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

13) RIP Don Shula, 90, who passed away Monday. One of the all-time great coaches.

— Was a head coach in the NFL for 33 years.
— Was 71-23-4 as coach of the Baltimore Colts, winning the NFL title in ’68 but losing that Super Bowl to the AFC champion Jets.
— Was 257-133-2 as coach of the Miami Dolphins, winning two Super Bowls.
— His ’72 Dolphins are the last unbeaten team in NFL history.

12) This kind of sums up how great a coach Shula was:
— He went 5-4 as a head coach against George Halas; Halas started coaching in 1920.
— He went 2-0 as a head coach against Bill Belichick, who is still coaching.

11) So who would be on. Mt Rushmore of NFL head coaches?
I’m assuming Vince Lombardi and Belichick would be there.

That leaves Shula, Chuck Noll, Joe Gibbs, Bill Walsh, Tom Landry to battle it out for the last two spots. Not a decision I would want to make. (I’d choose Shula and Noll)

10) Shula has two sons who are coaches:
— David Shula was head coach of the Bengals from 1992-96; it didn’t go well. After working in the family’s steakhouse business for 20 years, he is now the WR coach at Dartmouth
— Mike Shula is the QB coach for the Denver Broncos; he was the head coach at Alabama before Nick Saban, and has coached for four different teams since then.
— Grandson Chris Shula worked the last three years as a linebacker coach for the Rams.

Elsewhere in the world……..
9) NFL will release its schedule Thursday night; no international games this season, and no one is 100% sure that this schedule will go on as planned. Things could be pushed back, games could be played in empty stadiums.

But at least on Thursday night, I can occupy myself researching games that may or may not be played. Hopefully they’ll choose the option that is the safest for the most people.

8) Was watching Game 1 of the 1969 World Series Monday night, Mets-Orioles in Baltimore, an Orioles’ win that ended the Mets’ 361-game winning streak in games replayed on SNY during the pandemic. Game was in black/white, Curt Gowdy on the call.

— Orioles’ pitching coach was George Bamberger, who later managed the Mets (1982-83)
— Bamberger was replaced as Mets manager by Davey Johnson, who played 2B for the Orioles in that World Series, and made the final out in Game 5.

7) Bill O’Donnell was one of the Orioles’ radio announcers; he was on this NBC broadcast for a while; during one of Frank Robinson’s at-bats, O’Donnell talked about how Robinson was a manager in the Puerto Rico winter league, and how Robinson wanted to manage in the majors, not the minor leagues. 

Six years later, Robinson was named player/manager of the Cleveland Indians.

6) Most career buzzer-beating game-winning shots in NBA history:
9— Michael Jordan
8— Magic Johnson, Joe Johnson

5) Watching The Last Dance on ESPN, it is sad that the Bulls had such a great run but their GM seemed pretty eager to break the nucleus up. Jerry Krause is deceased, so he isn’t around to defend himself, but good grief, give the players credit for winning, even if you’re lying.

NBA is a players’ league and has been for a long time now. Look at Golden State this year; their great players got hurt, and they went in the ashcan. Would’ve been nice if Krause could’ve sat back, enjoyed the Bulls’ success without trying to overshadow the players.

4) Had forgotten that the Atlanta Hawks used to play home games in the Georgia Dome; in 1998, Bulls-Hawks drew 62,000 fans. For a regular season game. Wow. Thats kind of appeal Jordan had back then.

3) I’ve been reading lot of stuff about the old ABA; Indiana Pacers-Kentucky Colonels once had a playoff series in 1970 where they played three games in less than 48 hours. Imagine players today having playoff games on three consecutive days? They’d stage a walkout.

2) John Calipari’s son Brad is a backup guard at Detroit Mercy; the Titans are playing a game in Rupp Arena on November 13, the guarantee check the school gets is their reward for giving the kid a scholarship and playing time for two seasons.

Brad Calipari played about 17:30 a game LY, shooting 38% from the arc for a bad 8-23 Detroit team whose best player, Antoine Davis, slumped to 32.4% on the arc after shooting 38% as a freshman. Davis is the son of head coach Mike Davis.

1) Some good news; Brooke Baldwin and Chris Cuomo are back in CNN’s studios, after winning their struggles with COVID-19. Glad to see that. 

Tuesday’s List of 13: The Professor’s favorite non-fiction books…….

These are 13 of my favorite non-fiction books, for content, but also as important is the writing/storytelling

1) “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson- Book about the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and its chief architect; there’s also a serial killer stalking young women in the Windy City (cannot recommend Larson enough, all of his books are great stories and so well written and researched)

2) “Troublesome Young Men” by Lynne Olson- About the MPs (members of the British Parliament) who understood the threat that Nazi Germany posed beginning in the mid 1930s and they fought to make England prepared for a coming conflict

3) “The Best and the Brightest” by David Halberstam- A character study of the men in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations most responsible for dragging the US into a shooting war in Vietnam

4) “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough- About the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, centers around the chief architect and builder, local story for me and the Armadillo, as the guy is a graduate of RPI (McCullough is one of the greatest writers in the 20th century, and also lent his voice to tons of public television narration over the years)

5) “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt- Memoir of growing up in Ireland during the Great Depression; at times you’ll laugh and cry on the same page. 

6) “Passionate Sage” by Joseph Ellis- A short biography of John Adams, one of the greatest characters in American history and the most underrated “Founding Father”, the book centers on his post-presidency years

7) “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Paul Elie- Joint intellectual biography of writers and prominent Catholics Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, Dorothy Day and Flannery O’Connor

8) “The Long Gray Line” by Rick Atkinson- A look at the lives of the men who graduated West Point in 1966, takes them through their Vietnam War experiences and beyond

9) “A Drinking Life” by Pete Hamill- Memoir of the great New York City tabloid journalist. 

10) “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets” by David Simon- Simon followed around Baltimore homicide detectives in the 1980s; this book became the basis of several television shows, including The Wire. 

11) “Selected Speeches and Writings” by Abraham Lincoln- The best American-born writer, and a pretty decent political leader. 

12) “A Testament of Hope” by Martin Luther King Jr- Collected speeches and writings of the great civil rights leader. 

13) “Ask Not” by Thurston Clarke- An in-depth look at the Inaugural Address of John F Kennedy

Monday’s Den: Random thoughts on a spring day

13) Dallas Cowboys gave Andy Dalton $7M to be Dak Prescott’s backup this year. Dalton had been expected to go to Jacksonville, where Jay Gruden is the new OC, but Dalton returns to the Dallas-Fort Worth area-  he went to college at TCU.

12) NBA TV showed the 1983 Detroit-Denver game, the highest scoring game in NBA history:
— Detroit 186, Denver 184, in triple OT

— Isiah Thomas scored 47 points, John Long 41, Kelly Tripucka 35
— Kiki Vandeweghe scored 51, Alex English 47, Dan Issel 28

— How the sport has changed; each team took two 3-pointers, THE WHOLE GAME!!!

Game was 74-all at halftime. TR Dunn played 36:00 for Denver, took 3 shots. Nuggets had only seven assists on 68 field goals. Lot of 1-on-1 play, not a lot of passing.

11) Lot of kids declare for the NBA Draft but don’t hire an agent, so they can get evaluated at the NBA Combine, but this year, there is no Combine, so do the kids go back to school, or take a chance that someone will draft them? Pretty important decision.

10) DePaul will play home/home with crosstown rival Loyola, starting this winter; Cincinnati-Louisville also started a series. This is going to be a growing trend; non-conference opponents located close to each other will play each other more, to reduce travel expenses, increase attendance at the games.

9) Nolan Ryan threw 2.1 innings for the Mets in the ’69 World Series, at age 22.

Ryan pitched another another 24 seasons in the major leagues, but never got back to the World Series. His team made the playoffs four times after that; Ryan wound up with a 2-2, 3.07 mark in nine post-season games (7 starts).

8) Before the NFL Draft ended, Carolina Panthers came to an agreement to sign free agent QB Tommy Stevens as a free agent; one small problem, New Orleans Saints found out about the agreement, traded back into the draft and chose Stevens in the 7th round.

Stevens wouldn’t even have started Mississippi State’s bowl game, but the freshman QB who beat him out got his eye busted up by a teammate in a fight during practice, so Stevens got the nod. Not sure a 7th round QB was worth getting fined by the league, but no one asked me.

7) Now you can get a driver’s license in Georgia without taking a road test; what genius came up with that idea? What could possibly go wrong?

6) Over the last two years, NFL receivers with the most receptions of 15+ yards:
88— Julio Jones
73— Mike Evans
69— Michael Thomas
69— Robert Woods

5) College basketball players have five years to play, should they miss a year because of injury of illness or personal issues. But Ivy League players don’t have that option.

This season, these college basketball teams will have Ivy League grad transfers:

Alabama, Duke, Michigan, Ohio State, Seton Hall

4) Read online, and this made me feel better, that lot of people now struggle to remember what day of the week it is. Thought I was the only one, but when you have activities and habits, a week has a template of how it unfolds. During football season, if I’m writing my NFL articles, that means it is Tuesday or Wednesday; if I’m logging stats into my notebook, it is Monday, and so on and so forth.

With nothing going on, every day becomes the same, and it really doesn’t matter what day it is. Hopefully that will change soon.

3) These are boring times, for sure; have to be creative with what I do to amuse myself, but I draw the line at watching cornhole tournaments on ESPN. No thank you.

2) Pro golfer Mark Calcavecchia posted on Twitter this week that he played golf this week for the first time in 52 days. Wonder when was the last time he went that long without golfing, except for being injured?

1) RIP Matt Keough, 64, who passed away this weekend; the former big league pitcher was in the majors for nine years- he went 16-13, 2.92 for the 1980 A’s, finishing 20 of his 32 starts, but he was never the same after being overused that season. RIP, sir. 

Sunday’s List of 13: Random stuff on a very quiet weekend

13) One of the advantages of my advanced age is these days, when old broadcasts of ballgames are on TV, I enjoy watching most of them. Brings back some good/bad memories.

One thing about those older broadcasts; graphics weren’t on the screen all the time. Now I’m spoiled by having time/score/pitch count on the screen at all times.

12) Thursday night, NBC Sports Network showed three old bowl games; watched all three, and it was fun, though not as fun as live baseball.

Dick Enberg had one game; was a pleasure to hear his voice. What a great announcer he was; Tom Hammond and Don Criqui had the other two games- also very good. 

I’d forgotten what a good football analyst Bob Trumpy was; he spoke his mind honestly. You don’t hear as much of that these days.

11) Last of the three games was Miami-Oklahoma for the national championship, when Jimmy Johnson won his first national title. You think Jerry Jones watched that game? They would be the next two head coaches of Jones’ Cowboys, as well as old friends.

Oklahoma ran the Wishbone offense; very little passing, and when they did pass, they didn’t do it well. But they did run the ball really well. This was the last game of the season; it was the first time the Sooners trailed in the fourth quarter all year.

10) When they start baseball back up, in no way, shape or form do I want automated umpires, or the stupid extra innings option to eliminate games going longer.

Doubleheaders with 7-inning games would be fine; having tie games would be OK.

One question; if they go with 10 teams playing in three different states, is this the beginning of the universal designated hitter?

9) 1993 San Francisco Giants won 103 games but didn’t make the playoffs; they finished a game behind the Braves in the NL West (yes, Atlanta was in the freakin’ West).

MLB added the Wild Card in each league in 1995.

8) I’d like it if the NFL added the XFL extra point options, and also their kickoff rules, maybe especially the kickoff rules. It seemed to lessen violent collisions, but there was also action on most every kickoff.

After a touchdown, XFL teams could go for one point from the 2-yard line, two points, from the 5-yard line, three points from the 10. After five weeks, no one seemed to know what the best option was- it was legitimately interesting to see what teams did.

7) Would the NBA resume at Disney World, where they play AAU games in the summer? They could play eight games at a time under one roof. Las Vegas would also like to be considered to be an option for the NBA- they have a lot of arenas starving for action.

6) NASCAR is starting up on May 12 at Darlington; there will be an actual live sport on TV, even if it is a sport I don’t follow and know very little about. Believe me, I’ll probably be watching it; I do like the pit stops. Wish I could get my car worked on that quickly.

5) Bengals released Andy Dalton this week; Cincinnati may not be the best organization in the NFL, but Dalton was 70-61-2 as a starter for the Bengals. Pretty, pretty good.

4) Tua Tagovailoa figures to be the NFL’s only left-handed QB this coming season, and the NFL’s first lefty signal-caller since Kellen Moore, who started two games for Dallas in 2015- he is now the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator.

3) Jameis Winston had LASIX surgery recently, says it has greatly improved his blurry vision. Does that mean he won’t throw 30 INT’s the next time he is an NFL starter?

2) One thing about baseball umpires in the 80’s/90’s; their strike zones could be anything, at any time. Nowadays, because of the micro-managing MLB has done to make things a lot more consistent, strike zones are pretty much the same.

Was watching an A’s game from 1991; the home plate ump was all over the place, and the A’s won the game, so I’m not complaining.

1) Excellent movie/TV trivia from KL Wheat: In the 50’s/60’s, there was a prominent actor named Bob Cummings. He was in over 100 movies/TV shows, and he was also a pilot.

Not only was Cummings a US Army Air Force pilot during World War II, his godfather was Orville Wright. Cummings was stationed for a while at Oxnard, CA; he received flight instructor certificate #1–the first flight instructor to ever receive a license.

2 for Saturday: Christy talks about her home state, and Chris the Bartender’s favorite sports movies…….

Christy tells us about the best things about her home, Louisiana:

PEOPLE:  I haven’t lived anywhere else so I can’t offer an unbiased opinion. I can tell you that for the most part, the people here are hard working, resourceful innovators who, as long as you don’t cross them, will bend over backwards to help you. Without questions……without expectations.

I think there is a great misconception that we are simple minded as opposed to a people desiring a simple life. The culture here is thick with history, superstition, slang, racism … there are many divisive opinionated ideas on every subject and the how and why of things … but most times hospitality overcomes out of respect for one another. Some of us have blended with our culture and see past the hostility. 

LAND:  The land here is green throughout the year. Wildlife thrives, the rivers and creeks usually full of fish but you do have to watch out for predators… alligators, snakes, etc. The weather is volatile at times. But I love the smell of the pine after storms and the feel of grass underfoot. Gardening is year round. I love that … playing in the dirt. Eating from the vines. Between the wildlife and gardens, the food source here is diverse. We eat very well.

FOOD:  I remember sipping coffee from demis tasse (very small) cups at my grandma’s kitchen table when I was about 4. Always gumbo and a percolator on the stove. Fig cake wasn’t far off if the figs from the backyard tree were in season. She wouldn’t speak English, though she understood every word … even spoke French to her chickens she fed from the back screen door.

My other grandmother also had us sipping coffee from her kitchen table while she cooked… Lots of vegetable soups and casseroles. Both had backyard gardens. I didn’t learn to cook from recipes but from sight, smell, and taste. You use what you have. Tis true in life as it is with everything else … Pots on the stove nonstop.

The reputation of spicey foods in Louisiana is not always the case. We are able to grow so much but most of our food can be seasoned on the table. You learn to cook what you like and with what you have. We use what we need, use and make it ” a little more” … just because life is good …” laniappe.”  A little somethin’ extra … ordinary.

Saturday’s List of 13: Chris the Bartender’s favorite sports movies

Everyone has their own favorite sports movies. Here’s mine

1. Rocky
As I said before, I could watch this movie all the time 

2. The Natural
Great baseball movie, great cast and great acting 

Wilfred Brimley’ s best role 

3. Caddyshack 
Again three words Tadeusz Wladyslaw Konopka (Look it up)

Armadillo: That would be Ted Knight’s real name. 

4. Major League 
“Nice catch, Hayes. Don’t ever F@&$ing do it again” Lou Brown manager Cleveland Indians 

5. The Replacements 
Just a fun movie to watch

6. Field of Dreams
Even with all the historical baseball inaccuracies, what man doesn’t want to have a catch with his father once again 

7. League of Their Own
Tom Hanks was brilliant in this movie 

Made me go to Cooperstown the next day

8. Legend of Bagger Vance 
Great golf movie with a great cast 

9. Tin Cup
Don Johnson was phenomenal in this 

Another really good golf movie and cast

10. Brian’s Song
Tearjerker (Most men won’t admit that)

Good football movie 

Just not the remake

11. Hoosiers
Probably the only basketball movie I’ve ever watched 

Gene Hackman’s best role since playing Lex Luther in Superman 

Just give the ball to Jimmy 

12. Miracle 
The story of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team 

Kurt Russell was very good a portraying Herb Brooks

Too bad Herb Brooks died just before the movie’s release 

13. The Wrestler
Not many movies have been made depicting the life and times of a washed up wrestler

Both Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei were nominated for an Academy Award for their roles