(The below post is for entertainment purposes only. True Blue LA and its affiliated partners don't support gambling outside of Nevada, New Jersey and the Cayman Islands. If you or someone you know is showing signs of gambling addiction, visit nongambler.com for help. You are the solution.)
For the first time in my life I was in Vegas before the baseball season started up, and I was in the perfect position to get myself some free money. After all, the majority of the people there will throw down 100 on the Cubbies and not give it a second thought. Since the massive amount of brain space I spend on baseball will ensure that I lead a life of celibacy, I might as well get some good out of it. I came to Vegas hearing tales of 22-1 odds on the Dodgers and the Mariners getting an over under of 86.5 wins. While visions of sugar plums danced in my head as I stood in line at the sports book, I got a quick reality check. People that were far more punctual than me swooped in and took all the great bets that I had heard about. The Dodgers dropped to 6-1 and the only good bet on the World Champion that was listed was the Brewers, a team that I'm not all that enthusiastic about, at 22-1. Even that went out the window when I learned that switched to 15-1 sometime between me picking up the betting sheet and walking up to the window.
This left my only bets for the year on over/unders so I'll be rooting for the following teams to fail miserably this year:
Mariners, under 84 wins. Simply not that good of a team that's due for a regression after out performing their third order wins by 10 games last year and getting some valuable seasons out of dross like Jose Vidro. Outside of a starting rotation lead by Felix Hernandez and Eric Bedard, the Mariners don't bring anything to the table. Their best offensive players are Ichiro and Adrian Beltre, whatever defensive assets they have are more than cancelled out by the Raul Ibanez and Richie Sexson sideshow, and the bullpen is very middle reliever filled outside of J.J. Putz. People are assuming that the Mariners are a lock for second in the AL West, but they should fight all season long with the A's and the Rangers for last place.
Padres, under 85 wins: For the reasons that I wrote about last Wednesday. The Padres excelled the last few years despite looking terrible on paper thanks to a stellar defense and a great stadium. Without the stellar defense, they're as bad as they look this year.
And since I'm not totally negative, Rays, over 76.5 wins: This isn't a lock like I think the other two bets are, but there's still a good chance of this working out. The Rays start the year with the best rotation they've ever had in Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza, Andy Sonnasstine and Edwin Jackson, along with three highly rated prospects backing them up. As a bonus, the team looks like it won't be defensively incompetent for the first time since 2004 with only Jonny Gomes looking to be a major liability. Combine this with an offense that already started to establish themselves last year, and you have a team that PECOTA thinks will win 88 games this year. I'm not nearly that enthusiastic about the team, but I think 77 is more than likely.
After the beating I took at the blackjack table last Friday, it would be nice to break even six months later.