Pints and Picks Week 4: No bye week for bad bets

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Each week DPB’s Kyle Magin and Andrew J. Pridgen will pour on the prose with Pints and Picks™. Who to wager and what to drink while doing it. Here then, is their point-counterpoint for Sept 27, 2014. Or, if you’re in the car, simply scroll down for the recap (they may be verbose, but it’s better than clicking through a slideshow).

AJ: Kyle, why are there bye weeks in college football? I mean, I get why they’re there in the NFL—basically an opportunity to get arrested in the club and for the league to fuck with fantasy owners who deserve to be fucked with. But there’s no reason for this in college other than maybe to see what FCS campus gets the biggest spike in date rape and frat house electronics raids over the idle weekend.

I only ask this because bye weeks in college used to not exist and now that they do, it brings an even bigger air of “professionalism” (air quotes) and indentured servitude to the amateur gridiron ranks. If the NCAA said, “We schedule bye weeks around midterms because academics” I’d be good with that. Happy even. But the real reason is to stretch out the post-season and turn college football into a 20-week endeavor (i.e. almost two-thirds the academic year) for the almighty bottom line—of which the athletes themselves see not a penny (and that’s where the lap top thefts come in).

Since you’re pretty good about finding out the why of things the way I’m good at identifying the season of Magnum PI (and episodes) where he tries to track down the ghost of his allegedly deceased wife, let me know if you know.

Otherwise, I take it now that you’re off the schneid you’re not taking a bye this week.

Me, I’m still trying to feel this week out like a Junior High dance. There’s no match up that stands out as a stone cold lock; and it has to be watchable to be (not a word: betable). <-One of my cardinal rules—the other is to never trust a Yelp reviewer whose mouth is wide open on their profile photo.

For now, a couple quick comments:

• Why is Wyoming traipsing around the country in pursuit of getting bitch-slapped? Is it like an anything-is-better-than-staying-home-and-risk-getting-shot-in-the-face-by-Dick-Cheney thing? First Oregon and now Michigan State? It kind of reminds me of those Pat Hill-era Fresno State teams which burned through their Southwest miles to go get rolled up by the SEC and ACC and Big-10 before limping back to the parched Valley and dominating, um, Wyoming …and most of the rest of the Mountain West. To be fair, Wyoming does have a slightly guttier squad than they originally got credit for (think corn snow-fed defense) and should give Sparty fits for at least a quarter or two. If you can get a first-half prop bet for the Cowboys at +10 or above, that’s better odds than your drunk-as-fuck out-of-town guest trying to pull a credit card advance on the gaming floor.

• Missouri on the road at South Carolina getting only 6.5. The Gamecocks are hotter than a rescue pit mix locked in a ’93 Aerostar in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly since forgetting Manziel was in the NFL and dropping their opener against Texas A&M. The Cocks have won three straight and Missouri is reeling from what should’ve amounted to a midweek January stumble on the hardcourt to the Hoosiers at home last week. Can Mizzou regroup or will South Carolina’s Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds harass QB Maty Mauk who already has four ints to go with 14 teeders …and, you know what, this spread sucks. Fuck this game.

…I’m going to pause right there and say I was running some errands with a buddy during the lunch hour today (he’s planning a birthday party for a one-year-old which basically means crappy burgers, a weird sheet cake that is actually just flypaper with white frosting and a couple of fifths because apparently one is too young to remember seeing your folks and their friends black out) and we ended up at Costco. Still $1.50 for a polish and a soda.

The thing is, we were the only sub-octagenarains dining there. All these Burns-postured McMurphys who’d escaped from “Serene Gardens” next door were gumming on these intestines and entrails pressed into a tube while gangsta leaning off their Rascals made me wonder: Do the old folks know something I don’t? Like, If I have one meal left, it’s gotta be Costco (because it is glorious, especially when you remember to ask for the slaw) or does it just kill a lot of time to try to gum down a dog the size of your shriveled and veiny neck midday on a weekday when you’re at the station of life when time, quite literally, can’t go any slower—and yet, you don’t have much of it left.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is, I just have a lot more questions than answers this week.

Kyle? You there? You still reading?

Kyle: AJ, the middle school dance analogy couldn’t be more apt. I have an overwhelming urge to skip this week completely and tell all of our readers I was off doing some really cool stuff. In reality, I’ll probably be reading Madeleine L’Engle and trying to stay up for MadTV and hope my father (who, coincidentally, is visiting this weekend) doesn’t come out and turn it off when they swear for like the only time in the whole show.

MadTV featured the stylings of Michael McDonald (not this one, not that one, this one), a USC alum, and that’s my segue into talking about one of the only games that probably matter this weekend. With no ranked matchups, it’s going to be interesting to watch Oregon State-SC (-9) in the sense that it’ll be interesting to see your neighbor walk out the door with his 14-year-old dog tomorrow. Hey, still on the right side of the dirt, eh Fido?

The 2-1 Trojans are a technically, I suppose, still in the playoff race. Stanford exposed SC’s inability to get anything done in the red zone with a run game that’s hampered when it doesn’t have room to breath in a game the Trojans won 13-10. Boston College pantsed SC’s run defense in a 37-31 victory on Chestnut Hill. Both of these tell me the men of Troy aren’t yet sound in their line play. Mike Riley’s Beavers aren’t very good at running the ball on aggregate—they’re 91st in rushing in the nation—but in the first quarter, few offenses are as effective at running and passing the ball as 3-0 Oregon State, who put up more points early (10.5) than every other team in the Pac 12 North. If they can kick the Trojans’ line in the teeth early, I think OSU Quarterback Sean Mannion can play keep-up with a very potent SC passing attack.

Surveying the rest of the college football landscape leaves that bye week to be desired.

American Conference favorite Cincinnati visits Ohio State as a 15.5-point dog, and that’s halfway intriguing. Looking at the rest of this schedule is sort of like looking at the area surrounding Charleton Heston after that ship crashed in the first Planet of the Apes. Guess we’ll have to get walking.

AJ: Kyle, nice call on bringing the pops to town during the week of bettors doldrums. Now, instead of sitting indoors and inhaling the second-hand smoke of the sports book, the two of you can ramble around the Sierras inhaling the first-hand smoke of arsonists.

I think we agree this is a trap week as far as NCAA wagering goes. None of the spreads seem at all enticing and, as you pointed out, the dearth of compelling matchups (besides conference-centric spoiler games like Stanford at U-Dub) make this the week to take a BCS breather—and set the crosshairs on October baseball.

Namely Mr. Magin, the prospect of four very disparate and very under-(over?)achieving-for-different-reasons West Coast franchises making it to the playoffs.

It’s a Freaky Friday moment for baseball West of Lovelock. You’ve got the perennial lovable A’s who went out and made a splash at the trade deadline, only to wallow in the second half like so much locker room sludge through the AL West with dead arms and a listless clubhouse en route to a wildcard berth.

You have the predictably unpredictable Giants across the bridge who had a fiery start and a nine-game lead in May only to lose two-time world champion aces Matt Cain from the starting five (still unknown injury) and Tim Lincecum (still undiagnosed velocity problems) but somehow picked up where Oakland left off and went not with the big trades but with the white-flag youth movement: Hunter Strickland, Chris Hesten, Erik Cordier and even skipper’s son Brett Bochy have all contributed on the mound. Back-up backstop Andrew Susac has been clutch off the bench and in spelling Buster Posey and infielders Joe Panik and Matt Duffy have been key contributors plugging the middle whilst performing at the plate. The suddenly youth-infused G-men didn’t have enough in the tank to catch the boys in blue with the quarter-billion-dollar payroll and the world’s greatest stadium, but they do have a good chance of beating the Pirates in the wildcard sudden-death scenario and finding themselves the object of Joe Buck’s scorn again.

In Southern California, it’s a battle of swollen payrolls and depleting expectations. The Halos, who had all but given up on The Last Investment Albert Pujols till he decided to come out of the orange groves and hit a respectable .273 with 28 bombs and 104 RBIS (and he’s not done yet). Mike Trout is baseball’s lone superstar right now and the singing cowboy’s starting rotation featuring innings eaters Jared Weaver (18-8, 3.52 ERA), CJ Wilson (13-10, 4.61 ERA) and Matt Shoemaker (16/4, 3.04 ERA) suddenly looks like baseball’s best even without the services of Garrett Richards (13-4, 2.61 ERA). The hedge fund-backed Dodgers’ have the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw. The once-in-a-generation starter-next-door has mastery of three pitches usually thrown in a way three different pitchers might; fastball, 90-plus, a makes-you-swing-from-the-heels slider in the high-80s and an elevator curve in the mid-70s. It’s like facing vintage Barry Zito, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddox—in one at-bat. Kershaw recently notched his 20th win, has an ERA under 1.80 and tosses 100-pitch complete game shutouts like Drysdale the get away afternoon after a Saturday night bender. Kershaw alone almost makes one forget that any player who came up under Castro thinks hitting the cut-off man is a Fredo Corleone reference.

You got your Tigs Kyle, but the prospect of not only an all West Coast World series, but LCSs makes me giggle. I know Fox shares Erin Andrews’ resting bitchface scowl when it comes to the knowledge that KC, not NY will be in the playoffs and Mr. Jeter’s farewell bonanza is but a week away from coming to a cleaned-out-locker and teary press conference halt. All that historic footage from the pre-device ’90s shelved for roll out at Cooperstown in 2020. And what the fuck will Ken “He shoulda been-a dentist” Rosenthal talk about as Buck cuts Harold Reynolds off on the cutaways with no DJ?

With that, I’d like to be a sort of World Series wager Sommelier. First off, like a fine wine, many teams age into BETTER odds of winning Bud Selig’s final Commissioner’s Trophy as the season matures. But like your great aunt’s Bradford Exchange plate collection, not all teams go up in value. At the start of the season the last-place Red Sox were 12/1 (ditto Rays). The aforementioned Yankees, who are now 300/1 to take a Champagne bath, started out at 14/1. The Orioles who started the season at 35/1 are now 13/2—not bad for a runaway division champ. And your Motor City hardballers are a solid 6/1. For my money though, I’m liking either the A’s or the Giants at 12/1 to bring the hardware back to the Biggedy. After all, Giants fans, it is an even-numbered year.

Kyle, I know you’re headed out the door to see nature’s splendor with the man who pulled you out of oblivion and plopped you on this big blue-infused chunk of spinning granite, but I KNOW you’re laying down your World Series picks this week… so, (Pacino voice) what’dya got?!

Kyle: AJ, I’ve never been more happy to talk baseball during betting season, a sport I usually avoid at the book like the plague. It will also grease the wheels of conversation with the old man while we’re waiting for his knees to stabilize after I drag him up a few thousand feet above his normal playing altitude.

I, too, think the road to the World Series is definitely coming through California. Too many hardball-related planets are aligning with the Golden State. Dave Stewart is LaRussa’s new lapdog in Arizona. Scully is back again next year! I found out, just this week, that they still have an MLB team in San Diego.

As a Tigers fan, I hate to say it, but the Los Angeles Angels of Disneyland at 9/2 to win the series is the best bet at the book. Jeff Weaver is a horse, Matt Shoemaker has walked one guy for every 9 he’s struck out since the break and Wade Leblanc hasn’t given up a run in his last two starts headed into the postseason. Everybody has been getting on in front of Albert Pujols and he’s been driving all of them in—he’s got roughly an RBI per game over the last month, while Mike Trout continues to ape Barry Bonds with his slugging prowess. Gordon Beckham and Howie Kendrick have gotten on-base as often as anyone in the league over the last month. There’s just no way I see someone getting around this time save some massive power outage from Pujols and Trout.

In the NL—and I know this won’t be popular with much of our readership—I like the Dodgers. I don’t love them at 9/5, but in the “who’s going to win this thing” sense, I think we’re geared up for a freeway series. Which, wow, Randy Newman is going to RAKE royalties from FOX. It’ll make Erin’s Dancing with the Stars schedule manageable—I won’t have to put up with her whiny-ass Instagram posts from a private jet about #grinding from coast to coast.

We’ll get some hoity-toity reminders from the New Yorker about all the poor-ass people who got bulldozed out of Chavez Ravine 60-plus years ago to make way for one of the top-five stadiums in baseball. It’ll be gross and engrossing, all at once.

The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp, Justin Turner, Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke have been hitting the living shit out the ball over the last month—all four are in the top-15 of OPS over that stretch. Even with Puig’s second-half power outage, I don’t see how anyone else keeps up with the boys in blue. Selig passes out his last trophy south of the Grapevine.

AJ: Gotta agree it may be Los Doyers’ year and hey that Randy Newman song was supposed to be ironic; like how big a shithole-where-small-town-dreams-go-to-die-with-a-gooey-tarpit-center LA is. It makes me laugh every time the Dodgers notch a W and it bounces off the Hollywood sign and into the night. I love it! I love it! I love it!

Oh, yeah, the Huskies are better than David Shaw’s listless and unproven farm squad. Take the dawgs and the 6 points against the Cardinal (at home!) for a share of the Pac-12 North lead.

The PnP Recap:

Last week:
AJ: 3-3
Kyle: 1-2

Overall:
AJ: 8-12
Kyle: 1-7

This week:
AJ:

• Washington +6 vs. Stanford
• SF Giants (or Oakland A’s) at 12/1 to win the World Series

Kyle:
• Oregon State +12.5 @ USC
• LA Dodgers (9/5) or LA Angels (9/2) to win the World Series

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