Friday’s List of 13: Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!!!

13) Oakland A’s are 19-5 in their last 24 games, going 5-2 on this Cleveland/Houston road trip that just ended- they’re a contender for the Wild Card right now. A’s next six games are a pair of three-game series with their cross-bay rivals, the Giants. Interesting times. 

12) Former NBA star Charles Oakley was arrested Sunday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Agents at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. 

TMZ reported that he is suspected of pulling back a $100 chip after he realized he was going to lose his wager; that is a Class B felony. Not good. 

11) Milwaukee’s Jesus Aguilar, Seattle’s Juan Segura won the Final Vote and will be in Washington for next week’s All-Star Game. 

Milwaukee is the smallest market in the major leagues; good for their fans for voting one of their guys into the Mid-Summer Classic. 

10) Will Yoenis Cespedes return to the Mets as a first baseman? There are reports on the Interweb that Cespedes has suggested the position change to Mets brass. 

Cespedes hasn’t played since May 13, by the way. People have come back from broken legs faster than this guy, and I’m not a Met fan nor is he on my fantasy team. 

9) Mets have had nine games this season that were 0-0 after five innings; five of the nine were Jacob deGrom starts. 

8) There are rumors the Manny Machado trade may be delayed util after the All-Star Game because Orioles’ brass doesn’t want Machado playing in the All-Star Game in Washington next week wearing another team’s uniform, which would also leave the Orioles without an All-Star. 

7) Baseball oddity: Babe Ruth started his career as a pitcher for the Red Sox; the night he got his first win as a pitcher, he was actually pinch-hit for in the 7th inning. 

Wonder how many times he was pinch-hit for in his entire career? 

6) Arizona OF Daniel Descalso pitched in the 4th inning Wednesday night in Denver, the earliest any position player has pitched in a game since the Brewers’ Sal Bando on August 29, 1979 (also the 4th inning). 

Descalso allowed a HR to Rockies pitcher German Marquez. It’s just the 2nd time in the last 50 years that a pitcher homered off a position player. 

The other: June 23, 1986 – Giants’ Mike LaCoss homered off San Diego’s Dane Iorg.

5) Alex Bregman is only American Leaguer in Home Run Derby Monday night; unusual. MLB cannot be very happy that Trout, Judge, Stanton, Goldschmidt are not participating. 

4) There’s a sportsbook opening Saturday at Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, next to Giants Stadium. Maybe the jackass politicians in New York can figure out a way to have legalized wagering in our state- why was New Jersey so far ahead of them????

3) Baseball doings:
— Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers goes on DL with left shoulder inflammation.
— Angels’ P Garrett Richards (elbow) hopes to return in 2020.
— Twins put 1B Logan Morrison (hip) on the DL

2) FOX is apparently in negotiations with Jeff Fisher to hire the former Titans/Rams coach as an NFL commentator. You never know how good guys will be behind the mike, but I’ll be curious to hear what he has to say. 

1) Even a former White House stenographer named Beck Dorey-Stein has written a book about her time working in the White House. The current political climate has been good for bookstores, if not for the rest of us.  

Saturday’s List of 13: NFL knowledge for a summer Saturday

13) Seven new head coaches in the NFL this coming season, 17 new offensive coordinators— over half the teams in the NFL changed OC’s after last year. 13 teams have new defensive coordinators. 

12) There are only three offensive coordinators in the NFL who’ve been in that job with the same team for more than three years; Scott Linehan (Dallas), Pete Carmichael (NO, though Sean Payton is the real OC there) and Josh McDaniels (NE). 

Only six defensive coordinators have been in their current job with the same team for 4+ years. 

11) Pete Carroll is going into his 9th season in Seattle, but he’ll have two new coordinators this season; Mike McCarthy has been in Green Bay for a dozen years, but he’ll have two new coordinators this season, too.

10) Over was 13-3 in Falcon games in 2016, 2-13-1 last year. Over is 21-11 in Washington games the last two years. 

9) Baltimore Ravens went 9-7 LY, missing playoffs for 3rd year in row when their defense gagged at end of a 31-27 home loss to Cincinnati in Week 17, giving up a 49-yard TD pass in the last minute. 

When an NFL team is +17 in turnovers, +14 in sacks, scores eight TD’s on defense/special teams (T1 in NFL) and doesn’t make the playoffs, that not good. 

8) Vikings, Patriots had similar profiles last year; they both won despite not forcing many turnovers (Minn 19, NE 18), but rarely turning ball over themselves (Minn 14, NE 12). 

7) Teams who turned ball over the most LY: Browns 41, Broncos 34, Dolphins 29.

Teams who turned ball over the least: Chiefs 11, Patriots 12, Vikings/Raiders 14. 

6) Teams with the most takeaways LY: Ravens 34, Jaguars 33, Lions 32, Eagles 31. 

Teams with the least takeaways LY: Browns 13, Bengals/Raiders 14, Dolphins 15

5) Jets, Raiders were only NFL teams LY to not score a TD on defense or special teams.

4) Carolina Panthers were 11-5 LY, 8-1 in games decided by 8 or fewer points, 4-0 in games decided by 3 or fewer points. 

Norv Turner as the Panthers’ new OC will be fascinating, how he utilizes Cam Newton.

3) Chargers went 9-7 LY, but were 1-4 in games decided by 3 or fewer points, losing three of those games during their 0-4 start, when the Bolts’ kickers screwed up in key spots. Chargers used four different kickers last year. 

2) Dak Prescott loses his top two red zone targets from LY, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Dallas has only three players on its team who are 30+ years old. 

1) Alex Smith is a QB who doesn’t take as many chances as most QB’s, so his teams don’t turn the ball over as much- they had 11 turnovers LY, least in league. but Smith is in Washington now, and rookie QB Mahomes (1 start LY) is the Chiefs’ QB.

Its not inconceivable that their giveaway total could double this season; 19 of 32 NFL teams turned the ball over 22+ times LY. 

Friday’s Den: Running Diary of the 1st round of the NBA Draft…….

7:25: Before the NBA Draft, some NFL news. Bucs’ QB James Winston will be suspended for three games, for something that happened with an Uber drive in Arizona two years ago. 

Buccaneers open at New Orleans, then the Eagles/Steelers come to Tampa Bay. Not great to play those teams without your starting QB. 

Winston had character-related issues in college, too. This isn’t good for him or the Bucs or the NFL or coach Dirk Koetter, who needs a good season to keep his job. 

7:30: NBA Draft is in Brooklyn; they need to do what the NHL/NFL do now and move the draft around the country, get out of New York City. 

Commissioner Adam Silver is one of my heroes; a tall, bald man with glasses who has a great job and does it very well, but stop with the opening statement. Drafts get over-hyped; need to see teams picking players as soon as possible. 

7:35: Jay Bilas has already questioned Deandre Ayton’s “motor” which means he doesn’t try hard all the time. Good Lord, that bothers me, if you spend your #1 pick on someone who is often lethargic. Effort should never be an issue. 

Anyway, the Phoenix Suns take Ayton, whose Arizona team got plastered by Buffalo in the first round of the NCAA tournament. I picked Arizona, but I’m not bitter at all. 

ESPN has Chauncey Billups (good) and Bilas (annoying) as its analysts, Rece Davis (very good) as its host. Billups compares Ayton to Joel Embiid. Davis points out that Ayton is the 9th straight college freshman to be the first pick in the draft. 

7:44: Marvin Bagley III goes #2 to Sacramento. Bilas downplays Bagley’s defensive liabilities, but Duke played a 2-3 zone almost all of last season. Go figure. Billups compares Bagley to Chris Bosh. Bagley is happy to be in Sacramento, which is refreshing. 

Duke had a player picked in the top 3 in the last five NBA Drafts, which is a record. 

NBA saved me lot of money by putting four patches on the right side of each team’s hats which they’re selling on the Interweb. I’m not a fan of a lot of junk on the hats I buy, so this saves me a decent amount of money, because the front of the hats are nice. 

7:48: Worst part of the NBA Draft is they don’t announce the trades as they happen, which is stupid and misleading. Atlanta Hawks take Luka Doncic but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says he is being traded to Dallas, with the Hawks winding up with Trae Young. 

7:55: Memphis takes Jaren Jackson Jr, whose mother is Director of Player Ops for the WNBA. At first, Jackson said he didn’t want to play for Memphis, but I’m sure he won’t mind being paid by Memphis. Billups compares him to Joakim Noah.  

Jackson’s dad played 13 years in the NBA; his first eight years in the NBA, he played for a different team every year. 

8:00: Dallas takes Trae Young, who will be traded to Atlanta. ESPN ruined Young’s season at Oklahoma by over-hyping him a sickening amount and putting a huge target on his back. The Hawks get a 2019 first-round pick from Dallas in addition to the Young/Doncic swap. 

8:08: Orlando takes Mo Bamba with the #6 pick; he has a 7-foot-10 wingspan, the longest wingspan ever recorded at the NBA Combine. Bilas says he needs to get a lot stronger. 

They showed video recently of Bamba making ton of 3-pointers in a workout, but he shot 27.5% behind the arc at Texas last year, so we’ll see. The NBA 3-point shot is longer than college. 

NHL Draft is Friday; it’ll be different than this draft. Not better, not worse. Different. 

8:13: Bulls won their fewest games in 14 years this year; they take Wendell Carter, a center from Duke. Carter could’ve gone to Harvard had he wanted to; he is a good shooter, but again, Duke played a ton of 2-3 zone last year, so will defense be an issue, especially on pick/roll? Billups compares him to Carlos Boozer. 

8:18: Cavaliers take Alabama PG Collin Sexton, who Billups compares to Eric Bledsoe. Kid is highly competitive, but Cleveland might be a sad place to watch basketball for a few years, with Lebron James expected to skip town. 

8:24: Knicks missed the playoffs the last five years; why does ESPN have to show Spike Lee before their draft pick? New York takes Kevin Knox, another Kentucky player. John Calipari’s recruiting has to get easier and easier with every year all his guys go in the 1st round. 

Knox played quarterback in high school, which hints at leadership qualities.

8:30— 76ers take Mikal Bridges, a 4-year player who played on two national title teams with Villanova. He is 6-7 wth a 7-2 wingspan; Billups compares him to Nicolas Batum of the Hornets. 

Bridges’ mother is VP of Human Resources with the 76ers. 

8:37: Charlotte Hornets take a Canadian PG and another Kentucky player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who reminds Billups of Michael Carter-Williams, but the kid will be traded to the Clippers. I’d rather live in LA than Charlotte anyway, but no one asked me. 

He shot 40.4% on the arc and 82% on the foul line, both good things, and he didn’t start early last season- he earned his way into the starting lineup. 

ESPN has an international scouting guy named Mike Schmitz on; he says Gilgeous-Alexander was the best guard in the draft. 

8:43: Clippers draft Miles Bridges, who will be traded to the Hornets. Bridges would’ve been a high draft pick LY; Billups compares him to Shawn Marion, a pretty big compliment. 

Clippers gave Charlotte two future 2nd-round picks to swap the 11th and 12th picks. 

8:48: University of Buffalo’s social media people posted this on Twitter: 

“Congrats to @DeandreAyton on being selected #1 overall in the #NBADraft by the @Suns! We hope your @NBA career starts better than your college one ended”

Wow. Ayton’s college career ended with an ugly loss to Buffalo. 

8:50: NBA Lottery started in 1985; Boston College’s Jerome Robinson is the Eagles’ first player ever taken in the lottery— Clippers took him at #13. John Bagley was the 12th pick in the ’82 Draft, taken by Cleveland. 

Tonight is June 21; on July 6, the NBA Summer League begins in Las Vegas, so these kids who get drafted will be fighting for jobs in 16 short days, against other kids who didn’t get drafted and veterans who’ve played in the NBA before, or are fighting to get there. Very competitive. 

8:54: Denver owner Stan Kroenke’s son Josh started for Missouri’s hoop team 15 or so years ago; if they don’t take Michael Porter Jr, who the hell will?

8:58: Nuggets draft Porter; their trainer should ask for a raise. Billups compares him to Kevin Durant, which is a total insult to Durant. Porter played three college games, and one of them was for two whole minutes. He is more suspect than prospect. 

In totally unrelated news, Flava Flav threw out the first pitch at the Richmond Flying Squirrels game tonight. Squirrels are the AA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. They had 6,117 fans in Richmond, for a game that was shortened by rain. 

9:06: Washington Wizards take Oregon alum Troy Brown, who I think is a Las Vegas kid and is considered a versatile player. Billups compares him to Andre Iguodala. 

There is a guy sitting next to Arizona coach Sean Miller who has the shiniest bald head I’ve ever seen. As a bald man myself, just don’t have the energy to do that day after day, keep my head totally slick. Plus I’d look like Mr Potato Head if I did that, so no thanks. 

9:14: Zhaire Smith played one year at Texas Tech; the Suns drafted him, but he’s getting traded to the 76ers for Mikal Bridges, which puts the kibosh on Mrs Bridges’ happiness from 45 minutes ago. Smith wasn’t an ESPN top 100 recruit coming out of high school- it is rare for a player like that to be drafted so high. 

9:22: Milwaukee Bucks take Donte DiVincenzo, who started only 10 of Villanova’s 40 games LY, but he played starter’s minutes (29.7 mpg), scoring 13.4 ppg, making 40.1% on the arc, in his only season of college ball. 

He scored 31 points in the national championship game, but anytime I hear a kid raised his draft stock in the Combine, it bothers me. Billups compares him to Tyler Johnson. 

Random fact; over half the players in the NBA (53%) have played in the G-League. 

Talk about draft/trades in the NBA; on June 24, 1998, Dirk Nowitzki was traded by Bucks with Pat Garrity to the Mavericks for Robert Traylor. How did that work out? 

9:29: San Antonio Spurs drafted G Lonnie Walker from Miami, FL, who has had knee issues and also has ballhandling/defensive issues, but he can score. Spurs’ coaches will develop him. Not many kids who go to high school in Reading, PA go to college in Miami. 

9:34: Atlanta Hawks take a kid from the Albany area, Kevin Huerter from Maryland. Huerter’s dad and brother play/played for Siena College; Kevin is an excellent shooter; good luck to the young man. I was surprised when he came out of school, but shooters are always in demand. 

People have too much money: LeBron James’ jersey from Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals just closed on @NBAAUCTIONS to a winning bid of $100,322. Oy. 

9:42: Minnesota takes Josh Okogie, a guard from Georgia Tech. Bilas says his man asset is that “…..he plays his tail off all the time.” No wingspan, no upside, he just tries hard. There are worse things someone can say about you. 

Budweiser just ran a commercial with John Starks, the old Knicks’ guard who talks about being undrafted, then fighting to make it in the NBA. Damn good commercial. 

Starks played 13 years in the NBA, scored over 10,800 points. 

9:46: Utah drafts Grayson Allen; Jazz are coached by Duke alum Quin Snyder. Now I have to watch all of Utah’s summer league games to see if someone kicks Allen’s ass. He got away with being a dirty player in college because Coach K sheltered him, but now he is out on his own. We’ll see how that works out. 

9:51: Chicago Bulls take Chandler Hutchison from Boise State. He is the first Boise player drafted since 1999, which should help their recruiting. Billups compares him to Kyle Kuzma. 

OK, I have Madison Bumgarner on my fantasy baseball team and he’s pitching in a few minutes, so time to grab some food and watch that game. Hope you enjoyed this…….

Wednesday’s List of 13: College football knowledge…….

13) Since 2009, Alabama has been an underdog once in 125 games; in 2015, Bama was a 1-point underdog at Georgia. Alabama hammered the Dawgs 38-10 that day. 

12) Over last decade, Texas A&M is 14-22-2 vs spread as an underdog; average total in their last five bowl games is 79.6. 

11) Since 2010, LSU is 14-7 vs spread coming off a straight-up loss; since 2012, they’re 22-28-1 vs spread coming off a win.  

10) Ole Miss is 17-8 vs spread in its last 25 games as road underdogs; favorites covered their last five bowl games, only one of which was decided by less than 14 points. 

9) Since Urban Meyer bolted Florida eight years ago, Florida is 12-19-1 vs spread coming off a loss. Over last decade, Gators are 2-5 as home dogs, 7-10-1 as road dogs, 15-8 as road favorites. 

8) Last three years, South Carolina is +23 in turnovers; underdogs covered their last four bowl games. In two years under Muschamp, Gamecocks are 11-5 vs spread in SEC games. 

7) Auburn lost four of its last five bowl games, allowing 34+ points in all four losses. Since 2009, Auburn is 12-6 as a home underdog. 

6) Arkansas hasn’t covered as a road favorite since 2010; they’re 0-5 since then. Razorbacks are 9-15-1 vs spread the last two years.

5) Kentucky lost its last four bowls; their last bowl win was in 2008. Last two years, Wildcats are 2-9 vs spread when favored. 

4) Tennessee is on its 5th coach in 11 years, not counting interim coaches; last two years, Vols were 1-6-1 vs spread as an underdog, 3-12-1 vs spread in SEC games. 

3) Vanderbilt was 1-7 vs spread in SEC games LY, ending a 6-year streak where Commodores went 5-3 vs spread in SEC tilts every year. Vandy QB Kyle Shurmur is the son of Giants’ coach Pat Shurmur. 

2) Since 2009, Ohio State is 9-1 vs spread as an underdog. 

1— Over last decade, Michigan is 16-31 vs spread in road games. Wolverines lost four of their last five bowl games. Last four years, Michigan is -17 in turnovers. 

Friday’s List of 13: Our first 2018 dose of college football knowledge

One of the best days each summer is when the Phill Steele college football magazine comes in the mail. It is a great resource to use all season long. 

13) According to Phil Steele Magazine, the three toughest college football schedules for 2018 are: 1) UCLA, 2) Purdue 3) Michigan 

12) Best three offensive lines: 1) Wisconsin (150 starts back) 2) Georgia (69 starts) 3) Alabama (103 starts). 

11) Offensive lines with most returning starts: Wisconsin (150), Boston College (139), Wake Forest (131), Florida Int’l (129). 

10) Four best QB’s: Will Grier (West Va), McKenzie Milton (UCF), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), Jake Browning (Washington).

9) Four best kickers: Matt Gay (Utah), Austin Seibert (Oklahoma), Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia), Jameson Vest (Toledo).

8) Tulsa was the only team in America last year that lost five games by a TD or less. They didn’t win any games by a TD or less.

7) Army won six games LY by a TD or less; they lost two games by a TD or less. Troy and North Texas both won five games LY by a TD or less; they didn’t lose any. South Carolina won five and lost one. 

6) Since 1991, 369 teams have been +10 or better in turnovers in a season; of those 369 teams, 240 had worse records the next year. Only 85 (23%) had better records the next year. 

Over the last seven years, only 6 of 48 teams who were +14 or better in turnovers had a better record the following season. 

Best turnover ratios is 2017: Wyoming (+24), UCF (+17), Stanford (+16), Memphis (+15). 

5) In the past 27 years, 311 teams were -10 or worse in turnovers; of those 311 teams, 208 of them had better records the following season. 

Worst turnover ratios in 2017: San Jose St (-26), Rice (-23), Kansas (-17), New Mexico (-16). 

4) Four teams Phil Steele thinks will be the most improved this year: Florida, Utah State, North Carolina, Colorado. 

3) Underdogs are 4-0-1 vs spread in last five national championship games (3-2 SU). 

2) Over last four years, underdogs are 4-1 vs spread in these bowls: Orange, Holiday, Pinstripe, New Mexico Bowls. 

1) The current King of Bowls is Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who is 11-1 as a head coach in bowl games. 

Thursday’s List of 13: Happy Armadillo Day!!!!

13) 17 years ago today, was born; the world has changed a lot since then, not always for the better, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this space, thru good and bad. 

As year #18 begins here, let’s hope the world becomes a happier, more cohesive place. 

12) June 14 also means it is my friend Big Dawg’s 29th birthday (again); happy birthday!!! 

11) Nationals 5, New York 4— Juan Soto is 19 years old; he is hitting .349 in his first 20 major league games and hit two homers in this game. 

Soto played only eight games in the AA Eastern League, batting 31 times; he skipped over AAA, which is very unusual, but Soto appears to be an unusual talent. 

10) Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera (biceps) is done for the year, but a doctor posted on Twitter Tuesday night that he should be 100% for 2019. 

Tigers are on the hook for $154M for Cabrera AFTER this year (2019-23). He better be 100%. 

9) Ruben Amaro Jr is first base coach for the Mets this year, which is only newsworthy because from 2009-15, he was general manager of the Phillies. Guys don’t go from being GM’s to base coaches, very unusual. 

Amaro took over the Phillies the year after they won the World Series, let their nucleus get a little too old before he broke it up, then got fired. 

Now he is trying to work his way up into becoming a field manager. Interesting career. 

8) Speaking of the Mets, they hit .147 on their recent 9-game homestand. Thats the worst batting average EVER for any homestand of 7+ games, for any team in baseball history. 

7) In 1970, Bob Gibson went 23-7 pitching and hit .303; he is the only pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award and hit .300 in the same season. 

6) Someone at the Westgate SuperBook bet $1,200 Tuesday on Eldrick Woods to win the US Open this week at 20-1. 

5) Paid attendance in Miami Tuesday night for Giants-Marlins; 5,928 (announced). As the old saying goes, many of those 5,928 “fans” were disguised as empty seats.

4) Braves 2, Mets 0— Jacob deGrom pitched Wednesday; he has a 1.31 RA in his last eight starts, but won only one of the eight games. Mets haven’t hit for him, and the bullpen has blown leads late in the game for him. 

Braves pitched Mike Soroka had a no-hitter thru six innings, trying to become the third Canadian pitcher to throw a big league no-hitter. 

3) There have been two no-hitters thrown by Canadian pitchers; James Paxton in Toronto earlier this season, and on September 9, 1945, Philadelphia’s Dick Fowler no-hit the St Louis Browns 1-0 in the second game of a doubleheader. 

That was Fowler’s first start in three years; he had served in the Canadian Army during World War II and this was his first start after returning from the war. 

Fowler wound up going 66-79 in 10 years in the major leagues, all with the A’s; he passed away at age 51 in Oneonta, NY.

2) Major league umpire Stu Scheurwater is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, not a place you’d expect a major league umpire to come from.

1) Seven weeks left until the trade deadline in baseball; media types will keep themselves busy with useless speculation. Wake me up when an actual trade happens.

Why I call it useless speculation; Mets have already said that deGrom isn’t available, but until he’s still a Met on August 1, you’ll see speculation that he’s going to be traded. 

May 17, 1979: Phillies 23, Cubs 22….a recap

On May 17, 1979, Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 in 10 innings, in one of the strangest games ever:

13) Phillies were 24-10 at the time; Chicago was 16-16. Cubs had 26 hits in the game, Phils had 24. 

12) The game was 7-6 Phillies, after the first inning. Somewhere, someone bet the under in this game. 

11) Phillies starting pitcher Randy Lerch homered in the top of the first inning, never finished the bottom of the first. Both starting pitchers got only one out before being removed. 

10) Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt hit 3rd/4th in Phillies’ order; they combined to score seven runs and knock in eight. Light-hitting Larry Bowa was 5 for 8 in the game. 

9) Bob Boone was 3-4 with five RBI’s; his son Aaron is now the manager in the Bronx. Boone and Schmidt were both walked intentionally twice. 

8) Reliever Tug McGraw faced 10 batters; seven of them scored. McGraw is the father of the great singer Tim McGraw. 

7) 22 of the first 53 Cubs who came to bat scored, but Rawly Eastwick slammed the door shut in the last two innings, retiring all six Cubs he faced. 

6) Donnie Moore faced 14 batters and seven of them scored, but he did hit a triple, one of his two career three-baggers. 

5) Phillies led this game 21-9 in the 5th inning but Cubs tied the game off of Ron Reed in the 8th inning; Reed pitched 19 years in the major leagues and also played 119 games for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons from 1965-67. 

4) Dave Kingman hit three homers for the Cubs; Bill Buckner knocked in seven runs, seven years before his infamous error in the ’86 World Series. 

3) Phillies went home the next day and got swept in a 3-game series by the Expos. Chicago lost its next four games after this one. 

2) 1979 turned out to be the only year in a six-year stretch where the Phillies missed the playoffs; they finished 84-78, the Cubs 80-82. 

Phillies fired manager Danny Ozark late in 1979, hired Dallas Green and won the ’80 World Series. 

1) Naysayers like to criticize baseball now but attendance that day was 14,952; when was last time the Cubs drew less than 15,000 for a home game? 

Thursday’s List of 13: NFC trends for 2018……

Arizona— Cardinals won four of their last five post-bye games. 

Atlanta— Falcons are 12-2 vs spread in last 14 home openers; under is 10-3 in their last 13 road openers. 

Carolina— Panthers open at home for only 2nd time in last seven years; they’re 0-5 last five times they started season at home. Carolina’s last Week 1 home win was in 2003. 

Chicago— Bears open on road for only 2nd time in last nine years; they’re 2-5 in last seven road openers. Under is 12-2 in their last 14 road openers. 

Dallas— Cowboys played Giants in Week 1 five of last six years; they host Big Blue in Week 2 this year. Dallas covered nine of last 11 road openers. Under is 5-2 in their last seven home openers. 

Detroit— Lions won five of their last seven home openers; over is 6-2 in their last eight. Detroit started season 1-0 six of last seven years. 

Green Bay— Packers won 10 of their last 11 home openers. Over is 10-2 in their last 12 road openers. Green Bay is 0-5 vs spread in last five pre-bye games. 

LA Rams— Rams won five of their last six home openers; they’re 2-14 in last 16 road openers, 3-15 vs spread in last 18. LA is 8-2-1 vs spread in last 11 post-bye games. 

Minnesota— Vikings won eight of their last nine pre-bye games (9-0 vs spread); they’re 2-7 vs spread in last nine post-bye road games. Minnesota won/covered its last three home openers. Under is 10-4 in their last 14 road openers. 

NJ Giants— Giants lost five of their last six home openers (0-6 vs spread); five of those six games stayed under. This will be first time in six years Big Blue opens the season at home; they open against Tom Coughlin’s Jaguars. 

New Orleans— Saints lost their last three home openers, six of last seven road openers- they started last four seasons 0-1. Saints are 7-1-1 vs spread in last nine post-bye games. 

Philadelphia— Eagles won eight of their last nine road openers, three of last four home openers. Under is 7-3-1 in their last 11 home openers. Philly is 7-3 vs spread in its last 10 pre-bye games. 

San Francisco— 49ers won six of last nine home openers (7-2 vs spread), last four of which stayed under. Niners are 0-5-1 SU, 0-6 vs spread in last six post-bye games; they won/covered six of last eight pre-bye games. 

Seattle— Seahawks open on road for 6th time in last eight years; they lost their first road game 10 of last 11 years; they’re 1-12 vs spread in last 13 road openers. Seahawks won last nine home openers (7-2 vs spread). Seattle won its last seven pre-bye games (6-1 vs spread). 

Tampa Bay— Bucs lost four of last five home openers; they didn’t play in Week 1 LY because of a hurricane. Over is 7-3 in their last ten home openers. Tampa Bay is 8-4 vs spread in last dozen post-bye games. 

Washington— Redskins lost five of their last six home openers; they’re 2-6 vs spread last eight times they were favored in a home opener. Redskins are 3-6-1 vs spread in last 10 pre-bye games, 2-7 vs spread in last nine post-bye games. 

Tuesday’s Den: AFC teams’ early season trends…..

Baltimore— Ravens won 11 of last 13 home openers; under is 4-1 in last five of those. Baltimore is 13-3 vs spread in last 16 post-bye games. 

Buffalo— Last 18 years, Bills are 2-16 in their pre-bye game. Buffalo is 8-3 vs spread in its last 11 home openers. 

Cincinnati— Bengals open on road for 8th time in last nine years; over is 8-1 in their last nine road openers. Cincy is 4-0-1 in last five pre-bye games. 

Cleveland— Since re-joining the NFL in 1999, Browns started season 0-1 18 out of 19 years; they’re 3-12 vs spread in Week 1 home games. 

Denver— Broncos open at home for 8th year in row; they’re 26-3 SU in last 29 home openers,6-3 vs spread in last nine. Broncos won six of last seven post-bye games. 

Houston— Texans open on road for only 2nd time in last 10 years; they won seven of last nine road openers. Under is 5-2 in their last seven season openers. 

Indianapolis— Colts lost their last four home openers, three by 4 or fewer points. Indy started season 0-1 seven of last eight years- they’re 1-9 vs spread in Week 1 the last ten years. 

Jacksonville— Jaguars lost last six home openers, four of last five road openers. Last time they were favored in a home opener was 2010; their HO this year is against New England, so they probably won’t be favored this year, either. 

Kansas City— Since 2006, Chiefs are 1-8-1 vs spread as favorites in home openers. KC is on road three of first four weeks this season, with a QB who has started one NFL game. 

LA Chargers— Bolts covered five of their last six home openers; over is 12-3 in their last 15. Chargers lost their last four road openers, but covered five of last six. Chargers lost five of their last six pre-bye games (1-5 vs spread). 

Miami— Dolphins won five of last six home openers; eight of their last nine home openers went over the total. Miami also covered four of last five road openers; under is 19-5 in last 24 road openers. 

New England— Patriots won six of last seven road openers (5-2 vs spread); they’re 14-2 SU in last 16 home openers, but just 1-5 vs spread in last six. New England won its last nine pre-bye games (8-1 vs spread). 

NJ Jets— Jets won six of last seven home openers; they’re 15-6 vs spread in last 21 road openers. Gang Green is 3-6 vs spread in last nine post-bye games. 

Oakland— Raiders won their last three road openers, are 4-0-1 vs spread in last five; they lost four of last six home openers, last four of which went over the total. Oakland covered five of its last six post-bye games. 

Pittsburgh— Steelers won 14 of last 15 home openers, are 10-3 vs spread in last 13. Under is 7-2 in their last nine home openers. Pitt lost five of last seven road openers; they’re 2-8-1 vs spread in last 11. Steelers covered only one of last seven post-bye games. 

Tennessee— Titans lost five of last six home openers; they’re 9-2 vs spread in last 11 road openers. Under is 16-5 in their last 21 road openers. Titans are 2-6 vs spread in last eight post-bye games. 

Friday’s List of 13: Questions, questions, always questions……..

13) Why do baseball teams in New York City, Boston, Philly and Washington all have new managers this year, none of whom ever managed in the majors before? 

Its like all of a sudden the over-educated geniuses in the front office decided that a manager is an overrated thing. There is a human element in sports that should never be discounted, even though it can’t really be quantified. 

12) Why does an NFL prospect jump up the draft charts so far, from the time the college season ends to the draft? Games should count more than workouts. 

If the NFL Draft had been held on February 1st, I don’t think Baker Mayfield is the #1 pick. 

11) Why didn’t the Twins put a retractable dome on their ballpark? If you look at attendance in Milwaukee, Twins are losing out on 300-400,000 paid admissions a year by not having a roof. 

10) Shouldn’t high school basketball players be able to go pro right from high school, the way baseball players can? 

9) If baseball expands to 32 teams, would they dare expand to Montreal and Monterrey, MX in the same year. Seems like Portland, OR wants a team; wonder if the A’s would go there? 

8) Why are the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights so good? They’re the most successful expansion team in the history of the four major sports.

7) Why do some teams bat their pitchers 8th? It makes no sense. No one has done it in a playoff game, which tells me it is a gimmick no one truly believes in. 

6) Should a convicted felon be allowed to hold political office in this country? 

5) Shouldn’t baseball writers be able to come up with more interesting stories on April 30 than their annual speculation on which big-money teams will poach good players from small market teams at the trade deadline, which is July 31? 

4) Shouldn’t the NBA move its draft around the country, like the NHL and NFL do? Seems to generate lot of interest in the host city. 

3) Why does only one league have the DH? Who thought that was a good idea? 

2) Why doesn’t every college student take a money management course? Wouldn’t that be a good thing to be well-versed in when you get out in the real world? Managing your time and your money are very important. 

1) Why did the Red Sox fire Terry Francona as their manager? Guy won them two World Series after a drought of almost 100 years, and they get rid of the guy after 89-73/90-72 seasons.  

Friday’s Den: Running diary of first two hours of NFL Draft

8:16: Cleveland Browns take Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with the #1 pick in the draft; time will tell on all these picks, but my quick analysis is this— when we last watched actual college football games, no one had Mayfield in the top 10 picks. No one. 

Now all of a sudden, he is the #1 pick. The team that took Johnny Manziel took a guy who has a lot of similarities to Manziel. 

Cleveland is 2-41 in its last 43 games; they traded for Buffalo’s QB Tyrod Taylor this winter. How long before Mayfield gets to play for the Browns? 

8:21: Giants take Sequon Barkley and my godson, a huge Giants fan, isn’t happy— he wanted Big Blue to take Sam Darnold or trade out of the pick. 

Have to think the Giants could’ve gotten a boatload of picks from Buffalo to move out of this spot, but they didn’t. 

Is it possible that Eli Manning is the real GM of the Giants? They fired Ben McAdoo LY when he benched Eli for a game, after Eli had gotten Tom Coughlin fired the year before. Manning is a 37-year old QB who needs a better offensive line than he currently has. 

8:29: Jets and Giants didn’t use up much time; Jets grab QB Sam Darnold from USC. 

NFL Network has Deion Sanders doing player interviews; I can’t stand him, so it is off to ESPN, where they just had a package about how Darnold’s parents, grandfather and sister all played college sports. I’m sure the Jets drafted Darnold because his sister played volleyball at Rhode Island. 

Cleveland has had 28 different starting QB’s since 1999; that not good. 

8:36: With the second pick of the night, Cleveland takes Denzel Ward, a DB from Ohio State which means that QB’s Allen/Rosen are now sliding down the draft board, since Denver and the Colts don’t need a quarterback, and they have the next two picks. 

8:43: Broncos have to be happier than hell to get Bradley Chubb, the DE from NC State. No way did they think he would be available with the 5th pick. 

8:47: Colts take offensive lineman Quentin Nelson from Notre Dame; Andrew Luck will be a happy guy, but not often a guard is the #6 player in the draft. 

8:53: Finally, the Bills make a trade- they move up to the #7 pick. They take Josh Allen; he might be only kid in country where playing for Buffalo is a weather upgrade. 

Tampa Bay got two second round picks to drop down to #12; good haul for them. 

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock thinks Allen is a project; right now, AJ McCarron is the Buffalo QB, so the project will hit the field sooner than later. 

Allen and Carson Wentz had the same college coach; Craig Bohl, who won multiple I-AA national titles at North Dakota State. That had to help Allen here. 

9:01: Chicago Bears take Roquan Smith, a LB from Georgia; Bears’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio got a hole-in-one playing golf Thursday, so that plus drafting Smith makes it a big day for Fangio.

49ers, Raiders are next on the clock and don’t need a QB; Josh Rosen can’t be having fun right now. 

9:04: 49ers take Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey; Fighting Irish had two offensive linemen taken in top nine picks- their OL coach has bolted and now works for the Bears, who didn’t take an offensive lineman. 

9:09: Arizona trades with Oakland to move up to #10; Carson Palmer retired and Sam Bradford is always hurt, so this has to be a quarterback, doesn’t it? 

Josh Rosen is an Arizona Cardinal, taken 10th; he is the 4th QB taken in the draft. Last time five QB’s were taken in the first round was 1999. It is good to play QB in a dome; eight home games indoors, plus at least two road games in California every year. 

Of course, the term “chip on his shoulder” got tossed around, since Rosen slipped out of the top five. 

9:18: Dolphins take S Minkah Fitzpatrick, as Nick Saban contributes a player to the team he used to coach. 

This is the 10th year in a row Alabama had a player taken in the first round of the draft. 

9:24: Tampa Bay takes Vita Vea, a defensive tackle from Washington. Bucs traded for Jason Pierre-Paul and drafted this guy, so they’re intent on improving their defense. 

Couple of guys on TV said Via has to work to control his weight so he’ll be more durable and have better stamina. 

9:31: Washington Redskins aren’t popular in Dallas, but they took Da’Ron Payne, a DT from Alabama. Having two of the top 13 players selected has to help your recruiting, right? 

Imagine how different college football would’ve been for the last decade if Nick Saban had won while coaching the Dolphins and stayed there? 

9:40: Saints traded next year’s #1 pick to move up from #27 to #14; they took DE Marcus Davenport from UTSA, after guys from NFL Network went on for five minutes about how great Lamar Jackson would be playing for the Saints. Whoops. 

They must really love Davenport, to trade a #1 pick to the Packers to move up. Saints DL coach Ryan Nielsen and UTSA coach Frank Wilson worked together at Ole Miss, so he must know. 

Green Bay now has two #1 picks next season. 

9:45: Oakland takes T Colton Miller, then Bills traded up to #16 to take Tremaine Edmunds a LB from Virginia Tech. 

9:56: Chargers get a steal with S Derwin James from Florida State; he was hurt a couple years ago when Showtime did their reality show on FSU football. Good kid; he’ll help them. 

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

13) Here are record of major league teams with best/worst records in games where winning run scores after the 6th inning: 

Best: Mets 8-2, Phillies 7-2, Blue Jays 6-2, Rockies 4-0
Worst: Bronx 0-5, Indians 1-5, Nationals 1-5, Padres 1-5

12) Mentioned yesterday how 181 college players declared early for an NBA Draft where only 60 players will be taken. Last year, 137 players declared early.

11) Thing is, if he didn’t hire an agent, the player who declares can go thru workouts, get an evaluation, then drop out of the draft if he isn’t  going to be drafted as high as he would like and go back to college— its a no-lose situation for the player, which is why lot of guys do it. 

10) In last five NFL Drafts, only three teams haven’t drafted a player who has made at least one Pro Bowl; Bills, Broncos, Colts. 

9) Braves called up prize prospect Ronald Acuna Tuesday night; he was 11 for his last 33 in AAA ball. 

8) When Marlins’ OF Cameron Maybin was a kid in Asheville, NC, he had an excellent summer job one year. He was batboy for the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League, the same team Crash Davis wound up playing for at the end of the classic movie, Bull Durham.

7) Baltimore Orioles are off to an awful 6-17 start; their starting pitching is suspect, and it could be a long year at Camden Yards. Without starting pitching, you have no chance to compete. 

From 2013-16, Baltimore hurler Chris Tillman was 56-30 with a 3.62 ERA, a good pitcher. Things have changed. 

Since May 24, 2017, in 19 starts, Tillman is 0-11, 9.35. Is he hurt? Is he tipping his pitches? Something is amiss. 

6) Richmond Spiders had a QB named Kyle Lauletta, who may or may not be drafted tonight; watching some clips of him, one thing is very obvious; Richmond’s football team has great helmets- that spider logo looks tremendous on a helmet, either dark blue or white. 

5) Former Vikings’ coach Brad Childress will be head coach, Michael Vick offensive coordinator of the Atlanta team in the new AAF, a spring football league that starts next year. 

4) According to Ian O’Connor of, Josh Rosen went to the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana in 2016 and did not make a favorable impression while there. 

Manning Passing Academy bills itself as “…..the premier offensive football skills camp in the nation for QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs.”

Friend of mine’s son went there 15 or so years ago; former LSU/Patriots’ QB Tom Hodson was his camp counselor.

3) I have two friends who know more about football than any of my other friends; one says Josh Rosen is the best QB in the draft, the other says Baker Mayfield, so go figure. 

2) Clemson QB Deshaun Watson was the 12th pick in last year’s NFL Draft; I will predict right here that none of the QB’s in this year’s draft will be as good as Watson. Teams messed up last year when they dismissed Watson. 

1) President Macron of France is 39 years old; his wife just turned 65. 

When Macron was 15, he was a student and Brigitte Trogneux was a 40-year old teacher at La Providence, a private school in Amiens, northern France. At the time, she was married with three kids. 

In this country, the scandalous affair that followed would have been serious trouble for Ms Trogneaux, who is now Mrs Macron. Not so in France. 

In today’s world, it is just another day, another weird day.

Friday’s List of 13: Quick thoughts on the 2018 NFL schedule

Thoughts/comments on the NFL schedule release:
13) Week 1 Monday night doubleheader: Jets @ Lions, then Rams @ Raiders. 

Super Bowl champion Eagles open on Thursday Sept 6 at home against Atlanta. 

12) NFL went traditional rival-heavy for its Thanksgiving Day slate: Chicago-Detroit; Washington-Dallas; Atlanta-New Orleans. Good set of games. 

This is third year in row the Redskins play on Thanksgiving Day.

11) Only four divisional games in Week 1, which is a good idea. Every game in Week 17 is a divisional game. 

10) There is a Week 16 Monday night game on Christmas Eve; Broncos @ Raiders. 

9) A sign the NFL doesn’t think you’re good: Miami Dolphins have a Week 8 Thursday night game in Houston- their other 15 games appear to be 1:00 Sunday games. If you NEVER play a 4:25 Sunday game, the league office isn’t too optimistic about your chances. 

8) Rams-Chiefs in Mexico City on Monday night, November 19. Bye week the next week for both teams, which is weird but good for the team, having a bye week over Thanksgiving. 

7) Chargers visit Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver in December, three potential cold weather games. Rams go to Chicago December 9, which will probably be a cruddy weather day. 

6) Three teams have the unenviable “3 road games in 3 weeks” scenario:
— Ravens go to Pittsburgh-Cleveland-Tennessee in weeks 4-6
— Rams go to Seattle-Denver-San Francisco in weeks 5-7
— Saints go to Dallas-Tampa Bay-Carolina in weeks 13-15, but the Week 13 game is a Thursday game so they’ll have extra rest in there before the Bucs’ game.

11 teams have three home games in a row. 

5) For first time since 2009, Bears open the season at Lambeau Field against the Packers, in the Week 1 Sunday night game. 

4) Giants play four road games in domes, which at first glance is most in the league. 

3) Speaking of domes, Lions/Saints both play three road games in domes, giving them only five outdoor games apiece this season. 

2) In next few days, Las Vegas oddsmakers will have spreads for every game thru Week 16. Season over/under win totals don’t come out until after next week’s draft.

1) Here are the Week 1 NFL spreads from the Westgate SuperBook:

Falcons @ Philadelphia (-3.5, 47.5)
Steelers (-7, 48) @ Cleveland
49ers @ Minnesota (-4.5, 47.5)
Bengals @ Indianapolis (-1, 47.5)
Bills @ Ravens (-3.5, 42)
Jaguars (-4, 44.5) @ Giants
Buccaneers @ New Orleans (-7.5, 52.5)
Texans @ New England (-7, 51)
Titans (-2.5, 47) @ Miami
Chiefs @ LA Chargers (-3, 48.5)
Seahawks @ Denver (-2.5, 42)
Cowboys @ Carolina (-2.5, 45)
Redskins @ Arizona (-1, 45)
Bears @ Green Bay (-9, 48.5)
Jets @ Detroit (-6, 44)
Rams (even, 49.5) @ Oakland 

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

13) One of the basic truths of life: Baseball players get hurt a lot. Season started with 113 players on the disabled list, little less than four players per team. 

12) There were 925 sacrifice bunts in the major leagues LY, fewest of any season since 1900. 

11) When Ichiro Suzuki gets inducted into the Hall of Fame someday, it’ll a proud day for retired P Ryan Vogelsong. Ichiro was 0-15 in his career against Vogelsong. 

10) New England now has four of the first 63 picks in the NFL Draft in three weeks. This is the first time since 1998 the Patriots have two 1st-round picks and two 2nd-round picks in a draft.

9) 80-year old Jim Harrick, who won a national title at UCLA in 1995, will be on Mark Gottfried’s staff at Cal-Northridge next winter. Gottfried was an assistant on that UCLA staff in ’95, with Lorenzo Romar and Steve Lavin. 

8) Most NCAA tournament wins since 2000:
Kansas 49, North Carolina 48, Duke 46, Mich State/Kentucky 42

7) Dodgers pitchers allowed 8 bases-loaded walks all of last season; they issued three in the 7th inning alone Tuesday night in Arizona. 

6) They had the par-3 tournament at Augusta National Wednesday; guys can have whoever they want caddy for them, and Jack Nicklaus had one of his grandsons caddy for him. They let the caddies hit a few shots, and the 15-year old grandson gets a hole-in-one, his first ever. Wow. 

5) Pro golfer Tony Finau also got a hole-in-one Wednesday, but he dislocated his ankle while he was celebrating the ace. He put the ankle back in place and finished his round. Was odd to see; he just reached down and put the ankle back in place. 

4) Thursday, Baltimore Ravens’ GM/coach Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh will be questioned under oath as part of the Colin Kaepernick collusion grievance. 

Wednesday, the Ravens gave QB Robert Griffin III a one-year, $1M contract for 2018. 

Maybe I watch too many movies, but I’m thinking this isn’t a coincidence. 

3) College basketball coaching carousel:
— St Peter’s coach John Donne stays in the MAAC, but moves to Marist.
— Rhode Island promoted assistant David Cox to head coach.
— East Carolina signed Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley as its new coach.
— South Dakota hired Grand Canyon assistant Todd Lee as its new coach.  

2) Cardinals led off Tuesday’s game with back/back homers off of Chase Anderson; last time the Redbirds started a game that way was when Curt Flood and Gene Freese led off with home runs off a guy named Sandy Koufax, on August 17, 1958. 

1— Colorado Rockies gave Charlie Blackmon a 6-year, $108M contract, so he is staying in the friendly confines of Coors Field and will never, ever get traded in our fantasy league.

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

13) Rams traded 1st and 6th-round draft picks to New England Tuesday for WR Brandin Cooks and a 4th-round pick. Two things about this:

a) I no longer have to worry about the Rams trading for Odell Beckham
b) Rams still have eight draft picks, but only one of their original picks- four of those eight picks are in the 6th round. Their first pick right now will be the 87th selection. 

12) This means all those geniuses who do a mock draft every 36 hours get to do more of them, since the #23 pick moves to the Patriots. Still 22 days until the draft. 

11) Louisville QB Lamar Jackson is being advised by his mother instead of by an agent. No one knows what this means exactly, since the mom is a private person and hasn’t said much. Will be curious to see if an agent is hired once a team drafts him, and negotiations for a contract begin. 

One thing, for sure; Lamar Jackson is going to play QB, and only QB. 

10) This was the 4th time in last five years the college basketball national champ went 6-0 vs spread in its NCAA tournament games.

9) This is a little hard to believe, but they said on TV Monday night that Padres’ reliever Adam Cimber is first the major leaguer ever to wear number 90. 

8) Arizona 8, Dodgers 7 (15)— This game ended at 3:26am Tuesday morning; had the game gone to the 16th inning, both teams would’ve used position players to pitch.

7) Two pitchers have already been removed from games this season with a no-hitter going: Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson Saturday in Baltimore, Pirates’ Trevor Williams Sunday in Detroit. 

6) A’s drew only 7,416 fans for their home game with Texas Monday night, their smallest home crowd since 2003. Oy. 

A’s drew 9,157 fans last night on Free Parking Tuesday, which doesn’t seem like a big promotion until you realize they charge $30 to park a car in Oakland. 

5) There were 144 hitters last year who got enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title; 89 of them hit 20+ home runs, which means 61.8% of hitters who qualified for the batting title hit 20+ homers. In 2014, that number was 32%.

4) Number of times a pitcher went thru the opponent’s whole lineup three times in a game:
2017    1,196 (39.9 per team, out of 162 games)
2016    1,405
2015    1,670
2014    1,906

Unless the guy is an ace or really rolling that night, starting pitchers aren’t allowed to go thru the lineup three times anymore. 

3) Rhode Island Rams were apparently going to hire Rick Pitino as their new basketball coach, until the school president put the kibosh on that. Now what? 

2) San Diego 3B Christian Villanueva was 0-4 for the season before Tuesday; he hit three homers for the Padres last night in their win over Colorado.

1— Brewers 5, Cardinals 4— Christian Yelich tied game with a dramatic two-out HR in the 9th, then Ryan Braun won it with a walk-off tater. 

This was the first game in MLB history where the first two batters of the game homered, and also the last two.