This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 07/23/2007
A - Again. A truly forgettable year for Mets' infielder Jose Valentin just got much worse. Valentin is likely out for the season after breaking his leg this week. That injury comes in the same year as a knee injury that caused him to miss time and play with a knee brace upon his return. This is a loss to the Mets, but not as big as it could be - they've already learned to cope without him this season, and he hasn't exactly been a menace at the plate.
B - Bobby Livingston. There are lots of ways to handicap rookie pitchers, but none of them would have seen Livingston's Monday start coming. In just his third career start on Monday in Atlanta, he was only okay on the mound - three runs in six innings on eight hits - but he more than made up for it at the plate where he had four hits and an RBI. Cincinnati is so bad that the pitchers are forced to do it all themselves.
C - Culpepper, Daunte. Miami has finally released Culpepper after a bizarre offseason QB soap opera. I don't expect Culpepper to return to his former glory (for many reasons, not the least of which being he doesn't have Randy Moss to toss to 15 times a game), but I do think that whatever team picks him up has a pretty good chance of being very happy by what he adds.
D - David Beckham's ankle. Becks is a much bigger news story than I might have imagined. His ankle limited his appearance in his first exhibition game, and makes his first regular appearance questionable. It will be interesting to see what impact this news has on the odds. I suspect that whatever happens will be overcompensated for given the number of bettors unfamiliar with the MLS that are likely to start betting on L.A. games.
E - Executioner. It may have been the most unwatchably dull fight of the year, but Bernard Hopkins proved that he may be old but he isn't too old yet. Hopkins came back from a short-lived retirement to beat Winky Wright in a 12 round unanimous decision. The fight was marred by several Hopkins' headbutts that led to his win. His critics will likely be enraged.
F - Fixed. Referee Tim Donaghy has unleashed a major NBA scandal with news that the FBI is investigating him for betting on games he refereed and for potentially fixing the outcome of those games. This will be a very interesting investigation to watch play out as a sports bettor - the league has a pretty big credibility problem that they will have to seriously address.
G - Garcia, Sergio. Ouch. What else can you say? Padraig Harrington was mostly impressive (one hold aside), but Garcia should be disgusted for himself for finishing as runner up in a major yet again. He had the British Open in the palm of his hand and he couldn't finish. My theory is that the fashion police didn't allow him to win the title after his ridiculously unfortunate clothing choices all week.
H - Hurricanes, Miami. Miami football lost a good deal of it's potential to be very exciting to watch this season with a car accident this week. Stud freshman quarterback prospect Robert Marve was injured in the wreck and will likely be forced to take a redshirt. If we don't get to watch Marve, then the least they can do is give us another brawl at some point for our entertainment.
I - Insane. Is it not possible for a week to go by these days without some athlete going completely insane? This week it was Scott Olsen, the Florida Marlins' pitcher. Just back from a two-game suspension for insubordination, Olsen got chased by the cops, then got in a fight with them, and ended up charged with DUI, This is going to end badly. I'd say that this is a situation that sports bettors should keep an eye on. But does anyone really care about Florida?
J - Jason Kendall. The former Pirates and A's catcher is now a Cub. Kendall seems to be on the downslide in his career, especially offensively. Still, he's a good leader and he handles pitchers well. This shows a couple of things. First, the Cubs are serious about making a run, and Kendall is a decent veteran replacement for Jason Kendall. Just as interesting, by ditching Kendall to go with a youngster it makes it easy to believe that Oakland has given up on the year.
K - Kason Gabbard. The young Boston pitcher may have an odd name, but he's turning into a very solid starter. He had two starts this week, and he was very good in both. In 16 innings he allowed just six hits and one run, and he posted a complete game shutout on Monday. The ratio of nine strikeouts to two walks shows that his success isn't a fluke.
L - Lester, Jon. Speaking of young Boston pitchers, it's great to see that Lester is about to return to action after a year away. As a rookie last year he got off to a solid start before being diagnosed with cancer. He's back with a clean bill of health, and if he can find his form from last year he could be a welcome weapon for the Red Sox. Just keeping Julian Tavarez, who is winless in his last five starts, off the mound will improve the team.
M - Michael Vick. What is there to say about this moron besides, hopefully, good riddance? This total waste of oxygen has thrown the Falcons' season into complete chaos. If he plays then he will be less than effective given the pressure and negative attention. If he doesn't play then they are stuck with Joey Harrington. How badly do you think Bobby Petrino wishes he was back in Louisville?
N - Nuts. The Tour de France has turned into a total and utter joke this week (though that wasn't exactly a long way to go for the beleaguered, once great race). Danish rider Michael Rasmussen has the yellow jersey, but he can't outrun controversy. He was kicked off the Danish National Team this week because he didn't tell them where he was training so they couldn't rule out doping problems. The race needs to go away for a couple of years and then come back in a fresher and cleaner form.
O - O'Flaherty, Eric. This Seattle reliever had my favorite pitching appearance of the week. On Tuesday he threw 26 pitches in a third of an inning. He allowed three hits, walked two more, and gave up five earned runs. That's an E.R.A. of 135.00 on the day. That deserves a medal.
P - Pulled up. Horse racing fans are holding their breath after Rags to Riches' workout on Sunday. The stellar filly who won the Belmont was pulled up less than 1/16 of a mile into what was supposed to be a 5 furlong run. Her jockey said that something felt wrong. There is no immediate sign of an injury, but any setback for her would be a huge blow for the sport.
Q - Quite bizarre. The Colts' offseason, with a huge number of departures of key starters and contributors, has been a little concerning, but the retirement of Tarik Glenn is the oddest one. The left tackle waited until now to tell the team he wasn't coming back. They don't have a good alternative for the key position, and the free agent ranks aren't promising at this point. It could mean that rookie Ton Ugoh could have to step up before he is ready. What impact could that have on Manning?
R - Royal & Ancient. I understand that the U.K. is the birthplace of golf and all, but that doesn't make this year's British Open any less ridiculous. In 1999 the course was almost impossible. Nasty rough and narrow fairways led to a winning score of +6. This year, the fairways were wider, the rough was much friendlier, and the winner was 13 shots better. It's a joke that the course was so different this time around - it made handicapping the tournament next to impossible.
S - Sheets, Ben. Milwaukee already had a daunting task keeping their foot in Cinderella's slipper and holding off the Cubs, but now they have to do it without their ace for at least a month. Sheets is out with a finger injury. On the plus side, the team knows too well how to survive without Sheets as he has been on the disabled list a staggering amount in the last three years.
T - Tommy John surgery. There are several reasons why the Cardinals have had a lousy year, not the least of which being the absence of ace Chris Carpenter. Any hopes of relief from that problem were dashed this week with news that Carpenter will miss the season, and likely part of the next as well, due to Tommy John surgery.
U - Ugly. Jake Peavy was pretty much the best pitcher in the National League until a month ago. Since then, he has lost four and left a fifth game without a decision. That could just be a slump, or it could be a sign of a much bigger problem. Either way, this is very bad news for a San Diego team that desperately needs Peavy at his best to hang on in a very tough division.
V - Virginia Derby. The richest and likely most important horse race this weekend was the $1 million Virginia Derby on Turf. It was a strange race. Red Giant, a basically unknown colt trained by Todd Pletcher, got the upset victory. Up until this race I would have thought it impossible to see a Pletcher horse at 37/1 in a graded stakes. The news wasn't all good for Pletcher. His Circular Quay, a star of his stable heading into the Kentucky Derby, showed what I have long suspected about the horse - he is a piece of crap.
W - Weaver, Jeff. Yes, I write about Jeff Weaver almost every week, but only because he is so fascinating. The poor guy got a truly terrible break on Saturday when he got the least deserved loss ever. He allowed just four hits and one run in eight innings, but got the loss when the suddenly impotent Seattle offense couldn't manage to score against Toronto and the not-so-mighty Josh Towers.
X - eXplosive. The Phillies haven't always been a solid offense this year, but the Dodgers sure helped them look good on Tuesday night. The Phillies managed 26 hits in a 15-3 romp. Five pitchers gave up at least two hits each, and starter Mark Hendrickson dished up 11 in his three innings. The only good thing you could say about the Dodgers hurlers on the day is that they weren't missing the middle of the plate much - they only had one walk.
Y - Yankees. Is it that the Yankees are making a hard charge, or that Tampa Bay is really bad? The Yankees put up a ridiculous number of runs - 49 - in a four game set against the Rays. The only dark spot in the series was the first game - they were outscored 14-4 with Mike Mussina on the mound. The Evil Empire is 8-2 in the last 10, well above .500, and seemingly determined to make the AL East a race. Yuck.
Z - Zzzzz. I am trying to sleep through the Barry Bonds circus because doing anything else just makes me mad. It's really getting ridiculous with his phantom injuries that are keeping him out of road games and the constant media attention. One thing I know for sure - I wouldn't bet on a Giants game for any reason until this mess is in the rearview mirror.