This Week In Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 08/06/2008
A - Artest, Ron. The Rockets are clearly looking to win while they still have a solid core in place. That's pretty much the only reason that they would take the gamble they have - adding Ron Artest to their line-up. There's little doubt that Artest is as good as anyone defensively. He's just also a locker room menace, and he can rip a team apart and cause trouble like nobody else. The plus side is that Houston didn't overpay for him, though, so they won't be in serious trouble either way. Sacramento fans seem happy to be rid of the distraction, and should be reasonably pleased with what they got for him.
B - Big Brown. The good news is that the Derby and Preakness champ helped to put the debacle of the Belmont behind him by winning his first race since that misfire. It wasn't just any race, either - the Haskell is one of the two biggest races of the summer for three year olds along with the Travers. The bad news is that he didn't look nearly as effortless in this win as he did in his glory days, and there is at least a chance that we just saw him run for the last time. As a guy with Breeders' Cup tickets, though, I certainly hope not.
C - Colt Brennan. The former star at Hawaii had an almost unbelievable fall from grace - he went from a potential number one pick to a sixth rounder in one decent but less than expected season. He landed in Washington, and is an afterthought in the minds of most. In his first action, though, Brennan served notice that he wasn't going away without a fight. He completed nine of ten passes, including two real gems, and had two touchdowns to lead his team over the Colts in the Hall of Fame game. The accomplishment is tempered a bit, though, by the obvious fact that he was playing against third stringers and no-hopers. Still, it was an impressive showing for a first try.
D - Donaghy, Tim. I'm all in favor of sports betting. Obviously. Unless, of course, you are an NBA official. Donaghy forgot about that last part, and now he will have plenty of time to think about all that he did wrong. The disgraced former zebra was sentenced to 15 months in prison for all the bad things he did. There's a lesson in all of this - if you want to be a sports bettor, don't become a referee. I'm not sure why you would want to be a ref at all.
E - Edwards, Carl. That crazy backflipper got himself another win. It was far from typical, though. 127 laps into the 200 lap race at Pocono, the field was parked due to rain, Edwards was in 22nd place, and he was having a heated argument with his crew chief. Skip ahead to the end, though, and Edwards won thanks to taking a bold fuel gamble that somehow paid off. Edwards has won four times now, which trails only the superhuman Kyle Busch who has seven.
F - Francisco Liriano. Liriano is back in the majors with the Twins. It's just ridiculous that it took him this long to get there. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Liriano struggled in April and was demoted. In his last 11 starts in Rochester, though, he was 10-0 with a 2.67 ERA. That's like the Liriano of old. To make room for him, the Twins cut LIvan Hernandez lose - no big deal since since Hernandez had struggled since a good start.
G - Greg Maddux. This is one of those stats that seems too bizarre to be true. Leading into this week, Maddux had been pitching regularly, yet he hadn't won a game since May 10. For the most consistently reliable pitcher in the pros for many years that wasn't exactly the norm. He's making up for it this week, though. He finally got a win against Arizona on Monday, and he liked it so much that he got another on Sunday. That only makes five wins, though, so he has a long way to go to get to 13 - his lowest win total since 1987.
H - Huh? Paul Pierce was asked who the best basketball player in the world is this week. His answer - Paul Pierce. He's a nice player and all, but I'm not sure I buy it. After all, I'm pretty sure that you have to be the best player on your team in order to be the best player in the world. Whether I agree or not, though, Pierce had an odd way of celebrating his self-proclaimed excellence - he got himself arrested in Vegas for being agitated and perhaps drunk.
I - Ichiro. Japan's finest hitter hit a major milestone this week. Suzuki has now had 3,000 hits as a pro. That's not quite the same as the other guys who have hit that mark - only about 1730 of those hits have come in America. Still, it's an impressive mark, and he is unquestionably an all-time great hitter. He's only 34, too, so he will be able to add a bunch more to his total. I just hope that he gets a change of scenery, or at least the Mariners quit sucking, because Ichiro could be accurately accused of looking less than interested these days.
J - JaMarcus Russell. The reports out of Oakland camp are that last year's number one pick is looking good. When he's playing, that is. He has missed more action than he should have so far thanks to a sore elbow. It doesn't seem to be a serious problem, but it's far from ideal for a guy to miss any time when he is preparing for his first start. It also raises a few concerns since Russell is obviously the future of the team, and they don't have anything particularly inspiring to fall back on.
K - Kelly Shoppach. You may not have heard of Cleveland's backup catcher, and he may soon fade back into oblivion, but he did something this week that earned him a perpetual claim to fame. He became the first American Leaguer since Lou Boudreau in 1946 to have five extra base hits in a game. He had two home runs, and he added three doubles for good measure. There's a sad ending to this story, though - the rest of his team didn't do their parts, and the Tigers won in extra innings.
L - Lava Man. It's been a long time since Lava Man was at his best on the track, but that doesn't make his retirement this week any less noteworthy. He ends his career with 17 wins, including seven in grade I races. He's the third most successful California bred ever, and he has the rare distinction of being a winner on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces. His biggest knock, though, was that he was truly awful outside of California. He's a gelding, so Lava Man will have a relaxed life, though one lacking in meaningful female companionship.
M - Manny Ramirez. Manny is, well, a character. He's also pretty much as good as it gets at the plate. That wasn't good enough for Boston anymore - his talent was outweighed by his ridiculousness in their minds. They sent him and his fake knee injury to the Dodgers, and he promptly turned into a superstar hitter again. So far he has eight hits, two homers and five RBIs in three games. Not bad for a guy who cost the Dodgers pretty much nothing of real value.
N - Number one. I'm less optimistic than some that it will be this way in December, but for now at least the Georgia Bulldogs are the number one team in the country according to the coaches and their poll. It's not that surprising - they were among the hottest teams in the country down the stretch, their QB, Matthew Stafford, is the potential number one pick next year, and running back Knowshon Moreno, though only a sophomore, is a super freak. I just don't trust them to survive every pitfall that their schedule presents.
O - Oklahoma. Sooners' QB Sam Bradford has one less intriguing target to hit this year. The coaching staff tossed freakishly talented incoming freshman Josh Jarboe off the team for bad behavior. Jarboe was on thin ice after getting arrested on a weapons charge in the spring. The final straw was a video that was filmed in an Oklahoma dorm and appeared on the internet. In it, Jarboe raps about guns and shooting people. He obviously has a screw or two loose, but he's so talented that someone who doesn't care about discipline problems will pick him up. Nick Saban, for example.
P - Pudge. The Yankees had a very good trading deadline (except for the part about not helping their starting rotation). Their last move was perhaps my favorite. Jorge Posada is out for the year, so they replaced him with Pudge Rodriguez. The 14 time all-star is a proven postseason performer who rises to a challenge, and he'll be hungry after struggling with Detroit and not getting playing time. He'll get the most out of the rotation, and he was a bargain - Kyle Farnsworth went the other way, and getting him out of the bullpen is a big improvement for New York.
Q - Quite sad. There is now not much point in watching the women's tennis event at the Beijing Olympics. It lost much of it's appeal this week with the news that Maria Sharapova has pulled out with an injury. That significantly lowers the eye candy quotient. On the plus side, Ana Ivanovic and Danielle Hantuchova will be there, so it's not entirely a loss for those seeking visual stimulation.
R - Re-upped. A couple of developing and promising restricted free agents signed nearly identical new contracts with their teams this week. The Bulls seemingly chose Luol Deng over Ben Gordon when they signed him to a six year, $71 million deal. Emeka Okafor is signed to be with the Charlotte Bobcats just as long, and he'll have just a few more bucks to toss around - he'll make at least $72 million.
S - Steve Smith. If I had to pick just one receiver for my new NFL team, Smith would be on my short list. I'd just tell my cornerbacks to stay away from him. That's because of how Smith treated teammate Ken Lucas this week. Lucas did something to annoy Smith, so the receiver broke the corrner's nose. Needless to say, these guys haven't always got along since they became teammates. It might have felt good at the time to Smith, but it might not have been worth it - the team has suspended him without pay for the first two regular season games. That was an expensive way to blow off steam.
T - Teixera, Mark. Another year, another big deadline deal for Teixera. This time he moved from the Braves to the Angels. Casey Kotchman went the other way in a swap of first baseman. It was an upgrade for the Angels, and a nice move for the Braves - sacrificing a little upside for a longer, cheaper contract. The move might surprise some for the Angels - they are already a lock to win their division, so they really just rented the player for the postseason, and Teixera has no history of postseason success.
U - U.K. The pride of British tennis has had a very, very good week. Andy Murray won the Masters Series event in Cincinnati, a key U.S. Open prep event. More impressively, he beat number three Novak Djokovic in the final, and it was the second time in just over a week that Murray had done that. The Brit has had serious attitude problems through his career, and he has made a habit of underachieving, but he showed signs at Wimbledon and since that he has finally turned a corner and might realize his potential.
V - Vijay Singh. It wasn't always a pretty effort, but Vijay earned himself his first win in a World Golf Championship event this weekend. Singh won the Bridgestone Invitational by one stroke, but not before he tried hard to throw the victory away down the stretch. It was Singh's 32nd career PGA victory, and it reversed a recent troubling trend - three times in the last year Singh had had a lead after 54 holes only to lose it on the final day.
W - White Sox. Chicago fell out of first place in the AL Central this past weekend, but they found a way to relieve some of the stress - they beat the heck out of the Royals. Kansas City catcher charged the mound after being hit n the wrist with a pitch, and the benches cleared. Not at all surprisingly, A.J. Pierzynski was right in the middle of it all. It was fun to watch, but doesn't hide the fact that Chicago lost two of three to lowly Kansas City, or that they have dropped 19 of 28 on the road. A team that was never supposed to be in contention is now reminding us why.
Xavier Nady. - If I had my way then the new Yankee outfielder would be the MVP of the second half. That way I would always have something to write about for the pesky letter X. Nady this his part this week at a good time. He had a home run and a career high six RBIs to lead his team past the Angels, the top team in baseball. There was speculation that the jump from the anonymity of Pittsburgh to the bright lights would affect Nady, but it sure doesn't seem so for now, anyway.
Y - Yikes. The truly pathetic Kansas City Chiefs have about three things going for them, and one of those has had a setback. Rookie defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey will miss about a week of practice thanks to a sprained knee. The MRI showed no lasting problems, and it's better to miss time now than when it matters, but it's a bit worrying that he is facing physical challenges already.
Z - Zenyatta. Curlin and Big Brown might have something to say about it, but it's possible that the best horse in training in North America is a filly. Zenyatta won the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar on Saturday in easy fashion for her seventh straight win. It's odd that a four year old has only run seven times in her life, but then this is no normal horse. It's way too soon to know what will happen, but murmurs of a potential run in the Breeders' Cup Classic are growing in intensity.