30 August 2013

MMA: UFC 164

By StB
Milwaukee, WI

Saturday's UFC 164 is a solid card. Coming live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the house will be packed with local MMA fans and possibly thousands of bikers that happen to be in town for the Harley Davidson 110th birthday celebration. The headline fight is Benson Henderson defending his title against Milwaukee fighter Anthony Pettis. By now you probably have seen the "Showtime Kick". Hell, it is the best advertisement for the fight.

This was a Holy Shit! moment. I was watching this fight live that night, cheering on the hometown fighter. As soon as he climbed the cage and connected with that kick, I hit pause and shook my head. Did I just see that? I rewound the DVR and watch it again. And again. And again. Holy Shit!!! I texted my buddy, asking if he was watching. He said he wasn't. I told him he was one sad sonofabitch because he just missed one of the coolest kicks to date in MMA. Benson Henderson remembers this fight. He refers to it as "the stain on my soul." It was a great fight, close, with both fighters knowing that whoever won the fifth round was going to win the fight. That is when the Showtime Kick occurred. Though he didn't get the knockout, it won Pettis the round and he left the last WEC champion. Henderson has gone on to shine in the UFC, capturing the Lightweight title. His fights have been exciting. Pettis hasn't been too shabby, with just one blemish from Clay Guida. Pettis thought he was better than Henderson then and still thinks he is the better fighter.

Henderson is a slight favorite at -125. Pettis isn't paying much at +105.

We should see another great fight on Saturday. May the best man win. In what could be a lopsided fight, Frank Mir faces Josh Barnett. Clay Guida is coming in as a huge dog to Chad Mendes. Brandon Vera and Ben Rothwell should be interesting. Eric Koch takes on Dustin Poirier.

28 August 2013

MMA: UFC Has a Big Week

By StB
Milwaukee, WI

The UFC is looking to end the dog days of summer on a high note. They come to us with two cards in 4 nights. Both of them have some good fights.

Let's focus on Fight Night coming live from Indianapolis on Fox Sports 1. Carlos Condit seeks to avenge a split decision loss from Martin Kampmann. Both of these fighters are pretty darn good. Condit is currently ranked as the #2 Welterweight in the world. Kampmann comes in at #6.

Condit does not look like much but that is deceiving. He is coming off losses  George St. Pierre and Johnny Hendricks, two guys who will face off for the championship Condit previously held. My knock on him is that he can be boring. He can finish people but doesn't tend to get the job done. Too many decisions for my taste.

Kampmann is also coming off a loss to Hendricks and is susceptible to a quick punch. When he gets knocked down, he isn't coming back up. Kampmann took this fight back in 2009, when both of them looked like little boys.

I think Condit will have enough to put him away. Condit comes in as a decent favorite at -250.

Fan favorite Donald Cerrone steps into the Octagon to face Rafael dos Anjos. Cerrone has had some good battles in the past against champ Benson Henderson and Jamie Varner, taking home several Fight of the Night bonuses. Though he tends to be a slow starter, Cerrone gets stronger as the fight goes on.

Dos Anjos has basically flown under the radar. He has a 4 fight winning streak going on but seems to falter against the best competition. I think Dos Anjos has a good shot at this. He is a dog going off at +135. Not enough to make me want to take the action though.

Other interesting fights on the card include recent TUF winner Kelvin Gastelum taking on Brian Melancon. No clue who Melancon is. It will be interesting to see if Gastelum can continue on the short tear he was on during the show. He is the favorite at -230.

Speaking of TUF, alumni Court McGhee returns as does Bubba McDaniel. McDaniel might be a good longshot at +375. He'll either knock out Brad Tavares or get beat pretty soundly. That means the fight will be exciting.

This weekend we get a rematch that fans have been waiting for at UFC 164. Benson Henderson defending his title against the man that put a stain on his soul, Anthony Pettis. More on that in a couple of days.

26 August 2013

College Football Upset Watch: Week 1

By Buffalo66
Buffalo, NY

Football season is upon us.  Time to celebrate!

Each week I get to highlight the games that have "live dogs."  If they can pull off the upset, those juicy odds will fatten your wallet.  Keep your eye on these games:

Penn State vs. Syracuse (+245).  This game is at MetLife Stadium in NJ.  New Syracuse coach Scott Shafer takes over for Doug Marrone and he has a potential starting QB in Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen.  He also has decided to close practice to the media, which is either a baffling or genius move.  Both programs are retooling but the Orange have a good foundation and perhaps the element of surprise.

Boise State (+145) at Washington.  The Broncos have a legitimate shot at going undefeated this year, but they will have to get by the Huskies first.  Washington is hosting in their newly remodeled stadium, which should provide a hostile environment.  Huskies top receiver Austin Seferian-Jenkins is out with an injury. Boise is always prepared to play the "bigger" schools, I like their chances here.

Northwestern at Cal (+190).  The Wildcats visit Berkeley as a top 25 program.  Cal hired Sonny Dykes away from Louisiana Tech and he brings his high powered no huddle offense.  The Bears will be starting a true freshman QB.  This game has a "nothing to lose" feel to it.  If Cal can put up some scores early they could gain enough momentum to keep lighting up the scoreboard.

25 August 2013

Bronx Bums: 8/25 Report - Still Alive, Barely and 4K for Ichiro

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Classy... Ichiro bows to the crowd after his 4,000 (combined) hit

It was a great start to the week after the Yankees (69-61) won four games and swept Toronto, including taking down both ends of a doubleheader. The Yanks were riding the high of a five game winning streak until they flew into Tampa and got their butts spanked. They dropped two out of three due to dead bats.

The Yanks really needed a sweep to boost their playoff chances, but they're not dead just yet. There's still a glimmer of hope after going 5-2 this week. If they want a ticket to the postseason, they cannot afford to lose another series against an AL East division foes.

The Yankees are 7 games behind Boston and 3.5 games back in the Wild Card race. Tampa and Oakland are currently in the two spots with Cleveland (1.5 back) and Baltimore (2 back) nipping at their heels.

Like Big Papi feared, the Yanks got woken up in Boston after the A-Roid beanball incident. They proceeded to take two out of three from Boston last weekend, then promptly swept Toronto. Too bad they couldn't find any way to hit in Tampa. They only scored 7 runs all weekend and lost a tough game on Saturday 4-2. Their backs were against the wall on Sunday, but the Yanks prevailed in extra innings with a 3-2 victory. That was their 12th win in the last 17 games. 

Good news... Mo Rivera is back on track and picked up his 37th and 38th saves. He might have 40 by my next report. Mo reached 40+ only 8 times (and 50+ twice) in his career.

Ichiro collected his 4,000 hit... combined in Japan and the MLB. I'd love to see him play 2-3 more seasons and get 3,000 in North America. I think he's on the bubble for the Hall of Fame (if not, he has at least one foot in the door), but if he can secure 3,000 hits, then he'll become the first Japanese player to get the nod to Cooperstown.

On Deck: The Yanks have a three-game series in Canada against the Blue Jays. Then they return to the Bronx for a weekend series against Baltimore. Both of these series are huge. Girardi would love back-to-back sweeps. But the Yanks are taking it one game at a time.

20 August 2013

Weekly* A's Digest: Looming

by Joe Speaker
Los Angeles, CA

Brandon Moss hit a walk-off homer last night to dead center, on a night when the ball was carrying about as well as a pastrami sandwich. This made me happy. He did not, however, get hit in the face with a pie following his heroics, because starting--and winning--pitcher Jerrod Parker was interviewed on the TV post-game show. This deprived us A's fans of an important ritual we've come to enjoy after walk-off wins. And the faithful were not afraid to make it known on Twitter.

Which is silly.


It's tradition, man. If there's one thing that must be respected in the Game of Baseball, it is Tradition. I hope this thoughtless act of not smashing a tin of whipped cream in Moss's face doesn't come back to bite the team, because there's danger just over the next ridge.

It's time for the annual (traditional?) Death March part of the A's schedule. After they finish a pair of games with Seattle, the A's have 13 straight games against teams fighting for the playoffs. The first seven are on the road at Baltimore and Detroit, followed by home tilts with Tampa Bay and the Rangers. The schedule brings to mind last year, when a tired, injured--and soon-to-be-more injured--A's team set off on a 10-gamer to New York, Detroit and Texas.

That looming test occupied the minds of A's fans for weeks. The Cinderellas in Green and Gold would truly meet their fate. They were three back of Texas in the West and three up on Baltimore in the Wild Card when they set off. And it was a bloodbath. They lost two of three in Detroit, while lead-off hitter and talisman Coco Crisp sat out with an eye infection. Starter Brett Anderson re-injured himself and would be lost for the rest of the regular season. It was the same story in the Bronx, where they dropped the first two in extra innings, the second of which could have buried a team with less fortitude (the A's scored four in the top of the 13th, the Yanks answered with four of their own and won it in the 14th). Bullpen decimated, they pulled out a win in the finale and managed to split four with Texas before limping home.

The 4-6 trip seemed much worse, my psyche was shattered after the Yankee loss, but they had lost only a game each to Texas and Baltimore over that stretch. Of course, they miraculously won the division, sweeping Seattle and Texas the last week. I still can't believe that happened.


So, this year's version likely holds similar meaning. The Rangers are currently gorging themselves on a buffet of crap teams, having skipped through the likes of Anaheim (yes, fucking ANAHEIM), Houston, Seattle and Milwaukee to the tune of 16-4 in their last 20. They have 12 more games of that shit, too, with Minnesota and the White Sox thrown in for variety. So the A's will really be holding on for dear life as they head east on Wednesday. It's difficult to see them only losing one game if they go 4-6 before Texas comes to town, but it's also hard to envision them managing much better than 6-4. The offense remains stagnant and Manager Bob Melvin's insistence on the sacrifice bunt to scratch out runs has had the opposite effect, as well as driving me to the very edge of sanity. The starting pitching is inconsistent, the bullpen thin once you get past the top three guys and the defense has caused me to hurl various household items at various members of my family (please do not try this at home). For the first time since Melvin took over, I have a certain unease that manifests itself in a lack of belief which is only exacerbated by...OHMYGOD STOP BUNTING.

After the next 15 games, the schedule gets easier. The A's will try to make hay against the Weak Sisters of the American League while the Rangers get a tougher task. They key will be to not lose touch over the next two weeks.

Young teams are streaky. When the runs aren't coming, the kids tend to grip the bat a little tighter, press more. Instead of looking for their pitch, they go up there hacking, trying to "make something happen." What the A's need to do is get back to grinding at bats. Too often lately, they have been easy outs, which leads to small pitch counts for opposing pitchers which leads to fewer fun times against bullpens.

Maybe last night's dessert-less walk-off will provide a boost. Maybe it was the deep breath the team needed and will kick in the momentum.Maybe...just maybe...it will mean more pie. And we'd better get it next time.

19 August 2013

Simple Bankroll Management

By Buffalo66
Buffalo, NY
Lots of people ask me how I decide what to bet on a game.  My answer is usually, "I bet one unit but that changes every day."  What the hell does that mean?  It means that wager is where my comfort zone lies.  To figure out what you're going to drop on a wager, you need to consider the type of bettor you are and what your wager is trying to accomplish.

I'm a daily grinder.  I bet all year around, I can't afford to risk going busto.  So I need to get my action down in the right dose so I can live to fight tomorrow.  Always leave yourself an out, right?

Many of my buddies are bar stool pundits, only looking to lay action on big games.  They may bet twice a year.  These punters can afford to bet their whole wad at once.  Perhaps 10+ units on the Super Bowl.  If they lose, just save up for next year's game.  It doesn't affect their quality of life if they crap out.

For those in the latter category, you can probably stop reading here.  But if you're on a long term horizon, you need some sort of guidelines to keep track of your roll.

If you're a sporadic bettor, you likely place no more than one wager per day.  If this is the case, sizing your bet is simple.  Take your bankroll and divide by 30.  That's how much you should spend per wager.  For example, if your roll is $3000 then you should spend $100 on each play.

Why 30?  Many pros (especially those on the stingy side) suggest you wager only 2-4% of your roll to minimize risk of ruin.  If you lose 10 in a row (which I've done before) you're still in the game, just betting less.  1 unit divided by 30 is 3.3%, right in that wheelhouse.

Now college action junkies like myself need to get multiple wagers down on a football or basketball Saturday.  I will make several plays but some may be smaller amounts depending on the volume.  Always make your strongest play first, so you can get the most down in your comfort zone.

For all subsequent wagers, use your remaining bankroll (divided by 30) to calculate the unit size.  This is a built in safeguard to prevent you from overspending on a single day.  If your 1 PM game comes in at dinnertime, then add it back into your roll for that 8 PM tilt.

I've enjoyed betting bitcoins because they are not denominated in dollars.  One coin is one coin, regardless of its exchange value.  So when I hit 60 coins I automatically know I can go 2 units a game.

There are more complex betting strategies, such as Kelly criterion, but I have found if you need to keep it simple, just set your bankroll at 30 units and enjoy the sweat.

Follow @Buffalo66 on Twitter.

18 August 2013

Bronx Bums: 8/18 Report - Beaning A-Roid and 5% Chance for the Playoffs

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It was a good week. For the first time all season, the bats woke up and Alphonso Soriano went on a sizzling streak. The Yanks won 3 out of 4 against the lowly Angels and took 2 out of 3 in Boston against the division leading Red Sox.

Despite the upswing, the Yanks are longshot to make the playoffs (Baseball Prospectus suggested the Yanks have a 5.4% chance to advance), but they're giving it their all while they're still mathematical eligible. Their postseason is now and it's essentially do or die. The Yanks have to win roughly 75% of their remaining games and get tons of help on the way to have a shot at the postseason.

Sunday night's rubber match was shrouded in ugliness. Sure, A-Roid deserved a drilling, but Dempster should have been a professional about it and hit A-Roid on the first pitch instead of throwing behind him and then plunking him three pitches later. Bush league. Everyone hates A-Roid. Even diehard Yankees' fans. But throwing at him twice was a "dick move" no matter how you look at it.

Alas, A-Roid got his revenge with a solo HR later on. The Yanks came from behind to win the game and take two out of three from the Red Sox.

Will this be the event that turns the Yanks around? Or will the entire team collapse under the weight of the A-Roid circus? Or will it be an afterthought in a couple weeks when the Yanks are mathematically eliminated?

On Sunday, Soriano's torrid streak came to an end with a 0 for 6 stinker. He had an insane stretch this week with a 15 for 22 clip. Over the last 7 games, Soriano hit 6 HRs with 19 RBIs. He's hitting .345 overall in August. On a good note, the Yanks picked up Mark Reynolds (1B/3B) off the scrap heap and he's already produced.

On the Deck: The Yanks have Monday off before a four games against the last place Blue Jays (57-67) (including a doubleheader on Tuesday). Then they fly down to Tampa (70-52) for a three-game weekend series. With seven games in six days, the Yanks would love to go at least 5-2 or better. The Yanks trail Tampa by 6 games in the Wild Card. They could really use a sweep next weekend. 

14 August 2013

MMA: UFC Fight Night 26 - Shogun vs. Sonnen

By StB
Milwaukee, WI

Sometimes UFC cards are hard to figure out. Take UFC 163. That was a real turd of a card. Sure, there were some injuries forcing replacements into fights, but there wasn't much to draw in the beginning.

On the other hand, Fight Night 26 on Fox Sports 1 is loaded. This card looks exceptional, from top to bottom. There is a lot of talent stepping into the Octagon this Saturday in Boston.

But what did you expect when the UFC and Fox Sports team up to launch a new cable station?

Let's take a look at the headliner. Maurico "Shogun" Rua takes on Chael Sonnen. Two fighters whose better days may be behind them.

Shogun excelled in Pride Fighting Championships. Three years ago he won the Light Heavyweight Championship from Lyoto Machida. Since then, he has been a seesaw fighter. Up and down. He has looked good in defeating Brandon Vera and Forrest Griffin but lost decisions to Dan Henderson and Alexander Gustafsson. But which fighter shows up? Rua wanted this fight so we'll see if he walks the walk.

Meanwhile, Sonnen gets a fight like this simply because of his mouth. He knows how to talk to the promoter and then how to talk to the camera. He is the UFC's best talker. He takes the mic skills of a professional wrestler and applies it to mixed martial arts. He does what the pro wrestling biz calls "cutting a promo." His talk is designed to get you to watch the fight. Whether it be PPV or on cable, he talks the talk. Now, it isn't trash talking. Sonnen doesn't put his opponent down. He talks about how he will win. That gets fans to either love him, or hate him. But they watch. For a guy who has lost his last two fights- albeit title fights- he still manages to get top of the card billing.

I like Rua in this fight though he is a slight dog at +120. Sonnen at -140 doesn't seem too wise.

Let's look at the rest of the card. Alistair Overeem takes on Travis Browne. Overeem was poised to be the next Heavyweight Champion. But a failed drug test and them an embarrassing loss to tomato can "Bigfoot" Silva knocked him down a couple of notches. Overeem looked like a beast in Dream. He looked like a badass against Brock Lesnar. Thus to drop a fight to Silva it was a huge step down.

Overeem takes on Travis Browne, who ironically, has his only loss against Bigfoot Silva. Browne had a devastating knockout of Gabriel Gonzaga back in April. Before that he hadn't fought anyone of note. This will be a real test for Browne.

Overeem comes in at a decent favorite, -225. I would expect him to bounce back. Odds are winner gets a title fight. Though I am not a fan of the heavyweights, I am looking forward to this fight.

Former Bantamweight champion Urijah Faber takes on Yuri Alcantara. Faber was a badger in the old WEC. No one could touch him until he dropped the best to Mike Brown. He has faced some good competition since then. The division has caught up to the skill level of Faber. While he is always named for title fights, his last chance is now. A win gets him in line for a rematch against champion Jose Aldo.

Can't say I know much about Alcantara. Most of his fights have been in smaller organizations in Brazil.  That makes Faber a big favorite at -300. I would be surprised to see Faber lose this fight.

Matt Brown will scrap with Mike Pyle. Both fighters are relied onto get the crowd on their feet. This fight won't be boring. Heck, I'd be surprised to see it go 3 rounds.

Uriah Hall takes on John Howard. I recall writing how Hall might be the next big thing in the UFC. Then he dropped a deuce in the ring, losing the TUF title. He wasn't the fighter we had seen on TV.

John Howard makes his return to the UFC. He was around a couple of years ago before being dropped after 3 straight losses. Hall goes off as a big fave, -420. Wow! That much for a guy who choked?

Joe Lauzon and Michael Johnson round out the main card. Both are former TUF alumni. Lauzon is simply better. A good fight but I expect a KO in 2.

The prelim fights look good. But one fighter I want to see is Conor McGregor. The Irishman smashed his opponent back on Fuel TV in April. I want to see if he can deliver another beautiful uppercut again.

So go set your DVR now just in case you can't watch the fights live. I plan to get me a 12 pack of some  New Glarus Staghorn and stay in front of the TV all Saturday night.

12 August 2013

Bronx Bums: 8/11 Report - A-Roid Returns and Mo Blows Three Saves in a Row

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I watched my first baseball game in a month. I went on vacation for four weeks and missed the Bronx Bums shitshow. The Yankees hit the skids and had not won a series in almost a month. After sitting on his ass the entire first half of the season, GM Brian Cashman finally pulled the trigger on a trade by acquiring former Yankees' 2B Alfonso Soriano, who is now roaming the outfield. The Yankees desperately needed a big bat, but as soon as Soriano arrived, he was bogged down in a slump. Who would have thought that the return of A-Roid might be exactly what the middle of the lineup needed? Last month, Robbie Cano had zero protection but now you have to get through Cano, Soriano, and A-roid. Sure, it's nothing close to Murders' Row, but at least it's a step up.

I never thought I'd see A-Roid play another game in pinstripes. I'm part of those angry fans who wants to put A-Roids severed testicles on a pitchfork at the 161st Street subway stop. We got what we wanted... a 200+ game suspension. Yet, thanks to union rules, A-Roid can play while he appeals his suspension. At this point I'm having mixed emotions... I wanted to run that cheating fucker out of Gotham, but the Yanks are on the hook for his staggering contract and we're paying him all that money to sit on his ass, so he might as well earn his paycheck and play the rest of the summer until the league rejects his appeal.

When I last watched the Yankees before the All-Star Break, they were 51-44 and 7 games over .500, but all things considered, they were playing much better than anyone expected with a plethora of injuries to key players. If they had any power production, the Yanks might have been near the top of the AL East. They were getting outstanding pitching from both starters and the bullpen, yet they couldn't score any runs which is why they were fighting for a potential wild card spot instead of battling Boston for the AL East crown.

After the break, the Yanks got into deep trouble. They lost 7 out of their first 11 games. They couldn't get laid in a Tijuana whorehouse and scored 3 or fewer runs in 12 out of their first 17 games of the second half. The drought continued. Big time. The Yanks hit rock bottom after getting swept by the White Sox and losing four straight. The stumbling, bumbling Bronx Bums were 6-12 since the break and sunk to 57-56. They were about to face the Detroit Tigers who were closing in on 70 wins (only Boston had more). At least they were playing them on home turf. The Yanks were homedogs the entire series, something that almost never happens. As is, the Yanks improved to 5-3 as a home dog this season.

The Yanks finally got their shit together and took two out of three against Detroit courtesy of a pair of walk-off homeruns by Brett Gardner in the first and last game. He's a speed demon and never had much of a big stick. He hit a career high 8 HRs this season. Maybe we should be testing him for steroids?

The most alarming news of the weekend happened with Mo Rivera, who blew three straight saves... something he has NEVER done in his career. He blew a 4-2 lead on Sunday after giving up a pair of solo homeruns in the top of the 9th. The crowd was stunned and sat in silence. It was one of the most saddest and most depressing moments I can recall as a Yankees fan. It was like watching Superman die in front of your very eyes.

Mo bailed the Yanks out of more jams than anyone could imagine over the last two decades, but in this instance Gardner picked up his fallen teammate. Twice. Simply put in Yogi's terms, "Mo's cutter ain't cutting." Before the Detroit series, Mo had only blown two saves all season. When he blew the Friday game, you figured... that's probably his last blown save of the season. It's hard to argue against math, especially Mo's career numbers. But when another blown save happened again on Saturday and again on Sunday, you couldn't help but get scared shitless.

Three blown saves in a weekend. Is this the end of Mo? Or just a statistical anomaly?

Then again, the Tigers lineup is one of the most dangerous in all of baseball. Doesn't matter if you're Goose Gossage or Dennis Eckersley. You're gonna have a tough time getting all of those guys out when the game is on the line.

Let's just chalk this up as Mo having a dead arm against a sick team. And let's hope he bounces back and finishes the year strong. I'd hate to have to rely on Joba's fat ass the rest of the season. Mo's the only shining moment in this strange and depressing season. Hate to see him go out on a sour note.

In other news of the weird... the Yanks tagged Verlander for 4 runs on Sunday. Holy amazeballs! That never happens. Even A-Roid took Verlander deep for his first HR of the season after returning earlier in the week. You know that A-Roid is super clean right now and not on the juice because all eyes are on his every move. His urine samples are under strict scrutiny and getting the Lance Armstrong treatment. Seriously, A-Roid's urine is even more pristine than the most pious members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. So sad to see someone like A-Roid waste their God-given talent. A-Roid is old and washed up, but he had so much pure talent that even in the twilight of his career he can still hit homeruns off a Cy Young-caliber pitcher. Then again... Verlander hung that meatball (only in the low 90s versus his usual heat) to A-Roid.

On Deck: The Yanks (59-57) host the lowly L.A. Angels of Anaheim (53-63) for a four-game series in the Bronx. Then on the weekend, the Yanks head up to Fenway for a three-game series. I'd love a sweep of the Angeles, but if the Yanks can take 3/4 from the Angels and 2/3 out of the Red Sox, then they can pick up some much-needed ground. They Yanks trail Boston by 10 game in the AL East. The Yanks are also 7 games back in the Wild Card race. The season is far from over, but the Yanks have a great opportunity this week to put a dent in the Sox's lead. At the same time, the Sox have a chance to hammer the first nail into the Yankees coffin.