This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 04/21/2008
A - Anaheim. So much for a repeat Stanley Cup champion. The team should go back to being named after a Disney hockey team, because that was a truly Mickey Mouse performance. The Ducks got called for a ridiculous number of penalties, failed to show any interest or desire, and were handled easily by a Dallas team that is decent, but certainly wasn't viewed by a lot of people as being as dominant as Anaheim made them look.
B - Boo Weekley. This golfer could make a pretty sweet career for himself by just playing one tournament a year. He has two career wins, and they have come in consecutive editions of the Verizon Heritage. Last year he needed a couple of crazy chip-ins on the last two holes to beat Ernie Els. This year he was up by three strokes heading into the final round, and he maintained that advantage through the last round.
C - Calzaghe, Joe. This Welshman is a legend back home, but he had managed to go 44-0 in his career without ever fighting in the States. That changed on Saturday when he took on Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas. Though Hopkins is getting older, the matchup made sense - Calzaghe defended his middleweight title for the 21st time last time out, one more than Hopkins mark of 20 earlier in his career. It didn't look good early for Calzaghe - he was knocked down in the first round. He fought back and gained strength, though, and won a split decision to take Hopkins' Light Heavyweight title. Hopkins had loudly said before the fight that he could never return home if he was beaten by a white boy, so if you have a spare room you might want to give him a call.
D - Danica Patrick. It finally happened. Patrick finally won a race. She won the Honda 300 in Japan to become the first women to ever win a race in Indy or NASCAR. It's a remarkable accomplishment, and Patrick has shown that she is much more than just a pretty face, but I sincerely hope that we will go back to hearing about her as much as we hear about any other one-win driver on a second rate circuit. She's a great story, but I'm sick of it.
E - Evan Longoria. I'm sure there are all sorts of good business reasons for this move, but it seems a bit odd. Longoria (no relation to Eva), the highly-touted third base prospect for Tampa Bay, signed a six year, $17.5 million contract with options for three more years this week. What makes it odd is that the guy had only played six career games at the time. He looks good and all, but that's a quick judgment about a guy. Of course, if he turns out well then management will look like brilliant.
F - Frank Thomas. Wow, I didn't see this one coming. Thomas pouted when he was benched as DH for the Blue Jays. Not that he didn't deserve it - he was batting .167 on the year. At that point I thought he would whine and then forget about it. The next morning he negotiated his release from the team because he didn't want to accept reduced playing time. That seems like a risk for Toronto - he led the team in home runs and RBI last season. It makes more sense for Thomas - he should land on his feet relatively quickly.
G - Glavine, Tom. The news that Tom Glavine hit the DL this week can't come as much of a surprise - he's not a young man, after all. What is shocking about the right hamstring injury is that it's the first time in his 22-year career that the 42 year old has ever been on the DL. That's beyond unbelievable. The loss is a blow for an Atlanta team that is stuck in a tough divisional race and could use all of the pitching help it can get.
H - Hasek, Dominik. He's been one of the most dominant goalies in the NHL for well over a decade, but age may finally be catching up with the 43 year old. He was given the playoff nod for the Detroit Red Wings in their series against Nashville, but he was pretty much awful. Chris Osgood played in his place and allowed just one goal in the last two games of the series. Osgood is a seasoned veteran himself, so he would really have to work hard to lose the starting spot now.
I - Isiah Thomas. In the least surprising development of the basketball season, the worst basketball mind in the history of basketball was fired by the Knicks. Thomas has poured gas over every team that has hired him in any capacity and then lit it on fire. I'd like to believe that he will never get another job, but then he keeps finding ways to get hired, so anything can happen. I could talk about the next options for the Knicks at coach, but it doesn't matter - Barney the dinosaur would be an upgrade.
J - Jimmy Rollins. The reigning NL MVP will be taking a holiday. Philly placed Rollins on the 15-day DL after a sprained ankle wouldn't heal. That's a huge hole for Philly, and one that they aren't used to filling - Rollins missed just 34 games in his first seven seasons. That's less than five games a year. Rollins has already missed 11 games, and Eric Bruntlett has taken his place. That hasn't gone well - Bruntlett is hitting .179.
K - Kansas. The national champions aren't going to be like Florida - a roster full of players skipping the draft to win another one. Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur have both declared for the draft. Arthur has no agent so he could change his mind, but Rush is committed - he has already withdrawn from the draft last year, so he can't do it again. Mario Chalmers hasn't decided if he is going to join them. If I were Chalmers I think I would stay for another year to milk everything I possibly could out of hitting that shot.
L - Lexington Stakes. This race at Keeneland was the last real chance for three year olds to earn the money needed to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby, and an impressive group of horses showed up for a shot - Tomcito, Atoned, Salute the Sarge, Racecar Rhapsody. Atoned was seen as Todd Pletcher's best shot to get a third horse in the Derby, but it was the top trainers' other horse, Behindatthebar, that was a mild surprise as the winner. It's unclear if he will move on. None of the horses that would have moved on if they got the money they needed got it done.
M - McNair, Steve. Baltimore's veteran QB has packed it in after 13 years. The Ravens are in risky territory, but they are probably a bit relieved - they will be drafting a quarterback, and this clears the path for him a bit. I have always like McNair, and his numbers are very solid, but I can't believe that his name is being tossed around in Hall of Fame consideration. There's no way that he is of Canton caliber, and that's not an insult in any way. You need to have won something to make the Hall of Fame (unless you are Warren Moon and you have truly ridiculous numbers), and McNair just hasn't.
N - Nice start. Chipper Jones is seeing the ball pretty well these days. That's the biggest understatement I have ever made. After going 4-for-4 on Sunday, Jones is at .458 on the year. That's obviously best in the league. His 18 RBI and six homers are each third best in the league, too. He's gone hitless just once in 18 games, and he has 10 multi-hit games.
O - Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were willing to pay an absolute fortune for Bill Self, but it turns out that the vault wasn't open for everyone else. After turning down Providence, Travis Ford will be moving from UMass to Oklahoma State. He'll hardly be poor - $9 million over seven years - but the money, and the coach for that matter, is a massive step down from Self. Unless Ford is disastrous in his new gig, we have a clear early leader to be the next coach at Kentucky.
P - Pittsburgh Penguins. It isn't much of an accomplishment sweeping the Ottawa Senators given the mess their season turned into, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Pittsburgh looks very good and will be hard to beat in the Eastern Conference. The extra time off that the sweep gives them will only help Sidney Crosby get healthier, and he looked pretty good as he was. Their next opponent is still up in the air.
Q - Quit. C.C. Sabathia doesn't need to quit pitching, but he might want to quit eating so much. Sabathia has not looked like a toned physical specimen this year, and his results have been nothing short of ugly. He's 0-3 with an ERA of 13.50. Ouch. In his last two outings against Oakland and Detroit he has allowed 18 earned runs in seven and a third innings. Needless to say, something isn't quite right with the big man.
R - Relocation. The NBA has approved the relocation of the Sonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City. The team still has to get by some legal issues, like their signed lease in Seattle. They'll get it done and the move will happen, but that doesn't mean that it makes sense. The only thing most people know about Oklahoma City is the state it's located in. It isn't a huge city, and Oklahoma isn't a traditional hoops hotbed, so it's not hard to imagine that we will be talking relocation again in a few years.
S - St. Pierre, Georges. St. Pierre removed the interim tag from his UFC Welterweight title, but it was hardly a fair fight. The Quebec native was fighting in his home province, and in Montreal where he trains. Never in the history of the UFC has a fighter received a louder cheer when he arrived, or throughout the fight. St. Pierre would have probably beat Serra anywhere, but he couldn't lose in Montreal. The problem now is figuring out who he should fight next - the pickings are fairly slim.
T - Tejada, Miguel. It turns out that age is just a number after all. Tejada admitted this week that he is 33. The records show that he is 31. He was 19 when he signed his first pro contract, but a coach apparently convinced him that it would be better for him to say that he was 17. The bizarre part of the story is that his license, green card and other papers have been correct all along, yet baseball officials never looked. This revelation doesn't change one thing - the guy is still an alleged steroids cheat.
U - UCLA. The Bruins are going to have a wildly different look on the courts next year. There is a major exodus underway, and we don't even know about Darren Collison yet. Kevin Love surprised no one by going pro, and it wasn't that much of a shock that Russell Westbrook. It was a surprise, though, that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute joined them. He's a nice player, but he's not a first rounder, so gambling with a non-guaranteed contract doesn't make a lot of sense. He hasn't signed with an agent yet, so he can change his mind.
V - Very nice. If this pace keeps up the Gasol trade could turn into one of the best in NBA history. Gasol had 36 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists to lead his team in all categories as the Lakers swept past the Nuggets by 14. The Lakers looked very much in control, and they exposed the big problem the Nuggets have - Iverson and Melo both scored 30 points, but it just wasn't enough. It didn't help that the other three Denver starters combined for 13 points.
W - War Pass. Street Sense finally managed to win both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby last year, but it won't be happening again this year. War Pass was going to have a bunch of questions heading into the race, anyway, but he injured his leg and will miss the big day. That's a blow for Nick Zito, the trainer who definitely doesn't have the weapons he has had in the past.
X - eXtreme. Chris Paul had never appeared in a playoff game before this weekend, but you would never have guessed it by looking at him. Paul had 35 points and 10 assists to lead his team past the Mavs by 12 and take some of the air out of the Dallas upset balloon that a lot of people had been floating. I still don't think Paul will win the MVP, but every time you see the guy you realize that he's the real deal.
Y - Yikes. The Pistons will want to take a long, hard look in the mirror. They completely outclass the 76ers, their first round opponent. They had a 15-point lead in the second quarter. That is not the kind of game that a good team should lose. Yet somehow they did. Philadelphia never stopped fighting, and they looked hungrier and faster as they fought back to win by four. The accomplishment is even more noteworthy for Philly - they were the only lower seeded team all weekend to get a win.
Z - Zzzz. A playoff game that goes into extra innings is one of the greatest things in sports. A marathon game in April, on the other hand, isn't quite so exciting. Fans of the Padres and the Rockies were faced with an endurance test this week when their teams went 22 innings. Colorado won it, but not before 15 pitchers were used. It looked like it would end in the 14th when Colorado scored, but San Diego tied it up again.