DRAFTING FOR THE FUTURE

nfl drary 19

It’s time once again for the annual National Football League Draft of eligible players coming out of colleges and universities from across the United States and around the world.  This year the ceremony will take place in Nashville, Tennessee on April 25-27, where 111 pro football hopefuls, the largest number of applicants ever, have announced their intentions to throw their respective hats into the ring and see what the market will bear.

The majority of those applicants have been living in dormitories on meager allowances deemed appropriate by the Mark Emmert and the NCAA but which everyone else knows is not nearly enough to ever feel secure with.  Now they are facing the possibility of changing all that for themselves, and usually their families as well into what most people only entertain as fantasy, an NFL contract. Some will go home rich, others will be bitterly disappointed.

In order to be eligible for the NFL Draft, a player must be out of high school for at least three years.  The deadline for upperclassmen to declare for the draft expired on January 14, 2019.  So the stage is set.  Everyone knows who, when and where, but endless speculation abounds about who goes where and in what order.  It’s already been going on for months.  The Mock Draft. An incredible amount of time and energy seems to go into this glorified guesswork.  It surely takes up a lot of space in print, perhaps too much.

One thing fixed on the agenda is the draft order.  It might seem a great thing to have the number one draft pick.  But what that actually means is that your team was the absolute worst team in the entire NFL last year, hardly a worthy distinction. But that is how parody is built in professional sports and it works to keep the teams on a more or less even keel and avoid allowing the team with the most money to buy the best players.

Now the NFL Scouting Combines are over and done with and the seemingly endless discussion of who should go where become moot.  It‘s time for each team to get down to the nitty-gritty task of actually picking the best available young player for their particular team.  It’s no easy job and each team employs specialists for the duration of the process. Millions of dollars are spent.

The Arizona Cardinals have the dubious distinction of having the first pick in the draft for 2019 followed by the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Jets and Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.  Due to the complicated practice of inter-team trading of draft picks, some teams, like the New Orleans Saints, do not even have a pick in the first round this year because they traded it away last year.

All the speculation and guesswork go out the window on April 25 when Commissioner Roger Goodell steps up to the podium and announces that the 2019 NFL Draft is officially underway.

FIRE ON THE BAYOU

WW LSU BB

In the aftermath of the suspension of LSU head basketball coach Will Wade right before the SEC tournament, Joe Alleva, who served as athletic director for the Tigers for the past eleven years, will step down from the AD job at LSU to take up a position as ‘special assistant’ to LSU’s president F. King Alexander going forward.

Alleva has been under fire for quite some time in Baton Rouge over various issues including the firing, in mid season, of head LSU football coach Les Miles in 2016 which, at the time, was an unpopular move for many Tiger fans. Alleva was loudly booed at the first basketball game after Will Wades suspension.

Now the powers that be at LSU have decided to reinstate Will Wade as basketball coach and let Joe Alleva move on.  The decision to return Will Wade came two days after the long awaited meeting between Wade and LSU officials which was also attended by NCAA officials.  The successful second year basketball coach denied any wrong doing and apparently answered all questions satisfactorily.

The Tiger basketball team, which was eliminated in the third round of the NCAA finals this year by Michigan State, remains in a state of flux as most of the LSU players from last year have now announced themselves available for the upcoming NBA draft.  They have until the end of May to withdraw that availability and return to LSU for next season, which would make LSU fans very happy indeed.

It is speculated that the reason that so many of them declared for the NBA was because of the instability of the coaching situation at LSU.  With the return of Will Wade, hopes are high that most of last year’s young team will be back on the court for the 2019-2020 season.  Who knows how far the Tigers could have gone in ‘March Madness’ had Wade been allowed to be with them there at courtside.

It is still not clear weather Wade violated NCAA rules or not in the disclosed FBI wiretap. On the advice of his former lawyer, Wade refused to meet with LSU officials at time of the incident, which ultimately led to his suspension.

Will Wade along with Arizona coach Sean Miller have been subpoenaed to appear in federal court in late April to testify about other college basketball irregularities in New York, although neither has been formally charged with any wrong doing.

Somehow we have made the transition from shady basketball recruiting practices being a NCAA problem to now having become the basis for criminal violations involving the FBI.  It seems like those folks would have more important things to do.

TIGER ROARS

tiger

There were 25,000 fans crowded around the greens and most of them were there to try and catch a glimpse of just one particular golfer at the 2019 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, that would be four time Masters winner and overwhelming crowd favorite Tiger Woods.

Stepping onto the lush campus at Augusta National after not having won a PGA major in over 11 years, Tiger Woods was not the favorite. In fact he teed off at 14 to 1 but there were myriad other wagering opportunities including match-ups and live betting on each hole.  It was a great day for bettors!

2019 was the first of Tigers five Masters Tournament victories where he did not hold the lead at the end of 54 holes, after the third day of tournament play.  Then he bogeyed the 4th & 5th holes and deflated the hopes of his many fans. But they hung in there, and so did Tiger Woods.

The final day of play started with impending thunder storms predicted, but another kind of storm had arrived at Augusta National.  Even halfway through the final round most golf fans didn’t really think that Woods would win. Tiger’s doing great, he will place well, but he can’t win. Can he?

Tiger didn’t even take over the lead until the 16th hole.  That’s when the buzz started.  You could feel it even watching on TV.  A combination of tension, excitement and absolute wonder took over the Augusta National Golf Course after the 16th hole and it built until Tiger finally holed the winning putt on the 18th green a short time later and the buzz became a roar.

Never in most of our living memories has any one sports figure garnered such a following and delivered in such a huge fashion as Tiger Woods did at Augusta National this year.  Awesome and spectacular seem inadequate for the occasion; plum damned inspiring is what it was.  What a comeback!

Even the guys at William Hill U.S. SportsBook in Las Vegas stepped up to congratulate Tiger Woods on his impressive victory, although their smiles might have been a bit painful as they were handing over a check for $1,275,000 to a bettor who had put down $85,000 on Woods to win the Masters at 14-1.

It is almost too ironic that the man who placed that 85 grand on Tiger Woods claims that it was the first time he had ever wagered on sports in his life.

The sportsbook released a statement to the press, “It’s great to see Tiger back.  It’s a painful day for William Hill-our biggest loss ever-but a great day for golf”.

 

HARD AS A HOCKEY PUCK

STANLEY CUP 19The Stanly Cup Playoffs are once again underway. Our fastest, hardest hitting and most brutal popular team sport takes to the ice to determine which is the best team in the National Hockey League for 2019, and the competition is tight as always.  Of the 31 teams in the NHL, only the top 16 are still in competition for North America’s oldest professional sports trophy.

These guys don’t fool around.  They go at each other with big sticks in almost comically padded uniforms and sharpened skates on slick ice at high speed.  It’s not always pretty and the action is at times so quick that even the most dedicated fan can’t follow the little black dot out on the ice called the ‘puck’ which both teams chase back and forth and up and down until someone knocks the thing into a goal which is guarded by a guy in even still more padding known as a ‘goalie’.

The object of the game is to put the puck into the netting which is protected by that goalie.  The puck itself is only 3 inches across and only one inch high.  It is made of galvanized rubber and is very hard. Actually, the puck is made even harder before each match by being frozen to reduce bouncing on the ice.

To the players and those close to the sport, the puck is known as the ‘biscuit’ and their main goal is to put the ‘biscuit in the basket’ while trying to keep from being slammed into the side wall by what must look like a freight train coming at you on the ice.

Now the rules say that the players are supposed to use those big sticks only to bat the puck around the ice and into the net, however, more often than not, the sticks land on players from the other team.  For this Hockey has what is called a ‘penalty box’ to which a player who has gone too far and broken some rule, or another player.  The penalty is timed and then the offending player is allowed back out on the ice and into the heat of the action.

It takes a lot of good old fashioned strength and endurance to play professional ice hockey.  These playoffs are best of seven series and go on until the first part of June, that’s a long world series. But then, Hockey is a tough sport.

So we are off again on another quest for the Stanley Cup.  With so many games to be played with so many unpredictable outcomes, the situation is ripe for wagering on all levels.  Have at it!

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