Sunday's List of 13:
Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
All basketball information on college basketball page
Every bowl will be analyzed on college football page........
Week 16 NFL info now posted on NFL page
Six most popular picks in the Westgate Hotel handicapping contest, where some of the best handicappers in America put up $1,500 apiece, pick 5 games a week:
T6) Rams -4.5/Ravens -5.5-- Houston's starting QB was on Rams' practice squad six days ago; Ravens need the win.
5) Cardinals +8-- Arizona is undefeated at home.
4) Broncos, -3-- Cincinnati has struggled in primetime games.
3) Panthers +1.5-- Manziel making first NFL road start.
2) Vikings, +6.5-- Minnesota seems to play a close game every week.
1) Lions -6.5-- Clausen has a 1-9 record as an NFL starter.
Season record of six most popular picks each week: 51-29-1
2013 season record of six most popular picks each week: 42-57-4
Quote of the Day
"That's how they play. They're very naïve and they play how they play, so they [can't] care less who's out there or who's at wide receiver. They don't care. That's the Philadelphia Eagles' defense. I've been there a lot of years and witnessed a lot of players, wide receivers, tight ends get off some huge games on them. I'm just happy to be on that side and send them home with a loss."
What was the name of the NHL franchise that used to call Oakland home?
Jets-Browns played in the first-ever Monday Night Football game, a 31-21 Browns' win back in 1970.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks once played for the Albany Patroons in the old CBA; so did Dallas Maverick coach Rick Carlisle.
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Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Kentucky 83, UCLA 44-- Wildcats led 24-0; it was 41-7 at the half. This is same team that trailed Columbia and Buffalo at halftime. Kentucky has played much better against the bigger-name opponents.
12) Get well soon, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, who was found to have a problem with an unruptured aneurysm. He's a lucky man; those things can be fatal. There is no word when Cronin can resume coaching.
11) Villanova 82, Syracuse 77 OT--- Wildcats trailed by 15 in the first half, rallied to win a game Syracuse might need on Selection Sunday.
10) Big East/FOX Sports1 have a great idea, starting league play with five consecutive games on New Year's Eve; they did it last year too. Get to see the whole league in one day without switching the channel.
9) Texas Southern 71, Michigan State 64 OT-- Huh? Tigers are 2-8, losing by 40 at Gonzaga, 26 at Eastern Washington and Baylor. Terrible loss for the Spartans.
8) Gotham Classic was an odd twinbill at Madison Square Garden; first game was Pepperdine-Richmond, nightcap was West Virginia-NC State. They had a crowd of 8,088 in the supposed "....Mecca of college basketball". They draw 10,000+ for the play-in games in Dayton. New York City is more of an NBA city.
7) Gas is $1.99 a gallon in San Antonio; it is $2.89 here in upstate New York; we must be getting much higher quality gasoline, huh? Nah, probably not.
6) Former Texas football coach Mack Brown is very good on TV; listened to him on the New Orleans Bowl Saturday. Former coaches generally make better analysts.
5) Big day for some mid or low-majors Saturday: check out these upsets:
-- Texas Southern 71, Michigan State 64 OT
-- SC-Upstate 53, Mississippi State 51
-- St Francis 73, Rutgers 68
-- South Carolina State 71, Houston 63
-- Lehigh 84, Arizona State 81, 3OT
-- South Dakota State 68, Utah State 65 OT
4) I missed the whole nine-year Stephen Colbert run; supposedly he is a funny guy who takes his talents to CBS now. Colbert was once an understudy for Steve Carell at Second City Chicago- he is the youngest of 11 children, two of whom died in a plane crash with their father. Lot of comics have sadness inside them.
3) Roger Goodell announced there won't be an NFL team in Los Angeles next year, so that soap opera will continue next season. Supposedly for a new stadium to get built, two teams have to move, so they'll share the new stadium like Jets/Giants do in the New Jersey swamp.
2) Redskins 27, Eagles 24-- Philly ran 30 more plays, gained 190 more yards, but had 13 penalties, while Washington had three. Sanchez has turned the ball over 13 times in seven games-- you cannot win that way. Eagles aren't dead yet, but they're close.
1) Chargers 38, 49ers 35 OT-- Niners ran for 355 yards, led 28-7 at the half but lost with Rivers throwing ball for 356 yards. Gutty performance by the Chargers to stay alive in the playoff hunt. 49ers have fallen apart, losing last four games.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff on my first day as a retiree
13) Friday was my last day as a New York State employee, so I have a pension coming to me starting in a few weeks. It is nothing, though, compared to former used car dealer Alan R. Selig’s $6M a year retirement package from major league baseball. $6M a year…….for a pension!!!!! He’ll be making more than some utility shortstops.
12) Good news/Bad News Dept: Good news: Bill Clark was named Conference USA football coach of the year this week. Bad news: Clark doesn’t have a team to coach anymore, as UAB dropped football right after the season ended.
11) Knicks TV ratings are down 20% this season, which hurts their TV network quite a bit, seeing as Knicks/Rangers games are the only good things the network shows. If this pace keeps up, stockholders are expected to lose as much as $6M in profits from LY.
10) Not only did the Dodgers send Matt Kemp to San Diego, they send a moneybag to the Padres filled with $32M to help defray the cost of Kemp’s contract. San Diego has gone wacky the last 48 hours, making five trades during that time.
Giants added Casey McGehee to take Pablo Sandoval's place at third base.
9) Mets’ payroll last year was $52M less than it was in 2008, before they had a new, taxpayer-financed stadium. Mets are rumored to be discussing a Tulowitzki trade, but the shortstop has averaged only 88 games a year the last three years, so he is a huge gamble at his hefty salary.
8) Dallas Mavericks are really good but they’re still the #6 seed in the West, so they traded for Rajan Rondo to try and get better.
Interesting gamble by Mark Cuban, who finalized the deal while in the Green Room to go on the last Stephen Colbert show Thursday night.
7) With Derek Norris off to San Diego, that’s five of the A’s seven 2014 All-Stars who are no longer on the squad. Scott Kazmir and Sean Doolittle are all that’s left and they could be going soon, too.
6) Tennessee Titans added Carson Palmer’s brother Jordan to their roster to back up Charlie Whitehurst for last two games this season. Thursday was just Whitehurst’s 4th career start in ten NFL seasons, good work if you can get it.
5) Was looking at an NFL mock draft for next spring: the first seven guys were all underclassmen, with a LB from Clemson the first senior to be chosen by the mock drafters.
4) Boston College extended football coach Steve Addazio’s contact thru 2020, which sounds like a long time from now, but for current high school seniors who redshirt a year in college, that would be their senior year.
3) UConn’s hoop team is just 4-4 after losing to Duke, first time the Huskies have been 4-4 since 1986.
2) Golden State Warriors have a 92-home game sellout streak; will be curious to see if they retain their raucous following when they head to downtown San Francisco in a couple years, and if the new building is as loud as Oracle Arena.
1) At least seven bowl directors made at least $500K last year; why? According to CBSsports.com, in the last 12 years, the average pay for the directors of the top nine bowls has tripled. Must be nice to be in that exclusive club.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here........
13) Russell Wilson still only makes $667,000 from the Seahawks; haven’t heard much about this, but they have to have tried to sign him up to a long-term contract, right? He’s going to break the bank when his contract is up, one way or the other. Hard to believe they’d let him walk.
12) Too bad about Bucks’ rookie Jabari Parker, who messed up his leg and is done for the year. Milwaukee is a fun team to watch with a good core of young players; this injury really hurts.
11) Bears benched Jay Cutler for Jimmy Clausen? Really? Wonder what Packers think about that, since they’re tied for first place with Detroit, could use a Bears win. Inserting a new QB on a short work week usually doesn’t wind up going very well.
10) Guy on ESPN the other night made a good point about how since the NCAA went with a softer, composite basketball, rather than a leather ball, now and then you see shots take odd bounces off the rim, especially the back rim and go in.
9) Michigan offered Jim Harbaugh six years, $49M; they play 12 games a year, plus a bowl game. That’s a lot of cabbage to coach 13 games, but that must be how much money the Wolverines’ program generates when they’ve got it rolling. Been a while since they had it rolling.
8) Islanders are 9-0 in overtime/shootouts this year, first team ever to win their first nine such games in a season; Blackhawks are 5-1, Edmonton is sadly 0-6, which helped cost their coach his job.
7) Going to see Mark Wahlberg’s new movie The Gambler next week; I’m assuming this is a remake of James Caan’s 1974 movie, which was very good. One advantage of being retired from my day job will be matinee movies. Popcorn tastes better in the afternoon, although it is still ridiculously expensive.
6) Angels still owe Josh Hamilton $83M over the next three years; ha!!!! Hamilton knocked in 128 runs in 2012, then knocked in a total of 123 the last two seasons, while missing 84 (25.9%) out of 324 Halo games.
5) Of the 26 basketball teams in the AAC and ACC, only seven of them are in the top 200 in strength of schedule; they schedule stiffs in December because they know their conference schedule will be enough to raise their power ratings to acceptable levels. AAC is in danger of having one team in the NCAAs this season.
4) Bo Pelini is an adult; therefore, he has to know that in this day and age, there is no such thing as a truly “private” meeting. What he said on his way out the door in Nebraska will hurt his chances of getting another D-I head coaching job and it could hurt him wherever he recruits.
3) There is a new movie out called Wedding Ringer; the father-in-law in the movie is Ken Howard, who played Coach Reeves in The White Shadow, one of the all-time great TV shows. Haven’t seen him on TV much lately, but he is an excellent actor who nailed the part of a former NBA player who became a high school basketball coach in LA in the early 80’s.
2) Listening to Hubie Brown on NBA telecasts is like taking an online course in basketball coaching; highly educational, he is still sharp as a tack and a pleasure to listen to. Learn a lot every game.
1) When your football team is going to have its fifth coach in six years next season, the man who hired all those coaches comes under scrutiny, which is why Pitt fired AD Steve Pederson this week, after Paul Chryst bolted for Wisconsin (his alma mater).
Pitt expects better than 6-6 from its once-storied football program, they’re going to have to hire the new AD before they hire a new coach which is going to cripple this year’s recruiting, unless they move very quickly.
How odd is life? Pederson basically got fired because Gary Andersen surprisingly bolted Wisconsin for Oregon State. Chryst wouldn’t have left Pitt for any other job.
Thursday's List of 13: Our Bottom 5, top 8 in the NFL
32) Redskins—Jay Gruden was an Arena League head coach for a long time but the media involvement aspect of being an NFL head coach seems to be hampering his program. Memo to coach Gruden: This isn’t the AFL; millions of people read what you say. Try not to bash your QB every single day.
31) Bears—Jay Cutler has the worst body language of any QB I’ve ever seen; he is this generation’s Jeff George. Problem #2 is, he makes $100M+ and everyone knows it’s a bum contract. Problem #1 is the offensive coordinator said so publicly. Now he is sitting behind Jimmy Clausen this week. Jimmy freakin' Clausen.
30) Raiders—Would they really move to San Antonio? In the early 90’s, there used to be a World League team called the San Antonio Riders; I think Nebraska coach Mike Riley coached that team. It would be bizarre if the Raiders moved to Texas.
29) Jaguars—Tom Coughlin will get in the Hall of Fame someday; his best work was getting the Jags into the playoffs in their second year of existence. Seems like a long time ago now, for both parties.
28) Titans—Doing a good job of playing the Washington Generals-type role and losing every game down the stretch so they get the #1 pick in the draft, which is the best way for them to get better, long-term.
8) Cardinals— Ten weeks ago, Ryan Lindley wasn’t in the NFL; now he’s starting QB for the NFC’s #1 seed. No pressure there.
7) Steelers—Win two more home games and they win the AFC North; problem is, they’ve lost to the sub-.500 Bucs/Saints at home.
6) Cowboys—They should let Murray sit this week, to rest his hand and to lessen his workload, seeing as he is on pace for 401 carries this season. Tony Romo has been a warrior this year, for sure.
5) Colts—Offense gave up three TDs in last two games; am little concerned about them going forward. Interesting game with Dallas this week.
4) Broncos—I get the feeling this could be it for Peyton Manning; not really sure why, but could see him bowing out and eventually becoming part of an ownership group of an NFL team.
3) Seahawks—Playing really good defense, but unless they beat Arizona this week, they’ll have to go on road the first week of the playoffs, which is always dicey.
2) Packers—They’re #1 on this list when playing at home, much lower when on road, not in top 10 on artificial turf. Seattle’s field has artificial turf; they don’t want to go there in January.
1) Patriots—Did you see the Alex Sandler movie where Rex Ryan plays a guy who is a huge Patriot fan, with a Belichick bobblehead on his desk and a Brady poster on the wall? If you didn’t know who Ryan was, you’d never know he wasn’t an actor. He could be very, very good on TV, if he chooses that route.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Vanak Ranadive, new owner of the Sacramento Kings turns out to be a nitwit, a guy other NBA owners see as “…..a know-it-all” who compared coaching the Kings to coaching his 12-year old daughter’s team.
This is a guy who admits he never touched a basketball, not even once until he was in his 40’s, but he knows more than professional coaches. Oy. How do people like this get rich in the first place?
12) Kings fired coach Michael Malone with an 11-13 record, which for the Kings ain’t bad; they were 9-6 before DeMarcus Cousins got sick, are 2-7 since he’s been ill, but the problem is stylistic. Kings management wants the team to play faster, Malone is a defensive guy. So despite big man Cousins being Sacramento’s best player, they’re going to start playing faster; whether they win more remains to be seen.
11) Mr Ranadive suggested that the Kings play 4-on-5 on defense and have a guy basket-hang on the other end; this is professional basketball, the highest level of a great sport and this educated fool doesn’t know enough to let his people do their jobs.
10) Which reminds me, the LA Kiss of the Arena League were on a reality show this past season; one of their nitwit owners ordered the coach to onside kick after every TD the Kiss scored. The coach has won Arenaball titles, he’s a good coach but he had to do what the owner told him to do, so they onside-kicked every time in one game. Lets just say it didn’t go very well. There is a reason some things are the way they’ve been for a long time; its because the alternatives do not work.
9) Back in 2009, the Rams were truly awful; they were getting hammered in a home game against Minnesota, when Donnie Avery scored a TD to cut the Vikings’ lead to two or three TDs- the game wasn’t close, but Avery dances and carries on like he just won the lottery.
This stuff annoys me to no end and Avery is hardly the only offender; it happens every Sunday. Celebrating a TD like a jackass should be illegal after Halloween, if your team is behind and has a losing record. Pretend you care that your team sucks, instead of being full of yourself and being a damn fool.
8) Christmas music is uplifting, especially in malls this time of year, but if you haven’t seen Michigan State hoop coach Tom Izzo playing Jingle Bells on an accordion, get yourself to YouTube right now and find it—it is tremendous.
7) Amazing Stat of the Day—New Orleans Saints have had a great offense, but they haven’t scored a first quarter TD in their last ten road games. Ten. That’s well over a year and it is hard to fathom.
6) Deion Sanders’ old house is on the market for $12M; it has two bowling alleys in it. It would be so awesome to have a house with bowling alleys in it. Not sure if the $12M includes bowling shoes or if you have to rent those.
5) No matter what the NFC South winner’s record winds up as, and it looks like it’ll be under .500, they will not be able to draft higher than 21st, those are the rules, just like the Super Bowl champ always picks last in the first round.
4) Portland center Robin Lopez, the more durable of the Lopez brothers, broke his hand and will miss his first games in almost three years this week. Portland has a really good team, one of many strong teams out west who probably wish they were in the east.
3) Astros signed SS Jed Lowie to a 3-year, $23M contract; this was a guy they threw at multiple times LY, almost starting a fracas in one game with Oakland. Guess it was former manager Bo Porter who didn’t like Lowrie, since he is gone now and the Astros just made Lowrie very wealthy.
2) Still don’t think an under-.500 NFL team should make the playoffs; they should defer to a better team in another division with a winning record. Who would object to this?
1) Jeb Bush might be the greatest guy in the world, I know nothing about him except he was once governor of Florida, but I don’t want anyone else in that family (or the Clinton family) being President. Enough already.
I’d vote for Reggie Bush, Kurt Busch, former NFL center Blair Bush, August Busch, anyone but someone from that family. Go do something else. We need different, better leaders, not the same ol’ thing over and over.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but..........
13) Cowboys’ RB DeMarco Murray broke his left hand, probably won't play this week; he was on pace to carry ball 401 times this season, which means he was headed to Jamal Anderson-type burnout. 401 carries is too many; he could use a rest.
12) Will Muschamp has been hired as Auburn’s defensive coordinator, but he won’t be working the Tigers’ bowl game; why? He’s more valuable recruiting right now than coaching in a meaningless bowl.
Signing Day is in early February which means that recruiting season overlaps with bowl preparations. Bruce Feldman wrote an excellent book about this a few years ago; if you like college football, Meat Market is well worth your time.
11) Miami Hurricanes haven’t won a bowl game since 2006, which seems odd.
10) San Diego State is playing Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl; Aztecs won their last eight games against service academies and they play Air Force (best of the academy teams) every year.
9) Bryce Harper signed a 2-year deal with Washington for $7.5, couple days after he stiffed the team's fans by not showing up at FanFest, where obviously enough, fans can come and meet players and buy tickets and stuff. Cruddy move by Harper; shouldn’t stiff the fans.
8) Speaking of the Nationals, why are they so eager to unload Jordan Zimmerman? Good young pitchers are hard to find these days.
7) Miami Dolphins were outscored 48-3 in second half of their last two games, news that makes Jim Harbaugh’s agent smile. Price for Harbaugh goes up every week.
6) Odd stat of the day; Green Bay Packers were outscored in second half in seven of their last eight games- they’re also 1-4 on artificial turf this season.
5) Daniel Snyder bought the Redskins in 1999; since then, he’s employed eight head coaches and 16 starting QBs. In 16 years. Yikes. Snyder must be some kind of financial wizard; he had enough money to buy an NFL team when he was 34, and I’m pretty sure he made his own money rather than inheriting it.
4) Not to be outdone, Cleveland Browns have had 21 starting QBs since ’99, but they were an expansion team in ’99, and they figure to be settling in now on Johnny Manziel as their starter the next few years. At least they hope they are.
3) Burt Reynolds is selling off some of his stuff to pay bills; the Trans Am he drove in Smokey and the Bandit brought back $450K last week.
2) Lakers are 8-17 this season, but 7-8 since Nick Young returned to the lineup. Young is a loose cannon, but a loose cannon that can make shots and he’s helped take some heat off of Kobe Bryant down the stretch in games.
1) After watching a few episodes of Storage Wars, I’m guessing it can be annoying to live with an auctioneer; how would you ever get the last word in?
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday.......
Chiefs 31, Raiders 13-- KC had 19-yard edge in field position; teams who win field position by 10+ yards this season are now 80-3 SU. Field position and getting first downs to move the chains isn't talked about nearly enough on game telecasts. Chiefs had lost three games in row, so this breather came at a good time.
Ravens 20, Jaguars 12-- Baaltimore blocked punt for TD early on; six of first nine TDs that scored Sunday were scored by defense/special teams. Despite that, under is 12-2 this week, as offenses took the week off, even with no bad weather games. Jags play Tennessee Thursday night in a game neither side wants to win.
Steelers 27, Falcons 20-- AFC North is now 12-2-1 vs NFC South this year, which is why Carolina is 5-8-1 and in first place. Falcons did HBO's Hard Knocks this year; Miami did it last year. Both had terrible seasons. Good luck finding someone to do it next year. Steelers win AFC North if they win their last two games.
Colts 17, Texans 10-- Fitzpatrick/rookie Savage both got hurt in this game, meaning Houston will go with Thaddeus Lewis (2-4 as NFL starter) next week at home against Baltimore- they'll have to sign a backup off the street. NFL teams need to dress three QBs for every game; it hurts the product when you have a QB playing who has no backup for the rest of that game.
Bengals 30, Browns 0-- Manziel's debut was ugly but before he even took the field, Bengals drove .81 yards in 14 plays (took 7:07) to go ahead 7-0. Cincinnati ran ball for 244 yards, and Manziel doesn't play defense, but he has a lot to learn. Browns finish at Carolina and against the Ravens-- going to be interesting to watch, since it can't get much worse than it was in this game.
Patriots 41, Dolphins 14-- Jim Harbaugh's agent enjoyed this score. Nitwits will run amuck about New England's offense; in fact, they scored four TDs on offense; three of four came on a drive of 47 or less yards- they blocked a FG for a TD to start scoring very early in the game. Dolphins scored total of 43 points in last three games.
Panthers 19, Buccaneers 17-- 5-8-1 Carolina is atop NFC South as I type this; they won both games against the Bucs, and Cam Newton didn't play either game. Panthers had a 22-yard edge in field position; their only TD came on a 4-yard drive. Nine of 11 Bucs' drives started 80+ yards from goal line. Hard to score a lot that way.
Giants 24, Redskins 13-- Game turned on odd play at end of half; RGIII looked like he ran for a TD that would've put Washington up 17-7 at half, but ball slipped out of his hands as he dove for the goal line- he recovered in the air, but landed OB in the end zone and thats not a legal recovery, so Redskins didn't score at all on the drive.
Bills 21, Packers 13-- Green Bay is 1-4 on artifical turf, with only win at Minnesota by a FG. Rodgers was 17-42 passing, tough day with no TDs and two picks. Packers' game with Detroit in Week 17 could decide NFC North and a first-round bye. Buffalo can clinch a winning season by winning at Oakland next week.
Lions 16, Vikings 14-- Six of last eight Minnesota games were decided by three or less points, or in OT. Detroit was +2 in turnovers, had 11-yard edge in field position; their only TD came on an 11-yard drive. Vikings tried a 68-yard FG on last play of the game to win it; they would've had a better chance at hitting a Hail Mary.
Jets 16, Titans 11-- Gang Green had hard time beating Tennessee team that benefitted by losing- they're going for that valuable #1 pick in draft. Rex Ryan is getting fired so he has no reason to lose. Tennessee hasn't won a game since the baseball playoffs were going on, losing its last eight games (0-4 vs spread in last four).
Broncos 22, Chargers 10-- Denver won its fourth game in row, allowing 43 points in last three; they ran ball 39 times, dropped back to pass 23 times, with Manning sick-- he missed one series late in first half. Backup Osweiler didn't look too sharp in relief. Chargers are 3-5 in last eight games after starting season 5-1.
Seahawks 17, 49ers 7-- In 16 drives against Seattle this season, 49ers scored one TD with six 3/outs. Seahawks allowed total of 27 points in last four games-- they go to the desert to face Arizona and its third-string QB next week. 49ers are 7-7, as speculation begins as to who their next coach will be.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday......
13) White Sox signed Melky Cabrera to a 3-year contract as they escalate their spending war with the Cubs in the Windy City. Both teams should sell a lot more season tickets in 2015.
12) Albany 77, Siena 68-- My alma mater beats their crosstown rival for third year in row and 4th time in five years, in front of 10.278 at the Times Union Center. Why do I mention this? Because every time they play its a Siena home game, which is BS.
11) Siena should play in Albany's gym now and then, even if teams play a second game some years; its only fair. Not like Siena's team is superior; they've lost four of the last five meetings. Siena plays in a better league, is more popular with local fans, but fact of the matter is, both teams do well in their respective leagues. Its spineless to duck playing in SEFCU Arena- Albany's administration should tell Siena to take a hike unless they get a home game in the series now and then. .
10) Kansas 63, Utah 60-- Utes were down 21 in this game, stormed back; at the end of the day, they may have gotten more out of this game than the Jayhawks, who are very thin at point guard. Utah will finish near the top of the Pac-12.
9) VCU 93, Northern Iowa 87, 2OT-- Panthers lose for first time this season in the best game of the day. Much-needed non-conference win for the Atlantic 14.
8) Notre Dame 83, Florida State 63-- Seminoles lost leading scorer Thomas (grades) for the season, looked lost Saturday without him.
7) Greg Chalmers beat Adam Scott on the 7th playoff hole to win the Australian PGA very late Saturday night. Chalmers shot a 64 to get into the playoff.
6) Gonzaga 87, UCLA 74-- Bulldogs lost in OT at Arizona last week, needed this win to establish themselves as second-best team on west coast.
5) Dave Winfield/Jimmy Connors were sitting next to each other in this game; Dick Vitale ran over to get his picture taken with them. Connors was tossed from a UCSB hoop game last year for being too boisterous with the refs. Hard to believe, huh?
4) Late in the game, Vitale said this: "Steve Alford hates to lose." Is there a coach out there who doesn't hate to lose?
3) Meanwhile former UCLA coach Ben Howland has surfaced as a studio analyst on FOX Sports1; hard to believe he's not coaching somewhere, but he priced himself out of the Oregon State job last spring. Someone will hire him this offseason.
2) I'm in my mid-50's and still can't convert yards to meters; I didn't forget how, I just never learned. Nitwit. I know 100 meters is longer than 100 yards, just don't know how much longer. Realized this watching the golf tournament from Australia, when the caddy was discussing chip shot distances in meters.
1) If the guy in the Dos Equus commercials is the Most Interesting Man in the World, then NY Post columist Phil Mushnick is the Most Miserable Man in the World. If you're not from New York or have never read the Post, I highly recommend reading his work-- he rarely has a good word for anything, criticizing everyone from talk show hosts to show-off athletes with a very biting style. Makes me laugh every day.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) 2015 NFL salary cap is expected to be around $140M; the Saints already have $160M in salary commitments for next year, so their chances of improving on this year’s dismal season aren’t great- they’re going to have to purge players, not the best way to improve.
12) Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze jumped into the top 10 of highest-paid college football coaches for next year, at around $4.3M a year. His nine assistants make a total of $2.6M a year. Side note: Chris Kiffin (brother of Lane, son of Monty) is an assistant coach for the Rebels.
11) Miami Marlins are assembling a pretty good pitching rotation: Fernandez-Latos-Cosart-Haren-Alvarez, with Tom Koehler sixth starter. Pretty solid with some depth. Curious to see if they bat Yelich or Gordon leadoff.
10) Wisconsin’s AD (former football coach) Barry Alvarez is coaching in his second bowl game in three years; you see two head coaches bolt Madison in three years with Alvarez taking over after each left and you can’t help but wonder if he ever totally yields control of the program to his head coach.
9) Baylor OC Philip Montgomery is the new football coach at Tulsa; he has the Baylor offense on his resume, but can he recruit enough Baylor-type players to win in the AAC?
8) 900 media credentials were issued for baseball’s winter meetings this year; I’m wondering if this website couldn’t get a credential for next year’s meetings—might be a fun event to go to.
7) When Paul Chryst leaves Pitt for Wisconsin as expected (he can’t get hired until Wednesday because of some hiring law), Pitt will be the sixth bowl team (of 76) to go bowling without its head coach. Curious to see how high that number is going to get.
6) In case you care about such things; before Thursday night, last NFL game without a touchdown was 12/16/12—Raiders 15, Chiefs 0.
5) You read about the dysfunction within the Redskins/Bears and by comparison, the Jets seem like just an ordinary terrible team with no issues other than performance. Chicago’s OC threw QB Cutler under the bus then it came out that it was him who told the writer about “buyer’s remorse” and he has to apologize to the team. Could be new coaches in the Windy City next year.
4) Top three picks in Chad Ford’s mock NBA Draft on ESPN.com:
1) Jahlil Okafor, Duke
2) Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
3) Emmanuel Mudiay, playing pro ball in China.
3) College of Incarnate Word is in San Antonio; they’re a new D-I basketball team that is making no secret of their intention to use D-I hoops as a way to market the school better. CIW won at Nebraska this week, but isn’t eligible for the NCAAs until 2018; looks like they’ll be making some noise in the Southland Conference as they bide their time waiting for 2018.
2) An attempt to steal 7,500 pair of Lebron James sneakers was foiled this week; real cost of the sneakers is apparently $83.10 a pair, so that’s $623,250, but they sell for $200 each, so that’s a total of $1.5M the shoe buyers would’ve been out if thieves had successfully stolen the sneakers.
1) Sunday’s Bengal-Brown game is being broadcast into 43% of American homes Sunday, primarily because of Johnny Manziel making his first NFL start.
Before it was announced he was starting, very few people outside of Ohio were going to see the game, which is an important game with playoff implications. Manziel is marketing gold; Jerry Jones will probably be sick if he turns out to be a star, since he wanted the Cowboys to draft the former Texas Aggie star.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here.......
13) Dodgers made lot of moves in last 36 hours, acquiring Rollins/Kendrick as a new double play combination, adding Brandon McCarthy as a #4 starter, dealing Drew Butera to Anaheim; addition of Chris Heisey signals that Matt Kemp is probably on his way out (San Diego??) too.
12) Cubs are now only 12-1 to win the World Series after adding Lester/Hammel and catcher Montero, who is an upgrade behind the plate; could use an OF with some pop, but have to give the owner credit. He’s trying hard to put a winner on the field.
11) Irony Dept: Miami Beach Bowl is being played in a domed stadium (Marlins Park). Hope they at least open the roof for the game. Marlins very seldom open the roof for their games.
10) Texas Rangers added Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson to their 40-man roster so he wouldn’t be eligible to be nabbed in the Rule 5 Draft; why? He hit .220-ish as a minor league 2B in his days as a Colorado farmhand. He’s about to cash in bigtime with the Seahawks; not sure what this baseball stuff is all about.
9) Big night for hoops in South Dakota Tuesday; South Dakota State won at Saint Louis, South Dakota lost in double OT at Creighton. Summit League has some pretty good basketball. Coyotes have UNLV coming to town Saturday, in one of the weirder road trips you’ll see—are there non-stops between Vegas and Vermillion, SD?
8) Michigan lost consecutive games to NJIT and Eastern Michigan, now they visit Arizona next. Oy.
7) Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty got a 6th year of eligibility from the NCAA, great news for the Hilltoppers next season; Doughty has been a highly productive passer for WKU’s prolific offense.
6) Apparently Jeff Fisher is good friends with former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, which may explain why Fisher trolled Washington by sending his six RGIII-related draft picks out for the coin toss Sunday. Things did not end well between Shanahan and the Redskins and they’re not going too well for Washington this year, either.
5) Red Sox started patching up their depleted pitching rotation by adding Wade Miley from Arizona Wednesday night, then added Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson to it Thursday. Detroit gets Yoenis Cespedes as he enters the walk year of his contract- Tigers' lineup is going to be very strong this season.
4) Guy on ESPNews was interviewing Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio Tuesday, only he introduces him as “Mike Dantonio”. First thing that goes thru my head is: “Does Dantonio correct him or not?”
Before I can think too much, Dantonio interjects “Its Mark” with a slight smile. Guy who works for ESPN should not be making that mistake.
3) In the NBA, Western Conference teams are 77-31 against the east, 64-44 vs spread, 25-14 when an underdog.
2) Wisconsin lost football coach Bret Bielema to Arkansas couple years ago, because Badgers wouldn’t pay his assistants enough; now Gary Andersen leaves Madison for Oregon State after two solid (19-7) years in Madison.
Is one thing to lose a coach to the SEC; its quite another for a guy to bolt a top-level Big 14 program for Oregon State. These assistant coaches in college football make a lot of cash and lot of them lead a nomadic existence. Andersen apparently didn’t feel he could keep his staff together in Madison, so he bolted.
1) Cardinals 12, Rams 6-- Les Snead is GM of the St Louis Rams; between now and next summer, he has one job and only one job. Find a bleeping quarterback.
Thursday's List of 13: Our top 8, bottom 5 in NFL.......
32) Redskins—A complete train wreck. Sonny Jurgensen could come out of the radio booth and play and they’d be better off; except he’s 80. They paid a king’s ransom to draft RGIII, but the kid doesn’t do classwork necessary to excel on the field. Whoops. They’ll have a very interesting offseason.
31) Titans—Trailed at halftime the last two weeks, 23-0/24-0; have feeling they’re trying not to win, since the coach is secure and they’d be better off with #1 pick, either to trade or draft a cornerstone player. Not trying is bad.
30) Jets— Losing every week when you ARE trying might be worse; Rex Ryan is auditioning for his next job, Geno Smith is terrible and Michael Vick is just trying to replenish his bank account. They just need to start over, much like an expansion team; it would be an easier fix that way.
29) Raiders—Will be part of Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes; they’ve lived thru salary cap hell, should be able to improve their roster in the offseason. Tough division, but at least they think they’ve found their franchise QB.
28) Jaguars—If Giants can Tom Coughlin and I had a bad NFL team, I’d be tempted to bring Coughlin in to run my program, not as a coach but as the President, establish an infrastructure on what a team should be like, from top to bottom. This would work.
8) Cowboys—Needed 10-day break, especially the defense, Romo’s back; rematch in Philly Sunday night is a big game.
7) Chargers—You wonder how things would’ve been different in the ’04 draft had Eli Manning agreed to play for San Diego, the Steelers took Philip Rivers and the Giants Big Ben. I firmly believe Rivers is as good as Manning and both are a cut below Roethlisberger, but Rivers is the one without a Super Bowl ring. I mean, Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl and Dan Marino didn’t; life is weird sometimes.
6) Colts— Indy’s receivers had trouble getting open on a grass field in December in Cleveland Sunday, something to think about when the playoffs roll around; Reggie Wayne is playing hurt and it shows. Indy-Dallas game next week is in a dome, should be entertaining.
5) Seahawks—Have feeling this week’s game with 49ers will be a fierce struggle, the Niners’ last stand in the Harbaugh era. Teams looking for a new head coach have to stop just looking at Seattle defensive gurus; maybe the head coach is the reason that defense is so good.
4) Broncos—Its hard to watch Denver play the last three weeks and not wonder if Peyton Manning is hurt or has a sore arm; they’re just so much different now. He threw only 20 passes against the Bills; that’s usually below his halftime numbers. Maybe its just me being a conspiracy theorist, but its hard to envision them winning the AFC this year.
3) Cardinals—Probably too high at #3; hopefully they’ll lose in St Louis tonight and I can drop them next week. Love the aggressive nature Arians coaches with, but he has to temper with no viable backup now behind Stanton.
2) Patriots—If not for Robert Kraft buying this team 20+ years ago, the Patriots would’ve moved to St Louis and the Rams would be playing in Hartford. That’s a better what-if game than the Rivers-Eli-Big Ben thing.
1) Packers—Everyone who thinks these teams on TV know it all, here are two things:
a) Aaron Rodgers didn’t get a college scholarship out of high school
b) As many people thought the Colts should’ve drafted Ryan Leaf out of college as Peyton Manning. Manning is still an All-Star; Leaf just got released from prison.
Sometimes, you just never know.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) I’m guessing Tuesday was a good day to be a White Sox season ticket salesman, with team adding Samardzija/Robertson. Pale Hose are making a run at the playoffs this coming season.
12) Guy in Las Vegas hit a $15 12-team parlay this week that paid him just under $45,000; his last game was Atlanta +12.5. Imagine sitting there with him when the Falcons were down 31-7 at the half?
Had to be kind of exciting in those last few minutes. Would’ve sucked to go 11 for 12 and wind up with bupkus. (Hope he hedged the bet, at least)
11) Cam Newton was in a car accident Tuesday afternoon near Panthers’ stadium; he has a couple breaks in his lower back, is in the hospital and not expected to play Sunday against Tampa Bay. Derek Anderson is the Panthers' backup QB.
10) Not only was it a dismal December day Tuesday, with freezing rain/sleet/icy roads, but I looked at mlbdepthcharts.com and saw they had Ike Davis batting 5th in the A’s prospective lineup for next season. Bleeping fifth. Oy.
9) One of unspoken benefits of the college football playoff: no one talks about the Heisman Trophy anymore; thank the Lord. Before this year, they’d start talking about it in September. Team stuff is always more interesting than individual stuff.
8) There is an NBA ref named Ben Taylor who is only 29 years old; he worked the intense Phoenix-Clipper game Monday night. 29 seems young to be an NBA ref.
7) I don’t give a rat’s ass about the royal family; they could be very nice people for all I know, but what have they done? What do they do? They’re rich/famous for no reason, like reality TV stars. Please go away.
6) UNLV hired a high school coach as its new football coach; Tony Sanchez from Bishop Gorman in Vegas. Keep in mind that Art Briles, Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze were all high school coaches at one time, and they’re doing pretty well now. Sanchez needs to recruit some of his Gorman players to make UNLV relevant on the gridiron, one of whom is Cordell Broadus, Snoop Dawg’s son.
5) Tennessee replaced UAB with Bowling Green on next year’s football schedule; UAB dropped football, rifle and bowling last week, for $$$ reasons.
4) Which begs the question, how much does it cost to fund a freakin’ bowling team? Does the bowling coach fly to the northeast to recruit a kid out of a duckpin league in Boston? Does he take a private jet to fly cross country to Vegas to find a kid in Rock ‘n Bowl at Red Rock Casino? Seriously, dropping bowling just seems un-American.
3) NFL record for most receiving yards in a game is Flipper Anderson’s 336, set on a Sunday night in 1989 against the Saints; was looking at some highlights from that season and it turns out when Anderson caught the winning TD in overtime in a playoff game against the Giants later in that ’89 season, the ref was Bob McElwee, who ten years later was also the ref when the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV, the greatest sporting event ever played.
Good man, Bob McElwee.
2) Green Bay Packers are 9-0 on grass, 1-3 on artificial turf, the one win by a FG in Minnesota. Packers play on a short week in Buffalo this week. On turf. Hmmmm
1) RIP actor Ken Weatherwax, 59, who as a child played Puggsley Addams on the Addams Family, one of my favorite shows as a kid. 59 is too young to die, for sure. He’s probably in heaven today blowing up toy trains with Uncle Fester. RIP, sir.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Either Baylor/TCU got hosed out of going to the 4-team playoff because the Big X doesn’t have a championship game, which they can’t because it’s a 10-team league (have to have 12 for a title game). Does this mean they add Cincinnati/UConn and go to 12 teams? It’s a question they have to consider, or this could happen every year. Downside to that is they’d have to split their $$$ 12 ways instead of 10. Interesting decision they have.
12) Looked it up this weekend: Pete Rose got on base 5,929 times in his career, most of anyone in baseball. He never cheated; how does he not get in the Hall of Fame? He wasn’t perfect, he broke rules and paid a very public price for it. Time to move on and give him the plaque he has more than earned.
11) Jeff Fisher sent out six captains Sunday for Rams’ game in Washington: the six guys the Rams have as a result of the RGIII trade with the Redskins. Wow, talk about thumbing your nose at someone; then he faked a PAT in the third quarter, when the Rams led 15-0 and that worked. Daniel Snyder must’ve had a fairly lousy Sunday.
10) 49ers are 43-17-1 under Jim Harbaugh, but everyone expects him to leave after this season; keep in mind they were 46-82 in the eight years before he got there. I would be very, very slow to let him walk, but its not my decision.
9) Big 14, a Midwestern college sports league that also has Rutgers (New Jersey), Maryland and Penn State, announced their 2018 basketball tournament will be in Madison Square Garden, the week before its traditional date. So Michigan-Indiana-Ohio State-Wisconsin et all will be trudging off to the Big Apple for five days of fun? How does this make sense? Will they schedule non-league games for the next week, when all the other big conferences are having their tournaments?
8) ACC won the first ten ACC-Big 10 basketball challenges, but since the conferences scrambled to accommodate football, the Big 14 is 4-0-2 in the last six. ACC really weakened itself in basketball when it added Virginia Tech, Boston College and to a lesser extent, Miami and Florida State (though Miami is very good this year). Football money seems to speak loudest of all in college sports.
7) Carolina Panthers are 4-8-1 and a half-game out of first place in the NFC South; that’s how weird this season has been.
6) In his last five games, Carolina rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin has been targeted 47 times but caught only 21 balls, which helps explain why the Panthers had been struggling to win games; Cam Newton needs him to keep up his high level of play, since he is by far their best option at WR.
5) Nick Markakis got $44M for four years from Atlanta, which seemed (relatively) kind of low but then we find out he may need neck surgery this winter, which explains a lot. He’s a good player, a dependable player and will help the Braves.
4) Former NY Knick/US Senator Bill Bradley called Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to tell him that watching the Spurs play rekindled his enthusiasm for NBA basketball. What a compliment!!! Bradley is a brilliant guy who thrived as a shooter for the Knicks team that was two titles in the early 70’s; he’s written several books and if politics wasn’t so TV-centric, could’ve been elected President. He’s not a glad hander or a BS artist, so he never made it as far as he should have.
3) Houston Cougars fired football coach Tony Levine, so four of 76 bowl coaches won’t be coaching that team in their bowl game this season. Curious to see how high this numbers gets; every high major coach that gets fired sets off a domino effect.
2) A’s traded Brandon Moss to Cleveland for a AA infielder Monday, 3rd of their seven All-Stars from LY to already be off the team, then sent Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox- they might as well trade Sean Doolittle; who needs a closer when you’re never going to be ahead in the ninth inning? Not going to recognize the 2015 A’s, at least not in spring training or in April. Awesome.
1) Packers 43, Falcons 37-- In their last six home games, Green Bay outscored its opponents 184-30 in the first half, an average of 31-5.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday.......
Ravens 28, Dolphins 13-- Miami led 10-0, wound up getting outgained 447-249, as we wonder if losing to one Harbaugh brother increased their chances of being coached by the other Harbaugh brother next year. Fish are 2-3 in last five games after laying an egg in last two games LY when they were 8-6. Miami owner Ross is a Michigan alum.
Steelers 42, Bengals 21-- Cincy led 21-17 after third quarter; Pitt gained 229 yards on 20 plays in fourth quarter, scoring 25 points to pull away for the win. Last week Bengals were only team in division to win; this week, they were only one to lose. Pitt had five plays of 20+ yards, all on first down-- they were more aggressive today.
Giants 36, Titans 7-- How does Jameis Winston look in powder blue? Tennessee lost its last seven games, covering one of last six; they allowed 41.3 ppg in last three games. Giants snapped 7-game losing streak. Giants had a 14-yard edge in field position; this week, teams with a 10+-yard edge in field position were 6-0 (70-3 for season).
Vikings 30, Jets 24 OT-- Minnesota scored on 87-yard pass in OT, so if you had the Jets +4.5, this was a tough one. Jets had ball in red zone five times, kicked four FGs and lost a fumble, which is really where they lost this game. Vikings won four of last six games, covered six of last seven.
Colts 25, Browns 24-- Indy turned ball over four times (-2) with two run back for Cleveland TDs; Colts were 0-2 on 2-point conversions, but they scored a TD when they had to, getting winning score with 0:32 left. You lose at home when you score two defensive TDs, it might be time to change QBs, I'm just sayin'......
Texans 27, Jaguars 13-- Jags and Oakland won't be drafting QBs, so if Tennessee takes Winston, who takes Mariota? (or other way around) Will a mediocre team like Houston trade up to grab someone they think is The Answer? Texans scored three TDs in this game. on drives of 52-84-26 yards. Jags led 13-10 at the half.
Panthers 41, Saints 10-- Home side won Saints' first seven games, lost their last six, with New Orleans losing its last four home games; they've allowed 27+ points in their last five games, giving up 271 rushing yards to a Carolina team that was 1-8-1 in its last ten games coming in. Who replaces Rob Ryan as Saints' DC next year?
Lions 34, Buccaneers 17-- Tampa Bay lost eight of last nine games, with one win by three TDs over Washington; how awful are the Redskins? Stafford was 8-for-9 for 158 yards and a TD targeting Calvin Johnson. Bucs ran ball 14 times for 26 yards in whole game; they might be a team interested in Mariota in April's draft.
Rams 24, Redskins 0-- St Louis scored 83 points since last time they allowed one; you say they played Raiders/Redskins, I say Oakland beat Chiefs/49ers in last three weeks. Kicker Zuerlein kept Washington in game in first half by kicking like Charlie Brown, missing a PAT and 28/38-yard FGs. Jay Gruden must really dislike RGIII.
Broncos 24, Bills 17--- Was theory on Twitter late Sunday that Peyton Manning is hurt, since Denver is playing timidly on offense since loss in St Louis. Broncos had a 23-yard edge in field position but didn't cover, with Bills scoring twice in last 11:00. Buffalo had 77-49 edge in plays run, both teams turned it over three times. Broncos ran ball 29 times, threw it 20-- what does that say?
Cardinals 17, Chiefs 14-- Arizona was beneficiary of terrible replay reversal with 5:23 left; they ruled Chiefs' TE Kelce fumbled on Arizona 16, when it was fairly clear he did not. KC didn't score in second half, lost third game in row. Cardinals stay two games ahead in NFC West with three to play. I can't stand watching Alex Smith play; reminds me of the 70's Rams with Pat Haden. Take some chances, man!!!!
Raiders 24, 49ers 13-- Oakland won two of last three games, lost 52-0 in between the wins; seems apparent that Jim Harbaugh won't be with the 49ers next year, so where does he go and who replaces him? Next coaching staff better have a QB guru, someone who can make Kaepernick a more accurate passer.
Seahawks 24, Eagles 14-- Total yardage: 440-139. Philly misses DeSean Jackson; their WRs are lot less explosive than last year. Last time Eagles played game decided by less than 10 points was October 26. Cowboys-Eagles is big game next week. Who thought Mark Sanchez would be in the middle of a pennant race?
Patriots 23, Chargers 14-- NFL has to make hits by DBs reviewable, as far as hits to the head go. Patriot DB had a great hit on Green last night, causing an INT; there was no head-to-head contact, it was shoulder-to-shoulder but it was violent so they threw a flag. Nowadays you get penalized for doing your job too well.
Sunday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Top six teams in the college football rankings all won; how does the committee not take the same four teams that were #1-4 last week?
12) Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0-- Epic tank job by the 10-3 Badgers, whose AD is on the selection committee; ESPN's Dan Dakich threw in that he was Urban Meyer's next-door neighbor when both were head coaches at Bowling Green. If I'm affiliated with TCU this morning, I'm really, really nervous that we're going to get screwed.
11) Florida State 37, Georgia Tech 35-- Seminoles are 13-0, 3-10 vs spread; Jameis Winston is 27-0 as a college quarterback. Jimbo Fisher didn't sleep well last night, in spite of not having lost a game in two years.
10) Oklahoma State 38, Oklahoma 35 OT-- Bad game management cost Sooners this game; up 7 with 1:00 to go, Oklahoma punted and Cowboys fair-caught ball on their own 10, something like that, but State ran into the punter, so for some reason, Oklahoma decides to punt again and the kidr runs it back 92 yards for the tying TD, then wins the game in OT. Just a bad mistake.
9) St John's 69, Syracuse 57-- Would love to hear what Coach Boeheim says about joining the ACC, off camera and behind closed doors. This is not a real good Syracuse team, hard to envision them in the NCAAs this season.
8) Arizona 66, Gonzaga 63 OT-- Good game, but Bulldogs were fouled shooting a 3 with 0:03.3 left in OT and missed all three foul shots, giving Arizona a comeback win on its home floor. You could see these teams meeting again in March.
7) NJIT 72, Michigan 70-- Highlanders lost by 17 at Albany, lost to UMass-Lowell twice; thats not the Minutemen, thats UMass-freakin'-LOWELL. NJIT trailed 8-0 at the start, then made 11-17 from arc as they jumped from #293 to #261. Oy.
6) North Florida 73, Purdue 70-- Ospreys is a cool nickname; North Florida has a coach named Matt Driscoll (not the Syracuse mayor), who 20 years ago was the head coach at Laroche College; his mentors are Larry Shyatt and Scott Drew, interesting contrast in styles. Purdue was off to a 6-1 start before this happened.
5) Green Bay 68, Miami 55-- This score just makes no sense, though Green Bay does have a very good PG in Kiefer Sykes.
4) Towson State plays Georgetown today; Tigers probably won't win, but they're 50-25 over the past 2.5 seasons, after being 1-31 three years ago. Some bigger school is going to give Pat Skerry a chance to run its program this spring.
3) Golden State 112, Chicago 102-- Warriors have now won 12 in a row, but their owner took an unnecessary shot at former coach Mark Jackson, bragging how the team is better with him gone now. 19 games into an 82-game season is a bit early for that.
2) When you look at NFL teams nad how they do on drives that start 80+ yards from goal line, these teams do the best:
Patriots 2.66 points/drive, Packers 2.47, Saints 2.33, Ravens 2.21, Colts 2.14
1) Teams that do the worst driving ball from own 20 or worse field position:
Vikings 0.63, Jaguars 0.74, Raiders 0.78, Bucs 0.97, Jets 1.07, Titans 1.16.
Saturday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend......
13) Colts @ Browns—How long is Brian Hoyer’s leash here? If he struggles early, do we see Johnny Manziel again? Browns are still in playoff race, but Hoyer has thrown six picks in last three games.
12) Florida State better come to play against run-happy Georgia Tech, which will run the option over and over until you stop it. Would advise the Seminoles not to fall behind 23-7 here, the way they did at Miami.
11) Buffalo (and former Denver) QB Kyle Orton returns to Mile High City with a 7-5 Buffalo team that has a shot to make playoffs first time since 1999. Curious to see if Broncos stay as run happy as they were the last couple weeks.
10) Now that the 76ers won, when will they get win #2? If they started winning a lot of games, would they fire the coach for screwing up their tanking blueprint? When do they decide their roster is good enough to actually start trying to win?
9) Miami should run ball more now that NT Haloti Ngata is suspended for the Ravens; he is the anchor of Baltimore's defensive line and will be missed in a big way.
8) Gonzaga visits Arizona Saturday afternoon, in a battle of west coast titans; it’s a game where the result could effect seeding on Selection Sunday in March.
7) Saints lost their last three home games, are still tied for first in NFC South. Carolina is 1-8-1 since a 2-0 start; they were 12-4 last year, that’s how fine a line there is between winning and losing in the NFL. Atlanta is a double digit dog Monday night, so Saints can grab first place with a win here.
6) Steelers-Bengals play twice in last four weeks of regular season; with Cincy having a 1.5-game lead in division, Pitt might need a sweep to win the division. Steelers ave up 35 points to Saints last week and NO didn’t target Jimmy Graham once the whole game. Go figure.
5) Chiefs visit Arizona in a game between teams who really need a win. Cardinals’ lead in NFC West is slipping away; Chiefs are in a huge logjam at 7-5 for the AFC Wild Card.
4) Ohio State is down to its #3 QB when they play Wisconsin for the Big 14 title. This is why some QBs struggle in the pros; in college, a kid from Ohio State or Florida State is surrounded by superior talent. In the NFL, talent level is lot more even, and QBs need to make plays and be difference makers.
3) Patriots hunkered down in San Diego all week, practicing in nice weather as opposed to freezing their butts off all week in New England. NE won four of last five games with Chargers, winning two of last three visits here. Good Sunday night game.
2) If Missouri beats Alabama in the SEC title game, the conference won’t be represented in the first college football playoff. Think the game officials will be aware of that? Mizzou is in this game for the second year in a row, so they shouldn’t be awed by the surroundings. Has to be tough for Alabama to get up for a game after the intensity of the Iron Bowl last week.
1) Seahawks-Eagles could be preview of NFC title game; Pete Carroll coached Mark Sanchez in college, will be interesting to see how he does coaching against him. Seattle needs win to keep heat on Arizona in NFC West. Dallas’ win Thursday makes this an urgent game for the Iggles.
Friday's List of 13: A totally non-sports List of 13.............
Was talking to someone the other day who I’ve known for a long time; we were talking about visiting San Antonio and the person finally said “Are you just saying you like it because they have a good basketball team?” like I was incapable of having non-sports thoughts. So with that in mind, we have a non-sports List of 13 today.
I wrote all of this, really………
13) An afternoon in a veterans’ hospital is a sobering experience, so many people who have fought for our country, now hanging on to their lives, some of whom seemingly have no one to hang out with. They make the military look glamorous on recruiting commercials, but at the end of the day, people give their lives to protect us and I’m not sure we are appreciative enough of that.
12) I’m pretty sure nurses are underpaid; watching the care my father gets at this hospital, they are terrific, polite people who are nice to an 88-year old guy who is fighting for his life. Nurses have lot of responsibility, they do all the real care, but they don’t make so much money. Thanks to all of you from me.
11) There are 121 different items on the McDonald’s menu; not sure why, but thought you’d like to know.
10) Why do people smoke? Worse yet, why do they go outside on frigid days to smoke? Cigarettes cause cancer; standing outside in freezing weather causes pneumonia; why is any of this good?
9) Unsolicited endorsement: if you’re looking for a financial person to help you with investments, I highly endorse the Fagan brothers in Troy.
Have known both of them for years; smart, hard-working guys who are very sharp but are regular people, too. You’d like them if you knew them, and they’re smart when it comes to investments.
8) Why don’t all birds fly south in the winter? Are there birds who like cold weather? Are some birds just stupid? Lazy? Can’t fly that far? The birds who stay behind for the winter seem bigger than most birds, if that means anything.
7) I don’t trust people who use shredders at work; maybe its growing up during the Nixon years, but if I hear you using a shredder, I assume you have something to hide. Shredding at home is good for identity protection, but at work, come on now. Maybe its just me, but I don’t trust those people.
6) I highly recommend flying on Southwest Airlines, especially if you’re headed to Las Vegas. Friendly workers, they don’t charge for the first two bags and they fly non-stop to/from Albany once a day each way. Good company and the $12.50 early boarding fee is well worth it, to avoid those dreaded middle seats on a long flight.
5) City of Albany is installing 20 cameras by traffic lights to catch people who run red lights; not sure how it all works or how they decide where to put the cameras, but the mayor says it’ll add $2M in revenue to the city. Just as long as none of that money is mine.
4) Speaking of Albany, looks like they’re going to put a casino over the river in Rensselaer County, about 10 miles from Armadillo World HQ. Outstanding. Pretty soon we’ll be able to hop in the car and play blackjack; is this a great country or what?
3) I don’t care who the next President is, as long as it isn’t someone named Bush or Clinton. Enough with those people; give someone else a chance. There have to be some smart people who don’t have a huge amount of money but would do a good job; can we find a couple of those, please?
2) We need to remember that freedom of speech is important; we need to be tolerant of everyone’s opinions, especially those that are different than our own. If freedom of speech goes away, then what do we have left?
1) RIP Bryan Burwell, who passed away too early at age 59. As a Ram fan, spend lot of time reading the St Louis paper online. Burwell and Bernie Miklasz were the two voices of reason when it came to the Rams, who haven’t had a winning season since 2003. I respected his opinion and enjoyed his articles; he will be missed. RIP, sir.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.........
13) UAB shut down its football program for financial reasons, the first I-A team to do that since Pacific in 1995. Blazers are 6-6 this year, could still go to a bowl game, but after that the players are free to transfer ansd be elighible to play next year.
12) Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze leveraged the Florida opening into a pay raise from the Rebels. Would've been a huge slap in the face had Freeze gone to another school in the SEC. He's making over $4M a year now-- wow.
11) Remember this when interleague play is discussed in April: nine of the first ten baseball free agents to sign went with AL teams, as if the AL wasn't already much stronger than the Senior Circuit. The big-name pitchers haven't signed on yet, which obviously will also influence the balance of power.
10) Buffalo Bills won't be playing any more "home" games in Toronto; they had been playing one game a year there, but under new ownership, they'll be playing eight home games a year in Buffalo, a good thing for fans in western New York.
9) Brady Hoke got $4.95M to leave Michigan; I'm leaving my day job in two weeks; ain't no one giving me a check stuffed with zeros like that. Hope Coach Hoke uses bit of that cash to buy himself a winter jacket; I got the chills watching him stand outside on cold November days with no coat on.
8) You don't think college sports is big business? Crowd for Michigan-Ohio State game was 108,610, winning creates huge money. Losing makes lot of that money go away and also makes coaches go away.
7) Arkansas coach Bret Bielema lost his last 12 games that were decided by 7 or less points; his last close win was two years ago for Wisconsin, against a Utah State squad coached by Gary Andersen, who wound up taking his place with the Badgers.
6) If you're the Cleveland Browns and you plan on switching to Johnny Manziel as your QB, you make the switch when you're about to play a bad defensive team, a defense he can have success against. Indianapolis is not that team, and thats who the Browns are playing this week.
5) Serious question: If you were an NFL owner, would you hire Rex Ryan as your head coach? I don't think he cares enough about offense to be a good head coach, but he will almost certainly get another chance at some point.
4) Would college football be better off moving its Rivalry Saturday to September and leaving the end of the season to conference games with implications towards the national championship playoff? I mean, USC could play Notre Dame, UCLA and then the Pac-12 title game on three consecutive Saturdays; why is that good?
3) Congrats to the 76ers, who won 85-77 in Minnesota, avoiding an infamous 0-18 start that would've tied an NBA record. There are some teams we'd enjoy seeing lose 18 games in a row, but the 76ers aren't one of them.
2) Highlight of the NFL Draft this spring will be where Jameis Winston winds up, much like Johnny Manziel was a big part of LY's draft. What if Florida State runs the table and Winston never loses a college football game?
Tremendous reality TV would be NFL Network airing his interviews with NFL teams at the combine. Now that would be fun to watch to see how they questioned him.
1) My friend Scott knows more about football than anyone I know: he doesn't like Winston's release throwing the ball and compares him to former Oregon QB Akili Smith, who was an NFL flop in Cincinnati. Will be fascinating to follow.
Wednesday's List of 13: Looking at the AFC teams.......
Bills—Last made playoffs in ’99, have shot here. Jimbo Fisher told teams that EJ Manuel wasn’t an NFL starter; Bills took off as soon as they benched him for Orton. Kudos to the GM for giving Orton a two-year contract. New owner, chance for the playoffs; exciting year in western NY.
Dolphins—Not sold on Tannehill as the franchise QB, but they’re 7-5 and have shot at first playoffs since ’08. If they don’t make it, would owner Ross (unfairly) fire Joe Philbin and go after fellow Michigan alum Harbaugh as his next coach? Could happen.
Patriots— Belichick’s career record without Tom Brady: 51-64. Proper punishment for Spygate: make Belichick coach the Patriots for three years after Brady retires- their lack of talent at WR/RB is alarming. Brady just makes everything work. One of the all-time greats.
Jets—Fire every football-related person in the building; everyone. Start over like an expansion team; its an easier fix that way. Lot of empty seats in Swamp Stadium on Monday night, a stadium that didn’t need to be built.
Ravens—Allowed 8+ yards/pass attempt in four of last five games, a red flag. Only team in NFL to lose this season when they won field position by more than ten yards; teams that win field position by 10+ yards are 64-3 this season. Ravens lost to San Diego Sunday with a 15-yard edge.
Bengals—Marvin Lewis is 97-88-2 as Bengals’ coach, but has no playoff wins; they better not repeat the Bears’ mistake with Lovie Smith and fire Lewis if they don’t win one this year. Cincy just won three consecutive road games; that doesn’t happen much in the NFL. Lewis is a good coach.
Browns—Now the rookie coach has a QB controversy to deal with; star WR Gordon seems to have better chemistry with Manziel, for whatever reason. Hoyer threw six picks in his last six games, but if I’m Pettine, I’m looking to start Manziel for the first time against as weak an opponent as possible. Don’t think the Colts fit that bill.
Steelers—Five of last six Pitt games went over total; Big Ben threw for 435 yards in loss to Saints, mostly after game was already lost. Steelers allowed 11.0/8.9 ypa in last two games, have only one takeaway in last three games, very un-Steeler-like. Play Bengals twice in last four weeks; might need sweep to win division.
Texans—Fitzpatrick had six TD passes last week; where is Houston headed at QB after this year? No way Fitzpatrick is their long-term answer, but Mallett lasted two games before getting hurt, so he probably isn’t either. QB draft class ain’t much this year and there are few other teams (Jets, Rams) who would be looking to add QBs. Going to be an interesting spring, for sure.
Colts—Indy allowed 30+ points in all four losses; they’re 8-2 in last ten games, after opening season with losses to Broncos/Eagles. Colts are 7-2-1 as road favorites under Pagano, very dependable when playing an inferior team.
Jaguars—They play hard, have nice uniforms, a cabana with a pool in the end zone bleachers but only have two wins. In last two games, Jags have nine sacks and eight caused fumbles; they need a more productive offense, just like half the league does. At least they compete hard every week; good things usually follow that.
Titans—Horrible season with an injury-decimated offensive line that is getting the QBs killed. Upset the Chiefs in Arrowhead Opening Day, are 1-10 since and that was a 16-14 home win over the 2-10 Jaguars. Another team with a QB dilemma, but chances are they’ll stay in-house with Mettenberger for next year. Whisenhunt is a good coach, but other than Kurt Warner in Arizona, all his guys get hurt.
Broncos-- Ran ball for 201/214 yards last two weeks, since 22-7 loss in St Louis; did they watch Patriot-Colt game and decide to go same way, to preserve their aging QB? Rushing yards in their three losses: 36-43-28. Trailed at half in three of last five games, converted 18-34 on 3rd down last two games.
Chiefs-- Were outrushed 393-137 in last two games, after 7-1 run which followed 0-2 start. Are 8-42 on third down last four games. Alex Smith doesn't win games, he just doesn't lose them, but if they can't run the ball, then what? Couple of stumbling teams meet in desert this week when Chiefs visit Arizona.
Raiders-- Had been competing well until they got smoked in St Louis Sunday. Don't have a takeaway in last three games, only two in last six; they're -14 in TOs in those six games. Last time they averaged more than six yards/pass attempt was Week 6. It is very doubtful they'll win another game this season.
Chargers-- Looked dead when they lost 37-0 at Miami in Week 9, but well-timed bye gave them time to regroup and they've won three close games since. San Diego is first west coast team to win a game in Ravens' Stadium (1-17). Last four games are a tough gauntlet, finishing with road games at 49ers, Chiefs.
Tuesday's List of 13: Looking at the NFC teams........
Cowboys—Defense looked tired on short week vs Eagles; they get needed 10-day break after another Thursday game this week in Chicago. Why don’t they ever draft a young QB? Not like Romo is Marino or Elway.
Eagles—Have it rolling right now, but will they go forward with Sanchez as their #1 QB? What happens if Foles gets healthy later this month? Kelly is changing the way coaches coach.
Giants—Lot of changes loom this winter; Manning is useless unless they shore up the offensive line. Coughlin is a Hall of Fame coach but will probably “retire” after this season. They should probably change GMs if they’re going to unload a Hall of Fame coach.
Redskins—Drafted two QBs two years ago, yet Colt McCoy is their starter. Oy. How do they recoup something (anything) by trading RGIII? Who is the real problem here? Lot of good coaches have been thru Redskins Park the last 15 years, with not much success.
Bears—Is Jay Cutler this generation’s Jeff George? Arm talent but not much charisma or leadership? Firing Lovie Smith to hire Marc Trestman was not an upgrade. As long as Aaron Rodgers is in Green Bay, going to be hard for Bears to win NFC North.
Lions—Team’s last playoff win in 1991 against Dallas. Favorites covered Detroit’s last six Thanksgiving Day games. 10-day break should help as they begin playoff drive.
Packers—Phil Simms had good nugget Sunday on how Aaron Rodgers prefers footballs be little overinflated so he can throw them better; most QBs prefer the opposite. Maybe that’s why the Packers play so much better at home; extra air in the footballs.
Vikings—Looks like they found a keeper at QB in rookie Bridgewater, who runs just enough to keep defenses honest and is getting better as passer (he’s lucky to have Norv Turner to tutor him). Still feel bad for Zimmer, who waited until age 58 to become a head coach then had his best player thrown off the team after one game.
Falcons—Steven Jackson’s career W-L record in the NFL: 53-118-2. Seems like a terrific guy, not the best receiver for a back, but runs hard and well. You’d wish he could get a taste of the playoffs before he’s done. 5-7 Falcons are tied for first, but Saints seem like stronger team now.
Panthers—This is how fine the line is between winning and losing in the NFL; last year, Carolina was 12-4 and Cam Newton was the next big thing; now they’re 1-8-1 since Week 3 and Newton is a suspect, which is bunk. Still wondering why they let John Fox walk, but Newton needs better receivers next year.
Saints—Home side won their first seven games, now lost last five; not sure how you score 35 points on road without targeting Jimmy Graham, but they did in Pittsburgh. Why did they let Sproles walk? Why did they hire Rob Ryan?
Buccaneers—Again with the fine line thing: when your new OC has a heart problem and has to quit in August, this isn’t good, unless the HC is an offensive guru, which Smith obviously is not. Bucs were put behind 8-ball and could make big leap next year with a new OC (or a healthy Jeff Tedford).
Cardinals—Field position is important: Arizona is 4-19 on third down the last two weeks, which created shorter fields for their opponents, who had 18/16-yard edges in field position for their opponents. So far this season, teams who win field position by 10+ yards are 64-3 and two of the three losses were this past Sunday.
Rams—5-7 is 5-7, but the Rams are getting closer; in past years, their losses would be one-sided debacles where I never watched the second half. This year, I’m annoyed they lost most of those games, since they led early or frittered away chances late to win on the road. Need that final piece, a glue-guy QB who can make plays at the end to pull games out. Not sure who he is, but they need to find him.
49ers—Seem to have tremendous dissension between coaches/front office, never a good thing. As a Ram fan, hope they fire/trade/release Jim Harbaugh; all the guy has done is win. Its easy to see why he chose Kaepernick over Alex Smith; good, decisive choice, but unless you win a Super Bowl, there will always be critics.
Seahawks—Last Super Bowl champ to win a playoff game next year? ’05 Patriots, that’s how long it has been. Seattle is within range of the Cardinals now, could still wind up with a home playoff game or two.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) Colts 49, Redskins 27-- Indy is first team since '66 Redskins to score six TDs of 30+ yards in same game. Bet Jay Gruden had more fun coaching the Orlando Predators in the Arena League than he is now. What a mess the Redskins are.
12) Texans 45, Titans 21-- Fitzpatrick threw six TDs in this mismatch; he is the 7th QB to throw 5+ TDs in a game this year and only one of the seven who hasn't won a Super Bowl. Tennessee's OL was missing three starters.
11) Bills 26, Browns 10-- Cleveland lost the game and ignited a QB controversy when they benched Hoyer (six INTs in last three games) for rookie Manziel, who led only Cleveland TD drive. Three of four AFC North teams lost today, making it a very big day for the Bengals, who won a close game in Tampa.
10) Chargers 34, Ravens 33-- Rivers drove San Diego 80 yards in eight plays to get the game-winning TD with 0:38 left. Ravens got into the red zone on seven of their eight drives, but managed only three TDs, four FGs and thats why they lost.
9) Jaguars 25, Giants 24-- New Jersey led 21-3 at the half, then had two of its three lost fumbles recovered for Jax TDs as Jaguars won for only second time this season. Seven losses in row probably means the end of the line for Tom Coughlin, who will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Jaguars have nine sacks, eight forced fumbles in their last two games.
8) Bengals 14, Buccaneers 13-- Cincy leads AFC North by 1.5 games with four to play. There were 23 penalties in this sloppy game that was not a good advertisement for professional football. Dalton threw three first half INTs, was supposedly playing with the flu. Tampa was only NFC South team to lose this week.
7) Rams 52, Raiders 0-- Good to see improving Rams put their foot on someone's neck and end things quickly. Tank job by Oakland, which seemed disinterested from the start. St Louis receivers are starting to make more plays. I'm being optimistic, but Rams could head to Seattle for season finale with an 8-7 record.
6) Saints 35, Steelers 32-- Road team won last five New Orleans games, after they lost first seven. Think NFL refs got a memo to keep calling defensive penalties; in the first 14 games this week, teams got 70 first downs via penalty, five per game. Those totals had been coming down recently, but not this week-- I'll repeat myself-- no one pays to watch officials throw flags.
5) Vikings 31, Panthers 13-- Minnesota blocked two punts for TDs in first 20:35 of the game; last time a team scored on two blocked punts in the same NFL game was on Sept. 30, 1990, when Kansas City did it against Cleveland. This was 7th-coldest home game in Viking history; Minnesota is playing outdoors for first time since 1981.
4) Falcons 29, Cardinals 18-- Atlanta won its first non-divisional game this year and is tied for first in NFC South with the Saints at 5-7. Arizona lost for second week in row, now faces the Chiefs and its three NFC West rivals to close the season.
3) Broncos 29, Chiefs 16-- Alex Smith is this generation's Pat Haden; smart guy, does not make lot of mistakes, can't throw long, won't win a Super Bowl. At least he isn't going to law school during his playing career, which Haden did.
2) Gilbert Gottfried, Johnny Damon, Terrell Owens and Lorenzo Lamas will all be on Celebrity Apprentice this winter; maybe it really does suck to be famous, you get addicted to the fame and you can't be a normal person.
NBC ran a great stat near the end of the Bronco-Charger game; teams that score 21+ points against a Peyton Manning team are 72-62; teams that score less than 21 points against Manning are 4-113.
1) If you're travelling anywhere in first half of 2015, today is the day to book your hotel; you can get lot of great hotel deals on Cyber Monday.
Sunday's List of 13; Wrapping up a sports Saturday......
13) Alabama 55, Auburn 44-- Weird game with 1,169 yards of offense; have to feel good for Crimson Tide QB Sims. TV announcers had him being yanked in third quarter when Auburn led 33-21, but then he led five consecutive TD drives in an awesome show of offensive force by the Crimson Tide.
12) Amazing intensity of the Iron Bowl game raises two questions:
a) How the hell can Alabama get up again for the SEC title game next week?
b) Would colleges be better served moving Rivalry Saturday to September?
11) Florida State 24, Florida 19-- Just win, baby. Seminoles would be Al Davis' favorite team, if Davis weren't currently deceased. Jack Nicklaus' grandson caught two TD passes and the Florida kicker missed two go-ahead FGs as FSU won another close game. 12-0 straight-up, 3-9 against the spread. Interesting team.
10) Ole Miss 31, Mississippi State 17-- Bulldogs have 63 kids from Mississippi, Rebels have only 44; thats counting walk-ons.
Why do Ole Miss and Arkansas play home games on artifical turf? Isn't the weather in Arizona and Mississippi pretty good?
9) Ole Miss 66, Cincinnati 54-- No one in Oxford probably noticed this score, but few years ago, Andy Kennedy was interim coach at Cincinnati after Bob Huggins was stupidly fired there; think he didn't like winning this game? Big win for the Rebels.
8) Louisville 44, Kentucky 40-- Very chippy game, issues after most every play and even before the game. Kentucky coach Stoops didn't look very happy with one of his defensive assistants during a Louisville TD drive, but Wildcat defense scored two TDs in this game. Losing makes a lot of us crazy.
7) Clemson 35, South Carolina 17-- First time in six years Clemson won this rivalry game. Spurrier had three troopers behind him during halftime interview; they looked VERY serious. In case you didn't think college football is very big business, turns out Clemson QB Watson is playing with a torn ACL.
6) Ohio State 42, Michigan 28-- Buckeyes won game but lost QB Barrett to broken ankle. Michigan won't go bowling for only third time in last 40 years. Hope Brady Hoke's next job is in a warm climate; tired of seeing him stand outside for four hours in cruddy weather with no coat on.
5) Serious question: Ohio State is now down to their #3 QB; does this hurt them in the polls? Do they get factored out of the playoff picture?
4) Colorado State 65, Cal-Santa Barbara 63-- Rams won Great Alaskan Shootout, an annual Thanksgiving weekend staple. Would've helped Big West's power rating to get a win over a Mountain West team.
3) Nevada 49, UNLV 27-- Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze were high school coaches, which apparently has inspired some wealthy UNLV backers to go after the Bishop Gorman coach to be the Rebels' new coach. Problem is, Gorman (a high school in Las Vegas) might have nicer football facilities than UNLV does.
2) Memphis 41, UConn 10-- Name you'll hear in coaching carousel: Justin Fuente of Memphis, whose Tigers are 9-3. He was a backup QB at Oklahoma much like Mark Richt was one at Miami. Rising star in the coaching business.
1) USC 49, Notre Dame 17-- Saturday was 40-year anniversary of the day Anthony Davis scored six TDs in a 55-24 thrashing of the Irish. This game was almost as much fun, but not quite. Lou Holtz probably still has Notre Dame in his top ten.
Saturday's List of 13: Wrapping up a very busy Friday.....
13) Ten years ago, I started a keeper fantasy baseball league because I was sick of rooting for an A's team that always lost its best players, either via free agency or a trade before free agency. The list of star players to bolt Oakland over the last 40 years is very long and now Josh Donaldson's name has been added. It sucks.
12) Its the financial reality of baseball and all that; I mean, 30 months ago, Donaldson was a former minor league catcher who was hitting .108 in the majors before getting sent back to AAA. Since then, he developed into an All-Star player who was also a fan favorite and a terrific clutch hitter (9th inning, Game 4, '12 playoffs vs Detroit).
At least no one gets dealt off my fantasy league team unless I do it, and yes, I'm sure Billy Beane has a few more moves this winter, before all this rebuilding is done.
11) One last note on this trade that worries me: Brett Lawrie is a Canadian; for the Blue Jays to trade a Canadian player means they think they got the best of this deal. Plus he gets hurt a lot, always a great thing to be known for.
10) Kansas 82, Tennessee 67-- Misleading final; this game was 62-all. Tennessee has a good team and will be an SEC contender in years to come.
9) Wisconsin 69, Oklahoma 56-- Frank Kaminsky got his lunch handed to him by Georgetown Thursday, but the media is in love with the guy; Badgers are good because they've got a lot of good shooters, and Ryan is a very good coach. Sooners also had a productive week in the Bahamas.
8) Western Kentucky 67, Marshall 66 OT-- This was a football game, the first one Marshall lost this season; hard to feel too bad for a team that was down 49-42, at the half, but what do you do with Marshall in their bowl game? They score a ton of points but history tells us that disappointed teams rarely fare well in bowls. .
7) Gonzaga 73, St John's 66-- Good road win for the Bulldogs; think they're going to the Final Four in April. As for St John's, Harrison looks like a tough guy to coach, kind of like a talented runaway train where you give him the ball and hold your breath. As a senior, you hope he has senior-level sense. You hope.....
6) Stanford 31, UCLA 10-- Bruins' dismal showing sends Arizona to the Pac-12 title game against Oregon. Wildcats beat Arizona State; if they beat the Ducks, Arizona could get to the Rose Bowl game for the first time. Big year for RichRod.
5) UTEP 77, Xavier 73-- Games like this are why I'm watching games in November before I jump into the handicapping pool; this result makes no sense, much like a lot of what we see in November makes no sense. The games count, but coaches experiment and learn much like we're learning. Good win for Tim Floyd, though.
4) Ole Miss 75, Creighton 68-- Bluejays' win over Oklahoma (they were down 18 in second half) was a fluke. This is a good win for the SEC and Andy Kennedy.
3) Missouri 21, Arkansas 14-- Mizzou's Gary Pinkel might be the most underrated college football coach; all the guy does is win.
2) Air Force 27, Colorado State 24-- Rams drop to 10-2; this was really good game, fun to watch. Wonder if Colorado State can keep McIlwain in Fort Collins.
1) Cal-Santa Barbara 65, Mercer 60 OT-- Very late at night in Alaska, Gauchos hit a 3 at the buzzer to force OT, then won and will face Colorado State very late tonight in the Alaskan Shootout final. Should be a pretty good game. Hopefully the A's won't have traded Samardzija or Kazmir by then.
Friday's List of 13: Happy Black Friday, everyone........
13) This is probably the busiest sports weekend of the year; definitely is for this website. Lots of stuff going on, from college football to the Alaskan Shootout, which is being played in a new gym this year. Alaska-Anchroage built a spiffy new gym with good lighting; the old arena looked like the ice rink in Slap Shot. .
12) Colorado State is the fourth different school coach Larry Eustachy has taken up to Alaska to play: Rams have an experienced team this year, are a threat to win in the Mountain West Conference.
11) Invention of rubber-based Field Turf has helped punters deaden the ball near the goal line. The old Astroturf, the ball would bounce like it was a Superball into the end zone. Now guys often don't even have to down the ball, it just dies not too far from where it landed.
10) Good idea by the NFL, having next Thursday night's Dallas-Chicago game be two teams who played this Thursday; Cowboys looked really tired against Philly, that 10-day rest after the Chicago game will be a God-send for them.
9) Detroit Lions' last playoff win? 1991 against the Cowboys.
8) Steve Young comes out and says RGIII doesn't prepare well for his job; how are the Redskins supposed to get anything for him in a trade after that? What a disaster; they gave the Rams a king's ransom for the right to draft him, now it seems like RGIII is on his way out of Washington.
7) Can't we get a Jets-Redskins game this year, the Dysfunction Bowl?
6) Seattle 19, San Francisco 3-- 49ers' owner sounded off after the game; you get the feeling there is major dissension behind the scenes with 49ers brass. As a Ram fan, it'll be a good day for me if/when the Niners fire Jim Harbaugh.
5) Wisconsin 68, Georgetown 65-- This felt like an NCAA tournament game, with Hoyas playing their hearts out but coming up short. Badgers have lot of guys who can shoot the ball; Georgetown needs to give Smith-Rivera some scoring help.
4) North Carolina 78, UCLA 56-- Bruins are 0-2 in the Bahamas; poor UAB, they get a hungry UCLA team in the 7th place game. No one wants to go to these events and come home 0-3, but especially not a blue-blood program like UCLA.
3) Oklahoma 59, Butler 46-- Now have to watch Butler more to figure out if their North Carolina win was a fluke. Looks like the Sooners' loss at Creighton goes down as a learning experience.
2) Cal-Santa Barbara 71, Washington State 43-- Not often a Big West team cleans the floor with a Pac-12 squad, but it happened here. Ernie Kent has his hands full with this rebuilding job at Wazzu- they play Gonzaga pretty soon. Yikes.
1) TCU 48, Texas 10-- Statement made, in Austin. Very loud and clear.
Thursday's List of 13: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.......
13) Butler 74, North Carolina 66-- Bulldogs shot 31% from floor but outrebounded the Tar Heels 57-40, with 29 offensive boards. Impressive win for them.
12) St John's 70, Minnesota 61-- Gophers scored 40 points in first half, 21 in second and looked terrible in last 10:00, playing their first true road game this season.
11) Oklahoma 75, UCLA 65-- Steve Alford has a big advantage with his son Bryce on the team; not only is the kid really good, but he's going to stay in school for four years and kids who are that good don't do that much anymore.
This was a terrific win for Lon Kruger, whose team was 10-38 outside arc, 11-26 inside the arc. Thought for a second that Paul Westhead hijacked the Sooners.
10) Redskins will start Colt McCoy against the Colts Sunday, as the RGIII drama continues to play out poorly for Washington. Its fairly obvious that Jay Gruden isn't too fond of Robert Griffin the player.
9) Purdue center Isaac Haas has size 22 sneakers; those are big feet!!! Haas had 12 points in 22:00 off the bench in the Boilers' OT win over BYU.
8) Diamondbacks signed Cuban OF Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68.5M contract, good signing for Dave Stewart, Arizona's new GM.
7) Why are stores opening at 6pm tonight? What if we boycotted these stores and told them thats its OK to give employees a day off? Would they listen?
6) Atlanta Falcons lost seven games the last two years when they led in the fourth quarter; they're 4-7 this year but tied for first place. Has a team ever won a division title and still fired their coach after the season?
5) When the Ravens won the Super Bowl after the 2000 season, they went five games in a row that season without scoring an offensive TD. Thats how great their defense was back then. Lions haven't scored a TD in their last two games and people are in a panic; imagine going three more in a row?
4) Arkansas Razorbacks are ranked in hoop's top 25 for first time in seven years.
3) I'd be in favor of fewer timeouts in televsied college basketball games; you get an automatic timeout for TV every 4:00, so teams don't need five each besides those. Games lose their flow with so many stoppages.
2) Louisville 45, Cleveland State 33-- Rick Pitino gets his 700th college win in an oddly low-scoring game; first time I saw the result, thought it was a halftime score. .
1) Three NFL games today; three divisional rivalries, all NFC teams meeting for first time this season. Will be odd to see an NFC game on CBS.
Wednesday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL.........
32) Jets— They don’t have the worst record, but they go in the tank the most, which is more of an indictment. Monday night they just looked disinterested.
31) Jaguars—This was a year where they could’ve stolen some division games; they’re 1-10. Houston and Tennessee will be improving in coming years too; when will the Jags get out of last place?
30) Raiders—Wonder if they’ll give Sparano the full-time coaching gig; they’ve played better since he took over.
29) Titans—Have to be encouraged with how Mettenberger has played; will they trade high draft pick for multiple picks?
28) Redskins—You wonder what the real problem is with this team; over the last 15 years, lot of bright people have tried to win there. All of them failed.
8) Chiefs—Thoughts and prayers to DB Eric Berry, who has a medical issue to deal with now. His absence will hurt the KC defense.
7) 49ers—Amazing how awful they’ve been in red zone this year; by far worst red zone offense in league. How are they so bad with a mobile QB?
6) Seahawks—Last time a defending Super Bowl champ won a playoff game? 2005 Patriots; been a long time.
5) Ravens—Impressive win Monday night in Superdome; that was a high-level game. Teams that win Super Bowl seem to be play well in that same building when they re-visit.
4) Cowboys—Are finding ways to win; Beasley helped them bigtime Sunday night. OL took game over on game-winning drive.
3) Broncos—Probably should be lower on list, but they scored 39 points on a day that started out with them looking disjointed and old. Will need home playoff games.
2) Packers—Pretty fun 4:00 game Sunday: Brady vs Rodgers at Lambeau. Wonder if Jonas Gray has more than one alarm clock now?
1) Patriots—Has anyone ever done less to get on a Sports Illustrated cover than Gray? One game and he’s a cover boy, then six days later, he never gets off the bench. Life is funny sometimes.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Bills 38, Jets 3-- Tank job by the Jets, who seem disinterested. Bills didn't even practice Tuesday-Thursday- they've won two games in Detroit this season. ESPN has to be thrilled with next Monday night's Dolphin-Jet matchup.
12) Ravens 34, Saints 27-- Saints are 4-7 and tied for first in NFC South; they're not playing well, obviously. Just finished 3-game homestand with three straight losses. AFC North teams are 10-1-1 SU vs NFC South squads this year.
11) My nomination for two worst referees in NFL: Carl Cheffers and Jeff Triplette. There is often chaos in Cheffers games; his crew also calls the most penalties in the league. Triplette once blinded a guy (seriously, he did) by throwing a penalty flag and hitting the guy in his eye.
10) Macy's is opening at 6pm Thanksgiving night to beat the Black Friday rush; must be fun to work there. Thanksgiving is still a national holiday, right?
9) Red Sox gave Hanley Ramirez $88M for four years, Pablo Sandoval $100M for five years. Problem is, neither one of these guys pitches; Ramirez isn't exactly durable. Sandoval figures to slide into the DH role when David Ortiz retires.
8) Those signings dropped the Red Sox from 25-1 to 15-1 to win the World Series.
7) Last Super Bowl champ to win a playoff game the next season? 2005 Patriots.
6) Average over/under in the NFL, the last five years:
42.8--43.7--44.9--45.7--46.2. Its gone up four years in a row.
5) Patriots-Packers total opened at 58, the highest NFL total since Christmas Day in 2004, a Chiefs-Raiders game.
4) Eastern Washington 88, Indiana 86-- Huge win for the Big Sky conference.
3) Pitcher Bronson Arroyo had never been on DL before last season; he had Tommy John surgery this year, which made him decide to keep playing longer.
2) Ryan Mallett era didn't last long in Houston; he tore a pectoral muscle, is done for the year. He's a free agent after the season, but is now a suspect, not a prospect.
1) There is a College Basketball Hall of Fame that is separate from the Hall of Fame in Springfield; not sure who makes their selections, but Norm Stewart, Gene Keady are in and Jerry Tarkanian isn't. How is that possible? Wake up people!!!!
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up Week 12 in NFL.........
13) Raiders 24, Chiefs 20-- First win in over a year for Oakland. Chiefs were 2-12 on third down. Raiders ran ball for 179 yards.
12) Browns 26, Falcons 24-- Atlanta is now 0-7 out of division, 4-0 inside it; AFC North teams are 9-1-1 against NFC South. Hoyer threw three picks, Browns had ball in red zone six times, scored one TD, four FGs; despite all that, Browns won.
11) Eagles 43, Titans 24-- Josh Huff ran opening kick back 107 yards for a TD and things went downhill from there for Titans, who were travelling on short week after Monday night home game. Eagles now have ten return TDs this season.
10) Patriots 34, Lions 9-- Detroit didn't score TD on 21 drives on this two-game road trip, losses in Arizona/Foxboro. Jonas Gray was on cover of Sports Illustrated after he ran for 199 yards last week. He didn't play this week.
9) Packers 24, Vikings 21-- Two of three Packer TDs came on drives of less than 55 yards. Green Baay's offense is way better at Lambeau than on the road.
Comment that has nothing to do with this game: college football is better officiated than NFL games; too much micro-managing of officials by higher-ups. They want the refs to pick out a culprit when there is a skirmish. Ridiculous idea.
8) Colts 23, Jaguars 3-- Indy is now 14-0-1 vs spread under Pagano/Arians in game following a loss. Jacksonville is awful; say they wanted to move to LA; why would anyone in LA buy season tickets to watch such an awful team? Not like the fanbase in southern California is known for its loyalty.
7) Bengals, Bears and Seattle all won field position by 10+ yards Sunday, making those teams 57-1 SU this season. In other words, its important to get first downs and move the chains to help create longer fields for your opponents.
6) Bengals 22, Texans 13-- Cincinnati is really erratic, even by NFL standards. Andy Dalton gave a signed jersey from this game to his dad for his 55th birthday. Only TD Houston scored was by their defense, one of three defensive TDs scored league-wide; other two were scored by Rams-Chargers in same game.
5) Bears 21, Buccaneers 13-- Tampa led 10-0 at half and looked like they'd get their coach a win in his return to the Windy City, but they turned ball over three times in third quarter and Bears scored three TDs in a 7:31 span to get their second win in a row. Total yardage in this game: 367-204, Tampa.
4) Seahawks 19, Cardinals 3-- Arizona still leads NFC West by two games, but of their last five games, which are they winning? @ Atlanta, Chiefs, @ Rams on a short week, Seattle, @ 49ers. If they finished 10-6 it wouldn't be a shock.
3) Chargers 27, Rams 24-- You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB. You can't win in the NFL without a decent QB.
In case you're wondering, my living room wasn't a happy place at 7:15 last night.
2) 49ers 17, Redskins 13-- Added note from the Ram game; Ronde Barber sucks as an analyst. His comment after Shaun Hill threw a brutal INT on the goal line at the end of the game: "He played a great game".
My ass he did. Rams scored two TDs on offense, one was a 21-yard drive; Hill was picked on the Rams' second series, handing San Diego a FG, he fumbled when sacked, giving them a TD, then the last fateful pick. Gutty effort, not a great game.
1) Cowboys 31, Giants 28-- Question for you readers out there; your team has the ball on its own 20-yard line, down three points, 2:00 left-- what current QB do you want leading your team? Send me your answer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon set the D-I single-game rushing record last week and held it for a week; Oklahoma's Samaje Perine ran for 427 mostly uncontested yards as the Sooners drilled hapless Kansas 44-7. Watch the highlights; he hardly gets touched on any of his TD runs.
12) Notre Dame lost 31-28 to Louisville; Irish put down artificial turf on their home field, so now when a really fast team comes to South Bend, they can't grow the grass like a cow pasture, like they used to do when USC came to town.
11) Maryland is 7-4 with wins at Penn State/Michigan, in Terps' first year in the Big 14. I realize Penn State/Michigan are both down, but nothing was expected of the Terps this year, so they've got to be excited about going bowling.
10) Providence 80, Florida State 54-- Seminoles lost to Northeastern earlier in week, as Leonard Hamilton's crew is off to a rough start. Lot is expected of them this year.
9) College of Incarnate Word 79, Princeton 68-- Had never heard of this school until LY; it is in San Antonio, they play in Southland Conference and they're getting better quickly. Winning this game at Princeton is a good step for them.
8) Philadelphia 76ers are now 0-13; nine of their 15 players weren't even drafted into the NBA. You know how hard it is to make an NBA roster when you weren't drafted and Philly has nine of those guys?
7) In case you care about such things, Ravens/Dolphins are only two NFL teams that scored 10+ points in second half of every game this season.
6) Hawai'i 37, UNLV 35-- There was chicanery in paradise last night; UNLV scored with 0:15 left to go ahead 35-31, but were called for two 15-yard penalties after the TD, so Hawai'i wound on the Rebel 42 after the kickoff. They completed a pass, the clock miraculously stopped early with 0:01 left and Warriors scored the winning TD with an extra play that they may or may not have deserved.
5) UNLV 57, Temple 50-- In Brooklyn, a solid comeback for the Rebels, who looked awful in losing to Stanford Friday. Bad loss for the Owls.
4) Wyoming 56, Colorado 33-- This is a basketball score; Buffs scored nine points in the second half. Nine. Unfortunately for Wyoming fans, Boise State's footballl team scored more points than Wyoming did, in either football or hoops, beating the Pokes 63-14 in Laramie.
3) UCLA 38, USC 20-- Jim Mora is now 3-0 against the Trojans. .
2) An 8-team college football playoff seems inevitable, just a matter of when.
1) Florida State has won 27 straight football games; Jameis Winston is 24-0 as a college QB. Five of their wins this year are by 7 or less points, but these polls aren't about beating the spread, they're about winning. FSU does nothing but win.
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.........
13) Knicks’ PG Jose Calderon hasn’t played yet but he practiced Friday and is expected to play tonight against the 0-12 76ers. Calderon will help the Knicks but they're 3-10, which means they have multiple problems that go beyond point guard, but he will help move the ball better.
12) In case you care about such things, over is 26-9 in NFL primetime games.
11) 16 of 32 NFL teams have started their backup QB at least once this season and there are still six weeks left.
10) Patriots signed RB LaGarrette Blount about 45 seconds after the Steelers released him. Blount has a fairly long rap sheet of not being a great guy, not sure why the Pats want him (again), especially since they’re not playing the Steelers this year unless they meet in the playoffs. Not sure if he’s a big help on special teams, that could be part of it.
9) Closer look at Giancarlo Stanton’s contract: $10M a year for the first three years, then it ramps up to $26M a year for the next three and $32M a year for the seven after that. Maybe Jeffrey Loria plans to sell and won’t be around to give Stanton the really big bucks, or maybe he’ll just trade him to the Dodgers (Stanton is from LA and would no doubt waive his no-trade to go back there) once time comes.
8) Bovada has Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy as the betting favorite to replace Will Muschamp as the next football coach at Florida.
7) Next Cuban baseball sensation is OF named Yasmani Tomas, who will capitalize on the Cespedes/Abreu success to make very big money when he signs. Lot of teams have been prominently mentioned as suitors, most notably the Phillies and recently the Braves.
6) These are facts, do with them what you want: Redskins are averaging 347 yards a game when RGIII plays, 394 when someone else plays.
5) Just realized that former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel now works at Youngstown State, where he was a highly successful coach; he’s not coaching there anymore, he’s not the AD, he’s the freakin’ school President. Saw a pic of him with a kid in a Penguin costume, which caught my eye.
4) Golfer named John Hahn picked a great time, the last day of European Tour Q School, to shoot a 58 and get his Tour card for next year. He was using preferred lies, but 58 is 58. Good for him.
3) This is what my Las Vegas trips sometimes wind up like: It is Tuesday morning, I’m waiting to go to the airport to go home, sitting by myself at a casino bar, playing video poker and listening to Jeff Van Gundy broadcast the Northern Iowa-SF Austin game. How cool is it that Van Gundy was in Nacogdoches, TX doing an obscure college game on a Tuesday morning?
2) Never realized until this week that Alex Rodriguez signed two separate 10-year contracts in his career, which were worth a combined $527M. How about that? Its good to be him, or his agent.
1) I’m not much for politics, but I’d feel better for our country if we did as much for soldiers returning from active duty as we do for illegal immigrants—I’m pretty sure they deserve it.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend......
13) Jets-Bills game was moved to Detroit; game will be 7:00 Monday night. Bills haven't practiced the last two days- there's still a driving ban in parts of Buffalo. Jim Kelly said there is as much as seven feet of snow at his house in suburban Buffalo.
12) Arizona has been one of the most interesting teams this season, lot of close finishes. Wildcats are at Utah this week, a week after Utes won in OT at Stanford.
11) Broncos have been strong after a loss in Manning era; Miami won four of its last five games and looks to be catching a break with weather (sunny/43 is forecasted) on Sunday. Interesting game in Denver.
10) Arkansas got the SEC monkey off Bret Bielema’s back last week; now he goes for two in a row, but the Ole Miss offense is better than LSU’s. Not many easy outs (Vandy, maybe Kentucky now) in the SEC this season.
9) Giants lost their last five games and haven’t covered any of them; now the hated Cowboys come calling a few weeks after they beat Big Blue 31-21 in JerryWorld. How much did the bye week help Romo’s ailing back?
8) Miami went all-out last week and came up short against Florida State; much like LSU last week at Arkansas, the Hurricanes go on road this week to face a lesser but dangerous opponent in Virginia. Winning a letdown road game with a freshman QB has never been an easy day in college football.
7) I’ve basically given up predicting how the Bengals will play from week/week; they’re so erratic. Houston is improved this year at 5-5, winning Mallett’s first start last week in Cleveland. Dalton played college ball at TCU; will a trip back to the Lone Star State help his game any?
6) Saturday night, the 0-11 76ers visit the 3-10 Knicks, in Philly’s best chance in a while to actually win a game. Why are the Knicks paying Phil Jackson $12M a year? How are they any better now than they were the last two years?
5) Saints lost their last two home games, now host a Raven squad that won the Super Bowl last time they visited Bourbon Street. This should be a fun game to watch.
4) Stanford-Cal is a fierce rivalry; Cardinal seem to be declining, while Golden Bears are getting better, though only on offense. Speaking of Cal, shouldn’t Jack Nicklaus’ grandson have gone to Cal instead of Florida State? After all, he is the Golden Bear.
3) Lions head to Foxboro after they were held without a TD by the Cardinals. New England has been a juggernaut since Gronkowski got healthy, scoring 40+ points in their last three games.
2) USC-UCLA is a terrific rivalry; neither team wears white jerseys. UCLA always wears the light blue jerseys, Trojans wear the cardinal and gold. Third different HC in three years for USC, but Sarkisian looks a guy who will get their ship headed back towards the top, once he gets back to 85 scholarship players.
1) 9-1 Cardinals are getting 6.5 points from a 6-4 Seattle team this week. Redbirds won in Seattle in Week 16 LY. Going to be interesting to see how they fare out in the elements this year. Drew Stanton is a real good backup QB, but if something happens to him, the wheels are going to fall off the Redbird Express.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Pretty sad that Jay Gruden apologized Wednesday for criticizing RGIII for what he said after the loss to Tampa Bay Sunday. In this day and age, speaking your mind only gets you in trouble. People risk their lives to protect our freedoms, but the freedom of speech seems to be slipping away anyway.
12) Bucks 122, Nets 118, 3 OT-- Jason Kidd's return to Brooklyn turned out to be a tremendous game, full of twists/turns and drama. Bucks have a nice young team that has a solid future. OJ Mayo had 21 points in 39 minutes off the bench; Milwaukee was +13 while he was oin the floor, -9 while he was off it.
11) Spurs 92, Cavaliers 90-- Kawhi Leonard held Lebron James to 6-17 from floor as Cleveland fell to 5-5, 2-3 at home. Lebron took only one foul shot the whole game.
10) Celtics 101, 76ers 90-- Sixers are now 0-11, on their way to becoming the worst team in NBA history. 76ers-Knicks in NYC Saturday should be a treat.
9) Timberwolves 115, Knicks 99-- Minnesota was floundering since Ricky Rubio got hurt, but they won easily here. Knicks' starters other than Anthony combined to miss 18 of 26 shots- at least their bench was 17-32. Anthony only took seven shots (7-10).
8) Not sure if this is the right time, but the Knicks are 3-10; there is only so much help PG Calderon will be when he returns soon from his injury. Why exactly did the Knicks pay Phil Jackson $12M a year? He's never constructed a roster before.
7) Suns 88, Pistons 86-- Seven of last nine Detroit games were decided by 4 or less points, or in overtime. Pistons are struggling (3-9) but they're fun to watch.
6) Kent State-Buffalo game was postponed because of the snowstorm in Buffalo; am guessing this game will be re-scheduled on some odd night when ESPN needs some programming. These two teams are starving for mational TV exposure.
5) Raptors 96, Grizzlies 92-- Toronto is 9-2, but eight of 11 games were played at home. Memphis is 10-2 but no one talks about them. What would ABC ever do if the Finals wound up being Memphis-Toronto? Good teams, bad TV ratings.
4) Not sure if it is solely for recruiting appearances, but 69-year old Steve Fisher signed a 3-year contract extentrion with the Aztecs Wednesday. San Diego State was a downtrodden program when Fisher took over; now they regularly lead the West Coast teams in attendance.
3) Gonzaga 94, St Joe's 42-- This game was 48-10 at the half. 48 to freakin' 10. Zags are really good, while Hawks are rebuilding. Spokane isn't a very good place to visit this year if your team is rebuilding.
2) Creighton 65, Oklahoma 63-- Sooners led by 18 early in second half, new-look Bluejays got untracked and stormed from behind to pull the upset. Games like this are why big-name teams don't go out on the road too often before Christmas.
1) Marshawn Lynch got docked $100K for not talking to the media; what he has to do is study some Belichick tapes, when the Patriots' coach fulfills his duty by saying words to the press, while never saying anything of substance. Saves him lot of cash.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random post-vacation thoughts........
13) If you're in Las Vegas for a football Sunday, go to the Westgate Hotel, watch games in the theater there; can see all the games easily, bet on them and its a relaxing, almost quiet atmosphere. Plenty of room. I highly recommend it.
Meanwhile,, now that I'm back home, lets catch up on some things......
12) Damn I hate cold weather; get off the plane and its 25 degrees out, this after a week in the desert, where it was in the low 40's some nights. Feel bad for the people in Buffalo, who were already socked with a big winter storm. No bueno.
11) Giancarlo Stanton got $325M for 13 years from the Marlins; now that they've done that, how about moving the 20-foot tall CF fence in from 418 feet away, so that your best player doesn't look disgusted when he hits shots 410 feet that get caught? Its hard to believe Stanton will play his whole career as a Marlin....
10) Peyton Manning has played 42 regular season games with Denver: they scored 30+ points in 30 of 42 games, less than 20 twice; Sunday against the Rams and a 17-9 win at Kansas City couple years ago. Great job by Gregg Williams' defense Sunday.
9) Kentucky 72, Kansas 40-- This raises the question of whether Wildcats will lose a game, especially in a weakened SEC where Mizzou lost to UMKC, Ole Miss lost to Charleston Southern, Auburn lost by 30+ at Colorado.
8) Adrian Peterson is done for this season; lot of these athletes have kids out of wedlock with multiple women, so now they have to be wary of ex-girlfriends they had kids with who are embittered that the guy has moved on. Does Peterson still have to pay child support now that he is not getting paid anymore this year?
7) Russell Martin gets $82M for five years from Toronto. Martin is 31, he grew up in Montreal and the Blue Jays need a catcher. He made $8.5M this past year. Always risky to give a 30+-year old catcher big money-- this hurts the Pirates.
6) Miami 69, Florida 67-- Terrific win for Jim Larranaga that will speak very loudly on Selection Sunday. This rewards Miami for having PG Angel Rodriguez sit out last year when he could've played after transferring from Kansas State, but last year Miami wasn't as good. Now this year, the Hurricanes have a shot at a very big year.
5) Westgate Hotel is switching from Coke to Pepsi, so they were out of 20-ounce bottles of Coke this week, not good for me. Wonder how much money that is worth to Pepsi, getting one hotel like that to switch. Keep in mind they have several restaurants in the hotel, including a Pizza Hut and a great deli in the back of the sportsbook.
4) Rockets-Thunder played a game Sunday where no player in the game shot 50% or higher from the floor. None of them. Last time that happened? 1986.
3) Watched Wofford's win over Iona in the ESPN hoop marathon; wonder how much that helps either the Terriers or the weakened Southern Conference, which has been hurt badly by defections (Davidson/Charleston/Elon) the last couple years.
2) In Ken Whisenhunt's last 58 games as a head coach, which is 3.5 years, he's used nine different starting QB's. Nine. Thats a lot.
1) Over is 25-9 in NFL primetime games. No idea why, but it is what it is.
Tuesday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL....
32) Raiders-- Oakland has now lost 16 games in row, but are 5-5 vs spread this year. Their last win was at Houston, last home win against the Steelers.
31) Jaguars-- Outscored 46-13 in the first half of last three games; they had bye this week, are 3-1 in last four post-bye games.
30) Jets-- Were outscored 65-21 in last two post-bye games; have winnable game this week in Buffalo. Jets are 3-8-1 in last 12 games as divisional road underdog.
29) Titans-- Only win since season opener was 16-14 over Jaguars. Mettenberger is promising, but three of bottom four on this list are playing rookie QBs.
28) Redskins-- When the head coach starts criticizing the starting QB in the media, there are problems. Either that, or he's not going to be the starter much longer. Making it dicier is fact that they traded a boatload of draft picks to take RGIII. Whoops.
8) Cowboys-- Do broken backs heal in two weeks? Didn't think so. Four of their last six games are divisional games- they also play the Colts. Dallas lost three of its last four post-bye games.
7) Chiefs-- Won last five games, three by 4 or less points. Scored 30.8 ppg in winning last four home games, after losing season opener to Tennessee.
6) Colts-- Got pushed around by Patriots Sunday night; they're only 6-4, one game up on the Texans in AFC South. Finish with three road games in last four weeks.
5) Seahawks-- You get feeling they're not enjoying their season too much; Pat Riley calls it "The Disease of Me" when everyone takes credit for the team's success, when it shouldn't matter who gets the credit. They need Marshawn Lynch, but he seems like a royal pain in the butt at times.
4) Broncos-- Averaging 34.6 ppg at home, where they play this week for first time in four weeks. They brought Richie Incognito in for a reason; they need help on the OL to protect their QB, who is immobile. they didn't sign him, but it was a signal they're not comfortable with their OL.
3) Packers-- On serious roll right now; they're crushing teams at home. Their game in two weeks with New England could be interesting; later they visit Buffalo/Tampa in consecutive weeks, an interesting weather contrast.
2) Patriots-- Healthy Gronkowski turned their offense into a steamroller; in their last three games, they scored 51-43-42 points. Right now they'd be #1 seed in AFC- only team within game of New England are the Chiefs, who own tie-breakers with Pats.
1) Cardinals-- How in God's name is this team getting 6.5 points in Seattle this week, when they're 9-1? Stanton is as good as Palmer, but public perception is against them because they're not a popular team. This should be a good game.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday.......
13) Under is 10-3 so far this week, with an alarming shortage of touchdowns; with one game left this week, a total of only 44 TDs were scored by offenses in 13 games, compared to 64 in 13 games last weekend.
Of the four non-offensive TDs scored this week, three of them were scored by Green Bay in its 53-20 win over Philadelphia.
12) Texans 23, Browns 7-- JJ Watt caught a TD pass; Browns came up empty on two red zone drives and fell out of first in AFC North. Houston won Ryan Mallett's first NFL start. Cleveland had a kick return for TD called back by penalty; they were just 3-15 on third down conversions.
11) Bears 21, Vikings 13-- Minnesota led 10-0 early, but Chicago used their WRs' height to their advantage; Jeffery had 135 receiving yards, Marshall 90. Bears won 19 of 28 3rd downs in this game and that was a big part of the difference.
10) Packers 53, Eagles 20-- Philly got drubbed playing on short week, giving up two defensive TDs and a punt return TD. All four Green Bay TD drives were 80+ yards; they've scored 50+ points two games in row and outscored last four visitors to Green Bay by combined score of 128-9 in first half of those games.
9) Chiefs 24, Seahawks 20-- Marshawn Lynch stayed on the bench with trainers at halftime; they worked on a leg injury. He also refused to talk to reporters after game and could be fined $100K by the league. First drive by Chiefs, second drive for Seattle ate up total of 18:01, on 31 plays for 176 yards, which shortened game a great deal.
This game was first NFL contest this year where both teams ran ball for more yards than they passed it. Thats actually hard to believe, but it is true.
8) Falcons 19, Panthers 17-- Atlanta is 4-0 in divisional games, 0-6 against everyone but is now in first place in NFC South. At 4-6. Carolina missed a 46-yard FG with 1:27 left wide left, then had a 63-yarder tipped at the gun. Panthers are 1-7-1 in their last nine games, after starting season 2-0.
7) Bengals 27, Saints 10-- New Orleans has problems, losing second home game in row; this was an odd game where teams combined to convert 17 of 26 on third down, but game stayed under total by 13.5 points, with Saints' longest play only 17 yards. Everyone in AFC North is either 6-4 or 6-3-1; they're killing the NFC South teams-- so far this year, AFC North is 8-1-1 against NFC South (Bucs won at Pittsburgh).
6) Buccaneers 27, Redskins 7-- We're learning that the real star of LY's Texas A&M football team might've been WR Mike Evans, not Johnny Manziel. Evans caught seven balls for 209 yards and two TDs. Washington has a real dilemma with RGIII, who as one patron in the Westgate Theater said Sunday ".....RGIII looks awful today!!!!"
5) Rams 22, Broncos 7-- Rams played perfect defense, offense didn't screw anything up, hit one big play and an upset happened. Odd stat of the day: Rams are now 7-0 vs spread, 6-1 SU when I am in Las Vegas and they were underdog in six of seven games. Maybe I should move here. Ram DBs hit like Hall of Famers in this game.
4) 49ers 16, Giants 10-- When you turn ball over five times on 12 drives, go 3/out on four other drives, you're going to lose. 49ers scored only six points on three red zone drives, didn't recover an onside kick, butchered an easy FG, but escaped with a win. Aldon Smith's return meant a reduced role for Ahmad Brooks, who was not happy.
3) Chargers 13, Raiders 6-- Oakland fumbled on first play; Chargers scored couple plays after that and that was only TD all day. San Diego averaged only 5.0 ypp; they are having problems protecting Rivers, so they're reduced to shorter pass plays. Next week the Rams visit Qualcomm after beating Denver; should be a good game.
Chargers had 15-yard edge in field position in this game; teams with 10+-yard edge in field position are now 54-1 this season.
2) Cardinals 14, Lions 6-- Arizona is now 9-1 but will be an underdog in Seattle next week. This game had a scoreless second half. Detroit had only 11 first downs, was outgained by 95 yards, averaging only 4.8 ypa, half of what Arizona averaged. Best part about Bruce Arians is that he rarely stops attacking, on offense or defense.
1) Patriots 42, Colts 20-- Brady threw ugly INT at end of first half that let the Colts creep within 14-10, but Patriots were juggernaut in second half, scoring first four times they had ball (31 plays, 272 yards)- they ran ball for 244 yards, were more physical.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) Florida State 30, Miami 26-- All they do is win; Jameis Winston is now 23-0 as a starter; he threw for 300+ yards in 12 of the 23 games. Down 23-7 with 10:00 left in first half, they chipped away and finally took lead for good with 3:05 left. Anyone who doesn't put them in the top 4 in the country is either stupid or has an agenda.
12) In-game wagering here in Las Vegas is interesting; they change the spread after every score. At one point, you could have bet Florida State +11 in this game, when it was 23-7. It takes a leap of faith and a strong stomach, but is turned out to be a good bargain. Seminoles fall behind so much, if you like them to win, might as well wait until they fall behind, then bet them and get added value.
11) Alabama 25, Mississippi State 20-- Nothing like being in Las Vegas sportsbook when a team gets a backdoor cover in last minute or two. After being down 19-0, State battled back to within 19-13 early in 4th quarter, but Bama scored with 8:09 left to go up 25-13. Bulldogs scored with 0:15 left on 4th down to cover the spread.
About 90 seconds after State scored, Texas Tech scored on last play of the game to cover against Oklahoma. Great fun to see people's reactions.
10) TCU 34, Kansas 30-- Jayhawks are terrible; this close result pushes the Horned Frogs out of the top 4. Kansas led by 10 with 19:00 left.
9) Wisconsin 59, Nebraska 24-- Melvin Gordon carried ball 25 times for 408 yards as Badgers won on a 26-degree day in Madison, Wisconsin's coldest home game since 1965. 408 yards is the single-game record, beating out LaDanian Tomlinson's record of 406 yards. Gordon had 258 at the half, was done for day by time it started to snow in fourth quarter. I hate snow, even on TV 1,500 miles away.
8) Arizona 27, Washington 26-- Huskies fumbled on their own 45 with 1:23 left, and kicked winning 47-yard FG to go to 8-2. Kicker Casey Skowron was once the student manager of the women's soccer team at Arizona; now he's a hero.
Penalty yardage in this game: Washington: 111, Arizona 14. Six of Arizona's 10 games have been decided by 7 or less points.
7) Northwestern 43, Notre Dame 40 OT-- Wildcats had scored average of 12.5 ppg in losing previous four games, they win here in OT after a hideous piece of coaching by Notre Dame, which had the ball with 1:38 left and Northwestern out of timeouts.
Instead of taking three knees, Notre Dame ran a play and fumbled, losing for second time in row to the Wildcats. They were a 17-point dog in this game; last time they met, in 1995, Northwestern was a 28-point dog.
6) Tennessee 50, Kentucky 16-- Vols have their QB in soph Joshua Dobbs, who threw for 297 yards and three TDs and ran for 48 more yards. Butch Jones is a very good coach; the Vols will be a force in the SEC for years to come.
5) In case you care about such things, Alabama/Mississippi State are two schools in SEC who are closest to each other, 84 miles. Finanacially? Little farther apart.
4) South Florida 14, SMU 13-- 0-9 Mustangs led 13-0 with 9:00 left on a rainy night in Texas, had their hearts ripped out when USF scored with 0:04 left for the win.
3) South Carolina 23, Florida 20 ot-- Spurrier beats his alma mater; his Gamecocks tied game with 0:12 left. Gators will be looking for a new coach soon.
2) Arkansas 17, LSU 0-- Sometimes you can handicap just by looking at a schedule; Tigers battled hard in OT with Alabama last week, Arkansas had a bye. LSU's kicker had a rough night, missing an easy one that would've gotten Tigers to within 10-3.
1) Boise State 38, San Diego State 29-- Aztecs led 20-0 with 7:33 left in half, but Boise battled back and held serve on its blue turf. Boise/Colorado State are two best teams in Mountain West and Air Force is pretty good, too.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts from the desert....
13) UNLV 60, Morehead State 59-- Had lot of fun at this game; Rebels have a really young team, are lost on offense when PG Doolin is off floor. UNLV took almost twice as many foul shots (27-14) as Morehead, the price of playing on the road.
12) UNLV freshman Vaughn is very good, but he looked almost guilty when he was taking so many shots in middle part of game, when no other Rebel could get open for his shot. At one time, Vaughn had 21 of UNLV's 37 points. He will have to become a more committed scorer for UNLV to be good this year, until other freshmen develop.
11) Charleston Southern 66, Ole Miss 65 OT-- Oy. Rebels put up with Marshall Henderson's shenanigans because stuff like this never happened when he was around.
10) UMKC 69, Missouri 61-- Rough night for SEC at 7-4; four losses in November, against stiff teams like the Kangaroos, aren't going to look good when teams wind up on the bubble in March.
9) Louisville 81, Minnesota 68-- Kid like Montrezl Harrell staying in school makes Cardinals a legit national title contender; when kids like Khem Birch go pro, a guy like Dave Rice finds himself on a hot seat in Las Vegas. Million dollar jobs hinge on these decisions a 19 or 20-year old makes, with help from "advisors". Awesome.
8) Birch got such good advice to leave UNLV early that he will be playing this year for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the D-League; not a great decision.
7) Kentucky 85, Grand Canyon 45-- Dan Majerle coaches Grand Canyon; biggest problem he had here was that his team was the 3rd-best team in this game, behind the two 6-man units Kentucky rotates, like hockey lines.
6) Michigan State 64, Navy 59-- Spartans struggling early on; either that, or Navy is going to win the Patriot League.
5) Louisville's win over Minnesota makes fathers 16-2 in Division I games, when coaching against their sons. Good TV exposure for the Golden Gophers, though.
4) Jazz 102, Knicks 100-- Carmelo Anthony scored 46, tying game on banked 3-ball with 0:02.3 left, but Trey Burke ended it with a walk-off fallaway from the left corner, as Phil Jackson's creation lost its 7th straight game.
3) Rockets 88, 76ers 87-- Philly lost by 53 Thursday, damn near won in Houston, as Mexico hangover made Rockets/Wolves 0-2 vs spread last night. Minnesota lost by 48 in New Orleans- it was 43-19 after first quarter.
2) Cavaliers 122, Celtics 121-- Lebron James had 41, as Cleveland rallied back from down 17 in the 4th quarter. Last time Boston lost a home game they led by 17+ in fourth quarter was 1988. James played 41 minutes; be careful,. coach Blatt!!!!
1) Whoever the person is who is responsible for the Lakers being on ESPN/TNT so much this season, well that person should lose their job. Lakers are one of the five-worst teams in the NBA- why are they on national TV so much?
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.....
13) Browns' QB Brian Hoyer is a free agent after this year; his old coach with New England was Bill O'Brien, the Texans' coach. Houston needs a QB; if Ryan Mallett is not the Texans' answer, would they make Hoyer a rich man?
12) Clemson lost its last four visits to Georgia Tech; can they reverse that trend and get a solid win over a streaking Yellow Jacket squad?
11) Weather is supposed to be frigid on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field Sunday, as Eagles visit in a rematch of the 1960 championship game. Mark Sanchez is from California; will Philly offense suffer in this game?
10) LSU lost a tough OT game last week; Arkansas had a bye. Bret Bielema is 0-13 in SEC games; can he break thru at home against a Tiger squad that beat Arkansas the last three years?
9) Bengals were awful last week; Saints lost their first home game in OT. This game looks like an over waiting to happen. Which team will stop whom first?
8) Duke is favored over Virginia Tech this week; the last ten times these teams met, Tech was a double digit favorite. Blue Devils are an over-achieving 8-1 this year.
7) Seahawks-Chiefs is a surprisingly good game this week. KC held the Bills to two field goals on four red zone drives last week, escaped with a 17-13 win. Seattle lost its NT for the year last week, good news for Jamaal Charles' fantasy owners.
6) Arizona State has a trap game in Corvallis after beating Notre Dame 55-31 last week. Graham has a good record as a road favorite and Beavers have been slumping but in the past, thats when they've been most dangerous.
5) Chicago Bears were pathetic Sunday night, now they're a home favorite when the entire Windy City is calling for people to be fired. Whatever they have left in their collective tanks, we'll see it here, if they have any pride at all.
4) Georgia gets star RB Todd Gurley back from his ridiculous suspension this week; Dawgs won six of last eight games against Auburn, which lost to Texas A&M last week as a 21-point favorite.
3) Patriots-Colts are both very hot teams. Not many teams have transitioned from one superstar QB to another as easily as Indy has. Both teams are going to coast to division titles, but this game could matter for home field in playoffs.
2) Mississippi State is a 9.5-point underdog at Alabama; how come they're ranked #1 in the country? Why don't the oddsmakers have a voice in the polls?
1) 7-2 Lions at 8-1 Cardinals is the best game of the week in a week with several big games. Who would've guessed this back in May, when the schedule came out?
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts from the desert....
13) What does it say that one of Drew Brees' kids was on the Superdome field after the Saints' game Sunday, wearing a #43 jersey? Think Brees misses Darren Sproles?
12) Chiefs' WRs have yet to catch a TD pass this season; every other team's WRs have caught at least three touchdowns.
11) Bills have to be sick about losing at home to the Chiefs; in a 17-13 game, they scored two field goals on four trips to the KC red zone. No bueno.
10) NFL officials lightened up on the defensive penalties in Week 10, with average of 2.83 first downs via penalty per game last week, down about 1.5 a game from what had been the season average this year.
9) Redskins have scored only two TDs on drives of less than 60 yards, least in NFL; Jets and Rams are next with three each. Baltimore (13) has scored the most.
8) By way of contrast, 10 of Cleveland's 22 TDs came on drives of less than 60 yards, meaning their defense/special teams are setting the offense up in great shape.
7) Odd stat of day: Raiders are 0-9, Houston lost their last 14 games last year, which means that Oakland backup QB Matt Schaub is on a 23-game NFL losing streak.
6) Something to follow while watching the Giants this week; the team that won field position this season won all nine Giant games.
5) When was last time someone tore the goalposts down after beating Iowa State? Fans at Kansas did last week; thats how awful their football team is. Usually if you lose to Iowa State, your coach starts packing his bags for his next job.
4) I told you being a window washer is a bad job; couple guys had to be rescued off the side of a building in New York City, up on 50th floor or so. Not sure how much those guys get paid, but it ain't near enough.
3) Victor Martinez re-upped for four years to be the Tigers' DH, good news for Detroit fans and more importantly, for my fantasy baseball team.
2) ESPN's NBA pregame show is way better now with Avery Johnson and Jalen Rose as studio analysts. It had been unwatchable the last couple years.
1) Denver Nuggets fired George Karl because he always lost in the first round of the playoffs; no such worries anymore- Denver is terrible, losing its last six games of the year, not even covering a spread in any of the six games. Only way they'll watch any playoff games in Denver this season is on TV, where Karl now works.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) 24 of the 32 NFL teams have a #1 draft pick playing at offensive tackle; none of Carolina's tackles were even drafted, which helps explain why Cam Newton is getting treated like a pinata every week.
12) Rising star in ESPN's studios; Louis Riddick, who is on during the day; he offers strong opinions and he makes sense-- he should be on the Sunday morning show, if their Sunday morning show wasn't more nonsense than good football stuff.
Colts' backup QB Matt Hasselbeck worked the Rams-Cardinals game Sunday and he was very good. If he quit playing right now and signed with CBS, he'd be their second best analyst, behind Dan Fouts.
11) Since 2010, NFL home teams that played the previous three games on road are 5-13-1 vs spread, 2-6 if favored.
10) Since 2009, NFL road teams who played previous three games at home are 31-22 vs spread, 9-7 if favored.
9) There were 11 NHL games Tuesday; Dallas was only road team to win. There was a 44-16 goal differential in favor of the home teams.
8) Phil Mickelson is now an assistant golf coach at Arizona State; his brother is the head coach-- think that helps their recruiting?
7) UCLA made its first ten 3-pointers in its scrimmage with UNLV last weekend; first half was all Bruins, but the young Rebels played better after that.
6) Sacramento/Charlotte were up both up 20+ points on road Tuesday but neither team won. Kings couldn't even cover as a 7-point underdog in Dallas.
5) Interesting tidbit from Al Michaels' new book: He once worked as a booker on The Dating Game, the 60's game show where a single went on and interviewed three prospective dates, without seeing any of them before he/she made their choice.
4) Mark Few is 403-100 at Gonzaga, the only active D-I hoop coach whose career winning percentage is over 80%. Few has one of his best teams this season.
3) Alabama won at LSU but stayed the same in the latest rankings? Oy.
2) If I ran ESPN, Rece Davis would be my #1 college football guy.
1) Disappointing news from back home, where the bowling alley I grew up going to has been sold and will be used as a warehouse for the many Asian supermarkets that are now open in my hometown. Had a lot of fun in that building.
Tuesday's List of 13: Happy Veterans' Day.......
13) Greetings from Las Vegas, where it seemed kind of quiet on my first night here. I highly recommend non-stop flights to/from Las Vegas; changing planes with a 2-hour layover made for a very long day.
12) Eagles 45, Panthers 21-- Have to feel good for Mark Sanchez, who got openly mocked by the wiseasses on ESPN before the game. Sanchez has started in two AFC title games; there are lot of NFL QBs who never played a conference championship game. Chip Kelly is on his third starting QB in 26 games, though.
11) I'll never forget this story about Sanchez; NFL teams go to colleges to work out draft prospects every spring. Obviously, if you're looking at a QB, you will also need RBs/WRs to be there, to run routes and catch his passes. Sometimes this can be a problem; when Josh Freeman worked out at Kansas State, two kids showed up to catch his passes.
When Sanchez worked out at USC, around two dozen kids showed up; USC guys, kids who played in high school with Sanchez. He is a beloved teammate by most who know him and thats a big part of being a professional quarterback.
10) NFL officials toned down the penalty stuff this weekend; teams got only 35 first downs in 13 games (2.69 per game) via penalty. Number had been around 4.3 per game for the first nine weeks of the season.
9) Chicago Bears are first team since 1923 to allow 50+ points in consecutive games; at this rate, hard to imagine all their coaches surviving the season with jobs intact.
8) Odd twist to the Alabama/LSU rivalry; LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron replaced Nick Saban as coach of the Dolphins when Saban bolted for Alabama.
Enjoy watching Bama-LSU games, but this year's was a little painful: Crimson Tide hit on only 20 of 46 passes. LSU was just 8-26. Oy.
7) #1 Mississippi State is a 7-point underdog this week in Tuscaloosa. Maybe the committee that picks the Final Four for playoffs should use Las Vegas power ratings as part of their selection process. Lot of brain power behind power ratings.
6) An 18-year old kid won NASCAR Nationwide championship? When did he get his license? How does an 18-year old become a professional driver and a good one?
5) Nine of the top ten in the Westgate handicapping contest were right when they had the Jets over Pittsburgh this week. They're smarter people than I am-- how did they know the Jets would have four takeaways, when they had a total of three in their first nine games? They were +4 and only won 20-13.
4) Speaking of which, top six picks each week in Westgate contest are now 33-27 this season; those picks had a lousy record (42-57-4) last year.
3) Washington State's redshirt freshman Luke Falk was 44-61 for 471 yards in his first college start last week, in a 39-32 upset win at Oregon State. Say what you want about Mike Leach, but the man can coach quarterbacks.
2) Michigan 10, Northwestern 9-- This was a terrible, sloppy game, but the ending was dramatic. Wildcats were down 10-3; they score with 0:02 left-- instead of going to OT by kicking the PAT, they try for two points and the win, in a game that had been devoid of any semblance of offense for 3.5 hours.
I think Pat Fitzgerald is a terrific coach but I hated this decision- it tells his kids they aren't as good as Michigan when for this year at least, they probably are. This is not a second guess; was yelling at my TV as it happened live and I had no stake in who won the game. It cheated the kids out of playing it out the right way. Too bad.
1) If you care about such things, over is now 23-8 in NFL night games this year.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Browns 24, Bengals 3-- Dalton's 10-33 for 86 yard passing night was dismal; all four teams in AFC North are 2+ games over .500. Last time that happened was way back in 1935. Ravens only have one divisional game left.
12) Cowboys 31, Jaguars 17-- Turnovers had a huge influence this week; eight of 12 games so far this week had one team with a +2 or better turnover ratio; all eight won their game. Teams with a 10+-yard edge in field position are now 49-1 this year.
11) Lions 20, Dolphins 16-- Detroit finds a way to win late in game for third game in row; Lions visit Arizona/Foxboro next two weeks. We'll know lot more about them then. In a pregame interview, Calvin Johnson sounded like he wasn't too crazy about Jim Schwartz, the previous coach of the Lions. Interesting stuff.
10) Chiefs 17, Bills 13-- Huge play in game with 9:47 left in third period and Bills up 10-3. Bryce Brown was running for TD, but was stripped of ball on 4-yard line. TE Chandler had clean shot to recover ball in end zone, but fumbled it out back of end zone and Chiefs got ball on their 20. Game swung on that play.
9) 49ers 27, Saints 24 OT-- Niners drove 51 yards in 1:08 to kick tying FG, then Brees fumbled on sack in OT and Saints lost at home for first time. Kaepernick was 14-32 passing, which has to be a concern, especially in a domed stadium.
8) Ravens 21, Titans 7-- Tennessee ran 24 plays for 137 yards on first two drives of game, then for rest of game, ran 30 plays 73 yards- not good. Titan fumble on 1-yard line on first series became a huge play. Ravens forced seven 3/outs, which resulted in their having a 12-yard edge in field position.
7) Jets 20, Steelers 13-- Nine of top ten people in Westgate handicapping contest had Jets in this game, which defies logic. Jets forced four turnovers (+4) after having three takeaways total in their first nine games. Roethlisberger threw 12 TD passes in his last two games; Steelers scored three points in three red zone drives here, as they fell to 0-2 on artificial turf this season (one TD on 19 drives).
6) Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17-- Favorites covered nine of 11 games Sunday; home sides were 6-5 vs spread, over was 6-5. Bucs converted 12 of 17 on third down but turned ball over four times (-4), as they remained winless at home. If Carolina wins Monday night, they'll be 4-5-1 and tied for first in the woeful NFC South.
5) Broncos 41, Raiders 17-- Oakland led 10-6 in second quarter, then the roof fell in; Denver outgained Raiders 471-222; four of their five TD drives were 62 or less yards. All five of Manning's TD passes were 10+ yards, unusual for Denver. I hope Justin Tuck is enjoying his big contract, because he signed to play on the Titanic.
4) Cardinals 31, Rams 14-- Arizona gave Carson Palmer $50M extension this week with $20M guaranteed; he tore his ACL with Rams up 14-10 in 4th quarter. Backup QB Stanton came in to lead go-ahead TD drive, then defense scored twice in 1:15 to seal game, but now only QB behind Stanton is highly suspect rookie Logan Thomas.
3) Seahawks 38, Giants 17-- Seattle ran ball for 350 yards, very rare for an NFL team; those yards were most rushing yards allowed by the Giants in game since Week 13 of the '78 season, when they allowed 366 against OJ Simpson and the Bills. This was a game Seattle trailed until 4:13 was left in third quarter- they outscored Giants 21-0 in fourth quarter. .
2) Packers 55, Bears 14-- Game was 42-nil at half. Chicago was terrible, the kind of non-effort that gets coaches fired. Why exactly did they fire Lovie Smith, a coach who had a winning record? Jay Cutler is gradually turning into this generation's version of Jeff George, a skilled passer who isn't much of a leader.
1) Next time I talk to you will be from Las Vegas, America's favorite city. Time for a little vacation. Have an excellent Monday.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Oregon 51, Utah 27-- Utes' WR Kaelin Clay was going to score a TD to put his team ahead 14-0, but he showboated and dropped the ball before he crossed the goal line. Oregon picked the ball up and ran it back 99 yards for a TD, which propelled them to a 24-10 halftime lead in Salt Lake City. No bueno.
12) Boise State 60, New Mexico 49-- Lobos had 409 rushing yards at HALFTIME but lost; game was 42-35 NM at half. Boise ran ball for 307 yards, threw it for 367. Odd game; very rare for team to run for 500+ yards and lose.
11) Arizona State 55, Notre Dame 31-- Sun Devils raced out to 34-3 lead, had to take a deep breath when it got to 34-31 but they scored three TDs in last 4:29 to put it away. Golson threw for 446 yards but turned ball over five times.
10) Baylor 48, Oklahoma 14-- Bears had lost 37 road games in row vs teams in Top 25, with last win coming in 1991. Petty was 32-42/387 while Knight was 12-27 and got KO'd late in game. Total yardage was 544-319. Sooner defense is ordinary.
9) Alabama 20, LSU 13 OT-- These teams have gone to OT four times in last decade, road team won all four games. If you had LSU +6.5, the gambling gods owe you one.
8) TCU 41, Kansas State 20-- Horned Frogs ran ball for 334 yards; Wildcats had covered 13 of last 16 as a road underdog. TCU ran 82 plays to 59 for K-State, which threw ball for 376 yards in losing cause. Could TCU make the Final Four?
7) Colorado State 49, Hawai'i 22-- Rams are 9-1; they ran ball for 293 yards, threw it for 287; are they the best team in the Mountain West? Their only loss was 37-24 at Boise State, which lost to Ole Miss and Air Force.
6) Florida State 34, Virginia 20-- Seminoles are 2-7 vs spread but Winston is now 22-0 as a starter at FSU. No way will Winston ever see that disciplinary hearing; he's off to the NFL as soon as Florida State plays its bowl game.
5) Texas A&M 41, Auburn 38-- Something as simple as a center snap cost Auburn this game; they lost fumbles in A&M territory on their last two drives and lost even though they ran ball for 363 yards in game they trailed 35-17 at the half.
They trailed 35-17 because the Aggies blocked a FG for a TD on the last play of the first half. Aggies won as a 21-point underdog; Tulane won as an 18-point dog, with its 31-24 win at Houston.
4) Ole Miss 48, Presbyterian 0; Mississippi State 45, UT-Martin 16-- Why in the name of Shug Chumbler are these teams playing I-AA opponents? All we hear is how great the SEC is and I enjoy their games, but DON'T PLAY I-AA TEAMS!!!!!
3) Georgia 63, Kentucky 31-- Dawgs ran opening kick back for TD, later a punt for another TD; they also converted all eight third down plays, gaining 559 yards as fans in Kentucky start looking forward to basketball season. Wildcats lost their last four games, allowing average of 42.3 ppg.
2) Rice 17, Tex-San Antonio 7-- Owls won last six games after an 0-3 start, where they lost at Notre Dame/Texas A&M by a combined score of 86-27, then lost 45-42 to Old Dominion, a I-A newcomer. Thats a really good coaching job, keeping your kids' heads in game after such a bad start.
1) Ohio State 49, Michigan State 37-- Former South Carolina QB Phil Petty is the answer to an odd trivia question; last QB to beat Buckeyes in consecutive seasons, as both games were also in bowls, in 2000-01. Connor Cook had chance to do that here, but the Buckeyes spanked Michigan State, winning 5th straight visit to East Lansing. .
Saturday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend
13) TCU-Kansas State is a big game in the Big X; Bill Snyder covered 13 of his last 16 games as a road underdog, winning SU at Oklahoma last month. Can Wildcats win at TCU?
12) If you were a casual football fan in Florida looking to buy Jaguar season tickets, and the NFL took the Dallas game this season and put it in London, what does that tell me? It tells me the Jaguars are going to move, either to London or LA. Too bad, but for this week it is London. Interesting to hear Deion Sanders/Michael Irvin say Sunday night that Tony Romo had to play in this game, based on how bad Brandon Weeden was against the Cardinals. No mention of Romo’s health.
11) Alabama-LSU is in Baton Rouge and it is always good theater. Crimson Tide covered once in its last seven games away from home. Its amazing how many games Les Miles has won in Baton Rouge with sub-standard QBs (other than Mettenberger). This game is most always a defensive slugfest.
10) Dolphins-Lions is a surprising big game this week. Detroit pulled two games out of its hat before their bye. Miami has played better and better each week, crushing the Chargers last week. Tannehill’s running (he was a WR at Texas A&M for two years) has bolstered the Miami offense.
9) Total yardage in LY’s Notre Dame-Arizona State game was 427-424, a 37-34 Irish win. This is only second true road game this season for Notre Dame, who gave up 39 points to Navy’s option attack last week. ASU’s offense is way more diverse. This should be an interesting game.
8) How healthy is Aaron Rodgers? He tweaked his hamstring in New Orleans two weeks ago. Packers are 5-0 on grass, 0-3 on carpet. Bears lost four of last five games, as natives continue to grumble about their QB.
7) Charles Barkley is going on a hunger strike until the Lakers win; he better be careful or he’s going to wind up looking like a 6-4 version of Manute Bol. The Lakers are terrible.
Unrelated note: in 1991, I gave up soda/pie/candy after the Rams lost a game to the Raiders, saying I wouldn’t have sweets again until the Rams won another game. That win came……11 months later, in Week 2 of the following season. Felt like a freakin’ idiot, but lost 30 pounds.
6) Good thing to watch with the Cavaliers’ development as a team: in their loss at Utah Wednesday, the Jazz passed the ball 421 times, Cleveland 269.
Kyrie Irving is learning how to play in this style of play; remember, during his one year at Duke, he didn’t play in any ACC games because he was hurt. Cleveland will be good eventually; its going to take a while for them to become more cohesive.
5) Mark Sanchez’ first Philly start is on Monday night against Carolina; no pressure there, in front of those easy-going Eagle fans. Sanchez will be an interesting study; if he does well, will Iggles part ways with Nick Foles?
4) Jim Mora is a Washington alum who from sound of it, wouldn’t have minded becoming the Huskies’ coach back when they hired Steve Sarkisian. Now Mora takes his UCLA Bruins to Seattle to play Chris Petersen’s Huskies; this will be one of the weekend’s better games.
3) Ben Roethlisberger threw 12 TD passes in his last two games, first NFL QB ever to do that. Now Pittsburgh visits Swamp Stadium to play the struggling Jets, who haven’t won since Opening Day. There might be more Steeler fans than Jet fans there; Terrible Towels travel well.
2) Ohio State-Michigan State is a rare Big 14 game that might be watchable over an SEC game; Buckeyes have been crushing teams since they lost to Va Tech early on. MSU’s Mark Dantonio might be the most underrated coach in America. This will be a very good game.
1) Saints are 4-4, but they’re 3-0 at home. 49ers need to win in Superdome to avoid falling to 4-5. Loser of this game is going to have lot of ‘splaining to do next week.
Friday's List of 13: Our NFL's bottom 5 and top 8.........
32) Raiders—Common thread between bottom four teams on this list are QB issues; Carr looks like he’ll be fine, but playing a rookie has its drawbacks. Oakland has played better the last four weeks, under interim coach Sparano.
31) Jaguars—Another rookie QB, another team that has been more competitive of late, but 1-7 is 1-7. They’re in England this week; NFL cheated their fans out of seeing the popular Cowboys to move this game to London.
30) Jets—Fire everyone as soon as the season ends. Coaches, QB’s, GM, janitors, secretaries, everyone. Start over; that way it’ll be easier to win in the long run.
29) Titans—First road start this week for young Mettenberger against Baltimore team smarting after consecutive division losses.
28) Buccaneers—Offense has legit excuse in that OC Tedford had to leave before season really started because of heart issues, so they’re getting outcoached badly on that side of ball since HC Smith is defensive guy and couldn’t step in and take over.
8) Dolphins—This time LY, Miami was in hell, its season ruined by the Incognito bullying scandal; Joe Philbin had wanted to cut Incognito the previous spring but was overruled, which is probably why the owner fired the GM after last season. Now Philbin has his team rolling and headed towards the playoffs.
7) Eagles—Mark Sanchez makes his first Eagle start this week at home on Monday Night Football. If he plays well, it’ll be another nail in the 2014 Jet coffin- they couldn’t wait to dump the guy two years ago.
6) Colts—Have a vast array of offensive weapons, but Luck has taken lot of hits this season; they’re screwed if he gets hurt. RB’s Richardson/Bradshaw are suspects, but they do have lot of weapons at WR/TE.
5) Packers—How healthy is Rodgers’ hamstring? He tweaked it at end of Saint game two weeks ago. Interesting game against reeling Bears Sunday night; both teams are coming off byes. Chicago lost four of its last five games.
4) Steelers—Roethlisberger is first QB EVER to throw 12 TDs in two-game span; now they go on road to face reeling Jets. Pitt lost only previous game on artificial turf this year, in Week 2 at Baltimore.
3) Broncos—Raiders can’t catch a break; they play Denver this week with Broncos reeling after their beatdown in Foxboro.
2) Patriots—Healthy Gonkowski makes a big difference in their passing game; still amazing how Patriots don’t have any good WRs. Edelman was a QB in college.
1) Cardinals-- Life is all about opportunity; Bruce Arians had to wait for a head coaching job until he was in his 60’s, now he is making the most of it. There are people out there saying Arizona is lucky; I say they’re getting the most out of what they have, despite a lot of injuries.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Lebron James played 85 minutes in Cleveland’s first two games, which is way too many; he was down to 35 in Tuesday’s loss in Portland, then played 42 minutes in Utah last night, where the Cavaliers lost 102-100.
Coach Blatt is going to have to learn how to dispense minutes to preserve his starters for the long season, especially James. Season is 82 games and as many as four playoff series, which could be 28 more games.
High drama at the end in Utah last night; Gordon Hayward hit a fadeaway from deep on the right wing as the horn sounded, dropping the Cavaliers to 1-3.
12) Cavaliers made their first ten shots in Portland, five of which were 3-pointers, then shot 28% the rest of the game; they need to find a dependable third scorer to supplement James/Kevin Love’s production.
11) Speaking of James, did the Miami Heat lower its ticket prices once he left? Its fairly obvious they won’t be as good; somehow I doubt they lowered prices, but hopefully they did.
10) FOX Sports 1 basketball analyst Bill Raftery filed for trademarks to his pet phrases "Onions" and "With a kiss" last week, protecting the use of the words as Raftery's during sports broadcasts and on clothes.
9) How did Sacramento let Isaiah Thomas get away? The lefty Washington alum is pretty good and is helping Phoenix bigtime so far. Not like the Kings have so many good guards that they couldn’t use the guy.
8) If you’re in Las Vegas December 17-20, the Jerry Tarkanian Classic will be played, a terrific high school basketball tournament with lot of really good players. I was there the last two years; its worth your time, if you’re in Vegas that week. Most of the games are at Bishop Gorman HS, I think.
7) Next big Cuban baseball star to come here will be 3B/OF Yasmany Tomas, who is said to be a stocky slugger being pursued by both the Phillies and Red Sox. Philly could use the money AJ Burnett just turned down to sign Tomas, who is 24 years old.
6) There are reports the Eagles were souring on Nick Foles even before he got hurt; Philly turned ball over 16 times in their last five games (-9) prompting rumors Eagle brass weren’t happy with him, all of which makes Mark Sanchez’ first Philly start Monday night a little more interesting.
5) Alfonso Soriano retired this week; he is one of six players in history with 400+ doubles, 400+ homers and 250+ steals in his career. Wasn’t much of a fielder, but was a very dangerous hitter.
4) Houston Texans pulled the plug on Ryan Fitzpatrick and will start Ryan Mallett at QB in Week 11; they have this week off. This was inevitable, with Mallett having been acquired from New England for a draft pick- they have to see what they have to see if they want to sign Mallett going forward.
3) Dodgers signed A’s assistant general manager Farhan Zaidi, a Berkeley-educated economist, as their next GM. Zaidi grew up in the Philippines, attended MIT as an undergraduate and, after getting his doctorate at Cal-Berkeley, decided to try to break into baseball after reading Moneyball. Hey, I've seen Moneyball the movie 25 times; can I get a job with the A's?
Not surprising, but it looks like the Dodgers’ new direction under Andrew Friedman will be heavily weighted towards analytics.
2) Timberwolves 98, Nets 91-- Minnesota led 17-2, then Nets went on a 34-14 run, but Wolves closed game on 18-5 run. Rubio had 14 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds as all five Minnesota starters scored in double figures.
1) I know they do it because they can charge more for those tickets, but it is weird how close some fans sit to the team benches in NBA arenas. At Lakers' home games in Staples Center, the opposing coach often stands right in front of Jack Nicholson. If a guy goes lunging out of bounds for a loose ball, he might knock over people's drinks who are sitting right there. You don't get that in other sports.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) This will remain fluid for the rest of the month, but if the college football tournament started today, the semi-finals would be:
-- Mississippi State vs Oregon
-- Florida State vs Auburn.
Alabama and TCU are the first two teams on the outside looking in.
12) Going to miss those political ads on TV—well, no I’m not. Whats the old joke? How do you know if a politician is lying? If his/her lips are moving.
11) Supposedly, Alex Rodriguez paid his cousin $1M to keep quiet about PED’s. Damn, I wish someone would pay me $1M to shut my mouth; I’d make Shields & Yarnell look like freakin’ auctioneers.
10) This is the month MAC football takes over ESPNU and ESPN2 on Tuesday, Wednesdays; I think Akron’s last four games are all on Tuesday nights.
I used to joke that teams would play at 4am if ESPN wanted them to, then the basketball tip-off marathon was born (Nov 18 this year) when there are actually games played at 6am and 8am local time in the east. It must help the schools involved or they wouldn’t do it.
9) European golfers Marcel Siem and Alexander Levy openly wagered 200 Euros (roughly $252) on each round of their tournament last week; not sure the powers-that-be were all that excited about openly gambling on a match during a tournament. Phil Mickelson is notorious for wagering on practice rounds, but that’s different.
8) Quick look at QB situations in the NFC East find Dallas/Philly starting different QBs this month because of injury. Washington started three different QB’s in their last three games then there are the Giants, where Eli Manning has started their last 158 games without a miss. The immobile Manning is struggling behind a shaky OL, but he plays every week and that’s important, to be a dependable player.
7) Phillies are rumored to be shopping 1B Ryan Howard, who can’t move, can’t hit lefties and makes $20M a year. Good luck there.
Only places I could conceive of him being useful would be Baltimore/Texas/Houston, AL teams with small home parks, but the Orioles are too smart for that. I guess Texas is a possibility. If the Astros traded for him it would be intriguing, since they’ve tried so hard to make Jonathan Singleton their 1B of the future.
6) If you live in Indianapolis, you might vote at Hinkle Fieldhouse, where Butler plays its basketball games and where the final basketball scenes in Hoosiers were shot. How cool would that be, voting where Jimmy Chitwood ran the picket fence.
5) Cleveland Indians gave Terry Francona a much-deserved contract extension thru 2018; I enjoyed listening to him on TV, but glad he is doing well running a ballclub. Still think the Red Sox screwed up getting rid of him, though they won a World Series with John Farrell, after the Bobby Valentine debacle.
4) Cleveland Browns are a surprising/uplifting 5-3, but QB Brian Hoyer’s contract is up after this year and the team has a lot of $$ tied up in Johnny Manziel. This has to be the owner’s call I would think, whether to re-sign Hoyer or plunge forward with Manziel. Am very curious to see what they do, because their players are watching too. You know damn well Hoyer has the other players’ trust. Cutting him loose would be very risky business.
3) Rockets 108, Heat 89-- Houston is off to a 5-0 start despite whiffing in their free agent dealings. Rockets made 17 of 36 behind the arc. Think the Thunder miss James Harden? He had 25 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists in this game.
Kostas Papanikolaou has done really well replacing Chandler Parsons as a shooter; Houston was +17 when he was on the court in this game, even when he was off.
2) I highly recommend getting the NBA League Pass, tremendous entertainment on nights where there is a full schedule of games.
1) Cubs are said to be going heavily after free agent catcher Russell Martin, who will use the lack of quality catchers to become really, really rich this winter. Hope the Cubs are saving lot of money to buy some pitchers- thats what wins.
Tuesday's List of 13: Happy Election Day, everyone.......
13) Field position is an under-reported part of football. NFL teams are 45-1 this season when they win average starting field position by 10+ yards; only team to lose was the Raiders in Week 6, when they had a 10-yard advantage but lost 31-28 in the last 2:00 at home to San Diego.
12) NFL’s rules on protecting QB’s are BS; guys like Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III run, slide at the last minute with defenders rushing at them, then whine to the refs for a flag before they’re even done sliding. Once you break the pocket, you should lose any protection as a runner, especially if you cross the line of scrimmage.
11) Last time the football Cardinals were 7-1 was 40 years ago; they played home games in St Louis and were coached by the great Don Coryell, who had fantastic offensive teams with the Redbirds and Chargers.
10) Its not often two rookie coaches meet who had been coordinators on the same staff. Redskins-Vikings Sunday was Gruden vs Zimmer, both of whom were coordinators for Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati. Who has the advantage, if anyone?
They both know a lot about the other, would be curious to know how that works. Long time ago, Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry were both coordinators for the Giants and became head coaches and later opposed each other in a couple of NFL title games. You wonder if either of them felt they had an edge.
Obviously the guy with better players has a leg up, I just mean in terms of one being able to anticipate what the other will do in certain situations.
9) Timing is Everything Department: Baltimore Ravens are 5-4 and in last place in AFC North. New Orleans Saints are 4-4 but are in first place in NFC South.
8) Steelers’ first four drives Sunday night totaled 18 plays for 29 yards, not very good. Their last nine drives totaled 47 plays for 394 yards and 43 points; all of a sudden Pittsburgh is a juggernaut and now they go play the 1-8 Jets this week. Oy.
7) Speaking of the Jets, they’re headed for a major overhaul in a couple months, which could be the best thing for them. In the meantime, they’ve lost eight games in a row, while old friend Mark Sanchez is now the starting QB for 6-2 Philly, at least for the next 6-8 weeks, maybe longer, depending on how Nick Foles’ collarbone heals.
First Eagle start for Sanchez is on Monday Night Football next week.
6) Rams had eight sacks of mobile Colin Kaepernick Sunday; they had a total of six sacks in their first seven games. Kapernick has now been sacked 14 times in his last two games; you see how unwilling Harbaugh was to run the ball in the last minute Sunday. He musn’t have much faith in his offensive line.
5) Wonder what it feels like after you’ve run a 26-mile marathon? Longest I ever ran at once was just under two miles in some stupid high school gym class; not my thing. Hell, if I drive 26 miles I’m looking for the nearest drive-thru window for a burger and a Cherry Coke. Running 26 miles just seems unhealthy.
4) Random movie/TV things: the actor who played Mr Bentley in The Jeffersons later on was Tom Cruise’s college professor in Cocktail.
Also, the guy who was Herman Munster in the old 60’s TV series wound up being the judge in My Cousin Vinny, 36 years later.
3) Why futures baseball bets are a horrible idea:
Cubs dropped from 400-1 to 200-1 to win the World Series after hiring Joe Maddon as manager. He doesn’t pitch and he didn’t bring any of his coaches from Tampa Bay. The guy the Cubs fired did a good job in his one year there and they cut the odds in half? Also, if Maddon is worth the Cubs getting their odds lowered, then how come Tampa Bay’s stayed at 500-1? Shouldn’t they have gone up to 750-1 or higher?
2) One thing that has made handicapping college basketball harder is teams are allowed two “secret” scrimmages, where they play what amounts to an exhibition game, but with no media and no reporting of results. Awesome. How does that help anything?
Anyway, for what its worth, someone on Twitter said Harvard nipped Providence this weekend. Harvard is favored to win its fifth straight Ivy League title this winter.
1) One thing I neglected to mention from Saturday: Maryland captains refused to shake hands with Penn State's captains before Saturday's game. Bush league; they got a 15-yard penalty for it. Before the game. How do coaches let this happen? Its not like its a great rivalry; it was their first meeting as conference rivals.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.........
13) Saints 28, Panthers 10-- New Orleans snapped long road losing skid by holding Carolina to 231 yards. 4-4 Saints are in first place in AFC South. Carolina is 1-5-1 in last seven games after its 2-0 start; they scored total of 36 points (3 TD’s on last 30 drives) in last three games.
12) Dolphins 37, Chargers 0-- Severe ugliness for San Diego, which heads into its bye on 3-game skid. San Diego's last win in south Florida was famous playoff game in 1981, when Kellen Winslow led his team to a win, then was helped off field- they lost last eight visits to Miami since then.
11) Bengals 33, Jaguars 23-- LSU rookie Hill came off bench, ran ball 24 times for 154 yards; now we know why Les Miles didn't toss him off the team when he got in trouible last fall-- he's really good. His 154 rushing yards were most by a Bengal in any one game in last five years.
10) Browns 22, Buccaneers 17-- Every team in AFC North is over .500. Cleveland is 5-3 halfway thru season- they have big Thursday night game with Cincinnati coming up this week. Rookie WR Evans caught seven balls for 124 yards, two TDs for Bucs; ironic because he was Johnny Manziel's #1 target at Texas A&M.
9) Vikings 29, Redskins 26-- Washington had ball, 10-0 lead with less than 2:00 left in half, threw a pick, Vikings scored, gained momentum-- this turned into fun game in second half. Think rookie QB Bridgewater learned during game from watching RGIII use his feet to pick up key first downs- he needs to use his mobility more.
Odd stat: Jay Gruden is 0-6 on replay challenges; the NFL average is 36%.
8) Eagles 31, Texans 21-- "Costly victory" is a cliche, but Philly lost QB Foles, LB Ryans for year with injuries; Mark Sanchez (15-22/202, 2 TD, 2 INT) is now Eagles' QB. Houston rookie Clowney sat out another game; NFL.com reported that Texans coaches are getting frustrated because Clowney has already missed seven games.
7) Chiefs 24, Jets 10-- Don't think the Jets get outcoached? In their last six games, Jet opponents, on their first drive of the game, have scored four TDs, two FGs, with 394 yards allowed on 46 plays (8.6 yards per play). Chiefs converted 8 of 13 on 3rd down, in only game this week with no turnovers by either side.
6) Cardinals 28, Cowboys 17-- Romo didn't play; only Cowboy TD before last 2:00 was scored by their defense. Arizona (7-1) has best record in NFL; they had four TDs in four trips to red zone. Dallas scored seven points in three red zone drives-- they've scored exactly 17 points in all three losses
5) Rams 13, 49ers 10-- Niners had 1st-and-goal from inside 3-yard line with 0:43 left but didn't score, as Kaepernick fumbled on QB sneak on last play of game. Rams had to make 18 personnel moves during week to replenish an injury-ravaged roster, this was a really good win for them.
4) Patriots 43, Broncos 21-- 110 passes were thrown in this game, most in history of NFL, for a non-OT game. Patriots converted 6-11 on third down, won field position by 14 yards. Brady is now 11-5 in games vs Manning; Patriots won last five games (4-1 vs spread); they covered 14 of last 18 when getting points, are 26-18 vs spread in last 44 home games.
3) Seahawks 30, Raiders 24-- Seattle led 24-3 at half, but blocked punt for TD got Oakland back in game. Raiders are winless, but none of their four losses in true road games were by more than 10 points. Odd note on Seattle: on their first drives in third quarter this season, Seattle offense has been outscored 7-3 by opponents' defense or special teams- they've gained only 148 yards om 43 plays on those drives.
2) Steelers 36, Ravens 23-- Roethlisberger is first QB in NFL history to throw 12 TD passes in two-game span. Of the 22 guys who started for Baltimore's Super Bowl champs two years ago, only eight of those players are still on the Ravens.
Steelers play their first road game in four weeks next week- they've got one home game between now and December 20th.
1) Other notes from this weekend:
-- Steelers' retired Joe Greene's #75, just second number they've retired.
-- 45-year old Dwayne Roloson was Anaheim's emergency backup goalie Sunday; they lost two other goalies to injuries this weekend.
-- Minnesota Twins offered Paul Molitor their managing job.
-- Six most popular picks in Westgate contest went 2-4, are 28-26 this season.
Sunday's List of 13: Summing up a sports Saturday.......
13) Auburn 35, Ole Miss 31-- Rebels fumbled twice inside Auburn 10-yard line in last 7:00. Rebels' star WR Treadwell broke his ankle on 1-yard line with 1:30 left, fumbling as he fell to ground in pain, on a play that appeared like it was going to be a sure TD. Auburn overcame 13 penalties for 145 yards with excellent balance- they ran ball for 248 yards, threw it for 254.
12) TCU 31, West Virginia 30-- Horned Frogs kicked 37-yard FG at gun as they came back from being down 27-14 with 18:00 left; not best day for QB Boykin (12 of 30 passing), but he drove TCU 56 yards for winning points when it mattered most. Mountaineers turned ball over five .
11) Mississippi State 17, Arkansas 10-- #1 Bulldogs trailed Razorbacks at half; this is an Arkansas team that hasn't won an SEC game in two years. Total yardage was 459-401 State; I keep saying they're not the best team, and they keep winning.
10) Wyoming 45, Fresno State 17-- Brian Hill ran ball 23 times for 283 yards and caught three passes for 106 more, scoring two TDs as Cowboys improved to 4-5.
9) Bulls 106, Timberwolves 105-- Chicago got first interconference win (1-6) for an eastern team, despite oft-injured Derrick Rose sitting out again. Since start of 2012-13 season, Rose has played in 12 of a possible 165 games. He makes $17M a year.
8) Florida 38, Georgia 20-- Gators ran ball down Georgia's throat for 418 yards, with game turning on fake FG/TD that tied game 7-7. Dawgs went in tank from that point on. Florida only threw ball six times the whole game.
7) USC 44, Washington State 17-- Wazzu QB Halliday, who threw for 734 yards in a game October 4, saw his college career end with a broken leg. Coogs are 2-7 and not showing progress expected under Mike Leach. USC is 6-3; their first score came on a 65-yard punt return.
6) Tennessee 45, South Carolina 42 OT-- Vols have their QB or future in young Joshua Dobbs, who threw for 301 yards, ran for another 166, rallying Tennessee back from 42-28 deficit with 2:00 left. Not a good nite for Steve Spurrier, whose postgame press conference lasted 54 seconds.
5) UTEP 35, Southern Miss 14-- Game was 7-0 at half, then got weird; Miners had second half TDs on a kick returm, INT return and fumble return. Southern Miss also had a defensive TD in second half. Eagles outgained UTEP 402-234; neither team completed half its passes. Miners are improved at 5-3.
4) Arizona State 19, Utah 16 OT-- Utes' Andy Phillips is an inexperienced kicker, but a very good one; he missed an easy FG in OT, then ASU made theirs and moved to 7-1, outgaining Utah 444-241.
3) Ryan Moore won the PGA tournament in Malaysia, getting help when Kevin Na lost a ball in a tree on the 17th hole- Moore won this event last year, too.
2) Arkansas State 44, Idaho 28-- Vandals (+15) suffer bad beat, turning ball over eight times (-7), including a fumble that was run back 93 yards for a TD. Idaho led in third quarter, but ASU scored last 20 points of the game.
1) Turns out Tony Romo has two small fractures in his back; they actually put him back in the game Monday night with a broken back. Roger Goodell puts in these rules to deflect the possibility of lawsuits down the road; how is a player allowed to play with broken bones in his back? Who thinks this is a good idea?
Saturday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here.....
13) Kevin Durant has a walking boot on his injured foot, Russell Westbrook broke his right hand Thursday night and the Oklahoma City Thunder are 0-2, with not much relief in sight before Thanksgiving. Like we said, its going to take 50 wins to make the playoffs in the west; Thunder aren’t putting a 50-win team on the floor anytime soon.
12) In 2008, NFL teams averaged 211.3 passing yards per game; so far this year, 241.7. That’s a 14.4% increase in six years.
11) ESPN the Magazine had some interesting stuff this month; from 2001-03, NFL tight ends were responsible for 15.8% of a team’s passing yardage. From 2012-now, that number has risen to 22.6%. Spread offenses are said to the reason why.
10) CBS is remaking the Odd Couple again next TV season, with Matthew Perry as Oscar Madison. This will make me sound old(er) but no one could top Jack Klugman as Oscar.
The next few notes are related to college basketball and again, they come from my reading of this week’s ESPN the Magazine…….
9) ESPN’s Jay Bilas says if Kentucky divided its team into two 6-man units, both units would be ranked in the top 25, that show much talent they have. Calipari’s team actually has too much talent; no way he can keep all those guys happy.
8) Wisconsin returns 82% of its minutes from last year; their defense slipped last year, curious to see if what is basically the same team will play better defense this season.
7) Duke’s 2-point FG% defense was 49.1% LY, which ranked 13th……in the 14-team ACC. Freshman C Jahlil Okafor is supposed to be really good, so we’ll see if Duke is better defensively this year.
6) Villanova was 8-1 LY in games decided by 5 or less points, or in OT; the other seven #1/#2 seeds in NCAA’s were a combined 43-22 (66.2%) in close games like those, which infers Villanova may have had luck on its side LY. Wildcats have a veteran team, should win Big East this year.
5) Gonzaga has a freshman named Domantas Sabonis, whose dad Arvydas was the best basketball very few people saw play, at least until he tore his Achilles tendon. The elder Sabonis played for Portland late in his career, after the injury, but was in Russia at the peak of his career, before the Internet. His son is supposed to be very good and should help the Zags win the WCC again.
4) VCU was a bully team in the A-14 last year; they forced turnovers on 23.6% of possessions, rebounded 35.5% of their missed shots, so they were just a lot more athletic than most opponents. But if you didn’t turn the ball over forced them to set up in the half court, they made only 44.6% of their 2-point shots, 9th in a 14-team league. If you held your own on the boards, then they struggled to score.
3) SMU made 37.9% of its 3-pointers last year, which is very good, but they ranked 339th out of 351 D-I teams when it came to %age of shots that were 3’s.
Larry Brown is old-fashioned and doesn’t like the trey, despite playing/coaching in the ABA. We’ll see if Coach Brown, a media darling for sure, gets his team in the NCAAs after they were a disappointment in missing it LY.
2) Syracuse scored 63 or less points in 11 of its last 13 games LY and lost 59% of its minutes played from LY. Boeheim always has players, but his players this year are very young and could struggle some in an improved ACC. Don’t forget, Louisville is in the ACC now.
1) Say what you want about Jameis Winston, but he is 21-0 as a starting QB in college and he’s stared down a few double digit deficits.
His career going forward is going to be fascinating to study, as he heads to the fishbowl that is playing QB in the NFL.
Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind......
13) As an A’s fan, I’m well-versed in losing good players to rich teams in free agency, but for the Rays to lose their manager……to the Cubs, well that has to sting a little extra. Money talks and Joe Maddon is cool for admitting it; plus if someone ever wins a title with the Cubs he becomes a God, so there is no downside there.
Remember that Maddon was close with the late Don Zimmer, who managed the Cubs from 1988-91 and made the playoffs with Chicago in ’89.
12) Read this week that 55% of gas stations in this country are selling gas for less than $3.00 a gallon; here in upstate NY, it is in the $3.30’s.
11) Florida State was down 21-0 at Louisville, 24-7 in third quarter, but Seminoles rallied as usual and won going away 42-31. Cardinals were 1-11 on third down. Needs to be said that Jameis Winston is now 21-0 as a starting QB at Florida State.
10) Tremendous exhibtion by Madison Bumgarner in World Series; my next question is this: Does his workload this season (270 IP) affect how Giants bring him along next spring? He is a valuable commodity, will be interesting to follow.
9) Rough debut for Lebron and Cavaliers, who lost to the Knicks; James was 5-15 from floor; Cleveland was actually +8 when Lebron was off the floor. NBA season is a long one; probably better to play Cleveland early on, before they get accustomed to playing with each other.
8) Dwight Howard made less than 55% of his foul shots the last three years; he hasn’t shot over 60% from the line since his rookie year. The guy makes $21M+ this season, how can he much such a hideous shooter? Doesn’t he practice? Least he could do would be to try shooting underhanded, like Wilt Chamberlain did. Rockets got KO’s from playoffs by one point last year; that’s one missed foul shot.
7) Remember Coach Reeves from the White Shadow, the great TV show in the late 70’s? Actor Ken Howard played Coach Reeves; saw him other day on an episode of Blue Bloods, playing a retired hockey player with dementia. Hard to believe its been over 30 years since White Shadow was on the air. Great show.
6) Found a link between White Shadow and Major League; remember Pedro Cerrano, the slugging first baseman who couldn’t hit a curveball?
Actor Dennis Haysbert played Cerrano; he also appeared in one 1979 episode of White Shadow as an opposing player. Haysbert was also the President in 24 and is the guy who does a lot of insurance commercials, can’t remember which company.
5) If DirecTV had a channel on NFL Sundays where DBs/WRs were miked and it was uncensored, I’d pay to listen to it. “Trash Talk Channel” would be a big success, but it would also incite and encourage more jawing which would be bad. Would be interesting to hear what gets said down on the field, though.
4) Explanation, please? Only 12 NBA players started all 82 games last year; four of the 12 played for Portland. This for a team that had Sam Bowie and Brandon Roy, two of the most injury-prone stars in NBA history.
3) Will college football teams run up scores to impress the selection committee? Would the committee be gullible enough to fall for such shenanigans? When you’re handicapping games, have to be wary of going against these contending teams, who might not be above adding on another score or two to impress people.
2) Horse named Free as a Bird was scratched from the Breeders Cup because the horse didn’t want to fly. Horse is stabled in Kentucky;it freaked out when they started the engines on the plane and he had to be taken off the plane. Expensive day for the owners.
1) Lakers lost their first two games by 18-20 points; when announcers are saying LA is anxiously awaiting the return of Nick Young to bolster the lineup, well you know things are bad-- Swaggy P isn’t that much of a difference maker.
Thursday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.......
13) Saints lost their last seven road games and were favored in most of them; after this game, a 4-4 team will be in first place at halfway point in the NFC South. Three of NO’s four road losses were by three or less points.
12) Florida State has a dicey road game at Louisville; Seminoles are only favored by 3.5 points, which seems very low. Bobby Petrino is a good coach; not sure his team is ready to pull this upset.
11) Chargers lost their last two games after a 5-1 start, now visit south Florida, where they haven’t won since the Kellen Winslow/OT playoff game in 1981- they’re 0-7 at Miami since then, losing a tight one LY.
10) Stanford beat Oregon the last two years, holding Ducks to total of 34 points; they’ll be hard-pressed to make it three in a row.
9) 7 of 13 NFL games this weekend have a spread of 3 or less points; there are four home underdogs this week. Over is 19-6 in primetime games this season.
8) Pitt-Duke played a 55-52 thriller LY, in their first meeting as ACC rivals; this year’s game won’t be like that one, but should be a good game.
7) Lot of new faces in new places as the NBA season kicks off; how long will it take the Cavaliers to become a cohesive unit? It took the Heat a month or so when Lebron James first went there.
6) Brett Bielema still hasn’t won an SEC game at Arkansas, but he’s pretty good at beating up Sun Belt teams like he did last week; his Razorbacks visit Starkville and the #1 Mississippi State Bulldogs, whose QB Prescott wore a walking boot for at least part of this week.
5) Will Tony Romo play? Would Dallas be better off if he didn’t play for a week or two? Arizona is 6-1 despite using three different QB’s, with only loss at Denver. Cardinals won their last three games with Dallas.
4) West Virginia beat Baylor at home two weeks ago, now the TCU Horned Frogs come east to Morgantown; Horned Frogs scored so many points last week, the school ran out of fireworks that they shoot off after every TCU score. Total in this game (74) is the week’s highest as I type this.
3) Steelers are retiring Mean Joe Greene’s number Sunday night; what took them so long? Ravens are 0-2 against the Bengals, 5-1 against everyone else- they’ve won five of last seven games against the Steelers.
2) Auburn-Ole Miss is the best SEC game this week; can the Rebels bounce back after getting beat at LSU last week? Will teams try to run scores up to impress the Selection Committee? Will the committee care about such things?
1) Broncos won, covered all four games since their bye, but they’ve lost last four visits to Foxboro, after blowing a big lead there LY. You know its a big game when they say Aaron Hernandez will be allowed to watch it on TV in prison.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) College Football Playoff selection committee announced its first-ever top 25 rankings on Tuesday with Miss State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss the four teams. This will play itself out, but the initial reaction is that strength of schedule is going to be stressed and thats going to make future Septembers more fun to watch, as teams will be forced to upgrade their non-league schedules.
12) Baylor is 13th in the rankings; upgrade your schedule. Bears were favored by 34+ points in their first three games this season.
11) Redskin-Cowboy game was highest-rated Monday night game in four years.
10) That said, did ESPN even show Redskin owner Daniel Snyder once? Jerry Jones had an in-game interview, had to be on camera 25 times, but no sign of Snyder that I can remember-- they were more interested in showing Colt McCoy's dad.
9) ESPN did show Tony Wyllie, the Redskins' PR guy, pulling McCoy away from an ESPN Desportes reporter, grabbing him by the jersey. Apparently the TV business is also a contact sport-- there is a protocol to when/where players do interviews and Tony Wyllie takes that protocol seriously. Don't mess with him.
8) Jackass update: Bears' DE Lamarr Houston tore his ACL while celebrating a sack of the Patriots' backup QB when New England was winning by 25 points. He is the second NFL player to do that this season. It is not smart.
7) Dodgers, Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks all have new general managers, which means the Giants are only NL West team that hasn't changed GMs this year.
6) San Diego hired scouting director Logan White away from the Dodgers-- he has a very good reputation as a talent evaluator. San Diego seems to be doing smart things as far as beefing up their scouting department-- its the best way for smaller market teams to become competitive, and then stay that way.
5) Hawai'i fired basketball coach Gib Arnold Tuesday, not the best thing to do on October 28, but an indication the NCAA may come calling soon. An assistant coach also got the boot. Have a nice season, fellas.
4) We all have worked for bosses we don't like much; imagine how hard it must be for an NFL QB, if he doesn't get along with his head coach or offensive coordinator?
3) San Antonio 101, Dallas 100-- Tremendous game. Seriously. Someday, when the NBA cuts back to 64 or 68-game schedule, you'll see a lot more games like this, when both sides have fresh legs more often.
2) Marv Albert is 73 years old and still going strong calling NBA games. When FOX resorts to showing Erin Andrews interviewing a couple who just had a baby during a World Series game, they're telling me to put the Spurs game on. In the 4th inning.
1) Grant Hill is now teamed with Albert and Greg Anthony on TNT; does every Duke alum have to be on television? When does Greg Koubek get his TV gig?
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) Selfishly, I’m hoping Joe Maddon doesn’t manage next season and works on ESPN baseball telecasts; you never know for sure, but I’m guessing Maddon would be television gold.
12) Sports books in Las Vegas opened at 6am Sunday to accommodate people who might want to bet on the ridiculously early Lion-Falcon game from London. I love watching football, but it doesn’t need to be on 24 hours a day. People need time to sleep.
11) Odd fact: both punters in the Ole Miss-LSU game Saturday night are from Australia. I’m pretty sure LSU’s last three punters were all from Down Under.
10) Kentucky QB Patrick Towles is the grandson of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning; Gary Danielson was adamant Saturday when he said he thinks Towles will be a good NFL QB.
9) NFC South standings: :
Carolina 3-4-1, Saints 3-4, Falcons 2-6, Bucs 2-6. Not much to endorse there.
8) Ben Roethlisberger threw for 522 yards Sunday, so whenever we see highlights of that game in years to come, we’ll see the God-awful Steeler throwback uniforms, which look like prison garb. Does anyone buy those?
7) Because it is never too early to gamble, here are odds to win '15 World Series:
6) TCU scored 82 points Saturday, causing the school to run thru its entire stash of fireworks that they were supposed to use the rest of this season whenever the Frogs score a touchdown.
5) Somehow Notre Dame has suckered NBC into throwing money at them to televise their home football games; even more bizarre was BYU’s decision to also be an independent in football, so they wouldn’t have to share any BCS-football money that they earned.
One small problem; BYU ain’t Notre Dame. Their QB got hurt last month, now they lose every week- they’ll be lucky to get to any bowl. BYU should’ve stayed in the Mountain West.
4) Detroit Lions got back from their London trip at 1:15 Monday morning; they’re on the post-London bye now, but some of those coaches probably went right in the office and started watching film of their next opponent.
3) Packer-Saint game Sunday night got better TV ratings than Game 5 of World Series; MLB continues to pay for shoving Red Sox-Bronx down our throats during the regular season. Other teams make the World Series, less people care, since they don't know those teams, having never seen them during the season
2) Jerry Jones finished his live interview on Monday Night Football just before Tony Romo got hurt and left the game; would've been some interesting live TV had Jones still been miked when Romo got hurt.
1) If you bet the Super Bowl blindly today, line is AFC -3 over the NFC.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.....
13) Lions 22, Falcons 21-- Long trip home for Atlanta, which led 21-0 al halftime. Word is NFL will have five of these London games next year; not fond of starting a game at 9:30am ET. Second week in row Lions won after being in hopeless situation, good for them. NFC South teams are putrid.
12) Vikings 19, Bucs 13 OT-- Minnesota tied game with FG at gun, then scored a defensive TD on first play of OT to snap 3-game losing streak and go home happy. Four of six Buc losses are by six or less points, with two of last three in OT- they scored 17 or less points in five of seven games. .
11) Patriots 51, Bears 23-- Brady was 30-35/354 with five TD passes; this game was 38-7 at the half. Going to be long bye week for the Bears, who visit Lambeau in first game after their bye- they've lost four of their last five games. Patriots are now 22-15 vs spread in last 37 games as a non-divisional home favorite.
10) Chiefs 34, Rams 7-- Rams' putrid lack of production from WRs is summed up by this stat; they're last in NFL, getting only 8 first downs vis penalty- DBs do not respect them enough to grab/hold/interfere with them. St Louis special teams won game last week; they were not good in this one, missing a chip shot FG when it was 7-7, giving up a 99-yard kick return when it was 10-7.
9) Seahawks 13, Panthers 9-- Seattle has come to Charlotte and won three years in row, by similar scores: 16-12/12-7/13-9. Rumors persist there are problems between QB Wilson and other Seahawks. Carolina is 1-4-1 after its 2-0 start.
8) Bills 43, Jets 23-- Jets were -6 in turnovers, lost for 7th game in row after being first 1-6 team EVER to be favored a team with a winning record. Bills threw for 217 yards despite throwing only 17 passes- they won field position by 30 yards.
7) Dolphins 27, Jaguars 13-- Jax rookie QB Bortles had three turnovers, giving him six in the past two weeks and 13 in six games. Four of those have been interceptions returned for touchdowns, two by Miami here. Dolphins are unspectacular but 4-3 and thats a hell of a lot better than last year's debacle.
6) Texans 30, Titans 16-- Tennessee RB Greene was arrested Friday after parking his BMW in a handicapped spot, then almost hitting a traffic cop as he left the scene. Distractions like this are almost always a red flag. go-against sign, especially for a team starting a QB for first time in NFL. No news is good news.
5) Bengals 27, Ravens 24-- Terrific game that turned many times, last of which was when refs called offensive interference on Steve Smith with 0:32 left, negating what would've been an 80-yard TD pass. Cincinnati sweeps the season series and now has tie-breakers over Baltimore.
4) Cardinals 24, Eagles 20-- Thing I like about Bruce Arians is that he blitzes the other QB when he is protecting a lead late in the game. Arizona had TD passes of 80-75 yards, Eagles had only a FG to show for three red zone drives, and also threw an INT in the end zone from the 25. Hard to win that way.
3) Steelers 51, Colts 34-- Big Ben is now 100-50 as an NFL starter after throwing for 522 yards as Pitt dismantled a Colt team that had won five in a row. Back when he was a HS junior, Ben sat behind the coach's son, who wound up playing WR at a Division III college. Coach must be a helluva guy.
2) Browns 23, Raiders 13-- Good sign for Cleveland fans, winning easily against an inferior opponent. Raiders have now lost 13 straight dating to last season. Oakland has dropped 16 games in a row played in Eastern time zone -- a streak that started in 2009. Browns are now 4-3, matching their win total of last season.
1) Saints 44, Packers 23-- Green Bay is 0-3 on artificial turf, Saints are 3-0 at home. Luck of the schedule whether you play New Orleans at home or in the Superdome. Rodgers dinged his hanstring in this game, but Pack has next week off, so he can get better before they play the Bears on Sunday night, November 9.
Sunday's List of 13: Summing up a sports Saturday.......
13) Mississippi State 45, Kentucky 31-- #1-ranked Bulldogs got good challenge at improved Kentucky, which passed for 401 yards, but couldn't handle State's running game. Bulldogs ran for 324 yards, ran a squib kick back for clinching TD with 2:22 to play. No way is Mississippi State the best team in the country.
12) TCU 82, Texas Tech 27-- Tech beat the Horned Frogs the last two years; this is a league game, and TCU scored 82 points!!!! Frogs had 785 yards of offense. Here's a hint for Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury-- recruit defensive players. A lot of them.
11) Arizona State 24, Washington 10-- Game was 10-10 with 4:00 left, but ASU scored twice in last 3:00 to get on the plane happy- they're 4-0 on road. QB Kelly got knocked silly when he threw GW TD pass; Sun Devils got clinching pick-6 with 0:53 left- they host Utah, Notre Dame the next two Saturdays. .
10) Georgia Tech 56, Pitt 28-- Panthers lost five fumbles on their first 13 plays and trailed 28-0 5:16 into the game. No bueno, especially against a team that is content to run the ball for three hours. Tech ran the ball for 465 yards.
9) Michigan State 35, Michigan 11-- Another dismal day for Brady Hoke, whose players planted a stake on Spartan Stadium turf after running onto the field before the game. Michigan State players and their coaches noticed, so when Spartans scored a meaningless TD in game's last minute, that was why.
In case you wondering, the 17-point spread Michigan got in this game was the third-biggest Wolverines had ever gotten in a game-- ever. Michigan got 20+ points in a couple of games in 2008, against Penn State and Ohio State.
8) Nebraska 42, Rutgers 24-- This is my weekly plea for geographic sanity; why are these teams in the same league? Rutgers is in New Jersey, which is, according to Mapquest, 1,297 miles from Lincoln. Apparently TV money drives all this, but it baffles me how taking so many long road trips helps Rutgers win.
7) Giants 11, Royals 4-- KC led 4-2 in middle of 5th inning, but their bullpen got roughed up and World Series is now 2-2. Since 1982, when WS is tied 2-2, team that wins Game 5 has only won series four of 11 times.
6) Marshall 35, FAU 16-- Unbeaten Thundering Herd were down 16-14 at the half in this game, but held Owls scoreless in second half. There was a female official in this game; Maia Chaka, who Mike Pereira thinks will be in the NFL fairly soon.
Pereira is really, really good on TV; he works a lot of games in the studio and gives clear rules explanations for his opinions and he is usually right.
5) Utah 24, USC 21-- Trojans fell to 5-3 when Utah scored with 0:08 left to win; five of USC's eight games were decided by 6 or less points.
Unrelated weather note: It is 2am as I type this-- we just had a thunderstorm here in upstate NY, complete with a brief hailstorm. Weird for this time of year.
4) Kansas State 23, Texas 0-- Why did Texas fire Mack Brown? Longhorns hadn't been shut out since Oklahoma beat them 12-0 in 2004- they look terrible now.
3) UCLA 40, Colorado 37 OT-- Mark my words: two years from now, Colorado is going to be really good. Coach MacIntyre is building a solid program, it just takes lot of time to build a solid football program, unlike basketball.
2) Ohio State 31, Penn State 24 OT--Buckeyes were up 17-0 at half, but threw a pick-6 early in third quarter and wound up surviving in OT, in a game where neither side gained 300 yards. Penn State has now lost its last three games, scoring total of 36 points, not counting the OTs in this one.
1) LSU 10, Ole Miss 7-- This was a fierce throwback-type game where Tigers ran ball for 264 yards, but kept shooting itself in the foot, with a missed FG and couple fumbles in Ole Miss territory. LSU finally drove ball 95 yards on 13 plays to win on a TD with 5:07 left, then survived the Rebels' final drive.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Miles, whose mom Martha passed away Friday night, at age 92.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Sad day to be a Rays’ fan; manager Joe Maddon has bolted St Pete. He had an opt-out clause written into his last contract in the event GM Andrew Friedman left the team, which happened earlier this month. I’m guessing Tampa Bay will hire Dave Martinez, Maddon’s bench coach, but it is a sad day to root for the Rays.
Maddon had a .517 winning percentage in nine years with the Rays; in eight years before he got there, their winning percentage was .401.
12) Baseball sold its soul to FOX and is now paying for it; my friend lives an hour north of Pittsburgh. He told me the other day that he wouldn’t have been able to watch Pirate playoff games had they advanced to the NLDS, because his cable system doesn’t carry FOX Sports1.
How in God’s name does MLB allow freakin’ playoff games to be on stations that everyone doesn’t have? Do they want people to see their (excellent) postseason product? FOX uses the playoffs to try and get cable systems to carry this new channel. It makes no sense for baseball to be in this situation, but what do I know?
11) Broncos are up 35-21 with 2:00 left Thursday and they have the ball. San Diego is out of timeouts- Denver can’t possibly lose unless they throw the game.
The PA system is playing music, the fans are celebrating and Peyton Manning is going nuts after they got a 5-yard penalty because linemen couldn’t hear with all the noise. Seriously, he called out the scoreboard operator after the game;
Manning must be a lot of fun to be around, as long as he gets to run everything. Fans pay a king’s ransom to watch the games; they’re entitled to celebrate when the team wins. Too much noise? Deal with it.
10) Steve Nash’s great basketball career is over; he’ll make $9.7M this season for doing nothing, since he is hurt and was retiring after the season anyway. Saw the Lakers twice this preseason; if they make the playoffs, it will be a small miracle- they’re not very good.
9) If what you read about the Seahawks having dissension is true, then those long plane trips they take to road games must be a lot of fun. Because of living up in the Pacific Northwest, Seahawks usually fly the most miles of any NFL team; St Louis last week, Carolina this week, for example. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
8) Speaking of the Seahawks, still want to hear the whole story on Russell Wilson leaving NC State for Wisconsin after three years/36 starts. That just never happens in the college game; who willingly lets the star QB walk? There has to be a juicy story there somewhere.
7) All three of Indiana Hoosiers’ assistant coaches are former D-I head coaches, which is a lot more unusual than you would think. Most teams have at least one younger, up-and-coming coach; I can’t remember another team where all the assistants had been head coaches in D-I.
6) Speaking of Indiana, Hoosier alum/Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo broke bones in his face this week during practice this week and will be out for a while. Tough blow for the Magic, who may turn to rookie Elfrid Payton to run their offense at the start of the season.
5) Stat that I knew but to see it on paper was impressive: Michigan State has made the Sweet 16, the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, 12 of the last 17 years. That’s damn good.
4) Illinois basketball players have a good deal coming up; Nov 27-28 they play two games in Las Vegas, then four days later they have a game in Miami. Lot of pool time for them that week, though pools in Vegas might be closed by then. I’m sure they’ll find something to do.
3) You get the feeling that by the time this disciplinary hearing for Jameis Winston at Florida State takes place, the kid will be packing up his stuff to head to the NFL Combine. Lawyers are very skilled at delay tactics.
2) I’m pretty sure that last night was the last Friday night until June without meaningful basketball—that’s a good thing.
1) Was another Dumb and Dumber movie necessary? Seriously; couldn’t they have just re-shown the first one in theaters and everyone who would go pay $11 to go see it would’ve still been happy?
Friday's List of 13: What we're looking for this weekend.......
13) Back in May, who thought Eagles-Cardinals would be battle of 5-1 teams? Nick Foles comes back to Arizona as a much better player than he was for the Arizona Wildcats in college. This is Sunday’s best game.
12) LSU is a home underdog for the 5th time (2-2 in first four) in 9+ years under Les Miles; Ole Miss covered its last nine visits to Baton Rouge, but most of those were as pretty substantial underdogs.
11) Steelers scored 24 points in 2:54 Monday night against a Houston team that imploded. Indy has won five games in row and will not implode, but they’re 2-11 in last 13 games vs Pittsburgh, though this will be Luck’s first visit to Heinz Field.
10) West Virginia knocked Baylor from ranks of unbeaten last week, but now have a long road trip to Oklahoma State, which got bamboozled at TCU. OSU’s starting QB is out for the year; they’re 4-0 at home, but against all stiffs. WVU won both its true road games by three points each.
9) Oakland fired Dennis Allen when the Raiders got home from London; if the Falcons lose to Detroit across the pond, will Mike Smith get the Ziggy too? Atlanta has been playing terrible defense.
8) Mississippi State is #1 in the country, which just looks strange; they’ve got a trap game in Lexington, as a double digit favorite in Lexington, against improved Kentucky. Lot more media distractions when you’re ranked #1. Bulldogs haven’t been on road in over a month, either.
7) World Series shifts to San Francisco, where Ned Yost gets to test his magical managerial run while playing under National League rules. Yost used to manage in Milwaukee, so he’s done it before, but Billy Butler has to sit now, with no DH for three games.
6) USC has a tricky road game at Utah, which is having a hard time picking a starting QB- Utes are back to Wilson this week. Utah’s last three games were all decided by 6 or less points. Trojans allowed 26+ points in each of their last three games.
5) Rookie Zach Mettenberger gets his first start at QB for offensively-challenged Tennessee, with Houston in town after falling apart Monday night. Texans have to be really disappointed to be 3-4; they’re close to having a much better record.
4) Lane Kiffin’s going to be in Knoxville this weekend, which should have the locals out in full force. Young Vols are a 17-point home dog to Alabama, which looked really good at home last week after struggling to win 14-13 at Arkansas.
3) Ravens rallied from a 15-0 deficit to take a 16-15 at home against the Bengals in Week 1, before Cincy won it on a long pass with 5:00 left; now teams meet again in the Queen City, with Bengals on an 0-2-1 downer after their 3-0 start. Ravens are quietly 5-2; do you think they will re-sign Ray Rice if he gets reinstated?
2) South Carolina is getting 18 points at Auburn? Have to look up the last time Spurrier got 18 points in a game, has to be a decent amount of years, but his defense is sub-par this year and that’s bad news against a Malzahn team.
1) I think the Saints are going to break out and beat Green Bay Sunday night; nothing I’ve seen on TV this year endorses that opinion, just a feeling I have.
Think the Jets will beat Buffalo too, but you cannot give points with a team that’s lost its last six games.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) I think Joe Buck is really good calling baseball games (it is obvious he likes it a lot more than football), but why can't FOX come up with a good analyst to sit next to him? Harold Reynolds says some nonsensical things ("I like having a lefthanded first baseman because it looks really cool"); he seems like a good guy, but bottom line he is mute button material.
My suggestion would be former big league pitcher Jim Kaat, who does games on MLB Network. He talks about the game and he makes sense.
12) The wife of Royals’ pitcher Wade Davis left a waiter a pretty neat tip Monday; a ticket to Game 1 of the World Series. She must’ve gotten good service.
11) Lions-Falcons game from London this week is on at 9:30 am in eastern US, 6:30 in Las Vegas, as they try to play earlier in the day in London.
When the hell am I supposed to sleep? College games won’t end until 2am Saturday night; guess I’m sleeping the seven hours in between there. Too bad it wasn’t next weekend, when the clocks go back and we get an extra hour of sleep.
10) Young man from Albany area, Kevin Huerter, whose dad played for Siena, is getting looks from George Mason, Brown, Quinnipiac and surprisingly Creighton, a Big East team. Kid is 6-4 and can shoot it, which makes him marketable; will be an interesting young man to follow-- he's very thin, but is only a junior in high school.
9) CBS has to show every SEC football team at least once every six years and Kentucky’s type is almost up, so they’re showing the Miss State-Kentucky game Saturday at 3:30.
8) Vanderbilt is starting its fourth QB of the season this week and baseball hasn’t even ended yet. James Franklin has to be laughing his butt off up in Happy Valley- he overachieved at Vandy and got out of Nashville just in time.
7) One of the reasons Steve Kerr decided to coach the Warriors instead of the Knicks is that his daughter plays volleyball at Cal, which is close to the Bay Area.
6) Florida will start the more mobile but younger Treon Harris when they play Georgia in the annual rivalry game in Jacksonville; the Gators looked terrible last week and appear headed for a coaching change.
5) Jack Nicklaus on Jameis Winston:
"I just hate to see them hammering a 20-year-old kid. Has he made mistakes? Maybe. But you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, I think. Not charged and convicted and sentenced. I wonder how many autographs I have out there. Every game I go to I sign, probably 20 or 25 (people) and four or five each. Start adding that up. And he's a lot more available than I am. He's not the only kid with a couple thousand out there. A bunch of those kids have to have a couple thousand."
Nicklaus’ grandson is Nick O’Leary, the FSU tight end.
4) By my count, 31 of 49 college football games this weekend have a double digit point spread, with a couple more spreads being 9.5, so at first glance, its not the most appealing Saturday coming up.
3) Surprising baseball stat: Bartolo Colon had a higher strikeout %age this year than Justin Verlander.
2) NBA moved its logo, featuring the silhouetted image of Jerry West, from upper-left chest on uniforms, where it's been since 1986, to the back of the jersey. This is supposed to be a forerunner of advertising coming to the front of the uniforms in the near future.
1) Toronto Maple Leafs were on lockdown in their Ottawa hotel Wednesday morning, because of the shootings near the Parliament building; their game with the Senators was postponed. Our thoughts, prayers go out to the family of the police officer who was murdered. Some things just make no sense.
Wednesday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in the NFL.......
32) Raiders-- Lot of pressure on Cleveland to beat the Raiders this weekend, after they lost in Jacksonville last week. Raiders have to be happy with rookie QB Carr, but they're only NFL team that hasn't scored 100 points.
31) Jaguars-- No coincidence that bottom two teams are both playing rookie QBs, but those guys haven't been the problem. Fans can't be real thrilled that their "home" game with Dallas is being played in freakin' London.
30) Titans-- Very hard to win without a good QB and Tennessee doesn't have one; still haven't recovered from drafting Vince Young. 27th in NFL in yards/game, tied for 28th in points/game.
29) Jets-- You watched them against Patriots last week and wondered how the hell they were 1-6; then they gave up a draft pick for Percy Harvin, who the Super Bowl champs couldn't wait to get rid of, and you realize they're a dysfunctional team.
28) Buccaneers-- Really thought they'd be pretty good this year, but they're 21st in NFL in takeaways, which has always been a strength of Lovie Smith teams. Funny thing is, at 1-5, they're only two games out of first place in dreadful NFC South.
8) Cardinals-- Funny how other teams' screw-ups can help you; Steelers stupidly got rid of Bruce Arians as OC, he went to Indy, was interim coach for a year and is now in line to be Coach of the Year in the desert. Arizona fired Whisenhunt, who is a good coach, but they were smart to hire Arians.
7) Ravens-- Quietest 5-2 team in league, have allowed least points in NFL. Will try to avenge Week 1 loss to Bengals this week, when they trailed 15-0, rallied to take lead but lost on 77-yard bomb to Green with 4:58 left. Their owner seems like a good guy; he handled the Ray Rice debacle as well as he could have.
6) Patriots-- This has nothing to do with New England, but Carolina is in first place in NFC South and they've allowed 37 more points than they've scored. In another non-Patriot note, Harold Reynolds isn't good on FOX; can't they put Ron Darling or Jim Kaat or John Smoltz on, someone who can make sense?
5) Packers-- Won last four games, scoring 36.3 ppg. If you think college recruiting is an exact science, remember that Aaron Rodgers played junior college ball before he went to California. Only team that offered Ryan Fitzpatrick a scholarship was I-AA Eastern Washington, who play on a red artificial turf field.
4) Chargers-- Raiders, Rams, Bolts all rumored to be interested in moving to LA, where fair-weather fans only support winning teams. All three teams have already called LA home once and left-- why would they go back? Rams' owner Kroenke is from Missouri, is named after Enos Slaughter, the old Cardinal baseball player; would be very surprised if he pulled Rams out of St Louis.
3) Cowboys-- Have converted 54-94 (57.4%) of 3rd down plays, giving them edge in field position and tiring defenses out.
2) Colts-- Started season 0-2 (Broncos/Eagles); haven't lost since. Saw something last week that said through six games, Andrew Luck had thrown 6th most passes of any QB thru six games since 1960. They beat Bengals 27-0 last week and were -2 in the turnover category, with both RBs fumbling in Cincinnati territory.
1) Broncos-- FOX ran a graphic showing John Fox's coaching record with, without Peyton Manning; Fox got to a Super Bowl with Jake freakin' Delhomme as his QB. Why is it that no one posts Belichick's record with and without Brady? Anyone?
Brady's win-loss record: 153-45.
Belichick's win-loss record: 204-107.......you do the math.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Still baffled that four of seven umpires working in this World Series, all of whom have been umps for 15+ years, have never been in a World Series before. These four rated out the best with the new instant replay system. Were these guys the best umpires in previous seasons and if so, why weren’t any of them ever invited before? One guy only had two calls reversed the whole season.
Has to be a lot of politics involved with who gets this high profile assignment; maybe instant replay helped take some of the politics out of it.
12) NFC South teams are having a bad year; those four teams are a combined 2-12-1 SU in road games, with one of the home wins coming against a division opponent. NFC South teams are 3-8-1 against the spread in non-divisional road games.
11) Hitting coach Chili Davis leaves A’s for Boston, where he’ll be re-united with Yoenis Cespedes, unless the Red Sox trade Cespedes this winter. The Cuban OF is a free agent a year from now and he’s going to make a lot of money, but his low on-base percentage might not appeal to Moneyball-type teams.
I would take him on my team, any day of the week.
10) I’m not familiar with the details of the salary cap, but Percy Harvin is a $7M hit on the Jets’ salary cap for this year, but still hits Seattle’s cap for $7M next year. Seahawks’ locker room might be a happier place without Harvin, but their WRs aren’t nearly as fast now.
9) Utah Utes’ kicker Andy Phillips was a member of the US Ski Team from 2007-2011, so he is a world class athlete as well as a damn good kicker.
8) Indiana started #3 QB Zander Diamont against Michigan State last week; the kid’s stepmom once played Jerry Sienfeld’s girlfriend for an episode on the comedian’s TV show.
7) Up north of the border, the resurgent Hamilton TigerCats have won their last five home games, its first five-game home win streak in five years. The new stadium agrees with them, I guess.
6) Loyola-Chicago, already fighting an uphill battle in Missouri Valley Conference, lost its top scorer Milton Doyle (shoulder) for an indefinite time. Bad news for the Ramblers, who don't need more bad news. .
5) Good news for Long Beach State, which landed transfer Gabe Levin, who scored 11.1 ppg and grabbed 7.2 rebounds/game. Levin had originally transferred to Marquette, but went back to a smaller pond in the Big West.
4) The fan who caught Travis Ishikawa’s pennant-clinching home run gave the ball back to Ishikawa, in exchange for a signed bat and tickets to Game 3 of the World Series. I’m guessing he could have held Ishikawa up for fairly big money; I mean the guy is a journeyman but still has to make $500K+ a year, but the fan took the bat and Series tickets and everyone is happy.
3) The NBA has a lot more money now, because of the lucrative new TV deals that were signed, but if the league and players agree to shorten the season, do the players get less money, or the same money to play fewer games?
Don’t think they’d accept a reduction in money, even with a reduced scheduled, because the league is obviously doing very well because of the TV deals.
2) What happens if Ray Rice wins his appeal, gets reinstated by the NFL and no one signs the guy? It is doubtful any NFL team is going to touch this guy, not this year—he’s a PR disaster, but he has the right to earn a living.
1) NFL officials are schooled not to call offsetting penalties when a skirmish breaks out; to me, this is totally stupid, since it is usually difficult to determine who is at fault, or if one person is at fault at all. What you wind up with is an official guessing which guy started it, when they both could very well both be at fault. Just throw a flag, say its offsetting fouls and be done with it.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday.......
13) Colts 27, Bengals 0-- Cincinnati is now 0-2-1 after a 3-0 start; they were awful in this game, with two first downs in first half, ten 3/outs on 13 drives. Bengals had 135 total yards, averaged 2.5 yards/pass attempt. Colts won their last five games.
12) Redskins 19, Titans 17-- Colt McCoy threw 70-yard TD pass on first play of second half, coning off bench to lead Washington to its second win. Tennessee lost five of its last six games after winning opener at Arrowhead. Redskins kicked FGs on all four of itd red zone drives.
11) Dolphins 27, Bears 14-- Chicago is now 0-3 at home this season; they were -3 in turnovers, were outgained 393-224. Jay Cutler completed just 3-of-11 passes for 52 yards and an interception on throws 15 or more yards downfield; the natives are restless in the Windy City, for sure.
10) Jaguars 24, Browns 6-- Cleveland got a rare win over rival Pittsburgh last week, lose to winless Jaguars this week; no bueno. Game was 10-6 until Jags scored couple TDs in 0:49 span of 4th quarter, on drives that totaled 15 yards of offense. Jaguars ran ball for 185 yards; they're getting better.
9) Rams 28, Seahawks 26--- St Louis jumped out to lead 21-3 thanks to a TD on a trick play on a punt return, then had to hold on for dear life, using a fake punt with 2:35 left to kill the clock and preserve their second win. Rams beat the defending champs with an even turnover ratio, a good sign.
8) Packers 38, Panthers 17-- Carolina won division with 12-4 record LY; they are 1-3-1 in last five games now, after a 2-0 start. Panthers were down 28-0 after 19:07 in this game, allowing 298 yards on 32 plays on Green Bay's first five drives. Pack won its last four games, averaging 36.3 ppg.
7) Ravens 29, Falcons 7-- Atlanta heads to London on a 4-game losing streak- they allowed 31.7 ppg in the four losses. Raiders fired their coach on the way home from England, since that trip is followed by a bye week; could Mike Smith be on his way out? Falcons ran ball for only 68 yards.
6) Bills 17, Vikings 16-- Buffalo converted 4th/20 and 2nd/20 plays on its winning drive, scoring TD with 0:01 left to send fans home happy. Very unusual that of the four teams with +2 or better turnover ratios this week, three of them lost. Not too hard to figure out that Orton is a big upgrade at QB over young EJ Manuel.
5) Lions 24, Saints 23-- Horrific loss for New Orleans, which lost its 7th straight regular season road game; they led 23-10 with 3:50 left, gave up a ridiculously easy 73-yard TD pass, then Brees threw an awful INT to set Detroit up at the 14-yard line for the winning score, which came on a 4th down play.
4) Chiefs 23, Chargers 20-- Andy Reid is now 12-2 in post-bye games, as Smith wins in his hometown, converting 7-14 on third down and not turning ball over (+1). Did San Diego get caught looking ahead to their Thursday night game in Denver?
3) Cowboys 31, Giants 21-- Murray is first RB ever to run for 100+ yards in first seven games of a season; they need to tone down his carries, or else he'll wind up like Jamal Anderson, who Falcons burned out by using too much. Dallas averaged 10.7 yards/pass attempt, ran ball for 156 yards as they won their sixth game in row.
2) Cardinals 24, Raiders 13-- Arizona outgained Raiders 365-220, converted 9-15 on third down and extended its lead in NFC West with Seattle/49ers losing. Put the Cardinals' record under a more popular team's banner and they'd be laying a lot more than 3.5 points in games like this. Arizona is still undervalued.
1) Broncos 42, 49ers 17-- Manning set all-time TD pass record against team missing five of its eight starters at DB/LB; he replaced Jim Harbaugh as the Colts' QB back in 1998. If he throws a TD pass in every game the rest of the season, he'll break the record for most consecutive games with at least one TD pass.
Sunday's List of 13: Summing up a super sports Saturday
13) Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27-- Tremendous game, really great; wouldn't be shocked if they met again in January, in the playoff. Notre Dame ran 30 more plays than FSU, but couldn't score in last minute, when they had ball inside 5-yard line. Total yardage was 470-323, Notre Dame.
Have to give Jimbo Fisher lot of credit; nothing seems to bother him. His teams are cool under pressure, because he doesn't show stress. Note of caution for Jameis Winston: your next coach (in the NFL) won't be so quarterback-friendly.
12) Ole Miss 34, Tennessee 3-- In 2009, Vols could've hired Brian Kelly, but they hired Lane Kiffin. In 2010, they hired Derek Dooley and Notre Dame hired Kelly. Tennessee eventually got it right with Butch Jones (who succeeded Kelly at Central Michigan and Cincinnati) but having Kelly would be better.
11) Missouri 42, Florida 13-- Total disaster for the Gators, who will be looking for a new head coach soon. Consider this timeline:
14:49 1st-- Missouri runs opening kick back for a TD
13:01 3rd-- Missouri runs punt back 82 yards for a TD
7:25 3rd-- Missouri runs fumble back 21 yards for a TD
5:57 3rd-- Missouri runs INT back 46 yards for a TD
Missouri gained 119 total yards and scored 42 freakin' points.
10) West Virginia 41, Baylor 27-- Mountaineers were -3 in turnovers, were flagged 14 times for 138 yards but won by two TDs, holding Baylor to its season-low 318 yards. Bears had 18 penalties for 185 yards, completed only 16-37 passes. Baylor had scored 136 points in its last two games against WVU.
9) Kansas State 31, Oklahoma 30-- Coaching job 75-year old Bill Snyder has done in the Little Apple is totally amazing; they were weakest of the doormats before he got there, a pinata other teams pummeled every year. Now they're the epitome of sound football, with gutty senior QB Waters leading this year's team.
8) Alabama 59, Texas A&M 0-- Wheels have come off in post-Manziel Aggieland; the SEC is a meat grinder and right now A&M is the meat. This game was so awful that only two penalties were called; second half was basically running time. Aggies allowed 142 points the last three weeks- they have a bye next week and then a win when UL-Monroe comes to town, so they'll get bowl eligible then. Hope they like playing in the Weedeater Bowl, or some such lower-level bowl.
7) TCU 42, Oklahoma State 9-- Horned Frogs lost 61-58 to Baylor last Saturday, after beating Oklahoma the week before so this sound beating they handed OSU was really impressive. TCU gained 671 yards in this game, 261 on the ground.
6) Texas 48, Iowa State 45-- What percentage of the Longhorn faithful you think was pleased with this result? There were 17 points scored in last 1:19 of this game. Cyclones are 2-5 and lost to North Dakota State- they gained 524 yards here.
5) South Florida 38, Tulsa 30-- Golden Hurricane led this game 27-7 at the half at home, but lost, their sixth loss in seven games.
4) LSU 41, Kentucky 3........Ohio State 56, Rutgers 17-- Kentucky/Rutgers both began the day 5-1, then reality set in.
As Tom Berenger's character said to Charlie Sheen's in the classic baseball movie Major League, "This isn't the California Penal League, Vaughn...."
3) Colorado State 16, Utah State 13-- Jared Roberts kicked two 46-yard FGs in the last 1:51 as the Rams moved to 6-1 in front of 32,546 fans that gave Colorado State its first home sellout in a decade. CSU coach Jim McElwain used to be OC at Alabama; bet he is having more fun this year, with a much smaller budget.
2) Clemson 17, Boston College 13-- Tiger QB Cole Stoudt will probably never play in the NFL like his dad did, but his gutty play made Clemson a winner here, in game where BC receivers dropped two TD passes that would've made a difference. Eagles beat USC at home last month; they were held to 120 rushing yards here.
Stoudt got a pain-killing shot before the game and another one at halftime. It is easy to criticize athletes these days, but this is a kid who gutted it out for his team today.
1) Arizona State 26, Stanford 10-- Todd Graham is a really good coach, winning this game with his backup QB, avenging two losses to the Cardinal LY. ASU plays Washington/Utah the next two weeks, before Notre Dame visits the desert.
Saturday's List of 13: Random thoughts on an autumn day.....
13) Seattle traded Percy Harvin to the Jets Friday, which says to me that Jets' GM John Idzik ain't getting fired. If the owner was going to can the GM, why would he let him trade a draft choice the next GM might want to use next spring?
From what you read, Harvin isn't a great teammate; he's missed 27 of 85 games in his career, has been traded twice already and wasn't popular in Seattle's locker room.
12) UCLA's basketball team still can't practice at Pauley Pavilion, 2.5 months after a water main break flooded the historic arena.
11) Want to feel old? Sam Cassell Jr. is a player at UConn; his dad is an assistant coach for the Clippers these days.
10) Apparently the Dodgers' cable TV deal isn't the bonanza they thought it would be, so they're expected to slash $50M off their payroll next year, which explains why they went after Andrew Friedman, who has done more with less resources down in Tampa Bay.
9) Congress has an approval rate of 12%; its hard to believe there are that many people who think they're doing a good job.
8) Steve Kerr and his wife donated $1M to the athletic department at Arizona, his alma mater; Kerr earned a total of just under $16M in his 14-year playing career.
7) Lot of old Oakland A's work for the Diamondbacks now: Larussa-Stewart-Hale-McKay-Duncan. Arizona's spring training next March is going to look a little like an A's fantasy camp.
6) Good news from Arizona; D'Backs brought Mark Grace back to the majors as an assistant hitting coach. Grace was a tremendous analyst on Arizona TV, really funny, but he had a couple DUIs and lost that job. Good to see he is doing OK.
5) Eldrick Woods isn't getting those big appearance fees to play golf in the Middle East anymore; then again, he doesn't play golf much anymore, either.
4) Virginia Tech's basketball coach Buzz Williams posted a picture on Twitter of his young daughter doing some reading; she was supposedly reading Shotgun News. Once saw a pic of Williams and his son with wrestling legend Ric Flair. Williams is an unusual guy; what basketball coach leaves Marquette for Virginia Tech?
3) Tim Bogar went 14-8 as Rangers' interim manager, but Texas hired the Pirates' bench coach Jeff Banister as their new manager. Banister worked for Clint Hurdle for four years; Hurdle was once the hitting coach in Texas and was well-liked there, so his endorsement of Banister had a lot of clout.
2) I like the way they do overtime in the NFL, with both teams getting the ball unless the team that gets the ball first scores a TD. Seems like the fairest way.
1) If the NBA were to reduce from 82 to 64 games, thats a 22% reduction; would NBA players be OK with earning less money for playing less games?
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend........
13) Chiefs-Chargers is an interesting game out west; Bolts have dominated series lately, but their two wins over KC last year were both by a FG.
12) Baylor lost 70-63 the last time they visited Morgantown; they beat WVU 73-42 LY in Waco. Bears gained over 1,500 total yards in the two games. Not sure why, but WVU coach Holgorsen has cooler full of Red Bull on his sidelines during games, just for him.
11) Bengals are 0-1-1 since their bye, which came at a bad time, when they were 3-0. Colts won their last four games after an 0-2 start. This will be a fun game.
10) UCLA is favored at Cal, but Bruins lost their last seven visits to Berkeley, the last five by 14+ points. If they lose this week, especially with UCLA coming off a loss, it’ll be a major upset.
9) Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank was quoted this week as being unhappy with his team’s 2-4 start, which makes sense, but given how dreadful Atlanta’s defense has been, will heads roll if Atlanta doesn’t make the playoffs this year?
8) Royals-Giants World Series will be first time since 1918 (in a non-strike year) that neither World Series team will have won 90 regular season games. Royals are like Colorado was a few years ago, getting very hot at the perfect time.
7) Saints are 0-10 vs spread in last ten road games; they visit defensively-stout Detroit, which is struggling on offense with star WR Calvin Johnson hobbled.
6) Last three Nebraska-Northwestern games were decided by total of seven points; Wildcats collapsed at end of LY’s game, blowing big second half lead to Nebraska. Can they beat the Cornhuskers this year?
5) Dallas won its last five games; Murray has chance to be first RB ever to start season with seven 100+-yard games. Can Giants protect Eli? If not, this’ll be a long day for Big Blue.
4) Kentucky is improved, which is a good thing, seeing as they lost their last three visits to LSU by combined score of 118-7. Tigers are young and slowly getting better; you better get ‘em this year.
3) Carson Palmer leads the 4-1 Cardinals into Oakland, where he played in 2011-12. Rookie QB Carr played his best game in near-miss vs Chargers last week. This is a game the first-place Cardinals have to win, to stay ahead of favored 49ers/Seahawks.
2) Sure is a lot of drama around the Florida State program, kind of like UNLV’s old basketball teams; lot of drama, but they just keep on winning. Notre Dame gave up 43 points at home to North Carolina last week; what will Heisman Trophy winner Winston hang on them? What were the odds of a TE named O’Leary playing for FSU and not the Fighting Irish?
1) Patrick Willis won’t play when the 49ers visit Denver this week, bad news for a 49er defense playing on short week after their strong second half showing in St Louis. Broncos are 2-0 since their bye, scoring 72 points.
Thursday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL..........
32) Raiders—You start a rookie QB and before his career is five games old, you fire his head coach? How is this anything but incompetent management?
31) Jaguars—They finally covered a spread this week, so there’s that. Jags have actually played better since Bortles has been the QB.
30) Jets—By not cutting Michael Vick after he admitted to not being prepared to play, it appears to me they’ve given up the ship. Vick was supposed to be a mentor of sorts for Geno Smith, but now it is obvious he is just stealing money. If I owned the Jets, I'd clean house on December 29, the day after the season ends.
29) Rams—Just win, baby. You are what you are and the Rams are 1-4, despite having runs of 21-0/21-0/14-0 in their last three games. There is talent here, but not much maturity and the upcoming schedule is tough.
28) Titans—They beat Jacksonville at home by 2. With Charlie Whitehurst under center. In my fantasy league, the best available WRs are mostly Titans, because no one trusts their QB’s to get them the ball.
8) Cardinals—Guy like Bruce Arians almost never got his chance to be an NFL head coach. Now that he has it in his early 60’s, he is making the most out of it. He is 14-7 as coach of the Redbirds, in a tough division.
7) Patriots—Injury to Mayo is big blow to a defense; injury to Ridley means that Brady will have to throw more. Can his OL protect him enough?
6) Colts—Won last four games after an 0-2 start, but four games with Titans/Jags won’t hurt either. Has any team ever had a more seamless transition from an all-time great at QB (Manning-to-Luck)?
5) Bengals—They visit Indy this week, are 0-1-1 since their bye/3-0 start. Lose this week and that missed 36-yard FG at end of Carolina game is going to hurt more and more.
4) Eagles—Chip Kelly is good for the NFL; he’s making other coaches think differently, which makes the game more interesting. How was this guy an assistant coach at New Hampshire for so long?
3) Cowboys—Cue the mute buttons for Sunday night highlight shows, if Dallas wins. “The NFL is better when the Cowboys are good”; that was said on TV Sunday night and Jerry Jones didn’t say it, a guy on ESPN did. I want to puke, but that’s how people think.
2) Broncos—How much $$ do you think Peyton Manning is worth? If a journeyman NBA player like Steve Kerr can donate $1M to U of Arizona, how much money must a megastar like Manning be worth?
1) Chargers—Last NFL QB to wear a number in the 20’s? John Hadl, who was at his best as a Charger in late 60’s/early 70’s, throwing to Lance Alworth. Hadl was later Steve Young’s coach in the USFL with the LA Express.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud......
13) What we need on TV is Hard Knocks: Regular Season. How awesome would it have been to be a fly on the wall in the Rams’ film room when their coaches went over Janoris Jenkins’ horrific play at the end of the first half Monday night, turning a 14-3 lead into a tenuous 14-10 lead by allowing an 80-yard TD pass with 0:14 left in the half? Do coaches curse the player out? If so, does the player answer back? This would be great TV, but doubt we’ll ever see it. Too bad.
12) From Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com:
“The Rams are about three drives away from 4-1; replace those late-game interceptions by Austin Davis against the Cowboys and 49ers with scores, and sneak in one more big play late in the fourth quarter against the Eagles, and we’re talking about the Rams as a stunning sleeper team. The margin between wild success and routine disappointment is just that thin in the NFL.”
That goes for several other teams, too.
11) NFL Network should grab the reality show that Browns’ coach Mike Pettine and his father were on in 1999, when both were high school coaches in eastern Pennsylvania. It was early in the reality show era, so it is realistic and not played up at all. Would be more interesting seeing it now, with Pettine coaching one of the NFL’s surprise teams in his rookie year as a head coach.
10) In parts of Ohio, they don’t Trick or Treat on Fri-Sat-Sun, as not to interfere with football on the weekends. Seriously; they Trick or Treat on Thursdays if there is a football/Halloween conflict.
9) 1992 Chargers are only NFL team to start a year 0-4 and still make playoffs.
8) Calgary Flames (last playoffs ’09) and Edmonton Oilers (’06) both have very long NHL playoff droughts; too bad, because their fans love hockey so much, you’d wish those teams could be better.
7) NBA is experimenting with a 44:00 (as opposed to 48:00) game this week; if they went to a shorter game, would they discount tickets by the 8.3% they shortened the game? I think not. If anything, they should reduce the number of games, which would reduce travel, which is draining on players and reduces practice time, which curtails the quality of the product.
6) Buffalo Sabres are hosting the 2016 NHL Draft; I live five hours from Buffalo and there are casinos in Niagara Falls. That’s a potential vacation down the road.
5) Adirondack Flames are the new AHL affiliate of NHL’s Calgary Flames- they play in Glens Falls, Jimmer Fredette’s hometown. Their “A” logo is the same logo the parent Flames used when they played home games in Atlanta, before moving to Calgary, in 1980.
Sadly their mascot, an animated flame, got fired in the first month of the season for pretending to beat up a fireman. Get it? flames/fireman? No bueno.
4) Very interesting article on ESPN.com about rebounding in basketball, about how players/teams can maximize their rebounding efforts by understanding where missed shots are likely to wind up, depending on where the shot was taken from. Nothing will ever replace good ol’ rebounding instincts, but a close study of this stuff can help someone who is less instinctive.
3) Quick fact from the article if you didn’t click on the link: 80% of NBA rebounds land within eight feet of the basket. It seems obvious but teams are trying to find every edge to help them win games. This is good stuff.
2) Andrew Friedman is leaving Tampa Bay to become President of the Dodgers, which is big news and probably bad news for Don Mattingly. Will Friedman try to poach Joe Maddon from the Rays? Usually when a new guy takes charge, he brings in “his guys”. This will be very interesting to follow.
1) Fair question: Dodgers signing Friedman as club president begs the question: Did they make a run at Billy Beane first?
Tuesday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.......
13) TCU-Baylor game Saturday had 198 offensive plays; it was wildly entertaining. 15 NFL games this week had an average of 130.9 plays per game. More action in the college game, that much is undeniable. Fewer commercials, too.
12) Arizona Diamondbacks did smart thing, hired Chip Hale as its new manager; he's a sharp guy, was recently bench coach for the A's and Mets.
11) I may be late with this, but ESPN's E:60 ran an interesting show Monday on a wildly successful high school football coach in Alabama, whose personal life was completely messed up; he had six kids, three by his wife, three by his girlfriend.
The guy quit his job, couldn't get hired by anyone, until a high school in Georgia hired him and he turned the school's program around, but not before he had throat cancer and beat that, too. Show ends when his new team goes back to Alabama to play his former team. Anyway, if you see it on TV, its worth a watch.
10) Two side notes to the program: The guy was such a good coach, he interviewed with Nick Saban to become an assistant at Alabama. Also, the woman who hired him in Georgia had this great quote-- picture a 60-ish woman with a southern drawl:
"We want a coach who can win foot-balllllllll games." Tremendous.
9) Now that ESPN's Bob Ley grew his beard, he looks like the old actor Raymond Burr, who played Perry Mason and Ironside on successful old TV shows. .
8) In their last three games, Washington Redskins lost field position by 25-18-15 yards. You cannot win this way, no matter how good you are.
7) Speaking of the Redskins: before last night, the last time an NFL team scored a 75+-yard TD in last 2:00 of the first half was in 1994, when Heath Shuler threw one for the Redskins, one of only 15 career TD passes for the future congressman.
6) A bank in Ann Arbor, MI wouldn't take Columbus Day as a holiday, because:
"We will not be closed for Columbus Day today because Columbus is in Ohio."
Seriously, this was the Bank of Ann Arbor. Glad I don't work there.
5) Four San Francisco Giant pitchers gave up homers Sunday night; the last time that happened? Back in 2005, when the Giant catcher was....Mike Matheny.
4) Paid crowd for the Florida Panthers' NHL game in south Florida Monday was 7,311, a new franchise low. I refuse to believe an NHL game in Saskatoon, Quebec
City or Hamilton wouldn't draw twice that much. Am I wrong?
3) Hopefully Jimbo Fisher recruited a QB to play next season, because he'll be lucky if he has Jameis Winston under center for the rest of this season; no way will Winston still be in Tallahassee at this time next fall.
2) 19 primetime NFL games this season: over is 15-4 in those games.
1) If you own an NFL team and want to host a Super Bowl in your city, well, your team better be willing to give up a home game to play in London the next season- thats how the league office is extorting teams who want the cash cow of hosting the Super Bowl. Fewer and fewer teams want to go to London to play.
Monday's List of 13: Summing up a sports Sunday....
13) Broncos 31, Jets 17-- Bad beat #1 of the day: Aqib Talib ran a pick-6 back with 0:15 left to cover the spread for Denver, which had 101 penalty yards, compared to nine for the Jets. Denver was +2 in turnovers, outgained the Jets 359-204.
12) Browns 31, Steelers 10-- Cleveland beat Pitt for just third time in last 23 tries, but lost center Alex Mack (broken leg) for season. Steelers didn't score a TD on any of its three red zone drives. Browns averaged 11.7 yards per pass attempt.
11) Titans 16, Jaguars 14-- Tennessee was outgained by 89 yards, but was +2 in turnovers, had 15-yard edge in field position. Steve Beuerlein broadcast the game; he blasted Jags' coach Gus Bradley's replay challenges; don't get lot of that on network TV. Jacksonville is 0-6; this was their first cover this season.
10) Bears 27, Falcons 13-- Atlanta couldn't stop the Bears on third down in second half, once they tied game 13-13; Chicago rang up 478 yards, won field position for first time this year. Falcons are now 0-4 when they score less than 37 points.
9) Packers 27, Dolphins 24-- Green Bay drove 60 yards in 2:01, scored winning TD with 0:03 left, winning its third straight game. Pack kicked FG to make it 24-20 with 4:09 left; on ensuing drive, Miami threw ball four times, ran it three, giving ball back to Aaron Rodgers with 2:04 left.
8) Lions 17, Vikings 3-- Detroit won in Twin Cities for just second time in last 17 visits, sacking Bridgewater eight times, picking him off three more, holding Vikings to 212 yards. Teams conbined to convert 4 of 27 on third down; Stafford was only 1-9 on passes that went more than ten yards downfield.
7) Panthers 37, Bengals 37-- Each team kicked FG in OT, then Nugent missed from 36 yards on last play of game, as Panthers got first tie in franchise history. Bengals had 119 penalty yards; teams combined to get eight first downs via penalty, tied for second-most in any NFL game this season.
6) Patriots 37, Bills 22-- Brady passed for 361 yards, four TDs; NE was 7-15 on third down, +3 in turnovers, won field position by 12 yards as they beat the Bills for 26th time in last 28 meetings. Bills' defenders didn't carry Jim Schwartz off the field this week, the way they did last week in Detroit. Go figure.
5) Ravens 48, Buccaaneers 17-- Flacco had five TD passes with 13:57 left in half; last QB to throw six TD passes in first half was Daryle Lamonica in '69, which was an AFL game but records got absorbed by merger. 60,041 tickets were sold for this mismatch; game was 38-0 at half. A refund is in order.
4) Chargers 31, Raiders 28-- Rookie Carr threw for 283 yards, four TDs despite numerous drops. San Diego scored 10 points in last 5:52 to pull this game out- they lost field position by 10 yards. NFL teams that lost field position by 10+ yards this season are now 1-31.
3) Cowboys 30, Seahawks 23-- Seattle led 10-0 on blocked punt/TD; its only other TD was on 14-yard drive, as Dallas outgained them 401-206, ran ball for 162 yards, converted 10-17 on 3rd down. TV executives are popping champagne at thought of Dallas being a contender. Good way to keep public's focus on the field.
2) Cardinals 30, Redskins 20-- Washington had ball five times in 4th quarter; four turnovers and a TD. You turn ball over four times in a quarter, you lose. You throw a pick-6 with 0:12 left down 23-20, you don't beat the spread either. This was bad beat of the day #2; if you had a Denver/Arizona parlay, the gods liked you today.
1) Eagles 27, Giants 0-- Very bad night for the Giants: Philly played its A-game here, and Victor Cruz tore his patellar tendon; in next five games, Giants play Dallas (twice) and Colts-49ers-Seattle. Very tough. Through six weeks, home favorites are now 8-10 vs spread in divisional games. .
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) USC 28, Arizona 26-- Pressure does strange things to people; Arizona's kicker shanked a 36-yard FG with 0:13 left, saving USC from a monumental collapse and its third loss of the year. Arizona scored a TD but missed on 2-point play, before recovering an onside kick that set up the final sequence.
12) Baylor 61, TCU 58-- Horned Frogs led 58-37 with 11:38 left but lost, as Petty passed for 510 yards and six TDs to keep Baylor unbeaten. Bears gained 782 total yards in this game- only time they led was at final gun.
11) Minnesota 24, Northwestern 17-- Wildcats tied game with 7:32 left, Gophers ran ensuing kick back for winning TD.
Oklahoma State 27, Kansas 20-- Jayhawks tied game with 6:55 left, Cowboys ran the ensuing kickoff back for winning TD.
10) Oklahoma 31, Texas 26-- Sooners led 17-13 at half despite being outgained by Texas, 278-29- they scored TDs on defense/special teams.Teams are now 1-57 this season when they're outgained by 200+ yards in first half. Texas is 1-5, their worst start since 1956, the year before Darrell Royal took over.
9) Oregon 42, UCLA 30-- Misleading final score, as Bruins scored last 20 points; Ducks averaged over six yards a rush. Oregon goes for two after their first TD of almost every game-- don't teams know this? It always seems to work. .
8) Alabana 14, Arkansas 13-- Old-time football. Teams huddled and played solid defense. Razorbacks outgained Bama by 107 yards, but missed PAT. Nick Saban did not look terribly happy with his offens; actually, he looked mad, even angrier than usual.
7) Washington Wizards lost Bradley Beal for 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist.
6) Clemson 23, Louisville 17-- Teams combined to convert 3 of 33 on third down; Tigers lost QB Watson (broken hand), but scored TDs on defense, special teams.
5) Marshall 49, Middle Tennessee 24-- Rakeem Cato threw TD pass in his 38th straight game, tying Russell Wilson's I-A record. Marshall lost to MTSU on last play of game last year, but had no such problem this year- they're very good.
4) Royals 6, Orioles 4-- KC won its last four road games in its final at-bat; in 12 of the 19 playoff games so far, the winning run scored from 7th inning on.
3) West Virginia 37, Texas Tech 34-- Wild day in Big X; Mountaineers scored 17 points in last 5:55, to beat Tech squad that had scored 86 points in winning last two series games. Mountaineers converted 12-22 on third down.
2) LSU 30, Florida 27-- Week of distractions ended badly for Gators. LSU gutted out a road win a week after losing 41-7 at Auburn, kicking a 50-yard FG with 0:03 left. At least Florida gets its freshman QB Harris back this week, but they dropped a TD pass that would've put them up 31-27 with 2:00 left- costly drop.
1) Ole Miss 35, Texas A&M 20-- Impressive showing by Rebels, who dismantled Aggies in front of the biggest crowd in SEC history. Ole Miss scored two defensive TDs, QB Wallace ran for couple of key first downs when Aggies threatened to make game close in third quarter.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Michael Vick admitted this week that he was unprepared to play against the Chargers Sunday; he is 34, apparently stealing money as a backup QB, just cashing checks as he tries to replenish the fortune he squandered due to his off-field problems.
How can the Jets possibly keep him? He’s a lousy example for Geno Smith, which is the main reason they should cut his ass, bring their practice squad QB in as the backup, then sign another QB to the practice squad. I mean its October 11 and guys have quit on the season already? Yikes.
12) Somebody had a screenshot of Jon Gruden’s yearbook from his college days at Dayton. One of his career goals: “To be the head (football) coach at Michigan”. In a few short weeks, one phone call might get that done.
11) Cavaliers-Heat don’t play for real until Christmas, but they’re playing an exhibition game this weekend, in Brazil. You get the idea the NBA uses October as a time to sell a lot of jerseys/t-shirts overseas by having teams go there in person.
10) Dicey situation for the Syracuse football program, which demoted its offensive coordinator this week. Problem with that is, the guy is also the recruiting coordinator, so you’ve basically told your recruiting coordinator to go look for another job while he is, you know….still coordinating your recruiting, which is the lifeline of any program. Staff meetings must be a lot of fun there these days.
9) Speaking of Syracuse, wonder what Bills’ head coach (former Syracuse coach) Doug Marrone thought of his players carrying their defensive coordinator off the field on their shoulders after the win in Detroit last week? In Week 5? I know Jim Schwartz used to coach the Lions, but not like he got a raw deal there or anything.
8) Giants won three of four games against the Nationals in the NLDS, despite scoring three or less runs in all four games. Memo to Theo Epstein: pitching is still most important element in baseball, not stockpiling minor league shortstops.
7) Speaking of the Giants, will the wild pitch Washington threw on the intentional walk Tuesday have an impact on baseball’s wanting to institute a pitchless intentional walk? It technically wasn’t a wild pitch, since Posey got thrown out at the plate, but it was one of the most interesting plays of the whole game.
6) Former Northwestern/Colorado coach Gary Barnett threw his hat in the ring for the vacant Kansas job; Barnett was the coach who revived the Northwestern program when it had been a joke for years—current Wildcat coach Pat Fitzgerald played linebacker for the Rose Bowl team Barnett coached.
But Kansas? No way Barnett gets that job; Jayhawks ain’t hiring a Missouri alum to be their coach, and Barnett went to college in Columbia.
5) Colts owner Jim Irsay’s suspension ended after Thursday night’s game in Houston, but what exactly does a team owner do anyway? Will Irsay start tweeting again? Will he bring donuts in? Sit in coach’s meetings? You wonder if his absence for six games had any tangible impact at all.
4) Former Florida Gulf Coast big man Eric McKnight wanted to transfer to Tennessee to play as a graduate student for new coach Donnie Tyndall, but the admissions people at Tennessee put the kibosh on him, for whatever reason; there are varying reports of why he left FGCU and there are some doubts if he’s good enough to make a difference at Tennessee anyway.
McKnight has surfaced at Long Beach State, where he will definitely help plug the hole in the middle of the 49ers’ defense in the Big West, which is way closer to Atlantic Sun’s level of play than the SEC is.
3) Definitely a pleasure to watch Warriors-Clippers the other night and hear the friendly voice of Ralph Lawler, who does Clipper games with Mike Smith. Lawler suffered for a long time broadcasting terrible Clipper teams; its good to hear him have some fun broadcasting these days.
2) Media picks/chooses who they praise and who they trash. New Marquette coach Steve Wojciehowski signed a top recruit this week, at least in part because he had signed the kid’s older brother as a transfer from Minnesota earlier this summer. It is definitely legal, but in an ethical gray area.
If John Calipari or Scott Drew does that, the media trashes them and implies all kinds of chicanery; a Dukie does it, then he’s a brilliant recruiter who knows how to exploit the rules to his advantage. Go figure.
1) Thru the first five weeks of the NFL season, 15 touchdowns had been called back by penalty, compared to 11 at this time last year. Doesn’t seem like much of a difference, four, but it is a 36.4% increase, which is a lot.
NFL is ridiculously over-officiated, the refs have become potential TV stars; their jobs are so micro-managed it has to be very difficult to do the job well. Whatever happened to the old axiom that the best officials are the ones you never notice?
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.......
13) Patriots-Bills play for first place in AFC East; when was last time Buffalo was playing for first place any time after Week 2?
12) Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has a tough job, taking his Rebels to Texas A&M the week after they upset Alabama and people took the goalposts down Main Street. Peaks and valleys, people.
11) Home team won all five Atlanta games so far this season; Falcons are 2-0 at home. Devin Hester welcomes his old team, the Bears to the Georgia Dome Sunday, after Chicago fumbled away their last game, at Carolina.
10) Underdogs are 8-1 vs spread in last nine USC-Arizona games, with last seven all decided by 7 or less points. Trojans visit Tucson this week; RichRod has his Wildcats scoring lot of points.
9) Steelers visit Cleveland in first rematch of NFL season; every Browns game was decided in last 1:09 of play- they’ve been most interesting team in NFL so far.
8) Auburn-Miss State is suddenly a game with national implications, after State trounced Texas A&M last week. Gus Malzahn’s offense has taken the college game by storm; not too long ago he was a high school coach in Arkansas.
7) ALCS features a Showalter-Yost manager mismatch that’s like comparing Kate Upton to Roseanne Barr; not close. Players win games, but hard to believe Orioles don’t have a significant edge in strategy in this 7-game series.
6) Oregon-UCLA was a marquee matchup for FOX until both teams got beat last week; still a big game in Pac-12. Wasn’t impressed by Duck QB Mariota last week; Arizona defender just took ball out of his hand on last drive last week- that should never happen.
5) 4-1 Cowboys had to use silent count at home last week, with lot of Houston fans in their stadium; now they’ll really have to use it, playing in raucous Seattle stadium, where Seahawks covered 14 of last 19 home games. Can Dallas run ball against that defense?
4) Alabama bludgeoned Arkansas 52-0 in each of last two meetings; Razorbacks are better this year, and Crimson Tide is off loss at Ole Miss. Harder for young QBs to excel on road; can Bielema get a statement for his rebuilding Hogs here?
3) Good Sunday night game, Giants-Eagles. Philly allowed 27+ points in each of last four games, but they’re still 4-1. Giants won last three games, scoring 30+ points in all three games- rumors of Coughlin’s demise have apparently been exaggerated.
2) Texas Tech already fired its defensive coordinator this year, now West Virginia comes to Lubbock with its high-powered attack. None of West Virginia's road trips are short; this is a game they need to win.
1) Rams are honoring ’99 Super Bowl champs Monday night, with rival 49ers in town. Young St Louis team has to learn how to win; their talent level isn’t deficient anymore, but their maturity level is. 49ers have only two TDs on last eight red zone drives.
Thursday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in the NFL....
32) Raiders—When you have a ceremony on October 7 to symbolically bury a football during practice, to signal the season is starting over, well you get #32 on this list. If interim coach Tony Sparano wants this job full-time, he better get the most out of young QB Carr.
31) Jaguars—Have been better the last two weeks, but they’re 0-5 against the spread and winless on the field. Have a shot this week against Tennessee.
30) Titans—Speaking of which, they’ve lost four games in row, became first-ever home team to lose a game they led by 25+ points. Locker is hurt, Whitehurst isn’t the answer at QB. Will they play LSU rookie Mettenberger?
29) Jets— Rough week for OC Mornhinweg; his offense got blanked in San Diego, his son got beat up by a Florida Gator teammate after he accused the teammate of swiping a pair of cleats. Broncos come to town this week; think Geno can match points with that offense?
28) Rams-- Led 21-0 in first half of Game 3, lost 34-31. Trailed 34-7 in Game 4, lost 34-28. Haven’t had a winning season since they cut Kurt Warner 11 years ago. The Kurse of Kurt. He’ll be in the building Monday night when the ’99 champs are honored. Would be a good time to retire number 13, no?
8) 49ers—Survived visit from old friend Alex Smith, despite shaky performance in red zone. Slowly coming around.
7) Cowboys—Romo had to use silent count in his home stadium last week, because so many Texans fans bought up tickets. Good practice for this week’s visit to Seattle.
6) Bengals—Ran into a buzzsaw last week in Foxboro, they need to put it behind them and beat the Panthers this week. That’s what good teams do.
5) Patriots—You think Brady throws stuff at his TV every time Wes Welker catches a pass in Denver? Why don’t the Pats have better receivers?
4) Eagles—Offense isn’t same as it was last year; they miss DeSean Jackson, but 4-1 is 4-1 and only loss was at San Francisco. Kelly is a coaching pioneer; other teams are starting to mimic some of the unique stuff his teams do.
3) Broncos—I’d like to see an ESPN piece where they find Dick Butkus, Ronnie Lott and Jack Lambert, great defensive players. Ask them what their reaction would be if their team was losing 41-20 with 2:00 left and starting QB of the other team threw a pass on the first play after 2:00 warning. Curious what they would say.
2) Seahawks—Can’t remember the same player having three TDs called back by penalties in the same game, the way Percy Harvin did Monday night. Refs held Washington in the game for a long time, but Seattle was still good enough to win and cover the spread.
1) Chargers—Spanking teams right now and Rivers is on top of his game, despite using three different centers in five games and with several RBs out hurt. AFC West is going to be interesting.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Must’ve been fun to be in Oxford, MS Saturday night, especially when they paraded the goal posts from the football field down Main Street after Ole Miss beat Alabama. Rebels go to Texas A&M Saturday after Aggies got drilled in Starkville; tough job for Ole Miss coaches to get ready for that game after such a big win.
12) Hugh Freeze is the Ole Miss football coach; had forgotten that he was the high school coach in book/movie The Blind Side. Read last night that Ole Miss got a new basketball practice facility; the father in The Blind Side, Sean Touhy, played PG for Ole Miss and does some TV work for the Memphis Grizzlies. He helped fund the practice facility. It’s a small world in some of these college communities.
11) I like to watch ESPN and FOX on Thursday/Friday to get insights on the week’s college games, but I was disappointed listening to Brian Griese/Mark May in the studio last week, when May picked LSU to beat Auburn and Griese laughed, telling the host “You can tell when he doesn’t believe one of his picks” then explained how. If guys are going on TV and making up stuff just so the two experts disagree for the sake of argument, then they’re wasting my time. I want honest opinions, not contrived “disagreements”. Not good.
10) Tom Brady is 3-2 in Super Bowls; the five games were decided by a total of 16 points.
9) There are five D-I basketball teams who have been D-I for long time and have yet to play in an NCAA tournament: Army, Citadel, Northwestern, St Francis (NY), and William & Mary.
8) Russell Wilson ran ball for 122 yards Monday night, most ever by a QB in the 699-game history of Monday Night Football. Seattle has a huge edge with its salary cap, not having to pay Wilson yet; they have a big-time QB making less than $1M. That’s going to change after this season.
7) Why are Old Dominion and Rice in the same conference? Texas Tech and West Virginia? Maryland and Nebraska? Tulane and UConn? How do kids learn geography these days?
6) They’re adding 5-on-5 scrimmages to the NBA Draft Combine next spring. My question is this: How could you have a combine without watching guys play 5-on-5 basketball? What genius came up with that idea? Oy. At least it is fixed now.
5) There are 15 basketball teams in the ACC this winter, which is too many; an odd number is untenable. 7 of those 15 teams used to play in the Big East. An ACC without Maryland is just weird.
4) NL playoff games are on FOX Sports 1, a station not everyone gets. Guy I know is a Dodger fan and has to go out to watch the games. What is baseball thinking about hiding their playoff games? Does partnering with FOX help baseball?
3) FOX actually has a camera imbedded in the ground in front of home plate in the Dodger series, in fair territory. It provides some interesting shots; wonder how much it costs if the camera gets hit by a ball or stepped on and breaks?
2) When John Lackey got traded to St Louis, he wanted to wear number 41, but reliever Pat Neshek already had the number. Negotiations ensued, with Lackey finally getting #41, and Neshek getting a Babe Ruth-autographed baseball.
That has to be worth some serious money. Well, serious money for me, maybe not for them.
1) If you care about such things, 13 of 16 NFL primetime games have gone over the total so far this season.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Friend of mine who played a ton of football in his life had this comment about Peyton Manning throwing the ball with a 41-20 lead at the 2:00 warning Sunday: “If you don’t like it, play harder.” I defer to his opinion, seeing as he knows more football than anyone I know, and is an Arizona Cardinal fan.
12) Broncos saved $3.25M on next year’s salary cap by dumping kicker Prater now; they also had to give Giants a 7th-round draft pick for Brandon McManus, their new kicker. Had they cut McManus, Giants would’ve gotten bupkus, but they dealt McManus to Denver because they thought the Eagles were going to sign him if he was available and they didn’t want that.
11) Detroit Lions are 4-12 on field goals this year (0-6 from 40-49 yards) and they play home games in a dome; they should’ve signed Prater before this even gets posted. We’ll see.
10) Cal 60, Washington State 59— Wazzu QB Connor Halliday was 49-74 for a I-A record 734 yards passing late Saturday, but the Coogs lost when they missed a 19-yard FG at the gun. How do you gain over 800 yards in regulation and lose?
Cal ran two kicks bad for TDs in this game; Washington State fired its special teams coach on Monday- the defensive coordinator was spared.
9) Florida 10, Tennessee 9—This game was painful to watch, like watching two tired, drunken fighters try to land a haymaker on the other. Tennessee has an excuse, they’re a very young team. Florida is just ugly to watch and now that QB Murphy has been accused in an off-field incident, they might be even worse moving forward. SEC is not deep at all at quarterback.
8) Thru five games, Eagles have 11 offensive TDs and seven return TDs. Lot of teams don’t get seven return TDs in an entire season. Philly blocked punt for a TD on opponents’ first possession in each of their last two games.
7) This from Manish Mehta of New York Daily News, written before Sunday’s debacle in San Diego:
“(Jets GM John) Idzik works under rolling deadlines, apparently immune or oblivious to the realities of frustrated PSL owners doling out big money for a diminished product. The Jets have the sixth-highest average non-premium ticket price in the NFL ($105.66), 25% more than the league average ($84.43), according to teammarketingreport.com, yet the team has the lowest cash payroll ($95.2 million), according to spotrac.com.”
6) Syracuse lost its last three games to Maryland-Notre Dame-Louisville, so a scapegoat had to be found; it is OC George McDonald, who is now former OC. Tim Lester takes his place calling plays; good luck there, with starting QB Terrel Hunt now out 4-6 weeks with a broken leg.
5) Mike Scifres has been the Chargers’ punter for 12 years now; he’s appeared in 171 career games. He punted in college at Western Illinois, but when he was in high school in Louisiana, he was his team’s kicker, but not its punter.
How many NFL punters didn’t punt in high school? His team’s punter by the way, was future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.
4) Six QB’s were drafted ahead of Tom Brady in 2000. Six. Check the table up above for details, but if you think scouting/drafting is an exact science, think again.
3) It should be noted that when the 49ers drafted Joe Montana in the 3rd round in 1979, Bill Walsh preferred his old Stanford QB Steve Dils to Montana. 49er scouting guru Vinny Cerrano got the last word, though and Niners drafted Montana. Lucky for them.
2) Yusmiero Petit has had an interesting season; not only was he the winning pitcher in the 2nd-ever 18-inning playoff game (throwing 6.1 scoreless innings) he also set a major league record earlier this summer when he retired 47 consecutive batters, an obscure but very cool record.
1) So who knew that through five weeks, the Cleveland Browns would be the NFL’s most interesting team? All four of their games have seen winning points score in the last 1:09 of the game and all without Johnny Manziel doing one significant thing, other than congratulating his teammates. And making Snickers commercials.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday.....
13) Panthers 31, Bears 24-- Chicago turned ball over on its last three possessions, all inside its own 35, as they blew a 21-7 lead, with 21 of 31 Carolina points coming in last 5:00 of each half. Panthers also ran a punt back for a TD.
12) Browns 29, Titans 28-- Cleveland won after trailing 28-3; they scored first TD with 0:12 left in first half, starting biggest comeback ever by an NFL road team. All three Browns' games have been decided in last 1:09. Jake Locker got hurt, Tennessee had only one QB for rest of the game. NFL teams need to be able to dress a 3rd QB for every game, for emergencies-- would make the game better.
Titans went for it on 4th-and-1 from their own 44 with 3:08 left, when they led by six points. With a backup QB who doesn't run. It didn't turn out well.
11) Eagles 34, Rams 28-- Jeff Fisher inherited a dumpster fire from his incompetent predecessor; in 2+ years since, he's upgraded the talent base, but now his team is so young, they constantly make stupid mistakes and shoot themselves in the foot. So far this season, Rams have 305 penalty yards; their opponents have 105.
10) Giants 30, Falcons 20-- Matt Ryan has now lost his last nine outdoor games; he was 2-of-8 for 44 yards and an interception on throws 15+ yards downfield, no bueno. Giants have won three in row after an 0-2 start, but Manning still looks uncomfortable moving out of pocket. Big game in Philly Thursday.
9) Saints 37, Buccaneers 31 OT-- Home side won all five Saint games so far; Bucs led 31-20 with 10:00 left, but Brees threw for 371 yards and Tampa had 113 yards in penalties. Saints ran 86 plays for 511 yards; it is very rare for an NFL team to have 86 snaps in one game.
8) Cowboys 20, Texans 17 OT-- Dallas ran the ball on 22 of 32 first down plays in this game, with Murray gaining 93 of his 136 yards on 1st down. Underdogs are now 26-8 vs spread in Cowboy home games in Garrett era; he is 6-21 as a home favorite. TV networks have to be thrilled that public favorite Cowboys are 4-1.
7) Bills 17, Lions 14-- Buffalo players carried DC Schwartz (former Lion HC) off on shoulders after this win; Lions were just 1-11 on 3rd down, were outgained by 80 yards in Orton's first start as Buffalo QB. Detroit led 14-0 early after a defensive TD, but offense was held scoreless by Schwartz' defense for last three quarters, due to three missed FGs by Detroit kicker Henery, who might not be the kicker by the time you read this.
6) Colts 20, Ravens 13-- Indy outgained Ravens 422-287, Baltimore was just 1-11 on third down. Score could've been bigger had Colts not turned ball over twice in red zone- they had 12-yard edge in field position. Thru first four weeks, there had been 90 defensive holding calls; thru four weeks in 2013, there had been 38.
5) Steelers 17, Jaguars 9-- Pittsburgh had been 0-8 vs spread in last eight tries as road favorite of 6+ points; McCain's pick-6 with 11:32 left provided final margin of victory.
Jaguars are now 0-5 vs spread, but they have showed some life in last two games. Hard to win playing a rookie QB.
4) Broncos 41, Cardinals 20-- Arizona rookie QB Thomas made NFL debut; weird stat line, going 1-8 passing, with only completion an 81-yard TD to Ellington. Now Arizona could be down to #3 QB, and they've already had their bye. You knew the bye would help Denver, now that Welker is back on board.
3) 49ers 22, Chiefs 17-- Candlestick was tough place to kick, but Dawson booted five FGs, as Levi's Field is more kicker-friendly. as Niners pulled off a fake punt on the drive where they went ahead 17-16. When a team kicks five FGs it means their offense is struggling in red zone.
2) Chargers 31, Jets 0-- Total yardage: 439-151. Jets' longest play was 13 yards; they played 34-year Vick at QB in second half. Talk radio in NYC should be lot of fun Monday. San Diego might be best team in NFL so far. If I owned the Jets, I'd ask my GM why we never have good receivers, as in, ever?
1) Patriots 43, Bengals 17-- Cincinnati was in wrong place at wrong time Sunday; this will be best game Pats play all year. NE ran ball for 220 yards; Bengals were 0-7 on third down, lost three fumbles. If they play in January, Bengals will win.
Sunday's List of 13: Summarizing a super sports Saturday.......
Damn, what a day.........
13) This week was the second time ever (Nov 4, 1990 was the other), that four of the country's top six teams lost in the same week. Back then, Virginia was #1, Illinois was #5. Times have changed.
12) Ole Miss 23, Alabama 17-- Crimson Tide scored a defensive TD with 0:42 left in first half to take a 14-3 lead; Ole Miss looked dead at that point, but they rallied to score two TDs in last 5:30 for the win. Ole Miss and Miss State had never both been 4-0 in the same season- now they're both 5-0.
11) TCU 37, Oklahoma 33-- Horned Frogs survived three turnovers, 12 penalties to gets its biggest win since joining the Big X. TCU led 14-0 early; winning TD was an INT return for a TD with 14:12 left. Frogs converted 10 of 18 on third down.
10) Mississippi State 48, Texas A&M 31-- Probably best sports day in history of the Magnolia State; Bulldogs ran ball for 289 yards, passed for 270. Only 11 of 77 plays that State ran came on third down. SEC is a meat grinder.
9) Notre Dame 17, Stanford 14-- Irish drove 65 yards in nine plays in 2:00 in the rain to pull this game out, scoring winning TD with 1:10 left. Penalties in this game: Stanford: 9-66. Notre Dame: 1-10. Purely a coincidence, I'm sure.
8) Auburn 41, LSU 7-- Auburn gained 566 yards and crushed an LSU team that is deficient at QB right now. Two of the previous three teams to beat LSU by at least 21 points won the national championship: Florida in '08, Alabama in '11.
7) Giants 2, Nationals 1 (18)-- Rookie manager Matt Williams took Zimmerman out with two out in 9th inning, when he was pitching a 3-hit shutout but after he walked a hitter, with Buster Posey coming up. Zimmerman had retired 20 batters in a row before the walk. 3.5 hours later, Washington lost and heads west down two games to none.
Side note: There have been two 18-inning games in playoff history; Tim Hudson started both of them, the other coming in 2005.
6) Miami O 42, UMass 41-- Minutemen led 41-21 at halftime, but didn't score in the second half and lost to a Red Hawks squad that had lost 21 games in a row. Oy.
5) Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 14-- Badgers have inexplicably lost their last four visits to Evanston. Badgers had 12 completions, four picks. Hard to win when your turnover ratio is -4. Whatever Northwestern pays Pat Fitzgerald, it ain't enough.
4) Kentucky 45, South Carolina 38-- Second week in row Gamecocks lost in 4th quarter after they led by two TDs in last 10:00. Carolina had 32 first downs, gained 500 yards and lost. Kentucky's defense scored the winning TD. South Carolina and Michigan should be matched up in the worst bowl game in December.
3) Utah 30, UCLA 28-- Utes sacked Brett Hundley 10 times, scored winning points with 0:34 left as a wacky Saturday ended with the Bruins losing in the Rose Bowl, a week after Utah lost to Washington State as a 14-point favorite. I spend a lot of my time researching this stuff and on Sunday mornings, much of it makes no sense.
2) Utah State 35, BYU 20 (Friday)-- BYU lost QB Hill for year (broken leg), as the Aggies beat BYU for just the second time in last 14 meetings. State QB Garretson is grandson of former NBA ref Darrell Garretson, nephew of ref Ron Garretson.
1) Arizona State 38, USC 34-- ASU QB Mike Bercovici will probably never play in the NFL; hell, if Taylor Kelly hadn't gotten hurt, he may never have started a college game, but Bercovici was 27-45 for 510 yards against USC in the Coliseum, passing for two TDs in the last 2:43, as ASU stunned the Trojans on a 46-yard TD pass on the last play of the game. Good for him.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Arizona 31, Oregon 24—Big upset late Thursday night, shakes up the college football picture. Rich Rodriguez is a very good coach, who like Brady Hoke now, got run out of Michigan after a fairly short tenure, which is Arizona’s gain. His teams score a lot of points and they win.
This I will never forget and it says a lot about RichRod: he worked on a studio show at CBS College Sports after he got canned at Michigan. He is a good natured guy on air, but apparently was so beloved by his broadcast partners that when he left for Arizona, the first show they did without him, they left his chair empty on set during the show, part of which was a lengthy interview with him from Tucson.
You never see anything like that on TV. Quite to a tribute to someone they obviously hold in very high esteem.
12) This is graphic evidence that the Patriots are struggling on offense: On first drive of each half this season, eight drives, New England has run a total of 28 plays for 65 yards, with no points scored. No bueno.
11) Average number of replay challenges per team this baseball season: 34.4. Cubs (57) challenged the most plays, Oakland (26) challenged the least.
10) Thursday night NFL scores since Week 2: 26-6, 56-14, 45-14, 42-10. Football was not meant to be played on four days’ rest. If they insist on playing Thursday games, NFL should make it so teams coming off a bye play on Thursday, to help make their product more watchable. If I turn an NFL game off to watch a Central Florida-Houston college game, their product has a problem.
9) I got the IPhone6 Thursday; its very thin, lot lighter, much bigger screen. Apple Store is always an experience; I was in line (yes they still have lines!!!) behind the wife of a guy I played Little League with. Small world. Apple employees have always been nothing but nice to me and they’re very smart and helpful.
8) Good news: ESPN signed Dick Vitale thru 2017.
Bad news: ESPN signed Jay Bilas thru 2023.
More good news: My TV has a mute button.
7) Speaking of ESPN, they signed Jim Calhoun as a game analyst; he could become college hoop’s version of Ozzie Guillen, someone who has good stuff to say but you can’t understand a damn word he says.
6) Red Sox players got roughly $307K per man last year when they won the World Series. For guys who make the minimum salary, that’s a lot of money. To Clayton Kershaw or Albert Pujols? Not so much.
5) Speaking of which, 12 of the 25 guys on the Angels’ ALDS roster spent some time at AAA Salt Lake City this season. That surprised me.
4) Butler basketball coach Brandon Miller took a medical leave of absence this week; we hope he feels better soon and gets back on the bench. Butler’s upward move from the Horizon to the Big East hasn’t worked well, either for the school or the league.
3) Obscure stat of the day: Rod Smith holds the NFL record (849) for receptions by a player who wasn’t drafted. Wes Welker (847) figures to pass him this weekend. Welker wasn’t drafted, but how many guys like Welker (Decker, Amendola, Edelman) are on NFL rosters because they remind scouts of Welker?
2) Underrated bad job: window washer. You go up on this scaffolding, sometimes pretty high and wash windows on outside of tall buildings. It gets windier sometimes the higher you get and there’s not a lot of protection up there. Was watching guys do that the other day and I thanked the good Lord that wasn’t me up there.
1) Detroit Lions are leading the NFL in defense; last time the Lions led the NFL in defense for a whole season was 1962.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend....
13) Alex Smith was dumped by San Francisco after going 19-5-1 as starting QB in 2011-12; now he returns to he Bay Area as QB of the resurgent Chiefs. You gotta believe this game means an awful lot to Smith, more than a normal game.
12) Alabama has treated Ole Miss like a piñata for years, but now ESPN Gameday will be in Oxford Saturday and Rebels think they’ve got a shot to win the SEC West for the first time. We’ll see about that.
11) Lions fired Jim Schwartz after last season; now he returns to Motor City as the Buffalo DC; much like Alex Smith, think this game means extra to him? Curious to see how Buffalo's defense works to contain Matthew Stafford's passing game.
10) Nebraska-Michigan State is an early big game in the Big 14; Spartans’ rise to prominence has coincided with Michigan spiraling into mediocrity. Good road test for the Cornhuskers.
9) Feel strongly that we’ll see the Patriots’ best effort Sunday vs Cincinnati; now it is debatable what that best effort will be- they looked so slow Monday night in Kansas City. Bengals are a road favorite in Foxboro in Week 5? Takes a leap of faith to back the Patriots, but they’ve earned that; will be interesting game to watch.
8) LSU is a 9-point dog at Auburn; the SEC West is totally loaded, every team is good. Not sure LSU is mature enough at QB to get this road win.
7) College basketball practice begins this weekend; we’ve started preparation for the season, with games starting in about five weeks.
6) Falcons’ defense has been terrible in their two road losses; now they visit Giant team that had 10 days to prepare for this after two strong efforts that evened their record at 2-2.
5) Haven’t heard much from TCU since they joined the Big X; small fish in big ponds don’t get noticed as much. Oklahoma visits Fort Worth this weekend; good chance for the Horned Frogs to get noticed.
4) Unbeaten Cardinals are 7-point dog in Denver, where they’re winless in four trips. Both sides are coming off byes. Doesn’t sound good for Carson Palmer’s arm; he was going to a different doctor for tests on it this week.
3) 3-1 Houston visits 3-1 Dallas, in battle of Texas. Cowboys have been running ball well; not sure how healthy Arian Foster or Andre Johnson are, which hamstrings the Houston offense. When will Ryan Mallett become the Houston QB?
2) Baseball playoffs have four series going on this weekend; the two AL series have managing mismatches, as Showalter has edge over Detroit’s rookie manager Ausmus, and Scioscia is light years better than Ned Yost as a skipper. Players still decide the outcome, but having en edge on the bench doesn’t hurt.
1) Redskins turned ball over six times in their last game, a horrible home loss to the Giants; now the defending champ Seahawks come to town with a better defense. Kirk Cousins better step up his game, or else. As for the proposed FCC ban on the name “Redskins” , whatever happened to free speech in this country?
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) For the record, I think one-game Wild Card thing in baseball is a great idea; there has to be an advantage for winning the division, and this provides it. The Wild Card itself helps keep September a relevant month, so all in all, they’ve improved the game this way.
12) That said, MLB needs to be careful about making rule changes to speed up the game; media whiners have too loud a voice in all this. I love watching baseball, don’t want to see the game screwed up just to chop 8-10 minutes off the average game.
Limiting visits to the mound would be an excellent step; having less TV commercials would be even better, but that has no chance of happening. The pitchless intentional walk won’t shorten a game by very much.
The playoff game on Tuesday night was an exciting, thrilling contest with great meaning; I doubt anyone complained that it took a long time to play.
11) Jon Gruden will have his pick of coaching jobs if/when he decides to get back in; if you were him, would the Raiders’ job be the one you chose? Me either.
10) NBA guard Nate Robinson is opening a chicken ‘n waffles restaurant in Seattle; I’ve never had chicken and waffles at the same time, but since I like both of them, they would be good together, right? Would have to keep the maple syrup away from the chicken, though.
9) Clippers-Nuggets have an exhibition game at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in a couple weeks; I've been to one of those preseason games in Vegas and the crowd is almost as fun to watch as the game, especially with the Clippers having some high profile stars on their team.
8) The more you read about the NBA, the more you realize Doc Rivers is a players’ coach, sometimes cancelling practice during the season because he thinks players would be better off with fresher legs than more practice.
Now he’s having training camp in Las Vegas; couldn’t see Hubie Brown or Gregg Popovich having his training camp in Las Vegas.
7) No major league ballclub won or lost 100+ games this season, only the 4th time that’s happened in the last fifty years.
6) Apparently Lebron James and Mike Miller are good buddies and Lebron wasn’t happy when the Heat cut Miller last year, even though they saved $17M in luxury taxes by doing so. Lebron bolted Miami for Cleveland and lo and behold, Miller is a Cavalier now. Go figure.
5) Bill Belichick will get in the Hall of Fame as a coach, but you look at these Patriots and you realize he’s a cruddy general manager. In football, with so many injuries, the personnel guy is vital to a team’s success. Just like Jerry Jones in Dallas, personnel is not Belichick’s strong suit.
4) 1st and Loud, the reality show about the arena football team in Los Angeles, has become painful to watch, with the LA Kiss on their way to an incredibly bad season, filled with dissension and stupid decisions and two co-owners who know nothing about football and a third who is a genuine nitwit.
The 4th co-owner looks like John Elway and appears to have a clue, but he also seems to have less influence than the main partner, who is a micromanaging jackass. Quick example so you know I’m not making this up: he ordered the coach to onside kick after every score in one game. Spoiler alert: it didn’t go well.
3) Downloaded the Blue Ribbon Yearbook on my IPad this week, so I’ve started preparation for college hoop season. For $17, it’s a great bargain. The actual paper copy of Blue Ribbon will be here in a few weeks.
2) Wednesday would’ve been a good day to put on the shades, cover myself in towels and vegetate by the pool, any pool in Las Vegas. Just disappear from the world for the day, shut my mind off, have a cold drink and chill. We all need days like that now and then; at least I’ve got a trip to Vegas scheduled for next month, but pools will be closed by then.
1) Elias Sports Bureau points out that NFL games in Week 4 were decided by an average of 17.6 points, third highest average of any week in the last 25 years. For all the off-court drama the NFL is going thru, they better keep an eye on their actual product, which has slipped some with teams not allowed to practice as much as in the past.
Wednesday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL......
32) Raiders (0-4)-- When you fire your coach (by telephone) four games into the season when you’re starting a rookie QB, you’re the worst team in the league. Good news; they won’t lose this week, its their bye week.
31) Jaguars (0-4)—Saw reason for optimism with rookie QB Bortles in his first start, but the defense needs work; Chargers easily could’ve scored 50 points against them Sunday- they kicked FG on all four red zone drives. .
30) Titans (1-3)—Three lopsided losses since opening win, Locker is hurt already. Look for LSU rookie Mettenberger to emerge as their #1 QB.
29) Jets (1-3)—Vikings are only NFC North team that hasn’t beaten them and that is only because they haven’t played yet. If Geno Smith doesn’t stop turning ball over, he’s going to be playing for a new coach and GM next season.
28) Rams (1-2)—Blew 21-point lead at home to Dallas is Week 3; am encouraged by new QB Austin Davis, but at some point, this group needs to learn how to win.
8) Ravens (3-1)—Pitta’s injury is big blow to offense that likes tight ends to catch the ball. Imagine the media’s outrage if Ray Rice somehow gets reinstated? The Internet might implode.
7) Cowboys (3-1)—Jones Family could be unusual; son Steven might be wiser than his old man, who wanted to draft Johnny Manziel. In most of these rich families that own franchises, the kids turn out to be nitwits. Steven Jones is the Dallas voice of reason and they’ve improved.
6) Eagles (3-1)—Have been behind by 10+ points in all three wins; reason for concern that Foles might not finish season behind shaky OL.
5) Broncos (2-1)—The rich get richer: Peyton Manning goes to Denver, buys a few Papa John’s pizza places, marijuana gets legalized in Colorado, and #18 gets even wealthier. I’d say luck favors the prepared, but then you’d think I was talking about the Colts.
4) Seahawks (2-1)—Dicey Monday nighter in nation’s capitol, against Redskin team that turned ball over six times vs Giants last Thursday. Washington is 6-3 in last nine series games; all three losses came in playoffs.
3) Chargers (3-1)—Will be pass-oriented until they get Mathews healthy. Already on their third center this season.
2) Cardinals (3-0)—7-point underdog in Denver this week, despite their unbeaten record. Bruce Arians almost never got a chance to be an NFL head coach; in his 60’s now, he’s proving to be a very good one.
1) Bengals (3-0)—Will get stern test from New England Sunday night in Foxboro, after Patriots’ debacle in Arrowhead. Not ready to bury Pats yet; Cincy will get their best shot this week.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) Arizona/Cincinnati is your unlikely “last unbeaten NFL team” quinella for this year, and both will be underdogs this week, the Cardinals in Denver, the Bengals in Foxboro Sunday nite. Could’ve made a lot of money betting on that this summer.
12) Speaking of the Bengals, they’re 93-85-1 under Marvin Lewis, who catches grief because Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game in his tenure as head coach. Forgotten is fact that the Bengals were 53-124 before Lewis became coach and were pretty much the worst franchise in the league. The man is underpaid and I have no idea how much he makes.
11) In two road games, Falcons allowed 12.6 and 10.6 ypg thru the air, in losses by 13-14 points. First team to win a couple road games might win the slog that is the NFC South.
10) Jets are 43rd team since 1992 to play three consecutive non-conference games, so it happens about twice a year. They’re the 9th of those 43 teams to lose all three games. Jets are back in AFC this week, out in San Diego.
9) Chargers are down to their #3 center, which leads to a botched snap here and there; it hurt them twice in the red zone against Jacksonville, but they’re so much better than the Jags, it didn’t factor in the outcome. It could against the Jets this week.
8) Teams with a +2 or better turnover ratio were 9-0 SU this past week, are 29-4 for the season.
7) Weird hearing Deion Sanders bash Jim Harbaugh, saying there are playing with the 49ers “who want him out” as head coach. Harbaugh is 38-13-1 with the 49ers, 2-2 this year; better be careful before you run a successful guy of town; chances are the next guy ain’t going 38-13.
6) Mack Brown-to-SMU rumors are all over the place; coaching can be addictive, the competition, the challenge of recruiting and trying to prove that you’re not too old to do the job. SMU has resources; they should be much better than they are and Brown can recruit. This could be interesting.
5) New Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer is richest owner in North American team sports, which is part of why he overpaid to buy the Clippers. He is also the former head of Microsoft who will ease Apple products out of his organization. I’d be lost without my IPhone, guess I won’t be working for the Clippers anytime soon.
4) It is alarming that in the preseason rankings for college rifle shooting, Army is ranked 9th; shouldn’t they be first, like, always?
3) Cal Bears are tightening their academic requirements for athletes, which means basketball coach Cuonzo Martin picked a bad time to jump from Tennessee to Berkeley. You think USC, UCLA or Arizona is doing that? Oregon? Ha!!!! There are so many gifted basketball players who fit into the high academic model.
2) Twins fired Ron Gardenhire Monday; I once got yelled at by a Twins’ fan in Las Vegas for suggesting that Gardenhire might be a good manager. This guy had specific examples of why he was terrible and this was 3-4 years ago. That man, who was a friend of a friend but not someone I knew, is probably a little happier today.
1) Underrated bad job: Customer service phone rep. I listened to a woman I work with shred a phone operator this morning, just rip her, then she called back twice more and did it again, with other operators. Must be fun making not much money to get yelled at all day. Wonder how many times they get thanked for their efforts.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Giants 45, Redskins 14-- Jersey Giants evened record with six takeaways that led to 31 points; they had an amazing 25-yard edge in field position, with four of six TD drvies starting in Redskin territory. Kirk Cousins had a rough night.
12) Dolphins 38, Raiders 14-- In 11 games other than this one this weekend, there were an average of 4.09 first downs via penalty, as the NFL insists on ticky-tack calls vs defensive players. In the London game, trying to impress a new audience with its product, there was one such call. Coincidence? I don't think so.
11) Packers 38, Bears 17-- R-E-L-A-X. This was only the second NFL game ever (Bills-49ers in '92) with no punts. Bears gained 446 yards, had great balance and lost by three TDs. Green Bay had 24-yard edge in field position; only eight of their 47 plays were on third down.
10) Texans 23, Bills 17-- Houston was -3 in turnovers before JJ Watt took an INT 80 yards back for TD that swung this game. Kicker Bullock made two 50+-yard FGs as Ryan Fitzpatrick got a win against his old team. Not real impressed by EJ Manuel at QB for the Bills.
9) Colts 41, Titans 17-- How has Charlie Whitehurst lasted this long in the NFL? He's terrible and with starting QB Locker getting hurt a lot, Titans may wind up with LSU rookie Mettenberger under center- they've lost three in row since Opening Day win at Arrowhead. Luck passed for 393 yards in this game.
8) Ravens 38, Panthers 10-- Second straight tank job by Carolina, which gave up seven catches, 139 yards and two TDs to old friend Steve Smith. Newton isn't 100% healthy, not close and Carolina doesn't have a bye until Week 12. Not good. Worst news for Carolina? They gave up 10.5 yards per pass attempt.
7) Lions 24, Jets 17-- Next coach of the Jets will have an offensive background; it would be nice if the team's GM got him a WR or two who could get open and catch the ball. Not sure why they went out and got Michael Vick if they're not going to play him. Maybe his running could provide a change of pace.
6) Buccaneers 27, Steelers 24-- Antonio Brown caught seven balls for 131 yards and two TDs, but dropped a bomb on a flea-flicker that would've broken game open when Steelers led 24-20. Ton of survival pools bit the dust here, when Glennon led winning TD drive (only 46 yards) in last minute.
5) Chargers 33, Jaguars 14-- San Diego scored 33 points despite scoring only 12 points in four trips to red zone; thought rookie QB Bortles played well in his first start, but this game was a mismatch when San Diego had the ball. Chargers will be one-dimensional until RB Mathews gets healthy.
4) 49ers 26, Eagles 21-- Before this game, the last 73 NFL teams who scored three return TDs in a game were 71-1-1; problem is, Iggle offense scored zero points, did not try to run ball in from 2-yard line when they had a chance to take lead late in game. 49ers had their usual ten penalties; rumors persist there people in their inner circle who want Harbaugh gone. Damn, he's won a lot of games.
3) Vikings 41, Falcons 28-- Since when does a team score 41 points in a rookie QB's first career start? Minnesota racked up 558 yards, running for 242, as Atlanta is now 0-2 on road, losing by 13-14 points. Bridgewater sprained his ankle, but said he'll play Thursday against the Packers.
2) Cowboys 38, Saints 17-- Putrid performance by New Orleans, which lost eight of its last nine road games. Game was 31-3 before Saints made brief run to make it interesting, but Dallas OL controlled this game. Saints' only win was lackluster 20-9 game with Minnesota last week; there is reason to be concerned.
1) Heading into the Monday night game at Arrowhead, favorites are 7-4-1 so far this week, home teams are 6-5-1, over is 9-3.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) Minnesota 30, Michigan 14-- First it was RichRod, now Brady Hoke who figures to have a short tenure in Ann Arbor; the guy had an unbeaten season at Ball State, for chrissakes, he is a good coach, but its not working at Michigan. The next coach needs to recruit a good passer (10-25 for 88 yards passing in this game).
The guy who played QB for Hoke at Ball State (Nate Davis) was ten times better than his QBs now. Think about that; players win games, and get coaches fired.
12) More attention needs to be paid to National Signing Day in February; that is where future games are won and lost, but it gets buried in the headlines. Texas took a pass on RGIII, Aaron Rodgers had no D-I offers out of high school. Oy.
11) Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 OT-- Razorbacks have lost 14 consecutive SEC games; Bret Bielema is great for hanging 73 points on Nicholls State or 81 on Indiana, but how about winning a close game? Beat a quality opponent.
10) Akron 21, Pitt 10; Colorado State 24, Boston College 21. Syracuse lost to Notre Dame. Tough day for the ACC, a day that could hurt them when the teams for the national championship playoff are announced.
9) Washington State 28, Utah 27-- Utes won at Michigan last week, had 24-7 lead at half in this one, as Twitterverse was crushing Mike Leach, but his Coogs rallied to win, hitting an 81-yard TD pass with 4:58 left for the winning score. First two Utah scores were by the defense and a punt return.
8) Missouri 21, South Carolina 20-- Gmecocks took 20-7 lead with 7:20 left, then gave up two TDs in last 6:49 for a really bad home loss. Mizzou was just 2-16 on third down, completed 12 of 34 passes- those aren't winning numbers.
7) Peter Kostis of CBS points out that since PGA Tour/TV created the President's Cup, which runs in years where there is no Ryder Cup, Europe has won seven of nine Ryder Cups. Maybe they just take it more seriously.
6) Bowling Green 47, UMass 42-- Both QBs threw 60+ times, the video board at UMass collapsed, total of 200 offensive plays were run. UMasss passed for 589 yards and lost. Bowling Green was 10-23 on third down. Fun game.
5) California 59, Colorado 56 OT-- Golden Bears gave up 36 points in fourth quarter at Arizona last week; their fans are aging rapidly, but less so when you win. Colorado had 39 first downs but lost; don't see that a lot.
4) Clemson 50, North Carolina 35-- Tar Heels gave up 120 points in their last two games, giving up 50 here to a freshman QB. I hope LT isn't betting on his alma mater; Tar Heels also had 130 yards in penalties.
3) Georgia 35, Tennessee 32-- Better kick the Vols this year, because this team is a power in the making; would've won this game if Worley hadn't missed a quarter-- as soon as he came back, they moved the ball again.
2) Western Kentucky 36, Navy 27-- Hilltoppers threw ball 54 times, Navy only 15, in battle of opposite styles. Navy ran for 412 yards but lost.
Why do teams have so many different styles of uniforms? Nebraska had god-awful throwback uniforms on this week-- where does the money for that come from?
1) Florida State 56, NC State 41-- Wolfpack led 24-7 early, 38-28 in third quarter, but Seminoles have too many good players right now. Winston isn't ready for the NFL yet, but it is easy to visualize bolting school as soon as he can. Hope not.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) In last seven years, Clint Hurdle brought the Colorado Rockies to a World Series and the Pirates to the playoffs. Twice. Think about that for a second. He’s a damn good manager.
12) Cubs had their lowest home attendance since 1998 this season; I can see why they traded Hammel/Samardzija, just mystified why they didn’t get pitching back in the trade. Not sure how they will get their starting rotation up to a level that will allow them to contend anytime soon.
All their prospects except for Kris Bryant are middle infielders and Bryant plays 3B, so you can’t move any of the other prospects there.
11) Greedy bastard update: Out west they’re selling two seats from old Candlestick Park for $750, while back east one of Derek Jeter’s game worn socks is going for $409. Not a pair of socks, one sock. Anyone who pays $409 for one sock deserves their name to be published so they can be mocked publicly.
10) Ryder Cup golfers don’t get paid, but they get $200K apiece for their favorite charity; I’m told their various sponsors also reward them for the added exposure they’ll get this weekend. Golf is nothing if not big business.
9) Had no plans to watch the Ryder Cup this weekend, until I found out they were on TV live at 3am. Live events at 3am are right in my wheelhouse. As recently as 1989, no networks televised the Ryder Cup; it was an obscure event on the USA Network, which also shows the WWE and dog shows. Ryder Cup has come a long way since then.
8) Diamondbacks fired Kirk Gibson Friday, which was an odd marriage to begin with, seeing as Gibson's famous homer in 1988 came against Tony Larussa's best Oakland team. Bench coach Alan Trammell also got a pink slip.
7) ESPN’s Danny Kanell had Oklahoma vs Florida State, Oregon vs Alabama as his prospective playoff matchups, if those playoffs started this week. We’ll see more of this as the clock ticks towards the first 4-team college football playoff.
6) RIP Caldwell Jones, who died this week at age 64. Very good basketball player, was a pro hooper for 17 years; he also had three brothers who played in the NBA.
5) Why does Eldrick Woods need a golf coach? As the great pitcher Bob Gibson once told a catcher who visited his mound, “…....the only thing you know about pitching is that you can’t hit it.”
Woods should be able to coach himself; his biggest question is this: are his ailments more physical or mental? Does he still have the desire/physical ability to practice well so he can play great?
4) Phil Hughes missed a $500K bonus by one-third of an inning Wednesday; apparently he turned down the chance to pitch this weekend, so he could make the extra half-mil. Hughes is signed up at $8M a year thru 2016, so his family will still eat, just too bad he missed out on the bonus by only one batter.
3) If you care about such things, thru three weeks, the Raiders (163) have run the least offensive plays of any NFL team.
2) Texas Longhorns already booted nine kids off the team in Charlie Strong’s first season in Austin; you wonder if some downtrodden program could somehow latch on to all nine of those kids, how much would it help/hurt their program? If they signed with Texas, they have to be pretty good players.
1) Want to feel old? Davis Love is on the Seniors Tour now. He’s almost as old as I am!!!!!
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.....
13) Its last weekend of baseball season; the A’s have stumbled down the stretch, thank the lord Seattle has played worse. By Sunday night we should know the Wild Card matchups and how this year’s playoffs will line up. Looks like Pirates-Giants in NL Wild Card; Mariners are still fighting to make it in the AL.
12) Dolphins-Raiders are in London, as somehow Miami has a QB controversy, with coach Philbin refusing to endorse Ryan Tannehill as the long-term starting QB. Teams that play in England have their bye week right after, so Matt Moore could be getting the mod in Week 6, if he Dolphins struggle across the pond.
11) Ticket sales are lagging for Minnesota-Michigan in Ann Arbor, so much so that earlier this week, they were giving you two game tickets if you bought any two Coke items, including 20-ounce sodas. That’s two game tickets for $3.
They stopped it when national media got wind of it, but nothing gets a coach fired than rapidly declining attendance figures, which are attached to winning less.
10) 49ers have been outscored 52-3 in second half in their first three games, now they host the Eagles, who are 3-0 despite training all three games by 10+ points, first team ever to do that. If the 49ers get tired of Jim Harbaugh, the teams listed in notes 11-12 would probably love to take him off the Niners’ hands.
9) Earlier this month, Colorado played at UMass; this week, Colorado State visits Boston College. Why? Long road trips are becoming more common in college football. Has to be pretty expensive. Steve Addazio is doing a solid job rebuilding at BC, by the way.
8) Ryan Fitzpatrick was the Bills’ starting QB for parts of four seasons, now his Houston Texans host the Bills this week, with both teams coming off their first loss this season. Winner of this game will be excited to be 3-1.
7) Steve Spurrier was so annoyed with his kick coverage team last week, he said he’s coaching special teams this week for South Carolina; interesting game with Missouri here. Gamecocks’ defense hasn’t been very good so far. Mizzou got upset at home by Indiana last week, but they can score.
6) Steve Smith’s old team, the Panthers, visit his new team, the Ravens in a battle of teams who both lost a key player via domestic violence issues. Carolina went in the tank in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh last week; with no Ray Rice, doubtful that Baltimore can pound them on the ground the way the Steelers did.
5) North Carolina gave up 70 points at East Carolina last week. 70. Now they go to Clemson, which is coming off a loss to Florida State’s backup QB. Tigers will go with freshman Watson under center; this could get ugly for the Tar Heels, unless they suddenly figure out how to tackle.
4) Florida State @ NC State—Jameis Winston is back playing this week; if I’m Jimbo Fisher, my lecture to ol’ Jameis last week would’ve had two key elements to it: a) When you’ve been cleared of rape charges, try not to yell out sexually explicit rap lyrics in public; people might get the wrong idea. b) Stay the hell off of cafeteria tables; if the table collapses with you on it and you break your arm, we both lose an awful lot of money.
3) When Adrian Peterson’s trial comes up, if I’m a lawyer trying the case, I have to ask prospective jurors if any of them are ticked off at AP because they drafted him in fantasy football and he ruined their team by getting suspended for the year. It’s a fair question; you ruin my fantasy football team, I’ll send your butt to jail, if I can. People can be weird. Vikings host Atlanta this week, by the way, with Falcons having three extra days to prep after their Thursday night win last week.
2) Georgia is 17-point favorite over Tennessee, biggest spread in this rivalry since at least 1980, when Herschel Walker announced his presence with authority by running over Bill Bates on his way to becoming a Bulldog icon. Vols are going to be pretty good eventually, but they’re too young right now.
1) Curious to see how bad New England’s offense is Monday night at Arrowhead. Oakland actually had the tying TD nullified by a penalty in last minute last week, then turned the ball over on the next play. Patriots lost five of their last six visits here, but Belichick is 4-0 vs Andy Reid.
Thursday's List of 13: Our bottom 5, top 8 in NFL.........
32) Buccaneers (0-3)—Get well soon, Jeff Tedford. Aaron Rodgers’ college coach, Bucs’ OC has heart issues, has taken leave from the Bucs, leaving them woefully short in coaching on the offensive side of the ball.
31) Jaguars (0-3)—Blake Bortles gets his first NFL start this week, for a team that was outscored 51-7 in first half of their last two games.
30) Vikings (1-2)-- Adrian Peterson is gone, Cassel (foot) is out for the year, so rookie QB Bridgewater takes over under center. His first start is against the Falcons; tough way to break in.
29) Raiders (0-3)—Had tying TD called back by a penalty in last minute at Foxboro last week; they turned ball over on next play. Are spending this week in England.
28) Titans (1-2)—Have some skilled WRs, but lack QB who can get them the ball; look for LSU rookie Mettenberger to be under center before the year is over.
8) Patriots (2-1)—Apparently I picked the wrong year to draft Tom Brady in fantasy football; could’ve been worse, I could’ve drafted Adrian Peterson.
7) Texans (2-1)—I’m curious how much different coaching in the NFL is as opposed to college. Hopefully someone in national media will do a story about this with Bill O’Brien later this season.
6) Broncos (2-1)—Spray chart of Denver passes Sunday showed great variety of where throws went, covering whole width of field, compared to last year’s Super Bowl, when 80% of throws were in short/middle area.
5) Seahawks (2-1)—They had to be alarmed with how easily Denver scored in last 1:00 of regulation Sunday. NFL teams had been 2 for last 76 trying to score tying TD in that scenario. Offense bailed team out, but Arizona is 3-0 and a legit challenger in NFC West.
4) Chargers (2-1)—Impressive win at Buffalo, could easily be 3-0. Took some injury hits at RB last week; Manti Teo broke his foot, too. Haven’t fared well as double digit favorite; they host Jaguars this week.
3) Cardinals (3-0)—Michigan State (Hoyer-Stanton-Cousins) has most current starting QBs in NFL. You could win a bar bet with that tidbit.
2) Eagles (3-0)—First team in NFL history to start 3-0 when they trailed all three games by 10+ points. Some of defensive players are whining about amount of running team does day before game. No one is whining about being 3-0.
1) Bengals (3-0)—Put their resume under another team’s banner and they’re getting lot more attention than Cincinnati is right now, which can’t bother Marvin Lewis much; media attention is just one more distraction no pro coach needs. In college, at least it helps in recruiting.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) John Calipari and Jim Boeheim are speaking at the same coaching clinic this Saturday here in Albany at the College of St Rose, but they likely won’t cross paths; Boeheim speaks at 9, Calipari at 1.
Billy Donovan, Seth Greenberg and Mike Fratello are also speaking at the event, which is Howard Garfinkel’s annual coaching clinic.
12) Roughly 40 Division I basketball teams took foreign trips this summer; best benefit for coaches, other than team bonding, are the ten extra practices they’re allowed before the trip.
11) Stephen Ross owns the Miami Dolphins; he went to Michigan. So did Jim Harbaugh. Look for the Dolphins to make a serious run at Harbaugh if the Dolphins miss the playoffs, but then again, Michigan could be going after him, too.
10) If Eagles’ QB Nick Foles ever got hurt, how would Mark Sanchez do in Chip Kelly’s offense? He is Philly’s backup QB, after all. Had Sanchez chosen to sign with the Rams over Philly, he’s already be the Rams starter, with Sam Bradford hurt. I’m not complaining; think Austin Davis is doing just fine, but thought Sanchez made a poor choice when choosing teams to sign with.
9) A sporting goods store in Maryland must think a lot of Kirk Cousins; they already have RGIII jerseys listed at 40% off.
8) Lions LB Stephen Tulloch tore his ACL Sunday while celebrating a sack, in a similar injury to when Kendrys Morales broke his ankle after jumping on home plate when he hit a walk-off homer. Tough way for your season to end; weird that an ACL can go so quickly, without contact.
7) Dodger pitcher Dan Haren hit 180-inning plateau Monday night, kicking in his player option for 2015 and earning him a $500,000 bonus. Good night for him.
6) Steve Spurrier was so annoyed that Vanderbilt ran two kicks back for TDs last week, he said he would coach special teams this week. Curious to see if he adds any starters to the coverage teams, or just coaches up the kids who were already there. Doubt special teamers usually get much attention from the Head Ball Coach.
5) Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com came up with a great stat Monday; when Denver drove for the tying TD in the last 0:56 Sunday, they bucked a 2-for-76 skid by NFL teams who trailed by 7 or 8 points with 1:15 or less to play, and had the ball 75+ yards from the goal line. That’s who unusual Denver’s tying drive was, but they never got back on the field to try and win the game.
4) I’m thinking MLB should mirror football and let the manager throw a flag from the dugout to signal that they want a replay review. Would quicken the review process by a little; God knows we don’t want the media having to sit there for five or ten extra minutes every night.
3) Once the QB crosses the line of scrimmage with the ball, he should lose all protection he gets by being a QB. If he’s gaining yards, then he should be fair game to be hit like anyone else gets hit.
2) NFL teams that are minus-2 or worse in turnovers are already 4-20.
1) Cool moment in Texas Monday night, when 13-year minor league veteran Guilder Rodriguez got his first two big league hits, after 4,095 plate appearances in the minor leagues. That’s a long way to wait for the call to the bigs; too bad he won’t get to travel big league-style; Rangers are home all week to finish the season.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) If you’re a major league GM and you give BJ Upton $15M a year and you've traded for Dan Uggla and your team misses the playoffs while the new stadium is being built that you need to sell luxury boxes for, then you get fired.
Frank Wren got the boot in Atlanta Monday; deservedly so. The Upton brothers haven’t worked out well for the Braves; I’m not sure anyone other than Wren thought it would.
12) Braves are 4-15 so far this month, but looks like Fredi Gonzalez gets to keep his job, despite his team scoring 41 runs in their last 21 games. Milwaukee is 9-22 in its last 31 games, another disappointing end to a season. Harder to put a finger on why the Brewers faded down the stretch, other than Carlos Gomez going on the DL for a while.
11) Love watching NFL highlights on Sunday nights, see whatever I missed while flipping between games all day, but the NFL Network show has to be watched with a mute button, since Deion Sanders/Michael Irvin insist on talking over the show’s host while he is narrating highlights. It is not cool, it is not hip, it is just rude and unlistenable. Wait your turn to speak.
10) Bengals, Cardinals are both 3-0 and hot; they probably wish their bye wasn’t until later on this season. Meanwhile, Cam Newton is really banged up and could use a week or two off, but Carolina’s bye isn’t until Week 12.
9) 49ers have been outscored 52-3 in the second half this season; Kaepernick hasn’t improved his accuracy throwing the ball. Teams are trying to contain him and make him beat them with his arm. Would be weird if the Niners parted ways with Jim Harbaugh after this season, but you keep hearing it is a possibility.
8) 49ers have given up the most first downs via penalty (17), followed by the Bills (13) and Pittsburgh (11).
7) Arizona Cardinals have gotten 17 first downs via penalty, most in the NFL, followed by Chicago (13) and Dallas (11). Teams that take shots down the field are drawing valuable flags that gain big chunks of yardage.
6) Speaking of the Cardinals, Bruce Arians is now 22-9 as an NFL head coach; he had to wait a long time to be an NFL head coach, until he was 60. Arians coached Temple for a while, but that was an impossible job. He’s doing a great job in the desert, and he was good as the interim coach in Indianapolis.
5) NFL home favorites are 15-21-1 vs the spread thru three weeks this season.
4) Surprised to see that Green Bay was the only NFL team this week that didn’t have at least one play of 19+ yards. Hard to believe, especially in a dome, against a team they had beaten 13 of last 15 times. Pack’s OL is struggling.
3) As a fan, I’m tired of reading articles that sound like transcripts from Court TV. Tell me what happens on Sunday, tell me who is in and out for this week’s games. Then I’ll watch the games and enjoy them.
Politics/money are front/center here as far as advertisers and where they spend their money; we watch games to get away from that BS.
Media types resent the serious money that Roger Goodell makes as commissioner. Hey, this guy does the owners' bidding-- he works for them and isn't doing a lot on his own. He'll never, ever get fired, ever.
2) Firing Goodell because Adrian Peterson is a child abuser makes no sense; is he in charge of our country’s culture now? I’ve been told by several people that beatings with a switch are fairly common in the southern culture. Maybe the media just needs a scapegoat then will calm down; if so, Goodell would be one of history’s highest-paid scapegoats.
1) Clemson named true freshman Deshaun Watson the Tigers’ starting QB, after Watson came on in relief of senior Cole Stoudt and nearly beat (Jameis Winston-less) Florida State in Tallahassee, completing 19 of 28 passes for 266 yards, running for 30 yards and a touchdown. Stoudt is the son of former Steeler QB Cliff Stoudt.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday....
13) Chargers 22, Bills 10-- Favorites are 8-7 vs spread so far this week, home teams 7-8, over 8-7. There were no turnovers in this game; 11 of 28 teams this week didn't turn the ball over, including both teams in Viking-Saint game.
12) Cowboys 34, Rams 31-- St Louis doesn't know how to win, how to put teams away; they led this game 21-0 in second quarter.
Down at Florida State, Jimbo Fisher described his team this way Saturday night: "They know how to win." Jeff Fisher's team doesn't know how to win, and officials punish teams they perceive as losers.
Penalty yardage in this game: Dallas 15, St Louis 119. 'nuff said.
11) Eagles 37, Redskins 34-- Philly is now first NFL team ever to start 3-0, after trailing by 10+ points in all three games. 65 TDs have been scored do far this week; 35 of them came on drives of 80+ yards. Reducing the influence of the kickoff has made scoring more difficult, creating fewer short fields.
10) Giants 30, Texans 17-- Big Blue scored three TDs, two on 2-29 yard drives; +3 turnover ratio is a winning number, after being -6 in first two games. Giants ran ball for 193 yards, threw it for 223, very good balance- they won field position by 19 yards, a huge advantage.
9) Saints 20, Vikings 9-- New Orleans had ball seven times, starting each drive 80+ yards from goal line; they had only two plays of 20+ yards. Total yardage: 396-247 in favor of Saints. Minnesota lost QB Cassel to toe injury. Rookie Bridgewater was 12-20 for 150 yards coming off the bench.
8) Bengals 33, Titans 7-- Do a blind resume on all 32 teams, and Cincinnati is the best team right now- they've won field position by 11-9-12 yards in three games so far. Tennessee lost last two games by combined 59-17 after winning opener after winning opener in Kansas City.
7) Ravens 23, Browns 21-- All three Cleveland games were decided in last 0:06, but they're 1-12 in last 13 games vs Ravens, who used to call Cleveland home. Funny that the Ravens' owner promised Ray Rice a job after football; that should go over real well in the NFL offices.
6) Lions 19, Packers 7-- Green Bay has issues on offensive line; this is first time Lions have beaten Aaron Rodgers, and they did it with -2 turnover ratio. Lions hit on 11 of 18 third down plays-- their defense scored nine of the 19 points.
5) Colts 44, Jaguars 17-- Jacksonville has cabanas with pools in the end zone boxes at their stadium; they also have a really bad team. Rookie QB Bortles was 14-24/223 in his first extended action-- he'll start for Jags in San Diego next week.
4) Patriots 16, Raiders 9-- NE scored one TD in four red zone drives; they ran ball for only 97 yards, gained less than 300 for game- they're now 1-8 vs spread last nine times they were laying double digits. Raiders, Vikings were only two teams not to score an offensive TD; they both played rookie QB most of the way.
3) Cardinals 23, 49ers 14-- Arizona is 3-0, despite playing backup QB in two of three games. 49ers have been outscored 52-3 in second half of games. Cardinals got seven first downs via penalty in this game, converted 8-13 on third down.
2) Seahawks 26, Broncos 20 OT-- Manning rallied Denver back fron down 17-3 to force OT, but never saw field in OT, as Seattle drove 80 yards for winning TD. This was first time in last 32 games Broncos weren't favored to win. Denver ran ball for only 36 yards. Still amazing that Russell Wilson makes less than $700,000 a year.
1) Chiefs 34, Dolphins 15-- Miami is now 11-30 vs spread in last 41 games as a home favorite; if I had one shot at being an NFL head coach, I'd want my franchise QB to at least know who the teams in the AFC East were. At the start of 2012, if you watched Hard Knocks, Tannehill had no idea, he didn't follow pro football. Oy.
0) Steelers 37, Panthers 19-- Pitt averaged over eight yards a carry in this game, with Bell's 81-yard run their longest since Frenchy Fuqua in 1970. Steelers kicked Carolina's butt physically, plain and simple. Panthers don't have a bye until Week 12; Newton could use some time to heal up.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) Florida State 23, Clemson 17 OT-- Sean Maguire was 21-39/305 in his first college start, tossing a 74-yard TD pass that tied the game in the fourth quarter. On Monday he goes back to the bench, until Jameis Winston's next incident. This was a bad loss for Clemson, which missed a 22-yard FG, fumbled in the last 2:00 when the game was tied and they were in easy FG range.
Great night for Jimbo Fisher, who did some serious coaching this week.
12) Utah 26, Michigan 10-- Speculation will now run rampant about Brady Hoke's job status. Jim Harbaugh, Les Miles. There was lot of bad weather in the midwest; three Big 14 home games were delayed by weather yesterday.
11) Rough day for the MAC:
Michigan State 73, Eastern Michigan 14
Wisconsin 68, Bowling Green 17
Penn State 48, UMass 7
Arkansas 52, Northern Illinois 14
MAC's only non-league I-A win Saturday was Ohio 36, Idaho 24. Oy.
10) Arizona 49, Cal 45-- Wildcats trailed 45-30 with 4:00 left, scored three TDs to pull a miraculous comeback, winning on a 47-yard Hail Mary at the gun. Cal led by 28-6 at half, 31-13 after three quarters yet somehow lost.
9) Alabama 42, Florida 21-- Total yardage was 645-200 Bama; Sims passed for 445 yards in his fourth college start. If this season finishes up with Lane Kiffin getting another head coaching job, the only way it can be justified is if he replaces Charlie Weis at Kansas (hey, the Jayhawks beat Central Michigan!!!).
8) East Carolina 70, North Carolina 41-- Tar Heels have an awful defense; they're in lousy shape, they can't tackle, simply terrible.
That said, my least favorite football rule is the stupid rule that you have to leave the game if your helmet comes off. It should be if you intentionally take it off, then you have to leave for a play. The current rule is nonsensical.
7) Southern Mississippi 31, Appalachian State 30-- ASU scored a TD with 0:06 left, then had the tying PAT blocked. With six seconds left. In a 31-30 game.
6) South Florida 17, UConn 14-- Huskies' first TD on a rainy night was a classic Football Follies play: USF is up 14-0 near end of the half, they throw a pass on sideline, right to a receiver, but he bobbles it into the hands of a UConn defender who runs for an unlikely TD. Huskies had six first downs the whole night; this was a terrible game.
5) South Carolina 48, Vanderbilt 34-- Commodores ran two kicks back for TDs, and still lost by 14 points. James Franklin was smart getting out of town. Vandy is a very difficult job to win at. Spurrier won by two TDs and was miserable after.
4) Wake Forest 24, Army 21-- Over last decade, Army is 0-7 as a road favorite.
3) New Mexico 38, New Mexico State 35-- Lobos completed only eight passes in this game, but four different players completed at least one. State had 507-499 edge in total yardage; Lobos ran ball for 432 yards, needed TD with 0:27 left to win.
2) Georgia Tech 27, Virginia Tech 24-- Yellow Jackets scored ten points in last 2:03, handing Hokies their second straight home loss after winning at Ohio State.
1) Oregon 38, Washington State 31-- #21 on Wazzu is River Cracraft, who has great hands in the Wes Welker-mold. Ducks were challenged in this game, but Coogs are little bit talent-shy on defensive side of ball.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Umpire Joe West got suspended for a game for grabbing Jonathan Papelbon by the shirt during Papelbon’s meltdown as he left the field after blowing a save Sunday; interesting that the suspension was made public. I’m pretty sure not every umpire suspension is made public.
12) NHL preseason games start Sunday, as in, tomorrow. Apparently summer is over.
11) When ESPN first started out in 1979, Getty owned most of the company; apparently they had talks about pulling the plug on it early on, since it really was a pioneer in TV, an all-sports network and obviously it didn’t make money right away. Media world might be lot different now if they had quit the project.
10) Florida State’s QB tonight will be Sean Maguire, a kid from New Jersey whose high school ran the wing-T, meaning that ol’ Sean probably won’t be throwing the ball too much tonight.
9) Golfer Nicolas Colsaerts hit a golf ball 447 yards in Wales earlier this week; it was downhill/downwind, but still, going driver/wedge and getting on the green of a 613-yard hole in two is pretty impressive.
8) Tom Brady posted his college resume on Facebook this week; he spent his summers in college mostly working on a golf course- he also worked at a brokerage firm one summer. He said something about thinking he’d need that resume, once he wasn’t drafted in the 5th round that year, but things worked out pretty well for him.
7) Sean Payton bought 100 Devon Still jerseys at $100 apiece, with proceeds going to a children’s hospital in Cincinnati. Pretty cool move by Payton. Still’s 4-year old daughter is battling cancer.
6) A lawyer in New York City had his Jaguar stolen in 1968; it was found this month as it was put on a boat, headed for Europe. Yes it took them 46 years to find a stolen car. Lawyer lives in Florida now; imagine his surprise when he got that phone call.
5) Texas Tech fired its defensive coordinator (technically he quit, but come on….) amidst rumors he came to work under the influence. Arkansas shredded the Red Raider defense last week, which is the main reason he got canned.
4) Bunch of baseball teams shuffled their minor league affiliates for next year: Sacramento will be a Giants’ team now, Astros take over in Houston, Dodgers in Oklahoma City, Rockies in Albuquerque, A’s in Nashville. Apparently Nashville wasn’t at all pleased with the Brewers, who wanted their AAA team to stay there, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. I’mthink it saves a lot of money having your AAA team close to the big league team; makes calling players up hell of a lot easier.
3) Why have the 49ers won nine of their last ten games with Arizona? In those ten games, Niners turned the ball over seven times, Redbirds 30 times. Stanton is starting at QB again this week, oer the injured Carson Palmer.
2) When Auburn won 20-14 at Kansas State Thursday, it snapped their 13-game win streak against the spread. Still a good win that wouldn’t have been a win had K-State’s kicking game been at a collegiate level- they missed a 22-yard FG.
1) Weird baseball stat: Felix Hernandez has a 1.89 ERA in his no-decisions this year. Weirder stat: Jeff Samardzija has had five starts this year where he didn’t allow a run; his team lost all five of those games, three with Cubs, his last two starts for Oakland.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend......
13) Eagles rallied to win in second half in both of their first two games; now they face old friend DeSean Jackson and backup QB Cousins making his 4th NFL start, while Philly is on a short work week after winning in Indy Monday night. Weird that Philly hasn’t scored a first half TD in six of its last 12 games.
12) I feel bad for Viking coach Mike Zimmer, who had to wait until age 58 to get this chance to be a head coach, then his best player gets suspended after one game. Vikings are walking into a hornet’s nest on Bourbon Street, with Saints off to dismal 0-2 start, despite scoring 55 points in two games.
11) Cleveland Browns’ first two games were decided by a total of five points; they’re 1-11 in last 12 games against Baltimore (the old Browns). Hoyer is 4-1 as a starting QB with Cleveland. Ravens lost eight of their last ten road games.
10) Michigan is only a 4.5-point favorite at home over Utah; Wolverines lose this game, and the Jim Harbaugh-to his-alma mater rumors are going to gain a lot of momentum.
9) Packers were down 21-3 at home last week, after losing opener in Seattle, but they rallied to beat Jets. This week Green Bay visits a Lion team they’ve dominated in past. Detroit laid an egg in Charlotte last week; this is an important early season game between two best teams in NFC North.
8) Florida was lucky (damn lucky) to beat Kentucky in OT last week; now they visit an Alabama team that hasn’t been challenged yet but is also unsettled at QB. Gators got whacked last two times they visited Tuscaloosa.
7) Tigers-Royals is biggest baseball series this weekend, biggest series Kansas City has seen in years. Only 10 days left in baseball season; AL playoff picture is still unclear.
6) Arizona Cardinals are atop NFC West at 2-0, despite playing their backup QB in Swamp last week; now 49ers come calling after they imploded in second half of their home opener. Niners have generally gotten the best of Redbirds, who lost RB Dwyer to an off-field incident this week.
5) Broncos-Seahawks are only sixth Super Bowl rematch ever; Denver gets WR Welker back here, but Seattle has been a dominant home team. This is Broncos’ first road game this year.
4) Why are Oklahoma/West Virginia in the same league? Andrew Luck’s dad is WV’s athletic director; he’s hurt their basketball program by giving them so many long road trips. Not sure its helped the football side either. Am guessing its helped their accountants, though, making sure they stayed in a top-5 league, unlike UConn or Cincinnati, which got left out.
3) Steelers are playing second straight prime time road game; they didn’t look good in 26-6 loss at Baltimore, which is what happens when your offensive coordinator misses the team charter. Carolina has become a solid home team under Rivera; star DE Hardy won’t play here (off-field issues).
Seriously, Todd Haley missed the Steelers' charter to Baltimore.
2) Jameis Winston is suspended for first half of Clemson-FSU game, so I guess Seminoles defer if they win the coin toss. Winston’s case is an interesting one, almost like a re-run of Johnny Manziel at A&M.
At some point, these schools are going to stop doing Heisman campaigns for kids, because when they win, the kid becomes bigger than life and becomes a handful to deal with. It would be surprising to see Winston in Tallahassee next year, as the (mostly small) incidents he is involved in pile up, even though he needs some more development to reach his potential as an NFL QB. One of those lose-lose situations.
1) Rex Ryan’s Jets host Chicago Monday night, team that made his dad famous. Buddy Ryan was also an assistant coach for the Jets’ Super Bowl III champs. Bears lost at home to Buffalo, then won at San Francisco, so lot of fun trying to analyze how they will play.
Thursday's List of 13: Top 8, Bottom 5 in the NFL........
32) Buccaneers 0-2—Started season off with pair of home losses to teams playing a backup QB- they’ve forced one turnover. Head to Atlanta tonight for game with division rival that is also coming off a loss. Not good.
31) Jaguars 0-2—Seems like long time ago they led Eagles 17-0 at half in opener; they’ve been outscored 72-10 since then.
30) Raiders 0-2—Only team starting a rookie QB, only team sharing its stadium with a baseball team. They lost to Jets when they were +2 in turnovers; a red flag.
29) Chiefs 0-2—Down seven starters as they head to Miami this week; actually played pretty well in Denver, but they’re already two games behind Broncos in AFC West.
28) Giants 0-2—Have to fix offensive line, so immobile Manning has time to set feet. Hard to have rookie RB who caught zero passes in college last year. They lost to backup QB at home last week, were 0-6 last year. 0-3 start this year could have rats jumping off ship.
8) Chargers 1-1—Antonio Gates looked like Kellen Winslow Sr against Seattle, after they let win at Arizona slip away in opener. Interesting game in Buffalo this week, against 2-0 Bills, in Jack Kemp Alumni Game.
7) Bills 2-0—Huge advantages in field position have Buffalo at 2-0 and enthusiasm very high in western NY. Acid test will be when they play Patriots, but for now, Buffalo is atop AFC East.
6) Cardinals 2-0—Won road game on short work week with backup QB; Arians showed faith in Stanton by having him throw on first play of game. Long term, they’ll need a healthy Palmer under center.
5) Texans 2-0—Not sure if they’ve beaten quality foe yet, but 2-0 is 2-0. Problem is, they were 2-0 last year, then never won another game. As long as Cushing stays healthy, that won’t happen again.
4) Panthers 2-0—Playing very solid defense, new receivers seem to be good enough (especially Benjamin) and Newton is healthier now. Winning games when backup QB plays is good for team morale.
3) Broncos 2-0—Second half production has been dismal, they haven’t been on road yet, but they get Welker back this week for Super Bowl rematch in Seattle.
2) Eagles 2-0—First team in NFL history to start 2-0 after being down 14+ points in second half of both games. In six of last 12 games, they didn’t score TD in first half, but in last four of those, they scored 3+ TDs in second half. Chip Kelly is a unique coach, a very good one. Nick Foles is much better in NFL than he was in college—that’s good coaching.
1) Bengals 2-0—Beat Ravens in Baltimore, beat Falcons by two TDs; impressive and with two new coordinators. Maybe this year they can win a playoff game
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) ESPN’s research guys came up with a great fact before the Monday night game, on how Andrew Luck had never lost consecutive NFL games; the last time he lost consecutive college games, the team that beat him was Arizona, whose QB that night was Nick Foles, who beat him again Monday.
12) Chiefs look like they’ll be down seven out of 22 starters due to suspension or injury for this week’s game at Miami.
11) This is Rob Ryan’s 11th year as a defensive coordinator; combined record of those teams is 57-105 with one winning season (last year with Saints). If his last name isn’t Ryan, he’s a defensive line coach in Conference USA somewhere.
10) Teams that won by 15+ points in Week 1 were 1-4 in Week 2 and the team that won (Eagles) was down 20-6 in third quarter.
9) In Week 1, there were 72 first downs via penalty in 16 games (4.5 per game); last week, there were 77 FDs via penalty (4.81/game).
Out of those 149 first downs via penalty, Buffalo didn’t get one first down via penalty and they won both their games.
8) 10 of 45 first downs in Cardinal-Giant game came via penalty, or 22%. That’s a lot. NFL honchos have to remember that no one pays to watch the officials work.
7) There were 129 plays of 20+ yards in Week 1 (4.03 per team); this week, there were 108 (3.38). Miami was the only team not to have at least one play of 20+ yards last week.
6) I’m convinced red zone efficiency gets better as teams practice more during the season; in Week 1, teams scored an average of 4.93 points/red zone drive. In week 2, that number was down to 4.85. We’ll see how it progresses during the season.
5) In Week 1, teams scored 1.47 points per drive that started 80+ yards from end zone; last week, the figure dipped a little, to 1.43 ppd. Saints/Packers/Bengals are scored 17 points on those long drives.
4) Last week, there were 75 offensive TDs scored; this week, 68. 40 of those 143 TDs came on drives of exactly 80 yards; 23 more came on drives longer than 80 drives, so on 44.1% of TD drives, teams had to drive 80+ yards, not an easy thing.
21 touchdowns came on drives shorter than 50 yards; in Week 2, teams that scored a TD on a drive of less than 50 yards were 8-2-- Jets lost and Bears/49ers both had one Sunday night.
3) 3rd down conversions in Week 1 were made on 42.2% of plays; in Week 2, 39.1%. Sometimes just getting a first down deep in your territory is a big play, to let your defense rest or to flip field position a little.
2) Favorites were 8-8 vs spread this week, are 13-18-1 for season; home teams were 7-9 (13-18-1). Under was 10-6 this week, is 21-11 for the young season.
1) Don Mattingly compared his Dodgers to the ’72-‘74 A’s Monday night; Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig got into it in the dugout, over Puig making a mistake running the bases, which cost Kemp an easy RBI chance. This happened while LA was scoring eight runs in the sixth inning in Denver.Those old A’s teams, their drama was most always before/after the game, not during it.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) 7 of the top 15 teams in this week’s AP college football poll play in the SEC; that number will reduce, once conference play starts more and teams start cannibalizing each other, but seven of the top 15 is pretty impressive.
12) Apple got four million pre-orders for the IPhone6 (4 million!!!), just in the first 24 hours they were accepting pre-orders. Amazing, but also probably means it’ll be a while before I get my new device.
11) UCLA tried to poach Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus, but the kid wasn’t admitted into school. He’s a pretty good player, scored 13 ppg LY; someone’s going to get themselves a bargain.
10) A’s are running out of catchers; they have five on the 40-man roster. Three are hurt, the 4th has never played in a big league game and Derek Norris is playing with an assortment of injuries, which is preventing home from throwing real well. Of the three who are hurt, Geovany Soto (back spasms) seems like the most likely to return soon.
9) Odd thing: A’s have 13 games left; it seems like they’ve been playing for 18 straight months. Rams have 14 games left and their season has just started, but it just shows how every NFL game is worth about the same as ten baseball games in the standings.
8) If every game ended after the 5th inning, Houston Astros would be 67-60-23; they’re 67-83, so they’ve somehow lost 23 games after the 5th inning. Time for them to replenish the bullpen this winter.
7) You finish in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup standings and make the TOUR championship, the pressure comes off some. Last place is $132,000; all you have to do is finish 72 holes and sign your scorecard for that much.
You win the Fed Ex Cup playoffs, its $10M, which seems a bit much. Even for wealthy pro golfers, that’s life-changing money.
6) How does Marques Colston not get targeted once in an entire game Sunday; is he hurt? Seriously, not once? In a 26-24 game?
5) Kentucky hasn’t beaten Florida in football since the late 80’s, so imagine their frustration when it appeared that Florida never got the game-tying play off before the clock ran out. Replays are inconclusive, but teams that consistently lose rarely get favorable calls in that spot. Gators won the game in triple OT, but Kentucky has improved a lot.
4) NC State’s decisive win at South Florida Saturday snapped Wolfpack’s 0-11 ATS skid as a road favorite.
3) Serbian basketball player named Milos Teodosic was impressive in Spain; apparently the Memphis Grizzlies thought they had him locked up couple years ago, but he opted to play pro ball in Russia instead. Too bad for them; apparently they play less games in Spain, plus he was closer to family there, so he turned the Grizzlies down.
2) Next time this World Cup of FIBA rolls around, in 2018, its going to be a 22/under developmental tourney, not something older stars play in. Its stupid for NBA teams to risk their star players in this event, which means very little (see George, Paul).
1) Adrian Wojnarowski, who is a well-respected writer, wrote an interesting article on Yahoo! Sports saying how Mike Krzyzewski exploits his position as Team USA to bolster Duke’s recruiting. Instead of going to AAU tournaments like everyone else, he is hob-nobbing with NBA stars and getting seen on ESPN.
One other tidbit I wasn’t aware of: NBA commish Adam Silver (he’s tall, he’s bald, he’s rich—my hero!!!) is a Duke graduate. Would like him a little better if he had gone to state college, but you can’t have everything.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday......
13) Panthers 24, Lions 7-- Carolina is 2-0 for first time in six years; tough for team to travel off a Monday night game-- Lions were -3 in turnovers. So far this season, teams that are -2 or worse in turnovers are 2-16.
12) Bills 29, Dolphins 10-- Buffalo had one TD, four FGs in six red zone drives, but no one is taking about that-- you knew it was a bad day for Miami when they gave up a 102-yard kick return for a TD after their first score, in the third quarter.
11) Redskins 41, Jaguars 10-- Robert Griffin III dislocated his ankle, is gone for couple months; Kirk Cousins did just fine replacing him. Funny how Daniel Snyder was quick to defend Roger Goodell, throwing "Redskins" into his statement, As for Jacksonville, looks like another long year, but they do have nice uniforms. .
10) Cowboys 26, Titans 10-- 220 rushing yards for Dallas- they had 76-49 edge in plays run, converting 9-13 on third down. Tennessee only ran ball 13 times out of 49 plays, after running it 38 of 75 plays last week. Dallas is now 14-8 vs spread in its last 22 games as a road underdog.
9) Cardinals 25, Giants 14-- Big Blue is minus-6 in turnovers after two games, in which they were -14 in field position in both games-- they also allowed a TD on a punt return. Drew Stanton gets win as backup QB; Arizona is off to a 2-0 start.
8) Patriots 30, Vikings 7-- Pats are now 26-9 vs spread in game follwoing a loss, as Vikings' run game was impotent without Peterson. NE blocked FG for a TD, also had a 1-yard TD drive, after one of their four INTs- they also had 15 penalties for 163 yards. Rough day for former Patriot Matt Cassel.
7) Browns 26, Saints 24-- Cleveland had 4th-and-7 on last drive and Saints didn't blitz; why? Saints scored 55 points in first two games, and are 0-2; why exactly does Rob Ryan keep getting jobs? Pick-6 that Brees threw in 2nd quarter that put Browns up 16-3 was only defensive TD of day, league-wide.
6) Bengals 24, Falcons 10-- Cincy gained 472 yards, were +3 in turnovers, but lost AJ Green to a toe injury. Bengals averaged 12.6 yards per pass attempt, after last week, when they only scored one TD. Atlanta also allowed 472 yards last week.
5) Rams 19, Buccaneers 17-- St Louis ended 0-12 skid in road openers, winning in backup QB Davis' 1st NFL start. Bucs start 0-2 at home; both opponents played a backup QB. Zeurlein kicked four FGs, including game-winner with 0:38 left.
4) Chargers 30, Seahawks 21-- 7 catches, 96 yards, 3 TDs for TE Gates, as San Diego hung 30 on a Seattle team that is still way better at home than on foreign soil. Adrian Peterson got paid $705,882 this week; that's $43,448 more than Seahawks are paying Russell Wilson all season.
3) Texans 30, Raiders 14-- Oakland is -6 in turnovers, but at least the A's won two of three in Seattle this weekend. Texans had 24-yard edge in field position; James Jones fumbled twice on one play- you don't see that too often. Last week there were 75 offensive TDs in 16 games; this week so far, 62 in 15 games.
2) Broncos 24, Chiefs 17-- Manning misses Wes Welker, a lot. In their two games, Denver has gained 148 yards on 41 second half plays, with one TD, one FG. First half numbers: 72 plays, 536 yards, with six TDs, one FG- thats a big difference, but they're 2-0 as they head out on road next week.
1) Packers 31, Jets 24-- Jets led 21-3 midway thru second quarter, but Nelson had nine catches for 209 yards-- his 16 targets were most Rodgers has ever targeted one receiver in a game. Both teams made a 50+-yard FG, you don't see that a lot. Jets have to be little bit encouraged with how QB Smith played.
0) Bears 28, 49ers 20-- Niners led 17-0 in their new stadium, but then imploded in second half; Chicago had four consecutive TD drives, gaining 205 yards on 25 plays. NFL teams that turn ball over four times rarely win.
There were 26 penalties in this game, for 176 yards-- its almost like someone who hates football now makes the rules, so everyone else will stop liking it. No one goes to games to watch flags being thrown-- lets the guys play- thats a better game.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) Boston College 37, USC 31-- Rushing yardage was 452-20 BC, as Eagles won as a 17-point underdog, wearing Trojans out with a terrific running game. USC was coming off of an emotional Stanford win; their defense is not deep.
12) UCLA 20, Texas 17-- Check out this video of Rick Neuheisel watching his son Jerry lead the Bruins to a win over the Longhorns. Young Neuheisel is the backup for UCLA; he was 23-30 for 178 yards and threw a 33-yard TD pass with 3:00 left to give the Bruins a solid road win. The video is worth your time.
11) Arizona State 38, Colorado 24-- Senior QB Taylor Kelly hurt his right foot, had it in a boot, which is very bad news for the Sun Devils, who play UCLA in two weeks, in a game where both starting QBs might be out.
10) Iowa State 20, Iowa 17-- Football teams have 22 starting players, plus punter and kicker; Cyclones have two starters named Sam Richardson. QB Sam passed for 255 yards as Iowa State won this rivalry game with a last-minute FG.
9) South Carolina 38, Georgia 35-- Some day 10 or 15 years from now, someone at ESPN will do documentary on what a great college football coach Steve Spurrier was. Gamecocks had a surprising lack of football success before he got there. Now a 2-1 start is considered a disappointment, but this was a great win.
8) Duke 41, Kansas 3-- Someone who is a lot smarter than me has to explain to me how the hell Charlie Weis is still employed as a Division I football coach. If he could not win at Notre Dame, a school with vast resources, how the hell would he ever win at Kansas, which is eagerly awaiting the start of basketball practice?
7) Bowling Green 45, Indiana 42-- Falcons' QB James Knapke was 46-73 passing in this game; Roger Lewis caught 16 passes for 149 yards. Six of the 14 teams in the most overrated league in America lost yesterday. Indiana is in same boat as Kansas, waiting for hoops practice.
6) East Carolina 28, Virginia Tech 21-- Hokies couldn't stand prosperity after their upset win at Ohio State last week. ECU's senior QB Carden passed for 427 yards in this gane. Can the Pirates win the AAC in their first year there?
5) Cincinnati 58, Toledo 34-- Nomadic QB Gunner Kiel, who committed to four different colleges before he ever played in a college game, was 29-42/436 passing in his college debut, showing why LSU and Notre Dame wanted him. Kiel's uncle was once a QB/punter for the Buccaneers in the NFL.
4) Michigan 34, Miami Oh 10-- These two schools, as well as Stanford and the Naval Academy, are the only four colleges to produce both a US President and a Super Bowl winning quarterback.
3) Georgia Tech 42, Georgia Southern 38-- Yellow Jackets led 35-10 at the half, then had to score a TD with 0:33 to avoid a ridiculous collapse. Tech threw four TD passes, unusual for them. Eagles are now 0-2 vs ACC teams, losing by a combined total of five points.
2) West Virginia 40, Maryland 37-- Senior QB Trickett was 37-49/511 passing as WVU kicked the game-winning 47-yard FG at the gun. Maryland had tied the game with a 69-yard punt return with 9:43 left. Quite a game. Mountaineers gained 694 yards and still needed a FG at the end to win.
1) Middle Tennessee 50, Western Kentucky 47 OT-- Blue Raiders gave up 718 yards on 102 plays and won; welcome to modern college football. BC coach Steve Addazio is an old offensive line coach; he detests all this spread offense, so he would not have liked seeing WKU QB Brendan Doughty go 43-66 for 593 yards.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind......
13) I’m in a 16-team keeper fantasy baseball league; our 10th season is wrapping up this week. We can draft minor leaguers; the youngest one I ever picked up was an 18-year old in the Florida State League named Mike Stanton.
He is now known as Giancarlo and is one of the best players in baseball. Picked him up because of an article Peter Gammons wrote about him and obviously its worked out very well, but am obviously concerned about him after he got hit in the face by a pitch Thursday and suffered multiple facial fractures.
Someone has to teach him how to get away from the ball, to turn his head back towards the backstop to protect himself. My team’s season is done; just hope he feels better and his bones heal.
12) Long time ago, friend of mine who played soccer broke his cheekbone playing; they told me the cheekbone is attached to the skull in three places, kind of like a 3-legged table; I’m wondering if Stanton’s “multiple facial fractures” are like that. Has to be a scary thing; he’s going to be making some visits to the dentist, too.
11) One of the NFL stats I’m going to be on top of this year is how teams do on drives that start 80+ yards from the end zone; I think this is a really good measure of how much an offense can carry a team , as opposed to a team taking advantage of turnovers and special teams play. We’ll give you some numbers once a few more games have been played.
10) Totally surprised that Spain lost at home to France in the FIBA basketball tournament; was looking forward to a US-Spain final. Apparently the Spaniards were, too and they got ambushed. Too bad; takes whatever little drama there was out of the tournament.
9) If this had been a slower news week, some pro golfers would’ve gotten skewered badly, after whining about the FedEx playoffs being too much of a grind. They’re playing big money tourneys for a $10M first prize and they’re complaining? Oy.
8) Pac-12 road favorites are 1-6 vs spread in non-conference games so far this season; Big 14 home favorites are 4-7 against the spread.
7) Home teams are 7-4 against the spread in the few conference games that have been played so far this season.
6) HBO won’t be doing a 24/7 show based on the NHL outdoor game this December; too bad. Those shows had been very well done and were fun to watch.
5) NFL needs to pull back on their “defenseless receiver” penalties, its ruining the game. Defensive backs can’t play anymore, everything they do is a penalty. It has become touch football and it is not good; rules of the game are strangling the game, because everyone is afraid of being sued.
4) 7.6 million Americans don’t live in this country;was surprised by that number.
3) Villanova signed top guard recruit Jalen Brunson, who was headed to Temple with his dad, former NBA player Rick Brunson, until his dad got in trouble and lost the coaching job Temple was going to give him. No coaching job, no kid, so Villanova beat out Illinois for Jalen’s services, a very good get for Jay Wright.
2) Jeff Wilpon, a major nitwit and son of Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon, is in hot water for firing a Mets’ employee because she had a kid out of wedlock. Met fans are praying that Jeff Wilpon is forced out of baseball, which would then prod his father to sell the team, since he would have no one to leave it to. If that ever happens, that woman and her kid would be two of the most popular people in Queens. Ever. The Wilpons need to go for the Mets to be good again.
1) Looks like there will be legal wagering on NFL games in New Jersey around Halloween; hard to believe they’ll have it and other states won’t hop on the bandwagon. Supposedly they’re going to build a casino in this area pretty soon too; would be great fun to be able to go there and place a bet. It has the potential to be a big money maker for the government; we’ll see if they screw it up or do it right.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.......
13) Subplot A in Oakland: Raiders’ rookie QB Derek Carr goes up against Houston, the team that once made his older brother David its franchise QB. Subplot B: Former Texans QB Matt Schaub is now Carr’s backup in Oakland.
12) East Carolina gave South Carolina fits last week, before losing 33-23; Virginia Tech had a great win at Ohio State. How do the Hokies respond to being a double digit favorite after being giant-killers last week?
11) Viking QB Matt Cassel was Tom Brady’s backup from 2005-08, and led New England to an 11-5 record in ’08, after Brady got hurt in the opener. Pats-Vikings is Minnesota’s first outdoor home game in over 30 years.
10) USC travels to Boston College, long trip after an emotional win last week at Stanford, especially against an Eagle team they pounded last year in LA.
9) Redskins are big favorites over Jacksonville after scoring six points in Houston last week; they scored first, got the PAT blocked and never scored again.
8) Weird Game of the Week: Boise State at UConn—why? Then I realized that at one time, Boise committed to joining the Big East, more for basketball than football. Boise is in Idaho, not even sure if it is eastern Idaho-- parts of our world have gotten a little too confusing.
\7) Cardinals/Giants both played on Monday night; long trip east for Arizona team that had to rally from behind to nip San Diego late Monday night. Giants’ receivers look lost in their new offense. It is still throwing/catching the ball, fellas.
6) UCLA at Texas—We may find out how faithful the Longhorn faithful are this week, after Texas got drubbed by BYU last week. Bruins figure to do the same here. Pretty soon people in Austin are going to be missing ol’ Mack Brown.
5) Tampa Bay Bucs lost at home to a backup QB (Derek Anderson) last week; now the Rams come calling this week, with either Shaun Hill or Austin Davis under center. Must-win for the Buccaneers.
4) Arkansas-Texas Tech used to be rivals in the old SEC but its been two decades since they last met. This is a winnable game for both sides and an interesting Big X-SEC game that will impact conference power ratings for the 4-team playoff in January.
3) Falcons-Bengals is an underrated game this week. Friends of mine are driving from Albany to Cincinnati for this one, 11 hours, not really sure why. Flying would seem to be more fun, but driving is probably cheaper.
2) Georgia visits a South Carolina team whose defense is struggling, but played better vs Wast Carolina last week. Going to be hard to contain the Dawg’s high-powered running game though.
1) Dodgers-Giants and A’s-Mariners are the two biggest baseball series this weekend. Giants have rebounded to get back into contention; the Dodgers just have so much talent, even though it seems like they’re underachieving, they’re still in first place. in NL West
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) It is not easy getting tee times in the New York area on Labor Day weekend; this from CBSSports.com:
“The Trump National Golf Club, the Winged Foot and Willow Ridge were among some of the elite courses that rebuffed the president's request to tee off there, according to several sources who were told about the president's advance team's calls to the club managers. Club managers apparently did not want to inconvenience their high-powered and high-paying members over Labor Day weekend by shutting down their courses to accommodate the president."
President Obama couldn’t get a tee time on Long Island Labor Day weekend. He’s the most powerful man in the world. Yikes.
12) Drew Smyly has pitched really well for the Rays since coming over from Detroit, but he’s at 153 IP for this year, 27 over his previous career high, so Tampa Bay, which isn’t contending, shut Smyly down for the season.
One big indicator for injuries to pitchers is when a guy exceeds his career high by more than 20%, which is why you see lot of younger pitchers getting shut down or pushed back between starts.
11) After only one week, there are only entrants 1,644 alive in Station's Last Man Standing pro football contest out in Las Vegas. 4,064 entered. Winning prize is $94,025. Losing more than half the entrants in a week isn't normal.
10) USC is already playing 11 true freshman on its football team, an awful lot, but they’re 20 players short of the scholarship limit, so they lack talented depth.
9) Speaking of USC, AD/alum/former NFL QB Pat Haden was very emotional on the sidelines when the Trojans won at Stanford Saturday. If Haden had shown 10% of that emotion when he was playing QB for very good Rams’ teams in the 70’s, maybe he would’ve won a Super Bowl. Instead, the educated idiot went to law school while he was playing, compromising his performance (he admitted as much on Roy Firestone’s TV show after he retired).
8) Those Ram teams got to one Super Bowl, after the ’79 season, when Haden broke his finger in a game at Seattle, and Vince Ferragamo led the team to its NFC title. Rams led that great Pittsburgh team in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, but lost 31-19.
7) Football announcers are fond of describing an all-out pass rush by saying “…they really pinned their ears back”. This makes no sense to me; where did it come from? Why does every analyst say it? Why would someone put a pin on their ears? Sometimes unusual things bother me……
6) Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti said the team’s leadership “voted unanimously” to cut Ray Rice. Uh-huh; wonder if anyone suggested they call the league and make sure no other team could pick Rice up after they cut him? It’s a fair question and something they needed to cover themselves on; they wouldn’t want to cut him and then wind up playing against him.
5) A lawyer in New Jersey said Wednesday night that Rice would've been charged with third degree assault from the videotape evidence, even without his wife's cooperation. This has become a ridiculous mess; charge the guy with assault, throw him out of the NFL for a year and everyone moves on with their lives.
4) Kentucky will have nine (9!!!) McDonald’s All-Americans on its hoop team this fall. Hard to keep nine guys happy, especially if they all think they should be starting. Is there such a thing as too much talent?
3) There was a story around the Oregon waited a while to dismiss three basketball players who were accused of sexual assault because firing them right away would’ve hurt their APR score, which would’ve risked making the Ducks ineligible for postseason, as well as costing the coach and AD bonuses for keeping their APR score at a certain level.
While it may be a little shady, it is also smart management; its not illegal, maybe a tad unethical, but who amongst us wouldn’t do the same thing?
2) Talked about this earlier in the week, but the Bengals put a guy on their practice squad that they had earlier cut, just so he could maintain his health insurance to care for his 4-year old daughter, who has cancer. They didn’t have to do this, but they did and it is both classy and touching.
1) Arnold Palmer turned 85 yesterday; one of the truly legendary Americans, maybe a better businessman than he was a golfer. Happy birthday, sir.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but......
13) There were 129 plays of 20+ yards in the NFL last week; only 29 of them (23.4%) happened on third down. You’d think offenses would be more aggressive on third down, but maybe defenses are more aggressive, too.
12) Falcons/Steelers (8 each) had the most 20+ yard plays, Packers/Raiders (1 each) had the least.
11) Teams averaged 4.93 points per possessions when they got in the red zone (other team’s 20-yard line); Saints (38 points/6 trips), Falcons (21/3), Denver (24/4) did the best in the red zone.
Jaguars (0/1), Eagles/Texans (3/2 each), Jets (13/4) did the worst. Rams (0/1) only got there once.
10) There were 196 drives last week where teams started 80+ yards from the goal line; 34 (17.3%) of those resulted in TD’s. 23 of the 34 drives were exactly 80 yards; 11 were longer.
9) Teams averaged 1.47 points/possession on drives that started 80+ yards from goal line and that was with Atlanta scoring TD’s on four 80+-yard drives.
8) Teams converted 42.2% (166-393) of third down plays, which means teams averaged 12.2 third down plays per game. Just converting those plays flips field position and have hidden value in game stats.
7) Was very impressed by Charger kick coverage team Monday night; thought they had lot of fast guys who tackled well.
6) Was also impressed Monday night by how aggressive the Arizona pass rush was on the last series, bltizing to try and keep Philip Rivers off-rhythm. Much better plan than sitting back and letting a veteran QB pick them apart.
5) Tennessee Titans dropped from 100-1 to 60-1 in futures wagering on the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, all based on one strong game.
4) Buffalo Sabres’ owner Terry Pagula is going to be very popular in western New York, if he buys the Buffalo Bills and keeps them in western New York, as he said he’ll do.
3) Mets shut down David Wright for the last 18 days of the season; he has issues with his shoulder, which may be why he had a sub-par season.
2) 40+ years ago, Marvin Barnes teamed with flashy PG Ernie Degregorio to lead Providence to the 1973 Final Four. Barnes was the beast of the team, Degregorio its cocky floor leader- they were a lot of fun to watch. Barnes passed away this week at age 62, way too young to go. He was a great college player.
1) I am totally convinced that the best way for NFL teams to score more points would be to take Sundays away from the coaches, in other words, take the damn mikes out of the helmet, let quarterbacks call the plays and let the players own Sundays. You’d see more wide open play, better football.
Most football coaches are so damn conservative, they strangle the game.
Tuesday's List of 13: Not your average Monday.....
13) NFL banned Ray Rice from playing for punching his fiance, who apparently lacks in decision making skills, since she married the guy after he laid her out in a casino elevator. She probably married Rice because he was rich; now? Not so much.
12) About 20 minutes after Rice got banned, which is huge news, the NCAA PR geniuses decided to announce that Penn State has been let off the hook for the Jerry Sandusky debasco. Lions are bowl eligible now, and will have their full boat of scholarships again, starting in 2015-16. A slap on the wrist.
This is called burying news on a day when they can't get the headline; Bruce Pearl got more probation for inviting a recruit to his house for a cookout than Penn State did for knowingly harboring a pedophile for over a decade.
Female journalists got on their high horse about the Rice incident; but aren't too prominent in defending children in central Pennsylvania.
11) Folks at USC aren't too pleased either; they got hammered over the Reggie Bush thing. USC has 65 kids on scholarship right now. Which offense was worse, paying off a star player's family, or harboring a pedophile?
If the NCAA isn't careful, AD Pat Haden will fly to Kansas and run into the NCAA offices to yell at their enforcement staff, the way he did at Stanford Saturday.
10) Maybe all the new bowl games are a factor; its going to look ridiculous when losing teams play in bowl games this December. Having as many big name teams as possible be bowl eligible helps everyone save face. Penn State has a lot of loyal fans who will travel to a bowl. If you think that wasn't a factor, you're naive.
9) Then there's the nitwit who is selling the Atlanta Hawks; he tried to sell the team three years ago, but couldn't find a buyer. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but do you think he saw what Donald Sterling got for the Clippers, and suddenly decided it would be very profitable to be labeled a racist?
Now that he called himself out as racist, he figures the NBA will help find him a buyer who will cough up major money, especially with the new TV deal about to kick in. Getting a check for $1B softens the blow of being called a racist.
8) Lot of talk on September 9 about Jim Harbaugh leaving the 49ers after this year; either the Dolphins or U of Michigan, where Harbaugh played. Miami has a good coach, but he's an anonymous guy, so could be sacrificed to hire a big name unless the Fish win big this season. Harbaugh has won huge in San Francisco.
7) Brett Favre and Peyton Manning are only two QBs in NFL history to beat all 32 NFL teams; Brady has never played against the Patriots, obviously.
6) Colts' star LB Robert Mathis tore his achilles while working out on his own and is out for the year; he was suspended for the first four games already.
5) Westgate Hotel sportsbook guru Jay Kornegay said that Sunday was one of the most profitable NFL days the casino has ever had. The public bets favorites.
4) Good program on ESPNU Mondays; Crunch Time- they show the key parts to all the close games on Saturday's college football card.
3) It is important to not overreact to Week 1 NFL results, it really is.
2) Belated best wishes to Ron Washington, who did great things as a coach for the A's and manager in Texas. Hope whatever the problems are get resolved soon.
1) Spent much of Monday in a veterans' hospital with my dad, who is undergoing some treatment; the people there are so nice, its encouraging to see. The VA staff works very hard, and I appreciate that. Sometimes unimportant things take over in our lives-- a day like Monday reinforced what the most important things are.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Sunday......
13) Falcons 37, Saints 34 OT-- Best game of day, but not lot of defense; only one of nine TD drives was less than 80 yards and that was 71. Teams combined to go 14 of 24 on third down. Falcons averaged 10.1 yards per pass attempt.
12) Vikings 34, Rams 6-- Worst game of day, good start for Mike Zimmer, who had to wait until age 58 to get his first head coaching job. Norv Turner made good use of speedy WR Patterson in this game-- he's a weapon.
11) Steelers 30, Browns 27-- Pittsburgh blew 27-3 halftime lead, then won at gun on a 41-yard FG. Hoyer played whole game for Browns, who gained 389 yards and didn't turn ball over. Only one TD in three red zone trip for Steelers.
10) Eagles 34, Jaguars 17-- Jax scored early, with turnover-aided drives of 44-21 yards, and led 17-0 at halftime, but was outscored 34-0 in second half, with bad beat of day when Iggles scored defensive TD with 1:23 left for the cover.
9) Jets 19, Raiders 14-- Eight teams were +2 or better in turnovers this week; only the Raiders/Jaguars lost, maybe two worst teams in NFL. Jets outrushed Oakland 212-25, but had only one TD, two FGs on four red zone drives.
8) Bengals 23, Ravens 16-- Cincy tried FGs on six of first seven drives, making first five. Flacco blew easy FG just before half with pathetic clock management and it cost them late. Bengals hit AJ Green for game-winning bomb with 4:58 left.
7) Bills 23, Bears 20 OT-- Buffalo ran ball for 193 yards, had 14-yard advantage in field position- they averaged 7.3 yards per pass attempt, were +2 in turnovers. Jay Cutler passed for 341 yards, but also threw two interceptions.
6) Texans 17, Redskins 6-- Washington scored first, then had PAT blocked and never scored again. Houston blocked punt for TD, so rough day for Redskins' special teams. Teams combined for one TD, two empty trips on four red zone drives.
5) Titans 26, Chiefs 10-- KC was -24 in turnovers in 2012, +18 LY, now they're -3 this year. Titans had 162 rushing yards, 243 passing, as they outgained Chiefs by 160 yards and had 10-yard edge in field position.
4) Dolphins 33, Patriots 20-- Only thing more depressing than the Ram game was drafting Tom Brady in my fantasy league, then watching him get outscored by Ryan Tannehill, who doesn't even know which teams are in the AFC East. Dolphins had TD drives of 15 and 34 yards- they shut Patriots out in second half.
3) Panthers 20, Buccaneers 14-- Carolina gets a divisional road win with Newton in street clothes; rookie WR Benjamin looks like a keeper for Panthers. Tampa Bay DB dropped an INT in last 2:00 that would've set up at least a trying FG, then they fumbled on first play after the Carolina punt.
2) 49ers 28, Cowboys 17-- FOX had two 4:25 games; they insist on pretending the Cowboys are good, so they get marquee games. Since 1997, Dallas is 137-138 in the regular season, with one playoff win. Their last winning season was in 2009.
1) Broncos 31, Colts 24-- Week 1 so far: favorites are 4-9-1 vs spread, home dogs are 2-1. Under is 9-5 with two games left. Denver had a 24-7 lead at the half, then hung on for dear life for the win. Luck was impressive in the second half.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.....
13) Last time Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State all lost on the same day was in 1988; this was a very bad day for the Big 14, but Rutgers beat Howard, so they have that. Central Michigan won 38-17 at Purdue. Oy.
12) Memo to whoever the coach is at Michigan next year: recruit a QB who can throw the ball. Maybe Brady Hoke will go on to have a great career in Ann Arbor, but if he does, he better as good a QB as the one he had at Ball State, who was a lot better than the one he has now.
11) USC 13, Stanford 10-- Big win for Trojans was overshadowed by USC AD Pat Haden coming out of the press box to bitch at officials on the USC sideline. No one on TV could ever remember an AD pulling a stunt like that before.
10) How has Stanford not retired #7? You know, John Elway's number.
9) BYU 41, Texas 7-- Cougars hammered Texas 41-20 LY, running ball for 550 yards- they only had 248 in this game, which was 6-0 at half, but natives are going to get restless with losses like this, while Charlie Strong seems to be running guys out of the program.
8) Washington 59, Eastern Washington 52-- Eagles are I-AA; game was 37-31 at the half. Huskies struggled with Hawai'i last week, but 2-0 is 2-0.
7) Nebraska 31, McNeese State 24-- This would've gone to OT, if not for a great catch/run by Ameer Abdullah in the last minute to save the day. Joe Dumars is the most famous alum of McNeese; they're I-AA in football, not basketball.
6) Maryland 24, USF 17-- Terps are first team in three years to win a game when they were -5 or worse in turnovers. In other words, they got lucky.
5) North Carolina 31, San Diego State 27-- Aztecs gained 509 yards in Chapel Hill, but threw a pick-6 early on, then another INT in the end zone in last minute. This was a game San Diego State should've won.
4) South Carolina 33, East Carolina 23-- Pirates outgained Carolina 453-441; Dawgs-Gamecocks is an interesting tilt next weekend. ECU is pretty good.
3) Illinois 42, Western Kentucky 34-- Illini had two defensive TDs, WKU had one. Oklahoma State transfer Lunt was 35-50/456 passing for Illinois.
2) Iowa 17, Ball State 13-- Hawkeyes scored two TDs in last 3:00 to avoid losing to David Letterman's alma mater- this was an ugly day for the Big 14.
1) How do the PGA Tour honchos expect fans to watch golf today, when Phil Mickelson quit the tournament in Colorado, saying he needed to get ready for the Ryder Cup in three weeks? How else would you get ready for a golf event than by playing golf? Mickelson is probably in Las Vegas betting football today.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Guy on Long Island found some lottery tickets in his truck, went inside and checked the results—he had a $2.9M ticket sitting on floor of his truck, collecting dust. Now he’s pretty rich and much more popular. One of his employees said “He never used to smile.” Go figure.
12) Cris Collinsworth was talking on TV last week about owner Mike Brown of the Bengals and how he has done stuff for players/ex-players that no one knows about, acts of kindness. Before he hired Marvin Lewis, Brown used to get ripped for having such a bad team, while supposedly being cheap. Lewis has made the team respectable and according to Collinsworth, Brown is far from cheap.
11) College of Charleston had a big problem when they fired basketball coach Doug Wojcik this summer; apparently the school president used to own a shop that sold Confederate stuff from the Civil War and he was in favor or flying the rebel flag, things like that, not exactly what you would want if you’re recruiting players for a sport played primarily by African-Americans.
So what did they do? They went out and hired an African-American head coach, passing over former Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz in the process. Lutz is way more qualified than an entry level head coach, but Charleston has a serious perception problem and they hope this hire will make that problem go away.
10) Sounds like the Texans tried to trade for Philly’s Matt Barkley before they acquired QB Ryan Mallett from New England. Houston then cut backup QB Case Keenum, who was scooped up by the Rams. Not good for QB’s to be changing teams right before the season.
9) UConn women’s hoop coach Geno Auriemma called the 13-year old girl who pitched in the Little League World Series; he congratulated her, the call lasted two minutes and now this is an NCAA thing? Seriously?
The young lady expressed an interest in playing for the Huskies one day, so the guy called her up- she’s still in junior high. I thought NCAA enforcers were overworked; how could this possibly have become a thing?
8) Fast food workers in San Diego were striking Thursday; they want $15 an hour. If they get what they want, the places will just go out of business and those people will lose their jobs. Striking is rarely a brilliant idea.
7) UNLV point guard Daquan Cook was going to redshirt this year anyway, but now he’ll be rehabbing his torn up knee. Cook tore an ACL and needs surgery. Rebels have USF transfer Cody Doolin to run the show this year- they’re going to look a lot different than they did last winter, with five new starters and former LMU coach Max Good now an assistant to Dave Rice.
6) Guy on the Interweb met Joe Namath this week, had him sign a game ticket to Super Bowl III, when the Jets upset the then-Baltimore Colts 16-7. Not sure what that ticket is worth now but in January 1969, it cost $12 to get in the game. You can’t park your car at a Super Bowl for $12 now.
5) In three of Edinson Volquez’ last four starts, game was 0-0 after 5th inning. He’s pitching much better but not getting much run support.
4) Browns’ WR Josh Gordon is suspended for this season, so he’s selling cars to make money. Will be curious to hear if he sells a lot of cars.
3) Unusual to read about Bills coach Doug Marrone and his fairly public squabble with people in the Bills’ front office. Sounds like they don’t work well together. It is misleading by the way, to say that Marrone was the Saints’ offensive coordinator under Sean Payton; that may have been his title, but make no mistake about it, Payton is the offensive coordinator/head coach on Bourbon Street.
2) Watching Hard Knocks on HBO the other night, saw a very cool 3-tiered driving range they have in Atlanta, where one of the Falcons was hitting golf balls with his girlfriend. Don’t have anything like that here in Albany; too bad.
1) I’m thinking when we see the Ravens play this fall, its going to be fairly clear that going from Jim Caldwell to Gary Kubiak at offensive coordinator is going to be a huge upgrade for John Harbaugh’s team.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend......
13) There are three home underdogs in the NFL this weekend: Falcons-Dolphins-Cowboys. Which one has the best chance of winning? I’d say Atlanta, based on Siants’ struggles away from the Superdome in recent years.
12) Michigan State-Oregon is a statement game for conference supremacy, which is more important now, with the 4-team playoff looming for the first time. Spartans have had a very good defense recently; it gets a huge test this week in Eugene.
11) Buccaneers (4-12 last year) are 2-point favorites over Carolina (12-4 last year); was Lovie Smith that much of an upgrade over Greg Schiano, the last Tampa coach? (yes) Bucs' defense will force more turnovers under Lovie Smith.
10) Stanford-USC is Steve Sarkisian’s first Pac-12 game with the Trojans, as both teams step way up in class after dismantling inferior opponents last week. Cardinal has won five of last seven series games.
9) Since 1990, only 25% of NFL teams who lost their opener made it to the playoffs; keep that in mind while your favorite team plays Sunday.
8) Notre Dame-Michigan are playing for the last time in the foreseeable future, as Irish will be playing more ACC teams as payment for that league letting Notre Dame play basketball in the ACC, thereby siphoning off some of their NCAA tournament money. One thing about Notre Dame, they make a lot of money.
7) Giants were 5-0 this preseason, but no one thought they played well- their subs pulled some games out at the end and they won ‘em all this summer. Now comes the opener in Detroit; Lions have better talent, but Coughlin vs Caldwell is an epic coaching mismatch.
6) BYU ran the football for 550 yards in a 41-20 dismantling of Texas last year. 550 yards. You think the Texas conditioning coach mentioned that once or twice during conditioning drills this winter? 5) Oakland’s Derek Carr is the only rookie QB starting this week, while Jets start 2nd-year QB Geno Smith. Big difference between playing for Fresno State and starting in the NFL, but Carr beat out Matt Schaub—we’ll see how he does.
4) Texas A&M’s offense treated South Carolina like a piñata last week, scoring 52 points in Columbia; how do the Gamecocks bounce back as a double digit favorite over an East Carolina squad with experienced QB Shane Carden running the show? Pirates have historically played their BCS opponents pretty tough.
3) How much will Peyton Manning miss Wes Welker and which Bronco will step up and make the plays Welker would’ve?
2) Oakland A’s need to right their ship this weekend against Houston; 23 games left, they need to play pretty good ball to make the playoffs. A’s were terrific for four months, then dreadful in August; September needs to be a better month.
1) How will Shaun Hill do against Minnesota, in his first NFL start since 2010? He has a 13-13 record as an NFL starter. Will the Rams be improved? How will Matt Cassel do in Norv Turner’s offense?
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff on a late summer day.....
13) Spent all day Wednesday in a pre-retirement seminar for my day job, as I'm approaching the end of my tenure there. One thing I thought a lot about-- we need to do career counseling for high school kids, let them see what their options are for their adult lives, before they get there. Kids would make better decisions if they knew more about the big picture- I really believe that.
12) There were 250 people at this seminar; lot of people looking ahead to their future with optimism.
One thing I learned today: 57 million people are currently cashing social security checks of some kind.
11) Mets are 14-2 this season when Kirk Nieuwenhuis starts in the outfield.
10) Speaking of Met outfielders, Curtis Granderson has already had seven streaks this year, where he went 0-17 or worse each time. No bueno.
9) NBA player Al Harrington is 6-foot-9; he played 500+ minutes last year, but did not block one shot. Hard to believe.
8) Worst part of the 6-game suspension for Colts' owner Jim Irsay might be his tweeting ban; he seems like an eccentric, nice guy. We wish him well.
7) Padres' rookie Cory Spangenberg hit a walkoff homer Tuesday night that was also his first major league tater-- not a bad time to do that.
6) Jets were 5-1 last year in games decided by 7 or less points, despite having a dismal -14 turnover ratio. Odd combination of stats. Both of those stats regress to the middle, so their turnover ratio figures to improve this year, especially since thyey won't be using a rookie QB this season.
5) Why teams lose: three years ago, Jacksonville drafted a punter in the third round, when Russell Wilson was still on the board. Whoops.
4) Guy on a TV commercial says he runs "....because running gives me patience." I don't run because running would give me a heart attack. So there........
3) 11 of 16 Tennessee Titan games last year were decided by 7 or less points; only four of the Rams' 16 games were that close.
2) Carolina Panthers were 5-2 last year in games decided by 7 or less points, which lot of people will tell you makes it harder for them to repeat their 12-4 record again this season. Lot of things went Carolina's way last season.
1) When Giarcarlo Stanton bats, I flip to that channel; always.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) How different would Week 1 of the NFL season be if there were no exhibition games? Watching college games last weekend, they played pretty well, considering they don’t have any dress rehearsals like the pros do.
12) Why is Gene Chizik working in the SEC Network TV studio while Charlie Weis has a head coaching job? Chizik won a national title at Auburn, somehow got fired there shortly after, and now can’t get another job? Meanwhile, Weis keeps getting jobs like he’s freakin’ Bear Bryant. Go figure.
11) Cubs’ OF prospect Jorge Soler is off to a hot start in Chicago, going 11-22 in his first few games. Then again, Alcantara and Baez got off to hot starts when they first got to the majors too; now, Alcantara is batting .220, Baez .175. Being a really good hitter in the big leagues is difficult.
10) Speaking of major league debuts, Dodger prospect Joc Pederson made his Monday night against Washington. Pederson was the first 30/30 (homers/steals) guy in the PCL in 80 years- his dad Stu Pederson played in eight games for the Dodgers in 1985, going 0-4 with a sac fly. How weird must it be for him to see his son playing for the same team, 29 years later?
9) If I had a daughter, one of the last places on earth I’d want her to be would be handing water bottles to college football players on the sidelines during a game. Just an invitation for trouble; I see these girls there and I think there’s got to be a better way to earn your work-study money, as in, almost anything else.
8) Baylor QB Bryce Petty cracked two vertebrae in his back Sunday against SMU; I read something on the Interweb that said “Petty’s back injury” like it was a pulled muscle. He cracked two freakin’ vertebrae!!!! I’m thinking that’s kind of serious.
7) Central Florida changed QB’s at halftime of their game with Penn State in Ireland; the Holman kid who played in the second half was terrific, 1,000 times better than the starter, who undoubtedly is no longer the starter.
Coaching is funny, because some kids are gamers, they just play better when the bright lights go on, but you can’t find that out until they actually get in a game.
6) Classic sandwich game for a young Tennessee Vols squad this week; coming off their Sunday night opening win against Utah State and with a trip to Oklahoma on deck, Tennessee hosts Arkansas State from the Sun Belt this weekend.
Normally, the talent disparity between the teams would be enough for the Vols, but sometimes young teams play to the level of their opponent, especially with a higher profile game on deck. Plus, seldom do college teams play on a short work wee- Tennessee’s game was Sunday, not Saturday.
5) Wonder if it is a coincidence that Adam Dunn wears the same number 10 for the A’s that Dave Kingman did? Both low average guys with lot of power, though Dunn walks lot more than Kingman ever did. Dunn’s career on-base percentage is .365; highest OB% Kingman ever had in one season was .343.
4) Weird college football game of the week: Colorado at UMass—think Ralphie the buffalo is making the trip? That’s a long road trip to play a poor team.
3) Think Texas Longhorns have this week’s game with BYU circled on the schedule? BYU crushed the Longhorns 40-21 LY as 7-point underdogs, running ball down Texas’ throats 72 times for 550 yards. Yes, they had 550 rushing yards against Texas. Am guessing that was discussed in their weight room once or thrice this past winter/spring.
2) Someone on ESPN suggested blowing off work Tuesday to watch the US-New Zealand basketball game; now no one likes blowing off work more than I do, but for that to happen, the game I want to watch would have to have a point spread of less than 30. These games haven't been very good so far, other than the first half of the game with Turkey, which has one NBA player.
1) Apparently the European captain of the Ryder Cup team left Luke Donald off the team, in a semi-controversial move.
Quick question: All I know about the Ryder Cup is that it is broadcast on NBC, but wouldn’t it be cool if the Americans could add Donald to their team, just to add a little WWE-style drama to the event? Just askin’…..
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Why so much day baseball on Labor Day? Teams shouldn't have to play day games if they traveled the day before-- hurts quality of the product. Game in Miami with the Mets Monday was an awful display-- not very good concentration.
12) What mental midget designed the Marlins' stadium? When Giancarlo Stanton bolts Miami for greener pa$ture$, part of the reason will be how many home runs that ballpark cost him. Your best player is a slugger; build a normal ballpark.
11) Cole Hamels and three relievers combined to no-hit the Braves in Atlanta; he walked five guys, struck out seven, so his pitch count got to 108 after six innings, and he got pulled with nine outs to go.
10) Florida Gators suspended three players for the Idaho game Saturday; the game got postponed after one play due to lightning, but the three guys got off the hook and were re-instated. The seldom-seen one play suspension.
9) Arkansas-Auburn were 21-all at halftime Saturday; Razorback coaches in the press box got stuck in an elevator going to the locker room and never made it there to make halftime adjustments. Auburn outscored the Hogs 24-0 in the second half.
8) There is a reality show about Arena Football on cable these days; the LA Kiss are featured, partially owned by Paul Stanley/Gene Simmons of KISS, who appear to know very little about sports. The Kiss are an expansion team, but they keep talking about their team winning a championship this year, which would be really, really unusual, almost miraculous.
No one associated with the team has the onions to tell Stanley/Simmons that it takes a while for a team to become good, as in....years. Will be interesting to see how they react when the unevitable losing starts. Name of the show is 1st and Loud.
One more thing about the show: the coaches come off like morons, just yelling and screaming at players like Bobby Knight-wannabes. Not good.
7) Buffalo Bills named six team captains this weekend, none of whom is the QB, EJ Manuel. Not a great sign for Manuel.
6) Texas Longhorns' QB David Ash (concussion) will miss this week's game vs BYU; Texas also lost center Espinosa for the season, a big blow.
5) Tulane will christen new Yulman Stadium this weekend, playing on-campus for the first time since the Superdome opened almost 40 years ago. Hard to believe, but Tulane Stadium once hosted three Super Bowl, in the 70's.
4) Red Sox TV guy Don Orsillo was talking about team dress codes Monday; he said when Terry Francona managed the Sox, his team's dress code was "....don't look as bad as I do." Seems like everyone likes Francona.
3) NBC's golf announcers talk too much about the Ryder Cup, like its the most important event of the year. Here's a clue; Chris Kirk won $1.44M this week; am guessing that means more to him than playing in the Ryder Cup, even if it is going to be broadcast on NBC.
Kirk is also first in the Fed Ex Cup standings; think the $10M first prize means a little to him?
2) USC ran over 100 plays for 700+ yards against Fresno State Saturday; this week, the competition stiffens, with the Stanford game on tap. Big early season tilt.
1) Adam Dunn's first AB for Oakland was a homer, as the A's scored five times in first inning and won a big game against Seattle, behind Jason Hammel's pitching.
Monday's List of 13: Happy Labor Day, everyone.........
13) Had my fantasy football draft Sunday; amazing how late Eli Manning went, like no one thinks he can play anymore. Am guessing he does better this year.
12) I watch these NASCAR races and the cynic in me thinks the caution flags near the end of the race are intentional, to create dramatic finishes.
11) Maybe its just me, but RGIII is a little young to have a statue of himself outside Baylor's new football stadium, even if he is a big reason why the thing got built. How about waiting until he turns 30 or something.........
10) Watching an old Tennessee-Auburn game on SEC Network, just heard Keith Jackson say "they've got to hunker down...." and I smiled.
9) Croatia 90, Argentina 85-- Guy playing for Croatia lost six teeth during this game but returned to play later on-- did he used to play hockey?
8) Should be noted that Turkey has one NBA player (Omar Asik) on its team and they led Team USA by 5 at the half.
7) Surprised that Houston cut Case Keenum after they traded for Ryan Mallett; someone will pick Keenum up- he started eight games last year.
6) In last five weeks, Minnesota Timberwolves have sold 500 new season ticket packages, I guess because people are glad they traded for Andrew Wiggins, who is a Canadian. Wolves had lost around 1,100 of their 7,400 season ticket holders from last year, but have about half of them back now.
5) Brewers' farmhand Nathan Orf played all nine positions in a Class A minor league game Sunday; he started at catcher, ended it on the mound.
4) As I type this, Indians-Royals are in a rain delay in 10th inning of the Sunday night game in Kansas City; Tribe has a 4:00 home game Monday against Detroit, in another important series. Tough scheduling spot there, but at least Kluber flew home a day early and will be well-rested.
3) Oakland traded for Adam Dunn, saving White Sox $1.25M in salary-- Dunn will retire after the season, this is a chance for him to play playoff baseball before he ends a long and interesting career.
2) Rough weekend for my A's, who have four weeks left to right the ship and make the playoffs. Baseball is a six-month grind; there are ups and downs, but this is one terrible time for the A's to hit the skids. They head home now, time for some wins.
1) Baseball playoffs if they started today:
NL-- Washington-Mil or StL-Dodgers. Wild Card: Giants/Mil or StL
AL-- Baltimore-Kansas City-Angels. Wild Card: A's-Detroit
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a college football weekend
13) LSU trailed Wisconsin 24-7 with 10:20 left in third quarter, before a successful fake punt led to a field goal that started a 21-0 run that gave the Bayou Bengals an unlikely 28-24 win over the Badgers in Houston Saturday night.
Wisconsin changed QBs this year because they wanted a more mobile QB, but the new QB was 8-24/50 passing and that ain't good enough to win at this level.
12) Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31-- Somebody better teach Jimbo Fisher about game management; with 3:58 left, FSU scored to go up 36-24 and didn't go for two points to make it 38-24. At that point, 36-24 is the same as 37-24, so they had to go for two to protect against two late Oklahoma State TD's- OSU almost got the ball back down 37-31, which would've made for some nervous Seminoles.
11) Arizona kicker Casey Skowron was studnt manager of the woman's soccer team at Arizona, before he joined the football team-- he kicked three field goals in Friday's game, including a 49-yarder.
10) Texas A&M 52, South Carolina 28-- Kenny Hill was 44-60/511 in his first start as a college QB. Kevin Sumlin's teams score a lot of points.
9) Penn State 26, Central Florida 24-- People in Ireland saw a terrific game, with Lions kicking a 36-yard FG at the gun for the win. Penn State avenged last year's loss at home to the Golden Knights.
8) Ohio State 34, Navy 17-- Middies led 14-13 at half, but gave up a defensive TD early in third quarter. JT Barrett was 12-15/226 passing, but he didn't run the ball real well. This game was closer than the final score indicates.
7) What genius at ESPN decided to replace Brent Musburger with Chris Fowler on the main primetime game each week? This is blatant age discrimination; anyone who thinks Fowler is better than Musburger is a nitwit, plain and simple.
6) UL-Monroe 17, Wake Forest 10-- ULM beat Wake for the second year in a row, as Deacons are 3rd-youngest team in country and are playing a true freshman at the most important position on the field, quarterback. Wake had 5 first downs-- 5.
5) UCLA 28, Virginia 20-- Bruins led 21-10 at half, but all three TDs were scored by the UCLA defense. Bruins had trouble protecting their QB.
4) Western Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 31-- Hilltopper QB Brandon Doughty was 46-56/569 passing, with six TDs- thats a full day's work.
3) North Dakota State 34, Iowa State 14-- Bison have now won five games in a row vs I-A opponents-- why would a I-A schedule this I-AA titan? This is a really bad loss for the Cyclones, by three TDs to a I-AA team.
2) Syracuse and NC State both beat I-AA opponents by one point, not a good omen as they head towards ACC play. Villanova went for a 2-point play and the win in OT in the Carrier Dome, but they didn't make it and the Orangemen escaped.
1) Temple (+14.5), Texas-San Antonio (+12.5) were the biggest pointspread underdogs to win straight up this weekend.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) If you like to surf the web, I’ve got a good website for you (for AFTER you read this one :-)) . Fivethirtyeight.com, they’ve got a mixture of sports and politics, lot of smart people who write about interesting topics. I think you’ll enjoy it.
12) Wonder if anyone at Duke University (quietly) wishes Mike Krzyzewski would spend more time on campus at Duke and less time circling the globe coaching Team USA in these FIBA tournaments. I’m just askin’
11) Suspended WR Josh Gordon cannot play in the CFL this season unless the Browns were to release him, which they’ll never do. Clear-cut rule about CFL not signing NFL players who are under contract and suspended.
10) Why was Sammy Watkins playing Thursday night, if he has bad ribs? Why was he playing, if he didn’t have bad ribs? It’s the fourth exhibition game; no one of value plays in those games.
9) Speaking of which, Tom Brady did get on the field for the Patriots Thursday, but only to hold for kicks. Would he be the greatest player of the last 35 years (probably since Joe Theismann) to hold for kicks?
8) David Price has had three games this season where he got 30+ called strikes; there have been only 20 of these games all season and Price has three of them, which helps explain why Bronx beat him pretty badly earlier this week.
Last time he pitched against New York, Price got 33 called strikes, so obviously this time, the Bombers were determined to be more aggressive against Price and they wound up getting nine straight hits in an 8-run inning against him.
7) That said, you have to be damned good to give up nine straight hits; who else would be allowed to stay in a game that long, other than a really good pitcher?
6) Nebraska (28) and Florida State (24) have the longest active winning streaks in college football season openers.
5) University of Maryland will be selling pretzels at their football games that weigh 1.5 pounds; must be a lot of salt on them. Who can eat a 24-ounce pretzel?
4) If Kevin Sumlin wants to be an NFL head coach, you have to think his chance is around the corner; the way Kenny Hill played Thursday, in his first college start, after Sumlin coached Case Keenum and Johnny Manziel—the man has produced some prodigious offenses, for sure. NFL is going to come calling this winter.
3) I’ve never eaten in a Waffle House, but I want to one day; was at one in Florida once, but just before we got seated, the lone waitress got in a screaming match with the manager, threw her apron at him and quit. I looked at my buddy and we trudged off to some other bad food place, waffle-less. They’re all over the south, so next time I’m down that way I’ll get my waffles.
2) Daniel Snyder wants the Redskins to get a new stadium; good luck with funding for that, while he battles to keep the team’s name intact. His current stadium is only 17 years old, so he’s also being a greedy bastard, wanting a new building when the one he has is perfectly fine. Maybe that’s how you get rich, just keep being greedy.
1) Milwaukee ace Yovani Gallardo got 15 misses on 53 swings in a game at Wrigley earlier this month, but in three starts since, he’s only gotten eight misses on 139 swings, which is a big red flag. He didn’t have a strikeout in San Diego Wednesday; you have to wonder if he is healthy. If he isn’t, that’s bad news for the Brew Crew.
Friday's List of 13: Things I'm looking for this weekend.......
13) Georgia-Clemson is too good a game to be played on August 30, but TV networks want good programming every week. Hard to believe that prior to last year, these old rivals went 10 years without playing.
12) NFL teams will make final cuts this weekend; lesser teams will pick up guys the better teams cut. Starting QB’s will be chosen, as Opening Day of the NFL season rapidly approaches.
11) My fantasy football draft is Sunday, as I try and atone for last year’s dismal performance, in my first foray into fantasy football in over 20 years. Hopefully I won’t go thru seven QB’s again this season.
10) QB situation at Alabama will be interesting; McElroy/McCarron won a ton of games between them the last few years, but now a new guy will be under center. No clear-cut #1 quarterback emerged from summer camp.
9) Baltimore Orioles need to make hay at home against the Twins; if Buck Showalter doesn’t win AL Manager of the Year, we need an investigation.
8) Washington goes to Hawai’i in Chris Petersen’s first game as Huskies’ coach, but without starting QB Miles (suspended). Not good to get suspended from the Hawai’I trip. Petersen was 92-12 at Boise State; curious to see how he does following Steve Sarkisian at U-Dub.
7) Tennessee is only team in America with no returning starters on either the offensive or defensive line; they host a Utah State squad that is 15-4 vs spread as a road underdog, and has a Tennessee transfer as a starting CB.
6) Felix Hernandez lasted less than six innings in each of his last two starts, then had this start pushed back to Friday night; is he healthy? Seattle’s playoff push is obviously very dependent on his good health.
5) What genius decided that Central Florida-Penn State would be an 8:30am kickoff on Saturday? Why play in Ireland? Game was supposed to be head coaches O’Leary vs O’Brien, but that got messed up when O'Brien went to the NFL.
4) Marlins go to Atlanta as they try to stay in Wild Card race. Moving Marcell Ozuna to #4 slot, right behind Giancarlo Stanton, hasn’t been a success yet this week, for either guy.
3) LSU-Wisconsin is bigger game for Badgers, as Big 14 teams try to show they’re on a par with SEC/Pac 12 teams (they’re not). Les Miles doesn’t have much experience at QB, but he has two guys who can play.
2) Bartolo Colon is scheduled to pitch for the Mets Saturday, while Angels don’t have a starting pitcher listed for Saturday. Will Colon be an Angel by the time you read this?
1) A’s-Angels is obviously a big series this weekend in AL West race. Oakland hasn’t hit much lately, and their infield defense has been spotty without Lowrie at SS. Angels are going to miss Garrett Richards every fifth day, for sure.
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Cross Josh Gordon off your fantasy draft lists; he got a year’s suspension from NFL Wednesday. Not good for the Browns to lose their best player, though doubt they’re very surprised by the verdict. Too bad; he was highly productive last year.
12) How productive? Gordon (2,451) is 5th on all-time list of receiving yards in his first two NFL seasons. Randy Moss (2,726) is 1st, Jerry Rice (2,497) 3rd.
11) If you see a young pitcher you like get sent to AAA in the next day or two, don’t panic; it’s a paper move designed to create an extra roster spot until Monday, when rosters expand to 40 players from 25. James Paxton pitched Tuesday and won’t throw again til Monday, he’s useless on Seattle's roster, so they “send him down” and will "bring him back" Monday.
Meanwhile, they’ve got an extra hitter or reliever to use until then
10) Royals’ skipper Ned Yost picked a bad time to rip his team’s fans, after Tuesday’s dramatic walk-off win. Less than 14,000 fans showed up, but school has started and it was hot as hell out. Kansas City has a lot of positive momentum; don’t need the manager dragging everyone down by complaining about the attendance on a Tuesday night.
9) Rumors are afloat and being denied by the NHL, that by 2017 there will be four new expansion teams, in Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City and a second Toronto team. Friend of mine who knows a lot about hockey cringed when I mentioned Las Vegas to him—“Do you know what hockey players do when they drink? No one will want to coach that team.” Hmmmm
8) Looks like for the first time since 1999, there won’t be a top 25 team in the preseason college football poll from outside the five BCS conferences. Marshall is said to be the best of those teams this year.
7) New IPod screens are rumored to be 12.9 inches, up from 9.7 inches in the last edition. New IPhones will have a 5.5-inch screen, as companies scramble for tiny differences which will help them grab a bigger share of the market.
6) Dayton Flyers add 5-9 guard Ryan Bass, who scored 9.3 ppg for Oakland two years ago; Bass is from Dayton, Flyers need some backcourt depth. He’s eligible to play right away.
5) Apparently, some people have taken to chewing coffee grounds as a substitute for chewing tobacco, which has been proven to cause cancer. Chewing coffee sounds disgusting, but at least it isn’t bad for you.
4) Sad day for longtime Arena Football fans; the Iowa Barnstormers went out of business. That’s the AFL team Kurt Warner played for in the mid-90’s, before his meteoric rise to NFL fame.
3) There is a good reality show on cable on Tuesday nights about the Los Angeles Kiss of the AFL, owned partly by musicians Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons; shows lot of behind the scenes stuff about an Arena Football team.
2) There is pressure on Wisconsin/Penn State to play well in non-league games this weekend, as Big 14 fights knock of being an inferior league to the SEC, Pac-12. Nittany Lions lost at home to UCF last year; now they’re playing them in Ireland.
1) It is very easy to visualize the 4-team college football playoff expanding to an 8-team deal, seeing as there are five BCS leagues, plus the non-BCS schools are going to want in too, and their fans have money to spend, so they’ll get invited eventually. Not sure it’ll ever get to 16 teams, but I’d bet it gets to eight and fairly soon.
Wednesday's List of 13: Mid-week musings on a hot day....
13) Patriots traded their best offensive lineman, Logan Mankins (who is 32) to Tampa Bay for TE Tim Wright and a 4th-round pick. Wright played for former Bucs’ coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers; Belichick is friends with Schiano. Bucs have enough cap room to absorb Mankins’ salary. Interesting trade.
12) CBSsports.com pointed out Tuesday that in the last five college football national title games, seven of the ten starting QB’s had never started a college game before that season………
11)…….. I‘ve spent more than a few hours this summer tracking what college teams have experience and who doesn’t; when I read that factoid, wasn’t sure if I had been wasting my time or not. Probably not, but still, Manziel/Winston won last two Heismans, both in their freshman year. Unusual for sure.
10) 49ers tore up the turf on their new Levi’s Stadium field again Monday; their home opener is September 14 against the Bears—they were still debating yesterday what type of grass to put down, kind of like they would at a golf course.
9) Burger King bought Tim Horton’s donut franchise for $11B this week and will move its headquarters to Canada. The two BKs in my town both closed up in the last few years but apparently elsewhere they’re thriving.
8) Cubs brought up another of their prospects, OF Jorge Soler, who is said to be a good hitter, but why did they trade Jeff Samardzija for a shortstop prospect, when they already had three solid middle infield prospects?
Pitching is and always will be the most essential element of the game and the Cubs’ farm system isn’t producing many of them.
7) Rays’ SS Yunel Escobar basically refused to get traded to the A’s, after they claimed him on waivers, so now he becomes my most disliked player in baseball. He already had a reputation as a bad actor, but has done well with Joe Maddon in Tampa, which is apparently why he wants to stay there. Good for him.
6) Quick Lane, a tire/auto care place, and the Detroit Lions are sponsoring a bowl game at Ford Field in December, replacing the old Little Caeser’s Bowl. This bowl will have better teams, Big 14 vs ACC. Think the Caeser’s Bowl was MAC vs Sun Belt or C-USA.
5) Turner Broadcasting is laying off 550 people this month; hopefully one of them is Shaquille O’Neal, since I can rarely understand what he is saying on the NBA studio show anyway.
4) Since July 1, Houston’s Chris Carter leads MLB in home runs; he is this generation's Rob Deer-- lot of homers, lot of strikeouts
3) USC DB Josh Shaw has two sprained ankles; how he got them is now a mystery, since it appears his story of jumping off a 2nd-story balcony to save his 7-year old nephew from drowning might not be the truth. Oy.
2) Sounds like an 18-game NFL regular season will be on the table at the next labor negotiations; Jerry Jones usually gets what he wants.
1) Royals 2, Twins 1-- Alex Gordon hit a dramatic walk-off homer as Royals move to 15 games over .500 with this unlikely win.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Is Russell Wilson a top 10 NFL QB? Well if he is, he’s better than at least three of these 12 guys, plus a few others-- you make the call.
12) Major League Baseball needs to announce who in New York City is reviewing these instant replays and making important decisions; in other words, teams need to know who is hosing them on close replay reviews. Maybe they do know, but I’d like to know, too.
11) Peyton Manning has 491 TD passes, needs 18 more to pass Brett Favre for #1 on the all-time list. He’ll have it before Columbus Day.
10) The catch Marlins’ SS Adeiny Hechevarria made in short centerfield in the 12th inning Saturday was a great, great play that saved the game at the time for the Marlins, who later lost the game, but this was a great play. If other shortstops loved by the media ever made a play half this good to save a game, they’d be showing it on Sports Center for the next decade.
9) Rams-Browns game has yet to be re-run on NFL Network because Browns' TV violated some rule about virtual advertising on the broadcast, so the network wouldn’t use their telecast as a re-run. Supposedly they’re going to air the Rams’ broadcast later this week. Curious to see Austin Davis play; think he could help the Rams at QB, down the road.
8) Northern California wine industry took a hit this weekend with 6.1 earthquake, biggest one in that area since the ’89 quake that happened during the World Series. Over a hundred people were injured this weekend.
7) Angels acquired Gordon Beckham from the White Sox to play third base, a position he hadn’t played since 2009. A’s traded for Geovany Soto because John Jaso is having concussion problems again and Steven Vogt can’t catch right now because of a foot problem.
6) I love statistics, but I’m not fond of WAR as a one-stop shopping kind of player evaluator tool. There are too many intangibles, too much of a human element in the game to rely on one number to define a player’s worth. Player might be terrific on the field, but his teammates hate the guy- that stuff doesn’t factor in and it can’t possibly, but it could be important. There will always be a gray area where instinct has to be used to evaluate, whether the Ivy League alums like it or not.
5) Lines on Ohio State football games swung anywhere from 4.5 to 7 points because of Braxton Miller’s injury; lines on Ram games have dropped only a couple points after Sam Bradford’s injury. NFL teams generally have higher quality subs and better coaching to make up for injuries, and some of that is now wishful thinking on my part, but I do think it is true.
4) Speaking of Sam Bradford, he’ll have banked $65M in his first five NFL seasons, while playing only 49 of a possible 80 games, zero in the playoffs. Good luck with your next team, sir. He’s a good guy, just not a durable one.
3) Say what you want about Eli Manning, but every Sunday at 1:00 he takes the field and that is an important quality. Durability might not be a skill per se, but if you have it, it’s a huge plus.
2) Arizona State’s PG Jahii Carson left college early because he thought he was an NBA player, but now the young man has gone to Australia to start his pro career. If he had stayed in Tempe another year and really improved his skills, say shooting, would that have made him an NBA player? He’s making money now so good for him, but you wonder if cheated himself by leaving ASU early.
1) NFL and DirecTV are close to re-upping their deal for the Sunday Ticket, at $1.3B or $1.4B a year, for the next 6-8 years. Now we need DirecTV to add the Pac-12 Network; for what we pay for their service, its not too much to ask.
Monday's List of 13: Some of my favorite quotes........
13) "You're the one who put me here!!!!"
June 1998. A 12-year old third baseman had just made three errors against my Little League team, his coach was giving him more than a little grief and finally the kid had enough. I was standing 20 feet away; was laughing so hard I had to walk further away-- one of the great lines ever.
12) "If you have no destination, you'll never get there." Harvey Mackay
11) "There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people." Thomas Jefferson
10) "When I wake up in the morning and I turn that film on, it's like reading a book and it's exciting. I don't read books, but if I read books it would be like reading a book." LSU football coach Les Miles
9) "You're only given one little spark of madness. You musn't lose it." Robin Williams
8) “My rule was I wouldn’t recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house. That’s not my world. My world has a cracked sidewalk.” college basketball coach, the late Al McGuire
7) "I love money. I love everything about it. I've bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks, got a fur sink. Let's see, bought an electric dog polisher, a gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater, and, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too." Steve Martin
6) "Listen, Lupus, you didn't come into this life just to sit around on a dugout bench, did ya? Now get your ass out there and do the best you can." Coach Buttermaker from the Bad News Bears
5) “We will rally around Kurt Warner, and we will play good football.” Dick Vermeil, August 1999
4) “America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked.” David Letterman
3) "Career highlights? I had two. I got an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax and I got out of a rundown against the Mets.” Bob Uecker, who hit 14 HRs in his major league career, with three of them against Hall of Fame pitchers. Really.
2) “What the world needs is less mental hospitals and more minor league baseball.” Bill Murray in Rolling Stone magazine, 1982
1) "There's no such thing as a sure thing. Thats why they call it gambling." Oscar Madison, from the Odd Couple
Sunday's List of 13: Random stuff on a summer day......
13) Recruiting is an inexact science. Saints' QB Drew Brees only got three D-I offers coming out out of high school and he went to high school in Texas: Purdue-Kentucky-Brown, and Ivy League schools don't give athletic scholarships.
12) Saints' TE Jimmy Graham got fined $30,000 for dunking the ball over the goal posts twice last week, while Johnny Manziel got fined $12,000 for giving the finger to the opposing bench while he was on the field. Which offense is worse?
11) The baseball used in the major leagues is bigger than the one used by teams in Japan; takes some adjustment by the Asian pitchers when they come here.
10) Bruce Pearl's show-cause penalty ended at midnight and Auburn is recruiting its butt off- they've already landed top 10 small forward Danjel Purifoy and have more recruits on campus Sunday. You need talented athletes to run/press like Pearl's teams do, so recruiting becomes more important than X's/O's, at the start.
9) Was watching a replay of LY's Georgia-Auburn game on SEC Network (they replay A LOT of football games); amazing how lucky Auburn got last year, between that game and then of course the Alabama game. Curious to see this year if Auburn has as much good fortune, especially after QB Marshall got busted for posssession of weed this summer. Coaches don't like distractions.
8) Over last decade, Notre Dame's football team is 27-48 vs spread when they're favored to win. Not very good, no matter who the coach has been.
7) If you had ESPN on Saturday afternoon, you saw that Eastern Washington has a red artificial turf football field, like Boise State's blue field. Hard on the eyes, if you're watching it on TV.
6) Losing team in Baylor's last three bowl games averaged 44.8 ppg; average total in those games was a ridiculous 97.3. Bears won two of the three games.
5) In a six-inning stretch bridgeing Friday/Saturday games, Twins scored 23 runs against Detroit. Tigers' pitching was hurting wiith Verlander/Sanchez hurt, but they did get Verlander back last night.
4) Hunter Pence played in his 350th consecutive game Saturday, longest active streak in the major leagues.
3) Home teams are 20-4 this season when Gerry Davis umps the plate; they're 7-19 when Clint Fagan calls balls and strikes. We have umpire data most days here on the baseball page-- its pretty enlightening.
2) Whats the coolest idea you've seen for a trophy for winning a fantasy league? There is one website that makes actual championship belts for winning, like they have on pro wrestling. Thats a little much, but unique.
1) Its a little eerie when I go on websites, and the ads on those sites are for other sites I've visited recently. Obviously they have a way of knowing where I've surfed the web and I'm not good with that. Guess thats how they make more money.
Saturday's List of 13: My suggestions for Rob Manfred..........
13) Geographic realignment. Bud Selig wanted to do this, but got rebuffed on it. Too bad. Here is the way I would re-align the divisions:
12) The schedule.........
72 games-- Play four division rivals 18 times each......
60 games-- Six games against other 10 teams in conference
30 games-- Six games against five teams in division in the other conference, which alternates every year.
11) Leave pace of play alone, it is not a problem, except for the media. One of baseball’s strengths is that it doesn’t have a clock, it makes it unique. If you have to do something to speed up games, eliminate visits to the mound within a half-inning.
10) With that in mind, coaches do not come on the field during games; no stalling on the mound; you want to change pitches, just sub him like it was a basketball game. Call time, signal the new guy in.
9) Players are only people who should wear uniforms; why do baseball coaches wear uniforms anyway?
8) No activity is washed out; if game gets rained out in second inning, you pick it up from the point of interruption. Anything that happens counts.
7) All-Star Game goes to a USA vs World format; this would increase the competitiveness of the game, believe me. Home field in World Series is decided by who wins season series between Eastern and Western Conference.
6) Move trade deadline back to August 31; with second Wild Card, not many teams are out of contention by July 31. Trading creates interest.
5) Would it be too much to ask for all the warm weather/dome teams to play at home the first week each season? It won't be something that eliminates rainouts, but it should help reduce them.
4) Get rid of the designated hitter. Placate the players’ union with an increase of 60 jobs; go to 27-man rosters, but only increase rosters to 33 after September 1.
3) There is a place for the DH; spring training and All-Star games. DH would be optional for spring games, but since outcomes don’t matter, teams could use it to get guys more at-bats. As for the All-Star Game, no one wants to see a pitcher bat in one of those.
2) Its OK to imitate a good idea. Have managers throw the red flag for replay reviews, instead of going out on the field. Its just simpler. Overall, I like the replay system, but having managers go out there to stall to see if they want to challenge a play doesn’t seem right. Just use the flag system.
1) This is very important and probably the least likely thing to happen: $80M salary floor, $160M salary cap. Imagine how great the sport would be with more competitive balance, like in NFL or NBA or the NFL. Teams should be able to retain their own home-grown stars.
Small market teams can compete in small windows, but not over the long term. This way, everyone would have a chance, every year. Except the stupid teams.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here......
13) Great to hear Jim Kelly get good news this week; he still needs our prayers, but things are looking up in his fight against cancer. Know someone who sat next to Kelly on a flight few years back; says he’s a terrific guy, a regular guy, in addition to being a Hall of Famer. We obviously wish him the best.
12) In the last 25 days, the ALS Association has raised around $42M, mostly thru the Ice Bucket Challenge. Totally amazing, just a great job by the ALS people.
11) Had to be weird for David Price to pitch against his old team the Rays in his old home stadium yesterday. His whole pro career had been with Tampa Bay; he only got traded last month. Price lost 1-0 despite allowing only one hit.
10) For some reason, the Toronto Blue Jays think the Creighton Bluejays’ new logo looks too much like theirs and want them to come up with a new one.
Huh? Blue jays are blue jays, no? One faces left, the other right; they do look alike but its because they represent the same darned thing, a blue jay? Of course they look alike!!! Don’t those Toronto people have anything better to do?
9) 10 of last year’s 12 starting QB’s in the Pac-12 conference are back this season, compared to only four of 12 in ACC, five of 12 in Big X, six of 14 in the SEC. At first glance, it’s a down year for QB’s in the SEC.
8) Zack Greinke has a sore elbow; his start was pushed back from Thursday to Saturday, with Kershaw/Haren each moving up a day. Solid break for the Mets, who miss Kershaw now.
7) Next ballplayer from Cuba to make a lot of money here will be OF Rusney Castillo, being sought after by as many as six MLB teams. He showed surprising power in workouts and the success of Abreu/Cespedes figures to drive the price up a little more.
6) VCU beat out North Carolina, Indiana and Georgetown for services of HS guard Kenny Williams. Anytime VCU beats the Tar Heels out for a recruit, that’s a big statement made by coach Shaka Smart.
5) QB Braxton Miller’s season-ending shoulder surgery resulted in lines on Ohio State games being adjusted 4.5-7 points away from the Buckeyes.
4) New Southern Miss basketball coach Doc Sadler had one starter coming back from Donnie Tyndall’s last USM team, but he’s transferred now, so the Golden Eagles are basically starting from scratch under Sadler this fall. No wonder every time I walked into a gym in Las Vegas last month, Sadler was already there, watching prospects play.
3) Hard to believe, but the guy who hired Charlie Weis as the football coach at Kansas is the same guy who hired Bill Self as basketball coach. He'll be hiring a new football coach pretty soon; Weis is stupendously overrated.
2) Tom Coughlin suggests the NFL move the ball to the 1-yard line for PAT’s; if they did that (instead of the 2, where it is now) would more teams go for 2-point conversions? I’m thinking they would.
1) “I can find anyone with a cellphone in less han 90 seconds.” Heard a cop in a TV show say that last week; is that true? If so, it’s a little scary.
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Browns did the wise thing and named a starting QB; doesn’t matter who it was (it was Brian Hoyer); just matters that they diffused the media onslaught and can now go about the business of prepping for their season opener and can also work on developing their rookie QB at his own pace. Good for them.
12) Look at it this way: Browns’ first three games are: Steelers-Saints-Ravens; which one of those three, if any, are they winning? Cleveland has a Week 4 bye, then they can insert young Manziel in at QB, if he’s earned the spot. Easier to go from Hoyer to Manziel than it would be to go from Manziel to Hoyer.
11) This could be the first season since 2007 where no rookie QB will start in Week 1; ’07 was the draft that blessed us with JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn.
10) Solid show of mental toughness Tuesday by Astros’ DH Chris Carter, this generation’s Rob Deer, who struck out in his first four AB’s, then crushed the game-winning 3-run homer in the 9th inning. Would’ve been easy to go in the tank and call it a night, but he hung in there and emerged a hero.
9) Astros’ pitching prospect Mark Appel was 2-5, 9.74 in 12 Class A starts this season, but Houston has a small fortune invested in him, so they promoted him to AA anyway, annoying some others in the Astros’ system.
Appel is 0-1, 3.98 in four AA starts; he recently complained that they weren’t letting him pitch deep enough into games. Astros have a different way of cultivating their pitching prospects; they need some of these prospects to bloom soon, if they’re going to improve anymore- they have gotten better this year.
8) Former used car salesman Allen H. Selig was in Oakland this week; the lights worked, the plumbing didn’t overflow and Selig visited his frat brother from Wisconsin, A’s owner Lew Wolff. Selig emerged saying the A’s need a new ballpark, but he’s been saying that for five years and nothing has happened.
7) As an A’s fan, I love the Oakland Coliseum; it has character, it gives the A’s a home field advantage, because its cruddy and no one likes going there. Having a new stadium is no cure-all; ask the Twins, who won a lot more in the Metrodome than they have in Target Field, which should’ve been built with a retractable dome. Just because you have more revenue doesn’t mean you’ll spend it the right way.
6) Odd Fact of the Day: A’s manager Bob Melvin got one of his first baseball jobs because his great aunt played bridge with Bud Selig’s parents. Thank God for that; if not for bridge, the A’s might not be as good now. Who knew?
5) SLS Hotel is opening in Las Vegas this weekend; it is supposed to be really nice, they have SLS hotels in Miami and Los Angeles, will have to check it out in November when I’m out there. Doubt the Armadillo can afford to stay there, but you never know.
4) SNY had some cool video Tuesday of the 1971 All-Star Game, of Vida Blue striking out Cardinal 3B Joe Torre. A’s had uniforms with white vests over green sleeves; took me back to my childhood seeing those clips. Good stuff
3) Forbes magazine’s three most valuable NFL franchises: Cowboys-Patriots-Redskins.
Stop with this BS of not calling the Redskins by their name. Political correctness has become nauseating. No one is disrespecting Native Americans by calling this football team the Redskins.
Daniel Snyder could make a freakin’ fortune by caving in, changing the name, then selling millions of dollars in apparel with a new nickname on it. Who would fault him, but he hasn’t done it. We’ll see how it plays out, but I sincerely do not think the name is disrespectful.
2) This hasn’t been a great week for the Reds: their game Saturday was rained out on a sunny night in Denver because of a water main break, then Sunday, they lost a doubleheader, when they led Game One 9-5 in 9th inning, Game Two 5-2 in the 7th inning. From there they moved on to St Louis, where they lost 6-5 Monday in 10 innings, 5-4 Tuesday, another bullpen loss, before ace Johnny Cueto losy 7-3 in the series finale Wednesday. Makes people wish Dusty Baker was back.
1) One of the most fascinating part of modern sports for me is the tug of war between modern analytics and old-school philosophy, which is more sound?
I love numbers, but you can go overboard with them. There is a human element to sports and team building that cannot be ignored. Old school horse sense has its place, but there has to be balance. The best franchises have that balance and that’s why they give themselves the best chance to succeed.
Wednesday's List of 13: NFL knowledge for a summer day
Some food for thought with the NFL season only 15 days away……….
13) Seahawks won/covered 10 of last 11 home openers, including last five in row; under is 11-1-1 in their last 13 home openers.
12) Saints won six of last seven meetings against their rivals from Atlanta, with five of last six wins by 6 or less points.
11) Pittsburgh has treated Browns like a pinata, winning 19 of 20 meetings, last three by 14-16-13 points; Cleveland lost last nine visits to Steel City, last six by 11+ points. We'll see if Johnny Manziel can help change that trend.
10) Philadelphia is just 9-23 vs spread at home the last four years, 9-17 as home favorite, 0-2 when laying double digits.
9) Baltimore won its last nine home openers, covering seven, with all nine wins by 7+ points. Bengals started 0-1 five of last six years; they lost five of last seven road openers.
8) Buffalo is just 4-15-1 as road underdogs last three years; they’re 0-5 at Soldier Field, with four losses by 17+ points- their last visit to Windy City was a 40-7 loss in ‘06.
7) Houston went 2-14 LY, losing last 14 games after going 24-10 in previous 34; they won their last four home openers, covering three, scoring 30+ points in all four.
6) Since ‘07, Chiefs are 5-19-1 vs. spread as home favorite; Reid covered once in his last eight home openers KC is 1-6-1 vs. spread in its last eight. Tennessee covered five of its last seven road openers.
5) Over last decade, Patriots are 16-8-2 as road favorite in division games, 57-31-5 as single digit favorite overall. Miami’s last five home openers went over total.
4) Carolina started last five seasons 0-1; they scored 10-7 points in losing last two season openers; five of Panthers’ last six road openers went over total.
3) 49ers are 19-5-2 as single digit favorite under Harbaugh, 10-4 as road favorites, 3-0 in season openers, winning by 16-8-6 points, while scoring 33-30-34 points. Since ‘06, Dallas is 6-2 as home underdog, 4-1 under Garrett.
2) Indy lost three of last four road openers, with all three losses by 10+ points; the last six years, they’re 0-6 vs. spread in Week 1 games. Manning is 9-5 vs. spread in home openers; Denver is 22-3 SU in last 25 home openers, covering four of last five.
1) Lions won last three home openers, scoring 36.3 ppg; they’re 7-1-1 vs. spread in last nine home openers, with last four going over total. Last three years, Giants are 11-6 as road underdogs.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) Last season, NFL games had an average of 105.6 penalty yards; in two weeks of exhibition games this summer, there have been 164.3 penalty yards per game, as back judges need a whirlpool for their throwing arms with so many flags getting tossed. No one pays to watch officials; league office better be careful regular season games don’t become flagfests. Makes for bad TV, no bueno.
12) Thinking about rookie QB’s starting in the NFL; Steve McNair only started six games in his first couple years with the Oilers/Titans, thought it served him well to watch veteran Chris Chandler play. Teams would be well-advised to being their young QB’s along gradually. I’d even have a young QB play Arena Football for a year, to get them used to the faster pace of the pro game.
11) How do Kyle Shanahan and Lane Kiffin keep getting prime jobs?
10) Read on SI.com Monday that 31 million people play fantasy football. 31 million. That’s a lot of preview magazines and draft kits. Big business.
9) Atlanta LT Sam Baker is out for the year; first-round pick Jordan Matthews will take his place. Baker’s father used to be commissioner of the Arena Football. Matthews’ dad is NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, but Baker’s dad (6-foot-9) is bigger. Go figure.
8) Oregon Ducks need basketball players this year, due to some off-court problems they’ve had which cost them some players; they got a good one this week in 6-6 Dillon Brooks from Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. Young man moved up a year to the Class of 2014 to sign up with the Ducks and be eligible to play this fall. Oregon still has only ten scholarship players.
7) Vanderbilt announced that two kids won’t be coming back next year because of off-court concerns, players who scored 8.0 and 5.4 ppg. Wonder if those two kids had scored 18.0 and 15.4 ppg if those concerns would be as troubling?
6) Serious question: If you’re an NFL coach whose team is playing on Monday Night Football and you’re playing the Redskins, do you mind that you have to have a production meeting with Jon Gruden, whose brother coaches the Redskins? Are there ethical concerns there that Gruden might leak some secrets to his brother?
5) Had never heard until last week that the father of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was a standout coach himself, but had a heart attack during a game and died on the way to the hospital. Team he helped coach was playing against the team his oldest son coached. Awful story; wonder if Bob Stoops ever thought about doing something other than coaching?
4) Kid named Austin Hatch will play basketball for Michigan this fall; he has survived not one, but two airplane crashes in his young life. Will be an inspiration for many when he takes the court for the first time this fall.
3) Arizona Cardinals lost standout DT Darnell Dockett (knee) for the year.
2) Seattle Seahawks are teaching a "tackling strike zone" where players can tackle an opponent without getting a penalty; Pete Carroll has done a video on the subject and lot of high school/youth teams are using it as a teaching tool..
1) Yu Darvish has three years, $31M left on his contract; he cleared waivers and can now be traded to any team. Question is, how healthy is he?
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Cab driver in Las Vegas posted all 23 of his fares on Twitter Saturday, adding what tip they gave him. After 23 fares, he had $69.30 in tips, so I learned that I'm a better than average tipper.
12) Reds-Rockies game was postponed Saturday because of a water main break outside the stadium, on a sunny day. They played a split doubleheader Sunday because Todd Helton's number 17 was retired yesterday- that game was sold out.
11) If you make the Hall of Fame, they'll make a bobblehead of you; former White Sox/A's/Cardinal skipper Tony Larussa had a bobblehead night in Oakland August 9, a figurine day in St Louis yesterday and has a bobblehead day in Chicago Aug. 30.
10) It takes 27 outs to win a ballgame; quality starting pitchers get you 21+ outs on a regular basis; pretty good starters get you 18+ outs. Suspect starters that cannot finish the 6th inning leave the bullpen exposed to overuse.
Teams like Houston/Bronx who struggle late in games, have starters who struggle getting those 18 outs; that puts undue strain on the bullpen.
9) Rough week for the A's, who are 7-10 since Lester/Cespedes trade; not sure if its a blip in schedule- all teams have rough times in a six-month season, or if its a real problem, as in, "...we traded our best hitter and now we can't score."
8) I can make trades in my fantasy league and it does not affect the team, since they are oblivious to what I'm doing-- there is no such thing as team chemistry in fantasy sports, but in Oakland, they basically blew up their offense. Hard as I try, I can't remember a contending team who traded their cleanup hitter during the season.
When the Samardzija trade happened, I wrote, "he (Cespedes) gives the low-budget A's their swagger--once he walks and breaks the bank, a lot of their invincibility goes too," Well, he didn't walk, he got traded and it seems a lot of Oakland's swagger has gone away, at least until someone else steps up and gets some big base hits.
7) It'll all come out in the end next month, whether the trades worked or not, but I wonder if one more trade for a right-handed bat isn't in Billy Beane's future? A's need more pop in their lineup; doesn't matter who pitches if you can't score.
6) Remember how NFL teams always had those Polaroids faxed down to the bench so players could study formations? Polaroids have been replaced by tablets; saw a few guys (including Bill Belichick) looking at tablets during games this weekend.
5) Took 55 at-bats, but Cubs' 2B prospect Javier Baez finally got his first major league walk; he struck out 21 times before that first walk.
4) Shouldn't major league teams have interpreters for all players who struggle to speak English? Asian players seem to have more interpreters than Hispanic guys who struggle just as much, making a living in a foreign country. Can't be easy.
3) The way NFL rules are set up now, if you don't throw a lot of vertical passes, you're a damn fool. Defensive backs aren't allowed to breathe on receivers, there are ton of penalties called on DBs, to point where I think eventually, they'll switch to the college rule, where pass interference is 15 yards. Got to stretch the defense.
2) Memo to directors on NFL games: Don't show hits on QBs in slow motion; it almost always looks like roughing the passer that way. Show it at real speed.
1) Browns-Redskins on ESPN tonight; Johnny Manziel vs RGIII. Browns said they will alternate QBs every third series. Jon Gruden is analyst on game where his brother Jay is coaching the Redskins; not sure how that will go. Browns' game last week got good ratings on NFL Network. Its still just a preseason game.
Sunday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) Getting rid of the DH would help shorten baseball games; which do you think take longer, pitchers' AB's or David Ortiz AB's? Plus, with no DH you get fewer pitching changes within a half-inning, each of which is 4-5 minutes.
12) Greedy bastard update: For a mere $749, you can have two stadium seats from old Candlestick Park, which is being wrecked this year, with 49ers moving to a new stadium. Wonder how many suckers will buy those?
11) Staying in San Francisco for a minute, the baseball Giants are just 9-23 in their last 32 home games. No bueno.
10) New Jersey Giants have a new OC, 37-year old Ben McAdoo; Tom Coughlin's coaching career was already underway for eight years when McAdoo was born.
9) Giants' backup QB Curtis Painter has played in 14 games over his three seasons in the NFL; he started eight games for the Colts in 2011, when Peyton Manning was hurt. Colts were 0-8 in those games; Painter threw six TDs, nine INTs. You would think the Giants could find a better backup QB.
8) One last Giant note: NFL Fact Book lists seven senior VPs, seven regular VPs in the Giants' front office. Steelers list 17 people, in their entire front office.
7) Some NFL regular season games with coaching subplots:
-- Oct 26-- Vikings-Bucs-- Minnesota fired Bucs' DC Leslie Frazier as HC.
-- Nov 23-- Bucs-Bears-- Chicago fired Lovie Smith two years ago.
-- Dec 7-- Colts-Browns-- Cleveland fired Rob Chudzinski, after one year.
6) Bronx Bombers lost five of their last six games, scoring 10 runs; most teams juggle their lineup when they struggle, but Joe Girardi hasn't. Derek Jeter has batted 437 times this season; he's batted in the 2nd slot 427 of those 437 times. Girardi is a smart guy, but appears his hands are tied by having an aging legend on his team.
5) There are 63 offensive/defensive coordinators in the NFL (Houston doesn't list an OC, with Bill O'Brien as HC). 15 of the 63 are former NFL head coaches.
4) Aaron Rodgers looked very sharp in his preseason debut, but its hard to tell; did the Rams game plan on defense? I hope not; they didn't offer much resistence.
3) You look at Bucs' coach Lovie Smith's resume, you see he was at Arizona State from 1988-91, when Larry Marmie was the head coach. You look at Tampa Bay's coaching staff now, you see Larry Marmie as an assistant coach on defensive side of the ball. You want/need assistant coaches you can trust.
2) Kevin Sutherland shot first 59 ever on the Senior Golf Tour and he bogeyed the 18th hole- he shot 71 Friday, only leads by one stroke. Don't think anyone has ever shot a 58 on the PGA Tour; Sutherland would've, if he parred the 18th.
1) Don't just look at the scores: Ravens led 27-10 at halftime in Dallas, but defense scored a TD, then they ran a kick back for a TD. Baltimore's offense never took the field until 3:21 remained in the first quarter- they had a 96-yard TD drive before the half, but the 27 first half points is a little misleading.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Rob Manfred will be next baseball commissioner; other than that, I know zero about the guy. It took him six votes of MLB teams to get the necessary 23 of 30 teams to vote for him; it was 20-10 after one vote, then 22-8 after three, before supposedly the Nationals got tired of being there and voted for Manfred so they could go home (votes took 4.5 hours).
Tampa Bay/Milwaukee were said to be two teams that flipped to get Manfred up to 22 votes. He’s going to be replacing former used car salesman Allen H Selig, someone who loves baseball, owned a team and did his best to improve the game; pretty tough act to follow.
12) Media whining about “pace of game” has gotten old quickly; do these two things and you lop 13-15 minutes off every game, immediately:
a) Ban managers/pitching coaches from ever visiting the mound during an inning, except for injuries and......
b) Cut 30 seconds per half inning of TV commercials; this has as much chance of happening as I have of dating Pamela Anderson, but it is one of the main reasons games take longer, the commercial breaks are longer.
11) Was watching old Florida-Alabama SEC title game late Thursday night on the new SEC Network; eerie watching Aaron Hernandez playi for the Gators, while announcers gushed about “…..what a great pro player this kid is going to be.”
10) Washington Nationals have won their last 11 games at Citi Field; they held the Mets to four runs in their 3-game sweep there this week.
9) Took more than a month, but Cubs finally brought Dan Straily to big leagues, hopefully to replace the hideous Edwin Jackson in the starting rotation. Its about freakin’ time. Straily ain't great, but he's better (and cheaper) than Jackson.
8) This is why coaches jump for bigger contracts: former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe will now be analyzing ACC games on TV. He did tough duty at Wake Forest, getting one of the smallest schools in I-A football to the Orange Bowl game, a miracle of Bill Snyder-esque proportions, but eventually the Deacons didn’t win enough and he got shown the door, seven years after he turned down the Nebraska job.
It takes loyalty to turn Nebraska down and stay at Wake Forest, at least in football; Grobe is a terrific coach and would be a good option for someone next season.
7) Justin Simon, a California PG who has committed to Arizona, will spend his last year of high school at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, a major weather downgrade. Why do kids do this? How does it help them?
He’s already got his scholarship for next year, why give up your last year of being a kid to play prep ball in New Hampshire? I’m sure there’s an excellent reason (play against better competition, maybe get better coaching) but it seems like sometimes, kids just grow up too soon.
6) Brian Hoyer is starting at QB Monday night for Cleveland; he and Johnny Manziel will play two series at a time, alternating playing with the first team OL.
5) Have Troy Tulowitzki and/or Carlos Gonzalez played their last games for the Rockies? They have this year; both are getting operated on, are finished for this season. Been a brutal year for Walt Weiss in Denver; makes you appreciate the job Clint Hurdle did there more and more.
4) Why are the Chargers/Cardinals playing in the last preseason game, then again in the season opener? What genius made that schedule?
3) In 1976, Clemson's weight room cost $250,000 to build. Alabama's new weight room costs $9 million.
2) Thursday night in St Louis, umpire Bob Davidson called the tying run out at the plate in the top of the 8th inning on a close play, but then IMMEDIATELY went to the kid with the replay headphones to ask for a review.
I thought he called the runner out for going out of the baseline—the catcher missed the tag, and replay people let the out call stand, so that had to be it, but the San Diego announcers were outraged and never broached that possibility. Was huge play in the game, for sure and St Louis wound up winning 4-3.
1) Injured pitcher Matt Harvey has to be driving the Mets nuts; he keeps saying he wants to pitch this year, their medical people say he should take it slow (another Met, Jeremy Hefner, re-injured his arm this month and needs another surgery) after Tommy John surgery, but Harvey seems like a spoiled brat who won’t shut up—he did a radio interview during a Met game, saying how he was throwing 95 and was almost ready.
Manager Terry Collins, whose ultimate job security will rely greatly on Harvey’s ongoing good health, apparently told the kid to put a sock in it, but then admitted to the media that Harvey can pretty much do what he wants, they can’t watch him 24 hours a day. Oy.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here.......
13) On Monday, there was an article online about Eldrick Woods lobbying to be on the Ryder Cup team; on Wednesday, he announced his golf was done until December for medical reasons. Alrighty then, the old “You can’t fire me, I quit!!!” tactic.
Saves Tom Watson the trouble of not picking Eldrick when it comes time to choose up sides for one of the most overrated events of any year, the Ryder Cup.
12) If every Bronx Bomber game ended after the 5th inning, they’d be 63-38-18 this season. But games are nine innings and they’re 61-58; is it all the bullpen’s fault? Without knowing exact numbers, I’m guessing their late-inning offense is very poor, they don’t tack on to leads, so they lose a lot of close games. They’ll be better next year when they get ARod back.
11) Why did the Lions hire Jim Caldwell as their coach? Seriously, they couldn’t come up with a better candidate than him? If I was a Lion fan, one playoff win in 50 years would be frustrating, but hiring this guy, who couldn’t win with Payton Manning under center, who went 26-63 in eight years at Wake Forest, that would be a big problem for me.
10) Rutgers at Washington State on August 30 is a very long road trip for the Scarlet Knights (Rutgers is in New Jersey); they opened at Fresno State LY, so they must have a big travel budget. Wonder how many times I’ll look for Rutgers in the AAC section before I get it ingrained in my head that they’re in the Big 14 now.
9) Saturday is National Rollercoaster Day. One of the things in life I like least are rollercoasters. Seriously. Scare the hell out of me. Ever see the movie Shakedown, with Sam Elliott/Peter Weller? Rollercoaster goes into the ocean at the end? Have not been on one since I saw that movie. All I think about when I’m on one is how many ways it could go off the tracks and kill me. No bueno.
8) Baseball injury updates: Manny Machado is on the DL with a sprained knee he injured while swinging a bat in a game. Weird thing. Texas put Yu Darvish on the DL; Troy Tulowitzki is done for the year after hip surgery; first they spell his name wrong on his giveaway t-shirt, then he gets hurt and is gone for the year. Rough year for the Rockies.
7) Looks like the Mets will bring manager Terry Collins back next year; he can’t get over .500 with the Mets but keeps his job longer than he did with Houston or the Angels, where he was seldom under .500. Go figure.
6) Cincinnati transfer Jermaine Lawrence is eligible immediately at Manhattan, where he is expected to be a big addition to Steve Masiello’s team.
5) Arizona Diamondbacks played a doubleheader in Cleveland on Wednesday, won the nightcap in extra innings, then flew to Miami and got in at 3:39am. Not every day is glamorous for a pro athlete.
4) When the Atlanta Hawks traded Pete Maravich to the New Orleans Jazz, they got back two journeyman players and five draft picks, two of whom became David Thompson and Alex English, both Hall of Fame players. Problem for Atlanta was that neither Thompson or English ever played for the Hawks; Thompson signed with the ABA’s Nuggets, English was traded to Milwaukee. Whoops.
3) Tennessee Volunteers haven't played in a bowl game since 2010; they've had four head coaches the last seven years. Butch Jones will get it done in Knoxville, if he is given enough time. Not a lot of patient people in the SEC.
2) Louisville Cardinals are 15-29 vs spread at home since Bobby Petrino left there for Arkansas after the '06 season; now he is back with the Cardinals-- can he get Louisville back to being a dominant home team, as they move up to the ACC?
1) University of Texas gave alum/former NFL QB Vince Young a $100K a year job as a fund raiser, proving that if you win a national title for the Longhorns, you are indeed set for life. He works in community outreach, meaning he is going to shake a lot of boosters' hands in the coming years.
Thursday's List of 13: Idle thoughts on a summer day......
13) ESPN.com ran an interesting article about how colleges are so impatient with coaches now; Mike Krzyzewski went 38-47 in his first three years at Duke and he replaced a guy (Bill Foster) who had been in the Final Four two years earlier. If that were today, would Coach K have been fired? He definitely would’ve been on the hot seat going into Year 4.
12) Former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is the offensive coordinator at Rutgers, which will help the Scarlet Knights a lot. Smart guy, should still be a head coach.
11) Someone wrote an article this week asking how many more points would Pete Maravich have scored in college if he played in the era with the 3-point shot?
He averaged 44+ a game at LSU, in a game with no shot clock or 3-pointer. Well, Pistol Pete was a much better version of Jimmer Fredette; a great shooter, fancy ballhandler, great fun to watch, but the SEC he played in was largely devoid of African-American players who would have done a better job of containing him.
LSU lost 101-79 to Al McGuire’s Marquette team in the NIT, a team with New York City playground players on it; no way does he come close to 44 a game in today’s game, even with the 3-point shot.
10) Within an hour of the PGA tournament ending, I got an e-mail from New Era hat company, selling Ryder Cup team hats from Team USA.
Um, no thanks; wonder how many of those they sell. I have a great baseball cap collection, but won’t be adding one of those it.
9) Major league leaders in pitches seen per at bat: Mike Napoli 4.49, Mike Trout 4.45, Brett Gardner 4.45, Carlos Santana 4.37.
8) Sounds more and more like the Raiders could be moving back to Los Angeles; with Donald Sterling out of the picture, Raiders are the most dysfunctional sports franchise in America. Hard to believe if you're my age.
7) Baltimore Orioles have a better road record (35-24) than they do at home (34-26). Whatever they’re paying Buck Showalter, it ain’t enough.
6) I was a student manager for our basketball team in college; fun job, but I once rebounded for a guy who made 102 foul shots in a row at the end of practice. No bueno. Not only that, but he didn’t talk while shooting, so I basically held my hand under the basket, caught the ball out of the net and flipped it back to him in silence over and over for like an hour, and God forbid if it was a bad pass back.
Miss those days; going to practice every day really was great fun.
5) Parts of Long Island got over 10 inches of rain Tuesday; TEN!!!!! Town of Islip almost exceeded its record monthly rainfall in one day. Yikes.
4) Since 2009, Justin Verlander has thrown 22,918 pitches, most of any major league pitcher. He may be paying the price for that now, with a sore shoulder.
3) Nationals’ OF Jayson Werth got a citation for driving 105 mph in a 55 mph zone. Not sure what his defense would be for that one; how did they catch him?
2) I’m a firm believer than time/money management skills should become an integral part of a kid’s high school education. It’s the most important thing we do; manage time and money. Why don’t we teach kids how to do it, instead of the some of the less-useful stuff we do teach?
1) Everett Golson was officially named Notre Dame’s #1 QB for this season, as a stupidly-run charade finally plays out. Kid was their QB two years when they got drilled by Alabama in the national title game; you don’t think he was getting his job back this year? Hogwash.
They let the kid hang out to dry for a while, now they expect him to win games again, so they can continue to pocket a fortune from NBC. But they’ll tell you they’re not a football factory.
If Notre Dame isn’t a football factory, I’m not bald. End of story.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) RIP Robin Williams, one of the all-time greats. It is tragic that someone who made others smile so much couldn’t be happy himself. Just very goddamn sad.
12) Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite movies; I’ve used my favorite quote from there on this site a couple times “Do whats in your heart, son. You’ll be fine.” Its something I think about often. RIP, sir.
11) Brady Quinn’s TV career didn’t last long; he signed on with the Dolphins as backup Matt Moore is banged-up now. Quinn was on a couple rosters LY but has not played in a real game since 2012.
10) Revel Casino in Atlantic City is closing September 10; you wonder if New Jersey will use legalized sports betting as a way to pump up their sagging casino industry? If legal sports betting ever takes hold in the east, it’ll be good to get in on the ground floor—lot of money to be had there.
9) Speaking of New Jersey, Governor Christie was at an A’s game in Oakland over the weekend, sitting behind the home dugout. Guess he had a $10,000 a plate fund raiser in San Francisco. Must be a hell of a lunch for $10K.
8) ESPN’s website points out that Andrew Luck, in his first two NFL seasons, has a 14-2 record in games decided by a touchdown or less, one of the five best two-year stretches in NFL history.
Peyton Manning has three of the other four, with former Cardinal QB Jim Hart having the other when he played for Don Coryell in the 70’s.
7) Two-sport athlete Amir Garrett has finally given up college hoop to devote himself to baseball full-time. Garrett played two years at St John’s, then transferred to Cal-Northridge, but he won’t play there. He is in the Reds’ system, and is 6-6, 3.41 in 22 starts in the Class A Midwest League this season.
6) Cleveland Browns cut 3rd-string QB Tyler Thigpen, signed Rex Grossman, kind of an odd move; they swear they’re not going to trade Brian Hoyer, but why bring Grossman in as a 3rd-stringer? Grossman was on the Redskins, so he does know Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
5) Thought of this today, for no real reason: there used to be an NBA player named Dwayne Schintzius, who was 7-1, played in college at Florida. He played eight years in the NBA as a bench player, was apparently a surly guy.
One day he got asked one too many times “How’s the weather up there?” referring to his height, so Schintzius replied “It’s raining” and spit on the guy. Really, he did.
4) Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson has onions; he’s starting a true freshman QB this fall. Hard to win at that level with a kid who was in high school at this time last year. Curious to see the young man play. The great majority of freshman football players red-shirt, meaning they don’t play the first year to beef up and get more mature, but still have four years left to play. Very few true freshman QBs begin the season as a starter.
3) David Price's first two starts with Detroit lasted a total of 31 innings.
2) New Orleans Saints have training camp this year at the Greenbrier resort, where Nick Faldo has a home; the British golf great was giving Sean Payton golf tips at Tuesday's practice and apparently used his soccer skills to nail a 35-yard FG.
1) 59 years ago today, my parents got married during a hurricane; without them, you're not reading this article right now. My mother passed away in 2004, my dad is hanging in there, rooting for the Mets every night. Cherish every day you have with your loved ones; life is too damn short.
Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but........
13) College sports is very big business.
Maryland was supposed to pay $52M in exit fees to leave the ACC for the Big 14 conference, but sides negotiated a deal and the final tab appears to be $31,361,788, so that’s a 39.7% discount for the Terrapins. Will be odd to see them playing Midwestern schools; the move hasn’t worked well for West Virginia in either sport, we’ll see how Maryland makes out with it.
12) American League has a 132-109 edge in interleague play this season; this is how home field advantage in the World Series should be decided, not by who wins the All-Star Game.
11) NFL coaches look at the second and (especially) third preseason games as dress rehearsals for the season opener. The first games are tryouts for the bottom of the depth chart; the fourth is a cash grab from season ticket holders- those games are mostly a farce. These next two weeks, the games have a little more meaning.
10) Tyler Johnstone, Oregon’s starting left tackle, tore his ACL and is out for the year, bad news for the Ducks and their fine QB, Marcus Mariota.
9) Indiana’s hoop team lost 109-101 to a team from Ottawa on its exhibition tour of Canada; losing doesn’t matter much, but scoring 101 points and losing is alarming, unless Tom Crean suddenly morphed into Paul Westhead, which is doubtful. Play some defense!!!!
8) USC LB Jacob Ruffin tore his knee up and is done for the year, reducing USC’s “recruited athletes” to 65. Not sure if that means scholarship athletes or what, but Trojans are dangerously thin as they start the Steve Sarkisian era.
7) TV ratings for the PGA Championship Sunday were the highest they’ve been in five years, good news for a CBS announce crew that was shilling heavily for the Tour Sunday, as a Tiger-less FedEx Cup slate lies ahead.
Losing Eldrick Woods would be damaging, but the sport does have a lot of great players, as Sunday showed.
6) Anyone have a clue what the Phillies are doing? They’ve only traded one person (Roberto Hernandez) away, hardly a big star; do they really think this team can contend in 2015, or is the GM just trying to put off his inevitable firing, as the franchise slides into a down period?
Their nucleus is old and their payroll is high; a very bad combination.
5) At the end of the Cowboy-Charger game Friday, the two QBs playing were alums of those two noted football factories, West Texas State and Southern Utah; that’s what training camp is all about, guys getting their chance to impress.
4) Odd situation at the end of the Saints-Rams game Friday; St Louis had the ball and was going to spike the ball to kick a 48-yard FG to win but QB Austin Davis fumbled the snap before he spiked the ball, which makes the spiked pass intentional grounding, which has a 0:10 runoff and a 5-yard penalty.
Since the spike happened with 0:11 left, Rams had to rush to get the now 53-yard FG off and it missed, so the Saints won 27-26. This would’ve been a debacle had it been a regular season game, but then again, Rams would’ve had their regular long snapper in and might not have missed.
3) Lovie Smith has already earned his paycheck for this year; Tampa Bay Bucs are sold out for the season; no blackouts!!! The Schiano era was depressing for Bucs fans; they should be better with Smith in charge.
2) ESPN.com has a way of measuring defensive performance in baseball; according to them, the Mariners’ defense has been 110 runs better this year than last, that’s a full run per game, part of why they’ve improved and are contending for a Wild Card spot.
1) First week of NFL exhibition games, there were 355 penalties called, 95 of which were either defensive holding, illegal contact or pass interference. Someone needs to tell these people that throwing 800 flags on the defense does not equate to better offense, just more points scored; its horrible to watch.
You want more good offensive plays? Stop calling so much offensive holding, give QB’s time to throw; then you’ll have more points scored and some good highlights to show on TV. No one, I repeat no one, pays to watch a referee throw his flag. Not even Ed Hochuli.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend........
13) Toronto's Melky Cabrera was 3-5 with five walks Sunday; he is the first guy since Rod Carew in 1972 in reach base eight times in one game. Odd thing is; even though he got on base eight times, Cabrera didn't score a run. Go figure.
12) Detroit's loss cuts their AL Central lead to a half-game over the Royals. Tigers are 10-14 since the All-Star break.
11) Kansas City is red-hot, winning 15 of last 18 games since starting out 0-4 after the All-Star break.
10) Odd Stat of Day: Since 2001, Padres are 33-12 in Pittsburgh, have won their last 14 series at PNC Park, the longest active streak in MLB.
9) Colorado Rockies won 5-3 in 10 innings at Arizona; getting only their 7th save this season where the saving pitcher didn't allow a baserunner. Mets have eight such saves, the second-least in big leagues.
8) Josh Hamilton hasn't homered in 146 plate appearances in Anaheim this year; he has eight homers on the road. Guy is making $17.4M this season, is owed $92.8M from 2015-2017. Oy.
7) Minnesota rookie Trevor May walked seven without a strikeout in his debut Friday night, a 9-4 loss in Oakland. He only faced fifteen batters after pitching 772 innings of minor league ball, an awful lot of innings for a guy considered to be one of their better prospects. Took May four years to get out of Class A ball, a long time.
6) Lookalikes: golfer Victor Dubuisson and Brad Pitt, especially when they both wear sun visors (Pitt wore visor in spring training scene in Moneyball).
5) Houston Texans lost exhibition opener 32-0 this weekend; coach Bill O'Brien wasn't amused, calling effort "unacceptable". Look for Houston to get overbet this weekend, as handicappers search desperately for an angle to use in these games.
4) NFL needs teams to dress three QBs for every game, making #3 QB an exempt roster spot. If a team loses its starting QB early in the game, it ruins the game, since they have to be ultra-conservative with their #2 guy, if there is no #3 QB, and lot of teams aren't dressing a #3 QB in favor of an extra special teamer.
3) Lot of rumors that the Patriots are showcasing backup QB Ryan Mallett for a trade (Houston would be one of the options) but Mallett hasn't shown that much in his limited play in preseason games to merit a team going after him.
2) I'm thinking CBS needs to let final round of the PGA start earlier on Sunday in future years, so players don't have to run around the last few holes like a couple of guys trying to get 18 holes in after work. Nick Faldo sounded annoyed on TV as officials seemingly made rules up as they went along, trying to get everyone in the clubhouse before darkness settled in. It is a major, after all.
1) Ricky Fowler joined Jack Nicklaus and Eldrick Woods as the only golfers in the modern era to finish top five at all four majors in a single season. He won a total of $2,497,240 for those four weekends, without winning any of them.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.......
13) One of many reasons baseball is tremendous are extra inning games that take on a life of their own; it is 3:22am as I type this- Red Sox-Angels are in the 18th inning, in a game where Boston didn't get a hit until the 7th inning. Rookie catcher Vazquez has caught the whole game for the Red Sox, 257 pitches worth.
Now, on with the already-written notes for today...........
12) Washington-Atlanta game went extra innings after starting just before 11pm because of rain; they play the Sunday night game, so there won't be the hangover there has to be for the Red Sox-Angels Sunday afternoon (this game is still going on and tomorrow's game starts in 12.5 hours).
11) Nationals are 1-7 in Stephen Strasburg's last eight road starts.
10) Mets have 23 walk-off losses the last two years, most in MLB (Sox-Angels just went to the 19th inning).
9) Surprising stat; David Wright has the worst OPS of any #3 hitter in the major leagues this season. OPS is slugging percentage plus on-base percentage.
8) Baltimore Orioles are 15-7 since All-Star break, lead AL East by six games. Caleb Joseph has homered in five straight games; all-time record is seven. Before the last five games, Joseph had three HRs in 156 PAs- big year for the Orioles.
7) Albert Pujols just hit a walk-off homer to the opposite field in the 19th inning off of Brandon Workman; both teams wound up using starting pitchers. He hit it at roughly 3:38am, so it was after midnight, even in Anaheim.
6) Ricky Fowler (-29) has the best aggregate score in the four majors this year; Rory McIlroy (-24) is second, as expected.
5) Speaking of golf, CBS announcer Peter Kostis apparently has two sons; kids' godfather is Franz Klammer, world champion skiier. Talk about worlds colliding.
4) Cleveland Indians are 24-37 on road, 7-6 when Cory Kluber pitches. Kluber has a 0.68 ERA since All-Star break-- he is very good.
3) Eric Sogard walked four times for the A's tonight, first time ever a 9th-place hitter for the A's walked four times in one game. Minnesota's pitching coach has to be sick; as much as I root for Sogard (I've worn glasses since I was 4), he is hitting .214-- you can't walk a .214 hitter four times in a week, much less one game.
2) Padres-Pirates split pair of 2-1 games the last two nights; all six runs scored in the first inning. Go figure.
1) Jets have a tight end named Jace Amaro who caught 106 passes for Texas Tech LY; NFL offenses are different than what Kliff Kingsbury runs, but catching 106 balls as a tight end? If he can block at all, he'll have a job next month.
Saturday's List of 13: Its strange the things you remember....
13) I had braces when I was a teenager; just remember how surly my orthodontist was, how he’d snap at his hygienist. She seemed so unhappy being there—the guy was a creep. But he was an Irish creep and my mother knew his mother from church- she liked all things/people Irish, so I got stuck going to this guy who used to tell me “That doesn’t hurt” when he would tighten my braces. It hurt like hell, even if I was a soft suburban kid.
12) I remember that racetracks never had telephones; when we went to Saratoga in August, you couldn’t get ball scores or talk to anyone on the outside while we were there. What percentage of people there today have cellphones with them? 85%? 90%? More than that?
11) I remember my 9th grade math teacher was Mr Terzian; good teacher, really smart guy, little spacy. Looked a lot like Pete Carril, the old Princeton basketball coach. One day he comes into class and asks if anyone found a golf club on the football field. Turns out he was whacking around golf balls and left his driver on the 50-yard line. No bueno. Driving range would’ve been cheaper than losing his driver.
10) In 1974-75, Bronx Bombers played home games at Shea Stadium, because their ballpark was being remodeled. I was 15; I went on a bus trip with some friends for a Bat Day game with the Royals. All kids 16 and under got a bat for free; well, all kids but me. Jerk at the turnstile didn’t believe I was 15 because I was very tall for my age; because I was 15, I didn’t have anything to prove my age, so I never got a bat. Like money for the bat was coming out of the jerk's pocket. Rat bastard.
9) I remember Larry Brown coaching in the ABA while wearing overalls; even found a picture of it on the Internet last month. He is the reason NBA coaches have a dress code. 38 years later and Brown is still coaching at SMU, albeit in college and in a suit jacket, not overalls.
8) Because of this website, I once watched a Chiefs-Giants preseason game in the press box at Giants Stadium; was weird sitting there by myself watching, but they have free food in the press room before/after the game and at halftime. I’m in the food line, and former Chiefs’ QB Len Dawson is right behind me.
Two things; a) He’s a lot bigger than I thought he was.......
b) Why the hell am I in front of Len Dawson in the food line?
He played in two of the first four Super Bowls; he should eat before me.
7) 30 years ago I was an official scorer for a minor league team in the Eastern League. Guy who typed in messages on the scoreboard sat next to me all summer; nice enough guy. After the season, I find out the guy turned himself into the FBI because the mob had put a hit out on him, for unknown (to me) reasons.
Geez, what if they took a shot at him and hit me instead? Being an official scorer wasn’t much fun to begin with (stats are serious business) but this was ridiculous.
6) I was lucky enough to be an assistant basketball coach at Schenectady High for eight years; the school Pat Riley went to. Early in my third year there, our head coach was talking to the kids about “…when you play for a state championship”.
This for a team that had won a combined nine games the previous two seasons. I’m thinking if we could win one sectional game it would be a great accomplishment. Turns out the coach was truly a great coach and three years later, we won a state championship, then three years after that, won another one.
One of the great experiences of my life, but I’ll always remember how he saw the future clearly when it seemed impossible for something like that to happen.
5) When I was in 8th grade, I missed a foul shot with game tied and 0:01 left; we lost in double OT and even though it was the best game I played that year, I was the goat, no doubt. Our team finished 1-13, not a lot of fun.
Years later, I wound up shooting free throws for beer after third quarter of a CBA game in Albany. Can’t remember if Phil Jackson or George Karl was coaching the Albany Patroons back then, but one of them saw me make four foul shots (out of 7) in 0:24, netting me four cases of beer, which I unsuccessfully tried to trade for soda.
Would’ve traded all four cases of beer for that foul shot in 8th grade to have gone in.
4) I remember that before ESPN, before the shot clock, before Coach K, Duke once led North Carolina 7-0 at halftime. Of a basketball game. Kids today have no idea how tedious basketball could be without a shot clock.
3) I remember the first time I saw Steve Martin on TV; still the funniest guy I’ve ever seen. He was on the Tonight Show when the Tonight Show was a huge deal, it was the early 70’s and Buddy Hackett was the guest host.
White suit and all, he did his classic comedy routine and I was hooked for life. What a brilliant guy and a good actor, too.
2) My cousin took me to a comedy club in Manhattan in 1978, the same night Pete Rose’s 44-game hitting streak ended, that I remember. Pat Benatar sang that night; she was an up-and-comer back then. The MC was Richard Belzer, who now plays Detective Munch on the SVU show on TV; I was terrified he was going to pick on me in the audience, unaware that the people he was jousting with in the crowd were plants, his friends. Catch a Rising Star was the place; I was 18, it was great fun.
1) Some days are better than others; on a Monday ten years ago, friend of mine set it up so I would meet Kurt Warner at Giants’ training camp, which was a great moment. There is a picture of the two of us in my living room; he looks happier than me in the pic but no way he was.
Anyway, while I was waiting to meet Kurt, I was talking to this writer who was in from New Orleans to do a feature on Eli Manning, who was a rookie that year- they both went to Newman HS in New Orleans.
Writer was Michael Lewis; you may have heard of him—he wrote Moneyball. So a guy who roots like hell for the Rams/A’s met Kurt Warner and the guy who wrote Moneyball in the same hour. On a Monday afternoon in Albany.
Sometimes, you just never know.
Friday's List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here........
13) So the new GM of the San Diego Padres went to Cornell; good grief. Now you have to be an Ivy Leaguer to run a big league ballclub, as if that matters. By the way, the best GM in baseball didn’t go to college until offseasons during his playing career-- Billy Beane.
I think of the three smartest people I know; they went to St Francis, UAlbany and Fairleigh Dickinson, none of which are in the freakin’ Ivy League. Enough already.
12) Unusual that Seattle-Denver is the first preseason game, after the teams met in the Super Bowl six months ago. Due to geographic proximity, they’ll play each other most summers. Just thought it might be a TV game later this month.
11) Pretty cool that the Harbaugh brothers got to face each other in a more relaxed setting than a Super Bowl, as Ravens-49ers played last night. Long road trip for a preseason game. I’m guessing the family might’ve enjoyed this one a little more than when the brothers’ teams met in New Orleans 18 months ago.
10) Kevin Love goes to Cleveland, agrees to re-sign with Cavaliers next summer, virtually clinching that Cleveland starts the season as the favorite in the East. City of Cleveland hasn’t won a title in any sport since 1964; that could change soon.
9) Do you think texting has hurt people's writing skills? Have to find a teacher and ask them; there is so much shorthand on IPhones and spell check on computers, and writing is so important, just hope people's writing skills haven't eroded.
8) How football has changed: 26 years ago, 1988, Barry Sanders’ last six games at Oklahoma State: 218 carries (36.3/game), 1,694 yards (282.3 ypg, 7.8 ypc).
He also returned 11 kicks, six punts, but during those six games, he caught only 10 passes for 67 yards. Nowadays at most schools (except Boston College) running backs have to catch the ball out of the backfield. It lessens the amount of big hits they take and also gets them ready for the pros.
7) I mentioned Boston College because BC’s Andre Williams (now a Giant) didn’t catch one pass last year, in a season where he carried the ball 355 times. Not one!!! Old-school football. Giants can only hope he’s close to as good as Sanders was.
6) Matt Kuchar dropped out of PGA tourney with a bad back; John Huh replaced him in the field. Despite being the #6 player in the world, Kuchar’s absence didn’t cause much of a ripple; have to named Eldrick to get any publicity for that.
5) I’m not crazy about Little League tournament games being on TV; it’s a lot to put on 11-12 year olds. Some kid fouls up and costs his team the game, he has to live in that town for at least the next 6-7 years, maybe the rest of his life. Can be tough. Its not going to go away, because it can make for compelling TV, but to me, its just not a great idea for the kids themselves.
4) President of College of Charleston is under personal pressure to hire a minority basketball coach, because of the perception that he may be a racist. Charleston fired Doug Wojcik because he apparently bullied everyone in the program verbally.
President has had his picture taken in a confederate soldier’s uniform, has been quoted as being in favor of flying the Confederate flag, just the kinds of things you DON’T want if you’re trying to recruit basketball players, majority of whom are African-American.
Weird situation; the search committee that recommended a new President didn’t recommend that this guy get the job, but he got hired anyway, so the perception is Charleston will need a minority coach to offset all that on the recruiting trail.
3) Turns out Brian Scalabrine got ousted as a Golden State assistant coach last winter because he didn’t think Mark Jackson pushed the players hard enough and he said so; he then went to the D-League as a player development coach but didn’t like that less-glamorous lifestyle, so now Scalabrine does road games on TV for Celtics.
2) This time of year, there is too much media, not enough news. Every time Johnny Manziel sneezes it gets reported and then ten ex-players comment on how well he blows his nose. Thank God the exhibition games are starting so there is real news to report, real games, and we can see Manziel play football instead of rolling $20 bills in a men’s room somewhere.
1) We said yesterday how football coaches can lead a nomadic existence: here is how Denver coach John Fox worked his way into the NFL, the career path he took:
1978-- San Diego State
1979-- US International
1980-- Boise State
1981-- Long Beach State
1984-- Iowa State
1985-- LA Express in the USFL
1986-88-- Pittsburgh....first NFL job with Steelers in 1989
Thursday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Kevin Durant’s $60M, seven-year Nike contract just ended; Durant is from Maryland, which is where Under Armour is located. There are rumors afoot that they’re ready to pay Durant much more than the $19M he’s going to make from the Thunder next season. Yikes.
12) Most popular place in the Las Vegas airport was the hallway with all the electrical outlets, where everyone was re-charging their electronic devices. It was more crowded than the food court.
11) Baseball teams who walk more batters than they strike out lose roughly 70% of time. There have been only three or four games all season where both teams walked more than they struck out; two of them happened on the same day last week.
10) Mike Tyson will be guest-starring on Franklin & Bash this summer, as TNT tries to add some punch to its late night ratings.
9) Former NFL lineman Jordan Gross retired last January; since then, he’s lost about 70 pounds. Former Cowboys’ GM Gil Brandt posted a pic of he and Gross on Twitter, said he almost didn’t recognize him when he saw Gross at Wofford, where the Panthers have training camp.
8) Adam Dunn has 457 career homers; if he got to 520 or so homers, would he get any Hall of Fame support? Dunn pitched an inning Tuesday; he now ranked sixth on the HR list for players who also pitched in the big leagues. Babe Ruth obviously leads the list but Ted Williams is on there too.
7) If you don’t like summer, know that the Celtics play their first exhibition game October 6 against the 76ers, a mere 60 days from now. Actually, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like summer, but the NBA is still closer than you think.
6) So you’d like to be an NFL coach? Dan Quinn is Seattle’s defensive coordinator, a very good one, but this is the first time in 10 years he’s lived in the same city three years in a row. He’ll probably be moving next year, when he becomes an NFL head coach. Football coaches often lead a nomadic existence.
5) Cubs’ prospect Javier Baez went 1-10 in his first two major league games, but the one hit was a game-winning homer in the 12th inning Tuesday. Cubs are taking an interesting road; all their top prospects are position players. All this time I thought pitching was the most important element in baseball.
4) Grantland.com posted a table that shows since 2002, 18 NFL QBs have started 25+ games in their first two seasons, with very mixed results. I still think sitting and watching for at least part of one season is the wisest way to go, but no one asked me. If they did, I'd suggest the Browns let Johnny Manziel watch and learn for a year or so, before throwing him to the wolves.
3) One last word about Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, that I forgot to mention yesterday: How can an NFL team draft a franchise QB who didn’t know who the other teams in the AFC East are? Seriously, on Hard Knocks last summer, Tannehill told backup QB Matt Moore he knew almost nothing about pro football. That would raise a red flag for me, a really big, bright red flag.
2) There is a kid pitching in the Cape Cod League named Ryan Perez who is ambidextrous; last guy in major leagues to pitch with both hands was Greg Harris, who had a special glove he could put on either hand. .
1) Lot of preseason football on the docket tonight; be careful how much you wager on these meaningless games, played by guys, some of whom will be working for FedEx or tending bar next month. Sometimes it is better to just sit and watch.
Wednesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.......
13) August is a great month to watch NFL Network; they’ll have replays of every exhibition game, with one team’s announcers for each half.
Except for Dave Pasch/Ron Wolfley with Cardinal games, announcers are mostly mute button material- they shill for season tickets sales a lot and generally provide no information, but the games are fun to watch.
Curious to see OLs with Dolphins/Giants and also obviously Johnny Manziel, will be interesting to track, just because we get to see him play ball instead of cavorting all over America.
12) There are seven new head coaches this year, though five of them have been HCs in college/pros before—only Mike Zimmer/Mike Pettine have not, but there are also 11 new offensive coordinators. Deciphering who will be aggressive/conservative is an interesting task if you’re involved in handicapping or fantasy football.
11) You don’t think baseball is a mental game? Oakland’s Steven Vogt was 10 for his last 32 before the Price-Cespedes trade, which cleared a few more AB’s so Vogt could be a regular bat in the lineup, but he is 0-14 since the trade. No bueno.
10) Bronx Bombers’ last 16 games were all decided by either one or two runs, longest such streak in major leagues since 1975.
9) Battle 4 Atlantis on November 26 (day before Thanksgiving) has Oklahoma-UAB, Florida-Georgetown, Oklahoma-UCLA and North Carolina-Butler are first round matchups. At quick glance, UAB-Butler figures to be the 7th place game, but you never know about second round consolation games.
8) Washington-Gonzaga are re-starting their basketball series, starting in two years; Zags have gotten so good, it helps the Huskies just to play them.
7) David Price/Jon Lester took out full-page ads in local newspapers, thanking fans and their old clubs following last week’s trades. Classy move by both guys.
6) Atlanta Falcons are on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer; you see things in that show the casual fan doesn’t normally get to see, which makes it interesting. Not sure there is anything about the Falcons themselves that will make the show unique, but no one thought that about LY’s Dolphins either. Go figure.
5) Cleveland Browns are 1-14 in season openers since they started up playing again in 1999, and 14 of those 15 games were at home. Browns beat Baltimore 20-3 in ’04 for their only 1-0 start in 15 years- they open in Pittsburgh this year. Steelers beat them 43-0/34-7 only two times they’ve met on Opening Day.
4) Houston Texans go to Oakland in Week 2, an early Matt Schaub Bowl. Schaub had a brutal season as Houston’s QB last season; now he gets to play against his old team, as he tries to revive his career.
3) New England was favored in its last ten road openers, going 7-3 SU, 6-4 against the spread. Pats are favored by 3.5 points at Miami in Week 1.
2) Big rumor (pipe dream?) in Boston media this week is that Red Sox will try, at some point, to package Yoenis Cespedes in a deal to get Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins, who were ther only team besides Oakland to bid for Cespedes when he first came here from Cuba.
1) In light of Andrew McCutchen's rib injury, next time the Pirates play Arizona could be very interesting, seeing how the D'backs drilled McCutchen on purpose.
Tuesday's List of 13: NFL knowledge for a Tuesday........
13) Houston Texans lost nine games LY by 7 or less points; they never won another game after a 2-0 start. With a new coach/new QB this year, Houston is currently favored in four of its first six games and is expected to bounce back big-time in 2014.
12) New England was 0-4 as a road favorite LY, after being 33-18-2 from 2004-12; they’ve been plus in turnovers eight years in a row and are +79 in turnovers over last four regular seasons, thanks to having an all-time great QB. Over last decade, Patriots are 16-7-1 vs spread as an underdog.
11) Bengals signed Andy Dalton to six-year, $115M contract last weekend; over last four years, Cincy is 22-10 vs spread in game following a wiu, 11-14-4 following a loss. Bengals are 30-18 SU the last three years, an excellent stretch, but pressure is on to win a playoff game or two this year.
10) Yards per point tracks how opportunistic teams are; the lower the better. Denver ranked #1/#2 in NFL in this important stat the last two years, after ranking #21/#23 in the two years before Peyton Manning came to town. Chiefs improved from #27 to #2 in defensive YPP in Andy Reid’s first season in Kansas City LY.
9) Speaking of the Chiefs, they were +18 in turnovers LY after being -24 the year before, a humongous improvement that resulted them improving in wins from 2 to 11- they also improved in sacks from 27 to 47. Normally there is regression after such a huge improvement; will be interesting to track the Chiefs this year.
8) Andy Reid’s old team, the Eagles were -14/-24 in turnovers in Reid’s last two years there but improved to +12 LY and also led the NFL in rushing yards, which is why they won a lot more game in Chip Kelly’s first season.
Sometimes change is good. One thing that still needs to change; over last four years, Iggles are 9-23 at home against the spread.
7) Patriots (21) have most returning starters back from LY, followed by Eagles and Chargers, both with 20.
6) NFC East and NFC South have both had three different champs the last three years; Packers-Patriots-Broncos have all won their divisions each of last three years.
5) In Rex Ryan’s first two years as Jets’ coach, they were 20-12, going +1/+9 in turnovers; they were -3 in their 8-8 season in 2011, then regressed to an awful -14/-14 the last two years, when they went 14-18. LY could be explained away by having a rookie QB playing most of the time, but if Ryan wants a 7th year wearing Jets’ green, he needs to get that turnover ratio back in the black.
4) Giants allowed only 20 sacks in 2012, despite having an immobile Manning at QB; that number doubled LY, their turnover ratio went from +14 to -15 in a hideous season that cost OC Kevin Gilbride his job (you really think the guy retired??? Really?) New OC McAdoo will get Big Blue playing faster and throwing safer passes, to increase Eli’s completion percentage while reducing his sacks/turnovers.
3) Over last decade, Miami Dolphins are 14-35 vs spread when favored, though they are a decent 7-7 as home favorites the last three years. Fish have been minus in turnovers five years in a row, allowed 58 sacks LY in a bizarre season where almost the entire OL turned over during the year. Their chemistry has to be better this year, you just wonder if Tannehill is the right QB for the job; after watching Hard Knocks last summer, I wondered why they liked the guy so much. Friend of mine knows and likes Joe Philbin so we wish him well; this is a pivotal year for him
2) Buffalo Bills haven’t been to the playoffs since 1999; they haven’t been favored in an AFC East road game since 2008. Bills are 5-15-1 vs spread as a road dog the last three years, are 10-18 in last 28 games as a non-divisional road dog.
Is EJ Manuel the QB to make them a contender? You have to love their receivers, but receivers don’t help much without a solid passer getting them the ball.
1) Dallas Cowboys finished 8-8 last three years in a row; LY was first time in eight years they finished outside the top 10 in passing yardage (#14). Turnover ratio does not seem to matter as much with Dallas- they go 8-8 no matter what their ratio is, but they allowed 415 yards per game LY, worst in NFL- they’ve been #27/#22 against the run the last two years. Unless they shore those numbers up, its going to be another mediocre-at-best autumn for America’s Team.
Monday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend.......
13) Been a long week; started it in Las Vegas, ended it watching the first preseason football game of the year. Didn't think I'd see Red Sox trading off their starting pitchers this week; Clay Buchholz is the only starter left from the April rotation.
12) If you care about such things, Cubs' SS prospect Addison Russell, the main piece of the Jeff Samardzija trade, is hitting .293 in AA, with eight honers and five walks in 99 plate appearances.
11) Allen Craig wore #21 in St Louis, but the Red Sox haven't given that number out since Roger Clemens left in 1996, so Craig is wearing #5 in Boston.
10) AJ Burnett threw 131 pitches in a July 23 start against the Giants; in his two starts since, he's allowed 12 runs in only 6.2 innings pitched-- he got tossed from his start Sunday, complaining loudly about balls/strikes.
9) Detroit Tigers scored in every inning Saturday, first team to do that since 2006, only fifth team to do that in the last 35 years.
8) Under is 36-17 at Camden Yards this year, making that hitters' park the best under park in the major leagues this season. Not everything makes sense.
7) Why don't the Dallas Cowboys draft a young QB to develop behind Tony Romo, who is in his 30's now? Also, why do they train in California?
6) Sergio Garcia was a combined -42 in the last three tournaments he played in, but didn't win any of them; he did bank a combined $2,231,510, so hard to feel real bad for him. In his career, Garcia has led four PGA Tour events by 3+ strokes after 54 holes, but didn't win any of them.
5) Sounds like Kings-Sharks will be an outdoor hockey game at the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara next winter. Outdoor NHL games are very popular.
4) Texas Rangers traded for Mike Carp this weekend; he'll be the 55th player they used this season and there are still eight weeks to go this season.
3) Jake Peavy took a no-hitter into the 7th inning Saturday night against the Mets, but fact remains, he is 0-11, 5.28 in his last 17 starts.
2) In seven of first 12 Super Bowls, the team trailing at halftime hadn't scored a point; that has happened only three times in the last 36 Super Bowls.
1) Since Yasiel Puig came to major leagues last June, he, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp all started in the same game only 76 out of a possible 219 games. Kemp hit five home runs this week, most by any Dodger in a week this season.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday........
13) I was at the Pro Footballl Hall of Fame in 2001, to see Jack Youngblood and Jackie Slater get inducted; Rams played in the exhibition game that year, so I went to the open practice teams had back then. One of the players I met was Rams' DB Aeneas Williams; we talked for a minute about his chances of getting inducted in the Hall someday-- he's a good guy, was excited to see him get inducted last night.
Will be even better next year, when Orlando Pace and Kurt Warner get in.
12) Seven players were inducted into Pro Football's Hall of Fame; four of the seven didn't play Division I-A football and one of the three who did was a punter.
11) Jon Lester won his first start for Oakland; they showed the last out of his 2008 no-hitter against the Royals. Last out was made by Alberto Callaspo, who is now his teammate with the A's and had a huge hit in Saturday's win.
10) Red Sox plan on using Yoenis Cespedes in right field; tough sun field late in the day. Guess they figure his arm would be a waste in Fenway's short left field.
9) Weird baseball schedule Saturday; only two games at 4:00, with 13 nite games. Strange not having any games on TV early in the afternoon.
8) Armadillo World HQ has a new 48-inch flatscreen, which makes Channel 720 on DirecTV a must-watch; eight screens at once, can keep track of a lot more stuff. Tremendously tremendous.
7) Arizona's star 1B Paul Goldschmidt was supposed to get Friday off, but when the game got ugly late, he entered the game on a double-switch and batted in the 9th inning, when he got drilled on his hand and broke a bone in the hand.
Diamondbacks drilled Pirate star Andrew McCutchen Saturday, even though it was obvious Goldschmidt's plunking was an accident; Pirates outscored Snakes 15-2 in 8th/9th innings last two nights. Arizona's season is a disaster. .
6) Famous actress June Lockhart (Lassie, Lost in Space) recently turned 89; she was at the Dodger game last night, still in her seat in the 10th inning. She has already been in one movie this year and is filming another-- good for her!!!
5) Evan Longoria DH'd Saturday after he banged up his knee Friday in a collision with a lazy umpire behind first base after Longoria's infield hit. Longoria got thrown out going to second on the play with the Rays down 5-3, not a great moment.
4) Astros' 2B Jose Altuve scored from first base last night after an errant pickoff throw, then another error on a throw to third. Straight outta Little League.
3) There is a new McDonald's near my house; it is tremendous; more drive-thru area and they actually trained the kids who worked there!!! Got thru very quickly despite there being four cars in front of me. Well done........
2) Was little bit sad to watch the golf Saturday and hear Ian Baker-Finch hint that Eldrick Woods had given up because he wasn't contending. Forget exactly which euphemism he used, but something to effect that he had lost interest. This was a guy who was unrivaled in his sport and now is just another guy-- if you were owner of a golf-related company, would you pay Woods to endorse your products?
1) Jackasses at FOX/ESPN will wonder why ratings for baseball playoff games are down this fall; it is because they insist on showing every Bronx-Boston game, even though the two teams have a combined record of 105-114. Meanwhile the good teams go largely ignored; you know, teams that will be playing in October.
Just for the record, when the Royals-A's game ended Saturday, the game in Boston was in the top of 7th inning. Mediocre teams playing sloppy baseball; awesome.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.......
13) Indiana Pacers owe Paul George roughly $79M over the next five seasons; he is their best player, obviously. George broke two bones in his right leg Friday night during a Team USA intrasquad scrimmage at UNLV. Not sure of all the ramifications of this injury, but somebody has some 'splainin' to do, since a basket support where George got hurt is closer to the baseline than in NBA arenas.
12) Derrick Rose has been paid $34M by the Bulls the last two seasons, while he played in ten games, but he is playing for Team USA. Why is this OK? Doesn't an NBA team have the right to veto its players playing? Don't they owe it to their fans to protect the players they pay millions of dollars to? Apparently not.
11) Former NBA Commissioner David Stern recently had a hip replacement; his successor, Adam Silver, now has a giant headache in Indiana.
10) Former UTEP/Auburn hoop coach Tony Barbee is back with John Calipari at Kentucky, taking Rod Strickland's place- the former NBA guard went to USF with Orlando Antigua.
9) Maryland recruit Trayvon Reed won't be admitted to the school after being arrested for assault, petty theft and resisting arrest. Reed is 7-foot-1 and was a top 100 recruit this spring-- he'll find a home somewhere, for sure.
8) Sergio Garcia shot a 61 in Akron Friday, leads by three strokes there. Guy shot a ridiculous 27 on the back nine-- tremendous.
7) Houston Astros are 45-65, 22 games out of first place, but for some reason are raising ticket prices next season. Astros have improved, but only because they've been so pathetic the last couple years. Takes a lot of onions......
6) Anthony Ranaudo did really well in his MLB debut for Boston Friday, but he is rumored to be headed back to AAA, making room for Joe Kelly with the Red Sox. Ranaudo is an LSU alum who will be in a big league rotation next year, for sure.
5) Colorado Rockies have used 14 different starting pitchers; they're 38-43 in games when the top six starters pitched, 6-22 when they used another starter.
4) Angels have done a great job rebuilding their bullpen; what was a sore spot early this season has now allowed only one run in its last 28.1 innings.
3) There are 27 bones, 123 ligaments in a human hand. Just thought you'd like to know. You can learn a lot watching commercials on The Golf Channel.
2) Want to feel old? MTV turned 33 years old this weekend.
1) Good news on my friend's daughter who was stuck in Israel; she is now safe in Greece, will be reunited with her family here Monday in Chicago.
Friday's List of 13: Things to ponder with weekend here.......
13) I was fired up when the A's got Jeff Samardzija last month; wrote a long list in this space, then went to Denny's for breakfast-- at 5:30am, with no sleep. When I was awakened by a flurry of texts Thursday morning, having just come back from Las Vegas the night before,. I was stunned by the Lester/Cespedes trade. Still am.
12) As a longtime A's fan, I know any player who is any good will leave after a few years, but usually they leave on their own, not in the middle of a pennant race. You trade your cleanup hitter for an ace pitcher, it tells me one thing-- they're building a team that can win a short series. Ace pitchers win short series (see J Verlander).
11) So now the A's lack depth in outfield, are loaded on the mound- they brought Sam Fuld in to plug the Crisp/Gentry injury gap in CF, they'll platoon Gomes with Vogt or Reddick in the outfield and they'll probably need to score less since they figure to give up fewer runs. Could still use an upgrade at second base, but I have all the faith in the world in Billy Beane, so while I am stunned, I am not stressed.
10) Word late Thursday was that the A's were going to trade Cespedes after this season anyway, since he is a free agent after 2015. Oakland made the playoffs both years he was on the team-- Cespedes will be missed, like so many others.
9) Sonny Gray might get extra time between starts; A's figure to bring Drew Pomeranz up at some point to become a spot starter. At this rate, Gray is going to shatter his career high in innings pitched and teams are reluctant to let that happen, since that has been identified as a cause of arm injuries.
8) Ton of activity Thursday; Austin Jackson got pulled off the field during an inning in Detroit, when the David Price trade was announced. Don't see that a lot.
7) Lester/Lackey trades mean that I finally get my wish with Boston promoting Anthony Ranaudo to start on the mound Friday night. Still very odd seeing the Red Sox dump salary like they're the Rays or the Pirates.
6) Giancarlo Stanton has eight first-inning homers, most in MLB; all eight have come at home in Miami, a lousy home run park.
5) The "blocking home plate before you have the ball" rule has to go-- there was a total lack of common sense on an 8th inning call in Miami which cost the Marlins the winning runs in a 3-1 loss to Cincinnati. This is how bad the call was- it totally helped ny fantasy team, but it still made me mad, it made the sport look bad. They have to look at this immediately, if not sooner and make some changes.
4) Indians are unveiling a statue of Jim Thome outside their stadium this week; was surprised by this. Think you need to be a Hall of Famer or win a World Series to get yourself a statue, but thats their business.
3) Lost/found department at the New York City transit department has almost 30,000 cellphones waiting to be clained. Yikes.
2) Best wishes to golfer Dustin Johnson, who is taking some time off to deal with a personal issue; Johnson is engaged to Wayne Gretzky's daughter.
1) Memphis Grizzlies hired a mental endurance coach, which I'm assuming is a euphemism for a shrink. I'm guessing Lionel Hollins got a good laugh when he heard that one. Memphis fired him after he won 56 games two years ago-- maybe if they hadn't fired him, they wouldn't have to deal with this endurance hocus-pocus. .
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts frm a tired traveler....
13) Lady gets off an airplane in the Las Vegas airport Wednesday, runs to the slot machines, I mean she sprinted, yelling to her husband, "Darrell!!! Look!!!", like she had never seen slot machines before. Hope Darrell brought a lot of $$ on the trip.
12) A trusting soul reserved a spot in Corcoran's Pub in the airport by putting his wallet on the table, then going to the bar to order a drink. No one touched it, but a couple of people asked about it.
11) Grant Hill gave Duke a $1.25M gift, a million of which went to the athletic department; who doesn't have an extra $1.25M laying around?
10) If you look at all the starting pitchers in baseball history who threw 20+ innings in a World Series, the #4 ERA (0.87) belongs to Babe Ruth.
9) Memo to Oakland: Tommy Milone is better than Jason Hammel, I don't care who they traded to get Hammel, he's been awful for the A's.
8) Red Sox traded lefty pitcher Felix Doubrant to the Cubs, in a deadline deal by two last-place teams. Boston probably figures it is addition by subtraction.
7) It is now politicially fashionable to bash the "Redskins" nickname, very safe, since no one has the onions to come out and say the nickname should stay. There is no way everyone thinks the name is offensive-- I don't think it is. Why does the team in Cleveland get to keep "Indians"? Is that any different?
6) I don't like pickles; never have, probably never will. They're awful. Couple of Burger Kings near my house closed, so had my first meal there in a while in the Las Vegas airport-- too damn many pickles on their fish sandwich. Had to pick 'em off.
5) ESPN will televise the Under-17 world hoop championships starting August 8, which shoiuld be good stuff-- see the future college stars playing.
4) There is something disturbing about sitting down to watch a pitcher on your fantasy team pitch, and realizing the home plate ump is CB Bucknor; no bueno.
3) Orioles shut down pitching prosepct Hunter Harvey (elbow) for the season; there are over 30 pitchers on the DL this season, after having Tommy John surgery.
2) Wonder how many people pass thru the Las Vegas airport on an average day? Very efficient operation, from luggage to rental cars.
1) A friend of mine's daughter went to Israel this summer on an archaeolgical dig for her college studies and is now stuck there, as the morons continue to bomb each other until no one is left alive. If they want to kill each other, well go right ahead, but leave the innocent people alone. Am praying for the young lady's safe trip home.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random thoughts as I head home......
13) Tampa Bay can't trade David Price, can they? They're hot as hell, only 4.5 games out of a Wild Card slot- they'd be spitting on their fans if they trade him.
12) A 93-year old water main broke in Westwood, with six inches flooding Pauley Pavilion, UCLA's basketball arena, as water spurted uncontrolled for over three hours. Pauley Pavilion was renovated only two years ago.
11) Cincinnati Reds are 2-9 since All-Star Game; the wins were 1-0/3-0 games, so it is obvious that they really miss Joey Votto/Brandon Phillips.
10) Vin Scully announced last night that he will return next year for his 66th season broadcasting Dodger baseball- he started when Harry Truman was President.
9) San Francisco Giants were shut out four times in Ryan Vogelsong's last five starts; they're now three games behind the Dodgers and fading fast.
8) Rangers lost 12-11 at home, despite JP Arencibia hitting two HRs, knocking in seven runs. He is still hitting only .183 after his 4-5 night.
7) Mets wore camouflage jerseys Monday, bright orange jerseys last night; would be nice if they used as much creativity in trying to upgrade their roster.
6) It bears repeating that two teams bid on Yoenis Cespedes when he was a free agent after coming here from Cuba; the A's and Marlins,. and Miami's offer was 1/3 of Oakland's offer. What would Cespedes get on the open market now?
5) White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers was hitting .219 when he started wearing glasses; he's hitting .395 since he started wearing the spectacles.
4) Red Sox scratched Jon Lester from Wednesday's start, adding speculation he is getting traded. Brandon Workman takes his place in the Boston rotation.
3) Memo to Seattle Seahawk fans: 2005 Patriots are last defending champ to win an NFL playoff game.
2) You know its time to end your Las Vegas vacation when you lose a 16-inning baseball game and the winning pitcher is the other team's backup catcher. John Baker also scored the game-winning run, ending the 6:27 marathon.
1) If you've never gone on a vacation to Las Vegas, I highly recommend it; trust me on this. Lot more to do than gambling, you can do most anything here.
Tuesday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud.........
13) Went to a minor league baseball game here in Las Vegas last night; good stuff, minor league ball-- fun, inexpensive entertainment.
12) So Chip Kelly doesn't like the NFL Draft; wonder what he thought of it when he was the coach at Oregon and he could use former Ducks getting drafted as a tool in his recruiting process? Bet he didn't mind it much then.
11) New Orleans Saints are training at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia this summer; Sean Payton caddied at the PGA Tour event there two years ago, when he was suspended from the Saints after Bountygate.
10) Blake Griffin has a small fracture in his back; maybe he should tone down his dunks to take stress off his back when he lands-- just a suggestion.
9) Potomac Nationals. Class A farm club of Washington, have one of the better mascot names- their politically-themed mascot is called "Uncle Slam".
8) Price of gas here in Las Vegas has caught up to the greedy bastards in upstate New York; most places here now have prices in the $3.70's. Back in December, the prices here were 40-50 cents a gallon cheaper than in New York.
7) Nelson Cruz had trouble finding someone to sign him; he's now 5th in the major leagues in RBI and a huge reason why the Orioles are in first place.
6) Ben Roethlisberger is the 14th highest paid QB in the NFL? Really? How do the Steelers not re-do his contract?
5) AJ Burnett threw 131 pitches in his previous start before last night; he gave up four runs in the first inning Monday, seven runs in five innings overall, and looked awful in a 7-1 loss to the Mets. 131 pitches is a lot for an older pitcher.
4) Its sad watching Ryan Howard play; he's clearly washed up, even has trouble bending down to catch throws from infielders that are around his ankles-- he's been benched against lefty pitchers, but he is owed so much money, he's hard to dump.
3) Nationals led 6-0 in 7th inning at Miami last night, lost 7-6; Marlins score four times in bottom of ninth-- Washington bullpen allowed five of 12 batters they faced to score-- their lead over Atlanta is down to half a game.
2) Media types need to stop whining about the length of baseball games; its not that big a problem. If you don't like your job, quit. This is an issue totally cultivated by media members in an attention deficit-addled society.
1) If you're Steve Ballmer and the deal finally goes down where he gets the Clippers for $2B, on the same day it comes out that Blake Griffin has a small fracture in his back, are you a happy guy? I guess if you're a billionaire, you're always happy.
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