Reading in-between Baseball Odds

People tend to think that winning a bet is all about luck. However, this is not true but knowing clues about the game and the team you are betting on plays a vital role to the outcomes. Others think that baseball is not the best game to place a bet on since all games are played on weekdays unlike football that comes over the weekends. However, what they forget is that baseball comprises of 162 games in every season hence providing a variety to choose from. The following are the basics that may help maximize your Paddy Power baseball odds.

How do the Pitchers make your odds better?

Other teams have team matchups and mostly player matchups but baseball has pitchers and batters. In any case, a wager should consider the people pitching or batting before making any bet. Of the five pitchers, a player should have a clue who pitched in the last game and who is fit enough to pitch. This influences the team’s odds and at the same time, it gives you a clue that even the weaker teams can emerge victors by having their best pitcher on centre stage. It is also advisable for a bettor to have done a thorough analysis on who is starting to pitch. If the one who had bet with as the pitcher is changed, there is room for changing the bet too.

Lefty/Righty Matchups

If a player is not good with a left opponent, another player should switch him from his team who is good in that position. A batter who is left handed will perform poorly when playing against a left-handed pitcher. Before making a bet, make sure that the left-handed batter is on the bench.

Will the stadium make my odds better?

In baseball, the measurements of stadiums also have adverse effects when it comes to betting. The space between the wall and the plate may vary and this plays a major role with regards to the players’ performance. For instance, the Yankee stadium has a smaller distance between the two sections unlike the Fenway Park that has a much longer distance.

Player Statistics

Every win broadcasted by media on pitchers and RBIs for hitters do not actually symbolize individual player’s statistics. A bettor should go deeper and analyze the player who pitched more times or who had more RBIs for hitters.

Taking the statistics of each individual, as well as, using the above basics and be sure to have better baseball odds before placing your bet.

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There Will Always Be Questions For Pineda

Michael Pineda looked like the answer for the Yankees.

After dominating the Cubs last week, it made sense that the Yankees were excited to have both Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka at the top of the lineup.

But then the Pine Tar incident happened.

Pineda came out in the second inning of last night’s game against the Red Sox with pine tar clearly on his neck. When the Red Sox complained, he was examined and then tossed out of the game.

“It was cold and I didn’t want to hit anybody,’’ said Pineda, who gave up four hits and two runs in the first inning without the pine tar stuck to his neck. “I wanted to feel good and make good pitches. I didn’t feel the ball and I didn’t want to hit anybody.’’

Excuses. Excuses.

Does everyone use pine tar when it’s cold? No. Of course not. You probably can find some sports books, especially that would put odds on it.

Two weeks ago, he was caught on camera with it on his hand. The Sox said nothing. And then last night happened.

You have to wonder if this is standard operating procedure for Pineda, who spent his first two seasons as a Yankee on the disabled list after being acquired by the Mariners.

“We, as a group, are embarrassed this took place,’’ general manager Cashman said. “Obviously, we will deal with the ramifications. I would want my manager to do what John Farrell did. Obviously this is a terrible situation. We all have ownership.’’

Pineda will be suspended at least for one start, maybe two. But there may be future ramifications as well.

He will now be branded as a cheater, who forever be questioned if there’s a good outing, especially if it’s cold.

And if the Yankees make the post-season, will that cause problems when the weather is like it was last night?

“I believe he can pitch without it,’’ Girardi said.

Sure, it’s a long season, but you have to wonder.

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Yankees take three of four from Red Sox

The Yankees got a strong outing from Ivan Nova to take three of four from the Red Sox at The Stadium. He pitched into the eighth allowing a pair of runs to pick up the win in a 3-2 decision over Boston.

After Matt Thornton got David Ortiz to line out to the warning track thanks to a web gem from Ichiro Suzuki robbing him of a potential tying home run, David Phelps wiggled out of a bases loaded jam by fanning pinch hitter Mike Carp to erase the threat.

On to close for a second straight game, Shawn Kelley retired the Sox in order striking out two to pick up his third save. Outside of giving up two runs in Boston’s only win of the series Friday, he’s done a solid job filling in for David Robertson.

The hitting star was Carlos Beltran. He went 3 for 4 with two RBI’s including his third homer coming from the right side off losing Boston starter Felix Doubront. A two-run shot that put his team up 2-1 in the home third. The Yanks scored all three who pitched into the seventh. That included an overturn of an out call made by first base umpire Bob Davidson which allowed Brian McCann to score the winning run from third.

On a potential inning ending double play, Davidson originally ruled Francisco Cervelli out on a close play. However, after Joe Girardi came out from the dugout and asked for a challenge, they overturned it signaling Cervelli safe. Immediately, that drew the ire of Boston skipper John Farrell, who had a call go against him Saturday despite replays showing otherwise. Already the replay system has caused controversy.

Boston slugger Mike Napoli got one run back by going yard off Nova to deep left. But it wasn’t enough for the Red Sox, who fell to 5-8. The Yanks improved to 7-6 and are in a three-way tie for first with Tampa Bay and Toronto. Baltimore is 5-7. Two games separate the division.

One area of concern for the Yankees is their bench. Injuries continue to nag them. On the key play that led to the all important third run, Cervelli hurt himself while touching first. It appeared to be a right hamstring which is a bad sign for a team that doesn’t have another catcher on the roster to backup McCann. He took a ball off his index finger but stayed in the game and will have X-Rays tomorrow.

Cervelli played first for Mark Teixeira, who is still on the disabled list. Girardi moved Beltran to first. It was the first time in his 16-year career he played first. Beltran later indicated that it was good that no one hit any balls his way. It shows what type of player he is. An All-Star outfielder who’ll do anything to help his team win.

The Yankees had another scare with Yangervis Solarte coming up hobbled after running out a grounder. Fortunately, he was able to stay in the game. The utility man has been a blessing so far. He played second due to Brian Roberts getting a day off due to a sore back. Derek Jeter sat out a second consecutive day due to a tight right quadriceps. Dean Anna played short.

Assuming Cervelli heads to the DL, figure Austin Romine to get recalled.

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The Coldest Month

“The Coldest Month”

by Derek “D Flex” Felix


The calendar turned to January and I still haven’t recovered

I sit holed up in my bed shivering underneath my covers

Freezing cold from the fucked up weather searching for relief

Can’t seem to keep my eyes open long enough to catch a thief


They’ve stolen my identity and shattered it into a million pieces

I search for answers a broken man playing for keeps

Every day’s a blur like a howling wind right in my face

Catching ferocious snow flakes all out of place


I finally get to my car and pray to God to free my soul

Dying for the road less traveled over the one that’s taken a toll

I could run away and who would blink an eye

Would any close friends really have a cry


I look in the mirror and it’s becoming clearer

I’ve become someone I loathe and realize the end is nearer

The numb pain I feel has been buried deep inside

Even in public, it’s become increasingly difficult to hide


I can only take so much of a dull rudderless existence

Each hour a sour reminder of broken dreams in the distance

No one to point the finger at just a mirror reflection

It’s no wonder despite everything I feel total dejection


I’ve grown sick and tired of the unconscionable snakes

Out to bury desperate people into tireless escapes

Self serving and greed have become socially accepted

Yet those evil bastards remain protected


In the coldest month we fight and struggle

We try our best to put a brave face on and hustle

Avoiding the detractors like a cautious drive in frozen rain

The battle is real and we must persevere to prevent going insane


I’ll wear my fake smile tomorrow and laugh in pain

Finding some humor even though deep down I cry in vain

As a wakeup call to myself not to give in to this daily sin

Preaching better health mental and physical to finally win


It’ll continue to stare at me every dying minute

Facing a January crisis figuring out shit what’s in it

All a new challenge to become whole again

I still believe a new life exists that’ll begin

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Knicks with statement win over Heat

Carmelo Anthony lets one fly as LeBron James looks on during the Knicks' 102-92 win over the Heat at MSG. Getty Images/Frank Franklin II

Carmelo Anthony lets one fly as LeBron James looks on during the Knicks’ 102-92 win over the Heat at MSG.
Getty Images/Frank Franklin II

Occasionally, a bright line shines on Madison Square Garden. Those moments have been few and far between for both the basketball and hockey teams. Coincidentally, 24 hours after the Rangers went into Chicago and beat the defending Cup champion Blackhawks, the Knicks rose up to the challenge and defeated the defending champion Heat 102-92 at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Everyone played well for the victorious Knicks, who suddenly have won three straight and four of five. Carmelo Anthony played an efficient game pacing the blue and orange with 29 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Melo didn’t force many shots shooting 50 percent from the field (12 of 24). He used teammates including an inspired Amare Stoudemire, who had arguably his best game of the season posting a double/double with 14 points and 11 boards in 26 minutes. In particular, STAT hurt the Heat in the paint finishing passes from Ray Felton (14 assists) and Anthony.

”We’re moving forward,” Anthony told TNT’s Rachel Nichols. ”We’re taking strides. We’re getting better. We’re learning from our mistakes we’ve made in the past and we’re going to continue to build on this and see what happens.”

Mike Woodson got a great effort from Andrea Bargnani. Despite some foolish fouls especially on LeBron James, who also turned the statuesque ex-Raptor into a dunk poster- Bargnani scored 19 on nine of 13 shooting. What I liked about the performance is he drove the ball and finished instead of settling. That included a nifty and one in which he beat Miami’s help D. Bargs isn’t the most athletic defensively and often got caught guarding LeBron one on one off switches. The results were predictable with the NBA’s best player toasting him on an array of drives that included a couple of exclamation points. James poured in a game high 32 with six assists and five rebounds but also turned it over six times. Miami was sloppy with 15 turnovers. There were some odd forces from a normally unflappable group that’s aiming for a three-peat.

”They played a great game,” credited James after playing in his 800th NBA game. ”They made some timely shots.”

Dwyane Wade played a sixth straight game and was very effective scoring 23 in 39 minutes. As usual, his dexterity was on display with a couple of circus shots that found the target. But Wade had a miserable night at the line misfiring on all six free throws. As a team, the Heat clanged 10 of 21 with even James missing three of seven. Chris Bosh was reduced to a spectator scoring just six on 3 of 10 shooting. He really looked out of sync. Miami only had three players in double digits with underappreciated third-year guard Norris Cole pumping in 12 including two treys. Despite always hurting the Knicks whenever they play, he didn’t see much time down the stretch. A questionable move by Erik Spoelstra. Instead, he stuck with Ray Allen, who had only six with one trifecta.

What can’t be questioned is Woodson Krazy gluing J.R. Smith to the bench following his latest idiocy. A failed attempt to untie Greg Monroe’s shoes in a Knicks’ win over the Pistons resulted in the NBA fining him $50,000 after repeated warnings. If you’re still left wondering who shot JR, your guess is as good as mine. Smith has no one to blame but himself. His shenanigans along with undisciplined play have resulted in a valuable member of last year’s Atlantic Division winner falling into Woodson’s doghouse. To think he won the NBA’s top Sixth Man. Look how far he’s fallen since getting suspended for engaging Jason Terry. It speaks volumes.

One player who has come on during this critical stretch is third-year man Iman Shumpert. It looks like he’s shaken off the trade rumors and decided to play the game. How many clutch daggers did he drain in the second half? Whenever the Heat got within striking distance, Shump was there dialing it up from long distance. He hit four three’s en route to 12 points while grabbing nine rebounds and playing aggressive D. It sure is nice to his confidence back.

Woodson got key contributions from rookies Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Toure Murry. Both came off the bench and added hustle plays with Hardaway Jr. having an emphatic slam on a Stoudemire miss. Murry had a pair of steals. Kenyon Martin started in place of Tyson Chandler and gave a solid effort with seven, four boards and a steal. That the Knicks prevailed without Chandler shows how up they were for the TNT spotlight. They backed up Woodson’s claim that they could play with the Heat, winning for the fourth time in the last five regular season meetings.

What really stood out aside from a balanced effort was their ability to do damage inside. Without Chandler, they scored 52 points in the paint against normally a very tough defensive team. The Heat weren’t as sharp and paid for it. However, credit the Knicks for executing Woodson’s game plan. We saw more pick and rolls featuring Stoudemire and Bargnani. Felton came on strong with a big second half. Not only did he distribute but scored key buckets with a nice finish and hit two long jumpers including one from downtown. It was the kind of gritty performance we got last year.

”It wasn’t going to last all season like that,” Felton said. ”We were just going through a slump, now I feel like we’re out of it.”

One of my favorite moments was when out of a timeout, Woodson drew up a play for Anthony with Felton dishing for an open Melo, who drained a three from the left key. That was needed because they started going away from him in the third quarter. Even though they made a conscientious effort to involve everyone, there are times you want your best player to have the ball. What I liked most was he meshed well with Stoudemire, who hurt Miami big time.

There are a lot of positives. Now, the Knicks must follow it up at Philadelphia. A place they rarely play well. It doesn’t matter. There’s still plenty of work to do. At 13-22, they’re third in the lowly Atlantic trailing first Toronto (17-17) by four and a half games. The rejuvenated Nets are second at 14-21 and host the same Heat Friday at Barclays Center.

”You can tell it’s different than one month ago,” Bargnani said. ”Our faces are different, our body language is different.”


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Bitter Belichick plays Scrooge following Pats’ loss to Panthers

Ginn 'Tacular: Panthers' wide receiver Ted Ginn is congratulated by Steve Smith following his game-winning TD reception with 59 seconds left. AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Ginn ‘Tacular: Panthers’ wide receiver Ted Ginn is congratulated by Steve Smith following his game-winning TD reception with 59 seconds left.
AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Great coaches hate losing. That much is understood. To watch Bill Belichick after a Pats loss. Priceless. The three-time Super Bowl winning New England coach redefines Grumpy Old Men. He should star in the NFL version. Scrooge was at his best following a 24-20 defeat at Carolina on Monday Night Football.

Anger personified and bitter even during a chilly postgame press conference, Belichick’s answers were the all too predictable 1-2 word sentences. So vanilla is he that you’d think it was the end of the world. Never mind that the Patriots are still 7-3 leading a weak AFC East by two games over Miami and the Jets.

Of course, the big topic was a flag that was picked up by NFL officials resulting in a Tom Brady interception on the game’s final play. Needing a touchdown, Brady threw for favorite target Rob Gronkowski. But the short throw was picked off by Panther safety Robert Lester. As the Panthers started to celebrate, there still was the issue of the controversial flag in the end zone. Did Luke Kuechly interfere with Gronkowski? He definitely face guarded him and easily could’ve been called. However, after discussing it they decided against it and the game was over.

Not without a furious protest from Brady, who had a few choice words for the chief referee as they walked off. Anyone who’s seen the former Super Bowl MVP knows how competitive he is. He’s fiery and wants every call. Doesn’t every quarterback in this fast becoming soft sport? Drew Brees got it during the Saints’ come from behind 23-20 home win over the 49ers. Anyone who watched knows it should’ve been a sack for Ahmad Brooks and San Francisco ball with 3:12 left. All star QBs do is complain and get their wish. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed tonight’s ending.

Did they get it right? Technically, no. Does it matter? Not anymore. Even Brady admitted as such which is more than Belichick will when he references not getting calls tonight and in Baltimore. How childish can you get? At least Brady pointed out that the Pats had plenty of chances earlier but didn’t take advantage. Instead, Carolina signal caller Cam Newton played the ultimate hero with a potential career defining game-winning drive. Trailing by three, he calmly led the Panthers down field, hooking up with Ted Ginn for a 25-yard TD reception with 59 seconds left.

Even with Carolina’s dangerous front four applying all kinds of pressure on Brady, he converted a fourth down and 10 to keep it alive. When he made two more completions all the way to the Carolina 18 with three seconds left, it got a little too close for comfort for the hosts. Then came one final Brady pass into the end zone that wound up short for an easy interception.

Then Flag Gate occurred leaving Belichick bitter. With Christmas around the corner, maybe Scrooge really does exist. He coaches a football team in Foxboro.

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Catch NY Puck Live on Hard Hits Network

On Hard Hits Network, New York Puck Live is a one-hour hockey show that can be heard on Blog Talk Radio. Hosted by Derek Felix, it includes coverage of the Rangers, Devils, Islanders, Sabres and NHL. The next show airs Monday night from 11 EST to 12 midnight. You can also catch the show archive which usually includes overtime.

Joined by cohosts Brian Sanborn, Chris Wassel, John Giagnorio, Dan Wheeler, Rob Davis, Justin Felix, Jenn Johnson and Chrissy Lee, the show can go off topic at times. On Saturday night into Sunday morning, I hosted a special two-hour edition as part of a JPG sendoff. He’ll be doing an Asian tour departing for the Philippines tomorrow. The 2-hour show featured Giagnorio, Sanborn, Justin and Wheeler. While the first half was mostly hockey, the second part featured daily NFL picks and other ramblings.

Catch all the fun and excitement. That includes Mr. Positivity “Buffalo Bill” Brian’s riveting prediction versus the Jets. You won’t want to miss it. See how many games our crack committee got wrong. And find out why Sam Hurd’s 15-year sentencing inspired uncontrollable laughter synonymous with Derek’s all-time favorite character, The Joker.

HARD HITS NETWORK: NY Puck Live 11-17-2013

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Harrison led Johnnies Storm past Wagner for first win

A week after losing by 11 to Wisconsin in Sioux Falls, St. John’s picked up its first win of the 2013-14 season. They defeated Wagner 73-57 to win their home opener at Carnesecca Arena. It marked the 10th straight home opening victory.

D’Angelo Harrison led the Johnnies with 25 points. Fourteen came in a strong first half that saw the Red Storm take a 36-22 lead into intermission. For the most part, he stayed under control shooting 7 for 14 from the field while going a perfect 11 for 11 at the line. He also grabbed five rebounds and dropped four dimes. Harrison limited his turnovers to two.

Wagner hung around on the strength of three-point shooting from Latif Rivers and Jay Harris. Each picked it up in the second half for the Seahawks. Rivers paced the Staten Island NEC school with 18 and Harris had 14. Point guard Kenneth Ortiz added 10 and five assists. Despite a lack of athleticism and size, they posed a good challenge for St. John’s. A few times, they cut a double digit deficit to single digits including a 7-0 run that finished with a Mario Moody jam off an alley oop.

Displeased with his team’s lethargic start to the second half, Steve Lavin called for time. They responded to adversity with timely buckets and aggressive defense that forced Wagner into 15 turnovers. Harrison had help from sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson. Last year’s top Big East rookie chipped in with 13 and seven boards. That included four field goals and 5 of 7 free throws. Sir ‘Dominic Pointer was the third scorer into double digits adding 10. Among the highlights were two monstrous slams off put backs. He ran the floor well following up strong on the offensive glass.

Big shot blocker Chris Obekpa swatted four shots, grabbed eight rebounds and had two points. St. John’s held a 45-34 edge on the glass. Newcomer Orlando Sanchez didn’t shoot well misfiring on five of six field goals but still chipped in eight (6-6 FT’s) and eight boards. Guard Jamal Branch finished with eight. Phil Greene IV added five. Defensive pest God’sgift Achiuwa came off the bench for two and three rebounds.

Overall, it was a decent performance. There were some shaky moments where they forced the issue. A continued concern is the lack of a perimeter threat. The Johnnies were 0 for 10 from downtown. It’s an area that must change. Max Hooper barely got off the bench. He’s the best shooter they have. Harrison was 0 for 4 from three and freshman Rysheed Jordan struggled missing all seven field goals including twice from beyond the arc. Hopefully, he’ll settle down.

St. John’s next plays against Bucknell this Tuesday, Nov. 19. That should be a good early test against a proven tournament team from the Patriot League. Maybe we’ll go.

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Early Knicks Observations

The Knicks are playing their fourth game tonight in action against the Bobcats. After a good start in a win over the Bucks, they’ve dropped two in a row. A tough road loss to the Bulls on a Derrick Rose floater was expected. They put up a great fight nearly pulling it out on the back of Carmelo Anthony. But he missed from the outside at the buzzer.

Following an inconsistent effort in a loss to the Wolves, owner Jim Dolan wasn’t happy even ripping the Knicks city dancers. Suddenly, the Teflon owner cares about winning. Who would’ve ever thought? All you ever hear from his MSG announcers is how wonderful the fully renovated Garden is. What we get is plenty of camera shots of celebrity row. To the diehard fan who could care less about such pettiness.

I’ve been a Knicks fan my entire life and would love nothing better than to see them win an NBA title. The Patrick Ewing 90′s teams came close giving us some exciting moments. Just as I mention Ewing, he’s shown on Garden Vision and gets a loud ovation from an appreciative crowd. Number 33 is a top assistant on Charlotte. It’s always nice to see the big fellow. Hopefully, he’ll coach a team soon. He deserves it. Wouldn’t it be poetic if he returned to coach here? I can dream.

Back to reality. The Knicks are 1-2 after the defeat to a Kevin Love led Minnesota. The Wolves are improved and a bad match up boasting Ricky Rubio, who sliced and diced them. What drew Dolan’s ire along with many Knick fans was a lackluster first quarter in which they were outscored 40-19. The boos rained down at the World’s Most Famous Arena. One thing about the Big Apple. If you don’t come to play, you will hear it. To their credit, they fought valiantly. However, a Love three-point play held off the comeback try.

One of the team characteristics is jacking up three-pointers at a high rate. It’s no secret that they’re a perimeter oriented team built around Anthony. Melo can score inside and out. He’s a dynamic scorer capable of carrying them for stretches. There’s no denying his talent. At times, he’s unstoppable. One of my gripes with him is that there are instances where he settles. He’s better than that. Anthony hasn’t been shooting well. If you’re struggling, it’s better to play in the post and go to the hoop. Something he can do with the best. When in the paint, he can draw double teams and find the open man or score. The effort was there defensively pacing the blue and orange with 17 rebounds. That kind of hustle is always appreciated.

There’s a difference between taking a good shot and a bad one. The Knicks are most effective when either Anthony or Ray Felton penetrate. If they get in the lane, it creates opportunities for everyone. Don’t forget they boast Tyson Chandler inside. A beast defensively and terror on the glass. He also can finish in the open floor. Iman Shumpert is an athletic slasher who is a ball hawk. Most would agree that he might be the most important player this season. If he can become a more consistent scorer which includes the ability to knock down open treys, they become more potent. Number one pick Anthony Hardaway, Jr. brings a lot of energy. But sometimes, forces shots. He’s far from alone. The Knicks took too many three’s Sunday. Once they got within striking distance, they didn’t need to force the issue. How they adjust moving forward will determine how successful they are.

The Knicks are competing with the Nets for the Atlantic. It’s no secret Brooklyn has turned up the heat in a budding rivalry adding former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce plus Jason Terry. All have won NBA titles. Their championship pedigree along with new coach Jason Kidd should make them more formidable. They already have a home win over the Heat holding on for dear life despite the absence of Dwyane Wade. Adding those vets to a core that features Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson has many believing they’re better than the Knicks. That remains to be seen.

New York gets J.R. Smith back this Sunday. He’s serving the rest of a drug suspension. The Sixth Man was huge last year helping them win a division title. A streaky scorer similar to popular former Knick John Starks, Smith can be a little crazy. However, that can be good. He brings energy and gives Mike Woodson another option in crunch time. Smith’s theatrics included a couple of electric buzzer beaters. He also plays hard defensively and can rebound and distribute. How will we respond to a tough Spring that saw him ineffective following a one-game suspension? He’s the crazy guy who can either be a real positive or fall apart. They need the first.

There are other questions like how effective will A’mARE Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin be? Woodson is wisely resting them on back to backs. That way they stay fresh for the playoffs. Adding Ron “Metta World Peace” Artest was a good move. Artest is that crazy vet who is part of the city. From Queensbridge where he starred for LaSalle Academy and then St. John’s, he’s finally home. To think they could’ve had him much earlier if not for Frederick Weis. I still can’t believe it. Metta isn’t as big a scorer these days but doesn’t have to be. He brings defensive intensity and can drain open shots. Artest’s intensity should be infectious. As long as he stays under control, New York should benefit.

The one thing that’s interesting is Dolan’s anger. We’re only in Game 4 of 82. Already they’re on notice including new GM Steve Mills. Odd considering how he replaced Glen Grunwald. With the owner, nothing ever makes sense. Just maybe he’s serious this time. The Knicks haven’t had a winner since 1973 when Walt “Clyde” Frazier teamed with Earl “Pearl” Monroe to win the franchise’s second championship since 1970. The Heat are still the overwhelming favorite with the Pacers and Bulls considered their biggest threats. It can change in a long season. We’ll see.

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NFL Week 4 Thursday Night: 49ers vs Rams

In a few minutes, they’re kicking off at St. Louis. Both the Rams and 49ers are off to poor starts. Each enter 1-2 coming off blowout defeats in Week 3. The Rams to the Cowboys 31-7 and the 49ers 27-7 at Candlestick Park. San Francisco’s was more surprising considering how they were thumped by Seattle. Most including myself felt they would bounce back. Instead, it was the Colts led by second-year quarterback Andrew Luck and a balanced run attack with former Giant Ahmad Bradshaw doing damage. Colin Kaepernick continued to struggle tossing an interception and losing a fumble.

For the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers find themselves under scrutiny. Are they ready to step up or about to fall flat? They’ll have to do it without Aldon Smith, who was put on the inactive list due to his DUI. He’s in rehab. The 49ers need to establish Frank Gore more. He had 82 rushing yards on just 11 carries in Week 3. Perhaps they’re focusing too much on throwing it around with big play receiver Anquan Boldin. Interestingly enough, Boldin enters as the only target with double digit receptions. Vernon Davis and Kyle Williams each have nine. Maybe they miss Michael Crabtree more than expected.

The Rams are led by Sam Bradford and a defense featuring Robert Quinn, Chris Long and James Laurinaitis. Interestingly enough, Bradford doesn’t rely on one big play guy spreading it out to Tavon Austin, Jared Cook and Austin Pettis. Running back Darryl Richardson also has 10 catches. If you like balance, then it favors Jeff Fisher’s team.

Figure it to be tight as neither wants to go 1-3. Especially in the same division as the Seahawks. Even with their issues, I still think the 49ers pull it out. They have too much at stake. If they lose, it’ll be three straight to a division rival.

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