John Clay

Walker Buehler is the king of trash talk, but the Dodgers love him anyway

Eddie Gran breaks down Kentucky football’s first fall scrimmage

Kentucky football offensive coordinator Eddie Gran talks about Saturday’s scrimmage at Kroger Field. It was the team’s first scrimmage of fall camp. UK opens the 2019 season on Aug. 31 against the visiting Toledo Rockets.
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Kentucky football offensive coordinator Eddie Gran talks about Saturday’s scrimmage at Kroger Field. It was the team’s first scrimmage of fall camp. UK opens the 2019 season on Aug. 31 against the visiting Toledo Rockets.

Random notes:

The current edition of Sports Illustrated does a deep dive with current Los Angeles Dodgers pitching star Walker Buehler, including the former Henry Clay High School star’s penchant for trash talking.

“I was here two days and he called me a piece of (trash),” Dodgers’ first baseman David Freese told SI’s Tom Verducci. “I was like, ‘Whoa.’ But he can pull it off because he’s so likable and because he can back it up. Everybody loves him here. He’s just a good dude with an amazing arm. He’s going to win a Cy Young or four.”

Heading into Thursday’s start at Miami, Buehler was 10-2 with a 3.08 ERA. He was fifth in the majors in Fielding Independent Pitching at 2.95. Buehler has struck out 160 batters in 137 1/3 innings, the same amount of innings he pitched in all of 2018. Last year, Buehler walked 37 batters. This year he’s at 23.

Only 10 pitchers in MLB history have struck out at least 11 batters while not allowing a walk four times in a season. Buehler and Sandy Koufax are the only Dodgers to do it. Pretty good company, to say the least.

On Wednesday, Vanderbilt became the fifth SEC school to say it will expand beer and wine sales at its home football games this season. The Commodores join Missouri, LSU, Texas A&M and Arkansas. Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Auburn, Alabama and Georgia have all announced they will not do so. Ole Miss, Tennessee and Florida have yet to announce a decision.

Florida State has also announced it will sell beer and wine at home football games. After last year’s 5-7 record, maybe the school figured Seminoles fans needed it.

Kentucky volleyball is seventh in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason rankings. Craig Skinner’s Cats are the highest-ranked SEC team in the poll, ahead of Florida (10) and Tennessee (19). Louisville is ranked 25th.

Coming off back-to-back SEC titles, UK will play an exhibition match against Western Kentucky on Aug. 21 at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. The Cats open the season Aug. 30 against No. 23 Cal Poly in the Utah Tournament in Salt Lake City. The first home match is Sept. 13 against Cleveland State.

Interesting Kentucky football stat: In Eddie Gran’s three seasons as offensive coordinator, UK’s completion percentage has gone from 54.5 percent in 2016 to 59.4 percent in 2017 to 65.5 percent last season. And last year’s number despite the fact Gran revealed on Media Day that the Cats misconnected on 30 bubble screen passes last season.

Trainer Bill Mott says he plans to return Country House to training in October in hopes of a 2020 campaign. Country House has not raced since winning the Kentucky Derby when Maximum Security was disqualified for interference.

Soon the SEC and Big Ten Networks will have another competitor. The new ACC Network has reached an agreement with Spectrum for distribution. It debuts Aug. 22. It will telecast defending national champion Clemson’s Aug. 29 opener against Georgia Tech.

An interesting and surprising new study says head impacts are up 26 percent despite the fact the NCAA did away with college football’s two-a-day practices in 2017. The thinking is coaches were more likely to limit contact during two-a-days than the now one-per-day practices.

A combo sports/entertainment note, sort of. Attended the inaugural Railbird Festival last weekend at Keeneland. Had a terrific time. Personal highlights: Brandi Carlile, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Raconteurs (especially Jack White blurting out “Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky”), Mavis Staples, I’m With Her, The Wooks and last but certainly not least, Lawrence County’s own Tyler Childers, who performed a triumphant Sunday night homecoming before an overflow audience. If his finale of “Shake The Frost” didn’t tug at your heart strings, well, I can’t help you.

Other than some departure difficulties the first night, heard positive reviews from out-of-towners and veteran festival goers about Keeneland’s setup and Lexington’s hospitality. Hope it returns next year.

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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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