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 Wednesday February 18:
Spring Has Kind Of Sprung!
Spring Training starts today for four teams, while most of the country is dealing with freezing temperatures, mountains of snow, slippery, icy roads, and a wide scale outbreak of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, and San Francisco Giants will have pitchers and catchers officially reporting today. A lot of players are already in camp, including Pablo Sandoval.
Lots of hope for the Blue Jays... This version of Pablo Sandoval reported for Red Sox camp pic.twitter.com/ofXhJn0n4q
— David Bastl (@DavidBastlTSN) February 18, 2015
Sandoval drew some criticism from people that recently had retina transplants or saw a picture of him for the first time for being fat. Sandoval has always been a big dude and has played third base just fine, so there’s no reason to worry about that. It’s that time of year where everybody is desperate for baseball news and photos of warm weather, so it’s not a surprise that this was met with such a big reaction.
The good news is that our long national nightmare of snow and cold will give way to lots of rain and then finally sunshine in the near future now that Spring Training has officially started.
Kentucky improved to 26-0 after struggling through the first half against Tennessee. The Wildcats outscored Tennessee by 14 in the second half to barely cover the double-digit number and solidify their best start in school history. Wichita State started 26-0 last season. Illinois was the last major conference team to start with 26 straight wins back in 2003-04.
Tennessee was just 2-of-17 from beyond the arc and that’s a big reason why the game got out of hand. Neither team held a rebounding edge at the final buzzer and Kentucky also put the game away at the free throw line, going 17-of-21 at the stripe, while Tennessee was just 4-of-10. What we’re finding is that it takes a flawless game to beat Kentucky. I still don’t like their NCAA Tournament prospects because they haven’t played a team capable of beating them since they played Louisville, which was nearly two months ago.
Auburn and Mississippi State will be the next victims as Kentucky moves to 28-0 in anticipation of their stiffest test of the conference season against Arkansas on February 28.
Kentucky is a hard team to bet on or against right now because they can show up like they did against South Carolina whenever they want or coast to a win when they choose to do that. In some respects, they’re like betting on an NBA team. Auburn and Mississippi State are terrible, so be careful backing them, even with the inflated spreads.
Arts and Crafts With A-Rod
Alex Rodriguez wrote a handwritten apology to fans, players, teams, the MLB, and the Players’ Association that, of course, went viral. If you haven’t seen it, here’s an image of the heartfelt apology:
Alex Rodriguez penned a handwritten note to apologize to his fans: http://t.co/5MLXPWvrDZ (photo via @MLB) pic.twitter.com/uv66f9H69P
— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) February 18, 2015
The ongoing saga with Alex Rodriguez is nauseating. Some people probably still hold a lot of animosity towards A-Rod, but all that remains to be seen is whether or not he can still hit. All of this is nothing more than a charade if Rodriguez comes to camp and fails to hit. That will be the first test, but the regular season is a completely different animal. This half-assed attempt at image repair is quite embarrassing. Walk out onto the field and prove that you can hit 25 bombs with a respectable set of statistics and people will start to forget about how you cheated and then blatantly lied about it.
The dichotomy between the Rodriguez saga and what has happened lately with Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi is fascinating to watch. All three players got a competitive advantage by cheating the game. Pettitte and Giambi owned up immediately and worked hard to repair their reputations and relationships with their teammates. Pettitte is having his number retired and Giambi was beloved by his former teammates and coaches. Alex Rodriguez has no fans. He has no support.
The baseball world was so much better when PEDs were no longer discussed. There will be another big discussion as proven users, or those suspected of using by association, keep popping up on the Hall of Fame ballot. A generation of writers and scribes that grew up with the inflated offensive numbers of the 1990s will start to get Hall of Fame votes over the next few years. Do players like Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, or Roger Clemens get in at that point?
NFL Footballs Deep Into Patriots Investigation
Speaking of stories that won’t go away, the NFL is still using resources to dive into the scandal with the New England Patriots. Locker room attendant Jim McNally reportedly tried to sneak a special teams ball into the game during the first half of the AFC Championship Game. It’s unclear whether or not McNally is the same attendant that disappeared for 90 seconds with a collection of footballs that he or she took some air out of before returning to the field.
It’s easy to see why this is such a huge story for the NFL. This is tampering with the integrity of the game. You know, the reason why sports betting isn’t legal. That’s always the crux of the argument from the major sports leagues. Integrity. Clearly the NFL’s strong suit.
My question at this point is whether or not this is going to be the bombshell that the NFL thinks it’s going to be. It’s clear that some sort of tampering took place given that 11 of the 12 footballs were underinflated. That’s far more than coincidence. Do people care? That’s the question that I have. Teams get home field or home court advantages in sport all the time. Baseball teams can cut the grass a certain way based on the opponent (whether or not they have speed), basketball teams could always tighten the rim before the game or during halftime to get an edge. It’s a little bit harder in other sports and the obvious solution to this would be to have NFL representatives supply the ball rather than trusting a team to supply a ball within the constraints of the rules.
Players always get advantages in subtle ways as well. Hockey players can use illegally curved sticks. MLB pitchers can put a dab of Vaseline in a discreet place to change the spin of the ball. They can scuff the ball. Hitters can use an illegal bat that probably won’t be checked.
Something went wrong with what the Patriots did and they got caught. Have other NFL teams done this in the past? Probably. I really wonder what kind of story this becomes if the NFL finds, without a shadow of a doubt, that major tampering took place. It would probably be a bigger story if the game wasn’t a 45-7 blowout. In a 28-24 game, this might be a major exposé.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
The NBA Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching and the most recent name on the chopping block is Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns. The Trade Deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m.
For more thoughts on the Trade Deadline, check out today’s Betting the Buckets NBA Betting Podcast with Cole Ryan.
Bad Start for the Dodgers
Kenley Jansen, one of the 10 most valuable relief pitchers in baseball last season, will miss 8-to-12 weeks thanks to a growth on a bone in his foot. Jansen already had surgery, but he is expected to be on crutches for 10 days and in a walking boot for up to a month. After that, it will be a slow rehab process with running, throwing, and then, perhaps most importantly, building up his arm strength.
Pitchers that miss Spring Training spend a good portion of the season trying to regain lost velocity and sharpen their command. Fortunately for the resource-rich Dodgers, there are still some good relievers on the market, including Rafael Soriano, Joba Chamberlain, and Francisco Rodriguez. Either way, it’s never a good thing to enter Spring Training with an injury before pitchers and catchers officially report.
The Dodgers win total was set in the 92 to 92.5 range. Look for our season preview and a free pick on their win total on Saturday.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.