Yanks Already 4-2 vs. Top Threats

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

YANKEES ENTER HOME OPENER
OFF GREAT 2010 START

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

The schedule-makers sure didn't do the New York Yankees any favors!

*They had to start the 2010 season on the road against their most hated rival, the Boston Red Sox. Most pundits and Las Vegas experts expected those two teams to battle it out once again for the AL East, and American League crowns.

*They had to travel to Tampa Bay after Boston for a three-game set. Tampa Bay was the AL champ two years ago, and is also expected to give the Yankees a tough battle in the brutal AL East. It would be tough enough to open up with those six games at home, or with a 3-3 split home and away. All games were on the road for the Bronx Bombers!

*Today's home opener marks the opening of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels. You'll recall the Angels are ANOTHER postseason regular who have been one of the dominant teams in the league in recent years.

Tampa Bay got to host Baltimore. Boston got a few games with Kansas City. The Angeles opened with six home games. WHY DID THE YANKEES GET SUCH A KILLER SCHEDULE!

Well, if you're a Yankees fan, you can be very pleased with what's happened thus far, and fairly confident of another playoff run in 2010. New York took two of three in both sets, putting them at 4-2 in the first week of the season.

If you win 67% of your games ON THE ROAD...VERSUS YOUR TOUGHEST RIVALS...you're already the best team in the league and now it's just a matter of taking care of business.

The Yankees were one of several teams who started out very well on the road. You regulars know we have a pet stat we like to use called WINS MINUS HOME GAMES PLAYED. This stat forces you to pay attention to home road splits, and adjust your perceptions properly when teams have had difficult or easy stretches. We've NEVER taken it off the shelf this early because one week usually isn't enough to allow for conclusions. 2010 may be an exception.

GOOD FIRST WEEK STARTS ON THE ROAD (Wins Minus Home Games in Week 1)
Philadelphia +5
Toronto +5
Minnesota +5
NY Yankees +4

We're most impressed with what the Yankees did in the first week obviously, because going 4-2 against a killer schedule is quite a challenge. Philadelphia, the other World Series team from last year, had a much easier schedule. The Phils dominated Washington and Houston. Still, you can't scoff at 5-1 on the road!

Toronto's start was a true shocker. They were virtually a consensus pick for last place in the AL East after losing Roy Halladay and some other talent. Starting on the road against Texas and Baltimore, two teams who were supposed to be improved this year, the Blue Jays won five of six games. That doesn't make them a contender just yet. It does suggest they may be a lot better than expectations.

Minnesota's start was also very impressive. They opened at the perennially playoff bound LA Angels, and against a Chicago White Sox team that many were picking to dethrone them in the AL Central. The Twins also could have been distracted about the grand opening of their new stadium that would kick off the second week of action.

On the other end of the spectrum were several teams who posted very poor records despite opening with nothing but home games the first week.

BAD FIRST WEEK STARTS AT HOME (Wins Minus Home Games In Week 1)
Houston -6
LA Angels -5
NY Mets -4
Kansas City -4
Tampa Bay -3
Texas -3

An interesting mix there of teams projected for last place in their divisions and teams who were supposed to be contenders. We now have confirmation that Houston and Kansas City are going to be in deep trouble this season. Sure, Kansas City had some tough opponents. Their bullpen issues obviously haven't been fixed. Houston was missing Lance Berkman. They would have been crushed if he was there!

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE PARLAY

There's four National League games on Tuesday, two of them are betting standouts, so strong that we're going all out on a parlay play. It's a package that grades out at the same level as our American League Parlay on Sunday, the one that got with the money with the Yankees over hte Rays and the Red Sox over the Royals. Now let's take a look at the senior circuit. We've got games like Mets-Rockies out in Denver. Are the Mets going to get their act together? Or could a totals move be possible in this park that's so difficult for linesmakers to put a proper price on. The Reds visit the Marlins. Both teams are dark horses with expectations for the coming year and our sources are close to the scene. Or how about Pirates-Giants. San Francisco got off to a nice start, but will the price be too high? Finally, the Diamondbacks play the Dodgers in one of the better matchups of the day and our stat handicappers have worked over all the angles in this NL West rivalry play. The Network has all the edges, it has to the two best plays isolated. All that's left is to get the money!

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The Angels were expected by many to fall back to the pack this year. That first week is sure signaling that like crazy. And, the last thing you need after a bad homestand is a trip to New York to play the Yankees! We're watching this potential Angels free-fall very closely.

Tampa Bay has to be disappointed with their 3-3 homestand to start the season. They didn't really impress vs. Baltimore, then almost got no-hit by C.C. Sabathia...a pitcher known for sluggish Aprils. Texas is also disappointed. They were a popular choice to supplant the Angels. They're still in position to do that after a 3-3 start. Considering the opponents, more was expected.

OTHER POOR STARTS (but all on the road)
Seattle 2-5
Chicago Cubs 2-4
LA Dodgers 2-4
San Diego 2-4
Cleveland 2-4

This group would grade out at +2 in our Wins Minus Home Games Played stat, which is why we don't use it this early! Obviously 2-4 isn't a good start...but it grades out as a positive when you've played zero games at home. San Diego was projected as a last place team, so no surprise there. The others were all getting hyped in different places as potential contenders. Put those guys on your watch lists as potential disappointments if they don't get things turned around in their home games.

Some analysts say you shouldn't put too much weight on the first week of action. We're sympathetic to that line of thinking because anything can happen in a week. That being said, if you look back over the first weeks of prior seasons, you'll see that teams were generally making things clear THAT early about whether or not they'd be a force during the season. Sure, a team might struggle out of the gate because of injuries (the Yankees didn't catch fire last year until AROD was healthy). Yes, it's possible to get hot for awhile before falling back to earth (as Kansas City did last year). Over the sample of 30 teams though, you'll be surprised how often that first week was outlining what was ahead. Be sure you're listening this year!

We've really enjoyed the start of the baseball season, and we're looking forward to everything that's ahead this week. We want to give you an early heads up though that the NOTEBOOK will be VERY heavily involved in the NBA playoffs. As always happens in mid-April, we focus very heavily on playoff action except on the off-days. That means baseball will be front and center these next few days...but largely go on hiatus as a topic for a couple of weeks after that.

Just don't get the idea that JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK isn't following baseball any more! Our selection programs will be attacking early season baseball very aggressively, at the same time we'll be posting major releases in the NBA playoffs. That and the Triple Crown horse races traditionally make Spring a truly thrilling ride for handicappers and clients alike.

If you'd like to join the fun, call 1-800-323-4453 to sign up. Be sure to ask about EVERYTHING that's available in the coming days and weeks! Game day selections and packages can also be purchased here at the website with your credit card.

Series of interest this week in MLB:
LA Angels at NY Yankees
Boston at Minnesota
Chicago White Sox at Toronto
Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs
Arizona at LA Dodgers

Series of interest this WEEKEND in MLB:
Florida at Philadelphia
Colorado at Atlanta
NY Mets at St. Louis
San Francisco at LA Dodgers
Texas at NY Yankees
Tampa Bay at Boston
(We've got to mention these now because our late week reports will be NBA playoff previews!)

NBA GAMES OF INTEREST
Tuesday: Boston at Chicago on TNT
Tuesday: Denver at Phoenix on TNT
Wednesday: Any game involving the playoff picture (possibly most of the 14-game card!)

We're at 60% for the season in pro basketball, and we typically kick things up a notch percentage-wise in the playoffs.

This week's busy schedule will have Vegas oddsmakers gasping for air. Meanwhile, JIM HURLEY clients will be GRASPING FOR CASH!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

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Nov

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