One of the greatest things about opening day baseball beyond all the sacred scents and sounds from the ball park cathedrals across the country is that everyone is tied. Despite what the experts project and what the roster looks like on paper, there is that short time frame where every fan in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Washington D.C. can dream for a few days that maybe this is their year.
Reality soon sets in after a few weeks, but for that one glimmer of starting from scratch like the folks in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, where everyone is on theoretic equal terms, it makes opening day pretty special for all baseball fans.
We had a sort of a round table discussion last week among the sports book directors across Las Vegas to see who they liked this season and here’s what they had to say.
AL East & Wild Card
The Yankees and Red Sox are just about everyone’s choice to either win the division or make the wild card with a few exceptions.
“I like the Yankees to win the AL East,” said Coast Resorts Bob Scucci. “The addition of Javier Vazquez makes a good staff even better. Granderson in centerfield is going to add speed and defense up the middle without losing anything at the plate. Granderson and Nick Johnson will offset losing Damon and Matsui.”
Palace Station’s Zack Goldberg is a native Bostonian who offers his reasons why Tampa will beat out the Yankees for the Wild Card spot. “Age catches up to the Yankees as Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Pettitte all have down years. The Rays take the wild card behind a strong pitching staff and a lineup that will feature B.J. Upton in the 8-spot. David Price will be the break-out star of the year as he finishes in the top 5 in AL Cy Young voting.”
Jay Rood from MGM MIRAGE also likes Tampa this year, saying, “Joe Buck will be speechless” when the Rays win the division, but Rood has the Yankees winning the east meaning he doesn’t have the Red Sox making the playoffs.
Goldberg can’t believe someone doesn’t have the Sox making the post-season, “The starting rotation is just sick. Contract year for Beckett and he leads a work horse crew of Beckett, Lester, Lackey. I really like Buchholz but would not be surprised to see a mid season swap involving him and more pieces for Adrian Gonzalez. Also, love the additions in the field. For the first time in 6 years the Sox have a true left side of the infield. Beltre’s bat will also come alive with the Green Monster 310 feet away.”
The majority of our bookies have the Twins winning with a few other possibilities like Tigers or White Sox, but no one likes any of the Central Division candidates’ chances to advance past the Yankees or Red Sox in the playoffs.
“I like the Twins to win, but with the Tigers breathing down their necks all year long,” said the Palms’ Fred Crespi.
MGM’s Jay Rood concurs, adding, “The Twins will win and there won’t be any tie-breaker either.”
Goldberg offers another point of view: “I’ll take the White Sox; I like any team that has Jake Peavy as their ace. A rejuvenated Rios brings some pop to the line up.”
“Give me Texas,” says Santa Fe Station’s Bill Walkowski. “Look for Hamilton to bounce back, and the Angels lost too much. Seattle is too trendy with Milton Bradley whose team is sure to fail, just see last 20 teams he’s been on.”
Walkowski is alone on his thoughts as many sports directors agree Seattle will be the team to beat, despite Bradley’s presence, including Scucci. “The West will be won by the Mariners, who will battle with the Angels. Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez on the same staff are too much to overcome. Additions of Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley will help their lineup.”
Goldberg feels the same way about Seattle’s two headed monster starting games. “The M’s won’t need to hit all that much in that park with those starters and solid defense behind them. Love the top of the line up with Ichiro, Figgins and Lopez.”
This division had the least amount of controversy among the bookies, who all cited Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay addition as being the main factor in not being able to catch them in the regular season.
“The Phillies will run away with their division,” said Scucci. “They have the same team that won the Series in ’08 and got there in ’09, with the exception of Cliff Lee, who they swapped for a Cy Young Award winner. Not bad.”
The one dissenter was Rood who picked the Braves to win the division with the Phillies making the playoffs as a wild card, using the team rallying around Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones on their farewell tour as a means to drive the Braves all season. Goldberg also picks the Braves to win the Wild Card and advance far into the post-season with young phenoms Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward.
NL Central & Wild Card
The consensus is that the Cardinals and Cubs will battle for the division with one or the other making the wild card, with Crespi noting the Astros could surprise, and Scucci giving the Brewers a shot. Scucci also notes that the Cubs always seem to find a way to lose.
“I like the Cardinals,” said Goldberg “They have a top 1-2 pop in both the rotation and batting order. Carpenter, Wainwright, Pujols, and Holliday for the whole year this time!”
The Dodgers appear to have the best lineup on paper, but the Giants come in with that filthy pitching staff that will challenge. Jay Rood and the Luxor’s Jeffrey Hoose like the Rockies to roll in another year of Mile-High magic.
“The West will be interesting,” says Scucci. “The Dodgers have the edge, but I am going with the Giants, who have an almost un-hittable pitcher in Tim Lincecum, and have been grooming young talent since the departure of Barry Bonds.”
The overall consensus has the Yankees or Phillies winning the title. No one picked the Red Sox to win it all, although many have them making the World Series and losing. Jay Rood went so far to boldly predict the Cubs would win it all, which might be the best thing that could happen to baseball.
|Copyright 2010 GamingToday|
Vegas’ bookies predictions
|American League||National League|
|Fred Crespi – Palms:||BOS||MIN||SEA||NYY||PHIL||STL||LAD||SF||PHL beats BOS|
|Zack Goldberg – Palace:||BOS||CWS||SEA||TB||PHL||STL||LAD||ATL||ATL in 7 vs. BOS|
|Bill Walkowski- Santa Fe:||NYY||DET||TEX||BOS||PHIL||CHC||AZ||STL||PHL in 6 vs. NYY|
|Bob Scucci – Coast:||NYY||MIN||SEA||BOS||PHL||STL||SF||LAD||PHL beats BOS|
|Dawn Bailey – NY, NY:||BOS||DET||LAA||NYY||PHL||CHC||LAD||STL||LAD beats BOS|
|Jay Rood – Mirage:||TB||MIN||SEA||NYY||ATL||CHC||COL||PHL||CHC beats NYY|
|Jackson Meeker – Boulder:||NYY||CWS||SEA||BOS||PHL||STL||SF||CHC||NYY beats STL|
|Raphael Esparza – Aria:||NYY||MIN||SEA||BOS||PHL||CHC||LAD||COL||NYY beats CHC|
|Jeffrey Hoose – Luxor:||NYY||MIN||LAA||BOS||PHL||STL||COL||ATL||NYY beats STL|
|Micah Roberts – GT:||BOS||MIN||SEA||NYY||PHL||STL||LAD||COL||LAD beats BOS|