If you are a sports betting enthusiast like all of us at BangTheBook.com are, then you probably start thinking about the betting impact of the day’s top stories. Not every top story has a relevance to betting, but you probably try to connect the dots anyway. In a new feature each weekday, we will take a look at the top six sports stories of the day in an article titled the Daily Six Pack. They say that an apple day keeps the doctor away. Well, we like to think that a six pack a day keeps the bookie away.
With that, let’s take a look at the six top stories for Thursday February 26:
A Relapse in Judgment
We begin the Six Pack with a sad story today and the name of the article is an unintentional example of irony given this news bit. The latest reports are that Josh Hamilton self-reported a relapse to Major League Baseball. Hamilton’s backstory is very well known. The former super prospect got caught up in drugs and alcohol and nearly ruined his MLB future, but he rebuilt himself as a player, got healthy, and put on one of the most epic Home Run Derby shows to become a public darling and an example of second chances in sports.
Hamilton has relapsed at various points in his career, twice with alcohol in 2009 and 2012. The unconfirmed report is that Hamilton used cocaine. Newly minted commissioner Rob Manfred has the final say in Hamilton’s punishment. Hamilton was facing drug tests three times a week as part of his contract with the Angels, but the reports are that Hamilton admitted his usage before a positive test, which could play a role in the disciplinary action taken by the league.
No matter what discipline Hamilton faces, this is a sick individual that needs help. I’m going to get on a soap box here in the Six Pack today. Addiction is a dangerous disease. I’ve never had an addiction and have never been directly affected in my family, but I know friends that have and it is a devastating illness that turns every day into a struggle. Josh Hamilton needs help. In his case, even one beer can be considered a relapse and that means walking a very fine line. Teammates likely have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner on the road. Aches and pains become magnified because narcotics and heavy painkillers could send Hamilton spiraling downward. Not to mention, he has a lot of money, so anything he wants is available to him.
Manfred can set an excellent precedent for Major League Baseball if he vows to help Hamilton in getting assistance. Keep him off the field until he meets certain benchmarks or criteria, but don’t “suspend” him in a literal sense. Allow him to be around the game and around his teammates. He needs a support system. He needs baseball. Appearing sympathetic while still maintaining a hard stance on Hamilton’s eligibility would be a great look for a new commissioner and that’s what Manfred should do. Hamilton is not some idiot athlete who likes to have fun. He has a problem that he needs help with.
As an aside, if anybody out there reading this is dealing with addiction, get help. There are plenty of places to do so and there are tons of success stories about addicts overcoming their problems. Don’t hurt yourself or others. Help yourself and help others by being an example of what treatment can do.
The Rick and Rondo Show
In yesterday’s Six Pack, I mentioned the problems between Rajon Rondo and Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle. Rondo’s public insubordination was met with a one-game suspension on Wednesday night. The Mavericks responded by getting blown out by the Atlanta Hawks. This is a really bad situation for the Mavericks. Rondo was supposed to be the missing piece to facilitate the offense. Not only has he been a disappointment as a player, it appears that his character issues are going to exacerbate the problem.
There’s also an issue with Carlisle here. Mavericks players that were asked about the whole thing noted how Rondo is a veteran and how he knows how to play the game. There’s enough veteran leadership in the room to let the players police themselves and Carlisle seems to be taking too big of a role in this situation. Yes, he’s the head coach, but these aren’t 20-year-old college kids or a high school team.
It seems like a toxic situation. At this point, it’s fair to wonder if Carlisle has the respect of any of the veterans on the team. He’s been there for a while, but this Rondo situation is new territory for everybody and there’s no question that it’s affecting the entire team.
Bet against or avoid the Mavericks going forward. This could get a lot worse before it gets better.
Blue Devils Nearly Take a Dook
The Duke Blue Devils kept their #1 seed hopes in tact by escaping Blacksburg with an overtime win over the Virginia Tech Hokies. The Blue Devils missed 11 free throws and allowed the Hokies to shoot 12-of-22 from beyond the arc in the 91-86 win. Virginia Tech entered the game with a 2-12 ACC record and they averaged less than 66 points per game before the offensive explosion. They hadn’t cracked the 60-point mark in their last three games against Clemson, Miami, and NC State.
This wasn’t even a look-ahead spot for Duke. Every team is prone to games like this, so it’s not something to be overly concerned about, but Duke has wins by 3, 8, 2, and 5 points over their last five games and their only big win came without Jahlil Okafor.
At this point, it might be wise to look at somebody other than Duke to win the ACC Tournament. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for Duke to get some extra time off before the NCAA Tournament and the grind of the regular season seems to be getting to them. Struggles at the free throw line tend to be signs of fatigue, so that’s worth watching.
The Young and the Homeless
The NCAA caused a stir on social media yesterday when news broke that Silas Nacita, a walk-on football player at Baylor, was deemed ineligible for receiving impermissible benefits. As the story goes, Nacita, a Cornell University transfer, was unable to enroll at Baylor in 2013 and wound up sleeping on friends’ coaches and floors while taking community college classes online to continue his education. Nacita was offered financial assistance for an apartment by a family friend, which, of course, is a big no-no in the eyes of the NCAA.
The most unfortunate thing about this story so far is that Baylor appears uninterested in fighting with the NCAA about the ruling. Nacita scored three touchdowns last season in garbage time for the Bears, but they don’t seem to be willing to go to bat for the kid.
Then, the plot took a major twist. The official NCAA account tweeted out that they did not rule Nacita ineligible.
Who knows what will happen with this entire thing, but a bright college kid in his early 20s that was smart enough to get into an Ivy League school has his life hanging in the balance because of grown adults that don’t seem overly concerned about his well-being.
My best guess, which is clearly speculation, is that Baylor knew of his eligibility issues prior to the end of the season and they don’t want any backlash from sanctions, that could include a reduction of scholarships. At that point, the athletic department told Nacita that the NCAA ruled him ineligible. This is just opinion, so shoot the messenger if you want, but it seems like the most plausible scenario to me.
Get Some Cold Cuts
The NFL offseason is always a trying time for veterans that affect the salary cap and a handful of them were released by their respective teams on Wednesday. Jacoby Jones, Reggie Bush, AJ Hawk, and Peyton Hillis were all given their walking papers. On Tuesday, Mathias Kiwanuka was another offseason casualty. Ricky Jean Francois was dealt the same fate on Monday.
Teams are trying to position themselves financially to be players in free agency and restructure contracts for their big players. A lot of players will be changing zip codes over the next several months and it would benefit you to stay updated on the latest transactions because it’s going to be hard to play catch up entering the 2015 NFL season. You’ll want to have your ducks in a row to start making futures plays and win total bets and that means paying attention to what the teams have done throughout the spring and summer months. Just watching the NFL Draft isn’t enough. You’ll be surprised how much better you can do during football season by staying up-to-date with depth charts and power rankings.
NHL Injury Update
Updating yesterday’s NHL injuries, Patrick Kane is out until the playoffs with a broken collarbone. Kane was the Blackhawks leading scorer. Also, an American-born player has never won the Hart Trophy for the NHL’s regular season MVP. Kane had a good shot to do that this season, but the drought will run to 92 years instead.
Speaking of American-born players, Ryan Miller is out 4-to-6 weeks for the Vancouver Canucks with a lower-body injury. This is a big injury from a perception standpoint, but Eddie Lack is a very capable backup and some NHL bettors would argue that Lack is an upgrade over Miller. There’s going to be a major reaction in the betting market for the loss of Miller, specifically in the futures market. Vancouver doesn’t have a shot at winning the Pacific Division, but they would be an interesting team in the playoffs. If they can hang on for the #2 or #3 seed in the division and avoid Anaheim, they can certainly make the conference semifinals and then you could consider a hedge.
In some other NHL news, the Los Angeles Kings added Andrej Sekera for the stretch run and Minnesota picked up Sean Bergenheim from the Florida Panthers. Winnipeg picked up Jiri Tlusty from Carolina and Pittsburgh picked up quality depth player Daniel Winnik. The NHL’s Trade Deadline is on Monday, so expect a lot of deals to go down over the next five days.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.