This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 06/30/2008
A - Angels. This one had to hurt. Jered Weaver threw six innings without a hit against the Dodgers on Saturday. He passed the ball to Jose Arredondo, and he posted two more hitless innings. The only problem? The Angels lost. The Dodgers had an unearned run thanks to a Weaver fielding error. The Dodgers became the fifth team in major league history to win without getting a hit. To add insult to injury, Weaver got tagged with the loss.
B - Bulls. Chicago struck it incredibly lucky when they won the draft lottery, and their lucky break paid off on Thursday night. By picking Derrick Rose Chicago gave themselves a very good shot at having a superstar point guard to lead the team into the Promised Land. Teams are about more than just one player, but the Bulls have enough promising young pieces already in place that Rose should be able to improve this team dramatically right from the start.
C - Chris Snee. It may or may not be fair, but Snee is getting a lot of abuse in the media, and probably from his Giants' teammates, this week. Snee is part of the line that protects Eli Manning, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a contact extension. That's not surprising - he was the only starting lineman not to be secured for several seasons. It's the size of the deal - $43 million over six years, including $24 million in the first three - that seemed like a lot of money for a right guard who isn't exactly the best in the league. Or at least it did until you consider that Snee is Tom Coughlin's son-in-law.
D - Drugs. It was not a good week for horse racing on the drug front as two of their most prominent trainers are facing potential suspensions. Rick Dutrow Jr., the man who conditions Big Brown, claims his positive test on a horse at the beginning of May was just a mistake. Steve Asmussen, the trainer of super horse Curlin, has asked for the second sample to be tested in his positive case. These two high profile incidents expose a dirty truth in racing - you don't stay on top based on talent alone.
E - Exchanges. The NBA draft was notable as much for the trades as the picks. The Raptors are the big winners in my eyes - they got rid of some extra pieces and added Jermaine O'Neal. If he is healthy then he and Chris Bosh could form a truly terrifying frontcourt. The Nets positioned themselves to be big players in the free agent market next year by dumping Richard Jefferson and his big contract onto Milwaukee. The award for the biggest risk belongs to Minnesota's Kevin McHale, though - he traded O.J. Mayo for Kevin Love. He'll either look like a genius, or he'll be looking for people he can tell about how he used to be an NBA executive.
F - Fresno State. It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that there has never been a more unlikely champion in college sports than the Bulldogs. Fresno State won the College World Series this week. They were the longest shots in the field at the start of the eight-team finale, and they became the only No. 4 seed in the history of the College World Series to make it to Omaha. To put that in context if you aren't a college baseball follower, their win is about the equivalent of a No. 13 seed prevailing in March Madness. Not likely.
G - Gaston, Cito. The rehiring of the former Blue Jays' manager raised some eyebrows last week, but it seems to be working. He has a strong hitting background, and it seems to be rubbing off on his team and their pathetic bats. They had 22 hits on Tuesday, the most by any team all season. The team has won five of their last seven, and they have scored at least seven runs in four of those five wins. It's amazing how much easier this game is when you can score.
H - Heat, Miami. It was touch and go for a while there, but the Heat management managed to avoid doing something incredibly stupid on draft day. Michael Beasley is a very special offensive talent, and trading him away or picking someone else would have been incredibly stupid no matter how badly you need a point guard. As it turns out, Miami ended up doing just fine by standing pat - Kansas' guard Mario Chalmers was available in the second round, and he certainly has a chance to be a legitimate starter in the NBA. Miami got him from Minnesota in a very low cost trade. Chalmers will be a much better point guard with Beasley to pass to.
I - Idiot. Shawn Chacon isn't a great pitcher, but he is good enough that he would have been able to play in the majors for as long as he wanted. All he had to do was not doing something incredibly stupid. Like choke his GM, for example. Chacon is now a former Astro after the team first suspended him then cut him. He got into an argument with GM Ed Wade, and it escalated until Wade was on the floor and teammates were trying to pull Chacon off of him. It will be very interesting to see if any team is desperate enough to sign Chacon after that.
J - Joba Chamberlain. I have been writing about the new Yankees' starter pretty much every week for a while, but I can slow down the pace now that he finally got his first win. He got it in style, too. He lasted just one out short of seven innings, and reminded opponents why they used to be so scared of him when he came out of the bullpen. He didn't allow a run, and he struck out seven while walking just one. He could pitch a fair bit worse than he did on Wednesday night and still live up to his immense hype.
K - King Felix. The Mariners are hitting so badly that it is a shame that Felix Hernandez only gets to bat in interleague games. Maybe they should stick him at DH when he is not pitching. Hernandez became the first American League pitcher since 1971 to hit a grand slam. Not just that, but it came off of no less than Johan Santana. The team won, but Hernandez didn't get to count it on his record - he had to leave the game two innings after the big hit with a sprained ankle.
L - LeCavalier, Vinny. The sniper for the Tampa Bay Lightning is the latest to be part of a slightly odd new trend in the NHL. LeCavalier signed a nine-year contract this week. He will be paid $77 million over the course of the deal. There is no doubt that he is a good player, and it is almost certain that the size of the deal will be a bargain for a top scorer when it is over, but it seems strange and more than a little risky that teams are committing such huge sums over a long term to players when contracts are guaranteed in the league. The good news is that he is in Tampa Bay for life if it works out, but the bad news is that he probably is if it doesn't, too.
M - Manny Pacquiao. The pride of the Phillipines is one scary fighter, and David Diaz learned that first hand. There was concern from some that Pacquiao would lose speed as he moved up in weight to Lightweight. If he did it sure didn't show. He absolutely destroyed Diaz, making his face a bloody mess before knocking him out in the ninth. It was a win at a fifth different weight class in Pacquiao's career, and the title he won was the fourth different class in which he has been champ. Boxing needs a new pound-for-pound champ, and my vote is definitely for Pacquiao.
N - Nine. I think it's probably fair to say that Carlos Delgado has mostly been a disappointment since he came to the Mets. He's been fine, but he could and should be so much more. There are occasional glimpses of what is possible, though, such as he put on display on Saturday against the Yankees. Delgado exploded for nine RBI in a convincing win, including a grand slam and a three-run shot. Typical of the Mets this year, though, they failed to build on the momentum, and they lost the second half of the double header 9-0. They just aren't very good.
O - Olympics. There was bad news emerging from the U.S. Olympic basketball team this week, but it shouldn't be too bad. Word leaked out that Dwight Howard will miss some action because he has yet to recover fully from a stress fracture to his sternum that he suffered in the second round of the playoffs. That's not good, but clearly if it were going to be a huge problem then they wouldn't have picked him for the team in the first place.
P - Patrick Carpentier. The good news? After a very good Indy career, the Canadian earned his first pole in NASCAR after making the transition to the major leagues of racing. That didn't take too long for the rookie. The bad news? The race itself was an absolute disaster. He was 32nd at Loudon in a rain-shortened race won by Kurt Busch. Busch ended a 29-race winless streak, but Tony Stewart threw the race away and extended his own winless streak to 31.
Q - Quite odd. There was a very strange story from the NBA draft involving Kansas' Darrell Arthur. Arthur probably should have been a lottery pick, but he plummeted down the board before getting picked 27th. The reason for the free fall was a reported kidney problem. The odd part is that Atlanta's doctors examined him and found no problems. No other team tested him, and none seemed to have talked to the Hawks, so he was punished for a problem that it doesn't appear that he actually has.
R - Rose, Jeremy. What an idiot. You may remember this young jockey as the guy who should have won a Triple Crown on Afleet Alex a couple of years back. He'll have a lot of time now to reflect on that past success. Rose was suspended for six months for whipping a horse in the face at Delaware Park. It was absolutely intentional and inexcusable, and the officials deserve credit for the swiftness of their reaction - Rose was out on his ear the day after the incident.
S - Spain. To the surprise of many, Spain made it all the way through Euro 2008 without one of their practically patented collapses. They won the tournament on Sunday by beating Germany, 1-0, in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score would make you think. Spain never lost through the tournament, they never even looked particularly challenged, and they convincingly ended a 44-year drought at the European championships. Most impressive in the tournament was their scoring depth - this is a scary team for opposing defenders to have to deal with.
T - Tigers. Don't look now, but the Tigers have finally awoken. The previously woeful team moved to one game above .500 on Sunday when they completed a sweep of the still woeful Rockies. The team has now won 16 of their last 20, and they sit just 4.5 games out of the lead in the AL Central. It would have been a ridiculous statement three weeks ago, but Detroit has to be considered the favorite to represent the division in the post-season.
U - Ugly. The WNBA is hard to watch at the best of times, but it would be even worse if you were a fan of the league in Atlanta these days. The city got an expansion team, the Dream, this year but the season has so far been a nightmare. Their loss to Connecticut this weekend was their 14th-consecutive, tying the WNBA record for futility. The problem, besides the losses I mean, is that the team has only played 14 games.
V - Venus Williams. They still have time to disappoint us, but so far at least the Williams' sisters look like they came to Wimbledon to play. Both women have moved through the early rounds of the tournament with relative ease, and Venus grabbed attention by breaking the Wimbledon record by launching a blistering 127 mph serve. They are also cruising through the doubles draw without breaking a sweat. As a tennis fan, seeing this makes me just a little sad - just think of how many titles the sisters could have won if they were able to keep their heads together.
W - Wimbledon massacre. The first week of Wimbledon has not been kind to highly ranked players. On the women's side both top seeded Ana Ivanovic and third seeded Maria Sharapova bowed out in less than inspiring fashion. The biggest chump of all though, is definitely men's third seed Novak Djokovic. He said before the tournament that Roger Federer was done and that he was the future, then he went out and lost to Marat Safin, the definition of a has-been, in straight sets in the second round. Needless to say, that robbed his argument of some credibility.
X - eX. Shaq is now a former fake sheriff's deputy, but I am guessing that he would do it all again in a heartbeat. His badges were taken away from him after he appeared online in a video performing an impromptu, profanity-laced rap. The target? Kobe, obviously. Shaq didn't pull any punches and accurately pointed out that only one of them has a ring since their high profile break-up in L.A.
Y - Youkilis, Kevin. The Red Sox' first baseman missed a game and a half, and he's sporting a black eye, but it could have been much, much worse. Youkilis had to leave the game on Monday after a freak injury. He and the rest of the infield was warming up before the fifth inning when a Mike Lowell toss to first took a strange bounce and hit Youkilis in the eye. He escaped serious injury, but not before Theo Epstein sprouted a few gray hairs.
Z - Zzzzzz. Michelle Wie missed the cut at the U.S. Open this week. She managed a nine on one hole on the front nine of the first round. I'm no child prodigy, but even I almost never pull that off, and I'm not a particularly good golfer. I think it is time that we don't talk about Wie anymore until she either wins a tournament or retires. If anyone has Ty Tryon's phone number they might want to pass it on to the former Hawaiian wonder-girl.