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

13) Opening Day payrolls this season:
Toronto Blue Jays: $163,381,937. Record: 71-81
Milwaukee Brewers: $63,061,300. Record: 82-70

12) Phillies 7, Dodgers 5— Bigger news: After the game, Corey Seager left the Dodgers’ clubhouse limping, with medical/training staff.

11) Angels are 15-2 this season when Parker Bridwell is their starting pitcher, 61-72 when anyone else is the starting pitcher.

10) Marlins 9, Mets 2— Giancarlo Stanton hit his 56th homer of the season.

9) Diamondbacks’ star 1B Paul Goldschmidt has apparently seen the movie Billy Madison over 100 times; I’ve never seen it myself, so now I have to.

8) Royals 15, Blue Jays 5— Mike Moustakas hit his 37th homer, setting the all-time single season record for the Royals, previously held by Steve Balboni.

Some college football trends for this week:
7) Washington Huskies coach Petersen is 27-13 vs spread as a road favorite.

6) San Diego State won its last six games vs Air Force (5-1 vs spread).

5) Texas Tech covered seven of last nine tries as a road underdog.

Elsewhere in the world…….
4) Richard Sherman makes $13,631,000 this season to play football; he is a smart guy, went to Stanford, but he can’t seem to stop biting the hand that feeds him:

“From what I understand, the rule is for the gamblers, for Vegas, to make sure that the odds and everything are what they’re supposed to be, which is apparently what the league is concerned about when talking about injuries and things like that. So maybe somebody should look into that, because I thought we weren’t a gambling league and we were against all those things. But our injury report is specifically to make sure the gamblers get their odds right.”
Sherman, talking about NFL injury reports

So now Sherman is Captain Obvious; not sure what his point his, unless he is going to want the players to get a piece of the pie when gambling on the NFL becomes legal.

3) Interesting discussion on Inside the NFL this week on Showtime: Ray Lewis/Boomer Esiason were talking about how the lack of practice reps in the summer is hurting offensive play. Phil Simms called college football “flag football”, saying that spread offenses have hurt offensive line play in the NFL, as those players move on to the pros.

2) NL playoff race:
Giants 4, Rockies 0— Rockies lost 5 of last 7 games, are looking shaky.
Pirates 6, Brewers 4— Adam Frazier’s walk-off HR keeps Colorado atop Wild Card standings.
Rays 8, Cubs 1— Chicago’s 7-game winning streak comes to an end.
Cardinals 9, Reds 2— Big night for St Louis; everyone above them lost.

1) Padres’ backup catcher Rocky Gale hit his first big league homer in the 2nd inning last night, in his 12th MLB at-bat. The joy on his face was so obvious, it was outstanding; most times, guys try to play it cool as they round the bases, but Gale was just beaming— great to see.

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

13) How bad have the Colts been? They’re a home underdog to Cleveland this week. Browns have been a road favorite once the last 4+ years, but over the last decade, they’re 5-2 vs spread when favored on foreign soil.

12) A’s 1B Matt Olson homered again; he’s homered in five straight games and in 15 of his last 21 games. He looks like a keeper, both him and 3B Matt Chapman, a superior defensive player. Since August 11, Olson has 34 RBI in 36 games.

11) Rams’ OC Greg LaFleur, 49ers’ DC Robert Saleh will match wits in Santa Clara Thursday; they were roommates as grad assistants at Central Michigan in 2004, so lot of familiarity there.

10) Buffalo Bills didn’t have any plays longer than 15 yards at Carolina last week; the other 31 NFL teams combined for 111 plays of 20+ yards- thats 3.6 plays of 20+ yards, per team.

9) Thru two weeks, NFL teams that are +2 or better in turnovers are 12-0.

Teams that won field position by 10+ yards are 10-1.

8) Still can’t believe the Tennessee Volunteers allowed a 63-yard TD pass on the last play of a tied game, and with no safeties in the picture. Booster club luncheons in Knoxville must be a lot of fun this week.

7) Pirates have scored a total of nine runs in their last seven games. No bueno.

6) In 2013, Matt Harvey went 9-5, 2.27 in 26 starts, then missed all of 2014 with injuries; in 2015, he was 13-8, 2.71 in 29 starts. Writers in New York City were readying his plaque for Cooperstown.

In 2016-17, in 34 combined starts, Harvey is 9-16, 5.68- his WHIP this year is 1.67, which is really terrible. The plaque for Cooperstown is on hold- the Mets will tender him an offer for 2018, since he is a free agent next fall— guys in their option year tend to be rejuvenated.

5) Pac-12 football teams are 2-9 vs spread as home favorites vs non-Pac-12 opponents so far this season…..…Conference USA road underdogs are 3-10 outside their own league.

4) UNLV’s basketball program offered 8th grader Richard Isaacs Jr a basketball scholarship this week, after Runnin’ Rebels assistant Andre LeFleur saw him play in the invite-only EBC Las Vegas Camp at the Tarkanian Basketball Academy last weekend. LeFleur’s son was also playing in that event.

Isaacs averaged about 25 points per game playing for Becker Middle School last season, and had a few 30-point games with Vegas Elite’s 14U team during this past AAU season.

Never, ever did I think I’d be quoting middle school scoring stats, but that is today’s world.

3) Kansas City’s Alex Gordon hit the 5,694th homer of the season last night, breaking the single-season MLB record. Scooter Gennett hit the 5,700th homer, if you keep track of stuff like that.

2) Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 (11)— Teams played a 10-8, 11-inning game Monday night, so of course no one scored in this game until extra innings. Baseball is weird sometimes.

1) NFL has a game from England on at 9:30am this Sunday (Ravens-Jaguars) but it isn’t on TV, just on Yahoo? Do they not want us watching the game? I mean, I’m perfectly glad to sleep thru it and check the boxscore when I normally wake up but if they put the game on TV, I’d get up, go to McDonald’s, get a nutritious breakfast and watch. If not? So be it.

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

13) Lions 24, Giants 10— Detroit broke game open with an 88-yard punt return for a TD; they’re 2-0 while Giants are 0-2, having scored only one TD on 18 drives so far this season.

One thing thats going to be an issue in Detroit, if they have a good season this year; Jim Caldwell doesn’t have a contract past this season. Think about Tampa Bay/Lovie Smith, when he got fired because Bucs’ brass liked the job OC Dirk Koetter was doing with franchise QB Jameis Winston- they didn’t want Koetter leaving, so they made him head coach.

Same thing could happen in Detroit if OC Jim Bob Cooter becomes a hot name on the coaching carousel; if the Lions want Cooter/Matthew Stafford to stay connected, they may have to make Cooter the head coach to keep him in the Motor City. Stay tuned.

12) Obscure Lions’ trivia: Cooter was Peyton Manning’s backup QB at Tennessee.

11) Matthew Stafford is now 53-58 as an NFL starting QB, plus 0-3 in playoff games. Detroit was 0-16 the year before they drafted him.

Jon Gruden called him “a great quarterback” last night. I’m not disputing that at all, just repeating his words. Stafford has attempted more passes per game than anyone in NFL history— I wouldn’t have guessed that.

10) Archie Manning (Peyton/Eli’s dad) was a great college football player at Ole Miss; he was just like Steve Young, except he threw righty instead of lefty. Otherwise, the same; great mobility, solid passer, but in the NFL, Archie Manning played 11 years for the then-putrid New Orleans Saints. No bueno.

There was was no free agency back then; Manning got pummeled playing on a horrible team; his record was 35-91-3 as a starter for New Orleans, which is probably why Archie orchestrated Eli’s trade from San Diego to the Giants after the 2003 draft.

9) My point is this: football is a TEAM game; no one player makes a team great. I’m reading lot of media nitwits who follow the “narrative flowchart”:

— Team A won: Team A’s quarterback is on the upswing.
— Team A lost: Team A’s quarterback was a lousy draft pick, or is over-the-hill.

It is just lazy commentary; developing players is a process, it takes years to become a great player. Matthew Stafford is under .500 in his career, but Jon Gruden says he is a great QB, and that’s good enough for me.

8) Arizona Wildcats have a 26-year old freshman QB named Donovan Tate who was drafted 22 spots above Mike Trout in the 2009 baseball draft- he was the third player taken.

San Diego Padres gave Tate a $5M+ signing bonus in ‘09, then watched his struggle with injuries and off-field problems ruin his baseball career. Now Tate is trying football and is a backup QB now— he is the son of former Georgia running back Lars Tate.

7) Atlanta Braves are moving their spring training HQ from Kisssimmee to Sarasota; they’re having groundbreaking on the new facility in October.

6) Everyone was a kid once: ESPN’s Jon Gruden hit a home run in Little League off of John Parry, the referee in the Lions-Giants game last night.

5) At one point in his career, Andy Reid was the offensive line coach at UTEP. He’s come a very long way since then. Offensive line coach at UTEP is not usually a stepping stone to the NFL.

4) Record for most total home runs in a season is 5,693, which figures to fall late this week.

3) Weird stat: the NFL quarterback with the most wins in FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, home of the Browns, is Ben Roethlisberger, with 11. He obviously plays for the Steelers, which is bad for the Browns.

2) No baseball team has ever made the playoffs after losing more than 97 games the previous season. Minnesota lost 103 games last season and right now, they hold one of the AL Wild Card spots, so they could make some history soon

1) Had a great weekend in Philadelphia the past few days; very underrated city. Saw the A’s play three games, had some cheesesteaks, visited with friends. Good stuff, very much appreciated.

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday…….

14) Broncos 42, Cowboys 17— Broncos scored TD’s on five of their first seven drives. Denver was 9-15 on 3rd down, had 26 first downs and ran ball for 178 yards, while holding Dallas to 40 rushing yards in a surprisingly easy win. Cowboys had ball in red zone twice in 4th quarter, but lost ball on downs once, had a 103-INT return for a TD against them on the other drive.

13) Chiefs 27, Eagles 20— Andy Reid is now 2-0 against his old team; Kelce caught 8 passes for 103 yards on only 10 targets as KC opens 2-0. Philly gained 406 yards, had 27 first downs, converted 8-15 on 3rd down, but Wentz was sacked six times and Philly turned over twice (-2)- they scored only 20 points on five red zone drives.

12) Patriots 36, Saints 20— Brady threw for 177 yards in the first quarter here; Buffalo gained 176 yards in their whole game. This game was 30-10 at the half, so Patriots took their foot off the pedal at halftime and coasted to an easy win. Total yardage was 555-429; NE was 6-12 on third down; seven of their 10 drives wound up in the New Orleans red zone.

11) Cardinals 16, Colts 13 OT— Brissett’s only INT in his second NFL start was on the first play of OT, which set the Cardinals up to kick a FG without getting a first down. Arizona was down 13-3 with 8:00 left, but tied game with 3:25 left in regulation- they had 389-266 edge in yardage, but scored only six points on three red zone drives.

10) Titans 37, Jaguars 16— Tennessee ran for 179 yards, held Leonard Fournette to 40 yards on 14 carries.  Titans scored TD’s the last four times they had the ball, with three of those drives less than 50 yards. Jaguars now head to England for a game with the Ravens next week.

9) Ravens 24, Browns 10— Baltimore opens season with pair of divisional wins, allowing only one TD on 23 drives. Browns gained 386 yards, but turned ball over five times (-3) in rookie QB Kizer’s first NFL road start. Ravens had a 12-yard advantage in field position.

8) Steelers 26, Vikings 9— Sam Bradford (knee) was a late scratch; Case Keenum played QB for the Vikings, who were outgained 335-237 in this flagfest, where both teams had 10+ penalties. Steelers had a 14-3 halftime lead, then kicked four FG’s on five second half drives. Teams were a combined 8-28 on third down.

7) Panthers 9, Bills 3— Total yardage was 255-176 in this pitchers’ duel with zero turnovers in it. Buffalo had one first down in first half, never got inside the Carolina red zone. Panthers had 12 first downs in first half, had a 10-yard edge in field position; they kicked FG’s on all three red zone drives.

6) Buccaneers 29, Bears 7— Mike Glennon was Tampa Bay’s backup QB the last four years; the Bucs kicked his butt here, forcing four Tampa Bay turnovers (+3) in a game they led 26-0 at the half. Glennon did throw for 301 yards but also two picks. Both teams were 50%+ on 3rd down; teams combined to score 27 points on eight red zone drives, which killed the over bettors.

5) Dolphins 19, Chargers 17— Rookie kicker Koo missed 43 and 44-yard FG’s wide right in the last minute of each half, as Chargers lost their home opener in their temporary home, ironically a soccer stadium. Koo also missed the gem-tying FG Monday night in Denver.

Miami kicker Pankey was 4-4 on FG’s; Dolphins won despite kicking three FG’s on three red zone drives, not exactly an ideal performance. Teams combined to go only 7-21 on 3rd down.

4) Seahawks 12, 49ers 9— Seattle has offensive issues; they drove 82 yards on 10 plays for the game’s only TD with 7:06 left, Seattle’s only TD on 20 drives this season. Seahawks have scored one TD, kicked four FG’s on five red zone drives; they gave up 159 rushing yards to the 49ers, who still haven’t scored a TD this season (four FG’s on 21 drives).

3) Raiders 45, Jets 20— WR Crabtree caught three TD passes, as Oakland jogged to an easy win in their home opener, outgaining the Jets 410-271. Raiders scored four TD’s, kicked a FG on their last five drives; they had a 9-yard edge in field position, starting three of their last five drives in Jet territory. Oakland also ran the ball for 180 yards.

2) Redskins 27, Rams 20— Washington grabbed early 13-0 lead, Rams fought back to a 20-all tie, but Washington drove ball 70 yards in ten plays for GW score with 1:49 left. Thompson had a 61-yard TD run for the Redskins just before the half that made the Rams’ climb a little more uphill. Despite Aaron Donald’s presence, Redskins ran the ball for 229 yards. Both teams are now 1-1.

1) Falcons 34, Packers 23– Atlanta is now 2-0 as they head to Detroit next week; this was the regular season opener in their new stadium. Packers were without both their starting OT’s, which makes it harder to protect Aaron Rodgers, who threw an awful lateral that was run back for a Falcon touchdown.

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) USC 27, Texas 24 (OT)— Longhorns kicked FG to go ahead 17-14 with 0:45 left but Sam Darnold drove the Trojans 52 yards in nine plays for the tying FG at the gun to force OT. This was USC’s first OT win since 2001. Total yardage was 468-366, Trojans.

LA Coliseum workers had only 13 hours to change the field from USC colors to LA Ram colors for the Rams-Redskins game in the Coliseum Sunday.

12) Florida 26, Tennessee 20— Butch Jones is just an awful game coach; watch the replay of Florida’s 63-yard walk-off TD pass that stunned Tennessee— how in the name of Johnny Majors do the Vols not have any safeties deep to prevent WR’s from getting behind the secondary? There is a proper time to play a prevent defense!!!

I repeat; Florida threw a 63-yard bomb to a WR who was single-covered on the last play of the game; where the bleep were their safeties? The only other Florida receiver in the picture was also single-covered— there is more to coaching than recruiting good players. On game day, you need to steer them to victory— Tennessee’s coaches let their players down here.

Tennessee also missed three FG’s in this game; go recruit a kicker.

11) Memphis 48, UCLA 45— Up 3 points with 3:01 left, Memphis eschewed a 33-yard FG and tried a fake, which backfired miserably. That told me this: Memphis had zero faith that its defense would protect a 51-45 lead with 2:55 left, but that defense protected a 48-45 lead and Memphis get itself a marquee win.

Why Memphis’ coaches had little faith in their defense; UCLA’s Josh Rosen was 34-56 for 463 yards, with four TD’s and two INT’s.

10) Vanderbilt 14, Kansas State 7—This was the first time ever (81 years of the AP poll) that both Memphis and Vanderbilt beat ranked opponents on the same day. Wow.

9) San Diego State 20, Stanford 17— How ironic was it that on the night before the Chargers’ first home game in Los Angeles since 1960, the lights went out at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium in the last 5:00 of a 17-13 game? Aztecs drove for the winning TD as soon as the lights came back on.

San Diego State is 3-0, with consecutive wins over Pac-12 teams. Good for them.

8) Clemson 47, Louisville 21— This was a beatdown; Tigers led 33-7 after three quarters. Dabo Sweeney has built a powerhouse program at Clemson— right now, they’re the best team in the country, even with a new quarterback.

7) Oklahoma State 59, Pittsburgh 21— Cowboys led 49-14 at HALFTIME. On the road. OSU scored the first seven times they had the football. Mason Rudolph threw for 1,037 yards in two games against Pitt, last year and this year.

6) Texas Tech 52, Arizona State 45— Game was delayed an hour by lightning, then Red Raiders jumped out to a 21-3 lead, 35-17 at the half. Arizona State stormed back to tie game; Tech got the game-winning TD with 1:55 left.

ASU beat the Red Raiders 68-55 last year, so sweet revenge for Kliff Kingsbury.

5) Northern Illinois 21, Nebraska 17— Huskies led 14-0 at the half, scoring two defensive TD’s, then held on for dear life. The natives are officially restless in Lincoln after this loss.

4) Kentucky 23, South Carolina 13— Upset in the SEC; Wildcats are 3-0. Good for Mark Stoops.

3) California 27, Ole Miss 16— Golden Bears are 3-0, despite trailing all three games in the second half. Cal has a win over an ACC team (UNC) and now an SEC team.

2) Purdue 35, Missouri 3— Mizzou has a horrendous defense. Boilers outgained the Tigers 477-203. Mizzou allowed 109 points in its first three games, and one of those was against a I-AA team- they lost 31-13/35-3 to I-A opponents.

1) Mississippi State 37, LSU 7— If you read this space regularly, you know that I’m a big fan of former LSU coach Les Miles. Anyone who thinks that firing Miles and hiring Ed Orgeron was a good idea is clueless. Orgeron is 7-25 as a head coach in SEC conference games., most of which happened when Coach O was the head coach at Ole Miss.

Seven and twenty-five!!!!

Saturday’s List of 13: College football trends for Saturday

College football knowledge for the weekend………quick trends
13) Western Kentucky is 11-5 vs spread in its last 16 games as a home favorite.

12) Last five years, San Diego State is 0-5 vs spread in the game the week before their conference opener.

11) Houston is 3-10-1 vs spread in last 13 games as a non-AAC home favorite.

10) Virginia covered nine of its last 12 non-conference games.

9) Northern Illinois is 17-5 vs spread in last 22 games as a road underdog.

8) California is 6-16 vs spread in last 22 games as a home favorite.

7) North Texas is 5-13 vs spread in last 18 games as a road underdog.

6) North Carolina covered six of its last eight games as a road underdog.

5) Purdue is 15-6 vs spread in last 21 games as a road underdog.

4) East Carolina is 4-14-1 vs spread in its last 19 games overall.

3) Cincinnati is 13-8 vs spread in its last 21 road games.

2) Kentucky is 8-14 vs spread in its last 22 games.

1) Louisville is 3-7 vs spread in last 10 games as a conference underdog.

Friday’s List of 13: Things I’m looking for this weekend……..

13) New England’s defense looked slow against the Chiefs; now they visit Bourbon Street and a Saints team that scored only one TD in five red zone drives at Minnesota Monday.

12) Clemson won its last three games with Louisville, but they’ve all been close. Tigers shut down Auburn 14-6 last week, holding them to 117 yards— impressive display of defense.

11) The two rookie QB’s who are starting both get their first NFL road start this week. Deshaun Watson started at Cincinnati Thursday; DeShone Kizer starts at Baltimore- the Ravens forced five turnovers in their win at Cincinnati LW.

10) Oklahoma State beat Pitt 45-38 LY, scoring game-winning TD with 1:28 left; now they visit a Pitt squad that got crushed by Penn State LW, after needing OT to beat I-AA Youngstown.

9) Andy Reid welcomes his old team, the Eagles, to Arrowhead, with both teams coming off of sold road wins. Kansas City’s offense looked explosive as hell against the Patriots. Philly ended a 5-game skid against their rival Redskins. This will be one of the week’s better games.

8) Minnesota won 48-14 at Oregon State last week; Gophers threw 8 passes in the whole game, which is very 70’s-ish. Middle Tennessee won SU at Syracuse LY, a big win for them.

7) Should be lot of Illinois people in the Tampa Bay area this weekend, with Illinois playing South Florida Friday night and the Bears visiting the Bucs Sunday. Hopefully life is returning to some degree of normalcy in all of Florida; if not now, then soon.

6) Baylor has sunk quickly, losing their first two games to Liberty/UTSA; now they’re a 14-point underdog at Duke, which just doesn’t look right on my notepad, but it is.

5) Chargers play their first game in that soccer stadium in Carson,, CA, their temporary home for the next three years, until they move into the new domed stadium in Inglewood that they’ll share with the Rams. Miami practiced in California this week; after the game they go back to south Florida and try to resume normal life, after the hurricane.

4) Wyoming QB Josh Allen didn’t fare too well against Iowa, now the Oregon Ducks come to Laramie, giving the Cowboys a rare home game against a Power 5 opponent.

3) Green Bay’s defense played really well LY; now thy christen Atlanta’s new dome, after they lost to the Falcons twice LY, including a playoff game. Excellent Sunday night game.

2) Missouri is a 7-point favorite over Purdue, despite losing at home to South Carolina LW and then firing their defensive coordinator, after only two games. Maybe it was all his fault?!?!?!

1) Odell Beckham’s agent hopes the Giants’ offense struggles again this week, so guys on TV can blame everything short of the hurricanes on his contract issues. Beckham doesn’t block for a living, which is the Giants’ biggest problem right now.

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

13) Houston Texans played terribly in their opener; now news that LB Brian Cushing is out for 10 weeks due to a PED suspension and things just got a little more depressing for the Texans.

12) Apparently the Denver Broncos lost interest in drafting Dak Prescott last year when he missed the flight to come visit the team after the NFL Combine. Prescott showed up later that night but you only get one chance to make a first impression. Denver drafted Paxton Lynch instead, a subplot to Sunday’s game at Mile High Stadium.

11) Marlins-Brewers series, scheduled for Miami this weekend, has been moved to Miller Park in Milwaukee as hurricane cleanup efforts continue in south Florida.

There is still no power at the Marlins’ TV studio in Miami.

10) Tuesday night in Philly, Giancarlo Stanton threw out a runner at second base, a runner at third base and another at home plate— that would’ve been the game-winning run. That was the first time an outfielder has thrown out runners and 2B, 3B and home in the same game since Dale Murphy of the Braves did it in 1991, also in Philadelphia.

9) The All-Star break isn’t the halfway mark of the season anymore; next year, the Orioles will play 98 games before the All-Star break. With the season starting in late March now to allow for four more off days per team, the halfway point in terms of games will be in June.

8) Cubs and Cardinals won’t like this; the All-Star break is four days for 28 teams, but these two teams play on Thursday, July 19, making their All-Star break only three days. That game will be the first of seven games in 11 days between Cubs/Cardinals.

All-Star Game is in Washington next summer.

7) Indians-Twins are playing a two-game series in Puerto Rico April 17-18. Figures to be a little warmer in San Juan than Minneapolis in April.

6) San Francisco Giants will open on the road in Los Angeles next year; it’ll be the 9th year in a row the Giants are opening the season on the road.

5) This guy Rhys Hoskins looks like the real deal for the Phillies; he has plate discipline, takes his walks and his power definitely plays in the Phillies’ small home ballpark. He is a keeper.

4) Dodger reliever Brandon Morrow appeared in his 39th game Tuesday night; if he appears in one more game, he nets himself a $250,000 bonus.

3) Indians 5, Tigers 3— Cleveland won its 21st straight game, but Detroit’s catcher/manager were both tossed in the 3rd inning for bitching about balls/strikes with plate umpire Quinn Wolcott, who had been squeezing pitcher Buck Farmer on balls/strikes early in the game.

Soon after play resumed after the ejections, new catcher John Hicks completely missed catching a Farmer pitch— the ball drilled Wolcott near the collarbone.

Immediately, Indians’ TV guys insinuated Hicks had missed the ball on purpose, so it would hit Wolcott. Only Hicks knows for sure.

2) They listed the attendance in Cleveland Wednesday as 29,346; looked a lot more crowded than that— people were still waiting outside to get in the ballpark in the second inning.

Their crowd of 24,000+ Tuesday night was disappointing, considering how great the Indians have been playing, but it seemed like Wednesday, everyone took the afternoon off from work and came out to the ballpark.

1) By the way, as an A’s fan, congrats to the Indians on this great streak. 2002 was so much fun for me, as the A’s found a way to win 20 games in a row at just about this same point of the season. Hope it translates to postseason success in Cleveland.

Maybe somebody will make a movie about them.

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

13) Baseball is cool because odd things sometimes happen; Monday night/Tuesday morning’s Dodger-Giant game was nothing if not odd.

There was a 42-minute rain delay at the start, then the game began, the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter struck out and then the rains came again, forcing a rain delay of 2:52.

The game resumed at about 1:55am here in the east; it ended around 5am. Thats 5 in the morning.

12) Pablo Sandoval was in a 1 for 47 slump when he singled to left in the 6th inning very late Monday night, or at roughly 4am Tuesday morning here in the east.

11) Indians were -$500 against Detroit Tuesday; I’ve never seen a baseball line that high.

10) Only nine out of over 2,000 people went 5-0 in the first week of the SuperContest at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. Denver was -3 in the contest, so anyone who had that game got a push.

9) Charger-Bronco game Monday night was only Week 1 NFL game where no points were scored in the last 2:00 of either half.

8) All four NFC North teams covered the spread in Week 1, only division that can say that.

7) Dolphins are practicing in Oxnard, CA at the Cowboys’ training camp facility this week, as they prepare to play the Chargers Sunday. Has to be a very strange week for them.

6) Yasiel Puig’s platoon splits this year:
vs lefty pitchers: .162, one HR, 8 RBI, 105 AB
vs righty pitchers: .286, 24 HR, 58 RBI, 343 AB

Very odd for a right-handed hitter like Puig.

5) Tennessee started their game Sunday by trying an onside kick, the first team to try that since the Vikings in 2009. Neither onside kick worked.

4) 2018 baseball schedules were released Tuesday. Opening Day is Thursday, March 29— for the first time since 1968, every team will play on Opening Day.

3) A’s play the White Sox at home on April 17; the game is free for all fans— it marks the 50th anniversary of the A’s first game in Oakland, after they moved from Kansas City.

2) Milwaukee Brewers will find out early next season if they’re going to contend; they play 14 games in April against the Cubs/Cardinals.

1) Seattle Mariners play 18 road games next April; their schedule is usually more cumbersome because of their being in the Pacific Northwest, but 18 road games in April is tough.

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

13) Watching these news stations put reporters in harm’s way during these storms, it bugs me. Why it is so important to put a human being out there in dangerous storms?

We know it is horrible weather; showing some poor soul trying to brave the elements to try and enhance their career is just plain stupid. Safety should matter for reporters, too.

12) Last baseball team to go thru a 1-12 stretch and win the World Series that year? The 1914 Boston Braves, whose 1-12 skid was from April 24-May 16.

Dodgers are 1-15 in their last 16 games.

11) Washington State’s quarterbacks Saturday:
— Luke Falk was 24-34 for 194 yards
— Tyler Hilinski was 25-33 for 240 yards and three TD’s.

That has to be the first time a team had two QB’s throw 30+ passes in the same game.

10) Georgia’s game in South Bend Saturday was the furthest north they’ve played since a game at Michigan in 1965. Georgia fans travelled; Doug Flutie said on TV that the crowd was 50-50 split between Georgia fans and the home team.

9) Friday night’s game with Milwaukee was first Cubs’ Friday home game ever played at nite.

8) Indians’ winning streak has vaulted them ahead of Houston for top seed in the American League; if playoffs started today, Cleveland would play the Wild Card winner, Astros-Red Sox would be the other AL playoff series.

7) Stephen Strasburg has now thrown 34 consecutive scoreless innings; I watched his start on Tuesday— looked like something was bothering him physically, but no one can score on him, and he gutted out his start and helped Washington win.

6) For whatever reason, a high school football team from Miami played at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas this past Friday night, but they couldn’t get home because of the storm. Now they’re stuck in Las Vegas, which is a good place to be stuck. Bishop Gorman helped out with getting them a place to stay until they can go home.

5) Kent State football coach Paul Haynes is back this week from medical leave he had taken to deal with prostate cancer. Hope he is feeling better.

4) People on social media were going nuts because Beth Mowins was doing play-by-play of the Chargers’ game. So what? She’s been doing games on ESPN for years, usually the noon college game on ESPN2. She does a fine job, nothing surprising about it.

3) Vikings 29, Saints 19— New Orleans was poor in the red zone; they kicked three FG’s that were shorter than 25 yards. Saints started the last three seasons 0-2/0-3/0-3— now they’re 0-1 and they’re playing New England on a short week Sunday.

2) Broncos 24, Chargers 21— Chargers roared back from 24-7 deficit, but missed FG on last play of game that would’ve sent game to OT. Rex Ryan was disappointing as an ESPN analyst.

Philip Rivers hasn’t missed a game since 2006, which means that he is on the downside of his career. If the Chargers aren’t any good with him, what will they be like when he leaves? There is no decent young QB on the Charger roster. You say Cardale Jones? I say Buffalo didn’t want him, which immediately makes him a suspect.

1) I’d much prefer having a Monday night NFL doubleheader every week to having a Thursday night game every week. Football wasn’t meant to be played on three days’ rest.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Chiefs 42, Patriots 27— Chiefs scored 28 second half points, ran up 537 yards, offsetting 139 penalty yards, as they made New England’s defense look slow. Only one of KC’s six TD drives was less than 75 yards- they had touchdown PLAYS of 75, 78 yards. Surprising result, but last three times New England lost in Week 1, they won the Super Bowl that year.

Bills 21, Jets 12— Buffalo sits alone atop AFC East, holding Jets to 38 rushing yards and 11 first downs. As far as team points over/unders go, my new hobby here, under is 18-7-1— only 7 of 26 teams exceeded their over/under points so far this week. Jets’ total was 15.5, 1.5 points lower than any other team this week.

Falcons 23, Bears 17— Chicago had ball on 10-yard line when game ended; two passes were either dropped/broken up inside 2-yard line in last three plays. Falcons coach Quinn was VERY happy when this game ended and he let it show— not sure happy is right word, maybe total relief after that Super Bowl and then an 0-4 preseason.

Jaguars 29, Texans 7— Upset of Day. Jacksonville ran ball for 155 yards, were +4 in turnovers, and held QB-challenged Houston to 203 yards. Savage was awful in first half; rookie QB Watson played second half, led one TD drive, but this was another very disappointing day in Houston.

Eagles 30, Redskins 17— Philly’s two TD drives were only 56-39 yards; each team scored a defensive TD, as Eagles snapped a 5-game skid against Washington. Iggles converted 8-14 on 3rd down, Redskins only 3-14, as Philly scored TD’s on two of first four drives, then kicked three FG’s on their last six drives.

Lions 35, Cardinals 23— On their first nine drives, Detroit had one TD, one FG, gaining total of 182 yards, but on their last three drives, Lions ran 17 plays for 149 yards and three TD’s. I have a question: is conditioning a factor early in the season? Teams haven’t played full games because coaches are scared of injuries, so when they have to play a full game in Week 1, are some teams in worse shape than others? Arizona’s defense looked very tired at the end.

Raiders 26, Titans 16— One of two games this week (Atl-Chi) with no turnovers. For the week so far, home teams are 7-6 vs spread; over is 3-10. Listening to TV Sunday, the consensus is that the defenses are ahead of offenses in the first couple weeks of the season. Offense takes more precision. Titans were 7-14 on 3rd down but scored only one TD, kicked three FG’s.

Ravens 20, Bengals 0— Baltimore led 3-0 at 2:00 warning of first half, then scored two TD’s in 0:24 span to break game open and lead 17-0 at half. Total yardage in lackluster game was 268-221 Baltimore; Ravens had 85 penalty yards, while Bengals turned ball over five times (-4). Flacco was 9-17/111 passing, after missing just about the whole summer with a bad back.

Steelers 21, Browns 18— Cleveland is now 1-18 in Week 1, with only win 13 years ago. Steelers blocked punt for TD on Browns’ first drive, then survived 144 penalty yards to win their opener. Pittsburgh ran 17 times for only 35 yards, which is not good; Big Ben targeted Brown 11 times, and he caught all 11 passes for 182 yards.

Rams 46, Colts 9— Indy has severe QB issues; if Andrew Luck can’t come back soon, and he hasn’t started practicing yet, they should sign Colin Kaepernick, who is way better than either Tolzien or Brissett. As for the Rams, this was a great day; Jared Goff looked like an NFL QB and the defense was dominant, even without Aaron Donald.

Packers 17, Seahawks 9— Game was scoreless until just before the half; this was 5th time in Seattle’s last nine road games that they scored 10 or less points. Rodgers was a magician on third down (9-16), as usual; Green Bay held Seahawks to 12 first downs as Seattle lost its 8th game in a row at Lambeau Field.

Panthers 23, 49ers 3— Hard to tell much about Carolina’s offense; their two TD drives were only 42-28 yards. Total yardage was 287-217; Panthers were 7-13 on third down- they didn’t score on any of their drives that started 75+ yards from the goal line, but scored two TD’s, kicked three FG’s on the other five drives that started less than 75 yards from the goal line.

Cowboys 19, Giants 3— Dallas outgained Giants 392-233; New York ran ball only 12 times for 35 yards, converted only 4-12 on third down- their average starting field position was their own 16 yard line. Under is now 8-1 in Giants’ last nine road games; they are 5-10-2 vs spread in last 17 games as a road underdog. Cowboys converted 8-15 on third down, had a 13-yard edge in average starting field position.

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

13) Oklahoma 31, Ohio State 16— Buckeyes play Army, UNLV and Rutgers their next three games; going to be some serious butt-kicking going on there, after this showing in the second half.

Senior QB Mayfield was 27-35 for 386 yards and three TD’s for the Sooners, who outscored Ohio State 28-13 in the second half.

12) USC 42, Stanford 24— Trojans gained over 600 yards of offense; hope they left some points on that field for the Rams today. USC was 10-12 on third down, ran for 307 yards. Impressive.

11) Clemson 14, Auburn 6— Gus Malzahn won the national title at Auburn in 2013; since then, he is 24-17 on the Plains, 11-13 in SEC games. No bueno.

Gene Chizik won the national title at Auburn in 2010; he got fired two years later, after going 11-14 in 2011-12. My point here? Not a lot of patience at Auburn- they gained a total of 117 yards in this game. The natives are officially restless.

10) Iowa 44, Iowa State 41 OT— Cyclones’ QB Jacob Park was South Carolina’s Mr Football in 2013; he went to Georgia, redshirted in 2014, then transferred to Trident Technical School, and then Northeasterm Oklahoma- he didn’t play ball at the those places.

He started three games at Iowa State last year; Saturday he completed 25-46 passes for 347 yards and four TD’s as the Cyclones lost in OT to their in-state rivals.

Iowa State’s starting QB for most of last year was Joel Lanning; he is now the Cyclones’ middle linebacker. You don’t see that a lot.

9) TCU 28, Arkansas 7— Horned Frogs ran the ball well and played solid defense. In its last three games against Power 5 opponents (Mizzou, Va Tech, TCU), the Razorbacks have scored zero second half points. No bueno.

Arkansas’ kicker missed 22 and 23-yard FG’s; TCU fumbled on the Arkansas 3-yard line.

8) Middle Tennessee 30, Syracuse 23— MTSU coach Rick Stockstill played QB at Florida State back in the day; his son Brent plays QB for the Blue Raiders now. Wonder what that is like, a coach needing to win to keep his job, and his most important player is his son. No pressure there.

The great basketball coach Al McGuire coached his son Allie at Marquette; when a point guard on the team complained that Allie was starting ahead of him, McGuire said: “I like you, but I LOVE my son.” End of discussion.

7) Indians 4, Orioles 2— Cleveland has outscored opponents 118-30 during its 17-game winning streak, 57-12 in the first three innings.

The A’s swept a doubleheader from Houston Saturday; I should’ve bought a lottery ticket.

6) Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Jimmy Nelson is out for the year; he hurt his shoulder diving head-first back into first base on a pickoff attempt Friday night. Oy.

5) Louisville 47, North Carolina 35— Lamar Jackson was 25-39 passing for 393 yards and three TD’s, and also ran for 132 yards and three TD’s, as the Tar Heels got beat at home for the second week in a row. Cardinals play Clemson next week- they gained 705 yards in this game.

4) Kent State 38, Howard 31— Cam Newton’s brother is Howard’s QB; he’s put up 74 points as the Bison split a pair of games against lower-level I-A programs. Not bad.

3) Georgia 20, Notre Dame 19— Dawgs had 12 penalties for 126 yards; teams combined to convert only 7-34 on third down, but this is a huge road win for Georgia, with a freshman QB.

2) Mississippi State 57, Louisiana Tech 21— Tech actually LOST 87 YARDS ON ONE PLAY late in this game!!! They wound up with 3rd-and-goal from their own 7-yard line, which has to be a record of some sort.

1) Next Saturday’s Miami-Florida State game was moved to October 7 because of the hurricane; Miami’s October 12 game was pushed back two days to the 14th.

Our thoughts-prayers to all the people affected by the storms. Please stay safe, though you’re probably not reading this anyway.

Saturday’s List of 13: Things I’m looking for this weekend…….

13) Ohio State went to Norman and whacked Oklahoma 45-24 LY; now the teams meet in the Horseshoe, with two senior QB’s and two experienced offensive lines.

12) Ezekiel Elliott will play; unsure if Odell Beckham (ankle) will, but Giant-Cowboy games are usually fun, which is why they’re always in primetime games together.

11) Louisville plays Clemson next week, but first they visit a North Carolina squad that lost as a double digit home favorite to Cal last week. Trap game for the Cardinals.

10) Browns cut CB Joe Haden couple weeks ago; Steelers gave him $27M for three years about a half hour later. Haden meets up with his old teammates Sunday when Pittsburgh visits Cleveland.

9) Iowa’s offense didn’t look like much last week in a win over Wyoming. Hawkeyes usually beat rival Iowa State, but the Cyclones were 4-1 as a home underdog last year.

8) Super Bowl losers usually struggle the next year, especially in season openers (2-12 vs spread the last 14 years). Falcons are favored in Chicago after their 0-4 preseason. Mike Glennon makes his debut at QB for the Bears.

7) Pittsburgh beat Penn State last year, but the Panthers needed OT to beat I-AA Youngstown last week. Penn State crushed Akron last week. Revenge could be in the cards in Happy Valley.

6) Raiders/Texans both improved a lot last year; then both lost their QB late in the season. Oakland re-tooled its defense a lot in the offseason; this will be a good test for them.

5) Stanford has had the upper hand over USC for the last decade now; Trojans need to win this game to stake their claim to the top of the Pac-12. If you’re a Jet fan, watching this game might be more interesting than the game in Buffalo Sunday, seeing how USC’s QB Sam Darnold figures to be the first QB taken in next spring’s draft.

4) Jacksonville is going to try and play old school football, running ball more to protect its defense and its suspect QB. Houston Texans have obviously had tremendous distractions the last few weeks; for three hours, the Texans and their fans can block all that out, maybe.

3) Mike Riley used to be Oregon State’s coach; he didn’t do that well vs rival Oregon, but now he brings his Nebraska Cornhuskers to Eugene. There have been wildfires in Oregon this week that messed with the air quality in Eugene; the Ducks moved their practices closer to the ocean.

2) Can’t wait to see how Jared Goff looks after being coached this summer; Rams-Colts game is a little weird. LA doesn’t have Aaron Donald, its best defensive player. Indy doesn’t have its QB Andrew Luck, or its center.

1) Kansas hasn’t been 2-0 in football since 2011; they host a Central Michigan squad here that needed OT last week to beat a I-AA team. Jayhawks are favored to get to that 2-0 mark.

Friday’s List of 13: NFL knowledge with the season here…….

13) Dallas Cowboys haven’t played in a Super Bowl since the 1995 season; Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger both won a Super Bowl in their second season- Dallas is hoping Dak Prescott gets a championship in his second season.

12) Roethlisberger has played all 16 games in only three of his 13 NFL seasons; he missed one game in four other seasons.

11) Teams who have rebuilt/are rebuilding their offensive lines:
— Vikings have four new starters on the offensive line.
— Broncos, Ravens, Chargers, Lions, Rams all have three new starters.

10) Indianapolis Colts have eight new starters on defense; their QB and center are both out to start this season.

9) Lot of people are touting the Buccaneers to be a playoff team this year; after watching Hard Knocks this summer, I wasn’t overly impressed by anything about them, other than coach Dirk Koetter is a very calm person. Even when he curses someone out, it is done quietly.

Koetter got the head coaching job because of how he’s helped Jameis Winston develop as a QB; would’ve liked to have seen some of that behind-the-scenes teaching on Hard Knocks.

8) Carolina Panthers lost six games by 3 or less points last year; teams like that often make a quantum leap forward if they get some breaks the next season, but Carolina was also 15-1 the year before, so maybe last year was the correction.

In any event. Cam Newton’s shoulder is the Panthers’ most important variable.

7) Do you think Bill Belichick will retire when Tom Brady does?

6) Oakland Raiders have five new starters on defense; Derek Carr has been terrific at QB as a Raider, but he is 1-5 against the Chiefs.

5) Minnesota QB Sam Bradford’s passes traveled an average of 6.24 yards in the air LY, the shortest average pass of any starting QB, which helps explain why he completed 70% of them.

Bradford’s best WR is Michael Floyd, who is suspended for the first four games this year.

4) Baltimore Ravens were 8-8 LY, losing three games they led with 2:30 to play; since June 1, Ravens have lost four starters for the season with injuries. Joe Flacco didn’t take a snap in the preseason games and they have three new starters on the OL. I’m a skeptic.

3) Arizona Cardinals have only five outdoor games this season; three of their road games are in domes. Cardinals also have six new starters on defense this season.

2) New Orleans Saints have been 7-9 the last three seasons; they’ve got six new starters on defense this year. Will they run the ball more this season to protect that defense, and aging QB Drew Brees?  They’ve added Adrian Peterson, so it is a popular theory.

1) Last two years, Chargers are 7-17 in games decided by 8 or less points; they’ve got 10 starters back on defense and a rookie coach who hired two former head coaches as coordinators, which seems like a smart move.

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

13) Mets’ game Tuesday night was so terrible that their three TV guys spent the last half of the game going thru a bunch of 40-year old baseball cards they had in the booth. Seriously.

Names like John Wockenfuss, Frank Tanana, Paul Casanova came up and then Keith Hernandez or Ron Darling would tell a story about playing against them. It was oddly entertaining.

12) If I had to pick a random person I’d like to meet/talk to someday, it would be Bill James, the Sabermetrics guy. 35 years ago I found one of his books in a bookstore and was hooked; we share a love for statistics and his writing is terrific. It is amazing that a guy who was once a night watchman in a pork and beans factory has had so much influence on the sports world.

11) Baseball is cool because odd stuff happens; Boston reliever Carson Smith made his first appearance after missing 16 months (Tommy John surgery) Tuesday— he came in the game in the 18th inning. His first pitch was a close pitch to Josh Donaldson, called a strike.

Donaldson flips out on the umpire, gets tossed, so after Smith has thrown his first pitch in 16 months, he is facing his second hitter in the same at-bat. Unusual.

10) Cleveland Indians are on fire, winning 14 games in a row, which begs the question: Why did the Red Sox ever fire Terry Francona?

Francona managed the Red Sox for eight glorious years, all winning seasons, two of them world championship seasons— only once did his Sox win less than 89 games (86-76 in ’06). He ended the Curse of the Bambino, then won another title three years later.

He is 434-350 in Cleveland, with five winning seasons; he came within one inning of a world title with the Indians last season. A Hall of Fame manager, for sure.

9) Red Sox, by the way, are 12-3 in extra inning games this season.

8) Angels have gotten a save from six different pitchers in their last 24 games, which has to be some kind of a record.

7) Marlins Park in Miami is five years old; there was interesting stuff posted on the Interweb today about how with Hurricane Irma approaching, Marlins Park was designed to survive a hurricane, partially by leaving the roof open in three different areas, to allow air pressure to enter and then leave the stadium.

Hopefully the storm will lose a lot of its steam and everyone in the storm’s path will be safe.

6) NHL’s Florida Panthers are taking 90 players/employees and their families to Boston for the weekend to wait out Hurricane Irma.

5) Couple of Cincinnati Reds’-related notes:
a) Billy Hamiiton broke his hand Wednesday, is out for the year.
b) Rookie pitcher Luis Castillo beat the Brewers Wednesday, then was shut down for the season because in today’s baseball, prospects aren’t supposed to throw 20% more innings than they did the year before.

Castillo threw 131.2 innings last year, has 169.2 this year, a 28.9% increase, so he is done for this year with a 3-7, 3.12 mark in 15 major league starts that was way better than it looks.

4) Will Middlebrooks had a pinch-hit triple in both games of a twin bill for Texas Wednesday; he is the only person in the last 100 years to do that.

3) Dodgers have lost 11 of their last 12 games; from June 7-August 19, they were 51-9.

2) Detroit’s Ian Kinsler hit his 15th homer last night; all 15 have been solo HR’s. He is the first player since 1987 whose first 15 homers in a season all came with the bases empty.

1) Sign of the times: Middle Tennessee State got a commitment from a basketball prospect this week, but the young man just graduated 8th grade. Whats up with that? Kid won’t start college until four years from now.