Random notes from Wednesday afternoon:

  • You had better get used to the BCS the way it is now because it isn’t going to change any time soon. After much discussion today the BCS officials have chosen to change nothing until at least 2014. There was a proposal on the table to go to a four team playoff in 2010, but that was rejected. According to the officials the BCS is in an ‘unprecedented state of health’. That’s clear evidence that the BCS officials don’t actually watch the BCS games.
  • Ugly, ugly game by the Mets today. They lost 13-1. To the Pirates, of all teams. To make matters even worse, nine of the 13 runs Pittsburgh scored were unearned. There’s sloppy and then there is the game New York played today. Five pitcher appeared for the Mets, but just two were responsible for the unearned scores. Oliver Perez started, but he didn’t make it out of the second inning. He allowed seven runs, but only two were earned. He walked five. Jorge Sosa was the third pitcher in, and he made Perez look sharp by comparison. He allowed four hits and five runs (one earned) in one inning. The rest of the team did their part in this mess by contributing three errors.
  • We have another drug cheat in baseball. Giants’ catcher Eliezer Alfonzo is out for 50 games after testing positive for performance enhancers. He has been in the minors this year, but he started 113 games over the last two years and had put up respectable numbers. He probably would have found his way back to San Francisco soonif he hadn’t got caught because the drugs were obviously working – he was hitting .306 with 14 RBIs in 16 games.
  • The Kentucky Derby is only three days away. The post position draw occurred today, and it featured an odd moment. Big Brown, the Derby favorite, is trained by Richard Dutrow, Jr. He is one of the most obnoxiously arrogant men on the planet. He has been so boastful about his horse that if you listened to him you would wonder why they are even bothering to run the race before giving his horse the roses. No one wants the outside post – number 20 – in the race because the horse has to travel so far to get to the rail. No one except for Dutrow that is. Other posts were available when Dutrow picked his post, but he took the 20. He says it is because he doesn’t want a horse outside of him, but more likely it’s just another way for him to show off. The horse has been unbelievable, but it has to overcome a lot to win here – he has raced only three times, including just two this year. No horse in more than 70 years has won the Derby without having run at least five times before.

Larry Brown has a new coaching gig. Again. The Charlotte Hornets become the ninth team he has helmed, following Denver, New Jersey, San Antonio, Indiana, the Clippers, Philadelphia, Detroit and New York. The prevailing attitude seems to be that he will be a miracle worker in Charlotte. Jim Rome went as far today as to virtually guarantee that the team would make the playoffs next year under his leadership. That’s quite a claim for a team that only won 32 games last year. But what has history taught us about what we can expect from Brown when he joins a new team?

Continue reading “What Can We Expect From Larry Brown?”

I’ve been sidetracked by the draft for a few days, but it is time now to get back to thinking about baseball. Here are a few of the things that caught my attention as I was getting caught back up:”

  • Barry Zito makes $126 million and now he is heading to the bullpen. That’s ugly but not surprising – he’s o-6 after all. Still, this is a massive fall from grace for a guy who was supposed to be one of the elite arms in the league. A lot of bettors are probably pretty happy to see him go, too – he’s been an underdog in every game he has played, and at some juicy prices, so a lot of people have probably been sucked in by thinking that his next game could finally be the one in which he turns it around. When he’s in the bullpen that temptation is eliminated.
  • James Shields had a ridiculously good game against the Red Sox – a two hit complete game shutout with seven strikeouts and just one walk. It was no fluke, though – this guy can pitch. He was 12-8 last year for a team that only won 66 games, and his strikeout to walk ratio was better than 5-to-1. This year he has allowed just 11 runs in six games, and he hasn’t allowed more than three in a game. His ERA dropped a full point from his first year in 2006 to last year, and it has dropped more than 1.3 points so far this year. Best yet he’s only 26, so the best is still ahead of him.
  • Since we’re on the topic of pitchers, I owe a mea culpa to Chien Ming Wang. At the start of last year I was positive that this guy was a half-weight masquerading as a top-of-the rotation starter. He’d gone 19-6 the previous year, but I had no faith in his ability to recreate it. He didn’t – he went 19-7 instead. Now he has started out 5-0 on a team that is otherwise struggling, He has had one disastrous start – eight earned runs in four innings against the Red Sox – but in that one his team managed to bail him out and win 15-9 to leave him without a loss. I still can’t say that I’m in love with his stuff or that he’s a guy I like to watch pitch, but I really have no choice but to admit that this guy is an elite starter. Now if only the Yankees had another one to join him.

My draft thoughts as they occur:

1:02 p.m. – To the shock of no one (I hope), Jake Long was the first pick. New York fans stayed classy by booing him. Nice.

1:12 p.m. – Chris Long goes to St. Louis second. The draft definitely isn’t as interesting to watch when the picks are already known. I’m fairly confident that we know that Matt Ryan is going next, too, but we’ll see what happens.

Continue reading “As The NFL Draft Happens”

A few quick thoughts on draft-day-minus-one (incidentally, I will be live-blogging throughout the first round tomorrow):

  • I can’t decide if I was surprised to see Tyler Hansbrough stay in college for his senior season or not. On one hand, he was a guaranteed first rounder who would make a few million dollars over the next couple of years, and there is always the chance that he could be hurt or do something to fall out of favor. On the other hand, his game is clearly made more for college and he will be the runaway early favorite for Player of the Year next year, so the risk is going to be relatively low. Given that he decided to stay I was a bit surprised that Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington declared, though neither has an agent so anything could still happen. If I were betting I would say that Lawson will come back for another year because this is a guard-heavy draft and he isn’t going to be in the lottery. He easily could be with a strong year next year. If that happens then Ellington should return, too – he’s likely a second rounder as it is. And if all three guys come back then North Carolina will unfortunately be at least as good as this year. No matter what happens, Roy Williams is having a very good day.
  • The Raptors and the Wizards earned much needed bug wins in the NBA playoffs last night. Unless I am missing something that means that in seven of the series only one road team – Philadelphia in game one against Detroit – has won a game so far. If only handicapping were always that easy. The only exception is the Utah-Houston series. In that one the home team has yet to win through three games. Other than that series the home team is at 13-3 ATS.
  • Larry Brown has quit his gig with the 76ers to free himself up to take a coaching gig. In related news, Larry Brown really needs to go away.
  • Another interesting reminder of how tough it is to draft players on the eve of this year’s edition: Five years agao the Jets picked DT Dewayne Robertson from Kentucky fourth overall. He was seen as a beast, and was the first defensive player off the board – ahead of guys like Terence Newman, Kevin Williams, Terrell Suggs, and Troy Polamalu. He was healthy but unimpressive in his first few years, and unhealthy and equally unimpressive more recently. The Jets tried to trade him to Cincinnati in March, but it fell through. Now they have sent him to Denver for a conditional draft pick that will fall somewhere in the mid rounds depending on how much he plays. Robertson was supposed to be a can’t miss prospect, but he missed pretty badly. We’ll be able to tell the same story about several of the can’t miss blue-chippers this year. It’s just a matter of which ones. My first bet is Vernon Gholston. I was also thinking today of another Big Ten offensive tackle now that Jake Long is locked in on top this year. Robert Gallery was the second pick in 2004 out of Iowa. He went behind only Eli Manning, and he was as close to a sure thing as anyone. Gallery was only okay as a right tackle his first two seasons, terrible as a left tackle in season three, and was moved inside to guard last year where he was adequate but not much more.

The NFL Draft is just a couple of days away (50 hours and 42 minutes if anyone is counting), and like many of you I am in the violent final throes of draft fever. I’ve read (and written) so many mock drafts that I am almost blind, I’ve changed my mind on most players several times, and I have firmly embraced my biases (as a Michigan fan you can imagine how giddy I am right now – take that Suckeyes!). The only thing left for us degenerates to do is to figure out if we can make any money from this thing. Of course the sportsbooks are more than happy to help us out in that pursuit, offering us dozens of different props to throw our money at. Here are some of the most interesting:

Continue reading “Betting On The NFL Draft”

All sorts of interesting news that affects the sports betting world today:

  • The Vikings are taking a big risk with Jared Allen. He’s a very good player and he’s in his prime, but they gave up three picks for him including a first rounder this year and two thirds, and then they had to ante up with a big new contract for him. He had better be really productive for several years or this can be a setback in a big way. One thing that this does do, though, is it makes me reevaluate my expectations for the Vikings this year and adjust then upwards – they must be serious about competing now if this is the investment they are willing to make. You don’t spend this kind of money and assets unless you think it is one of the final pieces in the puzzle.
  • Apparently Memphis isn’t attractive without Derrick Rose. In a bizarre move, both Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier have declared for the NBA draft. That means that all five starters are now on the list. Obviously the most recent two don’t have agents yet because there is very little chance that either would get picked, and almost none that they would go in the first round and get a guaranteed contract. I never thought that they would look to go now that Calipari has a new contract and super stud Tyreke Evans is headed there next year. Maybe Calipari just suggested that they go through the draft process for the experience and whatever learning they can do. Whatever the reason, I just hope they don’t do something stupid because a senior year at Memphis would probably be a lot more fun than a year in the NBDL.
  • Pacman Jones is headed to Dallas. I would say that that is a much needed boost to Dallas’ secondary, but until he gets reinstated, shows that he can stay out of jail for at least a month, and is still in some kind of game shape I am going to assume he is irrelevant. I have no concerns about handling his attitude if everything else is okay – they have done fine with Owens.
  • The Reds made a great move. They fired the essentially useless GM Wayne Krivsky and replaced him with Walt Jocketty. Jocketty did great jobs in Oakland and St. Louis, and he should do a great job of turning around a team that has lots of nice young talent but seems to be lacking direction. If nothing else he should provide some stability – he is the fourth GM in six years, so so stability is definitely absent.
  • Detroit beat the 76ers easily tonight. The temporary period of panic can end and the sun will come up in Detroit tomorrow after a period of darkness.
  • Not that it is surprising because he has always seemed a bit unstable, but Tony Stewart appears to have officially lost his mind. Reports say that Stewart is negotiating to lose Joe Gibbs Racing after this season to go to Haas CNC. If you don’t spend much time following NASCAR it boils down to this – Gibbs is really quite good, and Haas really, really isn’t. Haas has never finished in the top 25 in owner points. The incentive is fairly obvious, though – Stewart is a star, and he will be able to negotiate partial ownership of his new team into the deal. That will allow him to cash in even more on his name and his brand than he does now. From a betting perspective it means that Stewart won’t be an automatic consideration next year like he is now because his car will be behind in development to start, and it will also unleash a chain reaction of driver moves that could further confuse the landscape. NASCAR is a bigger soap opera than the soap operas.

There is nothing that causes more confusion than flat betting. Lots of people say that they flat bet on baseball, yet there are all sorts of different ways that people bet while calling it flat betting. This was reinforced to me yet again the other day when someone sent me a link to a long forum discussion about different kinds of flat betting. Everyone had a different way that they flat bet, and as often happens in forums everyone was sure that they were right. It got me thinking because, well, I flat bet and I think I do it the best way. Or rather, there isn’t a best way – I just use the one that I think works best. I’ll let you decide for yourself, though – here’s a breakdown of four of the ways people flat bet:

Continue reading “Do You Flat Bet? Are You Sure?”

  1. The most ridiculous thing I have read in a long time – SI.com has an article in which Kobe Bryant tells the world that he has no desire the Lakers. What a moron. Sure, he’s the best player in basketball and all, but did he seriously need to say this. We got to spend months listen to him whine and call Mitch Kupchak an idiot and demand a trade and deny it and everything else that made him so ridiculous, but now that he is winning all is forgiven, he is happier than he has ever been, and Kupchak has gone from a F to an A-Plus in his book. It’s not a wonder that people are getting sick of athletes. I’d still bet on his team winning at least two playoff series. I just won’t be thrilled for him when he does.
  2. I’m sure he’s not that concerned about it, but I owe LeBron James an apology. I was pretty frank about my dislike of his team’s chances against the Wizards. I thought that Washington was rising while Cleveland was sputtering, and that James wasn’t man enough on his own to carry his team on to the next round. It’s too early to say for sure, but it seems pretty clear that I’m a moron. At least on this front. Maybe more.  James took over the game, his teammates elevated their games, and the Cavs cruised to the easiest possible 30 point win. James was just one board away from a triple double. The change by the Cavs is sudden and clear – they had covered just three times in their last 12 games, but they have covered easily in both playoff games – tonight they only had a 28.5 cushion over the spread. I can take some consolation at least in the fact that I’m not the only one that wasn’t buying in – after Cleveland won the first game by seven as four point favorites they were reduced to 1.5 point favorites in the second game.
  3. The Red Sox are as under the radar as they can be (which obviously isn’t very under the radar), so they are running away from their division, and the league at this point, with less fanfare than I might have expected. After all, the Yankees are still the team in the news every day. Make no mistake, though, Boston is running away. They have won nine of 10, they’ve beat the Yankees three of five times, and they have been nicely profitable both at home and on the road. The scary thing for everyone who isn’t Boston is that this thing is reasonably sustainable. Kevin Youkilis is overachieving at the plate, but not as badly as David Ortiz is underachieving, so there is still a net gain to be had there. Dustin Pedroia is advancing nicely, Jacoby Ellsbury looks comfortably on his way to being a star, and Sean Casey has found new life. THe pitching is fine and isn’t pitching out of it’s mind, so it can mostly keep it up, too. In other words, the Yankees and everyone else had better start working to catch up to Boston, because they aren’t likely to fall back to the group.

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