Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) Tennessee 42, Bills 16
— Total yardage: 370-334 Buffalo, very misleading stat.
— Four of six Tennessee TD drives were 30 or fewer yards.
— Buffalo converted 13-17 third down plays, and only scored 16 points.
— All five Buffalo games went over the total.

— Tennessee won its first four games, scoring 30.5 ppg.
— Titans are +8 in turnovers, best ratio in the league.
— Tennessee is 4-0 for first time since 2008.
— Titans won field position by 29 yards, biggest margin I’ve seen.

12) With Buffalo playing last night, their Thursday night game with the Chiefs this week was pushed back to Sunday afternoon— NFL won’t have a Thursday night game this week, but there are a couple college games on the board to amuse us.

11) Dallas Cowboys signed QB Garrett Gilbert to fill out its QB room; Gilbert was the leading passer in the AAF before it folded (Orlando Apollos)- he was drafted by the Rams, played at Texas/SMU in college and was most recently on Cleveland’s practice squad.

10) How will the Dallas offense change with Dak Prescott out? Andy Dalton is obviously a competent NFL QB, but he isn’t as mobile- I figure the Cowboys will run the ball more. 

Dallas has taken 76.2 snaps/game so far this year, most in the league; only 15.7% of those plays came on 3rd down, 2nd lowest %age in the NFL, behind Seattle. Cowboys’ tempo figures to slow down some, don’t you think? 

9) Thru five games, Seattle has run 76 fewer plays than their opponents, but they’re 5-0; 12 of their 23 touchdowns have come on plays of 18+ yards.

Surprising stat: Seattle has allowed 25+ points in each of its last 10 home games.

8) Last four games, LA Chargers have been outscored 64-29 in 2nd half/OT; they lost all four games, all by 7 or fewer points, two of them in OT.

7) So far this season, AFC teams are 11-9-1 SU vs NFC opponents.

6) This is the first time ever that Iowa State is in the college football top 25, while Texas and Oklahoma are outside the top 25.

5) Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall is being investigated by the school after he was charged with mental/physical abuse by former players. Marshall has been at Wichita for 13 years; he led the Shockers to the 2013 Final Four, has made the NCAAs 7 of the last 8 years it was played- they were 23-8 LY, so they would’ve made it again.

4) Some good news in college basketball; Mountain West will play an 18-game conference season, starting December 29.

3) Kansas State QB Skyler Thompson is out for the year, with an arm/shoulder/collarbone injury. Freshman Will Howard steps in to replace him- he was 8-19/117 yards and an INT in the Wildcats’ 21-14 win at TCU last week.

2) Rays 5, Astros 2 (Tampa Bay leads 3-0)
— Yarbrough threw five strong innings; five relievers closed the game out.
— Rays scored all five of their runs in 6th inning; Wendle knocked in two runs.
— Altuve homered in first inning in 2 of 3 games in this series, but he also had a huge throwing error. After not having a throwing error all season, he has three in this series. 

1) Braves 8, Dodgers 7 (Atlanta leads 2-0):
— Braves are 7-0 in the playoffs, but hung on for dear life in this game.
— Atlanta led 7-0 in 7th inning; Dodgers had tying run on third in last inning.
— Atlanta’s rookie P Anderson was lifted after four shutout innings (85 PT).
— Albies homered into the Atlanta bullpen again; for 2nd straight night, closer Melancon caught the ball on the fly. 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) New Orleans 30, Chargers 27 OT
— Chargers lost their last four games, two of them in OT.
— Under Lynn, LA’s record in games decided by 8 or fewer points is 3-13.
— Chargers missed a PAT, hit the upright on a 50-yard FG at gun in regulation.
— Chargers are 9-7-2 ATS in last 18 games as a road underdog.

— Saints scored 30+ points in four of their five games.
— Sanders caught 12 footballs for 122 yards.
— All five New Orleans games went over the total.
— Saints allowed 34-37 points in their losses; 23-29-27 in their wins.
— New Orleans is 7-13 ATS in its last 20 games as a home favorite.

12) Tonight’s Buffalo-Tennessee game won’t be the first NFL regular season game played on a Tuesday; 10 years ago, Vikings beat Philly 24-14 on a game postponed because of a blizzard in Philadelphia. It was Michael Vick’s first full year with the Eagles; Joe Webb was the Vikings’ QB.

11) Thru five weeks, NFC East doesn’t have a team at .500 or better; this is only third time this ever happened- the 2013 NFC East (Eagles wound up winning it at 10-6) and 1968 Century Division (Browns wound up 10-4, after starting out 2-3). 

10) One of the coolest things about baseball is that heroes come in all shapes and sizes; Mike Brosseau got Tampa Bay into the ALCS when he homered in the 8th inning of Game 5 in the ALDS.

Brosseau played college ball at Oakland in Michigsn- he was undrafted out of college, didn’t get to AA until 2018, but he got to AAA and the majors last year, and hit .302 in 86 AB’s this year. Now he’s hit one of the, if not THE biggest home run in Rays’ history.

9) Random fact: 8 of 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL transferred while they were in college, and that doesn’t count the guys who went to junior college.

8) Dak Prescott’s shattered ankle means that Andy Dalton is now the Dallas QB; his backup is rookie Ben DiNucci, a 7th round draft pick from I-AA James Madison.

Guy on social media wrote a factual tweet about how Prescott was playing this year on a 1-year tender, rather than signing a lucrative multi-year deal, and the shattered ankle makes giving him a multi-year deal very risky. The guy got roasted by others for reporting facts- welcome to 2020.

7) Seahawks won 27-26 in dramatic fashion Sunday night, but they went 0-7 on third down conversions. Not often a team scores 27 points without converting one third down play- they did convert both their 4th down tries, including the game-winning TD with 0:15 left.

6) The Wall Street Journal reports that Red Sox owner John Henry “is in talks to join with an investment vehicle for an $8 billion deal that would take his famed sports holdings public, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Fenway Sports Group’s holdings include:
— Boston Red Sox
— Fenway Park
— New England Sports Network
— Liverpool soccer team
— Salem Red Sox
— Roush Fenway Racing
— Fenway Sports Management

5) Chicago White Sox fired manager Rick Renteria Monday; White Sox went 35-25 this year, lost in the Wild Card round in three games to Oakland. Overall, Renteria went 236-309 as skipper of the Pale Hose, after going 73-89 in his one year managing the Cubs- they fired him when Joe Maddon became available.

White Sox were 32-16 at one point this season, but went 4-11 in their last 15 games, and that was enough to get Renteria shown the door.

4) Clemson Tigers have now won 36 consecutive regular season football games.

3) Lakers’ championship this year is their 17th ever; five of those 17 titles came when the team was in Minneapolis (Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes).
— Rajon Rondo joins Clyde Lovelettte as only players ever to win a title as both a Laker and a Celtic.
— Lebron James took some heat for passing to Danny Green for an open 3-pointer at the end of Game 5; to me, that is part of what makes James so great, he trusted his teammate to make a shot (Green is a career 40% shooter on the arc). Green missed, but that’s not the point. Great teams have players who trust each other, and addition to great talent, that is why they win.

2) Rays 4, Astros 2 (Tampa Bay leads 2-0)
— Bregman flied to center with bases loaded to end the game.
— Margot hit a 3-run homer in the first inning, after an Altuve throwing error.
— Zunino hit a 454-foot homer for the Rays- he has three homers this postseason, after he hit .147 during the regular season.
— In MLB history, teams that went up 2-0 in best-of-7 series have won the series 72 of 85 times (84.7%). 

1) Braves 5, Dodgers 1 (Atlanta leads 1-0):
— Braves scored four times in ninth inning; they’re 6-0 in the playoffs.
— Riley, Albies homered in the decisive 9th inning.
— Teams were a combined 1-14 with runners in scoring position.
— Roughly 11,000 fans were allowed to come in and watch this game, in Arlington TX. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy sports Sunday……

Raiders 40, Kansas City 32
— Raiders’ five first half drives: 27 plays, 333 yards, 24 points.
— Raiders in 4th quarter: 224 plays, 118 yards, 17 points.
— Las Vegas snaps a 7-game losing streak in Arrowhead.
— All five Raiders games went over the total.

— Chiefs’ first four drives: 25 plays, 212 yards, 21 points.
— Chiefs’ last eight drives: 42 plays, 181 yards, 11 points.
— Chiefs are 8-3 ATS in last 11 games as a home favorite.

Pittsburgh 38, Eagles 29
— Philly is giving up 29 ppg this year, allowing 18 TD’s on 54 drives.
— Eagles are off to a 1-3-1 start; they led three of the games at halftime.
— Teams combined to convert 21-29 third down plays in this game.
— NFC East teams are 3-13 ATS outside their division.

— Steelers won their first four games, scoring 26-26-28-38 points.
— Four teams Pittsburgh beat have a combined record of 2-13-1.
— Claypool caught 7 balls for 110 yards, three TD’s, also ran for a TD.
— Home team won seven of last eight series games.

Rams 30, Washington 10
— Rams won four of first five games; this was their third east coast game in last four weeks.
— Rams’ first three drives: 23 plays, 234 yards, 20 points.
— Under McVay, LA is 14-8 ATS as a road favorite.
— Second half was played in a steady rain; tough weather for both offenses.

— Redskins in second half: 22 plays, minus-6 yards, no first downs.
— Washington lost its last four games, giving up 31.3 ppg.
— Redskins have been outscored 95-34 in the first half this season.
— Kudos to Alex Smith who played for first time in over 600 days after shattering his leg in a 2018 game. Tough guy,

Houston 30, Jaguars 14
— Jaguars started two drives in Houston territory, didn’t score either time.
— Jaguars lost their last four games, giving up 31.5 ppg.
— Jacksonville is 5-10-1 ATS in last sixteen games as a road underdog.
— Jaguars lost despite an 11-yard edge in field position; very unusual.

— Houston gets its first win; they fired their coach last week.
— Watson threw for 359 yards and three TD’s.
— Cooks caught eight footballs for 161 yards.
— Texans won five in row, nine of last 11 series games

Cardinals 30, NJ Jets 10
— Murray threw for 380 yards; Hopkins caught six balls for 131 yards.
— Cardinals outgained the Jets, 496-255.
— Four of five Arizona games stayed under the total.

— Jets lost their first five games, giving up 32.2 ppg.
— Jets scored only 32 points in their last ten red zone drives.
— New York is 4-7-1 ATS in its last 12 games as a home underdog.

Baltimore 27, Bengals 3
— Bengals’ first half drives: 31 plays, 80 yards, zero points.
— Cincy converted only 3-16 third down plays.
— Bengals had only one play longer than 19 yards.

— Baltimore scored 27+ points in its four wins, 20 in their loss.
— Four of five Raven games stayed under the total.
— Baltimore has outscored opponents 47-20 in second half.
— Baltimore won last four series games, by 3-6-36-24 points.

Panthers 23, Atlanta 16
— Carolina won its last three games, outscoring foes 59-21 in first half.
— Panthers converted 29-59 third down plays this season.
— Carolina snap a 5-game losing streak to the Falcons.

— Falcons lost their first five games, giving up 32.2 ppg.
— Atlanta had a 92-yard TD drive on its first drive, but that was their only touchdown.
— Falcons scored only 3 points on two red zone drives in 4th quarter.
— Atlanta is 5-9 ATS in its last 14 games as a home favorite./
— Falcons fired their coach and GM Sunday night. 

Dolphins 43, San Francisco 17
— Miami scored a TD, had three FG’s in last 4:38 of the first half.
— Miami scored 31.3 ppg in its last four games (12 TD’s on 39 drives).
— Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards, three TD’s.

— Road team won all five San Francisco games.
— Niners scored 31-36 points in their wins; 20-20-17 in their losses.
— QB Garoppolo played first half, Beathard the second- they have QB issues.
— 49ers are 5-13-1 ATS in last 19 games as a home favorite.

Dallas 37, NJ Giants 34
— Giants led 17-3 midway thru 2nd quarter.
— Both teams scored a defensive touchdown.
— Giants had couple TD’s called back by sketchy penalty calls, one on a fake FG.
— Giants covered 13 of last 16 games as a road underdog.

— Costly win; Dak Prescott has a compound fracture of his ankle.
— Cowboys gave up 40 points/game the last four weeks.
— Last four Dallas games went over the total.
— Cowboys won last seven series games.

Cleveland 32, Colts 23
— Colts were in red zone four times, scored only 16 points.
— Rivers threw a pick-6 in 3rd quarter; Colts ran kickoff back for a TD.
— Both QB’s in this game threw two INT’s.

— Cleveland won its last four games, scoring 35-34-49-32 points.
— Cleveland’s first half drives: 45 plays, 289 yards, two TD’s, two FG’s.
— Browns converted 10-17 third down plays.
— AFC North teams are 10-2-1 ATS outside their division.

Seattle 27, Vikings 26
— Seahawks scored a 6-yard TD with 0:15 left for the win- they drove 94 yards for the winning score.
— Seahawks scored three TD’s in a 1:53 span of the 3rd quarter.
— Seattle is 8-13-1 ATS in last 22 games as a home favorite

— Vikings led 13-0 at the half; they led 26-21, had 4th-and-foot on the Seattle 6 at the 2:00 warning- they went for it, didn’t get it, then they lost.
— Minnesota lost four of first five games, despite scoring 26+ points four times.
— NFC North teams are 9-4 ATS outside their division.

Rays 2, Astros 1 (Tampa Bay leads 1-0)
— Took Snell 105 pitches to get thru five innings, but he did.
— Tampa’s bullpen tossed four scoreless frames, putting five men on base.
— Altuve homered for Houston’s only run.

Lakers 106, Miami 93 (LA wins NBA title, 4-2)
— Lakers win their 17th NBA title.
— This game wasn’t close; LA led 64-36 at halftime.
— Lebron James is third player ever to win an NBA title for three different teams. 

 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) Oklahoma 53, Texas 45 OT:
— Texas scored two TD’s in last 3:17 to force OT.
— Both kickers missed a field goal in one of the OT’s.
— Oklahoma benched QB Rattler in 2nd quarter, but he played 2nd half.
— Texas is 1-2 in Big X: 63-56/31-33/45-53. Wild games.

12) Texas A&M 41, Florida 38:
— Florida QB Kyle Trask is named after Kyle Field, where A&M plays their games; both his parents went to Texas A&M.
— Gators led 28-17 with 5:00 left in third quarter.
— A&M gained 543 yards, converted 12-15 on third down.
— Aggies scored 10 points in last 4:30, kicking a 26-yard FG for the win.

11) Missouri 45, LSU 41:
— LSU had ball 1st-and-goal on 1-yard line in last minute, didn’t score- they threw the ball on 3rd and 4th down.
— LSU is 1-2, with 44-34/45-41 losses. Tough time to be the defensive coordinator.
— Missouri gained 586 yards, threw for 406.
— LSU scored 41 points, despite going 0-10 on third down. 

10) Duke 38, Syracuse 24— Misleading final score:
— Total yardage: 645-286, Duke
— First downs: 36-11, Duke
— Blue Devils ran ball for 363 yards.
— If I looked at the team stats without knowing the score, would’ve said Duke, by 28-30 points, but Blue Devils were minus-4 in turnovers, which kept Syracuse within reach.

9) Auburn 30, Arkansas 28:
— Auburn led 17-0 midway thru second quarter.
— Tigers kicked 39-yard FG with 0:07 left for the win, but a controversial call on a spiked ball/fumble in the last minute saved Auburn’s bacon.
— Arkansas QB Franks was 22-30/318 yards passing, with four TD’s.
— Auburn ran for 259 yards on a soggy field; surprisingly, no turnovers either way.

8) Alabama 63, Ole Miss 48:
— Total yardage was 723-647; truly terrible defense.
— Ole Miss allowed 51-41-63 points in their first three games.
— Alabama ran 71 plays, only 7 on third down- they converted 6 of them.
— Crimson Tide gained 723 yards on 71 plays, over 10 yards/play. 

7) Upsets of the Week:
— Missouri (+14) 45, LSU 41
— Kansas State (+10.5) 21, TCU 14
— NC State (+7) 21, Virginia 14
— Boston College (+6.5) 31, Pitt 30
— Middle Tennessee (+6.5) 31, FIU 28
— Texas A&M (+6) 41, Florida 38
— East Carolina (+6) 44, South Florida 24

6) Boston College 31, Pittsburgh 30 OT:
— BC led 24-14 with 3:00 left in third quarter.
— Pitt’s kicker tied game with a 58-yard FG in last minute, then missed a PAT in overtime.
— Pitt was only 4-18 on 3rd down, but converted 3-4 on 4th down. 

5) Georgia 44, Tennessee 21:
— Georgia poached QB’s from Wake Forest/USC to play this year, but former walk-on Bennett is now the starter, and the Dawgs are 3-0- he was 16-27/238 passing in this game.
— Bennett had to go play at Smith JC in Mississippi before Georgia gave him a scholarship.
— Dawgs ran football for 193 yards, outgained Tennessee 431-214.

4) Kentucky 24, Mississippi State 2:
— Two weeks ago, Miss State QB Costello threw for 623 yards; he got benched in this game, came back in 4th quarter and threw a pick-6. No bueno.
— Kentucky lost 42-41 to Ole Miss last week, so great job by their defense here. 

3) NC State 38, Virginia 21:
— Virginia turned ball over four times (-3), converted only 4-18 on 3rd down.
— Cavaliers threw ball for 323 yards, outgained State 405-363.
— Wolfpack is off to a 3-1 start, despite playing three road games. 

2) Home favorites/home underdogs against spread, by conference:
AAC 2-3-1……2-0
ACC 6-6-1……6-2
Big X 6-3……3-2
C-USA 0-7……1-2
SEC 5-6……5-4
Sun Belt 1-1……3-1

1) I miss watching Pac-12 football until 2am on Saturday nights; look forward to when they start their season, on November 7th. 

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a frantic Friday……

13) Before we get to sports today, took lot of onions for Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer to go on Chris Cuomo’s TV show Thursday night, hours after it was announced that 13 people were arrested for plotting to kidnap her and wreak havoc on the government in Michigan. 

Cuomo had to be a little queasy too; his brother is the governor of New York.

Crazy times we live in.

12) Baker Mayfield is 15-18 as the Cleveland Browns’ QB, the winningest Cleveland QB since Derek Anderson went 16-18 from 2006-09. Tim Couch was 22-37 in Cleveland, from 1999-2003.

Here are some other Cleveland QB’s during that time:
— Kelly Holcomb 4-8
— Jeff Garcia 3-7
— Trent Dilfer 4-7
— Charlie Frye 6-13
— Brady Quinn 3-9
— Colt McCoy 6-15
— Seneca Wallace 1-6
— Brandon Weeden 5-15
— Jason Campbell 1-7
— Brian Hoyer 10-6
— Johnny Manziel 2-6
— Josh McCown 1-10
— Cody Kessler 0-8
— Robert Griffin III 1-4
— DeShone Kizer 0-15

11) Thursday night, San Diego Padre radio announcers were calling the Dodger-Padre game from their booth at Petco Park, while watching the video feed from Texas on their monitors.

Weird thing is, New York-Tampa Bay were playing right in front of them on the field at Petco, while they were calling the Padres’ game that was being played in Arlington. 

10) Tampa Bay 2, New York 1 (Tampa Bay wins 3-2):
— Mike Brousseau homered in the bottom of the 8th for the deciding run.
— There were only six hits total in whole game.
— Tampa Bay-Houston meet in the ALCS.

Umpire Marvin Hudson worked the plate in this game; he had never called a Glasnow game before, and hadn’t done a Cole game since 2016.

9) Tyler Glasnow threw 37 pitches on two days’ rest, going thru the New York order once. Friday was probably his throw day anyway, but pitching in a decisive playoff game is way different than a throw day. Glasnow’s agent had to be queasy watching those 37 pitches. 

Glasnow made $2.05M this year, can’t be a free agent until 2024, so he has lot of innings to throw before he and his agent strike it rich.

8) If you’re a Pittsburgh Pirate fan and you’re watching Cole-Glasnow in such a high level game, you have to wonder what the bleep has our front office been doing? 

7) Heat 111, Lakers 108 (LA leads 3-2):
— Tremendous game, great advertisement for the sport.
— Jimmy Butler played 47:00, scored 35 points; how has he been traded three times???
— James/Davis scored 68 of the Lakers’ 108 points.

6) I’m not real fond of individual awards, but when I see that Lakers’ GM/VP Rob Pelinka finished 7th in the Executive of the Year voting, I’m like, come on man, have some sense. 

Lakers missed the playoffs the last six years, now they’re in the Finals, and the GM gets no love from the awards people? He hired the coach, he signed Anthony Davis. Oy. 

5) Georgia Tech 46, Louisville 27:
— Guy named Brook Benton once sang Rainy Night in Georgia. This was one of those.
— Louisville led this game 21-7 in 2nd quarter.
— Cardinals outgained Tech 471-450, but was minus-3 in turnovers. 

4) Three people who make me laugh the most: Steve Martin, David Letterman, Bill Murray. 

3) I’ve mentioned Ben Affleck’s movie The Way Back before; was watching it again the other night, and it dawned on me— if you’re drinking a can of beer while you’re in the shower, then you might have a drinking problem- Affleck’s character does that more than once in the movie.

Good movie, especially if you like basketball; the practice/game scenes are very well done. 

2) Dodger catcher Will Smith is the first Dodger EVER to have 5+ hits in a playoff game.

1) Las Vegas Raiders have made the playoffs only one time since 2002, when they lost the Super Bowl to Jon Gruden’s Buccaneers. Raiders lost their last six road playoff games- their last road win in a playoff game was in San Diego, in 1980. 

Friday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Thursday

13) Chicago 20, Tampa Bay 19:
— Tampa Bay scored 23-19 points in their losses, 31-28-38 in its wins.
— Buccaneers outgained Chicago 339-243.
— When Brady threw an incompletion on 4th down on Tampa’s last drive, he didn’t know it was 4th down. Surprising thing to see.

— Santos kicked a 38-yard FG with 1:13 left for the win.
— Chicago has won four of its first five games, their best start since 2012. 
— Bears are 14-3-1 ATS in last 18 games as a home underdog.

12) Atlanta 7, Miami 0: (Braves win 3-0)
— Braves have thrown four shutouts in five playoff games.
— Travis d’Arnaud had two more RBI for Atlanta, which makes the NLCS for first time since 2001.
— Excellent season for Miami, which shocked the world by making the playoffs.

11) Los Angeles 12, San Diego 3 (LA wins 3-0)
— Padres were up against it here, with Clevinger/Lamet both hurt coming in.
— Dodgers broke it open with five runs in third inning.
— Will Smith had five hits, scored three times of LA. 

10) Houston 11, A’s 4 (Astros win 3-1)
— Brantley scored three runs, knocked in three more.
— Correa went 3-4 with five RBI.
— Astros are in their 4th consecutive ALCS.

9) New York 5, Tampa Bay 1 (series 2-2)
— Bronx bullpen threw five shutout innings in relief of Montgomery.
— Gleyber Torres scored two runs, knocked in two more.
— Decisive Game 5 is tonight in San Diego.

8) Sunday’s Denver-New England game was moved to 5pm Monday, first half of a Monday night twinbill with Chargers-Saints.

Buffalo-Tennessee has been moved from Sunday to 7pm Tuesday, assuming the Titans get healthier.
If the Buffalo-Tennessee game is played Tuesday, then the Week 6 Bills-Chiefs game gets pushed back from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon.

7) Houston 49, Tulane 31— Not often a team playing its season opener opposes a team playing its 4th game of the year, but welcome to 2020.

Tulane scored two defensive TD’s in the first 6:00 of this game, but wound up getting run off the field by Houston’s explosive passing game.

Cougars threw for 319 yards, outgained Tulane 476-211- they had TD passes of 41, 62 yards.

6) Los Angeles Chargers showed good common sense by naming rookie Justin Herbert their starting QB going forward; the kid has played well so far, might as well let him play so he gets the needed experience and also so their fanbase gets excited and will want to buy tickets next season, in the new domed stadium.

5) This week, someone posted a video on Twitter of a Kentucky basketball practice from 2018; John Calipari tells the team that if Tyler Herro can make eight 3-pointers in a row, he’ll end that day’s practice early. 

First shot, swish; he runs down to the other end, makes another. He goes end-to-end three other times, makes all eight shots, and his teammates erupt with joy.

Huge change in basketball over the last 10-15 years; skill development. The Curry/Thompson Golden State teams have shown how shooting can make teams great and make a guy rich, and guys have worked their butts off to become great shooters. Herro was a steal for Miami with the 13th pick of last year’s draft.

4) For some reason the other night, I’m sitting here at 2am with a Texas-Oklahoma football game from 1984 on TV. Keith Jackson/Frank Broyles calling a rain-soaked game, was great fun to listen to. Not much passing; shoulder pads were a lot bigger then.

3) Random movie trivia, part 1: When they filmed the movie The Blues Brothers in 1980, they wrecked 103 cars during the filming, 60 of which were police cars, at $4,000 a pop.

2) Random movie trivia, part 2: Until Thursday, I had no idea that actor Jon Voight was Angelina Jolie’s father.

1) Best wishes to Kansas football coach Les Miles, one of our favorites, who tested positive for COVID this week. Get well soon, coach.

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) Atlanta 2, Miami 0: (Braves lead 2-0)
— Rookie Anderson (from Albany area) tossed 5.2 scoreless innings. 
— d’Arnaud, Swanson homered for the Braves.
— There were only seven hits total in this game. 

12) Los Angeles 6, San Diego 5 (LA leads 2-0)
— Seager went 3-4, scored twice, knocked in two runs.
— Bellinger made a great catch, robbing Tatis of a HR in centerfield.
— First four guys in LA’s lineup went 7-15. 

11) A’s 9, Houston 7 (Astros lead 2-1)
  Pinder tied game with a 3-run tater in 7th inning.
— Diekman/Hendriks shut Astros out over last 4.1 innings.
— Altuve had three hits, is starting to look like his old self.

10) Tampa Bay 8, New York 4 (Rays lead 2-1)
— Wendle, Arozarena had three hits each for Tampa Bay.
— Rays’ #8-9 hitters knocked in three runs each.
— Stanton hit two another homer for New York.

9) Tennessee Titans still aren’t practicing; Friday is the earliest their facility can open, as they struggle to escape the grip of COVID. Titans are supposed to play Buffalo Sunday; I’m thinking we’ll find out about a possible Week 18 being added to the regular season this weekend, with the extra week before the Super Bowl being removed to make room for it.

8) New England CB Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID, now the Patriots’ facility is closed until further notice- they’re supposed to host Denver Sunday. 

7) New Orleans Saints have allowed 244 yards on pass interference penalties this year; no other team has allowed more than 100.

6) Not sure what I think about the cameras that are in the bases at the ballgames shown by Turner Sports this week. They’re not as good as pylon cameras at football games, that’s for sure. 

Whoever suggested to put a camera in the pylons deserved a big promotion. 

5) Jets will start Joe Flacco at QB this week; Sam Darnold has a banged-up shoulder. Jets lost the last six games Darnold didn’t start. 

Washington benched Dwayne Haskins, will start Kyle Allen at QB this week. 

4) Saturday’s LSU-Missouri football game with was switched from Baton Rouge to Columbia because of the big storm hitting Louisiana this weekend. 

3) NHL is talking about starting next season January 1st. NBA is talking about mid-January; MLK Day sounds like a good starting point. 

2) Get well soon to Indians manager Terry Francona, who underwent several surgeries in a four-day span and required an extended stay in intensive care at the Cleveland Clinic while dealing with medical issues that sidelined him for 46 of Cleveland’s 60 games this season. 

The 61-year-old Francona plans to return to Cleveland in 2021; I hope he does.

1) Lot of yapping in the Padres-Dodgers series; I know people want the players to show their personalities more, but this showboating after home runs has gone up a lot, and it increases tensions, especially in playoff games. Someone’s going to get drilled pretty soon, and there aren’t supposed to be any fights in the COVID era.

When Cody Bellinger made that great catch last night, in the 6th inning, the pitcher threw his glove with joy and was pounding his chest like he just hit the lottery, as teams exchanged pleasantries from across the diamond.

I know I’ll sound like a miserable older guy here, but put a lid on it until the game is over, then be as happy as you want. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) Once in a while it is good to talk about nice things that people do; when the Houston Rockets got eliminated from the NBA playoffs and left the Orlando bubble, Russell Westbrook left an $8,000 tip for the staff at the Grand Floridian Hotel where the Rockets stayed for two months.

12) Green Bay Packers have been very impressive in their 4-0 start:
— They’re scoring 38 ppg (17 TDs on 35 drives)
— Green Bay has gone 3/out once on those 35 drives. Once.
— Packers haven’t turned the ball over yet.
— Green Bay has converted 23-45 third down plays. 

11) We’ll talk more later in the season about 3-and-outs and their importance in determining good field position, but so far this season, NFL teams that won field position by 10+ yards are 23-1 SU in those games, the only loss Atlanta’s 40-39 debacle in Dallas. 

10) Dak Prescott is the first NFL player ever to throw 200+ passes in the first four games of a season- he’s thrown 201. Previous record holder was Drew Brees in 2012 (191). 

9) There is a very funny TV commercial that Dr Pepper runs during college football games;  people are watching a game on TV outdoors on a patio, kicker comes in to kick the winning field goal, and a guy says how the kicker is doing great and “can’t miss” so of course, he misses. 

Next thing, you see the guy in the back of a police car, arrested for jinxing the home team, with Brian Bosworth the arresting officer. Good stuff.

8) Kansas City Chiefs are rolling at 4-0, but they’ve missed a PAT in three straight games; when the weather gets colder and the playoffs get closer, that needs to be cleaned up.

7) Get well soon to Bobby Bowden, 90; the great football coach at Florida State tested positive for COVID after he had an infection in his leg. Get well soon, coach.

6) Lakers’ guard Alex Caruso skipped his sister’s wedding so he could stay in the NBA bubble and keep playing for the Lakers. Hopefully he upgraded the gift he gave to her. 

5) Lakers 102, Miami 96 (LA leads 3-1):
— Heat’s bench shot a combined 4-18 from the floor.
— Miami was +11 in the 6:00 Anthony Davis didn’t play. 

4) Atlanta 9, Miami 5: (Braves lead 1-0)
— Braves scored six times in the bottom of the 7th.
— d’Arnaud went 3-3, knocked in four runs.
— Marlins made 174 roster moves during this chaotic, 60-game season. 

3) Los Angeles 5, San Diego 1 (LA leads 1-0)
— Dodgers didn’t get a hit until the sixth inning.
  San Diego manager Tingler was tossed in 6th inning for voicing his complaints about the umpire’s strike zone. 

2) Houston 5, A’s 2 (Astros lead 2-0)
— Springer hit two homers, knocked in three runs.
— Oakland hit two homers, didn’t get anyone else in scoring position.

1) Tampa Bay 7, New York 5 (series 1-1)
— Rays hit four home runs, evened the series.
— Glasnow struck out 10 guys in five innings, got the win.
— Stanton hit two homers for New York. 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but……

13) Kansas City 26, Patriots 10:
— New England travelled to Kansas City Monday morning, played their #2-3 QB’s.
— Patriots had two empty trips to red zone; QB Hoyer was then replaced by Stidham.
— New England ran ball for 185 yards, but turned it over four times.

— KC won its first four games, scoring 29.3 ppg- they’re first team EVER to start out 4-0 four years in a row.
— Chiefs gave up 526 YR the last three weeks, 175.3/game.
— KC is 19-10 ATS in its last 29 games as a home favorite.

12) Green Bay 30, Falcons 16:
— Falcons are 0-4; they led one game 26-10 with 7:00 left, led 29-10 at halftime in another game. Coach’s job has to be in jeopardy.
— Atlanta has been outscored 84-46 in second half of games.
— Home side won last seven series games.

— Green Bay won its first four games, scoring 43-42-37-30 points.
— Three of four Packer games went over the total.
— Packers covered eight of last 11 games as a home favorite. 

11) Houston Texans fired coach Bill O’Brien after their 0-4 start; Romeo Crennel is the interim coach. O’Brien had a 52-48 regular season record, with five winning seasons out of seven, but there has long been a power struggle within the Texans about personnel control, so the trade of DeAndre Hopkins, and subsequent 0-4 start, sealed O’Brien’s fate. 

10) Dallas Cowboys’ defense has allowed 15 TD’s on their opponents’ last 37 drives- that’s not good. On the bright side, Dak Prescott is the first NFL player ever to pass for 450+ yards three games in a row. 

9) Can’t remember an NFL game where both teams had 30+ first downs; Cleveland had 33, Dallas 35 in the Browns’ 49-38 win Sunday. 

8) Only two players ever have won an NBA championship with three different teams; Robert Horry, John Salley. Lebron James would become the third if the Lakers win this year.

7) Word of the Day: quisling

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a quisling is “a traitor who collaborates with an enemy force occupying their country.”

The word originated in Norway, where a guy named Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian military officer, politician, and Nazi collaborator in the 1930’s. 

6) Not often a football team runs the ball for 300+ yards, let alone 400+; Kentucky ran it for 407 yards in their 42-41 overtime loss to Ole Miss Saturday. 

On Signing Day next February, when college teams are announcing their new recruits, Ole Miss better have signed a hell of a lot of kids who play defense- they need ‘em. 

5) In 2007, Michigan State’s football team had three QB’s on its roster who started NFL games this weekend: Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins, Nick Foles. 

4) Before Saturday, the last time Oklahoma lost a football game at Iowa State was 1960, a couple months before my first birthday. 

3) Baseball happenings over the last few days:
— Phillies demoted GM Matt Klentak, after the team spent a boatload of $$$ the last few years but never made the playoffs. Philly had the worst bullpen in the majors this year and they failed to re-sign free agent-to-be C JP Realmuto.
— Angels told GM Billy Eppler to take a hike; in five years under Eppler’s watch, the Halos went a combined 332-376 (.469), with no winning seasons, even though the Angels have the best player in baseball on their team. Pitching still matters.
— Washington Nationals fired their pitching coach, who was surprised by the move. 

2) Houston 10, A’s 5:
— Tide turned when Houston scored four unearned runs in top of the 6th.
— Alex Bregman has homered in a playoff game on October 5 four years in a row.
— Weird watching an A’s-Astros game and seeing batboys wearing Dodger uniforms. 

1) New York 9, Tampa Bay 3:
— Cole went six innings, got his first win in eight career starts vs Tampa Bay.
— New York scored 31 runs in its first three playoff games.
— Stanton hit a grand slam in the ninth inning. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a football Sunday

Notes:
— New England-Kansas City game will be Monday at 7pm on CBS; Atlanta-Green Bay game moves back to 8:50pm, on ESPN.
— Sunday, there were 13 touchdowns scored before the first FG was kicked, which is unusual. 

Saints 35, Detroit 29:
— Brees threw an INT on the Saints’ 1st play of the game; the next five times they had the ball: 46 plays, 359 yards, 35 points. 
— New Orleans has been outscored 72-44 in 2nd half of games.
— Saints are 13-4 ATS in last 17 games as a road favorite.

— Detroit led 14-0 after 4:37 of this game.
— Lions are 10-25-1 under Matt Patricia; their last coach was 36-28, and he got fired.
— Detroit is 6-10 ATS in its last 16 games as a home underdog.

Carolina 31, Cardinals 21:
— Murray ran ball for 78 yards, but threw for only 133 yards— Hopkins caught 7 balls, for only 41 yards.
— Arizona was outgained 444-262; Redbirds converted only 3-9 third down plays.
— Cardinals are 3-5ATS in last eight games as a road favorite.

— Carolina’s first four drives: 34 plays, 222 yards, 16 first downs, 21 points.
— Panthers won their last five games with Arizona.
— Carolina is 6-3-1 ATS in last ten games as a home underdog.

Cincinnati 33, Jaguars 25:
— Jaguars lost last three games, allowing 33-31-33 points.
— Jacksonville is 5-9-1 ATS in last 15 games as a road underdog.
— AFC South teams are 3-7 ATS outside their division, 1-5 on road.

— Bengals scored 30-23-33 points in their last three games.
— Cincy has only six plays of 20+ yards in its three games.
— AFC North teams are 8-2-1 ATS outside their division.

Browns 49, Dallas 38:
— On their first seven drives, Browns scored five TD’s, kicked a FG.
— Cleveland won its last three games, scoring 35-34-49 points, first time they’ve scored 30+ points three games in a row since they became a franchise in 1999.
— Browns ran ball for 307 yards, are averaging 207 ypg on ground this season.

— Dallas lost three of first four games; despite scoring 109 points in their last three games.
— Cowboys turned ball over nine times (-8) in last three games- they lost field position by 17-14-9 yards in those games.
— NFC East teams are 2-11-1 ATS outside their division, 0-5 if favored.

Vikings 31, Houston 23:
— Minnesota averaged 9.9 yards/pass attempt, had six plays of 20+ yards.
— Dalvin Cook ran 27 times for 130 yards, two TD’s.
— Minnesota won its last five games with the Texans.

— Houston lost its first four games, giving up 29 ppg.
— Texans’ first three drives: 12 plays, 16 yards, three punts.
— Houston has been outscored 55-36 in the 2nd half of games.

Seahawks 31, Miami 23
— Seattle won all four games, but they’ve given up 27.3 ppg (over 4-0).
— Seahawks have 19 touchdowns on 42 drives; they’re +5 in turnovers.
— Seattle is 7-1-4 ATS in its last 12 games as a road favorite.
— Seahawks won field position all four games, by 6-13-14-9 yards.

— Miami scored six times, but only one of those was a touchdown.
— Seattle wasn’t called for a penalty the whole game.
— Miami is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games vs NFC teams.

Tampa Bay 38, Chargers 31:
— Herbert averaged 10.3 yards/pass attempt, but Chargers are 0-3 in his starts.
— Chargers ran ball for only 46 yards, were outgained 484-324.
— LA’s four games were decided by total of 18 points.
— Chargers actually converted 20-38 on 3rd down in their three losses.

— Tampa Bay won its last three games, scoring 97 points (12 TD’s on 32 drives).
— Buccaneers’ last five drives: 30 plays, 285 yards, four TD’s, one FG
— Tampa Bay is 5-12-3 ATS in its last 20 games as a home favorite.

Ravens 31, Washington 17:
— Ravens are scoring 30.5 ppg  in their 3-1 start this year
—Baltimore is outscoring teams 47-20 in 2nd half of games.
— Ravens are 7-0-1 ATS in last eight games as a road favorite.

— Washington lost its last three games, giving up 95 points, 462 rushing yards.
— Washington has been outscored 75-24 in the first half this season.
— Redskins have converted only 18-54 (33.3%) of third down plays.

LA Rams 17, NJ Giants 9:
— Giants lost their first four games, scoring 11.8 ppg.
— Big Blue was in red zone four times, scored only nine points.
— This year, Giants have only 28 points in ten trips to red zone.
— Giants are 12-3 ATS in last 15 games as a road underdog.

— Rams were held to only 240 yards, but Goff hit a 55-yard TD pass to Kupp on a 3rd down play with 6:56 left, when things were getting dicey.
— LA has outscored opponents 59-23 in second half of games.
— Rams have converted 27-52 third down plays this season.

Colts 19, Chicago 11
— Indy won its last three games, allowing total of 29 points.
— Colts drove 53 yards for a TD on its first drive, didn’t score another TD all day.
— Colts have allowed only 11 plays of 20+ yards in four games.

— Indianapolis had an 11-yard edge in field position.
— Chicago threw the ball 42 times, ran ball 16 times for 28 yards.
— Bears trailed three of their four games at halftime.

Bills 30, Las Vegas 23
— Bills were +2 in turnovers, won field position by 14 yards.
— Buffalo won its first four games, scoring 27-31-35-30 points.
— Bills converted 50%+ of their 3rd down plays in all four games.

— Raiders scored 34-34 points in their wins, 20-23 in their losses.
— Las Vegas turned ball over five times in its last two games (-4).
— All four Raider games went over the total.

Eagles 25, San Francisco 20
— Eagles were outgained 417-267, but were +2 in turnovers.
— Philly scored TD’s 0:08 apart in the 4th quarter, one on defense.
— Eagles are 10-5 ATS in their last 15 games as a road underdog.
— Eagles won five of last six visits to San Francisco.

— 49ers yanked QB Mullens after a 4th quarter pick-6; 3rd-stringer Beathard almost pulled off an amazing comeback.
— 49ers converted 20 of last 36 third down plays.
— SF is 5-12-1 ATS in its last 18 games as a home favorite. 

 

 

 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) New England QB Cam Newton tested positive for COVID; Sunday’s game with the Chiefs has been postponed, without a new date being set. One of the Chiefs’ backup QB’s has apparently also tested positive.

12) There is talk that the NFL may push back the start of their playoffs by a week, eliminate the extra week between conference title games and the Super Bowl to create a Week 18 in the regular season which would become a parking lot for some of these postponed games. 

11) Iowa State 37, Oklahoma 30:
— Sooners lose consecutive regular season games for first time since 1999.
— Oklahoma scored 65 points in its two D-I games, but allowed 38-37 points.
— Cyclones lost at home to Louisiana, then beat TCU/Oklahoma. Go figure.

10) Arkansas 21, Mississippi State 14:
— MSU QB Costello threw for 623 yards last week; he threw three INT’s here, including a pick-6, as Arkansas ended their 20-game SEC losing streak.

9) Ole Miss 42, Kentucky 41 (OT)
— Very fun game to watch; Kentucky’s kicker missed a PAT in overtime.
— Ole Miss QB Corral threw for 320 yards, ran for 51 more.
— Kentucky led this game 28-14 with 10:00 left in third quarter.

8) Tennessee 35, Missouri 12:
— Volunteers have now won eight games in a row, dating back to last year.

7) Upsets of the Day:
— Tulsa (+20.5) 34, Central Florida 26
— Arkansas (+17)  21, Mississippi State 14
— NC State (+14) 30, Pittsburgh 29
— TCU (+10.5) 33, Texas 31
— Iowa State (+7.5) 37, Oklahoma 30
— Air Force (+7) 40, Navy 7
— Ole Miss (+7) 42, Kentucky 41

6) TCU 33, Texas 31:
— Longhorns fumbled on the TCU 1-yard line with 2:44 left.
— Total yardage was 457-388, TCU
— Penalties: TCU 14-109, Texas 12-92

5) West Virginia 27, Baylor 21 OT:
— WVU survived four turnovers (-2), held Baylor 256 total yards.
— Bears lost their fifth straight visit to Morgantown.

4) Virginia Tech 38, Duke 31:
— Tech ran ball for 324 yards, keeping their depleted defense off the field.
— Hokies were missing their top 8 DB’s, their defensive coordinator, their DB’s coach and 13 other players. 

3) NC State 30, Pittsburgh 29:
— Teams combined for 747 passing yards, no turnovers.
— Wolfpack scored the winning TD with 0:23 left.

2) SMU 30, Memphis 27:
— Both teams gained over 500 yards, converted over half their 3rd downs.
— Mustangs threw TD passes of 70-85 yards.
— AAC football is underrated; lot of fun teams to watch.

1) American League playoffs start Monday, in LA/San Diego. National League series start /Tuesday, in Arlington/Houston. 

Saturday’s Den: Random stuff with the weekend here…….

13) This is from the “Whoops” file:

On June 4, 2016, the White Sox traded Erik Johnson and a 17-year old infielder to San Diego, for veteran pitcher James Shields, who went 16-35, 5.31 in 76 starts for Chicago. 

The 17-year old infielder? Fernando Tatis Jr.

Whoops.

12) I like to keep track of how NFL teams do on their first drive of each half; thru three games, these teams are doing the best on their first drive of the game:
— Colts: 34 plays, 210 yards, 14 points
— Rams: 22 plays, 159 yards, 14 points
— Bucs: 15 plays, 101 yards, 14 points.
— Packers: 35 plays, 148 yards, 9 points (3 FG’s in red zone)

To me, teams that thrive on their first drive have coaches who prepare the best during the week. 

11) These teams are doing the best on their first drive of the 2nd half:
— Seahawks: 18 plays, 155 yards, 21 points.
— Patriots: 28 plays, 212 yards, 17 points.
— Packers: 15 plays, 182 yards, 14 points.

Coaches who thrive in this category often make the best halftime adjustments.

10) Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin is only 45, but has a unique resume:
(remember, his dad Monte was Tony Dungy’s DC in Tampa Bay)
1997-98— assistant coach, Fresno State
1999— grad assistant, Colorado State
2000— quality control coach, Jacksonville Jaguars
2001-04— tight ends/WR’s coach, USC
2005-06— offensive coordinator, USC
2007-08— head coach, Oakland Raiders (went 5-15, got fired)
2009— head coach, Tennessee Vols (went 7-6, bolted back to USC)
2010-13— head coach, USC (went 28-15)
2014-16— offensive coordinator, Alabama
2017-19— head coach, Florida Atlantic (went 26-13)
2020— head coach, Ole Miss

9) Wednesday was a very fun day of baseball, eight playoff games over 13 hours, but I’d rather not see 16 teams make the playoffs every year— it cheapens the regular season.

8) By the way, seven AL/NL Central Division teams made the playoffs; those teams went 0-7 in their series, losing 11 of 13 games.

7) Remember actor Terry Kiser, who played Bernie Lomax in the classic movie Weekend at Bernie’s? Back in the day, he went to college at Kansas, on a partial football scholarship.

6) Clayton Kershaw/Mike Mussina hold the major league record for most times in the playoffs (9) without winning a World Series; this year is Kershaw’s 10th year in the postseason.

5) Padres 4, Cardinals 0 (San Diego wins, 2-1):
— 11-9 Thursday, 4-0 here; San Diego wins in different ways.
— Padres used nine different pitchers to post a shutout.
— San Diego-Los Angeles next week……..in Texas.

4) Marlins 2, Cubs 0 (Miami wins, 2-0)
— In their history, Marlins are 7-0 in playoff series.
— Garrett Cooper broke up a scoreless tie with a 7th-inning homer.
— Rookie P Sanchez tossed five scoreless innings.
— Marlins take on Atlanta next.

3) BYU 45, Louisiana Tech 14— Cougars are 3-0, outscoring their three victims by a combined total of 148-24, an average of 49-8. They still have to go to Houston, Boise State, which should be interesting games.

2) Lakers 124, Heat 114 (LA leads series 2-0)
— Miami’s two best players are hurt, so this could be a quick series.
— Anthony Davis had 32 points, 14 rebounds; would be nice if someone on Miami, anyone, would block him out.
— Davis/Lebron James combined to make 29-45 shots.

1) RIP to the great pitcher Bob Gibson, who passed away Friday at age 84; when I was a little kid, the best two pitchers were Gibson and Sandy Koufax— ironically they both went to college on basketball scholarships, Gibson to Creighton, Koufax to Cincinnati. 

In 1968, Gibson 22-9 with a 1.12 (12 shutouts!!!); they lowered the mound that winter.

For his career, Bob Gibson won 251 games, threw 255 complete games, won two Cy Young awards, made eight All-Star Games- he led St Louis to World Series titles in 1964, 1967. A great athlete and competitor. RIP, sir. 

Friday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Thursday

13) From James Logan: This week’s NFL games come with an average over/under of 49.9 points; since 2006, that would be the highest average over/under for any NFL weekend.
48.7- Week 11, 2018
48.2- Week 3, 2020
48.0- Week 10, 2018
47.8- Week 8, 2018
47.7- Week 9, 2018
47.3- Week 5, 2018
47.3- Week 7, 2018
47.1- Week 13, 2018
46.9- Week 11, 2014
46.8- Week 2, 2019

Ironic thing is that in those ten weeks, under wound up going 85-59-1 (59%)

12) Penalties per game are down about 1.5 flags per game over the previous four years; holding calls are down roughly 40%. Another reason for more scoring, higher totals. 

11) Reader named Greg sent me this stat Thursday morning: over last 33 NFL games, if you bet first half totals, over is now 26-7, 16-1 in the last 17 games played. 

Good weather is part of it, but is it easier to run an offense with no crowd noise? Fair question.

10) A’s 6, White Sox 4 (Oakland wins series 2-1)
— 17 pitchers were used in this game; none of them got more than six outs.
— Chicago led 3-0 after third inning.
— A’s win their first playoff series since 2006.
— For season, White Sox wound up 15-0 vs lefty starters, 23-27 vs righties.
— Tim Anderson had nine hits in three games for Chicago.

9) Braves 5, Reds 0 (Atlanta wins series 2-0):
— Cincinnati scored zero runs in 22 innings in this series. Zero. None. Bupkis.
— Rookie Anderson threw six shutout innings for Atlanta.
— Ozuna, Duvall both homered in a 4-run 8th inning.

8) Padres 11, Cardinals 9 (series 1-1):
— St Louis led 4-2 after five innings, before the Padres’ bats exploded.
— Fernando Tatis homered twice, knocked in five runs.
— 17 pitchers were used in this game, too.

7) Dodgers 3, Brewers 0 (LA wins series 2-0)
— Kershaw threw eight shutout innings, struck out 13.
— Milwaukee had a guy picked off first when they were down 3-0 in 8th inning; no bueno.
— At no point this season were the Brewers ever over .500.

6) Sunday’s Steeler-Titans game was postponed until later this season, after more Tennessee players tested positive for COVID.

5) Marlins’ OF Starling Marte broke his pinkie Wednesday; he can still pinch-run or play the field, but he can’t swing a bat for a while.

4) Philadelphia 76ers acted quickly, named Doc Rivers their new head coach. 

3) Week or so ago, New York catcher Gary Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference three times in a 5-game stretch; he is the first major league catcher to do that since Vic Roznovsky of the Cubs, on September 28-29, 1965.

2) Philadelphia Eagles have been outscored 49-16 in second half of games this year.

1) Denver 37, NJ Jets 28:
— McManus drilled a 52-yard FG with 3:08 left for the win.
— Rookie QB Rypien was 19-31/242 in his first NFL start, but he did throw three INT’s.
— AFC West teams are 7-3-1 ATS outside their division.

— Jets had six personal fouls in this game, four in the first half.
— Jets lost their first four games, allowing 32.5 ppg.
— Jets are 6-11-1 ATS in their last 18 home games. 

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud……

13) Sunday’s Steeler-Titans game was postponed from Sunday to either Monday or Tuesday; another Tennessee player tested positive. 

Minnesota Vikings will be back in their facility Thursday; their game with Houston Sunday still appears to be a go.

12) Braves 1, Reds 0 (14) (Atlanta leads, 1-0):
— They’re not using the gimmicky man-on-2nd rule in extra innings in the playoffs.
— This was the first 0-0, extra inning playoff game since Game 6 of the 1997 ALCS between Cleveland-Baltimore.
— Freddie Freeman walked it off with a 14th-inning single.
— Cincinnati left 13 men on base, was 1-12 with RISP. 

11) Pardon me for this rant, but I despise it when ESPN mikes players and talks to them while they’re in the field, 1,000 times moreso during a playoff game. Players need to concentrate; lot of the questions that are asked are mindless/inane, anyway. 

If you want to talk to players, talk to them when they’re in the dugout, not on the field.

10) Astros 3, Twins 1 (Houston wins 2-0):
— Astros went 29-31 in regular season, but they advance here.
— Minnesota got only three hits; they’ve now lost 18 playoff games in a row.
— Rookie Cristian Javier tossed three scoreless innings in relief.

9) A’s 5, White Sox 3 (series 1-1):
— Oakland scored twice in first inning; Dallas Keuchel was one of only two MLB starters this season that didn’t allow a first-inning run (Dinelson Lamet was the other)
— A’s led 5-0 in 8th, then hung on for dear life. Closer Hendriks got five outs, but left with bases loaded in 9th inning- Jake Diekman retired Jose Abreu to end the game.
— Deciding Game 3 is this afternoon in Oakland.

8) One thing about social media, in this case I mean Twitter; lot of fickle people. Everyone who loses should be fired, everyone who wins is the greatest, at least until they lose again.

7) Lakers 116, Miami 98 (LA leads 1-0):
— Game was 64-48 at halftime, and got worse from there.
— LA was +18 on boards (54-36)
— Anthony Davis scored 34 points in 38:00.

6) Dodgers 4, Milwaukee 2 (LA leads 1-0)
— Milwaukee starter Suter walked five batters in 31.2 IP this year; he walked five batters in 1.2 IP here in a dismal performance. His first five batters? A double and four walks. 
— In their 60 regular season games, Dodgers used 56 different lineups.

5) Tampa Bay 8, Toronto 2:
— Rays scored six runs in 2nd inning, chasing Jays’ ace Hyun-Jin Ryu
— Hunter Renfroe hit a grand slam for Tampa Bay.
— Rays advance to play  division rival New York in next round.

4) St Louis 7, San Diego 4 (Cardinals lead 1-0)
— Padres are in a tough spot, with their #1-2 starters both injured.
— Cardinals scored four runs in 1st, led 6-3 after three innings.
— Rookie Dylan Carlson batted cleanup, got on base four times, scored twice. 

3) Congrats to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who earlier this week won the Stanley Cup for the second time. Congrats to the NHL for executing their playoffs in two bubbles (Toronto/Edmonton) and doing it safely.

2) I really dislike the NFL’s 10:00 overtime rule: the team that kicks off is only going to get the ball once. Why not let teams play a full quarter? If you’re only going to play a 10:00 OT, why  have overtime at all and have more tie games?

1) New York 10, Cleveland 9 (New York wins series 2-0)
— Indians scored four runs in 1st, then trailed 6-4/8-6, led 9-8.
— New York scored twice in ninth inning for the win.
— Cleveland pitchers issued 12 walks; hard to win that way.
— New York advances to face Tampa Bay in the next round. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Tennessee Titans had three players, five staff members test positive for COVID; they shut down their facility until Saturday. Minnesota Vikings also shut down their facility until their contact tracing is finished, since they hosted the Titans Sunday. No word yet if this changes this weekend’s schedule at all.

12) NFL teams with the most plays of 20+ yards this season:
19— Buffalo
18— LA Rams
17— Dallas
16— Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota

11) NFL teams with the fewest plays of 20+ yards this season:
6— Cincinnati
7— NJ Jets
8— Carolina
9— NJ Giants, New Orleans, Miami, Tennessee

10) NFL defenses that have allowed the fewest plays of 20+ yards this year:
8— Tampa Bay
9— Jacksonville, LA Rams, LA Chargers
10— Kansas City, NJ Giants

9) NFL defenses that allowed the most plays of 20+ yards this year:
18— Atlanta
15— Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota
14— Detroit, Seattle, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Baltimore

8) Lamar Jackson has started 27 NFL games; the team leading at halftime won every game. Ravens trailed six of those games at the half.

7) Denver Broncos will start their 3rd different QB in four weeks Thursday, when Brett Rypien gets his first NFL start against the Jets in Swamp Stadium.

6) Cincinnati Reds are first major league team EVER to have more walks than singles over the course of a season; Reds walked 239 times, had 221 singles. Granted it was a 60-game season, but that’s a lot of walks, or not a lot of singles.

5) Houston 4, Minnesota 1— Greinke got out of a 30-pitch first inning without allowing a run, but only lasted four innings. Valdez was stellar with five shutout innings of relief, Brantley knocked in a couple run and Minnesota lost its 17th straight playoff game, dating back to 2004.

4) Chicago 4, Oakland 1— Lucas Giolito had a perfect game into the 7th inning; Jose Abreu hit a 2-run homer, as the White Sox won in their first playoff game since 2008. 

Giolito’s grandfather was an actor who played Susan’s father on Seinfeld. 

3) Tampa Bay 3, Toronto 1— Blake Snell allowed three baserunners while throwing 5.2 scoreless innings; Tampa Bay had gotten saves from 12 different pitchers this season, but Fairbanks got this save, and he wasn’t one of those 12 guys. Incredible juggling of a pitching staff.

2) New York 12, Cleveland 3— Shane Bieber picked a bad night to have a bad night; he gave up seven runs over 4.2 IP. New York hit four home runs; they send Tanaka out to the moumd for the two-game sweep Wednesday.

1) The presidential debate was so tedious/annoying last night, I put the WNBA game on- much better to watch. What an embarrassment. Our country desires better than this.