Thursday’s List of 13: A night of basketball in Las Vegas…….

13) I was at the AAU game in Las Vegas last night, pitting the SC Supreme against the Big Ballers in a pool play game. The place was ridiculously crowded, so crowded that the game was almost cancelled due to concerns about crowding from the fire marshal.

First of all, this is a very organized, well-run event; seven games going on at all times under one roof in the Cashman Center, with bleachers and a good concession stand, but a lot more people than usual showed up to watch last night.

They put out boxscores for these games, which is great. Lot of work goes into doing a good job of running a tournament like this.

12) Most people I listened to before the game thought SC Supreme, featuring top recruit Zion Williamson, would dispose of LaVar Ball’s team easily, but the Ballers played their hearts out and didn’t get blown out, losing 104-92 in a raggedy game.

11) “Unreal. Never seen anything like it,” Kansas coach Bill Self, who was at the game, told ESPN.

10) Supposedly, Lebron James came to the Cashman Center for the game, but didn’t come in when he was told about the crowd concerns. Four or five other NBA players were at the game.

9) OK, so you know I love boxscores; here are some stats from this game:

— SC Supreme was 0-2 on the arc in this game; Ballers were 15-46. Wow
— LaMelo Ball scored 36 points; was 7-15 inside the arc, 3-12 outside the arc, 13-16 on the line. He is a good passer, but is more of a shoot-first guy than his older brother Lonzo, who was also at this game.
— Zion Williamson, one of the best high school players in the country, scored 31 points in 31:00, but was only 7-20 on the foul line- his teammates were 25-34.
— SC Supreme shot 57.1% from the floor, were 32-54 on the foul line.
— Ballers’ five subs who played took a total of two shots in 34:00 played.

8) LaVar Ball has become semi-famous for his promotional skills; he seems to crave attention, but during the game, he was quiet, sitting with this ankles crossed watching the game. He did get a technical foul in the second half.

As for the Ballers’ defense, I’ll say this: they rebounded and went after loose balls with great abandon— they trapped the ball a lot but other than that, SC Supreme got a lot of layups.

7) Underrated weird event of the evening: Guy who was coaching the SC Supreme team was roaming the sidelines while holding his young son (looked about 2 years old) with his left arm the entire first half. Kid looked like he was asleep with his head on his dad’s left shoulder.

6) I saw four games Wednesday; best of the four was Compton Magic beating Iowa Barnstormers 73-62; Compton shot 69% from the floor in the second half, pulling away late after blowing a double-digit lead earlier in the game.

5) So these end-of-summer national AAU events are fun to watch; talented kids from all over the country playing each other and trying to earn college scholarships. Good stuff.

Elsewhere in the world……..
4) Michael Vick wants to become a football coach, is an intern for the KC Chiefs this summer. Plaxico Burress is a coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals.

3) If you’ve seen the TV show Billions on Showtime, the guy who plays pizzeria owner Bruno was a decorated police officer in real life, a “gold-star” officer, so that is pretty cool.

2) The A’s have to demote closer Santiago Casilla; he is awful. Oakland led 2-0 in 9th inning last night, Casilla faced three batters, all of whom scored. I’m grateful I wasn’t around a TV to see it.

1) Trailblazers saved $60M in salary/luxury tax by trading Allen Crabbe to the Nets.

Wednesday’s Den: Random Lists of 3:

13) If I were 17 again, three colleges I’d consider attending:
Cal-Santa Barbara, Pepperdine, Cal-Irvine…….I would’ve flunked out of UNLV as quickly as it could possibly have happened. Hell, I had a hard time getting thru UAlbany.

12) Favorite TV analysts, any sport: a) Jeff Van Gundy, NBA b) Ron Darling, MLB c) Troy Aikman NFL

11) Underrated events a sports fan should attend:
a) NBA Summer League— For $30, can watch pro basketball all day, and when you’re done, you are in Las Vegas.
b) Any pro golf tournament— Interesting how quiet thousands of people can be. A guy finishes his 18 holes, and is back on the driving range fairy quickly- they practice A LOT.
c) Minor league baseball— For $10 or $12, can watch future major leaguers in action.

10) Favorite kinds of soda: a) Dr Brown’s cream soda b) Cherry Coke c) Sierra Mist

9) If I had a son who was a bigtime basketball recruit, I’d want him to play for one of these three coaches: a) Bob Huggins b) Roy Williams c) James Jones (Yale)

8) Three stadiums/arenas I’d like to visit someday:
a) Tiger Stadium, LSU football b) Oakland Coliseum (baseball) c) Hinkle Fieldhouse (college hoop)

7) Three stadiums/arenas I loved watching a game in:
a) Thomas & Mack Arena (UNLV) b) Edward Jones Dome (St Louis Rams) c) Minute Maid Park (Astros baseball)

6) Three other random observations about sports:
a) Going to a NASCAR race would be too loud for me.
b) I’d like to see some Japanese pro baseball on TV during the All-Star break. Don’t need any announcers, just good graphics. MLB Network should do this.
c) I think I’d be a good radio talkshow host, and I bet most of you think you could be, too. I’m envious seeing some of these people make $5-6M a year to talk about sports.

5) Annoying people: a) Both Donald Trumps b) LaVar Ball c) Jeffrey Loria (Marlins owner)

4) My team has the ball on its own 20-yard line, 2:00 to go, we’re down 3. QB’s I would want running my team: a) John Elway b) Kurt Warner c) Ben Roethlisberger

3) Bases loaded, two outs, game tied, bottom of 9th; I’d want these hitters up:
a) Jose Altuve b) Paul Goldschmidt c) Josh Donaldson

2) Things that bother me, whether they should or shouldn’t:
a) When Lebron James has the ball late in the game, and he gets criticized for passing the ball to an open teammate- thats what he is supposed to do.
b) LSU firing Les Miles as football coach, because he didn’t win as much as Nick Saban has won at Alabama. Miles won more at LSU than Saban did.
c) Astros not being on national TV enough; they’re great fun to watch. If MLB wants big ratings for the playoffs, they need to promote Houston/Washington more.

1) Three other fun things I’ve gotten a chance to do………
a) Got to sit in on a UNLV basketball practice couple years ago. I was a student manager in college, was very interesting to see how a D-1 practice is run.
b) Watch first weekend of NCAA tournament in a Las Vegas sports book. Good stuff.
c) Once shot free throws for beer during a timeout at an Albany Patroons CBA game; for every FT I made in 0:24, I got a case of beer. Made 4 out of 7, but I don’t like beer. Tried to trade it for four cases of Coca-Cola; wasn’t happening. 🙁

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

13) Tampa Bay Rays traded for struggling reliever Sergio Romo this weekend; why? Rays are 51-49 this season, right in the playoff mix, but they’re 14-23 in games where the winning run scores after the 6th inning.

If games were five innings long and not nine, Tampa Bay would be 54-29-17, so they’ve taken a hit in late inning situations this season. Maybe Romo can help. At least it is a sign from the front office to the players that they’re trying to win.

12) Aaron Boone was gushing on Sunday Night Baseball about how fun/exciting this week is, because of trade deadline activity- the trade deadline is Monday.

I’ve been an A’s fan since 1965; since 1975, the A’s have spent a lot of time dealing their better/more expensive players to wealthy teams at the trade deadline. Trade deadline week isn’t fun for me or anyone else who roots for the A’s or small market teams who aren’t miraculously contending that year.

11) Colts’ QB Andrew Luck had shoulder surgery in the offseason; he starts training camp on the PUP List (Physically Unable to Perform), but has been throwing footballs and can come off that list at any time.

10) Read an article over the weekend about Red Sox pitcher David Price cursing out Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on the Red Sox team charter, because Eckersley is often honest on the air and actually criticizes players now and then. That is his job.

Eckersley doesn’t do many road games, so he seldom travels with the team. It is sad that neither the manager or GM or Price have apologized to Eckersley, who took criticism like a man when he wore the uniform, and he was a damn good pitcher.

I watch a ridiculous amount of baseball every day for six months a year; most announce teams are glorified cheerleaders for the home team. Cincinnati would be an exception, Minnesota and St Louis to an extent, but just about all of the others are see-no-evil, hear-no-evil types.

9) I’ll say this about Michael Kay or whoever else is working on the YES Network doing Bronx Bomber games; Joe Girardi takes a lot of grief for his decisions. Saturday night, Girardi pinch-ran Jacoby Ellsbury at first and let Ronald Torreyes bat, with the tying run on first. The two guys in the booth raised an eyebrow that Ellsbury didn’t pinch-hit instead- you don’t hear that on local TV very often.

Torreyes got a hit that tied the game; Girardi is a really good manager who is not exempt from taking a good deal of grief. Was just surprised to hear it.

8) Texas Longhorns refurbished their football locker room this summer; it cost $1.1M to refurbish 126 lockers- that works out to $8,700 each. Could’ve bought each kid a crummy used car for that amount.

7) A 65-year old woman stole a taxi cab in Philadelphia, then picked up a fare before police apprehended her. The woman had picked up a 23-year old woman and her infant daughter. No word on whether got a tip from the young woman before she was arrested,

6) Jimmer Fredette has apparently signed up for two more years of playing ball in China; the BYU alum scored 37 a game over in China last season. In foreign countries, the American stars are expected to score a lot of points. Jimmer can score a lot of points.

5) Good state from theMMQB.com: In NFL history, 24 players have been targeted more than 180 times in a season, and not one of them won a Super Bowl during that season. First of these 24 players was Sterling Sharpe, in 1993.

Moral of the story; winning teams have more balance on offense.

4) Clayton Kershaw is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with his bad back.

3) Former Washington/USC coach Steve Sarkisian replaces Kyle Shanahan as OC of the Falcons. Unusual for a Super Bowl team to bring in a coordinator from outside the organization the next season. What a rollercoaster Sarkisian’s life has been the last few years, on and off the field.

2) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not), they would look like this:
NL: Washington-Brewers-Dodgers. Wild Cards: Arizona-Colorado
AL: Boston-Cleveland-Houston. Wild Cards: New York-Kansas City

1) Happy birthday, Biff Pocoroba; the former Atlanta Braves’ catcher (1978 All-Star) was one of my boyhood heroes. He caught Phil Niekro’s knuckleball, once hit a game-winning, bases-loaded double off of Tom Seaver on national TV; he turns 63 today. Happy birthday, sir.

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

13) I get annoyed when people tell me that they cannot write. ANYONE CAN WRITE!!! If you can talk, you can write. Take a recorder, turn it on and tell stories into it. Then replay what you said, transcribe it into a Word document and voila!!! You have written!!!

Good Lord, if you read this every day, you must know that any damn fool can write his own website. If I can do it, sure as shootin’ you can do it, too.

12) Does Kyrie Irving know that Gregg Popovich will be 69 years old in January, and probably won’t coach much longer? As soon as Pop leaves the Alamo, the Spurs are going to take a big dip. Mr Irving might want to keep that in mind before he jumps overboard from Team Lebron.

11) Do you think Saturday Night Live should offer Sean Spicer a guest hosting spot? Imagine if he went on the show and was really funny? He’d become a hero to the working class.

10) When games at AT&T Park in San Francisco run long and seagulls threaten to overrun the outfield, looking for food, they play “Everybody clap your hands!!!” over the PA system to chase the seagulls away. Odd thing to see. It works. For a few minutes.

9) My friend John e-mailed to remind me that the Cincinnati Airport is actually in Kentucky, which is weird. Kentucky is just over the bridge from Ohio. Cincinnati Bearcats will be playing home games in Northern Kentucky U’s gym this winter; their gym is being refurbished.

8) Weird Al Yankovic went to college at Cal-Poly; in 1979, he recorded “My Bologna” in a campus restroom. The school has put up a plaque commemorating the song on a wall outside the restroom.

7) LaVar Ball got mad at a ref at an AAU game Saturday and pulled his team off the floor, forfeiting the game. Problem is, HIS TEAM LED 69-60 when he forfeited the game.

Not sure where to start with this, but:
a) He probably cost his team a win, and valuable playing time where recruiters can watch them play. Why?
b) What exactly is he teaching the kids who play for him?
c) Does he do outrageous things just to stay in the news?
d) Do the parents of the kids on his team call him out on this behavior?

6) Red flag for the Astros: in Lance McCullers’ last three starts, he’s failed to finish the 5th inning in any of them, allowing 24 hits, 17 runs in 13.2 innings. Houston needs to add at least one starting pitcher by the trade deadline.

5) When Astros’ rookie Colin Moran fouled a ball off his face Saturday night, he broke a bone under his left eye and is now on the DL. Freak accident, and a painful one.

4) Wink Martindale posted this fact on Twitter Saturday: “A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up & down continuously from the bottom of glass to the top”

Who discovered that this is true? I mean, you have a glass of champagne sitting there, and then some wiseguy with a raisin throws it in there and everyone watches?

3) Clayton Kershaw tweaked his lower back, was taken out after the second inning Sunday. Dodgers were -$400 in Las Vegas.

Important lesson here: “There is no such thing as a sure thing, thats why they call it….gambling.” Do you want to be laying -$400 with Ross Stripling on the hill? You do not.

Dodgers won in 10 innings anyway, but laying -$400 on a baseball game is a very bad idea.

2) I’m discouraged by how the A’s are playing (44-54), but how about 44-54 Toronto, with a payroll of $163,381,937? Oakland’s payroll is $81,738,333, which is no excuse for how dismal a team they have, but the Blue Jays are just plain awful.

1) Random fact: If John McCain were uninsured, his blood clot surgery could have cost $76,000. Good thing for him politicians have way better medical coverage than most Americans.