Oct 302012

The battle to secure the signature of Japanese teenage sensation, Shohei Otani, took a twist last month when the 18-year old pitcher was selected in the first round of the draft by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

The decision to draft the pitcher came after Otani had made it clear he was looking to skip the Japanese league in order to test himself in America straight away, a development that will no doubt have piqued the interest of fans betting on baseball.

The Nippon Professional Baseball league has grown accustomed to losing their star players to teams from the MLB, but losing a player of Otani’s potential without a fight was never going to happen.

The Fighters will now be at the centre of a bidding war between the two most powerful leagues in baseball, but a bidding war with only one real winner.

Teams from the MLB have been aware of Otani’s potential ability to affect MLB scores for a number of years now, and one of those teams will surely have the funds capable of securing the services of the teenage sensation.

“We want to get the best available player this year as the team’s first pick,” Fighters manager, Hideki Kuriyama, told reporters. “We apologize to Otani, but I believe this will only be a positive.”

The 6-foot-3 right-hander is being tracked by a host of major league teams, with the Dodgers, Yankees, Orioles, and the Rangers all very much in the hunt for the hottest young pitcher to come out of Japan since Yu Darvish.

Otani, capable of producing a 99mph fast ball, admitted his plans remained unchanged, despite being drafted by the Fighters, insisting he was still determined to head to the States as soon as possible.

“I was honestly surprised (with the draft),” Otani admitted. “I am still determined to go to the U.S.”

Oct 192012

The marquee SEC West matchup this weekend is between the LSU Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies. Kickoff between the two 2-1 SEC teams is scheduled for 12 PM ET, Saturday, Oct 20. Both teams will look to keep pace with the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the division by earning a huge victory Saturday afternoon.

Ucabet sportsbook odds makers view this game as a close one as the LSU Tigers are listed as 3.5 point road favorites. The total is currently set at 52 points.

The LSU Tigers are coming off an inspiring victory last Saturday night against the South Carolina Gamecocks by a final score of 23-21. Running back Jeremy Hill had a coming out party of sorts as the freshman ran for 124 yards on just 17 carries and scored two touchdowns, easily his best game of the season. With quarterback Zach Mettenberger continuing to struggle, LSU will look to its running game to move the ball against the Aggies this Saturday.

Texas A&M is coming off an exciting victory of its own after beating the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs last week by a final score of 59-57. The game could have been a lot more lopsided that it actually was as A&M jumped out to a 39-16 halftime lead and seemingly let off the gas in the second half, allowing Louisiana Tech to get back into the game.

The Texas A&M defense will certainly need to work on some things this week as they prepare for LSU after giving up 615 total yards of offense to Louisiana Tech. The fact that LSU seemingly cannot get its passing game going may be a blessing in disguise for the A&M defense, which allowed 450 yards passing last Saturday night.

While the defense for the Aggies has certainly struggled, the offense has been potent all season long. Texas A&M averages 47 points per game, which is good for fifth in the country. Playing in front of their electric home crowd this weekend should help the Aggies put some points on the board. The only question surrounding this game is will they be able to stop LSU while on defense.

Sep 252012

Many people betting on baseball latched onto a recent comment from the New York Yankees captain that he could envision himself playing elsewhere and, to be frank, it was taken out of context in answer to an indirect question.

What he was actually asked was about Peyton Manning going from Indianapolis to Denver, and the question, to put it in context, was: ‘if the organization doesn’t want you around anymore, do you still want to play?’

Jeter answered “You have no choice but to go to another team. I think it is common sense”. That answer created plenty of buzz on the Internet and landed Jeter up on the front page of the New York Daily News.

Despite his age, 38, Jeter is leading the majors this year in hits with 202 so far; he is in the second season of a three-year deal that includes a player option for 2014.

It would be quite something for Jeter to play for someone else, but he has clashed with the Yankees before, prior to the 2011 season. All was not sweetness and light then, with GM Brian, Cashman, challenging Jeter to test the market to see how he was valued throughout baseball, especially as Jeter was coming off a career-worst .270 season in 2010.

Despite Jeter’s success this season, the Yankees will be forced to weigh how much longer he will sustain his high level of play. They already have Alex Rodriguez, 37, signed for five more seasons after this one, which could create a very old left side of the infield, a fact that will no doubt permeate the minds of supporters betting MLB.

Jeter, who, in the past, has never referenced, in any context, the possibility of playing elsewhere, probably regrets the publicity that an innocent question created. On the back of being asked the question again, Jeter repeated his answer that he expects to be a Yankee for life and cannot see himself playing anywhere else.

It looks like Jeter will be around at the Yankees for a long time yet, even if journalists try to twist his answers to mean something different.

Sep 052012

Martell Webster believes he has the skills that can guide the Washington Wizards to success in the 2012-13 season.

The 25-year-old had been a free agent when he was released by the Minnesota Timberwolves in July before the Wizards offered the shooting guard a contract.

Webster spent a brief spell training with the rest of the squad before putting pen to paper, and admitted: “The atmosphere, right when I landed, was incredible.

“I think what I bring to the table, what we’re kind of lacking on the team is pure perimeter shooting and I think that I can contribute in a very positive way in that area.”

Webster has seven years of experience in the NBA, having spent five years with the Portland Trail Blazers before signing for Minnesota in 2010.

He missed most of the 2008-09 season with a foot injury, while his best display came against the Detroit Pistons in January 2010 when he scored 28 points. Webster averaged 6.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 47games, including 26 starts, last season for Minnesota.

During his career, he has averaged 8.4 points and 3.1 rebounds

After finishing 28th in three-point shooting last season, the Wizards have tried to improve their options in that part of their game by selecting Bradley Beal and retaining Cartier Martin so Webster will have plenty of competition for a starting spot. Supporters who cheer the team on at the Verizon Center as well as those who prefer to watch NBA online, are excited about what their side can achieve this season.

Washington endured a dismal 2011-12 season, winning only 20 of their 66 matches and finishing 14th in the Eastern Conference, way off the pace for a play-off spot.

Only Charlotte Bobcats, who had a 7-59 record, had a worse season in the Eastern Conference than the Wizards and punters who bet on NBA are hardly piling their money on them ahead of this campaign.

Washington open their 2012-13 season with a match against the Cleveland Cavaliers on 30th October.

Aug 282012

The Philadelphia Phillies were able to allow Roy Halladay a rare off-day as the team’s offence produced the goods to see off the Cincinnati Reds 12-5, with John Mayberry Jr. collecting a two-run homer, three hits, and three RBI’s.

Halladay was way off his best on his way to a 7-7 return, allowing five runs and 10 hits in seven innings.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner was thankful to an explosive batting line-up, however, with Mayberry, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Eric Kratz all weighing with two runs apiece, and Juan Pierre hitting three for three runs.

Domonic Brown was also in good touch, as he got his side off to a strong start with a two-run double off Mike Leake, a tally that no doubt delighted people betting MLB.

Halladay was relieved to have seen his offence make up for his mixed day at the office, praising the entire batting line-up for a stunning performance all round.

“It’s always kind of ironic; when you think you’re not catching breaks, we put up a bunch of runs,” Halladay said.

“That was one of our best offensive games of the year. From the standpoint, it seemed everybody was involved, and it wasn’t one or two guys; they were all outstanding.”

The victory took the Phillies record against the Reds to seven straight victories and 12 from 13.

While the Reds may see this as a chance wasted, due to Halladay’s disappointing performance from the mound, the fact is that this Phillies offence would have taken apart most NBA teams in the sort of form they found themselves in at the Citizens Bank Park.

Visit the Bet365 website for the latest MLB trade rumours, as well as the most accurate picks for Major and Minor League Baseball.

Aug 112012

Whilst Maria Shahrpova may have come away from the Olympics in London with a silver medal to show for her efforts, the nature of her defeat in the final could have severely damaged her confidence.

The 25-year-old Russian is, however, keen to use the experience to motivate her to succeed in the future.

Sharapova was dismantled in the Olympic Ladies’ singles final by Serena Williams, who was on inspired form but, despite the 6-0 6-1 defeat, she is confident that she can improve.

“If I sat here and thought there was nothing I could do, that would probably be very disappointing,” Sharapova said, ahead of her appearance at the Montreal Cup.

Williams’ victory was the heaviest defeat ever inflicted in the final of a ladies’ singles tournament, but Sharapova is keen to use the experience to drive her on in future tournaments.

“It will motivate me to keep going and keep practicing. There are certainly things I could have done better but she (Williams) was playing really good tennis,” she said.

Fortunately for Sharapova, she won’t have long to wait to make amends for her Olympic final defeat, as the US Open begins at Flushing Meadows on 27th August.

The Russian is 61/10 to win in New York, according to the US Open 2012 betting pages. She is likely to face stiff competition from Williams and Azarenka.

Despite winning the US Open in 2006, this tournament has not traditionally been a happy hunting ground for the Russian player, and she has failed to advance beyond the third round since taking the trophy home six years ago.

Sharapova, who was defeated in last year’s US Open by outsider, Flavia Pennetta, is currently ranked number two in the world and has shown improved form this year, reaching the final of the Australian Open and winning the French Open.

Despite her form in the early season, and her run to the final in the Olympics, it is hard to see Sharapova winning the US Open this year. A run into the quarter or semi-finals would come as no surprise though.

Visit the Betfair Tennis webpage for the latest odds for the US Open, as well as the ATP World Tour Finals.

Jul 302012

Maria Sharapova defeated Shahar Peer of Israel 6-2, 6-0 and claimed her Olympic debut win indoors. No. 3 Sharapova served well, returned aggressively and swept the final eight games, playing under Wimbledon’s retractable roof on Centre Court because of rain.

Last month, Sharapova completed a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open. After missing the 2008 Olympics because of a shoulder injury, this year, she carried the Russian flag in the Olympics’ opening ceremony.

A shock first round exit from the women’s singles was number two seed Agnieszka Radwanska. She crashed out 7-5 6-7 6-4 to world number 24 Julia Goerges. The game was played under the Centre Court roof due to sporadic heavy rain showers which prevented play on the outside courts for most of the afternoon.

Roger Federer recovered from a jittery stretch to beat Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. He failed to convert three match points in the second set. Federer is playing for the first time since he won a record-tying seventh Wimbledon title. Federer, a fourth-time Olympian, have yet to win an Olympic singles medal.

A 3½-hour rain delay made Novak Djokovic to wait and he paid a heavy price for losing the first two points, when his Olympic match resumed. The delay cost him the opening set against Fabio Fognini of Italy. Djokovic knew he needed to come out of the delay with a fast start on Wimbledon’s grass and the interruption came at 7-all in a tiebreaker. After falling behind, Djokovic quickly rallied and overtook Fognini 6-7 (7), 6-2, 6-2.

Fourth seed Murray made a strong start to his singles medal campaign with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Federer’s doubles partner Wawrinka. He is back on Centre Court three weeks to the day after losing the Wimbledon final against Federer. The win means Murray has already improved on his Olympic debut in Beijing where he suffered a first round singles defeat to Taiwan’s lowly ranked Lu Yen-hsun in straight sets. Murray with his brother Jamie was knocked out of the men’s doubles by Austria’s Alexander Peya and Juergen Melzer.

Somdev Devvarman bowed out of the men`s singles event with a straight-set defeat against Jarkko Nieminen, 3-6 1-6. He failed to provide cheers to the Indian camp at the London Olympics.

The Olympic Tennis – Mens Singles Outrights has odds – Roger Federer 13/8, Novak Djokovic 15/8, Andy Murray 5, Jo Wilfried Tsonga 18, David Ferrer 25.

The Olympic Tennis – Womens Singles Outrights has odds – Serena Williams 11/8, Maria Sharapova 4, Victoria Azarenka 6, Petra Kvitova 7, Kim Clijsters 22.

Jun 202012

New Swansea boss, Michael Laudrup, has big shoes to fill, as he looks to follow the up the success Brendan Rodgers had at the Welsh club, before moving to Liverpool, this summer.

The Swans enjoyed a maiden season in the Premier League, in which they finished 11th, despite being one of the favourites to be relegated back to the Championship, at the start of the campaign.

Rodgers style of football at the Liberty Stadium earned plaudits from a whole host of pundits and opposing managers, praise that resulted in the Merseyside club securing his services, following the sacking of Kenny Dalglish.

The new man at Swansea, Laudrup, was not short of success as a player, winning league titles in Spain, Italy, and Holland.

He’s not quite replicated that joy as a manager just yet, but he did start his career off well by winning the league and cup double at Brondby, in his first appointment as a club manager.

Since then, he has had spells with both Getafe and Mallorca, with the latter being his most recent. He resigned after keeping them in the top flight in Spain.

Laudrup has promised to try to maintain the style of football Rodgers brought to the club. The Dane is a keen advocate of attractive attacking football, which is what led to his installment as the number target of the Welsh club.

The Swans will start their new campaign against QPR at Loftus Road. Former boss, Rodgers, will return to his former club, when he brings his Liverpool side to the Liberty Stadium on November 24, while the return fixture at Anfield is on February 23.

Pick up the Paddy Power mobile gaming app, while you wait for the new Premier League season to begin, and win money while you are out and about, this summer. Visit http://paddypowerapp.com

Jun 142012

Andy Murray has enjoyed the best year of his career, but he is feeling as pessimistic as he ever has done.

In 2011, he became the seventh man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals of all four Slams, and won five tour titles, including two Masters 1000 events.

His defeats in the two Majors of 2012, so far, suggest a maiden Slam is beyond his grasp. Murray’s fans on the Betfair Wimbledon website have a rather more positive outlook, however.

The ‘Big Three’, namely, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer, three men who have defined the current era, and repeatedly blocked the Scot’s path to major glory, must feel as out of reach as ever.

He has had notable wins over all of them, but has struggled to do it in Majors. The Herculean effort exerted in a five-seat defeat to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-final, earlier this year, might mean he has accepted (in private) that his best will never be good enough.

It has been suggested that Murray should re-evaluate his goals. Obsessing over a maiden Slam can be counter-productive and, as hard as it might be, attempting to stay the best of the rest, by winning as many other titles as possible, might help him relax in the big matches against his rivals.

Murray is a year younger than Rafael Nadal, and a week older than Djokovic, so the prospect of out-lasting these big guns for too long is unlikely.

It seems odd for the clock to be ticking on a career at the age of 25, but it is possible that Murray is at his peak, with chances of a first slam win running out.

He has plenty of time to achieve a lot in his career and, if he continues to prepare for majors in the best way possible, and start them trying to go as far as he can without feeling the pressure of needing to win it, he might just be able to capitalise on rare slip-ups by his rivals.

This year’s Wimbledon, where Murray will be ranked 9/1 (or fourth favourite) for the title in the tennis betting, is the ideal opportunity to do just that.

May 162012

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech believes Bayern Munich go into the Champions League final as favourites but insists the Blues are comfortable with their underdog status.

The Champions League Betting certainly reflects Cech’s thinking, with Bayern highly fancied to win the title for a fifth time, with the fact they are playing on home turf a deciding factor.

But being the underdog is something Chelsea are used to given their dramatic run to the final has seen them battle against the odds at every turn.

None more so that in the semi-final, when they overcame holders Barcelona with a spirited rearguard display in the second leg at the Nou Camp.

“It’s a final and you would think that the chances are 50-50, but to play at your own stadium and have your own dressing room is a huge advantage,” said Cech.

“This coincidence of events has made Bayern the favourites. We will try to outsmart them in some way.

“They are the favourites as they play at home but the pressure is bigger on them than it is on us.

“That might be to our advantage, it might be a disadvantage. We will have to wait and see how the match goes.”

Another factor that could tip the balance in Bayern’s favour is the number of injuries and suspensions Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has to deal with.

John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires will all sit out the final through suspension, while Gary Cahill and David Luiz are battling hamstring injuries.

Their German opponents have suspensions of their own – Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and Luiz Gustavo – are all unavailable. But they are not as crucial to the way they play as the likes of Terry and Ramires are to Chelsea.

If Bayern play to their potential then they are likely to prevail. But Chelsea have developed a resilient streak in recent months and a momentum crucial to achieving success at this time of the season.

They would be quite happy to concede possession to their Bundesliga opponents, but like they showed against Barca, they can be ruthlessly efficient when they do have the ball.

With the European Championships on the horizon don’t forget to use your Betfair Euro 2012 Free Bet on your tip for glory in Poland and the Ukraine.