Spreadsheet's Blog

Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 02:02 PM

NBA Eastern Conference down the stretch

Twenty-five or so games left in the regular season, so let's look at how the playoff situation shakes down in an Eastern Conference which has seen half of the expected post-season teams be re-made to one extent or another:

1. Boston -- The dust has settled a bit on the Kendrick Perkins trade and criticism is dying down. Adding Troy Murphy gives the Celts a more-than-decent rotation of Shaq, KG, Murphy, Krstic and Davis up front; Pierce, Green and Allen on the wings; and Rondo and West at the point. Not unbeatable, maybe, but damn good.

2. Miami -- Just when you think the Heat's young legs will enable them to sprint past Boston, they lose at home to New York. 8 of next 9 are at home, but there are no bunnies on the docket. Beginning to look like Wade or LeBron have to go off to win games against halfway decent teams.

3. Chicago -- Bulls at Miami on Sunday could determine if Chicago has the chops to battle for the 2 seed in the conference. Rose is getting MVP buzz, but Noah is the big that everyone hates to play against.

4/5. Orlando/Atlanta -- If that loss at home to Sacramento was not a red flag, then the Magic have no pulse. Looks like a first-round matchup with the Hawks is inevitable, and the March 30 game at Atlanta is key because the Hawks own a 2-1 edge in play this season.

6/7. Philadelphia/New York -- The 76ers have come out of nowhere by taking care of mediocre opponents, and NY is still figuring out how ... [More]

Posted Friday, February 25, 2011 11:17 AM

Celts trade was about the green

Up here in Boston fans are starting to think that Danny Ainge should not allowed near a telephone on the day of the trade deadline. The deal sending Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City has everyone thinking that the Celtics have voluntarily ceded their only advantage (a long and deep front line) in a potential playoff series with the Heat. And in Orlando, Dwight Howard must be doing cartwheels at the thought of not having Perkins leaning on him during a 7-game series.

But Perkins may have sealed his fate by turning down a contract offer from the Celtics earlier this season, and the thinking was that he would walk this summer unless Boston ponied up $40 to $45 mil over four years. That wasn't going to happen, especially for a center who is lugging around two bad knees and whose free throw shooting is so bad that he can't play in the final minutes of close games.

So Boston moves forward, and the 8-man playoff rotation will look like this: Garnett, Pierce, Rondo, Allen, Davis, Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green. Maybe toss Troy Murphy into the mix. Not bad, maybe good enough to get to the Finals and good enough to beat the Spurs. The Lakers' size would be a problem, but that's something to deal with four months from  now, and right now LA looks wounded.

One otyher thing -- Jeff Green is the best player in nthe trade, and in the NBA the team that gets the best player usually wins the trade. Green -- assuming he re-signs with Boston -- gives the C... [More]

Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2011 01:56 PM

Steinbrenner needs to smell the coffee

On the surface LeBron James and Hank Steinbrenner are polar opposites. One is a pompous airhead with an overinflated opinion of himself, and the other is a professional basketball player.

But James and Steinbrenner have something in common -- they both want to rid professional sports of minor-market teams.

James drew some attention a while back when he said that pro hoops would be better off without some of the weaker teams in small markets, apparently forgetting that he helped create the weakest team by his leaving Cleveland.

Steinbrenner said on Monday that "if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets, or don't leave teams in minor markets if they're truly minor." Since MLB is not contemplating expansion at this time and every major city in the country already has a team, it's not exactly certain what Steinbrenner was getting at.

Let-em-eat-cake Hank then went on to say that socialism, which he incorrectly equated with communism, never works.

Uh, beg to differ there, Hank.

Socialism, in point of fact, works pretty well in the NFL, where every team shares in television revenues, teams all have a limit on what they can spend on salaries, and the draft is weighted to benefit the worst-performing clubs.

But Hanki can be forgiven. He may just be squealing a bit because his privates are being squeezed pretty tightly by the other big-spending Evil Empi... [More]

Posted Sunday, February 20, 2011 08:44 PM

Whatever you do, don't log on in Washington State

There are no casinos in Vermont or Hawaii, but every other state will allow you to place some kind of bet – at a horse or dog track, casino, racino – some kind of wager.

Washington State is not different. As a matter of fact, there are 128 different places you can wager in Washington, be it a full-blown casino or poker room. The American Casino Guide has more than $1,000 in coupons if you want to take up the offer of the state’s tourism board and head for the Great Northwest.

Just make sure you leave your computer at home, because if you place an on-line bet in Washington, the moral police (and perhaps the regular police) will come down on your sensitive parts with a sledgehammer. Playing any kind of casino game or placing a sports bet in Washington now is a Class C felony, which means lawmakers have made placing a $5 bet on-line bet on the Seahawks to be equivalent with possessing child pornography, threatening the governor or torturing an animal.

[Note: One published report indicated that the state is so paranoid about on-line gambling that even writing about it will get you in ankle-deep mud. A columnist for the Seattle Times got grief from the authorities after publishing on-line gambling links in one of his stories.]

The big brothers in Washington say the law is on the bo... [More]

Posted Monday, February 14, 2011 09:24 AM

Kyl's departure good news for Internet gamblers

On-line poker players and advocates for repeal of the law that prevents sports wagering on line got a rare boost this past week when Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl announced that he would be leaving the Senate in 2012 when his current term expires.

The time between now and then will certainly drag, as Kyl has been antagonistic to efforts to repeal UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). In fact, Kyl was one of the senators who worked behind the scenes to slip UIGEA into unrelated port security legislation, and when for a variety of reasons the law was not immediately enforced, he maneuvered to accelerate its implementation. [There are reports that Kyl blocked three Bush Treasury Department appointments when the administration dragged its heels on UIGEA implementation.]

No evidence exists of Kyl expressing any sympathy for banks and credit card companies which spend valuable time and resources trying to out gamblers, raising the cost of credit for everyone.

Kyl rode into the Senate on the back of contributions from military contractors and has never met a defense system that he doesn’t like. But he has gone out of his way to vote against funds for breast cancer research. And a few months ago Kyl slipped a $200 million earmark into a bill a few weeks after railing against  . . .  earmarks.

He won’t be missed.

Now the bad news.

Given the poisonous political climate in Arizona and the anti-immigrant feelings that run... [More]

Posted Sunday, February 06, 2011 04:45 PM

The best way for a sports fan to get married

Think your wedding day was the best ever? You're wrong.

If there were any hard feelings from the Jets’ playoff victory over the Colts last month, they aren’t evident at Lagasse’s Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday.

Diehard Colts fan Dixie Stiles and Gang Green supporter Mike Ferrara will be married at halftime today in one of the most unique ceremonies in a city that has seen more than its share of them.

Stiles fell in love with Lagasse’s during a visit to Vegas several months ago, and when she  and Ferrara decided to pull the trigger, she knew that Lagasse’s was the place to be married – and Super Bowl Sunday was the time.

Ferrara is physical education teacher and a native of Queens, New York, and will wear a Jets jersey with the word “Groom” on the back. Stiles is a nurse practitioner from Orange County and about 8 years ago became a Colts fan (“I just loved Tony Dungy.”) Three guesses what she is wearing on the back of her blue-and-white Indianapolis shirt.

Stiles and Ferrara met on line a few years ago, lost contact for a while and then reconnected when Ferrara chased her down on Facebook.

“Quite honestly I thought he was a stalker,” she said with a laugh several hours before the ceremony. One thing led to another and Ferrara, who now also lives in California, and Stiles decided to tie the knot.

There are no plans for either to switch team allegiance.

The couple and about 30 friends and relatives are en... [More]

Posted Saturday, February 05, 2011 02:13 PM

In Las Vegas, three gamblers check in

Along the Las Vegas Strip locals and visitors merge in a wagering frenzy during Super Bowl week. Here are three bettors that we caught up with.

Bruno Morabito works some 60 hours a week at Bouchon, one of the top restaurants in the country. The 35-year-old who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and has twin 7-year-old daughters. And he loves to bet on sports.

"It's not the money," said Morabito as he montiored 8 cooks during a typical busy molrning in the Bouchon kitche. "It's the thrill on the chase, something every gambler feels to some extent. Like an addict craves a drug, we all crave the action -- whether it's horse racing, baseball, basketball, regular season football, or the Super Bowl."

Morabito, who remembers placing his first  bet in 1995 (baseball), was rightly on the Saints last year and also remembers placing 40 prop bets ("Some hit, some didn't. That's the way it goes). He was undecided about his pick this year.

Robert Bumpers has heard it all as a blackjack dealer at O'Shea's, a smaller casino wedged in among the giants along the Strip. "I keep telling players that I'm just delivering the cards, but they still blame me when they're losing."

Bumpers played high school football with Chris Carr, who is now with the Baltimore Ravens, and still is active in the Nevada high school sports scene as a free-lance photographer who specializes in action photos ("Anyone can take a team photo," he said after his shift ended)... [More]