Monday's List of 13:
Happy Labor Day, everyone..........
Baseball info every day during the season.....
Week 1 NFL info coming Monday night on NFL page
Monday CFL info now posted on NBA page
-- Kevin Durant will sign a deal with Nike that will play him around $27M a year for ten years to wear Nike gear, more money than the Thunder pays him.
-- Indians' team ERA for August before Sunday's game was 2.40.
-- Patriots traded backup QB Ryan Mallett to Houston, so if you drafted Texans' QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on your fantasy team, go pick Mallett up.
-- Tennessee 38, Utah State 7-- Terrific start for young Vols; Utah State ain't bad.
-- Finland 81, Ukraine 76-- Great coaching job; these guys lost by 59 Saturday- it takes onions to bounce back and win a close game the next day.
-- USA 98, Turkey 77-- Turks led by 5 at half; thank god we had Jim Boeheim on the bench to make those critical tactical adjustments at halftime.
Quote of the Day
"Alex (Smith) is a smart, talented football player that has adapted well to our offensive scheme. He also, obviously, has had a tremendous amount of success as a quarterback in this league. We as a team are very happy to have Alex as our quarterback moving forward."
Which NFL team was Lou Holtz head coach of for one year?
Brian Kelly was head coach at Central Michigan, Cincinnati before he got the job at Notre Dame.
Chuck Finley is the Los Angeles Angels' career leader in pitching wins, with 165.
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Monday"s List of 13: Happy Labor Day, everyone.........
13) Had my fantasy football draft Sunday; amazing how late Eli Manning went, like no one thinks he can play anymore. Am guessing he does better this year.
12) I watch these NASCAR races and the cynic in me thinks the caution flags near the end of the race are intentional, to create dramatic finishes.
11) Maybe its just me, but RGIII is a little young to have a statue of himself outside Baylor's new football stadium, even if he is a big reason why the thing got built. How about waiting until he turns 30 or something.........
10) Watching an old Tennessee-Auburn game on SEC Network, just heard Keith Jackson say "they've got to hunker down...." and I smiled.
9) Croatia 90, Argentina 85-- Guy playing for Croatia lost six teeth during this game but returned to play later on-- did he used to play hockey?
8) Should be noted that Turkey has one NBA player (Omar Asik) on its team and they led Team USA by 5 at the half.
7) Surprised that Houston cut Case Keenum after they traded for Ryan Mallett; someone will pick Keenum up- he started eight games last year.
6) In last five weeks, Minnesota Timberwolves have sold 500 new season ticket packages, I guess because people are glad they traded for Andrew Wiggins, who is a Canadian. Wolves had lost around 1,100 of their 7,400 season ticket holders from last year, but have about half of them back now.
5) Brewers' farmhand Nathan Orf played all nine positions in a Class A minor league game Sunday; he started at catcher, ended it on the mound.
4) As I type this, Indians-Royals are in a rain delay in 10th inning of the Sunday night game in Kansas City; Tribe has a 4:00 home game Monday against Detroit, in another important series. Tough scheduling spot there, but at least Kluber flew home a day early and will be well-rested.
3) Oakland traded for Adam Dunn, saving White Sox $1.25M in salary-- Dunn will retire after the season, this is a chance for him to play playoff baseball before he ends a long and interesting career.
2) Rough weekend for my A's, who have four weeks left to right the ship and make the playoffs. Baseball is a six-month grind; there are ups and downs, but this is one terrible time for the A's to hit the skids. They head home now, time for some wins.
1) Baseball playoffs if they started today:
NL-- Washington-Mil or StL-Dodgers. Wild Card: Giants/Mil or StL
AL-- Baltimore-Kansas City-Angels. Wild Card: A's-Detroit
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a college football weekend
13) LSU trailed Wisconsin 24-7 with 10:20 left in third quarter, before a successful fake punt led to a field goal that started a 21-0 run that gave the Bayou Bengals an unlikely 28-24 win over the Badgers in Houston Saturday night.
Wisconsin changed QBs this year because they wanted a more mobile QB, but the new QB was 8-24/50 passing and that ain't good enough to win at this level.
12) Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31-- Somebody better teach Jimbo Fisher about game management; with 3:58 left, FSU scored to go up 36-24 and didn't go for two points to make it 38-24. At that point, 36-24 is the same as 37-24, so they had to go for two to protect against two late Oklahoma State TD's- OSU almost got the ball back down 37-31, which would've made for some nervous Seminoles.
11) Arizona kicker Casey Skowron was studnt manager of the woman's soccer team at Arizona, before he joined the football team-- he kicked three field goals in Friday's game, including a 49-yarder.
10) Texas A&M 52, South Carolina 28-- Kenny Hill was 44-60/511 in his first start as a college QB. Kevin Sumlin's teams score a lot of points.
9) Penn State 26, Central Florida 24-- People in Ireland saw a terrific game, with Lions kicking a 36-yard FG at the gun for the win. Penn State avenged last year's loss at home to the Golden Knights.
8) Ohio State 34, Navy 17-- Middies led 14-13 at half, but gave up a defensive TD early in third quarter. JT Barrett was 12-15/226 passing, but he didn't run the ball real well. This game was closer than the final score indicates.
7) What genius at ESPN decided to replace Brent Musburger with Chris Fowler on the main primetime game each week? This is blatant age discrimination; anyone who thinks Fowler is better than Musburger is a nitwit, plain and simple.
6) UL-Monroe 17, Wake Forest 10-- ULM beat Wake for the second year in a row, as Deacons are 3rd-youngest team in country and are playing a true freshman at the most important position on the field, quarterback. Wake had 5 first downs-- 5.
5) UCLA 28, Virginia 20-- Bruins led 21-10 at half, but all three TDs were scored by the UCLA defense. Bruins had trouble protecting their QB.
4) Western Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 31-- Hilltopper QB Brandon Doughty was 46-56/569 passing, with six TDs- thats a full day's work.
3) North Dakota State 34, Iowa State 14-- Bison have now won five games in a row vs I-A opponents-- why would a I-A schedule this I-AA titan? This is a really bad loss for the Cyclones, by three TDs to a I-AA team.
2) Syracuse and NC State both beat I-AA opponents by one point, not a good omen as they head towards ACC play. Villanova went for a 2-point play and the win in OT in the Carrier Dome, but they didn't make it and the Orangemen escaped.
1) Temple (+14.5), Texas-San Antonio (+12.5) were the biggest pointspread underdogs to win straight up this weekend.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) If you like to surf the web, I’ve got a good website for you (for AFTER you read this one :-)) . Fivethirtyeight.com, they’ve got a mixture of sports and politics, lot of smart people who write about interesting topics. I think you’ll enjoy it.
12) Wonder if anyone at Duke University (quietly) wishes Mike Krzyzewski would spend more time on campus at Duke and less time circling the globe coaching Team USA in these FIBA tournaments. I’m just askin’
11) Suspended WR Josh Gordon cannot play in the CFL this season unless the Browns were to release him, which they’ll never do. Clear-cut rule about CFL not signing NFL players who are under contract and suspended.
10) Why was Sammy Watkins playing Thursday night, if he has bad ribs? Why was he playing, if he didn’t have bad ribs? It’s the fourth exhibition game; no one of value plays in those games.
9) Speaking of which, Tom Brady did get on the field for the Patriots Thursday, but only to hold for kicks. Would he be the greatest player of the last 35 years (probably since Joe Theismann) to hold for kicks?
8) David Price has had three games this season where he got 30+ called strikes; there have been only 20 of these games all season and Price has three of them, which helps explain why Bronx beat him pretty badly earlier this week.
Last time he pitched against New York, Price got 33 called strikes, so obviously this time, the Bombers were determined to be more aggressive against Price and they wound up getting nine straight hits in an 8-run inning against him.
7) That said, you have to be damned good to give up nine straight hits; who else would be allowed to stay in a game that long, other than a really good pitcher?
6) Nebraska (28) and Florida State (24) have the longest active winning streaks in college football season openers.
5) University of Maryland will be selling pretzels at their football games that weigh 1.5 pounds; must be a lot of salt on them. Who can eat a 24-ounce pretzel?
4) If Kevin Sumlin wants to be an NFL head coach, you have to think his chance is around the corner; the way Kenny Hill played Thursday, in his first college start, after Sumlin coached Case Keenum and Johnny Manziel—the man has produced some prodigious offenses, for sure. NFL is going to come calling this winter.
3) I’ve never eaten in a Waffle House, but I want to one day; was at one in Florida once, but just before we got seated, the lone waitress got in a screaming match with the manager, threw her apron at him and quit. I looked at my buddy and we trudged off to some other bad food place, waffle-less. They’re all over the south, so next time I’m down that way I’ll get my waffles.
2) Daniel Snyder wants the Redskins to get a new stadium; good luck with funding for that, while he battles to keep the team’s name intact. His current stadium is only 17 years old, so he’s also being a greedy bastard, wanting a new building when the one he has is perfectly fine. Maybe that’s how you get rich, just keep being greedy.
1) Milwaukee ace Yovani Gallardo got 15 misses on 53 swings in a game at Wrigley earlier this month, but in three starts since, he’s only gotten eight misses on 139 swings, which is a big red flag. He didn’t have a strikeout in San Diego Wednesday; you have to wonder if he is healthy. If he isn’t, that’s bad news for the Brew Crew.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.......
13) Georgia-Clemson is too good a game to be played on August 30, but TV networks want good programming every week. Hard to believe that prior to last year, these old rivals went 10 years without playing.
12) NFL teams will make final cuts this weekend; lesser teams will pick up guys the better teams cut. Starting QB’s will be chosen, as Opening Day of the NFL season rapidly approaches.
11) My fantasy football draft is Sunday, as I try and atone for last year’s dismal performance, in my first foray into fantasy football in over 20 years. Hopefully I won’t go thru seven QB’s again this season.
10) QB situation at Alabama will be interesting; McElroy/McCarron won a ton of games between them the last few years, but now a new guy will be under center. No clear-cut #1 quarterback emerged from summer camp.
9) Baltimore Orioles need to make hay at home against the Twins; if Buck Showalter doesn’t win AL Manager of the Year, we need an investigation.
8) Washington goes to Hawai’i in Chris Petersen’s first game as Huskies’ coach, but without starting QB Miles (suspended). Not good to get suspended from the Hawai’I trip. Petersen was 92-12 at Boise State; curious to see how he does following Steve Sarkisian at U-Dub.
7) Tennessee is only team in America with no returning starters on either the offensive or defensive line; they host a Utah State squad that is 15-4 vs spread as a road underdog, and has a Tennessee transfer as a starting CB.
6) Felix Hernandez lasted less than six innings in each of his last two starts, then had this start pushed back to Friday night; is he healthy? Seattle’s playoff push is obviously very dependent on his good health.
5) What genius decided that Central Florida-Penn State would be an 8:30am kickoff on Saturday? Why play in Ireland? Game was supposed to be head coaches O’Leary vs O’Brien, but that got messed up when O'Brien went to the NFL.
4) Marlins go to Atlanta as they try to stay in Wild Card race. Moving Marcell Ozuna to #4 slot, right behind Giancarlo Stanton, hasn’t been a success yet this week, for either guy.
3) LSU-Wisconsin is bigger game for Badgers, as Big 14 teams try to show they’re on a par with SEC/Pac 12 teams (they’re not). Les Miles doesn’t have much experience at QB, but he has two guys who can play.
2) Bartolo Colon is scheduled to pitch for the Mets Saturday, while Angels don’t have a starting pitcher listed for Saturday. Will Colon be an Angel by the time you read this?
1) A’s-Angels is obviously a big series this weekend in AL West race. Oakland hasn’t hit much lately, and their infield defense has been spotty without Lowrie at SS. Angels are going to miss Garrett Richards every fifth day, for sure.
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Cross Josh Gordon off your fantasy draft lists; he got a year’s suspension from NFL Wednesday. Not good for the Browns to lose their best player, though doubt they’re very surprised by the verdict. Too bad; he was highly productive last year.
12) How productive? Gordon (2,451) is 5th on all-time list of receiving yards in his first two NFL seasons. Randy Moss (2,726) is 1st, Jerry Rice (2,497) 3rd.
11) If you see a young pitcher you like get sent to AAA in the next day or two, don’t panic; it’s a paper move designed to create an extra roster spot until Monday, when rosters expand to 40 players from 25. James Paxton pitched Tuesday and won’t throw again til Monday, he’s useless on Seattle's roster, so they “send him down” and will "bring him back" Monday.
Meanwhile, they’ve got an extra hitter or reliever to use until then
10) Royals’ skipper Ned Yost picked a bad time to rip his team’s fans, after Tuesday’s dramatic walk-off win. Less than 14,000 fans showed up, but school has started and it was hot as hell out. Kansas City has a lot of positive momentum; don’t need the manager dragging everyone down by complaining about the attendance on a Tuesday night.
9) Rumors are afloat and being denied by the NHL, that by 2017 there will be four new expansion teams, in Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City and a second Toronto team. Friend of mine who knows a lot about hockey cringed when I mentioned Las Vegas to him—“Do you know what hockey players do when they drink? No one will want to coach that team.” Hmmmm
8) Looks like for the first time since 1999, there won’t be a top 25 team in the preseason college football poll from outside the five BCS conferences. Marshall is said to be the best of those teams this year.
7) New IPod screens are rumored to be 12.9 inches, up from 9.7 inches in the last edition. New IPhones will have a 5.5-inch screen, as companies scramble for tiny differences which will help them grab a bigger share of the market.
6) Dayton Flyers add 5-9 guard Ryan Bass, who scored 9.3 ppg for Oakland two years ago; Bass is from Dayton, Flyers need some backcourt depth. He’s eligible to play right away.
5) Apparently, some people have taken to chewing coffee grounds as a substitute for chewing tobacco, which has been proven to cause cancer. Chewing coffee sounds disgusting, but at least it isn’t bad for you.
4) Sad day for longtime Arena Football fans; the Iowa Barnstormers went out of business. That’s the AFL team Kurt Warner played for in the mid-90’s, before his meteoric rise to NFL fame.
3) There is a good reality show on cable on Tuesday nights about the Los Angeles Kiss of the AFL, owned partly by musicians Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons; shows lot of behind the scenes stuff about an Arena Football team.
2) There is pressure on Wisconsin/Penn State to play well in non-league games this weekend, as Big 14 fights knock of being an inferior league to the SEC, Pac-12. Nittany Lions lost at home to UCF last year; now they’re playing them in Ireland.
1) It is very easy to visualize the 4-team college football playoff expanding to an 8-team deal, seeing as there are five BCS leagues, plus the non-BCS schools are going to want in too, and their fans have money to spend, so they’ll get invited eventually. Not sure it’ll ever get to 16 teams, but I’d bet it gets to eight and fairly soon.
Wednesday's List of 13: Mid-week musings on a hot day....
13) Patriots traded their best offensive lineman, Logan Mankins (who is 32) to Tampa Bay for TE Tim Wright and a 4th-round pick. Wright played for former Bucs’ coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers; Belichick is friends with Schiano. Bucs have enough cap room to absorb Mankins’ salary. Interesting trade.
12) CBSsports.com pointed out Tuesday that in the last five college football national title games, seven of the ten starting QB’s had never started a college game before that season………
11)…….. I‘ve spent more than a few hours this summer tracking what college teams have experience and who doesn’t; when I read that factoid, wasn’t sure if I had been wasting my time or not. Probably not, but still, Manziel/Winston won last two Heismans, both in their freshman year. Unusual for sure.
10) 49ers tore up the turf on their new Levi’s Stadium field again Monday; their home opener is September 14 against the Bears—they were still debating yesterday what type of grass to put down, kind of like they would at a golf course.
9) Burger King bought Tim Horton’s donut franchise for $11B this week and will move its headquarters to Canada. The two BKs in my town both closed up in the last few years but apparently elsewhere they’re thriving.
8) Cubs brought up another of their prospects, OF Jorge Soler, who is said to be a good hitter, but why did they trade Jeff Samardzija for a shortstop prospect, when they already had three solid middle infield prospects?
Pitching is and always will be the most essential element of the game and the Cubs’ farm system isn’t producing many of them.
7) Rays’ SS Yunel Escobar basically refused to get traded to the A’s, after they claimed him on waivers, so now he becomes my most disliked player in baseball. He already had a reputation as a bad actor, but has done well with Joe Maddon in Tampa, which is apparently why he wants to stay there. Good for him.
6) Quick Lane, a tire/auto care place, and the Detroit Lions are sponsoring a bowl game at Ford Field in December, replacing the old Little Caeser’s Bowl. This bowl will have better teams, Big 14 vs ACC. Think the Caeser’s Bowl was MAC vs Sun Belt or C-USA.
5) Turner Broadcasting is laying off 550 people this month; hopefully one of them is Shaquille O’Neal, since I can rarely understand what he is saying on the NBA studio show anyway.
4) Since July 1, Houston’s Chris Carter leads MLB in home runs; he is this generation's Rob Deer-- lot of homers, lot of strikeouts
3) USC DB Josh Shaw has two sprained ankles; how he got them is now a mystery, since it appears his story of jumping off a 2nd-story balcony to save his 7-year old nephew from drowning might not be the truth. Oy.
2) Sounds like an 18-game NFL regular season will be on the table at the next labor negotiations; Jerry Jones usually gets what he wants.
1) Royals 2, Twins 1-- Alex Gordon hit a dramatic walk-off homer as Royals move to 15 games over .500 with this unlikely win.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Is Russell Wilson a top 10 NFL QB? Well if he is, he’s better than at least three of these 12 guys, plus a few others-- you make the call.
12) Major League Baseball needs to announce who in New York City is reviewing these instant replays and making important decisions; in other words, teams need to know who is hosing them on close replay reviews. Maybe they do know, but I’d like to know, too.
11) Peyton Manning has 491 TD passes, needs 18 more to pass Brett Favre for #1 on the all-time list. He’ll have it before Columbus Day.
10) The catch Marlins’ SS Adeiny Hechevarria made in short centerfield in the 12th inning Saturday was a great, great play that saved the game at the time for the Marlins, who later lost the game, but this was a great play. If other shortstops loved by the media ever made a play half this good to save a game, they’d be showing it on Sports Center for the next decade.
9) Rams-Browns game has yet to be re-run on NFL Network because Browns' TV violated some rule about virtual advertising on the broadcast, so the network wouldn’t use their telecast as a re-run. Supposedly they’re going to air the Rams’ broadcast later this week. Curious to see Austin Davis play; think he could help the Rams at QB, down the road.
8) Northern California wine industry took a hit this weekend with 6.1 earthquake, biggest one in that area since the ’89 quake that happened during the World Series. Over a hundred people were injured this weekend.
7) Angels acquired Gordon Beckham from the White Sox to play third base, a position he hadn’t played since 2009. A’s traded for Geovany Soto because John Jaso is having concussion problems again and Steven Vogt can’t catch right now because of a foot problem.
6) I love statistics, but I’m not fond of WAR as a one-stop shopping kind of player evaluator tool. There are too many intangibles, too much of a human element in the game to rely on one number to define a player’s worth. Player might be terrific on the field, but his teammates hate the guy- that stuff doesn’t factor in and it can’t possibly, but it could be important. There will always be a gray area where instinct has to be used to evaluate, whether the Ivy League alums like it or not.
5) Lines on Ohio State football games swung anywhere from 4.5 to 7 points because of Braxton Miller’s injury; lines on Ram games have dropped only a couple points after Sam Bradford’s injury. NFL teams generally have higher quality subs and better coaching to make up for injuries, and some of that is now wishful thinking on my part, but I do think it is true.
4) Speaking of Sam Bradford, he’ll have banked $65M in his first five NFL seasons, while playing only 49 of a possible 80 games, zero in the playoffs. Good luck with your next team, sir. He’s a good guy, just not a durable one.
3) Say what you want about Eli Manning, but every Sunday at 1:00 he takes the field and that is an important quality. Durability might not be a skill per se, but if you have it, it’s a huge plus.
2) Arizona State’s PG Jahii Carson left college early because he thought he was an NBA player, but now the young man has gone to Australia to start his pro career. If he had stayed in Tempe another year and really improved his skills, say shooting, would that have made him an NBA player? He’s making money now so good for him, but you wonder if cheated himself by leaving ASU early.
1) NFL and DirecTV are close to re-upping their deal for the Sunday Ticket, at $1.3B or $1.4B a year, for the next 6-8 years. Now we need DirecTV to add the Pac-12 Network; for what we pay for their service, its not too much to ask.
Monday's List of 13: Some of my favorite quotes........
13) "You're the one who put me here!!!!"
June 1998. A 12-year old third baseman had just made three errors against my Little League team, his coach was giving him more than a little grief and finally the kid had enough. I was standing 20 feet away; was laughing so hard I had to walk further away-- one of the great lines ever.
12) "If you have no destination, you'll never get there." Harvey Mackay
11) "There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people." Thomas Jefferson
10) "When I wake up in the morning and I turn that film on, it's like reading a book and it's exciting. I don't read books, but if I read books it would be like reading a book." LSU football coach Les Miles
9) "You're only given one little spark of madness. You musn't lose it." Robin Williams
8) “My rule was I wouldn’t recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house. That’s not my world. My world has a cracked sidewalk.” college basketball coach, the late Al McGuire
7) "I love money. I love everything about it. I've bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks, got a fur sink. Let's see, bought an electric dog polisher, a gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater, and, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too." Steve Martin
6) "Listen, Lupus, you didn't come into this life just to sit around on a dugout bench, did ya? Now get your ass out there and do the best you can." Coach Buttermaker from the Bad News Bears
5) “We will rally around Kurt Warner, and we will play good football.” Dick Vermeil, August 1999
4) “America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked.” David Letterman
3) "Career highlights? I had two. I got an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax and I got out of a rundown against the Mets.” Bob Uecker, who hit 14 HRs in his major league career, with three of them against Hall of Fame pitchers. Really.
2) “What the world needs is less mental hospitals and more minor league baseball.” Bill Murray in Rolling Stone magazine, 1982
1) "There's no such thing as a sure thing. Thats why they call it gambling." Oscar Madison, from the Odd Couple
Sunday's List of 13: Random stuff on a summer day......
13) Recruiting is an inexact science. Saints' QB Drew Brees only got three D-I offers coming out out of high school and he went to high school in Texas: Purdue-Kentucky-Brown, and Ivy League schools don't give athletic scholarships.
12) Saints' TE Jimmy Graham got fined $30,000 for dunking the ball over the goal posts twice last week, while Johnny Manziel got fined $12,000 for giving the finger to the opposing bench while he was on the field. Which offense is worse?
11) The baseball used in the major leagues is bigger than the one used by teams in Japan; takes some adjustment by the Asian pitchers when they come here.
10) Bruce Pearl's show-cause penalty ended at midnight and Auburn is recruiting its butt off- they've already landed top 10 small forward Danjel Purifoy and have more recruits on campus Sunday. You need talented athletes to run/press like Pearl's teams do, so recruiting becomes more important than X's/O's, at the start.
9) Was watching a replay of LY's Georgia-Auburn game on SEC Network (they replay A LOT of football games); amazing how lucky Auburn got last year, between that game and then of course the Alabama game. Curious to see this year if Auburn has as much good fortune, especially after QB Marshall got busted for posssession of weed this summer. Coaches don't like distractions.
8) Over last decade, Notre Dame's football team is 27-48 vs spread when they're favored to win. Not very good, no matter who the coach has been.
7) If you had ESPN on Saturday afternoon, you saw that Eastern Washington has a red artificial turf football field, like Boise State's blue field. Hard on the eyes, if you're watching it on TV.
6) Losing team in Baylor's last three bowl games averaged 44.8 ppg; average total in those games was a ridiculous 97.3. Bears won two of the three games.
5) In a six-inning stretch bridgeing Friday/Saturday games, Twins scored 23 runs against Detroit. Tigers' pitching was hurting wiith Verlander/Sanchez hurt, but they did get Verlander back last night.
4) Hunter Pence played in his 350th consecutive game Saturday, longest active streak in the major leagues.
3) Home teams are 20-4 this season when Gerry Davis umps the plate; they're 7-19 when Clint Fagan calls balls and strikes. We have umpire data most days here on the baseball page-- its pretty enlightening.
2) Whats the coolest idea you've seen for a trophy for winning a fantasy league? There is one website that makes actual championship belts for winning, like they have on pro wrestling. Thats a little much, but unique.
1) Its a little eerie when I go on websites, and the ads on those sites are for other sites I've visited recently. Obviously they have a way of knowing where I've surfed the web and I'm not good with that. Guess thats how they make more money.
Saturday's List of 13: My suggestions for Rob Manfred..........
13) Geographic realignment. Bud Selig wanted to do this, but got rebuffed on it. Too bad. Here is the way I would re-align the divisions:
12) The schedule.........
72 games-- Play four division rivals 18 times each......
60 games-- Six games against other 10 teams in conference
30 games-- Six games against five teams in division in the other conference, which alternates every year.
11) Leave pace of play alone, it is not a problem, except for the media. One of baseball’s strengths is that it doesn’t have a clock, it makes it unique. If you have to do something to speed up games, eliminate visits to the mound within a half-inning.
10) With that in mind, coaches do not come on the field during games; no stalling on the mound; you want to change pitches, just sub him like it was a basketball game. Call time, signal the new guy in.
9) Players are only people who should wear uniforms; why do baseball coaches wear uniforms anyway?
8) No activity is washed out; if game gets rained out in second inning, you pick it up from the point of interruption. Anything that happens counts.
7) All-Star Game goes to a USA vs World format; this would increase the competitiveness of the game, believe me. Home field in World Series is decided by who wins season series between Eastern and Western Conference.
6) Move trade deadline back to August 31; with second Wild Card, not many teams are out of contention by July 31. Trading creates interest.
5) Would it be too much to ask for all the warm weather/dome teams to play at home the first week each season? It won't be something that eliminates rainouts, but it should help reduce them.
4) Get rid of the designated hitter. Placate the players’ union with an increase of 60 jobs; go to 27-man rosters, but only increase rosters to 33 after September 1.
3) There is a place for the DH; spring training and All-Star games. DH would be optional for spring games, but since outcomes don’t matter, teams could use it to get guys more at-bats. As for the All-Star Game, no one wants to see a pitcher bat in one of those.
2) Its OK to imitate a good idea. Have managers throw the red flag for replay reviews, instead of going out on the field. Its just simpler. Overall, I like the replay system, but having managers go out there to stall to see if they want to challenge a play doesn’t seem right. Just use the flag system.
1) This is very important and probably the least likely thing to happen: $80M salary floor, $160M salary cap. Imagine how great the sport would be with more competitive balance, like in NFL or NBA or the NFL. Teams should be able to retain their own home-grown stars.
Small market teams can compete in small windows, but not over the long term. This way, everyone would have a chance, every year. Except the stupid teams.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here......
13) Great to hear Jim Kelly get good news this week; he still needs our prayers, but things are looking up in his fight against cancer. Know someone who sat next to Kelly on a flight few years back; says he’s a terrific guy, a regular guy, in addition to being a Hall of Famer. We obviously wish him the best.
12) In the last 25 days, the ALS Association has raised around $42M, mostly thru the Ice Bucket Challenge. Totally amazing, just a great job by the ALS people.
11) Had to be weird for David Price to pitch against his old team the Rays in his old home stadium yesterday. His whole pro career had been with Tampa Bay; he only got traded last month. Price lost 1-0 despite allowing only one hit.
10) For some reason, the Toronto Blue Jays think the Creighton Bluejays’ new logo looks too much like theirs and want them to come up with a new one.
Huh? Blue jays are blue jays, no? One faces left, the other right; they do look alike but its because they represent the same darned thing, a blue jay? Of course they look alike!!! Don’t those Toronto people have anything better to do?
9) 10 of last year’s 12 starting QB’s in the Pac-12 conference are back this season, compared to only four of 12 in ACC, five of 12 in Big X, six of 14 in the SEC. At first glance, it’s a down year for QB’s in the SEC.
8) Zack Greinke has a sore elbow; his start was pushed back from Thursday to Saturday, with Kershaw/Haren each moving up a day. Solid break for the Mets, who miss Kershaw now.
7) Next ballplayer from Cuba to make a lot of money here will be OF Rusney Castillo, being sought after by as many as six MLB teams. He showed surprising power in workouts and the success of Abreu/Cespedes figures to drive the price up a little more.
6) VCU beat out North Carolina, Indiana and Georgetown for services of HS guard Kenny Williams. Anytime VCU beats the Tar Heels out for a recruit, that’s a big statement made by coach Shaka Smart.
5) QB Braxton Miller’s season-ending shoulder surgery resulted in lines on Ohio State games being adjusted 4.5-7 points away from the Buckeyes.
4) New Southern Miss basketball coach Doc Sadler had one starter coming back from Donnie Tyndall’s last USM team, but he’s transferred now, so the Golden Eagles are basically starting from scratch under Sadler this fall. No wonder every time I walked into a gym in Las Vegas last month, Sadler was already there, watching prospects play.
3) Hard to believe, but the guy who hired Charlie Weis as the football coach at Kansas is the same guy who hired Bill Self as basketball coach. He'll be hiring a new football coach pretty soon; Weis is stupendously overrated.
2) Tom Coughlin suggests the NFL move the ball to the 1-yard line for PAT’s; if they did that (instead of the 2, where it is now) would more teams go for 2-point conversions? I’m thinking they would.
1) “I can find anyone with a cellphone in less han 90 seconds.” Heard a cop in a TV show say that last week; is that true? If so, it’s a little scary.
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Browns did the wise thing and named a starting QB; doesn’t matter who it was (it was Brian Hoyer); just matters that they diffused the media onslaught and can now go about the business of prepping for their season opener and can also work on developing their rookie QB at his own pace. Good for them.
12) Look at it this way: Browns’ first three games are: Steelers-Saints-Ravens; which one of those three, if any, are they winning? Cleveland has a Week 4 bye, then they can insert young Manziel in at QB, if he’s earned the spot. Easier to go from Hoyer to Manziel than it would be to go from Manziel to Hoyer.
11) This could be the first season since 2007 where no rookie QB will start in Week 1; ’07 was the draft that blessed us with JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn.
10) Solid show of mental toughness Tuesday by Astros’ DH Chris Carter, this generation’s Rob Deer, who struck out in his first four AB’s, then crushed the game-winning 3-run homer in the 9th inning. Would’ve been easy to go in the tank and call it a night, but he hung in there and emerged a hero.
9) Astros’ pitching prospect Mark Appel was 2-5, 9.74 in 12 Class A starts this season, but Houston has a small fortune invested in him, so they promoted him to AA anyway, annoying some others in the Astros’ system.
Appel is 0-1, 3.98 in four AA starts; he recently complained that they weren’t letting him pitch deep enough into games. Astros have a different way of cultivating their pitching prospects; they need some of these prospects to bloom soon, if they’re going to improve anymore- they have gotten better this year.
8) Former used car salesman Allen H. Selig was in Oakland this week; the lights worked, the plumbing didn’t overflow and Selig visited his frat brother from Wisconsin, A’s owner Lew Wolff. Selig emerged saying the A’s need a new ballpark, but he’s been saying that for five years and nothing has happened.
7) As an A’s fan, I love the Oakland Coliseum; it has character, it gives the A’s a home field advantage, because its cruddy and no one likes going there. Having a new stadium is no cure-all; ask the Twins, who won a lot more in the Metrodome than they have in Target Field, which should’ve been built with a retractable dome. Just because you have more revenue doesn’t mean you’ll spend it the right way.
6) Odd Fact of the Day: A’s manager Bob Melvin got one of his first baseball jobs because his great aunt played bridge with Bud Selig’s parents. Thank God for that; if not for bridge, the A’s might not be as good now. Who knew?
5) SLS Hotel is opening in Las Vegas this weekend; it is supposed to be really nice, they have SLS hotels in Miami and Los Angeles, will have to check it out in November when I’m out there. Doubt the Armadillo can afford to stay there, but you never know.
4) SNY had some cool video Tuesday of the 1971 All-Star Game, of Vida Blue striking out Cardinal 3B Joe Torre. A’s had uniforms with white vests over green sleeves; took me back to my childhood seeing those clips. Good stuff
3) Forbes magazine’s three most valuable NFL franchises: Cowboys-Patriots-Redskins.
Stop with this BS of not calling the Redskins by their name. Political correctness has become nauseating. No one is disrespecting Native Americans by calling this football team the Redskins.
Daniel Snyder could make a freakin’ fortune by caving in, changing the name, then selling millions of dollars in apparel with a new nickname on it. Who would fault him, but he hasn’t done it. We’ll see how it plays out, but I sincerely do not think the name is disrespectful.
2) This hasn’t been a great week for the Reds: their game Saturday was rained out on a sunny night in Denver because of a water main break, then Sunday, they lost a doubleheader, when they led Game One 9-5 in 9th inning, Game Two 5-2 in the 7th inning. From there they moved on to St Louis, where they lost 6-5 Monday in 10 innings, 5-4 Tuesday, another bullpen loss, before ace Johnny Cueto losy 7-3 in the series finale Wednesday. Makes people wish Dusty Baker was back.
1) One of the most fascinating part of modern sports for me is the tug of war between modern analytics and old-school philosophy, which is more sound?
I love numbers, but you can go overboard with them. There is a human element to sports and team building that cannot be ignored. Old school horse sense has its place, but there has to be balance. The best franchises have that balance and that’s why they give themselves the best chance to succeed.
Wednesday's List of 13: NFL knowledge for a summer day
Some food for thought with the NFL season only 15 days away……….
13) Seahawks won/covered 10 of last 11 home openers, including last five in row; under is 11-1-1 in their last 13 home openers.
12) Saints won six of last seven meetings against their rivals from Atlanta, with five of last six wins by 6 or less points.
11) Pittsburgh has treated Browns like a pinata, winning 19 of 20 meetings, last three by 14-16-13 points; Cleveland lost last nine visits to Steel City, last six by 11+ points. We'll see if Johnny Manziel can help change that trend.
10) Philadelphia is just 9-23 vs spread at home the last four years, 9-17 as home favorite, 0-2 when laying double digits.
9) Baltimore won its last nine home openers, covering seven, with all nine wins by 7+ points. Bengals started 0-1 five of last six years; they lost five of last seven road openers.
8) Buffalo is just 4-15-1 as road underdogs last three years; they’re 0-5 at Soldier Field, with four losses by 17+ points- their last visit to Windy City was a 40-7 loss in ‘06.
7) Houston went 2-14 LY, losing last 14 games after going 24-10 in previous 34; they won their last four home openers, covering three, scoring 30+ points in all four.
6) Since ‘07, Chiefs are 5-19-1 vs. spread as home favorite; Reid covered once in his last eight home openers KC is 1-6-1 vs. spread in its last eight. Tennessee covered five of its last seven road openers.
5) Over last decade, Patriots are 16-8-2 as road favorite in division games, 57-31-5 as single digit favorite overall. Miami’s last five home openers went over total.
4) Carolina started last five seasons 0-1; they scored 10-7 points in losing last two season openers; five of Panthers’ last six road openers went over total.
3) 49ers are 19-5-2 as single digit favorite under Harbaugh, 10-4 as road favorites, 3-0 in season openers, winning by 16-8-6 points, while scoring 33-30-34 points. Since ‘06, Dallas is 6-2 as home underdog, 4-1 under Garrett.
2) Indy lost three of last four road openers, with all three losses by 10+ points; the last six years, they’re 0-6 vs. spread in Week 1 games. Manning is 9-5 vs. spread in home openers; Denver is 22-3 SU in last 25 home openers, covering four of last five.
1) Lions won last three home openers, scoring 36.3 ppg; they’re 7-1-1 vs. spread in last nine home openers, with last four going over total. Last three years, Giants are 11-6 as road underdogs.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Last season, NFL games had an average of 105.6 penalty yards; in two weeks of exhibition games this summer, there have been 164.3 penalty yards per game, as back judges need a whirlpool for their throwing arms with so many flags getting tossed. No one pays to watch officials; league office better be careful regular season games don’t become flagfests. Makes for bad TV, no bueno.
12) Thinking about rookie QB’s starting in the NFL; Steve McNair only started six games in his first couple years with the Oilers/Titans, thought it served him well to watch veteran Chris Chandler play. Teams would be well-advised to being their young QB’s along gradually. I’d even have a young QB play Arena Football for a year, to get them used to the faster pace of the pro game.
11) How do Kyle Shanahan and Lane Kiffin keep getting prime jobs?
10) Read on SI.com Monday that 31 million people play fantasy football. 31 million. That’s a lot of preview magazines and draft kits. Big business.
9) Atlanta LT Sam Baker is out for the year; first-round pick Jordan Matthews will take his place. Baker’s father used to be commissioner of the Arena Football. Matthews’ dad is NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, but Baker’s dad (6-foot-9) is bigger. Go figure.
8) Oregon Ducks need basketball players this year, due to some off-court problems they’ve had which cost them some players; they got a good one this week in 6-6 Dillon Brooks from Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. Young man moved up a year to the Class of 2014 to sign up with the Ducks and be eligible to play this fall. Oregon still has only ten scholarship players.
7) Vanderbilt announced that two kids won’t be coming back next year because of off-court concerns, players who scored 8.0 and 5.4 ppg. Wonder if those two kids had scored 18.0 and 15.4 ppg if those concerns would be as troubling?
6) Serious question: If you’re an NFL coach whose team is playing on Monday Night Football and you’re playing the Redskins, do you mind that you have to have a production meeting with Jon Gruden, whose brother coaches the Redskins? Are there ethical concerns there that Gruden might leak some secrets to his brother?
5) Had never heard until last week that the father of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was a standout coach himself, but had a heart attack during a game and died on the way to the hospital. Team he helped coach was playing against the team his oldest son coached. Awful story; wonder if Bob Stoops ever thought about doing something other than coaching?
4) Kid named Austin Hatch will play basketball for Michigan this fall; he has survived not one, but two airplane crashes in his young life. Will be an inspiration for many when he takes the court for the first time this fall.
3) Arizona Cardinals lost standout DT Darnell Dockett (knee) for the year.
2) Seattle Seahawks are teaching a "tackling strike zone" where players can tackle an opponent without getting a penalty; Pete Carroll has done a video on the subject and lot of high school/youth teams are using it as a teaching tool..
1) Yu Darvish has three years, $31M left on his contract; he cleared waivers and can now be traded to any team. Question is, how healthy is he?
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Cab driver in Las Vegas posted all 23 of his fares on Twitter Saturday, adding what tip they gave him. After 23 fares, he had $69.30 in tips, so I learned that I'm a better than average tipper.
12) Reds-Rockies game was postponed Saturday because of a water main break outside the stadium, on a sunny day. They played a split doubleheader Sunday because Todd Helton's number 17 was retired yesterday- that game was sold out.
11) If you make the Hall of Fame, they'll make a bobblehead of you; former White Sox/A's/Cardinal skipper Tony Larussa had a bobblehead night in Oakland August 9, a figurine day in St Louis yesterday and has a bobblehead day in Chicago Aug. 30.
10) It takes 27 outs to win a ballgame; quality starting pitchers get you 21+ outs on a regular basis; pretty good starters get you 18+ outs. Suspect starters that cannot finish the 6th inning leave the bullpen exposed to overuse.
Teams like Houston/Bronx who struggle late in games, have starters who struggle getting those 18 outs; that puts undue strain on the bullpen.
9) Rough week for the A's, who are 7-10 since Lester/Cespedes trade; not sure if its a blip in schedule- all teams have rough times in a six-month season, or if its a real problem, as in, "...we traded our best hitter and now we can't score."
8) I can make trades in my fantasy league and it does not affect the team, since they are oblivious to what I'm doing-- there is no such thing as team chemistry in fantasy sports, but in Oakland, they basically blew up their offense. Hard as I try, I can't remember a contending team who traded their cleanup hitter during the season.
When the Samardzija trade happened, I wrote, "he (Cespedes) gives the low-budget A's their swagger--once he walks and breaks the bank, a lot of their invincibility goes too," Well, he didn't walk, he got traded and it seems a lot of Oakland's swagger has gone away, at least until someone else steps up and gets some big base hits.
7) It'll all come out in the end next month, whether the trades worked or not, but I wonder if one more trade for a right-handed bat isn't in Billy Beane's future? A's need more pop in their lineup; doesn't matter who pitches if you can't score.
6) Remember how NFL teams always had those Polaroids faxed down to the bench so players could study formations? Polaroids have been replaced by tablets; saw a few guys (including Bill Belichick) looking at tablets during games this weekend.
5) Took 55 at-bats, but Cubs' 2B prospect Javier Baez finally got his first major league walk; he struck out 21 times before that first walk.
4) Shouldn't major league teams have interpreters for all players who struggle to speak English? Asian players seem to have more interpreters than Hispanic guys who struggle just as much, making a living in a foreign country. Can't be easy.
3) The way NFL rules are set up now, if you don't throw a lot of vertical passes, you're a damn fool. Defensive backs aren't allowed to breathe on receivers, there are ton of penalties called on DBs, to point where I think eventually, they'll switch to the college rule, where pass interference is 15 yards. Got to stretch the defense.
2) Memo to directors on NFL games: Don't show hits on QBs in slow motion; it almost always looks like roughing the passer that way. Show it at real speed.
1) Browns-Redskins on ESPN tonight; Johnny Manziel vs RGIII. Browns said they will alternate QBs every third series. Jon Gruden is analyst on game where his brother Jay is coaching the Redskins; not sure how that will go. Browns' game last week got good ratings on NFL Network. Its still just a preseason game.
Sunday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) Getting rid of the DH would help shorten baseball games; which do you think take longer, pitchers' AB's or David Ortiz AB's? Plus, with no DH you get fewer pitching changes within a half-inning, each of which is 4-5 minutes.
12) Greedy bastard update: For a mere $749, you can have two stadium seats from old Candlestick Park, which is being wrecked this year, with 49ers moving to a new stadium. Wonder how many suckers will buy those?
11) Staying in San Francisco for a minute, the baseball Giants are just 9-23 in their last 32 home games. No bueno.
10) New Jersey Giants have a new OC, 37-year old Ben McAdoo; Tom Coughlin's coaching career was already underway for eight years when McAdoo was born.
9) Giants' backup QB Curtis Painter has played in 14 games over his three seasons in the NFL; he started eight games for the Colts in 2011, when Peyton Manning was hurt. Colts were 0-8 in those games; Painter threw six TDs, nine INTs. You would think the Giants could find a better backup QB.
8) One last Giant note: NFL Fact Book lists seven senior VPs, seven regular VPs in the Giants' front office. Steelers list 17 people, in their entire front office.
7) Some NFL regular season games with coaching subplots:
-- Oct 26-- Vikings-Bucs-- Minnesota fired Bucs' DC Leslie Frazier as HC.
-- Nov 23-- Bucs-Bears-- Chicago fired Lovie Smith two years ago.
-- Dec 7-- Colts-Browns-- Cleveland fired Rob Chudzinski, after one year.
6) Bronx Bombers lost five of their last six games, scoring 10 runs; most teams juggle their lineup when they struggle, but Joe Girardi hasn't. Derek Jeter has batted 437 times this season; he's batted in the 2nd slot 427 of those 437 times. Girardi is a smart guy, but appears his hands are tied by having an aging legend on his team.
5) There are 63 offensive/defensive coordinators in the NFL (Houston doesn't list an OC, with Bill O'Brien as HC). 15 of the 63 are former NFL head coaches.
4) Aaron Rodgers looked very sharp in his preseason debut, but its hard to tell; did the Rams game plan on defense? I hope not; they didn't offer much resistence.
3) You look at Bucs' coach Lovie Smith's resume, you see he was at Arizona State from 1988-91, when Larry Marmie was the head coach. You look at Tampa Bay's coaching staff now, you see Larry Marmie as an assistant coach on defensive side of the ball. You want/need assistant coaches you can trust.
2) Kevin Sutherland shot first 59 ever on the Senior Golf Tour and he bogeyed the 18th hole- he shot 71 Friday, only leads by one stroke. Don't think anyone has ever shot a 58 on the PGA Tour; Sutherland would've, if he parred the 18th.
1) Don't just look at the scores: Ravens led 27-10 at halftime in Dallas, but defense scored a TD, then they ran a kick back for a TD. Baltimore's offense never took the field until 3:21 remained in the first quarter- they had a 96-yard TD drive before the half, but the 27 first half points is a little misleading.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Rob Manfred will be next baseball commissioner; other than that, I know zero about the guy. It took him six votes of MLB teams to get the necessary 23 of 30 teams to vote for him; it was 20-10 after one vote, then 22-8 after three, before supposedly the Nationals got tired of being there and voted for Manfred so they could go home (votes took 4.5 hours).
Tampa Bay/Milwaukee were said to be two teams that flipped to get Manfred up to 22 votes. He’s going to be replacing former used car salesman Allen H Selig, someone who loves baseball, owned a team and did his best to improve the game; pretty tough act to follow.
12) Media whining about “pace of game” has gotten old quickly; do these two things and you lop 13-15 minutes off every game, immediately:
a) Ban managers/pitching coaches from ever visiting the mound during an inning, except for injuries and......
b) Cut 30 seconds per half inning of TV commercials; this has as much chance of happening as I have of dating Pamela Anderson, but it is one of the main reasons games take longer, the commercial breaks are longer.
11) Was watching old Florida-Alabama SEC title game late Thursday night on the new SEC Network; eerie watching Aaron Hernandez playi for the Gators, while announcers gushed about “…..what a great pro player this kid is going to be.”
10) Washington Nationals have won their last 11 games at Citi Field; they held the Mets to four runs in their 3-game sweep there this week.
9) Took more than a month, but Cubs finally brought Dan Straily to big leagues, hopefully to replace the hideous Edwin Jackson in the starting rotation. Its about freakin’ time. Straily ain't great, but he's better (and cheaper) than Jackson.
8) This is why coaches jump for bigger contracts: former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe will now be analyzing ACC games on TV. He did tough duty at Wake Forest, getting one of the smallest schools in I-A football to the Orange Bowl game, a miracle of Bill Snyder-esque proportions, but eventually the Deacons didn’t win enough and he got shown the door, seven years after he turned down the Nebraska job.
It takes loyalty to turn Nebraska down and stay at Wake Forest, at least in football; Grobe is a terrific coach and would be a good option for someone next season.
7) Justin Simon, a California PG who has committed to Arizona, will spend his last year of high school at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, a major weather downgrade. Why do kids do this? How does it help them?
He’s already got his scholarship for next year, why give up your last year of being a kid to play prep ball in New Hampshire? I’m sure there’s an excellent reason (play against better competition, maybe get better coaching) but it seems like sometimes, kids just grow up too soon.
6) Brian Hoyer is starting at QB Monday night for Cleveland; he and Johnny Manziel will play two series at a time, alternating playing with the first team OL.
5) Have Troy Tulowitzki and/or Carlos Gonzalez played their last games for the Rockies? They have this year; both are getting operated on, are finished for this season. Been a brutal year for Walt Weiss in Denver; makes you appreciate the job Clint Hurdle did there more and more.
4) Why are the Chargers/Cardinals playing in the last preseason game, then again in the season opener? What genius made that schedule?
3) In 1976, Clemson's weight room cost $250,000 to build. Alabama's new weight room costs $9 million.
2) Thursday night in St Louis, umpire Bob Davidson called the tying run out at the plate in the top of the 8th inning on a close play, but then IMMEDIATELY went to the kid with the replay headphones to ask for a review.
I thought he called the runner out for going out of the baseline—the catcher missed the tag, and replay people let the out call stand, so that had to be it, but the San Diego announcers were outraged and never broached that possibility. Was huge play in the game, for sure and St Louis wound up winning 4-3.
1) Injured pitcher Matt Harvey has to be driving the Mets nuts; he keeps saying he wants to pitch this year, their medical people say he should take it slow (another Met, Jeremy Hefner, re-injured his arm this month and needs another surgery) after Tommy John surgery, but Harvey seems like a spoiled brat who won’t shut up—he did a radio interview during a Met game, saying how he was throwing 95 and was almost ready.
Manager Terry Collins, whose ultimate job security will rely greatly on Harvey’s ongoing good health, apparently told the kid to put a sock in it, but then admitted to the media that Harvey can pretty much do what he wants, they can’t watch him 24 hours a day. Oy.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here.......
13) On Monday, there was an article online about Eldrick Woods lobbying to be on the Ryder Cup team; on Wednesday, he announced his golf was done until December for medical reasons. Alrighty then, the old “You can’t fire me, I quit!!!” tactic.
Saves Tom Watson the trouble of not picking Eldrick when it comes time to choose up sides for one of the most overrated events of any year, the Ryder Cup.
12) If every Bronx Bomber game ended after the 5th inning, they’d be 63-38-18 this season. But games are nine innings and they’re 61-58; is it all the bullpen’s fault? Without knowing exact numbers, I’m guessing their late-inning offense is very poor, they don’t tack on to leads, so they lose a lot of close games. They’ll be better next year when they get ARod back.
11) Why did the Lions hire Jim Caldwell as their coach? Seriously, they couldn’t come up with a better candidate than him? If I was a Lion fan, one playoff win in 50 years would be frustrating, but hiring this guy, who couldn’t win with Payton Manning under center, who went 26-63 in eight years at Wake Forest, that would be a big problem for me.
10) Rutgers at Washington State on August 30 is a very long road trip for the Scarlet Knights (Rutgers is in New Jersey); they opened at Fresno State LY, so they must have a big travel budget. Wonder how many times I’ll look for Rutgers in the AAC section before I get it ingrained in my head that they’re in the Big 14 now.
9) Saturday is National Rollercoaster Day. One of the things in life I like least are rollercoasters. Seriously. Scare the hell out of me. Ever see the movie Shakedown, with Sam Elliott/Peter Weller? Rollercoaster goes into the ocean at the end? Have not been on one since I saw that movie. All I think about when I’m on one is how many ways it could go off the tracks and kill me. No bueno.
8) Baseball injury updates: Manny Machado is on the DL with a sprained knee he injured while swinging a bat in a game. Weird thing. Texas put Yu Darvish on the DL; Troy Tulowitzki is done for the year after hip surgery; first they spell his name wrong on his giveaway t-shirt, then he gets hurt and is gone for the year. Rough year for the Rockies.
7) Looks like the Mets will bring manager Terry Collins back next year; he can’t get over .500 with the Mets but keeps his job longer than he did with Houston or the Angels, where he was seldom under .500. Go figure.
6) Cincinnati transfer Jermaine Lawrence is eligible immediately at Manhattan, where he is expected to be a big addition to Steve Masiello’s team.
5) Arizona Diamondbacks played a doubleheader in Cleveland on Wednesday, won the nightcap in extra innings, then flew to Miami and got in at 3:39am. Not every day is glamorous for a pro athlete.
4) When the Atlanta Hawks traded Pete Maravich to the New Orleans Jazz, they got back two journeyman players and five draft picks, two of whom became David Thompson and Alex English, both Hall of Fame players. Problem for Atlanta was that neither Thompson or English ever played for the Hawks; Thompson signed with the ABA’s Nuggets, English was traded to Milwaukee. Whoops.
3) Tennessee Volunteers haven't played in a bowl game since 2010; they've had four head coaches the last seven years. Butch Jones will get it done in Knoxville, if he is given enough time. Not a lot of patient people in the SEC.
2) Louisville Cardinals are 15-29 vs spread at home since Bobby Petrino left there for Arkansas after the '06 season; now he is back with the Cardinals-- can he get Louisville back to being a dominant home team, as they move up to the ACC?
1) University of Texas gave alum/former NFL QB Vince Young a $100K a year job as a fund raiser, proving that if you win a national title for the Longhorns, you are indeed set for life. He works in community outreach, meaning he is going to shake a lot of boosters' hands in the coming years.
Thursday's List of 13: Idle thoughts on a summer day......
13) ESPN.com ran an interesting article about how colleges are so impatient with coaches now; Mike Krzyzewski went 38-47 in his first three years at Duke and he replaced a guy (Bill Foster) who had been in the Final Four two years earlier. If that were today, would Coach K have been fired? He definitely would’ve been on the hot seat going into Year 4.
12) Former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is the offensive coordinator at Rutgers, which will help the Scarlet Knights a lot. Smart guy, should still be a head coach.
11) Someone wrote an article this week asking how many more points would Pete Maravich have scored in college if he played in the era with the 3-point shot?
He averaged 44+ a game at LSU, in a game with no shot clock or 3-pointer. Well, Pistol Pete was a much better version of Jimmer Fredette; a great shooter, fancy ballhandler, great fun to watch, but the SEC he played in was largely devoid of African-American players who would have done a better job of containing him.
LSU lost 101-79 to Al McGuire’s Marquette team in the NIT, a team with New York City playground players on it; no way does he come close to 44 a game in today’s game, even with the 3-point shot.
10) Within an hour of the PGA tournament ending, I got an e-mail from New Era hat company, selling Ryder Cup team hats from Team USA.
Um, no thanks; wonder how many of those they sell. I have a great baseball cap collection, but won’t be adding one of those it.
9) Major league leaders in pitches seen per at bat: Mike Napoli 4.49, Mike Trout 4.45, Brett Gardner 4.45, Carlos Santana 4.37.
8) Sounds more and more like the Raiders could be moving back to Los Angeles; with Donald Sterling out of the picture, Raiders are the most dysfunctional sports franchise in America. Hard to believe if you're my age.
7) Baltimore Orioles have a better road record (35-24) than they do at home (34-26). Whatever they’re paying Buck Showalter, it ain’t enough.
6) I was a student manager for our basketball team in college; fun job, but I once rebounded for a guy who made 102 foul shots in a row at the end of practice. No bueno. Not only that, but he didn’t talk while shooting, so I basically held my hand under the basket, caught the ball out of the net and flipped it back to him in silence over and over for like an hour, and God forbid if it was a bad pass back.
Miss those days; going to practice every day really was great fun.
5) Parts of Long Island got over 10 inches of rain Tuesday; TEN!!!!! Town of Islip almost exceeded its record monthly rainfall in one day. Yikes.
4) Since 2009, Justin Verlander has thrown 22,918 pitches, most of any major league pitcher. He may be paying the price for that now, with a sore shoulder.
3) Nationals’ OF Jayson Werth got a citation for driving 105 mph in a 55 mph zone. Not sure what his defense would be for that one; how did they catch him?
2) I’m a firm believer than time/money management skills should become an integral part of a kid’s high school education. It’s the most important thing we do; manage time and money. Why don’t we teach kids how to do it, instead of the some of the less-useful stuff we do teach?
1) Everett Golson was officially named Notre Dame’s #1 QB for this season, as a stupidly-run charade finally plays out. Kid was their QB two years when they got drilled by Alabama in the national title game; you don’t think he was getting his job back this year? Hogwash.
They let the kid hang out to dry for a while, now they expect him to win games again, so they can continue to pocket a fortune from NBC. But they’ll tell you they’re not a football factory.
If Notre Dame isn’t a football factory, I’m not bald. End of story.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) RIP Robin Williams, one of the all-time greats. It is tragic that someone who made others smile so much couldn’t be happy himself. Just very goddamn sad.
12) Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite movies; I’ve used my favorite quote from there on this site a couple times “Do whats in your heart, son. You’ll be fine.” Its something I think about often. RIP, sir.
11) Brady Quinn’s TV career didn’t last long; he signed on with the Dolphins as backup Matt Moore is banged-up now. Quinn was on a couple rosters LY but has not played in a real game since 2012.
10) Revel Casino in Atlantic City is closing September 10; you wonder if New Jersey will use legalized sports betting as a way to pump up their sagging casino industry? If legal sports betting ever takes hold in the east, it’ll be good to get in on the ground floor—lot of money to be had there.
9) Speaking of New Jersey, Governor Christie was at an A’s game in Oakland over the weekend, sitting behind the home dugout. Guess he had a $10,000 a plate fund raiser in San Francisco. Must be a hell of a lunch for $10K.
8) ESPN’s website points out that Andrew Luck, in his first two NFL seasons, has a 14-2 record in games decided by a touchdown or less, one of the five best two-year stretches in NFL history.
Peyton Manning has three of the other four, with former Cardinal QB Jim Hart having the other when he played for Don Coryell in the 70’s.
7) Two-sport athlete Amir Garrett has finally given up college hoop to devote himself to baseball full-time. Garrett played two years at St John’s, then transferred to Cal-Northridge, but he won’t play there. He is in the Reds’ system, and is 6-6, 3.41 in 22 starts in the Class A Midwest League this season.
6) Cleveland Browns cut 3rd-string QB Tyler Thigpen, signed Rex Grossman, kind of an odd move; they swear they’re not going to trade Brian Hoyer, but why bring Grossman in as a 3rd-stringer? Grossman was on the Redskins, so he does know Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
5) Thought of this today, for no real reason: there used to be an NBA player named Dwayne Schintzius, who was 7-1, played in college at Florida. He played eight years in the NBA as a bench player, was apparently a surly guy.
One day he got asked one too many times “How’s the weather up there?” referring to his height, so Schintzius replied “It’s raining” and spit on the guy. Really, he did.
4) Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson has onions; he’s starting a true freshman QB this fall. Hard to win at that level with a kid who was in high school at this time last year. Curious to see the young man play. The great majority of freshman football players red-shirt, meaning they don’t play the first year to beef up and get more mature, but still have four years left to play. Very few true freshman QBs begin the season as a starter.
3) David Price's first two starts with Detroit lasted a total of 31 innings.
2) New Orleans Saints have training camp this year at the Greenbrier resort, where Nick Faldo has a home; the British golf great was giving Sean Payton golf tips at Tuesday's practice and apparently used his soccer skills to nail a 35-yard FG.
1) 59 years ago today, my parents got married during a hurricane; without them, you're not reading this article right now. My mother passed away in 2004, my dad is hanging in there, rooting for the Mets every night. Cherish every day you have with your loved ones; life is too damn short.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) College sports is very big business.
Maryland was supposed to pay $52M in exit fees to leave the ACC for the Big 14 conference, but sides negotiated a deal and the final tab appears to be $31,361,788, so that’s a 39.7% discount for the Terrapins. Will be odd to see them playing Midwestern schools; the move hasn’t worked well for West Virginia in either sport, we’ll see how Maryland makes out with it.
12) American League has a 132-109 edge in interleague play this season; this is how home field advantage in the World Series should be decided, not by who wins the All-Star Game.
11) NFL coaches look at the second and (especially) third preseason games as dress rehearsals for the season opener. The first games are tryouts for the bottom of the depth chart; the fourth is a cash grab from season ticket holders- those games are mostly a farce. These next two weeks, the games have a little more meaning.
10) Tyler Johnstone, Oregon’s starting left tackle, tore his ACL and is out for the year, bad news for the Ducks and their fine QB, Marcus Mariota.
9) Indiana’s hoop team lost 109-101 to a team from Ottawa on its exhibition tour of Canada; losing doesn’t matter much, but scoring 101 points and losing is alarming, unless Tom Crean suddenly morphed into Paul Westhead, which is doubtful. Play some defense!!!!
8) USC LB Jacob Ruffin tore his knee up and is done for the year, reducing USC’s “recruited athletes” to 65. Not sure if that means scholarship athletes or what, but Trojans are dangerously thin as they start the Steve Sarkisian era.
7) TV ratings for the PGA Championship Sunday were the highest they’ve been in five years, good news for a CBS announce crew that was shilling heavily for the Tour Sunday, as a Tiger-less FedEx Cup slate lies ahead.
Losing Eldrick Woods would be damaging, but the sport does have a lot of great players, as Sunday showed.
6) Anyone have a clue what the Phillies are doing? They’ve only traded one person (Roberto Hernandez) away, hardly a big star; do they really think this team can contend in 2015, or is the GM just trying to put off his inevitable firing, as the franchise slides into a down period?
Their nucleus is old and their payroll is high; a very bad combination.
5) At the end of the Cowboy-Charger game Friday, the two QBs playing were alums of those two noted football factories, West Texas State and Southern Utah; that’s what training camp is all about, guys getting their chance to impress.
4) Odd situation at the end of the Saints-Rams game Friday; St Louis had the ball and was going to spike the ball to kick a 48-yard FG to win but QB Austin Davis fumbled the snap before he spiked the ball, which makes the spiked pass intentional grounding, which has a 0:10 runoff and a 5-yard penalty.
Since the spike happened with 0:11 left, Rams had to rush to get the now 53-yard FG off and it missed, so the Saints won 27-26. This would’ve been a debacle had it been a regular season game, but then again, Rams would’ve had their regular long snapper in and might not have missed.
3) Lovie Smith has already earned his paycheck for this year; Tampa Bay Bucs are sold out for the season; no blackouts!!! The Schiano era was depressing for Bucs fans; they should be better with Smith in charge.
2) ESPN.com has a way of measuring defensive performance in baseball; according to them, the Mariners’ defense has been 110 runs better this year than last, that’s a full run per game, part of why they’ve improved and are contending for a Wild Card spot.
1) First week of NFL exhibition games, there were 355 penalties called, 95 of which were either defensive holding, illegal contact or pass interference. Someone needs to tell these people that throwing 800 flags on the defense does not equate to better offense, just more points scored; its horrible to watch.
You want more good offensive plays? Stop calling so much offensive holding, give QB’s time to throw; then you’ll have more points scored and some good highlights to show on TV. No one, I repeat no one, pays to watch a referee throw his flag. Not even Ed Hochuli.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) Toronto's Melky Cabrera was 3-5 with five walks Sunday; he is the first guy since Rod Carew in 1972 in reach base eight times in one game. Odd thing is; even though he got on base eight times, Cabrera didn't score a run. Go figure.
12) Detroit's loss cuts their AL Central lead to a half-game over the Royals. Tigers are 10-14 since the All-Star break.
11) Kansas City is red-hot, winning 15 of last 18 games since starting out 0-4 after the All-Star break.
10) Odd Stat of Day: Since 2001, Padres are 33-12 in Pittsburgh, have won their last 14 series at PNC Park, the longest active streak in MLB.
9) Colorado Rockies won 5-3 in 10 innings at Arizona; getting only their 7th save this season where the saving pitcher didn't allow a baserunner. Mets have eight such saves, the second-least in big leagues.
8) Josh Hamilton hasn't homered in 146 plate appearances in Anaheim this year; he has eight homers on the road. Guy is making $17.4M this season, is owed $92.8M from 2015-2017. Oy.
7) Minnesota rookie Trevor May walked seven without a strikeout in his debut Friday night, a 9-4 loss in Oakland. He only faced fifteen batters after pitching 772 innings of minor league ball, an awful lot of innings for a guy considered to be one of their better prospects. Took May four years to get out of Class A ball, a long time.
6) Lookalikes: golfer Victor Dubuisson and Brad Pitt, especially when they both wear sun visors (Pitt wore visor in spring training scene in Moneyball).
5) Houston Texans lost exhibition opener 32-0 this weekend; coach Bill O'Brien wasn't amused, calling effort "unacceptable". Look for Houston to get overbet this weekend, as handicappers search desperately for an angle to use in these games.
4) NFL needs teams to dress three QBs for every game, making #3 QB an exempt roster spot. If a team loses its starting QB early in the game, it ruins the game, since they have to be ultra-conservative with their #2 guy, if there is no #3 QB, and lot of teams aren't dressing a #3 QB in favor of an extra special teamer.
3) Lot of rumors that the Patriots are showcasing backup QB Ryan Mallett for a trade (Houston would be one of the options) but Mallett hasn't shown that much in his limited play in preseason games to merit a team going after him.
2) I'm thinking CBS needs to let final round of the PGA start earlier on Sunday in future years, so players don't have to run around the last few holes like a couple of guys trying to get 18 holes in after work. Nick Faldo sounded annoyed on TV as officials seemingly made rules up as they went along, trying to get everyone in the clubhouse before darkness settled in. It is a major, after all.
1) Ricky Fowler joined Jack Nicklaus and Eldrick Woods as the only golfers in the modern era to finish top five at all four majors in a single season. He won a total of $2,497,240 for those four weekends, without winning any of them.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) One of many reasons baseball is tremendous are extra inning games that take on a life of their own; it is 3:22am as I type this- Red Sox-Angels are in the 18th inning, in a game where Boston didn't get a hit until the 7th inning. Rookie catcher Vazquez has caught the whole game for the Red Sox, 257 pitches worth.
Now, on with the already-written notes for today...........
12) Washington-Atlanta game went extra innings after starting just before 11pm because of rain; they play the Sunday night game, so there won't be the hangover there has to be for the Red Sox-Angels Sunday afternoon (this game is still going on and tomorrow's game starts in 12.5 hours).
11) Nationals are 1-7 in Stephen Strasburg's last eight road starts.
10) Mets have 23 walk-off losses the last two years, most in MLB (Sox-Angels just went to the 19th inning).
9) Surprising stat; David Wright has the worst OPS of any #3 hitter in the major leagues this season. OPS is slugging percentage plus on-base percentage.
8) Baltimore Orioles are 15-7 since All-Star break, lead AL East by six games. Caleb Joseph has homered in five straight games; all-time record is seven. Before the last five games, Joseph had three HRs in 156 PAs- big year for the Orioles.
7) Albert Pujols just hit a walk-off homer to the opposite field in the 19th inning off of Brandon Workman; both teams wound up using starting pitchers. He hit it at roughly 3:38am, so it was after midnight, even in Anaheim.
6) Ricky Fowler (-29) has the best aggregate score in the four majors this year; Rory McIlroy (-24) is second, as expected.
5) Speaking of golf, CBS announcer Peter Kostis apparently has two sons; kids' godfather is Franz Klammer, world champion skiier. Talk about worlds colliding.
4) Cleveland Indians are 24-37 on road, 7-6 when Cory Kluber pitches. Kluber has a 0.68 ERA since All-Star break-- he is very good.
3) Eric Sogard walked four times for the A's tonight, first time ever a 9th-place hitter for the A's walked four times in one game. Minnesota's pitching coach has to be sick; as much as I root for Sogard (I've worn glasses since I was 4), he is hitting .214-- you can't walk a .214 hitter four times in a week, much less one game.
2) Padres-Pirates split pair of 2-1 games the last two nights; all six runs scored in the first inning. Go figure.
1) Jets have a tight end named Jace Amaro who caught 106 passes for Texas Tech LY; NFL offenses are different than what Kliff Kingsbury runs, but catching 106 balls as a tight end? If he can block at all, he'll have a job next month.
Saturday's List of 13: Its strange the things you remember....
13) I had braces when I was a teenager; just remember how surly my orthodontist was, how he’d snap at his hygienist. She seemed so unhappy being there—the guy was a creep. But he was an Irish creep and my mother knew his mother from church- she liked all things/people Irish, so I got stuck going to this guy who used to tell me “That doesn’t hurt” when he would tighten my braces. It hurt like hell, even if I was a soft suburban kid.
12) I remember that racetracks never had telephones; when we went to Saratoga in August, you couldn’t get ball scores or talk to anyone on the outside while we were there. What percentage of people there today have cellphones with them? 85%? 90%? More than that?
11) I remember my 9th grade math teacher was Mr Terzian; good teacher, really smart guy, little spacy. Looked a lot like Pete Carril, the old Princeton basketball coach. One day he comes into class and asks if anyone found a golf club on the football field. Turns out he was whacking around golf balls and left his driver on the 50-yard line. No bueno. Driving range would’ve been cheaper than losing his driver.
10) In 1974-75, Bronx Bombers played home games at Shea Stadium, because their ballpark was being remodeled. I was 15; I went on a bus trip with some friends for a Bat Day game with the Royals. All kids 16 and under got a bat for free; well, all kids but me. Jerk at the turnstile didn’t believe I was 15 because I was very tall for my age; because I was 15, I didn’t have anything to prove my age, so I never got a bat. Like money for the bat was coming out of the jerk's pocket. Rat bastard.
9) I remember Larry Brown coaching in the ABA while wearing overalls; even found a picture of it on the Internet last month. He is the reason NBA coaches have a dress code. 38 years later and Brown is still coaching at SMU, albeit in college and in a suit jacket, not overalls.
8) Because of this website, I once watched a Chiefs-Giants preseason game in the press box at Giants Stadium; was weird sitting there by myself watching, but they have free food in the press room before/after the game and at halftime. I’m in the food line, and former Chiefs’ QB Len Dawson is right behind me.
Two things; a) He’s a lot bigger than I thought he was.......
b) Why the hell am I in front of Len Dawson in the food line?
He played in two of the first four Super Bowls; he should eat before me.
7) 30 years ago I was an official scorer for a minor league team in the Eastern League. Guy who typed in messages on the scoreboard sat next to me all summer; nice enough guy. After the season, I find out the guy turned himself into the FBI because the mob had put a hit out on him, for unknown (to me) reasons.
Geez, what if they took a shot at him and hit me instead? Being an official scorer wasn’t much fun to begin with (stats are serious business) but this was ridiculous.
6) I was lucky enough to be an assistant basketball coach at Schenectady High for eight years; the school Pat Riley went to. Early in my third year there, our head coach was talking to the kids about “…when you play for a state championship”.
This for a team that had won a combined nine games the previous two seasons. I’m thinking if we could win one sectional game it would be a great accomplishment. Turns out the coach was truly a great coach and three years later, we won a state championship, then three years after that, won another one.
One of the great experiences of my life, but I’ll always remember how he saw the future clearly when it seemed impossible for something like that to happen.
5) When I was in 8th grade, I missed a foul shot with game tied and 0:01 left; we lost in double OT and even though it was the best game I played that year, I was the goat, no doubt. Our team finished 1-13, not a lot of fun.
Years later, I wound up shooting free throws for beer after third quarter of a CBA game in Albany. Can’t remember if Phil Jackson or George Karl was coaching the Albany Patroons back then, but one of them saw me make four foul shots (out of 7) in 0:24, netting me four cases of beer, which I unsuccessfully tried to trade for soda.
Would’ve traded all four cases of beer for that foul shot in 8th grade to have gone in.
4) I remember that before ESPN, before the shot clock, before Coach K, Duke once led North Carolina 7-0 at halftime. Of a basketball game. Kids today have no idea how tedious basketball could be without a shot clock.
3) I remember the first time I saw Steve Martin on TV; still the funniest guy I’ve ever seen. He was on the Tonight Show when the Tonight Show was a huge deal, it was the early 70’s and Buddy Hackett was the guest host.
White suit and all, he did his classic comedy routine and I was hooked for life. What a brilliant guy and a good actor, too.
2) My cousin took me to a comedy club in Manhattan in 1978, the same night Pete Rose’s 44-game hitting streak ended, that I remember. Pat Benatar sang that night; she was an up-and-comer back then. The MC was Richard Belzer, who now plays Detective Munch on the SVU show on TV; I was terrified he was going to pick on me in the audience, unaware that the people he was jousting with in the crowd were plants, his friends. Catch a Rising Star was the place; I was 18, it was great fun.
1) Some days are better than others; on a Monday ten years ago, friend of mine set it up so I would meet Kurt Warner at Giants’ training camp, which was a great moment. There is a picture of the two of us in my living room; he looks happier than me in the pic but no way he was.
Anyway, while I was waiting to meet Kurt, I was talking to this writer who was in from New Orleans to do a feature on Eli Manning, who was a rookie that year- they both went to Newman HS in New Orleans.
Writer was Michael Lewis; you may have heard of him—he wrote Moneyball. So a guy who roots like hell for the Rams/A’s met Kurt Warner and the guy who wrote Moneyball in the same hour. On a Monday afternoon in Albany.
Sometimes, you just never know.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here........
13) So the new GM of the San Diego Padres went to Cornell; good grief. Now you have to be an Ivy Leaguer to run a big league ballclub, as if that matters. By the way, the best GM in baseball didn’t go to college until offseasons during his playing career-- Billy Beane.
I think of the three smartest people I know; they went to St Francis, UAlbany and Fairleigh Dickinson, none of which are in the freakin’ Ivy League. Enough already.
12) Unusual that Seattle-Denver is the first preseason game, after the teams met in the Super Bowl six months ago. Due to geographic proximity, they’ll play each other most summers. Just thought it might be a TV game later this month.
11) Pretty cool that the Harbaugh brothers got to face each other in a more relaxed setting than a Super Bowl, as Ravens-49ers played last night. Long road trip for a preseason game. I’m guessing the family might’ve enjoyed this one a little more than when the brothers’ teams met in New Orleans 18 months ago.
10) Kevin Love goes to Cleveland, agrees to re-sign with Cavaliers next summer, virtually clinching that Cleveland starts the season as the favorite in the East. City of Cleveland hasn’t won a title in any sport since 1964; that could change soon.
9) Do you think texting has hurt people's writing skills? Have to find a teacher and ask them; there is so much shorthand on IPhones and spell check on computers, and writing is so important, just hope people's writing skills haven't eroded.
8) How football has changed: 26 years ago, 1988, Barry Sanders’ last six games at Oklahoma State: 218 carries (36.3/game), 1,694 yards (282.3 ypg, 7.8 ypc).
He also returned 11 kicks, six punts, but during those six games, he caught only 10 passes for 67 yards. Nowadays at most schools (except Boston College) running backs have to catch the ball out of the backfield. It lessens the amount of big hits they take and also gets them ready for the pros.
7) I mentioned Boston College because BC’s Andre Williams (now a Giant) didn’t catch one pass last year, in a season where he carried the ball 355 times. Not one!!! Old-school football. Giants can only hope he’s close to as good as Sanders was.
6) Matt Kuchar dropped out of PGA tourney with a bad back; John Huh replaced him in the field. Despite being the #6 player in the world, Kuchar’s absence didn’t cause much of a ripple; have to named Eldrick to get any publicity for that.
5) I’m not crazy about Little League tournament games being on TV; it’s a lot to put on 11-12 year olds. Some kid fouls up and costs his team the game, he has to live in that town for at least the next 6-7 years, maybe the rest of his life. Can be tough. Its not going to go away, because it can make for compelling TV, but to me, its just not a great idea for the kids themselves.
4) President of College of Charleston is under personal pressure to hire a minority basketball coach, because of the perception that he may be a racist. Charleston fired Doug Wojcik because he apparently bullied everyone in the program verbally.
President has had his picture taken in a confederate soldier’s uniform, has been quoted as being in favor of flying the Confederate flag, just the kinds of things you DON’T want if you’re trying to recruit basketball players, majority of whom are African-American.
Weird situation; the search committee that recommended a new President didn’t recommend that this guy get the job, but he got hired anyway, so the perception is Charleston will need a minority coach to offset all that on the recruiting trail.
3) Turns out Brian Scalabrine got ousted as a Golden State assistant coach last winter because he didn’t think Mark Jackson pushed the players hard enough and he said so; he then went to the D-League as a player development coach but didn’t like that less-glamorous lifestyle, so now Scalabrine does road games on TV for Celtics.
2) This time of year, there is too much media, not enough news. Every time Johnny Manziel sneezes it gets reported and then ten ex-players comment on how well he blows his nose. Thank God the exhibition games are starting so there is real news to report, real games, and we can see Manziel play football instead of rolling $20 bills in a men’s room somewhere.
1) We said yesterday how football coaches can lead a nomadic existence: here is how Denver coach John Fox worked his way into the NFL, the career path he took:
1978-- San Diego State
1979-- US International
1980-- Boise State
1981-- Long Beach State
1984-- Iowa State
1985-- LA Express in the USFL
1986-88-- Pittsburgh....first NFL job with Steelers in 1989
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Kevin Durant’s $60M, seven-year Nike contract just ended; Durant is from Maryland, which is where Under Armour is located. There are rumors afoot that they’re ready to pay Durant much more than the $19M he’s going to make from the Thunder next season. Yikes.
12) Most popular place in the Las Vegas airport was the hallway with all the electrical outlets, where everyone was re-charging their electronic devices. It was more crowded than the food court.
11) Baseball teams who walk more batters than they strike out lose roughly 70% of time. There have been only three or four games all season where both teams walked more than they struck out; two of them happened on the same day last week.
10) Mike Tyson will be guest-starring on Franklin & Bash this summer, as TNT tries to add some punch to its late night ratings.
9) Former NFL lineman Jordan Gross retired last January; since then, he’s lost about 70 pounds. Former Cowboys’ GM Gil Brandt posted a pic of he and Gross on Twitter, said he almost didn’t recognize him when he saw Gross at Wofford, where the Panthers have training camp.
8) Adam Dunn has 457 career homers; if he got to 520 or so homers, would he get any Hall of Fame support? Dunn pitched an inning Tuesday; he now ranked sixth on the HR list for players who also pitched in the big leagues. Babe Ruth obviously leads the list but Ted Williams is on there too.
7) If you don’t like summer, know that the Celtics play their first exhibition game October 6 against the 76ers, a mere 60 days from now. Actually, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like summer, but the NBA is still closer than you think.
6) So you’d like to be an NFL coach? Dan Quinn is Seattle’s defensive coordinator, a very good one, but this is the first time in 10 years he’s lived in the same city three years in a row. He’ll probably be moving next year, when he becomes an NFL head coach. Football coaches often lead a nomadic existence.
5) Cubs’ prospect Javier Baez went 1-10 in his first two major league games, but the one hit was a game-winning homer in the 12th inning Tuesday. Cubs are taking an interesting road; all their top prospects are position players. All this time I thought pitching was the most important element in baseball.
4) Grantland.com posted a table that shows since 2002, 18 NFL QBs have started 25+ games in their first two seasons, with very mixed results. I still think sitting and watching for at least part of one season is the wisest way to go, but no one asked me. If they did, I'd suggest the Browns let Johnny Manziel watch and learn for a year or so, before throwing him to the wolves.
3) One last word about Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, that I forgot to mention yesterday: How can an NFL team draft a franchise QB who didn’t know who the other teams in the AFC East are? Seriously, on Hard Knocks last summer, Tannehill told backup QB Matt Moore he knew almost nothing about pro football. That would raise a red flag for me, a really big, bright red flag.
2) There is a kid pitching in the Cape Cod League named Ryan Perez who is ambidextrous; last guy in major leagues to pitch with both hands was Greg Harris, who had a special glove he could put on either hand. .
1) Lot of preseason football on the docket tonight; be careful how much you wager on these meaningless games, played by guys, some of whom will be working for FedEx or tending bar next month. Sometimes it is better to just sit and watch.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) August is a great month to watch NFL Network; they’ll have replays of every exhibition game, with one team’s announcers for each half.
Except for Dave Pasch/Ron Wolfley with Cardinal games, announcers are mostly mute button material- they shill for season tickets sales a lot and generally provide no information, but the games are fun to watch.
Curious to see OLs with Dolphins/Giants and also obviously Johnny Manziel, will be interesting to track, just because we get to see him play ball instead of cavorting all over America.
12) There are seven new head coaches this year, though five of them have been HCs in college/pros before—only Mike Zimmer/Mike Pettine have not, but there are also 11 new offensive coordinators. Deciphering who will be aggressive/conservative is an interesting task if you’re involved in handicapping or fantasy football.
11) You don’t think baseball is a mental game? Oakland’s Steven Vogt was 10 for his last 32 before the Price-Cespedes trade, which cleared a few more AB’s so Vogt could be a regular bat in the lineup, but he is 0-14 since the trade. No bueno.
10) Bronx Bombers’ last 16 games were all decided by either one or two runs, longest such streak in major leagues since 1975.
9) Battle 4 Atlantis on November 26 (day before Thanksgiving) has Oklahoma-UAB, Florida-Georgetown, Oklahoma-UCLA and North Carolina-Butler are first round matchups. At quick glance, UAB-Butler figures to be the 7th place game, but you never know about second round consolation games.
8) Washington-Gonzaga are re-starting their basketball series, starting in two years; Zags have gotten so good, it helps the Huskies just to play them.
7) David Price/Jon Lester took out full-page ads in local newspapers, thanking fans and their old clubs following last week’s trades. Classy move by both guys.
6) Atlanta Falcons are on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer; you see things in that show the casual fan doesn’t normally get to see, which makes it interesting. Not sure there is anything about the Falcons themselves that will make the show unique, but no one thought that about LY’s Dolphins either. Go figure.
5) Cleveland Browns are 1-14 in season openers since they started up playing again in 1999, and 14 of those 15 games were at home. Browns beat Baltimore 20-3 in ’04 for their only 1-0 start in 15 years- they open in Pittsburgh this year. Steelers beat them 43-0/34-7 only two times they’ve met on Opening Day.
4) Houston Texans go to Oakland in Week 2, an early Matt Schaub Bowl. Schaub had a brutal season as Houston’s QB last season; now he gets to play against his old team, as he tries to revive his career.
3) New England was favored in its last ten road openers, going 7-3 SU, 6-4 against the spread. Pats are favored by 3.5 points at Miami in Week 1.
2) Big rumor (pipe dream?) in Boston media this week is that Red Sox will try, at some point, to package Yoenis Cespedes in a deal to get Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins, who were ther only team besides Oakland to bid for Cespedes when he first came here from Cuba.
1) In light of Andrew McCutchen's rib injury, next time the Pirates play Arizona could be very interesting, seeing how the D'backs drilled McCutchen on purpose.
Tuesday's List of 13: NFL knowledge for a Tuesday........
13) Houston Texans lost nine games LY by 7 or less points; they never won another game after a 2-0 start. With a new coach/new QB this year, Houston is currently favored in four of its first six games and is expected to bounce back big-time in 2014.
12) New England was 0-4 as a road favorite LY, after being 33-18-2 from 2004-12; they’ve been plus in turnovers eight years in a row and are +79 in turnovers over last four regular seasons, thanks to having an all-time great QB. Over last decade, Patriots are 16-7-1 vs spread as an underdog.
11) Bengals signed Andy Dalton to six-year, $115M contract last weekend; over last four years, Cincy is 22-10 vs spread in game following a wiu, 11-14-4 following a loss. Bengals are 30-18 SU the last three years, an excellent stretch, but pressure is on to win a playoff game or two this year.
10) Yards per point tracks how opportunistic teams are; the lower the better. Denver ranked #1/#2 in NFL in this important stat the last two years, after ranking #21/#23 in the two years before Peyton Manning came to town. Chiefs improved from #27 to #2 in defensive YPP in Andy Reid’s first season in Kansas City LY.
9) Speaking of the Chiefs, they were +18 in turnovers LY after being -24 the year before, a humongous improvement that resulted them improving in wins from 2 to 11- they also improved in sacks from 27 to 47. Normally there is regression after such a huge improvement; will be interesting to track the Chiefs this year.
8) Andy Reid’s old team, the Eagles were -14/-24 in turnovers in Reid’s last two years there but improved to +12 LY and also led the NFL in rushing yards, which is why they won a lot more game in Chip Kelly’s first season.
Sometimes change is good. One thing that still needs to change; over last four years, Iggles are 9-23 at home against the spread.
7) Patriots (21) have most returning starters back from LY, followed by Eagles and Chargers, both with 20.
6) NFC East and NFC South have both had three different champs the last three years; Packers-Patriots-Broncos have all won their divisions each of last three years.
5) In Rex Ryan’s first two years as Jets’ coach, they were 20-12, going +1/+9 in turnovers; they were -3 in their 8-8 season in 2011, then regressed to an awful -14/-14 the last two years, when they went 14-18. LY could be explained away by having a rookie QB playing most of the time, but if Ryan wants a 7th year wearing Jets’ green, he needs to get that turnover ratio back in the black.
4) Giants allowed only 20 sacks in 2012, despite having an immobile Manning at QB; that number doubled LY, their turnover ratio went from +14 to -15 in a hideous season that cost OC Kevin Gilbride his job (you really think the guy retired??? Really?) New OC McAdoo will get Big Blue playing faster and throwing safer passes, to increase Eli’s completion percentage while reducing his sacks/turnovers.
3) Over last decade, Miami Dolphins are 14-35 vs spread when favored, though they are a decent 7-7 as home favorites the last three years. Fish have been minus in turnovers five years in a row, allowed 58 sacks LY in a bizarre season where almost the entire OL turned over during the year. Their chemistry has to be better this year, you just wonder if Tannehill is the right QB for the job; after watching Hard Knocks last summer, I wondered why they liked the guy so much. Friend of mine knows and likes Joe Philbin so we wish him well; this is a pivotal year for him
2) Buffalo Bills haven’t been to the playoffs since 1999; they haven’t been favored in an AFC East road game since 2008. Bills are 5-15-1 vs spread as a road dog the last three years, are 10-18 in last 28 games as a non-divisional road dog.
Is EJ Manuel the QB to make them a contender? You have to love their receivers, but receivers don’t help much without a solid passer getting them the ball.
1) Dallas Cowboys finished 8-8 last three years in a row; LY was first time in eight years they finished outside the top 10 in passing yardage (#14). Turnover ratio does not seem to matter as much with Dallas- they go 8-8 no matter what their ratio is, but they allowed 415 yards per game LY, worst in NFL- they’ve been #27/#22 against the run the last two years. Unless they shore those numbers up, its going to be another mediocre-at-best autumn for America’s Team.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Been a long week; started it in Las Vegas, ended it watching the first preseason football game of the year. Didn't think I'd see Red Sox trading off their starting pitchers this week; Clay Buchholz is the only starter left from the April rotation.
12) If you care about such things, Cubs' SS prospect Addison Russell, the main piece of the Jeff Samardzija trade, is hitting .293 in AA, with eight honers and five walks in 99 plate appearances.
11) Allen Craig wore #21 in St Louis, but the Red Sox haven't given that number out since Roger Clemens left in 1996, so Craig is wearing #5 in Boston.
10) AJ Burnett threw 131 pitches in a July 23 start against the Giants; in his two starts since, he's allowed 12 runs in only 6.2 innings pitched-- he got tossed from his start Sunday, complaining loudly about balls/strikes.
9) Detroit Tigers scored in every inning Saturday, first team to do that since 2006, only fifth team to do that in the last 35 years.
8) Under is 36-17 at Camden Yards this year, making that hitters' park the best under park in the major leagues this season. Not everything makes sense.
7) Why don't the Dallas Cowboys draft a young QB to develop behind Tony Romo, who is in his 30's now? Also, why do they train in California?
6) Sergio Garcia was a combined -42 in the last three tournaments he played in, but didn't win any of them; he did bank a combined $2,231,510, so hard to feel real bad for him. In his career, Garcia has led four PGA Tour events by 3+ strokes after 54 holes, but didn't win any of them.
5) Sounds like Kings-Sharks will be an outdoor hockey game at the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara next winter. Outdoor NHL games are very popular.
4) Texas Rangers traded for Mike Carp this weekend; he'll be the 55th player they used this season and there are still eight weeks to go this season.
3) Jake Peavy took a no-hitter into the 7th inning Saturday night against the Mets, but fact remains, he is 0-11, 5.28 in his last 17 starts.
2) In seven of first 12 Super Bowls, the team trailing at halftime hadn't scored a point; that has happened only three times in the last 36 Super Bowls.
1) Since Yasiel Puig came to major leagues last June, he, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp all started in the same game only 76 out of a possible 219 games. Kemp hit five home runs this week, most by any Dodger in a week this season.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) I was at the Pro Footballl Hall of Fame in 2001, to see Jack Youngblood and Jackie Slater get inducted; Rams played in the exhibition game that year, so I went to the open practice teams had back then. One of the players I met was Rams' DB Aeneas Williams; we talked for a minute about his chances of getting inducted in the Hall someday-- he's a good guy, was excited to see him get inducted last night.
Will be even better next year, when Orlando Pace and Kurt Warner get in.
12) Seven players were inducted into Pro Football's Hall of Fame; four of the seven didn't play Division I-A football and one of the three who did was a punter.
11) Jon Lester won his first start for Oakland; they showed the last out of his 2008 no-hitter against the Royals. Last out was made by Alberto Callaspo, who is now his teammate with the A's and had a huge hit in Saturday's win.
10) Red Sox plan on using Yoenis Cespedes in right field; tough sun field late in the day. Guess they figure his arm would be a waste in Fenway's short left field.
9) Weird baseball schedule Saturday; only two games at 4:00, with 13 nite games. Strange not having any games on TV early in the afternoon.
8) Armadillo World HQ has a new 48-inch flatscreen, which makes Channel 720 on DirecTV a must-watch; eight screens at once, can keep track of a lot more stuff. Tremendously tremendous.
7) Arizona's star 1B Paul Goldschmidt was supposed to get Friday off, but when the game got ugly late, he entered the game on a double-switch and batted in the 9th inning, when he got drilled on his hand and broke a bone in the hand.
Diamondbacks drilled Pirate star Andrew McCutchen Saturday, even though it was obvious Goldschmidt's plunking was an accident; Pirates outscored Snakes 15-2 in 8th/9th innings last two nights. Arizona's season is a disaster. .
6) Famous actress June Lockhart (Lassie, Lost in Space) recently turned 89; she was at the Dodger game last night, still in her seat in the 10th inning. She has already been in one movie this year and is filming another-- good for her!!!
5) Evan Longoria DH'd Saturday after he banged up his knee Friday in a collision with a lazy umpire behind first base after Longoria's infield hit. Longoria got thrown out going to second on the play with the Rays down 5-3, not a great moment.
4) Astros' 2B Jose Altuve scored from first base last night after an errant pickoff throw, then another error on a throw to third. Straight outta Little League.
3) There is a new McDonald's near my house; it is tremendous; more drive-thru area and they actually trained the kids who worked there!!! Got thru very quickly despite there being four cars in front of me. Well done........
2) Was little bit sad to watch the golf Saturday and hear Ian Baker-Finch hint that Eldrick Woods had given up because he wasn't contending. Forget exactly which euphemism he used, but something to effect that he had lost interest. This was a guy who was unrivaled in his sport and now is just another guy-- if you were owner of a golf-related company, would you pay Woods to endorse your products?
1) Jackasses at FOX/ESPN will wonder why ratings for baseball playoff games are down this fall; it is because they insist on showing every Bronx-Boston game, even though the two teams have a combined record of 105-114. Meanwhile the good teams go largely ignored; you know, teams that will be playing in October.
Just for the record, when the Royals-A's game ended Saturday, the game in Boston was in the top of 7th inning. Mediocre teams playing sloppy baseball; awesome.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Indiana Pacers owe Paul George roughly $79M over the next five seasons; he is their best player, obviously. George broke two bones in his right leg Friday night during a Team USA intrasquad scrimmage at UNLV. Not sure of all the ramifications of this injury, but somebody has some 'splainin' to do, since a basket support where George got hurt is closer to the baseline than in NBA arenas.
12) Derrick Rose has been paid $34M by the Bulls the last two seasons, while he played in ten games, but he is playing for Team USA. Why is this OK? Doesn't an NBA team have the right to veto its players playing? Don't they owe it to their fans to protect the players they pay millions of dollars to? Apparently not.
11) Former NBA Commissioner David Stern recently had a hip replacement; his successor, Adam Silver, now has a giant headache in Indiana.
10) Former UTEP/Auburn hoop coach Tony Barbee is back with John Calipari at Kentucky, taking Rod Strickland's place- the former NBA guard went to USF with Orlando Antigua.
9) Maryland recruit Trayvon Reed won't be admitted to the school after being arrested for assault, petty theft and resisting arrest. Reed is 7-foot-1 and was a top 100 recruit this spring-- he'll find a home somewhere, for sure.
8) Sergio Garcia shot a 61 in Akron Friday, leads by three strokes there. Guy shot a ridiculous 27 on the back nine-- tremendous.
7) Houston Astros are 45-65, 22 games out of first place, but for some reason are raising ticket prices next season. Astros have improved, but only because they've been so pathetic the last couple years. Takes a lot of onions......
6) Anthony Ranaudo did really well in his MLB debut for Boston Friday, but he is rumored to be headed back to AAA, making room for Joe Kelly with the Red Sox. Ranaudo is an LSU alum who will be in a big league rotation next year, for sure.
5) Colorado Rockies have used 14 different starting pitchers; they're 38-43 in games when the top six starters pitched, 6-22 when they used another starter.
4) Angels have done a great job rebuilding their bullpen; what was a sore spot early this season has now allowed only one run in its last 28.1 innings.
3) There are 27 bones, 123 ligaments in a human hand. Just thought you'd like to know. You can learn a lot watching commercials on The Golf Channel.
2) Want to feel old? MTV turned 33 years old this weekend.
1) Good news on my friend's daughter who was stuck in Israel; she is now safe in Greece, will be reunited with her family here Monday in Chicago.
Friday's List of 13: Things to ponder with weekend here.......
13) I was fired up when the A's got Jeff Samardzija last month; wrote a long list in this space, then went to Denny's for breakfast-- at 5:30am, with no sleep. When I was awakened by a flurry of texts Thursday morning, having just come back from Las Vegas the night before,. I was stunned by the Lester/Cespedes trade. Still am.
12) As a longtime A's fan, I know any player who is any good will leave after a few years, but usually they leave on their own, not in the middle of a pennant race. You trade your cleanup hitter for an ace pitcher, it tells me one thing-- they're building a team that can win a short series. Ace pitchers win short series (see J Verlander).
11) So now the A's lack depth in outfield, are loaded on the mound- they brought Sam Fuld in to plug the Crisp/Gentry injury gap in CF, they'll platoon Gomes with Vogt or Reddick in the outfield and they'll probably need to score less since they figure to give up fewer runs. Could still use an upgrade at second base, but I have all the faith in the world in Billy Beane, so while I am stunned, I am not stressed.
10) Word late Thursday was that the A's were going to trade Cespedes after this season anyway, since he is a free agent after 2015. Oakland made the playoffs both years he was on the team-- Cespedes will be missed, like so many others.
9) Sonny Gray might get extra time between starts; A's figure to bring Drew Pomeranz up at some point to become a spot starter. At this rate, Gray is going to shatter his career high in innings pitched and teams are reluctant to let that happen, since that has been identified as a cause of arm injuries.
8) Ton of activity Thursday; Austin Jackson got pulled off the field during an inning in Detroit, when the David Price trade was announced. Don't see that a lot.
7) Lester/Lackey trades mean that I finally get my wish with Boston promoting Anthony Ranaudo to start on the mound Friday night. Still very odd seeing the Red Sox dump salary like they're the Rays or the Pirates.
6) Giancarlo Stanton has eight first-inning homers, most in MLB; all eight have come at home in Miami, a lousy home run park.
5) The "blocking home plate before you have the ball" rule has to go-- there was a total lack of common sense on an 8th inning call in Miami which cost the Marlins the winning runs in a 3-1 loss to Cincinnati. This is how bad the call was- it totally helped ny fantasy team, but it still made me mad, it made the sport look bad. They have to look at this immediately, if not sooner and make some changes.
4) Indians are unveiling a statue of Jim Thome outside their stadium this week; was surprised by this. Think you need to be a Hall of Famer or win a World Series to get yourself a statue, but thats their business.
3) Lost/found department at the New York City transit department has almost 30,000 cellphones waiting to be clained. Yikes.
2) Best wishes to golfer Dustin Johnson, who is taking some time off to deal with a personal issue; Johnson is engaged to Wayne Gretzky's daughter.
1) Memphis Grizzlies hired a mental endurance coach, which I'm assuming is a euphemism for a shrink. I'm guessing Lionel Hollins got a good laugh when he heard that one. Memphis fired him after he won 56 games two years ago-- maybe if they hadn't fired him, they wouldn't have to deal with this endurance hocus-pocus. .
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts frm a tired traveler....
13) Lady gets off an airplane in the Las Vegas airport Wednesday, runs to the slot machines, I mean she sprinted, yelling to her husband, "Darrell!!! Look!!!", like she had never seen slot machines before. Hope Darrell brought a lot of $$ on the trip.
12) A trusting soul reserved a spot in Corcoran's Pub in the airport by putting his wallet on the table, then going to the bar to order a drink. No one touched it, but a couple of people asked about it.
11) Grant Hill gave Duke a $1.25M gift, a million of which went to the athletic department; who doesn't have an extra $1.25M laying around?
10) If you look at all the starting pitchers in baseball history who threw 20+ innings in a World Series, the #4 ERA (0.87) belongs to Babe Ruth.
9) Memo to Oakland: Tommy Milone is better than Jason Hammel, I don't care who they traded to get Hammel, he's been awful for the A's.
8) Red Sox traded lefty pitcher Felix Doubrant to the Cubs, in a deadline deal by two last-place teams. Boston probably figures it is addition by subtraction.
7) It is now politicially fashionable to bash the "Redskins" nickname, very safe, since no one has the onions to come out and say the nickname should stay. There is no way everyone thinks the name is offensive-- I don't think it is. Why does the team in Cleveland get to keep "Indians"? Is that any different?
6) I don't like pickles; never have, probably never will. They're awful. Couple of Burger Kings near my house closed, so had my first meal there in a while in the Las Vegas airport-- too damn many pickles on their fish sandwich. Had to pick 'em off.
5) ESPN will televise the Under-17 world hoop championships starting August 8, which shoiuld be good stuff-- see the future college stars playing.
4) There is something disturbing about sitting down to watch a pitcher on your fantasy team pitch, and realizing the home plate ump is CB Bucknor; no bueno.
3) Orioles shut down pitching prosepct Hunter Harvey (elbow) for the season; there are over 30 pitchers on the DL this season, after having Tommy John surgery.
2) Wonder how many people pass thru the Las Vegas airport on an average day? Very efficient operation, from luggage to rental cars.
1) A friend of mine's daughter went to Israel this summer on an archaeolgical dig for her college studies and is now stuck there, as the morons continue to bomb each other until no one is left alive. If they want to kill each other, well go right ahead, but leave the innocent people alone. Am praying for the young lady's safe trip home.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random thoughts as I head home......
13) Tampa Bay can't trade David Price, can they? They're hot as hell, only 4.5 games out of a Wild Card slot- they'd be spitting on their fans if they trade him.
12) A 93-year old water main broke in Westwood, with six inches flooding Pauley Pavilion, UCLA's basketball arena, as water spurted uncontrolled for over three hours. Pauley Pavilion was renovated only two years ago.
11) Cincinnati Reds are 2-9 since All-Star Game; the wins were 1-0/3-0 games, so it is obvious that they really miss Joey Votto/Brandon Phillips.
10) Vin Scully announced last night that he will return next year for his 66th season broadcasting Dodger baseball- he started when Harry Truman was President.
9) San Francisco Giants were shut out four times in Ryan Vogelsong's last five starts; they're now three games behind the Dodgers and fading fast.
8) Rangers lost 12-11 at home, despite JP Arencibia hitting two HRs, knocking in seven runs. He is still hitting only .183 after his 4-5 night.
7) Mets wore camouflage jerseys Monday, bright orange jerseys last night; would be nice if they used as much creativity in trying to upgrade their roster.
6) It bears repeating that two teams bid on Yoenis Cespedes when he was a free agent after coming here from Cuba; the A's and Marlins,. and Miami's offer was 1/3 of Oakland's offer. What would Cespedes get on the open market now?
5) White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers was hitting .219 when he started wearing glasses; he's hitting .395 since he started wearing the spectacles.
4) Red Sox scratched Jon Lester from Wednesday's start, adding speculation he is getting traded. Brandon Workman takes his place in the Boston rotation.
3) Memo to Seattle Seahawk fans: 2005 Patriots are last defending champ to win an NFL playoff game.
2) You know its time to end your Las Vegas vacation when you lose a 16-inning baseball game and the winning pitcher is the other team's backup catcher. John Baker also scored the game-winning run, ending the 6:27 marathon.
1) If you've never gone on a vacation to Las Vegas, I highly recommend it; trust me on this. Lot more to do than gambling, you can do most anything here.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.........
13) Went to a minor league baseball game here in Las Vegas last night; good stuff, minor league ball-- fun, inexpensive entertainment.
12) So Chip Kelly doesn't like the NFL Draft; wonder what he thought of it when he was the coach at Oregon and he could use former Ducks getting drafted as a tool in his recruiting process? Bet he didn't mind it much then.
11) New Orleans Saints are training at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia this summer; Sean Payton caddied at the PGA Tour event there two years ago, when he was suspended from the Saints after Bountygate.
10) Blake Griffin has a small fracture in his back; maybe he should tone down his dunks to take stress off his back when he lands-- just a suggestion.
9) Potomac Nationals. Class A farm club of Washington, have one of the better mascot names- their politically-themed mascot is called "Uncle Slam".
8) Price of gas here in Las Vegas has caught up to the greedy bastards in upstate New York; most places here now have prices in the $3.70's. Back in December, the prices here were 40-50 cents a gallon cheaper than in New York.
7) Nelson Cruz had trouble finding someone to sign him; he's now 5th in the major leagues in RBI and a huge reason why the Orioles are in first place.
6) Ben Roethlisberger is the 14th highest paid QB in the NFL? Really? How do the Steelers not re-do his contract?
5) AJ Burnett threw 131 pitches in his previous start before last night; he gave up four runs in the first inning Monday, seven runs in five innings overall, and looked awful in a 7-1 loss to the Mets. 131 pitches is a lot for an older pitcher.
4) Its sad watching Ryan Howard play; he's clearly washed up, even has trouble bending down to catch throws from infielders that are around his ankles-- he's been benched against lefty pitchers, but he is owed so much money, he's hard to dump.
3) Nationals led 6-0 in 7th inning at Miami last night, lost 7-6; Marlins score four times in bottom of ninth-- Washington bullpen allowed five of 12 batters they faced to score-- their lead over Atlanta is down to half a game.
2) Media types need to stop whining about the length of baseball games; its not that big a problem. If you don't like your job, quit. This is an issue totally cultivated by media members in an attention deficit-addled society.
1) If you're Steve Ballmer and the deal finally goes down where he gets the Clippers for $2B, on the same day it comes out that Blake Griffin has a small fracture in his back, are you a happy guy? I guess if you're a billionaire, you're always happy.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a weekend on vacation......
13) Want to speed up baseball games? Ban coaches from visiting the mound during an innng; that'll chop ten minutes off a game right there.
12) The Bronx Bombers' home stadium is a joke; pop ups go over the fence in right-center field. How are they ever go recruit a decent free agent pitcher when they play in such a hitter's paradise?
11) Bombers are 54-50 this season, but if you stopped all their games after the fifth inning, they'd be 57-31-16; their middle relief has hurt them, hampered by their starters' inability to go deeper into games to ease the bullpen's burden.
One more Bronx stat; they're 29-19 when a rookie pitcher starts, 25-31 otherwise.
10) Dan Shulman/John Kruk are broadcasting next Sunday's Bronx-Boston game on ESPN from the Monster Seats in left field in Boston. Too bad for them there is an NFL exhibition game on another channel, so not many people will watch.
9) When you hear teams talk about "innings limits" for young pitchers, generally they don't want a young pitcher throwing more than 20% more innings than he pitched the year before-- that has been proven to be an indicator of future injuries.
8) If I'm pitching for the Mets, the first thing I do on gameday is to check whether or not Juan Lagares is playing CF when I pitch; he's that good with the glove.
7) Mets have been calling so many guys up from AAA Las Vegas, the AAA 51's have used 26 different pitchers this year, including SS Omar Quintanilla for two innings. Manager Wally Backman has had an ever-changing roster this season.
6) Kid named Ryan Cline put on a shooting clinic at the adidas Super 64 tourney in Las Vegas Sunday; his Indiana Elite team won the tourney. Cline is heading to Purdue next season- the Boilers could use some shooters.
5) Detroit Tigers won in Anaheim Thursday, then lost next three games, scoring a total of two runs. Angels sure have shored up their pitching the last few weeks.
4) Batters who have come to the plate with the most runners on base this year: Casey McGehee 327, Albert Pujols 318, Ryan Howard 312, Marlon Byrd 303. it is a little weird that Phillies are #3-4 on this list.
3) Batters who have knocked in highest %age of their baserunners (minimum 150 PA): Miguel Cabrera, 27.5%, Ryan Braun 24.2%, Chris Colabello 22.4%.
2) Clint Hurdle's Pirates are 35-24 in games decided by 1-2 runs, 20-25 in games decided by 3+ runs. Hurdle is getting the most out of his team.
1) Simple fact: Pete Rose should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sunday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Spent Saturday afternoon at a junior college basketball showcase; one game at a time, 20:00 running time halves, teams sub five-at-a-time every 5:00. Kids trying for college scholarships; not many big-time schools were there from what I could tell, mostly Sun Belt/C-USA/Big West schools, with D-II and junior college teams.
Highly competitive, none of the frills they have at the high-end high school events crosstown. Games were physical, fast-paced, fun to watch.
12) Problem is, parking lot at the Boys Club is really small and it was 105 out, so you had to walk couple blocks from a shopping center to get to the gym. Luckily I am in tip-top physical condition....hehe..... and I won some cash on the way back to my car, playing video poker in a bar in the shopping center. A good day!!!!
11) Either it was free to get in or no one bothered to charge me, which is good, but packets with player information were $175, which sucks. For $175, I'd like to park close to the gym. There was this one big kid who runs like a deer and is 6-8 or so; wish I could tell you his name, think he has potential, whoever he is.
10) One kid got upended on a play near the basket and hurt his neck; they took him off on a stretcher. Scary thing; who plays for his medical care? Chances are the kid isn't from Las Vegas.
9) The most frustrating thing about watching all these kids play games while trying to impress someone so they'll give him a scholarship is this: Kids do not know what coaches want to see. One kid tossed up a brick from behind the arc, then pouted as his man went right by him on the other end. No bueno.
Coaches want players who give off positive energy; they get loose balls, pass the ball, they shoot when they are open. No pouting, no laziness, just positive energy.
8) Nothing says Vegas in July like me watching Toronto-Saskatchewan on TV in a sportsbook; CFL teams can challenge pass interference calls on instant replay. I'm guessing that won't happen in the NFL, but would be damn interesting if it did.
7) Toronto Blue Jays snapped a 17-game losing streak in the Bronx when they won 6-4 Saturday; why is Brian McCann playing first base? $195M payroll and they don't have a backup first baseman? Its an important position.
6) Blue Jays are 8-8 since Edwin Encanarcion got hurt; he had a setback in his rehab this weekend, so he'll be sitting out for a while. Toronto needs him.
5) Red Sox have a pitcher in AAA named Anthony Ranaudo who is 7-0, 1.63 in his last nine starts; why don't they bring him up? He's thrown 424 innings in the minor leagues, so he is ready for the bigtime.
4) David Ortiz lost a homer in Tampa Bay when a Red Sox fan (he was wearing a red Boston jersey) reached over the line and tried to catch the ball. Ortiz got a double, the fan got the ball, was tossed from the stadium; he had kids with him, too.
3) NBA is considering a week-long All-Star break; not sure why, unless they plan to add more events to All-Star week. A 64-man 1-on-1 tournament would be a great thing--imagine the interest it would create?!?!?!
2) Had dinner at Battista's Saturday night, my favorite restaurant here in Las Vegas. Dimly lit, great Italian food and a guy walking around playing an accordion.
1) Congrats to Tony Larussa on being inducted into the Hall of Fame today; he did a solid job with my A's, but beat feet to St Louis as soon as the A's weren't owned by Walter Haas anymore, which made them a small market team. In my mind, best manager in Oakland A's history was Dick Williams; #2 is definitely Bob Melvin.
Saturday's List of 13: Thoughts from the desert........
13) Made my first visit this trip to In 'n Out Burger last night; just a tremendous milkshake, excellent hamburgers. We need In 'n Out in upstate New York.
12) Tampa Bay Rays have won eight in a row, are just 4.5 games out of second Wild Card spot with 59 games left to play; don't think they're selling off players.
11) Went to the Fab 48 basketball tournament last night at Bishop Gorman HS; way better talent than the event I was at Wednesday. Still no rosters, but the bleachers were comfortable at least and the games were great fun to watch.
10) Memo to parents watching your kids: Please be quiet. Sat behind a guy who was screaming instructions (Get the ball inside!!! Get the ball to Andre!!!) for the whole damn game. Screaming instructions doesn't help; they have a coach.
9) Want a long road trip? There is a team here from the Canary Islands, which is located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, west of Morocco. Boy do they have good players; little deficient at point guard, but they have several kids in the 6-4 to 6-8 range who have great potential.
8) Texas football coach Charlie Strong booted/suspended at least eight players since he took over as head coach. First year is the best time to lay down the law.
7) In his last four starts, Felix Hernandez allowed five earned runs in 30 IP-- he won only one of those four games-- Seattle scored 13 runs in his last five starts.
6) Yasiel Puig had three triples and a double Friday night, first player to do that since 1990, first Dodger with three triples in a game since 1901.
5) Orioles are now 10-3 in extra innings; Buck Showalter is a great manager.
4) Lucas Duda hit a dramatic 9th-inning homer off former Met Francisco Rodriguez, giving New York an unlikely 3-2 win at Miller Park, snapping Brewers' four-game winning streak.
3) Cincinnati lost its 7th straight game- they miss injured Votto-Phillips- they're now 51-51 and 6 games out of first, 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card slot.
2) Zack Greinke struck out four Giants in the third inning Friday, making him the third pitcher in history to strike out four guys in an inning more than once. Chuck Finley did it three times, AJ Burnett has done it twice.
1) I'm off to a junior college showcase event this morning; looking forward to seeing how competitive the older kids are, playing for a college scholarship.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here......
13) Major league baseball needs to fix one thing right now; ban third base coaches from going closer to home plate than the coaching box. Someone else is going to die from getting crushed by a line drive. Angels' 3B coach Gary DiSarcina almost got drilled by Mike Trout last night- coaches stand too close to home plate.
12) Advice to high school basketball players who would like a college basketball scholarship; work on your skills, moreso in practices than summer games. I watch these kids playing out here; they just aren't good enough yet.
11) Brewers' catcher Jonathan Lucroy is batting .297 when he hits third, .340 when he hits anywhere else, 4-9 in his new position batting second.
10) Mike Trout has been having a tough time with umps recently, in his last six games, he has 10 strikeouts, three walks (6-24).
9) Its amazing how much time ESPN devotes to football during the day; really isn't that much actual news going on right now, not until preseason games start, so they are rehashing lot of the same stuff and doing a lot of speculating.
8) Cleveland's Ryan Raburn's horrendous throw from leftfield corner allowed Kansas City to score an 8th-inning run last night; Royals wound up winning 2-1 in 14 innings. You have to see SportsCenter to see how bad a throw this was.
7) Chris Paul would really give up his salary next season if the NBA can't rid itself of Donald Sterling before October? I'm skeptical.
6) Now that the Cubs traded their best pitcher (Jeff Samardzija), they're trying to deal overpaid Edwin Jackson ($12M a year); good luck with that one.
5) Its pretty cool looking out my window every night and seeing the Eiffel Tower, or at least the Las Vegas replica of it. Its been a good vacation so far.
4) NBA/college hoop heads have to get together to let kids jump from high school to the NBA; if players start going from high school to overseas for a single year, who does that help? Let the exceptional players jump, then the kids who don't make it tot he NBA can go play college for 2+ years before turning pro permanently.
3) Big series in San Francisco this weekend; Dodgers play the first place Giants, trying to catch SF, which is 1.5 games ahead of them.
2) Not my place to comment on whether the penalty is stiff enough, but Ray Rice is out for Baltimore's first two games (both division games) this season.
1) Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks it is safe to fly an airplane into Israel, but he tried to ban New Yorkers from drinking 20-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola for health reasons. Please go away.
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) Man, I thought oil companies were thieving bastards; went to summer basketball tournament last night here in Las Vegas- $10 to get in is reasonable, but if you want a book with teams' rosters, it costs freakin' $250!!!! They rip off the college coaches who have to pay the tab to do their jobs. Jerks like me who just want to know who I'm watching can go to hell-- there is no way to know.
12) This is a huge moneymaker for tournament organizers; there are 351 D-I teams, many of whom are here-- there are D-II, D-III and NAIA teams here too, but for the sake of argument, lets say half the D-I teams buy a book-- thats 175 books, at $250 a pop-- thats $43,750 right there, minus printing costs (there are ads in the books, too-- not many, but there are some).
11) It costs a lot of money for teams to play; we'll say $600 a team, could be more, not really sure, but $600 is close. There are roughly 200 teams playing in this event, so we'll estimate 200 teams at $600 a team-- thats another $120,000. Expenses are referees and rental of facilities, but these people are taking in serious money.
10) We used to go to the AAU national championships in Orlando and write about it in this space- these games aren't as good as those, but they're close. Lot of teams in the west didn't go to Florida- they play here instead.
9) Most fun team to watch, in the few games I saw-- the Colorado Titans, a team from the Boulder area that played great team ball. Their guards were quick and went to the basket with authority- they looked for each other and broke down the opposing defense fairly easily. Very well-coached team.
Elsewhere in the world.........
8) Still trying to figure out why the Eagles just let DeSean Jackson walk; those two games with the Redskins will be very interesting.
7) Washington coach Jay Gruden is an NFL head coach for the first time, but he was a head coach in the Arena League for nine years, the UFL for one, so he really has a lot of head coaching experience, just not at the highest level.
6) Former Kansas coach Mark Mangino is the new offensive coordinator at Iowa State; he did a terrific job coaching the Jayhawks, shouldn't have been let go.
5) ESPN anchor Jay Harris won a car by getting as hole-in-one at a golf tourney here in Las Vegas; apparently he's a pretty good golfer.
4) Ryan Howard lost his starting job and will platoon at most at first base for the Phillies- if they didn't owe him $60M over the next three years, they'd release him, but that would be very expensive-- could the GM survive that?
3) Detroit Tigers acquired Joakim Soria from Texas; am guessing at some point he will wind up as Detroit's closer.
2) If you're a kid trying for a college basketball scholarship, here's a tip; work on your skills. No point in jacking up bricks from 22 feet if you can't shoot-- you'll make an impression on coaches, but not the one you want to.
Lot of bigtime players out here; one of the first coaches I saw in the gym was Wichita State's Gregg Marshall; also saw coaches from Portland-Southern Miss-Cincinnati-Utah State and Cal-Irvine. Going to a junior college showcase Saturday; looking forward to seeing some older players on the court.
1) Thoughts and prayers go out to Broncos' owner Pat Bowlen and his family; he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, is no longer running the team. My mother died 10 years ago after having that hideous disease; its really an awful thing.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Sad day to be a Padre fan; they get shut out by a rookie at Wrigley, after they salary-dumped one of their best players to Bronx, with Chase Headley getting the game-winning RBI in his first game for the Bombers. No bueno.
12) Mainstream media has to differentiate between "breaking rules" and "cheating" when it comes to recruiting in college sports. Its virtually impossible to be a good recruiter and never break a rule-- there are just too many rules, with many of them incredibly obscure. Cheating would have to be described as more intentional.
11) Dodgers can't play Yasiel Puig in centerfield, he is just too wreckless and would create chaos at a key defensive position. With his throwing arm, right field is the correct place for him to play.
10) Rangers' pitcher Colby Lewis was whining this week because Toronto's Colby Rasmus bunted against a shift when his team was up two runs in the fifth inning. All this time I thought there was no crying in baseball, but Lewis looks like a jerk after he gave up a hit on a bunt. Jays were up only two runs in the fifth inning, so why not take what you're given? I don't see why it is so controversial.
9) Speaking of the Rangers, what were the odds that a game would be 0-0 thru 12 innings when the two starting pitchers were Nick Martinez and Chase Whitley?
8) Cubs' 1B Anthony Rizzo caught a foul ball by his dugout Sunday, but then fell into the dugout with the ball, which allowed the runner on third base to score. Don't see a lot of sacrifice flies caught near one of the dugouts.
7) Red Sox are rumored to be trading Jake Peavy soon (they've lost his last nine starts); if they do trade him,. LSU alum Anthony Ranaudo could replace him. Kid is 6-0, 1.82 in his last nine AAA starts.
6) I'm wondering if Mets' CF Juan Lagares is the best defensive CF ever? He just makes tough catches look so easy- very impressive.
5) Giants won in 14 innings in Philly last night; game took so long, starter Tim Lincecum came on, pitched the last inning-- because it was 9-5 at the time he came on, Lincecum didn't get his first career save.
4) Wonder why Bill O'Brien left Penn State? Professional son Jay Paterno is now suing the school over "improper termination"; in other words, as soon as his dad wasn't the coach anymore, the school went out and got a better QB coach.
3) Journeyman lefty Jeff Francis has already pitched for Bronx, the Reds and A's this year; its conceivable all three teams could make the playoffs and Francis could collect a playoff check from all three teams-- that would be odd.
2) Oakland A's signed a 10-year lease deal to stay in the cruddy Coliseum, the only MLB ballpark that also houses an NFL team; it does not bother me, think its cruddiness gives the A's an odd home field advantage over its opponents. Look at the Twins- they got a new ballpark and have mostly struggled since.
1) Interleague games in AL parks, with a DH, under is 54-37.
Interleague games in NL parks, with no DH, over is 57-41. Go figure.
Tuesday's List of 13: NFL trends to ponder........
13) Cowboys covered once in their last nine Monday night games.
12) Chargers beat the spread in their last seven visits to Denver.
11) Dolphins covered 11 of last 13 as an underdog of less than 5 points.
10) Oakland is 0-6 vs spread in game following their last six wins/covers; they've covered seven of their last eight visits to Kansas City.
9) Philadelphia is 10-23-1 against spread at home the lasst four years.
8) Saints are 0-6 vs spread in last six Thursday games, but covered their last five Monday night home games.
7) Carolina is 0-5 vs spread in game following their last five meetings with division rival New Orleans.
6) Baltimore Ravens covered once in their last seven Thursday games.
5) Falcons covered only two of last seven visits to Tampa Bay.
4) 49ers covered eight of last nine Monday night games, but are 2-8 vs spread in game before their last ten MNF appearances.
3) Green Bay covered once in last seven tries as a road favorite of 7+ points.
2) Tennessee covered its last six games as a double digit favorite.
1) Jets are 0-8 vs spread the last eight times they played after losing as a favorite the week before.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) Interesting game in San Diego Sunday, where Odrisamer Despaigne lost his no-hitter with two out in 8th inning, nursing a 1-0 lead, when Daniel Murphy hit a double to left-center. Manager not only left Despaigne in, despite his having thrown 120 pitches, he let him pitch to David Wright with first base open. Oy.
Black had a lefty in the bullpen to face Lucas Duda, who was on deck, but Wright hit a single and tied the game. Brutal managing, but the Padres won anyway, when Met pitchers bungled two fielding plays in the ninth inning. Interesting game, though.
12) Despaigne is a 27-year old Cuban rookie who is 2-1, 1.31 in his first five big league starts; he was 1-3, 7.61 in five AAA starts, before getting brought up. They called him up the day they fired their general manager.
11) Red Sox are supposedly going to use David Ross as Jon Lester's personal catcher and also in the first game of each series, to set the pitching plan for that series, to lessen the load on rookie catcher Christian Vazquez.
10) Speaking of the Red Sox, wonder how much that Merrill Lynch ad costs on the edge of the Boston dugout. Every time they show a reaction shot on TV from the Red Sox dugout, you see that ad. Must cost a pretty penny.
9) Rough ending for the Reds in the Bronx Sunday, where a popup fell untouched in very short right field, while three Cincinnati fielders stood around and watched each other as the winning run scored from third. Brutal play that left the Reds' TV guys speechless- they got swept this weekend.
8) Early returns from Oakland: Tommy Milone is better than Jason Hammel; will be interesting to see how long it is before they bring Milone back to the A's rotation.
7) Cubs are 2-11 since the Hammel/Samardzija trade; they were 11-8 in the 19 games before trading two of their three best starting pitchers.
6) Shortstop prospect Addison Russell, reason the Cubs made that trade, is hitting .262 for the Cubs' AA team, but he is 5 for his last 11, and he is only 20.
5) NBA Summer League is fun to watch, but when the Bulls sit Doug McDermott and basically forfeit their playoff game. it shows how much winning means. Was interesting to see the Bulls had three former New Mexico Lobos, plus David Wear from UCLA-- Steve Alford should've coached the team.
4) You watch these NBA games and one phrase would be solid advice for kids who want to play in the NBA: "play through contact". NBA ball is very physical; if they called a foul on all contact, teams would shoot 70 foul shots a game. Apiece.
3) Had to park my rental car on the roof of the parking garage here Saturday; there was a concert in the hotel theater and the place was freakin' mobbed. Parking garage has 11 floors to it; took 20 minutes to park, once I got inside the garage.
2) Pizza is expensive here, but the pizzas are bigger; thought the place in Miracle Mile shops was expensive, but the shop connected to the Planet Hollywood sports book is even worse-- $5.25 for a slice, albeit a really big slice.
1) Singer Jon Bon Jovi owns an Arena League team; now he's rumored to be part of a group that would buy the Bills and keep them in western New York. GM of his Arena League team? Former NFL QB Ron Jaworski.
Sunday's List of 13: College football trends to ponder......
13) South Carolina covered its last five games with rival Clemson.
12) New Mexico covered its last 11 games with San Diego State.
11) Arizona State covered its last eight games with Washington Huskies.
10) Western Michigan covered its last six weeknight games.
9) Arizona covered seven of its last nine games with USC, but they're 0-5 vs spread in game following a SU upset win.
8) Kentucky covered twice in its last 12 visits to Tennessee.
7) Pitt Panthers covered last six games as a double digit favorite.
6) Boston College is 0-11 vs spread in last 11 games as road favorites of 4+ points.
5) UCLA covered once in its last eight visits to California.
4) Navy covered 10 of its last 13 games with rival Air Force.
3) Wisconsin covered its last eight games with Purdue.
2) UConn covered 18 of its last 22 tries as a home underdog.
1) Michigan State covered its last six games with Michigan, but Ohio State covered its last four visits to East Lansing.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff on a summer Saturday
13) Angels acquired closer Huston Street from San Diego in a six-player trade late Friday; the other five players are all minor leaguers. This strengthens Angels' biggest weakeness, the bullpen.
12) John McDonald singled at 12:22am here in Las Vegas to give the Halos a 3-2 win in 16 innings over Seattle.
11) Anytime a team dumps salary like this, it is depressing; Padres went out and lost 5-4 to the Mets, giving up a run in top of 9th, the inning Street would normally pitch in a tie game at home. Bud Black has his hands full now.
10) Oakland stayed 1.5 games up in the AL West, as Josh Donaldson homered in the bottom of the 9th inning, beating Baltimore 5-4.
9) You read Pat Riley's quote up above about Udonis Haslem and that is the ultimate compliment Riley can give a player. Total praise.
8) UNLV alum Anthony Bennett lost 20 pounds, has been playing way better in summer league, where 2nd-year players have a big edge over rookies anyway. While I'm on the subject, teams like the Cavs, Knicks, Warriors' summer teams are better off playing under their new head coach-- there's something about the boss running things, as opposed to an assistant coach. Just human nature.
7) Johnny Manziel already has a Nissan commercial that runs during Indian games on TV in Cleveland; he's hitting a truck on a square-in pattern.
6) Twice this week, I've seen a runner hit by a batted ball; both lefty hitters, with runner going to second. You can go a whole year without seeing it once.
5) If you were an NBA GM, would you trade Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love? Its an itneresting question that will determine who gets fired and who keeps his job in both Cleveland and Minnesota.
4) I don't think Miami Heat will be that bad next year; they added couple of good players (Granger/McRoberts) and sub Deng for Lebron James, which obviously is a big loss, but Deng is pretty good. They'll get more out of Chris Bosh by using him closer to the basket- if they stay healthy, they'll still be pretty good.
3) Stadium issue in Oakland is a debacle; newest rumor is the Raiders sharing the 49ers' new stadium for a while, while a new one is built. Not sure whats going to happen out there, but the sides can't agree on what day it is.
2) Rough day for the Astros, who didn't sign their #1 pick and taking grief from the player's agent and MLB because of it. Astros get the #2 pick next year, but in their last three drafts, their #1 picks haven't fared too well and that how you improve.
1) Next spring training, expect to see infielders doing drills on keeping the tag on runners throughout the entire slide. Robinson Cano doubled to lead off an inning last night, but came off the bag for a split second; because the 2B had the glove on him the whole time, he was called out. Big play in a tight game.
Friday's List of 13: Greetings from the desert.........
Greetings from Las Vegas; here are some notes for the second half of the season, that starts tonight with a full schedule........
13) July 31 is the next big thing, the trading deadline; what teams will be buyers, which will throw up the white flag and be sellers?
12) Will Tampa Bay trade David Price and Ben Zobrist, or will they draw a line in the sand and compete for the rest of this season? A lot will depend on the package of prospects they could get back for those two fine players.
11) Will the Phillies finally dismantle their aging nucleus and start over? Jimmy Rollins/Jonathan Papelbon seem most likely to go; Ryan Howard has a horrible contract and Chase Utley has said he won’t waive his 10/5 rights, so those two are unlikely to be traded.
10) Will the Cubs bring up all their top prospects and if so, where will the four shortstops be put in the field?
9) Have the Angels re-tooled their bullpen enough to win the AL West and if so, can they keep Weaver/Wilson healthy enough to make the bullpen relevant?
8) NL Central is a four-team race; Brewers had a big lead at one point, but played lousy the last two weeks, then the tragedy involving Juan Segura losing his young son has made playing a game seem insignificant. It’ll take a lot to get them jumpstarted for the second half of this season.
7) Pirates are 19-13 with Gregory Polanco in the lineup, 30-33 without him. Clint Hurdle should get new lineup cards made, with Polanco’s name permanently written in the leadoff spot.
6) Can the Giants regroup and give the big-money Dodgers a run for their money? Marco Scutaro is back at 2B, which gives SF stability in the infield, but they need more offense, too.
5) Anyone have a reason why 16 of 18 All-Star Game starters bat right-handed? Just a random fact? Still not sure why any baseball player would bat righty; why not just start two steps closer to first base?
4) Texas Rangers are 4-23 in their last 27 games; will they continue to be awful, or can they right the ship some and keep Ron Washington employed? Injuries are why Texas is terrible, but since when is a manager being fired fair?
3) Kansas City made a run at first place, then fell back. Again. Can they make another run at Detroit? Cool moment at the All-Star Game, when closer Greg Holland brought his dad to Monday’s All-Star press conference. Just seemed like a neat thing to do.
2) Why haven’t any heads rolled in the Bronx, which has a mediocre record despite an enormous payroll? If old man Steinbrenner were still around, he would be making a fuss and firing people weekly. Not saying that’s the right way of doing things, but their management’s current passive style ain’t working, either.
1) Will Tony Larussa can Kirk Gibson, or go forward with him as Arizona’s manager? Have to be lot of nervous people in the Arizona front office and dugout.
Thursday's List of 13: 13 reasons why summer is better than winter 13) I never scrape ice off my windshield in the summer………or wear a parka.
12) Ice cream trucks go down my street in the summer; snow plows go up my street in the winter.
11) You can drive with your windows open in the summer.
10) There is less traffic on summer mornings because there are no school buses on the road.
9) In winter, walking from the parking lot into work makes me feel like freakin' Admiral Byrd traversing the frozen tundra of the Arctic, or at least Lambeau Field. Walking in the summer is no problem, unless its raining, then you just get wet.
8) The pizza delivery guy gets to my house faster in the summer; this is very important when I’m hungry, which is often.
7) Pools at hotels in Las Vegas are closed in the winter; they are open in spring and summer and they are tremendous. Take this from someone who has spent many hours sitting by pools in Las Vegas over the last four years.
6) In winter you bury yourself under blankets when you sleep; no blankets in summer, which is much better.
5) You can go to the driving range and whack golf balls in the summer, a great stress-relieving activity. Very few driving ranges are open in winter and even at the heated ones, its not much fun watching your golf ball disappear into a vast pile of snow, or go up against a wall that’s like 80 yards away. Advantage, summer.
4) It gets dark later in summer; much later. This is a good thing.
3) You don’t shovel rain; you can have a freakin’ heart attack shoveling snow.
2) The park outside where I work has food trucks outside in the summer; food choices get much thinner in winter. Waiting in line pretty much kills your whole lunch time. Not good.
1) You can keep the windows open late at night in summer, let the cool air in and breathe deeply. This is highly underrated; it promotes good thinking.
Wednesday's quiz: Questions, questions, always questions..........
13) If you had the first pick in an NFL Fantasy (non-keeper) League, who would you take?
12) Is Adrian Peterson more valuable to the Vikings, now that they’ll be playing home games outdoors for the next two years? Those late season home games are going to be frigid.
11) Are the Green Bay Packers going to a no-huddle offense? They say their goal is 75 plays a game, which is an awful lot for an NFL team—no way they could get to 75 a game if they huddle.
10) Will DirecTV carry the SEC Network, which starts August 14? Will they ever carry the Pac-12 Network, which started last year?
9) Phil Mickelson said he drank a $40,000 bottle of wine out of the Claret Jug; there is a bottle of wine that costs $40,000??? Must be some damn fine grapes.
8) I’ll ask this question again; if the 750 major league players on Opening Day rosters voted, with no union pressure, would the DH stay or go?
7) Is it me, or would Jim Nantz be the greatest mortician ever? “Hello friends, so sorry for your loss.” He would be tremendous.
6) Do high school basketball players have any idea how difficult is to make an NBA roster? This NBA Summer League in Las Vegas is a graphic example of that; guys who were great college players fighting like hell just to catch on at the end of a roster, or make a big check over in Europe. It’s a highly competitive business at the highest level.
5) What was new Cavalier coach David Blatt’s heart rate when he heard Lebron James signed with the Cavaliers? He was advised to go to Golden State and be Steve Kerr’s assistant; instead he is the head coach of the #2 favorite to win the NBA title. No pressure there.
4) When will mainstream media admit that baseball’s replay system, while not perfect, has been better than most everyone thought it would be? They’ve corrected an awful lot of calls, about 50% of those challenged.
3) What genius thought having a 25-foot wall in rightfield at Target Field was a good idea when the Twins' two best hitters at the time batted lefty?
2) What exactly did Jimmy Haslem’s truck stop company do to get fined $92M by the government? $92M is a whole lot of money, even for rich people.
1) Does anyone realize yet how big this college football playoff thing is going to be? I don’t think so, but come Halloween or so, jockeying for position to get into the playoffs is going to be intense and will increase interest in college football.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) If you see a young pitcher miss a start here or there, could be the pitcher isn’t hurt, teams are trying to find ways to limit their innings for the season, so as to not exceed 20% of their previous year’s (or career high) total.
Going over 20% of the previous season has been pegged as a cause of arm injuries. Rather than end a pitcher’s season in August, they’re going to try and give extra days here and there in between starts. It’s a tougher decision on how to deal with young pitchers on contending teams.
12) Los Angeles Lakers don’t have a coach yet; not sure how you go through summer league without a head coach/philosophy in place for the season, but that’s what they’re doing.
11) I speculated yesterday that Lebron James’ two-year contract had something to do with the Cavaliers’ new coach; apparently it actually has to do with the fact that the NBA’s labor agreement with the players ends in two years, so Lebron’s people want to be open to taking advantages of any new changes in the CBA that would benefit him.
10) Speaking of NBA coaches, Memphis coach Dave Joerger was on NBAtv during their game Sunday night and he was a chatterbox; they practically had to drag him off the air when they went to a commercial. Interesting guy to listen to.
9) Sonny Gray has been a classic stopper for the A’s this year; in nine starts after a loss, Gray is 7-1, 1.75. Sunday’s win in Seattle was especially important, keeping the Mariners eight games behind at the break.
8) AHL is going to a 7:00 OT, with teams going to 3-on-3 on the first whistle after the 3:00-to-play mark. 3-on-3 should create lot of scoring chances.
7) Creighton rookie Doug McDermott had 31 points for the Bulls in a summer league game; they also have Canisius rookie Billy Baron- both skilled shooters played for their dads in college.
6) You think about Nolan Ryan getting shoved out of the front office by the Texas Rangers, and then about how the Rangers have floundered this year and you wonder what Ryan is thinking about their plight. Doubt there’s a lot of sympathy there.
5) Wonder how much having the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas helps UNLV’s recruiting, or if it does at all? Kids watch these games, they see the arena and the city, you’d think it has to help a little bit.
4) We talked a few days ago about how Bronx Bomber starting pitchers have gotten only 33 outs all season, after the 7th inning. In his 20 starts this season, Johnny Cueto has gotten 35 outs after the 7th inning.
3) If you care about such things, AL holds a 103-87 edge over the NL in interleague play; that’s how I would decide who gets home field for the World Series, which league won interleague play.
2) You listen to NBA rookies at summer league and “speed of the game” is the one phrase that is repeated a lot. NBA games are just faster, with bigger, more skilled players than the college game.
1) The biggest question I have about Home Run Derby is this: Is it more popular than the actual All-Star Game? I don’t think one additional person watches the All-Star Game because it determines home field for the World Series- ratings are down for it. If they went USA against the World every other year, that could jazz the All-Star Game up a little bit.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend..........
13) Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey both hit grand slams Sunday, first time ever a pitcher/catcher on same team hit grand slams in same game. Hard to believe it never happened before, but it hadn't. It was also the first time insce 1995 a team hit two grand slams in same game but only scored eight runs in the game.
12) Giants were shut out in Ryan Vogelsong's last three starts; in his last four, they were outscored 12-1.
11) Guys on TV were talking about the 1971 All-Star Game Sunday; the first six hitters in the NL lineup are all in the Hall of Fame now-- and they lost!!!
10) Damn I feel old; David Thompson turned 60 this weekend. If he had played during the ESPN era, Thompson highlights would be everywhere now, he was way better in college than Michael Jordan was. Thompson scored over 13,000 points in the pros, but his best days were at NC State- they won the '74 national title.
9) Detroit Pistons fortified their lineup by signing DJ Augustin/Caron Butler; with Stan Van Gundy in charge, you know Detroit will improve.
8) Cavaliers hit the lottery getting Lebron James back, but now he is playing for a rookie NBA coach, albeit one with a lot of international experience. Wondering if the one-year opt out is just in case he doesn't like playing for the guy.
7) I'm watching the Twins play in Coors Field Sunday; you have to have fast OFs in Denver, since the outfield is so spacious. In other words, you cannot play Josh Willingham in left field without getting hurt by it.
6) Giancarlo Stanton leads the NL in intentional walks; know who is second? Try Ruben Tejada of the Mets, with nine. Hard to believe, but he bats 8th, just ahead of the pitcher, which is why. Guess it is still hard to believe.
5) Mets rested Daniel Murphy the day before his four-day vacation, when he goes to his first All-Star Game. Not sure how this makes sense, resting him before he has four days off, but thats modern baseball. Mets are playing better, by the way.
4) Brock Holt was 5-6 Sunday, Red Sox won 11-0 in Houston; Holt played college ball in Houston at Rice-- he was 10-15 in the three-game series against the Astros. Kid can play any position-- he's hitting .327.
3) Good TV during the day on ESPNU this week, SEC media days for the football coaches. Good theater, you get to see/hear coaches away from the field. Best one is usually Steve Spurrier; think he is on Tuesday.
2) One person who was supposed to be there this week but won't be is Auburn QB Nick Marshall, who had some off-field problems last week and was scratched from his appearance. Year #2 at Auburn is going to be challenging for Gus Malzahn.
1) We're at the All-Star break, I'm a little braindead. Am heading to Las Vegas later this week for summer vacation-- watch some basketball and relax. Its tough work, but someone has to do it.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday..........
13) Surprised to see that Lebron James' contract is only two years, and he can opt out next summer, so all this drama could play out again next year. Oy.
12) July is definitely the best month for NBAtv, with summer league games on all day for two weeks. Kind of like MLB Network in March, with spring training games on all day long. Summer league basketball is highly competitive, marginal NBA guys and rookies fighting for jobs, both in the NBA and overseas.
11) Interesting to see that there are three starting pitchers who throw splitters more than 20% of the time; all three are Japanese. Tim Hudson (16%) throws it the most of any American pitcher.
10) One of our heroes is Bob Uecker, who hit exactly .200, with 14 homers in his undistinguished 6-year playing career (297 games). Three of those homers came against Hall of Famers-- Sandy Koufax, Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylord Perry. .
9) Golfer Steve Stricker has made so much money that he has voluntarily reduced his playing schedule, to spend more time with his family-- he's even turned down trips to the British Open the last two years, but has played in the Quad Cities event, which he's won three times and is close where he grew up. He's only one shot out of the lead at Quad Cities starting today's final round.
8) I'm late with this, but Friday was Cow Appreciation Day at Chik-fil-A's all over this great country of ours; in their words, "eat more chikin'".
7) David Phelps has started 13 games for the Bronx Bombers this year; if you had stopped all thirteen after the fifth inning, Bronx would've been 7-5-1, but thats not how it works- their bullpen is 0-6, the team is 3-10 when he starts.
6) Texas Rangers have lost seven games in a row, 22 of last 26 and are an injury-riddled mess right now; if you play them and don't sweep, its highly disappointing. They have the worst record in all of baseball, with no help in sight this year.
5) Jordan Zimmerman (biceps strain) left Washington's game early Saturday, which isn't as bad as it sounds- he might avoid the DL- they need him healthy.
4) Andrew McCutchen homered in the 9th and again in the 11th as the Pirates pulled out a dramatic 6-5 win in Cincinnati.
3) NBA legend Walt Frazier working a 76ers' game Saturday night: "Nerlens Noel has to gain weight." One of the values of staying in school is that you get to grow into your body before you become a pro. Noel can't guard NBA big guys yet-- his body is still a kid's body, not a grown adult's.
2) Five Georgia Bulldog alumni have won PGA Tour events this year; if Brian Harman wins Sunday, and he is leading, he will be the sixth.
1) Our thoughts/prayers go out to the family of Milwaukee Brewers' SS Juan Segura, who lost his 9-month old son on Friday. Just a terribly sad thing.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts with weekend here....
13) Cleveland Cavaliers are now 4-1 second choice (Spurs are 7-2) to win the NBA title next season. Miami Heat is as high as 100-1 in some sportsbooks.
12) Lebron James coming back to Ohio takes lot of pressure off of new Browns' QB Johnny Manziel; people are excited about basketball, but are also generally in a better mood, so less pressure overall on everyone in Cleveland. Optimism reigns.
11) Cubs' infield prospect Arismendy Alcantara was supposed to go back to AAA after two games, when Darwin Barney came back from paternity leave, but he went 4-4 Thursday and ain't going anywhere. Could Barney become the Wally Pipp of the paternity leave era?
Moral of the story: when you're hitting .224, the wife has the kid by herself.
10) Milwaukee Brewers led St Louis 6-0 after two innings Friday with Gallardo on the mound, things looked good, but they lost 7-6, are now just a game ahead of the Cardinals, having lost nine of their last ten games.
9) St Louis signed free agent George Kottaras to be backup catcher while Yadier Molina recovers from thumb surgery- Kottaras had some big hits for the A's during their unlikely playoff run two years ago. .
8) Edmonton Eskimos/Winnipeg Blue Bombers combined to go 7-29 last year; so far this year, those same two teams are a combined 6-0.
7) Rory McIlroy has played 14 tournaments this year: his second round score is an average of 4.1 shots higher than his first round score.
He is -51 in first rounds, -19 in third, -20 in fourth and +9 in second rounds.
6) Since June 1, Clayton Kershaw allowed 37 baserunners, five runs in 61 IP.
5) CJ Wilson (ankle) goes on the DL; he might only miss one start.
4) If the Seattle Mariners are contenders in September, they'll have to make the playoffs the hard way- they have nine home games, 18 on road in September.
3) Tim Lincecun is hot, allowing one run in his last 30.1 IP. Three of those four starts came against San Diego/Arizona, but it is still impressive.
2) Andrew Wiggins hasn't signed with the Cavaliers yet; they can trade his draft rights at any time before he signs, but once he signs, they can't deal him for 30 days. Would he be part of a trade for Kevin Love?
1) Ironic fact of the day: Miami Heat might not be very good next year; too bad they traded their 2015 first round draft pick four years ago.
To Cleveland, when they acquired Lebron James from the Cavaliers.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here.......
13) NBA teams will soon have corporate logos on front of their jerseys; ESPN.com estimated the Cavaliers will net $3M from such a corporate logo, unless Lebron James comes back home, then the tab could jump to as much as $10M per season.
12) CJ Wilson (ankle) goes on the DL; his last four starts have been poor. He'll probably miss only one start, since the four-day All-Star break is next week.
11) Underdogs are 10-1 vs spread in Seahawks’ last 11 Monday night home games.
10) Has Jason Kidd fired anyone in Milwaukee yet?
9) Peter Gammons seemed pretty sure Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Rays would gladly trade away pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, who returned to the rotation from an injury this week; if that’s the case, they’ll probably have some takers.
8) Brandon Phillips/Yadier Molina both tore ligaments in their thumb Wednesday, will be out 8-12 weeks. Molina's loss is damaging to the Cardinals, but good news for a veteran free agent backstop, like John Buck or AJ Pierzynski.
7) Arizona Cardinals are 2-8 vs spread in last 10 Monday night home games; they’re 9-26 vs number in their last 35 primetime games.
6) Jack McKeon was a terrific manager, mainly for the Marlins/Padres; he liked to pick up guys who washed out of New York, assuming that some guys just can’t handle playing in such a big city, but would be just fine in a smaller market.
Watched Vidal Nuno pitch for Arizona Tuesday in his first post-Bronx start; he looked terrific, but that was with pitcher-friendly umpire Bob Davidson behind the dish. Have to see one or two more starts before I’m a believer in Nuno-- McKeon’s theory has stood the test of time, though, most notably with Ed Whitson with San Diego in the 80’s.
5) Eastern Michigan installed a gray artificial turf football field on its campus, kind of like Boise State’s blue turf, only uglier.
4) Nebraska role player Leslee Smith (5.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg LY) tore his ACL in the Caribbean basketball tournament, will miss 4-5 months, bad news for Tim Miles’ improving Cornhuskers.
3) In his career, Bears’ QB Jay Cutler is 12-25-2 vs spread as a home favorite.
2) On the other hand, Miami QB Ryan Tannehill is 6-0-1 as a home underdog, Andrew Luck is 7-0. Luck doesn’t figure to be a home dog too many more times.
1) Life is funny sometimes; the Jets once fired Pete Carroll after only one season as head coach, so they could hire Rich Kotite. Whoops.
Then Carroll got the boot in New England after going 27-21 in three years, when he made the playoffs twice- Patriots replaced him with Bill Belichick, so good move by them, but its also worked out really well for Carroll, since he’ll be inducted into the USC Hall of Fame this fall, the same calendar year in which his Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl title.
Sometimes getting fired is the best thing that could happen, although I’m sure he didn’t feel that way when it happened.
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but..........
13) If major league ballplayers took a secret ballot vote (with no union pressure) on whether to keep/dump the DH, I don’t think it would stay. There are 25 players on a baseball team, 30 teams=750 players, 360 of which are pitchers, since teams generally carry 12 pitchers these days. Would any of the 360 pitchers vote for the DH, and if so, why? So you’re starting out with the DH down 360-0, meaning only 31 of 390 position players would have to vote against the DH to eliminate it.
12) To appease the union after the DH was eliminated, rosters should go to 27 guys, so 60 new jobs (albeit lower-paying ones) are created.
This is a fair compromise. Baseball is a more interesting game without the DH and I root for an American League team.
11) Wonder if MLB will move the All-Star Game to Wednesday to allow more pitchers who throw in the previous Sunday’s games to participate in the ASG? Then they could have Home Run Derby on Tuesday; think that would work better.
10) Baylor Bears open a new football stadium this season, and they’re putting a statue of RGIII in front of it, seeing as his team’s play spurred the donations that got the stadium built. He is the best football player in Baylor history, but I’m thinking unless you died fighting in a war, no one should have a statue before they turn 35. You can’t even be President of the US until you’re 35.
9) Sounds like a Jake Peavy-to-St Louis trade is imminent, as Cardinals need rotation help and Peavy needs to get away from Fenway and the DH.
8) Three overrated things: Niagara Falls-winter-broccoli.
Niagara Falls is just a lot of water over a bunch of rocks, winter is generally awful (I’ve lived in upstate NY my whole life, trust me on this) and I’m convinced that broccoli really isn’t even a food, just a plant that people eat.
7) Miami Heat signed free agents Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger this week; if Lebron James leaves Miami, those two signed on to be captains on the NBA’s version of the SS Minnow. If Lebron stays, then they can hug their agents.
6) Kelvin Sampson is the new hoop coach at Houston; he’s brought in eight new players, seven of which are JC kids or transfers, same recipe Fred Hoiberg used to get the Iowa State program jumpstarted. Prediction: Sampson will win big at Houston, which is a city rich with high school hoop talent.
5) The 2016 Republican National Convention is being held in Cleveland; no word yet on whether Johnny Manziel will deliver the keynote address.
4) There is a Home Run Derby at the AAA All-Star Game in Durham next week; the winner will get a championship belt, much like they have in boxing or wrestling. Very cool idea; major leagues should go that route.
3) 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar is trying out for a spot on the Sacramento Kings’ summer league team; kid played two years at New Mexico State, is surprisingly nimble for his size, has pretty good hands, I think he’ll make an NBA roster somewhere.
2) Good early morning golf the next four days on the Golf Channel; the Scottish Open, which probably has a better field than the John Deere/Quad Cities tournament in Iowa this weekend. It’s a prelude to next week’s British Open.
1) Not a fan of the All-Star Game uniforms; like it when the players wear their team uniforms instead. Put it this way; I know damn well Cespedes and Donaldson will be wearing colors other than green and gold soon enough; I’d rather see them wearing the A’s colors while they represent Oakland in the All-Star Game.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random mid-week thoughts........
13) Interesting college basketball articles on CBSSports.com this week, as summer recruiting starts; Gary Parrish wrote an article saying how five of the top 10 rated seniors in last year’s high school class are already in the NBA, eight of ten from two years ago. The cream of the crop doesn’t stay in college long at all; I still think college ball would be better off if kids could go straight from high school to the NBA and remove the farce of the top players pretending to be college students while they wait to be eligible for the NBA Draft.
12) Lipton Iced Tea has come up with a combo iced tea/lemonade to rival Arnold Palmer Iced Tea (made by Arizona Iced Tea); I’m here to tell you they’ve fallen short. Arnold Palmer is tremendous, and it is inexpensive ($1 for a 33-ounce can). Lipton’s version is little tangier. No contest, as far as I’m concerned.
11) 20 years ago, the CFL had a team in Baltimore, the Stallions; they played for two years and won the 1995 Grey Cup. CFL tried to expand into this country, which turned out to be an ill-fated idea; once the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, the CFL moved back north of the border, where it is a terrificly unique sport.
10) If you like to read into a team's body language, the Toronto Blue Jays are in deep trouble; they look like a beaten team, a team having no fun, even though they are a contender. It’s a long season, which is part of why Joe Maddon does so well managing the Rays—he is expert at lightening the mood when it needs to be.
9) Odd fact: Washington Nationals lost their last nine extra inning games that were at home, the longest such streak since the 1990 Braves.
8) You look at the three veterans who signed with teams after June 1: Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales and Carlos Pena, they’re all struggling badly. Hard to get up to speed from a standing start against guys who have been into the season for two months, after a five week spring training- their agents did them wrong by holding out so long, except for Pena, who just wasn’t wanted by anyone until Texas got really desperate for a 1B.
7) Damn, the Florida Gators were 4-8 in football last year, are just 30-21 the last four years. Good thing their coach doesn’t get paid millions of dol--- oh wait, forget I said anything. Heads could roll in the Gators aren’t chomping more this fall.
6) In case you care about such things, Daisuke Matsuzaka has made eight starts for the Mets this year; the home team won all eight games.
5) Delonte West hasn’t played in the NBA the last two years, after scoring 11.5 or more ppg in three of four seasons from 2006-09; now he’s trying to make a comeback and will be on the Clippers’ summer league team in Las Vegas.
4) Adam Dunn hit his 435th home run Monday, a long bomb over the bullpen at Fenway; ironic that it put him past Red Sox icon Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time home run list, especially since it was his first-ever homer in Boston.
3) Cardinals won four of Adam Wainwright’s last five starts; a total of 11 runs were scored by both teams in the five games.
2) Last year I played fantasy football for the first time in over 20 years and, um, it didn’t go well. I used eight different QBs due to injury, and even lost the day Nick Foles threw seven TD passes for me in Oakland. Oy.
If we ever meet, never mention Matt Schaub to me…….lol I’m out for redemption this year, so we’ll keep you up-to-date how that goes.
1) Only 25 days until the NFL Hall of Fame game, Giants-Bills, which kicks off the NFL’s preseason. Summer goes by pretty fast, doesn't it?
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.....
13) We mentioned last week about young umpire Vic Carapazza getting in a lot of arguments this season, well this may be related: the last three games he did behind the plate (and four of his last six) ended up 1-0. Hitters aren’t fond of him.
Carapazza has the plate for Houston-Texas tonight; two lousy bullpens, curious to see if that game stays under the total.
12) Jay Bruce started at first base for the Reds last night, his first game as a pro at first base-- he hit a homer as the Reds beat the Cubs 9-3.
11) Mets’ TV announcers spent an entire half-inning Sunday bashing Cubs’ SS Starlin Castro for being lackadaisical in the field and various other things (they weren’t broadcasting a Cub game), so of course Castro showed up on the Interweb that night as a possible trade target of the Mets. Fans should love that if it happens.
10) Tampa Bay Rays have been hot recently; they get Jeremy Hellickson back on the mound Tuesday, as they start to gain some momentum for what would be a very unlikely playoff run—they looked dead two weeks ago.
9) Toronto’s Edwin Encanarcion is out 2-4 weeks with a quad injury he suffered while beating out the back end of a double play, getting an RBI. Costly RBI though; he had been pounding the ball this season.
8) DirecTV announced that it has created a live fantasy football channel that will be available every Sunday afternoon during the 2014 NFL season on its Sunday Ticket package. It will be channel 704, if you’re planning ahead.
7) Four of last six Felix Hernandez starts were 0-0 after the fifth inning.
6) 6-5 guard Will Jackson de-committed from UConn, will go to college at Georgiasomething you don’t see every day, a hoop recruit picking Georgia over UConn. Kid is from Athens, so if they couldn’t get him, they were in trouble as far as keeping up with Florida-Kentucky in the SEC. Actually, they still can’t keep up with those schools, but at least they got this kid, who will help them.
5) I don’t like listening to Shaquille O’Neal on TNT's studio show, I can’t always understand what he’s saying, but heard him on the NBA Summer League game Sunday and he was terrific. Bright, funny, smart, t lot more outgoing than he was on TNT most nights. Not sure why that is.
4) Former Utah Jazz coach Ty Corbin is the new lead assistant in Sacramento; I'd almost forgotten that Shaq is a minority owner of the Kings.
3) Target Field in Minnesota now has self-serve beer machines that let fans decide for themselves exactly the size beer they want. The first station, with two dispensing machines on the third-base side along the main concourse, made its debut Sunday. A second station will be added on the same concourse along the first-base side in time for the July 15 All-Star Game.
2) Baseball is a game of quirks; the instant replay system seems to find a new one every week. Thought the Braves got hosed Monday night, when umps overturned an out call on a force play at second base.
I had heard multiple times that the "neighborhood play" on potential double plays wouldn't be reviewed, as long as the throw was accurate- Atlanta's 2B pulled his foot off the base early and then threw to first, but it was an accurate throw. Umpires in the Replay Review Room at MLB called the Mets' runner safe, when announcers and myself both thought the play couldn't even be reviewed.
1) 6,683 entrants into the Main Event at the World Series of Poker creates a prize pool of $62,820,200, with $10M to the winner, $5,145,968 to the runner-up. Top seven finishers will all make $1M+.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.........
13) White Sox' Chris Sale is 8-1, 2.16 in 13 starts this season; how on God's green earth is he not an All-Star? Injuries will get him on the team, but he deserved to be named Sunday. Taking setup guys over starting pitchers is stupid.
12) Dodgers actually have a small bubble machine in their dugout, like kids use, for when a guy hits a home run. Its so childish its kind of cool.
11) I'm not a big fan of radar guns in baseball; all these guys don't throw 98-100. Those are the radar guns troopers use when giving out speeding tickets, calibrated a little bit too high.
10) Houston Astros are struggling again, at 36-54, but if you look at their record at the end of 5th innings, it is 44-37-9- their lack of pitching depth is killing them.
9) 27-year old Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne is off to a good start with the Padres, going 2-0, 0.92 in his first three MLB starts, after he went 1-3, 7.61 in five AAA starts. When they brought him up, I'm thinking "Why this guy?" but after I saw him pitch, the high altitude in El Paso could've been a problem.
8) Colorado Rockies have already used 13 starting pitchers this season, most of any team in major leagues.
7) Baltimore's starting pitchers are 7-0 in their last 14 road games.
6) Speaking of the Orioles, 7th inning of their game with Boston Sunday took over an hour to play, with O's scoring four run, Red Sox five.
5) One of my favorite players, Brandon McCarthy got traded to the Bronx; small ballpark and the DH won't help his stats any-- he was 3-10, 5.01 in 18 starts for Arizona this year. Brian Cashman got his butt kicked in the trade game this week, and had to settle for McCarthy while Samardzija/Hammel went to Oakland.
4) Competitive eating needs Kobiyashi back in the fold, to re-new his rivalry with Joey Chestnut, who has won the Nathan's hot dog eating contest eight years in a row. Kobiyashi could once match Chestnut weiner-for-weiner.
I had three hot dogs for lunch Sunday and felt like Haystacks Calhoun for the next two hours-- how do you eat 61 hot dogs in ten minutes?
3) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 28 ppg in his first two summer league games for Detroit, as Stan Van Gundy looks for shooters. He may have found one. This is when summer league hoops kick in, this week in Orlando, then Friday in Las Vegas. I'll be at the Vegas Summer League on July 18, then will be watching various AAU and junioer college showcases the rest of the month. .
2) Clippers replace Darren Collison with Jordan Farmar, as some role players sign on with new teams; everyone else is waiting for the drama queens to sign on with whatever teams they sign with, then things will move a lot more quickly. There is so much social media now that all this speculation has become annoying.
1) I've said this before, but every high school basketball player should watch these summer league games, to see how freakin' difficult it is to make it to the NBA. A lot of great players don't make it, or only make it briefly. You have to have one outstanding, pro-level skill, combined with great work habits and the ability to make your teammates better-- it ain't easy.
Sunday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but..........
13) Some leftover stuff from A's-Cubs trade; Chicago saves $5.5M in salary when Oakland takes on the two big league contracts; some Cub fans on Twitter are upset the team folded its tent on this year and next when they were only 7.5 games out of a Wild Card spot-- they had won 11 of last 19 games, six of seven on the road, but they got waxed 13-0 by Washington in the first post-trade game.
12) Oakland sent Tommy Milone to AAA, a shocking move considering he has a 6-0, 2.62 record in his last 11 starts. Think its procedural- they might've lost Brad Mills had they sent him down, but sending Jesse Chavez to the bullpen seemed like a more probable outcome. Tough one for Bob Melvin to explain, considering there is no way it was his idea.
11) Jeff Samardzija is signed thru 2015; Jason Hammel is a free agent this winter, but A's get Parker/Griffin back from injury next year. Oakland has to demote another pitcher when Hammel arrives on Sunday.
10) Ever watch House on TV? Actor Hugh Laurie's father won a gold medal in the 8-man crew event in 1936 Olympics. KL Wheat sent me that gem of a tidbit.
9) Toronto's Mark Buehrle has two career no-hitters, and the same umpire was behind the plate for both of them-- Eric Cooper-- he hasn't worked any of Buehrle's games behind the plate this season.
8) Edwin Encarnacion hurt his quad Saturday; his spot in lineup has come up to bat with the most men on base this season, 276. Miami's Casey McGehee (272) is next, followed by Albert Pujols (270).
7) Looking at players with 125+ plate appearances, Miguel Cabrera (27%) has knocked in highest percentage of baserunners, followed by Ryan Braun (24.1%) and Robinson Cano (22.8%).
6) Best wishes to former Baylor guard Pierre Jackson, who tore his achilles tendon down at the Orlando summer league-- thought he had gotten a big break by getting traded to the 76ers, but now he has a long year of rehab ahead of him.
5) They have the no-foul out rule in Orlando; any personal foul after the 6th is a technical foul on that team. ABA used to have this rule; its a good one.
4) Bahamas won the Caribbean basketball championship this weekend, which I'm mentioning only because Larry Eustachy is the Bahamas coach. ESPN did their top 50 coaches thing, then mentioned another 25 guys who just missed the list, and Eustachy still wasn't mentioned, which is poppycock. He is a terrific coach who has battled personal problems, but if I'm a college AD, I'd be glad to have him as coach.
3) Toronto dumped the rest of Steve Novak's contract ($7.5M, two years) on Utah; they never used Novak, who can shoot but do very little else. Boy can he shoot, but Toronto is actually good now and needed that $7.5M to pay someone else.
2) Rangers' Adrian Beltre has now homered in 40 major league ballparks, most of any active player.
1) Thru Friday night, there had been 547 instant replay reviews this season, with about 50% resulting in overturned calls. This system has worked out better than most thought it would-- I'm guessing the powers-that-be are pleasantly surprised.
Saturday's List of 13: Breaking down a blockbuster........
13) I've been an A's fan since 1965, when they were based in Kansas City, I was 5 years old and Hawk Harrelson was their defensively-challenged first baseman.
What happened Friday night, Billy Beane pulling off a blockbuster trade to try and win a World Series this year, erases the 1976 fiasco, when Charlie Finley gave away three players in one day, to cut payroll. I was 16 then, my brand-new Puma sneakers, the Clyde Frazier models, got thrown over my house, from front yard to back. I'm damn lucky they didn't get stuck on the roof.
12) Anyway, the A's got Jason Hammel/Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs Friday; and they did not give Chicago anyone off their major league roster- Dan Straily, who has a 13-11, 4.11 record in 41 career starts, plus their first round draft picks the last two years, SS Addison Russell and OF Billy McKinney. Both are very young-- of the 313 combined minor league games they've played, 297 of them have come in A ball, so they're totally unproven prospects, albeit highly touted. ones.
11) Russell has been hurt most of this year, playing in only 18 games; McKinney is hitting .241 in the California League. Hammel/Samardzija both have ERAs of under 3.00, in the major leagues. This makes the A's a huge threat to win right now.
10) It also strips their farm system bare, but their window of success is only open so long; the A's do things differently-- only two players on their current 25-man roster were drafted by Oakland (Gray/Doolittle), and Doolittle was a 1B until he got hurt and turned to pitching. Win now, because the future is shaky.
9) Yoenis Cespedes is signed thru 2015, then can walk; they've made the playoffs both years he's been on the team. To use a word I don't totally understand but fits here, he gives the low-budget A's their swagger--once he walks and breaks the bank, a lot of their invincibility goes too. Thats why it is important for them to win now.
8) Think about it; Beane watched the A's get swept in Detroit this week, after losing to the Tigers in the playoffs the last two years- a team with Brad Mills as its #5 starter (Milwaukee traded him to the A's for $1-- one freakin' dollar!!!) is going to have a tough time making the playoffs, much less winning once they got there.
Now Mills and Jesse Chavez go to the bullpen; this is a dynamite pitching staff.
7) Here are the starting rotations of the three AL West contenders, with Oakland's rotation before and after the trade..........
6) I've been saying this for two weeks; didn't think the A's, as they were currently made up, could hold off pitching-rich Seattle, now that Iwakuma is healthy. It is safe to say that I don't feel that way anymore.
5) Random meaningless fact: if you remember the end of Moneyball, Billy Beane was offered the Red Sox' GM job after the 2002 season. When he turned them down, Boston hired Theo Epstein, who is now the Cubs' GM.
4) If you have a fantasy team and need a pitcher, Straily will be OK for you; just pray to God the wind never blows out at Wrigley when he pitches. He is a fly ball pitcher who benefitted from the Coliseum being a pitchers' park.
3) What do the Cubs tell their season ticket holders? Come back in two years? As of this minute, their starting rotation is Arrieta-Jackson-Wood-Villanueva, and they will bring Straily up as the #5 guy. They've got Baez-Bryant-Russell as three huge prospects/infielders, but pitching wins in baseball, not prospects.
2) There are also political ramifications; the A's are fighting a battle to get a new stadium, one that would make them more financially viable; win a World Series and who says no to them? If they get told no then, they move. MLB will let them.
1) No one knows how this willl turn out; maybe the Cubs will be the winners, you just never know, but I'm guessing when they make Moneyball II in a couple of years, Brad Pitt is going to have one scene where he spends his whole July 4th on a phone, getting his A's pitching it needed to win their first World Series since 1989.
Friday's List of 13: Happy 4th of July, everyone.........
13) The first Milwaukee-Brooklyn game has to be nationally televised next fall, right? Jason Kidd against the team he stabbed in the back? Would TNT or ESPN put the Bucks on national TV? Do either of the networks know they’re in the league?
12) I was told a while back Kurt Rambis will be Derek Fisher’s top assistant with the Knicks; he got offered $4.8M for four years in New York, which should raise at least one of Carmelo Anthony’s eyebrows, since Phil Jackson suggested he take a pay cut, while an assistant coach banks $1.2M a year.
11) Kobe Bryant is going to sit in on the Laker’s meetings with Anthony; his whole recruitment makes me want to puke, Anthony isn’t at the James/Durant level of elite player, but you know he thinks he is. 11 years in the NBA, his teams have won 23 playoff games; ‘nuff said.
10) Darren Collison signed for three years in Sacramento, $15M, all totally guaranteed; is this a great country or what?
9) Guess I’m never going to find out about the Russell Wilson/Tom O’Brien rift at NC State that led to Wilson being allowed to transfer to Wisconsin for his senior year, without having to sit out a season. Wilson has since won a Super Bowl, O’Brien got canned at NC State and is now an assistant at Virginia. ESPN never did anything on it, but it sure as hell sounds like an interesting story.
8) Sean Payton testified for the Saints in the Jimmy Graham/position situation, which saved the Saints $5M when it was ruled he is a tight end and not a wide receiver. Going forward, will that make things awkward between the two?
7) ESPN named Billy Donovan its #1 college basketball coach, John Calipari #2; wonder who is starting up the SEC Network this summer?
6) Red Sox TV announcers Don Orsillo/Jerry Remy got me laughing Wednesday night; Remy lost a tooth while on the air, so it became a gag throughout the game, with Orsillo being handed a tool kit and pretending to put Remy’s tooth back in with pliers and a hammer. Boston is having a lousy season; good thing those two still have their sense of humor.
5) Former A’s pitcher Mark Mulder finally saw Moneyball for the first time this week; he live-tweeted during it, refuting some of the little details (players didn’t pay for soda) but basically saying he liked the movie.
I was in Fenway Park on a date the night in 2003 when Mulder suffered a stress fracture of his hip and went on the DL; didn’t impress my companion when I started cursing under my breath because Chad Harville was warming up in the 3rd inning—I knew it had to be an injury and it was a serious one.
4) As you know if you’re a regular reader, I’m a big A’s fan, and would like them to get more recognition for their fine play, but fact of the matter is that I’d just as soon they all got four days off instead of trucking to Minnesota for the All-Star festivities. Baseball season is a six-day grind; a four-day break can be refreshing.
3) This is how good Adam Wainwright has been this year; in six of his starts, St Louis scored 3 or less runs- they’re 4-2 in those games.
2) Atlanta Braves won their last nine games that were decided by 1 or 2 runs- they’ve got couple of extra inning losses in there that were decided by 3+ runs, but they’ve been very good in tight games, which is why they’re near the top in the NL East.
1) I’m tired of reading about total run differential as being an important stat; think it is totally overrated and that’s with the A’s having the best one.
Only stat that truly matters is wins and losses—now how much you win individual games by matters as an indicator, but not the cumulative total.
Oakland pounds on lousy pitchers, which is why their run differential is so good. Its something mainstream media has jumped on the bandwagon of- they’re beating it to death. Too bad.
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff before a long weekend........
13) Every contender in baseball's pennant races needs help, a reinforcement or two between now and the end of the season; none of the teams are strong enough, as they stand now, to feel secure about themselves as they head towards the second half of the season.
Some teams will get help from injured players returning, but most need help from their front office, even if some of it is merely symbolic, adding a role player, but showing players/fans that they’re trying to help the cause. It perks everyone up when that happens.
12) Look at the Giants; on June 6, they led the Dodgers by 9.5 games; just three weeks later, the lead was gone, it can happen that fast. Every team has at least one flaw; its up to the GM to address and fix those flaws, as best they can.
11) A quick look at the AL West shows the big money Angels/Mariners chasing the small market A’s, who had a terrific first half but could use another starting pitcher to bolster a staff that has been weakened by three injuries.
Someone like Brandon McCarthy or Jorge de la Rosa could give the A’s pitching a jolt and keep them on top of the standings; we’ll see deals like this all thru July. Some will seem smaller than others, but could actually be bigger than they appear.
10) Oakland finished its fifth road trip of the season yesterday; all five were three-city trips, which is unusual, to have so many. Good news is that they don’t have any more three-city trips this season.
9) Lesser teams can improve themselves greatly by trading an aging star for a prospect, if they strike gold with the prospect; in 1987, the Tigers traded for pitcher Doyle Alexander from Atlanta, who helped Detroit make the playoffs. Good deal, right? Well, the prospect they gave Detroit for Alexander turned out to be John Smoltz, so not so much. No one viewed Smoltz as a Hall of Famer back in ’87, but the Braves struck gold on the deal.
8) Rick Porcello’s complete game shutout Tuesday, with no walks/strikeouts, was the first of its kind since Jeff Ballard in 1989. 25 years is a long time.
7) Check out the highlights of Cleveland’s 7-2-4 triple play against the Dodgers Tuesday; line drive to left field is one out, runner gets thrown out at the plate, then Yasiel Puig gets thrown out trying to go to second. Unique play with three outs, two replay reviews and a rally killer for the Dodgers, who trailed 5-3 in the 4th inning at the time- -they wound up losing 10-3.
6) Patty Mills/Manu Ginobili both came up with injuries that will keep out of the World Championships this summer; Mills might miss as much as seven months with a shoulder injury, bad timing for the free agent guard.
5) Virginia Cavaliers are going to have their ninth different starting QB in the last ten seasons; kind of hard to have a solid program when you have instability at the most important position on the field.
4) Buffalo Bills lose LB Kiko Alonso (ACL) for the season, big blow to Buffalo's defense.
3) 51 years ago this week, July 2, 1963, Giants beat the Braves 1-0 in 16 innings. Starting pitchers were two Hall of Famers, Warren Spahn/Juan Marichal-- they both pitched complete games!!!! Vin Scully said that Marichal threw 227 pitches, Spahn 204-- could you imagine that happening today? Me either.
2) I mean a 1-0 game in 16 innings, with Aaron-Mays-McCovey-Cepeda-Matthews all hitting in the game. Spahn was 42 years old at the time. Amazing.
1) ESPN’s basketball coaches’ ranking is nearing the end; really tough choices for the top 5. They went with Rick Pitino #5, Mike Krzyzewski #4, Tom Izzo #3, leaving Calipari-Donovan as the top two. If you rank Coach K #4, don’t see how you put him ahead of Pitino, who I think might be #1 on the list, if I was doing it. That list was a thankless job that was bound to be criticized, but an interesting thing to talk about.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Cubs’ pitcher Jake Arrieta is on fire, allowing only four runs in his last 39.1 innings; he’s had a no-hitter broken up in his last two starts in 7th and 8th inning. He better be careful, or the Cubs will trade him away.
12) Last pitcher to shut the Red Sox out was Arrieta’s pitching coach Chris Bosio, who did it in 1993; last time Boston was shut out in Fenway was way back in 1958 by Detroit’s Jim Bunning, who later became a US Senator. Ted Williams made the last out in that game.
11) Major league teams are 36-85 (.298) this year when their pitchers walk more hitters than they strike out.
10) Hanley Ramirez is a free agent after this season; over last four years, he’s played in 92-157-86 and this year 75 of 86 games, which adds up to 71.6% of his team’s games, since 2011. He’s going to be asking for a boatload of money, I’d have a hard time giving it to a guy who missed two out of every seven games.
9) Vikings’ rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater is getting ready for his first NFL season, in part by playing video games. He says the Madden game can help him adjust to the Vikings' offense; I’m not disagreeing, just never heard anyone say that before.
8) LVH Hotel in Las Vegas, formerly Las Vegas Hilton, will now be known as the Westgate, which is a good piece of knowledge for me since I’m staying there for a week in November. Elara Towers behind Planet Hollywood used to be called Westgate Towers; now LVH is called Westgate—those are the two places I stay at the most in Las Vegas. Good thing I don’t confuse easily.
7) Vancouver Canucks signed goalie Ryan Miller to a 3-year, $18M deal, as they head towards a season when they’ll have their third head coach in the last three years- this coach turned down the Penguins to coach in Vancouver.
6) Conference realignment in college sports continues to baffle me: Davidson is now in the A-10, or A-16, not really sure how many teams they’ve got now, but Davidson has an excellent coach and will compete there once their recruiting gets to the A-10 level. Elon jumps from SoCon to the CAA. I may have to write these new teams/conferences down 50 times a day to get them stuck in my head.
5) For some unknown reason (actually, football) the AAC added East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa starting this season. It hurts their basketball profile, but they need football schools, I guess. AAC is a nicer version of old Conference USA.
4) Will the Southern Conference even be a rotation league anymore? They add VMI, East Tennessee and Mercer, which will help their league, but losing Davidson hurts this league badly.
3) Georgetown lost a key recruit this week when 4-star prospect Noah Dickerson de-committed and opened up his recruitment again.
2) Washington Wizards re-upped bug guy Marcin Gortat for five years, $60M; Wiz made second round of the playoffs this spring for first time since 2005, so its important for them to keep their nucleus together.
1) Keep in mind when thinking about NBA free agency: Lebron James makes a lot more money off the court than he does on it.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Bad couple of days to be Larry Drew, now the ex-coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Guy went 128-102 in three years coaching the Atlanta Hawks, but got fired last spring after going 10-14 in the playoffs in Atlanta, only to surface in Milwaukee coaching a God-awful Bucks’ team, going 15-67 this past season.
But with Jabari Parker getting drafted by the Bucks last week, there was hope the team would improve this season, which it still might, just not with Drew as coach. Team fired him Monday so they could hire Jason Kidd as head coach. When the guy who hires a coach is no longer there, and the Bucks changed ownership recently, the coach has every right to feel nervous. Life can be cruel sometimes.
12) Ever hear of Les Moss? I doubt you have; he was a pretty good pitching coach in the 70’s and was named the Detroit Tigers’ manager in 1979, replacing Ralph Houk. But in June of 1979 Sparky Anderson let it be known he was available as a manager after the Reds let him go, so Moss was fired after a 27-26 start in his only full-time managing gig in the big leagues (he had gone 12-24 as an interim manager with the ’68 White Sox). Moss never managed again; Anderson stayed 16 years in the Motor City. Good move for Detroit, but Moss never got another chance.
11) TheMMQB.com has a few interesting articles posted on the CFL; they spent last week north of the border and reported back with some interesting stuff. If you like pro football, it is worth reading.
10) CFL has instant replay challenges on pass interference penalties, which is interesting; wonder if the NFL has an eye on that experiment going forward?
9) Toronto Raptors can keep secrets; they drafted the obscure Bruno Cabocio from Brazil last week. ESPN didn’t even have anything on this guy, but Toronto GM Masai Ujiri saw him play three times, kept it under his hat and now has quite the project on his hands.
Cabocio is 18 years old, 6-foot-9, as only played in 17 professional games, but he has what all NBA teams want: great upside. The NBA likes potential.
8) Joe Girardi is doing a good job with his Bronx Bombers; they’re 23-14 in games decided by 1-2 runs, so they’re getting the most out of marginal games. Problem for them is, they’re 18-26 in games decided by 3+ runs, which shows that they’re not really a very good team. They're also 3-9 at home in games where the winning run scored after the sixth inning.
7) Oakland A’s are 10-4 on the road when the winning run scores from the 7th inning on. Bob Melvin is getting every drop out of his ballclub; they have a great record, despite losing their #1/#3 starting pitchers for the year in spring training.
6) In case you’re keeping track, there have been 57 major league games this season that were 0-0 after five innings.
5) Good young umpire: Alan Porter; he works on Joe West’s crew. He is decisive and I haven’t seen him in any arguments, which means he has respect and also hasn’t butchered too many calls.
4) Rangers are 7-1 in Colby Lewis starts when they give him more than two runs; problem there is, they’ve scored 2 or less runs in five of his eight home starts.
3) Former Ohio State/Ravens’ QB Troy Smith is the new starting QB with the Montreal Alouettes, but his lack of accuracy throwing the ball will be a problem there, too. Alouettes got waxed 29-8 in their opener at Saskatchewan Sunday- Smith was 18-41 passing, for 154 yards.
2) Guy named Drew MacPherson in Tennessee got hole-in-ones on consecutive days last week, on different courses. Golfing stat nerds say the odds of getting aces on consecutive days is roughly 5.7 million to 1.
1) Brooklyn Nets’ basketball operations lost $144M last year; that doesn’t count whatever they made/lost on their ownership deal with Barclays Arena, which was probably profitable, but not THAT profitable.
Wizards lost $13M- that was the next worst plus/minus as far as just basketball expenses go. Now the Nets have to replace Kidd with a coach who will probably make more than the $3.3M Kidd was taking home, giving them a little more red ink to swim in.
At least they’ll be a little less likely to get stabbed in the back next spring.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) Baseball has a lot of young stars they should be promoting; Trout, Stanton, McCutchen, Kershaw, Harper, Cespedes, Abreu. etc..........but this is what we get on TV commercials promoting the All-Star Game on July 15........
THIS IS DEREK JETER's LAST ALL-STAR GAME!!!!!!
THIS IS DEREK JETER's LAST ALL-STAR GAME!!!!!!
OUTCOME DETERMINES HOME FIELD IN WORLD SERIES
THIS IS DEREK JETER's LAST ALL-STAR GAME!!!!!!
THIS IS DEREK JETER's LAST ALL-STAR GAME!!!!!!
THIS IS DEREK JETER's LAST ALL-STAR GAME!!!!!!
Enough already, please.
12) Very rarely see anything promoting baseball young stars, except for a Subway commercial Trout does. Baseball is a really great game; I'd feel better if I thought its TV partners felt the same way.
11) David Wright has a bruised shoulder but isn't going on the DL; he also isn't with the Mets, since he had to go back to New York to have an MRI on the shoulder. Are there no MRI machines in Pittsburgh? Mets are playing with 24 guys, which hurts because they really don't have a backup at shortstop.
10) Speaking of Pittsburgh, all four games sold out this weekend at PNC Park, and that was with the Senior PGA Tour in town. People are excited about the Pirates in the Steel City, at least until the Steelers start their training camp.
9) One last Pittsburgh note: there are 446 bridges there, more than any city.
8) Sunday was Kansas City's first walk-off win of the season. On June 29.
7) Cincinnati used Aroldis Chapman four days in a row Wed-Sat this week, kind of an odd thing to do, since he throws 100 mph and is a valuable asset. Oakland had used its closer Sean Doolittle Fri/Sat and declared him off-limits Sunday, so the save went to Ryan Cook. Different organizations have different philosophies.
6) Houston's Jose Altuve has had 2+ hits and 2+ stolen bases in each of his last four games, the first player to do that since 1917. Altuve is hitting .347.
5) Cleveland's Josh Tomlin threw a 1-hitter with 11 strikeouts, no walks against the Mariners at Safeco Saturday night, just 8th pitcher in last 100 years to strike out 11 with no walks in a 1-hitter. He had gotten pounded in his previous three starts.
4) How can set-up guys be on the All-Star team? If you're not a starter and you're not a closer, you don't rate that highly on your own team, certainly not enough to be one of the best 12 pitchers in the league.
3) Mike Napoli is 24-55 (.436) this season in games John Lackey pitched.
2) If the baseball playoffs started today, they'd look like this:
NL: Braves-Brewers-Giants. Wild Card: LA vs either Nats/Reds.
AL: Blue Jays-Tigers-A's. Wild Card: Angels-Seattle
1) 20 writers didn't vote for Ted Williams the first time he was eligible for the Hall of Fame. Guy might've been the greatest hitter ever and 20 nitwits passed him by. No one has ever been unanimous for Cooperstown; no one ever will.
Sunday's List of 12: Taking a quick look at Pac-12 football......
Arizona-- Wildcats averaged 228/265 rushing yards in two years under RichRod; he has made them more balanced, going 8-5 both seasons. Arizona scored 49-42 in two bowl games under RichRod, after scoring 0-10 in two before he got to Tucson.
Arizona State-- Todd Graham bought Bret Michaels' house for $2.4M, a good sign he plans to end his nomadic ways. Average total in ASU's last five bowl games: 76.2. Sun Devils lose nine starters on defense; they're 13-5 as favorites under Graham.
California-- 4-20 SU last two years, 4-15 vs spread as underdogs, but they played a freshman QB LY, which figures to pay off this year. 9 starters back on offense, 4 on OL. Bears have 3rd DC in last three years; problem is the DC is in his 4th job in last four years. Not sure thats a good thing.
Colorado-- MacIntyre is terrific coach, but this is total rebuild job; Buffs have top six rushers, four of top five receivers back this year with an experienced QB, so they should start to show progress, but they're 5-16 in last 21 games as a road dog.
Oregon-- 67-12 SU the last six years, covering 11 of last 13 road games, averaging 36.7 ppg in winning last three bowls. Four starters back on OL, a QB with 26 career starts, but they did lose six starters on defense. Host Michigan State Sept 6.
Oregon State-- Mike Riley used to be head coach in CFL/NFL; he's 6-2 in bowls, since '08, he's 19-6 vs spread as road dog. Beavers have 7 starters back on both sides of ball, but have new OC for first time in decade (Jason Garrett's brother). Open vs Portland State, after losing to Eastern Washington in LY's opener. Oy.
USC-- Steve Sarkisian takes over, making controversial job switch within Pac-12. Trojans don't play Washington this year; they need to play better on road, going 6-5 SU, 2-9 vs spread on road the last two years.
Stanford-- 12-4-1 vs spread on road under Shaw. Played in Rose Bowl last couple years, will probably be disappointed to go elsewhere this year, unless they go to the playoff. Are 46-8 SU last four years; went 11-3 LY with even turnover ratio.
UCLA-- 17 starters back, four on OL, 3rd-year starting QB, former NFL coach who is 9-5 vs spread as a favorite; Bruins are good darkhorse to win a national title- they are +17 in turnovers in 27 games under Mora. UCLA has 78 sacks last two years; in Neuheisel's last year (2011), they had only 14 sacks.
Utah-- 9-18 in Pac-12 games, after being 21-3 its last three years in MWC. Missed bowls last two years; Utes have six starters back on both sides of ball. Were -9 in turnovers LY, after being +42 in six years before that.
Washington-- Got stiffed by Sarkisian (35-29 in five years, 30-28 vs spread, 2-2 in bowls), wound up upgrading to Chris Petersen (92-12 at Boise State, 22-9 vs spread in last 31 games as a road favorite). Huskies have 7 starters back on both sides of the ball, but are breaking in a new QB.
Washington State-- Coogs were 6-0 vs spread on road in Leach's second year with Wazzu; senior QB Halladay has 19 starts in system, but OL has three new starters. Top eight receivers, top two rushers are back this season; State will score points.
Saturday's Lists of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) Congrats to Vanderbilt on its first-ever national championship in men’s sports; David Price/Sonny Gray are Vandy alums. School gets batted around enough during football season; good to see them have this success.
12) There have been 34 games this season where they starting pitcher has induced 20+ swings/misses; Samardzija/Tanaka lead MLB with three such games each. Braves were victims in five of those 34 games.
11) A's closer Sean Doolittle has one walk, 55 strikeouts in 38 IP this season. He did not become a pitcher until three years ago, he had been a first baseman.
10) For what its worth, Houston Rockets got more for Omar Asik than Knicks got for Tyson Chandler.
9) Tracy Henderson (11.7 ppg LY) transfers from West Virginia to NC State. You wonder why West Virginia has lost so many players the last couple years; seems like they have a new team every year now, ever since De’Sean Butler left.
8) Justin Martin (also 11.7 ppg LY) transfers from Xavier to SMU, where he’ll have one year left but can play immediately, since he graduated from Xavier. Mustangs are being highly touted for this coming season.
7) Eldrick Woods missed his 10th career cut at the Quicken Loans tournament in Washington DC; he was placating a new sponsor by playing when he isn't ready to play in a tournament yet. Curious to see if he plays again before the British Open.
6) Couple years ago, I remember sitting at the NBA Summer League, about 20 feet from Aaron Afflalo and the owner/GM and some execs of the Denver Nuggets; three weeks later, Denver traded Afflalo away. Now Denver has re-acquired him for Evan Fournier and a 2nd round draft pick. GM who made the first trade is now in Toronto, which may explain some things.
5) Quin Snyder is the new coach of the Utah Jazz; two of his five assistant coaches have experience coaching in the D-League, where Snyder was also once a coach. Developing players once they turn pro is so much more important than it used to be, with so many players leaving school early, most of them too early.
Look at how the Spurs helped Kawhi Leonard become a quality shooter; he couldn’t throw it in the ocean in college (25% from arc in college; 37% in NBA).
4) November 21-22 in Brooklyn, pretty good hoop twinbill. UNLV-Stanford, then Duke-Temple is the first night’s card. Weird for two west coast schools to come so far to play each other, but those are the pairings.
3) Since 1976, Magic Johnson is the only player picked first in the NBA Draft to win an NBA championship as a rookie, and he also won the college title his last year at Michigan State.
2) Red Sox lost Jake Peavy’s last six road starts; Boston has led after five innings of play in only ten of its 41 road games.
1) Tim Lincecum no-hit the Padres twice in 11 months; last year’s Padres were a much better hitting team than this anemic group.
Lincecum walked four, struck out 13 LY, throwing 148 pitches. He walked one, struck out six Wednesday, throwing 113 pitches.
He induced 29 swings/misses LY, only 14 this year, as Padres put 21 balls in play (14 LY) but all were caught by the Giants.
Like we said Thursday, he is the first pitcher in 104 years to no-hit the same team twice, which is really a surprising fact.
Saturday's List #2: Thoughts on the NBA Draft..........
13) Its almost like the NBA Draft should be held after the free agency period, when teams have a better idea of what their core is going to look like. I mean, fact of the matter is where Lebron-Love-Anthony-Wade wind up is going to shape this league a hell of a lot more than any player that was picked Thursday night.
12) Zach LaVine was picked six slots ahead of Gary Harris, which infers that Minnesota's personnel guys don't watch game tape. Too many NBA teams draft based on potential, rather than production. LaVine scored 9.4 ppg in college last year; he can jump very high, but can he play? The fact that he seemed distraught when Minnesota picked him doesn't help matters either.
11) Chicago traded for Doug McDermott, who gives the Bulls scoring punch.
10) My friend Joe in Philly tells me that 76er fans in Philly are delighted with the Joel Embiid pick; they wouldn't have been happy with Dante Exum. I'm liking Philly trading for Dario Saric, but he won't be here for two years.
9) Myself, I'm really nervous for Embiid; he didn't finish his college season with a bad back, then broke his foot this spring and is rumored to have soft bones, whatever that means. I'm old enough to remember Sam Bowie, who was infamously drafted ahead of Michael Jordan. This might not turn out well.
8) Lakers drafted Julius Randle, who reminds some of Zach Randolph; he can do a lot of interviews with GQ now that he'll be living in Tinseltown.
7) It almost seems like ESPN doesn't take the draft seriously when it puts wiseguy Bill Simmons on its draft coverage; Rece Davis and Jay Bilas are fine, but how about having someone on the panel who has actually drafted players? Would this be such a difficult thing, to put an out of work GM on camera?
6) When did bow ties come back into style? Can't think this is a good thing.
5) 7-foot-2 Walter Tavares, who didn't own sneakers until five years ago, much less play basketball, was drafted in the second round by Atlanta. He's not a great athlete, he doesn't know much about the game, he's a good shot blocker and a pretty good rebounder in the Spanish League, but he is a project. I would've gone for 7-5 Sim Bhullar from New Mexico State, who has two years of college under his belt.
4) Orlando took Aaron Gordon with the 4th pick; he shot 42.2% from the foul line, on 180 attempts last year. I'm a 54-year old non-athlete who could go to the playground right now in the middle of the night in my sandals and make more than 42% from the foul line. Work on your skills kids. Shooting is a skill.
3) Wednesday night, former Baylor guard Pierre Jackson was playing in a summer league game at a middle school in Las Vegas; last night, he was traded to the 76ers, where he figures to make their roster. Jackson was a stellar college player who was bouncing around the D-League before his big break last night.
2) I feel bad for kids who come out of school early, then aren't picked, a kid like Khem Birch at UNLV, for instance. Who advises these kids? Now they're thrown into the D-League or go to Europe and they're a longshot to make the NBA, when they could've stayed in college and worked on their games more and improved.
1) On the other hand, it can be a blessing in disguise not to get drafted, since it gives you a chance to land on a summer league team with a franchise that needs your particular skills. I'll be in Las Vegas next month for part of the NBA Summer League, guys playing for their basketball lives. Highly competitive, very interesting to see.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) Clayton Kershaw is the first pitcher since 1991 (Tommy Greene) to back up a no-hitter with eight shutout innings in his next start.
12) Baseball America’s Prospect Report didn’t list Jesse Hahn as one of the Padres’ top 30 prospects this winter, but his last three starts for San Diego have been stellar. Can’t believe everything you read, I guess. Hahn went to high school with the Mets’ Matt Harvey in Connecticut.
11) How did David Wright not pick Giancarlo Stanton for Home Run Derby last summer? Someone in the Commissioner’s office should make sure that blunder doesn’t happen again.
10) Jeff Samardzija turned down $85M for five years from the Cubs? Wow. That’s life-changing money; he’s throwing a lot of innings this year- if his arm blows out, he gets bupkus.
9) 9th hole at Congressional this week is a 636-yard par 5. Want to see if anyone gets on that big boy in two.
8) Why would the baseball players’ union balk when MLB tried to ban smokeless tobacco? Is it just a power struggle? Tony Gwynn came out and said that smokeless tobacco is why he had cancer; why wouldn’t everyone want it banned?
7) Steven Strasburg on the road this season: 1-5, 6.53 in eight starts. Oy.
6) The appeal for Manny Machado’s suspension was held Wednesday (June 25); the incident in question happened June 6. Don’t these people have Skype or video-conferencing? Why does this take so long? It makes no sense.
5) Virginia lost the final of the College World Series by a run after it had its best hitter bunt while down a run with two men on, no one out. Some college coaches are bunt-crazy; you have your best hitter up, you let him hit, no?
4) Couple years ago while he was suspended, Saints’ coach Sean Payton caddied for pro golfer/buddy Ryan Palmer at the Greenbrier tournament in West Virginia. This year, the Saints moved their training camp to Greenbrier. Interesting.
3) Temple Owls hired alum/former NBA guard Rick Brunson as an assistant coach this week; just so happens that Brunson’s son Jalen is one of the top 15 recruits in the Class of ’15, maybe the best PG recruit. Funny how that works.
2) Alabama released a tape of Nick Saban driving players around in a boat last month, to make him look more human, so LSU countered this week with clips of Les Miles playing mini-golf. Nothing says we need football season to come soon like shots of our man Les putting a little orange ball. Seriously.
1) Was disappointed to read about new Texas football coach Charlie Strong struggling at a clinic for high school coaches in west Texas this week. For better or worse, schmoozing is a big part of college coaching and Strong isn’t good at it.
He is said to be a superior X’s and O’s tactician, but you need players to win and recruiting is often about building relationships and that’s what happens at clinics like the one this week. Strong alienated a lot of people this week and is off to a rocky start with the Longhorns.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) NBA Draft is tonight, the weirdest of all drafts for me. I spend my whole winter watching college basketball, hundreds of games, then guys get drafted that I’ve barely heard of, since they’re from overseas. Dante Exum is an Australian point guard touted as a top 5 pick. 76ers have the third pick; their coach, Brett Brown coached for 13 years in Australia, so if the Sixers pass on the kid, what does that tell the rest of the teams?
12) Then there is Walter Taveras, a 7-foot-2 22-year old enigma from Cape Verde, who has barely played basketball- he scored 6.4 ppg on whatever team he was on last year. They say he LOOKS like a player (which can be dangerous) but his physical conditioning is poor and he just hasn’t played much ball, which is both good and bad. He has more upside, but you have no idea if the love of the game and desire to excel is there. He could be Tiago Splitter and he could be Greg Oden.
11) I’m not a big Marcus Smart fan; I always expected him to take games over but he didn’t seem like that kind of a player; his worst possessions in NCAAs against Gonzaga were when Oklahoma State had the best chance to win. Would’ve liked to see him stay another year in college, since his season last year was disjointed for various reasons, but no one does that anymore. I’m suspicious of Smart as a player, and he’s going to go fairly high.
10) Then there is Julius Randle, who blew off a workout with the Celtics to meet with GQ Magazine about style. Seriously, that happened. Who is his agent? Major red flag there. Where are his priorities?
9) St John’s backed off on its recruitment of Oregon transfer Dominic Artis because of an off-court incident in Eugene; Artis wound up getting thrown out of Oregon along with two others. There are politics involved here in a case where the details are murky; he’s going to wind up at some mid or low major and make whatever coach that gets him very happy, as long as he keeps his nose clean from here on in.
8) Andrew Wiggins already signed a deal with Play Station to endorse its products; some of these players make more money off the court than on it, which is where having a solid agent comes in handy. It could also make the Lebron James situation more interesting, as one of his endorsers could push for him to play in a more high profile market, helping their product’s visibility.
7) Chase Utley won’t waive his no-trade clause so the Phillies can deal him before the July 31 trade deadline. Once you’ve been in the big leagues for 10 years, the last five with the same team, you can refuse to be traded, which is where Utley sits now. Philly probably needs to purge its older players and start over, but if you can’t trade those players for prospects, that makes the project a hell of a lot harder.
6) Tampa Bay isn’t going to contend this year and David Price can walk after the 2015 season, so they’re likely to deal him now, to maximize what they get back for him. Sad for Rays fans, but the best way for them to return to contention, unless what they get back for him is worth less than the two draft picks they’d get if he walked in free agency. They’ll be able to do better than that for Price.
5) Odd fact: the last two Heisman Trophy winners were first-year starting QB’s. Has college football gotten simpler? You wouldn’t think young players could step in and be successful so quickly, but they've been doing it.
4) Why isn’t the humerus considered the funny bone? Wouldn’t this make sense?
3) Read this week where the SEC has a reserve fund of $46M, which is why coaches make a fortune and why lawyers are pushing for athletes to be paid.
2) Glad to see that baseball changed the rules for a catcher at home plate; on force plays, he is allowed more leeway as to where he stands, since that is more like a play at first base than a regular tag play. Their flexibility to change rules on the fly shows that they really do want to get it right, but it is still a work in progress.
1) I’m waiting for a major league manager to lose an instant replay challenge, then run over, grab the headphones from that bag and start yelling at whoever is on the other end of them in New York City.
This is going to happen; whoever does it will be immortalized on ESPN highlights forever, with Jim Mora “Playoffs?!?!?!?” and Allen Iverson “Practice?!?!?”
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Vanderbilt has never won a national championship in any men’s sport; would be cool to see them win the baseball title. You’d think that in all these years, they would’ve won one in some obscure sport somewhere, but no. Virginia evened the finals 1-1 last night; winner-take-all game is tonight in Omaha.
12) Monday night at Wrigley, Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco hit a home run, walked twice and was hit by a pitch twice; no one in the last 100 years had done all that in the same game.
11) Arizona TV analyst Bob Brenly seems like a great guy, is normally very pleasant on air, but he was thrashing umpire CB Bucknor over the weekend for being a lousy umpire, not the first person to express that opinion. “How does he still have a job?” is pretty serious criticism, coming from a TV booth.
10) Kid named Dario Saric is a 6-10 forward who was expected to be a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft, but he recently signed a deal to play in Europe for two more years, so what NBA team will be patient enough to draft him and wait until he gets here? “Mr Saric, Coach Popovich is on line 2.”
9) Saw Charlotte Hornets new baseball caps the other day, with new Hornets’ logo; pretty sharp. Teal and purple is a good color combo.
8) Want to feel old? This fall Steve Alford will start his 24th season as a college head coach. I did a double take when I read that.
7) Read where some people think Jabari Parker tanked his workout with Cleveland, because he doesn’t want to play there. My question is this: if you’re another NBA team, do you want a guy who would do something like that? I want competitive guys, gym rats who will bust their butt, no matter what. Guys who tank workouts to manipulate the system don’t appeal to me.
6) In Tyson Ross’ last four starts, Padres were outscored by a combined 10-0 in the first five innings; hard to win if your team never scores a run for you.
5) Chicago Bears’ coach Marc Trestman won two Grey Cups while coaching the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL. CFL kicks off this week; we’ll have a writeup on every game on the NBA page of this site, starting in Week 3.
4) Steak ‘n Shake has 25 different milkshake flavors; someone needs to put a Steak ‘n Shake in Albany, for sure. Surefire money maker.
3) Only 39 days until the NFL’s first preseason game, Giants-Bills in Canton, at the Hall of Fame.
2) Remember the Pontiac Silverdome, where the Detroit Lions used to play? They’re wrecking the place; over $500,000 was raised last week selling off stuff that was in the dome. Someone got themselves some cool souvenirs.
1) If he stays with the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony can earn an average of $25,827,161 per season over five years; if he leaves, he can get an average of $23,974,343 over four years. Fly in ointment is the Knicks do not want to pay him that maximum amount, which is why he will probably leave.
Tuesday's List of 13: NFL knowledge for a summer day....
Information in this piece comes from the excellent Marc Lawrence Playbook, now available in fine bookstores everywhere.
13) Since 2010, Dallas Cowboys are 6-19 as home favorites; underdogs are 24-8 vs spread in their last 32 home games.
12) Ravens are 8-2 vs spread under John Harbaugh if they lost their previous game by double digit margin.
11) Seattle Seahawks are 25-11 vs spread with Russell Wilson at QB.
10) Chicago Bears covered once in their last nine games as an underdog.
9) Steelers are 36-19-2 vs spread in division games with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback
8) Atlanta Falcons are 16-9 vs spread in their last 25 games as a favorite.
7) Patriots are 30-14-3 vs. spread with Tom Brady at QB if they lost their previous game.
6) Buffalo Bills covered nine of their last 11 road games if they were also on road the week before.
5) Arizona Cardinals were 4-1 vs. spread LY in game following a loss.
4) Miami Dolphins are 6-1 as a home underdog with Ryan Taneyhill at QB.
3) Carolina Panthers are just 7-15 vs. spread in their last 22 games as a dog.
2) Philip Rivers’ Chargers are 23-14-2 vs spread as an underdog.
1) Cincinnati Bengals covered the last nine times they were a home underdog against an NFC team.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend......
13) Golfer Kevin Streelman birdied the last seven holes to win the Hartford Open by a stroke; its hard to birdie seven holes in a row in mini-golf. Last time a guy had a run like that was 1956, when Mike Souchak birdied the last six holes in St Paul.
12) Evan Gattis had his 20-game hitting streak ended Sunday, longest by a guy who caught all those games since Jason Kendall's 20-game streak in 2004.
11) Saturday night was the Indians' first sellout since Opening Day.
10) San Diego Padres fired GM Josh Byrnes Sunday, amidst rumors that they'll bring back former GM Kevin Towers once he parts ways with the Diamondbacks, which he almost certainly will since Tony Larussa now runs things there.
9) Angels' pitcher Matt Shoemaker made the big leagues despite not being one of the 1,504 players picked in the 2008 draft.
8) Bronx Bombers are 22-11 in games decided by 1 or 2 runs, 17-24 in games won by 3+ runs. Everyone has injuries, but Joe Girardi is getting a lot out of a roster with lot of older, fading, oft-injured players.
7) Over 60% of American-born players in major leagues played college baseball.
6) Virginia-Vanderbilt play best-of-3 for the national baseball title this week. This is the 7th year in a row an SEC team is the College World Series. Its been 58 years since an ACC team won the championship (Wake Forest).
5) NBA prospect Isaiah Austin (from Baylor) won't play ball any more after a routine physical discovered Marfan Syndrome, which can lead to heart problems if not dealt with. Sad thing for the kid; we wish him well.
4) NHL season just ended, but they've already announced the schedule for next season; Toronto Maple Leafs have 18 sets of back/backs, which is a lot. Reason is said to be that Rogers Communications played a small fortune for TV rights and they want the Leafs on a lot of Saturday/Sunday telecasts, so thats that.
3) Sonny Gray will get his turn skipped Tuesday and will pitch Saturday, just to lighten his workload over the course of the season. This is his first full year in major leagues and they don't want him throwing much more than 200 innings this season.
2) No pitcher should ever bat in an All-Star Game; its a game the DH was made for. They have so many guys in the game to begin with; why should pitchers bat?
1) Home field in World Series should be determined by who wins interleague play. It is still stupid that the result of the All-Star Game means anything, and I'll rant more about this in next three weeks, since the A's have a shot to get to the World Series.
Sunday's List of 13: College knowledge from ACC/Pac-12......
13) We mentioned last week how only two of LY’s top nine SEC passers are back in school this year; Pac-12 is a different story, with eight of LY’s top nine passers back for another year. Pac-12 games figure to be pretty high scoring then, with so much experience back under center.
) USC is just 8-19 vs spread in its last 27 games as a regular season favorite, but they’ve won/covered four of last five bowl games and were favored in all five.
11) Arizona State is 18-9 under Todd Graham, 13-5 vs spread when favored; they’re +30 in turnovers the last three years, +21 under Graham- they somehow went 6-7 in Dennis Erickson’s last season, despite a +9 turnover ratio.
10) UCLA is +17 in turnovers in two years under Jim Mora (!9-8); the previous five years, Bruins were -24 in turnovers, went just 27-37, so he’s done lot of work in a short time in Westwood.
9) Arizona averaged 228/265 rushing yards/game in Rich Rodriguez’ first two years in Tucson, going 8-5 both years; the previous five years, Wildcats were 32-31, running ball for just 124.2 yards/game, as they tried to spread field and throw ball a lot, so RichRod has really made Arizona more balanced.
8) NC State’s first four games this season: Georgia Southern/Old Dominion/@ South Florida/Presbyterian. Not a lot there. Then they play Florida State/@ Clemson on consecutive Saturdays; what genius made this schedule?
7) North Carolina averaged 40.6/32.7 ppg in Larry Fedora’s first two seasons in Chapel Hill, going 15-10. In their previous five seasons, Tar Heels went 35-29 and didn't average more than 28 ppg in any one of those five seasons.
6) Virginia Tech’s rushing yards/game over the last five years, starting with 2009: 208-199-187-146-120. Down four years in a row. Hokies have four starters back on OL this season, so that rushing average should go up a decent amount this fall.
5) Hard to believe Miami Hurricanes haven’t won a bowl game since 2006 and that was 21-20 over Nevada in a bowl game in Boise. Seeing how Hurricanes signed up two-time transfer QB Jake Heaps this week, they may have QB issues.
4) Over last three seasons, Virginia (7-17), Maryland (6-18) had two worst records in ACC conference games. With Terps gone to the Big 14, there is lot of pressure on Virginia coach London to move up in the standings, in this his fifth year with the Cavaliers. Not a lot of patience in the sports world these days.
3) Florida State won its last five bowl games, despite being underdog in three of them- dogs covered four of those five games.
2) Duke scored 34-48 points in bowl games the last two years but lost both games, 48-34/52-48. Blue Devils averaged 31.5/32.8 ppg the last two seasons, as coach Cutcliffe once again proves to be an offensive wizard.
1) With so many bowl games now, any coach who misses a bowl, unless he’s on probation, his job is going to be in jeopardy. Then again, if you’re on probation, that alone should put you on the hot seat. Not easy being a coach these days.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) ESPN.com is ranking the top 50 college basketball coaches this month, a thankless task that will annoy far more than it informs. I’m trying not to be too critical of the list, which also includes 25 coaches who just missed the top 50, but if you don’t have Larry Eustachy/Mark Gottfried in your top 75 (really 76, since Scott Drew/Randy Bennett tied for #50), then what kind of a ranking is it?
Eustachy is a terrific coach who has won at Idaho, Southern Miss, Colorado State and almost got Iowa State to a Final Four. Lets see Jim Boeheim coach at Idaho and win. Gottfried has won at Murray State, Alabama and now at NC State. Like I said, it’s a thankless job, but they should still do better than they are.
12) Put it this way: there is no way on God’s green earth that Craig Neal (head coach for one year) or Derek Kellogg (what has he done at UMass?) are better coaches than Eustachy. Not even debatable.
11) 16-year veteran Patrick Mannelly (295 games) is retiring from the Chicago Bears, meaning for the first time this century, the Bears will have a new long snapper. Obscure guy, but a critical position.
10) CBSSports.com had a great article on new Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams, and how he felt the Big East being on FOX Sports1 instead of ESPN helped sway him to leave Marquette for an ACC cellar dweller in Blacksburg. Williams is apparently also wary of coaching at a school that doesn’t have bigtime football. He is an unusual guy; the article is well worth reading if you like college hoop.
9) Former Oregon point guard Dominic Artis, who had a very good freshman season but fell off the map last year in Eugene, is visiting St John’s this weekend. Artis would be a good get for Steve Lavin, who was also conspicuously absent from ESPN’s List of 76 and he worked there for seven years.
8) NBA is moving the league logo to the back of players’ jerseys next season, which paves the way for advertising to be added to the front. It happens in Europe, its going to happen here. Just a matter of whether it will be this year or next.
7) Golden State Warriors hired Alvin Gentry to be Steve Kerr’s top assistant; Warriors are involved in the Kevin Love sweepstakes; they’ll be an interesting team to watch this winter. Kerr is going to coach the Warriors’ team in the Las Vegas Summer League- they usually have the most fans there, so that should be fun.
6) Cleveland Indians have six walkoff wins this year, with four of the six coming on home runs; four walkoff HRs leads the major leagues.
5) If the Washington Redskins have to change their name, wouldn’t Hogs be a good option for a new name? Pays homage to the Redskins’ offensive line of the 80’s; they could use a logo similar to what the Arkansas Razorbacks have.
4) Bill Donovan/Ed Cooley are coaching the U18 national basketball team in Colorado Springs this week; their first game was against Uruguay- they were up by 58 at the half. Doesn't sound too fun to watch.
3) I’m positive that baseball would be a better game if they got rid of the DH and teams had 27-man rosters. Managers would have more flexibility, the union would have 60 more members; who loses in the deal, other than washed up sluggers who can’t field?
2) In 2008, 21-year old Sean Doolittle hit 22 HRs in the Oakland farm system as a 1B; he got hurt the next year and returned in 2011 as a relief pitcher. Now he is the A’s closer and a damn good one. Small markets teams can win if they’re clever and think outside the box.
1) Please stop writing about Johnny Manziel; please???? Let him have his fun, then training camps will open, then preseason games will start, THEN you can write about him. In meantime, use your imagination; find someone else to write about.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.........
13) Dodger pitchers tossed no-hitters 24 days apart, shortest span between no-hitters by one team since Johnny VanderMeer’s consecutive no-hitters in 1938, the second of which was the first night game played in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, against the Dodgers.
12) After Clayton Kershaw struck out the last hitter Wednesday night, LA catcher AJ Ellis placed his helmet/mask on home plate before joining the celebration. Ellis sprained his ankle stepping on Tim Federowicz’ mask during the celebration after Josh Beckett’s no-hitter last month.
11) Cubs moved Kris Bryant, one of their two big prospects, up to AAA this week; he is a power hitting third baseman.
10) Homer Bailey makes $17M a year? Seriously? He should buy his agent’s wife a dozen roses every day, but is contract is still 1,000 times better than Edwin Jackson’s with the Cubs. Giving Jackson an 8-figure salary is unfathomable.
9) If Brock Holt can play catcher, he could be one of those guys who plays all nine positions in one game- he’s already played every one but catcher this season. Not sure what happens to Holt when Shane Victorino gets healthy; does he have to keep hitting .330 to stay in the lineup?
8) Bitcoin replaces Beef O’Brady’s as sponsor of the St Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field; there are too many bowl games, to the point where teams with losing records will be playing in them.
7) Drawings of the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium remind me of the opera house in Sydney you see during the Australian Open every year. Looks like a series of big tents. Braves are getting a new stadium and now the Falcons are, too.
6) Michigan State has only had two basketball coaches since 1976, Jud Heathcoat and Tom Izzo; Pittsburgh Steelers have had three head coaches since 1968.
5) Golfer Trevor Immelman had an albatross (2 on a par-5) on the 13th hole at the Hartford Open, holing out from 246 yards away. An albatross is more rare than a hole-in-one.
4) Rory McIlroy flew to Ireland this week, but his clubs missed the flight, which didn’t make him very happy with the airlines—how do you leave a celebrity golfer’s clubs off the plane? Clubs eventually caught up to him in Ireland.
3) Speaking of golf, having it as an Olympic sport is a bad idea; nothing says amateur sports like McIlroy-Mickelson-Woods-Jason Day in a Final Four for Olympic medals. Golfers should have to carry their own bags in the Olympics.
2) Phoenix Suns have three first round picks in NBA Draft next week; Celtics have two. No word if the Suns are willing to part with one of the draft picks.
1) Very bad news for Kansas big man Joel Embiid, who apparently broke his foot during a recent workout. In a case like this, Embiid should be allowed to go back to Kansas for another year- wouldn’t that be fair? If I’m an NBA team, I look at Embiid, think of Sam Bowie/Greg Oden and I do not pick him. Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.
Thursday's List of 13: Football: some college knowledge......
Most of the knowledge below was gained from reading Phil Steele’s great college football magazine…..
13) Phil Steele’s top 5 surprise teams for 2014: Georgia-USC-Wisconsin-TCU-North Carolina.
12) Kansas State’s Bill Snyder is a Hall of Fame coach, for sure; going 178-90-1 as a football coach in Manhattan, KS is an amazing feat, considering how dismal K-State’s football program had been before Snyder took over- they would regularly lose by 30-40 points to Nebraska/Oklahoma every year.
Snyder “retired” for three years, and Wildcats stumbled to a 17-20 mark, so he came back and posted 13 outright upsets in five years since. Snyder is 7-8 in bowl games in the Little Apple, where bowl games used to be pipe dreams; K-State is +31 in turnovers the last two seasons.
11) Michigan State won its last three bowl games by a total of 8 points, and were underdog in all three games. Michigan is 2-3 in its last five bowls, allowing an average of 34.2 ppg. On the bright side for the Wolverines, they’re 7-3-1 vs spread under Brady Hoke in games following a loss.
10) Phil Steele’s top 4 offensive lines this season: Oregon-Auburn-Wisconsin-Florida State.
9) Houston Cougars were +25 in turnovers LY; next best teams were Florida State/Louisville, both +17 and Missouri +16.
Worst teams in turnover ratio LY: Southern Miss -19, California -15, Texas Tech -14 and Rutgers/Eastern Michigan, both -12.
8) Since 1997, Auburn is 10-1 vs Alabama in games decided by 10 or less points, 0-6 in games decided by more than ten points.
7) Seven of the top 9 QBs in the SEC LY are gone, leaving Nick Marshall/Maty Mauk as the top two returning passers, not exactly Elway/Marino territory.
6) There is a bowl game in the Bahamas Christmas Eve, which combines with the Aloha Bowl to spruce up an ordinarily lame TV schedule that night. Don’t laugh, for teams in C-USA/MAC, three or four hours of prime time TV exposure in a tropical setting is recruiting gold.
5) Three teams who should improve this year, thanks to an easier schedule: Idaho-Mississippi State-Pittsburgh.
Three teams who should regress this year, thanks to a harder schedule: Rutgers-Miami-Louisville.
4) Over the last ten years, LSU is 25-38-1 against the spread as a home favorite. Staying in the SEC, Tennessee is just 8-17 as an underdog since 2010.
3) Louisville is 11-3 vs spread in game following its last 14 losses. Boston College is 0-4 in bowl games since 2008, scoring an average of 14.8 ppg; that drought following an 8-game bowl winning streak from when Tom O’Brien was coach there.
2) UCLA returns its top four rushers from LY, five of its top six receivers, it has a 3rd-year starting QB and four starters back on the offensive line, as well as eight starters back on defense. National champs, anyone? Bruins are 9-5 as a favorite under Jim Mora.
1) Phil Steele’s top 5 preseason teams: Florida State-Alabama-UCLA-Oregon-Oklahoma.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but...........
13) What if Lebron James woke up tomorrow and decided he wanted to be a Milwaukee Buck? He already has all the money he needs and then some, so he could go anywhere he wants and the team would be really good, since other free agents would follow, for the chance to win a title. He’s more likely to wake up and decide he wants to be a Laker or play in New York, but his decision this summer with a be a domino that falls before almost any of the other ones can.
12) Miami Marlins brought up pitching prospects DeSclafani and Heaney Monday; they’ve deemed themselves contenders and are going for it. Then they went out and lost at home in 13 innings to the Cubs, when pitcher Travis Wood knocked in the game-winning run with an opposite field pinch-hit. Wood’s hit was the first by a Cub pitcher in a game he didn’t pitch since 1950.
11) Eric Musselman moves from Arizona State to LSU as an assistant; not sure why he can’t get a head coaching job—he’s been an NBA head coach already.
10) Glad to hear that Derrick Rose is healthy enough to play for Team USA this summer; wonder how his employers in Chicago feel about that? They’ve paid him $34M+ over the past two years and he’s played a total of 10 games—not exactly a healthy return on their investment. They need him healthy in January, not July.
9) Underrated stat: team’s record in starts by a pitcher, as opposed to a starting pitcher’s personal won-lost record. By way of example, Cole Hamels pitched great his last two starts, but didn’t get a decision in either game, both won by the Phils’ bullpen. I’d rather know what Philly’s record is in all of his starts than his personal W-L record, which is skewed by bad offensive support or a lousy bullpen.
8) Airfares in May went up the most they’ve gone up in one month over the last 15 years. Glad I already have my tickets for my next two vacations.
7) It was good to see Bill Russell smiling on TV Sunday night; seems like he enjoys watching the Spurs play, their team-oriented concept probably reminds Russell of his playing days in Boston.
6) All of which reminds me of the night before Thanksgiving, 1975, when I was 15 and in Boston to watch a Seattle-Celtic game because Sonics’ center Tom Burleson was my favorite player. At halftime, I go behind the Seattle bench, tap Burleson on the shoulder and ask him for his autograph.
He politely declined, at about the same time Russell looked up from his stat sheet and gave me a death stare. I mean, if looks could kill, I would’ve been buried behind the Sonics’ bench that night. Glad to see he’s cheered up some.
5) Pitt Panthers hired assistant coach Marion Williamson away from UMass; he was an AAU coach in Detroit before hooking on with UMass, so he has recruiting connections in the talent-rich Motor City area.
4) San Diego Padres are 22-4 when they score 4+ runs, which is great; problem is, they’ve played 71 games and are 7-38 when they score less than four runs. Nothing more depressing than a bad team that can’t hit.
3) Guard Nick Faust transfers from Maryland to Long Beach State, where he figures to be a damn good player; Big West is a few notches down the food chain from the ACC.
2) I listened to people complain about our lousy weather all winter, which is fine, because it was lousy, but now a lot of those same people are complaining because it is too hot out. Enough already; there is no such thing as weather being too nice. Not everyone lives in San Diego, where it is 72 and sunny every day.
1) Vin Scully told a great story Monday night about when the Dodgers traded Don Newcombe to the Reds in 1958; Newcombe had been a really good pitcher but he had arm trouble late in his career, as most pitchers do.
He was 0-6 when LA traded him; the trainer in Cincinnati asked Newcombe if he could put ice on the pitcher’s shoulder after his next start, a treatment that was never previously done in baseball. Newcome’s arm felt better, he went on a 7-game winning streak; icing a pitcher’s arm became a baseball necessity. Excellent story.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) RIP Mr Tony Gwynn.
One of the greatest hitters of all-time, he also played college hoop and coached baseball at San Diego State. Gwynn pioneered the use of videotape study in hitting, was a true student of the game, also seemed like a good guy when he was announcing games on TV. It is also unsettling to see someone pass away who is the same age I am. RIP, sir.
12) Jimmy Rollins set the all-time hit record for the Phillies’ franchise this weekend, then changed his tune and said he would be open to a trade if the team was going to rebuild- he really wanted that record.
11) Rollins’ 2015 option (at big bucks, $15M I think) kicks in if he gets to 434 plate appearances this season; as of Sunday, he had 280, so whomever he gets traded to will commit to him for this year and next.
10) San Antonio Spurs shot 52.8% from the floor in the NBA Finals, highest any team has ever shot in the Finals. An impressive display of team basketball and taking advantage of an opponent that just seemed to be tired.
9) Cleveland Indians are 27-20 vs right handed starting pitchers, 8-15 vs lefties.
8) Zach Johnson got a hole-in-one Sunday on the 9th hole, just the second ace in the three Pinehurst US Opens. Other one was by Peter Jacobsen in 2005, also on the 9th hole; funny thing is, both guys were paired with Kenny Perry when they got their aces, nine years apart.
7) 13 Division I basketball teams are taking trips to the Bahamas in August; the biggest benefit to coaches are the ten extra practices that are allowed before a trip like that. These trips are a great benefit, unless someone gets hurt during them (ask USC or Butler about that).
6) Travis D’Arnaud is down in AAA learning how to hit again; he’s 12 for his first 29 down there, with five homers in seven games. The hitting coach at Las Vegas is George Greer, who spent 17 years as the baseball coach at Wake Forest; he’s an older gent who has had to repair of lot of damaged psyches already this season, with so many players shuffling between Flushing and Las Vegas.
5) While with the Mets this season, D’Arnaud came to bat with 105 men on base, but knocked only six of them in. This is not good, which is why he is back in AAA, they say for at least 50-60 at-bats.
4) There are three major league position players who have batted 100+ times this season and have yet to knock in a runner from third base: James Jones (0-10), Ryan Kalish (0-9) and Craig Gentry (0-7).
3) Batters who have come to bat with the most men on base this season, and percentage of runners they’ve knocked in: Alvarez (222, 10.8%), Encarnacion (221, 15.4%), Pukols (210, 11.9%), McGehee (209, 19.0%).
2) Batters with 100+ plate appearances who’ve knocked in highest percentage of runners this season: Miguel Cabrera 29.1%, Charlie Blackmon 24.4%, Hector Sanchez 23.9%, Danny Santana 23.2%.
1) Kawhi Leonard is just the sixth player to win NBA Finals MVP without having been an All-Star earlier that season; first person to do it was Willis Reed in 1973. Chauncey Billups was most recent to do it before this year, back in ’04.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend......
13) A belated Happy Birthday to Big Dawg, who turned 29 again this weekend; hope he left some money for me in Las Vegas.
Big Dawg and this website share the same birthday; this site turned 13 years old this week. Thanks to you for reading-- glad you enjoy it.
12) Congrats to the San Antonio Spurs for winning the NBA title and striking a great blow for team basketball and organization development. They fell behind 22-6 Sunday night, then went on a 50-20 run-- that doesn't happen a lot at that level.
11) Lebron James made $30M when Apple bought Beats from Dr Dre.
10) Still looks weird when you see still photos of NHL action and there are two cameras in each net. Provides the league with a great replay system and some great pictures, but its funny that cameras are so close to the action.
9) In case you wonder about such things, there have been 31 games this season that were decided by 10+ runs; Oakland A's won seven of those 31 games.
8) Dodgers would be in the playoffs if they started today, but a 15-20 home record is not what they expected to happen.
7) Washington's Jordan Zimmerman lost 1-0 in St Louis this weekend, but he threw a 76-pitch complete game, which almost never happens- it was an eight-inning complete game because St Louis won, but 76 pitches in eight innings is tremendous.
6) LSU basketball player Anthony Hickey transfers to Oklahoma State, a good get for Travis Ford, who needs some good news after a rough end to last season.
5) Fifty years ago this week, the Cardinals-Cubs made a six-player trade, with the Cubs getting Ernie Broglio, a solid starting pitcher whose best days were behind him, while the Cardinals got Lou Brock, who led them to the World Series in three of the next five years. One of the most famous, one-sided trades in baseball history.
4) Cardinals' .330 batting average with runners in scoring position LY was the best in the last 40 years by any team; last I heard this year, their average with RISP was only .238, which is a big reason why they're 3-5 games behind Milwaukee.
3) Don't look now, but Kansas City Royals have won seven games in a row, are only 1.5 games of first place in the AL Central.
2) Rough weekend for American sports, as Spurs won NBA title with only six of its 15 players born in this country, while Martin Kaymer became eighth foreign golfer in the last eleven years to win the US Open.
1) If the baseball playoffs started Monday morning, they'd look like this:
NL: Atlanta-Milwaukee-San Francisco; Wild Cards: Cards-Dodgers
AL: Toronto-Detroit-Oakland; Wild Cards: Angels-Kansas City
Sunday's List of 13: Random Groups of Three........
13) Three best sports weekends of the year:
a) First weekend of NCAA basketball tournament
b) Week 1 of the NFL season
c) Thanksgiving weekend.
12) Three people who make me laugh:
Steve Martin-Bill Murray-Uncle Si on Duck Dynasty
11) I’m down a FG, 2:00 left, we’ve got the ball on our 20-yard line. Three QBs I would most want on my side: Tom Brady-John Elway-Kurt Warner.
10) Three favorite places I’ve visited:
Las Vegas-Philadelphia-Stockholm, Sweden.
9) Three people who should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but aren’t:
Charles O Finley-Mike Piazza-Pete Rose.
8) Three underrated things to do in Las Vegas:
a) go bowling at 4am at South Point, then have breakfast in coffee shop.
b) play old-time pinball games at the Pinball Hall of Fame
c) Visit Gold/Silver Pawn Shop, where they film the TV show Pawn Stars. Maybe Chumlee will be there.
7) Three favorite places to eat in Las Vegas:
Battista’s on Flamingo, Carnegie Deli in The Mirage, In ‘n Out Burger, either in Henderson or on Dean Martin Blvd.
6) All-time NBA starting 5: Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
5) Three places I haven’t been to yet, but would like to: Baton Rouge-Phoenix-Toronto. Want to see an LSU home game on a Saturday night.
4) My three favorite meals:
Pizza—spaghetti and meatballs-scrambled eggs, sausage and white toast.
3) We’re tied in World Series 2-2; three games left, the three starting pitchers I’d most want lined up to pitch the last three games:
Catfish Hunter-Randy Johnson-Sandy Koufax.
2) My three favorite TV shows: CSI-Magnum PI-Suits.
1) Three favorite musicians: Billy Joel-Van Morrison-Bob Seger.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Martin Kaymer is now 4-7 to win the US Open, meaning you would have to risk $70 for every $40 you win; no one else is in the field is lower than 20-1; if only players within ten shots of the lead made the cut, a mere 19 players would be teeing off Saturday. NBC needs Kaymer to collapse to have an interesting finish.
12) Charlotte Bobcats cut Boris Diaw on March 21, 2012, maybe best thing that has ever happened to him; he had nine assissts for the Spurs Thursday night, and is on the verge of winning an NBA championship.
11) Speaking of Charlotte (now the Hornets), Michael Jordan shuffled some of the responsibilities in the front office, which resulted in Rod Higgins leaving the team. He had been president of basketball operations; not anymore.
10) Before this week, 1977 Portland Trailblazers were last team to win consecutive NBA Finals games by 19+ points.
9) Oakland Grizzlies of the Horizon League picked up a couple transfers from high major programs; Percy Gibson from Iowa State, Max Hodder from St John's. When kids wash out of top 50 programs, the mid-majors swoop in.
8) Then there are the major programs who poach good players from mid-majors; Michigan State grabs transfer Bryn Forbes away from Cleveland State; Forbes had 22 in a game against Kentucky this year, scored 15.6 ppg for the Vikings.
7) There are nine former Georgia Bulldog golfers in US Open this week, which is thought to be an Open record for one college.
6) Friday was just third sub-par round out of 39 in US Open for Adam Scott.
5) Saw some highlights of Payne Stewart's win US Open win at Pinehurst 15 years ago, and Dick Enberg was NBC's lead golf voice. Now its 2014 and Enberg is still going strong, doing play-by-play on Padres' telecasts.
4) 14 of the Cardinals' 35 wins this season have been shutouts.
3) Going into Friday night's game, 12 of the 16 position players in the Padre-Met starting lineups were hitting .230 or less.
2) Gregory Polanco homered in the 13th inning as Pittsburgh survived blowing a 6-2 ninth inning lead in Miami- they beat the Marlins 8-6.
1) RIP coach Chuck Noll, probably the most underrated coach in the history of American team sports; he led the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles, when they had been 18-49-3 in the five years before Noll took over- they made the playoffs in his 4th year, the Super Bowl in his 6th year, then won three more. He never promoted himself, just won an awful lot of games. RIP, sir.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.........
13) Here’s an idea for your next party; the person who owns the infamous white Ford Bronco from the OJ Simpson/Al Cowlings chase 20 years ago rents the vehicle out for parties. What could be more festive?
12) Former President George H Bush turned 90 years old this week, and to commemorate the occasion, will sky dive for the last time. Good for him; I’ve got a hard enough time walking down the stairs from one of those planes, much less jumping out of one.
11) In the last four years, over half of the 351 Division I college basketball jobs have turned over; that’s a lot of change.
10) A’s will be without pitching coach Curt Young and 3B coach Mike Gallego for Saturday’s game; both will be in Arizona for memorial service of former teammate Bob Welch, who passed away earlier this week.
9) As of Thursday morning, 25 of 30 major league teams were within five games of a playoff spot, which is why the Twins went after Kendrys Morales. Top-to-bottom in the AL Central is within 3.5 games. The second Wild Card helps keep teams in the race, which is why they probably should push the trade deadline back to August 15 or 31, as opposed to the current July 31 deadline.
8) Yoenis Cespedes has nine outfield assists this year, four against the Angels, three of which came at home plate, the other at third base. He can really throw; most guys with arms like his play rightfield.
7) If you judge 2014 NFL schedules by 2013 records, these three teams have the hardest schedules this season: Raiders (.578), Broncos (.570), Rams (.564).
6) June 23 is the deadline for NBA players to opt out of contracts to become free agents; there could be Interweb pandemonium if Carmelo Anthony opts out. I’m thinking Phil Jackson wouldn’t mind if he did, but he can’t say that publicly. Anthony is an older player who isn’t exactly a selfless individual; for the Knicks to become championship caliber, Anthony (an 11-year vet with 23 career playoff wins) has to go.
5) Julius Randle will get drafted high by a NBA team later this month, then will get his injured foot fixed and miss most of the summer, which means I won’t see him in Las Vegas next month.
4) I’m looking forward to seeing Steve Kerr coach the Warriors’ team in Vegas and seeing what the Knicks put together for their summer team. Will Derek Fisher coach it? Will Phil Jackson be there? Summer league is usually great fun to go to.
3) Mississippi State-Oregon State are starting a home/home hoop series this fall; no easy way to get from Starkville to Corvallis- must be made-for-TV games.
2) MGM Grand will host a tournament Nov 24/26 with Oklahoma State-Tulsa-Auburn-Oregon State. Three of those four teams have new coaches this season.
1) Speaking of coaches, ESPN.com is ranking top 50 college basketball coaches this month, a truly thankless job. I won’t even bother discussing their rankings, since what I think is important is way different than what they think or what you think, but if Bruce Pearl isn’t one of the 50 best coaches in America, then I weigh 150 pounds with a full head of hair, because neither of those two things is close to being true, either.
Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind......
13) Manny Machado is appealing his 5-game suspension for being a jackass, maybe because the Orioles are playing division rivals this week; this suspension should’ve been immediate. What is he appealing? His own team was criticizing him.
12) Baseball’s system regarding appealing suspensions is ridiculously drawn out; when Carlos Gomez got suspended for an altercation in Pittsburgh, he didn’t serve the actual time for 3-4 weeks. In this day of Skype and video conferencing, having an appeal the next morning shouldn't be out of question in most cases. Move things along; good grief.
11) Orioles got blanked by Brandon Workman Tuesday night; he is in same boat as Machado, appealing a suspending for throwing behind Evan Longoria’s head a couple weeks ago. Workman will get his appeal heard eventually, hopefully before the season ends. Instant replay is working well; now they need to get on this appeal thing and fix it.
10) Delaware Blue Hens threw their best returning player off the team this week; Jarvis Threatt averaged 18 ppg and 5.4 assists/game last year. The way this offseason is going, either Auburn, South Florida or Tennessee will get him- those are the three teams that have been most aggressive in pursuing “free agent” players.
9) Marist basketball job is still open; its women’s team outdraws the men’s team by 600 or so fans a game, probably because the women’s team has won nine MAAC titles in a row, while the men don’t have a MAAC title yet. Not sure how good a job Marist is-- they'll have their third coach in three years this fall.
8) Antoine Mason will transfer from Niagara to Auburn; he was America’s second-leading scorer last year, and is the son of former NBA star Anthony Mason. Bruce Pearl doesn’t mess around; he’ll have a contending squad sooner than later.
7) Now BYU wants to join the Big X Conference, to share in the BCS football windfall. In an unrelated note, I’m interesting in dating Diane Lane. Neither of these two things has a chance in hell of actually happening.
6) Sad news from Miami, where Norris Cole’s personal chef was murdered this week. Lot of single pro athletes have a chef cook for them, to ensure that they eat well and stay healthier. This is yet another terrible tragedy; there's too much of this.
5) Serious question: Do major league baseball players practice sliding? Ever? I was just wondering, you never hear about it, but its an important part of the game, especially with the new rules around home plate.
4) They’re playing CFL exhibition games already; it isn’t even officially summer yet. CFL is at an awkward nine teams now, with Ottawa getting an expansion team this season.
3) Young basketball players need to study Kawhi Leonard on how to improve their game; here is a guy who shot 41-164 (25%) from the arc in his two seasons at San Diego State- that isn’t very good. In three seasons as a pro, Leonard has made 37.6% of his 3’s and the pro trey is a harder shot than the college one. Tremendous improvement; he had to have worked very hard on his shooting for that to happen.
2) Spurs often give key players nights off during the season; this allows their support players to take on a bigger role for those games, which expands their game. Guys like Mills, Leonard and Splitter have improved greatly thru this approach, and it is a big part of why San Antonio is where it is, two games from a title.
1) Twice in three games so far, 4th quarter of Game 1, first quarter of Game 3, the Spurs have had an eFG% of better than 100%, which is ridiculous. eFG% is just like regular FG%, except a 3-ball counts a basket-and-a-half. To be over 100% in any quarter is outrageously good; to do it twice in a span of six quarters in an NBA final is excellence bordering on perfection.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) ESPN.com had a terrific piece Tuesday on how Mack Brown stepping down as football coach at Texas had a domino effect that reached 103 coaching jobs at 47 colleges and four NFL teams. The coaching carousel can be wacky sometimes, especially in football, where there are so many assistant coaches on eeach team.
12) Garrick McGee went 5-19 as head coach at UAB the last two years, then resigned to become offensive coordinator at Louisville, working for old friend Bobby Petrino. Why, you say? Well, one more bad year at UAB and he was probably going to get fired anyway, plus, a coordinator’s job at Louisville pays $100K more a year than the head coach at UAB. Not too bad to lake a lesser job that pays more.
11) Cleveland Browns turned down chance to be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks; what would happen if every team turned them down? It has to be at least a little bit of a distraction, right? No one hates distractions like football coaches.
10) Browns’ coach Mike Pettine knows a little bit about reality TV; back 15 or so years ago, Pettine was featured along with his father, a legendary high school coach in eastern Pennsylvania, in one of the earliest sports reality shows. It was pretty interesting show; wonder if it’ll find its way back onto TV this fall?
9) New York Jet coaches were teaching Portuguese soccer players how to throw a football this week; why couldn’t they teach Tim Tebow how to throw one when he played for them?
8) A newspaper in Columbia, MS fired a sportswriter after he called Lafayette, LA “…the worst place on earth” after covering the Ole Miss/UL-Lafayette baseball series this weekend. Not sure if the guy was trying to be funny or if he truly dislikes southwestern Louisiana, but he lost his job because of it.
7) Marlins’ pitcher Henderson Alvarez got hurt covering first base Sunday against the Cubs, when a bad throw forced him to jump and he pulled a muscle. Alvarez had a scoreless streak of 26 innings at the time, but lost it when the pitcher who replaced him allowed the inherited runners to score, so a bad deal all around there.
Miami would be a serious playoff contender had Jose Fernandez not gotten hurt; if Alvarez is out for any length of time, it could be a disaster for this year’s Fish.
6) Brewers/Giants are both in first place; their CFs are both ex-Mets. On 12/7/11, the Mets traded Angel Pagan to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez, a relief pitcher- not good.
On 2/2/08, Mets traded Gomez and three other players to the Twins for Johan Santana, a move that at least helped the Mets for a while, since Santana was an excellent pitcher. Gomez, however, has turned into a really good player for the Brew Crew. This is why you have to wait a while to fully judge a trade.
5) Speaking of the Twins, their first round draft pick has already signed for $3.85M, not a bad payday for a high school kid. Smart of the kid to sign quickly, now he can go play rookie ball and get his feet wet in pro ball.
4) You know that tote board in New York where they track the national debt and it runs endlessly? Donald Sterling’s lawyers must have a clock like that counting billable hours as they rack up with this nitwit insisting on suing the NBA in a non-winnable case that will just cause everyone stress and embarrassment, other than the lawyers, who will make a freakin' fortune.
3) Pittsburgh Steelers are going to run more no-huddle this year? Mike Tomlin finally figured out that he has one of the best QBs in football and wants to let him run things? Smart move, if it happens.
2) New York Knicks are paying Phil Jackson $12M a year, Derek Fisher $5M a year and neither has ever done his current job before. Sounds like the Knicks.
1) Monday night was just the second time all season (April 7 the other) where no game saw the winning run score after the sixth inning. Not a lot of drama Monday- there are usually always a game or two that turn on a late rally.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but..........
13) The college football playoff this January is going to be huge; they finally hit on the goldmine that has been waiting there for a long time. Think national media will be surprised by how big this is going to be.
12) NCAA settled one of the video game lawsuits for $20M or so; would be ironic if Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit was to bring down NCAA; they were ones who pushed him to go to UCLA to force Jerry Tarkanian to retire at UNLV, when he was rebuilding his team after the great 1989-91 run. O'Bannon blew out his knee in a pickup game, was never really the same again, which led him to this point.
11) Minnesota Twins sent Jason Kubel down to AAA, if they can’t trade him in 10 days, after signing Kendrys Morales. Heath Bell used his opt-out for the Orioles and is now a free agent. Only a truly desperate bullpen will pick him up. Morales was in the lineup Monday, hitting 6th as the DH.
10) Michigan State didn’t have a great recruiting year in basketball, but they did pick up West Virginia transfer Eron Harris, who scored 17 ppg for WVU last season- he has to sit out this coming season, will have two years left to play.
9) Dayton picked up a transfer from James Madison couple weeks ago, but lost starting PG Khari Price this weekend, in what appears to be the case of a kid just wanting to go to school closer to home. Louisiana Tech is a rumored destination for the young man.
8) USC’s leading scorer Byron Wesley winds up transferring to Gonzaga, where he is supposed to be eligible immediately. He’ll help the Zags with scoring from the wing. USC will have a lot of new guys this fall.
7) Tennessee-VCU, Michigan State-Navy will be a twinbill in Annapolis November 14, start of an annual event Navy will host to tip-off college basketball season. Other three teams will change each year.
6) That just made me realize that I’m going to be in Las Vegas for the start of college basketball this fall, and for ESPN’s college hoop marathon—that’ll be fun.
5) Florida State sold out its football season tickets for the first time since 2003, proving once again, that if you build it and win, they will come.
4) 13 times this year a pitcher threw 125+ pitches in game. Cole Hamels has done it three times, CJ Wilson twice. Eight others once each.
3) Had no idea that when an NFL player fires his agent, he has to wait five days to hire another one; some of these guys could change their mind 8-10 times in that long a period, then wind up with the same agent they originally fired.
2) An accountant familiar with such things estimated a pro athlete on a $500,000 contract winds up taking home around $265,000, which is good pay but it ain’t $500K.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars are putting a party deck in their stadium, one with two pools and 16 cabanas, which will go for $12,500 a day, or $250 per person. Someday they’ll probably be an actual casino in an NFL stadium.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend..........
13) Miami Heat has now gone 47 consecutive playoff games without losing twice in a row; series goes to Miami now for two games. Remember, for first time since 1984, it is a 2-2-1-1-1 formeat, instead of 2-3-2.
12) $235M Dodgers are 33-31. $44M Astros are 28-36; those five extra wins aren't worth an additional $186M.
11) Being a minor league manager takes a thick skin; Wally Backman is the Mets' AAA manager in Las Vegas-- he's had a new player almost every other day for the last two weeks. Not only that, but players coming back down to AAA have bruised egos and dented confidence; its up to Backman to rehab those guys and build them back up again.
Some major league team will wise up and hire Backman as its manager soon.
10) One last note on the Mets; if Dave Hudgens was such an awful hitting coach that deserved to be fired, why are the Mets second in 1st inning scoring? Why do they score the most runs on the road? What exactly did he do that was so bad?
9) There are few things more futile than needing the Cubs to score runs against my opponents' pitchers in fantasy baseball-- ain't happening. Why in God's name do they bat Junior Lake second?
Lake is hitting .244 with nine walks in 189 PA, a .277 OB%. He's hitting .360 when he bats 7th/8th, why not bat him there?
8) I did like the Cubs' throwback uniforms; most are ugly- these were nice.
7) Los Angeles Kings won their last three games in OT, but trailed by two goals in first period in all three games and never led in any of the games, until OT.
6) I'll have no idea who is still in or out of Conference USA until I get Phil Steele's great college football magazine in a couple weeks, but C-USA has pocketed $36M in "membership dues" over the last two years. Its good to be them.
5) Baseball announcers are making too much of run differential, like its the most important thing, when wins/losses are most important. The A's have a great run differential; they beat up on lousy pitchers, but struggle in close games-- when we get to late September, run differential won't mean a hill of beans-- wins will.
4) There was a playoff on the WEB.com Tour Sunday that took 11 holes to finish, longest in Tour history. Those guys are playing for their careers; had to be awful lot of tension until the outcome was decided.
3) Ben Crane was 180-1 to win in Memphis this week, so if you had your money down on him, buy yourself something nice today- you've earned it.
2) In case you were wondering what Karl Malone has been up to, he was a judge at the Miss USA Pageant last night.
1) Dodgers had their third rain-shortened game in the last 30 years yesterday; all three games came in Denver. Look at the lineup they used yesterday and tell me its any better than what Houston put on the field, other than Kershaw pitching.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.........
13) Its really hard to win horse racing's Triple Crown, a fact California Chrome's owner doesn't seem to grasp. Three races in five weeks isn't what thoroughbred horses do nowadays. Steve Coburn's reaction after the race was human, but he has to know it was going to be a tall task for his horse, who ran a strong race but lost.
12) Will horse racing powers-that-be stretch out the Triple Crown races to make it more manageable for horses to run three strenuous races? They could push back the Belmont to July 4th, and put the Preakness two weeks later than it is, to give a horse more recovery/training time. If TV demands it, it'll happen.
11) Wild night of sports late Saturday night, with the Kings winning Game 2 in double OT at Staples, then four MLB games all ending with the home team scoring in their last AB, with three of the four wins walk-offs.
10) Mets lost their fifth game in row 5-4 in San Francisco, as Giants scored twice in bottom of ninth inning. Mets then sent their catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud back to AAA; wonder if he'll still be in Las Vegas when I get there next month?
9) Angels trailed Chris Sale 5-0 in 8th inning, but scored six runs in bottom of 8th inning to win 6-5; brutal loss for the White Sox. .
8) Andrew Cashner came off the DL and dominated the Nationals for six innings, but they took him out after six innings/70 pitches; by time I took my dirty dishes out to the kitchen, they blew the lead for Cashner, but later won 4-3 in 11 innings. Big win for San Diego, which seemingly has no offense.
7) Speaking of the Padres, are they so talent-rich that they could waste a 28th-round draft pick on Johnny Manziel? Thats what they did Saturday. If I was a San Diego season ticket holder, I'd be asking someone for an explanation on that one.
6) RIP Mrs Joan Haller, who passed away this week; she was one of the nicest people I've ever met; her son was a good friend of mine growing up, and I spent a lot of time in their house. She was always kind and fun to talk with. Rest in peace.
5) Neighborhood I grew up in had 19 boys and four girls in it; we used to play basketball, wiffle ball for hours and had a lot of fun. I am lucky to have grown up in such a cool neighborhood. Matter of fact, I still live here.
4) Dodgers lost Yasiel Puig/Dee Gordon Saturday, both to hip injuries; they're now 9.5 games out of first place with 99 games left. Still say Dusty Baker's phone is going to be ringing soon: "Dusty? Magic Johnson on Line 1"
3) Red Sox might be a little worried about Jon Lester's night in Detroit: 4.1 IP, 12 hits, no strikeouts, five runs, 90 PT, only four misses on 41 swings.
2) Mystery Millionaire is a new reality TV show; these really rich guys lie to prospective girlfriends about their welath, they pick one of the three candidates, then spring the big news to them. Little weird, but an interesting concept.
1) I'm thinking everyone has to be impressed by the lack of controversy with the instant replay system in baseball; its helped a lot. Its only June 8 and the system seems to be settled in and doing well, reversing a surprising amount of calls. Some in the media are still whining about delays in games, but they haven't been that bad.
DDLohaus handicaps the Belmont Stakes......
Today I am torn….not sure if I want to bet with my head or my heart…I think it would be great for racing to have a Triple Crown winner. I am not convinced that this bunch of three year olds (as a group) is very good and I do think that California Chrome is the best of the bunch (at traditional distances) but as we all know the Belmont is a much different test…
I believe California Chrome is better than these but he has raced (and won) the previous two legs and that is sure to have taken its toll. Kentucky Derby selection Samraat ran well to the top of the stretch but faded; maybe he will get a bit of a better pace scenario and outlast them all. Wicked Strong should like it long and was a strong finisher in the Derby despite some traffic troubles; better trip may take this.
I think I have the perfect bet…
$50W California Chrome
$5Exacta Wheel All/California Chrome
$2TriBx California Chrome/Wicked Strong/Samraat
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but..........
13) Lebron James endorses Powerade, which can’t be too pleased with his cramping issues Thursday night; a small war of words erupted on social media between Powerade/Gatorade after Game 1. It doesn’t matter which drink the athlete endorses if he doesn’t drink a lot of it before playing.
12) Gregg Popovich has been coach of the Spurs for 17 years; during that time, the other 29 NBA franchises have employed 221 head coaches.
11) Steve Kerr is trying to hire European coaching icon David Blatt as his top assistant. Blatt won Euroleague this year; he is regarded as a very creative offensive mind who would be an excellent hire for any NBA team.
10) John Calipari signed a 7-year, $52M extension with Kentucky, which could easily price him out of a return to the NBA, unless he wanted to take a pay cut to go back to the pros. Not many of these guys like pay cuts.
9) Good luck on a speedy recovery to Red Sox hitting coach Gregg Colbrunn, who suffered a brain hemorrhage Wednesday and was taken to the hospital, where he stayed after the team left town.
8) How would you like to have Rashad McCants as a friend?
Former North Carolina Tar Heel threw his old team under the bus Friday, saying he took bogus classes and got easy A’s, after others wrote term papers for him. McCants flopped in the NBA, making only (only!!!!) $7,581,406, so he must be bitter now and is doing his best to get Roy Williams fired. Even if his claims are true, he’s an ingrate for ratting the school out only after his pro career failed.
7) Radio City Music Hall is unavailable for the NFL Draft next spring, so looks like either Madison Square Garden, Chicago or LA will host this popular event. This is a good chance to move the event out of New York and around the country for a while; not sure why they would put it in Los Angeles, where the NLF doesn’t have a team. Hey, how about Las Vegas? That might be the best place to hold the league’s biggest crapshoot.
6) Not only was June 6 the 70th anniversary of D-Day, it was National Donut Day; you could get a free one at Dunkin’ Donuts, if you bought a coffee. June 6 also used to be my wedding anniversary, but I’d rather talk about donuts.
5) Pittsburgh Penguins fired coach Dan Bylsma Friday; he went 252-117-32 as head coach, winning the ’09 Stanley Cup. Penguins are just 4-5 in playoff series since winning the Cup, so Bylsma was shown the door. He won’t be out of work long, if he doesn’t want to be.
4) Former Giants DB Will Hill hooked up with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena League, where its not that fun to play defensive back.
3) Top teams in games decided by 3+ runs: Toronto 28-15, Oakland 26-8, Giants 19-8, Nationals 20-12.
2) Top teams in games decided by 1-2 runs: Giants 20-13, Indians 19-12, Brewers 17-12, Twins 17-11, Bronx 16-10.
1) Whats the over/under on the number of times we hear the word “hydration” between now and Game 2 of Heat-Spurs Sunday night?
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here........
13) My main memory of Don Zimmer the manager was that he had onions, would try non-traditional things to try and win; problem with that was in an age of too much media, he got roasted when it didn’t work. Zimmer had a profound effect on Rays’ manager Joe Maddon, who I consider to be a great manager and is daring in the Zimmer mold, but it is easier to do in a smaller market.
12) Phils’ manager Ryne Sandberg was a 20th-round draft pick, the lowest draft pick ever to make it to the Hall of Fame. Mike Piazza will shatter that record someday; he was a much lower pick and greatly deserves to be in Cooperstown.
11) Only one player has won an NBA title in three different decades: John Salley won with Detroit in 1989 and 1990, with the Bulls in ’96, Lakers in 2000.
10) If the Tigers offered struggling reliever Joe Nathan to the A’s for struggling reliever Jim Johnson, would either side say no and if so, which one?
9) Thoughts and prayers to TNT’s Craig Sager, who will be receiving a bone marrow transplant from his son on July 3. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
8) Los Angeles Kings have four playoff wins this spring when they’ve trailed by 2+ goals, most by any team in one year since the ’87 Flyers.
7) Underrated baseball record: Shawn Green’s 19 total bases in one game. Very difficult to break it.
6) Another underrated record: Hack Wilson’s 190 RBI in one year; when it didn’t fall during the steroids era, you know it probably never will fall.
5) Maverick McNealy is a golfer at Stanford who qualified for the US Open next week; his dad will caddy for him. His billionaire dad Sam McNealy is co-founder of Sun Microsystems, which makes him really, really rich.
4) Flip Saunders conducted a search to find the next coach of the Timberwolves and came up with…..himself. Vinny Del Negro was thought to be in running there.
3) 10+ major league baseball teams are rumored to cross off any pitching prospect who has already had Tommy John surgery, figuring another such operation is on the horizon.
2) When Dee Gordon was drafted in 2008, he turned his cellphone off that day; his dad Tom took draft calls, while sitting in the Phillies’ bullpen—he was still an active player then.
1) UCLA’s Zach Lavine supposedly has a 46-inch vertical leap, which is great, but the bigger question is this: Can he play? Kid averaged less than 10 ppg in college last year, not exactly the stuff of superstardom.
Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) CBSSports was saying yesterday how over 10% (14+ out of 127) starting QBs in D-I football this season will be transfers, so its not just basketball where kids bolt for greener pastures.
12) Could this be a down year for QBs in the SEC? Missouri’s Maty Mauk was picked by SEC SIDs as the best passing QB in the league this year, which would indicate a down year, unless one or more of the new kids emerges.
11) 49ers signed QB Colin Kaepernick to a six-year $126M contract, $61M of which is guaranteed.
10) Illinois replaces Maryland in the Jimmy V Classic next fall; they’ll play Villanova, while Louisville-Indiana will be the featured half of the twinbill.
9) Agree or disagree: Jimmy Rollins is a Hall of Fame player? Mike Schmidt was saying he is this week, I’m leaning towards no but have to look into it more. What do you think?
8) Jason Lane hit .241 with 61 homers in six years as an outfielder with the Astros, from 2002-07; seven years later, Lane returned to the majors as a pitcher with San Diego, retiring all 10 Pirates he faced in relief Tuesday night. Interesting story; had the Astros’ 18-inning playoff game in 2005 gone one more inning, Lane was going to pitch the 19th inning in that game.
7) Matt Kuchar withdrew from the Memphis Open golf tournament this week, leaving Dustin Johnson (12-1) as the wagering favorite in the field.
6) Paul George’s 3rd-team all-NBA selection kick-started a $7M bonus from the Pacers, not a bad payday.
5) DeJounte Murray is a 4-star recruit who will be playing for Lorenzo Romar at Washington, good get for the Huskies.
4) Charles Cooke scored 14.3 ppg for James Madison last year; he transfers to Dayton, where he’ll have two years to play after sitting out next season. Glad to see the Cooke family doesn’t have any sick relatives to use as an excuse for Charles to be eligible to play immediately.
3) Chattanooga coach Will Wood got a nice contract extension from the Mocs; Wood is one more good year away from breaking that contract to move on to greener pastures (Mississippi State next spring?); he is VCU guy and plays that fast-paced style that will be popular with fans, as long as he wins with it.
2) Will Lamar Odom be oldest player ever in the Las Vegas Summer League? Is it possible there will be Kardashians at UNLV to watch the summer league games, and if so, will I meet any of them? (No!!!) Are the Knicks serious about signing Odom? Is he serious about playing again?
1) Looks like San Jose Sharks will be hosting an outdoor hockey game next winter, probably in the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara, or would they use the Giants’ baseball park?
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Baseball’s amateur draft is this week, the most inexact of all drafts; for instance, a few years ago the Mets took an OF from Wyoming named Brandon Nimmo, whose high school didn’t have a baseball team- he played American Legion ball.
Mets passed on Jose Fernandez, which isn’t good- there are lot of examples of stuff like that happening. Smaller market teams have to make less mistakes than the big money teams in this draft to stay competitive.
12) State of Washington voted in a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage. Things must be good in Washington. Thats bad news for businesses like pizza places or McDonald's.
11) San Diego Padre pitchers threw 248 pitches in a hideous 10-3 loss to the Pirates Monday night; that is 27.6 pitches per inning, which is really painful to watch. Nine inning game took 4:04; only thing that made it bearable was Dick Enberg/Mark Grant on TV- they’re a good pair to listen to, even watching a bad game.
10) Lot of upsets in the NCAA baseball tournament; TCU made it thru to the Super Regionals, despite having to play a 22-inning game late Saturday night/Sunday morning. You want to know where pitching injuries occur, lot of them are because college coaches are butchers when it comes to pitchers’ arms. Kid on Cal-Irvine started Monday on two days’ rest, after he threw 107 pitches in his previous outing. Oy.
9) Alabama football coach Nick Saban signed a deal that pays him $6.9M a year; Kirby Smart, who is his defensive coordinator, will make $1.3M a year. Simply wow-- I mean, they're paying freakin' Lane Kiffin $680,000.
8) 42 major league games this year have been 0-0 after five innings, which works out to 4-5 per week. Just thought you’d like to know.
7) Clayton Kershaw’s great uncle is credited with discovering the planet Pluto, at least that’s what the White Sox announcers said during the game Monday night and I believe them. Who could make that up?
6) Speaking of those announcers, Hawk Harrelson/Steve Stone voiced a preference for all baseball players to work on one-year contracts every year, thinking effort would increase with hungrier players. I’m guessing that neither guy felt that way when they were major league players.
5) Tickets for Games 3-4 of the Stanley Cup Final in Manhattan are more expensive right now than Super Bowl tickets were; then again, the game is indoors and it isn’t February. Cheapest ticket for Game 3 is still more than $1,000.
4) San Francisco Dons signed a 3-star recruit in guard Devin Watson, who was recruited by lot of Pac-12 schools; now all they have to do is keep him- Rex Walters lost PG Cody Doolin last year- kid will play his last season of college ball at UNLV this fall. Signing a kid is one thing; keeping them in the program is just as important.
3) Sergio Garcia (59) and Adam Scott (51) have played in the most consecutive golf majors; KJ Choi (48) has the 3rd-longest streak, but it looks like he will miss the US Open, after failing to qualify by a stroke Monday.
2) World Cup soccer teams must be training here before going to Brazil for the tournament; Mets shared their hotel in Philly with the Nigerian soccer team- they’re sharing their hotel in Chicago with the Mexican team.
1) Big week for former Marist basketball coaches; first Jeff Bower landed a gig as the Pistons’ new GM, now Chuck Martin gets an assistant’s job at Indiana. Red Foxes will have their third head coach in three seasons this fall.
Tuesday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) FOX Sports1 is thinking of running a gambling-themed college football pregame on Saturday mornings, to compete against ESPN’s GameDay. The show FS1 aired last year got pounded so badly in the ratings, FOX execs are thinking only something that is a lot different can challenge ESPN’s pregame show.
12) In-game betting is tremendous; Twins trailed 2-1 after eight innings in the Bronx Sunday. If you took Minnesota to win at that point, you risked $100 to win $721, and you were damn happy when the Twins scored six runs in the ninth inning. As Rick Pitino might’ve said, “Mariano Rivera isn’t walking thru that door.”
11) Odd stat: Stanley Cup Finals will be only second time in last 22 playoff series that the LA Kings had home ice advantage. Hard to believe, but they won the Stanley Cup two years ago as an 8-seed.
10) Pepperdine’s baseball team beat Cal Poly Sunday, is headed to its first-ever Super Regional this weekend; this much make Pamela Anderson’s sons happy- they used to be Pepperdine bat boys.
9) Another odd stat: under is 28-21 in interleague games played with a DH, in AL parks. Under is 25-33 in interleague games without a DH, played in NL parks. Go figure.
8) Angels are getting Mike Trout/Josh Hamilton back this week, should start scoring a lot more runs.
7) Road teams are 6-1 in NHL Game 7’s this spring; you battle all season for home ice, then you get it and that happens. There have been 39 Game 7’s to go OT in NHL history; road team is 20-19 in those games.
6) Coaching in the NBA has to be nutty; four coaches have been canned in the last two years after winning 51+ games that season; now Frank Vogel and Scott Brooks both had to answer questions about their job security after making the NBA’s Final Four. Until you win an NBA championship, you’re attached to the hot seat.
5) Odd career path of the day: Detroit Pistons are hiring Marist head coach Jeff Bower as their new GM; he went from being GM of the New Orleans Hornets to head coach at Marist (he used to be an assistant there) to GM of the Pistons.
4) You’ll hear the name Mike Backman some this week; he scored three goals in 28 games for the New York Rangers in the 80’s, once scored 28 goals in a season for the minor league Tulsa Oilers. He is more famous this week for being the father-in-law of Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick. Quick by the way, has never played a game in Madison Square Garden.
3) Golfer named Erik Compton made a 6-foot putt on the last hole to qualify for the US Open Monday. Normally you'd think that was a pressure putt, but Compton has had two heart transplants-- he is on his third heart, so a 6-foot putt isn't that big a deal.
2) Tim Hudson has faced 294 batters this season, has only gone to a 3-0 count on two of those hitters.
1) MLB didn't want a rookie ump doing the plate for the volatile Tampa-Boston series this weekend, so they moved Ted Barrett in from a replay booth in New York to work the plate for a game. Unseen value of instant replay; they wouldn't be bringing a guy back from vacation like that.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.........
13) Los Angeles Kings win Game 7 in OT at Chicago; they're first team in NHL history to get to the NHL Finals after winning three seven-game series.
12) Nothing in sports is as dramatic as overtime in Game 7 of an NHL series.
11) There was an earthquake (3.8) in the Los Angeles near the end of the hockey game; ESPN announcers at the Pirate-Dodger game said they didn't feel it.
10) Think about Milwaukee Bucks selling for $550M, the Clippers for $2B; only three years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers sold for $280M. What a bargain.
9) I'm not fond of Phillies batting Ben Revere leadoff; he's walked four times in 194 plate appearances. Leadoff hitters have to get on-base. Revere's OB% is .299.
8) Former LSU backup QB Hayden Rettig is transferring, leaving Les Miles with only two QBs on his roster; Philip Rivers' brother also transferred out of Baton Rouge earlier this spring. Rettig could wind up at Boston College, where his brother Chase just graduated after playing QB for the Eagles.
7) Kyle Lohse is 7-1, 2.60 this season, headed to the All-Star Game; he threw a 93-pitch complete game against the Cubs Sunday.
6) Under was 14-1 in the Brewers' first 15 home games this season; it is 3-11-1 in the last fifteen games at Miller Park. Go figure.
5) TCU beat San Houston State in 22 innings in the NCAA baseball tournament late Saturday night; both teams lose there-- lot of strain on the pitchers.
4) Dr James Andrews probably cringed when he heard that the kid who threw 99 pitches for Sam Houston Saturday also pitched in relief Sunday. Oy.
3) Hideki Matsuyama birdied 18th hole at Muirfield Village all four days of the Memorial tournament, first-ever player in 39 years to do that, but his par on 18 on the first playoff hole won him his first tournament on American soil.
2) Matsuyama broke his driver teeing off on 18 first time he played it Sunday, he used a 3-wood on the playoff hole. Kevin Na then hit his tee ball in the water, which was the deciding mistake in the tournament.
1) PGA Tour was saying yesterday that this week was the first time in the last 40 years that the final twosome on a Sunday (Bubba Watson/Scott Langley) were both lefthanded. Neither played very well Sunday.
Sunday's List of 13: Things haven't always been this way.........
13) Before Wikipedia there were encyclopedias, 24-volume book sets that guys went door-to-door selling, trying to convince parents that their kids would never get to college unless they bought this cumbersome set of heavy books. Encyclopedia Brittanica was the Cadillac of these books; Lord knows I plagiarized enough from those books to make high school a little bit easier.
12) Until I was 13, you had to get out of your chair to turn the channel on the TV. Seriously. Of course, we also only had four channels and one of them was PBS which no one watched, so my thumb wasn’t as agile as it is now, after years of working the remote control.
11) ESPN didn’t come into being until I was a sophomore in college; remember watching a Lamar-New Mexico State basketball game and thinking, “Wow, this is a great idea.” Little did I know just how great, the best thing ever for college basketball.
10) There used to be phone booths everywhere; some poor bastards invested in those 20-25 years ago and got stuck with something no one needed anymore, once cellphones became the rage. For a dime or a quarter, you could go in the booth and make a phone call. For three minutes.
9) As late as 1974, an NHL goalie played in a game without a mask- seriously. I can remember in the early 80’s, if an NHL player wore a helmet, he was considered a wimp. Now it’s mandated that everyone have proper protection- guy named Bill Masterson died in 1968 when he fell and hit his head on the ice while playing in a game for Minnesota North Stars.
8) First night World Series game wasn’t until 1971; I’m thinking the first night All-Star Game was 1966 in Anaheim, but I’m not 100% sure on that. TV has made all of these events huge money makers but for them to be money makers, they have to be played in prime time, under the lights.
7) Everyone takes selfies now; pictures of themselves with their cellphone. David Ortiz took a selfie with him and the President at the White House. It was kind of a big deal to have a camera a long time ago; now most everyone has one in their pocket or their purse, since most cellphones have cameras in them.
6) The whole idea of reality TV has blown up; now anyone can become a celebrity, which definitely is not progress. Coach of the Cleveland Browns, Mike Pettine, was in a reality show about high school football with his dad 15 years, when he was coaching high school ball in eastern Pennsylvania. Lot of people are becoming celebrities for the wrong reason, or for no reason at all.
5) In 1974 Maryland was #3 in the country in college basketball, but lost the ACC tournament final to NC State in OT and didn’t go to the NCAAs, because back then, only the conference champ went to the NCAAs. Tournament gradually expanded until it got to 64 teams in 1985, which is where it thrived. The current 68 teams is just about the same thing; any more would be too much.
4) Hand sanitizing lotion is a new thing you see around a lot, as people protect against spreading germs. They even have stands with lotion in them here at work; you look at a door in a public place, lot of different hands have touched those doors and you don’t know where those hands have been.
3) Cars have GPS systems now so drivers don’t get lost; I’m not that fond of them, but some people really like them. Back in the day, our GPS were paper; they were called maps.
2) Viagra was originally invented as a heart medicine, but found its way into more recreational use; people who sell this must make a freakin’ fortune. It’s a little unnerving to me to take a pill that changes how the blood flows in your body, but that’s just me.
1) Online shopping is a huge change in the last couple decades; you can sit at home and go nuts buying stuff, and it gets delivered to your house. It can also be a problem, if it becomes an addiction but for the most part, this has been a very positive change, since you can save time sitting at home shopping on the computer.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Other than their baseball box scores, which are tremendous, ESPN’s website has been passed by CBS Sports’, in my opinion; I just think CBS' site has more interesting stories and less self-serving content. Definitely love the ESPN box scores though.
12) OK, so you spend $2B on a basketball team that is already pretty good; what changes, if any, do you make to the infrastructure of the organization? The coach is safe, for sure, the GM probably is too.
Maybe not being Donald Sterling is enough for the organization to become revitalized after a traumatic spring. Maybe the best thing to do is nothing at all, just show your employees appreciation for what they do.
11) Buffalo Bills have already sold 44,000 season tickets for this coming season, the most they’ve sold since 2010.
10) CBS replaced Tim Brando as host of its college football studio show; always thought he did a fine job and knew a ton about the college game. They replaced him with a younger (and probably cheaper) guy, which is the way of the world, I guess.
9) Arizona signed hoop coach Sean Miller to a nifty little contract extension; he gets a $500K bonus if he wins the national title, $200K if his team has a cumulative GPA of 3.0. I’d be getting me some bookworm benchwarmers to inflate the team’s GPA, but that’s just me.
8) Kyler Murray, the #1 QB recruit in the nation for next year, committed to Texas A&M, where his dad played. Good get for the Aggies, as they capitalize on the celebrity of Johnny Manziel.
7) Its not easy to hit a round ball squarely, but Astros’ slugger George Springer is the first rookie since 1937 to hit seven home runs in seven games; Rudy York was the last rookie to do that.
6) Now that Steve Masiello has his college degree and is back in good graces at Manhattan, I’m thinking Cal, Marquette, Boston College and Washington State would’ve been smarter to hire him than the guys they hired. Who really cares if the guy got his degree? His job is to coach and he’s very good at it.
5) Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy suggested the old ABA rule be adopted, where players do not foul out, but for every foul they get after #5, the other team gets two shots and the ball. ABA’s rule was a team technical for every foul after #6, but it’s the same idea. Fans pay to watch players play; if they are in foul trouble, the fans supposedly get cheated. It makes some sense.
4) I had absolutely no idea Nolan Richardson wound up coaching in the WNBA. Wonder how he liked it. Do WNBA coaches make a lot of money?
3) Dodger OF Matt Kemp looks like he is mailing it in, that he doesn’t care anymore; other night, he struck out on a ball in the dirt and made zero effort to run to first base. None. He was obviously going to be out, but that’s not the point. Make an effort, for Pete’s sake; he is getting paid a fortune and not only have his skills declined, he doesn’t appear to care that much. Guaranteed contracts can do that to you.
2) Syracuse Orangemen played 9th-slowest tempo in America last year, which is a little surprising; their defensive possessions lasted an average of 21.1 seconds, longest in the country- they don’t pressure the ball very much, just sit back and defy teams to make long jumpers. Playing in a dome, its an effective strategy.
1) Since the Clippers fetched $2B in a sale, you wonder if the Lakers would bring back even more? I have no idea, just asking.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here........
13) So this guy from Microsoft bid $2B to buy the Clippers; he once tried to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle, where Phil Jackson would've run the franchise. Wonder if Jackson wishes he were a free agent now.
The NBA might be more popular around the world than it is in this country, which may be why the Clippers' price tag was so high. NBA will have two regular season games in other countries next year, one in London, one in Mexico City.
12) You want to know which player a basketball coach trusts? One guy for sure is the player who inbounds the ball on late-game out of bounds plays. Has to be a good passer with a good basketball IQ, and it won’t be your star player, since that’s usually the person you’re trying to inbound the ball to.
11) Its pretty sad when Lebron James gets criticized for passing the ball to an open teammate on the last possession of Game 5; its what annoys me about the NBA, the mentality that the star player has to be a ballhog and shoot on the last possession, come hell or high water.
10) We can all rest a little easier; Hunter Pence got his motorized scooter back. Someone returned the stolen scooter to the Giants’ clubhouse.
9) Speaking of the Giants, Tim Lincecum got pinch-hit for in a scoreless game in the bottom of the 5th Wednesday night, when he was pitching a no-hitter. He had already thrown 96 pitches anyway. Giants shut the Cubs out for the second day in a row, after Chicago had pounded them Monday night.
8) Houston Astros are playing better; they won their last six games and have a budding star in OF George Springer, whose been pounding the ball ever since he got picked off in the 9th inning of a game in Anaheim couple weeks ago.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ owner Malcolm Glazer is the third NFL owner to pass away this off-season; at age 85, he was also the youngest of the three. Bucs are expected to stay in the Glazer family, rather than being sold.
6) Titans’ backup QB Charlie Whitehurst has always worn #6, but his new team already has a #6, punter Brett Kern. Apparently the two arm-wrestled for the number and Kern won. Not sure that’s a good sign when your punter beats one of your quarterbacks arm-wrestling.
5) 49ers’ TE Vernon Davis forfeited a $200,000 workout bonus this offseason; must be nice when you can just give away $200,000 because you don’t feel like doing what your employers asked.
4) First 20:00 OT of the Kings-Chicago playoff game Wednesday took 26:45 in real time to play. Very few stoppages, very entertaining, good stuff.
3) So Rory McIlroy dumped his girlfriend 10 days ago, then won a tournament in England, and now shoots a 63 at the Memorial to lead by three shots. What does this tell us? Coincidence? Better focus? Was Caroline Wozmiacki a dark cloud?
2) "Dark cloud" is a great term; frst time I ever heard it used was by a minor league manager who accused a sportswriter of being "a dark cloud" because his team lost every time the writer covered his team. Sportswriter involved was Bill Scheft, who is a now a writer for Late Night with David Letterman.
1) Two years ago, A’s 3B Scott Sizemore blew his knee out the first day of spring training, which put Oakland in a bind, since they had no one else who was a legit third baseman; they tried Josh Donaldson there in April, but the converted minor league catcher didn’t hit at all, so when Detroit released Brandon Inge in April, A's signed him and he did well, but Inge’s shoulder gave out, so Donaldson was brought back to the majors in mid-August, after he had hit .153 in his earlier trial at 3B.
Donaldson went 26-66 the rest of August, raised his average to .241 for the season, had a couple of huge hits in the playoffs, then had a tremendous 2013. Now he’s going to be an All-Star this season for the first time, a great story for the former 1st-round draft pick who took longer than usual to become a star, but is now one of the best 3B in baseball. Good for him.
Thursday's List of 13; Nobody asked me, but.........
13) If Cliff Lee’s stint on the DL is short and the Phillies don’t start playing better, Lee could be changing addresses by the end of July. Lee is owed $43M this year and next, plus has a $27.5M club option for ’16, with a $12.5M buyout, pretty expensive if your team isn’t a contender, and right now. Philly’s aging nucleus ain’t looking like a contender.
12) Before the Dodgers flirted with consecutive no-hitters Sunday/Monday, last time a team had no-hitters thru seven innings in consecutive games was July 2005, when Rich Harden/Barry Zito were pitching for the A’s.
11) Last time the Blue Jays were alone in first place this late in the season? Try July of 2000, before this website existed.
10) Giants’ broadcaster Duane Kuiper holds the major league record for plate appearances (3,754) by a guy who hit only one home run in his big league career.
9) Ike Davis was joking Monday how he enjoys being able to go out for a coffee in the morning in Pittsburgh without getting batting tips; New Yorkers used to try and “help” Ike, which apparently became a problem.
I’m guessing if you play for the Steelers and you go out for coffee in the morning, Pittsburghers give you blocking/tackling tips, or if you’re Ben Roethlisberger, passing tips.
8) Odd baseball strategy: Rangers at Twins, top of 4th Tuesday night, 2-2 game. Alex Rios leads off with a double, #6 hitter Chris Gimenez is up against Phil Hughes. Gimenez got a hit his first time up.
Ron Washington has him try and sacrifice Rios to third but the count gets to 2-2 with no advance, so you figure the #6 hitter swings away, especially since he singled the time before. But no, Giminez bunts foul, strikes out and Hughes gets out of the inning with no runs scoring.
Next time up, Gimenez knocked in the third Texas run with a single. I have no idea what the Rangers were thinking there, but they wound up losing by a run, 5-4.
7) If you’re into planning ahead, SEC basketball tournament will be in St Louis in 2018, Tampa in 2022. I just hope I’m alive to watch those tournaments on TV.
6) You don’t think this is a great country? Guy named Jonas Jerebko scored 4.2 ppg for the Pistons LY in 11.6 minutes/game, not really stellar numbers. He will make $4.5M next season, that’s million, with an M.
Jerebko had a pretty good season four years ago, then messed up his leg and missed the next season. His game has never really recovered, but he’s still getting paid.
5) World’s longest par 3 is 437 yards on a course in South Africa where it costs $700 to play. Hopefully that includes a cart and lunch.
4) Talked a little yesterday how I never heard of the country Azerbaijan; well, it came into being in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell apart.
3) Seems that most college football coaches are in favor of an early signing period for recruits, in addition to the early February date that has become a circus. Administrators don’t seem sas keen about the idea; we’ll see what happens.
2) Quality of driving here in Albany, NY has become putrid; there is so little courtesy, so much rudeness, cutting people off, especially after work, its just sad to see. Its gotten to the point where I’m relieved to get home from work without getting in an accident.
1) San Antonio Spurs are 2-6 vs Oklahoma City this season; 0-6 when Serge Ibaka plays, 2-0 when he does not. Thunder also came back from down 2-0 to oust the Spurs two years ago, when San Antonio had been riding a 20-game winning streak. Game 5 tonight is obviously a big game, not only for this series but maybe in terms of this whole veteran Spurs nucleus as we move on.
Wednesday's List of 13; Mid-week musings.........
13) I was surprised that no team has ever thrown no-hitters in consecutive games; Angels had Frank Tanana, Astros had Mike Scott when both teams had Nolan Ryan. Dodgers had Koufax/Drysdale.
Almost happened with the Dodgers this week. Would’ve been weirder with LA doing it against two different teams on consecutive days, on two different coasts.
12) When you rake in $550M, you can afford to be generous; departing Milwaukee Bucks’ owner Herb Kohl gave all employees at the Bucks’ arena $500 checks, a pretty cool thing to do. Kohl was a US Senator who seems like a good guy- he just sold the team, made a fortune, but he didn’t have to do that. Good for him.
11) Next big controversy will be the punishment Colts’ owner Jim Irsay gets from the NFL for misdemeanor drug possession. Players want him to get hit hard. Going to be interesting to see what Roger Goodell does- what can he really do? Irsay is still going to make a tons of profits; what does Irsay really do anyway?
10) I'm tired of listening to media types whining about how long baseball games take; if it is so horrible, quit your job and go do something else. Seriously, if games takes 10-12 minutes longer than they used to, so what? Its 10-12 minutes!!!!
9) Extra 10-12 minutes, by the way, is TV commercial time between innings; you keep adding to that, the game can't but help to take longer.
8) Apparently A’s 3B Josh Donaldson told Dick Vitale off last week for calling the A’s “no-names”. Vitale has season tickets right by the visitors’ dugout at the Trop. Hopefully Donaldson won’t meet Larry King anytime soon; King’s comment on the A’s last weekend? “Quick, name three of their players.”
7) Kansas City Royals have a $92M payroll and a mediocre manager; when asked about why he played a certain player last week, manager Ned Yost replied, “I have no plan.” Oy. I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way, but it sounded thay way.
I’m thinking the Royals better win soon or the owner will be asking George Brett to manage again.
6) Speaking of payrolls, the Padres have a bigger payroll than the Mets, who live eight miles from the Bronx Bombers. Their owners were in bed with Bernie Madoff, my tax dollars helped build their very nice stadium, yet they run the team like they are the Toledo Mud Hens. Wilpons are the worst owners in baseball; at least Jeffrey Loria won a championship before he dismantled the team.
5) Tuesday night was just the Pirates' fifth game all year against a lefty starter; next fewest in big leagues are Braves/Padres, who have had eight such games.
4) Kerwin Danley, Lance Barksdale on the same umpiring crew? Yikes. Ned Yost got tossed last night for arguing balls/strikes with Danley. Not a big surprise.
3) Tennessee lost one of its backup quarterbacks; Riley Ferguson transferred in a move that apparently surprised Vols' coaches. Some people thought Ferguson had a chance to unseat incumbent QB Justin Worley.
2) St John’s-Fordham, Manhattan-Rutgers is the MSG Holiday Festival in New York City December 13; what holiday exactly is December 13? Event used to be in between Christmas and New Year's.
1) College football magazines are coming out a few weeks later than usual this year; there was a kerfuffle last year between rival magazines about whose information was better/more accurate, so now Phil Steele is holding back his great magazine so that everyone thinks (he hopes) that he’s working so much harder on it. I’d rather have it my hands during June so I can start my research, but no one asked me.
Tuesday's List of 13; Doing some thinking out loud.........
13) Dodgers came within six outs of pitching consecutive no-hitters, which has never been done in big league history. Hyun Jin-Ryu was perfect for seven innings, but wound up needing a 4-out save from Kenley Jansen as LA held on for dear life to beat the Reds 4-3.
12) There was a team that pitched no-hitters on consecutive days in 1917, but the second day's no-hitter was the nightcap of a twinbill, so they had two no-hitters in a three-game span, albeit on consecutive days.
11) Dodgers lost starting catcher AJ Ellis to a sprained ankle; he got hurt when he stepped on Drew Butera's catcher's mask in the celebration after the Beckett no-hitter Sunday. LA hit a real bad rough patch last time Ellis was on the DL.
10) Supposedly the Orioles called Minnesota about Kurt Suzuki, before they got Nick Hundley fronm San Diego; you wonder if the Dodgers will call Minnesota about Suzuki, too. Josmil Pinto in the Twins' catcher of the future.
Hundley had the game-winning hit for the Orioles in Milwaukee Monday.
9) Red Sox snapped their 10-game losing streak with an 8-6 win in Atlanta, after rallying back from a 6-1 deficit. David Ortiz, who played 1B in a no-DH game, had four RBI for Boston.
8) Mets lost to Pittsburgh, then cut Jose Valverde and fired batting coach Dave Hudgens, even though the Mets are scoring just under five runs a game on the road. They've struggled at home, and Hudgens became a scapegoat. Can't fire the owners.
7) Hudgens was 1-7 in a cameo appearance in the big leagues in 1983, but his only hit was off of Dave Stieb, a damn good pitcher. He has an excellent reputation as a hitting instructor and will surface elsewhere.
Mets replaced Hudgens with former White Sox 1B Lamar Johnson.
6) Detroit Tigers have 39 stolen bases this season; they had 35 all of last year; they are in a rough spot right now, losing seven of eight last games, allowing 34 runs in their last three games.
5) Cubs are 1-12 this season when winning run scores after the sixth inning.
4) Tom Brady works out in the offseason with former major league pitcher Tom House, who is an expert in throwing mechanics; House was pitching coach in Texas when George W Bush was owner, Bobby Valentine manager- he also caught Hank Aaron's 715th home run in the Atlanta bullpen-- he was a Braves' reliever.
3) Five of 12 Pac-12 teams made the NCAA baseball tournament; Oregon State is the top seed in this year's event.
2) Heat 102, Pacers 90-- You get the idea Miami is Road Runner, Indiana is Wily E. Coyote; ain't never going to catch 'em. Roy Hibbert was scoreless for the fourth time this playoff season. Hard to imagine.
1) Best military musician of the day was the soldier in Oakland who played God Bless America on a violin during the 7th-inning stretch; tremendous!!!!
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.........
13) Rory McIlroy dumps his girlfriend, wins the European PGA, one of Europe's biggest tournaments; there's a lesson in there somewhere. He seems like a good kid, hope he is happy. Money can't buy you happiness.
12) Japanese baseball has two six-team divisions; one has tie games, one doesn't; one has the DH, one doesn't. Of the 139 games in the division that has tie games, only one has ended in a tie.
11) Former big leaguers in Japan this year: Andruw Jones is hitting .235 with 13 homers, Wily Mo Pena .252 with 13 homers, Kevin Youkilis .215 with one homer.
10) May 25, 1951, Willie Mays made his MLB debut, playing CF and batting third; only two CF have debuted batting 3rd since then, last of which was Cesar Cedeno in 1970. Cedeno was a great talent who never lived up to his vast potential.
9) Minnesota Timberwolves made Dave Joerger an offer to coach their team, but he declines and stays in Memphis, after he had a conversation with Grizzlies' owner. Supposedly the two had rarely spoken before-- how is it possible the guy coaches a team but never talks to the owner?
How awkward is this? Memphis was willing to let Joerger go, but apprently the Wolves didn't want to give up a 2nd-round draft pick for him. Very awkward.
8) Francisco Liriano was 16-8, 3.02 in 26 starts LY, as Pittsburgh made the playoffs, but this year, Liriano is 0-4, 4.86 in 10 starts, and Pirates are floundering.
7) Nothing is more Cubs than Chicago signing Manny Ramirez as a AAA coach; this is a guy who showed very little respect for the game when he was a star, now he needs a job so he's handed a job as player/coach? Not a great move; if you want to do something like that, hire Barry Bonds instead.
6) Mets are 6-44 this season with the bases loaded; they have zero RBI in their last nine plate appearances with the bags full.
5) Tampa Bay Rays' starting pitchers have one win in their last 14 home games.
4) Houston Astros are 5-0 on the road when Dallas Keuchel starts, 4-17 in all their other away games.
3) Arizona hiring Tony Larussa this close to the amateur draft is weird timing; all the scouts/front office folks have to be fearing for their jobs, all while drafting players who will impact the Diamondbacks' future. Heads are going to roll, or else why would they hire Larussa? Just a question of whose heads.
2) Seven NBA head coaches played Division III college ball, Gregg Popovich was a D-III head coach for eight years. I have no idea what this means, but it is an odd and interesting piece of knowledge.
1) Josh Beckett threw a 128-pitch no-hitter in Philly, first time Phils were no-hit since 1978. Beckett's previous high in pitch count this year was 113; we'll see how he does going forward, seeing how he is coming back from injury and all.
Sunday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Heat 99, Pacers 87-- Paul George is 9-29 from floor in the last two games.
12) Tampa Bay 6, Boston 5 (15)-- Red Sox scored five in top of first vs David Price, then didn't get a hit for six innings and lost a brutal in 15 inning game when their defense imploded. Rays won last three games, all on walk-offs. Boston has now lost its last nine games, its longest skid since 2001.
11) Hockey players are tough: my friend John points out that the Rangers' Derek Stefan played almost all of Game 3 vs Montreal with a broken jaw; no tight hamstrings or pulled obliques for him.
10) Houston Astros are 17-6 when they score 4+ runs, 1-26 when they do not.
9) Saturday night was Throwback Night in Seattle; I am one of the few people I know who liked the Astros' rainbow uniforms from 30 years ago. Seattle wore its original uniforms, with the pitchfork-style M on the cap.
8) Pitchers average around 32 starts a year now, if they stay healthy; back in the early 70's, White Sox had a knuckleball pitcher named Wilbur Wood who made 224 starts from 1971-75-- thats 44.8 starts a year!!! He once started both games in a doubleheader and went 24-20 one season.
7) Eight of Victor Martinez' 12 homers have come with two strikes; he's struck out only 13 times all season.
6) Went into a store Saturday that I hadn't shopped in over a year; saw three people I knew, two of which I hadn't seen in at least three years. Weird.
5) Odd splits for David Wright, who is 1-18 with two out and a man in scoring position, but 13-30 with a man in scoring position and less than two outs. He is killing lefties this season (.468) but is only .243 vs righties.
4) Umpire Doug Eddings has the plate in Miami today; nine of ten games he's worked this season came in under the total.
3) Texas Rangers have 13 guys on the DL; seven of them are on 60-day DL.
2) Miami Heat guard Norris Cole once grabbed 20 rebounds in a college game for Cleveland State; he is a 6-2 guard. There are 7-footers who don't grab that many rebounds in a week.
1) Memphis Grizzlies fired Lionel Hollins last year after he won 56 games; now all they want from Minnesota for coach Dave Joerger is a 2nd round draft pick. Lot of odd comings and goings with NBA coaches recently.
You win 56-50 games in two years and are still looking for your third head coach in three years? Why would anyone think Memphis is a good job, other than there are only 30 NBA head coaching jobs in the world?
Saturday's List of 13: Weekend wramblings.......
13) Cubs’ pitcher Jeff Samardzija is the first pitcher EVER with an ERA under 1.50 and no wins thru his first 10 starts of a season. He’s a pretty good bet to get traded in July, should bring an impressive haul of prospects.
12) Its weird looking thru the first college football magazine of the summer and seeing Rutgers/Maryland in the Big 14 listings, instead of Big East/ACC, where they had been for many years.
11) Terrapins are picked #7 in the Big 14; Scarlet Knights are picked #12. Still think the Big 14 should’ve taken UConn over Rutgers, but New Jersey is a bigger state than Connecticut and conference expansion is about available TV homes, so that decided that. Problem is, people in Connecticut care more about the Huskies than people in New Jersey care about Rutgers.
10) There are now 13 teams in Conference USA, 11 in the AAC; not sure why you would have a league with an odd number of teams in it. Can never have a day where everyone plays a league game.
9) Houston Cougars gave football coach Tony Levine a 5-year contract extension, then dumped a I-AA game and added UNLV as an opponent this fall. Cougars have a good sophomore QB, should do well in the AAC this year.
8) South Florida hoop coach Orlando Antigua has already bagged three transfers who will be eligible to play in 2015-16; this coming season might be tough for the Bulls, but help is on the way.
7) Odd Fact: Offbeat musician Weird Al Yankovic has a degree in architecture from Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo.
6) Indecisive QB recruit Gunner Kiel, who hasn’t played in a real football game in 1,000 days, will finally make his debut for Cincinnati this fall; Kiel jilted Indiana/LSU/Notre Dame in the recruiting process, doing his imitation of Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride. Now we’ll see if he was worth all the fuss.
5) Speaking of the Bearcats, they’ve had/got some impressive names; they go from a QB named Munchie (LeGaux) to one named Gunner; they’ve got a defensive end named Silverpenny Mouhon and a safety named Mike Tyson.
4) Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder is 75 and still growing strong; if you look at the over K-State record thru the years, then take away the years Snyder was coach, you realize the guy is a Hall of Famer.
3) When media does a writeup on the best places to coach college basketball, they should omit Duke/Syracuse; those two places will become very, very difficult jobs once the current coaches leave. Fan bases have been spoiled by their constant success; Duke’s arena isn’t very nice and Syracuse is in central New York, which sucks in the winter. Orangemen will still have the 25,000 people coming out for most home games, but they’re an ACC team now in a move designed to help football- do not think it helps their basketball at all.
2) Prince Fielder’s neck surgery is good news for free agent Kendrys Morales, who should finally sign with a team soon.
1) Met TV announcer Gary Cohen was complaining Thursday night about Gil Hodges not being in the Hall of Fame, saying his managerial stint should push him over the top in elections, so I looked it up.
Hodges, who died too young at age 47, managed nine years in the big leagues, five with Washington, four with the Mets. Other than the 1969 Miracle Mets, Hodges never managed a team that went better than 83-79 and the season after he passed away, the Mets made it to the World Series, so there was significant pitching talent (Seaver/Ryan/Koosman) there.
Not everyone who plays in New York has to get inducted in Cooperstown.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here.......
13) I wonder if Japanese baseball fans get mad when their star players bolt for the big money in this country? I mean, Masahiro Tanaka was 24-0 for his team last year; it has to be a big blow to lose him and get nothing back.
12) Of the 92 pitchers currently on the disabled list, 31 of them are recovering from Tommy John surgery.
11) Texas Rangers' season from hell continues; Prince Fielder is probably going to have season-ending neck surgery; he hadn't missed a game in 3+ years before joining Texas this season, had played in 547 consecutive games.
10) NBA appointed this guy Dick Parsons to be CEO of the Clippers; now it comes out that he may have lied about playing basketball at Hawai'i in the early 60's, as a ridiculously embarrassing story gets worse every day for the league. Deadspin had a report questioning whether he ever played varsity ball at Hawai'i, then his people backtracked and said he played freshman ball, but Hawai'i has no record of it.
9) Would this Clipper debacle have played out any differently if David Stern was still the commissioner? Why didn't Stern ever do anything about Sterling?
8) Cincinnati transfer Jermaine Lawrence surfaced at Manhattan, where he will help coach Steve Masiello get a big-paying job elsewhere next spring. Can't believe a school like Oregon State didn't ignore Masiello's resume issues and give him a big contract to coach there-- he is obviously a very good coach.
7) UNLV will have five new starters next fall; PG Deville Smith has transferred, as Dave Rice cleans house heading forward. Smith hasn't said where he is going next; he is a pretty good player who could really help a mid-major team.
6) Astros' pitcher Jarred Cosart has a 12.80 ERA in the first inning this season, worst in MLB; he generally pitches pretty well after that first inning.
5) You watch Ryan Howard play 1B in Philly and you cringe; he's lost so much mobility, and he's hitting only .213 (10-47) against lefties. Not good.
4) Kansas football coach Charlie Weis is still the highest-paid member of the Notre Dame athletic department; he somehow hoodwinked the Irish into breaking the bank to pay him when he was head coach in South Bend, and it is the gift that keeps on giving. Read somewhere this week that since Notre Dame fired him in 2009, he's been paid around $9,800 per day, every day. Oy.
3) Love the TV camera inside the nets at NHL games; wonder how much it costs if a slap shot drills one of those cameras and breaks it.
2) The catch Yasiel Puig made at Citi Field in the second inning last night might be the best non-fence catch I've ever seen. Tremendous. He also made two pretty bad baserunning blunders that took LA out of innings- nothing is dull around Puig.
Best catch I've ever seen was Gary Matthews Jr over the center field fence in Arlington, saving a game in the last inning.
1) Congratulations to my friend Joanne, who is retiring today after 44 years of working for New York State. A very nice person who will be missed, we wish her well in the next chapter in her life.
Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) You hear the phrase “This is no time to panic” every now and then, so I’ve often wondered “When is the time to panic?”.
Well, when you play Stephen Drew $10M to play 100 games at shortstop, like the Red Sox did this week, that is when panic has set in. Drew will have to play 12-15 minor league games to get ready for big league play, then be an upgrade over Xavier Bogaerts, who will probably move over to 3B. The lesson here, as always: Scott Boras gets what he wants. His take on a $10M deal? $300,000.
12) I took some grief on Twitter last night for saying foreign basketball players aren't as selfish as American players, and that foreign teenagers work harder on fundamental skills, and that is part of why the San Antonio Spurs win-- nine of 15 Spurs are foreign-born. This is a point of contention in the basketball world.
11) Here are the facts of this case......
-- "We draft players who have gotten over themselves" -Gregg Popovich
-- Nine of fifteen players on the Spurs' roster are foreign-born.
-- Those players combined to score 85 of the 112 points the Spurs scored in Game 2 against Oklahoma City Wednesday.
-- San Antonio has won four NBA championships under Popovich.
American teenage basketball players play too many games, do not practice skills enough; friend of mine's son plays AAU in western Pennsylvania-- kid's team was at VCU last weekend, a 7-hour drive one-way. Very few college coaches saw any of their games, so what did they gain by going, except it was fun and expensive?
Most kids would be better off staying home and practicing their game, getting better, the same way you prepare for a test in school by studying.
10) I am reading Jonah Keri’s book about how smart the Tampa Bay Rays are, but there’s a little bit of revisionist history in there; when the Rays traded Aubrey Huff in 2007, they got Ben Zobrist, but the main target was pitcher Mitch Talbot, who turned out to be a flop, allowing 12 runs in 9.2 IP for the Rays, before being traded for Kelly Shoppach and going 12-19 for Cleveland, before injuries cut his career very short. Zobrist has turned out to be terrific, but they got a little bit lucky there. Its OK to get lucky; lot of smart people often do.
9) Donnie Tyndall has already added eight players in his first month as hoop coach at Tennessee; he’s added two graduate transfers, one from IUPUI, and the latest, Eric McKnight, who was on Andy Enfield’s Florida Gulf Coast Sweet 16 team two years ago.
8) If the A’s make the playoffs this year, I will make noise for Drew Pomeranz as team MVP: he’s started three games, gone five innings in all three and not allowed a run, spearheading a 11-1 Oakland run when they looked like a dead team before that. Pomeranz’ first start was in Game 2 of a twinbill with Seattle May 7 when the Mariners had won the first three games of the series- that win was huge, and was the first game of the current streak.
Pomeranz was once a big prospect for the Rockies who struggled in the minors, much like Josh Donaldson, whom the A’s rescued from the Cub organization.
7) Former big league catcher Damon Berryhill is manager of the Albuquerque Dukes, the Dodgers' AAA team, where Miguel Olivo bit part of the ear off one of his teammates in a dugout skirmish this week. Both guys played the next night, since AAA teams don’t have a lot of subs, hard to bench two starters, especially a catcher, but now the Dodgers have suspended Olivo, who could still be charged with assault.
Guerrero is out for a while; his ear needed plastic surgery. Dukes got shut out 3-0 in Salt Lake City last night. Weirdest situation I've seen in a while.
6) President Obama will be in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame today, as New York State tries to drum up tourism business; if I were a Presidential advisor, I’d advise two slices of pizza and a Cherry Coke at Sal’s Pizza.
5) NBA Draft Lottery was held in the room that is normally the Green Room for Good Morning America; they might rename the room after the Cavaliers pretty soon, if they keep getting so lucky in the lottery.
4) Speaking of which, Cleveland had a 2.8% chance of winning the ’11 lottery; they did. They had a 15% chance of winning it last year; they did. Tuesday, they had a 1.7% chance of winning and they did. Combined, the Cavaliers had a 0.00.7% chance of winning all three lotteries, but they did. Now all they have to do is draft a productive player; not as easy, which they proved last year. .
3) Why would anyone ride a motorcycle in normal traffic without a helmet? In some states, helmets aren’t mandated and in others, the helmet law is a sore point, but it is stupid to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. What if a tractor trailer kicks up a rock and it nails you in the head? Not only are you in danger, everyone behind you is too. At some point, you have to legislate stupidity out of the world.
2) Minor league ball player Mike Hessman hit his 400th career minor league homer this week, which means he’s been thisclose to the majors for a long time. Hessman does have 14 big league homers and six more in Japan, but he’s only had 223 AB’s in the majors, with Detroit, Atlanta and the Mets. The way some major league teams are struggling on offense you’d think they’d give him a shot, but he hasn’t been in the bigs since 2010.
1) Irony: Terry Collins is in his 4th year managing the Mets, despite never having a winning season in Flushing. In two previous managerial stops, Houston, Anaheim, Collins had five winning seasons out of six years, but didn’t get offered a fourth year in either place. Go figure.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) One of the few advantages to being bald is that on windy days, I never stress about my hair being messed up, because I don’t have any. Some people look into the mirror and freak and it ruins their day; not me. Its all good.
12) Random knowledge, courtesy of baseball-reference.com: since 1977, Indians have hit 15 walk-off homers against Detroit; there was a 12-year gap in there, in between Carmen Castillo in ’82 and Jim Thome in ’95. Thome hit three of the 15 homers. Losing on a walk-off homer by Omar Vizquel (5-23-99 off Todd Jones) had to be the most unusual of the fifteen.
11) Kevin Ollie will be making around $3M per year at UConn now; he said it would take $5M to get him to the NBA, which means he doesn’t want to go there yet. No one is paying him $5M a year to coach anywhere- he knows that.
10) That $60M high school football stadium they built in Allen, TX? It still isn’t safe and won’t be used this coming fall. Oy. Someone screwed up bigtime, either in the design or in construction and the concrete is messed up; some lawyers are going to get wealthier when those lawsuits come up for trial.
9) Kelvin Sampson is back in college coaching at Houston; ironic thing is that the stuff that got him into trouble at Oklahoma/Indiana is legal now, so he should be all set. He can call recruits as much as he wants, no problem.
8) If you’re Syracuse basketball assistant Mike Hopkins, how long do you wait to go after a head coaching job? He is 43 years old, not young anymore for a guy who has never been a head coach. Hopkins is from California but didn’t get the Oregon State job; does he wait for Boeheim to retire and take the Syracuse job?
Problem there is that Boeheim has a younger wife and may not retire soon and by then Hopkins could be in his 50’s. Tough choice for him, made tougher by fact that even if he wants a job (Oregon State) they obviously didn’t think he would stay there, so they hired the guy from Montana, who has successful head coaching experience.
7) Chris Mack re-upped at Xavier until 2020, which sounds like a long time, but is obviously only six more years. Good news for Xavier; Mack is a good coach.
6) From sound of it, the Buffalo Bills may wind up in Toronto seven years from now. That will be kind of sad, but better than them going to LA.
5) Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban is from Pittsburgh, went to college at Indiana; he’s waving the green flag at the Indy 500 Sunday. Observed him a little bit at the Las Vegas Summer League last year; seems like a good guy, approachable and pleasant.
4) Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans, changed their name to the Pelicans so the Charlotte Bobcats, who replaced the Hornets on Tobacco Road, are taking the Hornets name back. Seems like a popular idea in North Carolina.
3) CC Sabathia is out until July, which probably means the All-Star break- play resumes July 18 after the break. Losing all that weight hasn’t seemed to help his knees at all.
2) Hideous story out of Albuquerque; former big league catcher Miguel Olivo bit part of the ear off of teammate Alexander Guerrero in a dugout fight-- there was an argument after the other team stole second base, Olivo claiming Guerrero didn't do a good job applying the tag. No charges have been filed yet, but still.....
1) BYU went independent in football because they see themselves as being similar to Notre Dame on a national level; problem is, no one else sees them that way, so now they’re getting put in their place by leagues saying playing BYU isn’t strong enough scheduling. Cougars would be better off in a league but don’t seem interested in going back to the Mountain West, their old home.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud..........
13) The AT&T/DirecTV $49B merger, that’s billion, with a B, might hinge on whether DirecTV maintains the NFL Sunday Ticket past this upcoming season. For me, if DirecTV loses the Sunday Ticket, I’ll be calling the cable company or whoever in five minutes to switch to another provider. Not sure how many others feel that way, but I do.
12) NFL is using Super Bowls as a carrot to get new stadiums built; why else would Minnesota be in the running for Super Bowl 52 (I’m not good with Roman numerals). At least the Vikings’ new stadium will be domed, unlike Swamp Stadium, where they had the Super Bowl three months ago. Still, with all due respect, who the hell wants to go to Minnesota in February?
11) Jacksonville Jaguars had 6,200 fans show up for their rookie mini-camp last week, so Blake Bortles has generated at least some enthusiasm in northern Florida. Too bad they put the Jags’ home game this season with Dallas in London- that game in itself probably would’ve gotten some season tickets sold, had it been played in Jacksonville.
10) Has any college football studio show signed up Mack Brown yet? The former Texas Longhorns coach is a great speaker, seems like a good guy, he would add a lot to a studio show.
9) Former college football coach Jim Donnan, who also worked for ESPN for a while, was found not guilty on 41 counts of fraud last week, after being charged with running a Ponzi scheme. That’s a bigger win for him than any of the games he ever won, and he won a lot of games, mostly at Marshall.
8) I’m not a big fan of combines to rate draft prospects, either in football/basketball. I understand teams gather information there and interview players, that stuff is really important, but the workouts/drills? Please.
UCLA’s Zach Lavine is shooting up draft boards because of his workouts in Chicago last week, where no games were played. Lavine started one game at UCLA, scored 9.4 ppg, playing 24.4 mpg, yet he's the hot draft prospect. Its nonsensical.
The #1 criteria has to be, must always be, “Can he play?!?!?!?” I don’t care if he’s a decathlete, put his game tape in. Maybe I’m just old, but I think of Jeff George as a guy who could throw the football through a car wash and have it come out on the other side dry, but he wasn’t an effective leader of a team, so his teams most always lost. That’s what matters.
7) Why do NBA teams test point guards’ vertical leap? I mean, do you really care how high a point guard can jump? I care if he can see the court, distribute the ball, shoot the ball, make his teammates better. Jumping is a bonus, but if you’re drafting a point guard because he can jump, you’re using the wrong tools to evaluate with.
6) Cubs’ 1B Anthony Rizzo didn’t like the Cardinals shifting on him last week, so he bunted for a hit. Twice. Result? Much different shift, much less radical the third time up. If you don’t want teams to shift, then find a way to get them out of it. Life is simple sometimes.
5) Marlins gave Giancarlo Stanton his first day off this season Sunday; if they’re going to give him a day off, then it has to be on the road, because Marlin fans pay to see Stanton hit, doubly so now that Jose Fernandez is out for the year. So it was smart of them to give him a rest day in San Francisco, though he wound up pinch-hitting late in the game anyway.
4) I’m thinking of taking a baseball-themed vacation next year, with one of the stops a Marlin series in a dome (Phoenix/Houston/Miami) so I can watch Stanton take BP 2-3 days in a row. Think that would be uniquely fun.
3) Hanley Ramirez is a free agent after this season; there is no way on God’s green earth I would break the bank to sign Ramirez for big bucks. He's not durable enough- he played 86 games LY, 92 in 2011. He put up serious numbers when he was on the Marlins, but now he is over 30 and appears to be a player in decline.
2) Horse racing expert/Long Island resident KL Wheat estimates it would cost Belmont Park 60,000 fans if California Chrome doesn’t race for the Triple Crown on June 7. That’s a lot of money involved there; NYRA better make the horse’s handlers feel welcome.
1) Adam Scott became the #1-ranked golfer in the world this week, even though he didn’t play. It’s a 2-year rolling thing, so whatever was on the books two years this week came off the board, which pushes Scott ahead of Eldrick Woods into the top spot.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.........
13) Dodgers have the biggest payroll in baseball history, but they're 23-22, 8-3 against Arizona, 15-19 against everyone else. How long before Don Mattingly gets the boot? I'll ask it this way: If it was you who owned the Dodgers, your $250M going to a 23-22 team, wouldn't you want a better manager than Mattingly?
12) Why some teams win: Brandon Moss was released by the Phillies, released, on October 17, 2011- he signed with Oakland six weeks later. Moss hit 30 taters last year, has 36 RBI in 42 games this year-- A's made the playoffs his first two years with the team, and are in first place this year. They got him off the scrap heap.
11) NFL over/under win totals for this coming season: We'll get into this more later this week, but Denver-SF-Seattle have highest totals (11), while Jacksonville (4.5) has the lowest total.
10) Mitch Williams took a leave from MLB Network as reports of his fracas at a Little League game went public. Apparently, Williams ordered one of his 10-year old pitchers to drill the opposing pitcher, and things went downhill from there. Oy.
9) Mets' pitchers have one hit this season; they've allowed a hit to the opposing pitcher in each of their last five games.
8) Odd weekend in baseball, with only five of 45 games having winning run score in 7th inning or later; only two games like that Friday/Saturday were the Jays-Texas games in Arlington. Not a lot of drama this weekend.
7) Odd fact: Kevin Love's father Stan was a teammate of George Karl with the San Antonio Spurs in 1974-75.
6) AT&T bought DirecTV this weekend for around $49B; I'm guessing my rates are going up, but I hope the hell they at least add the Pac-12, SEC Networks.
5) Tigers' sweep at Fenway Park this weekend was their first one since 1983.
4) Golfer Charles Howell III has 25 top 10's in his PGA career; two wins, 14 second-places finishes, nine third-place finishes. If he was a race horse, they'd say he was a lousy finisher, but he's made at least $1.2M 14 years in a row, despite not having won a tournament since 2007. Not too bad.
3) College graduates in the Class of 2014 go out in the real world with an average student loan debt of $33,000.
2) Rookie umpire Jon Byrne did his first game behind the plate Sunday, Mets-Nats. Byrne is the first Australian umpire in the major leagues.
1) Supposedly Detroit Pistons offered their coaching job to Tom Izzo before they hired Stan Van Gundy- they got the right guy. Izzo is a great college coach, do not see him putting up with the BS most NBA coaches have to put up with.
Sunday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Struggling Diamondbacks hired Tony Larussa to turn their program around, which is very bad news for GM Kevin Towers. Competition can be addicitive, and Larussa missed the winning/losing aspect of being part of a team. Funny that he is Kirk Gibson's boss now, seeing as Gibson's famous home run in 1988 beat the best A's team Larussa managed.
12) Larussa was on the job for 12 hours and Arizona had already hung 18 runs on Clayton Kershaw and the hated Dodgers, beating them 18-7. Kershaw was chased during a 7-run second inning for Arizona.
11) Speaking of the A's, Oakland pitcher Scott Kazmir got tossed in the second inning last night for bitching at plate ump Jerry Layne over balls/strikes. Because Bob Melvin is a great manager, the A's won anyway. Reliever Dan Otero threw 32 pitches and got 11 outs in relief of Kazmir, who needed 41 pitches to get four outs.
11) Odd play in San Francisco last night; Brandon Hicks smacked a double off the right field wall, just missing a homer, but Marlin replay guys noticed that Hicks missed first base, Mike Redmond challenged it, and Hicks was called out. Because he missed first base, he doesn't even get credit for a hit.
10) Miami's Giancarlo Stanton hit a triple to right-center, which is called triples alley because it is so deep, but later on, Stanton hit a homer in the same area, which righty hitters rarely do. Giant TV announcer have become such blatant homers; they acted like he popped out to second base. It was a titanic blast.
9) If I'm pitching for the Mets and Juan Lagares isn't playing centerfield, I'm ticked off; Lagares is that good a fielder. He robbed Jason Werth of a home run Saturday.
8) Phillies have already had two scoring droughts of 21+ innings this month, but they broke out of the second one in grand fashion Saturday, beating the Reds 12-1.
7) How does BJ Upton stay in the major leagues? He has 29 hits, 56 strikeouts and is hitting .203 with nine RBI in 143 ABs. Not good.
6) Texas Rangers have six guys on the 60-day DL, and now Martin Perez is out for the year with an elbow injury- their pitching staff has fallen apart.
5) Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes is son-in-law of former big league pitcher Atlee Hammaker, who started the 1983 All-Star Game.
4) Washington Nationals have to be concerned with Gio Gonzalez, who allowed eight first-inning runs in his last three starts, and is 0-2, 14.73 in last two starts.
3) Penn State's baseball team turned two triple plays in a game vs Michigan State.
2) Can never figure out why NBC runs a 2-hour program around a horse race, which is less than two minutes long. I mean, I understand they can sell commercials for it and they make money, but who would watch anything but the race?
1) NHL is doing very well; league VP Bill Daly said the salary cap could go as high as $70M next year. Commish Gary Bettman isn't a popular guy, but the league is flourishing under his leadership, whether it is because of him or in spite of him.
Saturday's List of 13: Weekend wramblings.......
13) One of the coolest things about baseball is the little individual contests that happen within a game; Thursday in the top of the 5th at Minnesota, Xavier Bogaerts had a 14-pitch at-bat against Phil Hughes, with two on and two out in a game the Twins led 3-1. Big spot in the game; Hughes had been sailing along, but Bogaerts fouled off eight pitches with two strikes on him, before he flied out to center. That AB shortened Hughes’ start by an inning- he left after the 6th inning, after throwing 97 pitches.
12) AB was the longest by a Boston player in two years, since Dustin Pedroia had a similar AB against Tampa Bay.
11) When we get into July, we’re going to hear about non-contenders trading big-money players for prospects, to bolster their talent base while keeping payroll in check. Right now I’m thinking Cubs (Samardzija) and Tampa Bay (Price) will be two sellers, which is sad for their fans but a reality of the modern game.
Bronx Bombers will be buyers, but they have very little to offer in the way of prospects, while the Dodgers have OF Joc Pederson, who is hitting .358 in AAA, with 36 runs scored in 40 games. He’d look very good right now in several major league lineups.
10) One thing is the same for all big league teams; no matter what their salary level, they all struggle with putting their bullpen together. Performance of relief pitchers varies so greatly from year-to-year, and you need seven relievers (some teams have eight), so it’s a challenge.
9) A’s traded with San Diego for 6-6, 280 pound 1B/OF Kyle Blanks, sent Daric Barton to the minors; Barton is a good fielder but didn’t hit enough. Blanks will play some OF- this makes Brandon Moss more of an every day 1B, which he has earned.
8) Didn’t realize that before Steve Kerr got his basketball scholarship from Arizona, he had committed to play for Cal State-Fullerton, not exactly a basketball power. Kerr is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point accuracy, around 45%.
7) I’m glad for the Indiana Pacers; they struggled so badly at the end of the regular season, no one thought they’d win two playoff series, and they were even rumors that Frank Vogel’s job was in jeopardy. Now they have home court advantage in the Eastern finals, so good for them.
6) A group is trying to bring an NHL team to a new arena in Seattle; no one is sure which team would move, but Nashville Predators seem like a leading contender.
5) ACC basketball will experiment with a 30-second shot clock for exhibition games in the fall; don’t think its that big a deal, it’ll create some more possessions, and more forced shots at the end of possessions, but overall, it won’t make much matter. Not sure why they want to make the college game more like the NBA game.
4) A high school QB in Texas committed to play for Rice after Owls coaches sent a recruiting letter…..to the kid’s cat. Seriously. That creative approach won the kid’s family over and he’ll be playing for a pretty good Rice team next year.
3) This weekend is Dick Vitale’s gala down in Florida to raise money to fight cancer for the Jimmy V fund. Coach Vitale has raised well over $100M to battle cancer; he is very energetic about the cause and uses his vast contacts to raise more money. You can see why he was a great recruiter when he coached.
2) Here is a baseball replay rule that has to revised, like today: Marlins-Giants game Thursday, bottom of 6th inning, Hunter Pence hits a 40-foot roller down the first base line, kicks the ball with his left foot (which is in fair territory) but umpires don’t see it. He should be out, so obviously so that the Giants’ TV announcers say he should be out, but for some reason, by rule, that play is not reviewable.
Really don’t know why, but they need to put an addendum in today that says batters being hit by balls in fair territory is reviewable. Giants wound up scoring the winning runs in that inning, mainly because of that missed call.
By the way, add Lance Barksdale to the bad umpire list- he is awful, which you know because players are always barking at him. Not much respect there.
1) I wonder if Michael Sam’s people have already casted the parts for the inevitable movie about his life a few years from now? Jeff Fisher once played a sheriff in a country music video; maybe he could play himself in the movie.
Rare win for common sense, by the way, as Oprah Winfrey's TV network has put off plans for a documentary about Sam's attempt to make an NFL team.
Friday's List of 13; Random stuff with weekend here..........
13) A high school pitcher in Washington threw 194 pitches in a game this week, going 14 innings in a game that wound up going 17. The kid who was catching pitched the 15th-17th innings, then pitched the entire second game (7 innings) of the doubleheader. I’m not sure which kid’s parents should smack the coach first.
12) Now that the Marlins have signed Randy Wolf to pitch for them, does MLB alter its umpire assignments, if Jim Wolf (brother) is already assigned to work any Marlin games? Wolf is generally seen as a pitcher’s ump, which makes sense, seeing as how his brother is a pitcher.
11) Cleveland Browns signed veterans Earl Bennett and Miles Austin, upgrading a thin receiving corps.
10) One of the things the Angels look for in a hitter is guys who can extend an at-bat and make a pitcher work- they look for 8-pitch at bats as a measure to wear the other team’s pitchers out.
9) Phillies are now 13-31 in their last 44 interleague games; luckily for them, they don’t have another one until August.
8) Speaking of the Phillies, Ryne Sandberg came down with food poisoning after eating food from a concession stand at Citi Field this week; Mets’ 1B Lucas Duda also got sick after eating food from the same stand.
7) When a college basketball team has a disappointing season, funny how they usually have several players transfer after the season. This is called “getting run off”, in effect getting fired by the coaching staff, so they can bring in new players to upgrade the roster, while staying within the scholarship limit, which is 13. This year, Indiana/UNLV both fall into that category.
6) I’m wondering if MLB will ever announce which umpires are ones reviewing plays in New York; fans don’t necessarily need to know, but I’m guessing teams want to know. If an ump is away from the field for a while, hard to know if he is on vacation or in New York reviewing plays, which is actually a semi-vacation.
5) Ironic that the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff is falling apart the first full season after Nolan Ryan left the organization. Ryan encouraged pitchers to work deeper into games, to be tougher mentally, but Texas pitchers are dropping like flies.
4) Why is there no 5-on-5 play at the NBA Combine? Seems like a little of that would be helpful, but maybe that’s what the Portsmouth Invitational was for.
3) Chicago Bears are first NFL team to sign all its 2014 draft picks; Carolina Panthers were only team not to draft any guys who worked out at the Senior Bowl.
2) Steve Kerr worked lot of NBA games on TNT with Marv Albert, who is a New York City legend but was fired by Knicks owner James Dolan; wonder if that had any impact on Kerr’s decision not to work for Dolan and the Knicks?
1) Since 2005, only five teams have won fewer playoff games than the Knicks. Five out of 29 other teams, but TV types keep referring to the Knickerbockers as a marquee franchise in the league. Why? They’ve won two titles, 41 and 44 years ago. That’s it. They’re owned by a guy a lot of people think is a worse owner than Donald Sterling. Think about that one for a minute.
Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) Steve Kerr shuns Phil Jackson and the Knicks, signs with Golden State for five years, $25M, all of which ignited a spirited debate on Twitter Wednesday night about who is the worst owner in the NBA, James Dolan or Donald Sterling? Guess it depends on whether you think racism is worse than sexual harassment.
If NBA players think the Sterling family is going away quietly or quickly, they're sadly mistaken; these people are experts at playing the legal system- this is going to stretch out for several years.
12) Stan Van Gundy breaks the bank and is now in charge of the Detroit Pistons, which is good for the NBA, great for the Pistons. Very solid coach, good guy.
11) Diamondbacks’ pitcher Brandon McCarthy is a bright guy; he was tweeting this week how there are more Tommy John surgeries in part because there are so many less shoulder injuries; modern training tactics have moved the stress of pitching from the shoulder to the elbow, where an operation takes you out for a year, whereas a severe shoulder injury is often a career ender.
10) First five innings of the Mets-Bronx game Tuesday was the worst stretch of major league baseball I’ve ever seen, it was painful to watch two pitchers who seemed afraid to throw the ball over the plate. Wheeler and Aceves, oy. Just awful. Wheeler threw 118 pitches, got 13 outs. A 7:00 game was still in the 4th inning at 8:50, in part because the right field fence is so close, it intimidates pitchers from challenging hitters.
9) I seriously wonder if they screwed up when designing right field in the Bronx; instead of curving and gradually getting farther from home plate as the fence goes from the right field foul pole towards center, the fence seems to go straight across, creating a very short power alley in right center. It has to have a negative impact on their ability to recruit free agent pitchers.
8) The Madoff victim fund has had claims from 119 different countries; I’m not sure I can even name 119 different countries.
7) Ian Chiles averaged 15.8 ppg for IUPUI in the Summit League last year; he transfers to Tennessee and will be eligible to play this fall, good get for coach Donnie Tyndall, who has been aggressive in adding players since he got the job this month.
6) They have Monday qualifiers to get into PGA Tour events each week; this week at the Byron Nelson, guy named Case Cochran scored an ace on 5th playoff hole to win the last spot in the field. Must be tough to lose a playoff to a guy who gets a freakin’ hole-in-one.
5) Defensive shifts have really helped pitchers as they’ve become more popular; now it is up to hitters to bunt against the shifts to discourage their use. If you’re stubborn and just try to hit through/over them, they won’t go away. Major league hitters should all know how to bunt, at least a little.
4) I need to narrow my focus on what I read on the Internet; there seems to be an exhausting amount of information, so have to narrow it down, read the best stuff, then move on to other things. You can spend your whole damn day just surfing the net now. Managing time is one of our most important jobs.
3) Official scorer in Texas finally wised up and changed 7th-inning error Friday night from an error to a hit for David Ortiz. Ball was a pop up in short RF that fell between two fielders, neither of whom touched it. Because Yu Darvish had a no-hitter going, they called it an error, which was just plain wrong- now that’s been corrected.
2) Surprisingly, Mets have scored in more first innings than any team in baseball. Tuesday’s Met-Bronx game was just second game this season where both teams scored 3+ runs in first inning- the other one was a White Sox-Indians tilt.
1) Phils’ manager Ryne Sandberg is old school; he left Cole Hamels in Sunday to throw 133 pitches, in only his 4th start this season, then chided closer Papelbon for begging out of pitching Sunday, after he had thrown Friday/Saturday.
Phillies veterans have been playing day games after night games. Sandberg may have a quiet exterior, buthe seems to be prodding his team to be mentally tougher. We’ll see if it works.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Why isn’t more analysis done of drafts 3-5 years after they happen? That’s when you can properly figure out who was sharp and who wasn’t; doing an analysis of this draft 12 hours after it happens is pointless, but I guess we’re a society that lives in the right now so that’s what people want to read, but seeing stuff from the 2009-2011 drafts would certainly be more telling as to why teams are in the position they’re in now.
12) If I was a Cleveland Browns’ fan, I’d be happy to hear Brian Hoyer starts the season as the starter; let the rookie Manziel learn, observe and get his feet wet. Throwing guys in right away is a new trend of the last 5-7 years and not necessarily a positive one.
11) LVH is posting NFL season win total over/unders Sunday at 5pm, so we’ll knowledge on those numbers in this space Monday.
10) They’re already selling Houston Texan mini-helmets signed by Jadeveon Clowney for $200 a pop; must be nice to get paid for signing your name.
9) Remember once my father wanted me to get an Eli Manning signed mini-helmet for him, to give to someone as a thank you gift, so I go to the memorabilia store in the mall- a signed Giants’ helmet, with a scribbled signature was $190 or so (this was a few years ago). I mention to the cashier that its too bad he doesn’t have an Ole Miss helmet signed by Manning, that would be cool. The guy perks up and says, “I have one in the back!!!” and returns with it, with a perfect signature, as if Eli labored to do it just right. Only $100.
Giant helmets and Ole Miss helmets are exactly the same except for the logo on the side, dark blue with a red stripe. So I saved $90 or so just by making conversation.
8) Mike Brown has been fired again by the Cavaliers, the third time he’s been fired in four years; he’s probably still cashing checks from the first time Cleveland fired him. Guy couldn’t win a title coaching Lebron or Kobe; can we give someone else a chance, please?
7) There is actually a junior college in Florida called Daytona State? Heard of them for the first time this week; where do their students go on spring break?
6) A’s skipper Bob Melvin hit 35 major league homers during his playing days; three of them were against Fernando Valenzuela, a damn good pitcher- that’s more than Melvin hit against anyone else.
5) Vikings’ college scouting director Scott Studwell resigned after 12 years, which is a big change for that organization. NFL scouts are largely anonymous but obviously they do critical work when it comes to personnel decisions that make or break a season.
4) ACC basketball tournament will now be Tuesday-Saturday, with final 8:30 on Saturday nights on ESPN, going head-head with the Big East tournament on FOX Sports1. There could come a time where there are no conference tourney games on Selection Sunday, except maybe for some one-bid leagues that want TV exposure, like the Sun Belt or Southland.
3) Anthony Hickey is one of three players to leave LSU’s basketball program, after playing three years for the Tigers; he averaged 31.1 mpg LY, so something’s up there. Curious to see where the young man winds up. Sounds like he was dismissed, rather than transferring, although he will undoubtedly surface somewhere else.
2) Seattle lifted starter Iwakuma after 97 pitches with a 1-0 lead after 8th inning; closer Rodney blew the save. Tampa Bay left starter Price in, also with 97 pitches, and he closed out the Rays' dramatic 2-1 win. This is why Joe Maddon is one of the best managers in baseball; he usually gets a lot from a limited roster.
1) Baseball teams in New York, Chicago, LA and the SF/Oakland bay area would like more rivalry games in interleague play, but teams like Colorado/Seattle don’t have natural rivals, so what would those teams do?
I still think total geographic realignment would be a good idea, but that’s too radical an idea for baseball’s glacier-like progressive thinking.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Kids who don’t get drafted by the NFL should be allowed to go back to college; what would it hurt? The way it is now, there are lot of sad stories, kids who get bad advice seeing their careers end. Have to listen to the right people.
12) Joey Votto takes grief for not driving in enough runs; this season, he has come to bat with 70 men on base, and knocked in only six of them, including just 1 of 21 from second base. Not good for a #3 hitter, but Votto does have a .404 on-base percentage. Why not just bat him leadoff? Seems like he would be ideal at setting the table for hitters who are better at driving men in.
11) My godson Tom loved the Bills trading for Sammy Watkins; I’m against giving up extra #1 picks, I consider them to be like gold, especially if a perennial losing team like Buffalo is trading them. We’ll see how it works out, but in a draft loaded with good WR’s, I think they paid too steep a price.
10) 18 of the 53 guys on Rams’ roster last year weren’t drafted; football players come from all over, which is part of what makes the NFL Draft more interesting than the others.
9) LSU had the most players taken in this year’s draft (9). I’m guessing our guy Les Miles will use that in his recruiting spiels for the next year or two.
8) My favorite sportswriter is Joe Posnanski who is from Kansas City; think he works for Sports Illustrated now. He wrote a great thing this weekend about his dislike for intentional walks and how the Rangers walked David Ortiz intentionally in the first inning Sunday, after a sacrifice bunt he also hated. Posnanski is a smart writer who is fair and a pleasure to read.
7) From this point on, any interviews regarding the Sterling family should be kept to Court TV or CNN-- its not a sports story anymore. Lawyers are going to rack up lot of billable hours as this distasteful saga plays out.
6) Shake Shack is a big deal at Citi Field; they have one at Saratoga racetrack and now also at New York-New York casino in Las Vegas. I’ve had them; they’re good shakes and all, but smaller than most milkshakes and like everything else at overly-commercial Saratoga, ridiculously expensive ($5.75 the day I was there).
The milkshake I had at In ‘n Out Burger in Las Vegas remains the best milkshake I’ve ever had, ever. Half the price of Shake Shack and much bigger.
5) Browns didn’t draft a WR, despite their best WR Josh Gordon being suspended, likely for the whole 2014 season. Gordon was the first WR ever to have consecutive 200-yard receiving games, and for the Browns, at that.
4) Kentucky paid Tennessee-Martin $410,000 to play its season opener this coming season; originally it was $375,000, but Kentucky switched the date and kicked in an extra $35,000. To a school like UT-Martin, that’s a lot of money.
3) It snowed in Denver over the weekend, enough to cover the ground, maybe an inch or two. Oy.
2) Looking at baseball teams on first game of a road trip, we see overs are 47-41 in those games, 25-18 for AL teams, 22-23 for NL teams. Just in case you care about stuff like that.
1) I’m way tired of media types who make six-figure salaries whining about the NFL Draft being in May. While I agree with them that an April draft would better serve rookie players, who would then get an extra two weeks to prepare with their new team, writers whining about having to work an extra two weeks is nauseating. Anytime you want to switch jobs, give me a shout.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.........
13) When I was a student basketball manager at UAlbany, we played a road game at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL; great area, looked like a nice school, kind of school kids from well-off families attend.
Rollins had an interesting speaker at its commencement exercises this weekend: the ex-wife of Eldrick Woods, the golddigging former nanny Elin Nordegren, an inspiration to women everywhere-- marry a philandering rich dude, be set financially for life. If they hurry, they can book V Stiviano for next year's graduation.
12) Cubs' pitcher Jeff Samardzija is first pitcher ever to allow 3 or less runs in each of his first eight starts, without winning any of them.
11) Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg left Cole Hamels in to throw 133 pitches Sunday, treating a May 11 game with the Mets like Game 7 of the World Series; he knew he didn't have closer Papelbon available, so he tried to lessen the number of outs his bullpen had to get. It didn't work; Mets won 5-4 in 11 innngs.
10) Sandberg wouldn't use all his relievers in this game; some he obviously has no confidence in during close games, so he wound up with starter Roberto Hernandez coming in to close the game in 9th inning, even though Hernandez threw 99 pitches in Friday night's game. Sandberg had an interesting weekend........
9) Saturday night, the Phils were going to walk rookie Matt Campbell with first base open and two out in a 4-3 game in the 6th; catcher Ruiz stood up, they threw ball one outside, then suddenly changed their mind and pitched to Campbell, who tied the game with a sac fly. Sandberg later said Chase Utley made that decision to pitch to the rookie, sensing Bobby Abreu would pinch-hit if they walked Campbell.
Interesting way to run a veteran ballclub, letting players decide on strategy, but long term, the manager better grab the bull by the horns and decide policy, since he's the one who will get fired of those moves don't work well. We'll follow this.
8) December 23, 2011; A's got Derek Norris in a six-player trade that sent Gio Gonzalez to Washington. Sunday, Norris hit a pair of 3-run homers off of Gonzalez, in the first two innings (both on 3-0 pitches) as the A's swept Washington 9-1. Bob Melvin is getting tremendous production from his catching platoon (Norris/Jaso).
7) 36 of 98 underclassmen who declared for this year's NFL draft weren't drafted; lot of kids are getting bad advice. At the end of the 2013 season, only 56% of kids who left school early from 2011-13 were still on NFL rosters.
6) When the Bengals traded up in the 4th round to draft center Russell Bodine, it was the first time in twelve years they traded up in the draft.
5) Mark Jackson asked Jerry West not to go to Warrior practices? Must have been a fun season in Oakland. I guess winning doesn't cure all that ails you.
4) Couple of college basketball transfers found homes: Kareem Canty goes from Marshall to South Florida, instead of Auburn, where he originally transferred to, and former Maryland point guard Seth Allen stays in the ACC at Virginia Tech. .
3) CC Sabathia is on the DL with a swollen knee and a swollen ERA (3-4, 5.28).
2) If the baseball playoffs started today, these teams would make it:
NL: Atlanta-Milwaukee-San Francisco, wild cards: Rockies-Marlins
AL: Baltimore-Detroit-Oakland, wild cards: Bronx-Angels
1) Highlight of this week is four Mets-Bronx Bomber games; my 88-year old father despises the Bombers, so it is good theater listening to him during the games, though he is discouraged with the Mets' recent play (2-8 in last ten games).
Sunday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) SBNation.com ran a great chart this week about NFL teams drafting QB’s; since 1984, the Kansas City Chiefs have won only two games that were started by a QB they drafted. Next fewest are the Texans, with 26, but their franchise is only twelve years old. Last time KC won a game started by a QB they drafted was in 1987. Team that was on top of that list was Atlanta, with 387, helped greatly by Brett Favre, who was a Falcon for only his rookie season.
12) Whether it is Hoyer or Manziel starting at QB for Cleveland September 7, he will be the 12th different Opening Day QB for the Browns in the last 16 years; if it is Hoyer, then Manziel will probably be the 13th in 17 years in 2015.
11) Saw a graphic this week that would sicken any Oakland Raider fan; their #1 draft picks in 2004-05-07 are all out of the NFL now. The pick after theirs in those three years: ’04- Larry Fitzgerald, ’05- Aaron Rodgers, ’07- Calvin Johnson. Oy, thats three Hall of Famers.
10) Tim Duncan has played in more NBA playoff games than thirteen entire franchises have.
9) No Big Dozen football player has been picked in top 10 of the NFL Draft since Michigan’s Jake Long in 2008- that includes Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, etc. Not even Northwestern.
8) Colorado Rockies team batting average at Coors Field this year is .355, which is an amazing number, high altitude or not.
7) I say this every year and it is still true; if every American did his job as well as Mel Kiper Jr does his, this would be a better country.
6) Burlington Bees, a minor league team in the Class A Midwest League, led 17-1 after the fifth inning Wednesday, but lost 20-17; apparently their bullpen has some issues. Winning pitcher for Clinton was their seccond baseman.
5) Highlight game of the SEC-Big X basketball challenge next fall is the Florida-Kansas game. Thats a bigtime game for November. .
4) University of Maine hired a new basketball coach to a 4-year contract at $105K a year. Kentucky’s three assistant basketball coaches, the ASSISTANT coaches, make $375K/$375K/$500K a year. Wow.
3) Only three NBA coaches have won their first four playoff road games: Mike Dunleavy, Pat Riley, Randy Wittman.
2) I've been a Ram fan since I was six years old; I hope Michael Sam is a great football player who helps the Rams win at least one Super Bowl. I don't give a rat's ass who he has sex with; I'm already tired of hearing about that aspect of it.
If you're good enough you play; if not, then you get cut. If you think Sam is the only gay pro athlete, you're an ostrich. We're all Americans, we should all have the same rights, whether we agree with each others' lifestyle or not.
1) Roger Goodell had to be very relieved Sam got drafted; league would've been ripped to shreds by the media if he hadn't been.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a rainy spring day......
13) TV ratings for the first night of the NFL Draft on NFL Network were up 50% from LY, ESPN’s up 48%. People love pro football.
12) As of 1:30 Friday, Cleveland Browns sold 2,000 new season tickets for this season, in the roughly 15 hours; if a season ticket (10 home games, counting couple preseason games) costs $1,000, then 2,000 season tickets is $2M, and that’s before any #2 jerseys are sold. Say they sell 20,000 jerseys, which is conservative at $100 profit per pop, that’s another $2M. Johnny Manziel is already earning whatever they’ll pay him.
11) Saw a hat chart they have at the draft for kids getting picked; Jadeveon Clowney has an 8 3/8 hat size, which is totally huge—none of those old snap-back hats would’ve fit him. Only head I’ve ever heard of that is bigger than is Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy, who apparently has an enormous size 9 head. By way of reference, my hat size is 7 ¾ and that is really big.
10) Nine DBs were taken in the first round this year, two more than ever before. NFL is a passing league, for sure.
9) With Oregon State’s job open, there are currently 11 basketball coaches in the Pac-12; none of the 11 has ever coached in the Final Four; if the Beavers hire Ben Howland, who coached UCLA in three Final Fours, they’d be the only team in the league with a Final Four coach, which would be a recruiting advantage. Howland won at Northern Arizona, so he’ll win with the Beavers, if he gets the job.
8) Russell Baxter points out that over the last 48 years, the Redskins have made only 23 picks in the first round. Not all of that is George Allen’s fault, either.
7) This is the first time since ’96-’97 that the #1 pick in the draft wasn’t a QB two years in a row; those two picks were Keyshawn Johnson/Orlando Pace.
6) NFL invited 30 players to come to the draft, only 21 were chosen Thursday which has to be humbling for the other nine; wonder how many of them brought a second suit?
5) Ryan Anderson (14.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg) transfers from Boston College to Arizona, where he can play in 2015-16. I’m surprised BC had someone Arizona would want.
4) Odd coincidence: Manziel, Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden were all drafted by Cleveland with the 22nd pick in the first round. By three different GMs.
3) Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel is the new school president at Youngstown State; not the AD, the school president. Think the football team will get all the support it needs?
2) I’m sitting at work Friday and it suddenly dawned on me: two best hitters on my fantasy baseball team (Stanton/Abreu) are both going to be in the Home Run Derby, and Longoria might be in it too, which means three hours of terror for me, as I’ll be worried they’ll pull an oblique muscle trying to hit the ball from Minneapolis to St Paul. There is very little in baseball as fun as watching Stanton crush the ball, but in games, not batting practice.
1) The promoter in Jerry Jones had to be dying to take Manziel with his pick Thursday; he was probably envisioning all the ways they’d make a fortune together. At the end of the day though, Jones knows that winning is the best way to make a bigger fortune, so he wisely went with the offensive lineman. Would’ve been quite a show had he taken Johnny Football, though.
Friday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) If I'm a Cleveland Browns' fan today, I'm fired up; they got their QB of the future, got another good defensive player with the 4th pick and came out of it with an extra #1 pick for next year, and its Buffalo's pick-- they made a killing!!!!
12) If I'm a Buffalo fan, I'm like....this is a draft loaded with WRs, and we traded our #1 pick next year for a receiver? When did we hire Kevin Costner as our GM?
11) Vikings got an extra 5th-round pick to drop one slot in the draft, then got the guy they wanted anyway. Seeing as Tom Brady was a 6th-round pick, this is smart.
Vikings also got Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick; his game production was fabulous, but Mike Mayock said he had the worst pre-draft workouts of any QB in the last decade. Norv Turner is the OC in Minnesota, which will help.
10) Saints traded a 3rd-round pick to Arizona to move up seven slots to take WR Brandin Cooks; they lost Darren Sproles, need to get Drew Brees more weapons.
9) Credit to Jerry Jones for not drafting Manziel; Jones is a great promoter, but from a football perspective, this would've made no sense. One way to protect your defense and your QB is to run the ball better, so drafting a tackle makes sense. You know Jones had to be tempted though; the Interweb might've exploded had Dallas taken Johnny Football.
8) While I'm on the subject, I am adamant that Manziel will be a better pro than Blake Bortles, who went to Jacksonville. He hung 42 points on Alabama, and that sticks in my head. I think Manziel is a lot like Fran Tarkenton-- my great friend Harry Handicapper says he is more like Archie Manning, but he's a basketball coach, so we take his word with a grain of salt. (Its a joke!!!)
7) Announcing trades as they happen adds to the draft; why the NBA refuses to do this baffles me.
6) Giants' draftee Odell Beckham Jr went to Newman HS in New Orleans, same school as his new QB, Eli Manning.
5) This was the first time in six years Alabama didn't have a player taken in the top ten of the draft.
4) Michael Irvin/Marshall Faulk both made it clear that David Carr's flop in Houston makes it difficult for the Texans to draft his brother tonight. Fresno State's Derek Carr is by far the best QB prospect left in the draft.
3) I think its easier for a rookie QB to break in with a team that also has a rookie head coach, which will help the Browns and Vikings.
2) Like the Buccaneers' new uniforms; wonder if Mike Glennon is surprised he is still Tampa Bay's QB-- there were ton of rumors that he was getting traded.
1) I'm thinking if the NFL did its schedule after the draft, Browns might've gotten an extra primetime game. Or two.
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) I enjoyed Mark Jackson’s work on ESPN; he made a great team with Jeff Van Gundy. Liked watching his Golden State Warriors play for the last three years, so I feel bad that he got fired after a 51-31 season, capping the Warriors’ best two-year run in 20 years. Lot of politics in NBA coaching; Jackson is 4th NBA coach in last two years to win 51+ games and get fired; none of the other three have been re-hired.
12) Golden State’s excuse is that they needed a different coach to “take them to the next level”; in other words, they don’t think Jackson is a good enough coach to win a championship. It’s the owner’s money, he can do what he wants, but not all change is positive change. Just ask the Denver Nuggets.
11) You wonder if religion had a role in Jackson’s firing; he is a real-life preacher; who knows what happened behind closed doors, but inference is that is was more off the court stuff than on the court that led to his dismissal. Its too bad.
10) Back when Billy Martin managed the A’s in 1980-81, I wondered about the same thing Golden State just did. Martin did a great job in 1980 getting the most out of what had been a moribund A’s team, but he abused the starting pitchers so badly (three different starters threw 14-inning complete games in ’80), the success was obviously not going to last.
Why not get rid of him and bring someone else in before all the pitchers got hurt? Martin was just trying to win enough games to get re-hired by the Bronx Bombers, which is what wound up happening; he was 3,000 miles away when Oakland’s pitching staff fell to pieces.
Martin was only going to bring those A’s so far; you can see, if not agree with, what the Warriors are thinking, but its on them if the team gets worse.
9) Lefty Alex Wood is getting no run support from the Braves; in his last four starts, Atlanta has been outscored 15-1. One run in four starts. Likewise out in San Diego, Padres were shut out in Andrew Cashner's last three starts.
8) Was reading this week that the crop of high school QBs in southern California this coming fall might be the best-ever in that area, which is saying something. Will be lot of stellar freshman QBs heading to college at this time next year.
7) Sign of the times: Guy I’m playing in fantasy baseball this week has a 4-1 record in our league, so he has one of the better teams. He has two shortstops on his team: Derek Jeter, Adeiny Hechevarria- he has Hechevarria in his lineup this week.
6) Former Cal football coach Jeff Tedford is the Buccaneers’ new OC; he was Aaron Rodgers’ college coach at Cal, so he knows QBs, is considered a guru of sorts. Interesting that the Bucs are rumored to be shopping Mike Glennon, which means they’re open to drafting a rookie QB. Wonder which one?
5) Former LSU QB Zach Mettenberger not only tore his ACL last November, he has a broken bone in one of his vertebrae which will need attention at some point, and could lead to his not even being drafted this week.
4) Dallas Cowboys have a pick in each of the first five rounds this week, then have six 7th round picks, which ain’t nothing, considering Tom Brady was a low 6th-round pick. That’s where your scouting department earns its money, with the third-day draft picks.
3) Damn, I’m getting old: this is the 20th anniversary of Marshall Faulk getting drafted. He played long enough ago that he played in a tie game in college, a San Diego State-BYU classic. There are no more tie games in college ball.
2) Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams would’ve turned 85 Wednesday; one of my boyhood heroes for leading the A’s to consecutive World Series titles. He led the Red Sox and Padres to World Series and the Montreal Expos to the ’81 playoffs. Just a tremendous manager.
1) When exactly did Steve Kerr become Red Auerbach? I like the guy, think he’s great on TV, seems a normal person for a celebrity, but now he’s getting mentioned for every NBA opening like he’s a combination of Pat Riley and Chuck Daly. Does Utah really think he would consider going there? Please.
Wednesday's List of 13: My mid-week musings........
13) It’s a pleasure to listen to Dick Enberg/Vin Scully on the Extra Innings package, Hubie Brown on NBA games, Brent Musburger on college games; these guys are all in their 70’s or 80’s, but they’re still excellent at what they do and bring great knowledge/enthusiasm to the airwaves.
I can only hope that if I live as long as they have, that I’ll be sharp and maintain my enthusiasm the way these giants of broadcasting have.
12) Chiefs’ 23rd pick in first round Thursday night is their only pick in the top 85 of the draft; now that’s pressure, to pick one guy to fill a need.
11) I read about a kid like Indiana WR Cody Latimer rising up in mock drafts at this late date and I get skeptical; the Hoosiers are horrible, though they do have a good offense (Kevin Wilson, their coach, was Sam Bradford’s OC at Oklahoma), but if you go until May 6 and then all of a sudden, this name starts popping up out of nowhere, well, where has that name been since February?
Haven’t been any games played since then; why the sudden surge in interest? Lot of good WRs this year; you want to take one early from Indiana? Best WR Indiana produced recently was Antwaan Randle-El, who started out as a QB.
10) Speaking of Indiana, is Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert hurt? He’s only averaging 3.8 ppg in his last twelve games and hasn’t scored in three of his last four games. Are there off-court issues? He’s been a good player; odd for him to just stop being productive at this late date.
9) They were able to get by the Hawks, but the Pacers don’t look like they enjoy being on the court together- they’re 4-4 in the playoffs and look like a staggering fighter who will get KO’d with one more good punch.
8) 63 SEC players were taken in LY’s NFL Draft, which is a lot- that’s 4.5 per team, in a 7-round draft.
7) Oregon governor John Kitzhaber used to be a ER doctor; his medical expertise helped save a woman this week when he performed CPR on her on a sidewalk. Must be gratifying to have saved someone’s life.
6) Padraig Harrington has fallen out of the top 200 in the World Golf Rankings for the first time since 1996.
5) AAA game between Las Vegas-Tacoma was suspended by rain late Sunday night, resumed Monday; the Tacoma starting pitcher, who had been taken out before the rain delays, was cut by the team Monday morning, which means he actually got cut during the game- that doesn’t happen much.
4) I’m a glutton for punishment reading these mock drafts, but one I saw had three Texas A&M players getting taken in the top 7 of the draft, which would keep Aggie coach Kevin Sumlin on the horn with recruits for next couple weeks, at least.
3) This will feel strange, when the Big 14 tournament comes to Washington DC in 2017, part of the package to lure Maryland to that league, no doubt—the ACC wouldn’t come to the Beltway very often. Just will look out of place when Michigan plays Ohio State in a conference tournament…..in Washington.
2) Over the last decade, Miami/Oklahoma have both produced 19 Pro Bowlers, most of any college; Texas is next, with 14.
1) If I’m starting a baseball team and have my choice of Pedroia/Cano, I’m taking Cano every day and twice on Sunday. He’s productive and durable and that’s all I care about. Seattle is getting hot now that they've got Iwakuma back in the rotation.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) In case you don’t think eliminating (or at least greatly reducing) PEDs in baseball has made a difference, check this out: in 2000, 17 of 30 major league teams scored 800+ runs for the season; last year, only the Red Sox scored 800+. In 2004, 37 guys hit 30+ homers; LY, 14 did. Hmmm.....
12) Ben Affleck has been banned from playing blackjack at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas; why? He was making too much money, and was suspected of card counting, which isn’t illegal, but casinos can banish you if they think you’re doing it. Affleck is married to Jennifer Garner, so he gets no sympathy here.
11) Starting in 2015-16, Big East/Big 14 will open basketball season against each other with a series of made-for-TV games, some to be shown on the Big 14 Network, some on Fox Sports1. It’ll get confusing when Rutgers plays in one of these games; which league will they be representing (Big 14, from now on).
10) In 14th inning Friday night, having already been taken out of the game, Rays’ OF David DeJesus was watching the game on the top step of the Tampa Bay dugout while eating an ice cream bar.
Looked like a Nestle Crunch bar. Never saw that before.
9) Jeff Samardzija threw 126 pitches on a cold night against the White Sox last night at Wrigley, which tells me two things.....
a) Cubs management really wanted to beat the White Sox (they didn't)
b) On August 1, Samardzija will be on another team; they're not protecting his arm at all- if he is a part of your future, Samardzija doesn't throw 126 pitches on May 5 in a rivalry game, but a game between non-contending teams. On a cold night. .
8) UConn got scared by rumors of the Lakers’ interest in Kevin Ollie, and all of a sudden wants to double his $1.25M salary. This is where a reporter can do a coach a huge favor; plant some bogus rumor like that, and all of a sudden the coach hits the lottery. Maybe the Lakers really are interested; maybe they’re not, but Ollie’s bank account is going to get fatter pretty soon.
7) Speaking of which, Wes Welker won some cash on the Kentucky Derby in Louisville Saturday; he was so happy about it, he started handing out $100 bills to random strangers, before cops stopped him from inciting a stampede. Must be nice to be rich.
6) Did you know that Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn?
5) I’d love an NFL team to draft a QB then say, “We’re not going to play Player A for a year or two, so he can learn by watching, then step in and play when he is good and ready." Eli Manning sat behind Kurt Warner for 6-7 games as a rookie, but since Ryan/Flacco in 2008, patience and development have been abandoned- it hurts the player involved and the team. Nothing wrong with letting a kid observe and learn.
4) I wish I was making this up: The guy who wore the Mr Met costume in 1994 has written a book. Seriously. “Yes Its Hot In Here” is the name of the book. No I have not read it. Hard to believe its that good a book, but then again, its got to be better than Kenny Mayne’s book was and I wasted $26 on that, so there……..
3) Oregon PG Dominic Artis has left the Ducks, will transfer with two years left to play; he has a terrific freshman season, but his second year was marred by injury, off-court issues-- he got buried on the Oregon bench. He’ll help some team, starting in the fall of 2015.
2) Oregon State sacked basketball coach Craig Robinson, paying him $4M to go away; the President’s brother-in-law didn’t get the Beavers to the NCAAs in six years in Corvallis, and with no returning starters, this coming season didn’t look to be much better. President Obama only makes $400,000 a year; Robinson got $4M to go away. Go figure.
1) If I’m the Oregon State AD, I’m hiring Eric Musselman as head coach; he has NBA head coaching experience and knows the Pac-12, having been an assistant at Arizona State up until last month. That said, it appears that Ben Howland is the guy Oregon State is targeting- he has coached in three Final Fours. .
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Higher-seeded team wins 74.4% of NBA playoff series, 64.9% in NHL, 56% in baseball. NBA would benefit from shorter playoff series.
12) Tommy John is selling a collage of MRI's from his now-famous left elbow; for only $1,295, you can have one of the 99 copies he is selling. Proceeds go to his chaitable foundation. Do collectors buy stuff like this?
11) Soldier in a blue uniform (not sure what branch of service) played God Bless America on a trumpet during the 7th inning stretch at Coors Field Sunday; just a tremendous job, very stirring. Reminded me that the Cowboys used to have a guy named Tommy Loy who played the national anthem on his trumpet before Dallas home games all during the 70's.
10) NFL Draft is much closer (eight weeks) to the start of training camp than it is from the end of last regular season; this doesn't seem right, doesn't seem fair to the kids getting drafted, who need time to learn the pro game.
My suggestion would be the weekend after The Masters, to maximize exposure.
9) Shouldn't every major league manager know how to speak Spanish? How do you go through a season without being able to talk to all of your players?
8) Speaking of managers, Bruce Bochy is most underrated manager in baseball; Giants are 20-11 with a team no one thought would contend with the big-money Dodgers- they're 2.5 games ahead of them right now. Don't forget, Bochy took the Padres to the World Series too- that might have been his best managing job..
7) San Diego should go back to the brown/gold caps they used to wear- they were lot nicer, as were the white jerseys with brown/gold trim that Dave Winfield, Randy Jones wore back in the day. Just my opinion, but I'm right.......lol
6) CC Sabathia is 3-4, 5.98 this season, 0-3, 7.74 at home. Uh-oh.
5) Bronx Bombers have a weird roster; they've got 10 guys who make $12M+, and 12 guys who make $3M or less, a pittance in the big leagues. Hard to have real good team chemistry when you almost have two different teams on your roster.
4) Southern Mississippi hired former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler,who used to coach in Conference USA at UTEP. Sadler was an assistant at Iowa State this past year. Golden Eagles won 56 games last two years without making NCAAs either year.
3) Oakland A's are 17-2 when Gray/Kazmir/Chavez pitch, 2-10 when someone else does; the other starters are replacements for Parker/Griffin, who already had Tommy John surgery this spring. Same issue the Rays are having-- not a big margin for error with the small market teams-- have to stay healthy.
2) Not sure why the Rockies gave Troy Tulowitzki Sunday off; Colorado is off to a good start and they had a big crowd Sunday. People pay to see the team's stars play-- you want to script his days off, give him days off on the road.
1) 22 of the 30 major league teams are within five games of .500.
Sunday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) I miscounted the bowls earlier this week; there will be 38 bowls, plus the new national title game, meaning 76 of 125 eligible teams will go bowling. UNLV, Penn State and Idaho are ineligible for bowl games this coming season.
12) Maryland’s basketball team has five freshmen coming in this fall, but they’ve also lost four transfers since last season ended, as they venture into the Big 14 for the first time. I still wonder if coach Mark Turgeon would’ve left Texas A&M for Maryland had he known the Terps were bolting the ACC.
11) If I was making out a major league lineup card, I’d always want my three best hitters batting 1-3, since they get the most at-bats, especially in the AL, where a position player bats ninth. Not fond of putting a lesser hitter at #2, so he can get better pitches to hit, hitting in front of the best hitter, who usually hits third. Stat mavens are arguing the best hitter should bat second. As long as the best guy bats in the first inning, to put immediate pressure on the pitcher, I’m good with that.
10) Tampa Bay starting pitchers lasted past the 6th inning twice in their last 19 games, which if it continues, will burn their bullpen out before football season starts. Grant Balfour has already thrown two innings in two games, which he never did in Oakland.
9) If I lived in Chicago, I’d be at Wrigley Field for every Friday afternoon home game; what better way to start the weekend?
8) Met starting pitchers should definitely bat ninth; they’re 0-47 this season, the worst hitting start of a season by any pitching staff since 1900.
7) In their long history, the Hawks are now 0-9 in Game 7’s that were played on the road; Atlanta was only sixth #8 seed ever to get to a Game 7, but that doesn't mean much if you don't win that seventh game
6) Lakers leaked an odd set of names as coaching possibilities; Thibodeau, Calipari, Kevin Ollie. I’m thinking Thibodeau isn’t Showtime-enough for the LA crowd. The basketball scene in LA is chaotic, with the Clippers’ mess and the Lakers in transition.
5) I'm not in favor of the Warriors firing Mark Jackson, but if they do, and all the TV types seem to think they will, how about Mike D’Antoni moving to Oakland while Jackson replaces Steve Kerr at TNT? That makes some sense; D’Antoni’s system with Curry/Thompson would be excellent.
4) Vendors at the Kentucky Derby are charging $8 for a Bud Light. One beer, not a six-pack. Sounds like the prices at Saratoga here in the summer.
3) Kansas PG Naadir Tharpe is transferring, with one year left to play, which leads us to…….
2) Kansas signing point guard recruit Ahmaad Rorie to take Tharpe’s place. Guess Mr Tharpe didn’t want to spend his senior year sharing the position with a freshman.
1) Read an article about how Doc Rivers had to spend a morning this week with non-basketball employees of the Clippers (salespeople, administrative staff), who were distraught and angry by events that were taking money out of their pockets, as lot of those sales people probably work at least partly on commission.
Hopefully the NBA can rid itself of Donald Sterling soon, and a franchise that has finally come of the NBA's best teams can provide a positive experience for fans.
Quick story you may already know: 10-12 years ago, a Clippers' assistant coach named Kim Hughes (he works for Portland now) had prostate cancer. Sterling would not pay for his medical coverage, saying, "If I do it for you, I have to do it for everyone." Four Clipper players chipped in to pay the $70,000 tab.
Saturday's Den: DDLohaus analyzes the Kentucky Derby
Happy Spring Everyone!
I went through all my data and charts and narrowed my selections to the following four horses…listen, California Chrome checks all the boxes and is a legit favorite but there is no way I will take short odds in this race…with that said I am going to get right to it…
Samraat: Honest horse who really hasn’t done anything wrong; last showed his grit; home track (Aqu) and distance a bit of a question but I think this guy is worth a play…
Wildcat Red: Like his breeding and think he will be OK stretching out; ran second to Constitution who would be a solid contender here; must admit I am puzzled by all the rider changes but I am willing to give him a shot
Chitu: Has been handling the added distance each race without issue and I think he will use his speed to get position and get first run turning for home
Tapiture: Willing to throw out last and just missed against a potential winner (Hopportunity). Has won here before.
$5 WPS Tapiture/Wildcard Red
$2ExBX Chitu/Samraat/Tapiture/Wildcard Red
$1TriBX Chitu/Samraat/Tapiture/Wildcat Red
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here......
13) Most surprising to me about baseball’s instant replay isa lack of clarity of when the first baseman actually has the ball on close plays on ground balls. Never dawned on me that this would become an issue, but I think everyone is getting the hang of it and there have been less screw-ups the last week or so, at least in the games I’ve watched, and I watch a lot of them.
12) That said, I’m not a fan of the manager walking out to the ump to stall for time as his henchmen decide whether to challenge the call. Seems like an NFL-like flag system would be better, but that’s just me. I am not missing manager/umpire arguments- never thought they added anything to the game, other than a chance for losing managers to vent their frustrations at a stationary target.
11) Jon Gruden was very, very enthusiastic about Fresno State’s Derek Carr as a QB prospect, much moreso than Johnny Manziel. Have to read between the lines a little; listen to what he said to Carr, then what he didn’t say to Manziel.
10) Tremendous college hoop tournament in Brooklyn Thanksgiving week this fall; VCU, Michigan, Villanova, Oregon. Two excellent twinbills there.
9) I’m little concerned for Jameis Winston; he dodged a bullet last fall with the sexual assault incident not becoming a major problem, now he gets busted shoplifting crab legs. By itself, no big deal, but at this time last year, no one knew who he was; now he has two brushes with the law. That’s a red flag; maybe its nothing, but he needs to keep his nose clean, or this could wind up being a sad story. We’ve had enough of those lately.
8) Last bigtime basketball recruit of this year’s class was Myles Turner; he signs with Texas, pushing Rick Barnes’ team back into the preseason top 25.
7) No easy way to get from Calgary to Glens Falls, NY, but that’s where the Flames are supposedly moving their AHL farm club to. Glens Falls has a 6,500-seat arena that is excellent for minor league hockey; it is Jimmer Fredette’s hometown and 45 miles north of Armadillo World HQ. Devils have a farm team in Albany, so that’s a natural rivalry right there.
6) Had no idea there is a statue of Mary Tyler Moore in downtown Minneapolis, throwing her hat in the air like she did at the start of every Mary Tyler Moore Show back in the 70’s. Pretty cool.
5) CJ Wilson is invaluable to an Angel team that lacks pitching depth; in his first six starts, Wilson threw 114-120-116-111-111-117 pitches. He gets deep in games, taking the strain off a shaky bullpen.
4) Over the last 145 years that people have kept track of this stuff, Wednesday was the 10th-rainiest day in history of NYC’s Central Park. That’s a lot of rain.
3) Brad Underwood is staying at Stephen F Austin; he turned down a couple of C-USA jobs, at Southern Miss/Marshall. Will be interested to see how long he stays at SFA, whether they’re moving up to a better league or if he is just waiting for a higher-profile team than one in C-USA to hire him.
2) Atlanta Braves have been shut out the last three times Alex Wood pitched. I’ll say this about the NL East; no easy outs there right now, except maybe when Miami is on the road. Marlins are playing really well at home.
1) MGM Grand is building a 20,000-seat sports arena in Las Vegas; do they think they can get an NBA or NHL team? I don’t know if they can or can’t, but it would be very interesting if they did. Utah Jazz played some home games in Vegas in the 80’s, before the Malone/Stockton days.
Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
Golden State has improved a lot since Mark Jackson has been coach (98-66 in last two seasons), but there have been rumors that unless the Warriors go deep into this spring’s playoffs, he’ll be out as Golden State’s coach.
Politics are a funny thing. My question is this; with all the dysfunction the Clippers are having, even if the Warriors advanced past this round, would ownership give Jackson credit for the wins, or just write it off as LA having its own internal issues? And if the Clippers advance, would they really sack a coach who has raised their level of achievement higher than its been since the early 90’s?
12) Donald Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5M; now he’s likely to get a billion when the NBA finally pushes him out of their inner circle. The $2.5M fine doesn’t seem that big anymore, does it?
11) Speaking of which, I got my calculator out this week, and figured out that fining Sterling $2.5M is the same as fining me $1,579.95. I’d be annoyed about it, but I could afford it.
10) Rumor Wednesday is that music mogul Joel Geffen, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Oprah Winfrey could band together to buy the Clippers- they’re all worth a lot of money. You know they're going to bust Sterling's balls by having a minority own what used to be his basketball team.
9) All of this BS is overshadowing an excellent playoff first round; the last four Thunder-Grizzlies games have gone OT, first time two teams played four OT games in a row in the playoffs. Ever.
8) Pretty soon, Knicks will announce Steve Kerr as their new head coach, and the New York media will forget all about the Clippers and Donald Sterling. Lakers will be hiring a new coach, and the LA media will forget too. Which is pretty much what the league wants, for this Clipper mess to go away.
7) Pensacola, FL had 5.68 inches of rain Tuesday, in one freakin’ hour. That would be like standing in an outdoor shower for an hour.
6) Over next four years, Dodgers owe Andre Ethier/Carl Crawford a combined $151.25M. Oy. Both are 32, neither plays a lot against lefties.
5) If you care about such things, underdogs are 26-9-1 against the spread so far in the NBA playoffs.
4) Best wishes to Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay, 41, who had a heart attack this week. 41 is too young for that stuff. Get well soon.
3) Jets’ draft preparation involved visits to 263 colleges and 3,500 written player evaluations. That’s a lot of legwork to make seven selections, and then sign some free agents. By way of reference, there are 128 I-A college teams, so if they visited every one, and it is doubtful they went to the service academies, then they went to 138 non-I-A colleges, many of whom probably have one or two NFL prospects.
2) White Sox pitcher Hector Noesi toed the slab for three different AL teams (Texas-Seattle-Chicago) just in the month of April; hard to believe that’s ever been done before.
1) Maryland transfer Nick Faust committed to play at Oregon State; he can play his last year of college ball there in 2015-16. Question is, will Craig Robinson still be his coach then? Beavers haven’t been over .500 in Pac-12 play in six years under Robinson. Would a 7th sub-par year send the President’s brother-in-law packing? .
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Am guessing Adam Silver didn’t envision himself overshadowing the NBA playoffs in his first spring as Commissioner, but that’s what happened Tuesday at 2pm, when Silver put the hammer down on Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling.
Silver did an effective job diffusing an explosive situation. This kind of competence is what happens when you put a tall, bald man with glasses in charge. Ha!!!!
12) The NBA is going nuts; Warriors fired an assistant coach because he was secretly taping coaches’ conversations with his cellphone, whether the conversations were amongst themselves or with players. No one is saying why he was taping them, whether he was writing a book or spying for the front office, but the taping was discovering and the assistant coach got the boot.
11) If the guy has trouble finding a job, he should know Washington ($9.32/hour) has the highest minimum wage in the country; Wyoming/Georgia ($5.15) have the lowest. People who spy on co-workers can have trouble finding new jobs.
10) Portland Trailblazers scored 473 points (118.3 ppg) in their first four playoff games, most by any team since Celtics scored 480 in their first four games in 1990.
9) UNLV offered Charles O’Bannon Jr a scholarship this week; young man goes to Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, but is only in 9th grade. His dad and uncle both played for UCLA.
8) Greedy bastard update: BP Oil Company made a $3.2B profit in first quarter of 2014, Shell made $4.47B and both of those figures are less than those companies made in the first quarter of 2013. Oy.
7) Dodgers have a 2-8 record in games where the winning run scored from the 7th inning on; Giants are 7-1 in games like that.
6) Alabama/Florida are obviously both in the SEC, but since 1992, have met in the regular season only six times, which has the folks at LSU a little annoyed. LSU plays the Gators most every year, which doesn’t seem fair to the Bayou Bengals.
5) Cleveland Browns will have Vince Young in for a tryout soon; Browns only have one QB signed, and Brian Hoyer blew his knee out early last season. Looks like either Young or Tyler Thigpen will win an invitation to training camp. .
4) In some parts of Texas, speed limit is 85. Just thought you’d like to know.
3) Gary Smith is one of our country’s great writers; he is retiring from Sports Illustrated after a tremendous career. Long time ago, before Jim Mora coached the Saints, Smith wrote a history of the Saints’ franchise, which at that time had been nothing but dismal failure—it was very funny but accurate. Think he worked for Sport Magazine back then. Mr Smith will be missed.
2) Saw on the ESPN crawl Monday night than BYU already committed to play an AAC team in some bowl game in Miami in December.
#1—How does this help BYU’s season, motivation-wise, since their kids already know what bowl they’re going to?
#2—BYU has to win six games, or the deal is off- they have similar deals for the Poinsettia Bowl in both 2016/2018.
1) At the end of the day Tuesday, it was good to see the focus back on games and away from politics and public outcries. Justice has been served, but Donald Sterling will still reap a fortune when he sells the Clippers. Just as long as he goes away.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) I deferred to my friend John for this question, since I wasn’t sure if my personal bias had tinted my opinion: who is the best shortstop of all-time? John is a wiser man than I, has seen more than I have. His answer: “ARod was the best since I’ve been alive in combining offense and defense.”John views shortstop as an 80-20 split between defense/offense, so he also mentioned Ozzie Smith/Omar Vizquel. There you have it, an opinion from a baseball scholar.
12) We listed down below how Rod Carew’s 29 bunt hits in 1974 helped his batting average; John points out that a stellar defender like Ozzie Smith or nowadays, Nolan Arenado at third base will rob hitters of more than one hit a week, so what is their value to a pitching staff and a team? One key play can bail a pitcher out of a jam, give him momentum; the effect can be hard to quantify.
11) Quirk to NFL schedule this season: no AFC teams on Thanksgiving Day. Bears-Lions will be the CBS game. Another quirk: 49ers can’t host a night game on a weeknight this year, unless it is a holiday, because powers-that-be in Santa Clara, where their new stadium is, don’t know how that would affect traffic. Apparently it’s a one-year thing.
10) If Oklahoma City goes on to win the NBA title, the 3-ball Reggie Jackson hit in Game 4, when Thunder was down 5 with about a minute left, that could very well be the turning point in their season. Huge shot.
9) A’s Brandon Moss got hit by a pitch twice in the 9th inning Friday; last time that happened was June 8, 2012, when David DeJesus got hit twice in the 7th inning of a game.
8) Clippers didn't practice Monday, the day before Game 5 of a playoff serries that is tied 2-2. How is this acceptable? Everyone knows Donald Sterling is a racist scumbag, we get it. Despite that, coaches/players are paid millions to compete and play basketball for people who pay a lot of money to watch them. Its their job.
So the NBA will suspend Sterling Tuesday, as Adam Silver does his job, but who on the Clippers is doing theirs? Players should be selfish and play for each other, for the chance to win a championship. Laying down this week serves no purpose.
7) There are 40 bowl games now, counting the national title game? That means 78 of 128 I-A teams are in a bowl? I like watching these games, but bowls are supposed to be a reward. Teams that finish under .500 don’t deserve a reward.
6) Atlanta’s Alex Wood is 1-3 in his last four starts, but losses were 2-1/1-0/1-0; he’s allowed five runs in his last 28 IP, so he’s pitching really well, just not getting any run support.
5) My hometown of Albany isn’t the most exciting place, but the Denny’s on Wolf Road can be entertaining at 5am on a Saturday night. I go there sometimes after I finish writing; always good for a laugh. Usually one table (not me) tries to bolt their check, the police come, and there is a lot of screaming. They actually have two security guards working there on weekends. Good stuff.
4) Cure Auto Insurance is running commercials with Michael Vick as its spokesman. Not sure who advised them this was a good strategy, but would you buy insurance based on what Michael Vick said?
3) Saw the Jon Gruden/Johnny Manziel QB camp thing on ESPN. Manziel lit up when asked about calling line protections; at Texas A&M, the center does it, but obviously, Johnny Football would’ve liked to do it. Interesting bit of TV.
2) Rod Carew had 29 bunt singles in 1974, when he batted .364 in 599 AB’s. Without those 29 bunt hits, he’s a .316 hitter that year, so as Kevin Costner said in Bull Durham, adding one hit a week to your batting average is worth around 45-50 points to your batting average.
1) RIP, Dr Jack Ramsay, who coached the Portland Trailblazers to their only NBA title, in 1977. Sharp guy, was an avid runner. He ran a triathlon when he was 70. years old. 70. Learned a lot from listening to him work games on the radio/TV after his coaching days were done. Thanks, coach.
Monday's List of 16: Going thru NFC schedules..........
Arizona-- Play 11 of 16 games in domes, with opener and two of last three at night. Have one division game in first half of season; finish with three in row. Week 4 bye is too early, Play consecutive road games only once-- this is a really good schedule.
Atlanta-- All three divisional road games are in second half of season; they open at home, finish at home, have only two night games one of which is hideous Monday night game at Lambeau, on Dec 8. Week 8 game in London is on at 9:30am ET. Oy.
Carolina-- Cam Newton gets them three night games, including home games with Steelers/Saints. Play outdoors at Vikings Nov 30, but last two away games are both in domes. Week 12 bye is late but if they're contending, That could be a big help.
Chicago-- First two road games, 49ers/Giants in Weeks 2-3 are both on road; also play consecutive primetime games at home in December, not great for people who buy tickets to games. Old friend Lovie Smith's Bucs come to town in Week 12.
Dallas-- Most overrated franchise in sports is in primetime five times, plus annual Thanksgiving Day game; they're going to freeze late in season, four of last six games are in potential wintry weather. Home five out of six weeks from Weeks 4-9.
Detroit-- Week 1 Monday night home opener with Giants, Week 8 game in London; host Bears on Thanksgiving, but close with cold weather games at Bears/Packers. If my favorite team hired Jim Caldwell as coach, I'd just be a grumpy middle aged man, and it would depress me to look at their schedule.
Green Bay-- Start with three road games in first four weeks; three of their five night games are at home. Have five of last eight games at home, plsu outdoor games in cold weather (Vikings/Bills)- they're going to have a very cold second half this season.
Minnesota-- They're playing home games outdoors this year/next; two road games in December are in Detroit's dome/Miami. Only one night game, Week 5 at Lambeau on a Thursday. Don't play Chicago until Week 11, then again in season finale.
New Orleans-- Play three of first four games, three of last five games on road, with a nasty Week 15 Monday night game in Chicago. Have three in row at home Weeks 10-12, Four of their first six games are against teams with new coaches this season.
Giants-- First three road games are in primetime: Lions-Redskins-Eagles- their three divisional home games are in last six weeks. Have Week 8 bye, which is good, but in first three games after that bye, they play Colts-Seahawks-49ers. Not good.
Philadelphia-- Close season with three divisional games, last two on road- their games vs Dallas are two weeks apart, weeks 13-15. Three of four night games are at home-- their two games with old friend DeSean Jackson/Redskins are in weeks 3-16.
Rams-- Two night games, both at home; their first two games are vs teams with new coaches. One of four teams to play three straight road games; weeks 8-10, at Chiefs, 49ers-Cardinals. Meet old friend RGIII Week 14 in Maryland- they will have finally used all the draft picks they got for trading Griffin to the Redskins.
San Francisco-- Don't leave west coast after Week 11; have consecutive primetime night games in Weeks 6-7 (Rams/Broncos), then play Rams again in Week 9. Have a Thanksgiving night game with Seattle in their new stadium, then visit Seahawks two weeks later. They only have one trip to eastern time zone.
Seattle-- Three of four primetime games are on road; NFL said it is because Seattle has beaten teams so badly in primetime home games, TV ratings were low, and that isn't acceptable. Five of their six divisional games are in last six weeks of season.
Tampa Bay-- Finally have competent head coach after Morris/Schiano-- they open and close with two home games, but are on road three weeks in row (weeks 3-5) and four times in five weeks from weeks 11-15. Only three games on artificial turf are all in domes- their two December road games are Detroit's dome/Carolina.
Washington-- Play three night games in five-week stretch (weeks 5-8); finish with three divisional games, last two at home. Week 3 visit to Philly with be good theater, with DeSean Jackson facing old team. Jay Gruden is a rookie NFL head coach, but he was a head coach for several years in the Arena League.
Sunday's List of 16: Going thru AFC schedules.........
Baltimore-- First three games are vs divisional rivals; have only one home game in October. Week 11 bye is late; both Steeler games are in primetime, two of their three night games, other one being at New Orleans, where they won Super Bowl 47.
Buffalo-- Have only one December home game; league did Miami/San Diego a favor and sent them to Buffalo in September. Bills' visit to Miami is a night game, their one road game in November. Bye is in Week 9, good place for it.
Cincinnati-- Team with two new coordinators opens with its division rival Ravens; they don't play Steelers until Week 14. Week 4 bye is very early; they're one of four teams with three straight road games: Saints-Texans-Bucs in weeks 11-13.
Cleveland-- Play Steelers twice in first six weeks, with early Week 4 bye stuck in middle there. Play four of last six games on road- their only night game is Week 10 in Cincinnati. "New" Browns have still only opened 1-0 once in fifteen years.
Denver-- Three of first seven games are at night, as are two of last five; Week 4 bye is very early. Have three straight road games (Pats-Raiders-Rams) in weeks 9-11. Manning plays his old team in opener. Super bowl losers have struggled in openers the next season, though 49ers bucked that trend last year.
Texans-- Visit old friend Matt Schaub in Oakland in Week 2; open at home, also got last two games at home. Play only one division game in first seven weeks. Week 10 bye is in a good place. Two games with Jacksonville are in weeks 14-17.
Colts-- First two games (@ Denver, vs Philly) are in primetime; have only one road game in November, but play three of last four on road. Week 6 Thursday game down in Houston will be tough spot, after hosting Ravens. Have chance to avenge loss to Patriots in playoffs when New England visits in Week 11.
Jaguars-- Play three of first four games on road, but two of last three road games are in domes; only possible cold weather game is Week 15 in Baltimore. Have a Week 16 Thursday night home game with Titans-- good night to go Christmas shopping??
Chiefs-- Play all three divisional road games before any of the three home games; Week 12 Thursday night game at Oakland is tough spot, tucked in between games with LY's Super Bowl teams. Play Broncos-Patriots-49ers in Weeks 2-4-5- tough.
Dolphins-- Play three of last four at home, but have three potential cold weather games, at Denver-Jets-Patriots in weeks 12-13-15, with visit to Swamp a Monday tilt on Dec 1st. Week 5 bye is early-- they open season with Patriots/Bills, but do not play Jets until weeks 13-17.
Patriots-- Play three of first four on road, have post-Thanksgiving trips to Green Bay-Jersey- they could freeze in five of last six games. Both their short week games are at home, which helps. Week 10 bye is in good place, in between tough games vs Denver/Indianapolis.
Jets-- Three of first four at home, three of last four on road, with Dec 7 visit to Minnesota, which is playing home games outdoors now. Go to Foxboro on a short week in Week 7 for Thursday game- both their Monday night games are at home.
Raiders-- Come to Jersey/Foxboro in first three weeks, then Cleveland in Week 8; their only night game is Thursday night home game in Week 12 with Chiefs. Week 5 bye is early; their home opener is with Houston, Matt Schaub's old employers.
Steelers-- Open at home, also play last two games at home, but in weeks 2-6, are on road four times in five weeks, with weeks 2-3 consecutive primetime road games, at Ravens/Panthers. Don't play Bengals until weeks 14-17, also play Saints, Chiefs and Falcons in last five weeks, very tough closing stretch.
Chargers-- Last five games: Ravens-Pats-Denver-49ers-Chiefs. Open on road and have last two games on road. Week 10 bye is ideal- they open season with couple of NFC West teams, but catch Seattle in Week 2, coming off long week after Thursday opener that Super Bowl champ almost always hosts.
Titans-- Host Jets/Giants on consecutive December Sundays; odd. Play three of four on road to open season; home opener is rare visit by Dallas. Writeups like this are harder to do for teams that were bad the year before; lot less quirks in schedules of teams not perceived to be contenders.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.........
13) Here is a case of a team being penalized for playing too well. Read on the Interweb this week that the NFL gave the Seahawks only one primetime home game this season because Seattle has been winning night games at home by too wide a margin, creating one-sided contests that deliver lousy TV ratings- make no mistake about it, the schedule is designed to deliver maximum TV ratings- that’s where the big bucks are.
12) Last February, Houston Astros traded Jed Lowrie to the A’s for Chris Carter, a one-sided deal for the A’s so far; no one has said anything, but apparently Lowrie and the Astros have some issues.
Last Friday, with A’s having scored seven runs in first inning, Lowrie bunted for a hit against a shift Houston put on, in his second AB of the first inning. This ticked off Astro manager Bo Porter bigtime- they threw at Lowrie later that game; Porter and Jose Altuve had words with Lowrie, and then two nights ago, Paul Clemens threw behind Lowrie again— whenever a big-league pitcher throws behind a hitter, there is intent.
11) The question becomes, when do you call off the dogs when playing a game with no clock? Lowrie bunted when it was 7-0, which is normally taboo, but it was still the first inning—that game wound up getting a close as 8-3 in the fifth.
If a team is going to shift to prevent you from getting hits, is it wrong to try and beat the shift? I would defer to those who play/played; Astro announcers spent the latter part of Thursday’s game debating those points and never got to a conclusion. Add in the fact that Lowrie and some Astros may not be best buddies and you have a potential problem, and it didn't cool down Friday night.
Houston hit Brandon Moss twice in the ninth inning, as Oakland again scored seven runs to take over a close game, then Fernando Abad drilled Jason Castro in the bottom of the ninth. There might be a fracas before this all goes away.
10) To me, Bobby Bowden said it best about running up scores, when his Seminoles were at the peak of their explosive power: “Its not my job to hold the score down, its their (other team’s) job.” Amen.
In a couple years, the Astros will be better, they’ll fire Porter and bring in a better manager and they won’t have to worry about getting scores run up on them.
9) San Diego manager Bud Black got creative late in his game at Washington Thursday night; his LF got hurt batting in the 11th inning; he could’ve double-switched, but he wanted to leave his pitcher in for one more hitter, so he used his ace starter Andrew Cashner in LF for one batter, then double-switched and brought in a lefty.
I call it creative; had Cashner gotten hurt, I’d be calling for his damn job, since Cashner is the best pitcher on my fantasy team. With so few bench players available to managers, stuff like this is happening more and more. Still think they should eliminate the DH and create 27-man major league rosters, but that’s just me.
8) World Cup soccer tournament takes a whole month? Media people covering it have to go to Brazil for that long? Long time to spend on a different continent.
7) Golfer Ben Martin was -13 on his first 21 holes at Zurich tournament in New Orleans; I couldn’t go -13 at mini-golf. Windmill holes give me too much trouble.
6) Michigan forward Mitch McGary flunked a drug test during the NCAAs, was going to be suspended for a year, so he just went pro, even though he didn’t play much last season. NCAA reduced the penalty for testing positive two weeks after McGary flunked his test, but they didn't grandfather him in to the lighter sentence, which was a mistake. The NCAA is good at making itself look bad.
5) Peter Gammons had a great stat Friday; nine teams have stranded 15+ runners in a game; eight of those nine teams won that game. I was surprised by that.
4) Has to be difficult for ballplayers who aren’t from this country; Michael Pineda doesn’t have a translator. Why doesn’t he? The Asian players all have translators. The team should provide translators for players; wouldn’t that help the player play better? Shouldn't teams make their players as comfortable as possible?
3) Domantos Sabonis will be playing for Gonzaga next year; his dad is Arvydas Sabonis, maybe the best basketball player no one saw until the very end of his career, when he played for Portland after injuring his Achilles. If this kid is anything like his dad as a player, Gonzaga has a player on its hands.
2) One of the better new college hoop names next year is a kid Michigan State recruited from the Bahamas: Lowrawls Naien. Not much doubt who the parents’ favorite singer is.
1) Back to Michael Pineda for a second; he got suspended for 10 days, but with pay; where is the penalty there? He got a 10-day paid vacation for being caught cheating. That penalizes the team more than the player; then again, maybe that’s their intent, to make teams police this kind of stuff.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here..........
13) Rookie umpire Tom Woodring worked his first game behind the plate in the major leagues Wednesday, the day the Cubs celebrated 100th birthday of Wrigley Field. Throwback uniforms, tons of celebrities on hand and a five-run Arizona 9th inning. I’m pretty sure he’ll never forget it.
12) When Cubs scored three runs in bottom of 5th inning of that game, it was first time in Jeff Samardzija’s five starts that Chicago scored in the first five innings.
11) Dodgers are 26-7 in Zach Greinke’s last 33 starts, so at least he’s earning whatever ridiculously high salary they’re paying him.
10) Does Coors Field intimidate opposing pitchers? Colorado scored in the first inning in seven of its 12 home games, only three of eleven road games.
9) Another argument for best-of-5 being a better format for the NBA; lower-seeded teams in NBA playoffs who win first two series games on the road have gone on to win 24 of those 27 series. All teams who went up 2-0 in an NBA series have won 215 of 228 series.
8) Minnesota beat the Rays 6-4 in 12 innings Wednesday; Tampa pitchers threw 233 pitches, Twin pitchers 182. 51 extra pitches is a lot in one game, even an extra inning game—adds lot of stress to the bullpen, especially when starter Odorizzi only lasted 3.1 innings.
Yesterday, Twin pitchers threw 149 pitches, Rays' pitchers 206.
7) After the Packer-Seahawk Thursday night opener, the next 11 NFL Thursday night games are all divisional rivalries. Makes it easier on coaches; you’re more familiar with division rivals, takes less prep time to get ready and obviously, you have less prep time with a Thursday game.
6) New Orleans Saints don’t play a team that was in last year’s playoffs until Week 8, so they’ll be expected to get off to a fast start. Teams will improve/regress from last year, which is part of what makes the NFL great, so you can’t say their schedule is “easy”, but at first glance, they’ve got an opportunity early to pile up some wins.
5) How much different, if any, would the schedule be if they did the draft before the schedule came out? For instance, if the Jaguars draft Johnny Manziel, would they have gotten an extra primetime game?
No way of knowing, but an interesting question.
4) SF Austin basketball coach Brad Underwood turned down the Marshall job; when a Southland coach turns down a C-USA job, that’s a slap in the face. Marshall then hired Dan D'Antoni, Mike's brother, who is 66. Not an exciting hire.
3) Georgetown transfer Moses Ayegba will surface at Nebraska, as Tim Miles’ rising program gets its name mentioned more and more. Young man had academic problems last year, should help the Cornhuskers.
2) Portland Trailblazers’ owner Paul Allen was Bill Gates’ partner at Microsoft, so no surprise Portland players have IPads on the bench during games, to watch replays and study their opponents. Technology can be our friend.
1) Golden State Warriors will be moving across the bay to a new arena in San Francisco in 2019, and will go back to being called the San Francisco Warriors, like they were when they played home games in the old Cow Palace.
Wonder how many of their fans they’ll retain? Not sure how much that change would effect their fanbase.
Thursday's List of 13: Initial thoughts on the NFL schedule
13) Green Bay at Seattle is the Thursday night opener; there are only two 4:25 Sunday games in Week 1, but there is a Monday night doubleheader, Giants-Lions and Chargers-Cardinals.
12) There is a Saturday doubleheader in Week 16, first one of those in a while; they have Eagles-Redskins, Chargers-49ers that day. Am little surprised that neither Eagle-Redskin game made it to primetime, with the DeSean Jackson drama.
11) Four teams have three consecutive road games: Bengals-Rams-Broncos-Bucs.
10) First of Denver's three straight road games in November 2 at New England.
9) Dallas Cowboys have December dates at Chicago/Philly, cold weather games, not the best situation for a dome team.
8) Week 3, Denver at Seattle, an early Super Bowl rematch.
7) Thanksgiving tripleheader:
6) One big change is that the league can flex the Sunday night games now, starting in Week 5, to give more attractive primetime matchups.
5) Six teams are scheduled to play three Sunday nights each, though that could change; still don't get NBC's fascination with the Cowboys- they're not good, but now that they can flex out of games starting in Week 5, the schedule can change.
4) Minnesota Vikings are on outdoor team for the next two years; six of their last eight games are either at home or in Chicago, so they're going to freeze in the second half of season- other two second half games are at Miami and in Detroit's dome.
3) All Week 17 matchups are divisional games, all are on Sunday.
2) We have all the Week 1 matchups just below this, but Colts-Broncos stands out as the best matchup; only three home underdogs in Week 1.
1) Pointspreads from LVH for Week 1 of the NFL season.........
Green Bay @ Seattle (-5)
Oakland @ NJ Jets (-4.5)
New Orleans @ Atlanta (-2)
Minnesota @ St Louis (-5)
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-5)
Jacksonville @ Philadelphia (-11)
Cincinnati @ Baltimore (-2.5)
Buffalo @ Chicago (-6.5)
Washington @ Houston (-2.5)
Tennessee @ Kansas City (-5.5)
New England (-3.5) @ Miami
Carolina (-2.5) @ Tampa Bay
San Francisco (-3.5) @ Dallas
Indianapolis @ Denver (-7)
NJ Giants @ Detroit (-4)
San Diego @ Arizona (-3.5)
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