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

13) Cubs manager Joe Maddon is going to have to figure out the best way to utilize closer Aroldis Chapman, especially since he had the best record in baseball while Hector Rondon was his closer. Athletes can be sensitive; a situation just like helped to unravel the Nationals’ season LY.

Maddon put Chapman in the game for a 4-out save Saturday, showing very little faith in now-setup man Rondon. Chapman blew the save; Chicago still leads NL Central by 6.5 games.

12) Maddon and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville both do TV commercials for a Chicago liquor store; just seems unusual.

11) Cubs won Jake Arrieta’s first ten starts this season; they’re 3-8 in his last 11 starts.

10) Pittsburgh’s rookie pitcher Steven Brault went to D-2 Regis College, because he is a talented singer and Regis has a Vocal Performance major.

9) San Diego Padres went 25 games in a row with a home run; the game before and the game after the streak were both shutouts against Cincinnati, a team with only three shutouts all season.

8) Eduardo Nunez was an All-Star for the Twins earlier this month, then got dealt to the Giants; how often does an All-Star get traded after the All-Star break?

7) Colorado Rockies are now 52-52; they’ve already got 55 quality starts, compared to 54 all of last season.

6) Marlins traded for starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea this week; Rea left his first Miami start in the 4th inning with a sore elbow. Oy.

5) A’s put Rich Hill on the DL with blister issues, but he can come off the DL Tuesday; question is, will he still be on the A’s when he comes off the DL? Toronto is said to be interested. The trading deadline is Monday afternoon.

4) Giants started the season 17-18, then ripped off a 40-15 run that put them atop the NL West, but now San Francisco is 3-11 in its last 14 games and struggling mightily.

3) Last four times the Oklahoma Sooners were a preseason top 5 team in college football, they finished that season outside the top 15.

2) Padres traded Matt Kemp to Atlanta, eating around $11M in salary, then immediately cut the guy they got from the Braves, Hector Olivera, who comes off his domestic violence suspension next week. San Diego hosted the All-Star Game then dismantled its team. I’m sure season ticket holders are thrilled.

1– So the geniuses who schedule Presidential debates put the first two debates opposite NFL games; a Saints-Falcons game and a Giants-Packers tilt. This is just plain dumb– put the debates on Tuesday/Wednesday, when there is nothing else good on TV.

Saturday’s List of 13; Random stuff with weekend here

13) Giants had bases loaded, no outs in bottom of 8th last night; Brandon Crawford hits a line shot right at the first baseman, who touches first, then throws to third for a 3-3-5 triple play, the first one ever in major league baseball.

12) Also saw a triple play at the Reno-Las Vegas AAA game I went to Sunday night in Vegas; that one was a liner to third with both runners going on the pitch.

11) I’ve never met John Grisham the author, but he has made several of my trips from Albany to Las Vegas much easier because I read one of his books on the flight. Thursday night was another one– Rogue Lawyer, which I need to finish next week. Mr Grisham has written a ton of books; must be nice to be that skilled a writer. And that rich 🙂

10) On the flight home, somewhere between Denver and Omaha, you could see a thunderstorm below us, off to the right. Had never seen anything like that in an airplane.

9) There are rumors the Dodgers are trying to trade Yasiel Puig; no way would I trade for Puig– don’t think he likes baseball that much. Plus if you’re trading for a talented guy like him, the price tag is steep.

8) If I was a major league pitcher, I’d have the biggest glove allowed by the rules, like the one Luis Polonia wore when he patrolled LF for the A’s. #1, the big glove would help protect me on balls hit back thru the middle, #2 it would look weird to the hitter and maybe distract him. Someone should try this.

7) Sonny Gray is pitching for the A’s Sunday which is bad news for Rich Hill’s blister– his inability to start is holding up any potentials trades of hill out of Oakland.

6) Heard some folks complaining bitterly about people playing Pokémon the other night. I have no idea what Pokémon actually is, other than some kind of game, but in our world today, anything that makes people happy is OK with me. Not enough people are happy. Happy is good.

5) Speaking of which, a father/son from California were on my flight home Thursday night; they were going to Cooperstown to see the Hall of Fame, then to the Bronx to watch the Indians play, then to Boston to see Fenway Park. The kid looks like he is 14 or 15– he says he plays shortstop, so he must be pretty good. Was just cool to see a father/son take a trip like that.

4) Jose Abreu has zero home runs in July. None. Zero. Bupkus. This is not good and does not make me happy. Abreu hit 66 taters his first two years in big leagues, but has only 11 this year.

3) Eastern League teams Harrisburg-Hartford are playing a series in New Hampshire this week, because Hartford (the Yard Goats, by the way) have n0 home field this year. Attendance for their game the other day: 26, which means they didn’t count players-coaches-umps.

2) 40 years ago, Hank Aaron was the highest-paid player in baseball; the Brewers paid him $240,000. For the year.

1– Also in 1976, Ted Turner paid $10 million to buy the Atlanta Braves; this year, there are 124 players making $10M+, just for this season. Albert Belle (in 1997) was the first player to make $10M+ for one season.

Friday’s List of 13: NFL trends to ponder

13) Atlanta Falcons are 3-13 vs spread as a favorite the last two years.

12) Under Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals are 10-1 vs spread as an underdog of 3 or less points.

11) Underdogs are 16-7-1 vs spread in Ravens’ divisional home games the last eight years.

10) Buffalo Bills covered nine of their last 11 AFC East home games.

9) Last three years Carolina Panthers are 10-3-1 vs spread in non-divisional home games.

8) Last four years, Chicago Bears are 8-21-2 vs spread at home.

7) Over last eight years, Cincinnati Bengals are 18-4-1 vs spread as an underdog of 3 or less points.

6) Since 2008, Cleveland Browns are 12-36 vs spread in divisional games. No bueno.

5) Since 2010, Dallas Cowboys are 8-27 vs spread as a home favorite.

4) Since 2010, Denver Broncos are 2-8 as a non-divisional road underdog.

3) Last two years, favorites are 12-2-2 vs spread in Detroit Lion home games.

2) Last three years, favorites are 16-7 vs spread in Green Bay Packer home games.

1- In two years under coach Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans are 7-3 vs spread as a home favorite.

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

13) I hope you like the new layout; yesterday was a confusing day, but now things are back to normal so I hope this is easier to read.

Huge tip of the cap to my friend Lori who did all the real work in re-doing the site and had to answer a lot of dumb questions (from me).

12) Miami Marlins get Dee Gordon back from his 80-game PED suspension today, which should help the Marlins’ offense, but if Miami makes the playoffs, Gordon is ineligible for them.

11) Milwaukee Brewers had five errors last night before the second inning was over; I’ve never seen defense that dismal, at least not in pro ball.

10) Jay Bruce has homered five games in a row, including one off Madison Bumgarner, so if he wants to be traded, he is putting on a pretty good audition for his new team.

9) Eddie DeBartolo is getting in the Hall of Fame, and Kurt Warner isn’t? Oy.

8) Trade deadline is Monday; A’s need Rich Hill’s blister to heal before then, so he can pitch in a game and increase his trade value.

7) White Sox rookie SS Tim Anderson has come to the plate 178 times this year and walked twice. Twice.

He saw nine pitches in four plate appearances last night. No bueno.

6) Jets signed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year, $12M contract, meaning they get to go thru this all over again next year.

5) Rams released QB Nick Foles, who started 11 games for them LY. Three years ago, when he had DeSean Jackson as a target, Foles threw 27 TD passes, with two INTs. he can still play.

4) Patriots need to sign a veteran backup QB (Foles??) for the first four games, when Tom Brady will be suspended.

Question: Can Brady go to meetings, or stand on the sidelines during games while he is out? He would be a big help on the head phones with Jimmy Garoppolo during games.

3) Texas is desperate for starting pitching; they traded for Lucas Harrell last night. Toronto/Seattle swapped relievers who were both having lousy seasons– a my problem for your problem kind of trade.

2) There was rodeo on TV in the sportsbook last night; you have to be one crazy human to do that. Would be easier to be a crash test dummy.

1– Long, drawn out argument on Angels-Royals game last night, about whether the runner was inside the running box when a throw from the third base side hit him. They went to replay, both managers were on the field, it reinforced why replay is better, since it eliminates (mostly) stuff like this, when managers just go on and on until they get some satisfaction.

Umps got it right; runner had touched first by time ball hit him, so it didn’t matter where he was running, but the ball did go down the line and allow two runs to score, which is why Mike Scioscia was challenging the umpire’s call.

Wednesday’s List of 13: In a perfect world……… ……where I make all the decisions…….

13) NFL quarterbacks wouldn’t have radios in their helmets; they’d call their own plays and the game would be more excitimg.
12) High school kids could go straight from high school to the NBA; if they’re good enough, let ’em go. If they’re not good enough, then go to college for 2+ years.
11) Baseball would re-align geographically, save a fortune on travel. For example, all five California teams would be in the same division.
10) Eight teams in a college football playoff; they’re leaving lot of money on the table by only having a four-team playoff.
9) Get rid of the DH, let pitchers hit. Baseball is a better game that way- make it up to the players’ union by expanding rosters to 27 players, creating 60 new jobs.
8) Put NHL teams in Hamilton and Quebec City; hacing teams in Phoenix and Las Vegas but not in these Canadian cities that love hockey makes no sense.
7) NFL would have only two preseason games and 18 regular season games and the Super Bowl would be Sunday of Presidents’ Day weekend.
6) NBA playoff series would be best-of-5 until the Finals. Need more drama- there isn’t much drama in a 7-game NBA series.
5) When a college basketball league has teams in Omaha, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Chicago and Cincinnati, how can it be called the Big East? Change the name, please.
4) Make Notre Dame join a league in football and share its TV money, or else they can’t be in a college basketball league- they have it both ways.
3) Want to make baseball games shorter? No coaches’ visits to the mound.
2) Baseball should schedule doubleheaders to give players more days off.
1) Banish Thursday NFL games, except for Thanksgiving; play a doubleheader every Monday night, giving west coast teams more exposure.

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

13) Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman from New York as they try and strengthen their bullpen for October- the trade is eerily similar to the one Chicago made with the A’s two years ago, when Oakland traded minor league SS Addison Russell to the Cubs for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

12) Since the All-Star break, under is 87-54 in major league baseball.

11) I’d be surprised if the Miami Heat gives out uniform #3 this year– Dwyane Wade is best player in Miami history, I’d hope they’d let that number sit for a while until another Heat player was allowed to wear it.

10) Was surprised to learn that Toronto is the 5th-largest city in North America.

9) Cardinals-Mets got rained out last night, will play a twinbill today.

8) Texas Rangers 1B Prince Fielder is out for the year with a neck injury, second time in three years that has happened to him. Rangers owe him $96M over the next four years– back end of a lot of these huge contracts are really disasters.

7) Chris Sale will pitch against the Cubs Thursday, first day after his suspension is lifted– would be funny if the White Sox went with those blue throwbacks again for his first game back. Weird situation– the guy makes $9.15M a year- for that much money, I’d play ball in pajamas if they wanted me to.

6) Speaking of the White Sox, they won their last three games on walk-offs; last time they did that was way back in 1962,

5) Its good to coach the King: Tyronn Lue gets $35M for five years from the Cavs.

4) Quote of the Day, part 2, from Miami Heat’s Tyler Johnson, who now will make $12.5M year for the next four years:

“I threw up a couple of times when I heard the number go out there. I was in shock. I even lost a little bit of weight, because just the anxiety of going through that whole process and not knowing where I was going to be.”

3) Eight or nine years ago, former Tonight Show sidekick Ed McMahon wasn’t doing well late in his life– his California home was about to be foreclosed on, he couldn’t make the payments and in his 80’s, he was close to becoming homeless.

A stranger who didn’t know McMahon personally read about this– he stepped up, bought the house and allowed McMahon to live there until he passed away in 2009. Damn nice thing to do and he did it just to help an aging star out late in his life.

That man was Donald Trump.

2) NFL re-instated Cleveland WR Josh Gordon from his one suspension, but he still has to sit out the first four games of this year. If he is back to playing form and not messed up, Gordon can really help the Cleveland passing game.

1) Thanks to Ken Thomson of SportsXRadio for having me in studio as his guest last night. Ken is a better radio host than most guys on the national scene- he is extremely knowledgeable and a good guy too.

Monday’s List of 13: Happy birthday to Biff Pocoroba…..

13) Today is Biff Pocoroba’s 63rd birthday— he played 10 injury-plagued years for the Braves, making the All-Star team in 1978. He was an excellent knuckleball catcher when Atlanta had Phil Niekro and he was one of my boyhood heroes.

12) So I’m watching the Dodger game in a sportsbook last night- they score six runs in first inning, so I decide, screw it, I jump in a cab and go downtown to watch Reno-Las Vegas minor league baseball game. It was 111 when I got to the ballpark.

Thats 111 degrees, as in, really, really damn hot.

11) Good ballgame; Shelby Miller pitched for Reno and he doesn’t look too good. There is a 20-second clock in between pitches which doesn’t come into play.

10) Jose Altuve went 20-37 last week; he’s a tremendous hitter.

9) USA (-48.5) 106, China 57– Americans cover by a half-point. Best part of the Olympic basketball games will be the games the Americans aren’t in.

8) Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls coaching the Redskins, and now is one of the best owners in NASCAR; has anyone else ever been such a force in two different sports? Interesting career change and he is still going strong.

7) Interesting trade in our fantasy league: Braun for McCutchen, straight up. Unsure who got the best of it, or if it is just an even trade.

6) Home team won the Angels’ last eleven games.

5) Astros called prize prospect Alex Bregman up for tonight’s game; looks like he will play leftfield, with third base reserved for the Cuban free agent Gurriel who should be playing minor league games to get ready fairly soon.

4) St Louis Cardinals became last big league team to use a sixth starting pitcher last night; the kid was making his MLB debut and things didn’t go well- he allowed nine runs and got only four outs.

3) Hartford Yard Goats are the Rockies’ AA team; they haven’t played any games in Hartford this year, because construction of their new stadium is a debacle. The Yard Goats are 55-44, which is a real credit to manager Darin Everson.

2) Wonder how much VISA is paying to put its ad on Argentina’s hoop uniforms for the Olympics?

1) Remember, I’m on Sports X Radio tonight from 10-12 in the East, 7-9 here in the west and 5-7 in Hawai’i. It is sports radio at its finest!!!!

 

Sunday’s List of 13: Random stuff on a summer Sunday……

13) Chicago White Sox were supposed to wear 1977 throwback jerseys last night, dark blue with a collar, until starting pitcher Chris Sale cut them up, rendering them useless. Sale, the team’s star pitcher, was sent home– he claims the team cares more an about marketing and jersey sales than it does about winning.

12) Lot of teams have their starting pitcher pick the jersey the team wears for each game, but the White Sox do not. Game wound up getting suspended after the eighth inning because of rain with score tied 3-3; it will be finished today.

It is unclear if this increases the chances of the White Sox trading Sale.

11) I’m guessing Sale won’t get traded to Arizona— the Diamondbacks have eight sets of uniforms they wear.

10) I had never heard of this before; we pay $430K a year to maintain an office staff for former President Jimmy Carter, $1.1M a year for GW Bush. There is a law going around that would cap such expenses at $200,000— that one needs to pass.

9) Second night in a row, the person in next room in this hotel is snoring so damn loud I can hear it thru the wall. Not sure how they can sleep while snoring so loud

8) Its a little weird sitting in the sportsbook and seeing horse races from Saratoga— I live 20 miles fom there, but here I am, 2.300 miles away watching the races on a big screen. Lot of people will be coming into the Albany area for the next month to go to Saratoga and watch the horses run.

7) Few years ago, Pete Rose made a guest appearance signing autographs at one of the two big malls in the Albany area on the morning of Saratoga’s Opening Day. Don’t have to be Columbo to figure out that wasn’t a coincidence.

6) I made my pilgrimage to In ‘n Out Burger Saturday, one of my favorite fast food places that is a west coast thing. Tremendous milkshakes. Person who owns those is basically making a fortune- the place is always crowded.

5) Overmanaging 101— A’s were losing 3-1 to Tampa Bay in last inning last night; Tampa reliever Matt Andriese had shut Oakland down in 7th/8th inning, with a pair of 1-2-3 innings, but the Rays put their closer in for the ninth inning, and A’s got homers from Smolinski and Healy to walk-off with a 4-3 win.

4) Duke-UNLV at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on December 10. Back in the Dave Rice era at UNLV, they upset North Carolina in the Orleans Arena, and the locals’ expectations went thru the roof, figuring they would make the Final Four, and it helped drag Rice’s program down. UNLV fans have to have lower expectations; the Jerry Tarkanian era was a once-in a-lifetime thing.

Making the NCAAs would be a great thing. San Diego State dominates the Mountain West and they haven’t made it to the Final Four.

3) Dallas Cowboys have finshed under its win total in four of their last five years

2) Kentucky’s football team got a new $45M practice facility this year. Lot of cash gets thrown around upgrading facilities, which helps in recruiting.

1) I’m going to be a guest on Sports X Radio Monday night at 10pm in the east, 7pm in the west, 5pm in Hawai’i. Ken Thomson is the host; he has a great show so it is well worth your while to listen in. What could be better than listening to me??? 🙂

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

13) We mentioned yesterday how the Florida Sons were a pretty good AAU hoop team; turns out one of their players, Anthony Caldwell, is nephew of Jacksonville Jaguars’ GM David Caldwell. Pretty good shooter young Mr Caldwell is.

12) RIP Dennis Green, 67, former coach of the Cardinals/Vikings; he went 113-94 in 13 years as an NFL head coach. When you win more than you lose as an NFL head coach, thats a damn good record.

11) Found an excellent pizza place here in Las Vegas; Naked City Pizza, which has three locations– I was at the one on Paradise Road Friday. Assistant coaches from Colorado State and North Florida were also there enjoying the square slices of pizza.

10) You dunk in an AAU game and break a backboard, it is on social media within three minutes; just the way the world works now. Everything is so fast.

9) USA (-29.5) 111, Argentina 74— These are not fun games to watch, just like the Georgetown-St Leo’s-type pre-conference games in November aren’t much fun.

8) That just reminded me of something I forgot to write here; when I was at the Marlins-Phillies game in May, our seats were right next to the ballgirl in rightfield, so we talked during the game. Young lady played softball at St Leo’s College in Florida, a school in rural Florida that has a beautiful campus.

When I was in college 1,000 years ago, our team took a trip to Florida and played the Monarchs, who apparently are now known as the Lions. They weren’t very good, but apparently they have a good baseball team. Bob Tewksbury pitched there.

7) San Francisco Giants played the Red Sox during week, then took the train from Boston to New York for their weekend series in the Bronx.

6) Democratic Vice Presidnetial hopeful Tim Caine plays the harmonica so well that he has played with Bruce Hornsby and his band. Now he gets to play second fiddle; wonder if he talked to Al Gore about working with the Clintons.

5) Rollie Fingers had 201 saves of 4+ outs in his Hall of Fame career; Rich Gossage had 193, Mariano Rivera 116. Active leader? Jonathan Papelbon, with 37.

4) David Ortiz, Bartolo Colon and Alex Rodriguez all played in the major leagues before the Tampa Bay Rays ever existed.

3) NBA pulled the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte over a political issue; the world is slowly going crazy and this is one more example of it.

2) Possible trade chip Julio Teheran left the Atlanta-Colorado game after facing one batter in the fifth inning with right lat tightness. Trade deadline is nine days away.

1) A’s 1, Rays 0 (13)– Tampa Bay scored 28 runs in their last three games, then gets shut out for 13 innings, eight by rookie lefty Sean Manaea. Go figure.

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

13) Saw a kid shatter a backboard dunking today, the highlight of my full day inside the Cashman Center, watching the adidas Uprising summer tournament. As soon as I figure out how to post pictures on this website, that’ll be the first one I post.

12) ACC basketball will go to a 20-game conference schedule when ACC Network gets off the ground, to create more programming.

11) Most of the games I watched on Thursday were tight, competitive games, good basketball. Louisville Magic were a solid team with lot of good players; they got off to bad starts in both games I saw, but kept their poise and rallied both times- they lost to a very good Florida Sons team, after beating the Atlanta Celtics.

10) AAU players play a ton of games and they get seen by D-I coaches, which is essential to getting scholarship offers, but some of these kids would be better off at home, working on their skills, or becoming quicker, or stronger.

9) Couple years ago I went to a JC showcase at a boys’ club, with only one court and about 30 coaches, mostly low majors, looking to find a diamond in the rough. It was a little bit sad, kids on their last chance for a college scholarship. One kid blew his knee out, undoubtedly ending his career. Not good.

8) Saw two kids this week step out of the bounds on the sideline while catching ball and getting ready to shoot a 3-pointer. Last time I had seen that was in an 8th grade game– you have to know where you are on the court.

7) Utah-BYU will renew their rivalry next year (2017-18) which is good news, since they basically despise each other, which is always fun.

6) Referees huddle with supervisors during timeouts; one guy called three seconds 1:28 into a game— good lord, no one came here to watch you ref.

That said, most of the officiating was good– these are really good players and they’re fast and the games get physical. but please stop with the three seconds calls.

5) In 15 hours of watching games this week, I didn’t see one technical foul; the kids were all well-behaved, the coaches didn’t act out too much. Good to watch.

4) One thing: teams that attack the basket get more calls; if you just pass the ball around the arc then jack a 3-pointer, you’re not gong to get calls. Drive to the basket, be aggressive and you will get to the foul line more often.

3) Hubert Davis: “When I was a kid, I went to one week of basketball camp, then played pickup the rest of the summer”. Times have changed.

2) I like to watch teams that press; you get to see how players defend, handle ball, make quick decisions, pass, shoot, run, defend. Only bad thing is that big kids suffer in these fast-paced games- they rarely touch the ball unless they rebound it.

1) Saw a promising 7-footer from Louisville, Chris Vogt, who has a soft touch around the hoop but he needs to get stronger, which will come with age. Smart kid; he told me Yale, Vanderbilt are among the teams vying for his services.

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

13) Mariners 6, White Sox 5 (11)– Can’t remember ever seeing a pitcher, umpire go at it over balls/strikes in first inning of a game. Plate ump Andy Fletcher blatantly missed a 3-2 pitch to Justin Morneau that put two on with two out in the first inning, and Hernandez let him have it, with Fletcher taking off his mask and yelling back.

When Todd Frazier hit the next pitch for a 3-run homer, Felix’ return from the DL was off to a very bad start.

12) RIP Garry Marshall— A TV genius in the 70s and also a movie maker, he passed away this week at age 81. Odd Couple, Happy Days, Laverne/Shirley, Runaway Bride, just some of Marshall’s handiwork. RIP, sir.

11) New Orleans Saints rookies are already in training camp at Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia- their first regular season game isn’t until September 11th.

10) James Loney got thrown out at the plate in top of 4th inning with Mets down 3-0 Wednesday, but replays showed he was safe, but the Mets never challenged the call. No bueno. Some teams have much better replay coaches than others.

9) So I spent much of Wednesday and will spend all day today at the adidas Uprising basketball tournament in downtown Las Vegas; saw lot of good games last night, lot of good players. Seven games going on at once under one roof in the Cashman Center, a convention center next to the ballpark where the Mets’ AAA team plays.

8) Very well-run event; good officials, a main court where the game is shown on a big screen on the wall, comfortable place to watch kids play ball. Lot of the coaches you see on TV all winter were there to recruit- this is the last part of this recruiting season.

Player of the Game is brought to a platform where he is interviewed on camera, which is a good prep for when he goes to college and meets the press.

7) With seven games going on at once, how do you choose which game to watch? If you want to see elite players, you look at which big-name coaches are watching each game. If Tom Izzo and Lon Kruger are at one court, thats a good place to be.

If you just want to be comfortable, then pick one spot, stay there and hope the games on that court turn out to be good ones. There are so many good players, the games I saw were mostly all hard-fought, competitive games.

6) For kids playing this week, their goal is to get a college scholarship, or land one at as good a basketball program as possible.

One way not to get a scholarship is this: Your team is up 3 with 0:57 left, shot clock is at 0:19– ball is reversed to you and you quickly jack up a 3-pointer, when the play is to hold the ball, milk the clock– you can get a 3-pointer anytime.

Basketball IQ is a valuable asset to impress coaches with.

5) Surprisingly, the 30-second shot clock came into play a few times; you’d think in AAU games, it would be very fast-paced, but couple teams put on 1-2-2 presses and that slowed their opponents down, so the shot clock did matter.

I was talking to a high school coach from Georgia; his son had never played with a shot clock during his high school career, so this was all new to him.

4) A team from Virginia subbed five guys at a time, which makes it tough when a close game comes down to the wire, because which five do you play, or do you mix/match and have kids play together who haven’t played together the whole game? This team got beat at the end by a Minnesota team that probably wasn’t the better team.

3) One of my cab drivers is from Iraq; his English wasn’t good, but I asked him what he thought about Donald Trump when he drove past the Trump Hotel, which is just off the Las Vegas Strip. He didn’t want to answer, saying “my English isn’t too good”. He has only been in America three years– he was a pleasant guy.

2) Had chance to talk with North Carolina assistant coach Hubert Davis for a few minutes– terrific guy. He enjoys coaching more than he did working on ESPN– he did not like the travel too much that came with working on television.

1) I’ll have a lot more on this tomorrow, but championship game of this event will be Sunday at 6:00 ET on ESPNU.

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

13) Ex-St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for hacking into Houston Astros’ computer personnel database. Correa did this roughly 60 times- he had previously worked for the Astros.

12) Unrelated note: Cardinals are only major league team that is over .500 despite being under .500 at home- they’re 21-28 at home, 48-44 overall.

11) MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki pointed out that this is first Presidential convention that was held in the arena of the defending NBA champ since the Democrats held their 2000 convention in Los Angeles.

10) ESPN will start the ACC Network in 2019, for better or for worse. It’ll be really, really good during basketball season. Football? Not sure we need Syracuse-Virginia replays, but thats what they’ll be showing.

9) It costs $8M to host a Presidential debate. Wright State in Dayton backed out of hosting the first debate in September for financial reasons, so now Hofstra on Long Island will host the first debate, which will be must-see TV.

8) Here at the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas, my vacation home this week, the over/under on Golden State Warrior wins next year is listed at 67.5.

7) Winner of the Westgate NFL Handicapping contest last year took home $914,175 for his $1,500 investment.

6) Dodger games are blacked out here in Las Vegas; it makes no sense. If the new MLB commish can allow everyone to wear white baseball shoes now, he can allow Dodger games to be shown in Vegas, where lot of LA fans come for their vacation.

5) Felix Hernandez’ brother is pitching coach for the Mariners’ Class A team in Everett, WA. I’m guessing his job is safe as long as King Felix is a Mariner.

4) There have been 133 homers hit at Safeco Field this year, most of any AL park and thats more than a little surprising.

3) Phoenix Suns will play “home games” against the Spurs, Mavericks next season in Mexico City. Two marquee games their home fans get cheated out of seeing.

2) Jets should just trade a 7th-round draft pick to the Rams for Nick Foles, then cut bait with holdout QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. When your QB is holding out on July 20, thats no way to begin a successful season.

1) I’m thinking Jim Grobe will do just fine coaching Baylor. Ten years ago, he had Wake Forest playing in the Orange Bowl– he had a three-year, 28-12 run with the Deacons, and if you can win like that at Wake Forest, you can damn sure coach.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Looking at Mountain West football……

Air Force— 9-2-1 vs spread at home last two years; they were +22 in turnovers back in 2009, re -16 since then. Lost three of last four bowls, allowing 38.8 ppg; are 7-16 vs spead coming off a loss.

Boise State— 27-4 SU in Mountain West last five years; won four of last five bowls (3-1 vs Pac-12 teams). Are only 11-20 as home favorite since 2011, 4-3 as underdogs last decade, 9-3 vs spread coming off a loss. +76 in turnovers last seven years.

Colorado State— Rams are 12-4 as home favorites since ’12, 10-18 as road underdog since ’08. State is 16-9 SU in league snce ’13- they lost 45-10/28-23 in last two bowls. Underdog is 3-1-1 vs spread in their last five games with Colorado.

Fresno State— Bulldogs are 9-17 last two years; their 3-9 record LY was worst since 1978. Fresno is 12-7 as home favorite under DeRuyter, but 6-11 as home dog since 2006. Fresno lost its last five bowl games, last four by 23+ points.

Hawai’i— Last bowl was in 2010, last bowl win in ’06; new coach is an alum. Open this season in Australia, against Cal. Rainbows are 1-6 as home favorite, 6-11 as dog at home- they were last favored on road in 2011. Are -54 in turnovers last four years.

Nevada— Covered 10 of last 12 road games, six of last seven as road dog; they’re 14-4 vs spread coming off a loss. Are 18-20 SU last three years, despite its +27 turnover ratio. Wolf Pack lost three of last four bowls, has 10 starters back on offense.

UNLV— 32-92 SU last 10 years, 20-59 in league. Rebels are 13-5 as road dogs the last three years, 1-8 as home dogs last since ’14. Have JC QB who was at Nebraska, so he knows Cotton’s offense. Have been to one bowl since 2000, lost that one.

New Mexico— 18-32 under Davie (3-33 three years before him). LY was first bowl since ’07; are 10-5 as road underdog since then, but 15-21-1 as home dog. Last bowl they were in that wasn’t on home field was in 2004- have 10 starters back on defense.

San Diego State— Were +22 in turnovers LY, after being -16 previous six seasons. Aztecs are 6-2 as road favorite since ’12, 16-7-1 off win since ’13- they’re 2-3 in last five bowls (were favored in 4 of 5). State is 13-15 as home favorite under Long. .

San Jose State— Favorites covered 20 of their last 24 games; covered 8 of last 10 as favorite; they’re 1-9 vs spread in last 10 games as road dog. Spartans won last four bowls; last bowl loss was in ’87. State is -22 in turnovers last three years.

Utah State— Won 23 of last 26 home games, have only three defensive starters back this year. Aggies are 27-13 as road dogs since ’07, 12-8 as home favorites since 2012. Have had a new offensive and new defensive coordinator in each of last three years.

Wyoming— Last bowl was in 2011; last bowl win was in ’09. 8-14 vs spread in last 22 home games; 4-8 as home faves since ’12. Had only 7 seniors LY, have 18 now, and 17 starters back. Cowboys are 24-11 as road underdogs since 2009.

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

13) Justin Marks pitched a no-hitter this week for Durham Bulls, the Rays’ AAA team, but he musn’t be a big prospect, seeing as they let him throw 130 pitches in the game. Marks is 28; he is 3-10, 3.73 in the IL this year and has a 36-63, 4.61 career mark in minor leagues. He has pitched in one big league game (2 IP, 3 runs allowed).

12) Durham has another AAA starter, Jaime Schultz- they keep him on a pitch limitso he is viewed as a prospect, since they’re limiting his usage. Schultz’ problem is that he goes into a lot of deep counts and 75 pitches often doesn’t get him too far. Nine of first 13 batters he faced Sunday either walked or struck out- he threw 87 pitches in Sunday’s game and didn’t finish the fourth inning. No bueno. .

11) Weird British Open; Stenson finished at -20, Mickelson was -17 and third place was -6. Not often you scoring disparity like that, but Stenson/Mickelson have played together 16 times in tournaments, so they’re comfortable in same twosome.

10) Stenson had seven top-5’s in majors before his win; last golfer to do that was his playing partner Sunday, Mickelson.

9) Bronx Bombers haven’t scored a first inning run in their last 21 games.

8) Archie Bradley pitched well for Arizona Saturday night, allowing one run in six IP, throwing 106 pitches, but he only induced two misses on 41 swings, after he had induced 32 misses on 129 swings in his previous three starts. When lot of balls are put into play, it puts more pressure on your defense.

7) By contrast, in his last two starts, Justin Verlander has induced 39 misses on 103 swings and thats in DH games where pitchers don’t bat.

6) Daniel Murphy (hamstring) hadn’t played since the All-Star Game, but homered with two outs in 9th inning to tie game 1-1. Game wound up going another nine innings before Pittsburgh won 2-1 in the 18th on a Sterling Marte homer

5) Over last four years, over is 69-38 when Jerry Meals umps home plate, so it made no sense that Meals was behind the plate for the marathon on Washington.

4) Lot of low scoring games Sunday; three NL games were 0-0 after five innings. Under wound up 9-5-1 in Sunday’s games.

3) Giancarlo Stanton went thru a long, dismal slump at the plate which now appears to be over, but he has played a stellar rightfield all season long. He made a diving catch going towards the RF corner with two men on Saturday that saved couple of runs.

2) First round matchups for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off hoop tourney in November:
— Clemson-Davidson, Xavier-Missouri, Northern Iowa-Arizona State and Tulane-Oklahoma…..Xavier-Oklahoma would be the expected finals matchup????

1) If the playoffs started today………
NL: Nationals-Cubs-Giants. Wild Card: Dodgers vs Miami or Mets
AL: Orioles-Indians-Rangers. Wild Card: Boston-Toronto

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

13) RIP Nate Thurmond, an outstanding NBA big man in the 60’s/70s who spent lot of his career battling Wilt Chamberlain/Bill Russell under the boards. He was 74.

12) When I was 12 years old, I got this pair of red, canvas hi-top sneakers endorsed by Nate Thurmond. They were excellent.

This was when Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star canvas sneakers were all the rage, but it also was the year before they starting selling them in different colors, so I was the tall, awkward kid playing first base in Little League with red sneakers.

11) Thurmond averaged 15 ppg, 15 ppg in his 14-year career, but scored 20 ppg five years in row, from 1967-72. He played 11 years for the Warriors, but was traded away in September 1974, the fall before Golden State won the NBA championship. Thurmond, who went to Bowling Green, was traded to Chicago on September 3, 1974 for Clifford Ray and a first round draft pick, who became Joe Bryant.

You may or may not have heard of Joe Bryant, but I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of his son, a pretty good player named Kobe.

Anyway, RIP Mr Thurmond. You were an underappreciated player.

10) Of the nine guys who started for the Cubs Friday, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell were the only two guys who played the same position on Saturday.

9) Saturday morning, Mike Pence was introduced as the Republican VP candidate in New York City; later in day, he and his family had lunch at Chili’s before heading back home to Indiana, igniting a small firestorm on social media.

People get nutty about the smallest things; this spring I yapped about John Kasich eating pizza with a fork, which you do not do, ever. But then again, I’m an idiot.

8) A team doctor with the Cubs told pitcher Jason Hammel to eat potato chips to avoid cramping because of the potassium and sea salt. Who knew/?!?!?!?!?

7) MLB wants managers, GMs to stop carping about balls/strikes. MLB executive Joe Torre sent a memo Friday to managers and front office staff that said: ”This highly inappropriate conduct is detrimental to the game and must stop immediately.”

6) Houston Astros signed Cuban free agent infielder Yulieski Gurriel to a major-league contract worth $47.5 million for five years. He is 32, is said to be an excellent hitter.

5) Korean pro baseball league had a bunting contest as part of its All-Star Game festivities, complete with targets laid down on the infield grass. Not a bad idea.

4) Through four weeks of the CFL season, underdogs are 11-2 vs spread, home teams are 2-13-1, over is 5-10-1.

3) Angels 1, White Sox 0— Chicago has been blanked three games in row for first time since 1968, the year before they lowered the pitchers’ mound.

2) White Sox are 12-9 in their last 21 games, they were shut out in six of last seven losses. Chicago hasn’t scored in 32 straight innings; the franchise record is 39.

1) White Sox became 132nd team since 1913 to have been shut out in at least three straight games; nine teams have been shut out in four straight games, last of which were 1992 Cubs. Jered Weaver pitches against the Sox today in Anaheim.