Sunday’s Den: Random thoughts on a very quiet day

13) If there is no college football this fall (75% of their revenue is gate receipts, so there may not be), would NFL play 2-3 games on Saturday every week this season? It makes sense. 


12) How do people run marathons? Seriously, if I drive 26 miles I am looking for a McDonald’s or Wendy’s drive-thru window. I don’t get running for 26 miles.

11) This time next week, we’ll have new stuff to think about, the NFL Draft; for three days, we can dissect the draft and
a) Who drafted the best players
b) Who has the nicest basement?

10) How is there going to be a baseball draft this spring? No high school/college baseball, makes it difficult to make informed decisions.

9) In December 2006, Alabama tried to hire Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins; he turned them down, so they went after Rich Rodriguez, who had gone 22-3 the previous two seasons- he apparently almost said yes.

When Rodriguez stayed in Morgantown, Alabama went back trying lure Saban to Tuscaloosa; how different would the last 14 years been in college football had Rodriguez said yes?

8) Wonderlic scores from the NFL Combine for QB prospects:
35— Jake Fromm, Georgia
34— Joe Burrow, LSU
27— Jordan Love, Utah State
25— Justin Herbert, Oregon
23— Jacob Eason, Washington/James Morgan, FIU
18— Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
13— Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

7) I have no idea if Wonderlic mean anything; I’ve read that teams consider them more important for QB’s than other positions, and also that some teams care more about those scores than other teams.

Next question: Are there prep courses for the Wonderlic, like there are for the SAT’s?

6) Obi Toppin came out of nowhere to be a big star for Dayton this year; his younger brother Jacob just transferred to Kentucky, after scoring 5.1 ppg and 3.9 rpg in 18.5 mpg for Rhode Island this year.  URI was 21-9 this season, 13-5 in the A-14.

Kentucky looks like they’ll be replacing eight of their top nine scorers next season; this reminds me of when Steph Curry became an NBA star, so Duke poached his younger brother Seth from Liberty’s team.

Jacob Toppin better be using this downtime to work on his shooting; he shot 24.5% on the arc, 64.4% on the foul line this season.

5) Current NFL head coaches who were drafted as players:
1984— Ron Rivera, Bears— 2nd round
1985— Frank Reich, Bills— 3rd round
1986— Doug Marrone, Raiders—- 6th round
1997— Mike Vrabel, Steelers, 3rd round
2003— Kliff Kingsbury, Patriots, 6th round

4) Hard to believe, but over the last four years, neither Auburn or Texas has had a player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.

3) When he was 16 years old, George Clooney tried out for the Cincinnati Reds; women all over America are glad he didn’t make it in baseball.

2) 27-year old Kory Alford is the new basketball coach at Huntington University in Indiana; he is Steve Alford’s son— the Alford name still carries a lot of weight in the Hoosier State.

1) Remember when we’re watching the draft, that even in a multi-billion dollar industry, the draft is an inexact science:
3rd round picks— Russell Wilson, Fran Tarkenton, Joe Montana
6th round pick— Tom Brady
14th round pick— Deacon Jones
17th round pick— Bart Starr
Not drafted— Kurt Warner

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. 

Saturday’s 2nd List of 13: Random stuff with the weekend here

13) When the NFL Draft takes place next week, Roger Goodell will announce the teams’ draft picks from the basement of his home in Bronxville, NY; he will become yet another person on TV whose basement looks nicer than my living room. Go figure.

12) At one point last fall, I was debating going to Las Vegas for next week’s draft, which became a moot point; they jacked up the hotel prices a lot, so I didn’t make any plans. Curious to see what the prices will be like out there when Las Vegas re-opens for business.

Read something about the 2022 Draft being in Las Vegas; it has become a good event to move around the country, maybe putting it in cities that won’t get to host a Super Bowl.

11) Long time ago, can’t remember exactly what year, maybe the late 80’s, a local TV station held an open tryout for a sports anchor position. For some misguided reason, I tried out for the job, reading off a teleprompter (which was cool) while trying not to have a nervous breakdown. It was a fun experience, but I was pretty nervous.
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Part of what made it easier is that I knew I wasn’t winning this competition, I have a face made for radio, but it was still important to do well. The scores I had to read off the teleprompter contained the name of Mets’ pitcher Bobby Ojeda, so if you weren’t knowledgeable about baseball, that name would’ve tripped you up.

My cousin’s husband was an engineer at that station back then; he told me I did well, but he is a really good guy, so he may have been being nice. As it turns out, a young lady I went to high school with got the job.

Not sure why I thought of that today; maybe watching so many people broadcast from their homes reminded me of it.

10) Was watching the Mets clinch the ’86 NL East the other night, because I watch a lot of old games now; Cubs’ starting pitcher that night was Dennis Eckersley, who won 157 games as a starter, then became one of the best closers in baseball with the A’s.

How about this trade?
— A’s acquired: Dennis Eckersley and Dan Rohn
— Cubs got: Brian Guinn, Mark Leonette, Dave Wilder, none of whom ever made the majors.

9) On August 1, 1972, San Diego Padres swept a doubleheader in Atlanta, winning 9-0/11-7; their first baseman was Nate Colbert, who had one of the greatest days in baseball history:

Colbert was 7-10 in the two games, with five homers, 13 RBI, seven runs scored. He was a power hitter for bad Padre teams: from 1970-72, he hit 103 homers, knocked in 281 runs.

8) If you like pro football, I recommend Peyton’s Places on ESPN or ESPN+; lot of historical NFL stuff, and it is well done.

They had two episodes on ESPN Monday night, both geared around Green Bay; Brett Favre was driving Peyton Manning around Green Bay is a dark green Corvette Stingray that belonged to Bart Starr, the car he won for winning MVP in the very first Super Bowl. Lot of history.

7) Speaking of retired QB’s, Tony Romo only got his CBS gig only after Jay Cutler returned to the playing field, getting $10M to play one year for the Dolphins. Now that Cutler has retired again, how come he hasn’t re-surfaced on network TV?

If you’ve ever seen the reality show Very Cavallari on E!TV, that show is about Cutler’s wife, who owns some kind of a clothing business in Nashville. Cutler appeared on it once in a while; he has a low-key humor, would be curious to hear if he was good at analyzing football games.

6) When Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game for the A’s on Mother’s Day 2010, the last out was made by Gabe Kapler, now manager of the San Francisco Giants.

5) Two years earlier, Kapler was playing left field in Dodger Stadium; he dove into the stands in the left field corner to rob Russell Martin of a home run, which wound up costing me the title in my fantasy baseball league— I lost total bases by two bases that week. No bueno.

When Kapler later took over as manager of the Phillies, I had five Phillies on my fantasy squad; only one of the five is still there. Now Kapler is manager of the Giants and thankfully, there are no Giants on my fantasy team, nor will there be.

4) Chicago Bulls fired GM Gar Forman after 22 years with the team, the last ten as GM.

3) Last Saturday, a gambler won the early Pick 5 at Gulfstream Park; he banked $524,966.50 on a 50-cent wager- the first two winners were 73-1, 34-1. Good day to be that guy.

2) Not sure what I think about the idea that major league baseball floated about playing this season in the spring training sites, with teams divided by Grapefruit/Cactus Leagues, instead of American, National Leagues. I know for sure I’d be happy to watch the games, but they have to make sure everyone participating would be safe.

Would this be a precursor to permanent geographic realignment in the major leagues?

1) Ever hear of these football teams?
Baltimore Stallions, Memphis Mad Dogs, Birmingham Barracudas, Shreveport Pirates, San Antonio Texans, Las Vegas Posse, Sacramento Gold Miners.

For a very brief time in the mid-90’s, the Canadian Football League had American teams; Baltimore actually won the Grey Cup one year. 

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. 

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

13) In 1955 Jonas Salk decided not to patent his polio vaccine, so that the millions of people who needed it could afford it. It is estimated that his failure to get that patent cost Salk $7,000,000,000, thats billion, with a B.

A guy passed up seven billion dollars, just to help other people.

12) By way of contrast, I read that the current president’s daughter has a trademark on coffins, and my blood boils. Who in that position buys a trademark on BLEEPING COFFINS???? She wants to capitalize on people dying; 23,000+ people have died from COVID-19 already.

I talk about the Showtime TV show Billions a lot; great show. One of the key subplots of the show is that Bobby Axelrod got really, really rich in the aftermath of 9/11; he was the only member of his firm who was out of the office when the towers were hit by two airplanes— everyone else died, but he became one of the wealthiest people in the country, trading stocks in the aftermath of that horrible event.

Sketchy ethics, but its a fictional TV show; the trademark on coffins is very bleeping real.

11) I work pretty hard here at providing information and keeping things positive, but I wake up every day, and 800-900 more people have died and it is heartbreaking, even moreso when you know that most of this was avoidable, if our federal government was competent/honest.

Moving on to happier stuff…….
10) In their history, Dodgers have retired ten numbers; nine of the guys played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Don Sutton is the only non-Brooklyn Dodger to have his number retired, although in the 30 years since Fernando Valenzuela left LA, no Dodger has worn number 34.

9) WR Brandin Cooks has played six years in the NFL; he had 1,000+ receiving yards in four of those six seasons, but still, he’s already been traded three times.

— Traded by the Saints (with a 4th-round pick) to New England for 1st/3rd round picks.
— Traded to the Rams (with a 6th-round pick) for 1st and 6th round picks
— Traded to the Texans (with a 4th-round pick) for a 2nd round pick.

Cooks helped the Rams win the NFC title two years ago; can he replace DeAndre Hopkins?

8) From his Twitter feed, Rick Pitino’s all-time best high school players:
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
— Moses Malone
— Lebron James
— Kobe Bryant
— Pearl Washington
— Len Bias
— Patrick Ewing

7) Watching replays of last year’s LSU football games and NFL Draft previews, and I wonder to myself, how the hell was Joe Burrow the #3 QB at Ohio State?

6) CBS fired Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts, replaced him on NFL telecasts with Charles Davis. Davis is a good analyst, but so is Fouts.

Drew Brees will work on NBC football telecasts after his playing days are over.

5) ESPN has a 10-part series on Michael Jordan’s Bulls coming out soon; it was originally supposed to begin airing June 3, but has been pushed up to Sunday, April 19.

4) Georgia Tech was banned from ACC/NCAA tournaments this spring, events that wound up not happening. Despite that, Tech’s probation is over; they’re eligible for both next season.

3) XFL has laid off most all of its employees; no one is saying if the league will be back next spring. Popular wisdom was that under normal circus stances, the XFL would’ve been back in 2021, so we’ll see. NFL should take a hard look at some of their rules innovations, which were carefully thought out and could help the game.

2) A lesson in persistence; the great basketball coach Dean Smith made it to 11 Final Fours, but he didn’t win a national title until his 7th Final Four, in 1982.

1) Over the last decade, the best college basketball teams ATS (regular season):
— Virginia 163-104
— South Dakota State 147-102
— Tulsa 153-113
— Wichita State 156-115
— Villanova 158-125
— Michigan State 162-129

Monday’s Den: Western Conference teams for our 3-on-3 tournament

Western Conference:
Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic, Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitski

Denver Nuggets: Alex English, Dan Issel, David Thompson

Golden State Warriors: Wilt Chamberlain, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson

Houston Rockets: James Harden, Calvin Murphy, Hakeem Olajuwon

Buffalo Braves/Los Angeles Clippers: Jamal Crawford, Danilo Gallinari, Bob McAdoo

Los Angeles Lakers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson

Memphis Grizzlies: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, David West

Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant, Jeff George, Russell Westbrook

Phoenix Suns: Connie Hawkins, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudamire

Portland Trailblazers: Clyde Drexler, Damien Lillard, Bill Walton

Cincinnati Royals/Sacramento Kings: Mitch Richmond, Oscar Robertson, Chris Webber

San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan, George Gervin, Manu Ginobili

Utah Jazz: Adrian Dantley, Karl Malone, John Stockton

Seattle SuperSonics: Freddie Brown, Spencer Haywood, Gary Payton

Sunday’s Den: A hypothetical, 32-team, 3-on-3 tournament

Here is a hypothetical, 32-team 3-on-3 tournament with guys from all 30 NBA teams, plus players from the old Seattle SuperSonics and a team of guys from the ABA.

Eastern Conference/ABA (will post West teams tomorrow)
Atlanta/St Louis Hawks: Pete Maravich, Bob Pettit, Dominique Wilkins

Boston Celtics: Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, Robert Parish

Brooklyn/NY/NJ Nets: Rick Barry, Derrick Coleman, Jason Kidd

Charlotte Hornets: Larry Johnson, Glen Rice, Kemba Walker

Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Reggie Theus

Cleveland Cavaliers: Brad Daugherty, Lebron James, Mark Price

Detroit Pistons: Grant Hill, Bob Lanier, Isiah Thomas

Indiana Pacers: George McGinnis, Reggie Miller, Victor Oladipo

Miami Heat: Tim Hardaway Sr, Alonzo Mourning, Dwayne Wade

Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief

New York Knicks: Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Bernard King

Orlando Magic: Nick Anderson, Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal

Philadelphia 76ers: Charles Barkley, Julius Erving, Hal Greer

Toronto Raptors: Vince Carter, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valančiūnas

Washington Bullets/Wizards: Bradley Beal, Elvin Hayes, Earl Monroe

ABA: Mack Calvin, Billy Cunningham, Artis Gilmore

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

13) Average salary in the NBA was $6,388,007 last season, yet Portland star CJ McCollum estimated this week that a third of NBA players live paycheck-to-paycheck. Yikes.

12) Apparently, NBA players get paid on the 1st and 15th of all 12 months, unlike NFL players, whose pay is based on their 17-week schedule.

11) ESPNU did a cool thing Thursday night; showed college games of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning.

Keith Jackson called the Cal-Oregon game that Rodgers played in; if ESPNU just re-broadcast all of Jackson’s TV games, I’d be glad to tune in.

10) I’ve talked about the movie Heat before, and the great scene with Al Pacino/Robert DeNiro when they meet in a diner; DeNiro playing a bank robber, Pacino a cop trying to catch him and his partners.

Turns out that was the first time DeNiro/Pacino had appeared on the screen together. If you get a chance to see this movie, watch it. Very good..

9) At some point this summer, I’ll run a list of best-ever announcers, and I’m guessing that Al Michaels will be on top of the list; what a career he is having. He was the Reds’ radio guy in the early 70’s, in the Big Red Machine days. Then he did the 1980 Olympic hockey games, and now he does NFL games, and he is really good at all of it.

8) Ralph Northam is the governor of Virginia; he is the only current governor in this country who is also a medical doctor.

7) The last two NFL MVPs were first round draft picks acquired with a draft day trade-up; Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes.

6) Rams traded WR Brandin Cooks and a 4th-round pick next year to Houston for a 2nd-round pick in this year’s draft; Cooks is very fast, but had concussion issues last year and missed a few games— he helps the Texans replace the departed DeAndre Hopkins.

5) When Bo Jackson got an artificial hip in 1992, he hit a home run on the first pitch he saw when he returned, which is pretty amazing. He hit the homer off of Neal Heaton.

4) Watching lot of old ballgames being re-broadcast these days, I had forgotten there used to be AL and NL umpires, and they called balls/strikes differently. Umps also had lot more power than they do now; for long time, replays of close calls weren’t allowed to be shown on video screens in the ballpark. Now they’re talking about robot umps; no bueno.

3) Doug Williams is famous for winning the Super Bowl with the Redskins, but fact of the matter is that Williams’ career record with Washington was only 8-9, but 3-0 in the playoffs.

Williams was largely responsible for Tampa Bay becoming a good team; he was 38-42-1 as a starter for the Buccaneers; now remember, he joined the Bucs in their third year of existence- they were 2-26 in their first two seasons, so Williams is more of a Tampa Bay icon, but you become a legend for winning titles, so Williams is a Redskin legend.

2) Fernando Valenzuela won 175 games in 17 years in the majors, the first 11 of which came with the Dodgers. Since he left LA in 1990, no Dodger has worn number 34- they haven’t retired his number, but maybe they have, unofficially.

1) Wednesday would’ve been Jim (Catfish) Hunter’s 74th birthday; my boyhood idol, Hunter was a Hall of Famer who helped the A’s win three consecutive World Series. Also:
— He never threw a pitch in the minor leagues.
— He threw a perfect game on May 8, 1968, and drove in three of the four runs the A’s scored in their 4-0 win over Minnesota.
— He won 224 games, throwing 181 complete games in his career.
— He was named to eight All-Star games; if he didn’t get in the game, chances are I was in a bad mood the next day. LOL
— He was 9-6, 3.26 in 19 postseason starts.
— He also was a career .226 hitter, damn good for a pitcher.

Catfish became my favorite player because Topps spelled his name wrong on his rookie baseball card, and I, as a weird 5-year old, noticed it. Funny how things work out. 

Friday’s Den: Mike picks his top 13 sports moments…….

My friend Mike is WAY smarter than me; here are his 13 top sports moments, in chronological order:
1936— Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the Berlin Olympics.

1947— Jackie Robinson’s first major league baseball game.

Robinson’s brother Mack Robinson finished 2nd to Jesse Owens in the 200-meter race in the ’36 Olympics; both of them broke the existing Olympic record.

1956— Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

Two years before that perfect game, Larsen went 3-21, 4.37 pitching for the Orioles. He is probably one of the few people to play for both the St Louis Browns and Houston Astros. 

1958— Colts 23, Giants 17 (OT): NFL title game that vaulted the NFL into a national sport.
— Frank Gifford scored a TD, Pat Summerall kicked a FG for the Giants.
— Colts blew a 14-3 halftime lead; they outgained the Giants, 452-266
— Raymond Berry caught 12 passes for 178 yards; 27 years later, he coached the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

1971— The first fight between Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier; it was the first time that two undefeated boxers fought each other for the heavyweight title.

Frazier won a unanimous decision, but lost the next two meetings.

1973— Secretariat wins the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths, taking the Triple Crown. 31 lengths is roughly 248 feet, according to Wikipedia.

1980— USA 4, Soviet Union 3— Semi-final game of the Olympic Games.

One of the great upsets in sports history; Russia had beaten the Americans 10-2 in an exhibition game in New York City a week or two before this.

1984— Boston College 47, Miami 45— Flutie-to-Phelan 48-yard TD pass on the last play of the game provides one of the greatest endings in college football history.
— Flutie passed for 472 yards, Bernie Kosar threw for 447.
— Coaches: BC: Jack Bicknell, Miami: Jimmy Johnson
— TV announcers: Brent Musberger, Ara Parseghian, Pat Haden

1986— Jack Nicklaus wins his sixth Masters title at age 46, 23 years after his first title.

1988— Steffi Graf’s tennis calendar:
— won Australian Open
— won French Open
— won Wimbledon
— won US Open
— won an Olympic gold medal

1992— Duke 104, Kentucky 103 (OT)— East Regional final is Philadelphia is remembered for Christian Laettner’s game-winning shot after a 70-foot inbounds pass from Grant Hill.
— Duke shot 65% from the floor, 72% inside the arc.
— Kentucky shot 12-22 on the arc, 58% inside it.
— Duke was 28-34 on foul line, Kentucky was 17-23.

— Laettner scored 31 points; Jamal Mashburn scored 28.
— Bobby Hurley scored 22 points, had 10 assists.
— Grant Hill played 37:00 off bench, scoring 10 points.

1993— Bulls 87, Jazz 86— Chicago wins its third NBA title in a row, and its sixth in eight years.
— Michael Jordan scored 45 points, going 12-15 on line.
— Bulls were +16 with Scottie Pippen on floor, -15 with him off it.
— Steve Kerr played 24:00 for the Bulls, had 3 assists, but didn’t take a shot.

1999— USA Woman’s soccer team beats China to win the World Cup. 

Thursday’s List of 13: Athletes who later became politicians

1) Bill Bradley— Great college player at Princeton, scored 12.4 ppg in his NBA career, winning two NBA titles with the Knicks. Served three terms in the US Senate; he ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 2000, but because he is smart/boring, he didn’t win- our country is no longer sharp enough to elect someone who is as smart as Bradley.

2) Jack Kemp— Went to Occidental College with Jim Mora Sr; played QB for the Chargers, Bills for 10 years in the AFL, after he threw 18 passes for the ’57 Steelers.

Kemp served 18 years in the House of Representatives; he tried for the Republican nomination in 1988, but obviously didn’t win. Kemp’s son Jeff played QB for 11 years in the NFL.

3) Gerald Ford— Played center for Michigan’s football team, was in the House of Representatives for 24 years, became Vice President when Spiro Agnew quit, then became our 38th President when Richard Nixon resigned.

4) Tom McMillen— Played ball for Lefty Driesell at Maryland; their ’74 team is probably the best team that never made the NCAA tournament, back when you had to win your league to make the tournament. McMillen played 11 years in the NBA, mostly for the Atlanta Hawks, but he finished with Washington, a bit of foreshadowing.

A Rhodes Scholar who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was in high school, McMillen served six years in the House of Representatives.

5) JC Watts— Julius Caesar Watts ran the Wishbone offense at Oklahoma under Barry Switzer, then played in the CFL, for Ottawa/Toronto. He is an ordained Baptist minister, and also served four terms in Congress, representing Oklahoma.

6) Jim Bunning— Won 224 games in a 17-year major league career; he was a 7-time All-Star, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996. Bunning threw a perfect game against the Mets in June of 1964.

He then served 28 years in public office, representing Kentucky. He is the only person ever to be both a US Senator and a baseball Hall of Famer.

7) Kevin Johnson— Went to college at California, then scored 17.9 ppg in a 13-year NBA career, just about all of it with the Phoenix Suns— he played part of his rookie season with Cleveland.

He served two terms as the mayor of Sacramento; without him, the Kings would be playing home games in Seattle or Las Vegas or somewhere else.

8) Alan Page was a really good defensive tackle, mostly for the Minnesota Vikings; he finished up with the Bears. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

After his playing days, Page was elected as a justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, where he served for 24 years.

9) Heath Shuler— Played QB for the Tennessee Vols, then struggled in four years in the NFL, with the Redskins, Saints, starting 22 games.

Shuler served six years in the House of Representatives, from North Carolina.

10) Steve Largent— Scored 100 TD’s in 200 NFL games, catching 819 passes in a 14-year career that put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Largent represented Oklahoma in the House of Representatives for eight years.

11) Dave Bing— Played college ball at Syracuse with Jim Boeheim, then scored 20.3 ppg in a 12-year NBA career, mostly with the Detroit Pistons. He was a very good guard.

Bing was later the mayor of Detroit for four years, from 2009-13.

12) Jon Runyan— Played 14 years in the NFL, mostly for the Philadelphia Eagles; he started out with the Oilers/Titans, finished up with the Chargers.

Runyan served four years in Congress from 2011-15, representing New Jersey.

13) Tom Osborne— Nebraska’s longtime football coach (255-49-3) also played in the NFL for a couple years with the Washington Redskins, catching 29 passes in 24 career games.

Osborne served six years in Congress from 2001-07, representing Nebraska. 

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

13) First two days of the NCAA basketball tournament are my favorite two days of the year; 32 games in eight different places over two days, four games in each arena. 

Only once have all four underdogs won SU in one place on the same day; the first round games of the ’08 tourney in Tampa:
— San Diego (+10.5) 70-69 over UConn (OT)
— Western Kentucky (+4.5) 100-99 over Drake (OT)
— Siena (+6.5) 83-62 over Vanderbilt
— Kansas State (+3) 80-67 over USC

12) Which two teams have faced each other the most in the NCAA’s?
Marquette-Kentucky have met 10 times, with Marquette winning six of them.

North Carolina/Villanova, San Francisco-UCLA have met seven times each.

11) There was a weird story on CNN Monday about an assistant comptroller in Illinois racing to a McDonald’s parking lot with a check for over $3.4M, to pay some guy so the state could get its medical supplies that it needs. Seriously, thats what its come to these days.

Luckily, the woman didn’t get pulled over for speeding, and Illinois got its supplies. This is 2020; you’d think our system of government would work better than this.

10) The great actor Tommie Lee Jones played guard on Harvard’s football team; in 1968, he was first-team All-Ivy League. His college roommate? Former Vice President Al Gore.

9) Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker kicked a 77-yard field goal off a tee on an empty field last week, pretty impressive.

8) Golf gurus have re-scheduled the three majors for later this year- the British Open has already been cancelled for this year:
— PGA August 6-9
— US Open September 17-20
— Masters November 12-15

7) Odd golf record: Stuart Appleby holds the Masters record, going 50 consecutive holes with no hole over par; he still only finished T31 that year, 2001.

Francesco Molinari had a 49-hole streak.

6) Boston College jumped from the Big East to the ACC, mainly for its football program; Missouri jumped from the Big X to the SEC, I guess for financial rea$on$.

I know this; it hasn’t helped either school on the field/court. Mizzou lost its best rivalry games with Kansas/K-State, costing them lot of money that way.

5) Was watching an old Nebraska-Missouri football game the other night, from 1997; Tigers upset Nebraska as a 29-point home underdog. Brent Musberger/Dan Fouts announced the game; Mizzou’s coach was Larry Smith, who parlayed his success at Mizzou to get the USC job a few years later.

Just seems weird that Missouri is in the SEC now; they’ve disappeared off of TV, for the most part. Not all change is positive change.

4) One of my all-time favorite TV shows was Mr Ed, about a talking horse who only talked to Wilbur Post, the guy who owned the barn he lived in.

Want to win a bar bet? The voice of Mr Ed was former western star Allen (Rocky) Lane.

3) Baseball trivia:
— The great hitter Ted Williams, maybe the greatest hitter ever, didn’t like the handle of his bats to be smooth.
— Back when Williams played in the 50’s, bottle caps on beer/soda bottles were metal, not plastic; Williams would take a bottle cap and scrape the handle of his bat, to get a better grip on its uneven surface.

2) Lot of sadness in the world these days; we say goodbye to these athletes:
— Al Kaline, a great outfielder for the Tigers. He was 85
— Bobby Mitchell, a Hall of Fame RB/WR for Browns/Redskins. He was 84.
— Tom Dempsey, 73, kicked the first 63-yard FG in NFL history.

RIP, gentlemen.

1) One small upside of our current situation; with the stay-at-home order in place, crime in Los Angeles has dropped 23% since the pandemic kicked in. The sooner everyone stays inside their homes, the quicker this nightmare will be over. 

Tuesday’s Den: 13 of the biggest comebacks in NFL history

13) 9-23-79— Oilers 30, Bengals 27 (OT)— 0-3 Cincinnati led 24-0 at home in 2nd quarter, behind two rushing TD’s by Pete Johnson, but needed a 55-yard FG by Chris Bahr to send game to OT, after Oilers outscored them 17-0 in 3rd quarter. Earl Campbell ran ball for 158 yards for the Oilers, who wound up losing AFC title game at Pittsburgh that year.

12) 9-23-79— Broncos 37, Seahawks 34— September 23 was a big day for comebacks that year. Seattle led 34-10 early in 3rd quarter, behind a Jim Zorn-led offense, but Denver stormed back and scored game’s last 27 points, with Craig Morton throwing three TD passes. Broncos wound up losing Wild Card game 13-7 to the afore-mentioned Oilers in the Astrodome.

11) 12-4-77— Vikings 28, 49ers 27— Niners led 24-0 in 3rd quarter, running 2nd half kickoff back for a TD, but Tommy Kramer came off bench for Minnesota and was 9-13/188 with three TD passes, leading Vikings to the comeback win. 49ers threw ball for only 57 yards in this game, with Jim Plunkett under center.

10) 12-15-74— Dolphins 34, Patriots 27— Another loss for Jim Plunkett, who led New England to a 21-0 first quarter lead, but Earl Morrall (15-23/288, two TD passes) rallied Miami back for its 11th win of the year- they lost to the Raiders 28-26 in their first playoff game. Melvin Baker caught four balls for 121 yards, two TD’s for the Dolphins.

9) 10-23-60— Broncos 31, Patriots 24— Boston, playing on road for 3rd week in row, stormed out to a 24-0 lead, with Butch Songin throwing three TD passes, but Frank Tripucka rallied the Broncos back, throwing four TD passes, two to Al Carmichael. Denver outscored the Patriots 17-0 in the 4th quarter, and improved to 4-2- it was their last win of the season (4-9-1).

8) 10-25-59— Eagles 28, Cardinals 24— Philly improved from 2-9-1 to 7-5 in ‘59; they trailed 24-0 in 3rd quarter of this game after Night Train Lane had a pick-6 off Norm Van Brocklin, but the Eagles scored the last 28 points of the game, with the Dutchman throwing two TD passes, and Billy Ray Barnes running for two more. Philly won the NFL title the next season.

7) 10-20-57— Lions 31, Colts 27— Week 1 of NFL season in ’57 was September 29; times have changed. Colts led this game 27-3 early in 3rd quarter after a Lenny Moore TD, but Bobby Layne threw two TD passes in relief of Tobin Rote and Detroit won, despite completing only 12 of 34 passes for the game. Both teams were 3-1 after this game; Lions won the NFL title that year- they haven’t won one since.

6) 10-5-14— Browns 29, Titans 28— Tennessee led 28-3 in 2nd quarter after Charlie Whitehurst threw a 75-yard TD pass, but Cleveland blanked the Titans in 2nd half, and Brian Hoyer rallied the Browns to the win, which evened their record at 2-2. Taylor Gabriel caught four passes for 95 yards for Cleveland.

5) 12-6-92— Rams 31, Buccaneers 28— Rams had lost four of previous five games, trailed 27-3 at halftime of this one, but Jim Everett threw for 342 yards and three 2nd half TD’s. Both teams turned ball over three times in a primetime game that drew only 38.387 fans in Tampa. Vinny Testaverde threw two TD’s for the Bucs, who also scored a special teams TD.

4) 2-5-17— Patriots 31, Falcons 28— Atlanta led 28-3 early in 3rd quarter, but frittered away lead and lost a chance to win their first Super Bowl. Brady was 43-62/466 passing, completing 14 of them to RB James White, who scored three TD’s, two of them on ground. Patriots had 37 first downs, outgunned Atlanta by 202 yards (546-344).

3) 9-21-97— Bills 37, Colts 35— Indy led 26-0 in 2nd quarter, behind a Jim Harbaugh TD pass and four FG’s, but Todd Collins (23-38/275) railed Buffalo back for the win. Antowain Smith carried the ball 12 times for 129 yards, three TD’s. Marshall Faulk ran ball 16 times for 77 yards for Indy, two years before he won a Super Bowl with the Rams.

2) 12-7-80– 49ers 38, Saints 35 (OT)— New Orleans was 0-13 coming into this game, but they led 35-7 at halftime behind Archie Manning, who was 24-38/377, with three TD passes. 49ers rallied back for the win behind Joe Montana; they would win their first Super Bowl the next year. Saints avoided a winless season when they beat the Jets the next week.

1) 1-3-93— Bills 41, Oilers 38 (OT)— Houston led 35-3 early in 3rd quarter of this playoff game, after Bubba McDowell’s pick-6, but backup QB Frank Reich threw four TD passes, three of them to Andre Reed, as Buffalo stunned the Oilers, won two more playoff games and wound up winning the AFC title. Reed caught eight passes for 136 yards in this game.