Friday’s Den: Happy Canada Day!!!

To our neighbors to the north, Happy Canada Day.

Unusually busy day for a summer Thursday…….
13) USC/UCLA are jumping from the Pac-12 to the Big 14 (Big 16 now?), crippling the Pac-12 Conference. College sports are off the rails with greed; looks like the Big 16/SEC are going to be two super conferences, with other schools scrambling to climb aboard, or find the next best thing.

This catches me completely by surprise; had no idea it was in the works. Changes the landscape of college sports, in a big way. 

12) Where does the Pac-10 go from here? Add San Diego State/UNLV to replace the LA schools? Or Fresno State? Gonzaga (doesn’t have football)? Boise State?

Or does the rest of the Pac-10 jump ship and hook up with the Big X? Crazy stuff. 

11) NBA free agency started Thursday night; ridiculous sums of money are being tossed around.

Kyrie Irving opted in for his $36.9M deal for next year. Three days later, Kevin Durant asks for a trade; go figure. Ben Simmons is supposed to make $33M, but he never plays. Nets must’ve been a fun group to hang out with this past season. 

Durant makes $44.1M this year, $47.7M next year, $51.2M in 2024-25. Going to take quite a haul of players to trade Durant and keep the payrolls balanced within the salary cap.

By the way, in an 82-game season, $51.2M works out to $624,390.24 per game; Durant will be 36 when that season starts. 

10) Zion Williamson is supposed to make $13,534,817 this season; so far in his three-year NBA career, he’s missed 63.4% of the Pelicans’ games with injuries.

9) Portland Trailblazers signed Anfernee Simons to a 4-year extension worth $100M; last year was the first time in his 4-year career he scored more than 8.3 ppg. He scored 17.3 ppg in 57 games (30 starts), shooting 40.5% on the arc. 

8) Bradley Beal re-upped with Washington for five years, $251M. Lot of cabbage for a team that, over the last four years, is 126-182. 

7) Phoenix Suns are going to sign Devin Booker to a 4-year, $214M contract, which works out to $53.5M a year, $652,439 a game.

Denver Nuggets signed Nikola Jokic to a 5-year, $264M supermax extension, the biggest contract in NBA history

Pretty sure I’m going to cancel my NBA package on DirecTV; they obviously don’t need my $300 anymore. Guys making $652,439 a game is a bit much; what would Kareem or Wilt be making if they played today? What would Jordan be making?

6) There was a weird play in the Pirates-Nationals game the other day; because Washington didn’t know a rule, they cost themselves a run, in a game they wound up losing 8-7.

Top of the 5th, Pirates had guys on 2nd and 3rd, one out. Batter hits a soft line drive that the first baseman catches; both runners took off on contact, the 1B throws to third, where they tag the runner coming down from second. Inning over.

Problem is, because Washington never appealed that the runner on third left early, his run counted. Had they appealed his leaving early, the “4th out” would’ve prevented the run from scoring. 

5) Giancarlo Stanton went 2-4 with two singles Thursday; they were his first singles since June 12 (72 AB’s ago). In his last 17 games, Stanton is 8-51 with six home runs. He also hit a line shot right at the shortstop for an out- it went 116 mph— he looked way better last night. 

4) Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is the only baseball commissioner who played Little League baseball; he grew up in Rome, NY, wound up playing tennis in high school.

3) Miami Marlins fired VP of player development Gary Dembo Thursday; Dembo was the first person Derek Jeter hired when he was running the Miami franchise. Now with Jeter gone, Dembo was also told to take a hike. 

2) Auburn-Memphis are playing a non-conference basketball game in Atlanta December 10.

By the time that game is played, who knows what league Memphis will be in.

1) USFL championship game, at Canton, OH:
Philadelphia Stars (7-4)
— Stars won six of last eight games.
— Last eight weeks, they’re +11 in turnovers.
— Gave up 23+ points in nine of 11 games (over 6-2 last eight).
— Were outgained in every game but their three games vs New Jersey.
— 2-3 ATS as an underdog.
— 6-1 if they score more than 17 points. 

Birmingham Stallions (10-1)
— Led 21-14 at half last week, most first half points they scored this year.
— Trailed at halftime in five of their 11 games
— Outscored opponents 143-79 in second half.
— 1-4 vs spread the last five weeks (6-0 first six weeks)
— Four of their last six games went over the total.
— Stallions are favored for 11th time in 12 games (6-4 ATS as a favorite)

First meeting:
— Stallions (-6) beat Philly 30-17 in Week 5.
— Stars led 17-14 at the half; Birmingham outscored them 16-0 in second half.
— Birmingham outgained Philly 377-253; both teams had two turnovers. 

Thursday’s Den: Our first look at the 2022 college football season

13) Before I post my first college football notes for the 2022 season, I added a piece to the daily baseball page: bullpen usage for the last three days, for every team.

With rosters now restricted to 13 pitchers, bullpens are going to be more taxed; we might see more position players pitching now. Teams can only use a position player as a pitcher if they trail by 6+ runs. 

12) There are 42 bowl games this season, plus the national championship game, which is in Los Angeles, at SoFi Stadium. 

11) College coaching can be lucrative; the offensive coordinator at Auburn makes $800,000 a year, the defensive coordinator $1M a year. The head coach makes $5.1M a year.

10) Clemson lost both its coordinators from last year; Brent Venables was the DC for the last ten years, Tony Elliott the OC for the last seven years. Big shoes to fill for a team that went 10-3 LY; at Clemson these days, 10-3 is a disappointment.

9) How will the Pac-12 do this season? Over the last eight years, only 2 of the 32 teams in the college football playoff have been from the Pac-12.

With Lincoln Riley jumping from Oklahoma to USC, big things are expected from the Trojans, but they were 4-8 last year, giving up 38 ppg during their season-ending 4-game losing skid. 

8) Texas went 5-7 in Steve Sarkisian’s first year in Austin, giving up 36.1 ppg over their last seven games. Longhorns lost three games that they led by double digits in the third quarter. Bringing in former TCU coach Gary Patterson as an assistant should help things some. 

7) Brian Kelly jumped from Notre Dame to LSU; he is 284-97-2 as a head coach. LSU is 11-12 the last two seasons, after their 15-0 season when Joe Burrow led them to a national title. Burrow is in Cincinnati now; LSU had only 39 scholarship players when they lost 42-20 to Kansas State
in their bowl game last January.

LSU had a lot of roster turnover; even their kicker left early for the pros. 

6) Kelly is one of 29 new head coaches in college football this season; there were 18 last year. 

5) After a 1-4 start, Western Kentucky won seven of its last eight games, scoring 41+ points seven times. WKU led the country last year, with 85 plays of 20+ yards, but the QB is gone and the offensive coordinator also left. Hilltoppers have a new defensive coordinator for the third year in a row. 

4) Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders is entering his fourth season as the Cowboys’ starter; OSU went 12-2 last year, with their losses by 24-21/21-16 scores. Cowboys gave up 509 passing yards in their 37-35 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.

3) Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker threw for 31 TD’s, only 3 INTs last year, but the Vols were only 7-6 in Josh Heupel’s first season as coach, giving up 31+ points in all six losses. Tennessee gave up 500+ yards in five games last year. 

Opponents converted 42.1% of their third down plays last year; for Tennessee’s defense to make a leap and for the Vols to be better than 7-6 this year, that number has to go way down. 

2) Nebraska went 1-8 in the Big 14 LY, but all eight losses were by single digit margins; they scored as many points (239) as they gave up in conference games. 

Nebraska has had four consecutive losing seasons, yet Scott Frost is still the coach, despite his 15-29 record; he hit the transfer portal hard, bringing in former Texas QB Casey Thompson to work with his new OC, Mark Whipple.

Nebraska opens the season in Ireland, against Northwestern; they also play Oklahoma before conference play starts. 

1) Former NFL lineman and TV analyst Tony Siragusa died on Wednesday, at age 55; he helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl in 2000, after playing seven years for the Colts. He played 12 years in the NFL, despite being undrafted out of college at Pittsburgh.

He was very good as a TV analyst, often working from field level; he even tried his hand at acting— he was on The Sopranos. RIP, sir. 

Wednesday’s Den: Turning points to think about…….

There are turning points in all walks of life; if this hadn’t have happened, then that wouldn’t have followed. The flowchart of life takes some interesting turns. Here are some memorable turning points that I remember:

13) In 1965, Richard Nixon was offered a $100,000 salary and an unlimited expense account to become commissioner of baseball. He turned it down: “Don’t tell Pat. She’d kill me for turning you down.” Pat was Mrs Nixon. 

The history of our country would be vastly different had he accepted the job. 

12) 1984 NBA Draft; Houston Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick; that turned out very well. Houston won a couple of NBA titles.

Portland then took Sam Bowie with the #2 pick; he played 10 years in the NBA, but started only 349 games, scoring 10.9 ppg.

History of the NBA would be a little different if Portland had chosen the guy the Bulls took with the #3 pick that year— Michael Jordan. 

11) In 2006, Nick Saban was coaching the Miami Dolphins; they went 9-7 in his first season, but were looking for a QB to upgrade from Gus Frerotte. There was a free agent QB who had played for the Chargers, going 30-28 as San Diego’s starter. QB was well-regarded, but he tore his labrum in his shoulder in 2005, and the Chargers had a young Philip Rivers, so they moved on to the younger QB.

Miami’s team physician recommended passing on the free agent QB, so they signed Daunte Culpepper instead. Culpepper played four games for the Dolphins.

Imagine how football would be different had the Dolphins signed Drew Brees:
a) Saints might’ve never won a Super Bowl.
b) Saban would probably still be coaching the Dolphins and never would’ve gone to Alabama, where he became, arguably, the best coach in college football history. 

10) Robert Irsay bought the Los Angeles Rams on July 13, 1972; he then immediately traded the franchise to Carroll Rosenbloom, who was the owner of the Baltimore Colts. Rosenbloom made the deal in part because he saved $4.4M in taxes.

— 11 years later, Irsay moved the Colts to Indianapolis, right after he drafted John Elway and traded him to Denver.
— Irsay’s son Jim now owns the Colts; he is a much better owner than his dad was.
— In 1979, Rosenbloom died in a swimming accident; his wife Georgia inherited the team, and in 1995, moved the Rams to her hometown of St Louis.
— After Georgia Frontiere died (Rosenbloom was her 6th husband, Dominic Frontiere her 7th) Stan Kroenke bought her 70% of the team and moved the team back to Los Angeles.
— As of 2019, according to Forbes Magazine, the Rams were worth $3.8B, the Colts #2.65B. After last season, Rams might be worth more now.

9) Dell Curry played 16 years in the NBA, scoring 12,670 points; he played his college ball at Virginia Tech,  not a traditional hoop power.

Curry’s two sons were pretty good high school players, but Virginia Tech didn’t recruit either one of them. Bad move. 

Seth Curry started at Liberty, then transferred to Duke; he’s scored 11.3 ppg in his eight years in the NBA.

Steph Curry played college ball at Davidson; they made the Elite 8 in 2008, while Virginia Tech made the NCAA Tournament once in Seth Greenberg’s nine years as the Hokies’ coach.

Greenberg does a very good job as ESPN’s studio analyst, but had he recruited Steph Curry, he might still be coaching Virginia Tech.

Steph Curry, obviously, is an all-time great in the NBA, one of only seven players ever to win 4+ championships and 2+ MVP awards. 

8) Speaking of Steph Curry, he was the 7th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Smart move. Golden State has won four championships in the Curry/Klay Thompson era. Warriors are 101-54 in playoff games, since they drafted Curry.

Minnesota Timberwolves had the 5th and 6th picks that season; they needed guards but took Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn instead of Curry. Bad move.

In 13 years since then, Minnesota has made the playoffs twice, going 3-8 in playoff games. 

7) In the fall of 1979, Jack McKinney was coach of the Los Angeles Lakers; they had a rookie point guard named Earvin Johnson, and were off to a 10-4 start. On an off day, McKinney went out for a bike ride but had an accident and had a brain injury. He never coached the Lakers again, though he did coach the Pacers/Kings down the road.

Paul Westhead took over from McKinney; Lakers won the NBA title that year, but two years later, he had a falling out with Earvin Johnson and the Lakers fired him, after a 7-4 start.

The new coach was Pat Riley, who prior to McKinney’s bike accident, was the color analyst on Lakers’ radio broadcasts. Riley turned out to be one of the best coaches in NBA history (he won five NBA titles) and is still running the Miami Heat franchise, but the fact is, had McKinney’s bike accident never happened, Riley may have never gotten his chance to be a coach. 

6) August 12, 1987, the Detroit Tigers acquired P Doyle Alexander from the Atlanta Braves, trading away a minor league pitcher. Guy named Smoltz.

Detroit went 98-64 in 1987, winning the AL East; they lost the ALCS to Minnesota, but this was only the second time Detroit had made the playoffs in 15 years. They didn’t make the playoffs again until 2006.

Meanwhile, John Smoltz went on to a Hall of Fame career, winning 213 games and saving 154 others; dealing Alexander in 1987, when Atlanta went 69-92, helped the Braves make the playoffs 14 times in 15 years, starting in 1991.

5) Dodgers bolted Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season; they needed a second team to move to the west coast, to make travel feasible for the other six teams in the National League. Move has obviously turned out to be a great one for the Dodgers.

At the time Dodgers/Giants/Bronx were all in New York City; the Giants were doing the worst of the three on the field, and attendance at the Polo Grounds wasn’t good, so they agreed to move, figuring a move to the Bay Area would be more lucrative then splitting the financial pie with a more successful team in the Bronx.  

Problem is, Candlestick Park wasn’t such a great ballpark; very windy, had to share it with the 49ers. Giants didn’t do their due diligence on Candlestick Point, and wound up, for 40 or so years, with a sub-standard stadium.

Their new stadium is way better and now the Giants have a good deal, but think about it; would you rather own the Giants or the Mets, who came into being in 1962, filling the void left by the two teams bolting to California?

4) When Brett Favre was Green Bay’s quarterback in 1994, his backup was Mark Brunell, who wound getting traded to Jacksonville the next year, the Jaguars’ first season.

Green Bay had another QB in camp in 1994, but they cut him. Guy wound up playing in the Arena League for three years, then in NFL Europe, before signing with the Rams in 1998. Now he is in the Hall of Fame— Kurt Warner.

Had Green Bay kept Warner instead of Brunell, they might mot have made a movie about him.

3) Baseball’s 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati went 12 innings; National League won 5-4 when Pete Rose bowled over catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run, even though Fosse didn’t have the ball yet.

Fosse suffered a separated shoulder and wasn’t the same player after that. Cleveland traded him to the A’s two years later. Fosse helped the A’s win two World Series and wound up being a TV analyst for Oakland for 35 years after he retired. 

2) In 2017, Chicago Bears traded up (gave up a 3rd and 4th round pick) to the #2 spot in the NFL Draft, in order to take QB Mitchell Trubisky, who went 29-23 as Chicago’s starter in his four years there. Not a bad record, but the Bears lost both playoff games in the Trubisky era. 

Problem is, Chicago could’ve kept those 3rd/4th round picks and taken Patrick Mahomes, who was the 10th pick that year. NFL would look a lot different had that happened.

Of course, Chicago could’ve also taken Deshaun Watson that year; then they would have a much different kind of mess on their hands. Watson was the 12th pick in that draft. 

1) Tom Brady was the 199th player picked in the 2000 Draft, a 6th-round pick. He became the starter in New England because Drew Bledsoe got hurt in a 2001 game.

Since then, Brady has won seven Super Bowls and is one of the best QB’s ever. Every team in the NFL passed on him multiple times, including the Patriots.

Brady’s record in New England: 249-75
Bill Belichick’s record as a head coach: 321-156
With Brady: 249-75
Without Brady: 72-81

Saturday’s Den: NFL rosters by round drafted, baseball records in close games, and other thoughts

— Davidson basketball coach Bob McKillop retired Friday, after 33 years coaching the Wildcats. McKillop had a career record of 634-380; he led Davidson to the Elite 8 in 2008, with a pretty good guard named Curry playing for him.

Davidson was in the Southern Conference back then; they’re in the Atlantic 14 now. Since that run to the Elite 8 in ’08, SoCon teams are 1-13 SU in the NCAA Tournament.

McKillop’s son Matt is taking over the Davidson job; he’s been an assistant for his dad the last 14 seasons, after playing at Davidson.

— Steph Curry was the 7th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft; Minnesota had the 5th and 6th picks- they took a pair of guards, Ricky Rubio/Jonny Flynn. Whoops.

— From 1957-1986, the Boston Celtics won 16 NBA titles; since 1987, they’ve won one, back in 2008. Celtics/Lakers are tied with 17 NBA championships, with Golden State third with seven. 

— Cubs 1, Braves 0:
Braves came into this weekend on a 14-game win streak, Cubs on a 10-game losing skid; the last time a team on a double-digit losing streak beat a team on a double-digit win streak? Back in September, 1999 when the Phillies beat Houston.

— San Diego Padres entered this weekend in first place, the first time they’ve been in first place in June since 2010.

— Boston College’s football team lost G Christian Mahogany for this season; he tore his right ACL. Mel Kiper had Mahogany listed as the #2 guard prospect in next April’s draft.

— Former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam is going to buy the NHL’s Nashville Predators. Haslam is worth $2.3B; his brother and sister-in-law, Jimmy/Susan Haslam, are the owners of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

— Bruno Mioto posted this information on Twitter this week, breaking down NFL rosters by which round of the draft each team’s players were taken in, and how many undrafted free agents each team had.

— Most first round draft picks on NFL rosters last year:
13— NJ Giants
12— Pittsburgh/San Francisco
11— Atlanta/Baltimore
10— Cleveland, Denver, Las Vegas

— Fewest first round draft picks on NFL rosters last year:
4— Indianapolis, Kansas City
5— LA Rams
6— New England, Seattle, Tennessee
7— Houston, Jacksonville, Minnesota

— Most second round draft picks on NFL rosters last year:
11— Tampa Bay
10— Jacksonville, Miami, NJ Giants, Seattle
9— Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Kansas City, LA Rams

— Fewest second round draft picks on NFL rosters last year:
3— Baltimore, Detroit
4— LA Chargers, NJ Jets, New Orleans, Washington
5— Buffalo, Carolina, Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco

— Most undrafted free agents on NFL rosters last year:
23— Tennessee
21— Detroit
18— LA Chargers
16— Carolina, Denver, Miami

— Fewest undrafted free agents on NFL rosters last year:
6— NJ Giants
7— Pittsburgh
9— Minnesota, Seattle
10— Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, NJ Jets

Major league records in games where winning run scored from 7th inning on:
These are thru Thursday’s games
Home/Away….Total
Arizona 5-6/5-2….10-8
Atlanta 6-5/3-1….9-6
Cubs 4-6/4-2….8-8
Cincinnati 1-4/5-5….6-9
Colorado 5-6/5-4….10-10
Dodgers 2-2/2-4….4-6
Miami 2-4/4-5….6-9
Milwaukee 1-1/8-5….9-6
Mets 4-4/2-2….6-6
Philadelphia 4-7/3-4….7-11
Pittsburgh 6-3/3-5….9-8
St Louis 4-4/4-2….8-6
San Diego 5-5/7-6….12-11
San Francisco 1-5/4-3….5-8
Washington 1-1/2-2

Baltimore 5-3/2-3….7-6
Boston 4-4/4-7….8-11
White Sox 6-5/6-2….12-7
Cleveland 3-4/8-3….11-7
Detroit 6-4/7-3….13-7
Houston 3-1/5-4….8-5
Kansas City 2-6/3-4….5-10
Angels 0-6/2-4….2-10
Minnesota 2-6/2-4….4-10
New York 6-3/4-4….10-7
Oakland 3-9/4-4….7-13
Seattle 3-7/4-2….7-9
Tampa Bay 6-2/5-4….11-6
Texas 4-4/9-4….13-8
Toronto 4-4/6-4….10-8

Wednesday’s Den: Happy Armadillo Day, everyone!!!!

13) 21 years ago today we started this blog; doesn’t seem like that long ago.

I’d like to thank you for reading; hope you enjoy it and maybe sometimes you learn some stuff, too. We’ll see if I can make it another 21 years 🙂

Happy birthday to the Big Dawg; hope he has an excellent day, sitting by his pool.

12) Read on the Interweb today that minor league games where the pitch clock is used are running 24 minutes a game shorter than the other games. MLB experts are assuming that the pitch clock will become a thing in the major leagues next season. 

11) There are many major league teams that completely suck; I’m not sure why you would own a team and deliberately not try to at least compete, but here we are:

A’s are a minor league team. It is depressing to see.
Pirates are bad, but at least they’re promoting some prospects, none of whom pitch
Royals are a bad team.
Washington is terrible, and they won the World Series in 2019
What the Cubs are doing is inexcusable; a big market team tanking. Makes no sense.
Cincinnati is also really bad, with no real solutions in sight.

This is why I’m in favor of a mandatory salary floor for MLB teams; at least pretend you’re trying. 

10) Doing local TV/radio for these bad teams is a tough job; you have to tell the truth, but you cannot be overly critical, seeing how you travel on the road with the players/coaches you’re broadcasting. Guys who do the Pirate games sound like they’ve been tranquilized before they do do games. They spent half the game Tuesday talking about how hot it was in St Louis. 

9) Coming into Tuesday’s game, White Sox’ #9 hitters led the team, with a .477 slugging %age; their #3 hitters have only a .303 slugging %age, which makes very little sense.

8) Angels have already lost ten games that they led in the 7th inning or later; they’ve spent a lot of money on payroll, but again, their pitching is bad. Pitching is kind of important in baseball. 

7) Diamondbacks have been shut out last three times Madison Bumgarner pitched; MadBum was a pretty good hitter. He probably wishes they’d ditch the DH and let him hit.

6) St Louis is a nice place, I mean, the people are genuinely nice. Was there a couple times when the Rams played there. At Cardinal games, when a visiting player makes his MLB debut, the PA announcer tells the crowd it is this guy’s debut, and they politely applaud him.

Could you imagine that happening in New York? Didn’t think so. 

5) Just about everything NFL Films does is really good; Tuesday afternoon, I watched an hour-long special on the 2006 Texas-USC Rose Bowl, which Texas won at the very end. The special centered around the two QB’s, Matt Leinart/Vince Young, how they were great college players who fizzled in the pros.

— The two coaches in that game, Mack Brown/Pete Carroll are still coaching 16 years later.
— Vince Young got drafted by the Titans, even though their coach (Jeff Fisher) and OC (Norm Chow) were USC guys. In this film, Fisher made it clear that it wasn’t his choice to take Young, who lasted only six years in the NFL, five with Tennessee.
— Fisher claims that Titans owner Bud Adams overrruled his football people and ordered them to draft Young.
— Leinart got drafted by Arizona; he also lasted six years in the NFL. They both mentioned that if they knew where they would be drafted, they would’ve stayed in college another year.

— This was also the last game the great Keith Jackson broadcast; when I think of college football on TV, I think of Keith Jackson. He was excellent.
— Friend of mine who I met maybe 6-7 years ago told me a great story about how he wagered a lot of money on this game in Las Vegas; luckily for him, he had Texas.
— Reggie Bush got drafted before Leinart/Young; he wound up scoring 54 TD’s in his 11-year NFL career. Key play in the Texas-USC game was the Trojans failing on a 4th-and-1 while leading with 2:13 left. Bush was inexplicably on the bench for that play. 

4) Passing yardage leaders in the USFL:
1,750— Kyle Sloter, New Orleans
1,502— Jordan Ta’amu, Tampa Bay
1,241— J’Mar Smith, Birmingham
1,028— Case Cookus, Philadelphia

3) Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson doesn’t have an NFL agent negotiating his pending mega-deal with the Ravens; how is this possible?

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes:
”If you are under the impression that Jackson is some naïve, out-of-his-depth, disengaged vessel in terms of his contract, you would be incorrect. Numerous sources close to this situation indicated he is quite well-versed in the NFL quarterback financial landscape……..”

Good for him, plus he saves the 3% agents usually get. 

2) There are 358 Division I college basketball teams; there are over 1,400 transfers this year, which means that October/November will be a nightmare, trying to piece together which teams did well and which teams are going to get hammered because of all the roster turnover.

1) There is a commercial on Minnesota Twins’ TV promoting pheasant hunting in South Dakota; an attractive young woman has herself a rifle and is out in a field firing that rifle at birds, who do not have a gun to fire back at her.

Add South Dakota to the list of states I’ll never visit. 

Sunday’s Den: 13 of my favorite quotes

13) “I think everyone should go to college and get a degree, and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cab driver. Then they would really be educated”
Al McGuire

12) “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer”
Albert Einstein

11) “Be nice to people on way up, because you meet them on your way down”
Jimmy Durante

10) “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”
Soren Kierkegaard

9) “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned”
Fast Eddie Felson, from The Color of Money

8) “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
Thomas Edison

7) “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved”
George McDonald

6) “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts”
John Locke 

5) “The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer everyone else up”
Mark Twain

4) “Success is never final”
Winston Churchill

3) “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more of it I have”
Thomas Jefferson

2) “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made”
Jean Giraudoux

1) “Trust everybody, but cut the cards”
Fimley Peter Dunne

Wednesday’s Den: In a perfect world, where I make all the decisions……

1) Major League Baseball needs a Hard Knocks-type show during spring training, to show the inner workings of his a team is built. It works great with NFL teams in training camp; it would be better with baseball.

There is so much free time in spring training; you can mike players/coaches in spring training games, show players getting sent down to AAA. We’ve seen it in movies, how about real life?

It would also work during the season, just like the NFL is doing now. 

2) College football needs an 8-team playoff system; actually 16 teams or 12 teams would be better, but eight is good, for now. Fewer meaningless bowl games, more playoff games that would increase TV ratings, attendance and most important, the $$$ would be bigger. 

3) In all pro sports, higher-seeded teams should be able to pick who they play in the playoffs; for example, seven teams from each conference make the NFL playoffs.

#1 seed gets a bye; the #2-seed would then get to pick from seeds #5-7 who they want to play first, then #3-seed gets next choice- the two remaining teams would play each other.

Next round, #1-seed gets first choice of who they want to play, and so on. Can you imagine the TV ratings this would get? It would ramp up interest astronomically. 

4) Baseball needs both a salary cap and, more importantly, a salary floor; cheap teams who don’t even try to win are hurting the game, both aesthetically and financially.

This season, I care way more about my fantasy team that I do about the A’s, and I’ve been as A’s fan since 1965. They’re not trying to win; I’m too damn old to sit there and watch them get their butts beat most every night, so I focus on my fantasy team. At least I’m TRYING to win.

5) Admission to racetracks should be free, just like walking into a casino is free. You go to a track to bet on the horses, you’re going to bet on the races, you’re going to buy the (overpriced) food and drinks, you’re going to buy souvenirs, why should we have to pay $7 just to get in the door?

If need be, make people pay $10 to get in, but everyone gets a $10 voucher for betting, souvenirs  or eating that day. 

6) Spring football is a viable thing; when the XFL starts up next year and with the USFL already a thing, the two leagues need to merge and form a 16-team spring league that people will love, much like the USFL back in the 80’s. 

7) High school basketball players should be able to go right from high school to the NBA, the way they used to; Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant didn’t play college ball. Going to college for one year is useless; it doesn’t help the college game much, it doesn’t help the NBA, it doesn’t help the players much. 

8) Major league baseball should realign geographically; no more American/National leagues, let crosstown rivals compete with each other year-round. Save money on travel, and attendance would be better. More Cub-White Sox, A’s-Giants, Dodger-Angel games, Subway series games. 

9) College football teams should not be allowed to schedule I-AA opponents; it is cheating the fans who pay lot of $$$ to see Alabama play Mercer. It is STUPID; play Sun Belt teams, MAC teams, Mountain West teams, but not I-AA teams. It is stealing money. 

10) This one will never, ever happen, but NBA playoffs would be way better if every round was best-of-3, and the Finals best-of-5. It would be more like March Madness; more dramatic, more upsets, more fan interest. Losing games would cost the league $$$, which is why it’ll never, ever happen, but the playoffs would be better this way.

11) This one will happen, probably next year. Baseball needs to ban shifts; all four infielders have to be on the infield dirt, two on each side of second base. Baseball needs more line drive hitters, fewer guys trying to hit every pitch over the fielders’ heads, out of the park. 

12) ESPN needs to bring back their 24-hour college basketball marathon in November; that was so much fun, games on all night long, giving obscure teams some recognition. I remember being at a bar in Las Vegas playing video poker, watching a game from Hawai’i, then a game with Colgate or Iona or some unknown eastern teams playing— it was awesome. 

13) Super Bowl needs to be on Presidents’ Day weekend, where everyone has the next day off from work. Add an 18th game? Give teams two byes instead of one? I’d prefer the 18th game, but the league would be better off if the Super Bowl was just before spring training started. 

Saturday’s Den: 13 of my favorite TV/movie quotes…….

13) “……here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”
Mike McDermott, Rounders

12) “I’ve got a trig midterm tomorrow and I’m being chased by Guido, the killer pimp.”
Miles, Risky Business

11) “You’re a goddamn quarterback! You know what that means? It’s the top spot, kid. It’s the guy who takes the fall. It’s the guy everybody’s looking at first – the leader of a team – who will support you when they understand you. Who will break their ribs and their noses and their necks for you, because they believe. ‘Cause you make them believe. That’s a quarterback.”
Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday

10) “He’s a great player, but I don’t think we can get him in academically.”
Jerry Tarkanian, Blue Chips

9) “Listen, Lupus, you didn’t come into this life just to sit around on a dugout bench, did ya? Now get your ass out there and do the best you can.”
Walter Matthau in The Bad News Bears

8) “I’ll get to the bottom of this……if I have to go all the way to the top.”
Colonel Flagg, M*A*S*H*

7) “Do whats in your heart, son. You’ll be fine.”
Robin Williams, from Good Will Hunting

6) “God likes me!!! He really, really likes me!!! What a day!!! What a fabulous day!!!”
Richard Dreyfuss in Let It Ride

5) “Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth…….”
Billy Bob Thornton, Friday Night Lights

4) “Why would you want to dance with someone who doesn’t want to dance with you?”
Adam Sandler, The Wedding Singer

3) “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own

2) “A little song, a little dance……a little seltzer down your pants”
Chuckles the Clown, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show

1) “There’s no such thing as a sure thing, thats why they call it gambling.”
Oscar Madison, The Odd Couple