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Normally at this time of the year I’d use this space to talk about how this week’s conference tournaments serve as a preparatory or appetizer for what’s about to happen next week with the NCAA Tournament.

But Major League Baseball keeps popping in the news in their attempt to monetize the new frontier of legal sports betting sprouting up across the country. 

The latest is MLB forcing managers to send their starting lineups for each baseball game to the commissioner’s office first before public knowledge and that information will be first given to everyone who subscribes to baseball’s integrity package for use of official MLB data. And then shortly after the teams can announce the lineups on social media or their web sites.

The only Nevada sports book that is aligned with MLB to receive this service so far is MGM Resorts, which also just stuck a deal with the Red Sox. The Lion is going to be on the Green Monster. Wow!

I had to laugh at MLB’s cash grab when I first heard this. They like to put the integrity of the game to the forefront as an issue with legal sports gambling as if now there’s a problem because people are just beginning to bet sports. The biggest black eyes MLB ever had dealt with were illegal bookmakers getting the 1919 White Sox to throw games and Pete Rose regularly betting as a player and manager from the dugout. None of that happened in a legal book in Las Vegas.

Let’s take a look at a scenario for the sportsbook which already knows the starting pitching rotation before setting a number — MLB can’t hide that. The starter is the most important equation for offering an opening line. There’s also the new revelation in baseball sportsbooks had to adjust to last season with the opening starter pitching the first inning and then being pulled for a regular starter or long reliever. 

The rest of the equation is based on a team expected to use their regular lineup. There aren’t a lot of position players worth more than 5 cents and someone like Bryce Harper is worth as high as 13 cents depending on how he’s playing at the time and Mike Trout hits the ceiling at 15 cents. When alerts come that a player is out, the bookmaker adjusts accordingly. If the bookmaker is sleeping at the wheel, sharp money will sniff it out and take the few cents of value.

What MLB has basically done is purposely create a situation for bettors to try and get information before the books which essentially is anti-integrity. “Buy our package or get beat.” But other than that, it’s really not a big deal and I’d like to know what brainchild within MLB thought this would be a checkmate move to force the books to buy their package.

It’s as though MLB doesn’t know about the odds screens every book uses to monitor other sportsbook numbers. MGM books use a 20 cent split in baseball and doesn’t get heavy wiseguy action because of it. But as a bookmaker somewhere else, as soon you see their number drop 5 to 10 cents it’s an easy assumption that a key player is out and they can just follow along with what MGM did.

Every bookmaker is already prepped for rapid adjustments due to the current climate of the NBA where you never know who is going to play. It’s a daily crapshoot whether or not Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, or Joel Embiid will play. The books adjust accordingly. They will with the baseball lineups as well, or simply follow moves made by MGM.

MLB’s cash-grab attempt with their official data isn’t even the funniest thing they’ve done lately. They sent requests to the Gaming Boards in Nevada and New Jersey asking that spring training games be taken off the betting board for integrity purposes.

Not surprisingly, the books in both states politely declined to tell baseball to hit the showers and it remains business as usual booking exhibition games. 

Antonio Brown value 

The Westgate SuperBook immediately made Super Bowl odds adjustments based on the Steelers trading WR Antonio Brown to the Raiders.The Steelers’ odds went from 20-to-1 up to 25-to-1 and the Raiders dropped from 100-to-1 down to 80-to-1.

NCAA Tournament card

Be sure to take a shot at turning $5 into $10,000 by simply picking winners in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The South Point is running their Jackpot card again, one for Thursday games and another for Friday’s.

No point spreads, just pick the winner. Whoever has the most wins gets the guaranteed $10,000 and any fees collected that surpass $10,000 on each of the days will be thrown into prize money. 

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