Thursday’s Den: How MLB teams do in series openers……

Series records for major league teams (thru May 31):
Road-Home/Total

National League
Ariz: 1-4-2…..7-2….8-6-2
All:    4-5-1…2-3-2…6-8-3
Chi:    4-4….5-2-1….9-6-1
Cin:   4-3-1…3-4-2…7-7-3
Col:   7-0-1…5-2-1…12-2-2
LA:    1-4-2…5-1-3….6-5-5
Mia:   2-5-2…2-5-1…4-10-3
Mil:    4-2-1…3-5-1…7-7-2
NY:     4-3……4-5……8-8
Phil:    1-7……3-5……4-12
Pitt:    2-5-2….5-3…..7-8-2
StL:    3-3-1…3-5-1…6-8-1
SD:      3-6….2-4-2…5-10-2
SF:     2-6-1…4-2-1…6-8-2
Wsh:    4-4…..8-9……12-13

American League
Balt:    2-4-2….7-1…..9-5-2
Bos:     .3-4….6-2-2…9-6-2
Chi:     4-4-1…3-3-1…7-7-2
Clev:    5-3-1….2-6…..7-9-1
Det:     2-4-3….4-2-1…6-6-4
Hst:       6-1……7-2…..13-3
KC:       3-5…..2-4-2….5-9-2
LAA:    1-6-2…3-2-2….4-8-4
Min:       6-1……3-6……9-7
NY:      3-4-1…..7-1….10-5-1
A’s:        1-7…..5-1-2….6-8-2
Sea:      3-7……5-2…….8-9
TB:        4-4…..4-3-2….8-7-2
Tex:      2-6-1…..5-3.….7-9-1
Tor:       2-5-2…..4-4…..6-9-2

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

13) Best part of the Strickland/Harper shenanigans Monday night was Buster Posey totally declining to get involved. Usually, the catcher tries to keep the angry batter away from the pitcher, but Posey made no such attempt.

Harper hit two very long home runs off Strickland in the ’14 playoffs (thats 2.5 years ago!!!) in their only two previous meetings. Guess something Harper did/said ticked Strickland off.

12) I like watching baseball when they have the strike zone on the right side of the screen, so we can see if the umps miss any pitches. To me, it makes the broadcast a little better.

11) Is Nick Markakis the best active player who has never been an All-Star? He has 1,945 hits, is a solid defender, has a .358 career OB%. You’d think he would’ve made one All-Star team.

10) Jeb Bush is out as part of the group trying to buy the Miami Marlins; apparently he had “only $20M” of his own money involved in the project, not enough to make him a controlling partner, which is what he wanted.

9) 10 of the 64 teams in the NCAA college baseball tournament are located in Texas.

8) Nike stock fell 19% last year, is up only 4% this year; with the NBA Finals starting this week, Nike didn’t need Cavs-Warriors being overshadowed by Eldrick Woods’ DUI arrest. Nike does not sell golf equipment anymore, but they still sell golf clothes, which Woods endorses.

7) Houston Astros are almost definitely going to be in the playoffs; I’m curious how they’ll deal with Josh Reddick playing against lefties (Price? Sale? Lester?) in playoffs/World Series.

Reddick is a career .270 hitter vs righties, .220 vs lefties (.282 OB%). A’s once pinch-hit for him in the 4th inning of a big game because the opponent put a lefty in. So far this year he is 7-25 (.280) vs lefties; maybe the change of scenery has helped him. We’ll see.

6) Kansas Jayhawks will have six transfers amongst their 13 scholarship players next winter; only three of them will be eligible next season. Makes team chemistry a little dicey.

5) David Blatt went 83-40 as coach of the Cavaliers in the regular season, went 14-6 in playoff games and got fired. Now he coaches overseas; I think he had just enough ego to have been a really good college coach, but we’ll probably never know.

Fact of the matter is, if Lebron James wakes up one day in August and wants Tyronn Lue fired, the man is as good as gone. Probably won’t happen, but it could.

4) Not a big fan of playing the infield in; just doesn’t seem necessary, unless the runner on third is really fast. Playing fielders in opens up too many cheap hits that wouldn’t happen with a more traditional defense.

3) Joe Niekro pitched in the major leagues for 22 seasons, had 973 career at-bats with a .156 BA and hit one home run— off his brother, Hall of Fame Phil Niekro.

2) A Saudi prince lost $359M in six hours playing poker at a casino in Egypt; he also sold off five of his nine wives as a way to reduce his debt.

I knew cats had nine lives; had no idea Saudi princes had nine wives.

1) I don’t care what anyone says, Bob Uecker should’ve won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as Indians’ announcer Harry Doyle in Major League.

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

13) I’m not real interested in how long baseball games last; I enjoy watching the game, but some people are bent out of shape because games are longer now. One easy way to shorten games; eliminate coaches’ visits to the mound. There’s your 5-7 minutes a game right there.

12) Last week, Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly put Giancarlo Stanton in the #2 spot in the order, which was surprising, but since then, Stanton is 11-26 with two walks, so he has gotten better pitches to hit in that spot. The two walks were last night; one was intentional.

11) Underrated: Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls coaching the Redskins; now he owns NASCAR teams and is a giant in that sport. Not many people have been so prominent in two different sports.

10) Mets’ OF Michael Conforto has impressive bloodlines; his mother won two gold medals in the Olympics in synchronized swimming. His dad played football at Penn State.

9) Was reading on SI.com where the Falcons’ new domed stadium will have 1,264 beer taps in it. The GeorgiaDome had 30 beer taps.

8) Miami Hurricanes missed out on the NCAA baseball tournament for the first time in 45 years; losing a series to Dartmouth isn’t good for your tournament resume.

7) Only four of the Braves’ first 49 games (2-2) have come against lefty starting pitchers.

6) In college basketball, Belmont has finished #1 in whole country in 2-point FG% four of the last five years; thats hard to believe, but they run lot of backdoor plays and get lot of layups. Still, with 351 teams in the country. to be #1 four out of five years is really impressive.

5) Astros (10 games), Nationals (8.5 games) have huge divisional leads; 2nd place in the NL East is 21-27, so thats a terrible division. 2nd place in AL West is 26-27. Those two teams will basically coast from here into the playoffs.

4) Second Wild Card in NL is 10 games over .500, so going to be hard to make the playoffs there. In AL, second Wild Card is only two games over .500, so a straggler now can get hot and become a contender.

This stuff will influence who is a seller when the trade deadline rolls around. Lesser teams in the National League are more likely to sell off veteran players than American League teams.

3) Astros 16, Twins 8— Minnesota led this game 8-2 after seven innings behind Ervin Santana, who has a 1.75 ERA. Twins’ bullpen then allowed 11 runs in the 8th inning, three more in the 9th- they faced 22 hitters- 16 of them reached base, 14 scored. Yikes.

Houston has a team like the Red Sox teams when they had Butch Hobson batting 9th when he knocked in 100 runs. You cannot outslug the Astros; very impressive lineup.

Elias Sports says that before Monday, Astros were 0-659 in franchise history when trailing by 6+ runs in the 8th inning. Now they’re 1-659.

2) Nationals 3, Giants 0— In the top of the 8th, reliever Hunter Strickland drilled Bryce Harper in the hip and a hockey fight broke out— a real donnybrook, a Pier 6 brawl. Harper got a couple shots in before both benches converged on the mound.

Seemed like there was some history there- they seemed to actually dislike each other— turns out Harper homered twice off Strickland in the 2014 playoffs; one ball went in the upper deck at Nationals Park, the other one landed in McCovey Cove. Only times they’ve faced each other, until Monday.

1) Mike Trout has a torn ligament in his left thumb, will miss a couple weeks unless surgery is needed, then it’ll be a lot more than that.

Monday’s List of 13: Happy Memorial Day, everyone……..

13) Major league announcers don’t like people bugging them on Twitter about “jinxing” things.

For instance, I have Mike Foltynewicz on my fantasy team; he pitched Saturday and Chip Caray is saying early in the game how “….the Giants haven’t been hitting the ball well lately”, so of course the Giants hit three homers, score five runs fairly early and people are killing Caray on social media for jinxing the squad, at which point he blocks them from following him.

I think there is a middle ground; obviously what Caray says has zero impact on the game, but it still bugs me when announcers come out and say stuff, like he is trying to annoy the anti-jinx faction. There is a way of communicating things without actually saying them.

12) Cardinals’ Paul DeJong homered in his first big league AB Sunday in Denver; he is the 118th major leaguer to homer in his first career at-bat.

11) Mike Trout jammed his left thumb sliding head-first into second base Sunday and left the game. He played a couple innings in the field after the slide but when his turn to bat came he opted out. X-rays were negative; apparently it is a sprained thumb.

10) Any Miami Heat player who puts their hands on their knees for a breather during a practice or game gets fined $100; not surprisingly, this is unique in the NBA.

9) Chris Sale pitches against his old team, the White Sox in Chicago Tuesday. Last year Sale revolted when the White Sox were going to wear throwback dark blue jerseys when he pitched— he took scissors and cut the jerseys up so they couldn’t be worn.

If I owned the White Sox, we would definitely be wearing dark blue jerseys Tuesday night.

8) I bitched and moaned about the home plate umpire in the Bronx Saturday, but there is also this: Jed Lowrie has been a major leaguer for ten years- Saturday was his first ejection, so not like he is chronic complainer. If he was that upset, there was a good reason for it.

I’m upset that the A’s have allowed 34 unearned runs, the most in MLB. There are no sports where you can be good if your defense sucks.

7) In Miami Sunday, a batter let go of the bat with one hand after he swung and his backswing clipped the umpire on the side of his mask— never saw that before. Umps don’t wear helmets under their mask like catchers do; maybe they should.

6) Golfer Zach Johnson got put on the clock by Tour officials Sunday for slow play and got a little upset about it; he dumped all the clubs out of his bag, on the course.

5) 16 games Saturday and no team scored more than six runs, first time in baseball history that has happened. Elias Sports says that Saturday was the 703rd day in MLB history with 16+ games and that goes back to 1876.

4) ABC is bringing The Gong Show back to TV on June 22; in the early 80’s, NBC ran this classic show on daytime TV, with the great Chuck Barris as its madcap, sometimes bizarre host. Gong Show is really a parody of American Idol; people go onstage and try to impress celebrity judges, but most of the acts were mediocre-to-terrible.

Mr Barris passed away earlier this year; the host makes/breaks this show, since the acts aren’t very good, the host damn well better be funny. Never heard of the guy they have hosting this version, but we’ll find out in a few weeks.

Go on Youtube and check out The Gong Show from back in the day; they had a comedian who was a regular who told jokes with a bag over his head (Unknown Comic) and Gene, Gene the Dancing Machine, a stagehand who occasionally would just pop onstage and start dancing as the show went to commercial.

3) The most fun I’ve had as a baseball fan was the 2012 A’s making the playoffs; watched every game on the dish, as they rallied from 13 games behind in an unlikely stretch run. I mention this because it occurs to me that even though big league teams have 25-man rosters, most of the time it takes 32-35 guys, over the course of a season, for a team to make the playoffs.

In 2012, the A’s got two walk-off homers from Brandon Hicks, an infielder who wasn’t even on their playoff roster, but the two games he won with HR’s were the deciding factor in Oakland being division champs. Small contributions from a variety of people made a huge difference.

As far as 2012 being more fun than the 1972-74 A’s who won three straight World Series, I was an obnoxious kid back then and didn’t appreciate it as much as I should’ve. Plus, didn’t see too many games on TV back in the day. Nowadays, it is fun to fun watch all the games.

2) White Sox rookie pitcher Tyler Danish won his first big league start Saturday; when he went to the White Sox FanFest in Chicago last winter, he told someone it was the first time he had ever seen snow in person. Lucky him; wish I had never seen snow.

1) Today is Memorial Day, an important day in our country. Lot of people have risked their lives to protect the freedoms we have in this country. Today is the day we pause to remember these courageous humans who protect us, both now and in the past. Thank you!!!

Sunday Extra: Trying not to get aggravated…….

I tried not to get aggravated Saturday when the A’s lost 3-2 in the Bronx; the home plate ump tossed Jed Lowrie, tossed Bob Melvin. Let’s put it this way; a friend of mine who is a New York fan texted me during the game to tell me how bad home plate umpire Will Little is.

Late Saturday night, got an e-mail from another friend, asking what I thought of Little’s performance Saturday. So I went to my umpire records and looked up how New York has done with Little behind the plate the last three years. Here are the facts from 2015-17:

2015
Bronx W5-2 @ Baltimore +$123 U9
Bronx W3-1 @ Seattle -$115 U7

2016
Bronx W6-3 vs Tampa Bay +$103 O8
Bronx W7-3 vs Kansas City -$130 O8

2017
Bronx W3-2 vs St Louis +$123, U8
Bronx W3-2 vs Oakland -$145, U9.5

Not going to say another bleeping word except this: if you were a big league manager, would you want Will Little umping the plate in a road game in the Bronx?

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

13) The last four times umpire Alan Porter worked home plate, there have been a total of 41 walks (11-11-11-10); this is only the second such streak in 2016-17 in the major leagues- David Rackley had a 4-game streak with 10+ walks LY, but three of his four games went extra innings, including a 13-inning and a 17-inning game. None of Porter’s games went extra frames.

If you care about such things, over is 5-1-1 in Porter’s last seven games behind the plate.

12) Aaron Rodgers gave his offensive linemen $20,000 ATV’s for presents this week; have to take care of the people who protect you.

11) This is the first time ever the Colorado Rockies have had both a winning April and a winning May to start the season.

10) Marlins were down 2-1 in bottom of 5th, had bases loaded and Giancarlo Stanton up, so of course, Dee Gordon gets picked off first by the catcher to end the inning. Do we have a metric for stupidity? Can the numbers guys quantify how deflating something like this is? I didn’t think so……

9) Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood hasn’t allowed a run in his last 25.2 IP; in his last six starts, he is 5-0 with a 1.31 RA. Pretty important guy for a team whose pitchers have been injury-plagued.

8) On July 2, 2013, Jake Arrieta was traded by the Orioles with Pedro Strop and cash to the Cubs for Steve Clevinger and Scott Feldman. Looking back on the trade, it was a huge blunder by the Orioles.

But Arrieta’s career turned around after the trade, when he saw a Pilates studio while walking around Chicago with his wife; he got into a class, he got himself into much better shape and his career took off from there.

About 10-12 years ago, I actually tried Pilates for a couple of weeks (stop laughing); it was really, really hard and I quit (it was hard and I am soft). Sitting on the couch is way more fun.

7) Toronto Blue Jays got Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson back from injuries this weekend; would expect them to go on a roll soon.

6) I have an odd fascination with actors’ resumes, and the roles they’ve played.

Finally saw the Tom Hanks movie about the pilot Sully who landed a commercial airliner in the Hudson River, with no fatalities; his co-pilot in the movie is the same guy who was Al Pacino’s offensive coordinator in Any Given Sunday.

Aaron Eckhart is the guy; very good actor. He also played Texas Longhorns’ coaching legend Darrell Royal in a movie about the Longhorns.

5) A junior high teacher in Houston gave out certificates to students, included one given to a student that said “Most likely to become a terrorist.” Apparently, the teacher wasn’t kidding.

What would inspire someone to actually do that? Do they want to get fired? If you don’t like your students, fine; just keep it to yourself.

4) Found a new bad TV show to watch late at night; Second Wives’ Club, on E! about these young women who married rich, older men who had all been married at least once before. Not sure why I enjoy watching it, but the people in it are so repulsive it is hard to turn it off.

3) White Sox 3, Tigers 1— Chicago pitchers walked nine, struck out 15 as Tyler Danish won his first major league start. Very unusual for a team to walk 9+ guys in a game and win, much less toss a shutout. Detroit left 12 men on base, in the first game of a twinbill.

Detroit’s Michael Fulmer threw 96 pitches in his 8-inning complete game. White Sox pitchers threw a total of 185 pitches in nine innings. Weird game.

2) Red Sox 6, Mariners 0— Seattle lost six of last seven games; they’re 1-7 in last eight road tilts. In their first two games at Fenway this weekend, Mariners didn’t scored a run.

1) RIP to Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning 85, who pitched 17 years in the big leagues, tossed a perfect game, and later served 24 years in Congress. Thats a full life. RIP, sir.

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

13) This from the Associated Press: A naked man in Florida was arrested driving away from a storage center in a stolen pickup truck loaded with a statue of a large, black and white checkered swan that’s worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd had this to say: “Look folks. Where are you going to hide a five-foot tall, checkered swan? If someone’s harboring this swan and not telling us, we’re going to put them in jail. And we hope when we find them, they have clothes on.”

Alrighty then……..

12) Interesting article in the Houston Chronicle Friday on the guy who takes care of the pitching mound at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Important job that we don’t think about a lot— this guy has worked for the Astros for 46 years as a groundskeeper- the pitchers swear by the job he does keeping the mound, and pitchers are particular about their workplace.

11) Lonzo Ball isn’t going to do a pre-draft workout for the Celtics, who have the first pick in the NBA Draft; what the hell happens if Boston drafts Ball?

10) Joe Davis is the Dodgers’ play-by-play guy; he is very good, also does basketball on FS1, is just excellent at his job. The thing is, he is only 29 years old, which doesn’t seem possible. He is replacing the greatest baseball announcer ever (Vin Scully) but is doing it very well.

9) ESPN signed Chip Kelly as an analyst for its ESPN2 football coverage, which could be very interesting. Curious to see what the former Oregon-Eagles coach has to say.

8) Tampa Bay Rays had 521 strikeouts thru 50 games, the most by any team ever thru 50 games, 26 more than the next-highest, last year’s Astros.

7) Rangers faced four Boston relievers in the last three innings Thursday nite; all nine batters struck out. In all, 20 of the 27 Texas outs in that game came on strikeouts.

6) Mississippi State had two basketball players transfer this week: Mario Kegler and Eli Wright. Rough week for Ben Howland. Bulldogs had the 2nd-least experienced team in the country last year; Kegler played 70% of the time, Wright 30%. Pretty big loss.

5) When Joe Gibbs coached the Redskins, he had a fine schedule for various offenses; one of the fines was $100 for spraining your ankle if you didn’t have it wrapped/taped beforehand. This is 25-30 years ago, so $100 fine was more than it sounds like now.

If a player missed a trainer’s/doctor’s appointment, the fine was $300.

4) The Ben Simmons infomercial was on Showtime again Friday afternoon; its been almost a year since he was drafted and we still have no idea how good the kid is. We know Simmons is already really rich; we’ve heard he’s grown two inches and is just about 7-feet tall, but still no one knows if he’s going to be any good. He played one year at LSU and his team was a disaster; he is going to be needed to be a team leader— can he do that?

3) Golden State is $260, Cleveland +$220 in the NBA Finals which don’t start until Thursday (why?!?!?!) and could stretch out for 18 days, if it goes seven games.

2) There is nothing in sports- NOTHING as good as overtime in a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Had one of those Thursday night, as the Penguins broke the heart of everyone in Canada with a 3-2 double OT win over the Ottawa Senators. Tremendous drama.

People in Ottawa greeted the Senators when they landed at the airport at 3am, sitting thru the rain to applaud their team after a great season.

1) There have been 27 major league games rained out this season, more than all of last year.

Friday’s List of 13: Random stuff with the long weekend here

13) One of the tough parts about coaching in the NFL is when there is tension between the offense and defense; one side of the ball doesn’t carry its weight and the losing that results creates dissension and other problems.

Seattle Seahawks have been really good the last several years, but they also have lot of strong personalities; there are stories on the Interweb this spring of defensive players being unhappy with the offense, both players/coaches, since the Super Bowl loss to New England, when Seattle had the ball on the Patriots’ goal line at the end of the game but failed to score.

Its going to take maturity from the players involved to soothe things; the Seahawks’ window is closing- they have lot of veteran guys. Will be interesting to follow that this fall, especially if they bring Colin Kaepernick in as a backup QB.

12) South Point Casino has one of the best sportsbooks in Las Vegas; they posted odds Thursday for Week 1 of college football, which is Labor Day weekend. With game limits at $1,000 a game, they had $70,000 in action in the first two hours the lines were posted.

11) College basketball teams are allowed to take one overseas trip in the offseason every four years. Among the teams taking overseas trips this summer: Arizona State, Butler, Oklahoma, TCU and Kansas. These trips really help, as far as improving team chemistry and also the ten practices teams can have before the trip.

10) Cavaliers 135, Celtics 102— Cleveland’s 75 first half points were the most first half points in any NBA playoff game since Dallas had 83 against the Kings in a 2003 game.

The NBA has a problem when Charles Barkley is on TV, saying he is going back to his hotel to watch the hockey game on TV, instead of the NBA game.

9) David Price will make his 2017 debut for the Red Sox Monday afternoon, against the White Sox in Chicago. Price is in the second year of a 7-year, $217M contract; he has had problems with elbow/forearm inflammation.

8) Thursday was Ryan Braun’s 10th anniversary as a big leaguer, and since his whole career has been with Milwaukee, that makes him a 10-and-5 man; Brewers can’t trade him now without his consent. (Braun left Thursday night’s game with a pulled calf muscle.)

7) In case you were wondering, Cardinals’ WR Mel Gray (14), Redskins’ WR Charley Taylor (13) have scored the most TD’s against the Dallas Cowboys.

6) Astros’ reliever Jordan Jankowski made his MLB debut against Detroit this week; his wife’s name is also Jordan Jankowski- she is pregnant. Mrs Jankowski was openly sobbing in the stands as her husband was making his debut- tears of joy, I’m assuming. Always good to see happy people.

5) Baseball season is 54 days old; Dodgers have already put 20 players on the DL.

4) Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen seems like a good guy; he was on Paul Finebaum’s show on EPSNU Thursday, which was at a golf course where it was pouring rain.

Without missing a beat, Mullen looks at the rain and says: “I’d play thru. I don’t think the heavy stuff is going to come down for a while”, a direct quote from Bill Murray in Caddyshack.

You think Nick Saban could rattle off a Caddyshack quote like that? I think not.

3) Mets have eight players on the DL; Terry Collins has apparently stopped talking to the media about injured players and their conditions— has the front office told him to stop? If so, postgame talks will either be really contentious or really short— there isn’t a whole lot else to talk about with this team, which at this point isn’t a good team.

2) Padres 4, Mets 3— More incompetence from the Mets, who lose here to a pitcher named LaMet; they scratched Jacob deGrom from his start Thursday because it might rain— it did rain some, but the game was never even delayed and the Mets lost to the woeful Padres. Now deGrom has a tougher task Friday, pitching at Pittsburgh. Geniuses.

1) For me, the worst part of being an Oakland A’s fan is that this time of year, with the A’s drifting near the bottom of the standings at 21-25, speculation has started about their trading their better players for prospects, to restock their farm system.

ESPN’s Buster Olney writes about this stuff a lot this time of year; I wish I had a dollar every time he wrote “A’s to trade Barry Zito to New York”, which never happened, but now he comes out with his “Sonny Gray is on the trading block” story Thursday. Oy.

Have some imagination; write about trades AFTER they happen. Find some other interesting stuff to write about. Small market fans are tired of having their pockets picked every summer, whether in real life or by lazy sportswriters looking for an easy story to write.

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

13) Dodgers beat St Louis 2-1 in 13 innings late Tuesday night, but Cardinals tied the game in the 9th inning in an odd way. Clayton Kershaw was going for a complete game shutout but threw a wild pitch with a man on second and Randall Grichuk scored all the way from second with the tying run. Don’t see that more than a couple of times a year.

12) That game Tuesday started the Cardinals out on a 47-game in 48-day stretch that takes them up to the All-Star break. Has to be a makeup game in there somewhere, since teams generally aren’t allowed to play more than 20 consecutive days.

11) They had a 3:12 rain delay in Atlanta Tuesday nite; with non-division opponents only visiting a city once a year, teams don’t want to have to play doubleheaders, so they wait the rain out and finish the game when they can, which in this case was close to 2am.

10) If you’re trying to develop young pitchers, like the Milwaukee Brewers are, is it smart to have your AAA farm team in the high altitude of Colorado Springs?

Arizona, Colorado, Milwaukee, San Diego and the Mets all have their AAA teams in high altitude cities.

9) North Carolina’s 6-10 Tony Bradley scored 7.1 pts/game in 14.6 minutes per game, but he is bolting to the NBA, UNC’s first one/done player since 2007 (Brandan Wright).

8) Most overused word in English language these days: “process”. If ballplayers don’t know what to say during an interview, they “trust the process”- its become a cliche.

7) Former Duke guard Frank Jackson had a stress reaction in his foot last winter at Duke but reportedly played pain-free through the season, but decided to have surgery on the foot now to begin the rehabilitation process- he is expected to be back by late July, but summer league is in early July.

Unless the kid got a promise from an NBA team that they will draft him, what on earth was he thinking, signing with an agent? That prevented him from going back to school, having the operation on Duke’s dime, rehabbing all summer and then playing for the Blue Devils next winter.

6) Purdue’s chances of making the Final Four next spring went down the drain when big man Caleb Swanigan stayed in the NBA Draft. Matt Painter is suspect as a game coach, so they probably wouldn’t have made it anyway, but having Swanigan gave them an advantage.

5) All-time, there have been 18,988 major league baseball players; Houston’s new backup catcher Juan Centeno became the 875th all-time Astro this week.

4) Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon has 44 RBI, most in the major leagues and he bats leadoff— part of that is because Colorado has sacrificed 22 times (most in MLB) this year, giving him lot of guys in scoring position when he bats.

Blackmon has come to bat with a guy on 3rd base 15 times this year (T2 in MLB), also 15 times with a man on second base (most in MLB). Makes it easier to get a lot of RBI that way.

3) Phillies were 12-12 on May 1st; they are 3-17 since then, with all three wins in games started by Jeremy Hellickson- they’ve lost their last 15 games not started by Hellickson.

2) If/when David Ortiz gets in the Hall of Fame and I think he will, then Edgar Martinez has to get in, too, since that would eliminate the anti-DH bias. Playing in Seattle shouldn’t work against him; Ortiz played in the eastern media spotlight, Martinez didn’t.

Martinez had a career on-base percentage of .418, he hit .312 with 309 homers. A great hitter.

1) Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz spent 10 days in LA this spring with QB gurus Adam Dedeaux and Tom House (of baseball fame), to improve his throwing mechanics, I guess. Doug Pederson is the Eagles’ coach, a former NFL QB and apparently he wasn’t all that happy Wentz did that.

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

13) Washington Nationals are only current division leader in the major leagues who were in the playoffs last season. Lot of upheaval early this year.

12) Why would you catch a home run at a big league ballgame and throw it back on the field? That bothers me every time I see it; you catch a home run, keep the damn thing or give it to a little kid.

Speaking of home runs, Cincinnati’s Amir Garrett has allowed 10 homers in his last 25.1 IP, which is not good.

11) Nationals 10, Mariners 1— From Justin Havens on Twitter: Seattle’s Christian Bergman is the first big league pitcher since 1950 to allow 14+ hits, 10+ runs in a game, without striking anyone out. Much of the damage against Bergman came during a very steady rain, but still, hard to believe he isn’t on his way back to AAA as you read this.

10) Xavier got great news Tuesday; star guard Trevon Bluiett will be back with the Musketeers this winter; decisions like this turn teams from marginal contenders to top 25 teams, with an outside shot to make the Final Four.

9) Mets 9, Padres 3— For the third time in their last four games, San Diego’s starting pitcher allowed 5+ runs in the first inning. Hell of a job GM AJ Preller is doing— he went to Cornell, so of course he is qualified to run a major league baseball team.

Meanwhile the manager Preller fired in San Diego two years ago, Bud Black, has the Colorado Rockies in first place. Black went to San Diego State.

8) Baseball oddity last night: Michael Conforto is the first Met leadoff hitter EVER to drive in three runs in the first inning of a game.

Conforto homered to lead off the game, then when the Mets batted around, he knocked in two more runs in his next AB.

7) SLS Hotel/Casino was sold this week to the owners of the Grand Sierra in Reno. SLS has the smallest hotel room I’ve ever seen— I was laughing when I first checked in at how small it was, but SLS is a cool place with lot of good food choices. Not much of a sportsbook, though.

6) If you see the Progressive Insurance commercial where the guys are in a man cave watching football, the game on that TV is from the USFL around 30 years ago— Jm Kelly playing for the Houston Gamblers, against the Memphis Showboats (I think it is Memphis).

If companies use NFL highlights for commercials, they have to pay for them. Old USFL footage is apparently free, even though Donald Trump owned one of the teams (NJ Generals).

5) Over the last seven years, Oregon’s basketball team is 33-15 against the spread when getting points in a conference game— Vanderbilt is 27-13-1 over the last four years as an SEC underdog.

4) Since joining the WCC, BYU is 2-11 against the spread in WCC tournament games; 2-6 when a favorite, 0-5 when an underdog.

3) Odd fact of the day: 18% of the world’s milk comes from India, making India the largest supplier of milk/butter in the world. They said it on Pawn Stars; it must be true.

2) Cavaliers 112, Celtics 99— Cleveland leads this series 3-1.

1) Bad news for my right thumb; Odell Beckham Jr got a huge deal with Nike this week, meaning there will be a flood of commercials with the Giants’ WR this season and in coming years, which means increased use of the mute button on my remote and/or simply changing channels.

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

13) Apparently there are severe political problems in Venezuela which are stressing out lot of the Venezuelan ballplayers playing in the major leagues here.

Chip Caray said on the Braves game last night there are over 90 players/coaches from Venezuela in professional baseball right now. If a ballplayer here speaks out against what is going on there, it can have severe repercussions for his family back home. Not a good situation.

12) So far, 631 college basketball players have announced the intent to transfer; 271 of them haven’t said where they’re going yet. Thats just about two transfers per Division I team.

11) According to people in Las Vegas who know about such things, when Celtics (+16) won Game 3 in Cleveland Sunday, it was the third biggest upset in ANY NBA game in the last 22 years, coming after a Nuggets (+17) upset of Washington in ’97 and the Lakers’ (+17) upset of Golden State last fall.

10) Gonzaga/Creighton signed to play a home/home series; sounds a made-for-TV deal, which is good for us, the viewing public. Good for Gonzaga’s strength of schedule, too. Creighton plays in the Big East, so their SOS doesn’t need the help.

9) No baseball team has ever started 12-24 or worse and rallied to make the playoffs.

8) Last fall, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave around 200 policemen in North Little Rock game tickets and transportation to Cowboys’ games in Dallas, as a way of thanking them for their service. Now all that has been ruled an ethics violation, for the cops accepting the gifts. Jones refused reimbursement; seems to me that all this lacks some common sense, but thats just me.

7) Monday was former major league pitcher Tommy John’s 74th birthday; the crafty lefty pitched 2,544 innings AFTER the revolutionary elbow surgery in 1963, that now bears his name.

6) Atlanta Hawks’ Paul Millsap is voiding the last year for his $21.4M contract and will become a free agent this summer. Millsap is 32 but still a highly productive player.

5) Braves 5, Pirates 2— Ender Inciarte had five hits for the Braves, first Atlanta player to do that since Jason Hayward four years ago.

Newly acquired Matt Adams homered for the Braves, making him the first person to homer for two different teams in brand new SunTrust Park— he homered for St Louis there earlier this season.

4) We talked a few days ago about Arizona’s Chris Iannetta getting hit by a pitch in the face, breaking his nose and a couple of teeth. Iannetta came off the 7-day DL Sunday and hit a homer in his first at-bat back, which can’t be an easy thing to do.

3) Warriors 129, Spurs 115— Took Kevin Durant’s advice and watched baseball instead. Golden State now awaits the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, assuming Cleveland can put away an underdog Celtics team playing without its best player, Isaiah Thomas.

This was the last NBA game for Manu Ginobili, who had a great, great career.

2) Two drivers who will compete in the Indianapolis 500 this weekend were robbed at gunpoint of a drive-thru window at a Taco Bell in Indianapolis Sunday night. The crime was perpetrated by two kids, a 14 and 15-year old, at 9:40 pm. I have no idea what else to say about this.

1) Nashville 6, Anaheim 3— Predators are in the Stanley Cup final for the first time ever.

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

13) Had an excellent time Sunday night at the Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame induction dinner in Troy; my friend Rob got inducted- he was a great player at U of Albany and also won a gold medal in the 1980 Empire State Games, when he was a teammate of Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle- their team played small ball and beat teams with more famous players.

Carlisle, former NBA coach Kevin O’Neill and former Marquette coach Mike Deane all spoke at the dinner. Albany Great Danes’ coach Will Brown was also inducted into the Hall of Fame. All in all, an excellent evening.

12) Odd Sunday in baseball; 30 of 32 starting pitchers got decisions in their games. None of the 16 games played saw the game-winning run score after the 6th inning. Very unusual day.

11) Over is 14-1 in last fifteen games played at Wrigley Field; wind was blowing straight in on Friday and the game still went over the total.

10) Friday night, the Dodgers’ Corey Seager swung at a 3-0 pitch while LA led 5-0, which for some reason ticked off Miami manager Don Mattingly. Soon after that, the Marlins drilled Brett Eibner with a pitch, so then the Dodgers threw a ball behind Giancarlo Stanton.

Stanton got hit in the face with a pitch a couple years ago in Milwaukee and still wears an extra face guard, so Mattingly endangered his best player’s health because an opponent swung at a 3-0 pitch in a 5-0 game. Brilliant!!!

9) Movie recommendation: Wizard of Lies on HBO,  with Robert DeNiro playing Bernie Madoff, the Ponzi scheme huckster who bilked a lot of people out of billions of dollars. It isn’t a pleasant movie or at all uplifting, but it is really well done.

8) Indiana Tech, a college in Fort Wayne, is offering scholarships to video gamers who play League of Legends and Hearthstone. This is a world I know nothing about, but apparently it is a growing industry. Go figure.

Too bad they didn’t offer Pac-Man scholarships back in the day; could’ve saved some money.

7) Astros catcher Brian McCann (concussion) goes on 7-day DL. Dodgers sent Julio Urias down to AAA, called Josh Ravin up for some bullpen depth.

6) Brewers-Cubs game was rained out very early Saturday morning, but then it didn’t rain in the afternoon, so the game could/should have been played. It was the Cubs’ decision and the Milwaukee people didn’t see too happy about it; they also seemed a little mystified as to why.

Milwaukee called up pitcher Tyler Cravy from AAA Saturday; the game got rained out, then Ryan Braun got activated off the DL and Cravy was sent back to Colorado Springs. No bueno.

5) Jose Reyes got his 2,000th hit Saturday night; 1,398 of them have come with the Mets. He sat out Sunday’s game with a “tweaked rib cage”.

4) Looks like Kawhi Leonard will sit out tonight’s Game 4 of Spurs-Warriors series, meaning we won’t see him play until next fall, since Golden State will end this series tonite.

David Lee has a partially torn patella; been a rough couple weeks for the Spurs.

3) In the last 24 days, utility infielder Chase d’Arnaud has gone from the Braves to the Red Sox to the Padres, who need all the major leaguers they can get. He was a 1.000 hitter for Boston (1-1 with two runs scored in two games).

2) Celtics 111, Cavaliers 108— Cleveland led by 21 points against a Boston team playing without star Isaiah Thomas, but Celtics rallied and pulled a huge upset. Good for the Celtics, good for Brad Stevens, great for the NBA, which desperately needs some competitive playoff games.

1) What would happen if American Idol had one season where all the contestants were 50+ years old? I think it would be a big hit. Would be a gamble, but in my opinion, a winning one.

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

13) Lebron James isn’t one of the three finalists for NBA’s MVP; they should change the name of the award to Player of the Year, because no one is as valuable to their team as James is to the Cavaliers. He is so consistently great he gets taken for granted.

12) Atlanta Braves acquired 1B Matt Adams from St Louis for a minor leaguer; they need a bat with Freddie Freeman out for the next 2-3 months.

11) Baseball oddity; in Jason deGrom’s last two starts, he had the same home plate umpire, Phil Cuzzi, who switched crews this week, for some reason. Very rare for the same umpire to work two starts in a row by the same pitcher.

10) Cloud Computing ($28.80) won the Preakness, only the 4th time in the last 34 years the Preakness winner was a horse that didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby.

9) White Sox are apparently close to signing 19-year old outfielder Luis Robert, who is thought to be the best unsigned Cuban prospect right now. The young man defected from Cuba and is Haiti these days— he is going to be really, really rich pretty soon.

8) Best wishes to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who recently had an 8th operation on his right eye, after he detached a retina last year. Zimmer missed one game and coached another while wearing an eye patch.

7) Texas Rangers quietly won ten games in a row; while they’re still 6.5 games behind Houston in the AL West, if the playoffs started now, Texas would be one of the Wild Card teams.

6) When he went to the NBA Combine 10 years ago, Kevin Durant couldn’t lift 185 pounds, which isn’t good but hasn’t seemed to hamper his career much. Now Durant advises prospects to skip the combine. At some point in all of this scouting over-analysis, the primary question has to be: “Can he play?”, not “Is he is a candidate to win a gold medal in the clean-and-jerk?”

5) Astros’ pitching ace Dallas Keuchel is on the 10-day DL with a pinched nerve in his neck. The new 10-day DL allows teams to simply skip a pitcher’s turn if he has a minor injury, which this one supposedly is.

4) Pointspreads on Cavaliers (-14.5) and Warriors (-13.5) this weekend are the biggest in any NBA conference final game since 2005.

3) Before the Nationals-Braves game Saturday, after the national anthem on what was Military Appreciation Day, Bryce Harper posed for pictures with service members for several minutes. Pretty cool to see; the media is so quick to point out bad things about people. Nice to see the good things these guys do.

2) Oklahoma City Thunder’s Enes Kanter is from Turkey; he was traveling in Europe this weekend, but because of his political beliefs (I have no idea what they are), his passport was voided by the Turkish government. With no “valid” passport, Kanter was not allowed to enter Romania and was later put on a flight to London, on his way back to this country.

NBA has thought about putting some teams in Europe eventually; you wonder if stuff like this will put a kibosh on those ideas. It is a crazy world out there.

1) Think about this week in Washington, when Kurdish protestors were getting beat up by the Turkish president’s bodyguards out in the open on the street; Turkey must be a really fun place to live. We are lucky to live in this country; it isn’t perfect here, but it is a hell of a lot better than most places.

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

13) Paolo Espino is 30 years old; he’s pitched in the minor leagues for 10 years— 291 games, 191 starts, 1,304 IP. Finally, this week he got the call to the major leagues and started for Milwaukee at Wrigley Field Friday.

Imagine the emotion he felt? How excited he must’ve been? His dad flew all the way from Panama to see the game. Luckily for him, the wind was whipping hard and it was blowing in, which makes Wrigley a supreme pitchers’ park.

12) Brandon Kintzner is the Twins’ closer; he’s 32 years old, from Palo Verde HS in Las Vegas and Dixie State in Utah. Back in 2009, he was offered a chance to try out for the role of Tim Hudson in Moneyball, but chose instead to play in an independent league all-star game.

Luckily for him, the Brewers spotted him at the All-Star Game, signed him to a minor league deal and he made it to Miller Park the next year. Now he is the Twins’ closer and a good one.

11) Jose Abreu hasn’t homered in 66 plate appearances at home this year; he’s hit seven in 95 PA’s on the road. That could be weather-related; Abreu’s bat has often heated up when the weather does. Hasn’t been too warm on the south side of Chicago this spring.

10) Quick story from my days coaching Little League:

I was an assistant coach; my future ex-wife’s nephew was on the team, which wasn’t a good team. I’m warming up our starting pitcher at practice one night; he throws strikes, but didn’t throw hard, but at least he throws strikes.

After three pitches, the kid says to me, “You know, I can pitch left-handed.” I’m thinking to myself, “Kid, you can barely pitch right-handed.”  But our team wasn’t good, so I tell him to throw me a couple left-handed.

Well, what do you know; the kid threw much harder, and a heavy ball— he was good!!!! I’m like, what took you so long to tell us? Now I have to break the news to our head coach without him thinking I’m pranking him.

We didn’t have a good season, but the kid did real well pitching lefty (he also was a catcher and played righty as a catcher); he would’ve made the All-Star team except his dad got transferred out-of-state for work so the family moved as soon as school got out.

Just goes to show you; keep your ears open. You never know what you might hear.

9) Anaheim Ducks’ Corey Perry has three overtime goals in the NHL playoffs this spring, the first player to do that since Maurice Richard in 1951.

8) There have been 26 overtime games in the NHL playoffs this spring; the record is 28 (1993), they had 27 in 2013. Playoff hockey is way more fun to watch than the NBA playoffs.

7) When the Las Vegas Golden Knights have their expansion draft next month (yes, the NHL has a team in Las Vegas now), the Knights will select 30 players- they have to take at least one player from every team in the league.

6) Stayed up late Thursday night watching a replay of Super Bowl XIV, from January of 1980, Rams-Steelers. Long time ago, but I had never seen the replay of that game. Rams had won seven division titles in a row, but only made the Super Bowl in ’79 after they started the season 4-5 and survived a bunch of injuries.

Some observations from the broadcast:
— Football was way different in 1980; guys got hit out of bounds a few times- no flags.
— TV graphics were obviously way worse; no game clock on the screen until the last minute.
— CBS analyst Tom Brookshier wouldn’t have lasted two weeks in today’s politically correct world. He was funny as hell and told the truth, but people today don’t always want the truth.
— The whole world is so different now; there were over 100,000 people there, doubt any of them had phones in their pockets. How many people go to games now without a cellphone?
— Rams basically played that Super Bowl at home, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was their last year at the Coliseum before they moved to Anaheim.
— Teams substituted so much less then than they do now, from play-to-play.

5) Miami Marlins hired former big league OF Todd Hollandworth as a TV analyst this year; he is very good, and for one reason— Marlins’ broadcasts are like listening to Hollandsworth and Rich Waltz sit around and talk about ball. They’re not announcing the game as much as they’re just talking about baseball and having a good time. Very relaxed; fun to listen to.

4) My personal opinion on the NBA Draft is this: If I ran an NBA franchise and could take Lonzo Ball, I wouldn’t let his father’s antics make me pick someone else.

That is assuming I thought Ball was the best player available and fitted what my team needed. UCLA had a terrific season this past year; the kid is a really good player. NBA players are well-versed in tuning out distractions.

3) Ryan Fitzpatrick signed as a free agent QB with the Buccaneers; if he throws a pass for Tampa Bay this season, he’ll be the sixth QB in NFL history to throw a pass for seven different teams, joining: Jeff Blake, Steve Bono, Chris Chandler, Gus Frerotte and Vinny Testaverde.

2) Je’rell Springer didn’t play HS basketball last winter due to eligibility issues after he changed schools in Las Vegas, but he got a scholarship from Southern Utah anyway, turning down BYU, an unusual choice. Springer is a great get for the Big Sky’s Thunderbirds.

1) Will Nerd Power catch on in Milwaukee? Eric Sogard (he wears glasses when he plays) came up to the Brewers this week and went 10-17 (.588) in his first six games with the Crew, with two 4-hit games. This is the same guy who hit .239 in 1,210 AB’s over six years in Oakland.

Sogard was once a 2nd round draft pick by the Padres out of Arizona State; terrific fielder. Wish he had hit like this for the A’s.

My condolences to Brewers’ TV analyst Bill Schroeder, whose mom passed away this week. I lost my dad two years ago last night; miss him every day.

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

13) Bad news for my Rams (and the Chargers); there has been so much rain in Los Angeles this year that excavation at the construction of the new stadium in Inglewood has been delayed- the opening date for the new stadium has been pushed back until the 2020 football season.

12) One small quirk here; the Super Bowl after the 2020 season is supposed to be in this stadium, but NFL rules say a stadium can’t host a Super Bowl in the first year it is open. We’ll see about that.

11) More LA Coliseum news; the Coliseum has apparently sold its naming rights to United Airlines; hopefully this doesn’t mean fans will get dragged out of the stadium by their feet if games are sold out.

10) Jose Altuve had two doubles and two triples Wednesday, the first major leaguer to do that since Carl Crawford in 2005. Oddly, Altuve didn’t score a run despite the four extra-base hits.

9) There are seven schools in the SEC West; all seven of their football coaches make $4M+ a year. Boosters at the schools who finish 6th and 7th ain’t gonna be happy.

8) Jalen Poyser has transferred from UNLV to St Bonaventure; there are very few places in this country more different than Las Vegas and Olean, NY.

Mountain West and Atlantic 14 are very similarly-ranked leagues. Poyser is from Ontario so he is a lot closer to home now. He should be a much stronger kid by time he is eligible to play in 2018-19.

7) New York Mets’ starting pitchers have an ERA of 5.13 this season, 14th in the 15-team NL, which is really hard to believe, given the level of hype their pitchers get.

6) Bad news for the Atlanta Braves; star 1B Freddie Freeman has a broken wrist, is out 8-10 weeks. He was hit by a pitch Wednesday night.

5) Miguel Cabrera will miss the next couple of games with an oblique strain, which I think used to be called an abdominal muscle. Not having many muscles myself, I’m not totally sure.

4) Weird story of the day: A Girl Scout leader in Kentucky absconded with $15,000 in Girl Scout cookies and is now on the lam. What makes people do stuff like this?

3) A writer in California who used to write jokes for Jay Leno is suing Conan O’Brien for stealing at least five jokes from him in 2014-15. Stealing jokes is no laughing matter.

2) In the NBA this season, 77.2% of free throws were made, the highest percentage ever. Last year, 11 of 12 teams in the WNBA shot higher than 77.2% on the foul line- Connecticut shot 71.5% on the foul line. Seven of 12 WNBA teams shot higher than 80% on the charity stripe last year.

In the NBA this season, 35.8% of 3-pointers were made. Only three of 12 WNBA teams shot better than that on the arc last season, even though the basketball is smaller and the arc is slightly closer than in the NBA.

1) Somebody didn’t vote Russell Westbrook 1st team all-NBA this season; this person needs to be identified, because thats just dumb. They should probably lose their voting rights, too.