The Betting Corner: Opening Day

ccsabathia

Opening day is finally here. It’s always hard to handicap the first week of any baseball
season. What do you pay attention to? Do you just look at team acquisitions? Do you
pay attention to Spring Training? Do you look at specific match-ups? How about a
specific pitchers history vs a specific team?

In my opinion, its a little bit of everything rolled into one. The fewer relevant stats that
are available the more you’ve got to go with your gut and experience. For opening day,
the lines have been up since 8:30 AM PST this morning and they’ve already begun
moving against us (for the most part). Getting the best possible line in baseball is
crucial, but in a very different way than football or basketball. The spread doesn’t
move (with the exception of totals), but your bets can become more expensive or hold
less value with moneyline movements in the wrong direction. Most people don’t realize
that if every one of your bets jump from -110 to -125, it forces you to win an extra 3.18%
of your bets to break even. That may not seem like a lot, but when you’re betting every
day and grinding out an entire season, winning 56 games out of 100 is way different
than winning 53 games out of 100.

For me, I’ve got 3 accounts with 5Dimes, William Hill, and Station Casinos giving me a
greater opportunity to shop around. But enough small talk. To the first plays of the
season.

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**1 Unit – Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees (+118)

This line opened up this morning at +125 but has since moved in the wrong direction
(for us anyways). Jon Lester has killed it this spring giving up only 2 earned runs in 24
IP (0.75 ERA) while striking out 20. Even before this spring I was high on Lester for this
season so it only validates where he stands as the Sox ace. His counterpart in CC
Sabathia has been nursing his new surgically repaired elbow (removed bone
fragments) since October and his low 10 IP and 5.40 ERA this spring tells me he can’t
possibly be 100%.

Jump to the two offenses, New York is aging and riddled with injuries. For Monday’s
game; Granderson – OUT, Texeira – OUT, Jeter – Day to Day (unlikely to play), Hafner –
Day to Day (unlikely to play). That leaves us with the likes of Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix,
Eduardo Nunez, and Ben Francisco to respectively take their spots in the lineup. The
Sox are short David Ortiz but have the firepower to fill the void with their new offseason
acquisitions. Seems like a no brainer at + odds. Contemplated a 1.5 unit play but it’s
still Opening Day in New York City and in no way will be a cake walk for the sox.

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1 Unit – Detroit Tigers (-1.5) at Minnesota Twins (-125)

There’s 180 million reasons for this play, and I think anyone who’s got a pulse knows
who each of those reasons are pointing to. Justin Verlander is now the highest paid
pitcher in MLB history and rightfully so. He’s a past MVP, CY Young award winner, and
has World Series experience. That last point is another reason why this is a solid play
IMO. The last time Verlander pitched on a competitive stage was game one of the
2012 World Series where he had one of his worst outings of the year. He didn’t make it
past the fourth inning while giving up five earned runs. The Tigers would later get
swept in 4 with Verlander unable to even start a second game. With the new contract
behind him, you know he’s going to want to come out strong not only to make amends
for the last game he pitched; but to prove he’s worth the money as well.

Vance Worley on the other hand is a #3 starter at best had he been on a contending
team and won’t be able to subdue the defending American League champs. Outside
of Morneau, Mauer, and Willingham, the Twins simply don’t have the personal to go
punch for punch with the Tiger’s, regardless Verlander is on the mound or not.

___

1 Unit – St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks Under 8.5 (-105)

I Still have yet to bet this game because I think by tomorrow night we might be able to
get it at Under 9. Regardless it does or doesn’t, I still like the play at 8.5. I’m a little
baffled as to why most the other totals on this card are at 7.5 or even less. Wainwright
sports a career 2.54 ERA in 10 games against Arizona who is now without the likes of
Chris Young and Justin Upton via trades.

Ian Kennedy has struggled against St. Louis in the past but this Cardinals team begins
the season with veterans David Freese and Rafael Furcal on the 15 day DL. With both
teams having fresh bullpens, this is the kind of game I see finishing in the 4-2 range.

___

Good luck, and lets start off Opening Day with a bang.

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Jeremy Murray
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TheCover4.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.

All information regarding gambling is intended to be purely educational from an academic perspective, and not to actually encourage gambling. We are in no way condoning gambling and are not affiliated with any and all casinos/sports books mentioned.

Iginla to the Pens: Shero’s Mastery or Feaster’s Failure?

There’s no denying Penguins general manager Ray Shero is damn good at his job. He’s assembled quite a supporting cast for the cornerstone players he inherited when he took over for Craig Patrick in May 2006 (Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby).

But let’s ease up on the credit being given to Shero after Thursday’s early morning surprising trade in which he managed to steal Calgary legend Jarome Iginla for a first-round pick, a soft pack of Winstons and some plywood.

No, it wasn’t Shero’s mastery — which has been displayed in acquiring Pascal Dupuis, James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Chris Kunitz for a couple of used needles. It was the complete and utter incompetence of Calgary general manager Jay Feaster, who since taking over the position, has been on a consistent run of franchise-crippling decisions.

Let’s give a little background on Feaster. Sure, he’s a Stanley Cup-winning general manager (Tampa Bay in 2004) but he is on an impressive streak of mind-bogglingly stupid decision-making. Since taking over for Darryl Sutter following the 2010-11 season, Feaster has managed to make people around hockey wonder how he created a Stanley Cup-winning roster in Tampa.

The biggest mistake happened at the end of February. Feaster signed Colorado center Ryan O’Reilly to a two-year offer sheet worth $10 million. For those of you unfamiliar with the workings of NHL contracts, O’Reilly was a restricted free agent. Any team could sign O’Reilly, but Colorado could match the offer and O’Reilly would have been forced to go back to Colorado. If Colorado didn’t match, the Avalanche would receive a first and third-round pick.

Feaster and the Flames decided that O’Reilly was worth the draft picks, but Colorado quickly matched. OK, no big deal. The risk was worth it, right?

Not so fast. Feaster neglected to recognize that O’Reilly played a couple of KHL game after the NHL season was underway. Because O’Reilly wasn’t on the Flames’ reserve list, he would have had to go through waivers in order to join Calgary’s roster. O’Reilly would have certainly been claimed, thus Feaster would have his lost his first-round pick (almost certainly a top-10 pick) as well as his third for nothing.

Feaster was also widely mocked for signing bottom-pairing defenseman Dennis Wideman to a five-year, $26.25 million contract. Additionally, he spent his first-round pick on Mark Jankowski, NHL Central Scouting’s 43-best player, from a Quebec high school that has yet to produce an NHL player.

Iginla shouldn’t have been a Flame this year. Calgary has been downtrodden for a few years, but Feaster refused to recognize the need to rebuild. Had Feaster done the smart thing and tried to trade Iginla at the trade deadline last year, the return would have been much higher.

So yes, Shero was dealing with one of the NHL’s most incompetent general managers when negotiating for Iginla. Shero had shown has wasn’t adverse to overpaying for rental players, sending top prospect Joe Morrow to Dallas for Brenden Morrow and two second-round picks to San Jose for Douglas Murray. For some reason, Feaster failed to recognize that and gave Iginla away when he didn’t have to.

The trade deadline was still six days away and if Iginla, as reported, was only willing to waive his no-movement clause to go Pittsburgh, Feaster could have waited a couple more days and continued using Los Angeles and Boston to drive up the price from Pittsburgh.

Instead, Feaster crumbled under pressure and likely secured his firing at the end of the season.

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This is Madness!

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March Madness. A tournament unlike any other in sports. The brackets. The bubble teams. The beauty of college basketball in its pursuit for a champion. A time when a group of men can reference Cinderella and not feel uncomfortable about doing so. The NCAA tournament gives every team an opportunity to get hot and make a run at a title. In a year where parity made its name a cliché, the term “madness” never seemed so appropriate in anticipation for the 68-team NCAA tournament.

This era of college basketball constantly sees its stars heading for the NBA draft early ─ typically after their freshman year. All the best talent is looking for the paycheck, leaving the next tier of players leading all the elite schools in college basketball. This year, there seems to be a combination of mediocre teams and mediocre players. Hence, there have been many teams who experts deem capable of making a run at the NCAA championship. It’s been madness the entire season and it’s not just the usual madness of the huge upsets.

Heading into the sweet 16, there are certainly some Cinderellas marching on, but in fact, 11 of the 16 teams left are four seeds or better. Florida Gulf Coast is this year’s team that no one has ever heard of. Most people think this school name is more appropriate for the Weather Channel than for college basketball. But this is not where the madness lies. It is the fact that only one team (Louisville) has looked the part of a juggernaut, and they have not truly been tested yet, playing a 16 and an eight seed. Every other team has looked vulnerable and beatable at times in their matchups. The lack of elite teams allows for more possible outcomes for the remaining games. It is truly a tournament where there is no favorite.

The basketball purist would say that the lack of superstar talent leads to better team play, truly allowing the best team, not group of individuals, to win. However, to most outsiders not following this basketball season, the games seem uninteresting and low scoring.  There have been some final scores in this tournament that the Oregon football team at which it would scoff. It all results from the same source, the lack of talent. This next NBA draft might be the worst I can remember. It’s sad when Brittney Griner, the Baylor women’s basketball player, is arguably college basketball’s best player. She could probably compete for some of these top teams, and I am not being sarcastic.

The main point we all must realize is that there aren’t more good teams this year, just less great teams. The lower seeds might get an upset here and there but most have already been weeded out of the tournament. The parity can be described best with the play of the good of the good, not the best of the best. Gonzaga is a prime example. When has it ever been a debate where the number one team in the nation should deserve a number one seed when there are four of them to be had? Only this year. Miami (FL) has been labeled the fifth number one seed, even though they are a number two seed. And with no surprise, Gonzaga is the only number one seed eliminated. It is because it is not a great team. There are none.

Most viewers think that the “madness” portion of the tournament has ended. The field has been shaved down from 68 to 16, with the rampant amount of games coming to an end. But now with the good of the good remaining, the madness I believe is just beginning. You can throw away all the numbers in front of the teams now, because the remaining teams are all similar. As a matter of fact, the coaches are more famous than the players these days, another point illustrating the state of  college basketball

Florida Gulf Coast will probably lose its next game and Louisville will probably advance to the elite eight. This is the only thing I can assert confidently about the rest of the tournament. Not even the bookies in Las Vegas can predict the rest of the games. The parity is about to take shape and most people who filled out brackets don’t even know it yet. This is all because this is a generation of college basketball where no superstar ever stays for four years. Heck, if a great player makes it to his junior year it’s a miracle.

All the top basketball talent moves on to the NBA, leaving college basketball ─ especially this year, ─ with a lot of good teams with mediocre talent compared to years past. The usual contenders Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, Syracuse and Ohio State are still dancing. No surprise there. But other teams like Miami (FL), Michigan, Florida and Indiana have just as good of chance of winning it all this year. The names of the schools speak louder than the play of the players. This year, the March Madness is there, just in a new and unique way. It is all opinion if it is good or bad for the sport. I know one thing for a fact that I can be sure of, this year more than ever, you cannot be sure of anything regarding the top teams in college basketball. Let the madness truly begin.

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The Cover 4 Bracket: Sweet 16

We are down to some very sweet, sweet ladies.  Keeping with the March madness form, there were some major upsets, and the participation has been amazing thus far.  For that, we turned up the heat a bit with the pictures, so we hope you enjoy.

Here is your Sweet 16 for The Cover 4 Bracket.  Let’s go!

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(1) Alex Morgan (Soccer) vs (4) Caroline Wozniacki (Tennis)

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(3) Gretchen Bleiler (Snowboarding) vs (2) Lindsey Vonn (Skiing)

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(1) Jennie Finch (Softball) vs (4) Hope Solo (Soccer)

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(6) Amanda Beard (Swimming) vs (7) Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car)

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(1) Anna Kournikova (Tennis) vs (4) Ellen Hoog (Field Hockey)

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(3) Danica Patrick (Racing) vs (2) Maria Kirilenko (Tennis)

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(1) Leryn Franco (Javelin) vs (4) Malia Jones (Surfing)

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(3) Heather Mitts (Soccer) vs (2) Ana Ivanovic (Tennis)

Finding the Upset Specials

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After one of the most unpredictable college basketball seasons in recent history, filling out your bracket will be one tough and exciting task. Let’s admit it: anything can happen in March on a neutral floor with college kids playing in the biggest games of their life.

Two 15 seeds knocked off 2 seeds in their first game last year, so naturally everyone is looking for similar upset specials as the chaos of Thursday and Friday draws closer and closer. No matter how much research and analysis you do, it seems like you always miss that one X-factor that leads an unheralded mid-major over a national powerhouse. So for your informational benefit, here is a region-by-region look at some upsets that you can expect, and why.

Midwest

(12) Oregon vs (5) Oklahoma State

You all know the statistic about 12s beating 5s, and this game will continue that trend (for the record, Oregon was originally an 11, but was moved down in the bracketing process). No doubt the selection committee rewarded Oregon for winning the Pac-12 tournament by slotting them in San Jose for the first weekend, which should provide a decent crowd advantage for the Ducks. Before Dominic Artis went down with an injury earlier this season with a foot injury, Oregon was a top-10 team. With him back in the line-up, expect them to return to that form as they did in the Pac-12 tournament and take down Freshman of the Year candidate Marcus Smart and the Cowboys. If this game was at a more neutral location it would be a coin flip, but it’s hard to ignore the close proximity Eugene (8 hour drive). The Ducks are a much better team than their seed indicates now that Artis is back and will pull off the upset.

(10) Cincinnati vs (7) Creighton

This is an upset only when it comes to seeding, not in pure talent. Creighton won the Missouri Valley in a down year with Doug McDermott having another Player of the Year caliber season. Cincinnati lost to Georgetown in the Big East Tournament. So what makes this upset so clear? Creighton has one huge problem: no balance on the offensive end. McDermott is the only player averaging double figures. Additionally, the Blue Jays lost at home earlier this year to Boise State, a team who relies heavily on its guards. Cincinnati is a more physical version of Boise in that they also rely heavily on guards in Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright, and JaQuon Parker. McDermott can’t do it all by himself, and the Bearcats will be a matchup nightmare for their mid-major counterparts. Ultimately Cincinnati is the best team on the floor in this match-up regardless of what the seeds say.

West

(10) Iowa State vs (7) Notre Dame

If you saw the game earlier this year when Iowa State got hosed at home by the officials against Kansas, you know they can play ball. Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones play hard all 40 minutes and have a ton of talent in the backcourt with senior guards Korie Lucious and dynamic scorer Will Clyburn. Notre Dame is a rare breed in college basketball starting two true big men in Jack Cooley and Tom Knight. The Fighting Irish get consistent play out of their guards, but have some startling losses to teams like Connecticut, St. Johns, and Providence in conference. The Cyclones will spread out the Irish and contain their big men enough inside to pull off the victory.

belmont

(11) Belmont vs (6) Arizona

One of the more popular upset picks in this year’s field, Ohio Valley champion Belmont brings an exciting small-ball style out to Salt Lake City to face sputtering Arizona. The Wildcats were ranked in the top 5 for much of the season, but fell off track as they entered Pac-12 play. They have tons of talent in Mark Lyons, Nick Johnson, and Brandon Ashley. If they can take advantage of their size, they can avoid the upset. However, their track record this year shows they struggle against quicker teams like Belmont with losses to UCLA and Oregon, as well as to California who is very guard-heavy. Belmont scores a lot of points (rank 15th in the country) and shoots a high percentage (4th best in the country) presenting a huge challenge for the Arizona defense. Look for a balanced Bruins attack to take down the Wildcats in what should be an exciting game.

South


(11) Minnesota vs (6) UCLA

It’s hard to trust a team to win when a coach (UCLA’s Ben Howland) admits their best player (Shabazz Muhammad) has one foot out the door. UCLA has a short but talented rotation that has shown flashes of brilliance this year through the Wear twins, Kyle Anderson, and Larry Drew II. The major question is whether or not they will be completely focused coming into this game, and how much will their stars with one eye on the NBA really care if they win or lose? Minnesota lost a heartbreaker to Illinois on a buzzer-beater in the Big Ten tournament and will be highly motivated to get past their first game in the Big Dance. They have struggled since their win over #1 Indiana on February 26, but Trevor Mbakwe has a lot to prove as a senior who has not played up to his potential and should step up and lead the Gophers along with guards Andre and Austin Hollins (no relation).

Nate Wolters

(13) South Dakota State vs (4) Michigan

South Dakota State’s win at New Mexico earlier this year may have been a fluke, but it did show something important: They can win in a hostile environment against a good team. The crowd at The Pit was exponentially louder than whatever they will face in Auburn Hills on Friday, not to mention the altitude factor. They have a star guard in senior Nate Wolters (look up his stats, they are insane) with three other upperclassmen averaging double-figure scoring. Based on talent, location, and conference affiliation, Michigan should win this game. However, as good as Trey Burke has been this season, he disappeared at times when they needed him the most and that can’t happen when you run the show for your team. It’s not a lock, but don’t be surprised if the Wolverines get caught looking ahead to a potential match-up against Virginia Commonwealth and exit the tournament early.

East

 

(13) Montana vs (4) Syracuse

The Montana Grizzlies are an interesting match-up for Syracuse. They are a small team that relies on three guards for the majority of their points, and lacks an established inside scoring presence. If this game wasn’t a cross-country trip away from New York, the Orange would be the obvious choice, but it’s in San Jose. Montana has played a lot of tough teams this year, coming up short several times, but may have the proper formula to crack Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. More importantly, their guards have the potential to wreak havoc on Michael Carter-Williams and the Syracuse backcourt. However, if the Cuse can lock down the Grizzlies’ guards and they get caught settling for too many outside shots, this game could be ugly the other way as well. The main factor will be how the travel impacts the Orange and how they handle playing in the Pacific Time zone.

Mike Muscala, Darryl Shazier

(11) Bucknell vs (6) Butler

The last time Butler had a seed this good, they made it to the Final Four as a 5 seed. They are used to being on the Cinderella end of March upsets, but this time they may be the victims. Bucknell’s star player is center Mike Muscala, the best big man you’ve probably never heard of. He dominates both ends of the floor with his inside scoring and shot-blocking abilities that are as good as anyone not named Nerlins Noel. He’s not a one man show though with three other players averaging double-figures. Their schedule has some impressive victories and close losses on the road at Missouri and Penn State. Butler also has some big wins, but they have not been the same down the stretch as they were earlier this season when they beat Indiana and Gonzaga. Senior center Andrew Smith is back after missing some time with an injury, and will be a key part of trying to slow down Muscala on both ends. He has to stay out of foul trouble if Butler has any chance of winning. In the end, Muscala patrolling the paint on defense and the balanced Bison offense will be too much for the Bulldogs who won’t have any March magic this time around.

 

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David Oleson
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The Impossible Upset

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The college basketball regular season has finally ended and we can finally all start looking forward to the only portion of basketball anyone cares about- March Madness. The NCAA tournament offers the perfect opportunity for an underdog to thrive and annually provides some great underdog stories. If Gordon Hayward’s final shot against Duke had gone in during the 2010 National Championship game, it would have been one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Two years ago we got to watch Butler go for it again against 11-seed Virginia Commonwealth University in the Final Four.  Butler beat them out to go against UConn and win the award for the least thrilling National Championship game I have ever seen. Last year, we didn’t even have to wait past the two days to see big upsets. 2-seed Duke fell to 15-seed Lehigh and 2-seed Missouri got beat by Norfolk state in the opening weekend of the tournament. The NCAA tournament is the underdog fan’s dream. But in the history of the tournament, no one has witnessed a 1-seed going out in their first game. This could be the year that changes.

If you had a million dollars on the line and bet on all 1-seeds to make it out of the first round, I’d say you made easy money. However, both the odds and I would tell you that betting on a safety being scored in the Super Bowl is throwing your money away, and we’d be wrong for two years in a row. As a fan of sports I’ve come to expect the unexpected, and for at least one sports story seeming more like a Hollywood screenplay than real life. With all of the inconsistencies in college basketball this year, perhaps this will be the year we finally see a 1-seed fall in the first round. Of the four top teams ranked in this year’s preseason AP poll: Each team has fallen out of the top 4 at least once, there was no preseason top 4 in the top 4 at one point, and it concluded with having Indiana and Louisville back in the top 4 at the end of the season.

 

How many times have the top 4 teams ranked in the AP poll been the same for consecutive weeks?

Three:

Weeks 1- 2: 1) Indiana 2) Louisville 3) Kentucky 4) Ohio State

Weeks 5-6 1) Indiana 2) Duke 3) Michigan 4) Syracuse

Weeks 8- 9: 1) Duke 2) Michigan 3) Arizona 4) Louisville (Could include Week 10 as Louisville and Arizona merely switched.)

 

How many combined losses do the current top 4 teams (AP Poll) have against unranked Teams?

Unranked at the Time of play: 8

Unranked Currently: 10

 

What’s the longest streak a team has lasted ranked number 1? How many times has the number 1 ranking switched?

Longest Streak: Indiana Weeks 1-6

Times Changed: 6

 

Needless to say, there’s been some moving around in the northern part of the rankings. We’ve concluded the season with,

*number in parenthesis is team’s AP ranking as of March 17:

 

1) Gonzaga (31-2): Losses to Illinois (No ranking) and Butler (NR).

2) Duke (27-5): Losses to North Carolina State (NR), Miami (9), Maryland twice (NR), Virginia (NR)

3) Indiana (26-5): Losses to Butler (NR), Wisconsin (22), Illinois (NR), Minnesota (NR), Ohio State (10)

4) Louisville (26-5): Losses to Duke (2), Syracuse (19), Villanova (NR), Georgetown (5), Notre Dame (NR)

 

With the completion of Conference tournaments and unveiling of the bracket yesterday, three of those four teams received number one seeds, with Duke the only one receiving a two seed. I’m not saying that this year will be the first time in history that a one seed to fails to make it out of the first round, but there is a chance. College basketball seems more competitive this year than it has in the past and is primed for what would be one of the biggest upset in sports. Every one seed has at least 2 losses to teams that are currently unranked in the AP poll. Everyone remembers that stretch this season where being ranked number 1 seemed more like a curse than an honor. In fact, the number one team has switched 6 times throughout the season. It’s safe to say that this season has been pretty unpredictable.

Take a look at Gonzaga: They have played only 3 opponents this season who were ranked at the time, and only beat one of them. Let’s not forget that although Illinois and Butler were ranked when they played the Zags, both teams have now fallen out of the rankings. The team has played like they’re supposed to and deserve the number one seed. However, I don’t have much faith in a team that hasn’t played a ranked opponent since last year. That being said, Gonzaga plays Southern University, the SWAC Champions with a 182 RPI that should give them an easy path to the next round. It’s called March Madness though, not March Everything Goes as Expected.

Duke has Ryan Kelly back and had played as though they are the best team in the country prior to a slip-up against Maryland in the ACC Tournament. It can’t be expected for a powerhouse program moving at full cylinders to lose in the first round right? In case you somehow forget about C.J. McCollum going David on Goliath and leading Lehigh to a win against Duke last year, you can only make a NCAAW bracket this year. For upset-lovers, let’s hope lightening can strike twice.

Indiana started off this season ranked number one. Although they have some bad losses, they are worthy of the number one seed they received. When you have Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller playing on the same team, you’ll either be a good team or looking to hire a new coach. Regardless, Indiana has 5 losses this year to 3 teams that are now unranked. They look nearly unbeatable on paper, but March has taught us that games are played on the court and not on paper.

Louisville has worked themselves into the number one overall seed after sliding earlier this season. Every team they lost to will be of a much higher caliber than the team they will play in the first round of the tournament. Louisville rolled through the Big East tournament, which is full of great teams, but all it takes is a slightly swollen ankle or a worn down roster to prime a team like the Cardinals for an upset. Louisville got hot at the right time last year and made a deep run in the tournament and surely will be looking to do so again. All it takes though is one slip to ruin your chances in the Big Dance.

I fully expect each and every one seed to make it out of the first round this year. However, that is not going to stop me from cheering for the 16-seed in each matchup with a number 1. I want to see my bracket busted, I want to witness one of the greatest upsets in sports, and I want to see a 16-seed make a deep run in the tourney. Gives us the ultimate March Madness story by making every bracket-maker fuming before the second round, seeing a red-faced screaming mad head coach yelling as his one-seed loses, and providing the mad delight we’ve come to expect from the NCAA Tournament. It’s 2013, and I’m hoping its unlucky 13 for some of the top teams.

 

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Tye Masters
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The Cover 4 Presents: The Hottest Female Athlete (2000-2013)

Welcome to the first annual parallel bracket from The Cover 4!  Some of our contemporaries compare NFL quarterbacks, rock bands, or cereals, but we are cutting straight to what we all want to talk about.  Who is the hottest female athlete out there right now?

Now before you nominate the freshman midfielder from a Division II soccer team, prominence and success has played a role for the selection committee.  All of the final ladies selected for this tournament have had some form of success either at the Olympic or professional level of their respective sports.

Below you will find the entire first round outlined (click this link to print full bracket: The Cover 4 – Hottest Female Athlete Bracket)  with pictures and voting polls for your use, however we also encourage you to tweet, post, or even email your selections and brackets into us here at The Cover 4.  Also, feel free to print out the full bracket and pin it to your office bulletin board.

HERE. WE. GO.

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(1) Alex Morgan (Soccer) vs (8) Laila Ali (Boxing)

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(4) Caroline Wozniacki (Tennis) vs (5) Kim Glass (Volleyball)

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(3) Nastia Liukin (Gymnastics) vs (6) Gretchen Bleiler (Snowboarding)

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(7) Natalie Gulbis (Golf) vs (2) Lindsey Vonn (Skiing)

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(1) Jennie Finch (Softball) vs (8) Lolo Jones (Track)

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(4) Hope Solo (Soccer) vs (5) Shawn Johnson (Gymnastics)

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(3) Maria Sharapova (Tennis) vs (6) Amanda Beard (Swimming)

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(7) Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car) vs (2) Michelle Jenneke (Track)

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(1) Anna Kournikova (Tennis) vs (8) Sasha Cohen (Figure Skating)

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(4) Ellen Hoog (Field Hockey) vs (5) Gina Carano (MMA)

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(3) Danica Patrick (Racing) vs (6) Logan Tom (Volleyball)

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(7) Skylar Diggins (College Basketball) vs (2) Maria Kirilenko (Tennis)

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(1) Leryn Franco (Javelin) vs (8) Natalie Coughlin (Swimming)

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(4) Malia Jones (Surfing) vs (5) Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (Crossfit)

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(3) Heather Mitts (Soccer) vs (6) Allison Baver (Speed Skating)

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(7) Misty May-Treanor (Volleyball) vs (2) Ana Ivanovic (Tennis)

Tiger Woods & NFL Free Agency – A Behind the Scenes Look

The Cover 4 is bringing you a different approach to today’s major sports topics.

This week James & Long Island Sound go toe-to-toe about Tiger Woods & NFL Free Agency moves.

Additionally, we are going to give you a special sneak peak in how we do our debates. When you have a team that is spread throughout the United States, it can be difficult to coordinate schedules for debate topics. James & Long Island Sound seem to have spent too much time debating the outline of the actual debate rather than the topics at hand. You will see the commentary between the two writers in red with the actual debate topic is in black.

We hope you enjoy this weeks special uncut debate.

Is Tiger Woods back?

tiger

LI Sound: The question is.. is Tiger Woods back?

James: By the way, this is 220 characters. Keep it 200/220 as I dont want us to go overboard. 

James: We will try 3 correspondences.

James: As much as I would love to say yes, I am saying no. Mr. Woods had a fine showing this weekend but “Tiger” isn’t back; the once invincible golfer is just part of the pack. I think Tiger is great for golf but he’s not back yet.

LI Sound: Unfortunately, Tiger will never be back to his old form, but we are all back to watching golf on weekends (that aren’t majors). This current run is his best since a 7 iron went through his back windshield, so I’m going to be bold and say he’s winning a major this year.

James: You think after one great weekend Tiger is going to win one of the four majors? I don’t buy it. Yes Tiger is on a better streak but he has shown he can’t handle it mentally anymore. One bad day on the course and his weekend is done.

LI Sound: Already forgetting Pebble Beach a few weeks ago, my friend! This is the first time he has strung together some wins before The Masters in years. Spoiler alert: he is winning at places with previous success. I’m pumped for The Masters.

LI Sound: Round 1 goes to me.

James: It was supposed to be 3 rounds, idiot. I will let this one slide since your dumb self didn’t take the opposite stance. SMH. 

James:  It’s a 1 on 1 debate. If I go first and say he isn’t back then you can’t agree with me. There aren’t 3 of us this time.

LI Sound: You called me out for the major… It’s obvious he won’t be back to old tiger. Not going to be an idiot just to oppose you. 

James: You have to! That’s why we are 1 on 1 this time. It’s like PTI with Tony & Wilbon. Those guys dont mean half the things they say. 

LI Sound: I think this debate about the debate should be included in the article… Totally raw debate. 

James: Come on, Skip [Bayless].  Don’t you know how this stuff works?

LI Sound:  Show a common ground at the end… We have to develop our personalities with the audience so we can be consistent.

James: Sure. Can you maybe stay up past 730pm grandpa so we can finish this tonight?

LI Sound: Of this commitment how many of us work off Hawaiian time bro?

James: I forgot daily light savings pushes you to three hours now.

James: Don’t hate me cuz you ain’t me….

LI Sound: Back to the debate 

Who will do more for their new team: Harvin or Boldin?

harvinboldin

James: Would you like me to pick the same choice as you this time?!

LI Sound: Good cases for both so this is a good one to have different stances. By the fans and for the fans, but we can’t be the ignorant stupid fan James. 

LI Sound: Boldin hands down. Name a physical, possession receiver not afraid to go over the middle on the 49ers? Vernon likes to go vertical (because he can), Crabtree is soft, Manningham stays outside, and we know what Moss does. This is a Harbaugh type guy through and through who will fit in. Does Ed Reed intercept that pass in the Super Bowl if Boldin is the intended receiver?

James:  What don’t you understand about a 200/220 character count? What happened to our earlier conversation and debate? SMH. 

LI Sound: Dude I turned it on but it doesn’t count for iMessages. Stop being a little pansy and just refute my point.  

James: Nah! You gotta do it right or we need to change how we are going to do these; it changes how we respond. 

James: You have 380 characters aka 160 over max. So are we switching to that word count sir?

LI Sound: If that’s 380 then just keep it under 400. That was simple. 

James: Smh

LI Sound: You are so Rediculous. This string would be very entertaining [to run with our article]. Consider it because it’s different…

James: Isn’t it ridiculous? BOOM! +2 James 

James: You really want me to add this RIDICULOUSNESS? 

LI Sound: I think it’s way different and really shows a unique side man. Again, it’s different. Take a chance! 

LI Sound: Can we continue the debate? 

James: Did you really just say hands down? Are you forgetting that PERCY HARVIN was traded to the Seahawks? Yes, the player many considered a possible MVP candidate. One of the most versatile players in the NFL just joined a dangerous Seattle team. Harvin is going to be a major difference maker. Do you realize this gives Seattle one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL?

LI Sound: You are as frustrating as Percy’s migraine problem. The Seahawks needed to give up 3 picks and will need to pay him big time, when he is injury prone. They have an abundance of young talent at the receiver position already and back-up running back ready to thrive in Turbin. Is he dynamic? Yes, when healthy. Tavon Austin could put this team on the brink over the edge.

James: Way to sway your argument with Tavon Austin comment. We aren’t debating who received better compensation as we are debating who will do more for their team? Harvin!! He is upgrade at wr, rb, flex, slot, & special teams. No disrespect to Boldin but Harvin is going to make the Hawks offense that much more dangerous. Allow Wilson to by time and Harvin will ditch anyone guarding him. One of the top offenses, at the end of the season, just added arguably the most dynamic wide receiver in the NFL. As the MtV show used you say…NEXT!

James: Winner me!! 

LI Sound: Just 2 rounds?

James: You did it to me earlier… maybe you can try again next week? 

Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

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James/LIS


James Kaikis & Long Island Sound

Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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NHL Midseason Report

blackhawks

It seems like just yesterday that this NHL season may have been canceled, but cooler heads prevailed, and it was salvaged – although it’s an abbreviated 48-game season. Now, every team is past the halfway point, and like always with 24 games left, the playoff picture is rounding out, story lines have emerged, and surprises have appeared. Let’s check out the midseason recap with the top story lines in the league at the midway point.

Top 10 Storylines:

10. The Toronto Maple Leafs – In hockey’s Mecca, there is reason for hope. The Leafs have not made the playoffs since the 2003-04 season and currently hold the longest playoff drought of any NHL franchise. I’m sure the Toronto fanbase is not ready to declare their team a playoff team and are still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but the team has put itself in a good position. While they are still having some growing pains, the Leafs show up to play every night and are pretty well coached. They are getting the goaltending right now, and after 26 games, they sit at 31 points, five points ahead of ninth-place Winnipeg. With Phil Kessel slowly starting to round back into form after a slow start and Joffrey Lupul working his way back from injury, there is reason to be a beLEAFer.

9. Steven Stamkos – As expected, Steven Stamkos has picked up right where he left off before the lockout. He’s potting goals at a torrid pace again, and after 25 games, he leads the league with 19 goals, and trails only Sidney Crosby (45) in points with 37. The downside for Stamkos is that his team is flirting with last place in the East, as he and Martin St. Louis seem to be the only two who truly bring it offensively each game. Now that may seem like a bold statement seeing as the Bolts rank in the top-three in total offense, but after starting out strong, they now sit in 13th place, leading last-place Florida by only one point. Stamkos will garner some consideration for the Hart Trophy, but if his team isn’t competitive, he has no shot to win. The good news however; Tampa plays in the wide open Southeast, and only trails division leading Carolina (which just lost its star goalie) by eight points.

8. Edmonton Oilers – It’s time to crap or get off the pot for the Oilers. It takes time to develop players in this league, but the Oilers are clearly progressing slowly. Their lineup is LOADED with players who are “oozing with potential,” yet after 25 games, they sit in second-to-last place in the Western Conference and are just one point ahead of rival Calgary for last in the West. Edmonton is currently fifth-worst in the league in points, placing them in position for ANOTHER lottery pick. The trio of first-overall picks that the Oilers ice every night ─ Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov have combined for 44 points on the year. That is one less point than Sidney Crosby has In addition to the trio, the team sports impressive rookie free agent Justin Schultz on the blueline along with veteran Ryan Whitney. Young forward talents Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner have been producing, but the wins are not there. The Oilers are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and are showing no signs of coming on. Perhaps it is time to move some pieces to get a bonafide NHL starting goalie, some skilled grit in the top six or a top-four defenseman. What they have ain’t working.

7. Lindy Ruff – After 16 seasons as bench boss of the Buffalo Sabres, Lindy Ruff was fired on February 20, following Buffalo’s severe stumble at the start of the season. . While shocking to the players, it couldn’t have been that surprising, seeing as the Sabres players were getting outworked nightly. Even dating back to last season, Buffalo has not come close to meeting the lofty expectations set following new owner Terry Pegula’s purchase of the team in February 2011. During the 2011 offseason he showed the Buffalo fanbase that there was a new sheriff in town who was willing to pay for free agents to make Buffalo competitive. The only problem with that is that he overpaid for players like Ville Leino and Christan Ehrhoff, only to see them underachieve and become unmovable due to their contracts. This year Tyler Myers is the second-highest paid defenseman in the league, and he has shown few signs of earning it. After a fantastic rookie year, Myers has been average at best, and Ryan Miller hasn’t been able to carry the team on his back. After 26 games, Buffalo has 21 points… yikes.

6. The Philadelphia Flyers – After a pretty good season last year that saw the Flyers knock out archrival Pittsburgh from the playoffs in a classic series that threw all logic of both teams out the window, the Flyers have struggled to find themselves early. While Ilya Bryzgalov has not been bad for them, he has not been able to consistently steal points for the Fly Guys which is what they NEED him to do. After trading a rising star in forward James van Riemsdyk for “shutdown” defenseman Luke Schenn, the Flyers appear to have lost that trade. The resurgent Jaromir Jagr has moved on to Dallas and top forward Scott Hartnell has missed a ton of time due to an injury. Newly appointed Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux has not lived up to the superstar potential he is capable of, and Max Talbot has a mere 7 points in 27 games after posting 34 in 81 games last season. Wayne Simmonds has been a bright spot, bringing it every night, and GM Paul Holmgren brought back veteran Simon Gagne from Los Angeles to help bolster the scoring. The Flyers are trailing the eighth-place New York Rangers by three points, but the Broadway Blueshirts still have three games in hand. The Flyers are not out of it yet, but they’re flirting with disaster, and coach Peter Laviolette’s chair just may be getting warm.

5. The Washington Capitals – Caps nation has come back down to earth in recent seasons. After a few great regular seasons with disappointing playoff finishes, the Caps are now struggling in the regular season, appearing as team with no identity. At first, the only consistent player they had was Alex Ovechkin, but recently his undisciplined and lackluster play has been of huge concern and has even begun to put his name quietly in the trade rumor mill. Since Ovechkin’s rookie year in 2005-06, he has been compared side-by-side to his fellow rookie that year, Sidney Crosby, for whom Ovechkin beat for the Calder Trophy. Since that, however, Crosby has put to rest the Sid-Ovi debate by leading the Pens to two Stanley Cup Finals, and one win (while knocking Ovechkin’s Caps out of the playoffs en route). Crosby has also led the Pens to more sustained success, despite missing more than a full year with concussion problems. The Caps have had three coaches over the last two seasons, and are currently on the outside of the playoff picture, boasting a mere 21 points after 24 games. The Mike Ribeiro trade statistically looks good, but he fits the EXACT type of player mold that the Caps need to get away from; talented, but a spotty work ethic. He is Alex Semin as a center.

4. Sidney Crosby – Hockey has its best player back and healthy, and playing at an ABSURD level. Since returning to game action for good last March, Crosby has posted more points than the Hall/RNH/Yakupov trio combined, and even more than Ovechkin and Giroux combined. He has 20 points in his last eight games and 140 points in his last 89 games. We all knew that Crosby was capable of these types of numbers, but it’s great for the game that he is officially playing, healthy and back to pre-concussion form. Crosby’s star shines brightest on a squad that has 50 goal-scorer and last season’s MVP in Evgeni Malkin, the NHL’s highest-scoring defenseman in Kris Letang, surprise player of the year and third-highest scorer in Chris Kunitz, and the league-leader in power play goals in James Neal. The Penguins, who are the league’s highest scoring team, lead the Atlantic Division with 36 points in 26 games, trailing Eastern Conference-leading Montreal by two points.

3. The Montreal Canadiens – Speak of the devil. The Canadiens are tearing it up this season under new head coach Michel Therrien. With a tough coach who requires accountability from his players, the Canadiens are perched atop on the Eastern Conference after 26 games, and lead archrival Boston by one point in the Northeast Division. With a newfound gritty, workmanlike mentality under their new coach, the Canadiens are tougher to play against on a daily basis, and free agent signee Brandon Prust has been a big part of that. Although Prust was recently sidelined for 10-14 days with a shoulder injury, the Habs should be OK since they are getting world-class goaltending from Carey Price, and solid two-way play from the rest of the team. They show up every game and try to get to their game early, and the results, so far, have been great. Rookie studs Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk have both been pleasant surprises and have played big roles in the Canadiens’ turnaround from last season’s last place finish in the Eastern Conference.

2. The Anaheim Ducks – If it wasn’t for the absurdity of the Chicago Blackhawks incredible points streak to start the season, the Ducks would be the talk of the league. After putting up only 80 points last season, the Ducks have come out flying (no pun intended…maybe) this year, their first full season under coach Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau was hired around midseason last year after the Ducks let former head coach Randy Carlyle go (now the head coach of the Maple Leafs), and the Ducks finished the year strong, but there was no indication that they would come out of the lockout with the league’s second-best record, posting 39 points in 24 games. WOW! Of a possible 48 points, the Ducks earned 39, thanks in part to the tremendous goaltending tandem of Jonas Hiller and Victor Fasth. Teemu Selanne continues to amaze and the top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan is just getting going. Nick Bonino has had a breakout year and veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin has put together a Norris Trophy-caliber first half of the season. A formerly Disney-owned team has had a storybook season thus far as it trails the mighty Blackhawks by a mere six points (Anaheim has two games in hand), but with the uncertainty surrounding Perry’s future with the team, midnight may be coming soon for the Cinderella Ducks.

1. The Chicago Blackhawks – OH MY GOODNESS! What a run the Chicago Blackhawks put together to open the season. The Hawks earned points in their first 24 games of the year (half of the shortened 48-game schedule) and collected 45 of a possible 48 points. The truly impressive thing is the Hawks did it every way possible. They got world class goaltending from starting netminder Corey Crawford, and when he went down to injury, Ray Emery stepped in and played the best hockey of his career. Marian Hossa returned to play fully healthy after suffering a nasty concussion in last year’s playoffs and has been fantastic. Sophomore Marcus Krueger has improved his game by leaps and bounds, and Viktor Stalberg has been fantastic as well. The D corps has played great in all three zones down to a man all season, and the Hawks have showed up to play EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Their streak came to an end in Colorado last Friday, but that doesn’t take away from the magnificence with which  they have displayed in the first half of the year. Patrick Kane has returned to superstar form, and captain Jonathan Toews has made a strong case to be with Stamkos and Crosby in the Hart Trophy discussion. The Hawks could sleepwalk into the playoffs from here on out, but don’t expect them to let up; they have their eyes on the prize and want the Cup, and are off to a near perfect start… watch out!

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Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

Oh yeah, tell your friends too!

Pat

Pat Davis
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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The Betting Corner: Baseball Season – Easy $

cutch

 

It’s that time of year again. With spring training underway, March Madness right around the corner, and NBA/NHL playoffs in our near future, it’s a great time to be a sports fan.

 

But with all of this looming, the date I’ve circled on my calendar is April 1. No, not because of April Fools. April 1 marks opening day for the 2013 MLB season (technically Texas plays host to Houston on March 31 but for all intents and purposes, we’re not really counting Houston as a “professional” team this year, but I’ll get to that later).

 

For the purposes of this blog we’ll be 100 percent focused on baseball games, stats, trends, streaks, match-ups ─ anything and everything related to America’s pastime. Oh yeah, and for all you degenerate gamblers out there, we’ll be doing this from a Vegas perspective. I’ve been able to hold my own in the past few seasons betting MLB sides/totals and I enjoy putting my opinion into words. Put two and two together and that sounds like a solid daily blog to me.

 

Every pick posted on this blog I will play myself with my own money. I apologize in advance if write-ups or plays are delayed in being posted. I do work full-time as a financial advisor and that’s priority  number one. But enough behind the scenes details, let’s get into the first bets you can make this offseason.

 

First off, if you’ve got the itch to bet on spring training games, well… don’t. Baseball is different than any other sport when it comes to preseason action. As a general rule (and I realize this doesn’t apply for EVERY player), a large handful of individuals playing after the fifth inning of most games won’t even be on the opening day roster (especially EARLY in spring training). You may as well take your leans to the roulette table for some better odds.

 

Something a little more reasonable is betting MLB futures and season win totals. I tend to stay away from most futures (i.e. Los Angeles Angels at 7/1 to win the World Series) because trying to single out one team of 30 to hit its year-end goal is difficult. Again, with those odds, I’ll stick to roulette. I do however, see a lot of potential value in season win totals.

Vegas gives us more of a 50-50 split by setting a line for the total wins a team will have at the end of the season.

I’ve been researching the free agent market, trades, acquisitions, manager and division moves for the last few months and I’ve concluded the following five preseason bets hold the most value.

 

As a side note, one of the most important keys to sports betting is being able to manage a bankroll. A general rule of thumb is one unit equates to 1% of your bankroll. If you’ve set aside $5,000 for this season, your unit would be $50 (seems like a lot to set aside but you need to be able to survive the bad runs, as they WILL come). For me, one unit is $100. Most all of my plays will be one-unit plays. I will occasionally release a 0.5- unit play (for example if there was heavy movement on my play in the wrong direction, I may still bet it, but at less money. You’ll see an example of this as you keep reading.)

 

Very rarely will I ever bet a 1.5 or two-unit play. You can think of them as a game of the week and game of the month respectively. In no way however, will I upgrade a play to a 1.5 or two-unit play just because I haven’t had one in awhile. But I digress.

 

The first play I see value in is the Atlanta Braves over 87.5 -110 (Las Vegas Hilton) *1.0 unit*. 

I’ll start by saying this: yes, I agree Chipper Jones is a huge loss from a clubhouse leader standpoint. Chipper did hit .287 last year while sporting a .830 OPS (both above league averages). But that’s about all they lost from last year’s 94-68 club.

Acquiring the Upton brothers to go along with Jason Heyward has given them as good an outfield as any. A solid pitching core lies behind veteran Tim Hudson with young guns Kris Medlen and Mike Minor and is anchored by one of the best closers in MLB in Craig Kimbrel. Don’t quite hand the Washington Nationals the NL East title yet, as I see this Braves team a solid World Series contender come October and a shoe-in to win 90-plus games this year.

 

Second, we’ll be going with the Cleveland Indians over 77 -110 (LV Hilton) *1.5 units*.

Outside of the Detroit Tigers, who represented the American League in the World Series last year, this division is WIDE OPEN. And in my opinion, Cleveland has done the most this offseason. Nick Swisher, Drew Stubbs and Michael Bourn will all contribute greatly to a team that was in the bottom third in the league in runs scored last year (22nd at 667). Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez are key factors to this teams success and I believe they will both have positive years reflective of their career stats. But the big key for me making this a 1.5 unit play is Terry Francona (yes I am, and will remain a Boston Red Sox fan, regardless of the downward spiral they’ve been on). Tito will be able to rally his fresh and talented team around established Cleveland stars such as Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana. Look for them to be a above-.500 team and make a little more noise than expected in this wide-open division.

 

Third is the AAA-caliber Houston Astros under 59.5 -110 (LV Hilton) *1.0 unit*.

They’ve BEEN bad. They ARE bad. They will CONTINUE TO BE bad and possibly even GET worse. This team’s biggest and only major acquisition during the offseason was the signing of 1B Carlos Pena. Really? That’s your big signing Houston? In 2012,

Pena had 497 official at-bats. He hit .197, had 19 HRs (his lowest total since 2003; with the exception of his shortened ’05 and ’06 seasons) and a staggering 182 strikeouts. Yeah, no typo,182 strikeouts (third-worst in the league). That’s more than a strikeout per three at-bats (36.6% to be exact). And if that’s your best, I’m not going to even get into the worst. Not only that, but trading ace Wandy Rodriguez around last year’s trade deadline didn’t help a whole lot either. A realistic goal for this team would be to win a third of its games (54- 108). Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention the biggest key of all. They’re leaving the watered down National League to join the stacked AL West (in my opinion, the most top-heavy division in baseball). The Astros will be etching their names into the record books this year with their third consecutive season with (well) over 100 losses.

 

These last two piggyback off Houston’s atrociousness. The first is the Pittsburgh

Pirates under 77 -110 (LV Hilton) *0.5 Units*.

I lay it at 0.5 units because I liked it at 79, but that line was first released by the Atlantis Casino in Reno, Nev., and ain’t nobody got time (or the desire) to travel to Reno, Nev. and since then it’s dropped to 77. But anyways, oh yeah, the Pirates. They’re noHouston by any means, but they will definitely suffer from not being able to beat up onthe Astros in the NL Central (they went 12-5 against them in 2012). The Pirates haven’t won more than 79 games since they were three outs away from the World Series in 1992 (96 wins). I don’t see that trend changing here. They have a  few solid pitchers and it’s hard not to mention MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen, but when you’re only superior within your division to a team who’s underachieved for over a century (yes, I’m talking to you Cubs fans), that’s not much to brag about. Don’t forget they also lost all-star closer Joel Hanrahan (fifth in the NL last year with 36 saves) to Boston and are relying on journeyman Jason Grilli to fill the void. If you can find this line at at 79 or more, bump it to a unit. 75.5-78.5 take it at 0.5. Anything less than that and it’s a no bet for me.

 

Last but not least is the Seattle Mariners over 77 -125 (BookMaker) *1 unit*.

I haven’t bet this one yet as I’m still shopping around. I don’t like the -125 vig at BookMaker but the line was “over 78.5 at the Hilton at -110” so I’m thinking that juice may be worth it for the extra game-and-a-half leeway. In a nutshell, all of the AL West is going to benefit from the laughingstock of the league that is the Houston Astros. I personally don’t believe the Oakland Athletics will have as much success as they did last year.

They’re still a third-place finish for me behind division juggernauts L.A. and Texas, but not by much. Seattle was still able to win 75 games last year even though they were in a four-team league and those other three teams won 94, 93 and 89 games apiece. Signing King Felix to a 7–year, $175 million extension will likely lock him in Seattle for his career. Other notable acquisitions this offseason include Michael Morse from Washington and Kendrys Morales from the Angels. Even veteran signings of Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez have a low–risk, high-reward potential to them. Behind a solid pitching staff and rising stars such as Jesus Montero, Seattle will surprise a lot of naysayers this year and be a legitimate threat in the coming years to an already stacked division.

 

Hope that gives you a little insight to what’s gone on this winter and an idea of what you can expect come this summer. Check back for sporadic updates this spring and expect daily posts once April rolls around . Enjoy this year’s MLB season and good luck to you if you take to the books.

 

 

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Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

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Jeremy Murray
Guest Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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