This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 04/17/2007
A - Arizona. The Diamondbacks don't look pretty on paper, and they are playing without ace Randy Johnson so far, but they have won both on the road and at home, and they are the most profitable team in baseball through the first two weeks of the season. Another pleasant surprise, Seattle, is the king of run line profit so far.
B - Bluegrass Stakes. The good news was that the finish was very exciting. The bad news is that the race did nothing to clear up the Derby picture. Juvenile champ Street Sense made a move down the stretch, but he didn't run anything close to a straight line and came up a whisker short. Four horses were in a photo finish. Great Hunter was a disappointing fifth. The Derby field is pretty murky. Except for…
C - Curlin. Either this horse is the real thing or I am going to lose my Derby money, because his performance in the Arkansas Derby made me a believer. Curlin was breathtaking. He trailed a slow pace, made an easy move at the top of the stretch and pulled away by 10 lengths at the wire. It was as easy and awe inspiring as a performance can be. The problem is that he only has three career starts, and none as a two year old.
D - Detroit. Either the Red Wings are really good or the Flames are really, really bad, because the first two games of their series have been the most one-sided displays of absolute domination that you can possibly see on ice. As a Calgary native I alternate between embarrassment, disgust and homicidal urges.
E - Eagles. Philadelphia somehow managed to accidentally pay Brian Westbrook his $3 million roster bonus twice. Two questions. First, how in the world do you make a mistake with that much money? Second, how come things like that never happen to me?
F - Florida State. If, like me, you think that it is fun to see the Seminoles struggle on the football field, then the Florida State spring game will make you happy. Their problem last year was that they had no worthwhile QB. That doesn't look like it will change. Both Xavier Lee and Drew Weatherford threw two interceptions in the spring game.
G - Generation next. After defending their basketball title with the same cast of players, the Gators will be using some new faces to try to defend their football title. Most important is super sophomore QB Tim Tebow. He was impressive in the spring game, showing us an aspect of his game that we haven't seen before by throwing for three touchdowns.
H - Howard, Dwight. The Magic have clinched a playoff spot, so more people will get to see the amazing Howard play. It will be exciting for the three games his team gets to play. The Magic will almost certainly be no match in the first round, and this will be just one of many mismatches. Maybe the NBA should cut down to 12 playoff teams.
I - Inept. The offenses just aren't rolling yet in baseball. Scoring is down about 2.5 runs per game so far this season. It was expected that Washington and Kansas City would be at the bottom of the offensive lists, but the fact that Oakland joins them is surprising. The lousy early season weather is probably a factor.
J - Jackie Robinson Day. There were six games cancelled on Sunday, the day to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Robinson's debut. Do you think maybe the spirit of Robinson ordered the weather because he thought it was ridiculous that so many people were going to wear number 42?
K - King Felix. Apparently Felix Hernandez never got the memo telling him that it was supposed to be Dice-K's day to shine in Boston. What a ridiculous performance. Hernandez has been virtually untouchable this year - easily the best pitcher in the game so far. The scariest part is that he's only 21, so if he has finally figured it out, opposing batters could have a rough decade or more.
L - Lakers. Kobe scored 50 for the 10th time this season on Sunday to clinch a playoff spot for the Lakers. I'm not sure that 100 a game would be enough to lift his team to a first-round playoff win. The Lakers are proof of how weak the bottom half of the West is.
M - Madness. If you haven't been paying attention to the playoff series between the San Jose Sharks and the Nashville Predators then you're missing out. It's armed combat on ice. There have been hits and fights and suspensions, and they have even managed to squeeze some good hockey in, too. You have to love it when teams don't like each other.
N - NASCAR. The Samsung 500 was a crazy race. Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya failed to understand physics, and their recklessness caused a huge wreck that knocked out several cars. In the end Jeff Burton won the race after leading for only the last half lap.
O - Overtime. Hockey shines in the playoffs, and it's overtime that makes it so great. The quadruple overtime marathon in Vancouver to start the series against Dallas was what every true hockey fan dreams of. Bettors, too - it's no surprise that the next game went under given the absolute exhaustion of both teams.
P - Painful. To the surprise of no one, the Wizards are struggling mightily without Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. The low point may have been on Sunday - they scored just 68 and lost by 33 to the Bulls. As the standings sit right now, the playoff bets would seem to be the Raptors and the under.
Q - Quit pretending. Who does Greg Oden think he is fooling? His people are insisting that he hasn't decided if he is going pro or not. Are we supposed to believe that? If he thinks that there's a single good reason for him not to go pro and claim the top spot in the draft then he should call Matt Leinart.
R - Reversal. If you didn't like the impact that the clock rule changes had on college football last year (fewer plays), then this was your lucky week. The rules have been tossed, and we are back to how it was in the glory days of 2005. The whole thing was much ado about nothing as it turns out.
S - Schedule. The NFL finally released their schedule for next year after teasing us with it for a few weeks. It's bad news for those of us that hate the Colts - we'll be stuck watching them in prime time way too much. The game I have circled is the Titans and the Saints in week three - Vince + Reggie = fireworks.
T - Toronto. Blue Jays fans have to be more than a little concerned right now. Closer B.J. Ryan saved their hides a lot last year, and he got paid a pretty penny to do it. After an ugly explosion against Detroit on the weekend for his second blown save in five tries, Ryan hit the DL with elbow problems. The staff isn't good enough to do it themselves - they need a solid closer.
U - Unbelievable. I wasn't sure I'd say this all year, but the Washington Nationals were a fantastic bet this week. They have won two of their last three, and they have paid off handsomely - +222 and +265. Great payoffs, but relying on the Nats to come through regularly will be a good way to go broke.
V - Vikings. Minnesota cornerback Cedric Griffin is the latest NFL player to run afoul of the law, and perhaps for the most ridiculous reason yet. He got into a fight with bouncers after being kicked out of a club for refusing to pull his pants up so the crotch didn't sag down to his knees. I guess Vikings' brass would prefer that over another love boat debacle.
W - Wells, Bonzi. The guy didn't show up for a game with his Houston Rockets because he didn't think he was playing well enough and he was hurting the team. That is bizarre. He's right, but it's still weird. I'd spend more time worrying about the impact of this behaviour on team chemistry in the playoffs if I thought this team had a chance of getting past any of the big three in the West.
X - Xcitement. I don't know what was better - watching Johan Santana and Scott Kazmir duel on Friday, or seeing Kazmir pay off at +192 when the Rays found a way to win. It wasn't a characteristic Santana start, but he usually isn't at his best early in the year. Kazmir, on the other hand, was very impressive.
Y - Yankees. The Bombers might want to spend some of their $90 billion payroll on a trainer for their pitching staff. This week saw Carl Pavano and Mike Mussina join Chien-Ming Wang on the DL. Three starters on the DL at once - that has to be some sort of a record. If you can throw reasonably hard then you might want to get on a plane and head to New York - you're needed.
Z - Zack Johnson. I may write about this guy every week because it isn't easy finding words that start with Z. It seemed like a bad idea for Johnson to go out and golf again just four days after a life changing and career defining victory, but he's making it look easy. He has played well in Hilton Head, and is in the top 10 heading into the delayed final round. Look out Tiger, here comes Zack.