With the Super Bowl now behind us, at least one downtown sports book is pointing to baseball props for some early business and an early cashing opportunity for bettors.
"We definitely wanted to get the jump on the other books," said Mike Colbert, the energetic sports book director at the Plaza. "Our props have been up for over a month and the action has been pretty good."
The Plaza and Las Vegas Club are both owned by Barrick Gaming, which has set a goal to revive the downtown area. One way is through baseball, which Colbert was only too anxious to promote.
"Putting together these early props creates early interest in baseball, which I believe will have one of its best seasons," Colbert said. "The lack of hockey certainly is going to bring more people toward baseball, and fans love props.
The most popular early prop has been the matchup between Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, now that both are part of the New York sports scene.
"There’s no question that once Johnson was dealt to the Yankees and Martinez to the Mets that this was a natural rivalry," Colbert said. "So far, the bettors have agreed. We’ve taken more action on this prop than any other."
The actual bet involves which Cy Young hurler post the most regular season victories this year. Right now, Johnson is favored at —2, -125. A bet for Johnson is +2, -105.
"Season series wagering that involves the Yankees-Red Sox, Giants-Dodgers, Cubs-Cardinals and a few others were received well," he said. "As far as all the individual props, Johnson drew the most interest."
There was also a prop with San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds regarding the number of homers he will hit in 2005. The "over / under" is a surprisingly low 40Â½ (Bonds must play at least 120 games).
"The number is definitely a bit low," Colbert said. "Bonds has not hit below 40 homers since 1999, so we are pushing the envelope. So far, the betting has been with the under. The steroid issue has something to do with that."
The Plaza and Las Vegas Club will be offering more baseball props in the coming weeks. Two probable additions are the number of walks Bonds draws (215-220 including intentional passes) and the number of regular season wins for the Yankees (105-110).
Here are the other current props and the early returns.
BIG UNIT (must start 28 games)
OVER 19Â½ EVEN
UND 19Â½ -130
Data: Most people betting "over."
OVER 2Â½ -115
UND 2Â½ -115
Data: Last year Johnson had complete games. Now has a great closer in Mariano Rivera. May not finish as many games.
OVER 254Â½ -115
UND 254Â½ -115
Data: People betting "over." Johnson had 290 K’s last year, but switches from NL to AL and must deal with DH.
Season Series Wins
NY Yanks -160
Data: People betting Yanks. Price up from —130 to —160. Yanks added Johnson. Red Sox lost Martinez to Mets.
Chi Cubs -155
Data: Edge, Cubs. Prior and Wood outweight the Sosa trade to Baltimore. Astros lost Carlos Beltran to the Mets.
St. Louis -125
Chi Cubs -105
Data: Slight edge to defending NL Central champion Cards with addition of lefty Mark Mulder from Oakland.
SF Giants -120
LA Dodgers -110
Data: Edge to Giants after Dodgers lost All Star third baseman Adrian Beltre to the Mariners.
Chi White Sox +140
Data: Solid action for Twins, which beat up Sox last season. Rumors of Ordonez leaving Chicago don’t help.