Thursday, September 22, 2011

College Football Picks: Week 4*

Last week my picks were 2-5. On the season, I've made 20 picks, and have a record of 7-12-1. So things haven't been going very well. Factor in a 10% vigorish that the loser typically pays in a sports bet, and I'm averaging a -31.5% return on investment with these bets. That means for every $100 I theoretically wager, I'd get back $68.50 and lose $31.50. That's not good.

So I would advise that you look at my picks, and do the opposite.

This is a big weekend in college football. There are three huge conference games that could go a long way to determine BCS berths. #14 Arkansas is at #3 Alabama. #7 Oklahoma State is at #8 Texas A&M. #11 Florida State is at #21 Clemson. And here are my picks:

NC State +7.5 @ Cincinnati
I still have faith in the Wolfpack, and think very little of the Bearcats.

Syracuse -2 vs. Toledo
Why not? If Cuse loses, then I'll still be quite happy.

Boston College -9 vs. UMass
I'm tempted to take UMass on this one, but BC has got to be pissed, their defense should stop anything the Minutemen can muster, and Montel Harris might be back.

Florida State +2.5 @ Clemson
One team coming off a big loss, another coming off a big win. I think FSU is slightly underrated at the moment, and the opposite is true of Clemson. I'm sure Jenn Sterger agrees.

Arkansas +12.5 @ Alabama
In my preseason SEC preview, I picked Arkansas to win the West because they'd match up well with Alabama. When you're wrong most of the time, it's best to stick with your first pick. That way, at the most, you can only be wrong once.

Texas A&M -3.5 vs. Oklahoma State
OSU is good, A&M is better, and playing at one of the best home stadiums in the game.

LSU -5.5 @ West Virginia
I have a feeling like LSU might get worn down with their tough schedule. But until it happens, I can't not pick them.

USC +2.5 @ Arizona State
Why not?

Is Fenway Too Friendly?

I heard Maz and Felger discussing how friendly Fenway Park has been despite the Red Sox' struggles in September. For example, how everyone sings and sways to "Sweet Caroline" between the top and bottom of the 8th, even if the bullpen has just blown a lead in a crucial game against a crappy team.

And they're right. Fenway is different. It's different from what it was 10 years ago. It's different from the other venues in town. It's become more family friendly, which is nice. And you can't avoid pinkhats (at least they're nice to look at, especially in short shorts on a humid summer evening). But there have been all sorts of undesirable fans at these games.

At least once a game, I see a group of emo kids wearing Pedroia shirts. Emo Sox fans? Could you imagine seeing an emo Patriots fan at Gillette? How about an emo Bruins fan at the Garden?

The other day, there was a group of yuppies asking me where to get good beers. I pointed out a Blue Moon stand, told them where Sam Adams Octoberfest, Guinness, Smithwicks, and Harpoon were and they almost laughed at me. These beers weren't good enough for them. Or as they phrased it "Where can we find a beer we can actually drink?"

Fenway has become a great place to take a date (or so it seems, I wouldn't know). She can get a Mike's Hard Lemonade, eat a veggie burger or sushi, wear a shirt that says "Meet Me in the Dugout," and she can even wear high heels because they repaved the concourse to flatten out all those 99 year old bumps.

Fenway used to be a place where you wouldn't take prissy girls. You'd only take girls that I consider to be wife material. These are girls who actually like the sport, don't mind sitting in cramped seats, and will have a kielbasa dog, and drink Sam Adams or Molson with you.

The Sox have dramatically improved the experience at Fenway Park. The concourses are larger, there are more areas for fans to congregate and socialize. There are activities for kids. There's tons of concession stands and ATMs so long lines are rare. They've turned the cavernous interior into a nice place to be.

But while this means higher ticket prices, which means higher revenue, which means being able to sign talented players (or JD Drew and John Lackey), it also means that Fenway has become more of a picnic area than a ballpark.

Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, if you went to Fenway, all you could do was sit in your seat, drink, and watch the game. The game was everything. You were miserable if the Sox lost, ecstatic if they won. Now it's sort of like a party with a game of beer pong being played in the background. If something interesting happens, people applaud. But most of the time, they're just hanging out with their friends.

There's been no anger, no rage at Fenway these past two weeks. At Gillette, Patriot fans get mad if the Pats aren't leading by a 14 at halftime. Bruins fans get pissed if the B's fail to score on a Power Play. There's really no atmosphere at Fenway anymore. There's no buzz when the Yankees are in town. There's no tension when the weather gets cold and there's a pennant race. It's just a happy, fun place to be. It's no longer Fenway Park. It's Cheers.