Wednesday's List of 13:
Nobody asked me, but.......
Baseball, hockey info every day during the season.....
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Odds on winning the 2014 US Open golf tournament
Quote of the Day
How many years was the city of Cleveland without the Browns, in between the original Browns moving to Baltimore, then the expansion team forming?
New York Knicks won two NBA titles; beating the Lakers in the Finals in both those seasons.
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Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) It is April 16 as I type this; my car is covered with an inch or two of snow; why any right-thinking human would live in the northeast is beyond me.
12) Lot of fuss is being made because Miami Heat didn't try too hard in a game they needed the other day to win the #1 seed in the East. Fact of the matter is this: only way the #1 seed really matters is if they faced Indiana in the Eastern finals. The way Indiana has been playing, they ain't winning two playoff series, so thats that.
Keeping Lebron James fresh is more important than getting home court advantage in a series that probably will never happen.
11) 20 pitchers have already gone in for Tommy John surgery this season, and the season is two weeks old. Thats a lot of injured pitchers.
10) Montreal Canadiens are the only Canadian team in the Stanley Cup playoffs;last time that happened was way back in 1973.
9) Jackie Robinson retired when the Dodgers traded him to the Giants, their rival; Robinson didn't want to play for the Giants, which makes it weird that their players all wear number 42 to honor him. Plus, San Francisco is one of three MLB teams (SF-StL-Arizona) that doesn't have an African-American player on its team.
In all, there are only 67 African-Americans in the big leagues right now; there are 16 guys from Cuba, and they have to defect to come here to play.
8) Herm Edwards found his calling in ESPN's studio; he is very good; outspoken, upbeat, fun to listen to.
7) That said, it is amazing how much attention ESPN gives the NFL; the draft is still three weeks away, the schedule isn't even out yet, but they have a daily show. There is only so much you can talk about college kids working out for pro teams.
6) California's new basketball coach is Cuonzo Martin, who felt unappreciated at Tennessee, so he bolted for the west coast. Not many people in Knoxville are that sad, but they're probably annoyed this happened after Bruce Pearl went to Auburn.
Tennessee administration better be careful hiring the new coach; players have said Martin was unappreciated by Tennessee people, so they were in his corner. A new coach is going to have to win over Martin's former players.
5) Eldrick Woods is 15-1 to win US Open, but Notah Begay, who played college golf with Woods, said Woods might not play until after the Open. Futures bets are losers if the player doesn't play, so caution is advised where Woods is concerned.
4) FOX will be televising the US Open starting in 2015; its two lead announcers will be Joe Buck/Greg Norman. Does Buck have to announce every event on FOX? I'm surprised he doesn't work NASCAR races. Norman should be good.
3) A's 10, Angels 9-- Oakland's bullpen is having trouble closing games, but Josh Donaldson pulled this game out with a game-winning double in the 11th inning, as the A's stepped on the Angels' halos for the second night in a row. Mike Trout had tied the game with a 2-run homer in the ninth.
2) Mets' leadoff hitter Eric Young reached base in the first inning in each of his last six games- Mets play better on the road than they do at home.
1) Cody Clark is a bullpen catcher for the Kansas City Royals; he played in 16 big league games LY for the Astros at age 31, his cup of coffee in the big leagues. In those 16 games, Clark went 4-38, which is why he's a bullpen catcher now, but one of the hits came against Jason Vargas of the Angels.
Vargas is now pitching for the Royals; wonder if he remembers giving up a hit to one of his team's bullpen catchers?
Tuesday's List of 13: Improvising on a staycation; movie time
13) In Las Vegas, when locals go to one of the local hotels/resorts instead of going out of town on a vacation, they call it a "stay-cation". Thats what I'm doing for 12 days-- had to postpone this Las Vegas trip for family reasons, so I'm hanging out in the Albany area. Trust me, Albany ain't Vegas, but went to the movies Monday and saw the Kevin Costner movie, Draft Day. Here are some thoughts......
12) First of all, the 4:20 movie started at 4:38; lot of previews. Prices at concession stands make oil companies look altruistic- thieving bastards.
11) Its hard to imjagine anyone who doesn't follow the NFL would like this movie; that said, I liked it, but if I didn't like it, they wasted a lot of money making it. It would be better for the non-football fan to watch it where you can start/stop as you wish to ask questions of your football fan significant other.
10) Quick plot summary: Kevin Costner is the GM of the struggling Browns, who fired his father, the Browns' legendary coach, the year before (wonder if Lane Kiffin enjoyed that part?).
His father passed away the week before we join the Browns in preparation for the 2014 Draft, with the owner threatening to fire Costner if he doesn't "make a splash" with this draft, telling him that at a deserted water park for effect.
9) Jennifer Garner is the Browns' salary cap expert/Costner's girlfriend; she has a tremendous car, a white Corvette that shows up in one scene. I'd like a Corvette.
8) They did a good job with supporting actors; Frank Langella is Browns' owner, Denis Leary is the coach, Ellen Burstyn is Costner's mother, Rosanna Arquette is his ex-wife. Sam Elliott has one good scene, Sean Combs is in it, too.
7) That said, if I'm a Chiefs' fan, I'm a little annoyed that the guy who plays geeky Hodges on CSI (Wallace Langham) plays the GM of the Chiefs in one scene.
6) Cubs' first baseman Anthony Rizzo is listed in the credits; now I have to watch it again, since I totally missed his appearance.
I won't spoil any more of the movie for you; if you like the NFL, you'll like it.
5) Miami Marlins are a terrible baseball team; after a 5-1 start, they've now lost eight games in a row. They've got one of the biggest stars in baseball in RF Giancarlo Stanton, so they build a ballpark so big even he has problems hitting homers. What genius thought that was a good idea? Stanton needs to be liberated from Miami.
4) Somehow the 76ers lost 26 games in a row and didn't have the worst record in the NBA; shouldn't everyone in a suit with the Bucks lose their jobs for that?
3) Pirates-Reds game was suspended in 6th inning Monday, with game tied 7-7; it will resume today at 5:30, with regularly scheduled game to follow.
2) Ryan Zimmerman is on the DL for the fourth April in a row; its kind of like the swallows returning to Capistrano, and yes I'm bitter because he's on my fantasy team. Seven of the 26 guys on my team are hurt and its April 15. Oy. .
1) If I hear one more media pundit argue that manager/umpire arguments are a reason for doing away with instant replay, I'm going to scream!!! Who gives a rat's ass about managers arguing, as opposed to potentially getting calls right?
People are so resistant to change, its pathetic. Seriously.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Red Sox manager John Farrell became the first manager thrown out of a game for arguing after a replay decision, which by the way, isn't made by anyone in the ballpark, so he was simply venting.
12) Boston is 5-8, their roster isn't that good, and now Dustin Pedroia may have a serious wrist injury; heavy is the head that wears the crown.
11) Baseball players get hurt A LOT; six of the 26 guys on my fantasy team are hurt already. I'm thinking they don't train enough for durability, but what do I know?
10) Back to replay for a second: it is not perfect, but it is better than what was there before. The home plate/collision rule may be more of a problem, since no one seems exactly sure what the rule is, including the umpires.
9) Milwaukee Brewers won their last nine games; they played a game in 2:11 Sunday, with 208 total pitches thrown. Interesting series with St Louis this week.
8) Bronx Bombers' payroll this year is $197,230,609; this is the starting infield they trotted out Sunday night: 1B- Cervelli, 2B- Solarte, SS- Anna, 3B- KJohnson.
In the words of John McEnroe, "You cannot be serious!!!"
7) Keeping score at a baseball game has to change with all the defensive shifts being used; if the third baseman fields the ball on the right side of the field, putting down a 5-3 putout is misleading-- you have to take notes to ensure anyone who looks at the scorebook later can tell what happened.
6) In case you were wondering, there have been 16 games this season that were 0-0 after five innings. Some people wonder about stuff like that.
5) Mike Scioscia doesn't have much faith in his bullpen; CJ Wilson threw 116 pitches Sunday in a game the Angels won 14-2. In his first three starts, Wilson has thrown 114-120-116 pitches, quite a workload for April.
Angels did play extra innings Friday/Saturday and has Oakland coming into the Big A for a series tonight, but some scrub could mop up a 14-2 game, no?
4) Is it me, or does Carmelo Anthony's shoulder look a lot healthier when he has the ball in his hands? Knicks missed the playoffs, so Anthony's career 23-44 record in playoff games remains intact.
3) Would love to see the evaluation umpire Toby Basner got from MLB after his game behind the plate in Anaheim Sunday. Basner called seven Mets out looking, tossed two of them at same time in top of 7th inning when it was 11-2 Angels, and generally got very little respect from anyone in the game, other than Angel pitchers.
2) We wish Curt Schilling a speedy recovery from radiation/cancer treatments, but ESPN has struck gold with the Dan Shulman/John Kruk Sunday night booth. Kruk is the John Madden of baseball, alternately respectful and irreverent. Very good.
1) Six of last twelve Masters were won by lefthanded golfers.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Congrats to Union College on their first national title in hockey; they're not D-I in any other sports, so beating a school like Minnesota in any sport is a big deal. Union is in Schenectady, NY (Pat Riley's hometown); if you remember the movie The Way We Were, with Robert Redford, part of it was filmed at Union.
12) NDBL playoffs started this week; they've got a cool way of deciding who plays whom in the playoffs. In the D-League, highest seeded team picks who they want to play first, then the #2 seed picks its opponent and so on.
11) Oklahoma Sooners drew 43,500 to their spring football game; they charged either $5 or $10 to get in, so they raised over a quarter of a million dollars, before selling a hot dog or a t-shirt at the concession stands. College sports is big money.
10) Scary thing: Alabama draws more than twice that for its spring games.
9) Lot of rookie umpires are working this weekend because veteran umps are at the funeral of umpire John Hirschbeck's son, who passed away at age 27.
8) Speaking of umps, the first base ump in Seattle called A's 3B Josh Donaldson out on a checked-swing/third strike call Saturday night. Just a terrible call, but before Donaldson got too aggravated, he caught himself.
The first base ump does the plate the next day; don't want to have an enemy calling balls and strikes when you bat in today's game. It was still a bad call, though.
7) A's DFA'd OF Sam Fuld Saturday so Craig Gentry could come off the DL, which means they'll lose him to another team on a waiver claim. Fuld played his butt off for the A's in the season's first ten days; he'll help a big league club.
6) TV trivia: actress Peri Gilpin, who played Frasier Crane's radio engineer in the Cheers spinoff Frasier, plays Ted Danson's seldom-seen wife in CSI. Danson became famous as the bartender Sam Malone in Cheers.
5) Raul Ibanez got his 2,000th hit Saturday night, a game-tying three-run blast in the bottom of the 9th inning, pretty neat way to do it. Angels lost 7-6 to the Mets in 13 innings, but still a great moment for Ibanez.
4) Notre Dame is putting down artificial turf for this season, part of the $400M refurbishing project on its football stadium. $400M refurbishing project; wow.
3) Major league teams routinely carry 12 pitchers now, meaning they obviously have fewer position players, which has resulted in less pinch runners being used. As recently as 1974, the A's kept a track star named Herb Washington on their roster the whole year-- he did nothing but pinch run. Seriously.
Washington appeared in 92 games in '74, 13 more in '75 (he was released on May 5) and never once batted or played the field. He was 31-48 stealing bases, scored 33 runs and was famously picked off first in the ninth inning of a World Series game.
Point is, Mariner catcher John Buck wasn't pinch-run for in the 7th inning last night in Seattle, when he was the tying run. Deeper bullpens mean shorter benches.
2) Diamondbacks are 4-10, 1-5 at home; I'm guessing if you're around Kirk Gibson these days, its probably a bad idea to say the word "Australia", seeing how this all started with losing two games to the Dodgers down under.
1) Eight Swedish golfers have won on the PGA Tour, but none have won a major; can Jonas Blixt end the drought today? Golfer that wins will be wearing clothing that matches an ugly green sportscoat-- he expects to win.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) Watching the highlights of Minnesota-North Dakota hockey game Thursday, when the Gophers won on a goal with 0:00.6 left, just feel terrible for the North Dakota kids; a season like that is so long, you come so close to a championship, to lose like that is painful. Its something they’ll never, ever forget.
12) Dallas Mavericks’ PA guy got suspended by the NBA for tweeting critical comments about the officiating in Mav games. Hard to believe a certain team owner didn’t put him up to it.
11) Denver’s Timofey Mozgov had 23 points, 29 rebounds, three assists in Denver’s win over the Warriors Thursday; he was a throw-in to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony trade, another blunder by the Knicks. Phil Jackson has a lot of stuff to undo in his new job in Manhattan.
10) Nuggets got rid of George Karl, their GM went to Toronto after a series of first round exits from the playoffs; they won’t have to worry about getting ousted in the first round this year, because they didn’t make the playoffs. Change isn’t always positive change; things can always get worse.
9) Arkansas State’s football team is auctioning off a chance for a booster to coach one of the teams in its spring football game; last I heard, the high bid was $9,500. Apparently they used to do this at Southern Miss, only it wasn’t publicized; new coach Blake Anderson was an assistant in Hattiesburg, and he’s brought this to Jonesboro with him. Anderson better be careful, the kids might not know who the real coach is, since he is the RedHawks’ fifth head coach in the last five years.
8) Last Masters champ who had the lead by himself after the first round? Ben Crenshaw, in 1984.
7) Jon Bon Jovi is part of a Toronto group that is trying to buy the Buffalo Bills; Bon Jovi owns the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena League (Ron Jaworski is his GM) so he has NFL connections.
6) Indiana Pacers inked a 10-year, $160M deal with the city of Indianapolis to stay there, first good news they’ve had in a few weeks.
5) NFL pundits are surprised by Johnny Manziel’s 32 on the Wonderlic test; only QB who scored higher is some kid who played at Cornell. Only perfect 50 ever recorded on the Wonderlic was by a punter/TE named Pat McInally who punted for the Bengals from 1976-85.
4) Cleveland’s Danny Salazar allowed five runs in 3.2 IP to the White Sox Thursday; he had 10 strikeouts, didn’t record any outs on a batted ball.
He is the first pitcher ever to allow more than four runs while facing less than 20 hitters and striking out 10+.
3) Record for least batters faced while striking out 10+ batters goes to the Angels’ Dan Osinski, who struck out 10 of 18 batters in five shutout IP against the Orioles in May, 1964.
2) Memphis-Phoenix are tied for 8th spot in West with three games to go; Hawks lead New York by two games with three to play in the East.
1) Koji Uehara (shoulder) was scratched Friday for Boston; Edward Mujica got the save for the Red Sox. Boston will need Uehara to defend its title.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here........
13) If you were a major league position player, why wouldn’t you want to play for the Rockies? Your offensive numbers have to be better in the thin air, seems like a great place in the summer, they’ve got a good stadium, whats not to like?
12) Speaking of which, it took until April 10 for Rockies’ CF Charlie Blackmon to get picked up in our 16-team keeper fantasy league. He had to go 16-34 (.471) before some team gobbled him up. I have to use my monthly pickups to shore up my pitching, plus I have the annual Jose Reyes injury problems, so I couldn’t add another OF. Curious to see how long Mr Blackmon keeps hitting.
11) There are 16 Cubans currently in the major leagues; four of the 16 play for the White Sox.
10) In basketball statistics, an assist is a pass that leads to a made basket; there is subjectivity to what is and is not an assist.
When I was doing stats at UAlbany from 1978-83, I developed a stat called assist opportunity, which was basically is what is referred to today as the “hockey assist”, the pass that leads to the pass, or a pass that would’ve been an assist had the shot been made, or the pass that leads to two foul shots.
Lot of times, it provides insight not only into who creates more scoring chances, but the level of the scoring chances. If a guy is creating layups for teammates with his passes, he will have more assists, less “assist opp’s”.
9) Weird seeing Union College in college hockey’s Frozen Four; during my married years in the 90’s, my ex’s nephews played lot of youth hockey in Achilles Rink, on the Union campus. Union is a really good academic school, not very big; the coach there has done a great job.
8) Once watched my ex’s nephew play a game at Union on a Sunday, the day after he broke his wrist- they cut the glove so the casted wrist would fit inside. Poor kid rushed with the puck, split two defensemen and got knocked to the ice, falling on the broken wrist. You could hear him crying from the other end of the arena; last one of those games I went to- the kid was 12 or 13.
Youth hockey remains the craziest thing I’ve observed in person; if you think Little League parents are crazed, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.
7) Eli Manning had ankle surgery this week, is out for six weeks, which means he’ll miss lot of the Giants’ off-season workouts. I know guys like to avoid surgery if they can, but shouldn’t this surgery have happened earlier in the offseason?
6) A quality start in the major league is listed as “six innings, three or less earned runs”, not really that great an effort. Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven has his own standard for a quality start: seven innings, two or less earned runs. Blyleven is an excellent analyst on Twins’ games. I’m going to track the “Bert QS” and will post results here from time to time.
5) Mr Tanaka in the Bronx allowed three runs in seven IP in each of his first two starts, but with 18 strikeouts and only 15 baserunners. He should win lot of games on a good team; Bronx’ closer situation and their lineup being less potent than it has been will hurt his win total, but it is obvious he's pretty good.
Remains to be seen if he is worth all that money, though; he certainly isn’t dominant but got 35 misses on 107 swings in his two starts- the 35 misses leads MLB.
4) There are 132 Waffle House restaurants,, just in the Atlanta area. Was in one in Florida once, by Disney World; waitress got mad at the manager, threw her apron at him and quit, leaving the place without a waitress. Mercifully, we hadn’t ordered yet, so we got the hell out of there before chaos reigned.
3) Last hole-in-one on 12th hole at Augusta during The Masters was Curtis Strange in 1988. There have been only three Masters aces on #12 overall; tough par-3.
2) Cal Bears targeted Xavier coach Chris Mack to replace Mike Montgomery; Mack is a Xavier alum. Big blow for the Musketeers if he leaves there. Won’t look good for the Big East either, if one of its coaches bolts for a middle-rung Pac-12 program, especially after Buzz Williams bolted Marquette for Virginia Tech.
1) Do you think Gary McCord watches the Masters? They banished him from the CBS air waves during Masters week years ago because he is irreverent, which was weird. Free speech doesn’t exist everywhere in this great land of ours.
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) An unnamed baseball executive floated the idea of seven-inning major league games with Buster Olney this week; this is similar to the idea Charlie Finley had 45 years ago, when he suggested a walk be three balls and a strikeout two strikes.
Myself? I like baseball the way it is; if you want to shorten games, cut out some of the TV commercials (egads!?!?!?) or don’t let managers/pitching coaches go to the mound to visit pitchers. Those two things along would make a big difference.
12) NFL can't possibly think people get excited about the release of their preseason schedule; its the regular season schedule we want. Hopefully within ten days.
11) Nets went 4-0 vs Miami this season, with three wins by a single point; they are only third team in NBA history to beat the same team three times by a point in the same season. Brooklyn-Miami playoff series would be very interesting.
10) Weather Channel is back on DirecTV; not even sure why it was off, but they had some other bogus weather channel on in its place. I use my IPhone for the weather now. Groundskeepers in Oakland should watch Weather Channel, so they know when to cover the field. You know, in case it rains.
9) UConn was 100-1 to win the national championship on Selection Sunday.
Speaking of UConn, Ryan Boatright got offered a scholarship by USC…….when he was in 8th grade. Former coach Tim Floyd (now at UTEP) has a sharp eye, knew the kid was going to be a real good player.
8) Marlins’ pitcher Jacob Turner got scratched from his Wednesday start and is on the DL because he hurt his shoulder during batting practice Tuesday. Turner is 4-51 at the plate in the majors. Oy.
7) Lakers scored 130 points Tuesday…..and lost by 15.
6) Speaking of the Lakers, Marshall hasn’t named its new basketball coach, fueling speculation it’ll be Marshall alum Mike D’Antoni, once the Lakers can him at the end of the regular season. One of the Herd’s better players wants to transfer, but the school won’t release him, probably figuring D’Antoni will be able to re-recruit the kid, once he gets to Huntington.
5) Pirate closer Jason Grilli’s agent is former big league slugger Gary Sheffield. Really, Sheffield is an agent now.
4) Nike increased the prices of its most expensive NFL jerseys, the ones closest to what the players wear, from $250 to $295. The less expensive replica jerseys are staying the same price- they actually sell more of those.
3) You can get 80-1 in Las Vegas that Phil Mickelson will get a hole-in-one this week at Augusta; that seems low to me, but that’s the number.
2) Ryan Braun has 23 RBI in 21 career games at Citizens Bank ballpark in Philly. He had seven RBI in Tuesday’s game. Brewers are already 5-0 on the road.
1) Speaking of three-HR games, Hank Aaron only had one in his brilliant career, against the Giants in 1959, at old Seals Stadium.
He also never hit 50 homers in a season; hard to believe, but true.
Wednesday's List of 13: In a perfect world........
where I made all the decisions………
13) Every high school graduate should know how to balance a checkbook, cook, and be well-versed in the marital laws of the state they live in. Learning marital laws after you’re married is a recipe for disaster. Reading and basic math skills would be nice too, as well as being able to write a decent paragraph. You’d be amazed the people in pretty big jobs who have zero writing skills.
12) I think high school kids should be allowed to go directly from high school to the NBA, but if you go to college, then you’re not eligible for the NBA for two years, pretty much like the baseball rule, except its two years and not three.
11) I don’t even care if they eliminate the DH or not, but both leagues would have the same rule; its makes zero sense to have a DH in one league, but not the other. Odd stat: a higher percentage of interleague games in NL parks (without the DH) went over the total LY than in AL parks (with the DH). Go figure.
10) I’d have the radios removed from NFL players’ helmets; coaches have six days to coach their team. Sunday should be the players’ day. Let ‘em play. It would make for a more interesting, wide open game.
9) Want to speed up baseball? Stop managers/pitching coaches from visiting the mound during an inning. Bet that takes ten minutes off the average game. What purpose does it serve? You want to change pitchers? Sub ‘em in like they do in basketball. I also don’t think managers/coaches should wear uniforms, but I’m probably in the minority on that one.
8) I’d like to see NBA playoff series reduced to best-of-3, with Finals best-of-5; there aren’t enough variables in a basketball game to make seven games necessary. Drama is good for a playoff series; the best team doesn’t always have to win, just like UConn wasn’t the best college team, but they won this year’s tournament and it was interesting. Hockey, on the other hand, has an incredible amount of variables from how the puck bounces, so best-of-7 suits the NHL very well.
7) One of the dumbest things in this is country is that a Presidential candidate could get the most votes and lose; the Electoral College must be done away with, it makes no sense. Whoever gets the most votes should win, that way, every vote counts the same.
6) Why doesn't our government take better care of veterans? Wounded Warrior project is a great thing, but it shouldn't be necessary, the government should be doing that stuff, funded by the rich folks whose businesses our soldiers protect overseas.
5) I’d do away with all NFL Thursday games, except for Thanksgiving, unless they could orchestrate it so teams coming off of byes played each other on a Thursday. They babble about player safety; no way is playing an NFL game on Sunday, then again four days later good for anyone. Hell, starting pitchers in baseball get more rest than that.
4) Heisman Trophy should never be mentioned until Halloween; some media nitwits will talk about it Labor Day weekend, before lot of teams have even played a game. Who cares? Its an individual award and it gets way too much attention.
3) If anyone in the food industry is listening, upstate New York could use both a Steak ‘n Shake and an In ‘n Out Burger. By upstate New York, I mean Albany, preferably Colonie, ideally south Colonie (Wolf Road area?).
2) Baseball contracts should be guaranteed for only the first two or three years; too many guys are stealing money from the dumb owners who gave them outrageous contracts. At some point, performance should matter.
1) I think the drinking age should go back to 18; you’re old enough to go off to the Middle East and be involved in a war, you’re old enough to have a freakin’ beer.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) UConn joins the 2002 Maryland Terrapins as only teams since 1979 to win a national title without a McDonald’s All-American on its roster. Tremendous runs by both them and Kentucky, which seems to have a new team every year.
12) San Francisco Giants request to open on the road every year, to avoid opening week rainouts; A’s had two rainouts across the bay last week, but one was because they stupidly left the field uncovered Thursday night- the other was their first home rainout since 1995, so Giants' request hasn't mattered much over the years.
11) Yovani Gallardo blanked Boston on seven hits for 6.2 innings Sunday, with no walks, but he didn’t induce one miss on the 37 swings the Red Sox took, which is rare for a starting pitcher, especially in a successful start.
10) Cubs didn’t score a run in either of Jeff Samardzija’s first two starts, with first game going ten innings in Pittsburgh.
9) The $6.25 hot dog at Citi Field is the most expensive frankfurter in the major leagues. Met fans would prefer their players were expensive, not the food.
8) By way of contrasts, $4 imported beer at Augusta National (yes, $4) is the most expensive thing on their menu there. Going to Augusta must be like getting shipped back in time; CBS uses the same graphics for The Masters that they did in the mid-80’s.
7) First week of baseball season: in 94 games, there were 43 replay reviews; 15 of the 43 resulted in replay reversals.
6) Manhattan took basketball coach Steve Masiello back, well they will as soon as he finishes the 12 credits he is short of his degree. Curious to see if Masiello, who is a hot coaching property, stays with the Jaspers after next season. Manhattan had the option of firing him for cause, since he lied to them on his resume.
5) Kentucky alum Rex Chapman tweeted Monday that he thought John Calipari would be the next coach of the Lakers.
4) Bronx Bomber closer David Robertson lasted six days before going on the DL with a leg injury; they're going to miss Mariano Rivera. A lot.
3) Poorly-kept secret department: Marcus Smart declared for the NBA Draft; he didn't show a lot of mental toughness during the season. Will be interetsting to see how good a pro he becomes. Another year in college would've helped him, actually it would help just about everyone who comes out early, but its almost impossible to ignore the big money the NBA throws at them. .
2) UConn lost its last regular season game by 33 to Louisville; now they're the national champs, allowing 54-53-54 points in their last three games. .
1) Huskies were the just the second underdog in last 11 years to win the national title game; losing coach in both games was John Calipari. His Memphis Tigers were 2-point favorites when they lost in OT to Kansas six years ago.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) What happened to the Pacers? They've lost seven of their last nine games- since Feb 7, they're 4-25-1 aqgainst the spread. They were down 55-23 at the half at home to Atlanta Sunday. Indiana players' body language is not good.
12) Memo to NBA/ESPN/ABC: Please stop showing the Knicks/Lakers every freakin' Sunday- they're not good teams. Please show the good teams.
11) Arizona's Mark Trumbo has homered in four consecutive games; record is eight-- I'm thinking Don Mattingly was last guy to do that.
10) Matt Kuchar bogeyed 16 and 18, lost Houston Open in a playoff; in his last four final rounds, he is +8, not a good sign with Masters Week upon us.
9) Clippers have 50+ wins, Lakers 50+ losses, first time that has happened in the same season.
8) Cincinnati Reds started this season with eight guys on the DL, most in MLB.
7) Mike Woodson isn't going to be coaching the Knicks next season, thats fairly clear, but with New York, his career record in March/April is 50-21. Not bad.
6) Caris LeVert is a good shooting guard for Michigan, but if John Groce hadn't left Ohio U for Illinois, LeVert would be playing for the Bobcats. He signed to play at Ohio but was released from his letter-of-intent after the coaching change.
5) Which leads us to 6-8 F Tariq Owens, who signed to play for Jim Christian and the Bobcats, but when Christian left for Boston College, Owens asked for a release so he could go play somewhere else next year. Ohio U turned him down, so he has to pay his own way to college next year, no matter where he chooses to go.
4) Travis D'Arnaud is the Mets' big catching prospect; he had a reputation as a good hitter, but thru his first 35 big league games, he is hitting .180, and he didn't hit very much in spring training, not that that matters much. At some point though, he has to start hitting, or the prospect tag will turn to suspect.
3) Harris English had a hole-in-one on 12th hole at Houston Sunday; his caddy picked out the club-- fellow pro Brandt Snedeker.
2) If your last name is McDonald, how the hell do you name your son Ronald?
1) Eric Decker paid a backup tight end $25,000 so he could wear number 87 for the Jets next season. Must be nice to have money.
Sunday's List of 13: What if oddsmakers seeded the NCAAs?
13) 8-seed Kentucky was favored over a pair of 2-seeds in their last two wins, despite one of their best players (Cauley-Stein) getting hurt 4:00 into the regional seminfinal and not playing since. Las Vegas oddsmakers know damn well Kentucky shouldn't have been an 8-seed. What if they seeded the NCAAs by power ratings?
12) Favorites covered 11 of the last 14 national championship games; Kentucky opened as -2.5 over UConn, was quickly bet up to -3.
11) This is the first national title game since 1966 where neither team was in the NCAA tournament the year before.
10) A 7-seed, an 8-seed; only time since the field went to 64 in 1985 that neither one of the finalists is a top-3 seed.
9) There were 79,444 fans at the Final Four at Jerry World, which is why greedy lawyers try to get kids to unionize so they can cash in on the financial bonanza.
8) Ohio Bobcats hired Saul Phillips away from North Dakota State to be its new basketball coach.
7) CBS Sports came up with this interesting tidbit: Orlando 121, New Jersey 109 on April 17, 1998, the only time Kevin Ollie (player back then) has faced John Calipari (coach).
6) Since 1990, the favorite is 5-1 against the spread in national title games without a #1 seed in it.
5) Rockies' CF Charlie Blackmon followed up his 6-6 day with a 3-4 day, raising his batting average to an impressive .600.
4) In his first two 2014 starts, Stephen Strasburg has allowed 18 baserunners, 10 runs in 10.1 innings pitched.
3) Interleague play started in 1997: since then, AL teams have an 2,237-2,031 edge in interleague games.
2) Nick Martinez pitched for the Rangers Saturday; he was a shortstop in college at Fordham, pitching only 26 innings in relief. Some scout saw something in him and turned him into a full-time pitcher. Good job by them.
1) I like the instant replay system; there will be media nitwits who time every replay review; funny, they never timed it when managers ran out on the field and acted like jackasses arguing calls that had no chance of being changed. This will get more calls right, and wind up saving time in the long run.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Dodgers benched Yasiel Puig for Friday’s home opener because he was late for batting practice. Matt Kemp started in his place, after being activated off the DL.
12) I’m usually not a big Keith Olbermann fan, but the ESPN talking head did an excellent tribute to David Letterman Thursday night; its on ESPN.com and its worth a few minutes of your time.
11) Wake Forest hired Danny Manning away from Tulsa, which can’t make the people in Oklahoma too happy (see List of 6 up above). Lot of good coaches have come through Tulsa over the years; problem is, they don’t stay very long.
10) FOX Saturday baseball is on FOX Sports1 now, not regular FOX; this avoids any potential overlap between an extra inning ballgame and the start of one of the Saturday night NASCAR races. Its not going to help baseball’s ratings, though; lot of people still don’t know where FOX Sports1 is.
9) Champ Bailey goes from Denver to New Orleans as a free agent, as Saints keep trying to improve their defense.
8) There is a rumor going around that Sonic fast food is coming to my hometown of Colonie, in the old L-Ken’s location; this would be tremendous news, not as tremendous as In ‘n Out Burger or Steak 'n Shake, but still very good news.
7) Washington State gave Ernie Kent $1.4M a year, plus $625,000 a year to pay his three assistants with; same AD who hired him at Oregon hired him for this job. Kent has been out of coaching for four years; if I’m paying a coach $1.4M a year, I’d probably want a better coach, not someone who’s been out of it for four years, but he did have some success at Oregon.
6) Twins have their home opener Monday afternoon; as of Friday morning, Target Field was still covered with snow. Why didn’t they build a retractable dome like Miller Park?!?!?!?!
5) Dustin Johnson shot a 43 on the front nine Thursday, withdrew from the Houston Open with a bad back. He had an 8 on a par-4. Lot of bad backs in golf lately. Maybe Johnson just wantesd to get to Augusta early.
4) Indians gave 2B Jason Kipnis $52.5M for six years, buying away his arbitration years. If Kipnis remains a good player, it’s a terrific deal for the Tribe.
3) Wrigley Field is older than the Lincoln Monument and the Golden Gate Bridge; love watching games from there on TV. Curious to see what it looks like when the new electronic scoreboard goes up in centerfield.
2) Donald Trump was in Albany this week? How come I didn’t know this? Wonder what this country would be like if he ever became President?
1) A's-Mariners were postponed Friday night because the genius groundskeepers left the tarp off the field after the 12-inning game Thursday night and there was a downpour overnight that screwed up the field bigtime. Workers were pulling an overnight Friday night to get the game ready for Saturday afternoon's game. Oy.
Friday's List of 13: Random thoughts with the weekend here.......
13) The two people in this world who have made me laugh the most are Steve Martin and David Letterman; Thursday night, Letterman announced that he'll retire from his CBS show sometime next year. What a career he has had, starting out as a weatherman in Indianapolis, then on a variety show with Mary Tyler Moore, then an ill-fated daytime show, before hitting it big in latenight TV.
Thanks for the laughs, sir. You'll be missed.
12) ESPN's Trey Wingo tweeted Thursday how his first job in TV was as an NBC page in New York, at Letterman's TV show there, and how it is still the most fun he's ever had in his career. Pretty cool tribute.
11) Boston College hired Jim Christian to replace Steve Donahue; Christian was a steady winner in the MAC (186-80, 101-37 in league), but went 56-73. 18-44 at TCU, and BC is a fairly similar job in the ACC to what TCU is in the Big X. Hard to be a strong ACC team at BC.
If BC was serious about basketball, they would've gone after alum Bruce Pearl.
10) Wake Forest is trying to lure Danny Manning from Tulsa, but its hard to throw cash at a guy who made $56M during his NBA playing career, especially when Tulsa offered to double his salary and give him a private plane to recruit with. His man question has to be, “Can I win at Wake Forest?” You’re in the same neighborhood as Duke/Carolina and at a very small school. Tough decision.
9) Colorado Rockies' star Carlos Gonzalez left Wednesday's game in Miami early after he got sick from swallowing tobacco juice. Oy.
8) Cleveland Browns blew off Jadeveon Clowney’s pro day because they had Blake Bortles in for his private workout. Browns have to take a QB in the draft; they cut two of the three they had last year.
7) Xavier Musketeers are going to Brazil for nine days in August, which gives them ten extra practices before they leave; those trips are usually very beneficial, unless one of the players gets hurt. USC/Butler both lost key players for the season on foreign trips; Butler this year, Trojans lost PG Jio Fontan for the season back when Kevin O’Neill was coaching and it led to the end of his tenure there.
6) I’m wondering if Richard Pitino will someday wind up replacing his dad as the coach at Louisville; pretty cool seeing the elder Pitino rooting like hell for his son's Gophers from behind the Minnesota bench at the NIT final in New York. .
5) Tubby Smith once won a national title at Kentucky, coaching Rick Pitino's players in his first season in Lexington; now Pitino's son wins an NIT title coaching Smith's players after Tubby moved from Minnesota to Texas Tech.
4) With A’s moving their spring training to Mesa next spring, Arizona State’s baseball team is taking over Phoenix Municipal Stadium, moving their home games off campus, but to a much nicer facility.
3) St John’s can’t keep players from leaving early; now Chris Obekpa (2.9 blocks per game in 20 minutes/game) is transferring. Hard to develop a winning program when you never have veteran leadership.
2) Things you learn watching Kansas City Royals’ games: Nori Aoki’s last name means “blue tree” in Japanese.
1) Next season, DeSean Jackson will count as $4.25M against the Redskins' salary cap, $6.25M against Philadelphia's. Go figure.
Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) Aaron Harang/Matt Garza both had no-hitters thru six innings at Miller Park Wednesday; Chris Johnson homered in 7th, Braves won 1-0.
12) What are the odds the first Eagle-Redskin game is in primetime? Schedule is going to be released in mid-to-late April, always a fun day.
11) NBA referee Dick Bavetta worked his 2,633rd consecutive game last night; he is 74 years old, and still reffing NBA games. Wow.
10) Odd trivia: Bartolo Colon pitched against the Nationals last night, who are now managed by Matt Williams. Colon's major league debut was April 4, 1997, for the Indians, whose third baseman that night was......Matt Williams.
9) Bryce Harper is still the youngest guy in the major leagues.
8) A's got hosed on a replay call Wednesday afternoon, which begs the question, are they letting people know which umps are reviewing which game in New York?
My point is this: Angel Hernandez hasn't umpired yet, which means he is in New York doing replay reviews. Hernandez and Bob Melvin don't get along well; I do not want him deciding critical plays in A's games. Ever.
7) Houston hired Kelvin Sampson, Washington State hired Ernie Kent, couple of retreads getting jobs. From what I read, Sampson is set up to win right away with the Cougars-- they've got lot of players coming back next year, and Sampson is a proven winner at this level-- he just has to abide by NCAA rules.
Being ironical department: AD at Houston has a degree from Indiana, which was the last college job Sampson had.
6) How do these guys get jobs and not Ben Howland, who has been in three Final Fours and won the Pac-12 regular season thirteen months ago at UCLA?
5) Since 2000, Michigan State has been in the most Final Fours (5), followed by Florida, UConn and North Carolina with four each.
4) Over the last five years, under is 96-64 with Phil Cuzzi behind the plate. Over last three years, home underdogs are 6-22 with John Tumpane behind the dish.
3) Tampa Bay Rays gave pitcher Chris Archer six years, $25.5M; Archer has a career record of 10-10 in 27 career starts. Lot of calculated risk there.
2) Knicks won, Atlanta lost; both teams are both 10 games under .500, tied for the #8 slot and last playoff berth in the East. Dallas is 44-31, on the outside looking in on the western side. Doesn't seem right.
1) Major league baseball players get $99 a day on the road in meal money; NBA guys gets $124 a day. $124 buys an awful lot of pizza.
Quick story before I go: In 1974, A's brought up Claudell Washington, who went on to a 17-year big league career. That first year, Washington ate fast food, and with his leftover meal money, bought himself a mink coat. The big leagues are fun.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud....
13) Not sure if it was an April Fools’ joke or not, but there were rumors on a Syracuse-based website Tuesday morning that Jim Boeheim had met with Phil Jackson and is being considered for the Knicks’ anticipated coaching vacancy, with Mike Hopkins taking over at Syracuse. If you think about it, it makes some sense, but it would still be gigantic news that would create significant subplots.
12) Neil Walker’s walk-off HR in Pirates’ 1-0 win Monday was just the second walk-off HR ever in an Opening Day 1-0 game, the other being Bob Bailey off of Juan Marichal on April 12, 1965.
Two points about that:
-- Iin 1965, Opening Day was April 12, not March 31.
-- Juan Marichal was a (great) starting pitcher. For better or worse, pitchers threw complete games back then.
11) Marquette hired Steve Wojciehowski as coach, meaning that in this space tomorrow there will be a study of how former Dukies have done as head coaches. I’ll say this as an early prediction: when Mike Krzyzewski leaves Duke, it becomes a bad job, at least for a while.
It’ll be worse than replacing John Wooden at UCLA, since LA is a recruiting hotbed, while Duke has ton of competition for recruits and their field house ain’t so great, which no one talks about right now.
10) ESPN.com reports that the basketball sneaker companies did $3.3B in sales LY, up 19% from 2012. They didn’t report that $50 of that $3.5B came from me. Black adidas high tops. Old school.
9) Read an article this week on fivethirtyeight.com about how little actual impact baseball managers have on their teams.
Maybe this is true during the three hours the actual game is being played, but it is impossible to quantify the effect a skipper has on a team, before, after games, on road trips, spring training, setting the overall tone for a team (see Valentine, Bobby/2012 Red Sox).
I root for the A’s, who went from Bob Geren to Bob Melvin as manager, which is like going from the ugliest girl in the room to Cameron Diaz.
Believe me, who the manager is matters. A lot.
8) Golf Channel has to stop showing Eldrick Woods in commercials, since he doesn’t play anymore. Now he’s having back surgery and will miss the Masters for first time in 20 years. He’s becoming the Jose Reyes of golf.
Some notes on umpire trends……..
7) You see Lance Barksdale umping behind the plate, look extra hard at the home team; over the last seven years, the home side is 148-71, for a profit of $5,054 on a $100 wager.
6) Quite the opposite if Gary Cederstrom or Paul Emmel is working the plate. Over the last four years, home sides are 59-74 (-$3,855) in Cederstrom games. Over the last six years, home teams are 97-101 (-$2,962) if Emmel is behind the plate. Studying umpires can be a profitable activity.
5) Over the last five seasons, favorites are 101-53 with Marty Foster behind the plate, 68-32 at home, 33-21 on the road.
Now some of those losing favorites might be heavy favorites (none last year were more than -$160) but still, 101-53 is going to be a profitable trend.
4) Over the last four seasons, home dogs are 14-34 with Tom Hallion behind the plate. Interesting numbers.
3) In the 80’s, Donald Trump owned the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, who had Doug Flutie/Herschel Walker. Now there are rumblings that Trump might invest in the Bills to help keep them in western New York.
Not sure the NFL is ready to have Trump and Jerry Jones in the same room anytime soon.
2) Thoughts and prayers to Angels’ batting coach Don Baylor, who broke his leg while catching the ceremonial first pitch in Anaheim Monday night. Baylor had cancer in his bone marrow ten years ago, so the concern is obvious. We wish him well.
1) Closer to home for me, I'd appreciate it if you said a prayer for my dad, if you're inclined to pray. He is 88 years old and is struggling with his health; his mind is sharp, he still is happy when the Mets win, but his body doesn't do all the things it is supposed to. He's a good guy, he deserves better.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) The Final Four is on TBS and not CBS? Why?
12) Kentucky’s 6-9 freshman Marcus Lee averaged 2.4 ppg in 6.9 mpg in 23 games he played this season; after playing one minute (one freakin’ minute!!) in Kentucky’s first three NCAA games, he posted 10 points, 8 rebounds in 15:00 against Michigan. Of the other 350 other D-I teams in America, how many does Lee start for? 250? 300? More?
11) Was really surprised that UConn seemed much more ready to play than Michigan State did Sunday; they really took the fight right to the Spartans and that doesn’t happen much.
10) Ominous note for Florida; last four times teams met in the Final Four that met in the regular season, the team that won during the regular season also won at the Final Four.
9) If the Buffalo Bills uproot from western New York anytime in the next six years, they owe the state of New York $400M, so that ain’t happening. Once seven years are up though, the 51st-biggest TV market in America is vulnerable to the new owner moving the Bills to greener pastures, which will be sad, and seems inevitable.
8) Been thinking about/praying for Jim Kelly a lot lately; I’m roughly six weeks older than him, so his illness hits home some.
Kelly played in what might be the greatest football game no one saw, a USFL regular season game in ’85 against Steve Young’s LA Express, played in front of maybe 15,000 fans at the LA Coliseum. Kelly played for the Houston Gamblers, who were owned by a dentist- they won 34-33 that day, with Kelly throwing for 574 yards. Just a fun game to watch.
7) Zach Greinke ($28M) is baseball’s highest-paid player this year, the first time in 14 years it is someone other than Alex Rodriguez.
6) Boise State’s basketball coach Leon Rice (former Gonzaga assistant) turned Washington State down and will stay with the Broncos. Hoop coaches named Rice left a lot of money on the table last week, with Dave Rice turning down South Florida.
5) South Florida finally hired Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua; he played for the Harlem Globetrotters for seven years, worked for Calipari for another six or seven, he must have some really good stories.
4) If you care about such things, there were an average of 1.65 replay reviews per NFL game last season.
3) Philadelphia Eagles better be careful; they fired DeSean Jackson when it is unclear whether that was warranted; he was one of their most productive players, but didn’t have great off-field work habits. Meanwhile, they kept Riley Cooper, who was captured on film last summer uttering racial slurs while drunk. They cut him some slack, then gave him a new contract when he had a good year.
There’s a fine line there; Michael Irvin has been outspoken in criticizing the Iggles for cutting Jackson. Its their business, but hopefully Jackson isn’t being punished for Aaron Hernandez’ crimes. Jackson had a good year last year too, just like Cooper, but he got released. Go figure.
2) Some NFL team will pay Jackson a lot of money; he's too good for it not to happen, so its Eagle fans who get punished if this was unwarranted.
Then there is the flip side of this coin: If the Eagles don't want him, and Andy Reid's Chiefs don't go after him, why would anyone else want him?
Very interesting aituation, for sure.
1) Do high school/college players even practice 15-foot jumpers anymore? When Albany played Florida, the Great Danes actually had a big kid who could make that shot from the baseline, so he had a good game.
Seemed like Florida’s big guys weren’t used to contesting shots of that length. If you charted games on TV, you’d find very few 15-17 foot jump shots taken. Weird how the game has evolved.
Monday's List of 13: Happy Opening Day, everyone.......
13) With due respect to Australians and ESPN, today is Opening Day, not last night, not last week. Opening Day is always exciting, a time everyone is optimistic, even the bad teams. Optimism might not last until Tax Day in a few places but as of this morning, there are 26 teams in first place.
12) Is Frank Sinatra really buried with a bottle of Jack Daniels?
11) Marquette/South Florida need to get together on this coaching search thing; USF got turned down by Dave Rice, who might get fired by UNLV in a year and pulled the plug on Steve Masiello after they found out his resume wasn't 100% truthful. Internet keeps listing guys Marquette wants to hire as its new coach, but since none of them have been hired, what gives?
Steve Wojciehowski is the latest name Marquette has floated as its new coach; if another Coach K assistant gets a bigtime job despite having zero head coaching experience, they're going to force me to do a research project, but we'll wait until he gets hired to do that.
10) Richard Sherman and DeSean Jackson once played on the same Little League team. Don't know how that team made out, but I'm guessing their dugout wasn't very quiet.
9) MLB Network was tremendous in March, exhibition games every day and all night, really a good station. Probably won't watch it much rest of the season though, since I have the Extra Innings package, which is even better.
8) Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins is declaring for NBA Draft today; he scored four points in his last game, a loss to Stanford. He averaged 17.1 ppg and 5.9 rebounds, a solid season but rarely did you watch Kansas and see this player dominating a game. Maybe the NBA style will be more his thing.
For me, a kid like this going to college was a joke; he should've been allowed to go to the NBA right from high school, like baseball players can.
7) QB Stephen Rivers (Philip's brother) is transferring from LSU; word has it probably to Vanderbilt; he'll be eligible to play this fall, but no one knows how good he is, since he never played at LSU. Jordan Rodgers was Vandy's QB couple years ago, so they're used to having a QB with a famous brother. If only either one of them was as half as good as their brother.
6) John Gasaway of ESPN Insider reports that this Final Four's average seed is 4.5, making it the fourth wackiest since 1985. Wackier: 2011 (6.5), 2000 (5.5), 2006 (5.0). Anyone who had UConn in the Final Four is a genius or is somehow related to someone on their team.
UConn was down 3 with 0:45 to play in their first tournament game against St Joe's; wonder what their odds of making the Final Four were then?
5) Carl Crawford makes $21M a year but doesn't start on my fantasy team in a 16-team keeper league, and my team is mediocre at best in our league. If I cut him, I'm not sure how many teams he would start for, and the guy makes $21M a year!!!! Is his contract the worst one ever?
4) Wisconsin-Arizona game Saturday night was a great game; neither team led by more than three points, in the final 18:00 of the game. How many times does that happen?
3) So Ray Rice gets indicted for knocking his girlfriend out cold in a casino this winter; the day after he gets indicted, the happy couple gets married. If this world isn't going crazy, then maybe I am.
2) Greedy bastard update: prices of unleaded gas at Mobil gas stations:
-- corner of Fuller/Central: $3.79
-- gutless Sunoco station across street: $3.77-- they're always two cents a gallon cheaper than the Mobil station, like that matters.
-- corner of Wolf/Sand Creek, $3.85
-- Western Ave by UAlbany: $3.71
-- route 9, just south of Siena College, $3.73.
Why are the stations by my house more expensive????
1) Dodger bullpen gagged away a 1-0 lead (and my fantasy win for Ryu) Sunday night, lost 3-1 in San Diego. Padres' magic number is 162, and thats part of why Opening Day is so great. Padre fans can be dreamers today.
Sunday's List of 13: What I'm looking for this baseball season
13) Dodgers have an enormous payroll, have already sold 3M+ tickets, have huge expectations; Kershaw is on the DL, if they get off to slow start, does Don Mattingly get the early boot?
12) Instant replay system looks like it'll work well, but you just know its going to have some issues early on. Managers can challenge plays in the first six innings; curious to see how many plays get challenged.
11) Red Sox won 28 more games than they did LY, won World Series; they went 95-67 in year following their last two world titles. Would 95 wins this year get them back to the playoffs?
10) Indians won 24 more games LY than they did in 2012; will there be a natural regression, or does Terry Francona really have a magic touch?
9) Miami Marlins supposedly have a lot of young pitching in their farm system, but their ownership is so hideous, no one goes to their games now,. despite their beautiful new stadium- their team is terrible. Too bad there isn't a rule about forcing terrible owners to sell, then the Mets/Marlins could get out from what look like unpleasant futures.
8) Speaking of the Mets, Matt Harvey is hurt, their big catching prospect hit .163 this spring and they still have Ike Davis. Good luck fellas.
7) The longest eight miles in sports is the Grand Central Parkway, from Citi Field to the ballpark in the Bronx. Say what you want about the Bronx Bombers, but at least they try to win. The Wilpons are hideous owners.
6) Are the Angels the first team ever with a player who wears 0 (Colin Cowgill) and 00 (Brennan Boesch)? They've got a fortune invested in Trout and Pujols,. but neither of them pitches. They need to develop pitchers, they won't be able to afford free agent hurlers.
5) Theo Epstein runs the Cubs, a team that pays Edwin Jackson $13M a year- their next-highest paid player is Jason Hammel. Epstein also gave Carl Crawford his ridiculous $21M a year contract, when he was in Boston. Oy.
4) I need the White Sox to score a lot of runs; I've got Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu on my fantasy team. They're going to score a lot of runs, right?
3) Will the Phillies have a fire sale? They're old, they're starting season with Hamels on the DL. If they're adrift at midseason, heads could roll.
2) How will the Tigers do without Jim Leyland? Without Prince Fielder? Without Doug Fister, Jose Iglesias, but with Ian Kinsler? Lot of pressure on Brad Ausmus, Detroit's new manager.
1) Pirates were the best story in baseball LY; can they make the playoffs again? They seem to be doing things the right way.
Enjoy the season everyone; should be a fun six months.......
Saturday's List of 13: Some assorted Saturday stuff......
13) Los Angeles Dodgers have already sold 3,000,000+ tickets for this season, and may sell 35,000 season tickets. Now all they have to do is win; they’re 2-0 after the Australia trip, so Don Mattingly’s team is off to a good start. Expectations couldn’t be any higher though.
12) So UCLA comes out in the Sweet 16 game with Florida wearing dark blue sleeved uniforms, as John Wooden turns over in his grave. Raises an interesting question; had Steve Alford wound up as coach at his alma mater Indiana, would he have scrapped the traditional candystripe warmup pants? We’ll probably never know.
11) 76ers tied an NBA record by losing their 26th game in a row; their over/under in Las Vegas before the season was 16 wins- they’re 15-57 now and no cinch to win another game. Funny thing is, they don’t have the worst record in the league; Milwaukee does. Quality of play on a lot of NBA teams is beyond awful.
10) VCU coach Shaka Smart spurned Marquette; where do they go from here? Former UCLA coach Ben Howland would seem to be the safest bet.
9) Speaking of VCU, Smart lost assistant Mike Rhoads to Rice, where he will try to invigorate a perennially losing program. Rhoads coached D-II Randolph-Macon for ten years, so he’s got experience as a head coach. You know the Owls will run/press more, which is always a good thing, at least for fans to watch. Rice needs more fans, and much better players.
8) Marshall reached out to alum Mike D’Antoni about becoming its next basketball coach, seeing as Kobe Bryant said he doesn’t want D’Antoni back with the Lakers next year. Supposedly, D’Antoni has interest in the job, which would be a very interesting study.
7) Of the first 61 plays that were reviewed by baseball’s new replay system, 11 were overturned.
6) A movie theater in Brooklyn tossed a patron out for bringing strawberries from the outside while he watched the movie. Problem is, the guy is diabetic and didn’t want to eat junk food that the theater sells. They actually called the cops and had the guy thrown out and wouldn’t refund his $12. Only in New York.
5) UCLA’s Kyle Anderson declared for the NBA Draft; I read about it on Twitter about ten minutes after the Bruins lost to Florida, not that the kid had one foot out the door or anything.
4) Ron Jaworski ranked LSU’s Zach Mettenberger as his #2 QB in the NFL Draft, ahead of Teddy Bridgewater, Johhny Manziel. Mettenberger tore his ACL against Arkansas in November and can’t work out yet, so it’s a controversial opinion. He’s had NFL-type coaching; Cam Cameron was his coordinator last year. Interesting to see which teams drafts him.
3) Free agent RB Maurice Jones-Drew signed with Oakland; when he was a kid, MJD used to mow John Madden’s lawn, so maybe the Raiders had a little bit of an advantage.
2) Its amazing the following Steve Fisher has cultivated for his San Diego State Aztecs, what a strong program he has built. 15 years ago, no one went to games; Fisher stumped the dorms trying to get kids interesting in going to games. They had a lot more fans than Arizona did in Anaheim Thursday night, a testament to the brilliant job Fisher has done there.
1) People ask now and then about the value of sports, why are they important? To me, this is a big part of it. Thursday night, Thurman Thomas posted a picture on Twitter, of him and his wife in Jim Kelly’s hospital room with Mrs Kelly, the four of them smiling for the camera, while they probably were crying inside.
Jim Kelly is very, very ill, battling cancer; the bond that these teammates have (Kelly retired in ’96, Thomas left the Bills in ’99) has lasted the 17 years since Kelly stopped playing. Jim Kelly needs all the help/prayers he can get these days. Friends can help.
Being on a team, especially a winning team, can somehow bond people together for the rest of their lives. Common experience often does that; can’t really tell you why or how, it just does and when you see pictures like the one last night, of one friend trying to help another in their hour of greatest need, you realize that’s a big part of why sports matter.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind......
13) At $31M a year, and figuring 32 starts a year, Clayton Kershaw will earn roughly $968,750 per start over the length of his contract; well, he’s already scratched from start #2 with a back problem. Not a good start to this season, or the lucrative contract.
12) Its amazing how much coverage ESPN gives the NFL; a half hour show every weekday in March? By the way, I’m hoping the 2014 schedule is out by the time I get to Las Vegas in 17 days.
11) Johnny Manziel threw in helmet and pads at his on-campus pro day; why doesn’t everyone do this? There really is a wildly varying difference of opinion on his NFL prospects. I think he's going to be good.
10) Cleveland Browns must have their minds made up on Manziel, seeing as they didn’t bother to show up at his pro day. Rumor has them bringing Manziel to Cleveland for a day next month, but still, you’d think they’d like to gather all the information they can.
9) Tyler Ennis is going pro? Already? Very bad news for Syracuse.
8) Surprised to read about dysfunction in the Golden State Warriors’ camp; ownership hasn’t given Mark Jackson a contract extension, even though he’s helped them improve a lot, because they’re expecting even more than they’re getting. Maybe they should petition for a move to the Eastern Conference and their prospects would improve a lot. Seriously, meddling bosses are a pain in the butt, in any career.
7) Stanford was 500-1 to win the NCAA tournament before it started; wins over New Mexico/Kansas dropped the Cardinal to 70-1. Dayton dropped the Cardinal right out of the tournament. Will the Flyers be able to keep its coach Archie Miller, or will a big money school steal him away?
6) NC-Wilmington hired Louisville assistant Kevin Keatts as its new head coach; Keats was head coach at Hargrave Military Academy, a bigtime prep school, for ten years, but his bio on the Louisville website lists him as a 2011 graduate of Marshall.
Looks like his college playing days ended in 1996, at the latest. Wonder if he quick cleaned up his bio once the Steve Masiello debacle hit the fan?
5) Pacers-Heat game Wednesday night earned ESPN its second biggest NBA ratings night this season.
4) Red flag for the Pacers; Evan Turner was 4-10 from the floor in the Miami game; other three Indiana subs who played were a combined 1-10. They’ll need lot more bench production if they get into a best-of-7 series with Miami, or the Nets for that matter.
3) Zach Bohannon doesn’t play a lot for the Wisconsin Badgers, but he’s been in 13 games this year. Arena security wouldn’t let him into Wisconsin’s closed shoot around until he took the label off his bottled water, since he didn’t have NCAA-approved water, which is very hard to believe, but apparently it happened.
I mean it’s a closed shoot around; who was going to see his water bottle?
2) Anyone know which network televises The Masters?
1) Miguel Cabrera signed a 10-year, $298M contract with the Tigers, whose owner (Mike Ilitch) is 84 years old. Am guessing Ilitch wants to see the Tigers win a World Series before its too late for him. If this becomes a bad contract eight years from now, chances are it won't be Ilitch's problem.
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff on another cold day
13) So Steve Masiello never graduated from college; and South Florida pulled its job offer to him. Masiello never resigned from Manhattan, which puts the Jaspers in a weird position- do they bring him back, or fire him with cause, let him go after another job? He'd probably leave next year, anyway.
12) What would you do if you ran Manhattan? Masiello is a good coach, but he obviously has no intention of being at Manhattan long-term, and he lied on his resume, which to me isn't a huge deal, but its not nothing. Tough call.
11) Meanwhile, USF paid Stan Heath $1.5M to go away, then they paid a search committee $60,000 to find a new candidate, leaked that they hired the candidate before the background check was done, and now look stupid and are without a coach. No wonder they never win.
11) This is similar to the George O’Leary debacle at Notre Dame, when no one in administration had the onions to stand up and say the guy is a very good coach and despite making this mistake, he is our coach going forward. The world has become too politically correct. Now we’ll see who they hire; wonder if this eliminates the rest of the Pitino coaching tree.
10) If I'm the AD at Wake Forest, I call Manhattan, offer to take Masiello off their hands; they won't hire a better coach than him, then make sure he gets his diploma, the way Eddie Jordan is at Rutgers. Problem solved.
9) Baseball season starting Monday will be like seeing old friends again for the first time in six months; the MLB Extra Innings package is some of the best money I spend all year.
Looking forward to watching the A’s every night, but also enjoy broadcast crews with Arizona, the Mets, Marlins, Royals, Padres and Giants. With Avasail Garcia/Jose Abreu on my fantasy team, going to have to learn to like Hawk Harrelson again, too; either that or hit the mute button and play music.
8) Will be interesting if Phil Jackson decides the Knicks’ best course going forward is without Carmelo Anthony and his 23-44 career playoff record.
7) Ralph Wilson paid $25,000 for the Buffalo Bills in 1959; they’re worth around $800M now. Will be a sad day if the next owner of the team moves them out of western New York.
6) Mavericks beat Oklahoma City in OT Tuesday night; Thunder was +13 in the 27:00 Derek Fisher was on the floor, -22 in the 26:00 he was on the bench. Nick Collison (+5) was the only other Thunder player who was plus in the game.
5) Over last three NCAA tournaments, #1 seeds are 5-5 SU in this round, 2-8 vs spread.
4) Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan is 1-4 in this round, with underdogs covering all five games; his lone win was over NC State nine years ago.
3) Three SEC teams that made the NCAAs are 7-0, which has SEC fans chirping; however their four teams in the NIT all lost in second round. Not as important, but it shows the lack of depth the league has.
2) Bryce Harper got thrown out of a spring training game Wednesday for arguing a call at first base on a grounder he hit to second. I’m guessing that instant replay will result in less ejections, right?
1) Thursday's circus will be Johnny Manziel's pro day at Texas A&M; hell, George W Bush is going to be there. ESPN might implode today. LOL
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Probably the biggest change in baseball this season is the new instant replay system; teams will have an “eye in the sky”, a replay coach to advise managers whether to use their challenge on reviewable plays. Going to be very interesting to see how this all plays out.
12) A by-product of instant replay is that eight new umpires were hired; umpire crews will rotate in/out of the “war room” in New York City, where they will review replays and make decisions. That has to be pretty good duty for umps, who conceivable could go full games with no calls to make.
11) Steve Masiello's deal to be the new coach at South Florida is off, as some discrepancy came up in his background check done by a search agency that was paid $100K by the South Florida AD, who got his job when that same search agency recommended him (they got $60K for that). Oy.
10) Miami’s 21-year old Jose Fernandez will be NL’s youngest Opening Day starting pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1986.
9) San Francisco 49ers have six draft picks in the top 100 selections, more than any other team, thanks to compensation picks they got from the league last week. Question is, will they sign their QB to a longterm contract?
8) Bovada posted .280 as the betting over/under on Derek Jeter’s batting average this season. So far this spring, Jeter is hitting .128 (6-47) as he gets ready for his last major league season.
7) Cal basketball radio announcer Roxy Bernstein (he works for ESPN, too) also went to college at Cal; he likes his alma mater so much he named his daughter Berkeley, despite his wife being a UCLA grad. Bernstein is very good at his job, enjoyable to listen to.
6) Barclays Center in Brooklyn will have ACC tournament in 2017/2018, then the A-13 (or whatever it’ll be known as by then) in 2019-2021, if you’re planning far into the future to go see some postseason basketball.
5) In his first 38 plate appearances this spring, David Ortiz was 2-35 with a homer and a double- no singles.
4) Someone named Irving Azoff, who apparently is a music mogul, brokered the deal between the Knicks and Phil Jackson; I apologize if Mr Azoff is really famous, but I’ve never heard of him. He’ll be a hero in NYC if the Zen Master turns the Knickerbockers’ fortunes around.
3) That'll take some doing though; Knicks gave up 51 points in the third quarter alone last night, getting crushed by the Lakers in Staples. Losing to the Lakers is one thing; losing by 30 showed a total lack of effort.
2) I’ll go to my grave swearing that the NBA playoffs would be so much better with shorter playoff series, as in best-of-5 the longest series. Little increased drama never hurt anyone; so what if the best team doesn’t always win? It works pretty well in college ball.
1) RIP Mr Ralph Wilson, last of the original AFL owners, who passed away Tuesday at age 95. Always seemed like a classy guy. Curious to see if the Bills stay in western New York once the franchise changes hands.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Buzz Williams’ bolting Marquette for Virginia Tech raises questions about the Big East going forward; he is a successful coach, if he’d rather be at an ACC bottom feeder than a perennial contender for the NCAAs, playing in an NBA city, does he think the Big East is headed in a downward spiral?
12) Lets take a quick run thru the Big East:
Creighton/Butler have legit questions about their ability to recruit to keep their program at an elite level. I mean, if Greg McDermott could recruit at this level, he’d still be at Iowa State. Unless he has more sons.
DePaul/St John’s/Seton Hall haven’t been good in years, despite being located in areas where there are a ton of players. Every time a St John's player has two good games in a row he declares for the NBA Draft. Hard to develop a program that way.
Georgetown has regressed under John Thompson, while Villanova seems to collapse every March now.
Marquette had been doing well until this year, but their cupboard is going dry, which leaves Providence, Xavier as the lone two Big East programs on an upswing. League could use an infusion of coaching talent.
11) Hey, the #7 seed in the 10-team Big X (Baylor) is in the Sweet 16, so that’s a powerful league; the ACC and Big Dozen are also better than the Big East. Going to be interesting moving forward how the league either gets better or regresses even more. Its not looking good for them right now.
10) Dayton-Stanford matchup is just the second 10-11 seed matchup in a regional semi; VCU upset Florida State three years ago, in the other one.
9) Over last three NCAA tournaments, underdogs are 17-7 vs spread in regional semi-final round, which is this Thursday/Friday.
8) Why did Cam Newton wait until now to get his ankle operated on? Isn’t this late in the offseason for that? If it has bothered him for so long, why didn’t he get it fixed as soon as the season ended?
7) Former NBA great Walt Frazier was saying on the Knick game Sunday night how he didn’t like jerseys with sleeves, especially after they got wet with sweat; supposedly Lebron James and the NBA commish will meet this summer to talk about the future of sleeved jerseys in the NBA.
6) Someone should ask Jerry Sloan about them; until only a few years ago, Evansville traditionally wore sleeved uniforms, and Sloan played for the Purple Aces.
5) Wichita State lost assistant coach Chris Jans; he goes to Bowling Green, replacing Louis Orr as head coach.
4) Someone has to explain to me this “charter school” thing; how are these charter schools different than public or private schools? I know some people who have dealings with them, so I’ll have to find out, but I’m not sure why all kids don’t just go to public schools, unless their parents pay to send them somewhere else.
3) According to SB Nation, San Jose Sharks will travel 57,612 miles this year, most in the NHL; Phoenix Coyotes are next, at 52,633.
2) Since 2002, these teams have the worst home records in the NFL: Lions 38-58, Browns 38-58, Raiders 39-57.
1) I complained enough about Mike Krzyzewski not giving halftime interviews; need to point out he did give one at halftime of the Mercer game. If he is superstitious, it might be the last one he ever gives.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a basketball weekend
Stanford 60, Kansas 57-- On November 11, Cardinal scored 103 points in a home game.....and lost by nine. I've seen them play 5-6 times this year; at no point did I think this was a Sweet 16 team. Maybe the Cardinal playing two games in St Louis this weekend was a good omen.
Andrew Wiggins scored four points for Kansas; someone has to explain to me why he is such a surefire lock to be an NBA star.
Kentucky 78, Wichita State 76-- This game had a different feel to it than all the other games this weekend; it was class warfare, the bluebloods against the tough, working class team. Kentucky's young team played their best game of the year, by far. Sometimes you handicap these games by picking the best player on the court; in this game, that was Kentucky's Julius Randle.
Iowa State 85, North Carolina 83-- Cyclones won without Georges Niang, its best player; their reward is a road game at Madison Square Garden against UConn in the next round. North Carolina gave up 58 points to the two point guards they played against this weekend, Cotton/Kane.
Tennessee 83, Mercer 63-- Only three SEC teams made the tournament, but those teams are a combined 7-0. Vols won three games this week, proving once again that playing in the First Four can be overcome. Great run for the Mercer Bears, who made the tournament for the first time since 1985.
UCLA 77, Stephen F Austin 60-- Bruins-VCU would've been good theater, but Rams gagged away their game Friday, giving UCLA a virtual bye into the second round. Lumberjacks had their 29-game winning streak snapped; what a great year they had. Too bad every team but one has to lose.
Baylor 85, Creighton 55-- ESPNU had a panel show Sunday night, after the field of 68 was announced; coaches on there were down on Creighton's shot at making the Sweet 16. Tough end to a great career for Doug McDermott.
On Feb 15, Baylor needed a last-second trey to tie Kansas State, where they beat the Wildcats- they would've been 15-10 had that shot not gone it, losers of eight of last ten games. Instead, they're now 12-2 in their last 14 games.
Virginia 78, Memphis 60-- This was an awful game; Cavaliers were on top of things, and go to Sweet 16 for first time since 1995, when they lost in the regional final to Arkansas. Memphis finishes the season 5-5 in their last ten games; Josh Pastner is 130-43 in five years there, but he replaced Calipari, who was 137-14 in his last four years with the Tigers.
Arizona 84, Gonzaga 61-- Over last six years, #1 seeds are now 15-8-1 vs spread in second round. WCC was down this year, but Gonzaga won a game in the tournament, which is probably overachieving.
5) John Smoltz was saying on MLB Network how spring training is really important for pitchers, it isn't too long. Position players would disagree, I'm sure. I just know I'll be glad when the season starts in full next Monday.
4) Kansas State got a technical foul Friday night for dunking in warmups, and it was a sub who dunked; that happened once when I was coaching in high school. Can't repeat what the head coach said to the kid at halftime that night; we'll just say the kid was convinced his playing career was over, which it was not, but he didn't know that. Tremendous comedy.
3) Recommendation to people who have food delivery businesses; please, please, please have people on the phone who understand and speak English. That way, I'll get what I ordered and will order from you again. Once you get the food order wrong, I'm not real eager to give you any more business.
2) A's are in their last spring training at Phoenix Municipal Stadium; they move to Mesa next spring. Light poles at Phoenix Muni came from the Polo Grounds in New York City, where the Giants used to play.
1) Wichita State-Kentucky game was a referendum on the "1-and-done" issue in college basketball. Kentucky has new players every year; they're like a junior college program on fast forward, or a D-League franchise. Wichita is a powerful mid-major that took seven years to get to this point.
College basketball would be better off if kids could go straight from high school to the NBA; if kids go to college, they should stay at least two years. You think these "1-and-done" kids are going to class spring semester? Please.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up Day 3 of March Madness13) Florida 61, Pitt 45-- You watch Talib Zanna play for Pitt, you wonder how he can go a whole game without taking a foul shot. Panthers look like a team that spends too much time lifting weights, not enough time practicing with basketballs, but thats just me.
12) Louisville 66, Saint Louis 51-- Rick Pitino was encouraging his former assistant Steve Masiello to leave Manhattan for the South Florida job. Bad thing about these Cinderealla teams is that they often lose their coach as soon as their run ends, and have to start all over again. Part of the business.
11) Michigan 79, Texas 65-- Wolverines made 14-28 from arc, ending the fine Texas season that saved Rick Barnes' job. Longhorns are better off not having kids who will jump to the NBA- they can build something now.
10) San Diego State 63, North Dakota State 44-- Aztecs play tremendous defense, were just too athletic for the Bison, who now have to replace three senior starters and maybe their coach, who is rumored to be a candidate to be the new coach at Marquette- he is an old Bo Ryan assistant.
9) Dayton 55, Syracuse 53-- How cool is it that Archie Miller's wife had a "Dayton High Life" t-shirt on, modeled after the old "Miller High Life" logo. How about the Flyers, who beat Buckeyes and Orangemen by total of three points? They're probably playing Kansas in the next round.
8) Wisconsin 85, Oregon 77-- Badgers took advantage of having this game in Milwaukee, 80 miles from home. Ducks led by 12 at half, but Wisconsin hit 11-28 from the arc and pulled away in the last few minutes. Fair question: think they'd rather play Baylor or Creighton in their next game? .
7) Michigan State 80, Harvard 73-- Part of winning a national title is having upsets in your region, just before you were suppoosed to play the team that got upset. In other words, Izzo is really happy Cincinnati got beat Thursday, even though Harvard rallied and scared the Spartans some.
6) UConn 77, Villanova 65-- Rough end to the season for Wildcats, who lost to Seton Hall in Big East tourney, then sleptwalked past Milwaukee Friday, before getting drilled by their old conference rival UConn. Starting in 2010, this is how the Wildcats ended the last five seasons.......
2010: 3-6 in last nine games.
2011: 0-6 in last six games.
2012: 3-9 in last twelve games.
2013: 2-4 in last six games
2014: lost two of last three games.
5) Favorites went 8-7-1 vs spread Thursday, 7-9 Friday, 15-16-1 overall in first round, then 5-3 Saturday in the second round.
4) If you were a college basketball coach and you know they use a Wilson basketball in the NCAA tournament, why wouldn't you use one in the regular season, too? Wouldn't that help some in March?
3) Steve Alford said that there was at least one NBA scout at 88 of his team's 100 practices this season. Hard to keep a program together that way, but that is the reality now at a program like UCLA.
2) 68 teams in NCAA tournament had a total of 27 Canadians on rosters.
1) Iowa State's Georges Niang has a broken foot, is done for the year, big blow for the Cyclones, who play North Carolina Sunday.
Saturday's List of 13: Wrapping up Day 2 of March Madness
Mercer 78, Duke 71-- Duke's first true road game this year was January 4, a loss at Notre Dame; they played four neutral court games before that.
If you wonder why upsets like this happen, well part of it is that Duke does not challenge itself in pre-conference play. Explains a lot- they were 7-27 inside the arc in this game, 15-37 from the arc. Against an Atlantic Sun team.
Baylor 74, Nebraska 60-- Bears are 11-2 in last 13 games; they were 38-48 on foul line in this game, Nebraska 10-16, which annoyed Tim Miles enough that he got thrown out midway thru second half. Nebraska made progress in Miles' second season, but they're now 0-7 in NCAA tournament history.
Stanford 58, New Mexico 53-- Kendall Williams was 1-9, Alex Kirk 0-3 as Lobos lost another first round game and looked feeble doing it. Teams from the Mountain West are now 18-39 in the NCAA tournament.
Arizona 68, Weber State 59-- Weber had 13 offensive rebounds, got to foul line 23 times and didn't look like a team that lost six Big Sky games. Fouls are going to make Sean Miller grumpy as he prepares to meet Gonzaga next.
Tennessee 86, UMass 67-- Three days ago, Vols were playing play-in game in Dayton; Sunday, they face a 14-seed to get into the Sweet 16, so there is no excuse for them not getting there. Mercer won at Ole Miss this year, so they will have confidence going up against an SEC squad.
Creighton 76, UL-Lafayette 66-- If Doug McDermott somehow winds up as the #2 all-time scorer in college basketball history, both #1/#2 will be guys who played for their fathers in college. Thought that was interesting. By the way, McDermott gave up his scholarship this year, so Grant Gibbs could get one when he got his sixth year of eligibility. Thats $44,000 well-spent.
Kansas 80, Eastern Kentucky 69-- Jayhawks were 0-7 behind arc; game was tied at half, but rebounds were 43-19. Stanford will test Kansas' lack of defensive presence inside with Embiid hurt. EKU couldn't do it, but they did make 12-31 behind the arc.
Gonzaga 85, Oklahoma State 77-- No one pays to watch referees blow their whistles; there were 61 fouls in this debacle, with Gonzaga way better prepared to play- they led 9-0 off the bat. Gonzaga has college players who care about winning. Oklahoma State has guys who think they're NBA stars already; they did have nice sneakers, though.
Memphis 71, George Washington 66-- Colonials will regret going 14-24 on the foul line in contest that got very close late. Would've been a long summer for Josh Pastner had Memphis blown this game-- now he faces Virginia on Sunday with very little to lose.
North Carolina 79, Providence 77-- Tremendous game. Bryce Cotton was a WARRIOR for the Friars; 36 points, 8 assists, but its hard to beat really good teams when you only play six guys. Nothing but respect for Ed Cooley and his team this season; he got every drop out of them.
Wichita State 64, Cal Poly 37-- Total ass-kicking. I chart lots and lots of boxscores; can't remember a college team shooting 20.7% from the field, but that is what Cal Poly shot here. Wichita-Kentucky is main event Sunday.
Stephen F Austin 77, VCU 75 ot-- Its easier to be the hunter than hunted; Rams gagged this game away by fouling a 3-point shooter when up 4 with 0:03.6 left, after bricking three of four foul shots in last 0:21. Kid who made the stupid foul had a wide-open trey to win game in OT; not even close.
Virginia 70, Coastal Carolina 59-- Chanticleers were just 9th #16 seed to lead a #1 seed at halftime, but Virginia pulled away for win despite having no offensive rebounds. None. Coastal Carolina has a young team and might be back in the next couple of years; they played really well for half a game.
Kentucky 56, Kansas State 49-- Craig Sager had an awesome bracket tie on last night; I'd love to get one, if anyone knows who sells them. Julius Randle had 19 points, 15 rebounds as Kentucky moves on to face unbeaten Wichita State Sunday in a game that will get major amounts of hype.
Iowa State 93, North Carolina Central 75-- Georges Dieng got hurt, was on crutches after the game, potential horrible news for a Cyclone squad that took NCC's best shot, still won easily. Fred Hoiberg seems mild mannered, but he did not look happy near the end of the first half.
UCLA 76, Tulsa 59-- Bruins play 13-seed SF Austin Sunday for a trip to the Sweet 16. Southern Miss, La Tech, Middle Tennessee were better teams in C-USA, but Tulsa won the conference tourney and were an easy out here, especially basically playing a road game in San Diego.
Friday's List of 13: Wrapping up Day 1 of March Madness
Dayton 60, Ohio State 59-- Buckeyes don't play in-state teams in their non-conference schedule, but they had to play Dayton here and Flyers got a game-winning basket with 0:06 left to win it. Dayton outscored Ohio State in transition, 20-12; that wasn't expected. Good win for Atlantic 13.
Wisconsin 75, American 35-- American was winning 17-10 at one point; really, they were. Badgers are 17-12 in NCAA tourney under Bo Ryan, but 13 of the 17 wins are against teams seeded 10th or worse.
Pittsburgh 77, Colorado 48- Buffaloes overachieved to get into the NCAAs after losing star guard Spencer Dinwiddie early in conference season, but they laid an egg here and got trounced. Panthers were 6.5-point favorites; that was the biggest spread in any 8-9 game since 1987.
Harvard 61, Cincinnati 57-- When you get a technical foul for not having a player in the scorebook, thats on your coaching staff, even moreso since that happened in the Mountain West tourney last week, so EVERYONE should be aware of it. Harvard was the tougher team in this game; Bearcats missed a ton of short shots (17-45, 37.8%) inside the arc. Thats on the players.
Syracuse 77, Western Michigan 53-- When Orange won national title in 2003, they played two games here in Albany, where the arena setting gave them more of a home court edge than they're used to in their dome at home. Same thing here; arena in Buffalo gives them a formidable home court edge.
Florida 67, Albany 55-- Game was 39-all with 14:10 left, but the best team in America isn't losing to the 4-seed from America East. Will Brown is 4-1 vs spread in NCAA tournament games, and he's played some of the big boys-- UConn, Duke, Virginia, Florida.
Oregon 87, BYU 68-- Selection Committee has to be happy with the way Thursday went, but BYU didn't belong in the field with Collinsworth hurt. Ducks have now won nine of their last ten games. They'll have a tough time beating the Badgers in Milwaukee Saturday.
Michigan State 93, Delaware 78-- Adreian Payne scored 41, but Izzo has to be concerned with Delaware going 30-39 on foul line. Only two Spartans played more than 25:00; they get Harvard Saturday. State was 10-19 from arc in this game; that doesn't happen every day.
UConn 89, St Joe's 81 ot-- Hard to win any game when your bench plays total of 9:00, and in OT to boot. UConn hit 11-24 from arc and still needed an extra 5:00 to win, inferring that the better team may have lost. First win in NCAAs for Kevin Ollie, who gets old friend Villanova Saturday.
Michigan 57, Wofford 40-- Southern Conference teams generally cannot compete athletically with big-time schools. That was the case here. After Day 1 of the tournament. only 18,741 out of 11M+ -plus brackets got all 16 games right; Warren Buffett probably isn't too worried.
Saint Louis 83, NC State 80 ot-- With 8:13 to go, Wolfpack was up by 16; they were still up six in last minute. State was 20-37 from foul line, and that will haunt them until practice starts in October.
North Dakota State 80, Oklahoma 75 ot-- Lawrence Alexander tied game with a trey at 0:12 mark, then more experienced Bison won in OT, giving the Summit League a rare postseason win. Had New Mexico State won late last night, we would have had the strangest second round game ever, but Bison are facing San Diego State in their next game.
Villanova 73, Milwaukee 53-- Only thing that kept this game from extreme ugliness was Wildcats starting 1-19 from the arc. Wildcats are a funny team; they've won a lot of games, but are seldom real impressive. Only two of their guys played more than 27:00, which will help Saturday.
Texas 87, Arizona State 85-- Total heartbreak for ASU, as last five Texas points came off of offensive rebounds after horrible airballs. Jahii Carson had 19 points, nine assists in his last college game. Seriously, if Texas hits the rim with either of its last two jumpshots, they probably would've lost.
Louisville 71, Manhattan 64-- Hancock bailed defending champs out of a fierce struggle with couple of 3-pointers late. Mirror image teams fought like hell for two hours; bad news for Manhattan is that coach Masiello won't be coaching the Jaspers very much longer; he is destined for bigger things.
San Diego State 73, New Mexico State 69 ot-- Aztecs held on to win in OT in a far less-publicized teacher/pupil matchup. San Diego State led by 12 at the half, but Aggies fought back as Aztecs damn near gagged game away at end of regulation. San Diego State lost to Florida Gulf Coast LY, now they're playing North Dakota State Saturday. Hello, Cinderella......
Thursday's List of 13: Its the best four days of the year.....
13) If you like college basketball, going to Las Vegas for the first weekend of March Madness would be great fun, if not somewhat overwhelming. Vegas is always good but this weekend is like Mardi Gras, New Year’s and Christmas rolled into one.
This is one time where I’d recommend going with a group, since most everyone else does; that way you can save seats for each other in sportsbooks/clubs and things are just easier/more fun. In any event, I highly recommend the experience. Just get your rest before you go.
12) Throw back the clock to March 1999, my first March Madness in Vegas; I’m sitting in the sportsbook at the Palms, about to bet on Oregon in an NIT game and the waitress asks me if I want a drink. I look up and a woman who looked an awful lot like Pamela Anderson is standing there with her tray.
We had just flown out that day and I was tired; I tried to order a drink but words didn’t come out of my mouth. She was probably used to dorks like me gawking at her, but I felt stupid. No biggie, but if it wasn’t me I’d have laughed at myself. Won the Oregon bet, at least.
11) Jump ahead to March 2010, my most recent March Madness visit; its couple nights before the tournament, quiet in MGM Grand’s sportsbook, watching couple NBA games, when all of a sudden four guys behind me start jumping on each other and hugging like they just cured cancer.
I had to ask if the guy who just made the jumper for New Orleans was the one guy’s brother but he said “No, the Hornets got to 15 points first.”
I hadn’t realized there is a prop bet on NBA games, as to which team gets to 15 points first. Very unusual bet, but guess it stimulates action, which is what the casinos want, lot like betting first five innings in a baseball game. Casinos get creative with prop bets to increase action, and these guys won their bet, so they were happy. Happy is good.
10) 40 years ago this month, Maryland Terrapins were #3 in the country; they lost the ACC championship game in OT to NC State and didn’t even make the NCAA tournament, because back then, only the conference champ made the NCAAs. Terps jogged thru the NIT, winning the title game there by 30+ points (over Niagara, if I remember right) and NC State won the national title, but lot has changed since then, for sure.
9) Whatever happened to Billy Packer? Guy was all over TV for 35 years, then CBS dumps him and he never resurfaces? I’m thinking this is our loss- there are enough sorry TV guys on the airwaves, Packer deserves a voice on one of these networks, no?
8) I like casinos with 24-hour coffee shops, just adds to the who-cares-what time-it-is aura of a casino.
My three favorite, though I haven’t been in all of them are:
Planet Dailies in Planet Hollywood, the coffee shop in the Orleans and the one in South Point. Believe me, you see all kinds of stuff in 24-hour coffee shops.
7) I’m still waiting for one valid, semi-sensible reason why Louisville is a #4 seed. Anybody got anything?
6) I have a database of pointspread records from the 64-team era of the tournament; the two biggest pointspread upsets I can find are:
1) Norfolk State (+21.5) beating Missouri in the first round two years ago and 2) Santa Clara (with Steve Nash) upsetting Arizona (+20) in the first round in 1993. Both were 2-15 games.
5) First Four has turned out to be better than I thought it would; it has kind of a JV/Varsity feel to it, with the 16-seeds playing first, then the better teams playing the nightcap. Think it would be even better if only the top eight at-large teams played, but that’s nitpicking. Actually, the tournament would be better off at 64 teams, with none of the extra stuff, but since they have it, at least they have a format which works pretty well.
4) CBS has done a good job putting all the games on regular TV; afternoon card is so spread out you really don’t have to go out to catch just about all the good action. For the night cards, a sports bar is necessary. Plus, CBS Sports Network runs the games back all night, the way ESPN used to in the old days, and that’s a great thing.
3) One more thing about being in Vegas this weekend; don’t forget, games start at 9:10am local time. Got to get at least a little sleep, ya know?
2) Baseball season starts at 4am Eastern time Friday night/Saturday morning from Australia, when Dodgers-Arizona play. Second game of the series is 10pm Saturday night, or Sunday afternoon in Australia. Lot of stuff going on; things move fast, you have to keep up.
1) By time I get to Las Vegas in mid-April, the NBA/NHL regular seasons will be over, baseball will be underway, college basketball will be over, and the NFL schedule for next year should be out. Going to be a busy few weeks before I get out there!!!!
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) How are these tournament games going to be officiated? New rules? Old rules? Australian Rules? Holy Cross-Brown CIT game Monday night had total of 10 foul shots, but that was with refs who weren’t trying to impress evaluators and move on in the NCAA tournament.
Former Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said on ESPNU Sunday night he thought the new rules this season hurt Duke. Interesting point. If the powers-that-be are hung up on enforcing new rules, there could be games with lot of foul shots being taken.
12) When, if ever, will a 1-seed lose to a 16-seed? Not this year; too many upsets in the smaller conference tourneys weakened the bottom of this field.
11) VCU’s run to the Final Four legitimized the First Four concept; which of the upper-level First Four teams can make a run this year?
10) Speaking of which, just when Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin got the heat off him by making it to the NCAAs, Auburn hit a grand slam and hired former Vols’ coach Bruce Pearl, making the Tigers a player in basketball for the first time in over a decade.
9) Auburn is going to get good, and fast. Whenever a quality coach follows a quality recruiter, it is a bonanza for that school. Pearl is a proven winner in that league. Tony Barbee recruited some talent to the Plains, now Pearl will win with those players and rehabilitate a career that was interrupted by troubles with the NCAA.
8) Providence beat Creighton Saturday night by pushing the Bluejays around inside; Friars have so little depth, can they do the same thing with North Carolina, which has bigger, tougher (if less skilled) guys than Crieghton?
7) Friars and St Joe’s are two teams with almost zero depth, but with TV timeouts longer during the NCAA tournament, conditioning should be less of a problem than if refs blow a tight whistle, like they did in the Providence-Seton Hall game Friday. Hawks also play six guys but they’re six pretty good guys.
6) Does winning one of the bigger conference tournaments give you momentum into the next weekend?
ACC tourney champ covered five of its last six first round NCAA games.
Big X champ is 4-2 vs spread in its first round NCAA game the last six years.
Pac-12 tourney champ covered its first NCAA game four of last five years.
That’s a small sample, but early returns would say that it does help some.
5) Las Vegas radio host Ken Thomson, a keen observer of college hoop, pointed out Monday that this year’s Atlantic 13 is like LY’s Mountain West, when they had a lot of teams in the NCAAs but then struggled in the tournament, making people think the bids weren’t warranted.
I’m not crazy about Saint Louis or UMass, but overall the A-13 has survived the conference juggling and emerged fairly strong.
4) I’ve got a morbid curiosity about how the beaten #1 seeds will do in the NIT. Robert Morris upset St John's in Queens Tuesday night.
3) Nebraska coach Tim Miles was talking on TV the other night about how he had Texas A&M WR Mike Evans in Lincoln on a basketball recruiting visit and that he was a very good hooper. Am thinking Evans made the right decision choosing football.
2) UNLV assistant coach Heath Schroyer is leaving for the head coaching job at Tennessee-Martin, one of the hardest D-I jobs in America. Rumor has former LMU coach Max Good replacing Schroyer on the Rebels’ bench.
1) Boston College fired Steve Donahue, which makes you wonder if Pearl hadn’t taken the Auburn job, would his alma mater have come after him and if so, would Pearl be headed to Boston right now instead of Alabama?
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Doug McDermott mentioned something interesting Sunday night, about how he has to adjust to a different basketball now that NCAA tourney was starting. Conferences have sponsorship deals with different companies; the NCAA’s basketball deal is with Wilson—don’t think too many leagues use a Wilson ball during the regular season.
Shooters care a lot about the right feel of a ball in their hands, so guys like McDermott are using these precious few days before the tournament starts to get used to a new piece of equipment in their toolkit.
12) Oddsmakers in Las Vegas mocked the idea of Louisville as a #4-seed, saying Florida/Michigan State are only two teams that would be favored over the Cardinals this month.
11) FOX Sports1 is doing remotes on its nightly highlights show from LVH Sportsbook in Las Vegas, the best one in town and the hotel I’m staying at next month. Very good cheesesteaks in a deli in the back of the sportsbook.
10) Mercer is jumping from Atlantic Sun to Southern Conference next year for football; its basketball team will find SoCon a couple steps down from Atlantic Sun, much like Belmont has found the Ohio Valley Conference.
9) Hopefully all this conference jumping will end someday; Rutgers, Maryland move next year, and a few C-USA teams jump to the AAC, while Louisville slides into the ACC. New Mexico State needs a better home, so it doesn’t have to play basketball in the depleted WAC anymore.
8) 4-5 years from now, is the Big East going to look stupid for having both Butler/Creighton in it? In other words, can they recruit well enough to compete in a top-level conference?
7) Monday morning’s earthquake in Los Angeles was the strongest one there in twenty years.
6) Two years after firing Seth Greenberg, if Virginia Tech called and wanted him back to replace the fired James Johnson, would he go? Greenberg is good on ESPN, one of their better college hoop voices; not sure what the money is like, but I’d be hesitant to bolt TV for another coaching gig, if I were him, but that’s easy for me to say. Coaching can be very addictive.
5) Monday’s Cub-Angel game in Mesa sold out. Why? They give stuff away? Did they serve green beer? Spring training baseball is very popular.
4) Teddy Bridgewater apparently had a disappointing pro day on his own college campus; how does this happen?
Why not throw at the NFL Combine? Now he could conceivably slide out of the first round, which would cost him a small fortune in his first contract. I don’t understand why guys won’t trust their own ability and just throw at the Combine.
3) Not surprised that Syracuse has the longest average possession on defense (0:21.1) in the country, but was very surprised that Florida was second (0:20.1). Top six on this list is up above and its an impressive list.
2) When you see a team like UNLV or Indiana turn down bids to the CBI and CIT, it means pretty much that they had poor team chemistry and the coaches see no value in having the team stay together any longer; they can cut ties with any players they want to get rid of, and work out with the ones they’re moving forward with.
In other words, it was a lousy year and the coaches are relieved its over without them getting fired. No one turns down the NIT because the NCAA owns the NIT, but the CBI and CIT are second-rate events and not every program wants to be bothered.
1) This bears repeating: college scholarships are one-year, renewable deals. If a coach doesn’t want a player to come back next year, he’ll simply (and mostly quietly) tell the player he’s not going to be welcome back next year, and either find the kid a place to transfer to, or wish him well with his education and move on while the kid is on his own for his next step.
This is how Ryan Harrow went from Kentucky to Georgia State this year. Coaches get fired for losing, after all, so they’re not going to keep kids around who they think are hindering the process, whether that is fair or unfair. At the end of the day, it is a big-money business.
Monday's List of 13: Initial thoughts from Field of 68.......
13) The 4-seeds are better than the 3-sseds, and I mean Michigan State and Louisville, especially. Manhattan coach Steve Masiello played/coached for Rick Pitino; Jaspers have to be disappointed in drawing the Cardinals.
12) Louisville as a 4-seed, no SMU at all; guess the committee wasn't too fond of the new AAC. Wait until next year, with Louisville gone and a bunch of teams coming in from C-USA- they really won't like the league then.
11) SMU's non-conference strength of schedule: #302 out of 351.
10) If you live in a place where wagering is legal, keep in mind that over the last six years, #1 seeds are 14-10 vs spread in the first round. No #1 seed has ever lost a first round game-- in '89, Georgetown beat Princeton 50-49.
9) Last four times Duke has been to the Final Four, they were a #1 seed (they've only been to Final Four once in last nine years).
Last time Duke made the Final Four without being a #1 seed? 1994.
8) Mercer is #5 in country in experience; they won at Ole Miss, lost by 3 at Texas. Duke isn't a great defensive team; remember, Vermont was 31-41 inside arc against them Nov 24. Mercer plays in the same league as Florida Gulf Coast, who made the Sweet 16 last year. I'm just sayin'.......
7) Last two years, three #2 seeds lost in first round, after being 40-0 in the ten years before that.
6) Fran Fraschilla/Tim Welsh seem to think Creighton ain't going to the Sweet 16; UL-Lafayette lost 63-58 at Creighton in 2011, when McDermott was a freshman and both coaches were in their first season at their school.
Ragin' Cajuns pulled a rabbit out of their hats Sunday, rallying from 10 down with 4:00 left to win. Their fans can drive to San Antonio (six-hour drive).
5) You can bet the under on American-Wisconsin. Final score of Patriot League final was 55-36. Will be a low possession game. American's last two games had 53-56 possessions, like watching paint dry.
4) Oddity: In the last 15 years, a #4 seed got beat in first round 14 times, but the last time the East's #4-seed lost in first round was 1991. Michigan State is the East's #4 seed this year.
3) Another oddity: 20 years ago, Tulsa upset UCLA 112-102 in a 5-12 game in the Midwest. Starting with that game, Midwest's #5 seed is 6-14 against spread in their first round games, with 12 SU losses in 20 games.
2) Put it this way: over the last 18 years, if you bet the underdog in every 5-12 first round game, you'd be 44-28 (61.1%).
1) I'll pick a Final Four now, and reserve the right to change my mind:
Michgian State-Florida-Wichita State-Wisconsin.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a day of basketball.....
13) Fred Hoiberg played college ball at Iowa State; he is now their coach; he was so popular in college that is nickname is still "The Mayor". His team is now Big X champs after beating Baylor Saturday night.
Hoiberg's college coach was Johnny Orr, who passed away in December at age 86. This pic is of coach and player; the caption says it all.........
12) Congrats to the Albany Great Danes, coach Will Brown on taking my alma mater to the NCAAs for the 4th time. Stony Brook lost tourney final for third time in last four years- they've never been to the NCAAs.
By the way, there was a mascot scuffle at this game; there is very little in life that is funnier than mascot fisticuffs. I'm assuming the Great Dane won.
11) Georgia State 72, Arkansas State 45-- Red Wolves lost in four OTs Friday, then had to play a 2pm local time game Saturday, so that killed any hope ASU had, considering the Panthers didn't play Friday.
10) UCLA 75, Arizona 71-- Steve Alford has now won three consecutive conference tourneys, all in Las Vegas. His problem comes next week- he lost to Harvard last year, lost to #14-seed Northwestern State few years back.
9) Stepehn F Austin has won 28 games in a row; they lost to Texas by 10, went 3-0 vs CAA teams, beat Marshall. Played a fluffy schedule, but they are #3 in America at forcing turnovers.
8) Texas Southern 78, Prairie View 73-- Normally the SWAC team gets treated like a pinata in the NCAAs, but former Indiana coach Mike Davis has a star player who has been in the bigtime, former LaSalle/West Virginia big man Aaric Murray- he'll keep them comprtitive inside.
7) Iowa State has won eight games this year when they trailed by double digits at some point in that game.
6) Providence had won two Big East tournament games in the last 14 years; they won three just this weekend.
5) If I run FOX Sports1, I'm debating making the Pac-12 final the 8:00 game next March, and the Big East game the 6:00 game. Arizona-UCLA in Vegas had a much more bigtime feel to it than a non-sold out MSG.
4) MEAC champ NC Central beat NC State this year; they're a team that won their league easily and could be a problem next week, much like Norfolk State was two years ago, when they upset Missouri.
3) Virginia's only ACC tournament title was in 1976, when Wally Walker was the team's star and I was a high school junior; their last appearance in the ACC final was 19 years ago. Virginia-Duke is a good game today.
2) Cal Poly 61, Northridge 59-- Matadors got hosed bigtime in last minute of Big West final; two critical calls went against them- they win if they get either call. First trip to NCAAs for 13-19 Mustangs, who should find it a little chilly in Dayton Tuesday or Wednesday.
1) CBS isn't going to be happy with the first couple days of this season's tournameent; so many undeserving teams have won conference tourneys, lot of bad games (routs) will take place Thursday/Friday. Teams that would be much lower seeds normally will be pushed up the seed lines. Weak field.
Only seven of the first 23 teams to clinch NCAA bids were #1 seeds.
If you're an eternal optimist, the NIT should be pretty good.
Saturday's List of 13: Wrapping up a day of basketball.....
13) Game of the Year: Arkansas State 116, Ark-Little Rock 114, 4 OTs
I don't care what league it is in, whether Jay Bilas announced the game, or if anyone besides me watched on TV, but when a conference tourney semifinal goes four overtimes, this is my Game of the Year.
Ed Townsel of Arkansas State played all 60 minutes, scoring 32 points; he was averaging 9.2 ppg coming into the game. ASU was down six with 1:20 to play in regulation. Hell of a win for them.
12) Pitt 80, North Carolina 75-- Tar Heels were 11-7 at one point, then won 12 in a row, have now lost two in row heading into the NCAAs. Very difficult team to figure- they just don't shoot the ball consistently well.
11) Duke 63, Clemson 62-- Tigers have been the Washington Generals of the ACC tournament; they've never won it, as in.....never. They had Duke by the throat in this game, but let them slip away in the last 0:05. Bitter loss.
10) St Bonaventure 71, Saint Louis 68-- Earlier this season, some paper or magazine did a study and found Bonnies' coach Mark Schmidt gave his school the most bang for what they paid him, as in wins per dollar. Bonnies KO'd #1 seed Billikens here-- very rough week for the top-seeded teams.
9) St Joe's 70, Dayton 67-- If you believe bracketologists, this was pretty much a play-in game, and the shorthanded Hawks pulled it out. Martelli had his two subs on the floor Friday for a total of 12 minutes.
8) Iowa State 94, Kansas 83-- Jayhawks ain't winning the NCAAs without a healthy Joel Embiid; they allowed 92+ points in two of last thee games.
7) Baylor 86, Texas 69-- Scott Drew's Bears have won 10 of last 11 games to jump into the field of 68. I've read/heard stuff in media about Drew not being a very good coach, just a recruiter; well, they were 14-9, 2-8 in league, and now they're 24-10, 12-9, in the country's best league. Good coaching.
6) San Diego State 59, UNLV 51-- CBS Sports Network's analysts ripped the UNLV guards, unusual for TV guys to openly rip players' abilities. You get the feeling if these teams played 20 times, San Diego State would never lose- they're a decent amount better and both sides know it.
Aztecs-Lobos at 6:00 today will be an excellent game.
5) Georgia 75, Ole Miss 73-- Rebels were 2-25 from the arc, lost by two.
4) While UConn-Cincinnati were beating each other up, Louisville crushed Houston by 29; don't think the AAC will be sad to see the Cardinals leave.
3) Michigan 64, Illinois 63-- Kid on Illini missed a 7-foot runner that would have won the game. Illinois will be a tough out in the NIT.
2) Upset of the Day: NC State (+8.5) 66-63 over Syracuse.
Both Big West underdogs won SU, getting seven points each.
1) Bad Beat of the Day: Akron (-2) vs Western Michigan-- Zips were up 17 at the half, but went scoreless for 8:18 in second half, as Western went on an enormous 18-0 run that forced this game to OT, where Broncos won.
Friday's List of 13: Wrapping up a day of basketball.....
13) Seton Hall 64, Villanova 63-- Likely to cause Wildcats to lose #1 seed next week. Either Pirates or Providence will be in Big East final.
12) Cal Poly 69, UCSB 38-- Gauchos just won by 16 at Cal Poly five days ago, were expected to challenge Cal-Irvine for Big West title. Yikes.
11) Colorado 59, California 56-- Buffaloes won three of last four games, with all three wins by exact same 59-56 score- they play Arizona Friday, but hard to believe they're still on the bubble.
10) Louisville 92, Rutgers 31-- Rutgers is New Jersey's state university; they're going to be in the Big Dozen soon. If I'm running Rutgers' athletic department, this is a red flag, but this was Eddie Jordan's first year, so he has time to bring in a lot of new players between now and the fall.
9) Texas 66, West Virginia 49-- Andrew Luck's father is West Virginia's AD; he sold the basketball program down the river when he joined the Big X. Too much travel, too many ridiculously long road trips in winter. This game was 35-14 at the half; wouldn't have wanted to be in that locker room.
8) Eleven #1 seeds have already been KO'd from conference tournaments.
7) Houston 68, SMU 64-- Have no idea what to do with Larry Brown's team; this is a bad loss. Mustangs were up 9 at the half.
6) Southern Mississippi 64, UTEP 56-- Rest of C-USA tourney will be played in front of friends/family after host Miners got KO'd, but final four are the four teams who tied for first in regular season, so it'll be good stuff.
5) South Carolina 71, Arkansas 69-- Gamecock players have rallied behind volatile coach Frank Martin to post two upsets in SEC tourney; Tennessee is up next Friday. Carolina took 41 foul shots (30-41) against the Hogs.
4) MAC basketball-- I say at this time every year the MAC needs more TV exposure; they play a lot like NBA games, lot of physical play, refs let lot of stuff go. Teams get after each other. Saw Bobby Hurley coach for first time; he's lot calmer than his brother Danny, gives his players lot of freedom.
3) In a 4.23 mile stretch (according to Mapquest) of Las Vegas along Tropicana Ave., you can go to three different conference tournaments this weekend:
Mountain West at UNLV
-- Pac-12 at MGM Grand
-- WAC at Orleans Arena
2) Upset of the Day: Northwestern (+12) 67-62 over Iowa. Wheels fell off down stretch for Hawkeyes, who are 4-7 in their last 11 games. Hope they get in NCAAs, just so I can pick against them.
Seton Halll (+11) over Villanova was a close second.
1) Bad Beat of the Day: Texas A&M (+4) loses 91-83 to Missouri in double OT. Tigers were 40-53 from foul line, Aggies 20-28. A&M stole ball and tied game with 0:08 left; cost Aggie backers a cover or a push.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) First of all today, a shout-out to the fine staff at Veterans' Hospital in Albany that is taking care of my dad. You watch nurses in action, and you realize they're underpaid/overworked. Thank you very much.
12) ESPN gets away with age discrimination by pushing Brent Musburger out of its #1 play-by-play slot and into the lead slot on the SEC Network, so ESPN can keep Chris Fowler happy and under contract.
Fowler couldn't touch Brent's shoelaces, but he is younger and could've gone to another network, so he gets pushed up to call the national title game. Our society doesn't respect age enough.
11) LMU fired basketball Max Good Tuesday, quickly hired Mike Dunlap to replace him; Dunlap won two national titles in D-II, is an excellent hire.
10) One thing I need to remind myself about these coaching changes; they are not just names on my index cards- these are people with families and kids who have to change schools. Life-altering stuff, albeit at the big-time level, guys get millions to walk away. Still, it is not good to lose your job.
9) Central Florida has 51,000 undergraduates; thats a big school!!!!
8) Denver Broncos smartly realize their window to win a title with Peyton Manning at QB is short; they signed Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware to bolster the defense. Shouldn't be too hard for them to replace WR Decker.
7) Brewers' pitcher Francisco Rodriguez stepped barefoot on a cactus earlier this week and may not be able to make his scheduled spring training debut today. Good grief, baseball players are soft.
Jack Youngblood played a Super Bowl with a broken leg; a lineman with the Patriots played with a torn ACL. K-Rod stepped on a cactus. Oy.
6) You know your life sucks when you steal a car, without realizing there's a 4-year old kid in the back seat. This happened in Colorado. What an idiot.
5) Watching the three ACC tournament games Wednesday, the quality of play was horrendous; this is a league that sold its soul for football money.
Virginia Tech fired Seth Greenberg and its program got worse. Just because you change coaches doesn't mean you'll get better. A 15-team league is just too big; the bottom six teams in the ACC are awful.
4) ESPN is running a documentary Sunday night called "Requiem for the Big East" about the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry. ESPN has hired so many Syracuse alums, they've gotten whiny about the Orange selling out and going to the ACC. The Big East has the National Player of the Year this season is Doug McDermott-- they're very much alive and well.
3) Dirk Nowitzki passed John Havlicek Wednesday, became the NBA's #12 all-time leading scorer. Hadn't realized he was that high on the list.
2) I'm thinking Cleveland will draft a quarterback in the first round, seeing as they cut all their QBs this week, except for Brian Hoyer.
1) Hubie Brown is a American classic; while Mike Breen was explaining how Nets/Heat players had nicknames on their jerseys Wednesday night, he just ignored Breen and talked about Brooklyn's man-to-man defense. Yes!!!
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) William Clay Ford owned the Lions for 50 years; he was a veteran of WWII and the last surviving grandson of Henry Ford. RIP, sir.
Mr Ford owned the Lions for 50 years, during which time Detroit won one playoff game. One. He was very loyal, which is how Matt Millen kept his job for seven horrendous years. Loyal to a fault, some would say.
12) Cleveland Browns signed LB Karlos Dansby, S Donte Whitner, as their new regime goes about re-tooling their defense, never a bad thing.
11) 49ers traded for OT Jonathan Martin, who was in mdidle of Miami's bullying debacle last season. Martin played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford- it is amazing to me the Dolphins got a draft pick for Martin.
10) 49ers gave Jacksonville a 6th-round pick for QB Blaine Gabbert, as they upgrade at backup QB-- every NFL team needs a good backup. Niners got away with having Colt McCoy as its backup last year.
9) Mt St Mary's 88, Robert Morris 71-- 16-16 Mountaineers were down 19 in second half in their first round tourney game; would guess they're heading to Dayton for a First Four game Tuesday or Wednesday.
8) Milwaukee 69, Wright State 63-- Panthers went 7-9 in Horizon regular season, 3-0 in tournament, which is all that matters. Tough one for Wright St, which got an unexpected home game in tourney final, then laid an egg.
7) Gonzaga 75, BYU 64-- David Stockton picked up his game this week, and Gonzaga goes back to the NCAAs. Going to be a long five days for BYU-- if you're a bubble team waiting to see if you got a bid, this is a brutal week.
6) North Dakota State 60, Fort Wayne 57-- Best game of night, as Bison hold off the Mastadons and get back to NCAAs for first time since 2009.
5) Cowboys cut DeMarcus Ware, saving $16M on the salary cap; ESPN is reporting that the Broncos are the favorite to sign Ware.
4) Raiders gave Rodger Saffold $42.5M for five years; he played tackle for the Rams, but was hurt just as often as not. He'll play guard for the Raiders, but thats an awful lot of money for a guy with a shaky track record.
3) Tough day for Chiefs, who lost Branden Albert, Dexter McClusker to free agency. Thats a big reason why its hard to maintain success-- can't pay everyone, and other teams come after the guys you don't pay.
2) Spurs 104, Bulls 96-- San Antonio was up 53-23 in this game; they made 12-21 from the arc as they improve to 47-16.
1) Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent team, invited Tracy McGrady to try out for its team; pretty cool story if McGrady becomes a pro pitcher, after a stellar career in the NBA.
Tuesday's List of 13: Early Championship Week primer.....
13) Louisville is in midst of 3-year stretch where they’ll play in three leagues (Big East/AAC/ACC). If they win AAC tourney in Memphis this week, they could win ACC tourney next year and win three different conference tournaments in three years. Doubt that has happened before.
12) Weber State is top seed in Big Sky despite a 14-6 record; can’t remember six losses ever getting a top seed, though its probably happened somewhere. Big Sky tournament looks like it is more wide open than most years, when Weber/Montana have dominated things.
11) Four teams tied for first in Conference USA; the tournament host, UTEP, finished 5th, meaning the team that drew the short straw in the three-way tie (Southern Miss) probably has a tough road game in its first quarter-final. Miners have to win a game to play USM.
10) UCLA is 2-3 in its last five games, lost by 18 at Washington State, suspended its two best players for a game and appear to be a ship taking on water. It bears repeating that in his career, Steve Alford hasn’t always been the best March coach, getting upset in a 3-14 game in NCAA tournament, and losing to Harvard last year.
9) Syracuse got Jerami Grant back Sunday and won by 16 at Florida State, so his presence could’ve healed whatever it was (lack of scoring) that ailed them. We’ll learn more this weekend.
8) Virginia had eight days off after its Senior Night win over Syracuse, an emotional game, then they laid an egg at Maryland. Cavaliers need to win a game in ACC tourney—it’s a red flag to go into the tournament off two straight losses.
7) Providence-St John’s will be an interesting first round game in the Big East. Red Storm is playing at home; there’s a chance this could amount to a play-in game. If Friars were to win a game or two in the tournament, watching Bryce Cotton play 40 minutes a game 2-3 days in a row will be intriguing.
6) Kentucky—Young players, big spotlight; they’re 3-4 in last seven games at a place that demands more, whether its realistic or not.
5) Cal-Irvine—Anteaters have never been to NCAAs, but are #1 seed in Big West; this is their time. That brings some pressure with it. UCSB, Long Beach, Hawai’I will be their main challengers in Anaheim.
4) San Diego State-New Mexico are both in NCAAs, so if someone other than those two wins the Mountain West, they’re bursting someone’s bubble. Aztecs rallied back from 16 down to beat New Mexico Saturday; a third game for the MW title late Saturday would be fun.
3) Meanwhile a couple miles away at Orleans Arena, if Utah Valley-New Mexico State hook up in the WAC final, they might need extra security, seeing as the two teams nearly had a riot after their game couple weeks ago. If nothing else, have to see if the Utah Valley coach breaks out that neon green sports jacket again; I’m not sure if Craig Sager would even wear it, that’s how bright it is.
2) Buffalo—Bulls fired Reggie Witherspoon last year because he never made NCAAs; he won a decent amount of games, just not enough in March. Now Bobby Hurley has Buffalo as a high seed in the MAC; can he do what Witherspoon couldn’t and take the Bulls dancing in his first year as coach?
1) Atlantic 13 moved their tournament to Brooklyn; they have lot of good teams, but St Joe’s/Saint Louis have struggled of late, Richmond lost its PG, which leaves fast-paced VCU/UMass as top contenders. This league is going to have several teams in the Field of 68, should be a good tournament at the Barclays’ Center.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) The more I think about it, the more it annoys me that the major league baseball season is starting at 4am on March 22, in Australia. Its not as bad as having the Super Bowl in London would be, but at what point do owners stop trying to suck every dollar out of every corner of the globe?
12) WCC tournament was off Sunday, but not to give kids a break from a three games-in-three days schedule. BYU is in the WCC now and they don't play ball on Sundays, not even in the NCAA tournament.
11) Albany 67, Vermont 58-- Catamounts went 15-1 in America East, beat Great Danes twice by total of 40 points, but had to play them in Albany in the semi-finals and got upset by Will Brown's club for the second year in a row. My alma mater gets a trip downstate to play Stony Brook on ESPN Saturday morning in the America East finals.
10) Marquette lost its last two games, both by a point, both in double OT; 17-14 Eagles finished 9-9 in Big East, are headed to the NIT.
9) Memphis-UConn is an interesting first round game Thursday in the AAC. Huskies lost by 33 at Louisville Saturday; curious to see how they bounce back from that. Losing coach will take some heat, for sure.
8) Mercer 68, Florida Gulf Coast 60-- Bears are in NCAAs for first time in 29 years; they won in Fort Myers, after losing to FGCU in Atlantic Sun final the last two years. Mercer is located in Macon, GA, hometown one of my boyhood heroes, Blue Moon Odom, who pitched for the A's in the 70's.
7) Not the best security at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, where a nitwit came out of the stands, ran across the court, and got in the face of Hawai'i coach Gib Arnold, during the game. At lot of mid-major, low major schools, there isn't a lot of cash for security, stuff like that is more likely to happen.
6) Former NBA great Rick Barry turns 70 years old on March 28; he has a son who is a freshman guard at Charleston. Go figure. Canyon Barry is fifth Barry son to play D-I basketball; his mom is #3 on the all-time scoring list at William & Mary, so he has superior scoring genes.
5) I'm watching a replay of Saturday's Indiana-Michigan game, and NFL ref Gene Steratore is working the game; that game ends, and a replay of Sunday's Northwestern-Purdue game comes on-- Steratore is working that game.
How much money do these guys make? In addition to his NFL gig, Steratore has reffed 51 basketball games this season, in 10 different states.
4) Towson State took 61 foul shots Saturday, made 39, in their 80-71 win over James Madison; have never seen that in a 40-minute game before.
3) Towson got upset by Wm & Mary Sunday; CAA final will be Delaware against the Tribe in Baltimore. Blue Hens are the #1 seed.
2) Davidson is bolting the Southern Conference for CAA next year; they got hosed a little on a touch foul with 0:03.3 left in OT in their semi-final loss to Western Carolina.. Always wary of teams bolting a conference when they play in the conference tournament for the last time. I'm just sayin'.....
1) Referre Jim Burr is getting even feistier as his distinguished officiating career continues; he gave out five technical fouls last year in 63 games. So far this year, his crews have given out 18 T's, in only 47 games.
Mr Burr was refereeing games when I was in college in the late 70's; he was a VP at the bank my friend went to. If ever a guy should write a book or go on TV to work games, it is him. Too bad it'll probably never happen.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday......
13) Most underrated college hoop player: Bryce Cotton of Providence. In the Friars' last 23 games, Cotton has played 953 minutes, an average of 41.4 mpg; he's played all 50:00 in four double OT games this season- he's scored 22+ points in each of the Friars' last seven games.
12) Florida 84, Kentucky 65-- Gators look like best team in America with Championship Week starting. Kentucky had some good spurts in this game, still lost by 19. Florida has a lot of weapons.
11) Oregon 64, Arizona 57-- Ducks are red-hot and off the bubble- they've won seven games in a row. Dana Altman is an excellent coach. Oregon made 10-19 from the arc, Arizona 2-11, which is how upsets happen.
10) Iowa State 85, Oklahoma State 81 ot-- Cyclones were down 16, hit a tying 3-pointer at the buzzer to force OT, then beat Oklahoma State for the second time this year-- the first time was in triple OT in Stillwater.
9) San Diego State 51, New Mexico 48-- Lobos were up 41-25 with 11:10 left, lost to Aztecs for only second time in last seven meetings. If you gave New Mexico four points, they beat you with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
8) St John's 91, Marquette 90 2ot-- Red Storm wore blue uniforms, won for 10th time in last 13 games, after starting Big East play 0-5. They play the Big East tournament at home; St John's still needs a win or two to get into the NCAA tournament.
7) Milwaukee 73, Green Bay 66 ot-- Top-seeded Green Bay gets upset at home by its in-state rival; Panthers go to Dayton to play #3 seed Wright State in the Horizon League final Tuesday night.
6) Serious question: Do college athletic departments recruit cheerleaders? Think about it, attractive cheerleaders would help at recruiting time-- if they do, the person who recruits Oregon's cheerleaders deserves a raise.
5) Gonzaga 77, Santa Clara 75-- David Stockton scored a driving layup with 0:01.4 left, bailing the Zags out after they blew a 5-point lead in the last 40 seconds. Gonzaga is not aas good as they have been in recent years.
4) West Virginia 92, Kansas 86-- Bob Huggins bags a $25,000 bonus for beating Jayhawks, who don't give up 92 points if big guy Joel Embiid plays. Freshman star Andrew Wiggins scored 41 points for Kansas.
3) I'd like to see college basketball adopt the NBA's 8-second rule to get the ball over halfcourt. Just think it would invigorate the game some.
2) Bad Beat of the Day; Clemson +1.5. Tigers led 67-62 with 0:08 left, Pitt missed a 3-pointer, but still scored five points in the last 0:03 to force OT, where they beat Clemson for second time this season. Bitter loss.
Oklahoma State (+3) at Iowa State was a close second.
1) Upsets of the Day:
Milwaukee (+12) upsets Green Bay in Horizon tourney.
Illinois (+11) wins 66-63 at Iowa. Hawkeyes are 4-7 in their last 11 games.
Washington State (+10) beats UCLA 73-59; red flag for Bruins.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) RIP Dr Frank Jobe, who died this week at age 88. I'm thinking Dr Jobe should get in the baseball Hall of Fame, along with Dr James Andrews; how many athletes' careers did they save?
12) Underrated coaching job of the year: Bobby Hurley has Buffalo 18-9 in his first year in western New York, one win away from winning the MAC East. Unless I missed it, ESPN hasn't done a feature on Hurley yet, and they should. Its an interesting story.
11) Eastern Kentucky 86, Murray State 83-- #2 seed in OVC goes down, as Colonels win their sixth straight game. EKU shot 59% from floor, faces top seed Belmont for the OVC championship.
10) Winthrop 62, High Point 60-- Top seed in Big South goes down on a 3 at the buzzer. Eagles are now 5-0 vs High Point this this tournament, but this was first time they weren't favored to win.
9) Wichita State 80, Evansville 58-- Unbeaten Shockers play Missouri state Saturday; Bears had Wichita down 19 with under 12:00 left on January 11, but Wichita came back to win in OT, then won the rematch easily.
8) Harvard 70, Yale 58-- Crimson avenged an earlier loss to their arch-rival, are the first team officially in the field of 68, since Ivy League doesn't have a conference tournament.
7) Milwaukee 74, Valparaiso 57-- Minor upset in Horizon, as Panthers KO the Crusaders and will face top-seeded rival Green Bay Saturday. Valpo did not have one offensive rebound; Milwaukee had 19.
6) Big Sky tournament is going to be bizarre; one day to go in the regular season, and 13-6 Weber State is in first place. How many times does a team with six losses with the regular season title? Wildcats need a win Saturday at Eastern Washington to win the regular season title outright. Its possible that four teams could tie for the last two spots in the conference tourney.
5) An iguana walked across the 18th green at Doral Friday; whats the rule if the iguana picks up a golf ball and walks off with it?
4) Golfer Jamie Donaldson hit a ball on the 8th hole with both his feet in the water, his pants rolled up to his knees. Don't see that on Tour much.
3) Dallas 103, Portland 98-- Mavericks (-2.5) made backers sweat for the cover in a game they once led 40-10 in the second quarter. 40-10.
2) Baseball is odd; watching lefty Jonathan Sanchez pitch for the Cubs, as he tries to hang on to a major league job. Sanchez threw a no-hitter in the major leagues, but has never harnessed his talent, with a 39-58 career record.
1) It pays to be a loudmouth in this world: MLB Network hired mouthy, know-little Christopher Russo to host an afternoon talk show. Russo was on WFAN in New York City for a long time; tennis is his favorite sport, but he is smart enough to know that no one calls a talk show to discuss tennis, so he pretends to know baseball. He is loud for the sake of being loud. Oy.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.....
13) John Calipari has created a monster at Kentucky, a program where there is a lot of player turnover every year and he has a roster full of NBA wanna-bes who don’t wanna-be in college very long.
That gives Kentucky a younger team than most of its opponents, albeit often more talented, but its hard to cultivate any type of chemistry when you have new stars every year. A team made up of less talented, smarter, more mature players will often beat the Kentucky model of team. Just the way it is.
12) Underrated bad job: driving a tractor trailer making deliveries in an inner city, say a beer truck or Coca-Cola or Dunkin Donuts. Not much room to navigate and when you do park the truck, it often screws up traffic while you’re making the delivery. Not something I’d like to do.
11) Two Dodger-Arizona games in Australia on March 22-23 will not have instant replay available. Why I’m not sure; they don’t have cellphones in Australia? Doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to orchestrate, but they’re not doing it.
10) Adrian Peterson wants the Vikings to sign Michael Vick as their starting QB; wonder what the reaction will be if that doesn’t happen. Now we know why Matt Cassel opted out of his Viking deal.
9) Syracuse used two subs in its loss to Georgia Tech Tuesday; they played total of 37:00, had 4 points, 5 rebounds, no assists, 8 fouls, not a strong contribution. If Grant’s back doesn’t get well soon, he’s going to have a long spring/summer to get ready for next season, because Orange aren’t beating anyone good without him.
8) Golden State Warriors are in top 6 in NBA in terms of pace of play and in top 10 in defense; they’re the only team that can say that.
7) For what its worth, the SATs are going back to the 1,600 scoring scale, so this is where I explain to you what a farce the SATs are.
Back in the day, the mid-70’s to be exact, I scored a 1,320 on my SAT and I took them with strep throat- the miserable human who proctored my exam wouldn’t let me take cough drops out of my pocket, once the test started.
Whatever, I got lucky on a test, it paid for my college education and made people think I was some stellar student. Uh huh.
6) In reality, I graduated U of Albany with a 2.28 GPA marked mostly by spending ridiculous amounts of time watching game shows on TV (this was just before ESPN came to be), eating tuna subs, playing pickup basketball.
The SAT is not an indicator of who will be a good student, and I’m living proof of it, but I’m glad it existed—saved me a lot of money.
5) Someone refresh my memory why Donnie Walsh left the Knicks; why would they let a guy like him leave? You think they could get better if they had a real sharp GM, but they had one and he bolted, so it doesn’t look good for their future now, does it?
4) Good move by college football gurus, allowing the 15-yard targeting penalty to be overturned after the replay review. Last year’s rule was so inflexible, it just didn't make a lot of sense.
3) Why is the MAAC tournament in Springfield? There are 11 teams in this mid-major league; none of them in Massachusetts; sometimes educated people can make some really unusual decisions.
My take: MAAC tournament only makes money when it is held in Albany, but schools were annoyed that Siena had the advantage having the tourney at home all the time, so they move it around.
2) Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has to be happy every time a TV guru bashes the Shockers’ schedule; you just know he’s pushing the “us against them” mentality and the “no respect” card. Truth is, Wichita was in the Final Four last year and they’re going to be there again this year.
1) We’ve said this before, but all of these college teams are extremely fragile in terms of depth/chemistry; look at how Syracuse/Wisconsin/Ohio State have had extended downturns.
One injury, one key guy in a slump and things go sour. Lot of good players in the country, but 341 D-I teams give scholarships, so not many teams have real quality depth—who wants to sit on the bench?
Teams are fragile; remember that as we go thru March.
Thursday's List of 13: Teams to watch later this month.....
13) Arizona—Rebounding suffers from losing Ashley for the year, but they have moved on from that and are still good enough to win it all; would the committee give us an Arizona-Dayton second round game, Sean Miller vs brother Archie?
12) Duke—Interior defense isn’t good enough. Vermont was 31-41 inside arc against them in December; they’ve gotten better since then, but not that much better. Curious to see how they are after this 8-day break they just had.
11) Florida—Best team right now; actually have some depth, which was created while players sat out earlier in year. Donovan is an underrated great coach. They’re going to be very tough to beat.
10) Kentucky—Very hard to have an entirely new team every year, made up of young, talented kids who have one foot in the NBA already, whether they’re good enough or not. Would be surprising to see them in Sweet 16.
9) Michigan State—I keep saying wait til they get healthy, wait til they get healthy. Now they’re healthy, but they haven’t started playing better. Spartans rarely do that well in Big Dozen tournament, but they might need run there to get some momentum for the NCAA tournament.
8) North Carolina—Won 12 games in a row thanks to improved guard play and a watered-down ACC; their game at Duke Saturday will be the last great test for Dick Vitale’s vocal cords this season.
7) St Joe’s—10 years ago they got to the A-10 tournament unbeaten; this team might be their best group since then. Hawks only play six guys, but with longer TV timeouts in NCAAs, it shouldn’t be a problem. They’ve got six very good players.
6) Syracuse—Sinking faster than a skydiver without a parachute; losing at home to Georgia Tech/Boston College is awful. If Grant’s back injury doesn’t get better soon, they’ll be out in the second round of NCAAs.
5) UCLA—Not sure what to make of them; they suspended their two best players for the Oregon game, then struggled to beat Oregon State when they come back. Curious to see their games against the Washington schools this weekend. Think they could make the Final Four, but also know that Alford isn’t as good a tournament coach as Ben Howland was.
4) Villanova—Got waxed twice by Creighton, which was 30-50 from the arc against them, but have been really good the rest of the time. Need to watch them more the next two weeks. I think they’re Final Four capable, though.
3) Virginia—Smart, pass ball well, have veteran guys who can shoot it and they’ve lost once in the ACC. If their jerseys said Duke instead of Virginia, they’d be a hot pick to win the whole thing.
2) Wichita State—Made Final Four last year, are unbeaten this year, albeit in a Creighton-less MVC. This is a very good team; they wouldn’t lose to Georgia Tech or Boston College, either at home or on the road.
1) Wisconsin—Funny how they looked lost during a 1-5 midseason skid, now they might get a #1 seed. That’s how fragile teams are nowadays.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.....
13) My first impression of baseball’s replay system was a positive one Monday; umpires don’t leave the field, one is on a headset to an umpire in New York, another to the official scorer in the press box, and the whole review I saw took less than three minutes. Replay was inconclusive, so the original call stood.
12) From what I can tell, managers’ use of their challenge might be the biggest deal; managers get one challenge in innings 1-6- if they use it and are wrong, they’re done with replay for the game, unless the ump invokes his own replay review, which doesn’t seem likely. Umpires control all replay reviews from the 7th inning on.
11) Tuesday was National Pancake Day; a local radio station actually did its morning show from IHoP, which was giving away free pancakes.
10) Kansas big man Joel Embiid will sit out Jayhawks’ last two regular season games to try and get healthy for the postseason.
9) Detroit 2B Ian Kinsler called Texas GM Jon Daniels “ a sleazebag” Monday; the ex-Ranger vented about his former team, which isn’t always a good idea, other than it probably made him feel better.
8) Watched the Twins the other night; they were saying how Minnesota hitting coach Tom Brunansky got annoyed because Twin hitters were going into the clubhouse to watch their at-bats but far too often came back to the dugout complaining about the umpires instead of studying the pitchers’ approach to getting them out. So now he doesn’t want them watching video during the game, which seems like a waste of good technology.
7) Houston Astros’ prospect George Springer walked four times Monday; not often you see that in a spring training game, not often you see a rookie walk four times in any game.
6) Orioles signed Johan Santana to a minor league deal; O’s got ripped for a quiet winter, but they’ve been pretty busy since the Super Bowl. If Santana is healthy he’ll help the Orioles.
5) If I’m running the Knicks, I include Tyson Chandler in my rebuilding plans; he’s a team guy, works hard, doesn’t care if he shoots a lot. He’s had a lousy year, missing 24 games with an illness, but overall, I think he’s worth keeping as they go forward.
4) Navy, Loyola, Md were the first two teams eliminated from conference tournaments, as the Patriot League’s event started first.
3) Why would Toronto mayor Rob Ford go on Jimmy Kimmel’s show? Doesn’t he know he’s going to get ridiculed? This is where he needed a friend, a good friend to step in and say, “No more.”
Just grab him by the shirt and make him cancel his appearance. Now Ford feels like a fool for being set up, but in reality, he should’ve known better.
2) Providence 81, Marquette 80 2ot-- Kid on Marquette drained a 70-footer just after the horn went off in regulation, after both teams fouled three-point shooters in last 0:30. Wild game; Friars scored last four points to win after they once led by 11 in second half. Three Friars played 48+ minutes. .
1) I'm in a 16-team mixed keeper fantasy baseball league; its our 10th year with the league. Was looking thru a top 50 prospects list-- 42 of the top 50 minor league prospects are already on teams in our league. Some pitcher in the Southern League tosses a shutout, he gets picked up. Good league.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Big week ahead for Wichita State- they’ll try to win MVC tournament and become first squad since UNLV’s ’91 team to enter the NCAA tourney undefeated.
One note: over last 11 years, Wichita has never won the Valley tournament, going 11-11 in Arch Madness. They got eliminated the last two years by 1-3 points, but with Creighton in the Big East now, Shockers are obviously a very heavy favorite to win this year.
12) Kenpom.com has its five-man all-league team for each conference; their MVC team is Seth Tuttle of Northern Iowa and four guys from Wichita. Now that’s dominating a conference.
11) Reading some NFL Draft stuff; wildly differing opinions on the QBs in this draft. Read where one team had LSU’s Zach Mettenberger as the #1 QB, before he wrecked his knee against Arkansas.
10) Sunday would’ve been Dr Seuss’ 110th birthday, that’s a long time. He put a lot of wisdom in his books, often camouflaged by rhyme.
9) Tampa Bay Bucs’ new uniforms look like one of the teams in Any Given Sunday; haven’t seen the back of the jerseys yet, but it looks as if the numbers might be hard to read for TV announcers. Helmets have a much bigger Bucs logo than usual.
8) FOX’s Saturday afternoon baseball team has Harold Reynolds replacing Tim McCarver, a fairly big upgrade. Joe Buck remains play-by-play guy.
7) Glad the Sacramento Kings finally let Jimmer Fredette go; not sure why they even drafted him, considering they rarely used him. Its not like his game was a big secret; flashy with the ball, not very good without it, especially on defense.
By the way, have you ever heard of Vivek Ranadive? Me either until the other day; he is the new owner of the Kings.
6) Tennessee-Martin and Florida Atlantic fired their basketball coaches this week; Martin is a really hard job- they barely got to .500 in the OVC when they had Lester Hudson and he made it to the NBA.
FAU was victimized by football’s move to C-USA; that’s too big a jump for their hoop program, which wasn’t even good at the Sun Belt level. FAU is in Miami though, so you’d think a sharp guy could at least be competitive.
5) You know the Angels had their B-team going against Arizona Monday when Hank Conger bats third.
4) Ex-Angel Chone Figgins started at his fourth different position for the Dodgers Monday, as he looks to be LA’s super sub. Cuban 2B Alexander Guerrero has been a disappointment so far, a $28M disappointment.
3) Read over the weekend that if the Dodgers put Guerrero on waivers right now, no team would claim him. You had to figure, at some point signing these Cuban players pretty much sight unseen would come back to bite someone. Looks like it was the Dodgers, though they’ve made out really well with Yasiel Puig and $28M is a lot less to them than it is to just about any other team, except one or two.
2) Why teams lose, part 1: 2009 NBA Draft-- Minnesota had #5-6 picks in the first round, took Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, who play the same position. #7 pick in that draft? Steph Curry. Oy.
1) Why teams lose, part 2: 2009 NBA Draft-- Knicks had the #8 pick- they took Jordan Hill from Arizona. Next two picks were DeMar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings- they're paying for that mistake now.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) They had an outdoor NHL game at Soldier Field Saturday night and it snowed, which is good; they tried to have one in Vancouver Sunday but it rained, which is bad. Vancouver has a retractable dome, so they closed it and played the outdoor game indoors, in front of 50,000 fans who paid to watch a game played outdoors, in the elememts. Oh well......
12) Eldrick Woods withdrew from the Honda Classic after the 13th hole Sunday, citing back pain as a reason. It is the 7th time Woods has withdrawn from a tournament, the fourth time in last five years.
11) Interesting baseball stat: Giants' 3B Pablo Sandoval swung at 45.5% of the pitches he saw last year that were out of the strike zone. Amazing that he swung at almost half the bad pitches he saw.
10) Giancarlo Stanton saw a strike on only 38.2% of pitches he saw LY, due to Miami being so terrible they don't have any other solid hitters in their lineup- he swung at 30.5% of those bad pitches, down from 37.1% he swung at the year before. Good thing walks count in my fantasy league.
Those stats are from Fangraphs.com, by the way.
9) Ohio State started this season 15-0, averaging 75.7 ppg; since then, they are 7-8, averaging 64.4 ppg. They look like a tired team.
8) Steve Alford is in his 23rd year as a coach already? Yikes.
7) Tulane's 16-14/8-7 mark doesn't look like much, but Ed Conroy had done a good job with the Green Wave, who were decimated by transfers after the school failed to get into the Big East.
Conroy also won at Citadel, going 36-29 his last two years there, which is almost impossible to do; the next SEC job that opens could be his.
6) Joakim Noah leads the Bulls in assists; he could be the first center to lead his team in assists since David Robinson 20 years ago.
5) Bruins beat the Rangers 6-3 in New York last night; interesting that the two head coaches, Claude Julien and Alain Vigneault, were once teammates in the early 80's with the minor league Salt Lake Golden Eagles. Good coaches come from all different kinds of backgrounds, not just ex-star players.
4) Oregon State basketball coach Craig Robinson is 38-68 in conference tilts in his six years with the Beavers; his predecessor, Jay John, got shown the door after going 28-80 in league games over six years.
Robinson is 7-9 in Pac-12 this year but has a veteran team that should be better; fact of the matter is, he is the President's brother-in-law and won't be fired, but you could make the case that he deserves to be.
3) Jake Peavy got scratched from his Monday start after he cut a finger on his left hand in an accident with a fishing knife. Andrew Cashner did the same thing couple years ago, only the injury turned out to be worse. Luckily for Peavy, he hurt his non-pitching hand.
2) NBA has to stop showing the Knicks on national TV; they're not a good adveertisement for their product.
\1) March Madness starts tonight, with two games in the Patriot League tournament. That makes two full weeks of conference tournament games.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Of the 18 #1 seeds who have won the NCAA tournament, 14 of them covered their second round game. Just an indicator to look out for as we get closer to March Madness. Here's a breakdown........
1st round: Eventual champ 11-6-1 vs spread; 2nd round: 14-4.
12) Over the last 27 years, the team that won the national title went 21-6 vs spread in second round, only 16-10-1 in first round, although seven of last eight national champs also covered their first round games.
11) Game of the Day: SE Missouri State 118, Murray State 115, two OTs: Racers made 14-30 from arc and lost. Doesn't happen a lot.
10) Tough luck team of the week: Cal State-Northridge
Thursday: Matadors lost 82-81 at Fullerton.
Saturday: Matadors lost 106-105 in double OT at Riverside, missing the winning FT at end of regulation, tying FT at end of second OT.
Five of last ten Northridge games went to overtime (3-2).
9) Virginia 75, Syracuse 56--- Cavaliers clinched first regular season ACC title in 33 years, as Syracuse lost for third time in last four games. According to ESPN's expert Joe Lunardi, Syracuse is a #2 seed right now.
8) South Carolina 72, Kentucky 67-- John Calipari went thru his whole motivational bag of tricks, including getting thrown out with 10:25 left and Kentucky down 12- they got within a hoop, but Frank Martin got the best win of his 2-year tenure in Columbia.
Side note: Sindarius Thornwell is just a tremendous name.
7) If the AAC tournament started today, UConn-Memphis would be one hell of a first round game- they're tied for 4th right now. .
6) ESPN analyst Dan Dakich was working the Illinois-Michigan State tilt Saturday, but went after referee Ted Valentine on the air, in light of a run-in between Valentine and Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin earlier in the day.
Dakich is one of Bob Knight's henchmen; he played/coached at Indiana, so he has become an on-air critic of refs, especially refs who once threw Knight out of a game. Somehow Dakich works Big Dozen games on ESPN when his kid sits on the bench at Michigan; isn't that a conflict of interest?
5) Xavier 75, Creighton 69-- Musketeers get 20th win, a big win.
4) Oklahoma State 72, Kansas 65-- Cowboys are 3-0 since Marcus Smart got back on the court; this win punched their ticket to the NCAAs. Bench played total of only 24:00; this was Travis Ford's Super Bowl, and he won.
3) Kansas has won/shared its conference title ten years in a row and in three of those years, Bill Self had zero starters returning. Great coaching.
2) Upsets of the Day:
Northern Arizona (+12) wins 73-71 in OT at Weber State.
NC-Greensboro (+11.5) wins 73-71 at Wofford.
Illinois (+11) wins 53-46 at Michigan State.
1) Bad Beat of the Day: Western Michigan (+5.5) at Toledo-- Up 12 with 3:05 left, Broncos give up 14 straight points to Toledo, only to tie game and force OT with 0:34 left. They lost by 11 in overtime. Oy.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Don’t be surprised if footage of the post-game scuffle between New Mexico State and Utah Valley State Thursday results in schools cracking down on allowing court storming after the home team wins; you watch those clips and its easy to visualize something really bad happening.
Unrelated note from same game: If you see the clip again, check out the neon green sports coat one of the Utah Valley coaches was wearing; he is on the right side of the screen. Its an amazing piece of clothing; guy looks like a walking hi-liter.
12) Those teams are in the WAC, which has been decimated by conference realignment; their conference tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas just got a whole lot more interesting.
11) Last year was the first NCAA tournament in ten years with no ACC team getting a #1 seed. They’ll get one this year, but only because Syracuse is in the ACC now.
10) ESPN better keep Rece Davis on its team of announcers; no matter what he does, he is very good at it. He does the best job of making Bob Knight sounds like a competent game analyst, talking totally about game situations and drawing on Knight’s vast knowledge of basketball.
Since Knight seemingly has zero personality, it’s the only thing the play-by-play can do to get the best out of his partner.
9) Wizards beat Toronto 134-129 in triple OT Thursday; Wizards are vastly improved and a fun team to watch. They’re coached by Randy Wittman, one of Knight’s former players at Indiana.
8) Sounds more and more like the NFL will add two more wild card teams in 2015, making it seven playoff teams in each conference, with only the #1 seed getting a first round bye.
Two extra playoff games equals more TV money, ya know?
7) Conference USA has a 4-way tie for first place, with UTEP a game behind in 5th, which is important, since the top four teams get a first round bye. That will be one of the better conference tournaments.
6) Louisiana Tech star Raheem Appleby was scoreless in five minutes of play Thursday vs Middle Tennessee, as he returned from an ankle injury. If Appleby is healthy and can give Tech anything near what he did before his injury, Tech will be a tough team to beat in El Paso.
5) Remember when we talked last year about that $60M high school football stadium in Texas that seats 18,000 fans? Well, seems like the concrete in the stadium is cracking already, and the stadium has been closed until further notice. Somebody’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.
4) When you fill out your brackets in three weeks, remember that despite all the talk about upsets this and upsets that, a #1 seed has won the national title six of the last seven years, with UConn being the exception three years ago- they were a 3-seed.
3) Not sure why, but the NBA requested that Lebron James not wear that black mask anymore to protect his broken nose. He will switch to a clear mask for Miami's next game. Does anyone know why?
2) Bryce Alford scored 31 points for shorthanded UCLA Thursday, as they lost in double OT at home to Oregon; he looked a lot like his dad when he was playing.
Had Steve Alford not gotten the UCLA job, father/both sons would still be at New Mexico, and New Mexico’s Cullen Neal would be playing for St Mary’s, instead of for his dad with the Lobos.
So UCLA screwed St Mary’s over by hiring Alford, because the Gaels are lacking a perimeter shooter this year. Neal might’ve made them an NCAA tourney team.
1) I’m curious what those two UCLA kids did to get suspended for a game; from look of their body language and how they interacted with coaches during the Oregon game, it didn’t seem like it was anything too serious.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.......
13) It is estimated that hosting a Super Bowl is worth $500M to the area that hosts it, in terms of overall financial impact; not sure if that figure is 100% true, but politicians believe it is true, so as soon as the NFL made noise about pulling next season’s Super Bowl out of Arizona, governor Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial bill that revolved around religious freedom and businesses being able to turn down customers based on religious beliefs.
As usual in our world, many voices are heard, but money talks loudest.
12) If the NBA playoffs started today, a Toronto-Charlotte 3-6 matchup in East would be interested. Two teams you don’t think of being contenders meeting in the playoffs. Bobcats are Michael Jordan’s team, so that would add to the interest too.
11) In college football last year, the team that averaged the most average yards per play won the game 82.4% of the time. Team with most plays of 20+ yard plays won 70.6% of the time, team that ran the most plays won only 56.9% of games.
10) Dodger-Arizona spring training opener Wednesday drew 10,306 fans in the Arizona desert. Teams must make significant money on exhibition games, especially the more popular teams like the Dodgers or Cubs.
9) Philly Eagles have an advantage the next couple of years like the one Seattle Seahawks have had; QB Nick Foles will make only $770,880 this coming year, $815,880 in 2015, which gives them greater cap flexibility, at least until they have to pay Foles down the road.
8) 11 of the last 12 Idaho State basketball games have been decided by 6 or less points; Bengals must be fun to watch up there in Pocatello. Not easy to handicap their games, since they all seem to come down to the wire.
7) Surprising that the Michigan Wolverines have six basketball players from the state of Indiana.
You’d think they’d have a lot of players from, well……Michigan.
6) Travelers Insurance signed up to sponsor the Greater Hartford Open for another ten years, thru 2024. Good tournament to go to down there in Cromwell; if you go, I recommend sitting by the green at the driveable par-4 15th green, with the 18th tee right behind you. Can see a lot there.
5) A movie called Sharknado 2 filmed some scenes at CitiField in Queens this week; glad the Mets are putting their ballpark to good use. Never heard of the original Sharknado movie. Thinking it didn’t win any Academy Awards.
4) Despite not having star Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls are 31-26 and in 4th place in the weaker Eastern Conference. Tom Thibodeau is an excellent coach and Joakim Noah is kind of like a less talented Tim Duncan, a star who cares only about winning.
3) During his 14-year NBA playing career, Allen Iverson earned a total of $154,494,445 just in salary, yet he is said to be broke.
How does this happen? Where did it all go?
He’s far from the only celebrity this happens to, and it is sad. He should be set for life, not have less money than I do.
2) Mark your calendars, August 3 in Canton, OH. Bills-Giants, the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game. Should be a hot ticket; Canton is a fairly easy drive from Buffalo.
1) With former used car salesman Alan R Selig retiring soon as baseball commissioner, this question arises: would George W Bush make a good commissioner? He used to own the Texas Rangers, he knows the sport. Can think of a lot worse choices than him.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing soime thinking out loud.....
13) Its good to see boxscores again. Seriously. Even large boxscores with a lot of minor leaguers in them. Even boxscores of games that don’t mean anything. Spring training games have started, which is always a good thing.
12) Danny Granger is a free agent; Spurs/Clippers are said to be leading the race to land the talented wing, especially after Jamal Crawford got hurt in Wednesday night's game against Houston.
11) One thing the Angels are going to have to deal with as far as Mike Trout is this: they’ll need to have enough money left over to build a good team around him, or he won’t want to be there.
That means a solid pitching staff, which has been a Halo weakness. Pitching costs a fortune, when you don't develop your own young talent, which the Angels have not done.
Trout could be the next generation’s A-Rod; a tremendous player with such a big contract it precludes his team from becoming really good.
10) How does Lane Kiffin keep getting prime jobs? Head coach at USC, Tennessee, the Raiders; now he is offensive coordinator at Alabama. Why?
9) I know its only the first exhibition game, but Josh Reddick made two tremendous, home run-robbing catches in the A's game with the Giants Wednesday. Check out SportsCenter; tremendous plays.
8) Back in December, Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson had a meltdown during a postgame press conference and publicly shredded his team, which went viral and made all the national TV shows.
Seemed like it was a matter of time before the Salukis would implode and ol’ Barry would get fired, a la Pat Knight at Lamar. But Hinson is a solid coach and SIU has rallied; after a 2-6 start, they’ve steadied somewhat and are 8-8 in the Valley, 12-17 overall, not a great year but not an implosion either.
Hinson will bring in some better players and survive his meltdown. He still has a long way to go before he challenges Wichita atop the Valley though.
7) Dawned on me this week that I need the White Sox to become a strong offensive team, seeing as how I have Jose Abreu and Avasail Garcia on my fantasy team. Also dawned on me that I’m going to spend a lot of time this summer listening to Hawk Harrelson, which can be an experience. At least Hawk and I will be rooting for the same team.
6) Last weekend passed without a mention of the old Bracket Buster event ESPN used to hold on that weekend for several years. It was a good way for mid-majors to get TV exposure, but I guess it outlived its usefulness so they don’t do it anymore.
5) Ron Jaworski said he wouldn't draft Johnny Manziel in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. Manziel is the most polarizing football prospect in a very long time. Lot of smart people have varying opinions on him.
4) Magic 101, 76ers 90-- Philly lost at home to Bucks/Magic this week. This was Orlando's first road win in 17 tries (1-15-1 vs spread).
3) Raymond Felton will play for the Knicks in Miami tonight; apparently the Knicks cannot suspend him for his weapon violations. Seems like it is a marital issue more than a weapons issue. Why do people carry guns?
2) Disk jockey on the local FM radio station this week told a story of how his 14-year son is anorexic and near death in a California hospital; the guy and his wife got divorced, the wife took the two kids out west and now the kid is down to 5-foot-9, 95 pounds.
Not sure why he told the story on the air, but it was sad and broke down crying at the end. We wish the young man well in his recovery.
1) Wichita State is unbeaten but I don’t think a loss would help them, seeing as they’ll be playing inferior teams from now until the NCAAs, with the possible exception of Indiana State in the MVC tournament.
Syracuse was struggling vs ACC-level teams; once they can get some practice time in, they’ll be better off with some of the bandwagon emptied and having the pressure off them.
Losing to Duke isn’t a bad thing; losing to Drake would be.
Wednesday's List of 13: 13 dead people I'd like to meet
13) John Candy—One of the funniest guys ever, he was actually part owner of the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in the late 80’s with Wayne Gretzky and the guy who owned the LA Kings. For one year, Big John was head of the CFL’s expansion committee. Seriously.
12) Charles Oscar Finley—Along with Bill Veeck, should be in Baseball Hall of Fame for all his innovations, such as night World Series games, the DH and more colorful uniforms. Think about how much money MLB owners have banked from apparel sales over the last 40 years; those are Charlie O’s innovations, man. Plus, he was an excellent GM who built one of baseball’s great dynasties in Oakland in the early 70’s.
11) Richard Nixon—After he lost the 1960 Presidential election, Nixon was approached about being Commissioner of Baseball.
Imagine how different history would be had he said yes?!?!?!?
10) Jack Warden—There was a time in the late 80’s when I was convinced Jack Warden had a role in every movie made. All of them.
The Verdict is one of my favorite movies, as well as the original Brian’s Song, when he played George Halas.
9) George Allen—One of my boyhood idols when he coached the Rams, one of Allen’s sons is now GM of the Redskins and another son was governor of Virginia. His last coaching job was trying to resurrect the football program at Long Beach State- they had a winning record in his last year.
8) Wilt Chamberlain—If the reports of his off-court prowess are true, Wilt had some of the greatest time management skills of all-time. Think about it. Plus, he scored 100 points in an NBA game. 100!!!! He went to Kansas on a track scholarship, so you know he was a great athlete.
7) Pat Summerall—Think of all the great events he called on TV, in the NFL, golf and tennis; plus he was a kicker for the Giants in the late 50’s. One of the great voices of all-time.
6) Jerry Coleman—He flew airplanes in combat missions in two different wars, played second base in the big leagues, then became an icon as an announcer in San Diego. Seemed like a genuinely nice person.
5) Harold Ramis—He passed away this week at age 69; wrote/directed/acted in some of the greatest modern comedies. Its hard to be funny when people expect you to be funny. Ramis was very funny.
4) Ed McMahon-- Most famous sidekick of all-time. Large man with a small ego, he was all over TV for years. The stories he must have had.....
3) Jack Klugman-- TV's Oscar Madison/Quincy owned race horses in real life; saw him at Saratoga Harness track one night-- they had a huge crowd, mostly there to see him present a trophy.
2) Paul Newman—He was Butch Cassidy, he was the hockey coach in Slap Shot, the down-and-out lawyer in The Verdict, and he even played Kevin Costner’s father in Message in a Bottle late in his career. He drove race cars and even had a salad dressing named after him.
Would’ve been great fun to pick his brain for a while.
1) Catfish Hunter—My favorite baseball player growing up; they spelled his name wrong on his rookie baseball card in 1965, so he became my favorite player, when I was a 5-year old.
What are the odds he would become a Hall of Famer?
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Was happy to see Dale Earnhardt Jr so excited Sunday night after he won the Daytona 500, his was pure joy. Lot of celebrities, they become too cool to show when they’re really, really happy, this was fun to watch.
12) There is too much speculation about who is in/out of the NCAA tournament, as if it were an ongoing selection process. ESPN reports Joe Lunardi’s stuff like it is fact; while he is usually very good with his analysis, it isn’t fact. “Oh, if Tennessee wins at Texas A&M, they’ll move into the field.” That type of “reporting” is just wrong. The committee will come up with the 68 teams in three weeks; those will be the facts.
11) Jadeveon Clowney ran a strong 40-yard dash at the Combine, somewhere between 4.47 and 4.53, depending on who you believe. Clowney didn’t have a strong senior year at South Carolina, but the success Vontaze Burfict had with the Bengals after a sub-par senior season at Arizona State will only help Clowney’s status. NFL Draft is May 8 and its going to be interesting.
10) Why wouldn’t a quarterback prospect throw at the Combine? What do they have to lose? Seems like agents are stifling the kids from showing their skills. If I was a prospect like Johnny Manziel, I’d want the whole league to see what I can do, let them know that I’m anxious to show off my skills. Guess that’s one of many reasons why I’m not an agent.
9) Lookalikes: golfer Victor Dubuisson and Brad Pitt, especially when they are wearing sun visors.
8) Included in Jim Boeheim’s post-game whining Saturday night was a complaint that the Orange had to play at Maryland last night after playing at Duke Saturday, while the Terrapins had Saturday off. Seems like a fair complaint, but the ACC ain’t trying do to Maryland any favors, seeing as they’re bolting the ACC for the Big Dozen. Sometimes things just happen.
7) On flip side of Boeheim’s meltdown was UNLV’s Dave Rice reacting like an adult to the Rebels getting hosed by a replay review at Boise State, which cost UNLV a game it had apparently already won.
My only question is this; if Rice was more of a bastard, prone to outbursts, would he have been more likely to get that call? Does yelling/working refs get you an extra call or two a game?
Would Bob Huggins or John Calipari have gotten that call? I’m just asking, and by the way, the basket UNLV scored should’ve counted, seeing as it was called good on the floor and no replay clearly showed it wasn’t good.
6) Its funny that Gene Simmons owns part of an Arena Football team, the LA Kiss; Simmons is highly skilled at making money, but he isn’t a sports fan, something he made clear on his reality TV show. Speaks well of the AFL that he invested in it though. His QB is likely to be Colt Brennan, who played college ball at Hawai’i.
5) In case you’re wondering, in an average NBA game, each team has the ball 96 or 97 times a game.
4) Syracuse 57, Maryland 55-- Terps outscored Orange 19-3 on foul line, but turned ball over 18 times (-7), wasting too many possessions to pull a big upset. Syracuse is very shaky right now; they play Virginia next.
3) Texas Rangers extended Ron Washington's contract thru the 2015 season, so he will not enter this year as a lame duck manager.
2) Sounds like the 49ers have a problem, in that Jim Harbaugh doesn’t get along well with the team’s other decision makers, to the point where he or some of the others may have to go.
Pat Riley wrote a book about how teams are constructed then either thrive or fall apart; this part he called “The Disease of Me” where people think they are the reason the team is winning, rather than the collective effort being the reason. Curious to see how this plays out, but how do the 49ers let Harbaugh walk?
1) RIP Harold Ramis. One of the great comedic minds of our time, Ramis was Bill Murray’s sidekick in Stripes, was a regular on Second City TV and was behind scenes in movies like Animal House, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, just a brilliant, funny mind. 69 is too young to go. Rest in peace, sir.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend....
13) Heading into Sunday, your busiest college basketball refs this season were: Roger Ayers (80 games), Karl Hess (79) , Jamie Luckie (78). Hess did one of the games I watched Sunday, so he's worked 80 games now too.
12) The third-place match in the World Golf Match Play tournament did not seem like much of an event, but there was a $120,000 difference between winning and losing that match. Not bad for playing 18 holes.
11) First Match Play tournament was in 1999, when Jeff Maggert needed two extra holes to beat Andrew Magee; back then, the final was 36 holes, so they played 38 holes that day. Until yesterday, that was the only final that had gone to extra holes.
10) 30-year old Brett Gardner, who has played three full seasons in the big leagues, got a $52M, four-year extension from Bronx. His on-base %age in his three full seasons of play: .383/.345/.344. Seems like a lot of money.
9) Jamal Crawford has played for 17 head coaches in his 14-year career in the NBA- he's played for six different teams. Crawford only played 17 games in his his college career, for Michigan in 1999-2000.
8) Dodger pitcher Jamey Wright is at his 21st spring training for his 10th big league team; last year was the only one of the 21 spring trainings that was in Florida. Wright has earned a little over $14M as a big leaguer since '96.
7) When Lebron James sat out Sunday with a broken nose, Greg Oden got his first start since December 5, 2009- it was his 61st NBA start. He was only at Ohio State for a year (32 games) so he hasn't played much ball.
6) Last time the driver who led the Daytona 500 at the halfway mark won the race was 1992, when Davey Allison was the winner.
5) Memphis Grizzlies are 31-24, but are ninth in west right now and out of the playoff picture; only four teams in the east are over .500.
4) Independence Bowl in Shreveport used to be called the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl; now its going to be the Duck Commander Bowl, sponsored by the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame. Robertsons have made a lot of money selling kazoo-type objects that attract ducks for hunters.
3) While Carmelo Anthony's Knicks are floundering at 21-35, the team that Jeremy Lin plays for (Houston) is 38-18. Coincidence? I don't think so.
2) Wednesday afternoon/night, MLB Network has three major league spring training games on: Jays-Phils, Reds-Indians, Dodgers-Arizona, as winter finally seems to be getting pushed out the door.
1) Since 1967, most NFL first round draft picks, by school:
USC 66, Miami 56, Ohio State 54, Florida 43.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday....
13) Duke 66, Syracuse 60-- Coaches preach poise to their players; well, coaches need to have poise too. When a bad call goes against you in a 60-58 game with 0:10 left, you don't have a childish meltdown and get thrown out of a game your kids still had a chance to win.
Syracuse played one true road game before New Year's and that was in New York City, where they have a ton of fans. Maybe if Orange played a road game now and then in pre-conference, they'd have more poise now.
12) Boise State 91, UNLV 90 ot-- Refs used replay to change a call, negating a Rebel basket at the buzzer. I watched the replay five times and could not tell which call was right. In that case, the call on the floor (good basket) is supposed to stand. It helps to be at home, I guess.
When UNLV coach Dave Rice was informed his team lost (got hosed), he did not act like a 4-year old who didn't get his ice cream. Classy guy.
11) Oklahoma State 84, Texas Tech 62-- Marcus Smart had 16 points, 10 rebounds as he returned from suspension and helped Cowboys end their skid at seven games. Bracketologists still have them in the field of 68.
10) Louisville 58, Cincinnati 57-- Russ Smith hit a jumper with 0:02.2 left to win this tense struggle, avenging an earlier home loss to the Bearcats. This was a lot like a tournament game.
9) Kentucky 77, LSU 76 ot-- Terrific game; LSU lost in part because their best player Johnny O'Bryant got really tired at the end-- he was 8-25 from the floor. Tigers are banged up, don't have much depth. Kentucky was 1-9 on the arc, still won, avenging an earlier loss in Baton Rouge.
8) Georgia State 80, UL-Lafayette 77-- Ragin' Cajuns had won six games in a row; they led by nine in second half, but 20-7 Georgia State had a 21-0 run to pull out their 20th win of the year. Sun Belt tourney is going to be good.
7) Wisconsin 79, Iowa 74-- Badgers started season 16-0, then lost five of six games, now has won five in a row. Even the good teams are fragile.
6) Florida 75, Ole Miss 71-- Marshall Henderson had 22 points in first half, zero in second half. Florida is now 14-0 in the SEC.
5) Ohio State 64, Minnesota 46-- Gophers were up 28-18 at half, then the second half happened. ESPN's Joe Lunardi had Minnesota as an 11-seed in NCAAs before this game- they're 4-8 in their last dozen games- their next two games are Iowa/Michigan. Good luck.
4) Miami 69, Boston College 42-- Eagles followed up win at Syracuse by getting bludgeoned by the 14-13 Hurricanes, who had lost six of previous eight games coming in. BC has to hire Bruce Pearl this spring.
3) New Mexico 58, San Diego State 44-- Lobos had huge week, winning big at UNLV, then dismissing Aztecs here. Teams meet again at Viejas March 8, and will probably play the next week in Vegas at the conference tourney.
2) Biggest upset of the day: Rhode Island 87 (+11) , St Bonaventure 78-- Rams snapped a 6-game losing streak with road win here.
1) Bad beat of the day: Syracuse (+6). Game ended in a push, but a lousy call nullified the tying hoop for Orange, then Boeheim went postal, got two technicals and Syracuse backers went fortunate to get the push.
I mean, you had a dog getting six points down 2 with the ball with 0:12 left, the game didn't go OT and you didn't win. Doesn't happen much.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here....
13) Weird to see the Lakers giving up; they saved $4M by trading Steve Blake to Golden State, but I’m just not used to seeing them acting like a beached whale.
12) Memo to ESPN; Celtics/Lakers were a combined 34-72 before Friday night’s pillow fight at Staples Center. Why is this game on national TV? Show Portland, show the Suns, anyone but these horrible teams with famous uniforms.
11) Is it me, or are the greens at the Match Play tournament easier than the greens at a normal PGA event? Seems like more long putts are getting made this week and very few short ones missed.
10) Seahawks don’t have to worry about Russell Wilson bolting to baseball; he hit .229 in two years in A ball. .229 in A ball does not give him any contract leverage whatsoever.
9) San Francisco snapped an 0-17 skid against St Mary’s Thursday, so good for them. Dons are now ahead of St Mary’s in the WCC standings, in third place.
8) Johnny Manziel may be five inches shorter than Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, but he has bigger hands; that’s one of the things they measure at the NFL Combine.
Teams value players with bigger hands for better ball security; since 1970, only one QB under 6-feet tall has been drafted in the first round-- Michael Vick. Success of Drew Brees/Russell Wilson is helping shorter guys.
7) Wouldn’t want to be the coach of the Russian Olympic hockey team after their disappointing showing the past week. Its not like they do this every year; hes going to have some ‘splainin’ to do.
6) Seahawks dumped WR Sidney Rice, which saves them $7M of salary cap space. Curious to see where he moves on to.
5) Tom Coughlin signed a one-year extension with the Giants (thru 2015); at 67, Coughlin takes some grief for being the NFL’s oldest coach, but no one brings up that at age 62, Pete Carroll is second-oldest.
4) Talk about parity, eight of eleven hoop teams in the Big Sky are either 7-8 or 8-7; their conference tournament should be letting Weber State (11-4) and Northern Colorado (10-5) play a best-of-3 series for the automatic bid. 0-15 Southern Utah is the league’s piñata.
3) Syracuse has an average of 55.6 possessions per game, is playing slowest tempo in ACC, in conference games. That’s a little surprising.
2) Last time an NCAA tournament was held without a team from Indiana was 2005; it could happen this year.
1) Last college hoop team to get to its conference tournament undefeated was St Joe’s 10 years ago; last team to make it to the NCAAs unbeaten was UNLV in 1991. Wichita State could do it this year.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) North Carolina 74, Duke 66-- UNC outscored Duke 20-7 on foul line; teams combined to go 7-31 from arc. tough game to ref; very physical, lot of carping from players. Five of eight guys Duke used finished game with four fouls. Very curious to see how Duke comes out Saturday vs Syracuse.
12) Michigan State 94, Purdue 79-- Tom Izzo turned into Paul Westhead for a night, as Spartans went 13-19 from arc in first half snd shot their way past a Purdue club that took 20 free throws in each half.
11) Guy sitting behind Spartans' bench wearing a Michigan State pullover was Izzo pal/former NFL coach Steve Mariucci, in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine this weekend.
10) Why aren't Eldrick Woods/Phil Mickelson at the Match Play event this week? Woods was probably planning to go to the Olympics with his girlfriend the skiier, but she got hurt-- did they go anyway?
9) Speaking of the Olympics, Islanders lost John Tavares for the season with a knee injury, which is why some people are against NHL players going to the Olympics.
8) None of the four #1 seeds made it past the second round of the Match Play tournament, an event that gets less interesting as it goes on. First day is the best action, with 32 matches going on all day.
7) Bruce Bochy has managed 19 years in big leagues, won two of last four World Series; his career record is 1,530-1,530.
6) Joe Maddon has a 677-620 record with the Rays, which is becoming Hall of Fame-worthy, when you conmsider they were 518-775 before he got to the Bay Area. He's made the playoffs four of the last six seasons.
5) NFL salary cap is going up 5%, to $130M per team; league is doing great financially, which is why Roger Goodell banked $44M last fiscal year.
4) Braves signed SS Andrelton Simmons to a $57M contract; young man hit only .248 LY in his first full year in the big leaguies.
3) Bob Knight was a great coach before they put the shot clock and 3-pointer in; he's a poor color analyst on TV. If you can't sound good working with Brent Musburger, you're a lost cause. Only time Knight shows an ounce of enthusiasm is when he talks about hunting/fishing.
2) Cal-Irvine 60, Hawai'i 56 ot-- Anteaters have never been to NCAAs, but they're on top of the Big West now; three of their last four wins are by 4 or less points, or in overtime.
1) BYU 73, Gonzaga 65-- Is the WCC a one-bid league this year?
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Jim Weinstein lost his job this week. Never heard of him? I hadn’t either, but remember Super Bowl Sunday, when there was a crush of people at the train station in New Jersey, trying to get to Swamp Stadium?
Well, Mr Weinstein was the head of the New Jersey transit system and is the scapegoat for that debacle-- he is now unemployed.
12) Dallas Cowboys won a coin flip with Baltimore and will pick 16th in the NFL Draft in May, with Ravens going 17th.
11) For what its worth, under is 17-9 in Olympic hockey so far, with four games left to go- the third place game in the Olympics is for a medal, so you figure it is way more competitive than most consolation games.
10) My thoughts on the college football play clock debate is this: If you play faster, it tires players out, which slows them down, which creates less violent collisions, which reduces injuries. In my opinion, Saban/Bielema are trying to get rid of the fast-paced offenses because they don’t use it and its really hard to defend. There is no way they have evidence it increases injuries.
9) In the same winter a pitcher named Balfour got $12M for two years from Tampa Bay, a pitcher named Homer (Bailey) signs a 6-year, $105M contract with the Reds.
Is this a great country or what?
Not sure why Dusty Baker isn’t back with the Reds- they made the playoffs three of last four years. Didn’t do much once they got there, but not like this team is the Big Red Machine or anything.
8) Cleveland Cavaliers won their first six games after firing their GM; they were 16-33 before he got fired. Coincidence?
7) Las Vegas Wranglers minor league hockey team is moving downtown, into a modular arena that will seat 3,500 fans atop the Plaza Hotel- they had been playing for the last decade at the Orleans Arena.
6) Speaking of the Orleans hotel, they have a great 24-hour coffee shop. Tremendous pancakes; just thought you should know.
5) Tough news for Wyoming’s leading scorer Larry Nance Jr; he tore his ACL Monday night and is done for the year. Cowboys are an improved team this year but this is a tough blow.
4) No word on when the Iowa-Indiana game will be made up after a beam fell from the arena ceiling Tuesday, but the women’s game at Indiana can be played in that arena this week, since no one goes to women’s games anyway, so the seats where the beam fell can be blocked off and not be a hazard to anyone. If they played the men’s game with no fans, they’d be forfeiting a sellout, which is an awful lot of money.
3) Miami Dolphins finally fired offensive line coach Jim Turner; not sure what took them so long, since Turner was in the middle of the bullying debacle that haunted the Fish last season. Miami also fired the trainer who didn't cooperate with the NFL's investigation.
2) Saint Louis 89, George Mason 85 ot-- Billikens are 24-2, Patriots 9-17, but both Saint Louis wins over Mason this year came in OT. Go figure.
1) Boston College 62, Syracuse 59 ot-- If you play with fire long enough, eventually you get burned. BC is only 3-10 in ACC, but they made 11-22 on the arc and made enough plays down stretch to pull the huge upset. Orange have been letting inferior teams hang around-- it cost them here.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Back around Thanksgiving, I thought Oklahoma State was a good bet at 12-1 to win the national title. They were playing really well. Then the damn broke. First their big guy tore his Achilles, then the backup PG got arrested.
Twice. He was asked to leave, and not come back.
Then the Marcus Smart/fan incident happened and now you have a reeling Cowboy squad on a 7-game bender with Smart coming back from his 3-game suspension for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech. At this point, they might be on the bubble, and only because the bubble is weak.
12) OSU coach Travis Ford seems like a good guy; I feel bad for him. The center’s injury crippled the Cowboys’ interior defense, kid getting arrested twice is a huge distraction, then the Smart fiasco, no coach could’ve controlled that. What started out as a season of optimism has turned into a train wreck. We’ll see what happens when Smart comes back this week.
11) Someone put up a graphic Monday night comparing Doug McDermott’s college career to Larry Bird’s; fair enough, they both played in the MVC, are roughly the same size and both (to be honest) are Caucasians.
One thing: the graphic showed McDermott’s career 3-pointers, which are many, against Bird’s, which are zero. Why?
Because the 3-point rule didn’t exist when Bird was in college!!!
Its OK to hire people over 25 to do research. Seriously, it is.
10) How is Kendrys Morales still a free agent? Houston doesn’t need a first baseman/DH who can hit? They’ve lost 100+ games three years in a row, they need everything. Morales would put up big numbers in that ballpark.
9) Jameis Winston says he wants to be an NFL QB and a major league pitcher; am I the only person who thinks this can’t/won’t happen? Being an NFL QB is not a part-time job, not a franchise QB.
Your body gets beaten up during the 17-game season; going and pitching all summer, not even considering the seasons overlapping, doesn’t give the body time to recover. At some point he is going to have to make a decision between the two sports; when he does, you’ll know he’s matured some.
8) Tampa Bay Bucs are changing logos/helmets again; last time they did it was 1997. No word on if they’re changing colors too.
7) NBA commish Adam Silver says that eventually, NBA uniforms will have advertising on them. Wonder how Nike/adidas feel about that, since their logos are already on the uniforms? Teams have to make money where they can, but I’m not a fan of it. Guess that means the ads will be on the uniforms that are sold in malls, right?
6) Braves OF Jason Heyward his .322 from the leadoff spot LY, .223 everywhere else. I’m no Abner Doubleday, but I know where I’d bat him in the lineup, if I was managing in Atlanta.
5) The roof is falling in on Indiana's season; not only have the Hoosiers lost six of their last eight games, an 8-foot metal beam fell from the ceiling before the Iowa game last night, so the game was postponed because no one seems to know why the beam fell.
Luckily, no one was hurt; an 8-foot metal beam can do damage.
4) Let me see, David Letterman went to Ball State, Jimmy Fallon St Rose, Carson Daly Loyola Marymount, Jay Leno Emerson; finally, there is a job that has almost totally avoided being taken over by Ivy League-types. Only Conan O’Brien (Harvard) breaks the mold.
3) Real classy of the Bronx Bombers to rip Robinson Cano, now that he’s in Seattle. Wonder which Bronx higher-up urged hitting coach Kevin Long to open his mouth Monday; that wasn’t on his own.
2) Here is what you need to know about Cano; in last seven years, he’s played 159+ games every year, with huge production. He plays every day and he produces. What else is there?
You want him to pull a hammy sprinting to beat out a grounder that is impossible to beat out? How does that help anything?
1) Someone needs to explain to me why Butler is in the Big East; school is in Indianapolis, its the only non-Catholic school in the league. Nothing about the school suggests it should be in the Big East.
They've gone from being the Horizon's big fish to the Big East's guppies.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Ryan Dempster could've hung around, gone on the DL and collected a $13.25M paycheck this year, but he is walking away from baseball this year and will not get paid, an unusual decision from a popular guy.
Dempster has earned $89,144,999 in his career, so apparently he's doing well financially, but still, $13M is $13M. He isn't retiring, so he could still return to the mound in 2015, but it would be for a lot less money.
12) Speaking of career earnings, Jake Westbrook retired last week, after his 13-year career. Westbrook had a 105-103 career record, earning just under $71M. Hopefully these guys put away most of that money.
11) Milwaukee Brewers had June 29 scheduled as a promotion-- Norichika Aoki Bobblehead Day, but when they traded Aoki to Kansas City, that ended that. Now June 29 is Scooter Gennett Bobblehead Day, so if you're in Wisconsin this summer, its a Sunday game with Colorado.
10) San Francisco Giants were 44-32 in divisional games last summer, but it was all the other games that cost them-- they were 11-23 vs NL Central teams, 14-16 vs NL East teams and 6-14 in interleague play.
9) Will be weird seeing Tim Hudson pitching for the Giants, after his nine years with Atlanta and six with the A's. Hudson turned down the A's this winter; he is smart enough to not want to pitch against the DH anymore.
8) There are rumors the Knicks want to trade for Kyle Lowry, but if I'm New York, I don't make any more trades with Raptors' GM Masai Ujiri- he gave them Andrea Bargnani, and also Carmelo Anthony. In other words, he is a lot smarter than they are, and should be avoided at all costs.
7) NFL Combine starts this weekend in Indianapolis, so they'll be lot of NFL news/rumors this week. Wish all the QBs would throw at the combine, but most of them just throw on their own campus at their pro day.
6) ESPN's Jonathan Coachmen does a good job on both TV/radio; funny that he used to do in between match interviews on WWE telecasts. He's come a long way from those pro wrestling days, for sure.
5) North Carolina 81, Florida State 75-- Tar Heels aren't in the top 25? No way there are 25 teams that are better than they are; polls don't matter, because of the tournament, but still, they're hot right now. Carolina-Duke is Thursday night; going to be a tough 48 hours for Dick Vitale's voice.
4) Struck me the other night that Ben Howland has disappeared this winter, hasn't been seen or heard from. You'd think he'd do some TV work, but not at all. He's coached in three Final Fours; he'll coach again, if he wants to. Hell, he got fired last spring after his UCLA team won the Pac-12 regular season.
3) In 1972 and 1973, CBS/NBA had a 1-on-1 contest with 34 players, two from each NBA team; they edited games and showed highlights at halftime of the CBS Sunday afternoon Game of the Week, and then the playoffs.
In 1972, Bob Lanier beat JoJo White in the finals, two stars.
In 1973, Geoff Petrie beat Barry Clemens in the final. Petrie was the Kings' GM until this season; he was a pretty good player. Clemens played small college ball at Ohio Wesleyan, averaged 6.7 ppg in a 10-year NBA career, during which he averaged only 15.9 minutes per game.
My point with this is that if the NBA had a 1-on-1 contest, and they would make a fortune if they did, the outcome might be very surprising.
2) Oklahoma State senior walk-on Mason Cox, a 6-10 sub, is on the team because an OSU assistant coach noticed him while he was practicing against the Oklahoma State women's team. One of the players on the women's team noticed him while he was playing intramurals.
Women's teams use males to practice against sometimes; Cox was the guy who simulated 6-8 Baylor star Britney Griner in practice.
1) Memo to Roger Goodell; do not put the Super Bowl in London. Ever.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend......
13) Nebraska 60, Michigan State 51-- Tim Miles has his team primed to make a run in the NIT. Every team in the Big Dozen has at least three losses, and every team has at least three wins. No great teams, though.
12) Wisconsin 75, Michigan 62-- In a 60-possession road game, Badgers had two turnovers. Two. Wisconsin has now won four games in a row after they had lost five of six. Resilient team.
11) Pretty exciting Sunday in the MAAC.........
Canisius 92, Siena 88, triple OT....Marist 96, Monmouth 92 double OT
10) Golf is weird. Pat Perez eagled the 10th hole at Riviera Saturday, then had a triple bogey on the same hole Sunday. Go figure.
9) Disappointed to hear that Mark Mulder tore an achilles trying to make a comeback with the Angels. Mulder was 81-42 in five years with the A's-- I was in Fenway Park in August 2003 when he left with a stress fracture in his hip. Mulder completed 22 of his 150 starts for the A's. Thats a lot now; A's had six complete games all of last season.
8) Pat Knight was mercifully fired by Lamar after going 6-50 the last two years, after he went 23-12 in 2012 with the previous coach's players, whom he publicly blasted in a bizarre February 2012 news conference.
Odd that former Lamar/Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs was the person most often quoted in the wire story; he used to be Lamar's AD. Tubbs' teams ran and ran and ran-- you'd think Lamar would go for someone more like that.
7) Watching Notre Dame-Boston College last night, it just didn't seem like an ACC game. Terrible level of play. BC has to go get alum Bruce Pearl, who is eligible to be hired this spring. Great coach; he would invigorate what is right now a program in a coma.
6) If Boston College doesn't hire Pearl, then Wake Forest, Washington State, Auburn, DePaul-- one of those schools should.
5) If you care about such things, road team is 11-1 vs spread in Syracuse's ACC games, 11-0-1 in Western Kentucky's Sun Belt games.
4) I turn on the TV and I see Charles Barkley interviewing the President of the United States, and I have no idea what to think. Still don't. Listening to the President, seems like he watches a lot of basketball. Interesting.
3) Why doesn't every golfer who wins a PGA Tour event get invited to play in The Masters? Seems like that would be a good reward for winning.
2) Creighton 101, Villanova 80-- Bluejays have lot of trouble with athletic defense of St John's, but not so much with Villanova-- they scored a total of 197 points in two wins over the Wildcats, a couple of easy wins-- they made 30 of 50 3-pointers vs Villanova.
1) Temple 71, SMU 64-- A bright day in a dismal season for the Owls, who are 2-12 in their last 14 games. SMU has had a good season, but they've also lost at Temple/South Florida, little bit of a red flag.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday......
13) Olympic hockey does shootouts differently than NHL, letting same shooter go multiple times, once three players have gone, where in the NHL, each player is only allowed to shoot once.
Like the NHL system better, makes it more of a team game and puts strategy into the coach's decisions as to who shoots when.
12) Florida 69, Kentucky 59-- Kentucky led 48-47 with 8:14 left, when the ref gave John Calipari a technical foul-- Wildcats never led again, as Florida wins at Tennessee/Kentucky in same week. That doesn't happen much.
11) Syracuse 56, NC State 55-- Wolfpack gagged this game away, getting trapped in corner twice in last minute when they had ball and the lead. This was 7th time this season Syracuse has been tied/trailed in last 5:00, but they are still unbeaten, with a trip to Duke coming up Saturday.
10) Wyoming 46, San Jose State 38-- Spartans were outscored 20-9 in the second half, which may help explain why they're 0-13 in Mountain West. Not sure why Wyoming has turned into a slowball team, but they have-- it takes a little more effort to go to their home games in Laramie, not sure fans are going to want to drive thru winter weather to watch 46-38 games.
9) Yale 66, Princeton 65 ot-- Bulldogs were down 11 at half, rallied to win and stay tied for Ivy lead with Harvard at 7-1. No conference tournament in Ivy League and Yale already beat Crimson once-- rematch is at Yale.
8) Purdue 82, Indiana 64-- Wheels have fallen off for Hoosiers, who had a sub arrested for DUI late in week; they've lost six of last eight games, are 0-4 in last four games on the road- they host Iowa next.
7) ESPN's Joe Lunardi does good work with projecting who will be in the NCAA tournament, but ESPN uses his stuff way too much, like his word is official or something. "Oh, if BYU wins here, they'll be in the field of 68".
Please stop. Don't need this during every TV game for the next month.
6) Recruiting rankings aren't worth the paper they're written on; during the K-State-Baylor game, kid on Kansas State stole the ball and dunked in traffic, and the TV analyst yells about how coaches need to go out and see kids play, since this player was only a three-star recruit.
Recruiting analysts can't possibly see every player enough to make sound judgments on those kids. Players slip through the cracks, and sharp coaches find those kids, develop their skills and win a lot of games.
5) Matt Garza took $2M less to sign with Milwaukee than the Angels, and that seems odd, unless he doesn't want to face the DH. You'd think Angels have a better chance to be contenders than the Brewers do.
4) Arizona State's students need some lessons on how to act at games; couple of them spit on Oregon's coaches last week, one threw a cardboard cutout on the court Friday night after a shaky call by the refs, then 1,000 of them rushed the court when they upset Arizona, only there was still 0:00.5 left to play and they could've (but didn't) get a technical foul. Oy.
3) Certain things are amusing, others are funny, some are really funny, then there is the thing on my tax return that asks if I'd like to contribute $3 to the Presidential election campaign funds. Um, no thanks.
2) Upset of Day: Reggie Theus' Cal-Northridge Matadors (+13) won 80-78 in OT at Santa Barbara, Matadors' 4th OT game in their last six.
1) Bad Beat of the Day-- Kansas State (+4.5) had Baylor beat in regulation, but Bears hit a desperation trey at buzzer to send game to OT, then won by 14 in second overtime. If you had K-State in this game, it was a bitter loss.
Saturday's List of 13: Waiting to get plowed to freedom......
13) NFL commish Roger Goodell banked $35.1M in salary this past year, and another $9.1M in deferred compensation. Pretty good year-- hopefully at some point he'll do something to improve the quality of the NFL's product, which has slipped due to his all-out effort to settle/avoid lawsuits.
12) Don't want to hear the "player safety" argument; if the NFL truly cared about player safety, they wouldn't play Thursday night games four days after Sunday games. Football was meant to be played once a week.
11) Sports Illustrated writer Bruce Feldman wrote an excellent book about college football recruiting called Meat Market, which dealt with the Ole Miss program when Ed Orgeron was coach. Now Feldman has a book coming out about how quarterbacks are developed, coming out later this year. He is an excellent writer, so the book should be educational.
10) RIP Jim Fregosi, who passed away this week at age 71 after having a stroke while on a cruise. Fregosi played big league ball for 18 years, managed for another 15, leading the Phillies to the '93 World Series.
In New York though, Fregosi is best-known for being the guy the Mets got when they traded Nolan Ryan to the Angels- not the Mets' finest moment.
Lot of tributes for Fregosi on Twitter Friday; he was a beloved figure who was famous for telling great stories and being a good guy. He'll be missed.
9) Five of the teams in the Atlantic 13 are in the top 25. Not bad.
8) Oakland 83, Detroit 82 ot-- Teams are 25 miles apart, its a good rivalry developing in the Horizon League, which needs more TV exposure. Travis Bader was 8-13 from the arc, had 30 for Oakland-- he's made the most 3's of anyone in Division I history. this was a fun game to watch.
7) Arizona 69, Arizona 66 2ot-- Another tremendous game, with ASU needing this game lot more than the Wildcats. Weird ending in second OT, as Jahii Carson hung on the rim after a breakaway dunk with 0:00.7 left, but was spared by the officials, as were ASU fans, who stormed the court early, after a kid had thrown stuff on the court earlier in the game.
Arizona's Aaron Gordon is a good freshman player, but he is 12 for his last 39 on the foul line. Not good- he was 3 for 8 in this game.
6) Eric Musselman is an assistant coach at Arizona State-- his dad Bill was a terrific coach in college/pros- he was the Timberwolves' first coach. In their first two years, Minnesota had four players and two assistant coaches who later became NBA head coaches. Thats quite a coaching tree.
5) Pro golfer Fred Funk does a commercial for Mitsubishi Electronics that is pretty funny; you wouldn't even know he isn't an actor.
4) NBA is wisely going to centralized replay next year; the NHL already has it, and MLB/NFL should follow. Its the best way to do replay.
3) UConn-Temple got bumped off ESPN Thursday night so they can show the re-scheduled UNC-Duke game at 9:00.
2) Check out this article on NBA.com about our friend Nevada Smith, who is a coach in the D-League. Lot of life lessons involved here, number one being you should always be prepared when opportunity knocks, because you never know who is watching.
Coach Smith was well-prepared and is now living out his dream, going from a Division III college coach to coaching pros. Tremendous story.
1) Further sign of the softening of America; we've had a snowstorm here in upstate New York the last 36 hours. There is a guy who is paid to plow out the bottom of my driveway, but he is among the missing as I type this, eliminating the possibility of me ordering out for food, since the Domino's guy isn't climbing the two-foot mountain of snow that is still there.
I was going to complain more, but just heard that they had an earthquake in South Carolina tonight, the same week that they had a snowstorm. Oy.
Friday's List of 13: 2014 Over/under win totals for MLB
NL Win totals
AL win totals
Thursday's List of 13: Wrapping up a night of basketball...
13) Syracuse 58, Pitt 56-- Tyler Ennis hit a dramatic 35-footer at buzzer to keep Orangemen unbeaten. Very hard-fought game; Panthers played their hearts out, and then had those hearts ripped out by Ennis.
12) Weather forced postponement of seven games, including UNC-Duke, which will be made up a week from today, the 20th. They had eight inches of snow at Pinehurst golf course in North Carolina.
11) Penn State 66, Indiana 65-- This score makes us wonder who Indiana will host in the first round of the NIT? Hoosiers led by 11 with 3:19 to go, just a horrific loss at home.
10) Kings 106, Knicks 101 ot-- Jimmer Fredette is from Glens Falls, 45 miles north of Armadillo World HQ, so I root for him; kid hasn't played a lot for the struggling Kings, but he went off last night, scoring 15 points in his first 7:00 on the floor, wound up with a career high 24 points.
Most Fredette had played all season was 21 minutes in a blowout loss to the Pacers last month. Against ther Knicks, Jimmer played 27 minutes, made six of nine behind the arc-- he can help some NBA team.
9) Texas Tech 68, Oklahoma 60-- Tubby's Red Raiders are 5-0 vs spread as a road underdog in league play. Bad home loss for the Sooners.
8) Indiana State 68, Bradley 62-- Sycamores are 19-6, 10-3 in Valley; they are hurt by Notre Dame's demise- they beat Irish before Grant flunked out, so that would've been a quality win, but isn't now.
7) VCU 92, George Washington 75-- Rams avenged earlier loss to GW, as VCU was 13-25 from arc and forced 22 Colonial turnovers.
6) Rockets 113, Wizards 112-- Trevor Ariza had 32 points, 11 rebounds for improved Wiz, but Harden scored 35, was 16-16 from line, getting winning hoop at 0:00.7 mark. Houston was 35-47 on line as team, is now 36-17.
5) Boise State 71, New Mexico 70-- San Diego State lost at Wyoming last night, now Lobos go down here, as Mountain West road claims couple of top teams as victims. Boise has had trouble finishing games of late, but Marks hit couple foul shots with 0:13 left for win here.
4) Nebraska 67 , Illinois 58-- Cornhuskers have now won four in a row at home, as Tim Miles rebuilds another program. Illinois is having a horrendous season- they should be better than this.
3) UConn 83, South Florida 40-- Scores like this get coaches fired. USF is a football school, but they should be competitive in this league. They're not.
2) Washington 64, Stanford 60-- Huge charging call on Stanford with 0:05.3 left negated tying basket; Huskies are 5-0 at home in Pac-12. Very bad loss for the Cardinal-- tournament teams win road games like this one.
1) George Mason 91, UMass 80-- Patriots won second game in row after an 0-8 start in A-13; this game will hurt Minutemen on Selection Sunday.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Philadelphia 76ers became the second NBA team to lose games on consecutive nights by 40+ points each when they got pummeled by the Clippers, Warriors Sunday/Monday. ’94 76ers are the other team to get beaten that badly two nights in a row. You watch the 76ers play and you wonder how the hell they ever won 15 games.
12) In 1994 I was an assistant high school hoop coach and we weren’t very good. One night, our JV lost by 40+ points then our varsity did the same, a very long night, but neither one of those debacles was as bad to watch as the Sixer-Clipper game Sunday night.
You expect more from professionals, I guess.
11) If retired basketball star Tracy McGrady were to become a professional pitcher, it would become one of this year’s better stories. Pro players who have seen him throw say he has a chance.
10) Marcus Smart got suspended for three games; what does Texas Tech do with their fan, who started the whole mess? Awkward situation; chances are he’s a big contributor, so they do not want to tick him off, so they probably do nothing, give the guy less visible seats and hope it all goes away. Seeing as they’re off the beaten path in Lubbock, they might get lucky that way.
9) Texas 87, Oklahoma State 68-- Tough times for the Cowboys now.
8) Notre Dame 68, Clemson 64 2ot-- Teams combined to take 50 3s, 32 foul shots, and they were 12-50 from arc, so by the end of this game, it was like watching two drunks slug it out at 4am. Tired players. KJ McDaniels of Clemson is really good- he scored 30 of the Tigers' 64 points.
7) The first exhibition baseball games are two weeks from today; typing that sentence makes me feel a little bit warmer.
6) Texas Tech is quietly 4-3 in its last seven games; they’ve covered all four of their Big X road games. Tubby Smith does his best coaching when he’s an underdog, and he is definitely an underdog in Lubbock.
5) Suits on USA Network is one of my favorite TV shows; its third season starts March 6, with Olympic swimming ace Michael Phelps a guest star. Have to wedge watching it in between conference tournament basketball.
4) An underrated part of basketball is making layups; teams that run the Princeton offense spend eight minutes in every practice on different kinds of shots around the basket. It sounds fairly obvious, but you see so many shots missed close to the basket; have to be able to play through contact.
3) SEC commissioner Mike Slive hired former NCAA tourney guru Greg Shaheen as a consultant, so SEC teams could upgrade their non-league slates to have a better chance to make the NCAA tournament.
Interesting move that hasn't had its effect yet; it will starting with next year's schedule. Shaheen overlooked day-to-day operations of NCAA tournament for years-- he is a very valuable resource for these schools.
2) Cleveland Browns fired their CEO and GM a year after they hired them; since 1999, Browns have had seven GMs, eight head coaches, 20 different starting QBs and 163 losses, all most in NFL during that time.
1) Someone needs to tell Lebron James that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the four best basketball players of all-time, if not the best.
Tuesday's List of 13: Looking at college hoop leagues......
13) Mid-American Conference-- Toledo is a surprise at 20-3/8-2, Bobby Hurley has Buffalo at 13-7/7-3, Akron leads the Eastern Division at 8-2.
12) Horizon League-- League misses Butler; Butler misses them. Green Bay is the leader at 9-2, Cleveland State is next at 8-3.
11) Missouri Valley-- Too bad Creighton skipped town; not sure if Valley will get a second NCAA bid if 25-0 Wichita State wins MVC tournament, but 18-6/9-3 Indiana State is the next best team.
10) Mountain West-- Steve Fisher is this generation's Tark the Shark, taking transfers from all over and winning big. New Mexico is next best team, while 15-9 Boise State has been a big disappointment. Down year for MW.
9) WCC--Gonzaga is on top (again), BYU/St Mary's have slipped a little but are still #2-3 in league. San Francisco is an improved team- don't think WCC is getting a second NCAA team unless Gonzaga loses WCC tourney.
8) Atlantic 13-- Could get five teams in NCAAs; bottom half of league is weak. UMass was 13-1 out of conference, is 6-3 in league. St Joe's just beat them and VCU at home, despite playing only six guys.
7) AAC-- Looks like another five-team league; SMU is in top 25 for first time since 1985. Louisville is 19-4 as it heads to ACC next year. Temple is having its worst season in years, at 6-16/1-9.
6) SEC-- Ole Miss is third-best team behind Florida/Kentucky; Tennessee has improved. After that? Not a whole lot. Missouri/Arkansas are hanging out in middle of league, while wheels have fallen off at Alabama.
5) Pac-12-- Arizona was best team until Ashley got hurt; now its close with Wildcats and UCLA. Jahii Carson is carrying Arizona State on his 5-11 frame; he is the MVP of this league, for sure. Colorado was crippled by Dinwiddie's injury, but they are still 18-6.
4) ACC-- 15 teams is too many; inviting Notre Dame was stupid, unless it came for football, too. Looks like five NCAA teams, unless Clemson makes a run in the ACC touney, which they've seldom done over the years. UNC has improved- their two games with Duke should be interesting.
3) Big East-- Creighton is really good now, but they better be recruiting their butts off; their top eight guys are all juniors/seniors. Villanova is tough, St John's won six of last seven games but rest of league is mediocre.
2) Big Dozen-- If you're 6-5, you're tied fior 4th here. Michigan State has the best team, but they can't all get healthy at the same time. Think league is a little overrated. Curious to see if Richard Pitino can get Minnesota into the NCAAs. Indiana is struggling mightily on the road.
1) Big 12-- I'd call this the best league; anytime talented Baylor is in 8th place, you know its a loaded league. Oklahoma State has had a horrible year off the court; Texas' Rick Barnes has done one of his best coaching jobs.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend......
13) Think Marcus Smart's 3-game suspension is a little steep, but most people seem OK with it. Can't understand why the guy in the stands was yelling at him; Texas Tech was going to win-- why yell at a college kid who is going to be a multi-millionaire at this time next year?
12) Michael Carter-Williams was the 11th pick in last summer's NBA draft; he seems like a lock for Rookie of Year, making him first ROY since Mark Jackson in 1987 who was drafted 10th or later. Jackson was pick #18.
11) Golfer Jimmy Walker has won $3,605,833 in his last eight tournaments; in his first 187 tournaments, he won $7,298,429.
10) Walker was 18th golfer in last 18 years to have a 6+-shot lead after three rounds of a PGA tournament; only two of those 18 lost the tournament.
9) I love my IPhone, but could live without auto-correct for my spelling; sometimes it corrects things that don't need correcting, like names.
8) Memphis Grizzlies won Saturday night while taking only one foul shot, the first NBA team to ever do that. Hard to imagine a team winning a game where they took 90 shots from the floor, but only one free throw.
7) Tough week for the Charleston Cougars; they lost in OT at Towson on Saturday, after losing by 3 at Delaware Wednesday, when they led by 20 with 8:50 left in the game.
6) I'm guessing the NFL team that winds up with Michael Sam won't be signing former Dolphins' bully Richie Incognito as a free agent. Just a guess.
5) Knicks were 31-10 at home LY, are 12-17 this year; you look at their team and wonder why they've regressed so much? The roster isn't a whole lot different than LY, when they were 54-28. Mike Woodson will get fired soon, which won't help anything- they need to purge their roster, start over.
It wouldn't take that long to rebuild, but they would have to bite the bullet with one dreadful season. No one thinks New Yorkers would tolerate that, but they want to win and would understand a smart rebuilding approach.
4) Wisconsin 60, Michigan State 58-- Gary Harris was 3-20 from floor, 0-7 from arc, as Appling sat out. Willl the Spartans ever get healthy? Badgers snapped a 3-game home losing streak.
3) When Indians' pitcher Vinnie Restano and the Tribe wound up in an arbitration hearing last week, it was Cleveland's first arbitration hearing since 1991, which doesn't seem possible, but it is true.
2) Magic 93, Pacers 92-- Big week for Orlando, beating Thunder/Pacers at home; they've now won their last five home games.
1) Hearing more and more clamoring for a lower shot clock in college hoop; that will create more possessions, but more bad possessions, with ton of bad shots taken at the end of the shot clock. Look at how many bad shots there are in NBA games, but those players are so skilled, they make 'em.
College games are likely to become two-hour rebounding contests, with less talented players taking forced shots dictated by shot clock running out.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a college hoop Saturday
13) Texas Tech 65, Oklahoma State 61-- Marcus Smart shoved a fan who said something to him with 0:06 left to play. We're going to hear a lot about this-- Cowboys have now lost five of their last six games.
12) NC State 56, Miami 55-- Hurricanes missed a tying foul shot with 0:03 to play; Wolfpack grabbed the rebound, Kyle Washington appeared to elbow a Miami player in the face as he was fouled, but after an official review that had to take close to ten minutes, they didn't call a flagrant foul.
I thought it was the right call, but if that happened at any other time in the game, its called a flagrant foul, under the new, wimpier rules.
11) Pitt 62, Virginia Tech 57, double OT-- Hokies had 4-point lead with 0:40 left, but snatched defeat from jaws of victory by fouling a kid as he hit a 3-pointer with 0:34 left. Tech then went 0-13 from the floor in the two OTs. This wasn't a good game; neither team could make a shot.
Pitt's best player Patterson is playing hurt, scored five points.
10) Yale 74, Harvard 67-- Big upset here, as Crimson's 20-game home win streak ends. Ivy League doesn't have a tournament; these teams are both 5-1 with eight games to play. Rematch is at Yale; if teams tie for the league title, they have a playoff game at a neutral site.
9) SMU 76, Cincinnati 55-- Mustangs ended Cincy's 15-game win streak; looks like Larry Brown's team will make NCAAs, which probably means he will quit in April- he has never stayed with any one job for very long.
8) Kansas State 74, Texas 57--- Longhorns were down 39-18 at the half, as their 7-game win streak ends. Marcus Foster was 13-16, had 34 points for the Wildcats. Not too many easy outs in the Big X.
7) Arkansas 77, Vanderbilt 75-- Bench scoring was 40-2, Hogs; Qualls hit a 3 with 0;02.6 left for the win, after a series of questionable calls had gone for Vandy down the stretch. Having benches on the baseline makes game harder to coach, but provides more courtside seats to charge fans top dollar for.
6) Referees use replay as a crutch far tooo often; there are three of them making serious money; they can't not see so many things that they have to go to replay as much as they do. Coaches are also asking for reviews they don't care about to get extra timeouts.
Last thing college basketball needs are more timeouts.
5) St Joe's 69, VCU 62-- Hawks are using only six guys, since they've got three players out hurt; DeAndre Bembry was everywhere in this game- he had 18 points and a ton of energy plays.
4) Duke 89, Boston College 68-- Not sure why BC is in the ACC, not sure why they hired an Ivy League coach who apparently can't recruit ACC-level players. At least Al Skinner brought in kids who could compete athletically.
3) Minnesota 66, Indiana 60-- Gophers snapped a 3-game skid with Rick Pitino in attendance watching his son coach- he was sitting next to one of his other sons, who was dressed in a chicken suit. Minnesota's gym is called the Barn, so the students dress up as farm animals. Ah, college.....
2) Bad Beat of the Day: Arizona State (-3.5) 74, Oregon 72: Ducks were down 20 at the half, rallied to tie game, then covered in a losing cause.
1) Iowa State 84, TCU 69-- Melvin Ejim was Player of the Day, with 48 points, 18 rebounds against a Horned Frog team that is in over its head in the Big X-- they're very far behind the second-worst team in this league..
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Cal-Irvine has never made NCAA basketball tournament, but they might this year; Anteaters have a 7-6 (yes, 7-6) freshman center named Mamadou Ndiaye who blocked 11 Long Beach State shots Thursday night- they’re one of the top three teams in the Big West and have a real shot to go dancing. Their gym was packed for the Long Beach game; don’t think I had even seen it half-full on TV before. Winning breeds enthusiasm.
12) Bill Walton contributed an excellent tidbit during the Oregon-Arizona game Thursday night; nine Princeton alums are D-I head basketball coaches, the most of any school. Who would’ve thought that?
11) This is how weird college hoop has been this year: Cal Bears lost four of their last five games- the one win was against Arizona, which was unbeaten and #1 in the country at the time.
10) Listening to Arizona coach Sean Miller at halftime of the Oregon game, he knows he’s in trouble inside without injured Brandon Ashley and is trying somehow to motivate his other big guys to play better.
Wildcats will be able to replace Ashley’s scoring by going smaller, but it looks like they’ll have trouble with big frontlines now.
9) Eldrick Woods is skipping Match Play tournament in two weeks, bad news for the World Golf Tour. Am curious to see who gets in in his place, since only 64 players can play in this bracketed event.
8) Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty had a hat trick Thursday night vs Vancouver, despite failing on two penalty shots; he is only the second player ever to get two penalty shots in the same period.
Max is 3-16 in shootouts this year, so apparently he doesn’t like thinking too much before he approaches the net.
7) Wade Phillips advised the Texans to draft Johnny Manziel; will they listen? Houston thinks they’re close to being a contender, which they were in 2012, will be interesting to see who they choose as their QB with former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien in charge now.
6) How did Fernando Rodney make $1M a year more than Grant Balfour in free agency, unless Balfour took a hometown discount to play near his Clearwater home? Rodney is nowhere near as good a closer as the Australian.
5) Coco Crisp was rewarded for his fine play by getting a 2-year extension from the A's; he has been a catalyst for the defending AL West champs. .
4) Good to see Anthony Davis (20.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg) get named to the West All-Star team; he is 20 years old. Solid building block for the Pelicans.
3) Southern Mississippi 60, Marshall 57-- Thundering Herd led almost whole game, then had their hearts ripped out by a 3-pointer with 0:02 left. Marshall played pretty damn well for an 18-point underdog.
Former Jacksonville/Rutgers coach Bob Wenzel is a good hoop analyst for CBS Sports Network; he in understated but very smart.
2) Good to see Alex Rodriguez drop his unwinnable lawsuit against MLB and accept his 162-game suspension; as long as the Bronx Bombers don't get off the hook paying the other $60M they owe ARod, I'll be happy.
1) Cavaliers 115, Wizards 113-- Washington had chance to get back over .500, they lose at home to a dreadful Cleveland team playing without Luol Deng. You wonder why some franchises are never good.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here......
13) OK, there is this NBA rule I never knew about that says a team can’t play with four guys on the court; if players get hurt/foul out, you can bring back a guy who fouls out, only every foul he gets from that point on is also a technical, kind of like the anti-DQ rule the ABA used to have.
Lakers used Robert Sacre like this at the end of their game in Cleveland Wednesday, rather than put Steve Nash in, who was there and in uniform, but they didn't use him because he played the night before in his first game back from injury. Lakers started game with eight healthy guys, not counting Nash, but they still scored 70 in first half and won easily, which is probably why the Cavaliers fired their GM Thursday.
12) From what you read, the Cavaliers are a train wreck off the court; not much respect for the new coach. Curious to see who they bring in as the new GM. Lot of people seemed to think Cleveland had a good nucleus of talent that might’ve been enough to lure Lebron James back to Ohio to finish his career. Now? Not so much.
11) There was a D-III college game Wednesday where Thiel beat St Vincent 124-121 in four overtimes; no such anti-DQ rule in college ranks. Thiel won despite playing the 4th OT with four guys. 11 players fouled out of this epic marathon.
10) Must have been a full moon Wednesday: VMI beat Gardner-Webb 108-104 in four OTs; kid named Tyrell Nelson had 24 points, 25 boards for G-W and he didn’t even start. At least both sides finished with five guys.
10) Whats up with Boise State? Veteran team, good perimeter players, but they melted down at end of last two games and blew double digit leads to UNLV, San Diego State. At UNLV, Broncos fell apart as soon as Drmic fouled out; against the Aztecs, they stopped defending the arc late in the game and a guy who was 10-37 on 3-pointers for the year beat them with a trey with 0:05 left. Tough loss.
9) My Signing Day highlight was when the camera was on at LSU and the #1 WR in the country announced he was going to play for the Tigers—mascot Mike the Tiger rushes into the room, hugs coach Les Miles and gives him multiple high 5’s. Nothing like a happy mascot on Signing Day.
8) Jets hired a new special teams coach, Thomas McGaughey from LSU, who was in Baton Rouge for three years. Mike the Tiger might not be quite so happy about that move.
7) This is Carmelo Anthony’s 11th year in NBA; his teams’ career record in playoff games: 23-44, with three series wins out of 13 played.
Oddity that means nothing: Anthony has never played in a Game 7 of a playoff series.
6) CBS will be showing eight of the Thursday night games the NFL Network had shown previously. Doesn’t change much for most people, just means better announcers and probably a few more commercials- there always seem to be a few more commercials.
5) Get well soon wishes to Wyoming hoop coach Larry Shyatt, who missed his third game Wednesday with a viral infection- the assistant coach who handled the scouting for that particular opponent have coached the games in Shyatt’s absence.
4) The son of NC State coach Matt Gottfried is coming to Albany to play hoop for Siena, which doesn’t have a scholarship open for next year. Seeing as Gottfried Sr makes $1.95M a year, he can afford to pay tuition for a year, until a scholarship opens for his son in 2015-16.
3) I'm no Mel Kiper Jr, but I'd bet anyone $10 that Johnny Manziel will wind up as a better pro than Blake Bortles of Central Florida.
2) Mike Emrick is broadcasting Olympic hockey, good news for listeners. Emrick doing hockey is the best announcing experience in all of sports.
1) RIP Mr Ralph Kiner, who passed away Thursday at age 91; he was a Hall of Fame slugger who lived a Hall of Fame life, having dated Elizabeth Taylor, been engaged to Janet Leigh and broadcast Met games for 50+ years.
He was living proof you could be a big star and a nice person. RIP, sir.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Not sure how accurate ESPN's recruiting rankings are, but Alabama had the nation's best signing class for third year in a row, according to those ESPN ratings- they signed 27 kids, including five of nation's top 15.
12) Georgia had the #9 recruiting class in America, but they had the #7 class in the SEC; only two non-SEC schools ahead of them were defemding national champ Florida State and also Ohio State.
11) Tennessee Volunteers filled a lot of holes (they hope) by bringing in a huge haul of 33 kids-- considering you can have 85 kids on scholarship and lot of freshmen redshirt, lot of true freshmen will play for the Vols next fall.
10) Matt Cassel opted out of his $3.7M contract for next year with the Vikings, and is a free agent. Must figure there are enough teams that need a QB that he'll make more than $3.7M somewhere else next year.
9) West Virginia 91, Oklahoma 86 ot-- Sooners had a 20-hour odyssey to get to Morgantown, because of weather issues- they never got to the arena until less than 90 minutes before gametime, then rallied back from a 14-point second half deficit to force overtime.
Look at a map; why are these teams in the same league?
8) When the Seahawks scored in the first minute of both halves Sunday, it was only the second time since 1970 that had happened in the NFL- thats over 10,000 games. Pretty amazing fact there.
7) Washington Wizards were over .500 for the first tine since October 31, 2009, before losing to the Spurs in two OTs-- having a healthy John Wall makes a huge difference. So does being in the weak Eastern Conference.
6) An 18-year old Australian PG named Dante Exum is going to enter the NBA Draft next summer; seems odd than an Australian 18-year old can do that, but an American kid can't. Really think kids should be able to go to the NBA right from high school, but if they go to college, then they would have to stay there for at least two years.
Would improve the college game and the NBA; having these one-and-done kids in college is a joke.
5) Richmond Spiders lost leading scorer Cedrick Lindsey with injuries to both knees; he played 37 minutes in Spiders' loss to VCU Saturday, must have gotten hurt in practice this week.
4) Pitt 59, Miami 55 ot-- Hurricanes were just 14-25 on the foul line as Pitt escape south Florida with a win and snap their two-game losing skid.
3) Delaware 67, Charleston 64-- Cougars were up 20 with 8:50 left, still lost- they scored three points in last 5:23. Blue Hens are 10-0 in the CAA; Davon Usher scored 42 points playing all 40:00- the Delaware subs played a total of only 13:00, making the late comeback even more impressive.
2) Former Steeler offensive lineman Alan Faneca lost around 100 pounds since retiring as a player and also finished his first marathon recently, pretty cool story. Can't even imagine what running 26 miles is like.
1) Purdue 77, Minnesota 74 3ot-- Boilers survived ridiculously bad (9-23) foul shooting to snap 4-game skid, while Gophers lost third game in a row.
Wednesday's List of 13: Top 17 QBs of Super Bowl era
Before we start here, I didn't include John Unitas on this list, because I didn't see him play at the peak of his career. Any set of ratings like this are highly subjective; make your own list and see how we compare.........
15) Troy Aikman—Went 3-0 in Super Bowls, much like Bradshaw, handing the ball off and relying on a really good defense, but 3-0 is 3-0 and it gets you here. Interesting choice between him, Eli Manning or Fran Tarkenton.
14) Terry Bradshaw—Went 4-0 in Super Bowls; lot of people put Montana too high on this list, then leave Bradshaw off. You go 4-0 in Super Bowls, you get on this list, even if you played on a team driven by defense.
13) (tie) Starr-Favre-Rodgers—Starr won most titles, Favre was most fun to watch, Rodgers will someday wind up being best of the three. Couldn’t decide, so I made an executive decision and put all three in this slot.
12) Dan Fouts—I know he never played in a Super Bowl, but dammit he was great; if you were choosing up sides for an all-time team, you’d be real happy if you wound up with #14. Seriously, if you were given the choice of Fouts or Aikman, with no teammates chosen yet; who you taking?
11) Roger Staubach—If I have the ball on my 20, down a FG with 2:00 left, who do I want as my QB? Either this guy, Warner or Elway, that’s who.
10) Ben Roethlisberger—Still adding to his achievements, but he has won two Super Bowls, and is carrying a franchise whose overall talent has eroded a decent amount.
9) Drew Brees—Much like Montana, benefits greatly from the coach he is playing for, very QB-friendly and in a dome. Miami once chose to go with Daunte Culpepper over Brees because of Brees' shoulder. Whoops.
8) Jim Kelly—Only QB to start in four straight Super Bowls; lost ‘em all, but he ran a high-powered offense playing in freakin’ Buffalo, plus he was really good in the USFL too. Think he might be the most underrated guy in this group.
7) Kurt Warner—If you know me, you know he is my personal favorite, but there have been 48 Super Bowls, that’s 96 starting QBs. The #1, #2 and #3 passing yardage games in Super Bowls have all been from #13, and he did it for two different teams, neither of which has done a damn thing since he left, and hadn’t done much in the decade before he got there.
See you in Canton in July, ‘15. I rest my case.
6) Joe Montana—I will go to my grave saying Steve Young was better than Montana; if Montana had never played for Bill Walsh, he would’ve been Jake Plummer, but he did play for Walsh and threw to Jerry Rice, he accomplished great things.
5) Steve Young—If you rushed Montana, you could shut him down; if you rushed Young, you activated his greatest weapon, his legs. Rooting against him was a 3-hour upset stomach, always worrying about containing him in the pocket.
4) Dan Marino—I’ll call him the greatest passer in NFL history and rank him this high despite no titles and feel good about it. There's a difference in being the best passer and the best quarterback. Elway was a better QB.
3) Tom Brady—Played in five Super Bowls, all decided by exactly three points. Plays for a team that doesn’t surround him with great receivers, which is odd. Could easily have five Super Bowl rings, could easily have none. But he has been a great player.
2) Peyton Manning—Amuses me when people rip him after his team loses a playoff game; would you want him playing for your team? At 37, he just had arguably his best year, so he ain’t done yet, if he doesn’t want to be.
1) John Elway—Weird thing is he never played in a college bowl game, and didn’t win a Super Bowl title until his last two years in the league. But he had it all; mobility, a rocket arm, and was great in the 2:00 drill. If I had to pick one guy to be my QB on an all-time team, I’d pick Elway.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) If I’m the Seahawks, I do something proactive with Russell Wilson’s contract, and get this baseball bug out of his system. He’s making under $700,000 a year; he obviously is going to get a big payday someday, so give him a chunk of it now, with the provision he stop with the baseball. Curious to see how this all turns out. If I ran an NFL franchise, my QB wouldn’t be playing another sport.
12) NFL dodged a huge weather bullet this weekend; my cousin teaches school on Long Island, they had a snow day Monday, with 8+ inches of white stuff falling in the NY/NJ area. They were lucky this time, missing the storm by 16 hours or so, but luck only lasts so long.
11) My opinion is that the NFL needs to improve the quality of its product, which slipped a lot this year. Less off-season practice hasn’t resulted in better football. This Super Bowl might’ve been the worst NFL game I saw all season. At some point, the product has to become important again; right now, avoiding lawsuits seems like the league’s priority, but that’s going to have to change.
10) South Point Casino’s Jimmy Vaccaro said his house had a higher Super Bowl handle than last year, with roughly 40% of the action on prop bets. I’m telling you, the 44-page PDF file LVH put out was a classic. Lot of imagination went into some of the more obscure props.
9) Glad to report that this: A guy I work with, his nephew was at the Super Bowl in New Jersey this weekend and met Mike Ditka, got his picture taken with him. Says Iron Mike is a good guy. Good to hear.
8) Read something on Twitter today that of 25 states that have pro sports teams, Texas, Florida and Washington are only three that do not have a personal income tax, which makes it beneficial for players to play there.
7) Why teams win: Russell Wilson was a 3rd round pick; Richard Sherman, Malcolm Smith (5th rounders), while Doug Baldwin/Jermaine Kearse were both undrafted free agents. That kind of front office legwork is how you win. Only four of Seattle’s 53 players were on the team before Schneider, Carroll took charge of the franchise.
6) Kevin/Craig Stadler will be first father/son to play in same Masters in April; will they pair the father/son together, or do they keep the seniors together and the regular Tour players together? One cool thing about golf; when Kevin Stadler won Sunday, you could see how thrilled he was; we were witnessing one of the best, if not the best moment of his life.
5) I follow a lot of people on Twitter, a lot. There is always dissent on topics, usually a lot of it. Did not read one negative comment about the halftime entertainment Sunday, so that’s good.
Everyone agreed it was a top-flight show; unusual for everyone to agree.
4) NFL doesn’t pay those acts that perform at halftime, but Bruno Mars has a deal with Pepsi and here’s another way they get paid; tickets for the Bruno Mars concert here in Albany later this year went on sale Monday morning at 10am; they were lined up Monday morning outside the arena, waiting for tickets. Can’t beat free advertising, not the kind the NFL can provide.
3) Looks like David Price will pitch for the Rays this season after all; if team struggles in first half, they could try and deal him in July, but what will they get for an expensive, talented pitcher who can be a free agent soon?
Buyer beware; if the Rays know this is his last year in Tampa, pitch counts will go out the window; why preserve his arm so he can pitch for someone else against you?
2) Early line on next year’s Super Bowl from William Hill Sports (I’m not making this up); NFC -3.5, over/under of 50.
1) Only 212 days until the 2014 NFL season opens on a Thursday night in Seattle, I’m guessing against the rival 49ers.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a not-so-super Sunday
13) NFL got lucky with the weather, then the game turned out to be a skunk anyway; you charge $16 for a cheesesteak at the stadium, and you're going to get a lousy game, its just bad karma.
12) Tennessee/Arizona State were two colleges that had the most alumni in the Super Bowl, if stuff like that interests you.
11) There has now been a safety in four of last six Super Bowls; there had been only five safeties in the first 42 Super Bowls.
10) Dodgers raised ticket prices 140% for this season, as expectations for the team with the highest payroll in baseball history are through the roof.
9) Arizona Wildcats are holding their breath that Brandon Ashley's foot injury isn't as bad as originally hoped. Ashley is their best defensive big guy and will be a huge loss if he is done for the season.
8) In case you were wondering, ESPN was showing a documentary on Mike Tyson when the Super Bowl kicked off. Always fun to see what they put on at a time when they know almost no one is watching.
7) Indiana 63, Michigan 52-- Wolverines lost fifth straight game at Indiana and lost their first conference game this season. Yogi Ferrell made 7-8 from the arc. Hoosiers play better against the better teams.
6) Nevada Wolf Pack is 8-1 vs spread in Mountain West games; three of their last four games went to overtime- they're a much-improved team.
5) Oregon State 71, UCLA 67-- Beavers survived 18 turnovers and shaky foul shooting (15-26) as they rallied to beat UCLA, which has been ordinary away from Westwood. Crowds in Corvallis were hurt by Sunday afternoon games when Seahawks were playing- they should pick up now.
4) Stephen Gallacher won the European tour event in Dubai; in last two rounds, he shot 61 (-13) on the back nine. Very impressive.
3) Took Kevin Stadler 239 tournaments, but he won on the PGA Tour in an unusual finish where all the contenders stumbled down the stretch. Now he will join his dad in Augusta, the first father/son duo in that event.
1) Congrats to Aeneas Williams on making the Pro Football Hall of Fame; back in August 2001, I met Williams in Canton, when the Rams played in the Hall of Fame Game against Miami.
They had an open practice on Sundays back then-- I was there to see Jack Youngblood/Jackie Slater get inducted in the Hall of Fame on Saturday, so I went to the open practice, and got this mini-helmet signed by some players, one of whom was Williams.
As he signed the helmet, we talked a little about his getting inducted into the Hall one day; my thought was if the Rams won the Super Bowl that year, he was a mortal lock to get in. He smiled as if he liked that idea.
Rams lost the Super Bowl that year but justice was done this weekend and Williams will be inducted in Canton this July. Good for him.
Sunday's List of 13: Happy Ground Hog Day, people......
13) First of all, Happy Birthday KL Wheat who turns 29 (again) today.
12) California 60, Arizona 58-- Best part of highlights was Cal coach Mike Montgomery shoving happy fans off the court who had come on with 0:00.9 left after the Bears took the lead. Wildcats are struggling to score- Nick Johnson was 1-14 in this game.
11) Syracuse 91, Duke 89 ot-- ESPN treated this game like a combination of the Super Bowl and a Presidential inauguration- they even showed Syracuse alum Vanessa Williams singing the national anthem. For a game on Feb 1st.
While I'm here, I can't listen to Dick Vitale for two straight hours anymore; he rarely analyzes the game, just follows his own script. He has done amazing things in raising money to research a cure for cancer, but as a TV analyst, his best days were a decade or two ago.
10) Quinnipiac 103, Siena 95 ot-- Jimmy Patsos has re-energized Saints' program, but their subs were 2-20 in this game. Quinnipiac's were 7-14.
9) Baylor 76, Oklahoma State 70-- Marcus Smart's season might be the end of talented kids coming back for their sophomore year; he isn't having a good year, was 3-14 in this game. he would've been the #1 pick had he come out last summer. Baylor had lost five games in a row before this.
8) Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 58-- Both teams are slumping, Badgers have now lost three in a row at home for first time under Bo Ryan. Its amazing to me how fragile so many teams are; one player goes into a slump or gets hurt and the team becomes a house of cards.
7) Northwestern 55, Minnesota 54-- If the Wildcats are 5-5 in Big Dozen, how great a league is it, really? Northwestern has won three conference road games in a row for the first time since....1960. Wow.
6) Bad Beat of the Day: Air Force (+9.5) loses 69-56 in OT at Nevada.
5) Hawks 120, Timberwolves 113-- Kevin Love had 43 points, 19 rebounds in a losing cause. 25-21 Hawks scored 72 points in the second half.
4) Sacramento State 78, Weber State 75 ot-- 10 points scored in last 0:07 of this game, six in last 0:01, yes six points in a second. Wild game, with 33 points and three technicals in the OT, including Weber State calling a timeout they didn't have with 0:07 left. Both coaches also got a T in OT, as Hornets ended a 12-game losing streak to Weber State.
Weber hit a 3 to tie game with under a second left, then Dylan Garrity stuck a running 75-footer as pandemonium broke loose in Sacramento's tiny gym.
3) The basketball college teams use now isn't leather, it is a composite material, which is why it sometimes takes very odd bounces. Kid yesterday hit a shot from the corner, when the ball hit the back of the rim and seemed to stick there, before falling limply into the basket. Shots that hits the back of the rim first should never just stick to the rim like the ball is deflated.
2) When the NCAA tournament selection committee meets next month, how will they evaluate wins/losses vs Colorado that happened before Buffs' star Spencer Dinwiddie got hurt? Any win over the Buffs before Dinwiddie got hurt is a great win, losses since he got hurt should be more damaging.
1) Lakers lost 12 games in January; last time they lost 12 games in same month was.....1964. This summer will be very interesting for them.
Saturday's List of 13: Idle thoughts with weekend here....
13) We talked earlier this winter about how the “neighborhood play” at second base was going to be an issue with the new instant replay system, since middle infielders often desert the base before the ball gets there to avoid collisions with base runners.
Turns out this won’t be an issue, since the neighborhood play will not be something that is subject to review in the new system, due to safety concerns for middle infielders.
With the first spring training game only 25 days away, it doesn’t seem crystal clear how this is all going to work, but you’d assume in a multi-billion dollar industry, they’d be working on it. You’d think.
12) Speaking of spring training, lot of MLB teams sent their moving vans off filled with equipment Friday to training camp sites throughout Florida/Arizona. In couple weeks they’ll be hitting fungos and taking BP.
11) New head of the MLB Players’ Association is Tony Clark, who five years ago was still an active player with Arizona. He’s come up the ranks in the union very quickly.
10) St Louis Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke, who also owns the Nuggets, Avalanche out in Denver, recently bought 60 acres of land between the old LA Forum and Hollywood Park racetrack, which has been shut down.
All this furthers speculation the Rams might be headed back to Tinseltown should they not get improvements in their current home in St Louis.
Kroenke is a Missouri guy; his son played hoop for Mizzou, his first name is Enos (after Enos Slaughter of the Cardinals?), I kind of doubt he’ll move the Rams, but this land grab makes it look like he might unless St Louis gives him what he wants.
When you’re worth $5.9B, you’re used to getting what you want.
9) Rex Ryan was giving out free ice cream to passersby in Manhattan Friday out of an ice cream truck sponsored by the New Era cap company. He misses the playoffs one more time, he might be driving that truck for a job.
8) Power of the Super Bowl: 11 college basketball games Sunday, latest one starts at 2:30, even the game at Oregon State, which is an 11:30am local tip time. Its always fun to see what ESPN puts on during the Super Bowl.
7) I remember sitting at a bar in Las Vegas last spring and watching golf on TV and then I relaized, it was already the next morning in Florida, while I was still out the night before. Watching these European tour events from the Middle East, you wonder if the time zone changes screw up the golfers.
6) Celtics were 2-15 in January; I saw them play three of those games and my only surprise is somehow they won two games. They are terrible.
5) University of Tennessee’s athletic department dumped adidas gear for Nike; you wonder how much of a blow that is to adidas. I mean, if the Vols get good in football again, they’ll be putting 110,000 people into Neyland Stadium on fall Saturdays and lot of those people will buy t-shirts, golf shirts, gym shorts, sweatsuits, all made by Nike.
It has to be worth a significant amount of money.
4) Must be lot of good point guards in the Western Conference if Goran Dragic missed out on playing in the All-Star Game. He's very good.
3) Speaking of the All-Star Game, wouldn’t mind see sides chosen for that game the way they did the Pro Bowl, have two captains pick teams, instead of the stale East/West format. Have a pool of 20 guys who have to be picked, then the last 4-6 guys can be anyone the captains see fit. Would be little more interesting, but All-Star games don't usually interest me much.
2) Colts kicker Adam Viniatieri thinks 50+-yard FGs should be worth four points; Roger Goodell thinks extra points should be eliminated. Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing the 4-point field goal anytime soon, and I’d be against eliminating the extra point.
Making the extra point a longer kick seems like an interesting idea, but they would have to keep the two-point conversion where it is.
1) Why would anyone buy a $30 hat celebrating a team as a conference champ? If you wait two weeks and your team wins the Super Bowl, you buy that hat; if they lose, why would you want a hat that reminds you your team lost the Super Bowl? It makes no sense to me, but people must buy ‘em, or else they wouldn’t sell ‘em.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.....
13) Never understood why people would pay more for game-worn gear from pro athletes; you can have the same stuff made for far less money. Now it turns out teams are scamming collectors by selling them “game-worn” stuff that is just beaten up to look game-worn. Tremendous.
The whole collecting thing has always seemed like a cesspool for hucksters anyway- the small amount of collectibles I have is just stuff that has special meaning to me, stuff I would never want to sell.
12) Once saw a Rams' #12 jersey selling for $1,200; supposedly it was worn by Joe Namath during his less-than-stellar one year in LA. Namath had a 2-2 record as the Rams' starter before he was mercifully replaced. I asked the guy why would I pay $1,200 when I could have the same jersey made on the Internet for $200, and it would be new? Guy just laughed.
11) UCLA 70, Oregon 68-- Ducks erased 11-point deficit by holding UCLA scoreless for 5:13, but then Bruins scored last five points of game to escape Eugene with a win, as Oregon lost for sixth time in their last seven games.
10) Air temperature isn’t that important a factor for the game Sunday night in Swamp Stadium, but wind could be; Peyton Manning will be checking those flags, not wanting a windy night, which would make longer passes much tougher to complete.
9) Baltimore Orioles are making a big push to sign 37-year old pitcher AJ Burnett; O’s have taken lot of heat for their quiet winter, this would take some heat off them. Not sure why Burnett would leave the Pirates to pitch in a smaller ballpark in the league with the DH, but money usually speaks the loudest in these situations.
8) Edmonton Oilers’ goalie Ben Scrivens had 59 saves in Oilers’ 3-0 win over San Jose Wednesday, the most saves by an NHL goalie in a regular season game since Quebec’s Ron Tugnutt had 70 saves in a 3-3 tie with the Bruins in March, 1991.
7) Bll Walton is fun to listen to on weeknight Pac-12 games; he had Arizona-Stanford Wednesday- at one point, he started a monologue about Rodin’s sculptures, then showed singer Joan Baez’ picture from her high school yearbook at Palo Alto HS, and launched into a discussion of why sacrifice is essential to success. He is fun to listen to, as long as you don’t mind occasional tangents away from the game.
6) What do the non-Olympian NHL players do during 17-day Olympic break? Going to take discipline for those guys to stay in shape for when the season resumes. It'll be almost like starting the season all over again.
5) Nebraska 60, Indiana 55-- Cornhuskers won third straight home game, rallying back from down 13 at half. Hoosiers drop to 3-5 in Big Dozen.
4) Cincinnati 69, Louisville 66-- Bearcats blew a 17-point second half lead, then rallied to stay unbeaten in AAC. Sean Kilpatrick had 28 for Cincinnati.
3) UTEP 89, Louisiana Tech 79-- Miners threw their leading scorer off team few weeks ago, have still won 10 of last 11 games, are tied for top in C-USA with Southern Miss. Tim Floyd may be shady, but he is also a terrific coach.
2) Suns 102, Pacers 94-- Goran Dragic had 28 points as Indiana lost for just second time in 23 home games this season. Phoenix is 28-18; Jeff Hornacek is looking a lot like the Coach of the Year.
1) Courage is an overused word. Want someone with courage? Try the army solider in the Middle East, the guy who diffuses bombs with no robots to help him. He might do 4-5 in one day; screw one up and he’s dead. Now that takes onions, thats real courage.
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff on another cold day
13) Back in 2010, new Penn State coach James Franklin was offensive coordinator/coach-in-waiting at Maryland. As soon as Ralph Friedgen retired, Franklin was set to take over, but Franklin got itchy and took the Vanderbilt job on December 17, 2010.
Six days later, Friedgen was fired; you don’t have to be freakin’ Sherlock Holmes to figure out that someone at Maryland didn’t want Franklin to take over- they waited until he was gone to jettison Friedgen, a Maryland alum. Now they’ll be going up against him in the Big 14 starting next season. Could be good theater.
12) Not only that, but Friedgen has resurfaced as OC at Rutgers, so the Terps will be seeing him again too. Maryland in that league is going to take some getting used to, moreso than most of the conference musical chairs that have gone on the last few years.
11) Marshawn Lynch was fined $50,000 this year for not talking to the media; he has to study Bill Belichick and learn how to say nothing while talking and he could save himself a lot of money. Just utter boring cliché after boring cliché; it’ll bug the writers a lot more than it bugs him.
Why throw good money away fighting a battle he cannot win?
10) Outgoing NBA commish David Stern read the Top Ten list on David Letterman’s show last night. Always wondered if a guy like Stern watches basketball for fun when he’s sitting home doing nothing, or if its just a job to him. He did a very good job for the NBA, for sure.
9) One thing on the list for my April trip to Las Vegas is the Pinball Hall of Fame on East Tropicana, kind of near UNLV- they have over 200 old fashioned pinball machines you can go in and play for a quarter or 50 cents. Good stuff; I’ve meant to go there but haven’t yet, but I will in April.
8) It snowed in Charleston, SC Wednesday morning, closing six bridges in the area. TV trucks going to the Vandy-Georgia basketball game weren’t able to get to Athens. Hoop games at Auburn/NC-Wilmington were postponed. They’re not used to cold, cruddy weather in the South.
7) Dallas Cowboys promoted Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator, demoted 73-year old Monte Kiffin; been a rough year or so for the Kiffin clan, although somehow Lane Kiffin wound up with another bigtime job, as OC at Alabama.
Marinellu and Monte Kiffin worked together in Tampa, so they're still going to be using the same defemse.
6) Utah State basketball player Jalen Moore has an Afro reminiscent of former big league OF Oscar Gamble or Coolidge from the White Shadow; don’t seen many of those anymore. Gamble’s Afro was so big he had trouble keeping his batting helmet on.
5) Baylor Bears have lost five games in row, are 1-6 in Big X; they hit a potential game-winning 3-pointer Monday night that was a half-second after the horn went off. Their next three games are Kansas and the two Oklahoma schools; things could get worse before they get better.
4) Arizona State 89, Cal 78, ot-- Sun Devils blew 16-point lead in second half, but tied game in a 3-ball with 0:17.7 left. Third loss in a row for Bears, who started Pac-12 play 5-0.
3) Penn State 71, Ohio State 70, ot-- In Columbus. Buckeyes have now lost five of their last six games.
2) Northwestern 65, Wisconsin 56-- Badgers shot 26%. In Madison. This is the first time ever Penn State/Northwestern won Big Dozen road games on the same night. Penn State has been in this league since 1993.
1) There is no NHL All-Star Game this year because of the 17-day break the league is taking for the Winter Olympics.
That just seems weird, no NHL All-Star Game- I would’ve thought they’d have it outdoors, in Calgary or Winnipeg or some frigid place.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.....
13) Loved reading the story of Providence basketball coach Ed Cooley, who lost 125 pounds since last July and now runs every day and is feeling much better. Not only that, his Friars are having a better season than expected and could make the NCAA tournament, despite losing their PG for the season in December. Good for him.
12) Michigan State 71, Iowa 69 ot-- Spartans were mentally tougher- thery are now 12-1 in their last thirteen games with Iowa.
Free throws: Michigan State 11-20, Iowa 30-43, State still won. Hawkeyes didn't score a basket for 14:41- they got a layup with 0:06 left in OT to end the ridicuclously long drought at home.
11) Saratoga’s Anthony Weaver is the new defensive line coach of the Browns, coming over from Buffalo with new coach Mike Pettine. I once scouted Weaver in a high school basketball game; our team was supposed to play Saratoga in the sectionals, but they lost the game before playing us. Weaver set a mean pick, for sure.
10) The swing of the European Golf Tour that goes Abu Dhabi/Qatar/Dubai must be an interesting three weeks; the European Tour moves to South Africa next week.
9) I am constantly amazed that people stand outside and smoke in this frigid weather; it is illegal to smoke indoors in public places in New York, so people stand outside, but dammit, wind chills have often been below zero. It baffles me that people would do that.
8) Kevin Durant scored 30+ points in his last 11 games, the longest such streak since Tracy McGrady eleven years ago. Durant is hands-down MVP of the league right now, with Westbrook out injured.
7) In case you care about such things, the Olympics at Sochi will be nine hours ahead of the eastern time zone, meaning lot of events during the day here on TV, and lot more on tape delay at night.
6) Domino’s runs a commercial that stresses they want you to order food online instead of on the phone, so I tried it Monday night-- it is an efficient service. Fast, not expensive and tasty food. I recommend it, especially the penne alfredo.
5) Read where Brazil has spent $2.3B on Olympics-related projects; that’s billion, with a B. Summer Games are there in 2016; the Olympics are only two weeks long. $2.3B seems an awful lot of money to recoup, even if tourism to Brazil increased dramatically.
4) Toronto is the #3 city in North America in terms of where movies/TV shows are filmed, behind LA/New York. Was surprised to read that.
3) Creighton 63, St John's 60-- Doug McDermott scored 39 of Bluejays' 63 points, including the game-winner with 0:02.9 left.
2) This is the business of college basketball; Siena recently signed a recruit from Virginia to their last available scholarship for next year, but they said they’re not done recruiting yet, which means if they find someone they want who wants to come to school here in September, one of their bench guys is going to transfer to another school, or decide to walk on, or quit altogether.
Its how the business works and it is a business; kids get run off. Happens all over the country, most of the time fairly quietly.
1) My State of the Union address:
Democrats try their best to help poor people, especially this President.
Republicans try their best to help rich people, in other words, themselves.
Neither party gives a rat’s ass about the middle class. That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong, but the evidence says I'm right.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Listening to lot of talk this week as to who the best-ever QBs are; hard for me to hear Jim Kelly dismissed because Bills never won a Super Bowl- he played in four straight Super Bowls, no one else has done that. I don't think he takes a back seat to anyone as one of the greats of the game.
12) This is David Stern's last week as NBA commissioner; during his time in charge, seven new teams came into being. NBA games are now broadcast into 215 countries. Stern made NBA owners a ton of money; I'm not fond of how they market their league, but they don't care what I think.
11) Glad to hear Jerry Remy will be back in the broadcast booth for Red Sox games this year. Last summer, Remy's son apparently killed a woman who is the mother of their child- no one seems to be disputing his guilt, and Remy took the news hard, taking a leave of absence from his job. He said in the last few days that he has agreed to come back to work this spring.
10) A guy in Australia bet a $435 parlay on Wawrinka/Li to win the singles titles at the Australian Open tennis tournament. Wawrinka was #8 seed, Li was #4 seed. When the parlay hit, the guy collected $196,185. Pretty good payday, especially when you consider Nadal got hurt early in the men's final and basically limped his way through a four-set loss as the favorite.
9) Baltimore Ravens hired former Texans' Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator, replacing Jim Caldwell, which seems like an upgrade. Kubiak brought Rick Dennison in as QB coach, even though he was a running back. Not sure why you would have a QB coach who wasn't a QB.
8) Oklahoma State offered Phil Forte a scholarship before they offered one to Marcus Smart. Oy. I mean, Forte is a good player and he'll stay for four years, but that is a surprising piece of knowledge.
7) Former Louisville hooper Chane Behanan has transferred to Colorado State and will be eligible for his last season starting next December. Kid had some off-court problems, is being giving a second chance by Larry Eustachy, who apparently needs a talented forward to fill a gap next season.
6) Over/under on the Pro Bowl was 94; game ended 22-21. Not fond of the idea that teammates play against each other, but at least the teams seemed to give an actual effort, as opposed to previous Pro Bowls.
5) Boston Celtics have played road games on consecutive nights six times this season; they're 6-0 against the spread on the second night.
4) John Wall isn't on the 28-man list for the Olympic team? I mean, I don't give a rat's ass about the Olympics, but if you're making a list of the 28 best players in the NBA, John Wall is on it. No way are there seven point guards better than him, thats all I'm saying.
3) 230 American athletes are headed to Sochi next week for the Winter Olympics, the largest delegation ever sent to the winter games. Funny thing is, our country doesn't usually do that well in the winter games, does it?
2) Good lord, they made a Sherman and Peabody animated movie; when I was a kid, I loved that cartoon on TV. Not shelling out $10 to see it in the theater, but I'll definitely catch it on HBO or Showtime.
1) Roughly $700M was bet legally on baseball in Nevada last year; we're excited about the weather getting warmer and getting started with pitching charts and umpire trends. We love college hoop, but this winter cannot end soon enough. I'm planning a trip to Arizona for spring training next year.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) NBA has to start flexing their Sunday games; three games Sunday, half of the six teams they showed stink. Boston, New York and the Lakers are all awful teams. How about showing Indiana or Phoenix? They aren't the most glamorous teams, but they're very good and they're in the league, too.
12) NBA cares deeply about marketing its stars, far less about marketing its teams. Thats what they've chosen to do, for better or worse.
11) Want to win a bar bet? Denver LB Paris Lenon is last remaining player who played in the old XFL- he played for the Memphis Maniax, where his coach was Kippy Brown, who is now Seattle's WR coach.
10) Clemson lost at North Carolina again, making them 0-57 in Chapel Hill, a ridiculously bad streak that may never end; in 2008, Tigers took UNC to double OT, but still got beat by ten that day. Tar Heels are not especially good this year- you'd think Clemson would've competed a little better.
9) Paul Pierce was 10th player taken in the 1998 NBA Draft, not even the first Kansas Jayhawk taken; Raef LaFrentz was pick #3. First pick in the '98 draft was Michael Olowokandi. Drafting is an inexact science, for sure.
8) Celtics are now 0-5 in games Rajon Rondo has played since coming back from his injury- their rebuilding job is a very big one.
7) Quote of the Day, part 2: "That would've been great, if it went in."
The great Hubie Brown, commenting after Carmelo Anthony jacked up yet another fallaway jumper in transition, while he had a teammate open on the other side of the court. ESPN tends to be soft on Anthony, since most of the play/play guys on the network went to Syracuse, and he won them a national title in his only season there.
6) Scott Stallings won the PGA Tournament in San Diego this week, even though he hit only four of 14 fairways Sunday- the man can putt. .
5) I've done my fair share of Internet dating, so I'll say this about the TV commercials match.com is running: Don't be expecting one of those women in the commercials to show up for one of your dates. Ain't happening, but you might get a request for $595 from some nice woman in Nigeria. Uh huh.
4) NFL issued over 5,000 media credentials for the Super Bowl; hell, even I could've gotten one. Wouldn't be too excited about sitting outside, though, at 6:30 at night on Ground Hog Day. For 3.5 hours. In New Jersey.
3) Matt Garza got $50M for four years from Milwaukee; its gotten to the point where any veteran pitcher who doesn't make $12M a year is awful, or should fire his agent. Lot of teams don't think Garza's arm is healthy.
2) CBS Sports reports there are five golfers in their 20's who have 3+ wins on the PGA Tour: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Anthony Kim.
1) UCLA 76, Cal 64-- Golden Bears came to LA 5-0 in Pac-12 play, left LA looking like a team that isn't very good. You're never as good as you look in your wins, never as bad as you look in your losses, but they looked awful this weekend. Curious to see them play at home this coming week.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) Clippers 126, Raptors 118-- Terence Ross made 10-17 3's, scored 51 points in a losing effort for Toronto; he had been averaging 10.2 ppg while making 40.7% of his 3-pointers this season.
12) Thunder 103, 76ers 91-- Kevin Durant took Friday night off, then had a triple-double in this game. Sixers need three more wins to go over their total of 16 wins that was set in Las Vegas this summer./
11) Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall is 132-33 over the last 4.5 years; in his last three years at Winthrop, he was 79-19. Guy is a terrific coach.
10) Three of five Mountain West games went OT last night, and a fourth was decided by two points. Competitive and entertaining league.
9) Fresno State has a kid named Cezar Guerrero who, to be kind, is not shy with the ball in his hands- he was 5-12 from arc at UNLV, just 1-8 inside it and also had six assists. His coach gives him a lot of freedom, and seeing as Fresno lost its last two games in OT, thats a lot of trust in a sophomore.
8) St John's 69, Butler 52-- Wonder what the bigwigs at Butler think now- they're the smallish fish in a very big pond, their coach took off last summer for the money of the NBA, after this move was made. They're 1-7 in their first season in the Big East. Hope their admissions standards are low.
7) You'll see a lot of college football coaches get contract extensions over the next 10 days; why? Because National Signing Day is February 5, and this is an easy way to get your coach's name in the news, while reassuring recruits the coach ain't going anywhere.
6) Six of the the ten coaches in the Big X Conference have been to a Final Four, with Travis Ford/Fred Hoiberg two that haven't, and they both could get there this season. Trent Johnson has such a monstrous rebuilding job at TCU to try and catch up with some of the great programs in this league.
5) Villanova 94, Marquette 85, OT-- A horrendous charging call caused this game to go OT; the Marquette defender had both his heels in the semi-circle, where charges aren't called. Supposedly. Villanova won anyway.
4) San Diego 65, Portland 63........Gonzaga 84, BYU 69-- both teams that played in the triple OT game Thursday got beat Saturday night.
3) Alabama 82, LSU 80-- Crimson Tide blew a 19-point second half lead, then pulled the game out late. LSU scored 57 points in second half and lost.
2) Texas 74, Baylor 60-- Bears lost last four games, are 1-5 in Big X, after going 12-1 out of conference. Rick Barnes is doing better without having the highly touted recruits on his team- they're 5-2 in league play.
1) Interesting to see how the Knicks are home all week and there are two outdoor hockey games in the Bronx, in the week before the Super Bowl in New Jersey. Lot of stuff to do this week, if you don't mind being cold for at least some of them. I am told this is the coldest winter in NY since 1978.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) We’ll get more into Super Bowl prop bets next week, but one bet you can make is this: Peyton Manning is a 78.5 yard favorite over Russell Wilson in gross passing yards (before sacks).
12) Over/under on how many times Manning says “Omaha” at the line of scrimmage is 24.5. Yes, you can bet on this stuff.
11) Cowboys are considering Scott Linehan as an offensive playcaller; as a Ram fan, my advice to Dallas: DON'T DO IT!!!!!! Linehan used to be the coach of the Rams, not my favorite years as a fan.
10) Grant Balfour takes $12M for two years from Tampa Bay, instead of more money from the Mets- that doesn’t happen every day.
9) When the New Orleans Pelicans win, people can get 50% off on online orders at Papa John's in the New Orleans area. Luckily for Papa John, they don't win much. Unfortunately for me, the Papa John's locations in Albany closed up. Its seriously the best pizza I've ever had.
8) Buffalo replaced new Browns' coach Mike Pettine with Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator; he will be Buffalo's 4th DC in the last four years.
7) Josh Smith bolted UCLA for Georgetown, now he’s flunked out of school at Georgetown. Young man should hire himself a personal trainer, get his butt in shape and try and make an NBA or D-League roster.
6) White Sox signed Robin Ventura to a contract extension, which leaves five major league skippers heading into the last year of their current contract.
5) ESPN's Jon Barry was talking about his dad last night; Rick Barry was one of the greatest players ever, probably the best free throw shooter of all-time (he shot them underhanded). Rick Barry doesn't get the credit he deserves; he was a guy who spoke his mind, which offends some people.
4) UNLV gave football coach Bobby Hauck a 3-year extension and $200K raise after the Rebels went 7-6 and lost to North Texas in a bowl game-- it was first bowl game in 13 years for UNLV.
3) Giants’ OL David Diehl called it a career at age 33 Friday; he won two Super Bowls as a starter. Guys like him are part of what makes the NFL so cool; he was a 5th-round draft pick, but turned out to be a very important player. When he was drafted, doubt anyone outside his friends/family batted an eyelash.
2) CEO of JP Morgan Chase made $20M this past year, up from $11.5M in 2012. He must have had a good year.
1) Greg Maddux/Tony Larussa are both having caps with no logos on their Hall of Fame plaques; that’s a growing trend, since so few players stay with one team their whole career now. Why have caps at all on the plaques, if there’s not going to be a logo on them?
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here......
13) There is an NHL game at Dodger Stadium Saturday night; high in LA Saturday is expected to be 77, low around 52. Not sure how it all works, but the game starts after dark- is there a maximum temp the game can be played at, before it is postponed?
12) There are also NHL games in the baseball park in the Bronx over the next week, where warm temps will be no issue whatsoever. Outdoor NHL games have become very popular.
11) Marlins’ president David Samson (former stepson of owner Jeffrey Loria) apparently took July-August off last summer to appear on the CBS reality series Survivor, which was filmed in the Phillipines and starts airing late next month.
Not often the president of a big league ballclub takes July-August off, seeing as the trading deadline is July 31, but the Marlins aren’t your normal organization, and they’re probably better off without Samson anyway. I’m sure the taxpayers of south Florida are thrilled they paid for a new ballpark for a team run by this guy and his weasel stepfather.
10) Read this week where the Bronx baseball team took in $60M less in ticket revenues in 2013 than it did the year before, which is a big part of why they abandoned hopes of staying under the $189M luxury tax limit to sign Tanaka. If he makes them a contender, they’ll easily make up his $22M salary in ticket sales and improved TV ratings for the YES Network.
9) Peyton Manning is the only player in this year’s Super Bowl who has already won a Super Bowl ring. Seahawks are the first Super Bowl team since 1990 with no players who have even played in a Super Bowl.
8) Former Titans’ coach Mike Munchak signed on as OL coach for the Steelers, good get for Mike Tomlin’s staff.
7) Golfer Steven Webster started the Qatar Open (European Tour) with a double-eagle on the 10th hole Wednesday, his first hole of the tournament. Don’t often see an albatross anytime, much less on the first hole of a tournament.
6) Kevin Durant is averaging 35.6 ppg, 5.6 apg since Russell Westbrook got hurt; he was averaging 28.1/4.8 before Westbrook’s injury.
5) Oakland Raiders are being sued by their own cheerleaders, which could be a first; ladies are suing for a variety of offenses. Not the best sign for an organization when stuff like this happens.
"The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court alleges that the organization withholds all pay from the Raiderettes until the end of the season, does not pay for all hours worked and forces the cheerleaders to pay many of their own business expenses."......from ESPN.com
4) 71-year old Mike Pope, who was tight end coach for the Giants’ for a very long time, has re-surfaced in Dallas. Giants went out of their way to say that OC Kevin Gilbride wasn’t fired, but then it came out last week that if he didn’t “retire” he was going to get the boot. Semantics; guys like that do not quit, unless they leave for a better job. Gilbride is 62, way too young to retire from a job that lucrative. Hell, Pope is 71 and he still wants to coach.
3) We’re almost to the point in the basketball season where we can start speculating on where Bruce Pearl will resurface as a head coach next season; his show cause order from the NCAA ends after this season, so he’ll get hired by someone. St John’s? Auburn? Washington State? Pearl is an excellent coach whose NCAA violations seem miniscule, given stuff that’s gone on since then.
2) When the Browns fired Rob Chudzinski after his first year as head coach, I figured they had someone in mind who they would quickly scoop up; why else can a guy after only one season on the job? 26 days later, they finally named a coach, guy who was a high school coach 13 years ago.
Now Art Briles/Gus Malzahn were also high school coaches and so was Mike Holmgren at one time, but the Browns look very foolish right now.
1) Back in 1979, Tigers had a first-year manager named Les Moss who had been a pitching coach; he was 27-26 when Detroit fired him, for no other reason than Sparky Anderson became available and Anderson was a great manager, so they scooped him up and sent Moss packing.
Felt bad for Moss, who never got another chance to run a team, but at least those Tigers had a plan to become better, and they did, winning the World Series five years later. The Browns? They hired a former high school coach and really appear to be clutching at straws.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Masahiro Tanaka gets seven years, $155M from the Bronx Bombers, 5th-highest salary ever for a pitcher. He is 25 and was 24-0 in Japan last year. Supposedly the four teams Bronx beat out for his services were the Dodgers, Astros and the two Chicago teams, but its hard to believe Houston was serious. Chances are they kept their name in the mix to placate their shrinking fan base after LY’s debacle of a season.
In reality, the contract is four years, $88M; Tanaka can opt out after years 4,5,6, so the only way it plays out to $155M for seven is if Tanaka isn't that good and doesn't want to be a free agent again.
12) I’ve been trying to read about Tanaka, but not lot of info out there; one red flag is that in his last Japanese start, in Game 6 of their championship series, he threw 160 pitches, as in 1-6-0. Teams here have a coronary if a guy throws 115. Even at age 25, you wonder how much wear and tear he’s already had.
11) Tanaka has thrown 1,315 innings by age 24; in the last 50 years, only three major leaguers had thrown that many innings by age 24: Larry Dierker, Frank Tanana and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven.
All three were very good pitchers, but all of them were also age 24 in the 60’s or 70’s. Curious to see how this all works out, him pitching in a tiny ballpark in the league with the DH.
10) Guy named Al Melchior does fantasy baseball work for CBSSports.com; his initial projection for Tanaka this season was 13-9, 3.55 with a 1.22 WHIP. For $22M a year, I’d expect more than 13-9, 3.55, but that’s just me.
In non-Tanaka-related items…….
9) Since spring training is so long, I’m assuming MLB will use the month of exhibition games to iron out the kinks in its new instant replay system. You know, screw up a few times in exhibition games when no one cares who wins, so the system runs flawlessly starting on Opening Day. Is that too big an assumption for me to make?
8) Former Texas Longhorns’ DC Manny Diaz surfaced at Louisiana Tech; Diaz was once a production assistant at ESPN who impressed Bill Parcells with his knowledge/enthusiasm, so Parcells got him started in coaching.
7) Harvard got waxed by 7-12 Florida Atlantic Tuesday, which will hurt their seeding in March; doubtful anyone in the Ivy will beat them out for the automatic bid. Should they somehow not win the league (Princeton already has a loss and Ivy doesn’t have a postseason tournament), it isn’t going to look good to get pounded by a weak C-USA outfit.
6) Atlanta Falcons signed Scott Pioli as an assistant to GM Thomas Dimitroff; the two used to work together in Foxboro.
5) Peyton Manning made $336,135 more per week this season than Russell Wilson made for the entire season. Think about that for a second. Wilson made less than $550,000 this year, Manning makes around $860,000 a game. Someone’s going to be writing Wilson a very big check very soon.
4) Debut of Horseplayers on the Esquire Channel Tuesday night seemed realistic for my experiences at the racetrack; have to see what KL Wheat says when he sees it. Esquire also has a show called Friday Night Tykes, about Pee Wee football in Texas. Can’t make myself watch that yet; youth sports is a whole different story for a whole another day. LOL
3) NBA teams are 5-6 vs spread in game after beating Miami Heat; 3-5 if favored, 2-1 if an underdog.
2) Three ACC games Tuesday were all played at a snail’s pace, with 61-59-58 possessions for each side.
Typcial game would be more like 68 possessions; with each possession 17.6 seconds, roughly half the shot clock. Trying to keep the ACC relevant in football has really hurt its basketball product, though adding Louisville next year will help. North Carolina's decline isn't helping any.
1) Walking the three blocks from my office to my car Tuesday at 4:00, my face was the coldest it has ever been. Ever. I’m beating a dead horse here, but having the Super Bowl in New Jersey at 6:30 pm on a Sunday night in February is just plain stoopid. Just. Plain. Stoopid. It’s the JPS Super Bowl.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Still shaking my head over Creighton’s demolition of Villanova Monday night; the video montage of Ethan Wragge making his first seven 3’s (first seven 3’s!!!!) is funny, because every time the ball goes in, Bill Raftery just laughs, like the ball going thru the net triggers a laugh track. The rematch in Omaha will be an interesting game.
12) DeAndre Jordan had seven dunks for the Clippers in Detroit Monday, the most by any NBA player in a game this season.
11) Part of John Beilein’s explanation for his team’s win at Wisconsin was, “…..the kid played with a lot of swag.” When John Beilein uses “swag” in a sentence, its time to put that word in the freakin’ dictionary.
10) Deadline for a major league team signing this Tanaka character is Friday; my question is this, is he any relation to former pro wrestler Professor Toru Tanaka? Mr Fuji? Tanaka was 24-0 in Japan LY; from what I read, he is less of a strikeout pitcher than Yu Darvish, but has a nasty splitter. He will be overpaid, for sure.
9) Other free agent pitchers are waiting for Tanaka to sign so they can hook up with a team; Ervin Santana is probably the best of those guys—he is said to be asking for a lot more money than his perceived value.
8) NFL should have a Constitutional Convention and totally re-do their rules, paring down the rule book to make the game simpler again.
Rules about how many guys can be on each side of the ball on field goal tries or on onside kicks are unnecessary; rules on not being able to advanced muffed punts make no sense.
Take the radios out of players’ helmets, if you’re worried about concussions. Don’t play Thursday night games if the team played the previous Sunday.
Seems like the league office, while well meaning, is trying to make the game perfect, which can’t be done, while also trying to make a fortune on the TV end of things. Time to go back in time a little and shrink the rulebook.
7) Roger Federer is 55-1 in his service games at the Australian Open; if Roger Goodell ran tennis, they might outlaw Federer serving, because its boring, just like he is talking about eliminating extra points in the NFL.
6) Evaluating college football players for the NFL Draft is an inexact science, but if game film isn’t one of your top criteria, I’m questioning how effective you can be in scouting. Workouts are nice, interviews can tell you stuff about a guy, but game film tells you whether or not the guy can play and that is what is most important.
5) Phillies signed pitcher Chad Gaudin, who was 5-2, 3.06 in 30 games (12 starts) for the Giants LY; solid long man, good sixth starter if you have an injury, the kind of guy who can help you win.
4) Seven of the 49ers’ eight Pro Bowl players decided to skip the NFL’s All-Star Game, which should be done away with anyway.
3) Since the NCAA tournament went to 64 teams in 1985, 15 of 116 (12.9%) #1 seeds failed to make the tournament the following year, last one being Pitt in 2012. Indiana has a chance to do that this year; UConn did it three of the previous 15 times, which is surprising.
2) If/when the Knicks fire Mike Woodson, they need to give the clipboard to Carmelo Anthony and let him coach the freakin’ team. Woodson has been dealt an unwinnable hand and is doing what he can with it, but handwriting is on the wall- he is gone, just a matter of when.
Phil Jackson, Pat Riley or Gregg Popovich couldn't win with this group of stiffs, and they would be too smart to try.
1) Very interesting contrast in the Super Bowl; Denver receivers had 2,583 yards after catch (YAC), an average of 161.4 yards/game, most in the NFL. Seattle allowed only 1,275 YAC, an average of 79.7 yards/game, least in the league.
Tuesday's List of 13: Random stuff on a winter day.....
13) NFL is considering eliminating the extra point, since only five out of roughly 1,200 kicks were missed this year. One suggested proposal involves a touchdown being worth seven points instead of six, with the potential for an extra play from scrimmage that would yield an eighth point, but if you did not get the 8th point, you would also lose a point, falling back to six. .
12) When Lions' QB Matthew Stafford was in high school, the center on his football team was Clayton Kershaw, the $215M man with the Dodgers.
11) Favorites are 26-19-2 vs spread in the history of the Super Bowl, but just 1-5 the last six years.
10) Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin is sitting out tonight's game with Edmonton, ending his iron man streak at 679 consecutive games.
9) Canucks' coach John Tortorella got 15 days (six games) without pay for his role in locker room fracas in Vancouver the other night- with a 17-day Olympic break starting February 9, Tortorella isn't going to be around his team very much between now and the beginning of March.
8) Nebraska 68, Ohio State 62-- Tim Miles is a good coach who built the program at North Dakota State and made Colorado State relevant- this was his first league win this season. Nebraska is sinking a lot of resources into its basketball program; Miles will make them a winner.
7) $98.9M bet in Nevada's sports books on last year's Super Bowl was a new record, first time in seven years their handle exceeded the year before.
6) Charlotte's Al Jefferson had 22 points, 19 rebounds Monday; in the first quarter, he had 10 points, 10 boards, making him the first player this year to get a double double in the first quarter of a game.
5) Speaking of the Bobcats, their 18-25 record would put them in the NBA playoffs, if those playoffs started today. Thats not good.
Meanwhile out west, Memphis/Denver are both 20-20, but would miss the playoffs if they started today. Oy.
4) Toronto Raptors' GM Masai Ujiri must love the Knicks; he used to be the Nuggets' GM; he was the guy who traded Carmelo Anthony and he also foisted Andrea Bargnani on New York. Guy is making a career out of taking the Knicks to the cleaners.
3) 24 overs, 23 unders in the first 47 Super Bowls, if you invest in totals.
2) Creighton 96, Villanova 68-- Bluejays lost at Providence Saturday, then made 21-35 treys in Philly last night, crushing the #4 Wildcats. Teams in this era are so erratic; Creighton was 4-19 on arc Saturday in Providence.
1) Super Bowl VI was held outdoors in New Orleans, at Tulane Stadium; it was 39 degrees at kickoff, making it the coldest Super Bowl ever, until this Sunday night. Colder the night, the better for Seattle, right?
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend......
13) Broncos 26, Patriots 16-- Nine years and counting without a title for the Patriots; in other words, no titles since Spygate. Denver had two drives that took over 7:00. The better team won.
12) Seahawks 23, 49ers 17-- Home team has now won 10 of last 11 series games between these two division rivals.
11) Twitter almost exploded after Richard Sherman's rant with Erin Andrews on the FOX post-game interview; most who had opinions sided along racial lines. My take: If you don't want to listen to him, beat him.
10) 98 underclassmen declared for the NFL Draft; there are seven rounds in the draft, 32 teams drafting, so that is 224 picks. Add in the 400+ seniors who would like to be drafted, and there will be a lot of disappointed young men when draft is over.
9) If you care about such things, Peyton Manning yelled "OMAHA" 33 times Sunday, raising $24,800 for his charity foundation. Eight companies kicked in $100 each for every time he said it in Sunday's game.
8) Coming into Sunday's game, Brady/Manning combined for 343 wins, the most combined wins for any two opposing starting QBs in a playoff game.
7) I was looking at a table with local NFL markets' TV ratings for their teams' games; not surprisingly, ratings paralleled teams' won-lost records. Seattle/Kansas City's ratings were way up; Atlanta/Houston's took a dive.
6) Oregon State 80, Oregon 72-- Ducks have now lost four games in row after starting season 13-0- they allowed 89.5 ppg in the four losses.
5) Looks like ESPN will dump Brent Musburger as the play/play guy on its #1 Saturday night college football game; they'd like him to work on their new SEC Network, which debuts in August. Chris Fowler is the favorite to replace Musburger; my opinion is that Rece Davis would be a better choice.
4) Some enterprising journalist needs to find former NC State football coach Tom O'Brien and ask him what went on between him and Russell Wilson that led to Wilson leaving NC State for Wisconsin, without having to sit out a year? O'Brien is now an assistant coach at Virginia.
3) This could happen; how about a second round NCAA tournament game with Minnesota-Louisville, Rick Pitino vs Richard Pitino? Good theater. Wonder who Mrs Pitino would be rooting for?
2) Apple commercial with Robin Williams narrating from Dead Poets' Society is excellent; whoever is doing Apple's commercials deserves a raise- the one they did at Christmas was also really well done.
1) Jimmy Sexton is an agent; he reps five of the 14 SEC football coaches, as well as Jimbo Fisher and Jim Mora; his 14 college coaches earned a total of around $20M this past season. He's the Scott Boras of college football.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Kansas 80, Oklahoma State 78-- Jayhawks led by 17 at half, held on to win; Smart was 0-6 from arc for OSU- rest of Cowboys were 12-22.
12) Aaron Rodgers was at the Oklahoma State-Kansas game; one of the things on his bucket list was seeing a basketball game in Lawrence.
11) Northwestern 54, Indiana 47-- You don't beat Wisconsin, then lose at home to the dreadful Wildcats. Too erratic. Hoosiers are a weird team.
10) Rhode Island 71, George Mason 69-- Rams were up 3 with 0;05 left, tried to foul intentionally, but kid threw up a 45-footer just as he was fouled, made all three foul shots to tie game. URI then won on free throws of their own with 0:00.7 left. Danny Hurley has improved the Rams.
9) Texas Tech is up 4-0 at TCU 4:00 into their game Saturday; big kid on TCU gets ball under the hoop and tries a fancy dunk; not only does he miss, he hangs on the rim and gets a technical. Brilliant!!! So now TCU goes into the first TV timeout scoreless, plus Tech got a foul shot coming out of the timeout. No wonder TCU is a football school.
8) Kid named Isaiah Austin on Baylor plays basketball with a prosthetic right eye, as the result of a childhood injury. Courageous young man.
7) USC is 0-5 in Pac-12 play, with 18 points the closest of the five losses; time to tell the assistants to skip games and go recruiting instead.
6) Only four of 14 San Antonio Spurs were born in this country, which is a telling thing; foreign players are less selfish, less spoiled and schooled better in the fundamentals of the game, there is no other way to say it.
5) Syracuse 59, Pitt 54-- 13-23 foul shooting doomed Pitt. Three of five Syracuse starters played all 40:00.
4) TV announcers were praising Arizona point guard TJ McConnell as a "great point guard..." like he is the second coming of Isiah Thomas; couple of years ago, kid was playing at Duquesne and no one could pick him out of a lineup. He is very good, he distributes the ball better than anyone Arizona has had in recent years, but calling him great just isn't accurate.
3) Fran Fraschilla pointed out on ESPN Saturday that the average D-I team rebounds 31-32% of its own missed shots; the best teams are around 45%.
2) My friend Dennis from Las Vegas says that since 1996, NFL teams that scored 40+ points in a playoff game are 3-22-2 vs spread in their next game.
1) 14 years ago today I was in St Louis at the NFC title game, watching the Rams beat Tampa Bay and move on to the Super Bowl. Just a tremendous day that I'll never forget. Conference championship games aren't as much fun when your favorite team isn't involved, but today should be good anyway.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) Donnie Walsh is one of NBA’s sharpest executives; he used to run the Knicks, but James Dolan let him go after the ill-advised trade for Carmelo Anthony (not Walsh’s idea) and now Walsh runs the 31-7 Pacers, who are on top of the Eastern Conference, while the 15-25 Knicks are both lousy and unwatchable, unless you like fadeaway 20-footers. This isn’t a coincidence.
12) A man in California was indicted for beating his wife with a vacuum cleaner. Prosecutors have yet to claim that a conviction is in the bag.
11) Golf Channel turned 19 years old Friday; they do a good job with European Tour stuff in addition to the PGA Tour and were smart enough to hire morning host Holly Sonders, who is amazingly beautiful, in addition to also being a pretty good golfer.
10) Clayton Kershaw and this Tanaka fellow who is coming over from Japan have the same agents; 4% of Kershaw’s $215M deal comes out to $8.6M; Tanaka figures out to score big too, so it’s a good year for their agents.
Elsewhere on the scumweasel front, CC Sabathia has signed with Jay Z, who apparently has no clients outside of New York City.
9) ESPN.com pointed out that St John’s-Butler-North Carolina-Temple, four programs with great history, have a combined 0-18 record in league play.
8) Speaking of struggling teams, before Lakers-Celtics met Friday night, their combined winning %age was .354, worst ever for any Laker-Celtic game.
7) Redskins are keeping Jim Haslett as defensive coordinator; I’m a big fan of his from his days as Rams’ interim coach. He was the unlucky bastard who was coach of the Saints when Katrina hit New Orleans, which wound up costing him that job. I’m glad Washington kept him.
6) Mark Reynolds turned down the Bronx Bombers to sign with Milwaukee? Interesting decision, seeing as Bronx has a big opening at third base for this coming season.
5) Stanford’s DC Derek Mason is the new football coach at Vanderbilt, where he becomes the smallish fish in very deep waters. He has a tough act to follow; James Franklin made the Commodores relevant and has already poached two of Vandy’s recruits for this year, with six more offers on the table. Mason needs to plug that leak and keep as many good players as he can in Nashville.
4) Someone counted last week; Peyton Manning yelled out “Omaha!!!” 44 times at the line of scrimmage last week, which thrills the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, which made a commercial featuring the calls.
3) If you don’t think this is a great country, consider that Trevor Plouffe will earn $2.35M this season, or $14,506 per game.
That’s Trevor freakin’ Plouffe, the Twins’ infielder. He hit .254 with 52 RBI and a .309 OB% LY. 2.35 million dollars. .309 OB%..
2) Funniest sports story of last year had to be Russian President Putin pocketing one of Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl rings, then turning and walking away; supposedly the ring is still in the Kremlin library. Wonder if Putin watches NFL games on the Sunday Ticket?
1) RIP Russell Johnson, the actor who played Professor Roy Hinkley on Gilligan’s Island, died at age 89 in the state of Washington. Russell was a war pilot who earned a Purple Heart in WWII after being shot down and becoming an actual castaway on an island.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here......
13) Scout for the Washington Nationals compared Cuba’s enthusiasm for baseball with way Alabama fans love college football, so I guess enthusiasm isn’t a strong enough word, seeing how Alabama gets 90,000 fans at its spring game.
Curious to see how many Cuban players come to the big leagues in the next few years—one non-defecting player is keeping 80% of his salary with 20% going to the Cuban baseball organization, which could be a wave of the future, and will result in more Cubans coming here to play ball.
12) Glad to see Charlie Manuel took a front office job with Philly, even after they canned him as manager last year. Manuel is a great hitting instructor, so guessing he could do some of that in the minor leagues.
11) There is an actual TV show called Treehouse Masters where they build custom tree houses for people and some of them are pretty nice. There are a lot of unusual TV shows out there.
10) Remember before the Raiders’ last game, when Terrelle Pryor’s agent claimed the Raiders wanted Pryor to be lousy in their last game so they could get rid of him? Well, Pryor fired the agent, so guess he wants to stay in Oakland- question becomes, do they want him?
9) Jack Del Rio’s son was a walk-on QB at Alabama this year; he transferred out and is rumored to be headed to Oregon State, which had offered him a scholarship coming out of high school.
8) Great to see Mike Zimmer get a chance to be a head coach; he has been an NFL coordinator since 2000, he has earned his chance. Saw him on Hard Knocks last summer and he seems like a good guy.
7) Norv Turner is headed to Minnesota to be offensive coordinator for Zimmer’s staff; Norv’s son Scott will be QB coach. That recipe worked so well for the Shanahans in Washington, no reason not to try it again.
6) Georgia hired DC Jeremy Pruitt away from Florida State; Pruitt has been on staff for the last three national champs, having worked at Alabama before FSU- he is seen as rising star in coaching.
5) Guy named Bo Davis was defensive line coach/recruiter at Texas the last three years, then moved on to USC earlier this month after Mack Brown got canned. He lasted a week at USC before bolting to Alabama, where he’ll work for his college coach Nick Saban, who he played for at LSU. Football coaches are gypsies, the way a lot of them bounce from job to job.
4) Forbes Magazine did an article that studied finances (coaches’ salaries, recruiting budgets) of college basketball programs, and decided that St Bonaventure’s Mark Schmitt was giving his school the most bang for its buck- Bonnies spent only $88,000 a win which seems like a lot, but is apparently the lowest figure amongst the D-I schools they studied.
3) My last word until next fall on the Jim Caldwell hire: Its really good to be friends with Tony Dungy.
2) Providence basketball team is down to playing six players; their game with St John’s was their first of three games in six days. Good luck there, and by the way, they need to go recruit more players, several more.
Friars beat St John's in double OT, as Red Storm blew 4-point lead in last 1:20 of the second OT- they're 0-5 in the Big East. .
1) So I’m reading a fantasy baseball magazine about Sabermetrics and how it can help you; the person who wrote it obviously knows a lot about Math, but then he references Cub pitcher Travis Wood and calls him right-handed, which would be true if only he wasn’t a lefty.
So now the author has no credibility and I’m not sure whether to dismiss the article or not. I love numbers, but I’m in the middle on advanced metrics; you still have to watch and see if a person can play- the eye test has to have meaning.
Would be nice if the math dude knew which hand a guy threw the ball with.
Thursday's List of 13: NFC teams' playoff histories
Arizona (5-6)—Had one playoff win before Kurt Warner got to the desert; the future Hall of Famer came very close to getting them a Lombardi Trophy. Home team won eight of their ten playoff games.
Atlanta (7-12)—Only 4-3 at home; were first road team to win a playoff game at Lambeau when Michael Vick was there. Home loss to 49ers LY was Niners’ first road playoff win since 1970.
Carolina (6-5)—Disappointing home loss last week, but came close to winning Super Bowl when Jake Delhomme was QB, so you figure Cam Newton will get it done eventually.
Chicago (10-13)—1-1 in Super Bowls; 14 of other 21 playoff games were at home. Their ’85 team allowed only 10 points in its three playoff wins. Still think they made a mistake firing Lovie Smith.
Dallas (33-25)—From ’66-’97, were 32-19 in playoff games; since then, they’re 1-6. Lost last seven road playoff games, with last road win 17-13 at Chicago in ’97.
Detroit (1-10)—One win in 47 years, a glorious 38-6 win over Dallas in ’91, under the tutelage of Wayne Fontes. In 47 years, they’ve hosted two playoff games, and are 0-9 on the road. Into this mess they bring Jim Caldwell, who once went 26-63 in eight years at Wake Forest, and didn’t win a Super Bowl while coaching Peyton Manning. Oy.
Green Bay (23-15)—Won first nine home playoff games in Super Bowl era, are 3-4 in last seven. Won Super Bowls with three different QBs (Starr-Favre-Rodgers).
Minnesota (19-27)— Have most playoff losses in Super Bowl era. Hiring Mike Zimmer is an excellent move. 0-4 in Super Bowls, 1-6 in last seven road playoff games, now they’re going to play home games outdoors again for two years while their new stadium gets built.
NJ Giants (20-11)—Since ’07, have only made playoffs three times, but won Super Bowl two of those three years (8-1 in last nine playoff games). Still can’t believe the Super Bowl is going to be in Swamp Stadium in two weeks. Not America’s most brilliant idea.
New Orleans (6-9)—Didn’t play a playoff game from 1967 until 1987, didn’t win one until 2000; are 1-6 in road playoff games, but won last five at home, after losing first three. Super Bowl IV was in New Orleans, but outdoors at old Tulane Stadium.
Philadelphia (15-19)—Lost last three home playoff games, with last win in ’06 over the Giants. Lost Super Bowl XV in 1981 under Coach Dick Vermeil, 19 years before Vermeil won a Super Bowl with the Rams.
St Louis (16-21)—Haven’t made tournament since ’04; are 4-1 in playoff games in Jones Dome, were 4-4 in California- they won division seven years in row in 70’s, should’ve won at least one title with that group.
San Francisco (29-18)—28-24 win at Atlanta LY was their first road playoff win since 1970; they’re now 4-9 in road playoff games, 20-8 at home, 5-1 in Super Bowls.
Seattle (10-12)—Won last seven home playoff games; if they make it #8, they go to their second Super Bowl- their first-ever playoff win was over Denver, a former AFC West rival who they could easily play in the Swamp February 2.
Tampa Bay (6-9)—Lost NFC title game in their 4th season, are still just 1-6 in road playoff games. Haven’t made playoffs since 2007, will get back soon under Tony Dungy disciple Lovie Smith.
Washington (21-13)—Won three Super Bowls with three different QBs, are 13-2 in home playoff games, losing to Seattle in ’12, Chicago in 1994. Jay Gruden was a head coach in the Arena League for eight years; he is an interesting hire.
Wednesday's List of 13: AFC teams' playoff histories
What follows is a study of AFC teams’ playoff records during the Super Bowl era (1966-2013). Ravens’ record includes the Browns up until 1995. Record in parentheses is total playoff record over last 47 years.
Baltimore (19-20)—Were 1-7 in road playoff games as the Browns, are 8-5 in Baltimore. Defense driven, won Super Bowls with Dilfer/Flacco at QB.
Buffalo (11-15)—Played in four straight Super Bowls, lost all four; 9-2 in home playoff games, 3-12 in road/neutral games. Cincinnati (5-12)—Lost last six playoff games, with last win in ’89. 0-8 all-time away from home in playoffs.
Cleveland (0-1) – New Browns’ greatest moment was 36-33 loss at Pittsburgh in ’02, their only playoff game; they keep firing coaches every year, it’ll be their only playoff game ever.
Denver (20-17)—14-4 in Mile High playoff games; 8-1 in first nine, 6-3 in last nine. Win this week at home and they go to their 7th Super Bowl (2-4).
Houston (2-2)—Home side won all four of their playoff games (2-0 at home, 0-2 on road). Now we’ll see what Bill O’Brien can do.
Indianapolis (18-20)—Took Manning few years to win his playoff game, so be patient with Luck; Colts are 2-6 in playoff games since beating Bears in Super Bowl seven years ago.
Jacksonville (5-6)—Tom Coughlin’s greatest work; played in AFC title game in second season, then hosted same game three years later, but lost both. 33-14 home loss to Titans in ’99 has to especially sting.
Kansas City (7-15)—Total of only seven playoff wins despite playing in two of first four Super Bowls. Are 2-5 in home playoff games; haven’t won in postseason in 20 years, losing last seven playoff games.
Miami (20-19)—Outscored 74-12 in last three playoff games; last playoff win was in ’01. 3-11 overall in playoff road games.
New England (25-16)—Sunday will be their first road playoff game in seven years, since 38-34 loss at Indy. Won three Super Bowls, none since Spygate.
NJ Jets (13-13)—Only seven of 26 games were played at home, with last one 41-0 win over Colts in ’02. Their win in Super Bowl III paved way for AFL-NFL merger.
Oakland (26-18)—Used to have a great history, now haven’t been in playoffs since 2002. Home teams are 31-8 SU in their non-Super Bowl playoff games- their last road playoff win was at San Diego. In 1980.
Pittsburgh (33-20)—9-3 in last 12 playoff games, have six Super Bowl titles, only three head coaches since 1969. Easy to forget that Neil O’Donnell once started a Super Bowl for them.
San Diego (10-13)—One of only two teams (Chiefs 2-7) with losing records in home playoff games during this era. Chargers are 7-6 in games decided by 7 or less points, 3-7 in games decided by more than seven.
Tennessee (12-18)—Best Oiler teams ran up against great Steel Curtain Steeler teams. Haven’t been to playoffs since ’08, haven’t won game there since ’03. Only 5-5 in home playoff games.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) Confidence is essential in being successful at anything; look at golfer Jimmy Walker. He goes winless for seven years on the PGA Tour, total of 197 tournaments, then wins two of his next six. Why?
Because now he believes he can win. He always had the talent, just needed that little nudge that told him he is good enough.
12) Bad news as expected for Colorado basketball: Spencer Dinwiddie is out for the year with a torn ACL. He was their best player- big loss.
11) Duke 69, Virginia 65-- Blue Devils were up 11 with 4:10 left, Virginia went up by a point, but Duke got a great bounce on a 3-ball from the corner and escaped with a win. You get the feeling, though that something is amiss with Duke- very little defensive presence inside.
10) Dunkin’ Donuts is expanding into California; does that mean In ‘n Out Burger or Jack in the Box might come east? Jack/Box has 24-hour breakfast—darned tasty.
9) Vin Scully doesn't have a Hall of Fame vote; how is that possible?
8) Cleveland Browns paid deposed coach Rob Chudzinski $10.5M to go away, that’s million, with an M. Wish someone would pay me to go away.
7) Irony Department: Peyton Manning’s first NFL playoff win was in 2003, 41-10 over…..the Broncos.
6) College/pro teams sometimes use search firms to find a new coach, which is total BS. What the hell is a GM/AD doing if he needs a firm to find a coach for him? These firms get 20-30% of the new coach’s first-year salary, which is a significant amount of money.
Sometimes its payola; the search firm puts the AD/GM in his job, then that exec uses the same firm to fill coaching vacancies, paying back the agency for getting him his job. No way in hell an NFL exec should use a search firm, it says you can’t do the job yourself.
5) Broncos-Patriots Sunday is only second time in last nine years the #1-2 seeds have met in AFC title game, and only fifth time in last nine years NFL-wide (out of 18 games).
4) Lions lost out on hiring Ken Whisenhunt; this is a franchise that in the 47 years of the Super Bowl era, has a playoff record of 1-10. One playoff win in 47 years, plus they once let Matt Millen run their franchise. Oy.
3) ESPN analyst/Duke alum Jay Williams ripped Maryland coach Mark Turgeon on–air Sunday night, as the Terps were getting drubbed by Florida State. He basically said Terps play too tight because Turgeon takes guys out after they make mistakes; does Williams think Coach K is a highly tolerant leader who laughs off his players' miscues?
Unusual for an analyst to go after a coach like that; not sure if its because Maryland is bolting the ACC, but I’m sure it hit some exposed nerves in Maryland, especially coming from a Duke alum.
2) One of the great stories is from former LSU QB Rohan Davey, who also was a backup for the Patriots for a while.
He said that when the Tigers came out of the tunnel to start a Saturday night game in Baton Rouge, “…you could smell the bourbon in the air.”
Nick Saban paraphrased that story in speech to football coaches Monday. If you’ve never seen an SEC game in person, it really is quite an experience- if you love college football or a good party or both, I highly recommend it.
1) Two QBs in AFC title game are making a combined $52M this season; two QBs in NFC title game are making a combined $1,266,000. Yikes.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a winter weekend....
13) Early lines for next Sunday's conference title games:
Denver -6.5 over New England.....Seattle -3.5 over San Francisco, which will be playing on the road for the fourth week in a row.
12) Turns out when Jim Harbaugh got flagged for being on field after Vernon Davis' TD, he wasn't arguing that Davis was in bounds, he saw the clock kept running after the whistle, from 0;09 to 0:05, and if the play had been ruled incomplete, that would've cost the 49ers an extra play.
11) Washington 71, Colorado 54-- Loss is irrelevant for Buffs, who lost star guard Spencer Dinwiddie (knee) for the year, the one thing they couldn't have happen. Other than Askia Booker, Colorado is now VERY young.
10) There is a guy in Utah who has four wives, all at once. Is this guy the biggest glutton for punishment ever? He had to go to court to make it legal-- this poor bastard must never get the remote control.
9) Rockets-Wizards NBA game in Washington Saturday had two rain delays, because it waas raining out and the Wizards' arena has a leaky roof.
8) Eagles' WR DeSean Jackson had $250K worth of stuff stolen out of his home this weekend; it was supposedly in a safe. Apparently he needs a new safe, or he shouldn't tell people the combination, but now he has offered a $50,000 reward for the return of the stolen stuff, which includes jewelry and a gun. If someone stole my entire house, they wouldn't get $250,000.
7) Big Ten Network runs a commercial touting Northwestern as the Big Ten's school in Chicago, but the Wildcats don't have any kids from Chicago on their basketball team. Maybe Chris Collins should recruit some.
6) Of the last 26 Heisman Trophy winners, the only QB to win an NFL playoff game is??????.............Tim Tebow. Go figure.
5) So if Steve Alford didn't get the UCLA job, he'd still be at New Mexico, and so would his son, Bryce, who is a very promising freshman. But then Craig Neal would still be an assistant coach, and his son Cullen would be playing at St Mary's instead of New Mexico, so Gaels lost a solid recruit because UCLA hired a new coach. Life can be funny sometimes.
4) Pitt lost 6-6 soph Durand Johnson (ACL) for the year, which hurts their depth- he was averaging 8.8 ppg in 19.8 mpg.
3) Chicago Bears fired their DL coach and LB coach, but kept their DB coach and the defensive coordinator- their front seven must've been awful. .
2) Appaently Alex Rodriguez can go to spring training this year; he isn't officially suspended until the season starts, but what does Bomber brass do with him? He is still owed $61M from 2015-17, but he can't play this year, so do they send him to the minor league camp? Play him in the major league exhibition games? Interesting question that treads unchartered waters.
1) Funniest thing about this whole ARod debacle will be watching Bronx Bomber fans rip ARod and wish he was retired; well, Bombers have won one World Series since 2000, one in the last 13 years. Same as the Marlins.
In that postseason, ARod came to the plate 68 times, reached base 34 times, with six HRs, 18 RBI, 15 runs scored. In 15 games. So while you hope the door doesn't hit his butt on his way out, at least appreciate him for helping you win the last World Series Bronx might win for quite a while.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) Syracuse 57, North Carolina 45-- Tar Heels are 0-3 in ACC; there are fifteen teams in the league- North Carolina is 15th. Talent is spread so thin around the country that losing PJ Hairston has crippled UNC.
12) Oklahoma 87, Iowa State 82-- Sooners were 13-30 from arc, Iowa St. was 6-26; OU was +10 on foul line and still only won by five. Kane turned his ankle but x-rays were negative. Iowa State plays Kansas next.
11) Clemson 72, Duke 59-- Teams are so wildly erratic now; Tigers lost by 15 at home to Florida State Thursday, then this. Duke is 0-2 on ACC road, only two true road games they've played this season.
10) Villanova 74, St John's 67-- At some point, New York media is going to figure out that Steve Lavin is a great guy but not a very good coach. This was a game that was there for the Red Storm to win, they couldn't. Lavin is in his 4th year at St John's- he is 27-34 in conference play.
9) Mississippi State 76, Ole Miss 72-- Bulldogs took advantage of the last game of Marshall Henderson's suspension to upset their in-state rivals, who have a decent amount of talent surrounding Henderson. State outscored them 15-6 in last 5:00 of this game.
8) California 88, Oregon State 83-- Beavers honored Gary Payton at the half, when they led Cal by 10, then they fell apart in second half. Could be Craig Robinson's seat is getting a little hot in Corvallis-- he is 35-67 against Pac-12 opponents-- this is his sixth season at Oregon State.
7) Wichita State 72, Missouri State 69 ot-- Shockers were down 18 at half, rallied to stay unbeaten- they were still down 4 with 1:00 to go. Even on the road and playing from behind, Wichita outscored Bears 31-11 on the line.
6) Nevada 62, Utah State 54-- Wolf Pack upsets Utah State, is surprise 4-0 and on top in Mountain West. Deonte Burton is Nevada's best player; he is amongst nation's leaders in minutes played.
5) Tex-San Antonio 85, Charlotte 77-- Roadrunners open their first year in C-USA by winning SU as home underdogs of 8 and 11.5 points. Not bad.
4) Portland State 81, Montana State 78, 3ot-- Griz is now 1-3 in Big Sky, as Northern Colorado has emerged as Weber State's top challenger at top of league. Vikings were 12-27 from arc- big win for them.
3) Virginia 76, NC State 45-- Cavaliers lost by 35 at Tennessee in its last pre-conference game, then won first three ACC games by 12-23-31- they ran out to a 30-9 lead in this game. Not a lot of consistent teams right now.
2) Georgetown 70, Butler 67 ot-- Bulldogs are 0-4 in Big East with three losses in OT- they outscored Hoyas 25-8 on foul line but were 2-21 from arc. Early returns suggest the AAC is better than the Big East right now.
1) Bad Beat of the Day: Minnesota (+10.5) loses 87-75 in OT at Michigan State. Gophers scored late in regulation to force OT. Richard Pitino has an improved team, but is 2-2 in league, with two close losses. If you invested in the Gophers in this game, the gambling gods owe you one.
Saturday's List of 13: Ranking the months of the year....
I do this once a year or so; seems like a good idea at the start, then I can never decide about the rankings. Anyway, here is this year's ranking.......
12) January—Dog days of winter; if not for MLK Day (a welcome Monday off) this month would be even worse. NFL is basically over, Super Bowl is next month. All you got is conference play in college basketball and some golf-NBA-NHL. Actually, next year, January’s rating could pass February, if the college football playoff is as big as I think it’ll be, but that is next year. There is nothing worse than 31 days of January weather.
11) February—Similar to January, just three less days; horrible weather, the same sports, but at least spring training and NASCAR start later in the month, which helps some. Plus it gets dark later in February, which is also good and now the Super Bowl is this month.
10) May—Not lot going on in May, though they did move NFL Draft there this year; NBA/NHL playoffs wind down and there is Memorial Day weekend, but its mostly a baseball/golf month, with improving weather.
9) June—Not a lot happens in June, but the weather is usually really good and I get a lot of research done. Getting married in June turned out to be a bad idea (for her), but that’s over and done with.
8) March—NCAA tournament is my favorite event of the year, but it’s the end of winter weather, spring training baseball can only take us so far, so this month still lags behind the rest. If I lived in Arizona/Florida, this might be near the top of the list, with exhibition baseball games to go to every day.
7) November—Very, very busy month for this website; college football, NFL, NBA-NHL, college basketball. There will be some changes this coming fall to how I deal with November here. I get three holidays this month which helps, but the weather also gets worse and it often snows in November. Snow is not something I enjoy.
6) April—First couple weeks of baseball are a breath of fresh air after winter, which jumps this month over May; NHL-NBA playoffs start and first two rounds are kind of busy, plus I always take a Las Vegas vacation this month, which never hurts.
They also release the NFL schedule in April, so research for the fall can begin. Any month win an annual Vegas vacation gets a boost.
5) December—Almost as busy as November, but throw in Christmas, New Year’s Eve, bowl games, my birthday and an annual trip to Las Vegas and you get an improved rating. Weather can be hideous, but people put up lights and sing songs, which helps. Plus this December I’ll be retiring from my day job, which could make it Month #1 for 2014.
4) August—Socially in Albany, August is the best month of the year, which is like being the tallest guy in a midget colony. Saratoga race track makes this area a social hot spot for most of the month, there’s always stuff to do at night and the weather is still good. Plus NFL preseason games are on and we’re getting ready for college football.
3) October—This is lightest month of the year for this website; you have baseball playoffs, football, golf is winding down with an occasional trip to the desert (I highly recommend Halloween in Las Vegas—it is TREMENDOUS). NHL is starting up.
October is a month to recharge for the busy two months that follow it.
2) September—Love it when football season starts; baseball season is winding down, it is still summer weather, plus you get to laugh at the kids going back to school, since we remember how much we hated that when we were kids.
1) July—I spend couple weeks in Las Vegas every summer, going to NBA Summer League games at UNLV; underrated, affordable fun. Plus it is indoors and Vegas is way hot in July. Like 112 or 113 degrees hot.
Racetrack starts in Saratoga when I get home, and we start prepping for football season. Every day is warm in July and there’s a lot to do.
To me, July is the best month of the year.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.....
13) Redskins hired Jay Gruden as their new head coach; he used to be a coach in the Arena League, but quit to go back to playing QB on a different team, probably only time that’s ever happened. Washington will apparently keep Jim Haslett as defensive coordinator.
12) Not sure how Bengals’ DC Mike Zimmer isn't a head coach? Does he not interview well? I heard him talk on HBO’s Hard Knocks, seems fairly normal; he is the only person who has been an NFL coordinator every year since 2000, without becoming a HC, demoted or unemployed.
11) In college ball, Alabama OC Doug Nussmeier moves on to Michigan, where he can tutor fellow lefty tosser Shane Morris. Nussmeier was a fine QB at Idaho and was a backup QB with the Saints. Would guess Gardner goes back to WR for Michigan, but that’s not based on anything they said, just makes sense for a lefty OC to be coaching a lefty QB.
10) Apparently Alabama let Nussmeier walk because Nick Saban wants to bring Lane Kiffin in as OC, all of which could make the third Saturday in October a lot more interesting, when the Tide traditionally plays Tennessee, Kiffin’s old team.
9) UAB’s head coach Garrick Magee quit to become Bobby Petrino’s OC at Louisville; now there’s a slap in the face, quitting as a I-A head coach to become an offensive coordinator. Maybe he was just beating the posse out of town, since the Blazers were 5-19 under Magee’s watch.
8) Petrino is making $24.5M for seven years at Louisville, with a $10M buyout; who else would hire this disloyal human? Western Kentucky is second team he’s quit on in $hort order for greener pa$ture$.
7) Want to feel warmer? Dodgers-Padres are ESPN’s first Sunday night game on March 30. Opening Day is the 31st; LA-Arizona are playing two games that count in Australia before that, so the Dodgers will play three games before 27 other teams play their season opener.
6) Knicks have to trade JR Smith, no matter how bad a loss they take on the deal; he basically gave Mike Woodson the finger when he untied a Philly player’s shoelace after being explicitly by Woodson told not to do that anymore. Lack of respect is a deal-breaker; even if they cut him, he has to go.
5) Fordham lost 87-81 at Duquesne Wednesday; they had an odd stat line, making 16-41 from arc, 10-30 inside arc, 13-22 on foul line. Not very often a team takes 40+ treys in a 40:00 game.
4) If you care about such things, Pete Rose will be signing autographs at Art of Music in Mandalay Place in Las Vegas on February 1, then every day from Feb. 9th til the end of the month. There is a very good pizza place called Slice of Pizza right down the hall from Art of Music, probably a better investment than paying $75 to get Pete’s autograph.
3) New Jersey Giant starters lost 91 games to injuries this past regular season, most of any team in the NFL.
2) 16 people didn’t vote for Greg Maddux for the Hall of Fame. It’s a free country and those people are entitled to do as they please, but that doesn’t mean it makes an ounce of sense.
1) If DirecTV carries the new WWE Network but still doesn’t have the Pac-12 Network, someone’s getting a phone call.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Popular wisdom is that the first round byes are a huge advantage in NFL playoffs, but over last eight years, #1 seeds are just 7-9 SU in this round of the playoffs, 4-12 vs spread. That’s a fairly big sample size, eight years. Lot of pressure on the #1 seeds to take advantage of their strong position; doesn’t happen every year.
12) Over last three years, #2 seeds, who also get the coveted bye, are 6-0 SU, 5-1 vs spread, and the non-cover was by half a point.
11) They’re talking about expanding the NFL playoffs to 14 teams, which would eliminate byes for the #2 seeds. Sounds like a ploy to fatten the network TV contracts, which means it was probably Jerry Jones’ idea.
10) Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the writer who didn’t vote for Greg Maddux for the Hall of Fame because he played in the steroids era voted for Jack Morris, who also pitched part of his career in that era. Anyone who things Morris was close to being as good as Maddux is just wrong. I’m not sure how anyone can leave Maddux off his ballot.
9) Gaylord Perry wrote a book that chronicled how he cheated as a Major Leaguer and he is in the Hall of Fame, so not sure how you can keep the steroids guys out. Cheating is cheating, no?
8) Louisville brought Bobby Petrino back as football coach, which is tough to justify from a PR standpoint but from a pure football standpoint is a strong move. Now they just have to keep him off his motorcycle and away from job ads on the Internet. All that matters is winning, and Petrino wins.
7) Next year’s Western Kentucky-Arkansas State football game will feature a school on its third coach in three years against a school on its fifth coach in five years. Game should be sponsored by Kinko’s and a moving van company.
6) If you don’t think big-time sports help a school’s overall profile, consider this: applications to attend Florida Gulf Coast are 35% higher this year than they were at this time last year. 35% higher. Think last year’s wins in the NCAA tournament helped at all?
5) The older San Diego State’s Steve Fisher gets, the more he looks like the late John Wooden. Fisher is this generation’s Jerry Tarkanian, building a great program at a school with zero basketball tradition while taking a lot of transfers. He is a great coach.
4) Do the President and Vice-President ever drive a car during their time in office? The consensus of people I’ve asked is no, although GW Bush drove a truck on his ranch during his vacations. I wouldn’t want to go eight years without driving, even if I did have a staff at my beck and call.
3) So If the Prez and VP don’t drive, then they don’t have to pay car insurance, right? That means they have to re-apply for insurance when they become civilians again, right? Would someone dare turn a down a man in his 60’s who hasn’t driven in eight years?
\2) It would be very cool to own the car the President owned before he became President; am assuming he sells it, since he won’t be using it while in office. You don't think his car sits in a garage for eight years, do you?
1) By the way, I would like a vote for the Hall of Fame; I watch as much baseball as humanly possible, 6+ hours a day seven days a week for six months. I’m pretty sure I’d know enough to vote for Greg Maddux, at least.
Wednesday's List of 13: Ranking the NFL survivors.......
13) You’d think Jimbo Fisher would take a nice vacation after Florida State won national title, but January is a huge recruiting month; college football coaches recruit their butts off up until Signing Day, which I think is February 5 this year. You want to win games, you better recruit well, and this is the main month for that. Monday night’s win was a pretty good infomercial for the Seminoles, don’t ya think?
12) Average attendance for the 35 bowls this year was 48,793, lowest since 1979. Addition of several minor bowls have hurt the overall average, and there’s going to be three more next year, including one in the Bahamas.
11) Surprised no one has scooped up Johan Santana as a free agent this winter; he should be healthy after arm surgery in 2011, not sure what kind of $$ he is asking for, but he’s going to help someone.
10) San Diego State’s basketball win at Kansas Sunday is a boost for the whole Mountain West Conference, raising the Aztecs’ profile, so every team that beats them also gets a lift. Could result in the league getting an additional bid on Selection Sunday.
9) Let me see, the college football title game was in Pasadena; the Super Bowl is in New Jersey. Advantage, college football.
Ranking the eight remaining NFL playoff teams……
8) Colts—Looked very dead when down 38-10 at home Sunday. Indy rallied to win, now head to frigid Foxboro this week. Since 2001, Belichick is 8-1 in this round, 4-4-1 vs spread.
7) Chargers—Last four Super Bowl champs were the Eagles’ opponent in their home opener. Chargers were that team this year. I’m just sayin’….
6) Saints—Got their first-ever road playoff win in Philly, go for two in row this week; their worst game this season was a 34-7 primetime loss at Seattle in Week 13- they'll play better this week. Will it be enough?
5) Patriots—At some point the Patriots’ negligence in surrounding Brady with good skill people is going to bite them; they can beat Houston/Cleveland with what they have, but not elite teams. I’m saying they go out next week.
4) 49ers— Lost 10-9 at home to Carolina in Week x. Facing a much tougher defense and a more mobile QB this week. At least the weather will be better.
3) Panthers—Home underdogs against a team they already beat after they get a bye? Something tells me Ron Rivera is playing the “no respect” card this week.
2) Seahawks—Bengals were dominant at home this year; look how much good it did them in playoffs. Saints already got squashed here once this year, Seahawks go for the sweep Saturday.
1) Broncos—Wonder if Manning would’ve rather faced the Chargers or his old team the Colts here? My theory has always been that divisional rivalries are more likely to provide upsets, so if I was a Denver fan, I’d rather they’d have played the Colts. San Diego is on a serious roll right now, and McCoy worked with #18 for a year, so that’s an advantage.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde pointed out Monday that new Texas football coach Charlie Strong has always shunned the non-football parts of coaching, which often take up a lot of time at a bigtime college program.
Forde says if Strong doesn’t adjust those ways at Texas, which has its own TV network, his stay in Austin might not be a happy one. Coaches have a lot of off-field responsibility at a place like Texas, which is why the coach makes $5M a year. No one doubts that Strong can/will win with Longhorns, but part of his job is to help keep his rabid fanbase informed, and that ain’t always been something he has embraced at Louisville.
12) If you like watching coaches flip out, check out highlights of Iowa-Wisconsin Sunday night, when Hawkeye coach Fran McCaffery loses his mind in Madison and gets tossed, while his team has a lead, which it then lost, never to regain. This isn’t the first anger management episode for McCaffery, who voiced a displeasure for overly physical play whole coaching here in Albany for Siena.
If you don’t like physical play, why in the name of Rick Mahorn would you go coach in the Big Dozen, where Michigan State occasionally practices in shoulder pads?
Hawkeyes have a nice team; they need their coach to have more poise.
11) Marshawn Lynch gets fined $50,000 for not talking to the press; someone buy this guy a copy of Bull Durham, so he can watch the scene where Kevin Costner instructs Tim Robbins on the art of the using boring clichés in interviews. Why spent thousands of dollars when you don’t have to? You think Belichick likes talking to the press? No, so he bores them to death with cliches, and saves his money.
10) Sometimes life is simple: I’m looking at hotels for a future vacation- one place has an actual landing pad for helicopters. I correctly decide that this place is too expensive for me. On to the next choice.
9) Legitimate question: I’d love to know if Brad Stevens is enjoying himself coaching the Celtics. Not the wins/losses, we can see those in the paper, but the mechanics of the job, compared to coaching Butler, which looks to be in very deep water (at least this year) in the new Big East.
8) Knicks are 8-2 when Carmelo Anthony has 4+ assists in a game, 3-17 when he does not. Not only does he have to move the ball, the person he moves it to has to make the shot. Iman Shumpert had an excellent Texas swing last week; can he keep it up?
7) Dolphins’ coach Joe Philbin fired offensive coordinator Mike Sherman Monday, which had to be a sad day, since Sherman was Philbin's English teacher in high school. Am guessing that decision came from up above.
6) Lot of underclassmen WRs declared for the draft this weekend; the Combine will be very interesting the day they all work out. Draft is going to be very deep at that position.
5) Excellent decision by UCLA’s Brett Hundley to come back to school for his junior year; QB’s need to stay in school and play as many games as possible, so they’re game-ready when they get to the pros. Bill Parcells didn’t like drafting QBs who had played less than three years in college.
4) There is a TV show called “Bad Ink” about a business that fixes bad tattoos. Will check it out and report back; it has to be better than lot of those other fabricated “reality” shows, which aren’t very real at all.
3) Auburn coach Gus Malzahn cashed in $575K in bonuses this year, in his first year at Auburn. Malzahn used to be a high school coach; he must think he hit the freakin’ lottery, but he would have added another $625K last night if Auburn had hung on for the win in what was a great game.
2) If you like to read good writing, really good writing, check out Joe Posnanski, either on Twitter or on his blog. He might be the best sportswriter in America right now.
1) Now that the games are over in college football until August, the real competition starts for the next four weeks; recruiting season. Games in 2018 and 2019 will be decided by where high school kids decide to go to college over the next four weeks. It is highly competitive stuff; a book called Meat Market is the best book I’ve ever read about recruiting. If you like college football, its well worth your time.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) Colts 45, Chiefs 44-- KC started season 9-0, wound up 11-6, blowing 38-10 lead here, which almost never happens. Considering they were 2-14 last year, this was a great season, but a bitter ending.....Chargers' win keeps a Manning-Colts playoff game from happening, at least this week.
12) Saints 26, Eagles 24-- New Orleans had 434-256 edge in total yardage, but needed FG at gun to win it. Saints are now 1-5 in road playoff games in their 47-year history. Eagles only ran the ball for 80 yards.
11) Chargers 27, Bengals 10-- Cincy won/covered all eight home games in regular season, then went -4 in turnovers here. Dalton had an awful game for a team that hasn't won a playoff game since 1990, before the Internet existed. If you want to criticize Marvin Lewis, check out the Bengals' history before he became their coach-- very, very ugly.
10) 49ers 23, Packers 20-- Kaepernick's running was difference-maker in a very interesting game. All three home teams who played outdoors got beat; Colts were only home winner, and they were down 38-10.
9) This is first time in ACC basketball history that Duke/North Carolina/ NC State all lost their conference opener in same season.
8) Early leader for best new word of 2014: Twidicule-- getting ripped on Twitter. If you're not on Twitter, you're missing out- it can be great fun, lot of information out there. Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing.
7) UCLA 107, USC 73-- Steve Alford wins first Battle of LA with Andy Enfield, who doesn't have near enough good players right now. Eventually he will, then these games will become must-watch TV.
6) Wake Forest 73, North Carolina 67-- Deacons survived 19-33 shooting on line to win here. Tar Heels are as erratic as any team I can remember, but this is a big win for Jeff Bzdelik, who has lot of critics in Winston-Salem.
5) Just when you thought Southern Illinois' basketball season couldn't get worse, their team bus got stranded in heavy snow on I-57 Sunday night, after Salukis got pounded by Illinois State. They're expected to stay on the bus overnight, with enough food/gas to remain safe.
SIU is 4-11, their coach Barry Hinson became an Intermet sensation when he publicly ripped the players who didn't hide their disdain for him- the coach's son-in-law tragically died two days later. Hinson and two assistants went recruiting after the game and aren't on the bus. Must be a happy group.
4) Odd fact; in 1972, Miami Dolphins went 17-0, the last undefeated team in the NFL, but they had to win the AFC title game at Pittsburgh. Anyone remember how they decided home field for playoffs back then? I can't.
3) FOX Sports1 is keeping Bill Raftery busy; he did two games on New Year's Eve (St John's-Xavier/Villanova-Butler), did Oregon-Colorado game Sunday. Good to hear Raftery doing games outside the east-- think he's the best analyst on college hoop right now-- him and Greg Anthony.
2) Pro sports teams often bring motivational speakers in the night before a big game, to get the players focused; 49ers brought in Ric Flair to speak to the squad Saturday night. If you don't know, Flair is a former pro wrestler, who is a bigger than life personality with the catch phrase, "To be the man, you gotta beat the man!"
Dustin Pedroia gave his thumbs-up on Twitter for Flair as a motivational speaker; can't argue with the results, 49ers got a big road win.
1) RIP Mr Jerry Coleman, an American hero who was a Marine pilot in two wars, as well as a terrific second baseman and later an announcer for 30+ years, mostly with the Padres, passed away Sunday at age 89.
If you ever heard him on the air, you could tell he was a very nice man with a sense of humor and keen wit. But flying in two wars, that takes onions man, flying a plane when people are trying to shoot you down. RIP, sir.
Sunday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a winter day........
13) Quite a day for the NFL, with two tremendous playoff games; feel bad for Chief fans, going two decades without a playoff win and then having this happen, blowing a 38-10 lead in the second half. Colts face Denver if the Bengals win Sunday.
12) 10 of the last 13 Super Bowl winners won at least one road playoff game that season.
11) Titans fired Mike Munchak; not sure what took them so long, or if he wants the Penn State job, or if Penn State wants him. Not saying Munchak deserved to be fired, but generally those moves are made little more quickly.
10) If you care about such things, favorites covered the last six national title games in college football.
9) Pitt 74, NC State 62-- Panthers fell behind 17-2 on road in their first-ever ACC basketball game, then stormed from behind to win.
8) Georgetown 77, St John's 60-- Someone at ESPN is going to lose their job when Steve Lavin returns to the network in a year or two. This game was 42-16 at halftime, and Georgetown isn't that good.
7) University of Portland has a machine that tracks the arc of a shooter's shot as he practices; guy on TV said 43 degrees is ideal. Alrighty then.
6) College basketball refs lean on replay way too much; there are three of them, how can they have to look at so many replays?
5) Indirect effect of Syracuse going to ACC: local channel 51, which no one watches, picked up Saturday noon ACC basketball package, probably because Syracuse is now in the ACC. They never had this package before. I live two hours east of Syracuse; lot of Orange fans here.
4) East Carolina-Tulane-Tulsa are joining the AAC next year, replacing Louisville/Rutgers. This ain't a positive move for the league, especially when it comes to basketball. Not a lot of tradition there.
3) Knicks lost Friday night after JR Smith jacked a 3 with 0:21 left and score tied; they could've held ball for last shot. He said he thought the Knicks were losing, which explains a lot about JR Smith-- low basketball IQ.
2) Looking forward to the USC-UCLA hoop game this afternoon; first meeting between Enfield-Alford, in what should be an excellent rivalry. It is already a big rivalry in the recruiting arena; now we'll see it on the court.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars finished 4-12; all four teams they beat fired their coach. Thats a bad season.
Saturday's List of 13: Idle stuff on a frigid night........
13) Excellent night of college football; too bad the two games were on at the same time. Then again, watching the Clemson game saved me from muting Gus Johnson on FOX.
12) How do people who drive the snow plows get to work?
11) Bill DiBlasio, the new mayor of New York City, looks at least a little bit like Rex Ryan.
10) Going forward, Alabama is going to see a lot of no-huddle offenses; they'll adjust, because Nick Saban is smart, but they looked shaky in both Auburn, Oklahoma games when the other offense went real fast.
9) Surprised to see the Ivy League ranked as the #13 college hoop league right now; thats as high as I an remember them being ranked.
8) If you care about such things, under is 19-12-1 with three bowls left to go this season.
7) Of the 12 NFL playoff teams, Seattle (36), Carolina (42) allowed the least amount of 20+ yard plays; Chiefs (78), Packers (77), Denver (75) allowed the most.
6) On offense, Eagles led with 99 plays of 20+ yards; Carolina has the least of the 12 playoff teams, with 43.
5) Chargers (-4), Packers (-3) are only two playoff teams with negative turnover ratios.
4) NFL assigned referee Jeff Triplette to the Charger-Bengal game, which is surprising, since it is generally thought that Triplette is one of the worst refs the NFL has. Feel bad for the refs in Green Bay- they're going to freeze their butts off.
3) Last time the AFC West had three playoff teams was '93, with Chiefs, Broncos and the LA Raiders.
2) If you like pro basketball, check out the D-League some night; their games are shown on a channel on YouTube for free. Watched a game tonight; it is like the NBA, except there are no stars to dominate the ball. Fun to watch.
1) It is 6 below zero outside as I type this; it is 29 days before the Super Bowl; can you imagine if the Super Bowl was in New Jersey this weekend? It would be a debacle, 75,000 people paying huge money to freeze their butts off. Miami-New Orleans-Tampa-Phoenix; there's your Super Bowl rotation.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff on a snowy day........
13) Chicago Bears locked up Jay Cutler thru 2020 with a new contract; whether you like the signing or not, have to like the decisive nature of it. They didn’t leave anyone hanging and now have their future course plotted. All Cutler has to do now is play better, a lot better.
12) It also means no starting QBs will be free agents this winter; only way to upgrade at QB is thru the draft or getting lucky with a backup/free agent.
11) If you look at NFL Wild Card games over the last 10 years, favorites are 14-6 vs spread in the games involving the #’s 3-6 seeds.
10) Over last two years, favorites are 4-0 vs spread in games where spread was 4 or less points. This is the 4th time in five years the NFC’s #5 seed is favored over the 4-seed, but the #4 seed won four of last five years.
9) Bowl losers who return to the same bowl the next year are 14-14 vs spread; 6-5 if favored, 8-9 if the underdog.
8) Toronto Raptors have gotten better since trading leading scorer Rudy Gay to the Kings; in their first ten games without Gay, Raptors were 7-3 and averaging 30 more passes per game. Ball moves better when one guy isn’t taking the majority of the shots.
7) You see a college basketball score that surprises you, check out the box score; Pepperdine upset BYU the other night. Waves were 13-24 from the arc, BYU 1-11. That’s how upsets happen.
6) Creighton had odd numbers in its easy win over Marquette Tuesday; Bluejays were just 4-4 from foul line and 12-27 inside the arc, but made 13-35 outside the arc. Rarely does a team with almost no offense inside win so easily, but Creighton beat Marquette by 18 in its Big East debut.
5) Over the last 14 years, Dallas Cowboys are 2-12 in Week 17; in a league where very few teams have a big margin for error, this is very bad.
4) Oregon State/Texas Tech both lost their last five regular season games, then went out and won their bowl games easily. Go figure. Handicapping bowls can be a very frustrating experience.
3) Not pleased with people bashing Bill O’Brien for leaving Penn State. No way was he told the truth when they hired him, about how deep the trouble was they were in with the NCAA. He busted his butt for two years, kept the Lions relevant and now has moved on to a much better job in the NFL, with a team that was a division favorite four months ago. Penn State can't go to a bowl until 2016, when current freshmen are juniors/seniors.
It’s a business, plain and simple. If O’Brien doesn’t win games, he's going to get fired; he has to make as much money as he can, while he can.
2) Hard to believe, but Chargers didn’t play games on artificial turf this season and Chiefs only played one; both teams are on carpet this weekend.
1) Tip of the cap to retiring linebacker London Fletcher, who played 16 games a year for 16 years, after playing D-III ball in college at John Carroll (Don Shula’s alma mater). Fletcher won a Super Bowl ring with the Rams; he had a terrific career that he should be very proud of.
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) New Year's Day used to be one of the best days of the year, culmination of the college football season, but the BCS system put an end to that. Not sure why they have four early games on at once with the Rose Bowl/Fiesta Bowl on TV unopposed, but thats the way things are.
Curious to see how things change next year with the new playoff system.
12) NHL struck gold with its outdoor games; 105,491 fans sat in the snow all day and watched Toronto beat Detroit in a shootout. It was estimated that almost half the fans came across the border to root for the Leafs. Road team is now 6-2 in NHL's outdoor games.
11) Mike Emrick is the best play-by-play announcer in any sport; its a treat to listen to his enthusiasm calling a game.
10) Buccaneers finally got it right and hired Lovie Smith; Tampa Bay is at Chicago next year- expect to see it as an early season primetime game.
9) Liked seeing injured LSU QB Zach Mettenberger wearing a headset, taking notes during the Tigers' bowl game; too often, injured players seem like an outcast on the sidelines. Mettenberger was like an assistant coach; it had to help young QB Anthony Jennings in his first college start.
8) You wonder if coaches at Georgia/LSU weren't totally unhappy about playing young QBs in their bowl games; it gives them a head start on next season. Its sad for a senior QB to miss out playing in his last bowl, but next fall, the experience those two QBs got Wednesday will be a big help.
7) South Carolina RB Bruce Ellington made a couple excellent catches in the Gamecocks' win over Wisconsin; easy to visualize him as a player similar to Dexter McClusker of the Chiefs, a dependable 3rd down back.
6) ESPN GameDay needs to do a profile on Mrs Jim Mora; her husband was a terrific NFL coach who became famous thru post-game sound bites; Jim Jr is a terrific coach at UCLA who seems a lot more pleasant than his dad. Would be a good feature to hear from their wife/mother.
5) Harvard beat Boston College 73-58, sixth year in row Crimson beat BC. Hard to be a viable ACC program if you can't beat an Ivy League team. In its attempt to get better in football, ACC has hurt itself as a basketball league.
4) Since 2004, teams that won a bowl game, then returned to the same bowl the next year are 11-15 against the spread, 1-3 this year.
3) There are 256 games in the NFL's regular season; this year, in 28.5% of those games (73), one side got 70%+ of betting action. Those teams were an surprisingly bad 31-42 (42.5%) against the spread.
2) LSU won the Outback Bowl, so Outback restaurants are giving away free blooming onions today if you go in and say "Outback Bowl". It isn't often you can get something for nothing; today is one of those days.
1) No doubt in my mind, most interesting part of the NFL Draft will be which team drafts Johnny Manziel. To me, he is a lot like Fran Tarkenton; others have compared his daring antics to Brett Favre. No matter what, he is must-watch TV; his career will be interesting to follow.
Wednesday's List of 13: Things to look for in 2014.......
13) College football playoff is going to be a huge deal; picking those four teams might very well make Twitter explode. You’re going to have a diverse committee of people picking those teams; going to be an interesting debate.
12) Instant replay in baseball is going to be dicier than you think; those neighborhood plays at second base on double plays are going to be challenged now, and some middle infielder is going to get hurt because he has to stay in there and make sure his foot is on the bag when he takes the throw.
11) NFL Draft is May 8-10; hoping the Rams reap another bonanza thanks to the RGIII trade, maybe even parlaying the Redskins’ top pick this year into even more draft picks down the road. It’s the formula Jimmy Johnson used to make the Cowboys a power.
10) Don’t take this the wrong way, but if the Super Bowl in Swamp Stadium goes really smoothly, they’ll be tempted to have more cold weather Super Bowls. Championship games should be played in as close to ideal conditions as possible. Some hideous weather on Ground Hog Day could discourage future cold weather Super Bowls.
9) I really hope DirecTV picks up Pac-12 Network; also curious to see what the SEC Network is going to look like when it kicks off next summer.
8) I can finally stop complaining about the FOX Saturday baseball Game of the Week blacking out all the other games played at the same time; if you have the MLB package, all Saturday afternoon games will be shown. About freakin’ time.
7) There is a movie coming out where Kevin Costner is GM of the Cleveland Browns and Denis Leary is Browns’ coach; this has the potential to be really good, especially Leary as the coach, if they let his character rant now and then.
6) I’m making an attempt at giving up soda (again) this year; did it from 2010 until early last year, but in an attempt to lose some weight, am trying again. Wish me well.
5) Mariners/Rangers both spent a fortune on free agent position players this winter; can the A’s win their third straight AL West title?
4) Pat Riley has a copyright on the term “three-peat”; will he capitalize on it this year, if his Miami Heat win their third NBA title in a row?
3) Which college basketball team will emerge from nowhere and become this March’s Florida Gulf Coast, the upstart Cinderella that takes down a big name team? The gap between the bigger schools and smaller schools is widening in college hoop and it will continue to do so until high school kids can go straight to the NBA, but upsets still happen now and then.
2) I’m hoping that 2014 is a year where this country figures out that free speech is an essential part of American life; if something offends you, block it out, but everyone has to have a right to express themselves. Its why God invented the mute button.
1) Hope you keep reading this website as we head towards the end of our 13th year on the Internet; I wish you health and happiness this year, and also a lot of winners.
Tuesday's List of 12: Ranking the NFL's playoff teams......
12) Chargers—Were lined up illegally trying to block Chiefs’ GW FG that missed Sunday; refs didn’t call it. Stupid rule to begin with, but seems like a hard one to screw up. I mean, there are three 300-pound guys who aren’t where they’re legally supposed to be. Anyway, if you have the onions to run a fake punt in OT, you deserve to win, so good for Mike McCoy.
11) Packers—Aaron Rodgers was a modern-day Willis Reed Sunday, coming back from injury to lead his team to a last-minute win by throwing a TD on 4th down; tremendous exhibition of guts. He got help from the refs early; don’t hit the guy with the broken collarbone, but still, excellent performance.
10) Chiefs- Kudos to KC’s front office/coaches for developing enough talent to almost win a game when they sat out 20 starters. This team won two games LY; now they’re a playoff team. Andy Reid doesn’t look good in red, but he is your Coach of the Year.
9) Bengals—Won/covered all eight home games, which doesn’t happen much; they’ll struggle on road, but hopefully they’ll win a playoff game to take some heat off Marvin Lewis, who has been criticized by nitwits for not having playoff success. Nitwits forget that before Lewis got to Cincy, the Bengals were a freakin’ joke. He has done an excellent job.
8) Eagles—How was Chip Kelly an assistant coach at New Hampshire for fifteen years? Seriously, all of a sudden someone discovered he was really smart? Hey, Art Briles/Gus Malzahn were high school coaches.....
7) Colts—Not really sure what to make of them; they got spanked at home by the Rams, but beat 49ers-Seattle. Think spread on their game with Chiefs is little light, Luck having big edge at QB over Alex Smith.
6) 49ers—How did Cardinals/Ravens cut Anquan Boldin loose? Excellent player, a big WR with great hands/toughness. He started out at Florida State. as a QB. Curious why he has played on three different teams.
5) Saints— Falcons could’ve done them a huge favor by upsetting Carolina, giving Saints a bye/home field in conference semis. Now road-challenged NO has to go to Philly and win. Interesting game.
4) Patriots—If Brady doesn’t win MVP, there should be no such award; his best receiver is looking at life in prison, the next two best guys are hurt half the time, yet Patriots continue to win. Brady is one of the three best QBs I’ve ever seen, in terms of leadership/winning, and I’m no New England fan.
3) Panthers—Lost at home to Seattle, so they have to be behind Seahawks, but they’ve got defense to win on foreign soil. Need Steve Smith healthy; not sure if he’ll be back for first playoff game.
2) Seahawks—Not sold on Russell Wilson as a great QB; if you make him beat you passing, not sure he can. Their defense plays with great energy, they’ll be very tough to beat on their home field, and have already posted a shutout at Swamp Stadium, where the Super Bowl is being played.
1) Broncos—Shaky on this ranking with Von Miller done for year, but #18 has put up amazing numbers this year, should get Welker back for playoffs. CBS is praying for Pats-Broncos AFC title game.
Monday's List of 16: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday.......
16) Panthers 21, Falcons 20-- Carolina had nine sacks, as Falcons ended up 2-6 in games decided by less than seven points. Panthers get first round bye in playoffs, which could help WR Steve Smith get healthy for playoffs.
15) Packers 33, Bears 28-- Aaron Rodgers is pretty damn good, throwing for 318 yards, including the division-winning 48-yard pass to Randall Cobb with 0:38 left, in his first game action since November 4. Legendary stuff. Easy to look at the Bears and wonder if firing Lovie Smith was the right move.
14) Titans 16, Texans 10-- Houston is the first team in NFL history to start season 2-0 and finish 2-14; rumors were running wild Saturday night that they want to hire Penn State's Bill O'Brien as their new coach. If O'Brien leaves, it could be Titans' Munchak, a PSU alum, who replaces him in Happy Valley. .
13) Steelers 20, Browns 7-- Credit to Pitt for clawing back to 8-8 after its horrific 0-4 start; if Chiefs make a 41-yard FG at end of regulation, Steelers would've made the playoffs. Not sure why, but Browns are apparently going to fire Rob Chudzinski after one season as HC.
12) Giants 20, Redskins 6-- Washington would have 2nd pick in the draft, except they traded it to the Rams for RGIII; Skins would've been accused of tanking games if they owned that pick, thats how bad they were in December. Whoever replaces Shanahan will be Snyder's 7th coach in 15 years.
11) Bengals 34, Ravens 17-- Cincinnati won/covered all eight home games, and will host San Diego in playoffs next week. Baltimore was awful in red zone, scoring five TDs on last 20 red zone drives. Game they won in Detroit when Tucker kicked the six FGs was a red flag- no TDs.
10) Colts 30, Jaguars 10-- Underrated story is how well Indy has done in post-Manning era; not that easy to replace a legend. Not sure where Jaguars are headed, but an offseason with no changes in the front office/coaching staff might help. Stability is good.
9) Eagles 24, Cowboys 22-- Dallas fought hard but fell short and finishes 8-8 for third year in row. Eagles get home game with Saints next week- not many people thought Kelly would do this well in pros. Odd decision to throw ball on 4th-and-1 on Philly 40 down 17-16 was Cowboys' undoing in this game.
8) Jets 20, Dolphins 7-- All Miami had to do to make playoffs was beat either Buffalo or the Jets; they scored one TD on 23 drives in two games. Rex Ryan went 8-8 with a rookie QB; he deserves to stay on as coach. .
7) Vikings 14, Lions 13-- Detroit went +2 in turnovers, still managed to lose 15th game in last 16 visits to Twin Cities. Minnesota will play outdoors next two years, while their new stadium is built. If I was a Lion fan and Detroit does not fire coach Schwartz, someone would be getting an angry phone call.
6) Patriots 34, Bills 20-- 4:25 start shows how little NFL cares for fans who buy tickets; how was this not a 1:00 start? Its freakin' December 29, in winter in the Northeast. Not a critical game, so not a TV decision. Patriots are 20-1 in last 21 games with Buffalo, winning last 13 played in Foxboro.
5) Saints 42, Bucs 17-- TV types saying Saints would be better off next week in a dome, but they got waxed in St Louis and barely beat Atlanta in the Georgia Dome. If you own the Bucs, do you let Penn State have Schiano?
4) Broncos 34, Raiders 14-- Oakland lost its last six games, was outscored 66-16 in first half of its last two home games. Where do they look for a QB? McGloin? Sanchez? Draft? They're out of salary cap hell now, so they should field a better team next year. for Denver, its Super Bowl or bust.
3) 49ers 23, Cardinals 20-- Niners opened season with 34-28 home win over Packers, now they'll play playoff game in Lambeau, where Kaepernick's running ability is going to be important. Terrific season for Arizona, just bad timing to be in a tough division.
2) Chargers 27, Chiefs 24, ot-- KC sat 20 of 22 starters, gave QB Daniel his first NFL start and damn near won. Succop pushed game-winning 41-yard FG wide right, a kick that would've put Steelers in playoffs. San Diego makes it to the playoffs; no one thought that was happening.
1) Seahawks 27, Rams 9-- Seattle gets #1 seed in NFC, Rams get #'s 2-13 picks in first round of draft next May. NFL teams should pick backup QBs who can play, not guys who know the offense. Clemens is a good teammate, but you ain't beating anyone good on road with him playing QB.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday......
13) Looks like Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has emerged as the leading candidate for the Houston Texans' coaching vacancy.
12) Good offenses get first downs on 1st/2nd down; here are the teams with highest %age of first downs on 1st/2nd down:
Cowboys 79.3%, Broncos 76.9%, Cards 76.8%, Chiefs 76.1%
11) Here are the teams with lowest %age of first downs on 1st/2nd down: Titans 65.6%, Ravens 66.2%, Jets 67.1%, Panthers 68.0%
10) Bill Walton gave out his all-time SEC basketball team on the air Saturday night and didn't have anyone from Kentucky on it:
Maravich-Wilkins-Pettit-O'Neal-Barkley. Three LSU guys.
9) If you care about such things, under is 11-3-1 in first 15 bowl games.
8) Five NFL teams didn't put anyone in the Pro Bowl:
7) All three refs who worked the Louisville-Kentucky game worked at the Final Four last spring. Not a coincidence.
6) DePaul's teams are called the Blue Demons; why don't they wear blue road uniforms? Not sure why teams wear black road uniforms.
5) Why would anyone trade for Andrew Bynum? He's played in 24 of a possible 110 games since leaving the Lakers. Seems like a pain in the butt.
4) There are only three NFL games Sunday with no NFL playoff implications and two of those three, Texans-Titans/Redskins-Giants, will determine the #1 pick in the draft in May. Going to be a very interesting Sunday.
3) Rutgers has had five offensive coordinators in the last five years; their coach was so conservative Saturday, the play-by-play guy was calling him out. They fired three more assistant coaches since this season ended; you need continuity to have a good program. Rutgers doesn't have it yet.
2) Houston Rockets are 7-1 vs spread if they played the night before.
1) The Apple TV commercial where the kid films his family's Chirstmas Day might be the best TV commercial of the last twenty years.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here....
13) Sam Farmer of the LA Times points out if the Eagles win Sunday, it’ll be the 11th year in a row an NFL team won its division the year after they finished last in the division.
12) You’ll be glad to know I’m not a security risk; got passed thru this different security gate on my Las Vegas trip- didn’t have to take belt, shoes, hat off or take the laptop out of my computer bag. Watching who else went thru that line, it looked like anyone with gray hair got sent there.
11) MAC teams are already 0-4 in bowl games and were favored in three of them. Oy.
10) Curious to see who winds up with this Japanese pitcher Tanaka, who has 53 complete games at age 25, a sure sign he’s been overused. I’ve read six years for $100M, plus the $20M posting fee, which comes out to $20M a year. Good luck there.
9) It needs to be pointed out that two years before Mike Krzyzewski became Duke’s basketball coach, Blue Devils were in the Final Four; the previous coach was Bill Foster, who moved to South Carolina (then an independent) to replace the legendary Frank McGuire.
Foster was annoyed with the Duke administration, in part because they never paved the coach’s parking lot, even after he made the Final Four; he was also a very good coach.
8) Detroit Lions lost their last nine December/January games. Next year, a new coach will be trying to break that streak.
7) James Harden had a weird game Thursday, scoring 27 points while going only 2-9 from the floor. He was 22-25 on foul line, making him the first player to score 27+ points while scoring two or fewer baskets. Hard to do.
6) Reading an article about the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, which used to be the Peach Bowl; chairman of the Chick-fil-A committee is Leeman Bennett, who used to be the coach of the Falcons/Bucs.
Georgia Dome being built saved the old Peach Bowl, which then became the Chick-fil-A; when it was played in old Fulton County Stadium, they had hard time getting good dates/teams to play in it. Now its one of the top six college bowl games, as the dome gave it better flexibility to be played after Christmas and at night.
5) If you care about such things, McDonald’s sausage-egg-cheese biscuits are way better than Dunkin’ Donuts’ but the hot chocolate at DD is much better. People at Dunkin’ Donuts forgot to put the sausage in my sandwich Thursday, a small problem.
4) USC DC Clancy Pendergast got shown the door with Steve Sarkisian bringing in his own DC from Washington, Justin Wilcox. Football coaching can be a nomadic existence, for sure. Pendergast has been a DC in the NFL and will do well; he improved the Trojans’ defense a lot this year, under difficult circumstances, but right now, he needs a new job.
3) 19 of the 32 NFL teams started the same QB all year; the record in the Super Bowl era was last year, when 20 started game, so Roger Goodell’s touch football rules where QB’s are concerned are paying dividends.
2) Penn State can’t go to a bowl until 2016; can they keep coach Bill O’Brien until then? He is sought after by some NFL teams; lot of money to turn down, especially when you consider the hand he was dealt when he took the Penn State job. No way did he know what he was getting into and he’s done very well, going 15-9, but at some point, money talks.
1) I’ve been babbling all fall about the NFL Draft being next April; they’ve actually moved it back until May 8-10, 2014. Not sure why.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) We noted yesterday how Jon Kitna is making around $55,000 for his one week with the Cowboys; he is donating that money to the school district where is an Algebra teacher- that’s really generous.
I wonder if he makes $55,000 a year teaching school.
12) Aaron Rodgers is a go for Sunday in Chicago; line opened with Packers as a 3-point road favorite. 11-point difference in Packer spreads with/without Rodgers is the biggest right now for any NFL player.
11) You look at Kyle Orton, see a player with a 35-34 career W-L record in NFL; not bad. Dallas won’t be important Sunday, though its been a while since Orton started and played a whole game, but its not like he’s Seneca Wallace or Curtis Painter.
10) You want to know why 70% of NBA players are broke within five years of retiring? Dwight Howard bought all his teammates Rolex watches for Christmas. Real ones.
9) If you're interested in such things, over is 23-7 in Detroit Piston games, 12-4 at home, 11-3 on road.
8) Pitt 30, Bowling Green 27-- Freshman James Conner ran the ball for 229 yards and also played some on defensive line, as Pitt survived loss of senior QB Tom Savage in second quarter. Not often an ACC team is underdog to a MAC team in a bowl game.
7) Utah State 21, Northern Illinois 14-- State RB Joey DeMartino ran ball for 143 yards and a TD in his hometown, as Huskies ended season with two straight losses after almost making it to a BCS bowl. Tough end to a terrific career for NIU QB Jordan Lynch, who only ran ball for 39 yards.
6) Odd thing is that the Steelers are 7-8, Arizona 10-5, and Pitt probably has a better chance of making the playoffs, since Cardinals need New Orleans to lose at home to the Bucs, which probably ain’t happening.
5) Quote of the Day, part 2, from Mark Cuban:
"I think Jerry would be crazy to fire Jason Garrett. Not that he would, but the hardest thing to do -- and I’ve said this before -- is hire a head coach. That’s the hardest thing to do in professional sports, in my opinion."
4) Hawks 127, Cavaliers 125, 2ot-- Atlanta is 3rd-best team in East; Jeff Teague hit buzzer beater for the win, offsetting 40 points from Kyrie Irving. Hawks lost Al Horford and Demarre Carroll to injuries
3) Trailblazers 116, Clippers 112 ot-- LaMarcus Aldridge scored 32 points three days after he had his wisdom teeth removed; this was an excellent game.
Chris Paul had 34 points, 16 assists for the Clippers, who lost second tough road game in 28 hours.
2) Michigan will start freshman QB Shane Morris in its bowl game Saturday, with starting QB Devin Gardner sidelined by turf toe.
1) Shouldn’t Texans’ owner Bob McNair order his coach to lose this week’s game, to ensure Houston gets the #1 pick in the draft? Maybe he thinks the way they’ve played this year, they’ll lose without being told to, but that #1 pick would be a huge trade chip that could improve a team in a hurry, if it could net multiple picks in a trade.
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a winter day......
13) Clippers-Warriors has turned into a heated rivalry; teams play again on January 30. we'll find out who the NBA office thinks are its best refs by what officials they put on that game.
12) Dwight Howard has missed 13 more foul shots than the entire Dallas Mavericks' team. Howard had 20 rebounds last night, is playing really well for the 19-11 Rockets, but 56% isn't good and thats an improvement.
11) Dallas Cowboys signed Jon Kitna for one game; he's been an algebra teacher in state of Washington the last two years. His one week holding the clipboard will earn Kitna $55,294, more than I make in a year.
10) Brooklyn Nets' payroll is $102.2M, by far highest in the NBA; at what point do they pull the plug on Jason Kidd and GM Billy King? Speaking of King, what has he ever done to rate him being an NBA GM?
9) I've got no opinion on the sleeved unfiorms NBA teams wore Christmas Day, but they need to put numbers on the front, so refs can identify the players better. Uniforms in CYO even have numbers on the front.
8) I'm not a big fan of the NBA rule that allows the ball to be advanced to the hash mark in the front court when a timeout is called; it creates more interesting end-of-game situations, but it does so in an artificial way.
7) This season is just 4th time in last 20 years no NBA coaches got fired before Christmas, maybe because 13 were fired last offseason.
6) Toronto Raptors (11-15) are leading their division; only three teams in Eastern Conference are over .500.
5) On other hand, Houston Rockets are 19-11, but wouldn't have the home court edge in first round of the playoffs, if they started today.
4) Knicks are 0-9 vs the West, 9-10 against the East. If ESPN insists on putting them on TV every Christmas,, let them play an eastern team.
3) Memo to Hollywood film makers: No more movies about Nazis. Really, enough already. Now there's another one coming out. Get an original idea.
2) Buffalo (2,386 miles) travelled the farthest to its bowl game, other than two teams that played in Hawai'i. Maryland (27 miles) travelled the shortest distance, other than Tulane, which played on its home field.
1) Interesting that the NHL takes three full days off for Christmas; no games from the 24th-26th; they're also taking an Olympic break from Feb 9th-26th. What happens to teams without lot of Olympic participants?
Monday's Den: Over/under win totals for 2013 baseball.......
|Detroit Tigers, 90
||Los Angeles Dodgers, 90
|Los Angeles Angels, 89.5
||Washington Nationals, 90
|Texas Rangers, 87
||Cincinnati Reds, 88.5
|Toronto Blue Jays, 86.5
||Atlanta Braves, 86
||San Francisco Giants, 86
|Tampa Bay Rays, 86
||St Louis Cardinals, 85.5
|Oakland A's, 83
||Arizona Diamondbacks, 81.5
|Chicago White Sox, 80.5
||Philadelphia Phillies, 81.5
|Boston Red Sox, 79.5
||Milwaukee Brewers, 79.5
|Kansas City Royals, 79
||Pittsburgh Pirates, 79
|Cleveland Indians, 77.5
||San Diego Padres, 74.5
|Baltimore Orioles, 76.5
||New York Mets, 74
|Seattle Mariners, 76.5
||Chicago Cubs, 72
|Minnesota Twins, 64.5
||Colorado Rockies, 71.5
|Houston Astros, 59.5
||Miani Marlins, 64.5
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