Wednesday’s Den: Random baseball knowledge……..

13) When Rickey Henderson was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, 28 people didn’t vote for him; how the BLEEP could you not vote for Rickey Henderson?

Well, he’s not alone; here are some other great ballplayers, and how many people didn’t vote for them to be inducted in Cooperstown.

Note: Mariano Rivera is the Hall of Fame’s only unanimous choice.

43— Mickey Mantle (43 people didn’t vote for Mantle???)
23— Willie Mays, Stan Musial
20— Ted Williams, Steve Carlton
16— Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, Greg Maddux
13— Tony Gwynn
11— Babe Ruth
9— Hank Aaron, George Brett
5— Tom Seaver

You get the point; Hall of Fame voting becomes personal, which is wrong.

12) There are unusual parallels between the careers of Sandy Koufax/Clayton Kershaw:

— Koufax led the NL in ERA five times.
Kershaw led the NL in ERA five times.

— Koufax led the NL in WHIP four times.
Kershaw led the NL in WHIP four times.

— Koufax won three Cy Young awards and an MVP.
Kershaw has won three Cy Young awards and an MVP.

— Koufax had a career record of 165-87
Kershaw has a career record of 187-84.

There are also a couple differences:
— Koufax threw 137 complete games, including 54 his last two seasons.
Kershaw has only 25 complete games in his career.

— Koufax was a good basketball player; he made the team at U of Cincinnati as a walk-on, later earned a partial scholarship.
Kershaw was a center on his high school football team; the QB on that team was Matthew Stafford. 

12) Koufax had a weird major league career:
— First six years: 103 starts- 36-40, 4.10. 683 K’s in 691.2 IP
— Last six years: 211 starts- 129-47, 2.19. 1,713 K’s in 1,632.2 IP

He retired when he was 30, after a 27-9, 1.73 season. 

11) Who was the first pitcher to strike out 3,000+ hitters, while walking less than 1,000?

Ferguson Jenkins pitched for 19 years in the big leagues, winning 284 games. Career ERA of 3.34, career WHIP of 1.14. Hell of a pitcher. 

10) Detroit Tigers’ star Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off homer in his first MLB game; his next double will make him the fifth player ever with 500+ homers, 600+ doubles.

Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012, hitting .330 with 44 homers, 139 RBI

9) In 2004, Barry Bonds was walked intentionally 120 times; before that, the record for most intentional walks was held by another Giant, Willie McCovey.

McCovey got 45 intentional walks in 1969, 40 more the next year. In a game against the Mets, McCovey was walked intentionally in both the first and second innings.

Giants got really lucky in 1955; they held a tryout camp in Melbourne, FL, which is where they found both McCovey and Orlando Cepeda, two damn good players. 

8) There were 1,469 players taken in the 2001 baseball draft; Justin Verlander wasn’t one of them. Instead, he went to Old Dominion and played college ball.

Three years later, these were the first two picks of the draft:
— San Diego took P Matt Bush with the #1 pick.
— Detroit took Verlander with the #2 pick. 

7) Frank Thomas didn’t get drafted out of high school, either; instead he went to Auburn and played a few games as a backup tight end, while also playing baseball. 

When he was a sophomore, Thomas led SEC in hitting; he was the 7th pick in the 1989 draft.

Thomas was a great hitter; seven years in a row, he hit .300+, walked 100+ times, scored 100+ runs and knocked in 100+. Those 100+ walks made the 100+ RBI a lot harder to get. 

6) When he was a little kid, Brooks Robinson threw left-handed, but he broke his left arm and switched to throwing righty. Good thing for the Orioles.

Robinson was a paperboy; one of his customers was Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey.

He knocked in 118 runs in 1964, winning AL MVP. Robinson hit 268 career homers, and made the All-Star Game 15 years in a row. 

4) Good trivia: Rickey Henderson led the American League in stolen bases every year in the 1980’s, except one; in 1987, Harold Reynolds stole 60 bases, beating Willie Wilson by one steal. Henderson stole 41 bases in that injury-plagued season.

3) Frank Robinson was a great ballplayer; 586 homers, .926 career OPS, 1,829 runs scored, 1,812 more knocked in. MVP of a World Series, MVP of an all All-Star Game. Great player.

At the end of his career, Robinson was making $173,000 a year; I always wonder if guys like Robinson, great ballplayers who were born too early, resented the ludicrous money ballplayers make nowadays?

You could make the argument that Robinson is the most underrated player ever; he was also the first Black manager in the major leagues. If he was in his prime today, $173,000 would be his tipping money. 

2) When Roger Clemens was a senior in high school, he didn’t get any Division I scholarship offers, so he pitched at San Jacinto College, a junior college. He wound up pitching at Texas, became a big star, was a first round pick of the Red Sox in 1983— he got the major leagues the next season.

I saw Clemens pitch at Cooperstown, in the Hall of Fame Game; he wasn’t a big star yet, just a young prospect recovering from arm surgery (back then, just about all the pitchers from Texas had their arms operated on).

In 13 years with Boston, Clemens was 192-111, but only 40-39 the last four years. After he left Boston, Clemens went 162-73, 3.21, won four more Cy Young awards.

By way of comparison, these are the CAREER stats for Sandy Koufax:
165-87, 2.76 ERA, three Cy Young awards.

Clemens’ postseason record: 12-8, 3.75 in 34 starts, which ain’t spectacular, but boy, what an awesome career he had.

1) Willie Mays was called up to the major leagues at age 20, he was hitting .477 in AAA, with 29 extra base hits in 35 games; what took them so long?

New York Giants trailed Brooklyn by 10.5 games in August, back when there were no playoffs, just the World Series between the teams who won the NL/AL. Giants made a great run, tied the Dodgers for first place, beat them in a playoff but lost the World Series in six games.

Mays hit 660 homers, and missed two years for military service; he had a .940 OPS, scored 2.068 runs, knocked in 1,909 more.

Mays hit 523 doubles, 140 triples, 660 homers, stole 338 bases. The great writer Joe Posnanski calls him the greatest baseball player ever. Who am I to argue with that? 

Saturday’s Den: My 13 favorite TV shows…….

13) Without a Trace— Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia) runs an FBI unit specializing in missing persons investigations, while his personal life falls apart around him. Sometimes they found the people, sometimes they didn’t, which is part of what made the show so good.

12) The West Wing— Martin Sheen is the President; this show is about his staff and how they deal with the every day happenings in Washington. An excellent cast; ton of great actors passed through this show over its 7-year run. 

11) Lost In Space— This show was on in the 60’s; a space colony family struggles to survive when a spy/accidental stowaway throws their ship hopelessly off course. Dr Smith (Jonathan Harris) was the annoying stowaway who provided comic relief; his interaction with the Robot (“Danger!!! Danger!!!) were one of the highlights of the show.

One of the prized pieces of my bobblehead collection is a Robot bobblehead.

10) Addams Family— The Addams Family is not your typical family: it takes delight in most of the things of which normal people would be terrified. Gomez Adams (John Astin) is an extremely wealthy man and is able to indulge his wife Morticia’s (Carolyn Jones) every desire, whether it’s cultivation of poisonous plants or a candlelit dinner in a graveyard.

Morticia would read the stock ticker, and if Gomez lost, he would say “Easy come, easy go”

Cousin Itt, Thing, Lurch were all excellent characters.

1993, I have an emergency appendectomy; I’m in the hospital couple of days. Guy in the next hospital bed is watching Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and when they run the credits at the end of the show, I get kind of excited, because Felix Silla played one of the robots.

Felix Silla played Cousin Itt on the Addams Family; my neighbor wasn’t impressed when I gave him that bit of trivia. The nurse smiled, then checked to see if she gave me too much medication.

9) White Shadow— An NBA player retires and gets a job as a basketball coach in a inner-city high school; the uniforms that Carver High wears in this show are the same ones that the star (Ken Howard) of the show’s team wore in high school on Long Island.

The basketball scenes were very well done.

Bruce Paltrow was the show’s creator; Gwyneth Paltrow’s father.

8) Green Acres— A New York City attorney (Eddie Albert) and his city-loving wife (Eva Gabor) attempt to live as farmers in the bizarre community of Hooterville. Hank Kimball was my favorite character, playing the bumbling county agent.

My lasting memory of this show is that seemingly every time I had it on, my father would walk in the room and say “Why the hell are you watching this?” Then five minutes later, he’d be laughing harder than I was.

7) Mister Ed— A wisecracking talking horse is the star, but he only talks to the guy who owns the barn he lives in, Wilbur Post (Alan Young). Mister Ed was a big baseball fan; he once took batting practice off of the Dodgers, with Sandy Koufax on the mound.

Good trivia; Dodgers’ CF Willie Davis was Mister Ed’s favorite ballplayer.

6) M*A*S*H— The staff of an Army hospital in the Korean War find that laughter is the best way to deal with their often-horrendous situation.

Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) is the star of the show; Alda was so recognizable as Hawkeye that it probably hurt his acting career after M*A*S*H went off the air— the series finale is one of the most-watched TV shows ever.

Alda played a therapist on Ray Donovan the last couple seasons.

5) Billions— Showtime series has now finished six seasons, a U.S. Attorney goes after a hedge fund king in a battle between two powerful New York figures. Making things sticky is that the attorney’s wife (Maggie Siff) works as a psychologist for the hedge fund guy.

Lot of interesting cameos thru the years; John Malkovich, Kevin Pollak, Eric Bogosian, pro wrestler Becky Lynch, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Durant, Mark Cuban. Great show.

4) Law and Order— 20 years, 456 episodes that follow a crime (usually a murder), usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points, the police investigation and the prosecution in court.

One of the few shows that survived the stars of the show moving on and being replaced by other characters. This show was a launching pad for many acting careers; there are 26 actors who have appeared in Billions who also appeared in at least one episode of Law and Order.

3) CSI— An elite team of police forensic evidence investigation experts work their cases in Las Vegas; in real life, I searched fingerprints for ten years for the state of New York, so I know a little bit about this line of work, but what attracted me to this show was a) Las Vegas and b) the loyalty the characters had to their co-workers and their jobs.

The eulogy Gil Grissom (William Peterson) gives after Warrick Brown is murdered is one of the great speeches (albeit a short one) in television history.

2) Odd Couple— Two divorced friends who are complete opposites share an apartment; one is really neat and stuffy photographer, the other a sloppy, easy-going sportswriter.

1) Magnum PI— The adventures of a Hawaii-based private investigator (Tom Selleck), as he solves cases with the help of his buddies, TC (Roger Mosley) a helicopter pilot, club manager Rick (Larry Manetti) and Higgins (John Hillerman) who runs the estate Magnum lives on.

The parade of beautiful women as guest stars on the show was an 80’s who’s who of  Hollywood: Sharon Stone, Jill St John, Mimi Rogers, Leslie Uggams, Erin Gray, Dana Delany, to name a few.

Frank Sinatra did an episode near the end of the series; Ernest Borgnine, Carol Burnett, Cesar Romero, Ten Danson, Dennis Weaver— a long list of famous guest stars.

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

13) SEC football is still three months away, but it turned into the WWE this week, with Nick Saban/Jimbo Fisher getting into a war of words about the current state of recruiting.

Fisher’s Aggies landed seven 5-star recruits this spring, after they signed a total of five in the previous four seasons. A&M boosters ponyed up lot of cash (over $20M???) for NIL deals, which is how college sports works nowadays.

Alabama/Texas A&M meet on October 8; Crimson Tide is favored by 16, since most freshmen redshirt- their effect won’t be felt much until 2023. 

12) There is part of me whispering in the back of my head; these two are just staging this ruckus to pump up the volume for their sport in the offseason, create some buzz, but Saban is 70 years old now— recruiting is going to get tougher for him, and obviously, he knows it. 

11) WR Jordan Addison transferred from Pittsburgh to USC; he was considered the #1 player in the transfer portal. 

10) It was a good day and a bad day for the New York Mets:
Good news— Mets 7, St Louis 6 (10)— Pete Alonso hit a walk-off homer for the win.
Bad news— Max Scherzer is out 6-8 weeks with an oblique strain.

9) Mets are playing in Denver this weekend; it was 84 in Denver Thursday, but it is supposed to snow there Friday night/Saturday, with up to five inches of the white stuff expected. With their lack of pitching depth, getting games postponed ain’t going to help any. 

8) It is amusing how some hitters are whining about the new dimensions at Camden Yards; the left field fence is higher and is 20-30 feet further from home plate this season. Camden Yards is now a pretty good pitchers’ park, and obviously, hitters don’t like that. Before this season, this was one of the best hitters’ parks in baseball. 

7) Tuesday night was a rough one in Boston; Thursday was a lot better.
Celtics 127, Heat 102— Boston led 71-45 at halftime, evening series 1-1. Celtics made 20 of their 40 three-point shots.

Red Sox 12, Seattle 6— Trevor Story went 4-for-4 with three homers, five runs scored and seven RBI. He had 13 total bases for the night. Seattle’s long relievers are terrible. 

6) This brings up one of the most underrated records in baseball history; May 23, 2002, Shawn Green went 6-6 in a game, with four homers, a double, seven RBI in a 16-3 win at Milwaukee. Going to beat hard to beat that record- 19 total bases in one game. 

5) There have already been nine no-hitters in minor league baseball this season; one team, the San Antonio Missions, threw two of them in a 3-day span. Missions are the AA farm club of the San Diego Padres. 

4) Baltimore 9, New York 6— Bronx tied game in top of the 9th, but Anthony Santander walked it off with a 3-run homer down the left field line. Santander is actually having a better season at the plate this year, even with Camden Yards being a bigger ballpark.

3) Arizona 3, Cubs 1— Weird game. Zac Gallen got the win, but lasted only five innings. He threw 40 pitches in the fifth inning, but didn’t give up any runs.

Cubs’ C Willson Contreras doubled/homered in the first inning Monday night; he is 0-11 since then. 

2) St Louis Cardinals are 4-8 in their last 12 games; they’re calling up their two best minor league prospects, 2B Nolan Gorman and LHP Matthew Liberatore, who will both make their big league debuts in Pittsburgh this weekend. 

1) Minnesota sent SS prospect Royce Lewis back to AAA when Carlos Correa came off the IL, even after Lewis hit a homer and a double the day before his demotion. Lewis hit .308 in 39 AB’s for the Twins; it is hard to imagine he will be in the minor leagues for too long. 

Thursday’s Den: USFL notes and doing some thinking out loud

USFL notes:
Birmingham Stallions (5-0)
— Trailed at halftime in four of five games
— Outscored opponents 78-27 in second half.
— Outrushed last two foes 281-115
— 5-0 against spread

Houston Gamblers (1-4)
— Lost last four games.
— Led all five games at halftime
— Last four games went over total
— Outscored 73-26 in second half.

Michigan Panthers (1-4)
— Threw for 322 yards LW (total of 225 previous three games).
— 0-3 in games decided by 5 or fewer points.
— Outgained four of their five opponents.
— Their only win was 24-0 over 1-4 Pittsburgh.

New Jersey Generals (4-1)
— Won last four games, giving up 6-16-13-17 points.
— Have only two takeaways, have minus-2 turnover ratio.
— Allowed only 383 RY in four games (76.6/game)
— Covered three of their last four games.

New Orleans Breakers (3-2)
— Scored 23+ points in their wins, 13-17 in losses.
— Three of five games stayed under total
— Turned ball over eight games in last three games (minus-5)
— Trailed last three games at halftime.

Philadelphia Stars (2-3)
— Last three weeks, gave up 224.7 rushing yards/game.
— Gave up 23+ points in all five games.
— Have been outgained in every game. 

— Scored 30-26 points in wins; 17-16-17 in losses.

Pittsburgh Maulers (1-4)
— Got first win last week, on last play of game. 
— Outscored 44-28 in second half of games.
— Three of their last four games went over total.
— All four losses are by 7+ points.

Tampa Bay Bandits (3-2)
— Were hold to 3-10 points in their two losses.
— Were held scoreless in 2nd half in three of five games.
— Three of five games stayed under total.
— Were outgained in four of their five games.

Elsewhere in the world,
Golden State 112, Dallas 87— Warriors shot 56% from the floor.

Calgary 9, Edmonton 6— How do you score six goals and lose a playoff game? Flames blew a 6-2 lead, then scored last three goals of game.

Carolina 2, NY Rangers 1, OT— Hurricanes scored at 3:12 of the extra session.

Mets 11, Cardinals 4— Max Scherzer walked off mound with “left side discomfort” in sixth inning, a potentially large problem for New York.

Brewers 7, Braves 6 (11)— Keston Hiura walked it off with a two-run homer; Milwaukee tied game in bottom of 9th, with a run off Kenley Jansen.

Red Sox 5, Astros 1— Altuve led off game with a home run; Houston got one hit the rest of the way off of Nick Pivetta.

Rangers 6, Angels 5 (10)— Angels get swept by Texas; Nathaniel Lowe walked it off with a 2-run homer.

Astros’ P Jake Odorizzi avoided major injury, has sprains/strains of ligaments near his left ankle.

Pac-12 scrapped division play for their football; teams with two best winning %age in league games will play for the conference championship. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……

13) If I ran a TV network and could choose who our NFL game analysts were, I’d prefer guys who have coached. They’ve studied the game thoroughly, know it inside and out and are critical, which is essential. You never know if a former player wants to criticize guys he knows.

This season, I’d be interested in Sean Payton/Mike Zimmer, just to see what they had to offer. Jason Garrett has gotten better on USFL games this spring.

12) Dodgers swept a scheduled doubleheader at home over Arizona Tuesday; it was the first scheduled twinbill at Chavez Ravine since 1987, when a visit by the Pope necessitated s game to be postponed/rescheduled.

11) Diamondbacks are 12-7 in games decided by 1-2 runs, but they’re 6-13 in games decided by three or more runs.

10) Miami 118, Boston 107:
— Heat outscored Boston 39-14 in third quarter.
— Butler scored 17 points in that decisive quarter, had 41 for game.
— Celtics shot only 11 for 34 on the arc.
— Heat leads series, 1-0 

9) Astros 13, Red Sox 4:
— Eovaldi is third pitcher ever to allow five homers in one inning- Astros hit five taters in a 9-run second inning.
— Other two pitchers who allowed five homers in an inning: Chase Anderson in 2020 and Michael Blazek in 2017. 

8) Pittsburgh Pirates’ last three games:
Sunday, they won 1-0, but didn’t get any hits.
Monday, they lost 9-0 at Wrigley, giving up eight runs in first inning
Tuesday, they lost 7-0 at Wrigley; rough week for them. 

7) First five picks in next month’s NBA Draft:
Orlando, Oklahoma City, Houston, Sacramento, Detroit. 

6) Quote of the Day, part 2, from Aaron Judge, about the Orioles’ ballpark:
“It’s a travesty, man. I’m pretty upset. It just looks like a Create-A-Park now.”

Judge is used to pop-ups to right field being home runs; now in Baltimore they’ve moved the fences back and raised them. Harder to hit home runs there; oh well. 

5) NFL players with most running plays of 15+ yards last year:
23— Jonathan Taylor
19— Dalvin Cook
17— Nick Chubb
15— Josh Allen
13— Devin Singletary/Rashaad Penny

4) College football teams with fewest returning starters this fall:
5— Arizona State, Hawai’i, Nevada
6— FIU, Coastal Carolina
7— California, UCLA
8— Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Wisconsin, Wyoming

3) XFL games will be on ESPN and Disney channels when they start up next spring. Going to be lot of football to choose from, between them and the USFL. 

2) If you like watching the NFL, they have a one-hour special on NFL Network called “Miked Up 2021” with highlights from all over the league from last season. As usual, NFL Films does a great job with the program— they cover just about all the teams, I think.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL— Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Padres, Giants, Cardinals. 
AL— New York, Twins, Astros. Wild Cards: Angels, Rays, Blue Jays

Tuesday’s Den: Some early trends for Week 1 of the NFL season

Bills @ Rams
— Buffalo won last three road openers.
— Bills are 5-3 ATS in last eight road openers.
— Bills are 7-5 ATS last 12 games as an underdog in road openers.

— Rams won/covered last seven home openers.
— Under McVay, Rams are 5-0 SU/ATS in Week 1.
— Under is 4-2 in last six home openers.

49ers @ Bears
— Won last three road openers, scoring 31-31-41 points.
— Since 1994, they’re 2-8 ATS as a favorite in road opener.
— Under is 7-5-1 in last 13 road openers.

— Chicago started out 0-1 seven of last eight years.
— Bears won three of last four home openers.
— Under is 5-0 in their last five home openers.

Patriots @ Dolphins
— Won/covered five of last seven road openers.
— Since 1998, they’re 6-1 ATS as an underdog in road opener.
— Third straight year they’re playing Miami in Week 1.

— Over is 11-2 in Miami’s last 13 home openers.
— Dolphins are 6-4 ATS in last ten home openers.
— Since 2003, Miami is 2-5 ATS as a favorite in home opener. 

Saints @ Falcons
— Saints lost four of last five road openers.
— Since 2010, New Orleans is 2-10 ATS in road openers, 0-6 if favored.
— Under is 4-2 in their last six road openers.

— Falcons lost last two home openers, after a 14-2 SU/ATS run.
— Since 1999, Atlanta is 7-2 ATS as an underdog in home openers.
— Falcons started out 0-1 five of the last six seasons.

Ravens @ Jets
— Ravens are 9-5 ATS in last 14 road openers.
— Last six years, Baltimore is 5-1 ATS in Week 1 games.
— Last 15 years, over is 10-4-1 in their road openers.

— Jets lost last four home openers (0-4 ATS), scoring 11.8 ppg.
— Jets started out 0-1 five of last six seasons.
— Under is 4-1 in their last five home openers.

Steelers @ Bengals
— Pittsburgh is 4-1-1 SU in last six road openers.
— This is 8th straight year Steelers are opening on road.
— Their last five road openers stayed under the total.

— Bengals lost four of last six home openers.
— Cincinnati started out 1-0 five of last eight seasons.
— Over is 4-2 in their last six home openers.

Browns @ Panthers
— Cleveland is 3-0 ATS as a favorite in road openers.
— Since 2005, Browns are 0-16-1 SU in Week 1
— Under is 5-1 in their last six road openers.

— Since 2011, Panthers are 7-4 ATS in home openers.
— Last eight years, Carolina is 5-3 ATS in Week 1.
— Under is 6-3 in their last nine home openers. 

Eagles @ Lions
— Eagles lost three of last four road openers.
— Since 2005, Philly is 4-8 ATS as a favorite in road openers.
— Eagles started out 1-0 in nine of last 11 seasons.

— Detroit’s last eleven season openers went over the total.
— Since 1999, Lions are 7-4 ATS as an underdog in home openers.
— Over is 9-3 in their last dozen home openers. 

Colts @ Texans
— Colts lost 10 of their last 12 road openers.
— Indy started 0-1 seven of last eight years.
— Over is 5-1 in their last six Week 1 games.

— Texans are 8-4 in last dozen home openers.
— Houston covered its last three Week 1 games.
— Over is 3-1 in their last four Week 1 games.

Jaguars @ Commanders
— Jaguars covered four of their last five road openers.
— Jacksonville is 10-8 ATS as an underdog on road openers.
— Their last three Week 1 games went over the total.

— Washington lost eight of last ten home openers.
— Since 2009, Commanders are 1-5 ATS as a favorite in home openers.
— Over is 7-4 in their last eleven home openers.

Chiefs @ Cardinals
— Kansas City started 1-0 the last seven years, scoring 35.1 ppg.
— Chiefs won five of last seven road openers.
— Over is 7-3 in their last ten road openers.

— Arizona won its last two home openers, scoring 30-34 points.
— Average total in their last three Week 1 games: 49.7
— Under is 7-3 in their last ten home openers.

Packers @ Vikings
— Green Bay is 4-7 ATS in last eleven road openers.
— Packers allowed 31+ points in four of last five road openers.
— Over is 7-2 in their last nine road openers.

— Vikings won/covered six of last seven home openers.
— Last eight years, Minnesota is 5-3 ATS in Week 1.
— Under is 7-1 in their last eight home openers.

Raiders @ Chargers
— Raiders are 7-1-1 ATS in last nine road openers.
— Las Vegas won its Week 1 games five of last six years.
— Last 23 years, over is 14-8-1 in Raiders’ road openers.

— Chargers covered once in last five home openers.
— Bolts started out 1-0 the last three years, giving up 17.7 ppg.
— Over is 14-5 in their last nineteen home openers.

Giants @ Titans
— Giants lost 10 of their last 12 road openers.
— Giants lost last five Week 1 games, scoring 12.4 ppg.
— Since 2004, Giants are 6-9 ATS as an underdog in road openers.

— Tennessee lost six of last eight home openers.
— Since 2013, Titans are 0-5-1 ATS as a favorite in home openers.
— Under is 7-3 in their last ten home openers.

Buccaneers @ Cowboys
— Tampa Bay (-9) beat Dallas 31-29 in LY’s season opener.
— Bucs lost last two road openers, 34-23/34-24.
— Over is 10-4 in their last fourteen road openers.

— Dallas won its last five home openers (4-1 ATS)
— Last three years, Cowboys scored 35-40-41 points in home openers.
— Dallas lost five of its last eight Week 1 games.

Broncos @ Seahawks
— Broncos started 1-0 in eight of last ten seasons.
— Denver lost four of last five road openers.
— Under is 3-1 in their last four road openers.

— Since 2003, Seattle is 14-5 ATS in home openers.
— Under is 8-3 in their last eleven home openers.
— Seahawk trends reflect Russell Wilson at QB; he plays for Denver now. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

13) Pirates 1, Reds 0— Pittsburgh won the game, but didn’t get a hit; they’re 6th team since 1901 to win despite not getting any hits- it last happened in 2008, when Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo of the Angels held the Dodgers hitless, but lost anyway.

Cincinnati is 9-26; things aren’t going well for them.

Hunter Greene threw 118 pitches Sunday, the most by any pitcher in a game this season. Coming into Sunday, Greene was 0-5, 8.57 in his previous five starts. He doesn’t give up a hit in 7.1 IP here, and they still lose. 

12) Saturday/Sunday, there were seven Game 7’s, between NHL/NBA playoffs; I’m a believer that the NHL playoffs are better than the NBA version. Basketball doesn’t need seven games for each series— too many games. By the 7th game, everyone knows everyone’s plays and the games are uglier than normal games.

Playoff hockey is tremendous, where a hot goalie can keep an underdog in the hunt, and one odd bounce of the puck can send the favorite home unhappy. 

11) Calgary 3, Dallas 2 OT— Flames outshot Dallas 67-28, but Stars’ goalie Jake Oettinger was just awesome in goal, keeping his team afloat until Calgary finally scored 15:09 into overtime. 

Flames will now play their arch-rival Edmonton in playoffs for first time since 1991; this also guarantees a Canadian franchise will be in the NHL’s Final Four. Last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup was 1993, when Montreal won. 

10) Rangers 4, Penguins 3 OT— New York rallies back from down three games to one, scoring at 4:46 of OT to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

For Pittsburgh, it is the fourth year in a row they lost in first round of playoffs. Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2016, 2017, the 4th and 5th times they’ve won the title.

9) In this round of the NBA playoffs, only five of 26 games were decided by less than seven points; the series were mostly close, but the games weren’t much fun to watch- the Memphis-Golden State series was mostly an exception.

Suns were down 57-27 at HALFTIME Sunday night; at home!!! How does that happen? 

On to Week 5 of the USFL:
8) Tampa Bay 27, Michigan 20:
— Michigan outgained Bandits 407-273, but were minus-2 in turnovers.
— Michigan QB Patterson threw for 304 yards.
— Jeff Fisher’s Panthers start the season 1-4. 

7) New Jersey 27, New Orleans 17:
— Generals averaged 6.1 yards/play, outgained New Orleans 401-270.
— Breakers completed only 15-36 passes, threw two picks.
— 4-1 New Jersey leads the North Division. 

6) Birmingham 30, Philadelphia 17:
— Hometown Stallions are 5-0; they trailed in 2nd half of every game.
— Switch to QB Smith provided spark for Stallions; he threw for 203 yards.
— Birmingham ran 75 plays, Stars ran only 49. 

5) Pittsburgh 21, Houston 20:
— Maulers threw a 9-yard TD pass as time expired for the game-winning TD.
— QB Vad Lee came off bench to throw for 170 yards, two TD’s.
— Both teams are now 1-4. 

4) Not many people had heard of Vad Lee before Sunday; his given name is Lavaedeay Monlique “Vad” Lee. He started at Georgia Tech in 2013, but transferred to I-AA James Madison after that season and played there for two years. He played three games for Saskatchewan in the CFL in 2016, and then his career pretty much came to a halt. He played in the Spring League for couple of years, but now, at age 29, he is kind of in the limelight for the first time.

3) Drew Brees is apparently out at NBC after one season as a studio analyst; now he is making noise about playing again. I’m sure Roger Goodell is thrilled that a guy who has been doing TV ads for a gambling app is talking about playing ball again. 

Chances are probably better that Brees winds up doing TV on FOX.

2) Dodgers 5, Phillies 4— Gavin Lux walked it off with a 2-run double in ninth inning as LA avoided a 4-game sweep by the Phillies, who gave torrid slugger Bryce Harper the day off. 

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL— Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Padres, Giants, Cardinals.
AL— New York, Twins, Astros. Wild Cards: Angels, Rays, Blue Jays

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

— NFL Week 1 pointspreads:
Buffalo @ Rams (-1)
San Francisco (-6) @ Chicago
New England @ Miami (-3)
New Orleans (-3) @ Atlanta

Baltimore (-4) @ NJ Jets
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (-6)
Cleveland (-4.5) @ Carolina
Philadelphia (-3.5) @ Detroit

Indianapolis (-7.5) @ Houston
Jacksonville @ Washington (-4.5)
Kansas City (-3) @ Arizona
Green Bay (-1.5) @ Minnesota

LA Chargers (-4) @ Las Vegas
NJ Giants @ Tennessee (-6.5)
Tampa Bay (-2.5) @ Dallas
Denver (-3.5) @ Seattle

— Chicago Bears don’t have a road game in December; three home games and a bye.

— As if they don’t have enough problems, Houston Texans are only team that plays three games against teams that are coming off their bye week.

— Washington Commanders have an odd three-week stretch:
Week 13— @ Giants
Week 14— bye week
Week 15— vs Giants at home

Not often an NFL team plays consecutive games against the same team.

All 32 NFL teams play at least one game on a Thursday this season.

This coming season in college football:
— 66 teams have a new offensive coordinator
— 56 teams have a new defensive coordinator

Over half the I-A teams in the country have a new offensive coordinator.

— USC’s football team poached six transfers who play defense; Trojans allowed 31.8 ppg last season, which is why they changed coaches in the offseason, and why they added experienced players to try and fill some gaps.

— All told this weekend, there are seven Game 7’s in NBA/NHL playoffs.

— Toronto Maple Leafs are the first team in MLB/NBA/NHL history to lose a winner-take-all game in the opening round of the playoffs five years in a row.

In baseball………
— Phillies 8, Dodgers 3— Philly won first three games in this series, scoring 29 runs. Coming into the series, Phillies were 14-17, but they sure can score some runs.

Thursday/Friday, Phillies became the first team ever (home or visitor) to allow 7+ runs in back-to-back games at Dodger Stadium yet win both games.

— NL East standings:
Mets 23-12
Phillies 17-17
Braves 16-18
Marlins 15-18
Nationals 12-23

— Mets catcher James McCann has a wrist injury, is out for six weeks.

NL West standings:
Dodgers 20-11
Padres 21-13
Giants 20-13
Diamondbacks 18-16
Rockies 17-16

— Red Sox are 2-9 this season in games where game-winning run scored from 7th inning on.

— Braves 6, Padres 5— San Diego scored four runs in top of 8th to take 5-2 lead, then Atlanta scored four runs in bottom of 8th to win the game.

— A’s 4, Angels 3— Luis Barrera of the A’s is the second player in MLB history whose first career HR was a walkoff HR with his team trailing by more than one run and down to its last out.

The other was Hank Severeid for the St. Louis Browns on April 17, 1915. 1915!!!!

Couple nights ago around 4am, I stumbled across an old movie I had never seen: The Gong Show Movie.

Back around 1980 or so, there was a daytime game show, The Gong Show; it was American Idol on quaaludes— five or six contestants would perform, but very few of them had actual talent.

There were three celebrity judges; if one of them hit the gong before your act was over, you had to leave. If you made it to the end, you would get scored by the judges and there was a winner for each show. Can’t remember what they got, but it wasn’t much.

The host was Chuck Barris, who created the Dating Game and put the Newlywed Game on ABC also; he was a TV genius, but he was a little…….quirky. As host of The Gong Show, he was in a world of his own, dancing during acts, misreading cue cards. It was bizarre at times.

They had this guy, The Unknown Comic, who would come on stage couple times a week and tell jokes; he always had a paper bag over his head. Occasionally his jokes would have to be bleeped out; they were off-color.

Another guy was Gene Gene the Dancing Machine; he would come on stage and just start dancing until they were to a commercial, for no apparent reason.

The Gong Show TV show was awesome, it was great fun. 20-year old me loved it. The movie didn’t have as many censors; it also wasn’t as funny, but I did laugh several times. It was like catching up with an old friend, a friend who often made you shake your head in disbelief. 

Saturday’s Den: Looking at AFC schedules…….

Baltimore
— Weeks 1-4, they play the four AFC East teams.
— Three primetime games, 14 games are at 1:00.
— Bye week is Week 10.
— Their three AFC North road games are in December/January.
— Ravens lost five games LY by 3 or less points; can they go from worst to first in AFC North?

Buffalo
— Open season with night games vs Rams/Tennessee.
— Five of their first seven games are against 2021 playoff teams.
— Bye week is Week 7, kind of early.
— Bills have three short-week road games.
— Four of their six AFC East games are in December/January.

Cincinnati
— AFC champs get five prime-time games this year, two on Monday nights.
— Four of their first six games are on the road.
— Bye is in Week 10.
— They have three 4:25 Sunday games, high-profile tilts vs Cowboys-Chiefs-Bucs.
— Over/under win total of 9.5 signals this franchise’s improvement with Burrow at QB.

Cleveland
— Most important thing: when will Deshaun Watson be eligible to play?
— Browns open at Carolina, a rumored destination for Baker Mayfield.
— Bye is in Week 9.
— Weeks 10-14, they’re on road four of five weeks.
— Week 13 they visit Houston, Watson’s old team. 

Denver
— Week 1, Russell Wilson goes back to Seattle on a Monday night.
— Four of their first six games are in primetime.
— Bye week is Week 9.
— Their two games with Chiefs are in Weeks 14-17.
— Play Rams at SoFi Stadium on Christmas Day.

Houston
— Texans start season against Colts, end season against Colts.
— Only primetime game is Week 9 vs Philly, a Thursday night.
— Bye week is Week 6.
— Week 3 Jaguars visit Chicago, the team Lovie Smith led to a Super Bowl.
— Old friend Deshaun Watson visits with Cleveland in Week 13.

Indianapolis
— Old friend Carson Wentz visits Indianapolis in Week 8
— Four primetime games for Colts, three of them after Thanksgiving.
— Their bye week is Week 14.
— Potential cold weather game at the Giants in Week 17.
— Colts have lost six in row at Foxboro by average of 19 ppg; they visit Patriots in Week 9.

Jacksonville
— First game for new coach Pederson? Against his old QB, Carson Wentz, who is also on a new team (Washington).
— Three of their first four games are on the road.
— Pederson visits his old team, the Eagles, in Week 4.
— Jaguars’ bye week is Week 11.
— Only primetime game is Week 16 (December 22) at the Jets. Bundle up.

Kansas City
— Open in Week 1 at Arizona, site of this season’s Super Bowl.
— Play in primetime five times, including three of first five weeks.
— On road three weeks in row, Weeks 13-15.
— Bye week is Week 8.
— Have five road games in domed stadiums.

Las Vegas
— Week 15, coach McDaniels’ old team visits Las Vegas, the Patriots.
— Weeks 14-16, Raiders play all three games in primetime.
— Bye week is Week 6, very early.
— Week 8. Raiders visit New Orleans/former Raiders coach Dennis Allen.
— Christmas Eve night game in Pittsburgh could be frosty.

LA Chargers
— Open season with two big rivals (Raiders/Chiefs).
— Five primetime games; league has high expectation for the Bolts.
— Bye week is in Week 8.
— Week 17 “home” game is against their landlord, the Rams.
— Week 18 in Denver is likely to be a cold weather game.

Miami
— Dolphins are 3-point home favorite in Week 1 vs New England.
— Miami has December road games in Buffalo, Foxboro.
— Bye week is in Week 11.
— Dolphins will see former coach Flores; they host Steelers in Week 7.
— Miami visits coach McDaniel’s old team, the 49ers, in Week 13. 

New England
— Open season with road games at Miami, Pittsburgh.
— Play four straight primetime games, Weeks 12-15 (three on road)
— Only one 4:25 game all season, Week 4 at Green Bay.
— Bye week is in Week 10.
— Two games vs Bills are in Weeks 13-18; January 8 in Buffalo should be fun.

Jets
— Jets lost last four home openers; they host Ravens in Week 1.
— Only primetime game is Week 16 (December 22) vs Jaguars.
— Their bye week is in Week 10.
— Jets play Patriots in Week 8, Bills in Week 9, then a bye and Patriots again.
— Week 13 at Minnesota is their only game in a dome this year.

Pittsburgh
— Open season with Bengals, Patriots, Browns; tough start.
— Bengals won last meeting with Steelers 41-10, then said Steelers “gave up”
— Bye week is Week 9; will rookie QB Pickett be starter by then?
— Two games with Ravens are in Weeks 14-17.
— Have five primetime games, three of them on road.

Tennessee
— Titans are -6.5 in Week 1 vs Giants, 2nd-biggest Week 1 favorite.
— Have four primetime games, three of them on road.
— Their bye week is in Week 6, an early one.
— Titans visit Philly in Week 13; they traded WR AJ Brown there last month.
— Two games with Colts are early, Weeks 4, 7. 

Friday’s Den: Thoughts on the NFC schedules

— Week 1 starts on a Thursday with Buffalo visiting the Super Bowl champion Rams; it ends on Monday, with  Russell Wilson going back to Seattle to see his old friends, the Seahawks.

Matthew Stafford’s brother-in-law is an assistant coach with Buffalo.

— Six divisional games in Week 1, which seems like more than usual:
Saints-Falcons
Steelers-Bengals
Colts-Texans
Patriots-Dolphins
Raiders-Chargers
Packers-Vikings

— Thanksgiving games:
Buffalo @ Detroit, Giants @ Dallas, New England @ Minnesota.

Byes seem to be later than in previous seasons. 

Here are some notes for each team’s schedule.
NFC teams:
Arizona
— Play only four games outdoors this season; 13 dome games.
— Cold weather game in Week 15, at Denver.
— Don’t leave home in Weeks 11-14; three home games and a bye
— Bye is in Week 13
— Three of their last four games are on road.

Atlanta
— Week 10 Thursday game vs Carolina is only night game for either team.
— Falcons-Panthers play in weeks 8-10.
— Weeks 2-3 they’ll be on west coast, visiting Rams/Seattle.
— Bye is in Week 14
— NFL isn’t expecting much from them; 16 games at 1:00 local time.

Carolina
— Week 1 vs Cleveland; which team will Baker Mayfield be on?
— Four of their first five games are at home.
— Bye is in Week 13.
— Week 10 Thursday game vs Carolina is only night game for either team.
— They’re on road three weeks in row (Weeks 3-5).

Chicago
— Have three night games in first seven weeks (Wks 2-6-7)
— Visit New Jersey twice (Week 4 vs Giants, Week 12 vs Jets)
— Bye is in Week 14
— Weeks 13-16, they’ve got three home games and a bye.
— Play four road games in domed stadiums. 

Dallas
— Mike McCarthy visits his old team/Lambeau Field in Week 10
— Three of their last four games are on road.
— Dallas is at home three of first four games.
— They’re also at home in Weeks 12-14.
— Bye week is Week 9

Detroit
— 17 games scheduled at 1:00; not a lot of faith there.
— Thanksgiving game is against Buffalo.
— Bye week is Week 6, pretty early.
— Have cold weather games at Jets (Week 15), Packers (Week 18)
— Are at home Weeks 12-14.

Green Bay
— Play Giants in London in Week 5
— Don’t have bye the next week; they host Jets instead.
— After Jet game, they’re on road more three weeks in row.
— Have five primetime games, only five 1:00 games.
— Their bye week is Week 14.

Rams
— Open season against Buffalo at home on a Thursday.
— Have 10 games at SoFi; Charger game January 1 is an away game.
— Have only one 1;00 game, Week 11 in New Orleans.
— Bye week is Week 7, earlier than you’d expect.
— December 19 Monday night game in Green Bay is genius scheduling. 

Minnesota
— Close with two cold weather games, at Green Bay, at Chicago.
— Play four of their first five games at home.
— Week 9 at Washington; Kirk Cousins against his old team.
— Bye week is Week 7.
— Week 5, they play Saints in England, then host Chicago in Week 6. In past, almost all the teams that played overseas had bye week the next week.

NJ Giants
— Open season at Tennessee; their next true road game is Week 7 at Jaguars.
— Week 5 they play Green Bay in London.
— All four games vs Washington/Philly are after December 1st.
— Both games vs Dallas are on national TV, as usual.
— Bye week is Week 9.

New Orleans
— Weeks 1-3, they play their three NFC South rivals.
— Week 4, they play the Vikings in London.
— Bye week isn’t Week 14.
— Week 8 they play Raiders, the team Dennis Allen used to coach.
— Have cold weather games in Cleveland (Week 16), Philly (Week 17)

Philadelphia
— They’re on road three weeks in row, Weeks 14-16
— Visit Indianapolis in Week 11, Nick Sirianni’s old stomping grounds.
— Play old friend Carson Wentz/Commanders in Week 3-10.
— Bye week is in Week 7.
— Have five road games in domed stadiums. 

San Francisco
— Visit Rams October 30; their next true road game is December 15.
— Play the Cardinals in Mexico City November 21.
— Weeks 5-6, they visit Carolina/Atlanta, will probably stay east the whole time.
— Bye week is in Week 9.
— Play five primetime games, one vs each NFC West rival.

Seattle
— Old friend Russell Wilson visits Seattle on Monday night in Week 1.
— Play four of their last five games at home.
— Play Buccaneers in Germany in Week 10.
— Their bye week is in Week 11.
— Travel 29,125 miles this season, most of any team.

Tampa Bay
— Open with dome games (Cowboys/Saints) in Weeks 1-2.
— Play at home in Weeks 3-5.
— Play five primetime games, three at home.
— Bye week is Week 11, after the game in Germany.
— November 27 in Cleveland could be a cold weather game.

Washington
— Both primetime games are on road, at Bears/Eagles.
— Three of their last four games are at home.
— Their bye week is in Week 14.
— Carson Wentz plays Eagles twice (weeks 3-10), visits Colts in Week 8.
— Play four road games in domed stadiums.

I’ll have thoughts on the AFC schedules tomorrow. 

Thursday’s Den: USFL notes, and other stuff…….

After this week, USFL regular season will be half over.

Birmingham Stallions (4-0)
— Trailed at halftime in three of four games
— Outscored opponents 62-27 in second half.
— 4-0 against spread

Houston Gamblers (1-3)
— Lost last three games.
— Led all four games at halftime
— Last three games went over total
— Outscored 58-16 in second half.

Michigan Panthers (1-3)
— Last two weeks, threw for 65-51 yards.
— Last two weeks, ran for 244-250 yards.
— Three of four games stayed under total
— Losses are by 1-4-5 points.

New Jersey Generals (3-1)
— Won last three games, giving up 6-16-13 points.
— Have only one takeaway, none in last three games.
— Allowed only 268 RY in four games (67/game)

New Orleans Breakers (3-1)
— Last two games, were minus-6 in turnovers (1-7)
— Three of four games stayed under total
— Outgained Houston last week, 523-155, won only 23-16

Philadelphia Stars (2-2)
— Last two weeks, gave up 269-250 rushing yards.
— Gave up 23+ points in all four games.
— Have been outgained in every game.

Pittsburgh Maulers (0-4)
— Only winless team; they’re 1-2-1 ATS.
— Outscored 34-13 in second half of games.
— Gained 256 or less yards in three of four games.
— All four losses are by 7+ points.

Tampa Bay Bandits (2-2)
— Have been outscored 28-13 in second half of games.
— Were held scoreless in 2nd half in three of four games.
— Three of four games stayed under total.
— Minus-6 in turnovers (1-7)

Elsewhere in the world………
— In my next life, I want to sell hockey jerseys in Canada; watching the Dallas-Calgary game last night, had to be 80-90% of the fans were wearing Flames jerseys, the real ones.

— Seven of first eight 1st-round playoff series are going to a sixth game, good news for the NHL’s accountants. Colorado Avalanche are only team that has advanced to the second round.

— When the Angels beat Tampa Bay 12-0 Tuesday, Rays used a position player to pitch the bottom of the 8th, so Angels’ 3B Anthony Rendon batted lefty, for the first time in his ten major league seasons. 4,528 plate appearances, all right-handed.

He hit a home run to right-center, a fairly long one. Batting lefty.

— Wednesday’s Cleveland-Chicago game was postponed; Guardians have COVID issues.

— Christian Yelich hit for the cycle Wednesday for the third time in his career; all three came against Cincinnati. Yelich is the 6th major league to hit for the cycle three times- the others:

Bob Meusel, Babe Herman, John Reilly, Adrian Beltre, Trea Turner

— I’m getting whacked in fantasy baseball this week; other team has Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani— good team.

Trout has been traded twice in our league; who trades Mike Trout?

— Since 2000, Clemson has had 11 WR’s drafted by the NFL, more than any other school; Alabama, LSU, Ohio State are next on that list, with 10 each.

— RIP Bob Lanier, 73 who passed away this week.

Lanier played 14 years in the NBA, making eight All Star Games; he led St Bonaventure to the 1970 Final Four, but he got hurt at the end of the East Region final and never played in the Final Four. He got hurt in a collision with Villanova G Chris Ford, who would later be his teammate with the Detroit Pistons.

Lanier scored 20,492 points in his career; the Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and St Bonaventure all retired his number. He was a great ballplayer. RIP, sir.

— Braves 5, Red Sox 3— Orlando Arcia hit a walk-off homer, giving Atlanta its first walk-off win this season. Red Sox are 11-20 and in last place in AL East.

— Reds 14, Brewers 11— Cincinnati is 4-2 in its last six games, after a 3-22 start.

— Marlins 11, Arizona 3— Miami blew 3-1 lead in 8th inning, then scored eight runs in top of the ninth. Alcantara allowed only one run in seven IP for Miami, but didn’t get the win.

— Rays 4, Angels 2 (10)— Taylor Ward tied game with 8th inning homer, but Tampa scored twice in 10th inning to salvage a game in this 3-game series.

— Houston-Minnesota game was suspended in 4th inning because of cruddy weather; game will resume this afternoon, followed by the regularly scheduled game.

Bucks 110, Celtics 107:
— Milwaukee ended game on a 31-17 run.
— Giannis scored 40 points, grabbed 11 rebounds.
— Celtics bench shot 11-13 from floor, was a combined +18.
— Bucks lead series, 3-2

Grizzlies 134, Warriors 95:
— Spineless effort by Golden State; they were down 52 after three quarters.
— Memphis made 18 of 41 3-pointers.
— Golden State still leads series, 3-2

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) Watching Winning Time on HBO the last couple months, the story of the 1980’s Lakers, got me to thinking about how the franchise is run— it isn’t a normal pro sports franchise, which you can see from how Dr Jerry Buss ran things. His daughter Jeannie is now in charge, and she does things pretty much the same way.

Lakers won the NBA title two years ago, but they were 33-49 this year, with the league’s 4th-highest payroll. This was the Lakers’ 7th losing season the last nine years, and now there are rumblings that Phil Jackson/Earvin Johnson are back involved with the team as consultants.

Curious to see where they turn for a new head coach. 

12) When Pittsburgh beat the Dodgers Monday night, they ended a 16-game losing streak against Los Angeles, a streak that went back four years.

It was also the first win by a Pirate starting pitcher (Jose Quintana) this season, in their 28th game, the longest-such drought to begin a season in big league history (previous record was 21).

It was also Quintana’s first win in his last 21 starts.

11) Sounds like Broncos at Rams is the 4:30 game on Christmas Day; this will be the first time the NFL goes with three games on Christmas. Schedule comes out Thursday night.

10) RB Sony Michel, who helped the Rams win a Super Bowl three short months ago, signed with the Miami Dolphins this week.

9) Heat 120, 76ers 85:
— Miami led by 12 at half, outscored 76ers 39-19 in 4th quarter.
— Sixers’ bench shot 10-32 from floor.
— Seven Miami players scored in double figures.
— Heat leads series, 3-2

8) Suns 110, Mavericks 80:
— Phoenix outscored Dallas 33-14 in 4th quarter.
— Mavericks had two starters who didn’t score a point.
— Suns had eight different guys who were +10 or better. 

7) This was posted on Twitter by James Smyth; active players with the most career home runs, who don’t have a walk-off homer:
269— JD Martinez
199— Eugenio Suarez
172— Yadier Molina
171— Brendan Belt

6) Angels 12, Rays 0:
— Reid Detmers throws a no-hitter in his 11th big league start.
— Detmers walked one guy, struck out two, threw 108 pitches.
— Last two nights, Angels outscored Tampa Bay 23-3. 

5) December 11 in Brooklyn, there will be a college basketball twinbill at Barclays Center; St Bonaventure-Iona, UMass-Hofstra. Not a bad card.

4) 44 prospects were invited to the NBA’s G-League camp; I’m not sure if people know how really difficult it to make to an NBA roster. You have to be GREAT at something (shooting is always marketable); going to NBA Summer League a few times, you see guys who were really good college players who have trouble getting significant minutes at the next level.

3) Former Ohio State QB Cardale Jones signed with the Edmonton Elks of the CFL; Jones played one game in the NFL, for Buffalo against the Jets, the last week in 2016.

2) Chris Flexen has started six games on the mound for the Mariners this season; Seattle was shut out in four of the six games, scored only one run in a fifth game. Not good.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: San Diego, San Francisco, St Louis
AL: Bronx, Twins, Angels. Wild Cards: Houston, Tampa Bay, Toronto 

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

13) Someday, NFL Films should do a special with a behind-the-scenes look at how they make the NFL schedule; would be fascinating TV.

Who gets what primetime games, the Thanksgiving/Christmas games. Apparently when Tom Brady un-retired, the schedule makers had to scramble and put the Buccaneers back in the mix for prominent time slots. Russell Wilson getting traded, Aaron Rodgers staying in Green Bay all play into what games get the most national TV exposure. 

12) Speaking of which, NFL announced their Week 2 Monday night schedule:
7:00— Tennessee @ Buffalo
8:30— Minnesota @ Philadelphia

League didn’t get very good TV ratings when the nightcap of their twin bills were 10:30 starts out west, so they’ve been scratched. The NFL definitely cares about its TV ratings. League has to figure that after the Buffalo game ends, viewers will switch over for the second half of the game in Philadelphia. 

11) Boston 116, Milwaukee 108:
— Tatum/Horford both scored 30 points for the Celtics.
— Giannis was 14-32 from floor; other four Milwaukee starters were combined 17-45
— Series is tied 2-2; the NBA’s accountants are happy- they like longer series. 

10) Golden State assistant coach Mike Brown was named new head coach of the Sacramento Kings Monday, then he announced he is staying with the Warriors thru the end of the playoffs. 

Then Golden State coach Steve Kerr tested positive for COVID and Brown was named interim coach of the Warriors until Kerr returns.

So, the Warriors are being coached by Sacramento’s coach; that’s a new one.

9) Warriors 101, Grizzlies 98:
— Warriors outscored Memphis 39-29 in 4th quarter.
— Ja Morant (knee) didn’t play for Memphis.
— Memphis was +13 in 27:00 Adams played, minus-16 in 21:00 he sat out. 

8) Cubs 6, Padres 0:
— Cubs played Sunday night at home, then had this game in San Diego; tough scheduling spot.
— Kyle Hendricks threw 116 pitches, pitched 8.2 IP of shutout ball for Chicago.
— San Diego had only three hits. 

7) I’m in a 14-team fantasy baseball league, with 29 guys on each team, so that is 406 players in our league. Pretty deep league.

Last week, the two Players of the Week were Tampa Bay’s Manuel Margot, Milwaukee’s Rowdy Tellez, neither of whom was on a roster in our league when last week started.

Tellez got picked up during the week; Margot is still out there. Lot of skeptics. 

6) NHL’s New York Islanders fired coach Barry Trotz; team was 37-35-10 this season, missing playoffs for first time in four years under Trotz.

My cousin and his son, who are avid Islander fans, are shocked/dismayed by this move. In four years as the team’s coach, Trotz was 152-102-34 in regular season, 28-21 in the playoffs. In his 23-year career as a head coach, he is 914-670-60-168.

Trotz won the Stanley Cup in Washington four years ago, then got canned by the Caps, which was also weird. Must be an interesting story why all this happened.

5) Detroit Mercy G Antoine Davis entered the transfer portal this spring, which was odd, since his dad is Detroit’s coach, but now he’s announced that he is staying with the Titans.

This past season, Davis was 3rd in the nation in scoring at 23.9 ppg, and he was co-Horizon League Player of the Year- he’s scored 2,734 points in his career, 22nd all-time in NCAA history. Shooting is marketable, for sure. 

Davis made four official visits in the last month, to Maryland, BYU, Georgetown and Kansas State, but he decided to stay home and help his dad keep his job. 

4) Guardians 12, White Sox 9 (11)
— Cleveland tied game with six runs in ninth inning
— Josh Naylor hit a grand slam in 9th inning, 3-run homer in 11th.
— Naylor became the first player since RBI’s became official in 1920 to have eight RBI’s from the eighth inning on in a game.

3) Atlanta Falcons have $62M in dead money on their salary cap for this coming season; that is 30% of their payroll, but once 2022 is over, they can get back to regular business. 

2) Duke poached a couple of transfers this week, from Harvard and Northwestern, both coached by Duke alums. That should make alumni gatherings a little more fun.

1) From 1986-2002, Dell Curry played in the NBA, scoring 12,670 points for five teams, mostly the Charlotte Hornets; he is now a TV analyst for the Hornets.

Dell Curry went to college at Virginia Tech; he scored 19 ppg in four years with the Hokies. Curry has two sons who were very good high school players, but Virginia Tech didn’t recruit either one of them. This was a mistake. Really big mistake.

Seth Curry is in his 9th NBA season; he started his college career at Liberty, was also poached by Duke, where he played for three years, scoring 17.5 ppg as a senior.

Steph Curry is one of the greatest shooters ever, if not the best. He played three years in college at Davidson, scoring 28.6 ppg in his last year there. His exploits in the NBA are well known.

Seth Greenberg was Virginia Tech’s coach back then; this helps explain why he is a TV analyst now. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Interesting day of baseball Sunday; in seven of 18 games, the winning run scored from the 7th inning on- that’s a lot of close games for one day. 

12) Padres 3, Marlins 2:
— Trailing 2-0, San Diego scored three runs in 9th inning.
— Former Marlin Jorge Alfaro hit a 3-run, pinch-hit, walk-off homer.
— Padres won nine of their last 12 games. 

11) Angels 5, Nationals 4:
— Halos scored three times in bottom of 9th.
— Ohtani tied game with 2-run double, Rendon won it with a single.
— Angels are 11-4 in their last fifteen games. 

10) White Sox 3, Red Sox 2:
— Keuchel allowed only two runs in six IP.
— Boston was 1-11 with runners in scoring position.
— Red Sox lost five in row, 14 of last 18 games.

9) Astros 5, Tigers 0:
— Detroit went 0-4 in Houston, scoring total of six runs.
— Odorizzi threw 5 scoreless IP, allowing three baserunners.
— Aledmys Diaz hit a grand slam in third inning. 

8) 76ers 116, Heat 108:
— Embiid had 24 points, 11 rebounds; he is turning into this generation’s Willis Reed, playing with a broken orbital bone in his eye.
— Harden scored 31 points, with 7 boards, 9 assists.
— Home side has won all four series games. 

7) Mavericks 111, Suns 101:
— Dallas was 20-44 on the arc, 18-41 inside arc.
— Mavericks were +16 in the 34:00 Kleber came off bench.
— Home side has won all four series games.

6) HBO’s series Winning Time ended its first season Sunday night, the series about the 1980’s Lakers. I have no idea what to make of it, how much of it is true/false, but it was interesting.

This I’m pretty sure of; hopefully Jerry West will sue the people who made this series. The hatchet job they did on him is kind of weird; they try to make him look like a raving lunatic.

5) Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, the Lakers beat the 76ers without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who hurt his ankle. Here is what actually happened in the game:
— Lakers won 123-107; game was 60-60 at halftime.
— Magic Johnson played center, scored 42 points, had 15 rebounds.
— Lakers were 33-35 on foul line, Philly 13-22. The game was in Philadelphia.

4) Here is how much the NBA has changed in the last 42 years; those two teams combined to shoot 0-8 from the arc. For the whole game.

In Sunday night’s Miami-Philly game, teams combined to make 23-68 3-pointers.

3) Baylor QB Gerry Bohanon transferred to South Florida; he threw for 2,237 yards for 12-2 Baylor last year, tossing 18 TD’s, with 7 INTs. He also ran for 321 yards. 

2) New Orleans 23, Houston 16:
— Both teams made a field goal longer than 50 yards.
— Breakers ran 73 plays for 523 yards; Houston 46 plays for 155 yards.
— New Orleans won despite a minus-4 turnover ratio (0-4

1) Thru four weeks, 3-1 New Jersey leads the North Division; Birmingham is 4-0 in the South, a game ahead of the Breakers. 0-4 Pittsburgh is the lone winless team.

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) An 80-1 shot won the Kentucky Derby Saturday, 2nd-biggest underdog ever to win the Run for the Roses (in 1913, a 91-1 shot won). The overhead shot of the race is fascinating to watch, the route the winning jockey took to get his horse from 17th on the far turn to winning the race.

Winning jockey made $186,000 for his two minutes’ work; of that money, his agent gets 25% of it ($46,500), the valet gets $9,300 (5%). 

12) When the NFL schedule comes out on Thursday, remember that the 17th game is AFC vs NFC, with these divisional matchups:
AFC East @ NFC West
AFC North @ NFC East
AFC South @ NFC North
AFC West @ NFC South

Not necessarily Week 18 games, just the extra game for each team, from the way the schedule used to be made out. Last year AFC teams had nine home games; this year NFC teams do. 

11) Thru Friday’s games, major league hitters were batting .233 this season, the lowest batting average ever for a season. In 1968, batters hit .237, then they lowered the mound. In 1888 and 1908, they hit .239. Banning shifts next year will cause batting averages to go up.

10) Astros 3, Tigers 2:
— Houston beats the Tigers 3-2 for the third day in a row.
— Detroit has scored 2 or fewer runs in 14 of their 26 games.

9) Milwaukee Brewers are 18-1 when they score 3+ runs, 14-0 when they score 5+ runs.

8) Last year, Seattle Mariners went 90-72; they were 33-19 in one-run games, which is really good, but also hard to duplicate. Regression was expected.

So far this season, Seattle is off to a 12-16 start; they’re 3-5 in one run games. Mariners have lost 10 of their last 11 games. Things aren’t looking good. 

7) Minnesota 1, Oakland 0— A’s allowed total of six runs in last three games, but lost all three- they’ve lost eight games in a row overall. Going to be a long summer in Oakland. 

6) Dodgers 7-6, Cubs 0-2— Chicago scored total of 11 runs in their last eight games; they’re 9-17. What is this franchise doing? Chicago is a huge market; how are they running their franchise like this? Cubs have their own TV network that costs money to watch; who is ponying up money to watch this bunch of scrubs? 

5) Bucks 103, Celtics 101:
— Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 42 points, had 12 rebounds, 8 assists.
— Jayson Tatum was only 4-19 from the floor.
— Milwaukee leads series, 2-1

4) Golden State 142, Memphis 112:
— Warriors shot 63% from floor, made 17-32 on arc.
— Golden State had two subs who were +33/+30.
— Warriors lead series, 2-1.

3) USFL regular season is being played entirely in Birmingham, but their playoffs will have a much cooler location; Canton, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

2) Birmingham 16, Tampa Bay 10:
— Birmingham outscored Bandits 9-0 in second half.
— Hometown Stallions improve to 4-0.
— Birmingham out rushed Tampa Bay, 126-53

1) New Jersey 21, Pittsburgh 13:
— Generals win for the third week in a row.
— Maulers are scoring only 9 ppg in their 0-4 start.
— Two New Jersey QB’s combined to complete 20-24 passes, for 200 yards.