Tuesday’s List of 13: Athletes who became actors…….

13) Marc Blucas— Played basketball at Wake Forest with Tim Duncan, was one of the stars of Necessary Roughness, a series that ran on USA Network for a couple years. He’s been in a lot of things since then; guest spots on CSI, Killer Women and The Fix.

12) Carl Weathers— Most famous for playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky series, Weathers played CB for the Oakland Raiders for a couple years, in the CFL for another three years.

11) Alex Karras— Was a great defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions; he also had 39 acting credits, most notably Against All Odds, Blazing Saddles and the TV series Webster.

10) Terry Crews— Played for the Rams, Chargers, and Redskins, from 1991-95; he’s been in a lot of stuff: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Arrested Development, Draft Day. He looks like a body builder to this day, even at age 51.

9) Chuck Connors— The Rifleman from 60’s TV also played a little bit in both the NBA (Celtics) and major leagues (Dodgers, Cubs). A Hollywood casting agent saw him hit a homer in a winter league baseball game, and when Connors backpedaled around the bases, the agent knew he found an entertainer.

8) Ed Marinaro— Was a RB for the Vikings for six years, then became an actor, appearing in Hill Street Blues, Sisters, Champs. He has 60 acting credits. 

7) Merlin Olsen— Followed up a terrific football career with the Rams (the football field at Utah State is named after him) by becoming an actor, appearing in Little House on the Prairie, Father Murphy, and also had a great gig doing commercials for FTP Florists.

6) Bob Uecker— Mediocre major league catcher (hit exactly .200 for his career) becomes one of the funniest people ever. Was the dad in Mister Belvedere; he should’ve won an Oscar for his portrayal of Indians’ radio announcer Harry Doyle in Major League.

When the Brewers cane to LA, Johnny Carson would have Uecker on The Tonight Show, just because he was so damn funny. Thats the ultimate compliment.

5) Fred Dryer— Another former Rams’ lineman who became an actor, starring in Hunter and also 46 other movies/TV shows, including NCIS, Cheers, Cannonball Run 2, Lou Grant and Laverne & Shirley. Dryer played 11 years in the NFL, was a very good defensive end.

4) Mark Harmon— Former UCLA QB whose dad was Tom Harmon, a great player at Michigan; Mark Harmon is best known now for NCIS, but he’s also been in Summer School, West Wing, Chicago Hope, Charlie Grace and Reasonable Doubts. An excellent acting career.

3) Burt Reynolds— Very famous actor was a running back at Florida State, where the QB at the time was Lee Corso, who has become famous for his ESPN GameDay career.

2) Dwayne Johnson— Pro wrestler-turned-actor was Warren Sapp’s backup on the defensive line at Miami, FL; The Rock makes a lot of movies and must be making a freakin’ fortune.

1) Jim Brown— Arguably the greatest athlete ever (football/lacrosse), Brown has 52 acting credits; he was in He Got Game, Any Given Sunday, Draft Day, The Dirty Dozen, TJ Hooker, The A-Team.

Brown played nine years in the NFL, led league in rushing eight times. 

Monday’s Den: My favorite Batman villains (TV version)

When you’re a 6-year old whose name is Biff, and a TV show begins with a graphic that says “Whap!!! Pow!!! Biff!!!” you become a fan, a big fan.

My 13 favorite Batman (TV) villains
13) Chandell (Liberace)— The gifted piano player was both Chandell (the piano player) and his twin brother Harry who it turns out, was the real villain.

Trivia: Two Batman villains also had roles in Magnum PI; Howard Duff (Cabala) played Magnum’s grandfather. Barbara Rush (Nora Clavicle) played Magnum’s Aunt Phoebe, a playwright who had Alzheimer’s, and was also in another earlier episode.

12) Bookworm (Roddy McDowell)— Appeared in two episodes; Bookworm’s crimes were inspired by literary works, well, because he likes books.

McDowell also appeared in the Batman animated series in the early 90’s.

11) Colonel Gumm (Roger C Carmel)— He loved the color pink and was obsessed with stamps; Colonel Gumm appeared in the two-episode crossover with The Green Hornet, with Bruce Lee as Kato and Van Williams as the Green Hornet.

Trivia: There were three different Mr Freeze’s; Eli Wallach, Otto Preminger, George Sanders.

10) Siren (Joan Collins)— Played a sidekick to The Riddler’s devious plan to take over Gotham City’s boxing industry, but she also wanted to uncover Batman’s true identity.

9) The Archer (Art Carney)— Ed Norton from The Honeymooners was also a Batman villain!!!

Archer’s character was based (loosely) on Robin Hood; his henchmen were Maid Marilyn, Big John, and Crier Tuck.

8) King Tut (Victor Buono)— Appeared in eight episodes; Buono supposedly loved playing the character because it allowed him the chance to overact, one of the aspects of the character that made King Tut so beloved by fans.

7) Marsha, Queen of Diamonds (Carolyn Jones)— Better known for playing Morticia Addams on The Addams Family, Ms Jones was in five episodes of Batman, joining Addams Family cast members John Astin, Ted Cassidy in making Batman appearances.

6) Egghead (Vincent Price)— When I was a kid, would often substitute (eggs-ellent) for excellent when talking to my family. For a little kid, that was eggs-citing. Vincent Price was awesome in this role, an egg-centric guy with a very strangely-shaped head.

5) Mad Hatter (David Wayne)— This villain was obsessed with getting his hands on Batman’s cowl, which of course didn’t happen.

Wayne also appeared in four movies with Marilyn Monroe.

4) Penguin (Burgess Meredith)—Is more famous for playing Rocky Balboa’s trainer Mickey, but Meredith appeared in 20 Batman episodes, most of any villain.

3) Catwoman (Julie Newmar)— Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt also played Catwoman, but Julie Newman was the best of the three; she was 5-11, a prima ballerina for the Los Angeles Opera who graduated high school when she was 15.

in 2004, her next-door neighbor Jim Belushi sued her for $4M alleging harassment and defamation of character, as a result of a dispute over leaf-blowing.

2) Joker (Cesar Romero)— Appeared in 19 episodes, 2nd-most of any villain. Romero refused to shave his mustache and you can see it under his white face paint.

Romero had a long, excellent career; he appeared in the first Oceans Eleven (1960).

1) Riddler (Frank Gorshin)— No one wore the green body suit with the big ???’s on it better than Gorshin, who had a long career as a TV guest star, appearing in CSI, Wonder Woman and the original Hawaii Five-O, among many other shows.

John Astin played The Riddler for two episodes, but of course he was way more famous as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family

Wednesday’s Den: My plan for major league baseball……..

My plan for major league baseball……..
13) Total geographic realignement; no more American/National Leagues.
Northeast- Mets, Bronx, Phillies, Montreal, Red Sox, Orioles, Nationals, Toronto

South- Braves, Marlins, Rays, Cardinals. Nashville, Astros, Rangers, Royals,

Midwest- Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Tigers, Pirates, Indians, Reds

West- Giants, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Mariners, Rockies, Arizona, Portland.

12) You may have noticed four 8-team divisions, which is 32 teams, not 30. We think that the scheduling would be 1,000 times easier with 32 teams. Plus, we like 27-man rosters year-round, so that would be 84 new major league jobs, which the players’ union will like. 

A’s would move to Portland, which is building a 35,000-seat stadium, Montreal, Nashville get expansion teams.

11) Realignment reduces travel costs, invigorates regional rivalries, which gets more people talking about baseball, which is what the sport needs.

10) My playoffs would look like this:
— Four division winners get first-round byes.
— Wild Card round would be best-of-3 series, all at site of team with better record.
— Semifinal round is best-of-5, World Series is best-of-7.

9) Scheduling:
— Play other seven teams in your division 12 times each (84 games).
— Play teams in other division in your conference six times each (48 games).
— Play teams in one of other divisions three times each (24 games). Alternate those divisions every year.

That is a 156-game schedule; shorter regular season is followed by longer playoffs.

8) Get rid of situational lefties; the 3-batter minimum for relievers is a good rule.

7) Every team should play four Sunday doubleheaders; twinbills are great fun, and we’re trying to grow the game with younger fans. Players would go for this, because every doubleheader means an additional day off.

6) No coaches/managers are allowed on the field during the game, except to see to an injured player. No mound visits, just slows down the game.

5) Get rid of TV blackouts; baseball needs more exposure, not less. People need to see what an excellent game it, they need to learn about it. Blacking out replays of games out is antiquated stuff; young people need to see the game, so they can learn to love it like I do.

4) I’ve been to AAA games with the 30-second clock in between pitches; it isn’t intrusive on the game. Put it in.

3) DH would be the rule for everyone. Watching pitchers hit is useless.

2) If you insist on making the All-Star Game more competitive, make it US vs the World, then you’ll quickly realize that format would be TOO competitive, then go back to East vs West.

1) More teams in playoffs would be fine, but 156 games is fine; that is what baseball is, 156 games in 182 days, a test of stamina and execution and depth. Some people are never going to embrace baseball; MLB needs to make sure they don’t tick off people who already love it. 

Tuesday’s Den: My Mt Rushmore for various things…….

These are my favorite things in certain areas; we all have our own favorites, thats what makes life interesting. Make your own lists, see what you come up with. 

13) Las Vegas hotels:
Vdara, Westgate, SouthPoint, MGM

12) TV shows:
Law & Order, Magnum PI, CSI, Odd Couple

11) TV shows on movie channels:
Billions, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ray Donovan, Roadies

10) Sports movies:
— Moneyball
— Blue Chips
— Any Given Sunday
— Major League

9) Non-sports movies:
— Rounders
— A Star is Born
— Leap of Faith
— The Bodyguard

8) Food:
Pizza, spaghetti/meatballs, scrambled eggs/sausage, chicken parm

7) Current college basketball coaches:
— John Calipari
— Mark Few
— Mike Krzyzewski
— Bob Huggins

6) All-time college basketball coaches:
— John Wooden
— Dean Smith
— Mike Krzyzewski
— Jerry Tarkanian

5) Actresses:
Gina Gershon, Diane Lane., Mimi Rogers, Sela Ward

4) Musicians:
Bob Seger, Billy Joel, Pat Benatar, Faith Hill

3) NFL coaches:
Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, Tom Landry

2) In-person events:
— 2000 NFC title game: Rams 11, Buccaneers 6
— 2008 World Series game: Rays @ Phillies
— Frank Sinatra concert in Albany, 1990
— 2008 Tennessee @ South Carolina football game

1) Bucket List:
— Spring training game, preferably in Arizona
— LSU home football game, on a Saturday night
— A’s home game in Oakland Coliseum
— Rams’ home game in new SoFi Stadium

Saturday’s Den: Ranking the months of the year, and some other stuff…….

These days, there are no bad months, but some are better than others.

12) January— Living in upstate NY, 31 days of potentially horrendous weather; Sundays are lot slower once the NFL regular season is over. If I ever get smart and move to Las Vegas, then January would move up a few spots on the list.

11) February— Ranked ahead of January because it is three fewer days (this year, only two fewer days). Spring training starts in February, never a bad thing.

T9) April/May— Baseball season starts, NBA/NHL playoffs, NFL Draft, weather gets normal, a good time of year.

8) December— I’m in Las Vegas for Christmas most years; NFL regular season bowl games, college hoop, lot of good stuff, offsetting the potential for cruddy weather.

7) October— Good time for a trip to Las Vegas; baseball playoffs, football season, the college basketball magazines come out.

6) September— When I was a kid, September was by far the worst month of the year- back to school. Now? Not so much. Football season starts and the weather is still warm.

T4) June, July, August— Nothing bad about these three months in upstate New York; warm weather, lot of baseball to watch.

3) November — Busiest month of the year; college football/basketball, NBA/NFL, lot of research and studying to do. When I had an actual job, this was a great month— three days off— Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving. Now, every day is a day off. 🙂

1) March— Weather is getting better, lot of college basketball to watch and I try to throw a trip to the desert onto the schedule. Daytime TV’s best month; exhibition baseball every day.

Elsewhere on a winter Friday night……
a) Butler 89, Marquette 85 OT— Tremendous game to watch; Butler plays without its PG and wins, snapping a 3-game skid.

There was a weird moment in this game; tie game with 0:20 left, and Marquette fouls a Butler player who is shooting 85% on line- it looked intentional, and it looked like Wojciechowski told the kid to foul— why????? The SCORE WAS TIED!!!

b) Suns 103, Spurs 99— Phoenix is 10-10 on the road, a much-improved team

c) Bucks 116, Hornets 103— This game was played in Paris..

d) Siena 70, Marist 57— Saints are 8-0 at home, 0-9 on road; this was their first MAAC cover this season (1-8 ATS). 

Monday’s List of 13: Looking at Hall of Fame NFL coaches……

13) Pro Football Hall of Fame and CBS made a big production Saturday night out of surprising Bill Cowher on air, announcing that he’s been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was emotional and it made for good TV.

Then the same thing happened on FOX Sunday with Jimmy Johnson getting the good news.

Cowher coached the Steelers for 15 years, going 149-90-1 in regular season, 12-9 in playoffs, winning two AFC titles, and also Super Bowl 40 (I’m not great with Roman numerals).

Johnson went 80-64 in only nine years in the NFL, winning Super Bowl in consecutive years (1992-93). His win %age in Miami (.563) was actually better than it was in Dallas (.550), but he won his titles and made his name with the Cowboys.

Johnson was 81-34-3 as a college coach at Oklahoma State, Miami, which is irrelevant to what we’re talking about today.

12) But the underlying question is this; are Cowher/Johnson deserving of this honor? I’m not saying they are or they aren’t, but we’re going to look into it a little right now.

Here are four other NFL coaches, none of whom are in the Hall of Fame, who all won two Super Bowls (Johnson won two, Cowher won one):

11) Tom Coughlin: 170-150 in 20 years, won two Super Bowls with the Giants, but his best coaching was done in Jacksonville, where he led the expansion Jaguars to a 45-19 record in a stretch from 1996-99, Jacksonville’s 2nd thru 5th years in the NFL.

Coughlin was 12-7 in playoff games.

10) Tom Flores: 97-87 in 12 years, nine years with the Raiders; 8-3 in playoff games. Flores won Super Bowls 15 and 18.

He was in Seattle for three years after the Raiders- that didn’t go well (14-34). 

9) George Seifert: Took over the powerhouse 49ers after Bill Walsh left, went 98-30 in eight years there, winning Super Bowls 24, 29. He was 10-5 in playoff games. 

Seifert coached Carolina for three years after that, going 16-32; no bueno. He also coached Cornell in the Ivy League for a couple years in the 70’s.

8) Mike Shanahan: 170-138 in 20 years, 8-6 in playoff games, winning Super Bowls 32-33 in John Elway’s last two years as a player. Also worked as a head coach for Al Davis, Daniel Snyder; neither of those tenures went well, but he was 138-86 in his 14 years in Denver.

I’m thinking that Coughlin and Shanahan will both eventually get in the Hall of Fame.

7) Chiefs 51, Texans 31— Houston led this game 24-0 with 10:58 left in 2nd quarter, then KC scored three TD’s in a span of 3:18; by halftime, the Chiefs led, 28-24. Chiefs went on to score TD’s on seven consecutive drives- they scored so much, the team ran out of fireworks that they shoot off after touchdowns.

First six playoff games this year went under the total; this one didn’t. 

6) Packers 28, Seahawks 23— Green Bay led 21-3 at half; Adams caught eight passes for 140 yards and two TD’s. Packers visit the 49ers in Santa Clara next Sunday. 

5) Thursday night, Nashville Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne scored a goal, the 15th time that has happened in he NHL, by 12 different goalies. It was the first time in six years an NHL goalie scored.

Retired goalies Martin Brodeur scored three goals, Ron Hextall twice. 

4) A guy in Hillsboro, OR bought a Boeing 727 passenger jetliner for $100,000, propped it up on two massive concrete pillars in the woods, and made it his home. Hillsboro is a suburb of Portland, and apparently, this guy is pretty rich.

The pictures I saw online looked pretty nice. 

3) According to one tax professional, a New York couple filing their tax return jointly with $5M in taxable income would save $394,931 in taxes by moving to Florida. 

2) New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry says he wants his team to take 40 3’s a game; Pelicans’ last eight games went over the total- they’re lot of fun to watch.

1) Since 2010, nine NFL teams started a season 8-0; none of them won the Super Bowl that year; last 8-0 team to go on to win a Super Bowl? The ’09 Saints.

This year’s 49ers are the ninth of those teams.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Happy New Year!!!!

13) This season’s bowl records:
AAC: 2-3
ACC: 4-5
Big 14: 3-2
Big X: 1-4
C-USA: 3-4
MAC: 2-3
MW: 4-2
Pac-12: 3-3
SEC: 4-1
Sun Belt: 2-2

12) From Darren Rovell:
Bettor who bet $74,430 on Patriots to beat Dolphins straight up would have won $4,651, but New England lost.

At the same sportsbook, a bettor wagered $744.55 on the Dolphins to win straight up. He won $6,329. 

11) Cleveland Browns fired GM John Dorsey Tuesday, fortifying their position as the worst-run franchise in the NFL. They have zero continuity from year to year, are now replacing their coach and GM, and if the new people aren’t big Baker Mayfield fans, they’ll change QB’s again. 

Baylor coach Matt Rhule declined an interview with the Browns; smart guy. 

10) Next year, the Browns will have their 8th head coach in 12 years; the Steelers have had three head coaches in the last 50 years.

9) 37-year old QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ran the ball for 215 yards this year; that led the Dolphins in rushing for the season. 

Marlon Mack of the Colts ran the ball for 225 yards in one game this season. 

8) Chicago Bears fired four assistants, including OC Mark Helfrich, and re-committed to QB Mitch Trubisky for next year.

7) Arizona State 20, Florida State 14— From 2012-16, Seminoles went 59-9; the last three years, they’re 18-20, and will have their third coach in four years next season. 

6) I’m still trying to process that Seattle had 21 first downs in the 2nd half Sunday; they’ve had seven games this season where they had less than 21 first downs for the whole game. 

5) Solid bit of trivia: Howard Schultz is the guy who used to be the CEO of Starbucks; he grew up in Brooklyn, but went to college at Northern Michigan, where he tried out for the football team, as a QB. But Northern Michigan already had a good QB, a guy named Steve Mariucci, who went on to coach the 49ers and Lions in the NFL.

Starbucks is overpriced, but they do have excellent lemon pound cake. 

4) Baylor coach Matt Rhule is one of the ten highest paid coaches in the country? Wow. Word is the Giants are interested in hiring Rhule as their next coach. 

3) Detroit Lions fired six assistant coaches, which raises the question: Why did they keep the head coach? What has he done to justify his continued employment? 

2) Minnesota Twins signed pitchers Rich Hill ($3M), Homer Bailey ($7M) to one-year deals; Hill isn’t expected to pitch until June after having his arm operated on recently. 

1) Happy New Year, everyone. Hope 2020 is a great year for all of us. 

Tuesday’s List of 13: Our last home page of 2019……

13) If you’re an NFL head coach and your GM drafts a quarterback, you’d best have some job security, because these days, rookie QB’s play sooner than later, and they usually don’t play well, so the team loses and the coach gets fired. They don’t fire players very much.

2013– Mike Shanahan, Redskins (fired after RGIII’s 2nd year)
2014– Dennis Allen, Raiders (Carr)
2015– Ken Whisenhunt, Titans (Mariota)
2016– Jeff Fisher, Rams (Goff)
2017— John Fox, Bears (Trubisky)
2018— Steve Wilks, Cardinals (Rosen)
2018— Hue Jackson, Browns (Mayfield)
2018— Todd Bowles, Jets (Darnold)
2019— Jay Gruden, Redskins (Haskins)
2019— Pat Shurmur, Giants (Jones)

12) Doug Peterson (Wentz), Mike Smith (Ryan) did it right; they got hired as head coach the same year their team drafted a QB, which gives you time to grow together.

11) California 35, Illinois 20— Garbers threw for 272 yards, four TD’s, as Pac-12 evens its bowl record this month at 2-2. 

10) Western Kentucky 23, Western Michigan 20— True freshman kicker nailed a 52-yard FG at the gun for the win; he missed a 29-yard FG at end of first half. 

Hilltoppers outgained WMU 481-307, but threw a pick-6 in last minute of first half that tied score at 10-all. WKU finishes the season 9-4.

9) Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28— Sometimes life is simple; when you hear that one of Miss State’s QB’s couldn’t play in this game, because one of his teammates broke the orbital bone near his eye in a post-practice fracas, then you pick against that team. 

8) College basketball upsets:
— Stetson (+21) 63, South Carolina 56
— South Carolina State (+11) 58, Jacksonville 52
— Green Bay (+5.5) 73, Northern Kentucky 59

7) Michigan State’s basketball team is 2-0 early on in the Big 14 standings; Northwestern is 0-2; the other 12 teams are all 1-1. 

Northwestern lost to Hartford the other day, not a good sign for the Wildcats. 

6) Cal State- Fullerton won 77-74 at UCLA Saturday, which isn’t good for Mick Cronin; losing to North Carolina or Michigan State is one thing, but losing to Big West teams, especially one with a 3-10 record and #275 ranking, is a huge red flag. 

One of Cronin’s apologists tried to blame the talent former coach Steve Alford left behind, but Alford went to Nevada, inherited a total of two players (TWO!!!) from Eric Musselman and the Wolf Pack is 8-5. Maybe Alford is as good a coach as Cronin is.

This is the first UCLA roster without at least one McDonald’s All-American since the award was started in 1977, but plenty of solid D-I players weren’t McDonald’s All-Americans.

5) By the way, over the last 19 years, UCLA had never lost to a team ranked lower than #210 in the KenPom rankings; Fullerton was #284 before they upset the Bruins.

4) USC fired their defensive coordinator and special teams coach after its dismal performance in the Holiday Bowl Friday night. 

3) In the NBA, Knicks have won one playoff series since 2001; they ain’t going to make it there this year, either. Too bad they can’t fire owners for gross incompetence.

2) Zion Williamson has a 5-year sneaker contract worth $15M a year but he still hasn’t played a game yet for the Pelicans.

1) From Zach Berman:
At Caesars sportsbook this summer, the over/under on passing yards for Carson Wentz this season was 4,040.5. You could wager whether Wentz would pass for more or less than 4,040.5 yards.  

He finished with 4,039 yards; Sunday’s finale was played in a steady rain. Very bad beat. 

Friday’s Den: In a perfect world, where I made all the decisions……..

13) I’d like everyone to be nicer to each other; life is short, lets enjoy it. 

Lets tolerate our differences; I like the A’s, you like someone else. you like beer, I like Cherry Coke, our differences are what make life interesting. 

12) A friend of mine wouldn’t talk to me for a year because I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 (I voted for the 3rd party candidate). Why take life that seriously? Especially the way Presidential elections are, the Democrat almost always wins New York anyway. 

11) Would a date with Gina Gershon be too much to ask for? (probably, yes…..)

10) Sounds like one of the things I’ve been posting in this space for years will finally happen; both leagues should have the DH in 2022. Both leagues should have the same rules. 

9) Lets do away with Daylight Savings Time; who needs sunlight at 5:30am? Keep the clocks the way they are in the summer. Let it stay light as late in the day as possible.

8) Can we get rid of the Electoral College? Whoever gets the most votes should win, yes?

7) Every kid would learn basic life skills in high school: cooking, laundry, how to write a check, how to do a budget, the divorce laws. 

When it comes to cooking, I can make one thing……reservations. 

6) No Thursday NFL games, except for Week 1 and Thanksgiving Day. Instead, why not have Monday night doubleheaders every week? 7:00/10:30 games; that would be fun. 

5) NBA playoff series would be two out of three until the Finals, which would be best-of-5. 

4) College football teams shouldn’t be playing I-AA opponents; I mean, Alabama played Western Carolina this year, and Florida played UT-Martin AND Towson State- how does this happen? Why would anyone pay to see mismatches like this?

3) I’d be in favor of college basketball adopting the NBA’s 8-second rule for getting the ball over half court; most anything that encourages pressing and a faster-paced game is a good thing.

2) I’d make cigarettes illegal; they’re known to cause cancer. What is good about them?

1) I’d make sure DirecTV picked up the Pac-12 Network. Its not too much to ask. This is my list after all.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. 

Thursday’s List of 13: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone……

13) Was going to do a list of things I’m thankful for, but decided that this year, the biggest thing I’m thankful for is that the guy who operated on my detached retina studied a lot in school and became an excellent surgeon. Thank you very much, Dr Mallick!!!! 

12) Kansas 90, Dayton 84 OT— Jayhawks win Maui Classic for third time in an exciting final; Dayton tied the game on a 3-pointer with 0:01.1 left in regulation. 

11) Michigan State 75, UCLA 63— Bruins go to Maui after losing at home to Hofstra and get one win, over D-II Chaminade, so they’ve lost their last three D-I games. UCLA is playing tempo #308; their fans aren’t going to like coach Mick Cronin any more than they liked Ben Howland or Steve Alford or Steve Lavin. 

Howland got fired by UCLA after a 3-year stretch where they went 37-17 in Pac-12 games, but only 1-2 in NCAA tournament games. Tough crowd. 

10) Over the last five seasons, 17 different college basketball teams have made the Final Four, from nine different conferences. 

Over the last seven NCAA tournaments, at last one team made the Final Four that was a #5 or lower seed in their region. 

9) Padres/Brewers made a 4-player trade Wednesday:
Milwaukee gets: IF Luis Urias, P Eric Lauer
San Diego gets: OF Trent Grisham, P Zach Davies. 

8) Pirates filled the last open manager’s spot by hiring 49-year old Derek Shelton as their new skipper. Shelton was Minnesota’s bench coach the last two years. 

7) Texas Rangers signed P Kyle Gibson to a 3-year deal worth $30M. 32-year old Gibson was 13-7, 4.84 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP LY, with 160 strikeouts in 160 IP. Rangers move into their new domed stadium this coming season. 

6) Ole Miss 74, Penn State 72— Rebels trailed 52-31 wth 16:23 left, by 14 wth 6:30 left- they rally to win their fifth game in six tries. Penn State won their last game by a hoop after trailing by 16 with 9:12 left- they returned the favor here.

5) The Cleveland Indians’ baseball cap that Charlie Sheen wore in the 1988 movie Major League is on the auction block; the largest bid, with eight days left to go in the auction, is $4,594. 

You could get a hat just like it for $40 on the Lids website, but someone bid $4,594 for a 31-year old baseball cap that might not even be your size. Go figure. 

4) Lakers 114, Pelicans 110— Anthony Davis scored 41 points in his return to New Orleans. 

3) Detroit Lions are starting rookie 3rd-string QB David Blough against the Bears today. He wasn’t drafted, but Blough played in 44 games at Purdue, throwing 1,429 passes. 

2) 76ers 97, Kings 91— Embiid scored 33 points, had 16 rebounds, after not scoring in his last game, in Toronto. 

1) Sad to report that the Arena Football League went out of business Wednesday; they had a team here in Albany in the late 90’s, and again the last couple years. Arenaball was great fun; thought it helped develop quarterbacks, because they had to make quick decisions, and really couldn’t run much.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Wrapping up the first night of college hoop……

13) Duke 68, Kansas 66— Jayhawks turned ball over 28 times in a game they led by 9 with 14:35 left. Kansas played only six guys more than 8:00; they took only nine 3’s (4-9) and were only 16-26 on the line. 

12) Kentucky 69, Michigan State 62— Tyrese Maxey scored 26 points off the bench for Kentucky, sealing things with a 3-point jumper with 1:00 left. Wildcats are a very good defensive team. 

11) Saint Mary’s 65, Wisconsin 63 OT— On Selection Sunday, this score is going to resonate with the Selection Committee; a huge win for the Gaels, who last year played non-conference schedule #183. Now they have a win over a pretty good Big 14 team. 

10) Georgia Tech 82, NC State 81 OT— Wolfpack blew a 15-point first half lead; Tech shot 60% inside the arc, and is now tied atop the ACC standings. 

ACC played actual conference games tonight, probably to help promote the new ACC Network; awful early to play important games. 

ACC also switched to a 20-game conference schedule this year to bolster tournament resumes; Big 14 also does that. Makes it way harder for mid-majors to get an at-large bid to the NCAA’s.

9) Virginia Tech 67, Clemson 60— Teams combined to make only 16-56 behind the arc; both teams are rebuilding. Coach Young wins his first game with the Hokies after a great run at Wofford. 

8) Upsets:
— Cal-Riverside (+15.5) 66, Nebraska 47
— Ark-Little Rock (+12.5) 67, Missouri State 66
— Ohio U (+12) 65, St Bonaventure 53
— Campbell (+9) 75, Coastal Carolina 74
— Pennsylvania (+7.5) 81, Alabama 80

7) Close calls, but no upset:
— George Mason 68, Navy 55 OT
— Illinois 78, Nicholls State 70 OT

6) Its funny, I like college basketball better than NBA, but one of the big keys to handicapping college ball is figuring out as soon as possible which college players are going to be high draft picks in the NBA, because those guys will be winning lot of games this winter.

College basketball moved the 3-point arc back this season; I’m eager to find out early results on 3-point shooting with the arc farther from the basket this year; how will it change the game, if it does at all? Will report the news when I find out.

5) Morehead State 90, Samford 86, 2OT— Samford led by 11 early on, but couldn’t hold it in another brickfest— teams combined to make 12-55 behind the arc. Jordan Walker was 4-14 on the arc; the other Morehead players were 2-15 on the arc. 

4) Utah State 81, Montana State 73— Kid named Harald Frey drained 34 points in a losing cause for the Bobcats, who were outscored 35-16 on the foul line. Utah State was 35-45, Montana State 16-26 at the charity stripe. But if you took Montana State +21, Harald Frey was your guy.

3) Cal-Riverside 66, Nebraska 47— Fred Hoiberg’s debut in Lincoln was a disaster, losing to a Riverside squad that hasn’t even won half its Big West games since 2009. Riverside made 12-25 on the arc and didn’t have to sweat the outcome at the end. Biggest D-I win in Riverside history. 

2) In the NBA, Atlanta Hawks’ big man John Collins was suspended without pay for 25 games Tuesday for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program- he tested positive for a PED. Collins played 32.2 mpg in the Hawks’ first five games, scoring 17 ppg. Big loss.

1) Keys to watching college games before Thanksgiving:
— Don’t overreact to scores. Some teams are way ahead of others.
— Lot of these games are played for TV purposes; coaches are experimenting a lot of times, getting ready for conference play.
— Some coaches are better at recruiting, others are better at player development; the coaches who develop players better (Oregon, for one) will have teams that thrive later in the season. 

Tuesday’s List of 13: Glad to be back……

13) Here is a pro tip if you’re having surgery; go to the right bleepin’ hospital. 

Thats right, I show up 20 minutes early for my operation last Tuesday, but turns out I’m at Albany Medical Center when I’m supposed to be at Albany Memorial Hospital, which according to Mapquest, is 2.6 miles away. Not good, but we got there and the staff at Memorial couldn’t have been nicer. 

12) Backtracking a little bit, couple of Saturdays ago I’m sitting in the sportsbook at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, watching college football and talking with a buddy, when the vision in my right eye became foggy. Had no idea what the problem was, but it didn’t get better, and after flying home that Tuesday, it got way worse. Turns out the retina in my right eye had detached. 

On October 22 (the 47th anniversary of the Oakland A’s first World Series title), I had my right eye operated on, and now I wait and hope it bounces back to where it was. In the meantime, I’d like to thank anyone who sent a text, e-mail or called to offer help/best wishes. Much appreciated. 

— Thanks to Dr Mallick, who was my eye surgeon; appreciate you answering all my questions, and obviously, thanks a lot for putting my eye back together. Thanks isn’t really enough to say, but I really appreciate your work.

11) Part of rehabbing your re-attached retina is having your head pointed down a lot, so I’m listening to TV more than watching it; two observations:

a) Joe Buck is very good at baseball play-by-play.
b) 86-year old Hubie Brown is still great fun to listen to on NBA games.

10) When Washington Nationals’ OF Juan Soto was 10 years old, he played on an all-star team in the Dominican Republic that was coached by Robinson Cano’s father.

9) Since the start of last season, 56.4% of NBA players have changed teams, an amazing stat. NBA is the only league where the preseason is more interesting than the regular season.

8) A friend of mine here in Albany is opening a bar/golf simulator soon in Guilderland, out on Route 20 by Western Turnpike golf course. It is going to be called The Bunker, and once I get out and about more, I’ll give you an in-person report, but it sounds like an excellent place to hang out and have fun with friends.

7) Major league managerial hirings:
— Cubs hired David Ross, who was an active player only three years ago.
— Phillies hired Joe Girardi, an excellent hire.
— Angels announced hiring of Joe Maddon; he worked for the Halos for 30 years before he became a big league skipper in Tampa Bay.
— Maddon hired former Mets’ skipper Mickey Callaway as his pitching coach.
— Padres hired 38-year old Jayce Tingler, who worked for years in the Texas Rangers’ system.

6) Last Wednesday, the first full night of NBA games, 22 Kentucky alums played and first thing Thursday morning, John Calipari posted all their stats on Twitter. Effective recruiting tool.

5) NFL knowledge:
— Denver QB Joe Flacco (neck) is out for this week’s game with Cleveland. Brandon Allen is the new starter; he has never taken an NFL snap. Allen started for 2.5 years at Arkansas, where the Hogs went 15-11 his junior/senior seasons. 
— Chargers fired OC Ken Whisenhunt Monday night.
— Texans’ star DE JJ Watt is done for the season (torn pectoral muscle). 

4) From ESPN stats: New Jersey Jets are first NFL team since the ’91 Colts who, through seven games, have fewer than 450 yards rushing, while giving up 200+ yards in sacks. 

3) Of the 64 teams who trailed a World Series 3-2, 20 of them came back to win the Series.

2) Good news/bad news after my eye surgery:
Bad news: Had to cancel my annual Christmas trip to Las Vegas; can’t fly for a couple months after the surgery. I’ll survive, but I’ve enjoyed spending my birthday/Christmas in the desert.

Good news: Looking like a March trip instead; second weekend of NCAA tournament, and first week of baseball season.

1) Steelers 27, Dolphins 14— Monday, a gambler at South Point Casino in Las Vegas risked $100,000 to win $11,764.70 on the Steelers’ money line. He had to sweat some in the first half, but he won his 11 grand.

Saturday, someone risked $5,040 to win $210 on Oklahoma’s money line to beat Kansas State; the Sooners lost, once again proving Oscar Madison’s old line from The Odd Couple:

“There’s no such thing as a sure thing; thats why they call it gambling.”

Tuesday’s Den: 13 of my all-time favorite TV shows…….

13 of my favorite TV shows (in alphabetical order):
— Batman— When you’re six years old, and in the opening credits every week, they show “WHAP!!! POW!!! BIFF!!!” and your name is Biff, this quickly becomes a favorite show. 

The villains were some pretty big stars back then (Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Milton Berle, Vincent Price, Liberace, Ethel Merman)

I haven’t seen much of the Batman movies that have been made over the years, but the TV show had some humor; one week there was a 3-foot Martian on the loose in Gotham City, and Robin blurts out “Holy interplanetary yardstick, Batman!!!” Good stuff. 

— Billions— Showtime series about a hedge fund manager who pushes the boundaries of the law while his marriage falls apart. His arch-enemy is a prosecutor in NYC who is into S&M and his wife is his dominatrix— the wife is also the psychiatrist for the hedge fund manager’s company. 

Small world. This show is really well-written- the next season will probably run after football season. 

Trivia: Paul Giamatti plays the prosecutor; he is the son of former baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti. I suggested a cameo role for Pete Rose, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

— CSI— I spent a good chunk of my work career searching fingerprints and working for the NY State Division of Criminal Justice, so I enjoyed all the CSI shows, but especially the one set in Las Vegas— the actors seemed to have a chemistry working together. 

One of my weirder ideas (a teacher friend of mine scoffed at this) is that CSI should be taught to all high school kids, so they realize how difficult it is to get away with crimes, so maybe there would be fewer crimes. What could it hurt?

— Green Acres— As a kid, I spent lot of hours watching Green Acres re-runs; my dad would walk into the room, say “Why the hell are you watching that?”, but within five minutes, he’d be sitting there laughing harder than me and would leave the room before my mother came in and saw the both of us laughing. She wasn’t a big fan of Hank Kimball or Arnold Ziffel. 

— Law and Order— 20 years, 456 episodes, a great launching point for lot of acting careers, not to mention the spinoff shows that branched off this original show. 

Take Billions; there are 32 actors who have appeared in 12+ episodes of Billons; 14 of those 32 actors appeared in at least one episode of Law and Order, and two others were in Law and Order SVU, and that doesn’t count Eric Bogosian, who was in Law and Order: Criminal Intent for 61 episodes, but was only in 10 episodes of Billions (so far). 

— Magnum PI— I’ve never been to Hawai’i, but if I ever went, would like to visit Robin Masters’ estate; I’m told you can visit there, it is kind of a museum or something. 

One of the best episodes was when Frank Sinatra played a retired New York City cop whose granddaughter was murdered— this was near the end of both the series and Sinatra’s career. 

The overriding themes of the show were that great friends will do all kinds of stuff for each other, and if you’re really good looking and drive a Ferrari, women will like you 🙂

— M*A*S*H— Years later, after watching re-runs of this show on our local channel 10 and the Boston channel for hours at a time, it dawned on me that this was actually a very sad show, with humor/jokes masking the grotesque sadness of wartime Korea. 

The McLean Stevenson episodes were the best; he was Colonel Henry Blake for the first 75 episodes, and a lot of them were classics, just funny as hell. 

— Mr Ed— This show ran on network TV from 1961-66, so I never saw it until the re-runs came on at 4:30 weekdays on a local channel in the early 70’s. Mr Ed was a talking horse, but he only talked to Wilbur Post, an architect who worked at home but never actually seemed to work. 

Mr Ed was a big Dodger fan; his favorite player was OF Willie Davis. In one episode, the horse takes batting practice against Sandy Koufax, and hits a ball off the wall at Dodger Stadium, with the bat held in his mouth. A fun show, not necessarily a realistic one. 

— Odd Couple— As a kid, Oscar Madison was one of my heroes; a sportswriter who always spilled food on his clothes but was a good natured guy who somehow dated a doctor or one of the Pidgeon sisters. 

To this day when I see my cousin’s husband, we recite lines from Odd Couple episodes; when they owned a greyhound racing dog , or appeared on Password (a game show), or when Oscar dated a princess from some obscure European country “You bought her a salty pretzel; oh, boy!!!” Great stuff. 

— Ray Donovan— The most violent program on this list; just about everybody on this Showtime series that isn’t related to the Donovans eventually winds up dead. 

Ray Donovan is a fixer for rich people, but he can’t fix his own family; his wife passes away from cancer, and the last time we saw him, he was still struggling with that. 

Live Schreber plays Ray, Jon Voight plays his father (a genuine creep); they’ve had guest stars like Susan Sarandon, James Woods, Wendell Pierce, Hank Azaria. Alan Alda, C Thomas Howell. 

Very good show but also very violent. 

— Suits— This show is winding down its last season on USA Network; it is about a law firm that hired a young guy with a photographic memory who had one small problem— he is a college dropout who never went to law school, but he gets paid to take bar exams for other people. 

The show had to change directions because one of the actresses (Meghan Markle) moved to England after she married Prince Harry in real life. Her character was married to Mike (the fraudulent lawyer) so they got written out of the last couple years of the show. 

— West Wing— Martin Sheen plays the President in this show; his cabinet included Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, John Spencer— great cast.

Actor Duke Hill was in both West Wing and Suits; Mary Louise Parker was in this and is also in Billions. Alan Alda was in this, Ray Donovan and of course, M*A*S*H

Jimmy Smits, Mary MacCormack, Tim Matheson, Gary Cole, just a ton of excellent actors. 

In one episode, President Bartlet has to throw out the first pitch at an Orioles’ game, but he never played ball, so one of his aides has to teach him how to throw a baseball in a hallway in the White House, where an errant toss breaks an expensive vase. 

— White Shadow— Ken Howard plays a washed-up NBA player who becomes a high school basketball coach in Los Angeles. Show only lasted three years, because well, high school kids graduate so they would’ve had to turn most of the cast over every other year. 

The basketball scenes were really well-done; Gwyneth Paltrow’s father was the creator of the show. Lot of the issues they tackled in this show were issues that real high school in the inner city had to deal with. Ken Howard was great as Coach Reeves; he wasn’t some all-knowing guy; he had flaws but he fought for his kids and they respected him for it (most of the time). 

Tuesday’s Den: Random Lists of 3……

13) Three things young people have no idea about………
— Phone booths
— Encyclopedias
— Having to get up to change the channel

12) Three things I’d like to do someday:
— A’s game in the Oakland Coliseum
— LSU home football game (at night)
— New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas (too expensive 🙂 )

11) Three changes I’d make to baseball:
— Managers/coaches wouldn’t wear uniforms
— Geographic realignment
— Split-season format, to invigorate late June/July. 

10) Three changes I’d make to ESPN:
— No daily NBA shows from end of summer league to start of training camp.
— If you must have a daily NBA show, then you have a daily baseball show, too.
— Less hideous talk shows on weekdays; show poker re-runs instead, or NFL Films, or anything that doesn’t include Mike Greenberg or Stephen A Smith. 

9) Three non-sports people it would be fun to have dinner with:
— Steve Martin
— David Letterman
— Bill Murray

8) Three changes I’d make to football:
— Take radios out of players’ helmets
— Get rid of Thursday NFL games, except Week 1 and Thanksgiving.
— 18-game season, with all players getting paid 12.5% more; two preseason games, with Super Bowl the Sunday night of Presidents’ Day weekend. 

7) Three sports people it would be fun to have dinner with:
— Billy Beane
— Dick Vermeil
— Charles Barkley

6) Three most fun events I’ve been to:
— 2000 NFC title game in St Louis (Rams-Bucs)
— 2008 World Series (Phillies-Rays)
— Alabama-Tennessee game in Knoxville, in 2003

5) Three other fun things I’ve been to:
— Tailgating before Tennessee-South Carolina game in 2008
— Watching AAU nationals for 12 hours a day at Disney World in Florida.
— Knicks-Spurs preseason game (Jerry Tarkanian was coaching the Spurs)

4) Three changes I’d make to the NBA:
— Head coaches would all be active players.
— Playoff series would be best-of-3; finals best-of-5.
— Draft lottery would be an hour before the actual draft. 

3) Three things that would be an improvement:
— Baseball expands to 32 teams, making scheduling easier.
— College football playoff expanding to eight teams.
— Reducing NFL preseason games from four per team to two. 

2) Three random observations:
— Pro golf in person is amazingly quiet.
— If you like the NBA, I strongly recommend you heading to Las Vegas some July to watch summer league games. Very affordable, lot of fun and it is Las Vegas!!!
— Watching the World Series of Poker in person was really boring; you need to see the hole card camera for it to be interesting.

1) Back when they had a CBA franchise in Albany, one night I got to shoot free throws for beer at the end of the 3rd quarter. For every free throw I made in 24 seconds, I got a free case of beer:
— The CBA back then was what the G-League is now; very good basketball. Bill Musselman, George Karl and Phil Jackson all coached the Patroons.
— Good news: I made 4 out of 7 shots in 24 seconds.
— Bad news: I very rarely drink beer, and they wouldn’t exchange it for soda. 

Monday’s Den: In a perfect world, where I made all the decisions……

13) Kids could go right from high school to the NBA; going to school for only one year is a farce, so if a kid goes to college, then he is there for at least two years. College baseball has that rule, but I think it is three years for them. 

12) Both leagues would have the DH; this will happen in a couple years. Add a player or two to rosters, to appease the players’ union.

11) NFL would have an 18-game regular season, only two preseason games; Super Bowl would be Sunday night of Presidents’ Day weekend. 

10) College football teams wouldn’t play I-AA opponents; SEC teams do this a lot. Last year, Alabama played The Citadel, Ole Miss played Southern Illinois, South Carolina played Tenn-Chattanooga. Seriously? Go play a MAC team or a Sun Belt team, at least. 

9) Online poker would be made legal so the poker companies would advertise on TV and ESPN would start replaying the World Series of Poker again, like they used to. The stuff ESPN puts on in daytime on weekdays is mostly terrible. Mike Greenberg, Stephen A Smith both make around $6M a year, a tremendous waste of money. 

Listening to talking heads in contrived arguments is a waste of electricity. Much rather watch people play cards, or replays of games, actual competition. 

8) As far as college basketball transfers go, if you poach a transfer from a team, then you have to go play a game in that team’s gym. Most of the teams that poach transfers are way better than the teams they poach from anyway, but they often don’t have the onions to play road games. 

By way of explanation, over the last seven seasons, Duke has played only three non-conference road games, all mandated by the ACC-Big 14 challenge. When Duke poached Seth Curry from Liberty, they should have had to go there and play a true road game. 

7) I would take the radios out of NFL players’ helmets; coaches have six days to prepare their teams to play. Gameday should be the players’ day; let the QB’s call their own plays, which would make the game lot more exciting. QB’s calling the plays would make the game more fun. 

6) I’d eliminate the American/National Leagues and go to geographic realignment, which would reduce travel costs and invigorate regional rivalries. Going to 32 teams (which will happen soon) will make scheduling a lot easier. 

5) NBA playoff series would be best-of-3, with finals best-of-5. Less games, more drama; it is more interesting when the best team has a chance to lose. Would the NCAA tournament be at all interesting if a 16-seed played Duke/Kentucky best-of-3? 

4) I’d get rid of the Electoral College in our presidential election; whoever gets the most votes wins, just like in all the other elections. 

3) Would definitely move the NBA Draft Lottery back to a half hour before the actual draft; imagine the drama then? Lot of executives would have to think on their feet. 

2) You want to make baseball’s All-Star Game more interesting? Make it USA vs the World, and it’ll become a serious game fairly quickly. Maybe too serious.

1) Would like to make people happier; nowadays, there is so much anger in the world. There is a lot less tolerance of others than there used to be. You be you, and let others do what they do. Cheer the bleep up!!!!