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!!!!

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.