Super Bowl Odds

The NFL season is almost here. With this comes fantasy projections, mock drafts, and many other guesses that football fans will throw out there in anticipation of a new season. This is wonderful, like a breath of fresh air. Per VegasInsider, the Super Bowl odds are as follows:

  • 6/1: KC, NE
  • 10/1: LAR, NO
  • 14/1: Chi, Ind, Phi
  • 16/1: GB, LAC
  • 20/1: Cle, Pit, Dal, Min
  • 30/1: Sea
  • 40/1: Atl, Hou, Bal, SF, Car
  • 50/1: Jax
  • 60/1: Oak
  • 80/1: Den
  • 100/1: Ari, Buf, Cin, Det, NYG, NYJ, TB
  • 200/1: Ten, Was
  • 500/1: Mia

There are not a lot of surprises here, if we’re being honest. Although there are no sure bets when it comes to winning the Super Bowl, betting on Tom Brady and the Patriots seems to be a solid bet. Once again, they are the favorite, along with the Kansas City Chiefs. Depending on how you like to bet, you have some options though. Myself, I like to try and find the value bet; the team with longer odds that I feel has a legitimate chance to win it all. Here’s how I see some of these teams……..

Money Bets: For me, the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints are your best bets. The Saints are loaded again and will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. Both of these teams have top tier QBs and a lot of weapons.

Money Bets Jr: The Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, and yes, the Los Angeles Chargers fall into this category. The Rams tasted it last year, now they want more. If Andrew Luck stays healthy, the Colts can make a run too. The Chargers will need Gordon to sign and their WRs to stay healthy.

Sucker Bets: These are the teams that people, en masse, will be throwing money at. Realistically, their odds should be higher, but Vegas knows where the money will land. Why go high when the money will come anyway? The Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and Minnesota Vikings fall here. Yes, I get it, KC has an explosive offense. Show me some D, guys. I can’t see a team winning the Super Bowl without a defense. The Browns are a fad. Much improved, but not quite there. Pittsburgh and Dallas have huge fan bases, hence the money coming in on them. The Steelers have too many questions though. The only hope the Cowboys have is if they can somehow sign Dak, Zeke, and Amari, while also keeping them all happy. The Vikings will be very good, but Kirk Cousins needs to show us he can consistently beat winning teams.

Value Bets: These teams have longer odds, but still have the pieces to make magic happen. Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, and Baltimore Ravens are my value teams. I’m not saying any of them will win the Super Bowl, but I wouldn’t be shocked either. Seattle has Russell Wilson. Need I say more? Atlanta can put up points and their defense is getting better. Baltimore will rely heavily on Lamar Jackson. If he comes through, it could happen for these guys. The Houston Texans are my value bet pick though. Adding Duke Johnson gives them a solid 2-back running game and a healthy Watson will spread the field and keep defenses honest. Their defense should be one of the best in the league.

A few very good teams, I feel, are projected too high. Chicago, Philly, and Green Bay are all 16/1 or better. Again, Vegas knows where the money will land, so that may explain it. I don’t see either of these teams making it to the Super Bowl. The good thing about all of this is that we get 17 weeks to watch it all play out. Who do you like? Where is your money going?

Rookies’ Bombs, Antonio’s Feet, and the Return of Football

Quite the busy weekend we’ve had in sports. From bizarre news to young stars breaking out, it’s been pretty interesting. While the Major League Baseball postseason is starting to take shape, preseason football is underway. Guys we’ll never hear from again are leading NFL teams to meaningless wins over 3rd string defenses………man, I love this time of year.

Let’s start on the baseball diamond with a couple rookies who put on a power display last night. Aristides Aquino, of the Cincinnati Reds, hit a home run in 3 consecutive innings. This gave him 7 HRs in his first 10 games, which ties the MLB record set by Trevor Story a few years ago. I saw this guy play at the AA level last year when I was on vacation in Pensacola. He was with the Blue Wahoos and I was very impressed with him. A year later and he’s turning heads at this level; that’s incredible. Yordan Alvarez, of the Houston Astros, had a 3 HR game as well. He also had 7 RBI, giving him 50 RBI in 45 games. This is a new MLB record. Both of these guys, along with Acuna, Alonso, and several others, are ensuring that Major League Baseball is in good hands going forward.

Antonio Brown, as you may have heard, has been in the news. First he gets frostbite on his feet, due to an error in cryotherapy (I can’t make this up), and then he had an issue with the helmets that the NFL is mandating players wear. Antonio wants his old helmet, safety be damned. Seriously, AB, this is for your own good. He has stated that he will quit football all together if he doesn’t get his way. It seems to everyone now that Vontaze Burfict got the better of that on-field collision. Stayed tuned on this, yet another, WR drama as it unfolds. Meanwhile, Steelers fans rejoice.

We are 13 days away from the first college football games of the season. August 24th is marked on a lot of sports fan’s calendars, mine included. We get 2 games that day, which makes my heart smile as I type this. The Miami Hurricanes will face the Florida Gators in Orlando to kick off the college football season. Later that evening, the Arizona Wildcats head to Hawaii to take on the Rainbow Warriors. Expect a high scoring game here, as neither team has figured out how to stop opposing teams the last few years……….or ever. Jinx prediction………….7-6. Or 54-48, ride or fade. I’ll be in Tennessee for my annual week of hiking in the Appalachians. Rest assured, I’ll find a pub or sports bar to watch these games. 3 Jimmy’s is right next to my resort, nestled comfortably in the foothills of the Smokies.

Fantasy football is revving up too. We have our cheat sheets ready, most of us have done mock drafts, and every single one of us is sure that this is our year. Bragging rights are within our collective grasps. Mahomes, Barkley, Hopkins, Adams, Rodgers, Brady, Zeke, Gordon…………..who are you taking first? How high do Kelce and Ertz get drafted? So many questions will be answered over the next few weeks. I run quite a few leagues as well. Feel free to hit me up if interested. NCAA fantasy, NFL fantasy, pick ’em leagues, a parlay league, and a Money Dawg league where you pick upsets each week and get the Vegas moneyline amount in your ‘bank’. We always welcome new players. Come one, come all.

So get ready, get your honey-do lists cleaned up, and prepare to sit in that recliner every weekend for the next 20 weeks or so. Also, gamble responsibly. Having said that, I’ll take tails on the coin flip for the Miami/Florida game for $20. Who’s got me?

 

If We Politicize Murder, We All Lose

I’m going to step away from sports today. As much as we love talking about the games we like to watch, the world of sports isn’t the be all end all. The world around us, obviously, takes precedence. Life takes precedence. With 3 mass murders taking place last week, I felt I had to say something. I’ll preface all of this by saying that I don’t have the answer. Neither do you. With that said, finger pointing and playing the blame game does exactly no one any good. You might not agree with everything I say here, and that’s fine. But anger won’t fix that, name calling won’t rectify the underlying issue. Discussing it, calmly and sensibly, seems to me to be the best path to take.

Way too many people lost their lives last week because some sick, psychotic jerk decided to exact revenge on the world around him to compensate for his own deficiencies. Or maybe he just had hate inside him. Hell, there could be any number of reasons that these people made the choices they made. The bottom line is that lives were lost, while other lives were adversely affected forever. Social media became a circus of asinine babbling and accusations. The empty and vapid ‘thoughts and prayers’ train was barreling through our respective timelines, ad nauseam, until we simply couldn’t take it. None of these approaches were proactive in the least.

The left was blaming the right, the right was blaming the left. That disgusted me to the core. Murder isn’t political. It’s not this congressman’s fault, nor that governor’s fault. It’s not our president’s fault either. The fault lies with the person who committed the murder. And yes, there are many collateral issues that stem from this too, so hold on. We have a lot of issues in this country, that much is obvious. However, if you’re politicizing murders, you have essentially become complicit to the insanity. Just stop.

Is there a race issue in America? Yes there is. It’s an issue that has been present, in many forms, for a long time. Longer than any of us have been alive. The problem we see now, the reason it’s at the forefront, is because the extremists, both left and right, have exacerbated it to the point of violence. Violence is never the answer; hatred should never be an option. We have somehow collectively moved away from that line of thinking. To put racism in truer light, think about this; the percentage of your physiognomy that dictates whether you’re left-handed or right-handed is greater than the percentage that dictates the color of your skin. Using that logic, it’s “smarter” to hate someone for being left-handed than it is to hate them because of their ethnicity. Do you see how astronomically stupid that is? I sure hope so.

So how are these young guys getting hold of weapons that can kill so many people in such a short time? This, along with mental health, is the biggest issue pertaining to this epidemic. I support everyone’s right to own a gun. I see no reason that anyone could possibly need an assault weapon though. This is where I feel the government needs to step in. These simply should not be available to the public. Ever. I’m ready to go so far as to say that you should be imprisoned if you are ever found with one in your possession. For the folks who cry for the all out banning of guns; that won’t work. Unless you can come up with a way to make all guns just magically disappear, never to be invented again, then just stop. This goes back to us discussing these issues calmly and sensibly. Let’s come up with real solutions. Let’s stop pointing fingers. Let’s stop hating. Let’s unite, regardless if we agree or disagree. Let’s remember that we are the best damned country on this planet. Now, let’s start acting like it.

And now, back to sports……………

Why Cincinnati Will Miss Yasiel Puig

Tuesday night, Yasiel Puig was dealt to the Cleveland Indians before the trade deadline in a 3 team deal. The Reds got Trevor Bauer in return to bolster their pitching staff. It was a deal that most Reds fans saw coming. Puig, in the last year of his contract, was bound to be traded if the Reds weren’t going to sign him long term. It’s part of the game; part of the business. In barely 100 games, Yasiel Puig became a fan favorite. He brought energy to the team and to the entire city of Cincinnati.

The iconic photo of him taking on the entire Pittsburgh Pirates team in an early season brawl will be something that Reds fans will remember for the rest of their lives. That pic is on shirts, canvas, you name it; Reds fans love it. The city truly fell in love with this guy. When he was scheduled for an autograph signing at Sports Gallery, it sold out pretty quickly. He spent time with the kids, greeted each and every fan, and gave each one of them his attention. A true class act. And for the record, if you live in Cincinnati and haven’t been to Sports Gallery; get there. If you visit Cincinnati, it’s a place you want to see. Easily the #1 Reds memorabilia/collectible store in the area. Great store, great staff.

Yasiel Puig will be a free agent at the end of this season. Reds fans, of course, want to see him back in Cincinnati. Where he goes is anyone’s guess though. A strong finish could prompt Cleveland to sign him to a multi year contract. There’s always the possibility that he could test the free agent waters as well. But yeah, I would love to see him return. Ever since he came into the league, he’s been a favorite of mine. The Reds have some really good young OFs though, so I’m not so sure that happens. Actually, I’m highly doubtful that it would. Regardless, Puig has a lot of fans here no matter where he plays. He left his mark on this city and these people will love him through thick and thin.

In perfect Puig fashion, after he was removed from the game because of the trade, he jumped into another melee against the Pirates later in that game. Think about that; he left the bench to fight for a team he was no longer a part of. God bless this man. Indians fans probably weren’t too happy that he will more than likely start his Indians tenure with a suspension. Trust me, Cleveland, he’s worth it. He’s worth every penny you pay him and you guys will love him.

I’m so glad I got to see him play here, albeit for a short time. I’ll always be a fan of Yasiel Puig. He exemplifies everything I want an athlete to be. He gives 100% balls out effort, he gives you passion, he has fun. Most importantly; he gives back. Both to the community and to the fans. Thank you, Yasiel Puig. For everything.

 

 

Is Technology Responsible For Dwindling Attendance To Sporting Events?

As I’m sure most of you have seen or heard by now, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald brought this topic to the forefront recently. He brought up the notion that attendance is down across college football, and most other sports, because it has become too easy to catch the game on various forms of media. Cable, satellite, and streaming services have given us options never before offered to the die hard sports fan. I believe he has a point.

Attending a game is a great experience most of the time. For me, I love going down to Great American Ballpark to watch my Reds. Then again, it’s summertime, the weather is usually pretty nice, and baseball is a more laid back game than the other Big 4 sports. You hang out with your friends, drink a few beers, and hope for a win. If they don’t win, you have 161 other games to watch, be it in person or on TV.

College football is a different animal. Granted, the big programs will always sell out. Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida; the fan base is huge and the stadiums are always packed. Come late fall though, and the smaller schools, the ones not in the spotlight 24/7, simply won’t fill the seats. Not many people will go out in 41 degree weather with a light rain to watch the Temple Owls take on the SMU Mustangs. They just won’t. If you do, God bless you. The majority of the fans would rather watch the game at a local sports bar or at home.

Over the years, I have seen my own habits change. I used to head over to the University of Cincinnati a couple times each season to watch the Bearcats play. I can still remember watching Antwan Randle El singlehandedly beat UC when he was a freshman. Good Lord he was good. It gets cold later in the season though and as I’ve gotten older, that just doesn’t sit well with me. In addition to that, technology has made it very easy and comfortable to stay home and enjoy multiple games at once. My setup now includes 2 big screen TVs, a laptop, a Fire tablet, and a Nest Hub. 5 games at once in the comfort of my home, a pizza delivered to my door, and beer that costs way less than $8 make this an easy decision.

Pat Fitzgerald made some good points though. Sporting events aside, we have become far too dependent on technology and personal devices. I noticed just last night at the gym how many people were on ellipticals or treadmills while staring at their phones the entire time. There were even a few on the indoor track just ambling along staring at their screens, totally oblivious to their surroundings. Have you recently had a conversation with someone under the age of 25? Difficult, huh? Our technological advancements have taken away the ability to carry on a conversation. I don’t mean to sound like the ‘get off my lawn’ guy, but there has to be a middle ground that we can work towards. When I’m at the gym, the phone stays in my locker. At a game, it only comes out between innings or during a dead ball moment. At concerts, a few quick pics and maybe a short video or 2. Other than that, I prefer to live in the moment. We seem to have lost that in lieu of grabbing some sweet pics and videos that we can post to social media.

The world is always changing. We can adapt or we can be left behind. I’m not saying being left behind is a bad thing either. If that’s your comfort zone, then embrace it. Most importantly though, live the moment. I’d rather hear a good story from you than see a pic or video that you took anyway. It’s more personal; it means more. So go enjoy the games, whether you’re at the game itself or watching from your couch.

Buy? Sell? And What About My Struggling Reds?

It’s that time of year. Major League Baseball teams need to decide if they are going to be buyers or sellers. For a lot of these teams, the choice is made for them. The combination of a disappointing season and expiring contracts leaves them with no other choice than to sell. Rebuilding isn’t always a choice; sometimes the situation necessitates it.

AL East: The Yankees are the king here. They don’t really need to do anything if they don’t want to. They are easily the cream of the crop and the only moves I can see them making would be solely for insurance. The Rays need to buy. They have a great core and could do damage in October with a couple added pieces. The Red Sox have been lackluster, but I still think they buy to get back into the conversation. Toronto and Baltimore will be having their yearly July yard sale.

AL Central: The Twins looked to be running away with this division until a recent run by the Indians. Both of these teams will be buying. The White Sox are in a difficult position. 8 games under .500, but a good young group of players would make me think that they would stay put and look to the future. Kansas City and Detroit will more than likely be in full rebuilding mode and will sell to the highest bidder.

AL West: The Astros are the team to beat in the West again. Oakland won’t go away though. The A’s seem to be 1 or 2 key players away from being a contender through the season. The Angels and Rangers are long shots to make the post season at this point. With both of them being several games  behind the Wild Card race, I don’t really see them being buyers. Having said that, my guess is that they won’t sell either unless the price is right. The Mariners are looking forward to 2020 already.

NL East: This has become a 3 team race, with the Braves leading the pack. Don’t toss the Nationals and Phillies aside though. The East is up for grabs, so look for all 3 of these teams to buy. They’ll probably overpay as well, so this should be fun to watch. The Mets and Marlins are doing Mets and Marlins things. Down the stretch, the East may be one of the most exciting races.

NL Central: Another 3 team race is taking place in the Central. The Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals are all within 2.5 games of each other. The Cubs are the team with the most talent, at least on paper. The Brewers have an offense that can score runs at will. The Cardinals are that team that just always seems to hang around somehow. I see each of these teams buying heavily, if needed. The Pirates and Reds are hanging out in the basement in this version of MLB’s Groundhog Day.

NL West: The Dodgers are running away with the West. Although the Diamondbacks showed some fight early in the season, they’re fading now. On the flip side, the Giants have been hot lately and I can see them buying in an effort to chase the Wild Card. The Rockies have been hot and cold, so I’m not really sure what they will do. If I’m them though, I sell. The Padres are in the same position as the White Sox; under .500 but with a solid group of young players. I’d hang on to what I’ve got and look to 2020 if I’m the Padres front office.

And now for the homer section of this blog; can we talk about my Reds? I didn’t like the David Bell hiring when it was announced. I’m even on record by voicing my opinion in a blog on the day he was hired. He hasn’t been good. That’s as simple as I can make it. He hasn’t been horrible either though. My biggest question with him was his minor league managerial record in which he barely won 40% of his games. I’m not giving up hope though. Having said that, this season is over. In July. Again. The only players that should be untouchable are Castillo, Garrett, Senzel, and Suarez. If they can sign Puig long term; go for it. If not, move him too. I hate saying that, as I’ve loved him since he came into the league. Everyone else should be on the block, but only if the price is right. The ones I’d push to move are Gennett, Peraza, Mahle, and Rasiel Iglesias. Amir Garrett can be the closer and they would probably get quite a bit for Iggy. If only I could be the GM for a week or so.

We’re almost to the unofficial playoff stretch run point of the season. The buying and selling is always exciting. New faces, new clubs; who cashes in with a trip to the World Series? Stay tuned and play ball.

Peter Frampton: A Life in Music

As you may well know, Peter Frampton is currently on his final tour. This tour will bring a close to one of the greatest rock artist careers that we have seen. From his humble (pun fully intended) beginnings to a solo career that has garnered a massive following, Peter Frampton defined a generation, and then some. This past Friday, I got to see him once again in Cincinnati. And this one was one for the ages.

He opened with Something’s Happening. I have loved this song since I first heard it back in the 70s. I don’t think he has a song that would be a better opening tune than this one. The crowd was electric from the opening chord. Signed, Sealed, Delivered was up next; a stellar cover of a Stevie Wonder song. The I’m In You album is such a great piece of Frampton’s legacy. There isn’t a bad song on there. If you haven’t heard the entire album, make that positive change in your life today.

Then, at least for me, the highlight of any Peter Frampton concert; Lines On My Face. This has long been my favorite song of his. It is easily one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded, at least in my eyes. He prefaced the song by talking about former band mates from the Frampton Comes Alive era, John Siomos and Bob Mayo, both who passed in 2004. He dedicated the song to them and even gave us “Bob Mayo on the keyboards, Bob Mayo” one more time. Goosebumps. He played this song with more passion and emotion than I believe I’ve ever heard anyone play. Truly one of the best live music moments of my life.

Song after song, throughout the entire evening, Peter Frampton was at his peak. This is no surprise to anyone who has seen him. This was my third time, and he has always put on a perfect show. Show Me the Way, Breaking All the Rules, Black Hole Sun, complete with a tribute to Chris Cornell. All night long, musical Utopia. The extended I’ll Give You Money, with dueling guitar solos was mind blowing. Closing out his regular set with Baby I Love Your Way and Do You Feel Like We Do would have sent my teenaged self over the edge. Hell, who am I kidding? I’m 55 now and was as ecstatic as one of those girls when the Beatles came to America. This was a magical night; the kind of concert that we all wish all of our favorite artists would perform.  You could see the emotion on his face, hear it in his voice, as he said goodbye one last time to the city he called home for 14 years. He said he didn’t want to leave. Well, Peter, we didn’t want you to leave.

I got the Frampton Comes Alive album for my birthday in 7th grade. Frampton, along with Fleetwood Mac and Kansas, provided a soundtrack for my teenage years. These guys gave us the music that forces the nostalgia to kick in for people my age. The songs that really mattered were gifted to us by these extremely talented musicians. When I hear these songs, I’m transported back to those days, whether it was hanging with friends or those awkward Sock Hop moments. I don’t know if Peter Frampton will read this, but if he does, thank you, sir. Thank you for a lifetime of music, and thank you for sharing your gift with us.