Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Baseball’s trade deadline is 4pm Monday; San Diego Padres were active this weekend, adding 1B Mitch Moreland from Boston, and revamping their catching corps, adding Austin Nola from Seattle, Jason Castro from the Angels.

12) Why did the Padres add two catchers this weekend?

Going into Sunday’s games, San Diego catchers were hitting .140 this year. Not good.

Cleveland’s catchers are doing even worse, hitting .118.

11) Braves 12, Phillies 10- Atlanta scored 10 runs in the 2nd inning, Phillies scored seven times in the 3rd inning. Not much pitching anywhere to be found in this one. Atlanta traded for Tommy Milone, who struggled to hold a 10-0 lead. No bueno.

10) LSU’s star WR Ja’Marr Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 TD’s LY; he has opted out of this year’s college football season, a big blow for the Bayou Bengals.

9) Sunday in Cincinnati, the three Cubs’ outfielders hit two home runs each; that had never been done before, ever in the major leagues.

8) Mets did something Friday they’ll probably never do again; they hit a walk-off home run in the Bronx. The nightcap of Friday/Sunday doubleheaders were makeup games from games that were cancelled because of COVID- the Mets were the home teams for those games.

When Amed Rosario hit his walk-off homer Friday, lot of people didn’t know the game was over, including some of the players/announcers.

7) Dodgers are only team that hasn’t lost a series yet this season.

6) I picked up Orioles’ 2B-3B Hanser Alberto on my fantasy team three weeks ago; he drives me crazy, has no concept of the strike zone, but he can hit. Reminds me a lot of Manny Sanguillen, the Pirates’ catcher from their really good teams in the 70’s. They’re liable to swing at anything.

5) Teams that struggle in the NBA playoffs:
— Portland has made the playoffs 36 times, lost in first round 25 times.
— Indiana has made the NBA playoffs 27 times, lost in first round 19 times.

4) Denver 119, Utah 107 (series 3-3)
— Jamal Murray is first player since Michael Jordan in 1993 with three straight games of 40+ points in a playoff game. He had 50 in this game, which forces series to a 7th game.
— Adding some spice to this series is that Murray went to Kentucky, Utah star Donovan Mitchell went to Louisville. Mitchell scored 44 in this game.
— Utah’s uniforms are incredibly ugly.

3) Clippers 111, Dallas 97 (LA wins series 4-2)
— Kawhi Leonard had 33 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals.
— Luka Doncic scored 38, but the other four Dallas starters shot a combined 15-46.

2) Boston 112, Toronto 94 (Celtics lead 1-0)
— Raptors were 10-40 behind the arc; that not good.
— Boston turned ball over 22 times (-8), but they were 17-39 on the arc.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central- Cleveland, Chicago
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, Toronto

NL East- Atlanta, Mia/Phil
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, Mia/Phil

Sunday’s Den: Random thoughts on a summer day

13) I’m a big fan of the Showtime series Ray Donovan, which stars Liev Schrieber; the Donovan family is from Boston in that show, so Schrieber’s character talks with a Boston accent.

I had no idea until a few months ago that Schrieber also does voice-overs for HBO’s Hard Knocks and other sports specials. That voice doesn’t have a Boston accent. Go figure.

12) There is talk of major league baseball going to a bubble format for the playoffs; American League bubbles would be in LA, San Diego. National League bubbles would be in the two Texas ballparks. World Series is rumored to be headed to the Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington.

11) Toronto 5, Baltimore 0— Blue Jays’ acquisition of Taijuan Walker pays immediate dividends; he blanked the Orioles for six innings to get the win in Buffalo.

10) A’s acquired utility guy Tommy LaStella from the Angels this week; I’m guessing he will see some time at both 1B, 3B, to let Matt Chapman, Matt Olson get some days off from the field as the playoffs approach- they would probably still DH on those days.

Marcus Semien left Saturday’s game with a side injury, so Chapman will play SS and they will fill in with other guys at 3B for now.

9) Right now, the Phillies are a playoff team; they’re 13-4 when they score 5+ runs, 1-10 when they score fewer than five runs.

8) We talked a couple weeks ago about a pitcher named Chad Bell who was struggling so badly in the KBO that it was painful to watch. It took him 77 pitches to get thru three innings in the game I described. It almost looked like he had the yips about throwing a baseball.

Since then, Bell has turned things around; in three starts since that game, Bell is 2-0, 0.47, allowing one run in 19 innings. Good for him.

7) Bucks 118, Magic 104 (Milwaukee wins series 4-1)
— Game was 67-50 at the half; not a lot of resistance from Orlando.
— Milwaukee plays Miami in the next round.

6) Lakers 131, Portland 122 (Lakers win series 4-1)
— Lakers scored 117.2 ppg in this series.
— LA plays the winner of the Rockets-Thunder series.

5) Rockets 114, Thunder 80 (Houston leads series 3-2)
— Houston outscored OKC 37-18 in third quarter.
— It was such an easy win, Rockets took more 2-point shots than 3-pointers.

4) Golf trivia; Last time a non-major was won by a guy who shot over par for the week was the 1981 Byron Nelson Classic, when Bruce Lietzke won with a score of +1.

3) RIP to the great basketball coach Lute Olson, who passed away this week at age 85.

Olson built a great program from next-to-nothing at Arizona, leading the Wildcats to three Final Fours and the 1997 national title. He also led Iowa to the 1980 Final Four.

RIP to actor Chadwick Boseman, 43; he passed away this week after a 4-year bout with cancer. I remember him from his role as the linebacker who unexpectedly got drafted first by the Cleveland Browns in the movie Draft Day. 43 is way too young to go. RIP, sir.

2) I am seriously tired of being asked for money; animal rights groups, politicians, kids’ groups, groups that fight diseases, you name it. Seems like once you contribute to something, your name gets put on a suckers’ list and they spread that list around. Please go away.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central- Minnesota, Chicago
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, Toronto

NL East- Atlanta, Mia/Phil
NL Central- Chicago, Milwaukee
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, Mia/Phil

Saturday’s Den: ACC football notes

ACC football notes:
— 5 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Last three years, they’re 22-12-2 ATS as a favorite.
— Tigers won five of last seven postseason games.
— Offensive line this year has only 17 returning starters.

Florida State
— 7 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— Seminoles are 18-20 the last 3 years; from 2010-16, they were 78-17.
— Last four years, FSU is 9-12 ATS as a home favorite.
— Florida State is 5-8 ATS in last 13 games as an underdog.

— 8 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Cardinals covered once in last 8 games as a road underdog.
— Last four years, Louisville is minus-19 in turnovers.
— Cardinals’ top seven RB’s from LY are all back.

NC State
— 10 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Under Doeren, State is 5-10 ATS as a home underdog.
— Last three years, State is 3-9 ATS outside the ACC.
— Wolfpack split its last four bowls, which were all decided by 21+ points.

Wake Forest
— 3 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Last five years, Deacons are 13-6 ATS as a road underdog.
— Under Clawson, Wake Forest is 1-6 ATS as a road favorite.
— Wake are 3-1 in bowls the last four years; all four games were decided by 8 or fewer points.

Boston College
— 6 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— New coach Hafley was a DB coach in the NFL for 7 years.
— Last five years, BC is 7-10 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last six years, Eagles are 14-4-1 ATS as a road underdog.

— 7 starters back on offense, 4 on defense.
— Syracuse won its last four bowls; their last bowl loss was in 2004.
— Under Babers, Orange is 10-7 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last two seasons, Syracuse is +22 in turnovers.

North Carolina
— 10 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Last five years, Tar Heels are 7-4 ATS as road favorites.
— Last two years, underdogs are 9-2 ATS in UNC home games.
— In his career, Mack Brown is 15-8 in bowl games; UNC won its bowl 55-13 LY.

— 8 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Miami is 13-13 SU last two years; the natives are restless.
— Miami’s offensive line has 114 career starts returning.
— Hurricanes lost their last three bowls; they were outscored 49-3 in last two bowls, losing 14-0 to Louisiana Tech LY.

Virginia Tech
— 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— This is their most experienced OL in years; 115 career starts.
— Under Fuente, Hokies are 5-2 ATS as a road underdog.
— Tech lost its last three bowls, allowing 30-35-37 points.

— 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Last six years, Pitt is 10-17-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last five years, Panthers are 14-7 ATS as a road underdog.
— Pitt beat Eastern Michigan 34-30 in a bowl LY, ending a 4-game bowl losing skid.

— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Virginia’s OL has 119 returning starts; all 5 starters are upperclassmen.
— Last two years, Virginia is 7-3 ATS outside the ACC.
— Cavaliers lost four of their last five bowl games (3-2 ATS, all as an underdog)

— 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Duke won its last three bowls, scoring 44-36-56 points.
— Last five years, Blue Devils are 8-14 ATS as a home favorite.
— Since 2013, Duke is 25-8 ATS outside the ACC.

Georgia Tech
— 9 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— Tech covered once in last nine games as a home underdog.
— Last five years, Yellow Jackets are 2-8 ATS as a road favorite.
— Tech has 123 returning starts on the offensive line. 

Friday’s Den; Trends, notes for SEC football teams

SEC football notes
— 7 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— 12-7 ATS in last 19 games as a home favorite.
— 5-2 in last seven bowls (both losses to Clemson)
— Last five years, they’re +58 in turnovers.

— 8 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Last three years, Razorbacks are 8-28 SU. 
— Since 2015, they’re 8-12 ATS as a home favorite.
— Haven’t been to a bowl game since 2016.

— 5 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Since 2015, they’re 10-17-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Malzahn is 2-5 SU in bowl games.
— Last two years, they’re +15 in turnovers.

— 3 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Won last three postseason games, scoring 48.3 ppg.
— Under Orgeron, they covered seven of eight games as an underdog.
— Since 2012, LSU is 17-21 ATS out of conference.

Ole Miss
— 8 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Lane Kiffin is the new coach; this should be interesting.
— Rebels are 14-8 ATS in last 22 games as a road dog.
— Ole Miss is 6-10 ATS in last 16 non-conference games.

Mississippi State:
— 6 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Mike Leach is the new coach; this should also be interesting.
— State failed to cover its last six tries as a road underdog.
— At Wazzu, Leach covered 17 of his last 25 games as a road dog.

Texas A&M:
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— Under Fisher, Aggies covered 11 of 14 games when favored.
— Average total in their last five bowls: 65.2.
— Fisher won seven of his nine bowl games.

— 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Gators covered 12 of last 17 games when favored.
— Scored 35.7 ppg in winning their last three bowls.
— Offensive line has 89 returning starts this season.

— 3 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Since 2015, Dawgs are 11-19 ATS as a home favorite.
— Since ’14, Georgia is 17-12 ATS outside the SEC.
— Todd Monken is the new OC, which should help.

— 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Were 4-2 as a HF last year, after going 2-12 from 2016-18
— Last two years, they won their bowl game as an underdog.
— Offensive line has 84 returning starts this season.

— 4 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Covered once in their last seven games as a road favorite.
— 8-4 in last 12 games as a home favorite.
— Last bowl win was in 2014.

South Carolina:
— 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Covered 7 of last 9 games as a road underdog.
— Former Georgia QB Mike Bobo is their new OC.
— Finished under .500 three of last five years.

— 9 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Have 115 starts back on their offensive line; that’s a whole lot.
— Vols won their last four bowl games.
— Under Pruitt, they’re 6-2 ATS as a road underdog.

— 5 starters back on offense, all 11 on defense.
— Have a new QB and only 48 returning starts on OL.
— Since 2017, they’re 5-8 ATS as a road underdog.
— Since 2017, they’re 2-8 ATS as a home underdog.

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

13) Pretty good day/night for two pitchers from the Albany area.

Braves’ rookie Ian Anderson made his MLB debut in the opener of a twinbill- he gave up only one hit in six IP in a 5-1 win over New York.

Colorado’s Jeff Hoffman came out of the bullpen and squelched a late Arizona rally, getting the last out of the Rockies’ 8-7 win in the desert. It was his first career save.

Anderson went to Shenendehowa HS (with Kevin Huerter of the Atlanta Hawks), Hoffman went to Shaker HS (my high school’s arch-rival). Tommy Kahnle is another big league pitcher from the Albany area; he also went to Shaker.

12) There have been 16 doubleheaders in the major leagues this year; eight of them have been swept, which is an unusually high percentage of sweeps.

11) There was a time when the major league umpires’ union was pretty powerful; used to be that replays of close calls weren’t allowed to be shown on the stadium scoreboard.

Now the umpires’ union is hoping MLB doesn’t go to robotic umps to call balls/strikes; replays are an integral part of the game

10) Doug Eddings had the plate in the Colorado-Arizona game Wednesday; game was taking forever because Robbie Ray doesn’t throw strikes anymore, and Eddings was calling strikes whenever he could find a pith close to the plate. Ray threw 99 pitches in four tedious innings.

The last 2+ years, under is 37-31 with Eddings behind the plate.

9) We’ve mentioned how umpires have been traveling a lot less this season; in Kyle Hendricks’ last three starts for the Cubs, he’s had the same home plate umpire, Tim Timmons for all three games. That is really rare in the big leagues.

8) In Lucas Giolito’s no-hitter for the White Sox Tuesday night, he threw only 27 balls; Pirates swung/missed at 30 of his pitches, and only one batter reached base, on a walk.

7) Bad Beat of the night from Tuesday morning in the KBO; Kiwoom Heroes had a 5-0 lead after five innings at KT, but the Wiz rallied for a 6-5 win in 10 innings. Kiwoom used 12 pitchers in the game; they don’t have the 3-batter minimum in Korea.

6) Random stat: In baseball history, the most hits by one player, against one team:
Detroit Tigers’ Ty Cobb had 619 hits against New York. Lot of fewer teams back then, and no interleave play, so teams played each other a lot more than they do now.

5) Tampa Bay Rays already have 21 wins; 10 different Tampa pitchers have at least one save.

4) In his last 105 games, Ronald Acuna Jr. has 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases; if he stays healthy for an entire season, he’s going to put up some massive numbers. But he has to stay healthy, and stealing a lot of bases takes its toll on a players’ legs.

3) Indiana Pacers fired coach Nate McMIllan Wednesday; he made the playoffs all four years he coached the Pacers, but then went 3-16 in the playoffs, getting swept three of four years. Like all pro sports, NBA is a performance-based business.

2) Portland Trailblazers’ star Damian Lillard is going back to Portland to have his right knee checked; he dislocated a finger on his left hand in a game last week, then sprained his knee in the Blazers’ last game.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central- Minnesota, Clev/CWS
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Chi/CWS, Toronto

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, San Francisco

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) White Sox 4, Pirates 0— Lucas Giolito throws the first no-hitter of 2020; he walked one guy, struck out 13, threw only 101 pitches.

Chicago OF Eloy Jimenez apparently hurt his ankle in the celebration after the no-hitter.

12) With the baseball trade deadline looming on Monday, Texas Rangers’ P Lance Lynn figures to be a hot commodity; Lynn has thrown 100+ pitches in each of his last 31 starts, which is very rare in today’s game and also very valuable, since it takes some strain off the bullpen.

11) Wednesday’s Astros-Angels game was postponed because of an impending hurricane hitting the Houston area; it will be made up as part of a twinbill next week in Anaheim.

10) Umpires aren’t traveling nearly as much as they usually do. Tuesday night the Colorado Rockies had Rob Drake’s umpiring crew for the 11th consecutive game. Considering they had a 7-game losing streaking in the middle of that streak, there has to be some tension in these games.

9) Miami 4-3, NY Mets 0-0— For the first time in 45 years, Mets got swept in a doubleheader when they didn’t score in either game. Marlins are a spunky 14-11 this season.

Miami’s Jon Berti embarrassed the Mets by stealing 3rd and home in the bottom of the 6th inning, because the Mets weren’t paying attention. That wasn’t big league baseball. A 2-0 game became a 3-0 game, Heads-up play by Berti.

8) Random stat: Most career hits against the Houston Astros:
Pete Rose 451, Tony Gwynn 320

7) LA Chargers’ star Austin Ekeler was the only player in the NFL last year to have 100+ rushing yards and 100+ receiving yards in the same game.

Week 13 at Jacksonville, a game the Chargers won 45-10, Ekeler ran the ball for 101 yards, had 112 yards catching passes.

6) Minnesota Vikings have only four of their 16 games outdoors this year, only one after Week 8.

5) Over the last 30 years, Duke has had 39 players drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft; some day this winter when things are really slow, we’ll do a deep dive into how those players fared in the NBA.

4) Matt Barnes finished his 14-year NBA career by being a sub on Golden State’s title team in 2017, but he never accepted his championship ring, because he felt he didn’t do enough to earn it.

Tuesday, Golden State Warriors “had a courier drive [Barnes’] ring down” once they heard he would be on ESPN’s The Jump, so Barnes gets his ring. Classy move.

NBA playoff games (both Game 5’s):
3) Denver 117, Utah 107 (Jazz leads 3-2)
— Nuggets outscored Utah 35-21 in 4th quarter to stave off elimination.
— Jokic/Murray combined to make 29-45 shots from the floor, 11-19 on arc.
— Denver held Rudy Gobert to 11 points.

2) Clippers 154, Dallas 111 (Clippers lead 3-2)
— Not a good effort by the Mavericks, obviously; game was 76-52 at halftime. Then it got worse, a lot worse.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central- Minnesota, Clev/CWS
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Chi/CWS, Toronto

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, Milwaukee

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

13) 2018 NBA Draft:
1st pick- Phoenix- Deandre Ayton
2nd pick- Sacramento- Marvin Bagley
3rd pick- Dallas- Luka Doncic

Sacramento’s GM just got fired. I wonder why.

12) The other day, a friend of mine was telling me about the first time he went to a horse racing book in Las Vegas, and how amazed he was when he saw that they showed races from all over the country. This was a long time ago, but his face still lit up telling the story. Was cool to see, and made me want to look at the prices for flights to the desert, but have to be cautious until there is a vaccine.

11) Major league pitcher is on the mound the other night, guy on first, two out, 1-2 count on the hitter. The pitcher backs off the mound, takes a note card out of his back pocket and looks at it. What the bleep could possibly be on that card, that he would need it there?

10) Miami Marlins have really ugly black jerseys; hard to read the names/numbers on the back, but if the season ended today, Miami would make the playoffs, which is remarkable. Manager Don Mattingly has done an excellent job.

9) Toronto’s Cavan Biggio was up with the bases empty in Tampa Monday; with bases empty, Rays played four outfielders, which looked weird. He slapped a single to left, which defeated the purpose. I’m thinking that sometimes the analytics guys overplay their hands in order to justify their existence in the business.

8) Dodgers are 7-1 this season in games where the winning run scores from 7th inning on.

7) Random stat: Indians’ 3B Jose Ramirez is hitting .353 at home, only .140 on the road.

6) Obscure news item of the day: A woman that was presumed dead was found alive and breathing inside a Detroit funeral home. Someone has some explaining to do.

NBA playoff games (all Game 4’s):
5) Milwaukee 121, Orlando 106 (Bucks leads 3-1)
— Bucks were only up 3 after the third quarter.
— Milwaukee was +30 in 23:00 that George Hill played.
— Good news for the Magic; when they get eliminated Wednesday, they won’t have far to go before they’re home, seeing how the bubble is just outside Orlando.

4) Oklahoma City 117, Houston 114 (series 2-2)
— Only one Houston sub played more than 15:00.
— Rockets were 23-58 behind the arc, 18-33 inside arc.
— Thunder’s four subs were a combined +33; their starters were minus-18.

3) Miami 99, Indiana 87 (Heat wins series 4-0)
— Miami advances to the 2nd round for first time since 2016.
— Indiana lost in the first round the last five years.
— Miami’s bench outscored Indiana’s 38-3.

2) Lakers 135, Portland 115 (Lakers lead 3-1)
— Game was 80-51 at halftime, which is all the comment this game deserves.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- New York, Tampa Bay
AL Central- Minnesota, Clev/CWS
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Chi/CWS, Toronto

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colo, NYM/SF

Monday’s Den: Thoughts on basketball, and other stuff……..

Allow me a minute here to pat myself on the back; I don’t do this very often, but in this case, I think it is deserved.

On one of the NBA games Sunday, they were talking about plus-minus as a mainstream stat and I felt ten feet tall. There was a time a long time ago where plus-minus got me laughed at.

My work study job in college (1977-82) was keeping stats for football/basketball games for our college team at Albany. My real love is basketball, and I’ve always tried to come up with different metrics to help the coaches I worked for measure their team. In short, I was a basketball nerd way before it was a profitable enterprise. My timing hasn’t always been the greatest.

One day we were driving back from a football game, and I was thinking about the upcoming basketball season; someone in the car was talking about hockey, and mentioned a player’s plus-minus. Plus/minus is the score of the game while that player was on the ice, minus any goals scored while someone had a man advantage. Plus/minus was and still is a big NHL stat.

Suddenly it dawned on me; why not do this for basketball? Why couldn’t each player have his own plus/minus for each game? So I started doing it; as far as I knew, no one else in America was using this as a basketball stat. Of course, I was wrong.

Philadelphia 76ers had a legendary stat guy named Harvey Pollack; he was doing plus-minus too, as part of his media package for 76ers games. I regret that I never got to meet Mr Pollack; I couldn’t learned a lot from him.

For one individual game, plus/minus can be misleading, but over the course of a season, it is a telling stat. Plus/minus for player combos is also a really good metric; some guys just mesh well together, and should be on the floor at the same time. Others should not be.

(Side note: the guy who subs in for the best player often suffers in plus/minus, since he doesn’t get to play with the best player).

Some of the best stuff that has happened in my life revolved around my work with basketball teams and statistics; U of Albany, Schenectady HS, Guilderland HS. Being a nerd is more fun than it looks like from the outside.

9) I keep weird hours; I’m watching Korean baseball Saturday night/Sunday morning and I see on Twitter where someone is posting pics of horses getting ready to work out at Saratoga. To them, it was already Sunday morning. To me, it was still Saturday night.

8) Neighbors across the street must’ve had a hall of a party Saturday; before I went off to bed around 6am, I look out the window and there is a black Corvette parked diagonally on the lawn across the street. Pretty nice car to be parked like that.

7) Major league baseball season is roughly half-over; we’re also a week away from the trade deadline. Blue Jays acquired DH-type Daniel Vogelbach from Seattle. Toronto is 13-13, tied for the second Wild Card slot.

6) Tampa Bay Rays have eight different pitchers with a save this season; they also have nine pitchers on the Injured List.

NBA playoff games (all Game 4’s):
5) Dallas 135, Clippers 133 OT (series 2-2)
— Tremndous game; Dallas wins after trailing by 21 at one point.
— Luka Doncic is 3rd player in NBA postseason history with a 40-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist game, joining Charles Barkley (1993) and Oscar Robertson (1963)
— Last three games, Paul George is 10-47 from the floor.

4) Toronto 150, Brooklyn 122 (Raptors win, 4-0)
— Game was 77-68 at halftime.
— Toronto’s subs scored 100 points in this game. Their subs.
— Nets can begin their coaching search now.

3) Boston 110, Philadelphia 106 (Celtics win 4-0)
— Sixers were down a hoop when Tobias Harris was knocked out of the game.
— Natives are restless in Philly; hard to imagine coach Brown keeping his job.
— Kemba Walker led the Celtics with 32 points.

2) Utah 129, Denver 127 (Jazz lead 3-1)
— First playoff game ever where both teams had a guy score 50+ points.
— Joe Ingels played 35:00, didn’t score a point, but also didn’t have a turnover; he was +8
— Jamal Murray made 9-15 on the arc, scored 50 points in a losing cause.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- New York, Tampa Bay
AL Central- Minnesota, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Chicago, Tor/Balt

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colo/NYM/SF

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Seth Ryan is a 26-year old quality control coach for the LA Chargers; he is also Rex Ryan’s son. The young man recently tested positive for COVID-19; we wish him the best, and hope that he gets healthy soon.

12) Major league starting pitchers are averaging 76.8 pitches/game this season, the lowest figure ever; next lowest was 84.6 pitches/game. This is certainly a different year.

11) In their last six games, five different San Diego Padres have hit a grand slam; Jake Cronenworth hit one against the Astros Saturday night.

10) Zac Gallen is a good young pitcher for Arizona; he is 0-0, 2.25 in six starts this year.
— He’s tied the record for most games allowing 3 earned runs or fewer to begin a career (21)
— He walked the first three batters in this game, but wound up allowing only four other baserunners in his six IP.
— Gallen wears glasses, is thin, doesn’t look overly athletic, but is smart. He has 42 strikeouts in 36 IP this season. 

— One weird thing about him; he throws to first base every time someone gets to first, whether it is the backup catcher or the fastest guy on the team. Almost like he has to.

9) Stan Van Gundy was saying on TV Saturday that two things guarantee good team chemistry:
— Equality of effort amongst the players
— Teammates who share the basketball

8) From the fine sportswriter Tim Wilkin: Total money wagered on the races at Saratoga Saturday: $19,792,872. People like to bet on the ponies.

If you’ve never been to Saratoga, I highly recommend it; lot of history at the track. I live about 25 miles from there, been to the track many times over the years. I prefer the harness track down the street; the races run closer together and it is less crowded, but both are fun.

7) Former New Orleans Pelican head coach Alvin Gentry took a few media members to dinner Friday night for a final goodbye; classy move for a guy who just lost his job.

Back in 2002 or so, when they started doing reality TV shows, someone did one on the Clippers team that Gentry coached. He seemed like a genuinely nice person, low-key, smart, but that team wasn’t very good, and he got fired there after three years.

He was an assistant coach on the Warriors team that won the NBA title five years ago; he also went 54-28 coaching the Suns one year, 48-34 with the Pelicans another year. The guy can coach; hope he winds up on TV somewhere, so we can learn from him.

6) Most innings pitched this season without throwing a homer:
34— Fried, Atl
29.1— Greinke, Hst
25.2— Sheffield, Sea
24.2— Turnbull, Det
20— Kikuchi, Sea

NBA playoff games (all Game 3’s):
5) Milwaukee 121, Orlando 107 (Bucks lead 2-1)
— Milwaukee was up 34 at one point; Magic fought back to within 12.
— Janes Ennis, Marvin Williams were both tossed after a 2nd quarter scuffle.
— Bucks are +24 on boards in last two games; they were outrebounded 48-47 in Game 1.

4) Miami 124, Indiana 115 (Heat leads 3-0)
— Heat was 43-52 on foul line, Indiana 21-28
— Pacers weren’t happy about that.
— Indiana was +5 in 32:00 Justin Holiday played, minus-14 in 16:00 he sat out.

3) Oklahoma City 119, Houston 107 (OT) (Rockets lead 2-1)
— Rockets led 63-57 at the half, scored only 44 points in final 29:00
— Houston was -29 in 41:00 Gordon played; +17 in 12:00 he sat out.
— Schroder had 29 points in 39:00 off bench for the Thunder.

2) Lakers 116, Portland 108 (Lakers lead 2-1)
— Anthony Davis scored 23 of his 29 points in 2nd half.
— Lakers were down 4 at half, outscored Portland 40-29 in 3rd quarter.
— Damian Lillard scored 34 points in 43:00, playing with a dislocated finger on his left hand.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- New York, Tampa Bay
AL Central- Minnesota, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Toronto, Chicago

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, Az/NYM

Saturday’s Den: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) They were debating on FS1 Friday whether Russell Martin needs an NFL MVP award to be considered an all-time great QB. Let me say this…….

I’m an avid Rams’ fan, so I’ve been rooting against Russell Wilson his entire NFL career. Believe me when I say this: Wilson may not own an MVP trophy, but HE IS AN ELITE QB, one of the best ever. Reminds me a lot of facing Joe Montana, which means I can’t stand the guy. 🙂

12) Why I’m queasy about traveling to Las Vegas in the foreseeable future; this week, a brawl broke out on an American Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Charlotte— two women were going at it. What started out as an argument about seating became an argument about masks, and that led to fisticuffs.

The video is available on Twitter; people are overly tense in these trying times, so things get overheated more quickly. Hopefully 2021 will be better for all of us.

11) Prayers, best wishes to Washington Redskins coach Ron Rivera, who was diagnosed with lymph node cancer- apparently they caught it early and his prognosis is good.

10) Subway Series got postponed this weekend, because of Mets’ problems with COVID. Bronx has half their team on the injured list, so good timing for them.

9) In their first 19 games, Miami Marlins started eight different right fielders.

8) 1979-80 was the NBA’s first season with the 3-point shot; in their 16 playoff games that year, the champion Lakers tried 18 3-pointers. Total.

Friday against Toronto, the Nets were 16-51 behind the arc. In one game.

7) Why would someone pay $500,000 to get their kid into USC?
— It is illegal to do that.
— Is USC that great a college?
— Once they got into USC, are the parents paying off the professors to pass their kids?
— Why not spend some of that money on tutors so your kid can earn their way into a college?

6) Red Sox are 2-13 in games not started by Nathan Eovaldi/Martin Perez.

NBA playoff games (all Game 3’s):
5) Toronto 117, Brooklyn 92 (Raptors lead 3-0)
— Bad news for the Nets; they lost by 25.
— Good news for the Nets: they can go home Sunday, after they get swept.

4) Utah 124, Denver 97 (Jazz leads 2-1):
— This was the first time in 11 games in the bubble that a Denver game stayed under the total.
  Gobert/Conley combined to make 20-28 shots from the floor.
— Utah made 18-37 behind the arc.

3) Boston 102, Philadelphia 94 (Celtics lead 3-0):
— Celtics’ bench outscored Philly’s bench 20-9.
— Teams combined to make only 17-70 behind the arc.
— Harris/Embiid combined to make 13-39 shots from the floor.

2) Clippers 130, Dallas 122 (LA leads 2-1)
— Luka Doncic sprained his left ankle, very big blow for Dallas.
— Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points; grabbed 9 rebounds, had 8 assists.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- New York, Tampa Bay
AL Central- Minnesota, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Toronto, Chicago

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, Arizona 

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with weekend here…..

13) Padres 8, Rangers 7 (10)— San Diego became the first team ever (EVER!!!) to hit a grand slam in four consecutive games. Thats over 100 years of history; I was surprised when I heard that no one had done that before. By this time, you figure everything has been done at least once.

12) Blue Jays 3-9, Phillies 2-8— Not only did Philly lose a doubleheader, they lost the nightcap after taking a 7-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning. Phillies’ bullpen is horrendous; their ERA before Thursday was 8.10. It is higher now.

11) Minnesota Timberwolves won the #1 pick in 2020 the NBA Draft; if I were them, I’d include Karl Anthony Towns in on how they make their pick, because he’s their best player, and will need to mesh well with whoever the new kid in town is.

10) Mets had games Thursday/Friday postponed after two of their people tested positive for coronavirus.

9) The start of next season’s NBA schedule sounds like it is going to be pushed back until at least Christmas; they’re going to want to have fans in the stands when next season starts, but that is unlikely until there is a vaccine. I’m guessing Christmas for Opening Day. Having a vaccine by then would be a good Christmas present for the world.

8) Arizona Diamondbacks are 13-7 vs righty pitchers, 0-6 vs lefties.

7) San Francisco Giants are 1-9 this season in games where the winning run scores from the 7th inning on.

6) Donald Trump actually suggested trading Puerto Rico for Greenland; this is a guy you’d love to have in your fantasy baseball league, except the imbecile would never pay the entry fee. There is a reason the NFL wouldn’t let him buy the Buffalo Bills.

NBA playoff games (all Game 2’s):
5) Miami 109, Indiana 100 (Heat leads 2-0)
— Heat made 18-35 shots behind the arc.
— Miami’s bench outscored Indiana’s 30-18.
— Duncan Robinson scored 24 for Miami; he played his first year of college basketball at D-III Williams, before transferring to Michigan.

4) Houston 111, Oklahoma City 98 (Rockets lead 2-0)
— Rockets outscored OKC 34-20 in 4th quarter.
— Houston was 19-56 behind the arc, 19-35 inside arc.
— Seven of eight Rockets who played scored double figures.

3) Milwaukee 111, Orlando 96 (series 1-1)
— NBA playoffs would be lot more interesting if series were shorter, and the lesser teams had an actual chance to pull the upset. An 8-seed winning four of seven isn’t realistic without injuries.
— This game was 64-43 at the half.
— Nikola Vucevic scored 32, has 67 points in first two series games.

2) Lakers 111, Portland 88
— Damian Lillard dislocated the index finger on his left hand.
— Gabriel (-21) was only Portland starter who was better than minus-28
— Anthony Davis was 13-21 from floor in Game 2, after being 8-24 in Game 1.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- New York, Tampa Bay
AL Central- Minnesota, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Toronto, Chicago

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, Arizona 

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

13) I’m thinking NBA refs must be loving these games in the bubble; not many people are there to yell at them, no rich people in the first row spilling their drinks on the floor, and if someone does yell at them, TV mikes pick up everything, so chances are the criticism is toned down.

12) These 7-inning games in doubleheaders take some getting used to; after watching 9-inning major league games for the last 55 years, a game is tied in the 5th inning, and I’m slow to realize that the game is in the late innings already.

11) In 2018-19, of the 277 hits that came on 3-0 counts, 86 of them were home runs. This season, 12 of the first 14 hits that came on 3-0 counts were homers.

10) Orioles’ catcher Chance Sisco batted leadoff the last couple of days for Baltimore; he is the first Orioles’ catcher to bat leadoff since June 26, 1985, when Floyd Rayford batted leadoff for the O’s.

9) This is the first time since 2003 that both #8-seeds upset both #1-seeds in the first game of the NBA playoffs.

8) Former Cubs’ SS Addison Russell is hitting .314 in his first 17 games for the Kiwoom Heroes in the KBO; Russell played in 82 games for the Cubs last year- he hit .242 in five big league seasons.

7) Things I learned watching TV: Rams’ QB Jared Goff throws a football right-handed, but plays golf left-handed.

6) Miami Marlins have two pitchers named Josh Smith; one is righty, one is lefty. They came in one after the other in their loss to the Mets Wednesday.

NBA playoff games (all Game 2’s):
5) Raptors 104, Nets 99 (Toronto leads series 2-0)
— Brooklyn led this game most of the way, was up 6 after three quarters.
— Three Nets’ subs who played were a combined minus-43.
— Norman Powell scored 24 off the bench for Toronto.

4) Utah 124, Denver 105 (series 1-1)
— Jazz made 20-44 shots behind the arc.
— Gobert/Mitchell were a combined 17-24 from the floor; Mitchell made six of his seven 3’s.
— Denver made 13-27 on the arc, after making 22-41 in Game 1; Jazz forced them off the arc more.

3) Celtics 128, 76ers 101 (Boston leads series 2-0)
— Boston outscored Sixers 71-42 in quarters 2-3.
— Tatum scored 33 for the Celtics, making 8-12 3’s.

2) Mavericks 127, Clippers 114 (series 1-1)
— Seth Curry was +30 in 26:00 off the Dallas bench.
— Doncic has 28 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists.
— Paul George was only 4-17 from the floor for LA.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- New York, Tampa Bay
AL Central- Minnesota, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Baltimore, Chicago

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, Milwaukee
NL West- Los Angeles, Colorado
NL Wild Cards- San Diego, Arizona 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Mike Trout has had 35 games in his career where he hit a home run and also stole a base; during his career, no other big leaguer has more than 20 such games.

12) Strange turn in baseball; umpires aren’t traveling as much as they used to, and sometimes when they do travel, they travel on team charters, which has to be a little awkward.

11) Red Sox have already used 11 different starting pitchers this season.

10) Twins 4, Brewers 3 (12)
— Kenta Maeda had a no-hitter thru 8 innings, then Twins blew his 3-0 lead.
— Brewers lost their DH in extra innings, but pitcher’s turn to bat never came up
— Milwaukee used five IF, two OF for last two batters of game.
— Jed Gyorko failed to tag up on liner to RF in top of 12th, costing Milwaukee a run.

9) I’m thinking that baseball may eventually change the rule about a starting pitcher having to finish five innings to get credit for a win, which opens a whole mew statistical can of worms that nerds like me will get a kick out of.

They should leave it up to the official scorer to award the win if a starter goes less than five IP; if it happens,  it would have a pretty big impact on fantasy baseball, and a lot of money is spent on fantasy baseball.

8) NBA ref Leon Wood has been an official for 20+ years, after playing seven years in the league- he was an excellent player at Cal State-Fullerton. He also played pro ball in Italy and Spain.

7) Toronto pitcher Shun Yamaguchi wears #1; I cannot remember another major league pitcher wearing #1.

6) Reds-Royals were postponed Tuesday, will play twinbill today.

Cardinals-Cubs also play a pair today; it will be third DH in five days for St Louis.

NBA playoff games (all Game 1’s):
5) Orlando 122, Milwaukee 110
— 8-seed Magic win as a 14-point underdog.
— Vucevic scored 35 points; five others were in double figures.
— Magic used only four subs; they were a combined +32

4) Miami 113, Indiana 101
— Heat outscored Indiana 61-40 in 2nd/4th quarters.
— Tyler Herro scored 15 points off bench for Miami.
— Victor Oladipo played only 9:00, scored four points.

3) Houston 123, Oklahoma City 108
— Rockets led 68-52 at halftime.
— Houston was 20-52 behind arc, 23-37 inside arc.
  Green was +28, McLemore +27 off bench for Houston.

2) Portland 100, Lakers 93
— 8-seed Portland wins as a 6.5-point underdog.
— Lillard scored 34; Portland only used eight players.
— Laker starters other than Lebron were 15-50 from the floor.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- New York, Tampa Bay
AL Central- Minnesota, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Baltimore, Chicago

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, Milwaukee
NL West- Los Angeles, Colorado
NL Wild Cards- Arizona, San Diego

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

13) Authorities in Australia fined a Sydney casino the equivalent of $64,500 for allowing three minors to gamble in their casino; one of the gamblers was a 12-year old girl, who was playing video poker with her parents. Not exactly sure what the parents were thinking.

12) Can’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but when I had my cataract surgery two weeks ago, I was wearing jeans and sneakers throughout the operation- they give you a gown to wear over your clothes, but it is kind of like going to the dentist, minus the pain.

I’m guessing not many cataract patients wear black Pumas during their operation.

11) Cleveland Indians have beaten Detroit 20 times in a row; yikes.

10) Arizona Diamondbacks took Robbie Ray out of the game Sunday while he was pitching a no-hitter; problem is, he had walked six guys, and thrown 95 pitches thru those five innings.

9) 124 major leaguers homered in their first-ever big league at-bat. Dodgers’ C Keibert Ruiz is the latest to do that; he homered in Anaheim the other day.

8) Kansas City Chiefs announced Monday that they’ll try and play home games with 22% of their fans allowed to attend, so if their stadium seats 72,000, then 16,000 fans can go to the game.

7) Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, DJ Lemahieu are all on the IL: that is $38,684,300 worth of salary sitting out, just those three guys.

Oakland’s whole payroll this season? $89,135,833

6) Dodgers 11, Mariners 9— Both Seager brothers homered in this game, the first time they played against each other in the majors.

NBA playoff games (all Game 1’s):
5) Denver 135, Utah 125 OT
— Bad beat if you took 4.5 points with Utah.
— Denver made 22-41 3-pointers.
— Donovan Mitchell scored 57 for the Jazz.

4) Toronto 134, Brooklyn 110
— Why did the Nets fire Kenny Atkinson? Guy is a good coach.

3) Boston 109, Philadelphia 101
— Celtics were +11 in turnovers (7-18)
— Tatum had 32 points, 13 rebounds for Boston.
— Boston’s bench scored only 8 points in this game.

2) LA Clippers 118, Dallas 110
— Kristaps Porzingis got bounced for this game, getting two technicals.
— Clippers were +10 in turnovers (11-21)
— LA’s starters were +87, their subs minus-47

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- New York, Tampa Bay
AL Central- Minnesota, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Baltimore, Chicago

NL East- Miami, Atlanta
NL Central- Chicago, Milwaukee
NL West- Los Angeles, Colorado
NL Wild Cards- Arizona, SD/StL

Monday’s Den: NFL knowledge for a summer day

13) Under Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings are 3-15-1 ATS (1-17-1 SU) when playing outdoors against a team with a winning record.
— Last three years, Vikings are 20-9 ATS as a favorite; last two years, they’re 3-7 as an underdog.
— Last year, Minnesota was +11 in turnovers, +20 in sacks, but they lost four of six games decided by 8 or fewer points.

12) From 1973-77, St Louis Cardinals went 42-29-1 under Don Coryell, who was a great coach. Redbirds have had 12 coaches since then; only one who had a winning record was Bruce Arians, who went 50-32-1 in the desert from 2013-17.

11) Seattle Seahawks were 10-2 last year in games decided by 8r or fewer points; Russell Wilson is a great QB who masks a lot of their team’s deficiencies- they were 4-0 in games decided by 3 or fewer points.
— Seattle was +12 in turnovers last year; their defense had 32 takeaways. 

10) Over last four years, Carolina Panthers are 9-16 ATS in divisional games.
— Panthers covered 11 of their last 16 home games.
— Carolina was #30 in NFL last year in $$$ spent on offensive line salaries.
— New QB this year, new coaches, who are also mostly new to the NFL. Could be a tough year for staffs like that.
— Trivia: Steve Beuerlein threw for 4,436 yards, 36 TD’s in 1999, both Carolina records.

9) Sean Payton has been head coach in New Orleans for 15 years; his DC Dennis Allen has been with the Saints six years, OC Pete Carmichael 12 years. Lot of continuity there.
— Last three years, Saints are 10-3 ATS as road favorites, 11-11 as home faves.
— Over is 13-3 in Saints’ last 16 road games.
— New Orleans was +15 in turnovers last year.

8) Baltimore Ravens were #1 last year in $$$ spent on defensive players, #30 on offensive players, which is influenced by their having a young QB. Lamar Jackson is going to break the bank pretty soon, which will help balance the scales somewhat.

7) Dallas Cowboys haven’t played in the NFC championship game since 1995; they’re 0-6 last six times they got to the divisional round of the playoffs.
— Dallas hired John Fassel as their new special teams coach, so that part of their team should improve this season.
— Cowboys spend the most $$$ in the NFL paying their offensive linemen.
— Last two years, Cowboys are 10-5 ATS at home.
— Only Cowboys coach ever with a losing record? Dave Campo went 15-33 from 2000-02.

6) Green Bay was +12 in turnovers LY; there were no return TD’s in their games LY, for or against them, which is unusual.
— Last Green Bay coach with a losing record? Lindy Infante went 24-40 from 1988-91.
— Packers went 6-0 in divisional games LY; they were 3-8-1 the previous two years.

5) Under Sean McVay, Rams are 35-17 the last three years.
— Rams are 21-14 ATS in last 35 games as a favorite.
— LA was +28 in sacks last year (50-22).
— This year, Rams have a new special teams coach, new defensive coordinator and a new QB coach (McVay is the real offensive coordinator)

4) Last four years, New Jersey Giants are 23-42; Joe Judge is their 4th head coach in six years.
— Giants are 1-10 ATS in last 11 games as a home underdog, 10-3 in last 13 as a road dog.
— Big Blue turned ball over 33 times LY, were -17 in turnovers. Jason Garrett’s job as HC is to turn Daniel Jones into an efficient NFL quarterback.
— Giants were 2-5 LY in games decided by 8 or fewer points.

3) Eagles covered 10 of their last 13 visits to play the Giants in New Jersey.
— Philly covered only one of its last six games with Dallas.
— Eagles covered five of their last six games with Washington.
— Last two years, Philly is 5-10 ATS at home.

2) Chicago Bears lost their last six season openers; last time they won an opener was 24-21 over the Bengals, in 2013.
— Bears were #31 in NFL last year, in $$$ spent on the offensive line.
— Chicago was #25 LY in $$ spent on offense, #4 on defense
— 11 of their games LY were decided by 8 or fewer points (6-5).
— In 1995, Erik Kramer threw for 3,838 yards, 29 TD’s, both single season franchise records.

1) Three years ago, Detroit fired coach Jim Caldwell, despite his 36-30 record; he was the first Lions’ HC with a winning record since Joe Schmidt (1967-72).
— In two years since firing Caldwell, Detroit is 9-22-1 under Matt Patricia.
— Lions were 3-8 LY in games decided by 8 or fewer points.
— Matthew Stafford has played 11 years in the NFL, is 0-3 in playoff games.