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. 

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’……..

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. 

Saturday’s List of 13: My favorite non-sports movies……

These are 13 of my favorite non-sports movies. Make your own list. 

Remember, these are my favorite movies, not the movies that are necessarily the best. Of the 50 movies USA Today listed as the best ever, I’ve seen two of them. Seriously. 

13) Runaway Jury— I’m a big fan of the John Grisham books; this was my favorite of the ones that were turned into movies. Gene Hackman plays a jury consultant whose client is a gun manufacturer; John Cusack is on the jury to manipulate the verdict.  

T12) Moon Over Parador— Richard Dreyfuss is an actor who is hired to stand in for the dictator of a Latin American country who suddenly dies. Jonathan Winters is a weird CIA agent whose wife is Polly Holliday, who played Flo in the old TV series Alice. 

T12) Dave— Made five years after Moon Over Parador, this is basically the same movie, just set in Washington, DC. 

Guy who looks just the President runs a temp service in Washington; when the real president has a stroke while screwing around with his mistress, the guy (Kevin Kline) is hired as the stand-in president. Sigourney Weaver is the First Lady. 

11) The Verdict— Paul Newman is a struggling lawyer who is handed a winning case, but winning it is easier said than done. His friend is played by Jack Warden, one of my all-time favorites.

10) The Gambler— Remake of a James Caan movie from the mid-70’s. College professor (Mark Wahlberg) seems to have an excellent life, but he has a huge gambling problem which drags him down. John Goodman plays one of the people he owes money to; he is very good in this.

9) The Bodyguard— Whitney Houston is a famous singer with a contract on her head; Kevin Costner is the ex-Secret Service hired to protect her.

8) A Few Good Men— The last scene, with Jack Nicholson on the witness stand, is tremendous. Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Pollak, JT Walsh as supporting actors is pretty strong. 

7) Leap of Faith— Steve Martin plays a traveling preacher whose bus breaks down, stranding his crew in a drought-stricken Kansas town. Miracles ensue. Liam Neeson, Debra Winger, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meat Loaf all have supporting roles. 

6) Molly’s Game— Young woman runs high stakes poker games for celebrities/rich guys, but when members of the Russian mob enter the game, things get complicated. This is a true story, and as we’re learning nowadays, real life is often stranger than fiction. 

5) Lost In Translation— Bill Murray plays a washed-up actor who is in Tokyo getting paid $2M to do a whiskey commercial. He meets Scarlett Johansson in the hotel bar and they become friends. 

4) Begin Again— Down-and-out music executive stumbles into a Manhattan bar and discovers a young singer who can resurrect his career. 

3) Good Will Hunting— Janitor at MIT can do complicated math problems better than the professors can, but he also has a criminal record, and has to get counseling for that. Robin Williams is great as the counselor. 

2) Last Vegas— Four old friends get together in Las Vegas for the bachelor party of the one bachelor in group (Michael Douglas) who is marrying a woman 40 years younger than him. It is Douglas, Robert Deniro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline. 

1) Rounders— Law student decides he’d rather play high stakes poker. The scenes with Matt Damon and his law professor (Martin Landau) are excellent. Same guys who wrote this write the great Showtime series Billions now.