Wednesday’s 6-pack, Quote and Quiz of the Day

Wednesday’s six-pack
— Since 2013, New Mexico is 14-6-1 vs spread coming off a loss.
— East Carolina is 9-18 vs spread in its last 27 games as a favorite.
— UConn covered 11 of its last 15 road games.
— Since ’07, Texas Tech is 24-10-1 vs spread in games where road team is favored.
— Since 2011, Arizona State is 7-13 vs spread in non-conference games.
— Last three years, Nebraska is 8-14 vs spread at home.

Due to forecasts of severe weather, the Redskins-Bucs preseason game scheduled for Thursday night has been moved up to Wednesday.


Quote of the Day
“My wife passed away seven years ago. It was a bad day but the sun came up the next day.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer


Wednesday’s quiz
What team did Drew Brees begin his NFL career with?

Tuesday’s quiz
Washington Nationals were the Montreal Expos before the franchise moved to our nation’s capital.

Monday’s quiz
San Diego Chargers retired number 19 for the great wide receiver Lance Alworth.


Super Bowl records- most passing yards in a Super Bowl:
keep in mind there have now been 50 Super Bowls (100 QBs).
3) 365 yards, Kurt Warner, Rams vs NE– Super Bowl XXXVI
2) 377 yards, Kurt Warner, Cardinals vs Pitt– Super Bowl XLI
1) 414 yards, Kurt Warner, Rams vs Tenn– Super Bowl XXXIV

Like donuts? Try Cider Belle donuts on North Pearl Street in Albany……

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings……..

13) Very bad news for the Vikings Tuesday; QB Teddy Bridgewater hurt his leg and is done for the year. New starter Shaun Hill is 16-18 as an NFL starter; he was 3-5 starting for the ’14 Rams, his only starts since 2010. Hill is 36 and a vastly different player than the mobile Bridgewater.

Minnesota has no competent backup QB now, good news if you’re a fan of Austin Davis, Bryce Petty or Mark Sanchez.

12) Think it was Troy Aikman who said on TV last weekend that nickel packages (5 DB’s) were used on 62% of NFL plays last year. You get more passing in games, you need more defensive backs.

11) Andrew Luck/Kevin Hogan went 67-18 in starting Stanford’s last 85 football games; big shoes to fill for this year’s Cardinal QB.

10) Tennis balls at the US Open are different; men’s tennis balls have black writing on them and weigh slightly more than women’s tennis balls, which have red writing on them.

Insert your own joke here.

9) Mountain West basketball tournament is most always in Las Vegas, so impressive that San Diego State has won its last six conference tourney games against the Rebels. Tough to win road games in March.

8) Miami’s Jose Fernandez has made 33 road starts in his career and is 8-14 in those games. He has made 41 home starts and is 27-2 there.

7) Joey Bosa finally signed with San Diego; he won’t lose any salary, but you have to wonder how far behind he is, as far as preparing for this year.

6) South Alabama plays Mississippi State this week; USA’s defensive coordinator is the son of Ole Miss’ DC, so chances are pretty strong he got a good game plan from his dad on how to deal with the Bulldog offense, seeing as Ole Miss and Miss State are archrivals.

Too bad South Alabama doesn’t have some of Ole Miss’ players.

5) Former Packer WR James Jones is having trouble picking up San Diego’s offense; Chargers run a different offense than Green Bay– its like learning a new language, which ain’t always easy.

4) Apparently Tim Tebow did alright in his baseball tryout Tuesday; you would think someone will take a chance on him and at least let him play in the Arizona Fall League. What do you have to lose?

3) You could have won a sizeable bet in March if you had bet that Didi Gregorius would bat CLEANUP in five major league games this season. Gregorius was born in Holland, by the way- he has 17 HRs this year.

2) Pirates’ OF Starling Marte has a great throwing arm; he threw Javier Baez out at the plate with a perfect throw from LF Monday night, when Baez’s run would’ve won the game. Marte now has 17 outfield assists this season.

1– Quote of the Day, part 2: When asked which assistant coach has the toughest job on an NFL coaching staff, Giants’ coach Ben McAdoo said this:

“…….the position coach who coaches the head coach’s area of expertise.”

Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but………

13) I’m a big advocate of veteran quarterbacks calling their own plays; NFL coaches tend to be too conservative, protecting their jobs. When a QB calls plays, he is going to be more aggressive, and I like that.

Not many coaches like Bruce Arians, Sean Payton or Mike Martz who call plays like they bet the over.

12) I’m pretty sure on most NFL teams, QB/OC both prepare a list of their favorite plays, and the play-caller chooses plays both like for a given situation. Why can’t the QB have those plays on his wristband and do the same thing?

Last week on Hard Knocks, Rams’ OC Rob Boras was heard talking to Jared Goff after a series; the last play they had run was #5 on Boras’ list, #1 on Goff’s list. Teams have all week to develop a consensus on which plays they think will work.

11) The coach has the radio into the QB’s helmet, so if he wants one play to be chosen, he can still call it in, but if I have a solid veteran QB, I’d let him pick the plays our team runs. Think the players would have more confidence in the play calling if that happened.

10) A reader from Texas e-mailed me Monday to praise the Star, the Cowboys’ practice facility in Frisco, TX which is doubling as a 12,000-seat high school football stadium. Eight schools are using the domed facility as their home field. Tremendous idea.

9) Our reader also told us about the basketball coaching situation at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas; apparently the new coach at Findlay came to Vegas from Frisco, where he was a middle school football coach (they have 16 middle schools in Frisco). 16 middle schools in one town- wow.

The coach has two sons who are outstanding basketball players; he was named an assistant coach at Findlay, but when the old coach left for a college assistant’s job (Southern Utah), the assistant became the head coach, which may be why Gary Trent Jr jumped ship and is going to a school in California for his senior year.

8) Rumors have the older son preferring the Texas Longhorns as his college destination; would Shaka Smart bring the kid’s father along as an assistant coach?

7) Cal-San Diego has an outstanding D-II basketball program, but if they get an invite from the Big West, the Tritons will be going D-I. Not to be confused with San Diego State or U of San Diego, UCSD doesn’t have football, so basketball could put the school more on the national map.

6) Former NFL QB Byron Leftwich is now a coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals. Surprisingly few former players become NFL coaches; maybe the big money they make as players discourages them from working the long hours that coaches work.

5) San Francisco Giants hit 4 home runs and 4 triples Sunday, first team to do that in one game since 1998.

4) Florida State’s football team has a reality show on Showtime that starts September 6; curious to see if the first episode deals with their strength coach getting a DUI over the weekend. Not good.

3) Tennessee-Virginia Tech are playing football this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, with 160,000 fans expected to attend. Should be quite a spectacle.

2) Started going thru college basketball stuff last week, as preparation for this winter has begun; surprised to see that the Michigan Wolverines have not won the Big 14 conference tournament since 1998. Long time.

1– Kudos to former baseball commissioner Bud Selig for the whole Wild Card thing; the Wild Card makes September relevant in baseball. Going to be an exciting month, with lot of teams jockeying to make the playoffs.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Oswaldo Arcia is a 25-year old Venezuelan who has been in the major leagues on-and-off for four years. He’s had a very interesting summer.

After playing 32 games for the Twins this year, Minnesota traded him to Tampa Bay on June 24. He played 21 games for the Rays, then was claimed on waivers by the Marlins last Tuesday. Four days later, San Diego claimed him off waivers, so he has played for four big league teams, just this year.

From 1961-2008, only six players played for four teams in the same season; can’t find anything on it since then, but it doesn’t happen much.

12) Odds on the Patriots’ record during Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension:
4-0, +$1150…….3-1, +$150…….2-2, +$145…….1-3, +$335……0-4, +$1500

11) Congrats to the kids from Endicott, NY who won the Little League WS Sunday. PGA Tour used to have an event in Endicott (BC Open) that I went to a few times. Great memory for those kids and their families.

10) Mets, Orioles, Mariners are only three teams who’ve scored more than 50% of their runs this season via the home run.

9) Road team is 13-1 in Pittsburgh’s last 14 games; Pirates won their last eight road games.

8) Giants were -$300 Sunday, with Madison Bumgarner on the mound; since 2014, favorites of -$300 or higher are now 19-2.

7) If the Denver Broncos cut QB Mark Sanchez, they save $4.5M and also hold onto a 7th-round draft pick. Seems like Trevor Siemian is going to start for the Broncos, so cutting Sanchez and letting rookie Paxton Lynch be the backup makes some business sense.

6) If Sanchez does get cut, Dallas and the Giants should call his agent; both teams badly need an upgrade at backup QB. Same thing for Bryce Petty if the Jets cut him- he’ll get another job fairly quickly.

5) Padres 3, Marlins 1– San Diego turned six double plays, one short of the record for a 9-inning game, set by Houston in ’69 against the Giants.

4) Kyle Larson got his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win Sunday, only the second driver ever to get his first win at Michigan (Dale Jarrett, 1991). If he has as good a career as Jarrett, he’ll be doing darned well.

3) Vikings 23, Chargers 10– Minnesota opened its new domed stadium, which has a fixed roof, made of glass. Mike Zimmer is now 10-2 vs spread in preseason games.

2) Gary Trent Jr will be one of the best high school basketball players in the country this year, his senior year. Trent had gone to Apple Valley HS in Minnesota, but earlier this summer announced he was transferring to Findlay Prep in Las Vegas for his senior year.

Then the coach at Findlay quit to become an assistant coach at Southern Utah, so now young Trent is transferring again, to Prolific Prep in Napa Valley, CA.

How about letting the kid be a kid, instead of parading him around the country? Gary Trent Sr played ten years in NBA, so everyone knows who his son is– he is going to play in a really good college program, but he is spending his senior year in HS 1,500 miles from home, and that seems a little sad.

1–  Colorado-Washington game Saturday afternoon had some fireworks, with plate ump Mike Winters searching for called strikes on a hot day. Bryce Harper snapped in extra innings and got tossed by Winters after being called out; somehow he avoided bumping the umpire, who had a bad day.

Sunday’s List of 13: Summing up a summer Saturday…….

13) Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo has a broken vertebrae in his back, is out 6-10 weeks; if I were his friend/advisor, I’d suggest he retire before something terrible happened to him. Romo is 36, has made a ton of cash in his career. Would be nice if he was healthy enough to spend it.

12) All of which leaves Mississippi State rookie Dak Prescott as Cowboys’ #1 QB, with no competent backup; Dallas has to sign a veteran backup now, since Kellen Moore is hurt and out for several more weeks.

This also makes the Week 1 Giant-Cowboy game an Egg Bowl matchup, since Eli went to Ole Miss and Prescott to Miss State.

11) USC plays Alabama in Texas next Saturday; Trojans still have 19 players who were at USC in 2013, when Bama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was the Trojans’ head coach.

10) Green Bay may have found itself a hidden gem in backup QB Joe Callahan, who played D-III college ball at Wesley College in Delaware.

9) New England opens at Arizona, then Jimmy Garoppolo’s last three starts as Patriots’ QB are all home games, vs Miami, Houston, Buffalo. Tom Brady’s first game is October 9 in Cleveland.

8) Cam Newton played a lot last night in Carolina’s loss to the Patriots, almost three quarters. Panthers put up only three points while Newton was in the game; 3rd-stringer Joe Webb led a late rally that fell just short.

7) Duke lost its QB Thomas Sirk for the season to another achilles injury; tough break for the young man and for the Blue Devils.

6) Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene’s son is a walk-on at Southern Miss. Greene was a walk-on himself, at Auburn.

5) Sometimes if you want to get more honest opinions about players, listen to the other team’s announcers; they talk to the home team’s TV/radio guys and they might pass on some criticism of players that the home team’s guys wouldn’t dare say on the air.

4) Announcers at the Cal-Hawai’i game Friday weren’t in Australia where the game was played; they broadcast the game from an ESPN studio. Saves lot of money and may be a wave of the future.

3) If you care about such things, NHL teams scored a goal on 18.7% of power plays last season.

2) Last year, golfer Scott Brown aced the par-3 3rd hole at the Wyndham tournament during Sunday’s final round.

Last week, Scott Brown again aced the par-3 3rd hole at the Wyndham tournament during Sunday’s final round.

Apparently it is only the second time that has happened on Tour, same guy acing the same hole in the same event two years in a row.

1– Bears-Texans play in Week 1 of regular season. Both teams already lost their starting center for the year. Chicago was awful on offense the last two weeks; even in preseason, this is a red flag. One of Houston’s starting tackles also figures to miss the Week 1 game.

Saturday’s List of 13: Is it really the last weekend in August?

13) Did something different Thursday; hopped on an Amtrak train and went down to New York City, visited my cousins on Long Island. Excellent day, lot of laughs– train travel is highly underrated. I recommend it. Down and back in 22 hours makes for a long day, but a fun one.

12) Penn Station is an amazing place; the hub of train travel in NYC, so many people going in and out. People of all shapes, sizes, races, all trying to get somewhere in a hurry. The tremendous diversity we have as a nation should be our greatest strength. Too bad that’s not the way things are going these days.

11) Giants’ lefty Matt Moore had Tommy John surgery in 2014; Thursday he threw 133 pitches in his one-hitter, the most any pitcher has thrown in a game this year. Curious to follow Moore the rest of the year and see if this game has any ill effects on him going forward.

10) Dodgers-Phillies swapped veteran catchers Thursday; AJ Ellis goes to Philly, Carlos Ruiz to LA. Phillies give Ruiz, a member of their ’08 title team, a chance to finish his career with a contender. Odd move for the contending Dodgers; Ellis is beloved by teammates. It was reported than Clayton Kershaw was in tears after the trade.

Like we talked about earlier this week; there is a human element to sports. Team chemistry matters, but not everyone shares that view.

9) Arkansas-Texas have a basketball game December 17 in Houston. Solid non-conference game for both teams, and for TV.

8) UNLV’s football team gets $1.3M for its road game at Ohio State next year, $1.15M for its game at USC in 2018. Rebels don’t have a guarantee game this year- they visit UCLA, but the Bruins came to Las Vegas LY, so this is simply a return game.

7) From 2011-14, Cleveland Browns had six first-round draft picks; of those six players, only CB Justin Gilbert is still with Cleveland.

6) Best part of Hard Knocks this week was DE Eugene Sims catching footballs one-handed that were shot from a pitching machine. He didn’t miss any; they had the Rams’ tight ends coach on camera asking, “Could he play tight end?”

5) Interesting move this week; Tom Coughlin is now on the NFL’s competition committee. Not sure many retired coaches get on that, but then again, are we sure Coughlin is retired?

4) Dallas Cowboys have to sign another backup QB; no way can they depend on Tony Romo to last thru one game, much less 16. Rookie Dak Prescott has been terrific in preseason, but if Romo is a no-go, then Dallas still needs someone to back up Prescott.

3) By the way, Dallas is 1-13 in the last 14 regular season games that Romo missed.

2) Quote of the Day, part 2, from Reds’ OF Adam Duvall, when asked about the one baseball rule he would change, if he could:

“I don’t know. I mean, I enjoy watching National League games because of the pitchers having to hit. Maybe that would be it. It makes it so much more interesting, having to juggle the pieces rather than just being able to leave it alone. The double switch is very interesting because you have to know what you’re doing and it can change a ballgame. So, maybe get rid of the DH would be it.”

1– Science is amazing; people who are doctors/nurses do great things. A young person in Las Vegas named Addison was born last year with a hole in her heart; she got it fixed this week, which is excellent news. Young Addison has a great smile (and more hair on her head than me). Must be a tremendous feeling to be a doctor and to save people’s lives.

Friday’s List of 13: NFL knowledge on a summer day

13) Since 2006, New England Patriots are 17-5-1 as underdogs; they’re 25-17 vs spread in last 42 games where spread was 3 or less points, 23-10 in games following a SU loss. They’ve won 12+ games 10 of last 13 years.

12) Since 2009, Houston Texans are 19-31 in games with spread of 3 or less points; since ’07, they’re 11-21 as non-divisional home favorite, but are 19-11 in AFC South home games the last ten years.

11) Underdogs are 42-20 vs spread in Eagles’ divisional games the last ten years; since ’10, Iggles are 0-7 as home underdogs. Last two years, Philly is 9-14 vs spread on grass, 7-2 on artificial turf- they were 13-9 under Kelly in games with spread of 3 or less points.

10) Over last four years, in last four games of the season, Minnesota is 14-2 against spread; they’re 23-9 vs spread under Zimmer, 18-6 vs spread coming off a SU loss. Over last decade, Vikings are 1-4 in playoff games.

9) Last time Colts missed playoffs two years in a row? 1997-98. Since 2012, Colts are 8-16 as home favorites; since ’13, they’re 11-5 as an underdog. Indy lost four of last five season openers, with three losses by 13+ points.

8) Oakland Raiders last made playoffs in 2002; they’re 18-46 last four years. Since ’06, Raiders are 14-33-1 in games with spread of 3 or less, 6-19 as a home favorite- since ’09, they’re 12-26 coming off a win. Road team is 42-17 vs spread in their AFC West games the last decade.

7) Over last decade, Saints are 9-15 as divisional home favorite, 27-16-3 as a non-divisional HF. Over is 25-15 in their home games the last five years. Saints allowed 6,615 yards LY; they allowed 4,891 in 2014. After going 55-25 from 2009-13, Saints were 7-9 in each of last two years.

6) Rams have a different starting QB for 4th year in row; under is 51-27-2 in their road games the last 10 years. Rams’ last winning season was in ’03; they made playoffs in ’04, but at 8-8. In other words, zero winning seasons since they released Kurt Warner.

5) Since ’06, Miami Dolphins are 13-32 as a home favorite; underdogs are 43-28 vs spread in their games where spread was 3 or less points, 61-35 in their non-divisional games the last decade. Miami has played in one playoff game since 2003.

4) Since 2008, Giants are 37-25 vs spread coming off a win; over last ten years, underdogs are 36-23-1 vs spread in their NFC East games. Since 2001, they made playoffs six times; lost first game four times, won Super Bowl via Wild Card route the other two times.

3) Under Andy Reid, Chiefs are 12-6 in games with spread of 3 or less points; under is 27-19 in their games under Reid. KC has won one playoff game (1-5) in last 20 years; favorites are 28-19-1 vs spread in their last 48 non-divisional road games.

2) Last time Jaguars had winning season was 2007; last time they were favored on the road was 2011. Jags are 8-15 in last 23 games with spread of 3 or less points. Over last decade,  Jax is 4-37 in games decided by 10+ points.

1– Last six Jet head coaches had a 57-39 record their first year, 99-109 the rest of the time. Jets covered seven of last nine tries as a home underdog; underdogs are 39-20-1 vs spread in their AFC East games the last decade. Jets are 4-8-1 in last 13 games with spread of 3 or less.

 

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud

13) This weekend’s NFL are pretty much dress rehearsals for Week 1; you’ll see lot of regulars for a while this week. Next week, it’ll be guys at the end of depth charts playing for jobs in games no one should have to play full price to watch. Moreso than the other exhibition games, this week’s games are interesting to watch.

12) Strength of schedule in college football this year: Alabama has the 4th-toughest schedule, Michigan has the 65th-toughest (out of 128).  Hawai’i-Central Florida-Colorado are their three non-league games.

11) Charlie Weis got paid $4.6M last year even though he did not coach; he was still cashing in on his last two jobs, Notre Dame/Kansas. Amazingly, Weis was the 8th-highest paid college football coach in America LY.

10) Before this year, Dan Straily’s career record was 13-13 in 45 career starts for the A’s/Cubs/Astros. This year, despite pitching in the bandbox ballpark in Cincinnati, Straily is 10-6, 3.57 in 24 starts, 6-0, 2.30 in his last seven; Reds are 9-2 in his home starts this year.

9) One of the baseball coaches/trainers for the classic baseball movie Bull Durham was Grady Little, who later managed the Red Sox.

8) Dodgers had seven starting pitchers on the DL before Rich Hill was activated to pitch last night; Hill is the 14th different starting pitcher LA has used this season.

7) We’ve talked a little bit recently about high school football in Texas; last year, the average salary for a HS football coach in one of Fort Worth’s biggest schools was $98,000. Average salary for a starting teacher in those same schools: $53,000.

6) When Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid was a kid, he once had a job serving meatballs in the backstage dining room at the Tonight Show.

5) Chargers and first-round draft pick Joey Bosa haven’t come to terms on a contract yet; Bosa is only hurting himself. His window for playing pro football is short; have to make money while you can. Get your butt into camp and play; show them you deserve your money, and more.

4) Betting odds for the Ryder Cup, which is Sept 30-Oct 2 in Minnesota: US is -$160, Europe is +$170, Tie is +1100. Odds were posted by golfodds.com.

3) Long time ago, I was an official scorer for two years in the Eastern League, AA baseball. Not a fun job. Baseball is a statistics-driven business and if you’re the person deciding on a marginal hit/error decision, people get mad at you if that decision doesn’t go their way, even if it was the right decision.

That said, the A’s scored two runs yesterday when an infield pop fell untouched to the right of the mound. Sunny day/tough sky, but a play that has to be made. No way on God’s green earth should it have been scored a hit, since it cost the pitcher two earned runs.

Didn’t matter to me personally, I was just watching the game and it seems unfair for a pitcher to be nailed for earned runs because of that misplay.

2) If Trevor Siemian starts a regular season game for the Broncos this year, he will be the first Northwestern QB to start an NFL game since Randy Dean started for the Giants on November 23, 1979.

1– Best wishes to Providence basketball coach Ed Cooley, who recently had back surgery. Cooley lost 100+ pounds a few years ago and works out a lot, but he hurt his back working out this summer. Get well soon, coach.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Blowing off steam on a summer day

13) If you know me, you know I love numbers; I understand (most of) them and love to utilize them, but the current analytics craze has gotten goofy. There is, was and always will be a human element to sports (and life in general) that cannot be quantified by any single metric, no matter what fancy college you went to.

12) Case in point: my Oakland A’s are having a horrible year; they had a fight in the locker room last week. Player A is getting paid to wear a certain brand of spikes but wasn’t doing it and apparently the sales rep for that company was calling him on it. Player A denied it.

Player B sticks his nose into the discussion and throws Player A under the bus in front of the sales rep; when the rep left, words were exchanged, punches were thrown and Player A knocked Player B onto the DL with a concussion. Not good, especially when it becomes public.

11) So when the metrics people use WAR (the popular one-stop rating for all players), how does this incident change the ratings (if at all) for these two players? Player A put a teammate on the DL- that’s not good. Player B is a jerk who might’ve cost his teammate $20,000 by opening his yap when it wasn’t called for- that’s worse.

I’m guessing WAR doesn’t cover stuff like this (intangibles) which is why I pay so little attention to it. There is more to life than numbers, especially when you travel with the same group of people seven months at a time.

It is impossible to quantify what it means to be a good teammate, or a bad one. What if Player B had supported player A to the shoe rep?

10) Numerical guru (that is a compliment) Christopher Kamka came up with this gem last night: Kris Bryant is hitting .439 this year, with 28 runs scored and 34 RBI in Jake Arrieta’s 24 starts.

9) Bad news for the Orioles, who are 20-6 in Chris Tillman starts this year; Tillman goes on the DL with a sore shoulder. Not good.

8) Arizona Diamondback TV guys were killing Matt Kemp Monday night, talking for a decent while about how the Braves’ GM said that Kemp needed to be in better physical shape. So of course Kemp beats Arizona last night with a bases-loaded triple. Been that kind of a year in Phoenix.

7) Ryan Howard/Jayson Werth both have 38 HRs in interleague games, the active leaders in that category.

6) Joey Votto/Jose Altuve are both hitting over .400 since the All-Star break; last player to do that was Ichiro Suzuki, in 2004.

5) Rich Hill is finally making his Dodger debut today, 23 days after the A’s traded him to LA (he had blister problems). Hill becomes the Dodgers’ 14th starting pitcher this year, an awful lot for a contender.

4) Tim Tebow invited all 30 major league teams to his baseball tryout on August 30 in LA; hard to believe someone won’t take a shot and sign him, even if it is a publicity stunt. Some teams could use the publicity.

3) 7-footer CJ Gettys transfers from NC-Wilmington to Rutgers, where he can play against more guys his size. Gettys scored 5.4 ppg with 5.1 rebounds/game LY, but UNCW is a pressing team now, which doesn’t help Gettys. Odd thing is that the Seahawks are a better team than Rutgers, which only sees the NCAAs if they watch TV. UNCW gave Duke a pretty good game in the first round of the NCAAs last March.

2) RIP to the fine actor Steven Hill, 94, who passed away this week. Hill was most famous for his role as DA Adam Schiff on Law and Order; he was also in movies like The Firm and White Palace. RIP, sir.

1- If third-party Presidential candidate Gary Johnson changed his last name to “Noneoftheabove”, he might win the election, because if I see “none of the above” on my ballot in November, I’m voting for it, and I don’t think I’m the only person with that opinion.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) Kind of ironic that Gregg Popovich is the new US Olympic basketball coach; nucleus of the Spurs’ team that made him rich/famous (Duncan-Parker-Ginobili) wasn’t born in this country. San Antonio usually has eight or nine foreigners on its 15-man roster.

12) Tommy John made his MLB debut in 1963; his last game was in 1989. He had elbow surgery and missed the ’75 season, that surgery is now known as “Tommy John surgery”. Here are John’s career stats, before and after the surgery:

Before: 12 years: 124-106, one All-Star team.
After: 14 years: 164-125, three All-Star teams.

Someone needs to get that surgeon into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

11) Mariners blew a 6-3 lead in ninth inning Sunday; stuff like that is why some baseball bettors I talk to in Las Vegas prefer betting the first five innings option, as opposed to the whole game. Takes bullpens out of the equation; the fewer things in the equation, the better for the bettor.

10) Bad day for NL East pitchers named Steve; Stephen Strasburg and Steven Matz both went on the DL Monday with sore arms.

9) Chris Spielman does Lions’ preseason games on TV; it is impossible to listen to him and not learn good stuff about football. He is VERY SERIOUS about football– he is smart and good natured and should be higher in the TV analysts’ hierarchy.

8) D-League will be up to 22 teams this season; only eight more to go until it becomes a full-fledged AAA league for the NBA.

7) It is unfathomable to me that QBs get to the NFL (Jared Goff, for one) who have never taken a snap from center or ran a huddle in high school or college. College teams who do huddle should use that in their recruiting pitch to young QBs.

6) Cincinnati Reds’ relievers have allowed a home run to the first batter they’ve faced 24 times this year, most since the ’07 Rays (25). Maybe if their ballpark wasn’t such a bandbox, they would have more successful pitchers. Same with Philly-Baltimore-Bronx-Houston.

5) Adrian Gonzalez hit three homers against the Reds’ awful pitchers Monday; one of them was a glorified pop-up that landed in the first row in the leftfield bleachers.

People made fun of the generic “cookie-cutter” ballparks of the 70’s, but they didn’t yield cheap homers and help ruin pitching staffs, except for the hideous artificial turf they had.

4) Monday was first day of school at University of New Mexico; too bad their computer system went down and the school bookstore couldn’t sell books, because the computers were down. Oy.

3) One of Stephen Curry’s used mouthpieces went for $3,190 in one of those memorabilia auctions. Seriously….$3,190.

2) Carl Erskine was at the Dodgers-Reds game Monday; he is 89 years old now, was 122-78 in 12 big league seasons for the Dodgers, mostly in Brooklyn. He started the Dodgers’ first game in LA in 1958 in the Coliseum (where USC/Rams play now). Mr Erskine seems sharp as a tack; was good to hear from him yesterday.

1– Sports Illustrated must be having money problems; they let veteran football writer Don Banks go, after 16 years with the magazine. Banks is an excellent writer; how he gets let go is baffling. Someone will be very smart and hire Banks to write for them.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend……..

13) USC in 2004 is the last preseason #1 team to win the national title in college football.

12) That said, Michigan (#7) is ranked highest it has been in preseason since 2007, when they lost their opener to (then) I-AA Appalachian State.

11) Houston Cougars are in preseason top 25 for first time since 1991; they open against Oklahoma, so we’ll find out pretty quickly if they belong in the top 25- they do have a very good senior QB.

10) Spain 89, Australia 88– Bronze medal games are fiercely fought; you get a medal if you win, nada if you lose. Aussies are now 0-4 in bronze medal games, but their basketball program is on the rise.

9) Pitchers who get drafted by the Colorado Rockies every June must want to puke when they get selected; who wants to pitch there, unless you’re an extreme ground ball pitcher? Someday, Colorado is going to hire an ex-pitcher as a manager- not sure if that would help, though.

8) San Francisco Giants have been out-homered 48-26 since All-Star break.

7) Why do some umpires (Tom Hallion comes to mind) show off when they call strike 3 on a hitter, but they never do when it is ball 4?

6) Back in June, Arizona prospect Pete O’Brien was hitting .330 in AAA, just killing the ball; D’backs called him up, made a little bit of a fuss over him and put him in leftfield for a while.

Then major league pitchers started throwing curveballs.

O’Brien went 7-57 with 25 strikeouts and was sent back to AAA, where he has since hit .160 with 65 strikeouts in 155 PA. Talking about screwing up a prospect- the offseason can’t get here quick enough for this guy. He is 26, not exactly young for a minor leaguer– we hope he bounces back.

5) Felix Hernandez hurt his calf Memorial Day weekend, went on the DL; Seattle went 19-28 while he was gone. Since King Felix came back, M’s are 19-10, even after blowing a big 9th-inning lead to Milwaukee Sunday. He solidifies their rotation, gives them innings, rests the bullpen.

4) Showtime is doing a reality show on Florida State football this fall; they did one on Notre Dame last season. Seminoles are opening against Ole Miss with a redshirt freshman QB starting- that could be dicey.

3) Seven teams got at least one vote for #1 in the first college football top 25 poll.

2) One thing to remember about betting on these NFL exhibition games; lot of times, the teams practice against each other during the week, so games can be more contentious than you might expect. Plus, there is some familiarity to what teams run, as far as offense/defense.

Preseason games are for coaches, to make decisions on rosters, and for the players trying to stick on the end of those rosters. They’re not for star players or for handicappers/gamblers– too much guesswork involved.

1) Take Jeff Fisher, for example; he held Jared Goff out of the second half of the first preseason game, then played him for almost three quarters in this week’s game, when he expressly said he was not going to do either one of those things. If you don’t know who is going to play, how do you wager on the game?

I’ll go to my grave saying betting on preseason games is a bad idea.

Sunday’s List of 13; Wrapping up a sports Saturday……..

13) Ravens 19, Colts 18– Result of this game will soon be forgotten, but how the final score happened could shape NFL strategy for years to come.

Colts scored a TD with 3:54 left to take a 18-17 lead; proper strategy says to go for 2, to try and get a 20-17 lead so a Ravens’ FG wouldn’t beat you. One small problem……..

Baltimore’s Anthony Levine picked off a pass on the 2-point conversion and ran it back all the way, giving the Ravens two points of their own, and the lead and eventually, the win. Will this make coaches hesitant to go for 2 in this situation when the games count for real? Will they kick the PAT or just take a knee there? I’m thinking most will still go for two.

12) Watching exhibition games on NFL Network, so many former players are saying that tackling is suffering because no one is allowed to practice it anymore. Contact during practice is limited now by league rule. I hear this during almost every game I watch.

11) Way back in 1980, Nick Saban was Ohio State’s defensive backs coach; the man he replaced? Pete Carroll. The coach who replaced Saban when he (and the entire defensive staff) was fired a year later? Dom Capers, now the defensive coordinator in Green Bay.

10) Washington Redskins musn’t have wanted a tie game Friday night; they scored a TD with 0:29 left to go up 20-18 on the Jets, then went for 2, guaranteeing the game couldn’t go overtime.

Bryce Petty threw for 242 yards as he battles for the Jets’ #2 QB job; Baylor alum Petty replaced former Redskin Robert Griffin III as the Bears’ quarterback.

9) Quick story: I am sitting by myself having breakfast in Denny’s at 2:30am the other night; pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and a tall glass of milk. This young middle eastern lady (in her 20’s) comes to my table and asks what the white liquid (milk) is.

She speaks very broken English; at first I thought she was making fun of me for drinking milk, then I realize she has no idea what it is. I tried to explain it to her; she nodded and left.

Just me doing my small part to improve international relations.

8) Padres’ pitcher Clayton Richard was #2 QB for the Michigan Wolverines in 2004, when he backed up Chad Henne. Richard has bounced around the big leagues for the last nine years, starting 133 games.

That’s similar to Seattle OF Seth Smith, who was Eli Manning’s backup at Ole Miss.

7) White Sox pitcher Chris Sale had 13 games LY where he struck out 10+ hitters; he has had one this year.

6) A high school football stadium is being built in McKinney, TX; it will cost $69M to build. For a high school football stadium.

5) Dallas Cowboys have a new practice facility in Frisco, TX, which is part of a bigger complex; the domed facility will also be the home field for eight high school teams in the Frisco area– the stadium seats 12,000 people. High school football in Texas is serious business.

4) Houston Astros released OF Carlos Gomez; their rivals in Arlington picked him up, which should spice up Ranger-Astro games going forward. Gomez was playing for a new contract this year, but didn’t play well.

3) The more I think about it, if baseball changed one rule and made a relief pitcher face at least two batters in every appearance, instead of one batter like it is now, that would greatly lessen the amount of pitching changes and increase pace of play late in games.

2) Tampa Bay Bucs spent a #2 draft pick on kicker Roberto Aguayo, who never missed a FG shorter than 40 yards at Florida State. In his first two preseason games with the Buccaneers, Aguayo has missed a PAT and a 32-yard FG. Oy.

1– 49ers 31, Broncos 24– Christian Ponder was signed by the 49ers as a backup QB during the week; he was 7-8 for 86 yards, threw for a TD, ran for another after being out of football last year. We say these exhibition games do not matter, but to someone like Ponder, they mean everything.

 

Saturday’s List of 13: NFL info to ponder on a summer Saturday……..

13) Last two years, home favorites are 5-16-2 vs spread on Monday Night Football. Home underdogs are 7-5; underdogs overall are 23-10-2.

12) Arizona is 4-15-1 vs spread (1-8 when favored) in its last 20 Monday night games; Cardinals are 15-3-1 vs spread in last 19 games where the spread was 3 or less points.

11) Buffalo Bills are 0-3 in playoff games the last 20 years; their last playoff win was 36-22 over Miami in ’95. Buffalo covered nine of its last 11 games as a home underdog.

10) When the Ravens won the 2001 Super Bowl, they had only one playoff win over the next seven years; in three years since winning the ’13 Super Bowl, they’ve won only one playoff game.

9) Last three years, Atlanta Falcons are 6-16 vs spread as favorites; since 2004, they’re 1-4 in playoff games.

8) Carolina Panthers won their last seven games that were decided by less than 7 points; they’re 24-14-1 vs spread as underdogs under Ron Rivera.

7) Last three years, Chicago Bears are 5-16-2 vs spread at home (19-29 SU). Bears are 7-16-1 vs spread in last 24 games where spread was 3 or less points. Chicago is 6-13 in last 19 games that were decided by less than 7 points. Lovie Smith was 3-3 in playoff games; Bears haven’t been back to playoffs since they fired him.

6) Since 2011, Cincinnati Bengals are 11-6-1 s road favorites.

5) Cleveland Browns went 10-6 in 2007; since then, they’re 37-91. RGIII will be their eighth starting QB in the last nine years.

4) Dallas Cowboys are 4-11-1 vs spread at home the last two years; they’re 18-12 as road underdogs under Jason Garrett, 8-4 in NFC East games.

3) Denver has its sixth starting QB in last 11 years; they were 50-14 with Manning at QB, after going 36-44 the previous five years. Broncos are 8-3 in last 11 games decided by less than 7 points.

2) Last 20 years, Detroit Lions are 0-4 in playoff games; their last playoff win was 38-6 over Dallas in 1991. Lions are 8-2-2 as home favorites the last two years- they’re 40-56-3 as underdogs the last 10 years.

1– Green Bay has been in playoffs 14 of last 20 years, going 13-12, which means they’ve won two Super Bowls during that time. Pack is 1-7 as road underdogs the last three years. Since 2010, Green Bay is 12-16 in games with spread of 3 or less points.

 

Friday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud…..

13) If you were in the outfield bleachers at a big league baseball game and you caught a home run ball that was the first career home run for a player, what would you ask for, in return for the ball?

I mean, this is the guy’s first home run ball; he is going to pay for it. It might be the one chance in your life to have a future millionaire over a barrel financially.

12) Most people I see on TV just ask for an autographed ball or bat; if I was a local, I might ask for season tickets for a year or two, or an autographed batting helmet from the best player on that team. It is a good chance to acquire something worth decent money.

11) One of the things they haven’t mentioned on Hard Knocks (yet) is that Rams’ star defensive lineman Robert Quinn is at the Olympics, cheering on his sister, who is a hurdler. Coach Jeff Fisher said “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a really neat thing for Rob and his family. It’s the right to do to let him go down there.”

Quinn’s sister won the NCAA title as a hurdler for Kentucky. She is competing for Puerto Rico.

10) Rams play the Chiefs Saturday night; old friend Nick Foles is a Chief now, after the Rams chose Case Keenum as its QB over Foles and sent him on his way. Chiefs have four QBs in camp, but I’m guessing Andy Reid will try and showcase Foles a little bit in this game.

9) Opening lines for Friday’s Olympic basketball semifinals: Australia (-3.5) plays Serbia, the Americans (-14.5) play Spain.

8) Giants’ kicker Josh Brown is suspended for the opener against Dallas, apparently because of a misdemeanor domestic violence arrest that took place in May, 2015. The suspension costs Brown roughly $85,000.

If I coached the Giants, I’d use Brown’s suspension as a chance to go for 2 after every TD, just to experiment to see if it was a good idea. Never know, you might learn something valuable (or get your QB hurt).

7) Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine does some TV work for the Braves; he is very good– you learn stuff listening to him. He was talking about young pitchers and how body language is important, as far as letting your opponents and your teammates know if you’re confident or not. Interesting stuff.

Glavine won 305 games in his great career, but in his first two years, he was 9-17, 4.76– not very good. He caught on pretty quickly, though.

6) TNT will add Monday night NBA doubleheaders to its programming in the second half of the season this winter. Since ESPN doesn’t do a west coast Big Monday game anymore, the Monday late game is a good add.

5) Nintendo is selling the Seattle Mariners to a group of 17 Seattle-based investors. Guy named John Stanton is the CEO- he made his fortune in wireless technology.

4) Atlanta Falcons play Tampa Bay in Week 1 this season; it will also be coach Dan Quinn’s 46th birthday. Must be a little odd now to have your birthday on September 11, such a sad day in our country’s history.

3) When I went to a AAA baseball game in Las Vegas last month, they had a pitch clock behind the plate. It is more of a deterrent than anything else; if it ran out before the pitcher threw (not very often) no one did anything.

If you made a relief pitcher face at least two batters (instead of one, like it is now) would that result in fewer pitching changes and a faster game?

2) Red Sox TV guys hinted that the struggles of reliever Junichi Tazawa will make it a lot more likely that Boston will sign Jonathan Papelbon, who was recently released by the Nationals.

1– My second tier of favorite movies. Listed my seven favorite movies the other day; here is my second group of 7, in alphabetical order:

For the Love of the Game– Kevin Costner is a pitcher for the Tigers.
Friday Night Lights– Billy Bob Thornton is a great as a HS football coach.
Good Will Hunting– I think this was Robin Williams’ best movie.
Hoosiers– Small town high school hoop team in Indiana wins state title.
Invincible– A 30-year old bartender tries out for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Last Vegas– Four childhood friends head to Las Vegas as senior citizens.
Let it Ride– A compulsive gambler has a big day at the racetrack.

Thursday’s List of 13: Random NFL knowledge

13) San Diego’s Antonio Gates has scored the most touchdowns (104) of any active player.

12) 52 defensive backs were taken in last April’s draft, most of any position, followed by 36 linebackers, 32 receivers. Only 15 quarterbacks were taken.

11) Ohio State (12) had the most players drafted, followed by Clemson (9) and UCLA (8). SEC had 51 players taken, followed by Big 14 (47) and the Pac-12 (32).

10) Baltimore Ravens threw 21 INTs LY, had only six themselves; hard to win many games with a -14 turnover ratio like the Ravens had.

9) Last Buffalo Bills head coach with a winning record: Wade Phillips, who went 29-21 from 1998-2000. Bills last made the playoffs in 1999.

8) From 1992-2002, Cincinnati Bengals went 52-124; Marvin Lewis cleaned that mess up and is 112-101-2 as Bengals’ coach. Problem is, he is 0-7 in playoff games and the natives are restless, forgetting how dreadful things were before Lewis came to Cincinnati.

7) Miami Dolphins do not have a road game in October; they visit Cincinnati Sept 29, then have 3 straight home games, a bye, and then another home game before they visit San Diego Nov 13. Weird schedule.

6) Oakland Raiders have had nine head coaches since 2002; none of them won more than 17 games.

5) Pittsburgh Steelers have had three head coaches since 1969; think about that incredible continuity they’ve had.

4) San Diego Chargers were 4-12 LY; they scored 30+ points in all four wins, were 0-12 when scoring less than 30 points.

3) 63-year old Bobby April is Tennessee’s special teams coach; Titans are his 9th NFL team. I met Coach April at the Hall of Fame game in 2001 when he worked for the Rams– good guy.

2) Football coaches are nomads: John Fox is the Bears’ head coach. Here is a chronology of his first nine years as a football coach:

1978– San Diego State
1979– US International (also in San Diego)
1980– Boise State
1981– Long Beach State
1982– Utah
1983– Kansas
1984– Iowa State
1985– LA Express of the USFL
1986– Pitt Panthers. The man must’ve been an expert at packing.

1– Don Coryell went 42-29-1 as Cardinals’ coach, from 1973-77. The next nine Cardinal coaches combined to go 216-343, before they hired 60-year old Bruce Arians, who has gone 35-16 in three years with the Redbirds. How on God’s green earth did Arians not get an NFL head coaching job until he was 60? He was a head coach at Temple, but still…….