Friday’s Den: Thoughts on the NFC schedules

— Week 1 starts on a Thursday with Buffalo visiting the Super Bowl champion Rams; it ends on Monday, with  Russell Wilson going back to Seattle to see his old friends, the Seahawks.

Matthew Stafford’s brother-in-law is an assistant coach with Buffalo.

— Six divisional games in Week 1, which seems like more than usual:
Saints-Falcons
Steelers-Bengals
Colts-Texans
Patriots-Dolphins
Raiders-Chargers
Packers-Vikings

— Thanksgiving games:
Buffalo @ Detroit, Giants @ Dallas, New England @ Minnesota.

Byes seem to be later than in previous seasons. 

Here are some notes for each team’s schedule.
NFC teams:
Arizona
— Play only four games outdoors this season; 13 dome games.
— Cold weather game in Week 15, at Denver.
— Don’t leave home in Weeks 11-14; three home games and a bye
— Bye is in Week 13
— Three of their last four games are on road.

Atlanta
— Week 10 Thursday game vs Carolina is only night game for either team.
— Falcons-Panthers play in weeks 8-10.
— Weeks 2-3 they’ll be on west coast, visiting Rams/Seattle.
— Bye is in Week 14
— NFL isn’t expecting much from them; 16 games at 1:00 local time.

Carolina
— Week 1 vs Cleveland; which team will Baker Mayfield be on?
— Four of their first five games are at home.
— Bye is in Week 13.
— Week 10 Thursday game vs Carolina is only night game for either team.
— They’re on road three weeks in row (Weeks 3-5).

Chicago
— Have three night games in first seven weeks (Wks 2-6-7)
— Visit New Jersey twice (Week 4 vs Giants, Week 12 vs Jets)
— Bye is in Week 14
— Weeks 13-16, they’ve got three home games and a bye.
— Play four road games in domed stadiums. 

Dallas
— Mike McCarthy visits his old team/Lambeau Field in Week 10
— Three of their last four games are on road.
— Dallas is at home three of first four games.
— They’re also at home in Weeks 12-14.
— Bye week is Week 9

Detroit
— 17 games scheduled at 1:00; not a lot of faith there.
— Thanksgiving game is against Buffalo.
— Bye week is Week 6, pretty early.
— Have cold weather games at Jets (Week 15), Packers (Week 18)
— Are at home Weeks 12-14.

Green Bay
— Play Giants in London in Week 5
— Don’t have bye the next week; they host Jets instead.
— After Jet game, they’re on road more three weeks in row.
— Have five primetime games, only five 1:00 games.
— Their bye week is Week 14.

Rams
— Open season against Buffalo at home on a Thursday.
— Have 10 games at SoFi; Charger game January 1 is an away game.
— Have only one 1;00 game, Week 11 in New Orleans.
— Bye week is Week 7, earlier than you’d expect.
— December 19 Monday night game in Green Bay is genius scheduling. 

Minnesota
— Close with two cold weather games, at Green Bay, at Chicago.
— Play four of their first five games at home.
— Week 9 at Washington; Kirk Cousins against his old team.
— Bye week is Week 7.
— Week 5, they play Saints in England, then host Chicago in Week 6. In past, almost all the teams that played overseas had bye week the next week.

NJ Giants
— Open season at Tennessee; their next true road game is Week 7 at Jaguars.
— Week 5 they play Green Bay in London.
— All four games vs Washington/Philly are after December 1st.
— Both games vs Dallas are on national TV, as usual.
— Bye week is Week 9.

New Orleans
— Weeks 1-3, they play their three NFC South rivals.
— Week 4, they play the Vikings in London.
— Bye week isn’t Week 14.
— Week 8 they play Raiders, the team Dennis Allen used to coach.
— Have cold weather games in Cleveland (Week 16), Philly (Week 17)

Philadelphia
— They’re on road three weeks in row, Weeks 14-16
— Visit Indianapolis in Week 11, Nick Sirianni’s old stomping grounds.
— Play old friend Carson Wentz/Commanders in Week 3-10.
— Bye week is in Week 7.
— Have five road games in domed stadiums. 

San Francisco
— Visit Rams October 30; their next true road game is December 15.
— Play the Cardinals in Mexico City November 21.
— Weeks 5-6, they visit Carolina/Atlanta, will probably stay east the whole time.
— Bye week is in Week 9.
— Play five primetime games, one vs each NFC West rival.

Seattle
— Old friend Russell Wilson visits Seattle on Monday night in Week 1.
— Play four of their last five games at home.
— Play Buccaneers in Germany in Week 10.
— Their bye week is in Week 11.
— Travel 29,125 miles this season, most of any team.

Tampa Bay
— Open with dome games (Cowboys/Saints) in Weeks 1-2.
— Play at home in Weeks 3-5.
— Play five primetime games, three at home.
— Bye week is Week 11, after the game in Germany.
— November 27 in Cleveland could be a cold weather game.

Washington
— Both primetime games are on road, at Bears/Eagles.
— Three of their last four games are at home.
— Their bye week is in Week 14.
— Carson Wentz plays Eagles twice (weeks 3-10), visits Colts in Week 8.
— Play four road games in domed stadiums.

I’ll have thoughts on the AFC schedules tomorrow. 

Thursday’s Den: USFL notes, and other stuff…….

After this week, USFL regular season will be half over.

Birmingham Stallions (4-0)
— Trailed at halftime in three of four games
— Outscored opponents 62-27 in second half.
— 4-0 against spread

Houston Gamblers (1-3)
— Lost last three games.
— Led all four games at halftime
— Last three games went over total
— Outscored 58-16 in second half.

Michigan Panthers (1-3)
— Last two weeks, threw for 65-51 yards.
— Last two weeks, ran for 244-250 yards.
— Three of four games stayed under total
— Losses are by 1-4-5 points.

New Jersey Generals (3-1)
— Won last three games, giving up 6-16-13 points.
— Have only one takeaway, none in last three games.
— Allowed only 268 RY in four games (67/game)

New Orleans Breakers (3-1)
— Last two games, were minus-6 in turnovers (1-7)
— Three of four games stayed under total
— Outgained Houston last week, 523-155, won only 23-16

Philadelphia Stars (2-2)
— Last two weeks, gave up 269-250 rushing yards.
— Gave up 23+ points in all four games.
— Have been outgained in every game.

Pittsburgh Maulers (0-4)
— Only winless team; they’re 1-2-1 ATS.
— Outscored 34-13 in second half of games.
— Gained 256 or less yards in three of four games.
— All four losses are by 7+ points.

Tampa Bay Bandits (2-2)
— Have been outscored 28-13 in second half of games.
— Were held scoreless in 2nd half in three of four games.
— Three of four games stayed under total.
— Minus-6 in turnovers (1-7)

Elsewhere in the world………
— In my next life, I want to sell hockey jerseys in Canada; watching the Dallas-Calgary game last night, had to be 80-90% of the fans were wearing Flames jerseys, the real ones.

— Seven of first eight 1st-round playoff series are going to a sixth game, good news for the NHL’s accountants. Colorado Avalanche are only team that has advanced to the second round.

— When the Angels beat Tampa Bay 12-0 Tuesday, Rays used a position player to pitch the bottom of the 8th, so Angels’ 3B Anthony Rendon batted lefty, for the first time in his ten major league seasons. 4,528 plate appearances, all right-handed.

He hit a home run to right-center, a fairly long one. Batting lefty.

— Wednesday’s Cleveland-Chicago game was postponed; Guardians have COVID issues.

— Christian Yelich hit for the cycle Wednesday for the third time in his career; all three came against Cincinnati. Yelich is the 6th major league to hit for the cycle three times- the others:

Bob Meusel, Babe Herman, John Reilly, Adrian Beltre, Trea Turner

— I’m getting whacked in fantasy baseball this week; other team has Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani— good team.

Trout has been traded twice in our league; who trades Mike Trout?

— Since 2000, Clemson has had 11 WR’s drafted by the NFL, more than any other school; Alabama, LSU, Ohio State are next on that list, with 10 each.

— RIP Bob Lanier, 73 who passed away this week.

Lanier played 14 years in the NBA, making eight All Star Games; he led St Bonaventure to the 1970 Final Four, but he got hurt at the end of the East Region final and never played in the Final Four. He got hurt in a collision with Villanova G Chris Ford, who would later be his teammate with the Detroit Pistons.

Lanier scored 20,492 points in his career; the Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and St Bonaventure all retired his number. He was a great ballplayer. RIP, sir.

— Braves 5, Red Sox 3— Orlando Arcia hit a walk-off homer, giving Atlanta its first walk-off win this season. Red Sox are 11-20 and in last place in AL East.

— Reds 14, Brewers 11— Cincinnati is 4-2 in its last six games, after a 3-22 start.

— Marlins 11, Arizona 3— Miami blew 3-1 lead in 8th inning, then scored eight runs in top of the ninth. Alcantara allowed only one run in seven IP for Miami, but didn’t get the win.

— Rays 4, Angels 2 (10)— Taylor Ward tied game with 8th inning homer, but Tampa scored twice in 10th inning to salvage a game in this 3-game series.

— Houston-Minnesota game was suspended in 4th inning because of cruddy weather; game will resume this afternoon, followed by the regularly scheduled game.

Bucks 110, Celtics 107:
— Milwaukee ended game on a 31-17 run.
— Giannis scored 40 points, grabbed 11 rebounds.
— Celtics bench shot 11-13 from floor, was a combined +18.
— Bucks lead series, 3-2

Grizzlies 134, Warriors 95:
— Spineless effort by Golden State; they were down 52 after three quarters.
— Memphis made 18 of 41 3-pointers.
— Golden State still leads series, 3-2

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) Watching Winning Time on HBO the last couple months, the story of the 1980’s Lakers, got me to thinking about how the franchise is run— it isn’t a normal pro sports franchise, which you can see from how Dr Jerry Buss ran things. His daughter Jeannie is now in charge, and she does things pretty much the same way.

Lakers won the NBA title two years ago, but they were 33-49 this year, with the league’s 4th-highest payroll. This was the Lakers’ 7th losing season the last nine years, and now there are rumblings that Phil Jackson/Earvin Johnson are back involved with the team as consultants.

Curious to see where they turn for a new head coach. 

12) When Pittsburgh beat the Dodgers Monday night, they ended a 16-game losing streak against Los Angeles, a streak that went back four years.

It was also the first win by a Pirate starting pitcher (Jose Quintana) this season, in their 28th game, the longest-such drought to begin a season in big league history (previous record was 21).

It was also Quintana’s first win in his last 21 starts.

11) Sounds like Broncos at Rams is the 4:30 game on Christmas Day; this will be the first time the NFL goes with three games on Christmas. Schedule comes out Thursday night.

10) RB Sony Michel, who helped the Rams win a Super Bowl three short months ago, signed with the Miami Dolphins this week.

9) Heat 120, 76ers 85:
— Miami led by 12 at half, outscored 76ers 39-19 in 4th quarter.
— Sixers’ bench shot 10-32 from floor.
— Seven Miami players scored in double figures.
— Heat leads series, 3-2

8) Suns 110, Mavericks 80:
— Phoenix outscored Dallas 33-14 in 4th quarter.
— Mavericks had two starters who didn’t score a point.
— Suns had eight different guys who were +10 or better. 

7) This was posted on Twitter by James Smyth; active players with the most career home runs, who don’t have a walk-off homer:
269— JD Martinez
199— Eugenio Suarez
172— Yadier Molina
171— Brendan Belt

6) Angels 12, Rays 0:
— Reid Detmers throws a no-hitter in his 11th big league start.
— Detmers walked one guy, struck out two, threw 108 pitches.
— Last two nights, Angels outscored Tampa Bay 23-3. 

5) December 11 in Brooklyn, there will be a college basketball twinbill at Barclays Center; St Bonaventure-Iona, UMass-Hofstra. Not a bad card.

4) 44 prospects were invited to the NBA’s G-League camp; I’m not sure if people know how really difficult it to make to an NBA roster. You have to be GREAT at something (shooting is always marketable); going to NBA Summer League a few times, you see guys who were really good college players who have trouble getting significant minutes at the next level.

3) Former Ohio State QB Cardale Jones signed with the Edmonton Elks of the CFL; Jones played one game in the NFL, for Buffalo against the Jets, the last week in 2016.

2) Chris Flexen has started six games on the mound for the Mariners this season; Seattle was shut out in four of the six games, scored only one run in a fifth game. Not good.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: San Diego, San Francisco, St Louis
AL: Bronx, Twins, Angels. Wild Cards: Houston, Tampa Bay, Toronto 

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

13) Someday, NFL Films should do a special with a behind-the-scenes look at how they make the NFL schedule; would be fascinating TV.

Who gets what primetime games, the Thanksgiving/Christmas games. Apparently when Tom Brady un-retired, the schedule makers had to scramble and put the Buccaneers back in the mix for prominent time slots. Russell Wilson getting traded, Aaron Rodgers staying in Green Bay all play into what games get the most national TV exposure. 

12) Speaking of which, NFL announced their Week 2 Monday night schedule:
7:00— Tennessee @ Buffalo
8:30— Minnesota @ Philadelphia

League didn’t get very good TV ratings when the nightcap of their twin bills were 10:30 starts out west, so they’ve been scratched. The NFL definitely cares about its TV ratings. League has to figure that after the Buffalo game ends, viewers will switch over for the second half of the game in Philadelphia. 

11) Boston 116, Milwaukee 108:
— Tatum/Horford both scored 30 points for the Celtics.
— Giannis was 14-32 from floor; other four Milwaukee starters were combined 17-45
— Series is tied 2-2; the NBA’s accountants are happy- they like longer series. 

10) Golden State assistant coach Mike Brown was named new head coach of the Sacramento Kings Monday, then he announced he is staying with the Warriors thru the end of the playoffs. 

Then Golden State coach Steve Kerr tested positive for COVID and Brown was named interim coach of the Warriors until Kerr returns.

So, the Warriors are being coached by Sacramento’s coach; that’s a new one.

9) Warriors 101, Grizzlies 98:
— Warriors outscored Memphis 39-29 in 4th quarter.
— Ja Morant (knee) didn’t play for Memphis.
— Memphis was +13 in 27:00 Adams played, minus-16 in 21:00 he sat out. 

8) Cubs 6, Padres 0:
— Cubs played Sunday night at home, then had this game in San Diego; tough scheduling spot.
— Kyle Hendricks threw 116 pitches, pitched 8.2 IP of shutout ball for Chicago.
— San Diego had only three hits. 

7) I’m in a 14-team fantasy baseball league, with 29 guys on each team, so that is 406 players in our league. Pretty deep league.

Last week, the two Players of the Week were Tampa Bay’s Manuel Margot, Milwaukee’s Rowdy Tellez, neither of whom was on a roster in our league when last week started.

Tellez got picked up during the week; Margot is still out there. Lot of skeptics. 

6) NHL’s New York Islanders fired coach Barry Trotz; team was 37-35-10 this season, missing playoffs for first time in four years under Trotz.

My cousin and his son, who are avid Islander fans, are shocked/dismayed by this move. In four years as the team’s coach, Trotz was 152-102-34 in regular season, 28-21 in the playoffs. In his 23-year career as a head coach, he is 914-670-60-168.

Trotz won the Stanley Cup in Washington four years ago, then got canned by the Caps, which was also weird. Must be an interesting story why all this happened.

5) Detroit Mercy G Antoine Davis entered the transfer portal this spring, which was odd, since his dad is Detroit’s coach, but now he’s announced that he is staying with the Titans.

This past season, Davis was 3rd in the nation in scoring at 23.9 ppg, and he was co-Horizon League Player of the Year- he’s scored 2,734 points in his career, 22nd all-time in NCAA history. Shooting is marketable, for sure. 

Davis made four official visits in the last month, to Maryland, BYU, Georgetown and Kansas State, but he decided to stay home and help his dad keep his job. 

4) Guardians 12, White Sox 9 (11)
— Cleveland tied game with six runs in ninth inning
— Josh Naylor hit a grand slam in 9th inning, 3-run homer in 11th.
— Naylor became the first player since RBI’s became official in 1920 to have eight RBI’s from the eighth inning on in a game.

3) Atlanta Falcons have $62M in dead money on their salary cap for this coming season; that is 30% of their payroll, but once 2022 is over, they can get back to regular business. 

2) Duke poached a couple of transfers this week, from Harvard and Northwestern, both coached by Duke alums. That should make alumni gatherings a little more fun.

1) From 1986-2002, Dell Curry played in the NBA, scoring 12,670 points for five teams, mostly the Charlotte Hornets; he is now a TV analyst for the Hornets.

Dell Curry went to college at Virginia Tech; he scored 19 ppg in four years with the Hokies. Curry has two sons who were very good high school players, but Virginia Tech didn’t recruit either one of them. This was a mistake. Really big mistake.

Seth Curry is in his 9th NBA season; he started his college career at Liberty, was also poached by Duke, where he played for three years, scoring 17.5 ppg as a senior.

Steph Curry is one of the greatest shooters ever, if not the best. He played three years in college at Davidson, scoring 28.6 ppg in his last year there. His exploits in the NBA are well known.

Seth Greenberg was Virginia Tech’s coach back then; this helps explain why he is a TV analyst now. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports weekend

13) Interesting day of baseball Sunday; in seven of 18 games, the winning run scored from the 7th inning on- that’s a lot of close games for one day. 

12) Padres 3, Marlins 2:
— Trailing 2-0, San Diego scored three runs in 9th inning.
— Former Marlin Jorge Alfaro hit a 3-run, pinch-hit, walk-off homer.
— Padres won nine of their last 12 games. 

11) Angels 5, Nationals 4:
— Halos scored three times in bottom of 9th.
— Ohtani tied game with 2-run double, Rendon won it with a single.
— Angels are 11-4 in their last fifteen games. 

10) White Sox 3, Red Sox 2:
— Keuchel allowed only two runs in six IP.
— Boston was 1-11 with runners in scoring position.
— Red Sox lost five in row, 14 of last 18 games.

9) Astros 5, Tigers 0:
— Detroit went 0-4 in Houston, scoring total of six runs.
— Odorizzi threw 5 scoreless IP, allowing three baserunners.
— Aledmys Diaz hit a grand slam in third inning. 

8) 76ers 116, Heat 108:
— Embiid had 24 points, 11 rebounds; he is turning into this generation’s Willis Reed, playing with a broken orbital bone in his eye.
— Harden scored 31 points, with 7 boards, 9 assists.
— Home side has won all four series games. 

7) Mavericks 111, Suns 101:
— Dallas was 20-44 on the arc, 18-41 inside arc.
— Mavericks were +16 in the 34:00 Kleber came off bench.
— Home side has won all four series games.

6) HBO’s series Winning Time ended its first season Sunday night, the series about the 1980’s Lakers. I have no idea what to make of it, how much of it is true/false, but it was interesting.

This I’m pretty sure of; hopefully Jerry West will sue the people who made this series. The hatchet job they did on him is kind of weird; they try to make him look like a raving lunatic.

5) Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, the Lakers beat the 76ers without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who hurt his ankle. Here is what actually happened in the game:
— Lakers won 123-107; game was 60-60 at halftime.
— Magic Johnson played center, scored 42 points, had 15 rebounds.
— Lakers were 33-35 on foul line, Philly 13-22. The game was in Philadelphia.

4) Here is how much the NBA has changed in the last 42 years; those two teams combined to shoot 0-8 from the arc. For the whole game.

In Sunday night’s Miami-Philly game, teams combined to make 23-68 3-pointers.

3) Baylor QB Gerry Bohanon transferred to South Florida; he threw for 2,237 yards for 12-2 Baylor last year, tossing 18 TD’s, with 7 INTs. He also ran for 321 yards. 

2) New Orleans 23, Houston 16:
— Both teams made a field goal longer than 50 yards.
— Breakers ran 73 plays for 523 yards; Houston 46 plays for 155 yards.
— New Orleans won despite a minus-4 turnover ratio (0-4

1) Thru four weeks, 3-1 New Jersey leads the North Division; Birmingham is 4-0 in the South, a game ahead of the Breakers. 0-4 Pittsburgh is the lone winless team.

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) An 80-1 shot won the Kentucky Derby Saturday, 2nd-biggest underdog ever to win the Run for the Roses (in 1913, a 91-1 shot won). The overhead shot of the race is fascinating to watch, the route the winning jockey took to get his horse from 17th on the far turn to winning the race.

Winning jockey made $186,000 for his two minutes’ work; of that money, his agent gets 25% of it ($46,500), the valet gets $9,300 (5%). 

12) When the NFL schedule comes out on Thursday, remember that the 17th game is AFC vs NFC, with these divisional matchups:
AFC East @ NFC West
AFC North @ NFC East
AFC South @ NFC North
AFC West @ NFC South

Not necessarily Week 18 games, just the extra game for each team, from the way the schedule used to be made out. Last year AFC teams had nine home games; this year NFC teams do. 

11) Thru Friday’s games, major league hitters were batting .233 this season, the lowest batting average ever for a season. In 1968, batters hit .237, then they lowered the mound. In 1888 and 1908, they hit .239. Banning shifts next year will cause batting averages to go up.

10) Astros 3, Tigers 2:
— Houston beats the Tigers 3-2 for the third day in a row.
— Detroit has scored 2 or fewer runs in 14 of their 26 games.

9) Milwaukee Brewers are 18-1 when they score 3+ runs, 14-0 when they score 5+ runs.

8) Last year, Seattle Mariners went 90-72; they were 33-19 in one-run games, which is really good, but also hard to duplicate. Regression was expected.

So far this season, Seattle is off to a 12-16 start; they’re 3-5 in one run games. Mariners have lost 10 of their last 11 games. Things aren’t looking good. 

7) Minnesota 1, Oakland 0— A’s allowed total of six runs in last three games, but lost all three- they’ve lost eight games in a row overall. Going to be a long summer in Oakland. 

6) Dodgers 7-6, Cubs 0-2— Chicago scored total of 11 runs in their last eight games; they’re 9-17. What is this franchise doing? Chicago is a huge market; how are they running their franchise like this? Cubs have their own TV network that costs money to watch; who is ponying up money to watch this bunch of scrubs? 

5) Bucks 103, Celtics 101:
— Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 42 points, had 12 rebounds, 8 assists.
— Jayson Tatum was only 4-19 from the floor.
— Milwaukee leads series, 2-1

4) Golden State 142, Memphis 112:
— Warriors shot 63% from floor, made 17-32 on arc.
— Golden State had two subs who were +33/+30.
— Warriors lead series, 2-1.

3) USFL regular season is being played entirely in Birmingham, but their playoffs will have a much cooler location; Canton, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

2) Birmingham 16, Tampa Bay 10:
— Birmingham outscored Bandits 9-0 in second half.
— Hometown Stallions improve to 4-0.
— Birmingham out rushed Tampa Bay, 126-53

1) New Jersey 21, Pittsburgh 13:
— Generals win for the third week in a row.
— Maulers are scoring only 9 ppg in their 0-4 start.
— Two New Jersey QB’s combined to complete 20-24 passes, for 200 yards.

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

13) Friday night in Florida, Dick Vitale’s V Foundation raised $11.1M for cancer research; coach Vitale has now raised over $100M overall for this cause. Lot of great work by a passionate guy. 

12) Weird night Friday; six major league games were rained out, the most in one day since 2018, so the night didn’t get busy until the west coast games started.

Had the Arizona-Colorado game on my TV, the Tampa Bay-Seattle game on Apple TV on my phone and my fantasy team’s boxscore on my laptop, plus a fantasy baseball podcast on Sirius radio. You never know when you might learn something. 

11) Arizona 4, Colorado 1— Last week, I tried really hard to trade Merrill Kelly in our fantasy league; had couple deals cooking, but nothing happened, which is good, because he threw 8.2 IP in this game, getting his third win of the year.

Daulton Varsho homered in the bottom of the 8th inning to put Arizona ahead; then David Peralta also homered (in his 900th big league game).

Arizona has won eight of its last ten games, after a dismal start. 

10) Houston 3, Detroit 2:
— Astros’ #8/#9 hitters hit back/back homers in second inning.
— Detroit had only two hits.
— Houston has won five games in a row.

9) Milwaukee 6, Atlanta 3:
— Eric Lauer is a surprising 3-0, 1.82 for the Brewers.
— 1B Rowdy Tellez has 12 RBI in his last four games.
— Braves lost five of their last seven games. 

8) Chicago 4, Boston 2:
— Luis Robert his a 2-run homer for the Pale Hose.
— Red Sox lost 10 of their last 13 games.
— White Sox have won four in row, after an 8-13 start. 

7) Minnesota 2, Oakland 1:
— Winder has allowed one unearned in 12 IP, in two starts.
— A’s had bases loaded with one out in last inning, couldn’t tie game.
— Byron Buxton hit his 9th homer of the season. 

6) Angels 3, Washington 0:
— Diaz threw five shutout innings in his first ’22 start.
— Trout had two hits, knocked in couple runs.
— Nationals had only four hits. 

5) Tampa Bay 8, Seattle 7:
— Margot hit a 3-run homer in top of 9th.
— Gilbert needed 99 pitches to get thru five innings.
— Mariners lost nine of their last ten games. 

4) San Diego 3, Miami 2:
— Darvish threw 7 innings, got his third win.
— Marlins have lost six games in a row.
— All five teams in NL West are over .500.

3) Philadelphia 26, Michigan 25:
— Michigan missed a 21-yard FG on last play of the game.
— Michigan was only 9-17 passing, for 51 yards.
— Panthers lost despite running ball for 251 yards.
— In his first start in three years, Philly QB Cookus threw for 190 yards and two TD’s. 

2) 76ers 99, Heat 79:
— Embiid had 18 points, 11 boards in his first action of series.
— 76ers were +27 with Harden on court, minus-7 in 10:00 with him on bench.
— Heat was 7-30 on arc, Philly 16-33. 
— Miami still leads series, 2-1. 

1) Dallas 103, Phoenix 94:
— League’s accountants are happy; both these series get at least a 5th game.
— Brunson scored 28, Doncic 26 for Dallas.
— Home side has won all three series games. 

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

13) Mets 8, Phillies 7:
— Mets scored seven runs in top of 9th inning.
— Mets have a 5-game lead in the NL East.
— Phillies are 11-15 and struggling. 

12) Clayton Kershaw was on with the Dodger TV guys during a game the other night, talking about this year’s baseball and how “it just doesn’t go as far” as baseballs have in the past. He is a pitcher and yet he didn’t seem happy about it. 

It is unclear if the people who run MLB are on the same page about their sport:
— They want higher scoring games, to increase fan interest. Smart
But…….
— They deadened the baseball. (is deadened a word?)
— They want games to last under 3:00.

At least they approved the universal DH; no one wants to see pitchers hit.

They should’ve eliminated shifts this season; that will decrease the amount of players who just swing for the fences all the time. With no shifts next year, line drive hitters will have greater success than they’ve been having. There will be more balls put in play, better highlights to show.

11) White Sox-Red Sox are playing a nationally televised game Sunday morning at 11:30; game is on NBC/Peacock. Apparently this is a new idea for MLB to expand their audience. 

10) Broncos-Jaguars Week 8 game from London will be televised on ESPN+, a bad omen for the future of sports on TV. ESPN+ is only $6 a month and if you like college sports it is well worth it, but I already buy the Sunday Ticket so I can see all the games. Lot of greed in the world today.

9) Red Sox 2B Trevor Story signed a 6-year deal with Boston for $23.3M a year, but he fired his agent a month later; did he really want to sign with the Rangers, who paid Corey Seager $32M a year? You fire your agent, you’re telling the world he/they did a bad job.

Story is from the Dallas area; it was assumed that he would sign with the Rangers.

8) Tuesday night, Rowdy Tellez knocked in eight runs for Milwaukee, most in Brewers’ history.

First player to knock in seven runs in a game for Milwaukee? Way back in 1970, it was utility infielder Ted Kubiak, who started his career with the A’s, bounced to Milwaukee, then found his way back to Oakland, where he played on three consecutive World Series champs, from 1972-74. 

7) P Chris Flexen has started five games for Seattle; they scored zero or one run in four of those five games. 

6) Ian Anderson has pitched five games for Atlanta; road team won all five. 

5) Memphis Grizzlies F Dillon Brooks is suspended for Game 3 of the Memphis-Golden States. series; his flagrant foul broke Gary Payton II’s elbow in Game 2. 

4) Texas Longhorns RB Bijan Robinson has an NIL deal with Lamborghini, as college athletes continue to cash in on the new NIL rules.

3) Padres 2, Marlins 1— Manny Machado knocked in both San Diego runs with a pair of solo homers. Miami has lost five in a row. 

2) If you’re wagering on totals in USFL games, read this: starting this weekend, the USFL will use a running clock after incomplete passes during the first and third quarters. That means fewer plays will be run. 

1) If the playoffs started today (they do not):
AL— New York, Twins, Angels. Wild Cards: Rays, Angels, Blue Jays
NL— Mets, Brewers, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Rockies, Cardinals, Padres

Thursday’s Den: Happy Cinco de Mayo

13) Lights in my neighborhood went out for 40 minutes tonight, no power, nothing. Very weird to sit in the dark and stare at my phone. Got e-mail notification from the power company, lights came back on sooner than expected, so its all good now.

I think.

If you’re reading this, the power stayed on. 

12) NFL announced its five international games for the coming season:
October 2— Vikings-Saints in London
October 9— Giants-Packers in London
October 30— Broncos-Jaguars in London
November 13— Seahawks-Buccaneers in Munich
November 21— Cardinals-49ers in Mexico City

11) Arizona 8, Miami 7:
— Madison Bumgarner got ejected after the first inning of his start against Miami Wednesday after a confrontation with first-base umpire Dan Bellino. Bellino was checking Bumgarner’s hand for foreign substances; the check seemed to go longer than usual, then words were exchanged and Bumgarner flipped out. It was his second career ejection.
— Pavin Smith won the game with a 2-run tater in last inning. 

10) Players in NBA history with 55+ points, 10+ rebounds in a playoff game:
Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Charles Barkley

9) Game 2 of the Boston-Milwaukee series was Tuesday; Game 3 isn’t until Saturday. NBA teams don’t practice that much during the season, so this will be unusual for them. 

8) Phoenix 129, Dallas 109:
— Suns are first team since the ’86 Lakers to shoot 50%+ in their first seven playoff games of a season; now they’ve shot 50%+ in eight straight games- they shot 64.5% in this game.
— Phoenix outscored Dallas 71-49 in second half.
— Phoenix leads series, 2-0

7) Brewers 18, Reds 4:
— Rowdy Tellez homered twice, knocked in eight runs; he has four homers in his last four games.
— Cincinnati is 3-21, losing 19 of their last 20 games. Not good. 

6) Was watching a ballgame the other day and Marwin Gonzalez was playing, which reminded me of a cruddy day in my fantasy baseball history.

August 2017 we’re in our fantasy baseball playoffs, and my game is very close. Week runs from Monday to Sunday, so 6:30 or so Sunday, we’re down to cases. Angels-Astros is the last relevant game for me; I’m ahead by a whisker, just need Marwin Gonzalez to make an out in his last at-bat of the week.

Guy on Houston had just hit a 3-run double to put the Astros up 7-5; now Gonzalez is up with a guy on third, two out, his team up 7-5.

Mike Scioscia was managing the Angels; he walked Gonzalez……..intentionally. I lose.

Can never remember a guy getting walked intentionally in that situation before. Or since. Not that I’m bitter about it or anything, but it has been five years and it still ticks me off.

5) Wednesday was the 47th anniversary of the day the 1,000,000th run in MLB history was scored. It was kind of a big deal back then; Tootsie Rolls actually ran a promotion where the player who scored the 1,000,000th run got 1,000,000 Tootsie Rolls and 1,000,000 pennies ($10,000).

Came down to a Sunday afternoon; guys on the Astros and Reds hit home runs at roughly the same time, and the baserunner on Houston is racing the batter for the Reds to see who would score first, to score that millionth run.

Houston’s Bob Watson scored the 1,000,000th run, Dave Concepcion scored the 1,000,001st run. Watson donated the Tootsie Rolls to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. 

4) Angels 10, Red Sox 5 (10)
— Angels had been shut out in three of previous four games; they didn’t get a baserunner in this game until the fifth inning.
— Jared Walsh tied game with 9th inning single; he also hit a 3-run homer in a 6-run 10th.

3) Robert Griffin III didn’t play in the NFL last year, he was a college football TV analyst, but he recently ran a 4.48 40-yard dash, so now he has apparently gotten calls from a few NFL teams about making a comeback. 

Griffin is 32; he has a lifetime record of 18-27 as a starter, but he was 9-6 as a rookie in 2012, and it went downhill from there. Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta may be interested in his services. 

2) Speaking of QBs/TV analysts, before Tony Romo started his TV career, Jay Cutler was supposed to be the new FOX analyst, but got bounced in favor of Romo.

Cutler was on a reality show with his wife a few years ago; I think the show was Very Cavallari on the E! Channel. Cutler had kind of a sarcastic sense of humor; I’d still be curious about how he would be as a TV analyst. 

1) Miami 119, Philadelphia 103:
— Heat made 14-29 on shots on the arc.
— Miami was +1o on backboards.
— Heat leads series 2-0; it isn’t sounding promising for Joel Embiid to return in the next few days. Without Embiid, 76ers ain’t winning this series. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

13) Astros 4, Mariners 0— Dusty Baker wins his 2,000th game as a big league manager.

Flashback to July 19, 1975; my dad took me to Shea Stadium, Braves-Mets. When you’re 15 years and your first name is Biff and the Braves have a catcher named Biff Pocoroba, he becomes your hero. Not only did my dad get us tickets, he got us box seats in the third row, right by third base.

I was hoping to meet Biff Pocoroba as he walked to the bullpen with the relief pitchers before the game, but as luck would have it, he started behind the plate that day, his first start in a week. I did meet four Braves and got their autographs, including an outfielder named Dusty Baker. 

12) I had this paperback book, The Handbook of Major League Baseball, which I bought every year; it had bios on the 10 best players on each team. Before Dusty signed the book, he read his bio in the book- the author wasn’t a fan.

“This guy doesn’t like me!!!” Dusty Baker laughed, signed the book, talked to me for a couple more minutes and then moved on down the row of fans.

47 years later and I’m still grateful. Congrats Mr Baker, enjoy your accomplishment!!!

11) There is a new idea brewing for college basketball, which could debut in February 2024; where a lot of the mid-major leagues, all of them ranked below the Big East/Pac-12 level, take a week out of their conference schedules and play two non-league games, one home and one away.

The idea is to build the mid-major teams’ resume for at-large bid and also to create interest for March Madness. It would also reduce the amount of BS non-conference games that are played in November/December. 

10) Impressive field for the Maui Classic in November:
— Arizona, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Creighton
— Louisville, Ohio State, San Diego State, Texas Tech

9) Turns out the NFL was little annoyed with the Detroit Lions last Thursday, when Jaguars made the first pick in the draft, then Detroit immediately turned in their pick two minutes later.

Apparently the league likes teams to take the full 10:00 between picks, so they do their interviews and get some commercials in and build some suspense for the second pick, which obviously didn’t happen in this case. Apparently a phone call was made to Detroit to express the league’s displeasure with what happened.

8) Steve Lavin left FS1’s TV studio to return to coaching at San Diego; Jay Wright would be the logical choice to take his place, seeing how FS1 does lot of Big East games. 

7) Modern baseball: Dom Smith goes 4-4 Sunday night, so of course he sits out the next two games; why start one of your best hitters? Smith played the nightcap of Tuesday’s twinbill and hit a 2-run double as the Mets swept Atlanta. 

6) Random List: my four favorite Paul Newman movies:
— The Verdict
— Absence of Malice
— Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
— Message in a Bottle

5) Counting playoff games, Phoenix Suns have now won 10 games in a row over Dallas. 

4) Maine became the 34th state with legalized sports gambling this week.

3) Not sure how long the HBO series Winning Time about the LA Lajers will last, but if the series goes on for a few years, can’t wait to see how they portray Phil Jackson, and who they hire to play his role. 

2) Tennessee Titans drafted QB Malik Willis last week, which ignited a spirited debate on Twitter; is part of incumbent QB Ryan Tannehill’s job to be a mentor for the young QB? 

Opinion was divided on this; my opinion is this:

— It is Tannehill’s job to play quarterback for the Titans. He needs to lead by example. Tannehill will be 31 in July; he still has a lot of years left, whether in Tennessee or somewhere else.
— It is Willis’ job to observe Taneyhill and learn as much as he can from him.
— Coaches get paid to coach, players get paid to play.
— Willis is a 3rd-round pick, so he will wind up starting at some point, not necessarily in 2022.
— Tennessee becomes a more interesting team to follow early next season. 

1) NBA playoffs:
— Boston 109, Milwaukee 86— Celtics were 20-43 on arc, Milwaukee 3-18.
— Memphis 106, Golden State 101— Curry/Thompson shot 5-23 behind the arc.

Both series are tied, 1-1. 

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

13) Heat 106, 76ers 92:
— Tyler Herro scored 25 points in 29:00 off bench for Miami.
— Teams combined to shoot 15-70 on arc; no bueno.
— Heat leads best-of-7 series 1-0. 

12) Suns 121, Mavericks 114:
— Phoenix led 69-56 at halftime.
— Doncic was 15-30 from floor, scored 45. Other four Dallas starters shot combined 15-36.
— Phoenix lead best-of-7 series 1-0. 

11) In the NFL, Arizona WR DeAndre Hopkins got a 6-game PED suspension, which helps explain why they traded for Marquise Brown last week. 

10) Mets DFA’d Robinson Cano Monday; he is hitting .195 in 12 games this season. New York still owes Cano $44,703,297 from a contract he signed ten years ago.

Mets have seven days to trade or release Cano, or send him outright to AAA — an assignment he can refuse because he has 3+ years of major league service.

9) Since start of the 2020 season, Chicago White Sox are 43-19 vs lefty pitching; this season, they’ve scoring 4.5 runs/game vs lefty starters, 2.81 vs righties. 

8) Players of the Month for April:
American League— Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
National League— Nolan Arenado, St Louis

7) Few days ago, Arizona’s Daulton Varsho caught and batted leadoff; he walked to lead off the game, was then thrown out stealing for the first out of the game.

He is the first catcher to be caught stealing for the first out of a game since Jason Kendall, way back on June 25, 2003. 

USFL Week 3 knowledge
6) Tampa Bay 27, Houston 26:
— Bandits kicked a 46-yard FG with 0:10 for the win.
— Tampa Bay outscored Houston 10-0 in 2nd half, first points they’ve scored in second half this season. Gamblers have been outscored 45-13 in second half of games.
— Bandits are 2-1 despite a minus-6 turnover ratio. 

5) Birmingham 22, New Orleans 13:
— Stallions are 3-0, despite trailing in 2nd half of all three games.
— Birmingham outscored Breakers 12-0 in 4th quarter.
— Stallions won despite completing only 15 of 38 passes. 

4) Michigan 24, Pittsburgh 0
— Jeff Fisher’s Panthers ran ball 42 times for 244 yards.
— Winless Maulers have been outscored 54-16 in first half of games.
— Michigan hasn’t allowed a second half point in three games (20-0)
— Panthers went for 2 after all three TD’s and were 3-3.

3) New Jersey 24, Philadelphia 16:
— Generals outscored Philly 14-0 in 4th quarter.
— Generals ran ball 46 times for 269 yards; Stars ran 10 times for 31 yards.
— New Jersey outgained the Stars, 458-259

2) With major league rosters down to 26 on Monday, it becomes more important for starting pitchers to go deeper into games, to take the strain off of bullpens. 

1) In his first five starts this season, Toronto’s Kevin Gausman is 2-1, 2.27, with 41 strikeouts in 31.2 IP, and no walks. A 0.98 WHIP is pretty impressive. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

Major league teams’ records in series this season:
National League
7-0— Mets
5-1-1— Rockies
5-2-1— Brewers, Giants
5-2— Dodgers
4-1-2— Cardinals
4-2-1— Padres
4-3— Marlins
2-4-1— Pirates, Nationals
2-5— Phillies
1-3-3— Diamondbacks
1-4-2— Braves, Cubs
0-6-1— Reds

American League
6-0-1— Blue Jays
5-1-1— New York
5-2— Angels
4-3— Rays
3-2-2— Twins
3-3-1— Guardians, Mariners
3-4— Orioles, White Sox, Rangers
2-4-1— Astros, Royals, A’s
1-5-1— Red Sox
1-6— Tigers

— Last three starts for Cardinals P Miles Mikolas were all 0-0 after five innings; 33-year old Mikolas is off to a 1-1, 1.52 start for the Redbirds.

— Angels 6, White Sox— Halos led 6-0 in middle of 9th inning; Chicago wound up down 6-5 and had the bases loaded before Ryan Tepera came in to get the last out.

— I’ll say this again; putting microphones on the umpire to explain replay decisions is a very good change for baseball.

— Red Sox started an extra inning Saturday by walking the leadoff hitter intentionally, creating force plays at third and second. Since the game was tied, this was very smart, but hasn’t been dome a lot. Baltimore scored anyway, but you can do the right thing and still lose.

— Will be fascinating to see what the Cleveland Browns do next; at some, the NFL is going to suspend QB Deshaun Watson, probably for at least six games. Will the Browns keep Baker Mayfield and expect him to hold down the fort until Watson becomes eligible to play?

Seattle needs a quarterback; will the Browns trade him there? Cleveland also has Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs to back up Watson when the time comes. Otherwise, any place Mayfield gets dealt to, he is probably the backup this season, except maybe Houston, if he went there.

— Cincinnati Bearcats had nine players drafted this weekend, but number for an AAC team, but they’re also heading to the Big X soon, so they’ll obviously need to keep producing top-flight players.

— Texas Longhorns didn’t have any players drafted this weekend, first time since 2014.

Bucks 101, Celtics 89:
— Boston shot 18-50 (36%) on the arc, 10-34 (29.4%) inside the arc.
— Milwaukee shot 25-56 inside arc (44.6%), 12-34 on arc (35.3%).
— Bucks are the defending champs; they’re not getting enough respect.

Warriors 117, Grizzlies 116:
— No one scored in last 0:36.6 of this game.
— Jordan Poole scored 31 points in 38:00 off bench.
— Ja Morant had 34 points, 10 assists.
— Draymond Green got tossed in second quarter for a flagrant foul. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Georgia Bulldogs had 15 players taken in this year’s NFL Draft, the most players one school has ever had picked in a 7-round draft. In the first two rounds alone, Georgia had more picks (7) than the entire Pac-12 (6), ACC (5), Big X (4). 

12) This was the 14th year in a row the SEC has the most players drafted (65).

11) Nine quarterbacks wound up being drafted this week, including Iowa State’s Brock Purdy with the last pick in the draft. Only one QB was taken in the first two rounds, though.

10) From what you read, the couple hours right after the draft ends are chaotic, with teams all trying to sign undrafted free agents. Because of the COVID stuff the last couple years, this year the undrafted free agent pool is much deeper than usual.

9) One of those unsigned free agents is Jared Bernhardt, who was the best lacrosse player in the country at Maryland, then transferred to D-II Ferris State in Michigan, and led the Bulldogs to the D-II national title last year. He signed with the Falcons, is expected to play WR/return kicks.

My own opinion is that Ferris State’s teams should be the Wheels, not Bulldogs. The Ferris Wheels? That would be excellent. 

8) Last season, New England was the first NFL team since 2009 not to have anyone have a 100+-yard receiving game.

7) In 1965, the New York Giants drafted RB Tucker Frederickson from Auburn with the first pick in the draft; the #3 pick that year was Dick Butkus, the #4 pick was Gale Sayers. 

Whoops. 

6) There is a company called Third Side Coaching that helps NBA players/teams deal with officials— what refs look for, how to talk to them. The company is run by retired officials, so they know the ins and outs. Atlanta Hawks are one of the teams that use their services.

5) I had no idea Dwyane Wade owns a small part of the Utah Jazz.

4) Saw this last night, wouldn’t have guessed it in 100 years; since the start of the 2018 baseball season, Seattle 3B Eugenio Suarez has the most homers in the major leagues (132).

3) Klay Thompson’s brother Trayce is back in the big leagues, with San Diego. Trayce Thompson has played parts of six seasons with five different teams; he hit 13 homers for the Dodgers in 2016. 

2) Chicago Bears are releasing QB Nick Foles, who should find a job as a backup pretty quickly. Foles has a 33-29 record as an NFL starter in ten seasons, but one of those wins was the Super Bowl for Philadelphia four years ago.

Justin Fields/Trevor Siemian are now Chicago’s quarterbacks. 

1) This year was just the third time since 1993 that two punters were taken before the end of the 4th round and the guy considered the best punter in college last year, Matt Araiza, was the third punter taken, by Buffalo.

Araiza went to college at San Diego State; now he’ll be punting in western New York, not exactly a weather upgrade, but the Bills are good, so he probably won’t punt much. The thing is, he was also the Aztecs’ kicker; in the NFL, punters usually hold for kicks. 

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up an unusually busy Friday

13) First three rounds of the NFL Draft are over; draft is in Las Vegas, so couple of third round picks were announced by Wayne Newton, Donny Osmond. Really, they were. 

12) By the time the 38th player had been taken in this draft, 12 trades had been made. Lot of teams jockeying mid-round picks between this year and next year. 

11) Liberty QB Malik Willis had an over/under of 15.5 for which pick he’d be taken with; he wound up being the 86th pick, by Tennessee. Has to be disappointing, will be expensive to start with, but if he becomes a good starting QB, he’ll forget this week ever happened. 

10) Indianapolis Colts were +14 in turnovers last year and still missed the playoffs; that’s a red flag for sure, because it is tough to duplicate another +14 turnover ratio. They’ve upgraded a lot at QB, with Matt Ryan over Carson Wentz, but not like Atlanta has won a lot recently either.

9) NFL does a terrific job with guys who announce picks after the first round; Franco Harris, Larry Csonka, Barry Sanders (in addition to Wayne Newton/Donny Osmond). They even had Seton Hall basketball coach Shaheen Holloway announce one of the Jets’ picks. 

8) So far in the USFL, thru two weeks, the team leading at halftime won six of eight games; the two games that won after trailing at halftime? Birmingham Stallions, in both their games. 

7) I’m watching Law and Order re-runs the other day and a familiar face appears; Werner Klemperer, who played Colonel Klink on Hogan’s Heroes, is on an early episode, probably Year 2 of the 20-year series. Lot of famous actors have appeared in Law and Order. 

6) Mets 3, Phillies 0— Five New York pitchers combined to no-hit the Phillies. Tylor Megill needed 88 pitches to get thru the first five innings.

Weird part of this no-hitter; Philly’s Kyle Schwarber batted three times, walked every time. 

5) Trevor Bauer got suspended for two years Friday, which could cost him $60M. Bauer will appeal. As always, the lawyers will be the real winners here.

I myself am not a lawyer; this case is apparently a little complex, but Bauer has not been charged with any crimes. Not sure how you suspend a guy for two years without him being charged with a crime, but that is what has happened. 

4) David Cone was explaining on TV the other day how there are fewer doubles in baseball now, partially because outfielders play a lot deeper  than they used to. Another big reason is that the baseball appears to be a little dead this year.

3) Case in point: Guy on the Pirates hit a fly ball to the warning track the other day, but it got caught; the look he gave was so disgusted, like he was sure he hit a home run but it really wasn’t close to being one. Hitters need to become more line drive conscious and less about launch-angle. 

2) When Joey Gallo batted against Baltimore during the week, Orioles used five outfielders and one of the two remaining infielders had both his feet on the outfield grass when pitches were thrown. I’ve never seen that before and after this year, I’ll never see it again, since shifts will be banned after this season. 

1) Dallas Mavericks beat the Utah Jazz in six games in their playoff series; Dallas won their first  NBA title 11 years ago, but since then, had been 0-6 in playoff series.

Friday’s Den: My running diary of the first round of the NFL Draft

If I never hear the term “mock draft” again, it’ll be too soon. Seriously.

Welcome to my running diary of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, which is being held in Las Vegas. Originally, Las Vegas was supposed to host the 2020 Draft and I was supposed to be there, but the world had a different idea, with the pandemic and all, so here we are. I’m in my living room, a good place to be and a lot more affordable than Las Vegas this week.

Jacksonville has the first pick, thanks to the Urban Meyer debacle.

I’m watching the NFL Network feed; I’ll watch ESPN on Day 3 Saturday, in deference to Mel Kiper Jr but I’ve lost some enthusiasm for ESPN the last few years.

There are A LOT of people outdoors by the stage where I’m assuming the picks will be announced. A lot, as in maybe 100,000 or so.

8:06— Roger Goodell takes the stage, to mixed reviews. Can we start this already?

8:17— Jacksonville is on the clock; they hired Doug Peterson as their new coach, a huge upgrade from last year. With the first pick, Jaguars take Georgia’s Travon Walker, an edge rusher.

Why does Goodell get booed all the time? So what he makes $30M a year, as a spokesman for 32 really rich people. He seems like a decent guy.

Goodell trivia: When Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, Goodell’s father Charles Goodell took Kennedy’s place as a US Senator.

8:21— Detroit Lions take edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson from nearby Michigan; the last time defensive players were the first two players taken in a draft was in 2000.

Lions haven’t made the playoffs since 2016; in the 56 years of the Super Bowl era, Detroit is 1-12 in playoffs, with lone win in 1991.

8:27— Houston takes LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr, whose dad played Arena Football for the Albany Firebirds; his grandfather Darryl was a terrific WR for New England whose career ended tragically when he was paralyzed in a 1978 preseason game.

8:34— Jets are up next; they take Ahmad Gardner, a DB from Cincinnati. The green room for this draft seems more like an auditorium than a room. Gardner took a wrong turn going from the Green Room to the stage. He is 6-2, almost 6-3, very tall for a corner.

First four picks are defensive players.

Hey there is Hall of Famer Kurt Warner on NFL Network; he made the Hall of Fame despite not being drafted coming out of Northern Iowa. 

8:41— Giants select another pass rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon, who Daniel Jeremiah comps to Shawne Merriman, the old Chargers star. Since 2015, Thibodeaux is the 5th Oregon Duck to be taken in the top 7 of the draft.

Random question: When do the Super Bowl champs pick? Oh yeah, the Rams don’t have a first round pick until 2024- their last first round pick was in 2016 (Jared Goff).

8:46— Carolina Panthers have the wealthiest owner in the NFL, David Tepper, who is worth $16B or so. Thats billion, with a B. Carolina doesn’t have another pick until the 4th round; with the 6th pick, they take Ikem Ekwonu, an offensive tackle from NC State.

If you bet over 3.5 in quarterbacks drafted in first round, you might be in trouble.

8:53— Giants are up again, the first of eight teams with multiple first round picks; they take Evan Neal, a tackle from Alabama, so he is used to winning. Giants have made the playoffs once since 2011; they need guys who are used to winning.

Giants got this pick from Chicago last year, when the Bears wanted to draft Justin Fields. 

Eight teams don’t have a first round pick tonight, including the hometown Raiders.

9:00— Atlanta Falcons are 35-46 since losing the Super Bowl in overtime 5+ years ago; they take USC WR Drake London, giving newly-acquired QB Marcus Mariota a target. They show London dunking a basketball in high school; he probably shoots free throws better than Ben Simmons.

Charles Davis comps him to Larry Fitzgerald, a pretty huge compliment.

Words you hear on draft night, but rarely any other time:
— Upside
— Catch radius
— Physicality
— creating separation

9:09— Seattle Seahawks are up next; right now their QB would be Drew Lock, but they obviously don’t have a game for four months. If I was a Seahawks fan, would I be happy that they traded Russell Wilson? I’m not a Seahawks fan, so its none of my business.

Seattle takes Charles Cross, another SEC tackle (Mississippi State); he goes from playing for Mike Leach to Pete Carroll. Maybe they should’ve drafted offensive linemen when they had Wilson, who is a Hall of Fame quarterback.

I like it better when the people in a team’s draft room aren’t all in shirts/ties; Seattle’s people are all dressed casually. It is a football team, not a damn hedge fund operation.

9:13— Jets are up again; 4 of the first 13 picks go to the Garden State. Jets were minus-13 in turnovers last year, which isn’t good. Jets made AFC title game in 2009 and 2010, the Rex Ryan era; they haven’t made the playoffs since then. 

Jets take WR Garrett Wilson, a WR from Ohio State. Are teams in cold weather areas more likely to draft a player who has played in cold weather in college?

Good Lord, I forgot that the Saints gave Jameis Winston $28M for two years; no wonder Sean Payton quit. They have Andy Dalton as a backup, but Dalton is better than Winston.

9:21— New Orleans just traded into #11 slot; they traded a 3rd/4th round pick to Washington to move up from 16th to 11th, so whoever they pick here is a guy they really want. 

Saints took WR Chris Olave, another WR from Ohio State; Buckeyes threw for 361+ yards in each of their last five games last year. Olave caught 65 passes for 936 yards, 13 TD’s; the guy the Giants drafted (Garrett Wilson) caught 70 passes for 1,058 yards, 12 TD’s.

NFL Network just had a commercial touting the 2022 schedule release, which is two weeks away. That’ll be a busy night for me, starting my handicapping. Thursday night games will be on Amazon Prime, which I actually never heard of until they announced that.

Tony Gonzalez just announced that Chiefs at Chargers is the Week 2 Thursday game, the first Amazon Prime game.

9:30— Lions just traded with NFC North rival Minnesota, dealing an extra 3rd-round pick to the Vikings, to move up from 32nd to 12th- they select WR Jameson Williams from Alabama. The 32nd pick Detroit dealt to Minnesota was the Rams’ pick that the Lions acquired in the Matthew Stafford trade.

It isn’t often division rivals make trades like that, but Detroit GM Holmes/new Minnesota coach O’Connell worked together with the Rams, so maybe that facilitated the deal. 

9:40— Eagles traded with Houston to move up to #13, hopping over the Ravens; Texans get a 4th-round pick and two 5th-round picks to fall back two slots. Philly drafts Jordan Davis, a very large defensive tackle from Georgia.

This is Pete Prisco’s analysis of the Giants’ selection Kayvon Thibodeaux:
“He is the best pure pass rusher in this draft. He has the explosive ability the Giants badly need. The question with him now is his character. Does he love the game? But I think he will get past any of that talk and become a dominant edge player. I love this pick.”

Whenever I see scouts questioning a player’s love of the game, I get queasy.

9:47— Baltimore is up next; they take Kyle Hamilton, a safety from Notre Dame. He is 6-4, 220, a big safety. Ravens also traded with Arizona to acquire the 23rd pick.

Baltimore traded WR Marquise Brown and a 3rd-round pick to Arizona for the 23rd pick; Brown played college ball with Kyler Murray.

9:50— Houston has the 15th pick; they took G Kenyon Green from Texas A&M, who can play multiple spots on the offensive line. Texans went 8-25 the last two years; they need lot of help, which is why they dealt with the Eagles to get extra mid-round picks.

9:57— Washington has the 16th pick; they take Penn State WR Jahan Dotson, who Jeremiah says has the best hands in this draft. Catching the ball is important for a receiver. They traded for Carson Wentz; now they’re giving him targets to throw to.

Dotson played for three offensive coordinators during his time at Penn State.

9:59— Chargers take OL Zion Johnson, who started his career at I-AA Davidson, but wound up at Boston College. They have a great young QB in Herbert; now they need to protect him.

10:02— We have another trade; Tennessee traded WR AJ Brown to the Eagles, for the 18th pick, plus a 3rd-round pick. Titans traded for Robert Woods, wouldn’t pay Brown, so he goes off to Philadelphia. Brown gets four years, $100M from the Eagles.

Someone posted a pic of AJ Brown working out with Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts four days ago, so this obviously has been in the works.

With that 18th pick, Tennessee takes WR Treylon Burks from Arkansas, whose comp on NFL Network, ironically, is AJ Brown.

New Orleans is up again; will be weird seeing them without Sean Payton on the sidelines. Last year, Saints threw for their fewest yards/game since 1997. Quarterback is an important position.

10:12— Saints select T Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa.

Steelers are up now; no quarterbacks have been taken yet.

Used to know a guy who openly mocked me for watching/enjoying the NFL Draft; never quite understood why it bothered the guy. Everyone likes different stuff, but this is an industry with 32 teams worth an average of $3B each, and some teams are just so much better than others in this process, which makes it fascinating, at least to me.

By the way, Patrick Mahomes has a career record of 58-16; he was THE TENTH PICK in the 2017 draft. Mitch Trubisky was the #2 pick; that is why this is also interesting.

10:18— Steelers, who haven’t won a playoff game since 2016, take Pitt QB Kenny Pickett, who sat out his team’s bowl game, so he wouldn’t get hurt. Mitch Trubisky/Mason Rudolph are also Steeler QB’s. I wouldn’t have taken Pickett under any circumstance. Quarterbacks have to lead their team into battle, not opt out of a game to avoid injury.

Steeler great Franco Harris announced this pick; this fall will be with 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, which I remember because it happened on my birthday. My 8th grade basketball team also lost 34-17 that day- I had nine of our 17 points, which tells you how bad our team was (we finished 1-13).

10:23– Chiefs just traded up with New England, to move up from 29th to 21st; Kansas City takes Trent McDuffie, a CB from Washington. Raiders added Davante Adams, Denver added Russell Wilson; pass defense is more important now than it was in the AFC West.

10:28— Green Bay is up; they select LB Quay Walker from Georgia, who helped the Dawgs win a national title last year. Aaron Rodgers probably just tossed his remote.

Last time Packers drafted a WR in the first round was 2002; NFL Network guys are referencing a scene from A Few Good Men, because all the top WR prospects have already been taken. “I’m not Markinson, are you Markinson?” 

10:35— Lot of trades; Ravens traded into this slot, then just dealt the pick to Buffalo, which takes Kaiir Elam, a CB from Florida.

Ravens get an extra 4th-round pick to drop down two slots. Everyone is Buffalo’s draft room is wearing shirt/tie. No bueno.

10:38— Dallas is up; Jerry Jones’s grandson is sitting there in the Cowboys draft room. He’ll probably own the Cowboys long after I’m dead and gone. Must be nice to be rich.

Watching Hard Knocks last summer, I was totally unimpressed with Mike McCarthy; this is the best guy the Cowboys can get as head coach? He has a good record, but he also coached Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott, two pretty good quarterbacks.

There are so many people in Las Vegas for this; has to be a great night to be a pickpocket.

10:43— Dallas takes Tyler Smith, a tackle from Tulsa, who apparently got called for a lot of penalties in college. Tyler the tackle from Tulsa; say that three times fast.

Just saw a sign on TV for the Mirage Casino and I got hungry; they have a Carnegie Deli in there, where they make the best sandwiches ever. They were so big I asked for extra bread and made two sandwiches out of each one. They also have Dr Brown’s cream soda, which is tremendous.

10:50— They just showed the Ravens’ draft room; you could see their white board, with all the players’ names listed. Surprised they allowed that to be shown. Baltimore finished last in their division for first time since 2007; they lost so many close games— I’d make them a candidate for a big bounce back season this year.

10:53— Ravens took C Tyler Lindenbaum from Iowa; long time ago, Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz was OL coach of the Browns, before they moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens. This guy was also a wrestler, which helps offensive linemen.

Jets just dealt a 5th-round pick to Tennessee to move up to 26th in this draft; this will be their third first round pick. It has been 22 years since the Jets had this many first round picks.

Jets take edge rusher Jermaine Johnson from Florida State; Daniel Jeremiah had him as a top 10 player, and he was the 26th pick. He transferred from Georgia to Florida State in college, now he’s a first round pick.

11:01— Jacksonville just traded with Tampa Bay to move up a few slots; Bucs get the first pick in tomorrow’s second round. Jaguars select Devin Lloyd, a linebacker from Utah who has been wearing sunglasses in the green room for the last three hours.

Stanford coach David Shaw has high praise for Lloyd, so good pick for Jacksonville. His comp on NFL Network is 49ers’ LB Fred Warner.

11:14— Green Bay has another pick; coach Matt LaFleur is 39-10 in regular season games, 2-3 in the postseason. Packers take Devonte Wyatt, a DT from Georgia. Both of Green Bay’s first round picks come from national champion Georgia.

Green Bay won the Super Bowl after the 2010 season; since then, they’re 7-9 in playoff games.

11:20— New England is up now; they take G Cole Strange, who played at I-AA Chattanooga. Daniel Jeremiah said he thought he was a 3rd round pick. New England thinks differently than other teams. Rich Eisen just made a Boston reference from Good Will Hunting; it is getting late.

11:22— Chiefs just took edge rusher George Karlaftis from Purdue, which is nice, seeing how he is actually there. It would suck to sit there for four hours and not get picked.

He used to be on the under-16 team for Greece’s national water polo team. Seriously. He has only been in this country for eight years, which is interesting.

I can’t really swim and I can’t see a damn thing without my glasses, so water polo has no appeal to me.

11:26— Cincinnati has the next pick, the second/last pick tonight; they take Daxton Hill, a safety from Michigan who is versatile.

News: Giants are not picking up QB Daniel Jones’ 5th-year option, which helps prove that the new regime in New Jersey knows what they’re doing.

11:33— Last pick of the night belongs to Minnesota; they select Lewis Cine, a safety from Georgia. Do the Dawgs have any players left in Athens? Five defensive players from Georgia have already been taken.

Only one quarterback got taken. Unusual.

Damn, what are all these people at the draft going to do now? It is 8:40 on a Thursday night in Las Vegas. Hopefully they can find some fund stuff to do or some good food to eat.