Dan Duquette, where are you?
Duquette is the former Red Sox general manager who, among other dubious maneuvers (including telling Roger Clemens he was in the "twilight of his career"), signed Jose Offerman from the Kansas City Royals for a then-astronomical $5 million per year. It was especially astronomical for a guy who'd averaged three homers and 43 RBI in his seven full major-league seasons. Predictably, Offerman flamed out in Boston, lasting three-and-a-half dreadful seasons in which he never drove in more than 50, never hit over .300, and saw his defensive skills decline precipitously.
Well, Offerman's back in the news this week. He was playing in the Atlantic League, for the Long Island Ducks (is it just me, or does every past major-league malcontent eventually wind up playing for the Long Island Ducks?), and he homered in the first inning of a game against the Bridgeport Bluefish. His next time up, he was hit by a pitch from Bridgeport's Matt Beech, and charged the mound. Wielding his bat.
Offerman reportedly swung hard at the pitcher, but on his backswing thwacked catcher John Nathans in the head. His power somewhat diminished (both by the Nathans' noggin and Mother Nature), Offerman's forward swing wasn't quite as hard as he evidently intended. He missed Beech's face, and only managed to break a finger on the pitcher's non-throwing hand. Nathans tried to continue playing, but had to come out of the game with a concussion after collapsing in the dugout.
Man. The only good thing you can say about Offerman is it's the first time he's had two hits in a game in a long time. The Atlantic League will reportedly seek to ban Offerman for life, and you have to believe a lawsuit, and possible criminal charges, are forthcoming. Somewhere, Dan Duquette has a headache.
Do you have "Home Run Record" fatigue like I do? Will you be rooting for A-Rod to get rid of Bonds? Is A-Rod above performance-enhancing-drug suspicion in your mind?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodog.com: I don't know if it's fatigue, but I will say I'm glad it's over. I believe Barry Bonds is happy to have the national spotlight dimmed a little, as he's knocked out a couple more homers since breaking the record. I'm in the minority of people who actually like Barry Bonds; I believe if he hasn't been such a (fill in your own expletive here) with fans and the media during his career, more people would be able to embrace what a truly great ball player he's been over his career. Say what you will, but he was a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer before the 1999 season, when it's generally assumed he started to enhance his skills. As for A-Rod, assuming he can avoid injury and major scandal, he could pass Bonds in about seven or eight years. Rodriguez is all but guaranteed to receive a much warmer reception than Barry did, but unfortunately, even though Jose Canseco is the TMZ of baseball insiders -- slimy and d riven by resentment and profit -- we can't ignore the fact that he's been right more than he's been wrong, and deserves to be listened to.
What percentage chance do you give of the Red Sox blowing the AL East to the red-hot Yankees?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodog.com: Earlier in the season, I pronounced the death of the Yankees, but after the Red Sox lost two of three to both the Angels and Orioles, I have to rethink my statement. In those two series, Boston looked like the pre-2004 choke artists we all knew and loved. Making the situation worse is the fact that their star trade-deadline acquisition, Eric Gagne, has been lit up since joining the club. August gives the Bosox two more series with Tampa Bay, which is the perfect tonic for any slumping division leader. I'd say the percentage chance of the Red Sox choking is 35%, but if Boston doesn't take advantage of their weak schedule during the final week of August, that number will double.
Preseason football has begun. Are you seeing a larger amount of wagering on what are, let's face it, pretty meaningless football games? Is that just an indication of how rabid and desperate people are for the NFL?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodog.com: The die hards come out for NFL preseason games, but for the most part the public stays away until the established starters begin playing a good chunk of the minutes. That being said, our NFL preseason handle is still bigger than any single regular-season MLB game.
Now that Tiger Woods has won the PGA's final major of the season, are you (and bettors) done paying attention to golf for 2007? (By the way, have you ever seen a person sweat as much as Tiger did Sunday?) Do you think this "Fed Ex Cup" thing will catch on?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodog.com: Let's not forget about the Presidents' Cup, as match-play golf is structured perfectly for wagering. The Fed Ex Cup is great in theory, but it has been poorly executed. The problem is no one is really sure how it works. Commissioner Finchem is committed to the Cup, so we'll have it for at least another year.