If you’re a regular reader and not yet up to speed on Matt Lessinger and his expertise on awards shows and analysis, then I’m not sure what else to say.
He’s been introduced here before. Get with the program.
Let’s skip the usual preamble and get straight to Matt’s thoughts on tonight’s Grammy Awards. For the record, I know nothing about this year’s music or ceremony, which will air tonight. The Grammy Awards typically warbles between mesmerizingly great and train wreck awful. I expect more of the same, tonight.
For those who appreciate the science of handicapping and value great analysis, I urge you to read his thoughts here, which should be valued as a terrific handicapping outlier. You need not be knowledgable of the music nor interested in the Grammy’s to value the high level of this work — which is why I’m eager to share Matt’s contribution here at my site.
Matt’s e-mail to me reads as follows:
Sadly, I’ve looked at the Grammy odds on three different sites, and the best odds were on Bovada each time. You know the offshore sites are getting worse when Bovada has the best lines! That’s unfortunate because they are only allowing a max bet of $125. on each category, and I have no idea how they came up with that number, but they are standing firm on that max. I don’t have the time or the resources to scour for a site with potentially better odds and/or maximums, but if anyone can find one and they are willing to share that information, it would be most appreciated. In the meantime, the odds listed here can all be found on Bovada at the time of this writeup.
The most obvious difference from years past is that there are now eight nominees in each category instead of five. That makes our job a little harder, but there’s still value to be found and money to be made. The other difference is that the nominees lean way more in the direction of hip hop than in years past. If I had been forced to bet on who this year’s nominees would be, admittedly I would have gotten slaughtered. For example, if you look at the category for Best Pop Vocal Album, which has six nominees (Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Shawn Mendes), I would have said that each of those albums could easily have landed in the Album of the Year category. Instead, NONE of them were nominated! For Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande to not have been nominated in an eight-horse field for Album of the Year is downright shocking. It may signal that the Grammys are going in a new direction. However, until they prove that they are willing to change the way they hand out the actual winners trophies, we have to assume for betting purposes that they are still the same old Grammys.
I’m going to list the categories in order of confidence, going from least to most.
SONG OF THE YEAR
“Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper is the -300 favorite and will almost certainly win. There are going to be two themes that repeat themselves throughout the categories. The first is that there are no standout nominees in any category. In my humble opinion, “Shallow” is not even a particularly good song, but it may be the best one in this weak field. The second recurring theme is that we will summarily dismiss any hip-hop nominees, even though there are more than usual this year, until it is shown that they can win the open categories on a more regular basis. With regard to this category, that eliminates half the field. Out of the ones that are left, Lady Gaga is the only one with a winning Grammy track record, having won six of them in the past. “Shallow” is the logical choice, but at -300 it is unplayable. I’m going to take a complete flyer for a token wager on the longest shot in the field, “The Middle” by Zedd and Maren Morris. Bombs away! My simple logic is that it is the only other song in the field that would be considered pop. On the one hand, the fact that none of the Best Pop Albums were nominated for Album of the Year signals a move away from pop music. On the other hand, Grammys have always rewarded pop musicians in the open categories, most notably Taylor Swift and Adele in recent years. “The Middle” might be the only upbeat song in the entire field, and it wouldn’t shock me if some voters gravitate to it just because it sounds uplifting in a sea of comparatively depressing music.
My play: “The Middle” by Zedd and Maren Morris at 33-1, for a very small wager. But if you’re willing to lay the heavy wood, you’ll probably win with “Shallow” at -300.
BEST NEW ARTIST
When the nominees were announced, my initial reaction was that Dua Lipa would be the odds-on favorite. Instead, H.E.R. is the -110 favorite and Dua Lipa is +180, and it’s far back to the rest of the field. Anecdotally speaking, H.E.R. is from Vallejo, CA which is a half hour away from me, and I listen to R&B music, and I had never heard any of her songs before. Once I listened to her, I had to admit I liked her music quite a bit, and she has a recognizable talent such that she could certainly win. But her resume doesn’t match up to Dua Lipa, who has already had a #1 song (New Rules) and international radio airplay. At the given prices, Dua Lipa is definitely the better value play. It’s hard to summarily dismiss the longshots – someone like Luke Combs or Margo Price could certainly be bombs away at 22-1 – but the problem in this category is that it’s hard to predict which longshot the voters would gravitate towards, so it’s easier to just stick with the proven commodity.
My play: Dua Lipa at +180
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Disclaimer: As much as I try to keep my personal musical opinions out of this process and stick to cold, hard analysis, sometimes that’s just not possible. This is one of those times.
Kacey Musgraves is the +120 favorite. I am quite sure a country artist has never been favored in this category for as long as I’ve been following Grammy betting. To me that signals the weakness with the other nominees more than it signals the strength of her album. She could certainly win, but there’s no value there. The 2nd and 3rd choices are the Black Panther album, which is essentially Kendrick Lamar, and then Drake. Both are hip-hop artists, and so I’ll say the same thing I’ve said every year for the past 15 years: the hip-hop artists who have previously won Album of the Year are Outkast and Lauryn Hill. That’s it, that’s the list. If one of them becomes the third member of that list, more power to them, but at +250 and +350 they’re unplayable. Cardi B and Post Malone are two more hip-hop artists that can even more easily be dismissed. Brandi Carlile and H.E.R. are the two longest shots on the board, and justifiably so. Out of the last four nominees I listed, Carlile is the only one who should have any shot at winning due to her career longevity, which is often rewarded in the AOTY category, but sometimes just being nominated is the reward, which is what this feels like.
That leaves Janelle Monae, who is listed at 6-1 on Bovada, but I’ve seen her as low as 3-1 elsewhere. Being completely honest, this is more of a hunch play than anything else. It simply feels like it should be her time. She is an R&B artist, which has historically been more successful in the open categories than either hip-hop or country. She has had a musical career spanning almost 15 years, which is more than most of this field can claim. Prince was an uncredited collaborator on the album, and assuming the voters are aware of that, his recent passing will certainly carry some weight. It was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year. And finally, inserting my own two cents, this album deserves to win. At 6-1 the value is there.
My play: Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae at 6-1.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Despite the constant insistence that Song of the Year and Record of the Year are two distinct categories, the same song wins in both categories way too often to be a coincidence. “Shallow” is the -300 favorite for SOTY and will probably win. So why is it the +160 second choice in this category, and “This is America” by Childish Gambino is the -150 favorite? I tried to find a logical reason and couldn’t come up with one. This is the best bet on the board. I’ll include another token wager on “The Middle” in case it sweeps both categories, but it’s far more likely that Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will get the scoop.
Don’t look now, but a new professional football league debuts tonight. Well, I have a few comments.
Are you ready for some….
….I can’t bear to type this next word, but here it goes….
A new professional football league debuts tonight. The premature infant of a fling that should have been aborted the instant some rich dude in the back of a limo presumably blurted out, “hey, let’s start a new football league!” will be officially known as the “Alliance of American Football.” Blare the tinfoil trumpets. Call in Larry Greenfield to sing our national anthem.
I shit you not, my friends. Just in case you missed the Super Bowl-shattering “I wish it were #fakenews” non-story, don’t fret — you’re not alone. No one else has heard of the “AAF” either.
Curious and desperately in need of a new column on what’s typically the slowest traffic day for bloggers, I typed the three letters “AAF” into a Google search engine and — voila!
This is what popped up:
Okay, let’s just say the AAF is a “work in progress.” Translated, that means no one knows what they’re doing nor has a clue what’s going on. This league is going to make the Trump White House look like Daimler-Benz.
As of this morning, the Arizona Hotshots are still looking for a head coach. Interested in the job? Word is, if you can be at the Home Depot parking lot in North Glendale ready for work at 6 pm, you’ve got the position. Oh, and the game starts at 7. Bring your own headset and bottles of Gatorade. English as a first language not required.
No health insurance. No benefits. No vacation time (unless the league folds). Perfect job for the “self-starter.” The league’s fitness program consists of running to the bank every payday to make sure the check doesn’t bounce.
Let’s be honest. Launching a new football league might be the worst idea of all time — this not counting William Shatner performing this eye-popping, unintentionally hilarious 1978 cover of the Elton John-Bernie Taupin classic, “Rocket Man.”
So, you think I’m bullshitting. You think I made the name “Arizona Hotshots” up, didn’t you?
No, that’s really the team name. The Hotshots. How’d you like that on your resume? I will say one thing. Site unseen, without knowing any of the players, I make the Hotshots a “pick” against the Arizona Cardinals, provided that Josh Rosen takes all snaps for the red birds.
Natural curious, t took me three clicks and half a glass of Zinfandel to finally find out which second-tier American cities will actually have an AAF team this debut season. It appears the death list of decapitated dreamers includes Birmingham, San Antonio, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Atlanta, and….and….and…..
….I can’t bear to type this next word, but here it goes….
San Diego couldn’t keep the fucking Chargers in town! Do you seriously think anyone’s going to buy a ticket to go see the San Diego Fleet?
While doing a web search, I was particularly amused by this ground shaking announcement that nobody else apparently saw, except me and maybe the guy who wrote it. According to the press release, Aaron Murray and Christain Hackenberg HIGHLIGHTED the QB’s taken in this year’s draft. Highlighted! Presumably, Ryan Leaf and Joe Kapp weren’t available.
To be clear, an alternative pro football league to the established NFL did succeed in the past. Once. Too bad, that was 59 years ago. The AFL was formed because the older league and TV networks were slow to react to a national hunger for more football. Back then there were a dozen NFL teams and three television networks. Now, there are 3,000 TV networks, and half of them right now are showing the creepy guy selling the colon cleanse product. More football? Does anyone other than Tom Brady want to see another football game for the next six months?
So, while the AFL succeeded before I was born, at least three football leagues have self-imploded since then. The alphabet soup of dead football leagues looks like a losing Scrabble tray in a dementia ward. WFL.USFL.XFL. It’s to the point where the only way to possibly compete is to make up a word. Gee, is “WLUX” a word, Alex?
Dumb shits. This ship to nowhere is going to blow through millions. It’s about as promising as backing Newt Gingrich in a presidential campaign. By the way, Newt — just in case you’re reading….6 pm at Home Depot, partner. I know it’s been a while since you last worked and anyone took you seriously.
I have zero interest in watching this bullshit football league.
You can bet it? You can wager on the games?
Seriously? There are real lines in Las Vegas on the AAF?
Ahh, fuck it. Give me the San Diego Fleet +3 tonight versus San Antonio.
Note: Follow the Facebook discussion on this topic here:
Can’t stop the madness: Crazed lunacy or revelation? You decide.
 I don’t want to come across as being too judgmental, but some people disgust me just by what they order to eat.
 Why is it when I deal with Scandinavian people, they speak and write English — which is their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th language — far better than most Americans?
 Three Important Facts of Life: 1. Barbecue is meant to be served in giant portions. 2. Rock n’ roll is meant to be played really loud. 3. Anyone who serves wine at room temperature shouldn’t be allowed to serve wine.
 True Story of What Happened Last Sunday at a Casino Super Bowl Party in Las Vegas: A customer became so outraged at being charged $8 for a hot dog that he slapped the vendor. That’s just wrong. Next time, use the entire fist.
 Eugene Levy is the John Cazale of comedy. Everything he appears in is good just because he’s in it.
 I’m proud of myself. This week, I stepped onto the treadmill four times. Now, if I could just figure out where the button is to turn the damn thing on.
 If a homeless man somehow gets elected to the House, does that mean he’s not homeless anymore?
 If binge drinking causes short-term memory loss, what does binge drinking do?
 Bible people believe that all women on earth originated from a man’s single rib. Does that mean there’d now be 12 women for every man if he’d forked over a full slab?
 How do you stop eating salsa and chips at the Tex-Mex place whatever comes first — they run out or you die?
 Meditation is 50 percent telling your brain to shut up; 30 percent trying to recall which day was your dentist appointment; 15 percent trying to remember who co-starred with Michael Keaton in Night Shift; and 5 percent actually meditating.
 If I blurt out what kinky sex acts I want to do with Alexa, will she think I’m a pervert?
 When he dies, if Sheldon Adelson decides to get cryogenically frozen, will anyone notice he’s deceased?
 Just once, I’d like to pick the right checkout line at the grocery store.
 I can’t watch Family Feud anymore. Last time I turned it on, the answers were so bad I wanted to punch out both families.
 My goal this year is to get completely out of debt. Now, if someone can just lend me $230,oo0 I’ll be all set.
 Who the fuck wears white tennis shoes? Seriously.
 Quit bitching, fellow liberals. We should all be thrilled the dufus in the White House is working only 3 hours a day. Imagine the damage he’d do if he was both incompetent and hard-working.
 So far, one of the great accomplishments of my life is not being able to name one song or lyric by Kanye West.
 I find comparisons between Trump and Hitler to hysterically inaccurate. Take just a couple of differences. Hitler was reasonably smart, loyal to his country, loved animals, and faithful to his wife.
If you could go back in time and witness any 24-hour period in world history, what event would you choose?
I’m offering you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Here’s the deal.
You are about to travel back in time. You get to pick any 24-hour period in history and witness what happened. Think of what this means. This is your one and only chance to satisfy any curiosity, observe a monumental historical event, or perhaps solve a great mystery.
So — which event would you choose to experience, and why?
This is the topic of a new Facebook discussion group I created, called “An Unconventional Convention.” A few times each week, different questions are asked on Facebook and readers respond. Although only three questions have been asked so far, more than 300 replies have been posted Many answers we far more intriguing than anyone might have expected.
Today’s question is on a serious topic. Accordingly, here are a few helpful hints: You might choose to witness an epic moment in history. Perhaps you’d like to experience a past religious event or spiritual revelation. Maybe you’ll select a scientific breakthrough or moment of great discovery. Or, you could opt for a more personal experience in your life, or perhaps a family-related event that’s meaningful. You hold the key to pass through any closed door. There are no wrong answers.
Let’s agree to some rules: You must remain on the earth. The time span allowed is any 24-hour period since the world began. You cannot travel into the future. While you observe, you will not participate or be noticed in any way. You cannot alter the course of history. You are prohibited from profiting from your time travel. For instance, you can’t return to the present and write a book or go around giving TED talks, afterward. You are given the opportunity to bear witness purely for your own knowledge, amusement, and satisfaction.
Click the link below to respond and/or to read the responses from other readers.
This should be both fun and interesting.
By the way, I still haven’t made up my mind what I’m going to post and how I will answer. This is a really tough question.
57 Things You Don’t Know About Me (and May Not Care) on the Glorious Occasion of My 57th Birthday
Writer’s Note: Time now for another self-indulgent article on the special occasion of my 57th birthday. This column has become an annual tradition for me. If you can spare a little generosity to help keep this website going and allow me to pay my webmaster Ernst Dieter Martin a few bucks for all his hard work, I would be most grateful. Please click the CONTRIBUTE button to the right side if you care to lend your support. If not, then please enjoy anyways. I have lots of new exciting projects coming up in the weeks and months ahead. Thanks for reading.
Two race-based controversies exploded over this past weekend.
Ralph Northam, well on his way to being the ex-Governor of Virginia, is getting skewered for some racially-charged acts which (allegedly) took place 35 years ago. He’s also badly bungled the fallout in two baffling press conferences which were intended to restore confidence but did quite the opposite. In an astonishing contradiction, speaking in his own defense Gov. Northam did far more harm than good when he backtracked from his previous statement. Now, the Democrat is under severe pressure from several lawmakers, including members of his own party, to resign and basically disappear from the political scene altogether.
Meanwhile, across the country, comedian Bill Maher, star of HBO’s popular weekly comedy-talk show Real Time, is in serious trouble (again) for making an off-hand joke about a chicken franchise during a live sit-down interview with a Black congressman from Texas. Maher was on camera talking to Rep. Will Hurd when he tried to lighten up what had been a serious interview by making reference to Popeye’s Fried Chicken.
Though unrelated, the two recent controversies have plunged the nation into another heated racial divide. These scandals resurrect important questions about political correctness — and specifically who it applies to and when it’s applicable. Given the racial insensitivity commonly associated with the political right, these incidents were unusual since Gov. Northam and Maher are on the left of the spectrum. That assessment is indeed accurate. Gov. Northam is the top Democratic officeholder in a purple state. Maher, while overtly libertarian on many issues, has drifted decidedly towards the left in recent years, especially since Donald Trump’s election.
Should the same standards of behavior and a similar level of criticism apply equally to both men? Aside from being racially charged, are these two cases similar? Should punishments apply to both?
Barring the unforeseen, 2018 will be my fifth winning season out of seven. Since I began posting weekly picks here at my website, I’m slightly ahead. I’ll post the updated figures later. All I know is, after more than 1,000 picks posted in advance since 2012, producing a profit is something to be proud of. A win is a win.
This season, after 136 recommended wagers, I’ve picked about 55 percent winners overall, netting a nice profit of about 48 percent on top of my original starting bankroll. However, my futures wagers tanked badly this season, reducing my net profit to only about 15 percent overall. Nonetheless, I will take a 15 percent return on investment anytime I can get it.
Social media isn’t as constructive as it can be and should be. Here’s one small way I thought of towards making it better.
Imagine a forum where people of many different backgrounds come together to express, share, enjoy, reflect, discuss, and ponder the widest range of thoughts.
This is a new social group on Facebook. Anyone can participate. Some topics, most chosen by me, will be light and fun. Others will be far more serious. The only rules which apply will be my rules, which will be strictly enforced. No insults or ridicule is permitted. No memes. Just straightforward and hopefully honest comments.
Lady Gaga arrives in Las Vegas at the perfect moment for both the city and its newest star. Let’s hope she shakes things up.
Lady Gaga seems intent on being all things to all people, and if her previous track record of success is an indication, she might very well have the gravitas to pull off what would be impossible for anyone lesser.
No singer-songwriter-performer-actress-influencer-icon on the planet is hotter at the moment. So, it came as quite a shock to find out Lady Gaga is making Las Vegas her temporary residency. Let’s be honest here — the Las Vegas Strip isn’t the usual first choice for a performer who could sell out any football stadium in the world within mere hours.
Indeed, casino showrooms have typically been the last whistle-stop before being tossed into the heap of the CD bin at the discount dollar store. It’s where once-great but now-old performers go to die; it’s where one-hit wonders come to make one last fat paycheck before retiring and fading off into artistic oblivion. Sure, most headliners make Las Vegas a mandatory concert stop on any national tour. But the prospect of doing dozens, perhaps even hundreds of nightly shows isn’t just excruciatingly repetitive for cutting edge performers. It’s always been a dead end. For just about everyone here who’s turned into Wayne Newton, it’s been a set of golden handcuffs — lots of sweet guaranteed money, but with a heavy price. Las Vegas has always been a creative graveyard.