March 28, 2006
Propositions Decent and Indecent
You know what a proposition is? It's where someone approaches you with an idea you would have never thought of and asks you for money you didn't think you had. In sports betting, a proposition is usually a battle-within-a-battle, like which of two players will hit more home runs or which of two players will receive more Hall of Fame votes.
Today, we're going to put the standings aside and look at some team propositions. What follows are five pairs of teams that either finished very close to one another in 2005 and/or are predicted to do so in 2006. Aside from that, there is a geographic component just to add subtext to the proceedings. In addition to the five pairs, there is one quartet of teams that also sort of fits this description. Your job is to pick which of these teams will win more games in the upcoming season.
Florida Marlins vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
In any event, when and if the Marlins do leave, they are going to miss the Rays as a cross-state whipping boy. In most seasons, they've been able to improve their lot by having six games against their Gulf Coast brothers. Last year, they took them out all six times and hold a 28-15 overall advantage. In terms of seasonal records, the Marlins tanked the first two years of the rivalry after their last build-down but have bested Tampa Bay by an average of 17.5 games since. That is supposed to change this year. Now, they both appear headed for approximately the same fate: win totals in the 60s. Have the Marlins really gotten that bad and have the Rays done anything of note to staunch the copious amount of bleeding their pitchers allowed last year? Other than letting Scott Kazmir mature for another season and not having to count on Dewon Brazelton or Hideo Nomo to start any games, isn't this basically a pitching unit of the same quality as the one that allowed a baseball-high 936 runs in 2005?
Because the Rays have not yet addressed their pitching, it's going to be tough to hand them the Florida championship on a silver platter heading into the season. While it seems as though they should win the thing 69 to 63, a few breaks here or there could make it a lot closer.
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
While it would seem that this proposition has more substance than the rest on this list, is it, a battle just as symbolic as, say, the Marlins-Devil Rays duel? With both teams likely to make the playoffs regardless of how they sort themselves out, it may well be.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Minnesota Twins
Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
This rivalry is not nearly nasty enough. In fact, it's not nasty at all. Texans have, apparently, expended all their rivalry juice on college and high school football. Well, all the better for our purposes. There is no time like the present to start ramping up this rivalry and I'm here to do my part by throwing a little hi-test on the fire. The Rangers fans I know say that Astros fans all live in broken-down sheds which they share with their livestock and marry their cousins whom they tether to stakes in the yard. The Astros fans I know say that Rangers fans are so stupid they think OPS stands for "Outstanding Pitching Staff"--a thing Astros fans think Rangers fans wouldn't recognize if it bit 'em in the brisket. I can't believe that either group would sit still for that kind of talk.
Ohio vs. Missouri
Ohio: 166-158, 1,610 RS 1,532 RA Missouri: 156-168, 1,504 RS 1,569 RAIt would appear that Ohio has an excellent chance at repeating in that Missouri is dependent on the Royals getting out of the 100-loss ghetto because the Cardinals are bound to slip by a few games, even in the process of romping to another divisional title. Meanwhile, the bookmakers are setting Cincinnati's over/under right about where last year's record concluded: 73 wins. A slight step backwards is anticipated for Cleveland, which would still give Ohio the upper hand.
Here's another state pride proposition for you: which state will amass the best record? To make it a little more sporting, I've tossed New York and Florida because they skew to high and too low. Combining the records of two-state teams (omitting California which has five teams), these are the approximate 2006 over/under figures, not adjusting for vig:
Given the state of the Cubs' starting pitching, picking this one probably isn't as easy as it might appear.