Life Without Mariano - Best and Worst Playoff Coaching Performances

Life Without Mariano

By Wayne Root:

The mainstream media made quite a big deal about the New York Yankees losing in the 9th inning to Tampa Bay Wednesday Night. You can bet that the local media in the Big Apple treated it like a tragedy of mythic proportions. Mariano Rivera is out for the year. Will the Yankees ever hold onto a late lead again?!

I grew up in New York (as a true S.O.B., son of a butcher!) and I know how brutal the press can be. As handicappers, we have to keep level heads and try to determine the REAL impact of losing a legendary closer. Maybe the sky is falling. But, more likely, the media is going to overreact and things won't be as bad as everyone expects.

The first thing to remember is that closers, whoever they are, generally get the job done most of the time. Nobody's going to come in and lose every game. Sometimes the opposing team has the bottom of their order coming up in the ninth inning. It doesn't take a superstar to get out the bottom of the order or a couple of mediocre pinch hitters. Rivera isn't going to be replaced by the guy who throws batting practice. He's going to be replaced (either with David Robertson or somebody else) by a major league caliber hurler who's reached the big time because he gets people out.

The second thing to remember is that Rivera is a top closer...but not the only one. Rivera didn't even lead the league in saves last year even though he was on the playoff bound Yankees. Jose Valverde of Detroit was #1 in the American League in 2011. Rivera was #2. Just behind Rivera was Brandon League of Seattle, and the Mariners weren't very good last year. Behind League was Chris Perez of Cleveland.

It's not like League and Perez were held in such high esteem before last season that they were untouchable. You can plug in untested guys and find solutions. The Yankees should stop thinking about finding another "Hall of Famer." All they have to do is find another Brandon League or Chris Perez or Jordan Walden.

The third most important thing to remember in my view is that all you have to do is reach the playoffs to have a chance at the World Championship. You don't have to win 100 games. You don't have to dominate the competition for six months. You can go the distance out of the Wildcard spot...and now there are two Wildcard spots in the American League instead of just one. In other words, DON'T PANIC! It's a long season and you only have to be one of the five best teams in the AL to reach the postseason.

There will be a tendency to panic because the New York press will be asking panic questions. Newspapers want drama because drama sells. Joe Torre used to have the kind of cool head that would keep everyone in the clubhouse on an even keel. It's up to the current clubhouse and upper management to stay level-headed regardless of how much the press wants to act like a hurricane hit the team.

There is one big factor I'm paying close attention to that's unique to Yankee Stadium, and that came into play last night. It's easy to hit home runs to right field in the new Yankee Stadium because of the dimensions. It's going to be very tough to ask a right-handed fly ball pitcher to succeed in the role of closer (at least at home). It was tough to make home run contact against Rivera's pitches, so he was fine there. Whoever takes over for good can't have gopher ball issues. There WILL be a disaster story unfolding this year if the Yankees try to close out games with rigthhanded fly ball pitchers.

As a handicapper, here's what I'll be looking for as I decide how to bet or fade the Yankees through the rest of May and the rest of the season.

  • Does their body language suggest confidence, or fear that something bad is about to happen. When a team loses confidence in their closer, you can see it across the roster.

  • Does the guy on the pound pitch with confidence, or is he nipping around the corners because he's afraid to challenge anyone. Closers challenge!

  • Does the skill set of the man who eventually settles into the role fit Yankee Stadium?

  • Does an early hot streak put the question to rest for good (or at least the regular season). Or, does an early losing streak put a dark cloud over the rest of the season?

I always watch the New York teams closely because those are the roots of ROOT! Now that the Knicks are out of the NBA Playoffs, that means more time for the Yankees and the Mets in my personal process. I'm interested to see how tonight's series finale with Tampa Bay plays out. The Yanks may get a weekend respite with Seattle visiting. A huge series in Baltimore starts Monday. There may be some great value spots on the horizon with Seattle as a big dog, or with the Yanks as affordable road favorites in Baltimore next week depending on what we see in the next 48 hours.

You can purchase my top baseball and basketball plays every day here at this website. If you're still trying to find a program that suits your individual Vegas wagering needs, call my handicapping office at 1-877-766-8946.

Are YOU having trouble getting the job done? Do YOU need a closer who can come in and figure who the winning bets are going to be? Wouldn't YOU like to call on a HANDICAPPING HALL OF FAMER who's the only man in the industry to have a star on the Vegas Walk of Fame? It's time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!


Best and Worst Playoff Coaching Performances

By Coach Ron Meyer:

We're pretty deep into the first round of the NBA playoffs now. Four teams have already advanced (Miami, Indiana, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City). Three more teams hope to join them Thursday Night (Boston, Philadelphia, and the LA Lakers enjoy 3-2 series advantages). Memphis and the LA Clippers has been an interesting series that has made some coaching strengths and weaknesses very clear.

Here's my report card for playoff coaching about two weeks into the 2012 Postseason.

Chris Paul (he's more of a coach than Vinny Del Negro!)
Gregg Popovich
Erik Spoelstra
Frank Vogel

The Los Angeles Clippers jumped to a 3-1 series lead over Memphis (which is now 3-2 heading into Friday night's sixth game) because Chris Paul is such a great coach on the floor. He's the defacto coach of that team. Vinny Del Negro makes substitutions...but Paul does everything else. There's no way the inexperienced and erratic Del Negro would be in position to advance past the first round unless Paul was doing such a great job as a floor leader and offensive strategies.

Popovich wasn't particularly tested vs. Utah. That's largely because he's done such a great coaching job this year that his team could coast through the first round. Coaches like me LOVE watching that team because they do so many things so well.

Spoelstra of Miami was overlooked in Coach of the Year voting because everyone figures any coach could win with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the floor. He did good work on both sides of the ball vs. the Knicks. You can quibble with a decision here or there. But, he is starting to put his stamp on this team now that he has some role players who know what they're doing.

Vogel always gets high intensity efforts from his players. It's hard to do that in the NBA. Any coach who can deserves praise. Energy and passion may not be enough to beat Miami in the next round. That series (that starts Sunday) has a chance to get very interesting though.

Lionel Hollins
Mike Brown
Mike Woodson
Stan Van Gundy

I praised Hollins before the playoffs started, and many Memphis fans were outraged that he was snubbed in Coach of the Year voting. Now they're yelling at him every few minutes at the top of their lungs! Hollins hasn't done a good job of controlling what his offense should be doing. He stood idly by during one of the biggest choke jobs we've ever seen in the playoffs. I know a lot of big bettors in Vegas who loved Memphis in this series and have been trying to figure out how to buy themselves off those positions.

Brown of the Lakers has allowed Denver to control the tempo of the series...which was a big mistake because the Lakers don't have the depth to deal with a fast pace when three games would be played at altitude. Also, Andrew Bynum is furious because he's not getting the ball enough. It's my view that one of the coach's most important jobs is to keep his most dangerous weapons happy. Everyone in LA is so worried about keeping Kobe happy that the team has underachieved in recent years. Brown's had time to address that, and has addressed it the wrong way.

I was disappointed with how the Knicks tried to attack Miami. They played right into the Heat's hands by running everything through Carmelo Anthony. You can't beat the Heat with one guy! You have to move the ball around and wear down their legs. Woodson was a good choice to get the regular season back on track. And, he might be a good choice for another team in the playoffs. But, letting Carmelo Anthony get his points while nobody else did anything guaranteed a short series.

I put Stan Van Gundy on the list because he didn't make any adjustments of note in a series where his team had nothing to lose. They were big underdogs because of the injury to Dwight Howard. That gave him room to experiment in what was probably a lame duck position anyway. Instead, Orlando just kept firing up treys all night hoping they went in. You need a mix of outside and inside in this league. New York needed to do more outside, while Orlando needed to do more inside.

I think all four of the guys listed in the "worst" category had lost the chess element of their series, even if Hollins and Brown are able to advance to the next round.

The guys not listed today are in the "mixed bag" class right now. Some good...some things I was disappointed about. We'll talk more about some of them in future rounds. Is Scott Brooks ready to step up and win a conference title? Will Doc Rivers or Larry Drew ever get a healthy lineup on the floor? Will Doug Collins or Tom Thibodeau ever figure out how to get points on the board? Questions I'll answer on another day here in my web articles, because I may be answering those last two TONIGHT for my paying customers!

I have a CINCH play in Thursday's NBA available right now for credit card purchase here at this website. Or, you can sign up for my playoff service by calling my office at 1-877-540-8787. There's a big baseball play on tap tonight as well. I have great rates that will lock you in for the whole summer at a tremendous value.

I can assure you that coaching is going to play a huge role in determining an NBA champion this year...just like it did in 2011 with Dallas. If you want championship performance with your Las Vegas betting, it's time to put A COACH IN YOUR CORNER!


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