Betting on baseball has never been better
Now that we have put the Barry Bonds/ Babe Ruth blah, blah, blah to sleep, I think it’s time that we sat back and wagered a few bucks on our favorite MLB team. Parity is here and every one of the six divisions is up for grabs this year and handicapping these teams, takes patience and talent.
Let’s start with the glamour division and of course I am referring to the American League East where the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have been trading punches since the opening week of April and George’s boys are now sitting in the penthouse.
Lurking down in the lobby are the Toronto Blue Jays who have fought off injuries to their starting pitching staff, with superb hitting and are 32-25 and are just three games back. Toronto has made it clear from the get go, that they will spend money during the season in order to contend.
In the AL Central my 9-1 betting bonanza and that would be the 2005 Chicago White Sox are scuffling a bit after a torrid start and presently trail the Motown Detroit Tigers. The Tigers began the first 50 games under Jim Leyland in spectacular fashion, but injuries are beginning to hit them, with the latest being to Pudge Rodriguez.
At 28-29 the Cleveland Indians will make a move at some point and placing a few bucks on them, could provide you with a nice return on your dollar. The AL West with Texas, Oakland, Seattle and Los Angeles is a crapshoot, with only 5.5 games separating the VIP section and the cheap seats. The first place Rangers incidentally are the only team in the West with a winning mark in games played within the division and against the powerful AL East and you cannot ignore that vital gambling statistic.
The New York Mets like their neighbors the Yankees like to throw the money around and they sit atop the NL East presently, but the Phillies and Braves can almost reach out and touch them. With 14 straight division titles, I certainly would think about a wagering a few bucks on them to win once again.
The Cardinals are suddenly trying to ward off the Cincinnati Reds who are getting healthy and pounding the ball. The Cardinals meanwhile have all kids of injury issues with Pujols and ace Chris Carpenter does not look stable.
Just like their counterparts in the AL West, the NL West Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres, Giants and Rockies are in a fierce battle for supremacy. Just six games separate the top and bottom, with Arizona leading the pack. The Dodgers are getting superb play out of Garciaparra and if their veterans can stay healthy, watch out!
College Football Betting Cues
A number of dicey factors, including the disparity between the nation's finest teams and those that still have struggling programs, the massive turnover of personnel each year, and the absurdly large number of teams involved, conspire to make college football betting far more difficult than its NFL counterpart.
With the college gridiron campaign currently in full swing, bettors would be wise to join experienced bookmakers in analyzing these three key factors:
The Gap Factor: The difference between upper echelon teams and middle to bottom teams can be enormous in college football betting. When you have that situation, certain oddsmaking criteria go out the window. For example, when you have an Ohio State or a USC on the road, the talent level versus an Indiana or an Arizona is going to be so wide that it will negate any home field advantage those teams may have. Of course, that goes for other college super powers such as a Florida or a Texas.
So, although most books use Power Ratings as a place to begin the pointspread making process, they're not nearly as reliable as they are for the NFL. For example, when Texas opened the season with a sparring partner in North Texas State, it was difficult to know what the right number was. Most books settled on 42 with the knowledge that the final score would depend on the mercy of the Long Horns. Alas, Texas showed little sympathy for its overwhelmed opponent, crushing North Texas State, 56-7 for the cover.
Given the above example--Louisville (-40) versus Temple, Sept. 9 was another--typically, bookmakers often add a touchdown or so to the raw numbers. Conversely, if you're using pure Power Ratings, they can be skewed if you're looking at scores such as 56-0, 62-0 and 72-7 heading into conference play. That's a different level.
The People Factor: From year to year you have a much greater turnover of personnel in the college game than you do in the NFL. That means there's a sharper learning curve each year for the colleges. You might get every bit of information about a team for two months but then every thought and every projection you had for that team could change after the first game. New players really can't be judged until bet takers see them in a game. Admittedly, the college football betting public is in the same boat.
So even though responsible bookmakers put in an incredible amount of work during the summer to get a feel for the college teams, they never know if their assessments are valid until the teams start playing.
The Numbers Factor: There's no doubt that it's easier to keep tabs on 32 NFL teams than it is to keep track of over 100 college squads. The NFL is all there for you, on television every weekend. In college football betting, the big games are there but most bet house personnel aren’t going to see a lot of Wyoming or Louisiana Tech on the tube. As oddsmakers, they need to be right on every game. The bettor only has to be right on a few games each week to be successful. Obviously, from the perspective of the bookmakers, it's a lot more dangerous posting numbers on 50 college games than it is on 16 NFL games.
There are a number of other differences between the collegiate gridiron game and its NFL cousin.
For one, in general, bettors are far more willing to lay big numbers in college than they are in the NFL. It’s just the nature of the non-professional gambler to lay it rather than take it. Or as one prominent bookmaker pointed out, "You have to give them a minus or they don't know which side to take. When in doubt, they go with the favorite."
Scheduling also is more of a consideration in college football betting because the players lack maturity and are more susceptible to the emotional high of playing a rival, not to mention the letdown often associated with games preceding or following one of those contests.
Another thing to watch is the emergence of a betting glamour team. It's a team that gets hot early and captures the imagination of the college football betting public. LSU did that when it went 11-2 against the spread in 2003. Auburn was the hot team a year before that. Bookmakers are aware of these teams and are constantly adjusting the numbers, but until that team loses a couple of times, the public bets them every week.