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

13) First of all, our thoughts/prayers to the people who lost friends/family in New York City Tuesday afternoon, in another act of senseless violence.

Not sure what to say really, other than appreciate every day and hug the people you love and tell them you love them.

12) I’m not usually fond of beating a dead horse, but five minutes before the trade deadline Tuesday, Bengals/Browns agreed on a trade, with Cleveland sending 2nd/3rd round draft picks to Cincinnati for Cincy’s backup QB, AJ McCarron. Cleveland desperately needs a better QB

Cincinnati sent approval of the trade into the NFL office, but for whatever reason, the Browns sent their approval in late, and alas, the NFL wouldn’t approve the trade. There were murmurs on Twitter that the geniuses in Cleveland’s front office were celebrating the trade and simply neglected to do their job and send their approval into the NFL before 4pm, as the league’s rules require them to. Oy.

11) Like I said the other day, they should just fire all of them, the whole Browns’ front office. Their coaching staff and players deserve some help, don’t you think?

10) Miami Dolphins are 4-3 and are a playoff contender- they’re tied with Jacksonville for the second AFC Wild Card right now, but they traded their best RB Jay Ajayi to the Eagles Tuesday for a 4th-round draft pick.

9) Carolina Panthers sent WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills for 3rd and 7th-round picks.

8) Georgia-Alabama-Notre Dame-Clemson are the top four college football teams right now, as the countdown to the end of the regular season begins. Oklahoma/Ohio State are #5 and #6.

7) Denver Broncos turned the ball over 11 times in their last three games; you cannot win that way. Turnovers are a variable that makes picking NFL games so tough; Buffalo isn’t that good a team, but they’re +14 in turnovers, so they’re 5-2. Denver is -9 in its last three games, so they lost all three games.

Sometimes a QB is called “a game manager” and it sounds like an insult, but what it really means is that he doesn’t screw the game up by turning the ball over, and that is important.

6) The average lifespan of a $10 bill? 4.5 years, according to the TV show Pawn Stars.

5) It is interesting to watch TV and listen to political historians talk about current events and what will happen going forward, as far as investigations, witnesses flipping and then maybe charges being brought upon other people targeted by the prosecution.

If you watch Billions on Showtime, lot of the stuff that happened this week sounds familiar.

Hollywood scriptwriters must be smiling, as their future scripts get written for them.

4) If you’re ever having trouble sleeping late at night, NBA TV usually replays one of the better games of the night at 3am, a good way to kill some time while you’re heating up some milk or counting sheep until you can go back to sleep.

3) Phoenix Suns lost their first three games in embarrassing fashion, so they fired their coach and told Eric Bledsoe to go away until they could trade him- Bledsoe is/was one of their best players. A week later, and Bledsoe still hasn’t been traded- Suns are 3-1 since they changed coaches, but Bledsoe is still sitting there, collecting his $14,500,000 salary while working out, waiting to find out who his next employer will be.

2) Dodgers 3, Astros 1– I read this week where 15,000 Dodger season tickets are held by ticket brokers; this Game 7 means a possible total of $20M in income from selling those 15,000 tickets for tonight’s Game 7. Big business.

Game 7 will last a long time if it close, since managers will be panic mongers and there will be tons of pitching changes. Unusual World Series, entertaining, good for the sport.

1) Antonio Cromartie played cornerback for 11 years in the NFL, for four teams, mostly the Jets and Chargers. He has six children with his wife; he has also fathered eight other children, by seven different women. He has fathered three children since having a vasectomy and re-defines the term “productive player”.

So of course, in this day and age, Cromartie and family will soon star in a reality TV show that begins on the USA Network November 9. Back when I was a kid, the Brady Bunch was a big TV show, husband/wife remarrying— she had three daughters, he had three sons. This is the 2017 version of that. Wonder who will reprise Ann B Davis’ role as the maid.

Cromartie pays $330,000 a year in child support, so maybe he needs the money. I guess it’ll be interesting to see how many of the seven other women get included in the show.

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

13) New England traded backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers last night for a 2nd-round pick next April, but the 49ers’ 2nd-round pick figures to be the 33rd pick, pretty much a first round pick. Patriots don’t have a backup QB on their roster right now; would they be the team that signs Colin Kaepernick?

12) Following Twitter during the baseball game Sunday night was funny; people are so fickle, they overreact quickly and in a 13-12, 10-inning game, there is a lot to comment on.

11) One thing the great baseball game obscured was a pretty good football game in Detroit; Lions were putrid in red zone, scoring 9 points on five drives. Steelers’ JoJo Schuster-Smith caught a 97-yard touchdown pass, right after the Lions were stuffed on a goal-line stand by Pittsburgh.

10) Astros’ payroll this year is $124,343,900, broken down this way:
— Justin Verlander makes $28M a year, but he was only in Houston for a month, so his money isn’t included in the $124M figure you see up above.
— Other four starting pitchers made a combined $17,239,500 this season.
— Catcher Brian McCann makes $17M, DH Carlos Beltran makes $16M
— Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick made a combined $27.4M this season.
— Altuve/Springer/Correa/Bregman earned a combined $9.661,900 this season.

At some point, Astros have to shed some of these hitters and add pitching, or else we’re in for an endless stream of 13-12 playoff games. Gurriel/Reddick’s contracts seem excessive, Altuve is going to break the bank when he hits free agency (his agent is Scott Boras)

Seems logical that out of Correa/Springer/Bregman, two of them will wind up elsewhere.

Verlander is on the books for 2018 and 2019, both at $28M a season.

9) Detroit Lions gained 482 yards Sunday night but didn’t score a TD; only 1994 Bengals (496 yards vs Seattle) and ’86 49ers (501 yards vs Washington) gained more yards without scoring a touchdown.

8) Washington Nationals named Dave Martinez manager; he has been Joe Maddon’s right-hand man for several years……….Phillies named Gabe Kapler skipper- both guys are first-time major leaguer managers.

7) ESPN’s Mike Breen also does play-by-play for the Knicks on MSG Network; he is the best at what he does because he is fair and smart.

Monday night, Knicks’ Doug McDermott took a 3-pointer in transition with 0:06.9 left in first quarter; he made it, but Denver came down an hit a 3-pointer of their own at the buzzer to end the quarter. Breen simply said: “That is why coaches like to hold the ball to take the last shot of a quarter, so the other team can’t score.”

6) Boston Celtics got an $8.4M salary cap exemption because of Gordon Hayward’s injury; they have to use it by March 10.

5) College basketball starts next week; Missouri Valley Conference is going downhill, with both Creighton/Wichita State jumping ship in recent years. Missouri State/Illinois State are expected to be the Valley’s frontrunners this winter.

4) Houston Texans traded disgruntled LT Duane Brown to Seattle, for CB Jerome Lane, a 5th round pick next year and a 2nd round draft pick in 2019.

3) You wonder why baseball teams coddle pitchers? Because they only last so long— look at the career of Fernando Valenzuela— from age 19-25, Valenzuela was 99-68, with an ERA of 2.94- he threw 257+ innings five years in a row. He was box office gold, for sure.

From age 26-36, he went 74-85, with an ERA of 4.55, bouncing around between five teams. You only have so many pitches in your arm. Valenzuela threw 149 pitches in a playoff game when he was 20. If that happened today (it wouldn’t), heads would roll.

2) Ticket brokers apparently own 15,000 tickets to both Games 6-7 of the World Series; should Houston win Game 6, those brokers would lose out of a potential $20M in profits with no Game 7 to benefit from.

1) RIP Lewis D’Antoni, 103, who passed away this weekend; the father of Rockets coach Mike and Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni, Lewis D’Antoni was a coach himself— I saw him interviewed in the stands at a Marshall game a couple years ago, when he was 101. Lot of energy even then; he lived a full life. RIP, sir.

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

13) Seahawks 41, Texans 38— Both teams averaged over 10 yards/pass attempt, Watson threw for 402 yards and four TD’s- he ran for 63 yards, but it wasn’t enough. Wilson threw for 451 yards in a wild game where four WR’s caught 100+ yards worth of passes.

Seattle scored the winning TD with 0:21 left. Houston threw at Richard Sherman and scored 38 points; curious to see if other teams try that more- other teams don’t have DeAndre Hopkins.

12) Steelers 20, Lions 15— Detroit gained 482 yards but lost- that is the 3rd-highest yardage total in NFL history without scoring a touchdown in that game. Lions had the ball five times in the red zone- they kicked three FG’s, lost ball on downs twice.

Matthew Stafford is really good, but now he is 54-62 in his 9th NFL season- he hasn’t missed a start since 2010, but has played in only three playoff games (0-3)- his head coaches have been Jim Schwartz and Jim Caldwell. Safe to say that Detroit is wasting his prime.

11) Vikings 33, Browns 16— USC-Arizona State game ended at 2:20am here in the east. Just when I was going to bed, discovered live golf on TV from…..I don’t know where the hell it was but it was live so I watched it, eliminating any chance of me getting out of bed at 9:30 to watch the Cleveland Browns play.

If I owned the Browns, I’d demand to know why we didn’t draft Deshaun Watson, then when I got my answer, I’d fire the person/people who decided not to draft him.

10) Patriots 21, Chargers 13— Bolts’ WR Travis Benjamin caught a TD pass, but he also had one of the worst punt returns in NFL history, losing 11 yards on a return that resulted in a safety for New England that put the Patriots up 9-7 early n the 2nd quarter.

New England scored only one TD, but they kicked four FG’s and won their 4th straight game.

9) Cowboys 33, Redskins 19— Washington’s offensive line is decimated by injuries; they had three new starters on the line in this game and were playing on a short week, after losing to the Eagles Monday night.

Dallas ran the ball for 169 yards on a miserable, rainy night- they were +2 (3-1) in turnovers.

8) Arizona 59, Washington State 38— Stats for Wazzu’s two QB’s in their upset loss Saturday:

Luke Falk 13-23, 93 yards, one TD
Tyler Hilinski 45-61, 509 yards, 2 TD’s, 4 INT

A kid who DIDN’T START the game threw 61 passes. Meanwhile, Arizona ran 51 plays the whole game, but for 584 yards.

7) Saints 20, Bears 12— Chicago TE Zach Miller caught what appeared to be a TD pass and then tore up his leg— he was writhing in pain in the end zone, but replay review overturned the call— FOX analyst Dean Blandino was surprised to say the least that it wasn’t a TD.

Who knew that eight weeks into the season, the New Orleans defense would be a strength?

6) Falcons 25, Jets 20— Jets are 3-5, lost close games the last three weeks; they haven’t trailed at halftime since Week 2.

Much of this game was played in a driving rainstorm; Falcons are a dome team that relies on speed/passing, but they overcame an 11-yard deficit in field position to snap its 3-game losing skid. Atlanta outgained the Jets by 107 yards; Gang Green led 17-13 at halftime.

5) Bills 34, Raiders 14— Buffalo was +4 in turnovers, had a 14-yard edge in field position- thru seven games, they are now +14 for the season in turnovers. Week 2 in Carolina was the only game this season where the Bills didn’t win the turnover battle (0-0). Say what you want about Tyrod Taylor, but he doesn’t screw games up by turning the ball over.

Oakland lost five of its last six games, including its last three on the road.

4) Bengals 24, Colts 23— Indy scored a TD, kicked three FG’s on four red zone drives; they had the ball with 7:00 left and a 23-17 lead, but Carlos Dunlap picked off a swing pass foe the winning pick-6, as the Colts lost their third game in a row.

Indianapolis is 2-6; their offense has had 91 drives this season, scoring 13 TD’s- they’ve given up five TD’s to opposing defenses.

3) Eagles 33, 49ers 10— Someone explain to me why the 49ers fired Jim Harbaugh- they lost last two games by a combined score of 73-20, are playing a kid at QB who wasn’t even good at Iowa. Niners are 7-32 since they let Harbaugh walk.

2) Panthers 17, Buccaneers 3— Tampa Bay turned ball over three times (-2), averaged 4.7 yards/pass attempt— this is a team with Mike Evans/DeSean Jackson at WR, they should never score 3 points in a game. Ever. Bucs have now lost four games in a row— not sure if QB Winston is the problem, but if you watched Hard Knocks this summer, you know the coach/GM expected to be a hell of a lot better than 2-5.

1) Astros 13, Dodgers 12 (10)— Possibly the strangest major league game ever played, no doubt the craziest postseason game ever. Took over five hours to play; Alex Bregman got the winning hit.

When the Dodgers were up 4-0 with Kershaw on the mound, if you wanted to bet on LA via in-game wagering at that point, you needed to lay $1,500 to win $100. Dodgers took Kershaw out after 4.2 innings with a 7-4 lead and two men on, and it cost them.

Astros led 12-9 in ninth inning, blew that lead; crazy game with lot of bad pitching. Series heads to LA with Houston leading 3-2 and Justin Verlander pitching Game 6 Tuesday.

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

13) Ohio State 39, Penn State 38— Nittany Lions led 35-20 with 12:00 left, 38-27 with 5:00 left, but Buckeyes drove 76-58 yards on their last two drives to win the game. Barrett was 33-39/328 with four TD passes for Ohio State— he was 13-13 with three TD’s in the 4th quarter.

12) Georgia 42, Florida 7— Further proof the world is going crazy: Gators went 19-8 the last two years; they’re 3-4 this year and now they want to fire the coach? Why? One bad year and they show you the door?

Our society is getting so incredibly soft now; people can’t deal with their teams losing, which may be part of why the NFL’s popularity slips in areas during a bad year. Fewer people stick with their teams thru thick and thin. We’re becoming a nation of front-runners.

“We’re with you win or tie, and we’re not that crazy about tie.”

11) Iowa State 14, TCU 7— Cyclones have had one winning season since 2006; the last seven years, Iowa State was 28-58— they’re 6-2 now, after their starting QB left the team for unstated “medical” reasons. Their starting QB the last two years is now their starting middle linebacker. Your 2017 National Coach of the Year? Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.

10) Boston College 35, Florida State 3— Seminoles are 2-5 and appear to have packed it in for the season. Must be fun to be a Miami Hurricanes fan right now, with Gators/Seminoles having such dreadful seasons.

9) Wake Forest 42, Louisville 32— Demon Deacons scored 40+ in an ACC game for first time since 2010. QB John Wolford was 28-34/461 passing against a struggling Louisville defense.

8) Arkansas 38, Ole Miss 37— Razorbacks trailed 31-7 with 3:00 left in first half. Two bad teams playing an exciting game. Arkansas scored a defensive TD with 6:01 left when they were down 35-27, not the best Ole Miss moment of the day.

7) Harvard 25, Dartmouth 22— When Harvard recovered a fumbled punt, a Dartmouth  assistant coach punched the window of the press box so hard that he shattered it— security removed him from the stadium.

Dartmouth led 14-0 when they fumbled the punt, which turned out to be a costly play.

6) MLB suspended Yuli Gurriel for the first five games of 2018 for his actions during Game 2 of the World Series, instead of for the rest of the World Series. Some people complained that some immediate action should’ve been taken, because in today’s world, somebody is always complaining about something. Oy

Gurriel loses $382,716 with the 5-game suspension, which isn’t nothing; if he gets fined for his 2017 salary instead (doubtful) it would’ve been $444,444.44. His base salary for next year is $2M less than this year.

5) Upsets of the Week:
UNLV (+21) 26, Fresno State 16
Florida International (+16) 41, Marshall 30
Houston (+10.5) 28, South Florida 24
Air Force (+10) 45, Colorado State 28
Texas State (+8) 27, Coastal Carolina 7
Iowa State (+6.5) 14, TCU 7

4) Northwestern 39, Michigan State 31 (OT)— Game was 17-all after regulation; Wildcats win in OT for second week in row, are now 5-3, and on their way to being pummeled by a better team in some obscure bowl game that I’ll watch because I’m an idiot.

Northwestern is 3-10 all-time in bowl games, but they have won two of their last three bowls.

3) Kentucky 29, Tennessee 26— Vols caught a Hail Mary on last play of the game, but the guy got tackled on the 3-yard line— this is Wildcats 2nd win in their last 33 games with Tennessee, the other win coming in 2011. It was also the 2nd time in last 21 meetings that Kentucky was the favorite— Vols covered the 5-point spread.

2) Nebraska 25, Purdue 24— Cornhuskers drove 70 yards in 8 plays in 1:08, scoring winning TD on a 13-yard pass with 0:14 left. Purdue led 25-12 with 12:00 left in the game.

1) USC 48, Arizona State 17– Trojans bounce back from last week’s loss at Notre Dame with a big conference win here. USC plays Arizona next week, and can pretty much clinch the Pac-12 South then.

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

13) I realize the NFL is a business, a very big business, but there have to be concerns for the owners other than simply squeezing every last dollar out of consumers.

At some point, the quality of play needs to be addressed, before it has a negative impact on the financial bottom line. My main point is this: most of these Thursday NFL games are terrible.

12) Football wasn’t meant to be played on three days’ rest, it just wasn’t. NFL should sacrifice its Thursday night TV package (except for Week 1 and Thanksgiving) for the sake of the players’ health, for the quality of TV programming they put on television. For their own bottom lines.

Let college teams have the spotlight on Thursday; lot of those kids are the NFL’s future stars anyway. Let the adults play on Sunday/Monday— play Monday night doubleheaders, if that makes your bottom line healthier. But these Thursday games are bad for the NFL.

11) One more thing on quality of the NFL’s product: each team should suit up three QB’s for every game, so coaches aren’t terrified to put their starting QB in harm’s way, with only one backup on the roster.

10) Joe Girardi went 910-710 in ten years as a manager in New York but was told to take a hike this week- he won one World Series, but that was in 2009. What have you done for us lately?

Just for the record, New York’s win over/under this spring was 83.5 wins and they wound up 91-71, which means Girardi’s team won 7.5 more games than expected, came within one game of the World Series, and they still fired him.

I’m very curious who they replace Girardi with.

9) Chicago Cubs fired three of their coaches; they won the World Series LY. Jim Hickey will be their new pitching coach— he was Joe Maddon’s pitching coach in Tampa. Chili Davis is the new batting coach; he is really good at that job- he comes from Boston.

There was behind-the-scenes stuff going on with Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio; no one is talking much about it, but Maddon made it fairly obvious that there were internal issues.

Cardinals hired Mike Maddux as their new pitching coach, as pitching/batting coaches are becoming gypsies, much like assistant football coaches are.

8) Good job by TNT, putting Pelicans-Kings on TV Thursday, DeMarcus Cousins’ first game back in Sacramento since the Kings traded him. Spirited game between similar teams, which makes for good television.

7) They’re having these college basketball exhibition games, to financially benefit charities and also help teams get ready for the season. I’m not sure how much the scores mean…….

Liberty beat Virginia Commonwealth, which has another new coach this year. It has to be a red flag of some sort that the Rams lost, just not sure how much of one.

6) Underrated college football analyst: ESPN’s Brock Huard, who is smart, has an excellent voice and he was a quarterback, so he has thought the game through. He is much better than most analysts, but hasn’t gotten a lot of prime telecasts, mostly west coast games.

5) Extra-inning home runs hit by guys on the losing team in World Series games:

Dave Henderson, Red Sox, Game 6, 1986
Josh Hamilton, Rangers, Game 6, 2011
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers, Game 2, 2017
Charlie Culbertson, Dodgers, Game 2, 2017

4) Patriots/Browns have both been called for six offensive pass interference penalties this season, most in the NFL.

3) Seton Hall is ranked in the college basketball preseason top 25 for the first time since 2001.

2) Cullen Neal was supposed to go to St Mary’s after high school to play basketball, but his dad Craig Neal got the New Mexico head coaching job after Steve Alford went to UCLA, so Cullen Neal played for his dad in Albuquerque for a couple years- it didn’t go well.

Cullen Neal then transferred to Ole Miss, where he played a year for Andy Kennedy, but now he is a graduate transfer at St Mary’s, where he will finish his playing career, at the place where he was supposed to start his career.

1) Rough year for major league managers in the Northeast; both NYC teams, Boston, Philly, Washington all fired their skippers. Three of those five guys made the playoffs and still got told to take a hike. Wonder if any of those five managers will get hired elsewhere this winter?

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

13) Penn State-Ohio State is a game with national title implications; Buckeyes won five games in row since loss to Oklahoma, all by 31+ points; they’re 6-12 vs spread in last 18 games as a home favorite, 1-3 this year. OSU had last week off, Penn State whacked Michigan. Nittany Lions lost 38-10/63-14 in their last two visits to Columbus.

12) Only 11 NFL games Sunday, only three divisional games this weekend as they defer to the World Series, keeping more marquee matchups until the second half of the season. Putting the Browns on TV from London at 9:30am isn’t going to help TV ratings any.

11) Washington State embarrassed Arizona 69-7 last year, now they visit Tucson to play an invigorated Wildcat squad that is running the ball like crazy behind sophomore QB Tate. Big contrast is styles, interesting game— too bad it is on the Pac-12 Network.

10) Bears visit the Superdome Sunday; Saints won their last four games, allowing 6 TD’s on 38 drives, while scoring three TD’s of their own. Now rookie QB Trubisky comes calling against a hot defense. Chicago’s only two TD’s last week were scored by their defense.

9) Florida beat Georgia the last three years, by 14-24-18 points, but the Dawgs are unbeaten this year with a win at Notre Dame. Florida has played lot of close games this year; they’re getting two TD’s in this game. Favorites are 4-1-1 vs spread in last six series games.

8) Raiders make the long trip last to play a Buffalo team that is B4-2 with a +10 turnover ratio; Bills are 3-0 at home, with wins by 9-10-3 points- they’re 22-42 on 3rd down in their last three games.

7) Tennessee is 31-1 in its last 32 games with Kentucky; this is only 2nd time in last 21 years they’ve been an underdog to the Wildcats, but Butch Jones is on his way out in Knoxville— if Kentucky doesn’t beat the Vols this week, not sure when they will.

6) Indianapolis is 0-3 on road, losing by 35-28-14 points (0-3 vs spread); four of their five losses are by 14+ points- they’ve been outscored 134-44 in second half of games this year, have one TD on 19 drives in last two games. Other than that, things are going great for the Colts.

5) North Carolina was a double-digit favorite in two of its first three games, but they split those games and are 1-7, losing last four games by a combined score of 145-41 (36-10 average). Tar Heels host unbeaten Miami this week, coming off a 59-7 loss at Virginia Tech.

4) Houston scored 33+ points in its last four games, led by surprising rookie QB Watson; now they visit a stout Seahawk defense that has allowed only two TD’s on 22 drives in two home wins, and held the Giants to seven points last week.

3) Road team won last four Michigan State-Northwestern games; Wildcats won 54-40 in East Lansing LY, holding State to 51 YR. Spartans won their last five visits to Evanston.

2) Redskins/Eagles both got banged up on Monday night; Washington hosts arch-rival Dallas here, as both teams try to keep pace with the first-place Eagles. Cowboys-Redskins is most always a fun game.

1) USC s 0-6 against the spread in its last six games, losing their last two road games, at Notre Dame, Washington State. Trojans are tied for first in Pac-12 South, making this a bigger game than usual. ASU won three of its last four games, covering all four.

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

13) Nick Saban is making $11M this season, including $4M for what amounts to “a signing bonus”, making him the highest-paid college coach in America. Wow.

12) Most surprising thing to me on the list is that Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez is 5th-highest paid college football coach in the country, earning $5.6M this year.

Arizona is 41-31 under Rodriguez, 5-2 this year- they were 2-10 last year.

11) Chiefs’ RB Kareem Hunt lost a fumble on his first carry of the season in Foxboro; KC hasn’t turned the ball over since- they’re +7 in turnovers right now.

10) Atlanta Falcons led NFL in scoring LY, were #2 in yards gained- they won the NFC.

This year, Falcons are #16 in scoring, #7 in yards gained- they’re 3-3.

SI.com‘s Robert Klemko points this out: through six games in 2016,  Matt Ryan was 14-of-23 on passes traveling more than 20 yards downfield.  Through six games this season, he’s 4-of-21.

9) Courtney Lee plays for the Knicks; Tuesday, he said some players on the Knicks don’t know the plays and they need to pay attention more in practice.

This is professional basketball, the second week of a 6-month season. Oy.

8) Game 1 of the World Series took 2:28 to play, the shortest World Series game since 1992. I’d prefer a longer game with more action, but thats just me.

Game 2 was more what I had in mind…….

7) Who made USC’s football schedule? They don’t have any bye weeks- they have a week off after their last regular season game and before the Pac-12 championship game, but they have to get there for that to be relevant.

Trojans are in a 3-way tie with Arizona/ASU in the Pac-12 South- their game at Arizona State this weekend is a big one. USC looked like a tired team last week at Notre Dame.

6) Wake Forest no longer allows guests into their football practices, because LY one of their own radio announcers was found out to be giving Wake’s plays out to future opponents, after the radio guy wasn’t retained as an assistant coach the year before.

Problem with that is this: often times, some of the guests at practices are people who donate a lot of money to the athletic department. Ticking them off isn’t good for the bottom line, but if an opponents gets part of your playbook, thats an even worse problem.

5) Mentioned yesterday how North Carolina’s senior PG Joel Berry broke his hand this week and will miss the start of the season. Turns out Berry punched a door after losing a video game he was playing with teammate Theo Pinson and a student manager. Not good.

4) Steelers’ WR JuJu Smith-Schuster had his bike stolen recently; I’m just amazed that an NFL player doesn’t have his driver’s license yet— he is taking the driver’s test soon.

If I ran the Steelers, wouldn’t want one of my players driving his bike on city streets— I’d take Smith-Schuster to DMV myself to get him his license, then get him an endorsement deal with a local car dealer, to get hm a safe ride to work every day.

3) MVP of the World Series gets the “Willie Mays Award” as MLB honors Mays, one of the best baseball players ever. Pretty cool award to win.

Some jackass wrote an article this week questioning if MLB did the right thing naming the award after Mays, who played in four World Series but didn’t hit that well in any of them, though his catch in CF in the ’54 Series is one of the best in WS history.

Mays hit 660 major league home runs, had a career on-base % of .384, led the NL in stolen bases four times. He was a great freakin’ player; he deserves to have an award named after him.

2) Former NBA commissioner David Stern spoke up for the NBA allowing “medical marijuana”, which means that marijuana basically will be legalized in the NBA, since every player has a sore knee or a sore back or SOMETHING that would allow him to smoke weed for medical reasons.

Stern was commissioner of the NBA for 30 years; his voice carries a lot of weight.

1) This is a somewhat small sample, but thru four games, Lonzo Ball’s plus/minus is -24; the Lakers are +6 when Lonzo is on the bench.

Plus/minus is the score of the game when that player is on the floor, so over long term, it is a telling stat. It can be misleading in small samples, so we’ll follow this as the year goes on.

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

13) Good news if you like sports and live in the Albany area; Arena Football is coming back to downtown Albany next spring.

Arenaball was big in Albany in the 90’s; the Firebirds won the 1999 Arena Bowl, behind a star WR named Eddie Brown, whose son is current Steelers’ star Antonio Brown. But the league tried to expand to bigger markets; the Firebirds moved to Indianapolis, and later pretty much failed.

Now the rebuilding AFL is back in town; Albany is 6th team in the AFL, mostly eastern teams; hopefully they will add another franchise or two before next season.

12) Couple of quick Arena League memories from 20 years ago:
— Former Ohio State QB Art Schlichter played against the Firebirds here in Albany; him and Major Harris, who played at West Virginia. Schlichter was great in the AFL, but Harris needed to run to succeed and there was nowhere to run in the Arena League. It is a passing league.
— Then there was this other guy who played QB for the Iowa Barnstormers; they won a 77-76 game in Albany one night, a great game. The Iowa QB wound up in the NFL, played in three Super Bowls, just got inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

You may have heard of him…..Kurt Warner

Bottom line…the Arena League is great fun. Glad it is coming back to town.

11) Phoenix Suns have had a season’s worth of drama in a week; they fired their coach, one of their best players asked off the team and is now in exile, awaiting a trade.

After an 0-3 start, with two losses by 40+ points and a 132-130 loss to the Lakers, the Suns went out with an interim coach and without Eric Bledsoe and they beat Sacramento, holding on to win by a point, after leading by 19 after the first quarter. Go figure.

Very curious to see what they get for Bledsoe when they trade him; they don’t exactly have a lot of leverage here.

10) So far in the postseason, Dodger hitters have drawn 46 walks; their opponents? Only 12.

9) Over the last 23 years, Washington Redskins have used 21 different kickers. Oy.

8) This year in the major leagues, there were 6,104 home runs hit, and 40,104 strikeouts.

40,104 strikeouts in 2,430 games; that works out to 16.5 strikeouts per game.

7) Chargers’ WR Keenan Allen has caught 16 3rd down passes this season that resulted in first downs for the Bolts; no one else in the NFL has more than 11 of those catches.

6) Kentucky is favored over Tennessee this week for only the second time in the last 21 years; last time the Wildcats were favored over Tennessee was 2007, when the Vols (+2.5) won 52-50. Tennessee is 19-1 in the last 20 series games, winning the last five in a row.

5) Best three red zone teams so far: Packers-Eagles-Texans, but you have to eliminate Green Bay, with Aaron Rodgers being on the sidelines. Other two teams have a rookie QB and a 2nd-year QB, which is really surprising.

Worst red zone teams: Cleveland-Arizona-Denver/Indianapolis. Broncos are only one of those four teams that haven’t changed QB’s yet this season.

4) Teams with most plays of 20+ yards: Patriots (34), Rams/Vikings (33), Cardinals/Chiefs(32).

Teams with fewest plays of 20+ plays: Ravens (14), Bears/Giants (16), Dolphins (17).

3) With Jay Cutler (ribs) banged up, Miami Dolphins signed former San Jose State QB David Fales as a backup; he has two career NFL completions, for the Bears. He was in camp with Miami, so he knows the offense- they hope the hell they don’t have to play him.

2) ESPN college football analyst Joey Galloway had a really good NFL career; he played 16 years in the NFL, scored 78 TD’s, averaged 15.6 yards/catch. He averaged 19.8 ypc in 2003 for Dallas, leading the league when he was 32 years old.

1) This from the great Gil Brandt on Twitter:

In last 30 years, only 3 NFL QBs won games completing four or fewer passes that day: Chris Weinke (4), Tim Tebow (2), Mitch Trubisky (4). What else did those three QB’s have in common?

John Fox was head coach of all three of those teams at the time.

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

13) Statistics are fun, they can be educational, but they can also be really misleading; take the Carolina Panthers’ defensive stats, which should be really good this week, because Carolina’s offense was so terrible that Chicago scored two defensive TD’s early on, then just sat on their 14-0 lead and didn’t even try to score with the ball. Bears had five first downs, gained 153 yards on 37 plays for the whole game, but they won by two TD’s. Very unusual.

12) I’d be curious to know in all the fantasy football leagues around the country, what the teams’ records were in Week 7 that had Aaron Rodgers on them? I had Rodgers on my team when he got hurt in 2013; lets just say things didn’t go too well from that point on.

11) We post the six most popular picks in the Westgate SuperContest each week; thru seven weeks, those picks are just 15-27 vs spread, which means sports books are making a killing so far this season. Handicapping the NFL is a minefield that is very tough to navigate.

10) Cleveland Browns’ tackle Joe Thomas played 10 years and six games without missing a single play, a streak more impressive than Cal Ripken’s iron man streak, but he got hurt Sunday and is now out for the season with a triceps injury. Thomas is a future Hall of Famer.

9) Cubs fired pitching coach Chris Bosio; they won the World Series last year, did Bosio get a lot dumber all of a sudden?

San Francisco Giants also re-assigned most of their coaches, including pitching coach Dave Righetti, who had been in that job since 2000. Giants won three World Series in this decade; maybe they should re-assign the person who put together such an aging roster this past season.

8) Army’s football team has already accepted a bowl bid, to the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec 23. At 6-2, the Cadets are having a breakthrough season.

7) Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson is out for the year after getting hurt against LSU Saturday nite. Been a rough year for the Rebels, who are playing with an interim head coach.

6) Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey tweaked a leg muscle in San Francisco Sunday; one of the Cowboys’ safeties (Jeff Heath) kicked a field goal, banking it in off the right upright. Cowboys are holding tryouts for a backup kicker this week.

5) This is how competitive pro golf is around the world: In fall of 2016, 30 guys won their cards for the European Tour for 2017 at Q-School. Of those 30 guys, only two have their cards for 2018.

4) Michigan State has a running back named LJ Scott who is pretty good, but he’s been arrested seven times, all for roughly the same thing— unpaid traffic tickets, driving without a license or with a suspended license. How do they keep letting him play? It is mostly harmless stuff, but it shows a lack of respect for rules and sends a bad message that he is playing.

Back in the day, my man Jerry Tarkanian would’ve done this: assign a staff member to take care of his traffic issues for him. Drive him to DMV to pay his fines and renew his license. The better the kid was, the more important it was to keep him eligible and out of trouble.

3) I’m watching 76ers-Pistons game as I type this; game is in Detroit’s new downtown arena and the crowd there is really small. Does every NBA team make money?

2) Denver Broncos have played two road games, scoring one TD on 23 drives; should they explore trading for Eli Manning? Giants are on their bye week; Denver could use a QB. Giants might need to start a rebuilding process.

1) Cleveland Browns should sign Colin Kaepernick; it would diffuse his lawsuit against the NFL, then people could see in plain view whether he is still good enough to keep playing in the league. Plus, there is no way he is worse than the three suspects who’ve been playing QB for the Browns this season. Then they can draft a top-flight QB prospect next April and move on.

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

Titans 12, Browns 9 OT— Not a great week for offense; seven teams failed to score an offensive TD, five others scored only one TD on offense. Total yardage in this game: 284-269 Browns, but they threw three INTs and Kizer was benched again, this time for Cody Kessler. At one point, Cleveland declined a face mask penalty on the Titans, leaving Tennessee with a 4th-and-1, but then the Browns jumped offside, which led to a Titan FG, which was the margin of victory.

Memo to the Ivy League nitwit who runs the Browns: Draft a bleeping quarterback!!!!

Jaguars 27, Colts 0— Total yardage was 518-232 Jaguars- they were -2 in turnovers and still jogged to an easy win, running ball for 188 yards. Colts have been outscored 134-44 in second half of game; now that Andrew Luck has had a setback and may not return this year, hard to imagine Chuck Pagano won’t get fired. Jaguars averaged 11.8 yards per pass attempt.

Steelers 29, Bengals 14— Game was 14-14 with 7:12 left in the half; from that point on, Steelers had ball seven times, kicked five FGs and won going away. Pittsburgh ran a really cool fake punt, snapping ball to the up-back, who passed the ball to the gunner on the right sideline— never saw that play before. Steelers scored only 38 points on their last 11 red zone drives, a red flag. Cincy is 1-6 vs spread in last seven games as a road underdog.

Vikings 24, Ravens 16—- Baltimore lost 4 of its last 5 games after a 2-0 start; they scored total of five TDs on 56 drives in those games. Stuff I read on the Internet this week from knowledgeable NFL writers blamed the Raven WR’s, not Flacco— I blame whoever hired Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator— the guy is awful. Vikings are now 15-5 as a home favorite under Zimmer. Will Vikings turn to Teddy Bridgewater or stick with Case Keenum at QB?

Dolphins 31, Jets 28— Second week in row Jets had 14-point lead but lost; second week in a row Dolphins trailed by 14+ points but won. Cutler got hurt; backup QB Matt Moore was 13-21/188 and led Miami to a comeback win. Jets’ QB McCown threw an awful INT with 0:39 left, giving Dolphins the ball on the Jets’ 27- they kicked winning FG with 0:22 left, ending a 6-game skid against their AFC East rivals.

Bills 30, Buccaneers 27— Buffalo blew 17-6 3rd quarter lead, but recovered a fumble on the Bucs’ 33-yard line with 2:20 left- they kicked winning FG with 0:14 left. Winston threw for 378 yards but Tampa Bay turned ball over three times— Buffalo is +10 in turnovers this season and is 4-2. Rookie TE Howard has 6 catches for 98 yards on 6 targets for Tampa Bay

Bears 17, Panthers 3— One of strangest boxscores I’ve ever seen; rookie safety Eddie Jackson became first player ever to score two defensive TDs of 75+ yards in a game, scoring on a fumble return and an INT return off a tipped ball. Chicago then sat on the lead; Trubisky was 2-5/94 yards passing the first half, threw only 7 passes in whole game. Total yardage was 293-153 Carolina; Bears had only five first downs the whole game, but won by two TD’s. Go figure.

Saints 26, Packers 17— Line moved roughly nine points because of Rodgers’ injury; Hundley was 12-25/87 passing in his first NFL start. Brees was picked off on his first two drives, but Saints scored two TD’s, two FG’s on their last four drives. Packers ran 21 play for 65 yards and only 3 points in second half. New Orleans scored 13 TD’s on their last 43 drives.

Rams 33, Cardinals 0— Arizona missed a short FG on first drive, things got much worse from there; Carson Palmer broke his left arm, could be out for year. Stanton/Gabbert are Arizona’s backup QB’s.

One of the unexpected perks of writing in this space every day is the chance to meet some great people. Made couple of new friends from Canada this weekend; they stopped in Albany on their way to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. Had a meal and lot of fun conversation— I’ve made new friends in Indiana, New Jersey, Las Vegas and now Canada from this site. Good stuff.

Cowboys 40, 49ers 10— Dallas ran ball for 265 yards, had 14-yard edge in field position, as they pounded the 49ers coming off their bye. Third straight game Cowboys scored 30+ points; they recovered three SF fumbles, are now 8-3 vs spread in last 11 games as a road favorite.

49ers are 0-7, but 5-2 vs spread; they’ve got a rookie QB starting now, were outgained 501-290 in this game- four of their last five games went over the total.

Seahawks 24, Giants 7— Seattle had 11-yard edge in field position, held Giants to 46 yards on ground in game Big Blue led 7-3 at the half. Giants’ only TD drive was 17 yards after a turnover; they missed a 47-yard FG when Seahawks led 10-7.

Seahawks’ offensive players were screaming at each other on sideline in first half; Doug Baldwin pushed an assistant coach who tried to intervene, but all of that was probably forgotten when a trick play resulted in a 38-yard TD pass that put Seattle up 17-7 with 9:34 left to play.

Chargers 21, Broncos 0— Chargers won their third game in a row after an 0-4 start; they ran a punt back for a TD for their first score, then had three takeaways in a game where total yardage was 251-242, Denver. Broncos are 0-2 on road, scoring one TD on 23 drives in games against Bills/Chargers; this was only Bolts’ third win in last 14 games against Denver.

Patriots 23, Falcons 7— Atlanta had ball in red zone four times, scored only once, on a TD that made score 23-7 with 4:09 left- they had a short FG blocked, clanked a shorter FG off upright. Falcons lost their last three games after a 3-0 start; luckily for them, there had been only one divisional game played in NFC South so far, so the division race is still up for grabs.

This turned into a fog game in second half, as if the Falcons playing under the cloud of last year’s Super Bowl wasn’t bad enough.

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

13) Penn State 42, Michigan 13— Nittany Lions look like Alabama’s top challenger right now for the national title; yardage in this game was 506-269.

Watched decent amount of Big 14 football Saturday; not a lot of great offense. Michigan State is 6-1 and they look like they don’t even practice offense during the week.

12) Upsets of the Week:
Rutgers (+9.5) 14, Purdue 12
Pittsburgh (+8) 24, Duke 17
Charlotte (+7.5) 25, UAB 24 OT
Fresno State (+7.5) 27, San Diego State 3
Boston College (+7) 41, Virginia 10
Louisville (+6.5) 31, Florida State 28
Iowa State (+6.5) 31, Texas Tech 13
UConn (+6.5) 20, Tulsa 14

11) Florida State is 2-4 and still has to play Clemson and Florida, so they’re no lock to even get to a bowl game, which is difficult to fathom.

10) Seminoles play 4-4 Boston College next; Eagles are coming off consecutive wins at Louisville and at Virginia. Eagles outgained Virginia 512-247 Saturday.

9) Notre Dame 49, USC 14— Real winner here is 7-0 Georgia, which has a win at Notre Dame this season- helps their power rating a lot. This was Trojans’ third straight loss in South Bend.

8) By my count, there were seven overtime games Saturday, a lot for one day.

7) Air Force 45, Nevada 42— Falcons ran ball 91 times for 550 yards, converted 12-18 third down plays- they led 28-20 at the half, needed a last-second FG to get out of Reno with a win.

6) Utah State 52, UNLV 28— In their last three games. Rebels were outscored 72-3 in the second half. In happier news, UNLV’s basketball team is supposed to be much-improved this winter.

5) Iowa State 31, Texas Tech 13— At 5-2, Cyclones are America’s Cinderella team, which is good news. Bad news is that big-money schools are going to come after coach Matt Campbell next month with their wallets wide open. Will he stay at Iowa State?

4) Arizona 45, California 44 OT— Wildcats won their last three games, running ball for 1,227 yards; a potent running offense still gets things done at the college level. Arizona blew a 21-7 halftime lead; Cal tied the game with a 52-yard FG, but then they stupidly went for two points and the win in overtime— that tactic usually fails.

3) Oklahoma State 13, Texas 10 OT— You hold the Cowboys to 13 points, you should win. Texas converted only 3-17 on 3rd down- they were outgained 428-283.

2) South Florida is 7-0, Central Florida is 6-0; their showdown for the Eastern Division title  of the AAC is November 24 in Orlando.

1) Auburn 52, Arkansas 20— Could be the end of the road for Bret Bielema in Little Rock; he is 28-31 as coach of the Razorbacks.

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

13) Dusty Baker went 192-132 in two years as Washington’s manager, but went 4-6 in playoffs and that cost him his $2M a year job Friday. Nationals have had six managers (not counting interims) since 2006; next year will be #7.

Other Nationals’ news: Daniel Murphy had micro-fracture structure on his knee this week.

12) Had to stay away from Twitter late Thursday, as Dodger fans came out of the woodwork to celebrate their first NL title since 1988. I’ve got nothing against the Dodgers, but any mention of the 1988 World Series makes my stomach churn— I prefer the ’74 World Series.

11) Raiders 31, Chiefs 30— Great ballgame, bizarre ending, with an overturned TD, offensive pass interference and two defensive holding penalties, all in the last 0:18 of the game. Fun game to watch; Oakland’s win makes the AFC West race a lot more interesting.

10) Raiders now have 10 TD’s of 20+ yards this season; 10 of their 17 offensive TD’s came came on plays of 20+ yards. Buffalo Bills’ longest TD play this season? 12 yards.

9) James Harden has averaged over 10 free throws attempted per game the last three years; he is a career 85.4% free throw shooter. It is amazing to me how many times opponents let him drive to his strong hand— he is a lefty— figure it out!!!

Speaking of the Rockets, Chris Paul is already out 2-4 weeks with a bum knee. That didn’t take long. TNT studio guys were saying Thursday that Paul isn’t a good fit with the Rockets’ style anyway.

8) Big 14 basketball media day was in New York City this week, which is weird; they’re having the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden in March, as they try and expand their footprint with Rutgers, Penn State, Maryland now in the league.

But the Big 14 is a midwestern league; would think having media day in Chicago would be a more normal thing to do.

7) Memphis 42, Houston 38— Horrible loss for Cougars, who led 31-14 with 1:31 left in third quarter and 38-28 with 5:51 left in game. Memphis was down 17-0 at halftime- you do the math, Tigers scored 42 points in the second half.

6) Oldest guys in the NBA? Vince Carter, Manu Ginobili, who are both 40 years old.

5) Purdue’s basketball team played in the World University games this summer, which allowed them to have 30 practices and play 11 games, a huge advantage over other teams who take these overseas trips- those teams are allowed only 10 practices.

4) Detroit Tigers hired former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire as their new manager; he was 1,068-1,039 in 13 years with the Twins, going 6-21 in playoff games.

3) Why are foul tips not reviewable via instant replay? Anytime an obvious mistake is made by the umpires, the people in New York City should beep the crew chief on the field and correct things. The missed call on the foul tip in Game 4 of Dodger-Cub series was embarrassing.

2) Clippers clocked the Lakers Thursday night; Lonzo Ball had 3 points, 4 assists in his NBA debut. It is only one game, but if Lonzo is a marked man because his father can’t shut up, then that is too bad, but he’ll get through it. He will be a very good NBA player, in time.

1) Cam Newton skipped a couple of media sessions this week, which probably results in a fine; he can’t win this battle long-term, because he is a QB and the media needs access to him— it is part of why he makes so much money.

I’m not saying Newton is wrong; maybe he just has to adopt the Marshawn Lynch strategy of showing up and saying nothing. If he thinks he is being baited by certain writers, he has to rise above it and find ways to get around all that, for his sake and his employer’s sake.

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

13) How tired are the Falcons of hearing about last year’s Super Bowl? Now they get to visit Foxboro the week after blowing a 17-0 halftime lead to Miami. Matt Ryan went to Boston College, so a homecoming of sorts for him.

12) Michigan beat Penn State 49-10 last year; Wolverines are 5-1, but it is a shaky 5-1 and they are playing a backup QB- they needed OT to beat Indiana last week.

11) Brett Hundley gets his first NFL start at home against New Orleans; no pressure, replacing Aaron Rodgers 🙂 Saints are actually a road favorite in this game.

10) Arizona Wildcats ran ball for 882 yards in their last two games; now they’re a road favorite at Cal— Golden Bears upset Washington State last week. Interesting game.

9) First round of rematches this weekend, three of them. Can the Jets sweep Miami? Eagles sweep Washington? Denver sweep the Chargers?

8) USC-Notre Dame is a stellar primetime game Saturday night. Trojans lost their last two visits to South Bend.

7) Cardinals-Rams in England is a big game in NFC West; Adrian Peterson added a running element to the Arizona offense last week. Both teams are a LONG way from home.

6) Think the boosters in Knoxville are happy that Tennessee is a 35-point underdog this week in Tuscaloosa? Hopefully Butch Jones has his resume updated, because he is going to need a job in a few weeks. His bank account will be healthy, though.

5) Giants got their first win last week, now Seattle visits Swamp Stadium coming off its bye. Giants’ young WR’s will have hard time getting open against a stingy Seahawk defense.

4) Texas is 3-3, losing to USC/Oklahoma by total of 8 points; now Oklahoma State comes calling, another tough game. State scored 48 ppg in winning its first three road games this year.

3) Jacksonville is +11 in turnovers in its wins, -1 in its losses; they have a very winnable game in Indy against a Colt team that might be without Andrew Luck for the whole season now. Jacoby Brissett hasn’t played badly, but Indy has been outscored 85-22 in the 4th quarter this year.

2) Louisville beat Florida State 63-20 LY, but Cardinals lost their last two games, allowing 84 points. Seminoles are struggling (2-3) with a true freshman QB who is skinny as hell- their only two wins are over Wake Forest/Duke.

1) Trap game for the Titans, a road game after a Monday night win. Winless Browns are going back to DeShone Kizer at QB; maybe they should’ve drafted Deshaun Watson. Ya think?

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

13) Philadelphia Eagle fans are not happy with NFL referee Pete Morelli; the last four times Morelli worked an Eagle game, his crew called a total of 40 penalties for 396 yards on the Iggles, only 8 penalties for 74 yards on their opponents. Its enough to make a guy paranoid.

A petition was circulated; last I heard, over 60,000 people had signed it, requesting that Morelli not work any more Eagle games. Alrighty then.

12) Andrew Luck had a setback with his injured shoulder, and now there is talk he won’t play at all this season, which is bad news for everyone in Indianapolis except Jacoby Brissett.

11) 2018 NFL Draft will be at Jerry World in Dallas, the first time the draft will be in an actual NFL stadium.

10) General Electric shelled out a lot of money to put their patch on the Boston Celtics’ uniforms this season; less than six minutes into the Celtics’ season, newly-acquired star Gordon Hayward breaks his ankle, is lost for the season. So much for seeing those patches in June.

9) Celtics were the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference last year, but they’ve got 11 new players on their team this season. Am I the only person who finds this unusual?

8) Jacksonville told its kicker Jason Myers to take a hike, signed former Chargers’ kicker Josh Lambo, who in a perfect world, would kick for the Packers (Lambeau Field…..get it??)

7) BYU’s football team is 1-6, with only win 20-6 against I-AA Portland State; they’re off to their worst start since 1969. Cougars need to join a league- -maybe when the new dome gets built in Las Vegas, UNLV/BYU can join the Big X as a western tandem.

6) When I was a kid, I loved game shows, totally enjoyed them. One of the games was Jokers’ Wild, hosted by Jack Barry, where contestants played with a simulated slot machine to try and win their money/prizes. It wasn’t the best show, but it had an odd appeal.

Now it is coming back on WTBS and it is being hosted by Snoop Dawg. I have no opinion on this, other than I’ve got to watch it at least once. In the commercials I saw, Snoop Dawg appears to be wearing a velour smoking jacket. If gameshows make a comeback, that would be good.

5) Yu Darvish walked with the bases loaded Monday night; he is the first pitcher in 40 years to walk with the bases loaded in a playoff game. Larry Christensen of the Phillies was the last pitcher to draw a bases loaded walk in a playoff game, in 1977.

4) Nick Young scored 23 points for the Warriors Tuesday night, but Golden State was also -10 in the 29:00 he was on the floor in their 122-121 loss to Houston. Warriors were +9 in the 19:00 he was on the bench, -10 when he was on the floor. Thats more important than his point total.

3) There are rumors that the Big 14 is considering moving to 20 conference games next season, with the eventual goal of juicing up their teams’ power ratings so mid-majors get blocked out of at-large bids for the NCAA tournament. That would be sad, if that is the reason.

2) Baseball playoffs:
New York 5, Houston 0— Astros have scored 9 runs in five series games.

1) When you watch NBA/college games this season, consider this:

Several years ago, I was sitting at an AAU tournament talking to a college basketball coach who is very good at his job. I was asking him lot of questions, trying to pick his brain as far as what he looked for at these tournaments with mostly glorified pickup games being played.

“I look at what their college skill is” the coach said. “Some guys shoot it well, others pass it well, some rebound well. I’ll tell you this, getting loose balls is a skill, too”

So when there is a loose ball in an NBA game and the same couple guys are getting most of them, know that their toughness/quickness is what helped get them to the NBA in the first place. Its not an accident.

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

13) 5:15 into the Boston Celtics’ season, Gordon Hayward severely injured his leg/ankle when he came down on an attempted alley-oop. It was a gruesome injury, reminiscent of Jason Kendall or Joe Theismann’s grotesque leg injuries.

12) Damn, this is Lebron James’ 15th year in the NBA? Time flies. I remember sitting in a bar having dinner, watching his high school game that ESPN showed. Think Bill Walton was the TV analyst that night; people were excited that Lebron scored 31 points.

Hell, I thought, if he’s going to be in the NBA next year, he SHOULD score 31 points in a high school game, shouldn’t he?

Obviously, Lebron has outperformed those huge expectations; good for him.

11) By the way, sounds like pretty soon, kids will able to go straight from high school to the NBA once again, which helps everyone, except veterans trying to hang on in the G-League.

10) Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter this season: they’ve been outscored 85-22, allowing 1,034 yards on 139 plays, an average of 7.4 yards per play.

Colts are 2-4, but they haven’t trailed at halftime since Week 1 against the Rams.

9) Tennessee Titans have 7 takeaways in six games, but they’re the only team in NFL that hasn’t scored a touchdown after one of their takeaways.

Titans-Colts game Monday night had no punts in the first half, the first game in NFL this season without a first half punt.

8) Injured Vikings’ QB Teddy Bridgewater is practicing this week, as he comes back from his severe knee injury; Minnesota has three weeks to decide whether to activate Bridgewater or IR him for the rest of the season. Bridgewater and Sam Bradford are both in the last year of their contracts; Vikings have some interesting decisions ahead of them.

7) Chicago Bulls Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic got into a fight today at practice and Mirotic wound up with broken bones in his face; he’s going to be out for a few weeks, at least.

Curious how the analytics geniuses take this into account when they measure Portis, Mirotic as players. There is a human element to sports that can never be quantified— these guys live and travel together for months at a time. Part of being a good teammate is staying out of fights that send yourself or teammates to the hospital.

6) Best red zone offenses in NFL:
Packers 5.68 pts/possession, Eagles 5.56, Cowboys 5.33, Texans 5.25— Aaron Rodgers is gone for the year, so going forward, Green Bay’s numbers figure to drop dramatically.

5) Best offenses on drives starting 75+ yards from end zone:
Saints 2.47, Chiefs 2.46, Titans 2.37, Patriots 2.16

Worst offenses on drives starting 75+ yards from end zone (includes points lost on TD”s scored by the opposing defense):
Colts 0.42, Bengals 0.51, Buccaneers 0.91, Lions 0.97

4) Most plays of 20+ yards this season:
Rams 31, Vikings 30, Patriots/Cardinals 29, Chiefs 27

3) Most TD’s on plays of 20+ yards:
Raiders 8 (out of 13 total TD’s), Chiefs 7 (18 total TD’s), Titans 7 (13 total TD’s), Jets 6 (11 total TD’s), Lions 6 (14 total TD’s)

2) Baseball update:
AL: New York 6, Houston 4— Astros’ bullpen imploded; series is tied 2-2.
NL: Dodgers 6, Cubs 1– Chicago is going down meekly.

1) One of the best days of the year for me is when the Blue Ribbon Yearbook arrives at my door every October; the bible of college basketball, Blue Ribbon has a ton of useful information in it, and it got here Monday. If you like college basketball, it is well worth your time.