Thursday’s List of 13: Things I’m thankful for……..

I’m a lucky person; lot of good things have happened for me over the years. Here are 13 things I’m grateful for on Thanksgiving Day……..

13) First things first; I’m lucky that I had parents who taught me right from wrong. Its a lot easier to get thru life when you are shown a roadmap on how to do things the right way. I haven’t always followed their roadmap, but I haven’t strayed too far from it, either.

12) Given the state of modern affairs, I’m thankful to whoever invented the mute button. There are so many mouthy, obnoxious people now; you see them, you hit the mute button and their voice goes away.

Younger people may not realize that there was a time when you had to get up and change the channel EVERY TIME you changed channels. Nowadays, our thumbs get a solid workout from working the remote control— I’m also thankful to whoever invented the remote.

11) To whoever invented the Internet, whether it was Al Gore or someone else, thank you!!! There is a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips now that wasn’t there when we were kids. Myself, I spend lot of time on Twitter- there is so much information there. Lot to learn.

10) I’m thankful to live in an area where I’m not too far from NYC, Boston, Philly, Montreal; an underrated thing is taking the train from Albany to Manhattan- what a beehive of activity Penn Station is. If you’ve never visited New York City, do it sometime— very busy place. Best time to visit, for me, would be from now until Christmas— its a lot friendlier around Christmas.

One thing about living in Albany that I’m not thankful for— snow. Hate snow.

9) Having the chance to travel has been a joy; when I was in college, took a trip to Sweden one summer- that was fun. There is so much to see in this country; the beaches in California and Florida, the Alamo in San Antonio and my personal favorite, any casino in Las Vegas.

8) I’m thankful to a man named John Connolly who was my high school principal who hooked me up to be a student manager for our high school basketball team— that started me on a path where I did the same thing in college, going basically for free.

Being manager of a basketball team isn’t glamorous, it wasn’t good for your social standing, but it was great fun and educational—you learned how an organization works from the inside, how it takes doing the little things to make the big things happen.

7) Thank you to whoever invented the cellphone— there was a TV show in the 60’s called Get Smart where special agent Maxwell Smart had a phone in his shoe. Mel Brooks wrote the show and it was genuinely comic genius, really coming up with the cellphone before it existed.

I can remember going to Saratoga racetrack and there were no phones- you were completely off the grid while you were there. Nowadays, probably 90% of people there have phones in their pockets. There weren’t even payphones at the track- they were banned.

6) I’m thankful to my teachers in grade school who taught me that reading/writing/math were all important things. I have no idea what kids learn in school now, but I once got a $10,000 raise at work, all because I could do math in my head without a pen or calculator— seriously.

Then there was Sister Catherine Greene, one of my teachers in 7th grade. I wasn’t paying any attention in a religion class one day and she knew that, so she calls on me, asking “Who is your favorite saint?” I was a quiet kid and it was embarrassing that I had no idea what she had been talking about- she was talking about religion, I had been daydreaming about football.

Now this is maybe 1972 or so, and I’m 12 or 13 and I wasn’t trying to be a wiseass, but I also was not paying attention, so when she asked who my favorite saint was, I just looked her and said:

“Archie Manning”

Sister Catherine was not amused; my classmates were.

5) I’m thankful that someone invented fantasy sports; since free agency doomed the A’s to being a second-tier franchise, being in a fantasy league has kept baseball season consistently fun.

Quick story about being an A’s fan— this was in 1978, I’m lying in bed late at night listening to an A’s-Red Sox game on the radio. When I was a kid, listening to baseball games on the radio was a big thing.

A’s send a pinch-hitter up to the plate, but the guy had just been called up from AAA and didn’t have his name on his jersey. Red Sox announcers had no clue who the guy was and because the low-budget A’s had very little front office help, no one in the press box did, either.

Turns out the guy’s name was Mark Budaska, who wound up playing in only 13 big league games. Nowadays, stuff like that would never, ever happen.

4) In the late 80’s, I found myself writing a daily picks column in the Albany Times-Union; did it for four years,- it was a much smaller version of what we do here every day. Picked games most every day all year round and I had to sink or swim, because it was out there for everyone to see, and I took a good share of grief during the inevitable slumps.

3) I’m very lucky that I wound up as an assistant coach at Schenectady High School in the mid-90’s; my eight years there were filled with fun and laughter, and I made good friends there.

What a learning experience; a suburban guy finds himself coaching at an inner -city high school, where the basketball team was horrible the first year, but four years later, we were state champs. I learned so much about dealing with people and how to get things done.

2) I’m very thankful to all my friends who’ve made my life a lot more fun. We all get caught up in our own lives and don’t stay in contact as much as I’d like to, but we’ve shared experiences that have made life a lot more enjoyable.

1) We’re all very lucky to live in this country, despite the hijinx of the past couple years. Few years from now, we’ll emerge from this mess a stronger/healthier country.

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

Occasionally I take some grief from readers for not picking enough college basketball games on this site, but to me, this time of year has almost become like spring training in baseball; there is no way to gauge teams anymore without seeing them a play a little bit first. Have to study before you begin taking tests…….

Cal has a whole new team? There were up 18 on Wichita State, when they were a 19-point dog. Stuff happens this month that makes no sense, but I’m doing my best to sit here and make some sense of it, so when the picks do start showing up, they’re successful.

13) UNLV was 47-51 the last three years, but they’re 4-0 this season, with 15 points their closest win. Rebels haven’t been in NCAA’s since 2013- they play Utah tonight at T-Mobile Arena, a big game in Las Vegas, a big step up in class for the Rebels. Interesting game.

12) Missouri Valley Conference lost Creighton/Wichita State the last few years, and it has hurt them nationally. Right now, four teams are tightly bunched as the top-rated team in the Valley, but they’re all ranked between 92nd and 105th nationally.

Looks like a one-bid league, which will make their conference tournament— Arch Madness, the most important weekend of the season.

11) Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas are 3-0 this season, against teams ranked 324-280-332. Hoyas have eight games left before Big East play starts- they host Richmond Saturday, play Syracuse Dec 16, but their other six pre-conference games are all against teams outside the top 300 in the country. Very, very soft pre-conference schedule for Georgetown.

10) Best 3-point shooting teams so far this young season:
Providence 54.4%, Tex-Arlington 51.1%, Arizona 50.9%, Portland 50%

9) Sun Belt Conference is on the rise; currently ranked as the #13 league, Sun Belt hasn’t finished a season this high since 2003, when they were ranked #11 in America. Lot of good teams, lot of really good athletes.

8) Siena lost 115-92 to 0-4 Bucknell Monday; Siena fans aren’t happy about this, but a closer look at Bucknell’s schedule explains some stuff:

Bucknell has played the #26 schedule in the country- they lost 93-81 at North Carolina, 80-78 at Maryland- they can play, and will be a big favorite to win the Patriot League this season. Bison are also the #64 team in America in terms of experience.

7) Similarly, Vermont lost 73-69 at Kentucky, an impressive loss for an America East team. two of Catamounts’ three wins are against teams in top 125, both on a neutral floor. Vermont, Albany figure to battle it out for the America East championship.

6) Wake Forest/Pitt figure to trail the field in the ACC— Deacons are 1-4, with losses to Liberty and Drake. Pittsburgh is 1-4 with losses to Navy/Montana.

5) VCU has two players who were there when Shaka Smart was coach of the Rams three years ago; they’re on their third coach in four years, after Will Wade bolted to LSU last spring.

Has to be a little awkward in Maui this week, with VCU/LSU both there, and Wade coaching the Tigers now. VCU’s kids helped Wade get a pretty steep pay increase.

4) Nation’s most inexperienced teams, of leagues that we follow:
Kentucky-Duke-Alabama-VMI-Bowling Green.

3) Nation’s most experienced teams, of leagues that we follow:
Tex-Arlington, Drake, Tennessee Tech, Idaho, Missouri State

2) DePaul is in Chicago, where there are a ton of really good high school players, but the Blue Demons haven’t been able to cash in on their location.

Over last ten years, DePaul is 27-153 in conference games. 27, and. 153. Not good. Prognosis for this season isn’t a whole lot better, but the Blue Demons have a new arena, which hopefully can help persuade some local kids stay at home for college.

1) Texas A&M and Florida figure to challenge Kentucky at the top of the SEC; Aggies play Kentucky Jan 9, Feb 10- they play Florida Jan 2. The two Kentucky-Florida games are Jan 20 and March 3rd. If you took the school’s names off the uniforms, A&M seems like the best team, as of right now.

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

13) Denver Broncos fired OC Mike McCoy Monday; no idea what happened behind closed doors, but it ain’t McCoy’s fault the Denver GM stocked the Broncos’ roster with lousy QB’s. Of course, the GM is John Elway, who fired McCoy.

12) I have this college basketball debate with myself, every now and then, comparing different head coaching jobs, as to which one is the better job to have.

Will Wade left VCU for LSU; now I’m 99% sure the $$$ is way better at LSU, but VCU’s coach still makes serious money, and VCU doesn’t have football, so basketball is king on their campus. Rams have sold out 100 straight home games, and they play in a league that gets multiple bids to the NCAA tournament.

Football will always be king at LSU; they’ve been in NCAAs in basketball twice in the last 11 years. Shaquille O’Neal, Pete Maravich and Ben Simmons played there, but despite those great players, LSU hasn’t won a whole lot at the national level.

If a friend of mine was a coach and was at VCU, think I’d tell him that it is better to be a big fish in smaller pond than the other way around.

11) Best way to know which players a basketball coach trusts the most: the five guys who are on the floor in the last 2:00 of close games. Much more telling than who starts.

10) Pac-12 North champ is 6-0 vs the Pac-12 South champ in the Pac-12 football title game.

9) Interesting conversation on a college football TV game the other night about the differences in high school football between Florida and Texas.

In Texas, coaches start coaching kids up in 6th or 7th grade, preparing them for the roles they’ll play for that high school— it is much more structured.

In Florida, there are much better athletes for the most part, with lot less coaching until they get to the high school level, or so these TV guys were emphatically claiming.

8) South Florida has 106 kids on its football team; 97 of them are from Florida, three are from Georgia. Six other kids are from six other states.

7) Robert Covington of the 76ers just signed a $62M contract; when he was a high school senior, he had only two scholarships offers, and went to obscure Tennessee State. He kept working hard on his game, had some good coaching along the way, and now is a very wealthy person.

Thats what can happen when you work hard and get some breaks along the way.

6) You know those Peloton commercials that are on all the time, the exercise bike commercials? What exactly is their advertising budget? How many bikes do they have to sell to break even?

5) Alex Rodriguez was the guest analyst on ESPN’s college football GameDay ten days ago, from the Notre Dame-Miami game; he went 12-0 with his picks.

4) Kid named Rashaad Penny is a running back for San Diego State; he had 429 total yards the other night against Nevada, scoring TD’s on both a punt return and a kick return. Quite a game for the young man, whose grandmother passed away earlier that morning.

3) They imploded the Georgia Dome Monday, the stadium that Falcons used to play in, but more importantly, the stadium where the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV. No bueno.

Weather Channel set up a remote camera to broadcast the implosion, across the street from the site, but at the exact moment when the implosion was going to happen, a city bus stopped at a red light and blocked the camera’s view.

All you could see was the top of the bus and all you could hear was the camera guy cursing; the bus then pulled away, but the stadium had already been imploded.

2) In their first seven games, Buffalo Bills were 5-2 with a +14 turnover ratio; in their last three games, all losses, they’re -9 in turnovers, and lost field position by 13-18-22 yards.

1) In their last five games, Cincinnati Bengals ran a total of 244 plays; their opponents have run a total of 381 plays- thats 27 plays a game less than their opponents. Hard to win that way, but the Bengals did win two of those five games.

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

Saints 34, Redskins 31 OT— Washington led 31-16 with 3:10 left to play, but then gave up two TD’s in 1:48, and screwed up a chance to win game at the end of regulation, getting intentional grounding called on them when they were in Saints territory.

Saints have now won eight games in a row (6-2 vs spread); Redskins were first team since Week 2 to pass for more than 5.0 yds/pass attempt against them (8.2). New Orleans has run ball for 150+ yards in five of their last six games. Over is 5-1 in Washington’s last six games.

Vikings 24, Rams 7— Rams scored on their first drive of the game, never scored again; they lost a fumble on 1-yard line when game was 7-7 in 2nd quarter- they’ve done that in two of their three losses. LA is -6 in turnovers in their three losses, +12 in their wins.

Minnesota has won six games in row, covered last five; they were held to 9-7 points in their two losses. Vikings only went 3/out once in this game, which helped their field position.

Giants 12, Chiefs 9 OT— KC has now lost four of its last five games after a 5-0 start, this one in dismal fashion- they didn’t score a TD against a Giant team that had given up 13 TD’s on its opponents’ last 32 drives. 6-4 Chiefs are still in first place in AFC West, but only because their division stinks this year.

Alex Smith threw three INTs, which led to Giants having an 8-yard advantage in field position; there will now be murmurs about Patrick Mahomes taking over at QB next year, when Smith is a free agent— the rumor mill thinks Kansas City will let Smith walk.

Texans 31, Cardinals 21— Houston’s 2nd-string QB beats Arizona’s 3rd-string QB; Cardinals scored three TD’s, but on drives of 17-15-51 yards, all set up by the Arizona defense. Redbirds lost despite a 13-yard edge in field position, which doesn’t happen much- they’re 1-6 when they allow more than 15 points.

Jaguars 19, Browns 7— Three NFL teams turned ball over five times Sunday; all of them played at home, including the God-awful Browns, who are now 0-10, 2-8 vs spread.

If you were optimistic (dumb) enough to bet on the Browns in this game, you were on the wrong side of the Bad Beat of the Week. Jaguars were sleep-walking their way to a 13-7 win— Cleveland had the ball on its own 20 with 1:24 left, but Kizer was sacked/fumbled and Jacksonville covered the 8-point spread on a defensive TD with 1:14 left.

Jacksonville has won four games in a row and is in first place in the AFC South.

Lions 27, Bears 24— Prater kicked a 52-yard FG with 1:35 left as Detroit won its third game in a row, scoring 31.7 ppg in those games; they’re 3-1 on the road. Having a kicker who makes long FG’s outdoors in November is a huge plus. Lions are 8-1 in their last nine games with Chicago, which had ball up 10-0 in 2nd quarter, before Detroit scored a defensive TD on a fumble return that helped turn the tide in their favor. Bears lost their last three games, are now 3-7.

7) UCLA fired football coach Jim Mora Jr on his birthday Sunday, which was the bad news. Good news for Mora? He gets an $11M severance package. Birthday cake is on him!!!!

Rumor mill has UCLA going heavy after former Eagles/Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

Buccaneers 30, Dolphins 20— Miami is awful; they turned ball over five times, were called for 17 (accepted) penalties for 133 yards- they threw an INT on three of their first four drives.

Down 20-7, Dolphins battled back to tie game 20-all, before Bucs won it on a FG with 0:04 left; Tampa Bay had an 11-yard edge in field position- their two TD drives were only 5-37 yards, as Miami’s turnovers were their undoing. Dolphins have now lost four games in a row.

Ravens 23, Packers 0— You know it could be a long day for a team when a score graphic comes on at 1:25 and that team’s QB already has two INT’s. Baltimore had a ridiculous 27-yard edge in field position in this game- five of their 13 drives started in Green Bay territory.

Packers have lost four of their last five games; Ravens are 13-3 in last 16 post-bye games. Four of Baltimore’s five wins have come against backup QB’s, Andy Dalton being the exception.

Chargers 54, Bills 24— Buffalo benched QB Tyrod Taylor despite a 5-4 record and started rookie Nathan Peterman in this game, who then threw four INT’s on his first nine passes, as Chargers jogged to a ridiculously easy win.

Bills have lost three games in a row; coach McDermott has to be careful he doesn’t lose his locker room, putting in an incompetent rookie QB when Buffalo was 5-4 and in possession of the last playoff spot. Taylor played the second half of this game, figures to start going forward.

Patriots 33, Raiders 8— New England won its last six games (5-1 vs spread); they outscored last four opponents 76-16 in first half. Oakland lost six of its last eight games, as AFC West suffers thru one of its worst seasons ever. Raiders have only two takeaways (-11) in their last seven games- they allowed 121 points in their last four games.

In college basketball Sunday, Ohio U beat Indiana State 96-94 in four OT’s; must’ve been a fun game to watch.

Bengals 20, Broncos 17— Denver lost its last six games (0-6 vs spread), thanks to a -14 turnover ratio in those games; they lost last three home games. Cincy ends a 10-game losing streak in the Mile High City, but in their last three games, Bengals have run 140 plays, their opponents 241- the Cincinnati offense needs to give the defense a break now and then.

Cincinnati had a 100-yard INT return in this game that wasn’t a TD— the guy dropped the ball while he was running and fell on it, on the 1-yard line.

I’m guessing its not a lot of fun being around John Elway these days.

Eagles 37, Cowboys 9— Dallas led this game 9-7 at the half; in second half, Eagles had ball four times before they ran clock out the last time they had ball- Philly ran 29 plays for 271 yards three TD’s, just in the second half. Eagles have a three-game lead in NFC East with six weeks left to play.

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

13) Texas 28, West Virginia 14— We talked earlier this week about players stretching the ball towards the goal line, trying to score a TD, but then getting hit and fumbling. West Virginia QB Grier did this when game was 0-0, fumbled for a touchback, and also broke the middle finger on his throwing hand, ending his day and likely his season. Not good.

In the ESPN studios later on, Booger MacFarland showed his hand to the camera; MacFarland played defensive line for LSU and then for nine years in the NFL. The pinky on one hand points almost straight out to the right; the middle finger on that hand looks like a dogleg left on a golf course. Apparently he didn’t ice his hand after it was splinted and it didn’t heal properly.

12) Purdue 24, Iowa 15— Hawkeyes scored TD with 1:04 left to cut lead to 24-15; instead of kicking PAT to get within one score, they went for 2 points and failed, ending the game. Unsure why they did that— just kick the PAT and put more pressure on Purdue to close the game out.

As for Purdue, they’re 5-6, making the Old Oaken Bucket game next week against rival Indiana for a bowl bid.

11) Miami 44, Virginia 28— Cavaliers led 14-0 early, 21-14 at half, 28-14 early in third quarter, then Miami stormed back and won going away. Virginia gained 439 yards but turned ball over three times and had a failed onside kick when they led 14-0.

10) Upsets of the Week:
Kansas State (+20) 45, Oklahoma State 40
Akron (+14.5) 37, Ohio U 34
Tulane (+9) 20, Houston 17
Purdue (+7) 24, Iowa 15
Coastal Carolina (+7) 13, Idaho 7
Duke (+6.5) 43, Georgia Tech 20

9) Alabama 56, Mercer 0
Clemson 61, Mercer 3
Florida State 77, Delaware State 6

To paraphrase Nancy Kerrigan, why? why? why? These games cheat the fans out of watching a competitive contest. Go play a Sun Belt team like Auburn did, or a MAC or C-USA team. Don’t play I-AA teams, its ridiculous.

8) Kansas State 45, Oklahoma State 40— 20-point underdog Kansas State led 42-13 late in 3rd quarter, but they wound up with their 4th-string QB in game in last 4:00, trying to preserve a 45-40 lead- they ran the Wildcat, went 3/out., but the defense preserved the win, making Bill Snyder’s team bowl eligible for the 8th year in a row.

K-State WR Byron Pringle caught four passes for 166 yards and three TD’s; he also ran a kickoff back 89 yards for a touchdown. Pretty good day.

7) LSU 30, Tennessee 10- Next year Vols will have their 7th head coach since Nick Saban has been at Alabama. LSU has had five coaches since Saban has been in Tuscaloosa.

6) Penn State 56, Nebraska 44— Cornhuskers allowed 50+ points in consecutive games for first time since 1945. I’m guessing Nebraska’s next coach will have from defensive side of the ball.

5) Texas A&M 31, Ole Miss 24- Shane Tripucka is A&M’s punter; his uncle is Kelly Tripucka, who played in the NBA for 10 years, scoring 12,142 points (17.2 pts/game).

4) Michigan State 17, Maryland 7— On a snowy day in East Lansing, the WINNING quarterback completed 2-14 passes for 20 yards. For the whole game. And they won.

3) Warriors 124, 76ers 116— Philly led this game 47-28 after the first quarter, led by 22 at the half, then Golden State went off in third quarter, outscoring the 76ers 47-15. Last time Sixers scored 47+ points in the first quarter of a game? March of 1990. They won that day.

2) USC 28, UCLA 23— Was surprised to hear Kirk Herbstreit say that he wouldn’t be surprised if QB Sam Darnold goes back to USC next season. Only a cynic would translate that as meaning: “I don’t want to play for Cleveland”

Herbstreit later said that right now, Rosen is clearly ahead of Darnold as an NFL prospect. Very unusual to hear that kind of candid analysis. Agree or disagree, but we need more of that.

1) Wake Forest 30, NC State 24— Freshman WR for NC State had ball on one-yard line with 2:00 left, tried to lunge forward to get the ball over the goal line……and fumbled. No bueno.

Maybe it is what Phil Jackson calls “heightened awareness”, I notice it more because it bugs me so much, but it does seem like lot of ballcarriers are fumbling near the goal line.

NC State was 14-23 on 3rd down in this game; pretty sure I’ve never seen a team convert 14 third down plays for first downs in one game. Wolfpack ran 94 plays, Wake Forest ran 56, but the Deacons won. Go figure.

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

13) Saints won their last seven games after an 0-2 start, only second time that has happened in the NFL (’93 Cowboys). Washington comes calling to the Superdome Sunday; they’ve won four of last five games against New Orleans.

12) USC hasn’t had a week off this season, but they’ll have one next week, before the Pac-12 title game. Trojans beat UCLA 36-14/40-21 the last two years, figure to make it three in a row here.

11) Huge trap game for the 6-3 Jaguars, who head to Cleveland after one of the Jaguars picked the Browns to finish 0-16 this season. Cleveland has couple of offensive linemen banged up, are unsure if they’ll play. Browns are not only 0-9, they’re 2-7 against the spread this year.

10) Wake Forest allowed 1,321 yards the last two weeks, but they outscored Syracuse 40-5 in the second half LW, and now the Demon Deacons are bowl eligible. Wake plays NC State this week; they’ve lost three in a row to the WolfPack, allowing 36.7 ppg.

9) Buccaneers-Dolphins play their re-scheduled game from Week 1; Tampa Bay is on the road for the next three weeks; they scored total of 28 points in their last three games. Dolphins are on a short week after their dismal performance in Charlotte.

8) Arizona ran the ball for 310+ yards in five of their last six games; they’re 3-1 on road, scoring 47 ppg. 7-3 Wildcats are playing Oregon Saturday for the first time since 2014.

7) How will Seattle’s defense be with Richard Sherman out for the season? 5-4 Falcons lost four of last six games (1-5 vs spread); they’re on road for fourth time in last five weeks.

6) Miami Hurricanes have been getting slapped on back all week after whacking Notre Dame last week; now they’re a 19-point favorite over a Virginia team that lost three of its last four games, with all three losses by 17+ points. Hurricanes beat Virginia 27-21/34-14 the last two years.

5) Eagles-Cowboys on Sunday Night Football should be interesting. Key point for me is how the Cowboys protect QB Prescott, who was sacked eight times in Atlanta? Philly had last week off; they went south after their bye last year, but that was in Week 4 after a 3-0 start.

4) Wisconsin is unbeaten; their basketball team lost before the football team. Badgers covered four of last five games with Michigan, are already in Big 14 title game. Underdogs are 7-3 vs spread in last 10 Michigan-Wisconsin games; Wolverines lost last three visits to Madison.

3) The Nathan Peterman era begins for the Bills in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium in Carson, CA, home of the Chargers. Buffalo doesn’t think Tyrod Taylor goes thru his progressions quickly enough, so Peterman gets the nod, a year to the day after Jared Goff made his NFL debut in the Coliseum for the Rams.

2) Florida Atlantic scored 47.5 ppg in winning its last six games; underdogs are 7-1 vs spread in last eight FAU-FIU games. Is Lane Kiffin headed to another big time job? This is a rivalry game, with both teams having first-year coaches.

1) Rams-Vikings pits pair of 7-2 teams against each other in a nice warm dome in Minneapolis. Wish the Vikings had a dome back in the 70’s, when the Rams use to regularly lose playoff games in the frozen climate of the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

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

13) UCLA is on the hook for a lot of money, regarding the housing/feeding for a week of the three nitwits who stole stuff in China- they also have to check with the NCAA to make sure that paying for all of that won’t be a violation of NCAA rules, as far as the special benefits rules are concerned.

Next year’s China game is Yale vs Cal; you think those kids will get sick of hearing lectures about how they represent their families, school and country while overseas?

12) If it was my choice, I’d cap Roger Goodell’s salary at $32M a year, $1M from each team. If he can’t live on that and buy health insurance for his family, then go find another bleeping job.

11) Joel Embiid went off Wednesday night— 46 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 7 blocked shots. Quite a performance; 76ers are fun to watch on the NBA League Pass.

10) Speaking of the 76ers, Robert Covington got a 4-year, $62M extension this week; not bad for a guy who playing in the D-League four years ago.

9) Mets said they may restrict most of their starting pitchers to two trips thru the lineup next year, the exceptions being deGrom/Syndegaard.

Two times thru the order is obviously 18 hitters; average pitches per at bat is around 3.9, we’ll round up to 4.0, so that is only 72 pitches per start for starting pitchers 3-5, which is going to put a huge amount of stress on bullpens. Will be an interesting experiment, if they try it.

8) Roy Williams is the first college basketball coach to win 400+ games at two different schools, Kansas and North Carolina.

7) Charleston junior F Jarrell Brantley is out 4-6 weeks wth a knee injury, bad mews for a Cougar squad that was picked to win the CAA this year. Brantley was a first-team CAA pick, so this is a big deal for them……….Rhode Island loses EC Matthews for 4-6 weeks with a broken wrist. This poor guy missed the whole season two years ago with an injury, too.

6) Arkansas fired AD Jeff Long, meaning that football coach Bret Bielema is just about out the door. Boosters want to go after Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, but why would Malzahn leave a better job in the same league?

5) Titans’ tackle Taylor Lewan, on Tennessee’s powder blue uniforms for Thursday’s game:

“When you look at us, it’s pretty self-explanatory – we look like Smurfs. But the Smurf look is solid. I don’t mind it. I think it is a pretty rad deal. Hey, it’s fun to switch it up every once in a while and have those funky uniforms. I think it’s pretty cool, I really do. I think you’ll find some guys love them, and other guys hate them. Personally, I don’t really care too much about what I am wearing during the game, but I do think it’s fun.”

4) Every time I see Grayson Allen play for Duke, I think he is somehow related to Ted Cruz, the guy who ran for President last year. They could easily be father/son, they look that much alike.

3) Celtics 92, Warriors 88- Boston is 14-0 since an 0-2 start, despite Gordon Hayward blowing his ankle out 5:00 into the season. NBA season is a marathon, but this is a remarkable streak Celtics are on, seeing how Kyrie Irving was also hurt during part of the streak.

2) Steelers 40, Titans 17— Mariota threw four INT’s, Steelers had five sacks, outscoring Titans 17-0 in 4th quarter. 19 of Pittsburgh’s 25 first downs came thru the air.

1) So Kevin Durant is upset because the Oklahoma City Thunder gave his old #35 jersey to undrafted rookie P.J. Dozier last month. Let him explain:

“I didn’t have that perspective at first. I didn’t have it when I went back to OKC. I was like, ‘F— all of them. I didn’t have it when they gave my number away. I was, ‘F— all of them.’ My best friend works for the team, I told him, ‘F— all y’all. That’s f—ed up.’ Then I had to get out of my head, tell myself, ‘It’s not that serious, it is what it is.’

“I understand it’s not my number anymore, they can do whatever they want with it, but you hand that number to a two-way player, you’ve got to be, like, ‘Nah, we’ve got too many good memories with this number, man.’ But at some point, that thing’s going to be in the rafters anyway; it’s all good. I did something they didn’t like. They did something I didn’t like. S— happens.”

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

13) UCLA had a news conference Wednesday, with the three geniuses who got caught stealing stuff from Chinese stores last week. Public relations spins at their finest. Kids read statements that were written for them, they were contrite, and it all went well enough.

How long is “indefinite”? When Duke really needed Grayson Allen a couple of years ago, his “indefinite suspension” was one whole game. One of these kids was expected to start, another to be a key guy off the bench. That shouldn’t matter, but fact of the matter is, it probably will.

I’m guessing the three players will be back Dec 19, when the Bruins host South Dakota. UCLA plays Kentucky on Dec 23, then Pac-12 plays the week after that. I’m guessing they’ll want all this BS behind them before conference plays begins.

12) Weasel agent Scott Boras was whining this week because teams like the Mets, Marlins plan on reducing payroll his winter. it does suck for the sport, but it sucks worse for an agent, who rakes in 3% of his client’s salary. Curious to see who Boras suckers into signing Eric Hosmer, the overpriced free agent 1B from Kansas City.

Also curious to see how many of the Marlins’ stars get traded this winter.

11) A’s traded 1B/3B Ryon Healy to the Mariners for a minor league SS and a rookie reliever; Healy figures to play 1B in Seattle. Emergence of Matt Olson in Oakland made Healy expendable.

10) Buffalo Bills will start rookie QB Nathan Peterman Sunday in Carson against the Chargers. Reading on the Interweb, Bills weren’t thrilled with how slowly previous starter Tyrod Taylor was going thru his progressions, causing him to miss some open receivers.

9) Only fifteen major league pitchers threw 200+ innings this past year; as recently as five years ago, 31 pitchers threw 200+ innings.

8) They broke ground on the Raiders’ new stadium in Las Vegas this week, a stadium that will house the Raiders and UNLV football. I’m saying UNLV moves up to the Big X once they get their fancy new domed stadium, probably with BYU joining them.

7) Davidson Wildcats are 39-86 outside the arc in their first two games; they were an astounding 26-53 on 3-pointers in their opener vs Charleston Southern. Wildcats scored 110-108 points in their first two games; curious to see if they keep playing this fast as their competition improves, and then when conference play starts.

6) In the NFL, forcing an opponent to go 3/out improves your field position and keeps other team’s defense on field longer- here are teams who’ve forced highest %age of 3/outs:
Steelers 38.3%, Cardinals 37.5%, Saints 37.4%, Seahawks 37.1%,

Teams who have forced the lowest %age of 3/outs:
Packers 21.8%, Giants 23.2%, Patriots/Chiefs 24.4%

5) Likewise, avoiding 3/outs on offense takes stress off your defense, improves field position:
Teams with lowest %age of 3/outs:
Steelers 21.3%, Patriots 21.7%, Saints 23.0%, Rams 23.5%

Teams who’ve gone 3/out the most this season:
Colts 41.6%, Titans 39.8%, Raiders 35.9%, Jets 35.7%

4) Seton Hall 84, Indiana 68— Pirates shot 59% inside arc, 9-17 outside arc. Indiana is off to a rough start, also losing to Indiana State at home.

3) Maryland 79, Butler 65— Bulldogs are on their 4th head coach in six seasons, which is weird for a Big East team that usually does well- they’re 38-34 in Big East conference games.

2) Creighton 92, Northwestern 88— If you like good defense, you would’ve switched channels to a different game, but this was entertaining. Bluejays push ball very well. Wildcats’ bench was 0-6 from floor in this game, a red flag.

1) I flip back and forth between college/NBA games a lot and the difference in skill level is drastic; you watch NBA Summer League games in July and you see guys who were really good college players who wind up playing in Europe or the G-League. It is tough to make an NBA roster.

Too many kids leave college for the pros too soon— work on your games, so when you leave for the NBA, you’re ready.

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

13) Carolina Panthers are on their bye week; injured TE Greg Olsen is going to Minnesota on Sunday to work the Rams-Vikings game on FOX TV. The Vikings aren’t happy about it.

Carolina plays Minnesota in three weeks; Olsen is likely to be playing by then. FOX has said Olsen won’t be in production meetings or meet with the coaches during the week, but he will be in the booth with Kevin Burkhardt-Charles Davis Sunday.

I’m not sure what to think of this; I’d have a bigger problem about a production meeting with Jon Gruden if my team had a Monday night game with Washington, seeing how his brother coaches the Redskins, but no one seems to have an issue with that.

12) The three nitwits from UCLA’s basketball team who got caught stealing from stores in China were sent home Tuesday. Next step is up to UCLA’s administration; how long do these geniuses get suspended for? They embarrassed their families, the school, our country; they’re lucky they aren’t stuck in a Chinese jail for a year to two- it could’ve happened.

11) Duke-Michigan State game Tuesday; five freshman starters, four sophomore starters. Part of why November games are a handicapping minefield- so many players/teams you just don’t know a lot about.

10) Duke’s freshman Marvin Bagley got poked in his eye by a teammate in the first half Tuesday and sat out the rest of the game. I’m thinking the next time we see Bagley play, he’ll be wearing goggles.

9) Kid named Geno Crandall from North Dakota scored 41 points in a game vs Troy over the weekend; he only had four points at halftime— he scored 37 in the second half!!!

8) Bad news for Central Florida’s hoop team; BJ Taylor is out 4-6 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. He is UCF’s best player.

7) Common sense scored a rare win Tuesday when NC State’s Braxton Beverly was declared eligible by the NCAA. Beverly was taking summer classes at Ohio State when Thad Matta was fired by the Buckeyes- young Beverly then bolted to NC State.

6) So much money goes into scouting in pro sports; then you remember that Jimmer Fredette was taken one spot before Klay Thompson and you realize it is still an inexact science, and always will be.

5) New Mexico is favored  over UNLV in football Saturday, the first time they’ve been favored over the Rebels since 2008. Hard to believe UNLV’s football team has been favored over anyone six times in a row.

4) Washington Nationals hired Chip Hale as their bench coach, bad news for my A’s, who now have to find a new third base coach. I’m not sure why the Nationals didn’t just hire Hale as their manager; they hired Dave Martinez, who has never managed in the big leagues.

3) Milwaukee 74, Iowa State 56— Stunning score from earlier this week; Cyclones are in a total rebuild, but losing by 18 at home to Milwaukee? Oy.

2) How did Joe Girardi get fired as manager in New York, wth no replacement immediately hired? They still haven’t hired anyone— managing a team in New York isn’t an entry-level job.

1) If you think Roger Goodell is overpaid as NFL commish, here are four CEO’s who are also breaking the bank— why do these people make so much money?
a) Thomas Rutledge. Charter Communications $98M in 2016
b) Les Moonves, CBS $68.6M
c) David O’Connor, Madison Square Garden $54M
d) Fabrizio Freda, Estee Lauder $47.7M

How current managers do on replay challenges

Major League managers on replay challenges:

Joe Girardi, NYY 76-104, 73.1%
Ned Yost, KC 76-113, 67.3%
Pete Mackanin, Phil 52-79, 65.8%
Bruce Bochy, SF 81-126, 64.3%
Dave Roberts, LA 37-60, 61.7%

Paul Molitor, Minn 50-83, 60.2%
Mike Scioscia, LAA 70-117, 59.8%
Terry Collins, NYM 61-105, 58.1%
Buck Showalter, Balt 60-105, 57.1%
Clint Hurdle, Pitt 81-146, 55.5%

Joe Maddon, Cubs 85-157, 54.1%
Terry Francona, Clev 64-119, 53.8%
Mike Matheny, StL 70-132, 53.0%
Rich Renteria, CWS 37-70, 52.9%
Bob Melvin, A’s 54-105, 51.4%

Craig Counsell, Milw 45-88, 51.1%
Brian Price, Cinc 58-115, 50.4%
Tory Lovullo, Ariz 18-36, 50.0%
Don Mattingly, Mia 71-143, 49.7%
Andy Green, SD 37-76, 48.7%

Brian Snitker, All 32-67, 47.8%
AJ Hinch Hst, 51-107, 47.7%
Kevin Cash, TB 66-139, 47.5%
John Farrell, Bos 64-135, 47.4%
Brad Ausmus, Det 53-113, 46.9%

Jeff Banister, Tex 61-137, 44.5%
Bud Black, Colo 32-72, 44.4%
Scott Servais, Sea 33-81, 40.7%
Dusty Baker, Wash 26-65, 40.0%
John Gibbons, Tor 49-141, 34.8%

Thursday’s List of 13: A night of basketball in Las Vegas…….

13) I was at the AAU game in Las Vegas last night, pitting the SC Supreme against the Big Ballers in a pool play game. The place was ridiculously crowded, so crowded that the game was almost cancelled due to concerns about crowding from the fire marshal.

First of all, this is a very organized, well-run event; seven games going on at all times under one roof in the Cashman Center, with bleachers and a good concession stand, but a lot more people than usual showed up to watch last night.

They put out boxscores for these games, which is great. Lot of work goes into doing a good job of running a tournament like this.

12) Most people I listened to before the game thought SC Supreme, featuring top recruit Zion Williamson, would dispose of LaVar Ball’s team easily, but the Ballers played their hearts out and didn’t get blown out, losing 104-92 in a raggedy game.

11) “Unreal. Never seen anything like it,” Kansas coach Bill Self, who was at the game, told ESPN.

10) Supposedly, Lebron James came to the Cashman Center for the game, but didn’t come in when he was told about the crowd concerns. Four or five other NBA players were at the game.

9) OK, so you know I love boxscores; here are some stats from this game:

— SC Supreme was 0-2 on the arc in this game; Ballers were 15-46. Wow
— LaMelo Ball scored 36 points; was 7-15 inside the arc, 3-12 outside the arc, 13-16 on the line. He is a good passer, but is more of a shoot-first guy than his older brother Lonzo, who was also at this game.
— Zion Williamson, one of the best high school players in the country, scored 31 points in 31:00, but was only 7-20 on the foul line- his teammates were 25-34.
— SC Supreme shot 57.1% from the floor, were 32-54 on the foul line.
— Ballers’ five subs who played took a total of two shots in 34:00 played.

8) LaVar Ball has become semi-famous for his promotional skills; he seems to crave attention, but during the game, he was quiet, sitting with this ankles crossed watching the game. He did get a technical foul in the second half.

As for the Ballers’ defense, I’ll say this: they rebounded and went after loose balls with great abandon— they trapped the ball a lot but other than that, SC Supreme got a lot of layups.

7) Underrated weird event of the evening: Guy who was coaching the SC Supreme team was roaming the sidelines while holding his young son (looked about 2 years old) with his left arm the entire first half. Kid looked like he was asleep with his head on his dad’s left shoulder.

6) I saw four games Wednesday; best of the four was Compton Magic beating Iowa Barnstormers 73-62; Compton shot 69% from the floor in the second half, pulling away late after blowing a double-digit lead earlier in the game.

5) So these end-of-summer national AAU events are fun to watch; talented kids from all over the country playing each other and trying to earn college scholarships. Good stuff.

Elsewhere in the world……..
4) Michael Vick wants to become a football coach, is an intern for the KC Chiefs this summer. Plaxico Burress is a coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals.

3) If you’ve seen the TV show Billions on Showtime, the guy who plays pizzeria owner Bruno was a decorated police officer in real life, a “gold-star” officer, so that is pretty cool.

2) The A’s have to demote closer Santiago Casilla; he is awful. Oakland led 2-0 in 9th inning last night, Casilla faced three batters, all of whom scored. I’m grateful I wasn’t around a TV to see it.

1) Trailblazers saved $60M in salary/luxury tax by trading Allen Crabbe to the Nets.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a summer weekend…….

13) I get annoyed when people tell me that they cannot write. ANYONE CAN WRITE!!! If you can talk, you can write. Take a recorder, turn it on and tell stories into it. Then replay what you said, transcribe it into a Word document and voila!!! You have written!!!

Good Lord, if you read this every day, you must know that any damn fool can write his own website. If I can do it, sure as shootin’ you can do it, too.

12) Does Kyrie Irving know that Gregg Popovich will be 69 years old in January, and probably won’t coach much longer? As soon as Pop leaves the Alamo, the Spurs are going to take a big dip. Mr Irving might want to keep that in mind before he jumps overboard from Team Lebron.

11) Do you think Saturday Night Live should offer Sean Spicer a guest hosting spot? Imagine if he went on the show and was really funny? He’d become a hero to the working class.

10) When games at AT&T Park in San Francisco run long and seagulls threaten to overrun the outfield, looking for food, they play “Everybody clap your hands!!!” over the PA system to chase the seagulls away. Odd thing to see. It works. For a few minutes.

9) My friend John e-mailed to remind me that the Cincinnati Airport is actually in Kentucky, which is weird. Kentucky is just over the bridge from Ohio. Cincinnati Bearcats will be playing home games in Northern Kentucky U’s gym this winter; their gym is being refurbished.

8) Weird Al Yankovic went to college at Cal-Poly; in 1979, he recorded “My Bologna” in a campus restroom. The school has put up a plaque commemorating the song on a wall outside the restroom.

7) LaVar Ball got mad at a ref at an AAU game Saturday and pulled his team off the floor, forfeiting the game. Problem is, HIS TEAM LED 69-60 when he forfeited the game.

Not sure where to start with this, but:
a) He probably cost his team a win, and valuable playing time where recruiters can watch them play. Why?
b) What exactly is he teaching the kids who play for him?
c) Does he do outrageous things just to stay in the news?
d) Do the parents of the kids on his team call him out on this behavior?

6) Red flag for the Astros: in Lance McCullers’ last three starts, he’s failed to finish the 5th inning in any of them, allowing 24 hits, 17 runs in 13.2 innings. Houston needs to add at least one starting pitcher by the trade deadline.

5) When Astros’ rookie Colin Moran fouled a ball off his face Saturday night, he broke a bone under his left eye and is now on the DL. Freak accident, and a painful one.

4) Wink Martindale posted this fact on Twitter Saturday: “A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up & down continuously from the bottom of glass to the top”

Who discovered that this is true? I mean, you have a glass of champagne sitting there, and then some wiseguy with a raisin throws it in there and everyone watches?

3) Clayton Kershaw tweaked his lower back, was taken out after the second inning Sunday. Dodgers were -$400 in Las Vegas.

Important lesson here: “There is no such thing as a sure thing, thats why they call it….gambling.” Do you want to be laying -$400 with Ross Stripling on the hill? You do not.

Dodgers won in 10 innings anyway, but laying -$400 on a baseball game is a very bad idea.

2) I’m discouraged by how the A’s are playing (44-54), but how about 44-54 Toronto, with a payroll of $163,381,937? Oakland’s payroll is $81,738,333, which is no excuse for how dismal a team they have, but the Blue Jays are just plain awful.

1) Random fact: If John McCain were uninsured, his blood clot surgery could have cost $76,000. Good thing for him politicians have way better medical coverage than most Americans.

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

13) Happy Armadillo Day everyone!!! 16 years ago today, I started this site and hoped that someone, anyone would read it and not hate it. Actually, even if they hated it I hoped they would still read it.

9/11 happened three months later and I hardly wrote for a week- there wasn’t anything to say.

Now it is 2017 and here we are. I have opinions, you have opinions; it is extremely important that while we disagree, maybe even vehemently disagree, we have to respect each other’s opinions and go on with our lives. It is what living in a free country is all about.

12) Golden State winning the NBA title means Bills’ RB LeSean McCoy cashed his $200,000 bet on the Warriors, recording a profit of $62,500. He made the bet at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, right next to where they sell the biggest pizza slices on earth (really, really good pizza).

11) Speaking of the Warriors, Stephen Curry is an unrestricted free agent- how would you like to be HIS agent right now? He is in line for a 5-year, $205M deal— $41M a year!!!!

So if that happens, and his agent gets 3% of the deal, that is $1.23M a year for the agent, just for representing Curry. He should hire his parents as his agent.

10) Red Sox are in Philly for a couple of days, which has to be strange for Boston 1B coach Ruben Amaro Jr; he was the Phillies’ GM for seven years before they fired him and he went back on the field as a Red Sox coach.

9) Anthony Rizzo has batted leadoff the last two nights; he hit first-inning homers in both games. I like batting my best hitters high in the order. Miami has done well since they moved Giancarlo Stanton to the #2 spot.

8) Latin-born players make up 26.4% of major league rosters.

7) Michigan Wolverines had spring football practice in Italy; I’m not sure why, but they did and the trip cost around $800,000— the tab was picked up by an anonymous donor, so the school didn’t pay a nickel for it.

6) San Diego Padres’ pitcher Clayton Richard, a former backup QB at Michigan, threw 127 pitches Tuesday night, but came up an out short of the complete game in San Diego’s 6-2 win over the Reds. 127 pitches are the most anyone has thrown in the majors this season.

5) The Stanley Cup was at the Pirates’ game Tuesday and not just in the press box; the Cup made its way all around the stadium, with groups of fans getting their pictures taken with it.

I have a picture of myself with the Stanley Cup in my living room, from when the Devils won the Cup (they had a farm team in Albany at the time, so the Cup came here for a night). Very cool.

4) UConn-Villanova are starting a home/home basketball series in January, renewing their rivalry from the Big East days. Since it is on a Saturday, must mean it is a made-for-TV deal.

3) Oregon’s coaches are getting lot of kudos on social media from basketball people praising how well Oregon players are doing during NBA workouts.

Stuff like this is great for the Ducks’ recruiting; Dana Altman is a great coach and he will get his guys ready for pro basketball. Hearing that from NBA types has to impress high school kids.

2) Back when I was a kid, in the 70’s, the non-waiver trading deadline was June 15 (it is July 31 now). June 15, 1976 was not one of my favorite days……..

I became an A’s fan when I was five years old— 1965- they were awful, but they got better and became one of the best teams ever, winning world titles in 1972, 73, 74.

They won the AL West in ’75 but lost in the playoffs; free agency was becoming a thing, and the A’s didn’t draw anyone at all at home, way worse than now, so they couldn’t afford to keep their stars. Owner Charles O Finley decided to sell some guys off.

On June 15, 1976, the A’s traded Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue, dismantling the team. The trades were later disallowed by the commissioner- the players stayed in limbo for a week, but those A’s teams were never the same again.

1) Anyway, I was 16 at the time and I loved playing basketball; my parents bought me this great pair of Puma low-cut sneakers— the Walt Frazier model. I would play in those sneakers, then change out of them and walk home in different sneakers, thats how much I liked them.

So I’m walking down the street and my dad is sitting in a chair under the tree on the front lawn- he is smiling as he looks at me- something is up.

He tells me the trades have been made, that my team was being dismantled. I’m hot, tired and now not happy; I take my prized sneakers and throw them over the house, one at a time— very lucky they didn’t land on the roof.

Not my finest moment…….lol

Anyway, today should be better than that day was.

Happy Armadillo Day!!!!

Sunday Extra: Trying not to get aggravated…….

I tried not to get aggravated Saturday when the A’s lost 3-2 in the Bronx; the home plate ump tossed Jed Lowrie, tossed Bob Melvin. Let’s put it this way; a friend of mine who is a New York fan texted me during the game to tell me how bad home plate umpire Will Little is.

Late Saturday night, got an e-mail from another friend, asking what I thought of Little’s performance Saturday. So I went to my umpire records and looked up how New York has done with Little behind the plate the last three years. Here are the facts from 2015-17:

Bronx W5-2 @ Baltimore +$123 U9
Bronx W3-1 @ Seattle -$115 U7

Bronx W6-3 vs Tampa Bay +$103 O8
Bronx W7-3 vs Kansas City -$130 O8

Bronx W3-2 vs St Louis +$123, U8
Bronx W3-2 vs Oakland -$145, U9.5

Not going to say another bleeping word except this: if you were a big league manager, would you want Will Little umping the plate in a road game in the Bronx?

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

13) The last four times umpire Alan Porter worked home plate, there have been a total of 41 walks (11-11-11-10); this is only the second such streak in 2016-17 in the major leagues- David Rackley had a 4-game streak with 10+ walks LY, but three of his four games went extra innings, including a 13-inning and a 17-inning game. None of Porter’s games went extra frames.

If you care about such things, over is 5-1-1 in Porter’s last seven games behind the plate.

12) Aaron Rodgers gave his offensive linemen $20,000 ATV’s for presents this week; have to take care of the people who protect you.

11) This is the first time ever the Colorado Rockies have had both a winning April and a winning May to start the season.

10) Marlins were down 2-1 in bottom of 5th, had bases loaded and Giancarlo Stanton up, so of course, Dee Gordon gets picked off first by the catcher to end the inning. Do we have a metric for stupidity? Can the numbers guys quantify how deflating something like this is? I didn’t think so……

9) Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood hasn’t allowed a run in his last 25.2 IP; in his last six starts, he is 5-0 with a 1.31 RA. Pretty important guy for a team whose pitchers have been injury-plagued.

8) On July 2, 2013, Jake Arrieta was traded by the Orioles with Pedro Strop and cash to the Cubs for Steve Clevinger and Scott Feldman. Looking back on the trade, it was a huge blunder by the Orioles.

But Arrieta’s career turned around after the trade, when he saw a Pilates studio while walking around Chicago with his wife; he got into a class, he got himself into much better shape and his career took off from there.

About 10-12 years ago, I actually tried Pilates for a couple of weeks (stop laughing); it was really, really hard and I quit (it was hard and I am soft). Sitting on the couch is way more fun.

7) Toronto Blue Jays got Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson back from injuries this weekend; would expect them to go on a roll soon.

6) I have an odd fascination with actors’ resumes, and the roles they’ve played.

Finally saw the Tom Hanks movie about the pilot Sully who landed a commercial airliner in the Hudson River, with no fatalities; his co-pilot in the movie is the same guy who was Al Pacino’s offensive coordinator in Any Given Sunday.

Aaron Eckhart is the guy; very good actor. He also played Texas Longhorns’ coaching legend Darrell Royal in a movie about the Longhorns.

5) A junior high teacher in Houston gave out certificates to students, included one given to a student that said “Most likely to become a terrorist.” Apparently, the teacher wasn’t kidding.

What would inspire someone to actually do that? Do they want to get fired? If you don’t like your students, fine; just keep it to yourself.

4) Found a new bad TV show to watch late at night; Second Wives’ Club, on E! about these young women who married rich, older men who had all been married at least once before. Not sure why I enjoy watching it, but the people in it are so repulsive it is hard to turn it off.

3) White Sox 3, Tigers 1— Chicago pitchers walked nine, struck out 15 as Tyler Danish won his first major league start. Very unusual for a team to walk 9+ guys in a game and win, much less toss a shutout. Detroit left 12 men on base, in the first game of a twinbill.

Detroit’s Michael Fulmer threw 96 pitches in his 8-inning complete game. White Sox pitchers threw a total of 185 pitches in nine innings. Weird game.

2) Red Sox 6, Mariners 0— Seattle lost six of last seven games; they’re 1-7 in last eight road tilts. In their first two games at Fenway this weekend, Mariners didn’t scored a run.

1) RIP to Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning 85, who pitched 17 years in the big leagues, tossed a perfect game, and later served 24 years in Congress. Thats a full life. RIP, sir.