I've made no secret about my feelings for White Sox manager Tony La Russa, but I'm also sensible enough to know that when a team isn't playing well, it's more about the players than any coach or manager.
But then Thursday happened. That's when La Russa decided to intentionally walk Trea Turner on a 1-2 count. The count had been 0-2 when Freddie Freeman stole second to open first, and La Russa thought that he'd rather have his lefty reliever Bennett Sousa face the struggling lefty Max Muncy than Turner, whom Sousa had already gotten to two strikes on.
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It was a decision that had no logical or statistical support. Even the idea of going lefty on lefty is meaningless when you consider Muncy hits lefties better than Trea Turner hits anybody with two strikes, and, oh yeah, lefties have fared better against Bennett Sousa than righties. As you've no doubt heard, Muncy hit a three-run homer, the White Sox lost by two runs (those three runs were significant!), and.
Now, I'm done. It's one thing to watch a team underperform; it's another to watch it underperform when you have no faith in the person who is supposed to be steering the ship. Every day the White Sox don't fire Tony La Russa is an insult to the team's fans and a message from ownership that they don't matter.
You matter to me though, so I'd appreciate if you didn't rub salt in the wound and read these stories.
- DC's 'extremely hurtful' comments about Jan. 6
Now let's find things to bet on to distract me from a baseball team that's making me miserable.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
The Hot Ticket
- Key Trend: Boston's covered the last four meetings in Boston.
- The Pick: Celtics (-170)
If you were hoping for something different here today. The only thing that's changed is we should be more confident in the Celtics than we already are. None of which is to say that tonight's outcome is written in stone. The Warriors, fading star that they are, still have Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. If those two decide to have One Of Those Nights, there's nothing any team in the NBA can do, even one with a defense as strong as Boston's.
Plus, there is a worrisome trend with this Boston team in the postseason. The Celtics have won 14 games in the playoffs, but since sweeping the Nets in the first round, they've gone 3-6 following wins.
Still, Boston is the better team -- especially at home. Golden State was only 25-24 on the road during the regular season, and it's only 3-5 on the road in the playoffs. The Warriors aren't the same team outside The Bay that they are inside it. Tonight the Celtics push them to the brink.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you're looking for more in this game, SportsLine's Ameer Tyree has released his favorite picks for the spread, total and a player prop as well.
Brewers at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Nationals (+160) -- I would like to share a snippet of an email I received from a reader named Justin. Don't worry, Justin permitted me to share it here. I've edited it a little, because some of the language used wasn't meant for a family newsletter such as this.
"You've recommended betting on the Nationals a few times this season and as a Nationals fan, I'm here to tell you that you need to stop. They're terrible. They can't hit, they can't pitch, and they can't catch. In the rare instances they manage to do one of those three things they get worse at the other two. I can barely stand to watch them, let alone bet them, so please stop telling me to."
Sorry, Justin! The fact they're so bad is what makes them a good value because nobody thinks they're capable of winning any game, yet at the end of the season, they'll win roughly 40% of them! Perhaps one of those wins will be tonight!
Key Trend: The Brewers have lost seven straight as favorites.
Dodgers at Giants, 10:15 p.m. | TV: ESPN+
The Pick: Under 9 (-120) -- I love late nights watching the Dodgers and Giants. It's a great rivalry that often leads to entertaining games. Tonight should be no different, but I don't expect too many runs to be scored. First, Tony La Russa isn't around to intentionally walk Dodgers hitters when they're on the verge of striking out. Secondly, this is an excellent pitching matchup.
Most people are familiar with Walker Buehler, but San Francisco's Jake Junis isn't a household name. Junis was with the Royals for a while and showed flashes, but was inconsistent. He is now the latest San Francisco reclamation project, as he's posted a 2.51 ERA over 43 innings this year. While his strikeout rate is average, he doesn't walk anybody and induces ground balls. He's pitched a lot like Buehler this year, and when you combine their profiles with Oracle Park at night, we should see a low-scoring affair.
Key Trend: The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in San Francisco.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model has an A-graded play on the money line in tonight's game between the Phillies and Diamondbacks, and as if that wasn't enough, SportsLine experts Matt Severance and John Bollman are in agreement.
WNBA Underdog Parlay
Like my NHL bets, my WNBA bets are nothing more than numbers plays, and there it's hard to find better money line values in sports betting than the ones you get on WNBA underdogs. Let's try to cash in with two tonight in a parlay that pays +530.
- Indiana Fever (+110)
- Dallas Wings (+200)