March 30, 2004

Opening Day! (Sort of)

It's very likely that by the time you read this, the first game of the 2004 Major League Baseball season will have been played.

The Yankees and Devil Rays start the season in Japan, with a game that begins at five a.m. Eastern time. I'll be watching the game, although I'm not a big fan of starting the season with a game on another continent.

I like it much better when everyone starts on the day, because this current setup, while somewhat interesting, makes Opening Day a whole lot less dramatic and special.

Anyway, what the Yankees and D-Rays playing in Japan today does allow me to do is start up my "Today's Picks" for 2004.

Those of you who were around last season will remember that I make daily picks on various MLB games, using the Las Vegas "betting lines" provided to me by a certain sports gambling website that shall remain nameless. I keep track of my hypothetical wins and losses all season long.

For those unfamiliar with how baseball betting works, here's a quick little explanation...

Say you have two teams, New York and Chicago. The "betting line" for the game will look something like this:

New York -150 vs. Chicago +140

What that means is that New York is the favorite, and to win $100 on them you need to bet $150. On the other hand, Chicago is the underdog, and if you bet $100 on them, you win $140.

Pretty simple, right?

During the season, I will usually pick between 1-5 games to place pretend "bets" on each day. And I'll post them here, so you can keep track of me whether I'm winning or losing. Each hypothetical bet will have a baseline of $100. Meaning, with the above New York/Chicago example, I would be betting $150 to win $100 on New York, and betting $100 to win $140 on Chicago.

My basic strategy is to avoid picking big favorites, because their odds are so bad. For instance, I would typically avoid taking Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox against Nate Cornejo and the Tigers, simply because the risk (probably somewhere around -350 or maybe even -400) is not worth the reward.

At the same time, I typically take a ton of heavy underdogs. In fact, if the Red Sox and Pedro were -375 or something against the Tigers, I would likely take Detroit.

I'm not sure if this is a particularly brilliant strategy, but it worked out pretty well for me last season. Despite picking a ton of underdogs all year long, I ended up going 242-238, which was good for $3,095 in purely hypothetical winnings.

Late in the year, I was doing so well that people actually started e-mailing me for gambling tips, which, if you read about my trip to Las Vegas, is pretty funny.

Anyway, to christen the 2004 season, here is the first edition of "Today's Picks":

Today's Picks:

Devil Rays (Zambrano) +210 over New York (Mussina)

Total to Date: $0

W/L Record: 0-0

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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