Saturday’s List of 13: Our first look at college basketball for this season

I don’t go grocery shopping much, because I never cook, but while getting some junk food Friday, guess what was there? The Athlon college basketball magazine for 2019-20, already on newsstands on August 30. Here is what I learned from scanning this fine magazine:

13) Top 4 coaching hires:
— Fred Hoiberg, Nebraska— His grandfather was once Nebraska’s head coach. He might be the only person in America who would turn down the UCLA basketball job for this.
— Eric Musselman, Arkansas— My first instinct was that this is a bad fit, but he was great at Nevada and he coached two NBA teams.
— Buzz Williams, Texas A&M— He got Virginia Tech to the NCAA’s the last three years; they had been there twice in the previous 30 years. Va Tech is a football school, too.
— Nate Oats, Alabama— Went 31-5 in MAC last two years; his job is to entertain the locals until spring football starts.  

12) UCLA butchered its coaching search; they wound up with Mick Cronin, who is a solid coach but Bruin fans are going to hate his defense-first style (or lack of style). 

Last six years, Cronin’s Cincinnati teams’ national rank in tempo (out of 351 or 353 teams):
328-339-333-330-330-338

From 2006-08, Ben Howland made the Final Four three years in a row; from that point on, AFTER he made the Final Four three years in a row, UCLA went 58-32 in Pac-12 games, but only 2-3 in NCAA tourney games- they told Howland to take a hike. Why?!?!?!?!?

Cincinnati made the NCAA’s the last nine years, but since 2013, they’re 3-4 in 1st round, 0-3 in the 2nd round, and never made an Elite 8 under Cronin. Uh-oh. 

11) There are 354 Division I teams this year; Merrimack joins the NEC this year, after Cal Baptist  joined the WAC and North Alabama joined the Atlantic Sun. 

10) Keep in mind that the 3-point line has been moved back 16.75 inches, to the international distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches. The NBA arc is 23 feet, 9 inches. 

They used the longer international arc in the NIT last spring; teams shot 2.2% lower behind the arc than they did in the regular season. 

9) Five coaches on the hot seat:
— Dave Leitao, DePaul— LY’s 19-17 mark was their best in 12 years, but then the NCAA came calling. Last 4 years, Blue Demons are 16-56 in Big East games, and they’re cheating. Oy.
— Danny Manning, Wake Forest- Deacons are 24-66 in ACC games under his watch.
— Matt McCall, UMass— When you finish 13th two years in a row in a league called the Atlantic 10 (they have 14 teams), your job is going to be in jeopardy. 

— Shaka Smart, Texas— His Longhorn teams are 31-41 in Big X games, and they don’t play the same fast-paced style his great VCU teams played. Why?
— Patrick Chambers, Penn State— 8 years, 0 NCAA bids; last year, 8 of 14 Big 14 teams made the NCAA’s. PSU is a football school, but Chambers still needs to show progress.

8) Gonzaga is the only team in the country that has made the Sweet 16 the last five years. 

7) Athlon Sports top 6 teams for this season:
6— Memphis Tigers
5— Florida Gators
4— Louisville Cardinals
3— Kentucky Wildcats
2— Duke Blue Devils
1— Michigan State Spartans

6) Brad Brownell has been Clemson’s coach for nine years; in four of those years, Clemson finished .500+ in ACC games but didn’t make the NCAA’s. They need to win more games in December, but they were in the Sweet 16 two years ago. Brownell is a good coach whose job is a tough one- they lost five of their top six scorers from last year’s 20-14 team. 

5) Five most impactful freshmen this year:
5— Nico Mannion, Arizona- Scoring PG whose dad played in the NBA.
4— Anthony Edwards, Georgia- 5-star recruit from talent-rich Atlanta.
3— James Wiseman, Memphis- 7-1 center who needs work on offense.
2— Isaiah Stewart, Washington- Young man from Rochester, NY is long way from home.
1— Cole Anthony, North Carolina- His dad Greg was UNLV’s PG in the Tark glory days. 

4) Some programs win no matter who the coach is.. Check out VCU’s record:
1999-2002— Mack McCarthy, 65-55, 35-32 in CAA
2002-06— Jeff Capel, 79-41, 50-22 in CAA
2006-09— Anthony Grant, 76-25, 45-9 in CAA
2009-15— Shaka Smart, 163-56, 38-16 in CAA, 36-14 in A-14
2015-17— Will Wade, 51-20, 28-8 in A-14
2017-19— Mike Rhoades, 43-23, 25-11 in A-14

3) Five of this year’s better transfers:
— Omer Yurtseven, NC State to Georgetown- Scored 13.5 ppg for the Wolfpack.
— Quade Green, Kentucky to Washington- Will be Huskies’ PG after the 1st semester.
— Malachi Flynn, Washington St to San Diego St— Scored 15.8 ppg for the Coogs. 
— Koby McEwen, Utah State to Marquette— Bolted Logan after they fired the coach.
— Jalen Harris, Louisiana Tech to Nevada— Wolf Pack literally wouldn’t have been able to field a team the day they hired Steve Alford. Harris scored 15.3 ppg his last year at Tech. 

2) Under Chris Beard, Texas Tech is 8-2 in NCAA tourney games; before Beard became Tech’s coach, Tech was 8-16 all-time in NCAA tourney games.

1) Georgetown played the fastest tempo games of any Big East team last year, playing the 25th-fastest tempo in the whole country. I wonder what John Thompson thinks of that?

Patrick Ewing has changed the Hoyas’ program into one that plays fast, which helps recruiting— Hoyas are 34-29 under Ewing, 14-22 in Big East games, but they were 19-14, 9-9 LY. They’ll be an interesting team to watch this winter. 

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

13) Saturday’s Boise State-Florida State game has been moved from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, because of the upcoming tropical storm. Kickoff was moved up to noon ET. 

As a result, the line moved from Florida State -5 to 6.5; if you wagered on the game before the site changed, apparently those tickets are now void. 

12) Speaking of noon ET starts, the Pac-12 is actually discussing having some of their teams play HOME games that start at 9am Pacific time, starting next season. Seriously. 

Why would a fan want to go to a football game that starts at 9am on a Saturday? Just so teams can be seen on TV across the country earlier in the day? It makes no sense. 

11) This is a tough week; between now and 4:00 Saturday, around 1,200 guys are going to get cut from NFL rosters. 300 or so of them will get re-signed to practice squads, another 300-400 will wind up playing in the XFL in February, but playing on fall Sundays is a player’s dream.

10) From Phil Rogers: Cleveland Indian starting pitchers have thrown 115+ pitches in 15 games this season, but Trevor Bauer had the first 13 of those— he’s on the Reds now. 

No other team has had more than eight such games this year. 

9) Random observation; hitters swing at 3-0 pitches a lot more than they used to. 

8) Baseball stuff:
— Royals shelved P Brad Keller (innings limit) for the rest of the season.
— Oakland put DH Khris Davis on the paternity list.

7) Utah 30, BYU 12— Game was shortened by a lightning storm; wagers on the game will all be refunded, since game didn’t reach the last 5:00. 

6) Cincinnati 24, UCLA 14— Yardage was 417-218 Bearcats; UCLA has a major problem- their QB isn’t very good. Bruins turned the ball over four times, twice in the red zone when their QB simply dropped the ball when he was preparing to pass- thats just not acceptable. 

5) I have been critical of ESPN the last couple years, but the late SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt is excellent television; he gets it. It is worth your time to watch; highlights, sometimes an obscure highlight, gambling-related tidbits, and just good solid sentiment about what life should be like. In short, a lot of thought goes into making this show every night. 

4) Marlins 4, Reds 3 (12)— Aristides Aquino hit his 14th homer this month, the most homers a rookie has ever hit in one month. He hit .241 in AA last year. Go figure. 

3) I’m probably late with this, but apparently there are places now where you can go and throw axes at targets, kind of like darts except you’re throwing freakin’ axes. Competitive axe throwing is a thing, and this is news to me. Do they serve alcohol at those places? 

2) Glad to see that DirecTV has the local ABC affiliate back up and running in time for the college football season. Their business would take a hit if they’re blacking out stations that show football. Getting the Pac-12 Network would also be a help. 

1) SouthPoint Casino posted a prop for Saturday’s college football; which team will score the first touchdown in the noon ET kickoffs?
Nebraska +$275
Ohio State 7-2
Ole Miss 4-1
Mississippi State 9-2
Memphis 7-1
Illinois 13-1
Indiana 14-1

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

13) Monday, a courageous soul in Las Vegas wagered $33,000 on the Colts (+7) in Week 1 against the Chargers. That gambler has lot of faith in Jacoby Brissett. 

12) New England Patriots made two trades for offensive linemen Wednesday, addressing their need for depth on their front line. 

11) Cubs 10, Mets 7— Chicago pounded Noah Syndergaard for eight runs in first two innings. 

10) This is a little weird: Eagles backup QB Josh McCown will be on the sidelines at Myers Park HS in Charlotte every Friday night this fall as an assistant football coach, in addition to playing for the Eagles on Sundays, and practicing with the team during the week. McCown plans to fly to rejoin the Eagles on Friday night/Saturday morning each week.

9) Life for a marginal big league pitcher: Astros’ pitcher Cy Sneed has been called up from AAA/sent back to AAA five times in the last 48 days. Lot of frequent flyer miles. 

8) Back in 2000, David Glass bought the Kansas City Royals for $96M; he is expected to sell the ballclub soon, with the price expected to be a little over $1B. Thats billion, with a B. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— Dodgers’ 3B Justin Turner was suspended for a game for making contact with an ump.
— Giants DFA’d 2B Scooter Gennett. 

6) Obscure stat of the day, from Christopher Kamka: Lou Piniella hit 102 career home runs, most ever by a player who never hit two home runs in a game. 

5) Perk to being an NBA player: Myles Turner and Brook Lopez acted as roadies for Fleetwood Mac Tuesday night in Sydney, Australia— that must have been fun. 

4) More and more, you hear NFL-types talking about how teams holding joint practices is more productive than exhibition games. The practices are over a 3-4 day period and starters can get 80+ good reps in different situations, and against other starters. 

In coming years, we’ll likely see only two preseason games a year, and more joint practices. 

3) Jeremy Lin signed a deal to play basketball in China this winter. 

2) Indianapolis Colts now have $56.6M in salary cap space, $19.6M more than any other team in the league (Houston is 2nd). 

1) Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before; USC QB Jack Sears will enter the transfer portal and will play elsewhere in 2020-21, as a graduate transfer, because he lost the starting job to sophomore QB JT Daniels. Apparently Sears is going to graduate from USC in only three years. Because of that, he can still be on the Trojans’ roster this year, and play elsewhere in 2020. 

Wednesday’s Den: Notes for this week’s college football games

— Clemson plays Texas A&M next week; since 2013, they’re 20-17-3 as home favorites, 20-13 in non-ACC games. Tigers won their last four games with Georgia Tech, only one by more than 19 points. Tech has a new coach; they’re 8-3-1 in last dozen games as a road underdog. 

— Since 2014, Florida International is 11-7-1 as a road underdog; they’ve got 16 starters back, with a senior QB (26 starts). Tulane is 5-6 ATS in its last 11 games as a home favorite; Green Wave is 8-5 in its last 13 non-conference games. 

— Utah State has a new coach, an OL with only 15 returning starts; Aggies are 9-13 ATS in last 22 games as a road underdog. Wake Forest covered four of last six tries as a home favorite; they’re 11-11-1 in last 23 non-league games. Deacons have 82 returning starts on their OL. Home teams won last two series games. 

— Purdue (-5) beat Nevada 24-14 in last meeting in 2016; Boilers are 3-2 as road favorites under Brohm- they covered eight of last 11 non-league games. Purdue has only three returning starters on offense. Nevada has a new QB; they covered four of last six tries as a home underdog, but are 4-9 ATS in last 13 games outside Mountain West. 

— Oklahoma State has 81 starts back on the OL in front of a new QB; since 2012. Cowboys are 8-13-2 as a road favorite, but thy’ve covered 11 of last 12 games outside the Big X. Oregon State has four senior starters on the OL; Beavers are 7-15 ATS in last 22 games as a home underdog, 6-13 in last 19 games outside Pac-12. 

— Indiana won its last two games with Ball State 30-20/38-10 (1-1 vs spread); Hoosiers covered five of last six tries as a home favorite. Indiana has 78 returning starts on its OL, seven starters back on both sides of ball. Ball State has 17 starters back; lat two years, they’re 3-9 ATS as a road underdog- Cardinals covered eight of last 12 non-MAC games. 

— Last two years, Kentucky is 0-9 ATS as a home favorite; Wildcats are 5-14 ATS in last 19 games outside the SEC. Toledo covered once in its last six games as an underdog; they’re 3-7 ATS in last ten non-MAC games. Wildcats have a junior QB (13 starts) and an OL with 57 starts. Toledo should play two QB’s; their OL has 6 starts. 

— Last four years, Eastern Michigan is 14-3 ATS outside the MAC; EMU’s OL has 46 returning starts, their senior QB has only three starts- their defense has only four returning starters. Coastal Carolina has a new coach; their OL has 86 returning starts. Chanticleers are 3-5 ATS as a home underdog, 5-3 ATS in non-league games. 

— Since 2012, Duke is 26-8 vs spread outside the ACC; they’re 14-9 in last 23 games as a road underdog, 4-0 on a neutral field. Since 2016, Alabama is 18-13-1 as a favorite; they’re 16-21-1 ATS in last 38 non-SEC games. Crimson Tide is 6-5 ATS in last 11 games on neutral fields, though crowd for this game in Atlanta will be an Alabama crowd. 

— Arkansas State will be an emotional team here; their coach’s wife passed away two weeks ag0; he has taken a leave from his job. ASU is 16-9 in it last 25 games as a home favorite, but they’re 3-11 ATS in last 14 non-Sun Belt games. SMU (-3.5) won last meeting 44-21 two years ago. Mustangs are 7-5-1 in last 13 games as a road dog, 10-6-1 in last 16 non-AAC games. 

— Georgia won 45-14/31-14 in its last two visits to Vanderbilt; under Smart, Dawgs are 7-4 ATS as a road favorite. Georgia’s OL has 83 returning starts; their junior QB has 28. Vandy has a new QB; their OL has 54 returning starts; Commodores covered once in their last six games as a home underdog. Under Mason, Vandy is 21-19 ATS in SEC play. 

— Missouri (-19) won its last meeting with Wyoming 40-13; QB Bryant was Clemson’s starter at this time LY. Under Odom, Mizzou is 3-3 as a road favorite; their OL has 77 returning starts. Wyoming is 10-6 in last 16 games as a home underdog; they covered three of last nine non-MW games. Cowboys’ OL has 81 returning starts; they’ll use two QB’s. 

— Texas has only eight starters back this year, three on defense; they play LSU next. Longhorns’  OL does have 91 starts returning- their junior QB has 20 starts. Since 2016, Texas is 7-4 ATS outside the Big X. Since 2014, Louisiana Tech is 14-4-1 as a road underdog; their senior QB has 27 starts, their OL has 78 returning starts. 

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

13) NFL scouting isn’t easy; front office types make big money, with their decisions largely deciding whether teams win or lose. 

With that in mind, here are QB’s taken in the 2012 NFL Draft:
Round 1 (1st pick): A. Luck – retired, played 86 games
1 (2): Robert Griffin III- Ravens’ backup
1 (8): Ryan Tannehill – Titans’ backup
1 (22): Brandon Weeden – out of football
Round 2 (57): Brock Osweiler – out of football

3 (75): Russell Wilson – Super Bowl champ
3 (88): Nick Foles – Super Bowl MVP
4 (102): Kirk Cousins – Vikings’ starter, makes $28M a year

Undrafted: Case Keenum— Redskins’ starter
Kellen Moore- Cowboys’ offensive coordinator

12) Golfers Dustin Johnson/Lucas Glover tied for last at the TOUR Championship Sunday; they both went home wth a check for $400,000. Pretty solid consolation prize. 

11) Robbie Ray threw five shutout innings in Arizona’s 5-2 win in Milwaukee Sunday; he faced 21 batters, threw 103 pitches, which is an awful lot for a guy who didn’t allow a run. Usually the average pitches per batter is 3.6 or 3.7, not 5.0+. 

10) Major League ballfields need more 8-foot high outfield fences; the most exciting play in baseball is an outfielder trying to rob the hitter of a home run.

9) Off the top of my bald head, I‘m thinking that the Broncos, Colts, Vikings will all be bucking the NFL’s pass-happy trend and will try to run the ball more this season. 

Vic Fangio and Mike Zimmer are defensive coaches; defensive guys like to run the ball to protect their defense. Indianapolis is breaking Jacoby Brissett in as the new QB; they’ll try and lighten his load by depending on their improved offensive line and moving the ball on the ground. 

8) Remember the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the kid with the Detroit Red Wings’ jersey who was Ferris’ friend? Haven’t seen that actor in 33 years that I know of, but he showed up on my TV in the HBO series Succession, which is about a horrendous bunch of rich people. 

He wears a suit now, instead of the Gordie Howe jersey. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— A’s DFA’d OF Nick Martini, brought up OF Seth Brown from AAA.
— A’s also put OF Stephen Piscotty (ankle) on the IL. 

6) Why would FOX hire Urban Meyer as a studio analyst? The man has no personality, seems incapable of humor. He was awful analyzing games on ESPN. Don’t understand this. 

5) I wonder if dogs enjoy having their pictures taken as much as it looks like they’re enjoying it.

4) Kansas City Chiefs signed QB Matt Moore to back up Patrick Mahomes; Chad Henne broke his ankle last weekend, so KC needed a solid backup, and Moore is that. 

3) Over the last 25 months:
— Baltimore Ravens are 12-0 in exhibition games, Atlanta is 0-12.
— Ravens are 19-14 in regular season/playoffs; Atlanta is 18-16.

Some teams just try harder to win preseason games. 

2) We talk about this too much now: “If I ain’t startin’, then I’ll be departin’…..’”

Sophomore QB Jake Haener wasn’t going to be Washington’s starter this year, so he will now transfer. Haener is from Danville, CA; his mom and grandfather both went to college at Washington, but he will leave the Huskies, sit this year out and be eligible to play wherever he goes in both 2020 and 2021. Hard to impress NFL scouts by sitting on the bench. 

Washington’s new QB is Jacob Eason, who bolted to Seattle because he didn’t win the starting job at Georgia (sound familiar?)

1) Turns out that OJ Simpson is in a fantasy football league, and he drafted Andrew Luck an hour before the retirement story broke. Whoops. 

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

13) For 19 of the last 21 years, the Indianapolis Colts have had Peyton Manning/Andrew Luck as their starting QB; they made the playoffs in 15 of those 19 years, going 13-14 in playoff games and playing in two Super Bowls, winning one. 

Both QB’s missed a full year with injury; Colts were 4-12, 2-14 those two seasons.  

12) Hard to keep a secret these days: Bears-Colts were playing in Indianapolis Saturday night when the news broke about Andrew Luck retiring; would be interesting to know who leaked the news. Made it extremely awkward with Luck standing on the sidelines while fans are checking their phones for information. 

Around midnight, I’m watching TV and a commercial runs for NFL Sunday Ticket, and it is Luck and a Colts’ fan wearing a blue #12 jersey. Awkward. 

Later on, I’m watching a replay of the Broncos-Rams game and for a few minutes thats all they were talking about on the broadcast; Rams starters who weren’t playing were on the sidelines looking at their phones and talking, undoubtedly about this very surprising news.  

(Yeah, I know; I watch too much TV)

11) I have one question about the Colts; do they retain Luck’s rights, and if so, for how long? Luck turns 30 next month; what if he decides in January that he misses football and he would like to play again? What happens then? 

Luck is married to a woman who was a gymnast in Europe; what if he decides if traveling the world with her isn’t stimulating or fun enough?  It is a fair question. 

10) My point here is that I’m wondering if Luck could sit out a year or two, then declare himself a free agent when Tom Brady retires and go play for New England. If the Colts retain his rights then that would eliminate that hideous scenario.  

9) Circa Sports in Las Vegas shifted their Colts’ odds this way:
Colts to make playoffs: from YES -180 → NO -215
Colts to win AFC: from +700 → +2100

Colts to win Super Bowl:
From YES +1500 → YES +4500
From NO -2800 → NO -7800

8) Hawai’i 45, Arizona 38— Great ending at 2:20am Sunday morning to this exciting game in paradise; Arizona QB Tate scrambled 30+ yards trying to score the game-tying TD on the last play of the game, but was tackled on the 1-yard line as time ran out. 

Arizona drove the ball 81 yards in 0:51 to try and tie the game, but they needed 82 yards.

7) Baseball stuff:
— Indians put 3B Jose Ramirez (hand) on the IL.
— Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval (elbow) is out for the year.
— Arizona put OF David Peralta on the IL.
— Cubs put P Derek Holland (wrist) on the IL. 

6) Detroit Tigers recently had a 58-game stretch where they didn’t win consecutive games; since 1907, that is the 9th-longest streak in the major leagues. 

5) One thing that was drummed into my head watching the Cardinal-Viking game Saturday; Minnesota has a depth problem at cornerback. Viking TV guys were doing the game and they mentioned it a lot. When home TV guys criticize the home team, you know there’s a problem.

4) Underrated weird baseball thing; Dodgers C Russell Martin has pitched in two games this year when LA had the lead, 18-5 and 14-1. Is their pitching staff that overworked? 

3) Miami Marlins vs Philly this season: 9-7
Miami Marlins vs rest of NL East: 11-36

2) Remember Warrick Dunn, the running back for the Buccaneers? 

Dunn’s mother was a New Orleans police officer who was shot/killed in the line of duty when Dunn was in high school. He’s used his platform as an NFL star to pay for the construction of 145 houses for single moms. 145 houses is a lot of money raised/donated. 

1) This was SuperContest weekend at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas; they got over the 2,000 mark in contestants, at $1,500 a pop. First place is expected to be over $1.5M— you pick five NFL games a week against the spread. 

Other casinos also have contests; Golden Nugget has one where you pick seven games a week, but they can be college or pro games. Circa also has a contest. 

If you like football and you like to gamble, a football weekend in Las Vegas should definitely be on your bucket list.

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a surprising day……

14) My quick thoughts on Andrew Luck’s bombshell retirement from the NFL:

I’ll preface this by saying that retiring/playing is entirely Luck’s decision, none of our business, but fact of the matter is, the Colts are probably worth at least $1B and Luck was the most important guy in the franchise. As Al Pacino said to Jamie Foxx in Any Given Sunday……..

“You’re the goddamn quarterback!!!!….you know what that means?!?!?! Its the top spot kid. Its the guy who takes the fall, the leader of the team…..”

— Retiring on August 24 is horrendous timing. Not good, no bueno.
— He missed all of 2017 with an injury, missed nine games in 2015.
— Luck played six years in the NFL, was 53-33 in regular season, 4-4 in playoff games.
— Going 4-4 in NFL playoff games is no small feat; some other QB’s playoff records:
Dan Fouts 3-4
Joe Namath 2-1
Tony Romo, Ken Anderson 2-4
Matthew Stafford 0-3
Jim Hart 0-2
Kirk Cousins 0-1
Archie Manning 0-0

— Luck is leaving $70M on the table ($23.3M a year from 2019-21).
— Jacoby Brissett is now the Colts’ starting quarterback; the new backup will probably be Chad Kelly, who is Jim Kelly’s nephew.
— Can you imagine the people who drafted Luck in fantasy leagues or had futures bets on Indianapolis this year? Yikes.
— I wish Andrew Luck well; we all deserve to be happy/healthy. I’d have to hate my job pretty badly to walk away from $70M. Hopefully this will bring him peace.

13) NFL regular season needs to start soon, just to stop the tidal wave of fantasy football notes and opinions that swamp social media/cable TV every summer. 

Here’s a hint about what will happen in Week 1 of the NFL: 

NO ONE KNOWS!!!! Not me, not you, not the nitwits selling tout services, not the players/coaches themselves. 

No one knows, and that is why it is so interesting. 

12) Another reason college/NFL games have to start; ESPN2 televised freakin’ high school football games Friday. Right now, Dutch Fork leads Mallard Creek 7-0 as I type this, and I don’t know which state either school is in, though one is North Carolina, the other South Carolina. 

11) Tennessee Titans’ LT Taylor Lewan has been suspended four games for violating NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. Titans open the season in Cleveland. 

10) Singer Rod Stewart once said that the next time he was thinking about getting married, instead he was going to go out, find a woman he hates, then buy her a house. I think he was joking. 

Stewart has eight children by five different women.

9) I didn’t know that Sacramento Kings’ coach Luke Walton was named after Maurice Lucas, who was Bill Walton’s teammate on that great Portland team that won the 1977 NBA title. 

Bill Walton mentioned that when he was on the White Sox-Angels game last week.

8) Mike Yastrzemski hit 17 homers in his first 75 games for the Giants, just like Willie Mays did. 

7) Uniforms for Players’ Weekend aren’t good; the normal uniforms are just fine. Creating another set of merchandise to put in your next catalog in order to suck some more money out of consumers isn’t a great idea.

— What is the point of having names/numbers on back of an all-white uniform?
— Pitcher for the team wearing the white uniform cannot wear an all-white hat, so they had to make equally terrible looking black hats.
— Best part is that players can wear whatever shoes they like, so there are lot of weird colored shoes being worn. 

6) Strange story of the day: NASA is examining a claim that an astronaut improperly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station. 

She allegedly committed this crime while in outer space; who do you have on the jury for this trial, Mr Spock and Captain Kirk?

5) Orioles GM Mike Elias fired 11 members of the team’s scouting department and front office as part of an effort to turn around a team in the early stages of a major rebuild. 

4) Baseball stuff:
— Milwaukee DFA’d P Jhoulys Chacin, their Opening Day starter
— Atlanta signed C Francisco Cervelli, who had been dumped by Pittsburgh
— Miami OF Brian Anderson broke his hand, is out for the year. 

3) Team USA was -$500 to win the FIBA World Cup before they lost that exhibition game in Australia Saturday; they’ve been bet down to -$150 since then. 

2) Never heard of Seth Moulton until he announced he was running for President; his attempt didn’t go too well, and he dropped out of the race this week. But Seth Moulton deserves to be recognized for what he’s done for this country: 

Seth Moulton is a United States Marine who chose military service after graduating from Harvard. He was a platoon leader during his four tours in Iraq, during which he earned the Bronze Star and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for Valor.

This a guy who is worthy of all of our respect. Thank you for your service, Mr Moulton. 

1) Washington Nationals have led in the 8th inning or later in each of their last 18 games, going 14-4 in those games. 

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

13) We start today with a quick story……..

Back in the late 90’s, I coached Little League, 10-12 year olds. Did it for four years, was an interesting experience. Kids were mostly fine; parents, not so much. 

My last two years, we had a very good team; there was this one team we always beat, and the guy who coached that team wasn’t happy about it, especially since most of the games were fairly close. 

One day, we’re up two runs late in the game, and his third baseman makes a couple errors in a row; teams had 12 kids on them and everybody has to play, so six kids played the whole game, and six played three innings each. His third baseman was a 12-year old who was a pretty good athlete; we didn’t understand why the kid was a 3-inning player, but he was and he was having a bad day. 

12) So the coach is getting on the kid pretty good; their dugout is right by third base and he isn’t letting up— we can all hear the stuff he is saying. 

Finally, the kid takes a couple steps toward the dugout, looks at the coach and yells very loudly:

“HEY!!! You’re the one who put me here!!!” and goes back to his position. 

One of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, just the way the kid said it, with disdain for this adult who couldn’t deal with losing a Little League game. Tremendous.

11) I usually enjoy HBO’s Hard Knocks, but I’m just freakin’ sick of Jon Gruden; he seems like kind of a jerk, and he’s been overexposed on TV. Go coach your team (at $10M a year) and be quiet. Thought HBO would wait until next year to feature the Raiders, since they move to Las Vegas in 2020, but I‘m guessing next year will be the Chargers’ turn. 

10) This is coaching in 2019:

— Miami Dolphins’ coach Brian Flores says that veteran WR Kenny Stills hasn’t been playing well enough in camp.
— Monday, Stills ripped Jay-Z about his social justice partnership with the NFL.
— Tuesday, Flores played eight consecutive Jay-Z songs during practice.
— Why would a rookie coach troll one of his better players?

“……So that was the challenge — to get open, catch the football and make plays for this team, regardless of what’s going on outside of this building.”

Flores spent the last 16 years working for the Patriots, but I’m guessing he didn’t get that move from the Bill Belichick playbook. 

9) Speaking of the Dolphins, whatever they do is their own business, but why the bleep would they start Ryan Fitzpatrick over Josh Rosen?

— Fitzpatrick will be 37 in November; Rosen is 22.
— Fitzpatrick is 50-75-1 as a starter, will become first player EVER to throw passes for eight different NFL teams. He’s playing for his sixth team in eight years.
— Rosen’s head coach got fired the last two years (UCLA, Cardinals), not exactly a ringing endorsement of the QB, but don’t they have to find out who it is they traded for?
—- Fitzpatrick didn’t even get a football scholarship in college (he went to Harvard) and is old enough that he played for Mike Martz back when Martz coached the Rams. 

8) I used to spend a lot of my spring/early summer researching college basketball, because it would pay off in November, but the way the sport is now, I wait until about now to being my research because college basketball has very little continuity from year-to-year now.

The most talented players stay in college for about ten minutes, then bolt to the NBA; kids are always transferring (last year’s average was over two per team in D-I), so coaches are mostly patching teams together one year at a time. The best players from low majors often skip off to bigger-money schools, leaving their old schools in a lurch.

Makes for a very busy September/October, but thats the way things are now. Maybe when they let kids jump from high school to the NBA again, things will become a little more settled, but I wouldn’t count on it.

7) After I wrote #8, I saw an interview with Billy Packer online; the 80-year old former CBS analyst has some different opinions about stuff, but about college basketball he basically echoed what I said, that the better players don’t progress from freshman to seniors, because the better players are in the NBA before they’re 20. 

6) One survey I read on-line tabbed Texas A&M (Buzz Williams) and Nebraska (Fred Hoiberg) as the two best new coaching hires in college basketball this season. I’d throw Eric Musselman (Arkansas) into that mix, but no one asked me.

5) Baseball stuff:
— Angels activated SS Andrelton Simmons from the IL
— Bryce Harper is on the paternity list this weekend.
— Tampa Bay 2B Brandon Lowe (hip) is out for the season

4) Kemba Walker scored 23 points as Team USA beat host Australia 102-86 in an exhibition game before 51,218 fans in a soccer stadium in Melbourne.

3) Most profitable starting pitchers this season ($100/start):
— Domngoo German, NYY 17-4, +$1,215
— Ivan Nova, CWS 14-12, +$1,166
— Lucas Giolito, CWS 17-9, +$1,130
— Brandon Woodruff, Mil, 16-4, +$1,097
— Clayton Kershaw, LA, 18-4, +$1,089

White Sox are 31-21 when Nova/Giolito start, 27-48 when someone else starts. 

2) Least profitable starting pitchers this season ($100/start):
— Jacob deGrom NYM, 10-15, -$1,443
— Tyler Mahle Can, 4-15, -$1,038
— Max Scherzer Wash, 10-11, -$989
— Matt Boyd, Det, 8-18, -$982
— Jhoulys Chacin Mil, 6-13, -$927

1) Last five years, NFL divisional underdogs are 11-2-1 vs spread in Week 1.

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

13) MGM took two huge bets on the Astros Wednesday:
$55,000 on Houston -$550 to win $10,000
$63,520 on Houston -$575 to win $11,000

Another bookmaker reported from Las Vegas on this game:
“Under our Listed Pitchers market, we have $10 on the Tigers. Literally. And $60K on the Astros.”

12) If you wagered $100 on the Astros in each of Justin Verlander’s last three starts, you’d be out a total of $1,170. Not good.

Verlander has allowed 57 runs this season; 40 of them scored on home runs. 

11) I’m anxious to see what the sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Schenectady will be like when college football has its first full Saturday on August 31st. Would expect pretty big crowds, and the sportsbook is not a big area, but they do have lot of betting kiosks, so that should help. 

10) SLS Las Vegas will officially become Sahara Las Vegas on August 29; the SLS used to be the Sahara- the original Sahara Hotel & Casino opened in 1952 with 240 rooms. It grew to more than 1,700 rooms after several add-ons and a final renovation in 2000.

I stayed there once, in 2015; good eating places, the tightest video poker machines ever— asked a bartender if anyone ever won there (I couldn’t win a single hand for like an hour). No sports book to speak of, just a counter to bet games. Beer garden was pretty popular. 

My room was so small it made me laugh; seriously. They had mirrors all over, to make the room look bigger, even on the ceiling— the last damn thing I want to see while I’m laying in bed is me. 

Pretty good place for eating/shopping, but not my kind of place. 

9) Raiders 22, Packers 21— This game was played in Winnipeg; NFL fields are shorter than CFL fields, and the turf in one end zone where the goalposts usually are for Blue Bomber games was a little screwed up, so the teams played on an 80-yard field and there were no kickoffs. 

Next week’s Hard Knocks should be pretty interesting. 

8) Red Sox 5, Royals 4 (10)— This was the completion of a suspended game from August 7; Brock Holt got the game-winning hit. 

Royals lost in Baltimore Wednesday night, then flew to Boston for this, which lasted a total of 11 pitches, and then flew to Cleveland, where they’ll likely lose more games this weekend. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— Colorado put P Kyle Freeland (leg) on the IL.
— Pirates released C Francisco Cervelli
— Mets DFA’d SS Ruben Tejada. 

6) As of Thursday night, 60% of money wagered on Saturday’s Miami-Florida (-7.5) game was on the Gators, while 69% of the money on the Hawai’i-Arizona (-11) game is on the Rainbows. 

5) Ravens 26, Eagles 15— Baltimore has now won 16 preseason games in a row (13-2 vs spread), but 40-year old Josh McCown came off the bench and completed 17-24 passes for 192 yards and two TD’s, so Philly has their backup QB. 

Game was stopped with 11:54 left (weather) and never resumed, so sides/totals wagers are refunds, which is a bitter pill for Baltimore backers.

4) Major League Baseball is prohibiting major league and minor league ballplayers from participating in the Venezuelan winter league this year, because our country recently placed an embargo on Venezuela. 

Jose Altuve, Felix Hernandez, Pablo Sandoval, Ronald Acuna, Gleyber Torres, Ender Inciarte and Avisail Garcia are all from Venezuela; strong baseball country. 

3) Bob Cousy received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Thursday night; Cousy, 91, won six NBA titles in his 13 years playing with the Celtics. He was MVP of the NBA in 1957, and also was a decent actor— he was Western U’s athletic director in the excellent movie Blue Chips. 

Cousy was the only son of poor French immigrants living in New York City during the Depression; he spoke French only for the first five years of his life. Cousy’s father served in the German army during World War I. 

2) Baltimore Orioles gave up their 259th home run this season Thursday, breaking the all-time single-season record previously held by the 2016 Reds. 

1) ACC Network made its debut Thursday; it is channel 612 on DirecTV, right next to the Big 14 (610) and SEC (611) channels but nowhere near the Pac-12 Network, since DirecTV doesn’t carry that station. 

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

13) Tom Brady has won six Super Bowls, Joe Montana won four, but to me, John Elway is the best QB I’ve ever seen. Just my opinion.

12) Raiders-Packers play an exhibition game Thursday night in Winnipeg, Manitoba; not really sure why, but it keeps the baseball infield in Oakland in slightly better shape. Wonder how the folks at Hard Knocks feel about trekking to Canada for a few days. 

11) One thing about interleague play; it occasionally allows the schedule gurus to keep road teams in the same city for a week at a time. Indians have been in NYC for the last week; A’s were in Chicago for a week earlier this month. Makes life on the road a little easier. 

10) Rays 7, Mariners 6— Tampa Bay scored twice in bottom of 9th inning. 

9) Just when you thought the world couldn’t get stranger.
From the New York Post:

“Major League Baseball sent a memo on Monday warning about the “very real risk” of over-the-counter sexual enhancement pills, after at least two players have blamed them for positive PED tests so far this year. 

The memo says the pills in question are “often contaminated with prohibited and unsafe ingredients” including anabolic steroids. It reminded players that anyone who tests positive for a banned substance is subject to discipline by the league — regardless of how it got into their system.”

Alrighty then. 

8) Detroit 2, Houston 1- Astros (-$550) were biggest favorite in a major league game in at least 15 years. Veteran bookmaker Chris Andrews has been in the business 40+ years; he said they were the biggest favorite he could remember.  

7)  Baseball stuff:
— Astros put SS Carlos Correa (back) on the IL.
— Pirates put P Chris Archer (shoulder) on IL.
— Rockies put P Jon Gray (foot) on IL. 

6) Freshman Bo Nix was named Auburn’s starting QB; he is the first true frosh QB to start the season opener for Auburn since 1946. 

5) Every team in baseball could have taken Gio Urshela, Mike Yastrzemski or Aristides Aquino last winter in the Rule 5 Draft; all three are productive big leaguers right now.

4) Houston’s Yordan Alvarez (22) is the youngest player to walk four times in a game since Barry Bonds (21) in 1986.

3) 85-year-old talk show host Larry King filed for divorce this week from his 7th wife, Shawn King, after 22 years of marriage. 

Forgot who said this, but I remember reading this a long time ago:
“Second marriages are a triumph of hope over experience.”

Trivia: None of Larry King’s first three marriages lasted longer than two years. 

2) 11 of last 14 years, at least one Week 1 NFL underdog of +$200 or more has won SU:
Bengals +$375 at Seattle
Redskins +$325 at Philly
Giants +$285 at Dallas
Texans +$250 at New Orleans
Steelers +$220 at New England

1) XFL’s Seattle Dragons might have a small problem with their new logo, since it looks almost exactly the same as UAB’s Blazer logo. 

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

13) Baseball teams with biggest drops in attendance this season:
501,090— Toronto
490,948— Seattle
350,168— San Francisco
241,173— Washington
195,516— Cleveland
192,168— Detroit
184,254— Baltimore
171,863— Bronx

There is no reason for fans of pathetic teams (Tigers/Orioles) to go to games; Giants are likely to miss playoffs for third year in a row and Bruce Bochy is retiring. Toronto/Seattle are just bad teams, though Blue Jays have nucleus of good young players. Nationals/Indians are having strong second halves, so their numbers figure to improve. 

12) Baseball teams with biggest rises in attendance this season:
483,396— Philadelphia
245,025— Minnesota
158,287— White Sox
153,523— Cincinnati
153,005— San Diego
126,293— Dodgers

Phillies/Padres signed big stars and sold a lot of tickets; Twins are surprising contenders. No idea why White Sox/Reds have better numbers. Dodgers hit 3,000,000 fans for 8th year in row, earlier in the season than ever before. 

11) Baltimore Orioles were -$129 favorites over Kansas City Monday, -$118 Tuesday, only the 5th/6th times in 126 games the Orioles have been favored this season. Miami Marlins have been favored in only five games this season. 

10) Dodgers (48,661 fans/game) lead MLB in attendance; Marlins (10,047) are last. 

9) Baseball stuff:
— Braves signed OF Billy Hamilton to use mainly as a pinch-runner.
— Chris Sale’s (elbow) season is over; it is hoped he can avoid Tommy John surgery.
— Indians shut down P Corey Kluber’s rehab (oblique). 

8) Arkansas State football coach Blake Anderson is taking a leave of absence from the team; his wife Wendy passed away this week, after a bout with cancer. Defensive coordinator David Duggan will take over coaching duties.

7) USC isn’t in college football’s preseason top 25 for the first time since 2000, Pete Carroll’s first year with the Trojans. USC got only one vote for the AP top 25, UCLA didn’t get any, while Appalachian State got five, which seems a little weird.

6) Nebraska was 4-8 last year but is #25 in the preseason poll this year; thats a lot of faith in coach Scott Frost, who is in his second season coaching the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is 23-27 the last four years, since they fired Bo Pelini.  

5) There are already 1,633 people signed up for the Westgate SuperContest (at $1,500 a pop); entrants pick five NFL games a week against the spread. Winner makes over a million bucks.

4) Of the first 31 calls challenged by NFL coaches this preseason, only five were reversed.

3) Refs called two false-start penalties on Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray Thursday, for the abrupt clap Murray uses before the snap- they better get that stuff figured out before September 8th. They should’ve figured this out in mimi-camp, but they didn’t.

2) Josh McCown’s football career path:
2002-05- Arizona Cardinals
2006- Detroit Lions
2007- Oakland Raiders
2008- Miami Dolphins
2008-09- Carolina Panthers
2010- Hartford Colonials (UFL)
2011- San Francisco 49ers
2011-13- Chicago Bears
2014- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2015-16- Cleveland Browns
2017-18- New Jersey Jets
July 2019- ESPN’s studio
August 2019- Philadelphia Eagles

1) What would happen if an NFL team wanted to sign a women’s soccer player to be their new kicker? Carli Lloyd drilled a 55-yard FG at Eagles’ practice Tuesday. 

Tuesday’s Den: 13 of my all-time favorite TV shows…….

13 of my favorite TV shows (in alphabetical order):
— Batman— When you’re six years old, and in the opening credits every week, they show “WHAP!!! POW!!! BIFF!!!” and your name is Biff, this quickly becomes a favorite show. 

The villains were some pretty big stars back then (Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Milton Berle, Vincent Price, Liberace, Ethel Merman)

I haven’t seen much of the Batman movies that have been made over the years, but the TV show had some humor; one week there was a 3-foot Martian on the loose in Gotham City, and Robin blurts out “Holy interplanetary yardstick, Batman!!!” Good stuff. 

— Billions— Showtime series about a hedge fund manager who pushes the boundaries of the law while his marriage falls apart. His arch-enemy is a prosecutor in NYC who is into S&M and his wife is his dominatrix— the wife is also the psychiatrist for the hedge fund manager’s company. 

Small world. This show is really well-written- the next season will probably run after football season. 

Trivia: Paul Giamatti plays the prosecutor; he is the son of former baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti. I suggested a cameo role for Pete Rose, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

— CSI— I spent a good chunk of my work career searching fingerprints and working for the NY State Division of Criminal Justice, so I enjoyed all the CSI shows, but especially the one set in Las Vegas— the actors seemed to have a chemistry working together. 

One of my weirder ideas (a teacher friend of mine scoffed at this) is that CSI should be taught to all high school kids, so they realize how difficult it is to get away with crimes, so maybe there would be fewer crimes. What could it hurt?

— Green Acres— As a kid, I spent lot of hours watching Green Acres re-runs; my dad would walk into the room, say “Why the hell are you watching that?”, but within five minutes, he’d be sitting there laughing harder than me and would leave the room before my mother came in and saw the both of us laughing. She wasn’t a big fan of Hank Kimball or Arnold Ziffel. 

— Law and Order— 20 years, 456 episodes, a great launching point for lot of acting careers, not to mention the spinoff shows that branched off this original show. 

Take Billions; there are 32 actors who have appeared in 12+ episodes of Billons; 14 of those 32 actors appeared in at least one episode of Law and Order, and two others were in Law and Order SVU, and that doesn’t count Eric Bogosian, who was in Law and Order: Criminal Intent for 61 episodes, but was only in 10 episodes of Billions (so far). 

— Magnum PI— I’ve never been to Hawai’i, but if I ever went, would like to visit Robin Masters’ estate; I’m told you can visit there, it is kind of a museum or something. 

One of the best episodes was when Frank Sinatra played a retired New York City cop whose granddaughter was murdered— this was near the end of both the series and Sinatra’s career. 

The overriding themes of the show were that great friends will do all kinds of stuff for each other, and if you’re really good looking and drive a Ferrari, women will like you 🙂

— M*A*S*H— Years later, after watching re-runs of this show on our local channel 10 and the Boston channel for hours at a time, it dawned on me that this was actually a very sad show, with humor/jokes masking the grotesque sadness of wartime Korea. 

The McLean Stevenson episodes were the best; he was Colonel Henry Blake for the first 75 episodes, and a lot of them were classics, just funny as hell. 

— Mr Ed— This show ran on network TV from 1961-66, so I never saw it until the re-runs came on at 4:30 weekdays on a local channel in the early 70’s. Mr Ed was a talking horse, but he only talked to Wilbur Post, an architect who worked at home but never actually seemed to work. 

Mr Ed was a big Dodger fan; his favorite player was OF Willie Davis. In one episode, the horse takes batting practice against Sandy Koufax, and hits a ball off the wall at Dodger Stadium, with the bat held in his mouth. A fun show, not necessarily a realistic one. 

— Odd Couple— As a kid, Oscar Madison was one of my heroes; a sportswriter who always spilled food on his clothes but was a good natured guy who somehow dated a doctor or one of the Pidgeon sisters. 

To this day when I see my cousin’s husband, we recite lines from Odd Couple episodes; when they owned a greyhound racing dog , or appeared on Password (a game show), or when Oscar dated a princess from some obscure European country “You bought her a salty pretzel; oh, boy!!!” Great stuff. 

— Ray Donovan— The most violent program on this list; just about everybody on this Showtime series that isn’t related to the Donovans eventually winds up dead. 

Ray Donovan is a fixer for rich people, but he can’t fix his own family; his wife passes away from cancer, and the last time we saw him, he was still struggling with that. 

Live Schreber plays Ray, Jon Voight plays his father (a genuine creep); they’ve had guest stars like Susan Sarandon, James Woods, Wendell Pierce, Hank Azaria. Alan Alda, C Thomas Howell. 

Very good show but also very violent. 

— Suits— This show is winding down its last season on USA Network; it is about a law firm that hired a young guy with a photographic memory who had one small problem— he is a college dropout who never went to law school, but he gets paid to take bar exams for other people. 

The show had to change directions because one of the actresses (Meghan Markle) moved to England after she married Prince Harry in real life. Her character was married to Mike (the fraudulent lawyer) so they got written out of the last couple years of the show. 

— West Wing— Martin Sheen plays the President in this show; his cabinet included Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, John Spencer— great cast.

Actor Duke Hill was in both West Wing and Suits; Mary Louise Parker was in this and is also in Billions. Alan Alda was in this, Ray Donovan and of course, M*A*S*H

Jimmy Smits, Mary MacCormack, Tim Matheson, Gary Cole, just a ton of excellent actors. 

In one episode, President Bartlet has to throw out the first pitch at an Orioles’ game, but he never played ball, so one of his aides has to teach him how to throw a baseball in a hallway in the White House, where an errant toss breaks an expensive vase. 

— White Shadow— Ken Howard plays a washed-up NBA player who becomes a high school basketball coach in Los Angeles. Show only lasted three years, because well, high school kids graduate so they would’ve had to turn most of the cast over every other year. 

The basketball scenes were really well-done; Gwyneth Paltrow’s father was the creator of the show. Lot of the issues they tackled in this show were issues that real high school in the inner city had to deal with. Ken Howard was great as Coach Reeves; he wasn’t some all-knowing guy; he had flaws but he fought for his kids and they respected him for it (most of the time). 

Teams’ record in series

Teams’ records in series (road/home)

Ariz        9-8-4……..9-9-1
Atl          13-5-2……12-4-4
Cubs      5-14-2……14-1-5
Reds       4-9-7……..9-6-5
Colo       5-12-3……12-5-3
LA          11-6-3…….16-3-1
Miami   6-11-2……6-12-3
Milw      7-11-2……10-6-4
Mets      7-12-3……10-5-3
Philly     8-8-3…….11-8-2
Pitt         8-11-2…….7-9-3
StL          8-11-2……10-6-3
SD          8-10-2…….7-11-2
SF           9-9-2……..8-9-3
Wash     8-8-4……..11-8-1

Balt        4-14-2…….3-14-3
Bos            11-9……….6-7-6
ChiSox    6-10-4………8-7-5
Clev         9-8-5……..11-6-4
Det          3-12-5……..3-16-1
Astros     11-8-2……..15-1-2
KC           2-15-2……..5-13-2
Angels    9-10-3………9-9-1
Twins     11-6-3………11-6-3
NYY         9-5-4………16-3-3
A’s            9-8-4………13-4-3
Seattle     9-11-1………6-12-2
TB           13-4-3………10-7-3
Texas       4-11-5………11-5-4
Tor            7-9-4………4-14-2

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

13) We mentioned last week how Ronald Acuna hit a ball off the wall against the Mets but only got a single out of it, because he thought it was a homer and jogged to first base. Well, it happened again Sunday, and this time the Braves took action. 

Acuna singled in the third inning Sunday but it should’ve been a double, and he was pulled from the game against the Dodgers with Atlanta trailing 3-1. 

12) Antonio Brown wasn’t at Raiders practice Sunday because he is upset that the NFL hasn’t approved his helmet; Oakland’s front office appears to be running out of patience with Brown.

Steelers took a $21M salary cap hit last winter to dump Brown for two mid-level draft picks, and now it is very clear why. 

11) Sounds like Case Keenum will be Washington’s starting QB on September 8th, with Colt McCoy not 100% and Dwayne Haskins being a rookie. 

Here is Keenum’s career path:
2012-14— Went 4-8 as a starter with Houston.
2015-16— Went 7-7 as a starter for the Rams, was replaced by Jared Goff.
2017— Went 11-3 as the starter for Minnesota, split two playoff games.
2018— Went 6-10 as the starter for Denver.
2019— Starter for Washington; will eventually be replaced by Haskins. 

Coming into this year, Keenum has earned roughly $22M in salary, so despite his getting the short end of the stick in terms of regular employment, his bank account is doing just fine. 

10) To make room for Josh Gordon, New England cut WR Dontrelle Inman, who three years ago caught 58 balls for 810 yards and four TD’s when he played for the Chargers. Am guessing that Inman won’t be out of work too long. 

9) Didn’t realize that Rams-Cowboys tilt Saturday night was the first NFL preseason game in Hawai’i since 1976. They had the Pro Bowl in Hawai’i most years, but this was better than those. 

8) Phil Mickelson shot 71 Sunday, finished T48 at the BMW tournament, after the hotel he was staying in was struck by lightning and caught on fire Sunday morning. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— Reds put 1B Joey Votto (back) on the IL.
— Colorado P Scott Oberg (blood clot in arm) is out for the year.
— Nationals put P Sean Doolittle (knee) on the IL.
— Bryce Harper (dehydration) left the Phillies’ game after the 5th inning. 

6) Red Sox P Chris Sale is visiting Dr James Andrews today for a second opinion, which is rarely good news, not that Dr Andrews isn’t a good guy. Pitchers who visit the good doctor often get their arms operated on shortly thereafter. 

5) Indians’ ace Corey Kluber hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 1; be broke his forearm. His third rehab start was cut off after one inning Sunday, because of abdominal tightness that the team trainers did not want him attempting to pitch through. Not a good sign. 

4) Liberty football coach (former Ole Miss coach) Hugh Freeze had surgery on Friday to address a potentially life-threatening strand of staph infection; he’s missed a week of fall camp already. Doctors say if his conditioned hadn’t been addressed, the infection could’ve reached his heart and that wouldn’t have been good, but now he is expected to fully recover. 

3) From the New York Post: A South Dakota woman who recently gave birth to triplets said she didn’t discover she was pregnant until she went to the hospital with what she thought were kidney stones.

The woman has two other children, but still didn’t know she was pregnant; the triplets’ names are Blaze, Gypsy and Nikki. 

2) Sunday was a strong day for celebrity birthdays: Roberto Clemente, Robert Redford, Patrick Swayze, Denis Leary, Edward Norton (Worm in Rounders), Christian Slater, Martin Mull and Shelley Winters. 

1) RIP to former NFL running back Cedric Benson, 36, who died in a motorcycle accident this weekend. Benson was the #4 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, played eight years in the league, and has the 6th-most rushing yards in I-A college football history.

RIP Jack Whitaker, 95, who passed away Sunday. When I was a little kid, he was host of the NFL studio show on CBS. I’m pretty sure he is the person who introduced the term “sack” on a pregame segment for CBS. He was also a World War II veteran. RIP, sir, 

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

13) White Sox TV analyst Steve Stone is on vacation this week, so play-by-play guy Jason Benetti recruited various replacements, one of whom was Bill Walton, who worked Friday night’s game in Anaheim. As usual, I learned a lot from listening, and this is without taking notes:

— South America is the continent with the most bird species living on it.
— There are 129 community colleges in California.
— There are more people living in Orange County than in 21 states.
— “Happy Birthday to You” is the most widely-sung song in this country.

And this historical gem; when Marvin Miller was elected Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966, the guy he beat out for the job is someone we’ve all heard of: Richard M. Nixon. 

12) Philadelphia Eagles did a very smart thing and got QB Josh McCown to un-retire from the NFL and join them as a backup QB. McCown had recently started a studio job with ESPN- he is guaranteed $2M this year, can earn up to $5.4M with incentives. 

McCown is 40 years old, has a career 23-53 W-L record in the NFL. 

11) Which reminds me that a couple years ago, the reason CBS hired Tony Romo as an analyst is that the guy they hired first (Jay Cutler) also un-retired to play for the Dolphins (for $10M) so CBS scrambled for a replacement. Romo is a really, really good TV analyst. 

Still want to hear Cutler, though; he has retired again but is on a reality show with his wife on the E! Channel (Very Cavallari)- he has a dry sense of humor. 

10) Arizona P Alex Young is 4-3, 3.98 in his first nine games with the Diamondbacks; problem for Young is that Arizona was shut out in each of his last three starts. Hard to win that way.

9) Saturday was the 34th day in a row that a major leaguer hit two homers in a game. 

8) Brewers 15, Nationals 14 (14)— Washington blew an 11-8 lead in 9th inning, then Brewers blew leads in 9th, 13th innings before finally winning just before 1am. Teams play again today, about 12.5 hours after this game ended. 

7) Baseball stuff:
— Dodgers P Julio Urias was suspended 20 games by MLB (domestic violence)
— Red Sox put P Chris Sale (elbow) on the IL.
— Colorado put P Chad Bettis (hip) on the IL.
— Braves put OF Ender Inciarte (hamstring) on the IL. 

6) On August 17, 2008, leading 7-3 in the 9th inning in Arlington, the Rays intentionally walked Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded and two out, to pitch to Marlon Byrd (who struck out). 

— Hamilton was great back then (32 homers, 130 RBI)
— Maddon could do no wrong that year; the Rays made it to the World Series. 

Grant Balfour was the pitcher who was told to walk Hamilton, then was taken out of the game; he didn’t look happy when he left the mound. Balfour would later be the A’s closer in 2012-13 when they made the playoffs— he was very good those two years (62 saves). 

5) Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens flew to Tennessee Saturday for Darryl Drake’s funeral, despite it being the same day as a 4 o’clock kickoff for the Browns. Kitchens was the RB coach in Arizona when Drake was the WR coach. 

4) Rays 1, Tigers 0 (13)— Teams combined to score three runs in 22 innings the last two nights. Detroit batters struck out 24 times, with no walks in this game. 

3) Reds 6, Cardinals 1— Rookie Aristides Aquino has 10 homers in his last 11 games; this is a guy that hit .240 with a ,754 OPS in AA ball last season (20 HR’s). Go figure. 

2) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Atlanta-St Louis-Los Angeles. Wild Card: Cubs @ Nationals
AL: New York-Minnesota-Houston. Wild Card: Rays @ Indians

1) There is a suite at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas that costs $100,000 a night; the thing is, they also tack on a $39 resort fee, and $9.99 for Interweb access. You’d think for $100K a night, they’d comp the resort fee, and aren’t Interweb fees supposed to be a part of resort fees? Oy.