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

13) RIP Don Rickles, 90, the comedian who became famous by insulting EVERYONE. The guy busted Frank Sinatra’s chops and got away with it- not many people did that. Rickles wasn’t the least bit politically correct, back in an era where people could laugh at themselves instead of being so damn sensitive, the way we are these days.

Reading social media Thursday; Rickles was beloved by modern entertainers, from Chris Rock to Jimmy Kimmel. RIP, sir.

12) Saw a great story of how Rickles was in Tommy Lasorda’s office in Dodger Stadium late in the 1977 baseball season; Lasorda told him to put a uniform on and sit next to him on the bench, so he did.

In the sixth inning, Lasorda tells Rickles to go out and change pitchers; seriously, he did, and Rickles went out and changed pitchers, though the pitcher (Elias Sosa) apparently wasn’t real happy about it. Harry Wendelstedt was the ump; when he went to the mound and saw it was Rickles, he asked him if he could get him tickets to see Dean Martin in Las Vegas.

11) I’m watching the Padres this week and I’m wondering, if Trayce Thompson was a Padre, would he hit 4th or 5th? With the Dodgers, he is in AAA.

10) San Diego’s TV analyst Mark Grant owns a Toyota with 274,000 miles on it; that must be one hell of a car.

9) Dustin Johnson withdrew from The Masters; here at SouthPoint, they refunded bets made on Johnson, but at William Hill sportsbooks, there were no refunds. Would be a cold day in hell before they got any more of my business- thats just common sense.

8) When the Giants lost in Arizona Sunday, after Madison Bumgarner homered twice, it was just the third time since 1960 that a pitcher homered twice in a game that his team lost.

7) Mets faced a lefty last night and Wilmer Flores batted cleanup; I’m thinking, jeez thats not good, but Terry Collins is a sharp guy— Flores homered to break the game open as the Mets won 6-2.

6) Reds 7, Phillies 4— Not often the game-winning hit is a pinch-hit HR by a pitcher, but Michael Lorenzen got one here- it is the first pinch-hit HR by a pitcher since 2009, when Micah Owings hit one, also for Cincinnati.

5) Stanford-Notre Dame played a regional final in the womens’ tournament in Rupp Arena in Lexington, a building that seats 23,000- they drew 2,527 fans. Only one of the four regional finals in the womens’ tournament drew more than 3,200 fans.

4) December 5, hoop doubleheader in Phoenix: St John’s-Grand Canyon, Arizona-Texas A&M.

Chris Mullin must think his team will be pretty good next year; they’re involved in another twinbill, this one in Staples Center; St John’s-Arizona State and Oklahoma-USC.

3) Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha banked a $4M settlement from an incident outside a New York City nightclub couple years ago where the NYPD beat him up pretty good and broke his leg. The incident was captured on film, which usually helps the plaintiff.

2) A woman on Jeopardy lost $17,200 on Final Jeopardy because she couldn’t come up with the Raptors as the answer— she guessed Timberwolves as “the animal that is this NBA team’s primary mascot peaked 75 million years ago.”

1— Quote of the Day, Part 2: “Isaiah Briscoe leaving UK. Don’t want to be mean-spirited but not sure he has single NBA skill. And shooting is critical for NBA guard.”
ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla, who isn’t normally very critical.

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

13) Dustin Johnson fell down a flight of stairs Wednesday, is a ???? for The Masters today, which wreaked havoc with odds here in Las Vegas, and also in my golf pool. Hope he is OK; Wednesday was a rainy day in Augusta; otherwise Johnson would’ve been at the Par 3 tournament they usually have the day before the tournament starts.

12) People who paid to see the Par 3 tournament (some as much as $1,800) were out of luck Wednesday. I’m assuming they gave out refunds, but I couldn’t find anything that said one way or the other if that happened.

11) Del Mar Deli by the SouthPoint sports book has superior pizza; they also have Dr Brown’s soda, which isn’t easy to find. If you’re looking for an excellent place to stay in Las Vegas that is a little more casual than some places, SouthPoint would be a great choice.

This weekend: bowling tournaments and a cheerleading competition are here. Oy.

10) Akron hired former Ohio U/Illinois coach John Grace to replace Keith Dambrot, who is now the coach at Duquesne.

9) Memphis Tigers lost two of their top three scorers when the Lawson brothers bolted with their father to a school to be named- the dad was a program assistant. Lawsons were two of Memphis’ top three scorers, so their talent pool takes a big hit, but you get the idea reading between the lines that chemistry-wise, this could be addition by subtraction.

8) Cubs are batting their pitcher 8th again this spring, which is Joe Maddon playing mind games with his competitors. If he really thought this was a good idea, they would’ve done it during the playoffs- thats when you show your hand as to what your best strategy is.

Seriously, other teams batted their pitcher 8th last year and their managers basically didn’t have any good reason to do it, other than, “…well (Tony) LaRussa and Maddon did it.”

7) Rumors on the Interweb say Jeb Bush may buy the Miami Marlins; hey, it worked for his brother, who once owned the Texas Rangers before becoming President.

6) Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson didn’t play last night, missing his first NBA game since February 10, 2012, when he was a rookie- he had played in 447 consecutive games.

5) Last guy to win The Masters in his first try? Fuzzy Zoeller, in 1979.

4) Bartolo Colon made his MLB 20 years ago for Cleveland, against an Angels’ team managed by Terry Collins. Colon pitched against the Mets last nite, managed by Terry Collins.

3) Astros 5, Mariners 3 (13)— Seattle went to Houston, scored total of five runs in losing their first three games of the season. Mariners led 3-2 in 13th inning before George Springer hit a 3-run walk-off tater. If you had Seattle and the under (7.5), not your finest hour.

2) Masters prop bets: Which par-5 hole will yield the most birdies this weekend?
13th hole: 7-5, 15th hole: 2-1, 2nd hole: 2-1, 8th hole: 4-1.

1— Which par-3 hole will yield the most birdies?
16th hole: 2-7, 12th hole: 13-5, 6th hole: 14-5, 4th hole: 20-1.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Happy Hump Day, America…….

13) Tony Romo retired Tuesday and will now work on CBS with Jim Nantz on their #1 NFL broadcasting team. There are rumors he will also do some work on CBS golf telecasts, seeing as how he is a scratch golfer.

12) North Carolina Tar Heels got zero #1 votes in the preseason Top 25 poll- they won the national championship. Wonder if they’ll get any #1 votes next preseason.

11) Washington Wizards are 47-31, most games they’ve won since 1979. Good for Scott Brooks, who got a bum deal in Oklahoma City.

10) Minnesota Timberwolves’ star Karl Anthony Towns is younger than all ten players who started in the Gonzaga-UNC game Monday night.

9) I don’t give a rat’s ass about who wins MVP in any sport; it does not matter. You listen to some people talk about the NBA, and they talk more about individuals than teams. Winning and losing are all that truly matter; that and effort. Too much talk about individuals.

8) San Diego Padres have a payroll of roughly $71M this season, but over half of that is to players who are now on other teams.

7) Portland/Denver are tied in loss column for #8 playoff spot in the West. Celtics/Cavaliers are tied for first in the Eastern Conference. Miami trails Indiana by a half-game for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.

6) College basketball coaching changes:
a) Joe Pasternack (Arizona ass’t) takes over at Cal-Santa Barbara.
b) Lamont Paris (Wisconsin ass’t) takes over at Chattanooga.
c) CB McGrath (North Carolina ass’t) takes over at NC-Wilmington.
d) Matt Figger (South Carolina ass’t) takes over at Austin Peay.

5) It is funny that Georgetown paid a search firm to find their new basketball coach; Patrick Ewing is the best player in Georgetown history- couldn’t have been that difficult to identify him.

4) NHL players are unhappy that the league won’t set time aside for players to compete in the Olympics next winter.

3) Quote of the Day, part 2, from Klay Thompson, a great “outside” shooter:
“I’d probably say the weather’s gotten better. The sunshine has been so good to me. … It just puts me in a great mood to come to the gym every day, get my work in, go home, enjoy it — the outdoors. The Bay Area is beautiful. That’s a big part of it — not even kidding.”

2) If the NBA playoffs started this morning (they do not), matchups would be:
East
Indiana/Cleveland, Chicago/Boston, Atlanta/Toronto, Milwaukee/Washington

West
Portland/Golden State, Memphis/San Antonio, Oklahoma City/Houston, Clippers/Utah.

1— Tony Romo earned $127,422,458 in salary during his NFL career; curious to see how he does behind a microphone. I know he’ll like announcing better on Monday mornings, when he wakes up and isn’t sore all over from getting hit all day Sunday.

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

13) North Carolina 71, Gonzaga 65— Ton of missed shots led to a game with lot of whistles; both teams shot under 36% for the game. Zags had the lead in last 2:00- they missed an awful lot of shots in the paint. Tar Heels win a title this year, after losing at the buzzer LY. As for Gonzaga, they had a great season that had a disappointing ending.

12) 25 guys on the San Diego Padres’ Opening Day roster make a total of $28.13M this season. Clayton Kershaw makes $33M, all by himself.

11) Dodgers and Detroit Tigers have baseball’s highest payrolls this season.

10) Indians play in Arizona this weekend, which means no DH; I’m hoping they use Carlos Santana in the outfield for a game; then he becomes eligible in the outfield all season for my fantasy team. Would be a big help to the Armadillos.

9) Eagles and Redskins are only teams that will be playing both Rams/Chargers in Los Angeles this season; Eagles would like those games in consecutive weeks.

8) Cincinnati Bengals haven’t opened a season at home since 2009; they want to open at home this season.

7) Duke has had two basketball players transfer since their season ended two weeks ago; it is not a good optic. It almost seems like that if you’re not good enough to jump to the NBA or start for the Blue Devils, then they tell you to take a hike.

6) First meal when I got to Las Vegas: Steak ’n Shake. Tastes good and doesn’t cost much. Also had my first-ever chicken quesadilla Monday night- it will not be my last one.

5) This 10-day disabled list in baseball is going to take some getting used to- has been 15 days for a long time— it was 21 before that.

4) Rangers’ SS Elvis Andrus learned English by listening to Rascal Flatts songs. Really, he did.

3) Oklahoma City Thunder is 31-9 when Russell Westbrook gets a triple/double, 13-24 when he does not.

2) Since 1970, most pitches thrown in an Opening Day start: Jack Morris (144) 1992, Roger Clemens (135) 1988, Randy Johnson (133) 2000 and 2001.

1a) North Carolina won the national title in men’s basketball.
1b) South Carolina won the women’s national title.
1c) Coastal Carolina’s cheerleaders were suspended after they were anonymously accused of being involved in a prostitution ring, amongst other things.

Big year in the Carolinas. Oy.

Monday’s List of 13: Happy Opening Day!!!

13) Diamondbacks 6, Giants 5— SF bullpen blew two saves on Opening Day, ruining a great day by Madison Bumgarner, who struck out 11 and homered twice, the first pitcher ever to do that on Opening Day.

12) Sat next to a guy Friday night who bet Mississippi State on the money line against UConn in the girls’ basketball semifinals. He put $10 on a parlay with MSU and South Carolina and he pocketed $345. He is a good guy and was excited; takes onions to bet against UConn.

11) Some genius at a William Hill sports book risked $7,000 to win $100 making the exact opposite bet, taking UConn on the money line. I’m sure he assumed it was an easy $100, but he was wrong, with a capital W.

If someone ever writes a book on how NOT to gamble, this should be in Chapter 1.

10) Watched the second half of the game without sound in the SouthPoint sports book; ESPN kept showing this guy cheering wildly for Miss State, I’m assuming it is a player’s husband, brother or boyfriend- turns out it was Dak Prescott, the Cowboys’ QB/Miss State alum. He was excited, even moreso than the guy who won $335 on the parlay.

9) If you’re in Las Vegas, the sports book here at South Point is excellent, I’d rank it #2 in town behind the Westgate, but the food options are better here and the hotel is nicer.

8) San Diego Padres are apparently starting the season with three Rule 5 players on their roster; those are minor leaguers plucked from other teams, but they have to stay in the majors all year or get offered back to their original team. Basically, they’re prospects who aren’t ready yet.

ESPN’s Keith Law says the only other team to carry three Rule 5 guys in one year were the 2003 Tigers, who went 43-119, but were in the playoffs three years later.

7) Colorado Rockies start season with seven guys on the DL, which seems excessive even for baseball, where guys drop like flies.

6) TV ratings for the Final Four Saturday were a huge success; much better games than last year. Gonzaga-UNC game figures to get good ratings, too.

5) San Antonio Spurs have had a winning road record 20 years in a row, which is remarkable.

4) If they ever make a movie about Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, Andrew McCarthy has to play Snyder- they look so much alike they could be brothers.

3) College hoop referee Ted Valentine worked his 10th Final Four Saturday, but his first since 2010; does that make him Comeback Ref of the Year?

2) Youngest teams in the major leagues? Cincinnati Reds, then the Padres.

1— Madison Bumgarner has 16 career homers, most of any active pitcher; he has hit two HR’s off of two pitchers— Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Not bad.

Happy Opening Day, everyone!!!!

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up Final Four Saturday

13) Gonzaga 77, South Carolina 73— Were you not entertained? Not often a team goes on a 16-0 run and loses; Gamecocks fought their hearts out, but their bench was outscored 22-14 and Bulldogs advance to play for their first national title Monday night.

12) North Carolina 77, Oregon 76— Ducks shot under 30% from arc in four of their six losses this year; this 7-26 performance was their worst since November losses to Baylor/Georgetown. Oregon held UNC to 36.2% inside the arc, but couldn’t rebound two missed foul shots when it mattered most, and now their great season is over.

11) Charles Barkley predicted Gonzaga to win Monday night before the second game last night was over. I’m predicting the game will get excellent TV ratings.

10) Other than Kentucky/Duke, is recruiting one/done players a good idea? Here are some recent one/done’s and how their coaches made out:

— Dennis Smith, NC State— Mark Gottfried got fired this year.
— Ben Simmons, LSU— Johnny Jones got fired this year, a year after Simmons left.
— Markelle Fultz, Washington— Lorenzo Romar got fired this year.
— Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV- Dave Rice was fired during the season last year.

9) Former VCU/Alabama coach Anthony Grant is the new coach at Dayton; he had been with the Oklahoma City Thunder as an assistant under Billy Donovan.

8) Quote of the Day, Part II: “Players, if anything, need a mental break sometimes. And sorry, they’re human. They go through so much every single day. There are so many obligations off the court that you don’t know about. … It might not be a physical break, it might just be a reset mentally, and I get that.”
Kevin Durant

This made me want to puke, seriously. The regular season is six months long, playoffs run another 6-7 weeks, for the really good teams. You mean to tell me you need a break from playing three games a week for six months a year, but not for physical reasons, but MENTAL ones?

Good God almighty.

7) The key word in all of that is “obligations”. I’d be curious to know what Durant considers his “obligations” to be, and what makes them so demanding that he needs to take games off.

6) Final Four drew 77,612 fans in the Cardinals’ domed stadium last night. They drew 39,380 in San Francisco for an A’s-Giants exhibition game Thursday night. Sports are popular.

5) If NCAA wanted to, they could have the entire March Madness in Las Vegas, with regional games in UNLV’s arena, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand and T-Mobile Arena. The Final Four could be in the Raiders’ new domed stadium, when it gets built.

4) New Mexico fired basketball coach Craig Neal, which was kind of expected after his point guard son Cullen bolted the Lobos for Ole Miss after last season.

3) Grant Hill is throwing out the first ball at the Diamondbacks’ season opener today. There are three games on the baseball schedule. AmericA’S team (the A’s) open on Monday night.

2) One thing about sitting in a Las Vegas casino and I’ll have a lot more on this tomorrow; this is a very diverse set of bettors here in Las Vegas. You meet all kinds of people, you bond over sports and food and you realize that we’re a lot more alike that some people want to admit.

1— Early line for Monday night’s game: UNC -2, total of 154 (getting bet up as we speak).

Baseball knowledge for April Fools’ Day………

13) Last time Washington Nationals won 90+ games in consecutive years, they weren’t the Nationals- they were the Montreal Expos and it was 1979-1980. Washington was 95-67 last year.

12) Last year was first time in four years Pittsburgh missed the playoffs; someone has to remind me why the Colorado Rockies fired Clint Hurdle- damn good manager.

11) Atlanta Braves started 9-29 last year, were 37-35 after the All-Star Game; they were 29th in runs scored, 30th (last) in home runs.

10) Braves went all of last season without a lefty pitcher starting a game; that will change quickly this year- they added Jaime Garcia from the Cardinals, who I think will be their #3 starter.

Last lefty pitcher to start a Braves game? Manny Banuelos, in September, 2015.

9) Mets finished 5th in home runs LY, but tied for 25th in runs scored- they were 23rd in on-base %age. New York stole 42 bases; their opponents stole 135 against them.

8) One way for the Tigers to move up in the standings? Do better against Cleveland. Detroit was 4-14 against the Tribe last year- they finished 86-75, eight games behind the Indians.

7) Phoenix Suns started a lineup Thursday night that was younger than most of the college teams that played in the Sweet 16 that night.

6) Giancarlo Stanton has played 123 or fewer games four of last five years; Marlins desperately need him to stay healthy- they were 13th in on-base %age last yer, but 27th in runs scored, and Stanton can produce runs in a hurry.

5) Phillies play in a small ballpark, a bandbox, a hitters’ paradise; how in the name of Mike Schmidt did they finish last in runs scored? Their pitchers were 26th in ERA.

4) Chicago Cubs started six guys age 25 or younger in postseason last year; they’ve added Wade Davis as their new closer. Who plays centerfield is probably their biggest ??? entering this season.

3) St Louis Cardinals were 74-45 LY when they hit a home run, 12-31 when they didn’t.

2) Cincinnati Reds used 52 players last year, 12 of whom were making their major league debuts. Five of those 12 were starting pitchers.

1— In nine years since Barry Bonds retired, Giants have used  one different left fielders on Opening Day- they’ve used 25 LF’s overall since then, who combined to knock in 585 runs, least by any team’s left fielders during that time.

Friday’s List of 13: Baseball knowledge on the last day of March……

13) Atlanta Braves open a new stadium this season, baseball’s first new stadium since Miami Marlins opened their ballpark in 2012.

12) Joey Votto’s career on-base percentage is an astoundingly-good .425.

11) Detroit Tigers had a $198M payroll last year, but went 87-75 and missed the playoffs. Now their beloved owner has passed away- will they downsize their payroll?

10) Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988 (we don’t talk about that one in my house) but they’ve been in playoffs ten times since then, going 23-37 in playoff games.

9) Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was once a catcher who played for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. Becoming a pitcher has worked out really well for him and the Dodgers.

8) Last time the Red Sox finished in first place in consecutive seasons: 1915-16. Really.

7) Orioles have a new pitching coach; Roger McDowell, who was Atlanta’s pitching coach the last eleven years. Can’t be lot of fun being a pitching coach for a team with a small stadium; your guys give up more home runs.

6) Speaking of which, Baltimore hit the most homers in the major leagues LY, but were only #12 in runs scored, #21 in on-base %age.

5) Indians skipper Terry Francona has had a winning record 12 years in a row, making playoffs seven times, winning World Series twice. Good to see an easy-going guy have great success.

4) Is batting average overrated? (Yes) Kansas City slipped from 95-67 to 81-81 LY- they were #7 in batting average, but #26 in on-base% and #23 in runs scored.

3) Texas Rangers had 49 come-from-behind wins LY, eight of which came when they trailed after the 8th inning. Ranger relievers had 41 wins LY, tied for the most ever.

2) This is crazy; Ryan Raburn has 352 RBI in his 11-year major league career. 82 of them have come against the White Sox. His next highest vs any team? 25 against the Royals and Rangers.

1— The Curse of Cespedes lives: A’s were 66-41 when they traded Yoenis Cespedes to Boston on July 31, 2014. Since that fateful day, Oakland is 159-220- they still made the playoffs in 2014, but have been awful the last two years. The costly Josh Donaldson trade didn’t help, either.

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

13) Tennessee Volunteers are only team that played all four teams in the Final Four this season; they were 0-5 against them, losing twice to South Carolina.

12) 1982 title game: North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62. UNC’s bench played a total of 13:00, Hoyas’ subs played total of 22:00. Maybe things have changed less than I think.

11) Was pricing some Air Jordan sneakers the other day, have never owned any. Damn, they’re expensive!!!! No thanks.

10) When a mid-major basketball school with limited resources wins a lot, it usually means they hire a lot of coaches, since the $$ schools poach their coaches. Take VCU, for instance…….

2002-06— Jeff Capel 79-41, 50-22 in CAA (went to Oklahoma)
2006-09— Anthony Grant 76-25, 45-9 in CAA (went to Alabama)
2009-15— Shaka Smart 163-56, 74-30 in CAA/A-14 (went to Texas)
2015-17— Will Wade 51-20, 28-8 in A-14 (went to LSU)
2017-present— Mike Rhoades (hired from Rice)

Keep in mind Capel/Grant both got fired and Smart is struggling at Texas. Maybe it is best to be the big fish in a smaller pond. And VCU does pay its coach well (Wade made $1.4M this season).

9) Detroit Red Wings will miss NHL playoffs this season for first time in 26 years.

8) Having instant replay stuff decided by NFL people in New York instead of by the ref on the field will be a good thing. Problem is, if there are ten games on at 1:00 and four of them have replay issues at the same time, which games take precedence?

7) UMass hired Matt McCall as its new basketball coach, after Pat Kelsey skipped out on them at the last minute last week. McCall is a former assistant for Billy Donovan at Florida; he went 48-18 in two seasons as the coach at Chattanooga.

6) Interesting article on espn.com this week, on how in the 90’s, Gonzaga University was in financial trouble; their undergraduate enrollment had dipped from 4,176 in 1990 to 2,791 in 1998.

Gonzaga’s basketball team started winning in ’99; in 2000, the freshman class was 900 kids and now, since 2004, seven new buildings have been built on campus, so the school that is located in eastern Washington (Spokane) is thriving, in part because of basketball’s success.

Undergraduate enrollment this year is 5,160.

5) Mets closer Jeurys Familia got a 15-game suspension for domestic violence issues.

4) Red Sox OF Mookie Betts has bowled seven perfect (300) games. Impressive.

3) Wyoming 81, Coastal Carolina 57— Last year, Nevada lost the opener of CBI final and then beat Morehead State twice in Reno to win tourney title. Same thing could be happening here; Cowboys made 12-31 on arc, while Coastal was 5-26 playing in high altitude. Final in Friday.

2) St Peter’s 77, Furman 51— Niko Medved is a coach who just jumped from Furman to Drake; he didn’t wait until the Paladins’ run in the CIT was over- he just bolted, so they played this game at St Peter’s with an interim coach. He couldn’t have waited a couple days? Coach Medved did his players a big disservice; in my opinion, he’s a creep.

For the record, Furman plays in the SoCon, the #13 league- they tied for first in and are #95 in country. Only two teams in the MVC, the #10 league, are ranked higher than Furman- Wichita State and Illinois State. Drake is the #258 team; not even sure why this guy changed jobs. Can the money be that much better?

To their credit, St Peter’s made 13-27 on the arc in this game; their reward is a trip to Corpus Christi for the tournament final Friday.

1— Corpus Christi 79, UMBC 61— Retrievers played without Jairus Lyles, were held to their lowest scoring output of season. Corpus Christi hosts the championship game against St Peter’s on Friday night— solid national TV exposure for these teams.

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

13) There is an NFL rule that prohibits NFL officials from visiting Las Vegas during football season. I’m not the smartest guy in America, but I think that rule needs to be deleted.

12) I’m having lunch at a bar Tuesday; guy there is working on his laptop at the bar, talking on the phone- he tells the caller he has to go, he has another call.

Guy puts his phone down, orders another daiquiri and resumes watching the Mets’ game on TV while munching on popcorn. Looked like he has a pretty good job.

11) Sacramento Kings won games by one point on consecutive nights this week, first time their franchise has done that since December 8-9, 1956, when they were the Rochester Royals.

10) In Kings’ win at Staples Center Sunday, they trailed by 18 points with 5:00 left; this was only second time in last 6,748 NBA games where a team was down 18 with 5:00 left and rallied to win the game.

9) Was very busy at Staples Center last weekend; Lakers played there Friday night, Clippers had a game Saturday afternoon, then the NHL’s Kings played there Saturday night. Clippers were back in action Sunday afternoon— busy weekend for the workers in the arena who change things around inside Staples Center, assembling and taking down the basketball floor.

8) Chargers sold out their season tickets at the 30,000-seat soccer stadium they’ll be playing at for the next two years, in Carson. Raiders have already sold out their season tickets for this year in Oakland and have a waiting list for season tickets. Wonder how they’ll draw in Las Vegas.

7) Georgetown fired John Thompson III last week; they’ve apparently already been rebuffed by Mike Brey, Shaka Smart and Ed Cooley, as they try and replace JTIII. I’m thinking the very large shadow of John Thompson II makes this a bad job- they should just hire Patrick Ewing, and see what he can do. At least Ewing would have Big John’s blessing.

6) Oklahoma City 92, Dallas 91— Thunder scored the last 13 points of Monday night’s win.

5) White Sox traded veteran journeyman OF Peter Bourjos to the Rays Tuesday for cash. Bourjos runs fast, is a good defender, but profiles as a 4th outfielder-type.

4) South Carolina is first Final Four team since Cincinnati in 1992 that hadn’t been in the NCAA tournament the previous 10+ years.

3) I’m not a morning person; doorbell rings Tuesday morning and it is Jehovah’s Witnesses- the women take one look at me, one of them hands me a pamphlet and they quickly take a hike. Not sure why people would go door-to-door on a Tuesday; most people have jobs, no?

2) Georgia Tech 76, Cal-Bakersfield 61— Roadrunners made long trip east and laid an egg, going 8-22 on arc after making 30-59 3-pointers in previous three games, all of which were true road games. Tech was +8 (7-15) in turnovers.

1— TCU 68, Central Florida 53— Fran Fraschilla actually asked Joe Lunardi on the air during this game if he would rather lose a play-in game or win the NIT? Seriously? If you make it into the field of 68, your season is judged a hell of a lot better than if you played in the NIT.

TCU vs Georgia Tech for NIT title Thursday; a 4-seed against a 6-seed. Two coaches in the first year at that school.

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

13) NFL approved Raiders’ move to Las Vegas Monday; they’ll start playing in the desert in 2019, after playing in Oakland this coming year- where they’ll play in 2018 is still unclear.

This is sad for people in Oakland- the Warriors are moving to San Francisco soon, the A’s are in limbo stadium-wise. Lot of history in that Oakland Coliseum, lot of winning, but these days, money means more than sentiment, which is too bad.

12) Prediction: Raiders’ new stadium will make UNLV’s athletic program a huge winner, with Rebels eventually moving up to a Power 5 league, maybe partnering with BYU as the western tier of the Big X Conference- they need two more teams so they can have a conference championship game.

11) Back in late November, South Carolina was 300-1 to win the national title; they were still 300-1 on March 9. Now they’re 15-2.

10) In John Calipari’s first seven years at Kentucky, 28 of 56 guys who played for him were drafted by the NBA.

9) I’m not fond of people posting pics on the Interweb of kids crying in the losing locker room, like was done from the Kentucky locker room Sunday. There should be some limit to what we see; there should be some semblance of privacy in the sanctity of the locker room. There is a media center for interviews with players/coaches; thats all the media contact that is needed.

8) Former major leaguer Joe Carter, who hit the walk-off homer for the Blue Jays as they won the 1993 World Series, was on TV at a spring training game Sunday. Carter has three sisters and three nieces who are all riders on the pro rodeo circuit- one of the sisters is 65 years old!!!

7) Next time they have this World Baseball Classic, I’d like to see the Cuban major leaguers play for Cuba’s team- would make the tournament a lot better. Not sure that is possible politically, but would be fun to see it happen.

6) Quinnipiac hired Villanova assistant coach Baker Dunleavy as its new hoop coach; he is Mike Dunleavy Sr’s son. Quinnipiac could’ve hired alumnus Jared Grasso, an assistant for MAAC rival Iona, but they didn’t- they used a search firm and the search firm chose Dunleavy.

My question is this: if you need a search firm to hire a coach, what the bleep do you need an athletic director for?

Other coaching news: Duquesne is set to hire Akron coach Keith Dambrot, who is best known for being Lebron James’ high school coach.

5) I’m going to be curious to see if Josh Reddick plays against lefties this season; in his 8-year career, Reddick is a .218 hitter vs lefties, with a .280 on-base percentage.

Back in 2014, I got so aggravated when the A’s pinch-hit for Reddick in the 4th inning of a big game because the Angels had put a lefty in. If he plays every day now, we’ll find out if he can be productive against southpaws.

Astros played the Mets last week; Mets’ TV analyst Ron Darling basically said that Houston overpaid for Reddick. Darling isn’t overly critical; it was a surprising thing to hear.

4) Kyle Larson won the NASCAR race at Fontana Sunday; his rental car (he wasn’t driving) was involved in a fender-bender as he was leaving the track Sunday night. No one was injured.

I’ve often wondered if NASCAR drivers struggle driving in regular traffic.

3) Cleveland Indians have a minor league catcher named Logan Ice. Tremendous name.

2) When Al Davis was alive, he was almost always the “1” in 31-1 NFL votes. Miami Dolphins were the one team that voted against the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.

1— Coastal Carolina 91, Wyoming 81— Game 1 of the best-of-3 CBI tournament. Series resumes with a game Wednesday in Laramie. Not an easy commute. This was a fast-paced game; with the next game in high altitude, that pace will be interesting.

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

13) South Carolina 77, Florida 70— Before last weekend, South Carolina’s last win in NCAA tournament was in 1973. They have some basketball tradition: Alex English, John Roche, Mike Dunleavy Sr played there, Frank Maguire coached there, but not a lot of winning.

Until this month. Now the Gamecocks are headed to the Final Four. Congrats.

12) Gamecocks are first team since VCU in 2011 to get to the Final Four without being favored in any of their first four tournament games.- VCU had to win a play-in game, so they weren’t favored in any of their first five tournament games. South Carolina was pick ‘em in their first round game with Marquette last weekend.

11) South Carolina coach Frank Martin was once both a high school teacher and a bouncer in a nightclub; imagine him getting mad at some drunk guy and tossing him out the door?

10) North Carolina 75, Kentucky 73— Mailk Monk scored 47 against Carolina in December, out in Las Vegas; he had 12 points here. This was a terrific ballgame that would’ve made a great national title game. Tough push if you had the Tar Heels -2.

9) What do you think of Chris Webber as a TV analyst? He talks more X’s and O’s than most analysts (good), he is passionate about the game (good) but he doesn’t seem to like anyone except players (not good).

Referees are competing to advance in the tournament too; I’m guessing Webber knows this, but doesn’t seem to care (not good). Coaches get fired if they lose; I mean, Bill Self is taking grief today- Webber definitely doesn’t seem to care about that (bad). I think he is mostly good; if only he would stop yelling when guys dunk— it is two points. Relax.

8) Odd coincidence that going into Saturday, Xavier/Gonzaga were tied with 27 tournament wins, most of any school that had never been in a Final Four. Now Xavier owns that unfortunate mark, with Boston College in second with 22 wins.

7) Not often the SEC wins more NCAA tournament games than bowl games. SEC is 8-4 in NCAA tournament games this year; they were 6-7 in bowl games.

6) I’m guessing the Mets have already been informed, but it hasn’t been made public how long Jeurys Familia’s suspension for domestic violence will be. He is their closer, so they would need to know to plan contingency plans.

5) Since 2006, Saints/Seahawks have drafted only two QB’s each, least in NFL.

4) This is the fifth year in a row a team seeded 7th or lower made the Final Four:
2016— Syracuse, a 10-seed lost to UNC in semi-finals
2015— Michigan State, a 7-seed, lost to Duke in semi-finals
2014— UConn, a 7-seed, beat Kentucky, an 8-seed, for the national title
2013— Wichita State, a 9-seed, lost to Louisville in semi-finals

3) This is only second time since 2009 that two or more 1-seeds made the Final Four— three of them made it in 2015, two made it this year.

2) Of the 18,797,085 brackets on ESPN.com‘s contest, only 657 had North Carolina, Oregon, Gonzaga and South Carolina in the Final Four.

1— Gonzaga is a 6.5-point favorite over South Carolina Saturday in Arizona. North Carolina is a 5-point favorite over Oregon in the nightcap.

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

13) Gonzaga 83, Xavier 59— Would be a fun night to be in Spokane, with Gonzaga making the Final Four for the first time. Clock struck midnight for Xavier, which went further than they should have, considering their point guard last played on January 29. Gonzaga made 12-24 on the arc, and when the favorite makes their 3’s, they often win big.

This is first time since 2002 a double digit seed made regional finals and didn’t cover the spread; they’re now 3-3 SU, 5-1 vs spread in last six tries.

12) Oregon 74, Kansas 60— Wherever Bill Walton watched this game, he had to be gushing; the Ducks were up 11 at the half- they made 11-25 on the arc, Kansas was 5-25. Jordan Bell blocked eight shots, was dominant inside. Jayhawks played only six guys (a 7th guy played 4:00)- this was the fewest points they scored in a game all season.

Must be fun to play for Oregon; tons of free sneakers when your #1 booster is Phil Knight.

11) It bothers me to type this because the guy is one of the best coaches ever, but Bill Self is now 2-7 in Elite 8 games; he’s been a #1-seed in the tournament seven times, and made the Final Four once in those seven years. He’s also won the Big X regular season 13 years in a row, which no other coach has ever done in any league, not even John Wooden.

When you don’t win the national championship there will always be naysayers, and Kansas has won “only” one national title under Self, but for the love of God, Kansas is lucky to have him.

10) Devin Booker scored 70 points Friday night in the Suns’ loss in Boston, their 7th loss in a row and first of the seven losses where they even covered the spread. They’re a very young NBA team that is obviously looking forward to the season ending.

After the game, the team took a pic in the locker room, celebrating Booker’s 70-point night, which is one of the best scoring nights in NBA history, but did all the players have to look so damn happy? Does winning/losing even matter? They’re all young, they’re all rich- I’m just wondering what veteran NBA people think about all that. The pic just didn’t look right. Winning and losing should always matter.

9) I’m curious when NBA scouts are watching a game like Kentucky-UCLA Friday night, and De’Aaron Fox scores 36, how much (if at all) does that one game move the needle as far as their opinion of that player, or the players they were playing against?

8) Indiana hired Dayton’s Archie Miller as its new basketball coach; looks like the AD is trying really hard to distance the Hoosiers from their past, if he didn’t hire Steve Alford, who is beloved in Indiana. Reality is that Alford isn’t as good a coach as Archie Miller.

7) Michael Porter Jr makes the expected move and signs with Missouri, because they hired his father as an assistant coach. My questions are these:

  1. When Michael Jr jumps to the NBA after next season, does Michael Sr get to keep his job?
  2. Why sign with Cuonzo Martin? He had an NBA player in Leon Rabb this year and didn’t make the NCAA’s; he had Rabb and Jaylen Brown last year and lost to Hawai’i in the first round- what makes you think he is the best guy to coach your son?

6) Rough couple of days on the Las Vegas Strip; some genius robbed a jewelry store at Bellagio last night; he actually parked in the parking garage and was nabbed. Then Saturday, there was a shooting on a bus. Get the nonsense out of your system— I’ll be out there soon!!!

5) Minnesota Timberwolves have lost nine games this year that they led by 15+ points, the most in the NBA this season.

4) Apparently TV networks are now in the race to sign Tony Romo, who if he keeps this up much longer might become a candidate for the 2020 Presidential race- everyone seems to want the guy, but not enough to trade a draft pick for him.

3) When ESPN broadcast a Gonzaga game this season, ESPN’s Jay Bilas told Gonzaga big man Przemek Karnowski that he would grow a beard if the Zags made the Final Four, so now he has to grow a beard. Hopefully during next season, not during the summer, when he isn’t on TV.

2) Foul or defend? When your team is up 3 in last 0:15 of a game, this is a genuine gray area of coaching. Some of the best coaches in the country differ on this- there is no right answer.

People say Florida messed up when they didn’t foul Wisconsin when they were up 3 Friday- the Badgers hit a 3-pointer, sent the game to OT, but Florida won, so how did they mess up? Not everyone believes fouling there is the correct play.

What if you foul, and they miss the free throw and get the rebound? It has happened. If you believe in fouling, it has to be practiced. I’ll be very curious to see what Florida does in these situations next season.

There used to be a guy on Twitter, Steve Finamore, a high school coach in Michigan, who tracked as many of these situations as he could. Reaction was mixed on what proper strategy is.

1— One of my favorite parts of Saturday’s regional finals? Mark Few and Dana Altman were the winning coaches; neither one of them played Division I college basketball. Playing and coaching are different things that require different skills. Non-players can be excellent coaches.

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

13) California and Oklahoma State both hired on the cheap with new basketball coaches, two guys I’ve never heard of who were mainly recruiters up until now. Maybe one or both will be the next John Wooden, but they’re both rookies who will be coaching in very deep water.

Cal hired Wyking Jones, who was on Cuonzo Martin’s staff; OSU hired Mike Boynton, who had been with Brad Underwood for the last four years— he played ball at South Carolina.

12) Duquesne fired its basketball coach after the season, but can’t find a replacement; guys keeping dropping out of the coaching search. Dukes haven’t been in NCAA’s since ’77; they’re in the Atlantic 14, a pretty good league. Not sure why they’re never good- maybe they need to commit a few more resources into trying to win.

11) Mirage Casino in Las Vegas offers “first team to 15 points” prop bet; that would be fun to research and see which coaches’ team got ahead the most early in games. Actually, would be fun to see the results; doing the research would be a major pain-in-the-butt. 🙂

10) Mets’ TV analyst Keith Hernandez is having a knee replaced on June 2, which means Mets’ fans get to listen to him whine about his knee for the first two months of the season. Hernandez is a good analyst when he isn’t bored, but if it is a bad game, he complains about traffic, weather, his health, etc…..

9) Was watching Tampa Bay Rays in a spring training game in Port Charlotte the other day; the dugouts there are HUGE, not long, just very large, from front-to-back.

8) 43 years ago Friday was my favorite college basketball game ever: NC State 80, UCLA 77 in double OT at the 1974 Final Four, a game that ended UCLA’s streak of seven national titles in a row.

I was 14, a big NC State fan— David Thompson-Tom Burleson-Monte Towe. Also Tim Stoddard, who later pitched for the Orioles in the ’79 World Series. Used to listen to their games on radio station WBT in Charlotte- they beat Maryland in OT in ACC title game, back when you had to be the league champ, just to get into the NCAA’s.

About 10-12 years ago, I met Monte Towe at an AAU tournament in Florida; he was an assistant for NC State then. Good guy. Too bad ESPN didn’t exist back then; people have very little idea how great a player David Thompson was.

7) Odd stat: Last two years, Louisville is 0-8 vs spread as a road underdog in ACC games.

6) Mets’ SS Asdrubel Cabrera got thrown out of a spring training game this week- he asked for time while batting, didn’t get it, jawed at umpire Angel Hernandez and got tossed. Don’t see that a lot.

5) Kansas Jayhawks are first team since UConn in ’05 that scored 90+ points in its first three NCAA tournament games.

4) North Carolina 92, Butler 80— Not much of a game; Butler just couldn’t stop them- they had beaten Winthrop/Middle Tennessee to get here, and didn’t handle the sep up in class very well.

3) South Carolina 70, Baylor 50— Complete ass-kicking. Baylor’s players looked intimidated by their opponents. I’m thinking Frank Martin’s family didn’t have the Gamecocks going this far in their brackets- they play in their first-ever regional final Sunday.

Last time a 7-seed or lower won a Sweet 16 game by 15+ points? Davidson in ’08- they had a pretty good guard named Steph Curry.

2) Kentucky 86, UCLA 75— Game stayed under the outrageous 183.5 total; Wildcats play more defense— now they play the Tar Heels Sunday.

Now Lonzo Ball is off to the NBA, soon to be followed by half the Kentucky team. Will Indiana hire Steve Alford? A season ends and then things change very quickly for these people.

My biggest thing will be if Steve Alford leaves UCLA, who the hell do they bring in to replace him? Not an easy job, having to deal with the #2 and #3 Ball brothers.

1—Florida 84, Wisconsin 83 OT— Gators led by 8 with 2:10 left, then didn’t foul on last possession when Wisconsin had ball down 3, so of course Badgers hit a 3-pointer with 0:02.5 left. CBS gets their late night drama- this would’ve been first tournament since 1970 with no OT games thru the Sweet 16.

Chris Chiozza hit a running 3-pointer to win the game; we’ll be seeing that on TV for the next 30 years. What a ballgame.

Early in game, CBS showed golfer Andy North sitting next to Aaron Rodgers at this game; North is a big Badger booster who I believe paid for the new basketball court in the Wisconsin arena a few years ago, but he went to college at Florida- golfers need warm weather. No mistake though, North always roots for the Badgers.

Wisconsin had won its last eight overtime games.

Three of the Elite 8 are SEC teams? Didn’t see that coming.

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a terrific Thursday……

13) Xavier 73, Arizona 71— Wildcats led by 8 with 3:45 left; going to be a long summer for Sean Miller, who is 220-66 at Arizona, 107-37 in conference games, but 13-6 in NCAA games, 0-3 in regional finals. Lot of winning, but no Final Fours. This year, he lost in the regional semis.

From Feb 11-March 1, Xavier lost six games in a row; they looked like a dead team without their injured PG Edmond Somner- their upset of Butler in the Big East tournament got them in this tournament- they at least would’ve had to play a play-in game otherwise. Great coaching job by Chris Mack; they switched to a more passive 2-3 zone and it has worked.

Musketeers are first 11-seed in a regional final since Dayton three years ago, a team coached by Archie Miller, Sean’s brother.

12) Oregon 69, Michigan 68— Wolverines were 11-31 on arc, 14-27 inside arc, forced only five Oregon turnovers in an exciting, tense game. Ducks get to Elite 8 despite not having their best shot blocker Boucher, who is out for the year.

When Oregon hired Dana Altman as coach seven years ago, he was like their 5th choice for the job. Guys they wanted to hire didn’t want to coach in Oregon. Sometimes not getting what you want is the best thing that can happen.

11) Gonzaga 61, West Virginia 58— WVU games are hard to ref; they’re physical as hell, and they miss a lot of shots, so there is a ton more bodily contact in their games than a normal game, and lot more calls to make/not make. Mountaineers were 5-23 on arc, 11-37 inside arc in this game; you don’t deserve to win shooting like that, but thought Gonzaga got the better of the whistle in this game.

How happy were the Zags when Arizona got beat? Xavier is on a roll, but reality is, they’re an 11-seed whose starting point guard is in street clothes. They’ll still be tough, but would you rather play a healthy Arizona team? I think not.

10) Kansas 98, Purdue 66— Purdue’s best player is a really good 6-9 kid, muscular, so of course they ran up and down with Kansas, going 10-27 on arc, 14-29 inside arc. Game was 47-40 at the half, too fast for the Boilers, who went in tank in last 10:00.

9) Then there was the day at UMass; Pat Kelsey signed a contract Tuesday to be the new coach of the Minutemen, but 30 minutes before a 4:00 press conference Thursday, with band/cheerleaders/fans waiting, Kelsey backed out of the deal and went back to Winthrop (we think).

Conspiracy theories abound: Kelsey went to college at Xavier; if Chris Mack leaves his alma mater for a new job, Xavier would probably want to hire Kelsey. Time will tell, but looks like Kelsey could be staying at Winthrop for a long time, unless Mack changes jobs.

8) Georgetown fired John Thompson III Thursday, after 13 years with the Hoyas; last two years, Georgetown was 12-24 in Big East games. Two years ago, Hoyas were 22-11, 12-6 in Big East- they lost to Utah in the second round of NCAA’s. Not good enough.

Former NFL commish Paul Tagliabue, a Georgetown alum, is heading the search committee. No idea where they turn for a coach, unless Hornets’ assistant Patrick Ewing is interested.

7) In the history of major league baseball, 866 players have worn #22, making it the most popular number. #80 is the lowest number that has never been worn in a big league game.

6) Detroit Tigers’ 2B Ian Kinsler’s dad has been a prison warden in Arizona for 25 years; doesn’t sound like a fun job.

5) Virginia Cavaliers lost 65-39 to Florida Saturday, ending a 23-11 season; in five days since then, three Cavaliers have transferred out of the program. Must be a good story there.

4) In his great playing career, John Stockton dished out 15,806 assists; 2nd-best on that list is Jason Kidd, with 12,091. Thats amazing- 3,715 more assists than anyone else who ever played the game. Stockton, by the way, played 19 seasons; he played every game in 17 of them.

3) Jeff Van Gundy said this on TV Wednesday night, working the Knicks-Jazz game: “Lot of (NBA) teams have shut it down for the season already.” It was March 22, four weeks before the regular season ends. Not a great commentary on the league.

2) If I had to choose my all-time starting five in NBA history, it would be: Kareem at center, Bill Russell at power forward, then Lebron James, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson on perimeter.

1— Quite a set of games Thursday; three great ones and Purdue’s tank job. Good entertainment. Hopefully tonight’s four games will be just as much fun. I’m definitely looking forward to the Kentucky-UCLA game.