Wednesday’s 6-pack, Quote, Quiz of the Day

Baseball knowledge is posted every day!!!
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Wednesday’s 6-pack
Odds to win the PGA’s Zurich Open (team event) this weekend:
7-1— Rahm/Palmer, Schauffele/Cantlay
9-1— Smith/Leishman
14-1— Finau/Champ, Morikawa/Wolff, Watson/Scheffler
20-1— Horschel/Burns, Kirk/Todd
27-1— Willett/Hatton
29-1— Bradley/Steele, Grace/Varner III
Americans who have died from COVID-19: 567,557
PLEASE wear a mask (over your nose/mouth) when you go out.

Quote of the Day
“Two totally different basketball players. Jordan was a guy that he was going to make big shots. He’s going to take the ball every time and shoot it every time he has to. I think LeBron is an all-around basketball player.

If you ask me who’s a better all-around basketball player… LeBron James by far. He does everything. He passes the ball better than Jordan, He can dribble it a little bit better than Jordan… shooting-wise, I don’t think so, rebounding I think he did but Jordan did rebound; but they’re two different basketball players.”
Gary Payton

Wednesday’s quiz
Peyton Manning was the first pick of the 1998 NFL Draft; what other QB was the #2 pick? 

Tuesday’s quiz
Rick Pitino has had a long, very successful coaching career; his first head coaching job was at Boston University, from 1978-83

Monday’s quiz
Since 2008, Jay Bruce is the lefty batter who has hit the most home runs (319)

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Now that transferring is all the rage in college basketball, I’m curious; how does it work?
— Does the player reach out to the school, or the school to the player?
— Is it legal for a coach to call a player at another school and try to poach him?
— Are third parties involved?
— Do players call other guys they know and try to get them to bolt to their school?

Last time I heard, there were over 1,300 names in the transfer portal for next year. Chaotic times in college basketball; would be a good Hard Knocks-type show to see how it all works. 

12) Some of the more impactful basketball transfers this spring:
— Kid from Davidson jumped to Kentucky; he is a shooter
— Utah to Texas (Chris Beard is good at poaching)
— Georgetown to Maryland (lot of people bolting from the Hoyas)
— North Carolina to Auburn
— Rutgers to UCLA

11) Penguins 7, Devils 6:
— Pittsburgh led this game 6-0 after two periods.
— If you took the Devils +1.5 goals, hope you didn’t rip the ticket up.
— Penguins are first NHL team EVER to win a game, when they were outscored by 5+ goals in the third period. NHL teams are now 1-279 when outscored by 5+ goals in third period.

10) New York Knicks have won seven games in a row, covered ten in a row; Tom Thibodeau may be Coach of the Year in the NBA this year, as the Knicks figure to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

9) Last year, Atlanta Braves were 24-6 when they scored first; this year, they’re 3-5.

8) Guy named Brad Spielberger posted info on whether NFL GM’s tend to trade up or down in NFL Drafts. Some interesting stuff……..
— Bill Belichick, Patriots 13 Up, 23 Down
— Les Snead, Rams 9 Up, 15 Down
— Rick Spielman, Vikings 9 Up, 24 Down

— Mickey Loomis, Saints 10 Up, 0 Down
— Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons 12 Up, 3 Down
— Dave Gettleman, Giants 5 Up, 0 Down

7) NFL schedule is usually out by now; think it isn’t being released for a couple more weeks, at least. Three things have to happen before I schedule my next vacation:
— get my two vaccine shots
— get my enhanced drivers’ license, so I can fly after October 1
— see the NFL schedule, so I can pick the right weekend to go.

Halloween is a Sunday this year; that weekend is the early favorite for a visit.

6) NBA teams that go over the total the most:
64.3%— Pelicans
59.6%— Pacers, Nets, Bucks
58.9%— Nuggets
55.4%— Kings

5) Last four times Giants’ backup catcher Curt Casali started, San Francisco pitchers tossed a shutout. Maybe he should play more.

4) This is Austin Barnes’ 7th year on the Los Angeles Dodgers; he has a secure job as the backup catcher- he also plays some other positions. Barnes has never batted more than 262 times in a season, but LA made the playoffs in all six of his major league seasons, so could be they see him as a good luck charm.

3) Weird fact of the day: Remember the old TV series Columbo, with Peter Falk? He wore a scruffy overcoat all the time, and didn’t seem all that smart, until the last 20 minutes of the show, when he solved the crime every week.

Anyway, in Budapest, Romania, there is a statue of Falk’s Columbo character on a street corner. No idea why, but saw a picture of it yesterday.

2) Washington DC has more people living there than live in either Vermont or Wyoming.

1) Got a message the other day that I’ve been on Twitter for 12 years; time flies when you’re having fun. I spend a ridiculous amount of time scrolling thru Twitter, but I’ve learned a lot there and much like this site, it is free. You can’t beat free. 

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

13) QB Alex Smith retired Monday, ending a 16-year career; he suffered a severely broken leg in 2018, wound up having 17 surgeries, had his life threatened by infection, but fought back and wound up starting six games for Washington LY, winning five of them.

All in all, Smith had a 99-67-1 record as a QB; he was the first player taken in the 2005 draft, after playing for Urban Meyer at Utah. He’s also the answer to a future trivia question; he was the Chiefs’ QB before Patrick Mahomes.

If you get a chance to see the film ESPN did on Smith’s recovery (Project 11) it is worth your time. It is stunning, all he went through so he could play football again. Very tough guy, this Alex Smith. I am hoping he goes on TV so we can learn from him. 

12) There isn’t enough “nice” in the world these days, but CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did a nice thing Monday night. This week is the 20th anniversary of Dr Sanjay Gupta working for CNN- they put together a highlight reel from the past 20 years of Dr Gupta on TV, and CNN showed it while Wolf Blitzer had him on the air Monday. It was pretty cool. 

Dr Gupta is an accomplished neurosurgeon; over the past year, I’ve learned a lot from listening to him on TV. He didn’t get a haircut until he got his vaccine; I haven’t had a haircut since last summer because of that— now I look like Albert Einstein 🙂

Good news is my first vaccine shot is Sunday. Then, thanks to Dr Gupta, I can get my haircut.

11) Tampa Bay Rays went 90-72 in 2018, then made the playoffs the last two years, so they’re doing great stuff with a very limited payroll- they made the World Series last year.

But they do some unusual things; they firmly believe that the starting pitcher shouldn’t face the opponents’ lineup more than twice. Last year, they took Blake Snell out of a World Series game when he was rolling; it went against the grain, it didn’t work and they got ripped for it.

Monday night in Kansas City, Josh Fleming had a 2-0 lead in the 6th inning- he had allowed only two baserunners, but when Whit Merrifield came up for his third AB, out came Kavin Cash and Fleming went to the showers. They have their philosophy, and they stick to it.

Tampa Bay’s bullpen held the lead last night, they improved to 9-8. Can’t argue with their results, but their tactics can make you shake your head.

10) In his first two starts, Washington’s Joe Ross threw 11 shutout innings, and one of those starts was against the Dodgers, so I sat down to watch him pitch last night, to see if I wanted to pick him up for my fantasy team. It didn’t go well.

Cardinals attacked Ross’s pitches like they were smashng a piñata; he gave up ten runs in 4.1 IP, as St Louis hammered the Nationals 12-5. Go figure.

9) Warriors 107, 76ers 96— Steph Curry made 10-17 3-pointers, scored 49 points, as he tries to carry the Warriors on his back to the playoffs.

8) Nuggets 139, Grizzlies 137, 2OT— Nikola Jokic scored 41 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, also had eight assists, as Denver improved to 37-20.

7) San Jose Sharks’ F Patrick Marleau played in his 1,768th career NHL game Monday night in Las Vegas, breaking the previous record, held by Gordie Howe. Anytime you break a record held by Gordie Howe, thats impressive.

6) Former Michigan quarterback Joe Milton will transfer to Tennessee; he’s going to graduate from Michigan next month, so he should be eligible to play this fall. Milton will have three years of eligibility left; he started five games LY, but was replaced near the end of the season.

5) Kind of an alarming stat: Roughly 40% of all college basketball players who enter Division I directly out of high school leave their initial school by the end of their sophomore year. This is a chaotic time for college coaches; you have to re-recruit all your players, every year.

I’m going to need a vacation in October to try and sort out who is playing where in college basketball next winter. Sounds like a good excuse to visit Las Vegas for the first time in two years.

4) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Mets-Reds-Dodgers. Wild Card: Giants-Brewers
AL: Red Sox-Royals-Mariners, Wild Card: Angels-A’s

3) Texas Rangers’ new ballpark appears to be a pitchers’ park; under is 7-2 in first nine games there this season. My question is this: did they make it a pitcher’s park on purpose?

Keep hearing how baseball wants more offense, then they build a pitchers’ park. Go figure.

2) Red Sox 11, White Sox 4— Patriots’ Day is a holiday in Boston; Red Sox have played at home every Patriots’ Day since 1959— the Boston Marathon is usually run that day (it’ll be in October this year). Red Sox play their annual Patriots’ Day game at 11am.

This year’s game was over by 11:30; first six Boston batters got hits, they all scored and they cruised to an 11-4 win over White Sox ace Lucas Giolito, who had an awful hour on the mound- he threw 46 pitches in the first inning.

All in all, the Red Sox are 71-53 on Patriots’ Day.

1) White Sox’ DH Yermin Mercedes pitched the 8th inning, making him the first White Sox player to DH and pitch in the same game since Adam LaRoche, on July 31, 2015. 

Here’s the thing: in both of those games, games played six years apart, the opposing starting pitcher was Nathan Eovaldi.

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

13) AL East standings:
10-6- Boston
8-8- Tampa Bay
7-9- Toronto
7-9- Baltimore
5-10- Bronx

Have to be some coaches in the Bronx who are queasy about their future employment; season is almost 10% over, and they’re scoring 3.67 runs/game.

For a team with an Opening Day payroll of $197,675,220, more is expected. 

12) Russell Brandt writes an interesting article about football on; this week he told a story about the day Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers. Very interesting stuff.

NFL teams grade all players before the draft and assign them grades, as to which round they should be drafted in. For the 2005, the Packers had 20 players with first round grades, and they had the 24th pick. If no first round players are available, teams would look to trade out of the first roumd. 

That year, when the 24th pick came around, only one player was available with a first round grade; Aaron Rodgers. Considering the Packers already had Brett Favre, this was a dilemma, but when no one called to ask about a trade, Green Bay drafted the player with the first round grade and things turned out pretty well.

11) NFL Draft is coming up in 10 days, so ESPN will obsess over that and the NBA and continue to ignore baseball, except on Sunday nights. Not sure why they do that, but they do.

10) I posted this yesterday:
Red Sox 7, White Sox 4:
— Boston wore bright yellow jerseys with light blue hats; they looked like a cross between UCLA and the Oakland Invaders of the old USFL. No idea what that was about, but if a team is known as the RED Sox, maybe they should have some red in there.

As it turns out, the jerseys represents the color scheme of the Boston Marathon, which is usually held on Patriots’ Day, which is today (Monday).

9) Mets 2, Rockies 1— Not sure what Colorado’s business plan is; they’re 4-12 this year, they dealt their biggest star (Nolan Arenado), will probably trade Trevor Story, their future isn’t very bright. Feel bad for manager Bud Black; he basically has zero chance to win with that roster.

Rockies have very good TV announcers; they’re going to spend lot of time pumping up Denver’s hosting the All-Star Game in July. Not much else to talk about.

8) In Denver, it is illegal to lend a vacuum to a next-door neighbor, but it’s perfectly okay to lend a vacuum to a friend down the street. No idea why, I’m just the messenger here.

7) This, from football expert Warren Sharp:
Over the last two years, the Cincinnati Bengals have held a lead at some point in 24 of their 32 games, but they won only six games of those 24 games. Not good.

6) Jay Bruce retired Sunday, ending his 14-year career in which he hit 319 homers.

5) They were talking about this on Sunday Night Baseball; over last decade, Cubs have developed only five pitchers who started a major league game, which is pretty bad. They made a priority of developing position players, and acquiring pitchers, via trades/free agency.

4) Indians 6, Reds 3— Shane Bieber is first pitcher ever to strike out 10+ guys in each of his first four starts of a season.

3) 47-year old Stewart Cink won the RBC Heritage golf tournament by four shots; his son was his caddy, which had to be cool.

Cink went 12 years without winning a PGA Tour event, before winning the Safeway Open last September; he had previously won this tournament twice, way back in 2000, 2004. Cink is also the fourth player to win twice in the same PGA Tour season after turning 47. 

2) Most walk-off wins, since the start of the 2018 season:
28— A’s
22– Blue Jays
20— Braves, Brewers

Monday’s Oakland-Minnesota game has already been postponed, because of the Twins’ COVID issues; a doubleheader is scheduled Tuesday. Twins-Angels didn’t play Saturday or Sunday. 

1) Braves 13, Cubs 4— Kyle Hendricks is first Cubs’ pitcher ever to give up four home runs in the first inning of a game. 

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

13) In 2008, a guy named Sean Kazmar played in 19 games for San Diego, going 8-39 at the plate in his proverbial cup of coffee. Making the major leagues is a very big deal, but unfortunately he didn’t stay very long.

But Sean Kazmar never gave up; he kept playing at the AAA level— all in all, he’s come to the plate 6,619 times in minor league games and Friday, at age 37, the Braves brought him back to the major leagues. He got into the game Saturday at Wrigley; what a thrill that had to be. 

12) Over his last five games, Steph Curry is 44-81 behind the arc, thats 54.3%. He’s scored 42.6 ppg in those games. This is an interesting argument, who is the greatest shooter in basketball history? Curry? Reggie Miller? Ray Allen? Rick Barry? Larry Bird? Klay Thompson?

I don’t have a strong opinion on this, but I do know that Steph Curry and the Warriors made shooting cool again— nowadays kids all over the country work their butts off on their shooting, which makes the game more fun to watch, because finding the open man and then making open shots is a lot of what makes basketball fun.

11) Cubs 13, Braves 4— Chicago was 5-11 with men in scoring position in this game; coming into the game, they had been 7-84 with RISP.

10) Dodger-Padre games this weekend have been unusually intense for April games; Dodgers pulled games out the last two nights, with a Road Runner/Wily Coyote feel to them. No matter what the Padres did, the Dodgers did better- they already lead the NL West by 4.5 games.

Friday night’s game got weird in extra innings:
— Once LA got ahead by three runs, San Diego brought in 2B Jake Cronenworth to pitch— he pitched some in college and the minors, but had never pitched in the majors. It was just weird, in such an intense setting, for them to wave the white flag like that.
— Pitcher David Price batted for LA and hit a sacrifice fly, his 2nd career RBI- he’s played almost his whole career in the American League.

— In Saturday’s game, Clayton Kershaw/Jurickson Profar exchanged words after a catchers’ interference call. No love lost between the two sides, but the Padres have a long ways to go before they’re at the Dodgers’ level.
— Mookie Betts made a GREAT diving catch in right-center field to end Saturday’s game; score would’ve been tied had he not made the catch.

9) Orel Hershiser was saying on the Dodger broadcast that he thinks the new extra-inning format will become a permanent thing. No inside info, just his opinion.

8) There is a high school in Tarpon Springs, FL where the school’s mascot is a “Sponger”, reflecting the town’s history of sponge diving— it is a guy wearing a big helmet, getting ready to go underwater to retrieve sponges.

7) Astros’ 1B Yuli Gurriel walked 12 times in 57 games last year; this year, he’s already walked 12 times in the Astros’ first 14 games.

6) In 1977, slugger Dave Kingman moved around a lot:
— 59 games for the Mets, hitting .209 with 9 homers.
— 56 games for the Padres, hitting .238 with 11 homers.
— 10 games for the Angels, going 7-36 with two homers.
— 8 games in the Bronx (4 of his 6 hits there were homers)

Back then, there were only four divisions in the major leagues, and Kingman played in all four of them that year. He was only on the Angels for ten days.

5) Red Sox 7, White Sox 4:
— Boston wore bright yellow jerseys with light blue hats; they looked like a cross between UCLA and the Oakland Invaders of the old USFL. No idea what that was about, but if a team is known as the RED Sox, maybe they should have some red in there.

4) White Sox are 6-8 under 76-year old Tony LaRussa; their bullpen has been a problem. 

If you bet the Pale Hose in the first five innings of every game, you’d be 9-1-4, but overall, they are only 6-8. Managing the bullpen is this generation’s Rubik’s Cube for big league managers.

3) Looked into watching some Japanese baseball on TV late at night, but only thing I could find was a streaming service that charges $28 a month. Um, no thanks.

2) Jacob deGrom became the sixth pitcher ever to strike out nine guys in a row, in the Mets’ 4-3 win over the Rockies in the first game of a twinbill Saturday in Denver. deGrom was supposed to pitch in Philly on Thursday, but that got rained out, then Friday’s game in Colorado got snowed out, so he had some distractions to deal with as well.

1) Before the Indiana Hoosiers hired Mike Woodson as their new basketball coach, they offered Celtics’ coach (and former Butler coach) Brad Stevens $70M for seven years, which he declined.

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

13) At the beginning of Bull Durham, Susan Sarandon is talking:

“…….Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball – now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake?”

Someone mentioned Milt Pappas on TV the other day, so I looked up his career— this guy is getting a bad rap.

— 17 years in the major leagues, won 209 games.
— pitched in three All-Star games
— was 45-25 the three years before the trade, 110-74 for his career at that time.

Now there’s no question it was an uneven trade, but not because Pappas was bad— guy had a damn good career. He threw a no-hitter for the Cubs in 1972. 

12) The other side of the coin is this; how on God’s green earth did the Reds trade Frank Robinson, for anyone? The year before they traded him, Robinson scored 109 runs, knocked in 113 more, and he was only 29 at the time. Why would they trade him?

Orioles won the World Series in 1966, the year after the trade, then played in the Series three years in a row, fro, 1969-71; their pitching rotation was stacked, with Palmer-McNally-Cuellar, Pat Dobson. Adding a great hitter made them a great team.

So call it a bad trade, but don’t blame Milt Pappas.

11) Giancarlo Stanton makes $29M a year, which works out to $179,012 per game; when he donated one of his game checks to the Players’ Alliance, that was a hefty donation.

10) I’m genuinely curious about this; how many major league managers actually decide who plays every day, and how many front offices decide that for them? Are off days for “rest” scripted in advance by the front office?

I mean, Stanton makes $29M a year to DH; there is no way he should he ever get a day off, unless they want to let Aaron Judge DH. Stanton could actually play the outfield, too. The way teams coddle these guys borders on the ridiculous.

9) Let’s take a look at another pitcher’s career, the White Sox’ Wilbur Wood:
— Wood was a lefty knuckleball pitcher.
— He was in the majors for nine years before he became a starter.
— From 1971-75, Wood started an incredible 224 games, that 44.8 starts/year.
— He once started both ends of a doubleheader.
— In 1972-73, he threw an incredible 736 innings.
— In 1973, he went 24-20 in 48 starts.
— He threw 114 complete games in his career.

8) Twins’ OF Max Kepler was born in Germany; his parents were both big-time ballet dancers. His mom is from Texas, his dad from Poland.

7) Dodgers’ OF Cody Bellinger has a hairline fracture of his fibula, is out for an undetermined amount of time.

6) Mets got rained out Thursday, snowed out Friday, will now play a doubleheader in Denver on Saturday; Mets have played only eight games, Braves have played 14, Phillies 13.

5) One of the great quotes I ever heard, from a coach to his team, after the second game of the season, in the coach’s first year in that job:

“Well, it didn’t take long for the rats to start jumping off the ship”

4) Was thinking the other day about the first time I heard that ESPN was going on the air; I was in college, someone told me an all-sports TV station was starting. I was intrigued.

In the early days, ESPN showed lot of Australian Rules Football, a ton of college basketball; they should go back to showing Aussie football. Their poker telecasts later on were also really good, way better than they babbling talking heads they have on now during weekday afternoons.

They should also have a nightly baseball show; why do they not have one?

3) Dwayne Wade is joining the ownership group of the Utah Jazz, which is the youngest ownership group in the NBA. Utah’s new owner is technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith- he bought the team late last year.

Wade played 16 years in the NBA, retiring two years ago.

2) Alabama’s football team has a pretty big recruiting edge; they’ve got three former NFL head coaches on their coaching staff. Not just Nick Saban, but Doug Marrone, Bill O’Brien, too.

1) RIP to the actor Felix Silla 84, who passed away this week; you’ve probably never heard of him, but he played Cousin Itt in the 60’s comedy The Addams Family, as well as other shows. 

In 1980, I had my wisdom teeth removed, and they made me stay overnight in the hospital; the guy in the next bed was watching Buck Rogers in the 25th Century with his mother. When they ran the credits to the show and I saw that Felix Silla was the robot in the show, I got all excited— “Hey, that was Cousin Itt!!!” 

The guy’s mom gave me a very strange look. Go figure.

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

13) Later this month, the NCAA is expected to approve a new rule, where players can transfer once, without sitting out a year— they’re not eligible if they’ve already transferred.

This is expected to cause chaos for a while, in both football/basketball; it’ll be just like baseball, rich teams poaching from the not-so-rich. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. 

12) Baylor just won the national championship in basketball; 54% of their points this season came from players who transferred into Baylor.

11) My fantasy baseball team is desperate for a catcher who can hit; Jorge Alfaro looks terrible, so I added Tucker Barnhart, but he platoons. One of three things needs to happen:

— I added Yermin Mercedes, the White Sox’ hitting prodigy who is supposedly a catcher but hasn’t caught in a big league game yet, so he isn’t eligible to use behind the plate until the White Sox put him there.
— Texas Rangers have a kid in the minors (Sam Huff) who can hit— he was 11-31 in a brief cameo in the majors last year, but right now he is getting more experience in the minors.
— Mariners’ utility guy Todd France is supposedly their emergency catcher; would be nice of Seattle had an emergency and let France catch for an inning or two.

10) 30 or so years ago, I spent 11 months of my life working as a court assistant in a county courthouse. Interesting experience; the best part were the actual trials. I would swear the witnesses in, keep an inventory of the evidence, all that stuff.

One thing I learned, and I heard this from more than one lawyer; in a criminal trial, if the defendant is innocent, he/she will testify. If they’re guilty, not so much.

9) Actually, the best part of that job was the first Friday of each month, the matrimonial conferences; only people present were the husband/wife, their lawyers, the judge, the court stenographer and me. 

Some funny stuff happened, but you’re sitting there out in the open- you’d better not laugh.

8) One rule I’d be in favor of; when the playoffs start, the highest-seeded team can choose which team they play in the first round of the playoffs. They used to do this in the G-League, we do it in our fantasy baseball league. Makes things a little more interesting, plus it would make for good television, when the teams announced their choices.

7) A’s 8, Detroit 4:
— Detroit pitchers walked 12 guys; they threw 51 pitches, just in the 6th inning.
— Thru six innings, Tiger pitchers threw 161 pitches, Oakland pitchers 82.

6) Few years ago in July, I’m sitting in a Las Vegas casino playing video poker, watching the Diamondbacks— their game goes 12 innings. At the same time, and this is a Friday night, the third round of the British Open is starting on the TV next to the baseball game. 

So at the same time, I’m watching a Friday night baseball game and Saturday morning golf. As if I wasn’t confused enough, then I hit a jackpot at video poker. Pretty good night.

5) Utah State hired Ryan Odom to be its new basketball coach, making the long move from UMBC; it is unusual in that Odom brings all three of his assistants with him to Logan. Usually, one of the three assistants would inherit the job Odom left behind, but UMBC hired the guy that was Penn State’s interim coach last year.

Odom went 29-17 in conference games in the three years since he upset Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, the only #1-#16 upset ever.

Utah State won 74 games the last three years; he is inheriting a good program in a league that hasn’t been getting better. Will be interesting to see how Richard Pitino/Kevin Kruger do in the Mountain West, having been hired at New Mexico/UNLV.

4) I read this on the Interweb, so it has to be true; French people sleep an average of 8.83 hours/day, more than any other country.

3) Washington Nationals are batting their pitcher 8th; this isn’t a good idea. Tony LaRussa started this near the end of his tenure in St Louis, so it gained credibility, and at one point, several teams tried it, but don’t think anyone ever did it in a playoff game, which would’ve been the ultimate endorsement.

Hopefully next year everyone will use the DH and this argument will be put to rest.

2) I was amusing myself the other night by looking thru, pricing hotels in Las Vegas during football season for this fall; I could really go for a chicken salad sandwich at the Carnegie Deli at The Mirage, especially with a Dr Brown’s soda.

Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

1) I’m getting my first vaccine shot April 25; it was supposed to be in a tent in a parking at the college I went to, but they’re moving the vaccine site to a mall a half-mile away. I’m thinking this is a good thing, don’t have to worry about the weather interrupting things.

But the vaccine site is right across the hall from the Apple store; this could get expensive. 

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

13) White Sox 8, Indians 0:
— Carlos Rodon throws a no-hitter, allowing a hit batter in 9th inning.
— Last two years, Rodon started only 11 games; lot of injury issues.

— Already 2nd no-hitter this year, both with no walks, but one hit batter. Before this year, that had happened only four times in the previous 100 years. 

12) Nationals 6, Cardinals 0— Yadier Molina is first player ever to catch 2,000+ games with the same team.

11) Coming into Wednesday’s games, major league batting average was only .235; last year it was .245, which was the lowest since 1972.

I’m thinking shifts will be outlawed next season; they want more offense in the game.

10) Near the end of last season, Angels’ SS Andrelton Simmons opted out of the season; he didn’t want to go into quarantine for the playoffs.

This year, now with Minnesota, Simmons opted not to get the vaccine.

This week, Simmons tested positive for COVID, so now he is in quarantine. Go figure.

9) Was weird seeing Blake Snell pitch for the Padres Tuesday night, throw 38 pitches and not finish the first inning. Teams are going to be very vigilant about monitoring pitch counts and inning counts this year, with last year having been a shortened season.

8) Minnesota rookie OF Alex Kirilloff is the first player ever whose first career hit came in a playoff game. He made his 2021 debut for the Twins yesterday.

7) Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes is the first pitcher in the last 100 years to strike out 30+ batters in his first three starts of a season, without walking anyone.

6) Cleveland’s Shane Bieber has allowed five runs in 21.1 IP, striking out 35 guys, but he doesn’t have any wins; Indians didn’t score a run in the first five innings of any of those three games.

5) Toronto 5, Bronx 4:
— New York is 2-1 when Cole pitches, 3-6 with any other starter.
— DH Stanton got another day off; why? Is being a DH that strenuous?
— Bo Bichette hit a walk-off homer in the 9th inning.

4) Red Sox swept a twinbill in Minnesota; they’re first team ever to start a season 0-3, then win 9+ games in a row. Twins scored total of three runs in the two games.

3) Mets 5, Phillies 1:
— David Peterson pitched a strong game for the Mets.
— Peterson’s father was a horse trainer; he trained Seattle Slew the year after that great horse won the Triple Crown— owners had fired Billy Turner, the previous trainer.

2) College basketball stuff:
— Arizona named Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd as their new coach.
— NC-Greensboro coach Wes Miller is now the Cincinnati coach.
— Joe Golding bolts from Abilene Christian to Texas-El Paso.

1) Gonzaga is a unique situation; they’re pretty much what UNLV was 30 years ago; I’m not sure a Pac-12 team hiring Mark Few’s right-hand man will translate well.
— Can he recruit top flight players to the desert?
— Can he recruit top flight players who will stay more than one year?
— Arizona has won  A LOT over the last 35 years; can he satisfy a spoiled fanbase?

College basketball is changing drastically; every kid who makes two layups in a row either wants to jump to to the NBA or to a better conference. Very difficult to develop continuity. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Dak Prescott got a 4-year, $160M contract from the Cowboys, which apparently includes a $1M incentive for winning a Super Bowl. $126M of that money is guaranteed.

Prescott has a 42-27 career W-L record in regular season, 1-2 in playoffs; he played in only five games last season, after he broke/dislocated his ankle. 

12) Here’s something you don’t see every day; Monday night, Milwaukee Brewers brought in a relief pitcher late in their game, but turns out the guy’s name wasn’t written on the lineup card, so he couldn’t pitch, and they had to quickly get someone else warmed up to enter the game.

You wouldn’t think stuff like that would happen in the major leagues.

11) Players who have had 3+-homer games for three different teams:
— Johnny Mize— StL, NYG, NYY
— Alex Rodriguez— Sea, Tex, NYY
— Dave Kingman— Cubs, NYM, A’s
— Mark Teizeira— Tex, Atl, NYY
— JD Martinez— Det, Ariz, Bos

10) Most pitches thrown in a game this season:
118– Johnny Cueto
113— Shane Bieber (last night)
112— Joe Musgrove (perfect game)
111— Lance Lynn
110– Trevor Bauer
105— Johnny Cueto

9) Longtime major league ump Joe West has been awarded $500,000 plus interest in damages in a defamation suit against former MLB catcher Paul LoDuca that was filed in October 2019.

There was a podcast where LoDuca accused reliever Billy Wagner of bribing West to get a bigger strike zone. He accused that Wagner let West use his 1957 vintage Chevrolet to make the strike zone change when he was up at bat.

Apparently, LoDuca lied in the podcast about how many times West has ejected him in his career; the judge who made the ruling raised the possibility that West will not be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame because of LoDuca’s statements.

West, by the way, was one of the umpires in the replay center Sunday night, when they missed a call on the Phillies scoring the winning run on a close play at home plate in the last inning.

8) Rangers 8, Rays 3— Texas breaks out for eight runs, after being shut out in three of their previous four games.

7) Red Sox 4, Twins 2— Boston wins its 7th game in a row on a snowy afternoon in Minnesota. Rafael Devers has hit five homers in his last four games.

6) Denver Nuggets’ star Jamal Murray tore his ACL, is out for the year, tough break for a Denver team that is 34-20, the #4-seed in the Western Conference.

5) Mets 4-4, Phillies 3-0: Big day for the Metropolitans, who swept a twinbill, holding the Phils to three runs total.

4) “I don’t know who that is. I know he’s going to be the owner. But I don’t know anything about baseball.”

Thats Timberwolves’ star rookie Anthony Edwards, talking about baseball Hall of Famer Alex Rodriguez, who will soon be a co-owner of Minnesota’s NBA team.

3) Former NFL running back Eddie George is the new football coach at Tennessee State; George played nine seasons in the NFL and ran for 10,441 yards, but he has never coached before.

George played for the Tennessee Titans, where his coach was Jeff Fisher, whose son Brandon is expected to be on the Tennessee State coaching staff.

2) Now that Chris Beard is the basketball coach at Texas, they’re going to poach players from teams all over the country. Longhorns poached kids from Utah/Kentucky on Tuesday, and also announced that Andrew Jones will be staying with the Longhorns next season.

1) Having trouble getting used to doubleheaders being 7-inning games; a game is 2-2 in fifth inning and you forget that this is a late-inning situation. You do the same thing for 60 years, it is difficult to shift gears and think in a different way. 

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

13) Maryland passed a sports betting bill Monday; the law will allow as many as 60 online operators and 30 retail sportsbooks between casinos, professional sports stadiums, small businesses and lot of other organizations.

They’re hoping to kick off sports betting in Maryland before football season season starts.

12) Warriors 116, Nuggets 107:
— Steph Curry scored 53 points, made 10-18 shots on the arc, 14-16 on foul line, even grabbed six rebounds. It is a pleasure to watch him play.

11) Chicago Cubs have two coaches on the COVID list, including their bullpen coach; they also put three relief pitchers on the list, for contact tracing.

10) Best fried chicken ever? Church’s Fried Chicken; I had it in South Carolina long time ago, very, very good. Church’s is also in Las Vegas; you should try it.

9) White Sox 4, Indians 3— Chicago is only MLB team that has scored 3+ runs in all of its games this season.

8) Ryan Odom leaves UMBC to become the new head coach at Utah State; Odom coached the only #16-seed to beat a #1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Odom replaces Craig Smith, who bolted to in-state rival Utah.

Ryan Odom is Dave Odom’s son; Dave Odom was Tim Duncan’s coach at Wake Forest.

7) Eastern Michigan hired alum Stan Heath as its new basketball coach; Heath was once a rising star in coaching, going from Kent State to Arkansas, but after going 43-24 his last two years with the Razorbacks, he made the strange career move of going to South Florida, which was in the Big East at the time. It didn’t go well.

Heath had been coaching the G-League the last few years.

6) Richest owner in the NFL is David Tepper, who owns the Carolina Panthers; he is worth $12B, that’s billion, with a B. He is a hedge fund manager.

Richest owner in the NBA is Steve Ballmer, who owns the Clippers; the guy is worth freakin’ $51B— can you imagine that? He used to be the CEO of Microsoft.

Only difference their bank accounts and ours are a lot of zeroes. A whole lot of zeroes, on the left side of the decimal point.

5) Wizards 125, Jazz 121— Russell Westbrook had 25 points, 14 rebounds, 14 assists in sparking the big upset. Game was 70-65 at the half.

4) Patriots’ WR Julian Edelman retired from the NFL; he had 6,822 receiving yards in his career, 1,442 more in playoff games. Not bad for a guy who played QB at Kent State.

3) Tigers 6, Astros 2— Detroit catchers hit five home runs in 58 games last year; they’ve already hit five in their first ten games this season.

2) Reds 3, Giants 0— Bullpens at Oracle Park in San Francisco are under the bleachers in right-center field now, instead of on the field down the foul lines, the way they used to be. The home run Jesse Winker hit in the third inning wouldn’t have been a home run before this season

1) Lot of baseball on tap today; doubleheaders in Philly, Baltimore. Marcus Stroman is starting one game for the Mets; he threw nine pitches Sunday before the game got rained out- pitching today probably gets him out of starting at Coors Field this weekend. 

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

13) Phillies 7, Braves 6— Brutal non-reversal by the replay guys in New York City, as Phillies scored winning run in top of the 9th. Replays clearly showed Alec Bohm never touched the plate when he slid, but after a review, the safe call wasn’t overturned. Not good.

They need to announce, before the game, who the replay umpires are in NYC, make them more accountable. Only time I’ve heard it spoken during a game was Gary Cohen did it on a Mets’ game once. 

12) Red Sox 14, Orioles 9:
— JD Martinez hit three homers, Rafael Devers hit two; Boston has won six in a row, after the Orioles swept them in Fenway to start the season.

11) Royals 4, White Sox 3 (10):
— Loss snaps Chicago’s 17-game win streak against lefty starting pitchers, one short of the record.
— Carlos Santana tied the game with a 9th-inning homer.

10) Arizona 7, Cincinnati 0:
— Luke Weaver had a no-hitter thru six innings.
— Eduardo Escobar has homered in four straight games.

9) In the major leagues, the home team controls whether a game starts or not; once the game starts, then the umpires run things.

Mets decided that it was OK to start their game Sunday, but it started pouring a few minutes later and the umpires stopped the game, which was later postponed, after only nine pitches.

Marcus Stroman is the Mets’ 2nd-best pitcher; he threw nine pitches, and now won’t pitch again until this weekend in Denver. This isn’t a good way to run a major league franchise.

For what it is worth, the game will be picked up from the spot where it stopped.

8) Seattle 8, Minnesota 6:
— Twins led 6-0 after five innings; Twins starter Matt Shoemaker got tossed in the 6th inning, for arguing balls/strikes while a batter who had homered off him circled the bases.
— Kyle Seager hit a 3-run homer in the ninth inning for the dramatic comeback win.

7) Baseball injuries:
— Dodgers put OF Cody Bellinger (calf) on IL
— Detroit put 1B Miguel Cabrera (biceps) on IL
— Angels lost OF Dexter Fowler (torn ACL) for the year.

6) White Sox DH Yermin Mercedes has 29 big league at-bats, but his batting gloves are already headed to the Hall of Fame. Mercedes had hits in his first eight AB’s this season, which is why his batting gloves will be in Cooperstown soon.

5) It is surprising how few major league catchers there are who can hit.

4) A’s/Astros had Sunday scheduled off; vert strange not to watch the A’s on a Sunday.

3) Hofstra named former NBA guard/Hofstra alum Speedy Claxton its new basketball coach; he’s been an assistant at Hofstra since 2013. Claxton played in the NBA for nine years.

2) Portland big guy Enes Kanter had 24 points, 30 rebounds in the Blazers’ 118-103 win over Detroit Saturday night. Portland was +19 in the 37:00 he played, -4 in the 11:00 he sat out.

1) Random but fairly amazing fact:
— Since 1969, Pittsburgh Steelers have had three head coaches. Three.
— Since 2004, Cleveland Browns have had eleven head coaches.

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) This is very random, because it is 2:50am and my mind is wandering, but think back to a Giants-Eagles game in 1978, November 19 to be exact.

Giants were 5-6, Eagles 6-5, both teams fighting to become playoff contenders. Giants led 14-0 early, 17-6 after three quarters- they led 17-13 and were killing the clock when QB Joe Pisarcik tried to handoff to a running back, but the exchange was fumbled, the Eagles ran the fumble in for the game-winning TD that propelled them to their first playoff game in 18 years.

This game was unusually relevant for many reasons:

— Teams didn’t take a knee back then; this game started teams taking a knee.
— This was the first of four straight playoff years for the Eagles; they won the NFC in 1980.
— Eagles’ DB who scored the winning TD? Herman Edwards.
— Guy who coached the Giants that day? John McVay, Sean McVay’s grandfather.

— John McVay was fired after that season, replaced by Ray Perkins. Perkins coached the Giants for four years, then replaced Bear Bryant as the coach at Alabama.
— Eagles’ coach that day was Dick Vermeil, who had gone 9-19 his first two years in Philly; this game was the turning point for his program.
— Vermeil left the Eagles after the ’82 season, went on TV for 14 years, then returned to the NFL with the Rams in 1997— he won the Super Bowl there, in his third season as head coach. 

You just wonder how many careers would’ve been different had that fumble never happened. 

Major league leaders after nine days:
12) batting average:
.556— Yermin Mercedes, CWS
.471— Ryan Zimmerman, Wsh
.462— Ketel Marte, Ariz
.458— Nelson Crux, Minn

11) runs scored:
11— Jose Altuve, Hst
10—  Mark Canha, A’s
9— Castellanos, Moustakas, Senzel, all on the Reds
8— Mike Trout LAA, Garrett Hampson Colo, Adam Eaton CWS

10) RBI’s::
14— Tyler Naquin Cin/Nate Lowe Tex
12— JD Martinez Bos
11— Kyle Tucker Hst, Jonathan India Cin

9) Mike Trout has been on base 22 of 39 times this season; he’s already walked 10 times.

8) Tampa Bay 4, New York 0— Why does Aaron Hicks bat third? He isn’t a good hitter. 

— he’s a career .234 hitter, .331 OB%. For his CAREER
— he’s hitting .147 this year.
— He’s hit more than 15 homers once in his career.
— You put this guy between Judge and Stanton in the lineup? Why?

7) Arizona 8, Cincinnati 3— Reds are fun to watch; they have some guys who can hit, not sure how good their infield defense is. Suarez should be playing third. They have lot of outfielders; not sure what happens when Akiyama comes off the IL.

6) Manager AJ Hinch got suspended for a year because of the Astros’ cheating thing, then he went to Detroit— the Astros didn’t hire him back after his suspension.

Alex Cora got suspended for a year for the same thing, but the Red Sox brought him back as manager after the suspension was up. Whats the difference?

5) Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore are teaming up to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA; Mr Lore used to be the CEO of Walmart eCommerce.

4) Candidate for Bad Beat of the Week: If you had A-Rod’s Timberwolves (+8.5) Friday night, you went to bed a bit queasy- they lost 145-136, in overtime to the Celtics in Boston.

3) Colorado Rockies’ OF Raimel Tapia walked Saturday, his first walk in his last 131 at-bats, which may explain why he got dropped from leadoff to the 6-spot in the order Saturday.

Tapia is hitting .258 this year, with a .281 on-base %age. That ain’t good enough to bat leadoff.

2) Marlins 3, Mets 0— Jacob deGrom has allowed one run in 14 IP this season, striking out 21 guys, but he doesn’t have a win, because the Mets usually don’t hit when he pitches. Guy is the best pitcher in baseball, with a 2.75 ERA, 1.05 WHIP in 184 career starts, but his record is only 70-51.

1) Happy 85th birthday to the great football coach John Madden, who became way more famous later on, as a TV analyst/pitch man. Had the pleasure of meeting coach Madden in St Louis in 1995, after a Rams’ game; good guy, very big guy, pretty much like he seems on TV.  

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

13) Padres 3, Texas 0:
— Joe Musgrove threw a no-hitter for San Diego.
— Padres have played 8,206 games; this was their first no-hitter.
— San Diego has thrown 30 one-hitters, been no-hit 10 times themselves.
— Only Texas baserunner was a hit batsman.
— Musgrove grew up in San Diego, is a lifelong Padre fan. 

12) Way back when, July 21, 1970; Padres were playing the Mets at home. San Diego’s 2nd year in the major leagues. Clay Kirby was throwing a no-hitter through 8 innings, but San Diego still trailed 1-0; they pinch-hit for Kirby in the bottom of the 8th (future Toronto manager Cito Gaston was the pinch-hitter).

The relief pitcher gave up two runs in the top of the 9th, Padres lost 3-0, but 51 years later, they finally get their first no-hitter.

11) Victor Caratini was San Diego’s catcher last night.

Last season, there were two no-hitters in the major leagues, Lucas Giolito for the White Sox, Alec Mills for the Cubs.

Catcher for Alec Mills’ no-hitter? Victor Caratini.

10) Seattle got four outs from newly acquired P James Paxton this season, before his arm blew out and now he needs Tommy John surgery and is out for the next year-plus.

9) 41-year old Rich Hill pitches for Tampa Bay: he’s had an interesting career:

2005-08— 18-17, 4.37 in 64 games (54 starts) for the Cubs.
2009— 3-3, 7.80 in 14 games (13 starts) for Baltimore
2010-12— allowed four runs in 31.2 total IP in relief, for Boston.
2013— allowed 30 runs in 38.2 IP in 63 relief stints for Cleveland.

2014— faced four batters for the Angels, didn’t get any of them out
2014— allowed one run in 5.1 IP in 14 relief stints for Bronx.
2015— 2-1, 1.55 in four starts for Boston
2016— 9-3, 2.25 in 14 starts for the A’s

2016-19— 30-16, 3.16 in 68 starts for the Dodgers
2020— 2-2, 3.03 in eight starts for Minnesota.
2021— Now he pitches for Tampa Bay. Quite a career.

8) Tejay Antone is a relief pitcher for the Reds; his father played football at Oklahoma, was on the Sooners’ 1975 national title team.

7) Cincinnati Bearcats fired basketball coach John Brannen Friday; this season a lot of players complained about the coach, some of them transferred and when you go 12-11 at a school that is used to winning, people aren’t very loyal.

Brannen went 32-21 in two years at Cincinnati, after going 81-51 in four years at Northern Kentucky.

I read a fairly long article about the situation, which didn’t name any specific complaints that the players had, other than Brannen had rules about what players could/couldn’t wear at team functions— stuff like that appears to have turned the players against him.

This season was probably lot harder on the players than we realize— they were basically alone all the time, even when they ate. Tensions ran high; apparently at Cincinnati, they boiled over.

6) Clippers’ defensive stalwart Patrick Beverley broke a bone in his left hand, had surgery on it, is out a minimum of 3-4 weeks.

5) Duncan Robinson is in his third year in the NBA, scoring 13.1 ppg for Miami; he’s scored 12.2 ppg in his pro career, is a career 42.5% shooter behind the arc. Not bad for a kid who played his freshman year of college at Division III Williams College.

He transferred from Williams to Michigan after one year; this almost never happens. D-3 basketball is good quality, but there is generally a huge gap in size/athletic ability between those levels. Kids in Division III are paying to go to college, plus they play ball.

Robinson actually scores more now than he did in college; he scored 9.3 ppg in three years at Michigan. Shooting is at a premium in the NBA, especially 6-7 guys who can shoot.

4) Hawks 120, Bulls 108:
— Chicago’s Zach LaVine scored 39 points in first half, but Chicago’s whole team was outscored 67-42 in the second half.
— Much-improved Atlanta has spurted since hiring Nate McMillan as its coach; they’re 28-25 and are the #5-seed in the East.

3) Dodgers 1, Nationals 0— Justin Turner’s 6th-inning homer was the only run, as LA won its home opener, and got its World Series rings, which are very large.

2) Angels 7, Toronto 1— Shohei Ohtani knocked in four runs for the 6-2 Angels.

1) A’s 6, Houston 2— Sean Manaea pitched six stellar innings, as Oakland got a much-needed win. Lowrie, Olson, Canha homered for the A’s. 

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

13a) Least shocking story of the month: After two seasons with Oklahoma State, assistant coach Cannen Cunningham and the program have mutually agreed to part ways.

Cannen Cunningham is Cade Cunningham’s brother; hiring Cannen and paying him a quarter million bucks is how Oklahoma State landed the best recruit in the country (Cade) last year. Now he is going to go help manage his younger brother’s career in the NBA. Go figure.

Where does the NCAA draw the line on stuff like this: can a recruit’s mother be hired as a secretary and be paid a six-figure salary? Could a sibling be hired as a personal trainer, at $125K a year? What is legal and what isn’t? Inquiring minds would like to know. 

13) Early Thursday morning I’m sound asleep when I hear these very loud noises just outside my bedroom window. Some kind of machinery, lot of people talking. Awesome.

Turns out the nice lady across the street was getting her driveway resurfaced. At 8:06am.

Three trucks, some kind of a steamroller, and 4-5 guys chopping away at the old driveway, before the new surface could get put down. Lot of loud noises, not a lot of sleep.

They finished around 3:00 in the afternoon. Driveway looks nice; just wish they had done it later in the day. 

12) Wednesday, Washington Nationals intentionally walked Freddie Freeman in both the first and second inning of their 7-6 loss to the Braves. I wondered how often that happens.

So I asked the great researcher Doug Kern on Twitter; turns out the last time that happened was in 2009, when Detroit walked Albert Pujols intentionally in both the 1st/2nd innings.

11) Hello friends, must be quite a week for Jim Nantz; college basketball national title game on Monday night, then off to Augusta for The Masters all weekend. Pretty good week.

I am told his backyard has a par-3 hole in it, but when is the guy ever home? He does NFL in the fall, golf in spring/summer, college basketball all winter. Its good to be him.

10) Mets 3, Marlins 2— Mets had bases loaded, two outs in 2-2 game, bottom of 9th, Miami pitcher throws a strike, Michael Conforto sticks his elbow out, lets the ball hit it and the Mets walk off with a controversial win.

None of the umpires had the onions to say Conforto let the ball hit him; Mets’ TV guys Keith Hernandez/Ron Darling even said he did. Play isn’t reviewable, which is embarrassing. Rule needs to be changed.

9) White Sox 6, Royals 0— Complete game for Lance Lynn, on 111 pitches. First CG of the young season; Chicago’s bullpen has been dismal so far- Tony LaRussa had to be glad to see this.

8) Shohei Ohtani won’t make his next start Sunday against Toronto; he has a blister on his pitching hand. Ohtani went 1-5 as the Angels’ DH Thursday night; he is hitting .280.

7) In 1969, when MLB first went to divisional play, they also added four expansion teams that year- Padres, Royals, Expos, Seattle Pilots. All four expansion teams won their first game that season. Expos are the Washington Nationals now; Pilots are the Milwaukee Brewers.

6) Rory Mcilroy shot +4 (76) in the first round of The Masters Thursday; not only that, on the 7th hole, he hit a shot that struck his dad on the leg. Not good.

5) Read Thursday that actor Don Johnson is re-booting his old TV show Nash Bridges for a run on USA Network, not sure if it is one movie or if it’ll be a series again. Nash Bridges ran on CBS from 1996-2001; Johnson played a San Francisco cop whose partner was played by Cheech Marin, who is also returning for the re-boot.

4) G-League’s Erie BayHawks are moving to Birmingham, AL next season.

3) Arizona State has already poached transfers this spring from Toledo, Boston College, Robert Morris; the kid from Toledo is Marreon Jackson- he scored 18.1 ppg, grabbed 6.1 rpg and dished out 5.9 assists/game. He is expected to be a big help for the Sun Devils, who had four players transfer out of Tempe after the season.

2) UCLA basketball coach Mick Cronin parlayed his Bruins’ run to the Final Four into a two-year contract extension.

1) Thursday would’ve been Catfish Hunter’s 75th birthday; he passed away in 1999, at age 53.

James Augustus Hunter was my boyhood hero; on his rookie baseball card, in 1965, they spelled his name wrong on the back (Tim, not Jim) and when 5-year old me saw that, I adopted him as my favorite player, prompting strange looks from my dad. In 1965, not many kids in upstate New York rooted for the Kansas City A’s.

Catfish Hunter won 233 career games, nine of them in the postseason; he threw a perfect game in 1968, and knocked in three of the four runs the A’s scored that game. He won five World Series rings and won inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. 

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

13) Arizona Wildcats finally fired basketball coach Sean Miller, who spent 12 years in Tucson, going 150-68 in Pac-12 games, 13-8 in NCAA tourney games, but 0-3 in Elite 8 games, last of which was in 2015. Things were not headed in an upward direction, though.

Miller’s program wound up getting overwhelmed by problems with the NCAA:
— Academic fraud.
— Impermissible benefits.
— Bribery.

Not good. Where does Arizona turn from here? There are four candidates who played ball for the Wildcats; one of these guys is likely to get the nod:

Luke Walton, Damon Stoudamire, Josh Pastner. Miles Simon

12) One of the amusing parts of these job searches is that guys at other schools wind up getting their contracts extended, so they won’t consider bolting town for greener pa$ture$. 

— Cal-Santa Barbara gave Joe Pasternack a 5-year contract extension.
— Maryland’s Mark Turgeon also got a 5-year extension.

11) Its hard to win at gambling:
— A’s 4, Dodgers 3 (10)— A’s were 0-6, looked terrible, so of course they win the game when Trevor Bauer starts against them. Go figure.
— Rangers 2, Blue Jays 1— Kyle Gibson didn’t get out of the first inning in his first start; he blanked Toronto for six innings here, which makes no sense.

10) I’m not a big fan of the new extra inning system, where the inning starts with a guy on 2nd base, but seeing how the A’s are 7-0 in extra innings this year and last, maybe I should be.

9) Braves were 0-4, then they swept a twinbill in Washington Wednesday; Huascar Ynoa tossed five shutout innings for Atlanta in the nightcap.

8) If one of the pitchers on your fantasy team is pitching and you see Jerry Layne is umping the plate, the next couple of hours might be fun. His strike zone is……..wide.

7) Cardinals’ pitcher Génesis Cabrera wears number 92; he is the first major leaguer EVER to wear #92 in a regular season game.

6) Mariners 8, White Sox 4— Seattle pitcher Justin Dunn allowed only one hit in 4.2 IP, but he also walked eight guys— he threw 48 strikes, 45 balls, allowed three runs.

Here are some of the better survey answers we got on the question:
What would you serve if you hosted The Masters champions’ dinner?

5) Pete from Rome (NY, not Italy)— Baked lasagna or baked ziti. Messy, but good.

4) Mr Dodger has  an extensive menu:
— Appetizer: Buffalo chicken wings, Waldorf salad.
— Entree: New York strip steak
— Vegetable: green beans Almondine
— Dessert: New York cheesecake
— Wines from the Fingerlakes Region, craft beer from the Albany area.

3) G-squared— 16-ounce New York strip steak, with baked potatoes. Vegetatians can go back to the fairway and graze. 🙂

2) Billy C— Surf and turf!!!

1) Hoosier Mike:
— Home Run frozen pizza
— Pistachio pudding
— Fillet steak
— Mashed potatoes
— String beans/carrots mixed
— Hot bread rolls
— Ben and Jerry’s ice cream

0) Armadillo:
— pasta and meatballs
— cheesecake for dessert