TIGER’S ON THE PROWL AGAIN IN NEW JERSEY

fedex tiger  TIGER’S ON THE PROWL AGAIN IN NEW JERSEY

Contrary to earlier reports that had Tiger Woods down for the count after a disappointing showing in the British Open at Royal Portrush, the Big Cat is coming back strong with a double commitment to play both the Northern Trust this week at the Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, New Jersey and also to participate in the BMW Championship in Medinah, Illinois the following week.

It doesn’t sound like Mr. Woods is ready to throw in the towel for this season quite yet. After missing the cut at The Open in Northern Ireland, Tiger Woods looked tired and a bit confused.  Speculation had him down and out.  But how many times has Tiger been counted out of any competition only to show up on that final Sunday and blow the field away?

Woods chose not to participate in either the St. Jude Invitational or the Wyndham Championship in order to ‘go home for awhile’ and rest up for the upcoming PGA FedEx Cup competitions. He recently sent out on Twitter, ‘@TigerWoods Ready to begin the FedExCup playoffs starting @TheNTGolf and then @BMW Champs. Hope to see you there.’

Actually Tiger has had a pretty good 2019 season.  He has only participated in 10 events overall including four majors.  Oh yeah, and he won the Masters at Augusta back in April to clinch his 15th career PGA Major Championship.

Obviously what Woods is aiming at is to gather enough FedExCup points over the next two tournaments to win a place at the ‘The Tour Championship’ to be played this year at the East Lake Golf Club outside of Atlanta, Georgia beginning on August 22. Top prize at the FedExCup this year will be a cool 15 million bucks!

The Northern Trust will start off with a 125 player field with the top 70 finishers qualifying for the BMW Championship then narrowing down to the top 30 golfers left in competition for the Tour Championship and the FedExCup.

To qualify for that big event, Tiger must be in the top 30 in the FedExCup standings, going into The Northern Trust Woods is 27th, and so, it could go either way.  One thing is certain, there will be a lot of golf fans pulling for Tiger Woods for the remainder of the 2019 season, no matter what happens.

There will also be a considerable amount of money wagered on Woods for the upcoming events as well as some hefty FedExCup futures wagers. Currently Brooks Koepka, fresh off of victories at the PGA Championship in May and the St. Jude’s Invitational in July, is a 6 to 1 favorite to take the Northern Trust with Rory McIlroy at 8 to 1, tagging close behind, as usual.

Tiger Woods is listed at 17 to 1 along with Webb Simpson and Tommy Fleetwood.  Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are listed at 11 to 1 with only Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantly and Rickie Fowler have lower odds than Tiger to win at the Liberty National Golf Club this year.

However the FedEx Cup and the PGA’s month of August work out, having Tiger Woods back in serious competition is great for the game of golf and its many fans.  There is simply an energy and excitement in the gallery when Tiger is at the tee or about to putt that we do not feel from any other golfer currently on the PGA tour.

THE INFIELD FLY RULE

MLB LOGO   THE INFIELD FLY RULE

The sport of Baseball is a sport like no others.  For starters, it’s been around longer than most other sports and has had time to develop some pretty outrageous traditions and convoluted rules. Take the infield fly rule for instance.

As it turns out, the infield fly rule is solely called at the discretion of one of the umpires.  It does not happen every time an infield fly is hit, only when a call is made and the infield fly rule is evoked, at which point the batter is out.

Back in the old days it seems like some canny infielders would casually drop an infield fly ball on purpose so as to trick the base runners into making a dash to the next base and pulling off a sneaky double or even triple play off a little blooper fly ball.  They must have done this quite a lot because such shenanigans prompted the birth of the infield fly rule.

When an umpire declares the infield fly rule in effect, no matter whether the ball is caught or dropped, the batter is out and all force plays are taken off the board.  The rule can only be applied when there are fewer than two outs and there exists a force play at third base. That happens only when a team has runners at first and second base or when the bases are loaded.

The pop up has to be a fair ball, inside the baselines, and must be deemed as catchable using ‘ordinary effort’ by the umpire making the call.  Infield fly balls are always a dilemma for base runners as they all have to wait to see if the fielder will actually catch the ball.  Taking a big lead could result in the runner being caught off base and being thrown out should the fielder fake a catch, drop the baseball and then throw quickly over to second or third for the out.

There’s more. When the infield fly rule is announced it is just like a regular fly ball when caught.  The batter is out and the runners must tag up before making any advancement.  However, if the pop up is not caught and lands in fair territory when the rule is called, the batter is still out but there is no force possible and the runners may continue to advance without first tagging up.

The umpire making the call will usually sound off ‘infield fly’ or perhaps ‘infield fly, batter is out’.  Even if the ball is caught, the batter is out. The hand signal of right arm in the air and index finger pointing straight up is typically used to signal an infield fly rule call.

Remember, as complicated as it is for the infielders and base runners to keep up with, this is strictly a judgment call on the part of the umpire. It will be interesting to see, in these days of robot-laser strike zones and 7 minute reviews, if one day even the infield fly rule will be subject to booth review from New York as well.

WHO WON THE MLB TRADE WARS?

take me out to the ball gameWHO WON THE MLB TRADE WARS?

At first glance, it looks like the Houston Astros pulled off the biggest blockbuster trade this year by grabbing Zack Grinke from the Diamondbacks. That gives them about the most awesome starting rotation in all of baseball with Justin Verlander, Garrit Cole and now Grinke.

Additionally Houston made a deal with Toronto and acquired right hand pitchers Joe Biagini and Aaron Sanchez to round out the bullpen. So the Astros appear to be going into the latter half of the MLB season with a stacked deck, however, history tells us that this is not always a guarantee of post season success.

Both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox were expected to make some major moves before the trade deadline occurred on July 31st, however, neither team was able to pull of any major acquisitions to their rosters.  Boston did acquire starting pitcher Andrew Cashner on an earlier trade.

One obvious winner was Zack Grinke.  Grinke was stuck on a going nowhere team out in Arizona with no hope of participation in this years’ postseason play.  Now he is part of a potentially historical pitching staff with the Astros and finds himself and the Houston Astros among the top favorites to go to the World Series, something that has so far eluded Zack.

If judged solely by the pound, the Cleveland Indians walked off with the top prize of the season.  By acquiring both Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes to round out their outfield roster, the Indians are assured of having the most meat on the field, no matter who they face. Besides, those two big guys are both excellent ball players and Puig still retains one of the most powerful throwing arms in the majors.

Perhaps the biggest winners of the years’ trading session were the teams that went under the radar and made relatively few changes to their roster.

Dave Roberts and Andrew Friedman of the Dodgers played their cards close to the vest throughout the trade negotiations. There was much speculation about the Dodgers need to bolster their bullpen roster; and the names Felipe Vasquez and Edwin Diaz were floating around.  However, in the end, the Dodgers stood pretty much pat.

At about that same time, the Dodgers showed why they stood pat by calling up from the minors as talented a group of young players as the game has seen in quite awhile.  Left-handed, red haired pitcher Dustin May was joined by young catcher Will Smith, who only hit 3 for 3 against the Washington Nationals with a solo homerun and two doubles, racking up 6 RBI’s in one game.  Then he did it again with at 449 foot home run in the bottom of the ninth for a walk off victory over the Colorado Rockies. Then, he did it again against the Padres! Welcome to Los Angeles Will Smith!

Dustin May and Will Smith were also joined by young Matt Beaty, who claims that his favorite position on the baseball diamond is in the ‘left hand batter’s box’.  Beaty has already been donned with the nickname ‘hitman’ after only a short time with the team.  Dave Roberts, in his wisdom, also went out and hired veteran infielder Jedd Gyorko to balance out, and help along, his recent young call-ups.

So now the Astros are on top of the picks to win the American League Pennant and the Dodgers remain the odds on favorites to win both the National League Pennant and the World Series this year.

WAGERING ON PRESEASON FOOTBALL

downloadWAGERING ON PRESEASON FOOTBALL

Finally, after a long cold summer, Thursday Night Football once again appeared on our screens when the National Football League Hall of Fame game was played at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio as part of the annual NFL HOF induction ceremony.

As the game fell on a Thursday night, we got the real Chris Collingsworth and the real Al Michaels to call the game which somehow added a degree of authenticity to the event.

The 100th NFL Season opening contest between the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons saw ticket prices starting at around $100 each. The price of football is going up this year!

Unlike preseason games in the past, this one drew some pretty heavy wagers, mostly placed by professional bettors and ‘wiseguys’. The regular bettors don’t usually wade into preseason NFL games, but, if the guys who pay close attention see an out of whack line up, you can bet that they will jump on it.

As a matter of fact, at the big sports books in Las Vegas, more money was wagered on the opening preseason NFL game this year than went down on some pretty heavy baseball games going on at the same time. Bookies and bettors alike were surely glad to see good ole American style Football back on the field once again. Even the Astros at Cleveland didn’t draw as much action.

Director of trading at the Mirage in Las Vegas stated that for the first time he was receiving requests for six figures wagering limits from some VIP casino guests on NFL preseason games ranging up to $20,000 & $30,000.

But William Hill’s Nick Bogdanovich still does not think too much of preseason football. “The masses don’t normally get fully involved with the exhibition games. The average Jose doesn’t even know who is playing. It’s glorified tryouts’. 

What we are seeing already is not so much that the general public is wagering on preseason NFL games, but the smart money often is.  By smart money we mean the pros who make a living studying and wagering on sporting events and have every reason to think that they will come out winners on these rather obvious early contests. Professional bettors probably account for between 50-70% of the wagers placed on preseason sports.

John Murray of the Westgate SuperBook stated, “The handle is pretty sharp-concentrated on straight bets on the NFL preseason”.  So much was wagered on the NFL Hall of Fame game that the Broncos went from an opening line as one point underdogs to being a 2.5 favorite before kickoff time.

As it turned out, it was not until a tipped pass resulting in a Denver touchdown with 1:26 to play in the game that the Broncos finally covered that spread and won the game 14-10. So the first contest was an interesting cliff hanger right up until the end.  Not a bad way to start NFL season number 100!

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