As the weekend ends, here are the sports betting tidbits that caught my eye:

  • What a strange story out of Toronto. Frank Thomas was off to a lousy start, but he led the team in home runs and RBIs last year, so it seems very bizarre that he got released. The story is that he and the team mutually decided that he would move on after he was told his playing time would be reduced. I’m not buying it. There has to be something more to it for it to have gone down this quickly. Regardless, someone will likely snap up Thomas pretty quickly – he’s old and on the decline, but he is still better than lots of guys on lots of rosters.
  • Roger Federer finally won a tournament. It took a shocking amount of time for him to get the first one for the year. It will be very interesting now to see when the next one comes – it will be a good indicator of whether his game is back in form, or if the year is destined to be a disappointment.
  • It was a little surprising that the 76ers beat Detroit. It’s even more surprising that they not only won, but were significantly the better team. Detroit’s next game will be crucial (there’s an understatement)
  • Danica Patrick finally won a race. Does that mean we don’t have to hear about her constantly anymore? Dare to dream.
  • If I had been pressed to pick a team to emerge from the NHL’s Western Conference playoffs I would have had to have had a good reason to pick against Anaheim. I can’t even begin to understand, then, how they managed to get tossed by Dallas in the first round, and how they looked so incredibly lousy in their last game. That’s a teamthat is going to go through a pile of changes in the offseason.
  • If the first playoff game is any indicator then the Pau Gasol trade could go down as perhaps the best in NBA history by the end of the playoffs.

Looking back on the first round of the NFL draft last year, there were really only a few players that were relevant from the start of the season. Adrian Peterson was a star from the first snap, contributing more than 100 yards in his debut. He revolutionized the Minnesota running game, and changed how you had to look at the team. Joe Thomas was incredibly reliable right from the start, and his play was a big contributing factor to the success of Derek Anderson and the Browns’ offense. Patrick Willis stepped right into the San Francisco defense and played like the Pro Bowler he became. The Niners were truly lousy, but Willis made them significantly better than they otherwise would have been. Marshawn Lynch caught Denver off guard in the first week of the season, and added more than a thousand yards on the year. Calvin Johnson had two of his four best games of the year right out of the gate, and immediately improved the Lions’ passing game. Others put together decent years and some nice stats, but those are basically the ones that handicappers needed to compensate for right from the start of the season.

Continue reading “Looking for Immediate Impact in the NFL Draft”

The NBA playoffs get going this weekend. The first round series range from the totally uninteresting – Boston and Atlanta – to the wildly unpredictable – New Orleans and Dallas or Phoenix and San Antonio. When it comes to early playoff action my interest in always in finding the potential upsets. I generally assume that the first round will go to seed form unless I can come up with a good reason for an upset. Here’s how I see the matchups breaking down in terms of the likelihood of an upset.

Continue reading “Looking For a First Round NBA Upset”

I know that I spend more time talking about the AL Central than anything else in baseball, but it is just so darned fascinating that you can’t look away – it’s like simultaneous car crashes. I was just about to sit down and right a comment of some sort about how the Tigers were finally showing some signs of life – they had won three straight after all, and their offense was hitting on all cylinders. I was also going to throw in a comment about how troubled Cleveland was – they were supposed to be neck and neck with Detroit, and they were, but it wasn’t supposed to be at 5-10. I had been busy all day, and I hadn’t checked out the scores all day, so I took a quick look before making my comments. So much for that article. After Detroit blew away the Indians 13-2 yesterday, they are now trailing Cleveland 11-1 in the 8th.

Continue reading “I Give Up – I Can’t Figure the AL Central Out”

  • I don’t know what is wrong with Barry Zito, but it is something big. The guy has a world of talent, but he just isn’t right. In fact, he’s a mess. He blew up again today at home against the Diamondbacks – three earned runs and one more unearned in six innings. Of most concern he walked five and only struck out two. You can blame some of his woes on the fact he plays for a lousy team, but by far the bigger issue is that he just isn’t very good. He’s a space cadet, so this can’t be good on his mind, and I can’t be confident in his ability to overcome the problem. Maybe it will turn around, but it is much harder to find a precedent for that than it is to find one for him being done for as an elite pitcher.
  • Memphis has lost a lot with the departure of Derrick Rose and probably Chris Douglas-Roberts and the graduation of Joey Dorsey. Things just got a whole lot easier for them today, though, with the signing of another one-and-done superstar. Tyreke Evans is a shooting guard out of Philadelphia who was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game this year. He is pretty much a perfect fit for Calipari’s system, and he will make it unpleasant to play in Conference USA for another year.
  • Alfonso Soriano is on the DL after straining his calf making a catch. That’s not good news for the Cubs – at least theoretically. Soriano has been brutal so far this year, but he is much better than he has been playing and should be due for an upward adjustment.
  • It is curious that Tiger hasn’t really used his knee injury as an excuse for his flat showing at the Masters. It was obviously serious if he went ahead and had the surgery so soon afterward, but I wonder how much of an impact it really had? He didn’t look like he had a bad knee, but he didn’t look right, either. We’ll have to wait for a month or more to get our first clue, I guess.
  • I was more than a little surprised that Keno Davis bolted Drake so soon to take over at Providence. That is a step forward, but he’s not stepping into a program in great shape, and he had a family link at Drake and a good deal of success in a short time. Maybe he just knew when to get out when he was ahead. It will be very interesting to watch to see whether he just caught lightning in a bottle, or if he is the real deal. If it is the latter then Providence will be back in the coaching market in just a couple of years.

I’m sitting here watching the Diamondbacks pound the life out of the Giants. That’s not much of an accomplishment, of course – I could take all the guys that live on my block and probably play the Giants tight. What is pretty clear, though, is that the D-Backs are a pretty fine team. I’m not exactly going out on a limb to say that – the win they are pretty much guaranteed to get this afternoon will move them to 10-4, which is the best record in the league (tied with the surprising Cardinals if they beat Milwaukee tonight). Unlike some of the teams that have jumped out to fast starts (that means you, Baltimore), Arizona has the look of a team that will be there until the end. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise – they are the third choice in the National League behind the Cubs and the Mets to win the World Series in the futures market.

Continue reading “The Arizona Diamondbacks – a Good Ole Reliable Team in the Desert”

  • Carmelo Anthony is a moron. He had his worst game of the year on Sunday – 11 points on 3-for-14 shooting. He chose the best and most logical way to get over the embarrassment of the situation – he went out and got hammered and drove home. He obviously got busted, and now he will have a May 14 court date hanging over him if and when his team secures their playoff spot. The Nuggets were a team that could have done some damage in the playoffs, but this kind of distraction is pretty much the worst thing possible for them. It will be very interesting to watch how they react going forward. I can’t decide if it is a good or a bad thing that they don’t play until Wednesday, and then will have days off until the playoffs start.
  • It’s far to early to say for sure, but maybe, just maybe, the Tigers have remembered how to hit. They exploded for 11 runs tonight, including innings of four and six runs. That’s the best offense output of the season, and it came from the right place – huge games from Ordonez, Cabrera and Guillen in the middle of the lineup. It’s just one game, but at least it’s a start. The downside is that they allowed nine runs, so the defense was terrible, but they can only really do one thing at a time until they get the ship righted.
  • The Ottawa Senators are truly terrible. They have lost three straight games to the Penguins in their playoff series, and they have not given us a single reason to think that they are going to win one before it is over. It is almost incomprehensible that a team could be the best team in the league for the first month of the season and have more talent than the all-star team has had some years, yet they barely made the playoffs and would have been better off if they hadn’t.

Things catching my eye today:

  •  I know I have been writing about my hometown a lot recently, but, well, I can, so you’ll just have to deal with it. I was as shocked by the Calgary Flames as I have ever been in a lifetime (most of it, anyway) of watching them. They fell down 3-0 in the first three and a half minutes against San Jose on Sunday night. Normally, the team would just quit when that happens. They didn’t. They tightened up, fought back, and won it 4-3 with a late goal. I never would have said this a week ago, but the Flames are worth a serious betting look. That kind of heart can be deadly in the playoffs.
  • The Spurs got smoked by the Lakers this afternoon. They have also been beaten badly by the Suns and the Jazz in the last ten days. Not that it makes me sad in any way, but this does not look like a strong, confident team going into the playoffs.
  • Jimmie Johnson won at Phoenix. It was the first win for Hendricks this year after they won 18 last year. I expect this to open the floodgates for wins for the team. They clearly have caught up in testing, and they are not the kind of team that will tolerate losing.
  • Congrats to Trevor Immelman, but is it just me or was this a pretty flat Masters? It didn’t seem to have a lot of spark or interest, and it is telling that Tiger can play as badly as we have seen him play in a long while and still end up in second. With all due respect to Immelman, if a guy like him can win it wire-to-wire then it isn’t as good as it can be.
  • Michael Beasley is announcing his decision on his future tomorrow. If he stays in school I will chop of my right foot and eat it raw.
  • David Ortiz was benched on Sunday after starting the season 3-for-43. Ouch. Big Papi can’t be a very happy guy right now, and he is kinda scary when he is happy, so he would be terrifying when he is mad.
  • The game that Ortiz missed was not a pitcher’s duel. Dice-K looked pretty rough, allowing four earned runs in five innings. He was the reincarnation of Cy Young compared to the Yanks’ Phil Hughes. The young prodigy got dinged for seven runs in two innings. If both of those teams lost every night I would be a happy guy.

When the Mets acquired Johan Santana from the Twins in exchange for mostly underwhelming talent it was seen as a steal – a major coup. The conventional wisdom was that he was the most dominant pitcher in the American League, so he would dominate in the weaker National League. He’s only three games into his new career, so it is far too soon to draw any conclusions yet, but if he plans to be dominant then he is easing into it. He’s just 1-2 after a loss on Saturday against Milwaukee, and as such he has burnt a fair bit of bettor money up so far. That’s not going according to plan, but is it time to panic yet? Of course not. Here are six reasons why:

Continue reading “Johan Santana Loses Again. Should We Worry?”

The sports info that has caught my eye today:

  • The Calgary Flames, my home town team (unfortunately), managed to do something last night in the second game of their playoff series against San Jose that I didn’t think was possible – they got outshot 27-3 in the second period. I am a bit surprised that either 27 shots in a period or three is possible. Disgusting. They have allowed more than 80 shots in the first two games. Not going to win a lot of games that way.
  • It will be very interesting to see what Tiger Woods does this weekend. 14 holes into his second round he is still at par. That’s eight strokes off the lead. He’s not out of it by any means, but he certainly needs to start looking far less mortal pretty soon. Since we are talking about my hometown today, Calgary resident Stephen Ames is sitting in sixth and playing very well.
  • The Orioles blew both ends of a doubleheader last night. I hope they enjoyed their time at the top, because the fall is going to be swift and painful.
  • I was happy to see the Nuggets beat the Warriors yesterday to take the lead in the race for the playoffs. It’s not just that I like the Nuggets better – they should be more interesting to watch, and bet on, in the playoffs, too.
  • Felix Hernandez goes tonight for the Mariners. He gets my vote as the unluckiest pitcher in the league so far this year – he has been brilliant and has nothing to show for it. He has allowed no earned runs over 15 innings in two starts, but run support and relief have been non-existent. He’s at home against the Angels tonight.
  • New Orleans and the Lakers play tonight in a game that could decide the MVP. As much as I like Chris Paul, I think he would have to have a truly massive game, because I don’t see how voters won’t give it to Kobe otherwise – it is almost impossible to believe he has never won one, and this is the chance to fix that. Paul will have lots more opportunities.Unless the Hornets crush the Lakers and shut down Kobe.

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