Tuesday’s Den: Some thoughts about movies…….

It is 3am, I don’t feel like going to bed, so I’m going to rattle on about movies for a while.

These are my opinions, so they’re neither right/wrong, just what I think. Make your own lists, it was fun to clear out the cobwebs in my mind and think of some old stuff.

13) Movies I think I’ve seen the most (wish I had an official count)

— Moneyball- Hey, I’m an A’s fam
— Rounders- Great movie.
— A Star is Born- First hour is great, second hour very sad.
— Last Vegas- An epic cast.
— Blue Chips- My all-time favorite basketball movie.

Guys who played basketball in Blue Chips who later became coaches:
— Anfernee Hardaway
— Bobby Hurley
— Rex Walters
— Matt Painter

I am unusual (you call it odd, I say unusual) in that I see movies I like dozens of times, maybe more, but I’ve never seen Star Wars and I only saw the Godfather for first time couple years ago.

12) Other movies I’ve seen an awful lot
— Major League- Bob Uecker should’ve won an Oscar for his role.
— Molly’s Game- True story about a woman who ran underground poker games.
— Begin Again- If you like music, this is a good one to see.
— Dave- Kevin Kline becomes a stand-in for the US President.
— For Love of the Game- A 40-year pitcher makes his last game his best one.

As soon as these lists get posted, I’m going to think of 3-4 movies I forgot, and I’m going to be so annoyed at myself.

11) This all started when someone on Twitter posted a thing: “Name the five movies you’ve seen the most” which started my mind running and also a lot of other people. The thread is fun to go through; people like so many different things, it is what makes our country so interesting, we live in the same place but like totally different things.

10) When I was a teenager, I was a big fan of stand-up comics and my favorite was Steve Martin. I have one of his comedy albums (Let’s Get Small) but he also became a really good actor. My three favorite Steve Martin movies:
— Leap of Faith
— Shopgirl
— Roxanne

The scene in Roxanne where he makes up 20 jokes about his nose (actually 26, count them!!!) makes my list of favorite movie scenes ever.

9) The first time I saw Caddyshack was with friends from college; it was the first time I realized that some people watch the same movies over and over, and drink when certain key words are spoken. My friends were avid golfers; they freakin’ loved Caddyshack.

8) Good movies that wound up being pretty sad:
— Less than Zero- Three high school friends have very different experiences after they graduate from high school.
— A Star is Born- Movie has been made four different times, dating back to the 1930’s.
— Beaches- When I saw this movie in the theater with my future ex-wife, when it ended, you could hear dozens and dozens of people openly sobbing. The right sleeve of my short sleeve shirt was soaked from her crying and wiping her eyes with my shirt. Oy.

7) My favorite basketball movies:
— Blue Chips— The scene with Bob Cousy/Nick Nolte shooting foul shots in an empty gym is my all-time favorite movie scene.
— The Way Back— Relatively new movie has Ben Affleck playing a high school coach with a drinking problem. The basketball scenes are really well done.
— Fast Break— Gabe Kaplan quits his job running a deli in New York City to become a college basketball coach in Nevada.
— Hoosiers— Gene Hackman was a terrible coach, but Jimmy Chitwood played, so they always won. I mean, even the drunk assistant coach knew Jimmy should shoot just about all the time.
— He Got Game— Underrated movie about a hot-shot high school recruit and what people will do to get the kid to play for their college. Jim Brown, Denzel Washington, Ned Beatty, a really good cast, plus Ray Allen/Rick Fox have big rules.
— One on One— Robby Benson is a hotshot basketball recruit who falls out of favor with his new coach.

Guy who was only in one scene was John Turturro, who played Joey Knish in Rounders; he plays the coach at Big State, a college recruiting Ray Allen’s character (Jesus Shuttlesworth)

6) On my bucket list of life is to watch the movie Let It Ride with my cousin KL Wheat, who likes to wager on the ponies. Richard Dreyfuss plays a degenerate gambler who has one really great day at the racetrack. Very funny movie.

Jennifer Tilly is in this movie; she wound up being a big-time poker player; her boyfriend is/was Phil Laak, a pro poker player known as the Unabomber.

5) My favorite football movies:
— Any Given Sunday— Al Pacino delivers two great speeches
—The Replacements— Daniel Snyder should rename his NFL team the Sentinels.
— Brian’s Song— True story about two friends who played for the Bears.
— Necessary Roughness— Movie about the Texas State Armadillos; tremendous!!!
— Heaven Can Wait— Not really a football film, but the Rams win the Super Bowl in the movie, and it is possible I still have a movie poster from the theater here in my house.

4) I’ve spent way too much time trying to decide which movie I like better; Major League or Bull Durham? Both really good, but for different reasons. Ask me on Monday, I’ll give you an answer, but ask me three days later, and I’ve probably changed my mind.

3) If you like music……..
— Begin Again— A down on his luck music exec finds a young talent in a Manhattan bar.
— A Star Is Born— The new version with Lady Gaga is lot different than the 1976 one with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.
— The Bodyguard— Whitney Houston was a great talent; didn’t realize she was only 48 when she passed away.

2) Gambling related movies:
— Rounders— Matt Damon has to decide between law school and playing poker.
— Lucky You— Lot of real-life poker stars in this one, which is set in Las Vegas. Robert Duvall plays the Doyle Brunson-type character.
— Let It Ride— We’ve already talked about this one.
— Molly’s Game— This movie is actually a continuation of the book Molly Bloom wrote.

1) Favorite baseball movies:
— Moneyball— I’m an A’s fan, what did you expect?
— The Rookie— Dennis Quaid was in this and Any Given Sunday
— Major League/Bull Durham
— For Love of the Game
— Bad News Bears— Walter Matthau as a Little League coach was classic.
— Little Big League— The mom in this movie? In real life, her son was the Mets’ first round draft pick last summer.
— The Natural— When a guy on the Texas Rangers hits a home run, they play the song from the end of this movie, when Roy Hobbs sends everyone home happy.

Make your own list of movies, see what you come up with. 

Saturday’s Den: SEC football knowledge

— Crimson Tide hasn’t been underdog in a game since 2015
— Last six years, covering 85 games, Alabama is +68 in turnovers.
— Alabama is 54-35-1 ATS in last 90 SEC games, 23-25-1 in last 49 non-league tilts.

— Last six years, Arkansas is 8-12 ATS as a home favorite.
— Since 2012, Razorbacks are 13-24 ATS in game coming off a win.
— Arkansas is 11-35 SU last four years; their last bowl was 2016.

— Since 2014, Auburn is 19-33-1 ATS in game coming off a SU win.
— Since 2015, Tigers are 9-5-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— Auburn lost four of last five bowls, giving up 31+ points in all four losses.

— Dan Mullen is 32-22-1 ATS as a home favorite, 7-3 SU in bowls
— At Florida, Mullen is 15-10-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Gators have a freshman QB Jalen Kitna, son of former NFL QB Jon Kitna.

— Last four years, Dawgs are 44-9 SU; they won 4 of last 6 bowls.
— Last ten years, Georgia is 23-14 ATS as a road favorite.
— Last four years, Dawgs are 26-16 ATS in game coming off a win.

— Favorites are 27-15-2 ATS in Kentucky home games in the Stoops era.
— Wildcats are 15-8 in last 23 games as a home favorite, 7-12-2 as a home dog.
— Since 2012, Kentucky is 19-31-3 ATS in game coming off a loss.

— Under Orgeron, LSU is 7-0 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last 10 years, LSU is 17-9 ATS in games coming off a loss.
— LSU won its last three bowls, scoring 40-63-42 points.

Ole Miss
— Lane Kiffin is 1-8 ATS as a home underdog, 13-5-1 as a road dog.
— Last four years, Ole Miss is 2-8 ATS as a home underdog.
— Rebels won 4 of last 5 bowls (favorites 4-1 ATS)

Mississippi State
— Mike Leach is 90-72 ATS in league games, 31-38-2 out of conference.
— Underdogs covered Miss State’s last five bowls.
— Bulldogs are 3-8 ATS in last 11 home games.

— Last three years, Mizzou is 9-5 ATS as a home favorite.
— Tigers have 88 returning starts on the offensive line; that’s good.
— Since 2015, Mizzou is 5-11 ATS as a road underdog.

South Carolina
— Last three years, Gamecocks are 3-8 ATS as a home underdog.
— Carolina has 4 starters back (84 starts) on the offensive line.
— Gamecocks have only 3 scholarship QB’s on the roster.

— Vols are 12-22 ATS in last 34 home games, since 2017, they’re 5-10 ATS as home favorites.
— Last 10 years, Tennessee is 19-34-1 ATS in games coming off a win.
— Good news; Vols won last four bowls; they have QB’s transferring in from Va Tech/Michigan.

Texas A&M
— Last three years, Aggies are 6-0 ATS as a road favorite.
— Jimbo Fisher is 8-2 SU in bowls, 33-18 ATS in non-conference games.
— Aggies covered 14 of last 21 games coming off a SU win.

— Last four years, Vandy is 3-12 ATS as a home underdog.
— Vandy gave up 41-45 points in last two bowls; their last bowl win was 2013.
— The new coach was a walk-on FB at Vandy; his last job was DC at Notre Dame. Both the coordinators come to Vandy from NFL jobs. 

Friday’s Den: College football coaching changes for this year

College football coaching changes for 2021:
— First-time head coach Jedd Fisch is a longtime offensive coordinator.
— Arizona hired alums Ricky Hunley, Chuck Cecil as assistant coaches/defense.
— Wildcats went 0-5 LY, losing 70-7 to rival Arizona State; they gave up 39.8 ppg. .

Arkansas State
— Butch Jones went 50-27 at Central Michigan/Cincinnati, but went 14-24 in SEC games while at Tennessee. After three years working for Nick Saban, Jones is a head coach again.
— Previous coach bolted to Utah State, after Red Wolves had first losing season since 2010.
— ASU threw ball for 384.4 yards/game LY, #2 in country.

— Previous coach Malzahn went 68-35 at Auburn, 39-27 in SEC, got told to take a hike.
— When you go 39-27 in SEC games and still get fired, expectations are high.
— Bryan Harsin comes from Boise State, where he was 69-19, 45-8 in Mountain West.
— Auburn opponents converted 50.3% of their 3rd down plays LY. Not good.

Boise State
— First-time head coach Andy Avalos was defensive coordinator at Oregon.
— Avalos is a Boise alum, like every Boise HC since 1998.
— Last four years, Boise is 27-2 in Mountain West
— Last three years, Broncos are only 7-6 outside Mountain West.

— Previous HC went 20-10 last three years, won two bowls, bolted to Kansas.
— First-time HC is 35 years old, was Dallas Cowboys’ cornerbacks’ coach LY
— Buffalo went 6-1 LY, scored 43.4 ppg, lost MAC title game, but won bowl.

Central Florida
— Previous coach bolted to Tennessee; UCF hired former Auburn coach Malzahn.
— Malzahn was 39-27 in SEC games at Auburn, but coaching Auburn during the Saban era at Alabama hasn’t been good for job security.
— Knights scored 42.2 ppg LY but went 6-4; the defense needs work.
— QB Gabriel has thrown for 7,223 yards in two seasons.

— Illini hasn’t had a winning season since 2011.
— Bielema was 68-24 at Wisconsin, but was 11-29 in SEC games at Arkansas.
— QB Peters is 6th-year college player; he started here last two years. He figures to hand off a lot this season; Bielema prefers to run the ball a lot.

— Leipold won six D-3 national titles, went 24-10 his last three years at Buffalo.
— Leipold was hired the day before Kansas’ spring game, which was awkward.
— Jayhawks haven’t been to a bowl game since 2008.
— Kansas will try to run ball well, to keep their defense off the field.

— 64-year old HC Terry Bowden spent last two years as a Clemson assistant.
— Former Arizona/Michigan HC Rich Rodriguez is the new OC- his son is the QB.
— Nine of their 10 losses LY were by double digits; this is a total rebuild.

— Previous coach was 85-54 but got fired; the governor of West Virginia didn’t like him.
— When you go 55-30 in conference games and still get fired, expectations are high.
— New coach Huff has been NFL/college assistant for 16 years, last two at Alabama.
— Huff kept the same offensive coordinator, has 9 starters back on offense.

South Alabama
— New HC Wommack was an assistant at Indiana during their turnaround.
— QB Jake Bentley has 8,409 passing yards, playing for South Carolina/Utah.
— Major Applewhite is the new OC; they’ll throw more vertical passes.
— Jaguars haven’t been to a bowl since 2016.

South Carolina
— New HC Beamer is son of former Va Tech coach Frank Beamer.
— Gamecocks went 2-8 LY, giving up 41+ points in five of last six games.
— South Carolina has only 9 starters back; 5 on offense, 4 on defense.
— No returning WR had more than 11 catches last season.

Southern Mississippi
— Golden Eagles had three different head coaches, just last year.
— New HC Hall was OC at Tulane; he’ll be his own OC here.
— RB Frank Gore Jr ran for 708 yards LY; his dad is still active in the NFL.
— Southern Miss has 10 starters back on offense.

— New coach Heupel comes from UCF, with new AD White.
— NCAA is investigating, which usually screws up recruiting for a while.
— Tennessee hasn’t been to a bowl since 2016- last year was their worst record in 97 years.
— Heupel is an offensive guru, but this turnaround will take a while.

— Tom Herman went 32-18 in four years, 22-13 in Big X games, got the ax anyway.
— Rival Oklahoma has won six consecutive Big X titles; Texas boosters don’t like Oklahoma.
— Longhorns were 7-3 LY, will be breaking in a new QB this year.
— New coach Sarkisian was fired at USC for showing up drunk, but he knows Nick Saban, so he gets another head coaching job.

Utah State
— New HC Anderson led Arkansas State to 6 bowls in 7 years.
— Utah State has regressed since scoring 47.5 ppg in 2018.
— Aggies went 1-5 LY, scoring 10.4 ppg in the losses.
— Utah State has 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.

— New coach Clark Lee is a Vanderbilt alum.
— Commodores get three guys on OL back who opted out of last year.
— Vandy allowed 38+ points in seven of nine games LY.
— QB Seals completed 64.6% of his passes LY, so they’re good there. 

Monday’s Den: Random stuff, and Mountain West football knowledge

Hawks 103, 76ers 96:
— Atlanta won despite Trae Young going 5-23 from the floor.
— Kevin Huerter (from suburban Albany) scored 27 points.
— Embiid scored 31 points, had 11 rebounds on a bum leg; he was a warrior in this series.

Suns 120, Clippers 114:
— Devin Booker scored 40 for Phoenix.
— Clippers are down 1-0 for third series in a row.
— Suns were +18 in the 14:00 Torrey Craig played.
— Clippers have played every other day since June 2nd.

Nationals 5, Mets 2:
— Kyle Schwarber homered three times, has 5 homers in last two games.

Brewers 7, Rockies 6:
— Colorado hit four homers in the 6th inning, erasing a 6-0 deficit, but those were the only runs they scored. Daniel Vogelbach knocked in the winning run in the 9th inning.

New York 2, A’s 1:
— Game ended with Sean Murphy grounding into a triple play on a 2-0 pitch, after the first two batters of the inning had walked.

Mariners 6, Rays 2 (10):
— Shed Long hit a walk-off grand slam in 10th inning.
— Rays lost their last six games.
— Tampa Bay is calling up its #1 prospect Wander Franco Tuesday.

Why do teams shift against everyone? Reds shifted against San Diego C Victor Caratini Sunday, like he was Reggie Jackson or Dave Winfield— the guy is batting .219.

Caratini sticks his bat out, hits a soft ground ball to shortstop, but problem is, the shortstop isn’t there, because the Reds shift against everyone. Caratini is hitting .219; the over-educated imbeciles who run some of these front offices justify their existence by shifting way too much.

Mountain West football knowledge:
Air Force
— Five new offensive linemen and a new QB; lot of questions on offense.
— Falcons have a new special teams coach; last guy was there 10 years.
— 3 starters back on offense, 1 on defense.

Boise State
— LY’s coach bolted to Auburn; the new coach was a defensive coordinator.
— Boise was 115th in country LY in rushing yardage; no bueno.
— 8 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.

Colorado State
— Rams played only four games LY; they want to run the ball more.
— State had five punts/kicks returned for TD’s last season; not good.
— 9 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.

Fresno State
— Bulldogs scored 30+ ppg, for third year in a row.
— Fresno gave up 212 rushing yards, 30 points/game LY.
— 9 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.

— Coach Graham’s son is the QB this season.
— Their kicker was only 2-7 on FG’s of 40+ yards LY.
— 7 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

— QB Strong threw 27 TD passes, only four INT’s last year.
— Wolf Pack brought in three D-I transfers for their secondary.
— 9 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

— Rebels recruited well last two years, also brought in some transfers.
— 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— When your season win total is 1.5 wins, expectations aren’t high.

New Mexico
— New QB Wilson started 25 games for Kentucky; he’s pretty good.
— Lobos couldn’t play at home LY, so getting back home should be fun.
— 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.

San Diego State
— Aztecs threw only six TD passes LY, were 115th in passing yardage.
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— San Diego State is temporarily playing home games 115 miles from campus.

San Jose State
— Spartans came out of nowhere to win league title LY, but lost their bowl game.
— San Jose’s QB Starkel will be protected by an OL with 91 returning starts.
— 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.

Utah State
— New coach Anderson’s Arkansas State team threw for 364.4 ypg LY.
— Aggies gave up 34+ points in five of six games LY.
— 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.

— Cowboys completed less than half their passes the last three years.
— Wyoming returns its top 10 tacklers from last season.
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings and Big 14 football knowledge

Nets 114, Bucks 108:
— Milwaukee was up 16 points at the half.
— Durant scored 49 points, had 17 rebounds, 10 assists.
— James Harden wasn’t expected to play, but played 46:00.
— Brooklyn leads series 3-2.

— Bad news for the Tampa Bay Rays; ace P Tyler Glasnow has a partial tear in his right UCL; team isn’t sure if surgery will be needed.

— Oakland A’s announced that manager Bob Melvin will back next year, which will be his 12th year managing in Oakland. He’s a very, very good manager.

— Royals’ OF Jorge Soler has already reached base on catcher’s interference six times this year; the record is 12, set by Jacoby Ellsbury five years ago.

— CFL announced that their 14-game season will start August 5; the Grey Cup game will be played December 12, in Hamilton.

Mets 3, Cubs 2
— Mets threw tying run out at plate in 9th inning, on great relay from CF.
— Cubs’ 3B Kris Bryant left game after he was hit on hand by a pitch.

Giants 9, Diamondbacks 8:
— Arizona led this game 7-0 in 2nd inning, 8-3 after five.
— Mike Yastzremski hit a grand slam in the 8th inning.
— Arizona has lost 12 in row overall, 21 in row on the road.

Notes on Big 14 football teams:
— Former Wisconsin/Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is new HC.
— 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Illinois’ last winning season was in 2011.

— Went 6-2 LY, gave the coach a raise to $4.9M a year.
— Last two years, Hoosiers are 15-5 against the spread.
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

— Lost first two games 24-20/21-20 LY, then won last six games.
— Hawkeyes will have 3 new starters on OL this fall.
— 6 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.

— Locksley is 8-43 as a head coach, 6-17 at Maryland.
— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Former Florida HC Ron Zook will coach special teams.

— Gave up 34.5 ppg LY, fired the DC.
— Wolverines will have another new starting QB this year.
— 7 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.

Michigan State
— Spartans brought in 20 transfers this season.
— QB Anthony Russo started 26 games at Temple.
— 6 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.

— 10 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Gave up 207.1 rushing yards/game LY (#102)
— Gophers poached kicker from Kent State to help their special teams.

— Went 3-5 LY, with a minus-11 turnover ratio.

— Cornhuskers have five 6th-year seniors on their defense.
— 6 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.

— Played in Big 14 title game LY, beat Auburn in their bowl.
— only 4 starters back on offense, 5 on defense this year.
— Lost their QB and top four WR’s from last season.

Ohio State
— Ryan Day is 23-2 SU coaching the Buckeyes.
— OSU has 6 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Buckeyes don’t have a QB who has a thrown a college pass.

Penn State
— Started 0-5 LY, won last four games; were minus-7 in turnovers.
— Gave up 27.7 ppg LY, most in school history. 
— 9 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.

— Went 6-12 SU the last two seasons.
— ranked 124th in country in rushing LY (81.5 ypg)
— 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.

— Hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2014.
— K-State transfer Youngblood ran three kicks back for TD’s in 2019.
— 10 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.

— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Ranked 103rd in country in yards/game LY.
— Last time Badgers didn’t go bowling; 2001. 

Monday’s Den: Hard to believe its been 20 years already. Happy Armadillo Day

Hard to believe, but 20 years ago today, this website got its start; time flies when you’re having fun, and this has (mostly) been fun.

I’d like to thank all of you for reading this space (I’m hoping someone is out there reading)

I’ve had the pleasure of learning from a lot of smart people over the years; hopefully I’ve passed some of that knowledge on to you. Lot of what is posted here is trivial, but trivia can be fun. If it makes you smile or makes you think, then it is useful trivia.

— Random joke from comedian Rip Taylor: “The economy is so bad, even the price of down is up”

— A coach rips into one of his players, who dislikes the coach: “You’re playing lousy because you’re ignorant and apathetic!!!!” Kid looks at the coach, shrugs and says, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Someday I’ll do a big thing thanking everyone who has helped me, but right now it is really late and I would leave someone out and that would make me sick, so I’ll do it another day. Just know that I appreciate what I’ve learned from those of you who I’ve met.

One of the things I believe is that certain people come into our lives for a reason; we may not know it at the time, but eventually we do. They may even be cruddy people, but we learn from them too and we use that knowledge to make ourselves better.

I’ve made several new friends because of this site; you never have enough good friends.

So much has happened since 2001; now isn’t the time to look back, its time to look ahead, to try and figure out what’s going to be happening in the coming months.

— Baseball is going to look a lot different next year. Will be lot of new rules; eventually, they will add two expansion teams, maybe the A’s/Rays will also move.

Hopefully, everyone will use the DH next year, and 7-inning doubleheaders will go away; I’m not too opinionated on the other potential rule changes— oh yeah, no robot umps either.

— NFL teams will play 17 games this season for the first time; eventually, they’ll play 18, with the Super Bowl on Presidents Day weekend.

— College football will expand to an 8-team or 12-team playoff; too much money involved for them to say no to that.

— College basketball is undergoing a huge change right now, not necessarily for the better. I am hoping that soon kids can go right from high school to the NBA, which might reduce the amount of roster-hopping that is happening at a ridiculously high pace right now.

Random odd stat: NFL went to the 16-game schedule in 1978. Since, the QB who has started all 16 games for his team and thrown the fewest TD passes?

In 1995, Trent Dilfer started 16 games for Tampa Bay, but threw only four TD passes all season for the 7-9 Buccaneers, who were 5-2 in games decided by 7 or fewer points. Five years later, Dilfer won the Super Bowl starting for the Baltimore Ravens. Go figure.

Suns 125, Nuggets 118— Phoenix is in playoffs for first time in a decade; they sweep Denver here, advance to the Western Conference final.

Bucks 107, Nets 96— Kyrie Irving hurt his ankle, Bucks evened series 2-2.

— Guy named Garrick Higgo (played college golf at UNLV) was six shots down when he began play Sunday, but the leaders stumbled, and Higgo won his first PGA Tour event, in only his second try. He’s also won twice on the European Tour in the Canary Islands. Higgo is only 22 years old; he is a lefty golfer from South Africa.

— Former Colorado QB Sam Noyer, a 2nd-team Pac-12 guy last year, is transferring to Oregon State, because every QB who doesn’t start seems to transfer to somewhere where he will start. Unusual for a QB to transfer within the conference, though.

Toronto 18, Boston 4— Blue Jays hit eight home runs.

If the playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Mets/Cubs or Brewers/Giants. Wild Card: Chi/Mil @ Dodgers
AL: Rays, White Sox, A’s. Wild Card: Houston @ Boston

Today we start the next 20 years, hopefully filled with laughter and good health for everyone. Thanks again for reading.

Happy Armadillo Day, and happy birthday to my friend Big Dawg, who celebrates a birthday today. He is a smart, funny man; don’t believe me?

Before my ill-fated marriage way back in 1992, Big Dawg comes up to me at work, and in front of several other people says: “Don’t spend too much time with her. Remember, she’s only your first wife.”

Then he walks away. Oy. Happy birthday, Big Dawg!!!!

Sunday’s Den: Mixing in some baseball with Big X football knowledge

Someday, someone will explain to me why teams bat their pitcher 8th; it makes zero sense to me. Hopefully next year, everyone will use the DH so this will be a moot point, but it still kind of bugs me that in a multi-billion dollar business, things are done for no apparent reason.

10-12 years ago, Tony LaRussa batted the pitcher 8th in St Louis, and people assumed that since he did it, it was a good idea. No one has done it in a playoff game, which is the truest tell; it seems like a useless gimmick, something to yak about.

I’m convinced that Joe Maddon sometimes does things just to mess with people; he has batted the pitcher 8th too. What do you say to a position player when you bat him behind a pitcher?

Texas Rangers’ TV crew is very good; Dave Raymond/CJ Nitkowski or David Murphy. They talk calmly about the game, they’re good natured, they give the other team credit if it is due. Easy to listen to.

Overall, the quality of local TV baseball telecasts has gone downhill; lot of homerism, and not the funny Harry Caray-type. More the “we can’t say anything bad, ever” kind.

Good news on the TV front; Showtime announced that the series Billions will have new episodes on the air, starting September 5. Billions was airing its fifth season of shows when the pandemic shut everything down; think they’ve the filmed the seven episodes from season 5 that were already written, but never got filmed before the pandemic. Excellent show, worth watching.

Mets 4, Padres 1— Mets allowed 3 or fewer runs in their last 11 home games, their best such streak since 1968, when Seaver/Koosman worked in Queens.

Cubs 7, Cardinals 2:
— St Louis starter Gant faced 11 hitters, gave up 5 walks and a homer.
— Cardinal pitchers have hit 51 batters, most in the majors.
— Kris Bryant played 3B, for first time since April 20.

 In three games in Minnesota during the week, Giancarlo Stanton went 6-15 with three HRs and eight RBI, but when New York played the Phillies Saturday, Stanton was on the bench, since there is no DH in National League parks.

Whats the deal here?
— Is Stanton so brittle that he can’t stand in outfield for nine innings?
— He makes $28M a year; would be nice if he played in all the games, especially when his bat is hot.
— Are the New York trainers coddling him too much?
— (Stanton was a pretty good outfielder for the Marlins, by the way)
— I’m 61 years old, I could play the outfield and not get hurt. Might not catch any baseballs, but good grief, Stanton looks like an NFL tight end- he can’t play the outfield?

Elsewhere, today ends Game 10 of our fantasy baseball league’s regular season, the halfway mark for us; time goes by quickly. Season isn’t half-over yet; our fantasy playoffs are in September, but it has been great to have things seem more normal this year.

This time last year, we were still a month away from the baseball season starting.

Here is some knowledge on Big X college football:
— Baylor’s 4-year starting QB bolted Waco, will play at Utah.
— Maybe he left because he was sacked 31 times in nine games LY.
— Baylor has 10 starters back on defense.
— Bears ranked 123rd in rushing LY, 100th in scoring.

Iowa State
— Haven’t won a league title since 1912; they lost Big X title game 27-21 LY.
— QB Purdy is back for his 4th year as the Cyclones’ QB.
— Iowa State returns 26 players who’ve started 6+ games in their career/
— How has a big $$$ money school/NFL not hired Matt Campbell away from Ames?

— Lance Leipold is their sixth coach since 2009; he was 37-33 at Buffalo.
— Leipold’s Buffalo team ranked #2 in country in rushing LY; Kansas was 116th.
— Leipold was hired the day before the Jayhawks’ spring game; not ideal.
— Anyone else wondering why they fired Mark Mangino 10 years ago?

— Wildcats have only 3 starters back on defense.
— K-State lost their last five games LY, giving up 40.6 ppg.
— Wildcats added five players via the transfer portal.
— Freshman QB TJ Rubley is the son of a former NFL QB.

— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense
— They’ve won Big X six years in a row.
— Scored 43 ppg but lost twice (38-35/37-30)
— Sooners dropped 9 TD passes LY; the receivers need to be better.

Oklahoma State
— Only five starters are back on offense, but QB Sanders is a 3rd-year starter.
— Over last 11 seasons, OSU is 101-40, one of 10 programs with 100+ wins since 2010.
— Cowboys’ punter is Tom Hutton, a 31-year old Australian.
— Cowboys have never played in Big X title game.

— Gary Patterson has been head coach at TCU for 21 years.
— Junior QB Duggan has already started 19 college games.
— Horned Frogs are thin at LB and safety.
— TCU won five of last six games LY, after a 1-3 start.

— Longhorns scored 42.7 ppg LY, finished 7-3; the coach got fired after going 32-18.
— There will be a QB competition in summer camp.
— Texas has only 6 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Steve Sarkisian is the new coach; six years ago; he got fired as head coach at USC for showing up drunk to practice. If you work for Nick Saban, people forget things about you.

Texas Tech
— Tech is 8-14 since Matt Wells replaced Kliff Kingsbury as coach.
— Red Raiders gave up 36.7 ppg last year.
— Tech hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2017.
— One of Tech’s QBs is Tyler Shough, who was Oregon’s starting QB LY.

West Virginia
— Last time they won a league title was 2011; they won the Big East back then.
— Mountaineers have only 5 starters back on defense.
— WVU is 11-11 in two years since Dana Holgorsen bolted for Houston.
— Mountaineers’ shortest road trip in Big X is Iowa State, 872 miles away. 

Saturday’s Den: Mixing in some Pac-12 football knowledge in with baseball

Mets 3, Padres 2:
— Jacob deGrom threw six shutout innings, but left after six innings (80 PT) with a sore elbow. In his four starts since being on the IL, he’s thrown 63-70-85-80 pitches.
— Mets started a 31-day stretch where they’ll play 33 games; one day off, with three twinbills mixed in. Some consolation; 22 of those 31 days will be spent in New York City.

Cubs 8, Cardinals 5
— Anthony Rizzo hit a home run on the 14th pitch of an at-bat, sending the biggest crowd of the year into a frenzy.
— Cubs scored twice in the 7th inning after Bill Murray sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Giants 1, Nationals 0
Max Scherzer left the game after 12 pitches with a leg injury, bad news for a Washington team facing a pair of games against the Giants Saturday.

Dodgers 12, Rangers 1
LA scored six runs in first inning, sending Texas to their 15th consecutive road loss.

Random strange stat of the day: Of all the active big leaguers with 125+ AB’s against the Indians, the player with the best batting average is?

Elvis Andrus, .367. Go figure.

A’s 4, Royals 3— That same Elvis Andrus hit a walk-off single to rightfield, as Oakland avoided what would’ve been a bad loss.

I’m watching the classic baseball movie Major League the other night and the Indians manager comes to the mound to bring in Wild Thing Vaughn (Charlie Sheen); manager Lou Brown wasn’t much for the analytics community: “I know he hasn’t done well against this guy, but I’ve got a hunch he’s due.”

— A little Pac-12 football knowledge:
Arizona- New coach Jedd Fisch was an offensive coordinator in the NFL; X’s and O’s won’t be a problem, but how will he recruit? Losing 70-7 to Arizona State last year make this year’s game with the Sun Devils more interesting.

Arizona State- 9 starters back on offense, 11 on defense; they were +8 in turnovers LY, in only four games. Sun Devils have a 3rd-year starting QB, unusual in this day and age. Expectations are high in Tempe; ASU lost 16 of its last 19 games against USC- they play Trojans November 8.

California- 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense; their two losses last year were by total of five points. Cal ranked outside top 100 nationally LY in scoring, rushing, passing- their QB has 23 career starts, most of anyone in the Pac-12.

Colorado- 9 starters back on offense, 8 on defense; is there a hangover after you lose your bowl game 55-23, the way Colorado did last year? They’re not sure who the QB will be; Colorado was #23 in country in rushing LY, but they allowed 32+ points in four of six games. 

Oregon- 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense; lot of returning starters all over the Pac-12 this fall. Ducks will have a Boston College transfer (28 starts) or a freshman at QB, which could be a problem, but otherwise they have quality depth all over the field.

Oregon State- 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense; notice a trend here? Beavers scored 31.2 ppg two years ago, 28.9 last year; coach Jonathan Smith knows his offense. Problem is, they gave up 65 points in their two wins LY. The defense needs some work.

USC- 8 starters back on both sides of the ball; QB Kedon Slovis had a pretty good OC in high school in Phoenix- NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. Trojans were 5-1 LY, with three wins by 5 or fewer points; coach Clay Helton kept his job, but fired his 14th assistant over the last five years- they also fired the strength coach.

Stanford- Cardinal started season 0-2, then won their last four games, by total of 10 points. Stanford was 93rd running the ball, 112th in rushing defense, numbers that need to improve. The QB situation is up in the air for this fall, rarely a good thing.

UCLA- 9 starters back on both sides of the ball, as Chip Kelly fights to show that his success at Oregon wasn’t a fluke. Bruins were 3-4 last year; they scored 42-35-38-47 points in the losses. UCLA finished 114th in country in pass defense LY, a bad thing if you’re in the PAC-12.

Utah- Because QB’s transfer every 90 minutes or so, Utes have Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer on their roster now. Brewer threw for 9,700 yards in 44 games at Baylor; is Utah a better place to play than Waco? Utes are trying for third Pac-12 South title in last four years.

Washington- Huskies have 11 consecutive winning seasons, but they finished in top 25 in only four of those years. Washington only played four games LY, so their returning starting QB isn’t as experienced as it seems. A September 11 game at Michigan will be interesting.

Washington State- Coogs hired an assistant coach in charge of poaching transfers from other schools, probably a wave of the future. One of their transfers this year in QB Jarrett Guarantano from Tennessee; there weren’t a lot of people in Knoxville who were upset when he left. Wazzu has 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.

Last thing tonight; Just watched a 1995 episode of Columbo, where Norm from Cheers was the bad guy. This was shortly after Cheers went off the air; Norm’s character owned racehorses, but his brother was a degenerate gambler who owed money to the wrong people- Norm tried to make everything go away by killing his brother, and the guy he owned money to.

No bueno. Even Cliff Clavin could’ve figured that one out.