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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not my finest moment…….lol

Anyway, today should be better than that day was.

Happy Armadillo Day!!!!

Sunday Extra: Trying not to get aggravated…….

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

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

2015
Bronx W5-2 @ Baltimore +$123 U9
Bronx W3-1 @ Seattle -$115 U7

2016
Bronx W6-3 vs Tampa Bay +$103 O8
Bronx W7-3 vs Kansas City -$130 O8

2017
Bronx W3-2 vs St Louis +$123, U8
Bronx W3-2 vs Oakland -$145, U9.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday’s List of 13: Coaches in movies I’ve enjoyed watching

This isn’t a ranking, just a numbered list of coaches in TV/movies that I’ve seen………

13) Ken Howard, The White Shadow— One of my all-time favorite TV shows, Ken Howard did a great job of portraying Coach Reeves, a former NBA player who becomes a high school coach in Los Angeles. He patterned Coach Reeves after his HS coach; Carver High’s uniforms are even the same colors of the school he went to, Manhasset HS on Long Island.

12) Gene Hackman, Hoosiers— He wins the state title and gets the girl (Barbara Hershey) in the end, but for the love of God, why didn’t he know enough to give Jimmy Chitwood the ball at the end of games? Even the drunk assistant coach (Dennis Hopper) knew enough to get Jimmy the ball.

11) Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday— Most people remember the “Life is a Game of Inches” speech before the last game, but what he said to Jamie Foxx at the dinner in his house earlier in the movie “You’re a goddamn QUARTERBACK!!!!” was the better speech, to me. This movie was made in 1999, but the divide between old-school thinking and modern analytics is in play, even back then.

10) Emilio Estevez, The Mighty Ducks— Mostly a goofy movie, but the underlying theme of a former star player coaching against the guy who coached him was interesting. Having players play catch at practice with raw eggs instead of hockey pucks was a curious coaching technique.

9) GD Spradlin, One on One— This is an underrated movie and also fairly old now, but Robby Benson was a hot-shot high school basketball star who was mostly in over his head when he went to play college ball at a bigtime school. This movie was filmed at Colorado State, which still plays in the same arena. Coach Smith was played by GD Spradlin, who also played Tom Landry in North Dallas Forty; if he such a great coach, why did he recruit Henry Steele (Benson), a flashy, small guard who couldn’t guard anyone?

8) Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own— Hanks was a great player who is now a crude drunk who wasn’t healthy enough to be in the service during the war, so he coaches a girls’ baseball team with Madonna and Geena Davis on it. A guy could do worse. When Hanks was a kid (in real life), he was a vendor at the Oakland Coliseum; this was a pretty good movie, but my friend Dennis kills me every time I say that.

7) Wilford Brimley, The Natural— Pop Fisher is manager of the New York Knights; all he does is complain about bad his team is, but when Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) shows up to play for the Knights, he won’t give him a chance to play, until Hobbs puts on a prodigious display in batting practice. This movie was filmed in Buffalo, in the stadium where the Bills played before Rich Stadium was built.

6) Jon Voight, Varsity Blues— Whoever made this movie had a high school coach they really hated; lot of unrealistic behavior by Voight’s character, the legendary football coach Bud Kilmer. He berates players, doesn’t give his best running back the ball near the goal line (the kid cites racist motives for that) and just seems like a miserable human. Eventually the players quit on him, but not before going to a strip club for an all-nighter on the night before a game, like that would ever happen.

5) JK Simmons, For the Love of the Game— Simmons is manager of the Detroit Tigers whose best pitcher is fading star Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner). Simmons is a Tiger fan in real life– he played the part well. Simmons is a great actor who plays a music teacher in the disturbing movie Whiplash– he pushes his students unmercifully, trying to get them to reach their potential.

4) Nick Nolte, Blue Chips— Nolte spent lot of time around Bob Knight’s Indiana teams prepping for this role, so you see lot of Knight’s antics, and the climactic game for Western U is against the Hoosiers (in scenes filmed in a high school gym in Indiana). Nolte gets the role down well; he coaches against Rick Pitino, Knight and George Raveling in games, recruits against Jerry Tarkanian and Jim Boeheim.

3) James Gammon, Major League— Mr Gammon passed away seven years ago; he had such a great voice that one of the truck companies still uses his voice for their commercials. He plays Lou Brown, manager of the Cleveland Indians, who leads a rag-tag bunch of players to the AL pennant. He later wound up as Don Johnson’s father in the TV series Nash Bridges.

2) Gabe Kaplan, Fast Break— I love this movie. Kaplan is the manager of a New York City deli who takes a chance and becomes the coach at obscure college in Nevada; he doesn’t get a big contract ($60 for every win) until he beats Nevada State– he has to beat the Nevada State coach in pool just to get them on their schedule. Cadwallader University– Bernard King was one of his players, another player turned out to be a girl. This movie should be on TV somewhere (NBA Network?) every now and then.

1) Billy Bob Thornton, Friday Night Lights— I think this is the best representation of a coach I’ve ever seen on TV or in the movies. The movie is from a book that is based on a true story about Permian HS in west Texas, where high school football is a religion. Thornton has the coach thing down pat; his speeches before a game and at halftime are realistic and not over-the-top. Tremendous acting job.