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I write this article knowing there is nothing joyful about benefiting from tragedy, albeit in this case indirectly. But every now and then off field tragedy causes an emotional response from players that cannot be manufactured or duplicated, nor should be ignored by gamblers, as impure as it seems.
I keep hearing after-the-fact experts telling us that no team was going to beat the New Orleans Saints in their Monday night game against the Atlanta Falcons, the first game in New Orleans in the post-Katrina era.
We told you all that before the game as New Orleans was our Monday Night Game of the Year. In short, New Orleans was playing in no uncertain terms, the biggest game in franchise history, while Atlanta was simply in the way.
While I do not mind bragging, I have to admit, I am an after-the-fact Bill Buckner and Jacky Smith all wrapped into one in missing the Rice intangible. Before I go in any further, I will again acknowledge, there is a certain level of unease in exploiting tragedy in sports handicapping but ignoring such angle benefits only the bookmakers.
Rice, a double-digit dog, crushed Army 48-14. They were riding the emotion of freshman defensive back Dale Lloyd collapsing earlier in the week at practice and passing away.
In 2001, our MLB Game of the Year was when the NY Mets played their first home game since 911, and were a home dog to Atlanta. True, the Mets had to get a dramatic walk off home run from Mike Piazza to win, but the seemingly scripted ending was reflective of how the Mets were simply not going to be denied victory that night.
One of my first NHL regular season selections was November 15, 1985. I bet on the Philadelphia Flyers in their first game back after star goaltender Pelle Lindbergh was killed in a car accident. The Flyers, as a big underdog, dominated the then seemingly invincible Edmonton Oilers.
I even decided to retroactively test this theory. Is there a more poignant sports speech in history than Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest man in the world” speech. Honestly, I didn’t know the game score was that day, but I researched it convinced there was no way the Yankees lost. I was right; they crushed the Washington Senators 11-1 following that historic speech on Independence Day 1939.
Emotion should never be underestimated and simply cannot be contrived. Regrettably opportunity knocks when real-life circumstances transcend sports. But it is opportunity nonetheless.
Joe Duffy is founder of OffshoreInsiders.com which features the world’s best handicappers.
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I share oodles of information and debate philosophies with many sharp players on a continuous basis. Such locking of horns is imperative to knowledge progression. Said argumentations are to handicapping advisers what scholarly journals are to academia.
One of the most heated deliberations among the sharpest of the sharks is how to weigh a pitcher’s ERA relative to his WHIP.
I realize most baseball fans know what an ERA is, but many are not as versed on WHIP. The formula is walks+hits/innings pitched. As much as I savor involving myself in debate with other masters of the trade, inevitably I am the one screaming the remedy is both.
I tell them it’s the equivalent of asking a doctor whether one should diet or exercise. Sure, conquering one or the other is better than neither, but any reputable physician advises they are not mutually exclusive.
A true handicapping scientist knows that careful interpretation of both ERA and WHIP neutralizes the inherent flaws of both while reinforcing the stronghold of each numerator.
Here is a pro-WHIP argument I often hear and articulated on rec.gambling.sports newsgroup by one of the participants:
The ERA can be affected by good fortunate (luck) far more than WHIP.
The walks and hits that a pitcher gives up show his skills facing a batter and will rise as he continues to allow hits and walks as it should.
But the same poor pitching, which allowed the walks and hits onboard, isn’t necessarily reflected in his ERA stat. He may escape lucky. His ERA can be affected either direction by the help he gets from his mates and/or the wind and/or the size of the ballpark.
This is particularly important in the first handful of starts of the early season, where averages can be easily skewed by a few innings.
A pitcher allowing a 400’ shot to center for example when a breeze is blowing in or the fielder makes a circus catch over the wall” escapes with no runs scored, saving his ERA.
But in a different park the same 400’ shot to center is a homerun, or the wind blows it in the gap for a double to score a couple of runs and his ERA goes up!
So, one fortunate guy gets a low ERA and the less fortunate guy, who allowed the SAME number of hits and walks, maybe even LESS, his ERA goes UP!
Meanwhile, the WHIP stat is not affected unfairly in that way, and as such I feel it more indicative of the pitcher’s skill.
I agree with many of the points raised but the dissertation was a bit one-sided review of the pros and cons.
WHIP can be very imperfect as well. It does not measure a pitcher’s ability to pitch out of tough situations or whether he gives up a disproportionate number of singles and walks relative to the pitcher who has a propensity to give up the long ball.
Pitchers who can get the ground ball double play when they need it or can bear down with runners in scoring position will generally do better in the ERA category than WHIP.
Plus, in a discussion with some of the top baseball predictors on the planet, one of the elites of the elite reminded us that the team that scores more runs wins 100 percent of the time. The team that gets the most walks plus hits often loses. As devil’s advocate, I added the team that gets the most runs is not always the team that allowed the fewer earned runs.
Hence, I must be adamant as an inescapable stipulation that because baseball’s definition of earned runs is not without glitch, especially from a handicapping standpoint, an old hand also must pay heed to unearned runs. After all, there are no such things as an unearned hit or walk in the WHIP stat.
However, seeing some of the top handicapping geniuses get in heated dispute of the pros and cons of each statistic only reinforced what I believed all along: the few wizards out there never, ever ignore one math unit at the expense of the other.
As the sports doctor the only baseball picks that I give my patients will be from knowledge that a steady diet of winners involves exercising both ERA and WHIP.
Duffy’s picks anchor OffshoreInsiders.com. He is perhaps the most published and respected author on sports gambling theory and has been featured as a regular guest as the handicapping expert on the Rick Ballou Show on Sporting News Radio, Gamblers Zoo national radio show, the Meat and Potatoes gambling show, Pro Fantasy Sports Internet radio and Grogan’s Fantasy Football show.
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