5-at-10: Fab 4 picks, Braves tough road to East crown, Judge's 61st and memorabilia value

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Josiah Gray throws during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Fab 4 picks

So, last week we had multiple games decided by one play or even one point.

Ah the gambling gods, they do like to toy with us no.

For example, Clemson gets a two-point conversion in overtime and UCF decides to, you know, play hard, a 3-4 week becomes a 5-2 week. 

Conversely, Georgia Southern covered by a single point, and Alabama’s defense played like Alabama’s defense and the first-half total of 33.5 was a squeaky winner with an intermission score of 31-3.

So a 3-4 week could have been a 1-6 week.

Ah, the joys of wagering.

What’s the old saying? “They don’t draw pictures on the scoreboard.” And the books don’t draw pictures on your betting ledger either.

Speaking of clichés, well, you can’t judge a book by your covers. Hmmmmmmmm. Tommy likey.

Hey, theme show. “Tommy Boy.” Let’s do this. 

Georgia minus-15.5 over Missouri. “Brothers don’t shake hands, brothers gotta hug.” Ah, Tommy’s view of Rob Lowe. Has to be how the sports betting folks view their competing sites right? This point spread was 2 points better on FanDuel than it was on DraftKings, which highlights two things to remember. First, why do betting sites not believe in spaces between words? Second, always remember to shop around for the better number. If you are reading this and think: “What? Greeson’s cracked. Missouri at home at night with Coach Drink facing the wolves?” If that’s the thought, then absolutely get the Tigers at plus-17.5. Which also brings us to the straddle principle. It’s exactly as it sounds, and if you can find spreads divided by more than 2 points — especially if those 2 points wrap around a key football number like a 17 — there’s temptation to take both sides and potentially double win if the halftime score is Georgia 24, Missouri 7. Anywell, I’m on Georgia big this week (I also like minus-28 for the game) for the following reasons. One, they played like crud against Kent State. (And still won by 17 because they are loaded with talent.) Two, they had an arrest over the weekend so Kirby Smart truly had their attention all week. Three, Kirby has become quote Saban like in that he rarely covers in money games and does everything in his power to pummel conference foes and other Power Five opponents. Four, Missouri had a gut-punch loss last week and now has to rebound against the most talented team 1-22 in the country. Plus, remember when the SEC teams with elite talent go on the road, the numbers dwindle so, when Georgia goes to its third tailback, yeah he’s better than Missouris’s starters.   

Betting PSA: “Guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box ’cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.” OK, of the sure things so far this season, it’s been Auburn failing to cover. The Tigers are bagel-and-4 against the number, and the Charlotte total going over. While the Tigers host LSU and are catching 10 — a game I have no feel about because a) Auburn’s rabbit foot is powerful and the AU-LSU rivalry has forever been filled with a lot of voodoo, and conversely b) LSU could win by three TDs at Jordan-Hare at night and seal Harsin’s fate — the Charlotte total against UTEP has actually dropped to 50. Yes, the big 5-0, a number that Charlotte normally surrenders on its own. BUT…. the game is in Charlotte and the remnants of Hurricane Ian could very easily turn that one into a mud pit scrum. So, as you are watching College GameDay on Saturday, whenever Lee Corso starts to speak, click over to the weather channel, and be up to date. Because I love the over in every Charlotte game until it hits 80 as long as they are not playing in a hurricane. Literally. “Guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box ’cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.”

New Mexico State minus-14 over FIU. Yes, I know little about FIU. But the numbers are clear and you have to believe this cross-country trip has the FIU coaches saying, “I’m gonna go ask directions to our next huge embarrassing failure.” FIU lost at Western Kentucky last week 73-0. Read that again. FIU’s last three weeks — while dealing with the conflicts of a hurricane coming through mind you — were at Texas State (a 43-12 loss), at Western Kentucky for that destruction and now a cross-country trip to NMSU.

Oregon-Stanford over 63.5. Lots of Tommy Boy lines here. “Please go away, let me sleep for the love of God,” applies because this puppy kicks at 11 p.m. And of course for everyone’s favorite portal poster boy Bo Nix, there’s the classic exchange between Richard and Tommy. 

Tommy: Did you hear I finally graduated?

Richard: Yeah and just a shade under a decade too.

Tommy: Shut up, Richard. Lots of people go to college for seven years.

Richard: Yeah, they are called doctors.

Ah, good times.

As for the pick. Well, in games in which Oregon does not have to play Georgia, the Ducks are averaging almost 52 points per game. In games not involving toothpaste-soft Colgate, Stanford is surrendering 40-plus. Hmmmmm. I have made a few promises in my life. To honor my wife. To raise and provide for my kids. To try to make my parents proud and to never lay more than two TDs with Bo Nix. But I never said anything about the over/under. Score. Score. Score.

Wake Forest plus-7 over Florida State. Too many points for an FSU team that has one notable win, and that was a game LSU gave away. Plus, Wake has the better QB and the better coach. Am I worried a touch about the chips the Deacs had to push into last week’s multiple-overtime loss to Clemson? A smidge. “Does this suit make me look fat?” “No, your face does.” Not sure that that exchange from “Tommy Boy” works here but we had to include it.

MTSU-UTSA over 63. So if you are wondering how the Blue Raiders can go from allowing 44 points at home to James Madison to scoring 45 points at Miami, well, you are not alone. Buckets. Makes you wonder what the MTSU faithful are thinking too. “Is that why you have a bomb strapped to your chest?” “Bomb? No these are just road flares.” 

Last week: 3-4 against the spread

This season: 10-10-1 against the spread

Braves pickel

Dang it, Braves. Stayed up until the bitter end, and you gagged it.

So the Braves’ extra-inning loss to the lowly Nats coupled with the Mets’ extra-inning win over the lowly Marlins means the Mets hit the A-T-L on Friday with a one-game lead.

It’s more perilous than that too, because with the postseason changes, if the teams end the 162-game regular season tied, there will not be a one-game playoff this season. The tie-breaker will be head-to-head records, and the Mets currently lead 9-7 in the season series.

So, that means a sweep would give the Braves a one-game lead in the standings and the tie-breaker with each team playing three more games early next week. (Side note: Yes, it feels strange the season not ending on a Sunday.)

If the Braves take two of three, they would be even in the standings but lose the tie-breaker so there would be much work to do next week.

If the Mets win two of three, the Braves should likely start aligning their pitching rotation for the Wildcard series with the Padres later next week.

But a bigger concern for all involved has to be two unexpected issues that have hatched in the last few weeks.

First without Spencer Strider, the rotation is, with all apologies to “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain,” is “Wright and Fried and watch us bleed.” 

Second, whatever was ailing Matt Olson — who is starting to hit a little of late — has found Austin Riley, and the Braves can’t advance without Riley being the MVP candidate of the first four-plus months of the season.

Which also brings us to this question: If you had to vote a Braves team MVP right now, are you going Dansby, Riley or Michael Harris?


Symmetry and cash drop

Congrats Aaron Judge, who moved alongside Roger Maris in the record book for most homers in a season in American League history.

A mere 61 years after Maris hit 61 in ‘61, Judge hit homer No. 61 last night to make 61 the number of the moment.

It was the exclamation point on a surefire MVP season for Judge, who is tied for the AL batting lead, which would mean he could win the Triple Crown too.

(Side note: Judge is having a historic year. A possible Triple Crown with a record-setting home run total. And in a contract year to boot. And he’s still not more valuable in my mind than Shohei Ohtani is.)

Speaking of value, a fan at the Toronto game last night had a chance to make a play on Judge’s historic home run ball but dropped it. Estimates have the ball valued at north of $2 million.

On an anything-goes Thursday, what are your thoughts about selling a home run ball like that? Or, better yet, if you caught Judge’s 62nd homer to break the record, what would you ask for?


This and that

— Pour one out for Coolio, the funky follicled rapper of soundtrack gold “Gangsta Paradise.” Gone too soon at 59. Is Flava Flav still with us? If so, how?

— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall on UT’s lessons learned from the fourth quarter against Florida. 

— Prayers up for everyone in Florida. This is not a political thing, people. Just say a silent wish for safety for all those we know and those we don’t dealing with the harshness and aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Today’s questions

We have some peppered throughout in today's 5-at-10.

Braves team MVP this year?

What would you ask for if you caught a historic home run ball or super important piece of sports memorabilia?

As for today, Sept. 29, let’s review.

Ah, it’s national coffee day. So there’s that. This may shock you but I loathe all those froufrou coffee flavors. Hot, strong and black. The only way I drink it.

On this day in 1954, Willie Mays made his all-time-great, over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series.

Great Balls of Fire, Jerry Lee Lewis is 87 years old today. Great balls of fire, Jerry Lee Lewis is still alive.

Rushmore of people with ‘Lee’ as a middle name. Go.

And remember the mailbag, and the four of you still staving off elimination, remember your NFL picks.