Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, July 22, 2016 at 10:22 AM
BASEBALL'S BEST WEEKEND SHOWDOWNS AS DODGERS, CARDINALS, INDIANS-O'S AND GIANTS-YANKS TAKE CENTER STAGE ON THE DIAMOND
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK EXAMINES THE DEFENDING CHAMPS AND WHAT LIES AHEAD IN '16 SEASON
How did that classic Mungo Jerry tune used to go? Oh, yeah:
"In the summertime when the weather is hot You can stretch right up and touch the sky ..."
Well, there's a batch of Major-League Baseball teams trying to "touch the sky" this summertime but be sure that no divisional race is locked up just yet even though the likes of the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers were playing absolutely out-of-their-mind ball earlier this year.
So, on this very summery weekend - the East Coast temps could come close to hitting the century mark, we hear - there's some great series that we'll be following and here's Dodgers-Cardinals, Indians-Orioles and Giants-Yankees ... enjoy and good luck!
LOS ANGELES DODGERS at ST. LOUIS - Fri, Sat & Sun Nite (ESPN)
The news outta Dodgers-world this past week wasn't good as reports claim ace LHP Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 1.79 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP) suffered a "setback" in his attempt to rebound from a back injury and now in-the-know folks claim he won't be pitching till early/mid-August at the earliest. The Dodgers are 14-2 in Kershaw's starts this season; they're 38-40 when he doesn't start but it's not as if the Cardinals have been getting earth-shaking performances on the mound either with a team ERA of 3.81 (only sixth-best in the NL).
CLEVELAND at BALTIMORE - Fri, Sat & Sun
Gotta get things started here by mentioning the fact Buck Showalter's Orioles are an electric 16-6 versus the AL Central this year but will the league's most potent home-run attack (see 142 dingers this year) make a big splash against this Indians rotation that's hoping one-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber is A-OK after removing himself in the seventh inning of this past Monday's eventual 7-3 loss to Kansas City (when the Tribe bullpen imploded once again!)? It wasn't a fun week in NYC for the Birds with lots of losses and Showalter sick ... but the Birds are 33-14 at Camden Yards.
SAN FRANCISCO at NEW YORK YANKEES - Fri, Sat & Sun
In case you're wondering, the Yankees have beaten the Giants five times in seven tries when it comes to World Series' past - the latest was way, way back in 1962 - while the Bombers hold a slim 5-4 series lead in regular-season play ever since Interleague play was initiated back in 1997, so it's not like these one-time New York City neighbors have much of a "history" in our lifetime. There is one item that's significant here as former Yankees' star Dave Righetti is the long-time pitching coach of the Giants but do you think he'll get SF lefties to slow down SS Didi Gregorius who leads MLB in batting average against southpaw slingers ... betcha didn't know that! It's LHP Madison Bumgarner (see 0.98 WHIP) to the mound in the opener on this sultry Friday night but we're sure this former World Series hero is bummin' that he's not gonna bat with the DH and all. Unless manager Bruce Bochy gives in to "Mad Bum's" wishes again, eh?
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday and Sunday. Plus, the Football Season isn't far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear on Sunday, August 7th with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Indianapolis Colts versus the Green Bay Packers.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
Okay, so here's something that you may - or may not - find interesting when it comes to the Alabama Crimson Tide:
The Tuscaloosa team has won four national championships under 10th-year head coach Nick Saban - see the 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015 seasons - and the Tide's racked up a cumulative pointspread record of 33-20 (a .623 winning rate) in these four title-winning seasons.
In the other years that Saban has coach 'Bama and the team has NOT won the national championship, the Crimson Tide's a collective 31-31-1 (.a .500 winning rate).
Okay, so this may fall under the category of the "chicken" or the "egg" ... does Alabama win the national championship when it's having an exceptionally good year spreadwise or does the fact 'Bama has a .500-type spread mark during the season spell out a non-title season?
We'll let you decide there but here's some quick-hitter thoughts about Alabama's 2-16 schedule (home teams in CAPS below):
|9-3||USC||Bama a 10-pt fav in Cowboys Classic|
|9-10||W. Kentucky||Tide may have to score 50 points to cover|
|9-17||OLE MISS||Rebels have won two in a row vs. Alabama|
|9-24||Kent State||Minor tune-up before SEC sked rolls in|
|10-1||Kentucky||Tide ground game will be heating up by now|
|10-8||ARKANSAS||Hogs have given 'em fits lately|
|10-15||TENNESSEE||Are these Vols finally "for real"?|
|10-22||Texas A&M||Wouldn't expect a letdown here, ok|
|11-5||LSU||Game of the Year in SEC ... and whole country|
|11-12||Miss State||Now this could be a letdown spot for the Sabans|
|11-19||Chattanooga||The usual late-year non-SEC scrimmage|
|11-26||Auburn||Note Tigers have won 2 of last 5 at 'Bama|
One final note on Alabama - which figures to be the consensus choice to be #1 at the start of this 2016 season - is that the Crimson Tide's sparkled with an 8-1 ATS mark in season-opening games in the Saban Era and that includes covers against "name" opponents such as Wisconsin, Virginia Tech (twice), Michigan and Clemson.
NOTE: Catch our Jim Sez Weekend column tomorrow with more MLB News/Notes plus Football too!