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What happened this past Sunday!

One of my favorite actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman who won the Academy Award for his role as Truman Capote in the movie Capote, died of an overdose or some bad drugs he managed to put in himself. That was sad.

I actually met with Hoffman at the Palms when he was up for the Oscar. He was sitting in the sports book so I just went over, sat next to him and related how much I liked him in all his movies, especially Capote.

I told him he would win and asked what he was doing at Palms. He told me his nutty manager was trying to bet on the awards. Seymour was very gracious and we enjoyed our little talk. I even had him sign my racing form.

What happened this past Sunday!

I was lucky enough to witness the best rendition of our National Anthem I have ever heard, it was on Fox sports and was sung by the great opera singer and four time Grammy winner Renee Fleming. It sent chills up and down my body and, no, it wasn’t the O’Reilly interview with the president.

Fleming has a great voice and she sang our National Anthem the way it should be sung. Thank you, Renee.

What happened this past Sunday!

I caught a little of the Bill O’Reilly interview with president Obama and it was, to say the least, very competitive and entertaining, even more so than what I witnessed earlier. As far as I’m concerned, there’s not much else to be said except after Sunday Mass we got our throats blessed.

March Madness is right around the corner but spring training for baseball is just a few weeks away and I will cover each conference. This week I will start out west, but first a few baseball thoughts.

The Yankees, who have all the money, signed Masahiro Tanaka to a 7-year deal worth upwards of $255 million. Now their rotation looks like CC Sabathia, Huroki Kuroda, Tanaka, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda. It’s a good thing the Yankees have $$$ as they have one of the worst producing farm systems since the late 1980’s.

We had the “year of the dead ball” then we had the “steroid era” and now we could be entering the “starting pitcher era.”

Just the other night I watched an old Six Million Dollar Man replay. Clayton Kershaw became MLB’s first $30 million man; King Felix has a contract with the Mariners in the $18 million range. Max Scherzer and David Price both signed contracts in the $14-15 million range.

Looking to the future we see a wealth of young arms coming up like Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, Gerrit Cole of the Pirates and many more.

Starting pitchers may be the deepest position in baseball this coming year. What does that mean for us, the bettor? As the new season is fast approaching, I look back and remember how many games I was winning going into the seventh inning and lost when the starter came out.

The bullpen flunked, placing a greater emphasis this year on the first five innings.

AL West

1-Oakland A’s: The two-time Division champs operate in a relative vacuum. Ignored by the East Coast media, if it wasn’t for the very good movie Moneyball people would not even know they exist. The A’s have to be considered because of the bullpen Billy Beane and his sabermetric system have put together. If you are trailing the A’s after six innings the game may very well be over.

2-LA Angels: Will this be the year Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton join Mike Trout and have big years at the plate? Pitching is their problem, but if this lineup shows up their bats will get it done with some high scoring games.

3-Seattle Mariners: They spent a lot of money signing Robinson Cano. It remains to be seen how well he can hit in a pitcher’s park. Unfortunately, Cano goes to the bank with his big contract, but playing most of his games late, he will fall off the earth, in terms of fame, with his fortune. The Mariners, in spite of the signing, will go as far as King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma can take them.

4-Texas Rangers: Prince Fielder brings his bat to Arlington and will be launching balls. I expect he will hit more home runs here than he did in Detroit or Milwaukee. Expect the Rangers to be a high scoring team.

Look for a lot of OVERS in Texas before the line makers catch up. As with the Mariners, pitching will be key to what the Rangers will be able to do this year and how far they can go.

5-Houston Astros: Once again the Stros will finish last but ownership has a plan and a youth development program that may bring them into competitive baseball. They had a nice run at the end of last year but Houston will struggle to avoid a 100 loss season in a very competitive division.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper.  Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].

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