Nobody does "self-congratulatory disguised as congratulating others" better than ESPN, and if that's the soapbox that I have climbed atop today, then you know it must be time for the ESPYs!
For years, the Wednesday after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was known for one thing: It was the one day out of the calendar year that bookies could go out to dinner with their loved ones (assuming they had some) because there were literally no sporting events, and hence nothing upon which to gamble.
Then in 1993, along came the ESPYs, and suddenly the Wednesday after the All Star Game had a purpose.
And then, sometime between 1993 and my check of e-mail this morning, along came wagering on the ESPYs, and with that the bookies were screwed out of their one day off a year.
As much as we (I'm not the only one, right?) like to make fun of ESPN, and as much as many of us pretend we won't watch or pay attention to the ESPYs, ultimately many of us do, because it produces at least a few moments that remind us why we love sports (despite the best efforts of human nature and Mark May to make us do otherwise).
No ESPYs moment will ever be more poignant and more memorable than this one, the creation of the V Foundation, and Jim Valvano's last really famous speech at the very first ESPYs awards show:
Since then, we've had our fair share of tear-jerking and fist-pumping moments at the July awards show, and now with gambling on the event added to the mix, we have a chance to actually turn this into a profitable endeavor.
So without further ado, let's take a look at the lines on this year's awards (courtesy of bovada.lv): 2013 ESPY Awards - Best Male Athlete LeBron James 1/2 Adrian Peterson 5/2 Miguel Cabrera 4/1 Michael Phelps 15/1 WINNER: JAMES. It says something about King James (either about the strength of his perception or about his actual accomplishments themselves) that he is such a prohibitive favorite in a field that includes the NFL MVP (who came back from a torn ACL in like four days), an MLB Triple Crown winner, and an Olympian who won four golds and two silvers. And says even more that you'd be crazy to bet against him.
2013 ESPY Awards - Best Female Athlete Serena Williams 5/4 Brittney Griner 8/5 Gabby Douglas 5/2 Missy Franklin 9/1 WINNER: DOUGLAS. Williams won the French Open, Griner was the Player of the Year in women's hoops, but Baylor's inability to close the deal as a team probably hurts her. I'll take Douglas, her status as the first African-American to win the all-around title and the value at 5/2 to win this one.
2013 ESPY Awards - Best Fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. 2/3 Jon "Bones" Jones 5/4 Anderson Silva 4/1 Canelo Alvarez 25/1 Danny Garcia 33/1 WINNER: JONES. I don't know when the voting closed on these ESPYs, but if it was any time in the last week, then Anderson Silva picked a bad time to lose his first title defense in forever. At 2/3 odds, there's a decent chance that Mayweather (a noted open book when it comes to six-figure wagering) may have personally moved the line by betting on himself.
2013 ESPY Awards - Best NBA Player LeBron James 1/3 Tony Parker 7/2 Kevin Durant 15/4 Kobe Bryant 12/1 Carmelo Anthony 20/1 WINNER: JAMES. This one is obvious, but I do wish that the voting were published so we could see if there's one writer who gives Carmelo Anthony a vote.
2013 ESPY Awards - Best NFL Player Adrian Peterson 4/7 Peyton Manning 5/2 JJ Watt 5/1 Calvin Johnson 13/2 Aaron Rodgers 10/1 WINNER: (For this category, I shall channel "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.) Well, Adrian Peterson ran for over 2,000 yards last year....WATT?!?....Peyton Manning came back from a year-long neck injury.....WATT?!?....Calvin Johnson is Megatron...WATT?!?....He's a really good receiver....WATT?!?....He has good hands....WATT?!?...But you know who I'm taking?....WATT?!? No, Peterson.
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2013 ESPY Awards - Best MLB Player Miguel Cabrera 1/2 Mike Trout 2/1 Buster Posey 9/1 David Price 9/1 R.A. Dickey 9/1 WINNER: CABRERA. Not so much on the strength of his Triple Crown season, but mostly because of his consistency over the last decade while getting out-of-his-tree shitfaced every night. Takes a special kind of athlete to do that. An ESPY-caliber athlete.
2013 ESPY Awards - Best Male College Athlete Johnny Manziel 1/5 Trey Burke 3/1 Kyle Dake 15/1 Drew LeBlanc 15/1 WINNER: MANZIEL. I have no idea who the last two guys are, so it comes down to Manziel at 1/5 versus Trey Burke at 3/1. Honestly, the way Manziel's year has gone up until this weekend, I'd fire on him at 20/1, but the way this week has gone, I'm thinking of taking LeBlanc just for the hell of it.
2013 ESPY Awards - Best Driver Tony Kanaan 1/2 Brad Keselowski 3/1 Sebastian Vettel 4/1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 10/1 WINNER: NONE OF THE ABOVE. I'm going to go with Denver Broncos Director of Player Personnel Matt Russell, who managed to get behind the wheel with a .246 blood alcohol level and only hit two cars! A truly transcendent performance!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.