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Friday Four-Pack 10.27.23
An NHL gambling suspension. Breslow! A Boston radio breakup? NFL picks!
Sports fans are wild.
If you missed it this week, the NHL issued its first sports-betting-related suspension.
NEW YORK – The National Hockey League announced today that it has suspended NHL Player Shane Pinto for 41 games for activities relating to sports wagering.
The League's investigation found no evidence that Pinto made any wagers on NHL games.
The NHL considers this matter closed, absent the emergence of new information, and will have no further comment.
NHL players are allowed to bet on other sports - just don’t bet on the NHL. Pretty simple. So why did Pinto get suspended? What did he actually do? Great question.
So far, there are no real answers. There’s unconfirmed Internet buzz that he had friends or family bet on NHL games for him.
To his credit, he's not blaming anyone else.
Statement from Shane Pinto
“I want to apologize to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family. I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”
Pinto broke the rules and is being punished. The fault is completely with the player. End of story.
Unless you’re a fan and need to find someone else to blame.
This is merely two of HUNDREDS of tweets and comments somehow trying to blame the NHL and their betting sponsors for Pinto’s betting. Like, somehow because the NHL has LEGAL betting partners, it’s their fault a player bet on games.
It happened when Calvin Ridley got suspended for firing off NFL parlays. And it will happen when the next player gets popped for betting. People want to find someone else to blame.
It happens in the Mutnansky house. The blame part - not the illegal sports betting.
There have been some knock-down-drag-out battles recently over arriving late for the boys’ soccer/baseball practice (two sons, ages 7 and 10. Both going on 17).
On the frantic ride to the soon-to-begin practice, inevitably, there is the piercing sound of high-pitched anger coming from one of the two. And that anger gets directed at the driver of the car for “being late.”
It’s about this time when a senior member of the family reminds the junior member(s) that among other things…he was not ready to leave at the directed time…. was given roughly 57 reminders about that scheduled departure time….he left his shinguards in his mother’s car….he had to go back in the house because he forgot his water bottle…we had go back to the garage for his batting gloves….etc etc etc.
In this case, to his credit, Pinto is taking the blame. But the fans and even the media want to blame everyone else.
Pierre LeBrun is concerned about the culture. A few of the highlights.
In a world now increasingly open to legalized online sports betting, did we set up a young man like Pinto to fail?
But I think this Pinto suspension serves as an opportunity to ask more important questions. Because I truly believe that people, especially in his age group, are vulnerable to the allure of online sports gambling. I’ve seen it with my own eyes with people in their 20s.
But I ask the question again, have we created a world now, with legalized online sports gambling and athletes in their 20s, where we are just waiting for the next gambling suspension?
LeBrun does not completely absolve Pinto. But he does try and blame the big, bad sports betting industry.
Which sort of misses the point - Pinto or someone close to him might have bet on NHL games. Or passed on information about betting on NHL games. It’s the one thing that will get you suspended. That’s the story. Pinto is to blame.
I get the backlash against the overload of sports betting ads. And you’re allowed to be annoyed by it. But it doesn’t mean the NHL or their sponsors or the sports betting industry are to blame for a 22-year-old breaking the rules. Clear-cut rules.
Am I wrong here? Let me know in the comments.
Meanwhile, we have NFL Picks you can legally bet on (or fade) as part of today’s Four-Pack. But we’ll start with more Boston sports radio drama.
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On more drama for Toucher and Rich …
They never actually talk about it on air, but there continues to be the buzz of drama with Boston’s morning-drive ratings monster, Toucher and Rich.
The latest comes from the news announced by Beasley Media on Wednesday night that co-host Fred Toucher has signed a new deal to stay on the highly-rated morning show.
In the press release, there was no mention of his longtime co-host Rich Shertenlieb. There was not even a mention of the show's name, Toucher and Rich. Instead, it was referred to as “The Sports Hub in Boston’s Award-winning morning show.” That’s pretty wild.
The same day the news of Toucher’s new deal broke, the Toucher and Rich social media accounts all changed over to accounts run by just Shertenlieb, who removed any mentions of Toucher and Rich from the profiles.
I should also mention that as best as this Substack Slueth can tell, there was ZERO mention of Fred’s new deal on Thursday’s show. Again, pretty wild.
The two hosts have been quietly feuding for months. We’ve written about it plenty here. This just seems like more of the same.
Here’s what we know from talking to people around the situation this week.
Before official news of Fred’s new contract broke, Kirk Minihane had the above scoop. Had it before anyone. The folks I talked to confirmed Rich’s deal is not done yet, but they also suggested the social media switch was a Beasley Media edict. They want their own social media people running the show accounts, not hosts. That doesn’t change the fact that Rich, on his own, took out any mentions of the show and even changed the avatar to a new picture that does not have Fred in it. God, what a silly sentence to write.
The word from two people who would know was “tension.” One called it “lingering tension.” My guess is Fred getting his deal before Rich doesn’t help.
No one I talked to thought the situation was unsalvageable.
Maybe Rich has already decided to move on after all of the drama the last year. This was the guy who reportedly accused his co-host of creating a “hostile work environment.” Maybe he wants more money after, in his mind, carrying the show while Fred dealt with personal issues. No one I talked to offered any clues on that.
But let’s say he’s out…is there a chance WEEI brings him in? Give Rich afternoon drive, call it “The Rich Shertenlieb Show,” and get out of the way. It would be a much different show than rival Felger and Mazz, who reportedly won their last weekly against WEEI by a score of 23 to 2. Rich is much more ‘fan’ than Felger and Mazz, so it would give the audience an alternative. Adam Jones as the WEEI afternoon lead now doesn’t do that. There’s like a
5% 2%1% chance this happens, for a lot of reasons. But it’s not crazy.
Again for effect - I can’t believe Beasley did not reference the show’s actual name, Toucher and Rich, in the release of Fred’s new deal. That, above anything else, might be the most obvious clue that Rich has already told Beasley he’s not coming back.
Meanwhile, the most likely scenario is probably Rich gets a little more money and a new deal. Maybe he gets to stop paying his producer’s salary. It makes too much sense.
Then again, it’s radio, which often makes little sense.
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On the hiring of Craig Breslow…
Stats is usually right.
But the lingering thought for me in the aftermath of the Red Sox naming former reliever Craig Breslow as their new President of Baseball Operations was pretty simple: Why did so many people turn down interviews for the job?
Did people around baseball think Chaim Bloom got a shitty deal? Do they not want to work with ownership? Don’t want to work with Alex Cora? Do they think it’s a bad job?
A lot of people said ‘thanks but no thanks,’ including New Hampshire native and Phillies GM Sam Fuld.
Everyone raves about Breslow. But it feels like a tall task to come back to a market like Boston and run a team for the first time. You have to pair him with an experienced baseball guy at the top of the organization. Right?
It feels like a lot of people are using former reliever and 43-year-old Chris Young’s success in Texas as a way to spin the hiring of the inexperienced Breslow as a good thing. Young was allowed to go spend $300 million on pitching in his first four months on the job. Are the Red Sox owners willing to do the same?
If the Stats reaction to the hiring is the glass-half-full version, I guess my take is the glass-half-empty one.
On our Week 8 NFL Picks…
Week 1: 2-1
Week 2: 3-0
Week 3: 0-3
Week 4: 3-0
Week 5: 2-1
Week 6: 0-3
Week 7: 1-2
Season: 11-10. Mid. So, so mid.
By now you’ve noticed the good people at the Mad Props App sponsor this week’s Friday Four-Pack. They are doing some really cool stuff - the latest being launching a free NFL Pick’Em game on their app and also on their web-based site.
No catch, just a FREE weekly Pick’Em for a chance to win prizes.
Unfortunately for you, I am eligible to win. But you should download the app, play for free and let me know what you think. Maybe even fire off some bets to your friends while you’re there. See you on the leaderboard.
RAVENS -9.5 AT CARDINALS. (-110, everywhere). This might be an overreaction on my part after missing out on an amazing spot to buy low on Lamar Jackson MVP tickets. He was 14-1 at FanDuel heading into the Lions game and of course, he went nuclear. He’s now down to 7-1 and likely to go even shorter with a lowly Cardinals team on the schedule this week. The Arizona defense is abysmal - 31st ranked overall unit DVOA, 31st against the pass and 31st against the run. Symmetrically bad! All the sharp football people predicted new Ravens OC Todd Monken would unlock Jackson. It appears they were right. It’s A LOT of points, I get it. I’m holding my nose and projecting a double-digit win.
TEXANS AND PANTHERS OVER 43.5. (-108, DK) We mentioned last week how the under has been crushing to start the NFL season - now hitting at 61%. So of course, let’s take an over! We’re looking for fast teams and bad defense when targeting overs. Even with a rookie QB, the Texans are playing fast this season - #3 in sec/play. The Panthers are 30th DVOA on defense. That’s the combo we’re looking for. And maybe a coaching change will spark Carolina’s pace on offense. Thomas Brown, a 37-year-old offensive coach out of the Sean McVay coaching tree, is taking over the play-calling for the Panthers. It’s no guarantee, but you would hope things will pick up for a team currently 25th in neutral-situation pace. It can’t be much worse. Both teams coming off a bye here, too.
JUSTIN HERBERT V. BEARS OVER 9.5 YARDS RUSHING. (-115, BetMGM) Herbert has cleared this number in four games this season after eclipsing it just six times ALL of last season. The Bears give up 18.7 rushing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, 17th worst in the NFL. In a must-win, primetime game, could see Herbert taking more chances on the ground and punching the over sometime in the first half.
On three quick-hitters heading into the weekend…
The New Hampshire sports betting numbers continue to take a hit thanks to Massachusetts going legal. The September 2023 handle was down 15% from September 2022 and it’s pretty obvious why - folks from Massachusetts are now betting in Massachusetts. And some NH bettors are going to Massachusetts to bet because there are so many other options. It’s still just DraftKings in NH. You have eight mobile choices in MA.
That handle number could see a sharper decline heading into 2024 as neighboring Maine (November 2023) and Vermont (Early 2024) are each set to go live with sports betting.
I was happy for the much-maligned Mac Jones when he connected with Mike Gesicki for the Patriots game-winning TD Sunday against the Bills. But that moment lasted for a few seconds, before then rooting for the Bills to go win the game. The team needs the best draft pick possible, not an empty-calorie win in October. So yes, I’m rooting for The Full Tank. Unfortunately, we’re not going to get it.
The 2023 MutStack No. 1 Halloween Candy is once again Peanut Butter Snickers. An amazing candy and criminally underrated. And harder than ever to find! The rest of the Top 5, in no real order - traditional Reese’s Cup, Peanut M&Ms, 100 Grand and Reese’s Take 5. We are pro-peanut butter candy. But the Butterfinger is trash.
As always, comments are open below. I try to reply to them all.
Thanks for reading. Good luck with all your bets.
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