First Star – Carlos Lee (.097 WPA)
Second Star – Aramis Ramirez (.084 WPA)
Third Star – Hunter Pence (.079 WPA)

It was January 3, 1993. The Buffalo Bills hosted the Houston Oilers in the first round of the NFL playoffs. I don’t recall the dollar amount, but I confidently placed a bet (for recreational purposes only) on the “Run and Shoot” Oilers. You see, Jim Kelly was injured late in the regular season, which meant Frank Reich was playing QB for the Bills. Even Mother Nature was smiling on me that day. Buffalo in January usually meant bad news for visiting teams, but the game-time temperature was a balmy 40 degrees. This would be easy cash (pretend money of course).

To my delight the Oilers struck early and often, building a 32-point lead against the shell-shocked Bills. But a funny thing happened on the way to the bank. Reich led a record-breaking comeback in the final 20 minutes, forcing overtime. Houston won the coin toss but lost the game when Warren Moon threw a costly interception in the extra period. Steve Christie’s field goal iced the contest and emptied my wallet.

Seventeen years have passed, and I haven’t placed a wager since. However, if I felt like betting, the July 19th Cubs game would have qualified as a “no brainer.” Here’s how I saw it:

1) The Cubs just swiped three of four from the defending NL champion Phillies
2) Surprise ace Carlos Silva is on the hill for Lou Piniella’s squad
3) Tonight’s visitor is the lowly Houston Astros (37-55, -135 run differential)
4) Silva’s mound opponent is the struggling Wandy Rodriguez (6-11, 4.97 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
5) Houston slugger Carlos Lee is having the worst year of his career (.235, .282, .387)
6) There are 12 cold beers in my fridge

Now if that doesn’t say “the stars are aligned for a Cubs victory,” what does? Unfortunately, nobody mentioned my list to Brad Mills and the mighty Astros. Final score: Astros 11, Cubs 5. I found myself hoping for a rainout almost immediately. Instead, we got an unpleasant dose of Carlos Silva meatballs and spotty offense.

Ah, you can’t beat fun at the ol’ ballpark. What’s the line for tomorrow’s game?

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