First Pitch: Sunday Quick Hits

I’m going rapid fire today on a few thoughts around sports:

**I’ve been getting back into football this year after a break of several years. I spent that time obviously with a hardcore focus on baseball, at a time when baseball’s analytics departments blew up. Switching back to football, I’m still amazed at how little the analytic side plays into the game. Even when teams make a non-traditional call that makes sense, the announcers question it (like going for it on 4th down in the 3rd quarter when you need touchdowns, not field goals). I’m guessing the questioning leads to the resistance for some teams to use the non-traditional methods.

**Neal Huntington deserves plenty of criticism for the Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole trades, but he also deserves a lot of credit for the trade that sent Andrew McCutchen out for Bryan Reynolds and Kyle Crick. I’m not sure if Reynolds can sustain this level of play, but he’s been one of the few bright spots on this team this year, as well as a bright spot looking toward the future. And the other player in that return unknowingly punched a pedophile, so that’s an added bonus.

**I never really had a college team to follow, and went to a small division III school, so that didn’t change as I got older. I used to follow Virginia Tech (because I lived near and hated UVA) and USC (Reggie Bush was my favorite college player). That win by USC on Friday night was amazing to watch, especially with Bush returning and celebrating one of the touchdowns.

**I’m wondering if Mitch Keller will lose prospect status this year. He needs seven more innings, which requires one really good start to finish the year, or two starts in total. He could still get two more starts, but the Pirates could hold him back if they want to keep him in their prospect rankings. More importantly, I want to see the approach he takes with his pitch selection. He went 68% fastballs two starts ago, and dropped down to mid-50% last time out, with better results.

**I really want to write something about Marvel/Sony/Spider-Man. I have a lot to say, especially after watching Far From Home again. That’s coming eventually.

**The Jets with the points and New Orleans are two of the top NFL picks I’m looking at today. I’ll update this after noon with the picks I’ve made.

**UPDATE 12:12 PM: I’ve got the following NFL picks today:

NYJ +21 (I hate going against the Patriots, but this gets the highest ratings from my metrics)

BAL +5

DEN +7

CAR ML +120

NO ML +199 (Maybe my favorite pick when considering I don’t like going against the Patriots for the Jets pick)

CLE ML +166


John Dreker has an article this afternoon. We’ll also have the live discussion and any news that comes up.


Today’s song of the day only has about 700 views on YouTube, so I’m guessing not many have heard this one. It’s a great slow burn song that will get you going in the morning, especially if you happened to stay up really late last night to watch UCLA’s amazing comeback.


Short quiz today. You’ve got one minute to name all of the NFL’s 50,000 yard passers.


By John Dreker

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including a member of the 1990 NL East champs and another that played for the 1960 World Series champs. Starting with the most recent first:

Wally Backman, infielder for the 1990 Pirates. He was signed as a free agent in January and hit .292 in 104 games, spending most of his time at third base while occasionally starting at second base. He went 1-for-7 with a walk and stolen base in the NLCS.

Harry Bright spent three seasons with the Pirates (1958-60), playing a small part for the 1960 World Series champs. Bright hit .250 over 55 games during his first two seasons with the Pirates and he was used four times as a pinch-hitter during the 1960 season. He was part of a four-player deal with the Washington Senators after the 1960 season.

Ira Flagstead, outfielder for the 1929-30 club. Played all three outfield positions and hit .257 in 70 games. He spent a total of 13 seasons in the majors and was a .290 hitter, who twice led the league in outfield assists.

On this date in 1909, the Pirates won 12-7 over the Boston Doves (Braves) to improve their lead in the NL to ten games, their largest lead of the season. It was the Pirates 13th win in a row on their way to 16 straight wins. The top six batters in the Pirates lineup all scored two runs apiece. Honus Wagner had a double and home run, while Dots Miller had three hits. Here’s the boxscore, which notes that just 1,364 people showed up at Forbes Field that day.