Thursday, August 30, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

TB +100

Baltimore's bullpen has been decimated the last two games against the Devil Rays, and there's a clear lack of fresh arms there. Kazmir has pitched solidly all year while Guthrie's shown some signs of fatigue of late compared to his pitching earlier in the season. I would have thought that Tampa would be favored in this one.

Running total: +1455
Record: 23-9

I've been real busy as I have only one week left in Hong Kong. Just wanted to sneak this one in, so it'll probably lose. That's just how the gambling gods are.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lunching in Central District

Hong Kong is a place where people try to follow the newest trend, and when a place becomes popular, "everyone" must go there. So with this in mind, I made the short trek over to Gough St a couple of streets up (literally, you can walk up stairs) from Queens Road Central to hit the famous Kau Kee Restaurant (九 記 牛 腩 ) for its famous brisket and the dai pai dong opposite it. A dai pai dong (you can also find a description on wikipedia) is a large outdoor food stall that has tables and chairs set up. They either have a minimal kitchen or just cook using LPG (liquified petroleum gas). Most of these places serve simple food similar to Hong Kong style cafes (see wikipedia under "cha chaan teng") but generally in a less relaxing and tidy atmosphere. This one that I went to (勝香園) is famous for its tomato soup base.

So the trip began at Kau Kee, where the place opens at 12:30 for the lunch crowd but at 12:25 there's already a line about 20-30 people long. The place has two floors though and ample seating to handle the rush. The menu is limited to clear soup brisket (清 湯 腩 ) over your choice of noodles or a curry soup brisket and tendon combo over noodles, along with the usual drinks on offer in Hong Kong and one choice of vegetable. The house specialties are the two areas of the brisket that are most favored by Hong Kong eaters, one being more tender and flavorful (坑 腩 ) and the other the part with a little more bite and chewiness to the texture (爽 腩 ). Unfortunately, when I got there they had neither available so I settled for the regular noodle bowls. We ordered one bowl each of the clear soup and the curry with e-fu noodles (flat chinese egg noodles). Both broths were flavorful and the curry had just the right amount of kick. The noodles were cooked well and the brisket was tender. The portions seemed small however (or perhaps it was just the bowls) but the prices were reasonable at HK$25 = US$3.25 each. What really is amazing about the place is the efficiency of the service. I sat upstairs where there were about 7 tables with about 6 people on each, and the two waiters were able to memorize all of our orders. Nobody wrote down anything. When the tables were filled they gave the orders to the manager/server who called them in through a walkie-talkie and everything was brought back upstairs in waves. The waiters were friendly and understood that even though this was a popular lunch place for those nearby, they still had plenty of visitors and tourists who had questions.

The good thing about the smaller bowls was that we could immediately go across the street to the dai pai dong to sample the food there. There were a lot of tables and after waiting for a few minutes our seats opened up. Pretty much standard across dai pai dongs is the need to share your table with strangers. Essentially wherever you can grab a chair and fit onto the table you can sit and eat there. It really was out in the open on the street and they set up a few poles attached with some plastic sheets to shield the diners from the sun. I wouldn't know what to do if I was mid-meal and heavy rain came. The menu here consists of Hong Kong style variations of toast, and the signature tomato soup base with your choice of pasta (elbow macaroni or instant ramen) with your choice of toppings (beef, luncheon meat (think spam), ham, eggs fried or scrambled, etc.). So in addition to drinking Hong Kong style milk tea (奶 茶), we ordered a combo toast and one bowl of macaroni with luncheon meat, beef, and a fried egg. The combo toast seemed more like a brioche style bread and had that yellow color with some raisins and came with a slather of peanut butter, jam, and condensed milk on top. The macaroni came in a large bowl all red with the tomato soup with some fresh tomato on top. The flavor was actually quite wonderful. It was more soupy than gazpacho but without that overly condensed texture either. It was more of a Chinese style soup than a western style soup. The tomato on top gave it a sourness that was just enough to make you feel the freshness without asking for salt. Because we had already eaten across the street, we split one bowl which was plenty but definitely left not one drop of the soup.

With regards to a final verdict, I'd have to say that if I was working in the area I'd definitely frequent either place for lunch often. As far as being a visitor/tourist and making the trek and waiting in line, I'd also suggest that people try it at least once. However, I'm more likely to return for the tomato soup than the brisket, but that could be because I didn't get to have the specialty brisket. While they wouldn't allow it during the busy lunch hour, after 3pm the dai pai dong allows you to bring takeout from the nearby places (including the brisket place) so you can try both in one sitting. Also, this being a prime Central location, there are many OLs eating there (OL stands for office lady, an originally Japanese term meant to describe female office workers who tend to work in a secretarial or clerical capacity), and so for a guy like my former coworker, a certain Mr. Noise--, this might be prime hunting ground.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Under 8.5

Carmona's been amazing and even though the Cleveland offense broke out again yesterday, Gil Meche is a very formidable pitcher. This just lines up like a lot of the unders that I've been taking. I don't even need to explain it much.

Running total: +1355
Record: 22-9

Saturday, August 25, 2007


PIT +100

The Pirates have been hitting the ball well of late and have won 7 of their last 9. The Astros on the other hand, have been going in the opposite direction and have lost 7 of their last 10. Matt Morris finally pitched a good game last time out, showing signs of his early season form and the reason why Pittsburgh traded for him at the deadline. Houston counters with a rookie brought up for his major league debut. Patton's numbers in the minors don't look particularly impressive and it seems like he's had trouble adjusting every time he takes a step up the ladder. I just don't understand why Pittsburgh is an underdog here.

Running total: +1255
Record: 21-9

Dinner at Bo Innovation

I stumbled upon this place from my usual online foodie forum searches. The chef began as one of those "private home kitchen" chefs where they're not licensed and you go up to a residential apartment (called flat here) to have your meal. I guess he's since found the funding to open a real restaurant and in a nice location too. The place does Chinese fusion and it seems more of a focus on chinese dishes with western ingredients and methods than the other way around, which is the more common and easier approach. On the business card it reads X-treme cuisine chinese.

Atmosphere: Decent atmosphere and setting. Most of the color scheme is dark and the place is mostly dimly lit, with the majority of the lighting to the rear of the restaurant near the wall. It's not a very large room as there is one large round table that can seat about 10 and about 4-5 smaller tables that can seat 4-6.

Service: Servers were attentive enough and replaced silverware after every course. The male server seemed to only speak English as he was describing the dishes but his English was not that good to begin with. There was a manager who kept going from table to table excitedly describing the dishes and how the chef is trying to be innovative in his cuisine.

Food: Ended up choosing the Chef's menu which ended up being 11 courses including the dessert course and the first course which almost could have been an amuse but I didn't think served that purpose.

Oyster tofu with ikura: A very good starter that showcased the chef's talents quite well. A small cube of tofu with a sea taste of the oyster went really well with the salty ikura. The smooth texture of the tofu also was a good contrast to the small bursting sacs of salmon roe.

Scallop with braised vermicelli in porcini essence: The vermicelli was delicious and the porcini flavor really came out. The piece of scallop was very ordinary and I think this dish suffered from an identity crisis. If the scallop was the center of attention then there needed to be a bigger and better piece of it. If the vermicelli was the center of attention then perhaps dicing the scallop and mixing it in would give the overall dish a better texture feel.

Duet of sashimi: Very disappointing. The fish was sliced relatively thin and lacked real sashimi flavor. One piece was a salmon done in the preservation style of Chinese sausage (臘腸) and it really had that kind of taste to it but I wasn't a fan of it. The other piece was yellowtail with a mild sesame sauce but overall it seemed bland to me.

Macau crab souffle: Basically a dish of crab meat, egg whites, and a flavorful Chinese vinegar. Similar to a Chinese dish I'm quite familiar with, the only twist seems to be the souffle presentation. However, it didn't have that souffle texture that I'm used to so I'd call it a failure in that sense.

Sweet organic garlic ravioli: This was a dish that was a success on many levels, but for me just missed one simple piece. It consisted of a wonton with a sweet garlic puree filling on a small bed of sweetened whelk (marine snail) and topped with a salty duck egg foam and curry oil. The salty and sweet flavors mixed terrifically and the texture contrasts were divine from the chewy whelk to the foam and oil. However, I think the wonton was not good for this dish and if he had used an actual ravioli with some bite in it the texture contrast would have been even better. But flavor-wise it had great depth.

Slow cooked cod: The color of this thing was quite interesting with the beetroot miso sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly and the sauce had just the right amount of sweetness (I had too much sauce on mine and had to spoon some off). I asked if it was done sous-vide but the enthusiastic manager guy didn't really seem to know but i think we determined that it wasn't.

Pan-fried foie gras: A pretty decent sized piece of foie gras that came with a lotus seed foam and a fresh pineapple crisp. The lotus seed foam did nothing for me but the pineapple's sweet and sourness helped cut into the foie gras.

Chicken two ways: A medallion of roasted French chicken along with a more inventive chicken and mushroom and bamboo shoots wrapped and cooked in lotus leaf all accompanied by a garlic glutinous rice ball. Tasty and simple, a good juxtaposition of east and west interpretations of chicken.

Beef tenderloin with rice paste rolls (腸粉): Simple cooked beef tenderloin with rice paste rolls with a sprinkling of truffle on top. Yet again the actual cooking of all the meats during this meal was spot-on.

Shrimp tartare over cold udon: This wasn't really a tartare as nothing was finely chopped. It was basically two pieces of what looked like amaebi served over cold noodles with a peanut sauce. The textures just weren't right for me and the taste was bland. I don't know what he was aiming for with this cold dish at the end but it seemed a disappointing ending.

Trio of dessert: An apple dumpling done in a har gao (蝦餃) wrap, jasmine flavored creme brulee, and preserved plum ice cream. I enjoyed all three of the desserts, and each one had a really strong taste of the featured flavor. Good ending to a nice meal of 11 courses.
Chef's table: On the way out i noticed that they have a chef's table in the kitchen. It literally is a bar set up right on the edge of the kitchen's hot plate. Seems interesting. Might be worth a try.

Doing nothing in Hong Kong

I've been here for just over a week now, and I pretty much haven't done anything. I think the reason for the lethargy is that while I had planned to relax for two weeks before coming here, I ended up having a really hectic time with all the moving, and I just want to do nothing now. It could also be the weather, which is really muggy being all hot and humid. You know how people say that in Arizona or Las Vegas the temperatures are ridiculous but at least it's dry heat? I can see the argument for living in that desert compared to this. That and what I read about the major cities in Arizona having the largest number of breast implants per capita.

Besides lounging around, however, I've also spent time seeing relatives and some old friends. But everyone is so busy working here that I end up only being able to catch them at lunch, and then I have about 6 hours to kill before dinner. Thank goodness Hong Kong is still filled with video game arcades, a concept that's been pretty much dead in the states. Depending on how old or new the games you want to play are, US$5 can last you anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Another great timekiller is the ubiquitous Starbucks, although I did notice the other day there was a McCafe at a McDonalds. It seems to only be a Hong Kong thing at the moment, but who knows?

Yes well then there's the food. Hong Kong is famous for its large variety of great food options as well as its large range in costs for these food items. For example, I've eaten at a Chinese fusion restaurant named Bo Innovation (review coming soon) where the chef's menu was about US$115 per person as well as a nearby congee place where I got an order of congee (皮蛋瘦肉粥), fried noodles (炒麵), and fried dough (炸兩) all for HK$17 = US$2.25. The congee place was tasty and really cheap even by Hong Kong standards, but I would strongly advise against the seat where you can glance into the kitchen. I've also strolled past the L'atelier de Joel Robuchon at Landmark in Hong Kong and the place is huge. The costs are relatively similar to the one in New York, with the menu decouverte at HK$1450 = US$185.

I haven't met anyone new since I've been back as I've barely had time to catch up with all the old schoolmates and acquaintances. I don't like going stag to bars or clubs and all my friends here are either engaged, don't go out often, or don't quite understand the concept of a wingman or TOFTT. Maybe I should try out the Mystery method. The book (The Game by Neil Strauss) was pretty good although I stopped about halfway, but the show (The Pickup Artist on VH1) looked horrible.

Next week is the big annual bridge tournament in Hong Kong, so I'll be there for most of the week filling in that time between lunch and dinner. I'm sorry if people were hoping for exciting stories about Hong Kong but there's still time for things to pick up the pace I guess.

Friday, August 24, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

Under 9

Tampa's three young pitchers (Kazmir, Jackson, and Shields) have all been pitching really well of late. Shields has a streak of 4 consecutive quality starts going into this one. For Oakland, Lenny Dinardo has actually pitched quite well since being made a starter. His overall ERA for the season is 3.13. Even though Oakland appears to be on a roll with their offense lately, they've spent most of the season struggling at the plate and Tampa's really been struggling of late offensively.

Running record: +1375
Record: 21-8

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Under 10

Both Carmona and Sabathia have pitched phenomenally for the Indians in each of their last 4 outings but have very few wins to show for it because Cleveland just can't score many runs. Detroit's bats have also been quiet compared to the high scoring offense we saw earlier in the season. The only unknown here is Jurrjens, who pitched decently against the Indians in his debut last time out. 10 runs still seems like a lot.

Under 8.5

The Nationals rank last in the majors in many team offensive categories while Houston hasn't scored more than 3 runs in each of their last 6 games. Carlos Lee playing hurt probably won't help that either. On the mound for Houston is Wandy Rodriguez, whose amazing home-road splits I've mentioned a couple of times already. Pitching for the Nationals is Joel Hanrahan who has pitched decently in limited work this season.

Running record: +1385
Record: 20-7

Monday, August 20, 2007


Under 8.5

This is a case of historically good matchups. In the past 3 years, Kazmir has been 5-2 with a 2.6 ERA against Boston. Wakefield has been just as impressive in that period of time, going 7-1 with a 3.04 ERA. Just less than a week ago, both these pitchers pitched against the same teams, with Wakefield pitching 8 innings of 2-hit ball while Kazmir held the Red Sox scoreless for 6 innings. Runs could be hard to come by in this one.

Running record: +1285
Record: 19-7

Of course for the game where I thought the line was wrong Harang had his worst outing of the season. It's quite amazing how good the linesmakers are. However, Milwaukee is in such a slump that they managed to blow the early 5 run lead and then the late 1 run lead. But even though I recommended two picks and they both won, there was certainly plenty of drama as yet again David Weathers was having some trouble with the save and Borowski managed to blow his save while also not allowing the winning run (which would've have ended in a win right there).

My record right now looks like the win-loss record of a Cy Young winner (at least of the last few seasons). But it's actually an interesting race in the national league now that Brandon Webb (13-8) is on his streak. He's not unhittable in the same way that Jake Peavy is unhittable, but batters just can't seem to make good contact against his pitches. He actually is tied for 2nd in the league in strikeouts (which is a feat for a sinkerball pitcher) but most of that is due to the fact that he has pitched a lot more innings than the other top 5 guys.

So why does it seem to me that the sinkerball doesn't get as much attention as it deserves? Think of some of the current pitchers with a great sinking fastball: Halladay, Webb, Wang, Lowe, etc. They are workhorses who deliver a lot of innings because their pitch counts remain low. If a guy like Derek Lowe got the run support of a team like the Yankees, he'd be a 17-7 type pitcher too. Seems to me that if I ran a team I'd be looking for a good sinkerballer to anchor my staff.

Lastly, here is an absolutely fantastic article from Covers about betting on umpires in baseball. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

CIN -105

This line is so scary good value that I'm wondering what it is Vegas knows that I don't. Here's what I know. Since starting the season 5-0 with 2 no decisions, the Brewers have lost the last 15 games that Capuano has started. Of those 15 games, the Brewers were favored in 11 of them and Capuano's job in the starting rotation is essentially on the line in this outing. Harang, meanwhile, has been solid all season and yet has been a consistently good value the whole time. I've been on the Harang bandwagon for a while now and there's nothing that indicates to me it's time to get off yet.

Under 8.5

Even though the Indians broke out with 8 runs yesterday, I'm not ready to say that their bats are completely back yet. This quality pitching matchup along with both teams' uninspiring offenses make this over/under a good value still, even though it is a full 2 runs below the over/under for the same two teams two nights ago.

Running record: +1085
Record: 17-7

The three teams that I have followed and recommended most consistently and successfully this season have been the Indians, Dodgers, and Reds. I tend to only choose the Reds when Harang is pitching, but the Indians and Dodgers actually have a lot in common this season. Both have very strong consistent staffs (Carmona, Sabathia, Byrd for Cleveland and Penny, Billingsley, Wolf, and Lowe for L.A.) and capable offenses that run in very prolonged streaks. As the season winds down, I can only hope there will be other teams with similar characteristics that I can identify next season. The only problem so far with recommending Indians and Reds games has been having to sit through the excruciating torture that is watching Borowski and David Weathers try to "save" games. They somehow get it done but it's never easy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

RDT (Random daily thought)

Thoughts while in the air for 16 hours...

Got a chicken salad sandwich right before getting on the plane. Absolutely awful texture that I've never had before. I can understand if it's not a very chunky chicken salad, but whose idea was it to make a minced chicken salad? Yuck

I thought they banned silverware on flights as a safety measure. I don't know when they brought back these real knives, but without it I wouldn't have been able to cut through the "sirloin steak" which was tough as cardboard. My alternative was salmon "enhanced with imperial soy sauce". No thanks. At least the brownie was good. I ended up having 4 of them.

Later came the snack which was a processed chicken patty sandwich (hot) with a package of Hellman's mayonnaise (room temperature) and a small container of Haagen-daz vanilla (still cold, but does this mean I should eat the ice cream first?). Got seconds of both. Glad to see that with the 4 digit ticket prices the airline decided to reward us by splurging for Haagen-daz.

I haven't been on a flight in almost 4 years, let alone a 16 hour international flight. Saw individual touch-screen entertainment for the first time. Lots of movies, but none of them recent. Games were awful. Ended up watching the first season of 30 Rock that I bought for my video ipod until the batteries died. Then I realized the seats had outlets even in economy. I'm way behind the times. 30 Rock was hilarious by the way, but I don't think there will be enough episodes left on the way back. What should I watch on the flight back? All 3 Lord of the Rings? All 3 Godfathers? I wish they had all 7 Rockys.


Under 10.5

Even though Edwin Jackson's record is still 3-11, he's pitched really well his last three outings, against offenses better than these struggling Indians. Paul Byrd, on the other hand, got rocked in his last outing, but that was against the streaking Yankees. Otherwise, he has pitched very consistently this season. 10.5 just seems like a lot of runs with the Indians still struggling.

Running record: +985
Record: 16-7

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I'm leaving tomorrow for a 3 week vacation to Hong Kong. It's been 4 years since I've been back, and since Hong Kong is a trend-crazed city, I'll be so out of the loop.
All my moving is finally done, and hopefully I'll finally get that rest that I was originally hoping for when I quit my job two weeks ago.
I'm pretty sure I'll keep posting my baseball VBOTDs and an occasional RDT, but I'm not sure if I'll post any restaurant reviews for Hong Kong.
Y'all have a happy August and Labor Day!!

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

NYM -145

John Maine has been rocked his last two starts, but one of them was against Atlanta which has been an offensive juggernaut of late. Maine also hasn't had 3 consecutive bad starts all season and his splits indicate that he pitches better at night and on the road. The Mets bats are starting to wake up again, and that's not going to be good news for Matt Morris, who has only given up less than 4 earned runs once in his last 10 starts.

Running record: +885
Record: 15-7

The Reds outhit the Cubs 16 to 5 and still needed to survive two warning track blasts in the 9th to just barely close out the game. Scary. What's even scarier was having the under in the Detroit-Cleveland game and watching Detroit put up 4 in the top of the 10th. It needed a great tag from Victor Martinez and Todd Jones somehow managing to give up no runs with second and third 1 out to preserve the under. I really have to start rethinking these unders with the way bullpens have been blowing it of late.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


CIN +135

Another great pitching matchup today between Harang and Zambrano. The Cubs have been struggling on offense, having only scored more than 3 runs 3 times in their last 10 games. As demonstrated by the recent play of the Dodgers, struggling offenses can go on for a while. Zambrano hasn't been particularly good at home, and was shelled last time out at Houston. Overall, +135 is always a good value for an excellent pitcher going against a struggling team.

Running record: +750
Record: 14-7

Monday, August 13, 2007


Over 7

I love taking unders when two dominant starting pitchers take the mound, but 7 is a little ridiculous. 7 is pretty much as low as Vegas will go for baseball over/unders, and these two pitchers haven't been hot enough to warrant that number. Sure Minnesota is still struggling on offense, but Seattle's been hitting the ball well of late.

Running record: +750
Record: 14-7

Lost another game because of 6 runs scored in the last 2 innings. This time I had Arizona last night against Washington. Even though my Padres-Reds recommendation clearly missed, there were still 4 runs scored in the 9th. Maybe as we're approaching the final quarter of the season the wear and tear on the bullpens is finally showing through.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Flipping through the channels Thursday night I caught Tay Zonday's live performance of "Chocolate Rain". For those who don't know, he's another one of those Youtube sensations with a catchy song, incomprehensible lyrics (from listening to the song, the actual lyrics are quite deep), and a weird sound and look.

This combination, reminded me of the greatest unsolved mystery of my youth generation. WTF does "A licky boom boom down" mean? I have searched on Google and I can't seem to find an answer. There are sites with the whole song's lyrics, but there's no explanation of that line in the chorus. For those who didn't follow music in the early 90's, the song is called Informer and was sung by Snow, a white canadian reggae/rap musician. This song was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 consecutive weeks back in 1993. Even with the lyrics in front of you it takes a while to piece it together. Try it for yourself it's on Youtube.


Under 8.5

After a short stretch of not being as dominant, Peavy has returned to being nearly unhittable again, giving up 1 run in his last 20 innings. As can be seen by Brandon Webb's streak, when these guys get it going, they can be unhittable for quite a while. As for Arroyo, don't let his 5-12 record fool you. Except for a stretch where he got bashed in 5 of 6 consecutive games, he's actually pitched 14 quality starts out of the remaining 18 other games he started.

Running total: +860
Record: 14-6

This curse that I feel I've been under lately has finally reached into my baseball bets. Everything went as predicted in the Milwaukee-Houston game with Wandy pitching another gem at home and Suppan being fresh enough that he ended up with a 125 pitch outing. But then Houston's bullpen completely blew up by allowing 6 runs in the last 2 innings. This came right after I had the under in the Baltimore-Boston game on Friday where it was 1-0 after 7 innings and then 9 runs were scored in the 8th.

Another game to look at is the Dodgers at St. Louis. The Dodgers continue to not be able to hit, and it looks like both Garciaparra and Martin may be out for a rest. I don't think that's going to help their struggling offense. The only reason I don't completely recommend this game is that both pitchers are weak and anything can happen.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

Under 9.5

As previously mentioned, Wandy Rodriguez has some of the most amazing splits in baseball. 1-8 with an 8.16 ERA on the road while 6-2 with a 1.69 ERA at home. In his last 5 home outings, Wandy has gone at least 7 innings and has given up no more than 1 run. Suppan, meanwhile, started the season off very strongly and continues to pitch decently, though I don't quite understand why he gets pulled so early in games. He only ended up pitching 83 pitches last time out, so he should be fresh. Neither team has been crushing it with the bats so 9.5 looks like a lot of runs.

Running total: 970
Record: 14-5

Friday, August 10, 2007

RDT (Random daily thought)

I'm Chinese and a gambler. I am naturally superstitious. But seriously, it's felt like I've been under a curse ever since I quit my job.
I had the food poisoning/illness which finally ended after 40 hours of agony.
I was kicked out of my place by my landlord leaving me with 2 weeks to move.
The new place I found is a block away from a huge cemetary.
Last night in the apartment building right across from the front door of my new place, a fire broke out and one kid was killed (I think there were like 10 people living in the apartment).
My landlord now requires that we (which means me) clean out the whole place and all move out before she'll give me my deposit back. So the earliest I see any money will be after I come back.

When I go back to Hong Kong I will definitely give a good number of offerings to the large number of "gods" there.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Why has Drew Carey become relevant again?

First I heard that he's the new host of The Price is Right. Then yesterday I saw him host a brand new game show on CBS called Power of 10.

With regards to The Price is Right, I've been watching more of it now that I quit my job. Reminds me of sick days at home as a kid. The Price is Right was always the thing to watch. But I can't imagine an old Drew Carey as the host. I always picture old game show hosts as bony and Skeletor-like (another reference from my childhood).

As for the Power of 10, their questions are based on survey responses like family feud. The difference is that the answers are multiple choice and the contestant has to guess the percentage range of respondents who picked a specific answer. To me, that's practically a random guess. As for gameplay, the risk/reward for answering the next question is always favorable for going on until the 10 million dollar question. After winning $1 million, the last question asks the exact percentage which is absolutely completely random and noone would attempt something so suicidal. At least in "Are you smarter than a 5th grader", I'd take a shot at the million dollar question if the subject was math. This one is just ridiculous. Noone will even attempt the 10 million dollars, let alone win it.


Under 9

The Dodgers' offense has been abysmal, including getting shut out in 3 of their last 4 games. Billingsley has pitched very well every other start, often going deep. Harang, on the other hand, is making his first start since getting pulled for lower back soreness. That's a bit of a concern, but should be offset by the Dodgers' offensive woes.

Running total: 870
Record: 13-5

I guess I should have put more faith into that Arizona bet on Sunday. My only worry was Valverde and they didn't even need him. That game was Penny's 4th straight quality start that was 3 runs over 6-7 innings, which while still spectacular is a dip from his pre-allstar form. That may be something to consider for the rest of the season.

Two honorable mentions for today include under 8.5 for Cleveland at White Sox and under 8.5 for Yankees at Toronto. Garland is not the pitcher he was the previous two seasons, but aside from a few big blowups, he has still thrown 6 quality starts in his last 10. Sabathia's pitching has gotten back on track recently and the Indians haven't been hitting particularly well. As far as the Yankees game is concerned, both starters are top pitchers, but the Yankees have been averaging almost 8 runs a game since the all-star break and that makes the under hard to take when they're so hot.

Monday, August 6, 2007

RDT (Random daily thought)

Yesterday they were showing a "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" mini-marathon on BBC America in the afternoon, showing 4 of the episodes of the current season that have already aired. These are essentially the only 4 episodes that I've seen of the entire show, but I love it already. The closest thing to this show currently on US airwaves is Restaurant Makeover on the food network, but this show is much much better. It is not so much a food show as it is a show about the restaurant business, and it goes so much more in depth than any other show that I've seen.

You still get the charisma and charm of the profanity-laced tirades of chef Ramsay, but this show is so much better than "the F word" (another Ramsay show that was shown on BBC America which is a mess). More importantly, you get a lot of insight into running a restaurant and making it profitable, although it seems that he reuses the same themes a lot in how he tries to reengineer a restaurant. These include:

1. Survey the locals. Find out their complaints about the current restaurant, what they're looking for, and how much they're willing to pay for a meal.

2. Reengineer the produce selection to use more fresh local ingredients which will also happen to be cheaper.

3. Reengineer the menu so that it is easier for the chefs to produce the meals faster and with more consistency and efficiency. Plate presentation is kept minimal to also speed things along.

4. Reengineer the dining space so that the decor fits with the selected type of cuisine, and fit as many tables as possible while still allowing the diners to be comfortable. Frills and random lounge areas are not necessary.

5. Know your role. Each member of the staff has a job and shouldn't be meddling into the jobs of the others.

6. Communication between the members of the staff from inside to outside the kitchen to ensure the kitchen runs properly.

7. Big marketing/PR campaign, usually involving hitting the streets and meeting the locals. Create a buzz outside and inside the dining room.

Here are my thoughts on these themes:

1. A lot of these restaurants that they have chosen to "save" are actually businesses that should be making money but don't. They usually have a decent competitive advantage in terms of location or cuisine but are just run improperly. Most of these places do have "locals" who will probably comprise a large part of their sales. It's definitely not like running a restaurant in New York City I imagine.

2. Wholesale food really is quite cheap as it is, so the fresher it is the better. That being said, local produce will also be even cheaper than having any specially imported ingredients.

3. The easier and faster it is to push out food from the kitchen, the less the customers have to wait. But more importantly, it also means the more covers (customer seatings) you can do in a night. Again, none of these places offer a 9 course tasting menu. It's all about in and out.

4. Same thing as 3. Pack them in and get them out and pack them in again. But still make sure the customers are comfortable, and just get rid of unnecessary lounging areas that don't serve any money-making purpose (bar seating is great though).

5. I think "know your role" is important in any business, but it's especially important here because restaurant management usually includes 3 very type A personalities: owners, chefs, and managers. Having Ramsay do the role-assigning helps because he is very assertive and it's very hard not to respect him for what he has achieved for himself.

6. Communication is a key theme that he stresses both in this show and in Hell's Kitchen. While everyone has their role, there needs to be a glue to keep it all together and working efficiently. I think most businesses hire a middle manager for this role, but restaurants can't afford to add a random body just for that.

7. Well for sure Ramsay is a huge PR guy. He does have charisma and people often wonder how much of the profanity is put on for show. But it just goes to show that a little proper marketing goes a long way. Then again, it's probably a lot easier to get people's attention when you're walking around with a celebrity and a camera crew. Also important is maintaining the buzz inside the dining room, that after attracting the initial customers they feel that they want to return.

So armed with these 7 themes, couldn't I get a job as a restaurant management consultant? Seriously, every show ends up being some variation of these 7 themes. But it still makes for good TV anyway.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Under 8.5

Carmona has been dominating of late which is going to be bad news for Minnesota who have struggled offensively since the all-star break and have only scored 5 or more runs once in their last 10 games. Scott Baker has been consistently good and the Twins bullpen is very solid. 8.5 is about as low as the line can be set when both pitchers are not marquee names, but is still good value when the two pitchers on the mound can pitch like marquee names.

Running total: +770
Record: 12-5

Speaking of marquee pitching matchups, there are two today that should be fun to watch. Lackey against Haren in Oakland and Webb against Penny in LA. I was originally going to suggest that there was good value in getting Webb and Arizona at +115 as Arizona has been on a hot streak while the Dodgers have gone in the opposite direction. Penny's last 3 outings, while good, have not been as dominant as all those one run or fewer outings he posted earlier in the season. At the last moment I stayed off of recommending it because Valverde has already pitched two consecutive nights.

John Maine was out by the third inning yesterday but Lilly brought his A game and they managed to push the O/U at 8 with some great bullpen work by the Mets. That is why I like taking unders when both pitchers are capable of being dominant because if one screws up, the other can still hold the damage.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

Under 8

Another case of two possibly dominant pitchers. Both John Maine and Ted Lilly have pitched spectacularly this season. But what is most interesting about this line is that about 2 weeks ago there was a game at Wrigley with Roy Oswalt pitching against Ted Lilly. The O/U line for that game was 10. Does Vegas really think Oswalt is two runs worse than Maine or that Houston is 2 runs better than the Mets? The only rational explanation that was given was the fact that the wind was blowing out that day. And yet, Oswalt happened to have his worst career outing by giving up 8 earned runs. Sometimes, Vegas just knows. And with Vegas knowing, 8 is a pretty good value number if either of these pitchers bring their A game.

Running total: +770
Record: 12-5

RDT (Random daily thought)

I use for a lot of my research. It's a great site for sports bettors and sports statisticians, although it mostly concentrates on American sports and does not have as much on horse racing as I would like. I also read it for some interesting articles about the sports betting world, with the most recent being the Donaghy NBA scandal .

But another betting scandal has just occurred that seems to have caught major attention in the non-American gambling world. It has to do with tennis and the transactions that go on at Betfair.

Betfair is arguably the world's largest betting exchange, where there is no set bookie, but rather people set their own lines and place their bids and offers like any stock market or stock exchange. Other similar sites include tradesports (which I used to use) and intrade (which focuses more on bets on current events, entertainment, financials). I'd heard of Betfair because I'm a huge horse racing fan and Betfair has a major impact on the global totes and crossing markets. But I did not know that they supposedy process 50 million pounds in bets a week. At a 5% commission off winning bets that's a pretty healthy business. All this without taking in a single US dollar. They do not take US accounts, as by US law internet gambling is illegal. Some of the other betting exchanges fight this by saying that it is an exchange with no bookie and that it is skill and does not constitute gambling. It's a similar argument to the online poker thing and I really don't want to get into that any more.

But seriously, tennis? According to a different article I read (which I can't find to post here), 7 million dollars worth of bets were exchanged (and subsequently returned by Betfair's decision)on that tennis match. 7 million? Just goes to show that you can bet on anything in this world, and there are plenty of people willing to take your action. And where there's a lot of money involved, there's always someone who will try to do something crooked.

Edit before posting:

I just found that there is a which has more british sports (soccer). Also, does anyone know how to put in a clickable link that I can rename? I forgot all my html.

Busy busy busy

I originally thought that quitting my job would allow me to de-stress, sleep in, spend most of the day at the gym, and just be less frantic overall. Instead, with the threat of having to move, I've had to go walking all over Queens to find a new place, in the scorching heat while constantly still being dehyrated and recovering from the 40hr mess I suffered through earlier in the week (it continued for another day after I left the hospital before it got better). In the end, I settled on a place, which while being far from ideal, will work given the short amount of time I had, and hopefully will be temporary anyway if I get a new job soon enough. Now all I have to do is pack and then move, which is another completely bothersome chore. At least I'll probably do my packing for my trip while I'm at it.

The packing will probably take up most of my time, but I do plan to continue posting value bets as I see them. Since I'm on a diet of mostly noodle soups to rehydrate, there won't be any restaurant reviews for maybe another week at least, and my whole diet and exercise plan has been thrown out the window while I'm still trying to recover.

One would think that I would have lost a lot of weight with all that has exited my body, but that doesn't appear to be the case. The constant rehydration has kept my weight in line, and the sugars from the gatorade will probably turn into fat very soon with me not going to the gym at all. Speaking of which, what is it with all these rehydration drinks being so full of sugar? In my regular diet I've stopped drinking soda, and even avoid things with sugar substitutes. I mostly drink water. But since the doctors say that stuff like gatorade do a better job of rehydrating with the electrolytes, I've been drinking a good amount of that. But there's 16g/serving in gatorade, 15g/serving in powerade, and 13g/serving in vitamin water. I don't want it completely devoid of sugar (it might taste salty?) but I think those numbers are on the high side for something I'm drinking just for rehydration. Is there anything out there that would suit me more? In the meantime, I've just started to dilute the gatorade, and I think that'll do since I hope to be fully recovered in a week.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

VBOTD (Value bet of the day)

ATL -1.5 +135

Wandy Rodriguez has one of the most amazing splits for any pitcher this year, going 1-7 with a 7.42 ERA on the road while posting a 6-2 record at home with an ERA of 1.76. Buddy Carlyle on the other hand has pitched solid enough for his team to win a majority of his starts. The moneyline here is about -145, which is still good value considering yesterday's 12-4 Atlanta victory came with a -170 moneyline. However, the Atlanta bats have produced big time the last two games and if Wandy ends up being his usual on-the-road self, this could easily be a blowout and the runline looks more attractive.

Running total: +635
Record: 11-5