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

— Atlanta Braves play the Dodgers in LA this weekend; Rams’ QB Matthew Stafford will throw out the first pitch before Sunday’s game. I’m guessing his catcher will be Clayton Kershaw, who was a high school teammate of Stafford— #9 was obviously the quarterback, Kershaw was the center.

— College football takes center stage Thursday night with a handful of games; Utah QB Cameron Rising is doubtful for the Utes’ season opener- he tore his ACL in the Rose Bowl eight months ago, hasn’t gotten the go-ahead to start playing yet.

Utah has a redshirt junior who is expected to start in place of Rising; they’ve got a freshman QB who is expected to be used in running situations.

Thursday will be Florida’s 1st non-conference road game outside the state of Florida since they visited the Carrier Dome in Syracuse in 1991.

— Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow practiced Thursday, for the first time since suffering a strained right calf July 27. Bengals signed QB Will Grier, by the way; he was cut by Dallas Sunday, after he played the whole preseason game for the Cowboys Saturday night. Jake Browning is the #2 QB for Cincinnati.

— Cardinals 5, Padres 4— Tommy Edman got a walk-off hit for the second day in a row; he grew up as a Padres’ fan in San Diego, and still wears #19 because of his admiration for Tony Gwynn.

San Diego is now 9-25 in games where winning run scored from the 7th inning on. 

— Reds 4, Giants 1— Christian Encarnacion-Strand went 4-4, knocked in three runs; he was playing in front of his father for the first time. Encarnacion-Strand grew up across the bay from Oracle Park in Pleasant Hill, CA.

— Astros 7, Red Sox 4— Houston won its last five games, scoring 52 runs on 78 hits. 

— Rays 3, Marlins 0 (10)— Quite a pitching duel between Eflin/Luzardo; Josh Lowe had the go-ahead base-hit in the top of the 10th.

— Mets 6, Rangers 5 (10)— DJ Stewart hit two home runs, made a great catch in right field and got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which forced in the winning run in the 10th inning.

— Braves 7, Rockies 3— Marcell Ozuna has seven home runs in his last nine games.

Watching this series the last few nights, they sounded like Atlanta home games, but the games were at Coors Field. Lot of Braves fans in Denver.

— Josh Donaldson got the boot from the Bronx Bombers this week, but he still pockets $8M in salary next year from New York.

— Oakland A’s have used 21 different starting pitchers this year, most in MLB; Kansas City has used 20 different starting pitchers.

— Monday is Labor Day, a national holiday; there are only 11 baseball games on the schedule. Whats with that? Every team should play on Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day.

— NFL Trend of the Day— Last five years, over is 26-14 in Dallas Cowboy home games.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Phillies, Cubs, Az/SF
AL: Orioles, Twins, Sea/Hst. Wild Cards: Rays, AL West #2, Rangers

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

— Giants 6, Reds 1
Alex Cobb had his no-hitter broken up with two outs in 9th inning.
Cobb threw 131 pitches, most of any pitcher in the majors this year.
Reds lost five of their last six games.

— Cardinals 6, Padres 5 (10)
Willson Contreras homered twice; second one tied game in 8th inning.
Tommy Edman’s walk-off single ended the game.
San Diego is 8-16 in its last 24 games.

— Cubs 1, Brewers 0
Cubs scored in the first inning, game’s only run.
Loss ends Milwaukee’s nine-game winning streak.

— Dodgers 9, Arizona 1
Dodgers in August the last four years:
2020- 21-7
2021- 21-6
2022- 22-6
2023- 23-4

Dodgers are first team in 140 years (140 years!!!) to have a winning %age of  .750+ in the same month, four years in a row.

— Astros 6, Red Sox 2
Bregman/Alvarez each went 3-5 with a home run.
Boston’s Adam Duvall has seven home runs in his last nine games.

— Pirates 6, Royals 3

Cole Ragans threw 7 shutout IP, but the Royals’ bullpen imploded.
Liover Peguero hit a 3-run homer in the ninth inning.

— Toronto put SS Bo Bichette (quad) on the IL.
Angels put P Chase Silseth on the 7-day concussion IL.

— Movie of the Day— Other People’s Money (1991)— A corporate raider buys up shares in an undervalued company but falls in love with a lawyer for the other side. Things get interesting after that.

Danny DeVito is the corporate raider, Gregory Peck is the founder of the company.

Danny DeVito is great in this; he gives a speech in the climactic scene “……..I’m not your best friend. I’m your only friend……..” that is excellent.

— College Football Trend of the Day— In his career, Miami FL coach Cristobal is 14-26-2 ATS as a home favorite.

— Arizona Cardinals’ over/under win total this year is 3.5 wins; every other team in the NFL has a win total of at least 6.5 wins.

— New Orleans Saints traded kicker Will Lutz to Denver, in exchange for a 7th round draft pick. Lutz is re-united with Broncos’ coach Sean Payton. For now, Blake Grupe is the Saints’ kicker. 

To make room for Lutz, Denver told K Brett Maher to take a hike.

— Philadelphia Eagles cut their punter, don’t have another one on the roster yet, but they don’t play for 11 more days. 

— Green Bay Packers have only three players who are 30+ years old; they had eight last year.

— Watching episode 4 of Hard Knocks with the Jets, it dawned on me that the Jets’ GM, Joe Douglas, hasn’t been on the show at all, not that I can remember at least. When they cut down the roster in next week’s show, you’d think the general manager would make an appearance.

— Virginia Cavaliers have a 34-year old kicker this year, a former Marine.

— If you play fantasy football, keep in mind that in Week 14, a possible fantasy football playoff weekend, two teams have a bye, Arizona and Washington. Draft accordingly. 

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

— Astros 13, Red Sox 5
Red Sox led this game 4-3 after five innings.

Jose Altuve hit for the cycle for the first time in his great career; he is the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes, in 2013. 

Yordan Alvarez went 4-4 with 4 RBI, and two walks.

— This was Altuve’s 36th 4-hit game, he’s never had a 5-hit game.
Players with the most 4-hit games who never had a 5-hit game:
53— Lou Gehrig
36— Altuve
34— Mel Ott
33— Larry Walker

— Padres 4, Cardinals 1
Blake Snell went seven innings for the win; it is only the 2nd time all season that Snell got an out after the 6th inning.

He is having a fine season……..11-9, 2.60 in 27 starts, but he gets an average of only 16.5 outs per game, not a lot for an ace.

— Speaking of the Padres, the last nine years, they’ve come within 18 games of first place in the NL West one time, and that was in 2020, the shortened pandemic year. 

San Diego’s payroll this year is $254,538,326 and they’re still only 62-70. How does ownership keep GM AJ Preller around? Why does he still have a job?

— Rangers 4, Mets 3— Nathaniel Lowe’s 2-run single in the ninth inning gave Texas their come from behind win, just their second win in their last 11 games.

Rangers had been 0-47 this season when they trailed after eight innings; now they’re 1-47.

— Braves 14, Rockies 4— Ronald Acuna went 4-5, with four runs scored, five RBI; couple fans ran into rightfield and hugged Acuna during the game, actually knocked him down. Not a great night for the security folks in Denver; it could’ve been a bad situation.

— Movie of the Day— Moneyball (2011)— Movie documents the Oakland A’s effort to assemble a baseball team on a small budget by employing computer-generated analysis to get new players.

Brad Pitt plays A’s GM Billy Beane; Philip Seymour Hoffman is manager Art Howe, Jonah Hill plays Beane’s assistant, who in real life was Paul DePodesta, but since he didn’t cooperate with the movie people, his character was called Peter Brand in the movie.

I’ve been an A’s fan since 1965 so I enjoyed the movie; couple years before I saw the movie I met Michael Lewis, who wrote Moneyball the book. Part of it frustrates me though; if they did something that gave them an advantage over other teams, why brag about it? Just keep doing it. 

These days, everyone does it, and the A’s are a cruddy team that still has a cheapskate owner.

— NFL Trend of the Day— last three years, 49ers were 6-9 ATS in games where the spread was 3 or fewer points, whether they were favored or the underdog.

— When it was announced that the great game show host Bob Barker passed away over the weekend, Vanna White posted a picture of herself on Instagram, when she was a contestant on The Price is Right, back in 1980.

This was only a couple years before Vanna White started turning letters on Wheel of Fortune; apparently that appearance on The Price is Right helped her land the TV gig.

— New Orleans Saints haven’t drafted a QB in the first round since they picked Archie Manning in 1971. NFL team with the 2nd-longest such streak is Dallas, which drafted Troy Aikman in 1989, and hasn’t drafted a QB in the first round since.

— Over the last 12 years, Jets have gone 70-129, with zero playoff appearances, which is why they acquired Aaron Rodgers this year.

Here are the different QB’s who’ve started for the Jets since their last playoff game:

Mark Sanchez 14-17 W-L record
Ryan Fitzpatrick 13-14
Sam Darnold 13-25
Geno Smith 12-18
Zach Wilson 8-14
Josh McCown 5-11

Mike White 2-5
Michael Vick 1-2
Bryce Petty 1-6
Joe Flacco 1-8
Greg McElroy 0-1
Trevor Siemian 0-1
Luke Falk 0-2

This is why the Jets now have a Hall of Fame QB.

— Pointspreads on the first four Super Bowls were all 11+ points; the NFL teams were assumed to be dominant over the AFL teams, but Super Bowls 3-4 were both won by AFC underdogs. 

First Super Bowl was a single digit spread was Super Bowl 5, when the Colts, who moved to the AFC after the NFL-AFL merger, upset Dallas 16-13.

— Arizona Cardinals cut 36-year old QB Colt McCoy Monday, which means Arizona’s starting QB 12 days from now will either be rookie Clayton Tune or the recently acquired Joshua Dobbs. 

Starter Kyler Murray is still on the PUP List; he signed a 5-year, $230M deal last year, but then he tore up his knee late last season. It is unclear when he’ll be back playing for the Redbirds.

— Chicago Bears cut backup QB PJ Walker; he signed a 2-year, $4.15M deal with the Bears in March, with $2M in guarantees, but now he is gone.

— Today is cutdown day in the NFL; teams have to cut their rosters from 90 to 53 players. Tough day for a lot of players and their families. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

— Next April, when they have the NFL Draft, one of the big QB prospects is going to be Sam Hartman, who is Notre Dame’s QB this year, after playing at Wake Forest for five years.

I keep thinking about this, the Al Pacino speech from Any Given Sunday, when he is talking to Jamie Foxx about his role as the Sharks’ QB:

“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.”

Hartman played five years for Wake Forest, which went 38-24 in those seasons, playing in a bowl all five seasons. He jumps to Notre Dame, which went 53-11 those five years, albeit with Brian Kelly at coach for four of those seasons- he’s at LSU now.

My question is this; if you run an NFL franchise, you going to to risk your job and your 7-figure salary by drafting a kid to be your QB, when he jumped ship on his college team?

It is an interesting situation that will play out over the next eight months.

— Raiders’ kicker Daniel Carlson kicked a 62-yard field goal Saturday night in Dallas.

— Arizona State won’t play in a bowl game in 2023 after self-imposing a one-year bowl ban this weekend, a decision that points out the severity of the evidence in the ongoing NCAA case against the school’s football program.

Herm Edwards got fired last year; the new coach is 33-year old Kenny Dillingham, who comes to ASU from Oregon. Dillingham has a thing in his contract that says for every year the Sun Devils aren’t bowl eligible or on probation for stuff that Edwards’ staff did, he gets an extra year on his contract, so Dillingham’s five-year contract just became a six-year deal.

— Over the last 29 years, only one team that lost the Super Bowl got back to the Super Bowl the next season, the 2018 Patriots.

— There will be 42 bowl games this college football season; as recently as 1982, there were only 15 bowl games played.

— Movie of the Day— Love Happens (2009)— A self-help guru writes a book about coping with loss; he falls for the hotel florist at his seminar in Seattle, only to realize that he hasn’t yet truly confronted his wife’s death, which is why he wrote the book.

Aaron Eckhart is the self-help guy, Jennifer Aniston is the florist, Martin Sheen plays Eckhart’s father-in-law, the dad of the woman who died.

Very good movie, some funny moments, some sad moments. If Martin Sheen is in a movie, chances are it is a good one.

— NFL Trend of the Day— last four years, Buffalo is 8-2-1 ATS as a road underdog.

— Notre Dame 42, Navy 3
Total yardage: 444-171
Navy ran ball 47 times for 128 yards— they threw 7 passes.

— Jacksonville State 17, UTEP 14
UTEP outgained the Gamecocks, 364-277
UTEP was minus-3 in turnovers.

— UMass 41, New Mexico State 30
Taisun Phommachanh, a transfer QB who also played at Georgia Tech and Clemson, completed 10 of 17 passes for 192 yards and added 92 yards running for the Minutemen.

— San Diego State 20, Ohio U 13
Ohio U outgained the Aztecs, 380-309.
Bobcats, however threw 3 INTs, were minus-2 in turnovers.
Aztecs’ QB Mayden was 17-27/164 with two TD’s passing.

— Vanderbilt 35, Hawai’i 28
Vandy ran a kickoff back 97 yards for a TD.
Red flag: Vandy ran ball 23 times for 44 yards. Not good for an SEC team.
Commodores are now 3-11 ATS in last 14 home games.

— USC 56, San Jose State 28
Trojans led only 21-14 at halftime.
Total yardage: USC, 502-396
Caleb Williams was 18-25/278 passing, with four TD’s.

— Louisiana Tech 22, FIU 17
FIU led 14-0 early on; they scored on a 67-yard TD run.
For the game, FIU completed 5-14 passes, for four yards. 4 yards. Four.
Tech QB Bachmeier was 34-44/333 passing.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Phillies, Arizona, Cubs
AL: Orioles, Twins, Mariners. Wild Cards: Rays, Rangers, Astros

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

— Tuesday, NFL rosters have to be cut down from 90 players to 53; then, each team can sign 16 players to their practice squad, so the next few days are where general mangers earn their $$$.

— Packers 19, Seahawks 15— Kevin Harlan did play-by-play for this game; his father Bob was president of the Packers for 19 years- he was also the SID at Marquette. Kevin Harlan is a great announcer, whether football/basketball; you learn a lot listening to him.

— Chiefs 33, Browns 32— If you wager on preseason football, consider this; down 29-23, Chiefs scored a TD with 3:30 left in the third quarter. They let DB Justin Reid kick the PAT, which he made, but would you want to bet on a team that lets defensive backs kick extra points? 

Blaine Gabbert threw for 169 yards and two TD’s; more on him later.

— Cardinals 18, Vikings 17— In two years in Minnesota, Kevin O’Connell is now in 0-6 in these meaningless preseason games. As long as the Vikings go 13-4 in the regular season again, no one gives a rat’s ass about their record in exhibition games.

— Jets 32, Giants 24— HBO’s Hard Knocks got some good footage of Aaron Rodgers playing in a preseason game; he was 5-8/47 passing, with one TD pass.

Jets’ backup QB Tim Boyle was 9-11/107 passing; my godson was sitting next to his parents in the stands. Have to find out if he got any good information from them.

— Commanders 21, Bengals 19— Reid Sinnett threw a 34-yard TD pass with 6:29 left for the winning score; he was in the XFL last spring, but broke his foot. Joe Burrow’s calf injury got Sinnett an invite to training camp. Will be interesting to see if we winds up on an NFL roster.

— Buccaneers 26, Ravens 20— After winning 24 preseason games in a row, Baltimore has now lost two in a row. Lamar Jackson didn’t play; Baker Mayfield played, was 6-6/43 yards.

— Jaguars 31, Dolphins 18— Jacksonville ran 54 plays; only six of them came on third down. Jaguars went 3-0 this summer, open in two weeks at a Colts team starting a rookie QB.

— Cowboys 31, Raiders 16— QB Will Grier played the whole game for Dallas, going 29-35/305 passing, with two TD’s. He’s going to get cut now, because they traded for Trey Lance. After watching the Rams play last night, pretty sure Grier won’t be unemployed for long.

— Broncos 41, Rams 0— It is only an exhibition game, but this was embarrassing, just awful. Rookie QB Stetson Bennett looked so bad he got yanked early in the second quarter. Rams’ defense is extremely young, really, really young. Will be interesting to see how many players they scoop up off the waiver wire when cuts are made. 

Name of the Day— Rams’ #4 QB is Dresser Winn, who played at I-AA Tennessee-Martin. He won a state title in high school, but looks like he got hurt a lot in college.

He has two siblings, Loral and Tinley, I’m guessing they’re his sisters, but who names their son Dresser? Having a QB named Winn sounds like a good idea, though. 

— Bills 24, Bears 21— Both starting QB’s played a little. Buffalo is one of those teams where the guys they cut will get scooped up by lesser teams.

— Washington Nationals have used only seven starting pitchers all season; by way of contrast, Tampa Bay has had 16 different pitchers start games this season.

— Movie of the Day— Double Jeopardy (1999)— A woman framed for her husband’s murder suspects he is still alive; she has already been tried for the crime, so she can’t be re-prosecuted if she finds and kills him. She tries to find him so she can regain custody of their son.

Ashley Judd is the woman; Tommy Lee Jones is her parole officer. 

She eventually finds her husband alive in New Orleans. This is a good movie.

— NFL Trend of the Day—  Under Beamer, South Carolina is 7-2 ATS as a favorite.

— Notre Dame 42, Navy 3— Sam Hartman played at Wake Forest for five years, then instead of going to the NFL or staying at Wake, he transferred to Notre Dame. Why????

He’s good enough to play in the NFL someday, why not go there? Is Notre Dame paying him more NIL $$$ than an NFL backup would make? Didn’t he enjoy playing ball with his friends at Wake Forest? Did he have friends at Wake Forest? (I’m guessing he did)

Anyway, Hartman was 19-23/251 passing with four TD’s in this game.

— Last seven years, these are the Colts’ starting QB’s in Week 1:
2017— Scott Tolzien
2018— Andrew Luck
2019— Jacoby Brissett
2020— Philip Rivers
2021— Carson Wentz
2022— Matt Ryan
2023— Anthony Richardson

— Blaine Gabbert is a backup QB with the Chiefs; he’s had an interesting career:
2011— 10th pick in draft by Jacksonville
2011-13— went 5-22 as a starter with the Jaguars
2014-16— went 4-9 as a starter for the 49ers.
2017— went 2-3 as a starter for the Cardinals.
2018— went 2-1 as a starter for Tennessee.
2020-22— threw 35 passes in 11 games as a backup in Tampa Bay.

His career earnings, coming into this season: $26,294,146.

— Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had a top 5 pick in the NFL Draft since 1970, when they took Terry Bradshaw. NFL team that has next-longest streak without a top 5 pick is New England, whose last top 5 pick was in 1994.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Phillies, Arizona, Cubs
AL: Orioles, Twins, Tex-Sea. Wild Cards: Rays, #2 AL West, Astros

— RIP to Bob Barker, the great game show host who passed away this weekend at age 99.

Barker hosted The Price is Right for 35 years; I spent a good part of my childhood watching his show and Match Game on weekday afternoons.

RIP, sir. 

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Friday

— Happy birthday to the great comedian/actor Steve Martin, who turned 78 Friday. One of my boyhood heroes, I loved his appearances on the Tonight Show. He also turned out to be a really good actor (Roxanne, Shopgirl, Leap of Faith, The Jerk).

First time I ever saw him on TV, he was on the Tonight Show, when Buddy Hackett was a guest host. The A’s had just lost in extra innings; 12-year old me was in a bad mood, but within two minutes of seeing Steve Martin on stage, I was laughing my head off. Very funny man, but also a skilled banjo player and a good writer. 

Happy birthday, sir.

— Couple years ago, San Francisco 49ers traded three #1 picks to Miami, to move up in the draft so they could take QB Trey Lance. Friday, they traded him to Dallas, for a 4th round pick.

Lance went 2-2 as a starter with the 49ers, after he played only one game his senior year at North Dakota State.

Not sure what the Cowboys will do with him, but they told backup QB Will Grier that he’ll play the whole game against the Raiders this week, then they’re cutting him, so he is in effect auditioning for the other 31 teams.

— Atlanta Falcons play five of their first six games at home; they need to get off to a fast start, with December road games outdoors in New Jersey/Chicago (cold weather).

— Argonauts 39, Stampeders 31— Chad Kelly threw for 361 yards, three TD’s; he is Jim Kelly’s nephew, played college ball at Ole Miss.

— Lions 26, Panthers 17— Rookie QB Young was 7-12/73 passing for Carolina, which played four QB’s. Detroit’s starting Goff sat this game out.

Panthers went 0-3 this preseason; they have a new coach, a rookie QB, a first-time offensive coordinator. Not the best recipe for success. 

— Titans 23, Patriots 7
Tennessee ran 65 plays for 368 yards.
New England ran 42 plays for 79 yards.

Mac Jones didn’t play for New England, but those stats are a red flag.

— Chargers 23, 49ers 12
Joshua Kelley had a 75-yard TD run for the Chargers.
Chargers outscored San Francisco 13-0 over the final 20:00 of play.

Weird day for the 49ers, with Trey Lance getting traded away.

— Movie of the Day— Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)— A married New York City cop falls for the socialite murder witness he’s been assigned to protect.

Tom Berenger is the cop, Mimi Rogers is the witness, Lorraine Bracco is the cop’s wife, Jerry Orbach is another policeman.

Recently, Mimi Rogers has been in Bosch, a police drama on Amazon Prime. She was in an episode of Magnum PI in 1982, then 35 years later, she was in an episode of Blue Bloods, also with Tom Selleck.

— College Football Trend of the Day— Last two years, Navy was 12-6 ATS as an underdog.

— Stephen Strasburg retired this week; he still has a contract worth $35M a year that runs until 2026— he will bank all that money, though lot of it will be on deferred payments. He will wind up earning over $350M as a big league pitcher.

— Angels 3, Mets 1— Shohei Ohtani is in the Big Apple with the Angels, Kodai Senga pitched for the Mets— there were 50 press passes given out to the Japanese media. Patrick Sandoval went six innings for the win.

— A’s 12, White Sox 4— 9th-place hitter Nick Allen went 4-5 with five RBI; he is hitting .209 for the season, but had a big night here.

— Orioles 5, Rockies 4— Gunnar Henderson hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 8th inning for the come-from-behind win.

— Tigers 4, Astros 1
Framber Valdez tossed 7 innings of no-hit ball.
Matt Manning tossed 6.1 innings of one-hit ball.
Astros led 1-0 in 9th inning; Parker Meadows hit a walk-off homer for Detroit.

— Pirates 2, Cubs 1— Mitch Keller tossed eight shutout innings.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Phillies, Arizona, Cubs
AL: Orioles, Twins, Tex-Sea. Wild Cards: Rays, #2 AL West, Astros

— Arizona 10, Cincinnati 8— Weird game; there was an especially strange play late in the game, when Arizona’s Tommy Pham hit a long fly ball to left field. 

Reds’ LF Spencer Steer jumped for the ball, had it in his glove, but a young fan (10-12 years old) reached over the fence, and also got his glove on it. When Steer fell to the ground, the kid had the ball, Steer didn’t, but after a replay review, Pham was called out for fan interference.

After that happened, they moved the kid and his father out of that area, but they didn’t throw him out of the park. Diamondbacks are surging, and people are happy. 

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

— I like researching trends and this week, found a pretty good one. 

NFL has had a Week 1 Thursday game for the last 20 years; the last 10 years, the 20 teams that played in that Week 1 Thursday game are 13-6-1 against the spread in Week 2— those extra three days or rest/prep before Week 2 are important early in the season.

— Colts 27, Eagles 13
Eagles didn’t play any of their starters.
Colts’ rookie QB Richardson completed only 6 of 17 passes for 78 yards; he ran the ball five times for 38 yards.

— Last year at Florida, Richardson was on the field for 767 snaps, only 17 of which were under center. Will be a big adjustment for him in short yardage situations.

Six years ago, Jared Goff had the same issue with getting used to taking snaps under center when he was a rookie, but he didn’t start a real game until game #10.

— This game was on Amazon Prime, with the great Al Michaels doing play-by-play; can’t figure out why Amazon hired Kirk Herbstreit to be their analyst. He is a very good college analyst, but he never played in the NFL. Amazon could do better.

— Steelers 24, Falcons 0
Game was 24-0 at halftime.
Steelers outgained Atlanta 311-199; Falcons didn’t play their starters.

— Shohei Ohtani will DH but won’t pitch any more this season; if you were advising him, wouldn’t you want him to get his pitching elbow fixed as soon as possible? Angels are pretty much out of the Wild Card race anyway.

Will be interesting to estimate how much all this is going to cost him when he signs his next contract this winter.

— Arizona 3, Cincinnati 2
Corbin Carroll’s 8th-inning home run was a game-winner.
Arizona passes Giants/Reds, own 3rd Wild Card slot in NL.

— Washington 6, New York (A) 5— In their last 15 series, Bronx Bombers won one series, lost 11 series, split the other three.

— Movie of the Day— Bull Durham (1988)— A veteran minor league catcher is assigned to mentor a young pitching prospect, but a female baseball groupie tries to mentor him too, both on and off the field. Complications result.

Kevin Costner is the veteran catcher, Susan Sarandon is the groupie, Tim Robbins the young pitcher. Robert Wuhl is the Bulls’ pitching coach.

Durham Bulls were a single-A farm team when this movie came out; now they’re the Tampa Bay Rays’ AAA team. Hard to believe its been 35 years since I first saw this movie, a good one.

— College Football Trend of the Day— Favorites are 6-3 ATS in last nine Citrus Bowls.

— Cleveland Browns traded QB Joshua Dobbs to Arizona for 5th and 7th-round draft picks. 

Dobbs has been in the NFL since 2018; he’s started only two games, losing both of them with Tennessee last year.

Arizona’s starting QB Kyler Murray screwed up his knee December 12 last year; looks like Colt McCoy/Dobbs will fill the void until Murray gets back on the field.

— Right now, Arizona Cardinals aren’t favored in any of their games this season, they’re expected to be a bad team, but they also have six draft picks in the first three rounds of next April’s draft, so they are expecting to be a lot better in 2024.

— Red Sox 17, Astros 1— In their last seven games, Houston’s starting pitchers have an 8.81 ERA.

— A’s 8, White Sox 5
Chicago is 2-11 in its last 13 series openers.
Oakland is having an unusually good week (3-1)

— Washington P Stephen Strasburg is expected to retire in the next couple weeks; his arm is pretty screwed up— he’s thrown a total of 31.1 innings the last four years, since he led the Nationals to their World Series title.

35-year old Strasburg has a 113-62 career record, a 3.24 ERA and 1,723 strikeouts in 247 regular season starts; his postseason ERA was 1.46 in 55.1 IP.

Thing is, he has a contract worth $35M a year that runs until 2026; it is unclear if he will bank all that money.

— Last seven games, Kansas City Royals have been consistent; they scored exactly four runs in six of the seven games, scored three runs in the other game. 

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

— Rough night for the Angels:

Shohei Ohtani has a tear in the UCL in his right elbow and will not pitch the remainder of the season.

Mike Trout is also going back on the IL with a lingering wrist issue.

— Reds 9-7, Angels 4-3
Ohtani left Game 1 after five batters (arm fatigue); he DH’d in the second game.
Angels were 16-22 while Mike Trout was on the IL, they’re 0-3 since he came back, but now he is gone again. .

— Braves 7, Mets 0— Charlie Morton threw seven scoreless IP for Atlanta.

Morton’s last 3 starts: 18 IP, no runs allowed, three wins.
His four starts before that: 19.1 IP, 16 runs allowed, four losses.

Baseball can be weird sometimes.

— Orioles 7, Blue Jays 0
Dean Kremer threw six shutout innings.
Toronto is 12-24 vs AL East teams, 58-33 vs everyone else.

— Giants 8, Phillies 6 (10)
Bryce Harper tied the game with a 3-run homer in 9th inning
Giants used nine relief pitchers over the last five innings— none of them threw more than 25 pitches.

— When Andrew Benintendi homered in the 9th inning Tuesday, it was the White Sox’ first home run all season hit by a lefty batter, off a lefty pitcher.

On August 22nd. Oy.

— Padres 4, Marlins 0— Seth Lugo threw six shutout innings for San Diego.

— Brewers 8, Twins 7 (10)
Brice Turang had the walk-off single for Milwaukee.
It was 100 degrees in Milwaukee Wednesday; no air conditioning in Miller Park.

— Red Sox 7, Astros 5 (10)
Adam Duvall hit a 3-run homer in the 10th inning.

— New York 9, Nationals 1
Aaron Judge had his first-ever three home run game.
New York broke its nine-game losing streak.

— Movie of the Day— Bulworth (1998)— A suicidally disillusioned politician puts a contract out on himself and then starts to be bluntly honest with his voters. Problem is, he crosses paths with his hit-man (woman), falls for her and tries to cancel the contract.

Warren Beatty is the politiican, Jack Warden is one of his aides- they were also in Heaven Can Wait together, 22 years earlier. Halle Berry is the hit man; others in the excellent cast include Paul Sorvino, Don Cheadle, Josh Molina, Oliver Platt, Warren Pierce, Laurie Metcalf. Even the late Larry King has a cameo in the movie.

Lot of the movie is a farce, but lot of it still resonates today, 25 years later.

— NFL Trend of the Day— Last two years, under is 12-4-1 in Tennessee Titan home games.

— 49ers announced that Brock Purdy will start in Week 1, Sam Darnold will be QB2, which leaves Trey Lance in limbo. 

Back in 2021, 49ers traded three first-round picks and a third-round pick to Miami so they could draft Lance, which proves that even smart teams screw up sometimes.

— Random fact: Last unassisted triple play in the major leagues was back in 2009, by Phillies’ 2B Eric Brunlett.

— In the NBA, Boston Celtics are the only team with 11 players on fully guaranteed contracts; 22 of the 30 NBA teams have 13+ players under fully guaranteed deals, so the Celtics seem like the team most likely to add another free agent before training camp.

— Wednesday’s Dodger-Cleveland was suspended in the third inning by rain, will resume at noon Thursday, with the regularly scheduled game a half hour after that. Dodgers lead the game 3-1 in the third inning. 

Wednesday’s Den: Looking at this week’s college football……..

College football season starts Saturday; here is our writeup for Saturday’s games, which are also posted every week on the college football page. Once the season gets rolling, we post write-ups on the 13 best games each week.

Navy vs Notre Dame (@ Ireland)
— Navy was 11-23 SU last three years; new coach was DC last year.
— Newberry has never been a head coach before.
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense
— 51 starts back on offensive line- improvement is expected. 
— Unclear who QB will be.
— Last ten years, Navy is 31-21-1 ATS as an underdog.
— Last ten years, Navy is 18-13 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last five years, Middies are +15 in turnovers.
— Navy hasn’t been in a bowl since their 11-2 season in 2019.

Notre Dame
— Last six years, Notre Dame is 63-14 SU.
— LY’s offensive coordinator bolted to Alabama; new OC was TE coach.
— 6 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 69 starts back on offensive line- new OL coach was at Wisconsin for 7 years. 
— Senior QB Hartman started 45 games at Wake Forest.
— Irish were 1-4 ATS as a favorite LY (18-9-2 from 2019-21).
— Notre Dame was minus-3 in turnovers LY (+32 from 2019-21)
— Irish lost three of last four bowls SU (3-2 ATS in last five).

— Notre Dame won last five meetings (2-3 ATS)
— Last year, Irish (-16) beat Navy 35-32 (total yards: 363-335, Navy)

UTEP @ Jacksonville State
— UTEP was 7-6/5-7 last two years (one winning season last 10 years)
— 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 122 starts back on offensive line
— senior QB has 29 starts.
— Under Dimel, Miners are 28-35 ATS on the road.
— Last three years, UTEP is 12-8 ATS in conference games.
— Last five years, UTEP is minus-43 in turnovers.
— Miners have played in one bowl since 2014 (2021 New Mexico Bowl)

Jacksonville State
— This is Jacksonville State’s first season in I-A football
— Coach is Rich Rodriguez (has coached West Va, Michigan, Arizona)
— In his career, Rodriguez is 46-54-2 ATS in home games.
— 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 43 starts back on offensive line
— senior QB has 22 starts.
— This is their first year in I-A, so no pointspread trends.
— Last 3 years, Gamecocks were 24-11 SU, at I-AA level.

UMass @ New Mexico State
— Last four years, UMass is 3-37 SU/13-26-1 ATS
— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 87 starts back on offensive line
— junior QB has 16 starts; they added a transfer QB from Georgia Tech.
— Since 2018, UMass is 7-20-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— Only UMass win last year was 20-3 over I-AA Stony Brook.
— Minutemen lost their last 24 road games SU. 
— UMass hasn’t been to a bowl since the 1972 Boardwalk Bowl.

New Mexico State
— Aggies went 7-6 LY (went 8-30 from 2018-21)
— 9 starters back on offense, 4 on defense
— 51 starts back on offensive line- four starters are back
— junior QB has 8 starts.
— Last four years, Aggies are 8-2 ATS as a home favorite.
— In his career, coach Kill is 22-17 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last year was Aggies’ first bowl since 2017.

— Aggies beat UMass last two years, 44-27/23-13.

Ohio U @ San Diego State
Ohio U
— Ohio was 10-4 last season, after going 3-9 in 2021.
— 9 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 86 starts back on offensive line; they’re expected to improve.
— soph QB has started 19 games.
— since 2015, Bobcats are 13-7 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last four years, Bobcats are 4-10 ATS outside the MAC
— Ohio U won/covered its last four bowl games.

San Diego State
— Last eight years, Aztecs are 74-30 SU
— 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 53 starts back on offensive line.
— junior QB has 8 career starts.
— Aztecs are 18-32 ATS in last 50 games as a home favorite.
— Last 4 years, San Diego State is 10-7 ATS in non-conference games.
— San Diego State is 2-3 SU in last five bowls (favored in 4 of 5)

— Ohio (-2.5) beat San Diego State 27-0 in 2018 Frisco Bowl.
— Last two years, Mountain West teams are 5-3-2 ATS vs MAC opponents.

Hawai’i @ Vanderbilt
—last three years, Rainbows are 14-21 SU.
— 5 starters back on offense, 9 on defense
— 67 starts back on offensive line.
— junior QB has 13 career starts.
— Last five years, Hawai’i is 11-17 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last two years, Rainbows are 3-7 ATS out of conference.
— Hawai’i won three of its last four bowl games.

— Last four years, Vandy is 10-35 SU; last bowl was 2018.
— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 81 starts back on offensive line
— soph QB started 6 games last year.
— Last 4 years, Commodores are 1-5 ATS as a home favorite.
— Under Lea, Vandy is 3-10 ATS at home, 8-3 ATS on road.
— Vandy lost last two bowls 41-17/45-38; their last bowl win was in 2013.

— Vanderbilt (-9) whacked Hawai’i 63-10 in LY’s opener.
— Since 2018, SEC teams are 10-5 ATS against Mountain West opponents.

San Jose State @ USC
San Jose State
— last 3 years, Spartans are 19-13 SU (27-59 from 2013-19)
— 9 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 86 starts back on offensive line.
— senior QB has started 35 games, 23 at Hawai’i.
— Since 2014, Spartans are 16-24 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last three years, San Jose is 3-6 ATS out of conference.
— Spartans lost last two bowls; their last bowl win was in 2015.

— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense
— 95 starts back on offensive line
— junior QB has started 21 games, is favored to win Heisman Trophy.
— In his career, Riley is 23-15 ATS as a home favorite, 5-2 at USC.
— In his career, underdog is 17-8-1 ATS in Riley’s road games.
— USC is 1-4 SU in last five bowls (favored in 3 of 5 games)
— Their last bowl win was 52-49 over Penn State in 2016 Rose Bowl

— USC (-14) beat San Jose State 30-7 here two years ago.
— Pac-12 teams were 7-3 ATS vs Mountain West LY (15-25 ATS from 2017-21)

FIU @ Louisiana Tech
Florida International
— last four years, FIU is 11-31 ATS, 13-28-1 ATS
— junior QB started 10 games last year.
— 5 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 41 starts back on offensive line, with a new OL coach
— Last four years, Panthers are 5-13 ATS as a road underdog..
— FIU was 4-4 ATS in conference LY (2-16-1 ATS from 2019-21)
— FIU lost three of last four bowls SU; they haven’t been to bowl since 2019.

Louisiana Tech
— Tech went 3-9/3-9 SU the last two years.
— junior QB started 29 games at Boise State.
— 8 starters back on offense, 4 on defense
— 76 starts back on offensive line; one guy is in his 7th college season. 
— since 2017, Bulldogs are 10-13 ATS as a home favorite.
— since 2017, Bulldogs are 19-22-1 ATS in conference games.
— Tech won four of last five bowls SU (last bowl was in 2020).

— FIU (+6) beat Louisiana Tech 42-34 in OT last year.

Movie of the DayTrouble with the Curve (2012)— A daughter tries to fix her dysfunctional relationship with her aging father, a longtime baseball scout, by helping him on a scouting trip, which could be his last.

Clint Eastwood is the scout; his character has vision issues, which is a problem for a scout. Amy Adams is his daughter, Justin Timberlake is another scout. Very good cast: John Goodman, Ed Lauter, Chelcie Ross, Matthew Lillard, Jack Gilpin.

NFL Trend of the Day— Last seven years, Baltimore Ravens are 6-1 SU/ATS in Week 1.

— Before Monday night, last team to beat the Ravens in a preseason game was Atlanta, which edged Baltimore 20-19. Ravens had won 24 exhibition games in a row since then.

— If I ran a pro football team, no way would I want a rookie quarterback unless he started for 2+ years in college. The more football you play, the better prepared you are for the NFL.

— Florida Atlantic’s starting QB this year will be Casey Thompson, who has also played at Texas and Nebraska. He played for current FAU coach Tom Herman at Texas.

— Apparently Albert Pujols is the only hitter ever who hit 40+ home runs in a season, with every home run against a different pitcher. This season, Atlanta’s Matt Olson is on a similar path, with 43 home runs against 43 different pitchers. 

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

— Mariners 14, White Sox 2— Seattle can do n0 wrong right now; they give Julio Rodriguez the night off, but still score five runs in top of the first and jog to an easy win here. Mariners are 24-6 in their last 30 games.

— Weird story in the NBA; the Knicks are suing the Toronto Raptors and one of the Knicks’ former employees, who the Knicks alleged “illegally procured and then disclosed proprietary information” to their Atlantic Division rival.

According to the lawsuit, the former employee sent the Raptors thousands of confidential files — including play frequency reports, a prep book for the 2022-23 season, video scouting files, opposition research and more — after the team began recruiting him to join their organization in summer 2023. Corporate espionage– no bueno.

— Commanders 29, Ravens 28— Washington kicks a 49-yard FG with 0:09 left, ends Ravens’ 24-game winning streak in preseason games. Commanders outgained Baltimore 426-334, but Lamar Jackson didn’t play, while Washington’s starting QB Howell was 10-25/188 passing, with 2 TD’s.

— Odd football stat— Last year, Cincinnati Bengals’ defense faced the other team’s #1 QB on only 48.2% of their snaps, the lowest of any team in the last ten years. 

— Dallas Cowboys’ first-ever game, way back in 1960, was a 16-10 loss in an exhibition game to the 49ers- the game was played in Seattle, 16 years before the Seahawks came into existence.

— Atlanta Braves are going to be good for a while; here are some of their key players and how long they’re signed on with the Braves until:

2027— Ozzie Albies
2028— Ronald Acuna
2029— Sean Murphy
2030— Matt Olson
2032— Michael Harris
2033— Austin Riley

— Braves’ OF Eddie Rosario was the 6th Brave this season named NL Player of the Week.

— Movie of the Day— Airplane (1980)— After the crew becomes sick with food poisoning, a passenger who is a neurotic ex-fighter pilot must land a commercial plane full of passengers safely.

This is a very funny movie; no joke is too dumb for this movie or its sequel.

Robert Hays is the ex-fighter pilot, Peter Graves is the pilot, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is his co-pilot. Leslie Nielsen is a doctor “I’m not kidding and don’t call me Shirley” and Lloyd Bridges is an air traffic controller “I picked a bad week to give up sniffing glue”

Robert Stack and Barbara Billingsley (the mom on Leave it to Beaver) are also in this movie.

— NFL Trend of the Day— since 2015, Arizona Cardinals are 12-25 ATS as a home favorite.

— Only five teams since 1979 have turned a triple play and hit a grand slam in the same game:
1979— Blue Jays
2002— Mets
2017— Tigers
2019— White Sox
2023— Angels (Friday)— they were only team of the five to lose the game.

— Only four players have hit 15+ home runs in each of the last seven years:
Mookie Betts
Manny Machado
Jose Ramirez
Eugenio Suarez

— There is a pitcher over in Japan who is expected to be in the major leagues next year; he is said to be the best Japanese pitching prospect since Shohei Ohtani— his name is Yoshinobu Yamamoto— he is 12-5 in 18 games this year for the Orix Buffaloes. Yamamoto turns 25 next week.

— Baltimore Orioles’ over/under win total for this season was 76.5; they’ve already gone over that number.

— Padres 6, Marlins 2— Ha-Seong Kim hit a grand slam on an 0-2 pitch, the first Padre to do that since Alex Dickerson in 2016.

— Arizona 4, Texas 3 (11)
Rangers scored twice in 11th inning, Arizona scored three times. 
Texas has now lost five games in a row, still leads AL West by 1.5 games.

— A’s 6, Royals 4
Brent Rooker hit a walk-off homer for Oakland.
A’s are 8-6 when Blackburn starts, 27-84 in all their other games.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards- Phillies, Giants, Cubs
AL: Orioles, Twins, Rangers. Wild Cards- Rays, Astros, Mariners

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

— Brian Hoyer is a backup QB for the Las Vegas Raiders; he’ll be 38 in October; from the look of his career history, he could write a hell of a book someday:

2009-11— New England, threw 43 passes in 13 games, no starts.
2012— Lost his only start for the Cardinals.
2013-14— went 10-6 in 16 starts for Cleveland.
2015— went 5-4 in nine starts for Houston
2016— went 1-4 in five starts for Chicago— he must be very good at packing.

2017— went 0-6 in six starts for the 49ers.
Also threw 6 passes in 5 games as a backup in New England.
2018— threw 2 passes in 5 games as a backup in New England, won a Super Bowl ring.
2019— lost his only start for Indianapolis.
2020-22— went 0-2 in 7 games (2 starts) for New England
2023— Now he is in Las Vegas as a backup for the Raiders.

Three different stints in Foxboro, with Belichick/Brady.
Hasn’t won a start in seven years, but is still in the league.
By my count, his career earnings are $61,907,222.

TV networks should be throwing cash at this guy, as soon as he retires as a player.

— Most touchdowns in the NFL the last two years:
38— Austin Ekeler, LAC
26— James Conner, Ariz

— Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson is 24-29 in his last 29 field goal tries of 50+ yards.

— Movie of the Day— The Fugitive (1993)— A doctor who was unjustly accused of murdering his wife, must find the real killer while being the target of a nationwide manhunt led by a respected U.S. Marshal.

Harrison Ford is the doctor, Sela Ward is the wife, Tommy Lee Jones is the marshal.

Excellent movie; the doctor manages to stay one step ahead of the authorities for two whole hours, until the police realize he actually didn’t kill his wife.

— NFL Trend of the Day— since 2017, Houston Texans are 9-19-2 ATS as a favorite; this year, they’re on their fourth head coach in four seasons.

— It is 3am Saturday night/Sunday morning, and I stumble across a live basketball game from Abu Dhabi on TV— Greece-Germany, with Bill Raftery the analyst. Of course, I put the remote down and watch the rest of the game.

High-level basketball; Germany pulled away at the end, won 84-71.

Then Sunday afternoon, Germans played the USA team— they led by 16, looked poised to to post big upset, but Team USA closed the game on a 22-5 run  and won 99-91.

Sounds like the FIBA World Cup is going to screw up my sleep for the next few weeks.

— Random fact: Ritz Crackers are the official cracker of USA Basketball.

— Boston 6, New York 5— Bronx Bombers have lost eight in a row for the first time since 1995.

— Twins 2, Pirates 0— Minnesota picked Dallas Keuchel up off the scrap heap; he had a no-hitter going thru six innings in this game.

— White Sox 10, Rockies 5— Chicago scored seven runs in the 8th inning.

— Brewers 6, Rangers 2— Max Scherzer struggled, getting only 11 outs while throwing 99 pitches, giving up three runs.

— Blue Jays 10, Reds 3— Brandon Belt hit two homers for Toronto.

— RIP to Maxie Baughan, 85, who passed away this weekend.

Maxie Baughan was a linebacker; he is in the College Football Hall of Fame from his days at Georgia Tech. He played 14 years in the NFL, with Eagles, Rams, Washington.

When I became a Rams’ fan in the late 60’s at age 6, Baughan was a linebacker for the Rams when George Allen coached the team. He intercepted a pass to seal a win against the Packers in 1967, helping the Rams make the playoffs, making 7-year old me very happy.

He moved on to Washington with coach Allen and finished his career there— he had a great career. RIP, sir. 

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards- Phillies, Giants, Cubs
AL: Orioles, Twins, Rangers. Wild Cards- Rays, Astros, Mariners

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

You think Julio Rodriguez will be Player of the Week this week?

Mariners 10, Astros 3
Mariners’ OF was 13-16 at the plate Thursday-Saturday, then went 4-6 Saturday, so he is 17-22 at the plate in his last four games. 17 hits in four games in an MLB record- wow.

Jose Altuve also got his 2,000th career hit in this game.

— Red Sox 8, New York 1— Luis Urias is the first player in the majors to hit grand slams in consecutive trips to the plate since Josh Willingham with Washington in 2009— Willingham hit his two grand slams in consecutive innings.

The last time a Boston player hit a grand slam in back/back games was Jimmie Foxx, in 1940.

New York has lost seven games in a row, outscored 45-15.

— Dodgers 3-3, Marlins 1-1— Dodgers have won 13 of their last 14 games, lead NL West by 12 games.

— Arizona 6-8, Padres 4-1— San Diego is 4-10 in its last 14 games; they look like a dead team.

— Phillies 12, Nationals 3— Washington led this game 3-0 after six innings; game was 3-3 after seven innings, then the Phillies scored eight runs in the 8th, and the Nationals wound up using a position player to pitch in the ninth.

Trey Turner hit two homers in the 8th inning, off the same pitcher.

— Mets 13, Cardinals 2— St Louis lost its last four games, outscored 32-5.

— Here’s a question for you; Cardinals’ prospect Masyn Winn got his first major league hit Friday night; the baseball was thrown into the stands, and some lady wound up with it, but that is a very valuable baseball to Masynn Winn— his first hit. 

At first apparently, the lady wasn’t eager to give up the ball, but eventually she traded it in for some merchandise, an autographed ball, jersey and hat.

— Movie of the Day— The Hangover (2009)— Three friends wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and with the bachelor missing. They make their way around Las Vegas in order to find their friend so they can get back to Los Angeles for his wedding.

Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong; this is a funny movie- they made two sequels. Actually Hangover 2 is almost the exact same movie, except it is set in Thailand, not Las Vegas— it is terrible. Hangover 3 is pretty good.

— NFL Trend of the Day—since 2014, San Francisco 49ers are:
9-15 ATS as a favorite of 3 or fewer points.
14-8 ATS as an underdog of 3 or fewer points.

— Colts 24, Bears 17— Colts sat rookie QB Richardson here; he only started 13 games at Florida, played 29 snaps last week. Doesn’t he need the reps?

Name to remember: Bears’ backup QB Tyson Bagent, who played at D-II Shepherd U in West Virginia. He led a 92-yard TD drive in this game and is impressing Chicago coaches— he averaged 300 yards a game passing in his college career (four years).

— Raiders 34, Rams 17— Jimmy Garoppolo was 8-1 against the Rams when he played for the 49ers (he lost NFC title game two years ago); he made his Raiders debut here, leading a 68-yard TD drive in his only action.

— 49ers 21, Denver 20— Brock Purdy played for first time since tearing the UCL in his right elbow January 29; he went 4-of-5 for 65 yards. 49ers scored nine points in last 2:34 to win this game, kicking 32-yard FG at the gun for the win.

— Chiefs 38, Cardinals 10— Kansas City played starters until midway thru 2nd quarter; they outgained Arizona, 504-286.

— Titans 24, Vikings 16— Malik Willis played whole game at QB for Tennessee; rookie QB Will Levis was banged up, didn’t play. Minnesota’s entire 1st team OL sat this game out. 

— Kansas-Illinois will play a nationally televised exhibition basketball game October 29, with proceeds going to the wildfire victims on Maui. Jayhawks’ coach Bill Self returns to the place where he used to work— game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

— Paid attendance at Saratoga Saturday was 39,743 fans, at $10 a pop, so the NYRA had $397,430 in its coffers before they sold a program, a hot dog or a drink, and that doesn’t include the high prices ($20) they charge for parking.

$10 to get into a racetrack to watch 10 races is a rip off; most they should charge is $1 or $2- their food prices are also way too high. It is a fun day to sit outside with friends and watch the races, but you could set that up in your backyard for free.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards- Phillies, Giants, Cubs
AL: Orioles, Twins, Rangers. Wild Cards- Rays, Astros, Mariners

Saturday’s Den: Looking at college QB transfers, and some other stuff

— There is a hurricane headed towards southern California Sunday/Monday, so MLB has moved three of Sunday’s games, and turned them into day/night doubleheaders on Saturday.

Marlins-Dodgers, Arizona-Padres and Rays-Angels are the series affected by the changes.

— By my count, there are 68 college football teams in the Power 5 conferences. Of those 68 teams, 36 of them are slated to start a QB this season who began his college career somewhere else, then transferred to that school (not counting junior college transfers).

Information is courtesy of the Phil Steele college football magazine, an excellent resource:

Alabama— Buchner, 3 starts at Notre Dame
Auburn— Thorne, 25 starts at Michigan State
Florida— Mertz, 32 starts at Wisconsin
Kentucky— Leary, 26 starts at NC State.
LSU— Daniels, 29 starts at Arizona State
Ole Miss— Dart, 6 games at USC
South Carolina— Rattler, 17 starts at Oklahoma
Tennessee— Milton, 16 games at Michigan.

Big 14
Illinois— Altmyer, one start at Ole Miss
Indiana— Jackson, 3 games at Tennessee
Iowa— McNamara, 16 starts at Michigan
Nebraska— Sims, 23 starts at Georgia Tech
Northwestern— Bryant, 11 starts at Cincinnati
Purdue— Card, 5 starts at Texas
Wisconsin— Mordecai, 24 starts at SMU

Georgia Tech— King, 7 starts at Texas A&M
Louisville— Plummer, 12 starts at Cal
NC State— Armstrong, 30 starts at Virginia
Pitt— Jurkovec, 24 starts at Boston College
Virginia— Muskett, 23 starts at I-AA Monmouth
Virginia Tech— Drones, 5 games at Baylor

Big X
BYU— Slovis, 38 starts at USC/Pitt.
UCF— Plumlee, 9 starts at Ole Miss
Cincinnati— Jones, 7 starts at Arizona State
Houston— Smith, 8 starts at Texas Tech
Oklahoma— Gabriel, 26 starts at UCF
Oklahoma State— Bowman, 26 games at Texas Tech/Michigan
Texas Tech— Shough, 7 starts at Oregon.

Arizona— DeLaura, 15 starts at Washington State
Arizona State— Pyne, 10 starts at Notre Dame
California— Jackson, 7 games at TCU
Oregon— Nix, 34 starts at Auburn
Oregon State— Uiagalelei, 28 starts at Clemson
USC— Williams, 7 starts at Oklahoma
Washington— Penix, 17 starts at Indiana.

— Movie of the Day— The Natural (1984)— An unknown ballplayer in his 30’s comes seemingly out of nowhere to become a big-time major leaguer.

Robert Redford plays Roy Hobbs, Wilford Brimley is manager of the New York Knights, Robert Duvall is a sportswriter trying to uncover Hobbs’ past. Kim Basinger, Darren McGavin, Barbara Hershey, Glenn Close are also in the movie— excellent cast.

Baseball scenes were filmed at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, where the Bills played before they built Rich Stadium in Orchard Park. 

— NFL Trend of the Day— Last three years, over is 16-6-1 in Raiders’ home games.

— White Sox SS Tim Anderson got into a fight with Cleveland on August 5; MLB suspended him for six games, but he didn’t start serving the suspension until Friday night. Why wait so long? Appeals should be the next morning, via Zoom.

— San Diego Padres this season:
6-19 in one-run games.
13-15 in two-run games.
39-30 in games decided by 3+ runs.

— Washington Commanders named Sam Howell their starting QB for Week 1 against Arizona; Howell started the last game last season, his rookie year— he started for three years in college at North Carolina.

Last seven years, Washington will now have started seven different QB’s in Week 1.

— Indiana Hoosiers basketball coach Mike Woodson got a $1M raise; he will now make $4.2M a year, ranking him behind Tom Izzo/Brad Underwood amongst Big 14 coaches. 

— Rays 9, Angels 6 (10)
Angels led 5-1 after three innings.
Rays had runners on 1st/3rd, no one out in top of 9th, in a 6-6 game, but then hit into a weird triple play and didn’t score.
Raley got the game-winning hit; he struck out his first four times before that.

— Nationals 8, Phillies 7
Lorenzen no-hit Washington last week; he gave up 7 runs in 3.1 IP in this game.

— Braves 4, Giants 0— Atlanta hasn’t given up a run since the 9th inning Monday night.

— Padres 4, Arizona 0— Game was scoreless until San Diego scored four runs in bottom of the 8th; Kim got the go-ahead hit, then Machado added a 2-run tater.

— Marlins 11, Dodgers 3— Sandy Alcantara ends the Dodgers’ 11-game win streak.

— Seattle 2, Astros 0— Mariners win despite going 0-17 with runners in scoring position; they got solo homers from Rodriguez, Ford.

— Reds 1, Toronto 0— Rookie Christian Encarnacion-Strand homered in the 9th inning; not many games with a total of 10.5 end 1-0. 

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

— Pitchers who were dealt/added at the trade deadline, in their new homes:
Lance Lynn, LA— 4-0, 1.80 in four starts
Michael Lorenzen, Phil— 2-0, 1.06 in two starts, including a no-hitter.
Rich Hill, SD— 0-3, 9.53 in three starts.

Jack Flaherty, Balt— 1-2, 7.07 in three starts
Justin Verlander, Hst— 2-1, 5.00 in three starts (Astros scored 11-12 in wins)
Lucas Giolito, LAA— 1-3, 8.14 in four starts
Dallas Keuchel, Minn— 0-1, 9.45 in two starts.
Aaron Civale, TB— 1-1, 2.93 in three starts
Max Scherzer, Tex— 3-0, 1.80 in three starts,
Jordan Montgomery, Tex— 2-1, 2.50 in three starts.

— Further evidence that run differential is a mostly-useless statistic
San Diego’s run differential: +62, record 58-64
Baltimore’s run differential: +58, record 74-47

You win/lose a lot of close games, your run differential will be misleading.

— Padres’ ace Blake Snell is 10-8, 2.65 in 25 starts this season, best ERA among starting pitchers, but he has also thrown only 136 innings this year, 5.44 IP/start.

In 25 starts this season, Snell has gotten only 3 outs ALL SEASON after the 6th inning— he pitched 7 innings in a June 11 start at Colorado.

Great pitchers help take the strain off a team’s bullpen but going deep into games, but Snell does not do that. Will be interesting to see what kind of a contract he gets this winter.

— Since All-Star break, Washington Nationals are 9-3 in games where the winning run scored from the 7th inning on.

— Oakland A’s are having a miserable season; they’re 34-87, which is hideous, but they’re 7-6 when Paul Blackburn is their starting pitcher. Blackburn was in the All-Star Game last year, it is probably surprising they haven’t traded him to a contender, like they have with all their other good players.

— If you watch a ballgame and when the game ends, you don’t know who the home plate umpire was, it pretty much means that umpire did a good job with balls/strikes.

— Movie of the Day— Good Will Hunting (1997)— A custodian at M.I.T., has a gift for math, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

Matt Damon is the custodian, Robin Williams is his counselor. Ben Affleck is Damon’s friend, Minnie Driver is a woman he meets in a bar who becomes his girlfriend.

Robin Williams is great in this movie; in 2014, after he passed away in real life, the bench in the Boston Public Garden where he and Matt Damon had their conversation scene became an impromptu memorial site. People left flowers, quotes, and various items at the bench.

— NFL Trend of the Day— Rams are 6-0 SU/4-2 ATS in their last six road openers.

— Why isn’t Tom Coughlin in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? He won two Super Bowls with the Giants, but did his best coaching in Jacksonville— he had the Jaguars in the AFC championship game in their second year of existence, again in their fifth year in the NFL.

— Michigan State has had two basketball coaches, since 1976.
Pittsburgh Steelers have had three head coaches, since 1969.

— NBA schedule was announced Thursday; teams are down to an average of 9.0 back/backs per team, the lowest it has ever been. God forbid guys play ball on consecutive nights, but they’ve stretched the season out some to reduce back/backs.

Back before the Magic/Bird era, when the NBA wasn’t as popular, teams often played three games in three nights on weekends. No one knew what “load management” was back then.

— Mariners 6, Royals 4— Julio Rodriguez went 5-for-5, with five RBI; he is hitting .321 since the All-Star break. He hit .249 before the break.

— Mets 4, Cardinals 2— After the game, St Louis put OF Lars Nootbaar on the IL, brought up rookie SS Masyn Winn from AAA, one of their best prospects.

— Arizona 3, San Diego 1— Rookie reliever Justin Martinez got the last four outs for his first MLB save; he throws very hard. San Diego is 3-8 in its last 11 games.

— Dodgers 1, Brewers 0— Backup catcher Austin Barnes homered in the bottom of the 8th inning for the game’s only run. 

— Browns 18, Eagles 18
Quarterbacks who played in this game didn’t play well.
Browns missed a 41-yard FG to win the game with 2:00 left. 

Thursday’s Den: Mountain West football knowledge………

Air Force
— Last four years, Air Force is 34-11 SU, 3-0 in bowls.
— Wake Forest was 19-8 SU the last 2 years; why would he leave?
— 5 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 62 starts back on offensive line.
— whoever the new QB is has to replace a 3-year starter.
— Air Force has been favored in 34 of its last 45 games.
— In his career, Calhoun is 35-26-2 ATS as an underdog.
— Air Force won its last four bowl games, scoring 34.3 ppg.

Boise State
— Last nine years, Boise State is 86-28 SU.
— 9 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 80 starts back on offensive line.
— soph QB has started 10 games.
— Last four years, Boise is 6-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— Since 2018, Broncos are 26-14-1 ATS in conference games.
— Last three years, Boise is 7-13 ATS coming off a win.
— Since 2017, Broncos are 2-1 SU in bowls, also had 2 bowls cancelled.

Colorado State
— Last five years, Colorado State is 14-38 SU.
— During those five years, Rams are minus-30 in turnovers.
— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 46 starts back on offensive line, but only one starter is back.
— soph QB Millen has 10 career starts
— Since 2017, Colorado State is 5-11 ATS as a home favorite.
— Rams lost their last four bowls, giving up 41.3 ppg.
— Their last bowl win was in 2013, 48-45 over Washington State.

Fresno State
— Last six years, Bulldogs are 49-24 SU.
— 4 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 63 starts back on offensive line.
— soph QB started 11 games at Central Florida.
— Under Tedford, Bulldogs are 10-3-1 ATS as an underdog.
— In his college career, Tedford is 42-31 ATS as a home favorite.
— Fresno won its last four bowl games, scoring 30.8 ppg.
— Tedford was Aaron Rodgers’ college coach at Cal. 

— last three years, Rainbows are 14-21 SU.
— 5 starters back on offense, 9 on defense
— 67 starts back on offensive line.
— junior QB has 13 career starts. 
— Since 2019, Rainbows are 11-3-1 ATS as a home underdog.
— Since 2014, Hawai’i is 7-22-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last five years, Hawai’i is 11-17 ATS as a road underdog.
— Hawai’i won three of its last four bowl games.

— Nevada was 2-10 LY, after four straight winning seasons.
— 6 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 38 starts back on offensive line.
— soph QB started 12 games at Colorado.
— Since 2017, Wolf Pack is 11-17 ATS outside the Mountain West.
— Since 2015, Nevada is 36-28 ATS inside the Mountain West.
— Since 2016, Nevada is 15-21 ATS coming off a win.
— Nevada is 3-2 SU in last five bowls, wasn’t favored in any of them.

— Movie of the Day— Shopgirl (2005)— Story about a love triangle between a bored salesgirl, a wealthy businessman and an aimless young man.

Steve Martin is the businessman; he wrote the novel this movie is based on. Claire Danes is the salesgirl, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras is one of her co-workers— she is married in real life to Pete Sampras, the tennis star.

This is a good movie, a nice movie, little sad at times; Steve Martin is a brilliant guy, this is another example of that. 

— NFL Trend of the Day— Since 2016, Jets are 17-29-2 ATS as a road underdog.

— Last nine years, UNLV is 29-74 SU.
— 6 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 55 starts back on offensive line, but there isn’t much depth.
— soph QB has 12 career starts.
— New coach Odom is 17-11 ATS in home games, 6-13 ATS on road.
— Since 2014, Rebels are 19-32 ATS at home.
— Rebels haven’t been to a bowl game since 2013.
— UNLV’s last bowl win was in 2000.

New Mexico
— Last six years, Lobos are 15-52 SU/19-47-1 ATS
— 8 starters back on offense, 2 on defense
— 54 starts back on offensive line.
— junior QB started 25 games at UAB.
— Since 2015, New Mexico is 4-17 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last six years, Lobos are 14-34 ATS coming off a loss.
— Last two years, New Mexico was 2-13-1 ATS in Mountain West games.
— New Mexico hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2016.

San Diego State
— Last eight years, Aztecs are 74-30 SU
— 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 53 starts back on offensive line.
— junior QB has 8 career starts.
— Last eight years, San Diego State is 16-10-1 ATS as road favorite.
— Since 2013, Aztecs are 10-3-1 ATS as a home underdog.
— Aztecs are 18-32 ATS in last 50 games as a home favorite.
— San Diego State is 2-3 SU in last five bowls (favored in 4 of 5)

San Jose State
— last 3 years, Spartans are 19-13 SU (27-59 from 2013-19)
— 9 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 86 starts back on offensive line.
— senior QB has started 35 games, 23 at Hawai’i. 
— Since 2014, Spartans are 16-24 ATS as a road underdog.
— Under Brennan, San Jose is 17-13-1 ATS at home.
— Last five years, San Jose is 23-16 ATS in Mountain West games.
— Spartans lost last two bowls; their last bowl win was in 2015.

Utah State
— Utah State is 17-10 SU in two years under Anderson.
— 4 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 32 starts back on offensive line; very inexperienced.
— junior QB has 8 career starts.
— Over last 10 years, Aggies are 25-14-2 ATS as a home favorite.
— Over last 10 years, Aggies are 5-13 ATS as a home underdog.
— In 2018, Aggies were +14 in turnovers; since then, they’re minus-17
— Utah State is 3-2 SU in its last five bowl games.

— Last three years, Cowboys are 16-16 SU/15-16-1 ATS
— 5 starters back on offense, 10 on defense
— 52 starts back on offensive line.
— senior QB has 12 career starts.
— Under Bohl, Wyoming is 30-21-1 ATS at home.
— Since 2016, Cowboys are 21-14 ATS coming off a loss.
— Since 2018, Wyoming is 6-10 ATS as a road underdog.
— Wyoming won/covered three of its last four bowl games.