This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 07/28/2008
A - Anthony Kim. didn't win the Canadian Open this week - Chez Reavie did. Still, his eighth place finish deserves a bit of discussion. In his last nine tournaments he has won twice, finished second once, and had two more top-10s, including the British Open. He's made over $3 million in that stretch, and is sitting in fifth in the money list. Keep in mind that he's just 23, and two years ago he was playing on the Nationwide tour and waiting for Q-school. It remains to be seen if he can keep up this pace, but Kim clearly has a chance to be a truly special talent.
B - Big Unit. Randy Johnson looked like he used to as he engaged in, and won, a classic pitchers' duel against the Cubs this week. He allowed just two hits and no runs in seven innings to trump Rich Harden's one-run performance, even though Harden struck out 10. Harden has had tough luck with the Cubs so far, but he's allowed just two runs in 17 innings, so he is on his game. Johnson is pitching well of late, but it didn't hurt that he was playing the Cubs - the win moved Johnson to 13-0 on his career against Chicago.
C - Caleb Campbell. The former Army football star had a very strange week. He was told after last season that he could enter the NFL Draft, so he did and he was drafted by the Lions in the seventh round. As he prepared to attend camp this week, though, the military decided that he could no longer play and needed to report for active duty. He was literally about to go and sign his contract when he heard the news. I'll stay out of the politics of the situation, but this obviously won't make it any easier for the service academies to recruit.
D - Doping. We are sure to hear a ridiculous amount about doping over the coming weeks as festivities get underway in Beijing. The IOC predicts about 40 cases, up from 26 in the last games. Before the games even started we have had a reasonably high profile positive. American swimmer Jessica Hardy tested positive for a banned substance at the Olympic Trials where she earned her Olympic berth. Shockingly, the swimmer says she has no idea how she tested positive for Clenbuterol. Maybe it's not fair, but my guess is she tested positive for it because she took it.
E - EliteXC. MMA was back on CBS on Saturday night. Kimbo Slice wasn't fighting this time, though, so few people paid attention. The main event was a rematch of the Robbie Lawler - Scott Smith middleweight battle from the first televised card. The first match was a no contest, but Lawler won this version when he dropped Smith with a series of brutal knees. Welterweight Jake Shields is likely the top 170-pound fighter outside of the UFC after demolishing Nick Thompson in impressive fashion in just 63 seconds. He won the EliteXC welterweight title, and Antonio Silva claimed the heavyweight belt.
F - Federer, Roger. Maybe that epic loss to Rafael Nadal took more out of the world's No. 1 tennis player than it would seem. Federer returned to action in Toronto for the first time since his Wimbledon setback, and it didn't go well. He lost his first match in straight sets to an opponent that had no business beating him. It provides a little consolation that Nadal struggled in his first match as well, though he carried on to win the event. Federer's current reign at the top seems to be in its waning days given the way he and Nadal are playing. That's not to suggest for a second that he is done for good, though.
G - Ginger Punch. The Breeders' Cup is still three months away, but the defending champion of the Distaff (now the ridiculously named Ladies' Classic) served notice that she plans to return to the winner's circle. Ginger Punch got in all kinds of trouble in the Go For Wand Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, and it looked like she wouldn't find room to run. After getting banged around, though, she just made her own room. She forced her way between the leaders in the stretch and ran away for the win. It was an impressive win even if it came against a flawed and uninspiring field.
H - Hampton, Mike. It seems hard to believe, but Hampton finally pitched on Saturday. The fragile hard-luck starter hadn't been on the mound in a game for 1,072 days. He looked about as rusty as you would expect, allowing six runs and eight hits in four innings. I'm sure he doesn't mind, though - at least he's back in action. He also didn't record a loss thanks to an uncharacteristically awful start by Cole Hamels.
I - Injuries. The Braves have struggled with injuries all year, but their game on Wednesday took that to a new, ridiculous level. Both Chipper Jones, their top bat, and Tim Hudson, a key cog in the rotation, left the game with injuries. Jones pulled his right hamstring, which is bad news since he has been plagued with right groin and thigh problems all year. Hudson left after six scoreless innings with soreness in his elbow. Hudson expects to make his next start, but Jones hasn't played since Wednesday.
J - Jimmie Johnson. Johnson won at the Brickyard on Sunday, and the victory came in one of the most ridiculous races in recent NASCAR history. Somehow the tires provided by Goodyear would only last for about 10 laps, so the race was filled with frequent pit stops and cautions. There were 11 yellow flags and six forced pit stops. In the end, only 12 laps were run under full green. Fittingly, one of Johnson's tires exploded when Johnson did a burnout to celebrate the victory.
K - Kyle Busch. This is getting to be totally unbelievable. Kyle Busch won again when he took the Nationwide race in Indianapolis on Saturday. It was his 15th win of the year on the top three NASCAR circuits. It's only July, but Busch has already broken the record for most combined wins in a season. He won this race, his fifth Nationwide victory, despite the removal of 15 horsepower from all Toyota engines before the race for fairness - Toyota has won 15 of 20 races on the Circuit.
L - Look out. Don't look now, but the Rockies may be mounting another late season charge. They have won nine of 10 since the all-star break, and they rolled to a dominating 11-0 win over Cincinnati on Sunday. It seems ridiculous to suggest that a team that is 48-58 would be even remotely relevant by September, but the Rox play in the NL West, so their dismal record only has them six games out. This is further proof that the NL West should be disbanded immediately.
M - Macho Again. A new star has emerged on the three year old scene, and I couldn't be happier about it. This son of the great champion Macho Uno made a move between horses at the top of the stretch and held off a late charge from Pyro to win the Jim Dandy at Saratoga. The field was deep for the race. Though it was the first graded stakes win for the horse, it didn't come as a surprise to those like me who have long been fans - he'd won the Derby Trial nicely, and followed up with a second in the Preakness when he was clearly the class behind Big Brown.
N - Nice deal. Think the Brewers are feeling okay about having sent away some top prospects for CC Sabathia? So far the gamble has paid off handsomely. Sabathia has three consecutive complete games, and he has allowed just three runs over that stretch. The team has used those performances to build momentum with nine wins in 10 games, and they find themselves shoulder-to-shoulder with the Cubs at the top of their division.
O - Ouch. Joe Calzaghe hurt his wrist in training and has been forced to postpone his scheduled September fight with Roy Jones, Jr. I was hoping that the injury would force the fight to be canceled entirely, because having a stunning talent like Calzaghe fight a washed up has-been like Jones in a clear cash grab is a tremendous waste of time and talent when there are so many more interesting opponents out there.
P - Philadelphia Soul. The Soul beat defending champs San Jose to take home the ArenaBowl trophy on Sunday in the 22nd championship for a league that has failed to capture the public imagination. Or maybe it's just my imagination that could care less. Either way, there was a good story that was capped in this 59-56 victory - QB Matt D'Orazio started the year as a backup, wound up as the MVP, and threw for seven touchdowns in the win. He wound up with 72 touchdowns and just four interceptions on the year.
Q - Quite lucky. Former Notre Dame receiver Jeff Samardzija was called up to the Cubs this week after Kerry Wood hit the DL with blister problems. Samardzija made the pros relatively quickly, and I can't help but think how lucky he was to choose baseball over football. He is making big money, he's a professional, and he didn't have to endure the awful mess that Charlie Weis has turned the Irish program into. He even got a save on Sunday. There are probably several other guys on the Irish that wish they could throw a curve ball.
R - Re-signed. The Warriors have had a brutal offseason, but they finally managed to get something right. Restricted free agent Monta Ellis doesn't have to worry about shopping for a new house after signing a new six-year, $66 million contract. That doesn't make up for the loss of Baron Davis, but having Ellis on board for the long term at least ensures half of an explosive backcourt for years to come.
S - Shockey, Jeremy. The biggest-name tight end in the league is no longer a discontented Giant. After a trade this week, Shockey is for the first time in his life being called a Saint. New Orleans acquired Shockey for a second and fifth-round pick. It's a deal that should help both teams. New York gets rid of a serious headache, and New Orleans gets another key piece to an already potent offense. If, that is, Shockey can stay healthy and get his mind back into the game.
T - Tour de France. This once proud sporting event has evolved into a pathetic farce, but it still carries on. It's newest winner was crowned on Sunday when Carlos Sastre became the seventh Spaniard to win the epic journey. There's no word yet as to when Sastre is scheduled to be busted for doping, but recent history would suggest that it's only a matter of time. Four other riders have tested positive so far on the race, with more results still pending.
U - Urlacher, Brian. Even though the centerpiece of the Bears defense had four years left on his contract he got a one-year extension this week that will be worth a total of $18 million. I don't really care about the deal or the team, but I am relieved for one reason - this is one less player that will go through a ridiculous and obnoxious holdout any time soon. There have been a painful number of players who have publicly pouted this year - Hester, Burress, Jackson, Andrews and too many others to list have all sat out or threatened to.
V - Vacation. Josh Childress obviously was feeling burnt out in the NBA, because he has embarked on a long and surprising Greek vacation. Childress has accepted a three-year deal worth about $20 million after taxes to play for Greek club Olympiacos. The deal is the biggest in Euroleague history, and it signals a potential new era in basketball. Players have regularly left the NBA for Europe, but never American's entering their prime, and never for NBA money.
W - WNBA. For once the WNBA was frequently in the news this week. The league just probably wishes it wasn't. One reason for coverage was just a harmless stunt - 50-year-old broadcaster and basketball legend Nancy Lieberman played in a game for Detroit. She played nine minutes but had an empty stat line. The bad news is that Detroit needed her because they were five players short for the game. A brawl between Detroit and L.A. led to the suspension of Detroit assistant Rick Mahorn and 10 players, and fueled an immense amount of ridiculous talk in the media.
X - Xavier Nady. The Yankees are as hot as a team can be - eight wins in a row as of Sunday - and they are only three games out of the lead in the AL East. Whereas it seemed earlier that the season might be lost, now they are looking to add pieces for the stretch drive. The first significant move, with apologies to Richie Sexson, was the addition of Nady and reliever Damaso Marte from the Pirates for four prospects. The right fielder was batting .330 for the Pirates in what was shaping up to be a career year.
Y - Yikes. Antonio Margarito has the reputation of being a scary opponent, and he proved why on Saturday when he upset Miguel Cotto to win the WBA welterweight title. Cotto won the early rounds with his technical approach, but Margarito began to wear him down as the fight went on, and the former champ went down twice in the 11th before his corner threw in the towel. It was a new experience for Cotto - he had never lost in 32 previous career fights.
Z - Ziegler, Brad. You probably don't know much about this Oakland reliever. After all, he was pitching in the minors until June. He made one heck of a debut to his career, though. He gave up a run on Sunday, but that came after his first 27 innings were scoreless. That's not just an impressive run. It's the best ever by a pitcher to start his career, surpassing a record set 101 years ago. What a way to create some pressure for the rest of the year.