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

13) Philadelphia Eagles signed a guy off of Denver’s practice squad; the guy was going to make $165,000 on the practice squad ($9,200/week). He’s going to make $36,666/week ($660,000 for the year) if he sticks on Philadelphia’s 53-man roster. 

12) Big X is going to expand from 10 to 12 teams, with Texas/Oklahoma leaving, and BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston joining.

West Virginia-Cincinnati basketball games will be interesting, with Bob Huggins coaching against a program he led to the Final Four.

11) Of the 130 quarterbacks who started for I-A college teams last week, 49 of them (37.7%) transferred in from another school.

10) Last two seasons, records in games decided by 8 or fewer points:
Seahawks 18-5
Chargers 7-16. This is why the Chargers have a new coach now.

9) Colleges with most active players on NFL rosters:
53— Alabama
47— Ohio State
43— LSU
35— Georgia
34— Notre Dame
33— Clemson

8) This week, Nelson Cruz became the third player ever to hit 30+ homers after age 40; the other two guys are David Ortiz, Darrell Evans.

7) Seattle 8, Houston 5— Mariners scored four runs in 9th, are 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card slot.

6) Baltimore 9, Kansas City 8— Royals led 5-0 in bottom of 8th; Orioles scored nine times in bottom of 8th, then held on for dear life in the 9th. Baltimore is a bad baseball team, but they can score some runs.

5) San Francisco 7, Colorado 4— Giants scored four times in 9th, grabbed a 2-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West.

4) Cubs 4, Reds 1 (10)— Jason Heyward hit a walk-off homer for the Cubs, dropping Cincinnati out of tie with San Diego for the second Wild Card slot. Cubs are playing well right now.

3) Was pretty cool to see Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame inductions Wednesday.

2) We were debating Wednesday on future Hall of Famers and a New York City debate broke out: was Don Mattingly or Keith Hernandez the better first baseman?

I don’t think either one should/will make it into the Hall of Fame, but to me, Mattingly was clearly the better player and if you know me and my dislike of the Bronx Bombers, that emphasizes my opinion.

1) When your name is Biff and you love baseball and you’re 15 and a catcher named Biff shows up in the big leagues, he quickly becomes a hero. I have a signed post card of Biff Pocoroba on the shelf in my living room, right next to ones from Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers.

Johnny Bench narrated a tribute video for the baseball Hall of Famers who passed away in the last year. Lot of big names passed away, very sad. One of the Hall of Famers they showed was the great knuckleballer Phil Niekro— in two of his clips, the Braves’ catcher was #4, which got me pretty excited. 

Biff Pocoroba was shown in a video at the Hall of Fame inductions; TWICE- tremendous!!!! 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

 13) Dodgers-Giants was ESPN’s Sunday night game, maybe the two best teams in baseball. For some unknown reason, both teams had day games on Labor Day, both on the road.

How stupid is this? MLB only had two night games Monday, in Houston/Anaheim; they couldn’t put Dodgers/Giants in Monday night games, then showcase them on TV?

You want to showcase your best teams. Weird thing is both teams won on Monday anyway. 

12) It has been 20 years since an AFC team got to the Super Bowl with preseason odds higher than 10-1; this year’s AFC teams that are 10-1 or lower:
5-2— Kansas City
5-1— Buffalo
6-1— Baltimore
8-1— Cleveland
10-1— New England

11) Angels 4, Padres 0:
— Blake Snell took another no-hitter into 7th inning, but only hit he gave up scored two runs as four Angel hurlers blanked the struggling Padres.
— In his last three starts, Snell has allowed 4 hits, 3 runs in 21.1 IP, but San Diego lost two of the three games. 
— San Diego is 7-16 in its last 23 games.

10) MLB needs to mike the umpires, so they can explain replay reviews to fans in the stands; Lord knows the NFL has done it for decades. It is good business. At least mike the crew chief, so he can clear up any confusion about unusual plays.

9) Going into Tuesday’s play, Dodgers/Rays led the two leagues in runs scored- both teams were hitting .241 for the season, the lowest batting average for league leaders in runs since the 1968 Detroit Tigers.

They lowered the mound after pitching-dominated 1968; hopefully there will be several changes to next year’s rules, to increase offense in the game.

8) Atlanta Braves signed P Charlie Morton to a one-year, $20M deal for next year; he will be 38 next year. Braves have a team option to sign for Morton for 2023.

7) Dallas Cowboys have 36 new players on their roster this year; that’s a lot.

6) Astros 5, Mariners 4:
— Alex Bregman tied the game with a 9th-inning homer.
— Carlos Correa walked it off with a 10th-inning double.

5) Toronto 5, New York 1:
— Gerrit Cole left his start Tuesday with a hamstring issue; Bronx is 2-8 in last ten games.
— Blue Jays are only two games out of the playoff picture.

4) NBA’s Detroit Pistons totally overhauled their roster; their longest-tenured player is Killian Hayes, who has played only 26 games for Detroit.

3) Kentucky Wildcats got a commitment from five-star recruit Shaedon Sharpe, the #1 recruit in country; it is first time in 10 years John Calipari signed the #1 recruit in America.

2) I can’t stand the Nick Saban AFLAC commercials that take over college football games during timeouts. Saban is always bland/standoffish when doing interviews on regular TV, but pay him to do an insurance commercial, and he is Mr Happy. Yeah, sure.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: SD/Cin @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

Tuesday’s Den: Wrapping up Labor Day weekend

13) Rays 11, Red Sox 10 (10)
— Boston led 7-1 after two innings.
— Austin Meadows tied game with an inside/park homer in 9th inning, first time that happened in major leagues since 2008 (Mark Teahen).
— Red Sox have 11 guys on the COVID list; because of that, they’re basically only MLB team working with a 40-man roster right now- they added SS Jose Iglesias, recently dropped by the Angels. 

12) Ole Miss 43, Louisville 24:
— When the Louisville coach publicly criticizes his QB to a reporter at halftime, it isn’t good.
— ABC TV crew spent lot of 4th quarter talking about their dogs; this was a bad game.

Terrible job by MLB, by the way; only two major league games on Labor Day night?

11) This weekend, an average of 52.3 ppg were scored in I-A college football games, the lowest total for Labor Day weekend since 2009.

10) Giants 10, Rockies 5:
— Giants over/under win total this spring was 75.5; they’re 88-50 after this game.

9) Nationals 4, Mets 3:
— Washington scored twice in 9th for an unlikely win.
— 10 of Mets’ last 11 games were decided by one run.

8) An ex-Patriots player was quoted Monday as saying that rookie QB Mac Jones was tutoring Cam Newton on learning New England’s offense this summer, which may help explain why Newton is no longer on the Patriots.

7) Houston Texans named Tyrod Taylor (24-21-1 as an NFL starter) as their #1 QB for their game with Jacksonville Sunday. Deshaun Watson will be on the roster, but isn’t expected to be active; rookie Davis Mills is supposed to be Houston’s #2 QB.

6) Bad news for the Minnesota Gophers; star RB Mo Ibrahim will miss the rest of the season because of a leg injury he suffered against Ohio State. Ibrahim rushed 30 times for 163 yards before the injury.

5) Mentioned yesterday that UConn football coach Randy Edsall announced he’ll retire after the season; the school overruled him Monday— Edsall is gone immediately, after Huskies started the season 0-2, with a horrible loss to Holy Cross.

4) Over last seven weeks, St Louis Cardinals are 2-10 in games where the winning run scored in last three innings. Despite, St Louis is only 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot.

3) Royals’ 3B Hanser Alberto has batted 221 times this year; he’s walked TWICE. Twice. He walked five times in 224 PA’s last year. Not good.

2) Not only did I-AA Montana upset Washington Saturday, the Griz took home a $650,000 guarantee check for their trip to Washington.

1) Wild Card races:
NL: Los Angeles, San Diego
— Reds are a game behind San Diego, Phillies two games behind.
— Cardinals are 3.5 games behind, Mets 4.5 games.

AL: New York, Boston
— Toronto, Seattle are 3 games behind
— A’s are 3.5 games behind

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Sunday, there was lot of action in late innings:
— Mets scored 6 runs in 9th inning
— Milwaukee scored 5 runs in 9th inning
— Cleveland scored 5 runs in 9th inning
— Seattle scored 7 runs in 11th inning. 

Sunday was first day since 1940 that four teams scored 5+ runs in 9th inning or later. 

12) Notre Dame 41, Florida State 38 (OT)
— FSU outscored Notre Dame 18-0 in 4th quarter to force OT
— Seminoles’ kicker missed a 38-yard FG in OT.
— FSU QB Milton came off bench to spark the rally; he hadn’t played in over two years, since a severe leg injury while he played for Central Florida.

11) Zeb Noland played QB for South Carolina Saturday; he threw four TD passes in Carolina’s win over a I-AA team Saturday, but here’s the thing: Noland is supposed to be a graduate assistant coach this year, not a player. But he played well Saturday.

The kid who is supposed to be the Gamecocks’ QB is hurt; the backup isfrom a I-AA school, so Noland got the nod to start- he played previously at Iowa State, North Dakota State.

10) Dallas Cowboys star G Zack Martin has COVID, is out for this week’s game in Tampa.

9) Big Sky football teams went 8-0 ATS vs I-A teams this weekend; seven of the eight teams were underdogs of 19+ points. Eastern Washington covered as a small favorite at UNLV.

8) Detroit took young pitcher Casey Mize out Sunday after three IP, 34 PT- they’re just trying to preserve his arm for next year. Several teams are doing this, trying to keep their guys healthy heading into the offseason.

7) Brewers 6, Cardinals 5— Daniel Vogelbach with a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam.

6) Chicago White Sox are 6-7-2 in their last 15 series; they were 16-7-6 in their first 29 series.

5) Last week, Adam Wainwright started his 300th career game with Yadier Molina behind the plate; that’s the 4th-most starts for one battery in MLB history.

Mickey Lolich threw 324 games with Bill Freehan behind the plate; they hold the record.

4) Here is some guarantee money visiting teams got this weekend:
$1.9M— Kent State @ Texas A&M
$1.8M— Akron @ Auburn
$1.685M— UL-Monroe @ Kentucky
$1.55M—- Florida Atlantic @ Florida

Losing can be profitable.

3) Clemson lost Saturday night without allowing an offensive TD; last time they did that was 1983, when they also lost to Georgia, whose only TD came on a blocked punt.

2) Today is Labor Day, and one college football coach has already announced his retirement. UConn’s Randy Edsall is gone after this season. Huskies’ football program is a mess; they’ll be looking for a head coach with New England recruiting ties.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today: (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants Wild Card: San Diego @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ Bronx

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) Oklahoma 40, Tulane 35:
— Sooners led 37-14 at halftime.
— Tulane had ball at midfield near end of game, but went out on downs.
— Green Wave QB Pratt threw for 296 yards, three TD’s.
— This game was originally supposed to be played in New Orleans.
— Tulane hasn’t beaten a top 10 team since 1973. 

12) Mississippi State 35, Louisiana Tech 34:
— Tech led 34-14 in fourth quarter; they missed 46-yard FG on last play.
— MSU QB Rogers threw for 370 yards and game-winning TD with 3:37 left.

11) Georgia 10, Clemson 3:
— Only TD of game was scored by Georgia’s defense.
— Total yardage was 256-180, Georgia. For the whole game.

10) UCLA 38, LSU 27
— UCLA completed only nine passes, but for 260 yards.
— Rushing yardage: 210-48, UCLA
— This was LSU’s 2nd-ever game in California- they played USC in 1984.

9) Alabama 44, Miami 13:
— Crimson Tide is 9-2 ATS in last 11 games as a favorite.
— Alabama outgained the Hurricanes, 501-266.

8) Penn State 16, Wisconsin 10:
— Game was scoreless at halftime.
— Badgers turned ball over three times, were 7-22 on third down.
— Penn State ran ball 18 times for only 50 yards.

7) Iowa 34, Indiana 6:
— Hawkeyes had two pick-6’s in first half; they were up 31-3 at half.

6) Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin will miss Monday night’s game with Louisville after testing positive for COVID.

5) Why is Nebraska playing Fordham in football?

4) Oregon 31, Fresno State 24:
— Bulldogs led in 4th quarter; Oregon scored last 10 points of game.
— Total yardage was 373-358, Fresno; they were minus-2 in turnovers.

3) Bad losses:
— Montana 13, Washington 7
— East Tennessee State 23, Vanderbilt 3
— Northern Illinois (+19) 22, Georgia Tech 21
— Tex-San Antonio (+4.5) 37, Illinois 30
— Holy Cross 38, UConn 28

2) Narrow escapes:
— Wyoming 19, Montana State 16
— Iowa State 16, Northern Iowa 10
— Oklahoma State 23, Missouri State 16

1) Michigan transfer Ren Helfen threw 10 TD passes for Presbyterian in their 84-43 win over St Andrew’s. His backup also threw two TD’s. Must be nice to be a I-AA team with a QB who played at Michigan. 

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a summer Friday night

13) Virginia Tech 17, North Carolina 10:
— Hokies (+6) held UNC QB Howell to 208 PY, picked off 3 of his passes.
— Tech held Tar Heels scoreless in first half. 

12) Michigan State 38, Northwestern 21:
— Spartans ran ball for 326 yards; Walker had 264 himself.

11) Charlotte 31, Duke 28:
— 49ers scored winning TD with 0:33 left, after Duke scored with 1:44 left.
— Duke ran ball for 352 yards, outgained Charlotte 580-478.

10) South Dakota State 42, Colorado State 23:
— Bad loss for Rams and Mountain West Conference. Jackrabbits are a I-AA team

9) Toronto 11, A’s 10— I’ve been an A’s fan since 1965, when I was five years old; long time. This is the worst, most catastrophic loss I can remember. A’s led 8-2 in 8th inning; if you’re a playoff team, you don’t blow 8-2 leads in the 8th inning in September. Right now, their bullpen is a dumpster fire, a total disaster.

8) Major league teams that shift the most defensively: Dodgers/Mets. Last year, Atlanta shifted the least, but this year, they’re #3 in shifts.

7) Mariners 6, Arizona 5 (10):
— Seattle improves to 12-5 in extra innings.

6) Giants 3, Dodgers 2 (11):
— Trea Turner’s throwing error allowed winning run to score.
— Giants take over first place in NL West.
— These teams will both be in the playoffs, but they’re jockeying to avoid playing in that one-game play-in Wild Card game.

5) Astros 6, Padres 3:
— Big night for St Louis, which gained ground on Reds/Padres in Wild Card race.

4) Mets 6, Washington 2 (10):
— Mets went 2-13 during their Dodger/Giant stretch, now they’re 5-1 in 16-game Washington/Miami stretch.

3) Angels 3, Rangers 2— Pedro Martinez was on MLB Network couple days ago, claiming that the Angels are helping Shohei Ohtani avoid pitching against the better teams, to make his record look better. Interesting thing for a Hall of Famer to say.

2) I’m hoping Boise State-Central Florida becomes an annual rivalry game; that was a fun game to watch Thursday night.

1) There have been some people besmirching Bill Belichick’s record since Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl last winter; Belichick has won six Super Bowls as a head coach, couple more as an assistant with the Giants. He is one of the three or four best coaches, ever.

But there is this set of facts:
— Belichick’s record with Brady at QB: 219-64 regular season, 30-11 playoffs
— Belichick’s record without Brady at QB: 61-72 regular season, 1-1 playoffs

Friday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Thursday night

13) Central Florida 36, Boise State 31:
— Start of game was delayed two hours by lightning; it ended at 1:25am
— Boise had a 100-yard pick-6, led 21-0 early in 2nd quarter.
— UCF outgained Boise 573-283, converted 10-17 on 3rd down.
— Knights scored winning TD with 4:16 left to play. 

12) Ohio State 45, Minnesota 31:
— Gophers led 21-17 midway thru third quarter.
— Ohio State scored TD’s on plays of: 71-38-56-70-61 yards. Explosive.

11)  Utah 40, Weber State 17— Kid named Shaheen on Weber State ran a kick back for a TD, the 6th time he’s done that in college— he’ll play on Sundays someday.

10) Early season bad losses:
— Cal-Davis 19, Tulsa 17
— Eastern Washington 35, UNLV 33 OT

Losing to I-AA teams isn’t good.

9) Temple-Rutgers game was pushed back to Saturday, because of all the rain.

8) Wednesday night, they had 3.15 inches of rain in Manhattan, in an hour!!!! Most rain ever recorded in one day in NYC.

7) Phillies 7, Nationals 6:
— Washington led 6-0 after five innings.
— Phillies won 6th game in row, are 2 games out of first in NL East.

6) Nationals’ pitcher named Alberto Baldonado pitched a scoreless inning in his MLB debut, after pitching in the minor leagues for 11 years— imagine how excited he must’ve been!!!

5) Cubs 6, Pirates 5 (11)— Second baseman for Pirates dropped a simple pop-up on the infield dirt which allowed the winning run to score. Just an awful way to lose.

4) Mets acquired lefty reliever Brad Hand off waivers after Toronto dumped him- they had acquired him from Washington at the trade deadline.

3) With Texas/Oklahoma bolting the Big X, rumor is that the league is looking at adding four teams: BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Houston.

2) Supposedly Dak Prescott is good to go next week in Tampa, but he hasn’t played in a game of any kind since Week 5 of last year; you have to wonder about his conditioning. I’m assuming his shoulder is fine, if they’re letting him play.

1) Couple weeks ago, I complained about the Subway sub shop near my house not taking coupons that they mail out; was at the bank near that Subway yesterday— it is now closed permanently. Several smaller businesses in that area have closed; no bueno. 

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

13) With COVID still hovering around our country, NFL needs to put in a rule where every team has three QB’s active every week. Lot of teams only have two QB’s active; if one tests positive for COVID, then you’re in a situation where an injury leaves a team without a QB and that would be a killer for the quality of the product you’re putting on TV every week. 

12) Packers-Saints Week 1 was moved to Jacksonville, due to all the damage done in the New Orleans area. After Hurricane Katrina, Saints played their home games in San Antonio.

11) Tulane will play home football games at Legion Field in Birmingham, AL.

10) MLB sources are saying Dodgers’ P Trevor Bauer could eventually be facing a suspension of up to a year, once all this legal wrangling is over with. He’s getting paid while on administrative leave now- he makes $28M a year.

I’m in a 14-team dynasty fantasy league and Bauer got cut today- no one’s picked him up.

9) Rockies 9, Rangers 5:
— Colorado scored five runs in 9th inning, had only one hit.
— Texas committed 4 errors in last inning, also issued two walks.

8) Mets’ acting GM Zack Scott got pulled over for DUI Monday night, coming home from a party at the Connecticut home of Mets’ owner Steve Cohen. 

Scott is Mets’ acting GM because the last GM got fired for harassing female reporters.

Oy.

7) Seattle Mariners announced multi-year contract extensions for GM Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais, so ownership is happy with their team’s progress. Servais is a very good manager.

Mariners 1, Astros 0— Seattle shuts Houston out for second day in row; former Astro Abraham Toro drove in the only run.

6) Because of vaccine requirements in New York City, San Francisco, players for Knicks, Nets and Warriors will have to be vaccinated, or else they’ll be ineligible to play home games next season.

5) NBA’s Atlanta Hawks signed Clint Capela to a 2-year, $46M extension.

4) Dallas Cowboys claimed QB Will Grier from Carolina; they’re looking to upgrade over their current backup QB’s.

3) Dodgers 4, Braves 3— LA is in first place for first time since April 28.

2) Reds/Cardinals split a twinbill; they both gained a half-game on San Diego, which lost 8-3 in Arizona.

1) Red Sox 3, Rays 2— Jarren Duran knocked in the game-winning run in last inning; Boston picks up a game on the A’s, who lost 8-6 in Detroit. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) New England Patriots cut QB Cam Newton, will start rookie QB Mac Jones in Week 1 against the division rival Dolphins. 

12) Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said that Jacksonville factored whether or not players were vaccinated for COVID-19 into final roster decisions. The NFLPA isn’t pleased about this. Is this a surprise, or is it only a surprise that Meyer admitted it?

11) Mariners 4, Astros 0:
— Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto took lot of grief on July 27, when he traded reliever Kendall Graveman to Seattle for IF Abraham Toro.
— Last night, Toro hit a grand slam off Graveman in the 8th inning. I’m guessing Jerry DiPoto enjoyed a cold drink after that one.

10) Padres 3, Angels 0:
— Blake Snell threw 7 no-hit innings, 107 pitches, his second consecutive great start.

9) Mets 6-3, Marlins 5-1:
— Mets scored five runs in bottom of the 9th to win the conclusion of the suspended game

8) Despite rumors to the contrary, Houston has QB Deshaun Watson on its 53-man roster. Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills are Houston’s other two QB’s.

Miami coach Brian Flores had to stress to the media that Tua Tagovailoa is still the Dolphins’ QB. Lot of rumors that Houston will trade Watson to Miami.

7) QB Josh Rosen made the Falcons’ 53-man roster; they acquired him in a trade with the 49ers last week.

6) Jets have only two tight ends on their roster; will they trade for Eagles’ TE Zach Ertz?

5) Titans’ QB Ryan Tannehill is still on the COVID list.

4) Eight of the Chiefs’ 11 offensive linemen weren’t on the team last year.

3) Last year, Baltimore used four QB’s for injury/COVID reasons; right now, Tyler Huntley is the only other QB on the roster, behind starter Lamar Jackson.

2) 76ers’ G Ben Simmons wants Philly to trade him; will be curious to see what they get for him. Simmons is a gifted passer, good defender, but he can’t/won’t shoot- he is shooting 59.7% for his career on the foul line. In four years, he is 5-34 behind the arc.

1) Wild Card races:
NL Wild Card #2:
— Reds, Padres tied
— Cardinals, Phillies 2.5 games behind

AL Wild Cards:
— New York 76-56
— Boston 2 games behind
— Oakland 3 games behind
— Seattle 5.5 games behind

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

13) Back in my college days, I had a summer job in an office; they hired six of us for the summer. At the end of the summer, you handed in a letter of resignation and went back to school.

One of the guys I worked with didn’t know about the whole letter of resignation thing; he thought we were kidding him, but we got down to the last afternoon and he hadn’t done it yet.

Finally he heard enough about the resignation letter; he goes over to a desk, rips a page out of a looseleaf notebook, takes a Sharpie and writes “I QUIT!!!!” in very large letters and signs it, as he makes his final exit from the office, throwing the letter on our boss’s desk.

Somewhere in the archives of New York State, that letter is still in a box somewhere. 

12) Colorado Rockies’ SS Trevor Story is a free agent this winter; he’s going to get a big contract from someone. Story grew up in Irving, TX, right near where the Texas Rangers play.

Rockies are visiting Dallas this week; I always wonder if any little conversations take place during trips this week, with Texas people trying to recruit Story to hop aboard next year.

He hit two homers for Colorado last night; if the Rangers aren’t interested, they should be.

11) QB Kyle Shurmur was 18-27/206 for the Bengals Sunday, in their 29-26 home loss to the Dolphins. Shurmur played college ball at Vanderbilt; his dad is Pat Shurmur, former coach of the Giants, and now Denver’s offensive coordinator.

Bengals visit Denver December 19; Pat Shurmur visits his old team next week when the Broncos open the 2021 season against the Giants.

10) 49ers’ rookie QB Trey Lance chipped a bone in his hand, will be out for a week, making it look like Jimmy Garoppolo will start the 49ers’ opener in Detroit.

9) 49ers open their season in Detroit, then they’ll spend the week at Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, staying east before they visit the Eagles in Week 2. 

Long road trip to start the season; both their opponents have first-time head coaches.

8) Shohei Ohtani was supposed to pitch for the Angels tonight, but his start got pushed back after the was hit on the pitching hand while batting over the weekend.

7) Oklahoma was actually going to start its football season at Tulane, but because of the horrific hurricane, the game will now be played in Norman. 

Tulane moved its athletic department’s offices to Birmingham, AL

6) Tennessee coach Josh Heupel announced that QB Joe Milton would start for the Volunteers in their opener vs Bowling Green Thursday. Milton is a transfer from Michigan.

5) Pittsburgh Pirates fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein Monday; must be his fault the Pirates are a terrible team. Pirates did have a guy leading the majors in hits (Adam Frazier) but they gave him away to San Diego. I’m guessing Eckstein didn’t make that trade.

4) If you have Showtime, the great series Billions resumes Sunday night; it got interrupted during Season 5 when the pandemic happened.

3) Kirby Puckett is the only modern major leaguer who had two games with six hits; another guy did it over 100 years ago.

2) During the winter here in New York, I complain a lot about the 10-12 days when it snows a lot here, how it messes everything up. Snow sucks, but then you see the incredible destruction from the hurricane in Louisiana, and snow doesn’t seem so bad.

1) Today is cutdown day in the NFL; 864 players are going to lose their jobs, many of them to be signed to practice squads, or with other teams. Very busy day for NFL front offices; the cruddy teams will try to add players the better teams cut, to bolster their roster. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Javier Baez is making $11,600,000 this season; he’s been on the Mets for a month, playing in 17 games but he went out of his way to create one of the biggest PR debacles in quite some time this weekend. He is a free agent after the season, which may now be a problem for him.

Baez said this to the media Sunday: “To let them know when we don’t get success, we’re going to get booed. So they’re going to get booed when we have success” basically giving the finger to fans who express displeasure when things don’t go too well. You make $11M a year to play ball, the paying customers will run their mouths when things don’t go well.

New York Post used the term “colossal mistake”
Back page of the NY Daily News: “Mets: Go to hell, fans!”

Alrighty then; enjoy the rest of the season. 

12) Not sure what Urban Meyer is thinking about, but he played his starting QB in an exhibition game Sunday, when five of his top six offensive linemen didn’t play. Trevor Lawrence didn’t get hurt, but what’s the point? Is the experience in a preseason game that valuable?

If Lawrence gets hurt in a game like that, it is a complete disaster, seeing how they just traded his backup to Philadelphia. Keeping Lawrtence healthy should be job #1, for both winning games and selling tickets. 

11) There were murmurs this weekend that Miami Dolphins are interested in acquiring Deshaun Watson from Houston; there were other rumors that the Texans are asking for three first round picks and two second round picks, pretty steep price for a guy with lot of legal issues pending.

10) Here is a hint on NFL preseason games: some teams try to win, some teams could care less about them- they mean nothing, as far as handicapping Week 1 regular season games.

9) Pirates 4, Cardinals 3— Yoshi Tsutsugo hit a walk-off three-run homer.

8) Marlins 2, Reds 1— Jesus Luzardo had his best start for Miami, with a lot of help from the home plate umpire Edwin Moscoso, who called strikes like he had a cab outside the stadium with the meter running.

Reds’ 3B Eugenio Suarez, Reds’ skipper David Bell both got tossed; Joey Votto damn near got tossed, too.

7) A’s 3, New York 1— Tony Kemp hit a 2-run homer in bottom of the 8th, as Oakland earned a split of the four-game series. Paul Blackburn has done a solid job for the A’s subbing for the injured Chris Bassitt, who broke his cheekbone when he got hit by a line drive few weeks ago.

6) Tampa Bay is 82-48, has a 6-game lead in AL East, but the gravy train is over— no more games with the Orioles- they went 18-1 vs Baltimore this season. They have seven games left with Boston, three each with Houston/Bronx, and a 13-game stretch vs Detroit/Toronto.

5) What are the Dodgers doing? They used 3B Justin Turner to pitch the 9th inning Sunday, in a game they trailed only 5-0. Turner gave up two hits but no runs; LA is using a 2-man starting rotation, going with bullpen games the rest of the time. The Trevor Bauer situation is screwing up their pitching plans.

4) Couple of long playoff droughts in the NFL:
— Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990.
— Lions haven’t won a playoff game since 1991.

3) 3:00 Sunday I’m watching baseball- the screens go blank; no games on the baseball package, just blank screens. I call DirecTV’s help desk and get a guy who is struggling badly with English, which makes sense since it turns out he was in the Phillipines.

I explain the situation but I’m not sure he has any idea what I’m talking about; after 20 minutes of this jocularity, he decides to transfer me to a co-worker, who probably isn’t much better at English. Mercifully, the screens came back on and I thanked him, not sure for what.

2) RIP to the great actor Ed Asner, who passed away this weekend at age 91; he is best known as Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show— he then took that character and transferred it into a dramatic series (Lou Grant) based on a newspaper in Los Angeles.

RIP, sir.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Illinois (+10) 30, Nebraska 22— When your team’s coach is on the hot seat before Labor Day, that’s not good, but that is where Nebraska’s Scott Frost is after this loss. Nebraska is now 16-29 SU in its last 45 games.

Solid start for Bret Bielema with the Illini; his defense scored a TD just before halftime, a lead they never relinquished. 

12) Fresno State 45, UConn 0— Huskies appear to be something of an expansion team; they didn’t play any games last year- they were outgained 538-107 on this very hot day, with kickoff before noon local time. Why didn’t the TV folks put this game on at night?

11) UCLA 44, Hawai’i 10— Bruins host LSU next week, which will be a much truer test of their team. This game was 31-3 at halftime; UCLA ran ball for 244 yards, threw for only 148.

10) LSU’s football team got out of Baton Rouge ahead of the hurricane; they’ll be staying in Houston for the next six days, before they head to Los Angeles to play the Bruins.

9) UTEP 30, New Mexico State 3— Miners averaged 12.5 yards/pass attempt; first two times they threw the ball, they gained 50+ yards both times— one was called back by a holding penalty. Let’s just say that New Mexico State has almost no experience; they completed only 9-33 passes for the game.

8) Jacksonville Jaguars traded QB Gardner Minshew to the Eagles for a 6th-round pick; the backup to rookie QB Trevor Lawrence is now CJ Beathard, who used to play for the 49ers.

7) Ravens 37, Washington 3— Baltimore wins their 20th straight preseason game; they’re 12-3 ATS in last fifteen. This streak goes back so far that Kyle Boller played QB for the Ravens in some of those games.

6) Shohei Ohtani stole his 20th base this weekend; he has 40 homers, 20 steals, and is 8-1, 3.00 in 19 starts on the mound. No one has ever done stuff like this before.

5) Houston Astros picked up old friend Marwin Gonzalez after Boston dumped him; he is a versatile guy who hit only .211 last year, .202 this year, but he hit .264 in seven years with the Astros (2012-18).

4) Marlins’ TV posted this stat last night; players on 40-man rosters from other countries:
136—- Dominican Republic
104— Venezuela
31— Cuba

3) Was watching a Billions marathon Saturday night; am reminded that hedge fund trader Bobby Axelrod’s character was modeled after Mets owner Steve Cohen. Then I read the Mets have lost their last eight one-run games and I wonder if the Mets miss the playoffs, who will their new manager be?

If Cohen is anything like Bobby Axelrod and Mets miss the playoffs, Luis Rojas is toast.

2) By the way, the Mets retired Jerry Koosman’s #36 Saturday night; he was the Mets’ #2 pitcher during the Tom Seaver era, when they won the ’69 Series, lost the ’73 Series. Very good pitcher, great honor.

When are the Mets going to retire Dwight Gooden’s #16? He was the Seaver of his era, leading the Mets to the ’86 World Series title and ’88 playoffs. He had some personal problems off the field, but so did Koosman. Gooden’s work on the field was tremendous.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

Saturday’s Den: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) Royals 8, Mariners 7:
— Salvador Perez hit a grand slam, his 36th homer this year.
— He already has 90 RBI, 10 more than any other season in his career.
— Seattle falls to 26-15 in one-run games. 

12) White Sox 17, Cubs 13:
— Cubs scored six in top of the first, didn’t come close to winning. They’re awful.

Baseball’s commish needs to have a chat with the Cubs’ owner; it is complete BS and a horrible look for the sport that one of their marquee franchises (their TV network is called the Marquee Network) is completely in the tank- they’re a AAA-quality team.

What chance do the Cubs have of being any better next year? The year after? They’re not the A’s, Pirates or Rays; they’re in a freakin’ big market, have a lot of cash to spend.

11) Rays 6, Orioles 3— Tampa Bay is 16-1 vs Baltimore this season.

10) Tigers 2, Blue Jays 1— Pinch-hitter Victor Reyes hit an inside-the-park homer for the game-winning run in the 8th inning for Detroit.

9) Because the minor leagues started late this year, they will also end later; rosters will expand next week, but only to 28 players, not the 40-man limit like it used to be.

8) Cincinnati Reds acquired utility guy Asdrubel Cabrera on waivers from Arizona, adding a lefty bat and putting Moustakas/Suarez’ jobs at jeopardy at the hot corner. Of course Moustakas then hit a homer for the Reds last night. Losing your job is usually good motivation.

7) Jim Furyk is the only pro golfer to break 60 twice in tournament play; he even shot a 58 at the 2016 Travelers Championship.

6) Pac-12 isn’t going to expand, which opens the door for the Big X to add two teams to its current 8-team league (Texas/Oklahoma are leaving).

Do they look east, to Cincinnati/UCF or maybe even Houston, or do they look west and poach UNLV and Brigham Young? UNLV plays in brand-new Alliance Stadium now; their program should perk up.

5) Louisville’s basketball team suspended coach Chris Mack for six games as the result of an ugly incident where Mack wanted to fire an assistant coach, who then tried to extort money from the head coach or else he would provide evidence of recruiting violations by the Cardinals.

The suspension will cost Mack roughly $221,000.

4) Southwest Airlines lost 1,000 flight attendants to early retirement during the pandemic, now they’re short-staffed, as they try and get back to a regular schedule. I’m supposed to go to Las Vegas this fall, but if they keep jerking around my schedule, I’m going to change plans— they’ve switched my flights 6 or 7 times already.

3) Saturday’s Cardinals-Saints preseason game was cancelled because of the looming hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

2) Jets 31, Eagles 31— Jets scored on a 49-yard Hail Mary on the last play, then tied the game with a 2-point play- there is no overtime in preseason. Rookie QB James Morgan threw the pass.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with weekend here……..

13) San Diego Padres have lost 12 of their last 14 games; they just got swept at home by the Dodgers, scoring a total of five runs. Padres are now two games out of the second Wild Card slot. 

Blake Snell pitched his heart out in Wednesday night’s loss; he threw 122 pitches, by far most he’s thrown in the majors. He lasted 7.1 IP, also a career high, but Will Smith hit his 115th pitch over the fence to tie the game and set off one of the most unusual baseball games in recent history— it went 16 innings, didn’t end until 3:59am Thursday morning here in New York.

Will be interesting to track Snell going forward; will they give him extra rest before his next start? Does he just try harder against the Dodgers? We’ll find out. 

12) San Diego manager Jayce Tingler looked like a scrub in this game; he went thru his bench players very quickly, so much so that the Dodgers intentionally walked consecutive hitters to load the bases, to bring up the pitcher’s spot- Padres had no pinch hitters left.

11) Los Angeles Angels had to be happy as hell to get home Thursday night; they just finished a very unusual 5-city road trip, which rarely happens these days:
— They played a makeup game in the Bronx.
— They swept three games in Detroit.
— They lost 9-1/5-1 in Cleveland
— They went to Williamsport, PA and lost 3-0 to Cleveland there.
— Then they lost two of three at woeful Baltimore.

10) Read a magazine article this week about Rams’ QB Matthew Stafford, how he has an endorsement deal and had to sign 1,500 pieces of memorabilia as part of his deal. Rams’ WR Cooper Kupp was there too; I can’t imagine writing my name 1,500 times in one afternoon.

9) Phillies’ 1B Rhys Hoskins tore an abdominal muscle, is out for the year. Phillies have lost eight of their last ten games, are sliding out of playoff contention.

8) Players who have led/co-led the most rounds on PGA Tour this year:
12— Sam Burns
9— Jordan Spieth
8— Jon Rahm, Harris English

7) Tennessee Titans’ QB Ryan Tannehill is on the COVID list; going to be a dicey situation if he doesn’t get off that list fairly soon. Tennessee’s backup QB is Logan Woodside, who has never started an NFL game.

6) Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale struck out the side on 9 pitches in the 3rd inning Thursday, the 104th Immaculate Inning in MLB history- it is the third time Sale has done it.

5) Chick-fil-A has popped up as a sponsor on Mets’ TV games, raising my hopes that they’re going to become more of a presence here in New York State. There is a Chick-fil-A in the Albany airport, but you have to go thru security to get to it. 

Could use one close to my house (Wolf Rd, Central Ave……hint……)

4) Colorado 2B Brendan Rodgers has 10 homers this year; only two of them are at Coors Field, which doesn’t make much sense. His slugging %age is 90 points higher on the road.

3) Former NFL QB Philip Rivers coached his first high school football game Thursday night; his team won 49-0. Rivers coaches St. Michael Catholic in Alabama.

2) Favorites to win the NCAA basketball tourney next April:
7-1— Gonzaga
9-1— Memphis, Michigan
14-1— Kentucky, Texas, UCLA

1) Four college football games with betting lines Saturday; hard to believe it is football season already. UConn is playing; they didn’t play at all last year, so that’ll be interesting. Curious to see how much different things will be this season, if at all. 

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

13) Quite a day of major league baseball; in 12 of the 14 games, the winning run scored in the last three innings. Lot of fascinating games.
— First game was at 1:00pm; last game ended at 3:59am in San Diego.
— Dodger-Padre game was longest game under the new extra inning rules.
— Only 6 of 28 starting pitchers got a decision Wednesday.

12) Dodgers 5, Padres 3 (16):
— One of the most bizarre baseball games I’ve ever seen; it ended at 3:59am.
— Tatis tied the game with a 2-run homer in the 15th that bounced off RF Taylor’s glove; it wasn’t going to go over the fence.
— Dodgers twice walked hitters intentionally back/back to load the bases, because San Diego was out of pinch-hitters and pitchers had to pinch-hit.
— Padres didn’t get a hit from the 5th inning until the Tatis homer in the 16th.
— Dodgers issued 8 intentional walks, an all-time record.
— Total on game was 8; it was 1-1 after the 14th. Wound up as a push.

11) Giants 3, Mets 2:
— Mets hit into five double plays in first 7 innings.
— New York is 2-12 in last 14 games, all vs Dodgers/Giants.
— Starting Friday, Mets’ next 16 games are against Washington/Miami. 

10) Couple NFL teams announced their starting QB’s:
— Jaguars will start rookie QB Trevor Lawrence right off the bat.
— Broncos will start Teddy Bridgewater in their opener against the Giants.

9) LA Rams traded couple low draft picks to New England for QB Sony Michel, who scored the only TD against the Rams in the Super Bowl three years ago. Rams have injury issues at RB; starter Cam Akers tore his achilles, Darrell Henderson has a sprained thumb.

8) Mentioned the other day about only two MLB teams not having a guy with 20+ homers; Mike Yastzremski hit his 20th the other night, so now Detroit is the only team without a guy who has 20+, though they do have a guy with 500 career homers (Miguel Cabrera)

7) Rajon Rondo’s career path:
— Played college ball at Kentucky from 2004-06.
— Was first round pick of the Suns in 2006; he never played for them.
— Played for Celtics from 2006-14
— Played 46 games for Dallas in 2014-15
— Played 72 games for Sacramento in 2015-16
— Played 69 games for Chicago in 2016-17
— Played 65 games for New Orleans in 2017-18
— Played 94 games for Lakers from 2019-21
— Played 27 games for Atlanta last season
— Played 18 games for the Clippers last season
— Got traded to Memphis this summer.

6)  Weird baseball scheduling:
— Braves had Wednesday and Thursday off, which makes no sense.
— Angels-Padres play a rare 2-game weekend series; they’re not playing Sunday.

5) Josh Rosen’s career path:
— Played QB at UCLA from 2015-17
— 1st round pick of the Cardinals in 2018
— Went 3-10 as the Cardinals’ starter in 2018
— Traded to the Dolphins for two draft picks.
— Went 0-3 as Miami’s starter in 2019.
— 2020: Was on practice squad of Bucs, 49ers
— Signed up with the Falcons this week.

4) Milwaukee Bucks’ coach Mike Budenholzer parlayed the Bucks’ NBA title into a 3-year contract extension, much deserved. Milwaukee’s only other NBA title was in 1971, when they had a pretty good center (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)

3) Orioles 10, Angels 6:
— Baltimore snaps its 19-game losing skid.
— Angels led 6-5 after seven innings.
— Cedric Mullins knocked in three runs for the Birds.

2) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Braves, Brewers, Giants. Wild Card: Cincinnati @ Los Angeles
AL: Rays, White Sox, Astros. Wild Card: Boston @ New York

1) When NFL teams make their final cuts after this weekend, 864 players will be looking for jobs; you wonder how much their vaccination status will affect their chances of finding a new job? Unvaccinated players will have to wait five days to join their new team.