Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Final Playoff Tally

Games: 14-10, +15.66 units

Futures: 9-1, +20.25 units

Hooray for running good!

Thanks to everyone who stuck around for these.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No Play Tonight

Tough way to lose last night, but these things happen.

I think the mid-game line is fairly accurate for tonight, so no play there.

YTD Games: 14-10, +15.66 units

YTD Futures: 7-1, +10.06 units, Phi WS bets pending

Somebody Is Doing It Wrong

All from SBR-rated online books:

Team to win the Eastern Conference Southeast Division
Atlanta Hawks 22/1

Team to win the Eastern Conference Southeast Division
Charlotte Bobcats 35/1


To win the 2008/09 Southeast Division
Washington Wizards +900

MAGIC +105

If you're math-challenged, you should at least be able to compare that last line to this one:

Team to win the 2009 Southeast Division
Orlando Magic -170
Any Other Team +140


Monday, October 27, 2008

On World Series Odds

We've now seen odds for five games of the World Series, which is enough to test the efficiency of some proposition bets.

For games 1-4, I used an approximate no-vig betting line near the closing price:

Game 1: Phi -101
Game 2: Phi +165
Game 3: Phi +112
Game 4: Phi +104

Games 5-7 contain the opening no-vig line for Game 5 and extrapolated odds for Games 6 and 7, based on previous game lines:

Game 5: Phi -170
Game 6: Phi +165
Game 7: Phi +165

By the way, if you want to argue that home-field advantage shouldn't be enough to move the game line from -101 to -170 with the same pitching matchup, you're preaching to the choir. Moving on...

- Based on these lines, the series line "should" have been Phi +141, which isn't far off the mid-market line of about Phi +132.
- The series breaks down thusly:

Phi in 4

Phi in 5

Phi in 6

Phi in 7


Tam in 4

Tam in 5

Tam in 6

Tam in 7


I took a few bets concerning the exact series result. I won't grade them because they were off-market lines--that's basically the only way to make money on this kind of bet--but you can see why it pays to do these calculations yourself:

Tam wins 4-3 (+650)
Phi wins 4-3 (+800)
Phi wins 4-1 (+805 and +750)
Tam wins 4-2 (+465)
WS lasts 7 games (+380)
Phi wins 4-1 (+330; bet after Game 3) - Game odds say 30.7%

Bodog also had some other props that they set terrible lines for:

Phi wins G1 and WS (+275) - Game odds say 28.6%
Tam wins G1 and WS (+225) - Game odds say 36.9%
7-game series, Phi wins G1 (+750) - Game odds say 16.9%
7-game series, Tam wins G1 (+850) - Game odds say 14.6%

For the most part, however, the books were dealing good enough lines on these props that you were better off betting individual games.

Some more exotic props included "Will the winning team clinch at home?" or point spreads like Tampa+1.5, where you won if Tampa won the series or "covered" by losing 4-3. These were only offered at a couple of books, and those books were consistent with the individual game lines.

All in all, not a bad job; only four sportsbooks--and only one big online book--contributed to the off-market lines, and the vast majority of the good bets were from Bodog.

10/27 Picks

Tam +167 (2)

YTD Games: 14-9, +17.66 units

YTD Futures: 7-1, +10.06 units, Phi WS bets pending

Friday, October 24, 2008

10/25 Picks

Phi +111 (1)

YTD Games: 13-9, +16.55 units

YTD Futures: 7-1, +10.06 units, Phi WS bets pending

Thursday, October 23, 2008

10/23 Games

Phi +150 (1)

I may or may not actually play this, because I don't want to be the douchebag who's rooting against the Rays at the Trop tonight. Still, it's a good value.

YTD Games: 13-8, +17.55 units

YTD Futures: 7-1, +10.06 units, Phi WS bets pending

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series Game 1 Trip Report

This will be short and sweet, since I'm tired from a day of air travel and sleep deprivation.

Seats were great (thanks Thremp):

Game was fun. I lost my bet, but it was close for nine innings even though the Phillies dominated the stat sheet.

The Rays fans really brought the noise and enthusiasm for the most part. Of course there were some lulls, especially after the double plays, but the overall energy level in the stadium was quite an experience.

As for the Trop itself, it's an absolute eyesore from the outside, but the concourse is actually fairly nice, reminiscent of other newer ballparks I've visited. The catwalks are obviously completely unnecessary, and they serve to detract somewhat from the viewing experience. However, it was fun to root for every pop fly to hit or miss a catwalk.

Other quick hits:

- I had a Cuban sandwich for dinner, judging it to be the most regional item on the menu. It was pretty poorly done, possibly because they jammed it onto a sandwich press with four others to save time, or possibly because the meat was far too dry.

- After witnessing the Ray Team girls in person, I'm beginning to think every MLB team could use cheerleaders.

- An enormous number of fans came to the park wearing customized Rays jerseys with their own names on the back. You see these people at games every now and then, but usually only a few per night. I'd estimate that the Trop had at least a dozen per section.

I had thought this was because the Rays are a historically bad franchise that lacked players good enough to market to jersey buyers, but most of the custom duds utilized the new team colors and logo, so the jerseys were purchased this year. Maybe it's a Florida thing.

- The Bo Hart Award* went to a couple of guys who bought one white Rays jersey and one gray Phillies jersey, cut each lengthwise, and sewed together two half-and-half jerseys. Sitting next to each other, they looked like an Oreo cookie. Again, this is something I've seen before, but I've never understood why anyone would make such a statement about himself.

*Remember Bo Hart? He was the Cardinals' scrappy middle infielder before David Eckstein came along. He hit .400 for about three weeks after being called up in 2003, then immediately fell off the face of the earth. Still, to this day, I have never gone to a Cardinals game--even one at Wrigley Field--without seeing at least one fan with a Bo Hart jersey or T-shirt. This led me to christen an award for the worst jersey you see a fan wearing at a game. The mulatto jerseys barely beat out an authentic red Shawn Riggans model.

Edit: Oh, and Thremp after five large beers is obnoxious and likes to wish for players to contract STDs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WS Game 1

Tam +100 (1)

LOL Bodog (Part II)

So...the Phillies, if they win Game 1, are more likely to lose the series than win it?

Most books don't allow correlated parlays; Bodog designs them for you.

I'm playing both win-win props, and you should too.

Monday, October 20, 2008

LOL Bodog

WS to last 7 games +380

I'm not going to grade this, because it's just a $100 limit Bodog prop, but anyone with a Bodog account should hit this now before they fix it. I have the correct line at +219.

Edit: They also have two similar props:

Phillies win Game 1 AND series lasts 7 games +750
Rays win Game 1 AND series lasts 7 games +850

The second bet is better in my opinion, since the Rays should be favored to win Game 1, but both are good.

Edit 2: And others:

Phillies win series 4-3 +800
Rays win series 4-3 +650

10/20 Futures

Phi WS +139 (1)

YTD Games: 13-7, +18.55 units

YTD Futures: 7-1, +10.06 units, Phi WS bet pending

Sunday, October 19, 2008

10/19 Games

Tam +120 (2)

YTD: 12-7, +16.15 units

Saturday, October 18, 2008

10/18 Games

Bos +132 (2)

YTD: 11-7, +13.51 units

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

10/15: No plays

YTD: 11-6, +16.51 units

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 12 Games

Tam +135 (2)

Yes, I'm determined to lose any money that Sonnanstuck made me this year.

YTD: 10-6, +13.81 units

Graded futures: 4-1, +4.00 units

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day 10/11 Games

Add: Phi +152 (1 additional) for tonight

Tomorrow: Tam +165 (2)

Day 10 Futures

Tampa to win AL +150 (1)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day 10 Games

No play on tonight's Bos-Tam game.

Tomorrow: Phi +139 (1)

YTD: 8-5, +8.99 units

Graded futures: 4-1, +4.00 units

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Love Those Headlines

"When Rays in hard place, Shields a rock"

Yep, that's right. When Tampa is in a tough spot, their Game 1 starter is there to make sure they get caught there.

Day 8 Games

Phi +101 (2)
Tam -111 (1)

YTD: 7-4, +8.08 units

Graded futures: 4-1, +4.00 units

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Round 2 Futures

Rays to win ALCS +130 (1)

The Phi/LAD series line and Game 1 line both look like passes at this point.

YTD: 7-4,

Graded futures: 3-1, +3.00

Monday, October 06, 2008

Day 6 Games

Tam +115 (2)


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Day 5 Games

Bos -170 (2)
Tam +137 (3)

YTD: 6-2, +12.18

Graded futures: 2-0, +3.00

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Day 4 Games

LAD +125 (1)

YTD: 5-2, +10.93

Friday, October 03, 2008

And The Cherry-Picker Of The Year Is...

This guy.

If you're going to define a prediction as "accurate" based on the results, I think it should have to fit a couple of simple criteria: it suggests a higher chance of a team winning than the public thinks, and that team goes on to win.

Here's what I don't call accurate: Forecast five different things, then gloat when only one of them comes to fruition.

Take a look at this prediction, and see if you can spot the part where they say the Phillies are a good bet.

Did you miss it? I'm not surprised. It's tucked away at the end, long after they pimp the Brewers not one but four times:

"For game one, we said the Phillies were big favorites, having won 676 of our 1,000 sim runs. We just finished 1,000 runs of game 2 on our Diamond Mind simulation, and The Sim expects different results today. With C.C. Sabathia on the mound, that's no surprise, really. But the key might be whether repeatedly pitching on 3-days' rest might start to catch up to him, and he threw 122 pitches on Sunday. With that in mind, we ran our simulation 3 ways:

1. Sabathia is not significantly affected by the short rest (something he showed over the past couple of weeks).
In this scenario, the Brewers win 59.5% of the 1,000 simulation runs we did, scoring an average of 5.0 runs compared to 3.8 for the Phillies.

2. He is affected by the short rest. We ran the simulation 2 ways, one where the fatigue factor assumed is mild and one we'd project as normal for him. Using "mild" fatigue, Milwaukee wins 7 fewer games out of 1,000 sim runs of today's game, reducing their projected odds of victory to 58.8%. However, when we used "normal" fatigue, based on Sabathia's pitcher durability ratings in the 2008 version of our Diamond Mind Online game, the Brew Crew won only 528 times out of 1,000 sim runs.

Keys to the Game: Sabathia's durability.

And, just as getting on base was the key for Philadelphia in game one (as The Sim predicted), not getting on base looks like it will be the Phils' downfall in game 2. Sabathia's control is critical here - if he is tired and does not have his typical excellent control, the Brewers could be in trouble.

If you're looking for likely hitting stars, the sim points to surprisingly good odds that Milwaukee infielders Craig Counsel and Ray Durham will have a good day, each scoring a number of multi-hit games, while the Phillies might pitch around Prince Fielder, who shows a high number of walks.
Philadelphia starter Brett Myers does not fare well in many of the sim runs, and his bullpen mates fare even worse, indicating that this could turn into a Brewer rout by the end.

In any case, the key point of leverage here is Sabathia - if he's on, the Brewers will likely pull even. But if the heavy pitching load he's been carrying lately starts to catch up with him, this odds becomes much closer. The key might be his pitch count - watch his control, especially in the middle to late innings. And if the Phillies get to the Brewer bullpen early, they become the favorites, according to The Sim.*

Oh, and did we say Sabathia's durability is a key factor?"

*If you couldn't figure out on your own that the Phillies were the favorites if Sabathia got knocked out of the game early, go unsubscribe from this blog right now.

If you're counting at home, that's five predictions, four of them inconsistent with the game's outcome. Guess which one they highlighted on the summary page?

They needed five predictions to get one right; I bet I can do the same for Game 3 of this series:

1. Philadelphia will win a blowout
2. Philadelphia will win a close game
3. Milwaukee will win a blowout
4. Milwaukee will win a close game
5. Bud Selig declares the game a tie

Hooray for accuracy!

Math Is Hard

Note to Hal Bodley: You do not understand math.

To use a real example from this year's playoffs, the Tampa Bay Rays were 64% favorites to win their ALDS against the White Sox. That number rockets all the way up to 64.9% if the two teams had to play seven games instead of five.

That's a 0.9% difference. Keep that in mind.

"A five-game series in baseball is like getting all dressed up for the big dance and the music stops before you walk through the ballroom door."

I've never been rejected from a dance before. Apparently Hal Bodley has, possibly because the dance director was a big believer in the current playoff system and was making a statement. Either way, I'd have to imagine that if this happened to me, I would consider that more than a 0.9% loss in my enjoyment of the dance.

"To me, after playing 162 games the Division Series should be a best-of-seven. Period. Most managers and players agree."

How much documentation does he have for this statement? None? Okay.

If you want to get an unbiased opinion of how to improve the system, there's nothing quite like asking the people who will get paid more if the setup changes.

"That happened to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1977 LCS against the Dodgers. The teams split the first two games, but the Dodgers rallied in a bizarre ninth inning of Game 3 to win, 6-5. The Phillies lost the next night and it was over. "We were lucky," said former Dodgers skipper Tommy Lasorda. "If it had gone seven games, the Phillies had a good chance of beating us." "

Probably about one-in-eight.

By the way, I love how he glosses over the Game 4 loss, as if it meant nothing.

"Joe Torre, now the Dodgers skipper, has won the LCS more times than any other manager.

"I've always thought that if you're good enough to win your division, or even to reach the playoffs, it's not right to have the chance to get blown out in a three-of-five series," said Torre, who was so successful in his years with the Yankees."

I say that when the Dodgers beat the Cubs this weekend, Torre rejects his invitation to the NLCS, demanding that the Dodgers have to win a fourth game to really "earn" it.

" "You've done too much to get there over the course of 162 games. In a best-of-five, a team may have a hot pitcher that you face twice and the chances of a better team getting knocked out are great. Bottom line: Four of seven is much fairer." "

0.9% = much fairer.

" Bobby Cox: "The smartest thing is to sweep as quickly as you can." "

If a Hall of Fame manager says his team should try to win the first three games of the series, rather than stopping at two, then that's good enough for me.

"Or as veteran Braves pitcher John Smoltz puts it: "We compete and struggle and work hard from Spring Training through a grueling season. I never felt a short series was an accurate test of the true strength of the teams playing each other. A Wild Card team can come into a series against a team with the best record and have two hot starting pitchers and win it all."

And the music stops before you know what happened."

I have a novel idea. Why don't we have each team play a large number of games--say, 162--and award the championship to the team with the best record? After all, that would be more fair, and it would remove the problems with the playoffs, like excitement and upsets. I'm sure Kirk Gibson's 1988 homer would have been just as legendary in a meaningless 162nd game with the Dodgers already eliminated.

Day 3 Games

Bos +123 (1)
Tam -149 (1)

YTD: 3-2, +8.68

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Daily Rant

A lot of the color commentary in today's Rays-Sox game is focused on how Tampa Bay has "overcome the culture of losing year-in, year-out".

Here is today's Rays starting lineup, along with when each player joined the Rays' major-league club:

Akinori Iwamura (2007)
B.J. Upton (2004)
Carlos Pena (2007) - Replaced by Willy Aybar (2008)
Evan Longoria (2008)
Carl Crawford (2002)
Cliff Floyd (2008)
Dioner Navarro (mid-2006)
Gabe Gross (mid-2008)
Jason Bartlett (2008)

James Shields (mid-2006)

In six out of ten instances, the Rays have been better than .500 since that player joined the team. Two others were added in mid-2006; they've hardly suffered to get this far. Four of the batters (five counting Aybar) have never been on a Rays team that won fewer than 97 games.

I'm just sayin'.

ADDENDUM: Look at the 2005 Tampa page on BB-Ref. Two players from that team are still around: Crawford and Scott Kazmir. (Trever Miller left, then came back in 2008; Jonny Gomes is not on the ALDS roster.) No one else even made a cameo appearance on both teams. That's an amazing turnover, and people need to stop talking like the 2008 edition is the same hapless team from five years ago.

Day 2 Futures

Bos -200 to win ALDS

Pretty straightforward value based on my estimates.

This series line has never made sense. Extrapolating lines for Games 4 and 5 from the Game 1 and 2 lines (since the pitching matchups are the same), the single game lines were only consistent with the Bos +125 series line (and the -200 now) if the books think the Angels are even money to win Game 3 at Boston with a Saunders-Beckett matchup, which is laughable.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Day 2 Games

Phi +125 (2)
ChW +170 (1)
LAD +160 (3)

YTD: 1-1, +2.38 units

Day 1 Games

LAD +146 (3 units)
Mil +190 (2)

Playoff Bets: Futures

Moving right along...

Dodgers +200 to win NLDS
Cubs -145 to NOT win NL

This series line is ludicrous. Maybe gamblers think the Cubs are due, or they like the round number of 100 years, or Cubs fans just have a lot of money and want to back them. It doesn't really matter; the Dodgers are not your typical 84-win team, and they're actually starting their best pitchers at the front of their playoff rotation, unlike the Cubs.

I make the true line Cubs -108. +200 is an outright steal.

The NL line follows similar logic; the Cubs are going to be overrated in both their playoff series, so why not bet against them in both at the same time?

Milwaukee +164 to win NLDS

Not as clear-cut, but still worthwhile. The Brewers are getting C.C. Sabathia for two starts in the series, and Yovani Gallardo is a capable replacement for Ben Sheets. The gap between the
offenses is not large, and the bullpens are roughly even except for the closers.

Milwaukee +1500 to win the World Series is also tempting, but betting them in every series is probably better, especially if they face the Cubs. They're just crazy enough to start Sabathia three times in a seven-game series, which is a huge bonus.

Philadelphia +880 to win World Series

If you're a fan of hedge funds, the last two bets make a nice combo of solid ROI and low risk. I don't see how Philly can be a 5-1 dog to win the World Series if they advance to the NLCS, which is what these two lines imply. Even though there's a talent gap between the leagues, the AL playoff field is not especially strong, and I don't see the Phils being a big dog in the World Series unless they face a healthy Red Sox team.

Tampa Bay +326 to win AL

Apparently the oddsmakers at Pinnacle still don't think this team is for real.

Interestingly, the Rays opened at -160 to win their ALDS--a fair price by my figuring--so this line implies they'd be a +160 dog in the ALCS, on average. I have them favored to win the ALCS should they get there, so one of us is off by a lot. Hopefully it isn't me.

Angels -400 to NOT win World Series

I've been over this a million times: the Angels are the third-best team in the AL, and the fifth-best playoff team overall. They'd probably be better off if the playoffs were a series of coin flips, which would make -700 the fair price for this bet.