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

13) I asked a few days ago why Ohio State never got rid of this assistant coach Zach Smith, despite multiple off-field screw-ups. Now I kind of know. 

Turns out Smith is the grandson of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, the coach who succeeded the legendary Woody Hayes as Buckeyes’ coach. 

Urban Meyer once called Bruce “his second father”; Smith was considered a good recruiter but not much of a football tactician/teacher. 

Meyer tried to give an old friend’s grandson the benefit of the doubt, and the guy badly abused the privilege. Now it is a mess, but not many coaches with a 73-8 record get fired. 

12) It is unclear whether Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz will be available for Philly’s season opener against the Falcons. Super Bowl hero Nick Foles hurt his shoulder when he was sacked in the game Thursday night, which leaves open the possibility that Nate Sudfeld could be the #1 QB for the Iggles when they open this season in 19 days.

11) Giants’ pitcher Dereck Rodriguez, who has been doing great for the last month, went on the DL with hamstring issues; he tweaked his hamstring jumping over the dugout fence to get on the field during the Nick Hundley/Yasiel Puig incident the other night. 

Not good.

10) Bills’ QB AJ McCarron broke his collarbone Friday night, basically handing the starting job to rookie Josh Allen.

9) I know it is preseason, but Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes threw a TD pass to Tyreek Hill Friday night that traveled 68.6 yards in the air, longer than any TD thrown in any game all of last season.

8) Friday night, Daniel Zamora became the 54th player to play for the Mets this season, tying their all-time franchise record for most players used in a season. Zamora was brought up from AA Binghamton, which is unusual.

7) A reminder that in 1972, Steve Carlton went 27-10 pitching for a Phillies team that went 59-97. One of the greatest seasons ever for a pitcher. 

6) Another reminder: actor/pro wrestler Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson played college football at Miami, FL and in the CFL for the Calgary Stampeders, before he started his career as a pro wrestler. If I remember right, he backed up Warren Sapp at Miami. 

5) When he was 14, Mets’ 3B Todd Frazier worked as a carnival barker on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore. At the basketball shooting booth, where the rim may not have been totally round. 

4) Red Sox’ AAA farm team is moving from Pawtucket, RI to Worcester, MA in 2021; they’ve been in Pawtucket since 1973. Worcester is much closer to Boston; they’ll build a new stadium that hopefully will revitalize the Worcester area. 

3) Pirates lost consecutive games 1-0 games Thursday/Friday for first time since May 9 (at Padres), 10 (at Dodgers), way back in 1985. Both Chicago runs came on home runs. 

2) White Sox put Yoan Moncada back in the leadoff spot Friday, despite fact that he was hitting .144 since the All-Star break, with 31 strikeouts in his last 60 plate appearances.

1) Thanks to Ken Thomsen and Andrew Fain for having me on their excellent radio show Friday night. Good baseball talk from out in Las Vegas; you can listen weeknights from 10-12pm on sportsxradio.com. You’ll be smarter about sports if you do. 

Sunday’s Den: Notes, trends on AFC teams

Baltimore— Missed playoffs last three years, four of five years since Ray Lewis retired. Ravens are 6-2-1 vs spread on natural grass last two years. Since ’08, Ravens are 9-6-1 as road favorites in divisional games, 6-12 in non-divisional tilts. 

Buffalo— Bills made playoffs LY for first time in 18 years, but now QB Tyrod Taylor plays for the Browns, and Buffalo’s three QB’s have a combined five NFL starts. When does rookie QB Josh Allen get the nod? Last three years, Bills are 6-2-1 as non-divisional home favorites. 

Cincinnati— Marvin Lewis is 125-112-3 with Bengals, but 0-7 in playoff games. Over last decade, Bengals are 24-13-3 vs spread when playing an NFC opponent- surprisingly, they won seven of their last nine games with Baltimore. Under is 21-11 in their road games last four years. 

For the record, Lewis may be 0-7 in playoff games, but the Bengals’ three head coaches before him were a combined 52-124 over 11 seasons. 

Cleveland— Browns are 1-31 the last two years; since coming back to NFL in 1999, they’re 1-18 in season openers. Cleveland was a ridiculously-bad -28 in turnovers LY; having Taylor at QB will improve that a great deal. Last eight years, Browns are 21-39-3 vs spread at home. 

Denver— Keenum will be Broncos’ 7th different #1 QB the last 12 years; they’re 5-2 as home underdogs last three years, vs 5-11 vs spread on the road. Denver was 1-7 on road LY, with only win at Indianapolis in December; previous six years, they were 31-17 on foreign soil

Houston— Texans scored 34-33-38 points in last three games rookie QB Watson played, but after his injury, Houston scored 16 or fewer points in 8 of their last 9 games. Last nine years, Texans are 6-11 as home underdogs; under O’Brien, they’re 9-3-1 when favored by 3 or fewer points. 

Indianapolis— Andrew Luck returns at QB after missing LY; they change coaches after missing playoffs last 3 years (8-8/8-8/4-12). Last two years, Colts are 2-7-1 vs spread in games coming off a win, 13-8 in games coming off a loss. Frank Reich has never been a head coach before; he was the Eagles’ OC the last two years. 

Jacksonville— Jaguars were +10 in turnovers LY as they made playoffs for first time in 10 years; can they force 33 takeaways again? Over is 15-8 in Jaguar home games the last three years. Last five years, Jax is 3-17 vs spread when playing an NFC team; they open with Giants this year. 

Kansas City— Last three years, Chiefs were +14/+16/+15 in turnovers, but Alex Smith is gone, Patrick Mahomes (1 career start) is the starter now and KC’s turnover ratio figures to regress some this year. Chiefs were -3 in turnovers in 2014, the only time in Andy Reid’s five years in KC the Chiefs failed to make the playoffs. 

LA Chargers— Bolts started out 0-4 LY, with three losses by 2 or 3 points; their kickers were terrible in September, and it cost them a playoff spot. Chargers made playoffs once in last eight years; they’re 9-13 as home favorites the last four years. 

Chargers play in Cleveland in Week 6, then play in London against the Titans in Week 7, before their bye week. In Week 9, they play in Seattle and the next week they visit Oakland- tough five-week stretch. 

Miami— Dolphins haven’t been in playoffs since 2008; their last playoff win was in 2000. Jay Cutler was Miami’s QB LY; now he’s on a reality show with his actress wife and Ryan Tannehill is back at QB. Miami is 5-2-1 as home dogs under coach Gase; they’re 5-15 vs spread in their last 20 games on artificial turf. 

New England— Last time Patriots went out in their first playoff game was 2010; they’re 14-6-3 as home favorites the last three years, but NE is replacing DC Matt Patricia this year- he is the Lions’ new coach. Over last decade, Patriots are 24-10 vs spread when they’re coming off a loss. Last five years, NE is 3-9 vs spread as a road favorite in divisional games. 

NJ Jets— Jets haven’t made playoffs since 2010; they were outscored 94-32 in losing their last four games LY. Will Sam Darnold start? Will they keep three QB’s? Two of their first three games this year are in primetime. Last four years, Jets are -29 in turnovers; they’re 15-8-1 vs spread at home the last three years. 

Oakland— Jon Gruden already got rid of his punter and his kicker; special teams coach Bisaccia will have his hands full. Oakland hasn’t won a playoff game (0-1) since Gruden beat them in Super Bowl with Bucs 16 years ago. Last five years, Raiders are 13-6-1 vs spread as a non-divisional road underdog. 

Pittsburgh— Steelers have had only three head coaches since 1969; they made playoffs last four years, but haven’t won Super Bowl since 2008. Last three years, under is 18-4-1 in Pitt’s away games. Since 2010, Steelers are 27-15-1 vs spread when coming off a loss. 

Tennessee— Titans made playoffs for first time in nine years, then fired the coach; they’re 7-3-2 vs spread as home favorites the last two years, but 5-10-1 vs spread on road. Over last decade, Tennessee is 8-21-1 vs spread in AFC South road games. 

Developing young QB Marcus Mariota will be QB coach Pat O’Hara, whose resume is fascinating— he played at USC, played and coached in the Arena League, was the #3 QB for the Miami Sharks in the movie Any Given Sunday, backing up Dennis Quaid and Jamie Foxx.

Friday’s List of 13: NFL games with interesting subplots:

Week 1: Falcons @ Eagles: Philly beat Atlanta 15-10 in playoffs LY, went on to win their first Super Bowl title, with their backup QB playing- now Carson Wentz is back under center. Falcons lost Super Bowl two years ago. Matt Ryan is from Philly. 

Week 2: Dolphins @ Jets: If I owned the Dolphins, would damn sure want to know how the hell we’re 1-6 in our last seven games against the Jets? Miami lost last three visits to the Swamp, by 38-20/34-13/20-6 scores. Will Sam Darnold be the Jets’ QB by then? 

Giants @ Cowboys: Big Blue visited Dallas in Week 1 four of the last five years; they have to wait until Week 2 this year. This matchup must get consistently high TV ratings, but an NFC East squad won the Super Bowl last year, and it wasn’t either one of these teams. 

Week 3: Titans @ Jaguars: Jacksonville made playoffs LY for first time in 10 years, but they got swept by the Titans, 37-16/15-10. Jaguars were +10 in turnovers last year, but were -5 vs Tennessee- they scored only two offensive TD’s in 26 drives against the Titans. 

Patriots @ Lions: Matt Patricia is the Lions’ new coach; he’s come a long way from his days as a college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), located in Troy, NY, just over the river from Armadillo World HQ. This matchup vs Brady/Belichick is the NBC Sunday night game. 

Week 4: Chiefs @ Broncos: Kansas City is starting Patrick Mahomes at QB; he is basically a rookie- his only start was a 27-24 win here LY. Four of the Chiefs’ first six games this year are on road, at Chargers, Steelers, Broncos, Patriots. Tough start for a young QB. 

Week 6: 49ers @ Packers: Same thing for the 49ers; four of their first six games are on the road, at Vikings, Chiefs, Chargers, Packers.  Was 49ers’ strong finish LY a sign of future promise, or were they merely passing tired horses? By time this game is over, we may know. 

Week 7: Chargers @ Browns: Cleveland is 1-31 the last two years; they beat Chargers 20-17 here in Week 16 of 2016 for the only win, then lost to them 19-10 (+14) in Carson LY. Chargers are on their way to London after this game, for a 6:30am PST game with the Titans in Week 8. 

Week 8: Saints @ Vikings: I’m guessing New Orleans has this game circled on their calendar, after their defensive meltdown at the end of last year’s 29-24 playoff loss on this field. 

Week 9: Raiders @ 49ers: “I could fly to LA for a haircut faster than I could drive to Santa Clara” Mark Davis is moving his team to Las Vegas because he didn’t want to share this stadium with the 49ers. Well, he has to drive to Santa Clara for this Thursday night game. 

Week 12: Six NFC teams are playing on Thanksgiving: Bears-Lions, Redskins-Cowboys and Falcons-Saints. Smart to have divisional games on Thursdays, with less prep time. 

Jaguars @ Bills: Last year’s unlikely playoff game: Jaguars 10, Bills 3. Buffalo made playoffs for first time in 19 years, then sent their QB packing. Interesting decision; was it smart? Visiting Buffalo on Thanksgiving weekend means cold weather will probably be a factor. 

Week 13: 49ers @ Seahawks: Richard Sherman’s return to Seattle is a Sunday night game. 

Tuesday’s List of 13: Talking baseball TV announcers……

Meant to do this during the All-Star break, but got sidetracked, so today we bring you my comments/thoughts on major league baseball announcers. 

I watch baseball on TV for at least 5-6 hours a day every day for six months, so I’m qualified to comment on stuff like this. This is for TV only; don’t hear much radio these days. 

I’m not going to do straight rankings, but here are my comments on baseball TV guys.  

1) Best duo: Mets, when Gary Cohen/Ron Darling are on. They talk about the game, they’re smart and they’re fairly honest where the home team is concerned. If you sit and listen to a Mets’ game, you’ll be smarter about baseball when the game is over. 

When Keith Hernandez is on with Cohen, it isn’t nearly as good; Hernandez is so self-centered it hampers the broadcast, especially with the Mets out of the pennant race. He’ll talk about his cat or his house in Sag Harbor or complain about the traffic. Not good. 

When Hernandez/Darling are both on with Cohen, it is still an excellent broadcast. 

2) Brewers’ duo of Brian Anderson/Bill Schroeder are really good, but Anderson takes a lot of time off; he is usually gone for a month during the NBA playoffs, but his replacement Matt Lepay is also good, mainly because Schroeder is an excellent analyst and a friendly guy. 

3) Colorado has Drew Goodman/Jeff Huson most of the time, and they are very good; Goodman is a New York guy who is a lot like Gary Cohen- little bit more of a homer (they talk about Nolan Arenado like he is a combo of Brooks Robinson/Mike Schmidt). 

When Huson is off, Ryan Spilborghs is in the booth; he is a bit of a character, a funny ex-player who takes great care to give you the players’ perspective of how baseball works.

4) When Red Sox had Don Orsillo/Jerry Remy on TV, they had broadcasting gold, but Orsillo got the boot for whatever reason, and now humorless Dave O’Brien is the play/play guy, which renders Remy useless, since he is at his best when he is laughing. 

Dennis Eckersley is good in his occasional appearances; last week, O’Brien asked him about his old teammates and Eck responded: “….I had a teammate once who stole my wife!!!” 

TV doesn’t get any better than that……lol

5) Orsillo has moved on to San Diego, where he works with Mark Grant, who is a funny guy. They are good to listen to, but the Padres stink every year and sometimes you can tell that Orsillo’s heart is still in Boston. Mark Sweeney is the sub analyst who will be very, very good on the national stage someday. 

6) Joe Davis is the Dodgers’ TV announcer, replacing the legendary Vin Scully, the greatest baseball announcer of all-time; tough job, huge shoes to fill, but Davis is really good, and he is low-key which works well in Los Angeles. 

Davis is only 30 years old; he does football/basketball for FOX and is really good.

7) Bob Carpenter is a really good play/play guy for the Washington Nationals; the analyst is FP Santangelo, who is the equivalent of giving an 8-year the microphone and letting him work a game. He is upbeat and seems like a good guy, but they could do better. Every time a team gets its first hit of the game, “….there goes the no-hitter.” Even in the first inning. 

8) Cincinnati Reds’ announcers (usually Thom Brennaman/Chris Walsh) are brutally honest; they’ll thrash the home team, if they think it is deserved. It often is. 

9) Duane Kuiper is probably the best play/play guy who is a former player; he really is super on Giants’ games. His analyst is Mike Krukow, who is a homer, and not in a good way. Jon Miller/Dave Flemming do the Giants’ radio— thats a lot of broadcasting talent for one team. 

10) Miami Marlins used to have a great TV team; Rich Waltz/Tommy Hutton- they were really good, but the Marlins let both of them go. Who knows why, but it hurts their broadcasts. 

11) Victor Rojas/Mark Gubicza are very good on Angels’ games; Rojas is the son of Cookie Rojas, the old second baseman. Gubicza is always upbeat and gives credit to both teams. 

12) As for the Bronx Bombers, I think David Cone could be a great analyst; he is funny and smart, but the whole condescending nature of the Bronx franchise makes me want to puke. 

I’ll say this for them; friend of mine’s son was a runner in their TV/radio booth a few years ago and all of those people were nice to him, including John Sterling/Suzyn Waldman, the radio announcers, so they get points for that. 

Michael Kay was a sportswriter who became a solid play-by-play guy. When Paul O’Neill is an analyst, you can hear him turning pages of the other team’s media guide as he talks—he seems to do zero prep work on the other team.   

13) As for national announcers, Matt Vasgersian/Alex Rodriguez are very good on the Sunday night games; Jessica Mendoza is neither good nor bad— she is in on a pass, and she seems smart enough to know it.

I have a friend who worked as a professional announcer and tried to make a living at it; he worked really hard, but never made it. To see someone get passed ahead to the highest-profile job on TV simply because she is a woman is ridiculous, but that is the world we live in today. 

Sunday’s List of 13: Trends on NFC teams

Arizona Cardinals scored 123 fewer points LY than they did in 2016; this year, they’ve got a new coach, two new QB’s. Last three years, Redbirds are 1-7-1 vs spread in NFC West home games. 

Last four years, Atlanta Falcons are 9-2 vs spread as an underdog of 3 or fewer points. Last five years, they’re 6-15 as a non-divisional home favorite. 

Last two years, Carolina is 6-12-1 vs spread when favored; since 2012, Panthers are 20-8 as a road underdog. Norv Turner is the new OC this season, which will be interesting. 

Chicago Bears are 8-1-2 vs spread in last 11 games as a home underdog; they improved from -20 to even in turnovers LY, but won only two more games, improving from 3-13 to 5-11. 

Since 2014, Dallas Cowboys are 12-4-1 vs spread as road favorites; over last decade, they’re 22-39 as home favorites. 

Under Jim Caldwell, favorites were 22-7-3 vs spread in Detroit Lion home games. Since 2008, Lions are 4-11 are home underdogs. They were +11 in turnovers LY and still missed the playoffs. 

Green Bay missed playoffs LY for first time in eight years; since 2014, they’re 17-8-2 as home favorites. Over is 21-11 in Packer games the last two years. 

Since 2015, Rams are 3-7 vs spread as a favorite of 3 or fewer points; their last playoff win was in 2004. Since 2010, LA is 6-11 as a divisional home favorite. 

Kirk Cousins will be Minnesota’s 5th different Week 1 starting QB the last five years, and 11th in last 15 years; despite that, they went 32-16 last three years. Under Zimmer, Vikings are 14-5 as favorites of 3 or fewer points. 

New Orleans has made playoffs seven times since 2000; they won their first playoff game six of those seven years. Saints are 16-8 vs spread in las 24 games as an underdog. Since 2011, over is 35-21 in their home games. 

Giants have played in one playoff game the last six years; over last nine years, underdogs are 34-19 vs spread in their divisional games. 

Last five years, over is 27-13 in Eagles’ road games. Under Pederson, Philly is 10-4-1 vs spread at home. Since 2012, Eagles are 6-11-1 vs spread in divisional home games. 

49ers started last season 1-10, then won their last five games; expectations are lot higher this season. Since 2014, they’re 13-19 vs spread at home. 

Seahawks made playoffs 11 of last 14 years. Since 2015, under is 15-9 in Seattle road games. Since ’11, Seahawks are 23-12-1 vs spread coming off a loss. 

Since 2014, Buccaneers are 3-10 vs spread as home favorites, 2-8 as favorites of 3 or fewer points. Tampa Bay hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007; their last playoff win was the Super Bowl 16 years ago. 

Since 2015, Redskins are 14-7 vs spread in game following a loss; since ’08, they’re 18-28-2 vs spread in non-divisional home games, but 17-9 as a divisional road underdog.