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

13) Back in my college days, I had a summer job in an office; they hired six of us for the summer. At the end of the summer, you handed in a letter of resignation and went back to school.

One of the guys I worked with didn’t know about the whole letter of resignation thing; he thought we were kidding him, but we got down to the last afternoon and he hadn’t done it yet.

Finally he heard enough about the resignation letter; he goes over to a desk, rips a page out of a looseleaf notebook, takes a Sharpie and writes “I QUIT!!!!” in very large letters and signs it, as he makes his final exit from the office, throwing the letter on our boss’s desk.

Somewhere in the archives of New York State, that letter is still in a box somewhere. 

12) Colorado Rockies’ SS Trevor Story is a free agent this winter; he’s going to get a big contract from someone. Story grew up in Irving, TX, right near where the Texas Rangers play.

Rockies are visiting Dallas this week; I always wonder if any little conversations take place during trips this week, with Texas people trying to recruit Story to hop aboard next year.

He hit two homers for Colorado last night; if the Rangers aren’t interested, they should be.

11) QB Kyle Shurmur was 18-27/206 for the Bengals Sunday, in their 29-26 home loss to the Dolphins. Shurmur played college ball at Vanderbilt; his dad is Pat Shurmur, former coach of the Giants, and now Denver’s offensive coordinator.

Bengals visit Denver December 19; Pat Shurmur visits his old team next week when the Broncos open the 2021 season against the Giants.

10) 49ers’ rookie QB Trey Lance chipped a bone in his hand, will be out for a week, making it look like Jimmy Garoppolo will start the 49ers’ opener in Detroit.

9) 49ers open their season in Detroit, then they’ll spend the week at Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, staying east before they visit the Eagles in Week 2. 

Long road trip to start the season; both their opponents have first-time head coaches.

8) Shohei Ohtani was supposed to pitch for the Angels tonight, but his start got pushed back after the was hit on the pitching hand while batting over the weekend.

7) Oklahoma was actually going to start its football season at Tulane, but because of the horrific hurricane, the game will now be played in Norman. 

Tulane moved its athletic department’s offices to Birmingham, AL

6) Tennessee coach Josh Heupel announced that QB Joe Milton would start for the Volunteers in their opener vs Bowling Green Thursday. Milton is a transfer from Michigan.

5) Pittsburgh Pirates fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein Monday; must be his fault the Pirates are a terrible team. Pirates did have a guy leading the majors in hits (Adam Frazier) but they gave him away to San Diego. I’m guessing Eckstein didn’t make that trade.

4) If you have Showtime, the great series Billions resumes Sunday night; it got interrupted during Season 5 when the pandemic happened.

3) Kirby Puckett is the only modern major leaguer who had two games with six hits; another guy did it over 100 years ago.

2) During the winter here in New York, I complain a lot about the 10-12 days when it snows a lot here, how it messes everything up. Snow sucks, but then you see the incredible destruction from the hurricane in Louisiana, and snow doesn’t seem so bad.

1) Today is cutdown day in the NFL; 864 players are going to lose their jobs, many of them to be signed to practice squads, or with other teams. Very busy day for NFL front offices; the cruddy teams will try to add players the better teams cut, to bolster their roster. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Javier Baez is making $11,600,000 this season; he’s been on the Mets for a month, playing in 17 games but he went out of his way to create one of the biggest PR debacles in quite some time this weekend. He is a free agent after the season, which may now be a problem for him.

Baez said this to the media Sunday: “To let them know when we don’t get success, we’re going to get booed. So they’re going to get booed when we have success” basically giving the finger to fans who express displeasure when things don’t go too well. You make $11M a year to play ball, the paying customers will run their mouths when things don’t go well.

New York Post used the term “colossal mistake”
Back page of the NY Daily News: “Mets: Go to hell, fans!”

Alrighty then; enjoy the rest of the season. 

12) Not sure what Urban Meyer is thinking about, but he played his starting QB in an exhibition game Sunday, when five of his top six offensive linemen didn’t play. Trevor Lawrence didn’t get hurt, but what’s the point? Is the experience in a preseason game that valuable?

If Lawrence gets hurt in a game like that, it is a complete disaster, seeing how they just traded his backup to Philadelphia. Keeping Lawrtence healthy should be job #1, for both winning games and selling tickets. 

11) There were murmurs this weekend that Miami Dolphins are interested in acquiring Deshaun Watson from Houston; there were other rumors that the Texans are asking for three first round picks and two second round picks, pretty steep price for a guy with lot of legal issues pending.

10) Here is a hint on NFL preseason games: some teams try to win, some teams could care less about them- they mean nothing, as far as handicapping Week 1 regular season games.

9) Pirates 4, Cardinals 3— Yoshi Tsutsugo hit a walk-off three-run homer.

8) Marlins 2, Reds 1— Jesus Luzardo had his best start for Miami, with a lot of help from the home plate umpire Edwin Moscoso, who called strikes like he had a cab outside the stadium with the meter running.

Reds’ 3B Eugenio Suarez, Reds’ skipper David Bell both got tossed; Joey Votto damn near got tossed, too.

7) A’s 3, New York 1— Tony Kemp hit a 2-run homer in bottom of the 8th, as Oakland earned a split of the four-game series. Paul Blackburn has done a solid job for the A’s subbing for the injured Chris Bassitt, who broke his cheekbone when he got hit by a line drive few weeks ago.

6) Tampa Bay is 82-48, has a 6-game lead in AL East, but the gravy train is over— no more games with the Orioles- they went 18-1 vs Baltimore this season. They have seven games left with Boston, three each with Houston/Bronx, and a 13-game stretch vs Detroit/Toronto.

5) What are the Dodgers doing? They used 3B Justin Turner to pitch the 9th inning Sunday, in a game they trailed only 5-0. Turner gave up two hits but no runs; LA is using a 2-man starting rotation, going with bullpen games the rest of the time. The Trevor Bauer situation is screwing up their pitching plans.

4) Couple of long playoff droughts in the NFL:
— Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990.
— Lions haven’t won a playoff game since 1991.

3) 3:00 Sunday I’m watching baseball- the screens go blank; no games on the baseball package, just blank screens. I call DirecTV’s help desk and get a guy who is struggling badly with English, which makes sense since it turns out he was in the Phillipines.

I explain the situation but I’m not sure he has any idea what I’m talking about; after 20 minutes of this jocularity, he decides to transfer me to a co-worker, who probably isn’t much better at English. Mercifully, the screens came back on and I thanked him, not sure for what.

2) RIP to the great actor Ed Asner, who passed away this weekend at age 91; he is best known as Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show— he then took that character and transferred it into a dramatic series (Lou Grant) based on a newspaper in Los Angeles.

RIP, sir.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Illinois (+10) 30, Nebraska 22— When your team’s coach is on the hot seat before Labor Day, that’s not good, but that is where Nebraska’s Scott Frost is after this loss. Nebraska is now 16-29 SU in its last 45 games.

Solid start for Bret Bielema with the Illini; his defense scored a TD just before halftime, a lead they never relinquished. 

12) Fresno State 45, UConn 0— Huskies appear to be something of an expansion team; they didn’t play any games last year- they were outgained 538-107 on this very hot day, with kickoff before noon local time. Why didn’t the TV folks put this game on at night?

11) UCLA 44, Hawai’i 10— Bruins host LSU next week, which will be a much truer test of their team. This game was 31-3 at halftime; UCLA ran ball for 244 yards, threw for only 148.

10) LSU’s football team got out of Baton Rouge ahead of the hurricane; they’ll be staying in Houston for the next six days, before they head to Los Angeles to play the Bruins.

9) UTEP 30, New Mexico State 3— Miners averaged 12.5 yards/pass attempt; first two times they threw the ball, they gained 50+ yards both times— one was called back by a holding penalty. Let’s just say that New Mexico State has almost no experience; they completed only 9-33 passes for the game.

8) Jacksonville Jaguars traded QB Gardner Minshew to the Eagles for a 6th-round pick; the backup to rookie QB Trevor Lawrence is now CJ Beathard, who used to play for the 49ers.

7) Ravens 37, Washington 3— Baltimore wins their 20th straight preseason game; they’re 12-3 ATS in last fifteen. This streak goes back so far that Kyle Boller played QB for the Ravens in some of those games.

6) Shohei Ohtani stole his 20th base this weekend; he has 40 homers, 20 steals, and is 8-1, 3.00 in 19 starts on the mound. No one has ever done stuff like this before.

5) Houston Astros picked up old friend Marwin Gonzalez after Boston dumped him; he is a versatile guy who hit only .211 last year, .202 this year, but he hit .264 in seven years with the Astros (2012-18).

4) Marlins’ TV posted this stat last night; players on 40-man rosters from other countries:
136—- Dominican Republic
104— Venezuela
31— Cuba

3) Was watching a Billions marathon Saturday night; am reminded that hedge fund trader Bobby Axelrod’s character was modeled after Mets owner Steve Cohen. Then I read the Mets have lost their last eight one-run games and I wonder if the Mets miss the playoffs, who will their new manager be?

If Cohen is anything like Bobby Axelrod and Mets miss the playoffs, Luis Rojas is toast.

2) By the way, the Mets retired Jerry Koosman’s #36 Saturday night; he was the Mets’ #2 pitcher during the Tom Seaver era, when they won the ’69 Series, lost the ’73 Series. Very good pitcher, great honor.

When are the Mets going to retire Dwight Gooden’s #16? He was the Seaver of his era, leading the Mets to the ’86 World Series title and ’88 playoffs. He had some personal problems off the field, but so did Koosman. Gooden’s work on the field was tremendous.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

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

13) Royals 8, Mariners 7:
— Salvador Perez hit a grand slam, his 36th homer this year.
— He already has 90 RBI, 10 more than any other season in his career.
— Seattle falls to 26-15 in one-run games. 

12) White Sox 17, Cubs 13:
— Cubs scored six in top of the first, didn’t come close to winning. They’re awful.

Baseball’s commish needs to have a chat with the Cubs’ owner; it is complete BS and a horrible look for the sport that one of their marquee franchises (their TV network is called the Marquee Network) is completely in the tank- they’re a AAA-quality team.

What chance do the Cubs have of being any better next year? The year after? They’re not the A’s, Pirates or Rays; they’re in a freakin’ big market, have a lot of cash to spend.

11) Rays 6, Orioles 3— Tampa Bay is 16-1 vs Baltimore this season.

10) Tigers 2, Blue Jays 1— Pinch-hitter Victor Reyes hit an inside-the-park homer for the game-winning run in the 8th inning for Detroit.

9) Because the minor leagues started late this year, they will also end later; rosters will expand next week, but only to 28 players, not the 40-man limit like it used to be.

8) Cincinnati Reds acquired utility guy Asdrubel Cabrera on waivers from Arizona, adding a lefty bat and putting Moustakas/Suarez’ jobs at jeopardy at the hot corner. Of course Moustakas then hit a homer for the Reds last night. Losing your job is usually good motivation.

7) Jim Furyk is the only pro golfer to break 60 twice in tournament play; he even shot a 58 at the 2016 Travelers Championship.

6) Pac-12 isn’t going to expand, which opens the door for the Big X to add two teams to its current 8-team league (Texas/Oklahoma are leaving).

Do they look east, to Cincinnati/UCF or maybe even Houston, or do they look west and poach UNLV and Brigham Young? UNLV plays in brand-new Alliance Stadium now; their program should perk up.

5) Louisville’s basketball team suspended coach Chris Mack for six games as the result of an ugly incident where Mack wanted to fire an assistant coach, who then tried to extort money from the head coach or else he would provide evidence of recruiting violations by the Cardinals.

The suspension will cost Mack roughly $221,000.

4) Southwest Airlines lost 1,000 flight attendants to early retirement during the pandemic, now they’re short-staffed, as they try and get back to a regular schedule. I’m supposed to go to Las Vegas this fall, but if they keep jerking around my schedule, I’m going to change plans— they’ve switched my flights 6 or 7 times already.

3) Saturday’s Cardinals-Saints preseason game was cancelled because of the looming hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

2) Jets 31, Eagles 31— Jets scored on a 49-yard Hail Mary on the last play, then tied the game with a 2-point play- there is no overtime in preseason. Rookie QB James Morgan threw the pass.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

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

13) San Diego Padres have lost 12 of their last 14 games; they just got swept at home by the Dodgers, scoring a total of five runs. Padres are now two games out of the second Wild Card slot. 

Blake Snell pitched his heart out in Wednesday night’s loss; he threw 122 pitches, by far most he’s thrown in the majors. He lasted 7.1 IP, also a career high, but Will Smith hit his 115th pitch over the fence to tie the game and set off one of the most unusual baseball games in recent history— it went 16 innings, didn’t end until 3:59am Thursday morning here in New York.

Will be interesting to track Snell going forward; will they give him extra rest before his next start? Does he just try harder against the Dodgers? We’ll find out. 

12) San Diego manager Jayce Tingler looked like a scrub in this game; he went thru his bench players very quickly, so much so that the Dodgers intentionally walked consecutive hitters to load the bases, to bring up the pitcher’s spot- Padres had no pinch hitters left.

11) Los Angeles Angels had to be happy as hell to get home Thursday night; they just finished a very unusual 5-city road trip, which rarely happens these days:
— They played a makeup game in the Bronx.
— They swept three games in Detroit.
— They lost 9-1/5-1 in Cleveland
— They went to Williamsport, PA and lost 3-0 to Cleveland there.
— Then they lost two of three at woeful Baltimore.

10) Read a magazine article this week about Rams’ QB Matthew Stafford, how he has an endorsement deal and had to sign 1,500 pieces of memorabilia as part of his deal. Rams’ WR Cooper Kupp was there too; I can’t imagine writing my name 1,500 times in one afternoon.

9) Phillies’ 1B Rhys Hoskins tore an abdominal muscle, is out for the year. Phillies have lost eight of their last ten games, are sliding out of playoff contention.

8) Players who have led/co-led the most rounds on PGA Tour this year:
12— Sam Burns
9— Jordan Spieth
8— Jon Rahm, Harris English

7) Tennessee Titans’ QB Ryan Tannehill is on the COVID list; going to be a dicey situation if he doesn’t get off that list fairly soon. Tennessee’s backup QB is Logan Woodside, who has never started an NFL game.

6) Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale struck out the side on 9 pitches in the 3rd inning Thursday, the 104th Immaculate Inning in MLB history- it is the third time Sale has done it.

5) Chick-fil-A has popped up as a sponsor on Mets’ TV games, raising my hopes that they’re going to become more of a presence here in New York State. There is a Chick-fil-A in the Albany airport, but you have to go thru security to get to it. 

Could use one close to my house (Wolf Rd, Central Ave……hint……)

4) Colorado 2B Brendan Rodgers has 10 homers this year; only two of them are at Coors Field, which doesn’t make much sense. His slugging %age is 90 points higher on the road.

3) Former NFL QB Philip Rivers coached his first high school football game Thursday night; his team won 49-0. Rivers coaches St. Michael Catholic in Alabama.

2) Favorites to win the NCAA basketball tourney next April:
7-1— Gonzaga
9-1— Memphis, Michigan
14-1— Kentucky, Texas, UCLA

1) Four college football games with betting lines Saturday; hard to believe it is football season already. UConn is playing; they didn’t play at all last year, so that’ll be interesting. Curious to see how much different things will be this season, if at all. 

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

13) Quite a day of major league baseball; in 12 of the 14 games, the winning run scored in the last three innings. Lot of fascinating games.
— First game was at 1:00pm; last game ended at 3:59am in San Diego.
— Dodger-Padre game was longest game under the new extra inning rules.
— Only 6 of 28 starting pitchers got a decision Wednesday.

12) Dodgers 5, Padres 3 (16):
— One of the most bizarre baseball games I’ve ever seen; it ended at 3:59am.
— Tatis tied the game with a 2-run homer in the 15th that bounced off RF Taylor’s glove; it wasn’t going to go over the fence.
— Dodgers twice walked hitters intentionally back/back to load the bases, because San Diego was out of pinch-hitters and pitchers had to pinch-hit.
— Padres didn’t get a hit from the 5th inning until the Tatis homer in the 16th.
— Dodgers issued 8 intentional walks, an all-time record.
— Total on game was 8; it was 1-1 after the 14th. Wound up as a push.

11) Giants 3, Mets 2:
— Mets hit into five double plays in first 7 innings.
— New York is 2-12 in last 14 games, all vs Dodgers/Giants.
— Starting Friday, Mets’ next 16 games are against Washington/Miami. 

10) Couple NFL teams announced their starting QB’s:
— Jaguars will start rookie QB Trevor Lawrence right off the bat.
— Broncos will start Teddy Bridgewater in their opener against the Giants.

9) LA Rams traded couple low draft picks to New England for QB Sony Michel, who scored the only TD against the Rams in the Super Bowl three years ago. Rams have injury issues at RB; starter Cam Akers tore his achilles, Darrell Henderson has a sprained thumb.

8) Mentioned the other day about only two MLB teams not having a guy with 20+ homers; Mike Yastzremski hit his 20th the other night, so now Detroit is the only team without a guy who has 20+, though they do have a guy with 500 career homers (Miguel Cabrera)

7) Rajon Rondo’s career path:
— Played college ball at Kentucky from 2004-06.
— Was first round pick of the Suns in 2006; he never played for them.
— Played for Celtics from 2006-14
— Played 46 games for Dallas in 2014-15
— Played 72 games for Sacramento in 2015-16
— Played 69 games for Chicago in 2016-17
— Played 65 games for New Orleans in 2017-18
— Played 94 games for Lakers from 2019-21
— Played 27 games for Atlanta last season
— Played 18 games for the Clippers last season
— Got traded to Memphis this summer.

6)  Weird baseball scheduling:
— Braves had Wednesday and Thursday off, which makes no sense.
— Angels-Padres play a rare 2-game weekend series; they’re not playing Sunday.

5) Josh Rosen’s career path:
— Played QB at UCLA from 2015-17
— 1st round pick of the Cardinals in 2018
— Went 3-10 as the Cardinals’ starter in 2018
— Traded to the Dolphins for two draft picks.
— Went 0-3 as Miami’s starter in 2019.
— 2020: Was on practice squad of Bucs, 49ers
— Signed up with the Falcons this week.

4) Milwaukee Bucks’ coach Mike Budenholzer parlayed the Bucks’ NBA title into a 3-year contract extension, much deserved. Milwaukee’s only other NBA title was in 1971, when they had a pretty good center (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)

3) Orioles 10, Angels 6:
— Baltimore snaps its 19-game losing skid.
— Angels led 6-5 after seven innings.
— Cedric Mullins knocked in three runs for the Birds.

2) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

1) When NFL teams make their final cuts after this weekend, 864 players will be looking for jobs; you wonder how much their vaccination status will affect their chances of finding a new job? Unvaccinated players will have to wait five days to join their new team. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Weird scheduling for the Mets; they’re near the end of a 15-game stretch, totally against the Dodgers/Giants (2-11 so far). Good news is that their next 16 games are against Washington and Miami, two non-contending teams. 

12) I’m not in favor of wagering on NFL exhibition games, but the fact is this: the Ravens have won 19 preseason games in a row- they’re 8-3 ATS in last 11.

11) Los Angeles Angels’ last five games:
— Trailed 10-2 in 6th inning, won 13-10 at Detroit
— Lost 9-1 in Cleveland
— Lost 5-1 in Cleveland
— Lost 3-0 to Cleveland in Williamsport, PA
— Whacked Orioles 14-8 in Camden Yards.

10) Am I the only person who thinks it is odd that there are three active NFL QB’s who went to college at North Dakota State? Bison are a I-AA program, albeit one of the best ones.

Carson Wentz, Easton Stick (Chargers’ backup), Trey Lance (49ers’ rookie)

9) Strange Stat of the Day: Giants/Tigers are only major league teams this season without a guy who has 20+ homers; the weird thing is, San Francisco has hit the most homers of any team in the big leagues, yet they don’t have anyone who has hit 20+. Go figure.

8) This stat is from Ralph Michaels on Twitter:

Over last 18 years, there have been 64 baseball teams that have had a winning streak of 10+ games; those teams are 35-29 (-2.6 units) in their 11th game.

7) San Diego Padres’ reliever Austin Allen has hit 17 batters this season, most ever by a reliever; the all-time mark for any pitcher is 21, so he has a chance to set that record.

6) Jacksonville Jaguars used six kickers last year, most kickers any NFL team has used since 1967, when Washington also used six, one of whom was a starting DB.

Jaguars got bad news Tuesday; rookie RB Travis Etienne hurt his foot, will likely miss the whole season this year.

5) There are already former college/NFL players on Twitter speaking out about Jacksonville hiring Urban Meyer as head coach, instead of Chiefs’ OC Eric Bieniemy. When the Jaguars suffer thru this year, and they likely will with a rookie QB, those voices will get louder.

The thing is, what if the Jaguars start winning next year or the year after? Then where will those voices be? It is easy to be critical, but you have to give them time.

4) Mariners 5, A’s 1:
— Damaging stretch here for Oakland; Saturday-Monday, they blew leads in 9th/8th/9th innings, losing all three games. Not good.
— Seattle has won nine of its last 12 games.

3) Modern baseball: When a pitching change is made during an inning now, the on-deck hitter retreats to the dugout to look at the pitcher’s delivery on a tablet, while the pitcher warms up.

2) Reds stayed a game ahead of San Diego in NL Wild Card race:
— Brewers 7, Reds 4— Reds led 4-1 in 7th inning; the bullpen imploded.
— Dodgers 5, Padres 2— First five guys in San Diego’s lineup were 0-17.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

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

13) Red Sox 8, Rangers 4 (11)— Early candidate for Bad Beat of the Week; total in this game was 9.5. Boston led 3-1 in 9th inning, Texas tied it, then Travis Shaw walked it off with an 11th-inning grand slam. He does anything but hit a homer there, game ends 5-4. 

12) San Diego Padres found a scapegoat for their current struggles; Monday they told pitching coach Larry Rothschild to take a hike. Padres have lost 9 of their last 11 games- they scored 3 or fewer runs in six of those nine losses, so by all means, fire the pitching coach.

11) Miguel Cabrera hit his 500th home run Sunday, the 28th big leaguer to do that; he’s having a Hall of Fame career. Marlins won the World Series in his rookie year, 2003, so long ago that the Marlins’ managers that year were Jeff Torborg and Jack McKeon.

10) Atlanta Braves won their last 13 road games; Cubs lost 13 of their last 14 home games.

9) Miami’s Sandy Alcantara has allowed only 3 runs in his last 22 IP, but he didn’t get much help from his teammates last week. In starts against the Braves/Reds, Miami scored a total of one run, losing both games 2-0/3-1.

8) Pirates 6, Arizona 5— This was only 7th time in 125 games that the Pirates were favored.

7) NFL has a labor dispute with its replay officials, who are separate from the game officials who are on the field. The replay officials are still working, but they want to get paid more.

6) If you’re an NFL quarterback and they replay one of your passes and TV analyst Dan Fouts says “I’m not sure what his intention was” that’s not a ringing endorsement of that QB. Fouts was obviously one of the best QB’s ever, and he’s usually not very critical.

5) Lot of rain this weekend; they had nine inches of rain in two days at Liberty National Golf Club, where the PGA Tour event was being played.

4) If they played a major league baseball game with aluminum bats, what would the final score be? You watch this Little League World Series and the kids use them. Exit velocity would go way the hell up with aluminum bats.

3) Trevor Bauer is on administrative leave, still getting paid his $28M a year as his legal issues play out. Bauer hasn’t pitched since June 28, doesn’t appear to have broken any laws, but he is on the sidelines and figures to be for the rest of the season. Dodgers have to be really thrilled about all this.

2) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

1) You see people running marathons and it doesn’t seem healthy; 26 miles is a long way to run. Hey, if I drive 26 miles, I’m looking for a drive-thru window at McDonald’s or Wendy’s. 

The idea for a marathon comes from the legend of an ancient Greek messenger who raced from the site of Marathon to Athens, a distance of 40 kilometers, nearly 25 miles, with the news of an important Greek victory over an invading army of Persians in 490 B.C. After making his announcement, the exhausted messenger collapsed and died.

See what I mean?

Monday’s Den: Quick Thoughts/Notes on NFL’s Week 1 games:

Cowboys-Buccaneers:
— Main question for Dallas is the health of QB Prescott’s shoulder.
— Last 18 years, defending Super Bowl champs are 11-4-3 ATS in Week 1 the next year.

Eagles-Falcons:
— Both head coaches in this game are first-time head coaches.
— Eagles’ QB is 2nd year QB Hurts (1-3 as starter); Falcons’ is Matt Ryan (113-92)

Steelers-Bills:
— Buffalo split its last six home openers, after an 0-13 skid.
— Should be split crowd, tough day for security guys.

Vikings-Bengals:
— Klint Kubiak is Minnesota’s 6th offensive coordinator in six years.
— Burrow hasn’t played in preseason; he got hurt November 22. Is he healthy yet?

49ers-Lions:
— How long until rookie QB Lance takes over at QB?
— New QB, new coach, new GM; they’re going to run ball more.

Cardinals-Titans:
— Lost 4 of last 5 road openers; how much will JJ Watt help the defense?
— Titans added WR Julio Jones to spruce up offense; HC Vrabel has COVID

Seahawks-Colts:
— Seattle is 3rd betting choice in NFC West, which is ludicrous/absurd.
— If he is healthy, Wentz will be Colts’ 4th #1 QB the last four years.

Chargers-Washington:
— Will Staley’s defense be as sturdy now that he is a head coach?
— QB Fitzpatrick will be starting for an NFL-record 9th team.

Jets-Panthers:
— New coach, rookie QB, opener on road; not a great scenario.
— Carolina QB Darnold faces his old team in this game.

Jaguars-Texans:
— Meyer is 0-0 as an NFL HC, 187-32 as a college coach.
— Culley is 0-0 as a HC anywhere; he was an OC once, at UTEP in 1990.

Browns-Chiefs:
— Browns are 1-8 SU last nine road openers (3-5-1 ATS); last five stayed under total.
— Teams that lost Super Bowl are 4-14 ATS in Week 1 the next year; Chiefs have won, covered last four home openers.

Dolphins-Patriots:
— Jacoby Brissett (12-20 as starter) is solid backup for 2nd year QB Tagovailoa (6-3).
— New England had #1 net punting average in NFL last season.

Packers-Saints:
— Over is 12-3 in Green Bay’s last fifteen road openers.
— Who is the new QB? Are Hill/Winston both going to play?

Broncos-Giants:
— Denver is 32-48 since Peyton Manning left; who is this year’s QB?
— Giants are 10-22 since Eli Manning left; Glennon is a solid backup to Jones.

Bears-Rams:
— QB Dalton will start in Week 1; how long before rookie Fields takes over?
— Stafford is new QB; new DC, new special teams coach. WRs are improved, defense figures to take a step back.

Ravens-Raiders:
— Baltimore won/covered its last five season openers.
— First game at Allegiant Stadium with fans; it should be lo

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Padres 4, Phillies 3 (10)
— Cronenworth hit Aaron Nola’s 117th pitch for a game-tying HR in the 9th
— Nola took a perfect game into the 7th; his brother caught for San Diego.
— Padres won game on a wild pitch in 10th inning.
— San Diego/Cincinnati are still tied for the second Wild Card slot. 

12) Under is 22-8 in NFL preseason games this summer; so far this week, road teams are 11-2 against the spread.

11) By the way, there are no overtimes in preseason games. Rams were down 17-10 last night, scored a TD with 0:15 left, then went for two, rather than settle for a tie.

10) I’m watching the Chiefs play Friday night and Patrick Mahomes runs with the ball, which probably made Andy Reid queasy. Your star QB shouldn’t be playing, much less running with the ball, where he can be hit.

9) Astros outscored Seattle 27-4 the last two days; tough weekend so far for the Mariners.

8) Ravens 20, Panthers 3— Since 2018, Baltimore is 11-0 in exhibition games, 8-3 ATS.

7) Bills 41, Bears 15— Mitch Trubisky threw for 221 yards against his old team.

6) Rams have a defensive lineman named Eric Banks who played high school ball in the Memphis area; he played basketball for current Memphis Tigers’ coach Penny Hardaway.

5) August 21, 1982, the great relief pitcher Rollie Fingers recorded his 300th career save; back then, relief pitching was different that it is now.

Closers today generally pitch the 9th inning, that’s it. In Rollie Fingers’ five busiest seasons, he AVERAGED five outs an appearance. He once came into a World Series game in the 5th inning and didn’t get taken out until the 9th.

4) In Royals-Cubs game Saturday, a KC runner was ruled safe at home because Chicago’s catcher blocked the plate illegally on a throw home, the way catchers used to block the plate. First time I saw that call since they changed the rule a few years ago.

3) Auburn’s new football coach Bryan Harsin tested positive for COVID, will be isolating for a while.

2) Positive news and we can all use positive news; Wednesday-Friday, three days in a row, over a million people got vaccine shots all three days. The more people that get vaccinated, the sooner COVID will stop being such a problem.

1) Wild Card updates:
NL: Reds/Padres are tied for 2nd slot; St Louis is 4.5 games behind, Phillies are 5 behind.
AL: A’s lead Boston by half game for 2nd slot, Seattle by 4 games, Toronto by 4.5. 

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

13) NFL preseason games aren’t usually all that interesting, but Josh Allen isn’t playing for the Bills in Chicago Saturday afternoon, so Mitch Trubisky will play QB for Buffalo. Last four years, Trubisky was 29-21 as Chicago’s starting QB. The reunion could be interesting. 

12) LA Dodgers do a hell of a job in player development:
— Max Muncy had .611 OPS in 96 games with the A’s.
Last four years, Muncy has a .909 OPS with the Dodgers. 

— Justin Turner had a .696 OPS in four years with the Mets.
Last eight years, Turner has an .885 OPS for Los Angeles.

11) Braves 3, Orioles 0:
— Max Fried threw a 90-pitch complete game for his 4th straight win.
— Atlanta has won its last 11 road games.
— Orioles lost their 16th straight game, all by 2+ runs.

10) Seattle Mariners are 26-14 in one-run games this year, which is really good.

9) Phillies 4, Padres 3:
— San Diego has lost 8 of its last 9 games.
— Machado and two coaches were tossed in 8th inning for arguing balls/strikes.
— Reds and San Diego are now tied for 2nd Wild Card slot.

8) Dodgers 3, Mets 2
— Mets lost 7 of last 8 games- they scored 21 runs in last seven games.
— Mets trail Reds/San Diego by six games in Wild Card race.

7) Atlanta Braves signed C Travis d’Arnaud to a 2-year, $16M contract extension.

6) Good news for Milwaukee Bucks’ fans; their star player Giannis Antetokounmpo bought a small stake in baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers, a signal that he’ll be staying in Wisconsin for a while. Bucks also signed his brother Thanasis to a 2-year contract.

5) In 1992, Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was the WR’s coach for the Pitt Panthers, not exactly a lucrative job. He also worked late at night as a toll collector on Pennsylvania Turnpike, and would study the Pitt playbook when there wasn’t any traffic.

4) Saw clips on Twitter Friday night; they’re already playing high school football in Tennessee. Must be nice and cool at those games.

3) Last five years, golfer Tony Finau has finished in the top 10 of 39 tournaments, but hasn’t won any of them. 39 top 10’s still adds up to a lot of money.

2) Few weeks ago, they announced that two people would host Jeopardy!, taking over for the later Alex Trebek; one of those people bowed out Friday, after word came out that the guy had previously made offensive statements.

What happens if they offer the job to Aaron Rodgers and he accepts it? Rodgers auditioned for the job earlier this year.

1) There was a story on the Interweb about the great actor Jack Nicholson, who is a huge Lakers fan. Back in the early 70’s he was filming the movie Chinatown, but when he was supposed to film one of his scenes, the Lakers were involved in a double overtime game.

Someone told director Roman Polanski that Nicholson wouldn’t come out of his trailer until the basketball game was over. “The game is in double overtime” Polanski was told.

“What the bleep in double overtime?” replied Polanski, obviously not a basketball fan.

Trivia: John Hillerman was also in Chinatown; he is best known for playing Higgins in Magnum PI

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

13) Dodgers reliever Mitch White entered Wednesday’s game, and he finished it, throwing 91 pitches in 7.1 IP, allowing only four baserunners. It was the longest relief stint by a Dodger since 1960. 

His reward? They sent him to AAA Thursday, because they’ve been playing so many bullpen games that they can’t afford to have him sitting around after he threw 91 pitches. 

12) Kershaw is hurt, Bauer is suspended (with pay), May is out for the year, Urias is hurt; this is who the Dodgers started on the mound this week:
Monday— Justin Bruihl
Tuesday— David Price
Wednesday— Justin Bruihl (again)
Thursday— Corey Knebel

11) Reds 6, Marlins 1— Joey Votto cracked a 3-run homer to back Luis Castillo’s pitching.

Some people on social media have been debating whether Votto is a Hall of Famer:
— .417 career on-base %age, which is freakin’ great.
— He’s the league in on-base %age seven times.
— 322 home runs, 1,045 RBI
— 1,265 walks- he led the league in walks five times.
— He’s scored 100+ runs five times.
— He’s been on six All-Star teams.

Definite Hall of Famer, in my opinion.

10) There are three ballplayers who are eligible for the Hall of Fame who have 3,000+ hits but haven’t been voted into the HOF:
4,256 hits— Pete Rose
3,115— Alex Rodriguez
3,020— Rafael Palmeiro

9) Angels 13, Tigers 10:
— Detroit led this game 10-2 after five innings.
— Tiger bullpen allowed 11 runs in 4.1 IP
— First four hitters in Angels’ lineup went 10-19.

8) Houston Astros are 25-25 at home this season vs teams with a losing record; if you wagered on them equally in all those games, you’d be down 21.9 units. No bueno.

7) Rays 7, Orioles 2— Baltimore has lost 15 games in a row, none of them by one run. It is their second losing streak of 14+ games this season.

Last team to have two losing streaks of 14+ games in one season? 1935 Boston Braves; one of their players was Babe Ruth, in his final season.

6) Mets are retiring Jerry Koosman’s #36 on August 28; when they going to retire Dwight Gooden’s #16?
— Koosman went 140-137 as a Met, helping them win the ’69 World Series, ’73 NL title
— Gooden went 157-85 as a Met, helping them win the ’86 World Series, ’88 NL East title.

5) Patriots 35, Eagles 0:
— Eagles QB Jalen Hurts (stomach illness) didn’t play.
— Total yardage was 486-163
— No idea what this means for the Eagles, but it sure as hell ain’t good.

4) Weird thing about these exhibition games is that often times, the teams practiced against each other for couple of days before the actual game, so there is familiarity between the players when the game happens. Have to think that helps the defenses.

3) BetMGM posted odds on New England’s 2021 season:
— +115 to make playoffs
— 7-2 to win AFC East
— 16-1 to win AFC
— 30-1 to win Super Bowl

2) Someone actually posted odds on teams to win the upcoming Little League World Series; I can’t even imagine wagering on 12-year old kids playing ball.

1) Minor league baseball game in Hartford CT Wednesday drew more fans than major league games in Tampa Bay or Miami. 

Tampa Bay has a really good team, and smart people running that team; when they wind up in Montreal, Nashville or some other city, don’t want to hear any whining from Florida.

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

13) Arizona Diamondbacks’ TV analyst Bob Brenly told a somewhat odd story on the air last night; there was guy named named Richie Ashburn who was a great ballplayer- he’s in the Hall of Fame. Played for the Phillies in the 50’s. 

Ashburn is playing one day and fouls a ball off that hits a woman in the stands in the head- the doctor comes over, they put her on a stretcher to get her medical attention, but in the meantime, Ashburn hits another foul ball and…….hits the woman while she is laying on the stretcher.

What are the odds of that?

12) I bought a new car Wednesday, first time in 14 years. Friday I’ll be trading in my beloved maroon Nissan Rogue that I’ve been driving for long time now, and I’ll pick up the keys to a new Nissan Rogue, a blue one. The old car has been making some strange noises lately, figured it was time to get a new one.

I don’t drive a whole lot, just locally; 14 years, only 44,000 miles. Most of the time I wander more than three miles away from my house, it is in an airplane to/from Las Vegas.

11) San Francisco Giants by month this season:
April: 16-10
May: 18-10
June: 16-9
July: 15-10
August: 13-4

Very consistent.

10) Then there are the Oakland A’s, who started the season 1-6, then won 13 games in a row, but now have lost five of last six games, and figure to be without Chris Bassitt for the rest of season after his facial fractures Tuesday night.

A’s are tied for the second Wild Card; they need to get home and win some games. They play their crosstown rival Giants this weekend.

9) Freddie Freeman hit for the cycle Wednesday, on his first four AB’s; it is second time he’s hit for the cycle, the only Atlanta Brave to do it twice.

8) Mets’ SS Jonathan Villar has been picked off seven times this season; no one else in the majors has been picked off more than four times.

7) As I’m typing this, Corey Seager just hit an opposite field home run for the Dodgers, and this kid, a lefty, maybe 12 years old, catches it in between bunch of people. Heck of a catch.

6) Dodgers aren’t using any of their starting pitchers against Pittsburgh this week, and they’re going to sweep the Pirates. It sucks rooting for a team that doesn’t try to win. Dodgers have now won 16 games in a row against Pittsburgh.

I root for the A’s, who have been in that boat a few times over the years; you wonder why their owner bothers to even have a team? If you’re not trying to win, go buy some other business and get involved in that. There are only 30 major league teams; they all should try to win.

5) Royals 3, Astros 2— Altuve got a clutch hit that appeared to tie the game with two out in the 9th, but Andrew Benitendi threw the runner out at the plate to end the game. Close decision for the replay ump; I would’ve called him safe, and I was rooting for the Royals.

4) Houston starter Zack Greinke tossed six innings, faced 22 hitters, threw 85 pitches, with no walks and no strikeouts. That doesn’t happen much these days.

3) Toronto Blue Jays are 9-2 in last 11 home games, 7-14 in last 21 road games.

2) Milwaukee starter Freddie Peralta left Wednesday’s game after two innings with a shoulder issue; hard to tell if he hurt it batting or not, but he whiffed just before he left the game.

Two points: #1 Peralta has been brilliant this season, going 9-3, 2.45 in 121 IP. Problem is, this is his 4th year in the major leagues, during which he has thrown: 

2018: 78.1 IP
2019: 85 IP
2020: 29.1 IP
2021: 121.1 IP

Baseball trainers believe that if you throw 20% more innings this year than last year, it greatly improves your chances of getting hurt. Peralta has thrown 412% more innings this year than last.

#2, the National League needs the DH already!!! Enough with pitchers getting hurt while they swing a bat. No one pays to watch them hit.

1) Pet peeve of mine: Third base coaches should not be allowed to be closer to home plate than the coaches’ box. One of them could get hurt. They draw the coaches’ box for a reason.

In a game last night, lefty is late on his swing and hits a sharp ground ball to his left— it drills the third base coach in the foot. The coach is probably 20 feet closer to home plate than he should be— if that ball is in the air, he could get drilled in the face with it. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Thoughts as I write this tonight are with A’s pitcher Chris Bassitt, who got hit in the face with a 100 mph line drive in the 2nd inning Tuesday; he left the field on a stretcher, with lot of blood around. Reports say his eye is OK, which is good news, but they didn’t say anything yet about facial fractures. 

12) Detroit Lions released long-snapper Don Muhlbach Tuesday on his 40th birthday; he played in 260 games for Detroit during his 17-year career. Only 36 players in NFL history have played more games than Muhlbach; kicker Jason Hanson is only Detroit Lion to play more games.

11) Rockies 7, Padres 3— San Diego leads the Reds by 1.5 games for the second Wild Card slot, but they’re 1-6 in their last seven games, and 17-17 this season vs Arizona/Colorado, two teams they should be cleaning up on.

10) Seattle Seahawks gave S Jamal Adams a four-year, $70M deal, making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. $38M of the money is guaranteed.

9) Philadelphia 76ers gave Joel Embiid a 4-year, $196M deal, that is $49M a year, $597,561.97 per game. Basketball centers do better than football safeties.

8) Clippers traded G Patrick Beverley to Memphis the other day, then Memphis traded him to Minnesota Tuesday. Kick in the teeth to get traded twice in three days.

7) Reds’ 1B Joey Votto got his 2,000th career hit Monday night.

There are four players who made their major league debut after 1990, who hit 300+ home runs and got 2,000+ hits, while playing their entire career for just one team.
— Jeff Bagwell, Astros
— Chipper Jones, Braves
— Todd Helton, Rockies
— Joey Votto, Reds

6) Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino has homered in five straight games.

5) Reds/Cubs will play in the Field of Dreams game in Iowa next August 11th.

4) Northwestern named Hunter Johnson its starting QB; he transferred to Northwestern from Clemson in 2018. He threw 108 passes for the Wildcats in 2019 but didn’t play at all LY.

Johnson beat out South Carolina transfer Ryan Hilinski for the starting job.

3) So far this summer, under the total is 14-3 in NFL exhibition games.

2) Giants 3, Mets 2: New York has lost five in a row- they’re 59-60 and fading fast. 

When Pete Alonso hit a triple in the 5th inning Monday night, it was the Mets’ first triple in 68 games, the longest stretch for a team without a triple in over 100 years.

1) The game show The Price is Right turned 50 years old recently; I was a kid when it started on weekday afternoons, it was on right before Match Game. Watched it all the time.

Time flies, man. 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but……

13) For the purposes of today’s article, we’re going to define a “close win/loss” as one decided by 7 or fewer points.

Over the past 12 years, 84 NFL teams were minus-3 or worse in close games for a season; for instance, last year the Falcons were 1-8 in games decided by 7 or fewer points, that would be minus-7.

Of those 84 teams, 68 of them had a better record the next year, 14 had a worse record, two had the same record the next year.

These teams were minus-3 or worse last year in close games:
Atlanta 1-8 in close games, 4-12 overall. 2021 total: 7
Houston 2-7 (4-12) 2021 total: 5
Bengals 1-5-1 (4-11-1) 2021 total: 6.5
Jaguars 1-5 (1-15) 2021 total: 6
Washington 2-5 (7-9) 2021 total: 8
Panthers 3-6 (5-11) 2021 total: 7.5

12) I got an e-mail the other day: “Bankruptcy could solve your problem!!!” which got me to thinking: 

— What exactly is my problem?
— What do “they” know that I don’t?
— Does everyone get this many useless e-mails?

Oy.

11) Arizona P Tyler Gilbert threw a no-hitter in his first big league start; first thought that flashed thru my head was “Hey kid, its all downhill from here. LOL”

Gilbert’s next start is at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Good luck with that one.

10) I watch a ton of baseball on TV and there are lots of gambling-related commercials on these games now, mostly with pretty blondes encouraging you to “have some skin in the game”

My question is this: If baseball has embraced gambling this openly., when does Pete Rose get re-instated and put in the Hall of Fame? Kind of hypocritical to have him banned now.

9) 27 of last 29 years, a college football team that was unranked before the season wound up in the top 10 at the end of the season. Only exceptions were last year and 2016.

8) Five teams got #1 votes in this year’s preseason college football poll: Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia.

7) Indiana Hoosiers are ranked #17 in the preseason poll, first time they’ve been ranked in the preseason top 25 since 1968.

6) ESPN hired Alex Smith as an NFL analyst; the guy played 14 years in the league (99-67-1 record as a starter), should provide lot of good insight into what goes on during NFL games.

5) My fantasy baseball league is a weekly format; you play head/head Monday-Sunday. My team is very mediocre (8-9-1) in large part because I’ve done a putrid job of finding a catcher who can hit his way out a paper bag. There just aren’t many catchers who can hit.

In 18 games, I’ve had six different catchers active; have had three other on my roster who never were activated— one of those is a minor league prospect who hopefully ends all this BS next year. Very frustrating, but very few big league catchers are good hitters.

4) San Diego Padres lost P Yu Darvish, signed struggling P Jake Arrieta to replace him, but he’s been doing so badly, the Cubs didn’t even want him. Not sure how much Arrieta will help.

3) Quick reminder that when you draft your fantasy football teams, make sure your QB’s don’t have their bye the same week.

2) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: San Diego @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Oakland @ Boston

1) I was surprised by this stat Monday:
— In 1960, 36% of Americans were 18 years old or younger.
— Today, only 22% of Americans are 18 or younger.