Several NFL Games for You to Think About for Tomorrow

Calvin Johnson returns in the nick of time as the Lions host the red-hot Dolphins.

I’m giving you some extra time to mull over these NFL games for tomorrow so consider carefully.

Miami (+3) at Detroit (O/U 43.5) – This is the most intriguing match-up of the week because Miami is red-hot and the Lions are winning close games and get back Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. The Lions have one of the best defenses in the league but now they face Ryan Tannehill is playing perhaps the best football of his career right now.

The Dolphins are playing great defensively as well illustrated by their 37-0 waxing of San Diego last week. This one may likely turn on turnovers and whether the Miami offense can handle the crazy fans sure to be in Detroit tomorrow.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Miami’s last 15 games… Detroit is 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 games at home… Miami is 5-2 straight up in their last seven games on the road… The Lions are 1-5 in their last six games against the Dolphins.

The Pick: I love the Dolphins getting the three and I’ll take the UNDER.

Frank Gore has guaranteed a playoff trip for his Niners. Now he has to deliver.

San Francisco (+6) at New Orleans (O/U 49) – Could two teams be any different despite the fact they have the same 4-4 records? New Orleans leads the NFC South after winning two-straight while the 49ers are staring up in the NFC West standings at both Seattle and Arizona. Because their division is the worst in football, there is less pressure on the Saints to win this one.

San Francisco has to face the reality that falling another game behind the Cardinals would mean a division title is out of the question. Therefore they have to play well in order to beat the Saints in the Superdome. If they go with large doses of Frank Gore I think they can pull this one out but that’s always a big “if.”

Trends: The 49ers are 10-4 straight up in their last 14 games on the road… The total has gone OVER in four of the Saints’ last six games against San Francisco… The Niners are 5-10-1 against the spread in their last 16 games against the Saints… New Orleans is 7-2 SU in their last nine games against the 49ers.

The Pick: I like the Niners getting the points in a game of much needed urgency. Take the UNDER as well.

Atlanta (-3) at Tampa Bay (O/U 46) – This game was a “pick’em” game early in the week and frankly this one is tough to call because Atlanta can’t win on the road and Tampa can’t win at home. When Matt Ryan gets outside of the Georgia Dome his numbers slip dramatically so why should we think differently here?

I think the running game of Tampa Bay is the difference today.

Trends: Atlanta is 0-5 straight up on the road in their last five games… Tampa Bay is 3-8 against the spread in their last 11 games… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Falcons last six games at Tampa Bay… The Bucs are 0-5 SU in their last five home games.

The Pick: I like the Bucs getting the points and I’ll go with the UNDER.

Other Games I like This Week

Pittsburgh (-6) at NY Jets – Until the Steelers offense hits a speed bump I’ll take them to cover.

NY Giants (+10) at Seattle – In their last eight games against Super Bowl winning QBs the Seahawks are 8-0. Enter Eli Manning and take the Seahawks to cover.

Chicago (+7.5) at Green Bay – More than a TD dogs are tough to pass on but I will here because the Packers have Jay Cutler’s number. Take the Pack to cover.

I Really Like These Sunday Late Games

Why shouldn't Philip Rivers be getting some MVP consideration?

I’m taking a look at the late games today which may be capped by the best game of the day when the Giants visit Philadelphia. Let’s go!

San Diego (-7.5) at Oakland (O/U 43.5) – The Chargers are a fourth quarter letdown in the opener  away from being 5-0 right now. QB Philip Rivers is having an MVP-type season and the defense is really coming together. In Oakland, the Tony Sparano era is underway. I can guarantee you that the Raiders will give maximum effort today.

San Diego has to be careful not to rely too much on Rivers with both of their top running backs out of the game with injuries.

Trends: San Diego is 3-7 against the spread in their last ten games against the Raiders… Oakland is 4-17 in their last 21 games against the the Chargers… The total has gone OVER in five of San Diego’s last seven games when playing on the road against Oakland.

Key Injuries: SD RBS Ronald Brown, Ryan Mathews OUT… OAK G Khalif Barnes OUT

The Pick: Take the Raiders getting the points and I like the UNDER.

DeMarco Murray cannot afford to fumble the ball the way he has against Seattle.

Dallas (+9) at Seattle (O/U 47) – There used to be an old saying that Monday night’s winners were Sunday’s losers. This came about because of less time to prepare and heal up before the next game. I don’t think that’s going to be the case here. Pete Carroll will have his team ready to go because this isn’t the normal Dallas team they’ve seen in recent years.

The Cowboys are running the ball behind DeMarco Murray and their much-maligned defense is doing just fine.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in five of Dallas’ last seven games… Seattle is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games against Dallas… The Cowboys are 1-4 straight up in their last five games at Seattle.

Key Injuries: DAL LB Bruce Carter OUT… SEA TE Zach Miller OUT

The Pick: Take Dallas getting the points and the UNDER.

Washington (+3.5) at Arizona (O/U 45.5) – This is all going to depend on who is starting at quarterback for Arizona. There’s talk it could be Palmer, Stanton or even rookie Logan Thomas who came in last week. I think you’ll see Bruce Arians rely on the running game a bit more either way.

For the Redskins, can Kirk Cousins bounce back from a rough go against the Seahawks? I think you’ll see them go with Alfred Morris and the running game a bit as well but the Cardinals’ defense is tough so he’ll have to throw at some point.

Trends: Washington is 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games on the road… The Cardinals are 1-5 ATS in their last six games when playing the Redskins at home… The total has gone UNDER in four of Washington’s last five trips to Arizona.

Key Injuries: WAS QB Robert Griffin III OUT… Qbs Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton QUESTIONABLE

The Pick: Take the Cardinals to cover and the UNDER.

NY Giants (+3) at Philadelphia (O/U 51) – With Dallas playing earlier in Seattle, this becomes a monster game for both of these teams. A Cowboys’ loss means the winner of this game takes first-place in the NFC East. The Giants will be hurting without running back Rashard Jennings but don’t be a bit surprised if rookie Andre Williams has a big game in his place.

For the Eagles it’s quite simple; they need to get LeSean McCoy going. He’s averaging less than three yards per carry right now and that’s not going to cut it.

Trends: The Giants are 3-9 against the spread and are 3-9 straight up in their last 12 games against Philadelphia… The Eagels are 7-1 SU in their last eight games at home… Philly is 5-12-1 ATS in their last 18 games at home.

Key Injuries: NYG RB Rashard Jennings, OUT… PHI C Jason Kelce OUT

The Pick: Take the G-Men getting the points and I like the OVER.

Baseball Playoffs Plus Michigan Continues to Struggle

Salvador Perez and the Royals are on to the AL Championship Series.

For the 40 plus years I’ve been alive the playoffs in Major League Baseball have changed significantly but the one thing that has never changed is what wins games in the postseason. If you can get great pitching and timely hitting then you are more than likely going to win yourself a championship or two.

It’s very clear that I underestimated both the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles who used this exact formula to advance to the American League Championship Series. Kansas City dispatched the American League’s best team in the Angels of Anaheim in a three-game sweep that was never close.

The Orioles rode very solid pitching and took advantage of a horrible Detroit bullpen to sweep the AL Central Champions in three games. Baltimore defeated Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price to accomplish the feat. No easy task but they got hits at just the right time and stayed patient as Tigers’ Manager Brad Ausmus was forced to go to his bullpen.

As for the Royals, they just might be that team of destiny we hear so much about. After squeezing into the wild-card, they then needed 12 innings to knock off Oakland in the play-in game. From there, the Royals used their pitching to almost completely shut down the powerful Angels’ offense.

I had both of these teams losing in the divisional rounds. I figured Detroit would ride its’ offense and starting pitching to a 3-1 victory and I believed the same of the Angels but the old truths about the playoffs haunted me as they did them. Of course I also had Washington beating the Giants (SF leads 2-0) and the Dodgers beating the Cardinals (series tied at 1) so I’m pretty sure I know absolutely nothing about baseball in 2014.

Michigan had no answer for Rutgers' Gary Nova in yet another loss.

More Mayhem at Michigan

Lost in much of the craziness that was college football weekend week six was the fact that Michigan dropped yet another game. This time it was a loss to new Big Ten member Rutgers in New Jersey. While I’ll say that I thought the Wolverines got jobbed a bit on their final drive in which a catch on the sidelines was ruled ‘not a catch,’ Michigan did itself no favors.

The defense has been thought of as the savior of this team but they were exposed all evening by the Scarlet Knights’ quarterback Gary Nova who threw for three touchdowns and over 400 yards. The offense at times looked better under Devin Gardner who took over at quarterback after giving way to Shane Morris last week.

The loss drops Michigan to 2-4 overall and to 0-2 in the Big Ten for the first time since dirt was discovered. It’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ Brady Hoke is fired as the head coach but rather a matter of ‘when.’ The man who hired him, athletic director Dave Brandon problem shouldn’t fare any better but he may survive if he handles the transition to a new coach properly.

Things are almost falling into line too perfectly for the marriage of former Wolverine QB Jim Harbaugh and the school. Several reports this weekend confirmed that this appears to be Harbaugh’s last year with the 49ers as players are apparently unhappy with him. It’s also no secret he doesn’t get along with the team’s general manager either.

While Harbaugh burned some bridges with many at Michigan in recent years, I believe he would be welcomed back. Usually when these stars align this well something comes along to ruin the pattern but time will tell for now.


My Thoughts on the Major League Baseball Playoffs


Bryce Harper is a key cog in the Nationals' machine.

I remember a time when the Fall Classic actually meant that it would be played in October. Actually, it’s now played in November because hey, the baseball season isn’t long enough already is it?

In fact I think a week after Thanksgiving don’t pitchers and catchers report?

OK, I won’t go there right now because this is a time to be celebrating baseball rather than ripping on it so let’s get to my thoughts on who will do what in the 2014 MLB Playoffs.

American League

Detroit vs. Baltimore.

The Tigers won five of six from the East Division champs but they haven’t seen each other since May. A lot has changed since then for both teams while some things have stayed the same. Postseason baseball is about pitching and timely hitting.

Detroit can handle both of those things with one exception; their bullpen. Brad Ausmus has his hands full in trying to juggle the bullpen because closer Joe Nathan has been a train wreck all season. The good news is that Justin Verlander is heating up and the rest of the playoff rotation is good.

Have to give the managerial advantage to Baltimore’s Buck Showalter who will not make knee-jerk decisions while Ausmus is a bit new at this playoff stuff.

Prediction: Tigers in 4

Royals vs. LA Angels

What a second half for the Halos who seemed destined for a wild-card spot. Their run coupled with Oakland’s misery have them back atop the West Division. The offense begins and ends with Trout, Hamilton and Puljos while the starting pitching will need to hold up despite injuries.

The Royals made a spectacular comeback last night to defeat the A’s in 12 innings despite the best efforts of Manager Ned Yost to screw things up in the 6th inning. KC will not be an easy out for the Angels especially because of the home crowd but I think talent will eventually be too much for the Royals.

Prediction: Angels in 7

Can Clayton Kershaw carry his outstanding season into the playoffs?

National League

St. Louis vs. LA Dodgers

The Dodgers won the season series 4-3 but they haven’t seen each other since the month of July. Both teams have some playoff experience but in terms of an edge that would have to go to the Cardinals.

If ever there was a series about starting pitching this would be it. There’s no reason to expect Clayton Kershaw to be anything other than brilliant in game one but the Cards will make him work I guarantee that.

If St. Louis can put together some hitting they have a shot.

Prediction: Dodgers in four

Giants/Pirates vs. Washington

A lot of people just want to hand the Nationals the World Series trophy and I can understand why but there’s a reason they actually play the games. Washington is third in hitting and first in pitching and they will also have a fan base as fired up as any in recent memory.

It’s been 90 years since a Washington baseball team has a won a title.

The Pirates will host the Giants tonight and while either team can give the Nats problems, I think the Buccos would offer more of a challenge but that’s not by a long shot by any stretch.

Either way, I like Washington to get by either team with great depth in both pitching and hitting.

Prediction: Nats in Four

If you’re dying to know my League Championship Series predictions I’ll abide by your wishes but just in case I’m not right about the divisional round I’ll “re-predict” later.

ALCS – Angels over Tigers in 5

NCLS – Nationals over Dodgers in 6.

An Early Look at Some Early Games in the NFL

Eddie Lacy has yet to really get it going the way he did last year.

Minnesota (+9.5) at Green Bay (O/U 50) – The good news for both teams is that they each won games last week. The bad news is that Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater has a gimpy ankle for the Vikes and the Packers gave up three sacks and nearly 400 yards offense.

Green Bay is 28th in defense so with all due respect to Aaron Rodgers and his “relax” comment, there are issues on this team. The Vikings have problems too and that’s why I would expect a sloppy game. As of right now, Bridgewater is a ‘go’ for Thursday night.

Trends: The Packers are 7-2-1 in their last ten games against the Vikings… Minnesota is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at Green Bay… The Packers are 0-3-2 ATS in their last five home games… The total has gone OVER in five of Minnesota’s last seven game at Green Bay.

The Pick: The Packers are too explosive on offense to lose but I like the Vikes and the points and I like the OVER.

Eli Manning appears to be getting on a roll as the Falcons come to town.

Atlanta (+4) at NY Giants (O/U 49) – The Giants just put 45 points on the Redskins last week and the Falcons are surrendering over 28 points per game. Overall, Atlanta is 30th in the league in total defense and I expect a hot Eli Manning and company to go right at them.

For the Falcons, Matt Ryan is going to have to have big numbers but his offensive line is severely banged up. So much so the Falcons had a tight end playing on the offensive line in Sunday’s game.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in four of Atlanta’s last five games in New York against the Giants… New York is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games at home against the Falcons… Atlanta is 5-2 straight up in their last seven games on the road against the G-Men… These two have split their last ten games with the Falcons winning most recently at home last year 34-0.The Pick: Take the Giants to cover and take the OVER.

Buffalo (-7) at Detroit (O/U 44) – The Bills announced on Monday that they are making a switch at quarterback as E.J. Manuel will sit while Kyle Orton gets the nod. Manuel has struggled and the switch isn’t a total surprise as the Bills have lost two straight since starting 2-0.

The Lions have their fans cautiously optimistic as they are 3-1 and find themselves atop the NFC North. The biggest concern right now is the health of Calvin Johnson who missed several series in the win Sunday over the Jets.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in five of Buffalo’s last six games… The total has gone UNDER in five of Detroit’s last six games against the Bills… Buffalo is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against the Lions… The Lions have lost three of the last four to Buffalo and all three losses were in Western New York.

The Pick: I like the Bills to cover and I like the UNDER as well.

Pittsburgh (-6.5) at Jacksonville (O/U 46) – The Steelers have to be kicking themselves after blowing a sure win against previously winless Tampa Bay while the Jags are 0-4 on the season. The good news in Jacksonville is that rookie Blake Bortles looked pretty decent in his first start and now he goes up against a defense surrendering 24 points per game.

The Steelers will need to ride their offense in order to protect the porous defense.

Trends: The Steelers have won four of their last six games in Jacksonville… The Jags are 1-7-1 against the spread in their last nine games at home… The total has gone OVER in four of Pittsburgh’s last six trips to Jacksonville… The Jaguars have won just one game at home in their last 11.

The Pick: I like Pittsburgh to win but it seems to never be easy so I like the Jags getting the points and I like the OVER.

Giants at ‘Skins Highlights Nice Thursday Night Football Schedule

Kirk Cousins put up huge numbers last week and may have to again against the Giants.

NY Giants (+3.5) at Washington (O/U 45) – The long-time NFC East rivals clash in a very crucial early season game. Why is it crucial? Because both teams are 1-2 and the loser drops to 1-3. Philadelphia is already 3-0 and Dallas is 2-1. While being 1-3 is not a death blow by any stretch it doesn’t make things very easy heading into the second fourth of the schedule.

The Giants rank 22nd in total defense and 22nd against the pass and that’s not good with Kirk Cousins lighting up the Eagles last week. If New York cannot get consistent pressure it could be a long night.

The ‘Skins currently rank fourth in both total defense and against the run. New York ranks 25th in total offense and 18th in rushing. This is where the G-Men will have to make their mark in order to keep Washington pass rushers at bay.

Trends: The G-Men have won seven of their last ten against the Redskins straight up and are scoring six points more than Washington per game over that span… The Redskins are 1-10 SU in their last 11 games… New York is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games against Washington… The total has gone UNDER in five of Washington’s last seven games against the Giants at home in FedEx Field.

The Pick: Eli Manning was better last week but the ‘Skins pass rush may be too much. Take Washington to cover and take the UNDER.

Mike Gundy's Cowboys welcome the Red Raiders Thursday night to Stllwater.

Texas Tech (+13) at Oklahoma State (O/U 71.5) – Despite the fact that Oklahoma State likes to throw the ball around a good deal, I’m sure Mike Gundy took notice of badly the Red Raiders were run over by Arkansas’ running game.

This reminds me of a typical Texas Tech team. Good offense but a defense that lacks toughness and playmakers.

Trends: The Red Raiders have not beaten the Cowboys since 2008 which amounts to a five-year losing streak… Oklahoma State is 5-0 straight up in their last five against the Red Raiders in Stillwater… Texas Tech is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at OSU… The total has gone OVER in four of the Cowboys’ last six games at home against the Red Raiders.

The Pick: OSU to cover and I like the OVER

UCLA (-5.5) at Arizona State – So far in 2014, the Bruins have escaped all three of their games with wins despite looking less than dominant. UCAL has defeated three unranked opponents by a total margin of just 18 points.

Heisman hopeful Brett Hundley has had little to no time to pass and now is banged up and questionable for this one. The Sun Devils are also 3-0 against unranked opponents of a lesser variety but they handled all three.

ASU has QB issues of their own however with Trevor Kelly out with a foot injury. Great teams find ways to win when they aren’t playing their best and the Bruins have done that. Can they do it again this week?

Trends: These two teams have split their last ten meetings with UCLA averaging 30 points per game and Arizona State averaging 33… UCLA is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road… ASU is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games against UCLA… The total has gone OVER in four of UCLA’s last five games when playing ASU… The Sun Devils are 10-2 straight up in their last 12 games at home.

The Pick: I think UCLA’s luck runs out tomorrow night. Take the home dog Devils and the OVER.

Here’s the Latest on the Races in Major League Baseball



Buck Showalter has his Orioles just days away from an East Division title.

With about 14-15 games to go in the regular season of Major League Baseball, there are races that are just about to end and some that are about as close as they can get. Here’s a look at where we stand and who I like for the MVPs as well.


The surprising Baltimore Orioles have their magic number down to just three games as I write this and will clinch their first division championship since 1997 and have not won a pennant since 1983.

Toronto and New York are four and five games respectively out of a wild-card berth and unless something drastic happens neither will make the postseason. An unfortunate end to a great career for the Yankees’ Derek Jeter.


The Tigers swept the Cleveland Indians over the weekend to essentially knock them out of it. Detroit now has a 1.5 games lead over Kansas City who currently has a wild-card struggle with the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners.

The Royals and Tigers will meet for three more games later this week in Kansas City and each still have series’ left with Cleveland and the White Sox.


The LA Angels had their ten-game winning streak snapped Sunday but they lead the division by an amazing 10 games over Oakland. The A’s and Mariners are both still well alive for wild-card berths with only the Detroit/KC loser perhaps being a factor. Whether the Mariners make the postseason or not, Manager Lloyd McClendon should garner serious consideration for Manager of the Year honors. 

AL Picks: Orioles, Tigers, Angels. WCs Royals and A’s.

AL Pennant: Angels


I'm not at all surprised that Williams has the Nationals on the verge of a division title.


The Washington Nationals ran away and hid with this division in the second half of the season and currently lead the Atlanta Braves by 10.5 games. The Braves are currently four games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for the final wild-card spot.

NL Central

Milwaukee has had a rough second half of the season and has dropped to third in the division. St. Louis currently leads the Pirates by 3.5 games for the division lead. Pittsburgh and St. Louis will not see each other anymore down the stretch.

The Brewers can control their own destiny with series against both St. Louis and Pittsburgh in the final 15 games.


The San Francisco Giants have hung tougher than I thought they would with their rivals to the south. The LA Dodgers have a three game lead over the Giants and will entertain them for three more games next week.

At this time, San Francisco would need a major collapse to miss out on the playoffs altogether.

NL Picks: Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers. WCs Pirates and Giants.

NL Pennant: Nationals


I’ll start in the National League where there shouldn’t even be a vote. Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw will run away with the Cy Young Award and should also take the MVP prize as well.

On Sunday, he picked up his 19th win and gave up just two runs. Amazingly, his ERA actually went up to 1.70 for the season. Others in the discussion would include Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton of Miami and Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers.

This is Kershaw’s year though.

In the junior circuit, the competition might be just as poor with Mike Trout on the cusp of finally getting the MVP Award after finishing twice behind Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera.

There are cases to be made for Oakland’s Josh Donaldson or Kansas City’s Alex Gordon but I don’t know how anyone catches Trout who deserves the award as much as anyone in recent memory.

Random Sports’ World Thoughts for the Final Sunday in July

Byron Scott returns to LA where he thrived as a player during the days of Magic Johnson.

The Los Angeles Lakers finally have their coach in Byron Scott. After three separate interviews and months of wavering, the Lakers finally decided on Scott. In the past couple of days, speculation had been growing that the Lakers were dragging their feet intentionally because there seemed to be a chance that Doc Rivers could be available.

While we might not ever know if there was that type of interest, it was thought that if Donald Sterling continued to drag out the Clippers’ saga then Rivers would quit. Whether the NBA would have allowed him to become immediately available is unknown but it would have been a very interesting situation.

As far as Scott is concerned, the former Laker is good coach but I can’t help but wonder if this has the touches of Kobe Bryant on it. Scott appears to be the perfect guy for Bryant to have influence over in his final few years. It’s a safe pick because Kobe can’t have much left so when he is gone Scott is a good enough coach to move forward.

Training Camp Injuries Already

The 49ers lost running back Kendall Hunter for the season with an ACL injury.

Training Camps across the National Football League have only been in full swing a few days but already the injury bug has bitten several teams hard. Baltimore lost defensive back Aaron Ross to an Achilles’ injury while he was just running, noting else. He is gone for the season.

The 49ers lost back-up running back Kendall Hunter with an ACL tear on Friday and the Colts lost running back Vick Ballard to an Achilles’ tear as well. Also taking a hit in the backfield were the Carolina Panthers who have lost rookie running back Tyler Gaffney to a knee injury. He is expected to miss the season.

These injuries follow the season-ending ones to linebackers Kiko Alonso of Buffalo and Sean Weatherspoon of Atlanta. Sadly, I guarantee we’ll see more of these injuries as the preseason unfolds.

MLB Races Staying Tight

At the All-Star Break, five of the six divisions in Major League Baseball were extremely tight. As we get ready to head into the month of August even that one lone division has tightened a bit.  The American League Central has the Tigers leading by five games over Kansas City who has won six of ten. This division is the tightest in baseball.

The AL East has Baltimore leading both Toronto and the New York Yankees by three games and now Tampa has closed to within 6.5 following a nine-game winning streak. The Rays streak may cause them to re-think trading David Price.

Over in the AL West, the Oakland A’s lead the LA Angels by just two games. While Seattle is 10.5 behind the Athletics, they are in prime contention for the wild-card so keep an eye on them too.

In the National League, the East Division has seen the Washington Nationals re-take first as they lead Atlanta by 1.5 games. The NL Central is the most fascinating division in baseball because of the race going on there. Milwaukee has a three game lead over St. Louis, a four game lead over Pittsburgh and a six game lead over Cincinnati.

The Reds find themselves in a situation where they need to decide if they are going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline this week. The same could also be said for the Pirates who need to add a bat or arm desperately.

The NL West is the tightest race in baseball. The Dodgers are just a half game up on the Giants who seem to have survived their earlier swoon although they’ve lost three in a row.

Stay tuned because I don’t see these races changing much.

The World Cup is Almost Over; MLB Races are Fantastic

I really hope the World Cup Final doesn't come down to a shootout. That's no way to settle the 'World's Greatest Championship."

The day I’ve been waiting for over the last month is finally here. The World Cup Final is today! I’m not celebrating the game itself, I’m celebrating the fact that this nonsense will be over. I’ve violated my own mantra on a couple of occasions by even writing about it but now I get to bask in the glory of it being over for another four years.

If you wonder why I despise ‘futbol’ so much a lot of it has to do with the over-saturation of it. ABC/ESPN will have a two-hour pregame today which seems a bit much. Heck, I even hate the six-hour Super Bowl pregame so two hours of soccer is about the equivalent of that in my mind.

I really don’t have anything against soccer players. They are tremendously talented and extremely conditioned athletes but that leads me to part of the problem I have with soccer. If the World Cup Final ends in a shootout today then I believe it to be a travesty. If these guys are so well-conditioned  then why are they not playing until someone scores?

Can you imagine the Stanley Cup Final being decided by a shootout? Ugh…

Oh… Is it too much to ask soccer players that when they score a goal they actually run to their teammates and celebrate rather than do everything they can to celebrate individually? Athletes in other sports are guilty of this as well but it’s abundantly obvious what soccer players are doing when they score and that’s to celebrate “me” rather than with “we.”

Of course as little scoring as there is in soccer I guess I can’t beat them up too much.

Andrew McCutchen hit homers in the ninth and eleventh innings to carry the surging Pirates to a win last night.

MLB Races Are Heating Up

While you’ve been inundated with World Cup and LeBron James coverage, Major League Baseball has been cruising along. When you open up the standings tomorrow morning you’ll notice that in five of the six divisions are about as hotly contested as you can get.

Take the National League Central for instance where four of the five teams are within 2.5 games of each other. St. Louis and Milwaukee are tied, the Reds are a game and a half back while the surging Pittsburgh Pirates have closed to within that 2.5 I mentioned.

In the National League West, the San Francisco Giants and LA Dodgers are separated by a single game and in the NL East, Atlanta and Washington are tied at the top.

In the Junior Circuit, we find the only divisional race that is not close and that’s the Central where the Detroit Tigers have stretched their lead over Kansas City to 7.5 games by winning five straight games and seven of their last ten.

The AL East has seen the surging Baltimore Orioles take a three-game lead over Toronto. The Yankees are four games out but received some bad news this week. Their ace Masahiro Tanaka is out for some time with an elbow injury. The team is hoping rehab will do the trick rather than surgery.

Two of baseball’s biggest disappointments also reside in the AL East where Tampa Bay and the defending champion Red Sox are both 9.5 games out of first.

The AL West has turned into a very nice race after it looked like Oakland might run away with it early. Even though the A’s have won seven of ten, the LA Angels have won nine of ten and trail Oakland by just a game and a half.

At this point, the races in MLB deserve your attention. Once your done doing your ‘Ole’ cheers that is.

Odds for National League Division Winners

Bryce Harper has returned just in time because the Braves have caught the Nationals in the East.

A few days back I gave you the latest odds on American League Division Winners from our friends at Bovada. Today I’m providing you the latest odds for the senior circuit, known to you youngsters as the National League.

NL East

Washington -180 – Despite a four-game winning streak, the Nationals have been caught by nemesis Atlanta who is streaking themselves right now. The Nationals have a little more staying power because of their overall balance between hitting and pitching. The return of Bryce Harper will help as well.

Atlanta +150 – At the start of the play today, the Braves are a half game up on the Nationals and that’s been due in large part to a six-game winning streak and 8-2 stretch over their last ten. The pitching is just fine as they rank third in the NL, but they need to get the batting going more consistently. I expect the Braves and Nationals to take this down to the wire.

Miami +2,000 – The Marlins continue to be a surprising story in 2014 because most thought they’d be bringing up the rear in the East. They’re just 5.5 games back right now even though they’ve gone just 3-7 in their last ten. The question will be whether they will make moves towards the end of July to better themselves for a wild-card run or will they dump players to get more talent for the future?

NY Mets +3,300 – The Mets have lost three-straight and are nine games back of the Braves. Not an impossible task, but a highly unlikely one to be sure.

Philadelphia +3,300 – The Phillies are only a half-game worse than the Mets but I don’t see any way you’d lay money on this team as they are currently constructed.

Can Ryan Braun and the Brewers hang on in the NL Central?

NL Central

Milwaukee -130 – The best record in the NL continues to reside in Milwaukee where the Brew Crew have a 6.5 game lead over St. Louis in the Central. The Brewers continue to ride great hitting which is over-coming fairly sub-par pitching. I think they’ll have enough to get into the playoffs but whether that’s as a division champ or not is uncertain.

St. Louis +160 – The Cardinals are almost dead-last in the NL in batting which just isn’t going to get things down if they plan to catch the Brewers. The pitching is fifth in the National League but cannot get worse if they plan to get into the playoffs.

Cincinnati +650 – The Reds have gone 7-3 in their last ten games but they remain seven games back in the Central. They are middle of the road in both batting and pitching and they just don’t seem to be able to gain ground on the Brewers.

Pittsburgh +1,200 – The Pirates have gone 8-2 in their last ten to tie the Reds for third-place in the Central. They recently sent closer Jason Grilli to the Angels in an effort to shake things up and it seems to be working. Will the frugal spending Pirates make a move though to improve?

Chicago Cubs +20,000 – Ummm, moving on.

NL West

LA Dodgers -180 – The Dodgers have closed to within a half-game of the division leading Giants and I think that is a trend that will continue for the rest of the season. LA is third in batting and second in pitching and I have a hard time seeing them finishing anywhere but first.

San Francisco +110 – The Giants have gone 4-6 in their last ten and will likely see their division lead gone as the Dodgers keep piling on wins.

Colorado +6,600 – No

Arizona +25,000 – No

San Diego +25,000 – And no.

If you want a sure winner, take the West and the Dodgers. If you are looking for a long-shot, take the Pirates or Marlins.