May 17, 2008

Preakness Recap

I'm home, I'm exhausted, and I'm glad I didn't drink at all today. This sunburn is going to be a bitch tomorrow.

The author, J-Red, had a very good day. So good in fact he was able to bet $200 on the Preakness itself.

These were his bets:

$25 exacta Big Brown/Macho Again, Racecar Rhapsody, Kentucky Bear, Giant Moon and Gayego.

$25 win Kentucky Bear
$25 place Macho Again
$25 show Racecar Rhapsody

The result was Big Brown by a shit-ton, followed by Macho Again and Racecar Rhapsody. At $36 per $2 wagered for the exacta and $17.10 per $2 wagered on Macho Again to place, J-Red ended the day with a nice $650 cash in, or a profit of $450 on the race.

Sorry it isn't what I posted I'd bet, but I had done so well thanks to a couple earlier races that I had the funds to change up.

Brien and Russell are still solvent. Jeremy is still a wuss.

Myth: Pimlico Has Tight Turns

I've always been told, and had always read, that Pimlico has tighter turns than most major tracks, including Churchill Downs. Thanks to Google Earth, it's pretty easy to verify whether or not this is true.

The turns aren't significantly tighter. The above image looks like one oval, but actually it's Churchill Downs made semi-transparent and laid over the track at Pimlico. Why do you only see one oval? The tracks overlap nearly perfectly, with both images taken at 4.0km altitude and reorientied to be straight up and down.

As far as I'm concerned, this myth is put to bed. Even if the Pimlico turns are slightly tighter, it's barely noticeable from just a couple miles up. Considering the circumference of both tracks, there is no way a horse or jockey could perceive the difference. I suspect the myth comes from the fact that the track itself isn't as wide in the turns at Pimlico, probably because the surrounding streets are within feet of the track. Of course, if your horse is running on the far outside of the track, you're doing it wrong.

May 16, 2008

Eight Reasons Big Brown Won't Win


So you want to bet against prohibitive favorite Big Brown tomorrow in the Preakness Stakes? You'll have to convince yourself that he might not win, which is a challenge. Here are some things that might actually point to Big Brown not getting the 2839 length victory we've been told is inevitable.

1) Big Brown has never run on a muddy track - It rained all day today, and we got three-plus inches of rain earlier this week. Plus, there will be 11 races run before Big Brown gets into the gate. How will he like getting mud thrown in his face? His blood rating is good for mud (388), but mine was good for me to be short, and I'm 6-3.
2) Big Brown is prone to quarter cracks - Quarter cracks are vertical cracks in the hoof that cause the horse pain, can bleed, and can actually cause a horse to refuse to walk. Big Brown is prone to these. Because of this, he can't have nail-in horseshoes, but rather must have glue-on shoes. Muddy tracks have been known to literally suck glued on shoes right off a horse's foot. Not only would this slow him down quite a bit, but one leg would get different traction than the other three.

3) Big Brown has never started between horses in a full field - This is actually true. Big Brown has had four career starts. In three of them he has only had one neighbor, running from the rail (against 9 others) and from the outside (20th of 20 and 12th of 12). In the fourth he had the 4th position against only five other horses. In this race, he'll be in the 6th slot (but still betting #7 due to Behindthebar's departure), with five horses to his left and six horses to his right. Will this be to his liking? We have no way of knowing. He's a horse.

4) The dreaded bounce - The bounce is mythical among horseplayers. It is responsible for so many talking themselves out of just avoiding a race when one horse looks like a sure thing. The idea, which has some validity, is that a horse who has run some incredible races will have a "bounce" race, where he just doesn't have it. Unfortunately, it's also akin to deciding that the roulette wheel has to come up black this time because it's been red so many times....only the horse actually IS GOOD, where as red just occupies 18 of the 42 possible spaces. Trying to predict the bounce is nearly impossible, but it COULD happen. Of course, it could happen and he could still win in this field.

5) Big Brown is turning around fast - Well, yeah, of course he is. The Derby is always two weeks before the Preakness. Unfortunately, this year none of the other horses ran two weeks ago. Yeah, I know Gayego was in the Derby, but he definitely didn't RUN in the Derby. He was further from seeing Big Brown's finish than 25,000 fans in the stands. Many people are pointing to the 2000 Preakness, where Fusaichi Pegasus was viewed as unbeatable (he went off at 1-5). Well, he wasn't beaten by Red Bullet, who sat out the Derby. There are some clear differences. First, Jerry Bailey rode Red Bullet and he went off at 6-1. None of the horses tomorrow will go off at 6-1. There are some major similarities though, including that Kent Desormeaux rode Fusaichi and that the track was damp that day.

6) Karma hates Richard Dutrow - Trainer Richard Dutrow's list of violations is a mile long. He's been caught drugging horses. He was once charged with check fraud early in his career. He's not thought to be a good guy, and he's quite full of himself. Of course, karma would most like to crush his dreams in the Belmont, but then again it might not want to toss him an extra $1M to build up the drama. There's also a real possibility Big Brown could test positive for drugs, though testing wouldn't affect the betting outcome.

7) Everyone has gone crazy - This is actually one of the most intriguing angles to me. Based on early betting, Big Brown is 1-9 on the tote board. That means a $90 bet would earn you $10, plus your bet back. If my math is right, that means handicappers believe that Big Brown would win this race nine times in ten runnings against these eleven opponents. I mean, his resume is very impressive, but is it Citation/Secretariat impressive?

8) Barbaro - It's extremely unlikely, but Big Brown could pull up. He might not suffer a horrible injury like Eight Belles and Barbaro, but he might suffer SOME injury.

So there you have it. If you needed a reason to bet ABBB (Anyone But Big Brown), hopefully you found something on this list to convince you.

Colossal MASN Fuck-Up

From Ray Frager of the Baltimore Sun:

• MASN is calling it the "Battle of the Beltway." But you don't have to - you can just watch the unique presentation MASN is giving this weekend's Orioles- Washington Nationals series.

Combining the announcing teams for the two clubs it carries, MASN will serve up a three-man booth with alternating play-by-play men. Orioles analyst Jim Palmer and Nationals analyst Don Sutton - that's 592 major league victories between them - will comment during the whole game, while the Orioles' Gary Thorne works the first three innings and the last 2 1/2 and the Nats' Bob Carpenter calls the fourth through the top of the seventh.

Orioles sideline reporter Amber Theoharis will be joined by the Nationals' Debbi Taylor to report on their respective teams throughout the game. During the seventh-inning stretch, the two will engage in a mixed martial arts match just behind the mound. The loser has to wax the winner's car.

Yes, I made that up. I mean, you can only take unique so far.

blahbblahlahblah Catch Amber now, because she's too good for local

So many stupid things to comment on. First of all, when you have Gary Thorne, you don't humiliate Bob Carpenter by making him step in for the middle innings. By comparison, Carpenter will feel like a AAA radio guy. Amber Theoharris is one of the best female sideline reporters AND radio hosts in the entire industry. We're months if not weeks away from ESPN bringing her in, or at least Fox or CBS for NFL games. You're really going to throw Debbi Taylor in alongside her?

Second of all, MASN already has two channels. Just give your viewers a Nats broadcast and an O's broadcast. This method just pisses everyone off. Are you really trying to shave a couple bucks for the one series that guarantees you ratings on BOTH networks?

I know the MASN situation is unique, as Angelos owns the rights to both team's broadcasts through his fleecing of Major League Baseball, but can you imagine the YES Network mixing Yankees and Mets broadcasters? There'd be anarchy.

I know the Nats are a two-bit AAA operation, but do they really have to infect the Orioles too?


Happy Black-Eyed Susan Day to all.

Behindthebar won't make the Preakness start tomorrow evening. He's out with a bruised left foot, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Behindthebar was made the second favorite by Pimlico track handicapper Frank Carrulli at 8-1. Now Gayego occupies that spot. Of course, taking out the bettors likely second choice depresses the odds across the board, but for Gayego more than anyone as the new "anyone but Big Brown" choice. As one can read below, I'm about to perforate this ulcer now, as Gayego is the biggest wild card in the race.

An interesting betting race just got more interesting.
***IMPORTANT*** - All horses outside Behindthebar at post position 5 move in one spot, including Big Brown. THIS DOES NOT CHANGE THE BETTING NUMBER. Tracks have been taking bets on the Preakness since Thursday. Big Brown will still be wearing the orange 7 indicator on Saturday.

Payback's a Bitch

Picture courtesy of Nats320 - internal citations omitted

So the Nationals invaded Baltimore in anticipation of their weekend series at The Yard this weekend. Remember how the Orioles maintained their team store in Farragut Square for the first three years of the Nationals' existence? Remember how Peter Angelos was successful in blocking Washington viewers from actually being able to watch their hometown baseball team on television, thus limiting the exposure the Nationals received in the D.C. area until his MASN network could take over the monopoly?

Well yesterday, "The Rushmores" (the new collective name for The Racing Presidents) and Screech invaded The Inner Harbor in a P.R. move slightly along the lines of the United States dropping millions of leaflets over Baghdad about the evils of Saddam Hussein. The Rushmores handed out free Presidential bobbleheads to kids at the Harbor (free tip kids... Ebay those things if you haven't cracked the box yet... especially the Teddy Roosevelt bobblehead). They all posed for pictures. And they stood alongside Pratt Street and along the Inner Harbor carrying the following signs:

Teddy - "I'll race the Oriole bird and beat him" (reference to the shtick of Teddy Roosevelt always losing the President's Race by a mile)

George - "I cannot tell a lie, the Nats will win."

Then it gets nasty...

Abe - "Honestly, the Nats will sweep Baltimore, hun."

and finally Tom - "Old Bay Stinks!!"

There was some booing and heckling by Baltimoreans which I respect, but far less than I expected. But you know what? I think J-Red might even agree with me on this... what we saw yesterday is FANTASTIC for baseball in the Washington-Baltimore corridor. For the past three years, we've been hearing how this doesn't feel like a rivalry yet and that it will take some spark to make this into a true rivalry along the lines of Giants-A's, Dodgers-Angels (teams that are about the same proximity from each other as the Nats and O's). Well, yesterday the Nats fired the first shot across the bow. I've been shocked at how pleasantly I've been treated when I've gone to Camden Yards wearing my Nats stuff. I actually can't wait for the day when I catch hell for wearing Nats stuff at the Yard, and O's fans likewise are given lots of grief by Nats fans when they come down to South Capitol Street.

J-Red and I are trying to work out a bet for this series. Suggestions?

May 15, 2008

Orioles Magic 2008

Leave it to Kevin Millar to put together an update of the Orioles Magic song. The most interesting thing about this video from MASN is that Millar got Adam Jones, Dennis Sarfate, and George Sherrill to participate, all of whom are newcomers to the team.


And feel free to join the legions of O's fans who ask me on a daily basis for the Orioles Magic MP3. Contact me at [email protected].

Thanks to Mr. Irrelevant for bringing this (and many other things) to my attention.

2008 Preakness Picks

These are our 2008 picks.  Looking for 2010 picks?

This is the right place to get free Preakness Picks 2008.


Whether you're a professional horseplayer or a part-time handicapper, the Triple Crown races offer a unique opportunity to turn a quick buck courtesy of the Sport of Kings. We know that not everyone lives near a track or an OTB, but we've found that Doc's Sports offers excellent advice for sports handicappers. While they'll help you cash more bets for all sports, their Preakness page is probably the best on the internet. Check here for current odds, and here for their picks packages.

Now, in case your mommy never told you that it takes money to make money, we're offering our free betting guides here on the blog. We did give you the winning trifecta last year, and we did STRONGLY advise betting on Curlin to win. She probably also should have told you that you get what you pay for. On to the picks! Good luck to all the bettors.
Going into Saturday's Preakness, there is one decision that every bettor needs to make up front: what do you do about Big Brown? Just about everyone agrees that he's the class of the field, but that consensus has made him 1-2 in the opening line.
I refuse to bet any horse with odds that low. I'd rather stay away from the race than bet a horse that won't even double my money.
Many people will try to make the payout better by betting the exacta with Big Brown over the rest of the field. That's always a terrible idea, because if one of the second favorites comes in second, you probably won't make any money off the bet.
So what does that leave us? We can still bet place and show bets, and we can also bet long shots to win and hope for a miracle. I'm a big fan of win-place-show bets, mainly because they're for wimps. We'll probably end up betting some of those.
So let's start off by going through the field:

1 - Macho Again - Hasn't finished in the money in a graded stakes
2 - Tres Borrachos - Maiden breaking win is his only one. Looks like he could be out front early.
3 - Icabad Crane - This is a HUGE step up in competition, and I don't think he has what it takes.
4 - Yankee Bravo - Looks like a slow starter, good finisher. Call me crazy, but I'm a believer.
5 - Behindatthebar - Another finisher, I like him too. - SCRATCHED
6 - Racecar Rhapsody - Good speed figures, but he's not a winner.
7 - Big Brown - Awesome, undefeated, clearly the best. I think this is the year we finally see a Triple Crown winner.
8 - Kentucky Bear - Very inexperienced, only the maiden win.
9 - Stevil - Can't seem to get the win, but has some impressive runs.
10 - Riley Tucker - Probably the most graded stakes experience in the field. Seems to have a knack for making it into the money.
11 - Giant Moon - I'm willing to throw out the foggy Gotham debacle. His other experience looks pretty good.
12 - Gayego - I'm embarassed to say I liked him in the Derby
13 - Hey Byrn - Throw out the Florida Derby where he had a bumped start, and this looks like a horse that could make some noise in this field.
OK, so after passing through the field, I like Yankee Bravo, Behindatthebar, Riley Tucker, Giant Moon, and Hey Byrn. Uh oh. When you're not betting exotics, it's tough to make money when you like half the field (but you really expect the favorite to win).
Let's take a closer look at those 5. Giant Moon doesn't have a paying finish in a good race, so he's out. Hey Byrn has one awesome speed figure, but that looks like a fluke. Cross him out. Yankee Bravo hasn't cracked a 90 speed figure. That's bad news. Behindatthebar seems to be taking on increasingly good competition and posting increasingly impressive results. I like him. Riley Tucker seems to know how to get to the front and I think he's ready for a breakthrough.
Now we're down to two horses (and Big Brown). Let's take a look at the odds. Big Brown opened at 1-2, Behindatthebar at 10-1, and Riley Tucker at 30-1
Here are the bets:
$2 WPS on Behindatthebar ($6 total)
$2 WPS on Riley Tucker ($6 total)
$2 Trifecta Box on Big Brown, Behindatthebar, and Riley Tucker ($12 total)
With Behindatthebar out, I'm changing the Trifecta bet to this:
$2 Exacta Box on Riley Tucker, Yankee Bravo, Giant Moon, and Hey Byrn

Obviously the Preakness is a simple race to handicap, in that Big Brown will win if he doesn't stumble or hurt himself. That being said, it's going to be a very difficult race with which to make any money. In fact, handicappers will be easily teased into betting exactas. This is not a good approach though. An exacta with Big Brown on top will pay about as well as betting directly on the bottom horse to place. The downside is that you don't cash an exacta ticket if Big Brown falls apart, but you DO cash a place ticket. In fact, if Big Brown doesn't crack the top two due to divine or demonic intervention, a place ticket becomes more valuable.
[There is a major caveat though. See the comments for a discussion of how Big Brown could potentially foul up the place and show pools. If that's the case, you're going to have to go big ($5 to $10) on a couple exactas you like and hedge it with some $2 exactas that don't have Big Brown on top.]

For the same reason, trifectas are poor plays. With a horse as dominant as Big Brown, you really can't afford to play many combinations at only $1. A $1 trifecta featuring Big Brown on top is only going to pay slightly more than a $1 place-show exacta would, if such a thing existed.

The bottom line is that this race MUST be bet using place and show bets only. That means you have to accept that you won't get rich. If you want to toss some dollars away, box a trifecta that doesn't include Big Brown and hope he takes a nap on the backstretch. You can shoot for superfectas, but as I'll discuss below you'd be better off playing the Maryland Lotto's Pick 4 game. If you really feel you have to play exotics, you're not going to be able to bet $2. You're going to have to really handicap who you think will finish second and bet at least $5. The same goes for trifectas.

On to the horses:

Big Brown (7) will win. Pimlico favors early speed, and I expect Dutrow to send him out front and go for a wire-to-wire win. If any horses are foolish enough to chase him, they may fall back so far that Big Brown can cruise the last furlong. It's the best strategy for Dutrow and Desormeaux to conserve their horse and still not risk having Big Brown fail to fire down the stretch.

Someone has to finish second. These are the candidates I like:


Behindthebar (5) - The Beyers are consistent, and only one race is particularly worrisome. Here is the dilemma: it's also the horses only race on dirt. Distance isn't a concern. We're only left to hope that the bad race has more to do with a trainer switch than and dislike for the surface. I'm buoyed a little bit by a 1:00 5f breezer on dirt on May 11. Value is crimped a bit by third favorite status, but a real gambler might play some 7-5-X trifectas. --SCRATCHED

Racecar Rhapsody (6) - The horse has run good Beyers on dirt and synthetic, and a decent 1:01 5f breezer on May 10 is pleasant. Many will be concerned by back-to-back 4ths in graded stakes race. I am including him as a value pick among the potential place horses because he is a closer and I foresee the Big Brown pace situation predicted above. Might be a nice 10-1 or better place ticket if Frank Carucci's morning line odds hold up.

Riley Tucker (10) - One of the most experienced horses in the race, Riley Tucker has a nice mix of distances and surfaces, and has been consistent with six money showings in seven starts. He's getting Prado back, who has rode him to a win, place and show, but I'm very concerned by his habit of rating off the pace, especially under Prado. That could be a devastating mistake at the Preakness, especially coming off the 10th spot given Pimlico's tight turns.

Giant Moon (11) - I debated putting this horse in the next group down. The first four races were exciting, with four straight victories in the maiden effort and then three ungraded stakes races. Then there was the Gotham disaster, which featured nearly no visibility in the fog. I totally throw that out. He bounced back decently in the Wood Memorial-G1 but faded a bit and finished 4th. Now he gets Dominguez back, who has a lot of Pimlico experience. The wins were wire-to-wire, or close to it, which is a major concern, but the May 13 4f in 47 and 3 is good to see. spacer
Gayego (12) - Sigh. Pass me the Alka-Seltzer. Gayego is a handicapping nightmare. He ran some triple-digit Beyers leading up to the Derby, had never finished worse that second, took well to dirt, and was one of a few horses to retain the same jockey throughout. Then he totally spazzed in the Derby, barely getting out of the gate and basically just phoning in the entire race. Oh, and that was from the second to outside post in a noisy environment, the exact same situation we have here. Oh, and this is another horse that likes to rate just off the pace, which would be a disaster for any horse in this race, as discussed above. So why is my stomach gurgling? They're adding blinkers. Fuck you Paulo Lobo.


This is where it gets really difficult. Of the seven remaining horses, it's tough to really rule any of them out to show given the pace shape I expect for this race. Rather than call these the show horses, I'd rather consider them contenders to be on the board, possibly even second.

Macho Again (1) - So much to hate, including the fact that the horse has never gone over a mile, and one of those was a poor sixth in New Orleans. The good news is that the horse has shown closing ability. They've flown in the Fair Grounds (New Orleans) jockey, so that's a sign that Stewart Dallas isn't totally treating this as a vanity entry. Distance blood number is above average (339), but not inspiring. The workouts are painful too.

Tres Borrachos (2) - This horse caught my interest for the Derby. After switching from synthetic to dirt the horse's Beyers shot up from the 70's to the 90's. They tried to get him into the Derby, but fell short on stakes winnings. The distance isn't likely to be an issue, but I am concerned that many races show Tres Barrachos going from the front to the middle, and here the front might be something no one wants a piece of.

Icabad Crane (3) - Nothing to like here except a hot jockey and a good post position for Pimlico.

Yankee Bravo (4) - Not a total joke, but no Beyer over 90 and very little experience. Does show some closing ability, so consider if you are betting supers. Wins on turf and synthetic, a place in the Louisiana Derby-G2 and a 4th on synthetic in the Santa Anita-G1. Retaining Solis.

Kentucky Bear (8) - Only three races to look at, with a maiden win, a show (Bluegrass Stakes-G1) and a distant 7th (Fountain of Youth-G2). If you just love the number 8, or hate a lot of the other horses, I guess it's possible.

Stevil (9) - The only think I like is that the horse closes and carries Velazquez. That's enough for a show look in this race.

Hey Byrn (13) - Some allowance wins and the Grade 3 Holy Bull fill out a consistent resume here. He won at 1 3/16, posting only an 88 Beyer in a weak field (the odds on Hey Byrn were 1-1). There's one 14-length allowance win under Prado back in February that should tease some bets out.

So how will I bet it? I'm not going to put dollar amounts, because that will depend in part on how the first 11 races go, but my plays are:

Racecar Rhapsody - PS
Behindthebar - P

Giant Moon - P
Trifecta - Big Brown, Behindthebar, Giant Moon, My Three Other Place Horses + Tres Borrachos (elevated due to Behindthebar scratch)


Obviously, Big Brown is the favorite and clearly the best horse. However, it's tough to bet a horse at those odds, and there are only two other horses that have even a marginally legitimate shot to win.

#5 Behindatthebar - Winner of his last two, he closed from 15 lengths back in his last race, showing that the field and a 1:09 6f pace did not bother him. Big Brown will be out there on the lead, and this horse might have the patience and the closing speed to catch him. --SCRATCHED

#12 Gayego - I liked him in the Derby, and I still like his speed. By far the most capable horse after Big Brown, a good trip could yield dramatically different results.

If you have the money and you're willing to take the (large) risk, $1 Exactas with the 5,12 over the field would cost $24 and pay like gangbusters if Big Brown fails to win or place. Big Brown is the likely winner, but he will be overbet in a big way over such a weak field. Successful gambling is about finding the bets where the payoff exceeds the odds. If you don't want such a risky proposition, you're stuck with place and show bets.
Get the Preakness Past Performances here, courtesy of the Daily Racing Form.
If you'll be in the infield with Russell, Brien and me, you had better read this first.
A Tale of the Tape comparison of the Preakness and the Derby.
And in case you think we're total hacks, a look at last year's picks will show that we luck into it sometimes.
The Gowanus Rotisserie Baseball Gazette has an excellent Preakness preview of their own, as does SportsCracklePop.

May 14, 2008

Preakness Quiz

What better way to get into the Preakness spirit than with a Preakness Trivia Quiz?

May 13, 2008

Idol Recap 5/13

So the night of the "semifinals." Three left. I'm guessing just about everyone (myself included) predicted the results of tonight before the singers even set foot on stage. Syesha bowing out leaving the two Davids for the finals. I'm not so sure that anything that happened tonight will change that result although, if the results are as close as Seacrest tells us they are (and who really trusts Fox, forefathers of the "fair and balanced Fox News" to give us the truth), there could be a shocker tomorrow.

"Celebrity" spottings tonight - Justin Guarini and Lloyd from Entourage. Also, nice job by Ryan by picking on Syesha's dad forgetting that it was her father and (a) suggesting that he may be gay, and; (b) reminding him about the finals next week. You know Ryan's fucked up when Paula is shooting him reminders to jar him back into reality.

Best way for me to recap is to give an overall review of each performer:

David Archuleta:
And So It Goes is one of my all-time favorite Billy Joel songs and Billy Joel is one of my all-time favorite artists. I thought David hit this one out of the park. Unfortunately if David was in danger of having trouble getting votes, this performance was his first. David's take on Chris Brown in his second performance was about as believable as if I got up and started rapping Fitty Cent. Really it was just pitiful. And painful. The producers did him no favors with the final song, a drippingly sacharine number that I recognize from the late-night dedication shows on the soft rock radio stations. Look, it's no surprise by now that he's got a great voice. He's just not a terrific performer. By the way... this kid is going to be a lot of fun on the Idol tour. He's dumb as a fucking brick. Have you ever seen a performer have so much trouble understanding the concept of a vamp? The hardest working person in show business - Archuleta's tutor.

Syesha Mercado:
Unlike the judges, I thought Syesha shined on Fever tonight. However, that's because I too see her true talent as a Broadway/cabaret-type singer. She's got stage presence that makes up for sometimes lagging vocals. And by lagging, I mean she suffers from the fact that as a black woman, she just can't quite measure up to Alicia Keyes and Whitney and Mariah when she covers them. She still has a great voice. As for her final song, I'd never heard of it and am not quite sure why the producers picked it. All I remember is that Syesha's wardrobe looked like something out of Flashdance. Also, am I the only one noticing that Syesha is looking more and more like Vanessa Williams every night? Nice job Idol stylists.

David Cook:
Look, it's no secret that I have a total man crush on David Cook. I think he's an incredible performer, has an incredible voice, and he's the first Idol contestant ever (and by ever I mean in the two seasons I've followed the show) that I could see myself buying a CD from. I was not familiar with the Roberta Flack song that Simon had him take on, but judging by the reaction, I'm guessing it was on par with his Mariah remake of Always Be My Baby. The second song was totally rushed. As for his final song, even though I'm not such a huge fan of Don't Want to Miss a Thing, or as most people know it, "That Armageddon Song," I understand why the producers picked it and I thought David did a great job with it. That said, I really, really, really hope now that he doesn't win because I fear what Clive Davis will force him to do on a CD.

Continued Prediction:
The two David's in the finals.

May 12, 2008

Cheap Nationals Tickets!

The Partnership for Public Service is hosting an event during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on Saturday, May 24th. You don't have to be a federal employee to enjoy discounted tickets.

Go for the Ben's Chili Dogs and stay for the Eric Gagne blown save!

See the Partnership for Public Service website for details. Again, these are cheap Nationals tickets! Discounted Nats tix. Nationals tickets for sale. Cheep med$, be$t di$c0unt pharms rx!

From the Archives: Preakness Week Coverage

To kick off Preakness Week 2008, ECB brings you a look back at the spectacle that was our 2007 Preakness coverage:

Check back later in the week for a Preakness Trivia Quiz, our never-wrong Preakness picks, and other goodies.

May 11, 2008

More Smoke at USC as Mayo Implicated

It seems players are choosing USC for more than the exposure. A former friend of O.J. Mayo's, Louis Johnson, is alleging that Mayo accepted $30,000 in cash, as well as numerous gifts, from Bill Duffy Associates in exchange for a verbal agreement that BDA would represent Mayo during his pro career.

These allegations are similar to those that continue to dog Reggie Bush, whose parents were allegedly the beneficiaries of an interest-free loan while Bush played football at USC with the understanding that Bush would select New Era Sports and Entertainment (not the hat makers) as his representation.

The good news for USC, though, as far as NCAA sanctions are concerned, is that the university was not implicated in either set of allegations. If a coach or athletics department were complicit in such arrangements, even the death penalty would be on the table. That's especially true given the repeated nature of the conduct and the fact that it spans multiple sports. However, it is possible that the NCAA will eventually decide there is enough smoke to impose "lack of institutional control" sanctions on the university as a whole, or on specific programs.

These aren't the first allegations involving USC. In 2005, immediately before the legendary USC-Texas Vince Young Rose Bowl, star alumnus linebacker John Papadakis ('71) was caught influencing recruits at his Greek restaurant. As a former player, he is not allowed to contact recruits. If that name looks familiar it's because his son Petros Papadakis hosts Pros v. Joes on Spike.

Of course, in February 2007 Reggie Bush was again on the violation radar after USC recruit Joe McKnight made press conference comments indicating he was influenced to choose USC by Bush. Again, that would be a violation.

blahblahblah The type of "assisting the runner" the NCAA is known to overlook

In Matt Leinart's senior year the groupies got to be too much for Leinart's dad to handle, so he moved his son into a $3,866/mo downtown L.A. apartment. (Classes? We don't need no stinking classes!) That's fine, as Leinart is allowed to be the object of his father's bounty. What isn't fine is that Dwayne Jarrett lived with Leinart. Leinart paid $500/mo, Jarrett paid $650/mo, and Mr. Leinart paid the remaining $2700 or so. Reportedly Jarrett and Leinart shared the apartment equally, making Jarrett the improper cash beneficiary of Mr. Leinart's. No one is alleging that Mr. Leinart had any intention of breaking NCAA rules, but it is another incident that points to "lack of institutional control." To make matters worse, or at least further show Bob Leinart's naivete, Mr. Leinart has stated that Jarrett would have to repay over $10,000. Oh, excuse me Mr. Leinart, we didn't realize you had just made an interest free loan to Dwayne Jarrett. That's MUCH better.

And lastly, not all vioations are created equally. This one just goes to show what happens when the 10,000,000 candlepower NCAA searchlight is on your school. Last month, at the USC Spring Game, USC's compliance department noted that an outside stadium vendor was selling t-shirts declaring "Viva Sanchez!". This is, of course, a violation because it is using an NCAA athlete's name for profit. Anyone who went to a Division I college knows that these t-shirts are made by enterprising students all the time (Bruce "The Hurricane" Perry, Lamont for Heisman, etc. etc.).

(On the other hand, it is refreshing to read something about Sanchez that doesn't include him raping a chick or hurting himself.)

blahblablahblah Willisms gives the USC scandals some perspective
All told, the violations are piling up and the NCAA is likely going to have to take action just so they can be justified the next time they destroy a middling program like Iowa State or DePaul. The Reggie Bush issue is particularly hard to stomach, because the NCAA really doesn't want to strip USC's championship (yes, singular) or put pressure on the Downtown Athletic Club to rescind Reggie's Heisman. The course of conduct justification, on the other hand, is wonderfully convenient for the NCAA because they can punish USC for "lack of institutional control" as a whole and not focus on any one violation. I foresee this working out as a backdoor deal relatively soon.