So, there’s cheating going on in baseball.
In the wake of the recent moves that saw the removal of three managers and a general manager and rumors flying that this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg, are you still planning to go about your business and bet on the national pastime come March?
Are you worried about the integrity of the game being compromised as teams steal signs, get an edge and capitalize on it? Is this worse than the steroid scandal of the ‘90s?
My guess is most of you are going to continue to do what you do and bet baseball. You’ve been adjusting your handicapping the last couple of years with the introduction of “opener” pitchers, bridge hurlers, exit velocity, spin rates, launch angles and the rest of the 21st century analytical world that keeps seamheads going.
In all honesty, I can’t blame you for merely shrugging your shoulders and doing what you do. For veteran bettors, stealing signs is nothing new. They’ve been doing it forever. It’s just a matter of how they do it.
In the old days, every team had a guy on their bench whose job was to try and decipher the signs being sent from the third base coach to the batter. Or what the catcher was calling with a runner on second base in the hopes of tipping off the batter.
This cloak-and-dagger stuff never went away. It merely became more sophisticated. That’s why you see catchers trying to hide the fact what’s really coming with their own unique sets of signs to help throw opposing batters off the track. It’s why a lot of times, what the third base coach is doing is absolutely meaningless.
You see it in college football all the time. Dummy signals. Signs with pictures on them. Three different people sending in the call with two of them totally bogus.
In the NFL, a lot of that has gone away since the quarterback gets the play transmitted into him via a radio frequency right into his helmet. So unless Bill Belichick has found a way to jam the signal, it’s a fairly fail-safe method to get the play from the sideline to the huddle without fear of exposure.
Of course, that doesn’t seem to stop the Patriots from trying, as they will video the sidelines of their opponents in the hops of picking up something that will help them have the upper hand.
But baseball doesn’t have that kind of technology yet. Instead, it’s cameras, it’s buzzers, it’s whistling of banging on trash cans from the dugout to try and get an edge.
But back to the original point of all this? Will this latest controversy detract you from betting on major league baseball? Will the sportsbooks around America feel a negative impact on handle?
When the Houston Astros fired AJ Hinch last week, their future book odds to win the World Series moved at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook from 5-1 to 7-1. The Boston Red Sox, who parted ways with Alex Cora, saw their odds go from 12-1 to 20-1.
But when Carlos Beltran stepped aside as the New York Mets’ manager, it moved the needle the other way. The Mets were 20-1 in October prior to their hiring Beltran. They’re now 16-1.
The Mets’ crosstown rivals, the Yankees are currently the favorite to win it all at 3-1.
As for the season win totals, the Astros’ number is 94.5, the Red Sox are at 87.5 and the Mets’ number is 86.5.
That tells me the books aren’t worried too much over who’s managing. For them, it’s about who’s playing. If Jose Altuve wasn’t going to play for Houston or Peter Alonso couldn’t play for the Mets, that might change the thinking of the oddsmakers and result in major changes.
But no players are at risk of being suspended because they were granted immunity by Major League Baseball. That means in all likelihood it’ll be business as usual for bettors.
Most people who bet baseball for a living focus on that day’s pitchers and if anyone who is an impact position player is getting a day off. Obviously, injuries factor into handicapping along with things such as weather, travel, the schedule itself and streaks. They’re probably not too worried about who is in the dugout.
The Astros replaced Hinch with ??. The Red Sox will go with ?? and the Mets hired ?? to take Beltran’s spot in the dugout. For you bettors, you’re more concerned about who takes Gerrit Cole’s spot in the Houston rotation, can Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard carry the Mets in a north-ward trajectory in the National League East and can Chris Sale bounce back for the Red Sox from a subpar year and help Boston contend in the American League East?
I’m guessing more will come out in the coming days and weeks which will indict other teams for having cheated. So nothing will surprise me. Whether he wants to admit it or not, commissioner Rob Manfred has an integrity issue on his hands. And it’s up to him to fix it.
In the meantime, you might want to consider wagering on every Astros game this coming season. No team will be under the microscope more and the chicanery and subterfuge in Houston will likely be put on the back burner. Do you bet on or against them? That’s your call. Hopefully, you’ll be right more often than wrong.
But if you want to take a flier on the Tigers, the Marlins or the Orioles to win the World Series, be my guest. All three are 1,000-1 at the SuperBook and they can cheat as much as they want and they’ll still have no shot at getting to the Fall Classic, much less winning it.