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

13) Last year, the Arizona Cardinals spent a lot of $$$ on quarterbacks:
— They paid Sam Bradford $16M; he played three games.
— They paid Josh Rosen $11.5M; he lives in Miami now.
— They paid Mike Glennon $5M; he lives in Oakland now. 

Now the Cardinals’ QB’s are Kyler Murray, Brett Hundley and two guys I’ve never heard of, free agents from Murray State and Princeton. Kyler Murray better be the real deal. 

12) No idea how NFL teams will handle their rookie QB’s this year, but last season, all five first-round quarterbacks were playing by midseason, so there’s that. 

11) Interesting article in the Los Angeles Times about UCLA’s search for a new basketball coach; Bruins offered to double Jay Wright’s salary, but the Villanova coach turned them down. When a coach declines having his salary doubled, thats a major red flag. 

Similar to Loyola coach Porter Moser turning down St John’s, when they offered to more than double his salary. Turning down a Big East job to stay at Loyola was an eye-opener. 

10) So far this baseball season, relief pitchers have a worse ERA than starting pitchers; that hasn’t happened over a full season in fifty years. Starting pitchers need to last longer in games; there is too much strain being put on bullpens. 

9) There are 127 I-A college football teams; for some reason, in 2020 there will be three new bowl games, bringing the total (for now) to 43. 

Fenway Park, Myrtle Beach and the new dome in Los Angeles get the new bowl games; why do baseball stadiums in Boston/New York have bowl games? These games are in December; warm weather cities seem like a better bowl destination. 

Do kids want to freeze their butts off in a bowl game? I think not. 

With 43 bowls, teams with losing records will go to bowls, which also isn’t ideal. 

8) 233 players have declared for early entry to the NBA Draft; players have until late May to pull their names from the draft. NBA Draft is two rounds- 60 players get picked, so do the math, then add in the seniors who will also be involved. 

If you’re not a first round pick, go back to school. Become a better player. Unless you want to play in the G-League or in Europe. 

7) Warriors 115, Rockets 109— Houston was +5 with Chris Paul on court. -11 in the 8:00 he sat out. Golden State leads series, 2-0.

Scott Foster was one of the refs for this game; Houston has now lost the last seven times Foster reffed their games, with six losses by 16+ points. Back in February. James Harden called Foster “rude and arrogant.” You would think the league would keep Foster away from the Rockets. 

It was also mentioned that Golden State’s players aren’t crazy about Foster, either. There was a recent stretch where the road team had won 12 playoff games in a row worked by Foster. 

With three refs working a game, I’m skeptical how much stats like this actually mean, but if the players think they matter, then they matter, whether they matter or not.

6) Harden led the NBA in foul shots attempted in six of last seven years; he led the NBA in free throws made the last five years in a row. He is obviously used to getting calls. 

5) Baseball stuff:
— Dodgers put OF AJ Pollock (elbow) on IL.
— Nationals put 3B Anthony Rendon (elbow) on DL.
— Padres put SS Fernando Tatis (hamstring) on DL
— Mariners sent OF Mallex Smith to AAA because he can’t hit. 

4) Ranger College basketball coach Billy Gillispie was named JUCO Coach of the Year this week, after leading Ranger to a 31-4 record this year- they played in the NJCAA championship game. 

The former head coach at Kentucky, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and UTEP, Gillispie returned to coaching this season after a kidney transplant. Good for him. 

3) Tim Mead was named this week as the new vice-president of National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Mead represented the Los Angels Angels for the last 40 years, under three owners, nine managers and six interim managers, last 22 years as the team’s vice president of communications. 

Not often you see a guy get a new job, followed by a flood of 100% positive tweets giving the thumbs up to the hire. Everyone really likes this guy, so good for the Hall of Fame. 

2) Milwaukee Bucks are now 19-4 vs spread this season in the game following a loss. 

1) Wake Forest signed football coach Dave Clawson to an 8-year contract extension; Wake is the smallest school that has big-time college football. Tough job.

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

13) 76ers 94, Raptors 89- Kawhi Leonard was 13-24 from floor; rest of Toronto’s team was 20-67 (29.9%). Series is tied, 1-1. 

12) Ben Simmons is a weird player; I think he’s one of the five best passers I’ve ever seen, but it almost seems like he defiantly refuses to become a shooting threat. 

In this game, Simmons played 44:00, was 3-6 from floor. No foul shots, no 3’s. He had seven rebounds, five assists. Someone who has the ball as much as Simmons does takes six shots in 44:00? Very unusual. 

11) Nuggets 121, Trailblazers 113— Jokic had 37 points, nine rebounds, six assists as Denver takes the first game of this series. Nuggets are 41-5 at home this season. 

10) Today’s unusual stat from Dan Hayes: Max Kepler’s 10-pitch walk in the 1st inning vs Justin Verlander Monday night was the 76th time Verlander has thrown 10 pitches in a plate appearance among the 11,497 batters (0.6%) he has faced in his great career.

9) Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes parlayed his dalliance with UCLA into a 5-year, $26M contract extension with the Vols.

8) Texas Tech basketball coach Chris Beard signed a six-year contract that will pay him $4.575M annually, through the 2024-25 season. His annual salary is now 4th-highest in the country, behind John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski and Barnes.

7) Baseball injuries:
— Giants put P Derek Holland (finger) on the IL.
— Braves put P Chad Sobotka (abdomen) on the IL.
— A’s put 1B/OF Mark Canha (wrist) on the IL.
— Brewers put P Aaron Wilkerson (foot) on the IL. 

6) New England Patriots ranked 25th in NFL LY with a 53.8% touchback rate on kickoffs, so it is possible that the punter they traded up to draft in the 5th round will also be used as a kickoff guy, seeing how PK Stephen Gostkowski is 35 now. Field position is important. 

5) James Harden led the NBA in foul shots attempted in five of the last seven years, and finished 2nd/3rd the other two seasons. 

4) Blues 4, Stars 3— St Louis wins a road game, is up 2-1 in this series. 

3) Giants 3, Dodgers 2— Evan Longoria’s bases loaded double in the 7th inning was the game-winning hit. 

2) Reds 5, Mets 4— Jesse Winker’s 9th-inning homer decided this one. It was the first hit that Mets’ closer Edwin Diaz allowed to a lefty batter this season. 

1) I’d be curious to know how much NFL teams value if a prospect played for a winning program in college. I’m not 100% sold that playing on a winning team is that big a deal; sometimes your deficiencies can be hidden if you’re surrounded by superior athletes.

But I’d be more interested in how NFL teams feel than how I think about it. 

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

13) There have already been 20 picks traded in the 2020 NFL Draft.

12) This was the first time since 1962 that no Nebraska players were drafted. 

11) Warriors 104, Rockets 100— James Harden was 5-12 inside arc, 4-16 on arc, 13-14 on line; Houston was +3 in the 39:00 he was on the floor. As a team, Rockets took 47 3-pointers (14-47), only 2-pointers. 

10) Baseball injuries:
— Christian Yelich left Sunday’s game with lower back discomfort.
— Robinson Cano got hit on the hand, left the same game; x-rays were negative.
— Fernando Tatis Jr (hamstring) left the Padres game in the 10th inning. 

9) Going into Sunday’s games, Mets pitchers led NL in strikeouts, but were last in ERA. 

Only twice has a team led the league in pitching strikeouts but were last in ERA for a full season; the 1958 Dodgers and the 2007 Devil Rays. Both teams made it to the World Series the year after this happened. 

8) It is April 29 but if you’re a Mets fan, it is not too early to worry:
— Jacob deGrom’s ERA in five starts: 4.85
— Noah Syndergaard’s ERA in six starts: 6.35

7) Eight of Met rookie Pete Alonso’s nine HR’s have come against relief pitchers.

6) Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff is only lefty-hitting pitcher ever to homer in a postseason game against a lefty pitcher. He homered off of Clayton Kershaw in LY’s playoffs. 

5) Buffalo Bills open this season with consecutive games in the Meadowlands, against the Jets in Week 1, then the Giants in Week 2. 

4) Former Jaguars/Raiders coach Jack del Rio did a solid job in the studio on the NFL Network telecast of the draft this weekend. Looks like a positive addition to their broadcast team. 

3) Jerry Stackhouse is Vanderbilt’s new basketball coach; he signed Scotty Pippen Jr this week. Young Pippen committed to Vandy back when Bryce Drew was the Commodores’ coach, and he officially signed his letter of intent with Vandy this week. 

2)  Butler poaches 7-foot grad transfer Derrik Smits from Valparaiso; he is the son of former NBA player Rik Smits. Wasn’t so long ago that Butler/Valparaiso were both Horizon League teams (2012)- the last year they were in the same league, Valpo finished three games ahead of Butler in the Horizon. 

Seven years later, Butler is in the Big East, Valpo is in the Missouri Valley. 

1) Cardinals’ pitching prospect Alex Reyes punched a wall after a recent AAA start and broke the left pinky on his non-throwing hand. Reyes is expected to miss three weeks. 

Sunday’s List of 13; Clearing out a cluttered mind……

13) Utah had both its punter and kicker taken Saturday, the first time since 1985 (Clemson) that a team had both its kicking specialists taken in the same draft. Both kids are Australian, too.

12) Oklahoma obviously had the last two Heisman Trophy winners, and maybe this is why; four of the top 123 players taken in this year’s draft were offensive linemen for the Sooners. 

11) Benny Snell, the Kentucky RB picked by the Steelers in the 4th round, is the grandson of former Jets’ RB Matt Snell, who started for the Jets in Super Bowl III. 

10) More than $106M was bet legally in New Jersey this year on the NCAA Tournament.  

9) Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney signed a 10-year, $93M contract extension that keeps in orange until 2028 and makes him really, really rich.

8) In his last five PGA golf Championships, Brooks Koepka is a combined 47 under par; PGA moves up to May on the schedule this year, after recently being held in mid-to-late August.

7) Baseball injuries:
— Pirates put P Chris Archer (thumb) on IL.
— Royals put 1B Lucas Duda on IL.
— Tigers put P Jordan Zimmerman (elbow) on IL. 

6) 6-4 guard Christian Keeling scored 19.1 ppg for Charleston Southern LY; he scored 25 against Clemson, 18 against both Florida/Marquette. 

He transferred to North Carolina this week; thats the new thing, kids who score double digits for low major schools being poached by big money teams that have holes on their roster. 

5) Guard Seventh Woods is transferring away from North Carolina, first Tar Heel to do that since 2011, and only fifth transfer out of Chapel Hill in the Roy Williams era. 

4) Today Show host Willie Geist is the great grandson of Herbie Lewis, who played for the Detroit Red Wings in the 1930’s and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

3) NHL’s St Louis Blues made the Stanley Cup finals the first three years they were in existence (1968-70), went 0-12 in those three finals series, and have never been back to the finals, despite making the playoffs in 42 of their 51 seasons in the NHL. 

When the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams for the ’67-’68 season, they put the six new teams in the same division, and the Blues were the best of those teams right off the bat.

2) Chargers drafted a QB from North Dakota State in the 5th round; Easton Stick, who was 49-3 as a starter for the Bison— he replaced Carson Wentz as QB at North Dakota State, and figures to replace Philip Rivers down the road with the Chargers. 

1) Alex, I’d like “Irony for $500” please: If you went to the NRA’s annual convention Friday, guns weren’t allowed inside. 

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

13) Last winter, Texas Tech fired its football coach; just a few weeks ago, Arkansas fired its basketball coach. How did both of these guys wind up with better jobs? 

Kliff Kingsbury is now head coach of the Arizona Cardinals; Mike Anderson jumps from the Razorbacks of the SEC to St John’s in the Big East. 

Life can be strange. 

12) This week, the governors of Indiana, Iowa, Montana all had sports betting bills on their desks; New Jersey has a thriving sports betting business going. Meanwhile, here in the state I live in, the state of New York (some say I live in a state of confusion, but they mean something else) is dragging its feet on sports betting. God forbid some of us have fun here. 

11) Tuesday night, Damian Lillard hit a 30-footer to send Oklahoma City home for the summer; Paul George called it “…..a bad shot.” But was it? 

Research shows that this season, Lillard is 20-54 (37%) from that distance, which is an unusually high %age for such a long shot (30-40 feet). I’m guessing Billy Donovan was happy enough with his defense when Lillard launched the shot, but then it went in and it was game over for the Thunder. 

If you double-team Lillard and force him to pass, he’ll find the open man, but would you rather have that open (lesser shooter) person take the shot? 

10) Portland’s Enes Kanter after the Trailblazers beat Oklahoma City: “First I would like to definitely thank the Knicks for waiving me.” Wow.

9) There is NOTHING in sports as dramatic as overtime in Game 7 of an NHL playoff series, and it really isn’t very close. 

8) Eight teams left in NHL playoffs, but once again, no Canadian franchise will win the Stanley Cup. Last time a Canadian franchise won the Cup? Montreal in 1993.

7) From Howard Balzer: “Word is that small hands (9 inches) behind absence of QB Drew Lock from first round of the draft. Used smaller ball at Missouri. Hand size of Kyler Murray, 9 1/2; Dwayne Haskins 9 5/8; Daniel Jones 9 3/4.”

Jared Goff also has 9” hands, and he’s doing pretty well in the NFL. 

6) Tampa Bay Rays’ utility guy Joey Wendle hit .300 LY with 61 RBI; he was a valuable guy. He had already missed 17 games this year with a hamstring injury, then he got hit with a pitch and broke his wrist Wednesday. Tough start to this season for him. 

5) Blake Griffin played 28:00 in Game 4 of the Pistons’ playoff loss to Milwaukee Monday nite; less than 48 hours later, he had his knee scoped in Los Angeles.

4) Former Houston Texans’ QB David Carr was on NFL Network the other night, ranking the QB’s from this year’s draft AND last year’s draft. He ranked Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson 8th out of the nine QB’s ranked, which seems ridiculous to me. 

Jackson started seven NFL games last year and was 6-1 as a starter; he may not be a great passer, but he started seven games and won six for a team that was 4-5 with Joe Flacco starting; Jackson ran for 95+ yards in three games. His talent is unique to the league; there is no bleeping way a college kid is better than he is right now.

3) Blue Jays’ 1B Justin Smoak was in the lineup last night when Vladimir Guerrero Jr made his MLB debut. When Smoak made his MLB debut for Texas in 2010, the Rangers’ DH that night was Vladimir Guerrero Sr. 

2) Missouri, Oklahoma, Wichita State all offered QB Drew Lock basketball scholarships; he went to Missouri and played football, and last night Denver picked him in the second round. 

1) Happy birthday to the great Al Pacino, who turned 79 this week. My three favorite Pacino movies: 1) Any Given Sunday 2) Heat 3) Frankie and Johnnie

Friday’s List of 13: Notes from watching the NFL Draft

13) Washington Redskins stayed at pick #15 and got QB Dwayne Haskins without trading up; Haskins is from Maryland, but grew up in New Jersey and was a Giant fan. Most people didn’t think Haskins would drop to the 15th pick; the Giants-Redskins games for the next decade should be pretty interesting. 

This pretty much clinches fact that Case Keenum won’t be a Redskin in 2020; Washington will be his 4th team in four years this season, and 2020 figures to make it five teams in five years. 

12) Bruce Snyder bought the Redskins in 1999. Here is how many head coaches each NFC East team has had since then:
— Washington 7
— Dallas 4
— NJ Giants 4
— Philadelphia 3

When I think of a team with a coach on the hot seat taking a rookie QB, I think of Jeff Fisher getting canned during Jared Goff’s rookie year. Keenum was the Rams’ starting QB before Goff took over in Game 10. You wonder if this is good news for Jay Gruden. 

11) New Jersey Giants took Duke QB Daniel Jones with the 6th pick in the draft. Here is what the Giants have done with drafting QB’s the last three years:

2017: Davis Webb, California, 3rd round
2018: Kyle Lauletta, Richmond, 4th round
2019: Daniel Jones, Duke, 1st round

Meanwhile, they keep starting 38-year old Eli Manning, who had the same college coach as Jones (David Cutcliffe). Most draft pundits liked Haskins better than Jones.

Last six years, Giants are 38-59, 0-1 in playoff games. Hard to get better when you waste 3rd and 4th round draft picks on guys you never use.

10) Pittsburgh Steelers traded with Denver to move up ten spots, from #20 to #10 in the first round; this is something the Steelers rarely do. Pittsburgh took LB Devin Bush from Michigan. 

Steelers switched 1st round picks with Denver, and also gave the Broncos a 2nd-round and a 3rd-round pick, so it was expensive- they really wanted/needed a linebacker.

9) Last three years, the draft averaged six first-round trades per year; there were seven trades during Thursday’s first round. 

— Green Bay traded with Seattle to move up seven spots, from #28 to #21. 
— Eagles traded a 4th and 6th-round pick to Baltimore to move up from 25th to 22nd.
— Washington traded to the Colts to move up to the 26th pick.
— Chiefs acquired DE Frank Clark from Seattle, send the Seahawks the 29th pick, plus a couple of other picks. 
— Giants acquired the 30th pick in the draft from Seattle so they could take CB Deandre Baker from Georgia.
— Rams traded the 31st pick to Atlanta so the Falcons could take T Kaleb McGary from Washington.

8) Only six of 22 Seahawks starters remain from when Seattle lost the Super Bowl to New England four years ago. 

7) Only twice in the common draft era (1990, 2008) had the first round ended with no WR’s taken. This was almost the third time. Iowa had two tight ends taken in the first round. Baltimore finally took Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown with the 25th pick. 

This is the longest any NFL Draft has gone with neither a WR or a RB being taken. Oakland took RB Josh Jacobs from Alabama with the 24th pick. 

6) Seven of the top ten players taken were defensive players.

5) As of 1:00 Thursday afternoon, 18 of 32 teams had already traded their 7th-round pick in this draft. Three picks were traded twice; one was dealt three times. 7th-round picks are throw-ins in lot of trades. 

Then again, Marques Colston, Adam Timmerman, Shannon Sharpe and Gary Anderson (the kicker) were all 7th-round picks.

4) Bengals still have 37 of their own draft picks on their roster, most in NFL, six more than any other team; Buffalo has only 12 of its draft picks, least in the league. 

3) People gamble on the NFL Draft, which makes me a little queasy, but thats their business. Haskins was a -$155 favorite to get drafted before Missouri QB Drew Lock. 

Speaking of gambling, a guy on ESPN’s Daily Wager Thursday picked Starlin Castro to homer at 8-1 odds in the Marlins’ game in Philly, and sure enough, Castro homered in the 10th inning. Damn good call. 

2) Not sure why ESPN and NFL Network both broadcast the draft, but they do. Mel Kiper Jr is worth listening to, and Louis Riddick is very good on ESPN. My man Kurt Warner is on NFL Network, but I prefer Trey Wingo to Rich Eisen as a host, so spent most of my time on ESPN. 

The player interviews are generally all terrible, so if one is happening, automatically change to the other station or to a baseball game. 

1) Looked like it might’ve been a good night to be a pickpocket in the streets of Nashville; thousands and thousands of people packed in the streets, lot of jostling. I’m just sayin’……..

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

13) RIP to Ole Miss basketball star Johnny Neumann, who passed away this week after a long illness at age 68. Neumann led the nation in scoring as a sophomore at 40.1 ppg; he left school early to play in the ABA, but got his degree from Ole Miss in 2016, at age 65.

Neumann played for nine teams in seven seasons in the ABA/NBA, scoring 13.2 ppg. 

12) He also coached in the old CBA; I know this because we had a team here in Albany, and one night, Neumann got tossed out of a game here. A few minutes later, he showed up in the corner of the small arena, watching the game while sipping a beer. 

I went over and shook his hand and talked to him; we talked for 15-20 minutes about his playing career and basketball in general. Good guy. Hope he rests in peace. 

11) Interesting article on SI.com this week about how teams gather information for the NFL Draft; couple years ago, one GM sent a message to a second GM that he wasn’t interested in a certain player, but the second GM should take him. 

The second GM didn’t believe the first one’s message; he traded up ahead of him, then took the player in question. Paranoia runs rampant this week. 

10) Another interesting aspect of the days before he draft is how some teams utilize the media to gain knowledge. Late night text messages, asking a media person if anyone else had mentioned something about Player A being injured. Some of the national reporters are pretty well-informed and can be useful conduits for information. 

9) 20 years ago this week, Fernando Tatis Sr hit two grand slams in the same game at Dodger Stadium; odd thing is, he hit both of them off the same pitcher (Chan Ho Park). 

8) Coaching carousel:
— Northern Kentucky hired former coach South Carolina/Western Kentucky coach Darrin Horn as its new coach. 

7) Temple’s new basketball coach Aaron McKie has already signed up three transfers, one each from Indiana, Wisconsin, Kennesaw State. 

6) Milwaukee Brewers signed P Gio Gonzalez; only once in their last 13 games has the Brewers’ starting pitcher finished the 6th inning. 

So far this season, Milwaukee has scored 71% of its runs via the home run, which would be a major league record if they did that all year.

5) In case you were wondering, Merriam-Webster added 640 new words/terms to the dictionary in this year’s edition, including “peak”, “buzzy” and “garbage time”

4) Not sure if I knew this or not: If an NFL player suffers a season-ending injury in a voluntary workout, he is paid for that season. In reality, “voluntary workouts” aren’t voluntary, unless you are one of the team’s stars. 

3) If they ever make the movie Draft Day 2, they could take notes on Kyler Murray’s winter and run the plot around that. More and more, this kid seems like kind of an odd duck. 

Murray was scheduled to be at a charity event Wednesday, but he ended up being a no-show, because “he had other places to be.” You want to be the #1 pick in the draft and you blow off a charity event the day before the draft? Oy.

2) Prayers to Kelly Stafford, wife of Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who had an operation to remove a brain tumor last week and is now trying to recover at home. Very painful thing; we wish her the best in her recovery. 

1) The NFL Draft starts tonight; finally, no more mock drafts and fake news with teams lying about who they’re interested or not interested in. They stretch this out over three days now, but it is fun to watch.

Next year, it’ll be even more fun to watch; the 2020 NFL Draft is in Las Vegas, and I’ll be there to see it, which figures to be an interesting experience. 

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

13) Never really thought about this much, but Ross Tucker wrote an article in The Athletic this week about how a lot of active pro football players despise watching the NFL Draft, because he might be watching his employer select a player who will then take his job this summer.

Welcome to Case Keenum’s world; when he suits up for the Redskins this fall he’ll be on his fifth team in six years, at the most visible position in all of sports. No pressure there. But there are rumors that Washington will trade for Josh Rosen or draft a QB, which means that in 2020, it would likely be six teams in seven years.

12) Thru Monday, there were 1.34 home runs hit per game in major league games, ahead of 2017’s pace of 1.26 HR’s/game, which is the all-time record.

11) One member of Georgia’s football recruiting office has been fired and another suspended for 30 days without pay. No one is saying why, but it can’t be good. 

10) 49ers’ kicker Robbie Gould told the team that he will not negotiate or sign a long-term deal with them— he requested a trade. Gould is 36; he was the Bears’ kicker for 11 years.

9) Seattle Seahawks traded DE Frank Clark to the Chiefs for a 1st-round pick this year and a 2nd-round pick next year. Teams also exchanged 3rd round picks this year. 

8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers have no games in Tampa between Sept. 22 and Nov. 10; they’re not happy about it. 

7) Angels’ Peter Bourjos had played in 1,454 professional games in 14 seasons before Monday’s game. In the 13th inning, he made his first-ever appearance in the infield, playing 2B, and made a great diving stop going to his left to rob a batter of a hit.

Halos used P Felix Pena as a pinch-runner in that game; last time the Angels used a pitcher as a pinch-runner had been Steve Sparks vs Arizona on June 13, 1999.

6) Arizona poached G Max Hazzard as a grad transfer from Cal-Irvine; Hazzard’s brother was a walk-on at Arizona from 2012-16. Funny thing, Cal-Irvine was better than Arizona last year, when Hazzard scored 12.5 ppg for the Anteaters- he is the grandson of former UCLA coach Walt Hazzard. 

Idaho State has two kids transferring out of the program, which is never a good sign; one is a 6-11 center who scored 10 points a game, the other a sub who played 19 minutes/game. 

5) North Carolina had a big recruiting day, signing two hoop prospects; Cole Anthony (Greg Anthony’s son) and Anthony Harris, a couple of talented guards. 

4) Blue Jays SS prospect Bo Bichette broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in Monday night’s game; Bichette plays for the AAA Buffalo Bisons.

3) This will be the first time ever that the Texas Longhorns will go four years in a row without a first round pick in the NFL Draft. 

2) NBA said Tuesday that 233 players — 175 players from colleges/other schools and 58 international players — filed as early entry candidates for the 2019 NBA Draft. 

Seeing how only 60 players get taken in the draft, going to be some disappointed people. 

1) College football rules change starting this fall: If game reaches a 5th OT, teams will begin to run alternating 2-point plays rather than offensive possessions starting at 25-yard line. There were concerns about players being injured/getting exhausted with a couple games going six or seven OT’s in recent years. 

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

13) According to Wikipedia, the Wonderlic Personnel Test is a popular group intelligence test used to assess the aptitude of prospective employees for learning and problem-solving in a range of occupations. NFL teams give the test to prospects at the NFL Combine each year. It consists of 50 multiple choice questions to be answered in 12 minutes.

Can you process information quickly? That is what is being measured here. 

20 is considered an average score; there are wide-ranging opinions as to whether test results are an indicator of future on-field success. Tom Brady got a 33; very good. Dan Marino got a 16; not so good. Ryan Fitzpatrick got a 48; excellent, but he’s heading to his 8th team this fall. 

Of all the QB prospects in this year’s draft, Kyler Murray got the lowest score (20), which makes perfect sense only because Murray is a such a polarizing figure as a prospect. The Wonderlic test doesn’t measure how fast you run or how well you throw the ball. 

12) Was reading some stuff about these tests and football coaches, and I laughed when I read that some coaches are leery of prospects who score really high on tests, because they think kids who are really smart won’t respect a coach’s opinions/coaching as much as they should. 

11) Mets 5, Phillies 1— Bryce Harper got tossed in the fourth inning while he was in the dugout for carping about balls/strikes. It was Harper’s 12th career ejection, by 12 different umpires. 

It was the first time since June 2015 that a Phillies player was ejected. 

10) Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson got a 4-year, $140M contract extension last week; since then, he gave each of the Seahawks offensive lineman $12,000 in Amazon stock as a gift, to show his appreciation for them protecting him on Sunday afternoons. 

9) Pretty cool that the Portland Trailblazers are a really good team, and their two best players went to college at Weber State and Lehigh, not exactly basketball factories. 

8) From Elias Sports: Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon is first player to hit a walk-off home run and then hit a leadoff home run on the first pitch of the team’s next game since Jerome Walton did it for Cincinnati Reds on May 6-7, 1995. Blackmon did this Friday/Saturday. 

7) Baseball injuries:
— Cardinals put P Michael Wacha (knee) on IL
— Red Sox P Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) is out 4-6 weeks.
— Pirates P Nick Burdi (elbow/bicep) appeared to suffer a serious injury. 

6) Georgia CB Deandre Baker was supposed to be a first round draft pick in the NFL Draft Thursday, but in the months since the season ended, his stock has dropped, dating back to Baker’s decision to sit out Georgia’s season-ending Sugar Bowl loss to Texas. 

In other words, if you skip your team’s bowl game, you might annoy the coaches, who talk to the scouts, and they’re not going to be as positive in their assessment of you. 

This is something to track with other players going forward, as more kids skip bowl games to make sure they don’t get hurt. 

5) Milwaukee 127, Detroit 104— This was Bucks’ first 7-game series sweep since 1983. Next up for Milwaukee is an interesting series with the Celtics. Detroit sets a dubious NBA record with its 14th consecutive playoff loss. 

4) Joey Gallo hit his first career sac fly Sunday, in his 1,337th career plate appearance;  only Greg Maddux (1,405) and Steve Sax (1,388) went longer in their careers before hitting their first sac fly. 

3) I’ll sound like the older guy that I am saying this, but why do high school athletes go on TV to announce their college choice? Its like they’re attention junkies, craving the maximum amount of attention they can get. Just send out a message on Twitter or Instagram and be done with it. 

2) Phoenix Suns fired coach Igor Kokoskov less than a year after hiring him; whatever poor soul coaches the Suns next year will be Phoenix’s 7th head coach in eight years. 

1) Sounds like sports betting could become legal in Iowa as soon as June or July; always nice to know that Iowa, Mississippi and West Virginia are more advanced than New York in making sports betting legal. All New York is advanced in is raising taxes. 

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

13) Philadelphia Eagles’ center Travis Kelce played LY with a broken foot, something he called a “torn elbow” (he wore a big brace), and a Grade 2 MCL tear.

Toronto pitcher Aaron Sanchez left Sunday’s game in Oakland with a broken right fingernail on the middle finger of his pitching hand.

12) Jim Kaat and Bert Blyleven discussed pitching all weekend on Twins’ TV; Kaat said Sunday he thinks the strike zone is much tighter now than when he pitched. 

Blyleven mentioned that back when he pitched, umpires weren’t graded on each pitch by MLB and that has changed how the game is called. 

11) Twins hit 11 home runs in their doubleheader sweep of the Orioles Saturday. Hard to believe Baltimore was in the playoffs only three years ago; their team is awful.

Baltimore’s AAA farm team is 7-10, their AA team is 3-13 and got shut out in both ends of a twin bill Saturday, so not sure where the Orioles’ help is going to come from.

10) Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay recently spent $718,750 for the piano John Lennon used to write songs for Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

9) They run a commercial on Colorado Rockies games for University of Colorado health services; it shows an older fellow who struggles to get out of his easy chair, then starts to work out- they show pics in his house of him running when he was much younger. 

They show the man’s name; he survived heart failure, and as he recovers, his treadmill workouts get more rigorous, and the commercial ends with him finishing a 2-mile run in a local race. 

The commercial is so well-done and very inspirational; the guy should get a sneaker contract from Nike or adidas, and they should run that commercial during the Super Bowl. 

8) Christian Yelich is first player with 12+ homers in his team’s first 22 games since Alex Rodriguez in 2007. 

7) Baseball injuries:
— Rays’ OF Austin Meadows (thumb) had an MRI.
— Blue Jays put P Matt Shoemaker (knee) on IL; he tore his ACL and is out for the season. 

6) Merrill Kelly threw 109 pitches for Arizona Friday, but he didn’t finish the 4th inning. He got 18 called strikes, had 21 pitches fouled off, gave up six hits on 12 balls in play. 

Funny thing, two of the three runs he gave up came on a harmless looking pop-up to short CF that the wind played games with and no one caught it. 

5) Detroit Pistons have lost 13 consecutive playoff games, tied for longest-ever streak in NBA. 

4) Seattle Mariners have already had five games with 4+ homers this year; all of last season, they had five games with 4+ home runs.

3) Former major league OF Matt Holliday is retired now and lives in Stillwater, OK; he recently had a house built in Stillwater. The guy who built the house is Philly catcher JT Realmuto’s uncle. Small world. 

2) Good grief, the Utah Jazz uniforms are terrible. Like the old purple uniforms with the musical note on them that Pete Maravich wore for the Jazz back in the day.

1) A comedian was elected president of Ukraine; I was going to make a joke about this, but then remembered who the president is here. Having a comedian as president wouldn’t be so bad. 

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

13) Twins-Orioles broadcast Saturday was great; Jim Kaat, Bert Blyleven were the analysts and it was educational. Play-by-play guy described the action on the field then got out of the way and let the two experts talk. Good stuff. 

Kaat was saying how much harder batters work now before the game, and he referenced Aaron Judge going on the IL Saturday with an oblique strain. It is possible to overtrain. 

12) Auburn’s Chuma Okeke tore his ACL during the NCAA tournament, but he is entering the NBA Draft anyway, not really sure why. You’d think he’d stay in school, use the school’s facilities to strenghten/rehab his knee, then go into the ’20 draft. We’ll see how this works out for him. 

11) Advice from Bucky Brooks, former NFL player and scout:

“If you’re a HS football player who isn’t playing baseball in the Spring, you SHOULD run track for your school. Speed is such an important part of being a top-notch football player. Learning how to run and compete on the track carries over onto the field.. Dare to be great..”

10) Interesting trivia on this year’s NFL schedule:
— NFL’s Senior VP of broadcasting Howard Katz is one of the people who makes the NFL schedule every year.
— Philadelphia Eagles are only NFL team that plays three straight weeks on road this year.
— Katz and Eagles’ coach Doug Pedersen are next-door neighbors.

Part of the reason the Eagles are on road for three straight weeks in October is that the Phillies are expected to be World Series contenders, and the NFL didn’t want any conflicts between Eagle/Phillies games, seeing how they share parking areas. 

9) Miami Marlins fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo after 20 games; it ain’t his fault Miami has a bad team. Marlins fired hitting coach Frank Menechino after last season; what they need to do is find an owner who is willing to spend money on ballplayers. 

Two years ago, Miami’s outfield was Yelich-Ozuna-Stanton, then the team was sold and the new geniuses who are in charge traded the three of them for three piles of crap. No bueno. 

8) Keldon Johnson scored 13.5 ppg this year as a freshman at Kentucky; he is projected by one draft guru to be picked 17th in June’s NBA Draft. 

Johnson was seen in Hollywood this week driving a $300,000 McLaren 720S Spider; until watching a Showtime special a few weeks ago, I had no idea that there were cars that cost so much money. Wish the young man well in his NBA career, but someone might want to teach him money management skills before it is too late.

Last year’s NBA rookie salary scale paid the #17 pick a total of $6,358,500 for his first three years in the league. Taxes eat half of that, agent takes another 3%, so he’s down to $2,988,495 before he starts.  

Donte DiVincenzo was the #17 pick LY; he played 15.2 mpg, scored 4.9 ppg, so he’s no lock for a second contract in the league when the time comes. The second contract is the key; thats where guys establish themselves in the NBA. Then they can buy the $300,000 car. 

7) Baseball injuries:
— New York put Aaron Judge (oblique) on IL.
— Red Sox put P Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) on IL.
— Pirates put 2B Erik Gonzalez (clavicle), CF Starling Marte (abdomen) on IL.
— Phillies put SS Jean Segura (hamstring), P Victor Arano (elbow) on IL. 

6) Former Georgia/Miami football coach Mark Richt will be an analyst on the new ACC Network starting this fall. 

5) There is a high school football stadium in Jacksonville, TX called the Tomato Bowl. 

4) On April 12, CG Technology took these two futures bets:
— Jaguars for $4,000 at 45-1, to win $180,000
— Titans for $2,000 at 85-1, to win $170,000

Long time to let the books hold your money; will odds change that much between now and before the preseason games start this summer? 

3) Giants have apparently talked about trading for Arizona QB Josh Rosen, but don’t want to give up either one of their first round picks (6th, 17th picks) in this draft. 

Rosen was the 2nd player taken in last year’s draft, so if you won’t give up a first round pick for him now, then you really don’t want him.

2) From Henry Schulman: Since 1912, the longest a team has gone to start a season without scoring a first-inning run is 28 games. Giants are at 22 games and counting thru Saturday. 

1) 76ers 112 (-3.5), Nets 108— Philly hit two foul shots with 0:06 left to cover the spread; if you had Brooklyn +3.5, this was a bad beat. Embiid had 31 points, 16 rebounds for Philly. 

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

13) Oakland Raiders sent their scouts home for the weekend; they’re not expected to be back before the draft next weekend. Supposedly, Raiders’ hierarchy (Gruden) doesn’t trust all his people, but doesn’t know exactly who he doesn’t trust. 🙂 

Apparently this isn’t all that unusual; Gil Brandt told a story this week from 1987, where they told one scout about this LB they want to draft (they didn’t really want to). Two days later, a writer in Dallas posts this article about how the Cowboys are going to take the LB, which outed the scout as a leaker. He then became an ex-scout.  

12) Other former front office guys have been saying on Twitter this week that the last 8-10 years, teams have been limiting access to a team’s draft board to only the top 3-4 football people. 

11) Blue Jays are calling up top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr; he is expected to make his big league debut on Tuesday against the Giants. 

10) College basketball is getting to the point where any returning player who scored double figures for a low-to-mid major is getting poached by bigger schools. Norfolk State’s leading scorer entered the transfer portal the week; it makes handicapping during the season that much harder. Will the new player fit in? How much does his departure hurt his former team? 

Can’t be much fun for guys who coach in low/mid-majors.

9) Was reading something this week about how they’re using major league baseballs at the AAA level for the first time this year, and home runs have spiked early in the season. Homers in the International League are up 39%; in the Pacific Coast League, 32%. 

Same thing hasn’t happened in AA or A ball, so it makes you wonder……

8) San Antonio Spurs’ Derrick White played three years of D-II ball at Colorado–Colorado Springs, transferred and played his senior year for the Colorado Buffaloes; he had zero D-I scholarship offers out of high school. None. 

This year, he played 25.8 mpg for the Spurs, scored 9.9 ppg. He scored 36 points in the Spurs’ Game 3 win over Denver Thursday. Good for him. 

7) Baseball transactions:
— Red Sox put IF Eduardo Núñez (back) on IL.
— Padres put OF Manuel Margot on the paternity list, called up Jose Pirela. 
— Mets put Jacob deGrom (elbow) on the IL.  

6) NCAA relaxed some transfer rules for freshmen: Incoming freshmen who enroll in summer school and receive financial aid can transfer and play immediately without a waiver if their coach leaves prior to the first day of fall classes.

This involves situations where a coach gets fired late in the spring or in summer, like couple years ago when Ohio State fired Thad Matta. It does not include football players who are early enrollees. 

5) Not sure what the wisdom of the four outfielder shift is; seems like having four infielders would be a better idea. Lot of the guys you use the four OF shift with, if they hit it in the air to the outfield, it is going over the fence anyway.

4) Former UNLV coach Marvin Menzies signed on to be an assistant coach for Dan Majerle at Grand Canyon University in the WAC. 

3) Mets’ ace Jacob deGrom will have an MRI on his elbow Monday, which is bad news for the Mets and worse news for my fantasy team. 

I mentioned a few days ago how deGrom had trouble putting hitters away in his last two starts, and this is probably a big reason why. 

2) Draft trivia correction: Kyler Murray’s father Kevin was taken in the 11th round in the 1982 baseball draft, the 288th player taken, one spot after Bill Ripken (Cal’s brother). 

1) Nick Saban will have hip replacement surgery on Monday; can’t imagine he’d be much fun to have as a patient in the hospital. Good luck to all the nurses……..

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

13) St John’s struggled with hiring a basketball coach; apparently there was an internal divide about who the school should go after. St John’s is located in Jamaica, Queens, which is part of New York City. You’d think it would be a prime job. 

The basketball coach at Loyola-Chicago interviewed for the St John’s job, was offered an 8-year contract that doubled his salary, and turned it down. Not many people turn down $2M a year. 

Loyola is in the Missouri Valley Conference, the 15th-rated league in America. Ramblers have been in the MVC for six years, going 27-9 the last two years, after going 27-45 in their first four years, when Wichita State was in the Valley and it was a tougher league (#10 league in 2017). 

12) Porter Moser is the Loyola coach who turned St John’s down; he’s been a head coach for 15 years at three schools. Here is his breakdown:

2001-03, Ark-Little Rock: 48-34 overall, 25-19 in Sun Belt games. No trips to NCAA’s.
2004-07, Illinois State: 51-67 overall, 22-50 in MVC games, when both Creighton/Wichita were in the league. No trips to NCAA’s.
2012-present, Loyola: 141-125 overall, 6-28 in Horizon games, then 54-54 in MVC. One trip to NCAA’s. 

11) 15 years as a head coach, one time in the NCAA tournament, but it was one great time, An 11-seed in 2018, Loyola made it to the Final Four, with three of their four wins in NCAA’s that year by either one or two points. 

Big East was the #5 league this season, after being #2 or #3 the previous four years. 

10) Then there is Iona coach Tim Cluess, who is 199-108 in nine years as coach at Iona, which is in New Rochelle. According to Mapquest, Iona/St John’s are 19.1 miles apart. Under Cluess, Iona is 124-46 in MAAC games; they’ve made the NCAA tournament the last four years and six of last eight years. 

Cluess also coached D-II ball at CW Post (now LIU Post) for four years, going 98-23. 

Cluess played at St John’s from 1979-81; three of his brothers also played at St John’s; he knows the NYC/New Jersey area. Not sure why St John’s didn’t hire him, but Cluess took his name out of the running Thursday. 

Update: St John’s hired former UAB/Missouri/Arkansas coach Mike Anderson. His teams will play hard and play fast. He’s never had a losing season (two 16-16 seasons) and won 20+ games in 11 of 17 seasons as a head coach. 

Elsewhere in the world……..
9) Chargers are going to wear their powder blue jerseys as their home uniform for the 2019 season, which is a smart decision. I’m wondering how many fans come up from San Diego to Carson for Charger home games now; they move into the Inglewood dome in 2020.

8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers might not be too happy with their 2019 schedule; they go seven weeks without playing a home game, and during those 49 days, they’ll travel a total of 20,378 miles to play in Los Angeles, New Orleans, London, Nashville and Seattle. 

They play the Giants at home in Week 3, and then not again until Week 10.

7) USC has already added three grad transfers for next season, all kids who can shoot the 3; they shot 37-40-45% from the arc last year, at Akron-Columbia-San Jose State. Trojans have couple of highly-touted freshman big men coming in- they should be a lot better next season. 

6) First seven games at the new ballpark in Las Vegas was 9,744, which amounts to seven sellouts. AAA Aviators are the Oakland A’s farm club. 

Old ballpark was downtown, next to the Cashman Center; terrific park to watch a game. New park is in Summerlin, right near the Red Rock Hotel, roughly 14 miles from downtown. 

5) LSU told athletic director Joe Alleva take a hike; not sure what this means for basketball coach Will Wade, who was suspended by Alleva but was reinstated last week. 

4) Baseball injuries:
— A’s put P Marco Estrada (back) on the IL.
— Phillies put OF Odubel Herrera (hamstring) in the IL. 

3) In 2015, there were 104 complete games pitched in the major leagues, only 42 last year. 

2) Joey Votto popped out to the first baseman Wednesday night, for the first time in his 6,828 major league plate appearances. He still has never popped out to the catcher or the pitcher. 

1) New Jersey Jets do not leave the eastern time zone at all during the 2019 season; they even have three home games in preseason, seeing how the Jets-Giants game is a Giants “home” game.

By way of contrast, LA Rams play four games in eastern time zone, a preseason game in Hawai’i and a regular season game in London. Lot of travel for them. 

Week 1 NFL spreads

Packers @ Bears (-3.5, 46)
Falcons @ Vikings (-4.5, 47.5)
Redskins @ Eagles (-8, 46.5)
Bills @ Jets (-3.5, 38.5)
Ravens (-3.5, 37) @ Dolphins
49ers @ Buccaneers (-2.5, 49)
Chiefs (-5.5, 52.5) @ Jaguars
Titans @ Browns (-5, 45)
Rams (-2.5, 51) @ Panthers
Lions @ Cardinals (even, 49)
Bengals @ Seahawks (-7.5, 43.5)
Colts @ Chargers (-3.5, 48)
Giants @ Cowboys (-7.5, 46.5)
Steelers @ Patriots (-6, 51.5)
Texans @ Saints (-7.5, 53.5)
Broncos @ Raiders (-2.5, 43)

Thursday’s List of 13: Quick comments on the 2019 NFL schedule

13) 100th season of the NFL starts with league’s oldest rivals (Packers/Bears) opening the season with a Thursday night game in Chicago September 5. 

12) Monday night doubleheader in Week 1: Texans @ Saints, Broncos @ Raiders. 

11) Cleveland Browns have four primetime games:
— Week 2, at Jets (Monday night)
— Week 3, Rams (Sunday night)
— Week 5, at 49ers (Monday night)
— Week 11, Steelers (Thursday night)

10) Reunion games:
— Bears @ Raiders, Week 5 (Khalil Mack against his old team)
— Redskins @ Vikings, Week 8 (Kirk Cousins against his old team)

9) Teams that open with two straight home games:
Panthers-Dolphins-Jets-Raiders

Teams that open with two straight road games:
Bills-Colts-Chiefs-49ers

8) Teams that finish with two straight home games:
Broncos-Vikings-Patriots-Seahawks-Buccaneers.

Teams that finish with two straight road games:
Cardinals-Packers-Saints-Raiders-Steelers. 

7) Thanksgiving Day games:
Bears-Lions, Bills-Cowboys, Saints-Falcons

6) Pittsburgh plays five of its last seven games on road; they play Cleveland twice in three weeks, in Weeks 11, 13. 

5) Teams with three straight weeks on road:
— Eagles, Week 6-8. This appears to be the only one in the whole league. Am guessing Philly brass won’t be happy with this. 

4) Miami plays one road game in the first six weeks; they have four home games and a bye, with only road game in in Week 3 at Dallas. 

3) Divisional games in Week 1:
Packers-Bears, Bills-Jets, Giants-Cowboys, Broncos-Raiders, Redskins-Eagles

2) Earliest byes: Jets, 49ers in Week 4.
Latest byes: Cardinals, Chiefs, Chargers, Vikings in Week 12.

1) No Thursday night game in Week 16-17.