Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday, with some venting included

13) Major League Baseball has a great product, but they’re TERRIBLE at promoting it.

I watch baseball every night, at least 5-6 hours a night, more than that on weekends, but until Saturday, I had no idea that the 2,000,000th run in major league history was going to be scored this weekend. How is this possible? How could this not be promoted, talked about????

The commissioner should be fired for this; the 2,000,000th run would’ve been something they could’ve promoted all season, had contests as to who would score the 2,000,000th run. Instead, crickets.

What are they thinking about?!?!?!?!

12) I’m 61 years old; when I was 15, the millionth run in major league history was scored, and believe me, MLB made a big deal out of it.
— There was a cash prize given to whatever guy scored the 1,000,000th run.
— Couple guys hit home runs that last day and sprinted around the bases, thinking they might be THAT guy (this was way before the Interweb).
— A candy company was giving away stuff connected to the 1,000,000th run; it was fun.

Bob Watson of the Astros scored the 1,000,000th run that year; pretty sure he scored it on a Sunday afternoon, maybe in San Francisco?

Anyway, the point is that baseball is a great sport, but the people who run baseball act like they don’t like baseball— this is a problem. They’re the problem; the game is just fine.

11) By the way, Bob Watson was a .295 career hitter who drove in 989 runs in his career, yet the thing I remember him for is scoring that 1,000,00th run. 

It was a big deal back then; it should’ve been a big deal this month.

10) Padres 11, Astros 8 (12)
— Tatis his a foul pop that should’ve been the last out in the 9th inning, but it wasn’t caught; he then tied the game with a 3-run homer.
— Wil Myers hit a 3-run homer in the 12th for the win.
— This was San Diego’s 4th straight extra inning game; the record is five, set by the 1908 Tigers.

9) Astros played the Dodgers/Padres at home this week.
— Last two games, they’re 3-32 with runners in scoring position.
— This week, in four games, Houston’s bullpen allowed 25 runs in 16.2 IP.

8) There are some really bad teams this season:
— Arizona has lost 13 games in a row.
— Baltimore has lost 12 games in a row.
— Colorado is 3-22 on the road, shut out nine times in those 22 losses.

Maybe these teams should dump the over-educated imbeciles in their front offices, and hire some old-school baseball people who know how to construct a roster. Or maybe if Colorado paid Arenado, or Arizona paid Goldschmidt, those teams wouldn’t be so bad.

7) Bucks 120, Heat 103:
— Milwaukee sweeps series 4-0, winning last three games by 34-29-17 points.

6) 76ers 132, Wizards 103:
— Sixers lead series 3-0, winning last two games by 25-29 points.

5) Jazz 121, Grizzlies 111:
— Utah grabs home court advantage back, leads series 2-1.
— Jazz made 19-43 on the arc; Conley made 7-10.

4) Trailblazers 115, Nuggets 95:
— Series is tied 2-2; NBA office has to be relieved there is one good series.
— Worst plus-minus for the Portland starters was +16; they cruised in this game.
— Portland held Denver to 47 first half points, a big improvement.

3) If you’re on Twitter, follow former NBA player Rex Chapman; he gets some great stuff sent to him, and he retweets it, most all of it good natured, fun stuff.

Saturday he posted a video of a woman juggling, but the camera was over her head; it was a very unique way of watching someone juggle. Pretty cool actually.

2) Last time the NHL went thru a playoff season without at least one series going to seven games? Way back in 1977.

1) RIP to Gavin MacLeod, 90, who passed away this weekend. He had two great television roles:
— He was Murray Slaughter, a writer at WJM TV on Mary Tyler Moore Show. His job basically was to bust anchorman Ted Baxter’s chops.
— Then he graduated to his big role, Captain Stubing on The Love Boat.

168 episodes of Mary Tyler Moore, 250 episodes of Love Boat; the man was in our living rooms an awful lot, from 1970-1987. A terrific actor. RIP, sir. 

Tuesday’s Den: Trends for National League teams

Diamondbacks:
— Lost their last 13 road games.
— 3-8 at home, if they score less than 7 runs.
— Lost nine of ten one-run games.

Braves:
— 20-7 if they score 5+ runs, 3-17 if they do not.
— Lost last four home series openers.
— Lost five of six extra-inning games.

Cubs:
— Won 8 of their last ten home games.
— 11-3 vs lefty starters, 13-19 vs righties.
— Under is 6-2 in their last eight road games.

Reds:
— Lost six of their last seven home games.
— 11-3 in games where winning run scores from 7th inning on.
— Over is 8-2-1 in their last 11 road games.

Rockies:
— Lost 17 of their first 20 road games.
— Won six of last eight home games.
— 8-5 vs lefty starters, 11-24 vs righties.

Dodgers:
— 16-5 so far against their NL West rivals.
— Won nine of last ten home games.
— 5-2 in home series openers, 2-5 in road series openers.

Marlins:
— Won eight of their last 11 home games.
— 2-6 in road series openers.
— 4-9 in one-run games.

Brewers:
— Lost 10 of last 15 home games.
— 3-6 vs lefty starters, 21-17 vs righties.
— 8-5 in one-run games, 4-2 in extra innings. 

Mets
— Currently have 16 players on injured list.
— 11-5 at home, 10-15 on the road.
— 10-5 in games where winning run scores from 7th inning on.

Phillies:
— 15-10 at home, 8-15 on road.
— Under is 6-2 in their last eight road games.
— Scored in 1st inning in six of last ten road games.

Pirates:
— Lost 8 of their last ten road games.
— Lost five of six home series openers.
— 7-16 vs division rivals, 11-12 vs everyone else.

Cardinals:
— Won six of last eight home games.
— 10-6 in series openers.
— 13-7 vs NL Central rivals, 13-14 vs everyone else.

Padres:
— Won their last ten home games.
— 6-0 vs American League teams.
— Over is 12-4 in their last sixteen games.

Giants:
— 13-5 in day games, 1-4 in extra inning games.
— 10-5 in series openers.
— Scored in first inning in six of last 11 road games.

Nationals:
— 12-10 at home, 8-13 on the road.
— 6-4 in games where winning run scores from 7th inning on.
— Under is 8-2 in their last ten home games.

Tuesday’s Den: Schedule notes for AFC teams

Ravens:
— Three of their first four games are on the road.
— They play in Denver October 3; their next road game isn’t til November 11.
— Weeks 10-14, they play four road games in five weeks.

Bills:
— Four primetime games; three of them are on the road.
— Play in New Orleans Thanksgiving night.
— Two games with New England are late, in weeks 13/16.

Bengals:
— Only primetime game is Week 4 vs Jacksonville.
— Weeks 6-8; three straight road games.
— Four of their first six games are against NFC North teams.

Browns:
— Go to Baltimore in Week 12, have Week 13 bye, host Ravens in Week 14
— Have three primetime games, including January 3 in Pittsburgh.
— Christmas Day at Lambeau Field should be nice and toasty.

Broncos:
— Four of their first seven games are in Eastern time zone.
— Only primetime game: Week 7 in Cleveland.
— Play Chargers/Chiefs in Weeks 12-13, then again in Weeks 17-18.

Texans:
— 13 games at 1:00 Sunday; not a lot of faith from the NFL.
— Only primetime game: Week 3 vs Carolina.
— From October 11-November 27, have only one home game.

Colts:
— Weeks 3-5: three straight road games.
— Three of their four primetime games are on the road.
— Week 14 bye; latest possible bye.

Jaguars:
— Only primetime game: Week 4 at Cincinnati.
— Weeks 16-17 at Jets/Patriots, cold weather games.
— Week 6, they play the Dolphins over in England.

Chiefs:
— From October 25-December 15, have only one road game.
— Three of their last four games are on the road.
— Week 16 Thursday game at Chargers is long trip on short week.

Raiders:
— First Allegiant Stadium game with fans; Week 1 Monday nighter vs Ravens.
— Play the Cowboys in Dallas Thanksgiving Day.
— Weeks 14-15, have consecutive trips east, to Kansas City/Cleveland.

Chargers:
— First SoFi Stadium game with fans: Week 2 vs Dallas.
— Have three primetime games, all at home.
— Play Chiefs in Week 3, then not again until Week 15.

Dolphins:
— Play New England in Week 1, then not again until Week 18
— In Week 6, play Jaguars over in England.
— Have only two 4:00 games, none after Week 3.

Patriots:
— Host Tom Brady/Buccaneers in Week 4 Sunday night game.
— Patriots’ other two primetime games are on road.
— Four of their eight road games are in domes.

Jets:
— Visit Sam Darnold/Panthers in season opener.
— In Week 5, play Falcons over in England.
— Only night game: Week 9 Thursday game at Indianapolis.

Steelers:
— Play the normal five primetime games, three of them at home.
— Play rival Ravens in Weeks 13/18.
— Host Las Vegas in Week 2, after Raiders played on Monday nite in Week 1.

Titans:
— Week 16 Thursday game vs 49ers is tough spot for the visitors.
— Play 13 games at 1:00 Sunday; not lot of faith from the NFL.
— Week 2 at Seattle is their only 4:00 game all season. 

Friday’s Den: Schedule notes for NFC teams

Cardinals:
— Three primetime games, all at home.
— Three of first four games are on the road.
— Their last game outdoors is Week 13,

Falcons:
— Play Jets in England in Week 6, have the early Week 6 bye
— Only prime-time game is Week 11 vs New England.
— January 2nd in Buffalo could be dicey for a dome team.

Panthers:
— Sam Darnold faces his old team (Jets) in Week 1.
— Week 3 at Houston is their only primetime game.
— Play division rival Buccaneers in weeks 16/18.

Bears:
— Their odd-numbered games are all on road, even-numbered games all at home
— Three of their four primetime games are on road.
— Play division rival Vikings in weeks 15/18.

Cowboys:
— Play three straight weeks on road, in weeks 13-15.
— Three of their last five games are NFC East road games.
— Have four primetime games, plus they play the Raiders on Thanksgiving.

Lions:
— Only primetime game is week 2 at Green Bay
— Lions visit Rams and old friend Matthew Stafford in week 7.
— Road games at Green Bay/Chicago are in September; they visit Denver in Week 14.

Packers:
— Play primetime games in weeks 2-3, have five night games overall.
— Host Detroit in Week 2, don’t visit the Lions until Week 18.
— Have only six 1:00 games; lot of national TV dates.

Rams:
— First two games are against teams with new QB’s this season.
— Jared Goff and Lions visit in Week 7
— Host Arizona in Week 4, then have Thursday game in Seattle four days later.

Vikings:
— Three of last five games are at night, including games in Chicago/Green Bay.
— Don’t play Bears until Week 15, then play ‘em again in Week 18.
— Host old friend Kevin Stefanski when Browns visit in Week 4.

Saints:
— In Weeks 12-16, play night games four weeks out of five.
— Have five primetime games, only four 4:00 games. Nine 1:00 games.
— Week 6 bye is an early one. 

Giants:
— Have three primetime games, all on the road.
— Visit Washington in Week 2, don’t see them again until Week 18.
— Have consecutive December road games in Miami, Los Angeles.

Eagles:
— Five of their last six games are divisional games.
— Play consecutive weeks (12/13) in the Meadowlands, vs Giants/Jets
— Have only two primetime games.

49ers:
— Open @ Detroit/@ Philly; will they just stay east for the week?
— Host Falcons in Week 15, have Week 16 Thursday game in Nashville.
— Got good draw with their 17th game against the Bengals.

Seahawks:
— Play three of first four games on the road.
— Weeks 5-7 are all night games.
— Five of their eight road games are in domes.

Buccaneers:
— Tom Brady takes the Bucs into Foxboro in Week 4.
— Only six 1:00 games; three of them are Weeks 16-18.
— Play division rival Carolina in Weeks 16/18.

Washington:
— Weeks 14-17: Dallas/Philly/Dallas/Philly.
— Play Giants in Week 2, then not again until the season finale.
— Ron Rivera visits his old team (Carolina) in Week 11

Thursday’s Den: Quick thoughts on the 2021 NFL schedule

I’ll have more on the NFL schedule over the next few days, but here are some early thoughts on the 2021 schedule:

— NFL teams will play 17 games this season for the first time; exhibition games have been reduced to three. AFC teams get the extra home game this season.

— Regular season ends January 9th, with games in Buffalo and Cleveland. Have fun!!!

— Jets traded QB Sam Darnold to Carolina this winter; the wise guys who create the schedule created an interesting Week 1 matchup, Jets @ Carolina. Go figure, a coincidence I’m sure.

— Christmas is on a Saturday, Halloween is a Sunday this year; there are two Christmas games. Browns-Packers, Colts-Cardinals. Which casino will I be watching those games in?

— This has nothing to do with football, but Halloween weekend in Las Vegas is tremendous, take my word on that.

— Cowboys-Buccaneers is the Week 1 Thursday game, where the defending champ traditionally opens the next season at home. Home team is 15-3 SU in this game the last 18 years, 11-3-4 against the spread.

— Don’t think the NFL foresees Aaron Rodgers being traded to Denver; Broncos have one game on in prime-time, Green Bay has five.

— NFL doesn’t think much of the Patriots; only three primetime games, one of which is Tom Brady’s return to Foxboro in Week 4.

— Thanksgiving Day slate:
Bears @ Detroit, Raiders @ Dallas, Bills @ New Orleans

— Non-schedule news; Green Bay signed backup QB Blake Bortles, re-uniting him with OC Nathaniel Hackett- they worked together in Jacksonville from 2015-18.

— Division rivals Carolina/Tampa Bay have their two meetings in weeks 16/18.

— I’m totally befuddled that Rams-Lions isn’t a primetime game. Detroit got one game on in primetime, at Green Bay in Week 2. Very surprised by this, seeing how the teams swapped quarterbacks this winter. ESPN obviously didn’t want the game.

Every team got at least one primetime game; eight teams got just one.

— Four teams have the earliest byes, Week 6— Falcons, Saints, Jets, 49ers.

— Four teams have the latest byes, Week 14— Colts, Dolphins, Patriots, Eagles.

— Nine teams got the maximum five primetime games.

— Cardinals/Chargers have three prime-time games, all at home, which is odd. Giants got three primetime games, all on the road— they can’t be real happy about that.

I’ll have some notes for each team’s schedule over the next week or so; season doesn’t start until September 9, so there is plenty of time. 

Monday’s Den: Thinking about no-hitters, and other stuff

There have been five no-hitters this season, which is a lot for May 10:

1) April 9: Joe Musgrove 3-0 @ Texas
— He threw 112 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 10.
— He got 15 whiffs on 53 swings
— Since then, he is 0-4, 5.63 in five starts.

2) April 14: Carlos Rodon 8-0 vs Cleveland
— He threw 114 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 7.
— He got 19 whiffs on 53 swings
— Since then, 3-0, 1.59 in three starts.

3) April 25: Madison Bumgarner 7-0 @ Atlanta
— This was a 7-inning game; he didn’t allow a hit, which makes it a “no-hitter”
— He threw 98 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 7.
— He got 10 whiffs on 53 swings
— Since then, he is 1-0, 1.64 in two starts.

To prove that I am fair-minded, I’m defending Bumgarner’s 7-inning no-hitter, even though his resurgence came 10 days after I cut him off my fantasy team. 🙁

4) May 5: John Means 6-0 @ Seattle. 

— He threw 113 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 12.
— He got 26 whiffs on 64 swings
— This was his most recent start.
— This was also his first career complete game. 

5) May 7: Wade Miley 3-0 @ Cleveland
— He threw 114 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 8.
— He got 9 whiffs on 49 swings
— This was his most recent start.

6) Four of the five no-hitters were thrown by lefties.

7) In two of the five no-hitters, Cleveland’s Zach Plesac was the losing pitcher. 

Elsewhere, away from the no-hitter related world……..
8) Cincinnati Reds are 15-16, even though they’re 8-2 in games where the winning run scored from the 7th inning on. 

9) Arizona Diamondbacks just had an 0-6 road trip, where they went 7-62 with runners in scoring position. Hitting in the clutch is important in baseball.

10) Since the DH came into the American League in 1973, the record for most home runs hit by a pitcher is 24, held by Carlos Zambrano, who was 132-91 as a big league pitcher, mostly for the Cubs. He had a .238 career batting average.

11) White Sox have won their last ten games at division rival Kansas City; maybe they should put fountains behind the outfield fence in their home stadium, the way they have them in Kansas City.

12) Was watching an old highlight clip of Willie Mays on the Giants game Sunday, forgot that they had artificial turf at Candlestick Park in the early 70’s, probably because the 49ers also played there. Not sure why they needed AstroTurf in good weather, but they had it. 

One year at Comiskey Park in Chicago, the infield was AstroTurf and the outfield was natural grass, which wasn’t that bad an idea, but it didn’t last long.

13) Umpire stats are returning to the baseball page this Wednesday; we note trends for each umpire when he is behind the plate, for all games except series openers, because we don’t know who the umpires are for each series until they play a game. 

Sunday’s Den: Random stuff about baseball……..

— Dodgers 14, Angels 11:
Dodgers led 13-0 in the top of the 6th; after seven innings, it was 14-11, but the Angels didn’t get a baserunner in the last two innings, as they fall to 14-18.

— No major league team has ever won a game after trailing by 13+ runs; three teams have won after trailing by 12 runs— those games were in 1911, 1925, and 2001, a Mariners-Indians game in Cleveland.

— Speaking of Cleveland, there have been five no-hitters already this season; Zach Plesac of the Indians was the losing pitcher in two of them.

— To me, the 7-inning no-hitter thrown by Madison Bumgarner counts, since the game was scheduled for seven innings, and he didn’t allow any hits. Put an asterisk next to it in the record book, but its a freakin’ no-hitter.

— Dodgers lost seven of their last nine games; they scored 16-14 runs in the two wins.

— Saturday was May 8th, the 53rd anniversary of the perfect game Catfish Hunter threw in Oakland, the A’s first season there. I was 8 years old back then, in third grade; remember waking up the next morning and seeing a note about the perfect game next to my lunch.

My third grade teacher was probably confused as to why this skinny kid with glasses was babbling about a baseball game 3,000 miles away all day long.

— The perfect game was against Minnesota; Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew. Some good bats in that lineup. He struck out 11 guys in a game that was scoreless after six innings; Catfish also drove in three of Oakland’s four runs that night. The DH was still five years away. 

— Crowd was 6,298 that night; some things never change.

— Rick Monday was the A’s CF that night; 53 years later, he is the Dodgers’ radio announcer.

— You may wonder how I became an A’s fan; or maybe you don’t wonder why, but I’m going to explain it anyway.

I got baseball cards as gifts when I was a kid; I loved baseball cards, and I’d read all of them, front and back. Rookie cards had four prospects from the same team on them; their minor league stats were on the back.

Growing up in upstate New York, 15o miles north of New York City, there weren’t many fans of out-of-town teams here back then. No internet, no ESPN,  just newspapers and once a week, the Sporting News.

When I was five, I’m reading thru my baseball cards, and one card had four guys on it, but one of the guys didn’t have any minor league stats on the back— he had been shot in a hunting accident and never played minor league ball. They also spelled his name wrong on the card.

Walked into the living room and announced to my dad, “This guy is my favorite player, and this is my favorite team” Jim Hunter of the Kansas City A’s; what were the odds that this guy with no minor league stats would become a Hall of Famer? 

At that point, my dad just looked at me like, “You’re a weird kid” He had grown up in Brooklyn, was a huge Brooklyn Dodger fan and then had converted to the Mets. I learned very early never to mention the Los Angeles Dodgers; he wasn’t fond of the O’Malley family, who had bolted out of Brooklyn with the Dodgers, taking them west.

So anyway, baseball has always been a big part of my life; with that in mind, here are some ideas I have about baseball’s future.

— Geographic realignment: Baseball needs more rivalry games, so we re-align geographically. 

— Expansion— To make up the money baseball lost last year, they’re going to add two teams, lets say Nashville and Montreal. Eight teams in a division, four divisions.

Division A: both New York teams, Red Sox, Phillies, Orioles, Nationals, Montreal, Toronto

Division B: both Chicago teams, Reds, Indians, Tigers, Brewers, Twins, Pirates

Division C: Braves, Astros, Royals, Marlins, Nashville, Cardinals, Rays, Rangers

Division D: Diamondbacks, Rockies, Mariners and the five California teams.

— Travel costs would be less, attendance would go up because of more rivalry games

— They could have two All-Star games, pitting the four divisions against each other. More TV money, that usually makes the owners say yes to an idea.

— As far as changes to the actual rules:
a) get rid of 7-inning doubleheaders. Bad idea. 

b) I’ve softened on the extra inning rule; I don’t care either way, as long as the players like it. My preference would be back to the old way of extra innings, but either way would be fine.
c) Universal DH for everyone is a must. No one wants to see pitchers bat.
d) Ban shifts; two infielders on each side of the infield.
e) All four infielders should be on the infield dirt, not in the outfield.

This would create more line drive hits, more action. Action is a good thing.

— I’d suggest a salary cap, but I don’t want to get too crazy. Have a nice day. 

Friday’s Den: Trends for National League teams

Arizona:
— Arizona is 14-5 if they score 5+ runs, 1-11 if they don’t.
— Diamondbacks are 2-5 vs lefty starters, 13-11 vs righties.
— Arizona is 1-4 in one-run games. 

Atlanta:
— Braves are 7-4 on road if they score 3+ runs.
— Over is 8-2 in their last ten home games.
— Under is 11-6 in their road games.

Chicago:
— Cubs won seven of their last nine home games.
— Cubs are 7-1 vs lefty starters, 8-15 vs righties.
— 7 of their last 8 games went over the total.

Cincinnati:
— Reds are 7-2 in games where winning run scores from 7th inning on.
— Over is 12-3-2 in their home games.
— Reds are 6-11 in day games, 8-4 in night games.

Colorado:
— Rockies won six of their last eight home games.
— Last five games at Coors Field went over the total.
— Over is 7-1 in Colorado’s last eight road games.

Los Angeles:
— Dodgers lost 13 of their last 17 games.
— LA is 4-11 on the road if they score fewer than six runs.
— Over is 11-2 in their last thirteen games.

Miami:
— Marlins are 2-7 in one-run games.
— Miami is 10-2 if they score 5+ runs, 4-14 if they don’t.
— Marlins won six of their last eight home games.

Milwaukee:
— Brewers lost their last five games.
— Milwaukee is 3-8 at home if they score less than six runs.
— Under is 11-5 in their road games.

New York:
— Mets are 11-2 if they score 4+ runs, 2-11 if they do not.
— Under is 8-1-1 in their home games.
— Mets are 5-2 in games where winning run scored from 7th inning on.

Philadelphia:
— Phillies are 13-6 at home, 4-9 on the road.
— Over is 11-5 in their last 16 home games.
— Phillies scored in first inning in 4 of their last 5 games.

Pittsburgh:
— Pirates scored 3 or fewer runs in 10 of their 17 road games.
— Pirates are 4-1 in one-run games.
— Under is 7-1-1 in their last nine road games.

St Louis:
— Cardinals are 15-2 if they score 4+ runs, 3-12 if they don’t.
— Under is 7-2-1 in their last ten home games.
— Cardinals are 7-3 in series openers.

San Diego:
— Padres won five of  their last seven games.
— Under is 9-2 in their last eleven games.
— San Diego is 7-3 in games where winning run scores from 7th inning on.

San Francisco:
— Giants lost five of their last seven road games.
— Giants are 10-1 at home if they score 3+ runs.
— San Francisco’s last five games went over the total.

Washington:
— Nationals scored 3 or fewer runs in 15 of their first 27 games.
— Washington is 3-6 in series openers.
— Under is 10-2 in their last dozen home games. 

Tuesday’s Den: Trends for American League teams

Orioles
— Baltimore is 4-10 at home, scoring more than 4 runs in only two games.
— Orioles scored 5+ runs in seven of their 15 road games (10-5)
— Orioles are 10-8 vs righty starters, 4-7 vs southpaws.

Red Sox
— Boston is 14-1 when it scores 4+ runs, 3-11 when they do not.
— Red Sox are 7-3 vs lefty starters, 10-9 vs righties.
— Boston is 5-2 in one-run games.

White Sox
— If you like to bet first 5 innings props, you probably know the White Sox are 18-4-5 in the first five innings so far this season.
— Problem is, they’re 15-12 in the standings; they’ve been poor in the late innings.
— Chicago is 11-0 when it scores 5+ runs, 4-12 when it doesn’t.

Indians: In Monday’s game, these hitters started for Cleveland

— Leadoff hitter, batting .194
— #2 hitter, hitting .200
— #8 hitter, batting .136
— #9 hitter, batting .152

Indians are 13-1 when they score 4+ runs, 1-12 when they do not.

Tigers
— Detroit scored 3 or fewer runs in 19 of their first 29 games.
— Tigers led after five innings once in their last 17 games.
— They’ve scored 24 fewer runs than any other American League team. 

Astros
— Houston is 6-0 at home if they score 5+ runs, 1-7 if they don’t.
— Astros are 13-7 vs division rivals, 2-6 vs everyone else.
— Houston is 3-5 in games where winning run scored from 7th inning on.

Royals
— Kansas City is 6-1 in one-run games.
— Royals’ last five games went over the total.
— Kansas City is 4-1 in 2nd game of a series, if they lost the opener.

Angels
— Halos are 10-1 if they score 5+ runs, 3-13 if they don’t.
— Angels are 6-9 vs AL West rivals, 7-5 vs everyone else.
— Angels are 12-10 vs righty starters, 1-4 vs lefties.

Twins
— Minnesota is 4-1 in home series openers, 1-4 in road series openers.
— Twins’ last six games went over the total.
— Minnesota is 7-2 if it scores 6+ runs, 4-14 if they don’t.

New York
— New York is 10-1 when they score 5+ runs, 4-13 when they do not.
— New York is 3-5 in games when winning run scores from 7th inning on.
— Six of their last seven road games stayed under the total.

A’s
— A’s are 8-3 vs lefty starters, 10-9 vs righties.
— Oakland is 7-0 in games when winning run scores from 7th inning on.
— Six of their last seven road games stayed under the total.

Mariners
— Seattle is 7-4 in one-run games, 3-0 in extra innings.
— Mariners are 7-2 at home if they score 4+ runs, 1-5 if they don’t.
— Seattle is 4-2 in home series openers.

Rays
— Rays are 8-5 on the road, 7-10 at home.
— Tampa Bay went 4-6 on its last homestand; they led one game after five innings.
— Under is 7-3 in their last ten games.

Rangers
— Texas is 2-8 in series openers.
— Rangers are 10-3 if they score 5+ runs, 3-14 if they don’t.
— Under is 12-4 in their home games.

Blue Jays
— Toronto won six of its last seven home games (in Florida).
— Blue Jays are 8-3 at home, 6-10 on the road.
— Toronto is 1-4 in second game of a series, if they won the opener. 

Friday’s Den: Wrapping up the first 20 picks of the NFL Draft

— First job tonight was to decide which channel to watch the draft on; NFL Network had a concert on, ESPN had four or five commercials for the NBA. No bueno; back to the Extra Innings package until they start picking players.

— There were reports this afternoon that Aaron Rodgers wants the Packers to trade him, which would be tumultuous. 

— Quick reminder that the NFL season is now 17 games long.

— There are tons of people outside on a rainy night in Cleveland to watch all this draft stuff happen; having the draft in Las Vegas seems like a much better idea.

— Well, ESPN made the decision for me; they have Mike Greenberg hosting their coverage, so it is off to the NFL Network.

— It is 8:10 and there is still a damn band playing in Cleveland; start the draft!!! In happier news, Kris Bryant just doubled for the Cubs/Armadillos. Cubs lead 4-0 in the third.

— Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock; Urban Meyer is their new coach. You get the feeling this is an all-or-nothing deal for Meyer, he’ll either win really big or he won’t finish his first season. Whatever, thanks for the Jaguars for getting him off of TV, where he was terrible- zero personality.

— Why is Jacksonville taking the whole 10:00 to make their pick?

— Eric Lauer is pitching for Milwaukee tonight, his first start of the year. Lauer is 14-19, 4.75 in 57 career games (54 starts), but he is 5-0, 2.11 in seven starts against the Dodgers, which makes no sense.

— Daniel Jeremiah just said that when the Jets upset the Rams last year, which put the Jaguars in position to pick first in this draft, that Jacksonville sold a ton of season tickets right after. Its the least the Rams could do for Jacksonville- they traded star CB Jalen Ramsey to the Rams.

— OK, now that Trevor Lawrence is a Jaguar, how long before he starts?

— Jets have a new coach, they traded their QB, they have the #2 pick. Everyone in their draft room has a suit jacket on; things in Jacksonville were way more casual.

With the #2 pick, Gang Green selects Zach Wilson; going from BYU to New Jersey qualifies as worlds colliding.

Someone just called Wilson “…….borderline cocky” Hmmmmm

There is a woman in a Jets sweatshirt sitting in an easy chair behind Roger Goodell’s pedestal.

— It irritates me when I hear an analyst say “He’s a winner” because for every winner, there has to be a loser, and I don’t think anyone is pre-ordained to be a loser.

— 49ers have the third pick in the draft; they take QB Trey Lance, who started 17 games for a I-AA team, playing only one game last year for North Dakota State. Carson Wentz also played for the Bison; what does this mean for Jimmy Garoppolo?

North Dakota State has a third QB in the NFL, Easton Stick, who is a backup with the Chargers, or at least he was before they got Chase Daniel. Must be a fun time to recruit quarterbacks at North Dakota State.

— Great stat they just said on TV; last ten QB’s to win the Super Bowl all threw 1,200+ passes in college; Trey Lance threw 318.

— Atlanta Falcons take TE Kyle Pitts with the 4th pick; his college coach Dan Mullen is sitting there in the draft room with him, getting some free TV time. Matt Ryan must like this pick. 

Pitts is the highest drafted tight end ever.

— Bengals take Ja’Marr Chase, the LSU WR who didn’t play last year; he is reunited with his old LSU QB Joe Burrow. Explosive receiver; opting out of last year didn’t cost him any money.

— When was last time the first five picks all went to players on the offensive side of the ball?

— Miami has the 6th pick; they take WR Jaylen Waddle from Alabama, the second WR in row who was wearing sunglasses backstage. Chase took his shades off when he went on stage; Waddle kept his on. Six offensive players in a row, which ties the all-time record.

We are told that Waddle is very fast, a good feature for a WR. Are there slow WR’s?

— Detroit Lions are on the clock; they have a new everything- coach, GM, QB. They’ve won one playoff game in the Super Bowl era; that’s 55 years.

Lions were very good in the 1950’s; they won three titles back then, before I was alive.

People in Detroit’s draft room are hugging each other like they just won the Super Bowl, so they got someone they didn’t think they’d get- OT Penei Sewell from Oregon, which has to make Jared Goff a happier guy. Quarterbacks need their blind side protected.

— Carolina Panthers take CB Jaycee Horn with the 8th pick, the first defensive player taken; he is described as “chippy, competitive; talks a lot on the field”

— 87-year old Bob Uecker still does commercials on Brewers’ TV in Milwaukee for Usinger’s, a sausage company; he is an amazing guy, so funny. Still does Brewers’ home games on the radio.

— Denver Broncos are up next; they take a CB from Alabama whose dad also played in the NFL. Guess they’re serious about starting Teddy Bridgewater at QB this fall, though I also just read a thing on the Interweb about Denver trading for Aaron Rodgers.

They just showed Justin Fields’ family on TV, sitting at home; his parents don’t look happy. Someone needs to tell them that there were six QB’s taken in the 1983 Draft, and Dan Marino was #6 of the six, so you never know what the future will hold.

Yup, Dan Marino was 27th pick in the draft, which is why this is a fascinating process.

They also showed Alabama QB Mac Jones, sitting by himself in the draft room with his phone, probably wondering “Who the bleep told me to come here?!?!?!”

— Dallas Cowboys are on the clock; they traded the pick to Philadelphia, who take DeVonta Smith, the Alabama WR who is also reunited with his college QB, Jalen Hurts.

Not often two division rivals make a trade like that; Eagles only moved up two slots, but they bypassed the Giants, who may have wanted Smith.

— Cowboys got a third round pick to drop back two slots.

— Giants traded the #11 pick to Chicago, which takes Ohio State QB Justin Fields, bad news for Andy Dalton/Nick Foles.

— Dallas finally gets to pick; they take a LB from Penn State, which means Stephen Jones made the pick, not his father, who prefers flashier choices.

— Damn, to drop back nine slots in the draft, Giants got:

— 5th round pick (164th overall) in this draft.

— Bears 4th round pick 2022.

— Bears’ first round pick in 2022.

Seems like a pretty good haul, if they connect with those picks.

— Chargers have a new coach and a young QB; they took a tackle from Northwestern; when you have a good, young QB, you make sure he is well-protected.

— Lot of trades; Jets traded with Minnesota to move up from #23 to #14- they took Alijah Vera-Tucker, a guard from USC. You draft a young QB, you make sure he is well-protected.

— Patriots take QB Mac Jones from Alabama, who was expected to go a lot higher. Belichick and Nick Saban are good friends, so this makes sense.

— With the 16th pick, Arizona Cardinals take Zaven Collins, a LB from Tulsa.

— This is the first time I can remember where the draft was held before the schedule for next year was released- that comes out May 12. Seriously, for like an hour, I put everything aside as soon as the schedule comes out. 

I get my second vaccination May 14; when I get home from that, I’ll be looking online for flights and hotel rooms for my first vacation in two years. Have to pick a good NFL weekend, or maybe even two weekends; we’ll see. Football weekends in Las Vegas are lot of fun.

— Las Vegas Raiders took a tackle from Alabama; lot of Crimson Tide guys getting picked.

— Miami Dolphins are picking again; they take a defensive end from Miami FL, who apparently returned punts for his high school team. Must be a very good athlete. 

Last year, only 34% of players in the NFL were guys drafted in Rounds 1-3; the GM/scouts are so important in pro football. Thats why Saturday is a very important day- you can find diamonds in the rough at the end of the draft, guys who make a big difference.

— Washington takes a LB from Kentucky; they had taken a defensive lineman in the first round the previous four years, so at least they change things up some.

Washington needs to come up with a nickname, an actual mascot. It can’t be that difficult; as a matter of fact, I’ll do it for them— Washington RedTails, honoring pilots from World War II.

They made a movie about the RedTails; they could keep everything pretty much the same, the team song, the colors, all that. Simple stuff.

— Last item of the night, then I’m off to write the baseball article; with the #20 pick, Giants take Kadarius Toney, a WR from Florida. Graphic says “inconsistent hands” always a solid quality for a receiver.

Oy.

I’ll be back tomorrow, with more of this jocularity. Guy I used to know made fun of me because I like watching the draft; it was freakin’ rude, because we all like different stuff, and that’s what makes life interesting. 

Friday’s Den: Wrapping up Opening Day

Lot of stuff happened Thursday; we’ll stick with baseball today, get to the rest tomorrow.

13) Colorado 8, Dodgers 5:
— Cody Bellinger hit a home run that deflected off the left fielder’s glove, but the runner on base thought the LF caught the ball, so he went back to first and Bellinger passed him, which means Bellinger was called out— the baserunner scored.
— Chris Owings had three hits, scored three times for the Rockies.

12) Pirates 5, Chicago 3:
— Both starting P’s threw 63 pitches in three IP on a 36-degree day.
— Kyle Hendricks walked a batter in three consecutive innings, first time he’s ever done that.
— Pirates were 3-20 with runners in scoring position, Cubs 0-5

11) Philadelphia 3, Braves 2 (10)
— Phillies’ new-look bullpen threw 3.1 scoreless innings.
— Jean Segura’s single to left field in 10th inning was the walk-off hit.
— Pablo Sandoval hit a pinch-hit HR for Atlanta’s only runs.

10) San Diego 8, Diamondbacks 7:
— Hosmer had three hits, three RBI for San Diego.
— Bumgarner gave up six runs in four IP for Arizona.
— Arizona was down 6-1, scored six runs in the 5th, but couldn’t hold the lead.

9) Cardinals 11, Cincinnati 6:
— St Louis is first team since the 2010 Braves to score 6+ runs in first inning on Opening Day.
— Castillo gave up 10 runs in 3.1 IP.
— Goldschmidt/Arenado went a combined 6-10, scored four runs.

8) Blue Jays 3, Bronx 2 (10)
— Toronto wore powder blue road jerseys, like teams wore in the 70’s/80’s.
— Top four batters in the New York lineup went 1-18 with eight K’s.
— Sanchez hit a 2-run homer for New York’s only runs.

7) Detroit 3, Indians 2:
— Miguel Cabrera hit his 488th career home run.
— It snowed during first three innings of this game.
— Cesar Hernández had the first hit in the major leagues this year.

6) Kansas City 14, Rangers 10:
— Game was 5-5 after the first inning; not much pitching.
— Two starting pitchers combined to get five outs, give up 11 runs.
— Merrfield, Isbel, Taylor all had three hits for the Royals.

5) Rays 1, Miami 0:
— Meadows hit an 8th-inning homer for the game’s only run.
— Glasnow, Alcantara both threw six shutout innings.
— Aguilar had two of Miami’s three hits.

4) Milwaukee 6, Twins 5 (10):
— Five of Milwaukee’s six runs were unearned.
— Brewers scored three runs in 9th to force extra innings.
— Josh Donaldson (hamstring) left this game very early on.

3) LA Angels 4, White Sox 3:
— Angels scored twice in bottom of 8th inning.
— Angels gave 2B Fletcher a 5-year, $26M extension Thursday.
— Only two starting pitchers all day got wins: Boyd/Greinke.

2) Astros 8, Oakland 1:
— Brantley had single, double, homer for Houston.
— Greinke threw six shutout innings, allowing 3 baserunners.
— A’s bullpen gave up five runs in 3.2 IP. 

Thursday’s Den: Random thoughts on Opening Day

Before we start, happy birthday to my grandmother; today was her birthday. Very nice lady. Not sure April 1 is a great day for a birthday.

13) Will be fun to see fans in the stands; hopefully by the end of this season, stands will be full again, but for now, hearing real people cheer will be enough. Cardboard cutouts are cool, but they don’t make any noise.

For the record, the best cardboard cutout last year was the one in Kansas City of Bernie Lomax, the main character from the Weekend at Bernie’s movies.

12) Houston Astros made the expanded playoffs LY, despite a 29-31 record; how will they bounce back this year? They won the 2017 World Series, lost the ’19 Series in seven games; this year they’ll be without Verlander (hurt), Springer (free agent to Toronto).

Last year, Jose Altuve hit .219 in the regular season, then hit 18-48 (.375) in playoffs, so we’ll see what this year brings.

11) Baseball has done a very smart thing, letting players watch video of their at-bats on iPads during the game. Players couldn’t do that last year- from what you hear on TV, it hampered some hitters, who are creatures of habit. Baseball wants more offense, right?

10) Los Angeles Dodgers are loaded; they won World Series LY for first time since 1988, and appear to be headed that way again this year, especially after adding pitching ace Trevor Bauer as a free agent.

Their TV guys have been fairly cocky this spring; on how many teams would David Price or Tony Gonsolin not be in the starting rotation?

9) Seattle and the Angels are two teams that will apparently use 6-man pitching rotations this season, somehow new to MLB. Teams in Japan do this; starters generally pitch once a week.

Teams are guarding against ramping up a pitcher’s innings too much from one year to the next; for instance, Seattle’s Marco Gonzales threw 69.1 IP LY; he threw 203 the year before. Doubtful they want him ramping back up to 203 until next season.

8) Steve Cohen is the new owner of the Mets; supposedly, Bobby Axelrod on Showtime’s Billions was modeled after Cohen, a wildly successful hedge fund trader. In other words, he is really, really rich.

Cohen’s Mets offered newly-acquired SS Francisco Lindor $320M for 10 years; Lindor’s people are asking for 12 years, $385M. We’ll see how that works out.

LATE UPDATE: Here’s how it worked out: Lindor signed a 10-year deal for $341M Wednesday night. 

7) Umpire Ángel Hernández lost his lawsuit against MLB alleging racial discrimination; hired as a big league umpire in 1993, the Cuban-born Hernandez alleged he was discriminated against because he had not been assigned to the World Series since 2005 and had been passed over for crew chief.

From the judge who decided the case:
“The explicit reason MLB offers — that according to (Joe) Torre, Hernández ‘has not demonstrated the leadership ability and situation-management skills in critical high-pressure roles on a consistent basis’ — is presented in clear and specific terms.”

In other words, Hernandez should be glad he has a lucrative job that he doesn’t do very well.

6) Colorado Rockies traded star 3B Nolan Arenado to St Louis, and with SS Trevor Story headed for free agency, he could be the next to leave Denver, which can’t make fans in Denver happy.

Are the Rockies headed for a total rebuild? Colorado won 87-91 games in 2017/’18, but now they’re looking like a doormat.

5) Can Giancarlo Stanton/Aaron Judge stay healthy this season?
— Last two years, Stanton played a total of 41 regular season games.
— Last three years, Judge played 112-102-28 games.
— Stanton went 8-26 with six homers in seven playoff games LY; they need him for six months, not seven games.

4) Angels have lot of hitting, lot of star power; Trout, Pujols, Rendon, Ohtani, but pitching is important in baseball and the Angels don’t have much of that.

In 12 games as a major league pitcher, Ohtani has given up 26 runs in 53.1 IP; there is very little evidence that he’ll be a good major league pitcher.

3) Lot of hype around the Padres/White Sox; there is no doubt that 76-year Tony LaRussa’s return to the dugout will be fascinating to follow in Chicago.

LaRussa hasn’t managed since 2011; he’s won three World Series as a skipper, but the world is a different place than it was 10 years ago. He did a dugout interview during a spring training game a few days ago and it…….um…….didn’t go well.

Random LaRussa trivia; he pinch-hit for the A’s in their first-ever home game in Oakland, way back in 1968.

2) Baseball needs the universal DH, for a few reasons:
— They want more scoring; pitchers can’t hit
— They want more balls in play; DH’s put balls in play
— Pitchers get hurt hitting/running the bases. Not good.

1) I’ll be looking at how the new experimental rules work once the minor leagues get rolling in May; I like the anti-shifting rules, the pitch-clock thing isn’t necessary. The 3-batter minimum for relievers is a great rule.

I can’t stand the extra inning rules or 7-inning doubleheaders. Media guys like shorter extra innings, since it makes their job easier, but to me it cheapens the game.

As for the automated strike zone, no thank you!!! Just let umpires do their jobs, and hire better umpires than Angel Hernandez.

Tuesday’s Den: American League trends and notes…….

Baltimore
— Last made playoffs in 2016.
— combined record, last 3 years: 126-258
— went 11-9 vs NL East LY, 14-26 vs their division rivals.
— 7-12 in one-run games LY,

Boston
— Made playoffs 10 of last 18 years.
— 11-20 at home, 13-16 on road LY.
— 7-17 vs lefty starting pitchers LY, 17-19 vs righties.
— Why did they trade Mookie Betts?

Chicago White Sox
— Made playoffs LY for first time since 2008; their last winning season was 2012.
— went 2-8 in last 10 games, then lost in playoffs, then fired the manager.
— 76-year old Tony LaRussa is the old/new skipper; he last managed in 2011.
— 14-0 vs lefty starters, 21-25 vs righties LY. 14-0!!!!
— New closer Hendriks had 39 saves last two years; in the 8 years before that, he had one.

Cleveland
— Last losing season was in 2012.
— Made playoffs four of last five years.
— Letting SS Lindor bolt to the Mets will obviously hurt them.
— Won 8 of last 10 games LY, then lost 12-3/10-9 in playoffs.

Detroit
— Went combined 198-345 the last four years.
— Last made the playoffs in 2014.
— 11-7 vs NL Central LY, went 12-28 vs division rivals.
— 7-4 vs lefties, 16-31 vs righties LY. 

Houston
— 29-31 LY, still made playoffs for 5th time in six years.
— went 2-7 in extra innings last year.
— 12-10 vs lefties, 17-21 vs righties LY.
— Will miss departed Springer, injured Verlander.

Kansas City
— won World Series six short years ago. 
— last three years, they’re a combined 143-241
— 15-15 at home, 11-19 on road LY.
— Adding 1B Carlos Santana should upgrade the offense.

LA Angels
— haven’t made made playoffs since 2014.
— last time they won a playoff game? 2009.
— 16-15 at home, 10-19 on road last year.
— went 7-13 vs NL West, 19-21 vs their division rivals.

Minnesota
— Lost an amazing 18 playoff games in a row.
— made playoffs three of last four years.
— Were 24-7 at home, 12-17 on road last year.
— Last two years, went a combined 137-85.

A’s
— made playoffs last three years, and six of last nine.
— were 22-10 at home, 14-14 on road LY.
— went 6-0 in extra-inning games last year.
— 11-3 vs lefty starters, 25-21 vs right starters.

Bronx
— made playoffs 22 of last 26 years.
— 11-18 on road, 22-9 at home LY.
— 26-19 vs righty starters, 7-8 vs lefties LY.
— need Judge/Stanton to both stay healthy for once.

Seattle
— Last made playoffs in 2001, longest active drought in MLB
— have been over .500 three times in last seven years.
— 20-20 vs division rivals, 7-13 vs NL West LY.
— 14-10 at home, 13-23 on road last year.
— Have already committed to using 6-man rotation at start of this year.

Tampa Bay
— made playoffs last two years, lost World Series 4-2 LY.
— went 40-20 LY, best record in American League.
— went 14-5 in one-run games, which suggests regression this year.
— 31-12 vs righties, 9-8 vs lefties LY.

Texas
— last made playoffs in 2016.
— Last four years, they’re combined 56 games under .500.
— went 6-24 on road LY; were 16-14 in their new domed stadium.
— minus-88 run differential LY was worst in major leagues.

Toronto
— made playoffs 3 of last 6 years
— from 2017-19, were a combined 54 games under .500.
— were 17-9 at home, 15-19 on road LY.
— went 13-10 in one-run games LY, T2 for most in MLB. 

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

13) This is the state of college basketball these days:

In February, North Carolina needed couple of games to update their resume; they added mid-week non-conference home games with Northeastern, Marquette, Won one, lost one. Didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.

When Carolina beat Northeastern 82-62 February 17, Huskies’ sophomore PG Tyson Walker scored 27 points, and showed up on the radar of the big $$$ schools who like to poach players from low and mid-major schools. Happens all the time now.

Makes college basketball a lot more like baseball, but I’m an Oakland A’s fan, and it drives me batty when players bolt for greener pa$ture$. Loyalty is in scarce supply these days.

Walker averaged 18.8 ppg and 4.8 assists/game as a sophomore at Northeastern, was named the CAA’s Defensive Player of the Year; he committed to Michigan State this weekend. 

Not sure what Northeastern is going to do for a point guard next year, none of the national media seemed too interested in that.

12) UCLA 88, Alabama 78 OT:
— Crimson Tide went 11-25 on foul line, in an overtime loss.
— UCLA scored 23 points in the 5:00 overtime.
— This is Mick Cronin’s 12th NCAA tourney, his first regional final.

11) Baylor 62, Villanova 51:
— Villanova led 30-23 at halftime.
— Baylor was +10 in turnover margin (16-6)
— Teams combined to make 6-36 on the arc.

10) Arkansas 72, Oral Roberts 70:
— ORU led 46-34 with 15:24 left in the game.
— Eric Musselman is 5-3 in NCAA tourney games; his team trailed by 10+ points in all five of the wins.
— Oral Roberts were almost first-ever #15-seed to make a regional final.

9) Gonzaga 83, Creighton 65:
— Gonzaga is 29-0, has one win by fewer than 10 points.
— Zags took 33 shots inside arc, made 25 of them (75.8%)
— Gonzaga had 23 assists on 32 made field goals.

8) Oregon State 65, Loyola Chi 58:
— Beavers are 2nd-ever #12-seed (Missouri ’02) to make a regional final.
— OSU held Ramblers to 33.3% from the floor.
— On February 20, Oregon State was 11-11; they’ve gone 9-1 since then.

7) Michigan 76, Florida State 58:
— Surprisingly easy win for the Wolverines.
— FSU shot only 40%, looked lost on offense.
— Michigan scored 81.3 ppg in first three tourney wins.

6) USC 82, Oregon 68:
— Trojans made 10-17 shots on arc, scored 1.22 ppp.
— In two games vs Oregon this year, Trojans led by 19-21 at the half.
— Pac-12 is 12-2 in NCAA Tournament, including this game.

5) Houston 62, Syracuse 46:
— Cougars won their last ten games.
— Syracuse shot 28% from floor, 5-23 on arc.
— Average total in the four Saturday games: 126.5.

4) Memphis 77, Mississippi State 64:
— Tigers win the NIT; in their last two games, they made 24-49 3-pointers.
— This game was 33-33 at halftime.
— Memphis didn’t play any seniors; they should be good next year.

3) If Houston beats Oregon State tonight, they’ll have made the Final Four by winning four games in their region, against the #15-10-11-12 seeds. That doesn’t happen often.

2) Indiana Hoosiers hired alum Mike Woodson as their basketball coach; Woodson coached the Atlanta Hawks for six years, the Knicks for three more; he scored 14 ppg in his 11-year NBA career. His last head coaching gig was 2014; he’s been an assistant coach since.

Utah poached coach Craig Smith from in-state rival Utah State to be its next head man. Few days ago, Smith told his Utah State players not to have any concerns about him leaving- he was staying right where he was, sure as sure could be.

Money does strange things to people.

1) I like the idea they enacted this year; the 2nd weekend of the tournament being Saturday-Tuesday instead of Thursday-Sunday. Not sure what next year’s schedule will be like, maybe no one does; when you change the schedule once every 35 years, people get used to the way it was. 

Sunday’s Den: Trends for National League teams

Arizona
— Last made playoffs in 2017.
— Finished over .500 three of last four years.
— 5-11 vs lefty starting pitchers LY.
— 9-21 on the road LY.

Atlanta
— Made playoffs the last three years.
— 19-11 at home LY.
— 8-4 vs lefty starting pitchers LY.
— 11-9 vs AL teams, 24-16 vs NL teams.

Chicago
— Made playoffs four of last five years.
— 19-14 at home, 15-12 on road LY
— 7-4 vs lefty starters, 12-8 vs AL Central teams.
— Joe Maddon made playoffs four of five years with the Cubs; why did they dump him?

Cincinnati
— Braves shut them out 1-0/5-0 in two playoff games LY.
— Reds’ previous playoff appearance was in 2013.
— Reds are moving Eugenio Suarez to SS this year.
— Losing P’s Bauer, Iglesias will be hard to overcome.

Colorado
— Went combined 97-125 the last two years.
— Finished over .500 twice in last ten years.
— Were only 12-18 at Coors Field last year.
— 16-24 vs right-handed starting pitchers.

Los Angeles
— won World Series LY for first time since 1988.
— Last losing season? They were 80-82 in 2010.
— Made playoffs the last eight years.
— were 7-5 in one-run games, 36-12 in the others.

Miami
— made playoffs LY for first time since 2003.
— went 31-29, despite giving up 41 more runs than they scored.
— 24-17 vs righty starters, 7-12 vs southpaws.
— Before LY, their last winning season was in 2009.

Milwaukee
— made playoffs the last three years.
— went 29-31, despite going 11-5 in one-run games.
— 11-7 vs lefty starters, 18-24 vs righties.
— 10-10 vs AL Central, 19-21 vs NL Central rivals.

NY Mets
— Finished over .500 in 3 of last 12 seasons.
— Last made playoffs in 2016.
— Were 6-11 in one-run games LY.
— Have new owner with lot of $$$; will they re-sign Lindor?

Philadelphia
— Had great run from 2007-11, making playoffs every year.
— Haven’t made playoffs since 2011.
— 21-19 vs NL East, 7-13 vs AL East LY.
— 13-9 vs lefty starters, 15-23 vs right starters.

Pittsburgh
— Last made playoffs in 2015.
— 6-22 on road, 2-10 vs lefty starters LY.
— 16-24 vs NL Central, only 3-17 vs AL Central LY.
— were over .500 four times in 9 years under Clint Hurdle.

St Louis
— made playoffs 11 of last 17 years.
— 22-18 vs NL Central, 8-10 vs AL Central.
— 26-21 vs righty starters, 4-7 vs southpaws.
— Acquiring 3B Arenado is big upgrade to defense.

San Diego
— made playoffs LY for first time since 2006.
— 27-13 vs righty starters, 10-10 vs lefties LY.
— won all four of their extra inning games.
— 24-16 vs NL West, 13-7 vs AL West.

San Francisco
— finished under .500 the last four years.
— 19-14 at home, 10-17 on road LY.
— won three World Series from 2010-14.
— 18-22 vs NL West, 11-9 vs AL West LY.

Washington
— made playoffs 5 of last 9 years
— despite that, have had 7 managers the last 16 years
— were over .500 eight of last nine years, won 2019 WS.
— 11-7 vs lefty starters, 15-27 vs lefty starters.