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Friday Four-Pack 6.15.23
Less commercials for the U.S. Open. Pats mini-camp. Dumb Florio takes.
No, it’s not Friday. Sorry.
Planned travel demands we deliver you the Four-Pack on Thursday this week. Which works out just fine because it’s U.S. Open Week.
With respect to the Masters, this is my favorite of the majors.
You get the best players in the world. You get a tough track for those best players. You get the chance for one of the dozens of uncelebrated qualifiers to make a name for himself by getting on the leaderboard on the weekend.
Add in a built-in excuse to watch golf all afternoon with Dad on Sunday and there you go.
Last year at Brookline was tremendous theatre, with Matt Fitzpatrick holding off Will Zalatoris on the final nine Sunday.
The story on Saturday of the 2022 U.S. Open was not the golf, but the avalanche of commercials NBC dumped on their fans during the action, prompting hundreds of tweets like these.
Well, the USGA heard you and say they adjusted for this weekend. From USGA CEO Mike Whan.
“We’ll break away from the action 30 percent less than we were doing a year ago,” Whan said. “[Last year’s final round] made a difference both in terms of viewing, and we faced some real choices to reduce, and we have.”
Finally! Golf on TV has always been bogged down by ‘shot, shot, putt, commercial, shot, shot, leaderboard, commercial’…hopefully we all notice a difference.
This works out well for those of us on the East Coast, who will be watching golf well into primetime the next four days thanks to the U.S. Open being in Los Angeles. It will be glorious.
The storyline I’m most interested in this week is Scottie Scheffler vs. himself.
From tee to green he’s been on a historic run, drawing comparisons to Tiger Woods in his prime.
Scheffler is gaining 3.15 strokes per round from tee to green since Jan. 1. Patrick Cantlay is next closest at 2.10. Scheffler has been one stroke per round, four per tournament, better than second-best in the same category.
Scheffler ranks third around the greens among those with more than 20 measured rounds, first in approach, first off the tee, first in ball-striking, first from tee to green and first in overall strokes gained, all since Jan. 1.
Scheffler at the Memorial posted one of the great tee-to-green performances in history. He gained nearly 21 strokes, more than nine better than Si Woo Kim, who was second with just under 12.
Scheffler has finished first or second in tee-to-green play in seven of his last eight professional events.
It’s just…he can’t putt.
I’m sure a lot of golfers reading this and watching the golf this weekend can relate. If he does putt even ‘average’ this weekend, he’s going to win going away.
But he’s also 6-1. No one wants to bet the favorite. Especially one potentially breaking out a new putter. I bet John Rahm but only because of a boost up to 13-1 which felt good earlier in the week. He’s the most likely upsetter. But I’m not a fan of betting favorites outright in these events.
We’ll take advantage of the early post this week and give you the rest of our golf card so you can #fademut.
DraftKings, FanDuel and Barstool Sportsbook all have good golf boosts or insurance offers worth checking out.
The opportunities to live bet will be plentiful this weekend too, if you’re paying attention. Live betting golf is my toxic trait and I’ll be involved for sure. If you’re betting in Massachusetts, DraftKings often drops a boost for any golf bet at some point over the weekend.
Hopefully, we get a finish like last year at Brookline. Combined with 30% fewer commercials should make for a hell of a weekend.
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On Patriots Mini-Camp…
Two days of football and a day of paintball for the Patriots.
How involved was Bill Belichick in the paintball?
How does the Bill O’Brien offense look? Is Mac in a better mood this year?
What about Greg Bedard’s take on Pats rookie Christian Gonzalez?
We go to a man who was there for all of it…well except the paintball.
Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald joins me to kick off the Four-Pack this week.
On the “new” nighttime host at 98.5 The Sports Hub…
When Adam Jones left The Sports Hub for WEEI at the end of 2022, the choice to replace him seemed clear.
Joe Murray had handled multiple roles for the station - everything from a prominent fill-in role on the highly-rated morning show to Pats pre/post to co-hosting a popular sports betting show/podcast. He did a lot for the station.
This after battling in radio for over a decade, working at places like the now-defunct 1510 The Zone in Boston, and my old stomping grounds WGAM The Game in NH.
But beyond his years of experience in radio, his ability to host solo with just a producer and listener phone calls for hours at a time made him a natural fit for the nighttime spot. No brainer.
So it was not a surprise this week when The Hub finally named Joe the full-time host of nights. In fact, the only surprise is they didn’t do it earlier.
Longtime employee Joe Murray will take over the night hosting duties, which will include anchoring the stations coverage of their Bruins and Celtics broadcasts. Murray has spent more than a decade contributing to each daypart at the station. In addition to serving as a regular on-air fill in-host, he’s also co-hosted “The Over/Under Show”, The Sports Hub’s dedicated gambling show and podcast which launched four years ago. The sports talk veteran also currently co-hosts the New England Patriots post-game show following the game broadcasts on The Sports Hub Patriots Radio Network.
Speaking as a listener, what makes him perfect for the role is not just the ability to do a solo show, but do one that is not just sports. It’s food. It’s sports betting. It’s some weird headline. And as a listener it’s entertaining.
I’m pretty sure I finally ordered an air fryer during the pandemic because Joe kept raving about them on his Saturday show. For segments at a time. (Side note - get an air fryer. Especially if you have kids that live on chicken nuggets and fries.)
As far as ratings go, nights have continued to dominate at 98.5 with Jones over at WEEI and Murray and others filling in over the spring. Hard to see that changing this summer with the Sox a complete non-factor.
In radio, major openings in AM, midday, afternoons and PM don’t open up often.
I expect the next few openings to come from WEEI.
On this opening, The Hub made the right call.
On the Belmont Stakes…
So, so close to a big score.
Calibrate a good second in the Brooklyn but I didn’t like the winner.
Gilmore is third in the Woody Stephens but Drew’s Gold - who I didn’t like for a nickel- gets second.
Tried to fade Caravel to no avail and it cost me. A lot.
We had the right idea in the Belmont - even pushed the winner last week on DraftKings The Sweat. You’re welcome for the handsome thumbnail.
I thought I was being sharp giving out Arcangelo (3) as a longshot on DraftKings this week. I loved his Peter Pan effort. His speed figures are right with Forte. Has breeding that ties directly to Belmont Stakes winners Rags to Riches and Jazil. Training well. All that and connections (trainer Jena Antonucci) people don’t run to the windows to bet on. A lot to like.
That’s from our Belmont Stakes Final Thoughts on Saturday.
But when it came time to bet Saturday, the horse I picked to win was a surprisingly good price and I had to bet Tapit Trice at 5-1. He ran an okay third.
Usually, if I run first and third and the winner pays $17.80 we’re going to smash…but Forte getting second was a killer. Didn’t want any of him and outside of a small saver trifecta, we missed a big chance to score out in the race with a decent opinion.
But the big 2-3 exacta…the tris that keyed in on 2-3 running first and second…dead.
Overall the Triple Crown season was a profitable one for us and I credit the Saturday Derby Prep posts we did for keeping me locked in.
In the Derby, we identified the key horses - including the winner Mage in the Top 5.
In the Preakness, we said only two horses could win - Mage and National Treasure.
In Belmont, we had two win candidates as “As” - longer price wins and pays $17.80.
The process ended up being very, very good. The betting… not so much.
Thanks to everyone who came by and said hello at Mohegan Sun. Awesome Belmont Bash once again.
Plenty more racing coverage to come this summer here. The three-year-old group will be fun to watch thru the Breeders’ Cup.
On two sports betting stories…
Assuming all goes according to schedule, you’ll be able to bet on sports in all six New England states by early 2024. That’s because on Wednesday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed the state’s sports betting bill. The details.
The bill legalizes only online sports betting, allowing two to six apps.
The final number of online operators will depend on revenue-sharing negotiations between potential operators and the Department of Liquor and Lottery, though lawmakers indicated they expect two or three.
Once that happens, the closest state to Vermont where you can’t legally bet on sports will be South Carolina.
Maine passed sports betting this year, but the timeline is also 2024. Not a great start in The Pine Tree State, where regulations in place have slowed interest from online sportsbooks.
In fact, there were reports as of April NO major sportsbooks had even applied for a license in Maine.
As of now, Maine will restrict sportsbooks from advertising on college campuses or using pro athletes and celebrities for adverting, and the state won’t allow them to offer “free bets” to consumers.
Also, Maine gaming officials are capping sportsbooks at 30% revenue, with an additional 10% allowed upon approval from Champion. That’s one of the lowest amounts in the U.S.
Mike Florio reported this week that one NFL player lost $8 million dollars gambling in 2022.
That of course led scaredy cat Florio - who freaked out over the NFL and Covid for two years - to lament that grown adults are actually allowed to - GASP - bet on sports.
So, again, why let the players wager on sports during their NFL careers? The Commissioner giveth, and the Commissioner can taketh away. The problem is that, if the rule were to change to prohibit all forms of sports betting by players, he’d be taking away plenty of money from the sports book partners that give plenty of money to the NFL.
Does Florio advocate the players not being able to invest in the stock market? Or real estate? Or a business? Those things lose money too, Mike.
These guys are adults give me a break. Every major sport allows athletes to bet on sports other than their own. The NFL should not be the first to go back on that.
Noted Tom Brady hater Chris Simms had an even dumber take.
Chris Simms’s theory, as expressed during Tuesday’s PFT Live, is that the league lets players legally bet so that the sports books can make money from young guys with lots of cash to burn. The fact that one player lost $8 million last year tends to bolster what otherwise could be dismissed as the musings of a Howie Roseman top-five conspiracy theorist.
Are they letting players invest with brokerages that sponsor the NFL just so those guys can get commissions for the same players?
Should also point out that Florio never says what this player lost his $8 million on. Casino betting? Vegas? Betting on golf like Michael Jordan?
Again, THEY’RE ADULTS. Why do we treat people who bet on sports like babies or victims? No one has a gun to your head saying you have to bet.
I get punishing guys who bet on their own sports, sure. Saying the NFL and the sportsbooks are preying on these guys is dumb.
If you are betting on the U.S. Open good luck this weekend.
Happy Father’s Day.
Go Rickie, go.
Thanks for reading and listening.