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

13) Virginia 85, Texas Tech 77 OT— Random thoughts on this game:
— Game went over the total by 44 points.
— Virginia made 11-24 on arc; teams has been shooting under 30% on arc vs Texas Tech.
— Virginia’s last three wins: two OT games, third win by one point.
— Cavaliers’ two Final Four opponents both had a starter get hurt just before they played Virginia.
— Last year, Virginia was the first #1-seed to lose in the first round; they took a ton of grief for that. The value of sports is learning from adversity, keeping your head up and doing better the next time. Tony Bennett showed tremendous class; hope he enjoys this a lot.

12) From 2014-17, eight baseball teams finished 10+ games above .500 in one-run games; those eight teams, the next season, went a combined 169-178 in one-run games. Very tough to replicate success in close games two years in a row. 

11) Exception to the rule; Seattle Mariners went 26-15 in one-run games two years ago, then went 36-21 LY. So the Mariners went 62-36 in one-run games for two years but didn’t make the playoffs either year, then they did almost a total rebuild this past winter. Unusual. 

10) Must be noted that in 2015, the Cubs went 34-21 in one-run games, then only 22-23 the next year, but that next year was when they won the World Series- they were 66-25 in games decided by 3+ runs. 

9) In 2016, Texas Rangers went 95-67 and made the playoffs; they were an amazing 36-11 in one-run games. Since then, Texas went 78-84 in 2017, then 67-95 in ‘18, fired their manager last winter after going 25-43 in one-run games. Success is difficult to sustain.

8) Over the last five years, the Reds are 85-145 in one-run games, winning 68 or fewer games each of the last four seasons. 

7) Last three years, Minnesota is 45-68 in one-run games, even though they jumped from 57 to 85 wins in 2017- they were 15-18 in one-run games that season. 

6) Mariners 12, Royals 4— Whit Merrfield has a 29-game hitting streak; he’s gotten a hit in his first AB in nine of those 29 games. 

Daniel Vogelbach has homered in four straight games for Seattle. Felix Hernandez left the game in the 2nd inning with “flu-like symptoms” 

5) Louisville basketball coach Chris Mack posted a picture of himself on Twitter Monday; he is in the hospital this week, getting a knee replaced. Must be a dead period for recruiting.

4) Cubs 10, Pirates 0— Good news for the Cubs; they scored six runs in the second inning and jogged to a win in their home opener. 

Bad news for the Cubs; Jon Lester left in the 3rd inning with a hamstring injury.

3) Underrated baseball record: Ted Williams reached base safely in 84 consecutive games, which is the all-time record. Tampa Bay’s Tommy Pham has now reached base 43 games in a row, so he’s more than halfway to the record.

2) Jon Rothstein of CBS is reporting that Chris Mullin will step down as coach at St John’s this week. Apparently they’re going after Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley, who is from New Jersey, but he could be in line to replace Mike Krzyzewski at Duke when that time comes. 

If I ran St John’s, we’d give Bruce Pearl a call. Think he would be big in New York City, but not sure where he stands with the NCAA. 

1) Thought this was a poor season of college basketball; quality of play is down, the most talented players are mostly 18 years old,. Kids either jump to pro ball or transfer to a bigger name school every time they make two layups in a row. Far less continuity in teams from year to year now, which decreases the quality of play. 

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

13) A gambler at the MGM in Las Vegas had $96,000 on the money line with Virginia Saturday night; hope the guy went to church to give thanks Sunday. His $96K ticket at -$250 paid him a handsome $38,400 for two hours of stress. 

12) How is it possible that ESPN’s Sunday Night baseball hadn’t been in Denver since 2001? Maybe they should move games around more; Colorado games are fun to watch.

11) Coaching carousel:
— Arkansas hires Nevada coach Eric Musselman- when a team starts five seniors, its a good time for the coach to re-locate.
— Virginia Tech hired Wofford coach Mike Young.  

10) UCLA fired basketball coach Steve Alford on New Year’s Eve; you’d think they’d have hired a replacement by now, seeing how it is April 8th. They’ve butchered this coaching hire in epic fashion; would be they go for an alum like Earl Watson?

9) Texas Tech fired its football coach after last season; the guy winds up getting hired as head coach by the Arizona Cardinals. Four months later, Tech makes the Final Four for the first time; with big $$$ johs like UCLA/LSU open or likely to be open, will Tech be able to keep Chris Beard?

8) Pirates 7, Reds 5— Derek Dietrich homered his first time up for the Reds in this game, lingering at the plate a little to admire it. His second time up? Chris Archer throws the first pitch behind him, clearing both benches in an exchange that was a little more volatile than usual baseball dust-ups. 

Five players get thrown out, but not Archer, the guy who started everything by throwing behind the batter. As my high school chemistry teacher often said, that was nonsensical. 

Dietrich hit a second homer later in the game. 

7) Baseball injuries:
— Braves put C Brian McCann (hamstring) on the IL.
— Rangers put 1B Ronald Guzman (hamstring) on the IL.

6) Purdue G Carsen Edwards is entering the NBA Draft, after scoring 34.8 ppg in four NCAA tournament games. Will be curious to see how his game translates to the NBA. 

5) Pretty big week for Jim Nantz; he does the national title game in Minneapolis tonight, then its off to Augusta for The Masters on Thursday. 

4) Golf is hard; Jordan Spieth shot a 42 on the front nine in San Antonio Saturday, then he played the back nine in 31. Neither one of those happens much. 

3) Minnesota Vikings signed QB Sean Mannion to back up Kirk Cousins; Mannion had been with the Rams the last couple years, but LA signed Blake Bortles as a backup this winter.

2) Rockets 149, Suns 113— Houston was 27-57 behind the arc in this game, setting the all-time record for 3-pointers in an NBA game. 

1) Today would’ve been Jim (Catfish) Hunter’s 73rd birthday; he was my boyhood idol, a great pitcher who helped the A’s win three World Series. Threw a perfect game, won 224 games, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. He even knocked in three of the four runs Oakland scored the night he threw his perfect game. Hell of a big game pitcher. 

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

13) Virginia 63, Auburn 62— Wow. Virginia led 57-47 with 5:03 left, then went in the ashcan, not scoring again until they hit a 3-ball with 0:07.4 left, after Auburn had scored 14 consecutive points. Auburn fouled a 3-point shooter with 0:00.6 left; the kid makes all three foul shots and the Cavaliers are playing for the national title.

12) Texas Tech 61, Michigan State 51— Defense ruled in Minneapolis Saturday; Texas Tech held Spartans to 31% from floor in a slow 60-possession slugfest, and advance to their first national title game. Spartans were 8-23 inside arc, 7-24 on the arc. Tom Izzo drops to 2-6 in national semifinal games; you have to win a hell of a lot to get to eight Final Fours. 

11) Not sure why this happened, but Cubs/Red Sox still haven’t played a home game yet, and both teams are off to ugly starts, Chicago at 2-6, Boston at 2-8. 

Cubs especially look like a team that didn’t have any spring training; they’re first team since at least 1960 to commit catcher’s interference three games in a row.

10) Since 1984, 68 baseball teams started the season 1-6; only 3 of those 68 teams made the playoffs that year.

9) Rockets 120, Knicks 96— Houston led this game 72-43 at halftime Friday night, so it was never in doubt, but with 1:47 left and the subs playing out the string, the Rockets’ bench was mostly empty, with the starters off to the locker room, in a surprising show of disrespect. Only guy who stuck around on the Houston bench was former Knick Iman Shumpert. 

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni missed the game with the flu; assistant Jeff Bzdelik was coaching the team. There is no rule against this, but it shows a lack of class.

8) 26 of first 55 (47.3%) replay reviews this baseball season resulted in a reversal. 

7) Coaching carousel:
— Vanderbilt hired Jerry Stackhouse as its new basketball coach.
— Buffalo promoted assistant Jim Whitesell to head coach.
— Georgia State hired former Siena coach/Tennessee ass’t Rob Lanier as its coach.
— Elon hired Mike Schrage as its coach. 

6) Antoine Pettway is an assistant basketball coach at Alabama; he will be working for his 4th different head coach in Tuscaloosa next season. New coach Nate Oats retained Pettway when he was hired last week. Unusual for an assistant coach to stay so long at one place, but he also played at Alabama, and his wife went to school there, too. 

5) St John’s assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih left for Nebraska; now his big recruit for the Red Storm this year, JC point guard Cam Mack has asked for his release from St John’s. 

4) Since 2000, only one major league pitcher has thrown 140+ pitches in an April game; that was Sterling Hitchcock in 2000, and he had Tommy John surgery before 2000 was over. 

3) Baseball injuries:
— Colorado Rockies put Ryan McMahon on the IL wit a sprained elbow. Rockies called up Josh Fuentes to replace him; Fuentes is Nolan Arenado’s cousin.
— Red Sox put IF Brock Holt (scratched cornea) on the IL after his 2-year old son poked him in the eye. 

2) Vlade Divac, Sidney Moncrief, Al Attles and Jack Sikma were among 12 people voted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend. 

1) Some people never learn, I mean really never learn. 

A Florida man was arrested and charged with burglary after police say he broke into cars in the parking lot of the jail from which he had just been released on grand theft charges.

Oy.

Saturday’s List of 13: My favorite non-sports movies……

These are 13 of my favorite non-sports movies. Make your own list. 

Remember, these are my favorite movies, not the movies that are necessarily the best. Of the 50 movies USA Today listed as the best ever, I’ve seen two of them. Seriously. 

13) Runaway Jury— I’m a big fan of the John Grisham books; this was my favorite of the ones that were turned into movies. Gene Hackman plays a jury consultant whose client is a gun manufacturer; John Cusack is on the jury to manipulate the verdict.  

T12) Moon Over Parador— Richard Dreyfuss is an actor who is hired to stand in for the dictator of a Latin American country who suddenly dies. Jonathan Winters is a weird CIA agent whose wife is Polly Holliday, who played Flo in the old TV series Alice. 

T12) Dave— Made five years after Moon Over Parador, this is basically the same movie, just set in Washington, DC. 

Guy who looks just the President runs a temp service in Washington; when the real president has a stroke while screwing around with his mistress, the guy (Kevin Kline) is hired as the stand-in president. Sigourney Weaver is the First Lady. 

11) The Verdict— Paul Newman is a struggling lawyer who is handed a winning case, but winning it is easier said than done. His friend is played by Jack Warden, one of my all-time favorites.

10) The Gambler— Remake of a James Caan movie from the mid-70’s. College professor (Mark Wahlberg) seems to have an excellent life, but he has a huge gambling problem which drags him down. John Goodman plays one of the people he owes money to; he is very good in this.

9) The Bodyguard— Whitney Houston is a famous singer with a contract on her head; Kevin Costner is the ex-Secret Service hired to protect her.

8) A Few Good Men— The last scene, with Jack Nicholson on the witness stand, is tremendous. Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Pollak, JT Walsh as supporting actors is pretty strong. 

7) Leap of Faith— Steve Martin plays a traveling preacher whose bus breaks down, stranding his crew in a drought-stricken Kansas town. Miracles ensue. Liam Neeson, Debra Winger, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meat Loaf all have supporting roles. 

6) Molly’s Game— Young woman runs high stakes poker games for celebrities/rich guys, but when members of the Russian mob enter the game, things get complicated. This is a true story, and as we’re learning nowadays, real life is often stranger than fiction. 

5) Lost In Translation— Bill Murray plays a washed-up actor who is in Tokyo getting paid $2M to do a whiskey commercial. He meets Scarlett Johansson in the hotel bar and they become friends. 

4) Begin Again— Down-and-out music executive stumbles into a Manhattan bar and discovers a young singer who can resurrect his career. 

3) Good Will Hunting— Janitor at MIT can do complicated math problems better than the professors can, but he also has a criminal record, and has to get counseling for that. Robin Williams is great as the counselor. 

2) Last Vegas— Four old friends get together in Las Vegas for the bachelor party of the one bachelor in group (Michael Douglas) who is marrying a woman 40 years younger than him. It is Douglas, Robert Deniro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline. 

1) Rounders— Law student decides he’d rather play high stakes poker. The scenes with Matt Damon and his law professor (Martin Landau) are excellent. Same guys who wrote this write the great Showtime series Billions now. 

Friday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here…..

13) Interesting article Thursday on bleacherreport.com about Aaron Rodgers and how his relationship with coach Mike McCarthy disintegrated over the years. If you’re a Packer fan, it has to be disturbing. As a football fan, not sure what word I’ll use to describe it. 

“Disappointing” I guess. Rodgers comes off as kind of a creep. 

McCarthy was the 49ers’ OC when San Francisco took QB Alex Smith instead of Rodgers in the ’05 draft. Rodgers never forgave McCarthy for saying that Smith was the better QB. Maybe that chip on his shoulder is what made Rodgers a great player. Will be curious to see how Green Bay does this year with a new coach and an aging QB who doesn’t resent him. Yet.  

12) Think my biggest takeaway from the article is how long this disconnect was allowed to go on. Former Packer players say that the team should’ve won multiple Super Bowls, but that chances were squandered, and there was lot of blame to go around. An interesting read. 

11) Two guys from the AAF have already signed with NFL teams:
— Keith Reaser, a CB from Orlando, signed with Kansas City
— Rashad Ross, a WR from Arizona, signed with Carolina. 

10) When an umpire tells a manager “I can do anything I want!!” that doesn’t look good for baseball, but thats what happened in Arlington Wednesday night, with Ron Kulpa tossing Astros’ manager AJ Hinch and also Houston’s hitting coach, in the 2nd inning. 

Houston starts season with a 2-5 road trip; they’ve scored 10 runs in their last six games. 

As for Kulpa, over last seven years, under is 112-73 when he’s been behind the plate, so he is a pitcher’s friend. Last year, he worked only eight games behind the plate. 

9) A’s 7, Red Sox 3— Oakland takes three of four from Boston; Ramon Laureano threw out another baserunner from CF; he threw three guys out in this series, all at 3rd or home. 

8) Blue Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo went 2-5 in four games for the 1993 Montreal Expos, his only playing experience in the major leagues. Hard as hell to make it to the majors, so hats off to him, but Montoyo played in 1,028 minor league games, 534 of them at the AAA level. 

Imagine how frustrating it must’ve been to be that close to the majors, yet only get the call one time? I’m guessing that experience will make him a pretty good big league skipper. 

7) In the last 18 months, Texas A&M has committed $99.3M to its football/basketball coaches when they hired Jimbo Fisher, Buzz Williams away from ACC schools. 

6) Top five cities in country, with regard to adults still living at home with their parents:
— Riverside, CA 28.1%
— Miami 27% (26.5% of whom are unemployed)
— Los Angeles 26.9%
— New York 24.7%
— San Antonio 23.2%

5) Indians 4, Blue Jays 1— Trevor Bauer threw 117 pitches in seven no-hit innings in his second start of the season. Last pitcher to throw 120+ pitches in an April start? Tyson Ross threw 127 in a start last April 30. 

4) From NFL Hall of Famer Gil Brandt:
“Here’s a prediction: 4 quarterbacks will be drafted in the first 25 picks this year.”

3) Thursday was Opening Day in the minor leagues; part of being in a fantasy baseball league is checking thru boxscores and gaining knowledge. Not relevant for fantasy owners: Tim Tebow is in AAA for the Mets and went 0-4 with two strikeouts Thursday. 

2) Maybe Lebron James should coach the Lakers next year. 

1) Since 2015, Homer Bailey is 9-27 with a 6.24 ERA; he is making $23M this season.

Chris Davis is 0 for his last 37 with 21 strikeouts. He makes $23M also.

What a country.

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud……

13) Was looking at an old picture of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn tonight; the dugouts there were a lot closer to the area behind home plate than they are now. I’m guessing dugouts were also much smaller then than they are now. 

Which reminded me of an old story back when the Astros played in the Astrodome; someone told Houston’s owner that he could charge more money for seats behind the dugout, so that season, the Astrodome had the longest dugouts in major league history. Go figure. 

12) Brewers 1, Reds 0— Memo to the Milwaukee analytics geniuses: This one is simple. Every time Freddy Peralta pitches, Manny Pina catches. Every time. 

In 15 games with Pina behind the plate, batters have hit .168 vs Peralta.
In three games with other catchers, batters have hit .245 against him.

11) Nationals 9, Phillies 8— Jake Noll walked with the bases loaded to force in the winning run, handing the Phils their first loss, but he was sent to the minor leagues after the game, because Howie Kendrick comes off the DL tomorrow. 

10) Last time the Phillies started a season 4-0? How about 1915. Wow.

9) Nuggets 113, Spurs 85— I’ve thought about picking NBA games on this site, but there are a lot of reasons why I don’t want to. Players taking games off when they’re not hurt is a big one. 

Gregg Popovich got thrown out of this game 1:03 after it started, so obviously, the game didn’t mean much to him. Since the Spurs clinched a playoff spot last week, Popovich has been ejected twice in the Spurs’ last three games. 

8) Coaching carousel:
— Texas A&M hired Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams
— Fairfield hired Rutgers assistant Jay Young as its new coach.

7) Fred Hoiberg is the new basketball coach at Nebraska; he was born in Lincoln. 

His grandfather Jerry Bush coached the Cornhuskers in the late 50’s. Hoiberg’s other grandfather was a Sociology professor at Nebraska. 

6) There are two basketball Hall of Fames; there is the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA which includes all of basketball, and there is the College Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City. 

No idea what goes into the selection process for either, but this is odd:
— Jerry Tarkanian is in the Naismith HOF, but not the college basketball HOF.
— Eddie Sutton is in the college basketball HOF, but not the Naismith HOF. 

5) Virginia coach Tony Bennett banked a $250K bonus when the Cavaliers won their Sweet 16 game, and another $250K when Virginia made it to the Final Four. 

4) Fantasy baseball is funny sometimes; guy in our league cut Hunter Renfroe this week, and rightfully so, he had only started one game this season, but same night Renfroe got cut, he gets the start against Arizona and hits two homers off of Zack Greinke. Go figure. 

3) Colorado Rockies signed P German Marquez to a five-year, $43M contract extension. 

Cubs signed IF David Bote to a 5-year, $15M extension. 

2) Average salary for an NFL referee this season is scheduled to be $205,000. Pretty good part-time job.

1) Advance planning: Chicago White Sox’ home opener for Thursday afternoon was postponed at roughly noon Wednesday; it’ll be played Friday instead.

Likewise, the Cardinals’ home opener with San Diego tomorrow was also moved to Friday. 

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

13) After eight weeks of games, the AAF has suspended operations, which is sad for the people who worked there. Players only got paid for the first seven weeks of the season. 

Takes lots of money to fund a start-up league like this; there are rumors that the guy from the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes who invested in the AAF only wanted access to the technology for the league’s betting app, and once he had that, he pulled the plug on spending more money. Supposedly, he dropped $70M on this fiasco. Must be a good betting app. 

Not sure what this means, if anything, for the XFL, which starts up next spring. 

12) So it is April 2 and here in upstate New York, spring is slowly emerging. It was 46 degrees when I left my house today; in the bank, a guy in line behind me was wearing shorts. Oy. 

11) Ronald Acuña signed a $100M extension with the Braves that keeps his contract under team control until 2028. Team-friendly deal. 

10) Seattle TV analyst Mike Blowers told an interesting story Monday night:

Blowers was playing for the Mariners in the mid-90’s; Lou Piniella (a noted hothead) was the manager. Blowers made two errors in the 9th inning that cost Seattle the last game of a road trip. Blowers: “Lou was sitting towards the front of the plane; he wasn’t real happy with me.”

Next game for Seattle is a home game; Blowers comes to the plate for the first time, and is booed when his name is announced. He hits a grand slam. 

Second time up, Blowers is still booed a little; he hits a 3-run homer. 

Third time up, Blowers gets a standing ovation. 

Lessons: Baseball is a tough game; people are fickle. 

9) Washington Wizards fired team president Ernie Grunfeld after 16 seasons; Wizards are having their first losing season in six years. Washington hasn’t been to a conference final since 1979, so the franchise’s issues go way back before Grunfeld was around. 

8) Last Thursday, Michael Reed started in RF on Opening Day for the Giants; he went 0-8 with six strikeouts in four games and Tuesday, he was designated for assignment. Produce or else. 

7) Nationals’ SS Trea Turner tried to bunt last night; the ball hit his finger and he left the game, with what looked a lot like a broken finger. 

6) Former tennis star Billie Jean King is a minority owner of the LA Dodgers. 

5) Few years ago, I’m driving thru New Jersey and stop for gas. I get out of the car and start pumping the gas, and this little Asian guy comes running out of the store, yelling at me, waving his arms. Apparently it is illegal in New Jersey to pump your own gas. Who knew? 

Funny thing, they pump it for you but the gas is still cheaper than it is in New York. 

4) From Christopher Kamka: Last time Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks all won on the same day was April 21, 2012, the day Philip Humber threw a perfect game for the White Sox.

3) Puerto Rico has a larger population than 21 of the 50 states.

2) Lipscomb 71, Wichita State 64— Shockers led by 11 in second half, but veteran Lipscomb team rallied back, scored last 14 points of the game and will play for the NIT title Thursday night. 

Texas 58, TCU 44— If you had Texas-Lipscomb in your NIT brackets, you’re about to get paid. TCU beat the Longhorns twice during the regular season, but came up empty here.

1) Arizona 8, San Diego 5— Zack Greinke hit two home runs, struck out 10 Padres.  

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

13) Being involved in fantasy baseball and handicapping baseball teaches you patience; it is a very long season. There is a tendency to overreact to stuff that happens in the first week of the season, but as the cliche goes, it is a marathon, not a sprint. 

12) Go through this every year; baseball players get hurt.
— Giancarlo Stanton (biceps strain) goes on the IL.
— 3B Miguel Andujar (labrum tear in shoulder) also went on the IL.
— Rays put 3B Joey Wendle (hamstring) on IL.
— Toronto put P Clayton Richard (knee) on IL. 

11) Cardinals 6, Pirates 5 (11)— Chris Archer threw five shutout innings, bullpen blew a 4-0 lead. Archer threw 99 pitches in those five innings. Pirates wound up using eight relievers over the last six innings.

10) Orioles 6, Blue Jays 5— David Hess threw 6.1 hitless innings (82 pitches), then was taken out of the game. Toronto quickly scored two runs; Orioles hung on for dear life. 

9) Braves 8, Cubs 0— Chicago made five errors in first five innings of this game; they’ve lost the last three days, giving up 26 runs. Rough start to the season. 

8) Mets 7, Marlins 3— Pete Alonso hit his first major league homer, a 440-foot blast, in front of 6,489 fans, most of whom were rooting for the visitors from New York. 

7) Belmont basketball coach Rick Byrd is retiring after coaching the Bruins for 33 years. Byrd won 805 games and made NCAA tournament eight times. 

Belmont led the country in 2-point FG% in five of the last seven seasons. 

6) If you bet on AAF games, some info thru eight weeks:
— Favorites are 22-10 SU, 16-16 vs spread
— Home teams are 18-14 SU, 16-16 vs spread.
— Under is 18-13-1. 

5) Red Sox signed SS Xander Bogaerts to a 7-year, $132M contract extension. 

4) There is a new minor league team this year, the Amarillo Sod Poodles, AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Minor league nicknames are getting weirder and weirder. 

3) Phillies had four sellouts all of last year; after three home games this season, they’ve already had three sellouts. Curious to see what kind of reaction Bryce Harper gets in Washington when the Phillies play there tonight. 

2) Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper has laid off one-third of its staff. 20 years ago, the paper had 340 journalists; now it’s down to 33.

1. Normal field for a PGA Tour event is 144 golfers, but The Masters has a different set of requirements. Right now, only 86 players have qualified for next week’s tournament, which would be the smallest field at Augusta since 1997.


Monday’s List of 13: Happy April Fools’ Day

13) Auburn 77, Kentucky 71 OT— Last time they played, Kentucky beat Auburn by 27. Not this time, and Charles Barkley’s alma mater is going to the Final Four for the first time. Auburn beat Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky in its last three games; not bad. 

Kentucky poached Stanford’s best player (a senior) and surrounded him with three freshmen and a sophomore; college basketball has become more like baseball, where kids jump to where they think the grass is greener, trying to get to the NBA. 

Sometimes that grass is greener, sometimes it isn’t. You can get to the NBA from anywhere.

12) Nine of the 16 coaches in the Sweet 16 had already been to a Final Four. Chris Beard, Bruce Pearl and Tony Bennett will all be going to their first one.

11) Michigan State 68, Duke 67— Spartans trailed by 9 in first half, by 3 with 1:51 left, but survived 2-6 shooting on the foul line to get their first Final Four since 2015. 

Final Four is a #1-seed, #2-seed, #3-seed, #5-seed. 

10) San Francisco 49ers sold two seats inside their War Room on draft night to two people who paid $11,000 each for that experience. The $22,000 will supposedly go to a charity. 

9) SI.com did a survey of NFL scouts about which colleges are the best ones to visit when they evaluate players, and Alabama was far and away chosen as the most accommodating. 

On Alabama’s 2012 team, all 22 starters played in the NFL. I’m guessing that hasn’t happened much. It also helps recruiting.

8) West Virginia F Lamont West is transferring to Missouri State, which is not a step up or even a lateral move, but he should score more than the 12.1 ppg he averaged LY, starting 20 of the 36 Mountaineer games. 

7) Over half the NFL owners (17 of 32) inherited their teams. Only seven of 30 NBA owners inherited their team. 

6) In 20 games for Milwaukee against the Cardinals. Christian Yelich has 10 homers, 23 RBI and 22 runs scored. 

5) If I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan, and I hear coach Doug Pederson say “Carson Wentz has it in him to be a better teammate” well, that would worry me. The last thing you should be worrying about is if your quarterback is a good teammate. 

4) Dodgers 18, Diamondbacks 5— Third game of the season Saturday night, and Arizona used a catcher to pitch the 7th/8th innings. Seriously, in the third game of the year? 

Then the Dodgers let catcher Russell Martin pitch the 9th inning, when they were winning, albeit 18-5. When was last time both teams used a position player to pitch in same game?

3) Minnesota Twins’ starters Berrios/Odorizzi both struck out 10+ guys in their first start, just 2nd time EVER a team had that happen in their first two games of a season. Diamondbacks in 2001 also did it, with Randy Johnson/Curt Schilling. 

2) San Diego Padres’ rookie pitcher Chris Paddack was thrown out at first base by the RF on what appeared to be a sharp single to right in his first MLB at-bat, with the bases loaded. I’m guessing that hasn’t happened very often. 

1) Orlando 34, Memphis 31— Memphis was up 31-28 with 2:40 left on a rainy day; the snap goes right through the punter’s hands, and Orlando gets the wet ball on the 26-yard line and wins the game. 

Refs missed a delay of game penalty on Orlando on the last play before the 2:00 warning, and Mike Singletary went off, getting two unsportsmanlike penalties during the 2:00 warning. Had the feel of a semi-pro game, which isn’t a good look for a new league.

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

13) Texas Tech 75, Gonzaga 69— Red Raiders make their first-ever trip to the Final Four. Gonzaga was in Elite 8 for third time in five years; they’re 1-2 in Elite 8 games. 

It is easy to sit here and say that Texas Tech was toughened up by playing in a better league than Gonzaga plays in— Zags thrash everyone in their league every year. Not sure thats why Tech won this game, but they’re athletic as hell and they play very good defense. 

Red Raiders also lost five of their top seven players from last year’s team; to make the Final Four with that much turnover on your roster is very impressive. 

12) This trend has legs, but I’m not sure why. Over the last 22 years, underdogs are now 18-4 vs spread in the final of the West Region, 13-9 SU. 

11) Virginia 80, Purdue 75 OT— Tremendous game. Damn shame someone had to lose. 

Purdue’s Carsen Edwards scored 42 points, with no assists; not sure why he passed the ball on their last possession, but he threw the ball away. Amazing shooting performance. 

Over the last 40 years, Purdue has had only two basketball coaches, Gene Keady, Matt Painter; Drake and Siena have had three coaches the last three years. 

Solid lookalike submitted by The Professor: Matt Painter and WWE’s Shane McMahon. 

10) Auburn F Chuma Okeke tore his ACL, is having surgery Tuesday, very bad news for Auburn’s hopes of going to the Final Four. 

9) When the 3-point shot became a thing in the NBA for the 1979-80 season, there were players in the NBA who believed that 3-pointers should only be allowed in the 4th quarter, and kind of a come-from-behind gimmick. 

Was funny reading that this week, seeing how prominent 3-pointers have become in both pro and college basketball.

8) Regional finals with teams from same league, last 10 years:
2017: South Carolina (+3) 77, Florida 70
2016: North Carolina (-6.5) 88, Notre Dame 74
            Syracuse (+6.5) 68, Virginia 62
2013: Syracuse (-2.5) 55, Providence 39

Auburn-Kentucky play in a regional final today. 

7) Nebraska hired Fred Hoiberg as basketball coach, will pay him $3.57M a year, thats 3rd-highest salary in Big 14, 11th-highest in country. 

6) Lakers will sit Lebron James down for the last six games of what has been a forgettable 34-42 season. 

LA Clippers are 12-2 in March, the NBA’s best record this month.

5) Detroit Tigers lost 3-0 Saturday; they’ve lost two of their first three games, with only runs they’ve scored so far this week in 10th inning Thursday. So in three games, Detroit hasn’t scored yet in innings 1-9. Oy. 

4) There is a gambling thing in Las Vegas that is a little weird; in NCAA tourney games, you can bet on which team will get to 15 points first. Random wager to create more action. 

I was at the MGM Grand for the 2010 NCAA’s, and I’m watching Northern Iowa, and some kid makes a basket- the three young guys next to me start jumping up and down and hugging each other. I actually asked them if the kid that scored was their brother. 

They explained that they won their “first to 15” bet. Had never heard of it before. If you had a lot of extra time, you could research all that, but not even I would enjoy researching all that. 

3) When Jacob deGrom/Max Scherzer both struck out 10+ guys Thursday, it was only the second time EVER that both starters struck out 10+ on Opening Day. 

Back in 1970 in an Orioles-Indians opener, Dave McNally and Sam McDowell both struck out 10+, and McNally wasn’t a big strikeout guy. 

2) Crowds at Rockies-Marlins in Miami? 6,503 Friday, 7,642 Saturday. 

Colorado’s Daniel Murphy broke a finger on his left hand Friday, is going on the DL. 

1) Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 4 (13)— This Friday night game lasted until 4:13am Saturday morning; at one point, the home plate ump got drilled in the mask by a pitch that totally crossed up the catcher- he left the game couple innings later, after the 11th inning. 

This was longest regular season game, in terms of time, in Dodger Stadium history.

Saturday’s List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) Auburn 97, North Carolina 80— Didn’t see this coming. Since 1993, Tar Heels were 13-1 in this round; not sure if Nassir Little’s illness was a factor, but the whole team looked sick and kind of lackluster. 

NCAA enforcement people must be thrilled; Auburn had one assistant coach indicted last year, another one has been suspended as part of the adidas payoff scandal. Now the Tigers are in the Elite 8 for only the second time (1986). Go figure. 

Bad news for Auburn; they lost F Chuma Okeke with a knee injury that the Auburn people said was likely a serious one.

12) Duke 75, Virginia Tech 73— Understood that this is irrelevent, but Duke is 0-3 vs spread in this tournament, 3-12 vs spread in their last 15 games. Tre Jones was shooting 23.2% on the arc before this game; he went 5-7 Friday and saved the Blue Devils’ butts. 

Buzz Williams is supposedly off to Texas A&M next season; if he doesn’t already have a deal with the Aggies, his price tag probably went up a little during this game. 

11) Michigan State 80, LSU 63— Spartans get to the Elite 8 for first time in four years; since 2005, Izzo is 4-1 in Elite 8 games. As for LSU, their search for a new coach heads into high gear, since HC Will Wade is also part of the adidas debacle. 

10) Kentucky 62, Houston 58— Tyler Herro scored the last five points of the game; Kentucky will play SEC rival Auburn in the regional final Sunday. 

9) Cardinals 9, Brewers 5— In his second game for the Cardinals, Paul Goldschmidt hit three home runs. 

8) Opening Day rosters in the major leagues have 251 players who were born outside this country, representing 20 different countries and territories. 

7) Coaching carousel:
— Cal Bears hired former Nevada/Georgia coach Mark Fox. 

6) Brewers closer Corey Knebel will undergo Tommy John surgery next week; Josh Hader is expected to do most of the closing for Milwaukee. 

5) Angels OF Justin Upton will be out 8-12 weeks (turf toe). 

4) West Virginia could have eight returning basketball players next season, but four of them put their names in the transfer portal, which means they might transfer. They don’t have to, but obviously they’re looking into it. Mountaineers could have as many as nine scholarships open. 

3) This was Virginia’s third Sweet 16 in the last six years; it is their second Elite 8. In the 13 years before Tony Bennett got to Charlottesville, Virginia won a total of one NCAA tournament game.

2) Colorado 6, Miami 1— CF Ian Desmond robbed Lewis Brinson of a game-tying homer in the 8th inning, then the Rockies tacked on four runs in the ninth. Strong outing for Colorado P Marquez, who is very good away from Coors Field. 

1) Memo to directors of televised baseball games; on fly balls, show the outfielder, not the ball. The outfielder(s) will tell you where the ball is going. Showing the ball in the air is useless. 

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a very busy Thursday…….

13) Purdue 99, Tennessee 94 OT— Vols trailed by 12 at the half; they were 4-13 on the foul line in the first half, 7-9 in the second, 3-6 in OT. Purdue was 16-33 on the foul line. 

Second half of this game was outstanding, exciting basketball. Ryan Cline made 7-10 shots behind the arc; Tennessee was 12-24 on the arc, but made only one of last five. Wild game. 

2011 Florida Gators were last team to play consecutive OT games in NCAA’s; Gators beat BYU in the Sweet 16, then lost to Butler in the Elite 8. Same results for Tennessee here. 

12) Virginia 53, Oregon 49— Teams combined to go 18-58 on arc; Virginia led 30-22 at the half, but were down 3 with 5:30 left. Ducks scored only four points in last 5:44 of this game. 

Virginia’s Kyle Guy was shooting 43.9% on arc coming into this game, but he was 2-11 here, and is now 5 for his last 31 over the last four games. They’ll need more from him Saturday. 

11) Gonzaga 72, Florida State 58— Seminoles went 3-20 on the arc, were out-rebounded 45-36 and went down fairly meekly. 

10) Texas Tech 63, Michigan 44— Not even close; Red Raiders thrashed Michigan here, holding Wolverines to 1-19 shooting on arc (starters were 0-14). Tech won 12 of its last 13 games; their next game is Saturday against Gonzaga. 

9) Brewers 5, Cardinals 4— Lorenzo Cain ended the game by robbing Jose Martinez of a game-tying home run. Excellent catch. 

If you like to play over/under on first five innings of a game, Thursday’s results: 8-7 under. 

8) Dodgers 12, Diamondbacks 5— Dodgers hit eight home runs, a record for Opening Day.

7) Coaching carousel:
— Niagara hired Patrick Beilein (John’s son) as its coach.
— Southern Illinois promoted assistant Bryan Mullins to head coach.
— Appalachian State named Dustin Kerns coach. 

6) Astros 5, Rays 1— George Springer homered on Opening Day for the third year in a row. 

5) Teams with five different Opening Day starting pitchers the last five years:
White Sox, Reds, Brewers, Padres. 

4) Tigers 2, Blue Jays 0 (10)— Excellent pitching duel between Zimmerman/Stroman was decided in extra innings when Christin Stewart homered for Detroit. 

3) Mets 2, Nationals 0— Robinson Cano drove in both runs to back up  a brilliant six innings tossed by Jacob deGrom. 

2) Mariners 12, Red Sox 4— Seattle treated Chris Sale like a piñata, getting seven runs in three innings against him. Mariners won two games in Japan, are off to a 3-0 start. 

Edgar Martinez was in the ESPN booth for part of this game and Alex Rodriguez did a great job of picking his brain about hitting-related things. Obviously they played together for several years and A-Rod has a lot of respect for a guy who was a seriously tremendous hitter. 

1) Reds 5, Pirates 3— Derek Dietrich hit a pinch-hit, 3-run homer in the 7th inning, as Cincinnati came from behind and won its opener. 

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

13) So far this spring. UNLV fired Marvin Menzies and Vanderbilt fired Bryce Drew, both after their third season at that school, after seasons where their best player didn’t play after Christmas. Here are the details:

— Menzies was 48-52 in three years at UNLV, 23-31 in Mountain West.
— Drew was 40-59 in three years at Vanderbilt, 16-38 in SEC.

By way of comparison, here is how another coach did in his first three years at his current job:

— Unnamed coach: 38-47 at School A, 13-29 in conference games.

In other words, if Duke had hired Mike Krzyzewski three years ago, he’d be fired by now. 

12) A person who has money to burn bet $500 on the Baltimore Orioles to win the World Series this year at 1,000-1 odds. Orioles were 47-115 last year, so good luck with that.

11) How is it Opening Day and Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still free agents? 

10) Coaching carousel:
— Alabama hired hoop coach Nate Oats, who 13 days ago signed an extension with Buffalo.
— Stetson hired former UCF head coach Donnie Jones.
— UNLV hired South Dakota State coach TJ Otzenberger.
— Jackrabbits then replaced Otzenberger with assistant coach Eric Henderson
— San Francisco promoted assistant Todd Golden to replace Kyle Smith as HC. 

9) Alabama guards John Petty, Kira Lewis, Jr. and Dazon Ingram all announced that they’re transferring out of Alabama’s program; this was before the Crimson Tide hired Oats.

8) Eight different major league teams used a 4-man outfield at least once LY, all against left-handed hitters. Hitters that saw it the most? Lucas Duda and Joey Gallo (7 games). Overall, hitters were 10-37 (.270) when the defense had four OF’s. 

7) Last year, 42 different major league players played 5+ different positions. 

6) Random golf stat: 2018 European Ryder Cup golf team went 11-1 Thursday in the Match Play tournament in Texas. The guys on the American team went 4-5-2 (Rickie Fowler isn’t playing this week). 

5) Teams with best win %age in Sweet 16 games (minimum 12 games):
— Michigan 13-3, last in 2018
— Oklahoma State 11-3, last in 2005
— North Carolina 27-8, last in 2017

— Kentucky 36-12, last in 2-18

4) Charlotte Hornets were 2-0 against the Spurs this season, first time they swept the season series with San Antonio since 1996-97. 

3) Oakland A’s traded minor league IF Jesus Lopez, international signing bonus pool space to Toronto for 1B/DH Kendrys Morales. 

2) Fernando Tatis Jr. will be 20 years, 85 days old on Opening Day; if he plays, he will be the youngest player to play on Opening Day since Adrian Beltre in 1999. 

1) Today is Opening Day in baseball, always a day full of optimism- if you can’t be optimistic when you’re 0-0, when can you be? Not every team has realistic hopes of making the playoffs this year, but you never know. At this time last year, I had zero hope of the A’s making the playoffs, but they wound up winning 97 games!!! Enjoy the season. 

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

13) Bad news for the Arizona Diamondbacks; Steven Souza Jr. has an ACL tear, LCL tear, partial PCL tear, and posterior lateral capsule tear in his left knee. He is done for this season.

12) Milwaukee’s Mike Moustakas led off the bottom of the 2nd vs Toronto Tuesday by bunting to third base for an easy hit against the shift. What pitcher will be the first one to snap over giving up hits to batters who are smart enough to just bunt the ball where no one is? 

You know some pitchers have to hate the shift, especially when it doesn’t help them. 

11) Dodgers shifted against Angels’ 2B David Fletcher early Monday night, but he just poked a grounder thru the right side for an easy hit. Fletcher has no power, but he does control the bat well; it is bleeping stupid to over-shift against him. This is analytics gone wild.

10) Random stat of the day; in his last 11 NCAA tournament games, Rick Barnes’ teams are 1-9-1 against the spread. Since 2002, Barnes is 3-2 SU in Sweet 16 games; his last one was in 2008. 

9) Bruce Pearl’s comment about his Auburn team playing North Carolina this week: 

“Take the over.” 

Over in this game is 164, which is pretty steep.

8) Coaching carousel:
— BYU told coach Dave Rose to take a hike after 14 years with the Cougars.
— Arkansas fired coach Mike Anderson after eight years.
— Nebraska fired Tim Miles; his likely replacement is Fred Hoiberg.
— Washington State hired San Francisco coach Kyle Smith.
— Cal Poly hired former Riverside CC coach/Fullerton assistant John Smith.
— UMKC hired former Wright State coach Billy Donlon.
— Mercer is going to hire Purdue assistant Greg Gary.
— Former Tex-Arlington coach Scott Cross is back in Sun Belt; he is the new coach at Troy.

7) That means four of 14 SEC coaching jobs are open; considering that seven SEC teams made the NCAA’s, then South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri are only teams not to make NCAA’s that didn’t fire their coach. Georgia’s coach has been there one year, Missouri’s two years. 

6) One thing that bugs me about the NBA; why does the team’s star always HAVE TO take the last shot? Portland had the ball at the end of the first OT Monday night in a tie game and the Nets double-teamed Damian Lillard and he never passed the ball, taking a 35-footer. Why? 

5) Watched Dodgers-Angels exhibition game Monday night and it is weird watching the Angels and seeing someone other than Mike Scioscia managing the team. 

4) Guy in Ohio named Gregg Nigl has a perfect bracket thru the first two rounds, so he deserves to be congratulated. Well done sir!!!

3) Jason deGrom signed a 5-year, $137,5M extension with the Mets. 

2) Portland C Jusuf Nurkic suffered a compound fractures to the tibia and fibula of his lower left leg in the second OT of the Nets-Blazers game Monday night. The injury was so gruesome, guys on the Nets who were near Nurkic when he fell ran away from the area. 

1) Some day soon, when they make a movie about Michael Avenatti and the last year or so of his life, it is going to be a weird and fast-moving story. Avenatti has been all over TV for the last year or so, but now he is in big legal trouble in California, charged with wire fraud and extortion.

Just seems like sometimes people get famous quickly and the fame is addictive and it makes them do nutty things. Being obscure isn’t such a bad thing. 

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

13) Duke beat Central Florida by a point Sunday. In the 25:00 Tacko Fall played, UCF was +16; they were -17 in the 15:00 he didn’t play. Pretty telling stat. 

12) Denver Broncos suggested the NFL borrow the AAF’s version of onside kicks where a team can go for an “onside kick” by running a 4th-and-12 play from their own 28-yard line after a score, if they’re down by 17+ points, or trailing with 5:00 or less left in the game. 

After the 4th-and-12 play, the game just continues from there. 

NFL competition committee voted 7-1 in favor of this rule; Giants’ owner John Mara was the one vote against it, saying “What are we, the Arena Football League?”

24 of the 32 owners would have to vote “Yes” for it to become an actual rule. 

11) From MetsMerizedOnline.com:

Mets owner Fred Wilpon is buying back a 12% stake of the team for about $180M, which  values the Mets at about $1.5B, a lot less than the $2.1B Forbes magazine valued it at last year. If these numbers are right, thats a 28% decrease in value, in only one year. 

The Wilpons now own 68% of the team, which is bad news for Mets fans everywhere. 

10) Bears-Packers will be the Thursday night game in Week 1 of the NFL this season; this is the NFL’s 100th season, and Green Bay-Chicago is the league’s oldest rivalry. 

New England will open at home on Sunday Night Football. 

9) Milwaukee Brewers are playing couple of exhibition games against the Blue Jays in Montreal this week, but Ryan Braun forgot his passport, so he won’t be there. Whoops. 

8) Ron Darling was talking on the Mets’ game the other day about how the Seattle Mariners have it worse than any other baseball team, as far as travel goes, since Seattle is way up there in the Pacific Northwest, pretty far away from all their opponents, except Oakland. 

He was talking about Robinson Cano being 36 years old and how many games he will play this season. Darling said Cano should still be able to play 140 or so games, since the Mets’ travel will be a lot less arduous than the Mariners’ was. 

7) Showtime has a 4-part series called Action airing this month, about the growth of legalized gambling. In the first show, a well-known professional gambler named Bill Krackomberger is profiled; they show him betting thousands of dollars ($3,300 a game) on several NFL games, yet he says that he probably cannot name 15 players in the NFL. 

A friend in the same business confirmed that this is probably true. I’ve known of this guy for years as a sharp bettor; it is amazing to me that a guy can win betting the NFL but can’t at least name every starting QB in the league. 

6) Johnny Manziel made his AAF debut for Memphis Sunday, going 3-5 for 48 yards passing, and running ball twice for 20 yards in his backup role. Starter Brandon Silvers won the game for Memphis, though, leading the game-tying drive in the last minute of regulation, then leading another TD drive in overtime.

Silvers, who played college ball at Troy, was 24-35 for 266 yards and two TDs. 

That was the first overtime game in AAF history, by the way. 

5) One thing I won’t miss about spring training ending; games where both teams are wearing the same color jersey. 

4) When a player breaks his bat in a major league game, they actually sell the bat at concession stands in the stadium, and broken bats ain’t cheap. 

I was in Philadelphia couple years ago, and was looking at the game-used items they sell there; jerseys, baseballs, bats, bases. Made the mistake of grabbing a bat by the barrel and got pine tar all over my hands. Sticky stuff. 

3) In the last two weeks, Auburn won six games, counting the SEC tournament and then their two NCAA tournament wins. In the previous 13 years combined, Auburn had won a total of seven postseason games. 

2) Jazz 125, Suns 92— Devin Booker scored 59 points in this one-sided game; Jimmer Fredette went 1-10 in 14:00 off the bench in his first NBA game in three years. 

Booker stayed in the game in the last 0:20 with the Suns down 33, trying to get 60 points, but Utah fouled someone else intentionally so he couldn’t get the ball. 

1) If you follow comments that Celtics players/coaches have made this season, sounds like they’re all having a miserable season. Boston is 43-31, right now they’re the #5-seed in the East but you get the impression they won’t be too unhappy when the season ends, and they can all go their separate ways.