Tuley's Takes on an imperfect world

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It’s been a hectic spring in the Tuley’s Takes home office, and it’s not going to slow down as we’re wrapping up the NBA and NHL regular seasons this next week and getting ready for the playoffs. Plus, we have the NFL schedule coming out Wednesday (I’ll do my annual early look at Week 1 lines on VSiN.com as soon as those are posted) as well as the baseball season rolling on, where we hope the underdogs keep barking as they have been so far this season.

Oh, and we have the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown on Saturday with the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Horse racing usually gets a boost in publicity this time of year as everyone tries to figure out if the Kentucky Derby winner will be able to sweep the Triple Crown.

Of course, the narrative for this week changed on Sunday morning when trainer Bob Baffert announced that Medina Spirit had tested positive for the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone. The backlash was far and wide in regard to whether Baffert is the greatest trainer of all time because of his record seven Derby wins or a cheater. The integrity of horse racing in general has been called into question, with criticism of the drug testing protocols on both extremes. Some say any violation calls for suspension while others say the rules are too strict now for anyone to follow.

I’m not a pharmacist or a lawyer, so I’m content to let everything run its due course (and due process). I’m a gambler and a sports betting writer, so my focus is on the betting implications. Of course, the biggest complaints have been coming from those who bet Derby runner-up Mandaloun and feel they should get paid. I’ve spent a lot of time this week telling people they’re out of luck because the results become official for wagering purposes on race day and that’s not going to change even if the Kentucky Racing Commission ultimately disqualifies Medina Spirit and declares Mandaloun the winner.

Most of the complaints have come from novice bettors, especially people who only venture into horse racing at Derby time. Longtime gamblers know that this happens in other sports when championships are vacated after the fact. It’s always been that way. The bookies pay out winning tickets on a given day or after a season and they’re not about to then also pay those who had the “rightful” winner, especially since they’re not able to recoup the money from the initial payouts. Now, some people are arguing that that needs to change. I agree that it’s a noble concept, and maybe that will be the case someday when all bets are done electronically and can be reversed more easily, but that’s the world we live in now.

The more frustrating thing I’ve been hearing lately is all the people who say we should boycott horse racing because of all the cheating and/or unfair gambling outcomes. I understand the frustration, but I don’t believe any of us are going to do that. And I saw this from experience as we’ve heard similar boycotts discussed over the years across the sports landscape.

Did anyone stop betting on the NFL after “Spygate” and “Deflategate”? Same thing with players kneeling during the national anthem?

What about all the steroid scandals in baseball? And the Astros’ cheating scandal?

College sports have had a ton of game-fixing cases, and then Louisville was forced to vacate 123 regular-season and NCAA men’s basketball tournament wins from 2011 to 2015, including the 2013 national title. Has anyone stopped betting on college basketball?

How about the Tim Donaghy scandal in the NBA?

And let’s not even get into all the controversial judging decisions in boxing and MMA, yet we all can’t wait to bet the next big fight.

I know it sucks when these things happen, but despite there being a lot of these examples, they’re still a small percentage of all the games being played. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So, after all the dust has settled, I’ll still be handicapping the Preakness and posting my plays in my “Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes” column Friday on VSiN.com. We might need to factor which trainers are cheating into our handicapping, but how is that different from any other sport? Are any batters using steroids or pitchers scuffing the ball? Are there college football and basketball coaches bending the rules?

We handicap our best and trust we’ll be on the right side more often than not.

Takes on NFL schedule

As mentioned above, we’ll give our takes on the NFL Week 1 schedule when it comes out. For years, the Westgate SuperBook has been the first to post the opening lines within a few hours of the schedule release with other books following soon after. Speaking of the Westgate, we’ll also provide updates in the coming weeks on SuperContest sign-ups as well as the Circa Sports Million and Survivor contests.

Some books have released season Over/Under win totals since we know which teams everyone is playing, including the newly added 17th regular-season game. I haven’t gotten involved with those yet as I’m waiting for more books to post them after we get the full schedules.

It’s a little odd trying to set my own numbers for all the teams. We all know about the 17th game, so while I have a few teams that I’m high on this season (Colts, Cardinals, Falcons, which I wrote about in earlier Point Spread Weekly columns, and I will look at the Overs), I’m mostly looking for teams to bet Under as I feel the oddsmakers are shading the numbers higher with that added game, plus I believe the public will be betting Overs even more than usual because their minds are still thinking about what it takes to be a eight-win team, nine-win team, etc. and thinking “I have an extra game now to go Over.”

We’ll also break down those wagers in the coming weeks and months.

Happy handicapping.

 

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