This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 05/12/2008
A - A-Rod. New York's most hated hometown boy had a rough week. He's on the DL and off the radar, but that didn't spare him from embarrassment. We learned that Rodriguez passed out at the sight of blood during the birth of his first child. That, of course, is irrelevant to sports betting. I just find it hilarious that the guy has so much trouble getting respect from those around him despite being the best ballplayer on the planet and that his own wife calls him a weenie in the national media years after the event happened just because she could.
B - Brawl. The Mariners/Rangers game erupted into fisticuffs Thursday night. Richie Sexson lost his mind and rushed the mound because he felt that Kason Gabbard had thrown at his head. That came a half inning after Felix Hernandez had hit Ian Kinsler. Sexson is 6'8", so a pitch that comes close to his head would sail way above most guys. Whether the pitch was at his head or one that got away, it's not a surprise he was frustrated - his team was in the midst of a 1-10 stretch.
C - Casino Drive. Wow. Until Saturday it looked like there was only one freakish horse in the Triple Crown picture, but now Big Brown has a serious competitor. Casino Drive annihilated a decent field in the Peter Pan at Belmont on Saturday and is pointed at the Belmont. It was only the horse's second career race, and the first was in Japan, but both races were won in dominating fashion. More significantly, the horse is a half brother to both Jazil and Rags to Riches - the last two Belmont winners.
D - D'Antoni, Mike. It used to be that fired coaches were lousy, but this guy and Avery Johnson are changing that. D'Antoni averaged 58 wins a year in four years for Phoenix, but he never quite went all the way so he was essentially booted this week. He landed on his feet, though, so you don't have to feel too sorry for him. He parlayed interest from two teams into a four-year, $24 million contract. The only downside is that it is with the Kincks. Hopefully he doesn't need talented players to start winning.
E - Edmonds, Jim. What a sad fall from grace. At least this one doesn't involve anything criminal, though. Edmonds is an eight-time Gold Glove winner, and one of the all-time great big-catch outfielders. In 2004 he had 11 RBI, 42 homers and hit .301 for St. Louis. He was an all-star in 2005. Now he is so bad that he was cut by the worst team in baseball. The Padres cut him this week because they need much more help than he could offer - a .178 average with six RBI in 26 games.
F - Florida. If you had said before the season that the Marlins would have the best record in baseball by Mother's Day you would have been locked up. It's true, though. They have won seven straight to move to 23-14. That's not the only thing that doesn't make sense in South Florida - the cheapest team in baseball actually spent some real money this week. They signed Hanley Ramirez, who is hitting .336, to a six-year, $70 million deal.
G - Gagne, Eric. Maybe performance-enhancing drugs do help pitchers after all. The now-former Milwaukee closer is taking a 'mental break' from pitching in the ninth. That's what happens when you are terrible. He leads the league with five blown saves, and he has two losses including his last appearance on Saturday in which he allowed three hits and two runs in the ninth to blow a nice outing by Ben Sheets.
H - Home Court Advantage. It makes sense that teams play better at home during the playoffs, but this is getting ridiculous. The home team is 14-1 so far in the second round of the playoffs, and they are a ridiculous 12-2 ATS. Detroit is the only road team to buck the trend with a win, and Cleveland covered without winning in Boston. It's not always this easy for the hosts - they were just 8-12 ATS in the first round last year.
I - Immelman, Trevor. Things aren't going any better for the Masters champ, but at least you can spin this week's happenings in a positive way - after two straight terrible performances in which he failed to make the cut, Immelman didn't get cut this week. The downside is that he was too sick to start the tournament. The official story is that he had an upset stomach, but I suspect that he was actually sick of playing like crap.
J - Judah, Zab. The former welterweight boxing champion won't be making a career comeback quite yet. He had to cancel his fight with Sugar Shane Mosley that was scheduled for the end of the month after he suffered an arm injury in training. The boxing world won't mourn not being able to see two over-the-hill fighters try to recapture former glory, but I was looking forward to seeing Judah for one reason - his last fight in Nevada, against Floyd Mayweather Jr., ended in a brawl involving trainers and entourages from both sides.
K - Kimmo Timonen. The Flyers were probably going to have trouble beating the Penguins in the battle of Pennsylvania anyway, but the loss of their best defenseman doesn't make it any easier. Timonen has a blood clot in his ankle that will keep him out of action. His absence has already been felt in the first two games of the series - the top offensive players for Pittsburgh have played well and Philly is clearly lacking defensive depth. Win or lose, though, Philly deserves credit - they are in the semifinals a year after having the worst record in the league.
L - Lee, Cliff. Chien-Ming Wang lost for the first time all season this week, but it was his opposing pitcher that was the real story. Cliff Lee was great in that game, and he has been spectacular all year. He threw seven shutout innings that night to move to 6-0 on the year. His numbers are unbelievable - 0.81 ERA, 39 strikeouts against just two walks, and an opposing batting average of just .173. Not bad for a guy who was 5-8 last year.
M - Marvin Harrison. It wasn't until Harrison hit the news this week that I realized that there isn't a superstar out there in a major sport who the public knows less about. If I had had to guess what he got into in his spare time I would have imagined watching movies in his mansion, not shooting guys with custom made Belgian armor-piercing guns (allegedly). This has the potential to end very badly for Harrison, but at least the Colts have practice playing without him after his injury problems this year.
N - No-no. Gavin Floyd doesn't have a no-hitter on his record, but he has come darned close twice in the last month. Joe Mauer hit a double with one out in the ninth on Tuesday to break up Floyd's latest attempt. On April 12 against Detroit Floyd had an out in the eighth before giving up his first hit. Floyd isn't magical every time out, though - he didn't make it out of the fourth after giving up nine hits and five earned runs on Sunday against the Mariners.
O - Opportunism. Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown was given his name because his owner had just landed a big contract with UPS. It only makes sense, then, that UPS would jump on board now that the horse has won the world's biggest race and has a potential date with destiny. The guys in the brown outfits have signed a sponsorship deal with the horse (or his connections, really) for an undisclosed amount. If he is forced to run with a banner anywhere on his body I'm switching over to FedEx.
P - Players Championship. Sergio Garcia had been putting like a lame grandmother this year, but he finally put it altogether in a big one. He started and ended strong, but he was a little rough the middle two days. Still, it was enough to get him into a playoff against Paul Goydos. Garcia won the 'fifth major', but it still has that big and unavoidable asterisk beside it - Tiger was nowhere near the course when Garcia won thanks to his knee injury.
Q - Quit. Willie McGinest is packing it in. After this year. The extended farewell tour was previously limited to Cher, Kiss, and athletes people came out to see, but McGinest is taking it to a new level. Don't get me wrong - he's a solid player with a nice career. It's just that we probably don't need a whole year to get used to the idea of living without a 36-year-old linebacker who has combined for seven sacks over the last two seasons.
R - Reds. Cincinnati's season has largely been frustrating, but when they are in form they sure can hit. They hit seven homers, including three from Joey Votto as they pounded the Cubs 9-0. Edinson Volquez, one of the big surprises of the year, was strong again - four hits and no runs in seven innings. He's a huge bright spot for a team that needs one badly - they have just three wins in their last 11.
S - Scherzer, Max. Diamondbacks fans have only seen their young pitching prospect three times, but they must figure that they have glimpsed the future. Scherzer threw more than four perfect innings in his relief debut last week. That was enough to earn him a spot in the rotation. His first start on Monday was a bit rough - five runs (two earned) in four innings in a loss to the Phillies. He bounced back very nicely on Saturday, though - no earned runs in six innings against the Cubs. He has 18 strikeouts and just three walks in 14 innings.
T - Tampa Bay. Is it possible that the Rays are for real? They keep playing like they are. They are now 21-16, and they have won five of six. Their bats are pretty solid, but it's the pitching staff that is shining lately. James Shields tossed his second complete game in three outings on Friday, and he allowed just three hits in those games. Andy Sonnastine isn't as flashy, but he's the fastest Tampa pitcher ever to reach five wins, and four of his wins are against AL East rivals.
U - United, Manchester. There are 20 teams in England's Premier League, but you couldn't blame a casual fan who thought that Manchester United was the only one. They beat Wigan this week to clinch their 10th league title in 16 years. That will help to build momentum for the team as they head into their Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow on May 21.
V - Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays had a bad break this week. Literally. The team's star player broke his wrist diving for a catch on Friday and is expected to be out of action for six to eight weeks. A broken wrist is a terrible injury for a hitter and it can take a long time until his batting is back to normal. The Jays are struggling at the plate, and they also lost David Eckstein to the DL this week, so this could be a fatal blow for an already disappointing season.
W - Worry? Roger Federer lost nine times last season, and has averaged just six losses a year over the last four years. It's not even the middle of May yet, and Federer has already piled up six losses. His latest came on the clay in Rome when he lost in straight sets to 27th-ranked Radek Stepanek. This won't be his last loss of the year, either - this is clay season, and clay is historically and statistically by far his worst surface.
X - madduX. I know that Maddux is a stretch for the letter X, but the guy deserves any attention he gets after the milestone he reached this week. It took five tries because he isn't getting any younger and his team is truly lousy, but the pitcher earned career win number 350 on Saturday against the Rockies. He's the ninth pitcher to hit that mark, and he's now only four wins behind that drug cheat and potential pedophile who pitched for the Yankees last year.
Y - Yikes. What is it about the Trojans? First it was Reggie Bush and his family who allegedly took illegal gifts while he was starring at the school. Now it seems as if O.J. Mayo was hitched to the gravy train this past season. Mayo reportedly received cash and gifts from a sports promoter who was associated with a sports agency that wants to represent Mayo as a pro. It won't affect Mayo's college career because that is already over, but at some point the NCAA is going to lose its' patience and punish the Trojans seriously.
Z - Zito, Barry. I'm going to be forced to write about Zito until he remembers that he used to know how to pitch. That means that I could be forced to write about him for eternity. After being briefly dumped from the rotation he returned to action on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The good news is that he wasn't terrible. In fact, compared to his current self he was pretty good - just two earned runs in five innings, and 2.5 times more strikeouts than walks. The bad news is that his team is still terrible and he got yet another loss to move to 0-7.