This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 05/07/2007
A - Anaheim Ducks. The name is still silly, but I won't be surprised at all to see that name engraved in the Stanley Cup in a month or so. Their defense is so deep it's sick, the offense has been good and can be much, much better and the goaltending is quietly brilliant. I wouldn't want any team I was cheering for to have to play against them.
B - Broken rules. Curlin didn't manage to break the rule that you can't win the Derby without running at two, but a couple of the tried and true handicapping 'facts' were cast aside this year. Street Sense won despite only having two preps this year, and he was the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner to ever wear the roses. Thanks to this win and Barbaro's last year we are going to see less and less of top contenders every year.
C - Curlin. In the end the super horse, and my Derby pick, just wasn't good enough. You could argue that he ran into too much traffic early on and that he didn't handle it well, but the truth is that there were two horses that were just plain faster than him. I still don't think that we've seen his last big win. Early indications are that the Preakness will be a showdown between Street Sense and Curlin.
D - Detroit Tigers. The defending AL champs are playing well, and they are going to be dangerous all year, but their 19-11 record is a bit deceptive. They have five wins against the Royals, five against Baltimore and three against Toronto. That's 13 wins against three pretty unimpressive squads to pad the figures a bit.
E - Extension. College basketball is out of the public eye these days, so the word of a contract extension for Rick Pitino at Louisville slipped through the cracks. The Al Pacino clone is now in place until 2013, and that ensures that the Cardinals will be worth a bet from early February on for years to come.
F - Fight, The. Mayweather and De La Hoya put on a show that lived up to the hype, but is it just me or did the outcome seem a little too perfect? Floyd announces his retirement before the fight. Oscar, who just happens to be the promoter, hangs in well enough to get a split decision thanks to a strong finish. No one gets hit hard enough to really get hurt badly. The way it all adds up, they may as well have just announced the rematch before the fight started.
G - Glass slipper. Teams like Golden State always present such an interesting handicapping challenge. At what point will the magic run out? They absolutely deserved to win the series, but if you played the same series 50 times they wouldn't win it more than 10. It's even harder to handicap this Cinderella because they are up against the Jazz instead of a truly elite team. My heart hopes they go deep, but I don't think my wallet agrees.
H - Hendricks Motorsports. You can add these guys to the same category as Tiger and Roger Federer - guys who practically can't lose. Hendricks has won seven of the last eight Nextel Cup races. The new Car of Tomorrow is designed in part to level the playing field, but it doesn't seem to be working - Hendricks has won all four COT races that have been run.
I - Injury. Baseball players always get hurt in the best ways. The latest whopper comes to us from Freddy Garcia. The Phillies starter may miss his next outing after he ran into an equipment cart and hurt his leg. He was running to catch a fly ball during batting practice when he hit the cart, which was parked on the warning track. I'm guessing the guy who parked it there is probably in the market for a new gig if you are hiring.
J - Jamie Moyer. I don't want to go to the effort of looking it up to be sure, but I'd guess that this guy is about 72 years old. 72 is faster than his fastball, too. Despite that, he's looked very good of late. He flirted with perfection in Florida, then came back and looked strong in San Francisco next time out. If the Phillies weren't so pitiful this year he'd be doing even better.
K - Knockout. If anyone had bet that the fight on Saturday was going to end in any way other than a decision then they must not have had a fun night. Both guys threw some good punches, but did anyone think for a second after about 30 seconds of action that we would see anything other than a decision? Neither guy looked at all interested in a knockout.
L - LeBron. If I was a conspiracy theorist, which I'm not, then I would suggest that someone really wants to see LeBron and his cronies go deep in the postseason. They couldn't possibly have had an easier run in the playoffs. They haven't lost yet, and it's not hard to imagine how they might not lose for quite a while to come. They're playing well, but not as good as their opponents are making them look.
M - Mark Cuban. Crazy people can be dangerous when they don't get what they want, so the entire state of Texas should be on full alert. Cuban must be so hot he's almost nuclear. It will be tempting for him to fire everyone from the coach to the towel boy, but throwing it all away won't help. With all of his money maybe he can buy Dirk a heart. Or maybe he should just beg Don Nelson to come back. Speaking of Nelson, what a great job he did, but doesn't he make enough money to be able to buy clothes that don't make him look like a slob?
N - Nash, Steve. It's a good thing that the Canadian superstar was a bit goofy looking anyway, because that gash on his nose might not heal up really pretty. I don't like blood at the best of times, so watching the last couple of minutes of that game on Sunday was hard to take. Dude was gushing like a fountain. I'm not convinced that the result would have been any different if it hadn't happened, though. As a Suns fan that game made me very nervous. Someone might want to guard Tony Longoria.
O - Outstanding. What a role model Kobe is. His team gets beaten like a filthy rug and, true sportsman that he is, he proceeds to denigrate his team from the players to the management. He's right, of course, but that doesn't mean that he should have aired his dirty laundry in public. I hope that the team doesn't make any major changes - with that attitude, it makes me happy seeing him go out in the first round every year.
P - Panathinaikos. The Greek squad beat CSKA Moscow to win the Euroleague title for the fourth time on Sunday. I only mention that because this is a written article. If I had to say the name out loud then there's no way I would have tried to spit it out. A quick perusal of the rosters for the teams shows only one well-known name - Trajan Langdon plays in Moscow.
Q - Quinn, Brady. At this point I can't really say that I care whether he does well or not, but that could change soon, because I strongly suspect I am going to quickly become very sick of the guy. The press coverage is getting silly, already - does the fact that he got a haircut before mini-camp really need to be national news?
R - Rags to Riches. If you didn't see the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, do yourself a favor and find the video online. Rags to Riches, the heavy favorite, was as dominant, confident and overwhelmingly powerful as a horse can be. Todd Pletcher can get a horse up for a big race as long as it isn't the Derby. I would love to see her in the Belmont. I'd be more than a little tempted to back her.
S - Street Sense. The Derby was full of a lot of lackluster and inexplicably bad performances, but at least one thing is certain - the best horse won. The move he made from the very back of the field to the front was done with authority and was extremely impressive. There's something about the rail at Churchill that just works for that horse. He'll be very legitimate in the Preakness, too, so the three weeks between that race and the Belmont could be a test for my patience.
T - Todd Pletcher. This guy should not be left alone in a room with a gun or a bottle of pills for a while. Five out of 20 horses and he didn't cash a check. That takes some doing. He has now had 19 starters without a win. It's not like the guy has just had a bit of bad luck, either - his horses finished last this year, last year, in 2002 and 2000, and he was second to last in 2005 and 2004. That is a remarkable history of poor performances. Interesting fact, though - if you had bet $2 to win, place and show on each of the 19 horses you would have spent $114, but you would have collected $116 from the three horses that have finished in the money. I would have guessed that he'd have burnt a pile of money. He certainly has in the exotics over the years.
U - Unlikely. Though it likely won't work out, the Bucs have a rookie in camp with intriguing speed. Justin Gatlin, Olympic gold medalist at the 100 meters and confirmed steroid cheat currently serving an eight-year suspension from track, is trying to land a contract. He probably looks a bit raw - he hasn't played football since he was a freshman at Tennessee.
V - Van Gundy, Jeff. Some reports are indicating that the walking corpse is about to pack it in in Houston. Sam Mitchell seems like a dead man walking in Toronto, too. Apparently making the playoffs does nothing for your job security in the NBA these days.
W - Wake up call. The Buffalo Sabres, with their immense talent and ridiculous speed, had basically sleep-walked through the first two rounds of the NHL playoffs, and I was worried that they would lose to a lesser team because of their apathy. I'm not worried any more. With four goals in less than 10 minutes to put away the Rangers on Sunday the sleeping offensive giant awoke. Their series against Ottawa is going to be very interesting.
X - Xchanger. I'm very annoyed that this horse withdrew from the Derby at the last moment, leaving me with nothing to write for the most difficult letter on this list. If he doesn't come back and run in the Preakness then I am going to be really upset.
Y - Yankees. It kills me to say it, but we can't count the evil empire out yet. Chien-Ming Wang looked like Sandy Koufax on Saturday, Mussina is getting healthy and they have the luxury of spending more than Tampa Bay's entire payroll to bring back Clemens. With those arms and the all-star team at the plate they can certainly make a wild card run. It won't be all roses, though - that 15-11 farce on Friday night was more than a little ugly. As for me, I have a dilemma every fifth day now - do I cheer for my favorite player now that he plays for my second most hated team in the universe?
Z - Zzzz. Tiger won this weekend. Again. Tell me something surprising. Sure the Masters was pretty ugly, and he certainly looked mortal, but he's still won nine of his last 12 tournaments. Every other player in the clubhouse is desperately hoping that fatherhood changes him and his game. Or at least keeps him off the tour more.