This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 04/23/2007
A - Anger. Seeing Vince Carter get booed by the Raptors fans every single time he touched the ball on Saturday was absolutely hilarious. That was one pissed off building. Torontonians might need a new plan, though - Vince's 16 points helped the Nets to win fairly easily despite being 4.5 point underdogs.
B - Buehrle, Mark. The White Sox pitcher came within one walk of a perfect game against the Rangers on Monday. The challenge now is to figure out how to handle him in his next couple of outings. On one hand, he is clearly in top form. On the other hand, though, his price will be inflated thanks to public attention, and all of the media focus may have got him out of his normal routine.
C - Countdown. In less than a week the NFL Draft will be over and all of the speculation and the rumors and the eight million mock drafts will all be finished. What will we do with ourselves? There are just two things I know for sure - every team will claim that they had a great draft, and many of them, as it turns out, will be lying.
D - Dice-K. This week made it even harder to figure out how to handle Japan's hero. He pitched well in a loss to Toronto, except for a very concerning short-term loss of composure that cost the game. Against the Yankees he looked pretty average, but so have a lot of pitchers when facing that murderer's row. I think he's going to be good, but we've yet to see a real sign that he will be Johan Santana good and not, say, C.C. Sabathia good.
E - Exceptional. Anyone who saw Yao Ming lead his Rockets against the Jazz on Saturday can have absolutely no doubt that he has made his statement as the best super-sized man to hit the league in a long time. Utah had no hope against him. He keeps getting better, so teams better get used to that feeling of futility.
F - Flashlight. Mets' fan Frank Martinez was arrested on Friday for shining a powerful flashlight in the eyes of the Braves' Tim Hudson and Edgar Rentaria to distract them during their game at Shea. The job just got harder for anyone trying to make the case that Mets' fans are smart.
G - Golden State. You picked the Warriors to win outright against the Mavs, didn't you? Of course you did. It was a no-brainer to think that the best team in the league would come out flat at home in the playoffs after they have spent every minute of the last year focused on seeking redemption for their embarrassment against the Heat. Or not. Though Dallas will clearly be better next game, this result is a testament to how good the Warriors, and Baron Davis, have been lately.
H - Home team. The handicapping couldn't have been easier in the American League this weekend - a blind bet on every home team won 15 of 21 games and generated a profit of $699 from $100 bets. That's a massive 33 percent ROI. It's not all that easy, though - the National League only went 13-11 and lost $116.
I - Indianapolis. I'll admit that I am one of those people that is always looking for another reason to hate the Colts, so take this with a grain of salt, but don't you have to be more than a bit concerned that they have lost, or are about to lose, five defensive players that saw significant minutes, including both starting corners? They don't have the cap space to do a whole lot about it, either.
J - Jeff Weaver. How bad is this guy's season going? He allowed three earned runs in three uninspiring innings on Sunday, and that was enough to lower his ERA quite significantly. His opponent is probably the most automatic bet in the league until he shows some signs of life. Or until he gets dumped by yet another team.
K - Kobe. On Sunday we saw a perfect illustration of the Lakers' fate. Bryant scored 28 points in the first half in a show of pure power, but it wasn't enough to even give the Suns much of a fright in the end.
L - Lexington Stakes. The Derby Trail has been a confused mess this year, so it only seems fitting that the last prep race before the big day on May 5 would create more problems than it solved. Despite the presence of several quality horses, including the exciting Belgravia and Todd Pletcher's Soaring By, the race at Keeneland on Saturday was won by Slew's Tizzy, a 40-1 shot that came from absolutely nowhere.
M - Mets bullpen. They've been the best unit in the league so far this year. Until Sunday. It got really, really ugly against the Braves. Tom Glavine turned over a three run lead to his dependable colleagues, only to watch three of the best completely implode - six runs in two innings to lose by three. Let's hope, for their sake, it was just a bad day.
N - Nuggets. Denver showed on Sunday why they took the risk on Iverson. He and Carmelo Anthony were phenomenal, combining for 61 points to lead their team past the 8.5-point-favorite Spurs. Nene and Marcus Camby owned the boards, and Tim Duncan was almost invisible for much of the game. Now all they have to do is prove that it wasn't a fluke.
O - Orioles. Baltimore swept the Blue Jays at home this weekend, and they looked good doing it. The challenge for handicappers is to figure out whether that means that the O's have improved or that the Blue Jays are really struggling.
P - Painful. Was there anything about that Heat team that lost on Saturday that looked at all like a team that is less than a year removed from a championship? The mighty have fallen. They had little spark, and Luol Deng couldn't have been more open more often if he was shooting hoops alone. The Bulls got a very nice first round draw by the looks of it.
Q - Quarterbacks. If spring practices are any indicator, this could be the year of the young QB in college football. Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame, Juice Williams at Illinois and Florida's Tim Tebow are three of many guys that are barely old enough to shave that are going to have the weight of their programs on their shoulders. They're showing the skills to make some noise.
R - Round two. As I write this, seven of the eight NHL teams moving on to round two have been decided. What have we learned so far? Anaheim and San Jose had a much easier than expected time, showing that they are at least as good as people think. The Rangers are in top form, Buffalo has to sharpen up and Ottawa is ready for a fight. It will only get better from here.
S - Shots on goal. Even someone who never watches hockey can figure this one out - you aren't going to win a lot of games if get outshot by more than a two-to-one margin. The Red Wings outshot the Flames 135-59 in the three games played in Detroit. How is that even possible? No surprise, then, that the Flames were humiliated in all three games and lost the series in six.
T - Tampa Bay. Sunday convinced me that the Devil Rays may never be good. On the back of a phenomenal two-hit, 12 K, eight-inning performance by James Shields they went into the top of the ninth up by two on the struggling Indians. The best they had to close it out was Brian Stokes, a guy with two losses this year in less than nine innings pitched. Stokes faced six batters and allowed four runs and the Rays lost. Pathetic. But painfully typical.
U - Undefeated. The list of pitchers at 3-0 is full of the usual names - Penny, Sabathia, Hudson, Capuano, Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny? Yes, Pittsburgh's Tom Gorzelanny is not only undefeated, but he's earned his mark with some pretty impressive pitching. Not bad for a guy with a 2-6 career record coming into the season.
V - Virginia Tech. Since I've written and said so much about their basketball team and especially their football team over the years, I feel like I should say something here about what happened on Monday. It's pretty hard to know what to say, though, isn't it? It'll never make sense.
W - Windfall. You could have retired by now if you had just bet on the underdogs in the last three UFC main events, because three straight heavy favorites have gone down. Randy Couture beat Tim Sylvia, Matt Serra beat Georges St. Pierre, and, this weekend in Manchester, England, Gabriel Gonzaga stunned Mirko 'Cro Crop' Filipovic.
X - Xavier. Anyone who reads A to Z regularly knows of my obsession with Xavier basketball, driven almost entirely by the fact that they start with X when so few sports words do. An update: recruiting is going well, and the Musketeers are working hard to steal Kentucky's Mr. Basketball, Steffphon Pettigrew, away from the University of Kentucky. Look out A-10.
Y - Young, Usama. It's guys like this that make the NFL draft so interesting to dissect. The Kent State cornerback plays for a team that virtually no one has seen, his numbers and his video aren't super impressive, but the class of cornerbacks is weak, and he ran a 4.39 40 at his Pro Day. That means some scouts are drooling over him. Seeing what he, and the 100 guys who get drafted with equally questionable stories, turn into makes it all fun.
Z - Zurich Classic. Nick Watney won this week's stop on the PGA Tour. I watch a fair bit of golf and I had never heard of the guy. Betting that a first time winner is going to emerge at a second tier tournament is a good bet, but deciding which one of the dozens of potential contenders it will be is less simple.