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

Our daily baseball write-up is posted

Thursday’s 6-pack
CFL posted their league’s power ratings on Twitter:
1) Winnipeg Blue Bombers
2) British Columbia Lions
3) Calgary Stampeders
4) Saskatchewan Roughriders
5) Ottawa RedBlacks
6) Montreal Alouettes
7) Toronto Argonauts
8) Edmonton Elks
9) Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Quote of the Day
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.”
Albert Einstein

Thursday’s quiz
How many NFL teams play their home games in domed stadiums?

Wednesday’s quiz
Other than the Seattle Mariners (20 years), Philadelphia Phillies (10 years) have gone the longest since they were last in the baseball playoffs.

Tuesday’s quiz
Max Scherzer broke into the major leagues with the Diamondbacks in 2008. 

Thursday’s Den: NFL knowledge on a summer day

13) Cleveland Browns traded QB Baker Mayfield to Carolina Wednesday, for either a 4th or 5th-round draft pick in 2024, depending on how he does.

Panthers will pay $4.85M of Mayfield’s salary this year, while the Browns will pay $10.5M; Mayfield agreed to convert the remainder of his $18.8M salary into incentives to facilitate the trade.

Mayfield was 30-31 starting games for Cleveland, winning a playoff game two years ago, Browns’ only playoff win since re-joining the NFL in 1999 (the old Cleveland Browns are the Baltimore Ravens now).

Sam Darnold (17-32 as an NFL starter), PJ Walker (2-0 as a starter) and rookie Matt Corral are Carolina’s other quarterbacks. 

12) Where does this leave Cleveland? Deshaun Watson doesn’t figure to play much, if at all, this season; Browns’ other QB’s are Jacoby Brissett (14-23 as a starter), Joshua Dobbs. 

11) One of my favorite things is when the NFL releases its schedule in the spring; it tells you stuff, if you read between the lines.

Week 1, this fall: Cleveland at Carolina. We should have known.

There are no coincidences. Someone in New York knew something. 

10) Brian Griese worked on TV for ESPN the last 12 years; this season he’s going to be the QB coach for the 49ers, one of four new assistant coaches on the offensive side of the ball for San Francisco, which lost OC Mike McDaniel to the Dolphins.

9) Miami fired coach Brian Flores, even though his team was 19-14 the last two years; here’s the thing- Dolphins flopped badly in Week 17 both of those years, which cost them a playoff spot.

2021- lost 34-3 in Tennessee
2020- lost 56-26 in Buffalo

8) Last six years, Denver Broncos are 39-58; during that time, they’ve started 10 different QB’s. Now they’ve got Russell Wilson, who is 113-60-1 as an NFL starter, a huge upgrade. 

7) Kliff Kingsbury has been a head coach for nine years, counting college/NFL; here is how his teams break down:

first seven games: 42-20-1
from Game 8 on: 17-45

6) 20 years ago,  Oakland Raiders lost the Super Bowl to Tampa Bay; since then, they’ve moved to Las Vegas, but they haven’t won a playoff game.

2016— lost 27-14 at Houston
2021— lost 26-19 at Cincinnati. 

5) Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow was sacked 70 times last year, 19 times in four playoff games; if the Bengals are going to get back to the playoffs this year, they need to keep Burrow upright.

By the way, Jacksonville’s new offensive coordinator is Press Taylor, younger brother of Bengals’ coach Zac Taylor.

4) When Matt Ryan starts for the Colts in Week 1, he’ll be the sixth different QB to start for Indy the last six years.

2017- Scott Tolzien
2018- Andrew Luck
2019- Jacoby Brissett
2020- Philip Rivers
2021- Carson Wentz
2022- Matt Ryan

3) Big X hasn’t had a player drafted in the first round of the last two NFL Drafts; they had 25 players drafted this past spring, but none in Round 1. 

2) WR Stefan Diggs is going to miss OC Brian Daboll, who is now head coach of the Giants; in his two seasons with Buffalo, with Daboll as OC, here are Diggs’ numbers:

2020- 127 catches, 1,535 yards, 8 TD’s.
2021- 103 catches, 1,225 yards, 10 TD’s.

1) Players taken after the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft:
47th pick (2nd round) Bobby Wagner, by Seattle
75th pick (3rd round) Russell Wilson, also by Seattle
102nd pick (4th round) Kirk Cousins, Washington

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) NBA Summer League starts Thursday; 11 days of competitive basketball from Las Vegas, most of which is televised nationally.

There are 30 teams, with players trying to get invites to NBA training camps or offers to play pro ball overseas. It is very competitive, fun to watch. 

12) Few years ago, I was at the summer league and these two guys sit in front of me; one guy is huge, looked like a bodybuilder. Remember, this is Las Vegas; you can bet on the games- the big guy is saying how he bet on Team A in this game because “they posted a bad number on this game” at the sportsbook. He thought he had a sure thing. Uh oh.

The odds that the oddsmakers knew less about this game than the bodybuilder were slim, but he thought he knew better. There was one small problem.

Team A crushed its opponent the day before, but they were playing different guys in this game, guys who hadn’t played much the day before. Teams have 12-14 guys; they like to take a look at all of them. The second group of guys weren’t nearly as good as the first group. 

The bodybuilder had a mixed drink; as Team A falls behind quickly, he begins to get steamed. Midway down the second quarter, it is fairly evident his bet is a loser and he is fuming. I’m not even sure he realized they were playing different guys than the day before.

For a split second, I thought about explaining this to him, but then bit my tongue; sometimes they kill the messenger. Instead, I just moved to a different part of the gym. 

11) If you foul out of a summer league game, you’re a hacker; it takes 10 fouls to foul out of a summer league game. 10, not six. 

10) Miami Heat drafted a kid named Nikola Jovic; he looked great in the San Francisco summer league Tuesday, scoring 25 points, grabbing nine rebounds. This was a 4-team, 3-day event that is a prelude to the Las Vegas tournament.

Catch-and-shoot is a huge thing now if you want to play college/pro ball; kids are much better these days at shooting, a positive effect of the Steph Curry/Klay Thompson Warriors winning so much (and making so much money)

9) NBA is doing really well financially; ten players have already signed contracts this offseason worth $100M+.

8) Portland Trailblazers have seven players who will be making $9M+ next season; that means at least two of their subs will be making $9M+, and they were 27-55 last year. 

7) On the TV broadcast of the Miami-Golden State game summer game, they mentioned that pro games in Europe are only 40 minutes long, as opposed to the NBA’s 48 minutes. 

6) I’m debating going to the summer league next year, as long as the league coincides with baseball’s All-Star break. They miss each other by a week this year. With no baseball for four days, it was fun to hang out in a gym all day and watch quality basketball. 

5) Connor Allen posted info about NFL season prop bets on Twitter; he identified six categories where the unders really dominated last year:

rushing TD’s— under hit 76.5%
passing yards— under hit 74.1%
passing TD’s— under also hit 74.1%
receiving yards— under hit 66.0%
rushing yards— under hit 64.1%
Receiving TD’s— under hit 55.6%

4) Golfer Matt Fitzpatrick has really improved his driving this season; his club head speed has jumped to 70th on Tour this year, compared to 122nd two years ago. His strokes gained off the tee ranks 8th this year, compared to 59th two years ago.

This season, Fitzpatrick has earned $6,129,986, with eight top 10 finishes; last year, he earned $2,252,351, year before that, $2,109,709. 

3) Johnny Cueto has started nine games for the White Sox this season; road team won eight of those nine games, which is unusual. 

2) Orioles 10, Rangers 9 (10)— Two bullpens combined to give up 12 runs in 11.1 IP. Cedric Mullins had a walk-off double for Baltimore. 

1) Reds 1, Mets 0— Max Scherzer struck out 11 batters in 6 IP, in his return to action. Reds won on a sac fly by Mike Moustakas in the last inning. 

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

— RIP to Hank Goldberg, who passed away Monday, on his 82nd birthday. 

Mr Goldberg worked at ESPN as an NFL reporter and handicapping expert for two decades; he talked about betting on games on TV back when not many people talked about betting on games on live television.

He was smart, pleasant and he won more than he lost picking NFL games.

Goldberg was also a longtime fixture in Miami, serving as a local radio and TV host for more than 25 years and working as a Dolphins radio analyst. He began his career in the 1970s as an assistant to handicapper Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.

RIP, sir.

— July 4, 1985 was one of the strangest baseball games ever played; Mets beat Atlanta 16-13 in 19 innings, in a game that was delayed by rain multiple times, and didn’t end until 4am or so.

I was still living at home back then; my dad and I both had to work the next morning, but at some point after midnight, I woke him up to watch the rest of the game. He loved the Mets, but he wasn’t overly thrilled that I woke him up. He watched the rest of the game, though.

Mets scored in the top of the 18th, and looked like the game would end there, but a relief pitcher named Rick Camp (lifetime .074 hitter) bit his one and only major league home run to tie the game again. The people who stayed for the postgame fireworks show were going nuts.

One of the TV voices for the Braves back in 1985 was John Sterling; his call of Camp’s home run was classic; he said it would be more likely that he (Sterling) would be elected President than Camp would hit a home run. But then Camp hit a home run. Classic. 

If you don’t know, 37 years later, Sterling still does games on the radio for the Bronx Bombers. 

Mets finally won the game in the 19th inning; current Mets’ TV analyst Ron Darling pitched the bottom of the 19th— Camp wound up batting again, but made an out.

They went ahead with the fireworks display at 4:15am or so; lot of people called the cops because it was so noisy.

All I remember about the next day at work is that I drank two or three Cherry Cokes for energy; I wasn’t America’s finest employee that day, and I crashed on my bed as soon as I got home from work, but it was worth it. Quite a ballgame.

— July 4, 2022, last game of the night: Braves 6, Cardinals 3, in a game delayed for a long time by rain. Does it rain in Atlanta every year on the 4th of July? 

— Why doesn’t every major league team play on the 4th of July? I know it was a Monday this year, but Marlins-Nationals played an overlap series with a game on Monday. Heard a few people complain that their favorite team didn’t play Monday. 

— Random prop bet I saw today:
Will the Cincinnati Bengals make the playoffs this year?
Yes -135, No +115

You’re probably actually betting on whether they keep Joe Burrow healthy all season; if he plays the whole year, Bengals will make the playoffs. 

— Joey Chestnut ate 63 hot dogs (and buns) in 10 minutes Monday, to win the Nathan’s contest for the 15th time. For some reason, this gets televised on ESPN every year.

I have heard a few people who are grossed out by the hot dog eating; lot of other people enjoy it, but I like to eat hot dogs slowly and enjoy them. Stuffing them down my throat has no appeal.

His over/under for hot dogs eaten was 74.5, but all bets were refunded because someone got on stage to protest something and Chestnut got rid of the guy, but his eating was disrupted so they called off the over/under bets. Imagine wagering on an over/under in hot dog eating? 

— Brewers 5, Cubs 2 (10):
Victor Caratini hit a walk-off homer for Milwaukee.
Seiya Suzuki hit an inside-the-park home run for Chicago.   

— Astros 7, Royals 6— Kansas City led 5-0 in third inning. 

— Cleveland Guardians have had a very busy week:
Tuesday, June 28— Guardians split a doubleheader with Minnesota.
Wednesday— Guardians beat Minnesota 7-6 in 10 innings.
Thursday— Guardians trailed 3-1 in 8th inning, beat Minnesota 5-3.
Friday— Guardians got rained out.
Saturday— Guardians got swept in a twinbill by New York.
Sunday— Guardians beat New York 2-0.
Monday— Guardians got swept in a twinbill by Detroit. 

Three doubleheaders in a week; doesn’t happen much these days. 

— Marlins 3, Nationals 2 (10)—  Miami is 12-1 against Washington this season. 

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Atlanta, San Diego, St Louis
AL: New York, Twins, Astros. Wild Cards: Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay

Monday’s Den: Happy 4th of July!!!!

13) Late Saturday night, I stumbled upon an old movie I’ve been looking for since I was a kid, over 50 years ago. Was pretty surprising to find it.

In 1969, Charlton Heston starred in a movie called Number One, about an aging quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. Lot of the actual Saints from that era are in the movie; Heston’s character wears number 17, because Billy Kilmer wore number 17 for the real-life Saints.

Apparently the movie disappeared from circulation because Heston didn’t like it, but it is on Amazon Prime now. Watching it very late Saturday night, it is pretty obvious why he might not have liked it much. Number One isn’t a great movie. 

Heston’s passing skills make Warren Beatty (in Heaven Can Wait) look like Dan Fouts. The story kind of drags, but there are parts of the movie that are interesting— dealing with injuries, dealing with moving on with your life after a long career. 1969 was a long time ago; the world is a different place now.

12) Two interesting sidebars to Number One:
— The actual New Orleans Saints are the extras in this movie, much like the Detroit Lions were in George Plimpton’s Paper Lion. One of the Saints back then was Jake Kupp, a lineman who played 12 years in the NFL. You may have heard of his grandson: Cooper Kupp.

— Music for Number One was done by Dominic Frontiere, who composed a lot of music for TV shows and movies in the 60’s/70’s. Is that name familiar? 

Years later, Frontiere became more well-known when he married Rams’ owner Georgia Irvin Frontiere— he got nabbed scalping 16,000 tickets to Super Bowl XIV, and spent nine months in jail for tax evasion, for failing to report the $500,000 in income.

Music in Number One was good; I’m glad I finally got to see it.

11) Birmingham 33, Philadelphia 30
— Birmingham scored two TD’s in a 0:13 span late in 4th quarter.
— Stallions led 20-9 at halftime before a big crowd in Canton.
— Stallions ran for 175 yards, outgained Philly 381-340.

USFL was a success this season; games were highly competitive, fun to watch. Next spring will be interesting, with the XFL starting up to provide more spring football. 

10) Best days of the year to have a birthday:
— July 4— People have cookouts, shoot off fireworks for your birthday.
— January 1— People have parties the night before to celebrate your birthday. Plus, there is a ton of football on TV all day. 

Both days are holidays; you never have to work on your birthday.

9) Worst days of the year to have a birthday:
— February 29— Must suck to have a birthday once every four years.
— December 25— People put up trees/lights for your big day, but then everyone gets presents
— December 26— No one feels much like partying the day after Christmas.
— October 31— People come to your house and ask for free candy on YOUR birthday

8) Colorado Rockies are 13-4 at home if they score 7+ runs; they’re 0-2 if they score 7+ runs on road. Key point here is that in 17 of 19 games where they scored 7+ runs, they were at home. 

7) Saturday at CitiField, Texas Rangers’ 2B Marcus Semien flew out to centerfield all five times he came to bat; it is the first time that happened since 2009. 

6) Reds 4, Braves 3— Albert Almora had a walk-off single for the Reds, who didn’t get their first hit until the 7th inning. Cincinnati snaps a 10-game home losing streak. 

5) Marlins 7, Nationals 4 (10)— Miami is 11-1 against Washington this season, 26-39 against everyone else. The two bullpens combined to allow seven runs in 7.2 IP in this game. 

4) Astros 4, Angels 2— Walk-off home run by rookie SS Jeremy Pena was his second homer of the day; he was 4-5, and is now hitting .279.

3) Padres 4, Dodgers 2— San Diego scored four runs in 9th inning to end a 9-game losing skid in Chavez Ravine. Eric Hosmer had the game-winning single. 

2) One of the best parts of watching baseball every day is seeing great athletes make great plays; there are two young centerfielders now who are tremendous fielders— Michael Harris in Atlanta, Alek Thomas in Arizona. They both cover a ton of ground. 

1) Happy 4th of July; be careful if you’re handling fireworks. Our country is 246 years old; we are lucky to live in a democracy. Let’s hope it stays that way. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

— 59 years ago this week, one of the greatest pitching duels ever took place; Braves-Giants in Candlestick Park, San Francisco. Giants won 1-0 in 16 innings, on a Willie Mays home run.

Here’s the thing; each team used only one pitcher. Braves had 42-year old Warren Spahn, who threw 201 pitches (he struck out only two guys), 25-year old Juan Marichal threw 227 pitches (he struck out 10). 

If that happened today, both managers would’ve been fired, probably during the game; these days no one is allowed to face the same hitter four times, sometimes not even three times.

Atlanta had Hank Aaron/Eddie Mathews; they batted seven times each. Giants had Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Felipe Alou, who all batted 6 or 7 times.

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

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

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

Major league records in series openers:
Arizona 8-6/4-7….12-13
Atlanta 6-7/7-5….13-12
Cubs 6-7/6-6….12-13
Cincinnati 5-7/7-6….12-13
Colorado 5-9/3-8….8-17
Dodgers 8-3/10-4….18-7
Miami 6-5/3-11….9-16
Milwaukee 8-3/7-8….15-11
Mets 9-3/10-3….19-6
Philadelphia 7-6/6-5….13-11
Pittsburgh 5-8/2-10….7-18
St Louis 9-5/4-8….13-13
San Diego 7-4/8-6….15-10
San Francisco 6-8/7-5….13-13
Washington 5-8/5-7

Baltimore 5-7/6-7….11-14
Boston 7-4/9-5….16-9
White Sox 5-7/5-8….10-15
Cleveland 6-6/8-5….14-11
Detroit 7-6/4-8….11-14
Houston 7-4/8-6….15-10
Kansas City 4-8/7-7….11-15
Angels 6-8/3-8….9-16
Minnesota 7-7/7-4….14-11
New York 12-2/10-2….22-4
Oakland 1-10/3-11….4-21
Seattle 6-6/8-5….13-11
Tampa Bay 7-7/2-9….9-16
Texas 7-5/6-7….13-12
Toronto 9-4/6-6….15-10

— Phillies brought lefty hitter Darick Hall up this week; in his first three games, he went 3-13, but all three hits were home runs.

— Now we can figure out why Quin Snyder quit as coach of the Jaxx; Utah traded C Rudy Gobert to Minnesota this week, for five players and four first round draft picks, last of which is in 2029.

When this is all said and done, one of the players Utah acquired in this trade just graduated from 5th grade.

— Receiving TD’s in the red zone last season:
13— Cooper Kupp
10— Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs
9— Mark Andrews, Mike Evans, DK Metcalf, Hunter Renfrow

— Pittsburgh Pirates are first team ever to have three different players have a 3-home run game in the same month; Reynolds, Suwinski, Perez all had 3-homer games in June.

— Every July 1st until 2035, Bobby Bonilla will cash a check for $1,193,248.20 from the Mets; in 2011, they could’ve given him a check for $5.9M and have been done with it, but they deferred the payment and gave the $5.9M to Bernie Madoff to invest. Seriously, they did.

Hopefully, Bonilla sends his agent a nice gift every July.

— Cleveland Guardians’ P Kirk McCarty played high school football in Mississippi; one year, his team’s offensive coordinator was Brett Favre.

— Washington Nationals picked up the 2023 option on manager Dave Martinez, worth $3.5M. Nationals are expected to be sold soon, but Martinez will have a job next season, or at least he will have a paycheck.

— Cardinals 7, Phillies 6— St Louis hit four consecutive home runs in first inning.

— Dodgers 7, Padres 2— Los Angeles hit three homers in bottom of the first.

— Detroit Tigers hit a total of 12 home runs in June.  

So did Kyle Schwarber. 

Saturday’s Den: College football knowledge

I’m having trouble processing this whole USC/UCLA to the Big 14 thing; my entire life, the Rose Bowl has been Pac-12/Big 14. Now? Not so much. Rutgers/USC are in the same league; one school is in New Jersey, one in Los Angeles. It makes very little sense.

Anyway, here is some college football info for you. Have a good Saturday.

13) Arkansas
— ran ball for 227.8 yards/game LY (#7)
— Hogs have 4 of 5 starters back on offensive line.
— They only have four starters back on defense.
— scored 30+ points in eight games; they won five of last six games. 

12) Auburn
— Lost last five games LY, last three by 4-2-4 points
— ranked 96th of 131 teams in starting field position
— scored 3.3 points/drive that got inside 40-yard line (#121)
— Have 2 new coordinators this year, both promoted from within. 

11) Florida
— 1-4 LY in games decided by 7 or less points.
— Gators had played in January 1 bowl three years in row before LY.
— Florida was minus-8 in turnovers last year.
— New coach Napier was 40-12 at Louisiana; he was an assistant at Clemson/Alabama. 

10) Georgia
— Defending national champs have only 3 starters back on defense.
— QB Bennett is playing his 7th year of college football, six of them at Georgia.
— Dawgs had a 6.8-yard advantage in average field position LY.
— Kirby Smart is 66-15 at Georgia; he has a new defensive coordinator TY.

9) Kentucky
— 10-3 LY; they scored 40.5 ppg in winning their last four games.
— LY’s OC Liam Coen now works for the LA Rams in the NFL.
— Wildcats were 10-3 despite a minus-11 turnover ratio.
— Kentucky added WR transfers from Alabama, Virginia Tech. 

8) LSU
— New coach Brian Kelly has only three starters back on offense.
— Tigers are 11-12 the last two years, since winning a national title.
— Tigers were 114th in country in rushing yardage LY.
— LSU allowed 60 plays of 20+ yards (116th)

7) Mississippi
— Rebels were 10-0 LY when they scored 27+ points.
— They were held to 21-20-7 points in their losses.
— Ole Miss went for it on 4th down 40 times (24-40) LY, most times in country.
— Rebels were +8 in turnovers; they were 105th in rushing defense. 

6) Missouri
— Last two years, are 9-1 vs teams with losing records, 2-11 vs everyone else.
— Tigers have their third defensive coordinator in three years.
— Mizzou was 124th in rushing defense LY.
— 8 of their 11 I-A opponents this year played in bowls LY. 

5) Oregon
— Auburn transfer Bo Nix figures to be their new QB.
— New OC Dillingham coached Nix at Auburn.
— All five starters are back on the offensive line.
— Ducks were 10-4 LY, but lost last two games, giving up 38-47 points. 

4) Oregon State
— Played in bowl LY, their first bowl in eight years.
— Ran ball for 212.4 yards/game LY, #19 in country.
— Scored 4.9 points/drive inside 40, #8 in country.
— Have 4 of top 5 rushers back, 3 of top 4 receivers back

3) Texas A&M
— Who is the QB? Biggest question they have this summer.
— Allowed only 2.9 points/drive that got inside 40 (#10)
— Beat Alabama LY, then lost road games at Ole Miss, LSU
— Played only three true road games LY; they play four this year. 

— Were 8-4 LY, are 18-25 in four years under Kelly, who was 41-7 at Oregon.
— were penalized 69.5 yards/game LY (#109)
— Dorian Thompson-Robinson is in his 5th year as UCLA’s quarterback.
— Bruins ranked 14th in country in rushing yardage LY. 

1) Washington
— Brought new coach in from Fresno State
— Brought in new QB from Indiana (12-5 there)— he is a mobile QB
— Ranked 125th in rushing offense, 108th in rushing defense.
— Huskies have only three starters back on defense. 

Friday’s Den: Happy Canada Day!!!

To our neighbors to the north, Happy Canada Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13) Milwaukee CF Jonathan Davis made one of the best catches I’ve ever seen Wednesday, as he took a double/triple away from a Rays’ hitter, on a ball hit over his head to straight-away center field. As he hit the ground, his neck/shoulder also hit the CF fence— it looked scary for a minute, but he finished the inning, though he would up leaving the game early. 

12) Read an article today that said these things:
— Automated strike zone is likely to become a thing in 2024.
— MLB wants to add two teams, a way to make up some of the money they didn’t make during the shortened 2020 season.
— Pitch clock will likely become a thing next year. I’ve seen minor league games with the pitch clock; you won’t notice the difference.

As for expansion, A’s/Rays have to settle their stadium issues first—both of those teams could move, but Montreal, Nashville, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Portland OR are potential expansion cities. 

11) Pirates 8, Nationals 7— Bryan Reynolds hit three home runs for Pittsburgh. 

10) Best records in one-run games:
17-6— Bronx
13-6— Houston
18-11— Toronto
15-9— Milwaukee
14-9— San Diego

9) Worst records in one-run games:
4-13– Texas
5-13— Oakland
8-15— Cubs
4-8— Dodgers
6-12— Angels

8) Kansas City Royals are 0-22 this season when they trail after the first inning; they’re 27-25 when they don’t trail after the first inning.

7) Astros 2, Mets 0— Verlander tossed eight shutout innings; there was a scary collision in left field— Yordan Alvarez/Jeremy Pena both left the game. Alvarez left on a golf cart. 

6) LIU fired basketball coach Derek Kellogg after five years; the guy had a 49-41 record in NEC games, never finishing under .500. June 29 is an odd time to be firing people.

LIU apparently wants G League Ignite director Rod Strickland to be its new coach.

Interesting twist on this is that John Calipari’s son Brad joined the LIU staff as an assistant this off-season. Kellogg played college ball for Calipari at UMass. 

5) NBA salary cap is expected to jump $11.6M next season, up to $123.6m per team. 

4) Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal turned down his $36.4M option for next season and is a free agent— he figures to make more than $36.4M, obviously or else he would’ve opted in, like Kyrie Irving did this week.

3) Denver-Washington made a trade, with veteran PG Ish Smith heading to Denver;; when he takes the floor for the Nuggets in October, they’ll be his 13th NBA team, an all-time record. 

2) Spurs traded Dejounte Murray to Atlanta, for Danilo Gallinari and three first round picks. 

Murray and Trae Young will be the first pair of teammates in NBA history who each averaged 20 points and 8 assists per game in the previous season.

1) Utah Jazz named Will Hardy as its new head coach; he was most recently an assistant with the Celtics, but also spent 11 years with the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach. He played college ball at Division III Williams College.

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Was surprised to learn that when he was pitching coach of the Minnesota Twins, Wes Johnson was making only $350,000 a year; seeing how each team has 13 pitchers, and the roster is 26 players, you’d think basically being the defensive coordinator would earn a guy more than $350,000.

The worst player on the roster earns the minimum salary of $700,000; who is more important, the 26th guy in the team or the pitching coach?

Johnson bolted to LSU for a $750,000 salary; MLB needs to invest more in paying coaches, to keep their product at a high quality. 

12) Bryce Harper is out at least six weeks; he had his injured thumb operated on this week. 

11) Since start of last year, Harper’s teammate Kyle Schwarber has 27 home runs in 52 June games, eight more than any other player in June. 

In all the other months, Schwarber has 27 homers in 134 games. 

10) Braves 5, Phillies 3— Matt Olson homered twice for Atlanta.

9) The man Olson replaced in Atlanta, Freddie Freeman. fired his agent recently; apparently he isn’t thrilled with his leaving the Braves right after they won the World Series.

Now Freeman is making $27M a year for the next six years and he lives in Los Angeles, so it is tough to feel too bad for him, but when you fire your agent, you ain’t happy. 

8) Houston Astros are in a stretch where they’re playing nine straight games against the two New York City teams; it is the first time since 1957 that a team is playing nine games in a row against teams from the Big Apple, back when the Dodgers/Giants called New York City home.

7) I turned on Law and Order re-runs Tuesday afternoon, and the judge in one episode is the guy who played Morty in the classic movie Meatballs.

It turns out that Harvey Atkin appeared in 22 different Law and Order episodes, quite a jump from sleeping on a raft in the middle of the lake, like he did in Meatballs.

6) Lakers’ summer league team in Las Vegas next week will have Shareef O’Neal (Shaq’s son) and Scottie Pippen Jr.

If you go to summer league games, you’ll see lot of famous people and most everyone, except the players/coaches, go in/out of the same doors at the Thomas and Mack Center.

One day I was walking down the hall and Jerry West was in a group of people walking the other way; Mark Cuban is most always there. Like I said, lot of famous people. 

5) WR Terry McLaurin signed a 3-year, $71M extension with the Washington Commanders, with $53M of that money guaranteed. Last two years, McLaurin caught 164 passes for 2,171 yards and nine touchdowns. 

4) College football teams with highest %age of their production returning this year:
85%— BYU, South Florida
84%— Bowling Green, Kansas, Southern Miss, TCU
83%— Stanford
82%— North Carolina State

3) Since 2000-01, the most regular season wins in the NBA:
1,181— San Antonio
1,065— Dallas
986— Boston
983— Miami
975— Houston

2) There are 30 teams in the NBA; Gregg Popovich obviously coaches the Spurs, but 8 of the other 29 head coaches have either played for or coached under Popovich.

1) Happy birthday to one of the funniest people in the history of the world, Mel Brooks, who turned 96 years old this week.

Get Smart. Blazing Saddles. Spaceballs. High Anxiety, just to name a few. He is a comic genius; hope Mr Brooks enjoys his birthday. 

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

13) Orioles 9, Seattle 2:
— Baltimore is 14-10 in June; this is their first winning month in five years.
— Tyler Wells allowed one hit, one run in five IP.
— Orioles hit back/back homers twice in this game. 

12) Speaking of the Orioles, CF Cedric Mullins is struggling this year, hitting only .258 with a .312 one-base %age, not ideal for a leadoff man.

Last year, Mullins had a break-thru year; he was a 30-30 guy, hitting 30 homers, stealing 30 bases, with .761 OPS. The expanded ballpark in Baltimore shouldn’t be hurting Mullins, who is lefty— the ballpark is bigger now in left field, but not right or center.

Mullins made a couple great catches in this game; his defense is still solid, but the Orioles need his offense to revert back to last year, if they’re going to keep improving. 

11) Kansas City Royals traded 1B Carlos Santana to Seattle for a couple of minor leaguers; he will replace injured 1B Ty France, who hurt his elbow last week.

36-year old Santana is hitting only .216 this year, but is 8-19 in his last five games. 

10) Next season there will be a Wrigley Field sportsbook, located at the former Captain Morgan Club in the right-field corner of the ballpark. The addition of a year-round sportsbook is part of a strategy to turn Wrigleyville into a year-round destination- the sports book isn’t expected to open until Christmas/New Year’s.

9) Minnesota Twins’ pitching coach Wes Johnson quit his job to become the pitching coach at LSU, where his salary will twice what it was in Minnesota. Johnson leaves the Twins after this week’s series against Cleveland.

I’ll repeat myself: the pitching coach at LSU will be making twice as much money as the pitching coach of a team that is in first place in the AL Central. Go figure.

The new analytics era has lessened the value of assistant coaches; I’m thinking this isn’t a good thing for major league baseball. 

8) Players are getting to the major leagues faster these days; 7 of the top 20 players taken in the 2019 draft are already in the big leagues. They get to the major leagues faster, they need more coaching once they get there, but you have to pay the coaches to keep them. 

7) Weird part of the Mariners-Angels brawl Sunday; one of the people who was suspended is an interpreter for the Angels. You don’t see that every day. 

6) Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 2— Boston is 2-6 against the Blue Jays, 7-15 against the AL East, 35-17 against everyone else. 

5) UAB-football coach Bill Clark resigned for health reasons; he went 49-26 in six years with the Blazers, winning two conference titles. Blazers have played in five straight bowl games.

Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent will assume interim coaching duties. UAB is set to join the AAC for the 2023 season.

4) Last week in Chicago, umpire Doug Eddings’ work behind the plate enraged the Blue Jays so much that the next day, their hitting coach got tossed BEFORE the game, and wound up getting suspended for five games. Here is why.

In that game, Eddings called 158 pitches balls; only one of them was a strike. That’s the good part.

Eddings called 70 pitches strikes; only 45 of them were actually in the strike zone. 64% accuracy isn’t professional-level umpiring. 

One of the pitches he missed was a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the top the 8th inning. Somehow, even with Eddings calling 25 pitches strikes that weren’t strike, the game still ended up 7-6, but Toronto got hosed.

3) When I was a kid, my dad used to bring the New York Daily News home every day; I grew up reading a columnist named Dick Young, a great writer best known for his direct/blunt style.

One of the things Young advocated for was a “team error” in baseball; guy hits a pop-up in the outfield, two fielders look at each other, the ball drops, the batter gets a hit, the pitchers get screwed.

Young thought it should be scored a “team error”, no hit for the batter, which I agree with. Guy on TV last night was advocating for it too. Maybe someday it’ll happen.

2) The transfer portal has becoming a huge part of college basketball, but not all the players are benefitting from it. 

1,626 players entered the portal after last season; as of last week, only 800 players have found a new team, which means that 50.8% of kids who wanted to transfer haven’t found a new home yet.
— 370 of 698 sophomores are available (53%)
— 217 of 435 juniors are available (49.9%)
— 239 of 493 seniors are available (48.5%)

Maybe kids who weren’t happy with their playing time weren’t getting that time because they aren’t as good as they think they are. No one else wants them either.

1) John Wall will sacrifice $6.5M of the $47.4M that is owed to him in order to join the Los Angeles Clippers instead of playing for Houston. Wall has played just 72 games over the last four years due to a combination of injuries and Houston’s disinterest in using him. Yikes. 

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

13) Tuesday-Saturday, Seattle Mariners started out 5-0 on their road trip, with Jesse Winker going 9-18 in those games, by far his best stretch in a very disappointing season. We’re not halfway thru the season; there is still time to Seattle to get into the Wild Card race, but July starts this week, so it isn’t that early.

Saturday night, Seattle relievers dusted Mike Trout a couple times, so Sunday, Angels threw a pitch behind the neck of Mariners’ star Julio Rodriguez. Words were exchanged between the two dugouts.

Then in the top of the 2nd, Angels drilled Winker on the hip, and tensions overflowed; when order was restored, 20 minutes later, six players and both managers were ejected, including Seattle’s best three players (Ty France was also out hurt).

Winker needed to take one for the team, shut his mouth and go to first base. The team was on a roll, but instead, chaos ensued and Seattle lost 2-1. It isn’t late in the season but it ain’t early anymore either- they’re seven games out of the last Wild Card slot. 

They need wins, not chaos.

12) Mark Appel pitched for Stanford for three years (2011-13); Astros drafted him with the first pick in the 2013 draft. Big things were expected.

2013— went 3-1, 3.79 in ten starts in Class A ball.
2014— went 3-7, 6.91 in 18 starts in Class A/AA ball.
2015— went 10-3, 4.37 in 25 starts in Class AA/AAA ball
2016— went 3-3, 4.46 in eight AAA starts.
2017— went 5-4, 5.27 in 17 AAA starts.

After the 2017 season, he announced that he was quitting baseball, saying he was at peace with the decision, but he made a comeback last year.

2021— went 3-6, 6.06 in 23 AA/AAA games (15 starts)
2022— he has allowed six runs in 28 IP, in 19 relief stints.

Now he’s in the major leagues for the first time, as the Phillies scramble to fortify their bullpen. Would be quite a story if Appel helped the Phillies make the playoffs this year. 

11) Bryce Harper’s broken thumb is very bad news for the Phillies; he couldn’t play the field this year because he can’t throw (elbow), but he’s hitting .318 with 49 RBI. His injury leaves a huge gap in their lineup.

JT Realmuto can DH when he isn’t catching, but he’s hitting only .237; they need more from him, more from Hoskins/Castellanos to remain a contender. 

10) Astros threw a combined no-hitter in the Bronx Saturday, beating New York 3-0. Cristian Javier tossed seven no-hit innings with 13 strikeouts, throwing 115 pitches.

Sunday, Jose Urquidy threw six more no-hit innings in the Bronx, but then Stanton/Lemahieu tied the game with homers and Judge walked it off with a 3-run blast in the 10th.

Astros split four games in the Big Apple, despite never trailing in any of the four games— both losses were on walkoffs.

9) Over the last two weeks, Giancarlo Stanton is 4-41; all four hits were home runs, as Stanton morphs into a modern day version of Dave Kingman, which isn’t what you expect for #2M a year.

8) Tampa Bay Rays are 10-1 against National League teams this season. 

7) San Francisco Giants are 39-33, half-game out of the Wild Card race; they’ve already used nine different leadoff hitters in 72 games. Giants lost six of their last eight games; will they make any moves over the next month to enhance their roster? Trade deadline is August 2. 

6) San Diego Padres are 45-30, only two games out of first place in NL West, but they’re 0-7 in Blake Snell’s starts, which isn’t good for a guy making $13M a year.

In 2018, Snell went 21-5, 1.89 in 31 starts; since then, he is 17-21, 4.40 in 68 starts. Pitching is a scare commodity these days; the Padres need more out of Snell. 

USFL semi-finals:
Philadelphia 19, New Jersey 14
— Both teams scored punt return TD’s in the 4th quarter.
— Stars outgained New Jersey 286-285; they outgained them in all three meetings, but this is the only meeting they won.
— Generals had their nine-game win streak snapped. 

Birmingham 31, New Orleans 17:
— With game tied 14-all, Stallions ran a kick back 90 yards for aa TD.
— Breakers outgained Birmingham 389-289, but were minus-2 in turnovers.
— Stallions have outscored opponents 143-79 in 2nd half this year.

Stallions-Stars play for the USFL title Sunday night in Canton.

3) Washington Wizards are expected to re-sign Bradley Beal to a 5-year deal worth a projected $248M that would take him through age 33. Wizards have had four losing seasons in a row; since 1984, they’re 4-11 in first round playoff series. 

2) Ole Miss 4, Oklahoma 2— Rebels sweep the finals 2-0, win the college baseball national title, not bad for a team that was the last one to get in the tournament- on May 1, they were 7-14 in SEC games.

Since 2009, 8 of 13 national champs have been SEC teams.

1) Colorado 2, Tampa Bay 1:
— Avalanche win Stanley Cup for first time since 2001.
— Colorado outshot the Lightning, 30-23.
— Big year for Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke, who also owns the Super Bowl champion Rams.

Sunday’s Den: College football knowledge

13) Six quarterbacks who transferred to new schools:
— Caleb  Williams, Oklahoma to USC
— Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma to South Carolina
— Dillon Gabriel, Central Florida to Oklahoma
— JT Daniels, Georgia to West Virginia
— Bo Nix, Auburn to Oregon
— Kedon Slovis, USC to Pittsburgh

12) Clemson went 10-3 LY, which is a bad year for them; QB DT Uiagalelei completed only 55.6% of his passes LY, with nine TD passes, 10 INT’s. If Clemson is going to continue to dominate the ACC, their passing game has to be better than that. Having a new offensive coordinator complicates things some. 

11) Baylor went 12-2 last year; they went for it on 4th down 33 times, which seems like a lot for such a good team- it was the 6th-most of any team in country. Bears converted 19 of those 33 fourth down plays.

This season, Baylor opens with I-AA Albany, where I went to school. My work study job back then was doing stats for football/basketball games. We didn’t have any good road trips like Baylor— the Great Danes were Division III in those days. 

10) Houston Cougars’ defense allowed opponents to convert only 29.7% of third down plays last year, the best %age in the country.

9) Indiana went 2-10 last year; they fired five assistant coaches, added 12 transfers. Hoosiers ranked 107th in red zone offense, 116th in red zone defense. Obviously, their #1 priority is being better in the red zone. 

8) Stanford was an unusually-bad 3-9 last year, losing their last seven games while scoring only 14.3 ppg. Cardinal was 0-8 last year when they scored fewer than 31 points- they bring back 10 starters on offense this season. 

7) Last year, Charlotte’s defense was 129th in pass defense; there are 131 I-A teams. In their last three games, 49ers gave up 42-49-56 points. Charlotte gave up 73 plays of 20+ yards. 

6) Florida State went 5-7 last year; six of their 12 games were decided by exactly 3 points, with Seminoles splitting those six games. 

5) Iowa State was a disappointing 7-6 last year, 2-5 in games decided by 7 or less points, and one of the wins was 16-10 over I-AA Northern Iowa. 

4) Temple lost its last seven games last year, outscored by an average of 43-8; they hired a new coach, Stan Drayton, a long-time assistant who was a great running back in his playing days.

3) Boise State was a disappointing 7-5 last year; they ranked 110th in country running the ball. Broncos have 15 of 22 starters back this season, have a QB with 25 career starts— improvement is expected. 

2) Bowling Green QB Matt McDonald is in his sixth year of college football; he was at Boston College for two years, then transferred to Bowling Green, where he has started 17 games. 

1) Michigan has only three starters back on defense; they’re on their third defensive coordinator in three seasons. LY’s DC jumped to the Baltimore Ravens, going from Jim Harbaugh’s team to John Harbaugh’s team. Wolverines don’t have any road games in September. 

Saturday’s Den: USFL playoff previews and other random stuff…….

13) When I was in 10th grade, had a biology teacher, Mr Broland. He had a crew cut and wore thin glasses; he looked just like Michael Douglas’ character in Falling Down. Very unusual for the 70’s. He had five outfits; one for each day of the week. Still remember that his Friday outfit was a gold tie with a gold button down sweater; he was a quirky guy.

This was 1974-75; we still had chalkboards back then. If someone in the class was talking, Mr Broland would throw one of the erasers at the person. Seriously, he would.

One day this kid Nick is chatting away with the girl next to him; we sat two to a cafeteria table in the classroom, not individual desks. Mr Broland glares at Nick, throws his eraser at him and……. he misses, drilling the girl next to him. Laughter ensues, the girl cried a little bit. That was the last of the eraser throwing.

My point is this; Why the BLEEP would we want teachers in schools to all carry a gun? In what way would this be a good idea? Would I want Mr Broland packing heat if someone invaded our classroom? He couldn’t even hit a kid with a freakin’ eraser!!!

Our politicians are largely corrupt morons. Seriously. 

12) Jalen Duran had an interesting Thursday night; he was the 13th pick by Charlotte, but the Hornets traded him to the Knicks, who then traded him to Detroit. Lot of activity for an 18-year old kid. Getting traded twice within a half-hour doesn’t happen a lot.

In his one season of college ball at Memphis, Duren averaged 12 ppg, 1.3 assists/game, and 2.1 blocks/game and shot 60% from the floor. 

11) I’ll be curious to see Duren play in the Las Vegas Summer League, which starts in a couple of weeks out in the desert. All the games are TV, but if you like the NBA, I highly recommend going out to Las Vegas and watching it in person.

For $30 or so, you can sit there all day and watch 4-5 high-quality games, in air-conditioning in an arena with excellent concessions and there are lot of famous people there.

I’ve gone 4-5 times, enjoyed it every time. Plus, even if you don’t enjoy it, you’re still in Las Vegas, which is never a bad thing. 

10) Charlotte Hornets hired Steve Clifford as their new coach; Clifford is 292-345 in eight years as a head coach, 196-214 in a previous stop in Charlotte, 96-131 in Orlando. He made playoffs in four of those eight years, going 5-16 in playoff games.

Last season, Hornets went 43-39 but missed the playoffs for the sixth straight year, so they told the previous coach to take a hike.

9) San Diego 1, Philadelphia 0— Only run of game scored on a 6th inning single by Austin Nola; the pitcher was his brother, Aaron Nola. 

8) Minnesota Twins’ last three games:
— Lost 11-10 at home to the Guardians Wednesday
— Beat Cleveland 1-0 at home Thursday.
— Lost 1-0 at home to Colorado Friday. 

USFL playoff games:
Philadelphia vs New Jersey (-4.5, 47.5), in Canton, OH
Philadelphia Stars (6-4)
— Stars are 0-2 vs New Jersey, 6-2 vs everyone else.
— Won five of last seven games.
— Last seven weeks, they’re +10 in turnovers.
— Gave up 23+ points in nine of ten games (over 6-1 last seven).
— Have been outgained in eight of ten games (3-6-1 ATS).
— 1-3 ATS as an underdog.
— 5-1 if they score more than 17 points.

New Jersey Generals (9-1)
— Won last nine games (6-3 ATS), scoring 24.8 ppg in last eight.
— Last four games, Generals are +6 in turnovers (8-2)
— Outscored last four foes 70-34 in first half.
— 4-3 ATS as a favorite
— Six of their last seven games went over the total.

First meeting:
— Generals (+1) won 24-16 back in Week 3.
— New Jersey outrushed the Stars, 269-31.
— Philadelphia led 10-3 at halftime, was outgained 458-259.

Second meeting:
— Generals (-2.5) won 26-23 last week.
— New Jersey ran ball for 178 yards, outgained Stars 410-328.
— Philly ran ball only 17 times for 84 yards. 

New Orleans vs Birmingham (-5.5, 44.5) @ Canton, OH
New Orleans Breakers (6-4)
— 5-0 when they score more than 17 points.
— Scored 9-17-3 points in last three games.
— Last three games stayed under the total
— Have nine takeaways in last three games (+2)
— 2-0 ATS this season as an underdog.

Birmingham Stallions (9-1)
— First game this season without home fans.
— Trailed at halftime in half of their ten games
— Outscored opponents 133-76 in second half.
— 0-4 vs spread the last three weeks (6-0 first six weeks)
— Scored 10-15-21 points last three games (26.9 ppg first seven)
— Stallions are favored for 10th time in 11 games (5-4 ATS as a favorite)

First meeting:
— Stallions (+3.5) won 22-13 in Week 3.
— Breakers outgained Birmingham, 316-313.
— Stallions were +2 in turnovers; they led 10-6 at the half.

Second meeting:
— Stallions (-3.5) won 10-9 two weeks ago.
— Breakers outgained Birmingham, 313-301
— Stallions led 7-3 at half; both team had three turnovers. 

5) Xander Schauffele leads the PGA Tour event in Hartford by five strokes. Over the last 15 years, guys who led a PGA Tour event by 5+ strokes after the second round won that tournament 15 of 23 times. 

4) White Sox are 0-3 in Johnny Cueto’s home starts, scoring 1-1-0 runs in those games.

3) Baseball injuries:
— Royals put C Salvador Perez (thumb) on the IL
— Rays put OF Manuel Margot (knee) on the IL
— White Sox put OF Adam Engel (hamstring) and Adam Mednick (knee) on the IL

2) Toronto Blue Jays hitting coach Guillermo Martínez was suspended five games after a confrontation with an umpire this week; he was suspended for making contact with umpire Doug Eddings during the exchange of lineup cards before Wednesday’s game in Chicago.

Apparently the Blue Jays had a beef with Eddings Tuesday night and it carried over. 

1) I have the spreads for all the NFL games this season; somehow, the Cleveland Browns are favored in three of their first four games, even though no one, not even the Browns, know who their quarterback will be in those games. 

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

13) NBA commissioner Adam Silver is my favorite commissioner; a tall, bald man with glasses- he must be VERY smart!!! 🙂

Glad to see him back on TV at the draft Thursday; he missed the last two games of the NBA Finals with COVID.

12) Commissioner Silver sounded like he is in favor of kids going straight from high school to the NBA, which I think is a good idea. Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant; none of them played college ball. In the long run, it would help college ball, because the kids who play college ball would stay there longer- the game might have more continuity.

11) ABC’s coverage of the draft is unwatchable; four people on the main panel, only one of them played in the NBA and he (Jalen Rose) speaks the least of the four. You need a host, two guys who played in the league, and an ex-coach. Thats it.

Having Stephen A Smith on the draft coverage is just plain stupid.

Turns out ESPN had far better coverage; Jay Bilas is their Mel Kiper-type person and they actually talk about basketball. 

10) I am baffled why people wager on any draft; teams purposely lie/mislead people on who they are interested in taking, yet people still wager on who will get drafted where.

9) John Wall opted in on his $47M deal for next season, pretty good bank for a guy who played zero minutes in two of the last three seasons.

Wall played 40 of 72 games in 2020-21; he hasn’t played more than 41 games in any season since 2017. But by all means, pay the guy $47M.  

8) In major league history, there has been only walk-off home run that was an inside-the-park grand slam; Roberto Clemente hit it for the Pirates in 1956, as a 20-year old rookie. 

7) Minnesota Twins are 4-12 in games where the game-winning run scored from the 7th inning on; despite that, Twins are 39-32 and tied for first in the AL Central. 

6) Pirates 8, Cubs 7 (10)— Cubs lost their replay challenge in the top of the first inning, after the seventh pitch of the game. Replay wasn’t conclusive enough for them to risk their challenge on that play. 

5) Archie Manning’s grandson Arch Manning (Cooper Manning’s son) committed to play college football at Texas- he still has one year of high school ball left. He is the #1 QB prospect in the 2023 class. 

4) Angels sent P Reid Detmers down to AAA; with Tyler Gilbert also in AAA, that means the last two pitchers who threw no-hitters in the major leagues are now both in the minor leagues.

3) Mariners 2, A’s 1— Oakland led 1-0 in ninth inning; Seattle scored twice in ninth inning, both on wild pitches. A’s are 9-31 in their last 40 games; they’re 1-9 in game after their last 10 wins.

2) Sean McVay is the third alumnus of Miami OH to win a Super Bowl as a head coach, joining Weeb Ewbank, John Harbaugh on the list.

1) Right now, Deshaun Watson/Baker Mayfield are going to be paid a combined $65M by the Cleveland Browns this season; there is a pretty good chance that neither one will play for Cleveland this year.