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

13) Chiefs 34, Texans 20:
— Chiefs ran ball 34 times for 166 yards; they threw 32 passes.
— KC scored four of the first times they had the football.
— 15,895 fans attended this game on a drizzly night at Arrowhead Stadium.
— In first three series for both teams, KC ran 35 plays, Houston 16

12) With no teams having an off-season program, I’m thinking its going to take a few weeks for offenses to catch up to where they normally are. 34-20 sounds high-scoring, but Houston got couple of scores in garbage time. Pass patterns mostly seemed a lot shorter than normal.

11) Tigers 6, Cardinals 3— Detroit scored five runs in the top of the 7th to earn the split of this twinbill, after losing their previous two games by a combined score of 31-2.

10) Red Sox 3, Rays 2— Rookie Bobby Dalbec homered in his 5th consecutive game.

9) A’s 3, Houston 1— Sean Manaea got thru seven innings on 61 pitches; you just never see that anymore, less than 9 pitches per inning.

8) Miami 31, UAB 14:
— Total yardage was 495-285, Miami
— Hurricanes ran ball for 337 yards.

7) Royals 11, Indians 1— Rookie Brady Singer had a no-hitter into the 8th inning.

6) White Sox are 13-0 vs lefty pitchers; Arizona is 2-10.

5) Atlanta 7, Washington 6— Freddie Freeman knocked in 10 runs the last two games; he is the first Brave to knock in 4+ runs in consecutive games since Mark Teixeira, in 2007.

4) Arizona 5, Dodgers 2— If you have Mookie Betts on your fantasy team, last night was your lucky night; Betts played 2B, so now he’s eligible at 2B in a lot of fantasy leagues, which would be a large advantage over most teams. It was his 16th career game at second base, first one in two years.

LA put Walker Buehler (blister) on the IL before this game, then Dustin May left one inning after he was hit in the foot by a line drive.

3) Longest NFL playoff droughts:
17 years- Cleveland
12- Tampa Bay
9- NJ Jets

2) Lakers 110, Houston 100 (LA leads 3-1)
— Davis had 29 points, 12 rebounds five assists for LA.
— Harden was 2-11 from the floor, 16-20 on foul line. Harden was only Rocket starter with a =/- better than minus-10; he was even.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL Central- Chicago, Minnesota
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Cleveland, New York

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Miami, San Francisco

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

13) A courageous gambler in New Jersey wagered $22,000 on the New Orleans Saints to win the Super Bowl, at 11-1 odds.

This isn’t related to that note, but over the last nine seasons, Saints are 2-15 ATS in Weeks 1-2 of each season. New Orleans is favored over Tom Brady’s Buccaneers Sunday.

12) Over the last decade, which NFL quarterback is the most profitable on to bet on Week 1?
I’ll post the answer below.

11) Justin Timberlake has become an investor in a group trying to bring major league baseball to Nashville; I’m thinking MLB will expand to 32 teams fairly soon; Nashville, Portland, Montreal are among the teams who are potential homes for new teams.

10) What do these people have in common?
John McCain, John McEnroe, Amy Adams, Bruce Willis

They were all born overseas, with their parents stationed in the military.

9) Houston Astros are 22-22, have lot of injuries; they’re 3-14 in California this season.

8) Other than Jacob deGrom, Mets’ starting pitchers have a 6.47 ERA this year.

7) Random opinion; Dave Parker should be in the Hall of Fame; Cubs’ TV guys were talking about the greatest RF’s ever and Jim Deshaies is throwing out a few names, all-time greats, and Parker is right in there with them. Hopefully he’ll get his day soon.

6) The best compliment a coach can give a basketball player; tie game, 2:00 to play, and you’re on the floor. Who finishes a close game is way more important than who starts the game.

5) Tuesday night, Oakland reliever Lou Trivino became the first reliever since 2005 to pitch the last inning of a win, getting the last three outs on three pitches. That has happened only seven times since 1988.

4) Duke Blue Devils were 2-4-1 ATS as an underdog last year, after going 27-10-1 from 2013-18.

12a) Answer to quiz: Over the last decade, Andy Dalton is 6-2-1 ATS in Week 1, making him the NFL’s most profitable QB in Week 1 games. He is the backup in Dallas now.

3) Toronto 125, Boston 122, 2OT (series 3-3)
— This was big-time basketball at its finest; high quality, intense game.
— Four Raptors played 50:00+.
— Kyle Lowry scored 33; shot 6-10 on the arc, 6-10 inside the arc.
— Four Boston subs played a total of only 39:00.

2) LA Clippers 96, Denver 87 (LA leads 3-1)
— Clippers led 26-12 after first quarter, then held Denver off.
— Other than Nokic, Denver starters were 10-28 from the floor.
— Nuggets were down 3-1 in last series, and won that one.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL Central- Chicago, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, New York

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Miami, San Francisco

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Have to be some basketball coaches, both in college and the NBA, who are a little queasy about their jobs today; Billy Donovan won’t be coming back to the Oklahoma City Thunder next year. Thunder went 243-157 under Donovan, 18-23 in playoff games, but may be headed towards a rebuild, so someone else will coach their team going forward.

If Donovan announced he wants to go back to college coaching, how many schools wouldn’t fire their coach to bring him in? His Florida teams are the last back/back NCAA champs.

12) Nigel Richards is a man from New Zealand who memorized every French word in the French scrabble dictionary and won the French Scrabble Championship without being able to speak  any French. Why would you even attempt that, and how long did it take him?

Is there big money in Scrabble? Hope the guy made a fortune.

11) Sounds like college basketball could begin this season with a series of events in bubbles around the country, much like the NBA has done in Orlando, giving teams a few games to play out of conference before Christmas.

I’ve heard Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, Sioux Falls SD, Houston as potential bubble sites.

10) It snowed in Colorado, South Dakota this week; it is freakin’ September 9 and it snowed. No bueno.

Denver Broncos had to practice indoors and right before the end of practice, their star LB Von Miller hurt his ankle and is probably out for the season.

9) Orioles 11, Mets 2— This has obviously been a weird season, but right now Baltimore is only a half-game out of a playoff spot in the American League. They lost 115, 108 games the last couple of seasons, but now they’re vastly improved at 20-21.

Random observations; Orioles have very nice hats. Also, their utility guy Pat Valaika is 8-12 against the Mets this season.

8) Padres 14, Rockies 5— If you bet over 8.5, you got to go to bed early; game was 5-3 after the first inning, 10-3 after the second. San Diego won 1-0 Monday night; they scored 10 runs in first two innings of this game.

7) September 7, 1993, guy on the Cardinals named Mark Whiten hit four home runs in one game, knocked in 12 runs. Imagine going up against him in fantasy that week? Quite a night.

I bring this up because two of the four home runs that night were hit against a Reds’ pitcher named Mike Anderson, who was making his major league debut.

Mike Anderson is the brother of Brian Anderson, who is now the play-by-play guy for the Milwaukee Brewers; he also does NBA games on TNT. Brian Anderson was talking about that game with Stan Van Gundy on the NBA broadcast the other night; they were laughing, but if Mike was listening at home, maybe he wasn’t.

6) Marlins 8, Braves 0— Rookie Sixto Sanchez threw six shutout innings; Miami is 19-18 and would be in the playoffs if they started today.

5) NBA Draft was pushed back to October 16; no way the next NBA regular season starts before Christmas, maybe not even until Martin Luther King Day in January.

4) NBA players apparently bring their own food to the bubble every day; Celtics’ star Jayson Tatum brings his lunch in a Lion King lunchbox, the square, metal kind of lunchbox we all used when we were kids. Pretty cool.

I had a Volkswagen bus lunchbox back in the day; they opened a new VW dealership near my house and they were giving them away.

3) Miami 103, Milwaukee 94 (Heat wins 4-1)
— Giannis Antetokounmpo sat this one out with a bad ankle.
— Miami’s four subs were a combined +68.

2) Lakers 112, Houston 102 (LA leads 2-1)
— Kuzma/Rondo shot a combined 15-21 off the bench.
— Rockets’ starters other than Harden/Westbrook shot combined 7-19.
— Houston scored 64 points in first half, 38 in second half.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL Central- Chicago, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, New York

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Miami, San Francisco

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

13) Southern Mississippi’s football team lost its first game last week, 32-21 to South Alabama as a 13-point home favorite; no idea what happened behind the scenes, but Jay Hopson is out as the Golden Eagles’ head coach. After one game.

12) When Freddie Freeman hit his first career grand slam Friday, it came on his 232nd career home run; only Sammy Sosa waited longer to hit his first grand slam— his first one was on his 246th career homer.

11) Jacob deGrom got 35 swings/misses from the Phillies Sunday, tied for most by any pitcher since they started keeping track of such things in 2008.

Danny Duffy (2016), Clayton Kershaw (2015) also got 35 whiffs in a game.

10) Eagles signed 41-year old Josh McCown as their emergency QB for this season; he’ll bank $204,000 for that task, all while he lives in Texas. If something happens and the Eagles need him, he’ll take a private plane to Philly; until then, he’ll participate in Zoom meetings with the Eagles’ offense and do his film study at home in the Lone Star State.

9) Toronto 12, Bronx 7— Blue Jays trailed 6-2, then scored 10 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning; they’re two games up in the battle for 2nd place in the AL East.

8) Celtics 111, Raptors 89 (Boston leads 3-2)
— Game was 62-35 at the half, so not much of a game at all.

7) Clippers 113, Nuggets 107 (LA leads 2-1)
— Clippers outscored Denver 29-19 in 4th quarter.
— Lou Williams was +20 in 28:00 off the bench.

6) Washington Redskins named Dwayne Haskins their starting QB.

5) Duke Blue Devils named Chase Brice their starting QB; the last two years, Brice was Trevor Lawrence’s backup at Clemson.

4) Josh Rosen signed on as a backup QB with Tampa Bay, where he re-unites with Byron Leftwich, who was his OC with the Arizona Cardinals.

3) When this baseball season started, no one figured that Kyle Tucker would be the Astros’ best player, but it is September 8th, and here we are. Tucker is a very good hitter.

2) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL Central- Chicago, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, New York

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Miami, San Francisco

1) RIP to the great Lou Brock, who passed away over the weekend; he was one of the great leadoff hitters of all time, stole over 900 bases, won two World Series rings with St Louis. He was also the all-time stolen base leader, until Rickey Henderson passed him. RIP, sir.

RIP to poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton, a recognizable face on TV who also passed away this weekend. Sexton won a bracelet at the 1989 World Series of Poker, won over $6M in tournaments; he was one of the TV voices of poker for the last 20 years. RIP, sir.

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) This is baseball, 2020:
In the Miami-Tampa Bay game Sunday, the Marlins’ 41st game this year:
— Miami’s Trevor Rogers threw 100 pitches.
— Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow threw 105 pitches.

It was the first time this season, in Miami’s 41 games, that both starting pitchers threw 100+ pitches in the same game.

12) Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman hit two grand slams in the last three games; in 10 years in the major leagues before this weekend, Freeman had never hit a grand slam.

11) Umpire Joe West threw Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo out of the game Sunday; the thing is, Rizzo was sitting in a luxury box in the third level of the stadium. With no fans in the ballpark, umpires can hear a lot more of what their critics think of them.

Rizzo got a 3-year contract extension Saturday, so he can afford the fine he’ll get.

10) Astros-Angels played a doubleheader Saturday; it was 109 degrees in Anaheim when the first pitch was thrown. Tough weekend for the catchers in Orange County- it was 106 degrees for Sunday’s game in Anaheim.

9) Toronto leads the Bronx Bombers by a game in the race for 2nd place in the AL East; they play 10 of their last 20 games against each other, starting Monday in Buffalo.

8) Interesting conversation on the YES Network Sunday; top of 7th inning, Orioles led New York 4-1, but the visitors have two men on, with catcher Erik Kratz at bat, tying run at the plate.

Kratz is a career backup, but Gary Sanchez is having a dreadful season, so he’s been benched; if they pinch-hit for Kratz, they pretty much had to put Sanchez in the game, which they obviously didn’t want to do. 

The three TV guys then discussed why this was happening, and how manager Aaron Boone isn’t making all the decisions as far as who plays and who doesn’t, the type of manager/front office issues we saw in the movie Moneyball.

It was an unusually frank discussion, and it was good stuff.

7) Sunday was the 25th anniversary of Cal Ripken Jr surpassing Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games played, with 2,131.

Longest current active streak of consecutive games played? Whit Merrifield, 288 games.

6) SMU 31, Texas State 24— Imagine being Texas State and being on ESPN Saturday at 4:30, the only televised football game at that time? What a recruiting bonanza for the Sun Belt’s Bobcats, who hung in with SMU but couldn’t spring the upset- they got good exposure, though, and that sure helps their recruiting.

5) Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright made it known that he doesn’t want to be the 76ers’ head coach. He already has a lucrative gig with more job security.

4) They opened a new sportsbook in the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas, one of the few strip casinos I’ve never been in. I look forward to seeing it someday.

3) Pittsburgh Steelers cut QB Devlin Hodges, who started six games for them LY and brought back QB Josh Dobbs, who had been a backup in Jacksonville.

2) From Ralph Michaels:
Since 2014 in the NFL, Week 1 divisional underdogs are 21-5-1 ATS.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL Central- Chicago, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, New York

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, Mia/SF

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Deshaun Watson broke the bank Saturday, signing a 4-year, $160M extension with the Houston Texans. Quarterbacks are important in football.

Chargers signed WR Keenan Allen to a 4-year, $80M deal.

12) There were 20 major league baseball games Friday; it was the first time there were 20 big league games on the same day since August 4, 1974.

11) When Jason deGrom starts against the Phillies Sunday, it’ll be the first time since August 3rd in Atlanta that he pitched against a team other than Miami. He made four starts in a row against the Marlins, first time that had happened since 1929.

10) Cubs’ OF Ian Happ fouled a ball off at the plate Thursday; it bounced up and hit him in the right eye, knocking him out of the game. Happ missed Friday’s game, then homered twice in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

9) Brooklyn Nets hired Steve Nash as their new coach, which was surprising; Nash had been a Golden State Warriors player development consultant the last five years, but he has never been a head coach. Great players aren’t always great coaches; they’re two different skills.

Will be interesting to see the coaching staff he hires.

8) It is cutdown weekend in the NFL; 1,000+ guys will get cut, then 180 or so will get signed to practice squads. Emotional time for a lot of people. 

Miami Dolphins cut QB Josh Rosen, who has had an unusual career; he played 30 games at UCLA, was a high draft pick, but his star has dimmed very quickly.

2017: UCLA goes 6-7, the coach gets fired.
2018: Rosen is the 10th pick of the ’18 draft, by Arizona
2018: Cardinals go 3-13, Rosen starts 13 games; the coach gets fired.
2019: Miami trades 2nd/5th-round picks to Arizona for Rosen.
2019: Rosen starts three games (0-3); Miami goes 5-11.
2020: Rosen gets released.

I’m guessing another NFL team will pick him up; rookie QB’s seldom prosper, so tough to hold 2018 against him, especially with a rookie head coach, too, but you have to wonder what’s up when two teams give up on the guy so quickly.

7) Army 42, Middle Tennessee 0— Rough day for the Blue Raiders, whose QB is terrible, plus they lost track of game management at the end of the first half, in an awful display of coaching.

Down 21-0 in the last minute of the first half, the QB fumbles and is sacked with about 0:40 left; the clock is still running- they have two timeouts left, but instead the clock runs down, and runs down- they get only one play off, a pass inside the 10-yard line, before the half ends.

Army was going to win anyway because they dominated with their running attack and MTSU cannot throw the ball, but Middle Tennessee looked like a very poorly coached team.

6) Mike Trout hit his 300th home run Saturday; he is one of only 16 players ever to hit 300 homers before his 30th birthday.

5) Atlanta pitcher Max Fried has faced 197 batters this season, and hasn’t allowed a home run; he has a 1.98 ERA in nine starts this season.

4) Sunday night will be the St Louis Cardinals’ 32nd game; 15 of them have been at home in St Louis; 13 of the other 17 have been in Chicago, against Cubs/White Sox.

3) Cam Newton will start at QB for New England next week.
Mitch Trubisky will start at QB for the Bears next week.

2) Jacksonville Jaguars’ top two QB’s to start the season, will be Gardner Minshew, who was going to study to become a football coach before Mike Leach hooked him up at Washington State two years ago, and Jake Luton, a 6th-round draft pick from Oregon State.

Seriously, Minshew was going to transfer from East Carolina to Alabama, be the #3 QB there with an eye on becoming a grad assistant the following year, but Washington State had an opening for a QB, he went there instead and thrived under Leach in 2018. Now he is a starter in the NFL.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, Tor/NYY
AL Central- Chicago, Clev/Minn
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minn/Clev, NYY/Tor

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Miami, Milwaukee

Saturday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a fun summer night

13) We start today with a movie review…….

The Way Back stars Ben Affleck as a guy (Jack Cunningham) who was a high school basketball star who walked away from the game rather than play in college; he got married, had a kid, but then his 8-year old son died of cancer, and he developed a drinking problem that ruined his marriage.

The movie starts with people from his old high school asking Jack Cunningham to come back to his old school to coach the basketball team; the previous coach had fallen ill. Reluctant at first, he takes the job and after a slow start, the team begins to turn it around.

This is a good movie because there is some laughter and some darkness; Jack Cunningham not only drinks a lot, he curses even more, much to the chagrin of the team’s chaplain. Basketball scenes in this movie are very well done.

This movie is making the rounds on HBO this month; it is worth your time.

12) Watching this movie, I was reminded that I once rebounded for a guy who made 126 foul shots in a row- seriously, he did.

I was student manager of our basketball team in college; rebounding for guys was part of my job, actually one of the best parts, but not when a guy makes 126 in a row and won’t stop until he misses one. I was hungry and wanted to go have dinner; tried throwing him a couple bad passes to get him off his mark, but that didn’t work.

Very impressive display of shooting by a guy who never played a significant minute for us; all he could do was shoot. We had a really good team, which made my job a lot more fun.

11) This week the Braves played in Fenway Park:
— Tuesday, Marcell Ozuna hit three homers.
— Wednesday, Adam Duvall hit three homers.

I was really surprised by this, but this was the first time EVER that teammates hit 3+ homers in consecutive games.

10) Defending World Series champion Washington Nationals are 12-23 this year, are headed nowhere; last year, they were 19-31 after 50 games, but they had a whole summer to bounce back, plus they had Rendon and a healthy Strasburg.

You can start to sense that reality has set in for a few of these terrible teams (Nationals, Red Sox, Pirates, Angels); they don’t have enough pitching to compete in such a compressed season. Will be interesting to see how many changes teams make this winter.

9) Arizona Diamondbacks were the last team to play an extra inning game under the new rules; they lost to the Dodgers in extra frames Wednesday night.

Last two years, with the new rule being used in the minor leagues, 73% of extra inning games ended after the first extra inning, whether it be the 8th or 10th inning. The two years before that, only 45% of extra inning games had ended in the first extra frame.

8) As of Wednesday night, seven major league teams still didn’t have a sacrifice bunt this season. One of the basic tenets of the analytics movements is not to make an out on purpose, and with pitchers not batting anymore, that is becoming the norm.

7) Mets have been outscored 51-28 in the first two innings of games this season.

6) Unusual stat; since 2014, New Orleans Saints are 58-38 SU in regular season games, but only 15-25-1 ATS as a home favorite. I would’ve thought they fared better at home.

5) Bronx Bombers are 20-16 this year; 2-8 vs Tampa Bay, 3-3 against the Mets, 15-5 against everyone else. Lot of their games with the Mets were really interesting; all six were decided by 3 or fewer runs.

4) South Alabama 29, Southern Miss 21:
— Jaguars were 12.5-point underdogs; it was their first road win in three years.
— USA quarterback Desmond Trotter is Ozzie Newsome’s grandson.
— Frank Gore Jr is a freshman RB for USM; his dad is still playing in the NFL.

3) Raptors 104, Celtics 103 (Boston leads 2-1)
— OG Anunoby drained a 3 at the buzzer to keep the series interesting.
— Raptors were down 10 at the half; huge win for them.
— Toronto was +12 with Siakam in the game; minus-11 in the 10:00 he sat out.
— Jayson Tatum was only 5-18 from the floor.

2) Clippers 120, Nuggets 97 (LA leads 1-0)
— Nuggets haven’t recovered from the Utah series yet.
— Leonard scored 29 points in 32:00 for the Clippers.
— Clippers shot 57% from the floor, unusually good for an NBA game.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, NY/Tor
AL Central- Chicago, Clev/Minn
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minn/Clev, Tor/NY

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, Mil/StL
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Miami, Mil/StL

Friday’s Den: Teams’ records in series this season

Teams’ records in series (road-home/total)
thru 9/2
Ariz     3-3……1-5-1……4-8-1
Atl       3-3……5-0-1……8-3-1
Cubs   3-1-2……4-2…….7-3-2
Reds   2-2-2….0-3-4…..2-5-6
Colo    4-2…….2-4-1……6-6-1
LA       6-0-1….5-0-1…..11-0-2
Mia      6-1………0-4……..6-5
Milw    3-3…….1-3-1…….4-6-1
Mets    3-3-2….1-4-1…….4-7-3
Philly   1-3-1…..4-2-1……5-5-2
Pitt       1-5-1…..1-4-1…….2-9-2
StL       2-2………3-2……….5-4
SD        3-2-3…..4-2………7-4-3
SF         1-3-3……3-3……..4-6-1
Wash   1-2-2…..1-5-1…….2-7-3

Orioles  3-2…….1-6-1..….4-8-1
Boston  1-2-3…..2-4-1…..3-6-4
W Sox   4-2……..3-4………..7-6
Clev       5-1-1……4-2……..9-3-1
Det        3-1-1……2-3-1……5-4-2
Astros    2-3……..7-1-1……9-4-1
KC          0-5-2….1-3-2……1-8-4
Angels    1-5……..1-3-3……2-8-3
Twins     3-3-1……6-3……..9-6-1
NYY        2-3………5-2……….7-5
A’s           3-3………5-4………8-7
Sea          2-4-1…..1-3-1…….3-7-2
TB           5-2……..4-0-2……9-2-2
Texas      1-5-1…..2-4-1…….3-9-2
Toronto  2-4-2….2-1-2…….4-5-4

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

13) We start today with a story…….

Way back in January 1996, I’m an assistant basketball coach at Schenectady HS; our team was young but rapidly improving. We’re playing at home, but we lose a close game when a charge is called on our best player at a pivotal point in the game. Sketchy call.

Ref who made the call was a vice-principal at the school where our best player used to attend, before he transferred to Schenectady after 8th grade. Go figure.

After the game, I go out to dinner at Across the Street Pub, which was on my way home; first two people I see when I walk in the door? That ref and an assistant coach from the team we just lost to, yukking it up at the bar. I nod hello and go to a table in the back.

We only lost two more games that season, lost in the sectional final in 1997, then won the state title in 1998. Sometimes it takes difficult learning experiences for a team to come together, and that loss was one of ours.

12) One of the cool things about college sports is that different schools excel at different sports; for instance, Vanderbilt usually sucks at football, but they’re a national power in baseball.

Clemson is one of the best football programs in the country, but they’ve never won the ACC basketball tournament.

11) QB Jamie Newman transferred from Wake Forest to Georgia last winter, but now he’s opted out of playing this season and will prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft, leaving USC JT Daniels as the Dawgs’ new #1 signal caller.

Wake Forest was 8-5 last year; Newman would’ve been a big addition for the Dawgs.

10) Indians 5, Royals 0— Triston McKenzie tossed six innings of shutout ball on his 23rd birthday, as Cleveland improved to 23-14.

9) Braves 7, Red Sox 5— Adam Duvall homered three times for Atlanta.

8) Rockies 9, Giants 6— San Francisco scored 29 runs in two games in Denver, the most runs they’ve scored in consecutive games since 1993.

7) Free agent RB Leonard Fournette signed on with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

6) Disappointed to hear that Wednesday was Bert Blyleven’s last game as a TV analyst for the Minnesota Twins; a Hall of Fame pitcher, Blyleven has been a TV analyst for the last 25 years. He will continue working as a special assistant for the Twins.

5)  Heat 116, Bucks 114 (Miami leads 2-0)
— Jimmy Butler made two foul shots with 0:00 left for the win.
— Tyler Herro scored 17 points off the bench for Miami.
— Miami had blown a 6-point lead with 0:27 left.

4) Rockets 104, Thunder 102 (Houston wins 4-3)
— Houston had balanced scoring; four guys scored between 17-21 points.
— Both teams played only eight guys.
— Chris Paul had 19 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists in a losing cause.

3) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central- Chicago, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, Toronto

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Miami, Colorado

2) RIP to the great pitcher Tom Seaver, 75, who passed away this week; one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen, Seaver won 311 big league games, led the league in strikeouts five times. RIP, sir.

1) If you’ve watched much poker on TV, you’ve seen Mike Sexton, who has done World Poker Tour events on TV for years, with Vince Van Patten. Mike Sexton is really sick these days, and the prognosis isn’t good. We send our prayers out to him.

This, from actress/poker player Jennifer Tilly:
“There is a beautiful story about Mike in @nolandalla’s book “One of a Kind”  Stu Ungar was on the skids & couldn’t afford to buy his daughter school books or clothes. Mike sent a limo over with his credit card and told him take your kid out shopping, get her whatever she needs.”

We’re praying for an ace on the river, Mike.

Wednesday’s Den; Mid-week musings…….

13) With the trade deadline passing yesterday, I’m always reminded of August 1987, when Detroit, desperate for a starting pitcher in the midst of a pennant race, acquired Doyle Alexander from Atlanta for a young prospect. Alexander went 9-0, 1.53 in 11 starts for Detroit and was a huge factor in their making the playoffs.

Problem is, that was a terrible trade; remember the young prospect they traded when they acquired Alexander? A guy named John Smoltz, now in the Hall of Fame.

12) In the history of major league baseball, only two teams won a game after trailing by 10+ runs in the first two innings:

1990— Philadelphia Phillies
1876— Philadelphia A’s

Phillies were down 10-0 in 2nd inning Sunday night, got back within 12-10 but fell short.

11) Oakland A’s won’t play again until at least Friday, because of COVID issues; looks like they’re going to be pretty damn busy in a couple weeks:
— September 11-13, at Texas
— September 14, DH at Seattle
— September 15-16, at Colorado

10) Cardinals 16, Reds 2— Sonny Grey threw 38 pitches, didn’t finish the first inning for the Redlegs, who had a very tough night. Cincinnati lost four of its last five games, is 15-21.

9) Chicago White Sox are 11-0 vs lefty starters this season, 11-13 vs righties.

8) Braves 10, Red Sox 3:
— Marcell Ozuna hit three homers, knocked in six runs.
— Rookie Ian Anderson allowed two runs in six IP in his 2nd MLB start; he is the first rookie to beat Bronx, Boston in his first two MLB starts since Luis Tiant did it for Cleveland in 1964.

7) You win some, you lose some; In March 2019, Orioles traded Mike Yastzremski to the Giants for a minor league pitcher. Bad move; Yastzremski is a quality player now for San Francisco.

But the Orioles also got Anthony Santander as a Rule 5 player from Cleveland, and he is one of their best hitters now- he has 30 RBI this year.

6) Oklahoma’s starting QB this fall is a redshirt freshman with a great name: Spencer Rattler.

5) They had high school football on TV Saturday night; one of the games had Deion Sanders’ son as one of the QB’s, being coached by his famous father. The kid is a 4-star recruit, looked like he is an accurate passer.

4) When Tampa Bay’s Ji-Man Choi hot a home run to right field in the Bronx Monday, YES Network quoted StatCast, which said that home run would’ve been a homer in only 3 of the other 29 major league parks. Interesting knowledge.

When they built this new stadium, they put the RF fence way too close to home plate- lot of cheap home runs in games there, for both sides. Not a fun place to pitch.

3) Boston 102, Toronto 99 (Celtics lead 2-0)
— Celtics outscored Toronto 32-21 in 4th quarter.
— Jayson Tatum had 34 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists.
— A reminder that Brad Stevens had Butler in the Final Four two years in a row, and the Bulldogs weren’t in the Big East back then- they were in the freakin’ Horizon League. The guy is a great coach.

2) Denver 80, Utah 78 (Nuggets win 4-3)
— Average total in first six games of this series: 234.3. Game 7’s are tense, more like the NCAA tournament, win-or-go home. Which is why shorter playoff series would be way more fun.
— Nikola Jokic had 30 points, 14 rebounds for Denver.
— Denver advances to play the Clippers in the next round.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central- Chicago, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, Toronto

NL East- Atlanta, Mia/Phil
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Mia/Phil, San Francisco

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

13) This might sum up how weird the 2020 baseball season has been:

Mariners played the Angels in Anaheim this weekend; both teams wound up trading their catcher to San Diego, Seattle dealing Austin Nola, Halos sending Jason Castro to San Diego.

Apparently the two players hooked up after the trade, got car service from Anaheim to San Diego, and were then flown on a private plane to join their new teammates in Denver.

12) Phillies are 4-3 this season when they score 8+ runs.

The other 29 teams are a combined 148-11.

11) A’s-Mariners games in Seattle Tuesday/Wednesday have been postponed because of concerns about COVID.

10) Tampa Bay Rays have six pitchers out for the year with injuries, and five more on the injured list- they’re on a serious roll though, with a 25-11 record and a 4.5-game lead in the AL East.

9) Great trivia on the Padres-Rockies game Monday nite; Padres P Drew Pomeranz had a great-grandfather named Garland Buckeye, who played major league baseball in 1918, then again from 1925-28- he won 30 games as a major league pitcher.

Where was he from 1919-24? Garland Buckeye also played in the NFL; he was on offensive lineman for the Chicago Tigers, Chicago Cardinals. Must’ve been quite an athlete.

8) “The worst thing you can do defensively is foul a 3-point shooter.”
Stan Van Gundy, during Monday night’s Miami-Milwaukee game

7) Not for nothing, but if I owned FanDuel, and wanted to recruit people to play fantasy sports with my company, and I wanted to use a former NFL head coach to promote my company, my first choice wouldn’t have been Jeff Fisher.

Fantasy football is about offense; very few NFL head coaches have cared less about offense than Fisher, who was outstanding in building the Rams’ defense/special teams, but if he hadn’t been fired by the Rams, LA’s offense wouldn’t have taken off the way it has.

My choice for a FanDuel endorsement? Jimmy Johnson, Mike Martz, John Elway

6) When Jacob deGrom started against the Marlins Monday, he became the first pitcher since 1929 to make four consecutive starts against the same opponent.

5) RIP to the great basketball coach John  Thompson, who passed away this week at age 78.

Thompson built a stellar program at Georgetown, leading the Hoyas to three Final Fours and the 1984 national title.

4) Clippers just beat Dallas in the NBA playoffs; things must’ve been at least a little awkward in Doc Rivers’ house, since his daughter is married to Dallas G Seth Curry.

3) Thunder 104, Rockets 100 (series 3-3)
— Total of only 30 foul shots were taken in this game.
— Houston was just 15-44 on the arc, OKC 12-36; not good.
— Chris Paul was +20; Thunder’s other four starters were all minus.

2) Heat 115, Bucks 104 (Miami leads 1-0)
— Milwaukee scored 40 points in 1st quarter, 64 the rest of the game
— Jimmy Butler scored 40; Heat’s other four starters scored 52.
— Miami held Giannis Antetokounmpo to 12 shots, 18 points

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central- Chicago, Cleveland
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, Toronto

NL East- Atlanta, Mia/Phil
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Mia/Phil, Colorado

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Baseball’s trade deadline is 4pm Monday; San Diego Padres were active this weekend, adding 1B Mitch Moreland from Boston, and revamping their catching corps, adding Austin Nola from Seattle, Jason Castro from the Angels.

12) Why did the Padres add two catchers this weekend?

Going into Sunday’s games, San Diego catchers were hitting .140 this year. Not good.

Cleveland’s catchers are doing even worse, hitting .118.

11) Braves 12, Phillies 10- Atlanta scored 10 runs in the 2nd inning, Phillies scored seven times in the 3rd inning. Not much pitching anywhere to be found in this one. Atlanta traded for Tommy Milone, who struggled to hold a 10-0 lead. No bueno.

10) LSU’s star WR Ja’Marr Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 TD’s LY; he has opted out of this year’s college football season, a big blow for the Bayou Bengals.

9) Sunday in Cincinnati, the three Cubs’ outfielders hit two home runs each; that had never been done before, ever in the major leagues.

8) Mets did something Friday they’ll probably never do again; they hit a walk-off home run in the Bronx. The nightcap of Friday/Sunday doubleheaders were makeup games from games that were cancelled because of COVID- the Mets were the home teams for those games.

When Amed Rosario hit his walk-off homer Friday, lot of people didn’t know the game was over, including some of the players/announcers.

7) Dodgers are only team that hasn’t lost a series yet this season.

6) I picked up Orioles’ 2B-3B Hanser Alberto on my fantasy team three weeks ago; he drives me crazy, has no concept of the strike zone, but he can hit. Reminds me a lot of Manny Sanguillen, the Pirates’ catcher from their really good teams in the 70’s. They’re liable to swing at anything.

5) Teams that struggle in the NBA playoffs:
— Portland has made the playoffs 36 times, lost in first round 25 times.
— Indiana has made the NBA playoffs 27 times, lost in first round 19 times.

4) Denver 119, Utah 107 (series 3-3)
— Jamal Murray is first player since Michael Jordan in 1993 with three straight games of 40+ points in a playoff game. He had 50 in this game, which forces series to a 7th game.
— Adding some spice to this series is that Murray went to Kentucky, Utah star Donovan Mitchell went to Louisville. Mitchell scored 44 in this game.
— Utah’s uniforms are incredibly ugly.

3) Clippers 111, Dallas 97 (LA wins series 4-2)
— Kawhi Leonard had 33 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals.
— Luka Doncic scored 38, but the other four Dallas starters shot a combined 15-46.

2) Boston 112, Toronto 94 (Celtics lead 1-0)
— Raptors were 10-40 behind the arc; that not good.
— Boston turned ball over 22 times (-8), but they were 17-39 on the arc.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central- Cleveland, Chicago
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, Toronto

NL East- Atlanta, Mia/Phil
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, Mia/Phil

Sunday’s Den: Random thoughts on a summer day

13) I’m a big fan of the Showtime series Ray Donovan, which stars Liev Schrieber; the Donovan family is from Boston in that show, so Schrieber’s character talks with a Boston accent.

I had no idea until a few months ago that Schrieber also does voice-overs for HBO’s Hard Knocks and other sports specials. That voice doesn’t have a Boston accent. Go figure.

12) There is talk of major league baseball going to a bubble format for the playoffs; American League bubbles would be in LA, San Diego. National League bubbles would be in the two Texas ballparks. World Series is rumored to be headed to the Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington.

11) Toronto 5, Baltimore 0— Blue Jays’ acquisition of Taijuan Walker pays immediate dividends; he blanked the Orioles for six innings to get the win in Buffalo.

10) A’s acquired utility guy Tommy LaStella from the Angels this week; I’m guessing he will see some time at both 1B, 3B, to let Matt Chapman, Matt Olson get some days off from the field as the playoffs approach- they would probably still DH on those days.

Marcus Semien left Saturday’s game with a side injury, so Chapman will play SS and they will fill in with other guys at 3B for now.

9) Right now, the Phillies are a playoff team; they’re 13-4 when they score 5+ runs, 1-10 when they score fewer than five runs.

8) We talked a couple weeks ago about a pitcher named Chad Bell who was struggling so badly in the KBO that it was painful to watch. It took him 77 pitches to get thru three innings in the game I described. It almost looked like he had the yips about throwing a baseball.

Since then, Bell has turned things around; in three starts since that game, Bell is 2-0, 0.47, allowing one run in 19 innings. Good for him.

7) Bucks 118, Magic 104 (Milwaukee wins series 4-1)
— Game was 67-50 at the half; not a lot of resistance from Orlando.
— Milwaukee plays Miami in the next round.

6) Lakers 131, Portland 122 (Lakers win series 4-1)
— Lakers scored 117.2 ppg in this series.
— LA plays the winner of the Rockets-Thunder series.

5) Rockets 114, Thunder 80 (Houston leads series 3-2)
— Houston outscored OKC 37-18 in third quarter.
— It was such an easy win, Rockets took more 2-point shots than 3-pointers.

4) Golf trivia; Last time a non-major was won by a guy who shot over par for the week was the 1981 Byron Nelson Classic, when Bruce Lietzke won with a score of +1.

3) RIP to the great basketball coach Lute Olson, who passed away this week at age 85.

Olson built a great program from next-to-nothing at Arizona, leading the Wildcats to three Final Fours and the 1997 national title. He also led Iowa to the 1980 Final Four.

RIP to actor Chadwick Boseman, 43; he passed away this week after a 4-year bout with cancer. I remember him from his role as the linebacker who unexpectedly got drafted first by the Cleveland Browns in the movie Draft Day. 43 is way too young to go. RIP, sir.

2) I am seriously tired of being asked for money; animal rights groups, politicians, kids’ groups, groups that fight diseases, you name it. Seems like once you contribute to something, your name gets put on a suckers’ list and they spread that list around. Please go away.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central- Minnesota, Chicago
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Minnesota, Toronto

NL East- Atlanta, Mia/Phil
NL Central- Chicago, Milwaukee
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Colorado, Mia/Phil

Saturday’s Den: ACC football notes

ACC football notes:
Clemson
— 5 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Last three years, they’re 22-12-2 ATS as a favorite.
— Tigers won five of last seven postseason games.
— Offensive line this year has only 17 returning starters.

Florida State
— 7 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— Seminoles are 18-20 the last 3 years; from 2010-16, they were 78-17.
— Last four years, FSU is 9-12 ATS as a home favorite.
— Florida State is 5-8 ATS in last 13 games as an underdog.

Louisville
— 8 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Cardinals covered once in last 8 games as a road underdog.
— Last four years, Louisville is minus-19 in turnovers.
— Cardinals’ top seven RB’s from LY are all back.

NC State
— 10 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Under Doeren, State is 5-10 ATS as a home underdog.
— Last three years, State is 3-9 ATS outside the ACC.
— Wolfpack split its last four bowls, which were all decided by 21+ points.

Wake Forest
— 3 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Last five years, Deacons are 13-6 ATS as a road underdog.
— Under Clawson, Wake Forest is 1-6 ATS as a road favorite.
— Wake are 3-1 in bowls the last four years; all four games were decided by 8 or fewer points.

Boston College
— 6 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— New coach Hafley was a DB coach in the NFL for 7 years.
— Last five years, BC is 7-10 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last six years, Eagles are 14-4-1 ATS as a road underdog.

Syracuse
— 7 starters back on offense, 4 on defense.
— Syracuse won its last four bowls; their last bowl loss was in 2004.
— Under Babers, Orange is 10-7 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last two seasons, Syracuse is +22 in turnovers.

North Carolina
— 10 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Last five years, Tar Heels are 7-4 ATS as road favorites.
— Last two years, underdogs are 9-2 ATS in UNC home games.
— In his career, Mack Brown is 15-8 in bowl games; UNC won its bowl 55-13 LY.

Miami
— 8 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Miami is 13-13 SU last two years; the natives are restless.
— Miami’s offensive line has 114 career starts returning.
— Hurricanes lost their last three bowls; they were outscored 49-3 in last two bowls, losing 14-0 to Louisiana Tech LY.

Virginia Tech
— 8 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— This is their most experienced OL in years; 115 career starts.
— Under Fuente, Hokies are 5-2 ATS as a road underdog.
— Tech lost its last three bowls, allowing 30-35-37 points.

Pittsburgh
— 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Last six years, Pitt is 10-17-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last five years, Panthers are 14-7 ATS as a road underdog.
— Pitt beat Eastern Michigan 34-30 in a bowl LY, ending a 4-game bowl losing skid.

Virginia
— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Virginia’s OL has 119 returning starts; all 5 starters are upperclassmen.
— Last two years, Virginia is 7-3 ATS outside the ACC.
— Cavaliers lost four of their last five bowl games (3-2 ATS, all as an underdog)

Duke
— 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Duke won its last three bowls, scoring 44-36-56 points.
— Last five years, Blue Devils are 8-14 ATS as a home favorite.
— Since 2013, Duke is 25-8 ATS outside the ACC.

Georgia Tech
— 9 starters back on offense, 10 on defense.
— Tech covered once in last nine games as a home underdog.
— Last five years, Yellow Jackets are 2-8 ATS as a road favorite.
— Tech has 123 returning starts on the offensive line. 

Friday’s Den; Trends, notes for SEC football teams

SEC football notes
West
Alabama:
— 7 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— 12-7 ATS in last 19 games as a home favorite.
— 5-2 in last seven bowls (both losses to Clemson)
— Last five years, they’re +58 in turnovers.

Arkansas:
— 8 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Last three years, Razorbacks are 8-28 SU. 
— Since 2015, they’re 8-12 ATS as a home favorite.
— Haven’t been to a bowl game since 2016.

Auburn:
— 5 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Since 2015, they’re 10-17-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Malzahn is 2-5 SU in bowl games.
— Last two years, they’re +15 in turnovers.

LSU:
— 3 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Won last three postseason games, scoring 48.3 ppg.
— Under Orgeron, they covered seven of eight games as an underdog.
— Since 2012, LSU is 17-21 ATS out of conference.

Ole Miss
— 8 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Lane Kiffin is the new coach; this should be interesting.
— Rebels are 14-8 ATS in last 22 games as a road dog.
— Ole Miss is 6-10 ATS in last 16 non-conference games.

Mississippi State:
— 6 starters back on offense, 5 on defense.
— Mike Leach is the new coach; this should also be interesting.
— State failed to cover its last six tries as a road underdog.
— At Wazzu, Leach covered 17 of his last 25 games as a road dog.

Texas A&M:
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense.
— Under Fisher, Aggies covered 11 of 14 games when favored.
— Average total in their last five bowls: 65.2.
— Fisher won seven of his nine bowl games.

East
Florida:
— 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Gators covered 12 of last 17 games when favored.
— Scored 35.7 ppg in winning their last three bowls.
— Offensive line has 89 returning starts this season.

Georgia:
— 3 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Since 2015, Dawgs are 11-19 ATS as a home favorite.
— Since ’14, Georgia is 17-12 ATS outside the SEC.
— Todd Monken is the new OC, which should help.

Kentucky:
— 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Were 4-2 as a HF last year, after going 2-12 from 2016-18
— Last two years, they won their bowl game as an underdog.
— Offensive line has 84 returning starts this season.

Missouri:
— 4 starters back on offense, 7 on defense.
— Covered once in their last seven games as a road favorite.
— 8-4 in last 12 games as a home favorite.
— Last bowl win was in 2014.

South Carolina:
— 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense.
— Covered 7 of last 9 games as a road underdog.
— Former Georgia QB Mike Bobo is their new OC.
— Finished under .500 three of last five years.

Tennessee:
— 9 starters back on offense, 8 on defense.
— Have 115 starts back on their offensive line; that’s a whole lot.
— Vols won their last four bowl games.
— Under Pruitt, they’re 6-2 ATS as a road underdog.

Vanderbilt:
— 5 starters back on offense, all 11 on defense.
— Have a new QB and only 48 returning starts on OL.
— Since 2017, they’re 5-8 ATS as a road underdog.
— Since 2017, they’re 2-8 ATS as a home underdog.