This Week in Betting, A-Z
by Trevor Whenham - 06/22/2009
A - Albuquerque. The circus is coming to New Mexico on Tuesday. That's when Manny Ramirez is scheduled to report to the Albuquerque Isotopes for a conditioning stint in Triple A before he is eligible to return to the Dodgers on July 3. It's hard to believe that it has been almost 50 games already since Manny disgraced himself and his sport. I can only imagine what the media coverage will be like surrounding his return.
B - Break. Dice-K is getting a break whether he wants one or not. The Boston hurler was first pulled out of the rotation for one start and then sent to the 15 day Disabled List. It seems almost certain that he'll be out of action for longer than two weeks - he's been terrible and obviously isn't right, and the team is committed to spending the time now to fix the problems instead of letting them linger through the rest of the season.
C - College World Series. Omaha has, yet again, offered real drama and excitement over the course of the last week. Arizona State made an impressive run, but ran out of luck in the semifinals. Virginia won their first-ever CWS game, and then almost won again. Arkansas eventually saw their glass slipper shatter, but not until they had dramatically turned around a terrible regular season. Now Texas and LSU are set to play a best-of-three final series that should be a true classic.
D - Druggie. We heard the least surprising news in the history of sports this week - Sammy Sosa used steroids. It came out this week that he was one of the players that tested positive in the same league-wide test that snared A-Rod in 2003. This is merely a confirmation of what seemed obvious - Sosa experienced both a telltale spike in his performance and a subsequent decline after testing began. I hope Sosa wasn't set on making it to Cooperstown, because this will make it very difficult for him.
E - Exhibition. Pedro Martinez threw a party in the Dominican Republic, and a bunch of people turned up. Six teams - the Angels, Brewers, Cardinals, Rangers, Rays and Yankees - sent representatives to watch Martinez pitch. He seems eager and almost ready to return to the majors, and even if he is far from his best he'll still be a valuable addition to a rotation or, if a team can convince him to make a change he doesn't seem excited about, a bullpen.
F - Fatigue. A-Rod was benched for a couple of games this week because of fatigue. In this case, fatigue is code for 'painfully terrible play'. He obviously wasn't too fatigued during his break, because he was spotted out partying late into the night in South Beach with girlfriend Kate Hudson. Rodriguez is hitting .213 and his slugging percentage is as bad as it has ever been, so this might not be the only case of fatigue that he comes down with over the next while.
G - Glavine. After getting painfully disrespected by the Braves, Tom Glavine has decided not to make a permanent decision. He won't be pitching this year - teams weren't exactly lining up to take a gamble with him - but he isn't going to retire just yet. It seems likely that his career has come to an unfitting end, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that he could get himself in top shape and find another opportunity next year.
H - Halladay, Roy. The Blue Jays suffered a bad blow this week when they lost their ace to the 15-day DL with a groin injury. He's throwing off the mound already, so it doesn't seem like this will be a long-term problem, but it stills hurts a team desperate to stay in a divisional race that they are already outclassed in. The results for the team since the injury have been mixed - they swept the Phillies but then came painfully close becoming the first team all year to be swept by the Nationals.
I - Italy. The Italians are the defending World Cup champions, but they have a whole lot of work to do if they want a shot at winning the title again. They are playing in South Africa at the Confederations Cup this week, and they have looked terrible. They had an inexplicable 1-0 loss to Egypt, and then followed that up by getting crushed by Brazil, 3-0. The only high point was an easy win over the U.S., but that's hardly enough to think that they are even remotely competitive right now, and the World Cup is only a year away.
J - Jeff v. Jered. The Weaver family must have found it hard to figure out who to cheer for on Saturday night when Jeff and Jered started in the battle for Los Angeles. It was a good storyline, but not much of a game. Jeff was decent, and he got the win for the Dodgers, but he only lasted through five innings. Jered was yanked in the sixth, and he didn't look particularly comfortable, and the Dodgers hit him early and often.
K - Klitschko, Wladimir. It seems hard to believe, but people somewhere actually care about heavyweight boxing. Klitschko added another heavyweight belt to the two he already had when he dispatched Ruslan Chagaev with a 10th round TKO. The incredible part isn't that Klitscko won the fight, but that there were 61,000 people packed into a soccer stadium to watch him do it. The win is a major step towards complete ownership of the weight class for Klitschko, but that domination won't be complete until he and his brother agree to meet in the ring, and that won't happen.
L - Losman, J.P. After riding the bench in Buffalo for two years, Losman has found a new home, but it's not one that you would expect. Losman is reportedly set to be the starting quarterback for the Las Vegas franchise in the upstart United Football League. There are only six games scheduled for the league, but he'll be well coached - Jim Fassel is at the helm. He's just one of several high profile players linked to the league - Tim Rattay seems to be on board, and guys like Larry Tripplett and Adam Archuleta are associated with teams.
M - Mayfield, Jeremy. The stranger the Mayfield story gets, the more fascinating I find it. Mayfield is on suspension from NASCAR with a reported positive test for meth. To fight the accusations, Mayfield hired an expert witness to testify on his behalf. Smart move. The only problem - they expert is a total fraud. A quick investigation by NASCAR uncovered that the expert didn't have the degrees or the accreditations that he said he did. You'd think that that's the kind of thing that Mayfield would make sure of in a case like this. Of course, it's probably hard to focus on details when you are high on meth.
N - Nepotism. It seems as if the Calgary Flames are about to hire Brent Sutter as their coach. He was the coach of the Devils the last two years, but left that post so he could stay closer to his home. If this happens it will add to one of the most blatant cases of nepotism in sports. Brent's brother Darryl is the GM of the Flames. Brother Duane is director of player personnel. Ron is a scout. Brian is a former coach. Darryl has drafted his own son and his nephew. It's all Sutter, all the time in Calgary. I'd be more tolerant of the ridiculousness if they ever won anything of note.
O - O'Neill, Kevin. The USC Trojans have found a sucker. After guys like Jamie Dixon, Lon Kruger and Jeff Van Gundy turned them down, Memphis Grizzlies assistant and former Toronto Raptors and Arizona Wildcats Coach Kevin O'Neill has taken the head coaching job. It's a very bad position to put himself into, but after the drama in Arizona tarnished his reputation, this is probably the best that O'Neill thought he could do. He's a talented coach, but I don't like his chances here at all.
P - Pudge. No catcher has ever caught as many games in the major leagues as Ivan Rodriguez. He became the top Pudge in history this week when he caught and passed the other Pudge, Carlton Fisk. Rodriguez isn't playing as well now as he has in the past, but he's still playing well enough that he could play for another couple of years and make this already incredible record even further out of reach.
Q - Queen's Plate. The 150th running of the Queen's Plate, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, occurred at Woodbine in Toronto on Sunday. That makes it the longest running horse race in North America - 13 years older than the Kentucky Derby. The winner was the favorite, Eye of the Leopard, a regally bred son of A.P. Indy. The race was almost a replay of the Preakness - two highly touted fillies were very competitive, but they wound up third and fourth.
R - Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard's knees have robbed Wimbledon of much of its drama. Nadal, the defending champ at Wimbledon, pulled out of the tournament thanks to tendinitis in his knees that was too bad to allow him to be competitive. Nadal and Federer was the final everyone wanted to see after their brilliant match last year, but now we might have to settle for Federer against the great British hope Andy Murray. It's hard to see how Federer doesn't win this tournament to add to his French title.
S - Sabathia. The Yankees got a serious scare on Sunday. CC Sabathia left his start in just the second inning with soreness in his arm. The prognosis seems positive at this point. He'll test the arm on Tuesday, but at this point he says he still intends to make his next start. The team had better hope he's okay - with Burnett facing a short suspension and Wang far from reliable right now the rotation is not in a position to weather another storm.
T - TUF 9. The UFC had perhaps their best match of the year on Saturday, and you could watch it for free on the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 9. Diego Sanchez earned a split decision win over Clay Guida in a bloody and vicious lightweight match. Both guys took a real beating, and it was a bit surprising they both survived. Guida helped his already solid reputation despite the loss, and Sanchez should be near the top of the list for a lightweight title shot.
U - U.S. Open. What a crazy, crazy tournament. The weather was a big story all weekend. So was the inability of so many big names to be competitive. Tiger Woods was never a factor after a terrible opening round. Phil Mickelson had the tournament in his hands until he crumbled down the stretch. In the end, it was an unlikely group that were atop the board. Lucas Glover held on to win by two after Ricky Barnes collapsed before our eyes and wound up tied for second with Mickelson and, of all people, David Duval. All in all it was an interesting tournament, but I'm not at all convinced that it will be remembered as a great one.
V - Vacation. Ryan Howard got something he hasn't had for a long time and almost certainly didn't want now - a day off. Howard had the longest consecutive games streak in the league at 343 games, but it ended on Sunday. He was hospitalized for the second straight night on Saturday with severe flu-like symptoms, and it was enough to keep him out of the lineup against Baltimore Sunday. He's expected to miss a couple more games before he is healthy enough to play again.
W - Wesley Ward. Ward, a competent though not outstanding American thoroughbred trainer, discovered a formula that others are sure to duplicate in coming years. An American-based horse had never won a race at Royal Ascot, Britain's most prestigious race meet, but Ward won two this week. He did it by exploiting a difference in training techniques - Americans train young horses for speed, but the British favor stamina, so Ward's two year olds were well prepared for the short sprints typical of this time of year.
X - eXplosion? Formula 1 might be looking to self-destruct. The organization's management tried to impose strict spending limits for their teams starting next year, and eight teams, including constant heavyweight Ferrari, aren't happy about it. They are threatening to break off and form a separate league of their own if the situation isn't addressed. A splinter group worked so well for Indy cars that it seems like the best course for F1. Hopefully they can come to their senses before this gets out of control.
Y - Yikes. There must be something wrong with Tiger Woods. There is really no other explanation for why he was never really a factor in the U.S. Open despite it being played on a course that is set up well for him, and on which he has won, and despite it being won in less than dominating fashion. The shock isn't that Woods didn't win. It's that he looked so bad for much of the week. His body language was terrible, his shots were inconsistent, and he left opportunities on the table time and time again.
Z - Zoom. Nicanor, the full brother to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, made his first return to action on Wednesday at Delaware Park since winning in stunningly dominating fashion in his turf debut. It was another win. Now the three year old who looked so common on dirt is heading into stakes competition on turf next time out, and he looks like he could have a bright future on the surface.