Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nurse the Hate: Hate Baseball 2009

There is a wealth of opportunity out there my friends. A virtual road paved with gold... I have seen the future, and the Detroit Tigers are going to lose a lot of games. Yes, that Mad Max/Escape from New York barbaric landscape will play host to yet another baseball season falling way short of expectations. Fingers will be pointed. Fat guys with no jobs will pound Bud Lights and try to make sense of a World Gone Mad. But I get ahead of myself...

As savvy sports bettors should be well aware, win totals are posted prior to the season for each sport. I take these win totals VERY seriously, and pull out all my resources looking for an edge. This year I have once again drawn from my sabermetric pals at The Hardball Times, a group of super math nerds that have applied their skills to baseball analysis. The great thing about baseball is that it's a long long long season that provides plenty of measurable data that tends to play out close to expectation over the course of 162 games. Vegas betting lines tend to be created with a combination of reasonable expectation and public perception. That's the key. Public perception. As we have discussed many times in the past, the public is always wrong. (Things like Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, flipped up collars on polo shirts, Paris Hilton, Creed, and American Idol immediately come to mind.)

Here's a few opportunities to make some scratch that are probably much more reliable than any half assed stock pick a douche bag broker is going to float by you. Let's start with the best pick on the board, the Colorado Rockies. This is a team only one year removed from a World Series appearance that has to win over 76.5 games to give you a winner. These guys play in the NL West, which completely blows. Last year they started too slow, were out of it by May, and limped it in. The key for them is scoring runs, and the wienies at Hardball Times like their chances as long as Spilborghs and Ianetta can lay off pitches out of the strike zone. Based on the finish of last year, I think they can. Garrett Atkins is OK, Hawpe can hit, and there's "a bunch of guys" that should make it happen. The computer model (based on 100 simulations) likes them to win an average of 85 games. That's 8.5 above the line, and looks like a nice play.

Feeling ballsy? Take the Houston Astros to go over their win total of 72.5. Sure, they won something like 2 games in Spring Training. Yes, they just signed Pudge from the scrap heap to be their starting catcher. I know. Roy Oswalt looks like damaged goods. Yes, I do know that the players hate manager Cecil Cooper and pitcher Shawn Chacon punched him in the face last year. Admittedly, there are problems. However, let's focus on the positive shall we? So much attention has been paid to their Spring meltdown that The Public thinks this is going to be the expansion Mets. This is a legit (although average) MLB team. Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee are studs. Matsui is pretty good when he plays, and Miguel Tejada isn't in jail. The rotation is s-k-e-t-c-h-y with Oswalt, Mike Hampton, Wandy Rodriguez, and stiffs like Brian Moehler. But, they do get to play the Reds and Pirates, and the NL West plenty. Hardball sees this as a 80-82 team, or 7.5 games above the line.

Let's talk Tigers. I don't like the Tigers very much. You've got Gary Sheffield talking shit every 2 weeks or so. Magglio Ordonez's fucked up mullet is flapping in the breeze. Joel Zumaya is a big fucking Chico driving around in a monster truck. Jim Leland smokes 4 packs a day. All of this though pales in comparison to the starting rotation problem. Verlander is down in velocity. Robertson just got his arm sewn back on. Galarraga is a statistical abberation that will return to earth (hard). Hell, Zumaya is already on the DL. Vegas has these guys at 81.5 wins (or just under .500). The computer simulations put them at 74-88 and in last place in the AL Central. Bet the under.

Also for your consideration: Yankees over 94.5, Washington under 72.5, and Baltimore under 72.5. Want to bet the Playoffs? Take a flier on the Rockies at 8-1 to win the NL West. Hardball has them winning the division in 44% of the simulations. The Rangers at 10-1 in the AL West are worth a shot, as simulations have them winning at 17% clip.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nurse the Hate: Hate St. Patrick's Day

This year on St Patrick's Day, I covered all the bases on what makes the day so unique in a mere 58 minutes.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with St Patrick's Day. We've all had good times on St Patrick's Day, haven't we? Who amongst us hasn't woken up in a strange apartment covered in green glitter wearing nothing else but a plastic derby festooned with a Miller Lite shamrock blinky button? But then again, who amongst us hasn't also been threatened with violence for no particular reason by the weaving brute in the backwards Notre Dame baseball cap? There you are, minding your own business drinking a watered down green beer in festive plastic cup, when the shitfaced ex-high school QB decides he "doesn't like your attitude". That hassle (or one with slightly different details) is why I normally skip going to places named Sullivan's, Clancy's, or McGillicutty's on St Patrick's Day.

This year I received a call from The Wheelbarrow (aka Bob Lanphier) to meet him at The Garage Bar for a couple beers around 5pm. As the bar is well off the parade route, I felt like I would probably miss getting punched in the face by an overserved 21 year old named something like Derrick or Kevin, but still catch some of the overall vibe of the day.

I walked in wearing my work clothes, which on this day consisted of a shirt/tie combo, suit pants, and dress shoes. The bar was about halfway full with the typical thrift store/indie rock neighborhood types of Ohio City. I was a tad overdressed. I picked my spot to try and get a Guinness at the bar, when a shockingly intoxicated kid in a skully cap and stretched out green t shirt turned to me. "Heyyyyy....Unnnnnn......Ahhhhhhhhhh" He was incapable of speech, but (I believe) was trying to communicate a feeling of brotherhood between us as he raised his shot of Jager to me. I placed my Guinness order, and quickly realized I had $2.00 in cash on me. Oh fuck. I took out my credit card, and started the procedure to open a tab. I was blocked in at all sides by people struggling to get a drink. It was then I noticed that the kid that had done the shot had saliva pouring out of his mouth like he'd sprung a leak. Uh-oh...He had the spits, and that meant that the shot (and God knows what else) was coming back up. And soon. Slowly my beer poured while The Kid weaved in place and spit. I had to get out of there. This was going to be close.

It was then that The Kid had a moment of inspiration. He leaned across the bar, grabbed the tip bucket, and let loose with the contents of his stomach into the metal pail. You might not be surprised to learn that the bar staff was not excited about this development. I scribbled my name down on the tab as women to my immediate left screamed as if someone had gutted a pig and begun to eat the steaming entrails from the carcass. A heavily tattooed bartender emerged from behind the bar to deal with this ugly situation, and I took the opportunity to use him like a blocking back to vacate the general area.

I found Bob and an empty bar stool at the very end of the bar. To his right, a woman about my age was making out with a suburban looking guy in a green jacket. As I brought Bob up to date with "The Situation" that had just unfolded behind us, I thought I may have recognized the woman seated behind him. It was distracting... Who the hell was that? Do I know her? As I spoke to Bob, the woman was directly in my view over his shoulder, but with her head turned I couldn't see her features. As Bob was talking to me, I'm looking over his shoulder thinking "Who is that giving that man a scalp massage?". Then it was "Who is that woman stroking that man's thigh?". Then it was "Who is that woman making out with that guy like it's Prom Night?". Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was someone I sort of knew with a guy that sure as hell wasn't her husband.
The real problem happened when the couple got up, and I snuck a peek just to make sure it was who I thought it was. That's when she and I made brief eye contact... Yep. It was her.

The real question in my mind is what will happen the next time we see each other. I see it playing out one of two ways.

1) This never happened. She and I will exchange pleasantries and never mention it. "How about this weather? It sure seemed like rain, but then it cleared right up... Boy those tulips look great!"

2) The uncomfortable explanation. She will seek me out and say "Hey...um....Were you at The Garage Bar last week? Oh, I thought that might have been you. Yeah, it got pretty crazy that day. Ha ha... I was out with an old friend of mine, and I don't even remember what happened I was just so drunk. Yep. I sure was drunk. Don't remember a thing." Meanwhile, I will be stirring dirt around with my foot while looking around distractedly saying things like "Oh, you were? I don't think I remember seeing you there? Yeah,,,ahhh.... How bout that Tribe?"

After bringing Bob up to speed on what had just happened, it got real festive. Wandering punk rock bagpipers showed up and played a few songs. Quick question: Can you differentiate between any of the songs those guys play? To me it always sounds like the exact same song. I think everyone else has the same problem too, because the applause for the first bagpipe song is about five times as loud as the applause for the fourth bagpipe song. "Yeah! Bagpipes!" becomes "Are those guys done yet?" pretty quick.

Sensing the room had turned, Bob and I split for Great Lakes to have their seasonal stout. It was all business as we knocked it back, and went home. We had really done everything you need to do on St Patricks Day. To review: I saw a guy dressed in green throw up in a bar. Then I saw an alcohol fueled extra marital affair. The bagpipes wore out their welcome. We drank a few stouts. We left. Perfect. Start to finish in 58 minutes. See you next year.

Random Note: I will be giving my poorly informed Tourney selections once this thing settles down after the weekend. The key right now is to find value in the underdogs. Take the points when a really good mid major plays an iffy major conference team. I'll be back with some plays tomorrow after I break down the numbers.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nurse the Hate: AIG Bonus Money

If anyone wants to get up an angry mob to string up the AIG executives that are getting paid out from this $165 million bonus pool, count me in. Let me get this straight. The taxpayers (i.e. You and Me) own 80% of AIG. We had to bail out the company because they fucked up so bad. Now, after that complete collapse of the company, their management is being paid bonuses of up to $6.5 million per person. I don't know how your job works, but I don't get $6 million bucks for fucking up so bad that I almost destroy the world economy. Shit, I get reamed out for not turning in my TPS Report, and no one even reads that. If I destroyed the wealth of the United States of America, I wouldn't be walking around wondering "Where the fuck is my bonus? I kicked some ass this year!".

The basic argument from the AIG side is that they wrote those contracts a year ago, and if they don't pay up, they'll lose their employees. "We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury." Oh. OK. I mean, we sure wouldn't want to lose all those guys that were running the company when it went broke, and needed Billions of dollars just to not take the entire world economy with it. That's a real Dream Team we've assembled over there. Let's open up the old checkbook and make sure those guys are happy.

Fuck those guys. Don't pay them, and let them sue. These people should be apologizing endlessly about what they did. They ran AIG into the ground and left it with nothing. They lost their money. This is our money. That means we're the boss. I say we don't pay and get some new qualified people in there. God knows there's plenty of people in finance that are looking for work. Look, the real problem is that these scum bags have no shame and no fear. Bonus? What the fuck are you talking about? You drove the company out of business! Any reasonable Frankenstein style lynch mob knows how to handle this. I would say things like "There he is! Get him!" while holding a torch or pitchfork. Old school tar and feathers might make sense. Let's quit screwing around with these people. Legal action to try and get $6 million bucks from a bankrupt company isn't happening when you are busy running for the hills with poop in your pants.

Call me when that tar starts bubbling.

Quick Note: A guy like myself will seek entertainment anywhere he can find it trapped here in Cleveland in March. Hence, there I was sitting in the Quicken Loans Arena watching MAC Conference basketball, heavily leveraged on some mediocre team like Bowling Green or Ball State. In years past, I would have been crushed on overpriced 20 oz draft beers screaming obscenities at little kids participating in on court contests during timeouts, but this year I played it cool. However, the one thing that this relative clarity provided was an unclouded view of the various MAC school "dance teams".

My basic understanding of a Dance Team is this: Girls not able to participate as cheerleaders but still interested in being part of the pomp of intercollegiate men's basketball on court activity become members of the Dance Team. From what I witnessed, these are pasty white girls aged 19-22 attempting to dance like rap/R&B video extras to current dance music while dressed in tight fitting clothes in the school colors. I would assume that these are physically active young women in the prime of their lives dedicating multiple hours honing their moves. Quick question? Why are so many of them so fucking fat?

I'll tell you this...If I was a 21 year old girl in skin tight shiny pants and belly shirt, I wouldn't want to walk out in front of 8000 semi drunk men if I had a muffin top going. I would hit the treadmill, cut out the chicken wings, and get toned up. And before any of you pile on with "ohhhhh...C'mon on! They're just kids having fun!" crap, let's be realistic about this. It's not like they were pulled from their dorm rooms at gunpoint and forced into these outfits. They signed up for this. Bring on the tight bodies and cut down on the chips sister.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nurse the Hate: Commodore Perry

I don't have much time...Currently I am up to my eyeballs on Cleveland State +6.5 v Butler. Two years ago these guys were gutless turds. Now they play D out the ass, and stay within spreads. As I write this I am watching ESPN in a viking helmet crazed on a Commodore Perry bender. Cleveland St is tied with 7 minutes left. Gut check time... Hey, what's with everyone using the word "surreal" all the time now? For example, when that guy got plucked from the ocean last week, people from his old school called it "surreal". No, it was "unusual" or "surprising". If it had been surreal, there would have been paisely Giant Squid flying around the boat wreck while a face emerged out of the sun reading "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". Clocks would have melted, and Jesus would have floated by in a hot air balloon. That's "surreal" you uneducated fucking asshole. Not coming to grips with the fact that something unusual happened is not "surreal". Start looking for it. Every dumbass in the world gets on TV and uses this word incorrectly...This World Baseball Classic is pretty great. The games are all life or death. That bloated Dominican roster got sent home by The Dutch. The Dutch! Try wearing your gold chains home to people in their horrible little huts and explaining that Big Papi! The Miller Brothers are heavily invested in Korea at 15-1. If we win, we're donating the money to charity...or maybe buying a mink rocket car. We're not sure yet...If this economy doesn't improve I am going to stop my media/small time rock star career and become a paid assassin. I bet that pays pretty well. If you see me show up at your house with a rifle, do me a favor and don't run. It's probably my first job, and I would appreciate it if you go "full sheep"...The bassett hound is the world's finest dog...I once lied on a resume and said I caught "the world's largest fish". The amazing part is that the guy never even asked me about it...Muddy Waters gets the press, but if I could bring one Bluesman back to life for a show, I take Slim Harpo...Why are those coffee servers at Starbucks so fucking smug? It's like working at McDonald's with a lot more Natalie Cole on the in house sound system. I don't need the fucking attitude. Just give me my overpriced beverage please...Anyone who doesn't think The Sadies are one of the best bands on the planet doesn't know what the fuck they are talking about.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nurse the Hate: Five Things I Actually Like

Here's a few things I have really been enjoying the past couple weeks...

1) The chimp that ripped the woman's face off: Economy got you down? Lose your job? Winter blues? What could be better than a story about some crazy hillbilly woman with a mad ape that ripped her friend's face off? Can you even imagine being attacked by a 140 lb chimpanzee? Their move is to first blind you so you cannot see them to counter attack, hence the woman's eyes were eaten out of her skull. Then they rip your fingers off so you can't get a hold of them. Smart, huh? So here's the scene... The victim drives over to her wacky friend's house to visit. Sure, she's got this big chimpanzee roaming around shitting everywhere, but hopefully he's got his diaper on. (Sidebar: If chimps are so Goddamn smart, why can't they be toilet trained? I mean, a cat goes into a litter box. What's with the chimp? As I recall in Lancelot Link, they can drive cars and solve crimes.)

Next thing she knows that chimp is screaming at the top of his lungs eating her eyes out and ripping her fingers off. I can think of a few ways you could get your face removed. For me, first choice would be in an operating room under heavy anesthesia. Far far down the list would be "ripped off by a chimp". Lesson learned? Don't keep a 140 lb chimpanzee in the house. Check.

2) That crazy OctoMom: People just can't get enough of that kooky woman that keeps having kids like a junkyard dog has litters of mongrel pups. It's like a car wreck. It's hard to turn away. I also like how she is trying to look like Angelina Jolie, and got plastic surgery to enhance those lips. Where did she get the money to do that? How is she not locked up in a Mental Hospital rocking back and forth in her own feces? Who is the doctor that somehow still has his license after dropping 8 kids into her? These are all valid questions. The biggest one to me is "How fucked up are those kids going to be as 15 year olds"? I see bad tattoos, teen pregnancies, and lots of meth smoking on the horizon there. Added bonus for the OctoMom's mother: Going onto TV shows and arguing with her insane daughter for the delight of stay at home Moms and shut ins every afternoon.

3) Spring training: I am very excited about baseball's return. I just can't seem to string wins together betting on college hoops for the simple reason that there's too many teams to keep track of effectively. Let me break it down further. I don't know what the hell I am talking about. Will that stop me from betting wildly on the NCAA Tournament? Of course not. Does April baseball even matter? They say you can't win a pennant in April, but you can lose one. Regardless about how you feel about that argument, there is no better way to spend a weeknight than having action down on an otherwise meaningless Kansas City Royals vs Toronto Blue Jays game. (Especially if Gil Meche is pitching at home against a right handed starter other than Halladay...Man, I go the itch!)

Baseball is always somewhat predictable due to a lack of salary cap. Teams that will be good: Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Cubs, and Mets. Teams that will be bad: Royals, Pirates, Mariners, Orioles and Giants. Everybody else will be somewhere in between. Remember the really good teams win 60% of the time, and the really bad teams win 40% of the time. Let's bet some underdogs and win some $$$!

4) Winter CD and book purchases: When it's cold and shitty outside, I buy lots of CDs and read lots of books. Things I would recommend include Robyn Hitchcock "Goodbye Oslo", "The Best of the Chocolate Watchband", Dex Romweber Duo "Ruins of Berlin", Nick Cave "Dig Lazurus Dig!", Link Wray "Big City After Dark", Velvet Underground "Loaded", and The Gourds "Haymaker". Books? David Sedaris "Naked", Steve Martin "Born Standing Up" and Jay McInerny "The Good Life". I also am making another game attempt at Marcel Proust "In Remembrance of Days", but I am not optimistic.

5) Big Red Wines and Big Giant Ales: This is the best time of year for giant cabernets, syrahs, and zins. Since nobody has any money right now, we all look for value. Pick up either the Napa or Sonoma blend of Ravenswood Zin, any of the 38 different Rosenblum Zins, Castle Rock syrah, or Mr Riggs Shiraz. You can't get a big ball busting Napa Cab for less than $30. Don't even try. Spend the money in less popular varietals like Zin, Petite Sirah, or even a good Grenache, You'll be glad you did. Obviously, after the Winter Warmer, I'm down with the ales now too. Don't even get me started on this smoked German beer Texas Pete hipped me to last month. (Everybody just loves that Texas Pete!!!) Check out a bottle of Aecht Schlenkerla Maerzen. It's like drinking a glass of beer jerky while sitting inside a campfire. I know, it sounds really fucked up, but it's good. There's no way you'll drink two, but you'll enjoy one. Plus Texas Pete swears it's the way to go in adding it to beef stew, and that pesky little fella knows his beef stew.