Sometimes things happen that just are out of the realm of logical explanation. That's the only way I can describe what took place on Monday night in Miami as the Marlins played host to the Mets.
This was obviously a very tough last couple of days for all of baseball, but particularly the Marlins in the aftermath of the Jose Fernandez tragedy. I'm still in utter shock over his death in a horrific boating accident. Fernandez was more than just a phenomenal talent. His personality was amazing, and he was a potential Hall of Fame pitcher. Considering all he went through to escape Cuba and become an American citizen with an incredible future ahead of him... there just aren't any words I can come up with to properly express how sad I am about Jose's life getting snuffed out so suddenly.
That brings us to last night's game. Bottom of the first, and Dee Gordon leading off for Miami. He started his at bat by taking his place in the righty batter's box a la Fernandez. Following that, ...
Monday is usually college football recap day but that has to go on hold this week. The world lost a giant on Sunday, and I'd be remiss if I didn't express my thoughts on the passing of Arnold Palmer.
I won't even try to eulogize The King, as that's better left to those who actually knew the man. But I'll reflect on a couple of aspects of his life, as well as the impact it had on millions who never met him.
I don't think it's out of place to suggest Arnold Palmer was the greatest and most respected sportsman of my lifetime. He wasn't the best to ever play his sport, although he was obviously one of the all-time greats. But there simply isn't anyone with the possible exception of Babe Ruth who had more singular impact on his particular game.
Stop and think about a couple of things that speak volumes about Arnie. He hadn't won a PGA event since 1973, and yet more than 40 years later he remained one of the most visible endorsers not only from the game of golf, but any aport. ...
I'll do the usual Monday recap of numerous college games, but a brief word about the local entry seems necessary today. UNLV lost in overtime to Idaho on Saturday and while a 33-30 defeat doesn't appear to be the worst thing in the world for a program used to mostly losing, this one was pretty depressing.
Bluntly stated, Idaho is a bad program. The Vandals are leaving the FBS after next season because they admittedly don't have the resources to compete in what amounts to the major leagues, even at the mid-major conference level. Idaho was the visitor for a third straight week and had gotten obliterated in the prior two games.
Admittedly, no one was about to confuse the Rebels with either Washington or Washington State. But UNLV was a two-TD favorite to put this one in the win column, and failed to do so.
UNLV also did something that's not easy to do in this loss. They rushed the football for nearly 400 yards, owning nearly a 3:1 advantage in that category over Idaho. ...
It's going to be an action packed Saturday for this observer, as it's an unusually deep card for me in the colleges. I've got 11 plays on the gridiron altogether, along with one baseball play. The work has been put in, and now it's just sit back and wait to see what happens.
As for the NFL, I've played two games so far, and one of those will be posted here as the daily comp. For info on how to receive all my selections, sent out with analysis as I play them myself, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for rates and details.
Here's the NFL free play for Sunday. This one is on my personal service card. Note I'll have another added opinion side in the Sunday blog. Meanwhile, good luck with this selection!
RAVENS at JAGUARS
Take: RAVENS -1
I'm not exactly impressed by what I've seen from Baltimore, but the bottom line is the team found a way to win each of its first two games and going back to last season, the Ravens are now on a 6-0 roll.
That contrasts favorably with the ...
My Thursday was quiet with just a single baseball play. That was a winner on the Brewers, and I'll similarly have just one Friday wager. This will also be a F5 play. Call it the calm before the storm, as the Saturday college card will be the largest I've had in awhile in terms of volume. One of the free plays posted here this week is on the card, and here's another one that will make the cut and will be on the personal service agenda. Note that I'll have an NFL selection for Sunday in the Saturday blog. Meanwhile, here's one I like on the college side for Saturday.
347 SOUHTERN MISSISSIPPI at 348 UTEP
Take: SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI -10
Southern Miss hits the road following a very disappointing home loss as a double digit favorite to surprising Troy. The Golden Eagles had some turnover issues in that game, and ended up on the short end of a game where they won the stats and should have at least managed to prevail on the scoreboard.
The best remedy for a poor performance might ...
It's Weekly Wise Guy Report day.
Here's the rundown on the college games drawing sharp dollars so far this week. Info is garnered from various sources in Nevada, at offshore books plus stateside underground shops. Any commentary is via my contacts.
306 SMU is attracting some decent action for the Friday night clash with TCU. The Horned Frogs are not proving to be especially popular with the masses, so this is not shaping up as a sharp/square battleground game.
310 Utah is getting play from both the pros and the public.
322 Virginia has gotten early smart money action but the consensus seems to be that the line has gotten as low as it will go.
316 Florida International is somewhat the choice for the wise guys, thought it's by no means overwhelming.
318 Buffalo is getting some attention from the pros, while the public is once again pounding the Army side.
321 Syracuse is pretty popular with both the sharps and the public.
324 Michigan is the rare big chalk piece ...
Since I already established Mike Trout as my choice to be named American League Most Valuable Player, I'll jump the gun by a few days on the other awards as well. Here's my rundown for the 2016 winners.
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Cubs
AL Cy Young: Rick Porcello, Red Sox
NL Cy Young: Jon Lester, Cubs
AL Rookie of the Year: Michael Fulmer, Tigers
NL Rookie Of the Year: Corey Seager, Dodgers
AL Manager of the Year: Jeff Banister, Rangers
NL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Cubs
The toughest call for me was AL Cy Young. But in the end, the 21-4 record owned by Porcello as well as his season-long consistency was the determining factor. Plus, I'm a Red Sox fan.
I split a pair of baseball plays on Tuesday evening. The Phillies were good, and the Brewers weren't. No damage done, and basically a break even day.
I'm adding a fourth college play with more to come over the next couple of days. That fourth play is the one I'll use in ...
I already know I'm probably backing the wrong horse here. But I feel very comfortable in making this case for one of the major awards in baseball, and I'll sum up my reasoning in a couple of paragraphs. Feel free to argue the point, but know in advance I won't budge off my opinion.
I don't have a vote that counts, but my choice for American League Most Valuable Player will yet again be Mike Trout.
Here's my case in a nutshell. One, Trout remains the best player in the game. That opinion can be backed up easily enough, as he's once again the leader by a substantial margin in WAR (wins above replacement). He's also just better than everyone else. That's not a slap in the face to Mookie Betts or Josh Donaldson or Jose Altuve or Manny Machado, who are each enjoying sensational campaigns. But go ahead and try to convince me that if you were handed a new franchise and had your choice of any active player to start your team with, you'd pick anyone other than Mike Trout.
So that ...
Here's the Monday rundown of some of the misleading final scores from the past week's college football games. I've also got a few other notes from games that didn't fall into that category but feel are worth mentioning.
Boston College was completely overwhelmed at Virginia Tech. The first thought while watching this carnage was that the staunch BC defense might already be showing signs of wearing down. This has to happen at some point thanks to the three and out offense that is starting to look every bit as inept as last year's outfit.
Connecticut was outplayed by Virginia, but the Huskies managed to come back from an early deficit and got lucky when the Cavaliers walk-on kicker missed a 20 yard field goal at the conclusion of regulation.
East Carolina dominated South Carolina, but the Pirates could not stop turning the football over in the red zone. Brutal loss for ECU in a game they clearly should have won.
Memphis won easily against Kansas, with the Jayhawks making it ...
There's a quick segment on the Monday edition of The Las Vegas Sportsline (ESPN Las Vegas, 2-3 PDT weekdays) called the "Clown of the Weekend", and I think it's safe to say we have a strong leader in the clubhouse based on the Saturday college results. No, it's not me. I had a lousy Saturday and have to rate dishonorable mention, but even mine wasn't as bad as one particular head coach at a very high profile university. Dust off the hot seat time? I don't know if I'll go that far, but let's just say Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich is going to get roasted by college football media and fans alike over the next couple of days. I'll save the particulars for the show on Monday.
As for myself, I had three winners that covered the spread by substantial margins. I had three losers that were absolutely awful picks. I had three close games, and lost them all. Two were on missed two-point conversions, the other on a late touchdown when a field goal would have sufficed, and that adds up to a ...
I've featured two free college plays and one in the NFL for the upcoming weekend. One of the college games is on my card, while the other will remain in the opinion category. The NFL comp is presently in limbo as to whether it will make my card, as I have yet to issue any personal plays on the pro side.
Here's one more college free play, which is an added opinion. I'll have an NFL side in the Sunday blog that will definitely be a personal service selection. The idea is to make sure there are two or three service calls each week. So far the added opinions have worked out very nicely, and I'll hope this one does as well.
157 LOUISIANA TECH at 158 TEXAS TECH
Take: LOUISIANA TECH +11
Louisiana Tech is catching doubles from a Texas Tech team that can't defense anything. That's the condensed version of why the Bulldogs should have an excellent chance to be in this game all the way.
Here's some additional thought on this game and it mostly centers on Texas Tech. Yes, the Red ...
Two quick thoughts from Thursday's baseball slate.
The Red Sox scored an enormous comeback win over the rival Yankees, and if Boston holds on to win the AL East, this might well be the critical win that made it happen. I thought Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a tactical error here. Dellin Betances had worked back to back nights, so no problem if this was a scheduled night off for the Yankees closer.
But it evidently wasn't as Betances ended up inheriting a mess left by two prior relievers and the big righty got rocked, with Hanley Ramirez eventually providing the big walk-off bomb to win it for the Red Sox.
Simply stated, if you're going to use Betances, you bring him in to start the bottom of the ninth and not wait to see if you can get by with other guys. Girardi might have micromanaged himself to a spot on the sidelines come October as this was a very damaging loss for the Yankees.
Then there's a thought regarding the lack of a quick hook by Orioles skipper Buck ...