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Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a spring day......
13) Umpire Larry Vanover has umpired three games behind the plate this season; a total of 8 runs scored in those games. Cody Ross was called out on strikes on a 2-2 pitch to end Monday’s 1-0 Tampa Bay win; I am told Ross took all five pitches, none of which were in the strike zone. Looked pretty bad on TV. No one pays to see the umpires dominate a game.
12) Each umpire gets a report from MLB after they ump a game behind the plate; from what I’ve read/heard from people who saw the game, Vanover’s report won’t be a good one. Am curious to see his next game, to see if he narrows that strike zone some.
11) Lookalikes; Bronx pitcher Freddy Garcia and actor Dwayne Johnson, aka the Rock.
10) When Matt Cain tossed a 1-hitter Friday, the game’s only base runner was opposing pitcher James McDonald; it was only the 7th time in MLB history that a team had one base runner in a game, with the pitcher being the base runner. Last time it had happened was 1986; before that, 1963.
9) If I owned the A’s, either MLB lets me build a stadium in San Jose, or I pack my bags, call Governor Christie in Trenton, and have the state of New Jersey build me a ballpark next to Giants Stadium. One way or the other, I’d get a new ballpark.
8) Colleges should study pro wrestling’s marketing tactics; they put 78,363 people into Dolphins Stadium for Wrestlemania earlier this month; their pay-per-view was seen in 105 countries, broadcast in 20 languages. They’re very skilled at making money.
7) Was he kidding? Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz claims not to know which division of the Big Dozen his Hawkeyes are in. Now, the pompous league office named the divisions Leaders and Legends, so that makes it easier to confuse, but you’d think he would know. They didn’t want to go with east/west because they’re not separating Ohio State/Michigan, but with San Diego State in the Big East, who cares about geographic accuracy?
6) My nomination for the worst quarter of NBA basketball in the last 20 years was the third quarter in Charlotte Monday, when New Orleans outscored the Bobcats 12-8.
I mean, if a high school game was 12-8 after an 8:00 quarter, you’d be yawning. This is highly-paid pros playing a 12:00 quarter. Yikes.
5) Jets are going to have separate offenses for Sanchez and Tebow? Yeah, that always works well.
4) One of Bob Huggins’ assistants got an NAIA head coaching job; his place on staff will likely be filled by former Duquesne coach Ron Everhart, who improved the Dukes but couldn’t get them over the hump in a tough league.
3) Its too bad if the BYU-Utah football rivalry goes away; Utes are in the Pac-12 now, and don’t need an additional non-league game that is highly emotional.
For some ridiculous reason, BYU has become an independent, so they really need the Utah game, it would be biggest game on their schedule most years.
2) BYU sees itself as Notre Dame, which is fine, but my question is, why would you want to be like Notre Dame? They’re an irrelevant program that rarely plays in big games, because the vast majority of big games are conference games. Kids want to play in big games, they want rivalries. My opinion is that being an independent has hurt Notre Dame’s recruiting, and no one wins without really good players.
1) Read recently where Vince Young sees himself as a starting QB. My question to him would be this: Would he rather live in Calgary, Edmonton or Regina? CFL is the only league where he’s still a starting quarterback.
-- Felix Hernandez blanked Cleveland for eight innings, but was taken out because he had thrown 126 pitches; closer League blew the lead, as Tribe rallied for two runs in 9th to beat the Mariners, 2-1.
-- Very quietly, Texas Rangers are 11-2, 6-0 on the road. Impressive.
-- Tremendous week for the A's, who won three of four in Anaheim, with wins against Haren-Santana-Wilson. They're 7-7 now, coming off a 4-3 road trip- they scored two runs on a grounder to the pitcher last night.
-- Before Cliff Lee's performance Wednesday, the last Phillie pitcher who tossed 10 scoreless innings in a game? Steve Carlton, in 1981.
-- Phoenix Coyotes won in OT at Chicago, the fourth straight series game that went overtime, with visitor winning three of those four games.
-- Miami Heat beat the Bulls, moving to within 1.5 games of the top seed in the East; very important, since Miami has struggled mightily against good teams on the road.
Friday's List of 13: Doing some tinking out loud.........
13) In 1990, the Mets changed managers, replacing a guy who went 595-417 as their skipper; they’ve made the playoffs three times in 21 years since, with no world titles.
In ’95, the Reds replaced a manager who was 204-172 for them; their record in playoff games since then, 0-3.
In ‘97, the Orioles went 98-64, then changed managers after the season. They haven’t had a season over .500 since.
Why do I bring this up? In all three cases, the manager who left was current Washington manager Davey Johnson, who was also 163-161 as manager of the Dodgers in ’99-’00, and 50-44 currently with the young, improving Nationals, so in five different places, his record is over .500 in all five. Pretty impressive.
12) Elias Sports Bureau was scrambling late Wednesday night, trying to find the record for most consecutive strikes thrown by a pitcher; best they could come up with (since 1988) was knuckleballer Tim Wakefield’s 30 strikes in a row, back in ‘98. Bartolo Colon threw 38 in a row Wednesday, from 5th-8th innings, as he blanked the Angels for eight innings in a 6-0 Oakland win. Not sure why batters don’t try and bunt more against him, but they don’t.
11) Umpire Bob Davidson is famous for calling balks no one else would, gaining him the nickname Balkin’ Bob; when he called one against Arizona’s Ian Kennedy Tuesday night, manager Kirk Gibson was seen cursing Davidson out (wasn’t hard to read his lips) from the 3rd base dugout.
Once again, while the umpires are a vital part of the game, but no one pays to see them work.
10) Mariners’ crowd of 11,343 Wednesday night was lowest in history of still fairly-new Safeco Field. New ballparks are nice, but if you don't win, people are still going to stay home.
9) Every spring, I read these articles about how the Royals are going to be so much better; based on what? Bruce Chen as their Opening Day starter? After opening the season by taking two of three in Anaheim, the Royals are 1-8, losing their first six home games. You need pitching to win. Lot of it.
8) Giants beat the Phillies 1-0 in 11 innings during the week, a game in which only 59 pitches were called balls, the lowest I can remember in time ESPN.com has been running their new/improved boxscores. 59 balls, 45 called strikes; that’s the closest I’ve seen to a game with more called strikes than balls. Lee-Cain were the starters, which figures.
7) How does SMU offer basketball coaches $2M a year when their average home attendance LY was 2,013? And if they can’t find someone better to run their program than Larry Brown, a guy who changes jobs every year and a half or so, then they should pay me to be a head hunter, because I could find the right guy. This is a Big East job now. You don't hire a coach just because the guy is bored and he has a lot of connected friends.
6) I have to repeat this. How does SMU offer a basketball coach $2M a year when their average home attendance LY was 2,013?
5) NC State got some great news when CJ Leslie decided to come back and play next season; its decisions like that a school needs to stay in the top 20 year after year. Helps the team and also helps the kid get better.
4) Kid named Jarrod Uthoff was Iowa’s Mr Basketball in 2011; in his first year at Wisconsin, he red-shirted this past year, but now wants to transfer out of Madison. Badgers coach Bo Ryan released him from his scholarship, but also blocked Uthoff from going to any Big Dozen school or in-state rival Marquette (which is common) and also Iowa State and the entire ACC (which is quite uncommon).
Ryan took so much grief that he changed his tune and now Uthoff can go anywhere he wants, except to another Big Dozen school. Thats fair.
3) Baltimore Ravens brought former starter Kyle Boller back in to tryout as a backup to Joe Flacco; without Boller a couple years ago, the Rams never would’ve gotten Sam Bradford. Rams were trailing San Francisco 7-6 late in the second half of the season finale, a game they had to lose or else blow the chance to draft Bradford, their QB of the future.
Coaches took one look at the possible win and yanked QB Keith Null (who wasn’t half bad) and put Boller back in, thereby guaranteeing defeat.
2) How would you like to have been a fly on the wall at the meeting where the Secret Service guys had to explain to the White House guys what their people were doing down in Colombia? Whoops.
1) NBA scoring is down three points per 100 possessions this year, due in large part to the ridiculous condensed schedule teams were given after the lockout. Watch some of these games; not many of them are being played at full speed. You’ll see a big difference in energy when the playoffs start, and teams actually get to prepare/rest.