Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

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Can Bishop Gorman tight end Alize Jones seize the moment, against USA Today’s top-ranked St. John Bosco? Photo: Barry Wong

 

By W.G. Ramirez

Just watching something like the final home game of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter after an illustrious career, one might wonder what that must feel like.

I did. 

For a moment. Not even the whole thing. Just a moment. 

After a nice buildup to the game, I was somewhat happy for Baltimore Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, who spent a summer in Las Vegas with a competitive collegiate club, Team Vegas. When Jeter stroked a double in the first inning, and later scored to tie the game, for Gausman, it was a moment.

Oddly, after 2,745 career games, his final one in the Boogie Down even made No. 2 a bit jittery – er, Jetery (thank you Mitch Fulfer for that one) – on the one stage you would have expected him to own Thursday night. After all, it was his moment. And man oh man did he seize it.

Tonight, when Bishop Gorman steps on its own field, to face what USA Today claims to be the No. 1 team in the nation – St. John Bosco – both the Gaels and Braves will have their moment. They’ll play amid the lights, beneath Gorman’s mountainous skyline, in front of a nationally televised audience that was switched from ESPNU, to ESPN, the network’s flagship station…

Yeah, moment.

In the same manner Twitter blew up last night with Jeter tweets, the Gaels and Bosco have had their fair share of attention throughout social media, with So. Cal pundits and communicative support systems tweeting about the Braves, and Gorman dominating local headlines this week, in every form of media.

Gorman opened the season as USAT’s No. 1 team. But after close calls during a rugged non-conference schedule, it dropped before climbing back to No. 2. And on Max Preps, the Gaels have been in and around No. 5 on different polls posted there, and this week came in just behind Bosco, as the two were ranked 3rd and 4th. 

Based on USAT’s current poll, this conceivably is for a mythical national championship.

Fact is, as the Review Journal’s David Schoen pointed out this week, Bosco is an eerie carbon copy of Bishop Gorman, in that you have a private high school resurrected to the national spotlight after its program dipped below mediocrity.

Just as Gorman took its lumps to reach the point it has this season, Bosco has followed suit. Earlier this week on local radio, Gaels coach Tony Sanchez put it in perspective how far this program has come.

“The hardest thing about this year is we’ve been everybody’s biggest game,” he told the guys on Gridlock – Mitch Moss, Ed Graney and Seat Williams.  

Usually, the Gaels are getting pumped for their biggest game – which, in essence this is – but this year they’ve become the hunted. Can you imagine, a team ranked higher than the Gaels with this game circled? Last year at this time, Gorman couldn’t wait for then No. 1 Booker T. Washington High to arrive from Miami. Washington won 28-12, the Gaels regrouped and ran roughshod through the state to win their fifth-straight title and now we’re here.

Here, as in Gorman opened the season against five-straight highly regarded foes on a national level; it is 5-0. The Gaels have been involved in a couple of battles – having to come-from-behind, and play some defense when it mattered – but they’ve proven their worth. As opposed to what Public Enemy told us in 1988: “Don’t Believe The Hype!” You better believe the Gaels are all about their hype. 

Bosco is 3-0 after opening its campaign with just as many blowouts, outscoring St. Louis (Honolulu), Norwalk (CA) and Central Catholic (Portland) by a combined final of 153-31. That’s an average final of 51-10. These Braves are looking forward to the postseason much more than the ones in Atlanta. And the Braves are looking at this as a territorial conquest. Knowing that as powerful as Gorman has been, in their eyes when it comes to Nevada and California the Golden State far outweighs the Silver one. There’s a sense of pride here.

A lot at stake, just as there was last night in the Bronx. The Yankees, obviously, felt compelled to win for Jeter and the Orioles are still in search of a homefield edge in the postseason. And just like last night I think we’re in store for a battle in this mega-high school game.

I ran each team’s numbers through a spreadsheet program that I use during the NFL and college football seasons to see predicted outcomes for particular games. With Bosco and Gorman, I have eight games to work with, and after using filters and applying a specified formula based on performance, I did come up with four final scores.

Based on the season, Bosco would win this game, 31-28. After all, the Braves have annihilated their opponents, so after factoring in what Gorman’s defense has given up yards and point wise, it’s not surprising they should score 31. If we were to base this on Bosco’s three games this season, and only Gorman’s last three, the Braves win handedly, 37-23. Considering how the teams perform at home and on the road, I see Bosco winning, 30-23. 

Add those three finals, and you have a composite prediction of Bosco 32, Gorman 25. 

But as ESPN’s Lee Corso would say on Saturday’s Gameday: “Not so fast, my friend!” 

Maybe Bosco is the actual target in this game. Maybe Gorman still has visions of last year’s loss to Washington, at Fertitta Field, and wants to avenge that loss Friday night, knowing what’s at stake on a national level. We’ve seen some impressive things by plenty of local athletes in 2014, so why shouldn’t the Gaels live in their moment, with a pair of standout seniors playing the final home game of their high school careers shining bright to lead the way.

On defense, one of those signature Nicco Fertitta hits to stir up the mood, and possibly cause a turnover. And on offense, how do you not turn to all-American tight end Alize Jones? Jones puts up outstanding numbers, and even when I’ve seen the Gaels play terribly, Jones’ play never waivers. He’s been the go-to guy whenever Sanchez needs something.

So while I see Bosco giving Gorman everything it can handle, and potentially leading 31-28 late, I think it would be fitting to see Fertitta making his play with about three or four minutes left in the game, the Gaels taking over on offense and Jones taking over the game. Filter in some crafty running by Russell Booze and smart decision making by quarterback Tate Martell, and it sets up nicely for a game-winning TD by Jones.

And just like it was Jeter’s in the bottom of the 9th, when he stroked the walk-off single for the Yankees in a 5-4 win, it’s the Gaels’ turn to play for the moment. It’s Gorman’s moment to seize. 

I’ll side with the enchanted football tale: Bishop Gorman 35, St. John’s Bosco 31.

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By W.G. Ramirez

Set to meet for the fourth time in the Fall Classic, the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox open the World Series with Game 1 at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox are trying to win their third crown in 10 years. St. Louis, meanwhile, is aiming to take its second title in three years and third in eight seasons. And as starters Adam Wainwright and Jon Lester will toe the slab Wednesday night, I had a chance to sit down with a Josh Johnson, starting pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, for his insight on this year’s Classic.

“Two really good teams, should be a really good battle, hope it goes seven games,” said Johnson, in between workout regimens at a local gym. “That’s the only thing I look for whenever I’m not rooting for one team.”

Johnson, who has pitched in both the National and American Leagues, said everyone he could think of told him the Los Angeles Dodgers were destined for the World Series, but he tried to warn them.

“I said don’t sleep on the Cardinals, they’ve been there, they’ve done it, they find ways to plug guys in … and win ball games,” he said. “They know how to do it. Don’t put anything past them.”

St. Louis opened a 3-1 lead over Los Angeles before dropping Game 5. But the Cardinals closed it out by thumping Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the Game 6 clincher.

Time and time again, they proven there’s nobody’s been better than the Cardinals when the season is on the line. After winning the final two games of their best-of-five division series against Pittsburgh, the Cardinals are 8-1 when facing postseason elimination the past three years.

Now they’ve got the Red Sox, who know a thing or two about resiliency, as they became the second AL team in the three-division era to go from worst to first. After tying the Cardinals for the best record in baseball during the regular season, Boston defeated the wild-card Rays 3-1 in the division series, winning both home games. Boston beat Detroit 4-2 in the ALCS to capture its 13th pennant, going 2-1 at Fenway Park despite nearly getting no-hit in the opener.

Johnson said what impresses him most about the Crimson Hose is their patience at the plate, from top to bottom.

“That whole lineup, they have a lot of guys who are patient, and I’ve always struggled with that,” said Johnson, whose four-pitch arsenal finds him throwing a lot of strikes, and eventually turning to his slider for an out pitch. “They’re both pretty patient, but I think the Red Sox have so many guys who are patient, but also have power.”

And as tough as St. Louis’ pitchers are, he said, they could face the same frustration he does against hitters who don’t mind waiting for their pitch, or will simply lay off and take walks. Johnson noted fellow-Las Vegas Shane Victorino as one of the Red Sox’s most dangerous hitters to face because of the fact he can hit from both sides of the plate, he can the ball anywhere in the zone and he knows how to hit off-speed pitches very well.

“Shane’s always been a good hitter, especially off-speed up in the zone,” Johnson said. “He’s just a tough out, probably one of the toughest out for the Red Sox.”

That became evident in the final game of the ALCS, when Victorino drilled a grand slam over the Green Monster to put the Red Sox ahead for good. And while few in this year’s matchup have faced the opposing pitchers, both Victorino and Jonny Gomes – two former NL players – each have homered off Wainwright.

On the other side, Johnson said Boston pitchers need to be wary of Allen Craig, who hit a major league-leading .454 with runners in scoring position but hasn’t played since Sept. 4 because of sprained left foot, is set to return. Craig is set to be the Cardinals’ designated hitter in Games 1 and 2.

“The guy raked all year, and then got hurt; but he’s one of those guys who can just step in, and I would suspect he’s going go to come off the bench or be starting and still be hitting it.” Johnson said.

Johnson also noted the Red Sox should fear Matt Holliday Carlos Beltran, who has finally reached the first World Series of his 16-year career after three painful losses in Game 7 of the NLCS.

As for the pitchers, Johnson said there’s no one hotter on the planet than Michael Wacha, the NLCS MVP who has been almost unhittable lately. The 22-year-old rookie lost a no-hit bid against Washington on an infield single with two outs in the ninth inning of his final regular-season outing, then pitched 7-1/3 hitless innings at Pittsburgh before Pedro Alvarez homered in Game 4 of the NLDS. With the Cardinals facing elimination, Wacha won 2-1 to send the series back to St. Louis. In the NLCS, he outpitched Kershaw twice and threw 13-2/3 scoreless innings.

“Wacha has been unbelievable, he’s been their guy … and he’s been throwing the ball well,” Johnson said. “It’s contagious, once you get in that groove, you don’t ever want to get out of it. Days go by fast, your start comes up a little quicker, and that’s what you want.”

Wacha is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in 3 postseason starts.

So all that being said, and even though he’s looking for a good series, who does the eight-year veteran think is going to walk off with the trophy?

“I’ve seen the Cardinals so many times, they just find a way to do it,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what it is; they find a way to get it done.”

Here we are just a couple weeks into the season, and many of the age-old MLB betting systems have had several plays, including one of my favorites – the Major League debut. The idea behind playing a Major League pitcher in his debut start is the oddsmakers are throwing a line out on a young hurler who has never been tested in an official big-league game.

There have been five Major League pitching debuts thus far this season, and after the Pittsburgh Pirates won 10-7 yesterday over the Cincinnati Reds, the system is now 2-3 on the year, showing a small loss of .70 cents on the dollar.

  • April 2 – Hyun-Jin Ryu (Dodgers) -110 vs. Giants – LOSS, 0-3
  • April 4 – Brandon Maurer (Mariners) +155 vs. A’s – LOSS, 2-8
  • April 7 – Jose Fernandez (Marlins) +120 vs. Mets – LOSS, 3-4
  • April 9 – Nick Tepesch (Rangers) -125 vs. Rays – WON, 6-1
  • April 14 – Phil Irwin (Pirates) +140 vs. Reds – WON 10-7

Most first-timers won’t get their first start until after May 1, as there’s been an appropriate amount of time for managers to sort out their lineups and rotations, while also getting their minor-league reports and know who is ready to call up in spot situations.

Personally, I like to think the managers know what they’re doing, much more than the oddsmakers, when it comes to relying on a youngster to win his debut. After all, it’s the big-league skipper who is in constant contact with the pitching coaches and knows the right time for promotion.

The oddsmakers are generally making the rookies a small favorite to an underdog of any size on any given day, but what the smart bettor has to take into consideration is the rookie hurler is embarking on the biggest day of his life and I can tell you the first timers generally do very well over the course of the season.

So while the public bettors are driving the price up on the opposing pitcher, I’m looking for the value with the rookie right up until first pitch. What I really enjoy is seeing one of these first-timers go up against a seasoned veteran, as the big-name hurler usually drenches himself with overconfidence, thinking the game is an easy win. You mix that with the youngster having an extra dose of adrenaline to win his debut, and most times it’s the right ingredients for an underdog win.

The hidden intangibles one might not take into consideration come into play with this system, and we’re generally getting some of the best value we’ll ever get in any of the systems generally played year after year.

So the next time you get antsy looking at a game, and think it looks easy playing against a rookie cause it’s his major-league debut, you might want to take advantage of the value you’re getting with that youngster and take the chance with the kid who has no official major-league scouting report against major-league hitters and that nobody knows about.

Why? Cause more times than not he’s going to shock you.

BETTING BASEBALL – Every year, during the first month of the season, my Customer Service Department is inundated with questions about BETTING BASEBALL. I can tell you personally – and have been the past decade – it is one of the best ways to make money, and one of the simplest forms of handicapping.

I am actually shocked there aren’t more baseball bettors out there. For instance, of the $3.17 billion wagered on sports in Nevada in 2011, a mere 18 percent was on baseball, compared to the 42 percent placed on football. And yet in baseball there is so much more value, epecially knowing you’re dealing with day-to-day situations, a pitcher vs. batter scenario, travel schedules, pitching rotations and some of the most valuable momentum you could ask for in any sport.

Perhaps it’s the popularity – or lack thereof – since so many people would rather wager on a fast-paced game, such as football and basketball. But guys, money is money, and just like in the stock market, you’re either investing long-term mutual, or on the aggressive risk play. The same applies here.

Now, with the regular season officially underway, let’s go over some important points you’ll need to consider, or phrases you’ll hear throughout the season, and defined here:

LISTING PITCHERS – I take into account the pitchers in every game in some way shape or form, and generally surround my handicapping around the starters. There are going to be times – not every – I will tell you to list the pitchers in a baseball game, which basically means you’re making a wager on a game and stating specified hurlers in the event.

If Cliff Lee is facing Justin Verlander, I might tell you to list Lee and Verlander, which means both must start in order for you to have action on the game. If one, or both pitchers don’t start, you have no action and your money will be returned. You can also play a team and list its pitcher, or only choose to list the pitcher your team is opposing.

Bottom line, when listing one or both pitchers, whomever is on your ticket must start the game (throw one pitch), in order for you ticket to be valid.

You can also make an ACTION bet, which means regardless of the pitchers who start or play, you’ll have action on the team you’re betting on.

MONEY LINE – Instead of a point spread, we have the Money Line; and this is what you’ll be playing daily – UNLESS IT’S NOTED to play the Run Line. Money Lines are expressed in terms of a dollar. If we’re making a play on the favorite, we’ll be laying more than a dollar in order to win a dollar – the same we lay $1.10 to win a $1 in football and basketball. If we’re playing an underdog, we’re investing one dollar to win a dollar plus the juice. For instance, if a favorite is -1.35, we’ll lay $1.35 to win $1. If we’re betting the underdog in that game, we’d likely be catching +1.25; so we’d lay $1 to win $1.25. Most bettors might not realize over the course of an entire baseball season, the house edge – the vigorish, or juice – is only about 35 percent of what it is betting on sports such as football and basketball.

Why? Because your investment is on which team will win. You’re dealing with that pitcher, you’re dealing with a lineup and you’re counting on a skipper that will do anything to manage his team to a win. And by playing these prices over the course of a season, you have such a bigger advantage. Think about it, you have the opportunity to invest in any number of 2,430 games. In pro football you’re offered just 256 regular-season games.

Now, this is very important, as we must discuss Sports Books. I will never tell you where to play, and don’t offer any recommendations on any, but I will tell you this is the most important time of the season to find a quality one, or use multiple ones to shop the prices effectively, as we’re looking for ones offering “Dime Lines.” Here in Vegas, I can get a nickel line at times, but that’s irrelevant.

Notice my example above – a favorite laying $1.35 and the comeback at $1.25. There are some books that will offer a .20-cent line, and you’d only be getting $1.15 for that underdog. You lose value by not knowing these things, so take in consideration your book when signing up. Understandably, at most books, as the price reaches $1.80 or $2.00 with favorites, the come-back price is now a 20-cent line and that can’t be avoided.

RUN LINE – Now, a run line play will be used throughout the week and here is where a “point spread” comes in. If the Tigers are a big favorite with an ace laying $2.10 to No. 4 guy in the rotation, I would be inclined to laying 1-1/2 runs, and reduce the price to +1.05. Quite a difference, right?

The catch is, my team must win by two or more runs. Rarely would we play an underdog +1-1/2, so we won’t get much into that, but the thought process remains the same, as we’d be getting a run and a half, lose by one and still win our bet. There are have been sharps and handicappers known to do this, thinking a pitching duel will end up in a one-run game, but it is not something I am a fan of.

When making a Run Line wager, it will always be based on the pitchers listed at the time the wager is made. If one, or both, of the listed pitchers do not start, there is no action and your money will be returned.

TOTALS – Baseball totals are the same across the board, just as in any sport, as there is a number listed for the game itself, and it applies to the number of runs both teams score in the game. This includes extra innings, when applicable.

Both pitchers are automatically listed at the time a total-bet is made and both must start for a total wager to have action. If one, or both, of the listed pitchers do not start, there is no action and your money will be returned. I will have action on totals, not a lot, but more often in baseball than in any other sport will I find value in MLB totals.

Many bettors will take into consideration the umpires in handicapping baseball, particularly the totals. I’m not that big on it, though at times I will refer to the home-plate assignment to solidify a big play.

SYSTEMS – No handicapper might like admit it, but when it comes to baseball, there are some age-old betting systems the late-great Mike Lee used to follow religiously. I love three of them in particular, none of which I’m ready to reveal though, as I work them into my daily lineups quite often.

The key to these systems, is they’re profitable from the start of each season, and basically to the end of the campaign. It’s not something you can jump in and out of, as there could be losing streaks with them. Fact is, there’s always losing streaks in sports betting, but you cannot lose focus on the task at hand, and must play accordingly, following the rules of your money management, the sport you’re playing and the system(s) you’re following.

This is the main reason I always insist on playing with me for one of two packages – one that’ll take you through the All-Star Break, or one that’ll get you through the World Series.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Good luck this season, and remember, it’s a very long campaign that can be grueling at times. The ups, the downs, the highs, the lows … it’s an investment, not a hunt-and-peck kind of sport you want to jump in and out of.

The prices give us an advantage at times, and that’s where we make our mark.

I follow strict money management guidelines in baseball, so if you’re on board long-term, stick by everything I tell you and follow the ratings.

See ya at the ball field, and don’t forget your Peanuts and Cracker Jacks, I don’t care if we ever get back!

With the World Series beginning Wednesday night, much of the debate surrounding who will in Most Valuable Player award doesn’t necessarily have to surround the team the oddsmakers think will win the Fall Classic.

Oddsmakers have put four Detroit Tigers in the top 5 of potential MVPs, led by ace pitcher Justin Verlander, who is a 2-to-1 choice. Behind him is Triple Crown-winner Miguel Cabrera, at 5-1. Then comes San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Poser (6-1), and Detroit’s Prince Fielder (8-1) and Austin Jackson (12-1).

Interestingly, while oddsmakers have made the Tigers’ ace the favorite, not one member of the Giants’ rotation is in the list of names I found, including a resurgent Barry Zito, who has won his last five starts and seven straight decisions.

Zito and Verlander are the starters for Game 1.

Venezuelan Marco Scutaro, who was named MVP of the National League Championship Series, is listed as a 12-1 shot to win the title in the World Series. He tied the league championship series record with 14 hits. He capped his NL Playoff run with three singles and a walk in the Giants’ 9-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night in Game 7 of the NLCS.

Delmon Young, who was selected MVP of the ALCS after batting .353 with two home runs and six RBI for the Detroit Tigers in a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees, is also listed as 12-1 to win World Series MVP honors. Young holds the franchise record with seven postseason homers, all in the past two years.

Here are the current odds from Sportbook.ag:

  • Justin Verlander (Tigers) 2-1
  • Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) 5-1
  • Buster Posey (Giants) 6-1
  • Prince Fielder (Tigers) 8-1
  • Austin Jackson  (Tigers) 12-1
  • Angel Pagan (Giants) 12-1
  • Hunter Pence (Giants) 12-1
  • Pablo Sandoval (Giants) 12-1
  • Marco Scutaro (Giants) 12-1
  • Delmon Young (Tigers) 12-1
  • Alex Avila (Tigers) 15-1
  • Brandon Belt (Giants) 15-1
  • Brandon Crawford (Giants) 15-1
  • Avisail Garcia (Tigers) 15-1
  • Omar Infante (Tigers) 15-1
  • Jhonny Peralta (Tigers) 15-1
  • Field 8-1

For my FREE World Series selection, and value choices for the World Series MVP, be sure to visit the Baseball Free Pick page at Chris Jordan Sports.