Wednesday’s Den: Playoff trends for AFC teams

Ravens:
— Since moving from Cleveland, Ravens are 15-10 in the playoffs.
— In their two Super Bowl years, only two of their eight playoff wins were at home.
— Last playoff win was in 2014.
— Ravens are only 3-4 in home playoff games.

Bills:
— Lost their last six playoff games.
— Won AFC four years in row (1990-93); 7 of their 9 playoff wins were at home.
— Their last playoff win? 37-22 over Miami, in ’95.

Bengals:
— 5-14 all-time in playoff games, 0-7 on road.
— Lost two Super Bowls, both to 49ers; 26-21/20-16
— Are 0-12 in playoff games when they score less than 21 points.
— Last playoff win was in 1990.

Browns:
— Lost 36-33 at Pittsburgh in 2002, their only playoff game since they started up the franchise again. Old Browns are now the Ravens.
— Browns led 17-7 at half behind QB Kelly Holcomb, who threw for 429 yards.
— Butch Davis was Cleveland’s coach; Tommy Maddox was Pitt’s QB.

Broncos:
— Elway was 14-7 in playoffs: Manning 5-3 with Denver
— Won 17 of 22 home playoff games.
— Lost last four road playoff games.
— haven’t been in playoffs since 2015.

Texans:
— Are 4-6 in playoffs; 4-2 at home, 0-4 on road.
— All four road losses were 7+ points.
— Made playoffs four of last five years.

Colts:
— Won two Super Bowls, 36 years apart.
— From 1972-94, went 0-4 in playoff games.
— Manning was 9-10 in playoff games, 6-4 at home.
— Luck was 4-4 in playoff games, 2-0 at home.

Jaguars:
— 7-7 in playoff games, 3-1 at home.
— Only home loss was AFC title game in 1999.
— Have made playoffs only once since 2007.

Chiefs:
— Won two Super Bowls, 50 years apart.
— From 1994-2017, were 0-7 in playoff games.
— Since 1970, are 2-8 in road playoff games.
— Scored 39 ppg in three playoff wins last year.

Raiders:
— Are 0-1 in playoff games since losing Super Bowl 17 years ago.
— From 1966-83, went 19-10 in playoff games.
— Since 1984, they’re 6-9 in playoff games.
— Their last road playoff win? 1980, in San Diego.

Chargers:
— Haven’t played a home playoff game since 2009.
— 9-4 in first playoff game of a season.
— 11-13 overall in playoffs: 5-5 at home, 6-7 on road.
— Lost only Super Bowl 49-26 to 49ers in 1994

Dolphins:
— Since 2001, Miami is 0-3 in playoff games.
— Their last Super Bowl was 1984, Dan Marino’s second season.
— Were outscored 101-24 in last four playoff games.
— Won consecutive Super Bowls, in 1972-73.

Patriots:
— 6-5 in Super Bowls, 6-3 under Belichick
— 30-11 in playoffs with Brady, 4-4 in true road games.
— 24 of 32 non-Super Bowl playoff games with Brady were played in Foxboro.
— Won 20 of last 24 home playoff games.

Jets:
— Were last in playoffs in 2010.
— Beat Colts 41-0 in last home playoff game, in 2002. 
— Their last ten playoff games were all on the road.
— Overall, are 4-3 in home playoff games, 7-10 on road.

Steelers:
— Won four Super Bowls in six years in the 70’s.
— Three different head coaches have won Super Bowl with Steelers.
— Won five of their last six home playoff games.
— 20-10 in first playoff game of a season.

Titans:
— Won first two AFL titles, when they were the Houston Oilers.
— Lost 40-7/56-7 to Oakland in first two playoff games of Super Bowl era.
— Haven’t played a home playoff game since 2008.
— Won five of last nine road playoff games. 

2 Lists for Monday: my friend Christy’s favorite movies…….

My friend Christy loves the movies; here are some of her favorites:

Phenomenon – A simple story of a simple man who became extraordinary but never lost sight of what was most important to his heart. He loved, he worked, he played as his heart dictated. Unpretentiously … Soundtrack!

Spitfire Grill- I need to rewatch this one. Near the top of my list because I remember it being a story of strong willed women that struck a cord. I was a young mother when I first saw it and realized how sheltered I was and that reality was beyond the lies I could tell myself about the world happening around me. I also remember the song “There is a Balm in Gillead” that’s sung.

Forrest Gump- Soundtrack! Real life inserted in historical times is/was so innovative… Especially like the story told thru the innocent, forgiving eyes of a love struck optimist. At some point throughout our lives, Forrest lives in each of us. There’s always hope and what Mama teaches!

Gone with the Wind- I saw this for the first time in the theater with my dad and sisters. The only time I can remember going to the movies without mom. My dad loved this movie. My mom loved Dr. Zhivago. I’ve watched both many times.

Remember the Titans- Awesome! Historic! Football! Soundtrack! Need I say more?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind – The first “alien” movie I remember seeing. Loved it!! I remember feeling overwhelmed with Richard Dreyfuss as he tried to explain his “obsession” with shaping mashed potatoes.

The Abyss- Discovery of a new world! Heart stopping adventures. Fantasy mixed with real science and real people … it was incredible to watch the underwater scenes. I was enthralled the first time I watched.

Lord of the Rings- The Hobbit was the first classic I had ever discussed in detail with my best friend in my freshman year in high school. We both loved it! A new world with new types of people who desired the same things, adventures we did. To change the world … Tolkien has always stuck with me.

Kate and Leopold – Time travel, love story, historical perspectives, Hugh Jackman …

Highlander-Immortality, to live thru history, see it and travel thru it.

Les Miserables- Story of hope that came to me when I lost my daughter and my marriage. Life was hard. Jean Valjean’s was harder. This classic brought me hope. Loved the Broadway music! 

Goonies- Adventure and treasure maps with friends!!! It is the quest! Family favorite!

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape- Hard choices in life to be made. I remember the way the family protected one another. Need to rewatch.

Beauty and the Beast – Always my favorite love story, fairy tale. From Phantom of the Opera to Beauty and the Beast the story that lies in the strength of a woman to love past the ugly darkness or walls that hide a man’s heart … to help fight his demons until he sees his worth.  Some consider futile. The journey isn’t for the weak … even the animated version.

Toy Story – Every child has a favorite toy and a world of imagination/dreams that’s built around it.

Monday’s List of 13: Answers to difficult trivia questions…..

13) Who was player-coach of the Detroit Pistons at age 24? He also pitched in 36 games for the Chicago White Sox.

Dave DeBusschere played 12 years in the NBA, was the missing link that made the Knicks a title team in 1969, 1973. 

12) Which TV personality was QB at Louisiana Tech just before Terry Bradshaw?

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson was the starting QB at Louisiana Tech for two years, but didn’t play his senior year.

11) When baseball started divisional play in 1969, which four teams made the playoffs that first season?

Mets, Braves, Orioles, Twins. For some reason, Atlanta was in the NL West. 

10) Oakland A’s won three straight World Series, from 1972-74; Dick Williams managed the A’s in ’72-’73. Who was Oakland’s manager in ’74?

Alvin Dark managed the A’s in 1974-5, also in 1966-67. He won the NL title managing the San Francisco Giants in 1962.  

9) In 1994, Montreal Expos had the best record in the National League when the season ended because of a labor dispute. Who was manager of the Expos back then?

Felipe Alou managed the Expos from 1992-2001. 

8) Everyone knows the first Super Bowl was Packers-Chiefs, Lombardi against Hank Stram. Green Bay played Oakland in Super Bowl II; who coached the Raiders back then?

Jon Rauch went 35-10-1 in three years coaching the Raiders, winning AFL title in ’67, losing title game the next year. Then he left Oakland, went 7-20-1 in two years coaching Buffalo. 

7) What team did Wayne Gretzky play his last NHL game with?

Gretzky scored nine goals, had 53 assists in 70 games for the 1998-99 Rangers. 

6) Nick Saban coached two other college teams, other than LSU/Alabama; which two?

Saban went 9-2 in one year at Toledo, 34-24-1 in five years at Michigan State. 

5) Who scored the first 2-point conversion in the NFL, back in 1994?

Tom Tupa was a P/QB for the Browns in ‘94; he played in college at Ohio State. He started 13 games at QB for the Cardinals, punted for 12 years in the NFL. 

4) Who succeeded Jerry Tarkanian as basketball coach at UNLV?

Rollie Massimino coached two years at UNLV. 

3) Which NBA team drafted Bill Russell?

St Louis Hawks drafted Russell, immediately traded him to the Celtics for Cliff Hagan, Ed Macauley. 

2) Who was Michael Jordan’s first head coach in the NBA?

Kevin Loughery was 65-99 in two years coaching the Bulls; he won two ABA titles coaching the New York Nets. 

1) Other than Wrigley Feld, Fenway Park, what is the oldest ballpark in the major leagues? 

Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, making it the 3rd-oldest stadium in the majors. 

Sunday’s List of 13: Random thoughts with the draft over

13) Day 3 of the NFL Draft is where ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr’s expertise shines; I say this every year, but if every American did his job as well as Kiper does, we’d be a lot better off.

12) Redskins traded disgruntled OT Trent Williams to the 49ers for 3rd, 5th round picks. Longtime OT Joe Staley is expected to retire; Williams will step into his spot on the OL.

11) Texans/Lions had a deal in place for pick #90, but Detroit pulled out of the deal at the last minute; ESPN’s camera showed a frustrated Bill O’Brien yelling at someone across the room in his home- apparently that was why. Houston was trying to trade out of pick #90 and add more draft choices.

10) Texans/O’Brien gave OT Laremy Tunsil a 3-year, $66M contract this week, which means he makes $4M a year more than any offensive lineman ever.

9) Last year was the first time since 1971 that the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t score 28+ points in any game.

8) Jets drafted FIU QB James Morgan to back up Sam Darnold; Morgan is actually older than Darnold. He is also the 10th QB the Jets drafted the last 15 years, most in the league.

7) Since 1967, Rams have drafted 22 players from UCLA, the most any team has drafted a player from any one college. Bengals/Ohio State (20) are next on the list.

6) 20 of the first 48 players drafted this year played college ball in the SEC.

5) Interesting thing about Eli Manning’s career; he went 8-4 in playoff games, but only one of those eight wins was at home. Five road wins, two Super Bowls.

4) 56% of Vikings players last year were guys that Minnesota drafted; thats the highest %age of any team in the NFL.

3) Philadelphia Eagles finished the draft with 14 WR’s on their roster, which seems excessive.

2) Tip of the cap to the NFL for pulling the draft off in unusual circumstances; it seemed to go really well. Unique setting at a time when lot of us were starved for entertainment.

Next on the agenda is a bigger problem; what to do about the 2020 schedule.

1) Happy 80th birthday to the great actor Al Pacino, who played Tony d’Amato, coach of the Miami Sharks in Any Given Sunday. One of the best actors ever. 

Friday’s Den: Running diary of the first round of the NFL Draft

7:25: Hi, I’m setting up for what will be a running diary of the first round of the NFL Draft. We’ll see how this goes. I do think the unique nature of this draft, with everyone staying home, will be kind of cool. Also hope it Is the last time it happens this way.

Obvious fact #1 tonite: Roger Goodell’s basement is nicer than my living room.

8:00: Starting with ESPN, as opposed to NFL Network or ABC.

Michael Irvin has three Lombardi Trophies behind him in his house. He is the early leader for best home setup.

They show a deserted Las Vegas Blvd, in front of Caeser’s Palace, and it makes me sad. Such a busy, vibrant place, almost totally deserted right now. I look forward to being back out there as soon as it is safe to do that. 

8:05: Roger Goodell seems like a good guy, but if I made $30M a year, I’d be pleasant, too.

8:13: Dr Fauci makes an appearance. He was captain of his high school hoop team at Regis HS in Brooklyn, in 1958, which is before I was born. Good man, Dr Fauci; I look forward to the day he tells us it is safe to travel.

Please start the draft; make a pick, already. Bengals are on the clock.

8:25: Bengals take Joe Burrow, who was turned down by Nebraska multiple times.

Burrow wasn’t alive in 1990, last time the Bengals won a playoff game. This is the third year in a row a QB gets taken first overall; all three of those QB’s transferred in college.

LSU has six coaches in their football office; no social distancing there.

8:33: Washington Redskins take Chase Young a DE from Ohio State; he is wearing sunglasses in his living room.

HBO is remaking the old TV series Perry Mason, which I watched on re-runs when I was a little kid. It premieres June 21. The key is who will play Hamilton Berger, the lawyer who always lost to Perry Mason in the original series?

8:38: CB Jeff Okudah is picked by the Lions; the first three picks all played at Ohio State in 2017, before Burrow transferred to LSU.

In the Super Bowl era, which is 54 years, Lions are 1-12 in playoff games; 11 of those 13 games were on the road. Their last playoff win was in 1991.

 8:47: New Jersey Giants take Andrew Thomas, an OT from Georgia who was a drummer in high school. His high school coach played in the NFL, which has to help. Daniel Jeremiah of ESPN doesn’t like the pick very much; thought the Giants had better options.

I’m liking this TV format better than having everyone in a ballroom somewhere.

8:55: Miami Dolphins take QB Tua Tagovailoa, ending Josh Rosen’s tenure in Miami; Tua will be the first lefty QB in the NFL since Kellen Moore, who is now the Cowboys’ OC. Would expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to start this season, then hands the reins over to the kid.

When the Dolphins passed on Drew Brees in 2006, he had already played four years in the NFL, 58 starts. Big difference between that and a kid who got hurt a lot in college, especially with the league going to 17 games, starting next season.

Boomer Esiason’s 247 TD passes are the most-ever by a lefty QB in the NFL. 

9:02: Chargers take QB Justin Herbert, who started out his college career as Oregon’s 6th-string QB, so three of the first six picks in the draft are quarterbacks. He’ll sit behind Tyrod Taylor for a while, which will help his development.

Oregon had a very experienced offensive line LY; how will he do under more pressure?

9:10: Carolina takes Derrick Brown, a DT from Auburn. He wants to be a lobbyist when he is done playing ball. This is Matt Rhule’s first draft pick in Carolina; he wants to make sure the Panthers can stop the run.

9:14: Arizona Cardinals take the versatile Isaiah Simmons, who played five different positions on defense at Clemson.

9:20: Jacksonville takes CJ Henderson, a CB from Florida who is strong in coverage but needs work on his tackling. What the Jaguars really need is a GM or coach who can persuade their players to stay in Jacksonville, instead of asking to be traded all the time.

9:26: Cleveland takes Jedrick Wills, a tackle from Alabama who is the 30th Crimson Tide player taken in the first round in the Saban era.

Ten draft picks; no WR’s taken yet, kind of surprising.

9:35: Jets take OT Mekhi Becton, a tackle from Louisville; he is 6-7, 364 pounds and played basketball in high school- he can run. ESPN showed as many of his basketball highlights as his football highlights- they also showed him pushing a pickup truck down the street.

9:40: Las Vegas Raiders take Henry Ruggs, a WR from Alabama who didn’t look all that happy when they showed him in his house. Ruggs caught 98 passes in college, 24 for TD’s . Ruggs’ mom was a sprinter in high school, which doesn’t help Jon Gruden much.

Kid can dunk at 5-11; he isn’t such a great route runner yet- he is also a skilled kick returner.

9:45: Tom Brady made a trade; Bucs move up a slot to #13, take Tristan Wirfs, a tackle from Iowa. 49ers get a pick in exchange for this pick. Wirfs won state titles in wrestling and track in high school- he is very strong. He better be good, to protect his 43-year old QB.

9:58: 49ers dropped down a slot, take DT Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina who was homeless for a while as a kid, living in Washington DC. ESPN compared him to Richard Seymour. He played better against the better teams the Gamecocks played.

Coach’s and GM’s kids are now hanging around their dads to get  on TV. 

10:04: Denver takes WR Jerry Jeudy from Alabama; the 3rd Bama player taken tonite, the 32nd first round pick in the Saban era. Jeudy is a superior route runner.

10:12: Falcons take CB AJ Terrell from Clemson; Mel Kiper says he needs to tackle better, be coached more. I’m sure Dabo Swinney loved hearing that.

Atlanta owner Arthur Blank has to have a good home setup; he used to own freakin’ Home Depot. Plus he was wearing one of the Falcons’ new black jerseys.

10:19: Dallas Cowboys take WR CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma, whose family relocated after Hurricane Katrina. They showed Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley’s living room, which is really nice. For some reason, he has two pairs of sneakers right by the TV. Anyway, Lamb is a very good WR; he had 62 receptions for 1,327 yards, scoring 14 TD’s LY.

Dallas hasn’t played in the NFC title game since 1995; I’m assuming Jerry Jones has a really, really nice house, but the room he’s in looks like a sitting room in a funeral parlor.

10:27: Miami Dolphins use the Steelers’ pick (for Minkah Fitzpatrick) to take OT Austin Jackson from USC, whose grandfather played five years for the Packers. He is still only 20 years old, so he may be something of a developmental project.

Last year, this kid donated bone marrow to his younger sister to save her life from a rare form of anemia, which is very excellent.

10:32: Raiders take Damon Arnette, a DB from Ohio State. This is Cris Carter’s son, the great WR from the Vikings. Arnette almost came out of school LY, but Carter told him he needed to come back for another year, to become a better player, and it paid off for him.

2022 NFL Draft will be in Las Vegas; it was supposed to be there this week, until Mother Nature intervened. Hotels can start jacking up their rates for that week now.

10:41: Jacksonville takes LB K’Lavon Chaisson from LSU, who didn’t play football until his junior year of high school- he was a basketball guy. Chaisson got his scholarship to LSU when he went to watch a friend work out, and someone suggested that he work out, too.

10:47: Philadelphia Eagles tase Jalen Reagor, a WR from TCU. His dad played nine years in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl ring with the Colts. He is a really good punt returner.

If you’re sitting in your house, even if you’re working, why are you wearing a jacket/tie?

10:55: Minnesota takes LSU WR Justin Jefferson, who was a n0-star recruit coming out of high school in Louisiana. His older brothers also played football at LSU. Jefferson played out of the slot the great majority of the time at LSU; what happens to Adam Thielen?

Kurt Warner has a strong home setup, with a Lombardi Trophy, his Hall of Fame bust and his Man of the Year trophy all there. Not as good as Michael Irvin’s, but not bad.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer must like to hunt; he had some very large heads of dead animals mounted in his living room, over the fireplace.

10:59: New England traded the 23rd pick to the Chargers for 2nd/3rd round picks; Patriots now have 13 picks in this draft. Chargers take Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray, who saved a woman’s life with CPR last year. ESPN’s Booger MacFarland liked this pick, but he’s liked every pick he’s been asked about tonight.

Chargers’ GM Tom Telesco has a surfboard in his dining room; not sure what thats about. 

11:09: Saints take Michigan C Cesar Ruiz, who can play either guard or center. He started 31 games at Michigan. Offensive linemen tend to be obscure, but other than the QB, they’re the most valuable guys on the team- they allow the offense to operate.

11:12: 49ers traded three picks to Minnesota to move into the 25th pick; Niners then take WR Brandon Aiyuk, from Arizona State. He has an 81-inch wingspan, the longest wingspan of any player under 6-feet tall in NFL Combine history.

Aiyuk is the sixth WR taken in the first round.

11:23: Green Bay traded with Miami to move into this slot; they take QB Jordan Love from Utah State. Aaron Rodgers is 36; Brett Favre was 35 when Green Bay drafted Rodgers. Love only got one I-A scholarship offer out of high school, but Rodgers didn’t have any— he played in junior college before playing for the Cal Bears.

Quote from someone close to Rodgers: “Aaron feels betrayed, he was told by management they would get him some weapons to throw to.” Uh oh.

Considering this is a virtual operation, there haven’t been many glitches on TV. Impressive.

11:34: Seattle takes Jordyn Brooks, a LB from Texas Tech; he’ll play against his old college coach Kliff Kingsbury twice a year. ESPN said he is a better pass rusher than a cover guy, but Mel Kiper called him “a tackling machine” He runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, has a balky shoulder.

11:41: Baltimore Ravens take Patrick Queen, another LSU LB; I’m guessing the Bayou Bengals will be young at LB this season. Queen grew up 30 miles from Baton Rouge, but is the first player from his high school to be offered a scholarship by LSU.

This is the first time the Ravens ever drafted an LSU player; their old GM Ozzie Newsome, played college ball at Alabama.

11:48: Tennessee takes T Isaiah Wilson, a guard from Georgia. He is 6-6, 350, very good run blocker; but Mel Kiper thought he needed another year in Athens.

This gives the SEC 13 first round picks, setting the record for a conference.

11:58: Miami drafts DB Noah Igbinoghene, a former WR who got switched to DB because he has bad hands. Both of his parents competed in the Olympics for the Nigerian track team- they both ran track in the SEC. His sister is a track athlete, also at Auburn.

With this guy and Tua Tagovailoa getting drafted, going to be lot of copy/paste by Miami beat writers. Tough names to spell.

12:02am: Minnesota takes Jeff Gladney, a DB from TCU. If you play DB in the Big X, you’re battle tested; some scouts question how Gladney will do against more physical receivers.

12:10am: Defending Super Bowl champ Chiefs take Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a RB from LSU, making it 15 first round picks for the SEC. Versatile player, this kid is only 5-8, but catches the ball well, which is obviously important in today’s pro football.

Before I go tonight, a public service announcement, from Dr Eugene Gu, a doctor, an actual medical expert. Please listen to medical experts.

“PLEASE do not inject anything into your body or ingest anything at all to kill the coronavirus. There is NO SUBSTANCE that will disinfect your body of the coronavirus from the inside. Don’t inject or drink bleach, soap, don’t do isopropyl alcohol, lysol, or ANYTHING WHATSOEVER.”

Wednesday’s List of 13: The Professor’s favorite sports books

My friend Dave is very smart, a professional educator- he reads a lot of books. Here is his list of his favorite sports books.

Very hard to do this list, I read around 40 books a year and at least a quarter of them fall into the sports genre, here we go:

My 13 favorite all time sports books (in alphabetical order, by author)

— “Giant Steps: An Autobiography” by Kareem Abdul- Jabbar- Another childhood athletic hero, Kareem writes like people wished he spoke with the media in those days (powerful stuff on his conversion to Islam)

— “Open” by Andre Agassi- My tennis idol as a kid, we all tried to hit the ball on the rise like Andre (and I did have the denim shorts!); Agassi is very honest about how he feels about his family, his childhood, his coaches, his sport

— “Men in Green” by Michael Bamberger- If you miss golf in the 1960s/70s, this one is for you

— “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton- Can’t have a list like this without Bouton’s ground breaking look behind the curtain

— “The Red Rose Crew” by Daniel J Boyne: Looks at the 1975 US women’s crew team, well written and researched, if you want to have some understanding of some true pioneers of women athletes, this is your book

—- “The Game” by Ken Dryden- Diary of a week in the life of one of the greatest hockey goalies of all time, he writes well and thinks deep

— “Summer of ’49” by David Halberstam- About the one game playoff between the Yankees and Red Sox that settled the 1949 AL pennant; wonderful portraits of a bunch of great characters, plus a meditation on post war America, and the coming importance of television

— “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times” by Thomas Hauser- This came out in the mid 90s, an oral history with around 200 commentators, there’s more current books that are good but I really like this one for the voices and perspectives

— “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” by Laura Hillenbrand- The life of an old trainer, a washed up jockey and a broken hearted owner come together to find the most unlikely sports hero of the 1930s (this horse was world famous)- great read but it’s ok to see the movie instead 🙂

— “Michael Jordan: The Life”  by Roland Lazemby- My favorite athlete of all time, this is an unflinching portrait (Halberstam and Stan Smith have really good Jordan books as well)

— “When Pride Still Mattered” by David Marannis- A great biography of Vince Lombardi by a dogged reporter and master wordsmith

— “A Sense of Where You Are” by John McPhee- The classic book about Bill Bradley when he was at Princeton, if you haven’t read any McPhee you’re in for a treat

— “The Big Bam” by Leigh Montville- A really fun biography of Babe Ruth

2 Lists for Twosday: Pretty difficult trivia questions……

These are difficult trivia questions; see how you do before you look up the answers. I’ll post the answers in a few days. 


13) Who was player-coach of the Detroit Pistons at age 24? He also pitched in 36 games for the Chicago White Sox.

12) Which TV personality was QB at Louisiana Tech just before Terry Bradshaw?

11) When baseball started divisional play in 1969, which four teams made the playoffs that first season?

10) Oakland A’s won three straight World Series, from 1972-74; Dick Williams managed the A’s in ’72-’73. Who was Oakland’s manager in ’74?

9) In 1994, Montreal Expos had the best record in the National League when the season ended because of a labor dispute. Who was manager of the Expos back then?

8) Everyone knows the first Super Bowl was Packers-Chiefs, Lombardi against Hank Stram. Green Bay played Oakland in Super Bowl II; who coached the Raiders back then?

7) What team did Wayne Gretzky play his last NHL game with?

6) Nick Saban coached two other college teams, other than LSU/Alabama; which two?

5) Who scored the first 2-point conversion in the NFL, back in 1994?

4) Who succeeded Jerry Tarkanian as basketball coach at UNLV?

3) Which NBA team drafted Bill Russell?

2) Who was Michael Jordan’s first head coach in the NBA?

1) Other than Wrigley Feld, Fenway Park, what is the oldest ballpark in the major leagues? 

Tuesday’s Den: An enthusiastic endorsement of ESPN’s The Last Dance


13) ESPN struck television gold Sunday night, showing an entertainment-starved country the first two episodes of “The Last Dance”, a 10-part documentary about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. Originally slated to air June 3rd, it was pushed up because of the pandemic. Two episodes will run on each of the next four Sunday nights.

It isn’t often a program with high expectations meets those expectations, but this program was two hours of great research, artfully presented. If you like the NBA or college basketball at all, you’ll enjoy this look back at a part of our sports history.

12) Bulls had won five of previous seven NBA titles; they allowed NBA cameras access to their inner circle for what Phil Jackson knew would be his last season as the Bulls’ coach.

Back in 1997, the head of NBA Entertainment was Adam Silver, now the Commissioner, so this was his brainchild. Tall, bald guys with glasses tend to be smart 🙂

11) Phil Jackson averaged 6.7 ppg in 17.6 mpg in 12 NBA seasons. 10 with the Knicks, two with the Nets. He missed the Knicks’ 1970 title season after back surgery; he scored 8.1 ppg for the ’73 Knicks, who also won a championship.

10) Jackson coached here in Albany in five years, coaching the Patroons in the old CBA; from there he went to the Bulls, was an assistant for three years, then took over for the 1989-90 season.

Jackson was an NBA head coach for 20 years, winning 11 titles. Best NBA coach ever.

9) From November 1995 to June 1997, the Bulls were favored in 185 consecutive games, thats now great they were; but GM Jerry Krause knew the team’s great run was nearing an end, and he toyed with the idea of trading Scottie Pippen before the 1997-98 season, to try and head off the franchise’s inevitable decline. That idea was rejected by owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

8) Krause takes a pretty good beating on this show, since his professional relationship with the coaches, players deteriorated over time. Plus he is deceased, so he couldn’t be interviewed for the show, to present his side of the story.

But much like Art Howe’s portrayal in Moneyball, no team wins six titles without a really good GM; Krause made this trade, one that made the Bulls truly great:

June 22, 1987: Scottie Pippen was traded by the Seattle SuperSonics with a 1989 1st round draft pick to the Chicago Bulls, for Olden Polynice, a 1988 2nd round pick and a 1989 1st round pick.

7) Pippen missed 38 games in 1997-98 after having surgery; Chicago was 51-14 that year when he was in the lineup, 26-12 when he wasn’t.

6) Former Bulls’ center Bill Wennington is quoted a lot in the first two episodes; looks like he has a slot machine in his living room, which is pretty cool.

5) Steve Kerr won three rings playing for the Bulls; he’s won eight rings overall, three coaching the Warriors, two more playing for San Antonio. He is the only person ever to win 3+ titles, as both a player and a head coach.

4) Jordan played for three head coaches in this first three NBA seasons; Jackson was his 4th head coach in six years. One of the other coaches was Stan Albeck, who had been a coach for the Spurs, Nets, Cavaliers, and was also once Wilt Chamberlain’s assistant coach with the old San Diego Conquistadors in the ABA, in 1973-74. Albeck could write a hell of a book.

3) In one of Jordan’s North Carolina clips they showed, a Duke player named Chip Engelland appears very briefly. Engelland has gone on to become one of the best-ever shooting coaches in NBA history (Kawhi Leonard ring a bell?)

Engelland had been a ballboy for John Wooden’s UCLA teams; he scored 1,000+ points at Duke, then he played overseas for nine years. He’s been a Spurs assistant since 2005.

2) They showed when Phil Jackson won his first NBA title with the Bulls in ‘91, beating the Lakers in LA, one of the first people to shake his hand on the court was Jack Nicholson.

1) So what I’m saying here is that if you like basketball, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this look back into NBA history. I know I did. 

Monday’s Den: Colleges that produced the best NFL quarterbacks:

1) Stanford:
— John Elway, Andrew Luck, John Brodie, Jim Plunkett— Lot of depth here.

2)  Alabama:
— Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler— Four Super Bowl titles there.

3) Purdue:
— Drew Brees, Bob Griese, Len Dawson, Jim Everett

4) Notre Dame:
— Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Daryle Lamonica, Steve Beuerlein

5) California:
— Aaron Rodgers, Steve Bartkowski, Jared Goff, Craig Morton

6) Miami:
— Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde— Lot of wins, but no Super Bowl titles

7) Louisville:
— Johnny Unitas, Lamar Jackson, Teddy Bridgewater

8) Oregon:
— Dan Fouts, Chris Miller, Joey Harrington, Marcus Mariota

9) Michigan:
— Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Jim Harbaugh

10) Washington:
— Warren Moon, Mark Brunell, Chris Chandler

11) BYU:
— Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Neilsen

12) UCLA:
— Troy Aikman, Tommy Maddox, Steve Bono, Billy Kilmer

13) USC:
— Carson Palmer, Bill Nelsen, Rodney Peete, plus about seven other guys who are either young starters (Sam Darnold), marginal starters or mostly backups.

3 Lists for Sunday: Favorite TV shows for Bartender Chris and his wife Ashley…….

Bartender Chris and Ashley’s (his wife) favorite TV shows:

Armadillo: 24 is the only show on both of these lists; I’ve never seen 11 of the 13 shows on Ashley’s list. Thats what makes life interesting; different people like different stuff.

13) Chris: The Golden Girls

Ashley: Life

12) Chris:  Frasier

Ashley: Desperate Housewives

11) Chris: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Ashley: This Is Us

10) Chris:  The Simpsons

Ashley: Orange is the New Black

9) Chris: The Sopranos

Ashley: Lost

8) Chris: Sons of Anarchy

Ashley: Parenthood

7) Chris: Cheers

Ashley: Breaking Bad

6) Chris: Quantum Leap

Ashley: The Office

5) Chris: Alf

Ashley: 24

4) Chris: Seinfeld

Ashley: Dexter

3) Chris: 24

Ashley: Grey’s Anatomy

2) Chris: Magnum PI

Ashley: Weeds

1) Chris: Miami Vice

Ashley: Shameless

Two Lists for Saturday; Watching Game 2 of the ’72 World Series

— Struck TV gold late Friday night; a replay of Game 2 of the 1972 World Series, A’s-Reds; I hadn’t seen this game since I was 12 years old. Watching it in the same room, too.

— Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, Al Michaels in the booth; when I post my list of best-ever or favorite TV announcers, this is why Michaels will be #1— he almost has to be the only person who was there the first time the Oakland A’s won the World Series, and first time the Rams won the Super Bowl.

— Back then, World Series games started at 1:oo; Gowdy is giving NFL scores during the game. Dolphins’ QB Bob Griese just chipped a bone in his ankle. No problem, Miami would go on to win the Super Bowl that year, going undefeated, with Earl Morrall at QB.

— Dick Williams was the A’s manager; his first year as a minor league manager was in Toronto in 1965. Who did he take over for? Reds’ skipper Sparky Anderson.

— Catfish Hunter is pitching for the A’s; my all-time favorite baseball player. Why, you say?

When I was five, I got a box of baseball cards; back then, rookie cards had four prospects on a card, all from the same team. I noticed Catfish because:
a) His name was spelled Jim Hunter on the front, Tim Hunter on the back.
b) Three guys had their minor league records on the back; Catfish Hunter never pitched in the minor leagues, so that stood out to me.

When I showed my dad the card and declared Catfish to be my favorite player, I got that look, like “Did we bring the right kid home from the hospital?” Not the last time I saw that look.

— Reggie Jackson didn’t play in this World Series; he tore his hamstring sliding into home in Game 5 of the ALCS. George Hendrick took his place.

— Before this World Series, A’s owner Charlie Finley got them to agree to a rule where the manager could visit the mound more than twice in a game, without removing the pitcher. Williams went to the mound 55 times in seven games, and I’m not exaggerating. Last time that rule existed.

— Some umpires wore the outside chest protector, with jackets and ties. This guy hides behind the catcher way more than current umpires do.

— Weird watching baseball with no graphics. They only put the score up at the end of every half-inning.

— Dave Duncan was the A’s starting catcher during the year, but Gene Tenace’s hot bat made him the starter during the Series. Duncan would start Game 7 and throw Joe Morgan out stealing at a key juncture; he would later become one of the game’s great pitching coaches, working for Tony Larussa.

— I met Pete Rose a few years ago in Las Vegas; resisted the temptation to ask him about this World Series, since he made the last out of Game 7. He was pretty cool to talk to, but then again it cost me $98 to get a baseball signed, so he was just doing his job.

— Matty Alou was the only A’s player that year who had previously experience in a World Series; he played for the ’62 Giants. 12 Reds had played in a Series- they lost to Baltimore in 1970.

— This game was played on Astroturf, which made for a different game; at one time, half the fields in the major leagues had Astrotruf fields. FieldTurf has taken over now, but think there are only four stadiums that use it; Toronto, Arizona, Texas and Tampa Bay.

— Bullpens were on the field down each foul line at Riverfront Stadium; Oakland Coliseum is one of the few stadiums that still has their bullpens on the field.

— Curt Gowdy just referenced that the A’s were an underdog in Game 2; never heard stuff like that back then. Wonder if he took some grief about saying that.

— George Hendrick is wearing his cap under his batting helmet; some guys did that, with no ear flaps on the helmets back then.

— Bottom of the 9th, A’s up 2-0; Catfish is still on the mound, no mention of pitch counts, or load management or any of the modern buzzwords.

Gowdy mentions that Catfish threw five no-hitters in high school, before getting hurt in a hunting accident, which is why he never pitched in the minors.

Tony Perez lines a single to left, then Joe Rudi makes one of the greatest catches in World Series history, to rob Denis Menke of a double. Rudi was an excellent player, a quiet guy who was very dependable.

Catfish has just given up two shots in a row when Cesar Geronimo is robbed of a hit by 1B Mike Hegan, a defensive replacement- another line drive, but Williams leaves Catfish in— the game sure has changed a lot. Hal McRae’s ground-ball single makes it 2-1, A’s. Williams brings Rollie Fingers to get the last out; can you imagine a pitcher today getting 26 outs in a playoff game?

Julian Javier is the pinch-hitter; his son Stan would later play for the A’s for parts of seven seasons, including playing for the ’89 World Champs. Dave Concepcion pinch-runs for McRae, Vida Blue warms up in the bullpen, and Javier fouls out to first base.

12-year old me was very happy that day, and even happier a week later, when Rollie Fingers got Rose out for the last out of Game 7. Was fun seeing this game again, for sure. 

2 Lists for Friday: Cathy from Ohio checks in with some thoughts

1) I’m an Ohioan with a typical array of sports team favorites:  love the Browns, love the Reds, really don’t care one way or another about the Cavs…but I deeply dislike the Buckeyes. 

2) As a kid I used to love playing kickball with my four brothers and two sisters and two or three random neighborhood kids. It was  like contact baseball. You’re out when you get blasted with the ball. I was terrified of getting thrown at/out by my brothers and extremely grateful we all learned to play baseball without the contact outs. 

3) I’m thinking about buying huge amounts of peanuts, hot dogs, and giant pretzels, and crappy beer (none of which I normally eat or drink) just to make it feel like baseball season somehow. 

4) I’m always a little puzzled by people like my oldest daughter who love pizza and spaghetti and salsa and all things tomato saucy but hate fresh tomatoes. Oh she loves raw broccoli too but despises it cooked.

5) My Australian son-in-law thinks baseball is slow and boring but he loves cricket- you know, the game with bats and balls that literally lasts for days. 

6) My son was a pretty good baseball player but way too intense for a Little Leaguer. As an 8 year old he cried all the way home over a close game that they lost. I said, “Cody, it’s not worth all the tears. Ten years from now you won’t even remember this day.”  Ten years later…18 year old Cody called me somewhere near the date of that game and just said, “ you were wrong Mom. I’m still mad about that game.”

7) My mom, like all moms, shared great and not so great pieces of advice and told what turned out to be little lies that I guess were meant to help us grow up right. She said money can’t buy happiness. But really, my closet full of boots, my house and my car make me pretty happy. 

8) She also used to tell me when I was young that boys didn’t like girls who cried or cursed. I do both, damn it. Maybe that’s why I’m divorced…

9) This may be Mom’s biggest lie:  she told me babies came from seeds that were in little girls’ bellies. Those seeds turn into babies when little girls grow up and have a husband. At eight I was very worried because people kept telling me how grown up I was getting.

10) Like so many Mamas she also told us not to cross our eyes because they might stick like that. So, in turn when my little girls were getting sassy and rolled their eyes, I told them they might stick all rolled up in their heads. Now I wonder what great lies my two grand babies will hear as they grow up. 

11) I don’t think I would be good at fantasy sports. I would want to choose my players based on fun things like their birthdays and if they’re left handed, and if they are good to their mamas. 

12) I’ve never made my children eat everything on their plates. That backfired twice for my mom. My younger sister finished her last bite of peas and spewed them and the rest of her dinner back in the plate. A generation later, she insisted that my youngest daughter finish her breakfast, which she deposited in the bushes at a Bob Evans in Columbus, Ohio.

13) I have been friends with the Armadillo for more than fifteen years and just found out recently that he used to play piano/organ. Huh!

KL Wheat’s list of sports people with bird names:

KL Wheat steps up with a list of sports people with bird names:

13) Robin Lopez- He’s scored 8.8 ppg in 12 NBA seasons

— Robin Roberts won 286 big leagues, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.

12) Sonny Dove— Scored 11.1 ppg in five years, for Pistons/Nets.

11) AJ Hawk— Played 11 years as an NFL LB, mostly for Green Bay

10) John Woodcock— Defensive lineman for Lions/Chargers from 1976-82

9) Eagle Day— Punter/backup QB for Redskins, 1959-60

— Ian Eagle— Does NBA, NFL games on network TV

8) Larry Bird— One of the best basketball players ever.

— Paul Byrd was 109-96 in a 14-year big league career.

— Sue Bird is one of the best-ever players in the WNBA.

7) Wayne Teal— Defensive back for the Vikings in 80’s.

6) Goose Gossage— Led league in saves three times; inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

5) John David Crow— Scored 73 TD’s in 11 years with the 49ers, from 1958-68.

4) Ducky Medwick— Hit .324 for his career; was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1968.

3) Rick Partridge— Punted in the NFL for Saints, Chargers, Bills.

2) Rory Sparrow— Played for eight teams in 12 NBA seasons, scoring 9.0 ppg.

1) Renell Wren— Played on the defensive line for the Bengals last year. 

Thursday’s List of 13: Movie Mt Rushmores…….

These are my favorite movies in each category:
13) Al Pacino movies:
— Any Given Sunday
— Heat
— Danny Collins
— Oceans 13

12) Tom Cruise movies
— A Few Good Men
— Risky Business
— Cocktail
— Jack Reacher

11) Baseball movies:
— Moneyball
— For Love of the Game
— Bull Durham
— Major League

10) Denzel Washington movies:
— He Got Game
— Pelican Brief
— Remember the Titans
— Out of Time

9) Gene Hackman movies:
— Hoosiers
— Runway Jury
— The Replacements
— Class Action

8) Basketball movies:
— Blue Chips
— One on One
— Fast Break
— Hoosiers
(He Got Game gets an honorable mention here)

7) Steve Martin movies:
— Leap of Faith
— Shopgirl
— Roxanne
— Grand Canyon

6) Gambling-related movies:
— Rounders
— Let It Ride
— The Gambler
— Lucky You

5) Gina Gershon movies:
— Bound
— PS I Love You
— Showgirls
— Pretty In Pink

4) Bill Murray movies:
— Lost In Translation
— Caddyshack
— Meatballs
— St Vincent

3) Marisa Tomei movies:
— My Cousin Vinny
— The Rewrite
— The Big Short
— Lincoln Lawyer

2) Robert DeNiro movies:
— Last Vegas
— Heat
— Jackie Brown
— Midnight Run

1) Kevin Costner movies:
— For Love of the Game
— The Bodyguard
— Bull Durham
— Draft Day

Wednesday’s List of 13: Favorite fictional coaches in movies……

Favorite coaches in TV/movies
This only includes fictional characters, which eliminates:
— Billy Bob Thornton in Friday Night Lights
— Philip Seymour Hoffman in Moneyball
— Any coach who appeared in a documentary

I also left Norman Dale (Hoosiers) off the list, since he had to be constantly reminded that Jimmy Chitwood could score at will. Even his drunk assistant coach drew up plays for Jimmy.

13) Moreland Smith (One on One)— GD Spradlin plays a college basketball coach who recruits a small-school basketball phenom who struggles to adjust to big-time college ball. Coach Smith tries to run the kid off the team; it ends better for the kid than the coach.

12) Morris Buttermaker (Bad News Bears)— Walter Matthau plays a Little League coach who brings a cooler of beer into the dugout every game; his team is saved by him recruiting a young lady to pitch, and a motorcycle punk who winds up being the best player in the league.

11) Gordon Bombay (The Mighty Ducks)— Emilio Estevez plays a Minnesota lawyer who gets a DUI, is sentenced to community service coaching a youth hockey team that isn’t very good. The Ducks wind up beating the team he played for as a kid, coached by Coach Reilly (Lane Smith, the same actor who lost to Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny)

10) Mick Goldmill (Rocky)— Burgess Meredith played the Penguin in the Batman TV series, but is better known as Rocky Balboa’s boxing trainer. “You’re gonna eat lightnin’; you’re gonna crap thunder!!!”

9) Murray Chadwick (Youngblood)— Ed Lauter plays a junior hockey coach whose daughter likes the star player, but the coach questions if he is tough enough. Lauter also has one of my all-time favorite  coaching lines: “I didn’t come halfway to the (bleep)ing Arctic Circle to lose to these goons!!!”

8) Billy Sunday (He Got Game)— John Turturro (Joey Knish in Rounders) plays the coach at Big State, a team trying to recruit Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen). Coach Sunday is only in one scene, but he steals it, trying to convince the star recruit to play for his team.

This is an underrated movie that foretold (20 years before) the problems Louisville’s program would have. Rick Fox plays the Big State player who is the recruit’s mentor for the weekend.

7) Frank Perry (For Love of the Game)— JK Simmons is a Detroit Tigers fan in real life, so this role probably came naturally for him. New York’s manager in this movie is played by Augie Garrido, one of the best-ever college coaches (Cal State-Fullerton, Texas)

6) Hayden Fox (Coach)— Craig T Nelson plays the coach at fictional Minnesota State in one of the two TV series on this list. Nelson is a divorced father whose girlfriend may not be all that crazy about football. Lot of the laughs in this show came from his assistant coach Luther Van Dam, played by Jerry Van Dyke.

5) Lou Brown (Major League)— James Gammon had one of the best-ever voices; he was also Don Johnson’s dad in Nash Bridges. Lou Brown wasn’t a fan of analytics, bringing in Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) in to pitch to Haywood, even after Haywood had homered twice off of him earlier in the movie.

4) Ken Reeves (White Shadow)— Ken Howard was really great as a washed-up NBA player who becomes a high school coach in inner-city Los Angeles, caring as much about his players off the court as he did on it. The uniforms Carver High wears in this show are the same as Howard’s high school team on Long Island wore (in real life).

3) Tony d’Amato (Any Given Sunday)— Al Pacino plays a veteran pro football coach whose owner (Cameron Diaz) doubts him as her team struggles to remain a contender. Pacino gives two great speeches in this game, one to QB Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) and the other before the playoff game in Dallas, the “Game of Inches” speech.

Jim Brown was really good in this as one of coach d’Amato’s assistants, and Lawrence Taylor was one of the Miami Sharks.

2) Pete Bell (Blue Chips)— Nick Nolte hung around Indiana’s program for a while to prep for this role, so lot of the antics we see are stuff Bobby Knight did in real life. Marques Johnson plays one of Western U’s assistants. The scene in the empty gym where coach Bell rebounds for his AD (Bob Cousy) while he shoots foul shots is one of my favorite movie scenes ever.

1) David Greene (Fast Break)— Gabe Kaplan plays the manager of a New York City deli who is also a huge basketball fan; he is offered the coaching job at a small Nevada college, and recruits an odd assortment of players, one of whom is played by NBA great Bernard King. On of his other players is a young lady, playing in disguise.

This movie came out when I was in college; Kaplan was tremendous. For any of us who would’ve loved to have coached for a living, this may have been unrealistic, but it was also inspirational.