Unfortunately for the modern baseball fan one tradition that marked Memorial Day years ago has disappeared — the doubleheader.
It used be a rather normal occurrence for the three major holidays during the baseball season – Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day – to feature several regularly scheduled doubleheaders, often featuring special festivities between the two games.
For many years, for example, the New York Mets would hold Banner Day between games of a doubleheader during which fans would be allowed on the field to parade their home made banners around the ball park.
Nowadays on the rare occasions when there are doubleheaders they result from the rescheduling of prior rained out games and much more often than not require two separate admissions in the form of day-night doubleheaders.
As Memorial Day approaches Cleveland remains the biggest surprise in baseball.
At 29-15 the Indians have the best record in all of baseball that includes an astounding 18-4 mark at home. Plenty of baseball remains to be played but it’s time to take note of what has unfolded after nearly a third of the season.
The first round of Interleague play is in the books and the leagues evenly split this past weekend’s 42 games. AL teams won 15 of the 24 games played at their home parks while NL teams were 12-6 as hosts.
Scoring was respectable in games at AL venues, averaging 9.5 total runs per game (15 OVERs, 9 UNDERs). But scoring was greatly depressed at NL stadia where teams combined to average just 6.4 runs per game (6 OVERs, 10 UNDERs and 2 PUSHes).
Two Interleague series deserves special mention. A pair of last season’s playoff teams did battle in Philadelphia as the Phillies hosted Texas. In their three game series the teams combined to score a total of just nine runs!
In the Seattle at San Diego series two of the three games had totals that closed at 5½ — probably the lowest total in the past quarter century if not longer. Seattle won both games by scores of 4-0 and 6-1 as they Mariners swept the Padres.
Just over 20 percent of all games in 2011 (145 of 695) have had totals of 7 or less with 61 games (8.8 percent) having totals of 6.5 or less!
For the season scoring is at 8.3 total runs per game, down nearly half a run from the full season average in 2010.
Betting the run line in MLB enables the bettor to convert a highly priced favorite into an underdog in many situations. The conversion comes in the form of laying a run and a half with the favored team which means you win your bet if the favorite wins by 2 runs or more.
Using an example from this past Sunday’s game between the two New York teams, the Yankees were roughly a -180 favorite to defeat the Mets by any margin. That means if you wagered $180 on the Yanks you would win $100 as long as the Yankees won by 1, 2 or 12 runs. It so happens the Yankees rallied to defeat the Mets 9-3.
Had you played the Yanks -1½ runs you would have been able to risk 100 dollars to win anywhere from $100 to $110 dollars depending on the sports book. Had the Yanks won 5-4, for example, the run line bettor would have lost his $100 while the straight bettor would have pocketed a 100 dollar profit after risking 180.
At the same time bettors can bet +1½ with the underdog but often will end up converting it into a favorite for the privilege. In our example the Mets were +175 to win the game straight up but were -125 if you took the 1½. Both regular and run line backers of the Mets lost their wagers when the Mets lost by six runs. But had the Mets lost 5-4 the run line bettors would have won 100 dollars while the straight bettors would have lost.
In coming weeks historical and current data will be shared to give readers an idea of just how often the run line comes into play.
Long time readers of this column know of this writer’s preference for laying rather than taking the run and a half. The run line only matters in games in which the favored team wins by exactly one run.
When the favored team wins by exactly one run straight bettors win their bets while those who laid the run and a half lose. When the favored team wins by 2 or more runs both types of bettors win with the run line bettor usually winning more. But when the favored team loses the game outright the bettor who lays the run and a half loses less than the bettor who played the favorite straight.
Conversely, the only time bettors who take +1½ benefit is when the underdog loses by exactly one run. When the underdog wins the game outright the straight bettor will win more than the bettor who took the run and a half. And when the underdog loses by two or more runs the bettor who took the run and a half loses more than the straight underdog bettor.
Next week — a look at how often games are decided by one run with a most important distinction to keep in mind about one run games.
Here’s a look at four series to be played this weekend.
Phillies at Mets: Phils hold a 4-2 edge thus far in 2011 with all six games played in Philly. The Phils have the best starting rotation in baseball but their offense has struggled for the past two weeks. They are expected to get Chase Utley back for this series but catalyst Shane Victorino recently went on the DL.
The Mets have played better since starting 5-13.
• Mets +150 in any matchup.
• Phillies -125 or less in any matchup.
• UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup.
• UNDER 7 or higher in a start by the Mets’ Dillon Gee not facing Kyle Kendrick.
Cardinals at Rockies: First meeting. St Louis has played 18 OVERs and just 6 UNDERs away from home. Colorado has followed the typical pattern of being more offensively potent at home than on the road. Their starting pitching has been fairly respectable, led by Jorge de la Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin while last year’s “ace,” Ubaldo Jimenez, appears to have regained that form following a very rough start to 2011.
• Cardinals +120 or more in any matchup.
• Cardinals -125 or less in starts by Garcia or McClellan.
• Rockies+125 or more in any matchup.
• Rockies -125 or less in starts by Chacin, de la Rosa or Jimenez.
• OVER 8½ or lower in any matchup;
• UNDER 9 or higher if Chacin, Jimenez or de la Rosa oppose Garcia or McClellan.
Red Sox at Tigers: Boston won both games when these teams met at Fenway Park last week. Boston has been more potent at home and is slightly below average on the road, averaging just 4.0 runs per game, although their offense has warmed up overall, scoring five or more runs in 8 of their last 13 games. Detroit has been a very streaky team this season, with a seven game winning streak and a seven game losing streak in addition to three other streaks of four or more games.
• Tigers +140 or more against Josh Beckett.
• Tigers +120 or more against Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester.
• Red Sox +125 or more against Justin Verlander.
• Red Sox -120 or less (or underdogs) against any other Detroit starter.
• UNDER of 9 or higher in any matchup.
• UNDER 8 or higher if Verlander, Rick Porcello or Max Scherzer oppose Beckett, Buchholz or Lester.
Indians at Rays: Tampa Bay won 2 of 3 in Cleveland earlier this month. All 3 games went OVER the Total as the teams scored 9, 10 and 11 runs. . Cleveland’s offense has been better balanced and is averaging 4.5 runs per game on the road. The best starting pitcher on either team has been Tampa’s James Shields (2.00 ERA, 0.93 WHIP) and the Rays have won 8 of his 10 starts. David Price has also been effective for Tampa. But Cleveland also has a pair of starters enjoying strong seasons in Justin Masterson (2.52 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) and Josh Tomlin (2.41 ERA, 0.82 WHIP). The Tribe has won 13 of their 18 starts.
• UNDER 7 or higher if Shields or Price opposes Tomlin or Masterson.
•; UNDER 8 or higher if only one of those starters is involved.
•: OVER 8 or lower in matchups involving none of the four;
• Rays -130 or less against other than Tomlin or Masterson.
• Indians +125 or more not facing Shields or Price.
• Underdog in matchups of either Tomlin or Masterson against either Shields or Price.