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

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Thursday’s 6-pack
Major league leaders in hits:
91— Nick Castellanos, Cin/Adam Frazier, Pitt
90— Trea Turner, Wash
88— Vladimir Guerrero, Tor
87— Cedric Mullins, Balt
86— Jesse Winker, Cin
84— Bogaerts, Kiner-Falefa, Tapia

Quote of the Day
“I’m still stunned sitting here that we didn’t win Game 7 at home……….look, ultimately you win or lose mostly with your players. It’s my job to get the best players, and frankly, we didn’t have quite good enough players.”
Daryl Morey, GM of the 76ers

Thursday’s quiz
Who managed the Mets, last time they won the World Series? 

Wednesday’s quiz
James Woods played the team doctor in Any Given Sunday.

Tuesday’s quiz
Chicago Bears beat New England when they won their only Super Bowl title after the 1985 season. 

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) Padres 5, Dodgers 3:
— Dodgers get swept in San Diego for first time since 2010.
— Padre closer Melancon got his 4th save in five days.
— Dodgers are 7-9 in Trevor Bauer’s starts. 

12) Nationals 13, Phillies 12:
— Phillies led 5-0 after four innings.
— Starlin Castro’s two-run single was the game-winner.
— Kyle Schwarber has 10 home runs in his last dozen games.

11) Giants 9, Angels 3 (13)
— If you had under 8 in this game, the gambling gods owe you one.
— Teams were a combined 4-34 with RISP.
— Mike Tauchman whiffed five times, then homered in the 13th inning.

This game took so long that Giants’ radio guy Dave Flemming had to log off the air, in order to do the ESPN broadcast of the Dodger-Padre game. Giants’ radio finished up using the TV feed with Jon Miller doing play-by-play.

Angels didn’t use a DH, because Ohtani pitched; P Griffin Canning played a couple innings out in left field, which isn’t normal. P Dylan Bundy pinch-hit for the Angels.

10) Was watching a replay of Monday’s NC State-Vanderbilt game in the College World Series; Vandy P Jack Leiter threw 123 pitches, struck out 15 guys. He is going to get drafted in a couple weeks; how much wear and tear do college coaches put on their pitchers’ arms?

Earlier this season, Leiter threw 126 pitches in his no-hitter; no one in the major leagues has thrown that many pitches in a game this year. Chances are that Leiter will never throw 126 pitches in a game the rest of his career.

9) Former big league SS Troy Tulowitzki is a volunteer assistant coach at Texas; the Longhorns’ SS is using the glove Tulowitzki used back when he won the Gold Glove in 2010-11.

8) Wednesday was the 104th anniversary of the ballgame when pitcher Babe Ruth walked the leadoff hitter in a game, got thrown out by the umpire, then his replacement retired 27 hitters in a row, one of the strangest games in big league history.

I’m guessing Babe Ruth would’ve been the center of attention in our current social media era.

7) Hawks 116, Bucks 113:
— Trae Young scored 48 points, dished out 11 assists.
— Hawks won despite their subs playing a combined 60:00- they were minus-38.
— John Collins had 23 points, 15 rebounds for Atlanta.

6) Last time the Hawks got this far along in the playoffs was six years ago, when their coach was Mike Budenholzer, who obviously is now Milwaukee’s coach.

5) Last time the Detroit Pistons picked first in the NBA Draft was 1970; they took Bob Lanier, who scored 22.7 ppg over ten years with Detroit.

4) Thinking back on the Suns’ last-second alley-oop the other night:
— Devin Booker set a set screen, despite playing with a broken nose.
— Jae Crowder threw a great pass, a truly great pass; should’ve been mentioned more.

3) Forgot to mention this when the NFL schedule came out, but they did something really smart; three exhibition games per team, but no games on Labor Day weekend, the week before the regular season starts. Very good idea, long overdue.

Not sure what this does to HBO’s Hard Knocks; the best episode is usually when the team makes its last cuts— will that be after Labor Day, or the week before?

2) I’m seriously hoping MLB bans shifts next year; Manny Machado is San Diego’s 3B, but last night, he was so far out in right field, when he dove for a fly ball, he wound up on the warning track. Keeping four infielders on the infield would create more offense, and baseball claims they want more offense in their game. We’ll see.

1) If the playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Mets-Brewers-Giants. Wild Card: San Diego @ Los Angeles
AL: Red Sox-White Sox-Astros. Wild Card: Tampa Bay @ A’s

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Weird story broke this week, about how basketball players for the Wisconsin Badgers were unhappy with their coach last year; at one point, the seven seniors met with head coach Greg Gard and the three assistant coaches and aired their grievances.

Here’s the thing; someone RECORDED THE WHOLE THING, and it became public, which makes the head coach look really bad. Recruiting just became a whole lot harder.

Wisconsin had a very experienced team last year; their starting 5 was older than the starting 5 for one or two NBA teams. The pandemic created unusual circumstances, which created a lot of tension. When you don’t win as much as you think you should, sometimes that spills over. 

12) Suns 104, Clippers 103:
— Phoenix ran great OB under play, scoring on alley-oop with 0:00.7 left.
— Cam Payne led the Suns with 29 points.
— Clippers are down 2-0 for third series in a row.
— Suns’ star Devin Booker broke his nose during this game, came back and finished the game, scoring 20 points.

11) Detroit Pistons won the NBA Draft Lottery; I always wonder what the kid who is supposed to be the #1 pick thinks when he finds out where he is probably headed. Cade Cunningham is from Texas; he needs to buy a parka or two. Detroit gets very cold in the winter.

10) In the 7-game Hawks-76ers series, a very dramatic series, Ben Simmons took a total of three shots in the 4th quarter, none in Games 4-7. One of the more interesting parts of this summer will be if the 76ers unload Simmons or keep him.

9) Suns’ G Chris Paul said he won’t be playing in the Olympics this summer; same thing for Kyle Lowry, who is a free agent.

If I owned an NBA team and was paying guys $20-$30M a year (or more) to play for our team, I sure as hell wouldn’t want them playing in the freakin’ Olympics.

8) Baseball injuries:
— Twins’ OF Byron Buxton broke his pinky, is on the IL.
— Mets’ P Marcus Stroman (hip) left his start early Tuesday
— Mets’ P Joey Lucchesi will have Tommy John surgery
— Braves’ P Max Fried (blister) went on the IL.

7) Arizona Diamondbacks have already used 51 players this season, most of any team; Milwaukee has used 49 players. Lot of frequent flyer miles for guys going between AAA and the big leagues.

6) Two years ago, Diamondbacks were 85-77, a pretty good team, and that was with Paul Goldschmidt already off to St Louis. Wheels have fallen off since then; they’re 21-54 this year.

5) Sounds like the college football playoff is going to expand from four teams to 12 teams in 2023; they’re going through the process to make it happen this summer, a slow process, but there is just too much money at stake for this not to happen.

4) Sports betting became legal in Louisiana this week, should begin by football season.

3) Someone in California did a lab test on a Subway tuna sub, but found no tuna; not really sure what they did find, but hopefully nothing too bad. I’ve had more than my share of their subs over the years, though I get subs at Jersey Mike’s now.

2) Doc Rivers won an NBA title coaching the Celtics in 2008, then made it to the Finals in 2010. At that point, his career playoff record was 46-40, 38-26 with Boston.

Since then, Rivers’ playoff record is 52-54; he hasn’t been back to the Finals. Overall his playoff record is 98-94.

1) Miami Marlins’ P Sandy Alcantara is pretty good, but his teammates don’t hit much for him:
— Last night, Marlins’ bullpen lost game 2-1 in ninth inning.
— His previous start, Alcantara lost 1-0 to St Louis in ninth inning. Not good. 

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

Mets 4, Braves 2:
— Jacob deGrom allowed one hit in five innings, getting the win, but something is amiss with deGrom. He was lifted after throwing only 70 pitches, going thru the Braves’ order twice.

Here are deGrom’s last six starts:
May 25— 5 IP, 63 PT, gave up one run. Mets won 3-1.
May 31— 6 IP, 70 PT, gave up no runs. Mets won 6-2.
June 5— 7 IP, 85 PT, gave up no runs. Mets won 4-0.
June 11— 6 IP, 80 PT, gave up no runs. Mets won 3-2.
June 16— 3 IP, 37 PT, gave up no runs. Mets won 6-3
Last nite— 5 IP, 70 PT, gave up no runs. Mets won 4-2. 

His numbers are tremendous, but they’re not extending him at all. His last four starts back in April, he threw 95-99-109-93 pitches.

Heading into Monday’s games, four of five NL Central teams were batting under .230. Only the Cincinnati Reds are batting over .230 as a team.

Indians 4, Cubs 0— Bottom 4th inning, Cubs have man on first, one out. Anthony Rizzo flies out to left, and the runner on first Javier Baez, forgets how many outs there and gets doubled off to end the inning. Cubs manager David Ross took Baez out of the game right there and then.

Cleveland P Aaron Civale had a 3-0 lead with two outs in 5th, when he called the trainer out and left the game— something wrong with his right hand. No bueno for Civale or those of us who have him in fantasy leagues— he’s a dependable guy.

Padres 6, Dodgers 2— This ended a 150-game streak of the Dodgers being favored in every game they had played since late 2019.

If the Washington NFL team wants a nickname, I have two suggestions:
a) Red Tails— This would come pretty close to the old name, and would honor a group of pilots from World War II. The team colors would all stay the same.
b) Sentinels— Nickname of the Washington team from the movie The Replacements, where Gene Hackman was coach, Keanu Reeves the QB.

Of the four teams left in the NBA playoffs, none of them has won an NBA title since Milwaukee won back in 1971, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 2nd year as a pro.

Got my first college football magazine
of the summer; here are things I learned from reading it:
Over last five years, these teams have the worst record against the spread:
— Bowling Green 29.2% ATS
— Akron 30.2% ATS
— Texas-El Paso 31.4%
— Arizona 32.0%
— Tennessee 35.7%

These teams have the best record against the spread:
— LSU 38-20-1, 65.3% ATS
— Wyoming/Eastern Michigan, both at 64.8%
— Buffalo, 63.9%- their coach moved on to Kansas.
— Utah, 63.6%

Last year was first time the Big X didn’t have have any offensive skill players drafted in the first round by the NFL.

Since 1985, Arizona Wildcats have had one QB drafted, Nick Foles in 3rd round, 2012.

Last year was first time in 80 years Michigan State didn’t have any players drafted.

Bryan Harsin is the new coach at Auburn, moving in from Boise State, where he went 69-19; his defensive coordinator is Derek Mason, formerly head coach at Vanderbilt.

There are 41 bowl games on this year’s docket; 43 were schedule last year, only 25 were played.

College football “free agency” is now a thing; here are winners/losers for this year:
Winners— Oklahoma, Florida State, Miami
Losers— Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia Tech

Here is how Nick Saban’s teams have done the year after winning a national title:
2004, LSU— 9-3, lost bowl game to Iowa
2010, Alabama— 10-3, beat Michigan State in bowl
2012, Alabama— 12-1, won national title
2013, Alabama— 11-2, lost bowl to Oklahoma
2016, Alabama— 14-1, lost national title game to Clemson
2018, Alabama— 14-1, lost national title game to Clemson
2021, Alabama— ??????

College football coaches on the hot seat:
— Jim Harbaugh, Michigan— He’s signed thru 2025.
— Clay Helton, USC— Finished in top 25 three of six years.
— Jeff Brohm, Purdue— 8-16 in his last 24 games.
— Dino Babers, Syracuse— 6-17 last two years, after a 10-win 2018.
— Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech— 19-18 last three years, not good enough.

Top 5 quarterback transfers:
— McKenzie Milton, UCF to Florida State
— Jack Coan, Wisconsin to Notre Dame
— Charlie Brewer, Baylor to Arizona
— Alan Bowman, Texas Tech to Michigan
— Tyler Shough, Oregon to Texas Tech

Motto for modern college QB’s: If I ain’t starting, then I’ll be departing.

They tweaked the college overtime rules; teams have to go for 2 points after TD’s starting in the 2nd overtime. If a game gets to three OT’s, they just run alternate 2-point plays until someone wins. Thats a factor if the spread is between 2-8 points. 

Monday’s Den: Random stuff, and Mountain West football knowledge

Hawks 103, 76ers 96:
— Atlanta won despite Trae Young going 5-23 from the floor.
— Kevin Huerter (from suburban Albany) scored 27 points.
— Embiid scored 31 points, had 11 rebounds on a bum leg; he was a warrior in this series.

Suns 120, Clippers 114:
— Devin Booker scored 40 for Phoenix.
— Clippers are down 1-0 for third series in a row.
— Suns were +18 in the 14:00 Torrey Craig played.
— Clippers have played every other day since June 2nd.

Nationals 5, Mets 2:
— Kyle Schwarber homered three times, has 5 homers in last two games.

Brewers 7, Rockies 6:
— Colorado hit four homers in the 6th inning, erasing a 6-0 deficit, but those were the only runs they scored. Daniel Vogelbach knocked in the winning run in the 9th inning.

New York 2, A’s 1:
— Game ended with Sean Murphy grounding into a triple play on a 2-0 pitch, after the first two batters of the inning had walked.

Mariners 6, Rays 2 (10):
— Shed Long hit a walk-off grand slam in 10th inning.
— Rays lost their last six games.
— Tampa Bay is calling up its #1 prospect Wander Franco Tuesday.

Why do teams shift against everyone? Reds shifted against San Diego C Victor Caratini Sunday, like he was Reggie Jackson or Dave Winfield— the guy is batting .219.

Caratini sticks his bat out, hits a soft ground ball to shortstop, but problem is, the shortstop isn’t there, because the Reds shift against everyone. Caratini is hitting .219; the over-educated imbeciles who run some of these front offices justify their existence by shifting way too much.

Mountain West football knowledge:
Air Force
— Five new offensive linemen and a new QB; lot of questions on offense.
— Falcons have a new special teams coach; last guy was there 10 years.
— 3 starters back on offense, 1 on defense.

Boise State
— LY’s coach bolted to Auburn; the new coach was a defensive coordinator.
— Boise was 115th in country LY in rushing yardage; no bueno.
— 8 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.

Colorado State
— Rams played only four games LY; they want to run the ball more.
— State had five punts/kicks returned for TD’s last season; not good.
— 9 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.

Fresno State
— Bulldogs scored 30+ ppg, for third year in a row.
— Fresno gave up 212 rushing yards, 30 points/game LY.
— 9 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.

Hawai’i
— Coach Graham’s son is the QB this season.
— Their kicker was only 2-7 on FG’s of 40+ yards LY.
— 7 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

Nevada
— QB Strong threw 27 TD passes, only four INT’s last year.
— Wolf Pack brought in three D-I transfers for their secondary.
— 9 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

UNLV
— Rebels recruited well last two years, also brought in some transfers.
— 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— When your season win total is 1.5 wins, expectations aren’t high.

New Mexico
— New QB Wilson started 25 games for Kentucky; he’s pretty good.
— Lobos couldn’t play at home LY, so getting back home should be fun.
— 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.

San Diego State
— Aztecs threw only six TD passes LY, were 115th in passing yardage.
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— San Diego State is temporarily playing home games 115 miles from campus.

San Jose State
— Spartans came out of nowhere to win league title LY, but lost their bowl game.
— San Jose’s QB Starkel will be protected by an OL with 91 returning starts.
— 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.

Utah State
— New coach Anderson’s Arkansas State team threw for 364.4 ypg LY.
— Aggies gave up 34+ points in five of six games LY.
— 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.

Wyoming
— Cowboys completed less than half their passes the last three years.
— Wyoming returns its top 10 tacklers from last season.
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Bucks 115, Nets 111 (OT)
— Milwaukee wins series in seven games.
— Last time a Game 7 went to OT? 2006, Dallas-San Antonio.
— Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 40 points for the Bucks.
— Kevin Durant played all 53:00, scored 48 points. 

12) Durant’s performance was totally amazing; the guy tore his Achilles June 10, 2019, yet he played 47:00/game in Games 5-7 here, and at a really high level. Achilles injuries are difficult to come back from.

11) Blue Jays 10, Orioles 7:
— Mountcastle hit three HR’s, Mullins hit two, but Baltimore still lost.
— Toronto scored six runs in the 9th for the comeback win.
— Orioles’ first six hits in this game were all home runs.

10) Dodgers 9, Arizona 3— How depressing must it be to be in the Arizona traveling party these days? They’ve lost 16 games in a row, 30 of last 32. Hard to believe any of the coaches will be back next year; those are lucrative jobs.

Just a bad year overall for Arizona; the GM’s wife has cancer, which is way worse, obviously, than the baseball stuff, but they could use something good to happen in the desert.

9) Walker Buehler had a no-hitter until the 8th inning of that game; there were lot of people wearing blue in Phoenix this weekend, rooting on the world champs.

8) Padres 7, Reds 5— Joey Votto/David Bell got tossed in the first inning for arguing balls and strikes. I mean, San Diego is throwing a bullpen game and you get tossed in the first inning?

7) Mets split a doubleheader in Washington; they host Atlanta for a twinbill on Monday, then host the Phillies for another one Friday. Three doubleheaders in seven days, with the health of star pitcher Jacob deGrom a big ???? Could be a long week in Flushing.

6) Mariners 6, Rays 5— Tampa Bay won Tyler Glasnow’s last start Monday, but they’re 0-5 since he went on the IL with a UCL problem. Without Glasnow to anchor their rotation, they have been stretching out the starters who usually only face the opposing lineup twice a game.

5) Statistical oddity; Milwaukee is 39-32, but they’ve given up four more runs than they’ve scored this season.

4) Tuesday there is a big meeting about expanding the college football playoff system from four teams to 12. Too much money to be made for it not to happen, but if it does happen, apparently it won’t be until 2023. It’ll be a big deal when it happens.

Imagine the politics inside that meeting? All those highly-paid administrators trying to get guarantees for their leagues. Lot of weasels in that room, for sure.

3) Los Angeles Lakers fired their trainer for second time in three years; before that, the previous trainer had been there for 30+ years. Maybe they should bring him back?

2) Cardinals-Braves are not only a day/night doubleheader today, but the night game is on ESPN; Sunday Night Baseball has a seven-inning game. No bueno.

Braves fly to New York after and play a twinbill against the Mets Monday; that should be fun.

1) A newspaper writer from Mississippi finished last in his fantasy football league last year; the penalty for finishing last is that you have to spend 24 consecutive hours in a Waffle House restaurant, with an hour taken off the sentence for every waffle you eat.

I love waffles, but Waffle House waffles are large, about the size of a plate. This guy winds up downing nine waffles, spending 15 hours inside the restaurant this week.

Some quick thoughts:
— This guy gave Waffle House so much free publicity, he should get free waffles for a year.
— Is it strange that they didn’t care that he sat there for 15 consecutive hours?
— I’m curious when the last time he ate was before going to Waffle House.
— You have to use maple syrup, right? Dry waffles might not go down well.

Saturday’s Den: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) Clippers 131, Jazz 119:
— Utah led 72-50 at halftime.
— LA outscored Jazz 81-47 in second half.
— Clippers are in NBA’s Final Four for first time ever. 

12) 76ers 104, Hawks 99:
— Game 7 is Sunday in Philadelphia.
— Seth Curry, who has a famous brother, scored 24 for the 76ers.
— Atlanta was 13-24 on foul line, lost by five points.

11) Pirates 11, Indians 10— Pittsburgh is just second team in last 100 years to end a losing streak of 10+ games, by winning a game in which they allowed 10+ runs.

’82 Cubs were the other team, if you were wondering.

10) There have been 15 unassisted triple plays in MLB history, last of which was in 2009, by Eric Bruntlett of the Phillies. 8 shortstops, 5 second basemen and 2 first basemen have pulled this off. 

In 1968, Washington Senators’ SS Ron Hansen pulled off an unassisted triple play; it was the first one in the majors since 1927- there wasn’t another one until 1992.

9) I am told there have been 726 triple plays in major league history.

8) This is just random weirdness.

— Orioles lost their last 19 road games; their last road win was May 5, when John Means threw a no-hitter in Seattle. Means is currently on the IL.

— Diamondbacks lost their last 23 road games; their last road win was April 25, when Madison Bumgarner threw a 7-inning no-hitter in Atlanta. Bumgarner is also currently on the IL.

7) Guy on ESPN’s Daily Wager gave out Brewers-Rockies under 9 runs on Thursday’s show; if you’re getting paid to give out picks, preferably winning picks, why give out an under play for a game at Coors Field, especially when Brandon Woodruff is now 0-1, 9.24 in three career starts vs Colorado, and that ERA actually came down during this game, a 7-3 Colorado win???

6) Giants’ IF Wilmer Flores’ walk-up song is the theme from the old TV show Friends; back when Flores was coming up thru the minor leagues, he learned most of his English by watching lots and lots of Friends episodes (Flores is from Venezuela). He’s not the only one either; have heard that story about a few big league ballplayers.

5) Mets have doubleheaders today, Monday and Friday, which is probably why they hesitated to put Jason deGrom on the IL; they could use his help during this difficult time in their schedule.

4) July is going to be a fascinating month in baseball; what teams give up and trade players, and which teams will be adding salary to try and win now?

3) Celtics traded G Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City in an oddly-timed trade; I didn’t even know you could announce trades during the playoffs.

Boston gets Al Horford, Moses Brown and some payroll flexibility; Walker will make $73M over the next two years, Horford $53M. There were also draft picks exchanged.

Oklahoma City now owns 18 first round picks to use in the next seven drafts.

2) Something to watch for in tonight’s Game 7 in the NBA: Milwaukee had 26 fast break points in Game 6, Brooklyn only 4. Can the Nets stop Milwaukee from running?

1) If the playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Mets, Cubs, Giants. Wild Card: San Diego @ Dodgers
AL— Rays, White Sox, A’s. Wild Card: Houston @ Boston

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

13) Bet you can remember where you were 27 years ago tonight; 27 years ago tonight was the OJ Simpson car chase, captured live and in color by every network in America, except the one that had an NBA Finals game on (Knicks-Houston).

A white Ford Bronco driving along the freeways of Los Angeles, trailed by a parade of police cars, being cheered by onlookers. People cheering for a retired football star suspected of murder. What a weird night; think I saw three minutes of the basketball game, and I love basketball. 

12) If someone had asked me this trivia question today, I’d have sat here for hours before getting the right answer. Who is the only major league ballplayer, who in each of the last five years, including this one, hit 15+ home runs?  

I’ll give you a few minutes to think about it and post the answer at the end of today’s Den.

11) Bucks 104, Nets 89:
— Series is tied 3-3.
— Giannis/Middleton combined for 68 points.
— Durant scored 32 points, other four starters scored 42.

10) Padres 6, Reds 4:
— If you bet the under in this game, skip to the next paragraph.
— Padres led 2-0 after eight innings; both teams scored 4 runs in the ninth.
— Victor Caratini walked it off with a homer for San Diego.

9) Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title ten years ago, but haven’t won a playoff series since; this week, they fired GM Donnie Nelson, after 16 years as the head of the Dallas front office. Not sure which one of these two happened first, but coach Rick Carlisle is out after 13 years as the coach of the Mavericks.

Dallas employs a guy named Haralobos Voulgaris as director of quantitative research and development; he used to be a professional gambler. Apparently Voulgaris won a power struggle with Nelson/Carlisle for owner Mark Cuban’s ear, so now the franchise takes a new direction.

8) Quick baseball notes:
— San Diego Padres are 0-8 in Blake Snell’s road starts.
— Oakland A’s are 7-0 in Chris Bassitt’s road starts. 
— New York Mets are 6-0 in Taijuan Walker’s home starts.

7) Giants 10, Arizona 3— Diamondbacks set a new record, losing their 23rd straight road game; their last road win was April 25, when Madison Bumgarner threw his 7-inning no-hitter.

Indians 10, Orioles 3— Baltimore has lost its last 19 road games. When the amateur draft happens next month, Orioles better be drafting a lot of pitchers.

6) Mariners 6, Rays 5— Seattle scored twice in 9th, walking it off on a Kyle Seager single. Rays are 0-3 since Tyler Glasnow hurt his arm.

5) I still have no idea why the Rams made the blockbuster deal with Detroit to get QB Matthew Stafford, but there is this:
— In Sean McVay’s first two years coaching LA, the Rams were +18 in turnovers.
— Last two years, Rams were minus-3 in turnovers.

4) Baltimore Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson ran the ball for 1,005 yards LY, 200 yards more than any of his teammates.

3) Richmond Spiders are going to have a very experienced basketball team next winter, with two 5th-year seniors, and two 6th-year seniors starting. Remember, everyone who played college LY can come back and play this year. That’ll be a big thing to keep track of.

2) It has taken me a while to get used to 7-inning doubleheaders, and its going to take time for me to get used to a 17-game NFL regular season. The 16-game season started in 1978, when I was in college. Regular season doesn’t end this year until January 9th.

Answer to the really hard quiz: Cleveland SS Jose Ramirez is the only major league ballplayer, who in each of the last five years, including this one, has hit 15+ home runs.

1) If the playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Mets, Cubs, Giants. Wild Card: Milwaukee @ Dodgers
AL— Rays, White Sox, A’s. Wild Card: Houston @ Boston

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud……..

13) Robert Griffin III hasn’t retired as an NFL player yet, but if he does, TV networks will be scrapping for his services as an analyst.

Apparently, RG3’s TV auditions went so well that FOX/ESPN will be bidding for his services as soon as he puts his retirement papers in.

Griffin was the 2nd player taken in the 2012 Draft; he went 9-6 in his rookie year as a QB with Washington, but has gone 7-20 since then, drifting to Cleveland, then Baltimore.

12) Hawks 109, 76ers 106:
— Atlanta trailed by 24 with 2:10 left in third quarter.
— Hawks scored 54 points on their first 66 possessions.
— Hawks scored 55 points on their last 31 possessions.
— Atlanta leads series, 3-2. 

11) Over the last 25 years, 76ers are ONLY TEAM to blow a lead of 18+ points in consecutive playoff games.

10) Clippers 119, Jazz 111— Clippers grab 3-2 series lead despite Kawhi Leonard missing this game with a leg injury. LA leads this series 3-2.

9) Red Sox 10, Braves 8:
— Arroyo hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the 7th inning.
— Atlanta has four losses this year when they scored 8+ runs; in the last three years combined, they lost a total of five such games.

8) Giants 13, Diamondbacks 7:
— Arizona has lost 13 in row, 26 of its last 28 games.
— Arizona lost its last 22 road games.

7) Alex, I’d like Strange Scheduling for $100— Mets’ last four games before the All-Star break are against Pittsburgh; their first three games after All-Star break are also against the Pirates, so the teams will play seven consecutive games against each other, which is odd.

6) Twins 7, Mariners 2— Coming into this game, Minnesota’s Williams Astudillo had batted 116 games this season, without drawing a walk. His first two at-bats in this game, he walked both times.

5) Astros 8, Rangers 4— Jose Altuve is first player EVER to hit a walk-off grand slam, then lead off the first inning of the next game with another home run.

4) Pretty good 4-team basketball tournament down in Florida in November: Yale, Bowling Green, Southern Utah and Western Michigan.

3) Phoenix Suns’ guard Chris Paul is in COVID protocol, is out indefinitely.

2) Sounds the Jets are committing to starting rookie QB Zach Wilson in Week 1, when they play Carolina and the Panthers’ new QB, Sam Darnold. Should be good theater.

1) I’m not 100% sure this is true, but if it isn’t, it should be:

— Chess is the most popular game in Czecholslovakia
— There is a dating service in Prague that caters primarily to chess players.
— The dating service is called Czech Mate. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings and Big 14 football knowledge

Nets 114, Bucks 108:
— Milwaukee was up 16 points at the half.
— Durant scored 49 points, had 17 rebounds, 10 assists.
— James Harden wasn’t expected to play, but played 46:00.
— Brooklyn leads series 3-2.

— Bad news for the Tampa Bay Rays; ace P Tyler Glasnow has a partial tear in his right UCL; team isn’t sure if surgery will be needed.

— Oakland A’s announced that manager Bob Melvin will back next year, which will be his 12th year managing in Oakland. He’s a very, very good manager.

— Royals’ OF Jorge Soler has already reached base on catcher’s interference six times this year; the record is 12, set by Jacoby Ellsbury five years ago.

— CFL announced that their 14-game season will start August 5; the Grey Cup game will be played December 12, in Hamilton.

Mets 3, Cubs 2
— Mets threw tying run out at plate in 9th inning, on great relay from CF.
— Cubs’ 3B Kris Bryant left game after he was hit on hand by a pitch.

Giants 9, Diamondbacks 8:
— Arizona led this game 7-0 in 2nd inning, 8-3 after five.
— Mike Yastzremski hit a grand slam in the 8th inning.
— Arizona has lost 12 in row overall, 21 in row on the road.

Notes on Big 14 football teams:
Illinois
— Former Wisconsin/Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is new HC.
— 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Illinois’ last winning season was in 2011.

Indiana
— Went 6-2 LY, gave the coach a raise to $4.9M a year.
— Last two years, Hoosiers are 15-5 against the spread.
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

Iowa
— Lost first two games 24-20/21-20 LY, then won last six games.
— Hawkeyes will have 3 new starters on OL this fall.
— 6 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.

Maryland
— Locksley is 8-43 as a head coach, 6-17 at Maryland.
— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Former Florida HC Ron Zook will coach special teams.

Michigan
— Gave up 34.5 ppg LY, fired the DC.
— Wolverines will have another new starting QB this year.
— 7 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

Michigan State
— Spartans brought in 20 transfers this season.
— QB Anthony Russo started 26 games at Temple.
— 6 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.

Minnesota
— 10 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Gave up 207.1 rushing yards/game LY (#102)
— Gophers poached kicker from Kent State to help their special teams.

Nebraska
— Went 3-5 LY, with a minus-11 turnover ratio.

— Cornhuskers have five 6th-year seniors on their defense.
— 6 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.

Northwestern
— Played in Big 14 title game LY, beat Auburn in their bowl.
— only 4 starters back on offense, 5 on defense this year.
— Lost their QB and top four WR’s from last season.

Ohio State
— Ryan Day is 23-2 SU coaching the Buckeyes.
— OSU has 6 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Buckeyes don’t have a QB who has a thrown a college pass.

Penn State
— Started 0-5 LY, won last four games; were minus-7 in turnovers.
— Gave up 27.7 ppg LY, most in school history. 
— 9 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.

Purdue
— Went 6-12 SU the last two seasons.
— ranked 124th in country in rushing LY (81.5 ypg)
— 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.

Rutgers
— Hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2014.
— K-State transfer Youngblood ran three kicks back for TD’s in 2019.
— 10 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.

Wisconsin
— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Ranked 103rd in country in yards/game LY.
— Last time Badgers didn’t go bowling; 2001. 

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

13) An infielder in Korean pro baseball scratched the cornea in his eye last week, when he rubbed sweat out of his eye, only did it too vigorously.

I meant to mention this last year, after my cataract surgery; the surgeon had mentioned to me to be careful when washing around the eyes— you can do damage to a delicate area. 

12) If I was a big league ballplayer and they told me they traded me, the first thing I’d want to know, other than where I was going, is who did you get for me?

11) Giants 5, Diamondbacks 2— Arizona has now lost 20 in a row on the road.

10) A’s 8, Angels 5:
— Mitch Moreland got his 1,000th career hit in this game.
— Mark Canha is 9th Oakland player ever to play LF-CF-RF, all in the same game.

9) Hawks 103, 76ers 100:
— Atlanta wins after trailing by 18 at one point; series is 2-2. 
— Joel Embiid went 4-20 from floor, 0-12 in 2nd half. He is playing with torn meniscus in his knee.

8) Clippers 118, Utah 104:
— LA led 30-13 after first quarter, never looked back.
— Home side won all four series games.
— Utah’s subs shot a combined 4-20 from the floor.

7) Do young actors get starstruck when they do scenes with really famous actors?

I’m thinking of one of the last scenes in Last Vegas; the young concierge is saying goodbye to the four older dudes he helped out during the movie, but not just any older dudes:

Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline.

Has to be the young guy’s career highlight, right?

6) Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1— Toronto won 18-4 Sunday, then trailed 1-0 here with two outs in 9th, when Vladimir Guerrero tied the game with a dramatic homer.  Rafael Devers walked it off in bottom of the 9th by hitting a ball off the Green Monster.

Coming into this game, Red Sox starting pitchers had allowed 40 runs in their previous 39 IP, so this had to be a relief for them.

5) Baseball injuries:
— Cleveland P Shane Bieber (shoulder)
— Royals OF Andrew Benitendi (ribs)
— Rays P Tyler Glasnow (elbow)

4) A’s manager Bob Melvin got his 1,300th career win over the weekend, making him the 35th big league skipper to hit that milestone.

3) There is going to be a new NHL team in Seattle next fall; the expansion draft is next month, which should be interesting.

— How hard will the new team try to win quickly?
— Which players will be left unprotected?
— When is Seattle getting a new NBA team?

2) There is apparently a chicken wing shortage in Buffalo, which has raised prices.

“This time last year, an order of 20 from us came to $25 even [after tax]; right now it’s $31.53” s restaurant manager told the New York Post.

— Back in 2018, an oversupply in chicken wing production forced the process to slow.
— During the pandemic last year, a shortage of workers and bursting demand for takeout worsened the crunch.
— The big winter storm in Texas in February made supply-chain matters worse when farmers had to euthanize hundreds of thousands of chicks and destroy hundreds of thousands of eggs.

So far, no one is suggesting that fowl play is involved.

1) RIP to the great actor Ned Beatty, who passed away over the weekend, at age 83. One of our best character actors, Beatty has 228 movie credits, including Network, Superman, Deliverance and He Got Game. He was even a judge in Law & Order once. RIP, sir. 

Monday’s Den: Hard to believe its been 20 years already. Happy Armadillo Day

Hard to believe, but 20 years ago today, this website got its start; time flies when you’re having fun, and this has (mostly) been fun.

I’d like to thank all of you for reading this space (I’m hoping someone is out there reading)

I’ve had the pleasure of learning from a lot of smart people over the years; hopefully I’ve passed some of that knowledge on to you. Lot of what is posted here is trivial, but trivia can be fun. If it makes you smile or makes you think, then it is useful trivia.

— Random joke from comedian Rip Taylor: “The economy is so bad, even the price of down is up”

— A coach rips into one of his players, who dislikes the coach: “You’re playing lousy because you’re ignorant and apathetic!!!!” Kid looks at the coach, shrugs and says, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Someday I’ll do a big thing thanking everyone who has helped me, but right now it is really late and I would leave someone out and that would make me sick, so I’ll do it another day. Just know that I appreciate what I’ve learned from those of you who I’ve met.

One of the things I believe is that certain people come into our lives for a reason; we may not know it at the time, but eventually we do. They may even be cruddy people, but we learn from them too and we use that knowledge to make ourselves better.

I’ve made several new friends because of this site; you never have enough good friends.

So much has happened since 2001; now isn’t the time to look back, its time to look ahead, to try and figure out what’s going to be happening in the coming months.

— Baseball is going to look a lot different next year. Will be lot of new rules; eventually, they will add two expansion teams, maybe the A’s/Rays will also move.

Hopefully, everyone will use the DH next year, and 7-inning doubleheaders will go away; I’m not too opinionated on the other potential rule changes— oh yeah, no robot umps either.

— NFL teams will play 17 games this season for the first time; eventually, they’ll play 18, with the Super Bowl on Presidents Day weekend.

— College football will expand to an 8-team or 12-team playoff; too much money involved for them to say no to that.

— College basketball is undergoing a huge change right now, not necessarily for the better. I am hoping that soon kids can go right from high school to the NBA, which might reduce the amount of roster-hopping that is happening at a ridiculously high pace right now.

Random odd stat: NFL went to the 16-game schedule in 1978. Since, the QB who has started all 16 games for his team and thrown the fewest TD passes?

In 1995, Trent Dilfer started 16 games for Tampa Bay, but threw only four TD passes all season for the 7-9 Buccaneers, who were 5-2 in games decided by 7 or fewer points. Five years later, Dilfer won the Super Bowl starting for the Baltimore Ravens. Go figure.

Suns 125, Nuggets 118— Phoenix is in playoffs for first time in a decade; they sweep Denver here, advance to the Western Conference final.

Bucks 107, Nets 96— Kyrie Irving hurt his ankle, Bucks evened series 2-2.

— Guy named Garrick Higgo (played college golf at UNLV) was six shots down when he began play Sunday, but the leaders stumbled, and Higgo won his first PGA Tour event, in only his second try. He’s also won twice on the European Tour in the Canary Islands. Higgo is only 22 years old; he is a lefty golfer from South Africa.

— Former Colorado QB Sam Noyer, a 2nd-team Pac-12 guy last year, is transferring to Oregon State, because every QB who doesn’t start seems to transfer to somewhere where he will start. Unusual for a QB to transfer within the conference, though.

Toronto 18, Boston 4— Blue Jays hit eight home runs.

If the playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Mets/Cubs or Brewers/Giants. Wild Card: Chi/Mil @ Dodgers
AL: Rays, White Sox, A’s. Wild Card: Houston @ Boston

Today we start the next 20 years, hopefully filled with laughter and good health for everyone. Thanks again for reading.

Happy Armadillo Day, and happy birthday to my friend Big Dawg, who celebrates a birthday today. He is a smart, funny man; don’t believe me?

Before my ill-fated marriage way back in 1992, Big Dawg comes up to me at work, and in front of several other people says: “Don’t spend too much time with her. Remember, she’s only your first wife.”

Then he walks away. Oy. Happy birthday, Big Dawg!!!!

Sunday’s Den: Mixing in some baseball with Big X football knowledge

Someday, someone will explain to me why teams bat their pitcher 8th; it makes zero sense to me. Hopefully next year, everyone will use the DH so this will be a moot point, but it still kind of bugs me that in a multi-billion dollar business, things are done for no apparent reason.

10-12 years ago, Tony LaRussa batted the pitcher 8th in St Louis, and people assumed that since he did it, it was a good idea. No one has done it in a playoff game, which is the truest tell; it seems like a useless gimmick, something to yak about.

I’m convinced that Joe Maddon sometimes does things just to mess with people; he has batted the pitcher 8th too. What do you say to a position player when you bat him behind a pitcher?

Texas Rangers’ TV crew is very good; Dave Raymond/CJ Nitkowski or David Murphy. They talk calmly about the game, they’re good natured, they give the other team credit if it is due. Easy to listen to.

Overall, the quality of local TV baseball telecasts has gone downhill; lot of homerism, and not the funny Harry Caray-type. More the “we can’t say anything bad, ever” kind.

Good news on the TV front; Showtime announced that the series Billions will have new episodes on the air, starting September 5. Billions was airing its fifth season of shows when the pandemic shut everything down; think they’ve the filmed the seven episodes from season 5 that were already written, but never got filmed before the pandemic. Excellent show, worth watching.

Mets 4, Padres 1— Mets allowed 3 or fewer runs in their last 11 home games, their best such streak since 1968, when Seaver/Koosman worked in Queens.

Cubs 7, Cardinals 2:
— St Louis starter Gant faced 11 hitters, gave up 5 walks and a homer.
— Cardinal pitchers have hit 51 batters, most in the majors.
— Kris Bryant played 3B, for first time since April 20.

 In three games in Minnesota during the week, Giancarlo Stanton went 6-15 with three HRs and eight RBI, but when New York played the Phillies Saturday, Stanton was on the bench, since there is no DH in National League parks.

Whats the deal here?
— Is Stanton so brittle that he can’t stand in outfield for nine innings?
— He makes $28M a year; would be nice if he played in all the games, especially when his bat is hot.
— Are the New York trainers coddling him too much?
— (Stanton was a pretty good outfielder for the Marlins, by the way)
— I’m 61 years old, I could play the outfield and not get hurt. Might not catch any baseballs, but good grief, Stanton looks like an NFL tight end- he can’t play the outfield?

Elsewhere, today ends Game 10 of our fantasy baseball league’s regular season, the halfway mark for us; time goes by quickly. Season isn’t half-over yet; our fantasy playoffs are in September, but it has been great to have things seem more normal this year.

This time last year, we were still a month away from the baseball season starting.

Here is some knowledge on Big X college football:
Baylor
— Baylor’s 4-year starting QB bolted Waco, will play at Utah.
— Maybe he left because he was sacked 31 times in nine games LY.
— Baylor has 10 starters back on defense.
— Bears ranked 123rd in rushing LY, 100th in scoring.

Iowa State
— Haven’t won a league title since 1912; they lost Big X title game 27-21 LY.
— QB Purdy is back for his 4th year as the Cyclones’ QB.
— Iowa State returns 26 players who’ve started 6+ games in their career/
— How has a big $$$ money school/NFL not hired Matt Campbell away from Ames?

Kansas
— Lance Leipold is their sixth coach since 2009; he was 37-33 at Buffalo.
— Leipold’s Buffalo team ranked #2 in country in rushing LY; Kansas was 116th.
— Leipold was hired the day before the Jayhawks’ spring game; not ideal.
— Anyone else wondering why they fired Mark Mangino 10 years ago?

K-State
— Wildcats have only 3 starters back on defense.
— K-State lost their last five games LY, giving up 40.6 ppg.
— Wildcats added five players via the transfer portal.
— Freshman QB TJ Rubley is the son of a former NFL QB.

Oklahoma
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense
— They’ve won Big X six years in a row.
— Scored 43 ppg but lost twice (38-35/37-30)
— Sooners dropped 9 TD passes LY; the receivers need to be better.

Oklahoma State
— Only five starters are back on offense, but QB Sanders is a 3rd-year starter.
— Over last 11 seasons, OSU is 101-40, one of 10 programs with 100+ wins since 2010.
— Cowboys’ punter is Tom Hutton, a 31-year old Australian.
— Cowboys have never played in Big X title game.

TCU
— Gary Patterson has been head coach at TCU for 21 years.
— Junior QB Duggan has already started 19 college games.
— Horned Frogs are thin at LB and safety.
— TCU won five of last six games LY, after a 1-3 start.

Texas
— Longhorns scored 42.7 ppg LY, finished 7-3; the coach got fired after going 32-18.
— There will be a QB competition in summer camp.
— Texas has only 6 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Steve Sarkisian is the new coach; six years ago; he got fired as head coach at USC for showing up drunk to practice. If you work for Nick Saban, people forget things about you.

Texas Tech
— Tech is 8-14 since Matt Wells replaced Kliff Kingsbury as coach.
— Red Raiders gave up 36.7 ppg last year.
— Tech hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2017.
— One of Tech’s QBs is Tyler Shough, who was Oregon’s starting QB LY.

West Virginia
— Last time they won a league title was 2011; they won the Big East back then.
— Mountaineers have only 5 starters back on defense.
— WVU is 11-11 in two years since Dana Holgorsen bolted for Houston.
— Mountaineers’ shortest road trip in Big X is Iowa State, 872 miles away. 

Saturday’s Den: Mixing in some Pac-12 football knowledge in with baseball

Mets 3, Padres 2:
— Jacob deGrom threw six shutout innings, but left after six innings (80 PT) with a sore elbow. In his four starts since being on the IL, he’s thrown 63-70-85-80 pitches.
— Mets started a 31-day stretch where they’ll play 33 games; one day off, with three twinbills mixed in. Some consolation; 22 of those 31 days will be spent in New York City.

Cubs 8, Cardinals 5
— Anthony Rizzo hit a home run on the 14th pitch of an at-bat, sending the biggest crowd of the year into a frenzy.
— Cubs scored twice in the 7th inning after Bill Murray sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Giants 1, Nationals 0
Max Scherzer left the game after 12 pitches with a leg injury, bad news for a Washington team facing a pair of games against the Giants Saturday.

Dodgers 12, Rangers 1
LA scored six runs in first inning, sending Texas to their 15th consecutive road loss.

Random strange stat of the day: Of all the active big leaguers with 125+ AB’s against the Indians, the player with the best batting average is?

Elvis Andrus, .367. Go figure.

A’s 4, Royals 3— That same Elvis Andrus hit a walk-off single to rightfield, as Oakland avoided what would’ve been a bad loss.

I’m watching the classic baseball movie Major League the other night and the Indians manager comes to the mound to bring in Wild Thing Vaughn (Charlie Sheen); manager Lou Brown wasn’t much for the analytics community: “I know he hasn’t done well against this guy, but I’ve got a hunch he’s due.”

— A little Pac-12 football knowledge:
Arizona- New coach Jedd Fisch was an offensive coordinator in the NFL; X’s and O’s won’t be a problem, but how will he recruit? Losing 70-7 to Arizona State last year make this year’s game with the Sun Devils more interesting.

Arizona State- 9 starters back on offense, 11 on defense; they were +8 in turnovers LY, in only four games. Sun Devils have a 3rd-year starting QB, unusual in this day and age. Expectations are high in Tempe; ASU lost 16 of its last 19 games against USC- they play Trojans November 8.

California- 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense; their two losses last year were by total of five points. Cal ranked outside top 100 nationally LY in scoring, rushing, passing- their QB has 23 career starts, most of anyone in the Pac-12.

Colorado- 9 starters back on offense, 8 on defense; is there a hangover after you lose your bowl game 55-23, the way Colorado did last year? They’re not sure who the QB will be; Colorado was #23 in country in rushing LY, but they allowed 32+ points in four of six games. 

Oregon- 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense; lot of returning starters all over the Pac-12 this fall. Ducks will have a Boston College transfer (28 starts) or a freshman at QB, which could be a problem, but otherwise they have quality depth all over the field.

Oregon State- 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense; notice a trend here? Beavers scored 31.2 ppg two years ago, 28.9 last year; coach Jonathan Smith knows his offense. Problem is, they gave up 65 points in their two wins LY. The defense needs some work.

USC- 8 starters back on both sides of the ball; QB Kedon Slovis had a pretty good OC in high school in Phoenix- NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. Trojans were 5-1 LY, with three wins by 5 or fewer points; coach Clay Helton kept his job, but fired his 14th assistant over the last five years- they also fired the strength coach.

Stanford- Cardinal started season 0-2, then won their last four games, by total of 10 points. Stanford was 93rd running the ball, 112th in rushing defense, numbers that need to improve. The QB situation is up in the air for this fall, rarely a good thing.

UCLA- 9 starters back on both sides of the ball, as Chip Kelly fights to show that his success at Oregon wasn’t a fluke. Bruins were 3-4 last year; they scored 42-35-38-47 points in the losses. UCLA finished 114th in country in pass defense LY, a bad thing if you’re in the PAC-12.

Utah- Because QB’s transfer every 90 minutes or so, Utes have Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer on their roster now. Brewer threw for 9,700 yards in 44 games at Baylor; is Utah a better place to play than Waco? Utes are trying for third Pac-12 South title in last four years.

Washington- Huskies have 11 consecutive winning seasons, but they finished in top 25 in only four of those years. Washington only played four games LY, so their returning starting QB isn’t as experienced as it seems. A September 11 game at Michigan will be interesting.

Washington State- Coogs hired an assistant coach in charge of poaching transfers from other schools, probably a wave of the future. One of their transfers this year in QB Jarrett Guarantano from Tennessee; there weren’t a lot of people in Knoxville who were upset when he left. Wazzu has 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.

Last thing tonight; Just watched a 1995 episode of Columbo, where Norm from Cheers was the bad guy. This was shortly after Cheers went off the air; Norm’s character owned racehorses, but his brother was a degenerate gambler who owed money to the wrong people- Norm tried to make everything go away by killing his brother, and the guy he owned money to.

No bueno. Even Cliff Clavin could’ve figured that one out. 

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

— Started my college football research this week; last couple of football seasons have been weird for me, with the pandemic last year making it unusual for everyone, after my retina detached in October 2019, which screwed up the rest of that season for me. 

I’ll be posting some notes on college football from now until Labor Day; we start today with some stuff from the SEC. I’m told they really like college football in the south.

— LSU went 5-5 LY, despite a +9 turnover ratio. They overhauled their coaching staff over the winter. Problem is, Joe Burrow lives in Cincinnati now. Ed Orgeron is a way better recruiter than he is a tactician; his new coordinators will need to be sharp guys.

— Kentucky had a +10 turnover ratio; they went 4-6 in the regular season, but somehow made it to a bowl game, where they beat NC State 23-21.

— Alabama also had a +10 turnover ratio; they won the national championship. Crimson Tide has only three starters back on offense this year.

Four new head coaches in the SEC this year:
Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

— Bad news for Ole Miss: they only have four starters back on defense.
— Good news for Ole Miss: their defense sucked LY; it’ll be better with new starters.

As the better college football magazines come out later this month, I’ll post better info, but we’re starting slow, which is fine, since we have a lot of time until the season starts.

One quick Pac-12 note; Stanford started last year 0-2, then won its last four games, by a total of 10 points:
— won 24-23 @ California
— won 31-26 @ Washington
— won 27-24 @ Oregon State
— won 48-47 @ UCLA, in OT

They lost their only home game LY, 35-32 to Colorado.

— Willie Adames was hitting .197 when Tampa Bay traded him to Milwaukee; in his first 18 games for the Brewers, he’s hitting .308, and has been an offensive spark.

— In 2015, Matt Harvey was 13-8, 2.71 in 29 starts for the Mets, when they lost the World Series to Kansas City. He was a big deal in New York City, the Dark Knight. Long time ago.

Since then, Harvey is 29-50 in the major leagues; his ERA the last three years: 7.09, 11.57, 7.41 In his last seven starts this year, he’s allowed 36 runs in 23.2 innings pitched. Why is he still in the major leagues?

  Minnesota 7, New York 5— Josh Donaldson tied it with a 9th inning homer, Hector Cruz walked it off two batters later with another one. Aroldis Chapman faced four hitters; they all scored.

— Arizona Diamondbacks fired their hitting coaches; you lose 19 road games in a row, and heads are going to roll. Doubtful that Arizona’s pitching is the hitting coaches’ fault, but you never know.

— ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian, on base running in the big leagues these days: “……..bad baserunning, the worst I can remember in the 41 years that I have covered the game.”

Kurkjian isn’t an overly critical guy; those words carry some weight.

Dusty Baker agrees: “Baserunning is terrible today. The two things we need the most work on is outfielders throwing and baserunning. Baserunning is just horrible.”

— White Sox 2B Nick Madrigal tore his right hamstring, could be out for the year.

Bucks 86, Nets 83— NBA offices had to be relieved with this score; they need some series to be interesting, especially one with a New York City team in it. Nets still lead series 2-1.

Jazz 117, Clippers 111– Donovan Mitchell has scored 82 points in first two games of this series, which Utah won despite PG Mike Conley being out with an injury.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Mets, Mil or Cubs, Giants. Wild Card: Padres @ Dodgers
AL— Rays, White Sox, A’s Wild Card: Astros @ Red Sox