Wednesday’s Den: All-time lineups for AL West teams

All-time rosters, (for players since 1960):
AL West teams
Oakland A’s
C- Terry Steinbach
1B- Mark McGwire
2B- Miguel Tejada
SS- Bert Campaneris
3B- Sal Bando
OF- Rickey Henderson
OF- Reggie Jackson
OF-  Jose Canseco
DH- Jason Giambi
SP- Catfish Hunter
SP- Dave Stewart
SP- Tim Hudson
SP- Vida Blue
RP- Rollie Fingers

Houston Astros
C- Craig Biggio
1B- Jeff Bagwell
2B- Jose Altuve
SS- Carlos Correa
3B- Alex Bregman 
OF- Jose Cruz 
OF- Cesar Cedeno
OF- George Springer
DH- Lance Berkman 
SP- Roy Oswalt
SP- Dallas Keuchel
SP- Nolan Ryan
SP- Mike Scott
RP- Billy Wagner

Los Angeles Angels
C- Bob Boone
1B- Wally Joyner
2B- Bobby Grich
SS- Jim Fregosi 
3B-  Doug DeCinces
OF- Mike Trout
OF- Garrett Anderson 
OF- Tim Salmon
DH- Darin Erstad  
SP- Nolan Ryan
SP-  Chuck Finley  
SP- Jered Weaver
SP- John Lackey
RP- Troy Percival

Seattle Mariners
C- Dan Wilson 
1B- Alvin Davis
2B- Robinson Cano 
SS- Alex Rodriguez
3B- Adrian Beltre
OF- Ken Griffey Jr
OF- Ichiro Suzuki
OF- Jay Buhner 
DH- Edgar Martinez
SP- Randy Johnson
SP- Felix Hernandez
SP- Jamie Moyer
SP- Freddy Garcia
RP- Edwin Diaz

Texas Rangers
C- Ivan Rodriguez
1B-  Rafael Palmeiro
2B- Ian Kinsler
SS- Michael Young
3B- Adrian Beltre
OF- Juan Gonzalez 
OF- Ruben Sierra
OF- Nelson Cruz
DH- Frank Howard  
SP- Kevin Brown
SP- Charlie Hough
SP- Bobby Witt 
SP- Dick Bosman
RP- John Wetteland

2 Lists for Twosday: Unusual baseball careers, and our KBO Weekly Report

Lou Piniella:
— Won Rookie of the Year with the Royals in 1969, after making his MLB debut with the Orioles in ’64, and playing six games for the Indians in ’68.
— Hit .291 for his career, won two rings playing in the Bronx.
— 1,835 wins as a manager, winning the’90 World Series with Cincinnati.

Herb Washington:
— Scored 33 runs, stole 31 bases despite never batting in a big league game.
— Was a track star at Michigan State; was a pinch-running specialist.
— Helped the A’s win the ’74 World Series, their third in a row.

Nate Colbert:
— From 1969-72, slugging 1B hit 127 homers for the expansion Padres.
— Made three straight All-Star Games, was out of baseball four years later.
— Hit .155 in 342 at-bats for teams other than San Diego.

Jim Bouton:
— Went 39-20 in 67 starts for Bronx in 1963-64 at ages 24-25, then went 18-39 the rest of his career.
— Wrote Ball Four, a diary of his 1969 season with the Pilots/Astros.
— Retired in 1970, came back in 1978 as a knuckleball pitcher for Atlanta, stating five games.

Bob Uecker:
— Hit exactly .200 in 732 AB’s over six years as a backup catcher.
— Has 14 TV/movie acting credits, including 118 episodes of Mr Belvedere, and did a ton of TV commercials, most notably Lite Beer from MIller.
— Still works a partial schedule (home games) on Milwaukee Brewers’ radio.

Orlando Cabrera:
— In 2006, reached base in 63 straight games, longest streak since 2001, 6th-longest of all-time.
— Played 15 years in the majors for nine different teams.
— All-time record for reaching base is 84 games in a row (Ted Williams, 1949)

Dave DeBusschere:
— Was 3-4, 2.90 in 36 games (10 starts) for the ’62-’63 White Sox.
— Became famous playing 12 years in the NBA, winning two titles with the Knicks.
— Was player/coach of the Detroit Pistons when he was 24 years old.

Mark Budaska:
— Batted 41 times in 13 big league games, over two seasons.
— In his MLB debut, June 6, 1978, he batted with no name on the back of his uniform; Boston radio guys had no idea who he was until the next inning.
— Was a hitting coach for the Cardinals the last three seasons.
— Trivia: June 6, 1978 was 14 years to the day before I got married. Moving on…….

Diego Segui:
— Pitched for the expansion Seattle Pilots (’69), expansion Seattle Mariners (’77).
— Went 20-18, 2.83 in 73 games (40 starts) for the 1970-71 A’s.
— Pitched in the playoffs for the ’71 A’s, ’75 Red Sox.

Rick Monday:
— Was first player taken in the first amateur draft, in 1965.
— Hit 241 homers, had a .361 OB% in his 19-year career.
— To this day, still works Dodger games on the radio.
— Once saved an American flag from being burned during a game at Dodger Stadium.

Nick Adenhart:
— Started four big league games for the Angels, at ages 21-22.
— April 8, 2009, he threw six shutout innings, but was in a tragic car accident later that night, when a drunk driver ran a red light and t-boned the car Adenhart was riding in.
— To this day, whenever I go thru a 4-way intersection, I take an extra look because of that.

Mark Fidrych:
— Went 19-9, 2.34 at age 21, finishing 24 of his 29 starts.
— Hurt his arm , went 10-9 the rest of his career, was out of baseball at age 25.
— Didn’t strike out many guys; even in his great season, he struck out only 97 hitters in 250.1 IP.

Scott Hatteberg:
— Had a .361 OB% in his 14-year major league career.
— Hit walk-off homer for the A’s in their 20th consecutive win, in 2003.
— Had a .434 OB% in 17 career playoff games.
TV highlight of the day: SNY ran a Mets-Astros playoff game from 1986, at same time MLB Network was showing a Rays-Astros playoff game from last year. 1986 was a National League game, last year an American League game. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a quiet weekend……..

13) In a not-so-stunning development, New England Patriots will lose a 3rd-round draft pick in the 2021 draft and pay a $1.1M fine with their crew not allowed to record games during the 2020 season. 

Members of New England’s TV team were discovered recording from the Cincinnati Bengals’ press box during the Bengals’ home game against Cleveland last year.

12) In a personnel move whose timing was probably designed to drown out the NFL’s punishment, New England signed QB Cam Newton to a one-year contract worth a maximum of $7.5M.

11) College football trends from Marc Lawrence:

— Hawai’i is 5-0 ATS coming off an overtime win.
— Oregon is 1-8 ATS coming over an overtime win.
— Northwestern is 8-0 ATS as an underdog coming off an OT win.

10) Washington State’s basketball team signed top international prospect Andrej Jakimovski, a 19-year-old from North Macedonia. Jakimovski is a 6-7 wing who played last year in the second division of Italian professional basketball, but played on an amateur contract.

9) Former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman has 29 film credits on IMDB, that’s how many movies get filmed in America’s favorite city.

8) I live just outside Albany, NY; if you’re looking for a fun thing to do this summer, the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown just opened up again— it is about 80 miles from Albany, a nice scenic drive on a summer day. Good pizza place, Sal’s is across from the Hall of Fame.

7) Over/under on home runs for any player this season in a 60-game season: 20

6) 24 new head coaches in college football this season; going to be difficult for them to put their new systems in, if there is a season.

5) I don’t get the appeal of fireworks; people are starting to shoot them off around here, which is fine, I just understand why people like them— never have.

4) Last time a pro golfer hit every fairway for an entire tournament was Brian Claar in 1992; it has happened only four times since 1980, and none of those four guys won that tournament.

3) Dustin Johnson won the PGA tournament in Hartford; he has now won at least one event the last 13 years in a row.

2) Ominous note for college sports; 10 junior colleges in Maricopa County, AZ suspended sports for the coming sports year because of the Coronavirus.

1) Job advice of the week: If you’re going to be trying out for an NFL team next month, it is a bad idea to get arrested for DUI this month.

Cardinals’ undrafted rookie WR Jeremiah Braswell was arrested Saturday after allegedly driving his car into Lake Erie while under the influence. No bueno.
TV highlight of the day: FS1 had the 1978 All-Star Game on Sunday:
— Biff Pocoroba caught the 9th inning of the game, his one All-Star appearance.
— Bob Uecker interviewed former President Gerald Ford during the game. 

Sunday’s Den: AL Central all-time rosters, since 1960

All-time rosters, (for players since 1960):
AL Central teams
Chicago White Sox
C- Carlton Fisk
1B- Paul Konerko
2B- Nelson Fox
SS- Ozzie Guillen
3B- Robin Ventura
OF-  Carlos Lee
OF- Tim Raines
OF- Harold Baines
DH- Frank Thomas
SP- Mark Buehrle
SP- Alex Fernandez
SP- Wilbur Wood
SP-  Joel Horlen
RP- Bobby Thigpen

Cleveland Indians
C-  Victor Martinez
1B-  Jim Thome
2B-  Carlos Baerga
SS- Omar Vizquel
3B- Buddy Bell
OF-  Michael Brantley
OF-  Grady Sizemore
OF- Kenny Lofton
DH- Carlos Santana
SP- CC Sabathia
SP- Sam McDowell
SP- Charles Nagy
SP- Cliff Lee
RP- Cody Allen

Detroit Tigers
C- Bill Freehan
1B- Norm Cash
2B- Lou Whitaker
SS- Alan Trammell
3B- Aurelio Rodriguez
OF- Al Kaline
OF- Willie Horton
OF- Magglio Ordonez
DH- Miguel Cabrera
SP-  Justin Verlander 
SP- Denny McLain  
SP- Mickey Lolich
SP-  Jack Morris
RP- Todd Jones

Kansas City Royals
C- Salvador Perez
1B- Eric Hosmer
2B- Frank White
SS- Fred Patek
3B- George Brett  
OF- Hal McRae
OF-  Carlos Beltran
OF-  Alex Gordon
DH- Whit Merrifield
SP- Bret Saberhagen
SP- Dennis Leonard 
SP- Paul Splittorff
SP- Mark Gubicza
RP- Dan Quisenberry 

Minnesota Twins
C-  Joe Mauer
1B- Kent Hrbek
2B- Rod Carew
SS- Zoilo Versalles
3B- Harmon Killebrew
OF- Tony Oliva
OF- Kirby Puckett
OF- Torii Hunter
DH- Justin Morneau
SP- Jim Kaat  
SP- Bert Blyleven
SP- Frank Viola
SP- Brad Radke  
RP- Joe Nathan

Friday’s Den: All-time rosters for AL East teams (since 1960)

All-time rosters, (for players since 1960):

AL East teams
Baltimore Orioles
C- Rick Dempsey
1B- Boog Powell
2B- Brian Roberts
SS- Cal Ripken Jr
3B- Brooks Robinson
OF- Frank Robinson
OF- Brady Anderson
OF- Nick Markakis
DH- Manny Machado
SP-  Jim Palmer
SP- Dave McNlly
SP-  Mike Cuellar
RP- Gregg Olson

Boston Red  Sox
C- Carlton Fisk
1B- Mo Vaughn
2B- Dustin Pedroia
SS- Nomar Garciaparra
3B-  Wade Boggs
OF- Carl Yaztrzemski
OF-  Manny Ramirez
OF-  Jim Rice
DH- David Ortiz
SP-  Roger Clemens 
SP-  Pedro Martinez
SP-  Jon Lester
RP- Jonathan Papelbon

New York (AL)
(My friend Chris the Bartender did most of this one)
C-  Thurman Munson
1B-  Don Mattingly
2B- Robinson Cano
SS-  Derek Jeter
3B-  Alex Rodriguez
OF- Mickey Mantle
OF- Dave Winfield
OF- Reggie Jackson
DH- Jorge Posada
SP- Ron Guidry
SP-  Andy Pettitte
SP- Whitey Ford
SP-  Mike Mussina
RP- Mariano Rivera

Tampa Bay Rays
C-  Dioner Navarro
1B-  Fred McGriff
2B-  Ben Zobrist
SS-  Julio Lugo
3B-  Evan Longoria
OF-  Carl Crawford
OF-  BJ Upton
OF-  Kevin Kiermaier
DH- Aubrey Huff
SP-  James Shields
SP-  David Price
SP-  Scott Kazmir
SP-  Chris Archer
RP-  Roberto Hernandez

Toronto Blue Jays
C-   Ernie Whitt
1B-  Carlos Delgado
2B- Roberto Alomar
SS- Tony Fernandez
3B-  Josh Donaldson
OF-  Vernon Wells
OF-  Lloyd Moseby
OF-  Jose Bautista 
DH- John Olerud
SP-  Roy Halladay
SP-  Dave Stieb
SP- Jimmy Key
SP- Juan Guzman
RP-  Tom Henke

Wednesday’s List of 13: Some of my favorite TV/movie quotes

13) “There’s no such thing as a sure thing, thats why they call it gambling.”
Oscar Madison, The Odd Couple

12) “I’ve got a trig midterm tomorrow and I’m being chased by Guido, the killer pimp.”
Miles, Risky Business

11) “You’re a goddamn quarterback! You know what that means? It’s the top spot, kid. It’s the guy who takes the fall. It’s the guy everybody’s looking at first – the leader of a team – who will support you when they understand you. Who will break their ribs and their noses and their necks for you, because they believe. ‘Cause you make them believe. That’s a quarterback.”
Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday

10) “He’s a great player, but I don’t think we can get him in academically.”
Jerry Tarkanian, Blue Chips 

9) “You just got lesson number one: don’t think; it can only hurt the ballclub.”
Kevin Costner, Bull Durham

8) “…..you find out life’s this game of inches, so is football. Because in either game – life or football – the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second……”
Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday

7) “Listen, Lupus, you didn’t come into this life just to sit around on a dugout bench, did ya? Now get your ass out there and do the best you can.”
Walter Matthau in The Bad News Bears

6) “God likes me!!! He really, really likes me!!! What a day!!! What a fabulous day!!!”
Richard Dreyfuss in Let It Ride

5) “Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth…….”
Billy Bob Thornton, Friday Night Lights

4) “……here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”
Mike McDermott, Rounders

3) “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own

2) “Who’s the U-boat commander?”
Auto repair guy, in Risky Business, when the Tom Cruise’s father’s Porsche winds up in Lake Michigan, and then in a repair shop to be cleaned up

1) “Do whats in your heart, son. You’ll be fine.”
Robin Williams, from Good Will Hunting

Sunday’s Den: Best 3 managers for each NL team (since 1969)

Arizona Diamondbacks:
— Bob Brenly— 303-262 in four years, won the ’01 World Series.
— Buck Showalter— 250-236 in three years, going 100-62 in 1999, Arizona’s 2nd year as a major league team.
— Torey Lovullo— 260-226 the last three years, all winning seasons, despite their letting their best player (Paul Goldschmidt) walk away.

Atlanta Braves:
— Bobby Cox— Hall of Fame skipper won five NL pennants, ’95 World Series.
— Fredi Gonzalez— 434-413 in six years, went 1-4 in two playoff appearances.
— Brian Snitker— 318-292 in four years, made playoffs last two seasons.

Chicago Cubs:
— Joe Maddon— Won Cubs’ first World Series in over 100 years, got dumped three years later.
— Leo Durocher— 535-526 in seven years; his best Cub team got beaten out by the Miracle Mets in 1969.
— Don Zimmer— 265-258 in four years, getting ’89 Cubs to the playoffs.

Cincinnati Reds:
— Sparky Anderson— 863-586 in nine years, splitting four World Series.
— Lou Piniella— 255-231 in three years, winning 1990 World Series.
— Dusty Baker— 509-463 in six years; Reds haven’t been over .500 since he left.

Colorado Rockies:
— Clint Hurdle— Had only one winning season, but he won NL title in 2007.
— Bud Black— 249-238 the last three years.
— Don Baylor— Rockies’ first manager; had two winning seasons out of six.

Los Angeles Dodgers:
— Tommy Lasorda— Won four NL titles, two World Series.
— Walter Alston— Won four World Series, including ’55 Series for Brooklyn/
— Dave Roberts— 393-256 in four seasons, only 25-22 in playoffs.

Miami Marlins:
— Jack McKeon— Managed 3.5 seasons in Miami, won ’03 World Series.
— Jim Leyland— Managed two seasons in Miami, won ’97 World Series.
— Fredi Gonzalez— 276-279 in four seasons; had two winning years.

Milwaukee Brewers:
— Tom Trebelhorn— Had only one losing season in five full years in Milwaukee.
— Craig Counsell— Averaged 90.3 wins/year the last three seasons.
— Harvey Kuenn— 160-118 in 1.5 years, won ’82 AL pennant as an interim skipper.

New York Mets:
— Davey Johnson— 595-417 in 6+ years, won ’86 World Series.
— Gil Hodges— Managed ’69 Miracle Mets, passed away at age 47.
— Bobby Valentine— 536-467 in seven years, won 2000 NL pennant.

Philadelphia Phillies:
— Charlie Manuel— 780-636 in nine years, won two NL pennants, ’08 World Series.
— Danny Ozark— 594-510 in seven seasons, made playoffs three times.
— Larry Bowa— 337-308 in four seasons, three of them over .500.

Pittsburgh Pirates:
— Jim Leyland— Led Pirates for 11 years, winning 96.3 games/year from ’90-’92.
— Danny Murtaugh— 15 years, four different stints; won ’60, ’71 World Series.
— Chuck Tanner— 711-685 in nine years, won ’79 World Series.

St Louis Cardinals:
— Whitey Herzog— 822-728 in 11 years, won three pennants, ’82 World Series.
— Tony LaRussa— 1408 wins in 16 years, won World Series in ’06, ’11.
— Red Schoendienst— 1041-955 in 14 years, won ’67 World Series.

San Diego Padres:
— Bruce Bochy— Won 951 games in 12 years, won NL pennant in ‘98.
— Dick Williams— 337-311 in four years, won NL pennant in ’84.
— Bud Black— Had only two winning seasons in nine years; not lot of other choices.

San Francisco Giants:
— Bruce Bochy— Won three World Series; will be in Cooperstown in July, 2025
— Dusty Baker— 840-715 in ten years, won NL pennant in ’02.
— Roger Craig— 586-566 in eight years, won ’89 NL pennant.

Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals:
— Felipe Alou— Managed Expos for 10 years; his best team was in ’94, Eason that got ended by the work stoppage.
— Dave Martinez— 175-149 the last two years, won World Series last year.
— Dusty Baker— 192-132 in two years; why doesn’t anyone stay in Washington? 

Saturday’s List of 13: Some memorable sports blunders……

13) December 26, 1919— Red Sox trade Babe Ruth to New York, for $100,000. Ruth hit 49 homers in 162 in six years for the Red Sox- he was 89-46, 2.19 in 143 starts on the mound, but in the Bronx, he pitched only five games (5-0, 5.52) but hit 659 home runs. 

Red Sox didn’t win a World Series for 86 years after this trade.

12) April 30, 1956— St Louis Hawks of the NBA draft a big man named Bill Russell with the 2nd pick of the draft, then trade him to the Boston Celtics, for Ed Macauley, who neatr the end of the trail, and Cliff Hagan, who went on to score 17.7 ppg in his NBA career. Not bad. 

Here’s the thing: Bill Russell is one of the five greatest players in basketball history; he was in the NBA for 13 years, and won 11 titles- he lost in the Finals once. Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968; had they held on to Bill Russell, it is safe to say that they’d still be in St Louis.

11) There have been many QB-related blunders in the NFL Draft, but this one stands out:

April 27, 2017, the Chicago Bears gave the 49ers two 3rd-round picks and a 4th-round pick to move up ONE SPOT in the ’17 Draft. Chicago then drafted QB Mitch Trubisky, who is 23-18 as a starter in his three NFL seasons, not a terrible record, but…….

Other players taken in the first round of the 2017 Draft:
2nd— QB Mitch Trubisky, Chicago
3rd— DE Solomon Thomas, San Francisco
8th— RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina
10th— QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
12th— QB Deshaun Watson, Houston

Whoops.

10) Some more QB-related screw-ups in the NFL Draft:
1994— Redskins took Heath Shuler with the 3rd pick of the draft; he went 4-9 as a starter in three years with Washington, was out of the NFL four years later.
1998— Chargers took Ryan Leaf with the 2nd pick; he went 4-14 as a starter for San Diego, was out of the NFL by 2001.
1999— Bengals took Akili Smith with the 3rd pick; he went 3-14 as a starter over four years, never played for another NFL team.
2007— Raiders took JaMarcus Russell with the 1st pick of the entire draft; in three years, he went 7-18 as a starter, and never played for another NFL team.

9) December 10, 1971— Mets traded 24-year old Nolan Ryan and three other guys to the Angels, for 29-year old SS Jim Fregosi, who had already played 11 years for the Angels, making it to the All-Star Game six times.

Ryan went to pitch for 27 years in the majors, winning 324 games; his last year as a pitcher was Fregosi’s 10th (and best) year as a major league manager. Fregosi hit .233 in two years with the Mets- he played five more years after leaving New York.

8) Drew Brees was a free agent after the 2005 season; his shoulder had been a problem, but it had been worked on, and he was looking to sign on with the Miami Dolphins. Miami doctors advised the Dolphins not to take a risk on his shoulder, so they signed Daunte Culpepper instead of Brees. Yikes.

Culpepper started four games for Miami, went 1-3, was in Oakland the next season. Coach of the Dolphins back then? A guy named Nick Saban, but he bolted for LSU after that season.

Brees is 133-83 as a starter for the Saints, and he is still rolling, all thew ay to the Hall of Fame.

7) Holy Cross’ decision not to join the Big East Conference in 1979, citing a commitment to academics. What a disaster; from 1975-79, the Crusaders went a combined 102-42, making the NCAA’s once, NIT three times- they were good enough to play in the Big East. Not sure how having 12 basketball players in your school screws up the academics of an entire college.

Instead of joining the Big East, which would’ve been lucrative for their lucrative for their athletic department, and made life a lot easier for their fundraisers, Holy Cross joined the Patriot League, where they had a strong run from 2000-07 for Ralph Willard, but for the most part, they’ve been buried in obscurity.

Boston College got the Big East’s invite when Holy Cross turned theirs down.

6) Some NFL Hall of Famers got overlooked in the NFL Draft:
— Tom Brady was a 6th round pick
— Kurt Warner wasn’t picked at all.
— John Unitas was a 9th-round pick in 1955, then the Steelers cut him.

5) August 30, 1990— Red Sox traded 22-year old minor leaguer Jeff Bagwell to Houston, for reliever Larry Andersen; Bagwell went on to hit 449 home runs in a 15-year career with the Astros. He got inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.

37-year old Andersen pitched only 15 games for the Red Sox; he allowed two runs in three IP in the playoffs that fall, and left for San Diego as a free agent that winter. Not often a team gives up a Hall of Famer, for a guy who pitches 25 innings for you.

4) Golfer Jean Van de Velde led the 1999 British Open by three strokes with one hole to play; all he had to do to win his first major was double-bogey the 18th hole, but he triple-bogeyed that hole, then lost in a playoff, a stunning collapse that was difficult to watch.

3) Some NBA trades that wound up one-sded:
January 15, 1965— San Francisco Warriors traded Wilt Chamberlain for Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann (not the actor) and Lee Shaffer.

June 22, 1987— Seattle SuperSonics drafted Scottie Pippen, then traded him to Chicago with another 1st round pick, for 1st and 2nd-round picks, and Olden Polynice.

June 24, 1998— Milwaukee Bucks drafted Dirk Nowitzki, then traded him to Dallas for Robert Traylor, who scored 4.8 ppg in his 7-year NBA career. Oy.

2) Stanford’s band once cost them a ballgame— On November 20, 1982, Cardinal scored with 0:04 left to take the lead against arch-rival Cal; a win that would’ve clinched a bowl bid for Stanford, but Stanford band members (as well as some Cardinal players) ran out onto the field before the Cal ballcarrier was tackled, and the Cal player made his way into the end zone in the craziest ending in college football history.

That was John Elway’s last college football game; he never played in a bowl game until he played in the Super Bowl.

1) Giants moving to San Francisco, while the Dodgers moved to LA— Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley was moving his team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958; he figured that having a second team in California would be a wise business move (for him, at least), so he convinced Giants owner Horace Stoneham to move his club to San Francisco. Stoneham had been looking to move the Giants to Minneapolis.

When the Giants’ owners were brought to Candlestick Point, where their new ballpark was going to be built, they were there during the day, but at nighttime, when games were played, that location next to the bay, often had strong winds often swirled down into the stadium, creating unusual playing conditions.

At the time of its construction in the late 1950s, the stadium site was one of the few pieces of land available in the city that was suitable for a sports stadium and had space for the 10,000 parking spaces promised to the Giants. Compared to Dodger Stadium, Candlestick was a dump, but 50 years later, the Giants built a new ballpark and finally got it right. 

TV highlight of the day: ESPNU showed an old college baseball game, San Diego beating San Francisco 2-0 in the WCC title game, with a freshman reliever getting his first college start, and throwing a shutout. Cubs’ 3B Kris Bryant played for San Diego in this game. 

Thursday’s List of 13: Our list of the top 13 college hoop coaches (since 1980)

These are coaches who coached in the ESPN era, from 1980 on, except for one guy; we made an exception for him.

13) Jim Boeheim— Has been at Syracuse as a player or coach since the early 60’s; he’s won 1,065 games, won the NCAA Tournament in 2003; in seven years as an ACC member, Syracuse is 70-58 in conference games, 28-28 the last three years. Would’ve like to have seen Boeheim’s reaction when he heard that Syracuse was getting out of the Big East, to help the football program. It sure hasn’t helped the basketball program.

Here’s how spoiled Syracuse fans are; I was in the Carrier Dome one night, Syracuse was #2 in country- it was the night after the Super Bowl. Syracuse gets beat at home by Pittsburgh, and the fans boo them off the court; they were #2 in the country!!! Tough crowd.

12) Roy Williams— 15 years at Kansas, 17 years at North Carolina, two pretty good gigs. Coach Roy has made nine Final Fours, won three national titles. This past season would’ve been only the third time in 32 years he missed the NCAA tournament.

Problem with doing a list like this is weighing which is harder to do; keep a program rolling when you inherit it, or turning things around where there was nothing. Williams has coached at two of the nation’s elite programs, and done a great job both places.

11) Lute Olson— Replaced Jerry Tarkanian at Long Beach State, went 24-2, then bolted for Iowa, where he went 165-93, making the Final Four in 1980. From there he went to Arizona and built a national power, going 587-190, making four Final Fours, winning the ’97 national title.

He was Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott’s college coach; I read Andre Iguodala’s book last fall, and he didn’t have many good things to say about Olson, which is too bad, seeing how Olson helped make Iguodala into a player who has earned $170M in his NBA career.

10) Jim Calhoun— He was head coach at Northeastern for 14 years (248-137) before going to UConn, where he won 629 games, three NCAA titles, making it to four Final Fours. He is still coaching; he runs St Joseph’s, a D-III team in the Nutmeg State.

Big East was a hell of a league before it broke apart; Calhoun won the regular season title ten times in Storrs, put lot of guys in the NBA. His last three years at Northeastern, he went 75-19.

9) Rick Pitino— You know a guy’s career is very complicated when he’s coached Kentucky and Louisville, the Knicks and the Celtics. He also coached in the movie Blue Chips, beating Nick Nolte’s Western U Dolphins early in the movie.

Five D-I coaching stops, he’s won 770 games, and now Iona will be the sixth team this fall. He got Providence to the ’87 Final Four, went 219-50 at Kentucky, 416-143 at Louisville, winning two national titles, in 1996, 2012.

8) Tom Izzo— Since 1976, Michigan State has had two basketball coaches; Jud Heathcoate and Izzo. In 25 years in East Lansing, Izzo is 628-241, making eight Final Fours, winning the 2000 national title, which oddly enough, is the last time a Big 14 team won a national title.

Izzo has won 10 regular season titles in the Big 14; he doesn’t get the 5-star recruits like Duke or Kentucky, but he’s had great players and he’s developed guys into great players, like Draymond Green and Mateen Cleaves. Izzo is 11-2 in his last 13 first round games in the NCAA tourney.

7) Bobby Knight— Lot of people would have him higher on this list, but he was a miserable person, a bully to the media/refs, a guy who took a lot of the joy out of the game, and that’s coming from guys who worked for him. Once the shot clock came in in the mid-80’s, he couldn’t control the game as well, and his teams regressed some.

Still, Knight had a perfect team in 1976; he won three national titles, and countless coaches around America tried to imitate him, for better or worse. He went 102-50 in six years at West Point, before heading to Indiana, where he made five Final Fours.

I talk about Blue Chips a lot on this site; the basketball scenes were filmed at a high school in Indiana. Nick Nolte spent some time around Knight’s program to get a feel for how college coaches act. The scenes where Nolte’s character flip out in the locker room aren’t fiction, they were things that Knight actually did.

He won a lot of games, so people tolerated a lot of other stuff.

6) John Calipari— You get UMass to a Final Four, you’re in the top on this list. Calipari won the 2012 national title at Kentucky, damn near won the ’08 title at Memphis, blowing a lead late and losing the national title game to Kansas, in overtime. Calipari takes some of the best freshmen in the country, wins a lot of games, watches them bolt to the NBA, then gets more freshmen.

Calipari coached the New Jersey Nets for 2+ seasons, going 43-39 the second year, but after a 3-17 start in the fall of ’99, he was told to take a hike. The guy is a great college coach:
— 193-71 at UMass
— 252-69 at Memphis
— 330-77 at Kentucky

5) Denny Crum— He was a quiet guy so his great record has slipped thru the historical cracks a little; Denny Crum was a UCLA assistant who then coached Louisville for 30 years, making six Final Fours, winning two national titles. His record with the Cardinals: 675-295.

When Crum first coached Louisville, they were in the Missouri Valley Conference; they moved up to the Metro, and later to Conference USA. Not easy coaching in the same state as Kentucky; the teams didn’t play from 1959-83, but because Crum elevated Louisville’s status so much, he forced Kentucky to play them, and it became a great pre-conference rivalry game.

4) Jerry Tarkanian— In the four years before Tark got to UNLV, the Runnin’ Rebels were 60-46, and they weren’t the Runnin’ Rebels yet.

Jerry Tarkanian’s coaching record:
— Riverside City College 143-22
— Pasadena City College 67-4
— Long Beach State 116-17
— UNLV 509-105
— Fresno State 153-80

UNLV won the 1990 national title; their 11pm/midnight games on ESPN were must-see TV, even for those of us who live in the East. I’d go to work the next day and that would be the first thing we talked about. They were great fun to watch.

Funny thing is, much like Gonzaga today, UNLV raised the profile of its competitors, since they got on national TV a decent amount. New Mexico State, Cal-Santa Barbara had terrific teams because they could recruit excellent players to compete against the Rebels, a lot like St Mary’s and BYU do with the Zags now.

3) Dean Smith— He coached the Tar Heels for 36 years, starting when I was one year old, and retiring when I was 37. He made ten Final Fours, won two national titles. He was synonymous with Tar Heel basketball, using the Four Corners offense before there was a shot clock when he had a great point guard like Phil Ford.

Smith emphasized team play so much that he was once described as “…..the only person who can hold Michael Jordan under 20 ppg”

There was a 1979 game at Duke where UNC used the 4 corners despite trailing and the game was 7-0 Duke at halftime, which is probably part of the reason the shot clock became a thing six years later. That and ESPN’s rise to popularity; no one wanted to watch a team hold the ball for 11 straight minutes.

2) Mike Krzyzewski— Played for Bobby Knight at Army, went 73-59 coaching the Cadets, then got the Duke job two years after they made the Final Four, because the previous coach was mad that Duke wouldn’t pave the coaches’ parking lot. Seriously.

Coach K is 1,084-291 at Duke after going 38-47 his first three years; Now Duke/Kentucky fight over the best high school seniors every spring, with Duke using Krzyzewski’s stature with the US Olympic team as a huge recruiting advantage.

12 Final Fours, four national titles; I feel bad for the poor soul (Bobby Hurley??) who takes over for Krzyzewski. Going to be a lot like Gene Bartow taking over at UCLA for……..

1) John Wooden— This is a list of guys from 1980 on, but John Wooden is the best college basketball coach of all time, so he had to be recognized as such, even if booster Sam Gilbert padded the wallets of various Bruin stars over the years (Bill Walton said as much publicly).

When Wooden coached, you had to win your conference just to get into the NCAA’s; Wooden won seven consecutive national titles, ten in all. He didn’t win his first national title until his 15th year in Westwood, but once he won one, he didn’t stop for a while- he won his 10 titles in his last 12 years as a coach. 

TV highlight of the day: Hoosiers was on, a 2003 A’s playoff game was on (the A’s won in 12 innings), and there was hopeful news that there may actually be a baseball season this summer. We can only hope. 

2 Lists for Tuesday; My list of top college hoop coaches of the ESPN era, #’s 14-26

These are coaches who coached in the ESPN era, from 1980 on, except for one guy on tomorrow’s list, made an exception for him.

26) Jim Harrick— Coached for 24 years at four schools, going 470-235;
— 167-97 at Pepperdine, won four WCC titles
— 191-63 at UCLA, won ’95 national title
— 45-22 at Rhode Island, made NCAA’s both years.
— 67-53 at Georgia, made NCAA’s twice

25) Lou Carnesecca— Went 526-200 with the Redmen; you say he should win at a college in New York City, but what has St John’s won since he left? Not a lot.

Carnesecca got St John’s to the ’85 Final Four, when three Big East teams made it to Rupp Arena in Lexington, the last Final Four without a shot clock. He went 114-138 in three years coaching the ABA’s New York Nets, losing the ’72 ABA Finals to the Indiana Pacers.

24) Pete Carril— Won 11 Ivy League titles in 29 years at Princeton; he won the ’75 NIT, and was 514-261 at Princeton, where he ran an offense lot of teams around the country copied for years. Lot of movement, backdoor cuts; his ’89 Tigers lost one of the most memorable first round games in NCAA tourney history, losing 50-49 as a 22-point underdog to a very good Georgetown team.

After leaving Princeton, Carril was an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings for ten years, working for one of his former players, Kings’ GM Geoff Petrie.

23) John Beilein— Has never been an assistant coach; a lot like Jerry Tarkanian, his NBA experience was short and not so good, but Beilein has coached four D-I programs, and won at least 58.9% of his games at all four schools, making two Final Fours with Michigan.

It is one thing to win at Michigan or West Virginia, but 89-62 at Canisius, 100-53 at Richmond raise some eyebrows. Beilein may still get another chance to coach in college, we’ll see.

22) John Thompson— Went 596-239 in 27 years at Georgetown, making the Hoyas a national title as they became a Big East power. Thompson made 20 NCAA tourneys, got to three Final Fours, won the 1984 national title.

Thompson also screwed up the 1988 Olympic team, when he chose Bimbo Coles ahead of Steve Kerr, but college coaches shouldn’t coach in the Olympics. And if Hersey Hawkins hadn’t have gotten hurt at the Olympics, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. 

21) Jay Wright— Went 122-85 at Hofstra, then moved on to Villanova, made three Final Fours, won two national titles. Last seven years, Villanova is 215-38, winning national title in ’16, ‘18. 

20) Steve Fisher— Won national title as an interim coach at Michigan in 1989, then made Final Four two more times in next four seasons, before he moved on to San Diego State, which up to that point, had almost zero basketball tradition.

In 18 years leading the Aztecs, Fisher won 386 games, made eight NCAA tourneys, got a pretty nice arena built, and coached Kawhi Leonard. In total, he went 571-290 as a college head coach.

19) Eddie Sutton— Coached at five different D-I schools, won total of 806 games, with most of his success at Oklahoma State (368-151), Arkansas (260-75). Sutton made it to three Final Fours, two with the Cowboys- he also went 90-40 in four years at Kentucky.

18) Mark Few— Much like Jerry Tarkanian did at UNLV 30 years ago, Gonzaga is parlaying being the biggest fish in a small pond (WCC) into national prominence. Few has been the head coach of the Zags for 21 years now, going 599-124, making every year except this past year, when there wasn’t an NCAA Tournament (obviously, they would’ve made it)

Gonzaga made the Final Four in 2017; now they’re at the top of every transfer’s wish list- they finished in the AP top 10 five of the last six years. Check out a map; Spokane isn’t exactly near anything, except Idaho. Gonzaga has built something special at an out-of-the-way place.

17) Bill Self— You go 21-7 at Oral Roberts, you move on to Tulsa; you go 32-5 at Tulsa, you move on to Illinois; you go 25-7 at Illinois, you move on Kansas. Not too many people move on from Kansas, Roy Williams being an exception.

Self is 708-214 in his career, 501-109 in Lawrence; he’s made three Final Fours, won the 2008 national title. Kansas won 12 consecutive regular season titles in the Big X.

16) Billy Donovan— Donovan’s Gators are the last repeat NCAA champs, winning in both 2006, 2007; before the NBA came calling, Florida went 467-186 in 19 years under Donovan, making 14 NCAA tourneys, four Final Fours.

He started his head coaching career at Marshall, going 35-20 in two years there; Donovan played for Rick Pitino at Providence, leading the Friars to the 1987 Final Four.

15) Nolan Richardson— 509-207 is a pretty good record, even better when it is Tulsa, Arkansas that won all those games. Razorbacks won the ’95 national title. Richardson made it to 16 NCAA tournaments, three Final Fours. His teams won a lot and were fun to watch. 40 minutes of hell. 

Richardson went 119-37 at Tulsa, winning the NIT in his first year there; current St John’s coach Mike Anderson was his top assistant at Arkansas. He also won the 1980 junior college national title, going 37-0 with Western Texas Junior College.

14) Bob Huggins— 809 wins is a lot of wins; he went 398-128 at Cincinnati, is 291-161 at West Virginia, and still has it rolling there. He’s made 24 NCAA tournaments, making it to a couple Final Fours, in 1992, 2010. Huggins also went 97-46 at Akron, when he was a young coach. 

December 1997, I’m at a prep school tournament on a Sunday night in Siena’s gym here in Albany; I have a Cincinnati Bearcats hat on, am sitting by myself. At halftime of the first game, a guy comes up to me and says hello; it is coach Huggins, who was coaching the Bearcats at the time. We talked for 5-10 minutes; it was pretty cool. He is a good guy.

3-4 years ago, I’m at an AAU tournament in Las Vegas, and while I’m waiting to get let in, who else is sitting there waiting? Coach Huggins; I reminded him of our earlier meeting and thanked him. You wonder how many AAU games these veteran coaches have seen over the years. 

TV highlight of the day: Am watching a movie called The Departed; what a cast.
— Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin
— Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio

Very good movie. 

Sunday’s Den: Happy Armadillo Day!!!!

19 years ago, I started this blog, not knowing where it would lead. Lot of stuff has changed in the world since then, mostly good, but also some not so good. Thanks for reading every day (you DO read every day, right?), hope it makes you think some, and smile some.

Also, if it is Armadillo Day, that means it is my friend Gary’s birthday; he is a very good NFL handicapper (winning record on this site over the last nine years) and he is a funny guy. So we wish a happy 29th birthday (kind of) to the Big Dawg. 

13) Christmas Eve 2016, I’m sitting in the sports book in the Aria casino in Las Vegas, a great place to spend an NFL Sunday. I had been there for a few days already, had struck up some conversations with a pro bettor who was sitting to my left that day. The seat to the right of me was empty.

Early games are winding up; the 4:30ET games are about ten minutes away; this Asian lady, 40-ish, sits in the seat to my right. She has an overcoat on; it was cold out (30’s) that day.

This lady takes out a very thick wad of $100 bills and begins counting, right out in the open, so I count along— she has $7,700. I say, “You must be having a very good day”; she shows me two tickets on the two early games that were still going on, one for $1,500, one for $2,000. Both of those were going to be winners.

So this lady is sitting on $11,200 and has a looseleaf page ripped out of a notebook with her bets for the late games. Lot of bets, teasers and straight bets. I have my Rams wind shirt on that I wear every Sunday; she points at the Rams’ logo and says “They better not play like crap today” with a thick Asian accent.

I laugh and say, “You haven’t been paying attention; they play like crap every week”; this was the year Jeff Fisher had been fired, and John Fassel was the interim coach. Despite being a really bad team, the Rams were favored over an even worse 49ers team.

I ask who her favorite team is and she leaves with these parting words: “I no have favorite team. You have favorite team, you bet with heart. I bet to win.” And with that, she got up and left, and I never saw her again.

Rams led 21-7 in 4th quarter, blew the game 22-21, the last NFL game Colin Kaepernick won.

12) If you had your choice, which quarterback would you choose?

Quarterback A: 31 years old. Career record: 44-42-2 Playoff record: 1-2 
155 TD, 71 INT

Quarterback B: 32 years old. Career record: 28-30 Playoff record: 4-2 (0-1 Super Bowl)
72 TD’s, 30 INT

Quarterback C: 27 years old. Career record: 32-24 Playoff record:  0-1
97 TD, 35 INT

Quarterback D: 25 years old. Career record: 33-21 Playoff record: 2-2 (0-1 Super Bowl)
87 TD, 42 INT

Look thru those four resumes, and pick which guy you would want. I’ll let you know later on which guy is which

11) Lamar Jackson lost his first two playoff games with the Ravens; only two QB’s have gone on to win a Super Bowl after losing his first two playoff games- Peyton and Eli Manning.

10) Week 3 of the NFL this season is weird; no divisional games, not one.

9) Random stat of the Day: November 18, 2012; Texans beat Jacksonville 43-37 in OT; Houston QB Matt Schaub was 43-55 for 527 yards, five TD’s. Amdre Johnson caught 14 passes for 273 yards.

Saw a boxscore of this game the other day; Texans scored two TD’s in last 6:00 to tie the game. Both teams scored in OT. You wouldn’t think of Schaub as a guy to throw for 527 yards.

8) Was watching an old Seahawks game from couple years ago and their kicker got hurt, so when they kicked off, their Australian punter drop-kicked the ball, rather than kick it off a tee. Not something you see very often; he did a good job with it.

7) When Willie Mays became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1979, he got voted in the first year, but 23 people didn’t vote for him- he got 409 of 432 votes. How the bleep do you not vote for Willie Mays to get into the Hall of Fame?

6) The MLB Draft is an odd event; Rickey Henderson, Jeff Bagwell were both 4th round picks. Mike Trout was the 25th guy taken when he was drafted. Mike Piazza only got drafted because his dad was friends with Tommy Lasorda. Strange way to run a billion dollar industry.

5) Wednesday was the first time in their last 17 games that the NC Dinos didn’t score a run in the first four innings; they’ve had a potent lineup, but now their best hitter Roberto Ramos is hurt, so we’ll see how much that hurts them.

4) Doosan Bears are doing pretty well in the KBO this year; there is some urgency for them, since nine of their players are free agents this winter, so they figure to regress next season.

3) Saw a picture of the huge demonstrations in Los Angeles last weekend; lot of people. At one big intersection, there is a huge Pepsi ad on the side of a building, takes up most of the building. Wonder how much that costs?

2) Quarterback A: Kirk Cousins
Quarterback B: Colin Kaepernick
Quarterback A: Carson Wentz
Quarterback A: Jared Goff

1) Good news in Las Vegas; Top Golf is opening next Thursday the 18th, as everything on the Strip slowly begins to re-open. Hopefully people will wear masks and stay healthy. 

TV highlight of the day: Good college football day, they show lot of old SEC and ACC games. College football has changed a lot over the last 25 years.

Saturday’s List of 13: Underrated films that pop up on movie channels

I’m not ranking these, just listing them alphabetically; I enjoyed all these movies, most of which only show up on TV now and then.

13) 21— A fact-based story about six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for a lot of money playing blackjack, before one casino caught on.

Kevin Spacey teaches the team how to work together to win so much money; Laurence Fishburne is one of the guys trying to discourage card counters from working together.

12) Begin Again (2013)— A disgraced music-business executive (Mark Ruffalo) and a young singer-songwriter (Kara Knightley), new to Manhattan, join into a promising collaboration, using New York City as the background. James Corden is great in this as the young singer’s friend from back home.

11) The Bodyguard (1992)— A former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) takes on the job of bodyguard to an R&B singer (Whitney Houston), whose lifestyle is most unlike a President’s.

10) Bulworth (1998)— A suicidally disillusioned liberal politician (Warren Beatty) puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters by talking in rhymes during his interviews/speeches. He then falls for a woman (Halle Berry) who is the hitman that was hired to kill him.

There is a lot that is funny in this movie, and a lot that, 22 years later, still reflects the issues our country is having now. Jack Warden, Don Cheadle, Paul Sorvino; excellent cast.

9) Good Will Hunting (1997)— A janitor at MIT has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

Every time I watch this movie, I feel so bad that while Robin Williams made so many people laugh, he died way too early/tragically. He was so funny, such a good actor.

8) The Hangover (2009)— Three buddies wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and with the bachelor missing. They make their way around the city in order to find their friend before his wedding.

They made two sequels; Hangover II isn’t good, it is basically the same script as the original, except it is set in Thailand, not Las Vegas. Hangover III is pretty funny.

7) Last Vegas (2013)— Four senior citizen friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.

Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen; this is an excellent movie, but hasn’t been on in a while.

6) Let It Ride (1989)— A nosy cab driver (Richard Dreyfuss) gets a hot tip on a racehorse and wins big, but he can’t seem to stop gambling, and he has a very good day. Teri Garr plays his frustrated wife.

If you’ve ever hung around a racetrack, this movie, while a farce, will ring a lot of bells; it is very funny. Jennifer Tilly and David Johansen are very good in supporting roles.

5) Little Big League (1994)— The owner of the Minnesota Twins (Jason Robards) passes away and leaves the team to his 12-year old grandson. The grandson fires the overly critical manager (Dennis Farina) and names himself manager, which raises eyebrows.

4) Love Actually (2003)— The lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London.

Hugh Grant is the Prime Minister, Emma Thompson is his sister, Billy Bob Thornton is the US President. If you need a pick-me-up movie, this is mostly it.

3) Molly’s Game (2017)— The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target. Idris Elba is great as her lawyer. 

This movie actually picks up where the book left off, which is an interesting twist. Kevin Costner has a smallish role as Molly Bloom’s father.

2) This Where I Leave You (2014)— When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.

When my dad passed away five years ago, I came home from the funeral, put the TV on and this was the first thing that was on, which was eerie- I had never seen it. Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, Corey Stoll, a very good cast.

1) Up In the Air (2009)— Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) enjoys living out of a suitcase for his job, travelling around the country firing people, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a potential love interest (Vera Farmiga), and a new hire (Anna Kendrick).

TV highlight of the day: Good night for basketball fans:
— Blue Chips, Hoosiers were both on
— ESPNU ran a bunch of old college games: NC State-UNC, Washington-UCLA were two that I watched. 

Thursday’s List of 13: My 13 favorite/best sports movies

13) The Rookie— Real-life story of a Texas high school baseball coach who makes the major leagues after agreeing to try out if his high school team made the playoffs. Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) got into 21 games over two seasons with Tampa Bay, as a lefty specialist.

The scene where the AAA manager tells Jim Morris is going up to the major leagues is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes.

12) Rocky— Very famous movie about a small-time boxer getting a rare chance to fight a heavy-weight champion in a bout in which his main goal is to go the distance, for his own self-respect.

Lot of sequels to this movie; Rocky III is my favorite of all of them, but the last fight scene in Rocky II, when Rocky wins the title, is really well done.

11) Brian’s Song— This was an ABC Tuesday Night Movie of the Week, a made-for-TV movie that became a huge hit. The movie tells the story of the real-life relationship between teammates Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers and the bond established when Piccolo discovers that he is dying.

I was 11 when I saw this for the first time; I’m pretty sure it was the first time I cried during a movie. When Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) gives a speech at the end of the movie, dedicating his award to Piccolo (James Caan), it is just a very, very touching scene.

10) Draft Day— GM of the Cleveland Browns has the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number one pick. He must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with NFL dreams.

NFL stumbled onto a gold mine because of this movie; they delayed the draft a couple weeks in 2014 to promote this movie, but then Radio City Music Hall wasn’t available for the new date, so they moved the draft to another city- they soon realized that this was a great idea, and now they do it every year.

9) Invincible— Based on the true story of Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg), a 30-year-old bartender from south Philadelphia who overcame long odds to play for the Philadelphia Eagles for three years in the 70’s.

They take some liberties during the movie with the actually football scenes, but as the credits roll at the end, they show the actual plays as they unfolded.

8) Bull Durham— I waver constantly between this movie and Major League, as to which I like better, but I like both of them. Hard to believe they were both made over 30 years ago.

Kevin Costner plays an older minor league catcher whose job it is to home the talents of a young, hot-shot pitcher (Tim Robbins), while both of them try to win the heart of a baseball groupie (Susan Sarandon).

7) Major League— The new owner of the Cleveland Indians purposely puts together a horrible team, so they’ll lose, attendance will tank and she can move the team to Miami (why???), but the team starts winning just to spite her.

Bob Uecker is the Indians’ radio announcer in this movie, which was mostly filmed in Milwaukee, where Uecker works for the Brewers in real life. Uecker is so great as Harry Doyle, I’m only half-joking when I say he should’ve gotten an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

6) One on One— This movie came out when I was a senior in high school; I walked to the theater after school one day, and liked the movie so much I started running home, until I realized it was more than a mile away, so I wised up and walked home, but I loved this movie.

Henry Steele (Robby Benson) is a basketball phenom at his small town high school, but when he gets a scholarship to a D-I school in the big city, he soon realizes that he has few skills outside basketball, plus the coach hates how he plays.

Basketball scenes were filmed in Colorado State’s Moby Gymnasium, where the Rams still play their home games. GD Spradlin plays Coach Smith; he was also Tom Landry-type coach in North Dallas Forty.

5) Any Given Sunday— Al Pacino plays an aging pro football coach whose team struggles, which causes the new owner (Cameron Diaz) to make his life unpleasant.

Miami Sharks play four games in this movie; the opponents were all coached by NFL Hall of Famers; YA Tittle, Bob Sinclair, Dick Butkus, John Unitas. Barry Switzer, Oliver Stone are the TV announcers most of the time. Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor are also in the movie.

4) For Love of the Game— Kevin Costner is an aging star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who finds out he is going to get traded, just before his last start of the season. A series of flashbacks follow during the game, where of course, he pitches a perfect game and gets the girl at the end.

John C Reilly is great as the Tigers’ catcher, who is basically Billy Chapel’s personal catcher as they both near retirement; JK Simmons plays the Tigers’ manager; he is a Tigers’ fan in real life.

3) Blue Chips— A college basketball coach (Nick Nolte) is forced to break the rules in order to get the players he needs to stay competitive. This movie was filmed in a high school gym in Indiana, which seats about 8,000 people. Guys who made the movie wanted to pay people to sit in the stands during the basketball scenes; they were quickly told that people would gladly do it for free.

Bob Cousy plays Western U’s athletic director; he has a scene in the beginning of the movie where he shoots free throws while he talks to Coach Bell (Nolte). Done in one take, Cousy makes ten free throws in a row, while in a shirt and tie, at age 65.

2) Fast Break— Gabe Kaplan plays the manager of a Manhattan deli who is a huge basketball fan and is offered the coaching job at a small Nevada college. He brings some players with him, giving him a talented nucleus— one of them is a young lady playing in disguise.

In order to get the job permanently, he has to beat the number one team in the country; there are couple scenes in this movie that wouldn’t fly today, not politically correct, but the basic idea of a guy who runs a deli becoming a big time hoop coach made this an excellent movie.

Besides, two of the players coach Greene brought to Cadwallader U were played by Bernard King and Michael Warren, two pretty good ballplayers in real life.

1) Moneyball— I’ve been an A’s fan since 1965; what did you expect?

Movie is an offshoot of Michael Lewis’ fine book, which describes Billy Beane’s successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a small budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.

I still remember when Miguel Tejada hit a walk-off homer for the A’s 18th consecutive win that year; I went out on the front lawn and did some weird kind of dance in celebration, as my dad stared at me in disbelief- I was deliriously happy. Every time they show Tejada’s homer in the movie, it brings me back to that moment, a pleasant memory.

TV highlight of the day: First round of the MLB Draft; too bad the geniuses can’t find a way to play baseball games. That would be a real highlight. 

Wednesday’s List of 13: My favorite sports movies, #’s 14-26

26) North Dallas Forty— A semi-fictional account of life with the Dallas Cowboys in the early ‘70s; based on a book written by Pete Gent, who played WR for the Cowboys.

Nick Nolte, Mac Davis, Bo Swenson, Charles Durning, Dabney Coleman; quality cast.

25) Youngblood— A 17 year old farm boy is offered a hockey tryout; his brother drives him to Canada to try out. The kid is skilled, but doesn’t like to fight; he has fast legs, slow fists, but he makes the team, and because he is Rob Lowe, he dates the coach’s daughter.

Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves are two of his teammates; Youngblood’s dad is played by Eric Nesterenko, who in real life, played in the NHL/WHA for 23 years.

24) Breaking Away— An Indiana teenager who is obsessed with the Italian cycling team tries to win the heart of a college girl; he and his townie friends try to beat the college kids in a bicycle race, which is an uphill battle.

Paul Dooley is great as the kid’s father; Dennis Quad plays one of the kid’s friends, so does the guy who was Kelly Leak in The Bad News Bears.

23) Caddyshack— An exclusive country club has problems with a brash new member (Rodney Dangerfield) and a mischievous bunch of gophers. 

Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Dangerfield, Ted Knight. Some of the guys I went to college with knew every line of the movie by heart, and watched it often. 

22) A League of Their Own— Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry. Tom Hanks is the manager. Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna are two of the players.

21) Love & Basketball— A young man, young lady grow up next door to each other in Los Angeles, and both become college basketball players.

The guy from the Allstate commercials (Serrano in Major League) is the young man’s dad who also played in the NBA. Alfre Woodard is the young lady’s mother.

20) The Replacements— During a pro football strike, the owners hire substitute players, one of whom is Keanu Reeves. Gene Hackman is the team’s coach, Jack Warden the owner; they even had Pat Summerall, John Madden announcing the team’s games.

19) Heaven Can Wait— Not really a football movie, but……
— Rams win the Super Bowl in this movie, at a time when I wasn’t really sure if they would ever win the Super Bowl in real life.
— Jack Warden is the trainer of the Rams; Jack Warden was freakin’ awesome.
— When this movie came out, I got a theater poster from someone and had it on my bedroom wall. It is still upstairs somewhere.

18) The Bad News Bears— An aging, down-on-his-luck ex-minor leaguer coaches a team of misfits in an ultra-competitive California Little League.

Walter Matthau is brilliant as the sarcastic coach; his best pitcher is a girl (Tatum O’Neal), he recruits his best player the the kid runs his motorbike around the Little League complex.

Bears were sponsored by Chico’s Bail Bonds, I always remember that.

17) He Got Game— The father (Denzel Washington) of a highly sought-after high school basketball star (Ray Allen) has to convince his son to go to a certain college so he can get a shorter jail sentence; the governor went to Big State- the warden (Ned Beatty) explains that to the father, before he gets a work release to try and convince his son.

Jim Brown plays a probation officer keeping his eye on the father; John Turturro is the coach at Tech U, which is also trying to recruit the son. Underrated movie.

John Turturro also plays Joey Knish in Rounders; very good actor.

16) Hoosiers— A coach with a checkered past (Gene Hackman) coaches a small town high school basketball team to become a contender for the Indiana state championship; one of his assistant coaches (Dennis Hopper) is the town drunk, the father of one of the players.

The coach is about to get fired when the team’s star player, who had been sitting out, decides to play again; he wants the coach to stay, and because its the movies, the teams keeps winning, even though the coach always seems to want the star to be a decoy on key plays. Even the drunk guy knows that Jimmy should take all the big shots.

15) The Natural— An unknown slugger comes out of nowhere to become a big hitter for the New York Knights, making the Knights a contender.

This movie was filmed at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, where the Bills played before Rich Stadium was built.

14) Little Big League— Owner of the Minnesota Twins died unexpectedly, leaves the team to his 12-year old grandson, who winds up firing the manager and naming himself to the job. Believe me, this movie is a lot better than it sounds. The scenes in the first 25:00 with the grandfather and the kid are very well done.

TV highlight of the day:
Magnum PI episode with Frank Sinatra was on today.

2 Lists for Saturday: We turn our attention to music…….

Chris the Bartender’s favorite bands/musicians:
1. Elvis Presley:
The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis had it all.  The talent, the looks, and the charisma. Elvis started it all

2. The Beatles:
Like Elvis, The Beatles had it all.  Started the second revolution of Rock and Roll.

A quote I once heard “The world would have been a different world with no Beatles music”

3. Pink Floyd:
People say you learn things from your older brother.  Pink Floyd is definitely one.  Iconic albums.  There is a reason Dark Side of the Moon was on the charts for over 15 years.  I’ve been listening to them for over 30 years

4. Bruce Springsteen:
Springsteen can write lyrics that speak to the soul.

Best concert I ever saw was at Vernon Downs.  Springsteen played for over 4 hours

5. Michael Jackson:  
The King of Pop. Jackson was so talented. Thriller is one of my favorite albums to this day 

6. Elton John:
Elton John music could be the soundtrack of people’s lives  Tiny Dancer is one of my top 5 songs of all time 

7. The Eagles:
I remember “borrowing” my father’s cassette of their greatest hits I played the hell out of that tape. He never got the cassette back 

8. Dire Straits:
Another group I got from my brother. Mark Knopler is one of the greatest guitarist of all time  I must have bought their Brothers in Arms album 10 different times.  

9. Phil Collins:
Amazing talent both solo and with Genesis  spent most of the 90’s listening to him. In the air tonight is always cranked up when it’s on

10. Prince:
Another amazing talent that died too soon. Another amazing guitarist   Purple Rain top 10 album

11.  Bob Seger:
Great songwriter. Turn the Page is a powerful song. Night Moves is a perfect coming of age song 

12 Triumph:
Another one of my brother’s influences. Very thankful he turned me on to them

13. David Bowie :
Discovered Bowie on my own. Bowie was extremely progressive and talented. Another one who left us too soon

Now on to Gary’s favorites; Gary is Chris’ father-in-law. Chris’ list is very mainstream; Gary’s list is more eclectic and is all over the place.

1. The Clash
2. Bob Dylan
3. Thelonious Monk
4. Bela Fleck
5. Yo La Tengo ( great Mets reference )
6. John Coltrane
7. Howlin Wolf
8. Wilco
9. Johnny Cash
10. Lucinda Williams 
11. The Beatles 
12. The Rolling Stones
13. Otis Redding