27 June 2013

The Ohio State and Louisville Investment Plan

By Buffalo66
Buffalo, NY

It's never too early to start talking college football, right?

As I was planning my upcoming trip to Vegas, my friends in Buffalo were pestering me about placing some college football future bets for them.  And they know how much I hate futures.  My philosophy is this:  Make your money work for you today instead of putting it on the sideline for the whole season.  (This is why I don't play season long fantasy games anymore.  I digress.)

If you're going to bet a team to win a BCS championship, they will likely go undefeated.  And if they will go undefeated, you will make MUCH more betting them every week and rolling it over.  So I made my friends a deal.  If they would put up $50 each, I would match their total and we would let our pool ride every week on the upcoming season. I was surprised how quickly they all said yes!

Now who do we bet on?  From my point of view there are three teams with a legitimate shot to go 12-0 (before championship games and bowls):  Ohio State, Lousiville and Alabama.  While the Crimson Tide are defending champs, their schedule is by far the toughest, so I'm going to stay away from them.

Ohio State is coming off an undefeated season where they were not bowl eligible.  They have one of the best coaches in Urban Meyer.  And they return QB Braxton Miller, who finished 5th in the Heisman voting.



Right now he is fighting to keep his starting gig, so you know the Buckeyes are deep.  Best of all, they have a pretty weak schedule this year:
08/31/13 vs. Buffalo
09/07/13 vs. San Diego State
09/14/13 at California
09/21/13 vs. Florida A&M
09/28/13 vs. Wisconsin *
10/05/13 at Northwestern *
10/19/13 vs. Iowa *
10/26/13 vs. Penn State *
11/02/13 at Purdue *
11/16/13 at Illinois *
11/23/13 vs. Indiana *
11/30/13 at Michigan *

No Michigan State or Nebraska on the schedule.  Cal could be a trap game as Sonny Dykes brings his no huddle offense from Louisiana Tech.  But the only true worry spot should be Michigan on Thanksgiving weekend.

Louisville is licking their chops entering the final season of play in the pitiful Big East conference.  They also have a leading Heisman candidate in QB Teddy Bridgewater.


This is a team that should score points whenever they need them.  Their schedule is quite soft:
09/01/13 vs. Ohio
09/07/13 vs. Eastern Kentucky
09/14/13 at Kentucky
09/21/13 vs. FIU
10/05/13 at Temple #
10/10/13 vs. Rutgers #
10/18/13 vs. UCF #
10/26/13 at USF #
11/08/13 at Connecticut #
11/16/13 vs. Houston #
11/23/13 vs. Memphis #
12/05/13 at Cincinnati #
This schedule looks more like the old Metro Conference from the 1980's.  I only see Rutgers and Cincy on the road as difficult opponents.

So what is the wagering plan?  There are three methods depending on your level of risk tolerance:
Conservative plan:  Bet Buckeyes ML OR Cards ML each week, based on which game gives you better odds.

Moderate plan:  Parlay Buckeyes ML / Cards ML each week.  Throw in Alabama ML if one of the teams is off that week.

Risky plan:  Teaser parlay Buckeyes spread / Cards spread each week.  Teams that go 12-0 almost never cover 12-0, but 6.5 points off the spread could help.
I imagine that once we start rolling our funds over a few times our risk tolerance will drop dramatically.  In fact, the last game of the season for both teams might make me stop outright after 11-0.

Time will tell if the investment plan is folly or fortune.

23 June 2013

Bronx Bums: 6/23 Report - Splits Against the Dodgers and Tampa; Streaking Blue Jays Win 11 Straight

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Things looking dark for the Yankees if they continue to not drive in runs...

The Yankees (41-34) completed a break-even week (3-3) against the L.A. Dodgers and Tampa Rays. The Yanks are holding steady in third place, but are within 2.5 games of the front-running Red Sox. The Yanks better get their shit together. Fast. The Toronto Blue Jays are in the middle of a torrid 11-game winning streak and escaped from the AL cellar. Meanwhile, the Yanks are a couple of losses away from rocking the basement. Only five games separate the best/worst in the AL East, which looks like the toughest and tightest division in the majors.

The Yanks were happy to return to the Bronx and host a brief two-game series against the L.A. Dodgers. Alas, the first game was rained out and they were forced to play a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday. I was shocked to find out that was the Dodgers first trip to the Bronx since the 1981 World Series. Plus Don Mattingly returned, albeit as the manager of the Dodgers. I'm hoping Donnie Baseball get the nod as the next skipper (and a shot at a title) when Girardi burns out or gets run out of town.

The Yanks beat the Dodgers in the opening game of the doubleheader 6-4 and continued to remain undefeated (23-0) when they score 5 or more runs. Yet, their offensive woes killed them once again and they dropped the second game 6-0. Yeah, another ugly shutout.

In their last 7 losses, the Yanks have only scored 12 runs. In the last 15 losses (spread out over four weeks), the Yanks only scored 25 runs. That's an average of only 1.6 runs during those dry outings.

The Yanks split a doubleheader against one of the worst teams in the NL West, and then split a four-game series against Tampa. The Yanks dropped the opening game 8-3 when Andy Pettitte got rocked and looked washed up. The Yanks bounced back and won the next two game when they exploded for 6 and 7 runs. CC got his 8th win and Mo notched his 26 save. He's still on pace for 54!

Sunday was the fan favorite Old Timers Day but even the ghosts of Yankees past could not secure the Yanks a win. Ivan Nova pitched great, but the bullpen blew a 1-1 tie late in the game. The Yanks lost a heartbreaker 3-1 in a game they should have won... if they got any run support. Same old story.

The Yanks better figure out how to manufacture runs fast, otherwise, Cashman better get on the phone and start wheeling and dealing for a big bat.

The Yanks got more bad news this past week about injuries. Another bad beat for a team decimated with injuries team. Youk is having back surgery and probably dunzo for the season. Tex is out indefinitely and they say he'll be back at some point, but he's probably dunzo for the season. Granderson is still out with a broken hand but expected to return. Jeter has been rehabbing and his return is imminent. Which is vital because the Yanks have a bunch of AA bushers out there. And who cares about A-Roid? Fuck that clown.

If the Yanks can start hitting and manufacturing runs, then they can get back into serious contention for the AL East crown, which is a wide open race now that Toronto finally woke up. If the Yanks do not start hitting, they're doomed. It's gonna be a long summer of soul crushing 2-1 and 3-2 ballgames when they get spectacular outings from their starters but the offense can't get it up.

The Yanks had a chance to make up some ground on the division leaders (Baltimore and Boston both struggled over the weekend )... yet they blew that opportunity on Sunday with a loss to Tampa. The Yanks finished the week with a 3-3 record, which is disappointing against a pair of last place teams.

Toronto is surging and the hottest team in baseball. The Yanks better watch their backs because here come the Bluejays. The Jays went from 70-1 to 7-1 favorite to win the World Series inside of a week. Mucho respect from the bookies.

On Deck: The Yanks have a brutal week ahead of them. They have Monday off before Texas (44-32) comes to town for a three-game set to end their current homestand. After they take on the best team in the AL West, They head down to Maryland over the weekend and tackle division foe Baltimore (42-34) in a three-game series. This week is a huge test against two top teams. Can the Yankees pass?

22 June 2013

Tapping A Beer: Facing the Truth

By StB
Milwaukee, WI


Okay. Let's put it out there. I thought my fellow Ocelot posters were nuts when they said the Brewers were a subpar team.

I thought there was no way they would finish below .500 this year. The lineup was still strong. Pitching was a concern but they had some offense.

So far, it looks like I was wrong. It hit home last week when they lost a series against Houston. No one loses a series to Houston. Worst part, the 'Stros took it to them. Ouch.

Sigh.

I feel like making excuses. They lost a reliable pitcher in Marco Estrada. All-Star Ryan Braun has a thumb injury (Yes, thumb injury you haters! There is no real proof he juiced up a bit. Yet. Sigh). Corey Hart's injury has been longer to return from.

And now a surprisingly surging Carlos Gomez hurts himself as they Brew Crew actually had a chance to sweep the East leading Atlanta Braves.  Fuck me!

It's like this time they cannot catch a break. They had been playing well in Braun's absence until the starting rotation shat the bed. The bullpen is doing their job--shaky, but doing the job.

Makes me think of the comments at the bar on Friday night. I was watching the game, cheering the team on, when a friend asked why I was bothering. She said they sucked. I told her I wanted to believe. I love watching baseball and I refused to give up.

I guess that is why I am still a Brewers fan.

19 June 2013

NBA Finals: Heat Do the Zag and Force Game 7

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


I have more faith in the zig zag theory than most hokey superstitions.

A couple of weeks ago I charted out a potential path to victory for the San Antonio Spurs that followed the zig zag. Based on the overwhelming fact that the Heat never lose two games in a row, the Spurs would have to alternate wins starting with Game 1 and win all the odd-numbered games... Game 3, Game 5, and Game 7.

Thus far, the NBA Finals has been following that exact path.

When Game 5 ended in San Antonio with a Spurs victory, everyone (fans, sportswriters, bookies, and wiseguys) assumed the Heat would win Game 6 in Miami, which would set up a coinflip for Game 7. The Heat never lost two in a row.  Bettors exploited that stat for ginormous paydays in the playoffs. Everyone and their mother was betting the Heat in Game 6.

It was time for the Zag.

On Tuesday morning, the NBA announced on the zebra assignments. Joey Crawford's crew got the nod. Who didn't see that coming?

If you believe in NBA conspiracy theories, then the Junta comprised of David Stern and Walt Disney's unfrozen head dispatched their henchman Joey Crawford to ensure a Miami Heat victory in Game 6, thereby forcing a seventh game. Big ratings for NBA. Mega advertising revenue. The media continues the hype cycle for 2 more days. A Game 7 is essentially printing more money. Everyone wins.

If anyone had any doubt about the Heat winning Game 6, the appointing of Joey Crawford put them to rest.

Even renown bookmaker Chris Andrews tweet'd: "Joey Crawford reffing the Spurs-Heat game 6 tonight. I guess we'll have a game 7."

I've written extensively about Joey Crawford in the past (e.g. The Unbearable Likeness of Joey Crawford). Joey Crawford is a hot head. Everyone knows that. He's broken fingers giving Ts after losing his mind. He loves confrontations. He's the type of dickhead who takes up extra space in the overhead compartment. He strikes me as the type of guy who stiffs cabbies and leaves a 10% tip at restaurants. He ritually sacrifices kittens for the Illuminati, and on his off days he flies phantom cargo planes that spray Chemtrails on the populous.

Joey Crawford is a "Yes Man" and a loyal henchman. That's why he appears in must-win games that are beneficial for the business interests of the NBA Junta. Like the Umbrella Man standing in front of the Grassy Knoll on the day JFK was whacked, Joey Crawford's absurd appearance seems like too much of a coincidence.

Tim Duncan is not one of those paranoid pro athletes who thinks The Man is out to get him, which is surprising that he made public statements about Joey Crawford's well-known vendetta against him. Crawford got suspended for threatening to fight Duncan, but Grantland deconstructed the accusations that Crawford tries to fix Spurs' games. According to the numbers, there's no statistical evidence that suggests the Spurs lose more often when Crawford is reffing.

Okay, so Crawford is not out to cook Duncan's goose, but he has an obvious bias toward Miami -- the Heat won seven out of the last 8 games he reffed.

Game 6 did not start out with the same uptempo pace of Game 5, but it looked like it would be in the 90s. Spurs got ahead in the 1Q, but the Heat pulled away in 2Q. The Spurs stayed close behind Duncan's offensive outburst. Duncan dropped many points as possible in the first half just in case Crawford rang him up with a bogus tech, or if he got into foul trouble. Duncan erupted for 25 first-half-points (setting a personal NBA Finals Record). The bookies set prop bets for Duncan's point total in Game 6 at 18 total points. Duncan crushed the over mid-way through the 2Q.

The Heat went butt cold and failed to score in the last 4:20 in the half. Spurs regained lead and went on a 11-0 tear to close out the half. Heat couldn't do anything on offense and the Spurs extended their edge to a 6-point halftime.

Miami dominated early in the 3Q and pulled within 1 point, but that was the closest they'd get before the Spurs rattled off a 11-0 run and took a commanding 12-point lead.

Miami came out firing in the 4Q and quickly chipped away at the lead. They pulled within 2 possessions after Miller drilled a trey while missing one sneaker.


The Heat's D shut down Danny Green. Even the rare times he got off shots, he was way off. LBJ woke up from a slumber. The Heat stormed back and seized the lead with 6 minutes to go. Brand new ball game.

Tony Parker hit a couple of big shots in crunch time. Meanwhile, Lebron made a few bad plays and made me wonder if he's shaving points. But then again, Lebron hit a big trey with 20 seconds to go.

Up two, Kawhi Leonard missed a crucial free throw, which was the Spurs best chance to clinch a win in regulation.

Down by three, on the final possession, Lebron bricked another jumper with seven seconds to go, but Bosh snagged the rebound and kicked it over to Ray Allen, who drilled a corner trey to tie the game with 0:05 to go. Tony Parker got mauled on a thwarted last second shot and Game 6 went into OT.

Joe Crawford wasn't really much of a factor this game, but he made a couple of close calls in OT that went the Heat's way. I was more surprised at how bad Lebron looked at times. He got off to a smoking hot 4Q, but then choked down the stretch in crucial situations.

The Spurs went cold in the second half of OT. Leonard scored their only two buckets. Down by 1, Ginobli got hacked. Zebras went blind and swallowed their whistles. Allen got fouled and hit both to put the Heat up by three. Green whiffed on a chance to send the game into double OT. Heat held on to win 103-100 (but failed to cover). Say hello to Game 7.

The Heat avoided an elimination. The zig zag theory held true. If it continues, the Spurs should win Game 7. But, can they win an elimination game in Miami? Or will the Heat shake free of the zig zag and win back-to-back eliminations games and continue their reign as NBA Champions?

Gonna be a crazy Thursday night in Miami. Bookies opened the line at Miami -6.


Pauly is the author of Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

18 June 2013

A's Weekly Digest: The Literal and Figurative Shit Storm

By Joe Speaker
Los Angeles, CA

After beating the shit out of the Mariners at home last Sunday, the A's retired to their locker room for a long, soothing shower before boarding a plane to Texas for a four game series against the Rangers. They had hardly begun to lather, however, when the plumbing at aging O.Co Coliseum balked at the repeated flushes of 37,000 beer-addled fans and spewed shit up from the drains, causing both A's and M's to flee screaming into the "safe" confines of the Raiders locker room to finish giving their undercarriages a bit of the 'how's your father.'

This is big news to some, but A's employees basically shrugged their shoulders. While rivers of sewage is not the norm, the decrepit Coliseum has battled plumbing issues for years. "Today this is national news, but it happens here all the time," said A's GM Billy Beane.

So there's one to add to the list. The Coliseum is:

1. The only facility in the country that houses both professional baseball and football teams
2. Forty-seven years old, third-oldest stadium in baseball behind Fenway and Wrigley
3.  Located in an industrial part of Oakland without any amenities (nightclubs restaurants) nearby
4. The site of many a stolen car sterero
5. The first place I smelled marijuana

And now, a facility that is always one flush away from becoming a Haz Mat site.

The A's, of course, have long coveted a new stadium. The idea, however, has been stuck in a Bud Selig-induced form of limbo for quite some time now. The Commish's vaunted Blue Ribbon Committee, which is (allegedly) studying ways for the A's to move or get a new park, has been in a state of suspended constipation for more than four years. Four years! In the last four years, I've acquired a wife, a kid, a dog and a cat. I had to find a new place to live in a different city. And I paid for it myself! It wasn't that hard! Yet, this panel somehow can't figure out the dollar amount A's owners John Fisher and Lew Wolff will hand over the the Robber Barons..er...Giants so they can commence building a feces-free stadium in San Jose.

In the 48 hours since this incident, some San Jose politicos have decided they're not going to take Selig's shit any longer. The city filed an antitrust lawsuit against MLB today. While this angle of attack has obviously been in the works for a while, perhaps the city is banking on riding a brown wave of support due to the Coliseum overflowing its banks. The suit accuses MLB of unlawful and "blatant conspiracy" to control the movement of the A's. The odds of the suit succeeding (ie ending baseball's long-treasured antitrust exemption) are zero, but that's probably not the goal here. The suit will look to shine a harsher light on MLB's foot-dragging on the issue and force Selig's hand. If there's one thing Selig hates more than a modern haircut, it's bad publicity. San Jose wants to force an expedited decision, one way or another.



Hopefully, before the bowels of the Coliseum overflow with crap again.


16 June 2013

Bronx Bums: 6/16 Report - Bad Trip on the West Coast and Swept By the A's

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The Yanks got knocked down in California

Twenty years ago, if a Yankees skipper lost five games in a row, he'd be on the hot seat and prepared to get whacked because the ornery Boss would rather fire him on the spot than suffer the humiliation of a week-long losing streak

The Boss has been dead for sometime, and his kinder and gentler offspring do not run the Yankees organization like a hotheaded tyrant.That meant Joe Girardi, ensconced in a five-game losing streak, did not have to win Sunday's game against the Angels to save his job.

The Yankees had hit the skids in California after losing five straight. They saved face to win the last game of a grueling 10-game roadtrip and finished 4-6 on this run. They luckily did not lose too much ground on the first place Red Sox (40-29). The Yanks trail by three games but the way they played this week, they're fortunate to still be in the chase pack.

The Yankees (38-31) kicked off the West Coast swing with a dominating series in Seattle. They won three out of four games including a close shave against King Felix. The Yanks arrived in Oakland on an upswing, but were brutally swept by the A's, capped off by a nasty loss in an 18-inning marathon game to close out the series. The Yanks limped into SoCal hoping to bounce back against a struggling Angels squad. Alas, the Yanks out-stunk the Angels when they failed to hit once again. They dropped the first two games and pushed their losing mark to five games. CC stopped the bleeding on Father's Day and the Yanks departed California with just one win in the last week.

The Yanks faced a big test playing Oakland in Oakland. JoeSpeaker reminded me that the A's had the best record in baseball over the last 162 games, while the Yanks were surprisingly second.

The Yanks were down 6-1 in game one, but a late rally came up short and they lost 6-4. That's the most runs in a game they'd score all series. They barely put up a fight in the second game and lost 5-2.

The last game in Oakland was a "getaway" day game that went 18 innings. Kuroda pitched well enough to win (2 hits over 8 innings and only 2 ERs), yet the offense floundered once again. The game went into extra innings and the bats continued to stay silent (Tex, Youk, Bubba Wells, and Haffner went hitless in 28 at bats and they combined for 12 strikeouts). Long-man Adam Warren stepped up and he tossed six immaculate innings in relief, scattering four hits. Warren threw a season-high 85 pitches and eventually ran out of the gas. Girardi had a tough choice at the bottom of the 18th inning. He was down to three relievers: Mo Rivera, Preston Caliborne, and Joba Chamberlin. Girardi (and all of Yankees nation) lost faith in Joba, who has been in the doghouse ever since his spat with Mo Rivera in KC last month. Girardi opted for Claiborne, who got into a quick jam. Girardi had no choice but to call on Mo to put out the fire. Alas, Mo did not pitch well and the A's won the game in the bottom of the 18th. Heartbreaker. That 3-2 loss was the longest Yanks game in a decade. The Yanks had a chance to save face and leave Oakland on a high note, but they got swept.

The Yanks headed down the coast to take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Two more ugly games. The bats went silent again. Then again if you looked at the lineup Girardi put out there, almost half the team started the season in the minors. Seriously, who the hell is Thomas Neal? Or Reid Brignac?

On Sunday, the dormant offense finally woke up against Weaver, who pitched a rare bad outing against the Yanks. Haffner connected on breaking ball that didn't break. If this game was at Yankee Stadium, that shot is probably an warning track out in left-center Death Valley. Alas, in Anaheim... it's a 3-run home run. That blast put the Yanks ahead. They were up 6-0 in the ninth, but CC/Roberston/Mo almost blew it. They avoid disaster and held on to a 6-5 win. Another close call.

The Yanks looked good at the start of the road trip but their lack of power hitting continues to be a huge issue. They only scored 30 runs on the road trip Easy math... the Yanks averaged 3 runs a game, but they gave up 3.7 runs a game. They Yanks pitching staff has been above average all season, but their offense woes seem to be getting worse and worse. Cano hasn't been driving in runs. Bubba Wells is ice cold. Youk had a bad back. Tex had not contributed anything at the plate since his return from the DL, and he left Saturday's game with a wrist injury.

On Deck: The Yanks have Monday off before action resumes in the Bronx for a 9-game homestand. They open up with a 2-game series against the last-place L.A. Dodgers (this is their first trip to the Stadium since interleague began). Then over the weekend, they host a four-game series against Tampa (36-33).

This week's pitching match-up...
vs. L.A. Dodgers
6/18 Ryu vs. Hughes
6/19 Capuano vs Kuroda

vs. Tampa Bay
6/20 Moore vs Pettitte
6/21 ???? vs Phelps
6/22 Hernandez vs CC
6/23 Archer vs Hughes

Pauly is the author of Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

14 June 2013

MMA: UFC 161 Preview

By StB
Milwaukee, WI

UFC 161 comes from Manitoba, Canada this Saturday, eh?

The card is interesting. Intriguing maybe. Just not really exciting.

The Main Event is Rashard Evans taking on Dan Henderson. Both fighters had their last match in February. Rashard lost to a Nog (I think it was the Big), while Henderson lost a split decision to Lyoto Machida. Now, the two battle to see who still matters in the light heavyweight division.

Hendo has been around forever. Back in 1997, he made his UFC debut at UFC 17. Since then, he has fought for Pride and Strikeforce. It seems weird to see him back in the Octagon. He went to Strikeforce after he couldn’t get the money he wanted from the UFC. But, mergers do strange things and Hendo steps back in the Octagon once again.

Evans is a UFC veteran whose career started on the Ultimate Fighter. This will be his 15th fight in the UFC. He has beaten some of the best to enter the cage with victories over Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, and Rampage Jackson.

Can Evans be a giant killer again and add Henderson to this list of the great fighters he defeated?

Also on the main card is Roy Nelson taking on Stipe Miocic. Nelson is UFC President Dana White’s whipping boy. Every time Nelson wins, it seems to piss off White. Nelson is not your prototypical fighter.

Look at that doughboy.


He tends to land heavy shots and then lay on you when you are on the mat. Most fighters can’t get from underneath him when it happens, so it can be a long boring fight unless Nelson is able to pound them out.

His opponent Miocic looks like another fighter from Russia. Though he idolizes Mirco Cro Cop, he is actually from Ohio. Coming off a loss to Stefan Struve, he needs a win to keep his UFC career alive. Lose and he’ll likely be relegated to Facebook or Fuel TV fights until his contract runs out. Win and who knows? Dana may be so happy he’ll give him a title shot.

Another heavyweight battle has Pat Barry taking on Shawn Jordan. Barry is an emotional fighter who has dedicated his life to MMA. Jordan is a hard hitter. This is the proverbial "I’ll be surprised if this fight goes the distance" fight.

Sam Stout and Jake Shields are on the undercard. They seem to have fallen far.

Hopefully, there'll be some big surprises out of UFC 161. With a boring UFC on Fuel TV this past Saturday, they need some exciting to come out of Canada.

12 June 2013

Stanley Cup Final Preview: Blackhawks v. Bruins

By Joe Speaker
Los Angeles, CA

The boss asked me to provide some hockey predictions so here goes:

With just under $12 million in cap space for next season, the Kings won't re-sign unrestricted free agents Rob Scuderi or Dustin Penner. They will need to hold onto Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin, both RFAs, and probably one of Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford. Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier will probably be traded for help on the left wing and...

What? The Stanley Cup Who? You want me to talk about hockey teams other than the Kings? Get my lawyer on the phone.

Fine. Stanley Cup Finals! Chicago! Boston! Blackhawks! Bruins! Hockey! NHL! Original Six! Best trophy in Sports! (I had to do all that for SEO reasons.)



I like to poke fun at my West Coast hockey bias, but I should point out that I did have the 'Hawks inthe Final, beating my beloved Kings, so I am nothing if not freaking awesome at the prediction game. Yes, I had the Rangers coming out of the East, which, don't laugh, might have totally happened had the Maple Leafs managed to hold a three-goal third period lead or if John Tortorella had a Magic Baby. Alas, he does not and they did not and that tiny butterfly flap affected the whole hockey universe, primarily by loosening the choke chain around the neck of the Bruins and turning them into a 20-man Wrecking Crew for the better part of a month.

The Blackhawks also started rather slowly, with an unimpressive first round win over an extremely unimpressive Minnesota club and then sleep-walking/crying like babies through the first four against a fired-up Red Wings team. They flipped the switch in time to storm back to win threee straight and carried that momentum into the Conference Final where they out-classed the Kings in five.

/pours one out for my homies

So what to make of the two finalists? It's difficult to handicap the match-up due to the simple fact the Eastern and Western conferences didn't play each other in this lockout-shortened year. My ability to compare and contrast is seriously compromised. How can I predict anything without seeing how both did against Winnipeg!?!?!

Both teams were in Juggernaut Mode in their respective conference finals, but I also have this nagging suspicion they didn't face the best the Kings and Pens had to offer. Are these teams who they appear to be now? Or the ones that nearly tripped into the off-season just a few short weeks ago?

*

The case for Chicago starts with their speed. These guys go from zero to 60 quicker than Patrick Kane accepts your invitation to buy him a shot. Along with that speed comes a fair bit of skill combined with self-confidence that manifests itself prominently in their breakouts. The Kings vaunted forecheck could never get going because the Blackhawks got to the puck first and then deftly moved it right out of their own zone. The ability to counter a "heavier" game, one played by both the Kings and Bruins should contribute to the 'Hawks having more possession.

Chicago also blocks a metric shit-ton of shots. If I took a shot for every shot they blocked against the Kings, I'd be in intensive care somewhere trying to stop my wife from divorcing me. The Kings weren't able to get a great deal of traffic in front of Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, but, even when they did, the puck rarely got to the front of the net. The Bruins' ability to get traffic is one of their best assets, so Chicago will need to continue sacrificing their bodies.

Seabrook and Keith: Seven-Deuce Suited
On the offensive end, Kane decided to show up for the Conference Final after being MIA earlier in the post-season. His hat-trick in Game 5 was an exclamation point and you know what they say about scorers and what happens when they are playing with confidence (they score; duh). Brian Bickell has also filled the net, using his big body to create space and jam in pucks. What a battle we're going to see with him and Bruins defensman Zdeno Chara jousting in front of the crease. Is there somewhere in Vegas we can wager on the pints of blood spilled?

*

On the Boston side of the ledger, they've simply dismantled their last two opponents. They've gotten healthy on defense and holding the Penguins to two goals in four games is just silly. Chara and Dennis Seidenberg form a formidable pair and rookie Torey Krug has been a revelation. Not to mention Johnny Boychuck has like 100 goals in the playoffs (fact check: 5). In fact, Bruins defensemen have accounted for 15 goals this post-season, nearly one per game.

The Bs are playing at a high level, rolling four effective lines, spreading the scoring around and generally making things easy for Tukka Rask. While their forwards might not be equal to Chicago's on talent alone, they certainly compare as far as results. David Krejci (21 playoff points) has been unstoppable and linemates Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic provide some physicality and sandpaper.


Patrice Bergeron will have the task of shadowing Jonathan Toews and will be looking to get into the Blackhawks captain's head, much like Henrik Zetterberg did for the Red Wings in their conference semifinal. Toews seems a little off and you know Bergeron will use his...er....personality...to try to frustrate him. And then when Bergeron gets tired or gets whacked in the face with a stick by Duncan Keith, Brad Marchand can take over the job of annoying the shit out of Toews.


In goal, I think Rask gets a slight nod over Crawford, who was solid against the Kings, but wasn't called on too often to make a huge save, as the defending champs a) didn't shoot much and b) kept hitting him right in the sternum. Rask, on the other hand, is toting that gaudy .985 save pct. against Pittsburgh around with him. He should be at the top of his game.


I picked Chicago to win it all prior to the playoffs and I'm going to stick with that, even though I had them beating the Rangers, who don't even have a coach any longer, so that was a dumb pick. I don't see much to separate the two teams, so home ice will have to be the difference as the Blackhawks have only lost once at home so far. Should be a fantastic series with both teams playing at an optimal level.

Chicago in 7.



11 June 2013

Bitcoin Betting Boom

By Buffalo66
Buffalo, NY

If you're an avid reader of this blog you probably are also familiar with Bitcoins.  They are a virtual, decentralized crypto-currency that can be used for online commerce.  And in my opinion, they're making sports betting incredibly accessible and user friendly for the first time in a decade.


How are Bitcoins (BTC) any different than Neteller, Paypal or Western Union?  First off, BTC transactions are irreversible.  There can be no charge backs or disputes.  Once the BTC hit your wallet, they're yours to keep.

Bitcoins can also be anonymous.  Even though all BTC transactions are recorded in the blockchain system, you can use a unique BTC wallet address every time to send or receive a payment.  This is actually a great development for sports bettors because using multiple addresses can get you around being limited if you want to bet big.

Sending payments are efficient and economical.  When you initiate a BTC transaction, there is a possibility of a transaction fee (sometimes there is no fee at all).  The maximum fee is .001 BTC or about 10 cents, based on today's exchange rate.  This is a big issue to money transmitters like WU and MG, because with BTC you can transfer money anywhere in the world in an hour, practically for free.

Bitcoins are decentralized.  The network is an open source software being run on millions of computers worldwide.  This means the only way a government (or other entity) can shut down the system is to take the whole internet offline.  And that is very difficult to achieve.

One of the downsides to BTC is its price volatility.  Because there are still relatively few places to exchange fiat currency for BTC, the prices can swing wildly.  Just this year the price has been as low as $14 USD and ran all the way up to $266.  It been much steadier lately, mostly staying in a range of $110-$125.

Sports bettors are risk takers by nature.  Online poker players are also aware of trying new (and sometimes untested) payment systems.  I think it's just much easier for gamblers to dip their toe in the pool when it comes to BTC.

Once the Bitcoin economy began to grow in 2010, it was only a matter of time before sports books popped up that accepted BTC.  I currently count about a dozen web sites that use BTC, including a couple of betting exchanges.

Based on personal experience, I've found more favorable lines on BTC betting sites.  Much better than Las Vegas or square online books.  In fact, on an exchange I only pay 1% vig versus a standard 10%.  This means I need less winners to turn a profit, because I'm getting paid extra every time I cash a winner.

I also enjoy the convenience of placing a wager from my computer or phone, and the ability to shop for lines.  Only residents of Nevada have those advantages on a regular basis.

I have no idea if BTC will be a long term solution for internet wagering.  It is slowly becoming more accepted every day.  I think it is a revolutionary concept and it will somehow be adapted into our daily financial lives.  My guess is that someday we will shop with our regular credit cards and actually be spending Bitcoins while not even realizing it.

I realize Bitcoins are difficult to understand but they are so EASY to use.  Time will tell when the BTC betting boom will end.


Buffalo66 is a pro sports bettor and the most feared man in daily fantasy sports.

09 June 2013

Bronx Bums: 6/9 Report - Steaming Cleveland and Beating King Felix

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


Free Agent Whiff: King Felix's Corner would've been a great addition Yankee Stadium

The Yankees (37-26) followed up their worst week of the season and bounced back with a 6-1 clip. They swept Cleveland and took 3 out of 4 in Seattle at the onset of a 10-game West Coast sojourn. The Yanks trail the Boston Red Sox (39-25) by 1.5 games in the AL East, but only one other team has more wins that the Yanks in the AL (Oakland) and only two NL teams (St. Louis and Atlanta) have more wins.

The Yanks needed a slump buster after hitting the skids against the Mets and Red Sox. The Yanks hitters have been running the extremes all year. Hot/cold, hot/cold, hot/cold. It's hard to stay cold when Cleveland comes to town. The Yanks feasted on Cleveland's pitching and scored 17 runs. CC Sabaitha had hit a rough patch in May, but he gutted out a complete game win for his 6th of the season and gave the bullpen a much-needed day off. The Yanks bats woke up in time for a four game series in Seattle.

With the exception of Brett Gardner (8 for 14 in Seattle), the Yanks offense was intermittent in Seattle with only 12 runs in 4 games, but they got remarkable pitching and only gave up 3 runs combined in all three of their wins (6-1, 3-1, and 2-1). They could not duck King Felix Hernandez, but they actually pulled off a close victory.

David Phelps needed a near perfect outing to have an outside to beat King Felix. And he got it. King Felix was slightly off and didn't have his best stuff, but the Yanks failed to capitalize on a bases loaded jam early on. That was their best chance to inflict any real damage against King Felix. Both starters gave strong performances. With the score 1-1 late in the game, it was up to Seattle's bullpen to match the Yanks' tag team David Robertson/Mo Rivera. Yanks struck first blood and squeezed out one run. That's all they needed. Mo Rivera shut the door in the ninth for his 23rd save (out of 24 chances).

The Yanks' lack of run production continues. Yet, when they score runs they always back it up with strong pitching. The numbers tell it all:
31-5 when Yanks score 4+ runs
21-0 when Yanks score 5+ runs
6-21 when Yanks score 3 runs or fewer
Give the Yanks' starters 4 runs of support and the Yanks win 86% of the time. That fifth run gets them a 100% victory rate, which they've done 21 times in 63 games played. It helps when you have automatic relief pitchers like Robertson and Rivera. When the Yanks get a lead... they hold it and rarely cough it up. Their bullpen is 12th overall, but they are 12-6 with an .234 opponents' batting average.

The big news of the week surround A-Roid's looming suspension. Most Yankees' fans (if not all of them) hope to never see A-Roid play another game in pinstripes. It was a mistake to bring him to the Bronx. It was an even bigger mistake to pay him all that redonkulous money. That's a huge pile of steaming shit sitting in the middle of the table and we're counting the days until it gets cleaned up.

A-Roid is still out. Jeter is still out. So is Grandy, Nunez, and Frankie 'Roids' Cevelli. Oh, and don't get me started about Pineda.

Tex is back in the lineup but he's not hitting well. He was always a slow starter so it might take a while before he gets his swing back. At least he adds stronger defense at first base. Gardner looked great against in Seattle and even stole a couple of bases. Youk tweaked his back again and he's listed as day-to-day.

On Deck: The Yanks have a day off before they head to California to take on the A's (38-27) and Angels (27-36) in three-game series. The A's were riding high until they dropped two straight. Meanwhile, the Angels are struggling and lost 3 out of their last 10 games. If it weren't for the Houston Astros joinng the AL, the Angels would be the worst team in the division. The Angels are 15-18 at home this season and one of only three teams in the AL with a losing home record.

This week's pitching match-up...
@ Oakland:
6/11 CC (6-4) vs. Colon (7-2)
6/12 Hughes (3-4) vs. Straily (3-2)
6/13 Kuroda (6-5) vs. Parker (5-6)

@ LA Angels:
6/14 Pettitte (5-3) vs. Hanson (3-2)
6/15 Phelps (4-3) vs. Wilson (4-5)
6/16 CC (6-4) vs. Blanton (1-10)

Pauly is the author of Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

05 June 2013

NBA Finals Preview: Spurs in 7 or Heat in 6?

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Where's Luigi?

I'm holding a bunk ticket. Oklahoma City to win the NBA Championship.

The Miami Heat went into the 2012-13 season as the consensus favorite to repeat as NBA Champions. When the playoffs rolled around, they were still the favorite and still buzzing from a 27-game winning streak during a regular season in which they ripped off 66 wins and a mere 16 losses.

Oklahoma City caught the shit end of fate. The injury gods rolled the dice and Russell Westbrook's number got called. A Westbrook-less OKC crapped out in the second round to the upstart Grizzles. At one point, the Griz looked like the hottest team in the playoffs, but they ran out of gas and fizzled out in the Western Conference Finals. It was an uneventful series against San Antonio and the Spurs swept them in four games. The Griz put up a valiant fight in two of them -- both games in which they forced an overtime -- yet the Spurs pulled away in OT. Both times.

Although the Griz surprised a lot of folks (especially the stunned L.A. Clippers) in this year's postseason, they got a lucky draw with OKC sans Westbrook. But then the Griz ran into the Spurs, who played like a team on a mission. Even though two games went into overtime, I got the general sense that the Spurs/Griz series was more like a sparring session. The Griz went a few rounds in the gym, just to give the Spurs a sweat and one last workout before their title fight against the champion Miami Heat.

The aging Spurs got the benefit of finishing their series early and were rewarded with nine days off, while the Pacers extended their series against Miami to a full seven games.

The Miami Heat are -220 to win the championship and their opponents, the San Antonio Spurs, are +200. The Spurs are worth a (moderate) look only because the Heat played the max games in the last two series, plus everyone doesn't know the extent of injuries to D-Wade and Chris Bosh. The entire Heat squad took a pounding in the last two physically-demanding series and truly earned their ticket to the finals. Besides, Miami looked vulnerable at times against a Chicago Bulls squad that only had Joakim Noah and a bunch of scrubs. Yet despite the dinged-up roster of no names, Tom Thibodeau and his defensive-hive-minded Bulls were like Rocky Balboa in Rocky I and they forced Miami to play a full series of old-school ground-and-pound hoops. Alas, no one could stop LeBron James in Game 7 and the Heat prevailed.

The Pacers beat up on the lowly Knicks in the second round and everyone thought they'd lie down in five games against the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat did not get a pushover for an opponent, especially after the emergence of Roy Hibbert and the fact that the Pacers refused to follow the script.

After two brutal back-to-back seven-game series, even the defending champions are battle weary. The Heat are still the favorites to win the NBA Finals, yet they're limping into Game 1 while the Spurs are well-rested. Miami should be able to pick up a win in the first game if the Spurs come out rusty because sometimes too much rest is a bad thing and you lose your rhythm if you've had over a week off (nine days in Spurs' case) versus a team that is used to playing every other night. Then again, I keep coming back to this fact: Miami's troops have been under siege for 14 straight games.

Choke up on the bat, Bosh!

I'm pretty sure Miami's head coach Erik Spoelstra read his fair share of Sun Tzu (if not on his own, Pat Riley gives the Art of War as a perennial Christmas gift to all Miami Heat employees), so he's aware of the perils of troop exhaustion. On the flip side, coach Gregg Popovich was an Air Force Academy grad and part of the reason the Spurs played so well the last two seasons (especially during the shortened season last year) was due to Pop's keen attention to providing his veterans rest... even if they wanted to play. Let's not forget about the incident early in the season when Pop sent his veterans back to San Antonio to patch their old bones, while he took the Spurs' B-team into Miami to play the Heat in a gym where they rarely loses. Supreme Commander David Stern was not pleased with Pop's philosophy on troop rotation, and he mercilessly fined Pop and the Spurs for not dressing his vets in a nationally televised game.

"It's not show friends, it's show business!"

Pop and Spoelstra are among the elite coaches in the NBA because of their ability to tweak lineups, exploit mismatches, and make the correct adjustments. Miami rarely loses two games in a row, especially in the playoffs because Spoelstra's game plan following a loss is so impeccable that it's almost foolproof. If the Spurs want to win the NBA title, they will have to beat Miami twice in a row at least once in this series, which seems improbable.

The Spurs can win the title without Miami losing two in a row, but they must win Game 1, then they zig-zag the rest of the series before stealing game 7 in Miami.

That perfect scenario is... Spurs. Miami. Spurs. Miami. Spurs. Miami. Spurs.

Although, Pop would love to see this miraculous outcome... Spurs. Miami. Spurs. Spurs. Spurs.

In reality, we'll probably see Miami in 6 or... Miami. Spurs. Miami. Spurs. Miami. Miami.

Duncan! Get me two. Two meatball sandwiches.

One of my favorite sportswriters covering the NBA is Zach Lowe (from Grantland) and if Zach thinks Miami will win in six, then it's hard to argue against him. Zach is not quite the Nate Silver of the NBA beat writers, but he's someone who understand match-ups as well as, if not better than professional gamblers. Check out Zach's NBA Final Preview in which he wonders if either team can win by playing Small Ball. I guess in the end it comes down to Miami's ability to stop a deep-penetrating Tony Parker and if Kawhi Leonard can step up and guard Lebron James. Leonard doesn't have to shut down LBJ completely (which is impossible), but anything Leonard can do to disrupt LBJ's rhythm on offense will be an added bonus. Using a line about Michael Jordan from the old late night versions of Sportscenter in the 90s, "You can't stop LBJ, you can only hope to contain him."

This year's match up was what many pundits thought we would see last June. Alas, in 2012 OKC emerged as the new kids on the block and picked off the Spurs. This season, we thought we'd see a rematch of last year's final -- OKC/Miami -- but we got last year's expected match-up between Miami and San Antonio.

A few weeks before the season began, I thought the Lakers would knock off the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs and square off against OKC in the Western Conference Finals. NBA suits and TV execs had a huge stiffy thinking about the battle of Big 3s.... Kobe/Howard/Nash vs. Durant/Westbrook/Harden. Then Harden got traded to Houston, then Nash went down with an injury and then the Lakers' head coach got the bad end of a Kobe Death Stare and he was fired a couple of weeks into the season and replaced by Mike D'Antoni. Howard was still sluggish post-back surgery and the Lakers played like bush leaguers for most of the season and were damn lucky to sneak into the postseason through the backdoor. Anyway, the Lakers blew chunks this season, which is why OKC and San Antonio easily finished 1-2 atop of the Western Conference.

If Westbrook doesn't blow out his knee, then I'm writing about the repeat of last year's final between OKC and Miami and I'm giddy as a kid on Christmas morning clutching my OKC Championship ticket. But injuries are dream killers. That's the uncertainty of professional sports. Every team is just one injury away from flushing their championship dreams down the toilet.

I only like the Spurs for potential value because on paper Miami should win in six, just as Zach Lowe predicted. The consensus is Miami -220 and San Antonio +200. I did not bet this series, but I kind of wish I jumped on the Spurs when they were +225 at some shops on Monday night.

Last evening, the best prices on the Spurs could be found at Euro books. The Spurs were +200 on Paddy Power and you could find +204 via Betfair (which has since fallen to +194). On some of the "square" offshore books, the Spurs were only +175 (Sportsbook.com) and +185 (Bovada)

If you want to bet the favorite and back the Miami Heat, then Billy Hill has Miami -225, while Paddy Power had listed Miami at -240 last night, but it's dropped to -220 on the day of the game. The best price for the Heat is at Sportsbook for -205, while Bovada listed them at -210.

At press time (according to PreGame's Sportsbook Spy), most of the public money is on the Spurs -5 in Game 1. The line opened at -6 and dropped to -5.5 for the last day or so before it moved toward -5. Who knows where the wise guys end up because word on the street is split. A couple syndicates gobbled up Spurs +6 when the lines were released.

And who the hell knows which team Floyd Mayweather likes in the NBA Finals. Last I heard, he degen'd it up with serious action on Division III women's softball.


Pauly is the author of Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.

04 June 2013

A's Weekly Digest: Good, Not Great

By Joe Speaker
Los Angeles, CA

The A's are playing who? Milwaukee? Is Robin Yount still on that team? I know less about the Brewers than any other baseball team because....Brewers. Is there a more non-descript team in the universe?

This is probably because the Brew Crew is in the National League (very near the bottom of the National League) and I hardly pay any attention to a league where they let the bat boys (or girls) hit 9th. Naturally, Milwaukee used to be in the AL, but Bud Selig engineered their move to the Senior Circuit so each league would have an even amount of clubs (16 in the NL, 14 in the AL) after expansion. This was due to baseball not wanting nightly interleague play (and Selig probably got a bunch of under the table payments from other owners to sacrifice his own team because...conflict of interest). Of course, now we have 15 teams in each league and nightly interleague play because the Astros moved back to the AL so they'd have the Angels to beat up on regularly (7-3 against the erstwhile Anaheimians thus far this year). It's like the Astros look at the Angels the same way the rest of baseball looks at the Astros.

Scioscia Face!
But wait, you say. Isn't this an A's column. Did the author of this weekly (semi-weekly) piece just go all that way for an Angels-Astros joke?

Of course I did.

As I said to a friend last night on Twitter. If an A's win is a 100 on the enjoyment scale, the Angels losing is a 99. If that makes me a bad person, I'm willing to own that shit. I want the Angels to fail, spectacularly and with Mike Scioscia saying insipid things like, "We have to play with fire."

Is the author still talking about the Angels when the A's have won 15 of 17 and are now a season-high 11 games over .500? The team with the third best record in the AL?

It's strange and you're going to think I'm a nit or an idiot or some variation/combination of the two, but this win streak hasn't been something that makes me think the A's are great. Good, not great. I love when they win, but those 17 games have been against the following:

Kansas City -- Scuffling big-time and absolutely no power to speak of
Texas -- This one is good and the A's won 2 of 3 in Arlington, but the manner in which they lost the third game rankled
Houston -- We've been over this
San Francisco -- Again, another good team, but one not playing particularly well and some horrid hitting RISP prevented a four-game sweep. I swear Barry Zito's a warlock.
Chicago White Sox -- Hooo-boy does this team suck.That offense smells like high school wrestling practice.

And now the A's get to beat up on a Brewers team (10-2 win last night for the AL team) that is playing as poorly as anyone.

Look, I'm not saying you don't have to beat the teams that are on your schedule. And 15 of 17 is no joke against any level of competition. The A's pitching has been stellar and while the offense still occasionally makes you want to yank out your armpit hair, it is getting the job done more often than not. With Josh Reddick's return from injury and better health from Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes, the A's have their starting outfield together for one of the few times this year. Much has been made of the team's depth and versatility, which certainly helped with all the ailments, but there's no substitute for having your top-line talent in there every day.


So maybe the offense will jell. Maybe Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson can keep it up and the rest can raise their numbers. That'd be great. Then I might start thinking great things. It's all good right now. Great would be better.

03 June 2013

Hibbert, Pacers Ignore the Script

By Shamus
Charlotte, NC

Very much looking forward to tonight’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat. I was tickled to see the Pacers hold serve in Game 6 on Saturday, my allegiance having by now fully swung to the underdogs’ side after seeing them battle gamely night after night against the defending champs.

That’s right. While everyone else (it seems) is wincing at the thought of a Pacers-Spurs final, that’s what I’m hoping for, as the Heat -- as remarkable and talented as they are, and as undeniably thrilling as LeBron James can be to watch -- have proven themselves to be a much too petulant bunch for me to get behind.



Being a Bobcats-for-now-soon-to-be-Hornets fan, I’m one of the many without a specific dog in this particular fight. I did live in Indiana during the Miller time ’90s, and so pulled for the Pacers then. But this team is far removed from that one, and that tug was only temporary for me. That said, this new bunch led by Paul George, Lance Stephenson, and Roy Hibbert has earned my respect over the last several weeks, and thus will I be rooting for the visitors tonight.

I mentioned the Heat’s tantrums and thus am suggesting my rooting for the Pacers has something to do with personality or character, insofar as those kinds of things can be perceived and understood from afar. Such an idea might sound odd following Hibbert’s news-making press conference following Game 6 in which he managed not only to utter one of George Carlin’s seven words you can never say on television, but also another, newer bit of slang that has been characterized a “gay slur” by most who have excitedly reported on it.

I’m not going to address the murky matter of whether or not Hibbert’s words were unequivocally offensive, nor whether or not the $75,000 fine levied by the NBA was justified. But I did want to share one thought about Hibbert and his personality, something I’d noticed well before the other night.

Many are talking about his comments in the press conference being “out of character,” but I’m recalling seeing Hibbert speak after games several times this season and witnessing his almost disarming frankness over and again. I’m remembering one post-game interview in particular that followed an Indiana victory over the Atlanta Hawks, a team they’d go on to knock out in the first round of the playoffs.

That game (from March 25) saw the Pacers build a whopping 28-point lead in the third quarter, then in the fourth quarter Indiana allowed the Hawks to get back within five before closing the game out. Even though Indiana was short-handed that night, Hibbert was basically livid in the post-game interview, talking in measured yet emotional terms about how the team couldn’t afford such letdowns with the playoffs approaching.

I liked hearing Hibbert talk about the game and his team’s performance in a non-standard, more meaningful way than we usually get from players in such spots. He has continued to say all of the right things -- including things one wouldn’t necessarily expect -- after games throughout the playoffs. Up until Saturday night, anyway.

I told Pauly about a week ago how Hibbert struck me as the anti-Dwight Howard, a consummate team player and effective leader who reminds me a little of former Pacers coach Larry Brown in the way he frequently seems to be putting the team first. When he’s not calling out reporters for voting him the 10th-best defensive player of the year, that is.

All of which is to say, I get that his words after Saturday’s game were somewhat “out of character.” However, to me they weren’t as completely shocking as other observers have been saying. I mean to the extent that Hibbert has never struck me as the kind of guy who sticks to the uncritical clich├ęs and trite “player-speak.”



I like that Hibbert goes off-script, just like I like the way the Pacers have already added a couple of unexpected extra chapters to the predetermined story of Miami’s run to repeat.

I’m not wanting to apologize for Hibbert or explain anything away here, but just thought I’d share some thoughts about a player I’ve grown to like and root for both off and on the court. And to add I’ll be pulling for him and his team again tonight.

I think the Pacers will be battling uphill, especially if Dwayne Wade perks up and Chris Bosh returns from saving the multiverse to help LBJ. But they’ll definitely be battling. Indeed, when I first heard about Hibbert’s comments, I told Pauly I wondered if perhaps the big man might have been misheard. That Hibbert was in fact referring to the Pacers’ intention not to fold under the pressure of tonight’s Game 7, and reporters had failed to pick up on what he had said clearly...

“No Romo.”

Shamus is the author of the Hard-Boiled Poker blog.

02 June 2013

Bronx Bums: 6/2 Report - Swept By the Mets and Whipped by the Red Sox

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA



Thank God for the K.C. Royals. If they didn't go 2-8 in the last week or so, the Yankees (31-25) would be the worst team in baseball over the last two weeks. The Yanks only won 3 out of their last 11 games and they finished last week with an ugly 1-6 record and quickly dropped out of first place in the AL East and currently trail Boston by 3 games. It seems like every one else is playing their best baseball (Boston, Baltimore, and Tampa are all 7-3 over the last 10 games) while the Yanks look the worst they've looked all season long.

The Yanks dropped two of three to the Red Sox, which stung because the games were in the Bronx. The Yanks also lost all four games (home-and-home subway series) to the Mets. I saw an internet meme that said "Don't worry, the Mets beat up on the Scranton Yankees." Joking aside, it was an ugly series. Even Mo Rivera got beat up.

Mo Rivera was due for a blown save. It's part of the mathematical harmony of the universe. He was playing too flawless and the baseball gods gave him a rare dose of reality as he blew his first save f the year after starting the season a perfect 18 for 18. The good news is that Mo stays on pace, he won't blow another save until late July the Yanks can expect stellar performance from Mo through the All-Star Break. Then again, if the Yanks can't hit and they continue to post multiple shutouts and 1-run every other day, then Mo will never get any save opportunities.

It's been feast or famine for the Yanks. When they score runs, it's backed up with solid starting and impeccable bullpen. When they lose... they tend to lose badly...either in blow out fashion (e,g, 11-a spanking to Boston) or ugly (e.g. 1-0 shutout to Mets). In five out of the Yanks last six losses, they score 1 or fewer runs. The Yanks only scored 11 runs in 7 games last week.

Girardi has been playing with house money all of April and May. It was inevitable that his hodge-podge crew of Robbie Cano, unknown rubes, and washed up vets managed to stay afloat for so long. Heck, they even led the AL East for almost two weeks! For a good stretch in May, the Yanks were in the Top 5 wins overall for all of baseball. So the scrubs hit the wall this past week. A collapse was inevitable. The good news is that the Calvary is arriving. The first on the scene was Mark Teixeira. Youk returned as well, but who knows when Jeter and A-Roid will be ready. At this point, I hope A-Roid never plays another game in pinstripes, and I'd like to see Jeter make a run at 4K hits, so the only way he'll be able to do that is probably shut it down the rest of the season and come back 110% next spring. Of course, Jeter won't do that. He'll be back but I'm afraid he won't be 100% and be prone to another re-injury.

The Yanks hit the skids. Let's hope they can put this bad week behind them and bounce back by focusing on winning their next series at home before they go on a lengthy West Coast sojourn. The Yanks desperately need a slump buster.

On Deck: The Yanks host a three-game series in the Bronx against Cleveland. The Yanks are 3-1 against the Indians this year and feasted off their pitching. They could have not asked for a better opponent right now. Then on they embark on a 10-game West Coast road trip which includes four games in Seattle (Thursday thru Sunday), and three games each next week in Oakland and in Anaheim against the Angels. The A's are the hottest team in baseball, so the Yanks have a week to get their shit together before they take on the A's next Tuesday.

01 June 2013

Tapping A Beer: Those Record-Tying Brewers!

By StB
Milwaukee, WI


The Milwaukee Brewers went about and tied a team record for the month of May. Unfortunately, it was not a good feat. They managed to tie the record for the number of losses in a month.

22

22 Ls in a month. God that was painful to watch as a fan. The starting pitching stunk, the hitting blew, and the defense was awful. The only crew you couldn't blame was the bullpen. Somehow the Brew Crew comes out of May with the best performing relief unit (by ERA) in the NL Central.

WTF?

This month as so bad that the Brewers had to remind everyone of the saddest promotion they have had in a long time wasn't going down the drain. For every game the Brewers won in May, the cost of a ticket against the A's would go down by a buck. So the grand total would have been a 5 dollar discount against a team that no one cares about in Milwaukee.

To save the day. Ryan Braun supposedly stepped up and covered the discount so all Terrace level and bleacher seats would be only $8. I say supposedly because it totally sounds like a PR event. I don't recall any comment from Braun saying he felt bad about the team sucking major ass.

So the Brewers weren't able to create a pathetic team record in May because the did manage to beat the Phillies on the 31st.

Funny thing is the beat Philadelphia again on June 1. Suddenly a team that stunk may actually get a sweep. On the road.

No wonder this baseball fan drinks so much.