Tell Me I’m Crazy: If Some is Good, More is Better

[Trying to catch up on some old posts, here.  There will be plenty of Ryan Howard and Eagles draft stuff once I get a chance.] 

Yes, for the most part, when it comes to sports, I am a purist.  I hate the Designated Hitter.  I hate the Wild Card.  I hate the X-Games.  I even hate the sports mockeries that are the current day All-Star Games.  So, it would seem to make sense that on an issue where everyone seems to be against changing the format of one of my two favorite sports, I would be in agreement with the masses.  But…

Expand the tournament?  Sure.  Why not?

Maybe I’m crazy; maybe I’m not.

I have heard all the arguments, and some of them make a lot of sense.  Here are some of the most popular arguments against expansion that I have heard.  I tried to put them in order of how often I’ve heard them expressed:

  1. The current format is perfect, why mess with it?
  2. You’re going to let in some bad teams.
  3. It’s going to kill the conference tournaments.
  4. The only reason it’s even on the table is because the coaches want expansion to give them more job security because they’re more likely to “make the tournament.”
  5. Can you really take the kids away from class for that long?
  6. It’s going to kill the NIT.

Let me try and respond to them one at a time:

  1. The current format is perfect, why mess with it?  Yes, it is BY FAR the best annual sporting event on the planet.  (The Olympics might be a better all-around sporting event, and the World Cup definitely is, but they are not annual events.)  It would be hard to find someone that loves the NCAA tournament more than I do, so I do see some merit in this argument.  BUT…I do not think that the fact that there are 65 teams is the reason it’s so great.  I think it was probably great with 16 or 32 or 48.  I know it was great with 64.  Then, it went to 65, and it’s still great.  Honestly, it is not complicated why the tournament is what it is.  It is such a wonderful event because there is just so much basketball.  There are the amazing stories of small schools versus big schools, fans from small towns of 1,500 people versus those from multi-million-person metropolitan areas, and teams of country-tanned farmboys against teams of hard-knocked survivors of America’s inner cities.  Will any of this change if we went to 96 or 128 or 256?  Yes, one thing and one thing only–there will be MORE games.  More buzzer-beaters.  More Ohio U over Georgetown upsets.  More Bryce Drews; more Stephen Currys; more George Masons; more overly-excited child-like players we’ve never heard of picking up fat, Gatorade-drenched coaches we’ll never hear from again.  In a word, more MADNESS!
  2. You’re going to let in some bad teams.  First of all, let’s be honest, at 96 or even 128, the teams aren’t bad.  It’s not like 1-26 Marist is going dancing.  It will just be more middling big-conference teams and more second- and third-place mid-majors.  Am I scared that the entire Big East (except DePaul, of course) is going to make the tournament?  Sure, I am.  Do I think that North Carolina or UConn deserved a shot at winning the national title last year?  Absolutely not.  Am I excited about watching a matchup between 15th-seeded Mississippi State and 18th-seeded Texas Tech?  Not really.  But, in the context of March Madness, sure, I’ll watch that game.  I’ll watch any game.  In fact, I didn’t hear one person complain about Georgia Tech-Oklahoma St., Clemson-Missouri, or Texas-Wake Forest this year.  And, why not?  Because it was the NCAA tournament, and it was awesome.  Just like that Mississippi St-Texas Tech game would have been.  In fact, two of the more intriguing first-round games were Xavier-Minnesota and Marquette-Washington, and those were games that pit middling teams in bigger conferences.  Again, we’re talking about more madness.  How is this a bad thing?
  3. It’s going to kill the conference tournaments.  This is an argument that gets a lot of play, and I understand the concern and why people think that, but I just flat-out do not agree.  First of all, if this is true than the current format would be killing tournaments like the Big East and ACC, who enter every year with about half the field pretty comfortable with their inclusion.  Yet, we still see amazing, heartfelt games all the way through.  Both Syracuse and UConn were comfortably in the tournament two years ago, yet they played 6 overtimes in a Big East tournament game.  As much as the media is trying to take it away, there is still a lot of cache and a lot of bragging rights in the conference tournaments.  Obviously, the goal is to win a national championship, but they still hang banners for conference championships.  What is the difference between Ohio St. and Purdue this year?  They both made the tournament.  They both made the Sweet Sixteen.  But, Ohio St. won the regular season and the conference title.  Those kids get to relish in a conference title.  OSU is going to hang a banner that says “2010 Big Ten Champions.”  Purdue?  Well, they had a nice season.  They have stories of what could have been if Hummel wasn’t hurt.  But, they don’t have what the Ohio St. kids have for eternity.  No matter what you do to the NCAA tournament, these kids will play hard when it’s time to crown a conference champion.  That’s for sure.
  4. The only reason it’s even on the table is because the coaches want expansion to give them more job security because they’re more likely to “make the tournament.”  Now, I don’t know if this sentiment does exist among the coaches, but I do know that people are using the perception of this sentiment as a strike against expansion.  First of all, the rationale of “we shouldn’t expand because it’s only what the coaches want” is not really a logical argument.  Second of all, I think that if the coaches do actually feel this way, then they are way off-base.  I actually think that tournament expansion is going to hurt coaches’ job securities.  Look at Seth Greenberg.  He made a living off of his team’s “snub.”  He may have actually gained more national attention for his program and himself, as a coach, than say Florida St. who did make the tournament as a 9-seed and bowed out in the first round to Gonzaga.  Everyone was talking about Virginia Tech.  Everyone had an opinion on whether or not they should have gotten in.  That is actually good for Seth Greenberg, his job security and his program.  But, what if they got a 17-seed and lost in the first round?  Just another one of 96 teams that got in and didn’t do anything.  And…even more so, imagine the 97th team or the 108th team.  The teams that do not make the 96-team field–particularly those from big conferences.  How can their coaches look their ADs in the eye and say “bring me back for another year, we’re on the right track.”  Think about Mark Gottfried.  He brought Alabama’s program back to national prominence, including a brief stint at #1 in the country in 2002 and three straight tournament appearances.  But, in the next 6 seasons, they only made the tournament once (and probably would have only made a 96-team field once or twice).  Yet, Gottfried kept coming back (for the record, I think Gottfried is an excellent coach).  Imagine, though, if a proud program, like the Crimson Tide, in a big conference like the SEC, missed a 96-team tournament even TWO years in a row?  Gottfried is gone.  I do not think that tournament expansion will help coaches keep their jobs.  I actually think might have the opposite effect.
  5. Can you really take the kids away from class for that long?  Hahahahahahahahahahaha.  Hold on…hahahahahahahahaha.  Seriously, people?  This argument is absurd and probably not for the reasons that you think I’m going to cite.  I’m not going to talk about how the term “student-athlete” is a joke because I don’t think it is.  I think a couple O.J. Mayo’s ruin the reputation of a huge group of young men and women who are successfully juggling the pressure of big-time athletics with the rigors of higher education.  But, let me tell you something about this argument.  It’s a joke.  Student-athletes are used to being away from campus.  Going to 96 teams would add one extra game for 64 teams.  That means that 64 teams would have to miss two more days of class.  But, it’s during the season.  How accustomed to being away are these kids?  Hell, Boston College and Miami (FL) are in the same conference, which means every year the BC kids fly 1,500 miles for a road in-conference game.  And, think about the Maui Invitational or the Great Alaska Shootout.  Granted some of these are over winter breaks, but you get the point.  This is a ridiculous argument.
  6. It’s going to kill the NIT.  I actually kind of care about this, to be honest.  I don’t want to see the NIT get swallowed up by the NCAA tournament.  The NIT has been around longer than the NCAA tournament, and for the first two decades or so, was considered college basketball’s “national championship.”  It is a really good basketball tournament with a lot of tradition.  Granted, it is no reason to hold up expansion of the Big Dance, but it will be a sad byproduct if it ceases to exist.  And, for the record, the first ever NIT champions?  The Temple Owls.  Fight, fight, fight for the Cherry and the White!

All in all, there are certainly drawbacks from expansion.  But, in my opinion, if some is good (and “some” madness is DEFINITELY good), then more is usually better.  You never know when you’re going to get a monumental performance, so why not give us 95 NCAA tournament games and, therefore, 95 chances to be amazed.  More Madness!

Tell me I’m crazy…

Phillies Semi-Weekly Report Card #3

Record since last Report Card:  3-3

Overall Record: 11-7 (1st in division)

The injuries keep coming, and the Phils play another .500 week.  J.A. Happ hit the DL this week, Placido Polanco missed a game after taking a pitch off the elbow, and Juan Castro (J-Roll’s replacement) missed today’s game with a strained hamstring.  On the plus side, J.C. Romero came back (and promptly gave up a homer to the first batter he faced), and Brad Lidge and Joe Blanton are both pretty close to making their season debuts.

Position Players: Not an overly eventful week offensively.  They still lead the NL in runs, but not by much, and they basically sputtered along this week, putting up about 4 runs a game.  The two biggest guns, Chase Utley and Ryanvic rob Howard, had terrible weeks, and when you don’t get production from the 3-4 hitters, that makes it tough.

They continue to play really well defensively, especially in the Halladay shutout on Wednesday.  In that game alone, Victorino robbed a home run, Castro made a great play to his left (that was finished by a great scoop from Howard), Utley and Castro hooked up for a key double play, and Howard made a diving play to his right in the 9th. 

Grade: C+

Starting Pitchers:  Much like the offense last week, the starting pitchers appeared headed for an A+ through the first few games, but it came apart a bit late in the week.  Still, all in all, an excellent week from this bunch.  Kyle Kendrick started it off with his first good game of the season, going 8 shutout innings.  The masterful Halladay pitched his second complete game the following night, without giving up a run.  And Jamie Moyer gave up no earned runs on Thursday.  In those three games, the starters pitched 23 innings without giving up an earned run.

Cole Hamels ended the hot streak with a dismal outing on Friday, in which he gave up four homers.  After a very serviceable spot start from Nelson Figueroa on Saturday, Kendrick followed in Hamels’s footsteps by posting a disappointing effort after a breakout start.  He gave up a 5 spot in the 5th for a no-decision.

Grade: A-

Bullpen:  This unit is heading in the wrong direction.  They from an A- to a C+ last week, and the downward movement continued.  The week started off with a stomach-punch loss in Atlanta, when Ryan Madson came into the 9th inning with a 3-0 lead, then gave up back-to-back 2out homers that tied the game.  One of the worst things about that inning was the leadoff walk with a 3-run lead and, of course, it came back to haunt him.  Atlanta phenom Jason Heyward hit the tying shot.  I am NOT gonna like that guy.  Jose Contreras came on in the 10th and gave up a walk-off shot to the first batter he faced.

The pen also finished the week on a sour note, today in Arizona.  They couldn’t hold a one-run lead, with Baez and Herndon combining to give up 3 runs in an 8-6 loss.  The pen does get credit for Saturday’s performance though, when they went four shutout innings to hold onto for a 3-2 win.

Grade: C-

Expect Some Big Moves for the Birds Tonight

A couple quick thoughts on tonight’s first round for the Birds:

  1. They have a TON of picks and not all that many glaring needs, so expect them to trade up in the first round.
  2. I think the focus needs to be, primarily, on the defensive side of the ball. 
  3. They need at least TWO defensive backs that can step in and play right away.  It would be nice if one of them was a starter in 2011.  I wouldn’t be shocked if they traded up for either Texas safety Earl Thomas or Florida cornerback Joe Haden.  If they can land either of those two, it’s a successful first day, no matter what else happens.  Also, if they don’t want to trade up, they should have a couple options at #24, be it Boise St. corner Kyle Wilson, Alabama corner Kareem Jackson, or even Rutgers corner Devin McCourty.
  4. My dream situation tonight (other than somehow getting Eric Berry) is for them to trade up to land Thomas
  5. They also could use a linebacker, so guys like Brandon Graham from Michigan, Sean Weatherspoon from Missouri, or Jerry Hughes from TCU might be options.  Personally, I think the best-case scenario from a linebacker scenario tonight would be to somehow land either Rolando McClain from Alabama or Sergio Kindle from Texas.
  6. I know it might be tempting to take an interior O-lineman, and I usually advocate to start on the lines, but right now, I think they desperately need playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.
  7. I just hope they don’t take a D-tackle tonight (unless it’s a guy named Suh).

McNabb and Pat the Bat

-I still haven’t gotten around to laying out my take on Donovan McNabb and his time as an Eagle, but, in the meantime, The Onion,  as usual, has a hilarious take on it, with plenty of truth thrown in.

-And a note on another long-time Philly athlete that had his ups and downs: Pat Burrell.  I turned on the Rays-Red Sox game this afternoon and Pat was batting. It was the first time I’d seen him at-bat since the ’08 World Series.  Pat promptly lined a ball deep into left-field, hitting high up on the Green Monster in Fenway.  Of course, the camera cut to him chugging his way around first base and I knew all too well what was coming next.  He was out at second by five feet.

Quick Pitch: Ernie Sims to the Birds

The Eagles have announced a three-way trade that has netted them a 25-year old, playmaking linebacker, Ernie Sims, reports ESPN’s Adam Shefter.

Personally, I am actually pretty excited about this.  (Excited enough to make a post about it during baseball season.)  In 2006, the Birds were sitting at #14 in the draft, and I was really hoping that Sims would fall to them at that spot, but the Lions snapped him up at #9.  That is the draft where the Eagles got Broderick Bunkley at #14 and traded up for Winston Justice at #39.  Now, they get Sims, just entering his prime at a position at which the Eagles are incredibly weak right now, for a 5th and a 7th-rounder.  Nicely done.

Phillies Semi-Weekly Report Card #2

Record since last Report Card: 3-3

Overall Record: 8-4 (1st in division) 

The Phils ended the second week of the season with a loss to the Marlins today, and that means it’s time for our second semi-weekly report card.  Just when it seemed like this team had established an early-season identity of mostly mediocre pitching off-set by spectacular offense, they go out and drop a 2-0 game.  The lesson: it’s a LONG season, and though these grades I’m handing out in April may be interesting to think about, they don’t mean all that much in the grand scheme of things.

utleyPosition Players:   Through the first four games of this week, the position players appeared well on their way to posting a second straight ‘A’.  They scored 34 runs in those four games, raising their season average to a whopping 7.7 runs per game.  But, shockingly, over the last two games they managed just one run, resulting in their first back-to-back losses of the year.

The big news at the start of the week was Jimmy Rollins hitting the DL with a strained right calf.  That’s proven to be a small problem so far, as Juan Castro has combined solid defense with timely hitting from the 7-spot in the line-up.  He had big hits in the two come-from-behind wins over the Nats early in the week, and a couple more RBIs on Friday night against the Marlins.

As the week went along, the big news became Chase Utley, who is off to another red-hot start at the plate.  He homered in the first four games of the week, giving him the ML lead with 6.  Another positive trend I saw this week was that Ryan Howard hit a groundball the opposite  way for an RBI single on Monday.  After that, the Nats took the big overshift off.  It would be great if Howard could add that ability to his hitting. 

On the negative side, Raul Ibanez has continued to struggle.  He was 2-20 at the plate, dropping his average to .171, with no homers.  Ben Francisco made his first start of the season in his place today and picked up a double and a walk.  Ibanez hasn’t let his struggles affect his defense though.  He made a big diving catch on Friday night.  I remember when we signed Ibanez and people said he was as bad as Burrell in LF.  He’s no Gold Glover, but this guy catches balls that Burrell wouldn’t get with fifteen feet of.  I think these fielding metric stats still need a lot of work if they’re going to be suggesting things like that.

Position Players: B+

Starting Pitchers:  It was another erratic week for Phillie starters, but I think the big news is what Cole Hamels did today.  He pitched into the 9th inning and gave up 2 runs, one of which was more Madson’s fault.  I still have my concerns about Cole, especially considering his weak outing on Monday, but this game was a great step in the right direction.  Not much to say about Mr. Halladay this week.  He cruised to a win with a line that matched Cole’s: 8 innings, 2 runs.  J.A. Happ had another good outing, but couldn’t go deep into the game again.  Also, he has a slight injury and may miss his next start.

On the negative side, Kyle Kendrick got lit up on Wednesday and looks to be on his way out of the rotation when Blanton returns.  Jamie Moyer took a loss thanks to 5 1st inning runs surrendered on Saturday, though he did settle down to go five scoreless innings after that.  Blanton threw successfully in a bullpen session.

Starting Pitchers: C+

Bullpen:  After starting off the week strong again, the bullpen did take a turn for the worse.  We had to suspect it might be coming.  Bastardo (1 run), Baez (3), and Madson (2) combined to give up  6 runs in Thursday night’s 7-5 loss to the Nats.  The next night, David Herndon came in to pitch the 9th with a 6-run lead and imploded, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits, before Madson came in to finish the game.

On the plus side, Nelson Figueroa has been excellent as the long man, Jose Contreras has been impressive in limited work, and Chad Durbin is yet to give up a run on the season.

Bullpen: C+

Non-Phillies Note:  That 20 inning Mets-Cards game last night was great.  I got home around 7 o’clock and saw it was 0-0 in the 10th.  I watched a couple innings of the Phils game, then watched an entire movie, then saw that the Mets and Cards were still at 0-0 in the 17th inning! In the 18th, the Cards put infielder Felipe Lopez on the mound.  The second batter of the inning was a Mets reliever that had made his ML debut the previous inning.  After fouling off about 8 pitches, he hit a groundball to SS.  The throw went over Pujols’s head, but he went and got it and fired to second.  The pitcher let up well before the bag and was tagged out!  It was madness in St. Louis.  The Mets got a run in the 19th, and they somehow still had Frankie Rodriguez available for the save opportunity, but he blew the save.  The Mets finally won in 20.  Isn’t baseball great? 

Baseball Challenge – First Update on Overall Team Trends

Below we will update yesterday’s results from the Challenge and do tonight’s picks, but first I want to update the overall team trends.  Like I said in the first post, one of the more interesting aspects of following this baseball season by Vegas lines is so that we can see what teams are outperforming expectations (at least those expectations as determined by the bookmakers).  There is a host of things we can do with all this data that we are collecting, so we will vary our updates throughout the season, but I want to just start with the simple concept of “If you were to bet $100 on every Yankees game this season, what would be your return on investment?”  Let’s just start with that.  Below is a table of all the MLB teams and the profit you would make on them if you had wagered $100 on them to win every day this year (as dictated by the opening money lines on one of the offshore internet gambling sites).  NOTE: Negative values are in parentheses.

Bet $100 ON:

  1. Toronto (6-3) = $438.33
  2. Minnesota (6-3) = $361.30
  3. San Francisco (7-2) = $309.14
  4. Philadelphia (7-1) = $271.81
  5. St. Louis (6-2) = $242.24
  6. Kansas City (4-5) = $195.00
  7. Pittsburgh (4-5) = $165.00
  8. N.Y. Yankees (5-3) = $157.30
  9. Arizona (5-3) = $112.18
  10. Tampa Bay (6-3) = $111.32
  11. Cincinnati (5-4) = $94.83
  12. Oakland (6-4) = $91.43
  13. Texas (5-3) = $82.63
  14. Detroit (6-3) = $47.01
  15. Florida (5-4) = $23.10
  16. Colorado (5-3) = $19.90
  17. Chi Cubs (4-4) = $19.48
  18. Washington (3-5) = ($27.00)
  19. San Diego (3-5) = ($69.00)
  20. Boston (4-4) = ($80.25)
  21. Atlanta (4-4) = ($109.60)
  22. Seattle (4-6) = ($140.80)
  23. Milwaukee (3-5) = ($169.09)
  24. Chi WSox (4-5) = ($194.17)
  25. L.A. Angels (3-6) = ($285.58)
  26. L.A. Dodgers (3-5) = ($295.01)
  27. Cleveland (2-6) = ($325.00)
  28. N.Y. Mets (2-6) = ($444.08)
  29. Baltimore (1-8) = ($640.00)
  30. Houston (0-8) = ($800.00)

But, I thought this measure, while interesting, weighted losses a bit too heavily, so I wanted to look at what would happen if you decided that you wanted to bet $100 AGAINST the team every game?  Well, here is what you’d have.  I ranked them in opposite order of profit in order to show the best-performing team (by this metric) on top.

Bet $100 AGAINST:

  1. Philadelphia (7-1)
  2. San Francisco (7-2)
  3. Toronto (6-3)
  4. St. Louis (6-2)
  5. Minnesota (6-3)
  6. Tampa Bay (6-3)
  7. Cincinnati (5-4)
  8. Colorado (5-3)
  9. Oakland (6-4)
  10. N.Y. Yankees (5-3)
  11. Texas (5-3)
  12. Pittsburgh (4-5)
  13. Chi Cubs (4-4)
  14. Florida (5-4)
  15. Kansas City (4-5)
  16. Arizona (5-3)
  17. Detroit (6-3)
  18. Washington (3-5)
  19. Seattle (4-6)
  20. San Diego (3-5)
  21. Atlanta (4-4)
  22. Boston (4-4)
  23. Chi WSox (4-5)
  24. Milwaukee (3-5)
  25. Cleveland (2-6)
  26. L.A. Dodgers (3-5)
  27. L.A. Angels (3-6)
  28. N.Y. Mets (2-6)
  29. Houston (0-8)
  30. Baltimore (1-8)

But, the same problem comes with this measure, except that it too heavily weights wins, so I decided to put the two together with a simple average.  Then, in grouping them in divisions, we can have the ADJUSTED STANDINGS.  You want to solve the unfairness of the haves and the have-nots?  Well, let’s use adjusted salaries to account for some of the inherent advantages of the Yankees and Red Sox.

NL EAST:

  1. Philadelphia = $418.90
  2. Florida = $58.90
  3. Washington = $7.68
  4. Atlanta = ($92.30)
  5. N.Y. Mets = ($445.35)

NL CENTRAL:

  1. St. Louis = $304.60
  2. Cincinnati = $136.72
  3. Pittsburgh = $133.50
  4. Chi Cubs = $58.12
  5. Milwaukee = ($160.24)
  6. Houston = ($656.76)

NL WEST:

  1. San Francisco = $379.57
  2. Arizona = $95.02
  3. Colorado = $86.50
  4. San Diego = ($29.53)
  5. L.A. Dodgers = ($294.88)

AL EAST:

  1. Toronto = $403.45
  2. Tampa Bay = $197.28
  3. N.Y. Yankees = $148.08
  4. Boston = ($97.63)
  5. Baltimore = ($598.54)

AL CENTRAL:

  1. Minnesota = $363.49
  2. Kansas City = $136.79
  3. Detroit = $46.01
  4. Chi WSox = ($166.90)
  5. Cleveland = ($272.86)

AL WEST:

  1. Oakland = $119.35
  2. Texas = $99.83
  3. Seattle = ($62.78)
  4. L.A. Angels = ($315.57)

Okay, well, on to today’s Challenge… 

[If anyone wants to join us in their picks, just let me know via email or comment below and I’ll start sending you the morning lines.  All you have to do is wager “BSB dollars” on any MLB games you want.  The dollars can be divied up any way you wish, up to $100 each day.  We’ll track the progress periodically on the blog.  There is no obligation at all.  Do it every day, once a week, once a month, or whatever.]

PICKS – APRIL 15:
Both of us took $10 shots at a couple road ‘dogs (the Brewers in Chicago and the Angels in New York).  And, for the second night in a row, we are head-to-head in the Boston-Minnesota game.  Doogan won last night with the Sox and is trying to ride them again today against Francisco Liriano.  Bry likes the Twins to bounce back tonight and beat up on 98-year old Tim Wakefield.

Doogan:

  • $25 Atl (-135) @ SD
  • $20 Bos (+105) @ Min
  • $20 ChW (+110) @ Tor
  • $15 Ari (-105) @ LAD
  • $10 Mil (+150) @ ChC
  • $10 LAA (+160) @ NYY

Bry:

  • $25 Oak (-150) vs. Bal
  • $25 Ari (-105) @ LAD
  • $15 Fla (-150) vs. Cin
  • $15 Min (-125) vs. Bos
  • $10 Mil (+150) @ ChC
  • $10 LAA (+160) @ NYY

RESULTS – APRIL 14:
Both contestants have HUGE days on Wednesday.  Doogan goes over $200 in yearly profit, as Bry tops the $100 mark.

Doogan:

  • $30 Atl (-145) @ SD = WON $20.69
  • $20 Bos (-135) @ Min = WON $14.81
  • $15 LAA (+175) @ NYY = WON $26.25
  • $15 TB (-145) @ Bal = WON $10.34
  • $10 Cin (+105) @ Fla = LOST
  • $10 Mil (+125) @ ChC = LOST
  • Daily Total = + $52.10
  • Season Total = + $228.31

Bry:

  • $25 Sea (-105) vs. Oak = WON $23.81
  • $25 Atl (-145) @ SD = WON $17.24
  • $15 LAA (+175) @ NYY = WON $26.25
  • $10 TB (-145) @ Bal = WON $6.90
  • $10 Tex (-115) @ Cle = WON $8.70
  • $10 Min (+115) vs. Bos = LOST
  • $5 Ari (+165) @ LAD = WON $8.25
  • Daily Total = + $81.14
  • Season Total = + $137.51

Baseball Challenge – Doogan’s Perfect Saturday Continues His Impressive Start

[If anyone wants to join us in their picks, just let me know via email or comment below and I’ll start sending you the morning lines.  All you have to do is wager “BSB dollars” on any MLB games you want.  The dollars can be divied up any way you wish, up to $100 each day.  We’ll track the progress periodically on the blog.  There is no obligation at all.  Do it every day, once a week, once a month, or whatever.]

PICKS – APRIL 14:
Doogan tries to right the ship after the Perfect Saturday hangover cost him back-to-back losing days.  Bry will try and continue the momentum from a HUGE Tuesday.  Pretty similar picks today, as we both have Atlanta on a big bet and Tampa, Texas, and the Angels on smaller bets.  We do go head-to-head on one pick, as Doogan has $20 on the Red Sox, while Bry has $10 on the Twins.

Doogan:

  • $30 Atl (-145) @ SD
  • $20 Bos (-135) @ Min
  • $15 LAA (+175) @ NYY
  • $15 TB (-145) @ Bal
  • $10 Cin (+105) @ Fla
  • $10 Mil (+125) @ ChC

Bry:

  • $25 Sea (-105) vs. Oak
  • $25 Atl (-145) @ SD
  • $15 LAA (+175) @ NYY
  • $10 TB (-145) @ Bal
  • $10 Tex (-115) @ Cle
  • $10 Min (+115) vs. Bos
  • $5 Ari (+165) @ LAD

RESULTS – APRIL 10:
Bry’s birthday was actually a fantastic day for Doogan, as he goes 7-for-7 on the day.  The highlight of the perfect day?  Hitting the biggest upset pick of the Challenge so far with the Pirates at +220 against Dan Haren in Arizona.  Bry wasn’t so perfect as he dips back under the Mendoza Line.

Doogan:

  • $20 Was (+114) @ NYM = WON $22.80
  • $20 Phi (-133) @ Hou = WON $15.04
  • $15 Sea (-145) @ Tex = WON $10.34
  • $15 Atl (-125) @ SF = WON $12.00
  • $10 ChC (+101) @ Stl = WON $10.10
  • $10 Tor (+120) @ Bal = WON $12.00
  • $10 Pit (+220) @ Ari = WON $22.00
  • Daily Total = + $104.28
  • Season Total = + $217.57

Bry:

  • $20 NYM (-124) vs. Was = LOST
  • $15 CHW (+113) vs. Min = LOST
  • $15 ChC (+101) @ Cin = WON $15.15
  • $15 Phi (-133) @ Hou = WON $11.28
  • $15 Oak (+140) @ LAA = LOST
  • $10 TB (+130) vs. NYY = LOST
  • $10 Tor (+120) @ Bal = WON $12.00
  • Daily Total = – $21.57
  • Season Total = – $9.71

RESULTS – APRIL 12:
Both contestants took Sunday off.  On Monday, Bry inched back towards even, while Doogan took a small step back after the brilliant Saturday.

Doogan:

  • $25 Mil (+135) @ ChC = LOST
  • $20 ChW (-125) @ Tor = WON $16.00
  • $15 Was (+235) @ Phi = LOST
  • $15 Tex (-110) @ Cle = WON $13.64
  • $15 Hou (+190) @ Stl = LOST
  • $10 TB (-155) @ Bal = WON $6.45
  • Daily Total = – $18.91
  • Season Total = + $198.65

Bry:

  • $20 Mil (+135) @ ChC = LOST
  • $20 Chw (-125) @ Tor = WON $16.00
  • $15 Fla (-155) vs. Cin = LOST
  • $15 SF (-175) vs. Pit = WON $8.57
  • $10 Cle (-110) vs. Tex = LOST
  • $10 Min (+130) vs. Bos = WON $13.00
  • $10 SD (+135) vs. Atl = WON $13.50
  • Daily Total = + $6.07
  • Season Total = – $3.64

RESULTS – APRIL 13:
Bry hits two big bets on favorites and one small bet on a big dog for his best day of the Challenge.  Doogan hits three of his seven for another slight backstep.

Doogan:

  • $15 TB (-125) @ Bal = WON $12.00
  • $15 ChW (even) @ Tor = LOST
  • $15 Oak (-135) @ Sea = LOST
  • $15 Col (-150) vs. NYM = WON $10.00
  • $10 NYY (-180) vs. LAA = WON $5.56
  • $10 KC (+120) @ Det = LOST
  • $10 SF (-200) @ Pit = LOST
  • Daily Total = – $22.44
  • Season Total = + $176.21

Bry:

  • $35 TB (-125) @ Bal = WON $28.00
  • $35 Det (-140) vs. KC = WON $25.00
  • $10 ChW (even) @ Tor = LOST
  • $10 Pit (+170) @ SF = WON $17.00
  • Daily Total = + $60.00
  • Season Total = + $56.36

BSB Phillies Semi-Weekly Report Card #1

halladayThis will be the first installment of a new column here on the blog.  Throughout the baseball season, we’ll post updates on the Phils and hand out grades for position players, starting pitchers, and the bullpen.  The intent is to post the update on a weekly basis but it might be longer than that sometimes.  For each post, the grades will be based on what has happened since the last column went up.  There will also be grades handed out at the one-quarter mark, half-season, three-quarter mark and, of course, a cumulative grade handed out at the end of the season.

So, let’s take a look at the first week of the season, which wrapped up today with a Roy Halladay complete game victory in Houston.  The Phils swept the series and will take a 5-1 record, and plenty of momentum, into their home opener against the Nationals tomorrow afternoon.  Now, it’s hard to get too overly excited about the hot start because the Nats and Astros are two pretty bad teams.  On the other hand, considering the Phils recent history of mediocre to bad Aprils, it’s nice to see them get off to the strong start, no matter who they’re beating.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt to build some confidence and a nice spot in the standings in advance of starting the meat of the schedule.

Position Players:  Granted, they haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of pitchers, but the Phils’ bats have picked up right where they left off and they’ve hit the way we’ve come to expect.  They’re leading the majors in runs scored, averaging just over 7 runs a game.  They scored at least 5 runs in each of the first 5 games.  Of course, it’s no coincidence that they scored just 2 today, with Roy Oswalt on the mound for Houston. 

The lone newcomer, Placido Polanco, came back with a bang, as he hit a grand slam and drove in 6 runs on Opening Day.  He didn’t stop there, as he has 13 hits already.  He’s shown some signs that he’s still adjusting to playing third base (like when he didn’t get to the bag in time on a bunt today), but I think he’ll be fine there.

Jimmy Rollins has started to erase memories of his abysmal first-half in ’09, with a hot start at the plate that included a leadoff homer today.  He’s scored at least one run in all six games.  Raul Ibanez hasn’t been terrible, but after his disappearance down the stretch last year and a poor spring, he’s worth keeping an eye on to see if he’ll find his power stroke.  Ryan Howard has 3 bombs already, including a mammoth shot into the upper-deck in right-center field in Washington the other day.  For a guy who generally starts slow, that’s been great to see.

Position Players Grade: A

Starting Pitchers:  Well, Blue Jays fans are probably pretty used to this storyline: there’s Halladay, and there’s the other four guys in the rotation.  To the surprise of no one, Halladay has been dominant, winning both of his starts and surrendering just one earned run in his 16 innings of work.  He also has a K:BB ratio 17:2 so far.  He’s, uh, good.

As for the rest of the rotation, there wasn’t a quality start to be found.  In fact, only Jamie Moyer went more than 5 innings, and he gave up 5 runs in his 6 innings.  J.A. Happ did look good in his start on Friday night, but 103 pitches for 5 innings is nothing to write home about, even if he gave up no runs.  Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick were both unimpressive.  In the end, though, it’s the first week of the season and it’s just one start.  Let’s not start drawing conclusions.  Cole gets a chance to redeem himself at the Bank tomorrow.  You better believe the boo birds will be out if he doesn’t.  I’m sure the hunt is on for a new whipping boy with Donny Mac out of town.

Starting Pitchers Grade:  B-

Bullpen:  For this group, no news (or little news, at least) is good news.  Considering the struggles of last year, and also that Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero are on the DL, two of last year’s most reliable relievers (Eyre and Park) are gone, and that no major additions were made in the offseason, this first week has to be considered a big success for the pen.  Ryan Madson converted a save in his only opportunity.  Danys Baez surprised me by hitting 97 on the radar gun in Houston on Saturday night, and Chad Durbin, David Herndon, and Jose Contreras combined to pitch 8.1 scoreless innings.

Bullpen Grade:  A-