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

13) Few weeks ago, I posted something on here about a couple of brothers who are financial analysts in this area, and very successful ones. I went to college with one of them; good guys. 

If you’re inclined towards prayer, please say one for the Fagan family; Chris was diagnosed with ALS and is fighting that hideous disease now. 

His daughter Kate wrote a beautiful article about him recently.

12) The next 7-8 days figure to have lot of baseball trades, which will be followed by lot of trade analysis, but until the trades happen, we’re stuck with lot of trade speculation, which is analysis of stuff that hasn’t or may not happen. In other words, a waste of time. 

“We won’t all run out of money, but we’ll all run out of time.” 

One of the biggest things about the Interweb is that there is so much stuff out there- time management is important, so you can learn as much as possible, without cluttering your brain. Nothing clutters my brain like speculation about that stuff that may/may not happen. 

11) When Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, the person who took his place as a US Senator from New York was Charles Goodell (Roger Goodell’s father). 

Someone posted an article on Twitter over the weekend about how after the first man walked on the moon in 1969, Charles Goodell criticized the space program for not being worth the money that was spent on it. Controversial opinion for sure, but have to give the guy credit for having the onions to say what he thought. Politicians don’t do that anymore; they cover their own butt. 

10) LSU spent $28M to re-do its football locker room; each player has a chair that folds out into a bed, complete with an iPad holder to watch film, charging ports and storage below the seat/bed. Pretty nice locker room.

9) How do new NFL head coaches do in Week 1 of their first year? 

Last year, the seven new head coaches went 0-7, after new coaches had gone 17-10 from 2014-17 in their season openers. 

There are eight new head coaches this season; we’ll see how they do. 

8) San Antonio Spurs hired their former star player Tim Duncan as an assistant coach, which will be interesting. Duncan has never coached before. 

7) Mark Sanchez retired from the NFL and will join ESPN’s college football studio show; he’ll replace Mack Brown, who went back into coaching this season at North Carolina.

Sanchez’ career:
— 37-36 regular season record, 4-2 in playoffs.
— All six of his playoff games were on the road.
— Over $74M earned in salary. 

6) By way of comparison, other QB’s playoff records:
— Derek Carr 0-0 (got hurt the year Oakland was really good)
— Kirk Cousins 0-1
— Andy Dalton 0-4
— Tony Romo 2-4
— Matt Ryan 4-6
— Matthew Stafford: 0-3

5) ESPN compared the history of USC and Alabama’s programs Tuesday, as far as alumni go; the best QB in USC history is Carson Palmer? 

I know in their heyday the Trojans ran the ball down people’s throats, but Alabama has Stabler, Starr, Namath, all of whom were better than Palmer. 

Other USC QB’s who played in the NFL; Sanchez, Pat Haden, Rodney Peete, Matt Cassel, Vince Evans, Todd Marinovich, Bill Nelsen. 

4) Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson has made about $100M in salary, and millions more in endorsements during his NFL career, but he’s deep in debt after his lawyer says he trusted people who ripped him off. 

College athletes should be required to take money management courses while they’re in school; hell, maybe all of us should’ve done that, but for a guy who has made $100M+ to be deeply in debt is both sad and ridiculous. 

3) Baseball stuff:
— Rays put 3B Yandy Diaz (bruised foot) on the IL.
— Mariners put 2B Dee Gordon (quad) on the IL. 

2) Cincinnati Reds have hit 30 first-inning home runs, most in the majors. 

1) NCAA put DePaul’s basketball program on three years’ probation Tuesday and suspended Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao for three games. 

Over the last 12 years, DePaul is 38-180 in Big East games; 38 and freakin’ 180!!!! If they’re cheating while going 38-180, what are the teams that are winning doing?

Tuesday’s Den: Random Lists of 3……

13) Three things young people have no idea about………
— Phone booths
— Encyclopedias
— Having to get up to change the channel

12) Three things I’d like to do someday:
— A’s game in the Oakland Coliseum
— LSU home football game (at night)
— New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas (too expensive 🙂 )

11) Three changes I’d make to baseball:
— Managers/coaches wouldn’t wear uniforms
— Geographic realignment
— Split-season format, to invigorate late June/July. 

10) Three changes I’d make to ESPN:
— No daily NBA shows from end of summer league to start of training camp.
— If you must have a daily NBA show, then you have a daily baseball show, too.
— Less hideous talk shows on weekdays; show poker re-runs instead, or NFL Films, or anything that doesn’t include Mike Greenberg or Stephen A Smith. 

9) Three non-sports people it would be fun to have dinner with:
— Steve Martin
— David Letterman
— Bill Murray

8) Three changes I’d make to football:
— Take radios out of players’ helmets
— Get rid of Thursday NFL games, except Week 1 and Thanksgiving.
— 18-game season, with all players getting paid 12.5% more; two preseason games, with Super Bowl the Sunday night of Presidents’ Day weekend. 

7) Three sports people it would be fun to have dinner with:
— Billy Beane
— Dick Vermeil
— Charles Barkley

6) Three most fun events I’ve been to:
— 2000 NFC title game in St Louis (Rams-Bucs)
— 2008 World Series (Phillies-Rays)
— Alabama-Tennessee game in Knoxville, in 2003

5) Three other fun things I’ve been to:
— Tailgating before Tennessee-South Carolina game in 2008
— Watching AAU nationals for 12 hours a day at Disney World in Florida.
— Knicks-Spurs preseason game (Jerry Tarkanian was coaching the Spurs)

4) Three changes I’d make to the NBA:
— Head coaches would all be active players.
— Playoff series would be best-of-3; finals best-of-5.
— Draft lottery would be an hour before the actual draft. 

3) Three things that would be an improvement:
— Baseball expands to 32 teams, making scheduling easier.
— College football playoff expanding to eight teams.
— Reducing NFL preseason games from four per team to two. 

2) Three random observations:
— Pro golf in person is amazingly quiet.
— If you like the NBA, I strongly recommend you heading to Las Vegas some July to watch summer league games. Very affordable, lot of fun and it is Las Vegas!!!
— Watching the World Series of Poker in person was really boring; you need to see the hole card camera for it to be interesting.

1) Back when they had a CBA franchise in Albany, one night I got to shoot free throws for beer at the end of the 3rd quarter. For every free throw I made in 24 seconds, I got a free case of beer:
— The CBA back then was what the G-League is now; very good basketball. Bill Musselman, George Karl and Phil Jackson all coached the Patroons.
— Good news: I made 4 out of 7 shots in 24 seconds.
— Bad news: I very rarely drink beer, and they wouldn’t exchange it for soda. 

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

13) Kansas City Royals won the World Series four years ago; they struck out 973 times the entire regular season. 

Today is July 22, and Seattle/Texas have already struck out more than that this season. 

12) Houston’s Yuli Gurriel has 13 homers and 28 RBIs in his last 22 games; he’s homered in five of his last six home games.

11) Boston’s Rick Porcello won his last three starts, despite allowing 16 runs in 17.2 IP; Red Sox scored 50 runs in his last four starts. 

10) Chances are you had a better Sunday than golfer JB Holmes, who started out 66-68-69 at the British Open, but then imploded with an 87 Thursday, shooting a 46 on the back nine. 

9) Run differential is a misleading stat; Arizona is +63, the Giants are -42, but both teams are 50-50, and thats the only stat the really counts. 

8) Kawhi Leonard was at the Pacquiao-Thurman fight in Las Vegas Saturday night and was wearing one of his championship rings from the Spurs. Now you know why some of these guys go around with bodyguards; thats a pretty expensive ring. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— Giants DFA’d P Derek Holland.
— Orioles DFA’d Keon Broxton.
— Rays put OF Kevin Keirmaier (thumb) on the IL.
— Rockies DFA’d 1B Mark Reynolds

6) Giants 3, Mets 2 (12)— On June 29, San Francisco was 35-47; the only thing that mattered was where they were trading Madison Bumgarner. Now the Giants are 50-50, 2.5 games out of a playoff spot and maybe Bumgarner ain’t going anywhere. 

5) Colorado 8, New York 4— Bronx Bombers are 10-6 this month; 0-4 when Paxton starts, 10-2 with everyone else. Rockies lost 13 of their last 16 games. 

4) Orioles 5, Red Sox 0— Boston gets one hit in 7.1 innings against Asher Wojciechowski, and you have to think the Red Sox are going to make a big splash on the trade market. Red Sox are three games out of a playoff spot- they play New York next weekend. 

3) Phil Mickelson and Eldrick Woods have played in 83 majors together; this week was first time they both missed the cut in the same major.

2) If you don’t think time flies, NFL training camps open this week. Can’t even imagine what football was like in the old days, when teams did two-a-day practices in pads in this heat, for most of the summer. 

1) Nothing against Harold Baines, but he is a Hall of Famer and Dave Parker isn’t? 

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

13) The more I think about it, with today’s society having such a short attention span, major league baseball should go to a split-season format— you’d have to move the trading deadline, either up to the end of the All-Star break, or back to August 31. 

Just think it would create more interest in a period of the summer where the NBA gets far too much attention, between the NBA Draft and then summer league. You could have a second Opening Day, and teams that floundered in the first half would get a second chance. 

12) Jacob deGrom has a 2.18 ERA in his last 52 starts, but only 15 wins in those starts. 

The last seven times he threw 7+ innings without allowing a run, he won only twice.

11) Miami Marlins scored 2 or fewer runs in 11 of Trevor Richards’ 19 starts. 

Marlins scored 6+ runs in five of Jordan Yamamoto’s six starts.

10) Nick Pivetta has started 13 games for Philly; they didn’t score in first five innings in six of those 13 games, including the last four in a row.

9) This is a weird stat; Pittsburgh’s Jordan Lyles has started 17 major league games in July; his team is 0-17 in those games, with last nine going over the total.

8) A’s 5, Twins 4— Khris Davis hit a huge two-out single in the top 9th inning, then Liam Hendriks escaped a bases loaded jam in the bottom as Oakland gets an excellent road win. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— Angels DFA’d P Matt Harvey, who may be running out of chances.
— Astros DFA’d 1B Tyler White, who wlll get signed by another team.
— Twins traded P Mike Morin to the Phillies for cash.
— Tigers put P Spencer Turnbull (back) on the IL. 

6) Oklahoma/Central Florida will play a home/home basketball series starting next winter; it would be more interesting if they started a home/home football series. 

5) A new FanDuel sports book opened this week at Tioga Downs casino resort, which is between Elmira and Binghamton in the southern tier of New York. 

4) Dodgers 10, Marlins 6— Dodgers have blown five saves in their last seven games; they had five blown saves in their previous 35 games. LA did win, though; they lead NL West by 15 games. 

3) It is so hot this weekend that police in Braintree, MA are asking would-be criminals to hold off on committing crimes until Monday. Really, they are. 

Committing a crime in this sort of weather is “next level henchmen status,” the Braintree PD said, not to mention dangerous to the offender’s health. 

Alrighty then. 

2) Would’ve been cool if one of the Apollo 11 astronauts had taken a picture of Alice Kramden to the moon.

1) 50 years ago yesterday was the moon landing, and it was also Vida Blue’s big league debut as a 19-year old pitcher. Blue gave up five runs (three earned) in 5.1 IP in a 7-3 loss to the Angels. He threw a no-hitter in 1970 and became one of baseball’s biggest stars in 1971, as a 21-year old. 

Saturday’s List of 13: College football knowledge…..

13) College football teams with all five starters back on the offensive line:

Auburn, Ball State, Boise St, Hawai’i, Iowa St.
Michigan St, Oregon, Southern Miss, Texas St
UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, Western Kentucky

12) Over last five years, Utah is 11-2 vs spread as a road underdog; Whittingham is 11-2 SU in bowl games. 

11) Last two years, USC is 2-9 vs spread a a home favorite; since 2012, they’re 1-9 vs spread in neutral field games. 

10) Cincinnati allowed 35.8 ppg in their last five bowl games (2-3 SU); once 2014, Bearcats are 8-15 vs spread in non-conference games. 

9) Central Florida is 25-1 SU the last two years, with a +31 turnover margin; they’re 12-6-1 vs spread in last 19 games as a home favorite. 

8) Last four years, South Florida has a +28 turnover ratio; under Charlie Strong, Bulls are 5-12 vs spread as a home favorite. 

7) Since 2015, Temple is 25-8-1 vs spread in conference games; they’re 13-3 vs spread in last 16 games coming off a loss. 

6) Marshall is 12-2 all-time in bowl games, 5-0 since 2013; since 2016, Thundering Herd is 4-9 vs spread as a home favorite. 

5) Under Butch Davis, FIU is 2-6 vs spread as a home favorite, 6-0 as a home underdog. 

4) Last three years, Middle Tennessee State is 11-4 vs spread coming off a loss. 

3) Western Kentucky has its fifth head coach in eight years; last two years, Hilltoppers are 0-5 vs spread as a road favorite. 

2) From 2012-16, Southern Mississippi had a minus-63 turnover margin in 62 games; last two years, Golden Eagles were minus-2, and went 8-5/6-5. 

1) Since bringing their program back two years ago, UAB is 10-1-1 vs spread at home. 

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

13) Extreme heat is forecast for the Albany/Saratoga area Saturday; NYRA has cancelled racing for Saturday at Saratoga, which is a wise but expensive decision to make. 

Saturdays at Saratoga draw big crowds; I’m guessing the bars and restaurants in the area are less than happy with the decision.

12) Can you be considered one of the all-time great quarterbacks if you never won a Super Bowl? Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, Dan Fouts never played in one, but their greatness was obvious. Its an interesting debate when you weigh who the all-time greats were. 

11) I still think John Elway is the best QB ever; who do you think is the best ever? 

10) Mookie Betts is the first Boston Red Sox player since Ted Williams in 1946 to score a run in 13 consecutive games.

9) Cincinnati Reds have homered 28 times in first inning this year, the most in MLB. 

8) It still boggles my mind that the Cleveland Browns are favored to win the AFC North when they’ve been favored in only four of their 48 games the last three years. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— Marlins put SS JT Riddle (forearm) on IL.
— Reds put C Curt Casali (knee), P David Rodriguez (shoulder) on the IL.
— Braves activated OF Ender Inciarte from the IL.
— Angels put C Jonathan Lucroy (broken nose) on IL. 

6) Oddsmaking legend Jimmy Vaccaro is returning to Las Vegas to work at the SouthPoint Casino; he had been working at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. 

5) Our prayers go out to UNLV offensive coordinator Barney Cotton, who needs a heart transplant and is stepping aside from his job with the Rebels.

4) Nationals 13, Braves 4— Stephen Strasburg had three hits, five RBI and allowed three runs in 5.1 IP as Washington closed within 5.5 games of Atlanta in the NL East. 

3) Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have been teammates for five years; they’ve started consecutive games 58 times. 

Only nine of those 58 times did both deGrom/Syndergaard get wins. 

2) In a fitting bit of symmetry, five guys were arrested Thursday for fighting at a Five Guys restaurant in Stuart, FL. Two adults, three juveniles were taken into custody; no report if they got their burgers to go or not.

1) My all-time basketball starting five: Kareem, Jordan, Bill Russell, Lebron and Magic.

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud……..

13) Spent Wednesday afternoon in Rivers Casino’s new sportsbook in Schenectady and had an excellent time; it was (kind of) like being in Las Vegas. 

Not sure what they’re going to do when football starts, because it’ll be very crowded, but they’ve got betting kiosks which should help you make wagers quicker than if you wait on line. 

12) Dodgers 7, Phillies 2— Long rain delay in the third inning of this game; teams play again at 1:00 this afternoon, not much turnaround time, less than 12 hours. 

11) San Diego Padres have been no-hit ten times, but have never thrown one. There have been 134 no-hitters since 1969, when the Padres joined the big leagues. 

Former Miami farmhand Chris Paddack took a no-hitter into the 8th inning for the Padres Wednesday night; he had to settle for a 3-2 win.

10) A’s 10, Mariners 2— Oakland hit six homers as they won Homer Bailey’s debut in green and gold. Ramon Laureano homered and made another great catch in centerfield. 

9) Giants 11, Rockies 8— Colorado’s season is spinning out of control; anytime their hitters don’t put up a 10-spot (and sometimes even when they do), their pitching can’t hold up. Rockies are 2-11 in their last 13 games, outscored 108-57.

8) AAA Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado’s farm team) had 50 cent hot dog nite last night and drew 10,225 fans who bought a total of 35,174 hot dogs. Cheap food is a popular promotion. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— White Sox put OF Eloy Jimenez (elbow) on the IL.
— White Sox activated C Welington Castillo from the IL.
— Phillies put OF Jay Bruce (oblique) on the IL.
— Royals put SS Adelberto Mondesi (shoulder) on the IL. 

6) Arizona 19, Texas 4— Eduardo Escobar homered from both sides of the plate. 

5) Atlanta Falcons are paying their defense this week; first DT Grady Jarrett got a 4-year, $68M deal, then LB Deion Jones got a 4-year, $57M extension. 

4) If you do offseason NBA research, keep in mind that over the last two seasons, the Denver Nuggets are 23-8 in games decided by three-points or less.

3) With Tony Parker retiring, JJ Redick is the only active player in the NBA who has been in the league for 13+ years and has been in the playoffs every year. 

2) Mets 14, Twins 4— Minnesota led 3-2 after six innings; not a good day for their bullpen. 

1) Saturday is the 50th anniversary of the first time a guy walked on the moon; imagine what that must have been like? Doing something just about no one else has ever done. Amazing. 

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

13) Big week here in beautiful upstate New York; Tuesday was the first day of legalized sports betting at the Rivers Casino in Schenectady, which is 15.6 miles from Armadillo World HQ, according to MapQuest. 

Will report back to you guys when I make my first visit to the new sportsbook, which will be this afternoon for some day baseball. 

12) Would major league baseball ever go to a split-season system, where the season reboots at the halfway mark and everyone is 0-0, with first-half and second-half winners meeting in the playoffs? 

This is one of those radical change ideas that I’m not necessarily against; it would discourage teams from giving up at this time of year and create renewed hope for teams that had a cruddy first half. 

11) Last three weeks, winner on the PGA Tour was a first-time winner, but only two of the three guys got an invite to the British Open- the guy who won the 3M tournament in Minnesota didn’t get an invite and I’m wondering why? 

10) Philadelphia 76ers signed Ben Simmons to a 5-year, $170M contract extension; hopefully he’ll take some of that money, buy a basketball, and practice shooting it this summer.

Simmons has a career 58.3% mark on the foul line; he is 0-17 in his career behind the arc. You make $34M a year, would be nice if you could at least make 70% on the foul line.

9) LSU’s new passing game coordinator in 28-year old Joe Brady, who comes to LSU from the Saints. Brady isn’t LSU’s offensive coordinator; Steve Ensminger has that job, but Brady was brought in to make the Tigers’ offense more diverse. We’ll see. 

8) ESPN+ is going to have an all-access series featuring Kansas football which means that we’ll have a lot more Les Miles quotes to sift through, never a bad thing. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— Cubs put C Willson Contreras (strained arch) on IL
— Cubs acquired C Martin Maldonado from KC for P Mike Montgomery.
— Giants put 3B Evan Longoria (foot) on the IL.
— Mets put P Zack Wheeler (shoulder) on IL, so much for trading him.
— Dodgers put IF/OF Chris Taylor (broken arm) on IL.
— Phillies’ OF Jay Bruce left Tuesday’s game (oblique).

6) The Madden video game has Eli Manning as the worst starting QB in the NFL; Aaron Rodgers is ranked #7, so we’re not 100% sure the Madden people know whats up. Rodgers played LY with a broken bone in his leg and a sprained MCL. 

5) New York 8, Tampa Bay 3— Five of CC Sabathia’s 15 starts this year have come against the Rays, which is unusual. Sabathia was jawing with Avasail Garcia at one point and the benches emptied, but like 95% of such events in baseball, nothing happened. 

4) Redskins’ QB Alex Smith broke his leg back in November; it is said to be a career-threatening injury. He finally had the brace removed Monday, on July 15, eight months later. 

3) College basketball transfer portal:
— Cleveland State G Tyree Appleby bolts to Florida. 

2) Angels pitcher Noe Ramirez drilled Houston OF Jake Marisnick in the first game Marisnick played against the Angels since he broke Angels’ C Jonathan Lucroy’s nose in a home plate collision over a week ago. Benches emptied, but nothing happened. 

Years ago, the play at the plate wouldn’t even have been mentioned on Sports Center, other than Lucroy getting hurt, but it today’s softer society, it became a thing for a while. 

1) In June, 1,899 vehicle break-ins were reported in San Francisco, or roughly 63 per day. Those are the ones that were reported. Just thought you’d like to know.

Tuesday’s Den; NFL knowledge with camp only a week away…….

13) Kansas City was +9 in turnovers, +27 in sacks LY, as QB Mahomes exploded onto the scene; KC was 12-4 LY, with three losses by 3 or fewer points. Last three years, Chiefs are 8-3 ATS as an underdog. In his last 10 years as a HC, Andy Reid is 2-7 in playoff games, after going 10-7 in playoff games before that. 

12) Minnesota was #31 in NFL LY in $$$ spent on their offensive line; last summer, their OL coach died suddenly before training camp started, and team went 8-8 after going 13-3 the year before, when Keenum was their QB. Cousins is 34-37-2 as an NFL starter, 0-1 in playoff games; he makes $28M a year. It is unclear if he is better than Keenum. 

11) Colts have had only two losing seasons since 2001, but last year was first time in four years they made the playoffs. Indy was 4-1 LY in games decided by 3 or fewer points in Reich’s first season as a head coach; under is 21-10 in their home games the last four years.

10) Madden video game ranked Eli Manning as the worst starting QB in the NFL- he’ll be 39 in January. Last six years, Giants are 38-59 SU; last two years, they’re 1-4-1 vs spread as a favorite. Giants went for it on 4th down only eight times LY, and Saquon Barkley carried the ball on only one of the eight plays. Will they play first round draft pick QB Jones at all this season? 

9) Miami hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008; their last playoff win was in 2000, six coaches ago. Dolphins were last in NFL LY in $$ spent on offense, then they went and hired a defensive assistant from New England as their new HC. Josh Rosen is the new QB; he started 13 games as a rookie for a bad Arizona team LY. 

8) Last year in Oakland for the Raiders, who haven’t won a playoff game since 2002- they’ve made playoffs once since then, going 10-22 last two years after a 12-4 season in 2016. Oakland was #31 in $$$ spent on defense LY; they had three first round picks in April, using two on defenders, which should help. Raiders had only 13 sacks LY, while giving up 52. 

7) Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown are both gone now; Steelers were last in NFL LY in $$$ spent at both RB and WR- they were -11 in turnovers, after going +8 the previous three years. Big Ben is 37; he threw 675 passes LY. Last three years, under is 18-5 in their road games. Last six years, Steelers are 7-3-1 vs spread coming off a loss. 

6) Jaguars were #4 in $$$ spent on defense LY, #28 on offense, but now Nick Foles is their QB; can he survive a 16-game schedule? Foles has never started more than 11 games in a season, and started 9+ games in a season only twice. Last four years, Jaguars TO margin is minus-30, and that was with a +10 season in 2017. 

5) Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010; they went 14-34 the last three years. Adam Gase went 23-25 as coach in Miami, got fired, but division rival Jets hired him to tutor QB Darnold who started 13 games (4-9) LY. Gang Green was minus-10 in turnovers LY, are minus-34 the last three years. Over is 19-11-1 in their home games the last four years. 

4) New England has won six Super Bowls since 2001; Brady will be 42 in a few weeks, but he is 12-2 in playoff games the last five years. Over last decade, NE is 46-27-3 as a home favorite; they have to replaced retired TE Gronkowski. In red zone LY, White was targeted 22 times, Edelman 19 times, Gronkowski only seven.

3) Last two years, while playing with very little home field advantage in Carson, Chargers went 11-3 vs spread in true road games. LA’s new dome opens next year; Chargers need lot of wins this year to sell tickets for their ’20 home games. Philip Rivers will be 38 in December; he’s started every game since ’06, but Bolts did a smart thing and added Tyrod Taylor as a backup. 

2) Carson Wentz started 13-11 games the last two years; he is 23-17 as an NFL starter, and Nick Foles is in Jacksonville now, so Wentz better stay healthy. In Weeks 4 and 7 LY, Eagles led by 14+ points in 3rd quarter, but lost both games. 12 of their 16 games were decided by 8 or fewer points, which makes the -6 turnover ratio more damaging. 

1) New Orleans had 29 more sacks than they allowed LY; they were 5-2 in games decided by 8 or fewer points. Last eight times Saints made postseason, they won their first playoff game seven times. Drew Brees will be 41 in January. Red zone targets LY; Thomas 31, Kamara 29, Tre’Quan Smith 11. Last five years, over is 26-14 in the Superdome. 

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

13) As I type this, I’m watching ESPN2’s broadcast of the World Series of Poker final table, which is a half hour delayed; they’re down to six players right now. Winner gets $10M, guy who was 9th got $1M, so they’re playing for lot of money. 

For some reason, ESPN continues to employ Normad Chad as a poker analyst, possibly the least funny person ever on TV, especially because he thinks he is funny. 

12) One baseball thing I’m waiting for: a team gets hosed on an instant replay review. The manager runs over, grabs the headphones out of that bag they’re in and berates the umpire in New York City who made the call against his team. 

MLB needs to announce which umpires are in New York reviewing plays for each game. 

11) Minnesota’s Max Kepler has homered in five straight at-bats against Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer, which is a new MLB record. Two batters had the previous record, homering four times in a row vs the same pitcher, back in 2004 and 1964. 

10) Max Scherzer leads MLB in swinging strike %age, at 17.1%. He also leads in first-pitch strike %age, at 71.7%. 

9) Brad Powers’ toughest college football schedules this year:
South Carolina, Auburn, USC, Stanford

8) Mike Trout was removed from Sunday’s game in the 2nd inning with right calf tightness. He is considered day-to-day.

7) Baseball stuff:
— A’s acquired P Homer Bailey from Kansas City for a minor league SS.
— Angels’ C Jonathan Lucroy is expected to miss another two weeks (concussion). 

6) Weather forecast in Northern Ireland for next week’s British Open golf tournament is rain every day. Should be a fun week for the caddies.

5) There were 422 points played in the Federer-Djokovic match at Wimbledon Sunday; 35 of them were aces. Lot of people on social media were suggesting it was one of the best matches ever played. 

4) Fantasy baseball rant: It is really frustrating to have pitchers on teams that suck; none of my pitchers this year are on good teams. Miami, the Mets, Detroit, San Francisco, even San Diego is below .500 now. Good pitchers struggle to win with lousy defensive support. 

Sandy Alcantara pitched pretty well for the Marlins Sunday, but their infield was AWFUL- Mets had five infield hits, mixed in with a couple errors and other mental miscues. They looked like they were out late in South Beach Saturday night. Alcantara deserved better. 

3) ESPN hired former NFL QB Ryan Leaf as a college football analyst, as Leaf continues his comeback from personal problems that derailed his playing career. 

Leaf was the #2 overall NFL draft pick for the San Diego Chargers in 1998 and worked for the Pac-12 Network last year- he has been co-hosting a show on SiriusXM’s Pac-12 channel. 

He has has battled drug addiction and served time in prison, so good for him for seemingly overcoming those demons. Look forward to learning from him this fall. 

2) Cincinnati Reds hit five triples in Saturday’s game, the first time the Reds did that since June of 1929. Coors Field is a lot more spacious than the Reds’ home ballpark. 

1) SEC football media days start today; oddly entertaining TV, with lot of interviews with people not really saying very much. It was much better when Les Miles was at LSU, though. 

Sunday’s List of 13: Random thoughts on a summer day…….

13) Angels threw a combined no-hitter Friday night, in their first home game since Tyler Skaggs’ tragic death. Taylor Cole and Felix Pena combined on the no-hitter; Cole was the opener- he threw the first two innings. Pena threw 81 pitches in closing out the 13-0 win. 

Skaggs’ mother threw out the first pitch on a very sad, emotional night in Anaheim. 

12) In his first two seasons in the NBA, Ben Simmons played 34 mpg in 160 games; he is one of the best passers I’ve ever seen, but this stat is staggering. 

In those 160 games, Simmons is 0-17 behind the arc, and shoots only 58.3% on the foul line. For a guard with his overall skills to be such a suspect shooter is really unusual.

He could become one of the all-time greats if he would make jumpers and foul shots.

11) Orioles-Rays played a doubleheader Saturday; Baltimore started Aaron Brooks in the first game— they just got him from the A’s, where he started six games this season. Baltimore is a bad baseball team; they need all the help they can get. 

Brooks retires the first eight batters he faced, throwing 32 pitches, but then they take him out, the night after they lost 16-4— WHY?!?!?!?! Brooks is 29, he’s not a big prospect, so they’re not trying to preserve his arm or anything. It makes zero sense. 

Of course the next pitcher gives up a home run to the first batter he faces. 

10) Orioles traded their best pitcher Andrew Cashner to Boston, for minor league IF Noelberth Romero and minor league OF Elio Prado. Both minor leaguers are 17 years old. 

9) Washington QB Case Keenum is on his 4th team in four years this season; he started 39 games (21-18) the last three years, but he changes addresses every year. Will the Redskins play Keenum ahead of Colt McCoy, until rookie Dwayne Haskins is ready to play? 

Keenum was the Rams’ QB ahead of Jared Goff in 2016, so he knows that drill; he started the first nine games (4-5) but the first round draft pick will eventually start, just the way it is. 

8) Lebron James will still wear #23 for the Lakers this coming season, due to production issues and the massive financial hit Nike would have absorbed from the No. 23 James inventory that’s already been produced. 

Anthony Davis will wear #3 for the Lakers this season. 

7) College basketball transfer portal
— Shakur Juiston bolts from UNLV to Oregon. 

6) Former UNLV start Anthony Bennett was the first player taken in the 2013 NBA Draft, but his career fizzled out fairly quickly; he’s played for three NBA teams and five G-League teams in the last six years. Now Bennett has agreed to a non-guaranteed deal with the Houston Rockets- we wish him well. 

5) Grayson Allen got tossed out of a summer league game Thursday, after he got a flagrant foul, with Memphis down 24 in 4th quarter. Funny how the TV announcers didn’t cover for him this time, like they did when he was in college.

4) Likewise, it was suggested one TV during the week that Zion Williamson might want to get in better shape before the Pelicans begin their training camp. How does a kid with so much money on the line come to summer league in less than tip-top shape?

3) First-round matchups for December’s Diamond Head Classic:
Georgia Tech/Boise State
Ball State/Hawaii

Next time you hear someone whining that college athletes should get paid, ask them how many free trips to Hawai’i they’ve gotten in their lives, complete with free, first class hotels.

2) Angels/Rays both scored seven runs in first inning Friday, first time two teams did that on the same night since April 20, 2013, when the Angels/Indians did it. 

Then Saturday, Cubs and A’s did it, too. 

1) ESPN shows the World Series of Poker on a 30-minute delay; was watching it late into the night Friday night/Saturday morning, with the field down to 12 players (nine make the final table). Not always the best TV, because the hands aren’t edited; there is a lot of waiting as players decide whether or not to call bets. Lot of money rides on the outcome.

There was a controversy late at night (I mean, 4am in the east) where one player asked how much it was to call a bet and the dealer said the wrong amount, by like $5M. When it was pointed out there was a long delay, but according to the rules, it is the player’s responsibility to know the correct amount, no matter what the dealer says.

The guy who lost that hand was really upset, but he wound up making the final table with the 6th-most chips. There were 11 players left when the disagreement happened.

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

13) Of the 24 guys who played in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, only seven are still on the same team now that they were back then, only 2.5 years ago. 

12) If you follow the NFL, play fantasy football or wager on games, I highly recommend Warren Sharp’s 2019 Football Handbook, which you can get on Amazon. Tremendous amount of good NFL knowledge. 

If you watched the 4-part series Showtime did on sports gambling last winter, Sharp is the brains behind the football wagering of pro gambler Bill Krackomberger, who was featured in the series. If you’re betting $3,000 a game, you better have some serious knowledge on your side, and Sharp possesses that knowledge. 

11) Starting August 1st, Aria, Vdara and Bellagio are increasing their resort fees from $39 a day to $45 a day, as MGM increases all their resort fees. 

Resort fees are an artificial way of ripping off tourists; it’d be less offensive if they just added $45 a day to the damn room rates.

Those three hotels are expensive enough; people like myself are going to stop heading west for vacations if the airlines and hotels keep jacking up their rates. 

10) Baseball at the All-Star break:
Most profitable team to bet: Rangers +$1,408
Least profitable team to bet: Royals -$1,915
Most profitable starter: Cashner +$1,050
Least profitable starter: Sale -$947

Favorites: 798-545 (+220)
Overs: 655-622-65 (+777)

9) Interesting article on the Interweb this week about how NBA trainers believe that kids who play basketball year-round, with no breaks, are more likely to break down physically as they get older. Parents are more and more having their kids specialize in one sport at an earlier age; there are varied opinions on whether this is a good idea. 

Guys who were trainers 20-30 years ago were saying how players back then would take a few weeks off after the season to re-charge, and also do non-basketball conditioning stuff during the summer, rather than just be in the gym every day. 

8) Alex Bregman needed four stitches to close a cut on his chin after he took a bad-hop single to the face in Thursday night’s loss to the Rangers. 

7) Oklahoma City Thunder traded Russell Westbrook to Houston for Chris Paul late Thursday; Rockets also sent two protected 1st-round picks (’24 and ’26, both protected Nos. 1-4) and two pick swaps (’21 and ’25) to the Thunder, who should probably host the draft for the next several years. 

Oklahoma City is already working on trading Paul, undoubtedly for more draft picks. For the record, Paul (34) is four years older than Westbrook. 

Bad news for the State Farm Insurance people, who now have to shoot a whole new set of commercials with Paul off the Rockets. 

6) Clemson’s basketball team went overseas and won the gold medal at the World University Games, an excellent experience for Brad Brownell’s Tigers. 

5) First-round matchups in November’s Battle for Atlantis basketball tournament:
Michigan/Iowa State
North Carolina/Alabama
Gonzaga/Southern Miss
Seton Hall/Oregon

4) First-round matchups for November’s Myrtle Beach Invitational: 
Villanova/Middle Tennessee 
Mississippi State/Tulane
Utah/Coastal Carolina

3) First-round matchups for November’s Wooden Legacy:
Wake Forest/Charleston
Providence/Long Beach State

2) First-round matchups for November’s Charleston Classic: Florida/St. Joe’s
Miami/Missouri State

1) So far this season, 60.5% of the runs Justin Verlander has allowed came via home runs; if that holds up for the season, it’ll be the highest percentage in major league history. Last week, Verlander went off loudly on this year’s baseballs being juiced. He should know. 

Verlander has earned $226,515,000 in his career, with $66M more coming in 2020-21; he is also married to Kate Upton, so it is possible he has forfeited the right to complain about anything, even juiced-up baseballs, for a very long time.  

Friday’s List of 13: NFL knowledge on a summer day

13) Cleveland has a first-time head coach, a star WR who has played one game in December the last two years (3 catches for 35 yards) and high expectations (they’re favored to win the AFC North, at 5-4 odds). Lot of combustible personalities for a team that is 1-18-1 in season openers, but Mayfield showed great promise at QB LY, and 2nd year QB’s have done well lately. 

Browns went 7-9 LY despite a +7 turnover ratio, after going 1-31 the previous two years; they spent the most $$$ in NFL LY on WR’s, and now they add Beckham, not the most dependable guy (played in 16 of 32 games the last two years). 

Last three years, Cleveland is 2-22 SU on road; under is 16-6-1 in their last 23 home games. Browns are favored to win their division; they’ve been favored in only four of their last 48 games.

12) Troy Aikman says you can’t teach a QB to be accurate, which has to be scary for Buffalo’s fans; Josh Allen ranked 39th among 39 qualified QB’s in adjusted completion %age; he was dead last (28%) in completion %age while under pressure. No bueno. 

Buffalo spent the most $$$ in the NFL LY on running backs; they ran the ball the 5th-most in the league. Bills went 6-10 LY but was 3-0 in games decided by 3 or fewer points, a red flag. Allen has to throw the ball better, or else…….

11) Cincinnati hired Zac Taylor as HC because he worked for Sean McVay for a year; Taylor’s father-in-law is former Green Bay coach Mike Sherman. Bengals scored 31.5 ppg in their first four games LY but once TE Tyler Eifert got hurt, their offense went in the ashcan (20.2 ppg) the rest of the season. 

Last two years, Bengals are 12-7 vs spread as an underdog; they were 2-5 LY in games decided by 8 or fewer points. Taylor took a long time hiring a defensive coordinator; we’ll see if finally firing Marvin Lewis (131-122-3 in 16 years as HC) was a good move. 

10) Atlanta Falcons ran 73 plays inside opponents’ 10-yard line LY; Falcons’ success on plays inside 10-yard line ranked 28th in NFL.The new OC is Dirk Koetter; last time he called plays in the NFL was 2017, when his Tampa Bay Bucs ranked 24th in red zone offense- he’ll need to do better than that this year. 

Last two years, Atlanta is 2-6 vs spread as an underdog, 4-11 vs spread in true road games.

9) Dallas was 9-3 LY in games decided by 8 or fewer points; they spent the most $$$ in the league on their offensive line. Prescott is the 43rd-highest paid QB in the NFL for one more year, but they’ll have to break the bank for him next winter. 

Last three years, Cowboys are 16-10 vs spread as a favorite; under is 17-7 in their road games. 

8) Lions were #2 in NFL LY in $$ spent on QB’s; Matthew Stafford has a 66-75 career record in the NFL, 0-3 in playoff games. He is 31 years old. 

Last two years, Detroit is 10-5 vs spread on road, 8-4 vs spread when favored. LY was the Lions’ worst SU record since 2012; they fired Jim Caldwell after consecutive 9-7 seasons, and hired a first-time HC because he was on a team with Tom Brady. 

Lions’ last playoff win was in 1991; I still had hair in 1991. 

7) Last time a college coach jumped to the NFL with as much fanfare as Kliff Kingsbury going to Arizona was Chip Kelly going from Oregon to the Eagles in 2013, but Kelly wasn’t fired at Oregon. Philly had a minus-24 turnover ratio in 2012; it improved to +12 in 2013, the biggest reason why the Iggles improved from 4-12 to 10-6. Eagles wound up going 27-22 under Kelly, 0-1 in playoffs. 

Last year’s Cardinals were minus-12 in turnovers; is a similar scenario going to play out? Redbirds went 1-7 SU at home LY, after going 9-6 in 2016-17. Kingsbury is their third HC in three years, with a rookie QB starting- they’ll be interesting. 

6) Aaron Rodgers will be 36 in December; he played LY with a broken bone in his leg and an MCL sprain, but he didn’t get along with coach McCarthy, so coach McCarthy is ex-coach McCarthy, and Matt LaFleur is the new coach, in part because he worked for Sean McVay. 

Green Bay is 13-19 SU the last two years; they were 3-6 LY in one-score games. Packers are 5-12 vs spread in their last 17 games as an underdog. 

If you play fantasy football, Davante Adams was targeted on 28 red zone plays LY; no one else had more than nine such targets. Will that change under LaFleur? 

5) NFL QB’s drafted from 2012-17 went 37-59 SU as rookies, 63-44 in their second year, and Mitch Trubisky (4-8 in ’17, 11-3 LY) followed that pattern LY. 

Bears were +12 in turnovers LY, which will be hard to duplicate; they were +17 in sacks, had 17 fewer penalties, and three more (6-3) return TD’s.They better have a good season this year; their salary cap for 2020 is a mess- they’ll likely need to purge some veterans next winter. 

4) Ravens were 6-1 LY when Lamar Jackson started at QB, 4-5 when Joe Flacco started; now Flacco lives in Denver. Ravens ranked 31st in NFL LY in money spent on QB’s; they ranked #1 in spending on cornerbacks. 

Average total in a Ravens’ game in 2017 was 40.6; LY, it was 44.8. Six of Flacco’s last seven starts stayed under the total. Baltimore scored 20+ points in all seven Jackson starts, with only loss 27-24 at KC- over was 4-3. 

3) Denver went 6-10 LY despite a +7 turnover ratio; they’ll have their 4th different #1 QB in five years this season, with Keenum off to Washington. Broncos were #29 in NFL LY in $$$ spent on their offense; despite that, their offense efficiency improved from 31st to 14th, but they hired defensive-minded Fangio as their new coach. Go figure. 

Last two years, Broncos are 4-10 vs spread as a favorite, 1-6 at home. Not good. 

2) Last year, Houston led the NFL in $$$ spent on defense; they were 30th in $$$ spent on their offense— playing a young QB helps there. Watson is 14-6 as an NFL starter; Texans jumped from 4-12 to 11-5 LY- they went 1-3 vs Brady/Luck, 10-2 vs an assortment of average to lousy QB’s on the rest of their schedule. 

11 of Houston’s 16 games LY were decided by one score; they were +13 in turnovers, which is a major red flag when you combine those two. Hard to go +13 again and if they don’t, those close games go the other way.

DeAndre Hopkins had 19 red zone targets LY; no one else had more than eight. 

1) Carolina Panthers have never had consecutive winning seasons, so LY’s 7-9 record could be a source of optimism- they were 3-7 in games decided by 8 or fewer pioints. Panthers haven’t won a playoff game since losing the Super Bowl after the 2015 season. It would help if Cam Newton’s shoulder is healthy, which remains to be seen.

Last three years, Carolina is 2-7 as a road favorite; Panthers led the NFL LY in $$ spent on defensive linemen- their overall defensive efficiency slipped from #7 to #22 LY. 

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) New Orleans Pelicans sold 2,500 season tickets the night they won the draft lottery; imagine how many they must’ve sold the night of the draft? 

12) Celtics have 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall on their summer league team; their nutritionists have him eating 6,000 calories a day, to try and add some weight to his frame. Lot of eating.

11) I turn on the Portland-Utah summer league game Tuesday and the first voice I hear is Dan Dakich, so immediately my reflex is……..MUTE BUTTON!!!!  Good grief he is annoying. 

10) Nevada Wolf Pack alum Jordan Caroline had seven fouls in a game Monday night; the limit in summer league is ten- they don’t want guys fouling out, but having seven in a game isn’t good. Caroline’s dad and grandfather were really good football players, so it is in the genes. 

9) Part of the reason NBA Summer League is so popular is that it is a chance for regular people to see pro ball in person at affordable prices. You can sit there all day, watch four games for $35, and for kids, they’ve got a good chance to meet a current NBA player or coach. 

Plus if you’re in Las Vegas, its 105 outside and the arenas are air conditioned, and its a hell of a lot cheaper than playing video poker all day.

8) Central Florida QB Darriel Mack Jr broke his ankle recently, so Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush is the Golden Knights’ likely starting QB this fall. Wimbush was Notre Dame’s starting QB two years ago. 

7) NFC East is the only division where all four teams have won a Super Bowl. 

6) NC State received a notice of allegations from the NCAA this week, related to the recruitment of former five-star point guard Dennis Smith Jr. Problem is, the coaches involved in all that have moved on, so the school will get punished for something the current coaches didn’t do. 

5) Warriors told Shaun Livingston to take a hike before his contract became fully guaranteed at $7.7M- instead he will get paid $666,000 a year over the next three years to go away. He hopes to play for a contending team next season. 

4) There are eight new head coaches in the NFL this season; Adam Gase, Bruce Arians are only two of the eight who have been NFL head coaches before. Kliff Kingsbury has been a head coach in college- Texas Tech fired him last year.

3) There are 18 NFL coordinators with NFL head coaching experience. 

2) Quick college football trends:

— Since 2017, Kentucky is 0-7 as a home favorite.
— Mississippi State covered eight of last ten non-conference games.
— Since 2012, Arizona State is 20-12 as a home favorite. 

1) RIP to former big league pitcher Jim Bouton, 80, who wrote Ball Four, which might’ve been the first real book I ever read. Controversial at the time, Ball Four was Bouton’s diary of the 1969 baseball season, where he took us inside a major league locker room, which was frowned upon at the time. Bouton started that season with the expansion Seattle Pilots and wound up with the Astros. RIP, sir. 

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

13) I’d rather watch NBA Summer League games than Home Run Derby; just would rather watch actual games with guys competing for jobs. 

Overall I’m a much bigger baseball fan than an NBA fan, but I like games, not batting practice. 

12) Been listening to Sam Mitchell do analysis on NBA Summer League games; he’s great, he tells stories, just sits there and talks about ball, which is all I’m asking for.

11) Tip of the cap to my friend Phil, who nailed a $50 bet on Pete Alonso at 5-1 to win the Home Run Derby. 

This makes up for the summer night in 1983 when we were at jai-alai in Hartford, CT and Phil didn’t do so well; he unleashed a torrent of epithets at a player named Gurney who cost Phil a quinella with a bad blunder. To this day it is the hardest I’ve ever laughed in my entire life; had tears running down my face, I was laughing so hard. 

Phil….he wasn’t laughing; hope this makes up for it. 

10) Cincinnati Reds used five different left fielders in Sunday’s game, the first time that has happened since 1908; they also used four 2B Sunday, first time they’ve done that since 1958. 

In that 1958 game, Gus Bell went 1-5 for the Reds with a run scored and an RBI; his grandson David is the Reds’ manager now.

9) Jay Bruce is the first player in MLB history to hit 10+ home runs for two different teams before the All-Star break; he hit 14 for Seattle, has 10 for the Phillies.

8) Astros, Twins, Braves and Brewers are supposedly the teams most interested in Madison Bumgarner; Minnesota is the only one of those teams that can acquire Bumgarner without his permission.

7) Jaxson Hayes is running amok for the New Orleans Pelicans in summer league; this is a kid who never started a high school game until his senior year, which means that only 20 months ago, he had never started a game, and now he looks like an NBA star in the making. 

6) Seth Greenberg is really good on TV and he was a good college hoop coach, but he said something the other day, that was odd…….odd as in, people who work for ESPN aren’t allowed to criticize guys who played for Duke. 

He was talking about Cam Reddish on the Hawks: “He was regarded as a good shooter coming out of high school, but he didn’t make many shots last year.”

It is pretty easy to decide who the good shooters are: they make the most shots. Reddish shot 39.4% inside the arc, 33.3% outside the arc at Duke last season. Not good. 

5) Thanasis Antetokounmpo is signing a fully guaranteed two-year, $3M veteran’s minimum deal with the Bucks. Milwaukee is getting creative with ways to keep his brother Giannis, one of the best players in the league, but as a lifelong Oakland A’s fan who had to live thru the Jeremy Giambi era, it likely won’t work. 

4) Rams’ QB Jared Goff got his first hole-in-one a few weeks ago. I got a hole-in-one once, but it came on a windmill hole, so I’m told that doesn’t count. 

3) Chinese Nationals 84, Hornets 80— I know it is only summer league, but Michael Jordan owns the Hornets and he couldn’t have been too happy after this game Monday night. 

2) Has the Home Run Derby hurt the All-Star Game’s popularity? Sometimes it seems like the home run contest has surpassed the game as a fun event for fans. 

1) Commercial on the Mets’ game Sunday: “Cremation starting for as little as $895!!!”

Who knew cremation was such a good deal?