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Padres call up Suppan for Wednesday start
San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - The Padres on Wednesday purchased the contract ...
As the oldest of the major three sports, baseball has a vast and unique history that can’t be matched by football and basketball. While baseball isn’t as popular among sports bettors as football or basketball, the sport has been actively wagered on since the early 20th century.
In the first half of the 20th century, football and basketball were both in developmental stages. On the other hand, baseball was establishing itself as America’s national pastime. With big stars, like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, leading the way, the sport took off in the 1920′s. Ironically, the decade began with a betting scandal tied to the biggest event in baseball.
After the 1920 season, the baseball world was shocked by the “Black Sox” scandal. A year after the fact, it was learned that New York gangster Arnold Rothstein had paid off eight Chicago White Sox players to fix the 1919 World Series. In the series, the White Sox were a heavy favorite over the Cincinnati Reds. With the fix in place, Rothstein was able to win big by betting on the underdog Reds to win the series (Cincinnati won the series five games to three). In the fallout, the eight White Sox players were banned for life from Major League Baseball prior to the 1921 season.
The success of Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees right after this scandal saved baseball from getting swept up in the “Black Sox” controversy. Seven decades later, baseball was hit by another betting scandal that shocked the sport. After a legendary playing career, all-time hits leader Pete Rose became the full-time manager of the Cincinnati Reds prior to the 1987 season (Rose was a player-manager for the club from 1984-86).
During the Reds spring training camp in 1989, reports began to circulate that Major League Baseball was actively investigating Rose for betting on baseball. In late August, he was banned for life from Major League Baseball. While it wasn’t officially for betting on baseball, the evidence that Rose did so was overwhelming. After denying that he bet on baseball when the ban was handed down in 1989, Rose admitted to betting on games (including ones involving the Reds) over a decade later.
While these betting scandals have rocked the baseball establishment, wagering on baseball is enjoyed by many serious and novice sports bettors every spring and summer.
Baseball Betting Basics
Baseball betting is quite different from football and basketball wagering. There are no point spreads in baseball wagering. Because there are only eight or nine runs scored in a typical Major League Baseball game, there isn’t really enough scoring in the sport to justify a point spread. Therefore, the most common baseball wager is a money line or straight bet.
In these type of wagers, the bettor simply wagers on which team will score the most runs in a baseball game without any regards to the margin of victory. Here’s what a typical money line might look like for a Major League Baseball game:
Red Sox (+140)
To some novice bettors, these numbers can seem confusing. The easiest way to understand these figures is to use $100 as a base number/amount for each price. In this example, New York is the favorite as the team with the minus figure. To win $100 on a Yankees wager, the bettor would need to wager $160.
As the underdog, Boston has a plus price. With a plus price, the bettor can simply wager $100 to win $140 on the Red Sox. In these money line bets, there is no vigorish or juice. However, the bookmaker does establish a kind of fee for the money line odds. The example listed above is known as a 20-cent line.
There is a numerical difference of 20 in the odds between the Red Sox and Yankees. Novice bettors sometimes are confused by this difference. Because Boston isn’t at a price of +160, the bookmaker is able to keep a little more of the handle on these types of bets.
The closest thing that baseball has to a point spread wager is a run line bet. In these type of bets, the favored team is listed at -1.5 runs. So, the favored club in a run line bet must win by two runs or more. The underdog team is installed at +1.5 runs. The non-favorite must win the game or lose by just a single run for the bettor to win his run line wager on the underdog.
A money line figure is also attached to these odds and is determined by using the straight line on the game as a foundation to come up with the appropriate price to be attached to the plus or minus 1.5 figure. Total or over/under bets in baseball work in the same general format as total wagers in football and basketball.
Another unique aspect in baseball wagering involves the starting pitchers. While a football or basketball squad will field the same basic squad for every game, a baseball team won’t necessarily be at the same general level from game to game. This is due to the starting pitching that is a part of the game. MLB clubs will go with a rotation of five starting pitchers. These hurlers will pitch about every five days. The specific starting pitcher on a given day for a given team can have a huge impact on the line. So, the starting pitchers for each team are listed next to each team in the betting odds rundown.