This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 05/30/2007
A - About time. There are reports that the SEC is looking closely at a football playoff this week. If a power conference got on board with the idea then it may finally happen. I'm personally not convinced that a playoff is the answer, and I know it will create as many problems as it solves, but I hope it happens just so people will quit whining about the current system.
B - Beckham, David. The former English captain, and recent American gazillionaire, has returned to the England national team. He was booted from the team unceremoniously last year after England failed yet again to accomplish anything at the World Cup. Coach Steve McClaren said it was time for new blood, but that time only lasted nine games. Soccer is just one big, ridiculous soap opera.
C - Conspiracy? The grassy knoll believers will have a heyday with the NBA Draft Lottery. None of the three worst teams ended up with a top three pick. You can see how someone could imagine that the NBA had fixed that draw. Or you could if Oden and Durant hadn't ended up in the Pacific Northwest. If the NBA was going to fix the draft they weren't going to put these two huge stars in that basketball black hole.
D - Deep. Barry Bonds went deep on Sunday for homer number 746. It was his first four bagger in 14 games. I suppose that it was way too much to hope that the slump would go on forever. The record is now only nine home runs away. That means dark days are not far off.
E - Exciting. It's not going to happen, but I would love to see a Utah/Cleveland final. Carlos Boozer has been an absolute and unstoppable beast in the playoffs (24.9 points, 12.4 rebounds), so it would be more than a little fun to see how he was received returning to the city that hasn't forgiven him for how he unceremoniously left for Utah three seasons ago. That would be way, way more interesting than the painfully dull Pistons-Spurs series will be.
F - Fitting. I'm generally a nice guy, and I don't wish bad things upon people as a rule, but I really, really hope that the allegations about Nick Saban are true. The rumors are that Saban had more contact with recruits than he is allowed to have, and the NCAA is looking into it. A recruiting violation and a sanction or two would look good on that scumbag.
G - Gorzelanny, Tom. This Pittsburgh pitcher gets my vote as the most under-appreciated pitcher in the bigs. He has just one win in his last four, and he's 5-3 overall, but you have to look closer. He does pitch for the Pirates, after all. All but one of his starts on the season have been solid, and he's allowed just five earned runs in his last four starts. He does nothing particularly fancy, but he just gets it done. If I was a contending GM I would be calling Pittsburgh about this guy every day.
H - Houston Astros. The 'Stros have been adamant that they aren't sad that they won't have Roger Clemens joining them, but the last couple of weeks would show that they are either lying or they are stupid. They have lost eight in a row, and they have given up more than eight runs per game over the stretch.
I - Indians, Cleveland. The Tribe is for real. They have reeled off four in a row including a sweep of rival Detroit to take over the AL Central. This is going to be a heck of a race down the stretch. I'd feel a bit better about this team in the long run, though, if those four road wins had lifted them higher than 14-13 away from Jacobs Field. A good team can't be good only at home.
J - Judd, Mr. Dario. How sad it is that the only thing most people will know about the Indy 500 this year is that that cute actress Ashley Judd is the wife of the winner, Dario Franchitti. When you combine the shortened race, the unending rain delay, and the virtually anonymous field, you have to think that fate was against the race this year. I can't blame fate either - would IRL and Champ please just hurry up and merge while there's still a little bit of hope.
K - K's. Cole Hamels struck out eight more on Sunday to move his total to a major-leading 86. He's 7-2 in his last nine starts after two no-decisions to start the year, so he's been wildly profitable of late. The fact that he's been pitching great most of the time, and getting huge run support when he hasn't, makes him a bettor's dream. He's mostly living up to the serious hype he came in with, and that's always a nice treat.
L - LeBron James. He got more than his share of criticism after his questionable plays at the end of the first two games of the series, and deservedly so. Turns out he was listening. James came out in Game 3 against Detroit and put up an absolute tour-de-force performance. He had 32 points, nine boards and nine assists, and those numbers don't do justice to his dominance. Maybe we shouldn't write the guy off just yet.
M - Mears, Casey. Just how good is Hendricks Motorsports this year? So good that they can lead their worst driver, four time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears' nephew Casey, to a win in the Coca Cola 600 despite having a sketchy car and almost no gas. Mears was just 35th in the NASCAR standings going into the race, but he gambled by skipping a pit stop late, and it paid off. He joins his three Hendricks teammates as winners this year.
N - New York Mets. Management is looking into ways that they can close Shea down for the rest of the year and play all of their games on the road. A weekend sweep of Florida moved them to 18-7 on the road. Their 14-10 at home is enough to give them the best overall record in the National League, but this sure seems to be a better team when they escape New York.
O - Oakland A's. How bad are things going for the A's these days? Mike Piazza will be back from injury soon and word is that he will be asked to catch several times a week. Now, I love Piazza as much as the next guy, but if a catcher who will be 39 before the season ends is the answer then you have real problems. On the other hand, maybe he can make this pitching staff look like an A's staff is supposed to.
P - Portland Trailblazers. The Jailblazers have been terrible for a long while now, but the end of the decline is in sight. Or at least it had better be in sight. After adding LaMarcus Aldridge and stealing Brandon Roy last year, they get Greg Oden (likely) this year. They're like a college all-star team. Of course, the same can be said of the Hawks, and look how well that is working out for them.
Q - Quit. I don't advocate for quitting in any situation, but Jerry Narron should probably just quit. The Reds are just 18-33, and the manager can't find a way to help them win. You know it's bad when they hit five homers against Pittsburgh and still lose by four. Narron will be starting the yearly 'let's trade Griffey' talk just so people will talk about something other than his job.
R - Rory Sabbatini. Look out Tiger. Everyone in the free world was of the opinion that Sabbatini was a total moron last month when he loudly shared his opinion that Tiger Woods was as beatable as he has ever been. He's still a moron, but now he's a moron with four career wins after taking the Colonial in a payoff on Sunday. Only 53 more to tie Tiger.
S - Stanley Cup. The finals finally got under way last night after a break of about seven months after the last series ended. I'm a Canadian and therefore a hockey fan, but I can't even begin to defend the NHL against critics. What a brilliant concept - no one cares about our sport at the best of times, so let's take a week off at the one time when we are borderline relevant instead of capitalizing on any momentum we may have. Genius.
T - Toyota. So much for dominating NASCAR like they have dominated the American auto market. Two of their cars finished fourth and fifth in the Coca Cola 600 this weekend. Not bad, but not great when you consider that those are their two best results the maker has made on the year. It will get better at some point. It pretty much has to.
U - Unbeaten. Look out world, the Rockies are unstoppable. Colorado has won five in a row. That's the first time they have managed that in almost 500 games. Denver may want to hold off on planning a victory parade for now, though - even with this hot streak, the Rockies are still four games below .500 and six out of the NL West lead. At least they're better than the Yankees.
V - Vick, Michael. The world's most overrated quarterback appears to be in some real trouble. A bizarre secret informant tape, complete with the distorted voice straight out of the movies, has come to light and says that Vick was a 'heavyweight' bettor at dog fights. Heavyweight, in this case, means dropping four or five figures per fight. If I was Joey Harrington I'd be warming up right now, because I think he'll be getting some starting time while Vick serves his inevitable suspension.
W - Wardrobe change. The Michigan State Spartans have been epic underachievers on the football field for a long time now, but they have figured out what the problem has been all this time. No, it's not the terrible coaching or the second-rate recruiting. It's the uniforms. They have unveiled new ones that will solve all of their problems next season. Bet them hard and bet them often.
X - eXit the draft. Maybe I'm a bit of a college basketball purist, but it makes me happy that two legitimate players like Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert have decided to pull out of the draft and play in college for another year. They have to live in relative poverty for another year, but they'll be better players for it. It was especially a smart move for Rush - his family hasn't exactly ripped it up at the next level after great college careers.
Y - Yankees. Think about this - after getting swept by the Angels this weekend, the Yankees are just one game ahead of the Devil Rays. And no, the D-Rays haven't finally found their game. Ridiculous. At 21-27, the Yankees would have to go .605 from this point on just to win 90 games, and it's been a long time since 90 games was good enough for the wild card. The Yankees are sick, and they are making their fans feel that way, too.
Z - Zzzz. The first week of the French Open is usually the dullest of all the Grand Slam tournaments anyway because so many players are so bad on clay, but it is especially painful this year. The rain is coming down in buckets in Paris, so nobody is getting a chance to play and the conditions have been reasonably lousy when they have.