With all due respect to what could be a Finals preview Saturday night, we dedicate this week’s Weekend Tickets to baseball Phutures.
Indeed after the Phillies finally finalized a deal with Bryce Harper worth $330 million over 13 years, Philadelphia became a must-bet future for:
World Series champion (+600).
National League champion (+350).
Over win total (89.5).
While one player — even a potential MVP candidate — usually only makes a tempered impact on a team’s overall outlook, Harper is so good a fit that he propels the Phils into a must-take in all categories.
Harper suddenly balances a lineup that was right-handed dominant, especially from a power standpoint. Think about it. The Phils’ best lineup would have Andrew McCutcheon in the leadoff spot follow by the trio of Harper, new catcher J.T. Realamuto and young bopper Rhys Hoskins. Though the feeling is managed Gabe Kapler will likely bat him second, Harper could break up righties Realamuto and Hoskins.
The order then travels deep with new shortstop Jean Segura, speedy second baseman Carlos Hernandez, third baseman Maikel Franco — who will be devoid of pressure now and could possibly tap into his vast power potential — and Odubel Herrera, the streaky slasher.
Harper has already had tremendous success in his career at Citizen’s Bank Park while playing for the division rival Nats. As his home park now, Harper should be able to easily eclipse his career power numbers at the hitter friendly yard.
While the Phillies’ pitching staff is still a major question behind ace Aaron Nola (let’s see if Jake Arrieta) can be a two instead of a toilet), the Phils could still be in play for lefty Dallas Keuchel since Harper’s average per year number is just over $25 million.
And if not, the team does have an outstanding bullpen led by multi-inning weapons Seranthony and newcomer David Robertson.
The last time the Phillies won the World Series back in 2008 they did it with crooked numbers, one ace and a shutdown pen. The precedence has been set.
Load up for a bright Phuture.
A compelling game — rare must see television before the playoffs — occurs on Prime Time ABC between the Sixers and Warriors.
Philly won in Golden State a few weeks back, but the Warriors played without Klay Thompson. The scene has shifted to the Wells Fargo Center — where the Sixers play much better ball — but any hopes of a sweep depend on whether Joel Embiid is cleared to play.
Embiid has not been seen since the All Star Game. The Sixers struggle mightily without their big man and they will need him to get back into the lineup quickly to allow Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler to mesh with Ben Simmons, JJ Reddick and Embiid.
After falling to the Heat, we fear the champs will be out for blood revenge against the Sixers. Golden State is a play, as well as the Warriors team total going over.
In college basketball, let’s start with a Friday night play on Miami-Ohio catching a bundle at Buffalo. I’ve loved the Bulls during this magical season that could extend to the second weekend of the Tourney — but Friday presents a case for the OVERLOOKS.
Buffalo beat Miami-O 88-64 back on Jan. 12. In that game, Miami had 10 more team fouls called and three of its starters were mired in foul trouble.
Look for Miami-O to keep this one closer at home — you’ll be getting a bushel — as the Bulls could enter this one seriously disinterested and still win.
We also like Alabama catching points at home against LSU, Tennessee at home in the rematch against Kentucky and Florida State laying against visitor NC State.