13 pitchers on its roster for its home series, only 12 on road trips, due to the extra offense in games at Coors Field.
Interesting concept, not sure it is doable, since once a guy gets sent down he has to stay there for 15 days, except to replace an injured player.
11) Funny story in the NYC papers Monday about how the Saint Louis Billikens were stuck in traffic heading to the airport for their flight home from the A-16 tournament Sunday, so they stopped in a Best Buy in Secaucus, NJ to watch the Selection Show on CBS. Imagine being in that store and seeing 15-20 really tall people walk in the store, all dressed in sweats?
10) From 1987-98, #3 seeds were 38-10 SU in the first round, meaning one lost pretty much every year. From 1999 on, #3 seeds are 53-3 SU, as gap between big boys and low majors has widened.
9) Three of the four play-in game winners have to play day games in their second tournament game; that doesn’t seem right. You play on Tuesday night and then again Thursday afternoon? Would think play-in winners would all get night games in next round.
8) Didn’t know that NBA referees aren’t allowed to work the same team’s games within five days of each other. You learn stuff listening to Mike Breen on ESPN.
7) Of the 16 head coaches in the South region of the NCAA tournament, 10 have coached in a Final Four, and two of the other six are John Beilein and Keith Dambrot, who was Lebron James’ high school coach. Its a heavyweight region for coaches.
6) Four of the six oldest players in the NBA play for the Knicks; Kurt Thomas is the oldest player in the league, one day older than Grant Hill.
5) CBS put Steve Kerr in a 3-man booth with Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg for the tournament, creating more work for the mute button. Kellogg never lets Kerr finish a sentence, always putting his stamp of approval/disapproval on every thought. I miss the days when Billy Packer was his old grumpy self as an analyst on the air. No one interrupted him.
4) CIT is one of the lesser postseason basketball tournaments; they have Loyola, Md-Boston U as a first round matchup, which doesn’t look like much, but those teams are both headed to the Patriot League next year, so from here on in, they’ll be league rivals.
3) Over the last six years, underdogs are 18-6 vs spread in those 8-9 first round matchups.
2) Odd baseball trade this weekend; as Phillies dealt minor league pitcher Mike Cisco to the Angels......for nothing!!! Cisco is 13-3, 1.73 the last two years in minors (AA/AAA); he pitched at South Carolina, is grandson of former big league pitcher Galen Cisco, so he isn't a stiff.
Officially, he was dealt "for no compensation". Alrighty then.
1) Rupp Arena is hosting NCAA tournament games this weekend, so they put Kentucky's NIT game on the road, at Robert Morris; big event for Colonials, who sold the game out already, then cancelled classes on Tuesday.
Thing is, its also a home game for John Calipari, who is from the Pittsburgh area. He grew up in Moon Township, went to Clarion State.
Monday's List of 13: First impressions on field of 68............
13) Hopefully ESPN or CBS will do a feature on how teams scurry for scouting video after the field of 68 is announced. Its an interesting process; the Charleston, SC newspaper ran an article that credited the sophistication of video scouting as a reason for the deep decline in scoring.
I mean, do you think New Mexico has a lot of film on Harvard? Marquette has to be scrambling for knowledge on Davidson, and how much does New Mexico State know about Saint Louis? Lot of scrambling going on.
12) My dad's comment while CBS showed the brackets Sunday: "Who the hell is Florida Gulf Coast?" Eagles beat a banged-up Miami team, way back on November 13, but they turn ball over 21% of time, have only two seniors, and are in serious trouble against Georgetown.
11) Lon Kruger went 1-8 in his last nine games vs San Diego State when he was coaching at UNLV; now his Oklahoma Sooners will try to solve this defensively-stout Aztec team. Should be low-scoring.
10) Oregon is a 12-seed? They wouldn't have been in the tournament had they not beaten UCLA late Saturday night? Wow.
9) No Pac-12 team was seeded higher than sixth. Yikes.
8) Northwestern State upset Iowa in a 3-14 game in '06, but this Florida team is a lot better than that Iowa team. Not a great draw for the Demons.
7) Miami is the first ACC team ever to win the regular season/conference tournament to not get a #1 seed in the NCAAs.
6) I'm tired of hearing how NC State underachieved this season; maybe the pundits did a horrible job picking them so high in the preseason, maybe the expectations in Raleigh are placed way too high, the same way they were before Herb Sendek bolted NC State for Arizona State in 2006, after he made the NCAA tournament five years in a row.
5) No national champion lost their first conference tournament game, which would rule out Duke; since 1985, only three teams won the national title after not being in the tournament the year before.
4) Hats off to Western Kentucky/New Mexico, who looked like they had huge crowds in their arena just to see the brackets unveiled.
3) Virginia (#27) has best kenpom.com rating to not make tournament; the lesson? ACC teams shouldn't go 0-3 against CAA teams.
2) I got tired of ESPN showing Joe Lunardi's Last 4 in/Last 4 out for a whole month, but dammit, he hit it 100% this year, has missed only 10 teams in the last nine years, so kudos to him on being really good at his job.
1) Here's an early Final Four pick off the top of my bald head:
Miami-Florida-Louisville-Gonzaga, with Louisville winning it.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.........
13) Media types whining all weekend about the end of the Big East fail to realize the Big East isn't going away, Syracuse is. Pitt, Rutgers started in Atlantic 10, Notre Dame was an independent, Louisville came over from Conference USA, so Syracuse's bolting for the ACC's football money is the only deep-rooted change here. That, and UConn being left behind.
Louisville's 44-10 run after trailing by 16 makes them the favorite to win the NCAA tournament; takes pressure off the other #1 seeds.
12) Pretty cool scene in Big West tournament, as Pacific beat Cal-Irvine, in coach Bob Thomason's last season coaching his alma mater after 25 years. Pacific is moving to the WCC next year, giving that league ten teams.
11) Refs called a horrible charge on Shabazz Muhammad in first half of UCLA-Oregon game, and Ben Howland made like Al Oerter, tossing his suit jacket into the second row of the stands. He got a technical, and his Bruins got drilled 78-69 by the resurgent Oregon Ducks.
10) Anybody who had North Carolina lasting longer than Duke in the ACC tourney, raise your hand. Put your hand down, you're lying.
9) Montana beat Weber State in the Big Sky tournament for the fourth year in a row, 67-64. Weber was the better team this season, with Mathias Ward out for the Griz, but the game was played in Bozeman, and the stripes gave Montana the benefit of the whistle.
8) With Stephen F Austin/Texas-Arlington both losing Saturday, it means that no teams from Texas will be in the NCAA tournament- when was the last time that happened?
7) These flagrant fouls on accidental contact are getting ridiculous. Game is becoming too babified. These games have three refs making $1,500 apiece; time to stop video reviewing every little thing. Let the kids play; if the three refs didn't see it, then it didn't happen, the exception being clock issues.
6) Memphis finished 19-0 in Conference USA, beating Southern Miss in double OT, 91-79. Eagles were hurt by 15-28 foul shooting.
5) Northwestern finally canned Bill Carmody, who was 192-210 in 13 years with the Wildcats; academics are no excuse for losing in basketball, for example, Vanderbilt has a good team most every year. And Duke, too. For a team that close to Chicago to rarely have a winning record, its just not good.
4) Why coaches get fired if they lose: they're expensive. Colorado State's Larry Eustachy has a base salary of $750,000; if the Rams win 20+ games and stay off probation, he makes another $100,000. Make it to the NCAA's, Eustachy bags another $250,000. Make the Sweet 16, $100,000 more.
If Eustachy doesn't cash that $250,000 bonus too many years in a row, he'll be looking for a job, just like Coach Carmody. Its a cruel business, but if you win, its pretty damn lucrative, which is why recruiting is so cutthroat.
3) Odd Stat of the Day, NBA version: Washington Wizards are 15-2 vs the spread this season if they're on back end of a back-to-back.
2) Team USA lost in WBC, tickets for the semis/finals in San Francisco Sunday-Tuesday have been discounted to as little as $8. You go to a baseball game in the Bronx, you can't get a beer for $8.
1) For bubble teams, Sunday is the longest of days; for most of the teams, just getting in the NCAA tournament is a win-- how many can really win six (seven) games in a row and the national championship?
We'll be here tomorrow with our first impressions on the field of 68.
Saturday's List of 13: Wrapping up a fantastic Friday of hoops......
13) Another 14-hour day of basketball, with evening part of the card just filled with good action. Last game of the night was one of the more emotional games, as Pacific gave coach Bob Thomason one last appearance in Big West title game with a dramatic 55-53 win over Cal Poly in Anaheim.
Thomason is retiring after 25 years as Pacific's coach; the Tigers are moving to the WCC next year. Pacific plays Cal-Irvine for the Big West title.
12) Kentucky got spanked 64-48 by Vanderbilt; they're still winless away from Rupp Arena since Nerlens Noel got hurt. Most pundits have Kentucky out of the NCAAs; couple even suggested that the Wildcats' body language Friday looked like they wouldn't mind if the season ended.
11) Maryland beat Duke 83-74, just second time in 11 years Blue Devils lost their first ACC tournament game; the other time, they were 8-8 in ACC that season. This year, they were 14-4. Very disappointing loss for Duke.
10) Which reminds us that no team has ever won the national title if they lost their first conference tournament game that season.
9) Wisconsin 68, Michigan 59-- Badgers scored 17 points in first half, 51 in second. Wolverines split their last 12 games after a 20-1 start.
8) Ole Miss 64, Missouri 62-- Rebels outscored Missouri 18-6 over final 8:48 to pull out a win and keep their NCAA hopes alive. Ole Miss will be favored to beat Vandy today and get to the SEC finals.
7) Southern Mississippi shot 58.5% against UTEP, not easy to do against a Tim Floyd-defense, as Golden Eagles advanced with a 85-67 win over the Miners. USM plays Memphis (18-0 in C-USA) today for the title.
6) UCLA beat Arizona for third time this season, 66-64, but lost freshman star Jordan Adams for season with a broken foot; he had 24 points for the Bruins Friday, 18 in the second half.
5) Three conference finals will be played within 3.4 miles of each other in Las Vegas Saturday, with New Mexico-UNLV hottest ticket of the three. UCLA-Oregon and New Mexico State/UT-Arlington are the other two. You like college basketball, Las Vegas is your town Saturday.
4) North Carolina sophomore PJ Hairston, who sparked a recent 7-1 UNC hot streak, tore up his hand in a bloody accident late in Tar Heels' 83-62 win over Florida State. Not sure what the injury is, but anything with the hand is obviously going to hamper his ability to catch the ball.
3) Zeke Marshall almost single-handedly saved Akron's season, with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 7 blocks, as the Zips held off rival Kent State 62-59, its first win since PG Alex Abreu was suspended indefinitely.
2) Flip side of winning is losing; Buffalo fired coach Reggie Witherspoon on Friday, after a 14-20/7-9 season. Bulls are 47-33 in MAC play over last five years, so Witherspoon did a pretty good job, but he hadn't made the NCAAs in 14 years, and in today's world, that gets you fired.
1) I'm thinking that the selection committee has a very hard job this year; moreso than usual. Not much separates these bubble teams, but if you don't want to be sad Sunday night, like we said earlier this week, then win more.
Friday's List of 13: Wrapping up one of the best days of the year....
13) Our day started just after noon with Charlotte-Richmond in Brooklyn, ended 14 hours later, with Oregon's OT win over Washington in Las Vegas. Quite a day of college hoop, with more to come today........
12) Richmond was up 63-60 with 0:06 left; they fouled on purpose so that Charlotte couldn't tie the game with a trey, but when Derrick Williams was called for a (shaky) technical foul while blocking out on the first foul shot, all hell broke loose, as Richmond coach Mooney got two more technicals and was tossed. Charlotte made 8-11 foul shots in the last five seconds, and got a 68-63 win, when they probably thought they were dead.
My view was that Williams should've been given a regular foul and not a technical, which would've kept the Spiders alive in the game.
11) Richmond lost because they fouled on purpose while up 3; Cal Bears lost to Utah because they didn't foul, and Utes tied game with a trey with 0:09 left, before beating Cal 79-69 in OT. Utah has now won four in a row.
10) WAC bracket is wide open, with top two seeds Louisiana Tech and Denver both losing already; Tech was 16-0 in the WAC, but has now lost its last three games. Very disappointing for them.
9) MEAC bracket is even worse; #1-4 seeds all lost to the #5-8 seeds, so seeds #5-8 play in the semis Friday. Winner of this tournment is definitely going to Dayton next week.
8) Baylor battled back from down 42-24 at half, tied game with 0:19 left, then lost on a cheesy foul call with 0:03 left as Oklahoma State edged Baylor, 74-72. Bears needed a run this week, are likely headed to the NIT.
7) UCLA was down 15 with 16:00 left to Arizona State, but ASU's lack of depth and their having played the night before wore the Sun Devils down, as Bruins survived 80-75. ASU only used seven players (7th played just 3:00).
6) Looking through all these boxscores, it surprises me that very few teams use more than three subs for 10+ minutes, and most only use two. So little depth means that one injury can wreak havoc, even with a team like Duke, which got a huge jolt when Ryan Kelly got healthy.
5) Halftime interviews are interesting; coaches who don't get on TV much are way more eager to talk than the guys who are on all the time. Cal-Irvine coach Russell Turner sounded like he would've talked the whole 15 minutes at halftime of his game with Hawai'i. Fact that he was up 22 at the time had to help. Turner has the Anteaters headed in the right direction.
4) Iowa State was down 37-29 at half to Oklahoma, but rallied to win 73-66, Cyclones' first conference tourney win in eight years. ISU survived a crummy day by star G Lucious (0-8 from floor), will play Kansas today.
3) Georgia Tech was up 15-0 over Boston College, then lost by 20, in one of the bigger tank jobs in recent memory. Freshman Olivier Hanlan scored 41 points, making 8-10 behind the arc; BC was 14-24 overall on 3-balls.
2) Syracuse made 12-19 behind the arc, dispatched Pitt 62-59; Panthers wound up with only one win in their last five Big East tourneys. Both Pitt and the Orangemen start playing in the ACC next year.
1) Friday night will be tremendous, with 26 games, 18 of them semi-finals in conference tournaments, after four quarterfinal twinbills in the afternoon.
Thursday's List of 13: Looking at baseball props for 2013........
If you like to wager on props in Las Vegas, LVH Casino is a great place to do it; here are some numbers they put out on the 2013 baseball season:
13) Over/under on home runs hit by any player, 43.5.
12) Over/under on home runs hit by Albert Pujols, 33.5.
11) Over/under on RBI by any player, 130.5.
10) Over/under on runs scored by any player: 124.5.
9) Over/under on hits by any player, 212.5.
8) Over/under on hits by Andrew McCutchen, 167.5.
7) Over/under on doubles by any player, 50.5.
6) Over/under on triples by any player, 15.5 (a healthy Jose Reyes will go over 15.5, the qualifier being he has to stay healthy).
5) Over/under on stolen bases by any player, 55.5.
4) Over/under on wins by any pitcher, 21.5.
3) Over/under on wins by Yu Darvish, 13.5.
2) Over/under on complete games by any pitcher, 6.5.
1) Over/under on strikeouts by any pitcher, 248.5.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) This question dawned on me today: Is Rick Pitino the greatest all-time coach of other coaches? Billy Donovan-Travis Ford-Marvin Menzies-Jim O’Brien-Richard Pitino-Herb Sendek-Tubby Smith-Reggie Theus-Jeff Van Gundy- Ralph/Kevin Willard-Sean Woods all worked for Pitino.
Its an interesting question, but I think the answer is yes.
12) Then there is Ole Miss, where there are rumors that Andy Kennedy will be gone if the Rebels don’t make the NCAAs. Are you serious?
You try competing in same league as Kentucky/Florida in basketball at a school where one of the primary mascots is still an old white dude carrying the Confederate Flag. Seriously.
If Kennedy gets canned, his agent’s cellphone will blow up with job offers from other schools. Good jobs, too.
11) Holly Madison is taking heat for naming her daughter Rainbow Aurora; maybe she’s just a fan of the knuckleball, and is naming her daughter after Toronto pitcher RA Dickey. Or maybe she just likes unusual names.
10) Sometimes its fun to grade the conferences during Championship Week by who announces the championship game of their tournament; for example, Bob Valvano did Summit League game, which puts them ahead of the MAAC, who had some guy I hadn't heard all year doing Manhattan-Iona Monday night. Bill Raftery used to do the MAAC game every year.
9) There is a TV show called Robot Combat League, kind of a life-sized version of Rock ‘em/Sock ‘em Robots. It is hosted by pro wrestler Chris Jericho, and its on the list with Amish Mafia of shows I’ll never watch.
8) Its that time of year; someone took an ad out in the Wake Forest student newspaper calling for the ouster of basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik, who is regarded as a superior tactician, but hasn’t recruited well. Can’t win without good players.
7) I truly enjoy the NFL, but how does an ESPN radio talkshow devote its whole show to NFL free agency in March, where there is March Madness, the NBA/NHL and spring training going on? I can see doing it the day the 2013 schedule comes out, but the few hours before free agency? No thanks.
6) That said, the I-heart radio app on my I-Phone is outstanding. Listen to a music station in Fort Myers and hear car dealer Billy Fuccillo yelling “HUGE!!!!!” into my ears during commercials. Fuccillo is everywhere, and his commercials are great fun, as commercials go.
5) One college AD was complaining over weekend that out of 31 basketball conferences that get an automatic bid, only one not concerned with some form of realignment is the Ivy League. Tough time to be an AD; you don’t want your school to lose out in this high stakes game of musical chairs. Even the Patriot League added Loyola, Md and Boston U for next season.
4) In case you were wondering, Saturday is National Meatball Day. Just thought you’d like to know.
3) The more I observe Indiana coach Tom Crean, the more I wonder: Do coaches ever get drug tested? He acts like he sucks down a gallon of Red Bull before every game. His outburst at end of the Michigan game was odd.
2) If you had Iona -4 Monday night, my condolences; Gaels led by 8 with 0:06 left over Manhattan; Jaspers go length of court, stick a 3 from left corner, clock stops with 0:00.1 left, and some combination of Iona players/ fans come on the court to celebrate, because they thought the game was over.
Now none of the celebrants made it onto the TV shot, so how far onto the court could they have gotten?
Refs called a technical, Jaspers made both foul shots, lost by 3 and covered the spread, scoring five points in less than a second. Very hideous way to lose a bet; seems like given the circumstances, common sense would’ve dictated just clear them off the floor and play the last 0:00.1, but that’s not what happened, maybe partly because the refs had given Manhattan coach Masiello a technical for being out of the coaches’ box earlier in second half.
1) “Someone is going to win the national title, but is any team capable of playing six good games in a row?”
Read someone ask that on Twitter this week, and its another fair question. Every team has a significant flaw; the eventual champ will probably have to grind out at least one game in the tournament, when they don’t bring their A game, which makes filling your bracket out so interesting.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but...........
13) Three weeks ago, if I had told you that Michigan, NC State and Butler would all miss out on byes in their leagues, you’d have called me nuts, but it happened. At one point, I thought Michigan was best team in the country, but now they’re the #5 seed in the Big Dozen. Go figure.
12) Good news: my alma mater Albany is playing on ESPN Saturday morning at Vermont in the America East title game.
Bad news: Vermont clocked them twice this season, 70-45 and 50-43. Great Danes’ coach Will Brown is a good guy and we wish him well.
11) Pet peeve: The term “student-athlete”. This annoying phrase is most always spoken by bureaucrats who makes hundreds and thousands of dollars off of kids, who are way more athletes than students, though many are both. Just call them “kids” or “athletes” or “players” or more accurately “athlete-students”.
10) UTSA-San Jose State are playing in first round of WAC tournament this week in Las Vegas; they were supposed to play last weekend in San Jose, but game got rained out because the roof in San Jose leaks and it was raining out-- since both teams are awful, they didn’t bother rescheduling it.
9) Over last two years, Western Kentucky is 17-19 in Sun Belt regular season games, 8-0 in conference tournament games- they beat Mississippi Valley State by a point in a First Four game in Dayton LY, then got beat by Kentucky by 15 in the next round. They could be going back to Dayton.
8) I was looking at a list of free agents for my fantasy baseball league (16-team keeper league, 25-man rosters) and one set of stats from last year stood out to me: Chipper Jones, but obviously he is retired.
Have to keep on my toes in case the Bronx Bombers try to weasel in and get him to unretire-- his initial response was no, and Bronx is apparently trying to sign Derrek Lee now.
7) So I’m watching the Dodger-Rockies game Sunday and Colorado brings in a pitcher named Parker Frazier, whose dad George happens to be Rockies’ TV analyst. Tough gig for George when his kid gives up two runs on his first three pitches. Thought he might make a joke, but he just said, “I’m not going to lie to you, its tough seeing your kid give up a home run.”
6) Score a victory for common sense; New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling overturned the un-American ban on 20+-ounce sodas put in by New York City's billionaire Mayor Bloomberg. When you start to restrict the civil liberties of people that much, where do you draw the line?
5) Tough day for my Rams; Seahawks traded for Percy Harvin, 49ers got Anquan Boldin from Baltimore, and my Rams, who desperately need any WR who can get open and catch the ball? Nothing yet.
Rams have two first round draft picks, so they'll make their moves, but the competition in the NFC West got stronger Monday.
4) Weird story about Miami Hurricanes’ basketball star Shane Larkin, whose dad is baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.
When he was a little kid, Shane went to baseball practice and tried to bat like Tony Perez, another former Reds’ great. Whatever genius he had for a coach ripped young Larkin, saying whoever taught him to hit didn’t know what he was talking about. Um, OK.....
Shane went home in tears, and both elder and younger Larkin claim that to this day, Shane has never picked up a bat since then.
Miami hoop coach Jim Larranaga probably likes that story.
3) Not sure this is good news, but when David DeJesus won Cubs’ bunting tournament at spring training last week, guy named Nate Halm finished second. Don’t pick Halm up for your fantasy team; he’s an assistant in the Cubs’ video department who once played college ball at Miami, OH.
Maybe the Cubs should just play for big innings this year.
2) Bizarre graphic of the year: Oakland scored the first hoop in its game against Fort Wayne Sunday night; a small graphic appears on the bottom of the screen: “Oakland is 9-3 when it scores first.”
Now, kudos to a dedicated soul who researched that tidbit, but its basketball people, who cares?!?!?! When does scoring first matter in basketball? Not since the shot clock came in. Yikes.
1) My advice to any college basketball teams who aren’t in the top 25; don’t assume you have an NCAA bid locked up. Win as many games as you can. Take nothing for granted. Play with a sense of urgency.
Some of the longest days of your life are the days between losing in the conference tournament and waiting to see if you got an at-large bid. No one is going to be listening to the teams who are wailing Sunday night when they’re a top seed in the NIT instead of one of the 68 happy teams in the country. Its very simple: keep winning, and you’ll wind up grinning.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) 15-20 Liberty won the Big South tournament and will likely head to Dayton for the First Four next Tuesday/Wednesday; Flames started season 0-8, are coached by former Colorado State coach Dale Layer.
12) Big East wants $2.5M from Notre Dame for the Irish to leave for the ACC a year early. Seeing as those other seven schools are leaving to form their own league next year, not sure why Notre Dame would have to pay.
11) Los Angeles Angels used a designated runner for Albert Pujols when they played the Reds/Royals this week. Not sure if they had a keg on second base or not, but designated runners are highly unusual, even in the spring.
10) When Graeme McDowell double-bogeyed 18th hole at Doral Sunday, it cost him $172,500. Thats an expensive hole.
9) Speaking of the 18th at Doral, Luke Donald played it four times this week, and doubled it all four times. If he pars the hole all four days, he only makes an additional $32,500, thats how far back he finished (T43).
8) Quick question: How much money does Butch Harmon make? Anyone who coaches Phil Mickelson and used to coach Eldrick Woods has to make a small fortune teaching golf, no?
7) Middle Tennessee did it again; despite going 19-1 in Sun Belt regular season, Blue Raiders lost in Sun Belt tourney, this time to Richard Pitino's FIU Panthers, 61-57. Middle is 2-5 in SBC tournament the last five years, 66-20 in the regular season. Not good.
Some notes on upcoming conference tournaments..........
6) Big X-- Kansas is 16-2 in this event last seven years; Texas, which has to win the tournament to make the NCAAs, is just 4-4 last four years and has never won the tourney, going 0-6 in the finals.
5) Conference USA-- Memphis has dominated this event, going 20-2 last eight years, with both losses by a point- its useless to mention anyone else.
4) Big Dozen-- Indiana is 1-6 in this event last six years; Michigan went W-L in each of its last six tourneys. Ohio State is 15-4 last seven years.
3) Big East-- Louisville is 9-2 last four years, Pitt 1-4. Syracuse hasn't won this event since Gerry McNamara carried them in '06. This is the last time we'll see Syracuse in this event, which doesn't seem right.
2) Atlantic 16-- Temple won this event three years in row, 2008-10, but won only one game last two years, despite being 27-5 in regular season. Owls need to win a game or two this week to make the NCAAs.
1) ACC-- Duke won 22 of last 26 ACC tournament games, with two of four losses in OT; Virginia is 1-5 last five years- they might need a win or two to get themselves in the field of 68.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) San Diego State-Boise State was a physical, chippy game; these same teams will play in the 4-5 game at the MWC tourney in Las Vegas Wednesday, the midnight game. Both teams deserve to be in the NCAAs, but that midnight game Wednesday might be the game of the day.
Mountain West added a day off in between the first round and semifinals on Friday, so they don't have any games on Thursday.
12) First round of the Sun Belt tournament is weird; everyone is in Hot Springs, AR, but games are played in two different gyms at same time. I'm watching the Troy State game and without a word, they switch to the end of the South Alabama game. I liked that they try to show us everything, but it did confuse me some, which these days isn't all that difficult.
11) Memphis beat UAB by 15, finished 16-0 in Conference USA; it does not matter what league you're in, finishing unbeaten is an accomplishment to be proud of- they had to beat Southern Miss, UTEP twice each.
10) Valparaiso 70, Green Bay 69-- Top-seeded Crusaders trailed 68-64 with 0:10 left, but stuck two treys in last 0:08, including one at the buzzer to send the home crowd home happy. Bitter loss for Green Bay.
9) Kentucky 61, Florida 57-- Gators didn't score for last 7:36, as Wildcats probably got the marquee win they need to make field of 68.
8) CBS showed Florida-Kentucky at noon, UCLA-Washington at 2:00, then Notre Dame-Louisville at 4:00; why make west coast teams play an 11:00 am local tipoff, instead of 1:00? Makes very little sense.
7) Georgetown 61, Syracuse 39-- Orangemen head to their last Big East tournament 1-4 in their last five games, 5-7 in their last twelve.
6) These upsets all happened in the 6-8 timeslot Saturday:
-- Fresno State 61, UNLV 52-- Bulldogs swept the Rebels this season.
-- Air Force 89, New Mexico 88-- Improved Falcons are 17-12.
-- Baylor 81, Kansas 58-- This score defies description.
5) UNLV's loss puts them in the noon local time game Thursday against Air Force, which will hurt the home attendance and get them a much tougher opponent- Princeton offense is a pain to defend, and Rebels didn't fare well against Air Force this year, splitting a pair, with the win in OT.
4) Halftime score: TCU 44, Oklahoma 22-- Sooners rallied, lost by 3; if you are a bubble team, you cannot lose to TCU in March. Hard to defend in a meeting room when your name comes up in front of the committee.
3) I'd be curious to know the politics involved with Italy coming to Arizona to play in the WBC, with the Cuban team going to Asia; did the Cubans not want to come to America, and risk having players defect?
2) Little tired of hearing NYC media types complaining about all the injuries the Knicks are having. This just in: older players get hurt more, and no one has an older roster than New York.
1) They don't move the clocks ahead in Arizona, so on Saturday night it is a two hour time difference between them and the east, but for the next six months, they're three hours behind. Have no idea why that is true, but it is.
Saturday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) There was a crowd of 44,256 at Chase Field for US-Mexico, with walk-up crowd of 8,500. From looking at WBC website, cheapest ticket appeared to be $18, so someone made a freakin' fortune on this game.
12) Adrian Gonzalez was doing a lot of fist-shaking as he played 1B for the Mexican team; hopefully he will play with as much enthusiasm for the Dodgers this year as he did in this game.
11) US team is stupidly batting Giancarlo Stanton 7th, apparently they want a lefty (Eric Hosmer) batting between David Wright/Stanton, two righty hitters. How about this? Bat your best hitters higher in the order, so they get more ABs. Simple, yet sensible.
10) Fox Sports 1, which hopes to challenge ESPN as a college network, will television a primetime Thursday Night college football game every week and a football tripleheader on Saturdays. Just what my thumb needs, more exercise working the remote.
9) Gunner Kiel hasn't played a college football game yet; he's already reneged on commitments to Indiana and LSU and now is transferring out of Notre Dame (which makes sense because he ain't beating Everett Golson out, and Golson has three years left to play).
Question is this: What program will take a chance on Kiel to be a leader of their team, when he can't play until 2014, two years after his last game (in high school) action? You have to be able to depend on your quarterback, but over the last two years, Kiel has been anything but dependable.
8) New Jersey Giants kept ticket prices the same for fourth year in row, primarily because they made those same fans pony up big money for PSLs so they could buy new tickets for their new stadium that wasn't needed.
PSLs are legalized form of extortion. Nice to know the Giants feel bad about extorting their loyal fans. Oh, they raised parking price from $25 to $30.
7) Brewers/Twins have most players playing in WBC (13); that includes minor leaguers.
6) San Jose's home basketball game Thursday was rained out; leaky roof. Now Spartans have to hire a new coach and a roofer.
5) Pretty good commercial for CBSSports.com fantasy baseball, with Bobby Valentine poking fun at himself for getting fired several times as a manager. Valentine is the new AD at Sacred Heart, so he gets to fire people now- the baseball coach at Sacred Heart is Nick Giacquinto, who has been there for 25 years and who also played four years in the NFL.
4) Portland 136, San Antonio 106-- Game was tied at half, then Blazers scored 79 points in second half. Don't see Spurs get beat like that too often.
3) Blackhawks lost 6-2 in Denver, their first regulation loss in 25 games this season- they've also lost three games in OT/SO.
2) Atlanta Falcons are getting a new stadium? What? They won't play in the Georgia Dome anymore, the place where the greatest football game ever played (Rams 23, Titans 16) took place? I am appalled.
1) Apparently people who will elect the next Pope aren't college basketball fans, since they're doing it next week, during conference tournaments. Good thing I'm not involved in this process, or else I'd have to text in my vote.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here.......
13) Brian Cashman makes $3M a year as GM of Bronx Bombers; we’re going to see if he’s worth it, as Bombers have been hit with a rash of injuries to their aging squad, so much so that the Big Apple talk show circuit was abuzz with panic late Wednesday.
ARod is probably out for the year, Granderson-Teixeira are done for at least April, and Rivera-Jeter are still recovering from major injuries. Right now, this isn’t a good team, and the way they rip their fans off for tickets, having a bad season isn’t really an option.
Lets see if Cashman can find replacements at 1B/LF and keep things pasted together until Granderson/Teixeira get healthy; that’s what general managers have to do now and then, when they don’t have a huge stack of cash to hide behind. Right now, Dan Johnson looks to be the Bronx 1B.
12) One jackass in NYC media already declared the Minnesota Twins to be “bums….guaranteed to lose 100+ games this season” and suggested the Twins trade Justin Morneau to the Bronx. That’s the Bronx mentality; the other 29 teams should serve as a farm system to their beloved Bombers, but that’s not reality. If Robinson Cano jumps ship after this season, and this is his walk year, it could be a steep decline for the Pinstripers.
11) Do people in China go to the movies? If they do, wonder what they thought watching Moneyball, then finding out Art Howe was the new hitting coach of their national team?
He was woefully misrepresented in the movie, but still, going from winning 100+ games as a big league skipper to being hitting coach of the Chinese National team is quite a drop down the career ladder.
10) Speaking of hitting, why would anyone bat righthanded? Why? What advantage is there to it? I know batting lefty, there is a 2-3 step advantage because you start off closer to first base.
Notice that most of the Japanese players bat lefty.
9) Asian baseball fans get fired up watching games; lot of chanting, singing, thundersticks, just a lot of noise and vocal support. And that’s before their team scores any runs.
8) If I ran the San Diego Padres, and no one thinks I should, I’d go back to the white uniforms with brown and gold trim, but that’s just me. Always liked those uniforms.
7) San Diego State has a basketball player named DeShawn Stephens who got cut from HS team his senior year at Chatsworth High, then played two years at Santa Monica College before joining the Aztecs, where he is playing an average of 21.6 mpg. Good lesson for kids to never give up; how many kids get cut as a senior in HS and wind up playing for a top 20 team?
6) Duke can’t be too worried about Ryan Kelly’s foot anymore; he played 31 minutes in a 30-point blowout win over Virginia Tech, after playing 32 vs Miami Saturday. Blue Devils visit Chapel Hill Saturday night.
Don’t want to hear TV types whining about Duke’s injury woes; if Kelly plays 31 minutes in a 30-point blowout, he is fine.
5) Atlantic 16 (not sure how many teams they’ll have next year, but it seems to go down every year now) has moved its conference tournament from Atlantic City to Brooklyn. Is this a good move?
Its an NBA arena, but for out-of-town fans, is this a better destination to spend a weekend than Atlantic City? I’m asking, I really don’t know, though off the bat, my first answer would be no.
4) I’m watching the crawl of spring training scores on ESPN and I see HR- Crawford (1) so I’m pumped up, figuring Carl Crawford finally batted in a game and hit a homer. Not so fast; turns out it was Brandon Crawford of the Giants. Carl Crawford, the $140M man, has yet to play this spring; he just started hitting off a tee this week. Take your time, big fella.
3) One of the best bosses I’ve ever had posted this on the corner of the whiteboard in his office: “If its not fatal, its no big deal.” More people should follow this advice, including myself.
2) There are rumors that DirecTV will drop the NFL Sunday Ticket after the 2014 season; if that’s true, then I’ll be dropping DirecTV too.
1) I get a text from my cousin during the day this week; it says, “In shock …. Bill Moody died.” Now I have no idea who Bill Moody is, but I assumed it was a friend of his who passed away, so I texted him my condolences.
Turns out that Bill Moody was the real name of the guy who played Paul Bearer, the Undertaker’s manager on the WWE telecasts. Alrighty then.
RIP, Bill Moody. Wonder who his pallbearers were.
Thursday's List of 13: Random Lists of Three............
13) Three best QB’s in 2:00 drill; in other words, my team is down three points, 2:00 to go, we've got the ball on our 20. These are the three QB’s I would I want on my side: John Elway-Kurt Warner-Tom Brady.
People who know me will howl because I’m a Ram fan, but in all three Super Bowls Warner played in, he led his team to the tying/go-ahead TD in the last 3:00. He has the three highest passing yardage games in Super Bowl history, out of 46 games. I rest my case.
12) If I could go back to age 17 and make my college choice all over again, I’d be a smart human and narrow it down to these three schools: Arizona State-Pepperdine-Cal-Santa Barbara. I mean really, only a damn fool puts Oneonta State down as a potential college destination.
As it was, I stayed home and went to UAlbany which worked out OK, just that with a little effort, I could’ve given myself a major weather upgrade.
11) My three favorite places to eat: Battista’s on Flamingo in Las Vegas (across from Bally’s), Delmonico’s here in beautiful downtown Colonie and any Steak ‘n Shake (one in Kissimmee, FL is good, as is the one in South Point Hotel in Las Vegas).
10) If I could invite any three people to dinner, so I could pick their brains, I’d choose Bob Uecker, Bill James and Billy Beane.
9) Three best helmets in the NFL: Rams-Chargers-Saints. Whoever decided San Diego should go back to the white helmets deserves a raise.
8) Three best events I’ve been lucky enough to see in person: 2000 NFC title game, Rams-Bucs in St Louis; 2008 World Series Game 3, Rays-Phillies; Alabama at Tennessee in Knoxville, in 2004. SEC football is an event unique in its intensity.
7) Vacation bucket list, and I intend to do all three of these after I retire from the day job: A’s spring training in Arizona; an LSU home night football game; a day at the 16th hole at the Phoenix Open golf tournament.
6) My three all-time favorite movie scenes:
Nick Nolte/Bob Cousy talking while Cousy shoots free throws in a dimly hit gym in Blue Chips. Some of the dialogue was ad-libbed and it was done in one take.
In the movie Dave, at the end, when Secret Service guy Ving Rhames tells Kevin Kline, who was an actor standing in for the President, that he would’ve taken a bullet for him. Dave is an underrated movie.
Al Pacino’s “Game of Inches” speech in Any Given Sunday. Actually, the scene with Pacino and Robert Deniro talking in a diner in Heat is also a very good scene, two heavyweights working together.
5) Three underrated sports rivalries....
-- Falcons-Saints-- They came into the NFL a year apart, and have best rivals in same division most of that time.
Richmond-VCU-- Teams are in same city, same league again, and they play contrasting styles.
-- Seton Hall-Rutgers-- Teams recruited against each other as they both tried to become relevant in Big East; now Rutgers is moving on to the Big Dozen, and they'll still recruit against each other. You can't win games on the floor until you win a few recruiting battles.
4) Three people I’d like to see get inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame: Charles Oscar Finley, former owner/GM of the A’s, Bill James, who is responsible for the increased use of numbers/analytics and Dr Frank Jobe, who pioneered Tommy John surgery in 1974.
Who has done more for baseball than that guy? (You could have a medical wing to the HOF with Dr James Andrews in it, too).
3) Three best college mascots: Chanticleers (Coastal Carolina), Anteaters (Cal-Irvine) and Horned Frogs (TCU).
2) Three best baseball caps: Oakland A’s (same hat since 1972), the black Arizona Diamondbacks batting practice cap and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates hat, with gold crown and black brim.
1) My three favorite announcers to listen to on TV: Mike Tirico/Brent Musberger on play-by-play, Jeff Van Gundy as an analyst.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) In case anyone asks you, Winthrop 60, Radford 58 was the first final score of March Madness, in the first round of the Big South tournament.
12) Last year the CAA had four teams ranked in the top 90 in the country; this year, #140 George Mason is the CAA’s top-ranked team, and they finished T5 in the CAA regular season standings (17-13, 10-8).
11) Its only an exhibition game (repeat: its only an exhibition game) but the Dominican Republic had 28 hits and crushed the Phillies 15-2 Tuesday.
10) In 47 years of rooting for the Rams, Pat Haden was my least favorite player, a guy who divided his loyalty between his football career and going to law school at a time when the Rams were legit Super Bowl contenders every year (in the mid-to-late 70’s).
Now Haden is AD at his alma mater, USC, and word is out that he recently interviewed UTEP basketball coach Tim Floyd for the vacant Trojans’ hoop job, but there is one small problem- Floyd would be replacing Kevin O’Neill, who was hired to replace Floyd himself four years ago, after the NCAA came down on the Trojans for recruiting violations (Floyd was never directly implicated, which got him off the hook).
Maybe Haden should call Vince Ferragamo for advice on who to hire.
9) When Texas Longhorns have their pro day on campus for NFL prospects, an older alumnus will also be working out for NFL teams. Vince Young, one of the best Longhorns ever, is an NFL free agent and is looking to impress an NFL team.
He took classes in Austin this winter and is looking to impress someone. If JaMarcus Russell can get looks from NFL teams, Young should too.
8) Paul Konerko went 3-3 against Team USA Tuesday; now he's one of the candidates to replace Mark Teixeira in the team, after Teixeira sprained his wrist and is out of the WBC.
7) Think about the Bronx infield right now: ARod-Jeter-Teixeira, all hurt. Cano is playing in WBC. Tickets for Bronx spring training games run from $17-33. Who exactly are you paying to see? Francisco Cervelli?
6) Pitch counts in the WBC are as follows:
first round: 65 pitches. second round, 80 pitches, third round, 95 pitches.
If you hit the pitch limit during an at-bat, the pitcher is allowed to finish that at-bat.
5) On Jan 23, Southern Mississippi beat Marshall 103-46 in Hattiesburg; it was 53-17 at the half; Tuesday, the Golden Eagles lost 88-84 at Marshall, which basically kills their at-large hopes. Brutal loss.
4) Excellent ballgame in Las Vegas last night, as Boise State went into the Thomas & Mack and had a 10-point second half lead, but UNLV rallied and beat the Broncos, 68-64. UNLV's last three home wins are by a total of only eight points. MWC tourney is in Vegas next week.
3) Before you rag on Gonzaga's schedule, know that they're 5-0 against Big X teams this season. 5-0, against West Virginia, Baylor, K-State and both Oklahoma teams. Went unbeaten in their league. They're legit.
2) High school game with kid from New Rochelle hitting 60-footer at the buzzer to win the sectional final against perennial power Mount Vernon was great TV, it even made the NBC Nightly News, but I feel horrible for the kid from Mount Vernon who threw the last pass away, after stealing the original inbounds pass.
Kid holds onto the ball, his team wins, but now he’s an Internet sensation for the wrong reason. Mount Vernon has a proud basketball tradition, I just feel bad for the kid. New Rochelle doesn't make a 60-footer, no one notices.
1) Over last four years, Middle Tennessee is 56-14 in Sun Belt Conference games; they’re 33-3 the last two years, but they haven’t won the Sun Belt tournament during that time, which means that there will be just immense pressure on the Blue Raiders this weekend in Hot Springs, AR.
It’s the tough part of being a big fish in a small pond; you still have to win that conference tournament to make the Field of 68. Middle Tennessee will be a team to watch for the next week. If they get to the NCAAs, they can beat someone. Its a lot easier to be the underdog.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) Refs for Sunday’s NC State-Georgia Tech game: Brian O’Connell (working 5th day in row), John Cahill (6th game/7 days) and Doug Sirmons (4th game/5 days).
This is not to criticize them, because they’re all good refs and with 347 D-I teams, refs get spread very thin, but no way do NBA refs work this much, and this late in the year, it has to be tough for a guy in his 50’s to do that much running. (O'Connell worked again in Louisville Monday night).
At $1,500 or so for a TV game, it makes it easier, but still…….
12) Sirmons has worked 70 games this year (this data is on statsheet.com, by the way), so if he made an average of $1,000 a game, that’s $70,000 since Veterans' Day, or basically four months’ work. He probably averages more than $1,000 a game. Its not easy, lot of travel and constant limelight, but its very good money, especially for a second job.
11) Three non-athletes who should be in Baseball Hall of Fame: Bill James, who headed the revolution on how baseball views analytics, and two doctors, Frank Jobe and James Andrews, who have kept pitchers' arms in the game for a long time now. Those three people have added a lot to the actual game and how it is played.
10) 20 years ago when I used to go out to watch NFL games on the satellite, remember saying it was worth it, just to watch Barry Sanders run with the ball, and I’m not a Lions’ fan. I feel the same way when reading an article written by Bob Ryan in Boston; he is very sensible and he presents a strong opinion based on sound logic. Just a great writer.
9) This is how a lot of coaches feel about dealing with the media: John Calipari skipped this week’s SEC teleconference because he had to go to the dentist. At least at the dentist they give you novocaine, and hopefully don’t ask you about Arkansas.
8) Gonzaga is #1 in AP poll for the first time; some writer posted on Twitter that New Mexico, and not the Zags should be a #1 seed in the NCAAs. Given the chance, if New Mexico played Gonzaga on a neutral court and the game was pick ‘em, that writer would bet on the Lobos? If that’s true, I’d like the guy’s phone number, so I could make a few bucks.
7) Monday was 20th anniversary of the Jimmy V “Don’t Give Up” speech, one of the most memorable speeches ever televised. It does not like seem like 20 years, but ESPN and especially Dick Vitale have done great work since then raising money to fight cancer. Hopefully someday soon, a brilliant researcher will find a cure for cancer. We can only hope.
6) In a not-so-shocking development, the NRA is sponsoring a NASCAR race at the Texas Motor Speedway April 13. We had a NRA rally out in front of the building I work in last Thursday; 7,000 people in a misty, cold rain, a lot of them wearing camo, many holding signs promoting the second amendment. Looked like a lot of NASCAR fans to me.
5) In August, FOX is changing Speed Channel into Fox Sports 1, which it hopes will be a challenger to ESPN as a national sports network. They are expecting to sign the new Big East to anchor their basketball coverage.
4) Chicago Blackhawks are 19-0-3, an amazing start; they've trailed four games in third period, tying one game with 0:03 left. They're 7-3 in OT/SO, 12-0 in regulation time.
3) Florida is only SEC team in AP top 25; Missouri is only other SEC team getting votes. SEC tournament in Nashville is going to be excellent.
2) Good news, bad news: My tab at Dunkin’ Donuts was 55 cents lower than usual Monday morning; when I asked why, the woman looked at me and said, “The senior citizen discount, sir”.
Um, I’m not 55 yet, and won’t be for a while. Whatever…..lol If you work 225 days a year and save 55 cents every day, over the course of a year that’s $123.75. I’m saving money because I look older than I am. So be it.
1) At noon on Tuesday, Winthrop faces Radford in the first round of the Big South tournament, as March Madness officially gets underway. Should be a fun month. Charleston Southern/High Point are top top seeds there.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) UCLA coach Ben Howland put an end to the Shabazz Muhammad era in Westwood this weekend, saying the kid was going to the NBA next year. Muhammad has played well, UCLA is 23-8, for Howland to quickly send a star player on his way tells us one of two things.......
a) The kid is a pain in the butt, but considering UCLA had Reeves Nelson a couple years ago, this option is less likely than........
b) Had Muhammad returned, the NCAA would've come calling, and when the NCAA comes calling, often times the coach loses his job.
Either way, Howland has to recruit like a junior college coach; tremendous amount of turnover in his program.
12) Sunday night at 11pm, replay of a White Sox-Padre spring training game, with the great Dick Enberg on the mike. Thats quality entertainment.
11) Erik Compton is one of my heroes; guy has had two heart transplants, and he still plays on the PGA Tour. Compton finished T5 at Honda Classic this weekend in Florida, his first top 10 finish. Will somebody please make a movie about this guy?
10) Sportsbook.com posted 43.5 as the over/under for any major leaguer hitting home runs this season, the lowest such total since 1996. The bet is whether or not you think any hitter will hit 44 HRs this season. Anyone.
9) MAAC basketball tournament is next weekend in Springfield, MA, but there are no MAAC teams in Massachusetts, only one in Connecticut. What genius came up with this idea?
Geographic breakdown of the MAAC:
two teams in eastern NY (Marist/Siena)
-- two teams in Buffalo area (Niagara/Canisius)
-- two teams in New Jersey (Rider/St Peter's)
-- two teams in Westchester/Bronx (Iona/Manhattan)
-- Fairfield is in Connecticut, Loyola is in Maryland.
I am sure Springfield is a terrific place, but who is going to go to watch the MAAC tournament, when there are no local teams in it?
8) Further examination of Joe Flacco's contract show a $29M payment in 2016, which means the contract will get re-done after 2015, making it, in effect, a 3-year deal. Still a very lucrative deal.
7) There are bitter defeats, then there is Baylor's loss at home to Kansas State Saturday night. Game was tied with 0:01 left, Baylor had the ball out of bounds, 95 feet from the basket. Worst they can do is overtime, right?
Baylor throws a baseball pass length of court, but it goes out of bounds with no one touching it, so K-State gets it under their offensive basket- they set up a play, McGruder drains a 3 at the buzzer, and Baylor might be headed to the NIT as a result. Horrendous way to lose a game.
6) Since 1985, only two teams won the NCAA tournament without having had at least one winning streak of 6+ games during the season: Arizona in 1997, Michigan State in 2000. We'll monitor that later this month.
5) Virginia beats Duke, then loses at Boston College. Of course they did.
4) Providence won six of last seven games, after starting Big East play 2-7; credit to Ed Cooley, who seems to have things going in the right direction with his Friars. Have to win recruiting battles before you can win games, and Cooley is an excellent recruiter.
3) Was watching the European Tour on Golf Channel Sunday morning, and the 4th hole was a 685-yard par 5. 685 yards!!!! Hole wasn't too tough- the scoring average on it was something like 4.48.
2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers have 24 assistant coaches; three other teams have 23. NFL teams only have 53 active players each week. Seems like overkill, but in fairness, three of the 24 Buc assistants are strength coaches. Still, thats a lot of assistants. What do they do all winter?
1) Pretty good pair of games at Staples Center Sunday, with Thunder edging the Clippers and Lakers beating Atlanta by a point. Impossible to know, but wonder how many people were at both games?
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Ryan Kelly was stellar with 36 points as Duke held off Miami 79-76, but if Kelly is just coming back from a foot injury, how smart was it to play him 32 stressful minutes in what was basically a meaninglesss game?
I'll chart his minutes played the rest of the way and keep you posted.
12) As much as Dick Vitale gushes over Duke, my lasting impression of this interesting, high-level game was this:
Sometimes the better team doesn't win. Miami is better than Duke.
11) VCU 84, Butler 52-- Bulldogs' first conference loss by 30+ points since 1986, against Oral Roberts. Lot of water under the bridge since then.
10) Angels renewed Mike Trout's contract at $510,000 for this season, $20,000 over the major league minimum, which annoyed agent Craig Landis, as it should have. Don't the Angels want to keep Trout long-term, or does it not matter in the long run? Trout will clean up later on no matter what.
As for Landis, will be interesting to see if Trout fires him. Scott Boras goes to most of the Angel home games, sits right behind the plate.
9) Creighton coach Greg McDermott said he has no voice in whether his Bluejays bolt the Missouri Valley Conference for the Big East; its going to be a basketball-driven league and you don't ask the coach, whose star player is also his son? Just seems odd.
In an unrelated rant, does the Big East need a team in Nebraska?
8) Oklahoma 86, Iowa State 69-- Sooners went 34-34 from foul line, tying all-time record for most FTs without a miss, a mark also held by Cal-Irvine ('81) and Samford ('90).
7) Virginia Cavaliers are doing well at 20-8, 10-5 in ACC, but they're 0-3 vs CAA teams, including a loss to a dreadful Old Dominion squad that fired its coach already. Trap game for Cavaliers against Boston College Sunday.
6) They have pitch counts in the World Baseball Classic, just like Little League; if you throw 50+ pitches, think you have to sit the next three days, but you do get a free freeze pop at the concession stand.
5) Not only do the Miami Marlins have a rookie manager, they've got 73 players in camp; seeing as only 25 make a big league roster, they've got their major league team, AAA team and AA team in major league camp. Sometimes you wonder if they know what they're doing.
A local kid named Mahoney from over the river in Troy homered twice for the Marlins Saturday; he's a first baseman who is a .274 career hitter in his 619 minor league games-- he had four ABs with Baltimore LY.
4) Watching Arizona-UCLA Saturday night, and one thing was very clear; Wildcats' coach Sean Miller has very little faith in his guards. He called one timeout when his point guard had ball in transition going full-tilt towards the basket. Arizona is 3-4 in its last seven games after a 20-2 start.
3) Three years ago, Erick Green scored 2.6 ppg in 12.6 mpg as a freshman at Virginia Tech; this year, Green is leading the country in scoring at 24.9 ppg. The lesson: Work on your game, improve your skills, and it'll pay off.
I'm convinced kids play too many games in the summer and do not work as much as they should on improving their skills. I sound old, I know.....
2) Saturday was the 51st anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in an NBA game, which for some reason, was played in Hershey, PA. How much money would the Big Dipper be getting paid in today's game?
1) Gonzaga has a certain amount of pressure on them this month; over last 11 years, Zags are just 2-6 in NCAA second round games, with one of those wins against a #12 seed that had posted a big first round upset. If you like to invest in basketball, know that Gonzaga covered only twice in its last nine games as an NCAA tournament favorite.
Sometimes its easier to be the hunter rather than the hunted; Gonzaga will be the hunted later this month, thats for sure.
Saturday's List of 13: College conferences by the numbers.......
For purposes of this article, know that there are 32 Division I basketball conferences, with 31 automatic bids given out (Great West is mishmash of teams that are really independents, but they play each other twice to make scheduling easier).
13) We’ve talked a lot this basketball season about how many close games there seem to be; SEC has had 30 of its 105 games decided by 3 or less points or in OT, the Pac-12 24 of 93. That’s 27.3% of games in those two popular leagues.
Before you suggest that a league with its own TV network will consort with officials to have close games, we point out the Big Dozen is last in close games, with only 13 of 91 this season.
12) Home teams are 43-17 SU in Mountain West, tops in country; Wyoming is one of worst teams in that league, and they were 13-0 when conference play started.
11) Home teams are under .500 SU in both WAC, WCC, which points out top-heavy leagues where the bottom dwellers aren’t keeping up with the contenders. Now that St Mary’s is on probation, maybe the WCC will begin to even out a little more. WCC (16 of 68), Big X (17 of 75) and Big Dozen (22 of 91) all have had lot of games decided by 20+ points.
10) Only four of 93 Pac-12 games have been decided by 20+ points, while 24 were decided by 4 or less points or in OT. Wow.
9) You look at leagues with low turnover percentages (Patriot-Summit-MWC-Big Dozen, you’re looking at slow tempo leagues that mostly just pack defenses in and make offense hit jump shots to win.
Oddly, Summit is 24th in tempo, 31st in turnovers, but 1st in 2-point and 3-point shooting. Maybe more of those teams should attack on defense.
8) High turnover percentages indicates the ball being pressured: MEAC-Mid-American, Sun Belt, OVC have highest percentage of steals.
7) Which leagues embrace 3-pointers the most? America East takes the highest percentage, but makes 3rd-lowest percentage; not good. Atlantic Sun takes 2nd-highest percentage, makes 35.1%, so that’s good, while Big West takes 3rd-most and makes 2nd-highest percentage, which is they way its supposed to be.
Southland, Pac-12, ACC take lowest percentage of 3-point shots, though ACC teams make 35.4% of 3’s, 9th-best in country.
6) Other hot-shooting leagues are Ivy (3rd on 3’s, 9th on 2’s, 4th on foul line), Big West (2nd on 3’s, 4th on 2’s) and OVC (4th from arc, 2nd on 2’s, 5th from foul line).
5) SEC leads America in offensive efficiency (or defensive inefficiency), followed by MEAC, Colonial and ACC. Least efficient leagues on offense: Big Dozen, Summit (despite being best shooting league- they turn it over a lot), Patriot and Southland Leagues.
4) Which leagues play fastest tempo games? NEC, Southland, SWAC and Sun Belt, all leagues off the beaten path and mostly off TV; that’s too bad.
Slowest games are two academic leagues (Ivy/Patriot), then two of the big money leagues (Big Dozen/Big East). Coaches in the fatcat leagues make so much money, almost no one has the onions (or enough good players) to go all Paul Westhead and try to push tempo (Seton Hall is trying, but they’re losing and unless they have a big recruiting year, Kevin Willard will be on the hotseat next year). Its safer to try and grind games out.
3) Best free-throw shooting leagues? Horizon-Missouri Valley-Big Sky-Ivy. Worst shooting leagues? MEAC-SWAC (whenever you discuss the two worst leagues that get automatic bids, always start with those two), along with MAAC and America East.
2) Here’s a look at how new Big East will look: Butler-Creighton-DePaul-Georgetown-Marquette-Providence-St John’s-Seton Hall-Villanova-Xavier; of those ten, only Butler isn’t religiously-affiliated.
1) Here’s a look at the other new league, which could be called the Metro Conference- Leftover Conference might be better, since its membership is still in flux a little:
Cincinnati-UCF-UConn-Houston-Memphis-Rice-South Florida-SMU-Temple-Tulane, with possibly East Carolina also joining.
This really could be a pretty good hoop league.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for in March........
March is one of the best months of the year; tons of college basketball, spring training, the weather around here usually gets better, lot of good stuff going on. We’re approaching this March with as sense of optimism….here are some things I’m looking for this month.
13) Just the sound of ball meeting bat means winter is almost over; so what if #98 is pitching to #87, in a matchup of two prospects destined to spend the summer in the California Penal League? Its baseball, and its always good when spring training starts up.
12) College basketball is our favorite sport, which makes March one of our favorite months; Championship Week is almost as much fun as the NCAA tournament itself, since for some teams, just getting in is the main thing. Love to see teams celebrate when they win their conference tournaments.
11) Teams that will be very, very nervous until they win their conference tournament: Northeastern-Louisiana Tech-Belmont-Long Beach.
These teams won their regular season in their leagues, but won’t be going to the NCAAs unless they win the league tournament, too. Tech is unbeaten in the WAC; would be a shame if they got upset out west.
10) VCU’s old league, the CAA, will only have seven teams in its conference tournament, as four of its 11 schools are ineligible for the tourney this year. Northeastern gets the #1 seed and a bye, so they’ll have to win two pressure-packed games to make the NCAAs.
9) With the NCAA field expanded to 68 teams, no one who is excluded has that much of a gripe, but whomever #69/#70 are will whimper for a while, then limp off to the NIT. Question is, can any of the First Four teams make a run through the brackets, the way VCU did two years ago? VCU’s run was a God-send for the NCAA, silencing any complaints about those first four games in Dayton. Can it happen again?
8) No #1 seed has ever lost to a #16 seed; is this the year? Who will those four #1 seeds be? This season, #1 teams have been getting bounced left and right, so it figures that this could be a year where a #16 seed pulls a shocker, but the talent different between those teams is so big, a lot of things will have to fall into place for the big upset to happen.
7) This time of year, I don’t want to see the name of any the guys on my fantasy baseball team in the news; its almost always bad news. No injuries this year, please? I'm looking at you, Carl Crawford.
6) They’re selling hats from World Baseball Classic teams for $35 a pop; not good. Do people watch the WBC? I’m not sure if I’ll watch it or not, I guess I will if its on when basketball isn’t. Just hope Jose Reyes doesn’t pop a hammy running out a grounder.
5) Speaking of which, Dodgers can’t be real happy that Hanley Ramirez is playing 3B at the WBC so Reyes can play short; LA needs Ramirez to gets used to playing a solid shortstop. Tom Gordon killed them with sloppy defense at short LY.
4) Pac-12 tourney is in Las Vegas for first time, at MGM Arena; with Bill Walton calling games on ESPN, this could replace Big East as the premiere conference tournament on TV.
Walton is capable of saying anything at any time; he really is fun to listen to, especially if it’s a good game- conference tournaments produce good games.
3) First major league baseball game that counts is March 31, Astros-Rangers, Houston’s first game as an AL team.
Opening Day is the next day. Interleague play will be every day now, with 15 teams in each league for the first time.
2) For every winner there is a loser, and in big-time college sports, losers get fired. The coaching carousel will start spinning faster in March; right now USC is the #1 job that could be open, but Old Dominion has a strong history too and that job is already open. By the time the Final Four rolls around, a lot more jobs will be open.
1) Common wisdom I’ve heard on TV is that around 20 teams have a legit chance to make the Final Four; that’s a lot. People’s brackets are going to have some diversity to them this year. Enjoy your March and good luck with your brackets!!!
Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) Duke plays good teams outside of the ACC but seldom in that team’s gym; they did not play one true road game before ACC play started this season. Blue Devils are 4-3 on the ACC road, 4-0 vs teams ranked outside top 100, 0-3 vs teams ranked in top 60, which makes their visit to #17 Virginia tonight a very interesting game.
12) Enjoyed the article on SI.com this week about how a kid at San Diego State started the fad of making very large cutout heads of people to be used in student sections at basketball games, to distract opposing shooters. First one they did was one of Michael Jackson.
11) Its not supposed to be announced until March 12, but apparently the 49ers have dealt QB Alex Smith to the Chiefs, not sure for which draft picks. Curious to see what pick they'll get for Smith, since they obviously had to get rid of him, so they didn't have much leverage.
10) Covers.com reported that over last three years, Detroit Tigers had a 58-34 record in spring training games; Angels are 76-48 over last four years. I wouldn’t advise it, but there is wagering on spring training games in Las Vegas. There's also betting on NBA summer league games. Yikes.
9) When it snowed in Arizona last week, A’s let the Diamondbacks share their spring training facility for a day; in exchange, Arizona agreed to let the A’s use a DH in one of their spring training meetings next month. Normally, DHs aren’t used in interleague games in NL parks.
8) Took Bracket Buster format to get Idaho to play Idaho State in basketball this season; why would these teams not play every year? You’d think they’d play, just to save money on travel.
7) I almost never watch TV shows during primetime, I watch ballgames, but NBC finished 5th in January sweeps ratings period, behind a Spanish-speaking network named Univision; I had never heard of Univision before.
6) Did I see it right on TV, that a high school coach in Florida has his 4th-grader son on the varsity basketball team, and the kid isn’t bad? He’d be like 10 years old, right? How is that allowed?
5) No sport loses as much in translation from in person to TV as hockey; if you like sports, go see a pro hockey game in person. I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it.
4) I’m not sure if ESPN had the crowd mikes turned way up for the Indiana-Minnesota game Tuesday, but it was loud on TV for that game; when they switched to Florida-Tennessee, a game with similar circumstances attended by 19,000+ in Knoxville, it sounded like a damn library, and Tennessee came in playing better than Minnesota had been playing. Was amazing how quiet that crowd seemed to be.
3) Surprised that Steve Novak has Knicks’ 3rd-best plus-minus rating, then I realized something; his and Iman Shumpert’s numbers are skewed, because when Mike Woodson platoons offense/defense, Novak plays offense, Shumpert defense, so Knicks can only score when Novak is on the court, can pretty much only be scored upon with Shumpert out there.
2) When I was doing basketball stats, if our team was subbing offense/ defense, I wouldn’t count sequences like that in the plus/minus for players involved; it was unfair to the two players subbing in and out, but I think the NBA does count them, which skews the figures.
1) What would happen if President Obama let it be known that he wanted to be Commissioner of the NBA after he left the Oval Office? Would Adam Silver have to give the job up?
Wednesday's List of 13: Going thru some NBA numbers...........
We spend a lot of time with college basketball numbers; here are some numbers that explain how NBA teams stack up:
13) FG% defense is a telling stat at any level of basketball; top three NBA teams are Pacers (41.3%), Thunder (43%), Bulls (43.3%). That’s how Chicago has stayed relevant without Derrick Rose—playing great defense.
Worst teams in that important category? Cavaliers (47.7%), Kings (47%), Suns (46.9%).
12) Who defends against 3-pointers the best? Pacers (31.4%), Spurs (32.5%), Bulls (33.6%), again all good teams. Teams that defend 3-balls the worst? Suns (39.1%), Hawks (38.3%), Cavaliers (38.1%).
11) Point differential; Thunder have an average 9.1-point differential, followed by the Spurs (8.5), Miami (7.1).
Worst teams in this category? Charlotte (-9.0), Sacramento (-7.2), Orlando (-6.0), Phoenix (-5.6).
10) Irrelevant stat, but I was curious: Clippers (76), Thunder (70) have by far the most technical fouls, with the Knickerbockers (55), Bulls (53) lagging well behind in 3rd/4th place.
9) Knicks (+3.1) lead NBA in turnover differential, followed by Miami (2.1), Milwaukee (1.8), Clippers (1.7).
Worst teams in this category? Orlando (-2.5), Lakers (-2.0), Warriors (-1.8).
8) What teams force most turnovers? Clippers (16.7), Bucks (16.2), Memphis (16.0), Celtics/Cavs (15.7).
7) Pacers allow 89.4 ppg, least in NBA, followed by Memphis (89.6), Bulls (91.3), Clippers (94.1).
6) Who scores most points? Thunder (106.6 ppg), followed by Houston (106.3), Denver (105.4) and the Spurs (104.3).
5) Miami makes 49.5% of its shots, best in league; Spurs (48.6%) are next, followed by Thunder (48.3%) and Denver (47.4%). Again, all of this is pretty basic. Make shots yourself, prevent the other guys from doing it, and you’ll win. All you need are really good players and a sound approach.
4) Which teams are best from the foul line? Thunder makes 83.3% from the stripe, Warriors make 79.8%, Dallas 79.7%, Spurs 79.0%.
Worst teams? Lakers (thanks, Dwight) 69.0%, Denver, 69.2%, Detroit 69.6%, Atlanta 70.4%.
3) What teams take the most 3-pointers each game? Knicks average 29.0 tries per game, followed by Houston (28.7), Lakers (24.0), Atlanta (23.8).
Which teams try the fewest? Memphis (13.6/game), Chicago (13.9), Charlotte (16.6) and Utah (16.7).
2) Which teams make the highest percentage of their 3’s? Thunder (39.2%) lead league, followed by Golden State (39.0%), Miami (39%) and the Hawks (38.4%). Minnesota trails NBA, making only 30% behind the arc.
1) Oklahoma City is +484 points with Kevin Durant on floor this season, which leads league; they’re +436 with Russell Westbrook (3rd).
Tuesday's List of 13: Random stuff on a winter day.........
13) Reason #4,153 why I’m glad I quit playing golf; Peter Jacobsen/Roger Maltbie had a 5-minute conversation on TV Sunday about how they putted differently according to how the wind was blowing.
All the times I played golf, and I was never good, but never once did I think about the wind while putting.
12) Delaware Blue Hens won four of last five games, all of which were decided by 1 or 2 points. I’m convinced there are a lot more close games than normal this season. Friend of mine thinks refs give calls to the teams that are behind, keeping games closer than maybe they should be. Interesting theory.
11) Pitt Panthers’ first ACC football game is Labor Day night, when they host Florida State. Going to take a while to get used to Pitt being in the ACC, along with Syracuse/Louisville.
10) Was surprised that out of 27 people in our golf pool, no one picked Lee Westwood or Sergio Garcia, and only one person had Matt Kuchar, who won the tournament. We weren't a very crafty group this week.
9) When Bulls’ coach Tom Thibodeau says that Derrick Rose “wasn’t left out of any drills” last week, I’m assuming he’s telling us that Rose will be playing in games soon.
8) With a couple of NBA games and the Oscars on TV Sunday night, ESPNU went obscure, showing LIU-Wagner at 8:00. The NEC has entertaining, wild, mindless games. I wish they were in the wagering rotation.
7) Nothing is more useless than a QB’s time in the 40-yard dash. About 15 years ago, fella named Brady ran 5.2 in the 40, which is dreadfully slow; he turned out OK. How often does a QB run 40 yards straight ahead?
6) Mets used their Opening Day lineup for the TV game Saturday (except for injured 2B Daniel Murphy); they need people to buy tickets to watch their potentially-sorry team play. Not a lot of teams wheel out the Opening Day lineup for their first spring training game.
5) Sure sign we’re not close to starting baseball season yet; one major league team was scheduled to use seven pitchers Monday, only one of whom had a number lower than 81.
4) Bronx TV announcer Michael Kay is a smug, condescending human; he actually said this Sunday, as if this has never been true before (and maybe it hasn’t been): “All five teams in AL East have a chance to make the playoffs this season!!!” Imagine an NFL announcer ever saying that?
3) You can’t buy a 20-ounce soda in New York City anymore? Where do you draw the line between looking out for peoples’ well-being and the state being way too controlling in people’s lives? OK, I’ll just buy two 16-ounce sodas instead. How does that help anything?
2) Golfers that lost in first round of the World Match Play championship got $46,000; now think about this, Phil Mickelson opted not to play, because his son was on vacation from school last week.
He couldn’t bring the kid with him to Arizona? Give the kid a $46,000 gift? Seems like there may be an underlying reason other than his son as to why Lefty bowed out last week. Politics is a funny thing.
1) Why isn’t there an NBA Hall of Fame? Wouldn’t that make sense? There technically isn’t an NFL Hall of Fame either, but the one in Canton really is just for the NFL. Basketball’s Hall is so random; how is Jerry Buss in the Hall of Fame and not Jerry Tarkanian or Eddie Sutton?
With all due respect, Buss was a freakin’ chemist; all he did was write (and cash) very large checks. He had nothing to do with contributing to basketball, other than bankrolling a very successful franchise.
Monday's List of 13: Things I'd change, if I could........
13) Designated hitter should be used for All-Star games, all exhibition games, but never in the regular season. Its a gimmick; if a guy can't play any position in the field, then he should just pinch-hit or retire.
12) Lower the drinking age to 18; you're old enough to go to war, you're old enough to have a freakin' beer.
11) No conceding putts in these match play golf tournaments; you're a pro, make a 2-foot putt. Someone has to explain to me why this happens.
10) We talked about this earlier this month: college basketball teams should get one timeout, per team, per half. Make the game flow better. Multiple timeouts at the end of games allow coaches to strangle the game.
9) NBA teams should be able to play any defense they want. Nothing in the sports world bothers me as much as defensive three seconds. NBA is all about protecting the star players, and that cheapens the product.
8) I'd legalize gambling on sports. Its going to happen; too much money involved for it not to happen.
7) I'd find a way to lower the price of gas in this country; people that own the oil/gas companies are corrupt, thieving bastards, and so are the politicians that allow it to happen.
6) Some enterprising human who wants to make a lot of money would bring In 'n Out Burger to upstate New York. Best milkshake I've ever had, and I take milkshakes very seriously.
5) College football's playoff system would be eight teams, three weeks, and it would generate a fortune. Thats why all this conference realignment is happening; everyone wants a piece of the pie.
4) When ESPN first started 30+ years ago, the first conference that let them air games was the Sun Belt Conference. Now? No Sun Belt games. How about giving them a weekly 9:00 timeslot some weeknight? Gratitude is a good thing, ya know?
3) I'd lower the price of concessions at movie theaters; these people are right behind the gas companies as thieves. How much can popcorn cost?
2) This is a little selfish, but A's would be allowed to move to San Jose; the baseball Giants got their new stadium, why can't the A's get one?
1) Kids should be able to go straight from high school to NBA, if they're good enough. Baseball players can do it; why not basketball? Think it would help college basketball; one-and-done kids are a joke- they're not students.
If you had to guess, what are the odds Shabazz Muhammad knows where the library is at UCLA? He's off to the NBA as soon as this season ends.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday..........
13) Wild day in SEC Saturday, with four of seven games going to OT, with Alabama-LSU going three OTs, Tennesseee-Texas A&M four OTs. Big win for Kentucky over Mizzou, as Wildcats are a bubble team without Noel.
12) Tennessee is now hottest team in SEC, winning its fifth game in row, but Florida Gators come to Knoxville Tuesday, which should be interesting. .
11) ESPN signed a new TV deal with whats left of the Big East, but for less than what each team makes now. Somehow, I doubt Big East will maintain its 8pm Saturday night slot during Championship Week, not with potential of a Tulane-Central Florida final. Big East will basically be Conference USA next year, with Cincinnati returning to its Metro/Great Midwest roots.
10) Iona's month from hell continued with a 65-64 loss at Indiana State; Gaels lost six of their last seven games, with three OT losses and three others by a total of six points. For a team that ranks #83 in experience, this isn't what is supposed to happen at the end of games.
9) New Mexico had a terrific 91-82 win at Colorado State, with Kendall Williams going 10-13 behind arc, scoring a ridiculous 46 points. Whole Syracuse team scored 46 points in its home loss to Georgetown.
8) They retired Carmelo Anthony's jersey in the Carrier Dome Saturday, despite fact that Anthony went to school at Syracuse for about 10 minutes. He did win them a national championship, then he paid for their new practice facility, so I guess thats what it takes to get your jersey retired.
7) Will be interesting to see if golfer Steve Stricker sticks with his plan to play in only 11 tournaments this year, skipping British Open but playing in the Quad Cities (John Deere) Classic. Must be nice to have money.
6) Interesting prop bet in Las Vegas; which team will win more games in 2013, Alabama (-$140) or the 49ers (+$120)?
5) There were 79 SEC players working out at NFL Combine this week, compared to 43 from the ACC, 38 from the Pac-12.
4) Eight Fridays so far in 2013; stock market went up all eight days.
3) On Mets' TV broadcast of its spring training game Saturday, Ron Darling/ Keith Hernandez inferred that it is easier to win a Gold Glove Award (sponsored by Rawlings) if you use a Rawlings glove. Go figure.
2) The jersey Mike Eruzione wore in the 1980 Miracle on Ice game sold for $657,250 on Saturday night. The stick Eruzione used was sold for $262,900 in an auction run by Heritage Auctions in New York City.
Other items Eruzione sold through the auction company included his jersey worn in the gold medal win against Finland ($286,800), the warmup suit he wore during the gold medal ceremony ($26,290), Eruzione-used Team USA gloves ($53,775) and used pants ($26,680).
1) Someone on Twitter posted a great video yesterday from 35 years ago, when Brian Billick was a contestant on Match Game PM, which was a popular game show at the time, with panelists like Charles Nelson Reilly, Fannie Flagg and Brett Somers. Good stuff. Not sure Billick would think so.
Saturday's List of 13: Looking at college basketball numbers.....
Looking at which teams excel in different statistical categories.......
13) Tempo: Northwestern (LA) State of Southland plays fastest games in country; other teams who play a fast pace: North Carolina (5th), Cal-State Fullerton (7th), UMass (9th), BYU (11th) and Iona (21st).
Some pretty good teams are amongst those that play slowest pace: Western Illinois (#347), Denver (346), North Dakota State (343), Virginia (339) and Pitt (334). All those teams are near the top of their league's standings.
12) FG% defense: This is best measured by eFG%, which counts a made 3 as 1.5 baskets made: SF Austin (40.5%) leads country and they lead their league in wins: other strong teams in this important category: Kansas (3rd), Florida (5th), Georgetown (7th), Syracuse (8th), Cincinnati (9th).
11) FG% offense: also measured by eFG%: Creighton (59.3%) leads the nation, followed by Florida (2nd), Indiana (3rd), Belmont (4th), Denver (6th), Air Force (7th), Michigan (8th), Gonzaga (9th). All really good teams, and yes, Air Force has a good team this season.
10) Free-throw shooting: Davidson (81.5%) leads country, followed by Fullerton (2nd), Northern Iowa (4th), Iona (7th), Montana (10th), You have a lead late in games, it obviously helps to make foul shots.
Among the worst foul shooting teams: Marshall (57.2%) is worst team in country on foul line. Also struggling are TCU (344), St Peter's (341), Vandy (337), SF Austin (335), Wisconsin (331), Arizona State (329). Vanderbilt hit on 69.9% from line last year; 60.8% so far this year.
9) 3-point shooting: Indiana (42.8%) leads country, followed by Creighton (2nd), Duke (3rd), Harvard (4th), Virginia (6th), NC State (7th), Austin Peay is #12 in country behind arc, but is still an awful team (7-21)-- not good.
8) Blocked shots: Syracuse blocks 19.7% of opponents' shots, followed by St John's (2nd), Kansas (3rd), Memphis (4th), Cincinnati (6th), Kentucky (7th, but they'll fall without Noel in lineup), Arizona State (9th). Having a defensive presence inside makes opponents beat you from outside, and not everyone has great shooters.
7) Schedule: Top four teams in strength of schedule all play in Big Dozen: Minnesota-Michigan State-Wisconsin-Illinois. Other teams who played hard schedules: Duke (6, but very few road games, none out of ACC), USC (7), Miami (9), Marquette (11), Colorado (12), Louisville (15).
Long Beach State played the hardest pre-conference schedule, UCSB (2nd), Oakland (3), Pacific (8), Davidson (14), Montana (16). Some of the better teams in lower-ranked leagues load up in pre-conference to help their seed in case they make the NCAA tournament. Others do it for guarantee checks from the big-money teams.
6) Easiest schedules: Houston/Texas Tech played two softest pre-conference schedules; how does Maryland justify playing the 3rd-easiest? Also on the easy non-conference schedule list are Arizona State (341), Iowa (339), Pitt (334), my alma mater Albany (333), Oregon (330), Clemson (329).
Some teams use soft pre-conference schedules to build confidence by learning how to win: Ole Miss (326), Oregon (330), Arizona State (341), LSU (325).
Some coaches create an easy schedule to save their jobs.......lolol
5) Size matters, not as much as quickness, but size is measureable: New Mexico State/Maryland/Kentucky are three tallest teams in country; USC, UCLA, Arizona State and Miami are also in the top ten. Gonzaga is 13th.
Southern Illinois, Fullerton are two shortest teams in country; Southern Miss is very good, yet they're 11th-shortest team in country. Denver is #328, but they run Princeton offense, so size matters little less than most teams.
4) Who uses their bench the most? Not lot of strong teams on top of this list; Northern Illinois-Sam Houston State-Yale play their bench most minutes in country. Middle Tennessee is probbably best team in top 20 on that list.
Teams that sub the least: Larry Brown's SMU team subs the least; subs on Arizona State (345), Oakland (344), Cal (338), Kansas (329), Michigan (326) play least minutes in country.
3) Who forces the most turnovers? VCU/Louisville force most turnovers in country with their pressure; Rams (force turnovers on 29% of possessions, Cardinals 27.4%. Denver forces 3rd-most with a less-aggressive approach; their games are 2nd-slowest pace in country.
Ohio/Southern Miss also force a lot of turnovers- they're also really good .
2) Teams that excel on offensive boards have superior athleticism and size: leading the country in this area are Minnesota, Colorado State, Pitt, Syracuse, Southern Miss, Indiana and Cincinnati.
You haven't stopped these teams on offense until you get the rebound on their missed shots and that ain't easy.
1) Experienced teams have an edge: Valparaiso-Middle Tennessee- Colorado State are three most experienced teams in country; Ohio, Miami and Western Illinois are also in top 10. All those teams are having solid seasons.
Disappointing Temple is 11th in experience; team with as much experience as the Owls should be doing better than they are.
Texas is least-experienced team and it shows; St John's (342), BC (341), Michigan (340) and Kentucky (337) are also very young.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here.....
13) Back in December I touted the Minnesota Gophers as a Final Four sleeper, but Tubby’s team stopped making shots; they’ve lost seven of last ten games, made just 5 of 29 behind the arc in their last two games. Hard to beat good teams on the road if you do not make shots.
12) As of 1pm Thursday, the Colorado Rockies’ spring training field in Arizona was still covered by snow.
Rockies’ new manager is former big league SS Walt Weiss, who I’m pretty sure was a high school coach in the Denver area LY.
11) The whole Tim Tebow/preaching/church thing was boring to me, until I realized; there’s a church that seats 11,000 people? Imagine what the collection totals must be in that place?
10) Iowa-Nebraska basketball game was moved from Thursday night to Saturday afternoon because of a bad storm in the midwest.
9) Wichita had 14 inches of snow, apparently the 2nd-biggest snowfall in the city's history. That surprised me.
8) 5.7M people watched the NASCAR race on FOX last Saturday night, and that was an exhibition race. For some reason I like watching racing, even though I know almost nothing about it.
The FOX announcers are good, especially Darrell Waltrip, and sometimes its just more fun if you don’t care who wins.
7) ESPN has too much live airtime; if there is no news to report, they have their people make stuff up and speculate on “what would happen, if….”. Not a big fan of that; report what happened, and talk about consequences of what happened. Don’t be making stuff up that might happen.
6) NFL wants to push back its offseason schedule, shifting the draft into May, the combine to March, free agency to April. They need the Players' Union to agree before it can happen.
5) MLB Network is aring a reality show called “Next Knuckler” about guys in other sports trying to become a knuckleball pitcher in the big leagues; winner gets a tryout with the Diamondbacks.
One of the contestants was former LSU/Giants’ practice squad QB Ryan Perrilloux, who did not make it through to the finals of the series.
4) New Orleans Saints wind up forfeiting the 45th pick in this year’s draft because of Bountygate, the 13th pick in the 2nd round.
Considering that Joe Montana was a 3rd-round pick and Tom Brady a 6th-round pick, that’s not cheap.
3) Rick Pitino owns a colt named Goldencents that is listed as a Kentucky Derby contender. Would be interesting if he ran for the roses in May.
2) Saint Louis-Butler is an excellent game on TV Friday night- unusual to have such a good college game up against the Friday night NBA games.
1) Wednesday was the first time golfer Louis Oosthuizen had ever seen snow in his life. As in, ever. Lucky him.
Thursday’s List of 13: Things I’m watching for this baseball season
13) With Houston moving to the AL West, there are 15 teams in both leagues now, which means interleague play will be a daily fact of life. Hows that going to work out?
12) Josh Hamilton switched teams within the same division, which doesn’t happen a lot for star players, then he ripped the Dallas-Fort Worth area, not really sure why. Angel-Ranger games figure to be interesting this year.
11) Halos have Trout-Hamilton-Pujols in the middle of the lineup, and $24M Vernon Wells riding the pine; they should jog in the AL West right? They’re still lacking at 3B and in bullpen, so we’ll see about that.
10) Astros’ entire team makes less money than Alex Rodriguez this season, and ARod may not even play after hip surgery. Houston was terrible in the NL LY, now their roster is further stripped down and they’re in a better league. I think their management knows what they’re doing, but in baseball, a total overhaul like this takes some time- they figure to draft very high for the next couple years, at least.
9) Bronx Bombers owe ARod $114M over next five years; this is great on many levels, mainly that ARod appears to be washed up, or at least severely over-the-hill. If Robinson Cano jumps ship (Dodgers??) after this year, the new Bronx ballpark could become a very expensive mausoleum for a fading franchise.
8) Carl Crawford’s career numbers in no way suggest a $20M annual salary, but that’s what he makes; his agent’s 3% take ($600,000 a year) is more than what the President of the US makes. Very curious to see how CC does in Chavez Ravine, where he’ll undoubtedly be more comfortable than in Boston. Veteran players switching leagues don't always thrive.
7) Royals GM Dayton Moore knows he is gone if Kansas City sucks again this year, so he dumped prospects Myers/Odorizzi to Tampa Bay for James Shields, in hopes of winning enough games to save his job; this is the worst possible scenario for a franchise.
Shields has a lot of miles on him and while he’s effective, he’s not a big-time ace. Tampa Bay fleeced the Royals if Myers is what most scouts think he is, a big-time bat. Moore will get fired and the Royals will start yet another in a long line of rebuilding projects.
6) Pirates’ last winning season was 1992; they’ve had strong first halves the last two years, but then faded badly late in both seasons.
Bucs extended manager Clint Hurdle thru 2014; is this the year Pittsburgh has a winning record?
5) If the season started today, Mets’ starting OF would be Lucas Duda-Colin Cowgill-Marlon Byrd. Did I mention the Mets are a big market team, with a brand new stadium? How is this your starting outfield?
4) With enhanced instant replay tabled until 2014, will the umpires screw up as many obvious calls as they did last year? How hard would it be to put enhanced replay into place this season? Apparently MLB is not sure if they want to have a challenge system like the NFL or review anything close.
I’m in favor of the challenge system, only review things deemed important by one of the managers.
3) Which major league star gets hurt playing in the goofy World Baseball Classic? Its only once every four years, but still, how can any team allow its pitchers to compete in this?
2) Toronto Blue Jays are favored to win the AL East this year, after the Orioles made the playoffs LY; think about that one for a second. Lot of money being spent in this division, with not much return on the buck.
1) Then there are the Dodgers, who spent $100M to refurbish Dodger Stadium this winter, and will have the largest payroll to ever start a season. No pressure on Don Mattingly, who has yet to show much as a skipper. Pressure is squarely on him, but he has a lot of chips to play with.
He shouldn’t worry that Tony LaRussa is sitting out there without a job. Nope, not at all.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud..........
13) Kansas at Iowa State next Monday, ESPN’s first visit to Ames, IA for Big Monday in seven years. Hilton Coliseum seems like an awesome arena; this will be a good event.
Oddly, it will be Brent Musberger’s first-ever visit to Ames.
12) Big Ten Network ran interesting piece on Michigan State freshman Gary Harris, whose mother is one of Purdue’s all-time great basketball players, so much so that her jersey hangs from the rafters at Mackey Arena. Now that’s a bitter recruiting loss, when you can’t get a kid, when both of his parents went to your school.
11) Jerry Buss paid $67M for the Lakers-Kings-Forum in 1979. Lakers were valued at $16M back then; this season, three Lakers are earning $19M apiece!!! Lakers are now valued a $1B, that’s billion, with a B.
10) When you read that Derrick Rose went thru 5-on-5 workouts with the Bulls, it means he’s close to coming back, as long as his knee doesn’t have any setbacks. That’s good news for everyone except the Bulls’ opponents.
9) If you ran an NBA team, would you want Dwight Howard? Is he coachable? He makes $19M a year, and he can’t make half his foul shots. Is he a great teammate? Does he make his teammates better? For $19M a year, I want a damn superstar, but that’s just me.
8) Andrew Bynum hasn't played for the 76ers this year; he is hurt, but he hopes to play before the season ends. Why? He is a free agent after this season; hard to get paid if you haven't played.
7) My dad will be 87 Friday; he prefers the NBA to college ball, but he was glued to the Indiana-Michigan State game. It was that good a game.
6) Mets did the right thing and vetoed Johan Santana pitching in WBC; Santana will be 34 March 13; last thing he needs are high-stress innings in March. Make no mistake about, pitching for your country is an emotional thing and will be like mid-season games, or moreso.
5) This is the first time there were no arbitration hearings, which are no-lose propositions for the player.
4) On my 4.6 mile drive to work, I go through 30 stoplights; on way home, only 29. Thats a lot of stoplights in four miles.
3) Someone stole $50M in diamonds from an armed car in Belgium; now thats a bad day. How do you explain that to your boss?
2) Once upon a time, in the late 70’s, University of Detroit had a really good basketball team; their coach tried to recruit Earvin Johnson to play for the Titans, but Johnson went to Michigan State, evolved into Magic Johnson and the rest is history.
Whatever happened to that Detroit coach, the guy with the thick glasses and shrill voice? He went to the NBA but not for long, then drifted into a career in TV broadcasting. You may have heard of him.
Guy named Vitale, Dick Vitale.
How would the TV sports world be different now had Earvin Johnson gone to play for the Detroit Titans?
1) This has been a long, frustrating season handicapping games on this site, but stuff like that happens. Not an easy gig. We’re studying, grinding, trying to hit a hot streak to make the season a success.
Think its easy? With 6:06 left in the first half of a game a couple weeks ago, TCU led Kansas 12-3, and wound up beating the Jayhawks, 62-55. That’s the same TCU team that has one conference win all season- they were a 19-point home dog in that game, and Kansas scored three freakin’ points in the first 13:54.
We didn't have the Jayhawks in that game, but still, a 19-point favorite scoring three points in 13:54? Go figure.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but...........
13) I watch more college basketball than anyone you know, and I'll say this: it would help the game to reduce the number of timeouts coaches can use, say to maybe one timeout per team, per half. TV timeouts are enough for a coach to instruct his players. Seriously, let the players play!!!!!
12) Golfer Charlie Beljan played in same group as Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els Saturday; when round was over, Beljan had the two players sign his sun visor as a souvenir, unusual for a pro to do.
Sunday, when Beljan got to 18th tee to start his playoff with John Merrick, Jerry West was there as one of the tournament organizers. Surprised Beljan didn't get West's autograph to add to his collection.
11) The Dick's Sporting Goods commercial with Arnold Palmer narrating and telling golfers to "....swing their swing" is an excellent commercial.
10) The field of 64 for the Match Play tournament was set after last week, but the actual 1-64 seeding wasn't finalized until after Riviera; as an example, Fredrik Jacobsen jumped from 63rd seed to #47 with his excellent tourney this week, so he'll face Ernie Els in first round, not Eldrick Woods.
9) The new basketball league that will be formed by the non-football teams from the Big East could possibly include Siena or Richmond, if they wind up with a 12-team league. There would be two six-team, geographically based divisions. All schools would be religiously-affiliated, except for Richmond and Butler, if the Spiders are the 12th team.
8) John Farrell bolted Toronto to manage the Red Sox; Blue Jays went out and got lot of players, so they're favored to win AL East, with an 86.5 total for wins, while Boston's total is 79.5, 4th-highest in AL East. Was this move a good career move for Farrell, long-term?
Farrell is the Red Sox' third manager in three years; not an easy place.
7) Pitt led Notre Dame 19-3, then Mike Brey got a technical and the game swung completely in Brey's favor. Dreadful, ugly 51-42 loss for Pitt, which got beaten up physically by the Notre Dame big guys.
6) USC just fired its baseball coach; their football program is in disarray and they already fired basketball coach Kevin O'Neill this season; would be good if they removed the interim tag from Bob Cantu and made him basketball coach full-time. Trojans are much improved since the coaching change- their kids are just so much more relaxed now.
5) Amazing amount of attention was given to Michael Jordan's turning 50 last week; to me, when Jordan hit .202 in his one year of minor league baseball, it was an underrated feat. There are professional baseball players who don't hit .200 in AA. Jordan hadn't played baseball since high school.
4) We'll hear a lot about Daytona this week and Danica Patrick having pole position Sunday, but over the last decade, the average finishing position for the pole-sitter at Daytona is 19th, so its no guarantee of anything.
3) Baseball will not expand instant replay for this season, but they will for 2014, which is good news; not sure whay they can't do it this year, but better late than never. Too many missed calls last year on fairly easy plays.
2) You see those old clips from the 80's, of Jerry Buss getting trophies from David Stern after the Lakers won NBA titles, and then you realize the CBS announcer in those shots is Brent Musberger, and you realize what a great career he has had. He was a minor league umpire when he was 19, in the old Pioneer League. When I'm 73, I hope I have his energy.
1) Wednesday is one of our more underrated sports days of the year; all day long, Match Play golf is on TV, 32 first round matches, then ton of hoop on at night. Pretty good day for a Wednesday in February.
Monday's Den: Over/under win totals for 2013 baseball.......
|Detroit Tigers, 90
||Los Angeles Dodgers, 90
|Los Angeles Angels, 89.5
||Washington Nationals, 90
|Texas Rangers, 87
||Cincinnati Reds, 88.5
|Toronto Blue Jays, 86.5
||Atlanta Braves, 86
||San Francisco Giants, 86
|Tampa Bay Rays, 86
||St Louis Cardinals, 85.5
|Oakland A's, 83
||Arizona Diamondbacks, 81.5
|Chicago White Sox, 80.5
||Philadelphia Phillies, 81.5
|Boston Red Sox, 79.5
||Milwaukee Brewers, 79.5
|Kansas City Royals, 79
||Pittsburgh Pirates, 79
|Cleveland Indians, 77.5
||San Diego Padres, 74.5
|Baltimore Orioles, 76.5
||New York Mets, 74
|Seattle Mariners, 76.5
||Chicago Cubs, 72
|Minnesota Twins, 64.5
||Colorado Rockies, 71.5
|Houston Astros, 59.5
||Miani Marlins, 64.5
unday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) This has to be some kind of a record: Temple's underachieving Owls have played five games in a row decided by a single point (3-2).
According to Stats LLC, its the longest-such streak since at least 1997.
12) Maryland upset Duke despite some of the worst guard play I've seen in a major college game; Terps had 26 turnovers and still won. According to the great website kenpom.com, it was a 78 possession game, meaning that Terps turned ball over on 26 of 78 possessions, and scored 83 points on the other 52 possessions, or 1.596 points per possession. Wow.
11) Game of the day was in Tulsa, where Golden Hurricane beat Houston 101-92 in triple OT. Teams combined to go 13-53 from the arc, and took 85 foul shots- if you had the Cougars +4.5, you didn't enjoy the ending.
10) Washington State hit a game-tying 3-pointer in last 0:10 to tie Oregon, then they fouled the Ducks on purpose with 0:04 left, because their player didn't know the game was tied. Sixth straight loss resulted for Wazzu, as calls for coach Ken Bone's head are growing louder on the Palouse.
9) Ivy League doesn't have a conference tournament, so Harvard's 69-57 win over Princeton is bigger than it would be in other leagues, since it gives them a one-game lead for the automatic bid to the NCAAs, which goes to the regular season champ.
8) St Joe's-LaSalle are both in Philly, both in Atlantic 16, but they only play once a year; what genius made up this schedule? How does it make any sense for two teams in same city/league to not play twice a year?
7) Why does referee Jim Burr work a TV game every Saturday at noon? I'm told refs get paid more for TV games, but Mr Burr, who is from Albany area and has been a terrific official for years and years, always has a TV game in the first block of Saturday games. Was just wondering why.
6) Rough stretch for Iona's Gaels, who've lost four of their last five games, with three of the losses coming in overtime (the other loss was to Canisius by 3). Marist beat them after they tied the game with a 65-footer at the end of an overtime period.
5) Tennessee 88, Kentucky 58-- Going to be a long month for fans of the Wildcats, who have been beating up on SEC rivals for decades. Teams will be attacking the basket now that Noel isn't around to block shots, and no one is going to feel sorry for the Wildcats, who won the national title last year.
4) Going back to Temple's streak of one-point games, I'm totally convinced, without any hard evidence, that college basketball has had a lot more close games than usual this season. I look at Iowa; 7 of their 12 conference games have been decided by 4 or less points. Very strange season.
3) Brandt Snedeker/Phil Mickelson are both out of World Match Play tournament next week; Shane Lowry/Fredrik Jacobson take their places, and get to oppose Rory McIlroy/Eldrick Woods for their troubles.
Not fond of Mickelson saying he is opting not to play because his son is on vacation from school next week; pretty sure he could bring the kid with him, and they'd have a great time. Its a big event; Mickelson should be there.
2) Odd fact they said on CBS Saturday: Last time a guy won the LA Open in his first time playing the tournament was Pat Fitzsimons, in 1975.
1) Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria must be a real gem; he told Jose Reyes' agent that Reyes should buy a home in Miami, two days before the Marlins dealt Reyes to Toronto. Wonder if Showtime wants to do another reality series with the Miami team this spring-- I'm guessing not.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Read where a 15-year old girl in Florida was injured and needed a therapy dog to help her with physical recovery, but her single mom couldn’t afford it, so Charlie Sheen found out about it (somehow Sheen’s uncle knew the mother), wrote out a check for $10,000 and mailed it to the girl and she’ll be getting the dog. Very nice thing to do; you hear so much bad stuff about people, its good to hear things like this.
12) North Carolina is 0-6 this season vs teams ranked in top 40; #44 UNLV, which is struggling mightily in Mountain West this season, is highest-ranked team Tar Heels have beaten.
11) Speaking of UNLV, Jerry Tarkanian is one of 12 finalists to get inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield; we hope Tarkanian is deservedly voted into the Hall. He won over 80% of his games, after all; his teams dominated college basketball in the late 80's/early 90's. .
10) Mountain West announced it will keep its conference tournament in Vegas at least thru 2016; they tried it in Denver for a couple years- bad move. Having the tournament at UNLV—good move.
9) Roger Goodell banked $22M bonus this year, earned just under $30M for the season; his #1 job right now seems to be protecting the NFL from this concussion lawsuit. Would be curious to know what the bonus was for.
8) Tried to watch the rookie/sophomore All-Star Game on TNT, but to me, it wasn't basketball; when the losing team scores 130+ points and doesn't come close to winning, thats more like streetball than basketball, and I'm fairly sure Sunday night's game will be pretty much the same thing.
7) San Jose Sharks started NHL season 7-0, but now they've lost seven games in row, with three losses in OT/SO. Weird way to start a season.
6) Wrestlemania 30 is coming to the Superdome next year; no way will they pass up on making fun of the lights going out during the Super Bowl earlier this month. Sad thing is, WWE might have better officiating than this year’s Super Bowl did.
5) Since 1990, 120 new minor league ballparks have opened; this spring, Scranton will be #121. Minor league baseball is a profitable business, since the parent clubs are paying player salaries.
4) Strange world we live in; I’m in line at Dunkin’ Donuts Friday morning, getting my morning hot chocolate, when woman in front of me in line reaches over, grabs fistful (12-14) of straws and stuffs them in her purse, and it looked like a fairly expensive purse. She is in there most every morning. Guess its not a big deal, just made me laugh/shake my head when I saw it.
3) FOX did me a big favor, making self-promoting announcer Gus Johnson the voice of its soccer coverage. Not fond of Gus’ work, and I never watch soccer, so that works great for me.
2) So the guy who founded Jack ‘n the Box, the huge west coast fast food chain, was married to a woman who was mayor of San Diego from 1986-92; guy died in ’94, then the woman wound up with a brain tumor, got depressed, then lost over $13M gambling. If she was depressed before she lost the $13M, what was she like after? Yikes.
Apparently, she misused $2M from the husband’s charitable foundation, but never stole from the city of San Diego itself. This movie almost writes itself. Mr Jack ‘n the Box was worth over $40M; she couldn’t find a better outlet for her grief than video poker?
1) This is just a guess, but we’re going to hear an lot more about this Red Sox/painkiller story this spring. Somehow I doubt Boston is the only team.
Friday's List of 13: Random thoughts with weekend here......
13) All this conference realignment in college sports revolves around the huge money generated by football, but it affects basketball bigtime, too; think about Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who was a Big 12 coach at Texas A&M, but left to coach in the ACC, at Maryland, a step up in prestige.
12) Problem is, Maryland then bolted to the Big Dozen, something I'm guessing Turgeon never considered when he was changing jobs. Had he stayed with the Aggies, he would've wound up in the SEC, singe A&M moved there. None of these moves had anything to do with basketball, though.
If he had to do it all over again, would he have stayed with the Aggies?
11) Miami Heat beat Oklahoma City for 6th time in row; Lebron James had 39, as Miami gets to the All-Star break at 36-14.
10) Lakers limp into the break 25-29, amidst reports that owner Jerry Buss is in grave health with cancer/penumonia; Buss has been a great owner for the Lakers, who got hammered by the Clippers Thursday, 125-101.
9) Fred Couples is playing in the Los Angeles Open for 31st time, more than anyone else has; he shot -3 Thursday, is in contetion after the first day.
8) Brandt Snedeker is the hottest name in golf, but he withdrew from next week's Match Play championship; he would've been the fourth #1 seed, with McIlroy-Woods-Donald.
7) St Mary's made a run at Gonzaga and led 33-32 at half, after trailing by 7 early, but Zags put it into another gear after halftime and pulled away from the Gaels 77-60 in Moraga. Gonzaga is very good, with lot of pieces to win with- they're going to be a fashionable pick to get to the Final Four.
6) Colorado avenged its controversial loss to Arizona in Tucson by pasting the Wildcats 71-58 in Boulder; Buffs were 9-17 behind the arc.
5) Temple is screwing up its season; the win over Syracuse doesn't mean much when you lose to Duquesne at home. Dukes had been winless in A-16 play before their 84-83 win as 17-point underdogs Thursday.
4) Weber State avenged an earlier loss at Montana by beating the Griz 87-63 in Ogden; Montana lost its first conference game this season, but still leads the Big Sky by a game.
3) Brett Olson hit a fadeway 3-pointer at the buzzer in OT, giving Denver a 63-60 win and a season sweep over Utah State; Pioneers are 12-2 in WAC, but trail Louisiana Tech by two games.
2) Coaching is strangling the game in some places; Western Illinois beat North Dakota State 49-36; Wofford lost 40-33 at Samford; all that with a 35-second shot clock. Coaches, let your players play!!!!
1) Halftime score: Cal 47, UCLA 22. Huh? Has a guy who got to three straight Final Fours ever gotten less respect than Ben Howland? Bruin legend Bill Walton thrashed Howland on TV last week, which can't help, and this score will help less. How are those players down 25 at the half?
I can see Bruce Pearl coaching UCLA in two years; he is ineligible to be hired by anyone until then, because he lied to the NCAA in an investigation about where a team cookout was held. Considering some of the stuff that happened since then, they should let him back into coaching now.
Thursday's List of 13: Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.....
Kentucky star Nerlens Noel tore his ACL Tuesday night and is done for the year; what should he do now? Jump to NBA, but get drafted lower than he should because he won’t be healed yet? Or go back to Kentucky, use their facilities to rehab and get back to playing shape, so he can be a top pick when he does come out?
Its an interesting debate, which branches out into other debates.
12) In my opinion, kids should be able to jump right from high school to the pros, then if they’re not drafted in June, they should be able to sign and play for a college that fall.
11) Also, I think that if an NBA team drafts a kid but doesn’t want him on its 15-man roster that season, they should decide (by August 20, to pick a date) and pay for the kid’s scholarship.
Every year, the team would be on the hook for the scholarship, but they have to choose every August whether to bring him up to the NBA. Once he goes, then his college days are obviously done, but if they cut the kid and he does not hook up with someone else, then they still have to pay for the rest of his college education.
10) I don’t think forcing kids to go to college for one season helps college game; its killing some teams, who recruit good players but watch them walk away after one year (see Paul Hewitt’s Georgia Tech teams).
The college game would be more enjoyable if we had more players staying for 3-4 years, so we get to know them; quality of play would go down some, but level of enjoyment would go up.
9) Then there is Jadeveon Clowney, the South Carolina football player who would probably be the #1 pick in April, except football players have to wait three years before going to the draft.
Some are suggesting he sit out a year to avoid injury (like his Gamecock teammate Marcus Lattimore), but players need to play. If you’re running an NFL team and you saw a kid sit out a year solely to avoid injury, do you want that person on your team? You do not. He has to play, and God willing he’ll be healthy and make a lot of money and somehow play for the Rams.
8) Elsewhere, good news from the Big Dozen, where Barry Alvarez says league members will no longer play I-AA (FCS) teams, but because schedules are made so far in advance, that probably can’t happen until 2016. Remember when Appalachian State beat Michigan? That was embarrassing. No I-A football teams should ever play a I-AA team, simple as that.
7) Despite their hideous lockout, the average NHL ticket for non-premium seats costs $61.01, up 5.7% from last season; the NBA's average ticket went up 3.5% to $50.99.
If the NHL has any public relations skill at all, no team will raise its prices for next season, after starting this season in mid-January.
6) Interesting story of how Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero didn’t get along well with (now traded) pitching prospect Trevor Bauer, saying the kid wouldn’t listen to him, as far as how to pitch and set up his pitches. Thats the kind of stuff we don’t hear too much about, but is interesting.
Remember how Mike Mussina wouldn’t pitch to Jorge Posada, Brandon Webb wanted to pitch to Chris Snyder, and Greg Maddux preferred not to pitch to Javy Lopez? Baseball is mainly an individual sport, but not always, especially when pitchers/catchers are involved- they need to work together.
5) “We are not going to be happy unless we have a winning season.” Mets GM Sandy Alderson, as he prepares for an unhappy six months, starting April 1. Check out the Mets' outfielders; not big league caliber.
4) Its funny that ARod will make $30M this year and may not play a game; Vernon Wells makes $24M and won’t start for the Angels- person who gave Wells that contract should be suspended from his job for a year, like a hockey player getting a penalty.
Same with the Carl Crawford contract; ridiculous spending- who could look at Crawford’s career and call him a $20M a year player? At least ARod is hurt or broken down.
Wells doesn’t start because he’s not very good anymore.
3) No one ever talks about this, but for hitters, spring training is too long. Spring training is for pitchers to get ready, hitters just don’t need this much time. When Nick Markakis was hurt last spring, he said he only needed 4-5 games of live action to get ready for the season, and he had a good year, once they moved him to leadoff.
2) I'm amused that college teams have their timeout huddles out on the court, away from the crowd, but NBA teams have them on the bench.
Guess college coaches yell more.
1) Last thought on Nerlens Noel, which hadn’t dawned on me until I read it just now: He apparently is still going to be a top 5 pick, so he has to go pro, and grab the money just in case the knee never rehabs properly. I think coach Calipari would tell him the same thing. We wish him well.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.....
13) I love college basketball, but all this bracketology talk, who are last four teams in and first four out, I pay no attention to it, because on March 17, CBS will tell us what 68 teams got in, then I’ll go about trying to figure out who is going to win.
Whoever feels they got jilted can cry on ESPN later, but that’s irrelevant to me. All the rest is just useless speculation, although useless can be fun, but during the regular season, I'm just not real big on speculation.
12) The foul/not foul debate when a team is up three points in last 0:20 of a game is interesting, but what many casual fans don’t realize is that it isn’t always that simple to foul in a way that will help your team.
Its easy to sit there and say what should happen, but these are 18-20 year old kids and they screw things up. Sometimes playing straight up defense is the right way to go about it. Not the perfect way, but the safest way.
11) Statistics expert Ken Pomeroy did a long project researching situations like that, and his data says not fouling is a slightly better option. If you have smart players, you have more flexibility.
10) Josh Hamilton reported to Angels’ camp 20-25 pounds lighter than he usually reported to Rangers’ camp. He’ll be an interesting study this year. Texas didn’t seem that eager to keep him.
9) A Carnival cruise ship had a fire in its engine room and is 150 miles off the Mexican coast, stranded at sea with 3,143 passengers aboard. That sounds like a great time- we hope everyone gets home safely.
8) Pau Gasol does not need surgery on his knee, which has to be a relief to the Lakers. Actually, just having the All-Star break will probably be a relief to the Lakers, who seem miserable even when they win.
7) Kobe Bryant was 1-8 from floor with 8 turnovers, yet Lakers still beat Phoenix, 91-85. Dwight Howard showed a pulse with 19 points, 18 boards.
6) If I was paying Howard $18M a year and he played in All-Star Game on Sunday night, we’d be having a little talk on why he hasn’t been playing in too many of the Lakers’ games.
5) There was an uproar today because Olympics are cutting out wrestling, which was one of the first Olympic sports. Sounds like a great plot line for Vince McMahon and the WWE to take advantage of.
4) Over the last five years, Michael Bourn has 55 more stolen bases than anyone else in the major leagues.
3) Memphis beat Kings 108-101, in a game where Jimmer Fredette wasn't used by a terrible Sacramento team. Its hard to believe that he can't help any NBA team; if he can, then WSacramento should help themselves by getting rid of him.
2) Didn't look good for Kentucky star Nerlens Noel, as he rammed into basket support in Gainesville and was carried off the floor with a knee injury. Wildcats will have trouble making the NCAAs if Noel is out for very long.
1) Michigan State was on top of its game when it pounded rival Michigan Tuesday night, the end of a brual 4-game gauntlet for the Wolverines, who figure to bounce back from this and gain momentum heading into March.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) How can anyone in college basketball poll vote for Duke over Miami? Miami beat Duke by 27, they haven’t lost a game when they’ve been 100% healthy, and Duke is still missing Kelly, one of its key guys, and the Curry kid never practices, they tell us, because he is so banged up. It does not really matter, but voting Duke over Miami, right now, is simply wrong.
12) Brandt Snedeker earned just under $18M in purse money in the last 14 months, so he doesn’t need the money, so when one of these equipment companies throws a boatload of cash at him next fall, will he switch equipment like Rory McIlroy did?
Shouldn’t he stay with the sticks he’s winning with?
11) Classic sandwich situation for the Heat Tuesday night, when they host a Portland team that beat them 92-90 in Oregon last month.
Heat just played Lakers on national TV Sunday; they play Thunder on national TV Thursday, in last game before All-Star break. Curious to see if they cover the big number away from the spotlight tonight.
10) Adidas is coming out with sleeved basketball uniforms; Golden State will wear them in a couple of weeks. last college team to wear sleeved uniforms was Evansville; think New Mexico State had them at one point, too.
9) Kansas awoke from its three-game skid and blasted K-State 83-62, as McLemore scored 30 points on his 20th birthday.
8) Michael Vick signed on for one year with the Eagles; he can earn as much as $10M if things go well. Will be an interesting study, how he, Chip Kelly bond as QB/coach. Vick can be an unrestricted free agent next winter.
7) Washington Wizards were 5-28 before John Wall suited up this season; they're 10-7 since he came back. Wiz won by 12 in Milwaukee Monday.
6) New Orleans Hornets are 19-9 vs spread when getting points on road, only 5-9-1 when getting them at home.
5) Celtics beat the Clippers/Lakers/Nuggets, then lose to Charlotte. Makes perfect sense. Boston lost another guard (Barbosa) to a knee injury.
4) Good Lord, Mets got outbid by the Indians for Michael Bourn; state of New York should let the Wilpons build that casino next to Citi Field on one stipulation, that they sell the Mets.
I've said this before and it still holds: the longest eight miles in sports is the eight miles between the baseball stadiums in Bronx and Queens.
3) Carmelo Anthony is a tremendous scorer, he’s always going to get his points, but if I’m a GM trying to build a championship team, I’d have to say no thanks. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m just not a big fan of his. Too much whining, not enough passing or making teammates better.
2) Put it this way, the Nuggets traded Anthony to the Knicks but they’ve got a better team, despite having zero All-Stars. They have a t-e-a-m.
1) Do you think its fun being Pope? I mean, Pitt Panthers have had four football coaches in five years, but before this week, no one had quit being Pope in over 700 years!!! Job has to have some serious perks, although the working Sundays thing would be a deal-breaker for me.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) Felix Hernandez' $135M contract extension is on hold because of concerns about King Felix' elbow, his right elbow, obviously.
Hernandez has been a workhorse in his career, with 1620.1 IP already; in fact, Elias Sports Bureau reports that since 1969, only three pitchers have thrown more innings before their 27th birthday, Bert Blyleven, Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden.
You throw an extra $135M at someone, you want to have a pretty good idea they're going to be around to earn it.
12) Celtics are 7-0 since Rajon Rondo got hurt, beating Denver in triple OT in a wild game, where Denver's bench shot just 17-49 (34.7%) from the floor. Interesting to see how the veteran-laden Celtics play in their next game.
11) Boston College took a financial hit, hosting Duke at same time Celtics were playing, and while train service in Boston was still shut down-- crowd wasn't very big. BC let one slip away, losing 62-61 to Duke squad that flew up to Boston Sunday morning, because of the blizzard.
10) There was another multi-OT game Sunday, as Illinois-Chicago won at Youngstown State in triple OT. Somehow, I doubt a replay of this game will make it to ESPN Classic; thats reserved for the BCS conferences.
9) Couple of big upsets Sunday, as Cal Bears won at Arizona, and Illinois backed up its upset of Indiana with a win at Minnesota. Selection committee is going to have its hands full next month, bracketing teams for the NCAAs.
8) Jacksonville State coach James Green was suspended for a game by the OVC after getting two technicals and being tossed from his team's game at Tennessee Tech this weekend. Green is doing a good job at Jacksonville; his team is 15-8 and much-improved- he used to be coach at Southern Miss.
7) Denver Nuggets are 33-19, one of the NBA's better teams, but they do not have an All-Star this season. They'll be well-rested coming out of the All-Star break next week.
6) San Antonio Spurs have nine foreign-born players on their roster, the most in NBA history.
5) Cleveland Indians signed Jason Giambi/Diasuke Matsuzaka this weekend; not really sure why. Guess Giambi will take Travis Hafner's place as the old, oft-injured DH. Tribe is hurting for pitching if they signed Dice-K.
4) Arizona Wildcats' football team went 8-5 this year, which earned coach Rich Rodriguez a $225,000 raise and a one-year contract extension. What will they give him if they ever make it to the Rose Bowl?
3) Houston Astros' owner Jim Crane tied for 3rd at the Pebble Beach pro-am golf tournament, teamed with pro Kevin Streelman. Crane played college baseball, so he's no stranger to competition.
2) Its good to be golfer Brandt Snedeker, who won $15M playing golf LY, and finished 2-2-1 in his last three tournaments this year; he jogged this week at Pebble Beach, and has jumped to #4 in World Rankings. .
1) Our condolences to St John's coach Steve Lavin on the passing of his dad, who died this weekend. During his seven years on ESPN, Lavin often referenced his father, who played at USF- they were obviously very close.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a college basketball Saturday....
As I type this, it is 2 below zero here in upstate New York. If anyone has a condo in Las Vegas they want to sell me, I'm all ears. Cold ears, but listening.
13) Notre Dame 104, Louisville 101, in five OT's-- Will be hard to top this as the best game of the season. Was a lousy game for 39 minutes, then all hell broke loose. Check the box up above for some notes on this game.
12) Wisconsin 65, Michigan 62, OT-- Kid on Badgers stuck a 40-footer at the buzzer to force OT, when Wolverines had fouls to give but didn't foul. Hard to believe this wasn't the most exciting game of the day. It wasn't.
11) Tweet of the Day, from Oakland Grizzlies' coach Greg Kampe:
"Shhhhh. Be vewy vewy quiet. I'm hunting Jackwabbits."
You see, Kampe's team hosted South Dakota State's Jackrabbits Saturday, so in his best Elmer Fudd voice, Kampe sent his team on the floor and pulled the upset, 88-83. Oakland "held" Nate Wolters to 36 (he had 53 Thursday).
10) Illinois State 75, Creighton 72-- Top of the MVC is taking some lumps from middle of the league, which won't help come Selection Sunday.
9) Miami 87, North Carolina 61-- Not only did the Hurricanes crush the Tar Heels, they clowned them too, throwing alley-oops off the backboard for breakaway dunks. That will be remembered down the road in Chapel Hill.
8) UNLV 64, New Mexico 55-- Rebels desperately needed this win, and so did North Carolina, since Rebels are their best non-conference win. UNLV is still trying to find lineup combos that work; all of them would work better if they had a dynamic point guard on the squad. Not even close.
7) Memphis 89, Southern Miss 76-- Josh Pastner takes a lot of grief since he isn't named Calipari, but his Tigers are unbeaten in C-USA. This was a solid win over a Golden Eagle squad that pressures ball really well, and had not lost a conference home game.
6) Oklahoma 72, Kansas 66-- Jayhawks have lost three games in row for first time in eight years; listening to Bill Self after the game, he could accept losing to the Sooners, but was still annoyed about the TCU game. .
5) Texas gets PG Myck Kabongo back for its next game, but they're 10-13, 2-8 in conference play, doubtful he can help them enough to make NCAAs, unless they somehow won the conference tournament. Hopefully he'll do the right thing and play for Texas next year, to improve his NBA stock.
4) Temple 72, Dayton 71-- Dr Naismith spun around in his grave watching end of this game; in the last 0:03, there were three turnovers and 0-5 shooting from the foul line. In three freakin' seconds. There was also a decent amount of horrific officiating. Neither team deserved to win, and the refs didn't really deserve to get paid. Just ask Archie Miller.
3) Northeastern 79, Old Dominion 74, OT-- Monarchs were 2-20, they fired the coach, then they upset Drexel and took first place Huskies to OT, so I'm guessing there is an interesting story behind the firing.
2) Georgia 52, Texas A&M 46-- We generally root for bald coaches who wear glasses, so good to see Mark Fox win his fifth straight game, against an Aggie team playing on short rest after beating Missouri Thursday.
1) I mentioned this a couple weeks ago, it is still true; there is one thing preventing Miami from being ranked #1, not that it matters much- their uniforms aren't blue, and they don't say "DUKE" on the front. Next month there is a tournament, so the polls will be forgotten soon, thank God.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff on a snowy night......
13) My question on the Felix Hernandez contract extension is this: Does he have a no-trade clause? Big question for me, because it speaks to Mariners’ commitment to winning. If he doesn’t have a no-trade, they can opt out and dump salary if things go sour. If he does have a no-trade, they’ll work harder to put a winning team around him.
12) Speaking of going sour, Bronx GM Brian Cashman has to pay his ex $1M a year thru the year 2025. What if he gets fired and he loses his $3M a year job? Do they go back to court and re-negotiate? The ex also got their $3.7M house in Connecticut. Cashman has a membership to Winged Foot; when exactly does he have the time to play golf?
11) Oregon Ducks were 7-0 in Pac-12 before freshman PG Artis hurt his foot; now they’ve lost three games in row without him. There is no timetable for his return, as stress-type injuries with feet can be dicey, as far as re-injuries go.
10) Chicago Blackhawks are only NHL team that hasn’t lost a game in regulation yet; you still get a point if you lose in OT/SO.
9) Arizona 2B Aaron Hill will be 31 in March; he had 26 homers LY, after being hampered by injuries in ’11—he just signed a three-year, $35M deal with the D’backs. Lot of money for a guy in his 30’s.
8) Condoleeza Rice drilled a spectator in the head during Pebble Beach pro-am golf tournament; drew a lot of blood, as head injuries tend to bleed a lot. People stand too close to these amateur golfers. If I was playing, safest place to stand would be right in front of me—I rarely hit the ball straight.
7) HGTV has a program called Cool Pools, about unique/creative swimming pools in people’s houses. Now that would be excellent, to go swimming in your own house.
6) Had to read this story twice, but Cal Tech recently broke a 228-game losing streak in baseball. How in the name of Don Zimmer do you lose 228 games in a row? Do they recruit? Do they have a coach? Do they use gloves? Why do they bother?
5) Rene Lachemann resurfaced as first base coach in Colorado; he was a coach in Oakland when Rockies skipper Walt Weiss played there. He’s managed in Seattle/Florida (Marlins’ first manager), a solid baseball guy.
4) If you have any doubt sports betting will be legalized soon, keep in mind that a total of $3.4B was wagered at Nevada sports books in 2012, up from $2.8B the year before- there’s just too much money involved in all this for it not to happen eventually.
3) In case you wondering, the ’62-’64 Mets lost 340 games, the most of any team in a 3-year span.
2) Notre Dame will play Big East basketball again next year; my guess is school refused to pay whatever exit fee the league wanted for the Irish to leave a year earlier than first anticipated. Why would the Big East want them for one extra year, if they don’t want to be there?
1) If you asked me to do one thing to shorten college basketball games (media types care more about this than fans) I’d suggest reducing how many time outs teams can call. Coaching are strangling the game anyway; let the kids use what they learn in practice on game day. Less timeouts=shorter games.
TV timeouts should provide enough teaching time during games.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind......
13) Check out SportsCenter to see Marist's Chavaughn Lewis drain a tying 65-foot prayer at the end of the first OT. Red Foxes, a 16-point dog, stunned Iona 105-104 in double OT, in maybe the most exciting game played all season.
12) Felix Hernandez gets seven years, $175M from the Mariners; that’s a lot of money. We've had our keeper fantasy league for eight years now, and Felix is one of the few players who has been on the same team all eight years.
11) Celtics are 6-0 since Rajon Rondo blew his knee out; please don’t be the person who suggests that Boston is better off without him. They’re not.
10) University of North Dakota teams were always called the Fighting Sioux, until that nickname was deemed offensive to Native Americans; UND has yet to get a new nickname/mascot, and apparently won’t until 2015. Not sure what the delay is, not like there’s a transfer rule for mascots.
9) Tennessee Titans hired Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator, so that clinches that Tennessee’s game at St Louis this fall will be in primetime, since the Rams not only didn't wait to re-hire Williams, they dumped his son the assistant coach because the other coaches thought he was a know-it-all. .
8) Carlos Boozer missed 138 games in his last six NBA seasons; that’s 23 games out of 82 each year (and one of those seasons was only 66 games). Lot of money for a guy who isn’t very durable.
7) Mark Fox is doing his best with the Georgia Bulldogs, who won their last four games to get to 5-4 in SEC, 11-11 overall. Its tough to turn a losing program around; Fox was highly successful at Nevada, but Wolf Pack had a winning team before Fox took over. Georgia is a much tougher place to win in roundball- you have Kentucky/Florida in your league, for one.
6) Slow news day in Big Apple: Lindsay Lohan owes $223,904 in taxes, doesn’t have it, so she moved back home. What exactly does she do for a living? If she got paid for appearing in newspapers, she’d have more money than Bill Gates.
5) Boston Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas is 38; he took this year off to spend tim with his family, but in meantime, he was traded to the Islanders for a 2nd-round draft pick. Its unusual, but apparently salary cap-related.
4) Wright State won in double OT at Green Bay, a strange game where Wright State had three double digit scorers, none of whom started the game. Raiders made 11-20 behind the arc, only took six foul shots (5-6).
3) Murray State beat Belmont 79-74, giving Bruins their first OVC loss; it would be surprising if those two don't meet for the OVC title next month in the conference tournament.
2) How did that kid on Illinois get a wide-open layup with 0:00.7 left to give Illinois its upset win over Indiana? High school teams all over America will be running plays like that next week. Lousy defense by Indiana, as they forgot the most important thing-- protect the freakin' basket.
1) South Dakota State's Nate Wolters scored 53 points as the Jackrabbits came back from down 37-29 at the half to win 80-74 at IP-Fort Wayne. Kid was 9-14 from arc, 8-14 inside it, 10-11 from the line. Not a lot of defense in the Summit League these days.
12Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a cold winter day.....
13) All this stuff about National Signing Day is good publicity for college football, but it means nothing, since most freshmen redshirt anyway, so you don’t see lot of these kids on the field until 18-19 months from now. Plus, recruiting services don’t know as much as they’d like you to think.
12) 12 years ago, I was an assistant basketball coach at Schenectady HS; we won the NY State public school championship, had really good players, but none of them were ranked in top 300 in the country, even though Jason McKreith went to play for Rice (could have gone to Rutgers or Marquette had he chosen to) and Rashaun Freeman played at UMass, and is still playing pro ball overseas. If you win the NY State public school championship, you almost have to have a player(s) who deserve to be in the nation's top 300.
Meanwhile, a 7-foot tall kid from across the river here was #82 in country, because Syracuse recruited him and he signed with them. But if you were playing a game for money and choosing sides, you would’ve taken McKreith, Freeman over this kid every time, if you were serious about winning.
Side note: a kid named Gillespie made the top 300 that summer; his dad was an assistant coach at Rice at the time. Thats why I say the thing is a total joke, scouting "gurus" doing coaches favors, putting their kids on the list.
Recruiting services had no clue and I doubt much has changed since then. Too many kids to look at, and not enough time to judge them properly.
11) That said, sounds like Ole Miss did better recruiting than they have in years. If you believe in ESPN’s top 150 list, Ole Miss got three of those kids; in the previous seven seasons, Rebels never got one kid off that top 150 list, so somehow they’ve made inroads recruiting the top players. Good for them. Now all they have to do is coach ‘em up.
10) Was surprised to hear that Tuesday night was first time Mike Tirico, Dick Vitale worked together in 12 years; you would’ve thought they would cross paths before then, no? They’re doing Indiana-Michigan State on the 19th, with Magic Johnson in a 3-man booth.
9) Basketball coaches like to preach that 80% of the shots missed from one corner are rebounded on the other side of the floor; someone finally did a study on 1,000+ missed 3-pointers, and found that while most missed 3’s from the corners do go to the other side of the floor, that number is really only 44%, but still its more than other areas of the floor. That couldn’t have been much fun, charting 1,000+ missed shots.
8) Houston Rockets tied an NBA record with 23 made 3’s Tuesday, but the Warriors wouldn’t let them break the record, fouling intentionally at the end so they couldn’t take any more shots behind the arc. Words were exchanged. Teams play again soon; it could be an interesting game.
7) Be warned, Baltimore, not that you care right now; the last seven Super Bowl champs did not win a playoff game the following season.
6) Phil Mickelson/Dustin Johnson are both 8-1 to win at Pebble Beach this weekend, with Brandt Snedeker 12-1. Lefty is defending champ, plus he won last week in Phoenix, but he’s also playing for third week in row.
5) Monopoly is dumping the “iron” game piece in favor of a “cat” token. People apparently voted on which game piece would get dumped. Must’ve been lot of people with wrinkled clothes that voted.………Monopoly, by the way, is sold in 111 countries, played in 43 different languages.
4) Pau Gasol is out 4-6 weeks with plantar fasciatis in his foot; time for Dwight Howard to man up and start earning his $18M a year salary. In other words, time for him to grow up.
3) Wisconsin 74, Iowa 70, in double OT. Is it me, or have there been a lot more close games in conference play this season?
2) Texas-Arlington basketball coach Scott Cross sent out an open letter to UTA fans, asking them to support the team for the rest of this season and in future years. Cross is a UTA alum, his passion for the school is evident. Well-written letter.
1) Can I please get the name of the genius who decided that having the US Postal Service sponsor Lance Armstrong was a good idea? Now we’re not getting mail delivered on Saturday anymore, while they tossed away $34M sponsoring that lying fool.
Even if he wasn’t a liar, if he was clean, why was the USPS wasting our money like that? We need to know who to blame for this fiasco.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
Johan Santana made 21 starts LY; the 11th was a 134-pitch no-hitter on June 1. Here are how his starts broke down, before, after his no-hitter.
First 10s: 2-2, 2.75; most PT, 108.
Last 10s: 3-7, 8.27.
Included in his sordid second half effort was an ankle he sprained while covering first base, but hard to argue that the no-hitter did anything but reduce his ability to be an effective pitcher, especially considering they shut him down after his start on August 17.
He’s making $25M this year and next, but says he’s pitching in WBC next month. If I’m the Mets, I have a problem with that, seeing as he turns 34 on March 13.
12) Now that Jed Lowrie is gone from Houston, the entire payroll of the 2013 Astros is less than what Alex Rodriguez will make this year.
A-Rod might not even play at all until 2014.
11) Facilities impress kids and money builds new facilities. You get 92,000 people to your spring football game, you have a lot of money.
Alabama’s new football weight room cost $9M and is 34,000 square feet. That’s a lot of barbells.
10) My buddy coaches a Division III, non-scholarship girls’ basketball team; one of his players is 71-74 from foul line this season. Dwight Howard makes $18M a year; he is 198-399 from the foul line. Go figure.
9) Don't look now, but the Lakers are 5-1 in their last six games, and at same time Howard is out with an "injured shoulder". Go figure.
8) San Diego Toreros play home games in the Jenny Craig Pavilion, better known as The Slim Gym. Pretty cool name.
7) Glad to read that Dick Vitale will be calling the Final Four for ESPN International in April; as much as he has done for college basketball, Dickie V has never called a Final Four game. Now that will be corrected. Good.
6) Old Dominion is 2-20 in basketball this season, an abysmal season, but over the last eight years, they were 195-81; over last four years, 101-40.
Why did they fire coach Blaine Taylor? I mean its Old Dominion, not UCLA or Kentucky. What do they expect, never to have a bad year? Unless there is some other non-basketball reason, this seems terribly unfair.
5) ESPN’s Trey Wingo came up with weird fact of the day: Last four teams to play in the Eagles’ home opener won the Super Bowl that year.
4) Houston Rockets made 23-40 shots behind the arc, crushing Golden State 140-109, and tying the record for most 3-pointers in an NBA game.
3) How is it that I pay for the NBA Full Court package, but late night replays of the games get blacked out of my Sports Tier, while NHL reruns don’t get blacked out, even though I didn’t buy the Center Ice package?
If I pay for NBA Full Court, I should also get all the replays of games that are shown.
2) Ohio State-Michigan was quality entertainment, an excellent game. Maybe biggest question for the better Big Dozen teams is whether they will beat each other up so much during the season that they won't have enough energy to excel in March. Its a fair question.
1) The increasingly hideous Wilpon family, who run the big market-Mets like they’re the Class A Lansing Lugnuts, now want to build a casino next to Citi Field, so they can bilk even more money out of unsuspecting New Yorkers.
It wasn’t enough to be in bed with Bernie Madoff, now they want to compete with casinos in Atlantic City and Connecticut.
If I’m running New York State, I wouldn’t give these nitwits a driver’s license, much less a gaming license, but that’s me.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) CBS had 62 cameras at the Super Bowl? They had more cameramen than either team had players. Only 11 cameras were still running during the power outage.
12) In 2008, $92.05M was bet legally on the Giant-Patriot Super Bowl; a year later, after the economy crashed, $81.5M was wagered on the Cardinal-Steeler Super Bowl.
In a 73-minute stretch Sunday night, only 1:33 of game action took place, which helped contribute to a record $98.9M in handle, with sportsbooks making a $7.2M profit, the 21st time in last 23 years books won out.
11) During the power outage, I read that you could risk $100 on the 49ers to win SU and collect $585 if they won. That play almost hit. Think lot of people who were down on the 49ers tried to regroup with that play?
10) Mercedes-Benz pays $50M a year as the corporate sponsor of the Superdome; what percentage of that do you think they recouped in name recognition Sunday?
9) Omar Vizquel finally retired as a ballplayer; he is now a roving infield instructor with the Angels.
8) So I’m watching the Caribbean World Series after the Super Bowl Sunday night; game is tied, bottom of 9th, team A has runners on 1st and 3rd, one out, tie game, winning run is on third. Jordany Valdespin of the Mets is up, with Hanley Ramirez up next.
Genius that manages Team B walks Valdespin to get to Ramirez; you think if he did that in the major leagues he’d be fired before the game was over? So the pitcher gets Ramirez out on the first pitch, the skipper looks smarter, until the guy behind Ramirez hits a ball up the gap in right-center to end the game. Not the greatest exhibition of game strategy.
Not sure what that manager’s day job is, but hope he didn’t give it up.
7) NHL back-to-backs so far: road teams are 11-20 (4-9 if going from home-to-road, 7-11 if second night in row on road), 13-10 at home (7-3 if second night in row at home, 6-7 if road-to-home).
6) Miami is 8-0 in ACC play, very good team; last ACC club other than Duke/Carolina to start 8-0 in conference play was Ralph Sampson’s Virginia team in 1981. Miami head man Larranaga was an assistant coach with that team.
5) I’m not a big Jay Bilas fan, but credit to him on Marquette-Louisville Sunday for knowing that Louisville's AAA baseball team is called the Bats. They were showing the clip of a live bat flying around Marquette’s arena during a game last week; weird stuff.
4) You think Eldrick Woods watches golf on TV if he’s home on a Sunday afternoon? If I was a pro golfer, I'd tailor my schedule to play when there were fewer good guys playing. Money is just as green if you beat chumps.
3) I’m convinced that golf announcers are coached not to talk about the money list during broadcasts; rookie announcer Notah Begay mentioned something about an also-ran playing to earn more money this week, when NBC’s Dan Hicks quickly piped in “…and FedEx Cup points.” like you can spend those at the supermarket. We’re not stupid, we know they play for money, and a lot of money. We're OK with it, really.
2) Sad to see Brandon Webb retire Monday; he single-handedly carried my fantasy team’s pitching staff through the two best years my team has had (2007-08). Was hoping he could make a comeback.
1) I don’t know where I’ll live when I retire from my day job, but sure don’t want to live anywhere that you can drive your car on a lake in winter. I like hockey, but I want warmth, and lots of it.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up Super Bowl Sunday........
13) Quite a four hours in New Orleans tonight, so much happened, best of which my cousin put $50 on the Ravens at 25-1 before playoffs started. Yesterday was his 29th birthday (again!!!), so happy birthday, my friend.
Imagine the conversations that must have been happening about all the contingecy planning that would've had to happen had the lights not come back on in the Superdome? Houston? San Antonio? Dallas? Baton Rouge?
What about all the TV ad money had the game been postponed to a different day? Someone's going to lose their job over that 34-minute debacle.
12) Before I go any further, I was wrong about Joe Flacco; didn't think he was that good a QB, but he found Anquan Boldin on couple of scramble situations rolling to his right. Very cool under pressure, and more mobile than you would think. It helps that they have excellent receivers, too.
11) Our man Les Miles was sitting in row in front of Harbaughs' parents; bet you he loved the fake field goal that didn't work. Actually Ravens held on next series, got ball back and scored a TD, so the fake FG would up being OK for Baltimore.
10) Phil Simms claims Colin Kaepernick would still be an NFL QB even if he couldn't run so well; if Kaepernick couldn't run, he'd be a major league pitcher. Baseball was his best sport in high school.
9) NFL has to put their best officials on these games; no way is Jerome Boger the best referee in the league-- he missed an obvious roughing passer call on the Niners and called a BS roughing the kicker penalty on the Ravens that gave the 49ers three points they didn't deserve. Give us Ed Hochuli.
Knew NFL ref Gene Steratore wasn't in New Orleans when he worked the Manhattan-Siena hoop game in Albany Friday night.
8) Last Super Bowl loser to win the Super Bowl the next season was Miami in Super Bowl VII. 49ers tied Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII for most points scored by a Super Bowl loser (31).
7) Not often a team averages 6.3 yards/rush and 10.2 yards/pass attempt and loses, but Ravens were +1 in turnovers and had that long kick return for a TD, and in today's football, that trumps most everything. 49ers gained 468 yards but lost, which makes for a long winter for their defensive coaches.
6) Small things make a big difference; Mississippi State lost 69-68 at home to LSU Saturday-- Bulldogs made only 13-27 from the foul line.
5) Rough week for DePaul, which lost pair of overtime games; better week for UConn, which won a pair of overtime tilts.
4) Phil Mickelson jogged home in the Phoenix Open, going wire-to-wire for the win. 28 of Mickelson's 41 PGA Tour wins have come Masters week or earlier in the year; 19 of 41 came in California or Arizona.
3) How bitter are the people in Cleveland to see the Ravens win another championship, while their new Browns are still spinning their wheels, and in same 12 months that Lebron James won his first NBA title? Yikes.
2) In a perfect world, where I make all the important decisions and any of the unimportant ones I feel like, Jacoby Jones would be Super Bowl MVP. Guy ran kick back 108 yards for a TD, caught a 56-yard TD pass.
Lot of lazy media people, just voting for the quarterback.
1) Its never too early to think about next season; early odds to win Super Bowl in Swamp Stadium next February: Patriots 7-1, 49ers 8-1, Broncos 8-1, Packers 10-1, Texans 14-1, Ravens 14-1.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Michigan-Indiana seemed like a Final Four game; very high level; I'll tell you what I told my dad-- Michigan is a better team than the Hoosiers.
12) Duke had lost four of its last five games with Florida State, but they crushed the Seminoles, shooting 61% from floor, leading 42-22 at the half in a 79-60 beatdown. By far, best Duke has played in four (2-2) road games.
11) Syracuse lost 65-55 at Pitt; Jamie Dixon is now 10-3 vs Syracuse as the HC at Pitt. According to espn.com, Orange are 2-3 in games that start at noon or earlier this season and 16-0 in games that start at 1pm or later.
10) Air Force improved to 14-6, 5-2 in MWC with a 70-67 upset of San Diego State. Falcons were not expected to be close to this good.
9) Oklahoma State won 85-80 at Kansas, its first win in Lawrence since 1989. Loss ended Jayhawks' 33-game home winning streak.
8) Boise State is pretty good when it has all its guys, they just haven't had them much since conference play started. They did Saturday and beat UNLV 77-72 at home. 3-point shooter Eliorraga is a key player for Boise; he had missed the previous three games with a concussion.
7) I have no idea what criteria they use to judge who gets in pro football's Hall of Fame, as far as linemen and defensive players go- there aren't that many measurables to judge. But with QB/RB/WR and coaches, there are lots of numbers-- its about time they put Bill Parcells in. The man deserves it.
6) There is a new show coming on AMC about competitive taxidermy; it is called Immortalized, and I had no idea there was such a thing.
5) Sacramento Kings lost by 39 to the Knicks; they trailed 110-60 at one point. Is Seattle really sure they want this team? (I'm guessing they are).
4) Akron beat Ohio 67-56 in battle of MAC unbeatens; Zips shot 56%, were +18 on boards. Its likely these two will meet in MAC title game.
3) Tough weekend for the Iona Gaels, who lost pair of 3-point decisions on their annual trip to western New York. Iona is still probably the team to beat in the MAAC tournament, but they're two games behind Niagara in the standings. Iona/Canisius/Loyola are all tied for second in the MAAC, after Loyola won at Niagara Saturday in double overtime.
2) Kentucky won 72-68 in OT at Texas A&M, narrowly avenging a home loss to the Aggies. Wildcats were -9 in turnovers, but made 7-15 from arc and 23-34 from charity stripe. Nerlens Noel had 19 points, 14 rebounds; he has become their most important player.
1) Florida beat Ole Miss by 14, closest SEC game Gators (8-0) have had this season. Florida still has two games left with Kentucky and a road trip to Missouri, but they're looking like a #1 seed in March Madness.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
How do you not vote for Bill Parcells for Pro Football Hall of Fame? I can’t think of one reason why you wouldn’t, other than you don’t like the guy, and that’s not an acceptable reason.
12) Next three ACC basketball tournaments will be in Greensboro, where they should be, but with Syracuse/Pitt joining the league, there are rumors the ACC might want to hold its tournament in NYC down the road.
Meanwhile, the Big East will probably hold its tourney in Memphis, Tulsa or some other major eastern city. What do you mean, Memphis and Tulsa aren't in the east? How could those schools be in the Big East then?
11) Miami Heat lost in Indiana last night, Pacers' 13th straight home win.
10) Watching the Lakers dispatch Minnesota last night, phrase "addition by subtraction" came to mind-- is LA better off without Dwight Howard?
9) Kobe Bryant missed 19 of his last 20 3-point shots; he’s playing well, distributing the ball, doing what the coach asks, but for whatever reason, his outside shooting has tailed off.
8) Travis Hafner is a DH, almost never plays the field, yet in last five years, he’s never played in more than 118 games. He’s actually a good argument for doing away with the DH.
7) Random stat of day: Big East home teams are 3-20 vs spread in games where number is 6 or less points.
6) Will the college football playoff system wind up pushing the traditional non-conference rivalry games back into September? Could revitalize what has become a dull month for the sport.
5) UMass spent $7.1M on its football program LY, playing games 100 miles away from campus in Foxboro, while its campus stadium gets redone.
They drew 2,106 less fans per game in Foxboro, which begs the question: does anyone in central Massachusetts really care if the Minutemen go D-I in football? Would their athletic department’s money be better spent elsewhere?
4) NC State will likely be without PG Lorenzo Brown for its big game Saturday with ACC frontrunner Miami.
3) All NBA games Friday night were over before midnight; whats up with that? First night without the free NHL package, too.
2) These commercials on latenight TV for Tryagelessmale.com, I'm thinking they're somehow related to the ARod situation. Am I wrong about this? I'm picturing some obscure lab somewhere with scientists testing drugs to help athletes stay strong and people stay younger-looking.
1) If you like sports, you should listen to sportsxradio.com; there’s a link there for the live show weeknights from 10-12 in the East, and the old shows are archived if you miss one live. Ken Thomson is an excellent host; I guarantee you’ll learn some stuff you didn’t know if you listen every night.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here.......
13) Phil Mickelson shot 11-under par 60 in Phoenix Thursday, lipping out a 25-foot birdie putt on 18. Must be fun to be that good.
12) Bo Van Pelt shot a 59 at the Pro Am in Phoenix Wednesday; someone on Tour, can’t remember who, predicted a pro would go lower than 59 in tournament play this year. Looks like he might be right.
11) The more you read about the Lakers, the more you think everyone will be pretty happy when this season is over. Problem is, its only half-over.
10) Jimmy V Week on ESPN raised just under $1.6M to help the cause of cancer research. Good for them. Dick Vitale has really worked very hard for that cause. He deserves a lot of credit.
9) More than one NBA pundit I read Thursday said Memphis Grizzlies got the best of that 3-way trade, despite dumping Rudy Gay’s salary.
8) Kobe Bryant has highest salary in the NBA, $27.8M, which works out to $339,024.439 per regular season game.
7) Kansas State used week before Signing Day to announce that 73-year old coach Bill Snyder signed a 5-year, $14.75M contract; the five-year part of that is for recruiting purposes, so K-State coaches and point to a recruit and tell them that Snyder will be there for his full five years.
Given his age, Snyder probably won’t coach the whole five years—he will be a very tough act to follow at K-State. Just ask Ron Prince, who already tried (and failed) to replace the silver-haired legend.
6) Now the Big East wants Tulsa as its 12th team. Tulsa, as in Oklahoma, pretty much in the middle of the country. Basically whats happened is that UConn/Cincinnati/South Florida defected from Big East, joined Conference USA, only they’re still calling it the Big East. Bizarre.
5) Took a walk at lunch Thursday; there is a tunnel system that leads from my office building to underneath state capitol building. You come up an escalator, and there's this big painting of George Washington on a wall and you realize just how much history there is in this part of the country.
I mean, it doesn't get much bigger than freakin' George Washington.
4) Oklahoma Sooners played in NCAA tournament here 12-15 years ago; remember seeing 3-4 of their fans standing on a street corner in downtown Albany, staring up at the buildings. Thought they might be lost, so I asked if they needed directions or something.
"No, we're just looking at these beautiful old buildings. We don't have these kind of buildings back home." Alrighty then.
3) One thing about the tunnel system: everyone walks faster downtown, like they have very important things to do. I'm a slow walker, except when I see the McDonald's golden arches, then I pick up the pace a little.
2) I’m a Ram fan; take my word for it, no matter what Randy Moss says, Jerry Rice is greatest WR of all-time. Rice was freakin’ tremendous.
1) New Jersey has next year’s Super Bowl, now Denver wants one. Thats just awesome, maybe they can put Super Bowls in Regina and Calgary after that. The biggest game of the season should be played in ideal conditions, as much for the fans who pay a fortune to go to the game as well as the teams who work their butts off to play in it.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Mets won’t sign free agent CF Michael Bourn because they want to keep the #11 pick in this year’s amateur draft, which they would forfeit if they signed Bourn. That tells you how hard they’re trying to win this year and next. Not very.
12) If Alex Rodriguez never plays again because of his hip injury, he’ll still get paid the $114M he’s owed over the next five years, but the Bronx Bombers would get 85% ($96.9M) of it back from their insurance policy on the contract; lets hope that doesn’t happen, since it would free up roughly $19M a year for them to pilfer other team’s good players with.
11) Since 1995, attendance at Tennessee Vols' home football games is down 12,600 fans a game. They’ve paid or are paying off $18M to fired coaches, all of which helps explains why the athletic department is in serious trouble, roughly $200M in debt. Winning helps raise money; losing does not.
10) Looking through Baseball America Prospects’ Handbook, isn’t much to look at with Toronto/Washington’s systems; both teams are in win-now mode. Toronto's system is especially threadbare.
9) Virginia hired former NC State HC Tom O’Brien as assistant HC/offense, Cavaliers’ OC Bill Lazor quickly bolted UVa for a job with Chip Kelly’s first Eagle staff- think it’s a coincidence?
8) Speaking of Virginia, they signed on for a home/home series with Oregon, starting this fall. That’s two losses for Virginia, but likely a hefty check from Nike for the trip to Eugene, and a couple of games on national TV, which Virginia can use for needed exposure.
7) Fair question: wonder if Miami Heat players would’ve been as excited about visiting the White House Monday had Mitt Romney won the election last November? Somehow, I doubt it.
6) ESPNU has ten hours (10 hours!!!) of coverage on National Signing Day for college football next Wednesday; thats a very big deal in the south. Here in the north, not so much. Recruiting is a fascinating subject.
5) Albert Pujols makes $25M a year from Angels, who want Albert to skip the WBC in March. Pujols wants to play for his country, but since his employer has so much invested in his health, this could be a problem.
4) Last nine times NC State beat North Carolina in basketball, they lost their next ACC game; that’s a sign of immaturity. Their record after wins over Duke ain’t much better. Hard to tell exactly how good the Wolfpack is.
3) Colin Kaepernick is 4th QB to start a Super Bowl in same season of his first NFL start.
First three: Vince Ferragamo/lost, Kurt Warner/Tom Brady both won.
2) Its fashionable to bash football now; everyone knows it’s a violent game, you know that before you sign up to play. Not sure how the plaintiffs will prove that it was NFL football, and not college/high school ball that gave them their concussion(s).
1) Free agent pitcher Carl Pavano lacerated his spleen (ouch!!) this winter, won’t be signing with anyone for a while; Pavano is one of our heroes for getting $39.5M from Bronx for four years, then going 9-8, 5.00 in 26 starts total over those four years. $39M, 29 starts, that’s terrible value, but its still better than ARod’s contract.
Wednesday's List of 13: Some Super Bowl betting props........
In my opinion, LVH has the best sportsbook in Las Vegas; its pretty big, lot of wagering options and an excellent deli in the back with good cheese steaks and mini corn dogs (yes, mini corn dogs; they’re outstanding).
They put out a 35-page document with investment propositions for Sunday’s Super Bowl. I picked 13 of them out and put them here……..
13) You can get different odds by changing the pointspread; for instance, if you take Baltimore -3.5 instead of the other way around, you can risk $100 to win $240.
If you take Baltimore +3.5, it’s the standard risk $110 to win $100.
12) You can also bet the over/under at different totals; if you bet over 62.5, for example, you get it at +$400. If you bet under 62.5, you’re risking $500 to win $100.
11) Will there be a score in first 6:30 of the game? Either way, you risk $115 to win $100 and hope for a quick turnover or for Torrey Smith to go deep. That was more likely when Cam Cameron was running Raven offense.
10) You can wager on over/under of length of the game’s first punt: 48.5.
This is interesting, because if a team punts from inside the other team’s territory, under is hard to lose. It’s a dome, so likelihood of a long field goal attempt goes up, especially with Baltimore’s rookie kicker Tucker.
9) Over/under for game’s longest field goal: 44.5 yards.
8) Over/under for game’s longest touchdown, 45.5; if by chance there are no touchdowns, all money for this bet gets refunded.
7) Over/under for total touchdowns in the game is 5.5.
6) Will either team lead by more than 14 points?
Yes is -$120, no is even money.
5) Will there be a TD scored on defense/special teams?
Yes is +$165, no is -$185.
4) Over/under for Frank Gore’s rushing yardage is 81.5; over/under for Ray Rice’s rushing yardage is 63.5.
3) Over/under on Joe Flacco’s passing yards is 247.5.
2) Over/under on first downs for each team: 49ers 21, Balitmore, 19.5.
1) Maybe the key stat of this game: over/under on Colin Kaepernick’s rushing yards: 48.5. If he doesn’t get 50 yards rushing, not sure how the 49ers would win.
Tuesday's List of 13: Some college basketball knowledge......
13) WAC—Louisiana Tech is 18-3, 9-0 under rising coaching star Michael White (if Andy Kennedy were to move up from Ole Miss, Rebel alum White makes sense there); Denver’s Princeton offense is tough to prep for, New Mexico State has best inside game (rebounding 38.7% of its misses in WAC games), Utah State has major injury issues.
12) Horizon—Valparaiso has two-game lead, due to win at Detroit, when they won after trailing 50-32 at half. Detroit has best player (McCallum), Green Bay blocks 17.7% of opponents’ shots, Wright State forces turnovers 23.5% of time.
11) C-USA—Southern Miss/Memphis are both unbeaten in league play; USM is a juggernaut, making 43.9% of 3’s, forcing turnovers 28.1% of time in league games. Memphis is making 57% of shots inside arc. Central Florida’s (14-5, 4-1) Keith Clanton might be best player in league.
10) WCC—Gonzaga is 6-0, leads league in eFG% on both sides of ball; they played seven non-league games vs top 100 teams, plus Davidson/West Virginia (usually top 100 teams), so they’re battle-tested enough to survive challenges from lesser league rivals. As usual, St Mary’s (57.3% on 2-point shots), BYU (turning ball over least while playing fastest tempo) are prime contenders.
9) MVC—Creighton is offensive machine (60.7 eFG% leads country) but Bluejays trail defensively-stout Wichita State by a game. Shockers are rebounding 39.9% of own misses in MVC play. Right now, looks like these will be only two teams in NCAAs, unless there’s an upset in conference tournament at Arch Madness in St Louis.
8) A-16—New kids Butler/VCU are leading league first time around; it is stupid to have 16 teams in a league, but this is only year for that (Charlotte/ Temple leave after this year). LaSalle had huge week last week, but lack of inside game hurts them on road. Saint Louis is inspired playing for its deceased coach; GW is team of future in this conference.
7) SEC—Ole Miss is 17-2, 6-0, turning ball over less, getting to foul line more than any team in league; is Kentucky's visit tonight biggest home game in Rebel history? Florida’s eFG% is 39.2%- some think they’re best team in country. Rest of league is rebuilding, including Kentucky (forcing turnovers only 15.3% of time in SEC).
6) Big X— West Virginia/Texas are combined 3-10 in league, so other than Kansas (get steal or blocked shot 28.7% of time), Baylor (38.4% behind arc behind premiere guard Jackson), no one here is guaranteed an at-large bid. Texas gets PG Kabongo back in two weeks; will it be too late?
5) Pac-12—Oregon is surprising 7-0 in league, but now PG Artis is hurt; freshman PG Carson has Arizona State at 16-4, 5-2, big improvement from LY’s 10-21, when he was ineligible. Arizona (17-2, 5-2) is near top, as always, but lack of a true PG will doom them in March; Ben Howland has improved UCLA (16-5, 6-2) playing fastest-paced games in league.
4) ACC—Miami beat Duke by 27, Florida State by 24 last week; if their uniforms were blue and said “DUKE” on front, they’d be a top 5 team. Hurricanes’ eFG% is 38.6, #1 in ACC.
3) MWC—Yes, this is #3 league in America right now; four teams look to be in, barring a collapse. No one in this league is a pushover, not even Air Force, which lost by only 3 to Wichita State. UNLV would be lot more dangerous if they had a legit PG. San Diego State trailed 20-9 at half in Wyoming, then held New Mexico to 34 points for whole game Saturday.
2) Big East—Everyone’s going their separate ways after this year; will be very weird seeing Syracuse play in ACC. Orange (18-2, 6-1) seem to be best team this year, with Louisville losing three of its last four games. Marquette (14-4, 5-1) always seems to over-achieve.
1) Big Dozen—Think very highly of both Michigan teams; not that sold on Indiana club that didn’t play true road game until New Year’s Eve.
Liked Minnesota a lot, but now they’ve lost four games in row, all by 8 or less points. Wisconsin’s odd system is one you’ll want to avoid on first weekend of tournament. Ohio State is 2-3 vs top 50 teams, and they almost lost at home to Michigan after leading 29-8. Wolverines are real good, but a Final Four team salts games like that away.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday.........
13) Most under-reported story in sports; guy named Erik Compton is T5 thru seven holes in last round of the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines. Mr Compton has had two heart transplants; not bypasses, transplants.
In other words, the guy is on his third heart and is a pro athlete. Amazing.
12) CBS had an interesting thing Sunday about how golf course workers make new holes for each round, then replace the holes from the previous day. Never saw that before; guess the guy making the holes was a real-life Carl Spackler from Caddyshack.
11) Lakers/Clippers both had home games Sunday; I'm wondering how many people were at both games. Would be interesting to know.
10) Clipper announcers were saying Sunday night that Blake Griffin has it in back of his mind that he could play tight end in the NFL, but no one in the NFL could step in and be an NBA player. Interesting debate.
9) Very bad news for the Celtics, with Rajan Rondo tearing his ACL; you look at the playoff picture in NBA East, and you see teams #1-7 are fairly well ahead of everyone else. Boston is in 8th place, and now is vulnerable to being passed by anyone who can get close to .500.
Curious to see how Danny Ainge approaches this; does he go the veteran route to try and patchwork his way into the playoffs, or does he turn to a youth movement, which is harder in the NBA than in most sports.
8) Memphis PG Mike Conley also got hurt Sunday and Grizzlies fizzled in 4th quarter without him, losing 91-83 to the Hornets- they were outscored 27-15 with game on the line in fourth quarter.
7) There is a TV show on TLC called Plastic Wives, about four women in Beverly Hills, who are all married to plastic surgeons. Terrific. It is my duty to watch this show and report back to you, so I will. Soon.
6) You look at seven non-football Big East schools who are branching off to form their own league and after Georgetown/Marquette/Villanova, and Villanova is a maybe, those teams aren't very good, though they are mostly located in big cities, which could promise big TV ratings.
Providence/DePaul/Seton Hall/St John's; no title contenders there, which is why VCU/Butler/Saint Louis could be appealing to the new league.
5) SMU went 33-34 last two years, with PG Jeremiah Samarrippas in his first two years as a college player; when Larry Brown took over the SMU program, he sent Jeremiah packing, saying he wasn't good enough to play for the Mustangs, not while Brown was coach.
Young Samarrippas is now at Tennessee Tech, and Brown's first SMU club is 11-10, 1-5 in Conference USA, while turning ball over 23.6% of time, #313 in country in that important category. Maybe they should've kept the kid around-- its mid-major college ball, not the NBA.
4) Random stats: Road team is 9-0 vs spread in Idaho's WAC games, dogs are 8-1; underdogs covered all six of South Carolina's SEC games.
3) How badly does Texas need PG Myck Kabongo (due back Feb 13)? They lead the whole country in eFG%, and they're 1-5 in the Big X; teams that play great FG% defense generally win a lot of games, but Texas is #299 in eFG% offense, so their games have basically been rebounding contests.
2) Miami looked great in whipping Duke during the week, but I was lot more impressed by them following that up with 71-47 rout of Florida State; its one thing to beat a rival you seldom beat, but to pound another rival in the next game too, well thats a signal that Miami is the real deal.
1) CBS' coverage of Sunday's Super Bowl starts at 11am. Game is at 6:30; they can really get companies to buy commercial time for stuff seven hours before kickoff? Good for them.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.........
13) Guy who won $75,000 at the Miami Heat game Friday night by making a halfcourt shot has to shell out $22,000 of it to taxes. What a country.
12) Maybe that guy should go play for Northern Illinois, who lost 42-25 at Eastern Michigan, making 1-33 behind the arc. Huskies were 1-31 from the floor in the first half, trailing 18-4. Four points in a half? Really?
11) Huge week in Philadelphia, as Villanova beat Louisville/Syracuse, and LaSalle beat Butler/VCU. Curious to see how Villanova backs up its home wins; LaSalle's win over VCU was in Richmond, so its more impressive.
10) Oakland's Travis Bader followed up his 47-point outburst Thursday, with a 26-point effort Saturday, as Grizzlies beat Western Illinois 67-60.
9) South Dakota State avenged an earlier loss to North Dakota State, beating Bison 69-53, holding them to 16 second half points. These are two best teams in Summit League; one of them will likely be in March Madness.
8) Arizona State whacked UCLA 78-60 in Tempe, creating a three-way tie for second in Pac-12 loss column; if Herb Sendek leaves ASU after this season, it'll be because he's going to a better job. The man can coach.
7) NC State ended a 13-game losing streak to North Carolina, holding off the Tar Heels 91-83, in a game they led by 28 at one point. Problem for the Wolfpack now is to go to Virginia and win as a road favorite- they've lost at Maryland and Wake Forest already, two inferior teams.
6) Mountain West is now 3rd-ranked league in country by kenpom.com, the website I used for statisitical analysis. Big Dozen/Big East are #1/#2.
5) Louisiana Tech blew a 35-22 halftime lead, but Raheem Appleby hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:26 left to give Tech a 51-48 win at shorthanded Utah State, keeping the Bulldogs unbeaten in WAC play. Appleby's hoop were Tech's only points in last 6:42 of play.
4) Akron won its 11th straight game 68-64 over Buffalo, despite trailing 30-10 in the first half; Zips are unbeaten in MAC play.
3) Montana nipped Weber State 76-74 in a battle of Big Sky titans; not the best weekend for the Wildcats, who lost at Montana State Thursday.
2) Sounds like Tennessee Titans are getting ready to hire Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator, providing the NFL reinstates him; considering the Rams refused to re-hire him, that Ram-Titan game almost has to be on TV in primetime next year, right?
1) You know when a team has runners on 1st and 3rd, and pitcher fakes a throw to 3rd, then throws to 1st? Can't do it anymore, its a balk, which begs the quesrion, what took them so long?
Saturday's List of 13: Thinking warm thoughts on a cold day....
13) Terry Francona’s book came out this week; one thing for damn sure: if I owned the Red Sox, not only would he still be managing the team, there’s be a freakin’ statue of him by the entrance to the stadium.
Red Sox fans whined and cried for years about not winning the World Series; Francona wins two titles for them, and it seems like they couldn’t wait to show him the door. Whole thing was just very odd. I’ll miss him on ESPN, he just seems like a regular guy.
12) Pat Riley wrote a book where he talked about stages of team building, as an organization grows from the ground floor up. Sounds like the Red Sox went through what Riley calls “The Disease of Me” where everyone wants to take credit for the team’s success. A truly successful team doesn’t care who gets the credit, just that the team wins. Quite often, human nature flows against that, which is why teams have trouble maintaining their success.
11) Not that I’m paranoid or anything, but The Sporting News put out their 2013 baseball preview magazine this week, with 16 different regional covers, so people can buy the one with their favorite team on it.
One small problem; none of the 16 have the Oakland A’s on their cover. You remember the A’s; won AL West last year, best story of last September and of last several Septembers. Media nitwits have no respect. None. Zero.
10) Oakland University in Michigan won their basketball game Thursday; Travis Bader scored 47 points for the Grizzlies, whose next game is against Western Illinois, the team that won its game Thursday 43-40 in Fort Wayne. Interesting to see how many points Mr Bader scores tonight.
9) Cool video on ESPNU of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel throwing a football from upper deck at Kyle Field at Texas A&M into a portable basketball hoop set up on football field. Its on YouTube somewhere and its worth looking up if you like trick shots.
8) Former Chargers special teams coach Rick Bisaccia signed on at Auburn in same capacity earlier this month, but he didn’t last long there; he’s now the special teams coach for the Cowboys. Must be a good coach to be in such demand.
7) Delonte West signed on with the Texas Legends of the D-League; hard to believe he’ll be there very long. Once he gets in shape, there are several NBA teams he can help out.
6) Golden State’s Stephen Curry is only player in NBA averaging 20+ ppg who didn’t make it to the All-Star game.
5) Stanley Cup champ LA Kings are off to a rough 0-3 start, scoring only four goals; they were the #8 seed in the West LY, will be interesting to see if they can right things fairly soon.
4) One more Oakland A’s note; they lost catcher George Kottaras on waivers to Royals Friday; acquisition of John Jaso made Kottaras expendable—he helped the A’s last fall with some timely hits.
3) February 6 is the next big day in college football; ESPNU is going to have ten hours of coverage of National Signing Day, when decisions are made that will affect games played as far away as 2017. Recruiting is a fascinating subject. If you like college football, you should read Bruce Feldman’s book Meat Market, about Ole Miss recruiting in the Ed Orgeron era.
2) Do you ever watch the Winter X Games on ESPN and wonder where are the guys who suck at those events? I mean, the gold medal guys flips his snowmobile; do the losers have the skidoo land on their heads? There have to be some serious injuries, right?
1) Hard to believe its been 25 years since Pitt’s Jerome Lane broke a backboard dunking during a game on ESPN, when Bill Raftery yelled, “SEND IT IN JEROME!!!” into his mike, sealing the event as an all-time classic. Guy who threw Lane the ball was current Arizona coach Sean Miller. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.
Friday's List of 13: Thinking out loud with weekend here........
13) VCU led by 7 at Richmond with 0:40 left, but blew the lead and lost to the crosstown rival Spiders 86-74 in OT. VCU outscored Richmond 27-17 on foul line, but Spiders made 12-27 behind the arc.
12) Western Illinois led 43-31 with 8:31 left at IUP-Fort Wayne, didn't score another point, but hung on for an ugly 43-40 win; Panthers' last hoop of the game came with 12:35 left. Very strange game to watch.
11) UCLA held Arizona to 5-24 from arc in a surprisingly easy 84-73 win in Tucson, its first win at Arizona in five years. Bruin PG Larry Drew II had nine assists and controlled the game in his 35 minutes on the floor.
10) Weber State got caught looking ahead to this weekend's showdown with Montana; Wildcats got upset 79-74 at Montana State, for their first Big Sky loss this season. Montana beat Idaho State; they have a one-game lead in the Big Sky standings.
9) D’backs-Braves pull off a 7-player trade, sending Justin Upton to Chief Nokohoma’s tent, with Martin Prado heading to the desert. 23-year old pitching prospect Randall Delgado could help bolster Arizona’s starting pitching depth. Also means the Upton brothers are on the same team now.
8) Wonder how group sales people for Miami Marlins are faring this winter? If I had their job, think I’d try and sell fans on coming to ballpark early to see Giancarlo Stanton take BP- with their new/not improved lineup, he might walk 120 times during games this year, so BP will be fans’ best chance to see Stanton pound the ball.
7) Cincinnati Reds’ minor league base stealing phenom Billy Hamilton will start season playing CF at AAA; he stole 100+ bases in A ball LY, and is expected to rise quickly through the Cincinnati chain.
6) Bronx Bombers signed A’s castoff/minor league hitting star Dan Johnson to a minor league contract, but he’ll make their team. Johnson could put up big numbers as a lefty DH in the hideously cheap Bronx ballpark, where anything in the air to rightfield is liable to end up a home run.
5) Its January 24, I see this on CBSSports.com’s fantasy website:
“Holliday not worried about back”.
Just that sentence makes my stomach churn, because if they’re mentioning Matt Holliday’s back in January, he’s got issues. We’re entering Year #9 of our 16-team, 25-man roster fantasy league; Holliday is the only guy who has been on my team since Day 1. Need him healthy.
4) New Mexico State’s head football coach, DeWayne Walker, resigned to become DBs coach for Jacksonville Jaguars; that’s a kick in the teeth to a program that is one of odd schools out in all this conference realignment stuff.
You leave a college head coaching job, you at least have to become an NFL coordinator. Becoming a DB coach is jumping off a sinking ship.
3) Guy that runs NCAA, Mark Emmert, makes $1.6M a year; if a college athlete gets a couple free meals from a booster, he gets declared ineligible for receiving special benefits and is vilified on ESPN like he’s a felon. Seems fair.
2) 77-year old Gary Player is considered one of the best golfers ever; he won nine majors, and $1.8M total in his great career. Brian Gay won $1M last week, has won $17M in his career, with four career wins, none in majors- I couldn’t pick the guy out of a lineup. Timing is everything in life.
1) It is so cold here this week it is sickening, numbing, hideous weather, but just think; this time next year, the Super Bowl is being played outdoors, only 150 miles south of here, in New Jersey. Good luck with that!!!
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a damn cold day......
13) Lakers lost 106-93 at Memphis, are now 17-25, 5-15 on road, four full games out of the Western Conference playoffs; they had a team meeting that obviously didn't help. What a mess. A $70M mess.
12) Pistons led by 11 after three quarters in Chicago, lost 85-82, their 17th straight loss to the Bulls. Not good, considering Derrick Rose is out, so Chicago figures to get much stronger when Rose returns.
11) Charlotte Bobcats lost their 16th straight home game; last time an NBA team lost 16 straight home games, it was 1949.
10) Isiah Thomas led Florida International to records of 7-25/11-19/8-21 for a total of 26-65, not very good. It was assumed he could out-recruit most of the Sun Belt teams, but that never happened.
In his first year replacing Thomas at FIU, Richard Pitino has the Panthers at 10-8, 5-4 in Sun Belt; playing and coaching are separate jobs- just because you were a great player doesn’t mean you can coach.
9) Former NBA guard Lindsey Hunter has no coaching background at all; he was still an NBA player three years ago, but the Phoenix Suns named him interim coach, replacing the fired Alvin Gentry, who was fired mainly because guy that put this Suns team together (not Gentry) did a terrible job.
8) If Sacramento Kings do move to Seattle and they build a new area in King County, the NHL is expected to follow suit and put a team in Seattle for the first time. Just not sure which team.
7) Winnipeg Jets moved to Manitoba from Atlanta last season; they still played an Eastern Conference schedule, but were supposed to switch to the Western Conference schedule for this year, but I notice they haven’t, because of the lockout-compressed schedule. Going to be even more of a headache for the Jets making long trips to the southeast with compressed schedule.
6) Travel Channel has a show named Meatball Paradise, which does not sound nearly as promising as Street Eats, which examines street vendors in different cities. Not sure how much you can do with a show about meatballs, although others might claim that it'll be, um.....saucy.
5) Arizona Diamondbacks gave Cliff Pennington $5M for two years; he has a .249 career batting average, .313 career on-base percentage, but he is a pretty good fielder. A's got better when he moved to 2B late last year.
4) Good grief, Papa John's Pizza spends lot of money advertising; there is so much competition in pizza- I can think of seven pizza places within three miles of my house, and thats just off the top of my bald head, and doesn't count bars that also might sell pizza.
3) New Orleans Hornets will unveil their new Pelican logo/team colors on Thursday; wonder if Charlotte team will go back to being Hornets, now that that nickname is available again?
2) It is one degree outside as I type this, one freakin' degree. Keep thinking that in March 2015, when I'm done with the day job, I'm spending a week at spring training with the A's in Arizona. I hear its warm in Arizona.
1) Why do people smoke? I mean, temperatures were in single digits here all day today and you see people bundled up, freezing their butts off, outside smoking. Why? Its unhealthy. What am I missing? Just don’t get it.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.............
13) Anyone who thinks former Oakland Raider coach Bill Callahan sabotaged his own team in the Super Bowl is a freakin' moron, I don't care if its Tim Brown, Jerry Rice or the ghost of Al Davis. Why would a guy trash his own career because he doesn't like his boss?
Oakland's problem in that Super Bowl was that they were going up against the guy (Jon Gruden) who had coached them the previous few years. He knew the Raiders better than anyone else.
12) I read Tuesday that the inauguration festivities cost total of $171M; good thing our country isn’t in a financial crisis, or this could be a problem. Why even have a ceremony for a second term President?
Just go on with your business, and save everyone a bunch of money. Does spending $171M make any sense at all?
11) Ray Lewis’ first career sack, in '96? A Chicago QB named Harbaugh. The first 46 Super Bowls were won by 28 different coaches; we know the 29th winner will be a Harbaugh, just don’t know which one.
10) Baseball’s 2015 All-Star Game will be in Cincinnati; its in Citi Field this year, where the hideous Wilpons get to play host- next year’s game is in the new ballpark in Minnesota. Home Run Derby will be awesome in the small Cincinnati ballpark.
9) Good Lord, the Joe Theismann/prostate medicine commercial is on every ten minutes late at night. I know I watch too much TV, but the damn thing makes me want more Peyton Manning commercials.
If you’re going to run a commercial spot 1,000 times a day, why not make up more than one spot and vary them a little?
8) Greedy bastard update: "I have a dream that gas prices won’t be such a ripoff anymore.” Somehow I doubt it was to honor Dr King, but gas prices went down six cents a gallon over the holiday weekend.
Still a long way to go, at $3.69 a gallon in beautiful downtown Colonie.
7) Phil Mickelson is whining because he is now in the 62% tax bracket, so he may have to move out of California; guy makes an estimated $40M a year, not sure how he and the family scrape by. If you have to move then move, just don’t complain. There are homeless people in the northeast living in cars in the frozen winter trying to survive.
Mickelson’s biggest problem is whether his new pitching wedge has the right loft to it, or whether his private plane has enough fuel in it. Please be quiet.
6) Ryan Howard looks slim and trim in those Subway commercials, good news for those nervous people who have him on their fantasy team (I might be one of those). Need more contact from the big fella this year.
5) Will the Patriots shell out $11.4M for Wes Welker next year? I kind of doubt it, which may set Mrs Welker off yet again; she already said how she hates Ray Lewis- this summer, she might go after the Patriot organization when they let her husband walk.
4) Nice politics by NFL, reinstating Saints coach Sean Payton right before public enemy #1, Roger Goodell, heads to Bourbon Street. Still think Mr Goodell isn’t going to have much fun in New Orleans the next 12 days.
3) Super Bowl QBs played in college at Nevada and Delaware (via Pitt); Flacco transferred from Pitt because he didn’t beat Tyler Palko out for the starting job. Nice decision there. Life is funny sometimes.
2) We ran a quote from Stan Van Gundy yesterday saying he thought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest center ever, which I agree with; my friend John e-mailed today with an excellent rebuttal as to why Bill Russell should be considered the greatest ever.
His team, whether it be the Celtics or in college at USF, won the national championship 13 times in a 15-year stretch. Pretty amazing, and hard to argue with.
1) Have to share this story; night before Thanksgiving, I think in 1976, so I was 16, Seattle Sonics are playing in Boston. I’m there with my dad and a buddy. My favorite ballplayer then was Seattle’s 7-4 center Tom Burleson, who played college ball at NC State with the great David Thompson.
At halftime, I walk behind the Seattle bench, tap Burleson on the shoulder and ask him for his autograph. As he politely refused, Russell, then Sonics’ coach, looked at me with a stare that if looks could’ve killed, I would’ve been dead right there and then. Serious death stare.
I got out of that area pretty fast; might’ve been the fastest I ever moved.
Back then by the way, in pre-Larry Bird days, we could go to the mall here in Albany and buy great tickets for Celtic games that were played three hours away. We sat in the second row under the basket that night. Good stuff.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) I love shootouts in the NHL; they're orchestrated drama, but they're fun to watch and they create a unique kind of strategy.
12) Florida Panthers played 25 overtime LY; seems like a lot, out of 82; Vancouver played 24. Thats why the 4-on-4 OT format and the shootout have become necessities. 25 ties in a season would be boring.
11) As much as I like the NHL, and they have knocked the price of their TV package down to $60 for this shortened season, I turn on the Islander game Monday and there's a brawl one second into the game.
I can watch the WWE for free; if you want me to pay to watch your product, do not give me goons, give me hockey. Its a great sport, if you allow it to be.
10) Lakers are 17-24, 5-14 on the road and are in serious trouble as far as making the playoffs go, since 41 games is season's halfway point.
9) Washington's Jordan Crawford drained a trey from left wing as Wizards won 98-95 in Portland for fifth win in last seven games after a 4-28 start. Funny how John Wall playing has made his teammates play better, too.
8) Nets-Knicks has become an excellent rivalry because they're both good teams; too bad they don't play again in regular season. Weird scheduling.
7) Maloof family sold their 65% of Sacramento Kings to a group that will move the team to Seattle; NBA stole the Sonics from Seattle and moved them to Oklahoma five years ago- now the Sonics will be back, only team is going to suck at first, because well, they've still got the Kings' players.
6) Ohio State gave hoop coach Thad Matta a raise to $3.2M a year; he has a 234-69 record in Columbus, 101-42 in conference play. Very consistent.
5) Tough loss for Towson State against Georgia State Monday; Tigers are now 10-10, after being 1-31 LY. Good coaching job by Pat Skerry- Towson is 5-2 in a weakened CAA, major progress.
4) Baylor beat Oklahoma State Monday, its third win in row vs OSU, first time Bears have ever beaten Oklahoma State three times in a row. After losing 48 of their first 54 games vs OSU, Baylor won 10 of last 13 series games.
3) 49ers can't be real happy with kicker David Akers, who has missed 13 FGs this season, but if they cut him now, they couldn't bring Billy Cundiff back, it would have to be someone else, so they're going with Akers. Super Bowl is in a dome, but so was last week's game.
2) NHL lockout had to be hardest on coaches, since they have to deal with players in various degrees of conditioning; games are more important with a 48-game schedule, so winning/losing becomes more important than normal.
Losing teams are going to fire the coach, which in this unique season, doesn't seem fair. Smart teams might give their coach a mulligan this season.
1) Missouri Tigers have themselves a problem; sounds like the NCAA is going to come down hard on basketball coach Frank Haith for what happened at Miami, so Mizzou may have to cut Haith loose to avoid sanctions should a show-cause order be slapped on Haith. Doesn't seem fair to the players at Missouri, but then again, no one ever said life is fair.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a quiet Sunday.......
13) You can bet the Super Bowl in Las Vegas all season; they had a line of AFC -3 for most of this season, but now that Broncos/Patriots are gone, the 49ers have been listed as -5, with a total of 49.5 in the Super Bowl.
12) Odd stat lives on: 49ers were the 8th #4 seed since 1990 to advance to a conference title game. #4 seeds are the team with worst record of the four divisional winners, so they probably have to upset the #1 seed to get to a conference title game. Since '90, #4 seeds are 7-1 SU in conference title games, and of those eight, only the '08 Cardinals were playing at home.
11) Tom Brady will be 36 in August; Bill Belichick is 60. Aren't going to be that many more chances for that combo to win a Super Bowl. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Patriots have won zero Super Bowls since SpyGate- they won three Super Bowls (all by three points) before SpyGate.
10) Scott Stallings had a 5-shot lead after three rounds at the Humana Challenge golf tournament in California, but it was gone before he finished his ninth hole Sunday. Stallings hit a ball in the water on 18 and finished T4th. Brian Gay wound up a winning a three-man playoff.
Never heard of Brian Gay? That was his 4th career Tour win and he's now won just under $17M in his career. Thats million, with an M.
9) Chip Kelly gets $32.5M for five years from Eagles, making him a top-10 paid coach in the NFL; seven years ago, he was OC at New Hampshire, and that was the best job he had ever had. Wow.
8) Excellent NBA game in Denver, where the Nuggets beat the Thunder in overtime, 121-118. Fun game to watch.
In his last two games, Kevin Durant is 41-42 from the foul line, and both of those games were on the road.
7) Neither NFL home team scored in the second half Sunday. This is first time since '97 both home teams lost conference title tilts.
6) Has a team ever fired its offensive coordinator in December and then gotten to the Super Bowl? LA Rams fired their head coach in training camp in '79, then got to Super Bowl but firing a coordinator in December just does not happen a lot with winning teams.
5) Spencer Hardison points out that Jim Harbaugh once played Screech's cousin in one episode of Saved By The Bell, a TV show I've never seen, but I think the guy from that is on TNT's Franklin & Bash now.
4) Super Bowl is February 3; obviously by then, we'll be sick of everything that has anything to do with the Harbaughs, but ESPN's Saturday night game on February 2nd is Michigan at Indiana. Hoosiers are coached by Tom Crean, who is married to Jim/John Harbaugh's sister.
3) Falcons blew a 20-0 lead at home last week, needed a miracle comeback to win; they blew a 17-0 lead Sunday, also at home. Going to be a long winter in Atlanta, as they try to figure out how to get better.
Also hurts Arthur Blank's attempt to get the Falcons a new stadium.
2) Think about how dead the Ravens were in Denver last week; they tied the game with a 70-yard TD pass with 0:31 left. Broncos have to be sick to see Baltimore advancing to the Super Bowl.
1) Ravens' owner is a guy named Steve Bisciotti who was wearing jeans and a ballcap at the game last night; love it!!! Don't like it when the owners are decked out in suits/ties- its a ballgame, relax. He owns Allegis Group, the largest privately held staffing firm in the United States and 6th in the world.
Bisciotti went to Salisbury State, which is hour down the road from Ocean City, MD; good to see a state university alum hitting it rich-- he is listed as #298 in the Forbes top 400 of rich people.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Excellent move by ESPN putting Gonzaga-Butler as a Saturday night featured game in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse; game didn't disappoint, either.
12) Kid on ESPN's College Gameday at Butler won tuition for a semester by draining a halfcourt shot; think State Farm pays the $18,000 tab.
11) St Bonaventure had been 0-30 lifetime at Temple, but Bonnies ended all that with an 81-78 win in Philly- they made 11-18 behind the arc.
10) Very quietly, Oregon is 16-2, 5-0 in Pac-12 after beating UCLA and sweeping the LA schools. Dana Altman wasn't Phil Knight's first choice to be Oregon's coach, but he may have been the best choice.
9) Cincinnati led Marquette 29-13 at half, but needed OT to hold off the gritty Golden Eagles, 71-69. Sean Kilpatrick had 36 points for Cincinnati, in one of several TV games where neither team wore white uniforms. Whats the point of that? Marketing? Looks like an AAU tournament.
Wichita wore black at home, and Creighton wore white in that game; maybe its a marketing thing. Home team almost always wears white uniforms.
8) Syracuse won at Louisville, in what would've been the game of the day except for the Gonzaga-Butler thriller. Brandon Triche made 5-7 behind the arc, scored 23 points to fuel the upset.
7) Belmont stayed unbeaten in the OVC, but North Dakota State lost at Western Illinois, creating a tie atop the Summit League, in some of better mid-major action Saturday.
6) Texas Longhorns hadn't been 0-3 in Big X play since '98; now they're 0-4 after losing 64-59 at home to Kansas, a game Texas led by 11 with 14:50 left to play. Longhorns get PG Myck Kabongo eligible February 12, but in meantime, they need some quality wins, or else Kabongo will wind up as MVP of the NIT in March.
5) A record 73 football players left college early to apply for the '13 NFL Draft; not all of these people are going to be drafted. You just hope they got sound advice. Greedy hangers-on can screw up a kid's career.
4) Understatement of the Day: "We live in an impatient society." Charles Barkley, during his appearance on ESPNU during Kentucky-Auburn game. He also called sports agents "scumbags" on air. Outstanding.
3) Halftime score in Laramie: Wyoming 20, San Diego State 9, and Aztecs were a top 25 team when the week began. Game ended 58-45; MWC is one tough league. Fresno State might be worst team, and they ain't terrible.
2) There were three terrific games on TV at 4:00; Syracuse-Louisville, Oregon-UCLA and Creighton-Wichita State; hard to keep track of end of all three games, but was fun trying.
1) In his great major league career, Stan Musial had 3,630 hits; 1,815 on the road, 1.815 at home. Tremendously consistent player.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts with weekend here......
13) Chip Kelly is first NFL head coach with no NFL experience at all since Mike Riley coached the Chargers, but Riley had been a HC in both the WLAF and CFL, and played college ball at Alabama.
Ironic that Riley is now the coach at Oregon State.
Up until being hired by Oregon six years ago, Kelly's entire football career had been spent at New Hampshire, Columbia and Johns Hopkins, and he wasn't a head coach at any of those places. Now he's an NFL head coach.
12) Eldrick Woods, Rory McIlroy both missed the cut over in Abu Dhabi; Woods because of a rules snafu which cost him two strokes.
11) Took one round for McIlroy to ditch his Nike putter in favor of his old Scotty Cameron Titleist flatstick; he is off for three weeks now, curious to see what he putts with when we next see him.
10) Jacoby Ellsbury makes more money than Buster Posey? Posey got $8M for one year, Ellsbury $9M, as both guys avoided arbitration; Ellsbury gets a $1M raise despite playing in only 74 games LY-- what would he have gotten if he had a good season?
9) Middle Tennessee/Florida Atlantic are both jumping from Sun Belt to C-USA next year, another football-related move. In basketball, Sun Belt is 20th-ranked league this year, C-USA 11th.
8) Brewers' OF/1B Corey Hart is out 3-4 months after having knee surgery, the same knee he had scoped last winter.
7) From 2004-12, Phoenix Suns went 405-237 under Mike D'Antoni, then Alvin Gentry; they let Steve Nash walk last summer, are now 13-28, so they canned Gentry Friday. How about firing the guy who assembled the team?
6) Odd game of the day Saturday: Harvard at Memphis.
5) Actor Craig T. Nelson's dad was the drummer in Bing Crosby's band.
4) I am confused why the Bears fired Lovie Smith, and I'm equally baffled by his not getting another job this winter, but he wasn't exactly in demand in 2003, when Chicago hired him away from the Rams (he was DC).
Rams were hosting Carolina in a playoff game; Bears made it clear that if St Louis won that week, they were going to hire someone other than Smith, since back then, assistants couldn't interview if their teams were still playing.
So the Ram-Panther game is in OT, and Smith's chance to be a head coach in the NFL may rest on his team losing the game!!!! So go figure, a washed-up Jason Sehorn is suddenly covering Steve Smith (in his prime) 1-on-1, Steve Smith scores an easy TD, Rams lose and Lovie Smith gets his dream job.
15 head coach/GM openings this winter, no minorities were hired; no idea if race is a factor, but I have to believe there are other factors involved in Smith not getting another head coaching job.
3) Cardinals' DC Ray Horton was none too happy with being passed over as Redbirds' new head coach; as a result, he is gone from Arizona, good move by Bruce Arians-- you don't want a locker room with divided loyalties.
Horton shouldn't be too mad; he's getting $8M for four years to be the Browns' new DC. Big money for a coordinator.
2) Pretty cool that former major league catcher Paul LoDuca has a job at TVG, analyzing horse racing; don't know if he's any good at handicapping, but he comes across well on TV. He worked some Nationals' games on TV when he was still an active player but on the DL.
1) Our thoughts/prayers go out to jockey Ramon Dominguez, who was injured in a spill at Santa Anita Friday and fractured his skull. Jockeys have a really dangerous job; this spill was scary to watch.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) Michigan Wolverines won 83-75 at Minnesota, in game that wasn't that close; hard to believe Michigan was behind 29-8 at Ohio State Sunday- they've got lot of well-coached, skilled players.
12) Amare Stoudemire scored 17 points in 20 minutes for the Knicks in their 102-87 win over the Pistons in London.
11) Auburn lost in double OT at Arkansas Wednesday; they were 7-17 from the foul line. Little things make a big difference.
10) South Dakota State's Nate Wolters went over the 2,000-point mark in the Jackrabbits' 59-53 win at Western Illinois.
9) Note to people who direct basketball games on TV; if clock is running in last 10:00 of a close game, never take the camera off the ball. Ever.
8) Syracuse is retiring Carmelo Anthony's jersey; he went to school there for one semester, but he did win them a national title and paid for their new practice facility. Wonder if he knows where the library is?
7) Looks like Giancarlo Stanton is only member of my fantasy team in the World Baseball Classic; have to hold my breath he doesn't tweak his hammy running out a grounder against Bulgaria or Guatemala, or whoever they have in that tournament.
6) Good news about the WBC: no A's, no respect, no distractions.
5) No righthanded hitter hit a homer to right field at Safeco Field LY; Mike Morse had 12 HRs to rightfield LY, so he could help Seattle there.
4) Doesn't look good for expanded use of instant replay in baseball this summer; too bad, they could use it.
3) A few days after the A's gave Bob Melvin a contract extension, Orioles did the same for Buck Showalter. What took them so long?
2) Serious question: If you ran an NFL team, would all this drama around Manti Te'o change how you rated him as a pro prospect?
1) Idaho State's Chris Hansen drained an 88-footer at the first half buzzer to cut Sacramento State's lead to 31-23; Bengals came back to win beat the Hornets by a point-- bad loss for a veteran Sacramento team.
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff on a winter day......
13) Is it too late to go back to Titleist clubs? Rory McIlroy shot +3 in his first round with his new Nike sticks, while paired with Eldrick Woods, who shot even par. Thursday's leaders probably didn't get appearance fees, like McIlroy and Woods generally do overseas.
12) Terry Francona has a book coming out on Tuesday, about his days managing the Red Sox (hopefully he also has some stuff about managing the Birmingham Barons when Michael Jordan played there); curious to see how controversial it’ll be.
11) Since Bo Ryan has been hoop coach at Wisconsin, Badgers have seven more road wins than any other Big Dozen team.
10) ESPN announced its first 11 Sunday night games and predictably, no Oakland games. Typical morons; of course both New York teams are on, the Rangers are on multiple times. Do the nitwits at ESPN even know the A’s won their division last year?
Its not that important but it boils down to respect, or lack thereof.
9) A's-Mariners-Nationals made a 3-way trade Wednesday, with Mariners getting Michael Morse, A's getting John Jaso and Washington shedding Morse's contract, while replenishing its farm system somewhat.
8) Whoever invented the sausage, egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin should get a sizeable raise, and a spot in the Sandwich Hall of Fame, if there is such a thing (and there should be).
7) Four NBA teams have had both the league’s leading scorer and the league’s leading rebounder that year; all four teams won 50+ games. Right now, the Lakers have the #1 scorer and the #1 rebounder, and they’re 17-21. Go figure.
6) Atlanta Hawks suspended leading scorer Josh Smith for a game, then showed how much they missed him by beating the Nets 109-95, just second loss in last eleven games for Brooklyn; Hawks scored 58 points in their last game- they had 56 at the half Wednesday.
5) Texas Rangers gave lefty starter Matt Harrison $55M for five years; he is 32-20 the last two years, while tossing 399 innings.
4) New York Rangers' coach John Tortorella told WFAN Wednesday that he expects play to be sloppy when games start Saturday; he also said a coach would normally want at least a couple weeks to get his team ready to play, but what he got was six days. What a way to run a business.
3) Chip Kelly changed his mind and bolts from Oregon to the Eagles; does that mean Ducks are going on probation, or did Kelly just change his mind?
2) Chicago Bears signed QB guru Marc Trestman as its head coach, a typical 180-degree change from its previous coach; Jay Cutler has his fourth OC in last five years. Now the Bears needs a strong defensive coordinator.
1) Its was 100+ degrees in Australia Thursday at tennis tournament; send some of that heat this way, mates. This snow/slush stuff is for the birds.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) If you read this site a lot, you know I watch a ton of college basketball; one thing that is apparent this year, the offensive skill level of players, especially frontcourt players, is simply not good.
Scouting is very sophisticated, so teams are adept at taking away a player’s strength and whats left isn’t pretty. The mid-major games are sometimes more fun to watch; smaller guys playing but with more diverse skills, as far as shooting and passing go. Faster placed games.
12) Odd fact: This is first time Louisville has ever been #1 in a regular season basketball poll. If you remember the Denny Crum era, his Cardinals played very hard pre-conference schedules, to get his team ready for March, so they lost their share of games and never got to #1, except after the NCAA tournament. Some coaches need to take note of that.
11) Chargers signed Broncos’ OC Mike McCoy as head coach, possibly moreso off what he did LY, working with passing-challenged Tim Tebow, than what he did this year, when Peyton Manning basically coached the offense himself. Interesting move within the same division; he is an offensive coach replacing an offensive coach, doesn’t happen all that much.
10) Tuesday was 4th anniversary of that pilot Sully landing the airplane in the Hudson River. Must be cool walking around knowing you saved a couple hundred lives, including your own.
9) Hopefully, no A’s will be invited to play in the World Baseball Classic; who needs the distraction? Definitely don't want any pitchers there.
8) Iman Shumpert wll probably make his season debut for the Knicks in London Thursday; he will improve their perimeter defense and overall athleticism. Just the fact that he isn’t old will help.
7) Last 11 Orlando Magic games went over the total, if you care about things like that.
6) ESPN’s Buster Olney pointed out the Phillies’ run production the last four years: 820-772-713-684. If you’re scoring less runs, your pitching better improve, or else.
5) Was this best class of rookie kickers in NFL history? Tucker (Ravens), Walsh (Vikings), Zuerlein (Rams) were all terrific, accurate from 50+ yards. I remember when Russell Erxleben and Steve Little came out of the SWC together in the early 80’s, they didn’t do that well in the NFL, but they were punters/kickers, so that was a problem. More specialization now.
4) Temps hit 29 in Phoenix Tuesday, six years to the day from the last time temps got below 30 degrees in the Valley of the Sun.
3) Seahawks’ TE Zach Miller got hurt early in Sunday’s game, went in the locker room, came back out and suddenly looked like Kellen Winslow Sr catching passés; he had eight catches for 142 yards, a huge game. Turns out Miller tore the plantar fascia in his foot, got a pain-killing shot in locker room, and then played the game of his life. Medicine is a wonderful thing.
2) Rafael Soriano gets $28M to close for the Nationals for two years; what happens in the Bronx if Mariano Rivera isn’t his old self anymore?
1) Baltimore Orioles will be on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball April 14; somehow, it’ll be their first Sunday night ESPN game in six freakin’ years. How is that possible?
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Very early Super Bowl lines, with the four possible matchups:
Patriots would be -2 over the 49ers, -6 over Atlanta.
Ravens would be 3.5-point underdogs if the Harbaugh brothers meet; they’d be 1.5-point underdogs if they played Atlanta.
12) Last time the 49ers won a road playoff game was in ’89 in Chicago; backup QB for the Bears that day was Jim Harbaugh.
11) SI.com pointed out today that the average NFL game this season had 694.4 total yards; the four playoff games this weekend had an average of 898.3 yards. Quite a difference from the four games that all stayed under the total last week.
10) Why didn’t the Falcons go for two when they took 26-7 lead Sunday? Do these coaches take game management lessons? Mike Smith would be having a very unpleasant day today had the Falcons lost that game.
9) Rory McIlroy signed a big money deal to switch from Titleist clubs to Nike; my golf expert tells me that in this day and age, should not be a huge adjustment for him with his new sticks.
8) adidas signed Derrick Rose to 13-year, $183M endorsement deal; that’s the sneaker company, not the Bulls. Lebron James makes around $120M for 10 years on his sneaker deal. That’s why these guys play in the Olympics and these off-season tournaments, to pacify their sneaker sponsors.
7) USC fired hoop coach Kevin O’Neill; kids want to play a faster tyle and O'Neill'steams play slow. Now Trojans need a dynamic force who can utilize the Trojans’ new facilties to keep some of LA’s high school hoop stars at home. I am told that Bruce Pearl still has two years left on his show-cause order, so he’s not an option yet, but USC is a big name that has been a sleeping giant in hoops for years. Now is the time to get the right guy and challenge UCLA on the hardwood.
6) Oregon State started Pac-12 play 0-3, with three home losses and the President’s brother-in-law is feeling some heat in Corvallis. When you're losing with juniors/seniors on your squad, it ain’t good for your future.
5) ESPN.com reports that baseball owners approved a rule change last week, that would allow coaches and managers to bring interpreters to the mound for conferences with foreign-born pitchers who don't speak fluent English. Just what we need, more people in on conferences.
4) You know when a team has runners on first-and-third and pitcher fakes to third then throws to first? Thats going to be a balk this year-- it won't be a permanent rule change until the Players' Union says OK (why wouldn't they, unless its just a control thing), but it will be a rule this year.
3) Carmelo Anthony made $18,518,574 LY; you figure he does his best to keep in shape so he can play his best at all times. Not so much; turns out he recently fasted for 15 days, no carbs, no meats.
"I haven't had a good meal in 2.5 weeks. No meats. No carbs. So competing at a high level, the body feels depleted.........its for my own sake. Sometimes in life you've got to replenish your body back up and get all the toxins out. (Get) all the things you don't need in your body out. I do this once a year, every year."
How about doing it in the offseason, when you're not getting paid?
Coaching in the NBA must be a lot of fun.
2) Oakland A’s did the right thing and gave their excellent manager Bob Melvin a two-year contract extension; well deserved.
1) NHL regular season is normally 80 games; 48 games is 60% of 80, so the NHL Center Ice package, at most should be 60% of what it was last year, no? Well for once, it appears as if NHL did give viewers a 40% discount, charging $15 a month for the regular season.
NBA did no much thing LY, when their season was reduced from 82 to 66 games. As for me, I get 12 days on DirecTV for free. Free is always good.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Opening lines for the conference title games next Sunday:
49ers opened at -3 at Atlanta, Patriots opened -9.5 over the Ravens.
12) Since 2001, there've been three home dogs in conference title games:
2004 Steelers (-3) lost 41-27 to New England.
2008 Cardinals (+3.5) won 32-25 against the Eagles.
2010 Bears (+3.5) lost 21-14 to Green Bay.
11) Home teams won the last six AFC championship games, covering four of the six. Underdogs covered four of last five NFC games, with road team winning three of five SU, but #1 NFC seeds who advanced this far won four of last five games. Over last five years, dogs are 6-4 vs spread in this round.
10) NC State is 3-0 in ACC basketball for first time since 1989; ACC is a little down this year, but the Wolfpack isn't. State-Duke are by far two best teams in the ACC.
9) If you care about such things, Davidson is making 80.9% of its foul shots, #1 in country. Cal-Riverside is making 54.7%; they are last.
Detroit Titans made 13 of 32 foul shots in a loss at Cleveland State Saturday; how can kids on a basketball scholarship make less than half their foul shots?
8) The instant replay rule in tennis is tremendous; just thought I'd let you know. Australian Open started last night, its the only tennis tournament I watch all year, since its on in the middle of the night when I'm writing this outstanding website.
7) Was Ravens' tying TD Saturday (a 70-yard TD pass with 0:30 left) the worst defensive play in NFL playoff history? I'm thinking it was.
6) Two years ago, when the Hornets' Anthony Davis was a senior in high school, his basketball team's record was 6-26. How does a team with a kid going to Kentucky go 6-26? Davis went to a charter school where, according to him, none of the other kids cared about basketball. Go figure.
5) Knicks-Pistons are playing in London Thursday; game starts at 3:00 ET. Pretty sure I heard its a Detroit home game. Thats London, England, not London, Ontario.
4) Michigan got down 29-8 early, rallied to tie Ohio State, but Buckeyes pulled out a 56-53 win in Columbus; Wolverines were last unbeaten team in country, so now there are no unbeatens left, tying 2007 for the earliest there have been no unbeaten college basketball teams.
3) Clemson was last unbeaten in '07; they're only team since 1977 to be the last unbeaten team that season, and not make the NCAA tournament.
2) Since '77, four national champs were last unbeaten that year; Florida in 2006, UConn in '99, Duke in '92 and Kentucky in '77.
1) #4-seeds are the divisional winner with the worst record; over the last 20 years, seven #4-seeds played in a conference title game. Six of them won, and of the seven, only the '08 Cardinals were at home.
Ravens-Patriots game pits a 4-seed against a 2-seed; since 1990, 4-seeds are 4-0 when facing a #2-seed in a conference championship game, all on road.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) #1 seeds in AFC are now 3-5 in their first playoff game the last eight years, 2-8 vs spread the last ten years. #1 seeds in NFC are 1-4 SU last five years, 1-5 vs spread the last six.
Lot of pressure on those #1 seeds to take advantage of their position. You only get so any chances to host playoff games.
12) As an NFL fan, nothing worse than losing a home playoff game, even worse than being 1-15 or 2-14 (over the last 47 years, Rams have done all of those things). Very bitter loss for the Broncos, especially the way Ravens tied the game in the last minute. Shocking would be an understatement. Not many NFL teams score two return TDs in same game and lose.
11) Then there are the Packers, who acted like they thought it was illegal for the QB to run with the ball; Kaepernick ran for 181 yards, passed for 263 in his first playoff start, a surprisingly easy 45-31 win.
10) I'm thinking Alex Smith can pack up his house and prepare to move to another NFL city this winter; doubt he wants to be a backup with the Niners.
9) Good to see Brian Kelly extract money out of his employers for better salaries for some of his assistants, using the NFL as leverage; curious to see now if this will be an annual event, or if Kelly will actually jump to the NFL some day.
Would be nice if the cheap humans who run Notre Dame would throw some more money into the athletic facilities, to make Kelly's job a little easier. On second thought, I'm glad they don't.
8) At one point Saturday, Wisconsin led Illinois 34-9; they won by 23. How does a team whack Ohio State one week and fall behind 34-9 the next?
7) Georgetown had its worst home loss in 41 years Monday; they came out and tried to erase that memory Saturday, running out to a 36-19 halftime lead in an easy 67-51 win over a lousy St John's team.
6) Visiting team is now 9-0 vs spread in Big East games if pointspread is five or less points- the big arenas they play in, less of a home court edge. .
5) Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers went 10-13 behind arc as Heat crushed the Kings 128-99 in Sacramento. Going to be a rough three months for Kings if the rumors of their move to Seattle are true.
4) Big Sky Conference has some amazing road trips; Montana played in Grand Forks, ND against the Fighting Sioux Thursday night, then played a 4:30 game Saturday in Greeley, CO, 900+ miles away- they won by 8 at Northern Colorado, are now 5-0 in conference play, but not before they fell behind by 15 right out of the gate. Tough travel for a college team.
3) Texas A&M 83, Kentucky 71-- Elston Turner hung 40 on the Wildcats in Rupp Arena, just Calipari's second loss there. Turner's dad was a really good player at Ole Miss 30 years ago-- one of his teammates was Sean Tuohy, the real-life father in The Blind Side book/movie.
2) Good to see veteran coach George Blaney still on UConn's bench, as an assistant to new coach Kevin Ollie as he takes over from legendary Jim Calhoun. Would've been easy for Blaney to walk when Calhoun did. He has to be a great resource for a rookie head coach.
1) Excellent day for the Harbaugh family; John and Jim won their playoff games, and Indiana beat the Golden Gophers; Tom Crean is brother-in-law to the Harbaughs. Hoosiers led by 23 at the half, won by 7. I'm still thinking Minnesota is my darkhorse Final Four team.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts with weekend here......
13) #1 seeds in AFC are 3-4 in their first playoff game last seven years, 2-7 vs spread the last nine years. #1 seeds in NFC are 1-4 SU last five years, 1-5 vs spread the last six.
Lot of pressure on those #1 seeds to take advantage of their position.
12) Monte Kiffin goes from being fired by his son at USC, to becoming DC of the Dallas Cowboys. Wonder what Mrs Kiffin (Monte’s wife/Lane’s mother) thinks of all this?
11) Jay Cutler gets himself an offensive head coach as Chicago Bears are said to be hiring Marc Trestman, a QB guru who has NFL experience, but most recently was HC of Montreal Alouettes in CFL. Bud Grant-Marv Levy-Mike Riley are all former CFL head coaches who also coached in NFL.
10) Whomever Carolina Panthers replace OC Rob Chudzinski with has to be a QB guru, to maximize the substantial abilities of Cam Newton.
9) Latest blind line I saw on Super Bowl was AFC -3, with total of 51.
8) Our nation’s trade gap widened by 15.8% in November, which can’t be good. Stock market is basically unchanged today as I type this, so either that was old news or expected news. One thing I want to do after I retire from my day job is learn more about how the stock market works.
7) If you wager on Big West basketball, you should know that all league’s games are streamed for free on Bigwest.org. Good stuff.
6) New Mexico State has a 7-5, 360-pound freshman from Toronto named Sim Bhullar; saw him at Seattle Thursday. He is massive; appears to have good hands, went 16-17 from floor in Aggies’ last two home games. He is still young/raw, but Marvin Menzies may have struck gold with this kid, who is only 30-64 on foul line but is scoring 9.5 ppg in 18 mpg.
5) NC State/Oregon State are the only two D-I teams in America with six players averaging double figure scoring. Only eight other teams have five such scorers.
4) Big East home favorites of 5 or less points are already 0-7 vs spread in conference play.
3) My lone thought on the NFL/concussion lawsuit: How are plaintiffs going to prove that it was NFL football that caused these concussions and subsequent physical damage, as opposed to high school or college or sandlot football?
2) NHL schedule can’t come be released until the players ratify the new labor agreement, but it would be nice if that happened soon, since games are supposedly starting next Saturday.
1) Jack Taylor, the D-III player from Grinnell who scored 138 points in a game in November, broke his wrist and is out for the year. Grinnell is 9-3 and sophomore Taylor was scoring 36 ppg (27 ppg if you take out the 138-point game).
Friday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.....
13) Sacramento Kings are being sold and moved to Seattle? Too bad for the fine people of Sacramento, who have zero chance of ever getting another team, since the NBA now extorts teams to build ridiculously priced new arenas in order to get a team, and new arenas aren’t going to be built with public money in California anytime soon (unless you’re the 49ers).
Good news for Seattle, which had Sonics stolen from five years ago for no good reason, one of the dark moments of David Stern’s tenure as Commissioner.
12) So here’s the history of the Royals/Kings franchise: Rochester-Cincinnati-Kansas City-Omaha-Sacramento, now Seattle; they should have Rand McNally as a corporate sponsor.
11) Here is a great job: Wendy’s is testing out a new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger; I could easily do this for a living, just taste-test new food, to see if its any good. Where do I get my application?
10) Missouri lost Laurence Bowers (sprained knee) for at least two games, big blow for Mizzou.
9) Georgetown’s 73-45 home loss to Pitt Monday night was their worst home loss since 1971, in other words, pre-John Thompson.
8) CAA is slipping in conference power ratings; they’re #19 so far this year, after being 14th or better in each of last five seasons.
7) The World Championship of Cornhole (throwing a beanbag thru a hole in a board, if you’ve never seen it, google it) is being held this week at Harrah’s in Tunica, MS. Good times.
6) Dodger Stadium is undergoing $100M in upgrades this winter, both for fans/players. After Fenway/Wrigley, Dodger Stadium is the third-oldest stadium in the major leagues.
5) Sounds like Stanley Cup playoffs will begin in early May, with June 25 longest playoffs could go; full schedule is expected to be released this weekend, which is nice, since the season starts next Saturday.
4) If NHL wanted to win back fans/viewers immediately, they would’ve made the process of doing the new schedule transparent, with cameras/mikes in on the meetings where all these changes were made. Must be fascinating to see how they get around the obstacles of arena availability and getting the national TV matchups they want.
3) Toronto Maple Leafs fired Brian Burke this week; not sure what he did during the lockout to get fired, or why they waited this long to do it. Timing is weird; apparently most everything the Leafs do is quirky, at best.
2) This is the first time since 1996 that no one was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame; I don’t give a rat’s ass about the Hall itself, other than the economy of Cooperstown depends on people going there, and its not a place you get to easily.
This situation needs to be resolved, because its unfair to throw a blanket over every player (Piazza, Biggio come to mind) and say they can’t get in Hall of Fame because of steroids, since they were not implicated as users. Its not the most important thing in the world, but to the people of Otsego County in central New York, their economy pretty much depends on it.
1) By the way, one last thing about the Hall of Fame. Put Pete Rose in next year. Put on his plaque that he is banned from baseball, but for the love of God, he deserves to be inducted and to have his speech and then he can go away. No one ever accused him of cheating.
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff on a winter day........
13) Lot of mystery surrounding RGIII’s knee operation Wednesday; people who criticized the Redskins for drafting two QBs last spring are looking like dopes right about now.
Speaking of operations, when was last time a doctor came out after an operation and declared it a failure? They're all great successes.
12) Dallas-Detroit-Washington have all hired six HCs since 1997, most in the NFL; none of the three have played in an NFC title game since then, the only three teams not to.
11) Cowboys are 22-26 the last three years; they’ve made the playoffs once in last five years and have one playoff win since 1996. Don’t think its all Rob Ryan’s fault. Or the former running backs' coach.
10) Seahawks signed Ryan Longwell to kick the rest of the playoffs, and put Steven Hauschka on IR. They’re in a dome this week, so no big deal.
9) How has Bengals’ DC Mike Zimmer not gotten a head coaching job? Seriously, what does he have to do?
Now, for our top 8 NFL teams........
8) Texans—Got bamboozled on a Monday night in Foxboro, which wound up costing them a bye and home field in this game. They’ll need a big effort to beat Brady, but could get a break with unusually warm January weather.
7) Falcons— Lot of pressure on a coach who has zero playoff wins; you only get so many chances to be the #1 seed in the playoffs.
6) Ravens—Huge QB mismatch in Denver this weekend; still wary of Raven squad that fired its OC in December.
5) Packers—Playing on road this week because they lost at Minnesota in Week 17. With their passing offense, will warmer weather help them?
4) Seahawks—Can a network please find Tom O’Brien and do a sitdown interview where he explains why he fired Russell Wilson at NC State? If Oprah can land an interview with Lance Armstrong, how hard can this be?
3) 49ers—Colin Kaepernick’s first playoff game, against Aaron Rodgers. Live underdog, I’m thinking.
2) Patriots—Can you imagine the ratings Manning vs Brady in an AFC title game would get?
1) Broncos—Much like the Falcons, now is the hour for John Fox and the Broncos; they were gifted with the #1 seed with Houston’s late stumbles. They need to take advantage of it.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Thanks to reader Paul T for clueing me in on why the Bills parted ways with Marshawn Lynch a few years back; had very little to do with football, more off-the-field stuff. Bills did what they had to do at the time; fortunately for Lynch, he seems to have fixed his life, so good for him.
12) 41,000 families in New Jersey are still displaced because of Hurricane Sandy; I don’t want to get into politics, but it would be encouraging to see our country spend as much money helping out our own citizens as they do with these other countries halfway around the world.
11) Adam LaRoche gets two years, $24M to stay with Washington, which begs the question, whats up with Mike Napoli and the Red Sox? If Boston doesn’t sign him, who’s going to play 1B in Beantown?
10) “Enjoy it, if you can.” ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi actually said that to Nick Saban after Alabama won their game Monday night.
I felt bad when he said it, because Saban has worked so hard and so many people have gotten a ton of enjoyment out of his success, but if he himself can’t enjoy it, that’s pretty sad. Hopefully after National Signing Day in four weeks, he can get a little vacation have some fun before spring ball starts.
9) “I just put them on the coffee table for the recruits to look at.” Saban, when asked what he does with his four national championship rings.
8) Greedy bastard update: somehow, the price of gas went up four cents a gallon since Christmas. A mile west of my house, it is $3.73 a gallon for self-serve. A mile east of my house, it is $3.54 and they pump the gas for you. That’s not a hard decision at all.
7) Over last four years, Washington Huskies’ basketball team played fast-pace ball, ranking #7-10-23-30 in country in tempo, but this year, they’re down to #177 pace, average speed. That’s what happens when your guards aren’t as good as they used to be.
6) Florida State finished in the top 10 in the final college football poll, which nets coach Jimbo Fisher a $50,000 bonus; it pays to be nice to the writers who vote for such things.
5) If you invest in the NBA, know that the Knicks are 1-6 vs spread as a home favorite of 7+ points, but 7-1 when laying less than 7 points.
Washington Wizards are 5-0-1 as a home underdog of 5+ points, 2-5-1 if they’re getting less than 5 at home.
4) New England Patriots scored 76 more points (4.75 per game) than any other NFL team; that’s a lot.
3) 2013 is the first year since 1987 where the four numbers in the year are all different.
2) Congrats to San Jose State for finishing in the top 25 in final college football poll for the first time ever; it cost them their coach, but he laid a foundation for success that hopefully they can continue.
1) Some people in Canada are not happy about the NHL lockout and are proposing a strike for fans. In Calgary, they’re saying that you can go to the Calgary Zoo 13 times for what it costs for two Flames tickets.
Somehow, when games start at the Saddledome, I’m guessing there won’t be many folks at the zoo.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) Over its last three bowl games, Alabama outscored its opponents by a combined score of 112-21; thats Michigan State-LSU-Notre Dame. Wow.
12) Nick Saban is a great college coach, but you just wish he'd enjoy it a little more; maybe thats just what it takes to maintain greatness the way they have. You wonder if the monster they've created is becoming so big that the expectations will become so great that he'll wind up leaving Tuscaloosa.
I wouldn't want to be the guy who replaces Saban at Alabama.
11) Packers were giving Minnesota 7.5 points Saturday, until word got out during afternoon that Joe Webb would be starting in place of Christian Ponder, who isn’t exactly Dan Fouts throwing a football.
Nevertheless, since Webb hadn’t thrown a pass all year, line jumped from -7.5 to -11. Webb is first QB to start an NFL playoff game without throwing a pass during the regular season. Tough spot for him, and it showed.
10) Chip Kelly turned down $6M a year to coach 16 games in the NFL, for his $3.5M gig to coach 12-13 games at Oregon. Must be nice.
9) Northwestern has never played in NCAA tournament and they won’t this year either; they’re rebounding only 47% of their opponents’ missed shots in league play. That’s really poor; they’re going to get eaten alive in a physical league like the Big Dozen.
8) Whomever Cleveland Browns hire as head coach will be their 7th coach in 13 years. This change is because of the new owner, I understand that, but at some point, they need continuity, or else they’ll never win.
7) Someone refresh my memory; why did the Bills get rid of Marshawn Lynch? Seriously, I can’t remember—was it because they drafted CJ Spiller? Lynch is carrying this Seattle offense.
6) Redskins have to be holding their breath about Robert Griffin III's knee, which may have a torn ACL; if he does have a ACL tear, chances are he will miss the start of next season.
5) Carmelo Anthony was 6-26 from floor in Knicks' 102-96 home loss to the Rondo-less Celtics. Anthony was 4-12 outside arc, 2-14 inside the arc.
4) Wizards beat the Thunder and New Orleans upset the Spurs Monday night; is it a full moon outside or what?
3) Bad news for Patriot League champ Lehigh; CJ McCollum, their star player who was leading country in scoring, broke his foot over the weekend and is out for the rest of the regular season, at least.
2) Tulsa (coached by Danny Manning) won its Conference USA opener 48-47 at SMU Sunday night on a jump shot by Pat Swilling Jr, whose dad Pat Sr was a fine NFL linebacker from 1986-98, mostly with the Saints.
1) Out of 347 Division I college basketball teams, there are four unbeaten teams left (Arizona-Duke-Michigan-Wyoming) and two winless teams (Maryland-Eastern Shore and Grambling).
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend..........
13) College basketball ref John Cahill is one of the best in country and happens to be from Albany; he once ran for Albany County DA. Now he is on TV several times a week reffing ballgames all over the eastern half of the country. Here is a sample of a nine-day stretch of his schedule last month:
Dec 15-- Louisville 87 @ Memphis 78
Dec 18-- Presbyterian 62 @ Tennessee 78
Dec 19-- Xavier 45 vs Cincinnati 60
Dec 20-- Robert Morris 74 @ Arkansas 79
Dec 22-- LSU 70 @ Marquette 84
Dec 23-- South Carolina State 41 @ Clemson 77
You get assigned to Xavier-Cincinnati and Louisville-Memphis, thats about as big a compliment as an official can get.
12) Referee James Breeding has already worked 34 games in 21 different states this season. That a lot of different states.
11) Redskins had total of 74 yards in their last eight drives; biggest issue facing Robert Griffin III as he moves forward in his career will be his ability to stay healthy. Otherwise, Redskins are set at QB for next 10-12 years.
10) What a year the Colts had; their HC is found to have leukemia, but they overcome that and make the playoffs, but then interim coach/OC misses their playoff game after getting taken to the hospital the morning of the game, supposedly with an inner ear infection. Amazing season for them.
9) You don't think the layoff before a bowl game is excessive?
Colts-Vikings-Bengals have all played seven games since the last time Notre Dame played a game.
8) PGA Tournament in Kapaula was supposed to start Thursday; they actually played a little Friday/Sunday, but winds have been so strong, they stopped play both days. They'll try to play 36 holes Monday and 18 more Tuesday. Next week's tournament is Hawai'ian Open, so golfers don't have too far to go for the next event.
7) Buffalo Bills hired Syracuse coach Doug Marrone as its new coach; no idea if he'll do well or not (he did well rebuilding at Syracuse), but no way is his hiring going to sell a lot of tickets in western New York.
I know the goal is to win games and that ultimately sells the most tickets, but you look at the Bills and wonder if they know what the hell they're doing.
6) Speaking of which, Eagles were anxious to dump Andy Reid, but have yet to replace him. If they don't land Chip Kelly, where they going to look?
And if they do sign Kelly, then who is their QB going forward?
5) If I had to pick a college basketball Final Four right now, I'd probably go with Michigan-Louisville-Duke-Minnesota. Luckily for me, there are lot of games left between now and Selection Sunday (10 weeks).
4) You see a Virginia player dribble from the wing to basket for a layup in last 6:00 of a close game, and you realize that this Tar Heel team is going to be fortunate if they win a game in NCAA tournament. There is no presence in the middle of the North Carolina defense to discourage opponents.
3) GoDaddy.com Bowl might be a minor bowl, but being one of few good TV viewing options on a Sunday night in January has to be big advantage for Kent State/Arkansas State during heart of recruiting season.
2) If you took the eight starting QBs in the NFL this weekend and had a draft, wouldn't Joe Flacco be the 7th guy taken??
1) NHL and Players' Union finally came to an agreement; supposedly, the season will start January 19. Thats kind of fast; hope they're not rushing the start of the season, at the expense of getting the players in shape.
They're saying a 48-game regular season, then full set of playoffs. Curious to see what DirecTV charges for the Center Ice package.
Tuesday's Den: 2011 Over/under win totals for major leagues
the armadillo, click here