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 Friday February 6:
Back on the Mend
Tiger Woods withdrew after 11 holes at the Farmers Insurance Open with a score of 2-over, leaving many that wasted their money on his 50/1 pre-tournament odds to wonder what they were smoking and if they could get some more, but to be enjoyed while away from their computer, smartphone, or bookie. All jokes aside, the precipitous decline from Woods is unlike any that we have ever seen in sport. He dominated a game that takes an incredible amount of precision and mental acumen to play with consistency. Woods has now withdrawn from six of his last 65 events after withdrawing from just three of the 253 events he played from 1992-2009.
Most of the athletes that are listed in the “great” or “elite” categories played team sports. They had help. Woods plays an individual sport that relies solely on his talent and the coaching advice of those around him. That doesn’t mean that great players in team sports should be discredited, it’s just a nod to how incredible Tiger Woods was in his prime. Those days are so far behind him at this point that it’s just sad.
Brooks Koepka, the winner of last week’s Phoenix Open, shot a very strong 6-under 66 to tie for third after the first day. Koepka could be a name to watch on Tour this season. The 24-year-old finished fourth at Pinehurst in the U.S. Open last season and 15th at the PGA Championship at Valhalla.
In terms of other notable names, Ian Poulter tied for fifth with a 5-under 67 on Thursday. Rickie Fowler, Luke Donald, and Padraig Harrington all carded 69s. Keegan Bradley finished 1-under for the day and Phil Mickelson shot an opening round 73 through 15 holes before a late start due to foggy conditions suspended play.
Chris Paul’s Variety Hour
After losing 105-94 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chris Paul, the head of the National Basketball Players Association, took out his frustrations on NBA referee Lauren Holtkamp. The Clippers were whistled for five technical fouls in the game, including one credited to Paul. Maybe the Clippers’ reputation preceded them into Cleveland. They lead the league in technical fouls with 58 and have now led the league in three of the last four seasons. Last season, the Clippers fell all the way to second (!) in technical fouls.
Paul said after the game that “this (reffing in the NBA) may not be for her” during his comments to the media about her quick trigger with the technicals. Not all of the technical fouls were called by Holtkamp, but her gender immediately became the story because it was an easy angle for media outlets to latch onto.
More than anything, it was frustration from Paul, who will probably end up issuing an apology to Holtkamp as a PR olive branch. The Clippers are five games into an eight-game road trip and they are 2-3 through the first five games with back-to-back losses and a quick turnaround in Toronto on Friday night.
It might be wise to fade the Clippers on the rest of this trip. They’re a tired, frustrated team and they seem ready for the All-Star Break.
The Best of the Best
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is going to gain a lot of fans if he keeps this up. After writing an op-ed piece a couple months ago to advocate discussion about legalized sports betting, Silver told the media on Thursday that he wants to talk to the NBA’s competition committee about turning the playoffs into the 16 best teams in the league, instead of the top eight from each conference. Considering that the #7 and #8 seeds in the Eastern Conference are going to finish the season under .500 once again this season, this is an idea that fans will welcome with open arms.
There are a lot of hurdles for this process, but it’s refreshing to see Silver understand what good playoff basketball means to the league and its brand. Nobody wants to watch Atlanta or Cleveland sweep a 35-47 team in the first round of the playoffs. But putting a team like New Orleans in the playoffs would add to the intrigue. The logistics would be a major concern with teams like Phoenix or the Clippers having to travel all the way to Atlanta, Washington, or Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs and those east teams would have to trek west as well. Teams with closer geographic matchups would have a big advantage the rest of the way in the playoffs. And, of course, the Eastern Conference owners are going to hate this idea because the teams in the Western Conference are much better at the bottom of the playoff picture than those in the East.
Nevertheless, it’s fun to think about the 16 best teams actually playing for a championship rather than leaving a 48-win Western Conference team home for a sub-.500 Eastern Conference team.
Martinez A Hobbled Hitter
Victor Martinez will miss a good portion of Spring Training with a torn meniscus in his left knee. The Detroit Tigers are already expected to be without Miguel Cabrera for Opening Day and the team has to have some worries about their offense in the month of April. Martinez missed all of 2012 after suffering a torn ACL and the runner-up in the 2014 American League MVP voting is now 36 years old. Martinez also had microfracture surgery in 2012, so this is a player whose health is a serious concern.
Martinez is one of the game’s best pure hitters. The luxury of being in the American League has likely prolonged his ability to be effective because he can be the designated hitter, but this latest setback has to be a concern for the Tigers.
The Tigers are the favorite to win the AL Central, but they are skating on thin ice right now. Max Scherzer signed with the Washington Nationals and the Tigers traded away Rick Porcello to acquire Yoenis Cespedes and fix their hole in left field. With Cabrera recovering from ankle surgery, Martinez rehabbing the meniscus tear, and some serious questions about Justin Verlander, the Tigers are nowhere near a lock to win the AL Central. As win totals come out next Friday, look for teams like the Indians and Royals to see a minor bump in expectations with this injury news.
A Manfred of the People
New MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has already discussed ways to appeal to the casual fan and increase offense in the game, but now he has taken it up another notch and has appealed to the gambling masses. Manfred spoke with Bob Ley on ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Thursday and said that Major League Baseball needs to give “fresh consideration” to legalized sports betting. Keep in mind that daily fantasy sports are not only legal, but many leagues have formed partnerships with these entities over the last couple of years.
Manfred cited the need to sit down with the owners and determine an institutional position. ESPN’s David Purdum did an excellent job summing up what Manfred had to say in his latest article.
Obviously this would be huge for the push to legalize sports betting. A lot of handicappers will scale back operations or avoid betting on baseball altogether, which may or may not be something that Manfred is aware of. It would be a good way for MLB to grab more of that casual fan market share, which is also Manfred’s goal by changing the game to increase offense.
There will be reservations and somebody is sure to cite the fact that the MLB season has 162 games, so it’s far less costly to “throw” a game for the sake of some particularly persuasive gamblers than it would be in other sports. But, it’s a start. Just like it’s a start with the NBA. Just like it’s a start the NHL is considering Las Vegas as a site for games, while keeping an open mind about sports betting.
Keep an eye on this going forward because Manfred certainly seems more progressive in his approach than Bud Selig has been over the last decade.
NCAA Still Out of Touch
The NCAA is not the poster child for how to run a business. Instead of doing the smart thing and moving next season’s College Football Playoff semifinals to January 2, when there is literally nothing going on, the NCAA will keep the semifinal games on….New Year’s Eve. ESPN pushed for the date change, for obvious reasons, but the NCAA refused to budge. It would have been far more convenient for everybody involved if the NCAA simply moved the games two days, but that will not be the case for 2016. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told the media that the NCAA believes that games on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are “the right model for college football”.
Everybody romanticizes about New Year’s Day football because they can nurse a hangover while planted on the couch watching football. Nobody thinks that New Year’s Eve football is a good idea. Well, except for the people in power in the NCAA. New Year’s Eve is a Thursday in 2015, so the 9-to-5ers will enjoy a three-day weekend to recover from the December 31 festivities, but that’s a ratings killer for the networks. January 2, 2016 is a Saturday. It’s hard to find any practical reason why the NCAA kept the games on December 31, but finding practical reasons why the NCAA does anything is a hard task.
Ripping a Winston
In his Mock Draft 2.0 version, Todd McShay assigned Jameis Winston to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. This could change over the course of the 475 mock drafts that McShay will put together at ESPN’s request leading up to the draft’s first round on April 30. McShay had the Buccaneers taking Marcus Mariota with the first pick in his first mock draft.
It’s an ESPN Insider article, so there’s no point in linking it here, but Winston is the only pick that McShay shows to non-subscribers. Here at BangTheBook.com, resident NFL expert Cole Ryan is putting together a 32-team series outlining every NFL team’s needs and the pick that they will make. Check out the Buccaneers here. All 32 first round picks will be posted at our NFL page by tomorrow evening and the top 20 are already there.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.