Saturday's List of 13:
Random thoughts with weekend here........
NBA information on college basketball page
NHL information on NBA page......so is CFL knowledge
Week 9 NFL info now posted on NFL page
College foootball trends for Saturday's action
-- Underdogs covered eight of last ten North Carolina-Miami games.
-- Kansas State covered eight of last ten as a Big X home favorite.
-- Purdue covered seven of last ten as a road underdog.
-- Air Force covered 13 of last 17 games with Army, but is 0-5 in its last five games as a road favorite.
-- Baylor covered 19 of its last 22 home games.
-- Northwestern covered 14 of its last 21 games as a road underdog.
BS Statement of the Day
"Rick (Renteria) deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015. We met with Rick two weeks ago for a long end-of-season evaluation and discussed plans for next season. We praised Rick to the media and to our season ticket holders. These actions were made in good faith."
Cubs' president Theo Epstein, praising the guy he fired this week
Where did Derrick Rose play his college basketball?
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy lived in Kansas.
FOX baseball analyst Harold Reynolds played 12 years in major leagues, with ten of them coming for the Seattle Mariners.
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Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.....
13) Kevin Durant has a walking boot on his injured foot, Russell Westbrook broke his right hand Thursday night and the Oklahoma City Thunder are 0-2, with not much relief in sight before Thanksgiving. Like we said, its going to take 50 wins to make the playoffs in the west; Thunder aren’t putting a 50-win team on the floor anytime soon.
12) In 2008, NFL teams averaged 211.3 passing yards per game; so far this year, 241.7. That’s a 14.4% increase in six years.
11) ESPN the Magazine had some interesting stuff this month; from 2001-03, NFL tight ends were responsible for 15.8% of a team’s passing yardage. From 2012-now, that number has risen to 22.6%. Spread offenses are said to the reason why.
10) CBS is remaking the Odd Couple again next TV season, with Matthew Perry as Oscar Madison. This will make me sound old(er) but no one could top Jack Klugman as Oscar.
The next few notes are related to college basketball and again, they come from my reading of this week’s ESPN the Magazine…….
9) ESPN’s Jay Bilas says if Kentucky divided its team into two 6-man units, both units would be ranked in the top 25, that show much talent they have. Calipari’s team actually has too much talent; no way he can keep all those guys happy.
8) Wisconsin returns 82% of its minutes from last year; their defense slipped last year, curious to see if what is basically the same team will play better defense this season.
7) Duke’s 2-point FG% defense was 49.1% LY, which ranked 13th……in the 14-team ACC. Freshman C Jahlil Okafor is supposed to be really good, so we’ll see if Duke is better defensively this year.
6) Villanova was 8-1 LY in games decided by 5 or less points, or in OT; the other seven #1/#2 seeds in NCAA’s were a combined 43-22 (66.2%) in close games like those, which infers Villanova may have had luck on its side LY. Wildcats have a veteran team, should win Big East this year.
5) Gonzaga has a freshman named Domantas Sabonis, whose dad Arvydas was the best basketball very few people saw play, at least until he tore his Achilles tendon. The elder Sabonis played for Portland late in his career, after the injury, but was in Russia at the peak of his career, before the Internet. His son is supposed to be very good and should help the Zags win the WCC again.
4) VCU was a bully team in the A-14 last year; they forced turnovers on 23.6% of possessions, rebounded 35.5% of their missed shots, so they were just a lot more athletic than most opponents. But if you didn’t turn the ball over forced them to set up in the half court, they made only 44.6% of their 2-point shots, 9th in a 14-team league. If you held your own on the boards, then they struggled to score.
3) SMU made 37.9% of its 3-pointers last year, which is very good, but they ranked 339th out of 351 D-I teams when it came to %age of shots that were 3’s.
Larry Brown is old-fashioned and doesn’t like the trey, despite playing/coaching in the ABA. We’ll see if Coach Brown, a media darling for sure, gets his team in the NCAAs after they were a disappointment in missing it LY.
2) Syracuse scored 63 or less points in 11 of its last 13 games LY and lost 59% of its minutes played from LY. Boeheim always has players, but his players this year are very young and could struggle some in an improved ACC. Don’t forget, Louisville is in the ACC now.
1) Say what you want about Jameis Winston, but he is 21-0 as a starting QB in college and he’s stared down a few double digit deficits.
His career going forward is going to be fascinating to study, as he heads to the fishbowl that is playing QB in the NFL.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind......
13) As an A’s fan, I’m well-versed in losing good players to rich teams in free agency, but for the Rays to lose their manager……to the Cubs, well that has to sting a little extra. Money talks and Joe Maddon is cool for admitting it; plus if someone ever wins a title with the Cubs he becomes a God, so there is no downside there.
Remember that Maddon was close with the late Don Zimmer, who managed the Cubs from 1988-91 and made the playoffs with Chicago in ’89.
12) Read this week that 55% of gas stations in this country are selling gas for less than $3.00 a gallon; here in upstate NY, it is in the $3.30’s.
11) Florida State was down 21-0 at Louisville, 24-7 in third quarter, but Seminoles rallied as usual and won going away 42-31. Cardinals were 1-11 on third down. Needs to be said that Jameis Winston is now 21-0 as a starting QB at Florida State.
10) Tremendous exhibtion by Madison Bumgarner in World Series; my next question is this: Does his workload this season (270 IP) affect how Giants bring him along next spring? He is a valuable commodity, will be interesting to follow.
9) Rough debut for Lebron and Cavaliers, who lost to the Knicks; James was 5-15 from floor; Cleveland was actually +8 when Lebron was off the floor. NBA season is a long one; probably better to play Cleveland early on, before they get accustomed to playing with each other.
8) Dwight Howard made less than 55% of his foul shots the last three years; he hasn’t shot over 60% from the line since his rookie year. The guy makes $21M+ this season, how can he much such a hideous shooter? Doesn’t he practice? Least he could do would be to try shooting underhanded, like Wilt Chamberlain did. Rockets got KO’s from playoffs by one point last year; that’s one missed foul shot.
7) Remember Coach Reeves from the White Shadow, the great TV show in the late 70’s? Actor Ken Howard played Coach Reeves; saw him other day on an episode of Blue Bloods, playing a retired hockey player with dementia. Hard to believe its been over 30 years since White Shadow was on the air. Great show.
6) Found a link between White Shadow and Major League; remember Pedro Cerrano, the slugging first baseman who couldn’t hit a curveball?
Actor Dennis Haysbert played Cerrano; he also appeared in one 1979 episode of White Shadow as an opposing player. Haysbert was also the President in 24 and is the guy who does a lot of insurance commercials, can’t remember which company.
5) If DirecTV had a channel on NFL Sundays where DBs/WRs were miked and it was uncensored, I’d pay to listen to it. “Trash Talk Channel” would be a big success, but it would also incite and encourage more jawing which would be bad. Would be interesting to hear what gets said down on the field, though.
4) Explanation, please? Only 12 NBA players started all 82 games last year; four of the 12 played for Portland. This for a team that had Sam Bowie and Brandon Roy, two of the most injury-prone stars in NBA history.
3) Will college football teams run up scores to impress the selection committee? Would the committee be gullible enough to fall for such shenanigans? When you’re handicapping games, have to be wary of going against these contending teams, who might not be above adding on another score or two to impress people.
2) Horse named Free as a Bird was scratched from the Breeders Cup because the horse didn’t want to fly. Horse is stabled in Kentucky;it freaked out when they started the engines on the plane and he had to be taken off the plane. Expensive day for the owners.
1) Lakers lost their first two games by 18-20 points; when announcers are saying LA is anxiously awaiting the return of Nick Young to bolster the lineup, well you know things are bad-- Swaggy P isn’t that much of a difference maker.
Thursday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.......
13) Saints lost their last seven road games and were favored in most of them; after this game, a 4-4 team will be in first place at halfway point in the NFC South. Three of NO’s four road losses were by three or less points.
12) Florida State has a dicey road game at Louisville; Seminoles are only favored by 3.5 points, which seems very low. Bobby Petrino is a good coach; not sure his team is ready to pull this upset.
11) Chargers lost their last two games after a 5-1 start, now visit south Florida, where they haven’t won since the Kellen Winslow/OT playoff game in 1981- they’re 0-7 at Miami since then, losing a tight one LY.
10) Stanford beat Oregon the last two years, holding Ducks to total of 34 points; they’ll be hard-pressed to make it three in a row.
9) 7 of 13 NFL games this weekend have a spread of 3 or less points; there are four home underdogs this week. Over is 19-6 in primetime games this season.
8) Pitt-Duke played a 55-52 thriller LY, in their first meeting as ACC rivals; this year’s game won’t be like that one, but should be a good game.
7) Lot of new faces in new places as the NBA season kicks off; how long will it take the Cavaliers to become a cohesive unit? It took the Heat a month or so when Lebron James first went there.
6) Brett Bielema still hasn’t won an SEC game at Arkansas, but he’s pretty good at beating up Sun Belt teams like he did last week; his Razorbacks visit Starkville and the #1 Mississippi State Bulldogs, whose QB Prescott wore a walking boot for at least part of this week.
5) Will Tony Romo play? Would Dallas be better off if he didn’t play for a week or two? Arizona is 6-1 despite using three different QB’s, with only loss at Denver. Cardinals won their last three games with Dallas.
4) West Virginia beat Baylor at home two weeks ago, now the TCU Horned Frogs come east to Morgantown; Horned Frogs scored so many points last week, the school ran out of fireworks that they shoot off after every TCU score. Total in this game (74) is the week’s highest as I type this.
3) Steelers are retiring Mean Joe Greene’s number Sunday night; what took them so long? Ravens are 0-2 against the Bengals, 5-1 against everyone else- they’ve won five of last seven games against the Steelers.
2) Auburn-Ole Miss is the best SEC game this week; can the Rebels bounce back after getting beat at LSU last week? Will teams try to run scores up to impress the Selection Committee? Will the committee care about such things?
1) Broncos won, covered all four games since their bye, but they’ve lost last four visits to Foxboro, after blowing a big lead there LY. You know its a big game when they say Aaron Hernandez will be allowed to watch it on TV in prison.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) College Football Playoff selection committee announced its first-ever top 25 rankings on Tuesday with Miss State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss the four teams. This will play itself out, but the initial reaction is that strength of schedule is going to be stressed and thats going to make future Septembers more fun to watch, as teams will be forced to upgrade their non-league schedules.
12) Baylor is 13th in the rankings; upgrade your schedule. Bears were favored by 34+ points in their first three games this season.
11) Redskin-Cowboy game was highest-rated Monday night game in four years.
10) That said, did ESPN even show Redskin owner Daniel Snyder once? Jerry Jones had an in-game interview, had to be on camera 25 times, but no sign of Snyder that I can remember-- they were more interested in showing Colt McCoy's dad.
9) ESPN did show Tony Wyllie, the Redskins' PR guy, pulling McCoy away from an ESPN Desportes reporter, grabbing him by the jersey. Apparently the TV business is also a contact sport-- there is a protocol to when/where players do interviews and Tony Wyllie takes that protocol seriously. Don't mess with him.
8) Jackass update: Bears' DE Lamarr Houston tore his ACL while celebrating a sack of the Patriots' backup QB when New England was winning by 25 points. He is the second NFL player to do that this season. It is not smart.
7) Dodgers, Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks all have new general managers, which means the Giants are only NL West team that hasn't changed GMs this year.
6) San Diego hired scouting director Logan White away from the Dodgers-- he has a very good reputation as a talent evaluator. San Diego seems to be doing smart things as far as beefing up their scouting department-- its the best way for smaller market teams to become competitive, and then stay that way.
5) Hawai'i fired basketball coach Gib Arnold Tuesday, not the best thing to do on October 28, but an indication the NCAA may come calling soon. An assistant coach also got the boot. Have a nice season, fellas.
4) We all have worked for bosses we don't like much; imagine how hard it must be for an NFL QB, if he doesn't get along with his head coach or offensive coordinator?
3) San Antonio 101, Dallas 100-- Tremendous game. Seriously. Someday, when the NBA cuts back to 64 or 68-game schedule, you'll see a lot more games like this, when both sides have fresh legs more often.
2) Marv Albert is 73 years old and still going strong calling NBA games. When FOX resorts to showing Erin Andrews interviewing a couple who just had a baby during a World Series game, they're telling me to put the Spurs game on. In the 4th inning.
1) Grant Hill is now teamed with Albert and Greg Anthony on TNT; does every Duke alum have to be on television? When does Greg Koubek get his TV gig?
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Selfishly, I’m hoping Joe Maddon doesn’t manage next season and works on ESPN baseball telecasts; you never know for sure, but I’m guessing Maddon would be television gold.
12) Sports books in Las Vegas opened at 6am Sunday to accommodate people who might want to bet on the ridiculously early Lion-Falcon game from London. I love watching football, but it doesn’t need to be on 24 hours a day. People need time to sleep.
11) Odd fact: both punters in the Ole Miss-LSU game Saturday night are from Australia. I’m pretty sure LSU’s last three punters were all from Down Under.
10) Kentucky QB Patrick Towles is the grandson of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning; Gary Danielson was adamant Saturday when he said he thinks Towles will be a good NFL QB.
9) NFC South standings: :
Carolina 3-4-1, Saints 3-4, Falcons 2-6, Bucs 2-6. Not much to endorse there.
8) Ben Roethlisberger threw for 522 yards Sunday, so whenever we see highlights of that game in years to come, we’ll see the God-awful Steeler throwback uniforms, which look like prison garb. Does anyone buy those?
7) Because it is never too early to gamble, here are odds to win '15 World Series:
6) TCU scored 82 points Saturday, causing the school to run thru its entire stash of fireworks that they were supposed to use the rest of this season whenever the Frogs score a touchdown.
5) Somehow Notre Dame has suckered NBC into throwing money at them to televise their home football games; even more bizarre was BYU’s decision to also be an independent in football, so they wouldn’t have to share any BCS-football money that they earned.
One small problem; BYU ain’t Notre Dame. Their QB got hurt last month, now they lose every week- they’ll be lucky to get to any bowl. BYU should’ve stayed in the Mountain West.
4) Detroit Lions got back from their London trip at 1:15 Monday morning; they’re on the post-London bye now, but some of those coaches probably went right in the office and started watching film of their next opponent.
3) Packer-Saint game Sunday night got better TV ratings than Game 5 of World Series; MLB continues to pay for shoving Red Sox-Bronx down our throats during the regular season. Other teams make the World Series, less people care, since they don't know those teams, having never seen them during the season
2) Jerry Jones finished his live interview on Monday Night Football just before Tony Romo got hurt and left the game; would've been some interesting live TV had Jones still been miked when Romo got hurt.
1) If you bet the Super Bowl blindly today, line is AFC -3 over the NFC.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) Lions 22, Falcons 21-- Long trip home for Atlanta, which led 21-0 al halftime. Word is NFL will have five of these London games next year; not fond of starting a game at 9:30am ET. Second week in row Lions won after being in hopeless situation, good for them. NFC South teams are putrid.
12) Vikings 19, Bucs 13 OT-- Minnesota tied game with FG at gun, then scored a defensive TD on first play of OT to snap 3-game losing streak and go home happy. Four of six Buc losses are by six or less points, with two of last three in OT- they scored 17 or less points in five of seven games. .
11) Patriots 51, Bears 23-- Brady was 30-35/354 with five TD passes; this game was 38-7 at the half. Going to be long bye week for the Bears, who visit Lambeau in first game after their bye- they've lost four of their last five games. Patriots are now 22-15 vs spread in last 37 games as a non-divisional home favorite.
10) Chiefs 34, Rams 7-- Rams' putrid lack of production from WRs is summed up by this stat; they're last in NFL, getting only 8 first downs vis penalty- DBs do not respect them enough to grab/hold/interfere with them. St Louis special teams won game last week; they were not good in this one, missing a chip shot FG when it was 7-7, giving up a 99-yard kick return when it was 10-7.
9) Seahawks 13, Panthers 9-- Seattle has come to Charlotte and won three years in row, by similar scores: 16-12/12-7/13-9. Rumors persist there are problems between QB Wilson and other Seahawks. Carolina is 1-4-1 after its 2-0 start.
8) Bills 43, Jets 23-- Jets were -6 in turnovers, lost for 7th game in row after being first 1-6 team EVER to be favored a team with a winning record. Bills threw for 217 yards despite throwing only 17 passes- they won field position by 30 yards.
7) Dolphins 27, Jaguars 13-- Jax rookie QB Bortles had three turnovers, giving him six in the past two weeks and 13 in six games. Four of those have been interceptions returned for touchdowns, two by Miami here. Dolphins are unspectacular but 4-3 and thats a hell of a lot better than last year's debacle.
6) Texans 30, Titans 16-- Tennessee RB Greene was arrested Friday after parking his BMW in a handicapped spot, then almost hitting a traffic cop as he left the scene. Distractions like this are almost always a red flag. go-against sign, especially for a team starting a QB for first time in NFL. No news is good news.
5) Bengals 27, Ravens 24-- Terrific game that turned many times, last of which was when refs called offensive interference on Steve Smith with 0:32 left, negating what would've been an 80-yard TD pass. Cincinnati sweeps the season series and now has tie-breakers over Baltimore.
4) Cardinals 24, Eagles 20-- Thing I like about Bruce Arians is that he blitzes the other QB when he is protecting a lead late in the game. Arizona had TD passes of 80-75 yards, Eagles had only a FG to show for three red zone drives, and also threw an INT in the end zone from the 25. Hard to win that way.
3) Steelers 51, Colts 34-- Big Ben is now 100-50 as an NFL starter after throwing for 522 yards as Pitt dismantled a Colt team that had won five in a row. Back when he was a HS junior, Ben sat behind the coach's son, who wound up playing WR at a Division III college. Coach must be a helluva guy.
2) Browns 23, Raiders 13-- Good sign for Cleveland fans, winning easily against an inferior opponent. Raiders have now lost 13 straight dating to last season. Oakland has dropped 16 games in a row played in Eastern time zone -- a streak that started in 2009. Browns are now 4-3, matching their win total of last season.
1) Saints 44, Packers 23-- Green Bay is 0-3 on artificial turf, Saints are 3-0 at home. Luck of the schedule whether you play New Orleans at home or in the Superdome. Rodgers dinged his hanstring in this game, but Pack has next week off, so he can get better before they play the Bears on Sunday night, November 9.
Sunday's List of 13: Summing up a sports Saturday.......
13) Mississippi State 45, Kentucky 31-- #1-ranked Bulldogs got good challenge at improved Kentucky, which passed for 401 yards, but couldn't handle State's running game. Bulldogs ran for 324 yards, ran a squib kick back for clinching TD with 2:22 to play. No way is Mississippi State the best team in the country.
12) TCU 82, Texas Tech 27-- Tech beat the Horned Frogs the last two years; this is a league game, and TCU scored 82 points!!!! Frogs had 785 yards of offense. Here's a hint for Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury-- recruit defensive players. A lot of them.
11) Arizona State 24, Washington 10-- Game was 10-10 with 4:00 left, but ASU scored twice in last 3:00 to get on the plane happy- they're 4-0 on road. QB Kelly got knocked silly when he threw GW TD pass; Sun Devils got clinching pick-6 with 0:53 left- they host Utah, Notre Dame the next two Saturdays. .
10) Georgia Tech 56, Pitt 28-- Panthers lost five fumbles on their first 13 plays and trailed 28-0 5:16 into the game. No bueno, especially against a team that is content to run the ball for three hours. Tech ran the ball for 465 yards.
9) Michigan State 35, Michigan 11-- Another dismal day for Brady Hoke, whose players planted a stake on Spartan Stadium turf after running onto the field before the game. Michigan State players and their coaches noticed, so when Spartans scored a meaningless TD in game's last minute, that was why.
In case you wondering, the 17-point spread Michigan got in this game was the third-biggest Wolverines had ever gotten in a game-- ever. Michigan got 20+ points in a couple of games in 2008, against Penn State and Ohio State.
8) Nebraska 42, Rutgers 24-- This is my weekly plea for geographic sanity; why are these teams in the same league? Rutgers is in New Jersey, which is, according to Mapquest, 1,297 miles from Lincoln. Apparently TV money drives all this, but it baffles me how taking so many long road trips helps Rutgers win.
7) Giants 11, Royals 4-- KC led 4-2 in middle of 5th inning, but their bullpen got roughed up and World Series is now 2-2. Since 1982, when WS is tied 2-2, team that wins Game 5 has only won series four of 11 times.
6) Marshall 35, FAU 16-- Unbeaten Thundering Herd were down 16-14 at the half in this game, but held Owls scoreless in second half. There was a female official in this game; Maia Chaka, who Mike Pereira thinks will be in the NFL fairly soon.
Pereira is really, really good on TV; he works a lot of games in the studio and gives clear rules explanations for his opinions and he is usually right.
5) Utah 24, USC 21-- Trojans fell to 5-3 when Utah scored with 0:08 left to win; five of USC's eight games were decided by 6 or less points.
Unrelated weather note: It is 2am as I type this-- we just had a thunderstorm here in upstate NY, complete with a brief hailstorm. Weird for this time of year.
4) Kansas State 23, Texas 0-- Why did Texas fire Mack Brown? Longhorns hadn't been shut out since Oklahoma beat them 12-0 in 2004- they look terrible now.
3) UCLA 40, Colorado 37 OT-- Mark my words: two years from now, Colorado is going to be really good. Coach MacIntyre is building a solid program, it just takes lot of time to build a solid football program, unlike basketball.
2) Ohio State 31, Penn State 24 OT--Buckeyes were up 17-0 at half, but threw a pick-6 early in third quarter and wound up surviving in OT, in a game where neither side gained 300 yards. Penn State has now lost its last three games, scoring total of 36 points, not counting the OTs in this one.
1) LSU 10, Ole Miss 7-- This was a fierce throwback-type game where Tigers ran ball for 264 yards, but kept shooting itself in the foot, with a missed FG and couple fumbles in Ole Miss territory. LSU finally drove ball 95 yards on 13 plays to win on a TD with 5:07 left, then survived the Rebels' final drive.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Miles, whose mom Martha passed away Friday night, at age 92.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Sad day to be a Rays’ fan; manager Joe Maddon has bolted St Pete. He had an opt-out clause written into his last contract in the event GM Andrew Friedman left the team, which happened earlier this month. I’m guessing Tampa Bay will hire Dave Martinez, Maddon’s bench coach, but it is a sad day to root for the Rays.
Maddon had a .517 winning percentage in nine years with the Rays; in eight years before he got there, their winning percentage was .401.
12) Baseball sold its soul to FOX and is now paying for it; my friend lives an hour north of Pittsburgh. He told me the other day that he wouldn’t have been able to watch Pirate playoff games had they advanced to the NLDS, because his cable system doesn’t carry FOX Sports1.
How in God’s name does MLB allow freakin’ playoff games to be on stations that everyone doesn’t have? Do they want people to see their (excellent) postseason product? FOX uses the playoffs to try and get cable systems to carry this new channel. It makes no sense for baseball to be in this situation, but what do I know?
11) Broncos are up 35-21 with 2:00 left Thursday and they have the ball. San Diego is out of timeouts- Denver can’t possibly lose unless they throw the game.
The PA system is playing music, the fans are celebrating and Peyton Manning is going nuts after they got a 5-yard penalty because linemen couldn’t hear with all the noise. Seriously, he called out the scoreboard operator after the game;
Manning must be a lot of fun to be around, as long as he gets to run everything. Fans pay a king’s ransom to watch the games; they’re entitled to celebrate when the team wins. Too much noise? Deal with it.
10) Steve Nash’s great basketball career is over; he’ll make $9.7M this season for doing nothing, since he is hurt and was retiring after the season anyway. Saw the Lakers twice this preseason; if they make the playoffs, it will be a small miracle- they’re not very good.
9) If what you read about the Seahawks having dissension is true, then those long plane trips they take to road games must be a lot of fun. Because of living up in the Pacific Northwest, Seahawks usually fly the most miles of any NFL team; St Louis last week, Carolina this week, for example. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
8) Speaking of the Seahawks, still want to hear the whole story on Russell Wilson leaving NC State for Wisconsin after three years/36 starts. That just never happens in the college game; who willingly lets the star QB walk? There has to be a juicy story there somewhere.
7) All three of Indiana Hoosiers’ assistant coaches are former D-I head coaches, which is a lot more unusual than you would think. Most teams have at least one younger, up-and-coming coach; I can’t remember another team where all the assistants had been head coaches in D-I.
6) Speaking of Indiana, Hoosier alum/Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo broke bones in his face this week during practice this week and will be out for a while. Tough blow for the Magic, who may turn to rookie Elfrid Payton to run their offense at the start of the season.
5) Stat that I knew but to see it on paper was impressive: Michigan State has made the Sweet 16, the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, 12 of the last 17 years. That’s damn good.
4) Illinois basketball players have a good deal coming up; Nov 27-28 they play two games in Las Vegas, then four days later they have a game in Miami. Lot of pool time for them that week, though pools in Vegas might be closed by then. I’m sure they’ll find something to do.
3) You get the feeling that by the time this disciplinary hearing for Jameis Winston at Florida State takes place, the kid will be packing up his stuff to head to the NFL Combine. Lawyers are very skilled at delay tactics.
2) I’m pretty sure that last night was the last Friday night until June without meaningful basketball—that’s a good thing.
1) Was another Dumb and Dumber movie necessary? Seriously; couldn’t they have just re-shown the first one in theaters and everyone who would go pay $11 to go see it would’ve still been happy?
Friday's List of 13: What we're looking for this weekend.......
13) Back in May, who thought Eagles-Cardinals would be battle of 5-1 teams? Nick Foles comes back to Arizona as a much better player than he was for the Arizona Wildcats in college. This is Sunday’s best game.
12) LSU is a home underdog for the 5th time (2-2 in first four) in 9+ years under Les Miles; Ole Miss covered its last nine visits to Baton Rouge, but most of those were as pretty substantial underdogs.
11) Steelers scored 24 points in 2:54 Monday night against a Houston team that imploded. Indy has won five games in row and will not implode, but they’re 2-11 in last 13 games vs Pittsburgh, though this will be Luck’s first visit to Heinz Field.
10) West Virginia knocked Baylor from ranks of unbeaten last week, but now have a long road trip to Oklahoma State, which got bamboozled at TCU. OSU’s starting QB is out for the year; they’re 4-0 at home, but against all stiffs. WVU won both its true road games by three points each.
9) Oakland fired Dennis Allen when the Raiders got home from London; if the Falcons lose to Detroit across the pond, will Mike Smith get the Ziggy too? Atlanta has been playing terrible defense.
8) Mississippi State is #1 in the country, which just looks strange; they’ve got a trap game in Lexington, as a double digit favorite in Lexington, against improved Kentucky. Lot more media distractions when you’re ranked #1. Bulldogs haven’t been on road in over a month, either.
7) World Series shifts to San Francisco, where Ned Yost gets to test his magical managerial run while playing under National League rules. Yost used to manage in Milwaukee, so he’s done it before, but Billy Butler has to sit now, with no DH for three games.
6) USC has a tricky road game at Utah, which is having a hard time picking a starting QB- Utes are back to Wilson this week. Utah’s last three games were all decided by 6 or less points. Trojans allowed 26+ points in each of their last three games.
5) Rookie Zach Mettenberger gets his first start at QB for offensively-challenged Tennessee, with Houston in town after falling apart Monday night. Texans have to be really disappointed to be 3-4; they’re close to having a much better record.
4) Lane Kiffin’s going to be in Knoxville this weekend, which should have the locals out in full force. Young Vols are a 17-point home dog to Alabama, which looked really good at home last week after struggling to win 14-13 at Arkansas.
3) Ravens rallied from a 15-0 deficit to take a 16-15 at home against the Bengals in Week 1, before Cincy won it on a long pass with 5:00 left; now teams meet again in the Queen City, with Bengals on an 0-2-1 downer after their 3-0 start. Ravens are quietly 5-2; do you think they will re-sign Ray Rice if he gets reinstated?
2) South Carolina is getting 18 points at Auburn? Have to look up the last time Spurrier got 18 points in a game, has to be a decent amount of years, but his defense is sub-par this year and that’s bad news against a Malzahn team.
1) I think the Saints are going to break out and beat Green Bay Sunday night; nothing I’ve seen on TV this year endorses that opinion, just a feeling I have.
Think the Jets will beat Buffalo too, but you cannot give points with a team that’s lost its last six games.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) I think Joe Buck is really good calling baseball games (it is obvious he likes it a lot more than football), but why can't FOX come up with a good analyst to sit next to him? Harold Reynolds says some nonsensical things ("I like having a lefthanded first baseman because it looks really cool"); he seems like a good guy, but bottom line he is mute button material.
My suggestion would be former big league pitcher Jim Kaat, who does games on MLB Network. He talks about the game and he makes sense.
12) The wife of Royals’ pitcher Wade Davis left a waiter a pretty neat tip Monday; a ticket to Game 1 of the World Series. She must’ve gotten good service.
11) Lions-Falcons game from London this week is on at 9:30 am in eastern US, 6:30 in Las Vegas, as they try to play earlier in the day in London.
When the hell am I supposed to sleep? College games won’t end until 2am Saturday night; guess I’m sleeping the seven hours in between there. Too bad it wasn’t next weekend, when the clocks go back and we get an extra hour of sleep.
10) Young man from Albany area, Kevin Huerter, whose dad played for Siena, is getting looks from George Mason, Brown, Quinnipiac and surprisingly Creighton, a Big East team. Kid is 6-4 and can shoot it, which makes him marketable; will be an interesting young man to follow-- he's very thin, but is only a junior in high school.
9) CBS has to show every SEC football team at least once every six years and Kentucky’s type is almost up, so they’re showing the Miss State-Kentucky game Saturday at 3:30.
8) Vanderbilt is starting its fourth QB of the season this week and baseball hasn’t even ended yet. James Franklin has to be laughing his butt off up in Happy Valley- he overachieved at Vandy and got out of Nashville just in time.
7) One of the reasons Steve Kerr decided to coach the Warriors instead of the Knicks is that his daughter plays volleyball at Cal, which is close to the Bay Area.
6) Florida will start the more mobile but younger Treon Harris when they play Georgia in the annual rivalry game in Jacksonville; the Gators looked terrible last week and appear headed for a coaching change.
5) Jack Nicklaus on Jameis Winston:
"I just hate to see them hammering a 20-year-old kid. Has he made mistakes? Maybe. But you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, I think. Not charged and convicted and sentenced. I wonder how many autographs I have out there. Every game I go to I sign, probably 20 or 25 (people) and four or five each. Start adding that up. And he's a lot more available than I am. He's not the only kid with a couple thousand out there. A bunch of those kids have to have a couple thousand."
Nicklaus’ grandson is Nick O’Leary, the FSU tight end.
4) By my count, 31 of 49 college football games this weekend have a double digit point spread, with a couple more spreads being 9.5, so at first glance, its not the most appealing Saturday coming up.
3) Surprising baseball stat: Bartolo Colon had a higher strikeout %age this year than Justin Verlander.
2) NBA moved its logo, featuring the silhouetted image of Jerry West, from upper-left chest on uniforms, where it's been since 1986, to the back of the jersey. This is supposed to be a forerunner of advertising coming to the front of the uniforms in the near future.
1) Toronto Maple Leafs were on lockdown in their Ottawa hotel Wednesday morning, because of the shootings near the Parliament building; their game with the Senators was postponed. Our thoughts, prayers go out to the family of the police officer who was murdered. Some things just make no sense.
Wednesday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in the NFL.......
32) Raiders-- Lot of pressure on Cleveland to beat the Raiders this weekend, after they lost in Jacksonville last week. Raiders have to be happy with rookie QB Carr, but they're only NFL team that hasn't scored 100 points.
31) Jaguars-- No coincidence that bottom two teams are both playing rookie QBs, but those guys haven't been the problem. Fans can't be real thrilled that their "home" game with Dallas is being played in freakin' London.
30) Titans-- Very hard to win without a good QB and Tennessee doesn't have one; still haven't recovered from drafting Vince Young. 27th in NFL in yards/game, tied for 28th in points/game.
29) Jets-- You watched them against Patriots last week and wondered how the hell they were 1-6; then they gave up a draft pick for Percy Harvin, who the Super Bowl champs couldn't wait to get rid of, and you realize they're a dysfunctional team.
28) Buccaneers-- Really thought they'd be pretty good this year, but they're 21st in NFL in takeaways, which has always been a strength of Lovie Smith teams. Funny thing is, at 1-5, they're only two games out of first place in dreadful NFC South.
8) Cardinals-- Funny how other teams' screw-ups can help you; Steelers stupidly got rid of Bruce Arians as OC, he went to Indy, was interim coach for a year and is now in line to be Coach of the Year in the desert. Arizona fired Whisenhunt, who is a good coach, but they were smart to hire Arians.
7) Ravens-- Quietest 5-2 team in league, have allowed least points in NFL. Will try to avenge Week 1 loss to Bengals this week, when they trailed 15-0, rallied to take lead but lost on 77-yard bomb to Green with 4:58 left. Their owner seems like a good guy; he handled the Ray Rice debacle as well as he could have.
6) Patriots-- This has nothing to do with New England, but Carolina is in first place in NFC South and they've allowed 37 more points than they've scored. In another non-Patriot note, Harold Reynolds isn't good on FOX; can't they put Ron Darling or Jim Kaat or John Smoltz on, someone who can make sense?
5) Packers-- Won last four games, scoring 36.3 ppg. If you think college recruiting is an exact science, remember that Aaron Rodgers played junior college ball before he went to California. Only team that offered Ryan Fitzpatrick a scholarship was I-AA Eastern Washington, who play on a red artificial turf field.
4) Chargers-- Raiders, Rams, Bolts all rumored to be interested in moving to LA, where fair-weather fans only support winning teams. All three teams have already called LA home once and left-- why would they go back? Rams' owner Kroenke is from Missouri, is named after Enos Slaughter, the old Cardinal baseball player; would be very surprised if he pulled Rams out of St Louis.
3) Cowboys-- Have converted 54-94 (57.4%) of 3rd down plays, giving them edge in field position and tiring defenses out.
2) Colts-- Started season 0-2 (Broncos/Eagles); haven't lost since. Saw something last week that said through six games, Andrew Luck had thrown 6th most passes of any QB thru six games since 1960. They beat Bengals 27-0 last week and were -2 in the turnover category, with both RBs fumbling in Cincinnati territory.
1) Broncos-- FOX ran a graphic showing John Fox's coaching record with, without Peyton Manning; Fox got to a Super Bowl with Jake freakin' Delhomme as his QB. Why is it that no one posts Belichick's record with and without Brady? Anyone?
Brady's win-loss record: 153-45.
Belichick's win-loss record: 204-107.......you do the math.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Still baffled that four of seven umpires working in this World Series, all of whom have been umps for 15+ years, have never been in a World Series before. These four rated out the best with the new instant replay system. Were these guys the best umpires in previous seasons and if so, why weren’t any of them ever invited before? One guy only had two calls reversed the whole season.
Has to be a lot of politics involved with who gets this high profile assignment; maybe instant replay helped take some of the politics out of it.
12) NFC South teams are having a bad year; those four teams are a combined 2-12-1 SU in road games, with one of the home wins coming against a division opponent. NFC South teams are 3-8-1 against the spread in non-divisional road games.
11) Hitting coach Chili Davis leaves A’s for Boston, where he’ll be re-united with Yoenis Cespedes, unless the Red Sox trade Cespedes this winter. The Cuban OF is a free agent a year from now and he’s going to make a lot of money, but his low on-base percentage might not appeal to Moneyball-type teams.
I would take him on my team, any day of the week.
10) I’m not familiar with the details of the salary cap, but Percy Harvin is a $7M hit on the Jets’ salary cap for this year, but still hits Seattle’s cap for $7M next year. Seahawks’ locker room might be a happier place without Harvin, but their WRs aren’t nearly as fast now.
9) Utah Utes’ kicker Andy Phillips was a member of the US Ski Team from 2007-2011, so he is a world class athlete as well as a damn good kicker.
8) Indiana started #3 QB Zander Diamont against Michigan State last week; the kid’s stepmom once played Jerry Sienfeld’s girlfriend for an episode on the comedian’s TV show.
7) Up north of the border, the resurgent Hamilton TigerCats have won their last five home games, its first five-game home win streak in five years. The new stadium agrees with them, I guess.
6) Loyola-Chicago, already fighting an uphill battle in Missouri Valley Conference, lost its top scorer Milton Doyle (shoulder) for an indefinite time. Bad news for the Ramblers, who don't need more bad news. .
5) Good news for Long Beach State, which landed transfer Gabe Levin, who scored 11.1 ppg and grabbed 7.2 rebounds/game. Levin had originally transferred to Marquette, but went back to a smaller pond in the Big West.
4) The fan who caught Travis Ishikawa’s pennant-clinching home run gave the ball back to Ishikawa, in exchange for a signed bat and tickets to Game 3 of the World Series. I’m guessing he could have held Ishikawa up for fairly big money; I mean the guy is a journeyman but still has to make $500K+ a year, but the fan took the bat and Series tickets and everyone is happy.
3) The NBA has a lot more money now, because of the lucrative new TV deals that were signed, but if the league and players agree to shorten the season, do the players get less money, or the same money to play fewer games?
Don’t think they’d accept a reduction in money, even with a reduced scheduled, because the league is obviously doing very well because of the TV deals.
2) What happens if Ray Rice wins his appeal, gets reinstated by the NFL and no one signs the guy? It is doubtful any NFL team is going to touch this guy, not this year—he’s a PR disaster, but he has the right to earn a living.
1) NFL officials are schooled not to call offsetting penalties when a skirmish breaks out; to me, this is totally stupid, since it is usually difficult to determine who is at fault, or if one person is at fault at all. What you wind up with is an official guessing which guy started it, when they both could very well both be at fault. Just throw a flag, say its offsetting fouls and be done with it.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday.......
13) Colts 27, Bengals 0-- Cincinnati is now 0-2-1 after a 3-0 start; they were awful in this game, with two first downs in first half, ten 3/outs on 13 drives. Bengals had 135 total yards, averaged 2.5 yards/pass attempt. Colts won their last five games.
12) Redskins 19, Titans 17-- Colt McCoy threw 70-yard TD pass on first play of second half, coning off bench to lead Washington to its second win. Tennessee lost five of its last six games after winning opener at Arrowhead. Redskins kicked FGs on all four of itd red zone drives.
11) Dolphins 27, Bears 14-- Chicago is now 0-3 at home this season; they were -3 in turnovers, were outgained 393-224. Jay Cutler completed just 3-of-11 passes for 52 yards and an interception on throws 15 or more yards downfield; the natives are restless in the Windy City, for sure.
10) Jaguars 24, Browns 6-- Cleveland got a rare win over rival Pittsburgh last week, lose to winless Jaguars this week; no bueno. Game was 10-6 until Jags scored couple TDs in 0:49 span of 4th quarter, on drives that totaled 15 yards of offense. Jaguars ran ball for 185 yards; they're getting better.
9) Rams 28, Seahawks 26--- St Louis jumped out to lead 21-3 thanks to a TD on a trick play on a punt return, then had to hold on for dear life, using a fake punt with 2:35 left to kill the clock and preserve their second win. Rams beat the defending champs with an even turnover ratio, a good sign.
8) Packers 38, Panthers 17-- Carolina won division with 12-4 record LY; they are 1-3-1 in last five games now, after a 2-0 start. Panthers were down 28-0 after 19:07 in this game, allowing 298 yards on 32 plays on Green Bay's first five drives. Pack won its last four games, averaging 36.3 ppg.
7) Ravens 29, Falcons 7-- Atlanta heads to London on a 4-game losing streak- they allowed 31.7 ppg in the four losses. Raiders fired their coach on the way home from England, since that trip is followed by a bye week; could Mike Smith be on his way out? Falcons ran ball for only 68 yards.
6) Bills 17, Vikings 16-- Buffalo converted 4th/20 and 2nd/20 plays on its winning drive, scoring TD with 0:01 left to send fans home happy. Very unusual that of the four teams with +2 or better turnover ratios this week, three of them lost. Not too hard to figure out that Orton is a big upgrade at QB over young EJ Manuel.
5) Lions 24, Saints 23-- Horrific loss for New Orleans, which lost its 7th straight regular season road game; they led 23-10 with 3:50 left, gave up a ridiculously easy 73-yard TD pass, then Brees threw an awful INT to set Detroit up at the 14-yard line for the winning score, which came on a 4th down play.
4) Chiefs 23, Chargers 20-- Andy Reid is now 12-2 in post-bye games, as Smith wins in his hometown, converting 7-14 on third down and not turning ball over (+1). Did San Diego get caught looking ahead to their Thursday night game in Denver?
3) Cowboys 31, Giants 21-- Murray is first RB ever to run for 100+ yards in first seven games of a season; they need to tone down his carries, or else he'll wind up like Jamal Anderson, who Falcons burned out by using too much. Dallas averaged 10.7 yards/pass attempt, ran ball for 156 yards as they won their sixth game in row.
2) Cardinals 24, Raiders 13-- Arizona outgained Raiders 365-220, converted 9-15 on third down and extended its lead in NFC West with Seattle/49ers losing. Put the Cardinals' record under a more popular team's banner and they'd be laying a lot more than 3.5 points in games like this. Arizona is still undervalued.
1) Broncos 42, 49ers 17-- Manning set all-time TD pass record against team missing five of its eight starters at DB/LB; he replaced Jim Harbaugh as the Colts' QB back in 1998. If he throws a TD pass in every game the rest of the season, he'll break the record for most consecutive games with at least one TD pass.
Sunday's List of 13: Summing up a super sports Saturday
13) Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27-- Tremendous game, really great; wouldn't be shocked if they met again in January, in the playoff. Notre Dame ran 30 more plays than FSU, but couldn't score in last minute, when they had ball inside 5-yard line. Total yardage was 470-323, Notre Dame.
Have to give Jimbo Fisher lot of credit; nothing seems to bother him. His teams are cool under pressure, because he doesn't show stress. Note of caution for Jameis Winston: your next coach (in the NFL) won't be so quarterback-friendly.
12) Ole Miss 34, Tennessee 3-- In 2009, Vols could've hired Brian Kelly, but they hired Lane Kiffin. In 2010, they hired Derek Dooley and Notre Dame hired Kelly. Tennessee eventually got it right with Butch Jones (who succeeded Kelly at Central Michigan and Cincinnati) but having Kelly would be better.
11) Missouri 42, Florida 13-- Total disaster for the Gators, who will be looking for a new head coach soon. Consider this timeline:
14:49 1st-- Missouri runs opening kick back for a TD
13:01 3rd-- Missouri runs punt back 82 yards for a TD
7:25 3rd-- Missouri runs fumble back 21 yards for a TD
5:57 3rd-- Missouri runs INT back 46 yards for a TD
Missouri gained 119 total yards and scored 42 freakin' points.
10) West Virginia 41, Baylor 27-- Mountaineers were -3 in turnovers, were flagged 14 times for 138 yards but won by two TDs, holding Baylor to its season-low 318 yards. Bears had 18 penalties for 185 yards, completed only 16-37 passes. Baylor had scored 136 points in its last two games against WVU.
9) Kansas State 31, Oklahoma 30-- Coaching job 75-year old Bill Snyder has done in the Little Apple is totally amazing; they were weakest of the doormats before he got there, a pinata other teams pummeled every year. Now they're the epitome of sound football, with gutty senior QB Waters leading this year's team.
8) Alabama 59, Texas A&M 0-- Wheels have come off in post-Manziel Aggieland; the SEC is a meat grinder and right now A&M is the meat. This game was so awful that only two penalties were called; second half was basically running time. Aggies allowed 142 points the last three weeks- they have a bye next week and then a win when UL-Monroe comes to town, so they'll get bowl eligible then. Hope they like playing in the Weedeater Bowl, or some such lower-level bowl.
7) TCU 42, Oklahoma State 9-- Horned Frogs lost 61-58 to Baylor last Saturday, after beating Oklahoma the week before so this sound beating they handed OSU was really impressive. TCU gained 671 yards in this game, 261 on the ground.
6) Texas 48, Iowa State 45-- What percentage of the Longhorn faithful you think was pleased with this result? There were 17 points scored in last 1:19 of this game. Cyclones are 2-5 and lost to North Dakota State- they gained 524 yards here.
5) South Florida 38, Tulsa 30-- Golden Hurricane led this game 27-7 at the half at home, but lost, their sixth loss in seven games.
4) LSU 41, Kentucky 3........Ohio State 56, Rutgers 17-- Kentucky/Rutgers both began the day 5-1, then reality set in.
As Tom Berenger's character said to Charlie Sheen's in the classic baseball movie Major League, "This isn't the California Penal League, Vaughn...."
3) Colorado State 16, Utah State 13-- Jared Roberts kicked two 46-yard FGs in the last 1:51 as the Rams moved to 6-1 in front of 32,546 fans that gave Colorado State its first home sellout in a decade. CSU coach Jim McElwain used to be OC at Alabama; bet he is having more fun this year, with a much smaller budget.
2) Clemson 17, Boston College 13-- Tiger QB Cole Stoudt will probably never play in the NFL like his dad did, but his gutty play made Clemson a winner here, in game where BC receivers dropped two TD passes that would've made a difference. Eagles beat USC at home last month; they were held to 120 rushing yards here.
Stoudt got a pain-killing shot before the game and another one at halftime. It is easy to criticize athletes these days, but this is a kid who gutted it out for his team today.
1) Arizona State 26, Stanford 10-- Todd Graham is a really good coach, winning this game with his backup QB, avenging two losses to the Cardinal LY. ASU plays Washington/Utah the next two weeks, before Notre Dame visits the desert.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts on an autumn day.....
13) Seattle traded Percy Harvin to the Jets Friday, which says to me that Jets' GM John Idzik ain't getting fired. If the owner was going to can the GM, why would he let him trade a draft choice the next GM might want to use next spring?
From what you read, Harvin isn't a great teammate; he's missed 27 of 85 games in his career, has been traded twice already and wasn't popular in Seattle's locker room.
12) UCLA's basketball team still can't practice at Pauley Pavilion, 2.5 months after a water main break flooded the historic arena.
11) Want to feel old? Sam Cassell Jr. is a player at UConn; his dad is an assistant coach for the Clippers these days.
10) Apparently the Dodgers' cable TV deal isn't the bonanza they thought it would be, so they're expected to slash $50M off their payroll next year, which explains why they went after Andrew Friedman, who has done more with less resources down in Tampa Bay.
9) Congress has an approval rate of 12%; its hard to believe there are that many people who think they're doing a good job.
8) Steve Kerr and his wife donated $1M to the athletic department at Arizona, his alma mater; Kerr earned a total of just under $16M in his 14-year playing career.
7) Lot of old Oakland A's work for the Diamondbacks now: Larussa-Stewart-Hale-McKay-Duncan. Arizona's spring training next March is going to look a little like an A's fantasy camp.
6) Good news from Arizona; D'Backs brought Mark Grace back to the majors as an assistant hitting coach. Grace was a tremendous analyst on Arizona TV, really funny, but he had a couple DUIs and lost that job. Good to see he is doing OK.
5) Eldrick Woods isn't getting those big appearance fees to play golf in the Middle East anymore; then again, he doesn't play golf much anymore, either.
4) Virginia Tech's basketball coach Buzz Williams posted a picture on Twitter of his young daughter doing some reading; she was supposedly reading Shotgun News. Once saw a pic of Williams and his son with wrestling legend Ric Flair. Williams is an unusual guy; what basketball coach leaves Marquette for Virginia Tech?
3) Tim Bogar went 14-8 as Rangers' interim manager, but Texas hired the Pirates' bench coach Jeff Banister as their new manager. Banister worked for Clint Hurdle for four years; Hurdle was once the hitting coach in Texas and was well-liked there, so his endorsement of Banister had a lot of clout.
2) I like the way they do overtime in the NFL, with both teams getting the ball unless the team that gets the ball first scores a TD. Seems like the fairest way.
1) If the NBA were to reduce from 82 to 64 games, thats a 22% reduction; would NBA players be OK with earning less money for playing less games?
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend........
13) Chiefs-Chargers is an interesting game out west; Bolts have dominated series lately, but their two wins over KC last year were both by a FG.
12) Baylor lost 70-63 the last time they visited Morgantown; they beat WVU 73-42 LY in Waco. Bears gained over 1,500 total yards in the two games. Not sure why, but WVU coach Holgorsen has cooler full of Red Bull on his sidelines during games, just for him.
11) Bengals are 0-1-1 since their bye, which came at a bad time, when they were 3-0. Colts won their last four games after an 0-2 start. This will be a fun game.
10) UCLA is favored at Cal, but Bruins lost their last seven visits to Berkeley, the last five by 14+ points. If they lose this week, especially with UCLA coming off a loss, it’ll be a major upset.
9) Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank was quoted this week as being unhappy with his team’s 2-4 start, which makes sense, but given how dreadful Atlanta’s defense has been, will heads roll if Atlanta doesn’t make the playoffs this year?
8) Royals-Giants World Series will be first time since 1918 (in a non-strike year) that neither World Series team will have won 90 regular season games. Royals are like Colorado was a few years ago, getting very hot at the perfect time.
7) Saints are 0-10 vs spread in last ten road games; they visit defensively-stout Detroit, which is struggling on offense with star WR Calvin Johnson hobbled.
6) Last three Nebraska-Northwestern games were decided by total of seven points; Wildcats collapsed at end of LY’s game, blowing big second half lead to Nebraska. Can they beat the Cornhuskers this year?
5) Dallas won its last five games; Murray has chance to be first RB ever to start season with seven 100+-yard games. Can Giants protect Eli? If not, this’ll be a long day for Big Blue.
4) Kentucky is improved, which is a good thing, seeing as they lost their last three visits to LSU by combined score of 118-7. Tigers are young and slowly getting better; you better get ‘em this year.
3) Carson Palmer leads the 4-1 Cardinals into Oakland, where he played in 2011-12. Rookie QB Carr played his best game in near-miss vs Chargers last week. This is a game the first-place Cardinals have to win, to stay ahead of favored 49ers/Seahawks.
2) Sure is a lot of drama around the Florida State program, kind of like UNLV’s old basketball teams; lot of drama, but they just keep on winning. Notre Dame gave up 43 points at home to North Carolina last week; what will Heisman Trophy winner Winston hang on them? What were the odds of a TE named O’Leary playing for FSU and not the Fighting Irish?
1) Patrick Willis won’t play when the 49ers visit Denver this week, bad news for a 49er defense playing on short week after their strong second half showing in St Louis. Broncos are 2-0 since their bye, scoring 72 points.
Thursday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL..........
32) Raiders—You start a rookie QB and before his career is five games old, you fire his head coach? How is this anything but incompetent management?
31) Jaguars—They finally covered a spread this week, so there’s that. Jags have actually played better since Bortles has been the QB.
30) Jets—By not cutting Michael Vick after he admitted to not being prepared to play, it appears to me they’ve given up the ship. Vick was supposed to be a mentor of sorts for Geno Smith, but now it is obvious he is just stealing money. If I owned the Jets, I'd clean house on December 29, the day after the season ends.
29) Rams—Just win, baby. You are what you are and the Rams are 1-4, despite having runs of 21-0/21-0/14-0 in their last three games. There is talent here, but not much maturity and the upcoming schedule is tough.
28) Titans—They beat Jacksonville at home by 2. With Charlie Whitehurst under center. In my fantasy league, the best available WRs are mostly Titans, because no one trusts their QB’s to get them the ball.
8) Cardinals—Guy like Bruce Arians almost never got his chance to be an NFL head coach. Now that he has it in his early 60’s, he is making the most out of it. He is 14-7 as coach of the Redbirds, in a tough division.
7) Patriots—Injury to Mayo is big blow to a defense; injury to Ridley means that Brady will have to throw more. Can his OL protect him enough?
6) Colts—Won last four games after an 0-2 start, but four games with Titans/Jags won’t hurt either. Has any team ever had a more seamless transition from an all-time great at QB (Manning-to-Luck)?
5) Bengals—They visit Indy this week, are 0-1-1 since their bye/3-0 start. Lose this week and that missed 36-yard FG at end of Carolina game is going to hurt more and more.
4) Eagles—Chip Kelly is good for the NFL; he’s making other coaches think differently, which makes the game more interesting. How was this guy an assistant coach at New Hampshire for so long?
3) Cowboys—Cue the mute buttons for Sunday night highlight shows, if Dallas wins. “The NFL is better when the Cowboys are good”; that was said on TV Sunday night and Jerry Jones didn’t say it, a guy on ESPN did. I want to puke, but that’s how people think.
2) Broncos—How much $$ do you think Peyton Manning is worth? If a journeyman NBA player like Steve Kerr can donate $1M to U of Arizona, how much money must a megastar like Manning be worth?
1) Chargers—Last NFL QB to wear a number in the 20’s? John Hadl, who was at his best as a Charger in late 60’s/early 70’s, throwing to Lance Alworth. Hadl was later Steve Young’s coach in the USFL with the LA Express.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) What we need on TV is Hard Knocks: Regular Season. How awesome would it have been to be a fly on the wall in the Rams’ film room when their coaches went over Janoris Jenkins’ horrific play at the end of the first half Monday night, turning a 14-3 lead into a tenuous 14-10 lead by allowing an 80-yard TD pass with 0:14 left in the half? Do coaches curse the player out? If so, does the player answer back? This would be great TV, but doubt we’ll ever see it. Too bad.
12) From Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com:
“The Rams are about three drives away from 4-1; replace those late-game interceptions by Austin Davis against the Cowboys and 49ers with scores, and sneak in one more big play late in the fourth quarter against the Eagles, and we’re talking about the Rams as a stunning sleeper team. The margin between wild success and routine disappointment is just that thin in the NFL.”
That goes for several other teams, too.
11) NFL Network should grab the reality show that Browns’ coach Mike Pettine and his father were on in 1999, when both were high school coaches in eastern Pennsylvania. It was early in the reality show era, so it is realistic and not played up at all. Would be more interesting seeing it now, with Pettine coaching one of the NFL’s surprise teams in his rookie year as a head coach.
10) In parts of Ohio, they don’t Trick or Treat on Fri-Sat-Sun, as not to interfere with football on the weekends. Seriously; they Trick or Treat on Thursdays if there is a football/Halloween conflict.
9) 1992 Chargers are only NFL team to start a year 0-4 and still make playoffs.
8) Calgary Flames (last playoffs ’09) and Edmonton Oilers (’06) both have very long NHL playoff droughts; too bad, because their fans love hockey so much, you’d wish those teams could be better.
7) NBA is experimenting with a 44:00 (as opposed to 48:00) game this week; if they went to a shorter game, would they discount tickets by the 8.3% they shortened the game? I think not. If anything, they should reduce the number of games, which would reduce travel, which is draining on players and reduces practice time, which curtails the quality of the product.
6) Buffalo Sabres are hosting the 2016 NHL Draft; I live five hours from Buffalo and there are casinos in Niagara Falls. That’s a potential vacation down the road.
5) Adirondack Flames are the new AHL affiliate of NHL’s Calgary Flames- they play in Glens Falls, Jimmer Fredette’s hometown. Their “A” logo is the same logo the parent Flames used when they played home games in Atlanta, before moving to Calgary, in 1980.
Sadly their mascot, an animated flame, got fired in the first month of the season for pretending to beat up a fireman. Get it? flames/fireman? No bueno.
4) Very interesting article on ESPN.com about rebounding in basketball, about how players/teams can maximize their rebounding efforts by understanding where missed shots are likely to wind up, depending on where the shot was taken from. Nothing will ever replace good ol’ rebounding instincts, but a close study of this stuff can help someone who is less instinctive.
3) Quick fact from the article if you didn’t click on the link: 80% of NBA rebounds land within eight feet of the basket. It seems obvious but teams are trying to find every edge to help them win games. This is good stuff.
2) Andrew Friedman is leaving Tampa Bay to become President of the Dodgers, which is big news and probably bad news for Don Mattingly. Will Friedman try to poach Joe Maddon from the Rays? Usually when a new guy takes charge, he brings in “his guys”. This will be very interesting to follow.
1) Fair question: Dodgers signing Friedman as club president begs the question: Did they make a run at Billy Beane first?
Tuesday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) TCU-Baylor game Saturday had 198 offensive plays; it was wildly entertaining. 15 NFL games this week had an average of 130.9 plays per game. More action in the college game, that much is undeniable. Fewer commercials, too.
12) Arizona Diamondbacks did smart thing, hired Chip Hale as its new manager; he's a sharp guy, was recently bench coach for the A's and Mets.
11) I may be late with this, but ESPN's E:60 ran an interesting show Monday on a wildly successful high school football coach in Alabama, whose personal life was completely messed up; he had six kids, three by his wife, three by his girlfriend.
The guy quit his job, couldn't get hired by anyone, until a high school in Georgia hired him and he turned the school's program around, but not before he had throat cancer and beat that, too. Show ends when his new team goes back to Alabama to play his former team. Anyway, if you see it on TV, its worth a watch.
10) Two side notes to the program: The guy was such a good coach, he interviewed with Nick Saban to become an assistant at Alabama. Also, the woman who hired him in Georgia had this great quote-- picture a 60-ish woman with a southern drawl:
"We want a coach who can win foot-balllllllll games." Tremendous.
9) Now that ESPN's Bob Ley grew his beard, he looks like the old actor Raymond Burr, who played Perry Mason and Ironside on successful old TV shows. .
8) In their last three games, Washington Redskins lost field position by 25-18-15 yards. You cannot win this way, no matter how good you are.
7) Speaking of the Redskins: before last night, the last time an NFL team scored a 75+-yard TD in last 2:00 of the first half was in 1994, when Heath Shuler threw one for the Redskins, one of only 15 career TD passes for the future congressman.
6) A bank in Ann Arbor, MI wouldn't take Columbus Day as a holiday, because:
"We will not be closed for Columbus Day today because Columbus is in Ohio."
Seriously, this was the Bank of Ann Arbor. Glad I don't work there.
5) Four San Francisco Giant pitchers gave up homers Sunday night; the last time that happened? Back in 2005, when the Giant catcher was....Mike Matheny.
4) Paid crowd for the Florida Panthers' NHL game in south Florida Monday was 7,311, a new franchise low. I refuse to believe an NHL game in Saskatoon, Quebec
City or Hamilton wouldn't draw twice that much. Am I wrong?
3) Hopefully Jimbo Fisher recruited a QB to play next season, because he'll be lucky if he has Jameis Winston under center for the rest of this season; no way will Winston still be in Tallahassee at this time next fall.
2) 19 primetime NFL games this season: over is 15-4 in those games.
1) If you own an NFL team and want to host a Super Bowl in your city, well, your team better be willing to give up a home game to play in London the next season- thats how the league office is extorting teams who want the cash cow of hosting the Super Bowl. Fewer and fewer teams want to go to London to play.
Monday's List of 13: Summing up a sports Sunday....
13) Broncos 31, Jets 17-- Bad beat #1 of the day: Aqib Talib ran a pick-6 back with 0:15 left to cover the spread for Denver, which had 101 penalty yards, compared to nine for the Jets. Denver was +2 in turnovers, outgained the Jets 359-204.
12) Browns 31, Steelers 10-- Cleveland beat Pitt for just third time in last 23 tries, but lost center Alex Mack (broken leg) for season. Steelers didn't score a TD on any of its three red zone drives. Browns averaged 11.7 yards per pass attempt.
11) Titans 16, Jaguars 14-- Tennessee was outgained by 89 yards, but was +2 in turnovers, had 15-yard edge in field position. Steve Beuerlein broadcast the game; he blasted Jags' coach Gus Bradley's replay challenges; don't get lot of that on network TV. Jacksonville is 0-6; this was their first cover this season.
10) Bears 27, Falcons 13-- Atlanta couldn't stop the Bears on third down in second half, once they tied game 13-13; Chicago rang up 478 yards, won field position for first time this year. Falcons are now 0-4 when they score less than 37 points.
9) Packers 27, Dolphins 24-- Green Bay drove 60 yards in 2:01, scored winning TD with 0:03 left, winning its third straight game. Pack kicked FG to make it 24-20 with 4:09 left; on ensuing drive, Miami threw ball four times, ran it three, giving ball back to Aaron Rodgers with 2:04 left.
8) Lions 17, Vikings 3-- Detroit won in Twin Cities for just second time in last 17 visits, sacking Bridgewater eight times, picking him off three more, holding Vikings to 212 yards. Teams conbined to convert 4 of 27 on third down; Stafford was only 1-9 on passes that went more than ten yards downfield.
7) Panthers 37, Bengals 37-- Each team kicked FG in OT, then Nugent missed from 36 yards on last play of game, as Panthers got first tie in franchise history. Bengals had 119 penalty yards; teams combined to get eight first downs via penalty, tied for second-most in any NFL game this season.
6) Patriots 37, Bills 22-- Brady passed for 361 yards, four TDs; NE was 7-15 on third down, +3 in turnovers, won field position by 12 yards as they beat the Bills for 26th time in last 28 meetings. Bills' defenders didn't carry Jim Schwartz off the field this week, the way they did last week in Detroit. Go figure.
5) Ravens 48, Buccaaneers 17-- Flacco had five TD passes with 13:57 left in half; last QB to throw six TD passes in first half was Daryle Lamonica in '69, which was an AFL game but records got absorbed by merger. 60,041 tickets were sold for this mismatch; game was 38-0 at half. A refund is in order.
4) Chargers 31, Raiders 28-- Rookie Carr threw for 283 yards, four TDs despite numerous drops. San Diego scored 10 points in last 5:52 to pull this game out- they lost field position by 10 yards. NFL teams that lost field position by 10+ yards this season are now 1-31.
3) Cowboys 30, Seahawks 23-- Seattle led 10-0 on blocked punt/TD; its only other TD was on 14-yard drive, as Dallas outgained them 401-206, ran ball for 162 yards, converted 10-17 on 3rd down. TV executives are popping champagne at thought of Dallas being a contender. Good way to keep public's focus on the field.
2) Cardinals 30, Redskins 20-- Washington had ball five times in 4th quarter; four turnovers and a TD. You turn ball over four times in a quarter, you lose. You throw a pick-6 with 0:12 left down 23-20, you don't beat the spread either. This was bad beat of the day #2; if you had a Denver/Arizona parlay, the gods liked you today.
1) Eagles 27, Giants 0-- Very bad night for the Giants: Philly played its A-game here, and Victor Cruz tore his patellar tendon; in next five games, Giants play Dallas (twice) and Colts-49ers-Seattle. Very tough. Through six weeks, home favorites are now 8-10 vs spread in divisional games. .
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) USC 28, Arizona 26-- Pressure does strange things to people; Arizona's kicker shanked a 36-yard FG with 0:13 left, saving USC from a monumental collapse and its third loss of the year. Arizona scored a TD but missed on 2-point play, before recovering an onside kick that set up the final sequence.
12) Baylor 61, TCU 58-- Horned Frogs led 58-37 with 11:38 left but lost, as Petty passed for 510 yards and six TDs to keep Baylor unbeaten. Bears gained 782 total yards in this game- only time they led was at final gun.
11) Minnesota 24, Northwestern 17-- Wildcats tied game with 7:32 left, Gophers ran ensuing kick back for winning TD.
Oklahoma State 27, Kansas 20-- Jayhawks tied game with 6:55 left, Cowboys ran the ensuing kickoff back for winning TD.
10) Oklahoma 31, Texas 26-- Sooners led 17-13 at half despite being outgained by Texas, 278-29- they scored TDs on defense/special teams.Teams are now 1-57 this season when they're outgained by 200+ yards in first half. Texas is 1-5, their worst start since 1956, the year before Darrell Royal took over.
9) Oregon 42, UCLA 30-- Misleading final score, as Bruins scored last 20 points; Ducks averaged over six yards a rush. Oregon goes for two after their first TD of almost every game-- don't teams know this? It always seems to work. .
8) Alabana 14, Arkansas 13-- Old-time football. Teams huddled and played solid defense. Razorbacks outgained Bama by 107 yards, but missed PAT. Nick Saban did not look terribly happy with his offens; actually, he looked mad, even angrier than usual.
7) Washington Wizards lost Bradley Beal for 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist.
6) Clemson 23, Louisville 17-- Teams combined to convert 3 of 33 on third down; Tigers lost QB Watson (broken hand), but scored TDs on defense, special teams.
5) Marshall 49, Middle Tennessee 24-- Rakeem Cato threw TD pass in his 38th straight game, tying Russell Wilson's I-A record. Marshall lost to MTSU on last play of game last year, but had no such problem this year- they're very good.
4) Royals 6, Orioles 4-- KC won its last four road games in its final at-bat; in 12 of the 19 playoff games so far, the winning run scored from 7th inning on.
3) West Virginia 37, Texas Tech 34-- Wild day in Big X; Mountaineers scored 17 points in last 5:55, to beat Tech squad that had scored 86 points in winning last two series games. Mountaineers converted 12-22 on third down.
2) LSU 30, Florida 27-- Week of distractions ended badly for Gators. LSU gutted out a road win a week after losing 41-7 at Auburn, kicking a 50-yard FG with 0:03 left. At least Florida gets its freshman QB Harris back this week, but they dropped a TD pass that would've put them up 31-27 with 2:00 left- costly drop.
1) Ole Miss 35, Texas A&M 20-- Impressive showing by Rebels, who dismantled Aggies in front of the biggest crowd in SEC history. Ole Miss scored two defensive TDs, QB Wallace ran for couple of key first downs when Aggies threatened to make game close in third quarter.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Michael Vick admitted this week that he was unprepared to play against the Chargers Sunday; he is 34, apparently stealing money as a backup QB, just cashing checks as he tries to replenish the fortune he squandered due to his off-field problems.
How can the Jets possibly keep him? He’s a lousy example for Geno Smith, which is the main reason they should cut his ass, bring their practice squad QB in as the backup, then sign another QB to the practice squad. I mean its October 11 and guys have quit on the season already? Yikes.
12) Somebody had a screenshot of Jon Gruden’s yearbook from his college days at Dayton. One of his career goals: “To be the head (football) coach at Michigan”. In a few short weeks, one phone call might get that done.
11) Cavaliers-Heat don’t play for real until Christmas, but they’re playing an exhibition game this weekend, in Brazil. You get the idea the NBA uses October as a time to sell a lot of jerseys/t-shirts overseas by having teams go there in person.
10) Dicey situation for the Syracuse football program, which demoted its offensive coordinator this week. Problem with that is, the guy is also the recruiting coordinator, so you’ve basically told your recruiting coordinator to go look for another job while he is, you know….still coordinating your recruiting, which is the lifeline of any program. Staff meetings must be a lot of fun there these days.
9) Speaking of Syracuse, wonder what Bills’ head coach (former Syracuse coach) Doug Marrone thought of his players carrying their defensive coordinator off the field on their shoulders after the win in Detroit last week? In Week 5? I know Jim Schwartz used to coach the Lions, but not like he got a raw deal there or anything.
8) Giants won three of four games against the Nationals in the NLDS, despite scoring three or less runs in all four games. Memo to Theo Epstein: pitching is still most important element in baseball, not stockpiling minor league shortstops.
7) Speaking of the Giants, will the wild pitch Washington threw on the intentional walk Tuesday have an impact on baseball’s wanting to institute a pitchless intentional walk? It technically wasn’t a wild pitch, since Posey got thrown out at the plate, but it was one of the most interesting plays of the whole game.
6) Former Northwestern/Colorado coach Gary Barnett threw his hat in the ring for the vacant Kansas job; Barnett was the coach who revived the Northwestern program when it had been a joke for years—current Wildcat coach Pat Fitzgerald played linebacker for the Rose Bowl team Barnett coached.
But Kansas? No way Barnett gets that job; Jayhawks ain’t hiring a Missouri alum to be their coach, and Barnett went to college in Columbia.
5) Colts owner Jim Irsay’s suspension ended after Thursday night’s game in Houston, but what exactly does a team owner do anyway? Will Irsay start tweeting again? Will he bring donuts in? Sit in coach’s meetings? You wonder if his absence for six games had any tangible impact at all.
4) Former Florida Gulf Coast big man Eric McKnight wanted to transfer to Tennessee to play as a graduate student for new coach Donnie Tyndall, but the admissions people at Tennessee put the kibosh on him, for whatever reason; there are varying reports of why he left FGCU and there are some doubts if he’s good enough to make a difference at Tennessee anyway.
McKnight has surfaced at Long Beach State, where he will definitely help plug the hole in the middle of the 49ers’ defense in the Big West, which is way closer to Atlantic Sun’s level of play than the SEC is.
3) Definitely a pleasure to watch Warriors-Clippers the other night and hear the friendly voice of Ralph Lawler, who does Clipper games with Mike Smith. Lawler suffered for a long time broadcasting terrible Clipper teams; its good to hear him have some fun broadcasting these days.
2) Media picks/chooses who they praise and who they trash. New Marquette coach Steve Wojciehowski signed a top recruit this week, at least in part because he had signed the kid’s older brother as a transfer from Minnesota earlier this summer. It is definitely legal, but in an ethical gray area.
If John Calipari or Scott Drew does that, the media trashes them and implies all kinds of chicanery; a Dukie does it, then he’s a brilliant recruiter who knows how to exploit the rules to his advantage. Go figure.
1) Thru the first five weeks of the NFL season, 15 touchdowns had been called back by penalty, compared to 11 at this time last year. Doesn’t seem like much of a difference, four, but it is a 36.4% increase, which is a lot.
NFL is ridiculously over-officiated, the refs have become potential TV stars; their jobs are so micro-managed it has to be very difficult to do the job well. Whatever happened to the old axiom that the best officials are the ones you never notice?
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.......
13) Patriots-Bills play for first place in AFC East; when was last time Buffalo was playing for first place any time after Week 2?
12) Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has a tough job, taking his Rebels to Texas A&M the week after they upset Alabama and people took the goalposts down Main Street. Peaks and valleys, people.
11) Home team won all five Atlanta games so far this season; Falcons are 2-0 at home. Devin Hester welcomes his old team, the Bears to the Georgia Dome Sunday, after Chicago fumbled away their last game, at Carolina.
10) Underdogs are 8-1 vs spread in last nine USC-Arizona games, with last seven all decided by 7 or less points. Trojans visit Tucson this week; RichRod has his Wildcats scoring lot of points.
9) Steelers visit Cleveland in first rematch of NFL season; every Browns game was decided in last 1:09 of play- they’ve been most interesting team in NFL so far.
8) Auburn-Miss State is suddenly a game with national implications, after State trounced Texas A&M last week. Gus Malzahn’s offense has taken the college game by storm; not too long ago he was a high school coach in Arkansas.
7) ALCS features a Showalter-Yost manager mismatch that’s like comparing Kate Upton to Roseanne Barr; not close. Players win games, but hard to believe Orioles don’t have a significant edge in strategy in this 7-game series.
6) Oregon-UCLA was a marquee matchup for FOX until both teams got beat last week; still a big game in Pac-12. Wasn’t impressed by Duck QB Mariota last week; Arizona defender just took ball out of his hand on last drive last week- that should never happen.
5) 4-1 Cowboys had to use silent count at home last week, with lot of Houston fans in their stadium; now they’ll really have to use it, playing in raucous Seattle stadium, where Seahawks covered 14 of last 19 home games. Can Dallas run ball against that defense?
4) Alabama bludgeoned Arkansas 52-0 in each of last two meetings; Razorbacks are better this year, and Crimson Tide is off loss at Ole Miss. Harder for young QBs to excel on road; can Bielema get a statement for his rebuilding Hogs here?
3) Good Sunday night game, Giants-Eagles. Philly allowed 27+ points in each of last four games, but they’re still 4-1. Giants won last three games, scoring 30+ points in all three games- rumors of Coughlin’s demise have apparently been exaggerated.
2) Texas Tech already fired its defensive coordinator this year, now West Virginia comes to Lubbock with its high-powered attack. None of West Virginia's road trips are short; this is a game they need to win.
1) Rams are honoring ’99 Super Bowl champs Monday night, with rival 49ers in town. Young St Louis team has to learn how to win; their talent level isn’t deficient anymore, but their maturity level is. 49ers have only two TDs on last eight red zone drives.
Thursday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in the NFL....
32) Raiders—When you have a ceremony on October 7 to symbolically bury a football during practice, to signal the season is starting over, well you get #32 on this list. If interim coach Tony Sparano wants this job full-time, he better get the most out of young QB Carr.
31) Jaguars—Have been better the last two weeks, but they’re 0-5 against the spread and winless on the field. Have a shot this week against Tennessee.
30) Titans—Speaking of which, they’ve lost four games in row, became first-ever home team to lose a game they led by 25+ points. Locker is hurt, Whitehurst isn’t the answer at QB. Will they play LSU rookie Mettenberger?
29) Jets— Rough week for OC Mornhinweg; his offense got blanked in San Diego, his son got beat up by a Florida Gator teammate after he accused the teammate of swiping a pair of cleats. Broncos come to town this week; think Geno can match points with that offense?
28) Rams-- Led 21-0 in first half of Game 3, lost 34-31. Trailed 34-7 in Game 4, lost 34-28. Haven’t had a winning season since they cut Kurt Warner 11 years ago. The Kurse of Kurt. He’ll be in the building Monday night when the ’99 champs are honored. Would be a good time to retire number 13, no?
8) 49ers—Survived visit from old friend Alex Smith, despite shaky performance in red zone. Slowly coming around.
7) Cowboys—Romo had to use silent count in his home stadium last week, because so many Texans fans bought up tickets. Good practice for this week’s visit to Seattle.
6) Bengals—Ran into a buzzsaw last week in Foxboro, they need to put it behind them and beat the Panthers this week. That’s what good teams do.
5) Patriots—You think Brady throws stuff at his TV every time Wes Welker catches a pass in Denver? Why don’t the Pats have better receivers?
4) Eagles—Offense isn’t same as it was last year; they miss DeSean Jackson, but 4-1 is 4-1 and only loss was at San Francisco. Kelly is a coaching pioneer; other teams are starting to mimic some of the unique stuff his teams do.
3) Broncos—I’d like to see an ESPN piece where they find Dick Butkus, Ronnie Lott and Jack Lambert, great defensive players. Ask them what their reaction would be if their team was losing 41-20 with 2:00 left and starting QB of the other team threw a pass on the first play after 2:00 warning. Curious what they would say.
2) Seahawks—Can’t remember the same player having three TDs called back by penalties in the same game, the way Percy Harvin did Monday night. Refs held Washington in the game for a long time, but Seattle was still good enough to win and cover the spread.
1) Chargers—Spanking teams right now and Rivers is on top of his game, despite using three different centers in five games and with several RBs out hurt. AFC West is going to be interesting.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Must’ve been fun to be in Oxford, MS Saturday night, especially when they paraded the goal posts from the football field down Main Street after Ole Miss beat Alabama. Rebels go to Texas A&M Saturday after Aggies got drilled in Starkville; tough job for Ole Miss coaches to get ready for that game after such a big win.
12) Hugh Freeze is the Ole Miss football coach; had forgotten that he was the high school coach in book/movie The Blind Side. Read last night that Ole Miss got a new basketball practice facility; the father in The Blind Side, Sean Touhy, played PG for Ole Miss and does some TV work for the Memphis Grizzlies. He helped fund the practice facility. It’s a small world in some of these college communities.
11) I like to watch ESPN and FOX on Thursday/Friday to get insights on the week’s college games, but I was disappointed listening to Brian Griese/Mark May in the studio last week, when May picked LSU to beat Auburn and Griese laughed, telling the host “You can tell when he doesn’t believe one of his picks” then explained how. If guys are going on TV and making up stuff just so the two experts disagree for the sake of argument, then they’re wasting my time. I want honest opinions, not contrived “disagreements”. Not good.
10) Tom Brady is 3-2 in Super Bowls; the five games were decided by a total of 16 points.
9) There are five D-I basketball teams who have been D-I for long time and have yet to play in an NCAA tournament: Army, Citadel, Northwestern, St Francis (NY), and William & Mary.
8) Russell Wilson ran ball for 122 yards Monday night, most ever by a QB in the 699-game history of Monday Night Football. Seattle has a huge edge with its salary cap, not having to pay Wilson yet; they have a big-time QB making less than $1M. That’s going to change after this season.
7) Why are Old Dominion and Rice in the same conference? Texas Tech and West Virginia? Maryland and Nebraska? Tulane and UConn? How do kids learn geography these days?
6) They’re adding 5-on-5 scrimmages to the NBA Draft Combine next spring. My question is this: How could you have a combine without watching guys play 5-on-5 basketball? What genius came up with that idea? Oy. At least it is fixed now.
5) There are 15 basketball teams in the ACC this winter, which is too many; an odd number is untenable. 7 of those 15 teams used to play in the Big East. An ACC without Maryland is just weird.
4) NL playoff games are on FOX Sports 1, a station not everyone gets. Guy I know is a Dodger fan and has to go out to watch the games. What is baseball thinking about hiding their playoff games? Does partnering with FOX help baseball?
3) FOX actually has a camera imbedded in the ground in front of home plate in the Dodger series, in fair territory. It provides some interesting shots; wonder how much it costs if the camera gets hit by a ball or stepped on and breaks?
2) When John Lackey got traded to St Louis, he wanted to wear number 41, but reliever Pat Neshek already had the number. Negotiations ensued, with Lackey finally getting #41, and Neshek getting a Babe Ruth-autographed baseball.
That has to be worth some serious money. Well, serious money for me, maybe not for them.
1) If you care about such things, 13 of 16 NFL primetime games have gone over the total so far this season.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Friend of mine who played a ton of football in his life had this comment about Peyton Manning throwing the ball with a 41-20 lead at the 2:00 warning Sunday: “If you don’t like it, play harder.” I defer to his opinion, seeing as he knows more football than anyone I know, and is an Arizona Cardinal fan.
12) Broncos saved $3.25M on next year’s salary cap by dumping kicker Prater now; they also had to give Giants a 7th-round draft pick for Brandon McManus, their new kicker. Had they cut McManus, Giants would’ve gotten bupkus, but they dealt McManus to Denver because they thought the Eagles were going to sign him if he was available and they didn’t want that.
11) Detroit Lions are 4-12 on field goals this year (0-6 from 40-49 yards) and they play home games in a dome; they should’ve signed Prater before this even gets posted. We’ll see.
10) Cal 60, Washington State 59— Wazzu QB Connor Halliday was 49-74 for a I-A record 734 yards passing late Saturday, but the Coogs lost when they missed a 19-yard FG at the gun. How do you gain over 800 yards in regulation and lose?
Cal ran two kicks bad for TDs in this game; Washington State fired its special teams coach on Monday- the defensive coordinator was spared.
9) Florida 10, Tennessee 9—This game was painful to watch, like watching two tired, drunken fighters try to land a haymaker on the other. Tennessee has an excuse, they’re a very young team. Florida is just ugly to watch and now that QB Murphy has been accused in an off-field incident, they might be even worse moving forward. SEC is not deep at all at quarterback.
8) Thru five games, Eagles have 11 offensive TDs and seven return TDs. Lot of teams don’t get seven return TDs in an entire season. Philly blocked punt for a TD on opponents’ first possession in each of their last two games.
7) This from Manish Mehta of New York Daily News, written before Sunday’s debacle in San Diego:
“(Jets GM John) Idzik works under rolling deadlines, apparently immune or oblivious to the realities of frustrated PSL owners doling out big money for a diminished product. The Jets have the sixth-highest average non-premium ticket price in the NFL ($105.66), 25% more than the league average ($84.43), according to teammarketingreport.com, yet the team has the lowest cash payroll ($95.2 million), according to spotrac.com.”
6) Syracuse lost its last three games to Maryland-Notre Dame-Louisville, so a scapegoat had to be found; it is OC George McDonald, who is now former OC. Tim Lester takes his place calling plays; good luck there, with starting QB Terrel Hunt now out 4-6 weeks with a broken leg.
5) Mike Scifres has been the Chargers’ punter for 12 years now; he’s appeared in 171 career games. He punted in college at Western Illinois, but when he was in high school in Louisiana, he was his team’s kicker, but not its punter.
How many NFL punters didn’t punt in high school? His team’s punter by the way, was future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.
4) Six QB’s were drafted ahead of Tom Brady in 2000. Six. Check the table up above for details, but if you think scouting/drafting is an exact science, think again.
3) It should be noted that when the 49ers drafted Joe Montana in the 3rd round in 1979, Bill Walsh preferred his old Stanford QB Steve Dils to Montana. 49er scouting guru Vinny Cerrano got the last word, though and Niners drafted Montana. Lucky for them.
2) Yusmiero Petit has had an interesting season; not only was he the winning pitcher in the 2nd-ever 18-inning playoff game (throwing 6.1 scoreless innings) he also set a major league record earlier this summer when he retired 47 consecutive batters, an obscure but very cool record.
1) So who knew that through five weeks, the Cleveland Browns would be the NFL’s most interesting team? All four of their games have seen winning points score in the last 1:09 of the game and all without Johnny Manziel doing one significant thing, other than congratulating his teammates. And making Snickers commercials.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday.....
13) Panthers 31, Bears 24-- Chicago turned ball over on its last three possessions, all inside its own 35, as they blew a 21-7 lead, with 21 of 31 Carolina points coming in last 5:00 of each half. Panthers also ran a punt back for a TD.
12) Browns 29, Titans 28-- Cleveland won after trailing 28-3; they scored first TD with 0:12 left in first half, starting biggest comeback ever by an NFL road team. All three Browns' games have been decided in last 1:09. Jake Locker got hurt, Tennessee had only one QB for rest of the game. NFL teams need to be able to dress a 3rd QB for every game, for emergencies-- would make the game better.
Titans went for it on 4th-and-1 from their own 44 with 3:08 left, when they led by six points. With a backup QB who doesn't run. It didn't turn out well.
11) Eagles 34, Rams 28-- Jeff Fisher inherited a dumpster fire from his incompetent predecessor; in 2+ years since, he's upgraded the talent base, but now his team is so young, they constantly make stupid mistakes and shoot themselves in the foot. So far this season, Rams have 305 penalty yards; their opponents have 105.
10) Giants 30, Falcons 20-- Matt Ryan has now lost his last nine outdoor games; he was 2-of-8 for 44 yards and an interception on throws 15+ yards downfield, no bueno. Giants have won three in row after an 0-2 start, but Manning still looks uncomfortable moving out of pocket. Big game in Philly Thursday.
9) Saints 37, Buccaneers 31 OT-- Home side won all five Saint games so far; Bucs led 31-20 with 10:00 left, but Brees threw for 371 yards and Tampa had 113 yards in penalties. Saints ran 86 plays for 511 yards; it is very rare for an NFL team to have 86 snaps in one game.
8) Cowboys 20, Texans 17 OT-- Dallas ran the ball on 22 of 32 first down plays in this game, with Murray gaining 93 of his 136 yards on 1st down. Underdogs are now 26-8 vs spread in Cowboy home games in Garrett era; he is 6-21 as a home favorite. TV networks have to be thrilled that public favorite Cowboys are 4-1.
7) Bills 17, Lions 14-- Buffalo players carried DC Schwartz (former Lion HC) off on shoulders after this win; Lions were just 1-11 on 3rd down, were outgained by 80 yards in Orton's first start as Buffalo QB. Detroit led 14-0 early after a defensive TD, but offense was held scoreless by Schwartz' defense for last three quarters, due to three missed FGs by Detroit kicker Henery, who might not be the kicker by the time you read this.
6) Colts 20, Ravens 13-- Indy outgained Ravens 422-287, Baltimore was just 1-11 on third down. Score could've been bigger had Colts not turned ball over twice in red zone- they had 12-yard edge in field position. Thru first four weeks, there had been 90 defensive holding calls; thru four weeks in 2013, there had been 38.
5) Steelers 17, Jaguars 9-- Pittsburgh had been 0-8 vs spread in last eight tries as road favorite of 6+ points; McCain's pick-6 with 11:32 left provided final margin of victory.
Jaguars are now 0-5 vs spread, but they have showed some life in last two games. Hard to win playing a rookie QB.
4) Broncos 41, Cardinals 20-- Arizona rookie QB Thomas made NFL debut; weird stat line, going 1-8 passing, with only completion an 81-yard TD to Ellington. Now Arizona could be down to #3 QB, and they've already had their bye. You knew the bye would help Denver, now that Welker is back on board.
3) 49ers 22, Chiefs 17-- Candlestick was tough place to kick, but Dawson booted five FGs, as Levi's Field is more kicker-friendly. as Niners pulled off a fake punt on the drive where they went ahead 17-16. When a team kicks five FGs it means their offense is struggling in red zone.
2) Chargers 31, Jets 0-- Total yardage: 439-151. Jets' longest play was 13 yards; they played 34-year Vick at QB in second half. Talk radio in NYC should be lot of fun Monday. San Diego might be best team in NFL so far. If I owned the Jets, I'd ask my GM why we never have good receivers, as in, ever?
1) Patriots 43, Bengals 17-- Cincinnati was in wrong place at wrong time Sunday; this will be best game Pats play all year. NE ran ball for 220 yards; Bengals were 0-7 on third down, lost three fumbles. If they play in January, Bengals will win.
Sunday's List of 13: Summarizing a super sports Saturday.......
Damn, what a day.........
13) This week was the second time ever (Nov 4, 1990 was the other), that four of the country's top six teams lost in the same week. Back then, Virginia was #1, Illinois was #5. Times have changed.
12) Ole Miss 23, Alabama 17-- Crimson Tide scored a defensive TD with 0:42 left in first half to take a 14-3 lead; Ole Miss looked dead at that point, but they rallied to score two TDs in last 5:30 for the win. Ole Miss and Miss State had never both been 4-0 in the same season- now they're both 5-0.
11) TCU 37, Oklahoma 33-- Horned Frogs survived three turnovers, 12 penalties to gets its biggest win since joining the Big X. TCU led 14-0 early; winning TD was an INT return for a TD with 14:12 left. Frogs converted 10 of 18 on third down.
10) Mississippi State 48, Texas A&M 31-- Probably best sports day in history of the Magnolia State; Bulldogs ran ball for 289 yards, passed for 270. Only 11 of 77 plays that State ran came on third down. SEC is a meat grinder.
9) Notre Dame 17, Stanford 14-- Irish drove 65 yards in nine plays in 2:00 in the rain to pull this game out, scoring winning TD with 1:10 left. Penalties in this game: Stanford: 9-66. Notre Dame: 1-10. Purely a coincidence, I'm sure.
8) Auburn 41, LSU 7-- Auburn gained 566 yards and crushed an LSU team that is deficient at QB right now. Two of the previous three teams to beat LSU by at least 21 points won the national championship: Florida in '08, Alabama in '11.
7) Giants 2, Nationals 1 (18)-- Rookie manager Matt Williams took Zimmerman out with two out in 9th inning, when he was pitching a 3-hit shutout but after he walked a hitter, with Buster Posey coming up. Zimmerman had retired 20 batters in a row before the walk. 3.5 hours later, Washington lost and heads west down two games to none.
Side note: There have been two 18-inning games in playoff history; Tim Hudson started both of them, the other coming in 2005.
6) Miami O 42, UMass 41-- Minutemen led 41-21 at halftime, but didn't score in the second half and lost to a Red Hawks squad that had lost 21 games in a row. Oy.
5) Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 14-- Badgers have inexplicably lost their last four visits to Evanston. Badgers had 12 completions, four picks. Hard to win when your turnover ratio is -4. Whatever Northwestern pays Pat Fitzgerald, it ain't enough.
4) Kentucky 45, South Carolina 38-- Second week in row Gamecocks lost in 4th quarter after they led by two TDs in last 10:00. Carolina had 32 first downs, gained 500 yards and lost. Kentucky's defense scored the winning TD. South Carolina and Michigan should be matched up in the worst bowl game in December.
3) Utah 30, UCLA 28-- Utes sacked Brett Hundley 10 times, scored winning points with 0:34 left as a wacky Saturday ended with the Bruins losing in the Rose Bowl, a week after Utah lost to Washington State as a 14-point favorite. I spend a lot of my time researching this stuff and on Sunday mornings, much of it makes no sense.
2) Utah State 35, BYU 20 (Friday)-- BYU lost QB Hill for year (broken leg), as the Aggies beat BYU for just the second time in last 14 meetings. State QB Garretson is grandson of former NBA ref Darrell Garretson, nephew of ref Ron Garretson.
1) Arizona State 38, USC 34-- ASU QB Mike Bercovici will probably never play in the NFL; hell, if Taylor Kelly hadn't gotten hurt, he may never have started a college game, but Bercovici was 27-45 for 510 yards against USC in the Coliseum, passing for two TDs in the last 2:43, as ASU stunned the Trojans on a 46-yard TD pass on the last play of the game. Good for him.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Arizona 31, Oregon 24—Big upset late Thursday night, shakes up the college football picture. Rich Rodriguez is a very good coach, who like Brady Hoke now, got run out of Michigan after a fairly short tenure, which is Arizona’s gain. His teams score a lot of points and they win.
This I will never forget and it says a lot about RichRod: he worked on a studio show at CBS College Sports after he got canned at Michigan. He is a good natured guy on air, but apparently was so beloved by his broadcast partners that when he left for Arizona, the first show they did without him, they left his chair empty on set during the show, part of which was a lengthy interview with him from Tucson.
You never see anything like that on TV. Quite to a tribute to someone they obviously hold in very high esteem.
12) This is graphic evidence that the Patriots are struggling on offense: On first drive of each half this season, eight drives, New England has run a total of 28 plays for 65 yards, with no points scored. No bueno.
11) Average number of replay challenges per team this baseball season: 34.4. Cubs (57) challenged the most plays, Oakland (26) challenged the least.
10) Thursday night NFL scores since Week 2: 26-6, 56-14, 45-14, 42-10. Football was not meant to be played on four days’ rest. If they insist on playing Thursday games, NFL should make it so teams coming off a bye play on Thursday, to help make their product more watchable. If I turn an NFL game off to watch a Central Florida-Houston college game, their product has a problem.
9) I got the IPhone6 Thursday; its very thin, lot lighter, much bigger screen. Apple Store is always an experience; I was in line (yes they still have lines!!!) behind the wife of a guy I played Little League with. Small world. Apple employees have always been nothing but nice to me and they’re very smart and helpful.
8) Good news: ESPN signed Dick Vitale thru 2017.
Bad news: ESPN signed Jay Bilas thru 2023.
More good news: My TV has a mute button.
7) Speaking of ESPN, they signed Jim Calhoun as a game analyst; he could become college hoop’s version of Ozzie Guillen, someone who has good stuff to say but you can’t understand a damn word he says.
6) Red Sox players got roughly $307K per man last year when they won the World Series. For guys who make the minimum salary, that’s a lot of money. To Clayton Kershaw or Albert Pujols? Not so much.
5) Speaking of which, 12 of the 25 guys on the Angels’ ALDS roster spent some time at AAA Salt Lake City this season. That surprised me.
4) Butler basketball coach Brandon Miller took a medical leave of absence this week; we hope he feels better soon and gets back on the bench. Butler’s upward move from the Horizon to the Big East hasn’t worked well, either for the school or the league.
3) Obscure stat of the day: Rod Smith holds the NFL record (849) for receptions by a player who wasn’t drafted. Wes Welker (847) figures to pass him this weekend. Welker wasn’t drafted, but how many guys like Welker (Decker, Amendola, Edelman) are on NFL rosters because they remind scouts of Welker?
2) Underrated bad job: window washer. You go up on this scaffolding, sometimes pretty high and wash windows on outside of tall buildings. It gets windier sometimes the higher you get and there’s not a lot of protection up there. Was watching guys do that the other day and I thanked the good Lord that wasn’t me up there.
1) Detroit Lions are leading the NFL in defense; last time the Lions led the NFL in defense for a whole season was 1962.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend....
13) Alex Smith was dumped by San Francisco after going 19-5-1 as starting QB in 2011-12; now he returns to he Bay Area as QB of the resurgent Chiefs. You gotta believe this game means an awful lot to Smith, more than a normal game.
12) Alabama has treated Ole Miss like a piñata for years, but now ESPN Gameday will be in Oxford Saturday and Rebels think they’ve got a shot to win the SEC West for the first time. We’ll see about that.
11) Lions fired Jim Schwartz after last season; now he returns to Motor City as the Buffalo DC; much like Alex Smith, think this game means extra to him? Curious to see how Buffalo's defense works to contain Matthew Stafford's passing game.
10) Nebraska-Michigan State is an early big game in the Big 14; Spartans’ rise to prominence has coincided with Michigan spiraling into mediocrity. Good road test for the Cornhuskers.
9) Feel strongly that we’ll see the Patriots’ best effort Sunday vs Cincinnati; now it is debatable what that best effort will be- they looked so slow Monday night in Kansas City. Bengals are a road favorite in Foxboro in Week 5? Takes a leap of faith to back the Patriots, but they’ve earned that; will be interesting game to watch.
8) LSU is a 9-point dog at Auburn; the SEC West is totally loaded, every team is good. Not sure LSU is mature enough at QB to get this road win.
7) College basketball practice begins this weekend; we’ve started preparation for the season, with games starting in about five weeks.
6) Falcons’ defense has been terrible in their two road losses; now they visit Giant team that had 10 days to prepare for this after two strong efforts that evened their record at 2-2.
5) Haven’t heard much from TCU since they joined the Big X; small fish in big ponds don’t get noticed as much. Oklahoma visits Fort Worth this weekend; good chance for the Horned Frogs to get noticed.
4) Unbeaten Cardinals are 7-point dog in Denver, where they’re winless in four trips. Both sides are coming off byes. Doesn’t sound good for Carson Palmer’s arm; he was going to a different doctor for tests on it this week.
3) 3-1 Houston visits 3-1 Dallas, in battle of Texas. Cowboys have been running ball well; not sure how healthy Arian Foster or Andre Johnson are, which hamstrings the Houston offense. When will Ryan Mallett become the Houston QB?
2) Baseball playoffs have four series going on this weekend; the two AL series have managing mismatches, as Showalter has edge over Detroit’s rookie manager Ausmus, and Scioscia is light years better than Ned Yost as a skipper. Players still decide the outcome, but having en edge on the bench doesn’t hurt.
1) Redskins turned ball over six times in their last game, a horrible home loss to the Giants; now the defending champ Seahawks come to town with a better defense. Kirk Cousins better step up his game, or else. As for the proposed FCC ban on the name “Redskins” , whatever happened to free speech in this country?
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) For the record, I think one-game Wild Card thing in baseball is a great idea; there has to be an advantage for winning the division, and this provides it. The Wild Card itself helps keep September a relevant month, so all in all, they’ve improved the game this way.
12) That said, MLB needs to be careful about making rule changes to speed up the game; media whiners have too loud a voice in all this. I love watching baseball, don’t want to see the game screwed up just to chop 8-10 minutes off the average game.
Limiting visits to the mound would be an excellent step; having less TV commercials would be even better, but that has no chance of happening. The pitchless intentional walk won’t shorten a game by very much.
The playoff game on Tuesday night was an exciting, thrilling contest with great meaning; I doubt anyone complained that it took a long time to play.
11) Jon Gruden will have his pick of coaching jobs if/when he decides to get back in; if you were him, would the Raiders’ job be the one you chose? Me either.
10) NBA guard Nate Robinson is opening a chicken ‘n waffles restaurant in Seattle; I’ve never had chicken and waffles at the same time, but since I like both of them, they would be good together, right? Would have to keep the maple syrup away from the chicken, though.
9) Clippers-Nuggets have an exhibition game at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in a couple weeks; I've been to one of those preseason games in Vegas and the crowd is almost as fun to watch as the game, especially with the Clippers having some high profile stars on their team.
8) The more you read about the NBA, the more you realize Doc Rivers is a players’ coach, sometimes cancelling practice during the season because he thinks players would be better off with fresher legs than more practice.
Now he’s having training camp in Las Vegas; couldn’t see Hubie Brown or Gregg Popovich having his training camp in Las Vegas.
7) No major league ballclub won or lost 100+ games this season, only the 4th time that’s happened in the last fifty years.
6) Apparently Lebron James and Mike Miller are good buddies and Lebron wasn’t happy when the Heat cut Miller last year, even though they saved $17M in luxury taxes by doing so. Lebron bolted Miami for Cleveland and lo and behold, Miller is a Cavalier now. Go figure.
5) Bill Belichick will get in the Hall of Fame as a coach, but you look at these Patriots and you realize he’s a cruddy general manager. In football, with so many injuries, the personnel guy is vital to a team’s success. Just like Jerry Jones in Dallas, personnel is not Belichick’s strong suit.
4) 1st and Loud, the reality show about the arena football team in Los Angeles, has become painful to watch, with the LA Kiss on their way to an incredibly bad season, filled with dissension and stupid decisions and two co-owners who know nothing about football and a third who is a genuine nitwit.
The 4th co-owner looks like John Elway and appears to have a clue, but he also seems to have less influence than the main partner, who is a micromanaging jackass. Quick example so you know I’m not making this up: he ordered the coach to onside kick after every score in one game. Spoiler alert: it didn’t go well.
3) Downloaded the Blue Ribbon Yearbook on my IPad this week, so I’ve started preparation for college hoop season. For $17, it’s a great bargain. The actual paper copy of Blue Ribbon will be here in a few weeks.
2) Wednesday would’ve been a good day to put on the shades, cover myself in towels and vegetate by the pool, any pool in Las Vegas. Just disappear from the world for the day, shut my mind off, have a cold drink and chill. We all need days like that now and then; at least I’ve got a trip to Vegas scheduled for next month, but pools will be closed by then.
1) Elias Sports Bureau points out that NFL games in Week 4 were decided by an average of 17.6 points, third highest average of any week in the last 25 years. For all the off-court drama the NFL is going thru, they better keep an eye on their actual product, which has slipped some with teams not allowed to practice as much as in the past.
Wednesday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL......
32) Raiders (0-4)-- When you fire your coach (by telephone) four games into the season when you’re starting a rookie QB, you’re the worst team in the league. Good news; they won’t lose this week, its their bye week.
31) Jaguars (0-4)—Saw reason for optimism with rookie QB Bortles in his first start, but the defense needs work; Chargers easily could’ve scored 50 points against them Sunday- they kicked FG on all four red zone drives. .
30) Titans (1-3)—Three lopsided losses since opening win, Locker is hurt already. Look for LSU rookie Mettenberger to emerge as their #1 QB.
29) Jets (1-3)—Vikings are only NFC North team that hasn’t beaten them and that is only because they haven’t played yet. If Geno Smith doesn’t stop turning ball over, he’s going to be playing for a new coach and GM next season.
28) Rams (1-2)—Blew 21-point lead at home to Dallas is Week 3; am encouraged by new QB Austin Davis, but at some point, this group needs to learn how to win.
8) Ravens (3-1)—Pitta’s injury is big blow to offense that likes tight ends to catch the ball. Imagine the media’s outrage if Ray Rice somehow gets reinstated? The Internet might implode.
7) Cowboys (3-1)—Jones Family could be unusual; son Steven might be wiser than his old man, who wanted to draft Johnny Manziel. In most of these rich families that own franchises, the kids turn out to be nitwits. Steven Jones is the Dallas voice of reason and they’ve improved.
6) Eagles (3-1)—Have been behind by 10+ points in all three wins; reason for concern that Foles might not finish season behind shaky OL.
5) Broncos (2-1)—The rich get richer: Peyton Manning goes to Denver, buys a few Papa John’s pizza places, marijuana gets legalized in Colorado, and #18 gets even wealthier. I’d say luck favors the prepared, but then you’d think I was talking about the Colts.
4) Seahawks (2-1)—Dicey Monday nighter in nation’s capitol, against Redskin team that turned ball over six times vs Giants last Thursday. Washington is 6-3 in last nine series games; all three losses came in playoffs.
3) Chargers (3-1)—Will be pass-oriented until they get Mathews healthy. Already on their third center this season.
2) Cardinals (3-0)—7-point underdog in Denver this week, despite their unbeaten record. Bruce Arians almost never got a chance to be an NFL head coach; in his 60’s now, he’s proving to be a very good one.
1) Bengals (3-0)—Will get stern test from New England Sunday night in Foxboro, after Patriots’ debacle in Arrowhead. Not ready to bury Pats yet; Cincy will get their best shot this week.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Arizona/Cincinnati is your unlikely “last unbeaten NFL team” quinella for this year, and both will be underdogs this week, the Cardinals in Denver, the Bengals in Foxboro Sunday nite. Could’ve made a lot of money betting on that this summer.
12) Speaking of the Bengals, they’re 93-85-1 under Marvin Lewis, who catches grief because Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game in his tenure as head coach. Forgotten is fact that the Bengals were 53-124 before Lewis became coach and were pretty much the worst franchise in the league. The man is underpaid and I have no idea how much he makes.
11) In two road games, Falcons allowed 12.6 and 10.6 ypg thru the air, in losses by 13-14 points. First team to win a couple road games might win the slog that is the NFC South.
10) Jets are 43rd team since 1992 to play three consecutive non-conference games, so it happens about twice a year. They’re the 9th of those 43 teams to lose all three games. Jets are back in AFC this week, out in San Diego.
9) Chargers are down to their #3 center, which leads to a botched snap here and there; it hurt them twice in the red zone against Jacksonville, but they’re so much better than the Jags, it didn’t factor in the outcome. It could against the Jets this week.
8) Teams with a +2 or better turnover ratio were 9-0 SU this past week, are 29-4 for the season.
7) Weird hearing Deion Sanders bash Jim Harbaugh, saying there are playing with the 49ers “who want him out” as head coach. Harbaugh is 38-13-1 with the 49ers, 2-2 this year; better be careful before you run a successful guy of town; chances are the next guy ain’t going 38-13.
6) Mack Brown-to-SMU rumors are all over the place; coaching can be addictive, the competition, the challenge of recruiting and trying to prove that you’re not too old to do the job. SMU has resources; they should be much better than they are and Brown can recruit. This could be interesting.
5) New Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer is richest owner in North American team sports, which is part of why he overpaid to buy the Clippers. He is also the former head of Microsoft who will ease Apple products out of his organization. I’d be lost without my IPhone, guess I won’t be working for the Clippers anytime soon.
4) It is alarming that in the preseason rankings for college rifle shooting, Army is ranked 9th; shouldn’t they be first, like, always?
3) Cal Bears are tightening their academic requirements for athletes, which means basketball coach Cuonzo Martin picked a bad time to jump from Tennessee to Berkeley. You think USC, UCLA or Arizona is doing that? Oregon? Ha!!!! There are so many gifted basketball players who fit into the high academic model.
2) Twins fired Ron Gardenhire Monday; I once got yelled at by a Twins’ fan in Las Vegas for suggesting that Gardenhire might be a good manager. This guy had specific examples of why he was terrible and this was 3-4 years ago. That man, who was a friend of a friend but not someone I knew, is probably a little happier today.
1) Underrated bad job: Customer service phone rep. I listened to a woman I work with shred a phone operator this morning, just rip her, then she called back twice more and did it again, with other operators. Must be fun making not much money to get yelled at all day. Wonder how many times they get thanked for their efforts.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Giants 45, Redskins 14-- Jersey Giants evened record with six takeaways that led to 31 points; they had an amazing 25-yard edge in field position, with four of six TD drvies starting in Redskin territory. Kirk Cousins had a rough night.
12) Dolphins 38, Raiders 14-- In 11 games other than this one this weekend, there were an average of 4.09 first downs via penalty, as the NFL insists on ticky-tack calls vs defensive players. In the London game, trying to impress a new audience with its product, there was one such call. Coincidence? I don't think so.
11) Packers 38, Bears 17-- R-E-L-A-X. This was only the second NFL game ever (Bills-49ers in '92) with no punts. Bears gained 446 yards, had great balance and lost by three TDs. Green Bay had 24-yard edge in field position; only eight of their 47 plays were on third down.
10) Texans 23, Bills 17-- Houston was -3 in turnovers before JJ Watt took an INT 80 yards back for TD that swung this game. Kicker Bullock made two 50+-yard FGs as Ryan Fitzpatrick got a win against his old team. Not real impressed by EJ Manuel at QB for the Bills.
9) Colts 41, Titans 17-- How has Charlie Whitehurst lasted this long in the NFL? He's terrible and with starting QB Locker getting hurt a lot, Titans may wind up with LSU rookie Mettenberger under center- they've lost three in row since Opening Day win at Arrowhead. Luck passed for 393 yards in this game.
8) Ravens 38, Panthers 10-- Second straight tank job by Carolina, which gave up seven catches, 139 yards and two TDs to old friend Steve Smith. Newton isn't 100% healthy, not close and Carolina doesn't have a bye until Week 12. Not good. Worst news for Carolina? They gave up 10.5 yards per pass attempt.
7) Lions 24, Jets 17-- Next coach of the Jets will have an offensive background; it would be nice if the team's GM got him a WR or two who could get open and catch the ball. Not sure why they went out and got Michael Vick if they're not going to play him. Maybe his running could provide a change of pace.
6) Buccaneers 27, Steelers 24-- Antonio Brown caught seven balls for 131 yards and two TDs, but dropped a bomb on a flea-flicker that would've broken game open when Steelers led 24-20. Ton of survival pools bit the dust here, when Glennon led winning TD drive (only 46 yards) in last minute.
5) Chargers 33, Jaguars 14-- San Diego scored 33 points despite scoring only 12 points in four trips to red zone; thought rookie QB Bortles played well in his first start, but this game was a mismatch when San Diego had the ball. Chargers will be one-dimensional until RB Mathews gets healthy.
4) 49ers 26, Eagles 21-- Before this game, the last 73 NFL teams who scored three return TDs in a game were 71-1-1; problem is, Iggle offense scored zero points, did not try to run ball in from 2-yard line when they had a chance to take lead late in game. 49ers had their usual ten penalties; rumors persist there people in their inner circle who want Harbaugh gone. Damn, he's won a lot of games.
3) Vikings 41, Falcons 28-- Since when does a team score 41 points in a rookie QB's first career start? Minnesota racked up 558 yards, running for 242, as Atlanta is now 0-2 on road, losing by 13-14 points. Bridgewater sprained his ankle, but said he'll play Thursday against the Packers.
2) Cowboys 38, Saints 17-- Putrid performance by New Orleans, which lost eight of its last nine road games. Game was 31-3 before Saints made brief run to make it interesting, but Dallas OL controlled this game. Saints' only win was lackluster 20-9 game with Minnesota last week; there is reason to be concerned.
1) Heading into the Monday night game at Arrowhead, favorites are 7-4-1 so far this week, home teams are 6-5-1, over is 9-3.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Minnesota 30, Michigan 14-- First it was RichRod, now Brady Hoke who figures to have a short tenure in Ann Arbor; the guy had an unbeaten season at Ball State, for chrissakes, he is a good coach, but its not working at Michigan. The next coach needs to recruit a good passer (10-25 for 88 yards passing in this game).
The guy who played QB for Hoke at Ball State (Nate Davis) was ten times better than his QBs now. Think about that; players win games, and get coaches fired.
12) More attention needs to be paid to National Signing Day in February; that is where future games are won and lost, but it gets buried in the headlines. Texas took a pass on RGIII, Aaron Rodgers had no D-I offers out of high school. Oy.
11) Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 OT-- Razorbacks have lost 14 consecutive SEC games; Bret Bielema is great for hanging 73 points on Nicholls State or 81 on Indiana, but how about winning a close game? Beat a quality opponent.
10) Akron 21, Pitt 10; Colorado State 24, Boston College 21. Syracuse lost to Notre Dame. Tough day for the ACC, a day that could hurt them when the teams for the national championship playoff are announced.
9) Washington State 28, Utah 27-- Utes won at Michigan last week, had 24-7 lead at half in this one, as Twitterverse was crushing Mike Leach, but his Coogs rallied to win, hitting an 81-yard TD pass with 4:58 left for the winning score. First two Utah scores were by the defense and a punt return.
8) Missouri 21, South Carolina 20-- Gmecocks took 20-7 lead with 7:20 left, then gave up two TDs in last 6:49 for a really bad home loss. Mizzou was just 2-16 on third down, completed 12 of 34 passes- those aren't winning numbers.
7) Peter Kostis of CBS points out that since PGA Tour/TV created the President's Cup, which runs in years where there is no Ryder Cup, Europe has won seven of nine Ryder Cups. Maybe they just take it more seriously.
6) Bowling Green 47, UMass 42-- Both QBs threw 60+ times, the video board at UMass collapsed, total of 200 offensive plays were run. UMasss passed for 589 yards and lost. Bowling Green was 10-23 on third down. Fun game.
5) California 59, Colorado 56 OT-- Golden Bears gave up 36 points in fourth quarter at Arizona last week; their fans are aging rapidly, but less so when you win. Colorado had 39 first downs but lost; don't see that a lot.
4) Clemson 50, North Carolina 35-- Tar Heels gave up 120 points in their last two games, giving up 50 here to a freshman QB. I hope LT isn't betting on his alma mater; Tar Heels also had 130 yards in penalties.
3) Georgia 35, Tennessee 32-- Better kick the Vols this year, because this team is a power in the making; would've won this game if Worley hadn't missed a quarter-- as soon as he came back, they moved the ball again.
2) Western Kentucky 36, Navy 27-- Hilltoppers threw ball 54 times, Navy only 15, in battle of opposite styles. Navy ran for 412 yards but lost.
Why do teams have so many different styles of uniforms? Nebraska had god-awful throwback uniforms on this week-- where does the money for that come from?
1) Florida State 56, NC State 41-- Wolfpack led 24-7 early, 38-28 in third quarter, but Seminoles have too many good players right now. Winston isn't ready for the NFL yet, but it is easy to visualize bolting school as soon as he can. Hope not.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) In last seven years, Clint Hurdle brought the Colorado Rockies to a World Series and the Pirates to the playoffs. Twice. Think about that for a second. He’s a damn good manager.
12) Cubs had their lowest home attendance since 1998 this season; I can see why they traded Hammel/Samardzija, just mystified why they didn’t get pitching back in the trade. Not sure how they will get their starting rotation up to a level that will allow them to contend anytime soon.
All their prospects except for Kris Bryant are middle infielders and Bryant plays 3B, so you can’t move any of the other prospects there.
11) Greedy bastard update: Out west they’re selling two seats from old Candlestick Park for $750, while back east one of Derek Jeter’s game worn socks is going for $409. Not a pair of socks, one sock. Anyone who pays $409 for one sock deserves their name to be published so they can be mocked publicly.
10) Ryder Cup golfers don’t get paid, but they get $200K apiece for their favorite charity; I’m told their various sponsors also reward them for the added exposure they’ll get this weekend. Golf is nothing if not big business.
9) Had no plans to watch the Ryder Cup this weekend, until I found out they were on TV live at 3am. Live events at 3am are right in my wheelhouse. As recently as 1989, no networks televised the Ryder Cup; it was an obscure event on the USA Network, which also shows the WWE and dog shows. Ryder Cup has come a long way since then.
8) Diamondbacks fired Kirk Gibson Friday, which was an odd marriage to begin with, seeing as Gibson's famous homer in 1988 came against Tony Larussa's best Oakland team. Bench coach Alan Trammell also got a pink slip.
7) ESPN’s Danny Kanell had Oklahoma vs Florida State, Oregon vs Alabama as his prospective playoff matchups, if those playoffs started this week. We’ll see more of this as the clock ticks towards the first 4-team college football playoff.
6) RIP Caldwell Jones, who died this week at age 64. Very good basketball player, was a pro hooper for 17 years; he also had three brothers who played in the NBA.
5) Why does Eldrick Woods need a golf coach? As the great pitcher Bob Gibson once told a catcher who visited his mound, “…....the only thing you know about pitching is that you can’t hit it.”
Woods should be able to coach himself; his biggest question is this: are his ailments more physical or mental? Does he still have the desire/physical ability to practice well so he can play great?
4) Phil Hughes missed a $500K bonus by one-third of an inning Wednesday; apparently he turned down the chance to pitch this weekend, so he could make the extra half-mil. Hughes is signed up at $8M a year thru 2016, so his family will still eat, just too bad he missed out on the bonus by only one batter.
3) If you care about such things, thru three weeks, the Raiders (163) have run the least offensive plays of any NFL team.
2) Texas Longhorns already booted nine kids off the team in Charlie Strong’s first season in Austin; you wonder if some downtrodden program could somehow latch on to all nine of those kids, how much would it help/hurt their program? If they signed with Texas, they have to be pretty good players.
1) Want to feel old? Davis Love is on the Seniors Tour now. He’s almost as old as I am!!!!!
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.....
13) Its last weekend of baseball season; the A’s have stumbled down the stretch, thank the lord Seattle has played worse. By Sunday night we should know the Wild Card matchups and how this year’s playoffs will line up. Looks like Pirates-Giants in NL Wild Card; Mariners are still fighting to make it in the AL.
12) Dolphins-Raiders are in London, as somehow Miami has a QB controversy, with coach Philbin refusing to endorse Ryan Tannehill as the long-term starting QB. Teams that play in England have their bye week right after, so Matt Moore could be getting the mod in Week 6, if he Dolphins struggle across the pond.
11) Ticket sales are lagging for Minnesota-Michigan in Ann Arbor, so much so that earlier this week, they were giving you two game tickets if you bought any two Coke items, including 20-ounce sodas. That’s two game tickets for $3.
They stopped it when national media got wind of it, but nothing gets a coach fired than rapidly declining attendance figures, which are attached to winning less.
10) 49ers have been outscored 52-3 in second half in their first three games, now they host the Eagles, who are 3-0 despite training all three games by 10+ points, first team ever to do that. If the 49ers get tired of Jim Harbaugh, the teams listed in notes 11-12 would probably love to take him off the Niners’ hands.
9) Earlier this month, Colorado played at UMass; this week, Colorado State visits Boston College. Why? Long road trips are becoming more common in college football. Has to be pretty expensive. Steve Addazio is doing a solid job rebuilding at BC, by the way.
8) Ryan Fitzpatrick was the Bills’ starting QB for parts of four seasons, now his Houston Texans host the Bills this week, with both teams coming off their first loss this season. Winner of this game will be excited to be 3-1.
7) Steve Spurrier was so annoyed with his kick coverage team last week, he said he’s coaching special teams this week for South Carolina; interesting game with Missouri here. Gamecocks’ defense hasn’t been very good so far. Mizzou got upset at home by Indiana last week, but they can score.
6) Steve Smith’s old team, the Panthers, visit his new team, the Ravens in a battle of teams who both lost a key player via domestic violence issues. Carolina went in the tank in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh last week; with no Ray Rice, doubtful that Baltimore can pound them on the ground the way the Steelers did.
5) North Carolina gave up 70 points at East Carolina last week. 70. Now they go to Clemson, which is coming off a loss to Florida State’s backup QB. Tigers will go with freshman Watson under center; this could get ugly for the Tar Heels, unless they suddenly figure out how to tackle.
4) Florida State @ NC State—Jameis Winston is back playing this week; if I’m Jimbo Fisher, my lecture to ol’ Jameis last week would’ve had two key elements to it: a) When you’ve been cleared of rape charges, try not to yell out sexually explicit rap lyrics in public; people might get the wrong idea. b) Stay the hell off of cafeteria tables; if the table collapses with you on it and you break your arm, we both lose an awful lot of money.
3) When Adrian Peterson’s trial comes up, if I’m a lawyer trying the case, I have to ask prospective jurors if any of them are ticked off at AP because they drafted him in fantasy football and he ruined their team by getting suspended for the year. It’s a fair question; you ruin my fantasy football team, I’ll send your butt to jail, if I can. People can be weird. Vikings host Atlanta this week, by the way, with Falcons having three extra days to prep after their Thursday night win last week.
2) Georgia is 17-point favorite over Tennessee, biggest spread in this rivalry since at least 1980, when Herschel Walker announced his presence with authority by running over Bill Bates on his way to becoming a Bulldog icon. Vols are going to be pretty good eventually, but they’re too young right now.
1) Curious to see how bad New England’s offense is Monday night at Arrowhead. Oakland actually had the tying TD nullified by a penalty in last minute last week, then turned the ball over on the next play. Patriots lost five of their last six visits here, but Belichick is 4-0 vs Andy Reid.
Thursday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL.........
32) Buccaneers (0-3)—Get well soon, Jeff Tedford. Aaron Rodgers’ college coach, Bucs’ OC has heart issues, has taken leave from the Bucs, leaving them woefully short in coaching on the offensive side of the ball.
31) Jaguars (0-3)—Blake Bortles gets his first NFL start this week, for a team that was outscored 51-7 in first half of their last two games.
30) Vikings (1-2)-- Adrian Peterson is gone, Cassel (foot) is out for the year, so rookie QB Bridgewater takes over under center. His first start is against the Falcons; tough way to break in.
29) Raiders (0-3)—Had tying TD called back by a penalty in last minute at Foxboro last week; they turned ball over on next play. Are spending this week in England.
28) Titans (1-2)—Have some skilled WRs, but lack QB who can get them the ball; look for LSU rookie Mettenberger to be under center before the year is over.
8) Patriots (2-1)—Apparently I picked the wrong year to draft Tom Brady in fantasy football; could’ve been worse, I could’ve drafted Adrian Peterson.
7) Texans (2-1)—I’m curious how much different coaching in the NFL is as opposed to college. Hopefully someone in national media will do a story about this with Bill O’Brien later this season.
6) Broncos (2-1)—Spray chart of Denver passes Sunday showed great variety of where throws went, covering whole width of field, compared to last year’s Super Bowl, when 80% of throws were in short/middle area.
5) Seahawks (2-1)—They had to be alarmed with how easily Denver scored in last 1:00 of regulation Sunday. NFL teams had been 2 for last 76 trying to score tying TD in that scenario. Offense bailed team out, but Arizona is 3-0 and a legit challenger in NFC West.
4) Chargers (2-1)—Impressive win at Buffalo, could easily be 3-0. Took some injury hits at RB last week; Manti Teo broke his foot, too. Haven’t fared well as double digit favorite; they host Jaguars this week.
3) Cardinals (3-0)—Michigan State (Hoyer-Stanton-Cousins) has most current starting QBs in NFL. You could win a bar bet with that tidbit.
2) Eagles (3-0)—First team in NFL history to start 3-0 when they trailed all three games by 10+ points. Some of defensive players are whining about amount of running team does day before game. No one is whining about being 3-0.
1) Bengals (3-0)—Put their resume under another team’s banner and they’re getting lot more attention than Cincinnati is right now, which can’t bother Marvin Lewis much; media attention is just one more distraction no pro coach needs. In college, at least it helps in recruiting.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) John Calipari and Jim Boeheim are speaking at the same coaching clinic this Saturday here in Albany at the College of St Rose, but they likely won’t cross paths; Boeheim speaks at 9, Calipari at 1.
Billy Donovan, Seth Greenberg and Mike Fratello are also speaking at the event, which is Howard Garfinkel’s annual coaching clinic.
12) Roughly 40 Division I basketball teams took foreign trips this summer; best benefit for coaches, other than team bonding, are the ten extra practices they’re allowed before the trip.
11) Stephen Ross owns the Miami Dolphins; he went to Michigan. So did Jim Harbaugh. Look for the Dolphins to make a serious run at Harbaugh if the Dolphins miss the playoffs, but then again, Michigan could be going after him, too.
10) If Eagles’ QB Nick Foles ever got hurt, how would Mark Sanchez do in Chip Kelly’s offense? He is Philly’s backup QB, after all. Had Sanchez chosen to sign with the Rams over Philly, he’s already be the Rams starter, with Sam Bradford hurt. I’m not complaining; think Austin Davis is doing just fine, but thought Sanchez made a poor choice when choosing teams to sign with.
9) A sporting goods store in Maryland must think a lot of Kirk Cousins; they already have RGIII jerseys listed at 40% off.
8) Lions LB Stephen Tulloch tore his ACL Sunday while celebrating a sack, in a similar injury to when Kendrys Morales broke his ankle after jumping on home plate when he hit a walk-off homer. Tough way for your season to end; weird that an ACL can go so quickly, without contact.
7) Dodger pitcher Dan Haren hit 180-inning plateau Monday night, kicking in his player option for 2015 and earning him a $500,000 bonus. Good night for him.
6) Steve Spurrier was so annoyed that Vanderbilt ran two kicks back for TDs last week, he said he would coach special teams this week. Curious to see if he adds any starters to the coverage teams, or just coaches up the kids who were already there. Doubt special teamers usually get much attention from the Head Ball Coach.
5) Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com came up with a great stat Monday; when Denver drove for the tying TD in the last 0:56 Sunday, they bucked a 2-for-76 skid by NFL teams who trailed by 7 or 8 points with 1:15 or less to play, and had the ball 75+ yards from the goal line. That’s who unusual Denver’s tying drive was, but they never got back on the field to try and win the game.
4) I’m thinking MLB should mirror football and let the manager throw a flag from the dugout to signal that they want a replay review. Would quicken the review process by a little; God knows we don’t want the media having to sit there for five or ten extra minutes every night.
3) Once the QB crosses the line of scrimmage with the ball, he should lose all protection he gets by being a QB. If he’s gaining yards, then he should be fair game to be hit like anyone else gets hit.
2) NFL teams that are minus-2 or worse in turnovers are already 4-20.
1) Cool moment in Texas Monday night, when 13-year minor league veteran Guilder Rodriguez got his first two big league hits, after 4,095 plate appearances in the minor leagues. That’s a long way to wait for the call to the bigs; too bad he won’t get to travel big league-style; Rangers are home all week to finish the season.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) If you’re a major league GM and you give BJ Upton $15M a year and you've traded for Dan Uggla and your team misses the playoffs while the new stadium is being built that you need to sell luxury boxes for, then you get fired.
Frank Wren got the boot in Atlanta Monday; deservedly so. The Upton brothers haven’t worked out well for the Braves; I’m not sure anyone other than Wren thought it would.
12) Braves are 4-15 so far this month, but looks like Fredi Gonzalez gets to keep his job, despite his team scoring 41 runs in their last 21 games. Milwaukee is 9-22 in its last 31 games, another disappointing end to a season. Harder to put a finger on why the Brewers faded down the stretch, other than Carlos Gomez going on the DL for a while.
11) Love watching NFL highlights on Sunday nights, see whatever I missed while flipping between games all day, but the NFL Network show has to be watched with a mute button, since Deion Sanders/Michael Irvin insist on talking over the show’s host while he is narrating highlights. It is not cool, it is not hip, it is just rude and unlistenable. Wait your turn to speak.
10) Bengals, Cardinals are both 3-0 and hot; they probably wish their bye wasn’t until later on this season. Meanwhile, Cam Newton is really banged up and could use a week or two off, but Carolina’s bye isn’t until Week 12.
9) 49ers have been outscored 52-3 in the second half this season; Kaepernick hasn’t improved his accuracy throwing the ball. Teams are trying to contain him and make him beat them with his arm. Would be weird if the Niners parted ways with Jim Harbaugh after this season, but you keep hearing it is a possibility.
8) 49ers have given up the most first downs via penalty (17), followed by the Bills (13) and Pittsburgh (11).
7) Arizona Cardinals have gotten 17 first downs via penalty, most in the NFL, followed by Chicago (13) and Dallas (11). Teams that take shots down the field are drawing valuable flags that gain big chunks of yardage.
6) Speaking of the Cardinals, Bruce Arians is now 22-9 as an NFL head coach; he had to wait a long time to be an NFL head coach, until he was 60. Arians coached Temple for a while, but that was an impossible job. He’s doing a great job in the desert, and he was good as the interim coach in Indianapolis.
5) NFL home favorites are 15-21-1 vs the spread thru three weeks this season.
4) Surprised to see that Green Bay was the only NFL team this week that didn’t have at least one play of 19+ yards. Hard to believe, especially in a dome, against a team they had beaten 13 of last 15 times. Pack’s OL is struggling.
3) As a fan, I’m tired of reading articles that sound like transcripts from Court TV. Tell me what happens on Sunday, tell me who is in and out for this week’s games. Then I’ll watch the games and enjoy them.
Politics/money are front/center here as far as advertisers and where they spend their money; we watch games to get away from that BS.
Media types resent the serious money that Roger Goodell makes as commissioner. Hey, this guy does the owners' bidding-- he works for them and isn't doing a lot on his own. He'll never, ever get fired, ever.
2) Firing Goodell because Adrian Peterson is a child abuser makes no sense; is he in charge of our country’s culture now? I’ve been told by several people that beatings with a switch are fairly common in the southern culture. Maybe the media just needs a scapegoat then will calm down; if so, Goodell would be one of history’s highest-paid scapegoats.
1) Clemson named true freshman Deshaun Watson the Tigers’ starting QB, after Watson came on in relief of senior Cole Stoudt and nearly beat (Jameis Winston-less) Florida State in Tallahassee, completing 19 of 28 passes for 266 yards, running for 30 yards and a touchdown. Stoudt is the son of former Steeler QB Cliff Stoudt.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday....
13) Chargers 22, Bills 10-- Favorites are 8-7 vs spread so far this week, home teams 7-8, over 8-7. There were no turnovers in this game; 11 of 28 teams this week didn't turn the ball over, including both teams in Viking-Saint game.
12) Cowboys 34, Rams 31-- St Louis doesn't know how to win, how to put teams away; they led this game 21-0 in second quarter.
Down at Florida State, Jimbo Fisher described his team this way Saturday night: "They know how to win." Jeff Fisher's team doesn't know how to win, and officials punish teams they perceive as losers.
Penalty yardage in this game: Dallas 15, St Louis 119. 'nuff said.
11) Eagles 37, Redskins 34-- Philly is now first NFL team ever to start 3-0, after trailing by 10+ points in all three games. 65 TDs have been scored do far this week; 35 of them came on drives of 80+ yards. Reducing the influence of the kickoff has made scoring more difficult, creating fewer short fields.
10) Giants 30, Texans 17-- Big Blue scored three TDs, two on 2-29 yard drives; +3 turnover ratio is a winning number, after being -6 in first two games. Giants ran ball for 193 yards, threw it for 223, very good balance- they won field position by 19 yards, a huge advantage.
9) Saints 20, Vikings 9-- New Orleans had ball seven times, starting each drive 80+ yards from goal line; they had only two plays of 20+ yards. Total yardage: 396-247 in favor of Saints. Minnesota lost QB Cassel to toe injury. Rookie Bridgewater was 12-20 for 150 yards coming off the bench.
8) Bengals 33, Titans 7-- Do a blind resume on all 32 teams, and Cincinnati is the best team right now- they've won field position by 11-9-12 yards in three games so far. Tennessee lost last two games by combined 59-17 after winning opener after winning opener in Kansas City.
7) Ravens 23, Browns 21-- All three Cleveland games were decided in last 0:06, but they're 1-12 in last 13 games vs Ravens, who used to call Cleveland home. Funny that the Ravens' owner promised Ray Rice a job after football; that should go over real well in the NFL offices.
6) Lions 19, Packers 7-- Green Bay has issues on offensive line; this is first time Lions have beaten Aaron Rodgers, and they did it with -2 turnover ratio. Lions hit on 11 of 18 third down plays-- their defense scored nine of the 19 points.
5) Colts 44, Jaguars 17-- Jacksonville has cabanas with pools in the end zone boxes at their stadium; they also have a really bad team. Rookie QB Bortles was 14-24/223 in his first extended action-- he'll start for Jags in San Diego next week.
4) Patriots 16, Raiders 9-- NE scored one TD in four red zone drives; they ran ball for only 97 yards, gained less than 300 for game- they're now 1-8 vs spread last nine times they were laying double digits. Raiders, Vikings were only two teams not to score an offensive TD; they both played rookie QB most of the way.
3) Cardinals 23, 49ers 14-- Arizona is 3-0, despite playing backup QB in two of three games. 49ers have been outscored 52-3 in second half of games. Cardinals got seven first downs via penalty in this game, converted 8-13 on third down.
2) Seahawks 26, Broncos 20 OT-- Manning rallied Denver back fron down 17-3 to force OT, but never saw field in OT, as Seattle drove 80 yards for winning TD. This was first time in last 32 games Broncos weren't favored to win. Denver ran ball for only 36 yards. Still amazing that Russell Wilson makes less than $700,000 a year.
1) Chiefs 34, Dolphins 15-- Miami is now 11-30 vs spread in last 41 games as a home favorite; if I had one shot at being an NFL head coach, I'd want my franchise QB to at least know who the teams in the AFC East were. At the start of 2012, if you watched Hard Knocks, Tannehill had no idea, he didn't follow pro football. Oy.
0) Steelers 37, Panthers 19-- Pitt averaged over eight yards a carry in this game, with Bell's 81-yard run their longest since Frenchy Fuqua in 1970. Steelers kicked Carolina's butt physically, plain and simple. Panthers don't have a bye until Week 12; Newton could use some time to heal up.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) Florida State 23, Clemson 17 OT-- Sean Maguire was 21-39/305 in his first college start, tossing a 74-yard TD pass that tied the game in the fourth quarter. On Monday he goes back to the bench, until Jameis Winston's next incident. This was a bad loss for Clemson, which missed a 22-yard FG, fumbled in the last 2:00 when the game was tied and they were in easy FG range.
Great night for Jimbo Fisher, who did some serious coaching this week.
12) Utah 26, Michigan 10-- Speculation will now run rampant about Brady Hoke's job status. Jim Harbaugh, Les Miles. There was lot of bad weather in the midwest; three Big 14 home games were delayed by weather yesterday.
11) Rough day for the MAC:
Michigan State 73, Eastern Michigan 14
Wisconsin 68, Bowling Green 17
Penn State 48, UMass 7
Arkansas 52, Northern Illinois 14
MAC's only non-league I-A win Saturday was Ohio 36, Idaho 24. Oy.
10) Arizona 49, Cal 45-- Wildcats trailed 45-30 with 4:00 left, scored three TDs to pull a miraculous comeback, winning on a 47-yard Hail Mary at the gun. Cal led by 28-6 at half, 31-13 after three quarters yet somehow lost.
9) Alabama 42, Florida 21-- Total yardage was 645-200 Bama; Sims passed for 445 yards in his fourth college start. If this season finishes up with Lane Kiffin getting another head coaching job, the only way it can be justified is if he replaces Charlie Weis at Kansas (hey, the Jayhawks beat Central Michigan!!!).
8) East Carolina 70, North Carolina 41-- Tar Heels have an awful defense; they're in lousy shape, they can't tackle, simply terrible.
That said, my least favorite football rule is the stupid rule that you have to leave the game if your helmet comes off. It should be if you intentionally take it off, then you have to leave for a play. The current rule is nonsensical.
7) Southern Mississippi 31, Appalachian State 30-- ASU scored a TD with 0:06 left, then had the tying PAT blocked. With six seconds left. In a 31-30 game.
6) South Florida 17, UConn 14-- Huskies' first TD on a rainy night was a classic Football Follies play: USF is up 14-0 near end of the half, they throw a pass on sideline, right to a receiver, but he bobbles it into the hands of a UConn defender who runs for an unlikely TD. Huskies had six first downs the whole night; this was a terrible game.
5) South Carolina 48, Vanderbilt 34-- Commodores ran two kicks back for TDs, and still lost by 14 points. James Franklin was smart getting out of town. Vandy is a very difficult job to win at. Spurrier won by two TDs and was miserable after.
4) Wake Forest 24, Army 21-- Over last decade, Army is 0-7 as a road favorite.
3) New Mexico 38, New Mexico State 35-- Lobos completed only eight passes in this game, but four different players completed at least one. State had 507-499 edge in total yardage; Lobos ran ball for 432 yards, needed TD with 0:27 left to win.
2) Georgia Tech 27, Virginia Tech 24-- Yellow Jackets scored ten points in last 2:03, handing Hokies their second straight home loss after winning at Ohio State.
1) Oregon 38, Washington State 31-- #21 on Wazzu is River Cracraft, who has great hands in the Wes Welker-mold. Ducks were challenged in this game, but Coogs are little bit talent-shy on defensive side of ball.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Umpire Joe West got suspended for a game for grabbing Jonathan Papelbon by the shirt during Papelbon’s meltdown as he left the field after blowing a save Sunday; interesting that the suspension was made public. I’m pretty sure not every umpire suspension is made public.
12) NHL preseason games start Sunday, as in, tomorrow. Apparently summer is over.
11) When ESPN first started out in 1979, Getty owned most of the company; apparently they had talks about pulling the plug on it early on, since it really was a pioneer in TV, an all-sports network and obviously it didn’t make money right away. Media world might be lot different now if they had quit the project.
10) Florida State’s QB tonight will be Sean Maguire, a kid from New Jersey whose high school ran the wing-T, meaning that ol’ Sean probably won’t be throwing the ball too much tonight.
9) Golfer Nicolas Colsaerts hit a golf ball 447 yards in Wales earlier this week; it was downhill/downwind, but still, going driver/wedge and getting on the green of a 613-yard hole in two is pretty impressive.
8) Tom Brady posted his college resume on Facebook this week; he spent his summers in college mostly working on a golf course- he also worked at a brokerage firm one summer. He said something about thinking he’d need that resume, once he wasn’t drafted in the 5th round that year, but things worked out pretty well for him.
7) Sean Payton bought 100 Devon Still jerseys at $100 apiece, with proceeds going to a children’s hospital in Cincinnati. Pretty cool move by Payton. Still’s 4-year old daughter is battling cancer.
6) A lawyer in New York City had his Jaguar stolen in 1968; it was found this month as it was put on a boat, headed for Europe. Yes it took them 46 years to find a stolen car. Lawyer lives in Florida now; imagine his surprise when he got that phone call.
5) Texas Tech fired its defensive coordinator (technically he quit, but come on….) amidst rumors he came to work under the influence. Arkansas shredded the Red Raider defense last week, which is the main reason he got canned.
4) Bunch of baseball teams shuffled their minor league affiliates for next year: Sacramento will be a Giants’ team now, Astros take over in Houston, Dodgers in Oklahoma City, Rockies in Albuquerque, A’s in Nashville. Apparently Nashville wasn’t at all pleased with the Brewers, who wanted their AAA team to stay there, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. I’mthink it saves a lot of money having your AAA team close to the big league team; makes calling players up hell of a lot easier.
3) Why have the 49ers won nine of their last ten games with Arizona? In those ten games, Niners turned the ball over seven times, Redbirds 30 times. Stanton is starting at QB again this week, oer the injured Carson Palmer.
2) When Auburn won 20-14 at Kansas State Thursday, it snapped their 13-game win streak against the spread. Still a good win that wouldn’t have been a win had K-State’s kicking game been at a collegiate level- they missed a 22-yard FG.
1) Weird baseball stat: Felix Hernandez has a 1.89 ERA in his no-decisions this year. Weirder stat: Jeff Samardzija has had five starts this year where he didn’t allow a run; his team lost all five of those games, three with Cubs, his last two starts for Oakland.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend......
13) Eagles rallied to win in second half in both of their first two games; now they face old friend DeSean Jackson and backup QB Cousins making his 4th NFL start, while Philly is on a short work week after winning in Indy Monday night. Weird that Philly hasn’t scored a first half TD in six of its last 12 games.
12) I feel bad for Viking coach Mike Zimmer, who had to wait until age 58 to get this chance to be a head coach, then his best player gets suspended after one game. Vikings are walking into a hornet’s nest on Bourbon Street, with Saints off to dismal 0-2 start, despite scoring 55 points in two games.
11) Cleveland Browns’ first two games were decided by a total of five points; they’re 1-11 in last 12 games against Baltimore (the old Browns). Hoyer is 4-1 as a starting QB with Cleveland. Ravens lost eight of their last ten road games.
10) Michigan is only a 4.5-point favorite at home over Utah; Wolverines lose this game, and the Jim Harbaugh-to his-alma mater rumors are going to gain a lot of momentum.
9) Packers were down 21-3 at home last week, after losing opener in Seattle, but they rallied to beat Jets. This week Green Bay visits a Lion team they’ve dominated in past. Detroit laid an egg in Charlotte last week; this is an important early season game between two best teams in NFC North.
8) Florida was lucky (damn lucky) to beat Kentucky in OT last week; now they visit an Alabama team that hasn’t been challenged yet but is also unsettled at QB. Gators got whacked last two times they visited Tuscaloosa.
7) Tigers-Royals is biggest baseball series this weekend, biggest series Kansas City has seen in years. Only 10 days left in baseball season; AL playoff picture is still unclear.
6) Arizona Cardinals are atop NFC West at 2-0, despite playing their backup QB in Swamp last week; now 49ers come calling after they imploded in second half of their home opener. Niners have generally gotten the best of Redbirds, who lost RB Dwyer to an off-field incident this week.
5) Broncos-Seahawks are only sixth Super Bowl rematch ever; Denver gets WR Welker back here, but Seattle has been a dominant home team. This is Broncos’ first road game this year.
4) Why are Oklahoma/West Virginia in the same league? Andrew Luck’s dad is WV’s athletic director; he’s hurt their basketball program by giving them so many long road trips. Not sure its helped the football side either. Am guessing its helped their accountants, though, making sure they stayed in a top-5 league, unlike UConn or Cincinnati, which got left out.
3) Steelers are playing second straight prime time road game; they didn’t look good in 26-6 loss at Baltimore, which is what happens when your offensive coordinator misses the team charter. Carolina has become a solid home team under Rivera; star DE Hardy won’t play here (off-field issues).
Seriously, Todd Haley missed the Steelers' charter to Baltimore.
2) Jameis Winston is suspended for first half of Clemson-FSU game, so I guess Seminoles defer if they win the coin toss. Winston’s case is an interesting one, almost like a re-run of Johnny Manziel at A&M.
At some point, these schools are going to stop doing Heisman campaigns for kids, because when they win, the kid becomes bigger than life and becomes a handful to deal with. It would be surprising to see Winston in Tallahassee next year, as the (mostly small) incidents he is involved in pile up, even though he needs some more development to reach his potential as an NFL QB. One of those lose-lose situations.
1) Rex Ryan’s Jets host Chicago Monday night, team that made his dad famous. Buddy Ryan was also an assistant coach for the Jets’ Super Bowl III champs. Bears lost at home to Buffalo, then won at San Francisco, so lot of fun trying to analyze how they will play.
Thursday's List of 13: Top 8, Bottom 5 in the NFL........
32) Buccaneers 0-2—Started season off with pair of home losses to teams playing a backup QB- they’ve forced one turnover. Head to Atlanta tonight for game with division rival that is also coming off a loss. Not good.
31) Jaguars 0-2—Seems like long time ago they led Eagles 17-0 at half in opener; they’ve been outscored 72-10 since then.
30) Raiders 0-2—Only team starting a rookie QB, only team sharing its stadium with a baseball team. They lost to Jets when they were +2 in turnovers; a red flag.
29) Chiefs 0-2—Down seven starters as they head to Miami this week; actually played pretty well in Denver, but they’re already two games behind Broncos in AFC West.
28) Giants 0-2—Have to fix offensive line, so immobile Manning has time to set feet. Hard to have rookie RB who caught zero passes in college last year. They lost to backup QB at home last week, were 0-6 last year. 0-3 start this year could have rats jumping off ship.
8) Chargers 1-1—Antonio Gates looked like Kellen Winslow Sr against Seattle, after they let win at Arizona slip away in opener. Interesting game in Buffalo this week, against 2-0 Bills, in Jack Kemp Alumni Game.
7) Bills 2-0—Huge advantages in field position have Buffalo at 2-0 and enthusiasm very high in western NY. Acid test will be when they play Patriots, but for now, Buffalo is atop AFC East.
6) Cardinals 2-0—Won road game on short work week with backup QB; Arians showed faith in Stanton by having him throw on first play of game. Long term, they’ll need a healthy Palmer under center.
5) Texans 2-0—Not sure if they’ve beaten quality foe yet, but 2-0 is 2-0. Problem is, they were 2-0 last year, then never won another game. As long as Cushing stays healthy, that won’t happen again.
4) Panthers 2-0—Playing very solid defense, new receivers seem to be good enough (especially Benjamin) and Newton is healthier now. Winning games when backup QB plays is good for team morale.
3) Broncos 2-0—Second half production has been dismal, they haven’t been on road yet, but they get Welker back this week for Super Bowl rematch in Seattle.
2) Eagles 2-0—First team in NFL history to start 2-0 after being down 14+ points in second half of both games. In six of last 12 games, they didn’t score TD in first half, but in last four of those, they scored 3+ TDs in second half. Chip Kelly is a unique coach, a very good one. Nick Foles is much better in NFL than he was in college—that’s good coaching.
1) Bengals 2-0—Beat Ravens in Baltimore, beat Falcons by two TDs; impressive and with two new coordinators. Maybe this year they can win a playoff game
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) ESPN’s research guys came up with a great fact before the Monday night game, on how Andrew Luck had never lost consecutive NFL games; the last time he lost consecutive college games, the team that beat him was Arizona, whose QB that night was Nick Foles, who beat him again Monday.
12) Chiefs look like they’ll be down seven out of 22 starters due to suspension or injury for this week’s game at Miami.
11) This is Rob Ryan’s 11th year as a defensive coordinator; combined record of those teams is 57-105 with one winning season (last year with Saints). If his last name isn’t Ryan, he’s a defensive line coach in Conference USA somewhere.
10) Teams that won by 15+ points in Week 1 were 1-4 in Week 2 and the team that won (Eagles) was down 20-6 in third quarter.
9) In Week 1, there were 72 first downs via penalty in 16 games (4.5 per game); last week, there were 77 FDs via penalty (4.81/game).
Out of those 149 first downs via penalty, Buffalo didn’t get one first down via penalty and they won both their games.
8) 10 of 45 first downs in Cardinal-Giant game came via penalty, or 22%. That’s a lot. NFL honchos have to remember that no one pays to watch the officials work.
7) There were 129 plays of 20+ yards in Week 1 (4.03 per team); this week, there were 108 (3.38). Miami was the only team not to have at least one play of 20+ yards last week.
6) I’m convinced red zone efficiency gets better as teams practice more during the season; in Week 1, teams scored an average of 4.93 points/red zone drive. In week 2, that number was down to 4.85. We’ll see how it progresses during the season.
5) In Week 1, teams scored 1.47 points per drive that started 80+ yards from end zone; last week, the figure dipped a little, to 1.43 ppd. Saints/Packers/Bengals are scored 17 points on those long drives.
4) Last week, there were 75 offensive TDs scored; this week, 68. 40 of those 143 TDs came on drives of exactly 80 yards; 23 more came on drives longer than 80 drives, so on 44.1% of TD drives, teams had to drive 80+ yards, not an easy thing.
21 touchdowns came on drives shorter than 50 yards; in Week 2, teams that scored a TD on a drive of less than 50 yards were 8-2-- Jets lost and Bears/49ers both had one Sunday night.
3) 3rd down conversions in Week 1 were made on 42.2% of plays; in Week 2, 39.1%. Sometimes just getting a first down deep in your territory is a big play, to let your defense rest or to flip field position a little.
2) Favorites were 8-8 vs spread this week, are 13-18-1 for season; home teams were 7-9 (13-18-1). Under was 10-6 this week, is 21-11 for the young season.
1) Don Mattingly compared his Dodgers to the ’72-‘74 A’s Monday night; Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig got into it in the dugout, over Puig making a mistake running the bases, which cost Kemp an easy RBI chance. This happened while LA was scoring eight runs in the sixth inning in Denver.Those old A’s teams, their drama was most always before/after the game, not during it.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) 7 of the top 15 teams in this week’s AP college football poll play in the SEC; that number will reduce, once conference play starts more and teams start cannibalizing each other, but seven of the top 15 is pretty impressive.
12) Apple got four million pre-orders for the IPhone6 (4 million!!!), just in the first 24 hours they were accepting pre-orders. Amazing, but also probably means it’ll be a while before I get my new device.
11) UCLA tried to poach Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus, but the kid wasn’t admitted into school. He’s a pretty good player, scored 13 ppg LY; someone’s going to get themselves a bargain.
10) A’s are running out of catchers; they have five on the 40-man roster. Three are hurt, the 4th has never played in a big league game and Derek Norris is playing with an assortment of injuries, which is preventing home from throwing real well. Of the three who are hurt, Geovany Soto (back spasms) seems like the most likely to return soon.
9) Odd thing: A’s have 13 games left; it seems like they’ve been playing for 18 straight months. Rams have 14 games left and their season has just started, but it just shows how every NFL game is worth about the same as ten baseball games in the standings.
8) If every game ended after the 5th inning, Houston Astros would be 67-60-23; they’re 67-83, so they’ve somehow lost 23 games after the 5th inning. Time for them to replenish the bullpen this winter.
7) You finish in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup standings and make the TOUR championship, the pressure comes off some. Last place is $132,000; all you have to do is finish 72 holes and sign your scorecard for that much.
You win the Fed Ex Cup playoffs, its $10M, which seems a bit much. Even for wealthy pro golfers, that’s life-changing money.
6) How does Marques Colston not get targeted once in an entire game Sunday; is he hurt? Seriously, not once? In a 26-24 game?
5) Kentucky hasn’t beaten Florida in football since the late 80’s, so imagine their frustration when it appeared that Florida never got the game-tying play off before the clock ran out. Replays are inconclusive, but teams that consistently lose rarely get favorable calls in that spot. Gators won the game in triple OT, but Kentucky has improved a lot.
4) NC State’s decisive win at South Florida Saturday snapped Wolfpack’s 0-11 ATS skid as a road favorite.
3) Serbian basketball player named Milos Teodosic was impressive in Spain; apparently the Memphis Grizzlies thought they had him locked up couple years ago, but he opted to play pro ball in Russia instead. Too bad for them; apparently they play less games in Spain, plus he was closer to family there, so he turned the Grizzlies down.
2) Next time this World Cup of FIBA rolls around, in 2018, its going to be a 22/under developmental tourney, not something older stars play in. Its stupid for NBA teams to risk their star players in this event, which means very little (see George, Paul).
1) Adrian Wojnarowski, who is a well-respected writer, wrote an interesting article on Yahoo! Sports saying how Mike Krzyzewski exploits his position as Team USA to bolster Duke’s recruiting. Instead of going to AAU tournaments like everyone else, he is hob-nobbing with NBA stars and getting seen on ESPN.
One other tidbit I wasn’t aware of: NBA commish Adam Silver (he’s tall, he’s bald, he’s rich—my hero!!!) is a Duke graduate. Would like him a little better if he had gone to state college, but you can’t have everything.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday......
13) Panthers 24, Lions 7-- Carolina is 2-0 for first time in six years; tough for team to travel off a Monday night game-- Lions were -3 in turnovers. So far this season, teams that are -2 or worse in turnovers are 2-16.
12) Bills 29, Dolphins 10-- Buffalo had one TD, four FGs in six red zone drives, but no one is taking about that-- you knew it was a bad day for Miami when they gave up a 102-yard kick return for a TD after their first score, in the third quarter.
11) Redskins 41, Jaguars 10-- Robert Griffin III dislocated his ankle, is gone for couple months; Kirk Cousins did just fine replacing him. Funny how Daniel Snyder was quick to defend Roger Goodell, throwing "Redskins" into his statement, As for Jacksonville, looks like another long year, but they do have nice uniforms. .
10) Cowboys 26, Titans 10-- 220 rushing yards for Dallas- they had 76-49 edge in plays run, converting 9-13 on third down. Tennessee only ran ball 13 times out of 49 plays, after running it 38 of 75 plays last week. Dallas is now 14-8 vs spread in its last 22 games as a road underdog.
9) Cardinals 25, Giants 14-- Big Blue is minus-6 in turnovers after two games, in which they were -14 in field position in both games-- they also allowed a TD on a punt return. Drew Stanton gets win as backup QB; Arizona is off to a 2-0 start.
8) Patriots 30, Vikings 7-- Pats are now 26-9 vs spread in game follwoing a loss, as Vikings' run game was impotent without Peterson. NE blocked FG for a TD, also had a 1-yard TD drive, after one of their four INTs- they also had 15 penalties for 163 yards. Rough day for former Patriot Matt Cassel.
7) Browns 26, Saints 24-- Cleveland had 4th-and-7 on last drive and Saints didn't blitz; why? Saints scored 55 points in first two games, and are 0-2; why exactly does Rob Ryan keep getting jobs? Pick-6 that Brees threw in 2nd quarter that put Browns up 16-3 was only defensive TD of day, league-wide.
6) Bengals 24, Falcons 10-- Cincy gained 472 yards, were +3 in turnovers, but lost AJ Green to a toe injury. Bengals averaged 12.6 yards per pass attempt, after last week, when they only scored one TD. Atlanta also allowed 472 yards last week.
5) Rams 19, Buccaneers 17-- St Louis ended 0-12 skid in road openers, winning in backup QB Davis' 1st NFL start. Bucs start 0-2 at home; both opponents played a backup QB. Zeurlein kicked four FGs, including game-winner with 0:38 left.
4) Chargers 30, Seahawks 21-- 7 catches, 96 yards, 3 TDs for TE Gates, as San Diego hung 30 on a Seattle team that is still way better at home than on foreign soil. Adrian Peterson got paid $705,882 this week; that's $43,448 more than Seahawks are paying Russell Wilson all season.
3) Texans 30, Raiders 14-- Oakland is -6 in turnovers, but at least the A's won two of three in Seattle this weekend. Texans had 24-yard edge in field position; James Jones fumbled twice on one play- you don't see that too often. Last week there were 75 offensive TDs in 16 games; this week so far, 62 in 15 games.
2) Broncos 24, Chiefs 17-- Manning misses Wes Welker, a lot. In their two games, Denver has gained 148 yards on 41 second half plays, with one TD, one FG. First half numbers: 72 plays, 536 yards, with six TDs, one FG- thats a big difference, but they're 2-0 as they head out on road next week.
1) Packers 31, Jets 24-- Jets led 21-3 midway thru second quarter, but Nelson had nine catches for 209 yards-- his 16 targets were most Rodgers has ever targeted one receiver in a game. Both teams made a 50+-yard FG, you don't see that a lot. Jets have to be little bit encouraged with how QB Smith played.
0) Bears 28, 49ers 20-- Niners led 17-0 in their new stadium, but then imploded in second half; Chicago had four consecutive TD drives, gaining 205 yards on 25 plays. NFL teams that turn ball over four times rarely win.
There were 26 penalties in this game, for 176 yards-- its almost like someone who hates football now makes the rules, so everyone else will stop liking it. No one goes to games to watch flags being thrown-- lets the guys play- thats a better game.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) Boston College 37, USC 31-- Rushing yardage was 452-20 BC, as Eagles won as a 17-point underdog, wearing Trojans out with a terrific running game. USC was coming off of an emotional Stanford win; their defense is not deep.
12) UCLA 20, Texas 17-- Check out this video of Rick Neuheisel watching his son Jerry lead the Bruins to a win over the Longhorns. Young Neuheisel is the backup for UCLA; he was 23-30 for 178 yards and threw a 33-yard TD pass with 3:00 left to give the Bruins a solid road win. The video is worth your time.
11) Arizona State 38, Colorado 24-- Senior QB Taylor Kelly hurt his right foot, had it in a boot, which is very bad news for the Sun Devils, who play UCLA in two weeks, in a game where both starting QBs might be out.
10) Iowa State 20, Iowa 17-- Football teams have 22 starting players, plus punter and kicker; Cyclones have two starters named Sam Richardson. QB Sam passed for 255 yards as Iowa State won this rivalry game with a last-minute FG.
9) South Carolina 38, Georgia 35-- Some day 10 or 15 years from now, someone at ESPN will do documentary on what a great college football coach Steve Spurrier was. Gamecocks had a surprising lack of football success before he got there. Now a 2-1 start is considered a disappointment, but this was a great win.
8) Duke 41, Kansas 3-- Someone who is a lot smarter than me has to explain to me how the hell Charlie Weis is still employed as a Division I football coach. If he could not win at Notre Dame, a school with vast resources, how the hell would he ever win at Kansas, which is eagerly awaiting the start of basketball practice?
7) Bowling Green 45, Indiana 42-- Falcons' QB James Knapke was 46-73 passing in this game; Roger Lewis caught 16 passes for 149 yards. Six of the 14 teams in the most overrated league in America lost yesterday. Indiana is in same boat as Kansas, waiting for hoops practice.
6) East Carolina 28, Virginia Tech 21-- Hokies couldn't stand prosperity after their upset win at Ohio State last week. ECU's senior QB Carden passed for 427 yards in this gane. Can the Pirates win the AAC in their first year there?
5) Cincinnati 58, Toledo 34-- Nomadic QB Gunner Kiel, who committed to four different colleges before he ever played in a college game, was 29-42/436 passing in his college debut, showing why LSU and Notre Dame wanted him. Kiel's uncle was once a QB/punter for the Buccaneers in the NFL.
4) Michigan 34, Miami Oh 10-- These two schools, as well as Stanford and the Naval Academy, are the only four colleges to produce both a US President and a Super Bowl winning quarterback.
3) Georgia Tech 42, Georgia Southern 38-- Yellow Jackets led 35-10 at the half, then had to score a TD with 0:33 to avoid a ridiculous collapse. Tech threw four TD passes, unusual for them. Eagles are now 0-2 vs ACC teams, losing by a combined total of five points.
2) West Virginia 40, Maryland 37-- Senior QB Trickett was 37-49/511 passing as WVU kicked the game-winning 47-yard FG at the gun. Maryland had tied the game with a 69-yard punt return with 9:43 left. Quite a game. Mountaineers gained 694 yards and still needed a FG at the end to win.
1) Middle Tennessee 50, Western Kentucky 47 OT-- Blue Raiders gave up 718 yards on 102 plays and won; welcome to modern college football. BC coach Steve Addazio is an old offensive line coach; he detests all this spread offense, so he would not have liked seeing WKU QB Brendan Doughty go 43-66 for 593 yards.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind......
13) I’m in a 16-team keeper fantasy baseball league; our 10th season is wrapping up this week. We can draft minor leaguers; the youngest one I ever picked up was an 18-year old in the Florida State League named Mike Stanton.
He is now known as Giancarlo and is one of the best players in baseball. Picked him up because of an article Peter Gammons wrote about him and obviously its worked out very well, but am obviously concerned about him after he got hit in the face by a pitch Thursday and suffered multiple facial fractures.
Someone has to teach him how to get away from the ball, to turn his head back towards the backstop to protect himself. My team’s season is done; just hope he feels better and his bones heal.
12) Long time ago, friend of mine who played soccer broke his cheekbone playing; they told me the cheekbone is attached to the skull in three places, kind of like a 3-legged table; I’m wondering if Stanton’s “multiple facial fractures” are like that. Has to be a scary thing; he’s going to be making some visits to the dentist, too.
11) One of the NFL stats I’m going to be on top of this year is how teams do on drives that start 80+ yards from the end zone; I think this is a really good measure of how much an offense can carry a team , as opposed to a team taking advantage of turnovers and special teams play. We’ll give you some numbers once a few more games have been played.
10) Totally surprised that Spain lost at home to France in the FIBA basketball tournament; was looking forward to a US-Spain final. Apparently the Spaniards were, too and they got ambushed. Too bad; takes whatever little drama there was out of the tournament.
9) If this had been a slower news week, some pro golfers would’ve gotten skewered badly, after whining about the FedEx playoffs being too much of a grind. They’re playing big money tourneys for a $10M first prize and they’re complaining? Oy.
8) Pac-12 road favorites are 1-6 vs spread in non-conference games so far this season; Big 14 home favorites are 4-7 against the spread.
7) Home teams are 7-4 against the spread in the few conference games that have been played so far this season.
6) HBO won’t be doing a 24/7 show based on the NHL outdoor game this December; too bad. Those shows had been very well done and were fun to watch.
5) NFL needs to pull back on their “defenseless receiver” penalties, its ruining the game. Defensive backs can’t play anymore, everything they do is a penalty. It has become touch football and it is not good; rules of the game are strangling the game, because everyone is afraid of being sued.
4) 7.6 million Americans don’t live in this country;was surprised by that number.
3) Villanova signed top guard recruit Jalen Brunson, who was headed to Temple with his dad, former NBA player Rick Brunson, until his dad got in trouble and lost the coaching job Temple was going to give him. No coaching job, no kid, so Villanova beat out Illinois for Jalen’s services, a very good get for Jay Wright.
2) Jeff Wilpon, a major nitwit and son of Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon, is in hot water for firing a Mets’ employee because she had a kid out of wedlock. Met fans are praying that Jeff Wilpon is forced out of baseball, which would then prod his father to sell the team, since he would have no one to leave it to. If that ever happens, that woman and her kid would be two of the most popular people in Queens. Ever. The Wilpons need to go for the Mets to be good again.
1) Looks like there will be legal wagering on NFL games in New Jersey around Halloween; hard to believe they’ll have it and other states won’t hop on the bandwagon. Supposedly they’re going to build a casino in this area pretty soon too; would be great fun to be able to go there and place a bet. It has the potential to be a big money maker for the government; we’ll see if they screw it up or do it right.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.......
13) Subplot A in Oakland: Raiders’ rookie QB Derek Carr goes up against Houston, the team that once made his older brother David its franchise QB. Subplot B: Former Texans QB Matt Schaub is now Carr’s backup in Oakland.
12) East Carolina gave South Carolina fits last week, before losing 33-23; Virginia Tech had a great win at Ohio State. How do the Hokies respond to being a double digit favorite after being giant-killers last week?
11) Viking QB Matt Cassel was Tom Brady’s backup from 2005-08, and led New England to an 11-5 record in ’08, after Brady got hurt in the opener. Pats-Vikings is Minnesota’s first outdoor home game in over 30 years.
10) USC travels to Boston College, long trip after an emotional win last week at Stanford, especially against an Eagle team they pounded last year in LA.
9) Redskins are big favorites over Jacksonville after scoring six points in Houston last week; they scored first, got the PAT blocked and never scored again.
8) Weird Game of the Week: Boise State at UConn—why? Then I realized that at one time, Boise committed to joining the Big East, more for basketball than football. Boise is in Idaho, not even sure if it is eastern Idaho-- parts of our world have gotten a little too confusing.
\7) Cardinals/Giants both played on Monday night; long trip east for Arizona team that had to rally from behind to nip San Diego late Monday night. Giants’ receivers look lost in their new offense. It is still throwing/catching the ball, fellas.
6) UCLA at Texas—We may find out how faithful the Longhorn faithful are this week, after Texas got drubbed by BYU last week. Bruins figure to do the same here. Pretty soon people in Austin are going to be missing ol’ Mack Brown.
5) Tampa Bay Bucs lost at home to a backup QB (Derek Anderson) last week; now the Rams come calling this week, with either Shaun Hill or Austin Davis under center. Must-win for the Buccaneers.
4) Arkansas-Texas Tech used to be rivals in the old SEC but its been two decades since they last met. This is a winnable game for both sides and an interesting Big X-SEC game that will impact conference power ratings for the 4-team playoff in January.
3) Falcons-Bengals is an underrated game this week. Friends of mine are driving from Albany to Cincinnati for this one, 11 hours, not really sure why. Flying would seem to be more fun, but driving is probably cheaper.
2) Georgia visits a South Carolina team whose defense is struggling, but played better vs Wast Carolina last week. Going to be hard to contain the Dawg’s high-powered running game though.
1) Dodgers-Giants and A’s-Mariners are the two biggest baseball series this weekend. Giants have rebounded to get back into contention; the Dodgers just have so much talent, even though it seems like they’re underachieving, they’re still in first place. in NL West
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) It is not easy getting tee times in the New York area on Labor Day weekend; this from CBSSports.com:
“The Trump National Golf Club, the Winged Foot and Willow Ridge were among some of the elite courses that rebuffed the president's request to tee off there, according to several sources who were told about the president's advance team's calls to the club managers. Club managers apparently did not want to inconvenience their high-powered and high-paying members over Labor Day weekend by shutting down their courses to accommodate the president."
President Obama couldn’t get a tee time on Long Island Labor Day weekend. He’s the most powerful man in the world. Yikes.
12) Drew Smyly has pitched really well for the Rays since coming over from Detroit, but he’s at 153 IP for this year, 27 over his previous career high, so Tampa Bay, which isn’t contending, shut Smyly down for the season.
One big indicator for injuries to pitchers is when a guy exceeds his career high by more than 20%, which is why you see lot of younger pitchers getting shut down or pushed back between starts.
11) After only one week, there are only entrants 1,644 alive in Station's Last Man Standing pro football contest out in Las Vegas. 4,064 entered. Winning prize is $94,025. Losing more than half the entrants in a week isn't normal.
10) USC is already playing 11 true freshman on its football team, an awful lot, but they’re 20 players short of the scholarship limit, so they lack talented depth.
9) Speaking of USC, AD/alum/former NFL QB Pat Haden was very emotional on the sidelines when the Trojans won at Stanford Saturday. If Haden had shown 10% of that emotion when he was playing QB for very good Rams’ teams in the 70’s, maybe he would’ve won a Super Bowl. Instead, the educated idiot went to law school while he was playing, compromising his performance (he admitted as much on Roy Firestone’s TV show after he retired).
8) Those Ram teams got to one Super Bowl, after the ’79 season, when Haden broke his finger in a game at Seattle, and Vince Ferragamo led the team to its NFC title. Rams led that great Pittsburgh team in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, but lost 31-19.
7) Football announcers are fond of describing an all-out pass rush by saying “…they really pinned their ears back”. This makes no sense to me; where did it come from? Why does every analyst say it? Why would someone put a pin on their ears? Sometimes unusual things bother me……
6) Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti said the team’s leadership “voted unanimously” to cut Ray Rice. Uh-huh; wonder if anyone suggested they call the league and make sure no other team could pick Rice up after they cut him? It’s a fair question and something they needed to cover themselves on; they wouldn’t want to cut him and then wind up playing against him.
5) A lawyer in New Jersey said Wednesday night that Rice would've been charged with third degree assault from the videotape evidence, even without his wife's cooperation. This has become a ridiculous mess; charge the guy with assault, throw him out of the NFL for a year and everyone moves on with their lives.
4) Kentucky will have nine (9!!!) McDonald’s All-Americans on its hoop team this fall. Hard to keep nine guys happy, especially if they all think they should be starting. Is there such a thing as too much talent?
3) There was a story around the Oregon waited a while to dismiss three basketball players who were accused of sexual assault because firing them right away would’ve hurt their APR score, which would’ve risked making the Ducks ineligible for postseason, as well as costing the coach and AD bonuses for keeping their APR score at a certain level.
While it may be a little shady, it is also smart management; its not illegal, maybe a tad unethical, but who amongst us wouldn’t do the same thing?
2) Talked about this earlier in the week, but the Bengals put a guy on their practice squad that they had earlier cut, just so he could maintain his health insurance to care for his 4-year old daughter, who has cancer. They didn’t have to do this, but they did and it is both classy and touching.
1) Arnold Palmer turned 85 yesterday; one of the truly legendary Americans, maybe a better businessman than he was a golfer. Happy birthday, sir.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) There were 129 plays of 20+ yards in the NFL last week; only 29 of them (23.4%) happened on third down. You’d think offenses would be more aggressive on third down, but maybe defenses are more aggressive, too.
12) Falcons/Steelers (8 each) had the most 20+ yard plays, Packers/Raiders (1 each) had the least.
11) Teams averaged 4.93 points per possessions when they got in the red zone (other team’s 20-yard line); Saints (38 points/6 trips), Falcons (21/3), Denver (24/4) did the best in the red zone.
Jaguars (0/1), Eagles/Texans (3/2 each), Jets (13/4) did the worst. Rams (0/1) only got there once.
10) There were 196 drives last week where teams started 80+ yards from the goal line; 34 (17.3%) of those resulted in TD’s. 23 of the 34 drives were exactly 80 yards; 11 were longer.
9) Teams averaged 1.47 points/possession on drives that started 80+ yards from goal line and that was with Atlanta scoring TD’s on four 80+-yard drives.
8) Teams converted 42.2% (166-393) of third down plays, which means teams averaged 12.2 third down plays per game. Just converting those plays flips field position and have hidden value in game stats.
7) Was very impressed by Charger kick coverage team Monday night; thought they had lot of fast guys who tackled well.
6) Was also impressed Monday night by how aggressive the Arizona pass rush was on the last series, bltizing to try and keep Philip Rivers off-rhythm. Much better plan than sitting back and letting a veteran QB pick them apart.
5) Tennessee Titans dropped from 100-1 to 60-1 in futures wagering on the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, all based on one strong game.
4) Buffalo Sabres’ owner Terry Pagula is going to be very popular in western New York, if he buys the Buffalo Bills and keeps them in western New York, as he said he’ll do.
3) Mets shut down David Wright for the last 18 days of the season; he has issues with his shoulder, which may be why he had a sub-par season.
2) 40+ years ago, Marvin Barnes teamed with flashy PG Ernie Degregorio to lead Providence to the 1973 Final Four. Barnes was the beast of the team, Degregorio its cocky floor leader- they were a lot of fun to watch. Barnes passed away this week at age 62, way too young to go. He was a great college player.
1) I am totally convinced that the best way for NFL teams to score more points would be to take Sundays away from the coaches, in other words, take the damn mikes out of the helmet, let quarterbacks call the plays and let the players own Sundays. You’d see more wide open play, better football.
Most football coaches are so damn conservative, they strangle the game.
Tuesday's List of 13: Not your average Monday.....
13) NFL banned Ray Rice from playing for punching his fiance, who apparently lacks in decision making skills, since she married the guy after he laid her out in a casino elevator. She probably married Rice because he was rich; now? Not so much.
12) About 20 minutes after Rice got banned, which is huge news, the NCAA PR geniuses decided to announce that Penn State has been let off the hook for the Jerry Sandusky debasco. Lions are bowl eligible now, and will have their full boat of scholarships again, starting in 2015-16. A slap on the wrist.
This is called burying news on a day when they can't get the headline; Bruce Pearl got more probation for inviting a recruit to his house for a cookout than Penn State did for knowingly harboring a pedophile for over a decade.
Female journalists got on their high horse about the Rice incident; but aren't too prominent in defending children in central Pennsylvania.
11) Folks at USC aren't too pleased either; they got hammered over the Reggie Bush thing. USC has 65 kids on scholarship right now. Which offense was worse, paying off a star player's family, or harboring a pedophile?
If the NCAA isn't careful, AD Pat Haden will fly to Kansas and run into the NCAA offices to yell at their enforcement staff, the way he did at Stanford Saturday.
10) Maybe all the new bowl games are a factor; its going to look ridiculous when losing teams play in bowl games this December. Having as many big name teams as possible be bowl eligible helps everyone save face. Penn State has a lot of loyal fans who will travel to a bowl. If you think that wasn't a factor, you're naive.
9) Then there's the nitwit who is selling the Atlanta Hawks; he tried to sell the team three years ago, but couldn't find a buyer. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but do you think he saw what Donald Sterling got for the Clippers, and suddenly decided it would be very profitable to be labeled a racist?
Now that he called himself out as racist, he figures the NBA will help find him a buyer who will cough up major money, especially with the new TV deal about to kick in. Getting a check for $1B softens the blow of being called a racist.
8) Lot of talk on September 9 about Jim Harbaugh leaving the 49ers after this year; either the Dolphins or U of Michigan, where Harbaugh played. Miami has a good coach, but he's an anonymous guy, so could be sacrificed to hire a big name unless the Fish win big this season. Harbaugh has won huge in San Francisco.
7) Brett Favre and Peyton Manning are only two QBs in NFL history to beat all 32 NFL teams; Brady has never played against the Patriots, obviously.
6) Colts' star LB Robert Mathis tore his achilles while working out on his own and is out for the year; he was suspended for the first four games already.
5) Westgate Hotel sportsbook guru Jay Kornegay said that Sunday was one of the most profitable NFL days the casino has ever had. The public bets favorites.
4) Good program on ESPNU Mondays; Crunch Time- they show the key parts to all the close games on Saturday's college football card.
3) It is important to not overreact to Week 1 NFL results, it really is.
2) Belated best wishes to Ron Washington, who did great things as a coach for the A's and manager in Texas. Hope whatever the problems are get resolved soon.
1) Spent much of Monday in a veterans' hospital with my dad, who is undergoing some treatment; the people there are so nice, its encouraging to see. The VA staff works very hard, and I appreciate that. Sometimes unimportant things take over in our lives-- a day like Monday reinforced what the most important things are.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday......
13) Falcons 37, Saints 34 OT-- Best game of day, but not lot of defense; only one of nine TD drives was less than 80 yards and that was 71. Teams combined to go 14 of 24 on third down. Falcons averaged 10.1 yards per pass attempt.
12) Vikings 34, Rams 6-- Worst game of day, good start for Mike Zimmer, who had to wait until age 58 to get his first head coaching job. Norv Turner made good use of speedy WR Patterson in this game-- he's a weapon.
11) Steelers 30, Browns 27-- Pittsburgh blew 27-3 halftime lead, then won at gun on a 41-yard FG. Hoyer played whole game for Browns, who gained 389 yards and didn't turn ball over. Only one TD in three red zone trip for Steelers.
10) Eagles 34, Jaguars 17-- Jax scored early, with turnover-aided drives of 44-21 yards, and led 17-0 at halftime, but was outscored 34-0 in second half, with bad beat of day when Iggles scored defensive TD with 1:23 left for the cover.
9) Jets 19, Raiders 14-- Eight teams were +2 or better in turnovers this week; only the Raiders/Jaguars lost, maybe two worst teams in NFL. Jets outrushed Oakland 212-25, but had only one TD, two FGs on four red zone drives.
8) Bengals 23, Ravens 16-- Cincy tried FGs on six of first seven drives, making first five. Flacco blew easy FG just before half with pathetic clock management and it cost them late. Bengals hit AJ Green for game-winning bomb with 4:58 left.
7) Bills 23, Bears 20 OT-- Buffalo ran ball for 193 yards, had 14-yard advantage in field position- they averaged 7.3 yards per pass attempt, were +2 in turnovers. Jay Cutler passed for 341 yards, but also threw two interceptions.
6) Texans 17, Redskins 6-- Washington scored first, then had PAT blocked and never scored again. Houston blocked punt for TD, so rough day for Redskins' special teams. Teams combined for one TD, two empty trips on four red zone drives.
5) Titans 26, Chiefs 10-- KC was -24 in turnovers in 2012, +18 LY, now they're -3 this year. Titans had 162 rushing yards, 243 passing, as they outgained Chiefs by 160 yards and had 10-yard edge in field position.
4) Dolphins 33, Patriots 20-- Only thing more depressing than the Ram game was drafting Tom Brady in my fantasy league, then watching him get outscored by Ryan Tannehill, who doesn't even know which teams are in the AFC East. Dolphins had TD drives of 15 and 34 yards- they shut Patriots out in second half.
3) Panthers 20, Buccaneers 14-- Carolina gets a divisional road win with Newton in street clothes; rookie WR Benjamin looks like a keeper for Panthers. Tampa Bay DB dropped an INT in last 2:00 that would've set up at least a trying FG, then they fumbled on first play after the Carolina punt.
2) 49ers 28, Cowboys 17-- FOX had two 4:25 games; they insist on pretending the Cowboys are good, so they get marquee games. Since 1997, Dallas is 137-138 in the regular season, with one playoff win. Their last winning season was in 2009.
1) Broncos 31, Colts 24-- Week 1 so far: favorites are 4-9-1 vs spread, home dogs are 2-1. Under is 9-5 with two games left. Denver had a 24-7 lead at the half, then hung on for dear life for the win. Luck was impressive in the second half.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) Last time Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State all lost on the same day was in 1988; this was a very bad day for the Big 14, but Rutgers beat Howard, so they have that. Central Michigan won 38-17 at Purdue. Oy.
12) Memo to whoever the coach is at Michigan next year: recruit a QB who can throw the ball. Maybe Brady Hoke will go on to have a great career in Ann Arbor, but if he does, he better as good a QB as the one he had at Ball State, who was a lot better than the one he has now.
11) USC 13, Stanford 10-- Big win for Trojans was overshadowed by USC AD Pat Haden coming out of the press box to bitch at officials on the USC sideline. No one on TV could ever remember an AD pulling a stunt like that before.
10) How has Stanford not retired #7? You know, John Elway's number.
9) BYU 41, Texas 7-- Cougars hammered Texas 41-20 LY, running ball for 550 yards- they only had 248 in this game, which was 6-0 at half, but natives are going to get restless with losses like this, while Charlie Strong seems to be running guys out of the program.
8) Washington 59, Eastern Washington 52-- Eagles are I-AA; game was 37-31 at the half. Huskies struggled with Hawai'i last week, but 2-0 is 2-0.
7) Nebraska 31, McNeese State 24-- This would've gone to OT, if not for a great catch/run by Ameer Abdullah in the last minute to save the day. Joe Dumars is the most famous alum of McNeese; they're I-AA in football, not basketball.
6) Maryland 24, USF 17-- Terps are first team in three years to win a game when they were -5 or worse in turnovers. In other words, they got lucky.
5) North Carolina 31, San Diego State 27-- Aztecs gained 509 yards in Chapel Hill, but threw a pick-6 early on, then another INT in the end zone in last minute. This was a game San Diego State should've won.
4) South Carolina 33, East Carolina 23-- Pirates outgained Carolina 453-441; Dawgs-Gamecocks is an interesting tilt next weekend. ECU is pretty good.
3) Illinois 42, Western Kentucky 34-- Illini had two defensive TDs, WKU had one. Oklahoma State transfer Lunt was 35-50/456 passing for Illinois.
2) Iowa 17, Ball State 13-- Hawkeyes scored two TDs in last 3:00 to avoid losing to David Letterman's alma mater- this was an ugly day for the Big 14.
1) How do the PGA Tour honchos expect fans to watch golf today, when Phil Mickelson quit the tournament in Colorado, saying he needed to get ready for the Ryder Cup in three weeks? How else would you get ready for a golf event than by playing golf? Mickelson is probably in Las Vegas betting football today.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Guy on Long Island found some lottery tickets in his truck, went inside and checked the results—he had a $2.9M ticket sitting on floor of his truck, collecting dust. Now he’s pretty rich and much more popular. One of his employees said “He never used to smile.” Go figure.
12) Cris Collinsworth was talking on TV last week about owner Mike Brown of the Bengals and how he has done stuff for players/ex-players that no one knows about, acts of kindness. Before he hired Marvin Lewis, Brown used to get ripped for having such a bad team, while supposedly being cheap. Lewis has made the team respectable and according to Collinsworth, Brown is far from cheap.
11) College of Charleston had a big problem when they fired basketball coach Doug Wojcik this summer; apparently the school president used to own a shop that sold Confederate stuff from the Civil War and he was in favor or flying the rebel flag, things like that, not exactly what you would want if you’re recruiting players for a sport played primarily by African-Americans.
So what did they do? They went out and hired an African-American head coach, passing over former Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz in the process. Lutz is way more qualified than an entry level head coach, but Charleston has a serious perception problem and they hope this hire will make that problem go away.
10) Sounds like the Texans tried to trade for Philly’s Matt Barkley before they acquired QB Ryan Mallett from New England. Houston then cut backup QB Case Keenum, who was scooped up by the Rams. Not good for QB’s to be changing teams right before the season.
9) UConn women’s hoop coach Geno Auriemma called the 13-year old girl who pitched in the Little League World Series; he congratulated her, the call lasted two minutes and now this is an NCAA thing? Seriously?
The young lady expressed an interest in playing for the Huskies one day, so the guy called her up- she’s still in junior high. I thought NCAA enforcers were overworked; how could this possibly have become a thing?
8) Fast food workers in San Diego were striking Thursday; they want $15 an hour. If they get what they want, the places will just go out of business and those people will lose their jobs. Striking is rarely a brilliant idea.
7) UNLV point guard Daquan Cook was going to redshirt this year anyway, but now he’ll be rehabbing his torn up knee. Cook tore an ACL and needs surgery. Rebels have USF transfer Cody Doolin to run the show this year- they’re going to look a lot different than they did last winter, with five new starters and former LMU coach Max Good now an assistant to Dave Rice.
6) Guy on the Interweb met Joe Namath this week, had him sign a game ticket to Super Bowl III, when the Jets upset the then-Baltimore Colts 16-7. Not sure what that ticket is worth now but in January 1969, it cost $12 to get in the game. You can’t park your car at a Super Bowl for $12 now.
5) In three of Edinson Volquez’ last four starts, game was 0-0 after 5th inning. He’s pitching much better but not getting much run support.
4) Browns’ WR Josh Gordon is suspended for this season, so he’s selling cars to make money. Will be curious to hear if he sells a lot of cars.
3) Unusual to read about Bills coach Doug Marrone and his fairly public squabble with people in the Bills’ front office. Sounds like they don’t work well together. It is misleading by the way, to say that Marrone was the Saints’ offensive coordinator under Sean Payton; that may have been his title, but make no mistake about it, Payton is the offensive coordinator/head coach on Bourbon Street.
2) Watching Hard Knocks on HBO the other night, saw a very cool 3-tiered driving range they have in Atlanta, where one of the Falcons was hitting golf balls with his girlfriend. Don’t have anything like that here in Albany; too bad.
1) I’m thinking when we see the Ravens play this fall, its going to be fairly clear that going from Jim Caldwell to Gary Kubiak at offensive coordinator is going to be a huge upgrade for John Harbaugh’s team.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend......
13) There are three home underdogs in the NFL this weekend: Falcons-Dolphins-Cowboys. Which one has the best chance of winning? I’d say Atlanta, based on Siants’ struggles away from the Superdome in recent years.
12) Michigan State-Oregon is a statement game for conference supremacy, which is more important now, with the 4-team playoff looming for the first time. Spartans have had a very good defense recently; it gets a huge test this week in Eugene.
11) Buccaneers (4-12 last year) are 2-point favorites over Carolina (12-4 last year); was Lovie Smith that much of an upgrade over Greg Schiano, the last Tampa coach? (yes) Bucs' defense will force more turnovers under Lovie Smith.
10) Stanford-USC is Steve Sarkisian’s first Pac-12 game with the Trojans, as both teams step way up in class after dismantling inferior opponents last week. Cardinal has won five of last seven series games.
9) Since 1990, only 25% of NFL teams who lost their opener made it to the playoffs; keep that in mind while your favorite team plays Sunday.
8) Notre Dame-Michigan are playing for the last time in the foreseeable future, as Irish will be playing more ACC teams as payment for that league letting Notre Dame play basketball in the ACC, thereby siphoning off some of their NCAA tournament money. One thing about Notre Dame, they make a lot of money.
7) Giants were 5-0 this preseason, but no one thought they played well- their subs pulled some games out at the end and they won ‘em all this summer. Now comes the opener in Detroit; Lions have better talent, but Coughlin vs Caldwell is an epic coaching mismatch.
6) BYU ran the football for 550 yards in a 41-20 dismantling of Texas last year. 550 yards. You think the Texas conditioning coach mentioned that once or twice during conditioning drills this winter? 5) Oakland’s Derek Carr is the only rookie QB starting this week, while Jets start 2nd-year QB Geno Smith. Big difference between playing for Fresno State and starting in the NFL, but Carr beat out Matt Schaub—we’ll see how he does.
4) Texas A&M’s offense treated South Carolina like a piñata last week, scoring 52 points in Columbia; how do the Gamecocks bounce back as a double digit favorite over an East Carolina squad with experienced QB Shane Carden running the show? Pirates have historically played their BCS opponents pretty tough.
3) How much will Peyton Manning miss Wes Welker and which Bronco will step up and make the plays Welker would’ve?
2) Oakland A’s need to right their ship this weekend against Houston; 23 games left, they need to play pretty good ball to make the playoffs. A’s were terrific for four months, then dreadful in August; September needs to be a better month.
1) How will Shaun Hill do against Minnesota, in his first NFL start since 2010? He has a 13-13 record as an NFL starter. Will the Rams be improved? How will Matt Cassel do in Norv Turner’s offense?
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff on a late summer day.....
13) Spent all day Wednesday in a pre-retirement seminar for my day job, as I'm approaching the end of my tenure there. One thing I thought a lot about-- we need to do career counseling for high school kids, let them see what their options are for their adult lives, before they get there. Kids would make better decisions if they knew more about the big picture- I really believe that.
12) There were 250 people at this seminar; lot of people looking ahead to their future with optimism.
One thing I learned today: 57 million people are currently cashing social security checks of some kind.
11) Mets are 14-2 this season when Kirk Nieuwenhuis starts in the outfield.
10) Speaking of Met outfielders, Curtis Granderson has already had seven streaks this year, where he went 0-17 or worse each time. No bueno.
9) NBA player Al Harrington is 6-foot-9; he played 500+ minutes last year, but did not block one shot. Hard to believe.
8) Worst part of the 6-game suspension for Colts' owner Jim Irsay might be his tweeting ban; he seems like an eccentric, nice guy. We wish him well.
7) Padres' rookie Cory Spangenberg hit a walkoff homer Tuesday night that was also his first major league tater-- not a bad time to do that.
6) Jets were 5-1 last year in games decided by 7 or less points, despite having a dismal -14 turnover ratio. Odd combination of stats. Both of those stats regress to the middle, so their turnover ratio figures to improve this year, especially since thyey won't be using a rookie QB this season.
5) Why teams lose: three years ago, Jacksonville drafted a punter in the third round, when Russell Wilson was still on the board. Whoops.
4) Guy on a TV commercial says he runs "....because running gives me patience." I don't run because running would give me a heart attack. So there........
3) 11 of 16 Tennessee Titan games last year were decided by 7 or less points; only four of the Rams' 16 games were that close.
2) Carolina Panthers were 5-2 last year in games decided by 7 or less points, which lot of people will tell you makes it harder for them to repeat their 12-4 record again this season. Lot of things went Carolina's way last season.
1) When Giarcarlo Stanton bats, I flip to that channel; always.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) How different would Week 1 of the NFL season be if there were no exhibition games? Watching college games last weekend, they played pretty well, considering they don’t have any dress rehearsals like the pros do.
12) Why is Gene Chizik working in the SEC Network TV studio while Charlie Weis has a head coaching job? Chizik won a national title at Auburn, somehow got fired there shortly after, and now can’t get another job? Meanwhile, Weis keeps getting jobs like he’s freakin’ Bear Bryant. Go figure.
11) Cubs’ OF prospect Jorge Soler is off to a hot start in Chicago, going 11-22 in his first few games. Then again, Alcantara and Baez got off to hot starts when they first got to the majors too; now, Alcantara is batting .220, Baez .175. Being a really good hitter in the big leagues is difficult.
10) Speaking of major league debuts, Dodger prospect Joc Pederson made his Monday night against Washington. Pederson was the first 30/30 (homers/steals) guy in the PCL in 80 years- his dad Stu Pederson played in eight games for the Dodgers in 1985, going 0-4 with a sac fly. How weird must it be for him to see his son playing for the same team, 29 years later?
9) If I had a daughter, one of the last places on earth I’d want her to be would be handing water bottles to college football players on the sidelines during a game. Just an invitation for trouble; I see these girls there and I think there’s got to be a better way to earn your work-study money, as in, almost anything else.
8) Baylor QB Bryce Petty cracked two vertebrae in his back Sunday against SMU; I read something on the Interweb that said “Petty’s back injury” like it was a pulled muscle. He cracked two freakin’ vertebrae!!!! I’m thinking that’s kind of serious.
7) Central Florida changed QB’s at halftime of their game with Penn State in Ireland; the Holman kid who played in the second half was terrific, 1,000 times better than the starter, who undoubtedly is no longer the starter.
Coaching is funny, because some kids are gamers, they just play better when the bright lights go on, but you can’t find that out until they actually get in a game.
6) Classic sandwich game for a young Tennessee Vols squad this week; coming off their Sunday night opening win against Utah State and with a trip to Oklahoma on deck, Tennessee hosts Arkansas State from the Sun Belt this weekend.
Normally, the talent disparity between the teams would be enough for the Vols, but sometimes young teams play to the level of their opponent, especially with a higher profile game on deck. Plus, seldom do college teams play on a short work wee- Tennessee’s game was Sunday, not Saturday.
5) Wonder if it is a coincidence that Adam Dunn wears the same number 10 for the A’s that Dave Kingman did? Both low average guys with lot of power, though Dunn walks lot more than Kingman ever did. Dunn’s career on-base percentage is .365; highest OB% Kingman ever had in one season was .343.
4) Weird college football game of the week: Colorado at UMass—think Ralphie the buffalo is making the trip? That’s a long road trip to play a poor team.
3) Think Texas Longhorns have this week’s game with BYU circled on the schedule? BYU crushed the Longhorns 40-21 LY as 7-point underdogs, running ball down Texas’ throats 72 times for 550 yards. Yes, they had 550 rushing yards against Texas. Am guessing that was discussed in their weight room once or thrice this past winter/spring.
2) Someone on ESPN suggested blowing off work Tuesday to watch the US-New Zealand basketball game; now no one likes blowing off work more than I do, but for that to happen, the game I want to watch would have to have a point spread of less than 30. These games haven't been very good so far, other than the first half of the game with Turkey, which has one NBA player.
1) Apparently the European captain of the Ryder Cup team left Luke Donald off the team, in a semi-controversial move.
Quick question: All I know about the Ryder Cup is that it is broadcast on NBC, but wouldn’t it be cool if the Americans could add Donald to their team, just to add a little WWE-style drama to the event? Just askin’…..
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Why so much day baseball on Labor Day? Teams shouldn't have to play day games if they traveled the day before-- hurts quality of the product. Game in Miami with the Mets Monday was an awful display-- not very good concentration.
12) What mental midget designed the Marlins' stadium? When Giancarlo Stanton bolts Miami for greener pa$ture$, part of the reason will be how many home runs that ballpark cost him. Your best player is a slugger; build a normal ballpark.
11) Cole Hamels and three relievers combined to no-hit the Braves in Atlanta; he walked five guys, struck out seven, so his pitch count got to 108 after six innings, and he got pulled with nine outs to go.
10) Florida Gators suspended three players for the Idaho game Saturday; the game got postponed after one play due to lightning, but the three guys got off the hook and were re-instated. The seldom-seen one play suspension.
9) Arkansas-Auburn were 21-all at halftime Saturday; Razorback coaches in the press box got stuck in an elevator going to the locker room and never made it there to make halftime adjustments. Auburn outscored the Hogs 24-0 in the second half.
8) There is a reality show about Arena Football on cable these days; the LA Kiss are featured, partially owned by Paul Stanley/Gene Simmons of KISS, who appear to know very little about sports. The Kiss are an expansion team, but they keep talking about their team winning a championship this year, which would be really, really unusual, almost miraculous.
No one associated with the team has the onions to tell Stanley/Simmons that it takes a while for a team to become good, as in....years. Will be interesting to see how they react when the unevitable losing starts. Name of the show is 1st and Loud.
One more thing about the show: the coaches come off like morons, just yelling and screaming at players like Bobby Knight-wannabes. Not good.
7) Buffalo Bills named six team captains this weekend, none of whom is the QB, EJ Manuel. Not a great sign for Manuel.
6) Texas Longhorns' QB David Ash (concussion) will miss this week's game vs BYU; Texas also lost center Espinosa for the season, a big blow.
5) Tulane will christen new Yulman Stadium this weekend, playing on-campus for the first time since the Superdome opened almost 40 years ago. Hard to believe, but Tulane Stadium once hosted three Super Bowl, in the 70's.
4) Red Sox TV guy Don Orsillo was talking about team dress codes Monday; he said when Terry Francona managed the Sox, his team's dress code was "....don't look as bad as I do." Seems like everyone likes Francona.
3) NBC's golf announcers talk too much about the Ryder Cup, like its the most important event of the year. Here's a clue; Chris Kirk won $1.44M this week; am guessing that means more to him than playing in the Ryder Cup, even if it is going to be broadcast on NBC.
Kirk is also first in the Fed Ex Cup standings; think the $10M first prize means a little to him?
2) USC ran over 100 plays for 700+ yards against Fresno State Saturday; this week, the competition stiffens, with the Stanford game on tap. Big early season tilt.
1) Adam Dunn's first AB for Oakland was a homer, as the A's scored five times in first inning and won a big game against Seattle, behind Jason Hammel's pitching.
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.
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