Wednesday’s Den: Part 2 of our Big X preview……..

Part 2 of our Big X football preview……..

Kansas
Kansas was 9-4 LY, their first winning season since 2008.
Jayhawks have 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
Kansas has 130 returning starts on offensive line. 
Junior QB Daniels has 20 career starts. 

In his career, Leipold is 19-8-1 ATS as home favorite, 6-2 at Kansas.
In his career, Leipold is 16-7-1 ATS as home dog, 11-19-1 as road dog.
Last two years, Kansas was 7-1 ATS in non-league games.
Jayhawks are 4-1 SU/5-0 ATS in their last five bowl games.

TCU
TCU was 5-7 last year, their fourth losing season in five years.
The one winning year was 2022; they lost national title game 65-7 to Georgia.
TCU has 7 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
Horned Frogs have 77 returning starts on the offensive line.
Soph QB Hoover started six games last year. 

Under Dykes, TCU is 11-6-1 ATS as a favorite.
In his career, Dykes is 28-21 ATS as home favorite, 13-17-1 as road favorite.
Horned Frogs are 7-2-1 ATS in last ten games as a road favorite.
TCU won three of last four bowls, 2-1 ATS as a bowl underdog.

West Virginia
WVU was 9-4 last year, their best season since 2016.
Mountaineers have 8 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
Mountaineers have 113 returning starts on offensive line.
Senior QB Greene has 14 career starts.

Since 2017, WVU is 18-8 ATS as a home favorite.
Since 2018, WVU is 3-7 ATS as a road favorite.
Since 2018, WVU is 22-30 ATS coming off a win.
Mountaineers are 2-3 SU/1-4 ATS in last five bowl games.

Arizona
Arizona was 10-3 LY; their coach jumped ship, to Washington.
New coach Brennan rebuilt San Jose’s program, did real good job there.
Wildcats have 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
Wildcats have 86 returning starts on offensive line.
Soph QB Fifita started nine games LY, threw 25 TD’s, 6 INTs.

Arizona had +5 turnover ratio LY; from 2020-22, they were minus-32.
Last three years, Wildcats are 16-9 ATS as an underdog.
In his career, Brennan is 25-20-1 ATS as an underdog. 
Arizona is 3-2 in its last five bowls; average total, 69.2.

Iowa State
ISU was 7-6 LY, their sixth winning season in seven years.
Cyclones have 10 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
Cyclones have 90 returning starts on offensive line.
Soph QB Becht started 13 games last season.

Under Campbell, ISU is 24-14-2 ATS as an underdog.
Under Campbell, Cyclones are 58-44-3 ATS in conference games.
Last three years, ISU is 5-13 ATS coming off a win.
Cyclones are 1-4 SU/2-3 ATS in last five bowls.

Oklahoma State
OSU was 10-4 last year, their 18th consecutive winning year. 
Cowboys have 10 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
Cowboys have 214 returning starts on offensive line.
Senior QB Bowman is in his 7th college season (13 starts LY)

Under Gundy, OSU is 32-21-2 ATS as a road favorite.
Since 2016, Cowboys are 8-1 ATS as a home underdog.
Since 2018, Cowboys are 19-9-1 ATS coming off a loss.
Oklahoma State won three of its last four bowl games.

Kansas State
Last three years, K-State was 8-5/10-4/9-4 SU.
Wildcats have 4 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
Wildcats have 73 returning starts on OL, only 36 at I-A level.
LY’s QB bolted to Ohio State; soph QB started one game LY.

Last two years, K-State is 11-2 ATS as a home favorite.
Under Klieman, Wildcats are 16-9 ATS as an underdog.
Since 2018, K-State is 18-9 ATS in non-league games.
K-State is 3-2 SU in last five bowls (favorites 5-0 ATS)

Utah
Utah was 8-5 last year, their 10th consecutive winning year. 
Utes have 6 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
Utah has 60 returning starts on offensive line.
Senior QB Rising (knee) DNP LY; he’s got 23 career starts.

Under Whittingham, Utah is 52-41-2 ATS as a home favorite.
Under Whittingham, Utah is 27-17 ATS as road underdog.
Since 2018, Utes are 6-13-1 ATS in non-conference games.
Utah lost its last five bowls; they were favored in three of them.

Famous birthdays, July 24:
Michael Richards, 75
Steve Grogan, 71
Joe Barry Carroll, 66

Kevin Butler, 62
Karl Malone, 61
Barry Bonds, 60

Rick Fox, 55
Jennifer Lopez, 55
Anna Paquin, 42

  Rough week for the Seattle Mariners; they put OF Julio Rodriguez (sprained ankle), SS JP Crawford (broken finger) on the IL, also dumped 1B Ty France. 

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

— The best major league managers weren’t great players; take Arizona’s Torey Lovullo, who played in 303 big league games over eight seasons, for seven different teams.

1988-89- 41 games with Detroit
1991- 22 games with Bronx
1993- 22 games with the Angels.
1994- 116 games with Seattle.
1996- 36 games with the A’s.
1998- 6 games with Cleveland.
1999- 17 games with the Phillies.

Lovullo hit .224 in his career as a utility guy; he’s made the playoffs twice in his seven years managing Arizona, getting the Diamondbacks to the World Series last year.

— Team USA 92, Germany 88
Germany led 82-81 with less than 4:00 to play.
Lebron James had the last 11 points Team USA scored. 
Team USA was 5-0 in tuneup games, but only the Serbia win was impressive.

— Didn’t know they have 3-on-3 basketball at the Olympics, but they do; it appears that former BYU star Jimmer Fredette is on the American team.

— Miami 120, Memphis 118, OT
Heat wins the NBA Summer League
Pelle Larsson had the game-winning hoop for Miami.
Memphis led by 7 points after the third quarter.
If you like the NBA, you should visit Las Vegas next July and go to summer league games.

— Most interesting sub-plot of Week 1 in the NFL might be the Steelers visiting Atlanta. New offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh is Arthur Smith, who was the Falcons’ head coach the last three seasons, going 7-10 all three years, before they told him to take a hike.

Plus, both teams changed QB’s this winter; Russell Wilson is the Steelers’ QB, Kirk Cousins is the signal-caller for Atlanta.

— Time flies; first NFL pre-season game is a week from Thursday, when the Bears (-1.5, 33) face the Texans in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH.

— Four years after being heard saying a homophobic slur on air, former Cincinnati Reds announcer Thom Brennaman will be back in the TV booth this fall, working college football games on the CW.

Brennaman worked for Fox Sports for more than 25 years and spent 15 years as the voice of the Reds, before the incident.

— Famous birthdays, July 23:
Ronny Cox, 86
Larry Manetti, 77
Coby Dietrick, 76

Belinda Montgomery, 74
Antoine Carr, 63
Woody Harrelson, 63

Gary Payton, 56
Nomar Garciaparra, 51
Brandon Roy, 40

  Atlanta Braves’ 2B Ozzie Albies (broken wrist) is out 6-8 weeks; Braves added veteran Whit Merrifield to fill the gap, but he took a grounder off his right hand during workouts Monday afternoon, and was out of the lineup for the Braves’ game with Cincinnati Monday night. 

— Royals 10, Diamondbacks 4
Last year, Royals were 56-106.
This year, they’re 56-45.
Matt Quatraro is your AL Manager of the Year.

— Rockies 9, Red Sox 8 (12)
Ezequiel Tovar’s third hit was a walk-off single.
Boston is 0-4 coming out of All-Star break.
 
— Angels 3, Mariners 1
Seattle led 1-0 after the 7th inning.
Mariners lost six of their last seven games.

— A’s 4, Astros 0
Hogan Harris got 20 outs, didn’t allow a run.
A’s are 10-6 in their last 16 games.
Lawrence Butler is hitting .400 in July, with 22 RBI in 17 games.

— Rangers 4, White Sox 3 (10)
Joanh Heim tied game with a 9th inning single/
Wyatt Langford walked it off with a 10th inning single.
Chicago is 6-32 in games where winning run scored from 7th inning on,

— Pirates 2, Cardinals 1
Pittsburgh has won 7 of its last 8 games.
Nick Gonzales had the game-winning hit in the 8th inning. 

Monday’s 6-pack, Quote, Quiz of the Day

Daily baseball write-up is posted; trends on teams, pitchers. 

Monday’s 6-pack:
Six lowest payrolls in baseball this year:
$63,535,003— A’s
$84,422,675— Pirates
$93,943,535— Rays
$100,242,718— Guardians
$100,533,893— Marlins
$101,673,027— Orioles

Quote of the Day 
“You’re establishing a relationship that lasts a lifetime. You know that they would be there for you, and they know that I would be there for them.”
Hall of Famer Jim Leyland, on being a big league manager

Monday’s quiz
Where did Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson play his college football?

Sunday’s quiz
Oakland A’s have retired #24 in honor of Rickey Henderson; Henderson wore #35 in his first stint with the A’s (1979-84). 

Saturday’s quiz
San Diego Padres have retired #31, in honor of Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. 

Monday’s Den: NFC trends, and some other stuff…….

— Arizona Cardinals
Last four years, they’re 5-11 ATS as a home favorite.
Rams covered their last ten visits to Arizona.

— Atlanta Falcons
Last four years, they’re 5-13 ATS as a home favorite.
Falcons have had six consecutive losing seasons.

— Carolina Panthers
Last four years, they’re 3-9 ATS as a home favorite.
Carolina is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games vs Tampa Bay

— Chicago Bears
Last three years, they’re 9-16 ATS as a road underdog.
Last four years, they’re 7-17 ATS in divisional games.

— Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys haven’t played in NFC title game since 1996.
Last three years, Dallas is 14-4 ATS in games vs NFC East rivals.

— Detroit Lions
Last three years, Detroit is 13-5 ATS in games vs NFC North rivals.
Last three years, Lions are 19-7-1 ATS in home games.

— Green Bay Packers
Last three years, Packers are 16-7 ATS as an underdog (7 SU wins last year)
Green Bay covered its last five visits to Chicago.

— Los Angeles Rams
Rams covered six of last seven games with Seattle.
Sean McVay won/covered six of his seven season openers.

— Minnesota Vikings
In 2022, Vikings were 11-1 in one-score games; last year, they were 6-8
Last two years, NFL teams were 8-19 when they played 3 weeks in row on road.
Vikings play three consecutive road games in Weeks 10-12.

— New Orleans Saints
Last three years, New Orleans is 10-16-1 ATS as a favorite.
Saints are 9-3 ATS in last 12 games against Tampa Bay.

— New Jersey Giants
Giants were an underdog in 24 of last 26 games (14-9-1 ATS)
Big Blue covered once in their last six games with Dallas.

— Philadelphia Eagles
Two new coordinators TY; Kellen Moore on offense, Vic Fangio on defense.
Why? Eagles were 1-6 SU/0-7 ATS in their last seven games LY.
Eagles play four of last five games at home TY, first time since 1951.

— San Francisco 49ers
Last two years, 49ers were a combined +23 in turnovers.
Last four years, 49ers are 16-6 ATS as an underdog.
San Francisco is 10-2-1 ATS in its last 13 NFC West games.

— Seattle Seahawks
Last three years, Seattle is 8-16 ATS as a favorite, 5-11 at home.
Seahawks covered four of last five games with Arizona.

— Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In his NFL career, Baker Mayfield is 12-24-2 ATS as a favorite.
Tampa Bay won the NFC South the last three years.

— Washington Commanders
Last three years, Washington is 5-11-2 ATS in NFC East games.
Commanders are 7-16-2 ATS in their last 25 home games.

— Famous birthdays, July 22:
Danny Glover, 78
Albert Brooks, 77
Slick Watts, 73

Dave Stieb, 67
Alvin Robertson, 62
David Spade, 60

Tim Brown, 58
Steven Jackson, 41
Ezekiel Elliott, 29

— Padres 2, Guardians 1
Cleveland didn’t get a hit until the 7th inning.
Kyle Higashioka knocked in both San Diego runs.

— Cardinals 6, Braves 2
Willson Contreras struck out three times, then homered in his 4th at-bat.
Braves lost 2B Ozzie Albies with a broken wrist.

— Blue Jays 5, Tigers 4
George Springer homered twice for Toronto.
Loss snapped Detroit’s 4-game winning streak.

— Marlins 4, Mets 2
Jazz Chisholm hit a 3-run homer.
Marlins are 35-64, but they’re 5-4 against the Mets.

— Phillies 6, Pirates 0
Rookie Tyler Phillips tossed six shutout IP.
Nick Castellanos hit his 14th homer of the season.

— Mariners 6, Astros 4
Seattle’s Luke Raley hit a 3-run homer in 6th inning.
Julio Rodriguez hurt his ankle trying to make a catch in CF.

— Dodgers 9, Red Sox 6
LA hit six home runs, including Ohtani’s 473-foot blast.
Red Six trail Kansas City by a game for the AL’s last Wild Card spot. 

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

— Team USA 101, South Sudan 100
Team USA was a 43-point favorite in this game. 43 points.
South Sudan led 58-44 at halftime.
Lebron James scored with 0:08 left to avoid a tremendous upset.

— UCLA-Gonzaga are going to play the first college basketball game in the new Intuit Dome in Los Angeles, on November 28. Intuit Dome is the Clippers’ new arena.

— Speaking of UCLA, Bruins’ alum Troy Aikman and Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson are competing over copyright issues relating to the number they both wore on the football field — 8.

Both of them apparently hold legal protection over some form of the number. Oy.

— Dodgers-Cubs will open the 2025 baseball season with two games in Japan.

Everyone else will start the 2025 season on March 27th.

— Former Packers’ WR Randall Cobb, who played college ball at Kentucky, signed on to be a football analyst for the SEC Network.

— Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas shut down for good this week; The property is closing and will be refurbished, along with an addition of a near 700-foot tall guitar-shaped hotel on the site, kind of like the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida.

Mirage had great food places; I stayed there once, 2011 or 2012, ate every day at the Carnegie Deli, which had the best (biggest) sandwiches ever. I’d ask for extra bread and take the extra sandwich up to my room to eat late at night.

— Packers are trying to sign QB Jordan Love to a new contract before the season starts,, but the teams aren’t close to a deal yet. Green Bay was 9-8 last year, in Love’s first season as the starter, his third year overall with the Packers.

Famous birthdays, July 21st:
Al Hrabosky, 75
Jon Lovitz, 67
Henry Ellard, 63

Mike Bordick, 59
Geoff Jenkins, 50
David Carr, 45

CC Sabathia, 44
Jason Thompson, 38
DeAndre Jordan, 36

Sunday would’ve been the 73rd birthday for the great actor Robin Williams. 

— Dodgers 7, Red Sox 6 (11)
Dodgers tied game in 9th/10th innings, both on hits by Kike Hernandez.
Tyler O’Neill hit two home runs for the Red Sox.

— Astros 4, Mariners 2
Houston takes over the lead in the AL West.
A month ago, they trailed Seattle by ten games.
Mariners have lost five games in a row.

— Brewers 8, Twins 4 (12)
Milwaukee led this game 1-0 in 8th inning.
Freddy Peralta tossed six shutout IP.

— A’s 8, Angels 2
Spunky A’s are 9-6 in their last 15 games.
Oakland scored 39 runs in its last three games.
Lawrence Butler was 3-4 with three RBI.

— Rays 9, New York 1
Tampa Bay was only 2nd team in last 100 years to do this in one game:
score 9+ runs
hit 4+ home runs
hold opponent to 0 or 1 run.

draw 5+ walks
steal 2+ bases
have opponent hit into 3+ double plays

— Mets 1, Marlins 0
Luis Severino tossed six shutout IP
Francisco Alvarez drove in the game’s only run.

— Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 0
Zac Gallen tossed five shutout IP, stranding nine runners.
Arizona’s bullpen allowed only one baserunner in 4 IP. 

Saturday’s Den: NFL trends, and some other stuff…….

— Baltimore Ravens
Last three years, they’re 8-2 ATS as a road underdog.
Ravens are 8-4 ATS in last 12 games where spread was 3 or fewer points.

— Buffalo Bills
Last four years, Buffalo is 49-18 in regular season, 4-4 in playoffs.
Bills are 1-4 ATS in their last five games vs Baltimore.

— Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals are 23-5-2 ATS in their last 30 non-divisional games.
Cincinnati is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six visits to Cleveland.

— Cleveland Browns
12 of their 17 games this year are against teams that had a winning record LY.
Browns are 3-7 ATS in their last ten games vs Pittsburgh.
Browns somehow went 11-7 last year, despite starting five different QB’s.

— Denver Broncos
Last three years, Broncos are 7-13 ATS as a home favorite.
Denver is 0-8 ATS in last eight road games against the Raiders.

— Houston Texans
Houston was 7-4 ATS as an underdog last year, with a rookie QB/rookie HC.
Last three years, Texans are 12-6 ATS in divisional games.

— Indianapolis Colts
Last 14 years, divisional home underdogs are 24-7 ATS in Week 1 games.
Last four years, Colts are 8-16 ATS in divisional games.

— Jacksonville Jaguars
Under Pederson, Jaguars are 10-6 ATS as an underdog.
Jacksonville is 2-7 ATS in its last nine visits to Tennessee. 

Movie of the Day: True Believer (1989)— A former civil liberties attorney now reduced to defending drug dealers becomes involved in an eight-year-old murder case- he is convinced the person convicted of the crime is innocent.

James Woods is the lawyer, Robert Downey Jr is his clerk, Margaret Colin does investigations for him. Very good movie.

— Kansas City Chiefs
In their last 27 games, Kansas City is 17-9-1 against the spread.
Last four years, Chiefs are 8-0 ATS as a road underdog.

— Las Vegas Raiders
Last two years, Silver and Back is 9-3 ATS as a home favorite.
QB Minshew is 2-13 ATS in his last 15 games as an underdog.

— Los Angeles Chargers
Jim Harbaugh was 49-27-1 as coach of the 49ers, from 2011-14 (5-3 in playoffs)
Since 2020, Chargers are 10-14-1 ATS as a home favorite. 

— Miami Dolphins
In their last three games LY, Miami was outscored 52-6 in second half.
Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since 2000 (0-6 last six)

— New England Patriots
Are playing toughest schedule in NFL this year; 3 of their first 4 games are on road.
Last two years, New England was 4-11-1 ATS at home.

— New Jersey Jets
Jets have six primetime games in first 11 weeks this season.
Robert Saleh is 18-33 SU/20-30-1 ATS as coach of the Jets.

— Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers visits Denver in Week 2; Broncos are paying 87% of Russell Wilson’s salary this year.
Last four years, Pittsburgh is 16-9 ATS in divisional games.

— Tennessee Titans
Mike Vrabel was 56-48 as Titans’ coach, but went 7-10/6-11 last two years.
Last four years, Tennessee is 10-2 ATS as a home underdog.

Famous birthdays, July 20
Tony Oliva, 86
James Harris, 77
Mike Lansford, 66

Reed Diamond, 57
Omar Epps, 51
Ray Allen, 49

Stephen Strasburg, 36
Stephen Adams, 31
Keibert Ruiz, 26

— Pirates 8, Phillies 7
Phillies led 7-4 in 7th inning, 7-6 in 9th.
Rowdy Tellez had three sac flies; very unusual.
Crowd was 39,530, Pirates’ biggest home crowd since 2015.

— Dodgers 4, Red Sox 1
Dodgers scored four runs in bottom of the 8th.
Freddie Freeman’s grand slam was a game-winner.

— Astros 3, Mariners 0
Teams are now tied for first in AL West.
On June 19, Seattle led the Astros by 10 games.

— A’s 13, Angels 3
Oakland is 8-5 in its last 13 games.
A’s scored 31 runs in their last two games.

— Rockies 7, Giants 3
San Francisco led 3-0 in sixth inning.
Brenton Doyle hit his 16th home run for Colorado.

— New York 6, Tampa Bay 1
Juan Soto went 4-4, with two doubles and a walk.
Soto is now 17-34 in his career against Zach Eflin. 

— Nationals 8, Reds 5
Patrick Corbin allowed a run in 6 IP, on his 35th birthday.
Jesse Winker got on base four times, scored twice.

— RIP to the great comedian Bob Newhart, who passed away this week at age 94.

Originally an accountant, Newhart became a comedian whose albums struck gold in the 60’s, then his TV series “The Bob Newhart Show” debuted in 1972, where he played a Chicago psychologist, Bob Hartley, who ministered to a host of eccentric patients.

Low-key and dead pan, Bob Newhart was really funny and will be missed.
RIP, sir. 

Friday’s Den: Part 1 of our Big X football preview…….

Part 1 of our Big X football preview……..

Houston
Willie Fritz is the new coach after LY’s 4-8 season.
Houston has 5 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
Cougars have 118 returning starts on OL, only 30 of them at Houston.
Senior QB Smith has 20 career starts. 

Last three years, Houston is 3-9 ATS as a home favorite.
Last eight years, Houston was 26-36-2 ATS in conference games.
In his career, Fritz is 14-7 ATS as a road favorite.
Cougars are 3-2 SU/2-2-1 ATS in their last five bowl games.

Arizona State
Last two years, Sun Devils went 3-9/3-9 SU, 5-7/6-6 ATS
ASU has 6 starters back on offense, 4 on defense.
Sun Devils have 57 returning starts on the offensive line.
Senior QB Bourguet started 6 games; they added a transfer QB from Michigan State and another QB who started 25 games at Georgia Tech/Nebraska. 

Since 2017, ASU is 8-15 ATS as an home favorite.
Since 2015. ASU is 3-10 ATS as a road favorite.
Since 2017, Sun Devils are 5-16-1 ATS in non-league games.
ASU is 1-4 SU in last five bowls; favorites covered the last four.

BYU
BYU was 5-7 last year, their worst season since 2017.
Cougars have 8 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
Cougars have 88 returning starts on the offensive line.
Senior QB Bohanon started 19 games, at Baylor/South Florida.

Under Sitake, BYU is 23-32 ATS as a favorite.
Under Sitake, BYU is 21-14-1 ATS as an underdog.
Last four years, Cougars are 3-6 ATS as a road underdog.
BYU is 3-2 SU/ATS in its last five bowl games.

Colorado
Last three years, Colorado is 9-27 SU/15-21 ATS
Tigers have 8 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
Tigers have 100 returning starts on offensive line, and a new OL coach.
QB Sanders started 11 games LY, after playing multiple years at I-AA Jackson State.

Colorado was 4-8 SU last year, despite a +9 turnover ratio.
Since 2017, Buffs are 10-20-1 ATS as a road underdog.
LY, Colorado was 6-3 ATS as an underdog, 1-3 as a favorite.
Buffs lost their last four bowls; their last bowl win was in 2004. 

Famous birthdays, July 19th:
George Dzundza, 79
Alvan Adams, 70
Anthony Edwards, 62

LeRoy Butler, 56
Rick Ankiel, 45
Adam Morrison, 40

LaMarcus Aldridge, 39
Patrick Corbin, 35
Mauricio Dubon, 30

Cincinnati
Cincinnati was 3-9 LY, their first losing season since 2017.
Bearcats have 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
Bearcats have 91 returning starts on offensive line.
Soph QB Dorsby started 7 games at Indiana last year.

Last two years, Cincinnati was 4-10 ATS as a favorite.
Last two years, Cincinnati was 3-13-1 ATS in conference games.
In his career, Satterfield is 16-9 ATS as a road favorite.
Bearcats lost their last three bowl games, scoring 11.3 ppg.

Baylor
Last two years, Bears were 6-7/3-9, after a 12-2 year in 2021.
Baylor has 10 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
Bears have 97 returning starts on the offensive line.
Senior QB Finn started 32 games at Toledo.

Under Aranda, Baylor is 8-6 ATS as home favorite, 1-4 as road faves.
Since 2018, Bears are 8-6 ATS as a home underdog.
Last 2 years, Baylor was +3 in turnovers (+31 from 2019-21)
Baylor is 3-2 SU in last five bowls (underdogs 4-1 ATS).

Texas Tech
Last three years, Texas Tech was 7-6/8-5/7-6.
Red Raiders have 8 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
Red Raiders have 125 returning starts on the offensive line.
Junior QB Morton started 12 games LY (15 TDs/8 INTs)

Under McGuire, Texas Tech is 8-5 ATS in home games.
Last 10 years, Red Raiders are 4-9 ATS as a road favorite.
Last four years, Tech had a minus-28 turnover ratio, still went 26-23 SU.
Texas Tech won its last three bowls, scoring 36.7 ppg.

Central Florida
UCF was 6-7 last year, their first losing season since 2016.
Knights have 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
UCF has 58 returning starts on offensive line.
Senior QB Jefferson started 38 games at Arkansas.

Last five years, UCF is 7-14 ATS as a road favorite.
In his career, Malzahn is 10-5 ATS as home underdog, 11-15 as road underdog.
Last five years, Knights are 5-14-1 ATS coming off a loss.
UCF lost three of its last four bowl games. 

Thursday’s Den: Random things on a summer day…….

— Every kid in America who plays high school basketball should be watching some of the NBA Summer League this week; watch it for a while, then turn the TV off and go outside and practice.

A lot.

It is REALLY HARD to make an NBA roster; Isaiah Wong was ACC Player of the Year in 2023, a third-team All-American at Miami; you have any idea how hard it is to be ACC Player of the Year?

Isaiah Wong got into one NBA game last season; he played four minutes.

This week, Wong is on the Phoenix Suns’ summer team; he scored 7 points in 12:00 off the bench in Tuesday’s 98-94 loss to Indiana, Wong’s former team.

Go outside and practice, kids…….

— One thing about playing in Summer League; you’re not just trying out for your team, you’re trying out for the other 29 teams, who all have their eyes out for prospects.

Philadelphia 76ers have only two spots open on their regular season roster, so most of the guys on their summer team are trying to impress another club, to get an invite to training camp. 

— Washington Wizards’ rookie Alex Sarr, the #2 pick in last month’s NBA Draft, went 0-15 from the floor in the Wizards’ 82-80 loss to Portland. In the scheme of things, this might not be such a big deal, but it has to be at least a little bit of a red flag.

— They’ve been calling some sketchy technical fouls in the Summer League; you could hear what was said before the technicals were called- no cursing, not even that many theatrics.

— Team USA 98, Australia 92
Anthony Davis scored 17 points, grabbed 14 rebounds in 18:00.
Americans were 12-29 on the arc
Game drew 12,217 fans at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

Team USA 105, Serbia 79
Stephen Curry scored 24 points.
Game was 40-40; Americans ended first half on a 19-5 run.
Team USA is now 3-0 in its pre-Olympic games. 

Famous birthdays, July 18
Joe Torre, 84
James Brolin, 84
Audrey Landers, 68

Jeff Lageman, 57
Anfernee Hardaway, 53
Torii Hunter, 49

Eugenio Suarez, 33
Bam Abedayo, 27
Kyle Manzardo, 24

— Episode 3 of Hard Knocks, where Saquon Barkley bolts the Giants for the division rival Eagles; two quick impressions.

Giants’ owner John Mara made it clear he wouldn’t be happy if Barkley went to the Giants’ rivals in Philadelphia, which is exactly what happened. Whoops.

Giants’ GM Joe Schoen asked Barkley if he would be willing to take $1M or so less from the Giants than the Eagles, with the inference that if he did, he’d eventually be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor. Was surprised to hear him say that.

— Fresno State football coach Jeff Tedford stepped down due to health issues; he went 45-22 in two stints at his alma mater, but he’s had recurring health problems. Fresno will have an interim coach this season.

Tedford was Aaron Rodgers’ coach at Cal; he was also a head coach in the CFL. We wish him a speedy recovery.

— Edmonton Elks fired coach/GM Chris Jones after an 0-5 start; Edmonton was 8-33 in Jones’ tenure running the club.

Movie of the Day– Absence of Malice (1981)- A prosecutor leaks to a news reporter that a liquor wholesaler is suspected in the murder of local longshoreman, the wholesaler’s life begins to unravel, until he fights back.

Paul Newman, Sally Field; two of our greatest actors, with an appearance by Wilford Brimley in the key scene at the end of the movie. Movie was made 43 years ago, but it still holds up- I was glad to find it the other night.

Baseball thoughts…….
— The All-Star uniforms were horrendous, to be kind; they need to go back to when the players wore their teams’ uniforms.

— Teoscar Hernandez is the first LA Dodger to win the Home Run Derby.

— Cincinnati rookie Rece Hinds won Player of the Week in his first week as a major leaguer, which is pretty impressive.

— One of the most surprising things this baseball season is how Cubs P Shota Imanaga has been a much better pitcher Dodgers’ free agent P Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

During spring training, NO ONE, not one person, thought that was going to happen.

— P Domingo German exercised an opt-out clause in his contract, was released by Pittsburgh. He was 4-4, 5.35 in ten starts for the Pirates’ AAA team.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Phillies, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Card: Braves, Cardinals, Mets
AL: Orioles, Guardians, Mariners. Wild Card: Bronx, Twins, Red Sox

Wednesday’s Den: Part 2 of our SEC football preview…….

Part 2 of our SEC football preview……..

— Tennessee
Last two years, Vols are 20-6 SU/17-9 ATS
Tennessee has 6 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
Vols have 112 returning starts on the offensive line;
Frosh QB Iamaleava had one start, was MVP of Citrus Bowl.

Under Heupel, Tennessee is 12-5 ATS as a home favorite.
In his career, Heupel is 3-8 ATS as an underdog.
Since 2020, Tennessee is 15-19 ATS in SEC games.
Vols are 4-1 SU/ATS in their last five bowl games.

— Oklahoma
Since 2015, Sooners are 94-24 SU (16-10 under Venables)
Oklahoma has 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
Sooners have 114 returning starts on the offensive line.
QB Gabriel bolted to Oregon; Oklahoma is very inexperienced under center.

Last 10 years, Oklahoma is 4-1 ATS as an underdog.
They’ve been favored in 126 of their last 131 games.
Last three years, Sooners are 3-9-1 ATS as a road favorite.
Since 2020, Oklahoma is 15-9 ATS as a home favorite.
Sooners are 2-3 SU/3-2 ATS in last five bowls.

— Missouri
Mizzou was 11-2 last year, their best season since 2014. 
Tigers have 9 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
Tigers have 107 returning starts on the offensive line.
Senior QB Green has started 26 games.

Under Drinkwitz, Mizzou is 4-10-1 ATS as a home favorite.
Under Drinkwitz, Mizzou is 14-9 ATS as an underdog.
Last two years, Mizzou is 11-5 ATS in SEC games.
Tigers lost three of their last four bowl games.

— LSU
In two years under Kelly, LSU is 20-7 SU/15-11-1 ATS
Tigers have 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
Tigers have 111 returning starts on the offensive line.
Junior QB Nussmeier was MVP of LSU’s 35-31 bowl win, but he threw only 78 passes LY. 1st-round draft pick Daniels leaves big shoes to fill.

In his career, Kelly is 35-17-2 ATS as an underdog.
Under Kelly, LSU is 9-2-1 ATS as a home favorite.
Last ten years, Tigers are 23-11-1 ATS coming off a loss.
LSU won five of its last six bowls, scoring 43.8 ppg.

Famous birthdays, July 17th:
David Hasselhoff, 72
Bryan Trottier, 68
Scott Norwood, 64

Bobby Thigpen, 61
Kevin Pritchard, 57
Calbert Cheaney, 53

Donny Marshall, 52
Mason Rudolph, 29
OG Anunoby, 27

— Ole Miss
Last three years, Ole Miss is 29-10 SU/20-17-2 ATS.
Rebels have 10 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
Rebels have 222 returning starts on offensive line (VERY experienced).
Junior QB Dart has started 25 games. 

Under Kiffin, Ole Miss is 7-3-1 ATS as a road favorite.
Last four years, Ole Miss is 11-5 ATS in non-conference games.
Last three years, Rebels are 15-11-2 ATS coming off a win.
Rebels are 3-2 in last five bowl games (underdogs covered last four).

— Alabama
Hard to replace a legendary coach; last 10 years, Alabama was 127-14.
New coach DeBoer was 37-9 SU at Fresno State/Washington.
Alabama has 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
Crimson Tide has 60 returning starts on the offensive line.
Junior QB Milroe has started 14 games.

Last four years, Alabama is 18-7-1 ATS as a home favorite.
Last three years, Alabama is 5-9 ATS as a road favorite.
Last five years, Crimson Tide is 0-2 ATS as an underdog (both in bowls)
Alabama is 5-2 SU/ATS in its last seven bowls.

— Texas
Texas was 12-2 LY, after going 13-12 previous two years.
Longhorns have 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
Longhorns have 123 returning starts on the offensive line.
Junior QB Ewers has 22 career starts (22 TDs, 6 INTs LY).

Under Sarkisian, Texas is 11-7 ATS as a home favorite.
In his career, Sarkisian is 10-5 ATS as home dog, 10-18 as road dog.
Since 2015, Longhorns are 6-1-1 ATS as a home underdog.
Texas is 3-2 SU in last five bowls (underdogs 4-1 ATS)

— Georgia
Last seven years, Georgia is 86-11 SU, 54-42-1 ATS.
Dawgs have 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
Georgia has 87 returning starts on offensive line.
Junior QB Beck started 14 games LY.

Under Smart, Georgia is 18-27-1 ATS as home favorite, 20-11 as road favorite.
Since 2018, Dawgs are 0-1 ATS as an underdog.
Last 10 years, Dawgs are 13-7 ATS coming off a loss.
Georgia won its last seven bowl games, last two by 65-7/63-3 scores.

Tuesday’s Den: Part 1 of our SEC football preview……..

SEC has 16 teams now; I’m going to divide the preview into two days, then I’ll do the same thing with the Big X later this week……..

— Vanderbilt
Vandy is 9-27 under Clark Lea; their last winning season was 2013.
Commodores have 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
Commodores have 121 returning starts on the offensive line;
Senior QB Pavia started 4 games at New Mexico State; his offensive coordinator there works at Vanderbilt now.

Since 2019, Vandy is 1-7 ATS as a home favorite.
Under Lea, Commodores are 4-10 ATS as a home underdog.
Since 2020, Vandy is 16-25 ATS in SEC games.
Vandy’s last bowl game was in 2018; their last bowl win, 2013.

— Mississippi State
Jeff Lebby is Miss State’s 5th head coach the last eight seasons.
Lebby was offensive coordinator at Oklahoma the last 2 years.
Bulldogs have 5 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
Bulldogs have 67 returning starts on the offensive line.
Senior QB Shapen started 23 games at Baylor.

Since 2019, MSU is 1-10-1 ATS as a home underdog.
Since 2019, MSU is 15-26-1 ATS in SEC games.
Since 2017, Bulldogs are 8-12 ATS as a road underdog.
Bulldogs are 2-3 SU/ATS in last five bowls (1-3 ATS as a favorite).

— Arkansas
Arkansas was 4-8 LY, their fifth losing season in seven years.
Razorbacks have 9 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
Razorbacks have 67 returning starts on the offensive line;
Junior QB Green started 22 games at Boise State.

Under Pittman, Arkansas is 16-7 ATS as an underdog.
Under Pittman, Arkansas is 6-11-1 ATS as a favorite.
Under Pittman, Arkansas is 19-13-2 ATS in SEC games.
Arkansas won three of last four bowl games (favorites 3-1 ATS).

— Auburn
Auburn has had three straight losing years (6-7/5-7/5-7).
Tigers have 9 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
Tigers have 87 returning starts on the offensive line.
Senior QB Thorne has 37 starts (25 at Michigan State)

In his career, Freeze is 28-13 ATS as an underdog.
In his career, Freeze is 43-28-1 ATS in home games.
Last four years, Auburn is 4-11 ATS in non-SEC games.
Auburn lost its last four bowl games, by average of 11 ppg.

Famous birthdays, July 16:
Ron Yary, 78
Ron Brewer, 69
Terry Pendleton, 64

Phoebe Cates, 61
Will Ferrell, 57
Barry Sanders, 56

Aaron Glenn, 52
Zach Randolph, 43
Jarred Kelenic, 25

— Kentucky
Kentucky had winning seasons the last 3 years, and 7 of last 8 years.
Wildcats have 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
Wildcats have 156 returning starts on the offensive line.
Junior QB Wimsatt started 13 games at Rutgers; junior QB Vandagriff was a backup at Georgia.

Last five years, Kentucky is 21-12 ATS in home games.
Last five years, Kentucky is 15-6 ATS in non-SEC games.
Under Stoops, Wildcats are 22-34-2 ATS coming off a loss.
Underdogs are 4-1 ATS in Kentucky’s last five bowl games.

— South Carolina
Under Beamer, Gamecocks are 11-4 ATS as a favorite.
Carolina has 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
Gamecocks have 118 returning starts on the offensive line.
Freshman QB Sellers threw four passes in three games LY.

Under Beamer, Gamecocks are 10-6 ATS coming off a loss.
Last four years, Carolina is 15-19 ATS in SEC games.
Under Beamer, Gamecocks are 9-5 ATS in non-SEC games.
Underdogs are 4-1 ATS in South Carolina’s last five bowls.

— Florida
Last three years, Gators were 6-7/6-7/5-7.
Six years before that, Gators were 52-24; the natives are restless.
Florida has 8 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
Gators have 80 returning starts on the offensive line.

Senior QB Mertz has 43 career starts, 32 at Wisconsin.
Last two years, Florida is 3-7 ATS as a home favorite.
In his career, Napier is 18-7-1 ATS as an underdog.
Florida is 5-14-1 ATS in its last 20 non-conference games.
Gators lost their last three bowl games, by a combined 114-40.

— Texas A&M
A&M went 5-7/7-6 last two years; they told the coach to take a hike.
Aggies have 9 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
A&M has 112 returning starts on offensive line.
Soph QB Weigman has 8 career starts.

Since 2018, A&M is 19-13 ATS as a home favorite.
In his 2 years at Duke, new HC Elko was 7-4 ATS as an underdog.
Last 10 years, Aggies are 15-26-2 ATS coming off a loss.
A&M is 3-1 SU/2-2 ATS in last four bowl games.

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

— Cleveland Guardians took 2B Travis Bazzana with the first pick of the amateur draft Sunday night, the first time a second baseman has ever been the first pick of the draft. Bazzana went to Oregon State, just like current Guardians’ star OF Steven Kwan.

— Three of the top 10 picks in the draft were players from Wake Forest; Deacons were 38-22 this past season, only 15-15 in ACC games.

— Overall, 13 of the first 16 picks were college players, who tend to get thru the minor leagues faster than high school kids.

— There have been eight guys who hit three home runs in a game this season; Michael Toglia and Lawrence Butler both did it Sunday.

I’m in a 14-team fantasy league with 30-man rosters, so 420 players are on rosters in this league; Toglia and Butler are both free agents, as I type this.

Toglia has 34 hits this season, is hitting .197; 16 of his 34 hits have been home runs. Butler is hitting .211 for Oakland.

— A’s closer Mason Miller is taking the Phillies’ private jet to the All-Star Game in Texas, along with the eight Phillies who made the All-Star Game. A’s played in Philadelphia this weekend, so nice of the Phillies to let Miller tag along on the flight to Dallas.

— On June 14, 1974, Nolan Ryan pitched 13 innings in a game against Boston, a game the Angels eventually won 4-3 in 15 innings.

Ryan faced 58 hitters, threw 278 pitches; 278 freakin’ pitches!!!! He walked 10 guys, struck out 19 more. Luis Tiant pitched the whole game for the Red Sox, facing 56 hitters.

— Genius of the Day: Marlins’ OF Dane Myers got thrown out of the game in the 8th inning of Saturday’s 10-6 loss in Cincinnati; he went into the clubhouse, angrily kicked a door there, and he broke his ankle. He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.

Famous birthdays, July 15th:
Billy Truax, 81
John Stallworth, 72
Lolita Davidovich, 63

Carnell Lake, 57
Khalid Reeves, 52
Damian Lillard, 34

Tobias Harris, 32
Masataka Yoshida, 31
Ramon Laureano, 30

— Weird Fact of the Day: Of the 35 biggest high school gyms in this country, 27 of them are in Indiana, like the gym in the movie Blue Chips.

— Main Event at this year’s World Series of Poker has 10,112 entries, at $10,000 a pop, so the prize pool is a crisp $101,120,000. 

Long time ago, when poker was shown on TV all the time, I read a couple of books, was curious about learning how to play tournament poker. After reading the books, I quickly scrapped those plans; it wouldn’t have gone well.

— On July 14, 1994, there was a CFL game where Winnipeg QB Matt Dunigan threw for 713 yards (713 yards!!!) In a 50-35 win over Edmonton. WR Alfred Jackson caught seven passes for 308 yards (44 yards/catch) and 4 touchdowns.

— Pass Interference penalties drawn by NFL offenses last year:
19- Jaguars
15- Cowboys
13- Bengals, Packers, Seahawks
12- Chargers

— New York Mets are 31-14 this season when C Francisco Alvarez plays, 18-32 when he doesn’t.

— Sometimes you get the idea that MLB has no idea how to market their own product.

The 2024 Futures Game, showcasing baseball’s up-and-coming stars, was played Saturday afternoon, while there was a full schedule of major league games going on. No bueno.

Play the damn game the night after the All-Star Game and give it a national profile, so we can see the stars of the future play.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Phillies, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Braves, Cardinals, Mets
AL: Orioles, Guardians, Mariners. Wild Cards: Bronx, Twins, Red Sox

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

— NBA Summer League is in Las Vegas for the next 10 days; you can bet on those games.

Maybe 10-12 years ago, I’m at the Summer League, in the smaller of the two gyms and I’m sitting with a buddy who lives out there. Two other guys sit in front of us, one guy was built like a weightlifter, huge guy in a tank top.

He sits down and starts rattling on about how the casino he was at put out a bad spread on the game that was about to start; Team A had won by 20 the day before, but was favored by only a couple points in this game. He was positive he had a winning ticket in his hand.

One small problem; in Summer League, the best players don’t play every game, the teams need to see all their prospects, so the rotations change from game-to-game.

The game starts, and Team B is hammering Team A; the weightlifter is getting steamed, and he was a big freakin’ guy. We moved to a different seat, to avoid the inevitable meltdown…….

Moral of the Story: Las Vegas casinos don’t put out bad spreads.

— Denver Nuggets first round draft pick DaRon Holmes tore his achilles tendon this week, will miss this coming season.

— Jeff Weltman is the President of Basketball Operations for the Orlando Magic; his father was Harry Weltman, who a long time ago was GM of the Spirits of St Louis in the old ABA, a team with an interesting collection of characters- their radio announcer back then was Bob Costas.

Orlando was 47-35 this past season, their best year since 2011; Jeff Weltman is doing a good job running things.

— There is a story out there this week how Nick Saban leaving Alabama created a domino effect of coaching changes that has reached 46 different coaching changes. 46!!!!

Saban leaves Alabama
The coach at Washington bolts to Alabama
The coach at Arizona bolts to Washington
The coach at San Jose State bolts to Arizona.

And so on and so on; lot of college football coaches are nomads.

— White Sox OF Tommy Pham has been dealt at the trading deadline three times since 2018; there is a pretty good chance this year will be the fourth time.

2018- traded by the Cardinals to Tampa Bay, who missed the playoffs.
2022- traded by the Reds to Boston, who missed the playoffs.
2023- traded by the Mets to Arizona, who lost the World Series in five games.

He can hit pretty well, is a decent outfielder; someone will add him to their lineup, trying to get an edge to make it to the postseason.

Famous birthdays, July 14th:
Ken Willard, 81
Steve Stone, 77
Robin Ventura, 57

Tim Hudson, 49
Erick Dampier, 49
Carson Kelly, 30

Lucas Giolito, 30
Alaric Jackson, 26
Joey Ortiz, 26

— Tigers 11, Dodgers 9 (10)
Detroit tied game with five runs in 9th inning.
Gio Urshela hit a walk-off homer in 10th inning.
Shohei Ohtani hit his 200th career home run. 

— Reds 10, Marlins 6
Rookie Rece Hinds has five home runs this week, his first week in the majors.
Nine extra base hits in his first six games, the most of any player in MLB history.

— Rangers 2, Astros 1 (10)
Both teams scored in first inning; game was 1-1 after nine innings.
Loss ended Houston’s 10-game home winning streak.

— Nationals 6, Brewers 5
Milwaukee scored five runs in bottom of the first inning, and that’s all.
CJ Abrams hit the game-winning, 2-run homer in the 9th inning.

— Red Sox 5, Royals 0
Kutter Crawford allowed three baserunners in his 7 IP.
Rafael Devers hit his 22nd home run this season.

— Angels 2, Mariners 1
Jose Soriano put 11 guys on base in six IP, but allowed only one run.
Seattle was 1-8 with runners in scoring position.

— There is no Sunday Night game tonight with the Amateur Draft happening and the All-Star break underway. Time goes by quickly; hard to believe July is half-over already. 

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

— Thursday in Milwaukee, Pirates took rookie pitcher Paul Skenes out after 7 innings/99 pitches, while he was throwing a no-hitter in a game Pittsburgh led, 1-0. Pirates’ bullpen got the last six outs and they won the game, 1-0.

Of course there were media geniuses questioning manager Derek Shelton, because all the media cares about is headlines like a no-hitter, when in reality, Shelton’s one and only job is keeping Skenes healthy, because he is a huge part of the Pirates’ immediate future.

Skemes is starting the All-Star Game Tuesday, one of the youngest pitchers to do that……..

— Speaking of which, they showed a graphic on MLB Network Friday, about youngest pitchers who ever started an All-Star Game. One name wasn’t familiar to me…….

Jerry Walker was only 20 years old when he started the 1959 All-Star Game; he went 11-10 in 30 games (22 starts) for the Orioles that year, but from 1960-64, he went 25-34 and was out of the major leagues after the 1964 season, when he was 24.

April 12, 1961, Orioles traded Walker to the Kansas City A’s for two players, one of whom was utility guy Dick Williams, who 11-12 years later, managed the A’s to consecutive World Series titles.

— Pirates 4, White Sox 1
White Sox ace Garrett Crochet threw only two innings/28 pitches, striking out four of the six hitters he faced. Apparently they planned it this way; no idea why. If they didn’t want him to pitch, why use him at all?

— Reds 7, Marlins 4
Rookie OF Rece Hinds hit a grand slam, his third home run in five big league games; he hit .216 in 77 games in AAA this season, so this hot streak is a pleasant surprise.

— A’s 6, Phillies 2

Not often that your starting pitching walks six guys, doesn’t strike out anyone and you still win, but that’s what happened here. Five Oakland relievers threw six shutout IP. Lawrence Butler hit a pinch-hit home run to break the game open in the 7th inning.

— Diamondbacks 5, Blue Jays 4
Toronto led this game 4-2 in 8th inning.
Geraldo Perdomo’s sac fly was the walk-off winner for Arizona.
Arizona is 48-47, over .500 for first time since April 3rd.

— Baseball stuff:
Cubs OF Cody Bellinger broke his finger.
Philadelphia Phillies DFA’d utility guy Whit Merrifield

Famous birthdays, July 13th:
Harrison Ford, 82
Danny Abramowicz, 79
Stu Lantz, 78

David Thompson, 70
Spud Webb, 61
Yadier Molina, 42

DJ LeMahieu, 36
Ty France, 30
Cody Bellinger, 29

— Typing that today is David Thompson’s 70th birthday made me feel old; Thompson was a great, great college player, who also scored 13,422 points in a nine-year career in the ABA/NBA. I was a huge fan of his NC State teams in 1972-75; Wolfpack won the national title in 1974, ending UCLA’s run of consecutive national titles.

Thompson was Michael Jordan before Jordan; he was Jordan’s favorite player when Michael was growing up. Thompson was acrobatic, brilliant, but college players couldn’t dunk when he was in college and ESPN was still a few years away, so he was under-appreciated.

Anyway, happy birthday to David Thompson, one of the all-time greats!!!!

— RIP to Monte Kiffin, the great football coach who passed away this week at age 84.

Monte Kiffin was a defensive wizard who spent 25 years in the NFL, most notably on Tony Dungy’s staff in Tampa Bay. He was also head coach at NC State from 1980-82.

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is his son; Monte Kiffin is the only assistant coach in the Tampa Bay Bucs’ Ring of Honor.

RIP, sir.

— Tennessee Titans signed S Jamal Adams; he spent the last four years with the Seattle Seahawks, who traded two first-round draft picks to acquire him from the Jets in 2020.

— Knicks signed G Jalen Brunson to a 4-year, $156.5M deal; had he not a deal signed this summer,  Brunson would’ve been eligible for a 5-year, $269M deal next summer.

— Las Vegas Summer League started Friday; 11 days of young guys trying to win jobs, both in the NBA and in other pro leagues around the world. It is solid entertainment; for $45, you can sit in air-conditioned arenas all day and watch great basketball, four or five games in each of the two arenas at UNLV.

— Rockets 99, Lakers 80
Over 17,000 fans came to see Bronny James play; he played 27:00, shot 3-14 from floor, 0-8 on arc, with five rebounds, two steals as Houston beat the Lakers, 99-80.

— Friday night the NBA announced the pools for November’s in-season tournament, the league’s second in-season event.

This event is meant to drum up interest in the NBA early in the season, but let’s be honest, it is meaningless; Lakers won the in-season title last year on December 10; they raised a banner in their arena to commemorate it, but then on May 3rd, 145 days later, they fired their coach, that’s how much they cared about winning the freakin’ in-season tournament. 

Friday’s Den: Trends for all 30 MLB teams……..

Trends for all 30 MLB teams…….

— Arizona is 47-47, one game out of last Wild Card slot.
Diamondbacks are 14-9 in one-run games.

— Atlanta is 9.5 games out of first in NL East; they’re #1 Wild Card night now.
Braves are 6-11 in their last 17 road games.

— Cubs are 45-49, three games out of last Wild Card spot.
Chicago won five of its last six games; they just swept Orioles in Baltimore.

— Cincinnati is also 45-49, three games out of last Wild Card spot.
Reds are 8-17 in one-run games.

— Colorado is 3-10 in its last thirteen road games.
Rockies missed playoffs last six years, finishing 17+ games out of first place.

— Dodgers are 55-39, have a 7-game lead in NL West.
Dodgers are 24-10 vs lefty starters, 31-29 vs righties.

— Marlins are 3-11 in road series openers.
Marlins are 4-27 against lefty starting pitchers, 28-34 vs righties.

— Brewers are 54-40, lead NL Central by five games.
Milwaukee is 21-12 against its NL Central rivals, 33-28 vs everyone else.

— Right now, Mets have #3 Wild Card slot in NL, by .001 over Padres.
Mets are 17-10 in one-run games; last year, they were 25-28.

— Phillies are 61-32, lead NL East by 9.5 games.
Phillies are 32-7 in their last 39 home games.

— Pittsburgh is 45-48, 2.5 games out of last playoff slot.
Rookie P Skenes was taken out of Thursday’s game after 7 IP/99 PT- he didn’t give up a hit in the seven innings.

— St Louis is 48-44; they’re holding the #2 Wild Card slot.
Cardinals are 28-21 in night games, 20-23 in day games.

— San Diego is 49-47, .001 out of the NL’s last Wild Card spot.
Padres lost their last four games, scoring a total of nine runs.

— San Francisco is 45-49, three games out of last Wild Card spot.
Giants are 34-31 vs righty pitchers, 11-18 vs lefties.

— Washington is 42-52, six games out of last Wild Card slot.
Nationals are 4-13 in their last 17 games.

— Famous birthdays, July 12th:
Cheryl Ladd, 73
Mario Soto, 68
Luke McCown, 43

Howie Kendrick, 41
Patrick Beverley, 36
LeSean McCoy, 36

Kellen Moore, 35
Bailey Ober, 29
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 26

— Orioles are 57-36, lead AL East by two games.
Baltimore got shut out last two days, hasn’t scored in 21 innings.

— Red Sox are 51-41, are holding last Wild Card slot in AL.
Boston is 39-27 vs righty starters, 12-14 vs lefties; last two years, they were 47-31 vs lefties.

— White Sox are 1-14 in road series openers.
Chicago is 6-29 in games where winning run scored from 7th inning on.

— Guardians are 57-35, lead AL Central by 4.5 games.
Cleveland is 20-7 vs lefty starting pitchers; LY, they were 24-35.

— Detroit won six of its last seven games.
Tigers are 45-49, are 7 games out of last Wild Card slot.

— Houston is 49-44, two games out of first in AL West, 2.5 games out of last Wild Card slot.
Last two years, Houston was 70-33 vs lefty starters; this year, they’re 12-15.

— Royals are 51-43, one game out of last Wild Card slot.
Last year, Kansas City was 56-106; Matt Quatraro is your AL Manager of the Year.

— Angels are 30-46 vs righty pitchers, 8-9 vs lefties.
Mike Trout has been an Angel for 14 years, has played in three playoff games.

— Minnesota is 53-40, is holding the #2 playoff slot in AL.
Twins are 13-5 in their last 18 games.

— New York is 56-39, holds #1 Wild Card slot in AL.
New York is 0-7-1 in last eight series, 7-17 in last 24 games.

— A’s lost 18 of their last 21 road games.
Oakland is 26-49 vs righty starters, 9-11 vs lefties.

— Seattle is 52-43, leads AL West by two games.
Mariners are 13-2 in home series openers, 6-9 in road series openers.

— Tampa Bay is 46-47, 5.5 games out of last Wild Card slot.
Rays are 16-8 vs lefty starters, 30-39 vs righty starters.

— Texas is 44-49, 7.5 games out of last Wild Card slot.
Rangers are 1-7 in last eight road series openers.

— Toronto had winning seasons the last 4 years; they’re 42-50 this year.
Over is 14-4 in their last 18 games. 

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

— Team USA 86, Team Canada 72
Canada led 21-14 after the first quarter.
Americans led 41-33 at halftime.
Team USA has four more exhibition games before the Olympics.

If you care about such things, Team USA was a 15-point favorite; Canada got the backdoor cover on a hoop with 0:16 left.

— NBA has agreed to terms on its new media deals, 11-year agreements worth $76B, that Billion, with a B. Basketball is very popular, as the full house in Las Vegas for the Olympic exhibition game points out.

Only thing that remains to be seem is if TNT will keep its part of the NBA package, which they’ve had for the last 40 years.

— Purdue C Zach Edey had 14 points, 15 rebounds in his first summer league game for Memphis; it was against other rookies obviously, but it is still a promising sign.

— Bronny James scored 3 points, had 3 assists, 5 rebounds in his second summer league game; he was 2-9 from the floor in his first summer game. Lakers were +8 with Bronny on the court in Wednesday’s game.

— Detroit Pistons/Cade Cunningham agreed on a 5-year, $224M deal; Cunningham has scored 20 ppg for Detroit in his first three seasons, during which time the Pistons were 54-192.

— Dodgers put P Tyler Glasnow on the IL with lower back tightness; Glasnow is 8-5, 3.47 in his first season with the Dodgers, throwing 109 innings.

Last year’s 125 IP with Tampa Bay is the most innings Glasnow has ever thrown in a season.

— Under was 9-8 in Wednesday’s baseball games, after over was 14-5-1 in games on Monday, Tuesday.

Famous birthdays, July 11th:
Clem Haskins, 81
Bruce McGill, 74
Sela Ward, 68

Jeff Kemp, 65
Lisa Rinna, 61
Rod Strickland, 58

Andre Johnson, 43
Joey Bosa, 29
Justin Steele, 29

— Royals 6-8, Cardinals 4-5
Salvador Perez homered in both games for Kansas City.
Royals are 51-43; they won 56 games all of last season.

— Cubs 4, Orioles 0
Shota Imanaga threw six innings, got his 8th win.
Christopher Morel homered for Chicago.

— A’s 5, Red Sox 2
Lawrence Butler had two hits, knocked in two runs on his 24th birthday.
JP Sears got 17 outs on 114 pitches, giving up only one run.

— Rockies 6, Reds 5
Sam Hilliard homered twice for Colorado.
Rockies ended an 8-game losing skid against the Reds.

— Twins 1-3, White Sox 3-2
Two games, a total of nine runs scored.
White Sox are 1-9 against Minnesota this season. 

— Tigers 5, Guardians 4
Detroit P Reese Olson is 3-0, 2.40 in his last five starts.
Tanner Bibee is 0-3, 6.98 in four starts against the Tigers.

— Mariners 2, Padres 0
Bryce Miller tossed six shutout IP, giving up 5 hits.
San Diego has lost four games in a row.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Phillies, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Braves, Cardinals, Padres
AL: Orioles, Guardians, Mariners. Wild Cards: New York, Twins, Red Sox