I know, NASCAR, blah.
You think it's a hillbilly sport, or not a sport at all: it's just pressing your right foot to the floor. But this recent news coming out of the Smokeless Set is really pretty incredible. Hear me out.
All evidence is pointing to Dale Earnhardt Jr. heading to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008, leaving the company his deceased father started to join forces with the driver most reviled by his daddy's legion (and I mean legion) of remaining fans: Jeff Gordon. Gordon teammates with an Earnhardt? Why, that's as un-American as a hotel heiress not being able to buy her way out of a couple weeks in prison!
I'm trying to think of other-sports equivalents. Imagine if Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez suddenly became teammates, and had to pretend their famous '04 fistfight never happened. Or say Dino Cicarelli got the locker next to Claude Lemieux's (after a playoff series in which Lemieux's dirty play rearranged Kris Draper's face, Cicarelli famously intoned, "I can't believe I shook that friggin' guy's hand"). Or if Kris Jenkins had to rely on Warren Sapp on a down-by-down basis (Jenkins admits he started drinking heavily after watching the hated Sapp celebrate on Carolina's home field).
I mean, no, I guess Dale Jr. and Gordon have never personally expressed hatred of one another, but just take a look at the folks who like to throw things on the track after the No. 24 wins a race, and dollars-to-donuts they're wearing a lot of red No. 8 gear. At whom will Little-E fans direct their venom now?
The Cavs look down and out; do you give 'em much chance to do anything against the Spurs the rest of the way in the NBA Finals?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodog.com: The Spurs' players keep bringing up their embarrassing performances in Games 3 and 4 of the 2005 Finals, where they lost to Detroit by a combined margin of 48 points. I'm guessing this is coach Popovich's way of keeping his team humble on their way to winning a fourth championship in nine Seasons. These Cavs are not the 2005 Pistons; heck, they aren't even the 1999 Knicks. LeBron needs help, but it's not going to come in this series. Cleveland fans have a few positives they can take away from this trip to the finals; they have a bona fide superstar in LeBron James who won't like being embarrassed the way he has been in this series, Daniel Gibson is a very good shooter and the East isn't going to be much better next season. With a few changes, the Cavs could be back to the finals next year.
Golf's U.S. Open is at Oakmont this week, and Tiger isn't playing anything close to his best golf. Is this a major where he winds up frustrating his supporters? Who else does this course suit?
BDB, Bodog.com: Tiger Woods is still the best golfer in the world, but he has a lot on his mind, especially with it being Father's Day on Sunday. That must bring back memories of his dad, and make him look forward to the impending birth of his own child. I don't want to make excuses for Woods, but he may not be the best bet this weekend. Meanwhile, some say the course at Oakmont is the toughest in America, so after Woods, it's an open field. We could see Phil Mickelson overcome his usual fourth-round collapse or we could see another long shot such as Zach Johnson take the prize. The early money is coming in on Tiger at 14/5, followed by Jim Furyk and Adam Scott both at 20/1.
Here come the Yankees. Were we a bit preliminary pronouncing their time of death?
BDB, Bodog.com: I will fully admit I was wrong if the Yankees make the playoffs, but I don't think I'll have to. NY is still 9 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. Boston hasn't been able to maintain their blistering start, and if they were the pre-2004 Red Sox, Bostonians would be in panic mode. But the 2007 Red Sox have more than enough of a cushion to hold off the Yankees. New York's only remaining hope is to sneak into the playoffs as the AL wild card team. They're behind four teams for the wild card spot, but it's Major League Baseball's offensive juggernaut, the Detroit Tigers, who hold that spot now. The Tigers are taking aim at the Cleveland Indians for first in the Central; whichever team finishes second in this division will be the wild card winner.
Finally: does inter-league play in baseball increase betting interest?
BDB, Bodog.com: Yes and no. If it's a series between two teams without a history, we won't see an increase in betting. However, if the teams in question are natural rivals, like, say, the Mets and Yankees, the increase in our handle is absolutely huge.