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

We have great baseball info every day!!!! Week 6 CFL info now posted on CFL page.

Friday’s 6-pack
Odds to win the ACC football championship:
1-2— Clemson Tigers
3-1— Miami Hurricanes
7-1— Florida State Seminoles
8-1— Virginia Tech Hokies
30-1— Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
40-1— Duke, Louisville, NC State

Quote of the Day
“No question. You know, shit, it’s almost like Coach Gase is one of the guys, one of the boys, and you want to fight hard for your boys……..and back in New England it’s like you’ve got a principal in a principal’s office and shit like that. In a good way and a bad way too. Much respect to all the coaches who have given me the opportunity to play for their team.”
Danny Amendola, now a Miami Dolphin

Friday’s quiz
Which major league team’s games went over the total the most before the All-Star break? 

Thursday’s quiz
The designated hitter come to the American League in 1973. 

Wednesday’s quiz
George H. W. Bush was the last President who had only one term in office. 

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

13) Cleveland Indians acquired relievers Brad Hand, Adam Cinder from the Padres, in exchange for hitting prospect Francisco Mejia, who is a catcher/OF. Cleveland’s bullpen is a mess, so this  was necessary for the Tribe, while Yan Gomes’ resurgence made Mejia more expendable. 

12) Washington plays Auburn on September 1st; over last seven years, there have been only 11 football games between SEC/Pac-12 teams. SEC is 8-3 in those 11 games, but Pac-12 teams won both meetings last season. 

11) They experimented with a new rule at NBA Summer League; when a team got an offensive rebound, the shot clock re-set to 0:14, not 0:24. Makes sense; think that rule would have more of an impact in college than the pros. 

10) If you like to make “first 5 innings” bets on Washington Nationals games, don’t play on the Nats when Tanner Roark pitches. Washington is 3-10 in Roark’s last 13 starts, 1-12 in the first five innings of those games. 

9) Since 2013, UConn’s football team is 0-11 vs spread as a home favorite, 2-17 since 2011. 

Since 2012, UNLV’s football team is 21-8 as a road underdog. 

8) Remember when Blockbuster video stores were all over the place? There is only one left in the whole country now, in Bend, Oregon. 

7) There is a statistic in college basketball called “Minutes Continuity” which measures how much the current players have played together. I find it pretty useful. 

There are 351 Division I teams; here is UNLV’s minutes continuity the last five years: 

334-347-310-350-311. Thats almost a whole new roster every season. 

Here is Kentucky’s: 336-176-335-322-348.
Here is Duke’s: 207-266-334-180-339

Difference is, Duke/Kentucky are getting best freshmen in country, UNLV doesn’t. This year, their continuity should be a little better, and their record should improve. Last time Rebels had a winning record in the Mountain West was 2013-14. 

6) By way of comparison, Loyola of Chicago made the Final Four last year, after having their first winning conference season in 11 years. Their minutes continuity? #82. 

5) Denver Nuggets’ #1 draft pick Michael Porter Jr had another procedure done on his back last week; for a young kid, he’s had a lot of physical issues. Nuggets haven’t written off him playing this coming season, but he played only 2 or 3 games for Missouri last year. 

4) Part of the reason there was such a scramble for QB’s in April’s NFL Draft is that this year’s crop of college QB’s is expected to be especially weak. Think about it: Oklahoma’s quarterback has already signed a pro baseball contract for next year. 

Maybe things will change drastically once the games start next month, but for now, scouts are down on this year’s crop of signal callers. 

3) Stephen Curry is the only player from the ’09 NBA draft still with his original team.

2) Oklahoma City traded Carmelo Anthony and a protected ’22 1st-round pick to Atlanta for PG Dennis Schroder, Mike Muscala. Anthony will be waived and become a free agent. A team that doesn’t care about defense will sign him. 

Trade gives Oklahoma City gets huge salary and luxury tax savings, and having Schroder allows them to play Russell Westbrook off the ball for 20 or so minutes a game. 

1) 5 ways to think like a champion, from best-selling author/motivational guru Jon Gordon:
a) Champions expect to win.
b) Champions celebrate the small wins.
c) Champions don’t make excuses when they don’t win.
d) Champions focus on what they get to do, not what they have to do.
e) Champions believe they will experience more wins in the future.

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

13) San Antonio Spurs traded Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 1st-round pick.

Over the last five years, the Raptors went 263-147 in the regular season, only 21-30 in playoff games, so they fired their coach and traded their best player. We’ll see how that works out. 

12) I’m thinking managing a major league team now has to be more difficult than it used to be; back when I was a kid, guys like Sparky Anderson, Earl Weaver, Dick Williams were big names who unquestionably ran their teams- that doesn’t exist anymore. 

Front office/analytics types run the show on most teams now; managers with strong personalities don’t get hired as much or don’t keep their jobs— see Joe Girardi. 

Managers, by the very nature of their jobs, dictate the tone of their teams, but they dictate less and less of their team’s tactics and roster management, but they still have to answer to the press, which can’t be a lot of fun. 

11) On July 17, 1963, Braves-Giants played a game in San Francisco, Spahn vs Marichal, two Hall of Fame pitchers. 

Game was scoreless into the 16th inning with both pitchers going whole way, when Willie Mays ended it with a solo-homer off Spahn. Marichal threw 227 pitches and Spahn threw 201.

If that happened today, both managers would’ve been fired after the game. 

10) One of the coolest nights I’ve spent in Las Vegas was during this week back in 2015, late on a Wednesday night. 

Diamondbacks game in Phoenix went 14 or 15 innings, ran very late; at same time, live coverage from the BBC or some channel in England had live first round coverage of the British Open on, so you could watch live action on TV’s next to each other, one on Wednesday night, the other Thursday morning. It was oddly fun.

9) All nine people who made the final table at the World Series of Poker made $1M+; the winner got $8.8M, runner-up got $5M— no wonder he was smiling in the pictures afterwards. 

8) They had another poker tournament that ran Sunday-Tuesday, 27 people entered with a buy-in of $1M. Top 5 cashed, the other 22 had to explain to their wives why they blew $1M to play cards for a couple nights. 

Guy who won took home $10M and he was losing for most of the heads-up period. 

7) Golfer Hideki Matsuyama finished in the top-20 in each of the last seven majors and 11 of the last 14.

6) From gambling expert Bill Krackomberger, talking about the start of legalized sports betting in New Jersey: 

“…….of the $15.4 million wagered, the casinos/state won just under $3.5 million in 16 days. That is a hold percentage of over 22%. In relation, Nevada’s hold for 2017 was 5.1%.”

KL Wheat reported in from New Jersey Wednesday:

“…….went to bet Ricky Fowler at 17-1 on board, went to bet 10 seconds later, it was 12-1.” That was at Monmouth— he got 16-1 on Fowler at Borgata. 

5) Back in 1983, Donald Trump could’ve bought the Dallas Cowboys for $50M but passed; now they’re worth $4.8B.  Thats billion, with a B. 

4) Of the eight guys in Home Run Derby this year, only Harper/Freeman are making more than $660,000 this season. MLB needs more established stars to do Home Run Derby. 

3) One really cool thing about the derby this year is that the two finalists both had unusual guys throwing to them. Had to be a ton of pressure on these guys to throw hittable pitches. 

Bruce Harper had his dad throwing to him, which is great- Robinson Cano’s dad threw to him a few years ago, and Kyle Schwarber’s buddy threw to him- the graphic actually said under the guy’s name “Kyle’s friend”

2) Apparently, Juwan Howard holds an NBA record he had 236 different teammates during his long playing career. Vince Carter could break that record this year if he plays; he’s had 228 different teammates in his career. 

1) Imagine being A’s reliever Blake Treinen Tuesday night; run out of Washington last summer, exiled to Oakland because he was having a bad year (5.73 ERA in 37.2 IP).

Now he has 24 saves for an Oakland team that is a surprise contender in the AL Wild Card race, and he has been awesome. He comes back to Washington a year after they ran him out of town and he is a freakin’ All-Star. That had to be tremendous. 

Wednesday’s List of 13: My favorite sports-related movies

1) Moneyball— Beginning isn’t very good, the end sucks, but I’m an A’s fan and this movie is about how the 2003 A’s put together a team that won 20 games in a row, made the playoffs. 

If the next ten weeks go really well, could Moneyball 2 be in the works? 

Only really bad thing about this movie is they made skipper Art Howe look like a bad manager, and he was anything but— you don’t win 20 games in a row by accident. 

2) Blue Chips— Nick Nolte is a college basketball coach who used to win a lot; in order to start winning again, he has to decide whether to break the recruiting rules or not. 

Bob Cousy is the AD; Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway are two of the recruits. Lot of cameos from basketball people; Jerry Tarkanian, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, Dick Vitale. 

3) Invincible— True story about Vince Papale, a 30-year old bartender who tries out for the 1976 Philadelphia Eagles and makes the squad as a special teams player. 

4) Fast Break— Gabe Kaplan manages a New York City deli until he applies for a job as a college basketball coach in Nevada. Bernard King, Michael Warren are two of his players; another one is a girl disguised as a guy. 

5) Any Given Sunday— Al Pacino is a pro football coach whose team is struggling; Cameron Diaz is the owner, Dennis Quaid, Jamie Foxx are two of the QB’s. 

Miami Sharks play against four teams in the movie, all coached by NFL Hall of Famers. 

6) For Love of the Game— Kevin Costner is a star pitcher for the Tigers who is at the end of his career; he has flashbacks throughout his last game. 

Detroit’s manager in this movie is JK Simmons, who is a Tigers fan in real life; New York’s manager is the late Augie Garrido, one of the all-time great college baseball coaches. 

7) Friday Night Lights— Billy Bob Thornton is a high school football coach in west Texas, where they take high school football very seriously. 

8) One on One— Robby Benson is a hotshot high school basketball player who gets recruited by a big-time college team, then finds himself in over his head.

9) Bull Durham— Costner is a minor league catcher who is brought in to mentor a hot-shot pitching prospect. Robert Wuhl is the pitching coach, Susan Sarandon mentors the prospect off the field. 

10) Draft Day— Costner does lot of sports movies; he is GM of the Cleveland Browns in this one, Denis Leary is the Browns’ coach. 

The year this movie came out, NFL pushed back the draft so the movie could be promoted more, but Radio City Music Hall wasn’t available for the later date, which is why they started moving the draft around the country. Sometimes great ideas happen by accident. 

11) Major League— Bob Uecker should’ve won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Indians’ radio announcer Harry Doyle.  

12) He Got Game— Underrated film about college basketball recruiting; if you saw this movie, you weren’t surprised by the problems Louisville had the last couple years. 

13) Rocky— The original was a true classic; a journeyman boxer gets a chance to fight for the heavyweight title, and makes the most of it. 40 years later, tourists who come to Philadelphia still pose for pictures near the Rocky statue. 

Tuesday’s List of 13: Some of my favorite (non-sports) movies:

1) Rounders— Movie about a law student/poker player; this movie is credited with helping the poker boom in the late 90’s. 

2) Dave— Kevin Kline is hired to “stand-in” for the President because he looks just like him, but then the President has a stroke, and Kline has a new job. 

3) The Bodyguard— Kevin Costner is a former Secret Service agent hired to protect a famous singer, who has a contract out on her. 

4) Last Vegas— Four senior citizens who are lifelong friends head to Las Vegas for a bachelor party; their 70-year old friend is marrying a 30-year old. Morgan Freeman wins $87K playing blackjack, because, doesn’t everyone win in Vegas? 

5) Begin Again— Down and out music producer discovers a talented young singer; together they produce an album, using New York City as the background. 

6) Good Will Hunting— Robin Williams is a counselor who tries to help a young delinquent (who is also a Math genius) find his way. 

7) The Verdict— Paul Newman is a down-on-his-luck lawyer who has a chance to win a big case and rehabilitate his career. 

There is a scene in this movie that would never fly today; Newman’s character has a girlfriend in the movie- turns out she is a double-agent, working for the opposing lawyer to gain intel on the big case. 

When Newman finds out, he meets the girlfriend in the lounge of a bar and decks her with one punch. Ouch. 

8) Leap of Faith— Steve Martin runs amok as a traveling preacher; Debra Winger is his partner, Liam Neeson is the local sheriff trying to shut his act down. Meat Loaf is part of the music group that travels with the preacher. 

9) Let It Ride— Richard Dreyfuss is a degenerate gambler who has one big day at the racetrack. 

10) This Is Where I Leave You— After their father dies, four grown siblings return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week. 

11) Lincoln Lawyer— Matthew McConaughey plays a lawyer whose office is the back seat of his Lincoln Continental. 

12) Prince of Tides— Nick Nolte is a high school football coach from South Carolina who travels to New York and falls for his sister’s therapist (Barbra Streisand). 

13) One More Time— Christopher Walken is a past-his-prime lounge singer trying for one last comeback.

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

13) 7,874 players entered the Main Event at World Series of Poker; first prize was $8.8M, and the last two guys played heads-up for 10.5 hours and 199 hands before a winner was decided. I tried to stay up for the whole thing, but eventually, I came to my senses. 

12) Around 4:40am, ESPN’s hole card camera went down; without that, watching poker on TV is like watching paint dry, but it came back on after a few hands. Analyst Antonio Esfandiari had to leave in the middle because he was playing in a $1M buy-in tournament on Sunday and needed his rest. I wasn’t involved in any million dollar stuff, so I stayed up for a while and watched. 

11) At 5:05 am, one of the players, who was wearing a Tim Tebow Florida jersey, was doing jumping jacks during a commercial. He had a Russell Wilson Seahawks jersey on the other night, which made me want to root against him. He finished second, and won $5M, so they were actually playing for $3.8M and the gold bracelet. 

10) They were advertising a pay site where you could watch poker tournament 100 days a year. Do other poker players watch these tournaments to scout opponents or to learn stuff? Why else would you pay to watch poker tournaments? 

9) Home Run Derby used to be a daytime thing; they had no idea what they had. On the other hand, has the popularity of Home Run Derby hurt the actual All-Star Game? 

8) Judge-Trout-Stanton skipping out on HR Derby reminds me of when the NBA had this great 1-on-1 contest for two years in the early 70’s— it was awesome, until Julius Erving’s agent would not let him play, figuring he had nothing to gain by participating. 

Dr J’s skipping the event pretty much put the kibosh on it, which was too bad, since it was great theater. Portland’s Larry Steele made the Final Four of the tournament one year; good for him, but no one was turning on their TV to watch Larry freakin’ Steele play 1-on-1. 

(No offense to Larry Steele, but you get the point)

The games were to 20, had to win by more than 2 points, I think. May not have this 100% right, but pretty sure Bob Lanier, a 6-11 lefty center won a game 50-46, I think over Connie Hawkins, who was a similar player to Giannis Antetokounmpo in today’s game. 

ESPN Classic should run those games back; pretty sure they were on ABC. 

7) Could you imagine a Westbrook-Durant matchup in a 1-on-1 tournament on national TV? How great would that be? 

7) Tampa Bay C Wilson Ramos tweaked his hamstring Saturday and is likely headed to the DL. Salvador Perez is now the AL starter behind the plate. 

5) If you’re the St Louis Cardinals, how do you not hire Joe Girardi as manager, unless you acknowledge that today’s ballplayers are so soft that you have to hire a manager who doesn’t criticize players as much as they sometimes need to be criticized? 

4) Miami pitcher Jose Urena put his glove over his mouth during a mound conference during Sunday’s game, which made me think: Are there bilingual lip readers? 

3) I’m going to run a couple of lists during the All-Star break about my favorite movies; I’m a big fan of John Grisham’s books, but none of those movies made my non-sports movie list, so I’ll point out here that my two favorite Grisham movies are Runaway Jury and the Pelican Brief. 

2) Mets TV guy Gary Cohen was openly questioning Sunday why Jose Reyes is playing every day; you don’t get a lot of stuff like that on local TV broadcasts. Honesty. 

Speaking of the Mets, my friend Bob reports that Michael Conforto’s career batting average in Met wins in .328, in Met losses .176. Of the 3,300 players with 500+ plate appearances since 1900, that is the widest difference in batting average between wins and losses. 

1) Always wanted to research this, but never have; the %age of first-pitch swings the day before the All-Star break, as opposed to all the other days. You know guys have their bags packed for their 4-day vacations. Umpires, too. 

Sunday’s List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind……..

13) No Sunday Night Baseball this week on ESPN? They have a freakin’ softball game on ESPN at 8:00 Sunday night. How about baseball/ESPN actually trying to promote the sport and put the Futures’ Game on Sunday night? You know, the stars of the future?

12) Does baseball need more 8-foot high outfield fences? Spectacular catches like the one Billy Hamilton made in St Louis Friday night make for great highlights.

11) Matt Harvey is 4-1, 2.38 in his last six starts; can the Reds get anything for him at the trading deadline? 

10) Mookie Betts is first player with two triples and two runs scored in first two innings of a game since September 23, 1995, when Lance Johnson did it for the White Sox against Minnesota.

9) Mets’ manager Mickey Callaway talked with Dom Smith Saturday; there is concern that Smith has lost focus because he is worrying about getting demoted back to AAA. The Mets are a mess. 

8) Players receive a total of $1,500 in meal money during the 12-day Las Vegas Summer League; each player has his own room in a 5-star hotel, and gets a free plane ticket to anywhere in the country when the tournament is finished. 

7) Notre Dame alum Jack Cooley is playing in the Las Vegas Summer League for the 6th year in a row; he played in his 32nd summer league game Friday, tying the all-time record (Dionte Christmas). 

Cooley has played in 23 NBA games, seven with San Antonio LY. 

6) Zac Rosscup will be the 27th different pitcher used by the Dodgers this season, and it is only the All-Star break; their team record is 31, set in 2015, ’16. 

5) Quote of the Day, part 2, from Celtics’ Jaylen Brown:
“I think if you can serve in the military at 18, you should be able to play in the NBA. That would be my argument.”

Alrighty then. 

4) NBA doings:
— Georges Niang signed a three-year, $5M contract with Utah Jazz that contains a first-year guarantee.
— Jabari Parker signs with the Chicago Bulls, a two-year, $40M deal. In his 4-year NBA career, Parker has missed 145 of 328 games due to injuries. 

3) Former Wisconsin/Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is now a defensive assistant coach with the Patriots. New England lost DC Matt Patricia to the Lions last winter. 

2) Oakland A’s gave their first-round draft pick Kyler Murray a $4.6M signing bonus; Murray will be Oklahoma’s QB this fall, before starting his baseball career. 

Murray’s coach at Oklahoma is Lincoln Riley; he makes $4.8M a year. 

1) FBI informed Maryland officials that the state’s voter registration, election management system operate on a software platform owned by a Russian-financed firm, AltPoint Capital Partners, whose largest investor is a Russian oligarch, Vladimir Potanin.

Nothing to worry about there. 

Saturday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here…….

13) In 2012, Kansas City Chiefs went 2-12; they were -24 in turnovers, so they fired coach Romeo Crennel and hired Andy Reid. 

In five years since, Chiefs have been +18/-3/+14/+16/+15 in turnovers, and are 53-27. 

12) Alex Smith was KC’s QB in all five of those years, but now he is in Washington and the new QB is Patrick Mahomes, who started in Week 17 LY, throwing for 284 yards in a 27-24 win in Denver. It was his first NFL start. 

My question in this; can the Chiefs maintain a positive turnover ratio in double digits despite playing a first-time starting QB? They almost have to turn the ball over more this season, given the normal learning curve for a young QB.

11) From 2000-16, 77 NFL teams were +10 or better in turnovers; of those 77 teams, 58 had worse records the following season, 8 had better records, 11 stayed the same, which suggests that a hugely positive turnover ratio gave the team some luck that is tough to sustain. 

35 of the 58 teams whose record regressed won 3+ fewer games the following season. 

10) Last year, six NFL teams had a turnover ratio of +10 or better: Ravens +17, Chiefs +15, Chargers +12, Eagles +11, Lions/Jaguars +10. 

9) From 2000-16, 92 NFL teams were -10 or worse in turnovers; of those 92 teams, 61 had better records the next year, 21 had worse records, 10 stayed the same. 

41 of the 61 teams whose records improved won 3+ more gams the following season. 

8) Last year, five NFL teams had a turnover ratio of -10 or worse: Browns -28, Broncos -17, Dolphins/Raiders -14, Texans -12.

7) Going back to the Ravens’ +17 turnover ratio LY, it was the best turnover ratio in the NFL since the ’15 Panthers were +20, but Baltimore missed the playoffs!!!! How are you +17 in turnovers and not a playoff team? It may help explain why they drafted Lamar Jackson.

6) Sounds like kids will be able to go right from high school to the NBA starting in 2022, which means NBA teams should start scouting 9th graders this winter. 

5) Jimmy Butler turned down the Timberwolves’ offer of a 4-year, $110M extension, which suggests “Why does Minnesota have a team if their best player won’t take $27.5M a year to play there?” How can the Wolves ever be any good? 

4) Chase Utley announced that he’ll retire after this season; the entire Dodger team was at his announcement, a signal of how well-respected he is by teammates. 

Utley has solid career numbers; is he a Hall of Famer? I think it is debatable- there were some former ballplayers on Twitter Friday saying he is a no-brainer yes. I’m not so sure— if Jeff Kent isn’t in, why should Utley be in? 

3) Atlanta Hawks traded for G Jeremy Lin, who tore his patellar tendon on opening night last season, forcing him to miss the entire year. Lin averaged 14.5 ppg, 5.1 apg and 1.2 steals/game in 2016-17, his first year with Brooklyn.

Nets also acquired Kenneth Faried from Denver, who is owed $13.8M next season, Darrell Arthur, a top-12 protected 2019 first-round pick and a future 2nd-round pick in for Isaiah Whitehead. 

The move saves Denver $21M and keeps them from paying the luxury tax. Whitehead will get waived by the Nuggets and become a free agent.

2) Phoenix Suns were 8-1 betting favorites to win the Las Vegas Summer League; they lost their first tournament game, 88-86 to the 76ers. So much for that. 

I’m not uncertain that wagering on the summer league is a bad idea.

1) From hoopshype.com, an interesting story about and NBA player and agents:

“I have one really messed-up story involving my agent. When I was an unrestricted free agent, I was hoping to join this one team that really liked me and my agent seemed optimistic that we could figure out a deal. I really wanted to go there; it seemed great and it checked all the boxes that I wanted. 

I wasn’t too involved in the talks, my agent just kept updating me every now and then on what was happening. Well, I ended up getting word from someone in the organization that my agent was trying use me to get more money for another one of his clients, who was already on that team. He was telling the team to re-sign his other client at a certain amount and saying they would also be able to sign me at a discount. 

I was furious when I found out. I fired my agent and, for some time after that incident, I had a really hard time trusting agents who wanted to step in and represent me.”

Lot of agents are weasels.

Friday’s List of 13: Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!!!

13) Oakland A’s are 19-5 in their last 24 games, going 5-2 on this Cleveland/Houston road trip that just ended- they’re a contender for the Wild Card right now. A’s next six games are a pair of three-game series with their cross-bay rivals, the Giants. Interesting times. 

12) Former NBA star Charles Oakley was arrested Sunday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Agents at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. 

TMZ reported that he is suspected of pulling back a $100 chip after he realized he was going to lose his wager; that is a Class B felony. Not good. 

11) Milwaukee’s Jesus Aguilar, Seattle’s Juan Segura won the Final Vote and will be in Washington for next week’s All-Star Game. 

Milwaukee is the smallest market in the major leagues; good for their fans for voting one of their guys into the Mid-Summer Classic. 

10) Will Yoenis Cespedes return to the Mets as a first baseman? There are reports on the Interweb that Cespedes has suggested the position change to Mets brass. 

Cespedes hasn’t played since May 13, by the way. People have come back from broken legs faster than this guy, and I’m not a Met fan nor is he on my fantasy team. 

9) Mets have had nine games this season that were 0-0 after five innings; five of the nine were Jacob deGrom starts. 

8) There are rumors the Manny Machado trade may be delayed util after the All-Star Game because Orioles’ brass doesn’t want Machado playing in the All-Star Game in Washington next week wearing another team’s uniform, which would also leave the Orioles without an All-Star. 

7) Baseball oddity: Babe Ruth started his career as a pitcher for the Red Sox; the night he got his first win as a pitcher, he was actually pinch-hit for in the 7th inning. 

Wonder how many times he was pinch-hit for in his entire career? 

6) Arizona OF Daniel Descalso pitched in the 4th inning Wednesday night in Denver, the earliest any position player has pitched in a game since the Brewers’ Sal Bando on August 29, 1979 (also the 4th inning). 

Descalso allowed a HR to Rockies pitcher German Marquez. It’s just the 2nd time in the last 50 years that a pitcher homered off a position player. 

The other: June 23, 1986 – Giants’ Mike LaCoss homered off San Diego’s Dane Iorg.

5) Alex Bregman is only American Leaguer in Home Run Derby Monday night; unusual. MLB cannot be very happy that Trout, Judge, Stanton, Goldschmidt are not participating. 

4) There’s a sportsbook opening Saturday at Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, next to Giants Stadium. Maybe the jackass politicians in New York can figure out a way to have legalized wagering in our state- why was New Jersey so far ahead of them????

3) Baseball doings:
— Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers goes on DL with left shoulder inflammation.
— Angels’ P Garrett Richards (elbow) hopes to return in 2020.
— Twins put 1B Logan Morrison (hip) on the DL

2) FOX is apparently in negotiations with Jeff Fisher to hire the former Titans/Rams coach as an NFL commentator. You never know how good guys will be behind the mike, but I’ll be curious to hear what he has to say. 

1) Even a former White House stenographer named Beck Dorey-Stein has written a book about her time working in the White House. The current political climate has been good for bookstores, if not for the rest of us.  

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

13) You look at the benches in the NBA Summer League and you see two rows of coaches, maybe 8-9 coaches for each team. NBA teams spend lot of money on player development, which is more important now because players come into the league younger than ever before.  

One of the first books I remember reading was The Open Man, Dave DeBusschere’s diary of the Knicks’ 1969-70 title team. For a 12-year old kid who was falling in love with basketball, I went thru that book pretty quickly. 

One thing that stands out now was that coach Red Holzman had NO ASSISTANT COACHES; Dick McGuire was his advance scout and trainer Danny Whalen kept track of timeouts and served as an assistant coach of sorts, but Holzman did all the actual coaching. 

The game has changed drastically in that regard. 

12) George Karl’s son Coby is on the Lakers’ bench coaching during summer league; he is also the all-time leading scorer in Las Vegas Summer League history, with 337 points. Archie Goodwin is next, at 318 points.

11) Miami Marlins were 23-42 on June 10, but since then, they’re 16-14, hanging in there and hitting the ball well- they had 22 hits in a game in Washington Sunday. Don Mattingly has done a fine job keeping a talent-shy roster competitive in games. 

10) Cincinnati Bengals may have seen one of the errors of their ways; they were 31st last year in $$$ spent on their offensive line, letting LT Andrew Whitworth bolt to the Rams. 

Bengals are now 22nd in OL spending for this coming season; they hope it results in a QB who gets hit a lot less this season. 

9) San Diego Padres lost their last 13 games against Clayton Kershaw, scoring a total of 12 runs off Kershaw in those 13 games.

8) An unnamed AL scout after watching the Kansas City Royals recently: 

“I think someone will bite on Lucas Duda as a lefty bat off the bench. They won’t get enough for Duffy or Merrifield to move them. They’ll definitely move Moustakas and he will help someone. Won’t get the big return. Doesn’t happen anymore.”

7) Houston Astros’ contract situation in the near future:
— Verlander, $28M a year thru 2019 (Detroit is paying $8M of that)
— McCann, $17M with an option after this year (NYY is paying $5.5M of that)
— Keuchel, $13.2M, free agent this season
— Reddick, $13M a year thru 2020 (yikes)
— Gurriel, $12.4M this year, $10.4M in ’19, $8.4M in ’20.
— Altuve, $9M this year and next, then a $29M/year deal kicks in
— Morton $7M, free agent after this season
— Cole $6.75M, arbitration this winter, then free agent after 2019.
— Carlos Correa isn’t a free agent until after 2021
— Alex Bregman isn’t a free agent until after 2022

Astros have some serious decisions to make about their starting pitchers this winter; their young position players are going to keep Houston strong for a long time. 

6) When the Indians blew a 4-0 ninth inning lead in a 7-4 to the Reds Tuesday, it was in large part the manager’s fault. Terry Francona told pitching coach Carl Willis to get “OP” up in the bullpen, he meant Oliver Perez, but Willis thought he said “OT” meaning Dan Otero, so Willis told the bullpen coach to get Otero warmed up. 

Few minutes later, Francona went to the mound, waved to the bullpen for a pitching change and was surprised to see Otero come to the mound instead of Perez. Whoops. 

5) Baseball doings:
— Indians’ OF Lonnie Chisenhall (calf) is out 8-10 weeks.

4) Injury-plagued Duke alum Harry Giles, who Sacramento drafted in 2017 despite having two ACL injuries before getting to the NBA, has played 23.3 mpg in his first three summer league games this month, scoring 12 ppg, grabbing 7.5 rpg. 

3) There are 19 Kansas Jayhawk alums playing in Las Vegas this week. 

2) There is guy named Chris Majkowski who is a radio engineer for Mets’ games and he has worked 4,011 consecutive games, dating back to 1993- imagine not missing one day of work for 25 years? Majkowski threw out the first pitch before the Mets’ game Wednesday. 

1) Astros’ closer Ken Giles blew a 9th-inning lead Tuesday, appeared to curse out manager AJ Hinch when he was removed from the game, then was sent to AAA today. Alrighty then.

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

13) Six NFL teams improved their win total by 4+ games last year. 

Over the last 19 years, 104 teams have done that; of the 98 before last year, they mostly regressed in the third year, winning an average of 2.45 less games per season. 70 of those 98 teams won fewer games than they did in the second year, when they improved. 

12) On the other hand, over those same 19 years, 104 teams have won 4+ fewer games than they did the year before, and strange as it may seem, in that third year, the 96 teams prior to LY improved by the same 2.45 wins per team that the above teams regressed by. Go figure. 

11) This is one story of how difficult it is to make an NBA roster. 

Kid named Isaiah Briscoe is on Orlando’s summer league team in Las Vegas; he played two years at Kentucky, scoring 9.6 ppg as a freshman, 12.1 as a sophomore, at which point he declared for the NBA, but he wasn’t drafted- doesn’t shoot the ball well enough. 

Briscoe played for the 76ers’ Summer League team LY, went to training camp with the Trailblazers, but got cut— he wound up playing pro ball in Russia last winter, and did well there, scoring 18 ppg. 

10) Can you imagine what it is like to be a 21-year old kid who was treated like a God for two years at Kentucky, then spending last year as an anonymous American playing in Russia? 

Talk about a humbling experience; I’m sure he made decent bank over there, but it ain’t the NBA and you’re in freakin’ Russia. 

Briscoe had nine points in 24:00 vs Memphis Sunday, played three scoreless minutes against the Suns Monday. Orlando is a rebuilding team, but it could be back to Russia or some other foreign country for Briscoe- where else can a 22-year old with no college degree make a six-figure salary? 

9) G-League players make around $35,000, except for the two 2-way players each team can have, who make anywhere from $75K to $275K a year. 

The competition for these NBA roster spots is really, really fierce. 

8) USC is a football underdog twice this September; Trojans are +4 at Stanford September 8, and +4.5 at Texas Sept 15. 

Going back to 2016, USC will have been an underdog in five of its last 12 September games, and that is a little surprising.

7) fanatics.com has orders for Lebron James #23 Laker jerseys from all 50 states and 90 different countries.

6) Rookie pitcher Corey Oswalt allowed one hit in six innings for the Mets Monday night, but the one hit he allowed was a bases loaded double to the opposing pitcher Aaron Nola, who was 9 for 136 hitting in his major league career. 

5) Buster Posey has a problem with hip inflammation, will miss the All-Star Game; Yadier Molina takes his place on the NL roster. 

4) Sacramento Kings’ top draft pick Marvin Bagley III is out for the rest of Summer League with a pelvic bone bruise. Bagley is still a kid, won’t turn 20 until next March. Takes some time for these young players to mature physically so they can compete with adults. 

3) Royals’ 2B Whit Merrifield found out just before Sunday’s game that he wouldn’t be an All-Star; he went out and got five hits against the Red Sox. 

Merrifield is hitting .303 this year with a .371 OB% and is now mentioned in trade rumors to lot of contending teams. He is also versatile, playing in both infield and outfield. 

With Gleyber Torres hurt, Jed Lowrie was named to the AL team at 2B. 

2) Reds 7, Indians 4— Cleveland led this game 4-0 in 9th inning; their bullpen has worst ERA in the major leagues, which suggests they’ll be making a trade or two for a reliever this month. 

1) Congrats to the workers who rescued the 12 soccer players and their coach from the flooded caves in Thailand. Great work by those Navy SEALS. 

Tuesday’s Den: Random comments, thoughts, questions

13) Is the famous cook Wolfgang Puck a hockey fan? 

12) What is the point of batting the pitcher 8th? Still don’t get it, and no one has done it in a playoff game, so that tells me it is just a gimmick.

11) Wouldn’t geographic re-alignment help baseball by creating more games between rivals and reducing travel costs? 

If the All-Star Game was US against the World, it would be a lot more spirited. 

10) An actor named John Hurt passed away last year, at age 77; he appeared in 207 movies, and died in 43 of them, which is the record for the actor whose character died in the most movies. 

9) I don’t think set-up men should make the All-Star Game; if you’re not a starter or not the team’s closer, then you’re not one of the six best pitchers on your team, so no All-Star Game for you. 

An exception is Milwaukee’s Josh Hader; their front office is misusing Hader so badly— he’s thrown only 44.2 innings all season, when he should be starting games, not pitching in the 6th and 7th inning only. 

If Milwaukee gets nosed out of a playoff berth, that’ll be a big reason why. 

8) Mets sent TV analyst Keith Hernandez out to a wiffle ball field in centerfield for an inning or two during the first game of last night’s twinbill, to tutor little kids on hitting balls off a tee. 

You know your team is bad when watching a 5-year old whack wiffle balls is a diversion from the actual game you’re broadcasting. 

7) A former Goldman Sachs banker is in talks with U.S. prosecutors to potentially plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from an alleged scheme to steal billions of dollars from a Malaysian state investment fund. 

Is there no end to the corruption in this world? It is sad. 

6) There was once an NHL player named Miroslav Satan who played 15 years in the NHL, playing for five different teams, scoring 224 goals. How could someone named Satan never play for the Devils? 

5) I’m curious how many actors have played the President of the US in movies/TV. 

4) Do NASCAR drivers get a lot of speeding tickets when they’re driving in normal traffic? 

3) I was curious about guys who are in the Las Vegas Summer League, are they responsible for their own sneakers, if they’re guys without shoe contracts? 

Was told by someone who knows that established NBA players send sneakers to guys on their team who might need them, and that player agents might also provide some to clients. 

2) Baseball doings:
— Mets put Todd Frazier (ribs) on the DL.
— Marlins’ C JT Realmuto is on the paternity list.
— Dodgers put OF Yasiel Puig (oblique) on the DL. 

1) Former NBA star Yao Ming got his degree this weekend from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China; he first enrolled in 2011. The 38-year old Ming majored in Economics. 

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

13) How the bleep is Blake Snell not on the AL All-Star team?!?!?!?!

Snell is a lefty pitcher; he is 12-4, 2.09 with a 1.03 WHIP. Hitters are batting .183 against him— he’s the best pitcher in the damn league, but HE ISN’T ON THE DAMN ALL-STAR TEAM!!!!

If Snell pitched for a team in NY or Boston, they’d be preparing his plaque for Cooperstown already (see Matt Harvey), but he’s on the Rays, so screw him. 

12) Well guess what, Tampa Bay is 46-44, they can have more than one guy on the All-Star team. Wilson Ramos is the best hitting catcher in the AL, and Snell is the best pitcher. Not having him on the All-Star team is an embarrassment— he belongs on before any of the closers. 

11) Mark Reynolds’ line in the boxscore Saturday night: 5-3-5-10

5 for 5, three runs scored, 10 runs knocked in. One game. 

Reynolds was a free agent until April 17; anyone could’ve had him. 

In his last 17 games, Jose Abreu is 10-57 wth 3 runs scored and 8 RBI; he made somehow made the freakin’ All-Star team. 

10) Charlotte, Chicago and Orlando pulled off a 3-way trade in the NBA: Timofey Mozgov will be sent from Charlotte to Orlando in exchange for Bismack Biyombo. Charlotte will also be sending Julyan Stone to the Bulls while Chicago sends Jerian Grant to Orlando.

9) Arizona led the Padres 15-4 in the 5th inning Saturday, and the D’Backs take Robbie Ray out with a man on base and one out. Starting pitcher has to finish five innings to get the win; Ray threw 96 pitches in his second start back from injury- he couldn’t have been very happy. 

8) David Price’s last 11 hitters in Kansas City Saturday night; six strikeouts, two hits allowed, three hit batters, all in the same inning. No Boston pitcher had ever hit three batters in the same inning before. 

7) Padres’ TV guys were saying Saturday night how the new humidor at Chase Field in Phoenix has helped reduce scoring. Luckily, no Diamondback hitters are on my fantasy team. 

6) White Sox TV guys were talking Friday night about how the hitting background at Minute Maid Park in Houston is one of the smallest in the major leagues, and how batters struggle picking up the flight of the ball, moreso from lefty pitchers.  

The hitting background became smaller once Tal’s Hill in centerfield was removed, and they put more of a seating area out over the CF fence. 

5) They had a food drive to combat hunger at the CFL game in Winnipeg this weekend, and Blue Bomber fans donated over 90,000 pounds of food. Good for them!!!

4) Baseball doings:
— Red Sox C Christian Vazquez broke his right little finger sliding Saturday, is on the DL.
— Giants traded OF Austin Jackson, reliever Cory Gearrin and a minor leaguer to Texas for a player to be named later or cash.
— Wil Myers hit three homers Saturday and San Diego still lost by 15 runs. 

3) NBA stuff:
— There are 19 players in the Las Vegas Summer League who are 28+ years old.
— Zaza Pachulia signed a one-year, $2.4M contract with the Pistons.
— Brook Lopez agreed to a one-year, $3.4M deal with the Bucks.
— Dante Exum signed a 3-year, $33M extension with the Jazz. 

2) I thought this was the age of baseball analytics?
— Baltimore has Tim Beckham (.306 career OB%) batting leadoff.
— San Diego has Manuel Margot (.303 career OB%) batting leadoff.
— Angels have Kole Calhoun (.321 career OB%, .221 this year) batting leadoff.
— Tampa Bay has Kevin Keirmaier (batting .147) hitting leadoff. 

Would it be too much to ask to have one of your best on-base guys batting first?

This is where I mention that it bothers me that Joey Votto doesn’t bat leadoff for Cincinnati. At least Billy Hamilton doesn’t either; they settled on Scott Schebler, most of the time.

1) If Wendell Carter Jr becomes a really good NBA player and becomes really, really rich, will his mother keep bitching about Mike Krzyzewski recruiting other good players beside her son to play for his Duke team? 

At some point, will she thank her son’s college coach for helping to prepare him for the NBA? If not, the least she could do is clam up and have some class.

Sunday’s List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind……..

13) It is possible that I watch too much TV; wore out my damn remote control. Seriously. 

The 0 and the 4 buttons don’t work anymore; DirecTV sent me a new one, which better get here pretty soon. 

12) Colts’ QB Andrew Luck lost his wallet recently; a guy found it, and returned it to Colts’ HQ, without taking anything out of it. Honorable guy. 

For his honesty, Luck gave the guy a signed football; throwing in some game tickets or a signed jersey/helmet might’ve been good, too. Everyone is happy, which is the main thing. 

11) NBA Summer League in Las Vegas is very popular; the first game of the day is usually in the girls’ gym, Cox Pavilion, and it always almost full for the first game. 

Once the day gets started, they’ll have two games going at once; the best move, if you don’t care which game you’re watching, is to walk down the hall to the Thomas & Mack Center and stretch out in the big arena— lot more room, and closer to the concession stands, which are pretty good. 

10) Did I mention it was supposed to be 110 degrees in Las Vegas Friday? So for $38 or so, you get solid entertainment all day while staying cool. Cheaper than playing video poker all day. 

9) I’ve told this story here before, but few years ago, I’m sitting in Cox Pavilion by myself watching the summer league, listening to conversations around me. For a solid hour, not one of the conversations were in English. 

GM’s from basketball leagues all over the world are in Las Vegas, looking for players to help their teams next season. Once spent an hour talking to an agent whose clients were all players who played overseas. Guys still make six figures playing ball internationally. 

8) Indiana Pacers lost their summer league opener 92-89 to Houston Friday; they were 19-33 on the foul line; you wonder why Doug McDermott makes $7M a year? Shooters are always welcome.

7) This is going to look strange; Tony Parker signed a 2-year, $10M deal to go to the Charlotte Hornets. Parker played for San Antonio the last 17 seasons.

Dwight Howard was bought out by the Nets, signs a 2-year, $11M deal with the Wizards. 

Zach LaVine signed a 4-year, $78M offer sheet with Sacramento- Bulls matched it. 

6) Guy that owns the NHL’s Florida Panthers is selling his NYC mansion for a mere $88M, thats million, with an M. Place looks more like a museum than a house.

5) There is a grocery store on East Flamingo Rd in Las Vegas, Smith’s Food King, with a bar inside it. This is an excellent idea. Wife shops, husband drinks, marriages are happier. 

4) Orlando Magic’s summer league team had five practices in three days before the summer league began; they’ll practice once a day on their off-days until summer league is over. 

3) University of Houston hired Robert Boudwin as assistant AD for marketing and event presentation; he spent two decades as the Houston Rockets’ mascot  “Clutch the Bear”

2) This makes no sense; major league base coaches have to wear batting helmets on the field, but watch when a team has a runner on 2nd base- the third base coach will stand halfway between home and third, to get a better angle on a ball hit to the outfield. 

This is totally unsafe; the third base coach shouldn’t be allowed to be closer to home plate than the coaches’ box. I mean, if you care about safety and all. 

1) Bartolo Colon and Jamie Moyer are only pitchers in MLB history to allow a home run to 300 different players; this week James McCann became the 300th player to homer off Colon. 

Saturday’s List of 13: NFL knowledge for a summer Saturday

13) Seven new head coaches in the NFL this coming season, 17 new offensive coordinators— over half the teams in the NFL changed OC’s after last year. 13 teams have new defensive coordinators. 

12) There are only three offensive coordinators in the NFL who’ve been in that job with the same team for more than three years; Scott Linehan (Dallas), Pete Carmichael (NO, though Sean Payton is the real OC there) and Josh McDaniels (NE). 

Only six defensive coordinators have been in their current job with the same team for 4+ years. 

11) Pete Carroll is going into his 9th season in Seattle, but he’ll have two new coordinators this season; Mike McCarthy has been in Green Bay for a dozen years, but he’ll have two new coordinators this season, too.

10) Over was 13-3 in Falcon games in 2016, 2-13-1 last year. Over is 21-11 in Washington games the last two years. 

9) Baltimore Ravens went 9-7 LY, missing playoffs for 3rd year in row when their defense gagged at end of a 31-27 home loss to Cincinnati in Week 17, giving up a 49-yard TD pass in the last minute. 

When an NFL team is +17 in turnovers, +14 in sacks, scores eight TD’s on defense/special teams (T1 in NFL) and doesn’t make the playoffs, that not good. 

8) Vikings, Patriots had similar profiles last year; they both won despite not forcing many turnovers (Minn 19, NE 18), but rarely turning ball over themselves (Minn 14, NE 12). 

7) Teams who turned ball over the most LY: Browns 41, Broncos 34, Dolphins 29.

Teams who turned ball over the least: Chiefs 11, Patriots 12, Vikings/Raiders 14. 

6) Teams with the most takeaways LY: Ravens 34, Jaguars 33, Lions 32, Eagles 31. 

Teams with the least takeaways LY: Browns 13, Bengals/Raiders 14, Dolphins 15

5) Jets, Raiders were only NFL teams LY to not score a TD on defense or special teams.

4) Carolina Panthers were 11-5 LY, 8-1 in games decided by 8 or fewer points, 4-0 in games decided by 3 or fewer points. 

Norv Turner as the Panthers’ new OC will be fascinating, how he utilizes Cam Newton.

3) Chargers went 9-7 LY, but were 1-4 in games decided by 3 or fewer points, losing three of those games during their 0-4 start, when the Bolts’ kickers screwed up in key spots. Chargers used four different kickers last year. 

2) Dak Prescott loses his top two red zone targets from LY, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Dallas has only three players on its team who are 30+ years old. 

1) Alex Smith is a QB who doesn’t take as many chances as most QB’s, so his teams don’t turn the ball over as much- they had 11 turnovers LY, least in league. but Smith is in Washington now, and rookie QB Mahomes (1 start LY) is the Chiefs’ QB.

Its not inconceivable that their giveaway total could double this season; 19 of 32 NFL teams turned the ball over 22+ times LY.