This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 04/29/2008
A - Alexander, Shaun. We have seen a lot of rapid falls from grace in sports, but few that haven't involved dog fighting have been faster than this one. Three seasons ago the Seahawks running back was the easy choice for league MVP. The next offseason he signed a massive eight-year contract. Now he is unloved and unemployed after the Seahawks cut him following two terrible seasons. He'll land somewhere else, but the odds of a resurgence aren't high.
B - Brown, Larry. Brown must have a goal of coaching every team in the NBA. He doesn't have that far to go. Brown quit his job in Philadelphia's front office and appears poised to take over his ninth NBA franchise. It's not official, but it seems that the lucky team is Charlotte. For the world's flakiest coach it will be a glorious return to a state he has lots of ties to - he played for Dean Smith at North Carolina, coached Davidson for a month, and was at the helm of the Carolina Cougars in the ABA for three years. Now he has to work with the greatest player and one of the worst executives alive to turn around a lousy team. I give him two years tops.
C - Celtics, Boston. The series everyone thought had the best chance for a sweep is now tied up, 2-2. It is not time for Celtics fans to start panicking yet, but the team had better come out and seriously flex their muscle in Game 5.
D - Detroit Tigers. Don't look now, but the Tigers may have actually remembered how to play baseball. They had a rough series this weekend against the Angels in which they won just one of three, but even with that they have gone 9-5 over their last 14 games. They still have some issues, but scoring runs doesn't seem to be one of them anymore - in seven games this week they scored 53 times.
E - Erik Bedard. Mariners fans had to cope without their new ace for a while when he ended up on the DL, but in his return this week he showed the fans why he was worth the money the M's spent on him. He allowed just two hits and no runs over six and two thirds on Saturday to lead his team past the A's. Now if only the rest of the rotation would do their jobs - that was the only win in five games for Seattle, and Felix Hernandez gave up four runs in an inning on Sunday.
F - Frank Thomas. That didn't take long. Less than a week after his time in Toronto came to a bizarre end Thomas is the new DH in Oakland. For the A's this is a huge no-brainer - they needed the help, they know Thomas because he has been there before, the price was right, he still has something left in the tank, and he's a proven veteran influence on a team that is young and doesn't yet look like they know what they are doing.
G - Gibbs. Joe Gibbs Racing got another win when Kyle Busch took the checkered flag at Talledaga. In an oddity on recent weeks there was no drama at the end of the race - a 12-car accident caused the last lap of the race to be run under a caution. The win was the second Sprint Cup victory of the year for Busch, and his seventh in the three top NASCAR series. You have to wonder if Hendricks is regretting the decision to fire him last year.
H - Hansbrough, Tyler. In an interesting an not entirely unexpected move, the national player of the year is returning for his senior season even though he would almost certainly have been a first round pick in the draft. What is surprising, though, is that he may be playing alone. Starters Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson and sixth man Danny Green have all declared for the NBA Draft. None have signed with an agent, so the possibility exists that they can return. You have to think that a return will be tempting - they aren't lottery picks, and they would be very tough to beat next year in Chapel Hill.
I - Immelman, Trevor. Apparently playing in your first tournament after winning the biggest tournament in the world isn't easy. At least not for this South African. The reigning Masters champion followed up his glory in Augusta by carding rounds of 78 and 75 in the par 70 Byron Nelson Championship. Needless to say, 13 over wasn't enough to make the cut. In fact, he finished 150th out of the 154 golfers who completed at least two rounds.
J - Jocketty, Walt. The Reds finally made a good move. It was a bit odd that they would choose to fire GM Wayne Krivsky just 21 games into the season, but by doing that and hiring Jocketty in his place they have made a huge upgrade. Krivsky had struggled to make anything of the Reds despite the fact that they have a good deal of talent. Jocketty worked wonders in Oakland and St. Louis, and he should be able to do the same in Cincinnati given some time. The Reds could use some stability - this is their fourth GM in five years.
K - Kansas City. It was a big day for the Chiefs on Saturday. They were lucky enough to have Glenn Dorsey fall into their laps, and they added to their fortune by trading with Detroit to get the 15th pick and take Branden Albert. In the second round corner Brandon Flowers was somehow still available, so they took him to add to a defense that just got younger and much better. Don't get too excited about the Chiefs just yet, though - they didn't pick a QB despite having 12 picks, so Brodie Croyle still carries the hopes for the future. Ouch.
L - Liriano, Francisco. Remember when this guy used to be incredibly good? Looks like that is a thing of the past. The Twins pitcher is trying to come back from Tommy John surgery, and it isn't going well for him. He was sent to the minors before he totally destroyed the Twins. In three starts since returning he was 0-3 with an ERA of 11.32. The low point came in his last game - six earned runs in two thirds of an inning.
M - Moron. Word on the street is that the guy who left Oklahoma before he was fired to go to Indiana and disgrace a proud institution is about to land on his feet as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks. It's good to see Kelvin Sampson, a guy so richly deserving of a break, get a new gig. From the Bucks' perspective this move makes a ton of sense - when you watched the team play this year the one thing that was obviously lacking was sleaze, and Sampson pushes the sleaze factor way, way up.
N - Nomar Garciaparra. Stop the presses - Nomar is on the DL. One of the most fragile athletes in the world made his 11th trip to the DL in 13 years this week after straining his calf trying to beat out a double play. Even worse than his career DL trips total is his tally during his time with the Dodgers - he has only been there three seasons, and this is already his fifth trip. Maybe this wouldn't happen so much if he didn't do that annoying crap with his batting gloves.
O - Odd. How come everyone in the world can see that the Bears are in desperate need of a shake up at quarterback, yet the team just doesn't seem to see it? The Bears had 12 picks in the draft this year yet they didn't pick a QB. They have been pretty lousy behind center for at least three years (I'm being kind), yet they have now made 28 picks without a quarterback. I'm beginning to think that Lovie Smith may not be a genius after all.
P - Philadelphia 76ers. Is something an upset if it happens twice? For the second time in less than a week the Sixers beat the Pistons. This time it was a decisive 20-point victory at home on Friday night. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't maintain the momentum and Detroit was able to tie the series back up on Sunday. Win or lose, Philly has opened some eyes.
Q - Quarterbacks. It was a strange draft for QBs. Matt Ryan went where expected, but Joe Flacco was a surprise going as high as 18th, and Brian Brohm and Chad Henne almost didn't get picked on the first day at all. A lot of teams need quarterback help, but none panicked like they surely could have. A couple of interesting moves in later rounds - Minnesota picked up John David Booty in the fifth to keep Tarvaris Jackson focused (or to totally wreck his confidence), and Tampa Bay picked Josh Johnson of San Diego despite already having about 104 QBS on the roster.
R - Receivers. Scouts and teams delivered a resounding message on Saturday - they liked the class of wide receivers this year, but they sure didn't love them. Ten receivers were good enough to be second rounders, but not a single one was picked in the first round. St. Louis surprised many by making Donnie Avery of Houston the first wideout chosen. A few receivers suffered major tumbles down the board - DeSean Jackson, Limas Sweed and Malcolm Kelly lasted until later in the second, Mario Manningham went at the end of the third, and Adarius Bowman didn't get picked at all.
S - Suns, Phoenix. The Suns finally woke up on Sunday. Boris Diaw had a big game and Raja Bell was spectacular as the Suns cruised to a 19-point win at home over the Spurs. Now if only they had done this a week ago before they dug themselves into a massive and likely insurmountable 3-0 hole in their playoff series. Despite the win, one stat was glaring and causes some concern - Steve Nash only had four assists. He had four or fewer assists just three times all year.
T - Tampa Bay. A lot of people were very high on the Rays this year. We are only 25 games into the season, but those predictions aren't looking crazy yet. The Rays have won six in a row, and they have done it by sweeping division rivals Toronto and Boston. The most recent win was a real beauty - James Shields threw a complete game two hitter to win 3-0 despite a solid outing from Josh Beckett. That makes the impossible true - as I write this Tampa Bay is tied for first in the AL East. With Baltimore of all teams.
U - UCLA. It has not been a good week or two for UCLA athletics. First everyone other than Darren Collison has left the basketball team for the draft, and then their quarterbacking staff was ravaged in the most bizarre day of practice ever. In one session on Thursday both Patrick Cowan and Ben Olson went down with injuries. Cowan, who was to be the starter, is out for the year with a torn ACL. Olson will miss time with a broken bone in his foot. The strangest part is that neither injury involved contact.
V - Vince Young. The Titans' QB has a new offensive coordinator and two new targets from Cal - TE Craig Stevens and WR Lavelle Hawkins - so it is probably time for him to step up and become the player he is supposed to be. In a bizarre draft move, he also has his third running back picked in the first two rounds of the last three years. Tennessee raised eyebrows by picking the ridiculously fast Chris Johnson out of East Carolina despite having picked Chris Henry in the second round last year and LenDale White in the second the year before.
W - West, Delonte. If you were watching the last seconds of the Cleveland-Washington basketball game Sunday afternoon you saw something unexpected. The game was tied with seconds left and Cleveland had the ball. Needless to say it was in LeBron's hands, and everyone on the planet expected him to shoot. Nope. He dished it to Delonte West, and the former St. Joe's star drained a three to seal the game and take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. James had 32 points and 10 rebounds despite almost being decapitated by DeShawn Stevenson.
X - eXtremely odd. Of all the picks in the first round of the draft, the biggest head scratcher by far was Atlanta's choice of Sam Baker. I understand that they want to protect Matt Ryan and provide running room for Michael Turner, but trading up to pick a guy who was hurt for much of last year, had a lousy Senior Bowl, probably would have been on the board farther down, and is far from a lock to be a long term starter doesn't really make a ton of sense.
Y - Yankees. How long until Mount Steinbrenner erupts? The Yanks won on Sunday thanks to an incredible performance from Chien-Ming Wang, which moves him to 5-0. The problem is that the team with the payroll bigger than the GDP of many countries needed that win just to return to .500 on the season. They are not only looking up at Boston, but also Tampa Bay and Baltimore. They got off to a similarly sluggish start last year and rebounded to make the playoffs, but this is not the kind of thing you want to make a habit of.
Z - Zito, Barry. This is getting ugly. The Giants' albatross allowed eight earned runs in three innings against the Reds on Sunday to move to 0-6 on the season. He has allowed at least four runs in each of his six starts, and he has yet to make it past the sixth. Needless to say, that's not good value for money. His pathetic pitching wasn't contagious on Sunday - Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez allowed one run in seven innings to move to 4-0 with an ERA of just 1.23.