Wednesday’s List of 13: Our readers have their say……

The other day, I posed this question: “If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?” Here are the answer some of my readers provided…….

13) Unretired Buckeye: “Fix the mess we’ve caused with the environment/climate.”

12) The Professor agrees: “Gotta do something seriously about climate change, and fast.”

11) Then there is this from Baseball Guy: “I’d get rid of the designated hitter. I hate the DH more than I hate climate change.”

10) Football dad: “I wouldn’t have bit on a fake in my last HS football game and I would’ve intercepted the pass that turned into the game-winning TD for our arch-rivals.”

9) Rebel Girl: “As cheesy as it sounds, world peace would be wonderful.”

8) Santa Monica’s finest: “People would have a fundamental understanding/appreciation for liberty— what it is, why it is important and why it must be upheld.”

7) Sean F: “The next President of the United States.”

6) Wolf Pack mom: “Too many people are shady, mean and cruel. We need harder laws and tougher punishments.”

5) JJ Arias: “#people”

4) Bartending Engineer: “Human equality. People should be all be treated the same, regardless of age, sex, religion. The fact that they’re not is ridiculous.”

3) Bayou Babe: “I’d change myself, make myself bolder, fiercer, more charismatic, fearless.”

2) Basketball dad: “I’d let kids go straight from high school to the NBA, just like Lebron did. Kids playing one year of college ball is a farce and hurts both college ball and the NBA.”

1) Me: “I wish we would treat each other with more respect and a tolerance of our differences.”

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

13) I think the world of Cam Newton as a football player; he is fun to watch, wins a lot of games, but there is one thing he is missing out on— how not to take the media personally. They love the winners and grill the losers, thats why quarterbacks make the big bucks.

Here is a quote from the great football movie, Any Given Sunday. Delivered by Al Pacino’s character (the coach) to Jamie Foxx (the QB):

“You’re a goddamn quarterback! You know what that means? It’s the top spot, kid. It’s the guy who takes the fall. It’s the guy everybody’s looking at first – the leader of a team – who will support you when they understand you. Who will break their ribs and their noses and their necks for you, because they believe. ‘Cause you make them believe. That’s a quarterback.”

Kill the media with cliches, Cam. Listen to Belichick just drone on and on— you think HE likes to lose? No one likes to freakin’ lose, but dealing with the media after a loss is part of being a professional QB who makes millions of dollars. It is part of the job.

12) Ben Roethlisberger had his left knee operated on Monday, they’re not saying how long he is expected to be out. Steelers have a bye week soon. Landry Jones is the starting QB until Big Ben returns.

11) There was a rare victory for common sense Monday; a young man named Isaiah Brock spent four years in the Army, but then got out and wanted to play college basketball at Oakland in the Horizon League. Problem is, the NCAA red-flagged him because of some course he took in 9th or 10th grade— he was ruled ineligible.

Isaiah Brock’s job in the Army? Taking dead soldiers from the battlefield and preparing them to have honorable burials. If anyone deserved a break, it is this guy.

Some national media got ahold of the story, publicized it, people realized how stupid the whole thing was, Oakland appealed……and now Mr Brock is on scholarship and eligible to play for the Grizzlies this season. It is a happy resolution where common sense scores a win.

10) Toronto pitcher JA Happ had a 62-61 career record coming into this season; then at age 33, he went 20-4 this year. Curious to see how he does next year.

9) San Diego Chargers have had Dan Fouts-John Unitas-Drew Brees-John Hadl and Philip Rivers all play for them, but their only Super Bowl appearance was when Stan Humphries was their quarterback.

8) Some football coaches are gypsies; Marty Mornhinweg is Ravens’ 5th offensive coordinator in the last five years. Dan Mullen has had six defensive coordinators in his eight years at Mississippi State.

7) I’m not fond of the NBA rule where if you get the ball in the backcourt and call timeout, you can inbound the ball in the frontcourt— creates artificial chances for late game drama. It has existed for years— I just think it cheapens the game.

6) Why is Trevor Bauer flying a drone? I had to ask someone what a drone even was, as far as a normal person having one. Indians’ pitcher cut his hand on a drone last week and had to have his ALCS start pushed back to Monday, then he had to leave in the first inning.

5) Last summer, i had a cab driver in Las Vegas who said he didn’t know where the Strip was. I’m not kidding, he is driving me from Cashman Center downtown to the Westgate Hotel— his GPS tells him to get on the Strip, and he says he doesn’t know where that is.

He said he was from iraq; I was diplomatic about it- “it is the long street with all the tall buildings with really, really bright lights”.

We got on the freeway instead and drove past Trump Hotel; i asked him about Donald, he didn’t answer me. How the bleep can you drive a cab in Las Vegas and not know where the Strip is?

4) JR Smith gets $57M for four years from Cleveland; it is good to have Lebron as a teammate.

3) Was surprised to see some quotes/stories leaking out of South Bend suggesting that Notre Dame players have tired of playing for coach Brian Kelly, citing “a culture of criticism…..” in the irish program.

If you know me, you know I NEVER root for Notre Dame football, but Kelly is a quality coach who won national titles at lower levels of college ball. Has our society gotten so soft that a coach can’t criticize his players anymore? it is bad for everyone involved if the team quit on him; you wonder if Kelly would surface in the NFL.

I’m assuming NFL coaches are still allowed to criticize players.

2) Odd scheduling quirk: Baltimore Ravens are playing in Swamp Stadium in New Jersey two weeks in a row; they lost 27-23 to Giants Sunday, visit the Jets this Sunday.

1) Miguel Montero hit a grand slam Saturday after an intentional walk, the first time that happened in the postseason since 2011, when Paul Goldschmidt hit a grand slam after an intentional walk…..to Miguel Montero.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Patriots 35, Bengals 17— New England averaged 9.6, 9.4 yds/pass attempt in Brady’s first two games back; only 10 their 61 plays in this game came on 3rd down. Cincinnati has lost four of its last five games, allowed 8 TDs on foes’ last 16 drives.

Titans 28, Browns 26— Bad beat if you laid 7.5 with Tennessee; Browns scored 13 points in last 2:07 to cover spread, as they fall to 0-6 SU (3-3 vs spread). Titans averaged 10.4 yards/pass attempt, best in league so far this week. Browns went 3/out seven times, scored the other five times (three TD, two FG) they had the ball.

Giants 27, Ravens 23— All six Raven games were decided by 6 or less points. Baltimore scored with 2:04 left to take lead, but neglected to cover Beckham (DB fell down) on a 4th-and-1 a few minutes later and he went 66 yards for GW TD. Beckham caught eight balls for 222 yards and two TDs.

Lions 31, Rams 28— All six Detroit games were decided by 7 or less points; their three home games were decided by a total of five points.

Bills 45, 49ers 16— When Buffalo fired their OC after Week 2, they said they wanted to run the ball more; Bills won their fourth straight game here, running ball 44 times for 312 yards- they converted 8-13 on 3rd down, have outscored last three opponents 45-9 in second half.

Saints 41, Panthers 38— New Orleans led 21-0 with 4:00 left in first half, but Carolina tied game with 2:58 left in game, before Saints hit 52-yard FG with 0:11 left for the win. Saints won their last two games, despite allowing 72 points in those games- they’ve allowed 34+ points in four of five games. Defending NFC champs are 1-5.

Redskins 27, Eagles 20— Philly scored two TDs, one on the NFL’s first TD on a kick return this year, then the defense scored one, but the Eagle offense ran 45 plays for 239 yards; they had 114 yards in penalties, no TDs, as Washington had 67-45 edge in plays run. Yardage here was 493-239. Redskins, like Buffalo, have now won four in a row after an 0-2 start.

Dolphins 30, Steelers 15— Miami was +2 in turnovers, had 14-yard edge in field position and beat Pittsburgh for just second time in last seven meetings, first time at home since 1998. Yardage was 474-297 Miami; after the game, Steelers said Roethlisberger will have an MRI on his knee, which would make Landry Jones the starter next week.

Jaguars 17, Bears 16— Chicago was in red zone four times, but scored only one TD; they led 13-0 after three quarters, but left door open for Jaguars, who hit a 51-yard TD pass with 2:49 left  for a stunning comeback win. Bears were +2 in turnovers but had 10 penalties for 87 yards.

Chiefs 26, Raiders 10— Andy Reid is now 16-2 SU off a bye week, 12-4 vs spread in last 16 post-bye games; his Chiefs ran ball for 183 yards on a rainy day in Oakland. KC has now won six of last seven games against its arch-rival, winning four of last six visits to Oakland.

Cowboys 30, Packers 16— Its none of my business, but Dak Prescott has to stay the starting QB in Dallas, as long as they keep playing like this- they waxed the Packers on the day when Brett Favre got his Hall of Fame ring. Cowboys won/covered five games in a row with a rookie QB drafted in the fourth round. Highly unlikely story.

Seahawks 27, Falcons 26— Refs swallowed their whistle on Falcons’ last gasp pass to Julio Jones— Sherman grabbed his arm, no flag was thrown. Seattle led 17-3 at the half, but Atlanta stormed back and had ball around midfield up 24-23 with 4:00 left, before Ryan threw a pick that turned game in Seahawks’ favor. Falcons gained 269 yards in this game, just in the third quarter. These teams could meet again in January.

Texans 26, Colts 23 OT– Indy led 23-9 with under 4:00 left, then Texans came alive and Osweiler gets a big win, keeping Houston alone in first in AFC South. Next week the Texans head to Denver, Osweiler’s homecoming after he bolted the Broncos last winter. Bad loss for Indy, just a game you cannot lose, being up 14 points in last 4:00.

 

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

13) Clemson 24, NC State 17 OT— Tigers GOT SO LUCKY in this game; Wolfpack had a 33-yard FG to win it at the gun, but the kicker choked and pushed it wide right. Clemson should drop in the polls this week; key word there is “should”.

12) Arkansas 34, Ole Miss 30— Want to thank both teams for 3.5 hours of solid entertainment. Didn’t care who won, but it was a close, interesting game between two good teams, and it was fun to watch. I’m not a big fan of Arkansas coach Bielema, who is now 8-19 in SEC games, but this is a solid win for him.

11) Upset of the Day: Syracuse (+19.5) 31. Virginia Tech 17— Dino Babers gave an emotional post-game talk to his team, where he quoted the Vegas spread on this game. Go find it on the Interweb, it is worth it. Will he recruit well enough/stay long enough to make the Orangemen relevant?

10) Stanford 17, Notre Dame 10— Cardinal star McCaffery didn’t play, Irish led 10-0 before Stanford scored a defensive TD, then a safety. Notre Dame is now 2-5; this was a very bad loss, after the Washington schools eviscerated Stanford the last two weeks.

Random tangent: Why doesn’t NBC have Notre Dame alums doing color on Notre Dame games? Have a different guy do it every home game: Theismann, Golic, Tim Brown, Ismail, Bettis, Reggie Ho. Doug Flutie went to BC; why is he on there?

9) Temple 26, Central Florida 25— Knights led 25-7, I turned game off but Owls rallied for the win, scoring GW TD with 0:01 left. AAC games are oddly entertaining.

Houston 38, Tulsa 31– 21-point favorite Cougars stopped Tulsa on the one-yard line on the last play of the game.

8) Northwestern 54, Michigan State 40— Wildcats have now covered seven games in a row in East Lansing, winning five of the seven SU. No explanation for this, but wheels have fallen off for Michigan State this season- they’ve now lost four games in a row.

7) Indians 2, Blue Jays 1— Teams head to Canada with Cleveland up 2-0. Andrew Miller is first reliever EVER with 5+ strikeouts in consecutive playoff games.

Cubs 7, Dodgers 3— I had Miguel Montero on my fantasy team this summer and was happy to get two pick ups from the scrap heap for him in a trade; now he is a playoff hero. Life makes no sense sometimes.

Cubs last won a World Series in 1908; the last living player from that team passed away……in 1961. Indians haven’t won a Series since 1948. Lot of anxiety in those two fanbases.

6) North Carolina 20, Miami 13— Not many teams beat Florida State/Miami in same year; both UNC wins came on road (and they lost 34-3 at home in the game between those two- go figure). Huge win for Larry Fedora’s program; hats off to him!!!

5) Eastern Michigan 27, Ohio U 20— Tip of the Armadillo’s cap to Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton, who was a QB in his playing days at D-III Kenyon College (Shaka Smart’s alma mater). From 2012-15, Eastern was 7-41; they’re 5-2 this year, one win from the Eagles’ first bowl game since 1987 (their only bowl game). Mr Creighton is going to get some job offers.

4) Alabama 49, Tennessee 10— On last four Satudays, Vols played Florida-Georgia-Texas A&M-Alabama; no off weeks, way too tough a stretch for a college team. Alabama just killed them here, running ball for 438 yards on 49 carries. Now the Vols can regroup during a bye week and finish their season strong. Whoever made Tennessee’s schedule needs a pay cut.

3) Whoever invented the TV camera-in-the-pylon thing deserves a pay raise. They get some interesting views from that camera in the end zone.

2) Ohio State 30, Wisconsin 23 OT– Coaches get more out of close wins than routs; Buckeyes survived a stiff test here, made them a better team. Tough loss for the Badgers, who played their hearts out.

1) Florida State 17, Wake Forest 6— Much like Tennessee, Seminoles need a week off to get healthy and just recharge some- they’re off this week, then play Clemson. Watching the reality show about FSU on Showtime, they seem like a tired group, maybe with not as much depth as recent years.

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

13) Derrick Rose is 28 years old; at the end of this season, he will have earned $117M in salary in his career, not counting his immense sneaker contract and other endorsements. He should be sitting on the top of the world, without any cares except his playing career and his family.

Yet there he is, sitting in a courtroom in Los Angeles, the defendant in a $21M civil suit filed by an ex-girlfriend. Young people who get so rich, so quickly need to hire a life coach, someone to advise them on the pitfalls of fame and fortune, because there are many.

Being really, really rich makes you a target for parasites, being a celebrity means everything you do is fodder for social media and the nightly news. Be above reproach, because given the chance, people will come after you and try to syphon off some of your wealth for their own pockets.

I have zero idea what the truth is in the Rose matter; i just know if I’m advising Mr Rose, I’m telling him to stay the hell out of the way of drama, because he is the person with the most to lose.

12) Alex Rodriguez went out of his way the other night to praise Indians’ reliever Andrew Miller, as both a pitcher and a person. A-Rod, Pete Rose and Frank Thomas are an interesting combination in the FS1 studio after playoff games.

11) They were saying on TV the other night that one-third of the people who vote in Ohio will vote before Election Day. It isn’t just absentee ballots, either. How/why does that happen? I’d like to vote early, anything to avoid waiting in line.

10) San Diego Chargers switched the holder for kicks; backup QB Kellen Clemens was the holder Thursday night, after the backup punter botched a snap on the game-tying FG last week.

I’ve been saying for a while that players should hold for kicks, not punters, but for convenience sake (free time during practice), punters always seem to be the holders.

Back in the day, holders were mostly backup QBs, or guys like Nolan Cromwell (Rams), Karl Noonan (Miami) or Joe Scarpati (Saints) who was the holder for Tom Dempsey’s 63-yard FG for New Orleans.

9) Davidson’s basketball team has players from seven different countries.

8) Ottawa Senators have had seven head coaches in the last ten years.

7) North Carolina Tar Heels have a freshman guard named Seventh Woods; he is the youngest of six kids, his birthday is August 7. He will wear #21 because a) it is a multiple of 7 and b) his dad was born on the 21st. I’m glad the young man wasn’t born on the 29th.

6) Long Beach State alum Casper Ware is trying to make the Washington Wizards’ roster; he has played pro ball in France, England, Germany and China, as well as nine games with the 76ers three years ago. Have to admire guys who stick with it and work so hard to achieve their dreams.

5) Obscure baseball record: Norm Cash (377 HRs) holds the major league record for most career homers, without ever hitting a walk-off home run. Mark Teixeira had been the record holder until he hit a walk-off HR in late September.

4) Atlanta Braves named Brian Snitker full-time manager this week; he led the Braves to a 50-47 record in their last 97 games after a dreadful start under the previous skipper. Atlanta moves into its new stadium in Cobb County next spring.

3) College teams like South Florida or San Diego State, who play their football games in an NFL stadium? Their rent bill is usually around $250K, per game. UNLV will have to come up with that kind of $$$ to play in a new domed stadium in Las Vegas, if the Raiders move there.

2) The late Robin Williams was a great comedian/actor; he passed away far too soon. He also really liked cycling; his collection of 87 bicycles is being auctioned off this week, to benefit a couple of Williams’ favorite charities.

1— I’ve mentioned this before, but the NBA preseason is too long; they need to utilize October to stretch the regular season out and eliminate some of the back/backs that cause stars to sit games out and cheat fans (who pay lot of $$$) out of seeing them play..

This is where I point out that a player named Ron Boone (now a broadcaster for the Jazz) once played in 1,041 consecutive games; back then, teams had to play on three consecutive nights now and then and also flew commercial. This was in the 70’s and Boone was a good player— he averaged 16.8 pts/game in his career.

Friday’s List of 13: Things I’m looking for this weekend

13) Cam Newton should be back at QB for the 1-4 Panthers, who visit the Superdome this week. Saints allowed 34+ points in three of their four games, had their bye last week, while Carolina is traveling on short week after the Monday night loss to Tampa Bay.

12) Tennessee Vols have had a brutal schedule: Florida-Georgia-A&M the last three weeks, now Alabama on the third Saturday in October. Vols have been gritty and resilient- beating Bama is a tall order, even in Neyland Stadium. One thing in Tennessee’s favor; Crimson Tide has only played one close game- if this one is close, the Volunteers are in familiar territory.

11) Who will have more fans in Miami Sunday, the Steelers or Dolphins? Pittsburgh fans are usually everywhere, but Steelers are just 12-21-1 as road favorites the last nine years. Miami scored total of 24 points in losing its last two games. Steelers are 4-0 if they allow 16 or less points.

10) Ole Miss QB Kelly got in a fight at his brother’s high school game during his bye week; I’m sure the Ole Miss coaches were thrilled to hear that. Rebels lost 53-52 in OT to Arkansas LY; this figures to be a high scoring, fun game to watch.

9) Colin Kaepernick starting for the 49ers means that thru six weeks, 8 of 32 (25%) NFL teams have started at least two QB’s this season. Will it helps the 49ers? Kaepernick is more mobile, throws a better deep ball— he is 29-20 as an NFL QB, Gabbert 9-31, but Gabbert was also on a terrible Jaguars team.

8) North Carolina beat Miami 59-21 LY; what is the over/under on the number of times Miami coaches brought that up this week? Problem is, Miami had their rivalry game with Florida State last week and it is tough to get really fired up two weeks in a row.

7) League championship series get underway in baseball, but first, I have a question.

Cubs pinch-hit for Addison Russell in Game 4 against the Giants. When was the last time a guy with 95+ RBI during the regular season got pinch-hit for in a big spot in a playoff game?

6) Northwestern covered its last six visits to Michigan State; now they’re visiting a Spartan squad that lost three games in row for first time in seven years.

5) Eagles-Redskins is an intriguing game. Wentz played well in Eagles’ loss LW, but they did lose, after entering their bye week 3-0. Redskins have won three games in row and pass the Eagles in the standings with a win here.

4) Total in the West Virginia-Texas Tech game is 83; kickoff is noon ET, which is 11am in Lubbock, more stupid scheduling for TV purposes.

3) Oakland is 4-1, with three wins by 3 or less points. Chiefs have been dismal on road so far, but Andy Reid is 11-4 vs spread coming off a bye. Big rivalry game in the Coliseum, with the Raiders fired up for their first playoff spot since 2002.

2) Texas-San Antonio won as a 17-point home underdog LW; now they’re a 3-point road favorite at Rice this week, a historic soft spot for the favorite. Rice is 0-5, allowing 40.2 pts/game, so they’re impossible to back, but this will be an interesting result.

1) St Louis Cardinals drafted Joe Namath in the 1965 NFL Draft; Jets drafted him in the AFL Draft. How would the football world have changed if Namath had played for the Redbirds? Arizona had extra time to prep after playing on Thursday last week; they’re hoping get QB Palmer (concussion) back this week.

Excerpts from an article that I think is important…….

Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr put a Washington Post article up on Twitter last night which is very interesting; it deals with how (intentionally or not) Donald Trump has exposed a problem with our country’s tax codes. This article was written by Fareed Zakaria.

I’m posting the excerpts from this article because I learned a lot from it, about how basically corrupt our entire system is in this country and how our “leaders” damn sure better fix it pretty soon.

“Donald Trump has done America a great public service. No, really. By taking advantage of the country’s tax laws in such spectacular fashion, he has shone a spotlight on the corruption that is at the heart of American politics — the tax code……..

……….The problem with American taxes is something different: their complexity. The United States has the world’s longest tax code. The scholar Sean Ehrlich tabulated its word count at 3,866,392. Germany and France have codes that are less than 10 percent as long…….

………The complexity of the tax code exists by design, because it allows for the distinctive feature of the American political system: fundraising……..

America is unique among democracies in requiring, at all levels of politics, that vast amounts of cash be raised from the private sector. In order to get this money, senators and members of Congress need something to offer in return, and what they sell are amendments to the tax code. When you pay $5,000 to have a stale breakfast with a congressman, you are not paying for his insights or personality. You and others like you are buying a line of the code, which is why it is thousands of pages long. This is the world’s ultimate “pay for play” setup.

There are only two ways to fix this problem. One would be to stop people from paying politicians. But the Supreme Court ruled in Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 that money is speech and thus constitutionally protected. (As far as I know, this is a view shared by no other Western democracy.) That leaves another path — take away what Congress sells. If the tax code were to be made short and simple, with a handful of deductions, politicians would have little to offer people as a quid pro quo. You could still pay them, for their ideas and personality, but I suspect that the flow of money would slow to a trickle. It is the simple, single solution to the cancer in American politics. And we could thank Donald Trump for highlighting it.”

Thursday’s Den: Worst 5 teams, best 8 teams in NFL……

Worst five teams:
32) Browns— They’ve gone thru five QB’s in five games, been outscored 83-23 in second half of games. Brian Billick said this summer they might go 0-16; you look at their schedule and this week at Tennessee is as good a chance as any for a win, except maybe Week 16 vs San Diego.

31) Dolphins— Their only win was in OT against the Browns, at home. In its last two games, Miami ran a total of 84 plays for 422 yards; their opponents ran 139 plays for 761 yards. Fish are -9 in turnovers their last four games- they don’t play on road again until November 13.

30) 49ers— Lost last four games, giving up 35 pts/game; they turn to Kaepernick at QB this week to try and jumpstart an offense that averaged 278.3 yds/game the last three weeks. They head to Buffalo this week after giving up 83 points in losing their first two road games.

29) Jets— QB held out until just before training camp, then offense turned ball over 11 times in first four games (-8 for season). Lost field position by 13/11 yards last two weeks, hard to win like that- they’ve already allowed three TD plays of 70+ yards, first team since ’00 Falcons to do that in their first five games.

28) Bears— Scored 17 or less points in four of five games, then they exploded for 532 yards in 29-23 loss at Indy LW, giving up 10 points in last 4:00 of game where total yardage was 532-396 in favor of Chicago. Hoyer has played well at QB; what happens when Cutler is healthy?

Best 8 teams
8) Raiders— NFL has one or two really good teams, one or two really bad teams, and 26-28 teams where any freakin’ thing can happen in any given week. Oakland is 4-1 with one win by more than three points; in the other win, they got shut out in the second half at Tennessee, and got bailed out by the refs in the last minute. There is a very fine line between winning/losing.

7) Packers— I’m sure people who own Aaron Rodgers in fantasy leagues are excited to have him, but Green Bay’s last six games are in Philly, Chicago, three in Lambeau, before they wind up indoors in Week 17 at Ford Field in Detroit. Going to be hard for him to put up big enough numbers in five cold weather games to get his fantasy teams to a title, but he is an awful lot of fun to watch.

6) Steelers—Laid an egg in Philly, won decisively in other four games; they’ve scored 10 TD’s on their last 21 drives. Won/covered all three home games. Interesting game in Week 7 when the Patriots come to Heinz Field, before Steelers have their bye week.

5) Eagles— Life is weird; Eagles wanted to redshirt Carson Wentz this year, but they traded Bradford after Bridgewater got hurt in Minnesota, so Wentz got thrown to the wolves and he has been really terrific. Even in LW’s 24-23 loss in Detroit, Wentz rallied them back from down 11 at the half to take a 4th-quarter lead. Looks like the Iggles struck gold with him.

4) Cowboys— Rookie QB Prescott has been a Godsend; you watch all this pre-draft stuff they do on TV last spring and hardly anyone mentioned him. Go figure. Dallas ran ball for 180+ yards in each of last three games; only 8 of the 54 plays they ran LW came on third down. Still trying to digest all these young QB’s playing so well; used to take young guys time to settle in.

3) Falcons— Atlanta has 18 TDs already, with six TD plays of 20+ yards, tied for 2nd-most in NFL; they went to Denver LW and led wire/wire, very impressive. They’ve scored double figures in every half they’ve played this year. Another interesting road challenge this week, in Seattle.

2) Patriots— Will Brady’s month off mean that he will be little less tired at end of season? He ain’t young anymore. Hard to tell much about his debut LW, since they were playing Cleveland, but you look at New England’s schedule and you don’t see a whole lot of challenging games. Steelers/Seahawks later this month, at Denver in December; any other loss would be a big upset.

1) Minnesota— On incredible 18-2 pointspread run since start of LY, 5-0 this year; chances are, they’d rather not have their bye while they’re this hot. Packers are only team that has come within nine points of them, and Minnesota figures to get better as Bradford gets more used to being there. Vikings are already +11 in turnovers.

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

13) I talk now and then about the fine line between winning/losing in the NFL; check out the Carolina Panthers, who went 15-1 LY, then lost the Super Bowl. Eight months later, they’re 1-4 and look lost. Panthers were -4 in turnovers last night in a 17-14 loss to the Bucs. Cam Newton is still in concussion protocol and the Falcons are three games ahead of them already.

12) Tampa Bay’s GM had to breathe a huge sigh of relief after last night’s win; he trades up into the second round to draft a kicker, but the kid goes psycho on him, missing several easy kicks, including a 35-yarder last night. Seems like kicking is a lot like golf; you can get the yips if you let things get into your head. Young man wound up kicking the game-winning FG Monday, so hopefully for him it’ll be smooth sailing ahead.

11) Eli Manning has already banked $206M in salary, most among NFL players. Shouldn’t Tom Brady be #1 on that list? I’m no Patriot fan, but still…….who has accomplished more in this era?

10) After giving this way too much thought, my verdict is that putting radios in the QB’s helmets is that has allowed young QBs to progress more rapidly than they used to.

The radios shut off with 0:15 left on the play clock but they get 0:25 from the coach after each play, maybe one idea after the play call comes in. It has to help, right?

9) Red flag on the Green Bay Packers; in their last four games, they’ve scored one offensive TD in the second half.

8) After five weeks, there are six NFL teams with 10+ TD drives of 75+ yards. The Kansas City Chiefs have one. One.

7) I read where President Obama has granted clemency to 590 federal prisoners this year, the most in one year of any President ever and he still has 12,000 applications to review before he leaves office in January.

Is this a good idea? Does Congress have any checks/balances on this? Putting 590 (mostly) drug dealers out on the street doesn’t necessarily seem like a great idea. I could be wrong, but why is this a good thing?

6) Washington Nationals’ backup 1B Clint Robinson gets his bats made at the Cooperstown Bat Company, right across the street from the Hall of Fame. Seems like a good idea.

5) I love to keep score of baseball games, was an official scorer in the minor leagues for two years about 100 or so years ago. With all the shifting going on, I would get a scoresheet with more space to write on and score the game according to where the ball hit.

For instance, a grounder to the right side of the infield would be 4-3, no matter who actually fielded the grounder, then I would make a note as to which position (2B, SS, 3B) actually fielded the ball. 5-3 doesn’t mean much to me, if the third baseman fielded the ball on the right side of the diamond. I would definitely take more notes on the actual scoresheet, but would change the scoring system to relate to region of field rather than the position of who actually handled the ball.

4) Heard a couple local baseball analysts this summer endorse robot umpires; please for the love of God, no. I’m just not in favor of it, its like when Little Leagues use pitching machines for games with 9-10 year olds, because kids that age suck at pitching.

Baseball is a huge industry; lets train the umpires so they do their jobs better. Just can’t stomach the idea of a computer calling a guy out to end the game, because I’m so incredibly paranoid I’d think the computers were programmed to favor the big-money teams. Don’t laugh.

3) Why in the name of Billy Packer is the ACC basketball tournament in Brooklyn next March? Why is this a good idea? There are 15 teams in the ACC, zero in NYC. Syracuse is in New York, but it is nowhere near the Big Apple. Just play the thing in Greensboro, where it belongs.

2) Perk of being the new basketball coach at Memphis. Tubby Smith’s playing partner in the pro-am at the Memphis Open last summer was Graeme McDowell, one of the biggest names to play in that event.

Jerry Tarkanian used to say he wouldn’t hire an assistant coach who owned golf clubs, he wanted assistant coaches to recruit and be around campus. Everyone is different, that is what makes the world so interesting.

1— When I was a kid we had three TV channels; 6, 10 and 13 (NBC, CBS, ABC); when baseball was on TV, especially in the playoffs, it was manna from heaven. Not much else to watch, even if we wanted to (we didn’t).

Monday, there were three games on, but all on different channels, MLB Network, FS1 and TBS. Hell, I live for this stuff and I still had to search for one of the games. People have a lot more choices nowadays; I have a ton of channels on DirecTV, with movies and good stuff on (and a ton of crummy stuff, especially in the daytime).

I know people who were in a hotel Monday and couldn’t watch two of the three games, because hotels don’t carry FS1 or the MLB Network. Baseball needs to make these games more accessible so people can see how good their product is, because playoff baseball is tremendous.

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

13) Titans-Dolphins game had total of only 111 plays Sunday; Eagles-Lions game had 113, Bills-Rams 116. By way of contrast, Texas-Oklahoma game had 168 plays, USC-Colorado 153.

You get lot more action, a lot more plays when you watch a college game.

12) Underdogs are 17-5 against the spread in NFL division games this season.

11) A high school kicker in Bluffton, SC made nine field goals in one game a couple weeks ago, and he even missed two other tries. Kid made 44-47 yard FGs; the other seven were all 36 or less yards. Quite a night for the young man.

10) Right now, there are 576 players in NBA training camps; by October 24, 126 of those guys will get released or sent to the D-League, thats 21.9% of them. Some will go to Europe, some will go get real jobs, most will go to the D-League. Thats part of why the summer league in Las Vegas is so interesting; making an NBA roster is really, really hard to do.

9) Giant-Packer game Sunday night was first NFL game in nine years where a team coming off a Monday night game played a team coming off a bye. Ironically, the Packers were the team off the short week in 2007- they beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead that night. Just an unusual scheduling quirk.

8) Major league umpire Joe West made his big league debut 40 years ago, when he was only 22 years old. He was on the field when Willie McCovey hit his 500th homer and he is still on the field, working the Toronto-Texas series this past week. Making the majors as an umpire at age 22 ain’t an easy thing to do.

7) Through five games, here are the Atlanta Falcons’ yards/pass attempt in each game:
7.7 vs Tampa Bay, 11.1 @ Oakland, 7.0 @ New Orleans, 12.0 vs Carolina, 8.3 @ Denver. Really strong numbers.

Atlanta OC Kyle Shanahan took a lot of grief the last few years, between the RGIII debacle in Washington in 2013 and the Falcons’ collapse last year. Haven’t heard his name mentioned much this season.

6) NFC East teams are 8-4 vs spread in non-divisional game, AFC West teams 9-6, best records of the eight divisions. NFC West teams are 3-6, so far the worst record of any division.

5) New York Knicks have finished last in the NBA in fast break points the last four years in a row. Wonder why that is? Because Carmelo Anthony doesn’t like to run; when the Knicks had a point guard who liked to push the ball (Jeremy Lin), he was sent packing- I wonder why?

Supposedly new Knicks’ coach Jeff Hornacek wants the Knicks to run; I hope the hell they do, would be a lot more fun to watch than Anthony jacking fadeaways at the end of the shot clock.

4) Only eight college hoop teams have made the NCAA tournament each of the last six years: in alphabetical order, Cincinnati, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, VCU and Wisconsin.

3) Love watching Kevin Pillar play CF for the Blue Jays; what a great fielder he is!!!!

2) Underrated football analyst who should be on network TV: former Arena League QB Sherdrick Bonner, who was a really good QB for the Arizona Rattlers. Bonner does Mountain West games on Root Sports and is very smart and pleasant. Seriously, he would be in the top five of NFL analysts right now.

1) We hear so much bad news on TV all the time these days; the media is fixated on negativity, everyone is complaining about something, the Presidential election has become such an avalanche of crap that a total jerk like Donald Trump still has a chance to win, just because he is really, really rich.

So it was excellent that a rare touching moment took place in a dugout interview last night during the Texas-Toronto game; Texas 3B coach Tony Beasley has been battling cancer- he has two chemo treatments and an operation on December 5 (his birthday) remaining— he sounds upbeat that he will emerge healthy again. We hope so.

What was touching was this: Beasley had to spend a lot of time at a hospital in Houston, getting treatments. Beasley told Turner’s reporter Matt Winer that the Texas Rangers players took up a collection to pay for Beasley’s hotel bills; his insurance covers the medical expenses, so while he gets treatment, he has no financial worries. As Beasley was telling the story, Elvis Andrus, one of Beasley’s infield pupils, hit a homer for the Rangers. Good stuff.

We can only hope that Beasley’s medical treatments are also a home run.

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

Vikings 31, Texans 13— Minnesota is on an improbable 18-2 spread run, 5-0 this year; they’ve scored four TDs on special teams/defense, are 15-30 on 3rd down last two weeks. Only one of their five wins is by less than nine points. Houston was 1-13 on 3rd down in this game, averaged 3.4 yards/pass attempt- home team won/covered all five of their games this year.

Tennessee 30, Miami 17— Dolphins are now a horrendous 13-34 vs spread in their last 47 games as a home favorite- that goes back 10.5 years. How many coaches have to get fired before Miami realizes Ryan Tannehill isn’t good? Titans gave up a punt return TD for second week in a row, but had a 14-yard edge in field position, were +2 in turnovers.

Stat of Day: Over last four weeks, from Weeks 2-5, NFL teams that were +2 or better in turnovers are 27-1 SU- they’re 28-4 for the season.

Patriots 33, Browns 13— Brady threw for 406 yards, three TDs in his return from suspension. Cleveland got two more QB’s KO’d, wound up using Terrelle Pryor at QB, meaning that thru five games this year (0-5), they’ve already used five QB’s and probably have to sign (at least) one more for next week. If they use Pryor at QB, then they lose their best WR.

Steelers 31, Jets 13— Pittsburgh had 30 first downs; on three drives, they had 6+ first downs- Steelers averaged 7.8 yards/pass attempt, were 5-10 on 3rd down. Jets lost field position by 11 yards, after losing it by 13 yards last week. Over last three games, Jets have been outscored 37-7 in second half. Cleveland is desperate for a QB; Jets have four on their roster- shouldn’t these teams make a trade?

Redskins 16, Ravens 10— Baltimore drove 75 yards on nine plays for a TD on their first drive; rest of the game? 60 plays for 231 yards, with one FG on 11 drives. Redskins were one of four teams this week to score a TD on defense/special teams- those teams went 3-1 in their game, are 12-7 for the season, with two other games where both teams had one. All five Baltimore games have been decided by 6 or less points.

Lions 24, Eagles 23— Philly had 14 penalties for 111 yards, Detroit two for 18. Wentz rallied team back from 21-10 deficit, but Lions kicked winning FG with 1:28 left. There were 113 plays from scrimmage in this game, 111 in the Miami game; the Texas-Oklahoma game had 168 plays, the Colorado-USC game 153. You get more bang for your entertainment buck watching college games.

Colts 29, Bears 23— Chicago led 23-19 with 4:00 left, but Indy scored 10 points in last 3:49 for their second win. Surprised that Buck/Aikman had this game- weak card of games on FOX this week. Bears had six plays of 20+ yards, as Hoyer threw for 397 yards; only one of Indy’s eight plays of 20+ yards came on first down. High scoring games, but teams combined to go just 5-21 on third down. Hoyer had big game, but missed Jeffrey in end zone on Chicago’s last drive to try and win the game.

Falcons 23, Broncos 16— Atlanta gave up 31 pts/game in their 3-1 start; they held Denver to 267 TY, 4.5 yards/pass attempt in leading this game wire/wire. Falcons started LY 5-0, wound up 8-8; you get the idea this 4-1 start is based on more solid footing. Rookie QB Lynch was 23-35/223 yards in his first NFL start, was sacked six times. NFC teams are 14-8 vs AFC clubs this season- they were 4-2 this week.

After the game, Denver coach Kubiak was taken to the hospital with “flu-like symptoms”. When he was coach in Houston, Kubiak had a mini-strike at halftime of a game. We hope he is healthy. Denver plays on Thursday night this week, by the way.

Bills 30, Rams 19— Buffalo punter Schmidt was star of game, with four of his six punts pinning LA inside its own 20-yard line. Rams drove 86 yards on one drive but had to kick a FG. Buffalo was +3 in turnovers and in essence got a 4th turnover on a roughing/punter penalty. Taylor is a lot like Doug Flutie was; mobile but not a big runner, little scatter-armed, a good leader. Bills have won three games in row after an 0-2 start.

Raiders 34, Chargers 31— 4-1 start for Oakland, with three wins by 3 or less points. You have to feel for San Diego; another brutal loss, with their punter muffing the hold on chip-shot game-tying FG just before 2:00 warning. Chargers turned ball over four times (-3)30.4 pts/game and are 1-4- they had 150 rushing yards in Week 2, have combined for 149 rushing yards in three games since.

Cowboys 28, Bengals 14— To me the most surprising score of week; this game wasn’t close to being this close- it was 28-0 in 4th quarter. Dallas ran ball for 180 yards; only eight of 54 plays they ran came on third down. You have to wonder about NFL scouting when Prescott plays so well as a rookie QB but wasn’t that highly touted- I don’t think the DUI he supposedly got in March hurt his draft position. No one was taking him higher than Dallas did, no matter what.

Baseball update:
Washington 5, Dodgers 2— Unlikely hero? Backup catcher Jose Lobaton, playing only because Wilson Ramos hurt his knee at the end of the regular season. Lobaton hit a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 4th when LA led 2-0. Nationals’ bullpen got the last 14 outs without allowing a run, so series heads to Tinseltown tied 1-1. TV executives breathe a sigh of relief, with first series guaranteed to have a Game 4.

Blue Jays 7, Rangers 6— Josh Donaldson scored from second on a force play to end the game as Toronto sweeps the Rangers and moves on to the ALCS. I’m an A’s fan; Donaldson is awesome and Oakland didn’t get nearly enough for him when the was traded (for financial reasons). But hey, those guys advising Billy Beane went to college in the Ivy League, so they must be smart, right?

Packers 23, Giants 16– Not a great night for either QB, but for third time in last four games, Giants scored zero or one offensive TD. For the week, favorites are 5-7-1, home teams 5-7-1, over 7-6.

 

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) Washington 70, Oregon 21— Huskies had lost 12 in row in this bitter rivalry, going 1-11 vs spread, but Ducks are lousy this year and U-Dub went out of their way to exact some revenge for those previous beatings. Starting QB Browning threw a 45-yard TD pass in the 4th quarter, when the score was 56-21. Oregon has lost four in a row; their coach has to be in very hot water.

12) Oklahoma 45, Texas 40— Sooners gained 672 yards, scoring 45 points in a game when they turned ball over four times (-2). Texas coach Strong called the defenses today, which helped in first half (14 -13 Sooners) but Longhorns reverted to normal form in second half. Have to think Texas will reach out to Houston coach Tom Herman in December.

11) Texas A&M 45, Tennessee 38 OT— I’ve never seen a team turn the ball over six times and win, but Tennessee got to OT with six TO’s; their 7th ended the game. With 8:00 left in third quarter, A&M led 28-7, but gritty Vols fought back and forced overtime, where they fell just short. Aggies are 6-0 for first time since 1994; they won their two I-A home games in OT.

10) Purdue 34, Illinois 31 OT— Good day for icing kickers; A&M’s kicker missed at the end of regulation when Tennessee coach Butch Jones iced him. In this game, Darrell Hazell used three timeouts in a row to ice the Illinois kicker on his game-winning try, and it worked as the Boilers prevailed later on in OT, winning a game where they allowed 315 rushing yards.

9) Navy 46, Houston 40— Middies ended Houston’s longshot hopes of a national title; with so many big-money programs struggling, Cougars coach Herman will likely bolt to one of those schools after this season, so curious to see how Houston does rest of way in a pretty good AAC.

8) Biggest Upset of Day (by pointspread); Tex-San Antonio 55, Southern Mississippi 32— Roadrunners won as a 17-point home underdog. UTSA ran ball for 339 yards.

7) Pitt 37, Georgia Tech 34— Most fun play of the day; Pitt’s QB rolls out to the right, throws a lateral/screen pass back to the left to #70 (an offensive lineman), who has an escort to the end zone for an easy TD. Football coaches work very long hours and drink a lot of Red Bull- that play had to be designed very late at night.

6) Oklahoma State 38, Iowa State 31— Cyclones have their hearts torn out for second week in row; they led 31-14 with 3:00 left in third quarter, but just like last week, they let it slip away late in a game where total yardage was 459-448. Iowa State is much-improved.

The field at Oklahoma State is so close to the bleachers in the corners of the field, really too close. Someone’s gonna get hurt, running OB at full speed with very little room to stop.

5) NC State 10, Notre Dame 3— In 1979, Tampa Bay beat the Chiefs 3-0 in a deluge on the last day of the season to win their division; this game reminded me of that, played in a quagmire with heavy rains. Total yardage was 198-113 NC State; the two FGs that were made in this game looked like me hitting a 5-iron— no bueno. Very tough weather conditions and Notre Dame is now 2-4.

4) TCU 24, Kansas 23— Jayhawks led 23-14 after third quarter; TCU kicked FG to win it with 1:21 left, avoiding a catastrophic loss. Kansas outgained them by 104 yards in a sloppy game where both teams had four turnovers. Huge sigh of relief from Fort Worth after this game.

3) Michigan 78, Rutgers 0— A long time ago, Florida State crushed some feeble opponent and coach Bobby Bowden said, “it is not my job to hold the score down, it is their job”, pointing to the other locker room. Total yardage in this game was 600-39. The Scarlet Knights have a lot of work to do, just to make their games competitive/watchable.

Hard to believe these teams are in the same league, right? Why did the Big 14 choose Rutgers over UConn? At least the Huskies are strong in basketball.

2) Florida State 20, Miami 19— Another great game is a series filled with them. Miami converted a 4th-down play to score TD in last 2:00, but PAT was blocked— that kicker had made 72 PATs in a row. Showtime is getting great theater for its Tuesday night reality show on the Seminoles. These two teams won’t be losing much the rest of the way.

1– Cubs 5, Giants 2— Chicago-Toronto-Cleveland all lead their best-of-5 series, 2-0.

Of the 72 previous teams to go up 2-0 in a best-of-5 series, 43 of them won the series 3-0. Only nine of the 72 teams wound up losing the series.

Saturday’s List of 13: Random thoughts on a fall day…….

13) Pretty cool that Tito Francona (Terry’s dad) threw out the first ball before Game 1 of the Indians-Red Sox series Thursday. Tito Francona was a .272 hitter in his 15-year career, six of which were played in Cleveland (he led the AL in doubles in 1960). Mr Francona is 82 now; was fun to see him throw out the first pitch Thursday.

12) If Indians-Rangers meet in ALCS, Jonathan Lucroy won’t get a warm greeting in Ohio; he vetoed a trade to the Indians this summer, before Milwaukee traded him to Texas. Ironic that Roberto Perez was a hitting star in Game 1; he’d be on the bench if the Indians had Lucroy.

11) Rangers skipper Jeff Banister is proving to be a really good manager, making the playoffs in his first two years in Arlington, but his playing career wasn’t quite as good. Banister made only one major league big plate appearance; July 23, 1991 for the Pirates— he singled in his only plate appearance, making him a career 1.000 hitter. Aren’t many of those.

10) Miami Marlins fired batting coach Barry Bonds and two other coaches; think about how badly Giancarlo Stanton struggled in May/June; that has to be a big reason why Bonds was told to take a hike. Not sure why the bullpen coach got fired, but he and the 3rd base coach also got canned. Firing Bonds just before a hurricane hits Miami is an interesting form of a news dump.

9) I think the one-game Wild Card format is great and don’t forget, my favorite team (the A’s) lost the Wild Card game in 12 innings two years ago. Despise that, I like it. You don’t like the one-game format? Then win your division and you bypass it.

8) Four playoff games on a baseball Friday; the 1:00 game tells you which TV markets MLB cares the least about. Toronto-Texas was the 1:00 game Friday.

7) Each team gets an extra instant replay challenge in playoff games; there were three replay reviews in the first 2.5 innings of the Toronto-Texas game Thursday.

6) Only three major leaguers have started a big league game at shortstop at age 18:
a) Robin Yount, a Hall of Famer
b) Alex Rodriguez, a future Hall of Famer
c) Tony LaRussa, who got 44 AB’s as an 18-year old for the ’63 A’s, then didn’t get back to the majors for five years. He wound up hurting his shoulder, but got 203 PA’s in 132 career games over six years, became a great manager and is in the Hall of Fame as a manager.

5) Philadelphia Eagles played at a very fast pace in three years under Chip Kelly, but in three games under Doug Pederson (and rookie QB Carson Wentz), Eagles are using 33.78 seconds between plays, the slowest pace in the NFL.

4) Oakland A’s won the 1989 World Series; since then, only one AL West team (’02 Angels) has won the World Series.

3) Not only are Waffle House restaurants tremendous, now I find out there is a Waffle House museum outside of Atlanta. Not sure what would be in a Waffle House museum, other than old menus and aprons, maybe some forks and plates, maybe a maple syrup dispenser, but eating at a Waffle House is an experience.

10-12 years ago, I was in Orlando in July with Harry the Handicapper as he recruited players for his basketball team. At the end of a day watching AAU basketball games, we stop in a Waffle House, which is very crowded, because 1) Waffle Houses are tremendous 2) Waffle Houses are small and 3) it was pretty late and not much else was open.

Just as we walk in, one of the two waitresses on duty gets in an argument with the manager; not good. The other waitress isn’t moving too quickly, the second one is yelling at the manager, and finally throws her apron at him and quits on the spot. Right out the door she goes.

We look at each other, look at the crowded Waffle House with one (slow moving) waitress and reluctantly we take off to find food elsewhere. It was sad, because New York doesn’t have Waffle Houses. Maybe the apron the waitress threw at the manager is in the Waffle House museum.

2) Why do news channels send reporters out in the middle of a hurricane? Isn’t that dangerous? Do those people get paid more? Does it help their careers?

I remember once we had a blizzard here in beautiful upstate New York and channel 13 sent a lady named Elaine Houston out to Albany Airport to report on the blizzard.

Now the airport is closed and Ms Houston looks like the coldest and most miserable person on the planet as she gives her report (outside). I couldn’t help but laugh; who is the genius that thought sending her to a deserted airport during a blizzard was a good idea?

1) What would happen if there was a hurricane on Election Day? There would be no voting in Florida and maybe Georgia and South Carolina; would they postpone the election?

Friday’s List of 13: Things I’m looking for this weekend

Things I’m looking for this weekend……..
13) Clemson has a trap game at Boston College, on a short week after their big win over Louisville. Can the Tigers take care of business Friday night in Beantown?

12) Tom Brady’s back and New England is a double digit road favorite in Cleveland, where Bill Belichick once went 36-44 as the Browns’ coach. Cleveland has been outscored 73-17 in second half of games this season.

11) North Carolina stunned Florida State in Tallahassee last week; now they host a Virginia Tech squad playing its first true road game of the season. Tar Heels won their last two games by a total of 3 points- their only loss so far was against Georgia.

10) Did the early bye week break the 3-0 Eagles’ momentum? Two years ago, Cincinnati got off to a fast 3-0 start, had a Week 4 bye, then went 0-2-1 in their first three games after the bye. Philly plays the Lions at Ford Field; will be an interesting game.

9) Oklahoma-Texas are both 2-2, which doesn’t sit well with either fanbase. Losing coach in this game is going to have a very long week.

8) Steelers are 19-5 in their last 24 games against the Jets, who lost their last nine visits to the Steel City. Has the leash on Jets’ QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gotten any shorter?

7) Baseball playoffs are underway; Giants won World Series three of last six years. Cubs haven’t won one in over 100 years. Interesting matchup there; Cubs are the better team.

6) Florida State’s defense isn’t good; feel bad for the coaches, since Showtime is doing a reality show on the Seminoles this year- their sub-par performance is going to cost someone their job. Seminoles-Miami are supposed to play if the incoming hurricane doesn’t force the game to be moved to another time or place.

5) Atlanta Falcons have the NFL’s #1 offense right now; they’re in Denver this week, playing the defending champs, who have a great defense. Damn good 4:00 game Sunday.

4) Tennessee has come back from the dead two weeks in a row; now the unbeaten (but shaky) Volunteers head to College Station- this might be the best game of the week.

3) Chargers are 1-3, despite having a 4th quarter lead in every game, and a double digit lead in every game. Oakland is 3-1 but lost its only home game.

I was in an elevator with four bikers in Las Vegas this summer; they were all avid Raider fans and were enthusiastic about Oakland’s chances this season. A win here would make the bikers a very happy group Sunday.

2) Oregon lost its last three games; rumors have coach Helfrich in hot water. Ducks haven’t lost to Washington in over a decade, but they’re an 8-point dog here. Huskies are trying to establish themselves as the best team in the Pac-12 North.

1) More national TV exposure Sunday night for Odell Beckham Jr, who has an awful lot of commercials on TV these days. Giants fired their Hall of Fame coach last winter, kept both coordinators; they’ve lost their last two games after a 2-0 start. Beating the Packers in Lambeau is tough duty, but if Odell wants to shut his critics up, this would be a good time to have a big ballgame.

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

13) Former NBA coach Hubie Brown is 83 years old, still very sharp; he’s back on ESPN this year covering games. You can learn a lot listening to him.

Flashback to October, 1984: Knicks-Bulls have preseason game in Glens Falls on a Monday night (snowed like hell at Packers-Broncos game that night). I’m working midnight-to-8 at the time, so during the day, my friend Paul and I drive 45 miles north and walk into the Glens Falls Civic Center just before the Knicks start their walk-thru practice.

No one kicks us out, so while Hubie Brown is running practice, the two of us are sitting at the end of the bench; when I stretch my legs, my feet are actually on the court. Pretty good Monday afternoon for us; that night, we watched a Chicago rookie named Michael Jordan play.

After the practice, I talked to both coach Brown and Bernard King, the Knicks’ star- they couldn’t have been nicer to me. That night, Jordan wore the original red/black Air Jordans that were later banned by the league, for a reason that I’ve long ago forgotten.

12) Then there is Hawk Harrelson, who at age 75, still works half the White Sox games- he does the road games. He is tough to listen to, rooting like hell for the Sox while preaching old-style philosophies and dismissing a lot of modern ideas.

On his Twitter page, it says: “hater of sabermetrics”. How can you hate something that helps you understand stuff better? Maybe you can disagree with how much it is used or the dismissal of traditional scouting techniques, but there is a middle road there that needs to be travelled.

To hate sabermetrics is to dismiss knowledge that can help us learn things. Knowledge is good. Hating knowledge is ignorant.

11) Oklahoma City Thunder are in Spain this week; they lost to Real Madrid the other day, then beat Barcelona by 3 yesterday. European basketball is very good, a higher quality than Division I college ball in this country- the players are lot older. Thunder didn’t go all out to win; Westbrook sat in 4th quarter of both games, but was surprising to see two games with such close scores.

10) Minnesota Vikings are on a 17-2 spread run, 4-0 this year; they’re +10 in turnovers this year, even with a QB playing who wasn’t on the team ten days before their season started.

9) New York Giants have only one takeaway in four games, have a -8 turnover ratio; how they deal with Odell Beckham going forward will be interesting to watch.

When Tom Coughlin backed away from disciplining Beckham during the Carolina game LY, it was a red flag; Coughlin had a reputation as a discipline guy. New coach Ben McAdoo seems less likely to pick that battle to fight.

8) Jesse Palmer told a story on TV Saturday night about when he played at Florida, a bunch of Gator players met Arnold Palmer at a social gathering before Florida’s bowl game in Orlando.

According to Jesse Palmer, Arnold Palmer said to the players, “You guys are are probably going to win, but no way will you cover (the point spread)”. Jesse Palmer actually asked Brent Musberger if he should tell the story on the air; since their game was a blowout, he did.

By the way, Florida won by 15, covering as a 13.5-point favorite.

7) Toronto catcher Russell Martin has played for four major league teams and has been in the playoffs nine times in his 11 major league seasons.

6) Tuesday night was Marcus Stroman’s 60th major league start; it was only the second time in those 60 starts that he retired the first nine hitters in order.

5) Blue Jays are 26-33 this season in games where the game-winning run scored after the sixth inning; those 59 games are six more than any other team has played. Twins/White Sox played in next-highest amount (53).

4) Monmouth Hawks upgraded their basketball schedule this year, after they missed out on an at-large bid to the NCAAs last year. Games against North Carolina, Memphis, South Carolina and Syracuse won’t help their W-L record, but should toughen them up for MAAC games and increase their strength of schedule. MAAC also-rans don’t often get at-large bids.

3) Mall of America in Minneapolis, our country’s biggest mall, will be closed Thanksgiving Day, so employees can have the day off. Good for them.

2) Blue Jays 5, Orioles 2 (11)— Buck Showalter got thrashed on social media for not using his closer Britton in this game; My thing is this— Showalter performed a near-miracle getting the Orioles into the playoffs. Their starting pitching just isn’t that good, but he got them to the Wild Card game. He is a tremendous manager

For me to criticize the way he runs his team would take a lot of onions— no thanks.

1– Giants 3, Mets 0– One of the great things about postseason baseball is that obscure players become heroes with one swing of the bat. Conor Gillespie is a career .256 hitter with 31 HRs in 1,334 plate appearances in seven years; his 3-run homer in the ninth inning moves the Giants on to Chicago for the NLDS against the Cubs, which begins Friday.