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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Temper Temper: Sports Tantrums of Summer

Summer has come to an end.  But, before we pack up the lawn chairs and dig the sweaters out of the attic, let's take a look back at some of hottest meltdowns in sports this summer.

1.  Going Postal.  Delivering the mail is serious business, and this mail carrier in France did not take kindly to interference with his appointed rounds.  The Tour de France spans almost all of July, but by July 5, 2015, this mailman had already had all he could stand.

2.  Manager Meltdown.  Alaska is not widely known for its heated baseball rivalries, but in mid July, the Peninsula Oilers and the Anchorage Bucs dropped the gloves and went at it.  Baseball fights usually have a lot of milling around and "hold me back" moments, but not this fight.  This fight has a few haymakers.  The reason this is so unique, though, is because the haymakers are thrown by the managers.

3.  No One But Myself to Blame.  I appreciate it when highly paid athletes hold themselves to high standards.  But, I'm not sure that destroying equipment after lining out in a baseball game in July actually helps your club.  Nonetheless, that's how Andre Ethier expressed his frustrations in a game against Oakland on July 28.  The Dodgers did go on to win the NL West, so, in hindsight, maybe this was a bit overboard.

4.  Splish Splash.  As Mark Twain once quipped, "Golf is a good walk spoiled."  On August 14, 2015, John Daly would surely have agree.  After putting three straight shots into the drink during the second round of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Daly decided that his club should join the balls in Lake Michigan.  In my opinion, he should have ditched the pants before he ditched the club.

5.  Dirty Mormons.  When most people think of BYU sports, they think of players missing seasons to do mission work or players risking suspension from for having a few beers.  Aside from maybe Jim McMahon, the BYU Cougars athletics programs have maintained a squeaky clean image.  The BYU football team might still be behaving themselves off the field, but, over the last couple seasons, they are starting to raise a few eye brows on the field.  Last season ended with a brawl in the Miami Beach Bowl.  Then in a September game against Boise State, this happened.  No further commentary is needed.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 4

Discretion or cowardice?
The Tuffy Teaser hit again in Week 3.  That brings the season record to 2-1.  Based on a $5 per week wager, that brings the bankroll to + $11 for the year.

But, as Shakespeare taught us, "Discretion is the better part of valor."  Although he did not attend school, Tuffy learned that lesson well.  Tuffy also reads the "responsible gaming" warnings at the bottom of gambling websites.  The secret to gambling success is to resist the urge to place a wager when you don't have conviction behind your bet.

The rules for the Tuffy Teaser are that the only teams that can be picked are teams with cat mascots.  I toyed with taking Memphis -4 at home against Cincinnati on Thursday night, Arizona +10 at home against UCLA on Saturday night and Missouri +9 on the road at Kentucky on Saturday night.  But, I didn't have a strong conviction on any of those games.

As a result, there will be no Tuffy Teaser for Week 4.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Chase is On

The Chase is on for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.  Sixteen teams start the Chase with a chance to win the title.  After ten races, a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion will be crowned.

Rules and Regulations.  Before we get to predictions, let's go over the nuts and bolts.  Sixteen drivers qualified for NASCAR's version of the playoffs.  Drivers who won a race automatically qualified for the Chase.  This year, eleven different drivers won a race.  The remaining five spots in the field of sixteen were determined by points.

For those sixteen drivers, the points standings were compressed.  The teams that won the most races start tied at the top of the standings.  With each decreasing win, there is a three-point deficit.  The total spread between the leaders and the teams in 16th place is twelve points.  That is equivalent to twelve places on the race track in any given race.

The Chase consists of four rounds.  The first three rounds consist of three races each.  At the end of each round four teams are eliminated.  That leaves four drivers eligible to win the championship at the final race of the year in Homestead, FL.  Whoever has the best finish in that race is the Sprint Cup Champion.

Gordon's Last Ride.  The last meaningful race in Jeff Gordon's illustrious career will be at Dover on October 4.  Jeff Gordon belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of NASCAR, but his final season will have an anti-climactic ending.  Gordon did not win a race all season and starts the Chase in the 13th position. There is no reason to expect a change in performance in the next three races.  Gordon will be eliminated from the Chase when the first cuts are made at the Monster Mile.

Surprise Run.  Clint Bowyer barely qualified for the Chase, but he basically gets to start over now.  With the standings are compressed, I predict that Bowyer will make it all the way to the round of eight.  With demise of Michael Waltrip Racing, Bowyer has the extra motivation of racing for a new job.  Bowyer also has a strong history at Talladega, the last race before the field is trimmed to eight.

Final Four.  The regular season in NASCAR is long enough and varied enough to truly allow the cream to rise to the top.  Therefore, my prediction for the final four does not contain too many surprises.  It does contain some variety, though.  I am picking four different race teams that consist of two Chevys, a Ford and a Toyota.  My picks are:  Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)
And the Winner Is ... Kyle Busch.  Busch began the season with a brutal accident in the XFinity race at Daytona.  The broken leg that Busch suffered in that wreck caused him to miss the first eleven races of the Sprint Cup season.  When Busch returned to the track in late May, he put together a stunning string of races.  In just fifteen starts, Kyle Busch notched nine top ten finishes, six top five finishes and four wins.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Busch starts the Chase tied for the lead despite starting eleven fewer races than the competition.  Busch, a new dad as of this summer, has demonstrated a new level of patience and maturity during this season.  Despite the scary start, Kyle Busch will finish off this season by winning his first championship.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 3

The second week of the college football season turned out to be unexpectedly scintillating.  I particularly enjoyed it because the Tuffy Teaser was a winner in Week 2.  That brings the record to 1-1 and the running bank roll for the Tuffy Teaser to + $3 on the season.

Tuffy was sleeping better after his teaser came through in Week 2.
Before we get to the picks, here is a reminder about the parameters for the Tuffy Teaser.  These are college football picks.  The point spreads for this column come from  The bet is $5 and involves three teams.  The point spreads are teased by six points, and, in honor of my Tuffy cat, the only teams eligible for the teaser are teams with cat mascots.

Now, on to the picks.

Thursday, September 17.  7:30 p.m. EST

Clemson Tigers            - .5
Louisville Cardinals     + 12.5

In the season opener, Louisville played Auburn at a neutral site and lost by a touchdown.  Last week, Jacksonville State pushed Auburn to overtime at Auburn.  Meanwhile, Louisville lost to Houston in their home opener.  All that tells me that Louisville is not very good.  With the six-point tease, this becomes a virtual pick 'em game for Clemson.  I'll take the Tigers.

Saturday, September 19.  12:30 p.m. EST

Northwestern Wildcats     + 9.5
Duke Blue Devils                + 2.5

The Duke Blue Devils have put a lot of points on the board in the first two weeks of the season.  But, those points were scored against the likes of Tulane and North Carolina Central.  No offense to those teams, but Northwestern is a different caliber.  The Wildcat defense held the highly hyped Stanford offense to just six points in the season opener.  The Blue Devils very well might win this game, but they will not win by ten points.

Saturday, September 19.  3:30 p.m. EST

Auburn Tigers     + 13
LSU Tigers          - 1

This game is the best teaser pick of the weekend.  And that is not limited to teasers involving only teams with cat mascots.  After the six-point tease, LSU is darn close to a pick 'em at home.  As we just discussed, this is an Auburn team that needed a comeback and overtime to get past Jacksonville State last week.  And that was on their home turf.  That does not exactly instill a lot of confidence in Auburn's ability to hang with LSU in Baton Rouge.  LSU will easily cover the one-point spread.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 2

The lesson to be learned from Week One is that gambling is hard ... and confusing.  When Penn State was teased to -.5, that seemed to be a mortal lock.  Not so.  The Temple Owls beat down the Nittany Lions and derailed the Tuffy Teaser.  So, if you are keeping track at home, the running total has Wild Banshee down $5.  But even in a cat based column, there is no use crying over spilled milk.  So, it's on to the Tuffy Teaser: Week 2.

Tuffy is adjusting his strategy for Week 2
Saturday, September 12.  12:00 p.m. EST

Kansas State Wildcats                 - 8.5
UT San Antonio Road Runners     + 20.5

This game really is being played at UTSA.  Nonetheless, a Power 5 team with a history like Kansas State ought to be able to stretch this out to a 10-point margin by game's end.

Saturday, September 12.  12:30 p.m. EST

Appalachian State Mountaineers     + 24
Clemson Tigers                               - 12

After Appy State put together one of the most surprising upsets in the history of college football when they defeated Michigan in 2007, the Mountaineers don't get to sneak up on the big boys anymore.  This game isn't high profile enough for the famed Clemsoning to set in, so I expect the Tigers to take care of business and win by a large margin.

Saturday, September 12.  7:00 p.m. EST

Missouri Tigers                       - 4.5
Arkansas State Red Wolves     + 16.5

Arkansas State is sort of a fun story, and Missouri didn't really test itself in Week 1 by trouncing the Southeast Missouri Redhawks.  Ultimately, this pick comes down to reputation and conference prestige.  Even on the road, a consistently competitive SEC program ought to be able win by a touchdown ... or at least 5 points.

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2015 NFL Preseason Preview

A new NFL season is about to begin.  That means it is time for the Banshee Sports 2015 NFL Preseason Preview.

For the past two years, I put together a meticulous, mathematical evaluation.  That technique only resulted in five correct playoff picks in 2013 and six correct picks in 2014.  I had better results in 2012, so for the 2015 NFL season, I am returning to a preseason prediction column based on gut feelings and eye tests.

AFC East:  Few things are guaranteed in this world.  Among those are: death, taxes and the Patriots winning the AFC East.  So, let's move along to the real questions in the division.  Will a wildcard come out of the East?  If so, who will it be?  The Miami Dolphins are getting a lot of sleeper love from the experts, but I predict that the Buffalo Bills will finish second in this division and make the playoffs as a wild card.  Sure, the Bills have issues at quarterback, but that didn't stop Rex Ryan during his successful years with the Jets.  Division Winner: New England Patriots     Wild Card: Buffalo Bills

AFC North:  For the better part of a decade, the Ravens have ranged between very good and pretty good.  This year, I believe the Ravens will be very good.  Good enough to win the division.  The Bengals will be respectable, but will take a step back from the success they enjoyed over the past few years.  It might take the Steelers a few weeks to overcome suspensions and adjust to injuries, but by season's end, the the Steelers' offense will be good enough to earn a wild card.  Division Winner: Baltimore Ravens    Wild Card: Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South:  The Indianapolis Colts are a media darling to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50.  I'm not ready to get that excited just yet, but I do believe that the Colts will win the AFC South.  The Titans and the the Jaguars will be tough opponents every week, but they are still works in progress.   The Texans were pretty decent in 2014, and they should have a stout defense.  But, with the departure of Andre Johnson and the constant injuries that plague Arian Foster, the Texans will fall short of the playoffs again this season.  Division Winner: Indianapolis Colts

AFC West:  Up until now, these picks have been pretty plain Jane vanilla.  Now is the time for a little shakeup.  The Denver Broncos are the Vegas favorite to win the division yet again, but I am picking the Kansas City Chiefs to unseat the Broncos this year.  I have faith in the combination of Andy Reid and Jamal Charles, regardless of who the quarterback happens to be.  If healthy, the KC defense is also a formidable force.  It is hard to pick against Peyton Manning, but in this case, I am not picking against Manning.  I am picking against a decimated offensive line, a diminished receiving corps and a mediocre defense.  All those factors will lead to a winning season that ends with the Broncos watching the playoffs from their couches at home.  Division Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

NFC East:  It goes against every fiber in my body, but after last season, I have to believe in the Dallas Cowboys.  The Cowboys will not only win the division, but they will challenge for the best record in the NFC.  Demarco Murray left, but the offensive line remains.  If we have learned one thing over the last five years in the NFL, it is that you can plug in any running back behind a solid line and there will be success.  The Cowboys will also benefit from the struggles of their division rivals.  The Redskins are poised to be truly horrible, and the Giants will be totally mediocre.  The Eagles are evidently banking on addition by subtraction leading to increased success this season.  I don't see it that way.  Division Winner: Dallas Cowboys

NFC North:  The NFC North is probably the best division in the conference.  Aside from the Bears, this is a loaded division.  The Green Bay Packers took a hit with Jordy Nelson's season-ending injury, but they are still the Packers.  The Green Bay offense still has Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy.  The Packers will win the division.  The real question is who will be able to snag a wild card.  My answer is the Vikings and the Lions.  That's right.  I predict that the NFC North will take half of the NFC's playoff berths.  Division Winner: Green Bay Packers     Wild Card: Minnesota Vikings     Wild Card: Detroit Lions

NFC South:  The NFC South is a bizarre and crazy division.  Teams rise and fall at precipitous rates from one season to another.  Picking this division feels a lot like throwing darts while blindfolded and riding a tilt-a-whirl.  My shot in the dark in this division is the Atlanta Falcons.  I have believe that the new coaching staff in Atlanta will be able to rekindle some of that Matty Ice magic.  Really though, I have more faith that the other teams in the division will be lousy.  Division Winner: Atlanta Falcons

NFC West:  If I had to bet my house on one division winner this year, I would pick the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West.  For several years, the pre-season debate was between the Seahawks and the 49ers.  But, San Francisco's offseason smelled worse than a tire fire.  The Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams both have solid teams.  They will be in the running for wild card berths right down to the final weeks of the season, but both of these teams have fatal flaws that will ultimately hold them back.  I predict that the Seahawks will win the NFC West and no other team will make the playoffs.  Division Winner: Seattle Seahawks

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 1

Banshee Sports has been in hibernation mode for most of the summer.  During that hiatus, I changed careers.  I am no longer employed by the Commonwealth of Virginia as a prosecuting attorney.  I am now a founding partner in the law firm of Wetzel and Washburn, PLLC.

Football is serious business for Tuffy.
With that new job came new freedoms.  Namely, the freedom to dabble in the wagering arts.  That freedom has given birth to a brand new column:  The Tuffy Teaser.

Each week, I will recommend a three-team, six-point teaser for the weekend slate of college football games.  The lines are based on what is posted at the free "gambling" site of  In honor of my beloved Tuffy cat, the only teams eligible for the weekly teaser are teams with a cat mascot.

Without further ado, I present The Tuffy Teaser: Week One.

Saturday, September 5.  12:00 p.m. EST

Stanford Cardinal                 -6
Northwestern Wildcats     +18

Experienced NFL bettors know that it is always trouble when west coast teams travel east for an early kickoff time.  This rarely happens in college football due to orchestrated non-conference scheduling.  In this season opener, the Stanford Cardinal will be opening on the road in what amounts to a 10:00 a.m. kickoff on their body clocks.  I am not predicting that this game will actually be in doubt at any point, but when teased to 18 points, the Northwestern Wildcats are a strong pick on their home turf.

Saturday, September 5.  3:30 p.m. EST

Penn State Nittany Lions     -  .5
Temple Owls                          + 12.5

Penn State has been a bit of a wildcard for several years.  The Nittany Lions have struggled with bad teams and have risen to the occasion against good teams.  But, 2015 is the dawn of a new era at Penn State.  Although they are not back to full strength in terms of depth, James Franklin's group is more talented than the Temple Owls.  In theory, this is a home game for Temple.  But in reality, the Linc will feel more like Happy Valley East when the crowd comes to life.  With a six-point tease, this game essentially becomes a pick-em.  Pick the Nittany Lions.

Saturday, September 5.  3:30 p.m. EST

Louisville Cardinals     + 16.5
Auburn Tigers             - 4.5

Sure, the SEC's image took a bit of a hit during last year's bowl games.  But, the SEC is still deeper and better than the ACC.  Many experts are predicting Auburn to be in contention for the conference championship and maybe even the national title.  Louisville, on the other hand, is expected to be a middle of the pack team in the ACC.  This game is going to be played in front of a hungry Auburn crowd.  I expect the Tigers to feast on the Cardinals.

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