Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Arizona 4, St Louis 1— Odd situation in this game; Arizona batter gets called out on strikes, D’Backs manager Tory Lovullo comes out to protect his hitter, but says his two cents and gets tossed for arguing balls/strikes. 

In the meantime, he gestures towards St Louis catcher Yadier Molina, says something about Molina stealing strikes by how he frames pitches and Molina gets really mad and comes after Lovullo— the umpire stepped in between them and Molina shoved the umpire. Benches emptied, and then things quieted down. 

12) When Andrew McCutchen hit his walk-off homer Saturday night, it was on the 12th pitch of the at-bat, his only at-bat of 12+ pitches in 5,861 plate appearances in the major leagues. 

11) Medical trivia: Tommy John surgery is called Tommy John surgery because Tommy John was the first person to have the surgery, in the mid-70’s. 

The second person to have the surgery? Current Astros’ pitching coach Brent Strom. 

10) Saw a list today someone wrote on the Interweb of the 25 most re-watchable movies of all-time; I’ve only seen eight of them. 

Thats what makes the world interesting; different people like different stuff, but how Moneyball wasn’t on that list is beyond me. 

9) Before this week, Patrick Reed had worn a red shirt at all five of his PGA Tour wins; but Reed has an endorsement contract with Nike, and Nike wouldn’t let him wear a red shirt this week— I guess Eldrick Woods must actually own the color red. 

Reed wore a pink shirt Sunday, and he won The Masters anyway. Go figure. 

8) 76ers have won their last 14 games, the longest win streak in franchise history. Their last nine wins were by double digits; the NBA record for consecutive double digit wins is 10 in a row. 

7) Mitch Kupchak is the new general manager of the Charlotte Hornets; still not sure why the Lakers canned him as GM, but he went to North Carolina and Michael Jordan hired him. 

6) If a run scores because of an error, it is an unearned run on the pitcher’s record, but if the pitcher is the person who made the error, it shouldn’t be unearned, since it was his fault. Just one of my pet peeves that doesn’t matter very much. 

5) Braves 4, Rockies 0— Sean Newcomb is just the third pitcher in Coors Field history to strike out 9+ hitters and not walk anyone while throwing 6+ scoreless innings. 

4) 99-year-old Phil Coyne, a Pittsburgh Pirates usher who has been working home games for the team since 1936, is retiring. He turns 100 later this month. Can you believe he was working Pirate games in freakin’ 1936?!?!?!?! 

3) Koby McEwen was Utah State’s best player the last two years; he scored 15.6 ppg last year, but when the Aggies changed coaches last month, McEwen announced that he is bolting. McEwen’s final three teams are Creighton, Grand Canyon and Marquette— two Big East teams and…..Grand Canyon????? The Antelopes are coached by former NBA player Dan Majerle. 

2) Questions about this year’s Angels:
a) Is Shohei Ohtani going to pitch every Sunday?
b) If so, how will the other Angel pitchers feel about this?
c) If he keeps pitching this well, ain’t no one gonna say a freakin’ word.
d) If the Angels make the playoffs with a 6-man rotation, how long before more teams do it? 

1— If the NBA playoffs started today:
East: Wizards-Raptors, Bucks-Celtics, Heat-76ers, Pacers-Cavaliers
West: Wolves-Rockets, Thunder-Warriors, Spurs-Blazers, Pelicans-Jazz

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

13) Mets 3, Nationals 2— Washington 3B Anthony Rendon got called out on strikes his first two times up in Saturday’s game, both on marginal pitches; after the second strikeout, Rendon flipped his bat but didn’t say a word— umpire Marty Foster tossed him anyway, at which point Washington manager Dave Martinez came out and got himself tossed, too.

Steven Matz threw 93 pitches in five innings for the Mets; 30 of them were called strikes by Foster and I’m telling you, it might be a very long time before another pitcher has 30 pitches called strikes in one game— I keep track of this stuff and I’ll let you know. It rarely happens. 

But that is why the Nationals were steamed during this game. 

13a) OK, I looked it up; I like to look things up. Seven times all of last year a pitcher got 30+ called strikes in a game. Seven out of 2,430 games. 

12) Astros 1, Padres 0 (10)- Alex Bregman hit an infield pop-up just in front of the plate with two out in the 10th inning; Eric Hosmer overran the ball, it fell untouched and Houston got a win in a highly unlikely way, with the winning run scoring from second. We might not see another ball like that fall untouched the rest of the season. 

11) AAF is a new spring football league that kicks off next February; Orlando is the first city to  be named to the league, and Steve Spurrier is going to be their coach, which lends the league instant credibility. 

Spurrier coached the Tampa Bay Bandits in the USFL back in the 80’s. 

10) Mets 3, Nationals 2— Mets are off to a very strong 6-1 start. Last time the Mets started a season 6-1 was in 2006. 

9) Didi Gregorius’ stats, contrasted between Arizona and New York:
2 years in Arizona: .241 BA, .682 OPS, 13 HR’s in 703 PA.
3+ years in Bronx: .278 BA, .758 OPS, 57 HR in 1,780 PA. 

8) Re-watched Jon Gruden’s half-hour QB Camp TV show with Jared Goff today, done before the Rams picked Goff two years ago; those shows are great TV, but now that Gruden is coaching the Raiders, they’re gone for now. 

ESPN needs to find someone (Jaworski? Dilfer? Gannon?) to pick this show up and grill these young QB’s. Think it helps the players and it is fun/educational to watch on TV. 

7) Angels’ utility guy Nolan Fontana is the grandson of Lew Burdette, who was a really, really good pitcher for the Braves back in the 50’s/60’s- he was 203-144 in his career. 

6) Nuggets 134, Clippers 115— LA is 42-38, but they’re eliminated from playoff contention. 

5) There was only one birdie Saturday at the 11th hole at The Masters: Jeff Knox, the non-competing marker who played with Paul Casey.

Saturday’s 3rd round scoring average of 71.264 was the lowest 3rd round average at the Masters since 1986. 

4) Giants 7, Dodgers 5 (14)— Andrew McCutchen went 6-7 and hit a walk-off homer in the 14th inning; not a bad night’s work. 

3) Lot of people got out of Puerto Rico after the hurricanes last summer; so many people left that they they’ve closed 283 schools on the island. Thats a lot of kids that are gone. 

2) Top three guys in the lineup for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of AA Eastern League are the sons of three former big leaguers— Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 

1) Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Humboldt Broncos, a junior hockey team in western Canada whose bus was in an accident Friday- 15 people passed away. Very sad thing.

Back in my college days, I was student manager of the basketball team; we spent lot of snowy nights in buses in places with hideous weather. My heart goes out to the friends and families. 

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

13) Did you ever want to compete in the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest on July 4 in Brooklyn? Here is your chance, if you’re going to be in Las Vegas three weeks from now. 

The Nevada qualifier for the annual July 4th International Hot Dog-Eating Contest is at 3 pm on Saturday April 28. The event will take place at New York-New York Hotel and Casino.

“The launch of the annual Nathan’s Famous hot dog-eating contest circuit signals the arrival of summer. Some of the most accomplished eaters in the world will compete at this event, but we also are seeking new talent in Las Vegas to represent our nation on the most patriotic day of the year.”
Scott Harvey, executive vice president of Nathan’s Famous.

12) If you owned a baseball team worth around a billion bucks, would you let a 30-year old who was a sportswriter in college run the show? Nah, me either, but Milwaukee hired David Stearns as its GM when he was 30. 

Theo Epstein and Texas GM Jon Daniels got GM jobs when they were 28; I don’t get it. Because Epstein has won titles with the big market Red Sox/Cubs, now everyone is searching for the next Theo. 

The battle between old school thinking and the analytics movement continues, but right now, the analytics movement has the upper hand, as far as hiring goes. 

11) Lebron James is leading the NBA in minutes per game; he led the league in minutes played last year, too. Not bad for a 32-33 year old. Great, great player. 

10) Dodgers-Giants were rained out in San Francisco last night, just 6th rainout at AT&T Park and the first since Astros-Giants were rained out on April 12, 2006.

9) The world’s largest Steak ’n Shake opened at Hooters Casino in Las Vegas Friday. There is also a good Steak ’n Shake at SouthPoint Casino. Steak ’n Shake is tremendous. 

8) One of the most underrated parts of a football coaching staff is the strength coach; players spend so much time getting stronger- they do it year round, so lot of times, they spend more time with the strength coach than their position coach. 

Tennessee Titans strength coach Steve Watterson is retiring after 32 years with the team; he was the longest-tenured strength coach in the NFL. 

7) 26% of money bet on NHL futures in Las Vegas this season is on the Golden Knights, so you know casinos will be rooting against the home squad when they playoffs start. 

6) Colorado Rockies’ TV announcer Ryan Spilborghs played seven years in the major leagues, made roughly $5M playing ball for the Rockies— he said on the air Friday that he still needs to pass one Spanish class to get his degree from Cal-Santa Barbara. 

5) Surprising fact: Coors Field in Denver is the 3rd-oldest stadium in the National League. 

4) Never saw this before: Lucas Duda was hitting in the first inning Friday for the Royals- he swings at a pitch, loses the grip on his bat and it flies out of his hands and winds up on the netting behind the plate. 

3) Not only has the Big 14 not won a college basketball national title since 2000, seven different Big 14 teams (half the damn league!!!!) has lost in the national championship game since then. 

2) According to the Cincinnati Reds’ PR people, Joey Votto has never gone more than 15 at-bats without reaching base safely. 

1— I had no idea the Secret Service has to pay for golf carts to do its security work when Donald Trump plays golf— I figured they’d be comped, since you know, they’re protecting the guy who owns the golf course. Secret Service has shelled out over $200,000 in cart fees since Trump has been President. Oy. 

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

13) With 20 more days until the NFL Draft, it is beginning to look like Lamar Jackson will be the most interesting player to follow. 

The Louisville QB was a really good college player- he won the freakin’ Heisman Trophy, but his Wonderlic score wasn’t good and there are reports that when he was analyzing plays/concepts on the white board with coaches, he didn’t do well either, both major red flags for QB prospects. 

Then there’s the thing about his mother being his manager which hasn’t helped anything. 

12) Lot of outfielders now carry an index card in their back pocket to help them position themselves for different hitters. 

11) Fresno State hired San Diego State assistant Justin Hutson as its new coach; he spent the last 12 years as an assistant in the Mountain West, for the Aztecs and at UNLV. He is considered to be a great recruiter— basketball people on Twitter were very enthusiastic about this hire.

10) I mentioned couple weeks ago how Texas-Arlington fired coach/alum Scott Cross despite his team going 72-33 the last three years; now it turns out the Mavericks’ basketball budget is in the lower half…..of the Sun Belt Conference!!!!

School’s AD says he wants the basketball team to be like Gonzaga, but the school spends money like it is a bottom 50 team. No bueno. 

Texas-Arlington’s basketball budget is $1.5M; Gonzaga’s is $7M. 

9) Pretty good basketball tournament Nov 22-23 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas; Michigan State, North Carolina, UCLA and Texas.

8) Oakland A’s did a logical thing and acquired OF Trayce Thompson off waivers from New York. Trayce will live in Oakland with his brother Klay, who plays across the parking lot from the Oakland Coliseum with the Warriors. 

Trayce Thompson will likely only be in Oakland for 10 days or so, unless he makes a positive  impression before the A’s need a 5th starting pitcher on April 17. 

7) Oddsmakers put out over/unders for individual team totals for each NFL game; say Team A is a 3-point favorite over Team B and the total of 41, then Team A’s total would be 22 and Team B’s would be 19. You wager on stuff like this, if you live somewhere that has legal wagering (ahem). 

Last year the Chargers led the NFL by allowing 4.59 points less per week than their opponents’ over/under; Vikings were next at -3.88 per week. 

6) Houston Texans allowed 4.2 ppg more than their opponents’ total each week; Denver was 31st in the NFL, at +2.98 ppg. 

5) As far as offense goes, he Rams scored 5.75 more ppg than the oddsmakers estimated to lead the league; Jacksonville was next, at +4.72 ppg. 

4) Most disappointing offensive teams were Oakland at -4.14 ppg and Atlanta (-4.06). 

3) I’m not a “Get off my lawn!!!” guy on this subject, but this is an interesting fact, with the strikeout becoming so prevalent now. 

In 1950, Yogi Berra went to the plate 656 times and struck out 12 times. Twelve. 

He hit 28 homers, knocked in 124 runs and struck out 12 times. 

2) Sergio Garcia had a rough day; he hit five balls in the water on the 15th hole and got a 13. He shot an 81, which isn’t good. Garcia can’t even go home when he misses the cut Friday; since he is the defending champ, he’ll present this year’s champ with the green jacket Sunday. 

No one in Masters history had even gotten worse than an 11 on the 15th hole; Ben Crenshaw is one of the guys who got an 11 on #15.

To his credit, Garcia played the last three holes in -1.

1) Brewers’ closer Corey Knebel hurt his hamstring in the 9th inning of Milwaukee’s loss to the Cubs last night. It didn’t look good. The game was 8-0 Cubs when he got hurt. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13) I wrote this here last month but it bears repeating; former UCLA coach Jim Mora coached QB Josh Rosen for three years, and he said on NFL Network that if he was the Browns, he’d take Sam Darnold with the first pick, not Rosen. 

Now Mora just got fired, so there is an interesting story or three there, but still. Can you ever, in the history of the world, remember a coach throwing his former player under the bus like this? 

12) “He needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored.” Mora talking about Rosen. 

I’ve heard this about Rosen before, that he quit playing youth tennis because he got bored with winning so much. You think Tom Brady gets bored with winning?? Nah, me neither. 

11) Mora also said no GM has called him to talk about Rosen, which seems strange. NFL teams do a ridiculous amount of research on prospects— you don’t talk to his college coach? 

10) Philip Rivers better not get hurt; Chargers signed Geno Smith as his backup- he’ll join Cardale Jones on the Chargers’ bench. Like I said, Rivers better not get hurt.

9) Since Bartolo Colon made his big league debut, 17 of the 30 major league teams have gotten new home ballparks. 

8) Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez and Milwaukee’s Hernan Perez were only two players LY with 10+ starts at five different positions. 

7) Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban was in a scene in Showtime’s Billions Sunday night; not a very tough role— he played himself, but have to give him credit— he nailed it. 

6) Solid discovery today in my local supermarket- they sell Dr Brown’s soda, which is usually only sold in delis. Got some black cherry and cream soda— that goes very well with the excellent sandwiches at the Carnegie Deli in the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, but they’ll have to do for now with whatever I have to eat here at home. 

5) Roof was open at Marlins Park Monday nite, will be open again tonight, weather permitting, making it six nights in a row the roof in Miami will be open. Last year, in 78 h0me games, Miami had the roof open only six times. 

4) Reds 1, Cubs 0— Chicago is 2-3 to start the season; they’ve scored a total of one run in the three losses. Cubs have struck out 58 times in five games, an NL record for any team in their first five games. 

3) Villanova 79, Michigan 62— Wolverines were 3-15 from floor in last 11:00 of first half, when this game was decided. DiVicenzo is Villanova’s 3rd-leading scorer but doesn’t start- he took this game over, scoring 18 in first half, 31 for the game. 

This was first year the Super Bowl champ and NCAA basketball champ came from the same city. 

2) This was the first national title game since the Magic-Bird final in 1979 with only one McDonald’s All-American playing in it. Just goes to show you that high school ratings can be very misleading. 

1— The golf pool on this site starts this week with The Masters— if you’d like to get in, you pick three guys a week, can only use the same guy once a year. 18 tournament, then a 4-week playoff for the eight people who make it. 

Schedule is on the golf page on this site— e-mail me at ffib13@gmail.com if you’re interested. 

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a quiet Easter Sunday

13) Toronto 7, New York 4— My biggest problem with the analytics movement is that is goes out of its way to diminish the manager’s role in how a team is run. Can’t do it.

In this game, New York led 4-3 in bottom of 8th; Toronto had men on 2nd/3rd with two out and Josh Donaldson (3-8 with 2 HR’s off Robertson) up. Justin Smoak (0-5 vs Robertson) was on deck; he had homered in his previous AB. What do you do?

Aaron Boone decides to walk Donaldson intentionally. Smoak hits a grand slam. Welcome to the big leagues, Aaron Boone. Being a TV announcer is a lot easier.

12) There are two basketball Hall of Fames; the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, in Kansas City.

There is at least one glaring omission from the College Hall of Fame: Jerry Tarkanian.

Tarkanian went 706-198 in his coaching career, won the 1990 national title at UNLV, made two other Final Fours. For him not be in the Hall of Fame (he is in the Naismith HOF) makes the College HOF look stupid.

11) Some people will cite Tark’s battles with the NCAA as a reason to keep him out, to which I say this: Eddie Sutton, who was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2011.

From Sutton’s Wikipedia page: “The NCAA announced at the end of the season that its investigation into the basketball program had found the school guilty of violating numerous NCAA policies.[8] The NCAA deemed the violations so egregious that it seriously considered hitting the Wildcats with the “death penalty”, which would have shut down the entire basketball program (as opposed to simply being banned from postseason play) for up to two years.”

There is no valid reason for Jerry Tarkanian not to be in the College Hall of Fame.

10) One more thing on the College Hall of Fame: Norm Stewart is a 2007 inductee, but he never made a Final Four, went 8-8 in first round tournament games. Seriously?

9) When you see coaches at mid-majors getting fired these days after short coaching tenures, keep in mind that in the mid-90’s, Jay Wright went 31-51 in his first three years as Hofstra’s coach. Things turned out pretty well for him— he went 91-34 his last four years at Hofstra, before moving on to bigger and better things at Villanova.

8) This is first time since 2004 that team spending on baseball players’ salaries will decline from the year before.

7) Average major league payroll this season: $137,610,491.

6) As expected, Xavier promoted assistant Travis Steele to head coach to replace Chris Mack, who jumped ship to Louisville.

5) Of the 31 players who have 3,000 career hits, Ichiro Suzuki was 3+ years older than anyone else on the list when he got his first major league hit.

4) A Sarasota, FL homeowner found a surprise visitor in his swimming pool Friday night – an 11-foot alligator floating in the water. The gator began swimming away as it struggled to avoid capture. A deputy managed to drag the gator out of the pool with the help of a trapper.

3) If you had the White Sox as being the last American League unbeaten this season, you win!!!

2) Last Big 14 team to win the national title in basketball? Michigan State, in 2000.

1— Villanova took 40 3-pointers Saturday, only 25 2-pointers; wouldn’t be surprised if they move the college 3-point line back to where the FIBA line is.

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

13) Michigan 69, Loyola 57— Ramblers were up 7 at the half; other than Wagner, Wolverines were 4-23 in first half, but Michigan scored 47 points in 2nd half, after only 22 in first, and they move on to the national championship game Monday night.

Loyola shot 39.8% on the arc for the season; they were 1-10 in this game.

12) Villanova 95, Kansas 79— With 6:52 left in first half, Villanova led by 14 and already had seven guys who made at least one 3-pointer- this game was 22-4 at one point, and was reminiscent of Villanova’s dismantling of Oklahoma in the national semis two years ago.

11) I’ve thought a lot about this, asked lot of people about it and still cannot find a decent reason to bat the pitcher 8th. Mets/Phillies are doing it this year with new managers.

Tony LaRussa used to do it, Joe Maddon has done it, which gives the idea credibility, but they did not do it in playoff games, which makes me a skeptic.

10) Scheduling quirk: AL West Houston Astros/Texas Rangers do not play this season after July 29th. All 19 of their meetings are before then.

9) Asdrubel Cabrera is the first ballplayer in 103 years to bat cleanup on Opening Day, then bat leadoff in the second game of the season.

Only one instance Interweb folks could find where a guy batted leadoff on Opening Day, then batted cleanup in the second game of the year— Hall of Famer Tim Raines, in 1989.

8) Obscure Stat of the Day: White Sox pitcher James Shields is the first pitcher since 1908 to allow four 1st-inning runs on Opening Day, but then go on to win that game.

7) Baltimore Orioles won in walk-off fashion in their last three Opening Day games.

6) Sporting News basketball writer Mike DeCourcy is from Pittsburgh; when Jeff Capel got the Pitt Panthers coaching job earlier this week, DeCourcy wrote an article about the Pitt job, and wrote about how Pittsburgh “….isn’t a basketball town.” Uh oh.

Why would you want to coach in the ACC at a school that isn’t in “a basketball town”?

5) Gonzaga will stay in the WCC next season, instead of bolting to the Mountain West.

4) A guy at SouthPoint Casino in Las Vegas risked $130,000 on Michigan to win SU; he got $50,000 for his trouble; after the Wolverines won, he quickly put the $50,000 on Kansas, +5.

3) Seems like the Arizona Diamondbacks wear a different uniform every night; I’m thinking it has to be at least a little distracting, especially early in the season.

2) Phillies’ rookie manager Gabe Kapler took his starting pitcher out in the 4th inning last nite in Atlanta, but there didn’t seem to be anyone warming up when he did it. The reliever took a long time to get to the mound and Braves manager Snitker got tossed when he objected to the pitcher being allowed his eight warmup tosses even after taking forever to get on the field.

1) Xavier Silas got signed by the Celtics this week; its been six years, over 2,100 days since he last played in the NBA. I remember seeing him play in an AAU tournament in Orlando when he was in high school— his dad James Silas was a terrific player in the ABA.

Imagine how great it must be to wait over six years and finally get that call again to play in the NBA? There had to be times he thought it would never happen, but it did.

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

13) Aaron Calixte scored 17 ppg for a Maine basketball team that went 6-26, playing in a weak America East Conference, the #25 Division I conference (out of 32) in America.

Joe Cremo scored 18 ppg, David Nichols 14.5 ppg for an Albany team that went 22-10, but only 10-6 in America East- they lost in first round of AE tourney two of last three years, but the Great Danes have made the tournament five times since 2006.

All three of these players have bolted their schools before their senior years, looking for greener pastures. Maine fired their coach after the season; Calixte has been pursued by big-name schools such as Florida State.

Albany has had four players transfer in the last week; something is amiss. Great Danes have won 133 games the last six years; when four players bolt a winning program at the same time, there is stuff going on that the general public can’t see.

12) I’m an Albany graduate (yes, I graduated from college!!!); I put myself thru school as student manager of the basketball team, but we were D-3 back then. Very good team, but D-3 is worlds apart from D-1. To see the Great Danes become a successful team at the D-1 level has been fun- coach Will Brown is a good guy who has built a consistent, winning program, but this isn’t good.

When your two best returning players jump ship at the same time, its not a good sign.

11) 29% of major leaguers on Opening Day (254 players) weren’t born in this country.

10) A 36-year old accountant who hadn’t played in anything but beer league hockey games in over a decade played the last 14:01 for the Blackhawks Thursday, after both Chicago goalies got hurt in the game, a 7-2 win over Winnipeg. Scott Foster stopped all seven shots he faced.

9) Oakland Raiders released P Marquette King, the 4th-highest paid punter in the NFL.

8) Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy will step aside after next season and be succeeded by current assistant Aaron McKie, who played for the Owls.

7) Guy who owns a casino in Las Vegas has a $25,000 bet on Michigan to win the national title, which nets him $1,000,000 if the Wolverines win the championship. Derek Stevens owns the D Casino in Las Vegas and is a Michigan alum— he made the bet at the Golden Nugget.

Funny thing though, I know a guy who is a very knowledgeable sports bettor and Golden Nugget won’t let him bet more than $1,000 on a game. Go figure.

6) Makes no sense to me that Ron Gardenhire is a major league manager and Joe Girardi isn’t.

5) Cincinnati International Airport is actually located in Kentucky.

4) Rusty Staub is the only major leaguer who got 500+ hits for four different teams.

3) Houston Astros have used four outfielders on defense this spring, when lefty hitters Jay Bruce, Logan Morrison and Justin Bour were batting. This defense leaves the entire left side of the infield open- it apparently will only be used when the bases are empty.

2) Royals lost C Salvador Perez with a knee injury that he got while carrying luggage up stairs. He is expected to be out 6-8 weeks

1) ESPN reported how the Las Vegas Raiders opened negotiations with a guy who owns the 7,000-yard Bali Hai golf course in Las Vegas, so they can convert the golf course into stadium parking for the new domed stadium in the desert. That guy is Billy Walters, who is currently in federal prison on insider trading charges. Complicated.

Friday’s List of 13: Wrapping up Opening Day and other stuff

13) I used to be a minor league official scorer, long time ago (back when I had hair); if I kept score of games today, I’d code the field 3-9 instead of players, to account for shifting in the field.

For instance, Houston used four OF’s vs Joey Gallo Thursday; he flied out to 3B Alex Bregman, who was playing in left field. Traditional scoring would say F5, since Bregman plays 3B, but I’d say F7, since Gallo hit the ball to left field.

I’d supplement my scorebook with written notes on who actually caught the ball, but thats how I’d score a game now. Just think it would be more accurate.

12) Rays 6, Red Sox 4— Chris Sale allowed no runs, one hit in six IP (92 PT), then the Boston bullpen blew the lead in the 8th inning, allowing four walks, two hits, with Denard Span’s 3-run triple the big hit.

11) Dodger TV guy Joe Davis said there were 90 mound visits (90!!!) in Game 7 of the World Series last year. the limit this year will be six per team; ummm, thats a little different.

10) Cubs 8, Marlins 4- Roof was open at Marlins’ Park Thursday; it was open for six home games out of 78 LY and Miami was 0-6 in those games. Marlins are not a MLB-quality team right now- they’re going to lose a lot of games.

For the record, Ian Happ was the first batter this season and he hit a home run.

9) If you care about such things, Josh Donaldson led MLB last year, 15 1st-inning homers. Giancarlo Stanton was next, with 14. Stanton hit one in the first inning in Toronto Thursday, and then he hit another one in the 9th inning.

8) Astros 4, Rangers 1— When Joey Gallo batted with bases empty, Houston played four guys in OF with no fielders on left side of the infield. Actually, Altuve was in the OF too, in short RF, so they had five guys in the outfield.

7) McDonald’s All-American Darius Bazley decommitted from Syracuse, becoming the first top high school prospect to choose turning pro in the G League, where he’ll make $26,000, instead of spending a few months in college. Maybe he’ll get a small shoe contract.

Bazley is a 6-9 kid from the Cincinnati area; he’ll sign a pro contract when he turns 18 in June. Big gamble on his part— if he were to get hurt, then what? If he gets hurt in college, he’s still in college and has the school’s resources at his disposal. He won’t be property of an NBA team next year, just the G-League team. He’ll be eligible for the 2019 NBA Draft.

6) White Sox 11, Royals 4— Matt Davidson hit three homers for Chicago; maybe I should’ve picked him up in my fantasy league, back when he was available. Whoops.

5) RIP Rusty Staub 73, who played 23 years in the big leagues, breaking in with the Houston Colt .45’s in 1963. Le Grand Orange, as he was known in Montreal, made six All-Star teams and had a career OB% of .362 with 292 career homers. He owned a popular restaurant in Manhattan for years after he retired from playing.

Think about how times have changed; in 1963, there was a baseball team named after a gun and an NBA team called the Baltimore Bullets.

4) Braves 8, Phillies 5— Phils led this game 5-2 in 8th, but Atlanta rallied, and Nick Markakis hit a walk-off homer to send Braves fans home happy.

Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers is the first player this season to leave a game with an injury— he suffered an oblique injury in the second inning.

3) Orioles 3, Twins 2 (11)— Not 100% sure, but Zach Duke may very well be the first pitcher ever to strike out four batters in an inning on Opening Day- he struck out four Orioles in the 7th inning.

Adam Jones hit a walk-off homer in the 11th inning to send everyone home happy, after Orioles blew a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning.

2) Brewers 2, Padres 1 (12)— Bill Schroeder is a former big league catcher who is a really good analyst; Padres had two on, one out in the 7th inning Thursday with Milwaukee leading 1-0, and Schroeder says more than once (three times??) that reliever Josh Hader can get Austin Hedges out with a slider, almost like he is trying to use telepathy to get him to throw it.

Eventually, Hader throws the slider and strikes Hedges out.

1— Louisville QB Lamar Jackson threw 59 passes, took snaps under center in front of reps from all 32 NFL teams Thursday, but he wouldn’t run a 40-yard dash, because everyone knows he is fast enough to play QB and he ain’t interested in being a wide receiver. Good for him.

Thursday’s List of 13: 13 of my favorite sports movies…….

I do this list once a year or so; feel free to make your own list.

13) Major League— Still maintain that Bob Uecker should’ve won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Harry Doyle, the Indians’ radio announcer. To this day, when a pitcher throws a really terrible pitch to the backstop, chances are the TV guy will say “….juuuust a biiiit outside…” like Harry Doyle did when Wild Thing Vaughn was on the mound.

12) He Got Game— The only Spike Lee movie I’ve ever seen; its a good one, with Denzel Washington getting released from prison by warden Ned Beatty, on one condition— that he can get his son (Ray Allen) to play basketball at the warden’s alma mater, Big State.

Anyone who was surprised by Louisville’s problems last year didn’t see this movie.

11) Rocky— If only they hadn’t made all those awful sequels. Rocky is a classic; a fighter down on his luck gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot to fight for the heavyweight title back when boxing was a big thing. If you’re at a game in Philly now and they cue up the Rocky music, people still get fired up— its pretty cool.

10) Hoosiers— I’ve had this argument with a friend of mine for years, that Norman Dale was a horrible coach saved only by Jimmy Chitwood not missing a shot in the whole damn movie. Hickory High finished the first game he coached with four guys on the court; even his assistant coach, who wound up in alcohol rehab, knew enough to always give Jimmy the ball when it mattered. They did nail the scene at the end when Hickory wins the state title.

9) Any Given Sunday— Lawrence Taylor and Jim Brown as actors? Yes!!! Al Pacino coaches his Miami Sharks against four teams, all coached by NFL Hall of Famers.

8) Moneyball— The good guys lose in the end, but not before they win 20 games in a row and surprisingly make the playoffs. I won’t embarrass myself by telling you how many times I’ve seen this movie, but if you guess, chances are your guess is too low.

7) Bull Durham— Pitching coach Robert Wuhl delivered this inspirational piece of advice on a visit to the mound:

“……candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she’s registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern. Okay, let’s get two!”

6) Friday Night Lights— Of all the sports movies, Billy Bob Thornton does the best job of portraying a coach, in this case a west Texas high school football coach who gets his best player KO’d for the season by leaving him in a blowout too long. The townspeople aren’t pleased.

5) Blue Chips— Nick Nolte did his research for this by hanging out with Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers for a year, so the thrown chairs and punted balls make more sense. Jerry Tarkanian’s cameo and Bob Cousy’s portrayal of the school’s AD are the underrated parts of this movie.

4) Invincible— True story about Vince Papale, who was a 30-year old bartender that tried out for and wound up playing special teams for the Eagles for three years in the 70’s. Mark Wahlberg plays Papale; Greg Kinnear plays Dick Vermeil.

3) Fast Break— Gabe Kaplan’s character quits his job in a New York City deli to become the basketball coach at a small Nevada college. The team he puts together is interesting- Bernard King and Michael Warren are two of the players.

2) One on One— Robby Benson plays a flashy small school point guard who gets recruited by a big time college program, but once he gets on campus, the coach thinks he made a mistake and tries to run him off the team.

1— For Love of the Game— Kevin Costner pitches for the Tigers, but is at the end of his career. JK Simmons is his manager; John C O’Reilly his catcher, Kelly Preston his girlfriend. Vin Scully is in effect the narrator of the movie.

Wednesday’s List of 13; Mid-week musings……

13) I love numbers, but the analytics revolution in baseball is overdone. There is no way you can quantify a player’s value to the team with a single number— too many variables are involved that cannot be and never will be able to be measured. Here is one example that actually happened:

Two years ago, Player A and Player B were teammates; Player A was getting paid to wear a certain make of spikes, but he wasn’t wearing them. One day, while Player A was talking to the sales rep from the company that was paying him, Player B comes over and tells the sales rep that Player A isn’t wearing his company’s spikes. A fight ensues in the clubhouse.

Player B gets his ass kicked and goes on the DL; Player A gets suspended and the team suffers, since they weren’t very good to begin with and they were now without two decent hitters.

So, analytics people, quantify that for me; make that a part of WAR, when a guy is such a cruddy teammate that his teammate is provoked into kicking his butt!?!? These players live/travel together from March-September. Being a good teammate is an underrated variable.

12) March 22, 2014, the Astros released JD Martinez, just let him walk. He’s hit 128 HR’s in the four years since, and now makes $22M a year in Boston. Astros are now World Champs, despite giving away a player of Martinez’ ability- they’ve won 271 games the last three years. Go figure.

11) Pitt Panthers named Duke assistant Jeff Capel their new head basketball coach; he was previously head coach at VCU, Oklahoma before spending seven years as a Duke assistant. Capel was 79-41 as VCU’s coach (50-22 in conference), 83-69 at Oklahoma (33-43 in conference).

10) Detroit Lions team president Rod Wood said a main reason Detroit didn’t win its bid to host the NFL Draft this year was a date conflict at Ford Field with a robotics convention. Oy.

Detroit also has to start the 2018 season on the road because Ford Field is booked for a concert on September 9— Ed Sheeran, whose concert tour is messing with the first half of the NFL schedule in several cities.

9) When basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton was in high school/college, he once went 5.5 years without losing a game. His HS team won its last 16 games his junior year and he didn’t lose again until the second half of his senior year at UCLA.

8) Las Vegas Golden Knights were 500-1 to win the Stanley Cup when their first NHL season started back in October. Now they’re 7-1 to win the Cup. Best expansion season ever in any of the four major sports.

St Louis Blues made the Stanley Cup finals in 1968, but that was when the league expanded from 6 to 12 teams and the six new teams were all in the West, so one of them had to make the finals.

7) Interesting quirk to this year’s baseball schedule; A’s visit San Francisco the last three games before the All-Star break, then the Giants visit Oakland the first three games after the break.

6) Louisville paid a search firm $150,000 to find its new athletic director- they wound up hiring the guy who was the interim AD. So they gave a search firm $150K to hire the guy who was already in the job. Something is amiss…….

5) Speaking of the Cardinals, Louisville hired Xavier coach Chris Mack as its new basketball coach, which is a kick in the teeth to the Big East. Mack is a Xavier alum who was a 2-year captain of the Musketeers, but as the saying goes, “Whenever you don’t think its about the money, remember: Its always about the money.”

Mack was making just under $1.7M a year at Xavier; he’s making $4M now. His wife is from Louisville, but the $4M was the deal-maker, for sure.

4) Does New Jersey Giants coach Pat Shurmur have special insight into college players in this year’s draft? His son Kyle is Vanderbilt’s quarterback, who played against NC State LB Bradley Chubb in the 2016 independence Bowl. Giants may very well draft Chubb next month.

3) Butler/Florida will play a home/home basketball series the next two years; the series was negotiated by the two head coaches……on Twitter. Welcome to 2018.

2) ESPN had a mike on Mookie Betts while he was playing right field for the Red Sox Tuesday; as a ball was hit over his head into the corner, he says, “I ain’t getting this one, boys.” They were talking to him in between pitches while the game was going on. Good TV, but one more example of how spring training might be a little too long.

1) Former major league catcher Paul Loduca was on TVG as a horse race handicapper; he likes gambling. Here are his over/under team win total picks for 2018:
Twins, over 83.5 wins
Red Sox, over 91.5 wins
Rockies, over 81.5 wins
Cardinals, under 86 wins

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

13) Allow me to start today with a rant……

Texas-Arlington’s basketball team went 72-33 the last three years, 37-19 in conference games, but they didn’t win the Sun Belt tourney in the last 10 years- their only NCAA appearance was in 2008, which was the second year as head coach for Scott Cross, a UTA alum.

Tex-Arlington fired Cross Monday, after a 21-13 season when the Mavericks had the most experienced team in America, starting five seniors. Why?

Firing a mid-major coach who is an alumnus and is an honest guy (the school’s statement went out of its way to say so) and who won 72 games the last three years? No bueno.

You wonder why coaches break the rules so they can win? Stuff like that is why……

12) Whoever the next coach is at Arlington has a full rebuild on his hands; of the eight players who played in the Sun Belt final vs Georgia State, seven were seniors.

11) I saw this on Twitter Monday night and I’m borrowing (stealing) it. The only seven players who hit 2+ homers in an Opening Day game more than once:

Adam Dunn, Juan Gonzalez, Eddie Mathews, Raul Mondesi, Xavier Nady, Albert Pujols, Joe Torre.

10) Bronx 1B Greg Bird is out 6-8 weeks because of an ankle injury that requires surgery; they could move Neil Walker to 1B and play young Tyler Wade at 2B.

9) I’m watching Billions on Showtime (a great show) Sunday night and one of the characters goes into a New York City deli and orders an egg cream, which looks like a milkshake but I have no idea what it really is. It looked good, so I did some research.

Several people I asked had no idea what I was talking about, but my cousin hooked me up with some knowledge: 1/2 cup of whole milk, one cup of seltzer, two tablespoons of chocolate syrup.

I’ll report back when I have one of these and let you know if they’re any good. My cousin says they’re great.

8) There are 32 NFL teams, two coordinators per team. Of those 64 high-paying jobs, 31 of them have changed hands since last season ended. Football coaches are nomads.

7) Los Angeles Rams signed Ndamukong Suh to a 1-year, $14M deal; Rams had 6th-most cap space in the league before this signing- their defensive line should be really good.

6) ESPN’s Chris Mortensen predicts the college QB’s will be drafted in this order next month:

“Darnold, Allen, Mayfield, Rosen”

Surprising to me that Mayfield passed Rosen, since Rosen is considered the best pure passer of the rookie QB’s right now. As always, the draft will be interesting.

5) NASCAR race got snowed out in Virginia Sunday; weird having a car race live on TV at 2:00 on a Monday afternoon.

4) RIP Wayne Huizenga, 80; he founded three Fortune 500 companies (Waste Management , Blockbuster and AutoNation), and also owned the Dolphins-Marlins-Florida Panthers.

RIP Zeke Upshaw 26, a player in the G-League who collapsed during a game last week and later passed away, apparently due to heart failure.

3) Sounds like Tubby Smith will surface as the coach at High Point, his alma mater. Panthers fired former North Carolina player Scott Cherry after nine years as coach, despite his going 68-36 in Big South games the last six years.

2) According to the Associated Press, the average salary in major league baseball is on track to be around the same as last year’s $4.45 million, maybe slightly higher.

1— Daytime television is horrendous, except for March, when MLB Network shows spring training games every day. With baseball season starting Thursday, that’ll be the end of good daytime TV for 11 months. Unless you like politics, but I’m not one of those people.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Kansas 85, Duke 81 OT— Jayhawks were 13-36 on arc in this game, 17-33 inside the arc; Newman scored 32 points and Kansas is headed to the Alamo for the Final Four.

Grayson Allen went 3-13 in his last college game; Mavin Bagley was 5-9 in 44:00- if you’re coaching Duke, you’re sick that Bagley got only nine shots in a game this close, especially since he’ll never play for Duke again.

12) Villanova 71, Texas Tech 59— Wildcats were 29-35 on foul line; Tech was 14-18 in game where teams combined to go 9-44 on arc. Villanova is in Final Four for second time in three years; they’re 11-1 in last 12 NCAA tournament games.

11) Final Four pointspreads:
Michigan (-5.5) over Loyola-Chicago
Villanova (-5) over Kansas

10) Since 1987, when two #1-seeds play in the national semifinals, the underdogs are 8-2 against the spread.

9) Was thinking about Gonzaga’s potential move to the Mountain West; I have no idea why they would do that. Gonzaga doesn’t have football, so their TV deal for basketball would only net them an additional $375,000 a year— not much at all.

Mountain West is a better league, but hardly a power league; only reason they got two teams in the NCAA’s this year is because Nevada got beat in the conference tournament. Gonzaga is the king of the WCC; its good to be the king- they’re like UNLV was in the Big West during the peak years of Jerry Tarkanian’s coaching tenure in Las Vegas.

To me, adding Gonzaga would really help the Mountain West, not sure how it helps Gonzaga.

8) Saturday night, Florida State was down 58-54 in the last 0:15; they missed a 3-pointer, then didn’t foul in the last 10 or 11 seconds, and Michigan ran out the clock.

The non-foul occurred right in front of the FSU bench; it seemed like someone on the bench told the Seminole player not to foul, so they let the game end, despite a foul giving them a (very small) chance to win the game. A small chance is still a chance; it happens. Ask Louisville.

As you know, I spend a ridiculous amount of time watching college basketball; can’t remember a situation like this happening before, especially a team whose season ends with a loss. Why give up?

Leonard Hamilton wasn’t happy when he was asked about it after the game. If I was the AD at Florida State, I’d be asking him about it again when we met back in Tallahassee.

7) Duke was down five with 0:11 left in OT Sunday; unlike Florida State, they fouled.

6) Atlanta Braves cut P Scott Kazmir, eating $16M he is owed this year. Kazmir had a rough outing Saturday, blamed it on a 90-100 bullpen session he threw Wednesday, saying he didn’t know he’d be pitching Saturday. Now he is out of a job, though he still gets paid.

5) Phillies gave 2B prospect Scott Kingery a 6-year, $24M contract, which eliminates service time as an issue in making Kingery a major leaguer right now.

Lot of teams delay bringing their prospects up to the majors, to delay their arbitration years from kicking in.

4) Then there is Arizona, which sent OF Yasmany Tomas down to AAA, despite owing him $46M over the next three years. RF Stephen Souza is on the DL and they still sent Tomas down, which tells us they’re pretty sour on him.

3) Twins’ coach Howard Johnson, the old Mets’ 3B, broke bones in his face this weekend when he was hit by a foul ball in the Minnesota dugout. Hope he is feeling better soon.

2) I’m still wondering why the Red Sox fired Terry Francona; Boston averaged 93 wins a year under Francona, winning two World Series with no losing seasons- they were 90-72 his last year, albeit with some off-field hijinx that had people saying Francona ran too loose a ship.

They’ve won one World Series in six years since he left and now have an entry-level manager in Alex Cora. Curious decision.

1— Mets manager Mickey Callaway is the 49th major league pitcher who later became a major league manager. Pitching is obviously the most essential element of baseball; you’d think more former pitchers would’ve become managers.