Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Friday

13) Baseball’s trade deadline was very busy; they’ve changed the rules— no more waivers trades the rest of the season, so the current rosters are what teams have to work with the rest of the way. 

Ironic that Cubs-Nationals are playing this weekend, since they’re both in the tank, trading away most of their best players this week. It is unclear what their strategy is going forward; they both won a World Series in the last five years, but now appear to be starting from scratch. 

12) Cubs traded closer Craig Kimbrel alright, but they surprised people by trading him to the crosstown rival White Sox, instead of the Dodgers, Astros or some other contender.

White Sox already have a good closer (Liam Hendriks); not sure how they’ll deal with having two of them.

11) Oakland A’s were more aggressive than expected; after acquiring Starling Marte, Andrew Chafin earlier this week, they unexpectedly added Yan Gomes/Josh Harrison Friday, giving their lineup a big boost.

10) Just before the deadline, like five minutes before, Giants acquired versatile Kris Bryant from the Cubs. No idea what position he’ll play for the Giants, who are 7-7 since the All-Star break and lead the NL West by three games.

9) Fernando Tatis hurt his shoulder again Friday night; San Diego is 5-6 in its last 11 games, has a 4-game lead for the second Wild Card slot. Ha-Seong Kim is the logical replacement at short for the Padres.

8) Reds 6, Mets 2— Joey Votto is the 8th player EVER to homer in seven consecutive games.

7) Colorado surprised lot of people by not trading SS Trevor Story; sounds like they think the draft pick they’ll get when Story bolts in free agency this winter will be worth more than the prospect(s) they would’ve gotten for Story this week.

6) Atlanta Braves went all-in on improving their outfield, acquiring Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler. Soler figures to be Atlanta’s DH next season.

5) Toronto got started Jose Berrios from Minnesota, which also traded JA Happ to St Louis. Cardinals acquired Happ and Jon Lester, two lefties on the down side of the hill.

4) Cubs pitcher Alec Mills threw six innings against Cincinnati Thursday; he faced 27 batters, threw 96 pitches, but didn’t walk anyone or strike anyone out- that almost never happens.

3) A’s 2, Angels 0:
— Strong outing for Chris Bassitt, who tossed 7 shutout innings.
— A’s are 3-0 since they announced the Starling Marte trade.
— Angels were shut out in their last three games with Oakland.

2) Indianapolis Colts’ QB Carson Wentz is out indefinitely after undergoing further testing for a foot injury; they expect him back this season, but it doesn’t sound like they expect him back soon.

Colts traded sent Philadelphia a 3rd-round pick in this year’s draft and a 2nd-round pick in the 2022 draft to get Wentz; their backup QB’s have a combined zero NFL starts.

1) If the playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Mets-Brewers-Giants. Wild Card: San Diego @ Los Angeles
AL: Red Sox-White Sox-Astros. Wild Card: Oakland @ Tampa Bay

Friday’s Den: Random thoughts on a busy night

Lot of stuff going on for a Thursday night; was going to do a running diary of the night, with the NBA Draft and baseball trades going on, but a nasty thunderstorm KO’d my DirecTV for 20-25 minutes, so I scrapped that idea.

— First of all, best wishes to Indians’ manager Terry Francona, who is taking the rest of the year off to improve his health— he’s had problems last few years. From all accounts, Francona is a terrific guy and he also been an excellent manager. Get well soon, sir.

Francona is also the answer to a great trivia question; he was the manager of the Birmingham Barons the year Michael Jordan played minor league baseball.

— Blockbuster trade of the day was Dodgers acquiring Max Scherzer/Trea Turner from Washington for four prospects, including their top two, C Keibert Ruiz, P Josiah Gray.

San Diego had been rumored as the frontrunners to land Scherzer, but they got outsmarted by their division rivals.

— Turner came up as a CF, so he is likely to play OF with Corey Seager due back from his hand injury. This also makes it more likely that Seager moves on in free agency this winter.

— Nationals dealt injured slugger Kyle Schwarber to Boston; he has a hamstring issue now, but was pounding the ball before he got hurt. It is unclear if Washington plans to field a team next season, but if they do, it won’t be a very good one.

— Washington 3-8. Phillies 1-11:
Nationals won first game, led 7-0 in nightcap, but blew the lead.
Brad Miller walked it off with a grand slam, after P Aaron Nola pinch-hit and drew a walk.

— Rough day to be a Washington fan. In 2019, they won the World Series, then didn’t get much of a chance to celebrate last year because of the pandemic, now they’re running a fire sale.

— Dodgers also acquired LHP Danny Duffy, so the Trevor Bauer era may be over in LA.

— Bronx Bombers acquired 1B Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs, OF Joey Gallo from Texas; Cubs are even paying Rizzo’s contract the rest of this year.

Rizzo/Gallo don’t pitch, so New York will be trying to outscore teams with an enhanced lineup.

— In 2000, the major league batting average was .270; this year, it is .241; will be interesting to see how much it goes back up next year when they ban the shift.

— Seattle acquired P Diego Castillo to replace departed Kendall Graveman as closer.

— This season, Atlanta Braves are 1-10 in games when they’ve been one game under .500; they’re 51-52 and haven’t been over .500 yet this season.

— Mets acquiring Rich Hill makes it 11 teams in 17 years for the veteran lefty.

— Tuesday afternoon, Detroit scored 17 runs in game without hitting a home run; it was the first time they scored 17+ runs without homering since July, 1961.

— Since 2017, Mike Trout has missed 26% of the Angels’ games due to injury.

— Not sure how this will play out, but Oklahoma City Thunder had 37 draft picks for the next seven NBA Drafts, counting last night- they traded one to Philly, so now they’ve got 36.

NBA rosters have 15 guys on them; what will they do with all those draft picks?

— Russell Westbrook got traded to the Lakers, SO LA’s Big 3 in Lebron James, Anthony Davis and Westbrook. Lakers aren’t much for the rebuilding side of the business.

Russell Westbrook’s career path:
2008-19— Oklahoma City
2019-20— Houston
2020-21— Washington
2021-??— Lakers

Four teams in four years; Lakers became a more interesting team last night.

— Detroit took Cade Cunningham with the first pick of the draft; last time they had the first pick was 1970—they took Bob Lanier, who scored 22 ppg for 10 years— excellent pick.

— The NBA Draft would be better if they didn’t show Spike Lee hovering around the arena. 

— Was listening to an NBA scout/analyst describe one prospect and he says:

“The big question about (Player A) is how much does he like basketball?”

Wow, big wow. If I thought that about a prospect, we’d cross his name off and never even think about drafting him. Excelling in the NBA is really difficult; you better love it enough to work your butt off at it, if you want to succeed.

— A’s 4, Angels 0— First time up, A’s leadoff hitter Mark Canha leaned into an inside pitch, it nicked him and he went to first base. Angels’ P Dylan Bundy was’t happy about it. Next time up, first pitch was a fastball behind Canha’s head.

Frankie Montas was awesome in this game, throwing 7 shutout innings. Starling Marte got on base a couple of times in his A’s debut.

— It takes onions to propose to your girlfriend in public, in a big league ballpark; last week, a guy proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of the 5th inning at Wrigley Field- she said yes, and there were hugs/kisses and everyone was happy.

Few years ago, a guy proposed to his girlfriend at Fenway Park; they put it up on the scoreboard, there wasn’t much of a commotion, until some fans in that area starting chanting…….

“She said no!!! She said no!!!!”

Not good. How do you get out of the ballpark gracefully when that happens? 

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

13) Baseball needs to market itself better; they need an NFL Films-type group to go behind the scenes of front offices and locker rooms to show us what happens during spring training, at the trade deadline, before/during the amateur draft.

MLB’s leaders are arrogant/entitled; they need to sell the game to younger people, and the way to do it is to show us how interesting a business it is, both on and off the field, you know, the way the NFL does.

Tuesday night around 6:30, they announced the Phillies were acquiring P Tyler Anderson from Pittsburgh, for two minor leaguers. 90 minutes later, the trade was off; one of minor leaguers failed his physical. Around 10pm, Anderson was traded to Seattle for two other prospects.

Would be great TV to hear how those phone calls went down, to see how the GM’s reacted when their trade fell apart, and when the new trade was put together. 

Baseball needs to do this; they need to promote their sport better. 

12) Houston-Seattle made a trade late Monday/early Tuesday; the thing is, Astros were in Seattle at the time- they blew a 6-0 first inning lead and lost 11-8 to the Mariners Monday night. 

Seattle traded its closer to Houston, which is weird, seeing how the Mariners are very hot and are playoff contenders. Mariners’ GM Jerry DiPoto says there will be other trades that will make the first trade understandable. 

Once again, this would’ve been great TV, to see everyone’s reactions. 

Tuesday night, Abraham Toro, traded by the Astros to Seattle that morning, hit a home run against Houston in the last inning; quite a moment. Would’ve been good TV to see how his new teammates greeted him and how he reacted after the game.

Toro homered again Wednesday, by the way.

11) Oakland A’s pulled the trigger on a big trade; they acquired Starling Marte for Jesus Luzardo; Marte is a free agent in two months, Luzardo is a young pitcher who broke his hand punching something during a clubhouse video game back in May.

I had been wondering if the A’s brass was ticked off with Luzardo; his rehab starts haven’t gone that smoothly, but they were in the PCL, mostly at high altitude. His injury put the A’s in a bad spot; good starting pitchers are obviously hard to find.

A’s started this season 1-6, then went on a 44-24 run, before slumping to 11-16 in their last 27 games- they beat San Diego 10-4 Wednesday, after the deal was announced. Sometimes making a deal loosens everyone up, shows that the front office is behind the team. Hopefully this is one of those times.

10) Detroit 17, Minnesota 14:
— Twins homered 7 times, Detroit didn’t homer, but they won.
— All nine Tiger starters got a hit, scored a run, knocked in a run.

Tuesday’s Detroit-Minnesota game was first time in MLB history both catchers hit a grand slam in the same game.

9) San Diego starting pitchers have lasted 5+ innings in only 57 of 104 games. Blake Snell has lasted five innings in only 8 of 18 starts.

8) Odd Stat of the Day: Tampa Bay leads MLB in this category; 49.2% of their home runs have come with at least one man on base, highest %age in MLB.

7) Pittsburgh 2B Rodolfo Castro is 5-21 this year, with five home runs; he is the first major leaguer in over 100 years whose first five hits were all home runs.

Speaking from personal experience, this is a sad week to be a Pirate fan; you trade two of your best players for prospects. If those prospects become really good players, you realize those guys will eventually get sold down the river, too.

Being a fan is fun when your team wins, disappointing when they lose, but when they don’t even TRY to win, it is depressing/annoying. Thats what’s going on in Pittsburgh now.

6) Four Washington National players, eight staffers tested positive for COVID Wednesday; they postponed Wednesday’s game to today, as part of a doubleheader.

5) This is how much baseball has changed since I was a kid: 

In 1973 and 1974, Nolan Ryan threw 26 complete games, that’s 52 complete games in two years.

Today, there is no active big league pitcher with more than 26 career complete games, Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright.

4) Can any NFL team trade for Deshaun Watson? What would the public relations fallout be? What would they have to give up, for a young man who may/may not have a lot of legal issues in front of him?  Watson is a good young QB; the Texans have a hard decision to make.

Watson is at training camp; it would cost him $50,000 a day if he wasn’t there, but he isn’t practicing with the first team.

3) College football trend; under Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M is 15-6 ATS as a favorite.

2) Not many movies were made during the pandemic, so actors are getting creative to rake in some cash; is odd seeing Liev Schreiber doing a mattress commercial these days.

1) NBA Draft is tonight; Oklahoma City/Houston both have three first round picks. 

Wednesday’s Den: MAC football trends

Last year, several MAC teams had their season decimated by COVID, playing only 3,4 games.

Akron:
— Last three years, they’re 5-25 SU (-23 turnovers)
— Since 2012, Zips are 4-22 ATS as home underdogs.
— Covered twice in last 16 games as an underdog.
— 1-2 all-time in bowl games; they won a bowl in Boise in 2015

Ball State:
— Last year was their first bowl game since 2013.
— Lost opener 38-31 LY, then won last seven games.
— 8-17 ATS last 25 home games, 14-12 last 26 on road.
— Since 2015, Cardinals are 3-9 ATS as a home underdog.

Bowling Green:
— Falcons were 0-5 LY, giving up 46.3 ppg.
— Lost 4 of last 5 bowls; their last bowl win was in 2014.
— Since 2016, Bowling Green is 2-7 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last two years, Falcons are 2-13 ATS as an underdog.

Buffalo
— Went 24-10 SU last 3 years; their coach bolted to Kansas.
— None of the previous assistants were retained by new coach.
— Won bowls 31-9/17-10 last two years.
— Since 2017, Bulls are 22-8-1 ATS in MAC games.

Central Michigan:
— As HC, McElwain is 31-16 ATS when favored, 16-16-1 as an underdog.
— Lost last five bowl games, giving up 42.5 ppg.
— Since 2014, Chippewas are 18-8 ATS as road underdogs.
— Were +6 in turnovers LY; previous four years, they were minus-22.

Eastern Michigan
— Since 2016, Eagles are 19-3 ATS as road underdogs.
— Since 2015, EMU is 18-5 ATS tin non-conference games.
— Last three years, they’re +14 in turnovers; from ’14-’17, they were minus-34.
— 1-3 all-time in bowls; only win was in 1987.

Kent State
— Last ten years, Kent is 8-2 ATS as a road favorite.
— Went 3-1 LY, scoring 49.8 ppg.
— Last three years, Golden Flashes are 10-5 ATS coming off a loss.
— 1-2 all-time in bowls; they beat Utah State 51-41 in a 2018 bowl.

Miami
— HC Martin is 26-19-1 ATS as an underdog, 14-13 when favored.
— Since 2014, Miami is 25-17-1 ATS coming off a loss.
— Miami has only 32 returning starts on offensive line TY.
— Red Hawks are 1-3 in last four bowls; their last bowl win was 2010.

Northern Illinois
— Huskies were 0-6 LY, giving up 40+ points four times, 30+ in other two.
— NIU is 5-13 last two years; from 2011-18, they were 65-34 SU.
— Huskies are 19-7 ATS in last 26 games as road underdogs
— NIU lost its last five bowls, scoring only 14.2 ppg.

Ohio U
— Coach Solich retired July 13; the old OC is the new head coach.
— Bobcats are 12-3 ATS in last 15 games as an underdog.
— Since 2015, Ohio U is 25-14 ATS coming off a win.
— Won last three bowls, by combined score of 98-27.

Toledo
— HC Candle is 21-17 ATS as favorite, 4-11 as an underdog.
— Rockets have 101 starts back on OL (whole 2-deep is back)
— Since 2018, Toledo is 4-12 ATS coming off a win.
— Rockets lost last three bowls, giving up 32.3 ppg.

Western Michigan:
— Broncos went 4-2 LY, scoring 41.7 ppg.
— Since 2013, WMU is 3-7 ATS as a home underdog.
— Last four years, Broncos are 18-25-1 ATS.
— WMU lost last three bowls, scoring 18 ppg. 

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

13) Mariners 11, Astros 8:
— Houston scored six runs in top of the first; it wasn’t enough.
— Dylan Moore hit a grand slam in the 8th inning for the win. 

— Seattle is on a roll- they’re 24-10 in last 34 games, are only a game out of the 2nd Wild Card slot. Since June 12, they’re 11-0 in games where winning run scored in last three innings.

AL contenders need to upgrade their rosters in next four days; it is going to be quite a race to the wire.

12) This Texas/Oklahoma story is going to shake up college sports for a while; teams will be scrambling to find leagues to play so their athletic programs remain profitable, because at the end of the day, as the old saying goes, it is always about the money.

Kansas, for instance, is an elite basketball school but they’re cruddy in football. What league would want them (Big 14?)? Baylor just won a national title in hoops, but where will they wind up? Will UNLV/BYU team up and join the Pac-12 or Big X?

11) Braves 2-0, Mets 0-1— Two games, 14 innings, total of 3 runs were scored.

Mets have used 55 players this season, most of any team.

Atlanta is 49-51; they haven’t been over .500 at any time this season.

10) Slovenia 118, Argentina 100:
— Olympic basketball games are 40:00, not 48:00; not a lot of defense here.
— Luka Doncic scored 48 points for the winners.

9) Record for most points scored in an Olympic hoop game is 55 points, by Oscar Schmidt of Brazil in 1988. An incredible gunner, Schmidt played pro ball for 29 years; he was named one FIBA’s 50 best players in 1991. He couldn’t/wouldn’t guard the chair you’re sitting on, but boy could he shoot.

8) Cubs 6, Reds 5:
— Cincinnati is 27-18 vs NL Central foes, 24-31 vs everyone else.
— Reds led this game 5-3 in 7th inning, let it slip away.

7) Phillies 6, Nationals 5— Philly scored three runs in 9th; Andrew McCutchen walked it off with a home run. Phillies creep over .500 at 50-49.

6) Oakland A’s are going to acquire reliever Andrew Chafin from the Cubs, for two minor leaguers; A’s needed this, to fortify their bullpen some— they could also use another bat or two.

5) Kid named Jason Carter played two years of college hoop at Ohio U, then transferred to Xavier and played two years there- he will play the extra year he got last year (everyone got an extra year last year) back at Ohio U.

Jason Carter is 6-foot-8; looks like he played 26:00 a game at Xavier last year, but shot 8-44 on the arc (18%), 22-40 on foul line (55%). Hope he is in a gym somewhere this summer, so he can improve on those numbers.

4) The great movie Caddyshack came out 41 years ago this week; I felt old typing that.

3) When Pirates traded 2B Adam Frazier to San Diego, it made Frazier the third player to be traded at midseason while leading the league in hits. Willie McGee (1990), Red Schoendienst (1957) were the other two.

2) November 23 in Las Vegas, Gonzaga will play UCLA in basketball at T-Mobile Arena; Bellarmine-Central Michigan is the JV game on the card. 

Night before that, UCLA plays Bellarmine, Gonzaga plays the Chippewas.

1) If the playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Red Sox, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card- Oakland @ Tampa Bay
AL— Mets, Reds, Giants. Wild Card- San Diego @ Los Angeles

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) San Diego Padres traded three minor league prospects to Pittsburgh for all-star 2B Adam Frazier, who is hitting .324 this season, and is under team control thru 2022.

Trade deadline is Saturday; should be an interesting week. 

12) Padres are 1-6 in last seven games where winning run scored in last 3 innings; they’re 10-18 in their last 28 road games. Frazier is expected to be a super-utility guy; he’ll be a big help.

Seattle Mariners won their last ten games where winning run scored in last 3 innings.

11) France 83, USA 76— Not good.
— France ended game on a 16-2 run over final 3:41.
— Americans shot 36.2% from floor, were out-rebounded 42-37.
— Evan Fournier scored 28 points for France.

10) Baseball injuries:
— Dodgers put OF Mookie Betts (hip) on IL
— Phillies put OF Travis Jankowski on IL
— Tampa Bay put P Collin McHugh (fatigue) on IL
— Arizona put IF/OF Josh Rojas (finger) on IL.

9) Boston 5, New York 4:
— Red Sox had no hits thru 7 innings, trailed 4-0.
— Red Sox scored five runs in bottom of the 8th.
— Boston leads Tampa Bay a game, New York by 9 games in AL East.

8) Astros 3, Rangers 1— Texas has lost 12 games in row, its worst losing streak since 1982.

7) Mets 5, Blue Jays 4:
— Newly-acquired Rich Hill allowed 3 runs in 5+ IP (62 PT) in his Mets debut.
— Hill is pitching for his 11th team in a 17-year career.
— Jeff McNeil got the game-winning hit in the 6th inning.

6) Pitchers who got the most called strikes in a game this year:
31— Kwang Hung Kim (StL) @ CWS— Bellino was umpire
Kyle Hendricks (Chi) @ Det— Hoberg
Adam Wainwright (StL) vs Chicago— Bacchus
Jorge Lopez (Balt) vs Hst— TBarrett
30— Zach Eflin (Phil) @ StL— Baker
29— Lance McCullers (Hst) vs A’s— May
Adam Wainwright (StL) vs Colorado— Reynolds

5) There is a 13-hour time difference between Tokyo and New York; lot of the events at the Olympics are being held while most of us are asleep.

4) Word of the Day: Quotidian

Never heard the word before I saw it on Twitter- it basically means “ordinary” or “typical”

3) Most home runs by a Cincinnati Reds player vs St Louis:
46— Frank Robinson
32— Joey Votto
31— Wally Post
30— Ted Kluszewski

2) One of the fun parts of watching re-runs of The West Wing on my laptop is seeing all the great actors that worked on that show, even for short periods of time.

Alan Alda, Brian Dennehy, Marlee Matlin, Tim Matheson; the list goes on and on, and they were just in the show for parts of a season or two. 

— Mark Harmon did 4 episodes as a Secret Service agent.
— Ed O’Neill did 4 episodes as the governor of Pennsylvania
— Connie Britton did 4 episodes- the list of great actors in this show is impressive.

1) If the playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Red Sox, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card- Oakland @ Tampa Bay
AL— Mets, Reds, Giants. Wild Card- San Diego @ Los Angeles

Sunday’s Den: Random NFL trends…….

NFL trends that may come in handy, later this year:
13) Vikings are 0-7 ATS in last 7 Monday night road games.
— Minnesota covered six of last seven games vs Detroit.
— Vikings are 0-6 ATS vs opponent coming off a bye. 

12) Last three years, Giants are 18-6 ATS on road.
— Giants are 11-1 ATS as a road underdog of less than 7 points.
— Giants are 4-14 ATS in last 18 games as a home underdog.

11) Jets are 0-6 ATS in last six games vs Miami.
— Last four years, Jets are 11-21-1 ATS on the road.

10) Dolphins are 6-10-1 ATS the week after playing New England.

9)  Patriots covered five of last seven games against the Jets.
— New England is 8-1 ATS the week after playing the Jets.

8) Last three years, Eagles are 5-12-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Philly is 2-5 ATS in last seven games vs Dallas.

7) Pittsburgh started 11-0 LY, then lost five of last six games.
— Steelers had 56 sacks last year (most)
— Steelers allowed 14 sacks last year (least)

6) Last four years, 49ers are 5-13-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— 49ers covered once in their last six games with Arizona.

5) Seattle is 10-2-1 ATS in last 13 games with San Francisco.
— Seahawks are 9-2-2 ATS in last 13 games in Eastern time zone.

4) Tampa Bay is 2-9 ATS in last 11 Thursday games.
— Last four years, Buccaneers are 8-3-1 ATS as a home underdog.

3) It has been 16 years since the NFC East champ repeated the next season; Washington win the division last year.

2) Washington is 0-7 ATS in last seven Monday home games.
— Washington is 0-5 ATS the week after playing the Eagles.

1) Tennessee is 31-21 SU under Vrabel, but was outgained all three years.
— Last three years, Titans are 6-9-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Tennessee is 2-11 ATS the week after a Monday night game. 

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

13) If you bet on baseball or own a fantasy team, a reality for the rest of this season is that some teams are going to be limiting the innings of their younger pitchers, to keep them healthy.

Friday, Milwaukee led the White Sox 1-0 after four innings, but lifted Freddy Peralta after he had thrown only 51 pitches. Detroit has held Casey Mize under 60 PT in his last three starts.

There is a thing about the injury risk going way up for any pitcher who throws 20% more pitches than he did the year before, and since last year was such a short season, some teams are going to go overboard with caution. 

12) Starting next year, Cleveland Indians will be known as the Cleveland Guardians; the new name was inspired by large landmark stone edifices — referred to as traffic guardians — that flank both ends of the Hope Memorial Bridge, which connects downtown to Ohio City.

My personal preference would’ve been Cleveland Spiders, but they didn’t ask me- the Spiders were a team in the late 19th century.

11) In the the next couple of weeks, MLB will begin testing new technology that lets catchers electronically communicate signs to pitchers; this will happen at a lower minor league- the system is designed to quicken the pace of play and eliminate sign-stealing.

10) Apparently the fine folks at Texas A&M aren’t real happy about Texas/Oklahoma joining the SEC; Texas A&M bolted the Big X to join the SEC in 2012, primarily to get away from those teams, now it looks like they’ll be conference rivals again.

9) Rockies 9, Dodgers 6 (10)
— Colorado scored six runs in last three innings.
— Dodgers are 59-40, but they’re 1-10 in extra innings.

8) Reds 6, Cardinals 5:
— Two outs, no one on in last inning, Cardinals have Yadier Molina on bench but they pinch-hit pitcher Adam Wainwright instead, which was weird. Wainwright is batting .030.

7) Mets acquired 41-year old P Rich Hill from Tampa Bay, to fortify their rotation. Rays will be getting Chris Archer back soon, so they had an excess of starting pitching.

6) When the Blue Jays go back to Toronto next week, they’ll be first major league team since 1903 to have three different home fields in the same season.

5) Yermin Mercedes was back in the lineup for AAA Charlotte Friday, two days after he kind of announced his retirement on Instagram; he homered in his first at-bat last night.

4) Red Sox P Eduardo Rodriguez left Friday’s start in the second inning with a migraine headache; Boston won 6-2, is now 9-2 vs division rival New York this season.

3) MLB extended Washington Nationals’ IF Starlin Castro’s administrative leave thru July 29; doesn’t sound like he or Trevor Bauer will be on a ballfield anytime soon.

2) NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans named Willie Green their new head coach; he was an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns this past season.

1) If the playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Mets, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: San Diego @ Los Angeles
AL— Red Sox, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Oakland @ Tampa Bay

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

13) First domino of the baseball trade deadline season fell Thursday, with Minnesota dealing DH Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay, for a couple of AAA pitching prospects.

At age 41, Cruz has 19 homers, 50 RBI and a .370 on-base %age. He should be a big help. 

12) Cruz hit 216 home runs before his 35th birthday; he’s hit 220 homers since that birthday, which is 3rd all-time.

11) Tampa Bay/Texas are allowing the worst OPS to opposing #9 hitters; Tampa Bay is 58-39, would host the Wild Card game if it were played today. Nothing they do is normal, but they do it very well.

10) Detroit Tigers are 7-0 since the All-Star break; they’ve won their last nine home games. AJ Hinch is a damn good manager; he won the World Series in Houston, but may be doing his best work in Detroit right now.

9) Giants 5, Dodgers 3:
— Giants roughed up Kenley Jansen for 4 runs in 9th inning, after a replay reversal kept the game going.
— San Francisco leads the Dodgers by 3 games, San Diego by 5.5 in the NL West.

8) Boston 5, New York 4 (10):
— Red Sox scored twice in 9th inning, twice in the 10th.
— Hunter Renfroe walked it off with a 10th inning sac fly.
— Kike Hernandez tied the game with a 9th inning double.
— New York reliever Brooks Kriske threw four wild pitches in 10th inning– the most by one pitcher in a single extra inning in MLB history.

7) If I was advising a young person who was looking to pursue a great career, I’d suggest they become an eye doctor. Being a beer distributor would also be good, but being an eye doctor must be very cool. 

Over the last 20 months, I’ve spent too way much time in doctor’s offices getting pictures taken of my eye, which has had two operations. Those two surgeons saved the vision in my right eye; can’t imagine how great it must be to save someone’s vision.

Plus, I’m guessing eye doctors make a boatload of money.

6) Padres 3, Marlins 2:
— Blake Snell finished the 6th inning for only third time in 18 starts.
— Snell came into this game with a 9.08 ERA in ten road outings.

5) A’s 4, Seattle 1:
— Sean Manaea threw 7 great innings (107 PT) to win opener of an important series.
— Ramon Laureano knocked in two runs for the A’s.

4) Cardinals 3, Cubs 2:
— Chicago is 5-17 in its last 22 games; when do they resume dumping players?
— I mean, Kris Bryant is on my fantasy team; I’d rather he get traded now, so he gets a full week for his new team next week.

3) The Yermin Mercedes retirement story turned out to be a false alarm; he was in uniform for AAA Charlotte Thursday night, but didn’t play. Wouldn’t shock me if a contender that needed a bat off the bench traded for Mercedes in the next nine days.

2) Jets assistant coach Greg Knapp died Thursday; he passed away from injuries suffered when he was struck by a car while biking in California last week. Knapp had a 25-year coaching career and was known for working with QB’s, like Peyton Manning/Steve Young. RIP, sir.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Mets, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: San Diego @ Los Angeles
AL— Red Sox, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Oakland @ Tampa Bay

Thursday’s Den: First draft of my Week 1 NFL article

Dallas @ Tampa Bay
— Last 4 years, Cowboys are 5-9-1 ATS as road underdogs.
— Dallas lost three of last four road openers SU.
— Cowboys are 10-4 ATS last 14 games as a dog in road openers.
— Under is 6-3 in their last nine road openers.
— Under is 5-2 in their last seven Week 1 games.

— Defending Super Bowl champs are ATS in Week 1 the next year.
— Tampa Bay was 3-2-1 ATS LY as a home favorite.
— Buccaneers won three of last four Week 1 games.
— Bucs won/covered three of last four home openers.
— Tampa scored 27+ points in four of last five home openers.
— Four of their last five Week 1 games went over.

— Dallas won 7 of last 8 series games.
— Cowboys lost 3 of last 5 visits here, scoring 6-0-7 points in losses.
— Favorites are 5-2 ATS in last seven series games.

Sunday games
Pittsburgh @ Buffalo
— Steelers opened on road last six years (3-2-1 SU, 2-3-1 ATS) 
— Steelers are 10-3 ATS in last 13 games as road underdogs.
— Pittsburgh is 3-1-1 SU last five road openers.
— Under is 7-1 in their last eight road openers.

— Bills are 11-6 ATS in last 17 games as home favorites.
— Home team won their last six Week 1 games.
— Bills are 9-5 ATS last 14 home openers.
— Buffalo is 6-2 ATS as a favorite in home openers.

— Crowd should be mixed for this game; tough day for security guards.
— Bills beat Pittsburgh last two years, after losing previous six meetings.
— Steelers gained only 224 yards, lost 26-15 here LY; Buffalo scored on pick-6.
— Pittsburgh won four of last five visits to Orchard Park.

NJ Jets @ Carolina 
— Jets have new coach, new QB.
— Jets started 0-1 four of last five years.
— Last five years, Gang Green is 10-22-2 ATS as road dogs.
— Jets are 11-4 ATS in last 15 road openers.
— Over 5-2 last seven road openers.

— Last 2 years, Panthers lost 30-27/34-30 at home in Week 1.
— Last 5 years, Carolina is 10-16 ATS as a home favorite.
— Panthers are 6-11-1 ATS last in 18 home openers.
— Under 16-6-1 last 23 home openers.

— Sam Darnold played 3 years for the Jets, going 13-25 as their QB.
— Panthers are 3-2 in last five series games, scoring 30+ in all three wins.
— Jets lost 30-20/30-3 in last two visits to Charlotte.

Philadelphia @ Atlanta
— New coach; 2nd-year QB started four games (1-3) LY.
— Eagles won four of last five season openers.
— Last 5 years, Eagles are 12-13 ATS as road underdogs.
— Philly won 5 of last 7 Week 1 games on road.
— Over 7-4-1 in their last dozen road openers.

— New coach, new GM for Atlanta.
— Last 5 years, Falcons are 15-18 ATS as home favorites.
— Falcons lost four of last five Week 1 games.
— Atlanta is 17-5 ATS in last 22 home openers.
— Since 2004, Falcons are 8-1 ATS as a favorite in HO’s.
— Over is 4-1 in Atlanta’s last five home openers.

— Eagles are 11-5 in last 16 series games.
— Philly lost last three visits here, by 4-2-4 points.
— For what its worth, Matt Ryan is from Philadelphia

Minnesota @ Cincinnati 
— Last three years, Vikings are 6-3 ATS as road favorites.
— Minnesota won/covered four of last five Week 1 games.
— Vikings are 0-3-1 SU, 0-4 ATS last four road openers.
— This is first time in 5 years Vikings open on road.
— Under 12-5 in their last 17 road openers.

— Cincinnati started out 1-0 four of last seven years.
— Bengals are 8-7-1 ATS last 16 games as home dogs.
— Cincy won/covered once in last five home openers.
— Bengals are 3-6-1 ATS as favorite in home openers.
— Under is 9-4 in their last 13 home openers.

— Coach Zimmer was Bengals’ DC from 2008-13.
— Home side won last four series games.
— Vikings lost last two visits here, 42-14/37-8.

San Francisco @ Detroit
— Last 2 years, 49ers won road opener 31-17/31-13.
— 49ers won 8 of last 10 season openers.
— Niners are 5-3 ATS last eight games as road favorite.
— Under 6-1 last seven season openers.
— Under 7-4-1 last dozen road openers.

— New coach, new GM, new QB for Lions.
— Pretty sure Detroit will try hard to run ball a lot.
— 0-2-1 SU last three season openers (favored in all 3)
— Lost four of last six home openers.
— Over 8-3 last 11 home openers.
— Lions’ last ten season openers went over the total.

— 49ers won 8 of last 9 series games.
— Favorites are 4-0-1 ATS in last five series games.
— Niners won 2 of last 3 visits here, losing 32-15 in last visit, in 2015.

Arizona @ Tennessee
— Arizona is 1-3-1 SU in last five Week 1 games.
— Cardinals lost 4 of last 5 road openers SU, but covered 10 of last 13.
— Last 2 years, Arizona is 6-3-1 ATS as road underdogs.
— Under 10-5 last 15 road openers.

— Tennessee lost SU last three times they opened season at home.
— Titans are 2-5 SU last seven home openers (2-7 ATS last nine)
— Last five years, Tennessee is 14-11-2 ATS as home favorites.
— Under is 6-3 in last nine home openers.

— Arizona won three of last four series games.
— Titans lost last meeting 12-7 in desert in 2017.
— Redbirds split last two visits here; Tennessee gained 460-531 TY, though.

Seattle @ Indianapolis 
— Seahawks split last six season openers SU.
— Seattle is 8-4-1 ATS in last 13 games as road underdogs.
— Seattle won last 2 road openers 28-26/38-25, after losing 11 of previous 12.
— Seahawks are 3-12-1 ATS in last 16 road openers.
— Over is 5-2 in last seven road openers.

— Colts started out 0-1 the last seven years.
— First game for Carson Wentz as a Colt.
— Last three years, Indy is 9-10-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Won last two home openers, covered 3 of last 4.
— Last five season openers went over total.

— Colts won three of last five series games.
— Seattle lost 34-28/34-17 in last two visits here.
— Seahawks won last meeting 46-18 at home, in 2017.

LA Chargers @ Washington
— New coach, new OC for Chargers. 
— Bolts are 8-4-2 ATS last 14 games as road favorites.
— Chargers are 4-0-1 ATS last five Week 1 road games.
— Bolts are 6-2-1 ATS last nine road openers
— Bolts are 10-5-1 ATS as underdogs in road openers.

— QB Fitzpatrick gets to start for another NFL team.
— Washington is 4-7 ATS in last 11 games as home underdogs.
— Washington covered last three Week 1 games.
— Washington is 1-4 ATS in last five home openers as a dog.
— Washington is 2-7 SU in last nine home openers.
— Over is 7-3 in their last ten home openers.

— Chargers won four of last five series games.
— Bolts split last two visits here, losing last visit, in 2013.

Jacksonville @ Houston 
— First NFL game for Urban Meyer figures to be interesting.
— Jaguars won season openers three of last four years.
— Last 3 years, Jacksonville is 8-12-1 ATS as road underdogs.
— Jaguars lost 11 of last 13 road openers, but covered last four.
— Under is 12-6 in their last 18 road openers.

— HC Culley is also new head coach; he’s never been a coordinator.
— Texans are 9-14-1 ATS last 24 games as home favorites.
— Texans lost three of last four home openers, scoring 14.5 ppg.
— Houston is 1-5 ATS in last six home openers.
— Under 10-6 in their last 16 home openers.

— Texans won last six series games.
— Jaguars are 6-3 ATS in last nine visits to Houston.
— Two guys who have never been NFL head coaches before.

Cleveland @ Kansas City 
— Browns are 2-19-1 SU in season openers (1-1-1 last three)
— Last 5 years, Cleveland is 12-19-1 ATS as road underdogs.
— Browns are 3-5-1 ATS last nine road openers.
— Last five road openers stayed under total.

— Chiefs won last six season openers, covered last four.
— Last five years, they scored 33-42-38-40-34 in Week 1.
— Last four years, Chiefs are 20-14 ATS as home favorites.
— KC won last five home openers, covered last four.
— Over 4-0-2 in their last six home openers.

— Chiefs beat Cleveland 22-17 here in LY’s playoffs (led 19-3 at half).
— Chiefs won last four series games, three by 6 or fewer points.
— Browns covered last four visits to Arrowhead.

Miami @ New England
— Since 1994, under is 22-5 in Miami’s road openers (12-0 last 12)
— Dolphins lost four of last six season openers.
— Dolphins are 8-4 ATS in last dozen games as road underdogs.
— Miami is 5-12 SU in last 17 road openers (5-3 ATS last 8)

— Patriots started 1-0 in 15 of last 17 seasons.
— New England won 7 of last 8 home openers (4-1 ATS last five)
— Last five years, Patriots are 27-15-1 ATS as home favorites.
— Under 7-2 last nine home openers.

— These teams split their season series the last four years.
— New England covered first meeting the last six years.
— Dolphins lost 11 of last 12 visits to Foxboro (1-8 ATS last nine).

Green Bay @ New Orleans
— Green Bay won last six season openers (5-1 ATS)
— Packers are 5-3 ATS in last eight games as road underdogs.
— Green Bay won/covered last four Week 1 road games.
— Over is 12-3 in their last 15 road openers.

— Saints have new QB for first time since 2005.
— Last 3 years, Saints are 10-14 ATS as home favorites.
— New Orleans lost five of last seven season openers.
— Saints are 1-5 ATS in last six home openers.
— Last 3 years, scored 40-30-34 points in home opener.
— Saints lost five of last seven season openers.

— Teams split last eight series games.
— Packers won 37-20 here LY, their first win in last four visits to Superdome.

Denver @ NY Giants
— Denver lost last four road openers, scoring 16.8 ppg.
— Last 5 years, Broncos are 18-22 ATS on the road.
— Broncos are 7-10 ATS last 17 road openers.

— Giants started nine of last ten seasons 0-1.
— Last four years, Giants are 9-22-1 ATS at home.
— Big Blue is 1-8 SU, 0-9 ATS last nine home openers.
— Giants scored 14.2 ppg in last five home openers.
— Under 7-0 in their last seven home openers.

— Denver won three of last five series games.
— Broncos split last two series games played here.

Chicago @ LA Rams
— Chicago is 1-6 in last seven Week 1 games.
— Bears are 2-4 ATS last six road openers.
— Last five years, Chicago is 10-16-1 ATS as road underdogs.
— Bears are 4-6 SU in last ten road openers.
— Under 16-5 in their last 21 road openers.

— First game for Stafford as Rams’ QB, after 12 years in Detroit.
— Rams also have a new defensive coordinator.
— Under McVay, Rams are 4-0 SU in Week 1.
— Rams won/covered last six home openers.
— Under McVay, LA is 14-12-1 ATS as home favorites.
— Under is 4-1 in last five home openers.

— First game with fans at SoFi Stadium.
— Bears won six of last nine series games, but lost 24-10 here LY.
— Chicago’s only TD in that game was scored by the defense.
— Bears lost three of last four road series games, losing by 14-10-21 points.

Baltimore @ Las Vegas 
— Baltimore won/covered last five season openers
— Ravens won/covered four of last five road openers.
— Baltimore is 12-5-1 ATS in last 18 games as road favorites. 
— Over is 9-4-1 in their last 14 road openers.

— Las Vegas won four of last five season openers.
— Raiders won three of last four home openers.
— Last three years, Raiders are 7-7 ATS as home underdogs.
— Las Vegas is 3-5 ATS in last eight tries as a dog in HO’s.
— Over is 5-2 in their last seven home openers.

— First game with fans at Allegiant Stadium.
— Ravens won six of last eight series games.
— Ravens split last four trips to Oakland; this is their first visit to Las Vegas.
— Underdogs won three of last four series games SU. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Bucks 105, Suns 98:
— Milwaukee wins its first NBA title since 1971.
— Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points, was obviously the MVP.
— 17,000 fans inside the arena, another 65,000 outdoors in Milwaukee. 

12) Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers owns 1% of the Bucks (seriously), so he’ll get a championship ring. NFL WR Larry Fitzgerald owns 1% of the Suns.

Last time the Bucks won the NBA title, I was in 6th grade.

11) Cubs 7, Cardinals 6:
— Chicago scored six runs in last inning for the unlikely win.
— Kris Bryant left game early; next time he plays, will probably be for another team.

10) A’s 6, Angels 0— Oakland 2B Jacob Wilson got his first MLB hit in this game, in his 5th big league at-bat. Wilson is a 30-year old rookie who had 2,819 minor league at-bats before finally getting the call to The Show. Must have been quite a day for him.

Odd thing is, A’s pinch-ran for him with Tony Kemp after his hit, so he got to enjoy it, and A’s broke game open, scoring three runs that inning.

9) Very bad news for the LA Rams; RB Cam Akers tore his achilles tendon, will miss the 2021 season. Akers ran ball for 625 yards as a rookie LY, also caught 11 passes for 123 yards.

8) Umpires have a logo for a company FTX on their shirts; I read where it is a company that deals in crypto currency.

7) baseball injuries:
— Mets’ IF Jose Peraza (finger) goes on IL
— Bronx IF DJ Lemahieu (stomach flu) missed Tuesday’s game
— Royals’ P Brady Singer (shoulder) goes to IL
— Phillies put P Zach Eflin (tendonitis) on IL

— Twins’ OF Luis Arraez (knee) left Tuesday’s game
— Cubs’ 3B Kris Bryant (hamstring) left Tuesday’s game

6) Mets have used 15 starting pitchers this season, most of any team.

5) Monday night, Mets TV announcer Gary Cohen started a ruckus on social media by ripping Skyline Chili, one of the favorite foods of Cincinnati, where the Mets are this week.

He told partner Ron Darling to try it once, but then “you’ll never eat it again” Was good/funny TV, but because everyone is too sensitive these days, people in Ohio were annoyed.

4) Dodgers 8, Giants 6:
— Will Smith followed two walks with a walk-off, 3-run homer in the 9th.
— Justin Turner, Max Muncy both left this game early with injuries.
— The Trevor Bauer situation has made LA’s pitching staff really, really thin.

3) Arizona 11, Pittsburgh 6— Diamondbacks win their third game in a row, which is a big deal when your record is 29-68.

2) Thoughts/prayers to Jets’ assistant coach Greg Knapp, who was critically injured while riding a bicycle last weekend in California.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Mets, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: San Diego @ Los Angeles
AL— Red Sox, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Oakland @ Tampa Bay

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

13) Mets 15, Reds 11 (15):
— Mets made 4 errors in first two innings, trailed 7-3 early.
— Mets are 2nd team EVER to hit back/back homers in first inning, then hit back/back homers again in extra innings of same game. Last time it happened? Pirates in 1950.
— Cincinnati’s bullpen is freakin’ terrible. 

12) 136 teams have had walk-off wins this baseball season; if you wagered on those teams in their next game, you’d be 78-58 (+14 units).

11) Last week, Juan Soto said Home Run Derby would help his swing in regular games; turns out he was right. Soto homered twice Monday, has five taters in his last four games.

10) Tigers 14, Rangers 0— Texas lost its last three games by a combined 29-0.

9) Want to win a bar bet? Only one major leaguer EVER has 500+ hits for four different teams. I’ll post the answer near the end of this space.

8) Colorado Rockies P Jon Gray could be traded in the next few days; he’s had an unusual season for a Colorado pitcher:
— He has a 3.14 ERA in 10 home starts, which are at Coors Field
— He has a 4.54 ERA in seven road starts

7) Last four years, Northwestern’s football team has an 11-3 record in conference games that were decided by one score (8 or fewer points). On the other hand, Iowa Hawkeyes have a 6-11 record in one-core games over the last four years.

6) 31 states and Washington DC currently have legalized sports betting.

5) Favorites to have the fewest regular season wins in the NFL this fall:
5-2— Texans
7-2— Lions
15-2— Bengals
8-1— Jets
11-1— Raiders

4) Jets don’t have a quarterback on their roster who has thrown an NFL pass.

3) Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo turned down a 5-year, $70M contract this spring; will be curious where he winds up next season and how much money he’ll be making.

Trivia answer:
Rusty Staub was a great hitter; he had:
— 792 hits for Houston
— 709 hits for the Mets
— 582 hits for Detroit
— 531 hits for the Montreal Expos.

Only player ever with 500+ hits for four different teams.

2) When NFL teams make their final roster cuts, if there is a close decision between two players and one player is vaccinated and the other isn’t, could that be a deciding factor?

Teams that get to the 85% threshold are going to have advantages as far as how normal their day-to-day operation runs. You wonder if that will factor in at all.

1) In his first 10 starts this year, San Diego’s Joe Musgrove was 4-4, 2.59; then, on May 30, the Padres scripted that Musgrove would relieve starter Blake Snell in a day game in Houston, due to the San Diego bullpen having been overworked the few days before.

But Houston led 7-0 after three innings; Musgrove relieved Snell anyway, even though the game was a lost cause- he blanked the Astros for five innings in a 7-3 loss.

Since that day, Musgrove is 0-2, 5.06 in eight starts. Any connection? Impossible to tell, but it sure didn’t help any. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Mets 7, Pirates 6:
— Michael Conforto hit the game-winning homer in the 9th inning.
— Pittsburgh scored 6 runs in first inning, never scored again.
— Travis Blankenhorn homered for the Mets, the 451st player to do that.
— Mets TV guy Gary Thorne called Conforto’s home run Sunday; back in 2004, while working for ESPN, Thorne called a home run that Conforto hit in the Little League World Series. 

12) Milwaukee Bucks try to win the NBA title at home Tuesday night, so the Brewers moved their home game with Kansas City to Tuesday afternoon.

11) If you to make a money line wager on the Super Bowl, it is AFC -130, NFC +110.

10) Only 10 of 32 NFL teams have the same head coach they had four years ago.

9) Texas Longhorns fired HC Tom Herman last winter, after he went 32-18 in four years, 22-13 in Big X games, 4-0 in bowls; Herman is now an assistant coach with the Chicago Bears.

8) White Sox P Carlos Rodon has three games this season with 10+ strikeouts and no walks; before this season, in 92 career starts, he had done that once.

7) Atlanta Braves are actually trying to compete for a playoff spot; they acquired Joc Peterson and Stephen Vogt to fortify their lineup. 12 days til the trade deadline; what else will happen?

6) Jockeys at Saratoga were telling TV guys that they think racehorses are running faster this year, with fans back in the stands. Hopefully the horses I wager on Wednesday will be thrilled by my presence and will run very, very fast.

5) Saturday, the Cubs used five pitchers in their 4-2 win at Arizona; all five pitchers walked the first batter they faced, the first time that has happened in a big league game since Texas used five pitchers who also walked their first batter in a game at Toronto in June, 1980.

4) Fantasy baseball update; over the last five weeks, the catchers who were active on my fantasy team have gone a combined 3 for 55. Thats an .055 batting average. Not good.

3) SEC football media days are on TV during the day this week; if it never stops raining here, it could provide some interesting daytime TV viewing, as coaches try to be sociable and convince people they’re not workaholic control freaks. Good luck there.

2) Odd Fact of the Day: El Paso, Texas is 746 miles from Houston, Texas; El Paso is actually closer to San Diego (725 miles) than it is to Houston. Go figure.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Mets, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: San Diego @ Los Angeles
AL: Red Sox, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Oakland @ Tampa Bay

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Good news for baseball fans in Canada; Blue Jays return to Toronto July 30, their first true home game since 2019. 

12) Bucks 123, Suns 119:
— Milwaukee leads series, 3-2
— Phoenix led by 16 in the first half.
— Suns were minus-16 in 6:00 that Devin Booker was on bench. 

11) Atlanta Braves are 37-6 this season when they lead after 7 innings; that sounds good, until you realize that they were 23-0 last season, when they led after 7 innings. Atlanta is 8-20 this season in games where the winning run scores in last three innings.

When recently-acquired Stephen Vogt goes behind the plate for Atlanta  in the next few days, he’ll become the 7th catcher the Braves have used this season.

10) Cubs 4, Arizona 2— Willson Contreras hit game-winning homer in 9th inning, sending the Snakes to their 52nd loss in last 62 games.

9) Padres’ 2B Jake Cronenworth hit for cycle Friday night, first player since Brooks Robinson in 1960 to play in the All-Star Game, then hit for the cycle in his first regular season game after the All-Star Game. Those two and Joe DiMaggio are only three players to do it.

8) Who is the Houston Texans’ starting QB? It is July 18, and no one seems to know. ESPN’s Adam Schefter wrote Friday that he thinks Deshaun Watson is done in Houston- if that is true, then Tyrod Taylor would likely be Houston’s starting QB in Week 1.

7) Cincinnati Bengals’ QB coach is a guy named Dan Pitcher, an unusual name for a QB coach, but it could be worse. There have been big league pitchers named:

Bob Walk, Homer Bailey, Grant Balfour.

6) Angels have a new TV play-by-play guy; Rich Waltz, who did Marlins’ game for lot of years. He is really good at his job- he also does college hoop on CBS Sports Network. Major upgrade for Angels games, fur sure.

5) Brandon Staley is the new head coach of the Chargers; five years ago, he was the defensive coordinator at John Carroll U, a D-3 program in Ohio. Life moves fast…….

4) Last three years, New Jersey Jets are 5-19 SU on road, 8-16 ATS; last two years, Jets are 0-4 ATS as a favorite. This year they have a new coach and they figure to be starting a rookie QB, so it could be another long year, but at least one that could build to a positive future.

3) Vikings play their home games in a dome now, but their last two road games this year are at Chicago December 20, at Green Bay January 2nd, both night games. Brilliant scheduling.

2) When Jacksonville Jaguars visit Seattle on Halloween, Seahawks’ last two OC’s will be in the visitors’ coaching booth. Brian Schottenheimer, Darren Bevell both work for the Jaguars now; do they have any special insight into defending Russell Wilson?

1) There are few series this weekend where teams are playing each other who also played each other the series before the All-Stsr Game: Mets-Pirates, Angels-Seattle, Reds-Brewers, Tigers-Twins. Not sure why they did it that way. Three of those four matchups are division rivalries.

Saturday’s Den: Big 14 football knowledge

Illinois
— New coach Bielema was 37-19 SU in Big 14 games at Wisconsin, from 2006-12.
— Bielema later went 11-29 SU in SEC games at Arkansas.
— Last nine years, Illinois is 14-25 ATS as a road underdog.
— Illini lost last two bowls, haven’t won one since 2011, their last winning year.

Indiana
— Hoosiers went 14-7 SU last 2 years, after going 36-62 previous eight years.
— HC Allen is 17-4 ATS if home team is favored, 8-13 if road team is favored.
— Under Allen, Indiana is 18-6 ATS coming off a win.
— Indiana lost its last six bowls; their last bowl win was 1991.

Iowa
— Last eight years, Iowa is 19-5-1 ATS as road favorites. 
— Last three years, Hawkeyes were +9/+9/+9 in turnovers.
— Iowa covered 7 of its last 8 non-conference games.
— Hawkeyes won last three bowls, scoring 34.3 ppg.

Maryland
— HC Locksley was 8-43 SU at New Mexico, is 6-17 SU here.
— Last 6 years, Maryland is 23-41 SU; their last bowl was 2016.
— Last 5 years, Terps are 5-13 ATS as a road underdog.
— Terps lost last three bowls; their last bowl win was 2010.

Michigan
— Harbaugh is 9-17 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last five years, Michigan is 4-10 ATS off a loss.
— Since 2013, Wolverines are 12-22-1 ATS out of conference.
— Michigan lost its last four bowls, giving up 34.8 ppg.

Michigan State
— 2013-15, Spartans were 36-5 SU; since then, they’re 29-29 SU.
— Last three years, MSU is 2-15 ATS at home, 1-10 as a favorite.
— Spartans are 2-7-1 ATS in last ten games as an underdog.
— Over last decade, MSU is 9-2 ATS on neutral fields.

Minnesota
— Gophers were 3-4 LY, with two losses in overtime.
— HC Fleck is 27-15-2 ATS on road, 22-23 at home.
— Last 7 years, Minnesota is 22-10 ATS coming off a loss.
— Gophers won their last four bowls, were underdog in 3 of them.

Nebraska
— Four straight losing seasons, going 16-28 SU.
— Last 8 years, Nebraska is 14-25-1 ATS as home favorites.
— Last 4 years, they’re 2-7 ATS out of conference.
— Junior QB Martinez has 27 starts; they have 3 starters back on OL. 

Northwestern
— Under Fitzgerald, Wildcats are 37-17 ATS as road underdogs.
— New QB Hilinski started 11 games at South Carolina.
— Last five years, Wildcats are 15-9-1 ATS coming off a loss.
— Northwestern won its last four bowls, scoring 30.3 ppg.

Ohio State
— This is first time since 1952 Ohio St doesn’t have QB that has thrown a college pass.
— HC Day is 14-5 ATS as a favorite.
— Last 5 years, Buckeyes are 56-7 SU, with +45 turnover ratio.
— Special teams slipped to #104 LY; previous 5 years, they were #32 or better.

Penn State
— Started 0-5 LY, giving up 36 ppg, then won last four games.
— Last 6 years, Penn State is 3-17 ATS coming off a loss.
— Nittany Lions have a junior QB with 20 career starts.
— Franklin went 24-15 SU at Vanderbilt; he’s a good coach. 

Purdue
— Last three years, Purdue is 1-7 ATS as home favorites.
— Last three years, Purdue is 7-3 ATS as home underdogs.
— HC Brohm is 19-10-1 ATS as an underdog.
— Purdue is 3-2 SU in last 5 bowls; average total 78.

Rutgers
— Rutgers hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2014.
— Last six years, Scarlet Knights are 16-43 SU.
— HC Schiano is 26-16-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— 2018-19, Rutgers was minus-27 in turnovers; LY, they were +5.

Wisconsin
— Last three years, Badgers are 5-11 ATS as home favorites.
— Last eight years, Badgers are 20-9 ATS as road favorites.
— Last two years, Wisconsin is 0-6 ATS coming off a loss.
— HC Chryst won six of his eight bowl games.