The sports world may have stopped dead it in tracks, but you can still lay down a bet on your favorite baseball team(s). Despite the foreboding cloud of concern that has settled over the globe, there is hope that a cooling-off period should flatten the curve of COVID-19’s spread enough to allow various seasons and tournaments to resume in a few weeks.
Illinois has officially declared that it will not play host to large events until at least May 1, and ESPN’s Jeff Passan is reporting that many around MLB believe the same will be true across the country. As such, futures odds haven’t changed since the advent of the moratorium. It’s not unheard of for an injury to occur during training or for a player to throw out his back while taking his pants off, so a break in the action doesn’t necessarily mean a static betting market.
That said, those of you who are bullish on the David Ross Effect may want to marshal your resources and lay some money down. As of post time, the Cubs’ odds to win the World Series were at +2500, much longer than they’ve been in recent memory. That’s actually not too bad in the overall scope of things, putting them in a tie for 11th in MLB and seventh in the NL.
As if you needed further proof that the NL Central was going to be tight, take a look at how bunched up the Cubs are with the Cardinals (+2000) and the Reds (+2500). The Brewers and Pirates, on the other hand, fall outside the top 15 and are thereby irrelevant to our conversation here. Like, even more so than usual.
Though it bears only anecdotal relation to the Cubs, it’s interesting to see the White Sox (+2500) and Angels (+2500) right there with them. And wow, look at what used to be the N Least trying to shift that L back and be a legit division again. What figures to be an intense race between the Braves (+1400) Nationals (+1800), Mets (+2000), and Phillies (+2200) will be made even more so by the abbreviated season.
Or maybe not, since some within the sport believe they can still find a way to make up for lost time. White Sox SVP of Communications Scott Reifert told Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago that “the long range plan is still to play 162 games this season.” That seems like a monumental task and not at all realistic, so let’s go ahead and take it with a grain of salt and wait to see what comes over the next few weeks.
Even if you’re not the betting type, and I myself merely dabble for the sake of entertainment value, you may be interested in how some of the benchmarks from this offseason influenced the lines above.
- Jan. 10: Both the Dodgers (+600) and Astros (+600) have narrowed the gap somewhat on the Yankees since mid-December, but NYY is still far and away the 2020 favorite.
- Jan. 13: The Astros (+600) have not seen their odds move – yet – after the league suspended manager AJ Hinch for the entire season. But don’t expect that to be true for much longer.
- Jan. 23: Houston’s odds are starting to fade somewhat, falling from +600 to +667 over the past ten days.
- Jan. 28: After dropping as far as +750, the Astros are trending back the other way (+683) after hiring Dusty Baker as manager. The Twins have also moved up significantly (+1567).
- Feb. 5: The Mookie Betts trade has the Dodgers closing the gap on the Yankees, going from +600 to +533. Expect them to keep trending in that direction.
- Feb. 18: The Twins (+1600) have entered the top-five favorites. In related news, Josh Donaldson saw his AL MVP odds go from +6600 to +3300.
- Mar. 5: All the spring training injuries to the Yankees (+350) have resulted in the Dodgers (+305) jumping them in the odds.
Now that sports gambling is legal in Illinois, both of our readers in the greater Chicago region can lay money down on the Cubs in person before everyone figures out that they’ve merely been sandbagging for the last two seasons. Between their new manager and a penchant for waiting until May to turn things on, this might be a profitable season on the North Side.
Ed. note: The casinos have apparently closed, so maybe see about finding a friend in Vegas.