This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 06/26/2007
A - Arsenal. The Premiership powerhouse suffered a serious blow this week when superstar striker Thierry Henry transferred to FC Barcelona. Henry potted 226 goals for the Gunners, which is a club record, and he won two league titles and three FA cups with the team. It's not all bad for Arsenal, though - they got $32 million back from Barcelona in the deal.
B - Busch Series. Denny Hamlin won in Milwaukee on Saturday in one of the oddest circumstances ever. He qualified his Nextel car in Sonoma before heading to Milwaukee, so he was cutting the time pretty tight. Cars were parked on the heli-pad at the track, so he couldn't land. He ended up arriving after the race had started, jumped in the car when the relief driver brought it in for a pit stop, and took the lead late. Maybe this will start a trend as top drivers skip the dull opening laps and just drive the conclusion of the races.
C - Casey Bramlet. Unless you are a big fan of Wyoming football you might not know this name. He's a quarterback who is now Redskins property after being drafted by the Bengals in 2004. This weekend he added some hardware to his collection by winning the MVP while leading his Hamburg Sea Devils to a 37-28 World Bowl win over J.T. O'Sullivan and the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europa action.
D - Dustin McGowan. Why does handicapping pitchers give you a headache sometimes? In his start on June 19, the Blue Jays pitcher got shelled by the Dodgers - he got the hook in the second inning after allowing six earned runs. His next time out on Sunday, he took a no-hitter into the ninth and ended up tossing a complete game, one-hit shutout. If you say you saw that coming you are lying.
E - Endless. The steroids story will never go away. I'd love to be able to read about baseball without any mention of the S word, but Jason Giambi's agreement to testify in front of Senator Mitchell's steroid probe means that the endless story will continue on. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees decide to ditch Giambi, and what impact his actions have one players on his team, or on other players who may be nervous about what he has to say.
F - Futility. The Braves have managed to score just one run in their last 46 innings. For the math challenged, that's more than five games. Ouch. It's hard to believe that that's even possible. Like that's not a big enough problem, now Chipper Jones and John Smoltz are having a bizarre public feud. That's just what the team needs.
G - Girardi, Joe. Despite being unfairly turfed from Florida, Girardi turned down the offer to become manager of the Orioles. He said that the timing just wasn't right for the Girardi family. Translation: No one can possibly save this steaming pile of crap, and I have no interest in committing career suicide. The O's are going to have to find someone who is very, very hungry to take their job. Or very, very stupid.
H - Hatton, Ricky. Boxing desperately needs stars, and this Brit may be just the ticket. Hatton moved to 43-0 on Saturday with a win over Jose Luis Castillo in Las Vegas. The knockout punch was a body shot that was so hard that it made my ribs ache. Hatton wants a piece of Floyd Mayweather, and that would be a fascinating fight - the technician versus the brawler.
I - Interleague. The interleague schedule is over. Hallelujah. What a truly terrible waste of three weeks that is. Is there anyone in the world who actually thinks that interleague play is an improvement over how things used to be? The match-ups are ridiculous, the handicapping is more challenging, and it is just plain boring. Please make it go away, Bud.
J - Johnson, Tank. This guy is a real piece of work. Johnson has an armory in his basement, and that meant he ended up in jail and suspended for the first half of the season. Did the Bear learn his lesson? Of course not, he's a football player. Tank was tanked last week, and he got busted for speeding and driving under the influence. He got off without a charge, but the Bears decided to part ways with the troubled player anyhow.
K - Kevin Durant. It's been assumed for a while that Greg Oden has the top pick sewn up, but Durant made it interesting this week. He worked out for Portland, and apparently it was spectacular. He was given a chance to show how freakishly athletic he is, and the Trail Blazer brass were impressed. If nothing else, the work added more intrigue into a draft that needed it.
L - Lung. Justin Morneau will be more careful around the plate from now on, I suspect. In a scary moment, the reigning AL MVP was carried out of the park on a stretcher after a nasty collision at home plate on Friday. He ended up with a bruised lung, and he stayed in the hospital in Miami as his team left town. It's unknown how long he'll be out, but his absence will definitely be felt by the team.
M - Mike Maroth. Maroth goes to the team that beat him in the World Series, and I think he should be pretty happy about it. Sure, he goes from a team that is going somewhere to one that really isn't, but he'll have a solid starting spot, and he should thrive in the move to the NL. The guy's a pretty solid pitcher who just got caught in an embarrassment of starting pitching riches in Detroit, and he's a big step up for the Cards.
N - No sense. Wimbledon starts on Monday. It may be the greatest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, but it makes no sense that we have to wait two full weeks to find out who gets to lose to Roger Federer in the men's final.
O - Oregon State. Florida got all sorts of credit for winning back-to-back basketball titles, but what the Beavers pulled off at the College World Series was at least as impressive. Oregon State worked their way through a huge field and absolutely dominated North Carolina on the weekend to win their second title. It's a shame that the CWS doesn't have a higher profile, because these guys deserve some serious attention.
P - Patrick Kane. Meet the newest Chicago Blackhawk. Kane went first overall in the NHL draft on Friday. For the first time ever the first two picks were both Americans. That's great news for American minor hockey programs, but it's a disaster in the eyes of Canadians. At least Kane plays in Canada, so Canadians can take some credit. The most notable part of the draft wasn't the players, it was how fast the seven rounds flew by. The NFL should take note - drafts don't have to take 200 hours.
Q - Quit cheating. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon both got busted at Sonoma this weekend. The two Hendricks Motorsports drivers had illegal fenders discovered in inspections on Friday, and it meant that they weren't allowed to qualify for the race, so they had to start at the back of the pack. That's little more than a slap on the wrist, so I hope NASCAR comes up with a stricter penalty if they truly want to deter guys from trying to get an edge.
R - Roger Clemens. The Rocket is inconceivably expensive, and he sure hasn't earned the money so far. He only made it part of the way into the fifth in his last start against Colorado, and that was his second straight loss. Little can be drawn from his Sunday relief appearance because it was so bizarre, but it wasn't a very impressive inning. He needs to be a lot better than he is - he's not an improvement over what they had before at this point, and the earlier options were much cheaper.
S - Sesamoid. Any time you hear about this bone in a thoroughbred's leg you know it's bad news. Invasor, last year's horse of the year and the class of the older horse division, was retired on Saturday after fracturing a sesamoid. He did it in his final work before the Suburban next week. He's worked dozens of times in his career, yet in one false step his great career ended and his division has turned into a wide-open mess. The three year olds have to provide all of the excitement for the rest of the year after this sad development.
T - Theus, Reggie. Really? After a search that took two months, was Reggie Theus really the best you could come up with, Sacramento? I know he played for you and all, but that was 100 years ago. Time after time we have seen how coaches from top college programs fail, so why would you think that a guy from New Mexico State would do any better. I bet Eric Musselman is feeling just great right now. I'll be looking seriously at the under on the season win total for the Kings.
U - Unnecessary. The PGA is working to implement steroid testing. Why? If huge length were such a huge advantage then all of those longest drive contest freaks would be on tour. Roids won't help your short game much, and they certainly won't help your putting. Instead of limiting drugs, the tour would help more of its members by limiting eating. There are more unhealthily fat golfers than there are guys with rapidly growing heads.
V - Very promising. Detroit's already looking good, so the successful return of Kenny Rogers on Friday is just icing on the cake. The Gambler allowed only two hits and struck out five in six scoreless innings in his first appearance since the World Series. If Rogers is half as good as he was last year then Detroit will be hard to beat.
W - Weaver, Jeff. I've said a lot of mean things about Weaver this year, so I owe it to him to point out just how good he was last Wednesday. He went the whole way and allowed just four hits in the shutout. That's a decidedly an un-Weaver-like performance. I'll need to see another start or two before I can truly trust him, but it appears as if Weaver has turned a corner.
X - FeliX Hernandez. It has been an up and down year in Seattle for King Felix thanks to an injury and a bit of inconsistency as a result, but he showed on Thursday night that when he is on his game there is no one in the league that is any better. He had nine strikeouts and a walk in eight scoreless innings, and he looked like he was in total and dominating control of the game on every pitch. Very impressive.
Y - Yawn. Hunter Mahan was the PGA's winner this weekend in a playoff over Jay Williamson. Mahan is a 25-year-old that earned his first career win, and Williamson is a 40-year-old journeyman that has never finished higher than third. My point - the PGA has a problem, because the game is really not that interesting when the bug guys aren't in the field.
Z - Zany. Need proof that handicapping baseball is sometimes almost impossible? The Rockies look like killers as they beat the Red Sox two out of three games and then sweep the Yankees, but then they head into Toronto and get swept. What does that say about the AL East? Are the Yankees worse than Toronto? How about Boston? Common opponents should tell you something, but they only seem to drive you insane because of things like this.