The Los Angeles Dodgers are 25-1 to win the 2002 World Series, according to the latest Las Vegas Sports Consultants odds sheet. Make that futures bet now.
The reason? Well, the Dodgers have signed another foreign-born pitcher. Past history suggests this is a very good thing.
The Dodgers organization began their immigration of pitchers over 20 years ago with Mexican lefty Fernando Valenzuela. Behind Fernandomania, the Dodgers went on to win the 1985 World Series.
Last week, Los Angeles inked Japanese star Kazuhisa Ishii to a $12.3 million deal over four years. Not only did the Dodgers pull off this year’s version of Ichiro, but they brought Hideo Nomo back for old time sake.
The Dodgers are hoping Ishii will ignite an inconsistent starting rotation and make up for the loss of Chan Ho Park, who elected to test the free agent waters rather than re-sign.
“We understand the magnitude of this signing in Japan and the popularity of Ishii,” Los Angeles general manager Dan Evans said in an Associated Press story. “I’m excited. As you can see, he’s got a lot of personality.”
The Dodgers owned one of the major league’s top starting pitching rotations in the early 90s with Valenzuela leading a foreign contingent that included Nomo, Park and another Mexico native Ismael Valdes.
Putting Ishii on a staff that includes ace right-hander Kevin Brown and offseason acquisition Omar Daal should provide the stablility Los Angeles has been lacking in the starting rotation.
Much fuss was made about the Dodgers dealing Gary Sheffield to Atlanta and losing their best offensive player, but Shawn Green is capable of a 50-homer season. Also, Brian Jordan comes over to L.A. as one of baseball’s top clutch hitters. Jordan is a better defensive player and his offensive stats were not far from Sheffield last year.
Plus, Sheffield’s combative attitude is gone. Jordan will seem like a breath of fresh air in the clubhouse. Again, those 25-1 odds look lovely.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board released figures late last week showing that over $71.5 million was wagered in Nevada’s 151 sports books for Super Bowl XXXVI.
Board chairman Dennis Neilander said that unaudited figures showed a sports book win of over $2.3 million.
The number of wagers totaled over $71.5 million, a high mark particularly with the NFL not using the usual two-week period between the league championship games and the Super Bowl.
The win margin of more than $2.3 million was far off last year’s $11 million, but was not as bad as 1998 when the books came away with just $472,033 from more than $77 million in wagers.
The hold percentage this year was 3.3 percent, fourth lowest in the past 10 years. Four times during that period, the sports books had a hold of at least 10 percent, including last year’s high of 16.3 when the Baltimore Ravens beat the NY Giants.
New England upset St. Louis 20-17 as a 14-point underdog last Sunday to capture Super Bowl XXXVI.
Chan Ho Park