This Week in Betting, A-Z
by Trevor Whenham - 08/20/2007
I've been away for a week on my honeymoon, and I didn't look at a paper or watch a second of TV while I was gone. That should mean that I'm not too biased or jaded this week. I'm glad to see, though, that all of the excitement and the lunacy carried on while I was gone. I'm also especially happy this week because I don't have to say a word about Barry Bonds. His disappearance into obscurity where he belongs is the best wedding present I received. Without further ado:
A - Arizona. What in the world has happened to the D-Backs? The NL West used to be a two-team race, and Arizona wasn't one of those teams. Since July 21, though, the team is 21-6, and has opened up a decent gap on their opponents. It's easy to be that good when you have Brandon Webb on your side - the guy hasn't allowed a run in his last five starts, and he has gone the distance the last three.
B - Becks. Still don't understand why MLS emptied Fort Knox for David Beckham? Almost 67,00 fans, many in Beckham jerseys, showed up in New York to watch Beckham play. He had three assists, one of which was absolutely brilliant, in a circus of a game. New York had averaged less than 12,000 per game before this weekend. Not only is Beckham still very good, he is a one man marketing machine.
C - Campbell, Jason. I thought that the Steelers usually liked to wait until the playoffs before they knocked out opposing quarterbacks with cheap shots, but they used the preseason to get tuned up by sending the Redskins QB to the sidelines. He appears to be okay, which is a huge relief for Washington, because they are banking on huge things from their unproven pivot.
D - Donaghy, Tim. The NBA referee mess sure didn't get any better while I was gone. Donaghy says that he is going to name names, and as many as 20 referees could be implicated in gambling or other activities frowned upon by league officials This could get ugly. Even if it doesn't lead to a huge gambling scandal among refs, it could be deadly for league betting credibility if referee suspensions, firings and 'retirements' were to lead to a large number of new referees to start the year. David Stern must have the world's biggest headache.
E - Ebenezer Ekuban. The Broncos could be in trouble on defense after the loss of Ekuban for the year with an achilles injury. The defense has already been struggling so far in the preseason, they have been trying to trade Gerald Warren, the free agent they overpaid for last year, and injuries are mounting. This is not what is needed by a team looking to contend with a young QB at the helm.
F - Ferguson, Robert. The Packers have cut the often disappointing wide receiver they drafted in 2001. Though he has been injured often and has failed to live up to expectations , he will be an interesting prospect for teams that are short of receiver depth. The Packers are weak in a lot of places, but receiver isn't one of them, so Ferguson is probably good enough to land somewhere else and help out.
G - Gone. Ricky Rudd has announced he is retiring after this season and, with all due respect to the NASCAR veteran, there isn't a bettor anywhere who cares. He came out of retirement to race for Yates/Newman/Haas/Lanigan this year, but the team is terrible and he has struggled badly. Patience is needed to rebuild a team like this, and Rudd, at 51, just doesn't have the patience anymore.
H - Hawkins, Cody. If the last name of the redshirt freshman now at the top of the QB depth chart at Colorado seems familiar, that's because his dad, Dan, is the head coach. The move makes sense for the elder Hawkins - last season was so incredibly bad that you might as well take the chance to coach your son while you have it before you get fired for gross incompetence after another pathetic season.
I - Insanity. As I write this, JaMarcus Russell is still holding out. Truly ridiculous, and both sides are to blame. Oakland knew that they were going to have to break the bank when they drafted him, and he needs to get onto the field and quit worrying about an extra few bucks when the time away is costing him his chances of succeeding this season. This is the best proof possible that the NFL desperately needs a rookie salary cap.
J - Jet Ski. Mark Madsen, the worst singer in the NBA, hurt himself on a personal watercraft and will miss three months of action with the T-Wolves this year. Madsen is pretty terrible, and normally an injury of a guy that averaged a stellar 1.1 points in 56 games last year would be irrelevant, but what is scary is that Minny GM Kevin McHale is saying that this is a loss because the team is planning to rely heavily on Madsen as they rebuild with youth this season. Minnesota handicapping tip - take the opponents and the under. This could be very ugly if Madsen is salvation.
K - Kash. Jermaine Dye doesn't care how you spell cash, because he has a wheelbarrow full of it to keep him company. Dye has been red hot since the All-Star break, and he cashed in for $22 million over two years with a $12 million option for a third year. The White Sox seem to be sticking with their strategy of throwing huge amounts of money at the veterans that have led them to their incredibly disappointing record so far this year. That doesn't seem logical to me, but then I haven't won a World Series in the last few years.
L - Loss. The Falcons lost a quarterback this week, and I don't mean Michael Vick. D.J. Shockley, the likely second stringer behind piano prodigy Joey Harrington, is out for the year with a torn ACL. That leaves Chris Redman as the No. 2 and Casey Bramlet, a recent discard of Washington as the only other QB on the roster. This would be a good reason to fade the Falcons if you didn't already have 20 to choose from.
M - Maimonides. This two year old debuted a week ago at Saratoga, but I had to mention it here because it was so impressive. The $4.6 million purchase was supposed to run in California, but he was scratched after his owner got fed up with the new surface at Del Mar. Instead, he went to Saratoga (the best meet in the country) and absolutely decimated a field - winning by 11 1/2 lengths and making it look easier than the margin would indicate. Start the Derby hype machine.
N - Nick Saban. He may be the greatest coach in the world in his own mind, but the new Alabama skipper is having discipline issues in Tuscaloosa. The latest, cornerback Simeon Castille, could be a big blow. Castille is the closest thing to a star the defense has, so his loss would be huge if it turns out that the charges are serious enough to warrant a suspension. You can bet that Saban, if at all possible, will follow the SEC tradition of turning a blind eye to keep his roster intact.
O - Oops. I wrote a while ago that the comeback attempt of Priest Holmes, though unexpected, was intriguing and had the potential to create some intrigue in Kansas City. I take it back. The guy still hasn't been healthy enough to practice, his coach doesn't know where he is half the time, and Holmes can't stop saying ridiculous things. If the guy is even remotely relevant this year I will be shocked.
P - PGA. It's not a wonder that the PGA struggles to consistently get crowds and viewing audiences. Last week Tiger wins a thriller at 8 under to get major number 206 (or so). This week some rookie named Brandt Snedeker that only the hardcore fans have heard of beats the equally obscure Tim Petrovic and Jeff Overton with a 22 under to win the Wyndham Championship. The closest thing to a household name on the whole leaderboard was Rich Beem, and he's years beyond relevance. The PGA really needs a shorter season or something, and I don't think that the Fed Ex Cup is the answer.
Q - Quinn, Brady. All is forgiven for the holdout in Cleveland after Quinn shone in his first appearance for the Browns. He threw two touchdowns and completed 65 percent of his passes in just over nine minutes of the second half against Detroit. That's promising, especially considering how bad the other two Cleveland QBs were, but it's still hard to tell anything from this - the last 10 minutes of early preseason games is when teams pull people out of the crowd to play, so it's not like Quinn played against real opponents.
R - Reggie Miller. A comeback? Really? As soon as I read this I checked my calendar to see if it was April Fool's. I know that Boston is suddenly a contender in the East and all, but do they really need to sign Miller and his freakish looking head? He says he may be weeks away from making a decision, but the right one - going back to the broadcast booth - should be made today.
S - Santana, Johan. The Twins' ace was truly nasty on Sunday, striking out a team record 17 in eight innings. The way it ended, though, shows me why the Twins haven't done well recently - they lack a killer instinct. Santana struck out the side swinging in the eighth, yet they yanked him for Joe Nathan in the ninth. The season is basically over for the team, yet they won't let their ace try to close out a meaningless game where he is in ridiculously good form (he had allowed just two hits and walked no one). Too conservative.
T - Testaverde, Vinny. The world's oldest man is back for another year in New England. Despite being 43 (the guy won the Heisman when I was in elementary school, and I have been out of college for well over a decade), Vinny is being looked to as an insurance policy as third quarterback. Plus, on long road trips he can entertain the team on the plane by telling them stories of the olden days.
U - Ugly. For the third straight outing, Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia was very solid allowing just two earned runs. And for the third straight outing the team failed to convert, leading to another loss against the lowly Rays. That is hardly the way to stay on top in an AL Central race that suddenly looks like no one wants to win. If I was a Cleveland player I would be careful - Sabathia is a really big guy, and if he gets too angry he could snap and start sitting on guys. That could be fatal.
V - Vick, Michael. Thing sure didn't get better for everybody's favorite alleged dogfighter while I was away. All his friends have turned on him, more charges could be on the way, and his lawyers are reportedly working on a plea bargain. You can bet that Falcons owner Arthur Blank has an army of lawyers looking over NFL labor laws trying to find every loophole he can exploit to save his money and rid himself of this mess.
W - Why? The Ravens-Giants preseason game, won by New York 13-12, was one of those games that really makes you question why the preseason exists. The game was brutal, and at least seven players went down with injuries. Fans don't like the games, players don't like them, management doesn't like them - surely there is a better way to make the preparation for the year more effective and less costly.
X - eXplosive. I don't know about you, I was much happier back when the Yankees were pathetic. Their offense is truly on fire these days, and the results are obvious. The team has scored five or more runs in 18 of their last 21 games, and it's no surprise that they have won 15 of those affairs. At this point another October with New York seems sadly inevitable.
Y - Yikes. The Pirates are showing how they have managed to stay as consistently terrible as they have for so long. Not only did they agree to take on Matt Morris' bloated salary in one of the oddest trade deadline deals in history, but they took on the chronic underachiever when he was totally out of form. The 'ace' has allowed 14 runs in 18.1 innings since joining the Pirates, and batters are feasting on him, hitting .329.
Z - Zany. The Lions are getting ready to unleash Calvin Johnson, their latest first round receiver, on the NFL just as Charles Rogers, their 2003 first rounder who was a massive flop, is getting ready to break into the CFL. Rogers has been so bad, and so tainted by a drug suspension, that he couldn't find a single team interested in his services. Canada is my home and native land, but Rogers should be ashamed that playing here is the best he can do.