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

13) Tony Romo banks $17M a year to stay as a football analyst at CBS. He is very, very good as a game analyst, better than he was as a quarterback.

12) Texas State 87, Tex-Arlington 85, 3 OT’s— Great game on ESPN2; teams combined to go 10-42 on the arc, but they both fought like hell. Bobcats won 5th game in a row, they figure to finish as the #2 seed in Sun Belt tourney, which means a bye into the tourney semi-finals.

I’ve said this before; when ESPN first started 40 years ago, Sun Belt was one of the first leagues to give them games to broadcast. ESPN should have some loyalty and give Sun Belt a regular slot in their game schedule, not just ESPN+. This game was fun to watch,

11) Dayton 82, Davidson 67— Last year, Dayton star Obi Toppin was the first freshman named to the A-14 first-team in 20 years, since a guy at Rhode Island named Lamar Odom.

10) Yale 76, Penn 73— Bulldogs were down by 10 with 1:43 left, outscored Penn 13-0 the rest of the way to send their fans home happy.

Yale stays a game ahead of Harvard/Princeton in Ivy League; they host the Tigers tonight.

9) Wright State 64, Northern Kentucky 62— Raiders clinch regular season title in the Horizon League. Hard to tell how good they are; they’ve played schedule #332 this year, very weak.

8) NC State is on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, with a 17-11 record, 8-9 in ACC games; if they don’t make the tournament, they can look at their two games with North Carolina.

Tar Heels are terrible this year, in last place in the ACC, but they beat NC State twice this year; in between those two wins, North Carolina went 0-7.

7) Solid move by the San Diego Padres, going back to brown/gold uniforms.

6) Arizona Cardinals will give up a home game this fall and play a game in Mexico, against an unnamed opponent. Dolphins are giving up a home game, will play in London.

If you want to host Super Bowls, which is a financial bonanza, then you have to go out of the country and play games now and then, thats part of the deal.

5) During the Arizona-USC game Thursday night, they had one of ESPN’s NBA experts on for a couple segments, because all ESPN does now is relentlessly promote the NBA/NFL. But this guy said something that every young athlete should pay attention to…….

NBA teams monitor the social media accounts of prospects, searching for red flags. This likely goes for many lines of work, where being an imbecile on social media can cost you a job, or a promotion. Be careful what you post, it can haunt you.

4) MLB made umpire Kerwin Danley a crew chief this season, which is amusing, because Danley is a lousy umpire. He is a walking advertisement for people who want robot umpires, and I’m not one of those, but I’d rather have Chuckles the Clown umpire an A’s game than Danley.

3) San Francisco Giants have 40 pitchers, seven catchers in camp; in other words, they’re scrambling to put together a representative roster.

2) Red Sox P Chris Sale (pneumonia) will miss the start of the baseball season.
 
1) Today is February 29, undoubtedly the worst day to have a birthday, since you only have your birthday once every four years. If your birthday is today, when do you celebrate it the other three years? March 1? Feb 28? The closest weekend? 

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

13) Is this the weirdest rule in pro sports?

At every NHL game, an emergency goalie is available to either team, should both their goalies get hurt in that game. It is actually possible for the emergency guy to play for both teams in the same game.

Saturday, both of Carolina’s goalies left the game with injuries, so 42-year-old Dave Ayres came in as the emergency backup goaltender — and stopped 8 of 10 shots to get credit for the Hurricanes’ 6-3 win over the hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. Ayres was paid $500 for the game and was allowed to keep his game-worn jersey.

Ayres is a Zamboni driver and arena maintenance worker for the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. Now he is a celebrity with a great story to tell.

12) Chicago Cubs are starting their own TV network this season, the Marquee Sports Network, which signed on for the first time Saturday afternoon.

The Cubs owning their own TV channel has been a cornerstone of the Ricketts family’s plans to improve the Cubs’ revenue flow since they acquired the ballclub, Wrigley Field and associated properties in 2009.

11) Virginia Commonwealth lost its last four basketball games, is 17-10, 7-7 in A-14 and has slid off the NCAA bubble, for now. This is VCU’s first four-game losing streak in 20 years.

10) Arizona Diamondbacks must be thrilled about this; newly acquired pitcher Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeo events under the alias Mason Saunders and even won $26,560 in a team-roping competition in December.

What could possibly go wrong?

Bumgarner agreed to an $85M, five-year contract with the Diamondbacks in December; he injured his pitching shoulder in 2017 in a dirt bike accident and missed three months of San Francisco’s season. He hasn’t been quite the same since then.

9) An 84-year old lady at an Ole Miss basketball game made a 94-foot putt the length of the basketball court during a timeout in the Rebels’ basketball game, and won herself a new car in the process, as part of an auto dealer’s promotion in the arena.

Was cool how excited the other fans in the arena were for her.

8) One unexpected by-product of the longer 3-point arc in college basketball; decent amount of kids step out of bounds on the sideline as they try to stay behind the arc to catch a pass, or drive to the basket.

7) Upsets:
— Wagner (+6) 75, St Francis 71 OT
— Loyola Md (+4.5) 70, Lafayette 68
— Canisius (+3.5) 57, Manhattan 56

6) Best wishes to Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who had a knee replaced recently and won’t be at the NFL Combine this week.

5) I’ve said this before, but when you listen to really good announce teams, it is like you’re eavesdropping on two friends having a conversation.

In the case of ESPN’s NBA broadcasts with Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, that would be three friends having a conversation. The three pf them are great together.

4) Colorado Buffaloes hired Karl Dorrell as their new football coach; The 56-year old Dorrell was an assistant for the Buffs for six years back in the 90’s, under Bill McCartney, Rick Neuheisel.

3) XFL teams have both white/dark jerseys, unlike the AAF last year, where teams had only one color, which made the league seem like a cheapskate league, which it was.

The point-after conversion options continue to be fascinating; no one knows what the right thing to do is. I’m thinking that going for three points from the 10-yard line is the right play, unless you have a QB who is a good runner, then I might prefer the 2-point option from the 5-yard line.
 
2) XFL trend; Over is 3-0 in Houston games, 1-8 in all the other games.

1) Was listening on TV the other night and Wally Szczerbiak was talking about when he played in the NBA All-Star Game; he mentioned how guys on the winning team make more money than guys on the losing team.

Turns out that guys on the winning team make $100,000 each; guys on losing side make $25,000 each. I did not know that.

Saturday’s Den: Trends that could help you fill out your brackets…….

13) Over last decade, 40 teams made the Final Four; 19 of those won their conference tournament that year. Four of the 19 teams had to win more than three games to win the conference tourney:
2011— UConn 5-0
2012— Louisville 4-0
2018— Michigan 4-0
2019— Auburn 4-0

12) Only four of the 40 teams lost their first conference tourney game:
2010— Michigan State
2016— Syracuse
2017— South Carolina
2019— Texas Tech

7 of 40 teams went W-L in their conference tournament.

11) Seven of last ten years, a #1 seed won the NCAA Tournament.
— In 2016, Villanova won the title as a 2-seed.
— UConn won as a 3-seed in 2011, as a 7-seed three years later.

10) The last seven years, eight teams ranked lower than a 4-seed reached the Final Four; in 2014, UConn was a 7-seed, Kentucky an 8-seed.

9) Last team to win the national title after going unbeaten in conference play? Kentucky in 2012, one of four teams over last decade to make Final Four after going unbeaten in conference games.

8) Last eight years, 27 of 32 Final Four teams were ranked in KenPom’s top 20 before the NCAA Tournament started. 2014 UConn was only one of the five to win the national semifinal; they also won the national title- they were #23.

In 2011, the Final Four had seeds 3-4-8-11, only time in last decade there wasn’t a #1 or #2 seed in Final Four.

7) Only nine of 40 Final Four teams were in top 100 in experience; 12 of 40 teams were outside top 200. Talent outweighs experience.

6) Looking at continuity instead of experience, only 12 of 40 teams ranked in top 100; 14 of 40 teams ranked outside top 200.

5) 14 of 40 Final Four teams ranked in top 100 in forcing turnovers; another 14 ranked outside the top 200.

4) eFG% defense seems like an important category; 33 of last 40 Final Four teams were in top 100 in eFG% defense. 21 of those 33 teams were in the top 50.

3) NCAA Tournament has longer TV commercials, which means that depth isn’t as important; only four of last 40 Final Four teams had benches in top 100 of minutes played. 26 of 40 teams had teams that ranked outside top 200.

They don’t call as many fouls in the NCAA tournament.
 
2) Some in-tournament trends about the eventual national champ:
— Last 14 years, national champ was 12-2 ATS in first round
— Last 18 years, national champ was 16-2 ATS in second round.
— Last 12 years, national champ was 10-2 ATS in regional semis.

1) Of the last 20 defending national champs, 2007 Florida Gators were only team to return to Sweet 16; Florida won consecutive national titles.

Since 2004, the defending national champ is 2-8-1 ATS in its first round game, 3-7 in its second round game, 0-5 ATS in regional semifinals. 

Wednesday’s Den: My plan for major league baseball……..

My plan for major league baseball……..
13) Total geographic realignement; no more American/National Leagues.
Northeast- Mets, Bronx, Phillies, Montreal, Red Sox, Orioles, Nationals, Toronto

South- Braves, Marlins, Rays, Cardinals. Nashville, Astros, Rangers, Royals,

Midwest- Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Tigers, Pirates, Indians, Reds

West- Giants, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Mariners, Rockies, Arizona, Portland.

12) You may have noticed four 8-team divisions, which is 32 teams, not 30. We think that the scheduling would be 1,000 times easier with 32 teams. Plus, we like 27-man rosters year-round, so that would be 84 new major league jobs, which the players’ union will like. 

A’s would move to Portland, which is building a 35,000-seat stadium, Montreal, Nashville get expansion teams.

11) Realignment reduces travel costs, invigorates regional rivalries, which gets more people talking about baseball, which is what the sport needs.

10) My playoffs would look like this:
— Four division winners get first-round byes.
— Wild Card round would be best-of-3 series, all at site of team with better record.
— Semifinal round is best-of-5, World Series is best-of-7.

9) Scheduling:
— Play other seven teams in your division 12 times each (84 games).
— Play teams in other division in your conference six times each (48 games).
— Play teams in one of other divisions three times each (24 games). Alternate those divisions every year.

That is a 156-game schedule; shorter regular season is followed by longer playoffs.

8) Get rid of situational lefties; the 3-batter minimum for relievers is a good rule.

7) Every team should play four Sunday doubleheaders; twinbills are great fun, and we’re trying to grow the game with younger fans. Players would go for this, because every doubleheader means an additional day off.

6) No coaches/managers are allowed on the field during the game, except to see to an injured player. No mound visits, just slows down the game.

5) Get rid of TV blackouts; baseball needs more exposure, not less. People need to see what an excellent game it, they need to learn about it. Blacking out replays of games out is antiquated stuff; young people need to see the game, so they can learn to love it like I do.

4) I’ve been to AAA games with the 30-second clock in between pitches; it isn’t intrusive on the game. Put it in.

3) DH would be the rule for everyone. Watching pitchers hit is useless.

2) If you insist on making the All-Star Game more competitive, make it US vs the World, then you’ll quickly realize that format would be TOO competitive, then go back to East vs West.

1) More teams in playoffs would be fine, but 156 games is fine; that is what baseball is, 156 games in 182 days, a test of stamina and execution and depth. Some people are never going to embrace baseball; MLB needs to make sure they don’t tick off people who already love it. 

Tuesday’s Den: My Mt Rushmore for various things…….

These are my favorite things in certain areas; we all have our own favorites, thats what makes life interesting. Make your own lists, see what you come up with. 

13) Las Vegas hotels:
Vdara, Westgate, SouthPoint, MGM

12) TV shows:
Law & Order, Magnum PI, CSI, Odd Couple

11) TV shows on movie channels:
Billions, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ray Donovan, Roadies

10) Sports movies:
— Moneyball
— Blue Chips
— Any Given Sunday
— Major League

9) Non-sports movies:
— Rounders
— A Star is Born
— Leap of Faith
— The Bodyguard

8) Food:
Pizza, spaghetti/meatballs, scrambled eggs/sausage, chicken parm

7) Current college basketball coaches:
— John Calipari
— Mark Few
— Mike Krzyzewski
— Bob Huggins

6) All-time college basketball coaches:
— John Wooden
— Dean Smith
— Mike Krzyzewski
— Jerry Tarkanian

5) Actresses:
Gina Gershon, Diane Lane., Mimi Rogers, Sela Ward

4) Musicians:
Bob Seger, Billy Joel, Pat Benatar, Faith Hill

3) NFL coaches:
Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, Tom Landry

2) In-person events:
— 2000 NFC title game: Rams 11, Buccaneers 6
— 2008 World Series game: Rays @ Phillies
— Frank Sinatra concert in Albany, 1990
— 2008 Tennessee @ South Carolina football game

1) Bucket List:
— Spring training game, preferably in Arizona
— LSU home football game, on a Saturday night
— A’s home game in Oakland Coliseum
— Rams’ home game in new SoFi Stadium