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Wagstaff’s Picks: Inaugural College Football Edition, Weekend of September 2, 2017 August 31, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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college-football-bettingIt’s time for everyone to leave their safe space and confront the intersectionality of irresponsibly sourced animal product, the capitalist exploitation of undergraduate hopefuls, and the disempowering patriarchal sexism of the male gaze on the sidelines.

College football is back! And just in time, too… it seems like everything else we read about colleges these days makes them sound more like insane asylums combined with summer theater camp. I’m sure the morons in sports broadcasting will try their damndest to drag all of the repulsive college campus zeitgeist into what ought to be an escape from the news during their commentary, but another advantage of watching games on the big ol’ screen is that you can do so with the sound off.

In any case, as much as I normally like to wait a few weeks into the season before prognosticating on the outcomes of games, I decided to plunge right in this year. Last year I finished with an overall 59% winning percentage in both college & NFL picks. A little research told me that’s actually good.

I know, really??

But evidently, that’s how well the SUPERGENIUS game pickers all over sports radio basically do at their BEST. Most of ’em have losing records or barely even out, meaning a coin flip would be a better method than listening to people who EARN THEIR GOD DAMN LIVING analyzing sports.

I guess it’s just like any other field, that is – a crammed space of highly credentialed yet underqualified people. WELCOME TO MY WORLD.

Okay, enough bitching, and not enough bragging about my winning percentage. Let’s start with some simple picks, based mostly on how I think the bookmakers have misread some things.

In the BIG MATCH-UP MARQUIS GAME for Week 1, we have #1 Alabama by 7 over #3 Florida State. I think both of these teams will probably make the playoff at the end of the season, but in this opener, I think ‘bama will win by 10 or more, so I’ll take Alabama to cover.

I also like NC State to cover 5 over South Carolina. They were underrated last year, with most of their losses being under 1 score.

For underdogs, I mostly like Texas A&M plus 3 against UCLA since UCLA does even worse against the spread than A&M, especially early in seasons. I REALLY like Troy plus 11 against a fading Boise State outfit.

The enigma game I’d love to pick but really can’t is Michigan/Florida. I’ll watch it, it’ll be a good one, but even though I lean towards Florida as a 5.5 point underdog, I think Michigan will be trying to prove themselves all year long since winning the Big 10 playoff game is basically a trip to the championship playoff game, and they’ve got both Ohio State and Wisconsin in their path. I’d only bet this game if I were really, really bored in a Vegas sports book with an extra $5 burning a hole in my pocket. Other than that, it’s just one to watch.

It’ll be a good weekend to stay indoors, too, at least where I am and it’s 110+ every day outside. Ugh. Autumn can’t come soon enough, and not just for October baseball.

Hike!

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Being A Patriots Fan Means Not Caring About The NFL Draft April 27, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football, Uncategorized.
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bel

If only the last election had gone this way, eh?

The Pats have no first round picks. They have no second round picks. Traded ’em away for some strong talent, like wide receiver Brandon Cooks.

While most teams would view the loss of early picks a detriment, for the Pats, it really doesn’t matter. Tom Brady was a 4th rounder, 199 overall. Julian Edelman was a SEVENTH round pick, 299 overall.

Belichick will grab castoffs from other teams’ practice squads and have them out there as productive starters the following week.

I think he could go into a Wal-Mart, randomly grab a half dozen guys to bring to training camp, and turn most of them into NFL players.

Will I be interested in who the Pats draft? Well, of course. But missing out on the first two rounds only leads to a shrug. Compared to the level of hype over who the Rams or Chargers will pick out here in SoCal, or all the speculation over what poor bastards will get drafted and most likely ruined by the Browns…. well, it means nothing to this Pats fan.

I’ll follow up with my thoughts on the actual picks/trades the Pats make once the draft is over.

In the meantime, I think I’ll have a cup of tea.

Spring Is Here, And Young Wagstaff’s Thoughts Turn To Baseball (2013 Edition) March 31, 2013

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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2013Topps

Here are my fearless predictions for the upcoming baseball season which just kicked off with a Rangers/Astros game this evening. I kept forgetting that the Astros have migrated to the American League after 50+ years in the National. I miss those happenin’ 1970s psychadelic uniforms they wore well into the non-psychadelic ’80s. They’ve got a better look now, but they’re certainly at the bottom end of what’s generally considered to be this year’s possible contenders. The Houston team is a multiyear rebuilding project with a roster of mostly-unknowns and a new manager who is way younger than me. But more power to them all – I’d love to see a team build itself up from within with young players who then become stars together.

Kind of like the Yankees in the early to mid 1990s before they began an amazing run of post-season seasons that, as much as it pains me to say, is now over. My first prediction for 2013 baseball is that the Yankees will NOT be in contention for the first time since 1992 or so. It’s been interesting to watch various prognosticator shows on MLB or ESPN where the boys simply cannot bring themselves to count the Yankees out.

I can, and I’ve been a fan of that team for more than – Good GOD – 40 years.

Look how much talent the Angels had last year, and how despite all of it they could not recover from a horrible April by the end of the season, and sat on the sidelines in October. Now look at the injury-riddled aging Yankees, missing much of the meat of their line-up until mid May, with the Biogenesis shoe ready to drop on A-Rod and a possible money-saving salary-cap ducking contract voiding… the Yankees will struggle to get to .500 by June and will never recover in a hotly competitive AL East where it might only take 90 games to win, but I can’t see them getting there.

I can, however, see Baltimore getting there. Or maybe Tampa Bay. Or everyone’s favorite on paper, Toronto, who will probably do just fine, although I think they have last year’s Marlins and all their expensive signings looming over their shoulders.  What I think will happen is that the Orioles will take the division, the Blue Jays will get one of the wild cards, and both the Yankees & Red Sox will battle not to be last.

The AL Central will be more fun because of who I think will be this year’s Cinderella team – The Kansas City Royals. Yeah, the Royals have sucked since the late ’80s, but they’ve put together a solid group of young players who had an amazingly impressive spring, and I think they are poised to be in 2013 what the Orioles were in 2012 and what the Nationals were in 2011 – the team-formerly-known-as-suck that’s clearly on the way up. I don’t think they’ll make the post season, but I think they’ll have wins in the high 80s and fall short of the Tigers, who I can see winning the division unless Justin Verlander breaks his schvantz with Kate Upton. The Royals will get back in the post-season in the next few years if they keep this up, though.

The AL West is an interesting mix – the Angels have a hitting line-up as good as the great slugging teams of all time, but beyond Jered Weaver very little pitching. The Rangers have lost a lot of talent but made some nice replacements and will certainly be competitive. And the A’s have some great pitching. All in all, I’d think the Angels & Rangers will be at the finish line, although I’m not sure which will win the division and which will be the other wild card.

Over in the NL East, it’s easy to pick the Washington Nationals – this time they’ve got more experience, they’ll have more Strasbourg, and they are loaded with good young talent. The Braves will compete as they always so, and fight with the Phillies for the wild card.  The Marlins & Mets will fight for the cellar.

NL Central: I still like the Reds, who ought to go further in October this time. I think the Cardinals have run out of last-minute heroics and luck, and the Brewers will be the main challenge to the Reds, with a rejuvenated Pirates team playing spoiler, along the lines of the Royals in the AL. When the dust clears, I think the Reds take it.

NL West: The Dodgers went on a spending spree and put together a very impressive line-up, although they have some weak spots in their pitching staff and are vulnerable to injuries. Still, it’ll be them & their rival Giants fighting it out, and I think both of them will wind up in the post-season, with one winning the division and the other getting the wild card. The Diamondbacks will compete & play spoiler here.

I hope I’m wrong about the Yankees and that everything magically comes together, but I’m too much of a realist. I’m sure Pettite & Rivera will have wonderful farewell seasons.  Having Gardner and Joba back ought to be a positive. Jeter ought to come back from his injury decently, but I worry about that after seeing him this spring. Texiera & Hughes remain injury prone and they’ll miss Granderson’s bat. I just don’t see it happening this year, and with most of that team aging, they’d better start beefing up the farm system the way they did in the early ’90s and patiently grow the core of a new Yankee team that could start its run in another 5-6 years or so. But I doubt it – it took nearly 10 years of suck & disappointment & (temporarily) taking the reins from Steinbrenner  before the Yankees learned to patiently grow a team, and the successful run they had didn’t reinforce that lesson but probably undid it due to the way affluence breeds complacency. Bummer.

Welcome back, baseball… it’s been a long winter.