This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 07/10/2007
A - Ace. The Orioles are truly disastrous, but Erik Bedard has been a very bright light from amongst the chaos. His complete game two hit shutout on Saturday against Texas, in which he struck out 15 and walked no one, was a masterpiece. It was also the second time in three starts that he hasn't allowed a run to score. If the Orioles decide to blow up their team (and they should) then Bedard will be a very valuable trade commodity.
B - Bright future. The American performance in the preliminary round of the U-20 World Cup in Canada last week shows that the future is bright for U.S. Soccer. After an opening draw against South Korea, they crushed Poland 6-1 behind a hat trick by Freddy Adu, then shocked Brazil 2-1 thanks to two goals by Jozy Altidore, the other American phenom. My Canadians, on the other hand, were a total embarrassment, failing to score despite playing at home.
C - Clemens, Roger. I have been hard on the Rocket since his return, but the old pitcher I knew and loved may have returned. Clemens had a very good week, allowing just two runs in 16 innings with seven strikeouts and only two walks. Sadly, the second outing of the week was a wasted effort, as his Yankees lost 2-1 in 13 innings to give him a hard-earned no decision.
D - Detroit. The Tigers had a great week, taking two of three from Cleveland and then sweeping the Red Sox. We didn't learn anything new from the Tigers - they're bats are good, their pitching is consistently good, and they are probably the AL team to beat. The bigger lesson from this series, and from Boston's earlier visit to Seattle, is that the Red Sox have feasted on a weak schedule and aren't yet nearly as good as their record would indicate.
E - English Channel. Todd Pletcher's very solid turf veteran beat a small but impressive field to win the $750,000 United Nations Stakes on Saturday at Monmouth Park. On the way the horse beat his own track record. Monouth, which will host the Breeders' Cup in November, has been scorching fast so far this year. That could set up an exciting fall championship.
F - Fike, Aaron. I'll admit that I have never been a NASCAR driver, but I am pretty sure that there are a few things that are a really bad idea for drivers to do. What Fike, a driver in the Craftsman Truck series, did this weekend would probably top that list. The driver was arrested in an amusement park parking lot for heroin possession. That probably means that I won't be betting on Fike.
G - Guidry, Mark. I've been a bit sad since jockey Mark Guidry announced that he was retiring. He's never been a major superstar, but the Cajun is a solid, reliable rider that you can trust to put a strong effort in on your chosen mount. The same can't be said for a lot of jocks. It was a pleasant surprise this weekend to see that Guidry has delayed his retirement until November or so. Hopefully that can leave time for a few more farewell cashed win tickets.
H - Huh? I understand that the A's had to be frustrated after being beaten twice by the upstart Mariners and being on route to a third loss, but that doesn't mean that what Joe Blanton did on Sunday made sense. Blanton went to retrieve a ball near the Seattle dugout when he lost his mind and shoved Ichiro Suzuki. Jason Ellison took exception, and all hell broke loose. It didn't help Oakland rally, and the Mariners closed the gap on the Angels to 2.5 games.
I - Idiot. The All-Star game is in San Francisco. Giants' fans are pretty much the only people in the world who don't hate Barry Bonds. Bonds is about to break the most hallowed record in all of sports thanks to the help of a bevy of pharmacists. Despite that, Bonds has decided that he will skip the Home Run Derby. This guy is completely incapable of giving people a reason to like him.
J - Jamie McMurray. The NASCAR driver was probably trying to figure out what he had done to deserve a 166-race losing streak, but he doesn't have to worry about that any more. McMurray won the Pepsi 400 by barely a bumper on Saturday night over Kyle Busch, the ostracized soon-to-be-former Hendricks Motorsports driver.
K - Klitschko, Wladimir. It seems impossible, but boxing's heavyweight division has sunk to a new low. Klitschko defended his IBF and IBO titles with a TKO over Lamon Brewster when Brewster's trainer threw in the towel before the seventh round could begin. Brewster was fat, out of shape, and looked uninterested. How bad was it? Klitschko controlled the fight and won easily despite breaking his left hand early in the bout. Remember when boxing used to be a good sport?
L - Lacking. Tito Ortiz desperately needed an impressive showing against Rashad Evans to validate himself after losses to Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. He wasn't bad on Saturday night, but he didn't show all he needed to. The match ended in a draw after Ortiz was penalized in the second round for grabbing the fence. That's either a stupid mistake or a sign of desperation for the (fading?) star.
M - Marginalized. The IndyCar Series became even more of a ridiculous joke on Sunday in Watkins Glen. In a race won by Scott Dixon, Sam Hornish Jr. bumped Tony Kanaan on his way to a second place finish. Kanaan, who finished fourth, didn't like it at all. Things got ugly in the pits. Hornish's father pushed Kanaan, then pops was put on the ground by Kanaan's crew. I guess that that's one way for the failing league to get some attention.
N - Next generation. The Futures Game is a good way to see into the future of baseball. 22 of this year's all-stars played in the game while they were in the minor leagues. We got to see who may be ready for the big time on Sunday as the World beat the U.S. 7-2. Most impressive were Dodgers' Double-A shortstop prospect Chin-Lung Hu, with two hits, a pair of RBI and a stolen base, and Cincinnati's Joey Votto, a Canadian who hit a home run.
O - Oden, Greg. The top draft pick made his first appearance in the summer league this week. Before I say anything else, let me assure you that summer league is virtually meaningless in the long term. That being said, it has to be a bit concerning that Oden managed to get the maximum number of fouls - 10 - in the first game. A lack of discipline was a pretty serious problem for the big guy early on in the NCAA Tournament.
P - Poker. The main event of the World Series of Poker is underway at the Rio in Las Vegas. More than 6,000 players are shooting for fame and fortune at a cost of $10,000 each. Though there are lots of different bets on the event available at a number of sports books, the amount bet on those will pale in comparison to the amount the players will have on the line against each other in side bets. The only safe bet is probably that the winner will be someone you have never heard of.
Q - Quintuple-timer. Roger Federer won his fifth straight Wimbledon title, and watching him do it was truly a joy. Rafael Nadal was a warrior, winning the second and fourth set fairly easily and taking Federer to tie breakers in the first and third. Federer doesn't play a lot of fifth sets, and apparently he didn't like the feeling. He flicked a switch and turned Nadal into his bitch. It was two great players putting on a show, and Federer showed how unbelievably good he is.
R - Reds. Cincinnati is really, really bad, but they are showing at least a somewhat promising sign of life recently. They have won four in a row, and six of their last eight. Most recently, they swept the solid Diamondbacks. Their bats have been good during the hot run, but that's nothing new. What must be unfamiliar for the team is that their pitchers are actually getting people out instead of giving up runs.
S - Second one. K.J. Choi won Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament five weeks ago, so it only seems fitting that Choi would win the tournament hosted by the only guy that may compare favorably to the Golden Bear. The South Korean won the inaugural AT&T National hosted by Tiger Woods on Sunday. It was his sixth tour win, the most of any Asian-born player.
T - Tour de France. The ridiculously tainted race began over the weekend. That means that the first positive drug test can be expected at any moment.
U - UFC 73. Outside of the Ortiz fight, UFC 73 was an interesting and revealing, though not incredibly thrilling, show. Anderson Silva and Sean Sherk both defended their titles in matches they were both expected to win. Sherk didn't win as easily as he might have liked. Most interesting was the UFC debut of Pride star Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The feared Brazilian heavyweight won, but he took a very hard shot to the chin that laid him out and almost ended the match.
V - Venus Williams. The older sister has had a lot of success at Wimbledon, but no one, probably including Venus herself, could have predicted what she would do this week. Not only did she win her fourth title, but she absolutely cruised. It's too much to ask given that she is a Williams, but it would be so nice if this was a sign of a return to long term form.
W - Weaver, Jeff. I'm not sure I've ever seen a turn-around this dramatic within a season. He started the season by allowing 35 runs in 22 innings to post a perfect 0-6 record. Since his return from a month off, Weaver has allowed seven runs in 37.2 innings. That's an ERA of 14.34 before June, and 1.67 since. That's pretty much incomprehensible, but it doesn't seem to be a fluke.
X - eXplosion. The Twins exploded for 32 runs in a doubleheader against the White Sox on Friday. The offensive explosion seems unlikely given that they had scored just 25 runs in their last eight games excluding those two. Putting the 32 runs into perspective, Oakland, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay have scored just 31 runs in July, and the Mets only have 29. The twinbill is further proof, like we needed it, that the White Sox are really, really bad.
Y - Yi Jianlian. Am I missing something? The Chinese prima donna and his agent don't like the idea of playing in Milwaukee, and he seems to want a trade. David Stern may soon intervene to try to broker peace. Why is this happening? He's an unproven project that entered the draft and got picked. Who cares where he wants to play? I don't know how to say it in Chinese, but just put on your shoes and shut up.
Z - Zany. What a ridiculous soap opera we watched in Chicago. First, White Sox ace Mark Buehrle was on the verge of being traded, then he was off the block and a long-term contract was all but signed, and then he was back on offer again because all hope of a deal was gone, and then on Sunday he signed a four year deal for $14 million per. It is a testament to Buehrle's talent that he continued to pitch well despite all of the drama. Of course, the signing does nothing to stop this team from sucking.