Friday’s Den: Wrapping up a summer night…….

13) One of the oddly entertaining things about this baseball season is apparently going to be that the rules will be changing as we move along.

— Teams will now play 7-inning games in doubleheaders this season, like they do in the minor leagues.
— This weekend’s Toronto-Philly series was wiped out, because a Philly coach and staff member tested positive for the virus.
— The 30-man roster was supposed to go away after two weeks, but now may stick around longer, probably because teams are concerned about pitchers getting hurt.

12) Padres 12, Giants 7 (10)— Rough couple of nights for the San Diego bullpen; they blew a 6-2 lead Wednesday, blew a 6-1 lead in this game. Nothing is quite as much fun as having one of the pitchers on your fantasy team leave the game with a 6-1 lead, and then not get the win. 

11) San Diego made a terrific move in adding OF Trent Grisham, who is a tremendous defender; he made a diving catch on a ball hit by Evan Longoria with the bases loaded that saved at least two runs early in the game. 

10) Padres-Giants game ended just before 2am here in the east; San Diego’s flight to Denver is going to get into town very early Friday morning. Will be a groggy bunch of Friars Friday night when they play the Rockies. 

9) Indians 2, Twins 0— In his first two starts this year, Shane Bieber has thrown 14 innings, allowed only 8 baserunners, struck out 27 guys. Shutting the Twins out is impressive.

8) Nationals 6, Blue Jays 4- Joe West was the home plate umpire, but in the bottom of the first, a batter let his bat go on a swing and the bat hit West in his ear, opening a cut just in front of his left ear. West left the game for a while, returned later and finished the game umping 3rd base. 

7) Bronx 8, Baltimore 6— Aaron Judge hit the game-winning homer in the ninth inning; tough week for the Orioles, who were originally supposed to play four winnable games with Miami this week, but because of the coronavirus mess, they got two games with Bronx instead. 

6) Best wishes to former Giants/Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin, who broke four ribs, slightly punctured his lung and needed stitches in his head after a bicycle accident last weekend in Jacksonville. Coach Coughlin is 73 years old. 

5) Rick Sutcliffe mentioned on TV this week that he is the last pitcher that stole home plate.

Former big leaguer Dan Haren posted last month that he was the last pitcher to get four hits in a game. With the DH now all over baseball, those marks figure to last a while. 

4) A skydiver in Vermont lost his prosthetic leg while he was up in the air; luckily, a farmer found the leg in a soybean field and returned it to the man. Seriously. 

It takes serious onions to jump out of a moving airplane; doing it with an artificial leg is even more son. Hopefully the farmer got a nice reward for returning the leg. 

3) SEC teams will play a 10-game conference-only football schedule this fall, meaning that rivalry games like Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, South Carolina-Clemson and Kentucky-Louisville are out the window for this year. 

2) Jazz 106, Pelicans 104— New Orleans blew a 16-point lead, lost by a hoop; Utah had very balanced scoring. Jazz starters were a combined +44 wheel they were in the game; their subs were a combined minus-34. 

1) Lakers 103, Clippers 101— Anthony Davis scored 34 points, Lebron James scored the wining hoop with 0:12 left as the Lakers beat their crosstown rivals 3,000 miles from home. Counting regular season and playoff games, this was the 993rd win of Lebron James’ career. 

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) Dodgers 4, Astros 3 (13)— The new extra innings rule is supposed to prevent 13-inning games, but Dodgers were 2-15 with RISP, Houston 3-19- hard to score runs that way.

Dodger reliever Joe Kelly got an 8-game suspension for his antics Tuesday night, when he threw at two Astros hitters. In a 60-game season, that’s a long suspension.

12) Astros had been favored in 80 consecutive regular season games, before losing the last two nights to the Dodgers as home underdogs.

11) Philadelphia Phillies got the go-ahead to play ball again, will resume with a doubleheader at home against the Buffalo Blue Jays Saturday. Those games will be Blue Jay “home” games; they will bat last, but the games are in Philly.

10) Washington Nationals’ OF Juan Soto also got the OK to play ball, good news for the defending champs.

9) Giants 7, Padres 6- San Diego led 6-3 in 8th inning but blew the lead and Mike Yastrzemski walked it off with a leadoff homer in the 9th.

8) Good news for the Atlanta Braves; veteran OF Nick Markakis originally opted out of this season, but now has changed his mind and will play ball for the Braves.

7) Nevada sports books lost $453,000 for the month of June, the first time in almost seven years (83 months) that they showed red ink over an entire month.

6) Mets’ rookie SS Andres Gimenez got his first major league hit Wednesday night, a big night for him, and later added a triple. He also got picked off after the first hit, but it had to be an exciting night for the young man.

5) Rangers 7, Arizona 4— Lance Lynn blanked Arizona for six innings, allowing only three baserunners. Diamondbacks fouled off 32 of his 102 pitches; they got only one hit on the 55 swings they took against him.

4) Washington 4, Toronto 0 (10)— Max Scherzer and rookie Nate Pearson had a great pitching duel; game was scoreless after nine innings, before the Nationals posted a 4-spot in the top of the 10th inning.

3) Rosters are 30 right now; in about three weeks they’ll be down tp 26, and then there will be more of a strain will be put on bullpens, with four less bodies on each bench.

2) If the playoffs started Thursday morning (they don’t), playoff teams would be:
AL: Bronx, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Cleveland, Houston, Oakland, Detroit, Toronto
NL: Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York

1) RIP to veteran basketball coach Lou Henson 88; he is best known for coaching Illinois, where he won 423 games in 21 years. He also coached at New Mexico State for 17 years.

RIP to former big league manager John McNamara, 88; he managed six teams, but was best known for being the Red Sox’ skipper in 1986. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) MLB tweaked its schedule, put Marlins/Phillies on the sidelines for a few days, and inserted a Bronx-Baltimore series into this week’s slate.

As many as 15 Marlins have tested positive; the earliest they’ll play again is Monday.

12) Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes bought a small part of the Kansas City Royals this week; his father Pat Mahomes was a big league pitcher for 11 years, with six different teams.

11) Speaking of the Royals, they signed P Matt Harvey to a minor league deal. Since 2016, Harvey is 26-40 in the majors, after starting his career 25-18.

10) Dodgers 5, Astros 2— Tempers flared in Houston after LA reliever Joe Kelly threw a couple pitches over Astros’ heads. Both teams are 3-2 now.

9) Last year, the Dodgers allowed three or fewer runs 89 times, were 77-12 in those games; Houston held 87 opponents to three or fewer runs, went 76-11 in those games.

8) When the Brewers rallied to win in Pittsburgh Monday, after trailing 5-1 in 9th inning, it was the first time in 20 years they won a game when they trailed by 4+ runs in the 9th inning.

Last night, Milwaukee led 6-2 in 7th inning, but Pittsburgh rallied for an 8-6 win. Wins are going to be very hard to come by for everyone. Teams with deep pitching staffs are going to have a big advantage in this compressed schedule.

7) Mets 8, Red Sox 3— Boston lost its last four games, allowing 29 runs; they’re running out obscure pitchers who are getting drilled, and they haven’t been on the road yet.

6) Minnesota Vikings’ head trainer Eric Sugarman  tested positive for the coronavirus this week. Its going to be really, really difficult to have a football season, just so many people involved, so much physical contact.

5) White Sox manager Rick Renteria wasn’t at the ballpark Monday, when Chicago’s game got rained out in Cleveland, but he was deemed healthy and was in the dugout Tuesday, as the Pale Hose got swept by the Indians.

4) Texas P Corey Kluber tore a muscle in the back of his shoulder, is out at least four weeks.

3) Want to win a bar bet? Edwin Jackson played for the most major league teams (14).

2) Another obscure stat: Pittsburgh 3B Colin Moran is the first Pirate ever to homer in three consecutive home openers, which is a nice way of saying the Pirates haven’t faced a lefty starter in their last three home openers.

1) Happy birthday to former big league All-Star Vida Blue, who turned 71 this week. Blue won 209 games in a 17-year career. He went 24-8 in his rookie year (1971) leading the A’s to their first of five straight division titles. He won Cy Young and MVP in ’71. 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) Two baseball games were postponed Monday due to Coronavirus concerns; the Tuesday Orioles-Marlins game has also been postponed.

11 Marlin players tested positive for the virus over the weekend.

12) Speaking of the Marlins, they’ve won two World Series, but have never won a division title. They’ve also never had a player hit for the cycle.

11) This is the first time since 1954 that no major league team started 3-0; it is also the first time since 1961 that no team started out 0-3.

10) San Diego 6, Arizona 2— Padres’ bullpen tossed 5.1 shutout innings, Fernando Tatis knocked in three runs, as San Diego improves to 3-1.

9) Oakland 3, Angels 0— Chris Bassitt threw four shutout innings; A’s are 3-1 despite not having a starting pitcher go five innings yet. Burch Smith got his 2nd win of the year in relief.

8) Toronto 4, Washington 1— Teoscar Hernandez hit two homers as the Blue Jays evened their record at 2-2. Nationals had 11 hits, but were only 2-10 with RISP.

7) Tampa Bay 14, Atlanta 5— Hunter Renfroe knocked in four runs for the Rays; after the game, Braves DFA’d starting P Mike Foltynewicz. Tyler Glasnow struck out nine guys in four IP.

6) Kansas City 14, Detroit 5- Whit Merrifield had three hits, scored three runs, knocked in three more. Starting pitchers combined to give up nine runs in 4.2 IP.

5) Houston 8, Seattle 5- Altuve homered, doubled for 3-1 Astros; Alex Bregman knocked in three runs. Evan White hit his first big league home run for Seattle.

4) Mets 7, Boston 4- Alonso hit his first homer to back five strong innings on the mound by Michael Wacha. Red Sox lost their third game in a row, giving up 7-7-7 runs.

3) Cubs 8, Cincinnati 7- Chicago scored six runs in first two innings, then hung on for dear life. Reds had bases loaded, one out in 9th inning, down 8-7, but Joey Votto hit a line drive right at the centerfielder to end the game. Game was delayed 1:47 at the start by rain.

2) Milwaukee 6, Pittsburgh 5 (11)- Milwaukee tied game with four runs in 9th inning; this became the first-ever 11-inning game under the new rule. Horrific loss for the Pirates.

1) There was only one KBO game Monday and it ended in a 5-5 tie; Monday is usually an off day in the KBO, but they use Mondays to make up rainouts later in the season.

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

13) Astros’ ace Justin Verlander has an injury to his pitching arm, will be out at least a couple weeks. Some reports had him done for the year, but the Astros refuted that idea, said he’ll be re-examined in two weeks.

12) Four Miami Marlins tested positive for COVID-19 this weekend; they still took two of three games in Philly. Not sure what plans baseball has if a whole team tests positive. Lets hope we don’t find out.

11) When Matt Olson hit a walk-off grand slam in Oakland late Friday night, it was the first walk-off grand slam on Opening Day since 1986, when Jim Presley did it for Seattle.

10) Statistical oddity in the A’s-Angels game Sunday; neither starting pitcher induced a swing and miss, which is really unusual.

Shohei Ohtani only lasted six batters, didn’t get any of them out. Oakland hitters swung at 10 of his pitches, fouled seven of them off, got hits on the other three. Angel hitters swung at 27 of Mike Fiers pitches, fouling eight of them off, putting the other 19 in play (7 hits).

9) Ohtani is one of the Angels’ better hitters, but he doesn’t bat when he pitches because once he leaves the game, the Angels would have to pinch hit for all the other pitchers. A DH cannot take the field defensively; if he does, his team loses the DH.

8) I was ranting a little the other day about Milwaukee batting Eric Sogard leadoff this weekend in Chicago; Brewers’ bench coach Pat Murphy used to be the head coach at Arizona State, where one of his best players was…….Eric Sogard.

A .318 career on-base %age in 10 years doesn’t qualify you to bat leadoff.

7) San Diego Padres’ new manager Jayce Tingler has his team taking more pitches; they had 15 full counts in a game against Arizona this weekend. Arizona starter Zac Gallen threw 88 pitches in only four innings Sunday; when the rosters go from 30 to 28 to 26, pitching staffs will be a lot thinner and that kind of patience could pay off.

Same thing in Minnesota; Twins saw 164 pitches/game this week in Chicago. They saw an average of 149 pitches/game last season.

6) Umpire Will Little had the plate in Sunday’s New York-Washington game; Bronx won 3-2, which is no surprise, since they’ve now won 10 games in a row when Little is behind the plate.

5) Texas Rangers wore throwback powder blue uniforms Sunday, with both jersey and pants powder blue- they’re very bright. Apparently they’re going to wear them every Sunday at home.

4) They let fans back into Korean baseball games Sunday; 10% of capacity was allowed to come into the stadium.

3) Spare ballplayers are sitting in the bleachers behind the dugout so they can socially distance. Sunday in St Louis, Pirates’ P Derek Holland got ejected for carping at the umpires from about 15 rows off the field.

2) Daniel Snyder is going to take his time deciding which nickname to re-brand his football team with, because there’s a hell of a lot of money involved in picking the right mascot.

Red Tails would seem to be an easy choice, but who knows how Snyder thinks.

1) First three days of baseball had a little bit of a spring training feel to them; most of the pitchers aren’t in regular season condition yet, the expanded rosters allow managers to make a lot more substitutions, but it is fun to watch games that count. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday……

13) Here is why baseball adopted the extra innings rule for this 60 games-in-66-days season.

— Last two years, 73% of minor league games using the extra inning rule ended in the first extra inning.
— 93% of the games ended in the first two extra innings.
(minor league doubleheaders have 7-inning games)

A 15 or 16-inning game would drain a team’s pitching staff, especially once rosters get down to 26 guys. This rule discourages that from happening.

12) Late Friday night, A’s beat the Angels 7-3 in 10 innings, the first major league game with the extra inning rule, where every half-inning starts with a runner on 2nd base.

— Shohei Ohtani was the first-ever “ghost runner”; his interpreter had to tell him to go to second base in the top of the 10th. He didn’t know what was up.
— Matt Olson walked the game off with a first-pitch grand slam, after he threw Ohtani out at third on a ground ball in the top of the 10th.
— Oakland reliever Burch Smith gets the win, so I have to tell my Burch Smith story…….

11) Burch Smith made his MLB debut for the Padres on May 11, 2013 in Tampa Bay, a Saturday afternoon game. I’m in Las Vegas, staying at the SunCoast casino, where the sports book is right next to their movie theater, where they serve Orville Redenbacher popcorn, which is very good.

Here’s the thing; I had read that Smith is a prospect, but this is before we had the mobile apps on our cellphones for our fantasy league, so do I:
a) add him to my roster, sight unseen?
b) stay in my room, and follow the game on my laptop and see how he does?
c) go down to the sportsbook, watch the game and if he does well, run up to my room and add him, but risk someone else adding him first?
d) forget about picking him up

I wanted to watch him pitch, so I take a chance and use one of my monthly pickups and add him to my roster. What could possibly go wrong?

10) I go downstairs to the sports book, get my popcorn and a cherry Coke, and settle in as he throws a scoreless first inning, striking out two guys. Padres are up 2-0. I’m pretty happy.

Then Tampa Bay scores six runs in the 2nd inning, and Smith is gone, without getting another out. No bueno. Even the popcorn tasted worse after that.

In three May starts, Burch Smith gave up 15 runs in 7.1 IP, and I mercifully dumped him. He was sent down by San Diego, came back in September, but after that never got back to the majors until 2018— he hurt his arm in there somewhere and had an operation. Now he is the answer to a trivia question; first winning pitcher in a game with a ghost runner.

Moral of the story: Have some patience and get the mobile app on your phone.

9) After two days of baseball, 22 of 30 teams are 1-1; Astros, Cardinals, San Diego are only unbeaten teams left. Dodgers are 2-1, Giants 1-2.

8) Washington P Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his start with a nerve issue in his hand; it isn’t considered serious. Erick Fedde stepped in and threw four decent innings. Washington survived five errors; not often you make five errors and win.

7) In week 1 of the NFL last year, there 157 players on active rosters who played college football at the I-AA level. Delayng I-AA football until the spring is going to make NFL scouts work a lot harder before the ’21 draft.

6) New Jersey Jets traded S Jamal Adams and a 4th-round pick in 2022 to Seattle, in exchange for S Bradley McDougald, a 1st-round pick in 2021, 3rd-round pick in 2021, and 1st-round pick in 2022. Big haul for the Jets.

5) Washington QB Alex Smith was cleared to resume football activities this week; Smith had a gruesome broken leg in a 2018 game and has undergone 17 surgeries since then, and survived sepsis, which was life-threatening. He is 36 years old but still wants to play.

17 surgeries…..in less than two years. Oy.

4) Lot of good shooters in the Curry family; Dallas’ Seth Curry made 6-6 behind the arc in the scrimmage against the Lakers the other day. Impressive display of shooting.

3) Knicks hired Tom Thibodeau as their new coach, an excellent hire.

2) Statue of Liberty was struck by lightning four times Wednesday; seems like a fitting thing to happen in 2020.

1) Happy birthday to Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who turned 80 years old earlier this week.

RIP to the great Regis Philbin, who passed away this weekend at age 88; Mr Philbin was the host of a lot of TV shows; he won six daytime Emmy awards, and holds the world record for most hours on US television, according to Guinness World Records, with more than 16,700 hours on air. He was also a supply officer in the Navy from 1953-55.

He always seemed like a good guy, a pleasant human. RIP sir. 

Saturday’s Den: A running diary of Opening Day

4:11- Jacob deGrom takes the mound as Opening Day on July 24 gets underway; this strangest of seasons started with two games last night- there are 14 games tonight.

deGrom has had some back issues is supposedly under a 75-pitch limit for this game. He is the ace of my fantasy team’s staff; need him to be good.

4:15- Speaking of which, Marlins’ C Jorge Alfaro is on the IL, presumably with COVID-related issues. He is the only catcher on my fantasy roster. It is stunning how few everyday catchers are good hitters. Have to monitor this to see if I need another catcher.

4:25- Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman is starting at 1B for the 10th straight Opening Day; during that time, Atlanta has started nine left fielders, eight 3rd basemen, seven catchers.

Braves’ top two catchers have COVID-related issues, are back home in Atlanta.

4:35- There are over 6,000 cardboard cutouts at CitiField for this game.

4:45- Having mostly NL pitchers on my fantasy team was relaxing when the opposing pitcher came up, but now with the universal DH, not so much. I like everyone having the DH; we’ll see how teams handle it, whether they will use it as an “off day” for regulars, or have a regular DH.

5:20- deGrom goes five scoreless innings, but because he pitches for the bleeping Mets, it is scoreless after five and deGrom can’t get the win.

Since 2015, deGrom has had 15 starts where he threw 5+ innings and didn’t allow a run, but he won only 8 of those 15 games.

6:30- Mets’ DH Cespedes hit a homer in his first game in two years, New York wins 1-0. Up in heaven somewhere, my dad is happy.

6:50- Thursday’s New York-Washington game got the highest TV ratings of any network broadcast over the last nine years.

7:15- I wanted to watch the Reds because I picked up their new OF Shogo Akiyama, but he is sitting against Detroit’s lefty starter. Oy.

7:30- Good news from Korea- KBO games are going to have fans starting on Sunday, so that is a return to normalcy that is good to hear about.

7:45- Only five regular season fantasy league games before the playoffs start- very short season will be weird. First week is 10 days long; have to study up and see where I need to add players. I have two minor league prospects who aren’t going to play this year— unsure how teams are dealing with those guys in their alternate facilities.

8:10- Flipping between games, spring training for my right thumb; already during Milwaukee, Colorado, Cincinnati broadcasts, have seen the same commercial, a Republican ad with Mike Pence doing all the talking. I seriously want to puke, bit that would screw up my keyboard.

8:15- Akiyama gets in the game after Detroit takes Matthew Boyd out; he singles up the middle, knocks in a run and gets his first MLB hit. Not sure he is good enough to be in my starting lineup but he won five batting titles in Japan- he must be able to hit.

8:30- Last year, Bryce Harper hit .357 with runners in scoring position, .204 with the bases empty.

Whit Merrifield just singled, my team’s first hit of the night.

8:35- I’m saying that pitchers are ahead of the hitters so far. Umpires also seem to be calling more strikes. Paul Nauert had the Mets’ game today; he definitely expanded the zone some, for both sides.

Speaking of umpires, with 10-12 umps opting out this year because of COVID, there are new crew chiefs and somehow, Angel Hernandez is one, despite being a terrible umpire. Yikes. 

8:40- My opponent in fantasy ball this week has Kyle Hendricks, and he is throwing a shutout against the Brewers in the 6th inning. No bueno.

Milwaukee has Eric Sogard batting leadoff; why????? Must be his career .318 OB% that is so appealing to them. No, it is his 2-6 mark against Hendricks; even I know he shouldn’t bad leadoff, and I went to a state school.

I’m an A’s fan, I love Sogard, even have one of his t-shirts, but if he plays 3B and bats leadoff for you on Opening Night, you’re not a playoff team.

These over-educated fools who run the Brewers are at it again. I used to have Josh Hader on my team, hoping they would come to their senses and make him a starter again, but no.

10:30- Turned the laptop off for a while and had dinner; Hendricks shut out the Brewers, who have new uniforms that make them look like the Michigan Wolverines.

10:42- Michael Brantley goes yard for Houston, good news for the Armadillos.

Lets catch up on stuff that happened while I was eating:

— Reds 7, Tigers 1— Listening to the Cincinnati broadcast, they have high expectations for this season. Moustakas had three hits, knocked in four runs for the Reds, who haven’t had a winning season since 2013, Dusty Baker’s last year as their manager.

As for Detroit, they’re in a total rebuild.

— Blue Jays 6, Rays 4— Cavan Biggio hit a 3-run homer for Toronto, which found out Friday they’re playing home games this season in Buffalo.

Joe West had the plate in this game; he’s been a major league ump since 1976, when he was 23 years old. Not sure how he became a major league ump that quickly, seeing how he also played college football (East Carolina, Elon) but he did.

— Marlins 5, Phillies 2— Sandy Alcantara allowed three hits in 6.2 IP as Miami gets off to a good start. First four hitters on Philly’s lineup went 1-14.

Miami’s TV crew had team president Michael Hill on during the game and he spews the same old BS he always does; what a farm system we have, we’re building to become perennial contenders, blah, blah, blah. This is another nitwit who went to college in the Ivy League (Harvard), but thought trading Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna, Realmuto was a good idea.

Bryce Harper wore cleats with fluorescent green laces in them, which clashed a little with the Phillies’ uniforms, but they’ve eliminated rules about shoes, so that’s what you get.

— Indians 2, Royals 0— Only nine hits total in this game, as pitchers seemed to be ahead of the hitters, for the most part all over baseball. Shane Bieber struck out 14 Royals, allowing five runners in six IP.

— Cubs 3, Brewers 0— Milwaukee had three hits, all by 9th-place hitter Orlando Arcia; meanwhile, they had Sogard batting leadoff, which is baseball malpractice. Hendricks went the whole way, allowing three baserunners, striking out nine.

Colorado also had three hits in their game, all by the same guy, leadoff hitter Dahl. Hendricks is the first Cub with an Opening Day shutout since 1974; A’s won the World Series that year, so that’s a good omen.

— Red Sox 13, Orioles 2—Baltimore is another total rebuild; unless they have lot of good young pitchers on the way up, not sure how they’re going to get better anytime soon.

JD Martinez scored twice, knocked in three runs for Boston.

Rangers 1, Rockies 0— First game at Globe Life Field is a pitchers’ duel; Lance Lynn allowed two hits in six innings. Texas didn’t even have a hit until the 6th inning; Rougned Odor knocked in their only run. German Marquez was the tough luck loser.

— Twins 10, White Sox 5— Game was 5-5 after two innings, but Chicago never scored again. Max Kepler homered twice for Minnesota; four of their top five hitters scored twice each.

Minnesota’s bullpen allowed only four baserunners in five shutout innings.

— Cardinals 5, Pirates 4— Tough beat if you played the under; game was 3-0 Cardinals after six innings, but neither bullpen flourished, as St Louis barely held on after entering 9th inning with a 5-2 lead.

I like the cardboard cutouts at games; enjoyed watching baseball for several hours. Its a hell of a lot better than watching the news or re-watching 30-year old ballgames. Hopefully everyone will stay healthy and we can have some entertainment this summer. 

Friday’s Den: Happy Opening Day, everyone…..

13) We start today with a hard-hitting news story; a guy in Las Vegas walked into an adult toy store, and walked out with a 3-foot-tall dildo that weighs 50 pounds. Didn’t pay, just grabbed it and walked out of the store. Hmmm……

The guy put the dildo in his car and took off; this is grand larceny— the dildo is apparently worth around $1,200. Who knew?

Feel free to insert your own jokes here. I’m moving on…….

12) Couple of hours before the 2020 season started, major leagues announced that the playoffs would be expanded from 10 to 16 teams, for this year only.

Top two teams in all six divisions will make it, plus the next two best records in each league. There will be no first round byes, but in the first round, the #1 seed will have all the series games in their home ballpark.

11) Bronx 4, Washington 1 (5)— Rain-shortened season opener; neither team went to their bullpen. Giancarlo Stanton hit a 459-foot homer, Gerrit Cole won his New York debut.

Nationals’ star Juan Soto tested positive for the coronavirus, is out indefinitely.

10) Dodgers 8, Giants 1— Clayton Kershaw was a late scratch with a bad back; he is on the IL. Dustin May threw 4.1 innings as a late replacement.

Over last 13 years, San Francisco has started 13 different left fielders on Opening Day.

9) Here is how rosters work this year; for the first two weeks, each team will have 30 players, for the next two weeks, 28 players. Then it pares down to 26, which it would have been all season, had this been a normal season.

8) Ray Fosse mentioned on the A’s game the other night how Carl Yastrzemski played the entire 1970 All-Star game at first base. Thats the whole 12 innings.

Starters don’t do stuff like that anymore; now Yaztrzemski’s grandson Mike plays CF for the Giants- he hit .272 with 21 homers last year. Somehow, the Orioles gave up on them even though they were a terrible team, and the Giants pounced. He hit .272 with 21 homers LY.

7) Over/under in Las Vegas on Astros’ hitters being hit by pitches this year: 41.5.

6) Minnesota Twins have lost 16 consecutive playoff games, which is a record; last time they won a playoff game was in 2004.

5) Watching Padres-Angels exhibition game the other night, and there is a guy sitting by himself in the right field bleachers, going over notes. Only person in the stands.

Turns out it was Tony LaRussa, who works for the Angels now as a consultant.

4) Seattle’s new NHL team will be called the Kraken; they begin play in 2021-22.The kraken is a legendary cephalopod-like sea monster in Scandinavian folklore. A very large sea monster. The logo and colors looked pretty cool, at first glance.

3) Actors and their roles; there are 26 actors who have appeared in 6+ episodes of the Showtime series Billions, who also appeared in at least one episode of Law and Order. There are 16 other actors from Billions who appeared in either Law and Order: SVU, or Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

It is good to know people, make an impression; that’s how you you get hired for more jobs.

2) USC Trojans are 0-7 ATS in their last seven bowl games, even though they won three of those seven games. Last time USC covered a bowl game was in 2009, beating Boston College 24-13 (-7) in the Emerald Bowl.

1) NBA teams are scrimmaging for the next few days; real games start on Thursday. Was fun watching teams scrimmage, though they looked more like real games, seeing how they wore their real uniforms and all. 

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud……

13) One of the recurring themes in the next couple weeks will be how the 60-game season is a spring, not a marathon. People will say over and over how last year’s champs, the Washington Nationals, were a feeble 19-31 after fifty games.

If a team goes 37-23 this year, that’s the numerical equivalent of going 100-62.

12) Over last four years, %age of games that went to extra innings:
2016: 7.62%
2017: 7.45%
2018: 8.89%
2019: 8.56%

4-year average works out to 8.19%, or basically one game per day.

11) David Cone was a really good pitcher; he went 194-126 in his 17-year career playing for five teams. Now he is a very good TV analyst; smart, funny, says what he thinks.

Unusual thing about Cone is that he wore seven different numbers in his major league career; that’s unusual for a star player. He also wore #17 for two teams (Mets/Royals), #36 for two teams (Bronx/Boston).

10) Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler made the last out of Dallas Braden’s perfect game for the A’s back in 2010.

9) Stat guy Mark Simon posted this piece of knowledge:

Since the start of 2016, 213 pitchers have pitched at least 250 innings; Tommy Milone’s 5.67 ERA ranks 208th of those 213 pitchers.

Milone is the Orioles’ Opening Day starter; no bueno.

8) Padres’ TV guy Don Orsillo, who is great at his job, was laughing last night about how the Padres haven’t played a regular season game in Anaheim since 2015, which is nonsensical, seeing how they pass Anaheim Stadium every time they drive from San Diego to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers.

I’d be in favor of total geographic realignment in baseball; think it would promote rivalries and increase attendance, once fans are allowed to go to games again.

7) They played the first-ever game in Globe Life Field in Arlington Tuesday; Daniel Murphy hit the stadium’s first-ever home run. They have an artificial surface instead of grass there.

6) Texas Rangers’ 2B Rougned Odor had a weird season last year:
— His OPS with the bases empty: .621, which is terrible
— His OPS with men in scoring position: 1.042, which is very excellent.

Thats how you knock in 93 runs, despite hitting .205.

5) 22-year old Mike Soroka is the Braves’ Opening Day starter; he’ll be the youngest guy to pitch on Opening Day since Jose Fernandez in 2014.

4) Bad beat in the KBO Tuesday morning: LG Twins were beating the KT Wiz 8-1 in the middle of the 7th- they take starting pitcher Wilson out, and immediately give up eight runs in the 7th inning, using five relievers, the first three of whom didn’t record an out.

Wiz walked the game off 10-9, big win for them.

3) One of the quirky things about baseball this season will be players spread out in the stands behind each dugout, social distancing instead of being in the dugout. They’ve put tents up to keep sun/rain off the players.

2) Dodgers signed Mookie Betts to a 12-year, $365M contract; Betts would’ve been a free agent after this season.

1) Governor of Pennsylvania put the kibosh on the Toronto Blue Jays playing home games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh this season. Season starts today, and still no idea where the Blue Jays will call home. Buffalo is apparently the last resort. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Good to hear live baseball on TV again; in a normal season, I watch ball most every night for six hours a night for six months- the familiar voices who call the games are like old friends coming back to visit. It has been good to hear those voices again the last few days.

12) San Diego Padres are back to wearing brown caps/jerseys, which is a good move.

11) Angels-Padres staged an “extra inning” after the Angels won their exhibition game 1-0 Monday night; they pretended the game was tied and played an extra inning, which started with a runner on 2nd and no one out.

Angels didn’t bunt, try to steal or use a pinch-runner, but they scored two runs in the top of the 10th. San Diego then had to play for a big inning to tie/win the game; they scored a run, had bases loaded with two outs, then they just ended the half-inning there for no reason. Kind of like in basketball scrimmages when coaches create situations to learn stuff from.

10) Chris Paddock will be the Opening Day starter for San Diego, the 8th different starting pitcher for the Padres the last eight years. Not much continuity there.

Baltimore Orioles will start Tommy Milone, their 5th different Opening Day starter the last five years.

9) Baseball quirks: Saturday night, with Zack Britton pitching to the Mets’ #9 hitter, a slow-footed catcher, Bronx used a 5-man infield. Tomas Nido hit an opposite field single just in front of the right fielder. Not sure what the reason for that is, but they tried it.

Monday night in Oakland, Giants played four outfielders against A’s 1B Matt Olson, who struck out. Rumor has it the Giants will try lot of different things this season.

8) Trainers/equipment guys will be the unsung heroes of this baseball season; all the extra work they have to do to keep things sanitized/healthy for players/coaches. They did a ton of work anyway before this, but this pandemic has to have to have multiplied their workload.

7) Can’t remember where I read this over the weekend, but the old Polo Grounds in New York City, where the Giants played before moving to San Francisco, was a weird ballpark.

The deepest part of centerfield was 484 feet away; the right field foul pole was only 258 feet from home plate. No bueno.

When they built lot of new ballparks in late 60’s/early 70’s, they got mocked for having mostly the same dimensions (cookie-cutter parks, they were called), but would rather have that than 258-foot home runs.

6) If they play college football this fall, the Egg Bowl should be pretty interesting; Ole Miss hired Lane Kiffin as its new coach, Mississippi State hired Mike Leach. Their recruiting battles should also be fun. And their press conferences.

5) High school football in California was moved back to next spring; next spring could be very busy, but that would be a good thing, since that means they got a vaccine and life can start getting back to normal. But there’s going to be a lot of stuff going on next spring.

4) Recommend NBC’s new streaming service, peacockTV, which started last week. Lot of old TV shows and movies. What I saw was free; not sure what additional content you get at a premium level, but I was watching the old TV show The Rockford Files the other night- good stuff.

3) RIP to longtime Congressman John Lewis 80, who died over the weekend; Lewis fought a long battle as a civil rights leader- he served in Congress for 33 years. RIP, sir.

ESPN’s Tim Kurklian lost his 96-year old mom over the weekend; couple years ago, he did a video with his mom, who was in a wheelchair, talking about how much his parents love baseball.

I’ve read lot of stuff about how all of Kurkjian’s ESPN co-workers think the world of him; had to be a very sad thing to finally to say goodbye to his mom. RIP ma’am.

2) Dodgers radio guy, former ESPN voice Charley Steiner turned 71 last week; his doctors have advised him that he is high-risk for COVID-19, so he’ll be calling games from his living room this season. Steiner and Rick Monday are an excellent radio team.

1) Listening to announcers from National League teams talk about the DH is funny; they talk about it like it is some mysterious new thing they know nothing about. DH has been around since 1973, it shouldn’t be that foreign to anyone in the major leagues.

TV highlights of the day: Live baseball games on TV; real games start Thursday. 

Two lists for 2sday: Story lines to follow with baseball starting this week

Major leagues start Thursday; it’ll be a unique season. Here are some of the story lines I’ll be following:

13) Games without fans; they’re piping in crowd noise, but it does look strange seeing an empty stadium with a game going on.

Some teams are putting cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands; Dodgers covered the seats right behind home plate with a tarp. In the Bronx, those seats are just empty.

12) The extra inning rule will be interesting; each half-inning from 10th inning on starts with a runner on 2nd base, no one out. Teams are going to approach this differently; it’ll be fun to track who does what, and who does it better than other teams.

Good tidbit here: the runner on 2nd in extra innings will be listed as having reached on an error; if the run scores, it will be an unearned run.

11) There are 10 new managers; four have never managed in the majors before:
Cubs, Mets, Pirates, Padres all have rookie managers.

10) Joe Girardi taking over the Phillies from Gabe Kapler is a huge upgrade; if Zack Wheeler pitches well, the Phillies will be a contender.

9) Angels added 3B Anthony Rendon, manager Joe Maddon, but neither one of those guys pitches; former Mets manager Mickey Calloway is the new pitching coach in Anaheim, and he has his work cut out for him. Sounds like Shohei Ohtani will pitch every Sunday.

One thing about Ohtani’s starts; do they let him bat? If they do, they once he leaves the game, they’ll have to pinch-hit for the pitcher. Angels won’t have a DH in games Ohtani’s pitches, unless the DH hits for Ohtani, also.

8) Is Yoenis Cespedes healthy? Mets figure to score a lot of runs, especially if Cesepdes can go 100%; he ht a slow roller Saturday, but looked like me running to first base, so it is unclear if his legs are 100% or not. Mets need him to at least be able to run the bases.

7) You listen to MLB Network, and the Reds/White Sox will be like the 2001 Mariners, who won 116 games. Everyone is picking the Reds to win the NL Central; we’ll see how that goes.

6) Will teams that get off to a slow start dump contracts and start planning for 2021, or will they stay in it for the long haul? I’m thinking of the Indians and Francisco Lindor, in particular.

5) Texas Rangers have a new ballpark this season; early reports was that right field was less of a hitters’ field than the old ballpark. Left-center has shorter dimensions; will be curious to see how it plays, starting on Friday.

4) What the hell are the Blue Jays going to do? Canada won’t let them bounce in and out of their country, so where will they play their home games?

Buffalo is a last resort, and Pittsburgh is a possibility for 23 of their 30 home games. The other seven- Nashville? Tampa? Buffalo? Canada’s team could, for one year, become America’s team.

3) Definitely going to have to chart bullpen usage for every team; starting pitchers aren’t ready to go full-tilt yet. Pitching depth will be huge; some teams may go four innings with two guys each, then go to their closer. This will be handled in many different ways.

2) Astros lost Gerrit Cole, get Lance McCullers back from arm surgery; is their rotation deep enough to defend their AL West title?

1) 34-year old Josh Donaldson is on his 4th team in three years; he’s making a fortune from the Twins. Can he lead them to the playoffs?

TV highlights of the day: Live baseball games on TV; real games start Thursday. 

Weekly KBO report

KBO knowledge.…….
KBO standings, thru Sunday:
42-19-2 NC Dinos (6-3-2 last 2 weeks)
38-26 Doosan Bears (7-4)
38-28 Kiwoom Heroes (5-7)
34-29-1 LG Twins (5-5-1)
33-29 Kia Tigers (6-6)
Top five teams make playoffs
34-31 Samsung Lions (5-6)
31-32-1 KT Wiz (6-4-1) 
30-32 Lotte Giants (6-5)
21-44 SK Wyverns (5-7)
17-48 Hanwha Eagles (4-8)

OPS leaders:
1.172 Mel Rojas Jr, Wiz
1.045 JH Lee, Heroes
1.024 JM Fernandez, Bears
.997 JS Kang, Dinos
.979 Roberto Ramos, Twins
.968 Preston Tucker, Tigers

Batting average:
.387— Mel Rojas Jr, Wiz
.378— M Fernandez, Bears
.362— JH Lee, Heroes
.359— JS Kang, Dinos
.351— AS Son, .351
.349— JI Oh, Bears

Home runs:
22— Mel Rojas Jr, Wiz
17— Aaron Altherr, Dinos
BH Park, Heroes
16— Roberto Ramos, Twins
15— SB Na, Dinos
HS Kim, Heroes

RBI:
60— Mel Rojas Jr, Wiz
59— Aaron Altherr, Dinos
57— JH Kim, Bears
56— HSKim, Heroes
55— Preston Tucker, Tigers
52— JH Lee, Heroes

Stolen bases:
16– KC Seo, Heroes
12— WJ Sim, Wiz
11— Altherr, Dinos
YK Lee, Eagles
10— HS Kim, Heroes
JW Oh, Twins
CH An, Giants
JD Bae, Wiz

ERA:
1.35 CM Koo, Dinos 80 IP
1.62 Jokisch, Heroes 83.1 IP
2.03 Straily, Giants 88.2 IP
2.05 Rucinski, Dinos 83.1 IP
2.49 Brooks, Tigers 83 IP
3.12 TI Won, Lions 66.1 IP

WHIP (baserunners allowed/innings pitched):
0.79 CM Koo, Dinos 80 IP
0.92 Jokisch, Heroes 83.1 IP
0.96 Straily, Giants 88.2 IP
1.08 Rucinski, Dinos 83.1 IP
1.12 Brooks, Tigers 83 IP
Alcantara, Bears 83.1 IP

Strikeouts:
92— CM Koo, Dinos 
89— Straily, Giants
75— Alcantara, Bears
73— Rucinski, Dinos
72— Despaigne, Wiz
71— JH Park, Wyverns

Bullpen records:
10-5 LG Twins
12-7 Doosan Bears
15-11 Kiwoom Heroes
9-7 Kia Tigers
12-10 NC Dinos
11-10 Lotte Giants
7-10 Samsung Lions
7-12 KT Wiz
4-12 Hanwha Eagles
6-13 SK Wyverns

Saves:
16— SW Jo, Heroes 16-16
14– JH Won, Dinos 14-16
10— DJ Ham, Bears 10-11
KC Moon, Tigers 10-12
WJ Kim, Giants 10-13
7— KM Woo, Dinos 7-8

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a very warm weekend…….

13) In case you’re wondering, when the NBA has exhibition games this week, the games will be 40 minutes, not the usual 48:00, so if you’re betting games, the totals will be lower than usual. I wouldn’t advise wagering on preseason games, but just in case……..

12) Toronto Blue Jays weren’t allowed to travel in and out of Canada this summer, so for now, they’ll be stationed in Buffalo this summer, in their AAA team’s stadium. MLB Network was touting that ballpark as a hitter’s park; not lot of foul ground there at all.

This is Canada’s way of saying they don’t want anything to do with the way our country has handled this virus- can’t say that I blame them. The entire NHL will be in Toronto/Edmonton this summer, but they’ll be in a bubble; no traveling in and out of the country.

11) Last time a major league game was played in Buffalo? 1915, not counting the baseball scenes in The Natural, which were filmed at old War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo.

There were reports Sunday night that the Blue Jays were still looking for a major league park to call home this summer; they open the season at Tampa Bay Friday.

10) Extra innings in major leagues this season will all start with a runner on 2nd, no one out; major league average is teams score a little more than 60% of the time in that situation.

If the visiting team scores one run in the top of an extra inning, will be interesting to see how the home teams treats their half-inning; bunt for a tie, or play for the bigger inning?

9) Big shoes to fill: Houston Astros went 50-15 in Gerrit Cole’s last 65 starts, but he works in the Bronx now, so how do they replace him? Ain’t going to be easy.

8) They were talking during the Mets’ game Saturday how the masks that look like scarves are actually cooler than the medical masks that most of us wear. Cooler in terms of temperature, not in terms of being cool/uncool.

7) A Korean pitcher named HH Han wears uniform number 1; don’t think I’ve ever seen an American pitcher wear number 1. Only a few wear any single digit number.

6) 10 or so major league umpires opted out of participating this season; unfortunately, Angel Hernandez will be working this season. He isn’t good at his job.

5) Baseball’s TV blackout policy is weird; they black out replays all winter, and during this whole pandemic, when maybe they would’ve gained new fans by showing a ton of games when we were starved for entertainment, but they don’t black out replays of old All-Star Games.

Baseball needs new fans; it is a great game, but younger people need more exposure to it. Let people see your product; maybe they’ll buy in.

4) Cleveland Browns have had 12 first round drafts picks from 2011-17; Myles Garrett is the first of those 12 draft picks to sign a second contract with the Browns.

3) Western Kentucky landed transfer Luke Frampton from Davidson; he made 14-29 3’s last year, playing in only five games for the Wildcats- he shot 38.1% on the arc as a freshman, making 93 shots behind the arc.

2) White Sox gave C Yasmani Grandal a ton of money last winter, hoping he can help stabilize their pitching; Grandal has played in the playoffs the last five years, but four of those were with the Dodgers, who seemingly win their division every year.

One word of caution; Grandal’s career batting average in the postseason? .115 (9 for 78)

1) One quirky change in baseball this year; teams aren’t throwing the ball around the infield after an out is made with the bases empty. If they did throw the ball around the infield, the ball would have to come out of the game, and pitchers prefer baseballs that have been used some, especially if they’re getting hitters out with it. 

TV highlights of the day: Three baseball games on TV; real games start Thursday. 

Sunday’s Den: Trends for NFL teams…….

13) Last four years, Arizona is 4-9 ATS as a home favorite.
Cardinals covered their last five visits to Seattle.
Last five years, Arizona is 3-1-1 in their season win total bets.

12) Last three years, Atlanta is 2-8 ATS as a road favorite.
Falcons covered their last five games with Carolina.
Atlanta stayed under their win total three of last five years.

11) Last three years, Baltimore is 8-15-1 ATS as a home favorite.
Ravens covered once in their last 11 games with Indianapolis.
Last four years, Baltimore went 2-0-2 in their season win totals.

10) Last four years, Buffalo is 5-9 ATS as a home underdog.
Bills covered once in their last six games with the Raiders.
Buffalo stayed under its win total three of last five years.

9) Last four years, Carolina is 9-16 ATS in divisional games.
Panthers covered five of last six games with Tampa Bay.
Carolina stayed under its season win total three of last four years.

8) Last four years, Chicago is 11-3-1 ATS as a home underdog.
Bears covered once in their last six games with the Giants.
Chicago stayed under its win total four of last five years.

7) Last three years, Cincinnati is 14-8 ATS as a road underdog.
Bengals covered twice in their last seven games vs Pittsburgh.
Cincy stayed under its win total each of the last four years.

6) Last four years, Cleveland is 7-14 ATS as a home underdog.
Browns covered twice in their last 11 games with Cincinnati.
Cleveland stayed under its win total four of last five years.

5) Last three years, Dallas is 15-3 ATS in divisional games.
Cowboys covered five of their last six games with Washington.
Cowboys stayed under their season win total three of last five years.

4) Last four years, Denver is 7-15-2 ATS in divisional games.
Broncos are 1-7-1 ATS in last nine games vs Kansas City.
Last four years, Denver is 0-3-1 against its season win total.

3) In two years under Patricia, Detroit is 9-22-1 SU; they were 36-28 the previous four years, under Jim Caldwell.
Lions covered their last six games with Green Bay.
Detroit stayed under its win total three of last five years.

2) Last four years, Green Bay is 12-15-1 ATS as an underdog.
Packers covered five of their last seven games with Philly.
Green Bay stayed under its win total four of last five years.

1) Last three years, Houston is 7-12 ATS in divisional games.
Texans covered nine of their last 132 games with Tennessee.
Houston went over its season win total four of last five years.

TV highlights of the day: Spring training (summer camp?) baseball games on TV, actual live sporting events. Was good to see. 

Saturday’s Den: Random thoughts on a summer day

13) Alex Rodriguez banked $441M during his great playing career, signing with Texas as a free agent in in 2001, then signing another huge deal with Bronx six years later, so he knows all about how the finances of baseball work.

But now that he wants to own the Mets, A-Rod comes out in favor of a salary cap. Ha!!!!

Major league reliever Jerry Blevins had this to say about A-Rod:

“What a hypocrite @arod. Take your steroids and make your millions THEN tell the players they need to change. What a joke. Good luck trying to get content from the very players you’re trying to sell out to get your ownership group selected.”

12) July 19, 1990, thirty years ago this week, the Twins turned two triple plays in the same game, only time it has ever been done. Minnesota lost the game 1-0 in Fenway; both DP’s were started by Gary Gaetti.

11) The 18-year old daughter Long Beach State basketball coach Don Monson tested positive for the Coronavirus this week; she is an athlete, heading to Gonzaga to row for the crew team. Monson said said his daughter felt better later in the week, but was still under the weather.

Please wear a mask when you go out; the virus doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, young or old.

10) Ted Barrett has been a major league umpire for 26 years; he is also an ordained minister and was an amateur boxer as a kid. Interesting combination of activities.

9) Philadelphia 76ers are going to play Shake Milton at point guard, and Ben Simmons at power forward; word out of Orlando is that things have gone well in practice so far. Simmons is a great passer; too bad he can’t shoot that well, but now he’ll be closer to the basket.

8) My Mt Rushmore of Oakland A’s managers:
Dick Williams, Bob Melvin, Tony LaRussa, Art Howe

7) Yasiel Puig signed a free agent deal with Atlanta, then tested positive for Coronavirus, so he’s a free agent again.

6) Gambling is hard: Golfer Ryan Palmer missed the cut last week, shooting 14-over par in two days.

This week, on the same golf course, Palmer is 9-under after two days, and tied for the lead in the tournament, on the same freakin’ course. Go figure.

5) Pitcher HJKang of the Kia Tigers in the KBO was 16-8, 2.29 in the KBO last year, one of the best pitchers in the league. So far this year, he is 5-5, 6.31 in 13 starts and since he is 32 now, there are whispers that he is on the downhill side of his career.

4) Gaylord Perry threw threw 303 complete games in his Hall of Fame career, going 314-265 over 22 years.

There are currently only five active pitchers with 20+ complete games. Baseball sure has changed a lot over the last couple decades.

3) Terry Francona was manager of the Red Sox in 2004, when they won their first World Series in 86 years. Francona was fired won the World Series again in ’07, but got fired in 2011.

Joe Maddon was manager of the Cubs in 2016, when they won their first World Series in 108 years; he got told to take a hike by Chicago only three years later.

The common thread here? Theo Epstein was the GM of both these teams; guess he doesn’t value the job the manager does very much. Only a cynical person would say that Epstein wants the front office to get the credit for all that winning.

2) April 27, 2012; Bryce Harper, Mike Trout got called up to the major leagues for the first time, on the same day.

1) Long time ago, when Jim Valvano was coaching NC State, the Wolfpack had a 5-6 guard named Spud Webb, who turned out to be a damn fine player- he played 12 years in the NBA, but at 5-foot-6, he had his doubters in college.

Webb played JC ball at Midland College; he was recruited to NC State by Tom Abatemarco, Valvano’s top recruiter. When the two coaches went to the airport to meet their new player, Valvano sees a really short kid pick his bag off the luggage rack and walk towards them. Valvano says to his assistant, “If that’s him Tommy, you’re fired.”

Webb was a very good player, so Tommy didn’t get fired. 

Friday TV highlights: Moneyball was on, and I found the Rockford Files on peacocktv.com, a new streaming service that is owned by NBC, and is free (for now). Rockford Files was a good show- James Garner.