This Saturday is Independence Day, so it’s almost time for the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, New York. Every year, the contestant who can scarf down the most hot dogs (bun included) in 10 minutes is declared the winner. American Joey Chestnut has won the contest every year since 2007, usually consuming at least 60 hot dogs along the way. Chestnut’s over/under this year is 65.5.
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If we exclude Chestnut’s 2007 victory, which had a 12-minute time limit, the Vallejo, California native has exceeded 65.5 hot dogs three times out of seven. His record is 69, set in 2013, and his lowest intake was in 2010, when Chestnut topped out at 54 franks. Last year, Chestnut won the contest with 61 hot dogs consumed.
Chestnut has reportedly been training vigorously for this year’s event, hoping to fend off the challenge from the latest eating star, Matt Stonie. That could be enough to push Chestnut beyond 65.5 hot dogs, but there’s also concern he could be near the end or even past his competitive eating peak at age 31. ESPN2 has the live coverage starting at noon Eastern.
A pair of underperforming but formidable opponents will collide in Michigan this weekend as the Detroit Tigers host the Toronto Blue Jays. More than just a battle of wills, the series is relevant to those anxious to capitalize on a trend that’s emerged in the Tigers’ recent track record.
In each of their past 10 games, the Tigers and their opponents have combined to plate more runs than the over/under suggests. That’s what happens when the pitching staff of one of the most prolific hitting teams in the league starts to struggle. In addition to Detroit’s 5.6 runs per game over the span, they’ve allowed an average of 6.5.
This weekend the Tigers will look to gain ground in the AL Central as the Blue Jays look to claw their way up the AL East. Both squads are capable of conference dominance, and both have the talent required for a successful season, yet both teams have coasted safely in the middle of the pack so far.
According to oddsmakers, both teams are decent long-term MLB betting options. The Tigers are 16/1 to win the World Series compared to Toronto’s 20/1.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the best team in Major League Baseball right now, and it’s not even close. The Cardinals went into Tuesday’s action with a 51-24 record, which is nine games up on the rest of the NL Central. On Wednesday, John Lackey (3.41 FIP) will take the mound for the Cards as they host Jose Quintana (3.58 FIP) and the Chicago White Sox. First pitch is at 8:15 PM ET.
Betting on St. Louis in every game would have generated 23.41 betting units in earnings, and that’s head-and-shoulders above anyone else. But Lackey is only responsible for 1.69 of those units. The Cardinals are 9-6 behind their nominal ace, giving him only 3.67 runs of support per game instead of their already-pedestrian average of 4.12 runs. The under is 10-5 for Lackey this year and 45-27-3 overall for St. Louis.
Chicago (32-42, minus-12.42 units, under 41-30-3) comes into this game having lost 12 of its past 16 games to land in the AL Central basement. Quintana is down 3.86 units on a team record of 6-9; the Sox have scored just 2.33 runs per game for their young lefty, with the under checking in at 11-4.
Summer blockbuster season has arrived, and this Friday, two more films will open to what should be some big box office numbers. Will they meet those lofty expectations? At press time, Ted 2 (Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane) is looking at an over/under of $60 million for its opening weekend gross, and meanwhile Max (Thomas Haden Church) has a total of $13 million on the entertainment props board.
Of the two films, Ted 2 will no doubt bring in more money, but reaching that total is unlikely – the under is priced accordingly at –140. The 2012 original grossed $54.4 million in its opening weekend, and beating those numbers will be difficult with Jurassic World and Inside Out already in theaters.
Max has a much better shot at beating its total; although in this case, the over is priced at –140. This is a PG-rated movie about a boy (Josh Wiggins) and his eponymous dog, who is adopted by the boy’s family after working with US Marines in Afghanistan. Max is perfectly positioned to grab a healthy slice of the marketplace as a family-friendly viewing option. Just don’t confuse it with Mad Max: Fury Road.
Could this be the year the Chicago Cubs finally win the big one? They may have to grab a Wild Card spot to do it, but at 14/1 this may the closest the Cubs (38-30, plus-5.20 units going into Tuesday’s action) have been over the past 107 years. They’ll host the Los Angeles Dodgers (39-32, minus-6.91 units) this Wednesday in what could be a preview of the 2015 National League playoffs. ESPN2 has the first pitch at 8:05 PM ET.
Kyle Hendricks (3.45 FIP) might be a sneaky value for the Cubs when he takes the mound Wednesday night. Hendricks is only up 0.93 units on a team record of 7-6, but he’s been saddled with a .317 BABIP, which suggests his opponents have had some good luck at the plate.
Speaking of luck, Mike Bolsinger (3.18 FIP) has pitched remarkably well for the Dodgers since getting called up from the minors, but he’s only earned 0.30 units on a team record of 5-4. Two of those losses were by one run in games where Bolsinger earned a no-decision. Otherwise, Bolsinger has dazzled hitters with his new slider, which has plenty of zip on it at 80 mph.
The Tampa Bay Rays had their issues earlier this year, but after winning 10 of their last 14 games, the Rays are on top of the revitalized AL East at 37-30, good enough for six betting units in earnings. Tampa Bay visits Cleveland (30-34, minus-11.20 units) this Friday night; first pitch is at 7:10 PM ET.
Nate Karns (4.15 FIP) continues to impress for the Rays in his first full year as an MLB starter. Karns is 1.06 units in the red on a team record of 6-7, but the towering righty has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his last nine starts. Getting through more than five innings has been difficult, though, and Tampa Bay’s bullpen ranks No. 28 in the majors with a combined 4.28 FIP.
The Tribe will send sixth-year northpaw Carlos Carrasco (2.67 FIP) to the mound on Friday. Carrasco has pitched very well since making a full recovery from Tommy John surgery in mid-2013, and this year, the Venezuelan native is up 1.46 units on a team record of 8-5. Cleveland won four of Carrasco’s last five starts, and he’s gotten plenty of run support this year at 5.15 runs per game.
It might be a Wimbledon warm-up on the ATP Tour 500 series, but this week’s Queen’s Club Championships remains one of the most important grass-court tournaments on the planet. Three-time champion Andy Murray was the 3/2 favorite at press time, followed by recent French Open winner Stan Wawrinka at 8/1. Both men won their first-round matches on Tuesday in straight sets; Rafael Nadal (originally 8/1) fell in three sets to Alexandr Dolgopolov (66/1).
Murray has enjoyed more success on grass than any other surface since turning pro in 2005. The Scotsman was 78-16 lifetime (83%) going into Queen’s, winning five of 22 tournaments at the Masters 1000 level or higher, including the 2013 Wimbledon Championships. Murray is coming off the best clay-court session of his career, featuring his first-ever win on dirt at the Bavarian International.
Wawrinka is more of a clay-court specialist, going just 21-20 lifetime (51%) on grass and never making it past the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. But the native of Lausanne is riding high after upsetting Novak Djokovic to win the French Open as a distant 16/1 third favorite. At press time, Wawrinka is No. 4 on the world rankings, one spot behind Murray.
The Chicago Blackhawks were favoured to win the Stanley Cup going into the 2014-2015 NHL regular season. They fulfilled that promise Monday night, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning (+145 away) 2-0 in Game 6 of the Cup Final and winning the series four games to two. Chicago also won Game 6 on the puck line at +180; this was the first time all series that the Blackhawks had taken a two-goal lead on Tampa Bay.
The Hawks were on top of the Stanley Cup futures market at 13/2 during the preseason, then improved to 6/1 after winning three of their first four regular-season games. Chicago would spend much of the season as the Cup favourite before fading down the stretch, falling into third place at 8/1, and settling for the No. 3 seed in the Central Division.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the Stanley Cup was delayed from arriving at United Center because of flooding in the region. But it did eventually show up, as did the Conn Smythe Trophy, which was awarded to defenseman Duncan Keith. Going into the final, Keith was the second favourite at 3/1 to win the Conn Smythe, behind teammate Jonathan Toews at 57/20.
The Golden State Warriors can close out the Cleveland Cavaliers and take home a title this week, but they’d have to do it on the road. Touted as 4.5-point favorites in the elimination game, the Dubs are in as good a position as they could ask for against the nearly unstoppable LeBron James.
James and the Cavs have choked on an opportunity after jumping out to a 2-1 series lead and now face a pair of do-or-die games if they want to win the ring. That ring would be James’ third, of course, but Cleveland’s first in any of its three major sports since 1964.
Cleveland broke out of the gates as the sportsbook favorite to win the championship; however, the Warriors have been in front of the NBA futures for the majority of the 2014-2015 season. Not surprisingly, between Stephen Curry’s MVP campaign and the evolution of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, there is plenty to be excited about in Golden State.
Bet on the NBA Finals as they come to a conclusion before the end of the week. History awaits whichever franchise is ready to put an end to their lengthy drought.
This has been a pretty lousy year for the Philadelphia Phillies (22-39, minus-13.41 units). It could get even worse this Friday when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates (32-27, plus-0.41 units) in the first of a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have lost six of their last seven games, while the Pirates are 14-5 since May 20. Game time is 7:05 PM ET.
Kevin Correia (4.67 FIP last year) is scheduled to make his Philly debut after signing a one-year deal this past Monday. The 34-year-old righty was pitching in the minors after failing to crack the San Francisco Giants rotation this spring. Correia, who was with the Pirates in 2011 and 2012, posted a 4.60 FIP in six starts at AAA-Sacramento.
Pittsburgh responds with southpaw Jeff Locke (4.26 FIP), who’s down 1.71 betting units this year on a team record of 5-6. Locke made his MLB debut with the Pirates in 2011; he’s one of their more interesting pitching prospects, but hasn’t quite put it together on a consistent basis yet – only two of his last nine games were quality starts. However, current Philly hitters are a combined 7-of-52 lifetime against Locke with a tiny .355 OPS.
If Rafael Nadal is going to get his 2015 season back on track, Stuttgart is a great place to start. Nadal went into this ATP World Tour 250 series tournament as the 2/1 favorite against a relatively light field; Marin Cilic was the second favorite at 4/1, followed by Feliciano Lopez at 5/1.
Nadal is a two-time Stuttgart Open champion, taking the title in 2005 and 2007, and he’s won eight of the 12 tournaments he’s entered at the ATP 250 level. But this isn’t the Rafael Nadal that we’re used to. He’s fallen to No. 10 in the world rankings after getting bounced in the quarterfinals at the Rome Masters and the French Open, both on his preferred clay surface.
Speaking of which, the Stuttgart Open was played on clay when Nadal won in 2005 and 2007. This is the first year they’ll be playing on grass courts as part of the run-up to the Wimbledon Championships later this month. Nadal won at Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, but is 53-15 lifetime on grass (78%), and just 5-5 since 2012. On clay, Nadal has a career record of 339-30 (92%).
In the end, it was Ben Bishop in between the pipes for the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night. And Bishop was more than good enough, steering aside 36 of 38 shots as the Lightning (+155 away) beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. Tampa Bay now has a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, with Game 3 coming up on Wednesday (8:00 PM ET, NBCSN) at the United Center.
Bishop didn’t appear to be at 100% on Monday after suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 2. However, last year’s Vezina Trophy finalist was outstanding during the first period, allowing just one goal on 19 Chicago attempts – and that was on the power play. Bishop’s work helped the under cash in at –135 on the posted total of 5.5 goals; expect to see him in the net again on Wednesday.
The victory also pushes Tampa Bay into second place on the NHL money list at plus-5.32 betting units against the puck line. Chicago is now barely breaking even at plus-0.21 units; the Hawks have yet to beat the Lightning by two goals in this series, and they’ll be laying 1.5 goals at home again when the two teams reconvene Wednesday night.
With a stunning series underway between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, bettors will notice that the NBA odds have shifted. After splitting a pair of games in the Bay Area, LeBron James and company look more dangerous than fans and critics originally thought.
According to the oddsmakers at Bovada, the Cavs are +175 underdogs for the series, but it’s getting harder to pretend that James isn’t capable of being the one-man wrecking ball that Cleveland needs. Even without complementary stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, James and his team have pushed the Dubs to their limits.
Don’t expect another poor shooting night out of Stephen Curry as the series picks up in the Eastern Standard time zone, but don’t underestimate point guard Matthew Dellavedova’s presence as a defensive pest either.
The Splash Brothers should get their splashes in; the Warriors are still -210 to win the NBA championship after all. With this year’s 2-2-1-1-1 format, the Cavaliers don’t even have the bonus benefit that away teams previously had under the 2-3-2 format. Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday, June 11 at 9:00 PM ET on ABC.
The Minnesota Twins are the most profitable team in the American League. The Milwaukee Brewers have lost more money than anyone else in the National League. This Friday (8:10 PM ET), the Twins will host the Brewers in what has to be considered a major mismatch at this point.
Not much was expected of either team going into the 2015 campaign. The Brewers (18-36, minus-17.52 units going into Thursday’s action) were 50-1 to win the World Series, and meanwhile the Twins (31-21, plus-16.19 units) were even further down the odds list at 100-1. But Minnesota is tied for the AL Central lead despite a so-so run differential of plus-17, thanks in part to an 11-7 record in one-run games and a 3-1 record in extra innings.
Ricky Nolasco (2.80 FIP) was scheduled at press time to start for Minnesota, but will probably be pushed back to Saturday or even longer because of a right ankle impingement. Kyle Lohse (5.00 FIP) responds for Milwaukee; Lohse is having an unusually bad season, leading the Brewers to a 4-7 team record for a loss of 3.28 betting units. The over is 6-3-2 in his 11 starts thus far.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has never won a Grand Slam, but he’s been very close on a number of occasions. He’s now in the semifinals at the French Open and is looking to capture his first in his home country.
Tsonga entered the Paris tournament as a 50/1 long shot, but he’s been fantastic en route to the semifinals where he now sits at 10/1. He started with three consecutive straight-set victories before dispatching the No. 4 seed Tomas Berdych in the fourth round and the No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinal. Only once has Tsonga been past the quarterfinals in his French Open history (2013), and he’s never made it past the semifinal round.
Next up for the French hero is Stan Wawrinka, who has been incredible so far in the 2015 French Open. He’s dropped just one set all tournament and dismantled Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka is a -225 favorite against Tsonga (+185), but the crowd at Roland Garros will definitely be cheering on Tsonga.
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The Golden State Warriors broke out as an up and coming Western Conference contender last season, and this year they’ve dominated the landscape. Lined up against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals, the world will watch as the Dubs look to take yet another step forward.
The Warriors are currently pitted as 5.5-point favorites to win Game 1 of the championship. Considering Golden State led the league in wins this season, boasting a 67-15 record SU and a 47-34-1 record ATS, the big spread isn’t surprising.
However, James and the Cavs shouldn’t be underestimated. Playing in his fifth consecutive final, King James is more than capable of taking over a series. In 14 playoff games so far this postseason the superstar has posted averages of 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. The Splash Brothers can’t match the individual power of Cleveland’s prodigal son.
As a team, though, Golden State has blown minds and exceeded expectations all year. Weigh in on the NBA Finals and tune in to watch postseason basketball at its best. The total is set at 203 as we go to press.
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The New York Mets are still hanging tough in the National League East division race, and they can improve their position Friday night (7:10 PM ET) when they host the wayward Miami Marlins in the first of a three-game series. New York is coming off a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, and meanwhile Miami just dropped three straight games to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Matt Harvey (3.07 FIP) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mets. He’s enjoying an excellent season since returning from Tommy John surgery, leading New York (27-21, plus-6.40 units) to 2.96 betting units in profit on a team record of 6-3. However, Harvey was shelled for seven runs in his last start against Pittsburgh. The Mets are concerned that Harvey could be experiencing “dead arm” issues.
While the Marlins (18-30, minus-14.63 units) are one of the least profitable clubs in the majors, Haren (4.24 FIP) has held up his end of the bargain, earning 2.85 units on the same team record of 6-3. However, the former three-time All-Star has had some good luck along the way. Miami has given Haren 4.78 runs per game of support, up from 3.7 runs per game overall.
Maybe Rafael Nadal still has something left in the tank after all. Despite going into the 2015 French Open as the No. 6 seed, and the second favorite on the futures market at 7/2 (down from 9/4 last week), Nadal looked very good in Tuesday’s first-round victory over Quentin Halys (+2500). The defending and nine-time French Open champion needed less than two hours to defeat Halys in straight sets. Nadal now has a career record of 67-1 in men’s singles play at Roland Garros.
Meanwhile, No. 1 seed and top favorite Novak Djokovic is off to the second round after breezing past Jarkko Nieminen (+2500). Djokovic, who has yet to win the French Open, saw his odds tighten a bit from 4/5 to 5/6 going into Tuesday’s match. He and Nadal will meet in the quarterfinals this year, provided they advance that far.
It was business as usual in the women’s draw as top favorite Serena Williams (11/4, down from 5/2) and defending champion Maria Sharapova (4/1) both sailed through the opening round in straight sets. They’re pointed at a finals matchup, unless third favorite Simona Halep (9/2) or someone else can play spoiler.