Win Totals, Euclid And Yellow Journalism?

Last week, the Westgate Sportsbook in Las Vegas posted lines for all the Week 1 NFL games.  This morning, bettors can find the OVER/UNDER win totals for every NFL team at the Westgate.  Remember, this is not necessarily how the oddsmakers think the teams will finish; this is their first attempt to get balanced action on as many teams as possible.

  • The Pats have the highest number at 11 wins.  Some of that is a recognition that the Pats will likely dominate their 6 divisional games and that they will win more than a couple of game outside their division.  However, it is also a recognition that the betting public loves to bet on “front-runners”; and the Pats have been at or near the front of the NFL pack for almost 20 years now.
  • At the bottom of the scale, you will find the Dolphins and the Cardinals at 5 wins.  Josh Rosen was the Cards QB last year and was just traded to the Dolphins; I suspect that he is less than thrilled to see the Westgate’s appraisal of his once and future teammates.
  • In an homage to NFL parity, the Westgate has 16 teams – – half the league – – with projected win totals between 7 games and 9 games.

With the NBA embarked on the second round of its playoffs, let me comment on one of the teams that was sent home in the first round.  I know it will not be pleasant for some readers to think back to their days in geometry class in high school; Euclid is not a real popular guy; think about it; how many people name their kids Euclid?  Anyhow, let me remind you of one of the fundamental axioms of geometry:

  • The whole is equal to the sum of its parts.

When I think about – or watch – the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seems to me that the whole team is less than the sum of its parts.  Euclid and his buddies say that cannot be the case, but consider:

  • Russell Westbrook is an indefatigable triple-double machine.
  • Paul George was a serious contender for NBA MVP for much of the NBA regular season.
  • Steven Adams is no slouch down in the post.
  • Jerami Grant, Markief Morris and Dennis Schroeder are solid NBA players.
  • Billy Donovan is an accomplished coach – – maybe he isn’t Phil Jackson or Red Auerbach, but he knows basketball.

Yet somehow, with that core of players and coaching, the Thunder have been eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.  In the last three years, the Thunder’s regular season record was 144-102 (winning percentage = .585).  In those same last three years, the team’s record in their first-round losses is 4-12 (winning percentage = .250).  Maybe Euclid can explain that to me…

Last week, I mentioned some of the issues and challenges that face the sport of horseracing.  Over the weekend, I got an e-mail from a reader who said that it seemed as if the sports media was “kicking the sport when it is down” with lots of negative publicity.  He offered some examples.  I reject the idea that the news about the spate of horses breaking down at Santa Anita in the last 2 or 3 months is “kicking the sport when it is down”.  The number and frequency of those breakdowns is well above the level where it is news no matter what the popularity of the sport.   The NFL is not “down and out” by any means, but if two or three players collapse and die in training camp in July, you may be sure that there will be plenty of analysis and coverage of those incidents.

He did send along two other connections to stories about horseracing that he thought were given larger play than they might have gotten a decade ago.  Since I had not been aware of either one prior to his missive, I cannot comment on how widespread the coverage has been.  Let me put a precis of the two stories here to see how many readers here are aware of these negative incidents:

  1. A jockey at Gulfstream was suspended for 60 days for “continuous careless riding”.  Evidently, the jockey had been suspended for a shorter time before this and had several disqualifications since the suspension and had been called in a reprimanded for careless riding.  One incident involved horses falling and serious injuries to two other jockeys.  When it happened yet again, they suspended the jockey for 60 days.
  2. A jockey at Oaklawn Park (that is in Arkansas for those who do not know) was also suspended for 60 days for deliberately whipping an opposing jockey in a race.  Evidently, there was “video evidence” and welts/bruises on the leg of the jockey on the receiving end of the whip strokes that led the stewards to this conclusion.

As I said, I was unaware of either incident, so I do not know if these reports were sufficiently widely known to be considered “piling bad news onto the sport of horseracing”.  I will say that there were details provided here that were far more detailed than what might have been simple announcements of the suspensions in the past.  Stewards at racetracks have a dilemma here.  Transparency is a good thing for stewards to seek; at the same time, exposing anything that can appear to be a “seamy underbelly” for the sport does not help the sport.

You make the call…

Finally, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald told us of the Miami Corporate Run last week and how it was going to clog traffic in the city.  Here he gives us the results of that event:

“Miami Corporate Run draws 27K: The annual Miami Corporate Run drew 26,698 pavement pounders from 882 companies, and the men’s and women’s winners were Dan Nestor and Ana Villegas. It was believed to be the first time in the history of running that a footrace was not won by somebody from Kenya.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “Win Totals, Euclid And Yellow Journalism?”

  1. There was a time when I watched horse racing about as closely as someone growing up in Atlanta could possibly watch it. I have been to Churchill Downs and Pimilco and Belmont. That said, I no longer follow it at all. The news about those horses never crossed my path because I no longer care. My point is, the news may seem overdone to someone who loves the sport, but to most of us it was a non-event.

    1. Doug:

      Like you, I followed horseracing closely in the past but have lost interest in it over the past 20 years or so. If you were to venture out to a racetrack in the middle of the week when there are no important races on the card, you will see that the fans in attendance are – by and large – very elderly men. That is a small demographic to begin with – – and it is one that does not provide a sustainable base for the sport.

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