Thursday’s Den: Our first look at the 2022 college football season

13) Before I post my first college football notes for the 2022 season, I added a piece to the daily baseball page: bullpen usage for the last three days, for every team.

With rosters now restricted to 13 pitchers, bullpens are going to be more taxed; we might see more position players pitching now. Teams can only use a position player as a pitcher if they trail by 6+ runs. 

12) There are 42 bowl games this season, plus the national championship game, which is in Los Angeles, at SoFi Stadium. 

11) College coaching can be lucrative; the offensive coordinator at Auburn makes $800,000 a year, the defensive coordinator $1M a year. The head coach makes $5.1M a year.

10) Clemson lost both its coordinators from last year; Brent Venables was the DC for the last ten years, Tony Elliott the OC for the last seven years. Big shoes to fill for a team that went 10-3 LY; at Clemson these days, 10-3 is a disappointment.

9) How will the Pac-12 do this season? Over the last eight years, only 2 of the 32 teams in the college football playoff have been from the Pac-12.

With Lincoln Riley jumping from Oklahoma to USC, big things are expected from the Trojans, but they were 4-8 last year, giving up 38 ppg during their season-ending 4-game losing skid. 

8) Texas went 5-7 in Steve Sarkisian’s first year in Austin, giving up 36.1 ppg over their last seven games. Longhorns lost three games that they led by double digits in the third quarter. Bringing in former TCU coach Gary Patterson as an assistant should help things some. 

7) Brian Kelly jumped from Notre Dame to LSU; he is 284-97-2 as a head coach. LSU is 11-12 the last two seasons, after their 15-0 season when Joe Burrow led them to a national title. Burrow is in Cincinnati now; LSU had only 39 scholarship players when they lost 42-20 to Kansas State
in their bowl game last January.

LSU had a lot of roster turnover; even their kicker left early for the pros. 

6) Kelly is one of 29 new head coaches in college football this season; there were 18 last year. 

5) After a 1-4 start, Western Kentucky won seven of its last eight games, scoring 41+ points seven times. WKU led the country last year, with 85 plays of 20+ yards, but the QB is gone and the offensive coordinator also left. Hilltoppers have a new defensive coordinator for the third year in a row. 

4) Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders is entering his fourth season as the Cowboys’ starter; OSU went 12-2 last year, with their losses by 24-21/21-16 scores. Cowboys gave up 509 passing yards in their 37-35 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.

3) Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker threw for 31 TD’s, only 3 INTs last year, but the Vols were only 7-6 in Josh Heupel’s first season as coach, giving up 31+ points in all six losses. Tennessee gave up 500+ yards in five games last year. 

Opponents converted 42.1% of their third down plays last year; for Tennessee’s defense to make a leap and for the Vols to be better than 7-6 this year, that number has to go way down. 

2) Nebraska went 1-8 in the Big 14 LY, but all eight losses were by single digit margins; they scored as many points (239) as they gave up in conference games. 

Nebraska has had four consecutive losing seasons, yet Scott Frost is still the coach, despite his 15-29 record; he hit the transfer portal hard, bringing in former Texas QB Casey Thompson to work with his new OC, Mark Whipple.

Nebraska opens the season in Ireland, against Northwestern; they also play Oklahoma before conference play starts. 

1) Former NFL lineman and TV analyst Tony Siragusa died on Wednesday, at age 55; he helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl in 2000, after playing seven years for the Colts. He played 12 years in the NFL, despite being undrafted out of college at Pittsburgh.

He was very good as a TV analyst, often working from field level; he even tried his hand at acting— he was on The Sopranos. RIP, sir. 

Wednesday’s Den: Turning points to think about…….

There are turning points in all walks of life; if this hadn’t have happened, then that wouldn’t have followed. The flowchart of life takes some interesting turns. Here are some memorable turning points that I remember:

13) In 1965, Richard Nixon was offered a $100,000 salary and an unlimited expense account to become commissioner of baseball. He turned it down: “Don’t tell Pat. She’d kill me for turning you down.” Pat was Mrs Nixon. 

The history of our country would be vastly different had he accepted the job. 

12) 1984 NBA Draft; Houston Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick; that turned out very well. Houston won a couple of NBA titles.

Portland then took Sam Bowie with the #2 pick; he played 10 years in the NBA, but started only 349 games, scoring 10.9 ppg.

History of the NBA would be a little different if Portland had chosen the guy the Bulls took with the #3 pick that year— Michael Jordan. 

11) In 2006, Nick Saban was coaching the Miami Dolphins; they went 9-7 in his first season, but were looking for a QB to upgrade from Gus Frerotte. There was a free agent QB who had played for the Chargers, going 30-28 as San Diego’s starter. QB was well-regarded, but he tore his labrum in his shoulder in 2005, and the Chargers had a young Philip Rivers, so they moved on to the younger QB.

Miami’s team physician recommended passing on the free agent QB, so they signed Daunte Culpepper instead. Culpepper played four games for the Dolphins.

Imagine how football would be different had the Dolphins signed Drew Brees:
a) Saints might’ve never won a Super Bowl.
b) Saban would probably still be coaching the Dolphins and never would’ve gone to Alabama, where he became, arguably, the best coach in college football history. 

10) Robert Irsay bought the Los Angeles Rams on July 13, 1972; he then immediately traded the franchise to Carroll Rosenbloom, who was the owner of the Baltimore Colts. Rosenbloom made the deal in part because he saved $4.4M in taxes.

— 11 years later, Irsay moved the Colts to Indianapolis, right after he drafted John Elway and traded him to Denver.
— Irsay’s son Jim now owns the Colts; he is a much better owner than his dad was.
— In 1979, Rosenbloom died in a swimming accident; his wife Georgia inherited the team, and in 1995, moved the Rams to her hometown of St Louis.
— After Georgia Frontiere died (Rosenbloom was her 6th husband, Dominic Frontiere her 7th) Stan Kroenke bought her 70% of the team and moved the team back to Los Angeles.
— As of 2019, according to Forbes Magazine, the Rams were worth $3.8B, the Colts #2.65B. After last season, Rams might be worth more now.

9) Dell Curry played 16 years in the NBA, scoring 12,670 points; he played his college ball at Virginia Tech,  not a traditional hoop power.

Curry’s two sons were pretty good high school players, but Virginia Tech didn’t recruit either one of them. Bad move. 

Seth Curry started at Liberty, then transferred to Duke; he’s scored 11.3 ppg in his eight years in the NBA.

Steph Curry played college ball at Davidson; they made the Elite 8 in 2008, while Virginia Tech made the NCAA Tournament once in Seth Greenberg’s nine years as the Hokies’ coach.

Greenberg does a very good job as ESPN’s studio analyst, but had he recruited Steph Curry, he might still be coaching Virginia Tech.

Steph Curry, obviously, is an all-time great in the NBA, one of only seven players ever to win 4+ championships and 2+ MVP awards. 

8) Speaking of Steph Curry, he was the 7th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Smart move. Golden State has won four championships in the Curry/Klay Thompson era. Warriors are 101-54 in playoff games, since they drafted Curry.

Minnesota Timberwolves had the 5th and 6th picks that season; they needed guards but took Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn instead of Curry. Bad move.

In 13 years since then, Minnesota has made the playoffs twice, going 3-8 in playoff games. 

7) In the fall of 1979, Jack McKinney was coach of the Los Angeles Lakers; they had a rookie point guard named Earvin Johnson, and were off to a 10-4 start. On an off day, McKinney went out for a bike ride but had an accident and had a brain injury. He never coached the Lakers again, though he did coach the Pacers/Kings down the road.

Paul Westhead took over from McKinney; Lakers won the NBA title that year, but two years later, he had a falling out with Earvin Johnson and the Lakers fired him, after a 7-4 start.

The new coach was Pat Riley, who prior to McKinney’s bike accident, was the color analyst on Lakers’ radio broadcasts. Riley turned out to be one of the best coaches in NBA history (he won five NBA titles) and is still running the Miami Heat franchise, but the fact is, had McKinney’s bike accident never happened, Riley may have never gotten his chance to be a coach. 

6) August 12, 1987, the Detroit Tigers acquired P Doyle Alexander from the Atlanta Braves, trading away a minor league pitcher. Guy named Smoltz.

Detroit went 98-64 in 1987, winning the AL East; they lost the ALCS to Minnesota, but this was only the second time Detroit had made the playoffs in 15 years. They didn’t make the playoffs again until 2006.

Meanwhile, John Smoltz went on to a Hall of Fame career, winning 213 games and saving 154 others; dealing Alexander in 1987, when Atlanta went 69-92, helped the Braves make the playoffs 14 times in 15 years, starting in 1991.

5) Dodgers bolted Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season; they needed a second team to move to the west coast, to make travel feasible for the other six teams in the National League. Move has obviously turned out to be a great one for the Dodgers.

At the time Dodgers/Giants/Bronx were all in New York City; the Giants were doing the worst of the three on the field, and attendance at the Polo Grounds wasn’t good, so they agreed to move, figuring a move to the Bay Area would be more lucrative then splitting the financial pie with a more successful team in the Bronx.  

Problem is, Candlestick Park wasn’t such a great ballpark; very windy, had to share it with the 49ers. Giants didn’t do their due diligence on Candlestick Point, and wound up, for 40 or so years, with a sub-standard stadium.

Their new stadium is way better and now the Giants have a good deal, but think about it; would you rather own the Giants or the Mets, who came into being in 1962, filling the void left by the two teams bolting to California?

4) When Brett Favre was Green Bay’s quarterback in 1994, his backup was Mark Brunell, who wound getting traded to Jacksonville the next year, the Jaguars’ first season.

Green Bay had another QB in camp in 1994, but they cut him. Guy wound up playing in the Arena League for three years, then in NFL Europe, before signing with the Rams in 1998. Now he is in the Hall of Fame— Kurt Warner.

Had Green Bay kept Warner instead of Brunell, they might mot have made a movie about him.

3) Baseball’s 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati went 12 innings; National League won 5-4 when Pete Rose bowled over catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run, even though Fosse didn’t have the ball yet.

Fosse suffered a separated shoulder and wasn’t the same player after that. Cleveland traded him to the A’s two years later. Fosse helped the A’s win two World Series and wound up being a TV analyst for Oakland for 35 years after he retired. 

2) In 2017, Chicago Bears traded up (gave up a 3rd and 4th round pick) to the #2 spot in the NFL Draft, in order to take QB Mitchell Trubisky, who went 29-23 as Chicago’s starter in his four years there. Not a bad record, but the Bears lost both playoff games in the Trubisky era. 

Problem is, Chicago could’ve kept those 3rd/4th round picks and taken Patrick Mahomes, who was the 10th pick that year. NFL would look a lot different had that happened.

Of course, Chicago could’ve also taken Deshaun Watson that year; then they would have a much different kind of mess on their hands. Watson was the 12th pick in that draft. 

1) Tom Brady was the 199th player picked in the 2000 Draft, a 6th-round pick. He became the starter in New England because Drew Bledsoe got hurt in a 2001 game.

Since then, Brady has won seven Super Bowls and is one of the best QB’s ever. Every team in the NFL passed on him multiple times, including the Patriots.

Brady’s record in New England: 249-75
Bill Belichick’s record as a head coach: 321-156
With Brady: 249-75
Without Brady: 72-81

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

I wavered on whether I wanted to do this or not, but here are my top 20 NBA players of all-time. This is obviously open to debate; make your own list, see what you come up with.  

First team:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar— the best player ever
Michael Jordan
Lebron James— 2nd/3rd best players, or 3rd/2nd best players
Bill Russell— won 11 titles in 13 seasons as a player
Earvin Johnson— the best point guard ever.

Next five guys:
Wilt Chamberlain— Averaged 22.9 rebounds/game in his career
Tim Duncan— only 7 guys have won 4+ rings, 2+ MVP’s.
Kobe Bryant
Oscar Robertson
Steph Curry— the best shooter ever. 

Third team:
Larry Bird
Karl Malone
Shaquille O’Neal
David Robinson
Dwyane Wade

Players 16-20:
Hakeem Olajuwon
Jerry West
Kevin Durant
John Stockton
Rick Barry— maybe the most underrated player ever

Again, these are all GREAT players. Also, sometime in the next few days, I’ll realize that I left someone off this list and I’m going to update it, but this is my list, for now. Again, make your own list; lot of great players to choose from. 

— Seattle Mariners have already been shut out ten times this season, not good for a team that was supposed to contend for a playoff spot. Mariners are 29-39, the most disappointing team in the major leagues so far this year. 

— Why do teams shift against the Mets’ Jeff McNeil? He is a slap hitter, and pretty skilled at locking his hips and poking the ball thru the vacant shortstop hole. 

Shifts are way overdone in baseball, part of the reason it’ll be good to see them go next year.

— Brewers 2, Cardinals 0— St Louis is 13-2 against the Reds/Pirates, 25-29 against everyone else. Milwaukee leads NL Central by a game over the Redbirds.

— Four of the eight teams in the College World Series are from the SEC.

Over/unders in the last game of a series:
Arizona under 14-7
Atlanta over 10-9-2
Cubs over 12-8-1
Cincinnati 10-10-1
Colorado over 11-10
Dodgers under 10-9-2
Miami over 13-8
Milwaukee over 12-9
Mets over 11-8-2
Philadelphia over 11-10
Pittsburgh under 13-7-1
St Louis over 13-9
San Diego under 12-9
San Francisco 10-10-1
Washington under 11-8-2

Baltimore 10-10-1
Boston under 11-7-3
White Sox over 12-9
Cleveland under 12-9
Detroit under 11-9-1
Houston under 13-8
Kansas City over 13-8-1
Angels under 13-6-2
Minnesota under 11-10
New York under 12-9
Oakland under 10-9-2
Seattle under 11-10
Tampa Bay under 13-8
Texas 10-10-1
Toronto over 11-10

— Arizona rookie IF Buddy Kennedy hit a grand slam Sunday, for his first major league homer; he hit a 3-0 pitch over the fence. Turns out Kennedy had the take sign but didn’t know it- he thought the count was 2-0. These things get excused when you hit a home run.

— Pirates 12, Cubs 1— Rookie Oneil Cruz, a 6-7 shortstop, knocked in four runs in his major league debut. Pirates have brought up several rookies the last few weeks.

— Royals 6, Angels 2— Halos lost 20 of their last 26 games, are fading fast.

— Lightning 6, Avalanche 2— Home team has won all three games in Stanley Cup finals; Colorado leads 2 game to 1.

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

13) Monday kicks in a new baseball rule; teams will limited to 13 pitchers, instead of 14, which means that 18 teams have to send a pitcher down Monday, and add a position player. 

12) Braves 6, Cubs 0— Kyle Hendricks’ last three starts vs Atlanta: He allowed 20 earned runs in 12 IP. 

11) Pirates 4, Giants 3— Rookie Jack Suwinski hit three home runs, including a walk-off tater in the ninth inning. 

10) Astros 4, White Sox 3— Rookie TJ Matijevic hit his first major league home run (also his first MLB hit) into the Crawford Boxes in left field. The 16-year old fan who got the ball negotiated with a team employee, so that Matijevic could get that baseball. Here is what the fan got:

— Six tickets to a future game.
— Six tickets to a batting batting experience
— A baseball signed by Jose Altuve

The young man also wanted a jersey signed by Justin Verlander; the team spokesman declined that request, but few innings later, the fan got a bag with the signed jersey in it.

It was Matijevic’s first MLB hit; the fan had the Astros over a barrel- he did pretty well, but he could’ve done a lot better had he wanted to.

9) Marlins 6, Mets 2— Rookie RF Jerar Encarnacion is the first player EVER to hit a grand slam and steal a base in his first major league game. He also threw out a runner at 2B from the right field fence— he can really throw.

Sandy Alcantara threw eight strong innings and finally got some run support. 

8) Arizona 7, Minnesota 1— Just like Encarnacion, Buddy Kennedy’s first MLB home run was a grand slam. Kennedy is the grandson of former big leaguer Don Money, who played 16 years in the major leagues, for the Phillies/Brewers. 

Week 10 USFL games:
7) New Jersey 26, Philadelphia 23:
 — These teams meet in USFL playoffs next week.
— New Jersey lost its opener, then won its last nine games.
— Generals ran for 178 yards, threw for 232 more. 

6) Birmingham 21, Tampa Bay 18
— Stallions led 14-0 at halftime, survived four turnovers (minus-3)
— Birmingham outgained Tampa Bay 379-285
— Stallions play New Orleans in playoffs next week, in Ohio. 

5) Michigan 33, Pittsburgh 21
— Michigan’s only two wins this season were against Pittsburgh.
— Panthers scored 27 ppg in their last four games.
— Pittsburgh was outscored 145-58 in first half this season

4) Houston 20, New Orleans 3
— Breakers ran 53 plays for 116 yards; it is possible they mailed this one in.
— New Orleans plays Birmingham in playoffs next week.
— Houston went 3-7; they led nine of ten games at halftime.

3) The last time a golfer lost a major tournament in a playoff, then won the next major? Way back in 1962…….Arnold Palmer. 

2) Colorado 8, San Diego 3— Padres have now lost 10 straight games in Denver; they also lost 3B Manny Machado to a sprained ankle, when he slipped on first base. X-rays were negative; at some point, MLB is going to change the bases (make them flatter?)

1) MLB began enforcing a rule on hand attachments this week; Cincinnati pitcher Graham Ashcraft wasn’t happy when umpires told him to remove his wedding ring from under his glove by umpires during Saturday’s game against Milwaukee. Ashcraft wound up moving his wedding ring to his necklace chain for the rest of the game. 

Sunday’s Den: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) Unusual situation in the NBA, where Golden State assistant coach Kenny Atkinson was expected to be hired as the new head coach in Charlotte; he even called the assistant coaches in Charlotte to set up interviews, but apparently Atkinson changed his mind and is going to stay as an assistant coach with the Warriors.

Atkinson’s last three years:
2019-20— Head coach, Brooklyn
2020-21— assistant with Clippers
2021-22— assistant with Warriors

Apparently Atkinson now believes that both professionally and personally it would be best to stay with the Warriors; winning is also a lot of fun. Golden State probably gave him a nice raise, too. Money never hurts, and moving every year gets old. 

12) Atkinson has a track record of developing point guards, and guards in general; developing young players is what the NBA is all about now, since kids come out of college way too soon these days.

Warriors have a sub, Gary Payton II who averaged 17.6 minutes/game this year, the first time in his six NBA seasons that he became a regular in a team’s rotation. Payton has played for five teams in the G-League for a total of 128 games; under Atkinson’s tutelage, he’s a contributor on a championship team. He also has pretty good genes; his dad was a great player. 

11) By the way, Steve Kerr is just about due to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame; the guy has nine championship rings, five as a role player, four as the Warriors’ coach. In 14 years as an NBA player, Kerr was on five title teams. It is good to know Michael Jordan.

For his career, Kerr made 45.4% of his 3-point shots. He also led Arizona to the 1988 Final Four. 

10) One of the more interesting players in next week’s NBA Draft will be Shaedon Sharpe, who went to Kentucky last year, practiced with the team but never played in a game.

A 6-6 guard, Sharpe talks a good game: “I see myself being one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball, just getting after it and competing” but here’s the thing; no one in the NBA knows how good he is, if he can fit in with a team.

By the time next season starts, he will not have played in a game for 18 or 19 months. Will he even want to play in the NBA Summer League, which is next month in Las Vegas?

Anyway, his story will be interesting to follow Thursday night.

9) Baseball injuries:
— Mets’ P Tyler Megill (shoulder) is shut down for a month
— Angels’ 3B Anthony Rendon (wrist) is done for the season.
— Dodgers’ RF Mookie Betts (cracked ribs) goes on the IL

8) Dodgers, by the way, are 0-5 in extra innings this season; they’re 40-24 and will likely make the playoffs, but they’ve been struggling lately (7-10 in last 17 games). 

7) When baseball has its amateur draft during the All-Stsr break next month, keep in mind that in 1999, the 402nd pick was a pretty good player— Albert Pujols. Not often a 13th round pick is a Hall of Famer, but you never know.

6) Jesse Winker signed a 2-year, $14.5M deal with Seattle this week; he’ll be a free agent after next season. Winker is off to dreadful start with the Mariners, hitting .212. Angels started two lefties in their twin bill Saturday, and Winker didn’t start either game. Not good.

Last year, Winker hit .305 with a .949 OPS for the Reds; moving to a bigger home ballpark has screwed up his approach this year. 

5) My favorite baseball movies:
Moneyball, For Love of the Game, Major League, Bull Durham

4) NFL training camps start next month; there is a very narrow margin between winning and losing for most NFL teams. Think about this: the team that won last year’s Super Bowl went 0-3 in November with a bye week mixed in between. Lot of things have to go your way to win a championship.

3) I signed on with Amazon Prime this week, so I have access to old movies/TV shows and get free shipping on anything I buy from them. Bought a book Thursday and it got delivered in less than 48 hours. They send you an e-mail when it is delivered, with a picture of where they put the envelope. Pretty impressive customer service.

2) Harry the Handicapper checked in this week with a good story; back in 1970, long time ago but not that long ago, Marquette turned down a bid to the NCAA Tournament and decided to play in the NIT instead, which they won.

Al McGuire was Marquette’s coach; he was unique, a total character who later became a great analyst on TV. McGuire wasn’t happy with Marquette’s seeding/placement in the NCAA field, so he said the hell with it and turned the bid down. Seven years later, he won the national title and then retired as coach.

Stuff like that would never, ever happen today; way too much $$$ involved, but the NIT, once upon a time, was a pretty big deal. 

1) Few years ago, I’m driving from Albany to Philadelphia and I stop for gas in New Jersey; I had absolutely no idea that in New Jersey (and Oregon) you’re not allowed to pump your own gas.

So I get out of the car and walk up to the pump and some Asian guy comes running out of the mini-mart and starts yelling at me, before I can start pumping the gas. You learn something every day; I was fine with someone else pumping my gas for me. 

Saturday’s Den: NFL rosters by round drafted, baseball records in close games, and other thoughts

— Davidson basketball coach Bob McKillop retired Friday, after 33 years coaching the Wildcats. McKillop had a career record of 634-380; he led Davidson to the Elite 8 in 2008, with a pretty good guard named Curry playing for him.

Davidson was in the Southern Conference back then; they’re in the Atlantic 14 now. Since that run to the Elite 8 in ’08, SoCon teams are 1-13 SU in the NCAA Tournament.

McKillop’s son Matt is taking over the Davidson job; he’s been an assistant for his dad the last 14 seasons, after playing at Davidson.

— Steph Curry was the 7th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft; Minnesota had the 5th and 6th picks- they took a pair of guards, Ricky Rubio/Jonny Flynn. Whoops.

— From 1957-1986, the Boston Celtics won 16 NBA titles; since 1987, they’ve won one, back in 2008. Celtics/Lakers are tied with 17 NBA championships, with Golden State third with seven. 

— Cubs 1, Braves 0:
Braves came into this weekend on a 14-game win streak, Cubs on a 10-game losing skid; the last time a team on a double-digit losing streak beat a team on a double-digit win streak? Back in September, 1999 when the Phillies beat Houston.

— San Diego Padres entered this weekend in first place, the first time they’ve been in first place in June since 2010.

— Boston College’s football team lost G Christian Mahogany for this season; he tore his right ACL. Mel Kiper had Mahogany listed as the #2 guard prospect in next April’s draft.

— Former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam is going to buy the NHL’s Nashville Predators. Haslam is worth $2.3B; his brother and sister-in-law, Jimmy/Susan Haslam, are the owners of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

— Bruno Mioto posted this information on Twitter this week, breaking down NFL rosters by which round of the draft each team’s players were taken in, and how many undrafted free agents each team had.

— Most first round draft picks on NFL rosters last year:
13— NJ Giants
12— Pittsburgh/San Francisco
11— Atlanta/Baltimore
10— Cleveland, Denver, Las Vegas

— Fewest first round draft picks on NFL rosters last year:
4— Indianapolis, Kansas City
5— LA Rams
6— New England, Seattle, Tennessee
7— Houston, Jacksonville, Minnesota

— Most second round draft picks on NFL rosters last year:
11— Tampa Bay
10— Jacksonville, Miami, NJ Giants, Seattle
9— Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Kansas City, LA Rams

— Fewest second round draft picks on NFL rosters last year:
3— Baltimore, Detroit
4— LA Chargers, NJ Jets, New Orleans, Washington
5— Buffalo, Carolina, Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco

— Most undrafted free agents on NFL rosters last year:
23— Tennessee
21— Detroit
18— LA Chargers
16— Carolina, Denver, Miami

— Fewest undrafted free agents on NFL rosters last year:
6— NJ Giants
7— Pittsburgh
9— Minnesota, Seattle
10— Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, NJ Jets

Major league records in games where winning run scored from 7th inning on:
These are thru Thursday’s games
Arizona 5-6/5-2….10-8
Atlanta 6-5/3-1….9-6
Cubs 4-6/4-2….8-8
Cincinnati 1-4/5-5….6-9
Colorado 5-6/5-4….10-10
Dodgers 2-2/2-4….4-6
Miami 2-4/4-5….6-9
Milwaukee 1-1/8-5….9-6
Mets 4-4/2-2….6-6
Philadelphia 4-7/3-4….7-11
Pittsburgh 6-3/3-5….9-8
St Louis 4-4/4-2….8-6
San Diego 5-5/7-6….12-11
San Francisco 1-5/4-3….5-8
Washington 1-1/2-2

Baltimore 5-3/2-3….7-6
Boston 4-4/4-7….8-11
White Sox 6-5/6-2….12-7
Cleveland 3-4/8-3….11-7
Detroit 6-4/7-3….13-7
Houston 3-1/5-4….8-5
Kansas City 2-6/3-4….5-10
Angels 0-6/2-4….2-10
Minnesota 2-6/2-4….4-10
New York 6-3/4-4….10-7
Oakland 3-9/4-4….7-13
Seattle 3-7/4-2….7-9
Tampa Bay 6-2/5-4….11-6
Texas 4-4/9-4….13-8
Toronto 4-4/6-4….10-8

Friday’s Den: Week 10 USFL notes and other random stuff…….

Myles Copeland, a player for Toledo Glass City of The Basketball League, saved a referee’s life during a game this week. The referee started wobbling, passed out and became unresponsive on the court. Copeland, whose daytime job is being a firefighter, quickly administered CPR until paramedics arrived, ultimately saving the referee’s life.

Good to hear some good news now and then.

— Golden State 103, Boston 90
Warriors win their fourth NBA title in eight years.
Steph Curry scored 34 points.
Golden State had a 21-0 run.
None of the games in this series were decided by less than 10 points.

— Question to tackle in the near future; where does Curry rank among the all-time greats of the game?

— Pretty busy weekend going on in Boston:
a) Game 6 of the NBA Finals was in Boston Thursday.
b) US Open golf tournament is in Brookline, MA this weekend
c) Cardinals-Red Sox in Fenway Park this weekend.

— They were talking on the Texas Rangers’ TV broadcast last night how more and more major league coaches are taking college head coaching jobs, for two reasons:
a) money isn’t as good for big league coaches nowadays
b) because of analytics, coaches have less influence than they used to have.

— Washington Nationals are retiring number 11 this week, for Ryan Zimmerman, who played his entire 16-year career in Washington, helping the Nationals win the 2019 World Series.

I had Zimmerman on my fantasy team for 5-6 years; it was an annual event that he would go on the disabled list every April/May, like the swallows returning to Capistrano.

One night, I’m driving up the Thruway, coming home from Long Island late at night, listening to WFAN in New York City. Zimmerman had been on a roll; it dawned on me that he hadn’t been on the DL yet that season. Five freakin’ minutes later, the update says “Washington Nationals put Ryan Zimmerman on the Disab—-“ I clicked the radio off, pulled into a Thruway rest stop and got myself a Cherry Coke, shaking my head. Not good.

— Rangers 3, Tigers 1— Rookie Ezequiel Duran hit a bases loaded triple with two out in 9th inning, giving Texas an unlikely win. Detroit is now 1-6 on this home stand; they’ve scored a total of seven runs in their last five games.

— Padres 6, Cubs 4— Chicago has now lost 10 games in a row, outscored 90-28.

— Angels 4, Seattle 1— Trout hit two homers, Ohtani threw six shutout innings.

— New Orleans Saints are going to wear black helmets in at least one game this year, with the same logo they’ve always had. This will be the first time in their 55-year history that they will not be wearing a gold helmet.

— Cleveland 4, Colorado 2— Guardians have won 13 of their last 16 games; Terry Francona is a great manager. This is not a great roster, but Cleveland is currently holding the third/last Wild Card spot in the American League.

Week 10 USFL games……..
Philadelphia vs New Jersey (-2.5)
Philadelphia Stars (6-3)
— Won four row, five of last six games.
— Last six weeks, they’re +11 in turnovers.
— Gave up 23+ points eight of nine games (over 5-1 last six).
— Have been outgained in seven of nine games (3-5-1 ATS).
— 1-2 ATS as an underdog.
— 5-0 if they score more than 17 points.

New Jersey Generals (8-1)
— Won last eight games (5-3 ATS), scoring 24.6 ppg in last seven.
— Last three games, Generals are +5 in turnovers (7-2)
— Outscored last three foes 56-24 in first half.
— 3-3 ATS as a favorite
— Five of their last six games went over the total.

These teams play in USFL playoffs next week, in Ohio.

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

Tampa Bay vs Birmingham (-3.5)
Tampa Bay Bandits (4-5)
— Bandits lost four of their last six games.
— Minus-13 in turnovers— have only six takeaways.
— 1-3 ATS as an underdog.
— Were shut out in second half in 4 of 9 games.
— Their last three games stayed under the total.

Birmingham Stallions (8-1)
— Both their quarterbacks have been banged recently.
— Trailed at halftime in five of their nine games
— Outscored opponents 126-58 in second half.
— 0-3 vs spread the last three weeks (6-0 first six weeks)
— Scored 10-15 points last two games (26.9 ppg first seven)
— Stallions have a playoff game in Ohio next week.

First meeting
— Week 4, Stallions (-2.5) beat Tampa Bay 16-10.
— Tampa Bay led 10-7 at half; they were outgained 228-158.
— Birmingham outgained Bandits 126-53.
— Stallions blanked Tampa Bay 9-0 in second half.

Michigan (-2.5) vs Pittsburgh
Michigan Panthers (1-8)
— Lost their last six games (2-4 ATS)
— 0-6 in games decided by 7 or fewer points.
— Last six games, they’re minus-9 in turnovers.
— Scored 27-24-23 points in last three games.
— Last six games went over the total.
— Michigan is 1-2 ATS as a favorite

Pittsburgh Maulers (1-8)
— Have been outscored 124-55 in first half of games. 
— Are 1-8 with a minus-2 turnover ratio.
— Completed less than half their passes in four games.
— Six of their last eight games went over total.
— Covered spread four of last six weeks (4-4-1 ATS for year).

First meeting:
— Michigan’s only win was 24-0 over Pittsburgh in Week 3.
— Panthers ran for 244 yards, Pittsburgh 103.
— Michigan completed only 11-25 passes for 65 yards.
— Game was 16-0 at halftime.

New Orleans (-3) vs Houston
New Orleans Breakers (6-3)
— 5-0 when they score more than 17 points.
— Scored 9-17 points in last two games.
— Four of last six games went over the total
— Have seven takeaways in last two games (+2)
— 4-3 ATS this season as a favorite.
— Breakers have a playoff game in Ohio next week.

Houston Gamblers (2-7)
— Lost seven of last eight games (3-5 ATS)
— Led eight of their nine games at halftime.
— Have a bad record, despite a +6 turnover ratio.
— Six of last eight games went over total
— Outscored 116-47 in second half.

First meeting:
— New Orleans (-6.5) Houston 23-16 in Week 4.
— Gamblers led 13-10 at halftime.
— Breakers outgained Houston 523-155, but were minus-4 in turnovers. 

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

13) Here is something we’ll never see again:

August 19, 1969, day game at Wrigley Field; Cubs beat Atlanta 3-0, as Ken Holtzman pitched the first of his two no-hitters, in front of a crowd of 37,514.

Here’s what makes it unique; Holtzman tossed a no-hitter but he didn’t strike anyone out. He walked three guys, facing 30 batters, so he probably threw 110-115 pitches.

This was a Braves’ lineup with Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, Rico Carty, Felipe Alou- they made the playoffs that year. Losing pitcher that day was Hall of Famer Phil Niekro.

Holtzman went on to win three World Series rings with the A’s; his career record was 174-150, 4-1, 2.55 in World Series games. 

12) Wednesday afternoon, something we’ve never seen before; Astros had two pitchers throw an immaculate inning (strike out the side on 9 pitches). Luis Garcia, Phil Maton. Maton pitched just that one inning, then they took him out.

In major league history, there have been 106 immaculate innings; there have never been two on the same day, much less in the same game. Not only that, but the same three guys struck out for Texas in both of those innings. 

11) White Sox 13, Tigers 0— Detroit used three different position players to pitch, and they did better than the regular pitchers. Roger Clemens’ son pitched the 8th inning, giving up a run.

After the game, the dismal Tigers held a (long) team meeting; they’re 24-38, scoring 2.7 runs/game, half a run/game less than any other team. The natives are restless. 

10) Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, Mike Trout got a broken bat single, but part of the broken bat hit plate umpire Nate Tomlinson in the mask, getting inside the mask. He suffered a bruised retina and a scratched cornea, which is scary stuff.

TV people seemed to think he was going to be OK, that it could’ve been worse. Hopefully he’ll be back on the ballfield pretty soon. 

9) Pirates 6, Cardinals 4— Something else you don’t see much these days; David Bednar got an 8-out save for Pittsburgh, throwing 43 pitches.

Going back a long time, in Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers’ five busiest seasons, he AVERAGED five outs a game, meaning his typical save started with one out in 8th inning. Times have changed. 

8) Tuesday night in St Louis, Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas threw 129 pitches, coming within one out of a no-hitter. That is the most pitches anyone has thrown in a big league game this year.

Cincinnati P Tyler Mahle threw 119 pitches in Arizona Tuesday, in a game that was scoreless after nine innings. Reds eventually won in 12 innings. 

7) Arizona 7, Cincinnati 4:
— Diamondbacks scored four runs in bottom of 8th.
— Zac Gallen allowed two hits in seven IP, but he also hit four of the first eight batters he faced. That is what happens when you pitch inside; guys these days don’t get out of the way very well.

6) My favorite gambling-related movies:
— Rounders
— Let It Ride
— Lucky You
— The Gambler (2014 version)

5) You can wager on how many of the golfers who played in last week’s LIV golf tournament will make the cut this week at the US Open. Over/under is 5.5 golfers to make the cut. 

4) Minnesota Twins’ TV guy Dick Bremer is an outspoken advocate for the automated strike zone. It is becoming evident that the automated strike zone will happen in the near future; I’m not sold that it is that great an idea, we’ll see what happens.

3) Avalanche 4, Lightning 3 (OT)
— Andre Burakovsky scored at 1:23 pf overtime.
— Avalanche led 3-1 after the first period.
— Colorado outshot Tampa Bay, 38-23.
— Colorado leads Stanley Cup final, 1-0

2) Houston Rockets are trading C Christian Wood to Dallas, in exchange for Boban Marjanovic, Sterling Brown, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss and the #26 pick in next week’s NBA draft.

This season with Houston, Wood averaged 17.9 ppg, 10.1 rebounds/game in 30.8 minutes/game. 

1) Braves 8, Nationals 2— Atlanta has now won 14 games in a row. Austin Riley was 3-5 with four RBI for the Braves. 

Wednesday’s Den: Happy Armadillo Day, everyone!!!!

13) 21 years ago today we started this blog; doesn’t seem like that long ago.

I’d like to thank you for reading; hope you enjoy it and maybe sometimes you learn some stuff, too. We’ll see if I can make it another 21 years 🙂

Happy birthday to the Big Dawg; hope he has an excellent day, sitting by his pool.

12) Read on the Interweb today that minor league games where the pitch clock is used are running 24 minutes a game shorter than the other games. MLB experts are assuming that the pitch clock will become a thing in the major leagues next season. 

11) There are many major league teams that completely suck; I’m not sure why you would own a team and deliberately not try to at least compete, but here we are:

A’s are a minor league team. It is depressing to see.
Pirates are bad, but at least they’re promoting some prospects, none of whom pitch
Royals are a bad team.
Washington is terrible, and they won the World Series in 2019
What the Cubs are doing is inexcusable; a big market team tanking. Makes no sense.
Cincinnati is also really bad, with no real solutions in sight.

This is why I’m in favor of a mandatory salary floor for MLB teams; at least pretend you’re trying. 

10) Doing local TV/radio for these bad teams is a tough job; you have to tell the truth, but you cannot be overly critical, seeing how you travel on the road with the players/coaches you’re broadcasting. Guys who do the Pirate games sound like they’ve been tranquilized before they do do games. They spent half the game Tuesday talking about how hot it was in St Louis. 

9) Coming into Tuesday’s game, White Sox’ #9 hitters led the team, with a .477 slugging %age; their #3 hitters have only a .303 slugging %age, which makes very little sense.

8) Angels have already lost ten games that they led in the 7th inning or later; they’ve spent a lot of money on payroll, but again, their pitching is bad. Pitching is kind of important in baseball. 

7) Diamondbacks have been shut out last three times Madison Bumgarner pitched; MadBum was a pretty good hitter. He probably wishes they’d ditch the DH and let him hit.

6) St Louis is a nice place, I mean, the people are genuinely nice. Was there a couple times when the Rams played there. At Cardinal games, when a visiting player makes his MLB debut, the PA announcer tells the crowd it is this guy’s debut, and they politely applaud him.

Could you imagine that happening in New York? Didn’t think so. 

5) Just about everything NFL Films does is really good; Tuesday afternoon, I watched an hour-long special on the 2006 Texas-USC Rose Bowl, which Texas won at the very end. The special centered around the two QB’s, Matt Leinart/Vince Young, how they were great college players who fizzled in the pros.

— The two coaches in that game, Mack Brown/Pete Carroll are still coaching 16 years later.
— Vince Young got drafted by the Titans, even though their coach (Jeff Fisher) and OC (Norm Chow) were USC guys. In this film, Fisher made it clear that it wasn’t his choice to take Young, who lasted only six years in the NFL, five with Tennessee.
— Fisher claims that Titans owner Bud Adams overrruled his football people and ordered them to draft Young.
— Leinart got drafted by Arizona; he also lasted six years in the NFL. They both mentioned that if they knew where they would be drafted, they would’ve stayed in college another year.

— This was also the last game the great Keith Jackson broadcast; when I think of college football on TV, I think of Keith Jackson. He was excellent.
— Friend of mine who I met maybe 6-7 years ago told me a great story about how he wagered a lot of money on this game in Las Vegas; luckily for him, he had Texas.
— Reggie Bush got drafted before Leinart/Young; he wound up scoring 54 TD’s in his 11-year NFL career. Key play in the Texas-USC game was the Trojans failing on a 4th-and-1 while leading with 2:13 left. Bush was inexplicably on the bench for that play. 

4) Passing yardage leaders in the USFL:
1,750— Kyle Sloter, New Orleans
1,502— Jordan Ta’amu, Tampa Bay
1,241— J’Mar Smith, Birmingham
1,028— Case Cookus, Philadelphia

3) Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson doesn’t have an NFL agent negotiating his pending mega-deal with the Ravens; how is this possible?

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes:
”If you are under the impression that Jackson is some naïve, out-of-his-depth, disengaged vessel in terms of his contract, you would be incorrect. Numerous sources close to this situation indicated he is quite well-versed in the NFL quarterback financial landscape……..”

Good for him, plus he saves the 3% agents usually get. 

2) There are 358 Division I college basketball teams; there are over 1,400 transfers this year, which means that October/November will be a nightmare, trying to piece together which teams did well and which teams are going to get hammered because of all the roster turnover.

1) There is a commercial on Minnesota Twins’ TV promoting pheasant hunting in South Dakota; an attractive young woman has herself a rifle and is out in a field firing that rifle at birds, who do not have a gun to fire back at her.

Add South Dakota to the list of states I’ll never visit. 

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

— Warriors 104, Celtics 94:
Golden State was +12 in turnovers (6-18)

Wiggins scored 26 points, had 13 rounds.
Warriors won, despite Curry going 0-9 on the arc.
Golden State leads series, 3-2

— When they vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame next winter, these two quarterbacks will be up for the vote. Here are their blind resumes:

Quarterback A: 72-72 regular season W-L record, 8-2 in playoffs, won 2 Super Bowls.
Quarterback B: 117-117 regular season W-L record, 8-4 in playoffs, won 2 Super Bowls.

Is Player B more qualified because of the extra 90 regular season (45-45) games?
Interesting question.

Quarterback B is Eli Manning; Quarterback A is Jim Plunkett. 

— Eli Manning’s 8-4 postseason record is interesting; only 3 of the 12 games were at home. He went 1-2 in home playoff games, 5-2 in road playoff games, 2-0 in Super Bowls- the two Super Bowls will get him into the Hall of Fame.

But it says a lot about his mediocre regular season record that the Giants earned only three home playoff games in his 16-year career. He will get into the Hall of Fame, hopefully not on the first ballot.

— There are 21 QB’s from the Super Bowl era who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Here are their W-L records in playoff games:
Troy Aikman 11-4
Terry Bradshaw 14-5
Len Dawson 5-3
John Elway 14-7
Brett Favre 13-11
Dan Fouts 3-4
Bob Griese 6-5
Sonny Jurgensen 0-0 (played one game in relief)
Jim Kelly 9-8
Peyton Manning 14-13

Dan Marino 8-10
Joe Montana 16-7
Warren Moon 3-7
Joe Namath 2-1
Ken Stabler 7-5
Bart Starr 9-1
Roger Staubach 11-6
Fran Tarkenton 6-5
Johnny Unitas 6-2
Kurt Warner 9-4
Steve Young 8-6

— Baseball injuries:
Red Sox put P Nathan Eovaldi (back) on IL
Detroit put P Edwin Rodriguez on the restricted list
Dodgers P Walker Buehler is out 6-8 weeks.
Washington put P Stephen Strasburg back on IL
Atlanta 2B Ozzie Albies broke his foot Monday night. 

— Duke’s basketball team added four grad transfers for next season, one each from Illinois, Harvard, Princeton, Northwestern.  

— Wisconsin-Stanford have an early season basketball game at Milwaukee’s Miller Park on November 11.  

— Oklahoma City Thunder have a ridiculous number of draft picks this year and next year; they traded the 30th pick in this month’s draft, and two 2nd-round picks to Denver, for F JaMychal Green and a 2027 first-round pick.

Thunder still has the #2, #12 and #34 picks in this year’s draft. 

— Major league records in Game 3 of a series, if first two games were split:
Arizona 3-5
Atlanta 7-7
Cubs 3-3
Cincinnati 2-2
Colorado 6-4
Dodgers 4-3
Miami 2-4
Milwaukee 5-5
Mets 9-3
Philadelphia 1-6
Pittsburgh 4-3
St Louis 3-4
San Diego 7-5
San Francisco 3-4
Washington 3-5

Baltimore 6-4
Boston 5-5
White Sox 3-5 (0-5 at home)
Detroit 2-7
Houston 5-5
Kansas City 3-3
Angels 7-1
Minnesota 4-4
New York 3-3
A’s 3-4
Seattle 5-4
Tampa Bay 5-4
Texas 3-5
Toronto 5-3 

— RIP Philip Baker Hall, who passed away this weekend at age 90; Hall was a great actor with 185 acting credits to his name. I remember him best from a 1996 gambling-themed movie Hard Eight with Gwyneth Paltrow and John C Reilly. RIP, sir.

— From 2016-21, 23,687 amateur golfers tried to qualify for the US Open golf tournament; only 23 of them made it. 

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

13) When they vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame next winter, these two quarterbacks will be up for the vote. Here are their blind resumes:

— Quarterback A: 72-72 regular season W-L record, 8-2 in playoffs, won 2 Super Bowls.
— Quarterback B: 117-117 regular season W-L record, 8-4 in playoffs, won 2 Super Bowls.

Is Player B more qualified because of the extra 90 regular season (45-45) games?
Interesting question. 

12) Was watching the replay of last year’s Super Bowl last night; I forgot that Dick Vermeil is getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, which is just tremendous. His speech should be excellent. 

11) Mets 4, Angels 1— Unfortunate scheduling; this was the last game of an 11-day road trip for the Mets, and was the ESPN Sunday night game. That means that you might be reading this before the Mets’ plane landed back in New York City, expected to be around 9am Monday. 

10) Rangers 8, White Sox 6 (12)— Chicago isn’t playing good baseball; this game ended with a runner getting thrown out at third base, when he tagged up after a fly ball. That run meant very little; you can’t ever get thrown out in that situation. It just isn’t smart.

9) Since 2015, Tampa Bay Lightning has won 82 NHL playoff games, more than any other team; Pittsburgh is next on that list, with 45. 

USFL Week 9 games:
8) New Jersey 25, Michigan 23:
— Generals won their last eight games.
— Michigan outgained the Generals, 336-251.
— 1-8 Panthers turned ball over three times (-2). 

7) Generals’ QB Luis Perez has bowled 12 perfect 300 games; he bowled four games of 299 before his first perfect game, which came when he was 12 years old. 

6) Houston 17, Birmingham 15:
— First loss of season for the Stallions, who scored 10-15 points in last two games.
— Birmingham outgained the Gamblers, 329-187
— Houston snapped a 7-game losing streak. 

5) New Orleans 17, Tampa Bay 6:
— Breakers clinch spot in playoffs in two weeks.
— New Orleans led this game 17-0 at halftime.
— Tampa Bay outgained the Breakers 352-215, but turned ball over four times (-2)

4) Philadelphia 17, Pittsburgh 16:
— Pittsburgh kicker made a 58-yard FG, also threw a TD pass on a fake FG.
— But he also missed a 49-yard FG with 0:59 left in game.
— Pittsburgh is a much better team when Vad Lee plays QB, like he did in this game.

3) Wondering why pro golfers are bolting to this LIV Tour? Charl Schwartzel banked $4.75M for winning the tournament in London this weekend. The big-name players got paid ludicrous amounts of money to join this tour— Dustin Johnson is rumored to have banked $100M, just for showing up.

Johnson’s father-in-law is Wayne Gretzky; I’m wondering what the conversation was like, when Johnson told him that he was skipping the Canadian Open to play in this LIV. Gretzky could be the most popular person in all of Canada. 

2) In major league history, there have been 316 no-hitters, 337 cycles. Jared Walsh of the Angels hit for the cycle Saturday night in Anaheim. 

1) Last five World Series champs finished in the top 5 in batting average with runners in scoring position (RISP), something to keep an eye on as the season goes on. 

Sunday’s Den: 13 of my favorite quotes

13) “I think everyone should go to college and get a degree, and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cab driver. Then they would really be educated”
Al McGuire

12) “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer”
Albert Einstein

11) “Be nice to people on way up, because you meet them on your way down”
Jimmy Durante

10) “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”
Soren Kierkegaard

9) “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned”
Fast Eddie Felson, from The Color of Money

8) “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
Thomas Edison

7) “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved”
George McDonald

6) “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts”
John Locke 

5) “The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer everyone else up”
Mark Twain

4) “Success is never final”
Winston Churchill

3) “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more of it I have”
Thomas Jefferson

2) “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made”
Jean Giraudoux

1) “Trust everybody, but cut the cards”
Fimley Peter Dunne

Saturday’s Den: Random stuff with weekend here……..

13) Warriors 107, Celtics 97:
— Golden State outscored Boston 58-43 in second half.
— Steph Curry scored 43 points, had 10 rebounds.
— Series is tied 2-2; the accountants are happy. 

12) Warriors have won at least one road game in 27 consecutive playoff series, which is an NBA record. Golden State was +13 on the boards in Game 4. 

11) Charlotte Hornets are expected to hire Kenny Atkinson as their new coach; he would be the second Warriors assistant to be hired as a head coach this spring. Mike Brown will be Sacramento’s coach next season. 

10) New York 2, Cubs 1 (13)— Teams combined to go 1-37 with runners in scoring position. Cubs played nine games last week; this was their second game this week.

9) Giants 7, Dodgers 2— LA starter Walker Buehler will undergo an MRI on Saturday after leaving this game early because of discomfort in his right elbow. 

8) Indians 3, A’s 2— Oakland led 2-0 in ninth inning, but because this is the A’s worst season since the end of the Charlie Finley era in the late 70’s, Cleveland scored three times in the ninth inning, sending Oakland to its 10th consecutive loss. 

7) Friday was also an especially dreadful night for my fantasy baseball team, so I watched a movie on HBO Max; Card Counter, which was only a little bit about poker, and mostly about an ex-military interrogator haunted by the ghosts of his past.

Pretty good movie until the end, which was extremely disappointing, but it was still better than watching the under-achieving Armadillos go 8-35 with one RBI. 

6) Phillies 7, Arizona 5— Philadelphia has won eight games in a row, is 7-0 under interim manager Rob Thompson, who may not be an interim manager for long. 

5) Washington 11, Milwaukee 5— Brewers have lost seven games in a row. 

4) Hot teams:
Braves have won 9 in a row.
Phillies have won 8 in a row
Marlins have won 4 in a row

Cold teams
Angels have lost 15 of their last 16 games.
Oakland has lost 10 in a row
Milwaukee has lost 7 in a row

3) Baseball injuries:
— Detroit P Casey Mize (elbow) is out for the year
— Boston P Garrett Whitlock (hip) is on the IL
— Tampa Bay P Andrew Kittredge (elbow) is out for the year
— Minnesota SS Royce Lewis (knee) is out for the year.

2) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL— Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers Wild Cards: Milwaukee, San Diego, San Francisco
AL— New York, Twins, Astros Wild Cards: Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox

1) Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos has been accused of “misogynistic” behavior, “self-dealing” and repeated “breaches of fiduciary duty” by his sister in a lawsuit that escalates the siblings’ ongoing legal battle over control of the team.

Four Spanos siblings each own 15% of the team; a trust owns 36% of the team, 4% is owned by non-family members. The legal struggle is over control of the trust.

Also, Baltimore Orioles CEO John Angelos was accused in a lawsuit this week of seizing control of the team at the expense of his brother, Lou — and in defiance of their father Peter’s wishes.

Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos turns 93 next month; there will be a struggle over who controls the franchise, because the franchise is worth a ten-figure sum.

It is good to know that rich people have problems too. 

Friday’s Den: USFL Week 9 preview and other random stuff

— When a major league manager makes an unusual strategic move and it blows up, he gets raked over the coals, doubly so if the team is struggling.

Thursday in Chicago, Dodgers led White Sox 7-5 in top of 6th inning; Trea Turner had a 1-2 count on him, with Freddie Freeman moving to second base on a wild pitch. With a lefty on mound, first base open with two outs and lefty Max Muncy up next, White Sox skipper Tony LaRussa had Turner walked intentionally, even with a 1-2 count.

Muncy hit a 3-run homer; the peanut gallery was not amused. White Sox are 26-29; they’ve had lot of injuries, but they’re struggling and LaRussa is 77 years old and people are fickle- they don’t care that LaRussa is already in the Hall of Fame, that he was managing in the big leagues before any active major leaguer was born.

What have you done for me lately?

— Oakland A’s are having a terrible season because they have a minor league roster, but the guys who are playing for Oakland are doing their best; it just isn’t good enough.

1B Christian Bethancourt hit his second home run of the season Thursday; this is a guy who played for the Braves/Padres from 2013-17, then was out of the major leagues…..until this year.

He went six years in between major league home runs; that doesn’t happen much.

— New York 10, Minnesota 7: Thursday night in Minnesota, Garret Cole gave up home runs to Arraez-Buxton-Correa, the Twins’ first three batters. This was only the 7th time in MLB history a team hit back-back-back homers to start the first inning of a game.

Twins are second of those seven teams to lose after starting with three home runs.

Gerrit Cole makes $36M a year; you figure based on 32 starts, that is $1.125M per start. Here is what New York got for their $1.12M Thursday:

70 pitches, 2.1 IP— 8 hits, 7 runs allowed, all earned runs. He gave up five home runs.

— Minnesota Twins have lost their last 18 playoff games, the longest postseason losing streak, not just in baseball, but in any sport.

— Marlins 7, Nationals 4— Stephen Strasburg pitched in his first MLB game in a year, coming off of thoracic outlet surgery; he allowed seven runs in 4.2 IP (83 PT)

From what I’ve heard on TV, thoracic outlet surgery is difficult to come back from, more so than other injuries pitchers usually suffer.

— Angels 5, Red Sox 2— Angels snap a 14-game losing streak; Ohtani threw seven innings and also hit a home run.

— Phillies 8, Brewers 3— Phillies are 5-0 since they changed managers, are only 2.5 games out of the last playoff spot.

Week 9 USFL games……..
Michigan vs New Jersey (-7.5)
Michigan Panthers (1-7)
— Lost their last five games (0-4-1 ATS)
— 0-4 in games decided by 5 or fewer points.
— Last five games, they’re minus-7 in turnovers.
— Their only win was 24-0 over 1-6 Pittsburgh.
— Last five games went over the total.
— Michigan is 1-4 ATS as an underdog.

New Jersey Generals (7-1)
— Won last seven games (5-2 ATS), scoring 24.7 ppg in last six.
— Generals held last six opponents to 16.7 ppg.
— Outscored last two foes 40-10 in first half.
— 3-2 ATS as a favorite
— Four of their last five games went over the total.

First meeting:
— Week 1, Generals (-1) beat Michigan 10-6.
— Game was 10-6 at half, scoreless in second half.
— Total yardage: 263-258, Michigan
— New Jersey won, despite being minus-2 in turnovers.

Houston vs Birmingham (-13.5)
Houston Gamblers (1-7)
— Lost their last seven games (2-5 ATS)
— Led seven of their eight games at halftime.
— Have a bad record, despite a +5 turnover ratio.
— Six of last seven games went over total
— Outscored 107-39 in second half.

Birmingham Stallions (8-0)
— Both their quarterbacks were banged up last week.
— Trailed at halftime in half of their eight games
— Outscored opponents 117-50 in second half.
— Outrushed last five foes 797-404
— 6-2 against spread, 0-2 last two weeks.

First meeting
— Stallions (-3) beat Houston 33-28 in Week 2.
— Gamblers led that game 18-13 at halftime.
— Total yardage: 391-285, Stallions.

Tampa Bay vs New Orleans (-3)
Tampa Bay Bandits (4-4)
— Bandits lost three of their last five games.
— Minus-11 in turnovers— have only four takeaways.
— 1-2 ATS as an underdog.
— Were shut out in second half in 4 of 8 games.
— Under is 5-3 in their games.

New Orleans Breakers (5-3)
— Scored 23+ points in their wins, 13-17-9 in losses.
— Four of last five games went over the total
— Last six games, they’re minus-5 in turnovers (8-13)
— 2-0 ATS this season as an underdog.
— Lost on last play LW, 10-9 to 8-0 Birmingham.

First meeting:
— Breakers (+2.5) waxed Tampa Bay 34-3 in Week 2.
— New Orleans was +3 in turnovers; they led 21-3 at halftime.
— Bandits were only 11-29/64 yards passing.
— Breakers outgained Tampa Bay, 374-194

Philadelphia (-8.5) vs Pittsburgh
Philadelphia Stars (5-3)
— Won four of last five games, are 2-2-1 ATS as favorites.
— Last five weeks, they’re +9 in turnovers.
— Gave up 23+ points in all eight games (over 6-1 last seven).
— Have been outgained in six of eight games (3-4-1 ATS).
— Scored 30-26-35-35-46 points in wins; 17-16-17 in losses.

Pittsburgh Maulers (1-7)
— Have been outscored 121-45 in first half of games. 
— Are 1-7 with an even turnover ratio.
— Completed less than half their passes in four games.
— Six of their last seven games went over total.
— Covered spread three of last five weeks (3-4-1 ATS for year).

First meeting:
— Stars (-7) beat Pittsburgh 30-23 in Week 2.
— Maulers outrushed Philly 123-45, outgained them 348-303
— Philly led 21-16 at halftime.
— Stars won despite turning ball over three times (-1). 

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

13) Celtics 116, Warriors 100:
— Boston led 68-56 at halftime.
— Celtics held Golden State to 11 points in 4th quarter.
— Celtics lead the series 2-1

In NBA Finals series that were 1-1, the Game 3 winner has won 32 of 39 series. 

12) This was Boston’s 51st home game this season; you would think by now that their crew that lays everything out for the game wound know how high a basket is supposed to be. But no.

About an hour before this game, Warrior players complained that the basket they were shooting at was too high and……..they were right and their warmup was disrupted.

Purely accidental, I’m sure. Uh-huh. 

11) Los Angeles Angels haven’t been in the playoffs since 2014, they haven’t won a playoff game since 2009, despite being a big market team with an owner who spends a lot of money. They haven’t finished a season over .500 since 2015.

Interim manager Phil Nevin is the first major league manager who was also the #1 overall pick in the amateur draft; Astros took him with the first pick in the 1992 draft. 

10) Neglected to mention this the other day, but Eduardo Escobar hit for the cycle Monday night in San Diego, the first Met in 10 years to hit for the cycle. Cycles happen less frequently than no-hitters. Escobar got a triple in his last at-bat Monday.

9) Retired tennis star Andre Agassi is helping fund a third-party NIL program to financially benefit UNLV athletes; this is what college sports are coming to, rich boosters openly giving money/opportunity to athletes who attend their school.

Mark Cuban went to Indiana; I’m guessing the same stuff is going on there, and everywhere, if teams want to win. 

8) Cubs got rained out in Baltimore Wednesday; they’ve scored at least one run in the first inning in seven of their last eight games. 

7) This Saudi-backed golf tour, the LIV Tour, will have 54-hole tournaments (LIV is the Roman numeral for 54) and no cuts. So far, 10-12 well-known players have bolted to the LIV Tour, which starts this week in England— the next tournament is in Oregon. 

6) Was watching the replay of an old Jets-Rams game from 2004, when Mike Martz coached the Rams and Marc Bulger was the QB. Rams finished 8-8 that year, winning their last game in OT, which put them in the playoffs— they had a minus-24 turnover ration.

It is astounding that a team with a minus-24 turnover ratio made the playoffs, and then won a game in the playoffs. 

5) Speaking of the Rams, they extended WR Cooper Kupp’s contract, giving him $20M a year or so, which he obviously has earned, being Super Bowl MVP and all. Not bad for a guy who played his college football at I-AA Eastern Washington, where the home turf is bright red. 

4) Canadian football League starts this week; BC Lions have two QB’s, Nathan Rourke, Michael O’Connor, both of whom are Canadians. 

Was reading online that this is the first time in CFL history a team will have two Canadian QB’s.

3) Phillies 10, Brewers 0— This could just be a coincidence, but Philadelphia is 5-0 since they fired manager Joe Girardi. 

2) Was reading an article on the Interweb about ten guys who could be traded before the August 2 trade deadline; three of the first five guys on the list are on my fantasy team. Hopefully they won’t all get traded at the same time, if they’re traded at all.

Actually, Dom Smith also figures to be traded, and he wasn’t on that list. I need him to get dealt to a team that needs a productive hitter, which he is.

1) Actor Matthew McConaughey is from Uvalde, TX, where 4th graders were murdered in their school a couple weeks ago; not sure if his voice will help fix anything, but you wonder what is wrong with people when stuff like that happens, and nothing changes. Politicians are so corrupt they they value the $$$ they get from the NRA over 10-year olds getting murdered. Not good.