This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 09/04/2007
A - Appalachian State - I give the Mountaineers all of the credit in the world for the amazing upset that they pulled off in Ann Arbor on Saturday. As a passionate Michigan fan, though, this makes me feel really, really, really sick. I have only four words - Fire Lloyd Carr Now! How can a coach of a top five program not have his team prepared and ready for a 1-AA team? Unbelievable.
B - Becks - It's a good thing that nobody actually cares about the MLS, because if they did then they would be saddened by the loss of David Beckham for at least six weeks thanks to a strained MCL. Though the crowds and media attention have made the acquisition of Beckham a good move for the Galaxy, a bum ankle and now a wrecked knee have made the on-field results disappointing. L.A. has been an absolute disaster from a betting perspective.
C - Clay Buchholz - Talk about setting an impossible standard to measure up to. In just his second career start, the Red Sox rookie pitcher threw a no-hitter against the Orioles. Buchholz was viewed as one of the top pitchers in the minor leagues, and he has an excellent curve ball and a stunning changeup, but no one could have seen this coming this soon. Hopefully he can keep it together, because no-hitters have been a bad omen for some talented young pitchers - what ever happened to Bud Smith?
D - Devil Rays - Tampa Bay may be a terrible baseball team, but they didn't end August like one. They scored 74 runs in their last eight games of the month, and won seven of them. Both Baltimore and Oakland are kind of sad opponents at this point, but the 9-1 crushing of the surging Yankees was impressive.
E - Elder - Roger Clemens is the old guy, and Josh Beckett is the bright light of the next generation of fireballers, but age and experience certainly came out ahead on Wednesday when the two hurlers met up. Beckett gave up 13 hits while Clemens served up just two in the Yankees win. A few more performances like that in key games and you could almost argue that Clemens is worth the money he is making. Almost.
F - FedEx Cup - The PGA playoffs headed into the second round this weekend, and they are no less of a joke. After Tiger skipped the first round, Ernie Els pulled out of the second round so that he could be home with his kids as they got ready for school. The PGA is so desperate to get attention and support for their farce that they 'randomly' placed Tiger, Phil and Vijay in the same threesome on Friday and Saturday. Ridiculous.
G - Goodbye - In a move that I found quite surprising, the Jags cut loose QB Byron Leftwich this week. This move comes after a lackluster camp that he came into after being named the starter in the offseason. Though Leftwich's lack of effort in camp is perplexing, he will likely end up somewhere quickly. He is, after all, a reasonably successful starter. Kansas City seems like a good fit. For the Jags, David Garrard and Quinn Gray will be interesting, but I'll need proof that they are worthy of my betting confidence.
H - HGH - It was a surprisingly busy week on the NFL drug front. Rodney Harrison will be out four games after admitting to HGH use. His impact on the Pats this year will likely be more spiritual than irreplaceable, but it will be interesting to see the impact of his absence. The other suspension is just bizarre. Wade Wilson, Dallas' QB coach, was suspended five games for using HGH. One could wonder why we care what drugs a coach takes. Three things will be interesting from this - if more suspensions are forthcoming, the impact if they are, and whether the public will care more than they did with Shawne Merriman's steroid woes last year.
I - Indians - Cleveland is having a very good year, and is likely to win the AL Central, but they may have come up wit their most impressive stat of all on Wednesday. That was the night that they beat Johan Santana for the fourth time this year. Normally it would be the worst nightmare of any team to have to face the nasty Twins' ace twice, never mind five times, but the Indians seem to wish that they could do it every day.
J - Josh Portis - The latest chapter in the once-promising college career of hotly recruited QB Josh Portis is quite bleak. Portis was wanted by everyone, originally chose Utah, moved to Florida with Urban Meyer, and then transferred to Maryland after his freshman year because he wasn't getting enough playing time. Now he'll miss this season because of academic ineligibility after failing to earn the starting job in camp. Just another case of wasted talent, it appears. It's a shame - this was a player whose career I was looking forward to.
K - Kill... someone - I don't mean to dwell on this Michigan debacle, but I still can't comprehend how a good team could go so, so wrong. Lloyd Carr is a decade away from a championship, and he's clearly completely and totally unable at this point in his career to prepare a team in the way a top team needs to be prepared. It drives me insane to see how top teams - Florida, LSU, USC, West Virginia, Louisville, etc. - all come into their games ready to win, and how Michigan, who should be of the caliber of every team on that list, just doesn't. Someone needs to die for this.
L - Longhorns - Texas must be thankful for Michigan, because no one noticed how bad they looked against Arkansas State. Texas forgot to show up for the second half, Colt McCoy looked pretty average, and they only won by eight against a team that they were favored to beat by 39. They have some real work to do in the next week. TCU, their next opponent and a team that longs to be this year's Boise state, must be licking their chops after seeing Texas' woes.
M - Midway - We're halfway through a U.S. Open that has had some exciting moments, but it is mostly going to form. Federer and Nadal look good, Djokovic survived a real scare, and the men's side is proceeding as expected. The biggest upset was Maria Sharapova on the women's side, but even that wasn't too surprising for people who have been watching tennis recently given her recent questionable form.
N - No worries - There were some concerns about the Sooners' quarterbacking situation coming into the season. First indications are that there is no need to worry. Freshman Sam Bradford looked like a two-time Heisman winner on Saturday, completing a ridiculous 91.3 percent of his passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns against North Texas. Real opponent or not, it was still incredibly impressive.
O - O'Sullivan, J.T. - It's a good thing that I long ago quit trying to figure out anything that the Detroit Lions did, because their last two preseason games made absolutely no sense. Jon Kitna was rested with back spasms, and the team left backup O'Sullivan in for the entirety of both games. Seeing a QB play a whole preseason game is incredibly rare, and it seems especially odd when it is a backup, and they didn't try to get any other QB on the roster a chance to touch the ball. Now Kitna comes into the season without seeing game action in weeks.
P - Pirates - We are so used to Pittsburgh being terrible that we don't notice when they actually play well. They ended up the month of August at 17-13 (.567), and that was with a disappointing three-game skid to end the month. That's a huge improvement from the 7-17 mark for July. Not surprisingly, the team won at some huge prices in August, making it a very profitable month for savvy trend spotters.
Q - Quite costly - The Cardinals are trying to overcome an incredibly bad start to the season and get back into a playoff race that sadly isn't out of their grasp. It got quite a bit harder for them this week, though, with news that they will likely be without Scott Rolen for the rest of the season. He hasn't had a great year, but he still would be valuable down the stretch. Maybe the team won't miss him though, because Rick Ankiel, one of the great comeback stories of all-time, is absolutely scorching hot.
R - Ryan Perrilloux - There were some concerns coming into this season that the backup quarterback for LSU wasn't going to be good enough, despite the fact that Perrilloux came into college a couple of years ago as a very highly-hyped recruit. He eased a few of those concerns on Thursday with solid play in limited action. He threw for a touchdown and ran for another one. Maybe a Matt Flynn injury wouldn't be a total disaster.
S - Streaks - Two teams in playoff pushes are moving in opposite directions. Cleveland won their eighth straight game on Saturday to move comfortably ahead of Detroit in the AL Central, while the Mariners dropped their ninth straight on Sunday to make their dreams of a wild card bid much more difficult to achieve.
T - Tim Tebow - We heard time and again last year that Florida would be even better off once Chris Leak graduated and Tim Tebow took over the reins, because Tebow is an Urban Meyer-style quarterback. If the first game is indication then that is completely true. Tebow had three touchdowns and 300 yards passing in just 13 pass attempts, and he ran for another score. It was only Western Kentucky, but it's a good start.
U - Ugly - I'm not sure I've ever seen a good pitcher go as bad for as long as Milwaukee's Chris Capuano has this year. Since winning on May 7 to move to 5-0, Capuano has 12 losses and six no-decisions. He missed time in June with a groin injury, but he's been even worse since he's come back.
V - Veterans - The Dodgers are in desperate need of pitching as they try to mount a late charge, and they clearly aren't afraid of going to the scrap heap to find it. The latest, joining David Wells, is Esteban Loaiza, who the Dodgers claimed off waivers from Oakland. It's an interesting gamble - he's a long way removed from his huge year in 2003, but he wasn't terrible in his only two appearances for Oakland after returning from injury.
W - Woodward Stakes - The last weekend of the Saratoga meet featured one of the big pre-Breeders' Cup races for older horses. Racing fans were desperately hoping that an older horse would emerge from the colorless pack and give us something to cheer about this year now that Invasor and Bernardini are gone and Lava Man has faded. We may have found what we needed when Lawyer Ron absolutely crushed a solid field to get his second big win at Saratoga. He's pointed at the Jockey Club Gold Cup before the BC at Monmouth.
X - eXplosive - If you haven't seen Colt Brennan's new Hawaii-inspired hairdo then you have no idea how bad it truly is, but the guy sure can play football. I don't care how good your system is or how bad your opponent is, six touchdowns in a game is quite the feat. This team is going to be very fun to watch, and likely often intriguing to bet on, this season. Don't expect a balanced offense, though - they passed for 540 yards and ran for 37, all of which were by the quarterbacks.
Y - Yi Jianlian - The Chinese draft pick finally signed with the Milwaukee Bucks, finally ending one of the most ridiculous standoffs in the history of the NBA. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Rumors abound that the Bucks made guarantees of playing time in order to get him signed, and Yi's play in the Las Vegas Summer League showed that he is a long way from ready for primetime, so the Bucks could be in some trouble on the court this year if the rumors are true.
Z - Zoom - That sound is the speed of Arizona State's recovery, by the looks of it. It didn't take a genius to figure out that bringing in coach Dennis Erickson would help the team improve. It was impressive just how good they looked in their opener against San Jose State, though. Rudy Carpenter looked like a freshman again (and that's a very good thing in his case) and the team was crisp and dominating in a lopsided 45-3 win.