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-- Pittsburgh Pirates are 29-27, which wouldn't be big news except for the fact that the Pirates' last winning season was 20 years ago.
-- I'm convinced Lebron James is more comfortable fading away when he shoots, as opposed to standing still, like for foul shots.
-- Milwaukee Brewers used 21 different lineups in their last 21 games.
-- Oakland A's won Brandon McCarthy's last six starts; he's going to make a lot of money in free agency this winter.
-- Why would a player who wants to play in the NBA go to the Draft Combine but not work out? How does that help his rating?
-- NCAA is investigating Idaho State after LY's interim coach, who was not retained by the school, turned one of ISU's boosters in for offering to pay off players to play for the Bengals. Wonder if the virtuous interim coach would've been so honest had he gotten the job full-time?
Friday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Only once in the last 38 years (1985) have NBA playoff games been faster-paced than regular season games were that season. Playoffs include a lot more half-court basketball, lot more late shot clock situations, which requires players who can make difficult shots under pressure. Its not as much fun to watch, especially when the same two teams play each other seven times in two weeks.
12) Everyone knows everyone else’s plays. How teams double the post changes from game-to-game, but those are subtle changes. So you get more fouling, but its not the refs’ fault. Games are just a lot more physical, and tensions mount as the physical contact increases. The last time regular season NBA games averaged more fouls/game than playoffs games was 1983. You get the picture.
11) If I owned the Saints, and Lord knows I’m not a wealthy guy and wealthy people think differently, but anyway, if I were Tom Benson, I’d call Drew Brees (not his agent) and find out what it would take to get him signed, then he’d pretty much get whatever he wanted, within reason.
Brees has the Saints over a barrel, just admit it and move on; he will be the de facto offensive coordinator this season. You need him working with a clear mind, unifying the other players.
10) Logan Morrison is hitting .368 in day games, .142 at night; not sure why this would be, since roof is closed for just about every Miami home game anyway, but maybe he needs to take a nap before night games.
9) SI.com ran a terrific article on Joey Votto this week; it said that over the last four seasons, Votto had come to bat 2,138 times, and hit three (3) infield pop-ups, as well as one foul ball into the stands on the first base (his pull) side. Cincinnati is definitely a hitter’s yard, but those are staggering numbers no matter where he plays.
8) Since 2010, the major league leaders in on-base percentage: Votto .428, Miguel Cabrera .424, Prince Fielder .404. Votto is that good.
7) My A’s are a weird organization; they announced that Scott Hatteberg will replace Ray Fosse for 20 games on A’s TV broadcasts this season. Fosse has broadcast A’s games for 27 years; he has made it clear there is nothing wrong with him and its not his call. Hatteberg has zero broadcast experience. I’m in no way in favor of this-- it’s often a cold world.
6) By the way, I’d feel better about the A’s if the front office spent less time worrying about TV announcers and more time finding a 1B who can hit. Or a 3B. Or if they just tried to win before they get their new stadium in San Jose, if they get it at all.
5) Jeff Van Gundy is confused why people don't like the Heat; its because people resent the players putting together their own team, and then pretty much declaring themselves champs before they had practiced together.
Free agency has been great for the players; it sucks for the fans.
4) President Obama raised $60M in May, which is impressive, except for the fact that Mitt Romney raised $76M. Where does all that money go?
3) If you bet season over/under win totals in baseball, use W-L records in one-run games to identify risers/fallers the next year. Arizona was 28-16 in one-run games LY; they’re 5-11 this year. Breaks of the game don’t fall the same way every year.
2) Basketball player named Jared Uthoff went to Wisconsin this past year, but red-shirted, meaning he still has four years to play ball after not playing in games this season, but the kid wanted to transfer.
The school has to release the player from his scholarship so he can transfer and get another scholarship, which is most always done, but Badger coach Bo Ryan only released the kid with a lengthy list of schools he couldn’t attend, and he got killed for it in the press. Seemed petty at the time.
Eventually, Ryan said he could go anywhere but another Big Dozen school, which is normally how its done. You don’t want your old recruits playing against you. So everything wound up normal until this week.
1) So what happens? Uthoff is paying his own way to go to Iowa (league rival of Wisconsin’s) next year, making people in the know believe Uthoff-to-Iowa was a done deal from the start, and that takes lot of heat off of Ryan, who apparently had an inkling of what was going on.
All of this should make Badger-Hawkeye games more fun to watch the next few years. Uthoff could’ve gone to Iowa State/Creighton or a few other quality programs for free, but he chose to pay to go to Iowa. Interesting.
-- Seattle Mariners used six pitchers to no-hit the Dodgers late Friday; starter Kevin Millwood left after six innings with a leg injury.
-- Tampa Bay Rays have used six third basemen, nine cleanup hitters in the 35 games since Evan Longoria got hurt, but they've gone 18-17.
-- 36,069 fans showed up in Pittsburgh for Royals-Pirates Friday night, as the hot Bucs are now 30-27 and threatening to contend.
-- Mets gave Johan Santana two extra days of rest after his 134-pitch no-hitter last week, not letting him pitch against division leader Washington; he gave up four HRs in five IP in a 9-1 loss to Bronx Friday.
-- Bryce Harper is hitting .288 with six HRs; he's 19 years old. Harper hit a HR into the CF seats at Fenway Friday. Nationals won 7-4.
-- Stephen Strasburg induced 20 swings/misses Friday; none of the other 29 starting pitchers in the majors last night had more than 13.
Saturday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but.........
13) Rangers/Cardinals leads MLB with 24 wins each by 3+ runs, with Toronto next at 23; those three teams are combined 22-43 in games decided by 1 or 2 runs.
12) Three teams that do worse in close games than in games decided by 3+ runs: Cardinals 6-15/24-14 Rangers 9-14/25-11 Blue Jays 7-14/23-14
11) Three teams that do better in close games than in games decided by 3+ runs: Indians 18-7/13-19 Orioles 19-9/13-17 Pirates 21-12/9-15
10) A 6-year old Giant fan sent Brandon Jacobs $3.36 in the mail last week (well, his parents did), when his mother told him Jacobs left the Giants over money-related issues. Jacobs said he cried when he got the letter.
9) If the Patriots don’t want Chad85Johnson, why should any other NFL team? I’m told Saskatchewan is nice in the summer.
8) NBA prospect Andre Drummond has a 7-6 ¾ wingspan; not sure he can play, but if he’s awful, at least he’ll cover a lot of ground being awful.
7) After watching Moneyball for the 23rd time on Starz the other night, had to look up Billy Beane’s playing career; he played small parts of six seasons in the big leagues, getting a total of 319 major league AB's for four different teams. Odd thing is, two of his last three years, the teams he played for (’87 Twins, ’89 A’s) won the World Series that year, so he might actually have two World Series rings as a player, despite playing less than the equivalent of a whole season in the majors.
6) Speaking of those ’87 Twins, they won the World Series despite giving up 20 more runs than they scored during the regular season, winning the AL West with an 83-79 record.
5) Japanese import Yu Darvish is 1-3, 7.40 in his last four starts; its still too early to tell, but the Rangers have to be at least a little concerned about a guy they spent over $100M to sign last winter.
4) RA Dickey hasn’t allowed a run in his last 24.2 IP; would be nice if he started the All-Star Game. He’s come out of nowhere to be one of the game’s best pitchers.
3) Say what you want about the Miami Heat, but they’re polarizing and therefore good for business. Game 6 of Miami-Boston series did an 8.2 rating Thursday, NBA’s best-ever rating for a cable game.
2) By the way, if I haven’t mentioned this before, the in-game interviews with NBA coaches during playoff games are hideous and unnecessary. The league is hurting its product for no reason by having these guys bite their tongues for 60 seconds, so they don’t lose their mind at the stupidity of having to give inane answers to vanilla questions by a terrified interviewer during a high-pressure game.
If the Spurs had gotten to the Finals, Gregg Popovich might have ripped one of Craig Sager’s sportscoats off his back and and shredded it into 20 pieces like Captain Lou Albano used to do on pro wrestling 30 years ago.
1) Tough break for Belmont Park and the NYRA, with 4-5 favorite I’ll Have Another scratched from the Belmont; will probably cost them 30-40,000 admissions Saturday, maybe more. Horse racing may never have another Triple Crown winner; thoroughbreds are no longer able to withstand three tough races in five weeks.
-- 85,811 people showed up at Belmont Saturday, so figure scratching of I'll Have Another cost them 34,000 or so fans.
-- If you need to know whether the roof at Miller Park is going to be open or shut on any given day, call 1-800-774-8587. The Roof Hotline.
-- Giants haven't homered in last 15 home games, longest streak in majors since the Astros in 1990.
-- Devils are first NHL team since 1945 to be down 3-0 in Finals and then force a Game 6, which is Monday at Staples Center.
-- Angels were 6-14 when they brought up Mike Trout; they're 25-15 since then. Trout is at least as good as Bryce Harper. They're both 19.
-- A's are headed to another cruddy season, but at least the AAA team in Sacramento is strong; 40-23. Thats just great. Oh yeah, and they made a movie about when we were good ten years ago. Even better.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday.........
13) Miami-Oklahoma City figures to be an excellent NBA Final; Heat got a huge boost in last two games from return of Chris Bosh. His contributions were really a difference-maker in a very tough series. Oklahoma City will be a more rested team, and they have the home court edge.
12) Will be tons of pressure on the LA Kings at home Monday night, when they host Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, with a chance to win their first Stanley Cup. Last time a team was down 3-0 in Cup Finals and won was all the way back in 1942, when the Toronto Maple Leafs did it.
11) Pretty cool that the tee markers at the Memphis Open are tiny FedEx trucks, since FedEx is the biggest sponsor the PGA Tour has.
10) Imagine companies that bought advertising time on NBC for the horse racing Saturday, with advertising rates befitting a possible Triple Crown winner? Monday morning, someone will have some 'splainin' to do
9) Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden points out that I'll Have Another has retired after six career races; back in 1948, when Citation won the Triple Crown at the Belmont in June, he still ran nine more races, just that year.
8) Adam Jones has now homered in the 12th, 15th, 17th innings this year, as the Orioles handed Philly their sixth walk-off loss this year. Some Phils' fans are frustrated because Jonathan Papelbon hasn't pitched in any of the six walk-off losses. Generally, you hold your closer back on the road, so he can close the game if/when you get the lead. At least thats the plan.
7) Orioles are now 25-9 when they score 4+ runs, 8-17 when they do not.
6) Kent State DH Nick Hamilton is hitting .361 for the Golden Flashes; he is the son of Tom Hamilton, radio voice of the Cleveland Indians.
5) 39,312 fans showed up at PNC Park to see the Pirates beat Kansas City 5-3 for their 11th win in last 14 games.
4) Stony Brook beat LSU 3-1 Saturday behind a kid named Tyler Johnson, who threw 127 pitches in the win, five days after he threw 119 pitches in a win over Central Florida, which was three days after he threw 110 pitches in a win over Miami. Thats 356 pitches in nine days, which explains why pro teams coddle their pitches a little, to make up for the abuse they take in the college ranks. No pro pitcher throws that much in nine days. None.
3) Out of curiosity, I looked to see who drafted this Johnson kid, who is a damn good pitcher if he beat both Miami/LSU with a start in between; as it turns out, my A's drafted him, so now I'm annoyed this coach is overusing his best pitcher, risking an arm injury. Lot of that in college baseball.
2) They've moved the Cal-Stanford football rivalry to late October, away from the traditional late November date. Probably because teams didn't like having a rivalry game so close to the Pac-12 title game.
1) Rough week for the Marlins, who are 0-5, losing by a combined score of 39-8; luckily for the Fish, no one in Miami will notice for a while, with the Heat in the NBA Finals and all.