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Wagstaff’s Picks: Weekend of November 5 November 3, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football, Horse Racing.
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07-07-20_mr_creosoteThe gut continues to be more successful than the deep analysis. I went 5-2 last week, bringing the college pick totals to 16-11-1 and the NFL to 9-7, for an overall total of 25-18-1.

Not too bad, not too great. I’d like to get a winning percentage above 67% by season’s end, although keeping it over 50% is always the basic goal.

The Breeder’s Cup races are at Santa Anita November 4 & 5, a bunch of high stakes races with the best horses in the world. The weather ought to be perfect, and I haven’t looked at ANY of those races and past performances yet, but if I put together some picks over the next day or so, I’ll post ’em here, since I may as well make this a one-stop shopping central for all things sports gambling.

Although my stats tell me that not too many people care about these picks. Well, YOUR LOSS if I keep my average up. Watch the Dow Jones tank, suckers… I’M giving you free ways to make money here, regardless of the election results next week.

AND the gut will get its due this weekend – I’m planning on cooking myself some nice dinners.

This week in the college games, I like Kentucky plus 2 1/2 against Georgia (sorry David), Washington to cover 17 over California, and Baylor by 7 1/2 over TCU.

In the NFL, I’ll go with the Eagles plus 2 1/2 against the Giants, the Cowboys to cover 7 1/2 over the Browns, and the Saints to cover 4 1/2 over the Forty Niners.

My Patriots have a bye week, so it will be a relatively unemotional weekend…. until I pet my cat and swoon.

Or if I manage to hit a pick 4 betting the Breeder’s Cup. But we’ll see about that after I handicap the lot of ’em.

Wagstaff’s Picks – Weekend of October 29, 2016 October 27, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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ronjeremyGo with the gut! Adopting that particular bit of strategery ran the table last week, with a 6-0 record.

So I’ll try to keep the mojo goin’ this week. Now that I’ve finished watching this Thursday’s edition of NFL trainwreck & am going through the DVR’s assortment of TV episode crap to catch up on, I’ll multitask enough to go over this week’s matchups and try my best.

Why must the Thursday night NFL uniforms look like old Dr. Denton footie pajamas? Who came up with that neon bright idea?

Anyway, in the college games, let’s go with Arizona State plus 7 1/2 against Oregon, Auburn by 4 over Ole Miss, Stanford by 5 1/2 over Arizona, and Temple by 7 over Cincy.

In the NFL, I like the Broncos by 4 1/2 over the Chargers, the Raiders over the Bucs in a straight-up pick, and the Vikings to cover 5 over the Bears.

I also hope I handicapped the right amount of candy to buy for giving out on Halloween. Otherwise the Wagstaff diet will be tested severely, although if my gut truly is making better picks, it might be good to grow it.



Wagstaff’s Picks – Weekend of October 22, 2016 October 21, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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18767Here’s a secret: pick the OPPOSITE of what I pick, and you’ll make TONS of money.

Not just with football, either. Ask me about stocks & mutual funds sometime. You won’t go wrong.

Trying something a little new this week. I’m subordinating number crunching to looking more at trends and gut feelings. And considering the dinner I just had, the gut is on the upswing.

In the college games, I’ll go with West Virginia to cover 6 over TCU, Wisconsin to cover 4 1/2 over Iowa, and Utah plus 7 against UCLA.

I think West VA is looking very good, Wisconsin will not lose 3 in a row, and Utah/UCLA will be a close one.

In the pros, how about the Eagles plus 3 against the Vikings, the Raiders plus 1 against the Jaguars, and the Chargers plus 6 against the Falcons.

I think the Eagles won’t lose 3 in a row either, the Raiders are looking good, and the Chargers have kept things close even when they’ve lost games or badly blown them.

So there.

Now call that bookie & bet your life savings. You’re welcome.

Wagstaff’s Picks – Weekend of October 15, 2016 October 14, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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gambling_cat-jpgoriginalOkay, okay, my picks last week SUCKED. Got killed on some spreads, picked losing teams in others.

So therefore, I’M DUE!

No, really, that’s how it works.

Right now, I’m in sports overload –  both pro and college football are in full swing, baseball is in post-season, the NHL just started back up, and Santa Anita is in its fall meet.

AND I’m halfway through the edit/revision of the new Wagstaff novel draft before it goes off to the proofreaders/test audience.

AND my ten year old desktop died, and since replacing the logic board was ridiculously expensive unless I did it myself (which is just, well, NEVER happening), I opened it up and mined it for parts instead.

AND I just fixed one of my toilets. (I need more than one. It’s complicated.)

Anyway, in the college games, I like Nebraska to cover 3 over Indiana, Texas Tech plus 1 1/2 against West Virginia, a we-need-to-recover-from-last-week’s-upset Houston by 21 over Tulsa, and in another “iffy” pick, Washington State to cover 7 1/2 over UCLA.

In the pros, just a pair: the Steelers by 7 1/2 over the Dolphins, and the Falcons plus 6 against the Seahawks. The Eagles by 3 over the Redskins was tempting, but both of those teams strike me as running hot/cold at odd times.

AND now it’s time to make dinner. Red clam sauce pasta, ooooh yeah….

Wagstaff’s Picks – Weekend of October 8, 2016 October 6, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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cap4905le-pngoriginalI was no better than a coin flip last week, I’m sorry to say. I’m picking winning teams, mostly, but the point spreads are messing up my batting average. October-November is the time of year when the best information is available for picking football spreads, so hopefully my results will improve over these next few weeks.

In other news, I figured out a swell re-write for a stumbling block in editing the new Wagstaff mystery novel. It’s best to let a comic set-piece sit for a while – when I went back to it and didn’t find it as funny the second time around, I knew it needed replacing. Maybe after publishing, I’ll write a blog entry about what I changed, since I essentially swapped one true anecdote for another.

After poring over this weekend’s matchups, here’s what I’ve come up with:

In the college games, I like Minnesota plus 1 1/2 against Iowa in a game I think they can win outright. I also think Ohio State can cover 29 over Indiana, North Carolina State can cover 2 over a shaky looking Notre Dame, and in the “iffy” category, I’d take Houston to cover 17 over Navy, although I’d rather give Navy less points.

In the NFL, I like the Vikings by 7 over the Texans, the Eagles by 3 over the Lions, and the Raiders by 3 1/2 over the Chargers.

Oh, and I think the Patriots will have a different quarterback this week from what we’ve seen so far this season. That should be interesting.

Wagstaff’s Picks, Weekend of October 1,2016 September 29, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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college-football-bettingMy blog stats tell me very few people are interested in these football picks, but I’m going to keep making them anyway. I went 5-3 last week, missing both NFL picks but going 4-1 in college.

I could be making people money if they paid attention. I have a better batting average than the prognosticators in my local paper as well as what I’ve seen on ESPN & the networks, and unlike THOSE LOSERS, I’M working with point spreads!


So bear that in mind when I say that I don’t have a whole lot of big-bet confidence in nearly all of this week’s picks. Well, maybe a couple of ’em….

In the college games, I’ll go with my favorite spread-winner Ball State to cover 4 over Northern Illinois, LA Monroe plus 32 1/2 against Auburn, Arizona plus 13 1/2 against UCLA, and Ohio State to cover 38 over Rutgers.

In the Pros, I like the Falcons plus 3 1/2 against the Panthers at home, the Lions to cover 3 over the Bears, and the Vikings to cover 5 1/2 over the Giants on Monday night.

I also like that Santa Anita starts its fall meet this weekend. I’ll probably just paper-handicap it & see how the track plays this weekend and bet the next few. And no, I don’t think I’ll be posting horse picks here. I have a feeling that’d draw even fewer hits than the football.

I also like this new usb-powered external fan stand I got for my laptop since now I can actually put it on my lap without feeling like my thighs are getting sunburned.

Now editing the new Wagstaff novel will literally be cool….

Wagstaff’s Picks For 9/24 & 25 2016 September 23, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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He's tanned, rested & ready to go!!!!

He’s tanned, rested & ready to go!!!!

So now with Jacoby Brissett injured, does Edelman play quarterback for the Patriots? Does Jimmy G come back with a banged up shoulder? Do they put facial prosthetics on Tom Brady along with a fat suit and see if they can pass him off as the local high school coach who really, really wants a shot at the NFL?

I guess we’ll see.

But it’s getting ridiculous. Maybe we’ll really get to see how great a coach Belichick is when he plays a game with NO quarterback and still manages to win.

Suit up Steve Grogan, I say.

Anyway, to my picks. Two wins, one loss and a tie last week. The ties always amaze me – on how well the odds makers can call some of these things.

There are a couple of games I’m including this week with the caveat that I think the result will be very close to the spread.

In the college games, I’ve grouped my picks into the ones I’m fairly confident about, and the ones I’m iffier about. I guess if I were in Vegas, that’d affect how much money I’d put on ’em.

In the confident column, I’ll take Ball State to cover 3 1/2 over Florida Atlantic, Michigan to cover 17 1/2 over Penn State, and Stanford to cover 3 over UCLA.

In the iffy column, put me down for Utah by 3 over USC, BYU plus 7 against West Virginia, Washington by 14 over Arizona in a game I think will be somewhere around 15 points (ugh), and Miami-Ohio plus 17 against Cincinnati.

In the NFL, I’ll take the Titans in a straight-up pick to beat the Raiders, and the Steelers to cover 4 over the Eagles.

By the way, if anyone out there is winning money from my picks, feel free to Paypal me a share. That way you won’t go to hell.


Wagstaff’s Picks For 9/17/16 September 16, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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Let’s all hear it for Jimmy G! Not only did he have a solid game against a highly-possible Superbowl team on their home turf, he gave the PERFECT Bill Belichick-approved postgame interview. They shoved a mic in his face and asked him how he felt about his showcase victory on national TV, and all he talked about was how it was a team effort, and how he wanted to watch the films to focus on the mistakes he made so that he’ll do better next time.

So, basically, take THAT Johnny Football, Ryan Leaf, and oh, JACKHAMMER-FUCK ROGER GOODELL while we’re at it.

Thus endeth my Patriots rant for the week.

I have NO NFL picks for this week. I don’t like any of the spread matchups, and as last week’s results proved, it’s just too damn early to outguess the oddsmakers on some of these things. Both my losing picks missed by 1 point, both winning ones did just fine, but you could’ve flipped a coin for the same results statistically speaking.

I think I have a little more to go on for college picks, so here we go: In probably the best game of the weekend, I’ll take Louisville to upset Florida State in a straight-up pick. Elsewhere, I’ll go with Auburn to cover 3 over Texas A&M, Ohio State to cover 1 1/2 over Oklahoma, and Nebraska to cover 3 over Oregon.

No underdogs this week.  And I don’t have to payoff the loan shark, whew!



Football Is Back! And So Are Wagstaff’s Picks. September 8, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football, Horse Racing.
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93660I spent most of my Labor Day weekend watching football & betting Del Mar.

I probably should have watched more football.

The closing days of Del Mar are ALWAYS a crazy crapshoot the way I see it. For the past several years, the pattern has been for 25-to-1 shots and up to win the non-stakes races down the card, with no discernible pattern to it whatsoever. This year, after picking likely winners in the stakes portion of a THREE MILLION DOLLAR pool pick 6 sequence (Yow!), and getting all of ’em, thank you very much…. I tried picking the other half of the races in the sequence based on whatever factors I could assume led to huge odds upsets. My horses in those races finished 2nd, 4th and way, way out of the money. So much for that thirty bucks.

I’ll be taking a break from the SoCal tracks until Santa Anita gets going again at the end of the month. The pools at Los Alamitos aren’t quite there for me yet.

In the meantime, I can regale you with football picks.

I don’t like making picks the first week of college ball, although the 11 points Houston got versus Oklahoma would have tempted me plenty in Vegas (and turned out to be right). After reviewing the odds of both college & pro games this week, here’s what I think.

In the pros, with nothing to go on but team reputation in week one, I’d take the Bengals to cover 2 over the Jets, and the Steelers to cover 3 over the Redskins.

I don’t have high hopes for the Brady-less Patriots playing in Arizona, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised. They went 11-5 with Brady out for an entire year, and Belichick could probably coach a Star Trek convention trivia panel to win an NFL game, so who the hell knows?

In college games, there’s still not a lot to go on comparative-stat wise, so I’ll go with historic patterns and my (pasta) gut and pick Ball State plus 16 against Indiana, and a wishy-washy pick of Alabama to cover 29 1/2 against West Kentucky.

Want a scientific saber-metric type approach to football? Check this article out, it’s pretty interesting.

This weekend needs to be spent editing the new Wagstaff book. It’s on the way…



The Fates Drive Me To A Yardsale August 27, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Art, Baseball, Books.
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dome-of-the-cathedral-1420-1436The only reason I saw the neon green sign pointing towards a local sale was because I took a right turn and not a left, since a car was heading towards me and I didn’t feel like stopping and waiting. I figured I’d take the equidistant alternate route to get to my first errand stop, Home Depot.

That’s right… Home Depot, on a Saturday. All part of being the manly man I am.

Anyway, I saw the sign and figured why-the-hell-not, and drove the extra block to where I saw a driveway lined with assorted chazerei.

And then the actions of the fates became more clear.

I looked through the sole box of books sitting in the driveway and found a couple of big illustrated kid books about boats & sailing I earmarked for my nephew. I noticed the ENTIRE box of books centered around boating, the sea, or Captain Horatio Hornblower.

I asked the price, and the guy told me he had more books they were planning to sell next week, and he let me take a look. Turns out it was all his father-in-law’s stuff and they were selling it all off.

More books on the sea and boating. A box of Louis L’Amour novels.

But then a box of hardcover anthologies of old comics – Li’l Abner, Dick Tracy, Superman, etc. I chatted with the guy and told him he ought to look some of them up to see if they worth more than a couple of bucks. Then I found what looked like one of the old Collier series of Hemingway from the late 30s or whatever, as well as some old book of Civil War Songs published in 1889.

Nope, did NOT buy them for 25 cents a pop & flip them for thousands on ebay, I told the guy he ought to look up what they’re actually worth, and THAT little bit of charm got me some major discounting on the sailing books and two books on Renaissance Architecture I’m looking forward to, Brunellschi’s Dome and The Feud That Sparked The Renaissance, about Brunelleschi’s rivalry with Ghiberti.  I loved visiting Florence some years ago. Maybe these two volumes will take me back there for a while, for fifty cents a pop.

And then, as my conversation with the guy went from Florence to art to history to where I’m from, we somehow found ourselves in baseball, and I got the entire biography of the yardsaler, who turned out to be a former pro baseball player who got bottled up in the Orioles organization of the early ’70s since they were overloaded with pitchers already. He had the bad luck to land in the farm system of a team with FOUR twenty game winners on their starting staff. Oy!

He recounted some stories from his minor league days, his later coaching days and so forth, but what stuck with me turned out to be something I’d almost expect from any former pro athlete.

He could recite all of his stats from more than 40 years ago.

His walk to strikeout ratio, his innings pitched, the then-future major leaguers he defeated in Class A and Class AA games in 1972, what the score was each time, you name it. I’m sure he could have told me the pitch sequence to every batter he faced if I’d asked.

We talked a bit about how the game had changed, especially for pitchers.  He told me how be blew out his rotator cuff and back before they figured out how to fix Tommy John and how it basically ended his baseball career.  It was an entertaining chat with another guy who misses playing actual hardball a lot more than I do, which is saying something.

And then Home Depot beckoned. The new a/c unit at Castle Wagstaff takes a different filter size than its predecessor. It will provide respite from the triple digit temps outside while I read my books on Florence and drink wine, perhaps. Maybe then I won’t miss playing baseball as much.