World Cup of Hockey Play:
After observing the tournament, I think it is safe to say that teams ideally are in their optimal states at this point. Key word: Ideally.
Russia is one team that is not in their ideal mental state, nor level of chemistry. Apart from the first exhibition game, Team Russia has been just one stride behind their opponents in every game since. Part of the reason that the scores were close is the outstanding play of Segei Bobrovsky so far this tournament. Other than that, Russia does not look like a team of identity or stability. Russia scrambled for a late disallowed goal last night, and this only seemed to create even more frustration for the team. In my opinion, this is not an overnight fix. Alex Ovechkin has been somewhat pouty this tournament, and his leadership skills have seen better days. Russia, being a team known for some very explosive offensive threats, has not really showcased a whole lot of that this tournament. May part of it have to do with the North American tighter rinks? maybe so, but they have been very defendable against so far. They have been outshot in every game thus far. If they shift their focus to not making too many cute plays, they may ultimately resort to taking forced shots from the outside...something that they have been notorious for in the past.
While many initially bought into the hype of the best young players Under 23 years old, I was highly skeptical about them coming into this tournament. However after seeing their dominance over a tight knit team like Finland, they have earned my respect. North America seems to now be in groove on offense, which I guess was a expected of many by this point. It is their defensive play and possession though, that has made me believe that this team is actually competent against the tough opponents. There is no doubt that Russia is (on paper) the most talented offense that North America will face this tournament so far, but there is also no doubt that Russia is not the best structured European team in this tournament. Today's game and style is all about defensive to offensive zone transition, and these kids are showing that they are well trained for that type of game...as well as forechecking persistence.
In essence, I think these youngsters will be just too dynamic for a rattled and off rhythm team to handle. While this game might not be the best representation of structure, it will be a mental game that will benefit the North Americans.
North America moneyline -111 2*
A significant story coming into this matchup is last week's well showcased decision by Dave Roberts to pull Rich Hill in the midst of a perfect game quest. Today Hill (and his preserved arm) will come into Arizona to face the Diamondbacks under very different conditions.
This is the highest total involving Rich Hill this season, and it so happens to come upon his scoreless pitching streak dating back to his return from the DL. Hill has yet to give up a run in 19 innings as a Dodger, but tonight he will have two major things to his disadvantage. The Dodgers Ace has been turning a lot of heads primarily through his curveball dominance, but Chase Field also happens to be the second highest altitude stadium in all of baseball. While the Phoenix area may not exactly be on the same elevation of Denver, 1000 feet + above sea level can be a huge problem for curveball pitchers. To make matters worse for Hill, this is the first time this season where he has had to pitch in any ballpark above 600 feet. To make matters even worse, Arizona is starting to come into full force on offense. Last but not least, this can be a brutal matchup for him as the Diamondbacks are hitting .275 against lefties this year with an average of 5.54 runs/9 innings against them. If there is any suggestion that this currently superhuman pitcher will see a start of falter, it will be today.
Does this give the Diamondbacks the edge? not really. Archie Bradley is a 70% four seam pitcher, and the Dodgers lineup has proven at times to absolutely feast on pure heaters. While Bradley does naturally have strikeout efficiency, he is also almost a guarantee to give up multiple runs in the first five innings this second half of the season..and his arm seems to be wearing down just a bit.
While many will be backing the unhittable Rich Hill with some perhaps thinking this should be a lower scoring game, I think that this is a good spot to fade both pitchers in the first five innings.
FIRST FIVE OVER 5 -125
It is a warm and humid day in Boston, and Laqueefa is in town training for the annual walkathon. She was asked by a health reporter about participating in next year's marathon, but she aggressively declined.
"Fool, I aint runnin around no race track tryin to dodge nothin. Grenades be comin down like kapooya kapooya and all dem mfers scrambling all over da state of Boston. Do I look like some target at a shooting range to you?"
Sort of, thought the reporter. "No", he replied.
Laqueefa spends the day with J Rock's oldest son at the Prudential Center shops, looking for a Red Sox hat before returning to training. She put on her Christian Dior gold grills, and proceeded to take eleven selfies until she decided that she looked presentable enough to go shopping. As they get to the mall, the kid gets hungry and insists on heading to Boston Chowda at the temporary food court. As they purchase a bread bowl of New England chowder, JRock's oldest son spots his classmate Hector who is also on vacation. He pulls his phatfarm sweater hood over his face to remain unnoticed, and hides behind the wall beneath the restaurant's food permit (invalid) on the wall. He lunges up and throws his bread bowl at Hector, but misses and hits a short and plump Bostonian man right in the forehead. Chowder sauce drips off his unibrow and khakis, making him look like a Leprechaun that just walked out of a 17 man rub and tug. He is furious and yells, "I'm going to find you in the caaaaahh paaaaak!".
"Ohh noooo Mi Hectorino!!!" yells Hector's mother.
"What mom?" says Hector with confusion.
"Oh nevermind, I too used to seeing you get hurt mi Hectorino", says his mother embarrassingly.
Laqueefa gives JRock's oldest son a stern warning that he will be punished when he gets home..but meanwhile, she will now focus on training until gametime
Royals/Red Sox OVER 9.5 +105 GL
It's been awhile, so I will give out a free play. More importantly, I am sure all of you are wondering how Laqueefa is doing lately..so consider this a 2 for 1. You will get a free play, AND an update on Laqueefa's life.
It was a beautiful summer day in Northern California, and Laqueefa decided it was time to take J Rock's two sons for a vacation...after all, they had been stuck in summer school all July trying to catch up for next semester (Teacher Mrs. Brecktorfield had recently mentioned that both of their grades in Mathematics last year were described to be "unacceptable" and "below satisfactory achievements). After spending all of July being tutored by their schoolmate Ciaopang in elementary Algebra, the two kids felt that they had received enough assistance. They concluded their last session by releasing all of Ciaopang's Pokemon (6 of them rare) and stealing his calculator upon leaving the Paki Pang tuition residence.
While driving to Lake Tahoe for a family vacation, the trio experienced a sandstorm. Laqueefa had just wound down her window of the 1999 Red Chevy Cavalier, and ended up getting a mouthful of sand and her magenta braids became littered with grains of sand as well. Luckily however, nobody was harmed and it was so minor that the sandstrom wasn't even officially recorded (The last time a sandstorm occurred without anyone's knowing was at a 2004 Darude concert).
When they arrived at the lake, Jrock's oldest son began skipping rocks into the water. The three of them walked to their cabin which was next to a family from Belgium, who were roasting oyster infused waffles at a bonfire. They turned and stared a Laqueefa who had her braids all tangled up and full of sand, making her look like Medusa after large doses of Angel Dust. "Da fuq u lookin at?" shes says sternly, as the Belgians turn away and start muttering in French about how the oysters and waffles were not such a brilliant idea after all. Meanwhile, Jrock's kids continue to skip rocks into the water, and end up skipping one of the Belgian kid's nintendo DS into the lake as well. It ends up inducing the most skips, and reaches the middle of the lake where 10 year Hector is sitting on a tube, striking him in the left temple. He falls into the water panicking as the life guards continue to play angry birds on their phones. "Oooooo mi Hectorino!!!" yells his mother, "Dith ith why I tell u take swthimming lessthons Hectorino!"
"Is there a problem?" asks one of the life guards with genuine concern.
"Mi Hectorino is drowning!"
"Oh", he answers as he looks back at his phone realizing that he just failed level 3 for the eleventh time.
Meanwhile, Laqueefa got most of the sand out of her hair.
Orioles/Athletics FIRST FIVE UNDER 5 -120
As the warm up sessions begin, an overweight male is spotted sitting in the grandstand sulking with a Daniel Nava bobblehead in his right hand. "What's wrong?" asks the usher. "They didn't have a "The Freak is back shirt" in XXXL," replied the man with a dejected look on his face, "this was their backup freebie" he said waving the bobblehead which was chipped right at the base.
Loads and loads of Lincecum supporters flock the arena to see the Freak pitch a 27 strikeout perfect game. By the 8th inning, the Oakland hitters just stare at the ball as they realize they have a lower chance of reaching first base than a 16 year old kid that holds a prestige rank status in Black Ops 3.
In Disneyland, even a new ride called "The Freak" is introduced, where children under the age of 24 are permitted to enter without adult supervision. Participants must wear a Lincecum wig, while being launched 475 yards in a capsule at a velocity as fast as Tim's fastball, and the children then exit at the other side of the park. Because of the long lineups, most fathers leave their kids in the queue and leave for a short trip to Vegas so that they can bet on the Angels and take advantage of the Ankle Grabbing Annual Anniversary where escorts of any ethnicity are offered at a two for one rate with a voucher display. Hector's dad Montoya is seen leaving the Disneyland resort while his mom is using the restroom. He is seen accessing a Vegas hotel headboard insurance website on his IPhone 6 Plus, and browsing premium and platinum plans with coverage for destruction of all headboard types (It was unconfirmed whether he made an insurance purchase, but sources suggest that he likely did). Hector wants to go on the Freak ride with his fellow peers, and asks his mom if he can go on one more ride before his best friend Ciopang's mom picks him up early so he can begin studying for the 4th grade Algebra exam coming up in 32 weeks. "Ooo Hectorino, thith looks too dangerousth mi Hectorino". At that moment, Hector's capris get caught up with one of the bolts holding the ride's capsule in tact. He is immediately launched into the air in the opposite direction towards Tijuana. "Ooooo mi Hectorino! yells his mom, as she tries to find his father..who cannot hear his phone ringing in the midst of the headboard rattling and the Enrique Iglesias blasting on maximum volume in a hotel room at the MGM.
Safe to say though, Hector has found a new home.
OVER 8.5 -110 GL