Friday, December 28, 2012

Raptors' Plight Depresses Bargnani

Injured Toronto Raptors forward, Andrea Bargnani, has admitted that his side is currently one of the worst in the NBA, a sentiment that fans betting on NHL will no doubt agree with.
The 27-year-old Italian is sidelined with a torn ligament and also missed most of last season with a succession of injuries.

Bargnani, who has been with the Raptors since 2006, said: “I’m very upset that that the injury is something very bad again.

“It was a bad fall, but it could have been worse, I could have broken some of my bones, my wrist, so I got lucky in certain ways, but it’s really bad.”

Toronto have endured a terrible season so far, and when asked about the Raptors’ position, Bargnani replied: ''We’re pretty much the worst team in the NBA. Our record is extremely bad right now.”

After being selected first overall in the 2006 NBA Draft, Bargnani helped the Raptors reach the play-offs in his first two seasons in Toronto, including the Atlantic Division title in 2006-07.

However, the Raptors have not made the play-offs in any of the last four campaigns and already seem unlikely to do so again this season; ask anybody placing a bet on NHL.

After being a regular in his first five seasons, Bargnani was a peripheral figure last season when Torontos record was 23-43.

Meanwhile, coach, Dwane Casey, insists he is not about to quit despite his side’s problems. Casey is under contract until the end of the 2013-14 but president/general manager, Bryan Colangelo, recently called the Raptors’ current situation “embarrassing”.

But Casey said, when asked what the future held for him: “Believe me, as a coach you always feel under pressure. I’m going to give everything I have. That’s the only way I know how to do it and I’m going to continue to do it until they tell me I’m not here anymore.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Free Agent Value

The winter is a time that a lot of MLB teams look for value in the free agency market; they may have picked the wrong year for that though, as prices on both the free-agent market and the trade market are going through the roof and don’t look like they are going to slow down. 

There are numerous examples of teams looking desperate to find players in the MLB betting news and some are playing well over the odds for alleged star quality.

With the supply of top players running low and plenty of needs still out there to be filled, teams have to be wondering if there are any players available who are both good and cheap – the answer is yes and here are some suggestions that could provide great returns for a small outlay.

First up is Brett Myers. He was once a top prospect who has descended to the role of journeyman but we believe he still has a role to play, as either a starter (at the back of the rotation) or a reliever. 

Myers is no stranger to either starting work or bullpen work, and he has enjoyed the best of both worlds in the last two seasons. 

As a starter, Myers would fit well at the back end of pretty much any rotation in the majors, and his performances in 2010 and 2011 suggest pretty strongly that he could at least be counted on to cover plenty of innings, Myers has plenty of value in either role.

With Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Dempster, and others all taken, teams looking for dependable starting pitchers on the free-agent market are running out of options. 

Well, how about Shaun Marcum as an option in free agency? He is no star but he is dependable. Marcum's production over the last three seasons has been like clockwork. He posted a 3.64 ERA in 2010, a 3.54 ERA in 2011 and a 3.70 ERA this past season.

He has a concern over his health but health concerns have not stopped some other big pitching trades and Marcum comes with a level of acceptable risk.

Rounding off the suggestions is Scott Hairston who is a free agent who can play all three outfield positions, a talent that should appeal to any team looking for a versatile outfielder and he also has ability at the plate. 

Hairston is coming off a season in which he hit a career-high 20 home runs with a career-high .504 slugging percentage, and a career-high .803 OPS. He also achieved a new career high for games played with 134 and is one that we thoroughly recommend in the free agent market.

Just three ideas on some “lesser” options that can do a job from the free agent market – worth a thought if you’re fond of betting MLB World Series.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Newcastle v Man City Match Preview

Fresh off the back of six defeats in eight games, the last thing we need right now is a visit from the English champions. St James’s Park should be packed on a freezing early kick-off this Saturday as Manchester City come to town, desperate to get back to winning ways themselves.

This tie has all the makings of a classic, with Newcastle standing firm at home against the billionaires from Manchester (well, Abu Dhabi). Neither side is playing particularly well at the moment; for while we continue our slide down the division thanks to five league defeats in six, City lost in the league for the first time this season to rivals Manchester United in the last minute of the game.

Of course, Roberto Mancini’s side will start as slender favourites on Betfair, and they will be out to banish Sunday’s gut-wrenching defeat from their minds, but United’s goals exposed weaknesses in their defence that Pardew’s men can target on Saturday.

The first was typical United, a stinging counter attack well rounded off by Wayne Rooney. City’s defence was all at sea during the move, Vincent Kompany (who later went off injured) caught high up the pitch and unable to get back, leaving a gap perfect for Rooney to slot home. United’s second was as simple as the first, with no City player picking up the composed Rooney inside the 18 yard box.

If Newcastle are to beat City they must fight fire with fire and try and outscore the champions. Both Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse have the talent and brains to elude defenders and with the precision balls of Hatem Ben Arfa finding them should not be a problem. Top scorer Ba is unsurprisingly favourite on Betfair to score first, though a strike from Cisse would be welcome, given he has hit just one in eight games across all competitions.

Yet Pardew must get his men to resist going direct towards the front two and keep it on the floor. Too often on Monday night at Fulham balls were whipped into the box only for Fulham’s Brede Hangeland and Chris Baird to head clear. We were no threat against big defenders and Kompany will eat up aerial crosses all day.
If Newcastle are to win this game we need to be confident going forward and use City’s defensive misgivings to our advantage.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dynaste Shortens in RSA Market without Leaving his Stable

Sometimes, it is good to let others do the talking for you.  At Cheltenham on Saturday, Unioniste paid a big compliment to Dynaste, his conqueror of a month earlier, in running away with the seemingly ultra-competitive Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup Handicap Chase at the Prestbury Park track, writes Elliot Slater.

As Unioniste put his rivals to the sword in no uncertain fashion, punters were quick to recall that Dynaste had easily brushed Paul Nicholls’ charge aside when the pair met at the same track in November.

Dynaste came home an eight-and-a-half length third behind David Pipe’s rising star, the now injured Fingal Bay having separated the pair in finishing four lengths behind the exciting winner.

Without setting foot outside his box, Dynaste has now been trimmed to a general offer of 5/1 ante-post favourite for the Grade 1 RSA Chase back at Cheltenham’s Festival meeting in mid-March, although one or two firms still go 6/1 in a bid to balance their books. 

Pipe’s galloping grey, like so many before him, had found himself frustrated by the brilliant Big Buck’s in the three-mile hurdles division last season but has made a fine transition to the larger obstacles in beating last season’s top staying novice Fingal Bay in the Steel Plate & Sections Novices Chase.

He then justified odds-on with the minimum of fuss against the classy Court In Motion in the Grade 2 Fullers London Pride Novices Chase at Newbury on November 30.

Already seen in many quarters as the one they all have to beat in the RSA Chase – although the same was said of his stable companion, Grand Crus, last term before he let the side down in the big race – Dynaste may well take his chance at Kempton on Boxing Day in the Feltham Novices Chase, a contest seen as a key stepping stone to the top of the tree for budding three-mile chasing stars.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day One at Ally Pally

Five matches take place from the Alexandra Palace on Friday in the PDC World Darts

Championship. Reigning champion Adrian Lewis in action in the defence of the crown he won 12 months ago against Andy Hamilton in the final.
Andree Welge and Leung Chung Nam square up for battle of the oche in the opening match of the night in the preliminary round. The winner will earn the chance to meet the Artist Kevin Painter later
in the evening in the first round proper.
Then it is the chance for either Robert Thornton or Magnus Caris to try and become to the first man to reach the second round of the draw. The Scot has had the best season of his career so far by winning the UK Open earlier in the year in Bolton where he defeated Phil Taylor in the final. He has though, never been past the third round of the World Championship in two attempts. There is money to be made betting on darts if you back him to make it through for the first time.
Paul Nicholson takes on Dutchman Co Stompe in what looks to be one of the ties of the opening round. The Australian is the seeded player and reached the quarter-final in this competition in 2009. Last year he was eliminated by Kim Huybrechts in the third round. Stompe also knows all about reaching the last eight of this tournament. He did so in 2009 and 2010. However, his form has dipped in the last couple of years, in particular during this season where he has failed to make an impact in any of the premier events.
If Lewis, favourite in the Betfair Darts markets, can beat Vos and go on to win this tournament once again, he will be only the second player in the history of the competition to win three consecutive titles.

Lewis on a hat-trick

Adrian Lewis is bidding to become only the second player in the history of the PDC World Darts Championship to win three consecutive titles.
Jackpot has been successful in the final event of the season in the past two campaigns, beating Gary Anderson in the final in 2011 and then 12 months later overcoming the Hammer Andy Hamilton, meaning the Darts Odds are most definitely in his favour.
However, his form going into this year’s tournament hasn’t been the best. He has failed to win one of the major tournaments in 2012, with success only coming in the German Darts Masters and in the World Cup of Darts where he combined with Phil Taylor for England to defeat Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson of Australia in the final. Therefore there may be money to be made betting on darts  this year in games involving Lewis.
Lewis’ wife Sarah has also recently given birth to their first child which hasn’t helped his preparation towards him defending his crown in London.
His participation in the recent Players Champion Finals was in doubt with wife expected to give birth at any moment. However, he chose to play and was beaten in the second round by Taylor after beating Welshman Richie Burnett in his opening round fixture.
Jackpot’s best performance this season in a major came in the World Matchplay Championship where he went as far as the quarter-final before being beaten by the Bull Terry Jenkins 12-16.
He failed to reach the play-offs for the Premier League and was unable to qualify from the group stage of the Grand Slam of Darts in a relatively disappointing campaign.
The defending champion has been scheduled to take part on the opening night of this year’s world championship where he will face Gino Vos on Friday, December 14. He has been handed the number two seed in the draw and would only face Taylor if the two men from Stoke were to make the final on January 1.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More injury misery for unlucky Colon

Injury problems continue to dog Pittsburgh Steelers’ left guard Willie Colon who is expected to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Colon returned to action against the San Diego Chargers but was forced to leave the pitch in the second quarter after aggravating the problem with his left knee that had forced him to miss the previous two games.

Center Maurkice Pouncey moved to left guard when Colon left the game and Doug Legursky came in to play center.

Pouncey was clearly upset when talking about Colon’s injury woes, saying: "For him to be dealing with that for the last couple of years, and now we don't know how this thing is going to turn out ... I feel terrible for him."

In 2010, Colon did not play at all after sustaining an Achilles injury in the summer and last year he torn his triceps in the first game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens which sidelined him for
the rest of the campaign.

Colon has been with the Steelers since 2006, having played college football for Hofstra University, but has made only 51 appearances for the team.

The 29-year-old was part of the Pittsburgh side that won the Super Bowl in 2008 after which he was handed a one-year deal worth $2.2million before, in July 2011, penning a five-year deal worth $29million.

The Steelers had hoped that summer signing David DeCastro would be their first-choice left guard this season but he suffered a serious knee injury in Pittsburgh’s third pre-season game in August.

The 22-year-old was considered to be the top guard prospect available in this year’s draft but has not
played since picking up the injury against the Buffalo Bills which happened when team-mate Marcus Gilbert fell on his right leg.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mikael Finally Lands his First Chase Success

When the Willie Mullins-trained Mikael D’Haguenet first made the switch from hurdles to chasing, he was spoken of as a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, but things just did not go right for the unfortunate gelding until he finally became organized over the larger obstacles at Punchestown on Sunday at the eighth time of asking.

Winner of four Grade 1 hurdles including the Baring Bingham Novices Hurdle at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival, the eight-year-old was expected to carry all before him over fences. 

Until the very last fence on his chasing bow at Fairyhouse in the December 2010 renewal of the Grade 1 Bar One Racing Drinmore Novices Chase, it looked as though everything was going to plan.

Approaching the last fence of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, Mikael d’Haguenet was upsides Jessies Dream and seemingly going best when taking a crashing fall under Paul Townend. 

Soundly beaten in his two subsequent races when starting at odds-on (both in Grade 1 company), Mullins’ gelded son of Lavirco fell again when struggling in the latter stages of the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March 2011, prompting connections to switch him back to hurdles.

After rattling up a hattrick over timber last season, before having his limitations exposed by the likes of Big Buck’s and Quevega, Mullins decided to give chasing one more chance and the patient method appeared to have done the trick, as the smart performer approached the last at Punchestown in November with the race at his mercy.

The racing gods were once more against him though as Mikael d’Haguenet made a dreadful mistake from which he did well to stay on his feet but which handed the race to El Fontan. 

But back at the same track on Sunday, and with connections’ collective hearts in their mouths, he pinged the final fence and easily outpointed Lord Windermere to finally break his chasing duck.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Murray Must Pick up Aussie Open

With the dust now fully settled on a superb year for Andy Murray, the 25-year-old Scot will not have long before it all starts again and this time he needs to get off to a victorious start.

The opening slam of the 2013 season will be the Australian Open in Melbourne and having twice managed to get to the final it is imperative that Murray goes one better this time at the Rod Laver Arena.

Having finally broken his duck by winning the US Open in New York earlier this year, it is important – especially considering the talents of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and the returning Rafael Nadal – that Murray starts to win regularly.

There is no doubt that the Brit has what it takes to really dominate in the game. He is strong hard court player, and with two of the four slams on that surface, along with the home support on the grass of Wimbledon, he realistically can win three of the four slams regularly.

It is, however, hard to see his game ever being suited to the clay of Roland Garros, a point that has found some support on Betfair.

So, despite Djokovic hanging on to the number 1 ranking for the second successive year, Murray’s time is now. Winning in Australia will not be easy. But it is a real chance to show that he is not a ‘one hit wonder’.

Modern day tennis is about accumulating titles, as Federer and Nadal have shown, with Djokovic now getting in on the act.

Murray has already achieved what would be for some players an insurmountable amount in his career so far, but he truly does have the chance to be a great.

His strength and stamina is now of Djokovic-esque proportions and his technique is flawless.

With Ivan Lendl in his corner, the only part of the jigsaw that remains not completely connected is his mental toughness. Back-to-back slams straddling 2012 and 2013 will make it a fully connected picture.