Posts by Jamie Hinks

2014 World Series: The real David versus Goliath

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Anyone who has ever lived in Kansas City and taken an interest in major sports has been waiting for this day for a generation. Put it this way, it says a lot when the most successful team to come out of your city is an MLS franchise. The Royals will look to redress the balance when the World Series kicks off at Kaufmann Stadium later tonight in what is the team’s first appearance in the Fall Classic since winning it back in 1985.

 

Baseball has the smallest postseason of any of the four major US sports and fittingly the two Wild Card winners face off as the San Francisco Giants and those aforementioned Royals take part in the second ever all-Wild Card World Series.

Every few years there is a team that comes along and sweeps everyone off their feet so much so that you can imagine fans of the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics all wholeheartedly rooting for the Royals in this season’s World Series. Hell you can imagine that the whole world outside of San Francisco praying for anything other than yet another Giants victory to make it three in five for the Californians.

How can the Royals please the world at large, though?

 

San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals – World Series Betting Odds:

Giants to win series: -105

Royals to win series: -115

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

First and foremost they’ve got to ride that bullpen. Every team on a hot streak has its trademark and for all their other potent tools the Royals are reliant on the group of guys that take over in the sixth inning thus making the starting pitcher role an easier job than in any ballpark. Kelvin Herrera [1.41 ERA in regular season], Wade Davis [1.00 ERA], and Greg Holland [1.44 ERA] have been almost lights out throughout the playoffs and if you’re betting in-play and the Royals get to the sixth inning in the lead…you know what to do.

In addition to the bullet-proof pen, the Royals kept making downright ridiculous plays on the defensive side of the ball in the ALDS and ALCS, and the huge outfield at Kaufmann Stadium means the opening two games of the series could see even more of those plays.

 

How hard a task is it? Very. Consider this: Game 1 starter Madison Bumgarner has never lost a playoff start away from AT&T Park and has given up two earned runs on four wins from as many starts. Streaks are meant to broken though, right? Not this time.

The Giants have their own miracle making bullpen to boot that is led by closer Santiago Casilla [0.00 ERA in the postseason] and includes Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, and Yusmeiro Petit, who have all posted that same blank ERA that Casilla boasts. Sergio Romo tops it off with a 1.93 ERA and coach Bruce Bochy can be confident that he has a solution to just about any problem.

 

Even though the Royals are riding an almighty wave of momentum into the postseason it’s hard to see past a Giants win in six games and a third World Series pennant in five years for Buchy’s charges. Never say never though.

 

Betting Instinct tip Giants to win in six is +450 with Intertops.eu

 

b134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454 JAMIE HINKS is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry   and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. Follow Jamie  on Twitter.

Chilean and Dutch defences will succumb to Brazil and Mexico in World Cup second round

Javier Hernandez celebratesBrazil managed to avoid the proverbial cat-amongst-the-pigeons in the shape of Cameroon on Monday night and continued the long line of hosts to book a place in the second phase of their own World Cup where they will face the media’s current dark-horse-that-actually-isn’t-one in the shape of Chile.

Neymar is now on top of the scoring charts following the 4-1 demolition of the first African side to be knocked out of the tournament and Fred even managed to bundle one in but should Brazil have let the foot off the gas to try and set up a tie with Holland?

In a word, no. Although Chile look like a tasty proposition through the sumptuous ball play combined with their trademark toughness, the team just doesn’t know when to stick and not continually twist, to borrow some terms from poker. The side plays so high up the pitch when ahead in games it certainly looks as though a team that can get in behind, such as a Brazil led by Neymar, can take advantage.

Looking at the three games so far, Spain was by far the easiest game they had mainly down to the fact that the Iberians resorted to the usual tiki-taka style that has become their trademark for the last three tournament successes. Looking at the goals the Chileans conceded shows two flaws in the side’s back-line:

1)    They don’t deal with balls in the air very comfortably, as is illustrated by the goals scored by Leroy Fer and Tim Cahill.

2)    The defence is often too far up and this will lead to goals, like the Memphis Depay winner for Holland, or even disciplinary problems from players trying to stop an attack succeeding.

Brazil, meanwhile, have certain problems of their own and chief among them is the ridiculously high expectations of the home fans.

Anyone that has watched A Seleção won’t have missed the amount of emotion present within the ranks and a snippet from the national anthem illustrates this perfectly. Looming even larger than this is the fact Brazilians love to boo everything…even their own team. This was present during the pre-tournament friendlies and you can imagine come the 60 minute mark in Saturday’s game that if the team isn’t performing to the correct standard, the boos will get started and who knows what effect this will have on the team in the tournament proper.

The hosts’ defence, which has looked shaky at times in a poor group, shouldn’t be too much of a problem against Chile given the fact what is at the other end should see the team through. Later on in the tournament is when that can and perhaps will get unstuck.

Betting Instinct tip – Brazil v Chile to see over 3.5 goals is +190 with AllYouBet.ag

Another side with a defence that is entirely questionable is a Dutch team that has won the right to face Group A runner-up Mexico and its excitable manager Miguel Herrera.

Holland are the team that no-one gave a chance in Group B. Louis van Gaal’s side was supposed to succumb to the mercurial talents of both Spain and Chile before departing in a rage. That was before they smashed that plan to pieces by battering Spain and became the first side to finish the group stage on the maximum nine points.

Dutch fans should be worried about facing an unfancied Mexican side that failed to light up qualifying but has really found its feet under Herrera in the World Cup. The kind of speed and quickness on the break that has been exhibited by the central American side is something that will trouble the Dutch defence in the same way that Arjen Robben will do at the other end.

You feel that this one could well come down to the team that scores the most goals or the goalkeeper performs best, which at the moment hints at Mexico possibly stealing a path to the next round.

Betting Instinct tip – Mexico to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Quarter Final is 2.60 with Intertops.eu

 

 JAMIE HINKSb134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454 (jamiehinks) is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry   and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. You can follow him  on Twitter here and  on Google+ here.

MLB: Jump on the Milwaukee Brewers’ fast start whilst you still can

13496954265_9a7202ff4b_z   Milwaukee, Wisconsin is just the kinda place where you could imagine them putting something beer in the water to make things feel a lot better. This baseball season, however, Brewers fans have been chugging down the beers and for once it hasn’t been solely to drown their collective sorrows. Through the opening month of the season the Brewers, who were unfancied in a stacked National League Central division, own the best record in all the Majors with an impressive 22 wins and 11 losses before Tuesday’s home stand against the Arizona Diamondbacks got underway.

National League Central – Outright Betting Odds:

St Louis Cardinals -141

Milwaukee Brewers +190

Cincinnati Reds +700

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

The success has been built on the kind of big picture antics made famous by Billy Beane and the Michael Smith book Moneyball with a team that loves hitting just about as much as Beane loved his teams to get on base at the Oakland Athletics, leading one Sports Illustrated writer to dub it ‘Brewerball’. This being the case it’s highly unlikely that any sports bettors even considered the Brewers as post season candidates in the Spring given its 88-loss season last year. Should bettors be taking a look at those odds now though?

When it comes to winning games and notching up hits then ride the Brewers whilst you can. The team is just the fourth team to win 20 games in the first month since the advent of the Wild Card and two of those teams went on to win over 100 games and plough deep furrows into the post-season.

Pitching is another area where the team has excelled through a five man rotation led by aces Yovani Gallardo [2-1, 2.47 ERA] and Kyle Lohse [4-1, 2.72 ERA] that are more than holding their own against some of the best hitters in the game.

That’s all well and good but it’s worth taking an extreme note of caution when it comes to the team’s divisional record given that a large percentage of its games pit the club against the likes of reigning the NL champion St Louis Cardinals and two 2013 wild cards in the shape of the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The record so far doesn’t make particularly good reading given that eight of its 11 losses have come at the hands of teams in the NL Central and of the three series it has lost this season, two have come against direct divisional opponents [Cards and Reds].

Cardinals right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller has been a particular nemesis, the youngster limiting the explosive Brewers to just four runs over the two games he has pitched. Whilst the odds may be long on the Brewers to make the playoffs and tempt bettors, the divisional toughness will extinguish any hopes of an NL Central title or even a wild card spot.

That brings us to the coming three game set with the Yankees that will be the first chance for many to see the Brewers’ bats in action and the big stage combined with a poor start to May could have an adverse effect on the team’s chances.

A saving grace for the Brewers is that Gallardo gets the ball in game one of the three game set against the Yankees’ most consistent starter Masahiro Tanaka in what will be a low scoring encounter. Kyle Lohse then gets the nod in Saturday’s clash with CC Sabathia and it’s worth jumping on the Brewers in the first two games of the set thanks to the strength of the two starters on the mound.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Get on Milwaukee to beat the Yankees on Friday night. They’re +120 with AllYouBet.ag

 

 JAMIE HINKSb134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454 (jamiehinks) is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry   and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. You can follow him  on Twitter here and  on Google+ here.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays take flight in AL East

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista connects on another home run

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista connects on another home run

Baseball, unlike many sports the world over, is not one where the first month’s form will tell bettors anything about where the World Series trophy ends up come October. Granted your season ending Tommy John surgery injuries will be knocking about and someone could throw a no-hitter then do nothing for the remaining months, but on the whole the first sixth of the season won’t say a lot.

 

One thing the first few weeks of the campaign has shown is that the American League [AL] East will be closer than it has been in a good decade and four of the combatants go head-to-head later tonight in what will be two tight series between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, and New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

 

Baltimore Orioles @ Toronto Blue Jays Betting Odds

Orioles +102

Blue Jays -112

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Toronto is unique in that it is the only place in the whole of Canada that baseball fans can go out to the ball park and it is also alone in the fact that it is the city’s only ‘World’ champion in almost 50 years.

They don’t have the glitz or the pizzazz of Drake backing them up or the multi-million dollar signings that Toronto FC has brought to the table, though they are in a division that this year looks like it could be ripe for the taking.

Toronto’s bats have been heating up all season with Melky Cabrera held hitless in just one game so far this season and Jose Bautista tied for second place in all of baseball with six home runs. Baltimore is set to send Bud Norris to the mound for Thursday’s start and he has struggled against the top end of the Blue Jays order in the past with Jose Reyes [.375 avg in 16 ABs], Edwin Encarnarcion [.333 in 3 ABs] and Cabrera [.429 in 7 ABs, 3 RBIs] all excelling. Norris has two heavy losses on the road this season already and will run into trouble north of the border.

 

Norris pitches against Drew Hutchison once again after they duelled it out for a no decision in Baltimore on 12 April and the 24-year-old is still yet to rediscover the stuff that let him hold the Tampa Bay Rays scoreless over five innings on the way to his first win of the season.

The first time out between these two pitchers was decided in extra innings but expect this to be the polar opposite and the Blue Jays to come out on top in a slugfest.

 

New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox Betting Odds:

Yankees +110

Red Sox -120

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Last season’s world champions play host to their fiercest rivals in the AL East’s other clash of the night and it’s fair to say that the residents of Bean Town are far from what they deem their best.

The Red Sox were three-and-a-half games behind the Yankees on Tuesday night and could be behind by as much as four-and-a-half by the time the two teams face off at Fenway Park on Thursday evening.

 

One of the problems the Sox have been finding already this season is that aside from John Lackey, the starting pitching has been an itch the club house is finding it incredibly hard to scratch.

New York has had a slightly better time of things when it comes to pitching apart from C.C. Sabathia, Thursday’s starter. The veteran slinger has had an extremely mixed season so far with at least two runs surrendered in each of his four games and his one start against the Red Sox so far ended up in a 4-2 loss.

Thursday will be another close run thing with nothing more than a couple of runs in it and the AL East looks like being the same crapshoot meaning long odds on the likes of the Blue Jays are well worth a punt.

 

Betting Instinct tip – With AL East wide open, the odds on the Blue Jays to win seem very generous at +700 with Intertops.eu

 

b134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454 JAMIE HINKS (jamiehinks) is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry  and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Pacers and Heat battle to stay out of the NBA Bull-fight

Phil Jackson's return to Madison Square Garden can help the Knicks end the Pacers' winning run

Phil Jackson’s return to Madison Square Garden can help the Knicks end the Pacers’ winning run

Getting this close to the postseason means the main story is not just how much of a stench the Philadelphia 76ers have been throwing up in trying to get the first draft pick and more about the races that are still yet to fully play out across the NBA ahead of the playoffs next month.

One of the most intriguing narratives that is still playing out over in the Eastern Conference involves the race to see which of the conference’s two leading lights can take top spot and thus miss out on a conference semi final meeting with the gritty defence of the Chicago Bulls led by Joakim Noah. It means a straight out fight between the Indiana Pacers and reigning champion Miami Heat that has all the hallmarks of one that will go down to the wire.

2014 NBA Eastern Conference – To Win Outright

Miami Heat -111

Indiana Pacers +110

Brooklyn Nets +1600

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

For those readers in the UK not completely enamoured to the sport, the Heat have been tearing it up ever since LeBron James arrived in South Beach 2010 with three trips to the NBA finals and two of those ending in championships. The Pacers, on the other hand, have been threatening to break out for a number of years and after making the conference finals against the Heat last time out, have been riding the Paul George and Lance Stephenson bus to the top in 2014.

The Heat are a couple of games back on the Pacers in the race for the top spot and have arguably the easier assignment on Wednesday night when they head into Beantown to face the ailing Boston Celtics.

The Celtics were hit hard by the departure of 90 per cent of the zimmer-frame wielding championship calibre side of season’s past and franchise corner-stone Rajon Rondo has been out for much of the season. His return hasn’t seen a marked improvement in the side’s fortunes and the team is currently in the midst of a five game skid that won’t be remedied by having to face LeBron, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade…and the returning-to-Boston Ray Allen.

Indiana faces a far tougher trip to a New York Knicks ball club that has multiple championship winning Phil Jackson as its new el jefe. The Pacers are in the middle of a four game win streak but do not be fooled by this statistic. When two of the four games are against the 21-game losing streak clad 76ers it can in no way be considered a winning run. That’s even before you account for the fact the other two games were against the Celtics and Detroit Pistons who, when you combine their wins, don’t even reach the 50 that Indiana already has.

The New York Knicks, meanwhile, have been on a run of their own ever since Jackson’s name started began being banded around inside the confines of Madison Square Garden. The Knicks run has again been punctuated by the obligatory win against the 76ers as well as some equally simple assignments against the Utah Jazz, Celtics, and Milwaukee Bucks. The difference here is that the team is only four games behind Atlanta for the eighth playoff place in the East and is playing some good ball compared to the dross regularly trotted out by the Celtics.

In almost all sports the arrival of a new head honcho gives that momentary bump to the team and Jackson’s bump will see them past the Pacers and eventually into the NBA Playoffs, and will make them a solid pick this Wednesday night.

Betting Instinct Tip – back the Knicks to beat the Pacers at +110 with Intertops.eu

b134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454JAMIE HINKS (jamiehinks) is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. You can follow him on Twitter here.