This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 06/05/2007
A - Anaheim. The Ducks got off to a surprisingly strong start in the Stanley Cup Finals, and still have to be feeling good despite a loss in Game 3. Their edge is clearly their physical play - Ottawa hasn't seen anything like this in the playoffs, and they don't know what to do about it. Game 4 should be a bit easier for them since Chris Pronger will be out on a suspension thanks to his hit on Dean McAmmond. The Ottawa left wing still doesn't know what his name is after Pronger tried to get him to eat a panel of glass.
B - Billy Donovan. The ex-Florida coach made the right decision in leaving the school on top, and he stands a good chance of doing very well in Orlando. Or at least that's what I would have said until I heard that he is begging Orlando to let him go back to Gainesville. Why are coaches are having so much trouble living with their decisions these days?
C - Cubs. What a freaking circus. Carlos Zambrano and his catcher Michael Barrett get in a fight in the dugout, then try to kill each other in the clubhouse. Barrett ended up at the hospital. The next day manager Lou Piniella loses his mind, kicks dirt and acts like a child, and ends up suspended. That's a heck of a weekend. Oddly, the team responded to the chaos by winning by nine on Sunday.
D - Danica Patrick. Patrick may never win a race, and looking at her isn't as fun as it used to be now that the novelty has worn off, but she found a new way to entertain us on the weekend. She made an aggressive move to pass Dan Wheldon, and she ended up spinning in the infield. She didn't like it at all, so she chased Wheldon down in the pit after the race, yelled at Wheldon, and then shoved him. That's the most exciting thing that has happened in open wheel racing in years.
E - Edge. The Spurs are way deeper than Cleveland, and they have been here before. So, do the Cavs have any edge at all? Yep - their conference. The East never gets much respect, and it has been especially and deservedly dissed this year, so the Cavs will probably enjoy a couple more points on the spread than they would in a vacuum. Whether they can take advantage of it or not remains to be seen.
F - French Open. The tournament is only half over, but apparently the Americans didn't get the memo. Only Serena Williams is still in action. The rest of the American contingent fizzled out in a pathetic display. The French is never the best Slam anyway, but this year it is almost unbearable. They should just skip the rest and give us Federer - Nadal now. That's the only thing all but the truly hardcore fans care about anyway.
G - Groin. I am as big of a Roger Clemens fan as there is, but even I have to be a little concerned that the Rocket had to miss his first start because of fatigued right groin. That's one of those ridiculous injury descriptions that sounds like it could be code for something more serious. Here's hoping that he's fine.
H - Houston. Winning two of four is no reason to celebrate. Unless you are the Astros. After losing eight straight, .500 feels pretty darned good. Don't look for it to last, though - they leave home for seven games this week, and they haven't won a road game in a long while. Their last seven-game trip was winless.
I - Ibragimov, Sultan. The Russian beat Shannon Briggs on Saturday to win the WBO Heavyweight title. How many of you knew Shannon Briggs was the champ? Or that he was still alive? If I give you Wladimir Klitschko, can you name either of the other two heavyweight champs? The heavyweights suck, and boxing is screwed.
J - Jesse Litsch. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about how good this Toronto rookie pitcher was in his first start after jumping straight up from Double A? That was short-lived, as it turned out. He got shelled in his last three appearances, didn't even make it out of the first inning against the Yankees last time, and is now back in Double A where it would appear he still belongs.
K - Kobe. Shut up. Please, please, please just shut up. No one cares what you think or what you feel. You may be an incredible freak (in a good way) on the court, but you're a freak (in a bad way) off of it. It won't happen, but I think a trade to Atlanta would be just what he deserves.
L - LeBron. Wow. What else can you say? He pretty much single-handedly led his team to a monstrous comeback victory against the deeper and more experienced Pistons. After getting a pile of criticism early in the series, he turned a switch and showed he is ready to be the king of the league. He may not win it this year, but I think we got a glimpse of the future this week.
M - Mariners. Have you noticed that my Mariners are playing pretty good ball? They've won seven of 10 and they are in second in the wild card standings behind Detroit. They don't do too much that is fancy, but they are winning, they finally quit starting Jeff Weaver, and the future looks reasonably bright.
N - NHL. As a Canadian, criticizing the NHL is the equivalent of a Catholic badmouthing the pope - it's just not done. I have no choice, though, given how pathetic the league has become. They have redefined irrelevant - 12 of the 21 American markets with teams haven't even bothered to send reporters to cover the Stanley Cup Finals. Buffalo, who just lost to Ottawa last round and is one of the better American hockey markets, sent a reporter to Ottawa because he coud drive, but has no intention of going to Anaheim. The NHL needs to fix this while they are still more important than the WNBA.
O - Oil money. It would take me a while to find Dubai on a map, yet that filthy rich country is having a huge, and not entirely positive, impact on American horse racing. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai's ruler, spends more money on horses than anyone in the world. Street Sense was pulled out of the Belmont this weekend. Initially it was said it was because he was tired, but it has emerged that it is likely because Maktoum, who bought the horse's breeding rights recently, doesn't want to risk another loss that would threaten his investment. Maktoum also held his Bernardini out of the Belmont last year, so this is the second year in a row that he has stripped the race of some of its shine.
P - Pujols, Albert. The good news is that Pujols hit two home runs on Sunday to help his Cards get a much-needed win. The bad news - that's only one fewer four bagger than he had in all of May. Albert the great hasn't even been sorta good so far this year. Let's hope that this game was the awakening - the world is a better place when Pujols is in form.
Q - Quite spectacular. If you like powerful racing performances, go to Youtube and check out the English Derby winning performance of Authorized on Saturday. The horse made absolute mincemeat of the field as he cruised to victory. Incredible. It will never happen, but my new dream is to see Authorized meet Curlin and Dubai-based freak Asiatic Boy in a Breeders' Cup Classic with world domination on the line.
R - Ridiculous. We might think that North American sports have troubles, but we've got nothing on soccer. This week alone, a game between Sweden and Denmark was called off after a fan attacked a ref, and 12 people were killed while celebrating Zambia's win in an African Cup qualifier. Yes, that does say killed. Soccer fans are completely out of control. Even Raiders fans think they need to chill out.
S - Steve Kerr. His appointment as GM of the Suns was one of the oddest stories of the week. Since when are the qualifications for a job like that a somewhat distinguished career as a scrawny outside shooter and a couple of years as a decent, though slightly annoying TV analyst? The team needed to do something to take the next step, but I'm not convinced that this is it.
T - Texas. Remember when the Rangers were a trendy pre-season pick? Oops. They have won just two of their last 12 to drop to 20-37, and it is hard to find a nice thing to say about the team. In fact, I'm not even going to try.
U - Unsuccessful. Receiver Johnnie Morton, formerly of the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs, decided to become a MMA fighter after his football career ended. It didn't go well. He was knocked out 38 seconds into his first fight, ended up in the hospital, and then was suspended after he refused to take a drug test.
V - Value? The Nationals are only slightly better than expected, yet they are a solidly profitable team over the season. How are they doing it? The stretch of six wins in eight games at the end of May didn't hurt. More importantly, and incredibly, the team has only been favored once this year, and that was in the very first game of the season. They're bad, but not as bad as bettors seem to think.
W - Wie, Michelle. I want to cheer for this phenom because she makes a good story, but this is quickly turning into a story of the horror variety. After coming back from a four-month layoff for a wrist injury, she had to use that injury as an excuse to quit her round two holes early on Thursday because she was 14 over. If a player goes 88 or higher on the LPGA she is ineligible for the rest of the season. I think Wie needs to follow in a long line of child stars and divorce her parents while this can still be salvaged.
X - eXplosive. The Angels want the world to know that they are for real. They have won 19 0f their last 25, making their backers a pile of money along the way. They are top seven in the league in both pitching and hitting, and they are getting it done without relying on power - their power numbers don't come close to stacking up with the best. To me, that meaans that their play could be sustainable.
Y - Yankees. As bad as this team is, and as happy as that makes me, I can't shake the sick feeling in my gut that they are going to find a way to get things together and win enough to at least make things respectable. Three wins in four games, including two of three in Boston, could be a sign of brighter days, or it could be an aberration. I know which one I hope is true.
Z - Zany. Chad Johnson is racing a horse at River Downs next weekend. How can you not love this guy?