LAS VEGAS — As I crouched over to grab two cans of black olives last week, a fellow grocer mumbled something. I said, ”Excuse me?”
“How will them O’s do this season?”
After a tick or two, I remembered I was wearing an Orioles home cap — white front, orange bill, the smiling little bird wearing a little black cap with the cursive O’s on the front.
Them beautiful Baltimore Orioles.
”Well,” I said, ”as long as they keep paying dividends.”
He hailed from Washington, has enjoyed the Nationals-Orioles rivalry and didn’t quite get my response. I grinned like that little bird as I explained that Baltimore proved pivotal to my marginally profitable MLB 2022 season.
The Orioles barely finished above .500 at 83-79. However, because so many of their victories arrived as an underdog, they netted a league-best 27.2 profit units.
I nabbed the cap as a tribute.
Underdogs? No. These were The Fabulous Underbirds.
They zapped bookmakers, along with the Dodgers on the run line, and parlays involving L.A., Houston, the Yankees and Mets.
Rampart Casino race and sports director Duane Colucci told me his book did finish in the black with baseball, the cushion just wasn’t as large as usual. Plus, one of those months had indeed been a rare loser.
“One of our worst baseball seasons ever,” he said. “Uncanny. Brutal.”
On the moneyline, the Guardians (18.1 units), Astros (13.6), Mets (12) and Mariners (10.7), according to OddsShark.com, followed Baltimore in winning double-digit profits.
On the run line — giving 1.5 runs — the Dodgers were devastating as 97 of their 111 victories came by at least two runs, dominance that returned 29.2 units of profit.
(A Dodgers’ moneyline of -250 could be whittled to -115 on the run line.)
“That trend killed us,” Colucci said. “It was brutal because they have the most backing in Las Vegas — maybe until the A’s come here, if they come here.
“But everybody bets on the Dodgers, and a lot of people have grown to bet on the Astros, as well, because they rule that [AL] West year in and year out.”
Blindly betting the Cubs and White Sox at home would have been bad deals. Both went 37-44, but the former dropped a mere 4.9 units; the latter’s typical favored status meant more risk, and a 16-unit loss.
Both would’ve been wise road wagers, though, the Cubs making 6.9 units, while the Sox made 7.8.
Chicago baseball supporters needed to pick their spots, though, since the Sox fared well away from home for three trips, from mid-June on, and again in September. In mid-August and September, the Cubs were road warriors.
For this season, William Hill has set a victory total of 77.5 on the Cubs, 35-to-1 odds on them winning the NL pennant, 75-1 on the World Series; the White Sox total is 83, 16-1 to win the AL, 28-1 the series.
At DraftKings, the Cubs are 80-1 to win it all, 35-1 for the Sox, who for the first time in 10 years will not have slugger Jose Abreu, who is now in Houston.
Colucci said notable money has been wagered on the Cubs, whose new players include starting pitcher Jameson Taillon and shortstop Dansby Swanson.
On Long Island, professional bettor Tom Barton said interest in the Cubs might be “a little overblown,” but he does believe .500 is within reach — Over 77.5 might be wise.
The Cubs are +700 (risk $100 to win $700) to take the NL Central, behind the Cardinals (-110) and Brewers +140), at the Westgate SuperBook.
“I think that’s a winnable division,” Barton said, “but I’m not sure the Cubs did enough.”
I know some sharp bettors who wait till Memorial Day, to get a feel for new rosters and rule changes, to bet on baseball.
Barton generally agreed with that tack, but he doesn’t want to miss early profits, either.
He likes the Pirates to go over a team victory total that he got at 63, which is 67.5 (Over -105, Under -115) at DraftKings.
“I’m hot on them this season,” Barton said. “No matter what they do, they’ll always be dogs and you don’t want to miss the big payouts early on.”
For the NL Cy Young Award, he got Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff at 50-1 (he’s 35-1 at DraftKings) for its sheer value.
Barton also snatched the Braves’ Austin Riley for NL MVP at 12-1 (15-1 DK) and said Riley to lead the NL in homers (13-1 DK) “is worth a stab.” He grabbed the Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez at 12-1 for AL MVP (7-1 DK).
“And I think the Angels make the playoffs,” Barton said. At DK, that proposition is +190 on Yes, No -225. They boast superstars Shohei Ohtani (+200 AL MVP odds at DK) and Mike Trout (+450).
(Odds and prices subject to change.)
I wore that Orioles cap Monday to shop at a sportsbook, and the ticket writer erupted. A Baltimore native, he raved about the team’s young talent.
The franchise has a history, too. Over the last 10 full seasons, according to the Covers.com database, the Orioles have turned in three of the nine most-profitable campaigns, netting 36.5 units in 2012 and 31.6 in ’14.
If they continue being the Underbirds, I’ll be grabbing an all-black Baltimore away cap — of course, with the little grinning Oriole on the front — come next winter.