The Major League Baseball season opens Saturday morning – really – in Sydney, Australia – really, again. This is not one of commissioner Bud Selig’s brightest ideas.


Just in time for the start of the season, Bovada has posted the over/under win totals for 2014. Here they are in order of most wins: Dodgers 92.5…St. Louis 90.5…Detroit 89.5…Washington 89.5…Tampa Bay 88.5…Atlanta 87.5…Boston 87.5…Oakland 87.5…Angels 86.5…Yankees 86.5…San Francisco 86.5…Texas 86.5…Cincinnati 84.5…Pittsburgh 83.5…Kansas City 82.5…Seattle 81.5…Arizona 80.5…Baltimore 80.5…Cleveland 80.5…Toronto 80.5…Milwaukee 79.5…San Diego 78.5…Colorado 76.5…Philadelphia 76.5…White Sox 75.5…Mets 73.5…Minnesota 70.5…Cubs 69.5…Miami 69.5…Houston 62.5.


Only two teams have an over-under number above 90 wins – Dodgers 92.5 and St. Louis 90.0.


Last spring, four teams opened above 90 wins – Detroit 93; and Angels, Toronto and Washington each 92.5. Only the Tigers went over (93). The others: Washington 86 wins, Angels 78 and Blue Jays 74.


My most tempting "overs":


Tampa Bay (88.5 wins) – Deep pitching (David Price is my AL Cy Young pick), decent lineup, resourceful manager and excellent team chemistry.


St. Louis (90.5 wins) – Terrific young pitching and the rest of the NL Central is lousy.


Washington (89.5) – I think the Nationals are baseball’s best team – if Bryce Harper stays healthy.


My most tempting "unders":


Cleveland (80.5) – The Indians wee a surprising 92-70 last season, including 30-17 in one-run and 10-2 in extra-inning games last year. They’re not likely to be as fortunate this season with a suspect bullpen.


Philadelphia (76.5) – The Phillies were 73-89 and outscored by 139 runs last season. They’re a year older now and still overrated.




If I were a Buffalo Sabres fan, I’d be irate regarding the news this week that the NHL is likely to revise the draft lottery in time for the 2015 entry draft.


Why is this significant? Because super prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are expected to be the first two picks. McDavid in particular is considered a "franchise-changing" player, a la Sidney Crosby.


The No. 1 overall pick used to go to the team with the worst record. The lottery system was introduced to discourage teams from "tanking" -- or trying to lose in order to get the best picks.


Under the draft format used last year and to be used this year, the 14 non-playoff teams participate in a weighted lottery. The team with the league’s worst record – probably the Sabres this year –has a 25 percent chance to get the No. 1 overall pick. The 14th team would have a .5 percent chance. No team could move more than one pick down from its finish in the standings.


The NHL is expected to amend the lottery format to give more teams a shot at the No. 1 pick. One version floating around is that the team with the worst record could drop as low as the No. 6 pick in the draft .


That’s not fair to the really lousy teams – particularly Buffalo.


The Sabres aren’t tanking. They’re trying. They’re simply not good. I believe the current Buffalo team would be a threat to win this season’s American Hockey League Calder Cup playoffs, but I wouldn’t call it a lock.


The Sabres have traded most of their best players for future draft picks. That’s a legitimate way to improve.


It isn’t legitimate for the NHL to change the lottery format now and significantly reduce Buffalo’s odds of winding up with McDavid.


Buffalo does not have a great record for success in the NHL draft. It has been mostly downhill since the expansion Sabres selected center Gilbert Perreault No. 1 in 1970.


The current Sabres aren’t an expansion team. They just look and play like one.


Here are Buffalo’s all-time first-round picks. It is not a glowing list:


1970 – center Gilbert Perreault (1st overall)


1971 – winger Rick Martin (5th)


1972 – defenseman Jim Schoenfeld (5th)


1973 – winger Morris Titanic (12th)


1974 – defenseman Lee Fogolin (11th)


1975 – goalie Bob Sauve (17th)


1977 – winger Ric Seiling (14th)


1978 —defenseman Larry Playfair (13th)


1979 – defenseman Larry Playfair (13th)


1980 – winger Steve Patrick (20th)


1981 – winger Jiri Dudacek (17th)


1982 – defenseman Phil Housley (6th)…winger Paul Cyr (9th)…forward Dave Andreychuk (16th)


1983 – goalie Tom Barraso (5th)…forward Norman Lacombe(10th)…forward Adam Creighton (11th)


1984 – winger Mikael Anderson (18th)


1985 – defenseman Calle Johansson (5th)


1987 – center Pierre Turgeon (1st)


1988 – winger Joel Savage (13th)


1989 – defenseman Kevin Haller (14th)


1990 – winger Brad May (14th)


1991 – defenseman Philippe Boucher (13th)


1992 – defenseman David Cooper (11th)


1994 – center Wayne Primeau (17th)


1995 – defenseman Jay McKee (14th)…goalie Martin Biron (16th)


1996 – center Erik Rasmussen (7th)


1997 – goalie Mike Noronen (21st)


1998 – defenseman Dmitri Kalinin (18th)


1999 – winger Barrett Heisten (20th)


2000 – forward Artem Kryukov (15th)…never left Russia)


2001 – center Jiri Novotny (22nd)


2002 – defenseman Keith Ballard (11th)…winger Daniel Paille (20th)


2003 – winger Thomas Vanek (5th)


2004 – winger Drew Stafford (13th)


2005 – center Marek Zagrapan (13th)…never played for Sabres


2006 – defenseman Dennis Persson (24th)…never played for Sabres)



2008 – defenseman Tyler Myers (12th)…winger Tyler Ennis (26th)


2009 – winger Zack Kassian (13th)


2010 – defenseman Mark Pysyk (23rd)


2011 – winger Joel Armia (16th)


2012 – center Mikhail Grigorenko (12th)…center Zemgus Girgensons (14th)


2013 – defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (8th)…defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16th).


Worth noting: The Sabres rarely have been brutally bad. That’s why they’ve had only 11 top-10 picks (including only two No. 1 overall picks in their history).




Out of the 16 NCAA men’s tournament games played Thursday, four were decided in overtime. Last year, the first OT game came in the Sweet 16 round…Also on Thursday, Las Vegas favorites were 13-3 outright and 8-7-1 against the Las Vegas point spread…Higher-seeded teams were 12-4 outright but only 7-8-1 against the point spread.


Bovada odds to win the American League East: Boston bet $100 top win $220…Tampa Bay bet $100 to win $200…Yankees bet $100 to win $240…Baltimore bet $100 to win $700…Toronto bet $100 to win $700.


Former Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a two-year deal with the Houston Texans Thursday night. The Texans are expected to trade Matt Schaub to Oakland. Houston is expected to select a QB in the draft, possibly No. 1 overall. Fitz presumably has the edge over Case Keenum, who replaced Schaub last season.


Thumbs up to goalie Matt Hackett, recently promoted fron the Amerks to Buffalo, for earning Third Star honors in Thursday night’s 3-1 Sabres victory in Edmonton.


The Rochester RazorSharks figure to avenge the only loss of their 14-1 Premier Basketball League season thus far Friday night on the road against the Carolina Pee Dee Vipers. Carolina won 91-86 early this season. The Sharks are better now and the Vipers probably have not.