It’s funny how this sport, and every other major league sport, has done a 180 on its opinion or and support for gambling.
Ever since the Black Sox scandal of 1919, gambling has been a taboo subject in Major League Baseball, and rightfully so. The integrity of the game is the most important thing. Once fans start thinking the games are rigged, why pay attention.
But in the past decade, major league sports are embracing gambling. The NFL has always existed as a vehicle for gambling. Without it, it would be a shell of what it is. But MLB has historically frowned upon it. So much so that it would ban players from public involvement in the sport if they took jobs as casino greeters.
But windfall amounts of cash have a way of changing minds. And baseball was no different. Betting sites like Draft Kings and Fan duel came along looking like daily fantasy baseball contests but, in reality, they were daily on-line betting parlors. MLB bought a stake in Draft Kings.
Then Bally’s bought many of the local baseball networks. Bally’s is a casino brand. Bally’s started running betting lines along the crawlers at the bottom of broadcasts. Then, Draft Kings and Bally’s betting lines started to infiltrate MLB Network Radio, with the announcers routinely talking about betting lines, even creating programming around it.
This is, of course, different from the White Sox throwing the World Series or Pete Rose betting on his team to win (and, subsequently, when he didn’t bet on his team to win he was signally to other gamblers to bet on them to lose).
But how much different is it, really? When money is at stake, especially the potential for large sums of it, greed and criminality are never far behind.
For now, the money is just too good for the league and the players association (who make money licensing out players names and likenesses) to pass up.
It makes you wonder how the odds makers, gamblers, and the people who make their living on such things approach the Texas Rangers. How could anyone possibly predict this team?
Some days it looks unbeatable. Others it looks like they can’t fight their way out of a wet paper sack. They sweep the season series against the Phillies. They split against the Tigers. They lose to teams they shouldn’t lose to. Can’t generate offense for games at a time. Then turn around and dominate. They haven’t won more than four games in a row. But haven’t lost more than five in a row.
They inch their way to .500. Then fall back.
Predictability is the key to oddsmaking. And the one word you can rightfully use for this Rangers team is odd.
Hard to figure out. A lot more fun to watch, though, than the past five years.
If they can just be a little more predictable. But don’t bet on that this year.