Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings…….

13) OK, I’m asking for your input here— e-mail me at ffib13@gmail.com

Who, in your opinion, is the greatest Los Angeles Laker ever?

Kareem, Magic, Wilt, Kobe, Jerry West, Shaq, Happy Hairston, Nick Young?

Let me know what you think.

12) Why are the Baltimore Ravens rolling right now? In their last five games, Ravens have been playing on a shorter field, winning field position by 17-13-14-5-17 yards. Thats a combination of defense/special teams. John Harbaugh was a special teams coach before he was a head coach.

11) Arizona Cardinals didn’t score a touchdown in their last two games, are switching to Drew Stanton at QB this week for their home game against the Giants.

10) Last June, Golden State Warriors sent $3.5M to the Chicago Bulls for the 38th pick in the draft and then took Jordan Bell from Oregon.

Bell is playing 12.3 mpg for the powerhouse Warriors; he couldn’t have helped the 9-20 Bulls?

9) Stephen Curry’s father Dell played 16 years in the NBA for five teams, scored 12,670 points; he made 40.2% of 3-pointers in his career. Why did he go to Davidson? Why didn’t Dell’s alma mater, Virginia Tech, offer him a scholarship?

8) ESPN President John Skipper resigned Monday, citing a substance addiction problem. Guy in that job had to be making a freakin’ fortune; I hope he exorcises whatever demons he has.

ESPN fired a lot of people recently; couple of them weren’t very happy on Twitter Monday night, unhappy that they got fired by a guy who apparently was often drunk/stoned on the job.

7) Packers put Aaron Rodgers on IR, so he is done for the last two games. Probably a smart move, to avoid risking Rodgers getting re-injured in meaningless games the next two weeks.

6) NHL’s Islanders are moving from Brooklyn back to Long Island, to a new arena that will be built around Belmont Park. Barclays Center doesn’t have great sight lines for hockey, so this is a good move for Islander fans.

5) There won’t be any baseball moves announced next week; MLB offices are closed between Christmas and New Year’s, so while stuff may actually happen, it won’t get officially announced.

4) So far this season. Chicago, Minnesota, Las Vegas are your NHL attendance leaders.

3) If your fantasy football team is still alive in the playoffs and you need a WR to replace an injured guy, try Kendall Wright of the Bears.

In his last two games, Wright was targeted 24 times, caught 17 balls for 188 yards.

2) Kudos to Chick-fil-A, the fast food giant that is never open on Sundays.

When the Atlanta airport got shut down by a power outage Sunday, people from Chick-fil-A went in to the airport and GAVE OUT FREE FOOD to people stranded in the airport.

Good for them.

1) Can you imagine the personal injury lawyers busting their butts to get to Tacoma Monday in wake of the horrible train accident there? Hundreds of injured people just waiting for a lawyer to hand them his card, so they can sue Amtrak and everyone else within sight.

As Lloyd of Lubbock said on the The Odd Couple, “Shake my hand. You’re insured.”

Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) In the great TV show Billions, hedge fund trader Bobby Axelrod, who is really rich, likes to say, “Whats the point of having (bleep) you money if you never say (bleep) you?”

Boosters at the U of Oregon must have bleep-you money, since they just gave Jim Leavitt $1.7M a year to stay at Oregon, to be the Ducks’ defensive coordinator. $1.7M a year for a guy who isn’t the head coach!!!! Why?

Apparently the boosters were more than a little annoyed that former coach Willie Taggart took a job interview at Florida State while using a Oregon’s booster’s private plane on a recruiting trip, so they overpaid Leavitt to keep him from joining Taggart at FSU. Spite can be expensive.

12) Atlanta’s airport is the biggest one in the country and it was shut down Sunday after a fire in an electrical box. 1,200 flights were canceled Sunday. Imagine the chaos? Monday morning the airport was jammed with travelers who were still stuck there, and the electronic boarding pass system wasn’t working, multiplying the backlog of customers.

11) Baseball agent Scott Boras still has 13 unsigned free agents for next season; when does this guy sleep?

10) Phillies gave 1B Carlos Santana $60M for three years, which moves Rhys Hoskins to LF, but also creates a logjam at the other two OF positions. Nick Williams figures to play in center, but will Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr play right? Or will they make another trade?

9) Some people are comparing Oklahoma freshman Trae Young to Steph Curry, which is really unfair. Curry was mostly under the radar until he led Davidson to the Elite 8 as a sophomore, and his dad played in the NBA.

Young is a terrific player, but let him be a kid and progress at his own rate.

8) Illinois State 101, Ole Miss 97 OT— Last spring, ISU coach Dan Muller posted a sarcastic note on Twitter, essentially daring Power 5 teams to schedule his Redbirds. Ole Miss took him up on it, and I wonder now if Andy Kennedy regrets it.

Ole Miss lost four of its last five games, with three of the losses in OT. Rebels just got some new facilities couple years ago; the boosters who paid for those facilities probably ain’t real happy with the losing.

7) Herm Edwards is the new football coach at Arizona State; ASU fired Todd Graham, the last head coach but kept both coordinators, but since Edwards got hired, both coordinators already quit. One took a head coaching job at UL-Lafayette; the other one left for health reasons.

6) Billy Joel has had 46 concerts in Madison Square Garden, the most of any performer.

5) NFL coaches must get sick of talking to the media; I mean, how many times can you say the same thing? It is part of why they make a ton of money; they’re the voice of the franchise, talking to all their fans, but for a coach on a losing team whose job may be on thin ice, it can’t be a lot of fun.

Bill Belichick is so boring in his pressers- he just fulfills his obligations and moves on, but players need to look at that and imitate it— keep them from getting fined by the league.

4) Purdue basketball coach Matt Painter once worked as a fork lift operator, before he began his coaching career. Painter also appeared in the 1994 movie Blue Chips; lot of college basketball players back then were in the movie, playing ball in the game scenes.

3) Why did the Lakers retire two numbers for Kobe Bryant?, So they can keep selling two of his t-shirts in their gift shop? I know he wore both 8 and 24; pick one of them and retire it.

2) Fort Wayne 92, Indiana 72— Mastodons made 17-30 3-pointers, beat Indiana for second year in a row; their coach Jon Coffman makes $135,000 a year. Indiana coach Archie Miller makes $2M a year.

1) Falcons 24, Buccaneers 21— Atlanta is 9-5 and controls its own destiny in NFC South; they play Saints, Panthers to finish season.

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.

Wednesday’s List of 13: A quick scan thru the bowl schedule…….

A quick scan thru the bowl schedule……..

13) UCF is getting ten points from Auburn in the Peach Bowl, the same stadium where Auburn just lost the SEC title game. Auburn’s coach just signed a $49M contract to stay on the Plains.

Central Florida is 12-0; two years ago, they were 0-12. Great season, but then their coach took the Nebraska job about 45 seconds after they won the AAC title game. Scott Frost and his staff will still coach their bowl game, but only because he needs the three hours of national TV exposure to remind people he is now the highly-paid coach of Nebraska.

12) Iowa State-Memphis is a good bowl between two upstart teams who had excellent seasons, and surprise!!!— neither coach has bolted yet.

Matt Campbell actually re-upped with the Cyclones, though contracts don’t always mean that much in today’s world. Mike Norvell is in his second year at Memphis; he could still wind up being a candidate at Tennessee, since just about everyone else already has been, but he also signed a contract extension this week to stay at Memphis.

11) Florida State is -15 over Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport; they’re hiring Willie Taggart as coach, but likely he won’t coach the bowl game. Now Derwin James, FSU’s best defensive player, has declared for the NFL Draft and is skipping the bowl game. Lay 15 points here at your own risk.

10) Holiday Bowl has long been the bowl with a tradition of wild, high-scoring games, so fitting that Mike Leach coaches there. Washington State-Michigan State is quite a contrast as far as coaches’ personality, with the offbeat Leach and the gruff Mark D’Antonio matching wits.

When he was at Texas Tech, Leach won ’04 Holiday Bowl 45-31 as an 11-point dog over Cal.

9) Normally, UAB-Ohio U wouldn’t catch my attention, but what a job UAB coach Bill Clark has done. UAB dropped football- they didn’t field a team the last two years, but due to outcry from alumni, they brought the team back this year and now they’re bowling in the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, while Nebraska fired their coach and hired Scott Frost, one of their old coaches, Frank Solich, has gone 88-67 at Ohio U— he went 58-19 as Nebraska’s coach but that wasn’t good enough. Bobcats are only 2-6 in bowls under Solich.

8) Kansas State-UCLA could be Bill Snyder’s last game as coach at K-State. Snyder is 78 and had a cancer scare last year— the job he’s done at K-State (209-110-1) is impossible to overstate.

Before he got to the Little Apple (K-State is in Manhattan, KS), the Wildcats were a joke, going 26-82-3 the previous 11 seasons— they were the welcome mat of college football. Snyder fixed all that, made them respectable, won a lot of games. Their stadium has been named after him for over a decade now.

7) There is a bowl called the “Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl”; it is played in Houston. Problem is, the Sports & Outdoor Bowl is in a domed stadium, where the Texans play.

Missouri-Texas are playing in the indoor Outdoors Bowl; Mizzou started this season 1-5 but won its last six games. Tigers fired their defensive coordinator during the 1-5 start; their OC just left for another opportunity, which could complicate their bowl preparation.

6) Fresno State went 10-28 the last three years, so they hired former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who was Aaron Rodgers’ college coach. Fresno is 9-4 this season; they get their second trip to Hawai’i in two months when they play Houston in the Hawai’i Bowl on Christmas Eve, after a full day of NFL games. There is no NFL game that night, so hopefully this will be a fun game.

5) New Mexico State is in a bowl game for the first time since 1960— good for them!!! Aggies are playing Utah State (also the Aggies) in the Arizona Bowl in Tucson.

New Mexico State was 11-49 the last five years; great year for coach Doug Martin.

4) SMU won’t have to go too far for their bowl game; Mustangs are playing Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl, being played in a 20,000-seat soccer stadium, which is roughly 25 miles from the SMU campus.

Louisiana Tech won its last three bowls, scoring 35-47-48 points. SMU is in its first bowl in five years.

3) Since 1999, Utah is 13-1 in bowl games, 9-1 under Kyle Whittingham. Utes lost six of their last eight games this year after a 4-0 start- they head to Dallas to play West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, played in the old Cotton Bowl stadium.

2) Boise State won six of its last eight bowl games, winning the Las Vegas Bowl three years in a row, from 2010-12; Broncos are back in Vegas this year, playing an Oregon team whose coach just jumped ship after one year, for the greener pa$ture$ of Florida $tate. Ducks lost the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl, 38-8 to BYU.

1) Marshall vs Colorado State in a bowl game in Albuquerque is a little weird; Thundering Herd won its last five bowl games- their last bowl loss was in 2004. Colorado State won 27-24 on this field October 20. Do kids get excited about going to a bowl in Albuquerque?

1a) Which raises the question I raise every year; what is the worst bowl game to go to?
— Pinstripe Bowl, played in the Bronx, where it is almost always damned cold.
— Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, where it often snows.
— Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit can’t be that much fun, but at least the game is indoors.
— Playing Navy in Annapolis probably isn’t that great a trip.

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.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a summer weekend…….

13) I get annoyed when people tell me that they cannot write. ANYONE CAN WRITE!!! If you can talk, you can write. Take a recorder, turn it on and tell stories into it. Then replay what you said, transcribe it into a Word document and voila!!! You have written!!!

Good Lord, if you read this every day, you must know that any damn fool can write his own website. If I can do it, sure as shootin’ you can do it, too.

12) Does Kyrie Irving know that Gregg Popovich will be 69 years old in January, and probably won’t coach much longer? As soon as Pop leaves the Alamo, the Spurs are going to take a big dip. Mr Irving might want to keep that in mind before he jumps overboard from Team Lebron.

11) Do you think Saturday Night Live should offer Sean Spicer a guest hosting spot? Imagine if he went on the show and was really funny? He’d become a hero to the working class.

10) When games at AT&T Park in San Francisco run long and seagulls threaten to overrun the outfield, looking for food, they play “Everybody clap your hands!!!” over the PA system to chase the seagulls away. Odd thing to see. It works. For a few minutes.

9) My friend John e-mailed to remind me that the Cincinnati Airport is actually in Kentucky, which is weird. Kentucky is just over the bridge from Ohio. Cincinnati Bearcats will be playing home games in Northern Kentucky U’s gym this winter; their gym is being refurbished.

8) Weird Al Yankovic went to college at Cal-Poly; in 1979, he recorded “My Bologna” in a campus restroom. The school has put up a plaque commemorating the song on a wall outside the restroom.

7) LaVar Ball got mad at a ref at an AAU game Saturday and pulled his team off the floor, forfeiting the game. Problem is, HIS TEAM LED 69-60 when he forfeited the game.

Not sure where to start with this, but:
a) He probably cost his team a win, and valuable playing time where recruiters can watch them play. Why?
b) What exactly is he teaching the kids who play for him?
c) Does he do outrageous things just to stay in the news?
d) Do the parents of the kids on his team call him out on this behavior?

6) Red flag for the Astros: in Lance McCullers’ last three starts, he’s failed to finish the 5th inning in any of them, allowing 24 hits, 17 runs in 13.2 innings. Houston needs to add at least one starting pitcher by the trade deadline.

5) When Astros’ rookie Colin Moran fouled a ball off his face Saturday night, he broke a bone under his left eye and is now on the DL. Freak accident, and a painful one.

4) Wink Martindale posted this fact on Twitter Saturday: “A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up & down continuously from the bottom of glass to the top”

Who discovered that this is true? I mean, you have a glass of champagne sitting there, and then some wiseguy with a raisin throws it in there and everyone watches?

3) Clayton Kershaw tweaked his lower back, was taken out after the second inning Sunday. Dodgers were -$400 in Las Vegas.

Important lesson here: “There is no such thing as a sure thing, thats why they call it….gambling.” Do you want to be laying -$400 with Ross Stripling on the hill? You do not.

Dodgers won in 10 innings anyway, but laying -$400 on a baseball game is a very bad idea.

2) I’m discouraged by how the A’s are playing (44-54), but how about 44-54 Toronto, with a payroll of $163,381,937? Oakland’s payroll is $81,738,333, which is no excuse for how dismal a team they have, but the Blue Jays are just plain awful.

1) Random fact: If John McCain were uninsured, his blood clot surgery could have cost $76,000. Good thing for him politicians have way better medical coverage than most Americans.

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!!!!

Sunday Extra: Trying not to get aggravated…….

I tried not to get aggravated Saturday when the A’s lost 3-2 in the Bronx; the home plate ump tossed Jed Lowrie, tossed Bob Melvin. Let’s put it this way; a friend of mine who is a New York fan texted me during the game to tell me how bad home plate umpire Will Little is.

Late Saturday night, got an e-mail from another friend, asking what I thought of Little’s performance Saturday. So I went to my umpire records and looked up how New York has done with Little behind the plate the last three years. Here are the facts from 2015-17:

2015
Bronx W5-2 @ Baltimore +$123 U9
Bronx W3-1 @ Seattle -$115 U7

2016
Bronx W6-3 vs Tampa Bay +$103 O8
Bronx W7-3 vs Kansas City -$130 O8

2017
Bronx W3-2 vs St Louis +$123, U8
Bronx W3-2 vs Oakland -$145, U9.5

Not going to say another bleeping word except this: if you were a big league manager, would you want Will Little umping the plate in a road game in the Bronx?

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday……

13) The last four times umpire Alan Porter worked home plate, there have been a total of 41 walks (11-11-11-10); this is only the second such streak in 2016-17 in the major leagues- David Rackley had a 4-game streak with 10+ walks LY, but three of his four games went extra innings, including a 13-inning and a 17-inning game. None of Porter’s games went extra frames.

If you care about such things, over is 5-1-1 in Porter’s last seven games behind the plate.

12) Aaron Rodgers gave his offensive linemen $20,000 ATV’s for presents this week; have to take care of the people who protect you.

11) This is the first time ever the Colorado Rockies have had both a winning April and a winning May to start the season.

10) Marlins were down 2-1 in bottom of 5th, had bases loaded and Giancarlo Stanton up, so of course, Dee Gordon gets picked off first by the catcher to end the inning. Do we have a metric for stupidity? Can the numbers guys quantify how deflating something like this is? I didn’t think so……

9) Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood hasn’t allowed a run in his last 25.2 IP; in his last six starts, he is 5-0 with a 1.31 RA. Pretty important guy for a team whose pitchers have been injury-plagued.

8) On July 2, 2013, Jake Arrieta was traded by the Orioles with Pedro Strop and cash to the Cubs for Steve Clevinger and Scott Feldman. Looking back on the trade, it was a huge blunder by the Orioles.

But Arrieta’s career turned around after the trade, when he saw a Pilates studio while walking around Chicago with his wife; he got into a class, he got himself into much better shape and his career took off from there.

About 10-12 years ago, I actually tried Pilates for a couple of weeks (stop laughing); it was really, really hard and I quit (it was hard and I am soft). Sitting on the couch is way more fun.

7) Toronto Blue Jays got Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson back from injuries this weekend; would expect them to go on a roll soon.

6) I have an odd fascination with actors’ resumes, and the roles they’ve played.

Finally saw the Tom Hanks movie about the pilot Sully who landed a commercial airliner in the Hudson River, with no fatalities; his co-pilot in the movie is the same guy who was Al Pacino’s offensive coordinator in Any Given Sunday.

Aaron Eckhart is the guy; very good actor. He also played Texas Longhorns’ coaching legend Darrell Royal in a movie about the Longhorns.

5) A junior high teacher in Houston gave out certificates to students, included one given to a student that said “Most likely to become a terrorist.” Apparently, the teacher wasn’t kidding.

What would inspire someone to actually do that? Do they want to get fired? If you don’t like your students, fine; just keep it to yourself.

4) Found a new bad TV show to watch late at night; Second Wives’ Club, on E! about these young women who married rich, older men who had all been married at least once before. Not sure why I enjoy watching it, but the people in it are so repulsive it is hard to turn it off.

3) White Sox 3, Tigers 1— Chicago pitchers walked nine, struck out 15 as Tyler Danish won his first major league start. Very unusual for a team to walk 9+ guys in a game and win, much less toss a shutout. Detroit left 12 men on base, in the first game of a twinbill.

Detroit’s Michael Fulmer threw 96 pitches in his 8-inning complete game. White Sox pitchers threw a total of 185 pitches in nine innings. Weird game.

2) Red Sox 6, Mariners 0— Seattle lost six of last seven games; they’re 1-7 in last eight road tilts. In their first two games at Fenway this weekend, Mariners didn’t scored a run.

1) RIP to Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning 85, who pitched 17 years in the big leagues, tossed a perfect game, and later served 24 years in Congress. Thats a full life. RIP, sir.

Monday’s List of 13: Coaches in movies I’ve enjoyed watching

This isn’t a ranking, just a numbered list of coaches in TV/movies that I’ve seen………

13) Ken Howard, The White Shadow— One of my all-time favorite TV shows, Ken Howard did a great job of portraying Coach Reeves, a former NBA player who becomes a high school coach in Los Angeles. He patterned Coach Reeves after his HS coach; Carver High’s uniforms are even the same colors of the school he went to, Manhasset HS on Long Island.

12) Gene Hackman, Hoosiers— He wins the state title and gets the girl (Barbara Hershey) in the end, but for the love of God, why didn’t he know enough to give Jimmy Chitwood the ball at the end of games? Even the drunk assistant coach (Dennis Hopper) knew enough to get Jimmy the ball.

11) Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday— Most people remember the “Life is a Game of Inches” speech before the last game, but what he said to Jamie Foxx at the dinner in his house earlier in the movie “You’re a goddamn QUARTERBACK!!!!” was the better speech, to me. This movie was made in 1999, but the divide between old-school thinking and modern analytics is in play, even back then.

10) Emilio Estevez, The Mighty Ducks— Mostly a goofy movie, but the underlying theme of a former star player coaching against the guy who coached him was interesting. Having players play catch at practice with raw eggs instead of hockey pucks was a curious coaching technique.

9) GD Spradlin, One on One— This is an underrated movie and also fairly old now, but Robby Benson was a hot-shot high school basketball star who was mostly in over his head when he went to play college ball at a bigtime school. This movie was filmed at Colorado State, which still plays in the same arena. Coach Smith was played by GD Spradlin, who also played Tom Landry in North Dallas Forty; if he such a great coach, why did he recruit Henry Steele (Benson), a flashy, small guard who couldn’t guard anyone?

8) Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own— Hanks was a great player who is now a crude drunk who wasn’t healthy enough to be in the service during the war, so he coaches a girls’ baseball team with Madonna and Geena Davis on it. A guy could do worse. When Hanks was a kid (in real life), he was a vendor at the Oakland Coliseum; this was a pretty good movie, but my friend Dennis kills me every time I say that.

7) Wilford Brimley, The Natural— Pop Fisher is manager of the New York Knights; all he does is complain about bad his team is, but when Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) shows up to play for the Knights, he won’t give him a chance to play, until Hobbs puts on a prodigious display in batting practice. This movie was filmed in Buffalo, in the stadium where the Bills played before Rich Stadium was built.

6) Jon Voight, Varsity Blues— Whoever made this movie had a high school coach they really hated; lot of unrealistic behavior by Voight’s character, the legendary football coach Bud Kilmer. He berates players, doesn’t give his best running back the ball near the goal line (the kid cites racist motives for that) and just seems like a miserable human. Eventually the players quit on him, but not before going to a strip club for an all-nighter on the night before a game, like that would ever happen.

5) JK Simmons, For the Love of the Game— Simmons is manager of the Detroit Tigers whose best pitcher is fading star Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner). Simmons is a Tiger fan in real life– he played the part well. Simmons is a great actor who plays a music teacher in the disturbing movie Whiplash– he pushes his students unmercifully, trying to get them to reach their potential.

4) Nick Nolte, Blue Chips— Nolte spent lot of time around Bob Knight’s Indiana teams prepping for this role, so you see lot of Knight’s antics, and the climactic game for Western U is against the Hoosiers (in scenes filmed in a high school gym in Indiana). Nolte gets the role down well; he coaches against Rick Pitino, Knight and George Raveling in games, recruits against Jerry Tarkanian and Jim Boeheim.

3) James Gammon, Major League— Mr Gammon passed away seven years ago; he had such a great voice that one of the truck companies still uses his voice for their commercials. He plays Lou Brown, manager of the Cleveland Indians, who leads a rag-tag bunch of players to the AL pennant. He later wound up as Don Johnson’s father in the TV series Nash Bridges.

2) Gabe Kaplan, Fast Break— I love this movie. Kaplan is the manager of a New York City deli who takes a chance and becomes the coach at obscure college in Nevada; he doesn’t get a big contract ($60 for every win) until he beats Nevada State– he has to beat the Nevada State coach in pool just to get them on their schedule. Cadwallader University– Bernard King was one of his players, another player turned out to be a girl. This movie should be on TV somewhere (NBA Network?) every now and then.

1) Billy Bob Thornton, Friday Night Lights— I think this is the best representation of a coach I’ve ever seen on TV or in the movies. The movie is from a book that is based on a true story about Permian HS in west Texas, where high school football is a religion. Thornton has the coach thing down pat; his speeches before a game and at halftime are realistic and not over-the-top. Tremendous acting job.