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Wednesday, August 9

   by Larry Ness - 08/09/2006

Another day and another win by the Dodgers. LA won its 11th consecutive game last night, as Greg Maddux won his Dodger Stadium debut 4-2 over the Rockies. You are all familiar with this ever-growing story. LA lost 13 of 14 to open the season's second half but continues to lead the way in MLB these days with the longest active winning streak of any team. The A's with six straight wins and the Angels with four straight wins are the only teams with winning streaks of greater than three.

My free play for Wednesday is on the LA Dodgers over the Col Rockies at 10:10 ET. It's a HUGE Wednesday for me in the AL, as I open with my 15* AL Getaway Day Game of the Month and close with my 20* AL Game of the Month (lone 20* AL game in the month of August). I'm on a 4-0 run with my 20* AL and NL Games of the Month (won both in May and July while passing in the IL-heavy month of June), so DON'T miss out!

The amazing thing about LA's current run is that bettors have been able to play 'on' LA, without paying a premium. LA began its winning streak with a three-game home sweep of the Nationals from 7/28-7/30, never opening as more than $1.40-favorite. The team then won consecutive three-game series at Cincinnati and Florida, each time opening as underdogs. The Dodgers have begun this week 2-0, opening as $1.60-favorites on Monday, $1.50 last night and opened tonight at minus-$1.25!

The Royals snapped their four-game losing streak last night, by beating the Red Sox 6-4. That leaves the Indians and Rangers, who have both lost four straight, with MLB's longest active losing streak. The Indians are a most interesting case, as although four teams in MLB own worse overall records than Cleveland's 47-64 mark, the Indians are minus-$2,513 (at $100/game) when it comes to the "moneyline" standings.

The Pirates come in with the second-worst moneyline record at minus-$2,124. While seven other AL teams having losing moneyline records, the next-worst team to the Indians are the Orioles, who at 51-63, are just minus-$608. That's quite a gap ($1,905)! A quick check at the top of the moneyline standings shows the Tigers at a dominating plus-$3,393, the Twins in second at plus-$1,937 and the Mets in third at plus-$1,363.

The Mets are far and away the NL leader in this department, as their closest pursuer is the 57-56 Arizona D'backs, who check in at plus-$531. Wondering about those red-hot Dodgers? The team's 11-game winning streak still leaves them slightly on the minus-side, at minus-$49. For the record, the Dodgers happen to be MLB's biggest 'over' team, going 64-44-5 on the year.

Other highlights from last night included Minnesota's 4-2 win over the Tigers. It gives Minnesota a 41-13 record over its last 54-games (one-third of MLB's 162-game schedule). The New York Yankees of 1998 own the best 54-game record of any team (45-9) since MLB adopted a 162-game schedule in the 1961 season.

The Mets beat the Padres last night 3-2. Met starter Steve Trachsel is now 9-1 in his last 11 starts (since June 9), despite an earned run average of 5.40 over that span. Trachsel leads the major league in wins over that span, but ranks 85th in ERA among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched.

The Marlins beat the Nationals last night 4-2, as rookie Ricky Nolasco won his 10th game. I mentioned Detroit's rookie pitchers yesterday and would be remiss if I didn't mention what's going on in South Florida. Florida rookies have combined for 35 wins this season, eight more than any other major league team (Detroit is next with 27) and 21 more than any other National League team (Chicago is next with 14).

Wednesday's MLB schedule is again full with 15-games on the menu. Two AL games headline the card. The Twins and Tigers play the rubber game of their series in Detroit at 7:05 ET. Johan Santana (12-5,3.22) starts for Minnesota and Jeremy Bonderman (11-5, 3.81) for Detroit. Santana has been nearly unbeatable in the season's second half the last few years, going 33-3 with a 2.31 ERA in 49 starts after the break since 2003.

Santana has a 4.31 ERA since this year's break, but also has a 3-0 record as the Twins have won all five of his outings. Minnesota has won 14 of Santana's last 15 starts and his strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season is an amazing 168-35. He's 8-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 19 career appearances against the Tigers, including 13 starts. While Santana has fared well against the Tigers, Bonderman has had problems versus Minnesota. He is 2-5 with a 6.17 ERA and a .336 opponent batting average in 10 career appearances against the Twins.

The White Sox beat the Yanks last night 6-5 in 11 innings, tying the game on a Paul Kornerko HR in the 9th (River's third blown save in 31 chances this year). It was Chicago's first win in four tries this year vs New York and just the team's ninth win in 23 games since the break. Tonight on ESPN at 8:05 ET, it's Randy Johnson against Jon Garland. Johnson owns a 5.11 ERA on the year but he's still 11-9 on the season with the Yankees winning 14 of his 24 starts.

Jon Garland goes for the White Sox and he hasn't lost since June 8 (to Detroit). He's posted a 3.26 ERA over his last nine starts with a 8-0 record. Despite Chicago's recent struggles, it should be noted the White Sox are 31-19 (.620) against teams that currently have a winning record. That's the best record of its kind for any major league team.

CFB notes

Their were a total of 23 schools which entered the 2005 season with new head coaches last year. There were only 10 new hires this year but then with the tragic death of Northwestern's Randy Walker over the summer, this year's "coaching carousel" grew to 11. In a special weekend edition of Ness Notes (available Saturday morning), I'll preview all 11 schools and coaches.

The 23 coaching changes of last year broke down like this. There were 10 schools bringing in coaches with previous experience (Spurrier at South Carolina and Meyer at Florida being the biggest names) and 13 schools which were giving their 'guys' their first head coaching job at the Division I-A level. Of course the biggest name in that group was Notre Dame's Charlie Weis.

From the group of 10 with previous experience, Meyer at Florida (7-5), Miles at LSU (9-3) and Spurrier at South Carolina (6-5), took over teams which had produced winning records in 2004. Meyer, Miles and Spurrier all improved their school's records in 2005, going a combined 27-10 SU (compared to 22-13), although their ATS records were nearly identical from the previous year, 17-17-2 compared to 17-17-1!

From the group of seven which inherited teams with losing records from 2004, the 2005 season was not an improvement as a whole. The combined records of the seven schools in 2004 were 22-55 SU and 31-43 ATS. The 2005 records of those same schools totaled 20-58 SU and 28-46-1 ATS.

Of note was Hal Mumme who took over a New Mexico State team that was 5-6 SU and 6-5 ATS in 2004 but went 0-12 and 2-10 ATS in 2005. On the flip side there was Walt Harris of Stanford. The Cardinal were 4-7 (6-5) in 2004 and while they only went 5-6 in 2005, they were an impressive 7-2-1 ATS.

There were 13 coaches last year making their Division I-A debuts. Four were taking over schools which were coming off winning records in 2004, Miami-Ohio, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh and Utah. All four of those teams did worse in 2005, with Oklahoma State and Pittsburgh going from 7-5 to 4-7 and 8-4 to 5-6, respectively. Combined, the four teams fell from collective records of 35-14 SU (29-18 ATS) in 2004 to 23-22 SU (19-24 ATS).

That leaves the nine coaches who took over teams with losing records from 2004. Those schools posted collective records of 35-67 SU (41-60 ATS) in 2004 and actually improved in 2005, going a collective 40-61 SU and 48-48-1 ATS. Leading the way was Notre Dame which went from 6-6 (6-6) to 9-3 (7-5) under Charlie Weis. With less fanfare, Skip Holtz at East Carolina, led the Pirates to a 5-6 mark as well as a very impressive 8-3 ATS record (team was 2-9 SU and 5-6 ATS in 2004).

The NFL will take center stage tomorrow, as Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET. Don't forget my special weekend edition, featuring the 2006 CFB "coaching carousel."

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