Friday’s 6-pack, Quote, Quiz of the Day

Our daily baseball write-up is posted

Friday’s 6-pack
Odds to win NFC South:
— Tampa Bay -300
— New Orleans +275
— Carolina +1200
— Atlanta +1600
Odds to win NFC West:
— LA Rams +140
— San Francisco +190
— Arizona +300
— Seattle +1000

Quote of the Day
“Never mess with a civil servant, my friend.”
Lenny Briscoe, Law and Order

Friday’s quiz
Tony Romo, Sean Payton, Jimmy Garoppolo all played their college football at the same school; which one?

Thursday’s quiz
Aaron Donald played his college football for the Pitt Panthers.

Wednesday’s quiz
In the great TV show The West Wing, Tim Matheson originally played the Vice President.

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with the weekend here…….

— NFL teams with the most completions LY on passes that went 20+ yards in air:
38— Arizona, Tampa Bay
36— Dallas
34— Minnesota
33— Las Vegas, Seattle
32— Buffalo
31— Green Bay, LA Rams

— NFL teams with the fewest completions LY on passes that went 20+ yards in air:
12— NJ Giants
14— Carolina, Tennessee
16— Detroit
17— San Francisco
19— New Orleans
20— Pittsburgh

Golden State 120, Dallas 110:
— Warriors advance to NBA Finals for sixth time in eight years.
— Golden State led this game 69-52 at halftime.
— Klay Thompson was 8-16 on arc, scored 32 points.

— The father of Cincinnati Reds’ rookie P Hunter Greene is a private investigator with some famous clients, one of whom was lawyer Johnnie Cochran, who became famous during the OJ Simpson trial in the 90’s.

— Been quite a while since I’ve seen a movie promoted as hard as this new Top Gun movie is being pumped up; its been 36 years since the original Top Gun came out, which makes me feel old(er).

— Boston Celtics are 6-3 in road playoff games this season; over the previous ten years, Boston was 12-27 in road playoff games.

USFL Week 7 notes:
New Jersey vs Tampa Bay
New Jersey Generals (5-1)
— Won last five games, scoring 24.5 ppg in last four.
— Have only four takeaways, have minus-2 turnover ratio.
— Outscored last four foes 50-22 in second half.
— Last three games went over the total.

Tampa Bay Bandits (3-3)
— Scored 27-28 points last two games (19.3 ppg in first four)
— Minus-7 in turnovers— have only three takeaways.
— Three of last four games went over total.
— Scoring 11.8 ppg in first half, 6.8 ppg in second half.

Michigan vs New Orleans
Michigan Panthers (1-5)
— Last three games, they’re minus-6 in turnovers, giving up 28.7 ppg.
— 0-3 in games decided by 5 or fewer points.
— Outgained four of their six opponents.
— Their only win was 24-0 over 1-5 Pittsburgh.

New Orleans Breakers (4-2)
— Scored 23+ points in their wins, 13-17 in losses.
— Last three games went over the total
— Last three weeks, ran ball for 137.3 yards/game.
— Trailed three of last four games at halftime.

Birmingham vs Pittsburgh
Birmingham Stallions (6-0)
— Trailed at halftime in four of six games
— Outscored opponents 98-34 in second half.
— Outrushed last three foes 456-206
— 6-0 against spread

Pittsburgh Maulers (1-5)
— Have been outscored 88-32 in first half of games. 
— Last four weeks, allowed 165 rushing yards/game.
— Four of their last five games went over total.
— All five losses are by 7+ points.

Houston vs Philadelphia
Houston Gamblers (1-5)
— Lost last five games, last three all in last 0:05.
— Led all six games at halftime
— Last five games went over total
— Outscored 85=32 in second half.

Philadelphia Stars (3-3)
— Last three weeks, they’re +5 in turnovers.
— Gave up 23+ points in all six games (over 4-1 last five).
— Have been outgained in every game (1-4-1 ATS).
— Scored 30-26-35 points in wins; 17-16-17 in losses.

— Reds 20, Cubs 5— Cincinnati SS Farmer homered twice, knocked in five runs, also had a sac bunt; not often a guy has a sac bunt and two homers in the same game.

— Portland Trailblazers hired Mike Schmitz as an assistant GM; he had been on ESPN for few years, traveling all over the world to evaluate talent for the NBA Draft.

— Rangers 4, A’s 1:
Good news for the A’s; they’re 14-6 if they score 4+ runs.
Bad news for the A’s: they’ve scored 4+ runs in only 20 of 47 games; they’re 5-22 when they score fewer than four runs.

— MLB and the players’ union are allowing teams to still have an additional pitcher through June 19; it is looking more and more like the 14-pitcher thing might last the whole season.

— Tigers 4, Guardians 3— Miguel Cabrera went 3-4, had a walk-off single.

— Reds 20, Cubs 5…….Red Sox 16, White Sox 7— Rough day in Chicago; they both get Friday off, before playing each other Saturday-Sunday on the South side. 

Thursday’s Den: Random thoughts on a spring day……..

I’m going to speak my mind here for a few minutes, because I think it is wrong to shut up at times like these. I don’t belong to a political party, have almost zero interest in politics. I’d much rather watch ballgames or movies, or listen to music. But this has been another bad week.

I don’t remember much about being in 4th grade; it was the first year our classroom was on the second floor instead of the first floor, and my teacher was Mrs Hoen. Other than that, nothing stands out in my memory, which is pretty much how it should be.

Today, there is a school full of kids in Texas who will be traumatized forever by stuff that happened this week; 21 people are dead because an 18-year old took an assault rifle into a classroom and shot a bunch of little kids and their teacher. How does this happen? How?????

I was in the grocery store the other day, and looked around for where the exits are in the back of the store, in case there was ever an episode with a shooter in there. It can happen anywhere. If that is paranoid, so be it, but it never hurts to be prepared. 

Our gutless politicians are in the pockets of the NRA, so gun rules won’t change; when people like Jimmy Kimmel and Steve Kerr speak out and make more sense than any politician, you realize that our politicians are freakin’ useless. Only thing they’re good at is lining their own freakin’ pockets. Not good. Not freakin’ good at all.

Only thing we can do is vote these useless politicians out, and hopefully their replacements will be decent people who realize that no one should be queasy about going to the grocery store, or queasy about sending their kids to school.

Other countries don’t have this problem; they have strict gun laws. Why can’t this country do that???? I haven’t heard a decent explanation yet.

On to less important issues……..
— Joe Niekro pitched 22 years in the major leagues, for seven teams; he batted 1,165 times. He hit one home run, on May 29, 1976, in Atlanta— the Braves’ catcher that day was Biff Pocoroba.

Atlanta’s pitcher was Joe’s brother Phil, a Hall of Famer. What are the odds of that?

— Bulls-Pistons are going to play a regular season NBA game in Paris on January 19, 2023.

— Rumor has it that in 2-3 years, the NBA is going to add expansion teams in Seattle/Las Vegas; they’re talking about building a new hotel/casino in Las Vegas, which will also have a new arena for the expansion team.

— This week, Minnesota Timberwolves made former Denver Nuggets president Tim Connelly one of the league’s highest-paid executives; $40M for five years that also includes ownership equity.

That is good bank for an executive who is an excellent talent evaluator— he took Nikola Jokić with the 41st pick of the 2014 NBA Draft.

— As of last week, over half (54.7%) of freshmen/sophomores who entered the college basketball transfer portal haven’t found a new school yet. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

— Louisville Cardinals hired alum Milt Wagner as director of player development and alumni relations; it is just a coincidence that Wagner’s grandson DJ is one of the top-ranked recruits in the 2023 class. Go figure.

— Louisville-Kentucky are renewing their basketball rivalry in Rupp Arena on New Year’s Eve.

— Evansville finally hired a new basketball coach; kind of late in the process to do so, but David Ragland is the Purple Aces’ new coach. Ragland went 44-19 in two seasons as a junior college coach 10-12 years ago; he has almost 20 years as a D-I assistant.

Maybe Ragland can go sign up some of those kids in the transfer portal who haven’t found a new home yet.

— In the USFL, QB Shea Patterson was released by the Michigan Panthers and later signed by the New Orleans Breakers; Patterson has thrown for 973 yards — third in the league — four TD’s and five INTs this season— he has also rushed for 171 yards and two TD’s.

— A box seat to the 1955 World Series cost $31. This year, a beer at the PGA golf tournament cost $18.

— Boston 93, Miami 80— Celtics used a 24-2 run in third quarter to take a 3-2 series lead. Heat made only seven of 45 3-point shots.

— Under was 8-4-1 in Wednesday’s baseball games, as hitters continue to struggle.

— Nationals 1, Dodgers 0— Erick Fedde threw six shutout innings for Washington.

— A’s 4, Seattle 2— It is May 25 and the A’s are ahead of Seattle in the standings; never would’ve guessed that, not in a million years. Mariners are a very disappointing team.

— Tampa Bay 5, Miami 4— Rays scored five runs in first inning, hung on for dear life. Rays open a home series with division rival New York tonight.

— Cincinnati 4, Cubs 3— 38-year old Joey Votto hit a homer and a triple; is he the oldest player to do that? 

Wednesday’s Den: Random baseball knowledge……..

13) When Rickey Henderson was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, 28 people didn’t vote for him; how the BLEEP could you not vote for Rickey Henderson?

Well, he’s not alone; here are some other great ballplayers, and how many people didn’t vote for them to be inducted in Cooperstown.

Note: Mariano Rivera is the Hall of Fame’s only unanimous choice.

43— Mickey Mantle (43 people didn’t vote for Mantle???)
23— Willie Mays, Stan Musial
20— Ted Williams, Steve Carlton
16— Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, Greg Maddux
13— Tony Gwynn
11— Babe Ruth
9— Hank Aaron, George Brett
5— Tom Seaver

You get the point; Hall of Fame voting becomes personal, which is wrong.

12) There are unusual parallels between the careers of Sandy Koufax/Clayton Kershaw:

— Koufax led the NL in ERA five times.
Kershaw led the NL in ERA five times.

— Koufax led the NL in WHIP four times.
Kershaw led the NL in WHIP four times.

— Koufax won three Cy Young awards and an MVP.
Kershaw has won three Cy Young awards and an MVP.

— Koufax had a career record of 165-87
Kershaw has a career record of 187-84.

There are also a couple differences:
— Koufax threw 137 complete games, including 54 his last two seasons.
Kershaw has only 25 complete games in his career.

— Koufax was a good basketball player; he made the team at U of Cincinnati as a walk-on, later earned a partial scholarship.
Kershaw was a center on his high school football team; the QB on that team was Matthew Stafford. 

12) Koufax had a weird major league career:
— First six years: 103 starts- 36-40, 4.10. 683 K’s in 691.2 IP
— Last six years: 211 starts- 129-47, 2.19. 1,713 K’s in 1,632.2 IP

He retired when he was 30, after a 27-9, 1.73 season. 

11) Who was the first pitcher to strike out 3,000+ hitters, while walking less than 1,000?

Ferguson Jenkins pitched for 19 years in the big leagues, winning 284 games. Career ERA of 3.34, career WHIP of 1.14. Hell of a pitcher. 

10) Detroit Tigers’ star Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off homer in his first MLB game; his next double will make him the fifth player ever with 500+ homers, 600+ doubles.

Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012, hitting .330 with 44 homers, 139 RBI

9) In 2004, Barry Bonds was walked intentionally 120 times; before that, the record for most intentional walks was held by another Giant, Willie McCovey.

McCovey got 45 intentional walks in 1969, 40 more the next year. In a game against the Mets, McCovey was walked intentionally in both the first and second innings.

Giants got really lucky in 1955; they held a tryout camp in Melbourne, FL, which is where they found both McCovey and Orlando Cepeda, two damn good players. 

8) There were 1,469 players taken in the 2001 baseball draft; Justin Verlander wasn’t one of them. Instead, he went to Old Dominion and played college ball.

Three years later, these were the first two picks of the draft:
— San Diego took P Matt Bush with the #1 pick.
— Detroit took Verlander with the #2 pick. 

7) Frank Thomas didn’t get drafted out of high school, either; instead he went to Auburn and played a few games as a backup tight end, while also playing baseball. 

When he was a sophomore, Thomas led SEC in hitting; he was the 7th pick in the 1989 draft.

Thomas was a great hitter; seven years in a row, he hit .300+, walked 100+ times, scored 100+ runs and knocked in 100+. Those 100+ walks made the 100+ RBI a lot harder to get. 

6) When he was a little kid, Brooks Robinson threw left-handed, but he broke his left arm and switched to throwing righty. Good thing for the Orioles.

Robinson was a paperboy; one of his customers was Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey.

He knocked in 118 runs in 1964, winning AL MVP. Robinson hit 268 career homers, and made the All-Star Game 15 years in a row. 

4) Good trivia: Rickey Henderson led the American League in stolen bases every year in the 1980’s, except one; in 1987, Harold Reynolds stole 60 bases, beating Willie Wilson by one steal. Henderson stole 41 bases in that injury-plagued season.

3) Frank Robinson was a great ballplayer; 586 homers, .926 career OPS, 1,829 runs scored, 1,812 more knocked in. MVP of a World Series, MVP of an all All-Star Game. Great player.

At the end of his career, Robinson was making $173,000 a year; I always wonder if guys like Robinson, great ballplayers who were born too early, resented the ludicrous money ballplayers make nowadays?

You could make the argument that Robinson is the most underrated player ever; he was also the first Black manager in the major leagues. If he was in his prime today, $173,000 would be his tipping money. 

2) When Roger Clemens was a senior in high school, he didn’t get any Division I scholarship offers, so he pitched at San Jacinto College, a junior college. He wound up pitching at Texas, became a big star, was a first round pick of the Red Sox in 1983— he got the major leagues the next season.

I saw Clemens pitch at Cooperstown, in the Hall of Fame Game; he wasn’t a big star yet, just a young prospect recovering from arm surgery (back then, just about all the pitchers from Texas had their arms operated on).

In 13 years with Boston, Clemens was 192-111, but only 40-39 the last four years. After he left Boston, Clemens went 162-73, 3.21, won four more Cy Young awards.

By way of comparison, these are the CAREER stats for Sandy Koufax:
165-87, 2.76 ERA, three Cy Young awards.

Clemens’ postseason record: 12-8, 3.75 in 34 starts, which ain’t spectacular, but boy, what an awesome career he had.

1) Willie Mays was called up to the major leagues at age 20, he was hitting .477 in AAA, with 29 extra base hits in 35 games; what took them so long?

New York Giants trailed Brooklyn by 10.5 games in August, back when there were no playoffs, just the World Series between the teams who won the NL/AL. Giants made a great run, tied the Dodgers for first place, beat them in a playoff but lost the World Series in six games.

Mays hit 660 homers, and missed two years for military service; he had a .940 OPS, scored 2.068 runs, knocked in 1,909 more.

Mays hit 523 doubles, 140 triples, 660 homers, stole 338 bases. The great writer Joe Posnanski calls him the greatest baseball player ever. Who am I to argue with that? 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but……..

13) HBO’s Hard Knocks will feature the Detroit Lions this summer, then the Arizona Cardinals in November. Cardinals’ episodes should be especially interesting; under Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona is 15-5-1 in Weeks 1-7, but 9-20 from Week 8 on. 

12) Speaking of the Cardinals, QB Kyler Murray won’t be at the voluntary OTA’s this week; his contract situation is still up in the air. Not great when the quarterback isn’t around the team. 

11) Cardinals 7, Blue Jays 3— Walk-off grand slam for Paul Goldschmidt, which also put the game over the total, much like the end of the Seattle-Boston game Sunday. 

10) Padres 3, Brewers 2 (10)— Milwaukee has bases loaded, none out in top of 10th but didn’t score; Jose Azocar had the walk-off single for San Diego in bottom of the 10th.

9) Twins 5, Tigers 4— Minnesota scored four runs in first inning, blew the 4-0 lead, then walked it off on Gio Urshela’s infield single. 

8) Orioles’ rookie catcher Adley Rutschman is wearing number 35, the number Mike Mussina wore when he went 147-81 for Baltimore from 1991-2000. Mussina declined to go into the Hall of Fame as an Oriole, so the team has declined to retire his number. 

7) Was surprised to learn that it is only 391 feet from home plate to the centerfield fence at the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark, the shortest distance to CF in the major leagues. They moved the fences in couple of years ago, when they built new bullpens behind those fences, in right-center. 

6) Apparently, USC’s football compliance department has discovered a little-known NCAA bylaw that allowed new coach Lincoln Riley and his staff to drop 10 scholarship players from their roster this offseason. Newly hired coaches can remove a player from their 85-man scholarship roster but keep them on scholarship as long as they stop playing. 

NCAA is waiving the 25-man signing limit for the next two academic years, so USC can just recruit like hell and use the transfer portal to replace the ten players they told to take a hike, improving their talent pool fairly quickly.

5) Boston 102, Miami 82:
— Celtics led 29-11 after the first quarter.
— Miami’s starting five shot a combined 7 of 36 from the floor.
— Heat was 8-14 on foul line; Jayson Tatum was 14-16.
— Series is tied 2-2. 

Week 6 USFL stuff:
4) Philadelphia 35, Tampa Bay 28
— Tampa Bay outgained Stars 411-263, but were minus-3 in turnovers.
— Philadelphia ran ball for 197 yards, outscored Bandits 14-0 in 3rd quarter.
— All four USFL games went over the total in Week 6.

3) Birmingham 33, Michigan 17:
— 6-0 Stallions ran ball for 175 yards, were +2 in turnovers.
— 1-5 Panthers have a minus-5 turnover ratio for season.
— Panthers lost one game when they missed a 21-yard FG at gun; they made a 56-yard FG in this game. 

2) New Orleans 26, Pittsburgh 16:
— Breakers led 10-0 at halftime, 17-3 after third quarter.
— New Orleans out rushed Maulers 173-83, was +2 in turnovers.
— Breakers are now 4-2; Pittsburgh slips to 1-5. 

1) New Jersey 26, Houston 25:
— Houston loses in last 0:05 for third week in a row.
— Gamblers have led all six games at halftime, but they’re 1-5.
— 5-1 Generals outgained Houston, 358-228. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend……..

13) Turns out it was a bad beat Sunday:
— Mariners-Red Sox had a 9.5 total; game was 4-4 in 10th inning, after Red Sox blew a 3-2 ninth inning lead. Boston has bases loaded in 10th; Franchy Cordero hits a walk-off grand slam to put the game over the total.
— Phillies 4, Dodgers 3 (10)— LA led 3-2 and were one out away from a win; Phillies had bases loaded, but hit a routine ground ball to 2B Max Muncy, who booted the ball and two runs scored. Ugly loss.
— Twins 7, Royals 6— Kansas City led 6-0 after seven innings, but their bullpen imploded. 

12) Orioles 7, Rays 6 (11)— Tampa Bay led 6-3 in 7th inning, blew the lead, then lost in extra frames, Orioles’ third walk-off win in the last four days.

Tampa Bay has still won 22 of last 25 games vs Baltimore, but lost two of three this weekend. 

11) New Jersey 26, Houston 25— Generals scored on a QB sneak on last play of the game, third week in a row Houston lost in the last 0:05. New Jersey has won five games in a row.

Houston has led all six of its games at halftime, but lost the last five. 

10) USFL is fun to watch; it isn’t the NFL, the QB play just isn’t there, but the coaching is very good, you can learn a lot of football by listening (they allow more access) and the players bust their butts to try and win. It’ll be be better when they get to their various cities and fans go to the games. Football with no fans is……..odd. 

Through six weeks, 17 of 24 USFL games have been decided by nine or fewer points.

9) Sunday was the 24th anniversary of the day Andre Dawson was intentionally walked five times in the same game; first four times, Cincinnati got the next guy out, but the Cubs finally won the game in the 16th inning, after Dawson’s fifth intentional pass. 

8) This is part of why hitting is more difficult now; Seattle’s Ty France batted five times the other night in Boston, but those five AB’s came against four different pitchers. Hitting is lot more difficult when you only see a pitcher once. 

7) Nolan Ryan was a Hall of Fame pitcher, threw seven no-hitters; how the hell did he lose 292 games in his career? His record was 324-292, striking out 5,714 hitters in 5,386 IP. Ryan threw 222 complete games in his career. How did he lose 292 games? 

6) Injury stuff:
— Cards’ P Steven Matz (shoulder) left Sunday’s game after 4 pitches.
— Bronx reliever Chad Green is set to have Tommy John surgery
— Brewers put P Freddy Peralta (shoulder) on the IL.
— Tampa Bay put reliever Andrew Kittredge (back) on the IL. 

5) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
— NL Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Padres, Cardinals, Giants
— AL New York, Twins, Astros. Wild Cards: Angels, Rays, Blue Jays

4) Pitchers Taylor/Tyler Rogers are the 10th set of twin brothers who both made it to the major leagues; Taylor is San Diego’s closer, Tyler is a reliever with the Giants.

3) Colorado catcher Brian Serven got his first two big league hits Saturday; they were both home runs. He is 3-10 in first three big league games; apparently in his first game with Colorado, Serven hit a foul ball into the stands, and his mother caught it, which doesn’t happen a lot. 

2) Michigan basketball coach Juwan Howard turned down a chance to interview for the Lakers’ vacant coaching job; Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka was a Michigan teammate of Howard, who has some NBA coaching experience as an assistant with Miami. 

1) Warriors 109, Mavericks 100:
— Wiggins scored 27 points, was +22 in 40:00 he played.
— That means Dallas was +13 in the 8:00 Wiggins was on the bench.
— Luka Doncic scored 40 points, grabbed 11 rebounds.
— Golden State leads this series, 3-0
— No NBA team has ever won a playoff series after trailing 3-0. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) NFL handicapping note: Since 2003, the defending Super Bowl champ is 11-5-3 ATS in its first game the following season. The team that lost the Super Bowl is 4-15 ATS in its first game the following season. 

12) Not sure where Baker Mayfield will spend this coming summer/fall, but I know he’s going to be paid $18.858M; that is his contract guarantee for this coming season. 

Someone in the NFL office thinks Mayfield is going to Carolina, seeing how Browns-Panthers are playing each other in Week 1. 

11) Over a 24-hour period Thursday/Friday, the temperature in Denver went down 53 degrees, part of why Friday’s Mets-Rockies game was postponed. It snowed in Denver Friday, so they had to play a doubleheader Saturday.

All-time record in Denver, for biggest temperature change in a 24-hour period, was a 76-degree swing back in 2008. 

10) White Sox manager Tony LaRussa is 77 years old; his first big league managing job was back in 1979, also with Chicago. There are no current major league players who were alive when he first was a big league skipper.

9) Cleveland pitcher Aaron Civale is off to a bad start, going 2-3, 7.84 in his first seven starts, but  he knows how to beat Detroit. In eight career starts against the Tigers, Civale is 7-0, 1.94; he beat them again Friday night. 

8) In his first 32 games this season, Trevor Story had two homers, 16 RBI; on Thursday/Friday alone, he hit four home runs with 11 RBI. In two games. Thursday night, his OPS went up 108 points in one game.

7) Story is the third player in MLB history to follow a 3-HR game with a grand slam in his next game; Jeromy Burnitz did it on September 25-26, 2001 with Milwaukee and Sammy Sosa did it on August 10-11, 2002 for the Cubs.

6) Cubs unveiled a statue of their great pitcher Ferguson Jenkins outside Wrigley Field this week; Jenkins pitched for Chicago for ten years, going 167-132 as a Cub. Pretty nice tribute, putting a statue of a player/coach outside the ballpark; a permanent tribute to that person. 

5) Was watching the Rangers-Astros game on Apple TV Friday night, which is annoying, since I have a laptop, my phone and TV going all at once, but Apple broadcasts do one cool thing— in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, they post odds that change during an at-bat.

Corey Seager is up with a man on third, one out, they post the %age of his knocking that run in, which changes after each pitch. Something extra to think about, never a bad thing. 

4) Heat 109, Celtics 103:
— Boston cut a 26-point Miami lead to one, but Heat held on.
— Jimmy Butler (knee) didn’t play in second half.
— Adebayo scored 31 points, was +17 in 42:00.
— Foul shots: Miami 12-14; Boston 23-30
— Miami leads this series, 2-1

3) Rumor mill has QB Nick Foles signing on to be Matt Ryan’s backup with the Colts, where he re-unites with coach Frank Reich, who was Foles’ OC with Philadelphia. 

2) Winner of the PGA golf tournament makes $2.7M, not a bad payout for four days’ work. There are also other benefits; a 10-year exemption on Tour, your sponsors like you more and pay you more. 

1) We hear a lot about pitchers getting Tommy John surgery, but Orioles pitcher John Means was in the TV booth Friday and he described his.

They took a tendon from his hamstring and put it in his elbow; Means said doing rehab on the hamstring is one of the toughest part about of his rehab. 

Saturday’s Den: My 13 favorite TV shows…….

13) Without a Trace— Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia) runs an FBI unit specializing in missing persons investigations, while his personal life falls apart around him. Sometimes they found the people, sometimes they didn’t, which is part of what made the show so good.

12) The West Wing— Martin Sheen is the President; this show is about his staff and how they deal with the every day happenings in Washington. An excellent cast; ton of great actors passed through this show over its 7-year run. 

11) Lost In Space— This show was on in the 60’s; a space colony family struggles to survive when a spy/accidental stowaway throws their ship hopelessly off course. Dr Smith (Jonathan Harris) was the annoying stowaway who provided comic relief; his interaction with the Robot (“Danger!!! Danger!!!) were one of the highlights of the show.

One of the prized pieces of my bobblehead collection is a Robot bobblehead.

10) Addams Family— The Addams Family is not your typical family: it takes delight in most of the things of which normal people would be terrified. Gomez Adams (John Astin) is an extremely wealthy man and is able to indulge his wife Morticia’s (Carolyn Jones) every desire, whether it’s cultivation of poisonous plants or a candlelit dinner in a graveyard.

Morticia would read the stock ticker, and if Gomez lost, he would say “Easy come, easy go”

Cousin Itt, Thing, Lurch were all excellent characters.

1993, I have an emergency appendectomy; I’m in the hospital couple of days. Guy in the next hospital bed is watching Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and when they run the credits at the end of the show, I get kind of excited, because Felix Silla played one of the robots.

Felix Silla played Cousin Itt on the Addams Family; my neighbor wasn’t impressed when I gave him that bit of trivia. The nurse smiled, then checked to see if she gave me too much medication.

9) White Shadow— An NBA player retires and gets a job as a basketball coach in a inner-city high school; the uniforms that Carver High wears in this show are the same ones that the star (Ken Howard) of the show’s team wore in high school on Long Island.

The basketball scenes were very well done.

Bruce Paltrow was the show’s creator; Gwyneth Paltrow’s father.

8) Green Acres— A New York City attorney (Eddie Albert) and his city-loving wife (Eva Gabor) attempt to live as farmers in the bizarre community of Hooterville. Hank Kimball was my favorite character, playing the bumbling county agent.

My lasting memory of this show is that seemingly every time I had it on, my father would walk in the room and say “Why the hell are you watching this?” Then five minutes later, he’d be laughing harder than I was.

7) Mister Ed— A wisecracking talking horse is the star, but he only talks to the guy who owns the barn he lives in, Wilbur Post (Alan Young). Mister Ed was a big baseball fan; he once took batting practice off of the Dodgers, with Sandy Koufax on the mound.

Good trivia; Dodgers’ CF Willie Davis was Mister Ed’s favorite ballplayer.

6) M*A*S*H— The staff of an Army hospital in the Korean War find that laughter is the best way to deal with their often-horrendous situation.

Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) is the star of the show; Alda was so recognizable as Hawkeye that it probably hurt his acting career after M*A*S*H went off the air— the series finale is one of the most-watched TV shows ever.

Alda played a therapist on Ray Donovan the last couple seasons.

5) Billions— Showtime series has now finished six seasons, a U.S. Attorney goes after a hedge fund king in a battle between two powerful New York figures. Making things sticky is that the attorney’s wife (Maggie Siff) works as a psychologist for the hedge fund guy.

Lot of interesting cameos thru the years; John Malkovich, Kevin Pollak, Eric Bogosian, pro wrestler Becky Lynch, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Durant, Mark Cuban. Great show.

4) Law and Order— 20 years, 456 episodes that follow a crime (usually a murder), usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points, the police investigation and the prosecution in court.

One of the few shows that survived the stars of the show moving on and being replaced by other characters. This show was a launching pad for many acting careers; there are 26 actors who have appeared in Billions who also appeared in at least one episode of Law and Order.

3) CSI— An elite team of police forensic evidence investigation experts work their cases in Las Vegas; in real life, I searched fingerprints for ten years for the state of New York, so I know a little bit about this line of work, but what attracted me to this show was a) Las Vegas and b) the loyalty the characters had to their co-workers and their jobs.

The eulogy Gil Grissom (William Peterson) gives after Warrick Brown is murdered is one of the great speeches (albeit a short one) in television history.

2) Odd Couple— Two divorced friends who are complete opposites share an apartment; one is really neat and stuffy photographer, the other a sloppy, easy-going sportswriter.

1) Magnum PI— The adventures of a Hawaii-based private investigator (Tom Selleck), as he solves cases with the help of his buddies, TC (Roger Mosley) a helicopter pilot, club manager Rick (Larry Manetti) and Higgins (John Hillerman) who runs the estate Magnum lives on.

The parade of beautiful women as guest stars on the show was an 80’s who’s who of  Hollywood: Sharon Stone, Jill St John, Mimi Rogers, Leslie Uggams, Erin Gray, Dana Delany, to name a few.

Frank Sinatra did an episode near the end of the series; Ernest Borgnine, Carol Burnett, Cesar Romero, Ten Danson, Dennis Weaver— a long list of famous guest stars.

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with the weekend here……..

13) SEC football is still three months away, but it turned into the WWE this week, with Nick Saban/Jimbo Fisher getting into a war of words about the current state of recruiting.

Fisher’s Aggies landed seven 5-star recruits this spring, after they signed a total of five in the previous four seasons. A&M boosters ponyed up lot of cash (over $20M???) for NIL deals, which is how college sports works nowadays.

Alabama/Texas A&M meet on October 8; Crimson Tide is favored by 16, since most freshmen redshirt- their effect won’t be felt much until 2023. 

12) There is part of me whispering in the back of my head; these two are just staging this ruckus to pump up the volume for their sport in the offseason, create some buzz, but Saban is 70 years old now— recruiting is going to get tougher for him, and obviously, he knows it. 

11) WR Jordan Addison transferred from Pittsburgh to USC; he was considered the #1 player in the transfer portal. 

10) It was a good day and a bad day for the New York Mets:
Good news— Mets 7, St Louis 6 (10)— Pete Alonso hit a walk-off homer for the win.
Bad news— Max Scherzer is out 6-8 weeks with an oblique strain.

9) Mets are playing in Denver this weekend; it was 84 in Denver Thursday, but it is supposed to snow there Friday night/Saturday, with up to five inches of the white stuff expected. With their lack of pitching depth, getting games postponed ain’t going to help any. 

8) It is amusing how some hitters are whining about the new dimensions at Camden Yards; the left field fence is higher and is 20-30 feet further from home plate this season. Camden Yards is now a pretty good pitchers’ park, and obviously, hitters don’t like that. Before this season, this was one of the best hitters’ parks in baseball. 

7) Tuesday night was a rough one in Boston; Thursday was a lot better.
Celtics 127, Heat 102— Boston led 71-45 at halftime, evening series 1-1. Celtics made 20 of their 40 three-point shots.

Red Sox 12, Seattle 6— Trevor Story went 4-for-4 with three homers, five runs scored and seven RBI. He had 13 total bases for the night. Seattle’s long relievers are terrible. 

6) This brings up one of the most underrated records in baseball history; May 23, 2002, Shawn Green went 6-6 in a game, with four homers, a double, seven RBI in a 16-3 win at Milwaukee. Going to beat hard to beat that record- 19 total bases in one game. 

5) There have already been nine no-hitters in minor league baseball this season; one team, the San Antonio Missions, threw two of them in a 3-day span. Missions are the AA farm club of the San Diego Padres. 

4) Baltimore 9, New York 6— Bronx tied game in top of the 9th, but Anthony Santander walked it off with a 3-run homer down the left field line. Santander is actually having a better season at the plate this year, even with Camden Yards being a bigger ballpark.

3) Arizona 3, Cubs 1— Weird game. Zac Gallen got the win, but lasted only five innings. He threw 40 pitches in the fifth inning, but didn’t give up any runs.

Cubs’ C Willson Contreras doubled/homered in the first inning Monday night; he is 0-11 since then. 

2) St Louis Cardinals are 4-8 in their last 12 games; they’re calling up their two best minor league prospects, 2B Nolan Gorman and LHP Matthew Liberatore, who will both make their big league debuts in Pittsburgh this weekend. 

1) Minnesota sent SS prospect Royce Lewis back to AAA when Carlos Correa came off the IL, even after Lewis hit a homer and a double the day before his demotion. Lewis hit .308 in 39 AB’s for the Twins; it is hard to imagine he will be in the minor leagues for too long. 

Thursday’s Den: USFL notes and doing some thinking out loud

USFL notes:
Birmingham Stallions (5-0)
— Trailed at halftime in four of five games
— Outscored opponents 78-27 in second half.
— Outrushed last two foes 281-115
— 5-0 against spread

Houston Gamblers (1-4)
— Lost last four games.
— Led all five games at halftime
— Last four games went over total
— Outscored 73-26 in second half.

Michigan Panthers (1-4)
— Threw for 322 yards LW (total of 225 previous three games).
— 0-3 in games decided by 5 or fewer points.
— Outgained four of their five opponents.
— Their only win was 24-0 over 1-4 Pittsburgh.

New Jersey Generals (4-1)
— Won last four games, giving up 6-16-13-17 points.
— Have only two takeaways, have minus-2 turnover ratio.
— Allowed only 383 RY in four games (76.6/game)
— Covered three of their last four games.

New Orleans Breakers (3-2)
— Scored 23+ points in their wins, 13-17 in losses.
— Three of five games stayed under total
— Turned ball over eight games in last three games (minus-5)
— Trailed last three games at halftime.

Philadelphia Stars (2-3)
— Last three weeks, gave up 224.7 rushing yards/game.
— Gave up 23+ points in all five games.
— Have been outgained in every game. 

— Scored 30-26 points in wins; 17-16-17 in losses.

Pittsburgh Maulers (1-4)
— Got first win last week, on last play of game. 
— Outscored 44-28 in second half of games.
— Three of their last four games went over total.
— All four losses are by 7+ points.

Tampa Bay Bandits (3-2)
— Were hold to 3-10 points in their two losses.
— Were held scoreless in 2nd half in three of five games.
— Three of five games stayed under total.
— Were outgained in four of their five games.

Elsewhere in the world,
Golden State 112, Dallas 87— Warriors shot 56% from the floor.

Calgary 9, Edmonton 6— How do you score six goals and lose a playoff game? Flames blew a 6-2 lead, then scored last three goals of game.

Carolina 2, NY Rangers 1, OT— Hurricanes scored at 3:12 of the extra session.

Mets 11, Cardinals 4— Max Scherzer walked off mound with “left side discomfort” in sixth inning, a potentially large problem for New York.

Brewers 7, Braves 6 (11)— Keston Hiura walked it off with a two-run homer; Milwaukee tied game in bottom of 9th, with a run off Kenley Jansen.

Red Sox 5, Astros 1— Altuve led off game with a home run; Houston got one hit the rest of the way off of Nick Pivetta.

Rangers 6, Angels 5 (10)— Angels get swept by Texas; Nathaniel Lowe walked it off with a 2-run homer.

Astros’ P Jake Odorizzi avoided major injury, has sprains/strains of ligaments near his left ankle.

Pac-12 scrapped division play for their football; teams with two best winning %age in league games will play for the conference championship. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……

13) If I ran a TV network and could choose who our NFL game analysts were, I’d prefer guys who have coached. They’ve studied the game thoroughly, know it inside and out and are critical, which is essential. You never know if a former player wants to criticize guys he knows.

This season, I’d be interested in Sean Payton/Mike Zimmer, just to see what they had to offer. Jason Garrett has gotten better on USFL games this spring.

12) Dodgers swept a scheduled doubleheader at home over Arizona Tuesday; it was the first scheduled twinbill at Chavez Ravine since 1987, when a visit by the Pope necessitated s game to be postponed/rescheduled.

11) Diamondbacks are 12-7 in games decided by 1-2 runs, but they’re 6-13 in games decided by three or more runs.

10) Miami 118, Boston 107:
— Heat outscored Boston 39-14 in third quarter.
— Butler scored 17 points in that decisive quarter, had 41 for game.
— Celtics shot only 11 for 34 on the arc.
— Heat leads series, 1-0 

9) Astros 13, Red Sox 4:
— Eovaldi is third pitcher ever to allow five homers in one inning- Astros hit five taters in a 9-run second inning.
— Other two pitchers who allowed five homers in an inning: Chase Anderson in 2020 and Michael Blazek in 2017. 

8) Pittsburgh Pirates’ last three games:
Sunday, they won 1-0, but didn’t get any hits.
Monday, they lost 9-0 at Wrigley, giving up eight runs in first inning
Tuesday, they lost 7-0 at Wrigley; rough week for them. 

7) First five picks in next month’s NBA Draft:
Orlando, Oklahoma City, Houston, Sacramento, Detroit. 

6) Quote of the Day, part 2, from Aaron Judge, about the Orioles’ ballpark:
“It’s a travesty, man. I’m pretty upset. It just looks like a Create-A-Park now.”

Judge is used to pop-ups to right field being home runs; now in Baltimore they’ve moved the fences back and raised them. Harder to hit home runs there; oh well. 

5) NFL players with most running plays of 15+ yards last year:
23— Jonathan Taylor
19— Dalvin Cook
17— Nick Chubb
15— Josh Allen
13— Devin Singletary/Rashaad Penny

4) College football teams with fewest returning starters this fall:
5— Arizona State, Hawai’i, Nevada
6— FIU, Coastal Carolina
7— California, UCLA
8— Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Wisconsin, Wyoming

3) XFL games will be on ESPN and Disney channels when they start up next spring. Going to be lot of football to choose from, between them and the USFL. 

2) If you like watching the NFL, they have a one-hour special on NFL Network called “Miked Up 2021” with highlights from all over the league from last season. As usual, NFL Films does a great job with the program— they cover just about all the teams, I think.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL— Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Padres, Giants, Cardinals. 
AL— New York, Twins, Astros. Wild Cards: Angels, Rays, Blue Jays

Tuesday’s Den: Some early trends for Week 1 of the NFL season

Bills @ Rams
— Buffalo won last three road openers.
— Bills are 5-3 ATS in last eight road openers.
— Bills are 7-5 ATS last 12 games as an underdog in road openers.

— Rams won/covered last seven home openers.
— Under McVay, Rams are 5-0 SU/ATS in Week 1.
— Under is 4-2 in last six home openers.

49ers @ Bears
— Won last three road openers, scoring 31-31-41 points.
— Since 1994, they’re 2-8 ATS as a favorite in road opener.
— Under is 7-5-1 in last 13 road openers.

— Chicago started out 0-1 seven of last eight years.
— Bears won three of last four home openers.
— Under is 5-0 in their last five home openers.

Patriots @ Dolphins
— Won/covered five of last seven road openers.
— Since 1998, they’re 6-1 ATS as an underdog in road opener.
— Third straight year they’re playing Miami in Week 1.

— Over is 11-2 in Miami’s last 13 home openers.
— Dolphins are 6-4 ATS in last ten home openers.
— Since 2003, Miami is 2-5 ATS as a favorite in home opener. 

Saints @ Falcons
— Saints lost four of last five road openers.
— Since 2010, New Orleans is 2-10 ATS in road openers, 0-6 if favored.
— Under is 4-2 in their last six road openers.

— Falcons lost last two home openers, after a 14-2 SU/ATS run.
— Since 1999, Atlanta is 7-2 ATS as an underdog in home openers.
— Falcons started out 0-1 five of the last six seasons.

Ravens @ Jets
— Ravens are 9-5 ATS in last 14 road openers.
— Last six years, Baltimore is 5-1 ATS in Week 1 games.
— Last 15 years, over is 10-4-1 in their road openers.

— Jets lost last four home openers (0-4 ATS), scoring 11.8 ppg.
— Jets started out 0-1 five of last six seasons.
— Under is 4-1 in their last five home openers.

Steelers @ Bengals
— Pittsburgh is 4-1-1 SU in last six road openers.
— This is 8th straight year Steelers are opening on road.
— Their last five road openers stayed under the total.

— Bengals lost four of last six home openers.
— Cincinnati started out 1-0 five of last eight seasons.
— Over is 4-2 in their last six home openers.

Browns @ Panthers
— Cleveland is 3-0 ATS as a favorite in road openers.
— Since 2005, Browns are 0-16-1 SU in Week 1
— Under is 5-1 in their last six road openers.

— Since 2011, Panthers are 7-4 ATS in home openers.
— Last eight years, Carolina is 5-3 ATS in Week 1.
— Under is 6-3 in their last nine home openers. 

Eagles @ Lions
— Eagles lost three of last four road openers.
— Since 2005, Philly is 4-8 ATS as a favorite in road openers.
— Eagles started out 1-0 in nine of last 11 seasons.

— Detroit’s last eleven season openers went over the total.
— Since 1999, Lions are 7-4 ATS as an underdog in home openers.
— Over is 9-3 in their last dozen home openers. 

Colts @ Texans
— Colts lost 10 of their last 12 road openers.
— Indy started 0-1 seven of last eight years.
— Over is 5-1 in their last six Week 1 games.

— Texans are 8-4 in last dozen home openers.
— Houston covered its last three Week 1 games.
— Over is 3-1 in their last four Week 1 games.

Jaguars @ Commanders
— Jaguars covered four of their last five road openers.
— Jacksonville is 10-8 ATS as an underdog on road openers.
— Their last three Week 1 games went over the total.

— Washington lost eight of last ten home openers.
— Since 2009, Commanders are 1-5 ATS as a favorite in home openers.
— Over is 7-4 in their last eleven home openers.

Chiefs @ Cardinals
— Kansas City started 1-0 the last seven years, scoring 35.1 ppg.
— Chiefs won five of last seven road openers.
— Over is 7-3 in their last ten road openers.

— Arizona won its last two home openers, scoring 30-34 points.
— Average total in their last three Week 1 games: 49.7
— Under is 7-3 in their last ten home openers.

Packers @ Vikings
— Green Bay is 4-7 ATS in last eleven road openers.
— Packers allowed 31+ points in four of last five road openers.
— Over is 7-2 in their last nine road openers.

— Vikings won/covered six of last seven home openers.
— Last eight years, Minnesota is 5-3 ATS in Week 1.
— Under is 7-1 in their last eight home openers.

Raiders @ Chargers
— Raiders are 7-1-1 ATS in last nine road openers.
— Las Vegas won its Week 1 games five of last six years.
— Last 23 years, over is 14-8-1 in Raiders’ road openers.

— Chargers covered once in last five home openers.
— Bolts started out 1-0 the last three years, giving up 17.7 ppg.
— Over is 14-5 in their last nineteen home openers.

Giants @ Titans
— Giants lost 10 of their last 12 road openers.
— Giants lost last five Week 1 games, scoring 12.4 ppg.
— Since 2004, Giants are 6-9 ATS as an underdog in road openers.

— Tennessee lost six of last eight home openers.
— Since 2013, Titans are 0-5-1 ATS as a favorite in home openers.
— Under is 7-3 in their last ten home openers.

Buccaneers @ Cowboys
— Tampa Bay (-9) beat Dallas 31-29 in LY’s season opener.
— Bucs lost last two road openers, 34-23/34-24.
— Over is 10-4 in their last fourteen road openers.

— Dallas won its last five home openers (4-1 ATS)
— Last three years, Cowboys scored 35-40-41 points in home openers.
— Dallas lost five of its last eight Week 1 games.

Broncos @ Seahawks
— Broncos started 1-0 in eight of last ten seasons.
— Denver lost four of last five road openers.
— Under is 3-1 in their last four road openers.

— Since 2003, Seattle is 14-5 ATS in home openers.
— Under is 8-3 in their last eleven home openers.
— Seahawk trends reflect Russell Wilson at QB; he plays for Denver now. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

13) Pirates 1, Reds 0— Pittsburgh won the game, but didn’t get a hit; they’re 6th team since 1901 to win despite not getting any hits- it last happened in 2008, when Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo of the Angels held the Dodgers hitless, but lost anyway.

Cincinnati is 9-26; things aren’t going well for them.

Hunter Greene threw 118 pitches Sunday, the most by any pitcher in a game this season. Coming into Sunday, Greene was 0-5, 8.57 in his previous five starts. He doesn’t give up a hit in 7.1 IP here, and they still lose. 

12) Saturday/Sunday, there were seven Game 7’s, between NHL/NBA playoffs; I’m a believer that the NHL playoffs are better than the NBA version. Basketball doesn’t need seven games for each series— too many games. By the 7th game, everyone knows everyone’s plays and the games are uglier than normal games.

Playoff hockey is tremendous, where a hot goalie can keep an underdog in the hunt, and one odd bounce of the puck can send the favorite home unhappy. 

11) Calgary 3, Dallas 2 OT— Flames outshot Dallas 67-28, but Stars’ goalie Jake Oettinger was just awesome in goal, keeping his team afloat until Calgary finally scored 15:09 into overtime. 

Flames will now play their arch-rival Edmonton in playoffs for first time since 1991; this also guarantees a Canadian franchise will be in the NHL’s Final Four. Last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup was 1993, when Montreal won. 

10) Rangers 4, Penguins 3 OT— New York rallies back from down three games to one, scoring at 4:46 of OT to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

For Pittsburgh, it is the fourth year in a row they lost in first round of playoffs. Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2016, 2017, the 4th and 5th times they’ve won the title.

9) In this round of the NBA playoffs, only five of 26 games were decided by less than seven points; the series were mostly close, but the games weren’t much fun to watch- the Memphis-Golden State series was mostly an exception.

Suns were down 57-27 at HALFTIME Sunday night; at home!!! How does that happen? 

On to Week 5 of the USFL:
8) Tampa Bay 27, Michigan 20:
— Michigan outgained Bandits 407-273, but were minus-2 in turnovers.
— Michigan QB Patterson threw for 304 yards.
— Jeff Fisher’s Panthers start the season 1-4. 

7) New Jersey 27, New Orleans 17:
— Generals averaged 6.1 yards/play, outgained New Orleans 401-270.
— Breakers completed only 15-36 passes, threw two picks.
— 4-1 New Jersey leads the North Division. 

6) Birmingham 30, Philadelphia 17:
— Hometown Stallions are 5-0; they trailed in 2nd half of every game.
— Switch to QB Smith provided spark for Stallions; he threw for 203 yards.
— Birmingham ran 75 plays, Stars ran only 49. 

5) Pittsburgh 21, Houston 20:
— Maulers threw a 9-yard TD pass as time expired for the game-winning TD.
— QB Vad Lee came off bench to throw for 170 yards, two TD’s.
— Both teams are now 1-4. 

4) Not many people had heard of Vad Lee before Sunday; his given name is Lavaedeay Monlique “Vad” Lee. He started at Georgia Tech in 2013, but transferred to I-AA James Madison after that season and played there for two years. He played three games for Saskatchewan in the CFL in 2016, and then his career pretty much came to a halt. He played in the Spring League for couple of years, but now, at age 29, he is kind of in the limelight for the first time.

3) Drew Brees is apparently out at NBC after one season as a studio analyst; now he is making noise about playing again. I’m sure Roger Goodell is thrilled that a guy who has been doing TV ads for a gambling app is talking about playing ball again. 

Chances are probably better that Brees winds up doing TV on FOX.

2) Dodgers 5, Phillies 4— Gavin Lux walked it off with a 2-run double in ninth inning as LA avoided a 4-game sweep by the Phillies, who gave torrid slugger Bryce Harper the day off. 

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Padres, Giants, Cardinals.
AL— New York, Twins, Astros. Wild Cards: Angels, Rays, Blue Jays

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday…….

— NFL Week 1 pointspreads:
Buffalo @ Rams (-1)
San Francisco (-6) @ Chicago
New England @ Miami (-3)
New Orleans (-3) @ Atlanta

Baltimore (-4) @ NJ Jets
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (-6)
Cleveland (-4.5) @ Carolina
Philadelphia (-3.5) @ Detroit

Indianapolis (-7.5) @ Houston
Jacksonville @ Washington (-4.5)
Kansas City (-3) @ Arizona
Green Bay (-1.5) @ Minnesota

LA Chargers (-4) @ Las Vegas
NJ Giants @ Tennessee (-6.5)
Tampa Bay (-2.5) @ Dallas
Denver (-3.5) @ Seattle

— Chicago Bears don’t have a road game in December; three home games and a bye.

— As if they don’t have enough problems, Houston Texans are only team that plays three games against teams that are coming off their bye week.

— Washington Commanders have an odd three-week stretch:
Week 13— @ Giants
Week 14— bye week
Week 15— vs Giants at home

Not often an NFL team plays consecutive games against the same team.

All 32 NFL teams play at least one game on a Thursday this season.

This coming season in college football:
— 66 teams have a new offensive coordinator
— 56 teams have a new defensive coordinator

Over half the I-A teams in the country have a new offensive coordinator.

— USC’s football team poached six transfers who play defense; Trojans allowed 31.8 ppg last season, which is why they changed coaches in the offseason, and why they added experienced players to try and fill some gaps.

— All told this weekend, there are seven Game 7’s in NBA/NHL playoffs.

— Toronto Maple Leafs are the first team in MLB/NBA/NHL history to lose a winner-take-all game in the opening round of the playoffs five years in a row.

In baseball………
— Phillies 8, Dodgers 3— Philly won first three games in this series, scoring 29 runs. Coming into the series, Phillies were 14-17, but they sure can score some runs.

Thursday/Friday, Phillies became the first team ever (home or visitor) to allow 7+ runs in back-to-back games at Dodger Stadium yet win both games.

— NL East standings:
Mets 23-12
Phillies 17-17
Braves 16-18
Marlins 15-18
Nationals 12-23

— Mets catcher James McCann has a wrist injury, is out for six weeks.

NL West standings:
Dodgers 20-11
Padres 21-13
Giants 20-13
Diamondbacks 18-16
Rockies 17-16

— Red Sox are 2-9 this season in games where game-winning run scored from 7th inning on.

— Braves 6, Padres 5— San Diego scored four runs in top of 8th to take 5-2 lead, then Atlanta scored four runs in bottom of 8th to win the game.

— A’s 4, Angels 3— Luis Barrera of the A’s is the second player in MLB history whose first career HR was a walkoff HR with his team trailing by more than one run and down to its last out.

The other was Hank Severeid for the St. Louis Browns on April 17, 1915. 1915!!!!

Couple nights ago around 4am, I stumbled across an old movie I had never seen: The Gong Show Movie.

Back around 1980 or so, there was a daytime game show, The Gong Show; it was American Idol on quaaludes— five or six contestants would perform, but very few of them had actual talent.

There were three celebrity judges; if one of them hit the gong before your act was over, you had to leave. If you made it to the end, you would get scored by the judges and there was a winner for each show. Can’t remember what they got, but it wasn’t much.

The host was Chuck Barris, who created the Dating Game and put the Newlywed Game on ABC also; he was a TV genius, but he was a little…….quirky. As host of The Gong Show, he was in a world of his own, dancing during acts, misreading cue cards. It was bizarre at times.

They had this guy, The Unknown Comic, who would come on stage couple times a week and tell jokes; he always had a paper bag over his head. Occasionally his jokes would have to be bleeped out; they were off-color.

Another guy was Gene Gene the Dancing Machine; he would come on stage and just start dancing until they were to a commercial, for no apparent reason.

The Gong Show TV show was awesome, it was great fun. 20-year old me loved it. The movie didn’t have as many censors; it also wasn’t as funny, but I did laugh several times. It was like catching up with an old friend, a friend who often made you shake your head in disbelief. 

Saturday’s Den: Looking at AFC schedules…….

Baltimore
— Weeks 1-4, they play the four AFC East teams.
— Three primetime games, 14 games are at 1:00.
— Bye week is Week 10.
— Their three AFC North road games are in December/January.
— Ravens lost five games LY by 3 or less points; can they go from worst to first in AFC North?

Buffalo
— Open season with night games vs Rams/Tennessee.
— Five of their first seven games are against 2021 playoff teams.
— Bye week is Week 7, kind of early.
— Bills have three short-week road games.
— Four of their six AFC East games are in December/January.

Cincinnati
— AFC champs get five prime-time games this year, two on Monday nights.
— Four of their first six games are on the road.
— Bye is in Week 10.
— They have three 4:25 Sunday games, high-profile tilts vs Cowboys-Chiefs-Bucs.
— Over/under win total of 9.5 signals this franchise’s improvement with Burrow at QB.

Cleveland
— Most important thing: when will Deshaun Watson be eligible to play?
— Browns open at Carolina, a rumored destination for Baker Mayfield.
— Bye is in Week 9.
— Weeks 10-14, they’re on road four of five weeks.
— Week 13 they visit Houston, Watson’s old team. 

Denver
— Week 1, Russell Wilson goes back to Seattle on a Monday night.
— Four of their first six games are in primetime.
— Bye week is Week 9.
— Their two games with Chiefs are in Weeks 14-17.
— Play Rams at SoFi Stadium on Christmas Day.

Houston
— Texans start season against Colts, end season against Colts.
— Only primetime game is Week 9 vs Philly, a Thursday night.
— Bye week is Week 6.
— Week 3 Jaguars visit Chicago, the team Lovie Smith led to a Super Bowl.
— Old friend Deshaun Watson visits with Cleveland in Week 13.

Indianapolis
— Old friend Carson Wentz visits Indianapolis in Week 8
— Four primetime games for Colts, three of them after Thanksgiving.
— Their bye week is Week 14.
— Potential cold weather game at the Giants in Week 17.
— Colts have lost six in row at Foxboro by average of 19 ppg; they visit Patriots in Week 9.

Jacksonville
— First game for new coach Pederson? Against his old QB, Carson Wentz, who is also on a new team (Washington).
— Three of their first four games are on the road.
— Pederson visits his old team, the Eagles, in Week 4.
— Jaguars’ bye week is Week 11.
— Only primetime game is Week 16 (December 22) at the Jets. Bundle up.

Kansas City
— Open in Week 1 at Arizona, site of this season’s Super Bowl.
— Play in primetime five times, including three of first five weeks.
— On road three weeks in row, Weeks 13-15.
— Bye week is Week 8.
— Have five road games in domed stadiums.

Las Vegas
— Week 15, coach McDaniels’ old team visits Las Vegas, the Patriots.
— Weeks 14-16, Raiders play all three games in primetime.
— Bye week is Week 6, very early.
— Week 8. Raiders visit New Orleans/former Raiders coach Dennis Allen.
— Christmas Eve night game in Pittsburgh could be frosty.

LA Chargers
— Open season with two big rivals (Raiders/Chiefs).
— Five primetime games; league has high expectation for the Bolts.
— Bye week is in Week 8.
— Week 17 “home” game is against their landlord, the Rams.
— Week 18 in Denver is likely to be a cold weather game.

Miami
— Dolphins are 3-point home favorite in Week 1 vs New England.
— Miami has December road games in Buffalo, Foxboro.
— Bye week is in Week 11.
— Dolphins will see former coach Flores; they host Steelers in Week 7.
— Miami visits coach McDaniel’s old team, the 49ers, in Week 13. 

New England
— Open season with road games at Miami, Pittsburgh.
— Play four straight primetime games, Weeks 12-15 (three on road)
— Only one 4:25 game all season, Week 4 at Green Bay.
— Bye week is in Week 10.
— Two games vs Bills are in Weeks 13-18; January 8 in Buffalo should be fun.

Jets
— Jets lost last four home openers; they host Ravens in Week 1.
— Only primetime game is Week 16 (December 22) vs Jaguars.
— Their bye week is in Week 10.
— Jets play Patriots in Week 8, Bills in Week 9, then a bye and Patriots again.
— Week 13 at Minnesota is their only game in a dome this year.

Pittsburgh
— Open season with Bengals, Patriots, Browns; tough start.
— Bengals won last meeting with Steelers 41-10, then said Steelers “gave up”
— Bye week is Week 9; will rookie QB Pickett be starter by then?
— Two games with Ravens are in Weeks 14-17.
— Have five primetime games, three of them on road.

Tennessee
— Titans are -6.5 in Week 1 vs Giants, 2nd-biggest Week 1 favorite.
— Have four primetime games, three of them on road.
— Their bye week is in Week 6, an early one.
— Titans visit Philly in Week 13; they traded WR AJ Brown there last month.
— Two games with Colts are early, Weeks 4, 7.