This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 05/14/2007
A - Anaheim. The Ducks won a huge overtime game on Sunday to tie up their Stanley Cup semi-final series against Detroit at 1-1. A couple of things came clear from the game - it's going to be a long series, and Anaheim is a team that is going to be really good for quite a while. They are a deep and talented team. This may not be their year, but the former Mighty ones will have a Cup before the core of this roster moves on. You can bet on that.
B - Bush, Reggie. It's becoming increasingly clear that Bush was seriously on the take when he was at USC, and it also seems clear that the NCAA is going to do something about it. The question, then, is how stiff the punishment will be, and what betting impact the distraction will have on the Trojans. And Bush and the Saints, for that matter.
C - Canada. I have to gloat a bit. My countrymen beat Finland, 4-2, on Sunday to cap an undefeated tournament and win their 24th world hockey championship. We own hockey. Steve Nash has back-to-back MVPs. American League MVP Justin Morneau is a Canuck. So is Russell Baze, the newly crowned all-time winningest jockey. Look out world, Canada's taking over. I hope you all like maple syrup.
D - Diesel. Rumors seem to be gaining momentum that Shaq may be headed to Dallas in a trade. I understand that the Mavs are confused and embarrassed, and that there has to be a temptation to shake things up, but is there really anyone out there that thinks that a rapidly-declining giant with a massive contract is really what they need to get over?
E - Earnhardt Jr., Dale. Junior is already wealthy, but he is about to become filthy, stinking rich. This whole soap opera is more interesting to watch than the races are - the most popular driver in Nascar leaves the team his father built and takes his agent/watchdog/sister with him because of his evil stepmother, and one of the potential destinations is right into the No. 3 car that his late father made famous. You couldn't make up stuff this good.
F - Favre, Brett. Word is that Green Bay's increasingly whiny and annoying formerly great quarterback asked for a trade after the Pack failed to trade for Randy Moss. It's too early to bet on the NFL, but here's one wager that I would happily make - I bet I wouldn't shed a single tear if this guy never left Mississippi again. Please Brett, just go away.
G - Gordon, Jeff. Another Car of Tomorrow race, another win for Hendricks Motorsports. So much for leveling the playing field. This time Gordon somehow overcame an overheating engine to win at Darlington. Steam was pouring out of his engine for the last hour or so, and he even skipped his last pit stop. Gordon haters won't like it, but this season seems to have destiny written all over it for the California pretty boy.
H - Halladay, Roy. I was probably not the only one trying to figure out why Toronto's ace had two straight sub-standard outings, but I wouldn't have guessed that his appendix was to blame. His loss could be huge, or it could be just what was needed to motivate the team and pull them out of their funk. If Halladay comes back from surgery and plays better after losing an organ, then maybe Jeff Weaver should have his appendix removed. Or his arm amputated.
I - Invisible. The MLS season is in full swing, and virtually no one seems to care. It's easier to get action on leagues in Finland or Armenia than it is on the domestic league. I'm not convinced that an aging Brit is the key to success for the league. What's really needed in the long-term is for a homegrown superstar or two to come along and turn into someone that casual sports fans can care about. That means you, Freddy Adu.
J - Jeremy Guthrie. Watch the police blotters for the next couple of days, because this Baltimore pitcher is either going to kill a couple of his teammates or himself. He allowed just three hits in eight and a third innings against the potent Red Sox on Sunday before handing the bullpen a 5-0 lead, only to see Boston score six runs to win it. I'm guessing the plane ride from Boston to Toronto was pretty quiet.
K - Kim, Byung-Hyun. Arizona's favorite playoff reliever was traded from Colorado to Florida on Sunday. That caused me to ask myself a question out of shock - he's still in the major leagues? Apparently, though just barely - 1-2 with a 10.50 ERA in three appearances, and a stint in Triple-A this year. Florida needs some serious help, but I wish them the best of luck if they think that Kim is the answer.
L - Lewis, Fred. How often does a guy peak in his major league career just four days after he gets called up? The Giants rookie hit for the cycle on Sunday as his team crushed Colorado 15-2. Either this will be a building block for a solid career or, more likely, by this time next year no one will remember who he is. Regardless, the Giants can use the help to get out of the rut they have been in lately.
M - Mariners. Seattle's a pet team of mine. They took two of three from the Yankees (though that's less impressive than it could be), the offense is generally solid and particularly good against lefties, and they are in the thick of the race of the AL West. That's all despite having the incredible anchor that is Jeff Weaver weighing them down. Outside of his six outings this is a pretty good squad. Even with him they have been solidly profitable.
N - Nash. Can Steve and his boys right the ship and make it a series against San Antonio? He's shooting terribly, the Suns aren't responding well to the Spurs physicality and despite the blowout in game two by Phoenix this doesn't look like a close series at this point. If the Suns don't make some serious adjustments, and there's no reason they can't, then the whole season would have been a waste for the two top teams in the league.
O - Owens, Terrell. Maybe it's because of my name, but I have a soft spot for T.O.. The news, then, that he not only showed up at Dallas mini-camp, but participated fully, impressed the new staff with his attitude and even scored an impressive touchdown despite still recovering from a finger injury, probably makes me happier than most people.
P - Phil Mickelson. Lefty wasn't happy with his game, so he hired Butch Harmon, Tiger's former coach. Then he went out and won the Players' Championship. Tiger was way, way back. Considering how little these guys like each other to begin with, this could get very interesting during the heart of major season. If nothing else, maybe a one horse race can turn into a legitimate and consistent two horse race.
Q - Quite human. It seemed very unlikely for the last couple of years, but Roger Federer may actually be mortal. He's in the biggest slump he's probably ever been in, and now he has parted company with his coach heading into the one major in which he is far from a favorite at the best of times. He'll turn it around sooner or later, but until he does there may actually be decent value on betting on matches he is in for once.
R - Rock bottom? Something caught my eye on Saturday - head coach Jerry Glanville unveiled Portland State's new offense. Now, I couldn't care less what the Vikings will be doing when they have the ball. What I want to know is how a guy who was an NFL head coach for eight years, and was a colorful and interesting, and basically competent, fellow, ends up in 1-AA football at a school best known as the alma mater of Courtney Love? Bizarre.
S - Street Sense. The Derby champ is training well, and the Preakness is just around the corner. As a racing traditionalist I love how the middle jewel is shaping up - no new horses of any real significance are joining the trail, and the Derby winner is in a rematch against Hard Spun and Curlin, the two biggest threats to a potential Triple Crown. Given how the year has shaped up, this is pretty much a dream Preakness.
T - Tampa. It's not very often that you see scalpers at a Class-A baseball game, but they will likely be in Tampa on Friday when Roger Clemens starts his umpteenth comeback tour. He also has likely starts for Trenton on May 23 and Scranton on May 28 on the way back to the bigs. Now all we have to do is figure out a way to bet on those games - without knowing a single thing, I can say with reasonable confidence that Tampa with Clemens is a better bet than the Yankees have been this year.
U - Utah Jazz. Who would have thought as we watched Golden State dismantle the Mavs that Utah would come out and beat the Warriors badly at their own game in the second round? Though it's not surprising that the run looks like it's come to an end for the Cinderella's from San Fran, it does make you wonder how many other teams Dallas would have been vulnerable against.
V - Venue, change of. The Devil Rays and Texas will be playing three games at Disney World this week, which seems fitting for a Mickey Mouse franchise. With a maximum of 13,000 seats you'd think that this would finally be a park that the Rays could sell out, but so far ticket sales have been less than ducky. I'd suggest you have to think of the betting impact of playing on a neutral site in a small setting, but the mere thought of this series is putting me into a deep coma.
W - Williams, Ricky. Loser. Loser. Loser. Loser. Loser. Another failed drug test. Seriously? The guy's a bad joke. Kinda funny, though.
X - Xchanger. After skipping the Derby, this horse is making his Triple Crown debut in the Preakness. I don't believe for a second that he is going to win the race, but I at least hope he does something noteworthy so that I can keep writing about him for a while in this spot. I may have mentioned it before, but X is a real challenge every week.
Y - Young, Cy. It's obviously way too early to talk about this award, and chances are that the eventual winners aren't at the top of any current list, but Jason Marquis is certainly making his case early on. The move from St. Louis to Chicago is treating him very kindly. Others like John Maine and Chris Capuano have maybe been slightly better overall, but they have benefited from playing for stronger teams.
Z - Zzzz. There is no reason to believe that the Pistons won't cruise to the Eastern Conference title. There's probably little reason to believe that the West's champions won't beat the Pistons. Lord, I hope something else happens to make these playoffs a bit more interesting.