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Tuesday's Top Ten: Random thoughts on Christmas Day......
10) Going to be very emotional day in Indianapolis Sunday, with coach Chuck Pagano back on the sidelines, after a bout with leukemia; problem for Indy is this: Houston needs this game more than they do- they're going for home field thru the AFC playoffs. Colts' position is pretty much set.
9) Boy, I'm glad I don't root for the Jaguars; rumor has them interested in having Tim Tebow as their QB next season. Wonder what coach Mike Mularkey thinks about all that. Seems like a move motivated more by a need to sell tickets than a need to win games.
8) Two worst parts of Moneyball, after watching it for about the 50th time: a) Miguel Tejada was the best player in baseball that year, totally awesome. He isn't in the movie much; the walk-off homer he hit to end their 18th win in a row was far more dramatic than Scott Hatteberg's in the 20th straight win.
b) The hatchet job on Art Howe is unforgiveable. You don't win 20 games in a row or make the playoffs without a good manager. It was unfair.
7) NBAtv replayed Hoop Dreams last night, the documentary about two high school basketball players in Chicago in the 90's; if you like basketball and you haven't seen it, find it. Good stuff.
6) Carson Palmer isn't playing for the Raiders this week, leaving Coach Allen with a choice of Matt Leinart or Tyrelle Pryor at QB; he knows what Leinart is, so doesn't he have to find out about Pryor?
5) If I was a ballplayer and the team told me I had been traded, I'm pretty sure my first question would be, "For who?"
4) Hardest part of handicapping this week's NFL games is determining how important the game is to each team; couple teams will have their bags packed and the motor running in their cars-- find out which teams those are, and you can grab yourself a one-sided win or two.
3) When did Christmas Day become an NBA fest? Not complaining, I enjoy the games, but this is a recent thing, and a good one. Plus three of the four games from the Diamond Head Classic are on ESPNU. Arizona-San Diego State will be a fun nightcap to the day.
2) Note to add to the "Basic Rules of Gambling": Never give June Jones points in a bowl game in Hawai'i.
1) RIP, Jack Klugman. Thanks for all the enjoyment you provided us.
A friend once asked me which TV/movie character I was most like; this was many years ago. Without hesitating, I said Oscar Madison on TV's The Odd Couple. Loves sports, pretty casual, wears hats and eats junk food. The man who brought Oscar to life on TV passed away at age 90 Monday, the great actor Jack Klugman, who also played Quincy the medical examiner.
He once owned a thoroughbred racehorse named Jaklin Klugman who ran at the Travers at Saratoga, so he was there that weekend. He presented a trophy to the winner of a race at the Saratoga Raceway harness track the night before the Travers. I also owned an autographed lithograph from Jack and his horse Jaklin. Thats how big I was into horse racing years ago. I bought it only because of Mr. Klugman. RIP, sir.
Wednesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but..........
13) Houston Texans had 59 plays of 20+ yards in their first 14 games, an average of 4.2 per game; they had none against the Vikings Sunday; they have to be at least a little nervous heading into Indianapolis Sunday.
12) Rumor mill has Steve Mariucci interested in coaching the Chargers; he was 60-43 coaching the 49ers, 15-28 with the Lions, and now works for the NFL Network. Curious to see what direction San Diego goes in.
11) Most underrated NBA coach; Minnesota's Rick Adelman, whose career record is 984-668, all in smaller markets. He had eight consecutive winning years with Sacramento, which hasn't had one since, and hadn't one before since 1983. Also got Portland to the NBA Finals twice.
10) Adelman has a 79-78 career playoff record, and in 20 seasons as head coach, has only three losing ones, yet he gets no acclaim at all.
9) Jason Garreett is Cowboys' 7th head coach since Jerry Jones sent Tom Landry packing; they beat Philly 34-14 in '09 playoffs, Dallas' only playoff win since beating the Vikings 40-15 in '96. Garrett is doing a solid job and will be retained, if owner/GM Jones knows what he's doing-- I'm guessing Jones might be tempted to take a run at potential free agent Sean Payton.
8) If you care about such things, NFC teams finished up 38-26 against AFC teams this year; all 16 games this week are divisional games. If you are interested in totals, over is 119-118-3 this season.
7) This is how sensitive NBA players are to any form of criticism; Jeff Van Gundy used term "non-strengths" to describe Carmelo Anthony's, um, weaknesses, as if acknowledging that he has weaknesses would be seen as a form of criticism. Yikes.
6) Nets have the second-highest payroll in the NBA? Ouch!!!!
5) Why is Amare Stoudamire untradeable? He has three years and $65M left on his contract, and a bad knee. He's the NBA version of ARod.
4) Read on Twitter that after South Dakota State lost at Belmont last week, they actually took a bus from Nashville to Albuquerque, which according to Mapquest, is a mere 1,221 miles. Jackrabbits then upset New Mexico, which could provide bus companies with more business in coming years.
3) Uniforms the NBA teams wore in Tuesday's games will probably sell a lot online, but to the TV viewer, it would be nice if you could read what the numbers actually were. Orange numbers, orange jerseys are atrocious on TV.
2) Indiana State pulled a mild upset in 3rd-place game of Diamond Head tourney out in Hawai'i, beating Miami 57-55 in OT; doesn't sound like a lot, but it is the kind of game that could pop up on Selection Sunday. .
1) Championship game at Diamond Head went to Arizona, which nipped San Diego State 68-67 in a terrific game. Seemed like a March game.
-- Power of suggestion: I'm hungry Wednesday night, can't decide what to eat while I'm watching the Pizza Bowl on ESPN, then it dawned on me-- what kind of an American would I be if I didn't get a pizza while watching the Pizza Bowl? With apologies to Little Caeser's, I got it from my local pizza place.
-- Bobcats lost their 17th straight game, 105-92 vs Miami; you look at the two rosters, hard to believe they're in the same league.
-- Red Sox traded for Pirate closer Joel Hanrahan, and announced the former closer Andrew Bailey will be a setup guy. Thats the same Bailey they sent Josh Reddick to Oakland for. Whoops.
-- Suns have trailed by double digits in 22 of their 29 games; they won six of those 22 games, but they're not a good defensive team. Should've kept Mike D'Antoni; they were bad on defense, but at least they won.
-- Robert Griffin III was the only rookie named to the Pro Bowl roster.
-- Admire Knicks' Chris Copeland, who worked to make himself a good NBA player; he's played in Germany-Belgium-Spain-Holland before this stint with the Knicks. Doubt he'll be seeing Belgium again.
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a snowy day........
13) Over last eight years, only one #1 seed (Saints in ’09) won the Super Bowl, and they played a #1 seed (Colts) in the Super Bowl, so one of them had to win.
12) The last five #1 seeds who played a non-#1 seed in the Super Bowl all lost; Patriots over Carolina was last time a #1 beat a non-#1 in the big game. John Fox could get his revenge for that this year.
11) You don’t think the NFL is a long season? If New England doesn’t get a bye, it’ll be in large part because they lost at home to the Cardinals in Week 2. The 5-10 Cardinals, who started the season 4-0.
10) Off-seasons are getting shorter in sports; the 2013 PGA Tour starts a week from tomorrow in Kapalua.
9) Cleveland Browns may have to use their #3 QB this week against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, but it’s a guy I like, Thad Lewis, who started for four years at Duke (under David Cutcliffe, QB guru for the Manning brothers) and has played well in preseason games for the Rams/Browns.
Lot of people in St Louis were annoyed when the previous regime let Lewis slip away last year to former OC Pat Shurmur, now the Browns’ HC.
8) Sometimes life is simple: New Jersey Giants are 8-0 when they score more than 21 points, 0-7 when they do not.
7) Over last 21 years, winner of the first Eagle-Giant matchup is 17-4 in the second one. Philly won the first meeting this year, 19-17.
6) Selection Sunday in college basketball is very late this year, St Patrick’s Day. Final Four is five days after baseball season starts. Not sure why. I will be there in Atlanta regardless to see the Final Four.
5) When the Indians were recruiting Ohio State alum Nick Swisher to join their club, they utilized former OSU football coach Jim Tressel, who joined Swisher and club brass for lunch. It worked, and even better, the NCAA won’t be bugging the Tribe anytime soon.
4) Arizona Cardinals’ RB Beanie Wells, who played for Tressel with the Buckeyes, says he is done with Arizona and “…….will be auditioning for the other 31 teams.” If you were an NFL GM, would you want a guy on your team who thought that way, before the season was over? I wouldn’t.
3) Swisher’s old team, the Bronx Bombers had a payroll of $209.8M last year; they hope to be under $189M in 2014, so they won’t have to pay any more luxury tax. They are an old team that will be probably be glad when they get out from under the weighty contracts of their declining, aging stars.
2) I never thought I’d see the day where the Clippers (22-6) had NBA’s best record. LA’s bench played so well Tuesday night that two key Denver subs, Corey Brewer (-29 in 21:00) and JaVale McGee (-23 in 19:00) had truly awful plus/minuses, which doesn’t happen much.
1) Heard quite a few people say this weekend how Giants don’t deserve to make the playoffs because they played so poorly the last two weeks, but if they win this week, and Redskins-Packers-Lions win, then the Giants will make it, and why shouldn’t they?
It’s a 16-game season; stuff that happens in September matters just as much as the games now, and hey, the last two Super Bowl champs were #6 seeds in the NFC. So we’ll see on Sunday night who gets in and who doesn’t, but whoever makes it, they earned it, for sure.
Friday's Dirty Dozen: Doing some thinking out loud........
12) 14-14 Nets, who have NBA's 2nd-highest payroll, fired Avery Johnson, as Deron Williams claims another coaching scalp. If Williams would stop complaining about the offense and shoot higher than 39%, maybe the team would win more games and the coach wouldn't get fired. Just maybe.
11) Unrelated Nets item: their 108-93 loss at Milwaukee was Brooklyn's first road game out of 12 that went over the total.
10) Bad Beat of the Year, on December 27??? If you had Duke +9.5 in that Belk Bowl, you're sick. Duke had the ball with 1:40 to go in a tie game on the Cincinnati 7-yard line. How could you lose? Thankfully one of our Best Bets in the Bowl season finally caught a break and we won.
Well, Duke fumbled, then the Bearcats hit an 83-yard TD pass to a tight end who isn't exactly Usain Bolt, then Cincinnati got a sack/fumble/TD for the covering touchdown that had to make Duke backers puke.
9) So if this Baylor QB Nick Florence leads the country in total offense the year after RGIII goes pro, how does Bears' coach Art Briles not get hired by an SEC school? No Pac-12 jobs came open (except for Colorado, thats a bad weather place, not well-suited for Briles' offense). Does Baylor have the financial resources to keep Briles long-term? We hope so.
8) Raymond Felton broke his pinkie, is out 4-6 weeks, leaving point guard in New York to Jason Kidd/Pablo Prigioni, couple of NBA senior citizens.
7) Good news for UNLV; star F Mike Moser is back practicing; he won't play in Chapel Hill Saturday, but he figures to be ready for conference play.
6) Upset of the bowl season: My 82-year old dad staying up for the end of the Belk Bowl (Cincinnati-Duke); has to be a damned good game for him to stay up for the end when he's not involved financially, and its not the Knicks, Giants or Yankees playing.
5) Houston Rockets are 16-12, pretty good job considering it looks like they totally wasted their first round draft pick on Royce White, who has a fear of flying and isn't playing right now. White had his problems in college and had to be considered a high-risk pick. He is talented, but..........
4) Golden State Warriors are 19-10; at this rate, Mark Jackson will win Coach of the Year, but remember; Jerry West works for the Warriors now. He is the best executive in NBA history. Winning follows him.
3) We all know the Pro Bowl is useless and should be done away with, but the 2-13 Chiefs have five guys in the Pro Bowl; 7-7-1 Rams have none.
2) Louisville shotblocker Gorgui Dieng will play Saturday vs Kentucky, in one of America's biggest rivalry games; big game for Pitino. This is first time in a while he has a better team than Calipari.
1) If Avery Johnson gets fired, how does GM Billy King stay? Look at the roster; this is a great team? What has King done to deserve a job like this? If you own the Nets, how do you put PJ Carlesimo in charge of anything? He once had his best player try to choke him. Good grief, what a mess.
Saturday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind........
13) I’m watching Celtics-Clippers late Thursday night; its freakin’ December 27, and the announcers are discussing who should be the league’s MVP this year. Only 116 days left in the regular season; we’re still weeks from the season’s halfway point.
How about we just play the season out and talk about it at the end? Way too much talk these days about the Heisman, MVPs, POYs, how about talking about teams winning and losing? Isn’t that whats most important?
12) Only one of the top 23 college basketball teams (Duke) plays in the ACC; in an attempt to keep up with football Joneses, ACC commish John Swofford has ruined the ACC in both basketball and football. Nicely done.
11) Last four unbeaten college hoop teams: Arizona-Duke-Michigan-Wyoming. Anyone who had Wyoming before the season raise your hand; if your hand is raised, you’re lying. No one thought the Cowboys were this good, not even their coach.
10) When Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall bolted for Southern Miss, part of the deal was that USM would play Morehead three times, with two of the three games at Morehead. Unusual deal, but one way for stepping stone school to get the bigger boys to visit their gym once in a while.
9) I’m hoping the Red Sox sign Adam LaRoche and Nationals move Ryan Zimmerman to 1B. That would help my sons fantasy team a lot and since its like springtime here in Florida in December there is nothing better to think about than fantasy baseball.
8) Unless of course, if you have Evan Longoria on your team and you read that in last two years, he’s played in only 207 of a possible 324 games. Then you mumble to yourself and go back to thinking about football/basketball.
7) Raul Ibanez got $2.75M from the Mariners; Bronx couldn’t afford him? Ibanez was their best clutch hitter last fall, seems like they could afford $3M.
6) Saw the new line of MLB batting practice caps; some original designs, but nothing that has me running off to Lids.
5) If I ran the San Diego Padres, I go back to brown/gold uniforms they had back when Dave Winfield was playing for them; way more interesting than the dull uniforms they have now.
4) Another reason why this bowl system sucks, as I beat an already dead horse: 6-7 Georgia Tech made a bowl, and a good one (Sun Bowl in El Paso); they lost more games than they won!!!! Louisiana Tech went 9-3, led the country with eleven 40-point games, and they stayed home. Terrific.
3) Speaking of El Paso, USC players have been tweeting complaints about El Paso; they don’t seem happy there. Team’s practice ran so long the other day they arrived an hour late for the dinner the bowl organizes for both teams. By time the Trojans got there, Georgia Tech had already left. Lane Kiffin has an uncanny knack for offending people. Wonder what this will mean for their bowl game.
2) If I’m USC AD Pat Haden, I call ESPN and offer to trade them hoop coach Kevin O’Neill for rookie ESPN analyst Bruce Pearl. Trojans need someone to revitalize their hoop program and sell it to LA.
Pearl was the first coach in years who made men’s basketball more popular than women’s ball at Tennessee. Someone is going to throw a lot of money at Pearl this spring and if Haden is as smart as he thinks he is, it’ll be him. O’Neill also used to be Tennessee’s coach, by the way.
1) The Big 10 has 12 teams this year, will have 14 next year. Atlantic 10 has 16 teams now, will have 14 next year, unless the seven Catholic defectors from the Big East log on, then it’ll be 21 teams.
The Big XII has X teams, and we’re not going to talk about Boise State/San Diego State being in both the Big East and Big West, in different sports. Its confusing being a sports fan these days. Hopefully 2013 will be a little bit less confusing, but I kind of doubt it will.