Friendly Competition

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Championship sports analysts such as Mike Lineback and Jim Kruger may view the Professional Handicappers League’s site contests a bit differently, but the bottom line’s the same.

The contests not only rev up their competitive juices, they also provide the public a “black and white” opportunity to see for themselves just how well a handicapper is doing in a particular sport versus the competition.

After all, while the handicapping business generates a lot of camaraderie among the various players, it’s still, much like professional sports themselves, a dog eat dog industry and one in which the numbers do the talking.

Many boast they’re the best, but few actually can document such claims.

Lineback operates a one-man service in Topeka, Kan., while Kruger runs Las Vegas Sports Authority in Sin City.

Currently two of the Top 3 players in the PHL’s All-Around standings — Larry Ness stands between them, with Lineback comfortably on top — both boast lengthy lists of handicapping achievements, including victories in league contests.

Lineback, a career handicapper, has dominated overall standings for several seasons, winning the Major League Baseball championship in 2005.

He also won the recently completed college hoops contest, has a third-place NFL finish and was an honoree last summer at a league New York-New York ESPN Zone dinner in Las Vegas.

Kruger, previously a stock broker and stand-up comedian, finished fourth in Leroy’s College Football Contest last fall competing against the nation’s leading schoolboy handicappers and barely was beaten by Steve Merril in the league’s NCAA football contest.

He leads the league’s 2007 NBA standings and finished third in college basketball.

The two men agree that over the years, scamdicappers have given the entire industry a black eye that still stings, so site contests provide a way for the public to watch the cream to rising to the top on a weekly basis.

“The sports service business is an industry with zero regulation and (it’s) rife with deceptive practices,” declared Kruger, noting that he “loves” league contests.

“It is difficult for the prospective customer to separate the wheat from the chaff.

“Having site contests and showing what handicappers are doing well helps the client make an informed choice rather than just listening to what capper has the ‘best pitch that day.’

“Providing customers with accurate data on which ‘capper does well in which sport(s) will in turn help build long-term clientele for the site overall.”

Lineback also emphasizes the importance of honesty, integrity and documentation, but has little to say about the contests, “Since I don’t consider ProCappers to be a contest, but (rather) a monitor.”

He quickly adds, “However, I do take the contests I enter very seriously because I’m a very competitive person.”

Like Lineback, Kruger is not overly aggressive in marketing plays.

He says that makes performing well in contests almost mandatory so he can “stand out from the crowd in another fashion.”

“Being in the Top 5 or winning site contests is a great way to be noticed,” Kruger said.

“With this understanding, I obviously am very competitive in finishing in the Top 5 in every sport I handicap.

“I am good friends with some of the other cappers in the Professional Handicappers League and that makes the competition even more fun.”

Another name to look out for is handicapper George Smeader, who consistently appears in competitions across the board, from the WNBA and CFL to the NBA and college football.

Aaron Glende holds a cushy edge over Vernon Croy in the NHL contest.

It’s still early in the Major League Baseball campaign, but the site’s two current leaders are Mike Davis and Lenny Del Genio.

Source by Lynda Collins

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