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Friday Four-Pack 11.3.23
A lame Sox storyline. Boston media coverage. Breeders' Cup Podcast! NFL Picks!
I DON’T CARE THAT CRAIG BRESLOW PLAYED FOR THE RED SOX!
I really don’t.
The Red Sox mentioned it plenty Thursday in his introductory press conference as the new President of Baseball Operations. Breslow himself made a big deal out of it, too.
“I watched a lot of baseball games at Fenway Park. Some from the stands. Some from the bleachers. But most from the bullpen,” Breslow said. “I know what it’s like to put on a Red Sox jersey, to jog through the bullpen gate across freshly cut outfield grass. And I know what it’s like to stand on the mound in front of tens of thousands of the most passionate fans in the game, to feel the cool, fall breeze hit the Red Sox jersey. And I know what it’s like to hoist a World Series trophy overhead, the culmination of a group of people coming together to accomplish something that they couldn’t have alone.”
And it came across as forced. Almost as if someone thought, “The fans are stupid. The media is stupid. Let’s really push the ‘he played here’ narrative. Easy win for us. Deflects from the handful+ of executives who did not even want to interview here. Will soften the fact that he feels like a very similar hire to Chaim Bloom. Yeah, push the Sox angle.”
In the end, it doesn’t matter. Just like it doesn’t matter if he uses big words and comes across as robotic. His job is to get the Red Sox back to both contention and relevance. Anything less is a failure. For him and the organization.
I don’t believe his playing here will (or should) matter in that endeavor.
Two things that will matter.
Letting him spend money. Duh. This isn’t Tampa. Spend.
Getting manager Alex Cora on board with his plan.
That second one is as important as opening up the checkbook.
It was clear that Cora and Bloom were not on the same page about the team’s lack of urgency when it came to building a winner now. And while Cora didn’t go kicking and screaming to the media about it, the team knew how he felt. And he was not guarded when it came to telling folks off the record how he felt.
Cora’s attitude rubbed off on his team. They followed his lead. Never good when the clubhouse doesn’t believe the front office has their backs. Breslow can’t let that happen again.
He also needs Cora to help him recruit players here. Maybe Cora is the difference when the next ‘impact’ free agent is deciding between Boston or Team X.
Because given how many people turned down the chance to even interview for his job, Breslow does not appear to be walking into a baseball destination. The team’s owner (John Henry) is despised by his own fans. And it’s tough to blame them - he continues to dodge any public comment about his baseball team.
Hell, he was in attendance Thursday at the Breslow press conference and didn’t speak to the media or take questions. Embarrassingly par for the course with Henry.
I hope Breslow makes it happen. Selfishly, I want my kids to like baseball and that’s easier when the local team has stars and is worth watching. Those things matter to most fans. That fact that the new president once played for the team should not.
It’s Breeders’ Cup week. I’ve barely slept. Let’s get to the rest of today’s Four-Pack.
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On a Boston sports media take…
Here was your really dumb take of the week on Boston radio, courtesy of WEEI and the Greg Hill Show.
The show was reacting to the brutal video of Adam Johnson’s tragic death when he collided with Matt Petgrave in a hockey game in England.
Host Jermaine Wiggins was arguing that what Petgrave did looked intentional. He’s not the only person with that theory. Police are investigating the incident.
The clip above is producer Chris Curtis with a poor attempt at humor in the wake of Johnson’s death.
Stupid? Of course. Insensitive? You bet.
Not the first time recently Curtis has made news. Only in Boston, he really didn’t make news this week. Which was surprising.
The comments grabbed the international attention of The Daily Mail.
Larry Brown Sports had a post on it. And that was it.
In Boston, the most detailed coverage came from former Kirk Minihane Show producer Dave Cullinane on his TikTok page. It’s one of his most viewed videos on that platform, which shows me it was a story worth writing about. Except no one did. Locally.
It’s a far cry from June of 2013 when The Boston Herald put Mut and Merloni on their front page for sending a graphic cake to a rival station in Chicago.
They blurred out the delicious pastry! It was covered with edible, candy private parts pieces. Sorry, mom.
The Chicago station had been mocking the names of Bruins players….it was the Cup Finals…a dumb, silly prank. That made the front page!
This week’s stupidity didn’t make any page.
The Boston Globe’s vendetta against Kirk and Callahan over the years was famous. And calculated. But this gets no coverage?
It would have been thousands of clicks and traffic for the Boston Herald. Or NESN. I mean, NESN.com aggregates EVERYTHING. Nothing there, either.
The original Tweet with the sound of Wiggins/Curtis on WEEI has over half a million views. People care about this stuff. They’re interested.
Just not the news outlets in Boston, I guess.
Day one MutStack subscriber and Barstool personality Kirk Minihane has suggested that this newsletter become “all media coverage.” That’s not happening. Yet. But given the events of this week, maybe he’s right. Boston needs it.
On the 40th Edition of the Breeders’ Cup…
Admittedly, it’s taken me a while to get excited for this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
And I know I’m not alone. One of my best friends is basically a degenerate player who will fire from the early Pick 5 at Saratoga until the finale at Del Mar. He took the entire fall off from betting horses until texting me last weekend, “Finally caved and played a horse bet.” My personal handle for the fall was down about 75% from previous years. And would have been down more, if not for a fun trip to Parx.
I’ve seen a similar theme on HRT (Horse Racing Twitter) in the last few weeks. And trust me, there are a lot more people who feel that way but can’t acknowledge it publically because they work in the industry.
It's a combination of things for me. But at its core, I got into racing through betting. I’m not a trainer. I didn’t grow up on a horse farm. I sure as shit am not a breeder. I’m a bettor. I like doing the work and betting on horse racing.
And as a betting product, the sport is losing me. Small fields, payouts diluted by the CAW teams, a stale betting menu, weak player bonuses…all a part of it. Do I have faith it’s going to get better? Not really, and that’s another part of my eroding “all-in” fascination with the game.
Thankfully, we have what looks like some really good betting opportunities ahead of us in this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup. In working over the past performances the last two and a half days, I’ve been energized. And I’m excited to talk about the races.
With that in mind, let's talk about Saturday’s Late Pick 5. The one where the Breeders’ Cup Classic comes up as the middle leg so NBC can use the race as a lead-in to Michigan/Purdue football.
Dick Jerardi is one of the smartest handicappers I know. He finished 3rd in the BCBC a few years ago. He’s sharp.
He joined me for 30 minutes of handicapping key races on Saturday. As always, I suggest listening at 1.25x speed.
I’ll have a write-up on our ideas and some other races for Saturday in a special post in StackCapping tomorrow morning. I really like a horse early in the day on Saturday.
A reminder RE: StackCapping: it’s a different part of MutStack. You can subscribe now to MutStack and make sure you’re getting all of our content, or if you’re reading this, already subscribed and have not done so, you can manage your subscriptions at the bottom of this newsletter by clicking “Unsubscribe.” Trust me, it works, you won’t be unsubscribing I promise.
On our Week 9 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
Week 8: 0-3
Rough stretch for Side/Total/Prop. The Ravens loss was a particular brand of gambling pain.
CHIEFS -1.5 V. DOLPHINS IN GERMANY. (-110, BetMGM) A must-see game from Germany at 9 AM EST Sunday. Shake off that Breeders’ Cup hangover and turn on NFL Network. Look, I love watching the high-octane Dolphins. Especially compared to the ‘Model T’ Patriots offense. I root for them because I like good, smart offenses. BUT…this is a tough spot. Chiefs defense is legit - #5 overall and #4 v. the pass DVOA. And if we’re being honest, I didn’t think Tua was great last week. Miami’s 22nd-ranked defense gets a big test here - I’m drawing a line thru the Patrick Mahomes flu loss to the Broncos last Sunday. Nice bounce-back spot here. Speaking of Mahomes, he’s 19-6-1 ATS as an underdog or a favorite of three points or less (Action Network). That’s pretty good. I’ll lay the points with the best QB in the league.
GIANTS AT RAIDERS UNDER 37.5. (-105, Barstool Sportsbook). There are a bunch of games with totals under 40 this week. And maybe the books are over-correcting because the under has been so strong this season (61%). But this is still an under for me. The Raiders just fired their coach and are going to a rookie QB. They were already 31st in DVOA on offense. I don’t know why it’s supposed to get better. The Giants get Daniel Jones back but still come in dead last on offense (DVOA). Vegas (19th) and NY (21st) both plod along in neutral-situation pace. And then there is this - the line is 37 in a bunch of places. Over the last four years, games with totals 37 or lower are 21-6-1 to the under (78%). That’s enough of a sample size for me.
TAYSOM HILL OVER
15.5 17.5 RUSHING YARDS. (-110, DK) Going right back to a “QB” rushing prop after getting burned by one last week. Hill was unleashed against the Colts in the Saints win Sunday. After getting just one carry three games back, Hill has 14 carries for 81 yards over the last two games. He’s once again a big part of their offense. He was last week. And NFL coaches…kinda basic. If it worked last week, let’s do it again! Note: Line is already up from 15.5 on Thursday, as high as 20.5 in some places.
On your Friday MutStack Morsels…
Hello, Maine! At 9 a.m. Friday, Vacationland turned on legal sports betting. Your mobile options are Ceasars Sportsbook or DraftKings. With DraftKings the only mobile option in neighboring New Hampshire, expect them to dominate the two-book mobile market.
Formerly Barstool Sportsbook, ESPN Bet is set to tentatively launch in select states on November 14th. If you have a Barstool Sportsbook account, it will just turn into ESPN Bet. I’ll be shocked if ESPN Bet goes live in Massachusetts on the 14th given how slowly this state moves and the lingering questions about ESPN College Gameday. Bill Speros details the hurdles awaiting ESPN Bet in Massachusetts.
It was painful to see Will Levis and George Pickens, two players the Patriots could have drafted, look so good on Thursday Night Football.
I’ll spew out the rest of my Patriots thoughts with Andrew Callahan on his Pats Interference Podcast this weekend.
Thanks for reading (and listening). Good luck with all your bets this weekend.
Back tomorrow with a Breeders’ Cup Saturday write-up.