Saturday’s List of 13: NFL knowledge for a summer Saturday

13) Seven new head coaches in the NFL this coming season, 17 new offensive coordinators— over half the teams in the NFL changed OC’s after last year. 13 teams have new defensive coordinators. 

12) There are only three offensive coordinators in the NFL who’ve been in that job with the same team for more than three years; Scott Linehan (Dallas), Pete Carmichael (NO, though Sean Payton is the real OC there) and Josh McDaniels (NE). 

Only six defensive coordinators have been in their current job with the same team for 4+ years. 

11) Pete Carroll is going into his 9th season in Seattle, but he’ll have two new coordinators this season; Mike McCarthy has been in Green Bay for a dozen years, but he’ll have two new coordinators this season, too.

10) Over was 13-3 in Falcon games in 2016, 2-13-1 last year. Over is 21-11 in Washington games the last two years. 

9) Baltimore Ravens went 9-7 LY, missing playoffs for 3rd year in row when their defense gagged at end of a 31-27 home loss to Cincinnati in Week 17, giving up a 49-yard TD pass in the last minute. 

When an NFL team is +17 in turnovers, +14 in sacks, scores eight TD’s on defense/special teams (T1 in NFL) and doesn’t make the playoffs, that not good. 

8) Vikings, Patriots had similar profiles last year; they both won despite not forcing many turnovers (Minn 19, NE 18), but rarely turning ball over themselves (Minn 14, NE 12). 

7) Teams who turned ball over the most LY: Browns 41, Broncos 34, Dolphins 29.

Teams who turned ball over the least: Chiefs 11, Patriots 12, Vikings/Raiders 14. 

6) Teams with the most takeaways LY: Ravens 34, Jaguars 33, Lions 32, Eagles 31. 

Teams with the least takeaways LY: Browns 13, Bengals/Raiders 14, Dolphins 15

5) Jets, Raiders were only NFL teams LY to not score a TD on defense or special teams.

4) Carolina Panthers were 11-5 LY, 8-1 in games decided by 8 or fewer points, 4-0 in games decided by 3 or fewer points. 

Norv Turner as the Panthers’ new OC will be fascinating, how he utilizes Cam Newton.

3) Chargers went 9-7 LY, but were 1-4 in games decided by 3 or fewer points, losing three of those games during their 0-4 start, when the Bolts’ kickers screwed up in key spots. Chargers used four different kickers last year. 

2) Dak Prescott loses his top two red zone targets from LY, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Dallas has only three players on its team who are 30+ years old. 

1) Alex Smith is a QB who doesn’t take as many chances as most QB’s, so his teams don’t turn the ball over as much- they had 11 turnovers LY, least in league. but Smith is in Washington now, and rookie QB Mahomes (1 start LY) is the Chiefs’ QB.

Its not inconceivable that their giveaway total could double this season; 19 of 32 NFL teams turned the ball over 22+ times LY. 

Wednesday’s List of 13: College football knowledge…….

13) Since 2009, Alabama has been an underdog once in 125 games; in 2015, Bama was a 1-point underdog at Georgia. Alabama hammered the Dawgs 38-10 that day. 

12) Over last decade, Texas A&M is 14-22-2 vs spread as an underdog; average total in their last five bowl games is 79.6. 

11) Since 2010, LSU is 14-7 vs spread coming off a straight-up loss; since 2012, they’re 22-28-1 vs spread coming off a win.  

10) Ole Miss is 17-8 vs spread in its last 25 games as road underdogs; favorites covered their last five bowl games, only one of which was decided by less than 14 points. 

9) Since Urban Meyer bolted Florida eight years ago, Florida is 12-19-1 vs spread coming off a loss. Over last decade, Gators are 2-5 as home dogs, 7-10-1 as road dogs, 15-8 as road favorites. 

8) Last three years, South Carolina is +23 in turnovers; underdogs covered their last four bowl games. In two years under Muschamp, Gamecocks are 11-5 vs spread in SEC games. 

7) Auburn lost four of its last five bowl games, allowing 34+ points in all four losses. Since 2009, Auburn is 12-6 as a home underdog. 

6) Arkansas hasn’t covered as a road favorite since 2010; they’re 0-5 since then. Razorbacks are 9-15-1 vs spread the last two years.

5) Kentucky lost its last four bowls; their last bowl win was in 2008. Last two years, Wildcats are 2-9 vs spread when favored. 

4) Tennessee is on its 5th coach in 11 years, not counting interim coaches; last two years, Vols were 1-6-1 vs spread as an underdog, 3-12-1 vs spread in SEC games. 

3) Vanderbilt was 1-7 vs spread in SEC games LY, ending a 6-year streak where Commodores went 5-3 vs spread in SEC tilts every year. Vandy QB Kyle Shurmur is the son of Giants’ coach Pat Shurmur. 

2) Since 2009, Ohio State is 9-1 vs spread as an underdog. 

1— Over last decade, Michigan is 16-31 vs spread in road games. Wolverines lost four of their last five bowl games. Last four years, Michigan is -17 in turnovers. 

Thursday’s List of 13: Happy Armadillo Day!!!!

13) 17 years ago today, armadillosports.com was born; the world has changed a lot since then, not always for the better, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this space, thru good and bad. 

As year #18 begins here, let’s hope the world becomes a happier, more cohesive place. 

12) June 14 also means it is my friend Big Dawg’s 29th birthday (again); happy birthday!!! 

11) Nationals 5, New York 4— Juan Soto is 19 years old; he is hitting .349 in his first 20 major league games and hit two homers in this game. 

Soto played only eight games in the AA Eastern League, batting 31 times; he skipped over AAA, which is very unusual, but Soto appears to be an unusual talent. 

10) Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera (biceps) is done for the year, but a doctor posted on Twitter Tuesday night that he should be 100% for 2019. 

Tigers are on the hook for $154M for Cabrera AFTER this year (2019-23). He better be 100%. 

9) Ruben Amaro Jr is first base coach for the Mets this year, which is only newsworthy because from 2009-15, he was general manager of the Phillies. Guys don’t go from being GM’s to base coaches, very unusual. 

Amaro took over the Phillies the year after they won the World Series, let their nucleus get a little too old before he broke it up, then got fired. 

Now he is trying to work his way up into becoming a field manager. Interesting career. 

8) Speaking of the Mets, they hit .147 on their recent 9-game homestand. Thats the worst batting average EVER for any homestand of 7+ games, for any team in baseball history. 

7) In 1970, Bob Gibson went 23-7 pitching and hit .303; he is the only pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award and hit .300 in the same season. 

6) Someone at the Westgate SuperBook bet $1,200 Tuesday on Eldrick Woods to win the US Open this week at 20-1. 

5) Paid attendance in Miami Tuesday night for Giants-Marlins; 5,928 (announced). As the old saying goes, many of those 5,928 “fans” were disguised as empty seats.

4) Braves 2, Mets 0— Jacob deGrom pitched Wednesday; he has a 1.31 RA in his last eight starts, but won only one of the eight games. Mets haven’t hit for him, and the bullpen has blown leads late in the game for him. 

Braves pitched Mike Soroka had a no-hitter thru six innings, trying to become the third Canadian pitcher to throw a big league no-hitter. 

3) There have been two no-hitters thrown by Canadian pitchers; James Paxton in Toronto earlier this season, and on September 9, 1945, Philadelphia’s Dick Fowler no-hit the St Louis Browns 1-0 in the second game of a doubleheader. 

That was Fowler’s first start in three years; he had served in the Canadian Army during World War II and this was his first start after returning from the war. 

Fowler wound up going 66-79 in 10 years in the major leagues, all with the A’s; he passed away at age 51 in Oneonta, NY.

2) Major league umpire Stu Scheurwater is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, not a place you’d expect a major league umpire to come from.

1) Seven weeks left until the trade deadline in baseball; media types will keep themselves busy with useless speculation. Wake me up when an actual trade happens.

Why I call it useless speculation; Mets have already said that deGrom isn’t available, but until he’s still a Met on August 1, you’ll see speculation that he’s going to be traded. 

May 17, 1979: Phillies 23, Cubs 22….a recap

On May 17, 1979, Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 in 10 innings, in one of the strangest games ever:

13) Phillies were 24-10 at the time; Chicago was 16-16. Cubs had 26 hits in the game, Phils had 24. 

12) The game was 7-6 Phillies, after the first inning. Somewhere, someone bet the under in this game. 

11) Phillies starting pitcher Randy Lerch homered in the top of the first inning, never finished the bottom of the first. Both starting pitchers got only one out before being removed. 

10) Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt hit 3rd/4th in Phillies’ order; they combined to score seven runs and knock in eight. Light-hitting Larry Bowa was 5 for 8 in the game. 

9) Bob Boone was 3-4 with five RBI’s; his son Aaron is now the manager in the Bronx. Boone and Schmidt were both walked intentionally twice. 

8) Reliever Tug McGraw faced 10 batters; seven of them scored. McGraw is the father of the great singer Tim McGraw. 

7) 22 of the first 53 Cubs who came to bat scored, but Rawly Eastwick slammed the door shut in the last two innings, retiring all six Cubs he faced. 

6) Donnie Moore faced 14 batters and seven of them scored, but he did hit a triple, one of his two career three-baggers. 

5) Phillies led this game 21-9 in the 5th inning but Cubs tied the game off of Ron Reed in the 8th inning; Reed pitched 19 years in the major leagues and also played 119 games for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons from 1965-67. 

4) Dave Kingman hit three homers for the Cubs; Bill Buckner knocked in seven runs, seven years before his infamous error in the ’86 World Series. 

3) Phillies went home the next day and got swept in a 3-game series by the Expos. Chicago lost its next four games after this one. 

2) 1979 turned out to be the only year in a six-year stretch where the Phillies missed the playoffs; they finished 84-78, the Cubs 80-82. 

Phillies fired manager Danny Ozark late in 1979, hired Dallas Green and won the ’80 World Series. 

1) Naysayers like to criticize baseball now but attendance that day was 14,952; when was last time the Cubs drew less than 15,000 for a home game? 

Tuesday’s Den: AFC teams’ early season trends…..

Baltimore— Ravens won 11 of last 13 home openers; under is 4-1 in last five of those. Baltimore is 13-3 vs spread in last 16 post-bye games. 

Buffalo— Last 18 years, Bills are 2-16 in their pre-bye game. Buffalo is 8-3 vs spread in its last 11 home openers. 

Cincinnati— Bengals open on road for 8th time in last nine years; over is 8-1 in their last nine road openers. Cincy is 4-0-1 in last five pre-bye games. 

Cleveland— Since re-joining the NFL in 1999, Browns started season 0-1 18 out of 19 years; they’re 3-12 vs spread in Week 1 home games. 

Denver— Broncos open at home for 8th year in row; they’re 26-3 SU in last 29 home openers,6-3 vs spread in last nine. Broncos won six of last seven post-bye games. 

Houston— Texans open on road for only 2nd time in last 10 years; they won seven of last nine road openers. Under is 5-2 in their last seven season openers. 

Indianapolis— Colts lost their last four home openers, three by 4 or fewer points. Indy started season 0-1 seven of last eight years- they’re 1-9 vs spread in Week 1 the last ten years. 

Jacksonville— Jaguars lost last six home openers, four of last five road openers. Last time they were favored in a home opener was 2010; their HO this year is against New England, so they probably won’t be favored this year, either. 

Kansas City— Since 2006, Chiefs are 1-8-1 vs spread as favorites in home openers. KC is on road three of first four weeks this season, with a QB who has started one NFL game. 

LA Chargers— Bolts covered five of their last six home openers; over is 12-3 in their last 15. Chargers lost their last four road openers, but covered five of last six. Chargers lost five of their last six pre-bye games (1-5 vs spread). 

Miami— Dolphins won five of last six home openers; eight of their last nine home openers went over the total. Miami also covered four of last five road openers; under is 19-5 in last 24 road openers. 

New England— Patriots won six of last seven road openers (5-2 vs spread); they’re 14-2 SU in last 16 home openers, but just 1-5 vs spread in last six. New England won its last nine pre-bye games (8-1 vs spread). 

NJ Jets— Jets won six of last seven home openers; they’re 15-6 vs spread in last 21 road openers. Gang Green is 3-6 vs spread in last nine post-bye games. 

Oakland— Raiders won their last three road openers, are 4-0-1 vs spread in last five; they lost four of last six home openers, last four of which went over the total. Oakland covered five of its last six post-bye games. 

Pittsburgh— Steelers won 14 of last 15 home openers, are 10-3 vs spread in last 13. Under is 7-2 in their last nine home openers. Pitt lost five of last seven road openers; they’re 2-8-1 vs spread in last 11. Steelers covered only one of last seven post-bye games. 

Tennessee— Titans lost five of last six home openers; they’re 9-2 vs spread in last 11 road openers. Under is 16-5 in their last 21 road openers. Titans are 2-6 vs spread in last eight post-bye games. 

Friday’s List of 13: Questions, questions, always questions……..

13) Why do baseball teams in New York City, Boston, Philly and Washington all have new managers this year, none of whom ever managed in the majors before? 

Its like all of a sudden the over-educated geniuses in the front office decided that a manager is an overrated thing. There is a human element in sports that should never be discounted, even though it can’t really be quantified. 

12) Why does an NFL prospect jump up the draft charts so far, from the time the college season ends to the draft? Games should count more than workouts. 

If the NFL Draft had been held on February 1st, I don’t think Baker Mayfield is the #1 pick. 

11) Why didn’t the Twins put a retractable dome on their ballpark? If you look at attendance in Milwaukee, Twins are losing out on 300-400,000 paid admissions a year by not having a roof. 

10) Shouldn’t high school basketball players be able to go pro right from high school, the way baseball players can? 

9) If baseball expands to 32 teams, would they dare expand to Montreal and Monterrey, MX in the same year. Seems like Portland, OR wants a team; wonder if the A’s would go there? 

8) Why are the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights so good? They’re the most successful expansion team in the history of the four major sports.

7) Why do some teams bat their pitchers 8th? It makes no sense. No one has done it in a playoff game, which tells me it is a gimmick no one truly believes in. 

6) Should a convicted felon be allowed to hold political office in this country? 

5) Shouldn’t baseball writers be able to come up with more interesting stories on April 30 than their annual speculation on which big-money teams will poach good players from small market teams at the trade deadline, which is July 31? 

4) Shouldn’t the NBA move its draft around the country, like the NHL and NFL do? Seems to generate lot of interest in the host city. 

3) Why does only one league have the DH? Who thought that was a good idea? 

2) Why doesn’t every college student take a money management course? Wouldn’t that be a good thing to be well-versed in when you get out in the real world? Managing your time and your money are very important. 

1) Why did the Red Sox fire Terry Francona as their manager? Guy won them two World Series after a drought of almost 100 years, and they get rid of the guy after 89-73/90-72 seasons.  

Thursday’s List of 13: 13 of my favorite sports movies…….

I do this list once a year or so; feel free to make your own list.

13) Major League— Still maintain that Bob Uecker should’ve won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Harry Doyle, the Indians’ radio announcer. To this day, when a pitcher throws a really terrible pitch to the backstop, chances are the TV guy will say “….juuuust a biiiit outside…” like Harry Doyle did when Wild Thing Vaughn was on the mound.

12) He Got Game— The only Spike Lee movie I’ve ever seen; its a good one, with Denzel Washington getting released from prison by warden Ned Beatty, on one condition— that he can get his son (Ray Allen) to play basketball at the warden’s alma mater, Big State.

Anyone who was surprised by Louisville’s problems last year didn’t see this movie.

11) Rocky— If only they hadn’t made all those awful sequels. Rocky is a classic; a fighter down on his luck gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot to fight for the heavyweight title back when boxing was a big thing. If you’re at a game in Philly now and they cue up the Rocky music, people still get fired up— its pretty cool.

10) Hoosiers— I’ve had this argument with a friend of mine for years, that Norman Dale was a horrible coach saved only by Jimmy Chitwood not missing a shot in the whole damn movie. Hickory High finished the first game he coached with four guys on the court; even his assistant coach, who wound up in alcohol rehab, knew enough to always give Jimmy the ball when it mattered. They did nail the scene at the end when Hickory wins the state title.

9) Any Given Sunday— Lawrence Taylor and Jim Brown as actors? Yes!!! Al Pacino coaches his Miami Sharks against four teams, all coached by NFL Hall of Famers.

8) Moneyball— The good guys lose in the end, but not before they win 20 games in a row and surprisingly make the playoffs. I won’t embarrass myself by telling you how many times I’ve seen this movie, but if you guess, chances are your guess is too low.

7) Bull Durham— Pitching coach Robert Wuhl delivered this inspirational piece of advice on a visit to the mound:

“……candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she’s registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern. Okay, let’s get two!”

6) Friday Night Lights— Of all the sports movies, Billy Bob Thornton does the best job of portraying a coach, in this case a west Texas high school football coach who gets his best player KO’d for the season by leaving him in a blowout too long. The townspeople aren’t pleased.

5) Blue Chips— Nick Nolte did his research for this by hanging out with Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers for a year, so the thrown chairs and punted balls make more sense. Jerry Tarkanian’s cameo and Bob Cousy’s portrayal of the school’s AD are the underrated parts of this movie.

4) Invincible— True story about Vince Papale, who was a 30-year old bartender that tried out for and wound up playing special teams for the Eagles for three years in the 70’s. Mark Wahlberg plays Papale; Greg Kinnear plays Dick Vermeil.

3) Fast Break— Gabe Kaplan’s character quits his job in a New York City deli to become the basketball coach at a small Nevada college. The team he puts together is interesting- Bernard King and Michael Warren are two of the players.

2) One on One— Robby Benson plays a flashy small school point guard who gets recruited by a big time college program, but once he gets on campus, the coach thinks he made a mistake and tries to run him off the team.

1— For Love of the Game— Kevin Costner pitches for the Tigers, but is at the end of his career. JK Simmons is his manager; John C O’Reilly his catcher, Kelly Preston his girlfriend. Vin Scully is in effect the narrator of the movie.

Tuesday’s List of 13: Some college knowledge…….

13) Over the last 15 years, of the 60 teams who made the Final Four, 26 won their conference tournament. Over last six years, only 7 of 24 Final Four teams won their conference tourney; from 2004-11, 19 of 32 Final Four teams did.

12) 7 of the last 15 national champs won their conference tourney, but only one of the last six.

11) Since 2003, only 8 of 60 Final Four teams lost their first conference tourney game: Here are those teams:
2003— Marquette, Texas
2005— Michigan State
2007— UCLA
2009— UConn
2010— Michigan State (only team to do it twice)
2016— Syracuse
2017— South Carolina

10) Since 2006, two CAA teams have made the Final Four; George Mason in ’06 and VCU five years later. Weird thing is that neither of those teams won the CAA tournament that year. CAA ain’t getting more than one team in NCAA’s anymore, but they did as recently as 2011.

9) In 2011, UConn did something that will never be surpassed; not only did they win the NCAA tournament, winning six games, they had to win another five games to win the Big East tournament— they weren’t getting into the NCAA’s unless they won that tournament.

8) In 2006 and 2007, Florida finished the season by winning both the SEC tournament and the NCAA tournament— thats a very underrated accomplishment- 9-0 finishes both years.

7) In the last 15 years, 2008 was the only Final Four where all four teams won their conference tournament; in 2003 and 2009, none of the Final Four teams won their tournament.

6) Not putting pressure on Montana or anything, but the #1 seed won the last seven Big Sky tournaments. Most of those were at the home court of the #1 seed; they play the tournament on a neutral floor in Reno these days, but still…….

5) Fairfield has basketball players from nine different countries, plus Puerto Rico.

4) Eastern Washington’s Bogdan Bliznyuk has made 74 foul shots in a row, which is an NCAA single-season record.

3) Since the NCAA tournament went to 64, and then 68 teams, #2 seeds are 124-8 in their first round tournament games; here are the eight #2 seeds who lost in the first round:

1990— Richmond (+9) 73, Syracuse 69
1993— Santa Clara (+20) 64, Arizona 61
1997— Coppin State (+17) 78, South Carolina 65
2001— Hampton (+17.5) 58, Iowa State 57
2012— Lehigh (+12) 75, Duke 70
2012— Norfolk State (+21.5) 86, Missouri 84
2013— Florida Gulf Coast (+13.5) 78, Georgetown 68
2016— Middle Tennessee State (+18) 90, Michigan State 81

2) Since 2003, Big Sky teams are 1-14 in first round NCAA tourney games; over the last 11 years, they’re 2-8-1 vs spread in first round games.

1— Big West teams have also had problems in the NCAA’s recently; since 2006, Big West teams are 2-0 in play-in games,  but are 1-11 in first round games, 4-8 vs spread.

Saturday’s List of 13: Random thoughts, mostly about Las Vegas

13) My favorite dinner place in Las Vegas is Battitsta’s, a hole-in-the-wall place behind the Cromwell and next to Bally’s. Very good Italian place; old school, with checked tablecloths and an older guy who walks around playing the accordion.

Runner up place to eat is the Mirage, where they have the Carnegie Deli, with the biggest sandwiches ever. I order extra bread and make two sandwiches out of it.

Another good restaurant is in the Stratosphere, but I can’t remember the name of it; it is an Italian place downstairs and it is really good- lighting is dark and reminds you of scenes in different movies.

12) If you like basketball, Las Vegas is a fun place to live; UNLV hoops are lot of fun to go to; they’re having a resurgent year this season- little disappointed the public hasn’t caught on to them that much yet, but part of that is how well the new hockey team is doing.

11) In July, NBA Summer League is at UNLV for a good part of the month; for $30, you can sit in an air conditioned arena all day long and watch guys try to make the NBA.

Later in July, the best high school players in the western US play in tournaments all over Las Vegas. All the college coaches you see on TV all winter are there at one time or another— lot of good basketball.

10) Then in March, the WCC, WAC, Mountain West and Pac-12 all have their conference tournaments in Las Vegas. Lot of good action to choose from.

9) There is a Pinball Museum on Flamingo Road; you can go in and play these old-time pinball machines for a quarter. its a quirky fun way to spend a couple of hours.

8) There is a never a shortage of shows, concerts to go to in Las Vegas; plus the Golden Knights have 41 home games a year now. Jewel is playing at the Wynn in late March; Donnie and Marie play in Vegas all the time. Carrot Top has his comedy act there all the time. Lot of stuff going on.

7) Best sportsbook in Las Vegas is definitely the Westgate, where I stayed the last 11 days; huge place, good bar, three food options, just by the sports book and tremendous TV screens to watch almost anything you want. On NFL Sundays, the Westgate opens their theater to show NFL games.

6) The Neon Museum downtown has a lot of old neon signs from old casinos that don’t exist anymore; its an oddly cool piece of history, especially at dusk, when they light some of the signs.

5) They play AAA baseball at Cashman Field downtown in the spring/summer; this will be the last year for the Mets’ AAA team in Las Vegas. They’re also building a new ballpark out in the northwest section of town, up in Summerlin. No word on whose AAA team will move in, with the Mets’ team moving to Syracuse in 2019.

4) One thing about the Las Vegas airport; people arriving at the airport most always look happier than people flying out of Las Vegas.

3) Had a 3.5-hour layover in Baltimore’s airport Friday night, which would’ve been lot more palatable if they had decent WiFi there. They do have Chick-fil-A though and Chick-fil-A is tremendous.

2) St Bonaventure 77, Rhode Island 74— Rams’ 16-game winning streak is over. Bonnies have won eight games in a row.

1) I’m back in my palatial suburban estate after 11 days in the desert; Las Vegas is great fun to visit- there was a magic convention at my hotel while I was there (no, things didn’t keep disappearing) and I went to a UNLV game (NHL tickets are too expensive since the Knights are doing so well). A full 11 days of fun, plus I missed a snowstorm. Worth it!!!!

Saturday’s List of 13: In a perfect world, where I made the decisions……

13) Every kid would learn basic life skills in high school: cooking, laundry, how to write a check, how to do a budget, the divorce laws.

12) We’d get rid of the designated hitter, once and for all.

11) NFL players wouldn’t have radios in their helmets; coaches have six days to prepare the players. Sunday should be the players’ day to play.

10) Speaking of which, no Thursday NFL games, except for Week 1 and Thanksgiving Day.

9) Get rid of the electoral college; whichever presidential candidate gets the most votes, they win the election. Seems simple enough. I’ve felt this way about the electoral college since I was in high school, a very long time ago.

8) Kids could go straight from high school to the NBA or G-League, but if you go to college to play ball, then you’re not eligible for the draft for two years.

7) Major leagues would have a salary floor and a salary cap; none of this BS the Marlins are doing, dumping all your good players, insuring a 100-loss seasons not only this year but for the foreseeable future.

6) NBA playoff series would be two out of three until the Finals, which would be best-of-5. the way the NBA is now, the playoffs suck; who can beat Golden State four out of seven games?

5) Relief pitchers have to face at least two batters when they come in, instead of one; if MLB is really concerned about pace of play, nothing drags it down like left/right pitching changes. if a lefty reliever can’t get righty hitters out, then they shouldn’t be in the big leagues.

4)  I’d be in favor of college basketball adopting the NBA’s 8-second rule for getting the ball over halfcourt; most anything that encourages pressing and a faster-paced game is a good thing.

3) I’d make cigarettes illegal; they’re known to cause cancer. What is good about them?

2) I’d make sure DirecTV picked up the Pac-12 Network. Its not too much to ask.

1— One news item:

Bad times at Colorado State: on Thursday, the basketball team boycotted practice because of growing frustration over lack of communication from the school about an investigation into coach Larry Eustachy’s treatment of players/staff.

Apparently the school wants to fire Eustachy, who makes around $950K a year; I’m guessing the delay is they’re making damn sure they can fire him for cause and not have to pay him.

Friday’s List of 13: Random thoughts from the desert……

13) One of things that I like about is Las Vegas is sitting in the sportsbook, watching games, and thinking…….last night, I was thinking about how this website can improve.

Came up with couple of ideas, one of which will start in April— I think you’ll enjoy it, and one will take place next fall— some people might not like this one as much, but hopefully it’ll make this site a better one to read and one you can profit more from reading.

12) Cleveland Cavaliers made three trades Thursday; they dealt six players, acquired four, and hopefully improved their team.

11) Someone on ESPN Thursday afternoon casually mentioned that “Isaiah Thomas might come off the bench for the Lakers.” Not long after, a message appeared on ESPN’s crawl that Thomas’ agent had texted someone at ESPN, saying “Thomas WILL NOT COME OFF THE BENCH for the Lakers.” Apparently someone is really sensitive about what he hears on TV.

10) I’ve spent 17 years of my life involved with basketball teams- I did a lot with analytics and numbers to help the head coach make decisions.

If I ever got back into this, one of things I’d change is making sure a player who assisted on a 3-point shot would get credit for 1.5 assists— would have to make a new category, but you get my point. Passing for a foul shot or 3-point basket needs to be recognized, not just 2-point baskets.

9) Upsets of the Night:
UL-Monroe (+12) 66, Georgia Southern 64
North Texas (+10) 67, UAB 60
UCLA (+9) 82, Arizona 74
Monmouth (+8.5) 72, Iona 50
Tennessee State (+7.5) 64, Belmont 56
Wisconsin (+5.5) 78, Illinois 69

8) One of the new and not necessarily better features of the Westgate sportsbook is an increased interest in hockey- they had the volume up on the hometown Golden Knights’ game Thursday night, instead of UCLA-Arizona, with Pasch/Walton on the mike. No bueno.

7) Question of the Day: What would you do if you were worth $10 billion? I was watching a movie on TV last week about the guy who founded Facebook- he has to be pretty damn rich now, right? He is 33 years old and is worth $73 billion, 73 freakin’ billion dollars.

What does he do every day that keeps him interested? Having a sick amount of money is great, but you have to have something that makes you jump out of bed in the morning. I wonder how the really rich people stay motivated? What makes them get up in the morning?

6) Dodger pitcher Ross Stripling went to seven weddings this offseason, including his own; five of the seven were guys on the Dodgers getting married.

5) Manhattan College is in the Bronx, not Manhattan; Long Island University is in Brooklyn, not on Long Island.

4) Toronto Raptors’ guard Kyle Lowry gave $1M to his alma mater Villanova, so they can re-do the locker room facilities in their fieldhouse.

Seems like a lot of cash, but Lowry has struck gold in the NBA- he has a 3-year, $90M contract, so giving away $1M of it ain’t such a big deal, but its a big deal to Villanova— it is the largest gift they’ve ever gotten from a former athlete.

3) Portland Trailblazers hired former referee Don Vaden, to serve as a consultant who offers advice on league rules, background on referee personalities and tendencies, and knowledge on how to avoid or draw fouls. Good idea.

2) 49ers gave QB Jimmy Garoppolo a 5-year, $137.5M contract, which is a lot of cabbage for a guy with seven NFL starts— he did win all seven of them.

1— Why do college basketball teams have timeouts on the court while NBA teams have them on the bench, where they’re supposed to be?

Friday’s Den: Ranking the months of the year…….

12) January— Keep in mind that I live in upstate New York, where the weather sucks from Thanksgiving to St Patrick’s Day. January is a long, cold month; conference games in college basketball are the thing that makes it tolerable; that and the NFL playoffs.

11) February— Same as January, only three days shorter; there is something about watching golf on TV that makes you feel warmer. Super Bowl is in February and college hoop and baseball is starting in Florida and Arizona.

10) December— Today, the sun sets at 4:22; next week, the days start getting longer, but this is a long, cold, dark month. Most of the good pre-conference college basketball games are November games— Saturdays are the best basketball days in December. Christmas, bowl games and the NFL help December’s rating, but not a lot.

9) November— Steep drop-off after October; it snows sometime in November- I don’t like snow. This is a better college basketball month than December, since Thanksgiving Week is one of the best sports weeks of the year. When I was working for New York State, I had three days off in November— days off were a good thing. Now I have every day off.

8) May— 20 or so years ago, I coached Little League, which seems like a shaky decision now. Practice every weekday, couple of games a week. Kids were fine; the parents? Not so much. Nowadays, social media would make Little League easier. Could just have a Twitter page and post if practices/games were rained out. Back then? Every rainout was 12 phone calls.

7) June— I got married in June; despite that, it gets a middle-of-pack ranking because of the great weather and six hours of baseball every day.

When I was a kid, June was the best month, with school ending for the year. Little did I know back that the teachers were probably more anxious for the school year to end than we were.

6) July— If you really like the NBA, I would strongly recommend you go to Las Vegas one year and go to the NBA Summer League at UNLV. For $28 or $30 for a full day, you can watch 3-4 games, and rub elbows with NBA owners, coaches, players— lot of them are there.

Later in July, AAU basketball invades Las Vegas, with lot of tournaments— almost all the college coaches show up at events at either Cashman Center or Bishop Gorman HS or the convention center.

5) August— Here in the Albany area, August is the best social month of the year, with the horse racing in Saratoga and concerts at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and nice weather every day. Baseball’s pennant races are going on and the college football magazines are out.

4) April— Baseball season starts, the Final Four takes place and I almost always spend ten days in Las Vegas every April. Watching the Final Four in Vegas is something you should do; great fun.

Couple years ago, was sitting next to a guy who had lot of money on Villanova/under in the national title game. When Paige hits the jumper for North Carolina, the guy slumps; his under bet is a loser, but when Villanova wins at the buzzer, he was damn glad to get out of there with a split. Didn’t ask how much, but seemed like he had a lot of money riding on it.

3) October— Baseball playoffs, football is in full swing, college basketball magazines come out and I almost always spend some time in the desert.

Few years ago, I’m sitting in the theater at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, watching the NFL; they have the best set-up, all the games up on a screen, with the audio up on one main game. There are betting windows in the back, food off to the left.

I’m talking to this guy who is wearing a Cardinals’ jersey; all of a sudden it dawns on me that this guy is betting thousands of dollars on the games. Serious money and he doesn’t seem like he is stressed out at all. Good guy, but I would’ve been having a nervous breakdown.

Las Vegas is the big leagues when it comes to that stuff; I forget that sometimes.

2) March— Best month of year for college basketball, spring training baseball on TV every day, the weather is getting better. Still snows sometimes, but March is usually excellent.

1) September— When I was a kid, there was September/January were by far the worst months of the year. Nothing worse than the first day of school every year, but now, September is still really a summer month, and football starts during the baseball pennant races.

I went to private grade school, but then to public high school, where 9th grade was in a building by itself. I was painfully shy, and had never ridden a school bus before; my 8th grade class had 24 kids, my 9th grade class had 730 kids. Will never forget how terrified I was those first few days of 9th grade changing classes and having a locker for the first time.

Everything turned out fine, but boy I hated September back then; it never would’ve made it above #11 on my ranking back then.

Thursday’s List of 13: Things I’m thankful for……..

I’m a lucky person; lot of good things have happened for me over the years. Here are 13 things I’m grateful for on Thanksgiving Day……..

13) First things first; I’m lucky that I had parents who taught me right from wrong. Its a lot easier to get thru life when you are shown a roadmap on how to do things the right way. I haven’t always followed their roadmap, but I haven’t strayed too far from it, either.

12) Given the state of modern affairs, I’m thankful to whoever invented the mute button. There are so many mouthy, obnoxious people now; you see them, you hit the mute button and their voice goes away.

Younger people may not realize that there was a time when you had to get up and change the channel EVERY TIME you changed channels. Nowadays, our thumbs get a solid workout from working the remote control— I’m also thankful to whoever invented the remote.

11) To whoever invented the Internet, whether it was Al Gore or someone else, thank you!!! There is a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips now that wasn’t there when we were kids. Myself, I spend lot of time on Twitter- there is so much information there. Lot to learn.

10) I’m thankful to live in an area where I’m not too far from NYC, Boston, Philly, Montreal; an underrated thing is taking the train from Albany to Manhattan- what a beehive of activity Penn Station is. If you’ve never visited New York City, do it sometime— very busy place. Best time to visit, for me, would be from now until Christmas— its a lot friendlier around Christmas.

One thing about living in Albany that I’m not thankful for— snow. Hate snow.

9) Having the chance to travel has been a joy; when I was in college, took a trip to Sweden one summer- that was fun. There is so much to see in this country; the beaches in California and Florida, the Alamo in San Antonio and my personal favorite, any casino in Las Vegas.

8) I’m thankful to a man named John Connolly who was my high school principal who hooked me up to be a student manager for our high school basketball team— that started me on a path where I did the same thing in college, going basically for free.

Being manager of a basketball team isn’t glamorous, it wasn’t good for your social standing, but it was great fun and educational—you learned how an organization works from the inside, how it takes doing the little things to make the big things happen.

7) Thank you to whoever invented the cellphone— there was a TV show in the 60’s called Get Smart where special agent Maxwell Smart had a phone in his shoe. Mel Brooks wrote the show and it was genuinely comic genius, really coming up with the cellphone before it existed.

I can remember going to Saratoga racetrack and there were no phones- you were completely off the grid while you were there. Nowadays, probably 90% of people there have phones in their pockets. There weren’t even payphones at the track- they were banned.

6) I’m thankful to my teachers in grade school who taught me that reading/writing/math were all important things. I have no idea what kids learn in school now, but I once got a $10,000 raise at work, all because I could do math in my head without a pen or calculator— seriously.

Then there was Sister Catherine Greene, one of my teachers in 7th grade. I wasn’t paying any attention in a religion class one day and she knew that, so she calls on me, asking “Who is your favorite saint?” I was a quiet kid and it was embarrassing that I had no idea what she had been talking about- she was talking about religion, I had been daydreaming about football.

Now this is maybe 1972 or so, and I’m 12 or 13 and I wasn’t trying to be a wiseass, but I also was not paying attention, so when she asked who my favorite saint was, I just looked her and said:

“Archie Manning”

Sister Catherine was not amused; my classmates were.

5) I’m thankful that someone invented fantasy sports; since free agency doomed the A’s to being a second-tier franchise, being in a fantasy league has kept baseball season consistently fun.

Quick story about being an A’s fan— this was in 1978, I’m lying in bed late at night listening to an A’s-Red Sox game on the radio. When I was a kid, listening to baseball games on the radio was a big thing.

A’s send a pinch-hitter up to the plate, but the guy had just been called up from AAA and didn’t have his name on his jersey. Red Sox announcers had no clue who the guy was and because the low-budget A’s had very little front office help, no one in the press box did, either.

Turns out the guy’s name was Mark Budaska, who wound up playing in only 13 big league games. Nowadays, stuff like that would never, ever happen.

4) In the late 80’s, I found myself writing a daily picks column in the Albany Times-Union; did it for four years,- it was a much smaller version of what we do here every day. Picked games most every day all year round and I had to sink or swim, because it was out there for everyone to see, and I took a good share of grief during the inevitable slumps.

3) I’m very lucky that I wound up as an assistant coach at Schenectady High School in the mid-90’s; my eight years there were filled with fun and laughter, and I made good friends there.

What a learning experience; a suburban guy finds himself coaching at an inner -city high school, where the basketball team was horrible the first year, but four years later, we were state champs. I learned so much about dealing with people and how to get things done.

2) I’m very thankful to all my friends who’ve made my life a lot more fun. We all get caught up in our own lives and don’t stay in contact as much as I’d like to, but we’ve shared experiences that have made life a lot more enjoyable.

1) We’re all very lucky to live in this country, despite the hijinx of the past couple years. Few years from now, we’ll emerge from this mess a stronger/healthier country.

Thursday’s List of 13: A night of basketball in Las Vegas…….

13) I was at the AAU game in Las Vegas last night, pitting the SC Supreme against the Big Ballers in a pool play game. The place was ridiculously crowded, so crowded that the game was almost cancelled due to concerns about crowding from the fire marshal.

First of all, this is a very organized, well-run event; seven games going on at all times under one roof in the Cashman Center, with bleachers and a good concession stand, but a lot more people than usual showed up to watch last night.

They put out boxscores for these games, which is great. Lot of work goes into doing a good job of running a tournament like this.

12) Most people I listened to before the game thought SC Supreme, featuring top recruit Zion Williamson, would dispose of LaVar Ball’s team easily, but the Ballers played their hearts out and didn’t get blown out, losing 104-92 in a raggedy game.

11) “Unreal. Never seen anything like it,” Kansas coach Bill Self, who was at the game, told ESPN.

10) Supposedly, Lebron James came to the Cashman Center for the game, but didn’t come in when he was told about the crowd concerns. Four or five other NBA players were at the game.

9) OK, so you know I love boxscores; here are some stats from this game:

— SC Supreme was 0-2 on the arc in this game; Ballers were 15-46. Wow
— LaMelo Ball scored 36 points; was 7-15 inside the arc, 3-12 outside the arc, 13-16 on the line. He is a good passer, but is more of a shoot-first guy than his older brother Lonzo, who was also at this game.
— Zion Williamson, one of the best high school players in the country, scored 31 points in 31:00, but was only 7-20 on the foul line- his teammates were 25-34.
— SC Supreme shot 57.1% from the floor, were 32-54 on the foul line.
— Ballers’ five subs who played took a total of two shots in 34:00 played.

8) LaVar Ball has become semi-famous for his promotional skills; he seems to crave attention, but during the game, he was quiet, sitting with this ankles crossed watching the game. He did get a technical foul in the second half.

As for the Ballers’ defense, I’ll say this: they rebounded and went after loose balls with great abandon— they trapped the ball a lot but other than that, SC Supreme got a lot of layups.

7) Underrated weird event of the evening: Guy who was coaching the SC Supreme team was roaming the sidelines while holding his young son (looked about 2 years old) with his left arm the entire first half. Kid looked like he was asleep with his head on his dad’s left shoulder.

6) I saw four games Wednesday; best of the four was Compton Magic beating Iowa Barnstormers 73-62; Compton shot 69% from the floor in the second half, pulling away late after blowing a double-digit lead earlier in the game.

5) So these end-of-summer national AAU events are fun to watch; talented kids from all over the country playing each other and trying to earn college scholarships. Good stuff.

Elsewhere in the world……..
4) Michael Vick wants to become a football coach, is an intern for the KC Chiefs this summer. Plaxico Burress is a coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals.

3) If you’ve seen the TV show Billions on Showtime, the guy who plays pizzeria owner Bruno was a decorated police officer in real life, a “gold-star” officer, so that is pretty cool.

2) The A’s have to demote closer Santiago Casilla; he is awful. Oakland led 2-0 in 9th inning last night, Casilla faced three batters, all of whom scored. I’m grateful I wasn’t around a TV to see it.

1) Trailblazers saved $60M in salary/luxury tax by trading Allen Crabbe to the Nets.

Thursday’s List of 13: Happy Armadillo Day, everyone!!!!

13) Happy Armadillo Day everyone!!! 16 years ago today, I started this site and hoped that someone, anyone would read it and not hate it. Actually, even if they hated it I hoped they would still read it.

9/11 happened three months later and I hardly wrote for a week- there wasn’t anything to say.

Now it is 2017 and here we are. I have opinions, you have opinions; it is extremely important that while we disagree, maybe even vehemently disagree, we have to respect each other’s opinions and go on with our lives. It is what living in a free country is all about.

12) Golden State winning the NBA title means Bills’ RB LeSean McCoy cashed his $200,000 bet on the Warriors, recording a profit of $62,500. He made the bet at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, right next to where they sell the biggest pizza slices on earth (really, really good pizza).

11) Speaking of the Warriors, Stephen Curry is an unrestricted free agent- how would you like to be HIS agent right now? He is in line for a 5-year, $205M deal— $41M a year!!!!

So if that happens, and his agent gets 3% of the deal, that is $1.23M a year for the agent, just for representing Curry. He should hire his parents as his agent.

10) Red Sox are in Philly for a couple of days, which has to be strange for Boston 1B coach Ruben Amaro Jr; he was the Phillies’ GM for seven years before they fired him and he went back on the field as a Red Sox coach.

9) Anthony Rizzo has batted leadoff the last two nights; he hit first-inning homers in both games. I like batting my best hitters high in the order. Miami has done well since they moved Giancarlo Stanton to the #2 spot.

8) Latin-born players make up 26.4% of major league rosters.

7) Michigan Wolverines had spring football practice in Italy; I’m not sure why, but they did and the trip cost around $800,000— the tab was picked up by an anonymous donor, so the school didn’t pay a nickel for it.

6) San Diego Padres’ pitcher Clayton Richard, a former backup QB at Michigan, threw 127 pitches Tuesday night, but came up an out short of the complete game in San Diego’s 6-2 win over the Reds. 127 pitches are the most anyone has thrown in the majors this season.

5) The Stanley Cup was at the Pirates’ game Tuesday and not just in the press box; the Cup made its way all around the stadium, with groups of fans getting their pictures taken with it.

I have a picture of myself with the Stanley Cup in my living room, from when the Devils won the Cup (they had a farm team in Albany at the time, so the Cup came here for a night). Very cool.

4) UConn-Villanova are starting a home/home basketball series in January, renewing their rivalry from the Big East days. Since it is on a Saturday, must mean it is a made-for-TV deal.

3) Oregon’s coaches are getting lot of kudos on social media from basketball people praising how well Oregon players are doing during NBA workouts.

Stuff like this is great for the Ducks’ recruiting; Dana Altman is a great coach and he will get his guys ready for pro basketball. Hearing that from NBA types has to impress high school kids.

2) Back when I was a kid, in the 70’s, the non-waiver trading deadline was June 15 (it is July 31 now). June 15, 1976 was not one of my favorite days……..

I became an A’s fan when I was five years old— 1965- they were awful, but they got better and became one of the best teams ever, winning world titles in 1972, 73, 74.

They won the AL West in ’75 but lost in the playoffs; free agency was becoming a thing, and the A’s didn’t draw anyone at all at home, way worse than now, so they couldn’t afford to keep their stars. Owner Charles O Finley decided to sell some guys off.

On June 15, 1976, the A’s traded Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue, dismantling the team. The trades were later disallowed by the commissioner- the players stayed in limbo for a week, but those A’s teams were never the same again.

1) Anyway, I was 16 at the time and I loved playing basketball; my parents bought me this great pair of Puma low-cut sneakers— the Walt Frazier model. I would play in those sneakers, then change out of them and walk home in different sneakers, thats how much I liked them.

So I’m walking down the street and my dad is sitting in a chair under the tree on the front lawn- he is smiling as he looks at me- something is up.

He tells me the trades have been made, that my team was being dismantled. I’m hot, tired and now not happy; I take my prized sneakers and throw them over the house, one at a time— very lucky they didn’t land on the roof.

Not my finest moment…….lol

Anyway, today should be better than that day was.

Happy Armadillo Day!!!!