SEC East Win Totals

Can Clowney lead the Gamecocks to the SEC East title?

Earlier this week in this spot I broke down the SEC West win totals. Today I venture across the South to look into the win totals for the SEC East. There is no question that in terms of overall strength, the West is the dominant force in the SEC.

Alabama is seeking a fourth national title in five years while LSU and Auburn have also recently won national championships. With that said, the East will not go quietly. Georgia and South Carolina are my favorites for the East Division, but Florida cannot be ruled out as a contender.

How much better will Tennessee be under a new coach? Can Vanderbilt repeat their success from last year? Will the strong recruiting class at Kentucky reap benefits right away? Will newcomer Missouri continue to be a threat to teams when they travel to Columbia?

This and more as I break down the East.

Florida 8.5 (-160 over/+130 under) – The Gators enter 2013 motivated by a humiliating Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville. QB Jeff Driskel is back but there are newcomers in the secondary and in the backfield. Florida has road games at LSU, Miami, Kentucky and Missouri and of course the neutral field game with Georgia. I’m going with the under here.

Murray is a top pro prospect and could lead the Bulldogs to an SEC title.

Georgia 9.5 (-150 over/+120 under) – If the Dawgs survive the first two games (at Clemson, home with South Carolina) then this could be a special year in Athens. QB Aaron Murray and a great backfield returns but the defense has holes to fill. They have favorable road games at Vandy, Auburn and Tennessee. I like the over for Georgia.

Kentucky 4.5 (+135 over/-160 under) – UK opens with two winnable non-conference games before running a four-game gauntlet in five weeks. The Wildcats play Louisville, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. The good news? Only South Carolina is a road trip. The other non-conference games include Alcorn State, Miami, OH and Western Kentucky. I think this will be an improved Wildcats’ team and I like the over.

Missouri 6 (-135 over/+105 under) – The Tigers have a great chance to be 4-0 with a very weak non-conference slate but then it gets tough. Much tougher. In October they have three straight games against Georgia, Florida and South Carolina with the latter two at home. They also have Texas A&M at home in November. Assuming they go 4-0 to start, I’ll take the over.

South Carolina 9.5 (-110 over/-120 under) – The Gamecocks return the best defender in college football in Jadeveon Clowney and have Connor Shaw back at QB. Other than a trip to Georgia in week two, the schedule is kind to Steve Spurrier and company. They get North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi State and Clemson at home. The week two contest will determine the East race and either way I like the over.

Tennessee 6 (-105 over/-125 under) – Butch Jones takes over the Vols with a good track record behind him at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Both of those programs were in great shape however compared to what he has in Knoxville. Tennessee has road games at Oregon, Florida and Alabama and home dates with Georgia and South Carolina. The other three non-conference games are winnable but I think Jones struggles in year one. Take the under.

Vanderbilt 7 (-125 over/-105 under) – The Commodores enter the 2013 season with high expectations. They come off a bowl win over NC State and a 9-4 record. They won’t sneak up on anyone this year and that could be the problem. Vandy has road games at Florida, at South Carolina and at Texas A&M. They have home dates with Georgia and open the season at home against Ole Miss in conference play. I like Vandy to get back to a bowl but it will be with six wins.


PED Use, Hall of Fame Debate is Endless

With more PED suspensions looming, debate about players like Bonds and the Hall of Fame has been re-ignited.

As we wait for Major League Baseball to hand down further suspensions in the Biogenesis situation the issue has once again ignited the debate about the Hall of Fame. That debate of course centers on whether the players involved (and past PED users) should be eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It isn’t as easy as just saying “yes they should be in” or “no they shouldn’t.”

Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens and many others will likely never get in the Hall of Fame. As long as the Baseball Writers of America are the sole electors of Hall of Fame members then I don’t see any of these guys getting in period. There is tremendous animosity towards these men from the writers who are by and large baseball purists.

Bonds and Clemens can scream to the moon that they never used but we know they did. They both had statistically amazing careers that in any other circumstance would garner them first-ballot entry but that time is now past.

The question centers around should they be in the Hall of Fame despite PED use?

McGwire's PED use was dismissed at the time because of his pursuit of Maris' home run record.

The argument for ‘yes’ centers on this idea; From the early 1990’s through 2006, MLB pretty much turned a blind eye to the issue. Players like McGwire and Sammy Sosa were vital to the re-birth of baseball following the 1994 strike despite the fact both were obvious PED users. They were far from the only two using and the fact that baseball ignored the problem speaks of a generational thing no different than the guys who showed up intoxicated to games or on amphetamines in other generations.

Granted, being drunk and using amphetamines wasn’t exactly a performance-enhancing way to go but many did this and MLB did nothing about it.

The argument against is that these guys made the playing field unfair. What about those players who never did anything to cheat or gain an advantage? These are the guys that played in the big leagues and did it with hard work.

We also must consider the records the PED-users broke and established compared to the men who previously owned them. Hank Aaron and Roger Maris to our knowledge never used anything to gain the advantage that Bonds and McGwire did. Is it fair to place the latter in the Hall of Fame knowing they broke records while using steroids?

Many view the use of PEDs as cheating and that alone should keep any of these guys out of the Hall of Fame. This question inevitably brings up Pete Rose who has been banned from baseball for gambling while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.

Rose is the career hits leader and his playing career is undoubtedly worthy of being in the Hall of Fame but his actions as a manager have kept him out of the Hall. I believe he should be in because there is no evidence that Rose did anything illegal as a player. There are guys currently in the Hall of Fame who weren’t exactly ‘good people’ but their playing careers spoke for themselves.

About the only way I could concede allowing these guys in is that there must be a marker on their plaque. At the top or the bottom there must be a paragraph detailing the fact that these men played in the steroid/PED era but even with that I’m not sure. For guys like Clemens, getting into the Hall was one of the major reasons why he used in the first place. His ego drove him to ensure his enshrinement when he probably didn’t even need to use to gain entry anyway.

It’s an issue that will hang around for a long time, perhaps forever. It’s also an issue that is going to be divisive forever as well.

Win Totals for the SEC West

Just what can we expect from Gus Malzahn in his first year at Auburn?

The Southeastern Conference is once again loaded for a potential eight straight national championship in college football. Suggesting there is any other conference in America that is as talented, as deep and as rigorous as the SEC would be foolish and uneducated. The SEC West in particular could see a challenge from their brethren in the East Division.

Five of the last six national champions have come from the West and Alabama has a very good chance to make six in seven. With that said, the East is rising. Georgia, Florida and South Carolina are expected to battle for the East Division title while Tennessee will be improved under Butch Jones. Vanderbilt is coming off of a bowl season and Kentucky had a very good recruiting class.

The East however is for another day because today I’m looking at win totals for the SEC West and there are many questions. Can A&M repeat last year’s magic? How much better will Ole Miss and Arkansas be? Is this a down year for the Bayou Bengals and can Gus Malzahn turn Auburn around in one year?

Let’s take a look…

Arkansas will be better under Bielema but there will be bumps in the road this year.

Alabama 11 (-110 over/+140 under) – The Crimson Tide are a shoo-in in my book for the over here. Even if they stumble once, they’ll get to 12 wins in the SEC Title game. The schedule is not overly daunting for the SEC either other than a trip to Texas A&M. They get LSU and rival Auburn at home.

Arkansas 5.5 (-140 over/+110 under) – The Hogs have a very good chance to 3-0 right off the bat but that might be the highlight of the season for new coach Bret Bielema. The conference schedule is very tough with South Carolina and Florida as the crossover match-ups. They’ll be improved, but I like the under.

Auburn 6.5 (-140 over/+110 under) – Auburn has road games at Washington State, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama which could easily see them go 2-2 or 0-4. Gus Malzahn will right the ship there, but the personnel is not in place yet for his system. I like the under in 2013.

LSU 8.5 (-150 over/+120 under) – This is an extremely tough call here. The Tigers have senior QB Zach Mettenberger back but lost a lot of talent to the NFL. The Tigers will be competitive as always under Les Miles but road trips to Mississippi State, Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama will be tough. Plus they’ll have Florida and Texas A&M at home. I want to take the over but I’m going under here.

Ole Miss 8 (+110 over/-140 under) – The Rebels have seven home games including six in seven weeks with a bye week interrupting the string. Ole Miss opens in conference play at Vandy and also travels to Texas and Alabama. With a great recruiting class, Ole Miss is building and I’m going to say this is a push as they’ll get to eight.

Mississippi State 6 (+110 over/-140 under) – The Bulldogs return QB Tyler Russell and have a decent schedule to maneuver. They get LSU, Alabama and rival Ole Miss at home, but do travel to College Station and Columbia, South Carolina. The non-conference is not that difficult with the exception of Oklahoma State in the opener. I’m taking the over.

Texas A&M 9.5 (-145 over/+115 under) – Two months ago I would have said take the over here but I have concerns. I just don’t see Johnny Manziel repeating his Heisman Trophy year because of on and off-field distractions but that might be OK. The Aggies have eight home games which includes Alabama in the conference opener. The four road games pose little challenge other than at LSU late in the season. I’m going to go ahead and say ‘over’ but I’m leery if Manziel doesn’t get his act together.

Guys On the Hot Seat in the NFL

Freeman needs a playoff appearance to save his job in Tampa Bay.

The National Football League is now in full swing as training camps across the country have opened for business. If you needed any more clear sign of this then check the injury blotter today. Philadelphia has lost receiver Jeremy Maclin to a torn ACL while Super Bowl Champion Baltimore will have to move forward without tight end Dennis Pitta. It appears Pitta will miss the season following hip surgery.

The injuries will continue to pile up unfortunately but today I’m focusing on some players and coaches that are in ‘must-win’ situations heading into the season.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Quarterback – After four seasons and three as the full-time starter, Freeman has put up some pretty good numbers but has yet to lead the Buccaneers to the playoffs. In his defense, the Bucs did go 10-6 a couple of years ago but didn’t qualify for the postseason.

That’s nice but in this business it’s playoffs or hit the road. Freeman has thrown for 78 touchdowns against 63 interceptions and has passed for over 12,000 yards but the key number that has to improve is completion percentage. Freeman’s career average is 58.8% and that needs to come up a good five to six points.

With the improved Tampa Bay running game, Freeman should be able to capitalize on that with play-action but he can’t afford many misses and in a very competitive division or Freeman could be looking for work elsewhere.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Running Back – The former Fresno State Bulldog enters his fourth year in the NFL and needs to prove that he can be a full-time running back for the Chargers. Mathews has not yet played a full season in the NFL with 14 games being the most in first three seasons.

Injuries have been the reason for those missed games, but they can no longer be an excuse. Mathews has one 1,000 yard rushing campaign in his three seasons but the Bolts need more from him in order to give Philip Rivers more time to throw. San Diego brought in Danny Woodhead from New England and he will challenge Mathews which may be the inspiration he needs.

If Ryan wants to keep his smile and his job, the Jets have to be better.

Rex Ryan, New York Jets Head Coach – The always interesting Ryan enters his fifth season as head coach of the Jets and desperately needs a big year to save his job. At just 34-30 in four years, it’s been the last two that have most people wondering just how much time he has left. After two straight playoff seasons, Ryan’s Jets went 8-8 in 2011 and 6-10 last year.

The Jets have been hit with significant injuries especially to the wide receiving corps but the real issue has been the lack of quality play at the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC title game in his first two years in the league but has been a complete disaster the last two seasons.

Don’t forget the team brought in Tim Tebow for 2012 and the intended use of Tebow is still a question mark quite honestly but he’s in New England now. Enter rookie Geno Smith who will challenge Sanchez for the job. It’s a job that will determine whether Rex Ryan keeps his in 2014.

Mike Smith, Atlanta Head Coach – No, I’m not crazy. Smith, who has a career win-loss record in five years in Atlanta of 56-24, is on the hot seat. Despite his great regular season winning percentage, he is 1-4 in the playoffs despite two division titles. His only win was a narrow 30-28 win over Seattle last season and his coaching decisions have come into question.

Atlanta will head into this season with a new $100 million QB in Matt Ryan and as one of the favorites in the NFC. Should they fail to get to the Super Bowl, I think his job is shaky. In this business, it’s about winning the big games not just playing in them.

Fantasy Baseball Players Have Work to Do

Pittsburgh's Melancon is an excellent option for pitching depth to your fantasy roster.

This week saw two significant injuries to the same team. Actually, these two injuries are also affecting my team as well. The Atlanta Braves on Monday put pitcher Paul Maholm on the 15-day Disabled List which was a tough break for the leaders in the National League East. Unfortunately, the bigger break came later in the week when fellow pitcher Tim Hudson suffered a broken ankle and has been lost for the season.

Obviously, I wish the best for both players in the long-term. Hate to see guys on the DL and especially Hudson who is so well-like and respected in the Majors. It’s a tough break for me too on a much less significant note because both of these guys were on my pitching staff for my fantasy team.

The loss of Hudson affects the Braves and your fantasy team too.

Hudson has been in the rotation most of the season while Maholm has been in a little more infrequently. What it means however is that I assume that you are in a similar situation right now in that you may have one of these guys on your roster. You need to take action now because the fantasy season is closer to winding down than the real season is.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that there is a little chore named Ryan Braun that you need to attend to as well. I’ve already discussed his impact on your wagering when it comes to games involving the Brewers but you must address his suspension now if you haven’t already.

If you have a deep pitching roster then adding further depth may not be as big of a deal for you as it is for others. Let’s assume that’s the case first, that you just need some depth now in the form of any type of pitching.

First up is Pittsburgh’s Mark Melancon who has been wicked-good out of the Pirates’ bullpen. The reason he is among the most added pitchers is also because he should get some save opportunities with closer Jason Grilli on the 15-day DL.

Melancon is 2-1 with an ERA of 0.93 and a WHIP of 0.81. He also notches a good number of strikeouts in his appearances as well.

Secondly is Colorado’s lefty reliever Rex Brothers who is coming on strong right now. He has six saves on the year and has an ERA of 1.27 and a WHIP of 1.17. That last number might seem a little high but he is still effective because of big strikeout numbers.

Both Melancon and Brothers are guys for you to consider if you are just looking for depth in the bullpen and not in the starting rotation.

If you need to replace Hudson, Maholm or both as in my case, then there is some decent talent available in many leagues. I’m in a fairly competitive 12-player league so that’s the perspective I’m going from.

Chris Archer of the Tampa Rays is a guy you should definitely scoop up. The Rays jumped into first place last night in the American League East as they continue this amazing run. Archer has been a big part of the surging Rays’ success.

Archer has won his last three starts and has not lost since June 18th. He stands at 5-3 with an ERA of 2.76 and a WHIP of 1.18. His last four starts have seen him go seven, nine, six and six innings which is pretty darn good.

Baltimore’s Chris Tillman has quietly put together a really nice season but many fantasy players haven’t noticed. At 13-3, Tillman is now a must-have in your starting rotation. Tillman is 9-1 in his last 10 starts and has his ERA is now below four. The WHIP is a little high at 1.30 but he counters that with decent strikeout numbers.

Tillman is a bit of a wild-card because he throws a ton of pitches per outing and has received a bunch of run-support so do your homework here.

One way or another, make sure you are addressing your line-up especially in the dog days of summer where injuries, slumps and surges happen frequently.

Success Wagering the NFL Begins Now

Garrett and the Cowboys have already suffered injuries early in traning camp.

There are those of us who wager weekly on the National Football League in a manner that ultimately results in nothing more than a $15 pot being won in the office pool. There are also those of us who have no problem laying down several hundred dollars on a per game basis because we just know it’s a sure thing right?

Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, the time is now that you start paying close attention to all 32 NFL teams as they open training camp. Why? Because if you want to be truly successful then knowing everything about the personnel of each team is of paramount importance.

Case in point; The Dallas Cowboys opened camp this week and immediately saw defensive tackle Tyrone Coleman go down with a torn Achilles’ tendon knocking him for the season. Defensive end Anthony Spencer has a bum knee and Jay Ratliff is battling hamstring problems already.

Why do I care about any of those guys you might ask and the reason is that even though these aren’t guys that handle the football, they are guys who can make a difference to the overall success of a team. If you go into week one of the season looking to lay money on the Cowboys and just ‘assume’ that Spencer and Ratliff are both healthy then boo on you as they say.

Before you wager here, get your information straight on the NFL teams you are betting.

If you aren’t willing to do the homework necessary to be a regular winner then don’t complain when the money trail dries up faster than an Arizona river. Health is but one part of a multi-pronged equation that you must pay close attention to as the preseason rolls on.

Get yourself on social media, especially Twitter, where all of the top NFL beat guys are. From Adam Schefter to Chris Mortenson to all the guys at Fox Sports and the NFL Network as well. These guys put out tons of useful, and occasionally not so much, information about players. Some will be health related but some is also about how well or how poorly specific players looked in practice or in a scrimmage or during a preseason game that you can’t see on television.

If Tony Romo plays the first half of a preseason game and looks like the second coming of Johnny Unitas then you have to know how much credence to put into that news item. Was it against mostly second-teamers from the opposition? Did Romo’s receivers just make great plays on poor throws?

This is the type of thing you need to consider on a weekly basis.

The thing ultimately to be careful of though is overkill. While all these guys out there are tweeting and facebooking every possible tidbit there is, that can become overwhelming for any fan let alone one who wants to wager money and not just bragging rights around the home or office.

Over time you will learn who to trust and who to take with a grain of salt. Either way it’s important because when you are betting the NFL, information is gold. The more you have the more you can choose from.

By this time next week, all of the teams will have opened camp I can guarantee you there will be at least one significant injury in all 32 camp sites. There will also be strains and pulls and aggravations of varying degrees but you need to know this if you want to be successful. This isn’t brain surgery people. Knowledge is power right?

In the old days, betting the NFL was easy because there were dominant teams and then there were teams that were just atrocious. There are still good and bad teams, it’s just that the separation between them has dwindled greatly. The premise of “Any Given Sunday” is more relevant than ever before so therefore you need every possible advantage going forward. Be informed before you wager!


Braves Are Dinged Up; Games to Wager Tonight

How will the loss of Hudson affect the Braves for the rest of the season?

If you haven’t yet heard the news from last night’s game between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves then let me fill you in. The Braves won 8-2 behind another excellent performance by Tim Hudson who won his fourth straight start. The bad news for Hudson is that in eighth inning he suffered a broken ankle on a really flukey play at first.

Hudson is expected to undergo surgery once the swelling goes down and his return is uncertain at this time.

The injury occurred when the Mets’ Eric Young Jr. hit a grounder that bounced off the chest of first baseman Freddie Freeman. Hudson bolted to cover first and had his foot on the bag when Young, hustling down the line, stepped on his foot turning in a direction it really isn’t supposed to go.

Hudson will become the second Braves’ starting pitcher this week to go on the Disabled List this week. Paul Maholm has a bruised wrist and was put on the 15-Day DL on Monday.

The question now is, can the Braves survive? These aren’t just two average starters either. Hudson is 8-7 with an ERA of 3.97 and a WHIP of 1.19. Maholm is 9-9 with an ERA above four and a WHIP of 1.39. Both guys are important cogs in an Atlanta pitching rotation that ranks second in the National League in pitching.

In terms of who fills these two roles, that’s up in the air at the time of this writing. Right-hander Brandon Beachy continues to make progress from Tommy John surgery with starts in the minors. He pitched well in his most recent outing at Triple-A Gwinnett. I would expect him to be up with the Braves sooner rather than later.

The Braves lead the NL East by eight games over Philadelphia and nine over Washington. Atlanta will survive the injuries to make the playoffs because of their lead and because the Phillies may very well have a huge fire sale to dump salary. The Nationals don’t appear to be ready to right the ship so Atlanta will enter the playoffs, but if Hudson isn’t available, that will be a huge blow to their chances in those playoffs.

Gonzalez takes the hill tonight trying to keep the Nats alive in the NL East.

Coming Up Tonight in the Big Leagues

Pittsburgh Pirates (A.J. Burnett) at Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez) – Burnett is 1-5 in his last six starts dating back to early May. Not great at all, but his ERA and WHIP are both respectable at 3.07 and 1.22 respectively. Gonzalez has been a nice bright spot for the Nats. He hasn’t lost a decision since May 7th and stands at 7-3 on the year with an ERA of 2.89. The number tonight is 7 (over -120/under -110).

With both guys having solid ERAs, I like the under tonight. The Nats get the ‘W’ and avoid the sweep.

New York Yankees (Hiroki Kuroda) at Texas Rangers (Derek Holland) – Kuroda has been very solid for the Yanks going 9-6 with an excellent ERA of 2.65 and a really good WHIP of 1.04. Holland has been no slouch either for the Rangers. He sits at 8-5 with an ERA of 3.10 and a WHIP of 1.26.

Both teams are below .500 over their last ten games and both are in danger of slipping out of their respective races. The Yankees are seven games back of the Red Sox and the Rangers have dipped to three behind the Athletics. Neither team can afford to fall further back even with the Wild-Card possibilities.

The over/under tonight is -115/-115 with the number at eight. Much like the Pirates/Nats game above, both guys have very good ERAs which leans me toward the under here and a win for the Yanks behind Kuroda.

Here’s How You Fix the Baseball PED Problem

News of A-Rod's pending suspension could come at any time.

Legendary and sometime out of place commentator Bob Costas stole a bit of my thunder earlier this week during his appearance on ‘The Dan Patrick Show’ when he was asked how you reduce PED use in baseball. One of my solutions has always been to tell players that if they test positive even once, they forfeit their opportunity for season awards, All-Star game appearances and the Hall of Fame.

Costas said this almost verbatim and he is on the right track but I have more to add as I try my hand at being the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Before I begin, it’s an absolute joke that Bud Selig will get any accolades for suspending Alex Rodriguez. Whether it’s for the season, 100 games or even the lifetime ban that’s being floated out there, A-Rod is 37 years old. He’s the highest paid player in baseball, has a World Series ring and has played more than three quarters of his career already. Way to come down hard Bud…

MLB must work collectively with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association to put an end to this crap. That won’t be easy. The MLBPA is one of the most powerful unions in America let alone professional sports. They will fight tooth and nail to make sure players make every possible dime regardless of whether they are worth it or not.

I think you can hear the fans loud and clear Bud.

The time has come to get salaries under control. The National Football League has done it (finally) with their rookie salary scale and baseball needs to follow suit. If guys know they can only make so much out of the gate then this protects both the teams and players and the fans that won’t have to pay $10 for a beer to pay these ridiculous salaries.

Ya I know, this sounds like socialism right? Take it however you want but I’m not finished. What you then do is link performance to increased or decreased salaries. Guys will still have opportunities to make boat loads of money, but it will be based on year to year performance rather than based on long-term projection.

You really think Ryan Braun is hurting from losing $3.2 million for the rest of the season? Hardly when next year his $100 million dollar contract kicks back in.

If you asked guys in a private moment like Roger Clemens or Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds whether using PEDs was worth it or not, they’d say of course. The money, championships and accolades were probably more than worth the vitriol they have dealt with since they finished playing. They are now resigned to the fact they will never get into the Hall of Fame and I’m guessing that crushes them. It’s the ultimate achievement for a professional ballplayer and they will fail to get there.

This is why the union and MLB must work on contract language that will be clear to any future player that testing positive for PEDs will automatically disqualify you from awards, All-Star Games and most importantly, Hall of Fame membership.

Will this stop every guy from using PEDs? Of course not. There are far more guys who have gotten away with PED use than have been caught and as long as the money stays the way it is, guys will do whatever it takes to get that one, big contract. Ain’t that right Ryan Braun???

The other thing I would do is make contracts voidable after a second offense. Most guys aren’t going to have their big contracts until after they put up huge numbers anyway so wait until they get the big deal and then see how they perform.

Don’t be a bit surprised if A-Rod’s very own team, the Yankees, is working in concert with MLB to get a lifetime ban on him. This is the only way they can get out from under the ridiculous amount of money they owe him. I could be wrong, but I’m betting I’m not.

Until the union and MLB can work together on this issue, baseball and its’ fans will continue to suffer. It’s high time we stop rewarding these guys. Make them feel the pain of heavy monetary loss and as well as the loss of long-term glory.


Is Braun the First Domino?

Ryan Braun was suspended by MLB yesterday for the remainder of the season for PED use.

I wrote a few weeks ago that Major League Baseball was reportedly getting ready to suspend Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez among others in the on-going investigation into the South Florida Biogenesis Clinic. I wrote specifically on the affect that the potential suspensions would have on your wagering going forward.

I’ll get back to the affect below, but first let’s cover the situation as it is this morning.

Yesterday, MLB suspended Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers for the remainder of the seaosn which amounts to 65 games. This suspension will also be without pay. Braun will lose roughly about $3.25 million dollars of a guaranteed contract worth well over $100 million. He’ll get the rest of his money so don’t exactly feel bad for him.

Braun immediately issued an apology which went over about as well a band-aid to cover a gunshot wound. He admited he lied and admitted he used and off he went.

More than likely A-Rod is next on the MLB suspension list. Make no mistake about it that his ‘quad injury’ is an excuse to keep him away from the Yankees’ clubhouse. They know he’s going to be gone in the very near future so why bring him in for a game or two? The evidence against Rodriguez is reportedly much more substantial than the evidence against Braun was. That’s no good for A-Rod and he knows it. There are reports he is trying to cut a deal with MLB on the suspension length.

Colon could be suspended as the dominos start to fall in the PED investigation.

This isn’t just about Braun and Rodriguez though. The reports have stated more than once that this could include guys like Bartolo Colon who is having an outstanding season for Oakland. Another Melky Cabrera of the Giants. Both Colon and Cabrera have been suspended for 50 games already for PED use and that was before the Biogenesis Clinic was on MLB’s radar.

Both of those guys being suspended would have major ramifications for the futures of their respective teams but it could be the Dtroit Tigers who get hurt the most. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta is also heavily mentioned in the report. The Tigers are trying to hold off the Cleveland Indians in the Central and Miguel Cabrera left last night’s game with a minor injury.

Detroit has just the elderly Ramon Santiago to fill in for Peralta should he been suspended. The only minor league talent that is MLB-ready is out due to injury or just lack of true experience. Peralta is a major cog in the Detroit offense and defense. Make no mistake about it.

Another playoff contender that could be adversely affected is Texas. Nelson Cruz is also in the report and could be suspended sooner rather than later. His absence would be a significant blow to the Rangers’ offense as he has 23 homers and 70 RBIs.

There are some other players likely to be involved but they don’t carry the significance of the above-mentioned guys. So back to what this means to you from a wagering perspective…

Braun’s absence makes an already bad Milwaukee team worse. If you’re betting in games featuring the Brewers, pay close attention to the pitching match-ups. Milwaukee is sixth in the National League in hitting so look for that to drop with Braun out of the lineup.

A-Rod’s absence doesn’t mean as much because he hasn’t been with the parent club all year. I would continue wagering on or against the Yanks as you have all season. Keep a particular eye on the A’s and Rangers out West if Colon and Cruz are both suspended. That will significantly alter you should approach games with these teams involved. Pay close attention to over/under numbers especially with the Rangers who lose an everyday player and offensive powerhouse in Cruz.

The Tigers have been tough to wager all year and it will only get more difficult with Peralta potentially out. Santiago is solid defensively, but he lacks the pop Peralta has in his bat. Pay close attention to how the Tigers trend in the week or so after any potential Peralta suspension.

This could be the beginning of major changes coming to the way baseball and professional sports deal with PEDs. You’ll need to be on top of the news prior to wagering.

My Tips to Help Tiger Win Another Major

Much like the US Open, it was another missed major opportunity for Tiger Woods in Scotland this past weekend.

In this business you’re either right or you’re wrong. There is no in between Last week I told you that Tiger Woods was not a safe bet to win the British Open at Muirfield. Despite some pretty good play for the first 53 holes, Woods signaled he wasn’t ‘back’ when he bogeyed the 18th on Saturday to fall two strokes back and then played about as porrly as Tiger Woods can on Sunday.

On the flip-side, I had Jason Day pegged to win based on his two strong finishes at the Masters and in the U.S. Open. While Day hung around until Sunday, he was never really the threat I thought he would be and finished in a tie for 32nd. He apparently suffered from a pinched nerve in his shoulder but wouldn’t use that as an excuse which is ironically refreshing.

Congrats to Phil Mickelson who shot a final round 66 to win the Claret Jug. Day started just one shot behind Mickelson so that tells you how vast the fortunes can be in The Open.

As for Tiger Woods, it’s time he started to re-evaluate some things if he still has designs on catching Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships. Fortunately for Tiger, and for you the betting public who want him to return to past glory, I have some suggestions to get him right. Whether or not Tiger takes my advice is one thing because I’m usre he’s getting it from a thousand places but I feel pretty good that my ideas will point him the most accurate direction.

A phone call to Harmon should be a top priority for Tiger.

1. It’s Time to Reconcile With Butch Harmon. There are those that will say Tiger was just as good if not better under Hank Haney but by brinigng Harmon back into the fold, Woods will also regain more mental toughness. Harmon helped Woods win eight of his 14 major championships.

The issue in this case is all about ego. While most of us would think it all lies whit Tiger that isn’t necessarily true because Harmon isn’t exactly modest. Woods wanted Harmon to be exclusively his while Harmon had already had an established list of clients like Ernie Els and Greg Norman.

No one knows Woods’ swing like Harmon does and if you think Harmon might be out of touch then consider his pupil Phil Mickelson won the British Open yesterday. Tiger needs to swallow his pride and pick up the phone if he really wants to make a serious run at the major championship record.

2. Dump the Red Shirt on Sunday Bit. It used to be cool didn’t it? Tiger would enter the fourth round of a tournament with a lead and there he was with his trademark red polo. The idea was that the red was meant to intimidate his opponents and for a long time I think there was some credibility to that. Not anymore.

Players are no longer concerned with Woods’ wardobe and the act has run its’ course to the point where it is getting to be more humorous than awe-inspiring. Perhaps Tiger could show up in a white polo on Sunday? Can you imagine the talk running through the course? That would actually have more affect on the players than his usual red. Either way, he needs to move on from the gimmick.

3. Stop the Excuses. Every time Woods wins, he overcomes ‘something’ in doing so. When he loses, there always seems to be an issue whether its his knee, his wrist or his elbow. Even fans and journalists are trying to make excuses for him. Mike Greenberg of ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike’ kept mentioning this morning that ‘Tiger looked like he was limping’ on the course.

Tiger wasn’t limping, he was getting beat. This is how people look when they are so used to winning all the time.

4. Mellow Out or Fire Up. Woods isn’t a spring chicken any longer and we rarely see that youthful exhuberance that drew so many fans to the game of golf. Can you recall the last time he had a major show of emotion that didn’t involve swearing? Tiger needs to decide what he wants to be. After his marital transgressions, Woods said he was working to clean up his language on the course and to be more ‘fan-friendly’ in general.

For awhile that worked, but I sure don’t see it anymore. Tiger needs to decide if wants to be the guy is emotional and passionate or the guy who wants to be back to his robotic ways. I believe this will go a long ways towards making him better overall on the golf course. Trying to do both is just not who Woods is.

If these suggestions fail, then I have several sports psychologists in mind….