I got my start in sports writing covering football. Specifically, covering the gambling side of football and fantasy football in the NFL.

I had been betting on football since high school. It was never a “get rich and retire” approach, but a “let me put $10 down on a few games, and maybe do a parlay as well and hopefully win a decent amount of money” approach. When I was a senior in college, I came up with a “system” to bet NFL games, which ended up winning 70% that season. That’s a ridiculously high amount, as professional bettors aim for 54%. It also got the attention of my first employer in this field, leading to me writing fantasy sports articles for Yahoo Sports, ESPN, USA Today, and other places.

The winning percentage didn’t stay at that crazy level, but it was always positive, thanks to outside information. I’d compare my picks to other simulated picks, and looking at games where the public was heavily on one side. I’d vet all of my system picks, aiming to eliminate any game that other simulations didn’t agree with, and eliminating any pick where the public was heavily on my side (Vegas doesn’t build large casinos from people getting rich betting football). The end result was a series of picks that were supported by multiple factors, which in theory leads to stronger picks.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a losing season betting on football, but again, I’m not aiming to break the bank. Just looking to add some enjoyment to watching the games, especially in college football where I never really had a team growing up.

I stopped betting for years while running this site, primarily because I stopped watching football. It didn’t make sense to do a ton of research on the betting trends once I took away one of the key reasons I was betting in the first place.

I got back into it last year in an attempt to get back into college football. My wife and her family are huge Auburn fans, and after getting in trouble for not going crazy over Auburn’s win over Alabama in 2017, I decided I needed to get back into my old routine of betting and finding a rooting interest in games.

I picked up where I left off with betting last year, and college football on Saturdays has been my routine this year. The betting side of it has allowed me to watch some really good games that I otherwise wouldn’t have been interested in, like last week’s BYU vs Tennessee matchup.

As sports betting becomes legal across the country, I know more and more people are getting into it. So every Saturday I’ll update this article with a section giving a few of my favorite picks, for anyone interested. I usually make my picks closer to the games, so expect that update around 11 each week.

And yes, I’m fully expecting to lose every pick now that this is the first week I’m making them public.

As for Pirates stuff, we’ll have some coverage today, and feel free to use the comments in this article for any discussion on any topic. But expect more off-topic First Pitch on the weekend, as in the past I didn’t even do weekend articles in the offseason, since there’s only so many topics you can discuss at this time of year.

TODAY’S PICKS

Here are the games I like the most today:

12:00 – Eastern Michigan +7.5

12:00 – Temple ML +176

3:00 – Akron ML +115

3:30 – BYU +4.5

7:00 – Middle Tennessee State University +6.5

For local games, I like the underdogs in the WVU (+7) and Pitt (+17.5) games.

SONG OF THE DAY

RIP Eddie Money. Take Me Home Tonight is one of my favorite 80s songs, and also one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I also can’t not think about Sandals Jamaica when hearing “Two Tickets to Paradise”, thanks to The Office.

DAILY QUIZ

That 2010 All-Star for the Pirates got me.


PIRATES HISTORY

By John Dreker

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the first baseman in the first game in franchise history. We start back in 1882 with Jake Goodman, who hit .317 in ten games with the Alleghenys. When Pittsburgh defeated Cincinnati back on May 2, 1882 in that first game, Goodman batted fifth. He was soon replaced at first base, despite the nice average. That was the end of his Major League career, with his only other playing time coming in 1878 for Milwaukee (NL).

Other players born on this date include four pitchers, three of them lefty relievers.

Jerry Don Gleaton, lefty reliever for the 1992 NL East champs. He had a 4.26 ERA in 31.2 innings over 23 appearances in his only season in Pittsburgh.

Frank Carpin, 1965 reliever. Another lefty with one season for the Pirates. Carpin had a 3.18 ERA in 39 games for the Pirates. He was taken by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft following the season.

Fred Green is the third lefty reliever and he stuck around a little longer. He was a member of the 1960 World Series champs, posting a 3.21 ERA in 70 innings. He pitched three times in the series and got hit hard, allowing ten runs in four innings. Green played for the Pirates from 1959 until 1961 and then again in 1964.

Don Williams, righty reliever. He pitched briefly for the Pirates in 1958 and 1959, posting a 6.75 ERA each season. He signed with the Pirates in 1953 and was sold to the White Sox during the 1961 season. He missed two years due to military service.

On this date in 1957, the Pirates split a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The interesting part about this day was that Eddie O’Brien, an infielder, made his only big league start in game one. He threw a complete game and allowed one run. In game two, his twin brother Johnny, who was also an infielder most of the time, took the loss as a reliever. Johnny pitched a total of 25 times over his six-year big league career. Here’s the boxscore from game one.

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